Words and photos by Iulia Galushina
Photojournalist Iulia Galushina knows how to sniff out a great story—whether it’s documenting the communities who live on the dried up shores of what was once the fourth-largest sea on Earth, or this here photo story, featuring an intrepid family of four who packed in their everyday lives, bought a sailboat and have been on the high seas ever since. Take it away, Iulia.
Marina, Andrey and two their daughters Nastya and Lada, are the first family to seek out the legendary landmarks featured in Jules Verne books: the ‘phantom islands,’ ‘Point Nemo,’ and Antarctica. The family dedicated their trip to Antarctica to the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the ice-covered continent by Russian sailors T. Bellingshausen and M. Lazarev.
Before the journey, the relationship between Marina and Andrey was on the verge of collapse; they were living separate lives and divorce was on the cards, but through discovering the common cause of sailing around the world together, they’ve found a happiness which has bound them together.
‘At breakfast, we watch documentaries how the world is organized, great people, and discoveries,’ says Marina. ‘We pause and discuss everything from science to politics, and sometimes our discussions get very heated and breakfast can stretch over several hours. We really love this time. And we love the microclimate, our own world, we have created here on Lady Mary.’
The crew’s connection with the outside world is minimal. The family read messages from their relatives, request weather forecasts via satellite mail, receive letters from loved ones, and send their own. Recently, the crew got a satellite tracker and now they can report the coordinates of Lady Mary to space in real-time.
‘If someday I need to fill in a questionnaire naming a person that changed the life of our family, I’ll answer Jules Verne,’ says Marina. ‘Perhaps our expedition will also change someone else’s life. Hundreds of people comment on social media that this extraordinary journey, done by ordinary family, helps them to believe in themselves and spread their wings.’
‘We’re not a perfect family,’ Marina says. ‘Each of us has different interests and ideas about comfort. We have smoothed “sharp edges,” worked out rules and daily routines so that everyone feels comfortable in the same boat. We learned to find freedom within the confinement of the yacht and being content with life at sea.’
Lada has friends in every part of the world. On every shore the family lands, Lada finds friends within the first five minutes… and usually a temporary grandmother too.
A sextant determines the position of the boat by the stars, the main navigational tool in the pre-electronic era. Andrey knows everything about setting sails, as well as about the currents, the storms, the clouds and the sun. He remembers the declination of the stars by heart. If electronic navigation fails, he can bring his crew to shore safety by the stars.
‘We spend our time studying, working, writing articles and books, making and editing movies, taking care of and educating our kids,’ Marina says. ‘In the seven years of isolation, we have learned to say “I love you” to each other. Now it has become our special key, which relieves the tension in any situation and helps to smooth out an unpleasant moment.’
A wheelhouse is the epicentre of yacht-life. It is the dining room, the living room with a movie theatre and an office. There are navigation instruments, a helm and a throttle lever, which allows you to control the yacht from inside.
Lada is the first child in history to have sailed in Antarctica and around Cape Horn. Rounding Cape Horn is regarded as a major challenge in yachting; the waters surrounding Cape Horn are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents, and icebergs.
A lot of supplies are stored in lockers and cabinets around the bed such as clothes and food. New things like stationery, fins and t-shirts, which, if necessary, can be exchanged for food. There is enough stock to keep them alive for the next six months in isolation.
Nastya has grown from a sailor to an assisting captain in the seven years she has spent on the yacht. She has also taken a practical course from the English Royal Yachting Association and presented herself with a skipper diploma for her 18th birthday. Because of her incredible skills and experience, she has already been requested to work on an expedition sailing though the Drake Strait to Antarctica.
‘The only way to survive on the ocean is to become a part of it, to integrate into its vibration, to tune in with it,’ Andrey says. ‘Do not try to fight the ocean. The whole boat, all the sails, the wind and the ocean are part of me, I learned to feel them even when I sleep.’