BoatLife: LifeSong in a book!

double page d'un paysage du Spitzberg avec Lifesong


Exploring the Freedom of Maritime Living

Book cover Boatlife

LifeSong have the pleasure to be part of this wonderful book: BoatLife! There is many ways to explore the world by sailboat and this book relate about 40 stories of different kind of crazy people that have chosen the whole world as a playground.

The book is available in English or German on Gestalen website or on


Written by Katarina Charpian

EMMANUELLE DUMAS, Christophe Votat and their two children, Raphaël, 5, and Jade, 3, are a family wih an appetite for adventure. “We are just normal people who like to do crazy things,” says Frenchcanadianwoman Emmanuelle. She first met Christophe in Chile back in 2014. Emmanuelle had just returned from a four-week ski expedition in Antarctica, where she had worked as a guide. He arrived in port after an equally long leg on his boat along Chile’s southern coast. They fell in love, and a short time later Emmanuelle moved onto Christophe’s Venus without any prior sailing experience. A few years later, their son was born, and four years ago, just before their daughter was born, they bought a large aluminum boat, Lifesong, a Garcia 68from the 199Os.

Boatlife enables the 34 and 39 year olds to combine parenting with work without having to give up daily adventures in nature. The family has been almost everywhere in the world, but they have been sailing and living mainly in the northern latitudes since 2019. Norway, Greenland, and Svalbard take it in turns to be their adventure playground. During the season from February to September they often offer expeditions lasting several weeks, giving guests an insight into their experiences and everyday boat-life.

Ski tours, glacier expeditions, kayaking, and hiking are on the daily itiner-ary. There are endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts beyond the Arctic Circle, especially in the summer, when the sun never sets. What fascinates the couple most about cold climes is how many places they have to themselves. Nature is unspoiled, and most of the time they are the only boat at an anchorage. The pastel-colored light and ever-changing ice landscapes inspire Emmanuelle to paint in watercolors.

Boalife, Lifesong sailing in Svalbard waters

Greenland is their favorite temporary home

For two seasons, they’ve explored the waters west and south of the vast island with Lifesong, and they cannot wait to sail along the northeast coast. But there are dangers lurking in Greenland, too. There is a lot of drift ice, especially on the east coast; the crossing from Europe can be dangerous, and in some places it is difficult to find fresh food.

Emmanuelle advises sailing newcomers to the Arctic to visit Svalbard first. “There’s not much drift ice here, you only have to travel short distances to get to new places, and you can find everything for your daily needs in the capital, Longyearbyen,” she says. “The most inconvenient thing is that you have to carry a gun everywhere to protect yourself from polar bears.”

Boatlife; greenland and the arctic map

Boatlife with kids

Many outsiders may think that full-time boat-life with kids sounds impossible. Emmanuelle’s response, on the other hand, is resoundingly clear: “Just do it! Kids can do anything; they adapt to the crazy sailing life, even in the Arctic. It’s a great way for them to learn, grow, and meet very different people.” She has sailed the oceans both heavily pregnant and with infants. Raphaël is homeschooled by his parents. They also have the support of someone on board to assist them with the children, cooking, sailing, and the various expeditions they lead for their guests. When sailing in rougher conditions, the children stay below deck. They don’t get seasick, and can play Lego there, watch movies, or watch the waves roll by through their windows from their beds.

Kids can do anything; they adapt to the crazy sailing life, even in the Arctic.

Before having children, Emmanuelle and Christophe had frequently sailed on the opposite side of the globe.There, they have sailed the Drake Strait together, which lies between the southern tip of South America and the northern tip of Antarctica and is considered one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.Few sailors venture on this leg. Emmanuelle still remembers the moment they set sail for Antarctica in their boat at the time. The sea was rough, and in every direction the thick fog hid icebergs, which they could only see on their radar. Suddenly, the fog disappeared and the sun came out. The huge icebergs, against which the waves broke loudly, piled up right in front of them and curious penguins cavorted around their boat. “Antarctica is breathtaking it feels like you’re on another planet.”

The animals aren’t afraid of humans, everything is pristine,” Emmanuelle enthuses. The crew needed glacier gear for every stop ashore, and almost every anchorage was exposed to ice, requiring ice watches each night in the midnight sun.

Boatlife is not always easy for the family. Sometimes Emmanuelle and Christophe dream of warm temperatures, of having more time to themselves while the kids go to school, or of a smaller boat that needs less work. “But really, we have the perfect life, and I know I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s hard, almost every day, but we love it,” Emmanuelle says.

LifeSong in greenland waters, the real boatlife


Lifesong is an aluminum sailing yacht built in France. It is 68ft (20m) long and 16 ft (5m) wide, and it has four spacious double cabins with bathrooms; a large salon with u-shaped kitchen and spacious seating area; two cockpits; and plenty of storage space for kayaks, the dinghy, skis, and the family’s remaining outdoor equipment. The insulated boat is equipped with a twin heating system and water heater, double-glazed windows, and crash boxes designed to protect the hull when it comes into contact with ice. Emmanuelle and Christophe stow welding equipment, a sewing machine,and numerous spare parts on board to repair the boat and sails in the remotest of places. They produce fresh water with a watermaker (33 gal/150 L per hour) and use a generator, a hydrogenerator, and their diesel engine to produce energy. The diesel is stored in a 395gal(1,800L)tank.

BoatLife: Adventures beyond the arctic circle

Many other pages in the the book BoatLife about navigation in Arctic and Antarctic…

Adventures beyond the arctic circle book
Adventures beyond the arctic circle book next page

Thanks to Pierre Ligonie, Laurent Marol and Paul-Marie Dorsaz for the pictures!

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