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SAIL IN ANTARCTICA
The trip: For anyone who grouses that adventure travel has become too soft, meet the Seal. The 56-foot-long aluminum cutter has no plasma TVs, no marble tubs, no Bose surround-sound speaker system. Instead, the six-passenger Seal is specially fitted for the Antarctic, with a swing-up keel to handle groundings and with watertight, well, everything. During this month-long trip through Antarctica, guests can focus on peeping at penguin colonies, iceberg-clogged coves, and frozen islands. Imagine the constant groan and splash of glaciers and the feel of the southernmost earth beneath your feet as you disembark to explore dormant volcanoes. The sail starts and ends in Puerto Williams, Chile, with a good measure of true adventure, such as when passengers harness themselves to the deck to take on Cape Horn and the Drake Passage. Nearly 24-hour daylight can make sleeping a distant thought, but the wine-stocked galley, hot showers, and private cabins add just enough softness to really enjoy the adventure.
Why go? It's the most impressiveand most genuineway to visit Antarctica.
What to pack: A permit for any research you'd like to conduct on the seventh continent: This is a real expedition, with fellow crew members likely to be taking notes on marine biology, geology, and more.
Difficulty: 6.8 out of 10. There may be vino on board, but this is no booze cruise. Sailors should be prepared to handle frigid, treacherous conditions and to help out with daily boat work.
Your guides: Kate and Hamish Laird, sailors as tough as their boat. They've been exploring Antarctica for more than 20 years and have logged 26,000 safe miles on the Seal.
Tel: 603 868 5850
28-day charter, including food, wine, and safety equipment, $52,500 for up to four people