If you harbor dreams of Patagonian sailing, backcountry skiing, or Antarctic peak bagging, you’re likely familiar with Skip Novak’s Pelagic Expeditions (pelagic.co.uk), which offers high-latitude sailing adventures to charter guests. Novak is a veteran of four Whitbread Round the World Races and has spent the past several decades sailing high latitudes and taking charter guests to some of Earth’s wildest places aboard his Pelagic (54 feet, built in 1987) and Pelagic Australis (74 feet, built in 2003). He was recently involved with the build of Vinson of Antarctica, a Tony Castro-designed Pelagic 77 that was built out of bare aluminum by KM Yachtbuilders, in Makkum, the Netherlands, for owner Nicolás Ibáñez Scott, a Chilean entrepreneur and adventurer. The high-latitude adventure-sailing yacht was launched in February and is named after Mount Vinson (16,050 feet), which is Antarctica’s highest peak.
All told, Vinson of Antarctica measures 77 feet, 2 inches LOA, and carries a beam of 20 feet, 9 inches. It has a displacement of 116,000 pounds.
Vinson of Antarctica employs a schooner sail plan that’s supported by twin carbon-fiber spars that were built by Axxon Composites. This sail plan was specifically designed to evenly distribute working loads so that all running rigging can be hand-controlled via winches. The boat carries a fixed keel box and a centerboard that allows the draft to vary from 7 feet to just over 14 feet, as well as twin rudders. Auxiliary propulsion is tackled by dual 150 hp Yanmar engines, and additional power can be created by the boat’s 9-kilowatt Cummins generator. An aft-mounted gantry supports an expedition-grade RIB, and an additional RIB can be secured to the deck.
The yacht’s accommodations plan includes six staterooms and two heads that can accommodate eight charter guests and three crew. Belowdecks furniture is made from lightweight, strong and sustainable bamboo, however, the vast majority of the boat is built from bare aluminum that doesn’t involve paint or fillers.
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“It has to be a warm, cozy, comfortable boat but generally simple systems, very strongly built and robust, and bare aluminum,” said Novak in a video interview on Pelagic Yachts’ website. “I think the deck layout is superb…. It’s sort of the same concept as my 74-footer, and it works extremely well. It’s an extremely safe place to sail the boat, [with a] center cockpit and also a forward cockpit for reefing.”
As with Pelagic Australis, Vinson of Antarctica was designed around simple systems that can be crew-maintained in remote areas.
Work began on the schooner in summer 2019. Impressively, the pandemic slowed down its build schedule by only two months. The crew, which is led by skipper Kenneth Perdigon, plans to conduct sea trials on the nearby North Sea before a shakedown cruise to Norway this summer. Then Perdigon and company will sail her to Puerto Williams, Chile, possibly via the Northwest Passage, where she will begin her life as a high-latitude expedition vessel for private and charter trips, and as a platform for helping to train Chile’s next generation of sailors.