Fair winds finally, it is time for Vagabond to leave Arctic Bay and begin her two month mission around Devon and Ellesmere Islands (map). As with every departure, it's a mixture of trepidation and excitement.
Despite the restrictions related to Covid-19, Transport Canada and the Ministry of Health of Nunavut gave us their consent as our family crew has been up North for months. But the various researchers for whom we work are not authorized to join us in Nunavut, nor our team members, in order to best protect the local communities. Only a hydrographer will exceptionally be allowed to embark at the end of August, for 3 weeks, and he will first have to spend two weeks of quarantine in a hotel in Ottawa.
Our daughters Aurore and Leonie, 10 and 13 years old, will be our team members for this cruise. A unique family configuration, unprecedented for a sailing season that promises to be wild. Arctic waters will indeed be very uncrowded this year, we will meet no cruise ship, no yacht attempting the Northwest Passage. Even the scientific icebreaker Amundsen is confined to the south of the Arctic Circle. Neither boat nor ice as sea ice melt already reaches record level.
The recovery of the last coralline samples, to end properly this one-year study, has been entrusted to our friends in Arctic Bay whom we are nostalgic to leave. Tuesday evening, the executive committee of the Hunters and Trappers Association (all Inuit over 16 are members, automatically) invited us to share our impressions and our projects during a friendly meeting. The audience also asked me about the potential impact of hydrophones on marine mammals that some scientists would like to install to listen to underwater activity, especially this summer with little ship traffic. There is also this lake in which fishermen would like me to dive to retrieve a few lost nets... See you soon Arctic Bay!