We walked on the ice island!

  • Amarrage ile de glace PII2012A1

A thin layer of snow is now covering the landscape. While Vagabond is passing near Littleton Island, we can see the weather station, repaired two years ago (see weather data live). We will try to visit the island on our way back. For now, it is a special quest we are starting in Smith Sound.

Following the instructions of enthusiastic scientists, carefully observing polar ice drifting south through Nares Strait (between Greenland and Canada), we are heading for the last known position of PII-2012-A-1. On the way, while crossing Smith Sound, we are doing three CTD casts. Drifting at more than one kilometre per hour, bigger than the nearby Pim Island, PII-2012-A-1 is a huge piece of ice (95 sq km) from Petermann glacier (North-West Greenland), it broke in 2012 and it is drifting with winds and currents when the sea is not frozen. We have to sail through heavier pack ice when, at least, we find the endless undulating area, three to ten meters high above the sea level, very different from usual pack ice and icebergs. On the leeward side, there is open water, a swimming polar bear is welcoming us, we have time to watch him. A little later, Vagabond is moored to the ice island, and another bear is coming to check our rope! We can watch him from below for a pretty long time. The bear is then lying down at a few hundreds meters, but he doesn't seem interested with the crew coming onto the drifting glacier several times, curious about this unusual field. The icemeter (EM31) is used for one of our trips, will it be able to tell us more about the thickness of the ice? With the stem against the ice wall, we have a very nice night, drifting south. We travel more than 20 kilometres! A camera is then installed on top of the mast to take a picture every ten seconds, while we are sailing around the ice island at a constant distance of one hundred meters. Every details of its sides, which we enjoy discovering, are immortalized. At the northern tip, we face heavy pack ice and we have to turn towards Canada.