Vagabond is at anchor near the entrance of South Cape Fiord, Ellesmere Island, exactly at the spot where we lived from October 2011 till July 2012. Our daughters were pretty young then, the winter was amazing. Memories are coming back nicely while sorting out the last coralline samples after a good dive at Cape Storm on August 13th...
August 10th: a polar bear is running away on the beach near the old scientific station Truelove. I was diving the night before without knowing he was around! Nice seafloor, a lot of kelp (we monitor our observations for Arctic Kelp team), pretty good sampling. The sea is calm, we keep searching for coralline as well as doing oceanographic stations. During the Jones Sound crossing, from Devon Island to Ellesmere Island, we even manage to send the CTD and sampling water down to 630m deep.
On August 11th, a large group of walruses prevents me from diving near Olsen Island, in Goose Fiord. I don't really want to play around with these big guys... We are searching for coralline near Fram Sound and Hell Gate. We have to deal with quite a lot of drifting ice and strong currents, which make us turn around, precisely before Cape Turnback! In the middle of the sound, while we are getting ready to launch the probe between ice floes drifting East at 2 knots, our AIS is suddenly showing a ship. The Pierre Radisson is a Canadian Coast Guards icebreaker and we can communicate in French! Watching us carefully, he starts moving towards us, probably thinking we are trapped in the ice... But once the station is done, Vagabond pushes, sneaks, and proudly reach open water. We greet the icebreaker, still following us, and enter Hourglass Bay. There, we first have to cross a very shallow and uncharted area (2 to 3 m depth) before getting to a good shelter. The little red hut is still there, it was built 20 years ago to commemorate the Centennial of Fram and Sverdrup expedition (1898-1902).
We enter the great glacial South Cape Fiord on August 14th. We have 21 hydrographic profiles to do with the probe (CTD), as well as 27 water sampling (Niskin bottle) and filtering series (nutrients, oxygen isotopes, Chla, CHN). Conditions are perfectly calm, luckily! Many icebergs, glaciers calving actively, a lot of birds, one more polar bear (we saw 9 in 3 weeks), bearded and ring seals... the rich waters are very attractive when the ice disappear for about 3 months. Raymond and Tivai are here hunting, they caught a seal and a duck, it looks better than our ocean data and filtered water bottles! They are the first people we meet since we left Arctic Bay, and we are really happy to see them again and to chat for a little while with our friends from Grise Fiord (the village is 70km away, to the East).