Meet Arctic Tern 1, SOI's Polar Expedition Sailboat!

Ocean biodiversity is the foundation for the health – both ecological and human, and both traditional and modern – of the North. Understanding that biodiversity is fundamental to understanding the changing North.

We are on a mission to contribute to the understanding of Arctic marine ecosystems. In 2013, we launched our new polar-class sailboat, Arctic Tern I. Between 2013 and 2016 Arctic Tern I will be on expedition in the Canadian eastern Arctic. With our partners-  Inuit, government, scientific, private-sector- she will deliver science, film-making, education and community engagement. The Tern is a platform for research and media related to the biodiversity – plankton to polar bears, benthics to bowheads – of our northern ocean.

Arctic Tern 1 is on a 3-year mission to study biodiversity.

Arctic Tern 1 is on a 3-year mission to study biodiversity.

The Tern is 47 feet long, and has a retractable and shoal draft keel—that means she can get into really shallow bays and inlets, and safely be left high and dry at low tide! She is versatile and flexible – able to access coastal areas that are hazardous to the navigation of traditional Arctic expedition craft.

Arctic Tern I has already been hard at work. This season, we have completed research on seabirds – nesting colonies at Bylot Island as well pelagic birds on her oceanic passages – and carried a film crew to capture footage of Arctic orcas. We also had a visit by a very curious polar bear, who considered joining our crew!

Hello, Arctic Tern 1!

Hello, Arctic Tern 1!

She was designed and built specifically for polar work and has been safely voyaging in high latitudes since 1995. Arctic Tern I is a sister ship of Eric Brossier’s “Vagabond”, which completed the first Arctic circumnavigation via the North-East and North-West passage in 2002.

The crew of Arctic Tern I is made up of extremely experienced polar sailors. Captain Grant Redvers once spent almost two years living aboard a sailboat that had been deliberately frozen into the sea ice. He (and the ice) drifted all the way from Russia to Canada, right across the top of the world.

We’re excited to share photos, stories and research with you as Arctic Tern 1 voyages around the Arctic! Learn more about the Tern I, her crew, and this year’s expedition at her website You can also #TrackTheTern on Twitter and Facebook!

The Tern, from above, in her Arctic environment.

The Tern in her environment.

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.