The strong wind (wind chill down to -45) today did not stop us getting on our snowmobile to go and watch the sun rise on the Storfjord. We were just back to the boat when the sun entered inside Vagabond! Because of the relief of the moraine, we even got sun on board twice, from 11:11 to 11:46 and from 11:57 to 12:04. We are discovering again our environment!
The strong wind yesterday morning (up to 60 knots) opened a large polynia in front of Inglefield Bay, but too many drifting ice to use the dinghy. Storfjord is still inaccessible... but what a show! The barometer has not been so high since last October (1025 mb), temperature is back to normal for the season (-26), new tracks of fox and polar bear on pack ice, and 3 reindeers enjoying the first sunbeams, as we do. The top of Vagabond's mast was in the sun for few minutes today!
Here it is, around noon today, despite a hazy sky, just above the moraine on the south side of Inglefield bay, France and I saw the sun again, after 4 months of absence. Wonderful colours then, the sunset was endless. Now the full moon is taking over, reminding us the magic polar night. Nostalgia... It is hard to believe that in less than 2 months we will see the midnight sun! It is also hard to believe that the French Riviera is snowbound, while we are getting an average temperature of -5 degrees for the last few days, and while a large polynia opened again in front of our bay.
The record of the northern most Samba has just been set! Here we are, 2 of us alone on board again, with the nice melody still in head. We almost saw the sun today!
It was yesterday the complete weather contrast for our scientific crew : no wind, sky totally clear, between -25 and -30 degrees, pink lights on the summits... the sun was really close under the horizon ! Ideal conditions to go scouting along the shore of the Storfjord, while measuring the ice thickness. We need a good period of cold, wind and snow to get a pack ice more flat; all is now hummocks after very strong pressure due to the wind and the currents. Then we would be able to reach, with snowmobiles and scientific instruments, the area we are interested in.
I'm so please to welcome today my family! They are 8 to take over from the scientific crew, and to celebrate with us the sun about to come back. I let you think about the parties going on in this remote place...
The storm and the just below zero temperatures are not permitting any safe exploration of the great Storfjord, so tests and settings are carried out in our Inglefield Bay for now.
There will not be any new picture online during the next 10 days, because Piem, webmaster, is about to start the long journey up to Vagabond!
The Doppler current meter (immersed under ice) and the electromagnetic sonar for ice thickness (pulled by a snowmobile at 5 or 10 km/h), tested yesterday (despite the rain !) and today (snow), not far from Vagabond, are offering promising results; maybe soon, the large and complex Storfjord will tell us some of its secrets...
Here they are, the first snow scooters arrived today, our isolation is broken! Herve and Thierry are here to set up various scientific experiments (oceanography and climatology), their guide Jens is looking after their safety (3:30 hours trip to do the 110 km from Longyearbyen). New rhythm on board, consignment of fresh food, news from the rest of the world... heated discussions are already going well along.
Yesterday, while crossing Inglefield Bay, we briefly saw a bird; it is the second living being we met this year, after the polar bear in the distance last week. Life is coming back slowly, announcing the sun!
The first scientific crew, which is suppose to come in 4 days time, are getting worried about ice conditions. In order to have a look on the ice pack on the north side of Inglefield Bay, from where the snowmobiles must arrive from Longyearbyen, I left this morning with the dogs. Suddenly around 11 o'clock, a strange noise, the governor's helicopter was approaching Vagabond. I guessed he will use this flight to check the packice around, also I just broke one ski stick, so I decided to come back and to forget about reconnaissance. As usual, the trip back was quicker. Very much quicker today, maybe the dogs believe we were being supplied with fresh seal meat? The helicopter didn't stop his rotor, I reached the boat when he was already taking off, I just had time to wave the pilots. France first thought that a bad accident got me to call for rescue, she had just been reassured, it was a reconnaissance flight. But if the helicopter landed nearby Vagabond, it was only to deliver our friend Martine's letter, as she cleverly thought about sending it to Air Lift (helicopters from Longyearbyen)!