AN ESTONIAN maritime expedition arrived in Lerwick on Wednesday on one of its first ports of call on a trip to celebrate the discovery of Antarctica 200 years ago.
The 24-metre-long yacht Admiral Bellingshausen is named after the Baltic German admiral, born in Saaremaa island, in present day Estonia, and who is credited with leading the first Russian expedition to discover mainland Antarctica in January 1820.
The 2019 expedition will retrace the historic journey originally taken by Bellingshausen’s ship, Vostok, which was accompanied by a second ship Mirny stopping at extra ports of call along the way.
There will be a minimum of 12 crew on board at any one time, with various crew changes planned before the vessel finally reaches Antarctica in January 2020.
The Estonian Maritime Museum has organised the expedition, which set out from Kronstadt in St. Petersburg last month, captained by Meelis Saarlaid.
Alongside a crew of professional sailors will be maritime rescuers from the Estonian Volunteer Rescue Association, who have trained at the Reval marine safety centre in Tallinn.
The yacht is expected to be in Lerwick for two days, during which time the crew will visit the RNLI Lerwick lifeboat station and share their search and rescue experiences with local crew.
Lerwick Lifeboat coxwain Darren Harcus said: “The crew of the Admiral Bellingshausen have an incredible journey to the Antarctic ahead of them for the next eight months or so.
“We’re all part of the IMRF [International Maritime Rescue Federation], sharing the same interests in saving lives at sea and we’re pleased to welcome the vessel and crew to Lerwick.”
After Lerwick, Admiral Bellingshausen will head to Kirkwall and then Aberdeen.
For more details of the expedition, please look up: