Aurore (7 years old), Léonie (10 years old), France Pinczon du Sel and I are in Ambato, in Ecuador, to collaborate with seismic and volcanic risks prevention. A mission organized by La Guilde, Ecuasol and the European Union, from August 1st, 2017 to December 31st, 2018.
More about this project:
A blog (in French): Vagabond / Latitude Zero
The website of the NGO in Ecuador: [Ecuasol] (http://ecuasol.org/es/que-hacemos/)
Information about La Guilde and EU Aid Volunteers: La Guilde
During this mission that takes us far from the Arctic, our polar sailboat Vagabond is on land in Miquelon. Since 2000, Vagabond has hosted more than 40 scientific programs, did 11 overwinterings, and traveled 60,000 miles in the Arctic.
Vagabond's wintering get organized, with Jacky who already watches over our red hull. Latest preparations, maintenance and we close our bags for an unusual journey. First, there are no more seat in the fast boat from Miquelon to reach Newfoundland in time. But it is because of the Dune Fest, the annual music festival which takes place in the dunes of Langlade, at half an hour driving from the village of Miquelon. So we offer ourselves for the last evening a festival ending by a fireworks, among the local people. We find again Jonathan, this time as a sound engineer and drummer! The next morning all our bags loaded in Jacky's pick up (also Jonathan's father), we arrive in a heavy rain at the pier of Langlade. A big zodiac brings all the luggage before transferring the wet passengers. While everybody is packed in the foggy shelter, four of us go up nearby the wheelhouse to enjoy the scenery, without having to take a watch. After an hour and a half of swell we arrive at Saint-Pierre, where the boat for Fortune, Newfoundland, leaves shortly after. Soaked, with our wet bags, we are happy to find shortly after the perfect Bed and Breakfast right in front of the dock and big enough to dry out all our things!
At the first try, the machine didn't make it to bring the boat out of the water, and the boss didn't want to add another machine to help. So he told us that they were gonna put the boat back in the water at midnight. The next day, dad ask the boss to try again with another machine and it worked!!! Yes!!!
... But everything does not go smoothly as on wheels, especially with those of the Boat Lift which should bring Vagabond out of the sea: once our boat is well secured on this trolley, the wheels slip on the slope too steep of the slipway. After many attempts the operator deduces that Vagabond is finally too heavy. We are concerned... Where could we go if it does not work here? But time has passed and the tide no longer allows us to go back down into the water. Vagabond is stuck at mid-slope perched on this trolley! We will wait for the high tide at midnight to refloat Vagabond, without being able to get on board. Opportunity to speak about the welcome of the Miquelonians since a house is loaned to us by the Boat Lift company.
The next day at high tide, a tractor is hooked to reinforce the Boat Lift and Vagabond comes out of the water easily.
Afloat, we take advantage of the calm to haul down the genoa which will need to be repaired. But he does not go down, stuck at mid-slope! It is the profile of the reel that makes an elbow, and this since Vagabond encountered an iceberg three years ago... So I put on my harness and slip along the profile from the crow's nest. While I try unsuccessfully to open a stuck shackle, a nice France Elevator's truck is visiting us! Jonathan, of the municipal services, gently offers his help. "I did not expect to save a woman in the air today!" he laughs. "And she has the same name as your truck!" says Eric. So two of us perched in his nacelle, with big shots of mass we finally succeed to bring down this genoa.
Friday night, Vagabond is doing a last stop in Canada, on the island of Ramea, near the south coast of Newfoundland. Good walk ashore, beautiful encounters, before heading towards Miquelon, our final destination. Just over 800 miles from Goose Bay. Here we are in France! Last night doing watches, the day rises, the mist is thick, we see almost nothing of the archipelago... But the welcoming on the ground is very warm, and everything looks good to have Vagabond set up here for some months. Anyway we need to wait until Monday to meet with the technical team, so we take advantage of the weather for a day of diving at the Pointe du Chapeau, close to the village. The water is at 10°C, and it is the opportunity, so long awaited, for Aurore and Leonie, to do a first dive! A little shortened for Aurore as she was getting cold while Leonie was under water. Shared happiness.
First it was super!!! I did it with Dad, I was a bit nervous, so we didn't go really deep. We have seen a lot of crabs, but the time that I explained to Dad, the crab was already gone. When I got out of the water, I was a little bit cold, so when Aurore told me that she was going into a fresh water lake and it was hot I followed her right away!
Do Rose Blanche is a name adapted to that village? Yes and no!
No because when we arrive we see some white rocks. (and not some white roses)
Yes because when we went visit the village we have seen quite a lot of white roses.
Why the name of Rose Blanche? It's a deformation of the French word white rocks.
Many villages on the south coast of Newfoundland are very isolated, only accessible by sea. Population is decreasing since fishing is declining, dozens of communities have been wiped off the map to save budget. But if at least 10 per cent of the inhabitants is willing to stay, a village can remain.
Rose Blanche is at the end of the road, a good shelter for boats, well know for her lighthouse. We meet Christian, he is slowly crossing the Atlantic back to Brittany, after he did the Ostar race from Plymouth to Newport. A solo race very difficult this year, only a quarter of the skippers arrived, others had to give up, four boats sank!