Science on board Vagabond.. without Eric the scientist

  • Leonie et Aurore site numero 1
  • Leonie reine du labo
  • Niskin Leonie France

With the current crew composed by Aurore 10 years old, graceful dancer, Léonie 13 years old, fortunately a budding scientist and me, artist, almost 50 years old, we managed to deal with a small part of the scientific program, at the cost of trials and errors that Eric would have never known.

By a beautiful afternoon all our little troop snorts with dog, pulka filled up with all the necessary equipment, and good mood to the nearest site, 2.3 km away from the boat. Perky, we pierce the sea ice with three auger holes, break with the tuk the remaining ice between the holes (the longest part!) to make only one big hole, in order to send to the bottom the Niskin bottle re-tamed before. After having taken the precious water from the bottom of the sea and covered with insulating snow our little messy site, one hour of happy walking brings us back to the boat, where serious things begin. With Léonie as queen of the lab; I'm just helping her. Carbon, mercury chloride... duly gloved and equipped with pipette and syringe, she filters, she does a good job... until the last drop available, but there are still two samples to collect! Rage, disappointment, three hours of work outside to do only half of the job...

In addition, we understand that the water samples must be taken from the two dedicated sites on the same day. First, find the second site. Loaded with my unshakeable memories, I'm leaving light for a reconnaissance. My goal is also to train the dog Stone to pull a skier, before harnessing a pulka. 12 km and three hours later, after a lot of sweating due to the dog training, I'm back on board, empty-handed. I didn't see the pile of ice and the pole that should have been there! Two days later I leave with a GPS, re-tamed too, and arrive right on the so hoped vision. With a tuk and an auger, I can make the holes in advance, and admire Stone's progress as a tractor.

Finally arrives the big day, we are ready. This morning, leaving Léonie and Aurore at their boat-schooling, the pulka loaded and the dog in front, I cross the bay and open the three holes before realizing that the tuk has disappeared! I turn back alone on ski, following our footsteps, but Stone tears off his ice screw and joins me. I tie myself to him as good as I can with the hanging ice screw and travel almost the entire way back to Vagabond before finding the tuk. Back to the holes I get angry: this time I lost the ice screw! The dog drags the large block of ice he is attached to like a ball, slowly but surely around me ... This water sampling is not easy. Back at the boat, ice screw found, Léonie officiates in the lab-kitchen, I nibble a ready lunch then set off again. Three hours later I am back from the second site, after an incredible field work: all went perfect! It is 6:30 pm, Léonie has finished the lab work and we have finally managed to do a day of water sampling as it should be!