Pacific, 30th august 2002,

date: fri, 30 aug 2002 15:26:31 +0400
yacht vagabond
master brossier

dear mr. brossier,

we would like to congratulate you on your successful passage of the
northern sea route. we wish you and your crew further success, good
health and safety sailing.

n. babitch

(head of marine operations, murmansk shipping company)

Dmitriy Laptev Strait

Dmitriy Laptev Strait, 21st august 2002,

6 am, Paris time, Vagabond is on the same meridian than Nagoya (place of birth of the Captain). It is 5 pm on board, we have now been using our destination time for 2 days, our watches and instruments went over the 9 time zones separating Murmansk from Provideniya.

From Chelyuskin Cape, to cross the Laptev Sea and to reach the Lena Delta, we have to go south-west around a large ice pack field, following the coast for about 3 days. Several times the drifting ice floes appear in front of Vagabond, sometimes suddenly in the fog, creating some rush to remove the sails and to manoeuvre across the broken ice pack, being watched by some walrus and seals, sleepy or curious. The advices sent by the Murmansk Shipping Company, to whom we are reporting our position twice per day, are confirmed during a radio contact with an icebreaker. These advices are as useful as the discussions with the Dagmar Aaen's crew, with whom we compare all information received on board about ice conditions. But nothing will replace our faithful crow's nest for an accurate ice watch.

Tiksi, important town of Yakoutia (the greatest Republic of the Russian Federation), has only 5000 inhabitants today, compare to 30000 by the end of the Soviet time. The activity of this important harbour of the Northern Sea Route has slow down a lot, and there are a lot of places along piers to welcome Vagabond, first foreign yacht to stop here. The Russian yacht Apostle Andrey spent winter here before sailing the North-East Passage in 1999; she is now sailing the North-West Passage.

This is a mountainous area, and the surrounding tundra offers enough mushrooms to keep busy all inhabitants on this Sunday 18th of August! Exchange of painted homes, France draws a watercolour of Vagabond and swaps it for 2 paintings showing traditional tents. The evenk artist also brings us 5kg of fish, and shows us some work of art made of mammoth tusk for instance. After having answered the questions of a journalist from the Lighthouse of the Arctic, the local paper, our 2 days stop end with the interesting visit of the museum, specially organised for us and for 2 Ukrainian travellers going around the world only hitch-hiking, all means of transport concerned.

A large area of drifting ice floes is about to close our route further east, Murmansk is recommending us not to waste any time. So we leave Tiksi, little disappointed not being able to welcome here, few days later, the adventurer Gilles Elkaim, crossing the Russian Arctic since May 2000. Arved Fuchs has to wait for 2 crew members before sailing again with Dagmar Aaen.

New pictures are on-line on

A bientot,

Eric Brossier

Cap Tcheliouskine

Cape Chelyuskin, 12th of August 2002

The Great Arctic Expedition, decided by the Empress Anna and made of 5 expeditions, employed 1000 people from 1733 to 1742 to explore the possibility of a sea route along the Siberian coast. The marine officer Chariton Laptev and his second, the lieutenant Chelyuskin, explored the Taymir Peninsula with dog sledges.

"On 19th of August 1878, at 6 pm, the Vega and the Lena dropped anchor in some indentation of this cape, open to the north. So was reached an important result, wished from the beginning of the century. For the first time a ship was anchoring in front of the northern cape of Asia. In honour of this happy event ships dressed and fired a salvo; back from a walk ashore, fine wines were opened." (A.E.Nordenskjold)

"17th of August 1991. Our speed is about 3 knots in a very dense pack. At 6:30 the Russya joined the convoy and go ahead escorting the following train: Russya - tanker - Capitan Dranitsin (icebreaker) - L'Astrolabe. We are in a 10/10 pack compact with hummocks. At 13:15 we are joined by a second nuclear icebreaker, the Arktika, who is opening us a way in the pack during one hour at 16 knots. So we pass the Cape Chelyuskin." (from L'Astrolabe's log book, first western vessel to re-use the Northern Sea Route closed for 70 years).

Cape Chelyuskin, 12th of August 2002, Vagabond drops anchor at 17:50 in front of the military base, shelter from the swell with some ice floe. Except the drifting ice pack crossed yesterday, we are sailing in open water from Dikson, conditions are very good this year. The coast guard who is coming on board, using our dinghy, to check our passports and permissions, is explaining that the cape kept trapped by ice during all summer last year. Since soviet time, only 2 russian yachts, Apostle Andrei and Sibir, passed this cape, in 1999 and 2000; Dagmar Aaen is soon creating the crowd! Despite the poor condition of the base, we enjoy a sauna before drinking champagne on board, and watch some seals, walrus, and belugas around the historical cairn. The permission is given to Gerard to take off with his motor-parapente, but no way to find any field clear enough. Not far behind the abandonned airport, Sacha, geophysicist, is showing us the remaining of the scientific base which was busy with more than 70 people before. His high-tech magnetic sensors are contrasting a lot with the old buildings. We also see the first convoy of the season, a tanker behind the nuclear icebreaker Sovietsky Soyouz, coming out of the fog few miles offshore. Boris is proud to have opened the route with a yacht this year!

Longitudes are passing in a constant stream (Cape Chelyuskin, 77-43N 104-14E, is the same meridian than Singapore!), Vagabond is now heading to the south-east, accross Laptev Sea.

Thanks for your messages received on board,

Greetings from the crew,

Eric Brossier

Kara Sea

Kara Sea, 9th of August 2002,

Vagabond left Dikson this morning, exactly 124 years after Nordenskjold, and keeps heading to the North-East. About 450 nautical miles ahead, Cape Chelyuskin, the northern point of Asia, which will mark our entrance in Laptev Sea, if ice conditions are fine.

We are not sailing alone. Not only the first cargos and icebreakers of the season, but also Arved Fuchs and his crew, onboard Dagmar Aaen, who want to pass the North-East passage this year as well, fourth attempt since 91. The 2 yachts are following each other, and a nice friendship started in Murmansk between the crew members.

On evening of 30th of July , after all formalities at least completed, with 2 pilots on board, Vagabond went out of the long fjord of Murmansk. The good back winds gave us some speed to cross the Barents Sea, and to reach the Kara Strait on 3rd of August. The New Zemble island only showed us 2 beacons in the fog, and a strong current was pushing us into the Kara Sea where we met our first drifting ice, for our great pleasure. A lot of seals very curious welcomed the unusual visitors we are. In the middle of the pack, the Sovietsky Soyouz, nuclear icebreaker, was watching out for safety of the seldom ships. By radio, the captain recommanded us to sail north around drifting ice, and soon, the Kara Sea was offering us all open water. A Russian hydrographic vessel passsed us the following day, and gave us the chance of a very unexpected contact with the ex-mountaineer and now film-maker Jean Afanassief, on his way to Tiksi. On 6th of August, Vagabond reached the White island, north of Yamal Peninsula. Then the sea became brown because of water from the Ob River, and from the Yenissey River, and we had to watch out for floating tree trunks.

Dikson was an important harbour of the Northern Sea Route before, 6000 people were still leaving there 10 years ago, not many more than 1000 today. Samuel, cameraman, joined the crew after some adventures to meet us here, while Karen, our interpreter, having some little health trouble, decided not to go for the most difficult part of the expedition. Thanks to Boris who is sailing with us from Murmansk, communications with other ships and with authorities are without problem. There are 4 hours difference between Murmansk and Dikson, but we are not changing time onboard to keep the tempo !

More info on or by direct phone with the crew, +881 631 413 274.

A bientot,
Eric Brossier


Murmansk, 31th of July 2002

vagabond and her crew left murmansk, happy to sail to the north-east passage, at least. this long and difficult stop will be told to you soon, but before, you are welcome to visit the web site

Eric Brossier


Murmansk, 25th of June 2002

Greetings from Russia,

Vagabond has been in Russia for a week. Sailing season in the Arctic is just starting, ice is melting slowly offshore Siberia, and so we have time to go deeper in our long but essential administrative procedures. Thanks to the valuables contacts implemented with the help of the French embassy, the crew is notably supported by the Murmansk State Technical University, twined with Brest, owning the famous 4 masts sailing vessel Sedov and having a modern training centre for seamen. We had some interviews for the local TV, and enthusiasm for our expedition is here very strong!

So Vagabond left Tromso on 5th of June, after the friendly visit of Olivier Pitras, and continued her route to the north-east. The welcome in Hammerfest was excellent, thanks to Eivind whose grand-father was involved in an American polar expedition, and thanks to Pele who arranged us a visit with the captain of the Russian trawler Gugunov. Just before North Cap, a short stop allowed Gerard, with a picture in his hand, to meet again 2 of his friends he met during his trip by motorbike equipped with skis, during winter 89. The boat next to us was a whaler, just back from a good hunt.

On 8th of June at noon, Vagabond was going around Knivskjelodden peninsula, the most northern point of Europe, and passed few minutes later the well known North Cap overhanging Barents Sea from its 300 meters. What a pleasure to anchor in the quiet Hornvika Bay, hidden from tourists' buses by the cliffs! We needed about 2 hours to stamp, sign and answer all wishes of our dear stamps collectors, before continuing to the east.

The appointment with the Grande Hermine, French fishing vessel from Saint-Malo, was a success : at about 12 nautical miles from the Norwegian coast, we had the delight to welcome onboard Celine, friend of France, and Nicolas, the baker, loaded with fresh bread and food. Friendly and unusual reunion!

In Kirkenes, our stop has been extended in order to arrive in Murmansk on a week day. So the crew had time to welcome the crew member Karen, to celebrate the captain's birthday, to answer local press questions, and to check twice all entry procedures to enter Russia. For the 'Faites de la lumiere' (Light Festival), on 15th of June, Vagabond was anchored in the small bay of Smaastromman, close to the border line. The sun was still very high at 2 in the morning, participating somehow to the event, and the reindeers and the polar foxes we met in the vicinity could probably not imagine the happy Super 8 show going on in the wardroom.

Each of us will remember our arrival in Murmansk, the long wait at the beginning of the fjord, then the one, 30 miles further, in front of the harbour, in the company of 2 coast-guards, perplexed but very cooperatives. Although prepared long in advance, several days were necessary to customs and other officers to check all our intentions and contacts, before announcing that all was right. Boating in the Barents Sea cannot be considered today without any warning.

A bientot,

Tard, très tard

15 juin 2002, tard, très tard,

Vagabond est au mouillage, dans une petite baie paisible et sauvage, un joli fjord norvégien de la mer de Barentz, tout près de la frontière russe qui marquera demain une étape importante de l'expédition...

L'équipe revient d'une virée à terre, les rencontres avec les rennes, renards polaires et nombreux oiseaux furent magiques, le soleil de minuit n'en fini pas de briller, bien au-dessus de l'horizon, indiquant exactement le nord... il faut d'ailleurs recouvrir tous les hublots de toiles opaques pour atteindre un semblant d'obscurité et envisager la séance attendue.

Le crépitement du projecteur se fait enfin entendre, les héros du super 8 entrent en scène, la 'Faites de la lumière' vagabonde, plaisir de partager un évènement à mille lieux. Un détail technique ne nous permettra pas de découvrir les derniers chefs d'oeuvres reçus avant notre départ, et revoilà nos danseuses étoiles ou autres touristes préférés en Egypte ou en Grèce !!

La nuit ne viendra pas, faite de lumières arctiques, fête de la lumière dans l'Arctique.

Merci pour vos films,

Eric et toute l'équipe de Vagabond

PS : nous recherchons, pour nos longues soirées d'hivernage, les molettes d'entrainement de film super 8 correspondant aux derniers films reçus (tel que celui de Blick par exemple), en espérant pouvoir les monter sur notre projecteur...


Tromso, June 5th 2002,

Greetings from Norway,

Vagabond and her crew are now in Tromso (69-39N 18-58E), since 3rd of June, town from where polar explorers were starting their expeditions during the 19th Century. The director of the Polar Museum, very enthusiastic, invited us to rediscover the great adventures of famous Nansen, Amundsen, and other norwegian heros. Today, the town is very busy with the university and the polar institute.

The french frigate Montcalm, on her way to Murmansk, is also in Tromso now. After having welcomed us very well on board, the captain visited Vagabond yesterday; he will meet the french ambassador in Russia and the Murmansk's governor.

Escorted by many boats, Vagabond left Saint-Quay-Portrieux (Brittany) on 12th of May, with a good and strong wind. Amsterdam was our first stop, then Den Helder where we had appointment with our dutch partner Chartworx (electronic marine charts). On 21st of May, the crew was reaching Norway, at Egersund, where our partner C-Map gave us more charts. Along the magnificent fjords and enjoying very nice stops (Runde, Rorvik, Bodo, Reine and Svolvaer in the Lofoten), Vagabond crossed the polar circle on 29th of May, in ideal conditions. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, there is no drifting ice in Norway !

This month, Kathy Mansfield is telling her experience on board Vagabond in the american magazine Cruising World.

To know more about our life on board Vagabond, to see pictures (photos and watercolors), or to follow us on the map (thanks to, you may visit our website

A bientot !

About a dream...

I was born in Japan, I left the country when I was only three months old, but ever since I want to return. To see Nagoya again. In september 1969 I crossed the Arctic by air to go to France. To return along this route by boat was a very ambitious project, but the magic of the Arctic and other remote areas have shown me, on previous voyages, to be a true temptation. Such strong and unforgettable experiences are the source for emotions which afterwards one will constantly try to relive.

Moreover there is this irresistable urge to discover, meet and mix with other cultures. It is time that peoples, isolated in the Siberian Arctic who live a life so different from ours, are noted by us. This long traverse of several months is the perfect occasion to testify of how man succeeds in adapting to his environment, even in a hostile climate and a politically and economically unstable system. A sailing vessel allows to give back some of the warm hospitality so often and spontaniously encountered when one travels.

So, it goes without saying that this project came to life little by little, and being supported by a crew and by absolute resoluteness.

Vagabond, toutes voiles dehors

Vagabond, toutes voiles dehors