Enero 29th, 2016

Andy Leemann, Ribexpedition leader:
“You have a gold mine here. Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Andy Leemann is an icon in world navigation expeditions, with a sense of social adventure and environmental protection. He’s spent almost his whole life on the water. Seas and rivers are his preferred way to travel while investigating and developing social actions, in places where these routes are the only connection to the outside world.
Along with ten other men who, like Andy, love adventure and nature, they chose Patagonia as the destination for their latest feat called the “End of the World Expedition”, a 24-day trip through the fjords in this mesmerizing destination, where the logistics were put into operation by OXXEAN.


Our conversation with Andy took place the day before the expedition left. We talked with him about this feat and the value that Patagonia has for boating lovers to have a memorable experience in this unique place whose charm, culture, and landscape determined that he and his team would be the first to make the journey. The expedition coincides with the “Captains of the Patagonia” initiative created by OXXEAN and SASSYS to promote the macrozone, where those who come find something distinctive, with trained professionals who know and form part of the logistics team that can support them, making the destination entirely satisfactory.
“Our whole team has the sea at heart,” he explains while gazing at the OXXEAN Marina bay where the two rigid inflatable boats that they will use for the expedition are docked.
Their 3,500-km-long route begins in Puerto Montt and ends in Cape Horn, in the Magallanes Region.


Why did you choose Patagonia as the destination for this journey?
For someone who is a boating professional, like a captain, this voyage is important. It is an accomplishment in your career to travel around Cape Horn.
On the other hand, there’s the people. We want to see what is happening in Patagonia. It’s fascinating for both its culture and for the nature.
But it’s also about the possibility of coming to a place that’s pure and unique. Normally, my expeditions include a social element. I work in Africa with issues like malaria, child protection, and care of the environment, with organizations like WWF, Greenpeace, and other NGOs. On these trips I have seen how we are killing our waters. Glaciers are melting little by little, and the worst is what we will be leaving to our children.
In India, for example, out of the 25 most important rivers, there are now only two with water. And without water, we can’t do anything. You are very fortunate to live here where there is so much water, because there are continents on which there’s none, or very little, remaining.


How did your relationship with OXXEAN begin?
All my life I’ve worked on yachts and large ships. I am in Palma de Mallorca, which is one of the biggest centers for the industry in the Mediterranean. There I spoke with several captains that have gone through the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Montt, and that have gone to the Strait of Magellan as well. Everyone told me the same thing. Andy, it’s beautiful. There is nothing more beautiful regarding nature that can be found, but they won’t give you the permits to make the journey, indicating that the permits are granted by the Maritime Authority, and that it would be very complicated.
But against all odds, we got permission.
And for that, you have to work with those who know. You need logistics. I sent about 120 emails to operators looking for logistics and one of them said to me, tell me what you need, and recommended OXXEAN.
We saw some of the logistical operation, some of the importation and paperwork. And we got the permits.
What I want to say is that when you have collaboration and you’re working with the right partners, it can be done.


What do you think of “Captains of the Patagonia” the initiative to promote this destination in a way similar to that which gave rise to your expedition?
In order for this to work, you need people who know about the industry. Captains, yacht and ship owners look for that. They are property owners, business owners, they have different concepts and means. Cost is not an issue here. What is important is to know who to consult to obtain solutions. If you choose teams that know what needs exist and can respond to those needs, it will all work out.
What we need in this industry is just that. And when you have here a team that can do it… the yachts won’t come here without being sure that they can count on good logistics and infrastructure.
The best publicity is word of mouth. Recommendation. If a yachtsman comes and has a good experience, he will communicate that.
I know it will work and people will come. We’re the first.

Would you recommend Patagonia and this navegational route to others?
I’ve been navigating ships for half my life and I know the world very well because I’ve made so many journeys, and I can say that there are two places on earth that you can enjoy because they’re the two purest parts, where you can say, there’s air here: Tasmania Island in Australia, and Patagonia.
I believe that you have a gold mine here, because when yachtsmen and sea-lovers talk about Patagonia, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Here you get the feeling that this is everything.