During February of this year, 70m motoryacht Sherakhan headed south, to Antarctica, with voyage partner Hanse Explorer, allowing its crewmembers an experience they’ll never forget even in their exciting crew career. Deckhand Lisa Dijkshoorn shares her experience of this incredible journey with The Crew Report and shows how the career of a crewmember can, with the right boat and the right guests, be truly exceptional.

“We had private guests on board along with a camera and film crew documenting the journey. We were given important information about the places we were to visit [by the expedition leaders] and how to preserve, treat and respect every aspect of it. Their slogan being: ‘Do not leave anything but footprints. Do not take anything but memories’. Working together with the crew of Hanse Explorer, assisting with carrying and set ups, we got a first-hand look at the process of their artistic endeavours. This whole charter was not like anything we were used to. Location being the obvious [reason], but the people we had on board [was] another. To be among photographers, film crew, animal and nature lovers, and people trying to make a difference by bringing awareness through their passion and work absolutely blows my mind.”

The direct relationship with nature that the crew and guests were lucky enough to experience throughout the trip was a clear appeal for Dijkshoorn. One area she notes with excitement is St Andrews Bay, South Georgia. “This place was a huge area with hundreds of king penguins, all of them in different stages of malting.”

Credit: Sherekhan crew

Whale watching was almost compulsory, moreover, as the visitors frequented the yacht on a regular basis. “Over the OA system from the bridge it was announced where spouts from the water’s surface were spotted. People were running port to starboard, forward to aft cameras of all sizes and makes in hand.”

Moreover, an encounter with a seal proved amusing for guests and crew: “We moved closer with the tender when the seal in the water disappeared, only to surprise us when he resurfaced just next to our tender. Much to all of our glee, this guy started playing with us. Whenever we moved forward, he followed. Apparently they like the propellers’ back-wash tickling their whiskers.”

"The crew have to be involved in your trips because when you do a trip like this and the conditions are not easy but you still have to meet superyacht standards of service, the crew really have to believe in what they are doing."

It wasn’t just the animals that provided an amazing backdrop, however. The landscape itself was, in the true sense of the word, awesome. “All the icebergs [between Booth Island and Pleneau Island] had everyone taken. It was like being at an art sculpture exhibition. Icebergs of all shapes and sizes and with hues of blue and white.”

Meanwhile, the icebergs also proved for an exciting watchkeeping shift for Dijkshoorn. “When I came on the bridge the captain, who was on watch at that time, was wide-eyed and excited, warning us to be alert with all the ice around us. The radar was showing quite a lot on screen and within the hour it was covered fully in green. We had to reduce speed significantly and at times use the bow thrusters to maneuver around, between and through the icy bits. Some brushed against the hull making loud scraping noises. I spent a lot of time on the foredeck with my camera and binoculars, stunned with the icy sea landscape around me.”

Credit: Sherekhan crew

But all this excitement makes the end of a trip difficult, Dijkshoorn explains. “It dawned on me this was the end of the epic ‘Sherakhan does Antarctica’ journey, that we have to say goodbye to the people we’ve spent sixteen days with, sharing all these moments and making everlasting memories. I don’t know when or where we are off to next, but that is part of the yachting life. I know it will be another adventure. Though Antarctica might be hard to top, I know whatever comes next will bring its own unique, memorable moments.”

And in the words of Sherakhan’s owner Jan Verkerk: “The crew have to be involved in your trips because when you do a trip like this and the conditions are not easy but you still have to meet superyacht standards of service, the crew really have to believe in what they are doing. When the boat is pitching in eight-metre waves and they have to serve a silver service dinner, it is not an easy job. The tender driver has to drive a tender in minus-five degrees with force four winds, so his ears are freezing off [and] it is not a happy job. So they need to love what they do and we need to look after them. Let me tell you, they love this. It was for the crew, captain, me, the guests – completely fantastic.”

An interview with the owner of Sherakhan will be featured in issue 10 of The Superyacht Owner.