All I Ask Is a Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By

Text and photos by Krystina Scheller C’08

Scheller takes the helm as Snow Dragon II’s owner looks for a way through the ice in Billefjorden, Svalbard.

The daughter of sailors, Hawaii native Krystina Scheller C’08 spent the first three years of her life in the South Pacific, but aside from taking a few lessons to please her parents, “I stayed away from boats,” she says. That all changed when the political science major met a seagoing Alaskan who offered her a job as a crew member on Snow Dragon II. Scheller said yes and began a two-year-long voyage that’s taken the 24-year-old from Cuba to the Azores to Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole.

I like visiting remote areas away from the standard tourist routes because it’s the best way to really learn about a country. Instead of relying on guidebooks to tell us where to go, we ask people what they cherish about their country.

One of my responsibilities is organizing Snow Dragon’s schedule and figuring out where she should go next. Staying off main tourist routes means that we often go to politically sensitive countries or areas that have a high level of piracy. I also have to consider prevailing winds and weather.

Select stops on Scheller’s journey.

After a country is selected, I need to know where we can pick up crew, if we need to carry extra diesel and whether supplies need to be put on board beforehand.

I’m researching a trip through the Northeast Passage (a route through the Arctic Ocean to Russia that until recently was impassable because of ice). It’s unlikely that I will get permission from the Russian government by next summer, so I have also been working on an itinerary for the eastern Mediter­ranean and Black Sea for the fall of 2010.

Whales tend to visit when we are moving slowly, but dolphins prefer speed. They love to ride the waves off Snow Dragon’s bow as she moves through the water. It’s very special to be on night watch and have dolphins for company, especially when the water is rich with phosphorescence, making the dolphins glow and leave trails that crisscross each other.

This past fall, we made our way back to Tromso, Norway, which is Snow Dragon’s winter base. We will do some exploring, but due to 24-hour darkness and storms, we will not venture far.

I have no plans for a career change anytime soon.


Two Years at Sea: A Slide Show

Two Years at Sea: A Slide Show

Text and photos by Krystina Scheller C’08

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