Brutal South is Waiting for Us: Circumnavigation of the RGS Preparing to Sail to Cape Horn

В ожидании весны. Фото участников кругосветки РГО

In the Southern Hemisphere, spring will begin in September. In distant Argentina, where the trimaran of the round-the-world expedition of the Tomsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society has been located since mid-June, preparations for a new, difficult stage of the navigation are in full swing. Ahead is Cape Horn and the passage across the Pacific Ocean. Work is in full swing at the shipyard of San Fernando Yacht Club, which hospitably received the Russians. Significant changes are made to the design of the vessel. All the work needs to be finished by the end of October in order to set sail and go south, cold and brutal.

Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin pondered over the design changes for a month. Innovations should increase the reliability of the vessel and allow it to safely complete one of the most difficult stages of the journey. There are a lot of things to do.

“Within a month and a half, we looked for and found contractors, as well as the necessary materials. It turned out that the stainless steel pipes we needed are imported, none are made locally. All the necessary work has been slowly progressing for over a month now. Slowly, because in Argentina no one is in a hurry. The key word is ‘mañana’ – that is, ‘tomorrow’. Come tomorrow and everything will be done. And it goes on like this every day. And that's not bad at all. It’s even great – not to rush anywhere!” joked Evgeny Kovalevsky.


Тримаран на судоверфи. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

The changes that are now being made to the design of the trimaran are very significant. First of all, two supports (outriggers) are being shortened, the bow elements of the vessel are lifted up.

“This will reduce the load on the hulls and stainless stringers, to which these same hulls are attached through pockets. Also, lifting the noses up will reduce the likelihood of the hulls diving into the water,” Kovalevsky explained.


Баллоны тримарана. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

Argentine workshop Norberto Luna, a participant in the television game project Fear Factor, is changing the valves on all three inflatable hulls. They have clearly expired. At the same time, it was possible to remove the central hull without disassembling the main structure thus reducing the work time. The crew of the circumnavigation hopes that the inflatable elements will be ready by September 10-12.

The contractor for metal work is also an Argentine, Mariano Losada, who provides Russians with pipes, plates, turning services, stainless steel welding, and transport. Everything is done well and within the agreed time frame. The contractor for welding aluminum pipes is the workshop Oscar Soldadura.

“Everything was done on time and well. Welded 12 ends of various braces and legs of the pyramid, a total of 24 aluminum welding seams. Now, after a complete gradual disassembly, the main structure of the metal frame of the trimaran has been assembled. We have replaced the six aluminum half beams with six stainless steel half beams. These beams had to be bent on a powerful press, since the pipes were bent in the original design, and we adhere to this design feature. Six aluminum girders supporting the main beams were replaced with stainless ones. Invented and added six new pipes to strengthen the frame. These pipes are placed along the central axis and will help the main beams withstand the cyclic wave force. Removed, checked, welded destroyed torsion bars – longitudinal elements of the frame structure of the trimaran. There are 18 of them in total. For now, we will not be getting rid of the torsion bars, and, probably, we will not in general. If needed in the future, most likely, we will place stainless pipes for the entire length of the trimaran along the top of the frame. For now, we'll wait; and there's no money. Stainless pipes in Argentina are expensive. We plan to place two additional steel braces at the bow of the trimaran from the central axis to the bows of the outriggers. This will help to withstand high waves that might try to upturn the hulls,” the leader of the expedition shared the details of the trimaran repairs.


Будни реконструкции тримарана. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

The circumnavigators also dismantled and reassembled the pyramid on which the mast stands and around which there is a tent for recreation. They changed the design itself and the material of the fastenings of its two main supports. Now they look different, more functional and are made not of aluminum, but of durable stainless steel.

“We still need to make a new galley – the old one fell apart. Change its location on the trimaran, think about what to do with the semi-pressurized containers in which we store food and equipment. They turned out to be of little use and not airtight at all. In September, we will change the format of sleeping places. We’ll put down plywood flooring at the bow of the tent. There will be four sleeping places,” said Kovalevsky.

Now the beds of the travelers are located along the central hull, and two people at the entrance partially sleep out of cover. They can be flooded with sea water and rain. In addition, watchmen, when working with sails, can step on the feet of the sleeping people.

“But the main thing is that we are about to face the brutal south with night temperatures below zero,” Kovalevsky added.


Так спали на тримаране до реконструкции. Фото участников кругосветки РГО

According to him, the new arrangement of sleeping places provides for rest in the warm depths of the tent, and will allow to equip an area for changing clothes and going on duty.

“There are many other little things that need to be done. We expect to finish by the end of September,” Evgeny is sure.

Simultaneously, the travelers are enjoying Argentina. This is a very interesting country.


Гребцы в Аргентине. Фото: Станислав Берёзкин

“We like it here. Great people, amazing history, amazing architecture. Friendliness, cordiality, help are following us everywhere,” admitted Kovalevsky.

For example, in all the work, and in life in San Fernando in general, Sebastian Iut invariably helps the Russians. Berezkin and Kovalevsky met him on the day of arrival and have been together ever since. Sebastian is one of the leaders of the maritime association ADAN, he circumnavigated the world in 2011-2012. In 2023, he will start his second round-the-world trip on his own yacht.


После полумарафона. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

“Sebastian runs every day and got me into the idea of ​​running a half marathon here in Argentina. I have never run such distances before. I usually run four or five kilometers every morning. This is my habit. On August 21, Sebastian, his fellow runner Elisa, and I took part in a large-scale Latin American half marathon. 19,000 participants! It was a fantastic new experience. I was surprised that I survived and even beat Sebastian by 15 minutes. My time is 1 hour 58 minutes at an average speed of 5 minutes 36 seconds per kilometer,” said Kovalevsky.

In addition to overhauling the vessel, the Russians have to look for solutions to other equally significant problems. For example, at the request of the partido of San Fernando, the circumnavigators acquired a life preserver, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, and a hand flare. Without these things, strict Argentine officials do not allow the trimaran to go farther.

“Thanks to the sailors of Argentina – they helped with all the necessary items. By the way, the prefect of San Fernando treated us kindly and canceled the already imposed fine. For that, I would like to thank the prefect from the bottom of my heart,” said Kovalevsky.


Необходимый набор. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

Despite the high workload at the shipyard, the travelers manage to do many other things, get to know Argentina and its people.

“By courtesy of the Consul of the Russian Embassy in Argentina Georgy Polin, we learned about the unique system of Soviet clubs located in the province of Buenos Aires. We have already visited the club of Nikolai Ostrovsky, the club of Vladimir Mayakovsky, the club of Belarusian culture ‘Vostok’. We also hope to visit the clubs of Pushkin, Belinsky, and ‘Dnipro’. All of them were created by emigrants from the USSR – Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians. They are united by nostalgia and the desire to preserve our common culture,” said Kovalevsky.

The crew of the circumnavigation of the Russian Geographical Society held several meetings with the Argentine maritime community as part of "people's diplomacy". This direction is one of the most important in the expedition project. A lot of people come to chat with the ambassadors of Russia.


Встреча в клубе Бучардо. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

“In San Fernando Club – 150-200 people; in Buchardo Club – 100 people. Meetings are planned in the clubs ‘San Martin’, ‘Argentina’, in the library of Buenos Aires. Our stories, screenings of films, and photographs are always acclaimed. The director of the marine club specifically came to San Fernando from the city of Comodoro Rivadavia. We agreed on two meetings when we go south on the trimaran. One  with the maritime community, the second with young sailors. He says that young people need motivating examples. And we are such an example,” said Kovalevsky.

The round-the-world travelers also have to solve financing problems. Rubles available on accounts in Tomsk need to be exchanged in different ways for pesos and dollars. It is planned to attract additional funds by participating in grant competitions, inviting new partners, as well as those wishing to become crew members at various stages.

“On September 1, a new competition of the Presidential Grants Fund will be announced. We will apply for a grant, since the main money of the grant from the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives we won in April 2022 will be spent in Argentina. We are open for partnership with interested organizations and people. Ahead of the expedition is Cape Horn, transoceanic crossings through the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and once again the Atlantic Ocean. We invite crew members to the stages. For these questions, you can contact our coastal center, which is located in Tomsk,” said Evgeny Kovalevsky.


Флаг России в Аргентине. Фото участников кругосветки РГО.

Now Yulia Kalyuzhnaya, head of the expedition's coastal headquarters, is preparing another educational "Lesson from the Ocean". It will be dedicated to South America and will be held in November this year.

“Stanislav and I are making a video for this lesson. All schoolchildren of Russia and foreign schools of the countries that we have passed, with whom we have established contacts are invited to the lesson. We are planning a large-scale filming for ‘Lesson from the Ocean’ in Patagonia. The Russian House in Argentina, headed by Olga Muratova from Rossotrudnichestvo, is preparing a photo exhibition on our expedition in September. Photographer is Stanislav Berezkin. He prepared 35 pictures about our life on the trip,” added Evgeny.

Berezkin and Kovalevsky have to resolve many issues related to visas and border crossings.  Consul Georgy Polin helps with extending their stay in Argentina for another three months.

“A lot of things to do, visits, papers. We are preparing a significant number of documents and are looking for options for issuing a French Schengen to enter the Pacific Ocean in 2023 to sail to the islands of French Polynesia. The complexities of this process in Argentina are already great, and on top of that the EU is being Russophobic,” Kovalevsky admitted.

The crew plans to go to sea immediately after the repairs are done. The trimaran will continue sailing south from San Fernando at the end of October this year.

“For a month and a half we will move south along the coast of Argentina with stops at Mar del Plata, Comodoro Rivadavia, Rio Gallegos, Puerto Santa Cruz, Ushuaia. We need to reach Ushuaia in late November – early December. In December we will move around Cape Horn. In January we plan to go to the Pacific Ocean. And then – the Pacific, the Indian, the Atlantic again and home!” Evgeny Kovalevsky spoke about future plans.

On July 1, 2021, Siberian travelers Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin set off along the route of the first Russian round-the-world expeditions of the 19th century: Ivan Kruzenshtern’s (1803-1806), Yuri Lisyansky’s (1803-1806), Otto Kotzebue’s (1815-1818, 1823-1826), Vasily Golovnin’s (1817-1819), Fedor Litke’s (1826-1829), Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev’s (1819-1921).

The international project of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society "Following the paths of Russian explorers" is dedicated to the 250th birthday anniversary of Krusenstern and the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian sailors. These events for a long time determined Russia's leadership in the development of the oceans and the discovery of new lands. You can learn more about the project and provide all possible assistance in its implementation on the website of the expedition.

On August 19, in Moscow's Zaryadye Park, as part of the V Festival of the Russian Geographical Society, the premiere screening of the first part of the film about the expedition of the Tomsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society "Following the paths of Russian explorers " took place. A documentary about the extraordinary adventures of Siberians Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin was filmed by the TV channel "Moya Planeta" (eng. “My Planet”).

Alexander Zhirnov