Icebird Skipper and Crew

icebird skippers cath hewCath Hew – Owner / Skipper / Capitana!

Cath Hew has been sailing all her life, from racing dinghies at the tender age of 4, to offshore ocean racing yachts as a teenager, then sailing around the world with her own children in the 90’s, in a yacht built largely by herself.

Cath has participated in many major ocean races including the disastrous 1998 Sydney/Hobart race and brings a wealth of experience in seamanship, sailing and remote area operations.

In 2003, after her purchase of Spirit of Sydney along with her then partner, Cath skippered Spirit for her first Antarctic season and her love affair with polar regions began. Her dream of providing expedition support in one of the most beautiful and exciting places on earth became reality and to this day Cath loves sharing the adventure with the select group of wonderful and interesting people who choose to join her expeditions.

Icebird was purchased in 2011, and Cath has relished her role as ‘Capitana’ of such a beautiful vessel which is ideally suited to comfortable expedition sailing in the high latitudes. Cath also enjoys cooking and makes a point of excellent provisioning.

Cath holds the following qualifications:

  • RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Commercially endorsed to 200t
  • AYF – Australian Yachting Federation Sea Safety and Survival Certificate
  • Australian Communications Authority -Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate
  • PADI – Open Waters Diving Certificate
  • Wilderness First Responder certificate

Michael Brooks – Alternate Skipper

Mike started sailing as a teenager whilst a marine cadet in the UK. His first sailing offshore experiences were aboard TS Royalist and Stavros S Niarchos, where he later returned as a volunteer crew member. Joining the Merchant Navy as a Marine Engineering Officer, then later the Royal Navy, Mike has had a varied and interesting career at sea spanning over 20 years. Mike is an Ocean Professional.

During the last decade, Mike’s passion for sailing to wild remote places has taken him to the Arctic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean including remote locations such as Greenland, Svalbard, Iceland, Northern Norway and the jungle regions of Darien and Guna. Mike has extensively sailed his own yachts and worked as a Charter Captain, Super Yacht Captain, Super Yacht Engineer and Yachtmaster Instructor. This Northern summer 2023, Mike is sailing his own steel yacht to Greenland in support of a climbing expedition.

Interested in mountaineering, Mike is a Winter Mountain Leader and has completed mountaineering expeditions in Europe, Africa and the Arctic. As a dive instructor and tech diver Mike has dived around the world, diving extensively in the Caribbean where he ran a dive centre, participated in marine research projects and cave-dived in the limestone karst systems throughout the Yucatan peninsula.

Mike holds:

• RYA/MCA Ocean Yachtmaster commercially endorsed to 200 Gt.
• RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Instructor
• STCW 95 (2010) Safety training.
• STCW 95 (2010) Medical Care On-Board
• PADI Speciality Instructor
• TDI Full Cave Diver
• Winter Mountain Leader
• British Military Ski tour proficiency

Phil Wickens – Mountain and Kayak Guide

icebird skippersPhil has made more than 18 sailing yacht trips to the peninsula as well as 30 first ascents and ski descents of previously unclimbed Antarctic mountains.

With over a decade of guiding in Antarctica, Phil’s intimate knowledge of the Antarctic Peninsula is difficult to rival, as is the number of routes he has climbed and skied in Antarctica. In addition to working as a Field Guide for the British Antarctic Survey for three years, which included teaching mountain skills and guiding in both summer and winter, he has led climbing and skiing expeditions to remote areas of the Himalaya, Canada, the Arctic and the Antarctic, and was recently Vice President of the Alpine Club. His first sailing-climbing-skiing expedition to Antarctica was in 2005, when Phil recognized the unique potential of expeditions combining sailing and mountaineering and decided to set up SKI-ANTARCTICA, see

In November 2010 he organized and led the successful Alpine Club Antarctic Expedition, summitting eight Antarctic mountains, six of which were first ascents. Then in January 2012, Phil led the Eagles Ski club to a further 8 first ascents, confirming that Phil is the Antarctic mountaineer with most first ascents ever achieved. When not leading his own expeditions, he works as a freelance guide and lecturer on small expedition ships in the polar regions. Phil says  “‘Icebird’ is ideal for skiing and climbing in Antarctica as it can access a lot of remote places, and provide the flexibility that is required to make these trips successful. In addition, they are comfortable home bases, and Cath and her crew fully understand the needs and requirements of climbers and skiers.

Phil joins Cath as a guide and expedition leader for groups and expeditions that would like to ski and climb or undertake multi day kayak trips in Antarctica. Cath can vouch for the fact that Phil is an easy, nice personality to have around, has become a good sailor and best of all is a wonderful cook! He also is a mine of information about the peninsula and its history, as well as being a very accomplished photographer.

icebird skippers


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