North-East Passage, 2002

The challenge was to sail from Europe to the Pacific with a minimum crew, in less than one year, following the route open in 1878-1879 by the Finnish baron A.E. Nordenskjöld aboard the Swedish vessel Vega. Since then, only very few sailors have succeeded in this achievement. Not only the constant drifting ice, but also Russian authorization present considerable difficulties.

Map of the expedition, by France Pinczon du Sel

This is regrettable as this route is about 5000 nautical miles shorter and reduces the voyage length up to two weeks. It enables trade from Europe to North America and Japan, particularly for products from Siberia. The diverse and unique environment of the North East Passage deserves to be better understood. We hope we helped in achieving a balance between commercial interests and protection of the natural area.

The project was initiated by Eric Brossier.


Adjusting and perfecting Vagabond, her equipment and the logistics; getting Russian permissions. Expedition "The North East Passage with Vagabond" Departure from St Quay Portrieux, France (12th of May) - wintering in Kamchatka, before sailing to Nagoya.

2000 - 2001

Preparation of the crew and the vessel (launch on 17th of march).

Foundation of the Association Nord-Est.

2 expeditions of 4 months to the East coast of Greenland (june - september) with French Polar Institute.

Watercolors from France Pinczon du Sel


Project organisation, partners quest, building up an association, acquiring Vagabond.

The Crew

The vessel

The long-flight bird Vagabond, a 47 feet steel boat with a low draft, has been specially built and prepared to sail through arctic floating ice. She already has a long and impressive history of more then 10 polar expeditions and several world records. Recently, she has been totally refitted. Now Vagabond is even more suitable for severe arctic conditions and offers all conveniences and an exceptional self-support for wintering!


Internet was a major contribution, sending daily reports and pictures to sponsors, partners, media, schools, land crew and sailors. The on-land communication team and the webmaster provided a regular renewal of the web site and fast data diffusion to organizations interested.

Vagabond is equipped with computers and satellite communication devices to provide sponsors and partners in the expedition with an online situation of passage, pictures, live reports and interviews from the high Arctic. After the expedition, all our collected material will be presented in a film, a book and several reports and conferences.