Top email2x Email us Top search2x Basket
Home / News / Solo Circumnavigating the Arctic Circle by Ella Hibbert (23 February 2024)
Home / News / Solo Circumnavigating the Arctic Circle by Ella Hibbert (23 February 2024)

Solo Circumnavigating the Arctic Circle by Ella Hibbert (23 February 2024)

Published 11:07 on 25 Feb 2024

Ella Hibbert is a highly qualified sailor who came along and gave a fascinating talk about her upcoming amazing adventure. Ella will be the first person to solo-circumnavigate the Arctic Circle.  She plans to set off in mid-June this year and has spent the last 3 years planning and preparing for this trip.

Born in Germany and raised in France and England, 27 year-old Ella is an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, based mainly in the Solent. After working on super-yachts as a deckhand and divemaster, Ella got involved in environmental protection and looking after the health of the sea. Sailing to The Arctic she wants be the first person to sail the North West passage and the NorthEast Passage in a single season, as well as single-handed. Ella's trip is partly inspired by the fact that the Arctic may be free of ice as soon as 2040.

Ella's plan is to depart from Portsmouth and sail up to Iceland then further north to Greenland and the North West Passage, planning to be there when it opens in August. The trip will continue to the Beaufort Sea to North Alaska and on to Russia. Ella has consulted a Russian sailor who advised on the passage through the East Siberian Sea and Russian waters. Depending on logistics, she hopes not to have to land anywhere during the entire trip - although she will pick up some stores and supplies en route from other ships. Ella is also working with a documentary team who are looking into the possibility to assist her from various "check-in" points. This is a solo and potentially non-stop trip but not un-assisted.

Ella wants her trip to raise awareness of the environmental threat to the Arctic sea ice and pointed out that there has been a 95% decrease over the last century in the thickest part of the sea ice. Polar bears in particular are already casualties of the disappearing sea ice. Also, sea ice reflects a lot of sunlight back out away from the Earth so if it starts to disappear this will lead to further global warming.

The two charities that Ella is supporting are Polar Bears International and Ocean Conservancy. At the end of the trip her boat will be sold by auction and the proceeds will be split evenly between these charities.

Her boat Yeva is a 38' steel hulled Bruce Roberts ketch, chosen to help ease of sail adjustment when sailing single-handed, and is being fitted with sustainable technology such as solar panels, hydro generator, a water maker and a wind generator. Ella used crowd funding to raise the necessary 20% deposit required to purchase the boat. She purchased the boat in December 2022 and with sponsorship from boatfolk Yeva is now berthed at Haslar marina. The boat has been completely re-rigged, had a new engine fitted, the hull has been sand-blast and re-painted. Steps have been fitted to the mast to allow Ella to climb the mast for observations. All the work has been funded by a series of generous sponsors who have all helped with the preparation and planning of this amazing adventure.

Ella has insulated the boat with 50mm Celotex foam which she installed herself. She is taking propane gas for cooking and diesel for heating and the expected temperature range is a maximum of +10 deg C to a minimum of -35 deg C.

Known problems that Ella will have to overcome are sleep deprivation and the threat from polar bears who might see her as a source of food! Many modifications have been made to strengthen the boat to protect it from attack by these large creatures.

Navigation above 65O will be difficult so Ella intends to keep below that latitude where necessary and hopes to stay clear entering any dense pack-ice, but has undertaken polar navigation training to better prepare for all eventualities.

Ella has life and travel insurance but no boat insurance - no insurance company seems to be wanting to accept the level of risk a voyage like this ensues.

The trip will take 4 to 5 months and she has a planned cruising speed of an over-all average of 4 knots. The direction will be from East to West and she will be starting in mid-June 2024. Ella has planned that she will be travelling 9157 nm + more for beating. Without sponsorship this trip would be costing £150k including the purchase of the boat.

So, the big question is why is she doing it, to which Ella replies I want to see the sea-ice before it disappears. The harsh reality is that the Arctic is facing sea-ice decline at an incredibly fast pace, much faster than previously estimated, and yet there is so little awareness for that fact globally. Ella wants to highlight the fragility of the Arctic ecosystem by demonstrating that this voyage, which was once unimaginable, is now possible, and will only become more possible, and more accessible, as the years go on, if climate levels are allowed to continue to rise at such an alarming rate.

There is lots more information on Ella's website:


Last updated 11:26 on 25 March 2024

© 2024 Haslar Yacht Club powered by Sailing Club Manager