At first, I have to check the state of the sea ice in the vicinity of the ship. What a great surprise then, to see Gérard Guérin arriving, by helicopter from Dumont d'Urville station where he arrived by plane a few days ago. Chainsaw expert, he comes to assist the mooring of the icebreaker. And here we are both mandated by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) to contribute to the good set-up of the big red boat against the pack ice: a nice nod to our long journey around the Arctic aboard Vagabond in 2002-2003. I explore the region for 8 days, from the ice edge, where L'Astrolabe is moored, up to Dumont d'Urville station, 50 km away. The proximity with penguins and seals is incredible. Here, no bear, no fox. No predator. The pack ice is perfect, solid, thick, well snowy, and flat (neither hummock nor sastrugi). Nothing like arriving by snowmobile at DDU to get a good idea of the immensity. I carry on the measurements in the neighbourhood of the base, until the Rocher du Débarquement, where Jules Dumont d'Urville took possession of Adélie Land, in 1840. On November 24, the fuels convoys and helicopters slings are completed, everything has been landed, L'Astrolabe is heading North. The arrival in Hobart on December 1st marks the end of R0 (first rotation). I meet again with my family in Ambato (Ecuador), just in time to feel the earthquake of Sunday, December 3rd at 6:19 am, magnitude 6.2, whose epicentre is a few hundred kilometres only from home!
Story by Serge Fuster, district leader (mission TA67), to read from the official blog: Un transfert d'enfer.
Special stamp collection, by Eric Sengler, the postal manager of the French base (TA67).