The Belgian Antarctic Expedition (BelgAE)
, named after its expedition vessel Belgica
, was the first expedition to winter in the Antarctic
Preparation and Surveying
In 1896, after a period of intensive lobbying, Adrien de Gerlache
purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, which, following an extensive refit, he renamed as the 'Belgica'. De Gerlache had worked together with the Geographical Society of Brussels to organise a national subscription, but was only possible to outfit his expedition after the Belgian government voted in favor of two large subsidies, making it a state-supported undertaking.A. Cabay, 'The funding of the Belgian Antarctic expedition 1897-1899' in: Decleir, H. en C. De Broyer ed., The Belgica expedition centennial: perspectives on Antarctic science and history
(Brussels 2001) 83-92. With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen
, Frederick Cook
and Henryk Arctowski
, they set sail from Antwerp
on 16 August 1897.
After leaving Antwerp, the expedition visited Madeira, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. The Belgica
was especially received enthusiastically in Rio, where a large Belgian community lived. But, the Brazilians were also very much interested in the Belgian scientific undertaking. The Historical and Geographical Society of Rio held a special meeting where the scientists and officers of the expedition were offered membership.A. de Gerlache de Gomery, Fifteen months in the......