Pioneer Circumnavigation via Southern Capes

Iain Macneil, CEO of Witherbys, one of Scotland’s largest and most successful publishing companies, with specialist titles in the shipping sector, and a crew of four embarked on a first-of-its-kind circumnavigation at the start of December.

They are attempting to complete a circumnavigation via the Southern Capes on board ASTRA, a historic vessel that served with the Swedish Sea Rescue Service between 1995 and 2016.

The vessel was selected for its full displacement and safety characteristics and will enable a world first for a “round the world circumnavigation (via the Capes) on an owner/skippered full displacement motorboat of less than 24 m.”

The expedition left Lanzarote on December 1 and will finish there some five months later, after the crew has crossed the equator twice and traveled through 360° of longitude at a minimum distance of 24,600 nautical mi.

The route will take ASTRA around all of the Capes in the Southern Ocean and involve passing south of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa; Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia; South East Cape, Tasmania; South Cape, New Zealand; and Cape Horn, Chile.

The usual, established circumnavigation route for motor vessels is via the comparatively gentle waters of the Panama and Suez Canals. ASTRA will take the more challenging route via the Southern Ocean, which is typically only taken by merchant ships or expeditions heading to Antarctica.

This unique and challenging expedition comes after 10 years of ambition and two years of preparation and sea trials. It will showcase what can be achieved by a historic vessel such as ASTRA using the latest technology, equipment and skills.  

For more information about MV ASTRA and its crew, visit

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