The Route

The distances are great- with exposure to ice for nearly 3000 miles, and with three major ice choke points or bottlenecks at New Siberian Islands, Viltitsky Strait, and at Yugorski Shar at the southern end of Novaya Zemlya.

The total distance from our start point at Prince Rupert, on Canada's west coast where Northabout has wintered, to our destination at Westport, Ireland is 7,500 miles. We can break that distance down into 6 legs.

  • Prince Rupert to Providenya (Russia) 1,800 miles
  • Providenya to Bering Strait 200 miles
  • Bering Strait to New Siberian Islands (East Siberian Sea) 1,100 miles
  • New Siberian Islands to Vilkitsky Strait (Laptev Sea) 615 miles
  • Viltitsky Strait to Yugorski Shar Strait. (Kara Sea) 1,100 miles
  • Yugorski Shar to Westport via Northern Route 2,200 miles
  • Yugorski Shar to Westport via Baltic Sea. 2,900 miles

At the White Sea we have a choice of route, the conventional and more direct route is north of Norway, Shetland Islands, and thence towards Ireland, or alternatively we can take the White Sea - Baltic Canal, which leads south to St. Petersburg, through the Baltic Sea, and continuing through Scotland's Caledonian Canal, towards Ireland.

This latter route would enable us to sail later in the season in more sheltered waters, giving us an opportunity to see more of Russia, particularly the remarkable city of St Petersburg. If time permits we would like to visit the new EU member States; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland whom we are welcoming into the European Union this year.

The White Sea - Baltic Canal.

The White Sea Canal is 227 kilometres long, and was built during the years 1931 to 1933 on Stalin's insistence, mainly to enable the Baltic fleet have easy access to the White Sea.

This was the first large-scale use of prison labour in modern Russia and was to be the model on which the infamous Gulags were subsequently based. It is believed that over 100,000 men were forced to work on the project. During construction the annual death rate was in the region of two per cent of the workforce, starved or worked to death. Excavation was done mainly by hand; no major machinery was made available. The final cost was 101 Million Roubles

Deatiled Route maps

Map 1 160E to 160W

Map 2 115E to 160E

Map 3 50E to 115E

Map 4 30E to 50E