Planning the route

Planning a route through the Northwest Passage began with a study of  past attempts and passages. Historically, the Passage was not  successfully transited until Amundsen in 1903-1906, preceded by several failed attempts.  The most haunting of those early attempts  was Franklin’s  fatal voyage in 1845-1848.  We would visit graves of Franklin’s  crew during our own attempt, and that same summer the remains of one of his ships HMS Erebus was discovered in Victoria Strait.

Early Attempts
Early Successes

The successful passage by Amundsen in 1903-1906 and a similar route by Larsen in 1940-1942 served as the  initial guideline for our planned route.  But, unlike either Amundsen  or Larsen, we wanted  to accomplish the passage in one season, avoiding the daunting challenge of wintering over in the arctic. That led to more study, in particular of passages by private yachts as of 2013. (A recent list of successful passages as of March 2020 can be found at )

The success of those passages provided confidence that it could be done, albeit with obvious risk. And,in the process of searching for information, I came across  an invitation for boats to  join Jimmy Cornell on a passage of the NWP as part of his  Blue Planet Odyssey.  Having relied on Cornell’s well known book “World Crusing Routes” as a bible for a trip to the South Pacific in 2004, joining  the Blue Planet Odyssey was too sensible an  opportunity to pass up.  As it turned out, we would attempt the passage on our own. The Lillian B. was  initially accepted as part of the Odyssey then rejected, I assume because we were an unknown quantity.  However, despite the initial disappointment,  having connected with  Blue Odyssey enabled us to get insurance for the voyage and provided valuable information on how to plan for the arctic.  It also served as an introduction to fellow travelers and once in the arctic, we would  end up  sharing food, drink, hikes  and information with the crews of  Aventura and  Suilven and Drina, the three boats associated with the 2014 Blue Odyssey attempt.   For a 2016 perceptive from Jimmy Cornell on that attempt,  go to

Based on the various resources above, the planned route of the Lillian B by the beginning of the Summer 2014, was the ambitious path shown below:

Planned Route for Lillian B’s Northwest Passage