Professor Molchanov


It is difficult to talk about my accommodation in Antarctica while traveling by Argentina, Uruguay and Antarctica 2009, without referring to Professor Molchanov I already talked about in the article ANTARTIDA: Why?.

He Professor Molchanov it's an icebreaker (or rather, a expedition ship) Oceanographic research, modern and comfortable, designed as a ship reinforced against ice. This ship has been adapted for the passage, so that it is ideal for an expedition cruise of these characteristics.

With more than 70 meters of length, 12 meters of beam, a draft of approximately 4 meters, this vessel displaces about 2,000 tons. It has two 1,700 horsepower diesel engines and reaches a speed of 12.5 knots. It has an autonomy of 70 days of independent operation and holds the ISM certificate

The crew consists of about 20 people, enthusiastic and with extensive experience in navigation between ice. The captains are recognized experts in polar navigation. The expedition leaders and international speakers are specialists in the Arctic environment and environmental issues

The boat has a wide bridge and good outdoor observation areas from the deck. An excellent meal prepared by international chefs is served in their dining rooms, and those same spaces function as conference rooms. Other areas of public access to the ship are a lounge and bar, a small library, an infirmary and a sauna.

It can also accommodate 52 travelers in comfortable triple cabins without bathrooms (2), doubles without bathrooms (9), doubles with bathrooms (24), superiors (2) and a suite. All cabins have a desk and luggage space.

The ships transport complete Zodiac type boats, which are excellent for landing and observing wildlife in areas that are only accessible.

Length: 71.6 meters (236 feet)
Sleeve: 12.8 meters (42 feet)
Draft: 4.5 meters (15 feet)
Ice class: KM * UL (1) A2
Displacement: 2,140 Tons
Motors: 2 x 1560 hp diesel
Cruising Speed: 10 - 12 knots
Plazas: 53 travelers plus the crew.

In command of the ship is the captain; A professional sailor responsible for everything related to navigation. They are of Russian nationality; The professionalism of Russian captains in Polar navigation is recognized. At your service, there is the crew that varies according to the ship. In the case of Molchanov there are about 20 people.

The expedition is in charge of tour leader (leader of the expedition), professional guide who has a great knowledge of Antarctica and the polar environment in general, in all its aspects, historical, geographical, faunal, etc. Informative talks are given on all these aspects.

These people make up the ship's staff, both for this trip and for other similar trips, they are usually of different nationalities and the common language on board is English. Often, some components of the staff are Chilean or Argentinian, which facilitates the issue of connection with the crew.

I'm going to make a particular "GUIDED VISIT of this "floating accommodation".

I can't forget the moment I saw the Professor Molchanov through Puerto while having breakfast on the 4th floor of Hotel Mil810. That small expedition ship was the one that would allow me to realize a dream.

There they loaded our belongings and we did our first tasks, while we were leaving for the unknown. A welcome with champagne, an emergency drill in an airtight boat (in icy waters it could not be otherwise) ...

What surprised me most about the ship was the freedom to walk anywhere without anyone telling you anything because there were no prohibited areas for anyone. Not even the command post, where the captain and his assistants always accepted everyone's visit with pleasure

There they explained to you in their "English-Russian" navigation charts, GPS or other instruments on the ship, or it was simply a good place to have a pleasant time.

On the lower floor, in addition to finding the shared cabin area, we found the restaurant, place where besides breakfast, lunch and dinner, we received some interesting conference.

I don't want to miss the opportunity to write about Marina, our attentive Russian waitress who always had a smile to help us during the 13 days of the crossing.

Next to the restaurant was also the "bulletin board"where the plans of the day were published, news or even postcards could be bought. One of the main values ​​of Molchanov and its people was the principle of trust. You never paid anything. If you wanted a beer, or some postcards or a souvenir of the store upstairs, you took it and signed up. On the last day, back, there would be time to settle the debts.

Another of the places where we spend more time, was the 4th floor deck. There Josep and Ángela went out to smoke (inside it is prohibited) and the rest to hunt a photo or just have a nice talk surrounded by a place never seen before.

Although the ship's roof could be climbed there, the cold combined with the wind made us barely live. Another area of ​​the privileged ship was the bow.

From there we not only hunt the best snapshots of seals, icebergs and other Antarctic life, but we even allowed ourselves the luxury of enjoying a great barbecue moored in the most wonderful place in the world.

A mandatory crossing point before any landing was the "board of numbers"If someone was leaving, he had to necessarily turn his assigned number and turn it OFF. On the way back he could not forget to turn it around. It was the way to know if someone was out or if we had all arrived to sail.

The corridors of Molchanov They were, perhaps, the most claustrophobic zone. We could barely cross two people and in the middle of Drake Pass walking through them was a real traumatic experience.

From the restaurant floor you could access the Machine room, the only moderately banned area of ​​the ship (although we were finally able to access). It was almost better not to have seen her, haha

Although it may seem that in the most remote place on the planet he is completely incommunicado (and it is almost like that), Professor Molchanov had a communications room at the command post. There Sergeiv, with whom I made very good crumbs, let you use the ship's computer and the satellite to send emails or make a phone call. The price, 2.5 euros / min or 2.5 euros / email (both send and receive). If a message came to you, it was Sergeiv himself who kindly took it to your room.

I have left for last to talk about the two places on the ship where we spent more time, the bar and the cabin. The latter was a modest cabin with bunk beds, a very comfortable desk-table, an interior bathroom (in the case of having it not shared) and closets on all sides. It must be recognized that the stay was very comfortable and fun. The door was NEVER locked.

But, without a doubt, the best place in Molchanov was its Pub. It was the center of meeting and attraction of the ship. It had all kinds of tea, coffee, sopistant (free) as well as alcoholic beverages and beers (for a fee but far from what I could think of very affordable and served to your liking following the principle of trust mentioned above). There were also games, a library, a road map, ...

The nights in the bar was the moment when the whole ship, especially the "kid", we met to comment on the day, take some "slug" and laugh at the photos of the day. English, Spanish, Greek, German, Dutch… These few m2 listened for 13 days to speak many languages

The we would recommend? It does not make sense this question if we refer to Professor Molchanov, because the obvious answer would be YES. But this ship was not just an accommodation, not even a means of transport. Professor Molchanov was that "big brother" that allowed 51 privileged to fulfill a dream that I wish many people could fulfill and to those who encourage them to find their own expedition ship. This will not be "my dear Molchanov," unfortunately, this will be the last season that crosses Antarctic waters ...

Isaac (with the Antarctic family, Josep and Ángela)