The Godforsaken Sea

Icebergs in the Southern Ocean, near the South Orkney Islands. (Liam Quinn)

Icebergs in the Southern Ocean, near the South Orkney Islands. (Liam Quinn)


"Below 40 south there is no law; below 50 there is no God." The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is the most dangerous and least understood of our great oceans. A few solo sailors and a historian join Philip Coulter on a radio expedition to find out about those giant waves and fearsome storms, and what happens to people who go to the loneliest place on the planet.

The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is the most remote place on earth, and if you go there and get into trouble -- which you almost certainly will -- there may be no way to save you. In the Southern Ocean you are further from human habitation than an astronaut on the International Space Station. There are winds of 50 kilometers an hour, waves higher than a house, sometimes for weeks on end; it can destroy the soul and the body. Sailing the Southern Ocean is the ultimate test of endurance, and some sailors do it single-handed.

Participants in the program:

Derek Hatfield
is the first Canadian to race solo around the world twice.

Dee Caffari
is the first woman to race around the world solo in both directions.

Glenn Wakefield has attempted two solo circumnavigations.

Derek Lundy
is the author of many books, including The Godforsaken Sea.

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