One look at our stories, nationalities and sailing backgrounds (or lack thereof) makes it clear – the Barba crew is a curious bunch. To be sure, we’re hardly the Volvo Ocean Racers. But the tale of how Barba’s crew came together for the 2015 Arctic Expedition to Svalbard is no less interesting, and a story of its own.
You could sum it up to serendipitous and random encounters. Friends-of-friends met on vacation, social media connections…those are the kinds of things that introduced us to the captain in the months and years leading up to this summer’s Svalbard expedition. For such a regimented guy, Andreas loves a giant dose of randomness. And the fact that we’re all in it for adventure – be it diving in a fjord, paragliding off a ridge, fishing for the big one or summiting a peak – keeps us focused when the going gets tough, no natter how different we are as individuals.
Our multi-national crew of four men and one woman hails from four countries (Norway, Germany, Russia and the US), and we speak seven languages between us. But there’s only one native English speaker onboard, so conversations are humorous at best and borderline perilous at worst (“Are you saying ‘channel or shallow?’”). New faces are always appreciated, but things never get boring onboard. And that the joy and adventure is going to be in the journey as much as the destination is clear.
Read on for a who’s who of the crew…
Born: 25 Jan. 1985
In: Titisee-Neustadt, Germany
Lives: Montafon, Austria
Day job: Geographer and photographer in Montafon, Austria
Onboard: Photographer and Videographer, general crew
Languages spoken: German and English
Barba’s onboard photographer and videographer, Daniel Hug bounces around the boat with boundless energy. If he’s not sheep-herding the every-which-way crew into perfect position to maximize light for a photo he’s nose-down in his laptop in the salon, downloading and editing masses of digital material. Originally from Germany’s Black Forest, Daniel is always humming some random ear worm and is the king of blurting out strange noises to get a laugh out of us. Every once in a while he busts out his lederhosen and he’s a master flammekuche chef, too. Back in Austria, he works as a geographer and avalanche observer in Montafon in the Austrian Alps. Considering his fun personality and cute bed head, it’s not surprising that Dani´s previous jobs have included hair model, ski guide and giver of the Aufguss in Alpine saunas. The mountains are everything to this man, and he’s an avid paraglider and backcountry skier, too. Daniel once spent some tense hours deep in an Austrian glacier crevasse, saved only by the fact that he was able to revive his cell phone back to life with some body warmth and get service and a lift out. Another memorable life moment, he says, was finishing the Haute-Route in Zermatt. Daniel had never sailed when he met Barba’s captain through a common friend in Germany, and soon enough he found himself flying to Stavanger for sailing training in the southern fjords and paragliding off Kjerag. It was all unofficial training, of course, for the 2015 expedition. “It’s been a long dream for me to visit the Arctic,” he says, “I want to see the glaciers and go paragliding and climbing under the midnight sun.”
Born: 11 Sept. 1984
In: Moscow, Russia
Lives: Prague, Czech Republic
Day job: Computer Programmer
Onboard: General crew
Languages spoken: Russian, Czech, English
Ivan found his way to the Barba 2015 Expedition at the last minute and in perhaps the most surprising way, which makes it all the cooler to see how he’s meshed right in. We spotted a photo the Moscow-born adventurer had posted of an ice-bound sailboat in Novaya Zemlya on Instagram, and a connection was made. Next thing we knew he’d joined us in Trondheim and was actively competing with Andreas and Jon for biggest and best fish caught on board (“Russia always wins!” is a common refrain, if not always accurate). Ivan is definitely the keenest angler of the group, and vanishes during port stops to cast out his lines in rivers and lakes. He regales the crew with tales of sailing on a plywood boat through the Russian ice and repairing it onshore while polar bears stalked his entourage. He cooks a mean fish soup, best served with a knob of garlic, “50 grams of cognac” and washed down with a toast to “Arctica.” He once sailed around the Caribbean, but despite the good fishing and warm waters the place didn’t do all that much for him. Arctica is the place that calls to Ivan, and sailing to Svalbard is a dream. “I really want to see the Russian parts of Svalbard – Barentsburg and Pyramiden – to see how they live and how they communicate with Norwegians,” he says, “I want to collect memories now rather than money, I want to have many things to remember when I’m old.” Cheers to that.
Born: 22 Dec. 1985
In: Oslo, Norway
Lives: Gjovik, Norway
Day job: Building Engineer
Onboard: First mate
Languages spoken: Norwegian, English, Swedish
Jon grew up in Eastern Norway with an inborn love for the mountains and hiking in the country’s wildest places. That passion led him to go walkabout in his backyard in quite an extreme way in 2008 when he walked the entire length of Norway – 2,519.5 kilometers from north to south, according to his count. Over the course of five months he fished for his food and slept in a tent. But even a terrestrial person can turn toward the sea. And that’s exactly what happened when Jon spontaneously decided to sail to the Arctic island of Jan Mayen in 2012 on Barba with Andreas, despite never having met Andreas (the two were introduced over the phone via a common friend) and never having set foot on a sailboat, either. Adaptable guy and ultimate survivor that he is, Jon was instantly hooked and has since sailed from Norway to the Faroe Islands on Barba and completed his skipper’s exam back home. Onboard, he’s best loved for his calm demeanor and humble attitude. His engineer’s mind is always problem solving on Barba or calculating the benefits or defects of craftsmanship on land. And during any port stop he’s the first one scouting skyward, figuring out which peak he’s going to summit or which plateau he’ll return to later to snow kite. Jon’s been to Svalbard before on a hiking and camping trip but this time, he says, will be different. “Being there in a sailboat will be a far better platform for activities. It’s safer, more comfortable and with much better access to outlying areas,” he says. In the future, he hopes to buy his own boat and sail around the world.
ANDREAS B. HEIDE
Born: 4 Jan. 1980
In: Stavanger, Norway
Lives: Stavanger, Norway
Day job: Preparing for Barba expeditions
Onboard: Captain, owner of Barba
Languages spoken: Norwegian, English, French
Picture a modern day Viking and he will look something like Andreas. Gaze always turned toward the ocean and a sea horse – in this case Barba rather than the old wooden ships of Viking days – close by at the ready for setting out on it. Andreas grew up on the coast of Stavanger in the fjords of southern Norway, fishing and paddling a rowboat and narrowing escaping death by drowning a few times. He went on to become a marine biologist, a diver and parachutist in the Norwegian Navy, a fisheries researcher and to eventually captain and own his own sailboats. He’s sailed to Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Jan Mayen. And it’s safe to say more cold and icy places will always be in his future after the Svalbard expedition, too. Andreas is not one who looks to balmy and calm Caribbean waters for inspiration (try as the crew might to lure him to French Polynesia and other tropical paradises). He prefers the challenges of the cold and ice by far. He can be hard to please, perfectionist that he is, but you’ll never seem him smile wider than during those magical moments when Barba’s sails are full and she’s pitched at a perfect angle or the crew is scouring the horizon for whales. He’ll be the first to put on his drysuit and dive in with an orca or a humpback. And his spirit is lightest when he’s cozied in a corner in the Barba salon late-night in his captain’s hat. It’s those moments and others that keep the man on a perpetual mission, with one adventure just laying the groundwork for the next. “I’m going to Svalbard for the pristine nature, the very challenge it represents and I also want to visit these areas that are only accessible by boat,” he says, “I’m dying to see polar bears, walrus and also hopefully blue whales, too.”
Born: 9 Oct. 1975
In: Washington, DC USA
Lives: Rodez, France
Day job: Travel writer
Onboard: Travel writer, media liaison, general crew
Languages spoken: English, French, Spanish, Dutch
Terry and Andreas met through Couchsurfing in Bergen back in 2011 and shared a beer on her first trip to Norway. It was to be followed by numerous cold adventures at sea and a warm friendship. She has fulfilled her dream, seeing the world as a travel journalist for 15 years, while reporting about diving with great white sharks, weaving through the famous WWII shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon and snorkeling with orcas in Andenes, Norway, among other topics. There is a small gap in the adventure portfolio however, and this is where Barba comes sailing in. In the rather strenuous and, at times, stressful environment of a sailboat that could have been a few feet bigger and with fancier shower facilities, Terry has earned her place as a crewmember. With the opportunity to try out cold water diving, see whales up close and access remote and little-visited parts of Norway aboard Barba, she’s made repeat appearances over the years. She’s first and foremost an adventurer, with diving as one of the many activities she engages in. And she´s also a skilled writer, communicating the Barba message to the outside world. She is renowned for her people skills. And with 15 years of on-the-job training engaging with random people in every corner of the planet, she can arrive in any town and leave with new friends and useful information for the next happenings. “I became hooked on the icy places after trips to Greenland and the Floe Edge of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic,” she says, “I can’t think of a bigger adventure than traveling to the Arctic and seeing Svalbard by sailboat. Afterwards, I think I’ll go dive somewhere tropical as a reward.”
Photos by Daniel Hug / Terragraphy.de