A tale of determination, exploration and sustainability, architects Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel are taking the trip of a lifetime on a repurposed, retired Arctic lifeboat.

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dog on a rock beside a docked yellow boat

Along with their seafaring dog, Shackleton the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, these two architects have given a second life to a decommissioned lifeboat that served in the Western Isles of Scotland. While the boat was originally designed to carry 100 people in survival situations, Simmonds and Schnabel set out to repurpose and rebuild it into a self-sustaining expedition vessel. The goal was to complete the project in a little over one year, just in time to take a 3,000 mile adventure from the U.K. to the Norwegian Arctic.

Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer

yellow boat with solar panels facing an evergreen forest
yellow boat with light on a lake

The architects renamed the boat Stødig, a Norwegian word meaning “sound and steadfast.” As the name suggests, the lifeboat’s reliable and functional design was a large inspiration for its newly adapted role as a self-sustaining and minimalist expedition vessel.

small wood table with plant and bench inside a boat
boat kitchen with wood counters and dark cabinets

The lifeboat, which was on its way to being scrapped if it had found no buyer, was bought in February 2018, and the voyage began in May 2019. The team departed from the southern British port of Newhaven before traveling along the Belgian and Dutch coast, sailing through the Kiel canal in Germany and then venturing into the Baltic Sea. The scenic route took them up the Danish and Swedish coasts past Copenhagen and Gothenburg, past Norway and up to Bergen. All along the way, Simmonds, Schnabel and Shackleton took in some of the best views the world has to offer, from showstopping sunsets and the dreamy Northern Lights to hushed evergreen forests and magnificent, snow-covered mountain landscapes.

aerial view of solar-powered yellow boat on bright blue water
yellow boat on water against a pink and blue sunset

Stødig was first gutted to provide the architects with a blank canvas, on which they could bring their ideas to life. The boat redesign incorporates two forward cabins, a dining area, kitchen, a bathroom with a composting toilet, bunk beds for guests and a stern cockpit. There are solar panels on the roof, a wood-burning stove and small wind turbines incorporated for additional sustainability. It is made of fiberglass, measuring 11 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. An important feature for exploration, a number of large, curved windows were installed to provide breathtaking panoramic views and bring in as much light as possible.

+ Stødig Arctic Lifeboat

Images via Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel

boat docked and facing sky filled with green Northern Lights display