Susan Luitsalu: I was a great sailor aboard the Bellingshausen

Susan Luitsalu.
Susan Luitsalu. Source: ERR/Kirke Ert

An exchange crew member who went on a recent trip aboard the Admiral Bellingshausen, a yacht currently en route to the Northwest Passage, dropped into the Vikerraadio studio Tuesday, to talk about her experiences.

Appearing on morning show "Vikerhommik," Susan Luitsalu, a media personality, writer and traveler, noted that among the strings to her bow is a small motor boat license, which she is qualified to hold.

"I'm a great sailor," she said. "In fact, on paper at least, I'm fully certified to take the helm of the Bellingshausen and sail it / .../ but I really wouldn't want to do so, as I haven't experience on a vessel of that size."

She also holds a radio operator's license.

An open sea trip on the Bellingshausen, which visited Antarctica 2019-2020 and is now heading for the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic to the Pacific, means a range of different conditions, Luitsalu went on.

"There were times when we were just sitting on deck and drinking wine, but then there were also such situations where you just have to grab on to a railing that happens to be nearby, and just somehow try to survive."

Why, then, would she pick such an environment?

"The world seems to have become very uniform," she said. "I want to find places where there is something interesting or different to look at."

Luitsalu also ended up having to cook while on board.

As a research ship, the Bellingshausen was able to reach places not on the mainstream tourist trail.

"For example, the ship stopped in small towns in Iceland," Luitsalu added.

As for seasickness, this can happen to anyone, experienced sailors included, Luitsalu said. "You have to be able to handle it."

The Bellingshausen is a 24-meter, Dutch-built ketch, named after explorer, Imperial Russian naval officer and Saaremaa native Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1778-1852). Von Bellingshausen is widely credited with having discovered the Antarctic ice shelf in early 1820 – the yacht's voyage to Antarctica marked the bicentennial of this event.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Maiken Tiits

Source: ERR Menu, Vikerraadio, interviewers Kirke Ert and Taavi Libe.

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