Dmitriy Laptev Strait, 21st august 2002,
6 am, Paris time, Vagabond is on the same meridian than Nagoya (place of birth of the Captain). It is 5 pm on board, we have now been using our destination time for 2 days, our watches and instruments went over the 9 time zones separating Murmansk from Provideniya.
From Chelyuskin Cape, to cross the Laptev Sea and to reach the Lena Delta, we have to go south-west around a large ice pack field, following the coast for about 3 days. Several times the drifting ice floes appear in front of Vagabond, sometimes suddenly in the fog, creating some rush to remove the sails and to manoeuvre across the broken ice pack, being watched by some walrus and seals, sleepy or curious. The advices sent by the Murmansk Shipping Company, to whom we are reporting our position twice per day, are confirmed during a radio contact with an icebreaker. These advices are as useful as the discussions with the Dagmar Aaen's crew, with whom we compare all information received on board about ice conditions. But nothing will replace our faithful crow's nest for an accurate ice watch.
Tiksi, important town of Yakoutia (the greatest Republic of the Russian Federation), has only 5000 inhabitants today, compare to 30000 by the end of the Soviet time. The activity of this important harbour of the Northern Sea Route has slow down a lot, and there are a lot of places along piers to welcome Vagabond, first foreign yacht to stop here. The Russian yacht Apostle Andrey spent winter here before sailing the North-East Passage in 1999; she is now sailing the North-West Passage.
This is a mountainous area, and the surrounding tundra offers enough mushrooms to keep busy all inhabitants on this Sunday 18th of August! Exchange of painted homes, France draws a watercolour of Vagabond and swaps it for 2 paintings showing traditional tents. The evenk artist also brings us 5kg of fish, and shows us some work of art made of mammoth tusk for instance. After having answered the questions of a journalist from the Lighthouse of the Arctic, the local paper, our 2 days stop end with the interesting visit of the museum, specially organised for us and for 2 Ukrainian travellers going around the world only hitch-hiking, all means of transport concerned.
A large area of drifting ice floes is about to close our route further east, Murmansk is recommending us not to waste any time. So we leave Tiksi, little disappointed not being able to welcome here, few days later, the adventurer Gilles Elkaim, crossing the Russian Arctic since May 2000. Arved Fuchs has to wait for 2 crew members before sailing again with Dagmar Aaen.
New pictures are on-line on www.vagabond.fr.