EYOS is lucky to work with some of the most accomplished and capable captains in the industry. This includes Timo Sneep, one of the men at the helm of Nansen Explorer. Join us for a conversation with this intrepid captain about sailing a world class expedition yacht, charting exploratory courses in the polar regions, and sharing the world’s most remote destinations with guests.

Can you introduce yourself and explain in a few words your journey to captaining Nansen Explorer? How did you get your start on yachts and what drew you to the responsibility of being a captain?

I’ve been at sea for over 30 years, the last 17 years as Captain. After I worked for the Dutch coast guard on their emergency standby vessel for 15 years, I was asked to become Captain of M/Y Legend in Antarctica. After the first season in the ice in 2016, I never left the polar regions. After captaining multiple vessels in these areas, I found my place with Nansen Polar Expeditions on the Nansen Explorer because she is like any other.

Photo: Mosaic Studios

What, in your opinion, makes for the ideal expedition yacht? How does Nansen fit into this category for you and what sets her apart from other expedition yachts on the water today?

The ideal expedition yacht is a yacht that’s tailored for the role she needs to fill. Nansen Explorer is tailored to fulfill multiple roles in the expedition world. We can charter in all the polar regions of the world, but we can also act as a perfect support vessel for other yachts that don’t have all the capabilities needed for a specific voyage. We can even serve in a research role, which we have done. One of the things that sets Nansen Explorer apart is her speed in launching operations. When cruising along we can be ready within minutes if we find something special. But the most important thing an expedition vessel needs is a relaxed atmosphere on board; clients need to feel they can relax and enjoy their time on the ship and their time out in the field and we certainly foster that.

Nansen is well suited for expedition operations in both polar regions, so you have seen the entire spectrum of conditions and challenges at sea. What were some of your most challenging conditions?

Have there been any particular expeditions that stand out among all the others?
Nansen Explorer is a very capable ship and can handle any situation. Some of the most challenging conditions we had were while working with NOAA at Cape Shirreff in the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. We were working to unload parts for the construction of a research new base so that scientists could study the krill populations of the Southern Ocean. Conditions were very rough and difficult but we were still able to transfer forty zodiac loads of construction materials to the island! Another stands out as well — our 3-ship flotilla in the Northwest Passage. This was a very special once-in-a-lifetime experience in one of the most navigationally challenging waterways there is.

Photo: Christopher Scholey

How many years have you been with Nansen and where have you taken her?

I joined Nansen Explorer in November 2021 and in that time I’ve taken her on several trips to Antarctica, Greenland, Canadian High Arctic (Northwest Passage) and Svalbard.

In what ways does your expertise affect the guest experience? How do you work with the EYOS team to decide things like landing sites and itineraries?

I think my expertise together with that of the EYOS team helps to give the guest an experience that they would not get anywhere else. I like working with EYOS a lot and I think with my knowledge of the areas and the capabilities of the vessel, EYOS and Nansen Explorer will always try to push the boundaries and come up with the most special landings and itineraries.

You’ve already broken boundaries and pushed the limits more than most in yachting. What’s next? What expeditions are you looking forward to with EYOS and Nansen Explorer?

We have already done so much, but there is always room for more. I’m looking forward to maybe going to Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land..

Photo: Christopher Scholey