Cape Chelyuskin, 12th of August 2002
The Great Arctic Expedition, decided by the Empress Anna and made of 5 expeditions, employed 1000 people from 1733 to 1742 to explore the possibility of a sea route along the Siberian coast. The marine officer Chariton Laptev and his second, the lieutenant Chelyuskin, explored the Taymir Peninsula with dog sledges.
"On 19th of August 1878, at 6 pm, the Vega and the Lena dropped anchor in some indentation of this cape, open to the north. So was reached an important result, wished from the beginning of the century. For the first time a ship was anchoring in front of the northern cape of Asia. In honour of this happy event ships dressed and fired a salvo; back from a walk ashore, fine wines were opened." (A.E.Nordenskjold)
"17th of August 1991. Our speed is about 3 knots in a very dense pack. At 6:30 the Russya joined the convoy and go ahead escorting the following train: Russya - tanker - Capitan Dranitsin (icebreaker) - L'Astrolabe. We are in a 10/10 pack compact with hummocks. At 13:15 we are joined by a second nuclear icebreaker, the Arktika, who is opening us a way in the pack during one hour at 16 knots. So we pass the Cape Chelyuskin." (from L'Astrolabe's log book, first western vessel to re-use the Northern Sea Route closed for 70 years).
Cape Chelyuskin, 12th of August 2002, Vagabond drops anchor at 17:50 in front of the military base, shelter from the swell with some ice floe. Except the drifting ice pack crossed yesterday, we are sailing in open water from Dikson, conditions are very good this year. The coast guard who is coming on board, using our dinghy, to check our passports and permissions, is explaining that the cape kept trapped by ice during all summer last year. Since soviet time, only 2 russian yachts, Apostle Andrei and Sibir, passed this cape, in 1999 and 2000; Dagmar Aaen is soon creating the crowd! Despite the poor condition of the base, we enjoy a sauna before drinking champagne on board, and watch some seals, walrus, and belugas around the historical cairn. The permission is given to Gerard to take off with his motor-parapente, but no way to find any field clear enough. Not far behind the abandonned airport, Sacha, geophysicist, is showing us the remaining of the scientific base which was busy with more than 70 people before. His high-tech magnetic sensors are contrasting a lot with the old buildings. We also see the first convoy of the season, a tanker behind the nuclear icebreaker Sovietsky Soyouz, coming out of the fog few miles offshore. Boris is proud to have opened the route with a yacht this year!
Longitudes are passing in a constant stream (Cape Chelyuskin, 77-43N 104-14E, is the same meridian than Singapore!), Vagabond is now heading to the south-east, accross Laptev Sea.
Thanks for your messages received on board,
Greetings from the crew,