All Aboard Northabout

Northabout is a purpose-built polar exploration sailing yacht. She has already sailed both the Northeast and Northwest passages of the Arctic Ocean in different seasons. Last summer, to prepare for such a treacherous journey, Northabout sailed to the Svalbard Archipelago to see how both the yacht and crew coped with Arctic conditions and to prepare for the challenge ahead.

How is Northabout specially designed for polar exploration?

  • The boat is made from aluminium and has been reinforced so it can break through the ice. The bottom of the boat is especially strong.
  • The front of the boat (called the “bow”) has been shaped so it can ride up on the ice and break through it.
  • The propeller is protected in case it hits ice.
  • There is a retractable keel meaning that the yacht can have a more shallow draw and therefore get into some areas that could otherwise be inaccessible.

All the gear!

Northabout is equipped with all the kit you would expect (and some things you wouldn’t!) for an expedition to the Arctic. Some of the things you will find on board are:

  • An inflatable boat for exploring and reaching places that Northabout can’t get to
  • A probe in the water to measure temperature and the depth of the water
  • A generator and solar panels
  • Navigation equipment such as radar, cameras, a drone, charts and depth sounders.
  • Safety equipment including an 8-person life raft which will be strapped to the top of the boat, and a satellite phone so the boat can contact the coastguard if they get into trouble.
  • A water making machine that converts salt water to drinking water


The crew will be taking lots of warm clothes and also a bread maker, although it only works in good weather!

Northabout Stats:

Length: 15 meters (49ft)

Sleeps: 7 people

Speed: 7 Knots (7.7MPH) if the wind is behind – 4 knots (4.4MPH) if going against the wind

Distance to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean: 13,500 nautical miles

Sailing into history…


Leading up to this record breaking voyage, Northabout was moored in Bristol next to one of the most important historic ships in the world, Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Northabout will return to Bristol after the Arctic expedition and is expected to remain moored alongside the SS Great Britain during November and December 2016.

Getting ready – a major re-fit for Northabout


To get the yacht into top shape for this epic voyage, she underwent a major re-fit at Sharpness Dry Dock. Check out the pictures to the right to see the preparation over the last few weeks.  Click on each picture to enlarge it.

Watch this space – coming soon is a virtual tour of Northabout and we will be updating this page with news from the crew about life on board the yacht throughout the 4-month expedition!