Right now, Brian is somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean on board a wooden sailing ship (a Dutch tall ship) built in 1911. The Bark Europa usually operates in the seas between Patagonia and Antarctica, taking small groups of tourists on custom-made tours.

Brian is part of the 18-person crew on board. When the global outbreak of Covid-19 reached Patagonia in March 2020, the ship was recalled to its home base in the Netherlands. As you can imagine, this is no quick turnaround – Brian and his crewmates are returning home in the sure, steady way of the mariners of old, using the wind and the weather to their advantage.

They are currently nearing the end of their almost three-month-long journey and are somewhere west of the Azore Islands in the Atlantic Ocean (west of Portugal). You can follow their progress at barkeuropa.com/follow-the-ship

We sent Brian a couple of questions via the ship’s e-mail. Due to the slow Internet onboard – and the cost of it! – he kept his answers short and sweet.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal on a banana farm just outside a tiny town with only one robot – Port Edward. I am a 24-year-old sailor, trained in traditional square-rig sailing on tall ships.

How did you come to join this Bark Europa voyage?

I first met up with Bark Europa in April 2019 when she was in Cape Town. Since then I have been on and off the ship from South Africa to the Netherlands, to Antarctica and now on our way back to the Netherlands.

Tell us about the Antarctica trip

The most recent legs I have done were between Ushuaia (a port city in southern Argentina, where most Antarctica expeditions depart from) and Antarctica. I never thought a place could be so breathtakingly beautiful and full of life – ice takes on many fascinating shapes and colours!

The Antarctic Peninsula was extraordinarily different from any other place I have ever seen.At first the virus had not yet affected the area, but when we returned to Ushuaia, things started closing down and sailing quickly turned into the safest option.

What is it like having all this extra time at sea?

Heaven! Sailing is what we love, and we are making the most of it!

While “the world has gone mad” over the past months, you guys have been out at sea, isolated in another way…

It is a very strange situation. It almost felt as if my family and friends (back home) were the isolated ones cut off from the world, and not us. It sounds as if everyone in SA is on their own little ship, being quarantined in their homes.

How have you dealt with the “lockdown” of being on a ship for so long?

Being a professional sailor, I am used to isolation, limited communication and long voyages. It is almost business as usual.

What has this trip taught you – about the world, and about yourself?

I think it has taught me the value of being mobile in a time of stressful global events. And most importantly, how to lean on my shipmates in strange times like these to support each other.


Follow Bark Europa on Instagram @barkeuropa and see the website for more about the history and voyages offered.

barkeuropa.com