Sailing the Seven Seas
By Robbie Stammers
Mike Horn sits on the deck of Pangaea, smelling the salty air and staring at the wide and endless expanse of ocean. He is overwhelmed by the possibilities: traversing so many continents, oceans, rivers, jungles and ice lands. Exploring planet Earth with youth by his side – this is everything he has ever wanted!
Horn, acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest modern-day explorers, has undertaken exceptional feats of endurance, determination and courage, which have extended the boundaries of human achievement.
Among his exploits have been Latitude Zero, an 18-month circumnavigation of the Earth around the Equator; the Arktos Expedition, a solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle which lasted 27 months; the North Pole Winter Night Expedition, the first-ever ‘polar night’ journey to the North Pole, starting from the northernmost point of Russia and ending two months later at the North Pole; and the Himalaya Expedition, summiting two mountains higher than 8 000 metres – Gasherbrum I (8 035m) and Gasherbrum II (8 068m) – without the use of additional oxygen.
During many years of exploration experience around the world, Horn has witnessed first-hand the beauty that the planet beholds, as well as the alarming rate at which the environment is deteriorating and the consequential sufferance of the ecosystems.
“Caring for our life source has become an absolute necessity for every human being,” he avers. “The problem today is that we are losing contact with nature – forgetting its beauty and, most importantly, its overwhelming power. We have lost respect for nature and are losing hope. We must now accept our responsibilities and by working together with ingenuity, drive and courage, we can complement each other and find new inspiration, hope and ambition. Together we can tap the world’s most powerful energy source – the younger generation, encouraging them to stand up and make a difference, giving them the keys to help build a sustainable future and to protect the planet for the future generations.”
In order to fulfil his dream, Horn decided to initiate a programme, “The Pangaea Expedition”, the biggest environmental project of its kind in the world. The base for the expedition is the 35m yacht called Pangaea, which has been designed to incorporate sustainable technologies.
The vessel, which can sleep 30 and features state-of-the-art communication and conference facilities, is used for environmental research and educational projects at its various ports of call around the world. The yacht has inverter energy engines designed and manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and it runs on fuel-efficient diesel when the sails are not in use. The features and fittings are made with recycled wood; the boat has recycle bins on board, and is fully fitted with LED lighting.
The expedition, named after the supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago, has now covered 140 000 nautical miles, reaching the North and the South Poles and crossing all the oceans.
Since being ‘water born’ in Brazil in 2008, Pangaea has sailed non-stop over the last four years. During her course around the world, Horn has been able to share his knowledge with the younger generation and has explored some of the most amazing scenery this world has to offer: the glacial waters of both Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula; the ice-cut fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand; the coral reefs of the east coast of Australia; marine ecosystems of Malaysia and Indonesia; the mangroves and volcanic islands of the Andaman Islands; the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas; sand dunes of the Gobi Desert; the eastern Siberia region of Kamchatka; the Magnetic North Pole; Northern Territories of Canada; the Everglades of Florida, United States; the Amazon Rainforest; and finally, Namibia’s beautiful Skeleton Coast to the tip of South Africa.
Says Horn: “The Pangaea Expedition is the most exciting adventure I’ve ever undertaken. After almost two decades of exploration, I wanted to invest the knowledge and experience I acquired from past expeditions into a new challenge and to share these experiences with others.
“The aim of the Pangaea mission has been, and still is, to enhance a respect for the environment, encouraging the cleanup of the planet and the protection of its resources for the sake of the future generations.”
Young adults, from the ages of 15 to 20, from every continent were invited to join Horn on various sections of his journey where they learnt about the flora and fauna with the team’s professor, Dr Roswitha Stolz from the University of Munich. They discovered the importance of nature and its elements and were encouraged to understand the importance of environmental issues currently affecting the world today.
With four years under her belt and the world circuit nearly completed, the Pangaea Expedition is now coming to an end. It’s time for Horn to close the Pangaea chapter, but it will not be for long. He is too stimulated by what he has seen: the passion of the youth and the need to act to preserve the environment.
Another project, a bigger boat, is now on the drawing board – and this time it will take more people, both young and old. The Pangaea Ambassadors will continue to show their enthusiasm, and more people will be recruited to help Horn on his mission to preserve the planet.
“My quest is just beginning; there is so much more of the planet’s beauty that I must share,” he says with enthusiasm. “I am proud to see that the message is getting out there. The youth are rising to the challenge that I have set for them, by joining forces and instigating various projects around the world. Many environmental projects have happened already and continue to do so. It gives me great hope to see what is happening and I’m proud to be able to give people the keys to open the doors.
Horn concludes, “I want the Pangaea message to continue to reach out to as many people as possible. Everyone has to understand that we have to handle our planet with respect and protect it so that it remains ours for a long time to come.”
Source: The Intrepid Explorer