Discover the Qilak sailboat, its crew, life on board.


Qilak (Inuit name meaning « the Celestial Vault ») is a 16-metres aluminum schooner. Launched in 1999 by naval architect Michel Joubert, the designer and first owner, who made the passage from Northwest Greenland to Alaska in 2012 with the polar explorer Janusz Kurbiel.

Qilak is equipped with 2 engines of 110 hp and tanks with a capacity of 4000 litres ensuring a very high autonomy.

Plan of the sailboat

Plan of Qilak sailboat and berths.

CPlan Qilak couchettes


  • length 16m, width 4.10m, draught 1.70m
  • Material: Reinforced aluminium (Strongall process)
  • Living capacity on board for 10 people, which we limit to 6 passengers and 2 crew
  • A large open cockpit for manoeuvring, observing and fishing
  • A wheelhouse totally protected from the elements
  • Large raised saloon for a panoramic view, comfortably receiving 8 people at the table and a living room with 2 generous bench seats
  • Sleeping capacity: 8 single berths are available + 2 double cabins, all in 3 cabins and one corridor
  • Hot shower, and seperate WC
  • Water supply: 1500 litres
  • « Refleks » gas boiler with a central heater + engine driven air
  • Current 220, 110 and 12 volts on board
  • Annex for 8 people with 15 hp engine
  • Fishing equipment used in navigation or anchorage
  • A varied library available
equipage 2019 de Qilak


Your skipper is Didier Forest, geographer by training, is qualified as Captain 200 of the Merchant Navy and has many certificates such as mechanic 250 KW and medical III. He also holds a licence as a sailing instructor. Sailing since 1984, he has sailed in all latitudes, from the Arctic to Antarctica, including two Transpacifics New Zealand-Cape Horn and several transatlantics. He is assisted by a versatile sailor, responsible for the "galley" for the duration of the voyage.

Your cook & sailor is Dorian, born in Valparaiso and son of your captain. Sailor and traveller, his experiences in the kitchen are multiple, they managed together a family seafood restaurant. Cooking and sailing fit well together. A good dose of creativity and good humour always comes with its small dishes! Varied and fresh Cuisine (supply of fruit and vegetables without difficulty). Note however that we cannot provide special menus! A hand with the dishes would also be welcome.


Life on board

The skipper is the only captain on board and decides to access the sites according to the weather conditions. The program can be modified at any time.

The navigation times are mainly during the day to take advantage of the observations and avoid the fatigue of the nocturnal crossing. The navigation times are variable ranging from 4 to 8 hours.

How do we get around ashore ?

All the trips on land are under your responsibility, even if sometimes the skipper will accompany you. Safety instructions will be respected, especially in relation to the presence of bears, for this we will ask you to go out only in groups. We take a bear repellent and a portable radio to keep in touch with the boat. The land walks are mainly on the shore and along the rivers because the interior of the forests is sometimes inaccessible.

Physical level and preparation

Although no special physical condition is required, we simply ask that you be fitenough to get up and down easily from the boat and to walk on sometimes slippery terrains as the seashore is often rocky. It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of sailing, beginners are very welcome.


It is often imagined that a sailboat trip in the Great North looks like a deep cold dive. An idea that proves to be wrong when you run along the Pacific coast, thanks to Kuro Shivo, a hot marine current. Although time is changing throughout the year, the rains are mostly in winter. Summer navigation is generally very pleasant, with a temperature of 15 to 25 °c in British Columbia and more rain episodes than in Alaska, where the temperature can vary between 12 and 25 °c, except in the immediate vicinity of the glaciers, with alterning long sunny periods and overcast weather with sometimes fog in some areas.

It is therefore necessary to provide equipment of the type that one takes for a mountain hike. It is also important to note that, with the exception of underwear, it will not be possible to wash your clothes along the way. We therefore advise you to provide a sufficient change, but also remember that you are aboard a boat that has limited storages!

Basic equipment

  • Top and bottom thermal underwear
  • Microfleece and/or mini-jacket
  • A warm fleece jacket type Polartec or Windstopper (excellent weight/insulation ratio)
  • A waterproof and breathable jacket type Goretex or equivalent membrane (no need to bring a heavy watch jacket
  • Waterproof trousers 
  • A type Windstopper hat/bonnet
  • A hat, scarf or cap for the sun
  • Sunglasses
  • A pair of gloves
  • A refillable water bottle
  • A pair of binoculars for wildlife viewing

Shoes and technical equipment

  • Rubber boots, mainly for landings ashore (imperative)
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Light weight shoes such as trainers, crocs or sandals for deck work
  • A pair of slippers, for the inside of the boat


  • A sleeping bag (comfort temperature 10-15 °c)
  • A sheet-bag


  • Quick-drying towel, wipes
  • Some plastic bags to protect your things
  • A headlamp


  • A travel bag of 80 to 100 litres flexible: is preferable to a Suitcase (banned on board) small travel bags (grouped in a larger one for the transatlantic flight), in order to better be able to store them in the cabin
  • A small backpack with a capacity of about 30 litres, for your daily needs during hikes

Your individual pharmacy

  • An analgesic
  • An anti-inflammatory (tablets and gel)
  • If you are prone to seasickness, remember to bring along your treatment
  • A disinfectant, bandages (various sizes) and plasters
  • Sunscreen 
  • A mosquito repellent
  • In addition: earplugs, your personal medicines