First Turkish Sailors in Antarctica

Osman Atasoy and Sibel Karasu have gone down in history as the first Turkish navigators to reach antarctica, covering 8,500 miles in their 14-meter craft, Uzaklar II. We had a pleasant conversation recently with Karasu and captain Atasoy well in sight of land.

What sort of experience was Antarctica for you?
The air got a little colder, the wind a little stronger and the waves a little bigger with every mile we covered as we headed deeper into the South Pacific. You leave behind waters crowded with people and enter the vast deep. The only thing of another color in the stark whiteness that completely covers Antarctica was our claret red boat, Uzaklar II, and the red and white Turkish flag on its mast!

What was the purpose of your voyage?
As the world’s most dangerous body of water, the South Pacific exercises a strange fascination over sailors. Once you’ve fallen under its spell, you can’t not go there. Even fear, the most powerful emotion there is, is no obstacle to that desire. You are afraid, and yet you go there.

What gave you the most trouble in your confrontation with nature?

Man was designed and created to live on land. Living on the sea is no easy task because it is a life or death struggle in a world rife with uncertainties as well as beauty. At the same time, the oceans are still fraught with unknowns. You have to adapt to conditions and have unyielding respect for the law of the sea. As long as you approach it in that spirit, your friendship with the sea will not easily be broken and you will be prepared for surprises.

What impressed you the most on your Antarctica tour?
When we reached Antarctica there was no need for the usual formalities you have to go through when you enter the port of a normal country. No customs agents waiting on land, no passport officials, no need to deal with all the confusion and disorder associated with land.  All around us there was nothing but whales, penguins, sea lions and albatrosses.

How was the return voyage?
We went for 53 consecutive days and nights without seeing land. By the time we reached the island of Madeira we had put 6,500 nautical miles behind us. Every sailor who sets out on the ocean, no matter how big and powerful the boat under him, always wonders… The rules and criteria we are used to on land lose meaning in an instant on the open seas. Especially if it’s the South Pacific.

THE UZAKLAR DOCUMENTARY
Osman Atasoy and Sibel Karasu’s adventure-filled voyage, for which Turkish Airlines was transportation sponsor, is being broadcast as a documentary program, ‘Uzaklar, Antarktika’, on Turkish State Radio and Television’s (TRT) Turkish Channel every Monday evening at 10:20. The program is repeated on Saturdays at 9:10 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. and on Sundays at 4:35 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

TO FOLLOW UP
For more information, visit the website at www.osmanatasoy.org and read Osman Atasoy’s captain’s log.