RGS’s Circumnavigation: What Happens Next

The ocean is calm now. Photos of the expedition participants
The ocean is calm now. Photos of the expedition participants

The participants of the circumnavigation expedition of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society have already spent almost three years sailing. During this time, our world has changed significantly, and, unfortunately, it has not become easier to circumnavigate the planet. Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin have passed many tests, which the seas and oceans prepared for them, with honor. But now they have ahead of them, perhaps, the most difficult and very dangerous segment of the route. How does the crew intend to complete their journey, and what route will the brave Siberians choose to return to Russia? They told the readers of the RGS website about this.

Before leaving the Maldives, where the circumnavigators were forced to enter by a powerful ocean current, the crew must replace all the electronics on their sailing vessel. It is planned to do this before April 3, when the next "Lesson from the Ocean" – an event of a large-scale project of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the RGS – takes place. Many locations from different countries will join the online lesson, this time dedicated to Antarctica. For the first time, representatives of the University of Mumbai and the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research of India will participate in the lesson. And, of course, Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin will tell the students a lot of interesting things.

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Large colorful parrots in the Maldives are finishing drinks from cans left by people. Photos of the expedition participants
Large colorful parrots in the Maldives are finishing drinks from cans left by people. Photos of the expedition participants

“Immediately after the ‘Lesson from the Ocean’, we leave Malé for Socotra. That's 1,309 miles. The problem is that the monsoon season begins, headwinds. At the end of April, we enter the Gulf of Aden, go to Djibouti. It’s complicated there: there is information that we need to move along the center of the gulf, as far as possible from the coasts of Yemen and Somalia. There is information from both places about the hijacking of ships by pirates. It is also known that the Houthis are attacking US and British warships. We can get into a difficult situation," said Evgeny Kovalevsky.

The Russians have signed up for the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa program which provides assistance and information to ships and travelers in a dangerous region to reduce the likelihood of a pirate attack. However, the crew is not completely sure that this will help.

“British warships are cruising in the Gulf of Aden. Previously, they controlled the passage of ships to help them avoid pirate attacks. Now these ships are being attacked by the Houthis. We are not sure that the Maritime Security Centre will be able to help us properly, but it is better than nothing. We have already been sent safety instructions in the Gulf of Aden," Kovalevsky said.

In early May, the RGS circumnavigators plan to pass through the Suez Canal. Then they have to cross the Mediterranean Sea. But even there the situation is not very simple.

“Russian ships are prohibited from entering the ports of European countries, so we cannot go through the North and Baltic Seas. We’ll go to the Black Sea, then leave the sailboat in Novorossiysk, change to a river inflatable catamaran, and go along the Don and Volga Rivers to St. Petersburg,” Evgeny Kovalevsky told about the plans of the circumnavigation.

The crew plans to complete their journey by August 2024. We wish good luck to our heroes!

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Stanislav Berezkin and Evgeny Kovalevsky. Photos of the expedition participants
Stanislav Berezkin and Evgeny Kovalevsky. Photos of the expedition participants

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.