Skip Novak witnesses effects of global warming in South Africa


Skip Novak is best known for taking part in four Whitbread Round the World Races and when he decided on a change in career he decided to combine his love of sailing with his other skills, notably mountaineering.

He now works in the high latitudes, although he lives in South Africa, running Pelagic Expeditions and says he has witnessed at first hand the effect of global warming and a rise in popularity of the area with more and more people visiting.

“I sailed down in the high latitudes when I was doing round the world races and used to go past the islands. You can only reach some of these places by sea, so if you want to move around, you have to do it by boat. I also have a climbing background and have done a fair bit of mountaineering. I wanted to combine all of that and had the opportunity to build a boat very cheaply in 1987 in Southampton,” said Skip. “I went to the Antarctic on an expedition to South Georgia and also went again in 1991. It was then that I saw an opportunity down there for chartering as virtually no-one else was doing it back then. There was just myself and five other French boats down there and we all knew each other. I went down to have an adventure and decided to stay and make a living.”

He has now spent 15 seasons in the Antarctic, supported by Raymarine’s instruments and equipment.

Skip says there are many more people and boats going down to the Antarctic, now around 36,000 visitors a year with 98 per cent of them arriving by cruise ship where there has been an exponential growth in numbers.