Venturing into the unknown takes courage, skill, and most importantly caution, while exploring remote corners of the globe far from civilisation requires meticulous planning and preparation – very little can be left to chance. We’ve therefore assembled a team of highly motivated and dependable individuals who share a fascination for and understanding of truly wild places and who take their roles very seriously.
Our crew members are knowledgeable and very experienced sailors whose primary concerns are your safety and your enjoyment of the exclusive destinations we visit. And the team members who are working behind the scenes are equally passionate about making sure that everyone gets what they need when they need it – in any situation.
Ron Pfister is the founder and director of North-by-West. As a marine biologist, nature photographer and sailor since the early 1990’s, he has combined his passion and caring for the oceans and the beauty of the natural world with his firm belief that one has to experience the precious places of our planet first-hand to deeply care about them. This mindset and his life-long fascination with ice motivated him to explore the Arctic in the first place. What he found in the far north surpassed his every expectation and kindled a desire to share his love of and his curiosity about this silent world with others. He is currently the primary skipper of Ezra and the leading mind behind the planning of our expedition-style voyages.
Peter Kaesberger has been a passionate sailor since his early youth and started working as a commercial skipper during his studies. His fascination with sailing influenced his choice to follow a career path in renewable energy management. In parallel, he has planned and skippered many charter voyages and has participated in numerous regatta races throughout the world. While rebuilding and running his own 47 ft. catamaran for over a decade, he has refined his knowledge of all aspects of boat ownership, seamanship and voyage logistics. When he is not busy sailing or managing renewable energy projects, he follows his passion for art by creating his own paintings. Peter is in charge of bookings and voyage logistics and is therefore your first point of contact with North-by-West. He also now and then takes a turn at Ezra’s helm.
Fiona Danks is a highly dedicated and passionate ecologist and conservationist whose primary focus has been resource development and climate change in polar regions. She currently works as a senior programme officer at UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge, United Kingdom. In the past, she has been the Station Manager of the Norwegian Polar Institute’s Research Station in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard and has worked as a research scientist at Norut and NPI in Tromsø, Norway. Fiona is currently collaborating with North-by-West in a consulting capacity and may be guiding voyages for us in the future.
Naomi Hart is a multimedia artist who is inspired by nature and human relationships to the world. She is particularly interested in bridging traditional divides between art and science and for several years has worked closely with academics and researchers in remote locations all over the world on projects about the environment. In 2017-18 she was Leverhulme artist in residence at the University of Sheffield, spending ten months working in the Geography department with some of the world’s finest ice scientists and the summer with them in the field in Svalbard in the High Arctic. She took the resulting exhibition to the Royal Geographical Society in London in March and gave a talk about her work as part of ‘Ice Alive’, an organisation which aims to bridge science and art to explore the cryosphere and of which she is an affiliate member. Naomi was artist in residence on board North-by-West’s expedition to Greenland in 2015 and is still captivated by the frozen ends of our earth.
Sandra Petrowitz is a journalist by trade and a photographer by passion. Curiosity lured the naturalist and intrepid traveler into visiting Antarctica where she immediately fell for the high latitudes’ nature and light. As soon as possible she was back – and continues to return to Antarctica and the Arctic every season, working as guide on board expedition cruise ships and leading dedicated photo trips. The polar enthusiast loves to share her knowledge and passion – though at times she struggles for words even remotely befitting the delicate beauty of the polar regions. Sandra will be guiding voyages for us in future seasons.
Dunja Brang is a running therapist and personal training coach who focuses on unlocking the potential of being active in nature as a source of inspiration and strength for her clients. She is the founder of erlebnislaufen.de, offering exclusive running and adventure tours in Scandinavia. Growing up in the Eifel-region of western Germany, she spent many hours exploring the local wilderness during her childhood, kindling a life-long love for nature and the outdoors. Her passion for exploring pristine landscapes and her wanderlust have since then led her to many remote corners of the globe. She currently lives in Cologne and spends as much time in rural Norway as her busy schedule allows. The Trail & Sail voyages we offer are a joint effort of erlebnislaufen.de and North-by-West.