Global Surveyor

Cruises with a difference

by David Milloy

If you fancy a change from a holiday that mostly involves lounging on a beach, then an adventure cruise, such as those offered by Largs-based Go West Sailing, might be just what you’re looking for. And with destinations including Greenland and Antarctica, adventure is guaranteed.

The cruises are the brainchild of Danny Drahos, co-owner of Go West. After sailing to Greenland a few years ago on a 37-foot yacht and being captivated by the unspoiled beauty that he witnessed, Danny hit upon the idea of running commercial tourist trips to the area. But in the words of a certain film, he knew that he was “going to need a bigger boat”.

That boat turned out to be Global Surveyor, a 70-foot long steel-hulled cutter that weighs 50 tonnes and is capable of circumnavigating the globe. Acquired by Danny and his business partners, Ales and Daniel, at the tail end of 2019, Global Surveyor was treated to a refit in which her interior, instruments, heating, and communication facilities were all upgraded. And since 2020, she’s been a regular visitor to the extremities of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Two (and sometimes three) experienced professional sailors sail as crew on Global Surveyor, in addition to eight or nine paying passengers. No prior sailing experience is needed in order to travel as a passenger on Global Surveyor, nor is there a set upper or lower age limit – Danny advises that the youngest passenger carried to date was 18 months old. For older passengers, physical fitness is more important than age. Disability need not, however, be a bar to a voyage on the vessel – one passenger who spent 40 days on the vessel and coped well with life at sea had previously fractured his spine and relied on crutches for mobility.

Global Surveyor spends ten to eleven months a year at sea, offering different experiences according to the time of the year. In our summer, she operates between Iceland and Greenland, and in our winter (summer in the Southern Hemisphere) she often runs from Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, to Antarctica.

There are considerable differences between the voyages to Greenland and Antarctica, as Danny explains: “We visit the eastern part of Greenland. Words can’t do justice to how beautiful and colourful it is. It’s very sunny there in summer but the wind blows cold. That said, when the wind ceases, as it usually does for a couple of hours a day, it’s T-shirt weather! Not many people live there but we do visit some Inuit villages, where we are warmly welcomed. The voyage from Iceland to Greenland and back lasts ten days.

“The voyage to and from Antarctica is rather longer at twenty-one days. Antarctica is less colourful than Greenland but has more wildlife, and if you like penguins then you’re in for a treat. To reach Antarctica from Ushuaia, we sail round Cape Horn, where the seas can get pretty rough, with waves sometimes reaching 10 metres high. Not many people have been to Antarctica, so we’re very proud to able to offer the public the opportunity to do so.”

Global Surveyor will next visit Antarctica in the winter of 2024. This winter, she’ll be visiting Morocco, the Canary Islands, and Madeira. She also carries passengers whilst in transit, e.g. between Scotland and Iceland, and between Scotland and the Azores. Full details of all of Global Surveyor’s upcoming voyages and how to book a trip on her can be found on Go West’s website.

Go West Sailing, Largs