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Ciara, Katherine, Simon and Stu go south on Seal - February/March

Crew Profiles

Ciara, Kate, Simon and Stu are joining Kate, Hamish, Helen and Anna on board 'Seal'

Ciara (Kiki)

Kiki Scott

I’ve always had a fascination with Antarctica, perhaps fuelled by long nights on watch listening to Mark and Simon harp on about it during the BT Global Challenge! I’d looked into doing a trip like this and had even applied for a job in Antarctica, but it had remained a pipe dream. The balance was tipped this summer when we all met up for a crew reunion… reminiscing about the race when we were all younger and more exciting was enough to get me thinking seriously about this new adventure and making it actually happen!

I have very fond memories of my experience on the BT Global Challenge and 10 years on, I can barely remember the Southern Ocean being that cold or miserable… which is probably a good thing! I love the sense of freedom of being at sea, away from it all and facing the elements. Most of the sailing I’ve done has been racing, training or deliveries, so I’m definitely looking forward to doing some cruising and visiting Cape Horn and Antarctica and having some time to explore and to watch the wildlife and not just the sails. There was also no such thing as a blog back in 1996, so keeping in touch through this website should be fun.

Read Kiki's blog here


Katherine O'Connell

I’ve always wanted to go to The Ice. The fact that we are sailing there from Chile is almost too exciting to put into words. There’s a whole journey to be had before our voyage begins, seeing the sites, albeit quickly, in Santiago and Punta Arenas. Then we are one short flight away from Puerto William in the Beagle Channel, where we meet up with the crew and join SEAL, our home for almost five weeks.

My previous Southern Ocean sailing has taken me deep into the Furious Fifties, and that felt like the bottom of the world, as we were racing past monstrous icebergs. This time we will be crossing into the Screaming Sixties and we really will be at the bottom of the world. These latitudes are often lashed by gales and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope to get a large dose of weather!

Most of all, I am looking forward to the spectacular wilderness and all the wildlife there. I cannot wait to see penguins, albatrosses, seals, whale and report back on what else turns up in our path.

Read Katherine's Blog here


Simon Walker

I’ve got a bookshelf full of Antarctica books – and a chart on the study wall centred on the South pole. I’ve talked about doing a trip like this for years, but like any endeavour, as well as a clear intent, you need to take a first step. Meeting up with Kate and Hamish in the spring and visiting the yacht got me thinking, and then seeing our friend Mark’s photos of his trip last season tipped me over the edge. I can finally find out what all the fuss is about!

I’m looking forward to the simple clarity of purpose being at sea and relying on out own resources. It seems all too rare in modern life and I miss it. I’m also really looking forward to learning things from Kate and Hamish. Visiting ‘Seal’ in the spring of 2006 gave me a glimpse into the depth of knowledge and seamanship they both have – I can’t wait to spend some time with them both.

On the down side, being away from home for 5 weeks will no doubt be tough. On the big trips I’ve been on in the past, it was the day job at the time that paid the mortgage – somehow it’s easier to be away from the family when you can justify it in those terms.

I think I’ll come back refreshed, enthused and with another valuable perspective – It’s a great way to kick off 2007!

Read Simon's Blog here


Stu Pask

When a once in a life time opportunity comes along to see and experience something truly out of the ordinary, do you carry on with real life, content to dream adventurous dreams or do you sign up and live the adventure?

I am looking forward to sailing with new friends and being reacquainted with old ones. I am looking forward to dusting off my own (rusty) seamanship skills and to the overriding simplicity of life onboard a yacht.

I’m looking forward to leaving real life behind (for a while); to seeing the beauty of Tierra Del Fuego; to being exposed to the wildness of the Southern Ocean and to experiencing and understanding more about the Antarctic environment.

Reservations? Only that I can still remember what it is like to try and poo, sailing in the Southern Ocean!

I will be content to return home again a little re-energised (if a little unsettled) and clutching some great memories and perhaps a great photograph or two.

Read Stu's blog here

Kate and Hamish

Hamish and Kate (c) Hamish Laird

We spent four years designing and building 'Seal' specifically for high latitude charter work, supporting scientific and adventure expeditions. We own, live on and operate 'Seal' all year round.

Although last summer was Seal's maiden voyage to high latitudes, Hamish has spent 12 years working in remote regions. He first sailed to Antarctica in 1988, and spent six years as the full time skipper of Pelagic, one of the pioneering charter yachts in the region. He's skippered expeditions to Greenland, Antarctica (14 trips), South Georgia, the Falklands, Tierra del Fuego, and Cape Horn. In addition, he's sailed on several superyachts to Antarctica as the "Ice Pilot" for filming and touring expeditions.

Kate has crewed on a many different boats, from a square topsail schooner to whale watching boats, sailed as a foredeck hand in the Southern Ocean, and spent many seasons singlehanding a 28-footer on the coast of Maine. She met Hamish on a trip to Antarctica, and spent the following two years crewing for him on board Pelagic before coming ashore to build Seal.

Anna and Helen

Anna and Helen (c) Hamish Laird

Anna and Helen are Kate and Hamish's kids. They have sailed nearly 25,000 miles and are utterly at home on the boat and sail on most trips.

We have it on good authority that they are big Harry Potter fans!



Find out more about Hamish, Kate, Helen and Anna and about their wonderful Yacht 'Seal' at





Crew Miscellany

Ciara, KO Simon and Stu have notched up several hundred thousand sea miles between them, including four circumnavigations, four Pacific crossings and 18 Trans Atlantic crossings

Simon sailed with Ciara around the world on 'Toshiba Wave Warrior' in the 1996/7 BT Global Challenge

In addition to her offshore sailing experience, Ciara also won Class II at Cowes Week 2000 as crew aboard T&G, a Reflex 38

Stu raced on 'Concert' in the 1996/7 BT Global Challenge. They were dismasted deep in the southern ocean during leg two

Stu sailed with Simon on the 1994 Spitsbergen Sailing Expedition. They sailed to over 80 degrees North

KO raced in the 2000/1 BT Global Challenge on board 'BP Explorer' and 'LG Flatron'

Kate sailed on 'Motorola' and 'Coultaulds International' in the 1996/7 BT Global Challenge, racing against Simon and Stu

Ciara's nickname is Kiki - you'll have to ask her why...

Ciara's delivered the 'James Bond' yacht featured in Casino Royale from the UK to the mediterranean

Stu raced on 'Concert' in the 1996/7 BT global Challenge. They were dismasted deep in the southern ocean during leg two

When Ciara arrives in Antarctica, she will have visited all 7 continents… with the exception of Asia she will have visited them all for the first time by sailing there

Simon sailed as the mate on Rhone Poulence in the British Steel Challenge. They stopped off in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands after sustaining rig damage on Leg two