2 French explorers sailing across North Pole on sea ice expedition

Posted: 06/26/2011 in all marine news

Andrew Sheeler –

Two French adventurers are about to embark on a journey over the top of the world, if everything goes to plan. Sébastien Roubinet and Rodolphe André and a small support team are traveling north to Deadhorse after making a brief stop to enjoy the amenities of Fairbanks.

Once there, they hope to gain permission from the administrators of the Prudhoe Bay oil field to launch their two-man catamaran into the Arctic Ocean with the goal of crossing the North Pole and ultimately reaching the Norwegian island of Spitsberg in the Svalbard Archipelago, roughly halfway between the North Pole and mainland Norway.

The journey will be 1,750 miles and is intended to measure the thickness of the northern sea ice with greater accuracy than has been done before. They believe this data will have both academic and commercial value once completed.

The vessel that will carry the two Frenchmen is named Ti-Babouche, “babouche” meaning “slipper.” The boat was designed by Roubinet and is approximately 16 and a half feet long and 6 and a half feet wide.

The cabin takes up an intimate 32 square feet, and will be home for the two men during the two to three months they expect their journey to take. The hull is crafted from Kevlar and carbon in order to help it withstand the extreme cold of the Arctic Ocean.

The boat is optimized for traveling on ice. It is equipped with a pair of skis, a single mast and a rudder that can be maneuvered from either inside or outside of the cabin depending on the two men’s needs.

Unloaded, the boat weighs 200 pounds, which will come in handy when Roubinet and André have to get out and push. Ti-Babouche has no engine, and is powered solely by wind or human power. It is fitted with an electronic monitoring device that can measure the thickness of the sea ice as they make their journey.

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