Explore the Arctic: An Unforgettable Sailing Expedition Through a Changing Wilderness

Photos: Ewan Harvey/Skirr Adventures

The SKIRR Adventures arctic sailing expedition is a once-in-a-lifetime voyage that takes two 68-foot yachts across 4,820 nautical miles to one of the most remote places on earth: the Arctic Circle.

The expedition is the brainchild of Clipper Ventures, the organisation running the ‘Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’. It aims to bring adventurers together to explore the planet’s hidden corners under sail.

Not only does SKIRR’s expedition provide adventurers with a perfect opportunity to explore remote areas of the world, but it serves an additional purpose. To raise awareness about the damage climate change is causing to the planet.

Climate change: a stark reminder 

On the inaugural voyage of the SKIRR Adventures expedition, 49 sailors, including some of the Clipper Race crew, sailed the five legs of the expedition. During their travels, they witnessed the raw beauty of nature and its magnificent wildlife – sights that only the most remote areas in the world can offer.

The crew marvelled at the pristine waters and the towering icebergs that dominated the landscape. But the effects of climate change could not be ignored; global warming clearly taking its toll on the majestic Arctic terrain. “We saw the retreating of the glaciers in Iceland,” writes Greg Glover, a crew member hailing from New Zealand.

“It’s such a pristine place, and I think we should do everything we can to keep it that way and behave in a way that makes the environment better, not worse, for the next generation.”

That’s one of SKIRR’s key aims: to raise awareness of the effect that climate change is having on our planet… before it’s too late.

Adventure sailing 

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, SKIRR’s expeditions give experienced sailors the chance to explore some of the most beautiful and remote places on earth. “There aren’t many opportunities to go into the wilderness,” writes Toni, a crew member who circumnavigated the globe with the Clipper Race. “The things that you see there are just exquisite.”

“This expedition showed me how wonderful our planet is and also how vulnerable she is too,” adds Tom, a French sailor. “This massive giant left alone to drift on the sea is eventually going to melt and return into the ocean without leaving a trace behind to continue perpetuating an infinite cycle of life.”

Below, we break down one of SKIRR’s previous expeditions, so you can experience everything the journey has to offer.

An expedition like no other 

At the start of July, the SKIRR yachts set sail from the bustling port of Gosport, on a quest for the Scottish Isles. The crew, ready for anything, faced a variety of conditions, from the sharp sting of upwind sailing to the relaxed beam reach as they crossed the Irish Sea.

After arriving in the Scottish Isles, the crew took a quick break on the Isle of Islay. Then, off they sailed to Tobermory, where the colourful houses were a sight for sore eyes after the “fruitest conditions so far,” according to Skipper Jake Carter. With a bit of land exploration and a few more sails, the first leg came to a close, and it was time to set a course for Iceland.

Leg 2 brought some incredible moments, as Toni Wilson, from London, recalls with excitement. “I was in a geothermal outdoor spa when the ground beneath me shook. It was an earthquake, a 5.4 on the Richter scale! We’d also been warned of an upcoming volcano eruption which indeed did occur whilst we were in Greenland. Almost on cue, we journeyed back to Iceland to see the eruption, the volcano still spewing out lava before our eyes – an absolutely thrilling experience.”

Leg 3 wasn’t for the faint-hearted, as the yachts made their way to Tasiilaq, the largest town on the East Coast of Greenland, set inside an icy fjord. On this occasion, there was so much ice that it denied the yachts access to land based adventures, but instead offered some of the most incredible seascapes with huge majestic icebergs and impressive ice packs.

After a crew changeover back in Reykjavik, Leg 4 commenced, offering a fortunate window of opportunity for the boats to head to Scoresby Sund, a 1,005 nautical mile route that crosses the Arctic Circle. In the early hours of 4 August, the two yachts crossed into the Arctic Circle, a feat to remember.

Finally, Leg 5 took the crew back to base, via the Faroe Islands, with the chance for some coastal cruising. The weather and conditions dictated a westerly route via the Irish Sea, leading the crew back to the South Coast of England. And so, the adventure came to a close, but the memories and the thrill of the journey remained.

A truly unique experience 

The SKIRR Adventures arctic sailing expedition is a one-of-a-kind journey for those who crave adventure, love nature, and have a passion for exploring on foot. If you have some sailing experience, this is the perfect opportunity to push your limits and experience something truly extraordinary.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert sailor, though – the company’s sailing school, Hamble School of Yachting, has got you covered. This summer’s five-leg expedition departs from South Coast of UK, up to explore the Scottish Isles and an offshore passage through the North Atlantic to the stunning landscapes of Iceland.

Crew will explore rock formations, sea caves and the chance to spot a smouldering volcano. There may even be a chance to experience a natural hot spring.

Depending on the ice flow as the yachts sail towards Greenland, the expedition will take one of two options: Head northwards into the Arctic Circle and to Scoresby Sund, the longest fjord in the world. Or alternatively, the expedition will go westwards towards Tasiilaq, a town set inside a fjord on the East Coast of Greenland that is often full of ice.

Then on the homeward leg, it’s back to Iceland, a stop at the wild and rugged Faroe Isles before heading back down, either taking the easterly route towards The Hague or a westerly route to the Isles of Scilly. The yachts will return back to Gosport in mid-September.

You’ll also have the opportunity to experience the thrill of adventure sailing and all the challenges and rewards that come with it.

So what are you waiting for? Set sail with SKIRR Adventures. Visit skirradventures.com for more information or, on social media, follow @skirradventures. The expeditions are booking now.