Weekend Warm-Up: Stødig

Living in the fast lane isn’t for everyone. This year in particular, some have voluntarily embraced an alternative lifestyle. Architects Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel believe that life is better when you just go with the flow…even if it means floating on a lifeboat from the UK to northern Norway.

In a messy workshop in the UK, the two Cardiff graduates turned their abstract idea of wanting to live nomadically into a full-scale project, transforming an old lifeboat, which they christened the Stødig, into a self-sufficient mode of travel.

Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel. Photo: Daylight Energy


But why a lifeboat? Having been inspired by old stories of adventure, they wanted to explore the Arctic on their own terms, at a slower pace and without the rigidity of schedules. They elected to go to Norway, work there for a year and get acquainted with some of the world’s most beautiful regions that are mainly accessible by, you guessed it, boat. 

But training in architecture and design did not make them experts in nautical engineering. They taught themselves vital skills in marine electrics and plumbing, and learned how to maintain their diesel engine, their sole source of propulsion at sea. Despite the risk of having no back-up sails, the two quickly said their goodbyes on land and embraced the slow life on the water. 

The Stødig in one of the Norwegian fjords. Photo: arctic-lifeboat.com


Motoring up the English Channel, past Dunkirk and to Belgium, their dream started smoothly. However, things got slower…and slower…until it stopped completely because of engine failures. A week of setbacks and frustration in Denmark was offset by the joy of finally reaching Norway’s blue-green fjords. 

Tromsø, their final port of destination, became their home away from home, a little world away tucked in the snowy mountains. Although the kiss of the Gulf Stream somewhat offset their arctic latitude, it soon began to snow. What the two wanted as individuals gradually unfolded in this arctic realm. Guylee eventually continued exploring the far north with his girlfriend Mikaela and joined an architectural practice in Tromsø. David chose to return to the UK, preferring the comforts of home.