Sailing with friends in Isfjord, treks or small trips ashore, kayaking or diving, alternately with maintenance and preparation of Vagabond for the next wintering. France is on board since last week. Great Arctic summer life...
Vagabond is back to civilization, she arrived tonight around 7pm. She had left Longyearbyen harbour on 30 September 2005. Yesterday's stop at Hornsund Polish Polar Station was great. I was happy to meet again with Jozef Wiktor, we had been working together last year. 3 other yachts dropped anchor there as well (a real marina!), but Sebastien and me probably had special treatment (shower, lunch, gifts...). Next winter, our polish neighbours will be 9 including one woman.
We left yesterday noon in the fog, with our 3 dogs very quiet at the back of the boat. Rough sea at the beginning, but Vagabond seemed happy sailing again, after 9 and half months frozen in ice. Short stop at Isbukta, just before going around the southern cape of Spitsbergen, and heading for the polish base in Hornsund.
Pack ice has been broken up by the swell, and around 3am, dogs were suddenly drifting away... They are now on land, waiting for departure, and we put the 3 dog houses with the equipment staying here until we are back in October. Vagabond will be free within few hours.
Pack ice is still holding us in our shelter, but the hole is now big enough around Vagabond and we could make a uturn today. Vagabond is looking at the exit!
9 o'clock this morning, a first polar bear too curious, a first flare. The 14 July dance could open on the ice still holding us, while last year, Vagabond could weigh anchor on 13 July.
Seal meat for everyone, that was on the menu yesterday, for Sébastien's 30th birthday. Early morning, 4 polar bears were already eating a big seal, not far from Vagabond. At least hunting went good for one of them, he then had to share it with 3 others who arrived not long after the event. Then the birds pounced on the leftovers. Our dogs had to wait we finished our good seal meat panful, then they wolfed down the few bits of fat we gave them. About sea ice, no change. Also fog and drizzle are back, in the image of the defeat of the French team...
France is playing the final next Sunday. May be the ice breaking up will be complete this same day, letting Vagabond finally free from the last 150m of ice? For now, we enjoy the very nice weather after 5 days of fog and drizzle, and the heart of Inglefield Bay is busy. Polar bears are hunting seals, or sleeping, or visiting Vagabond. On board, we sometimes have to jump out of our bunks, or stop our work, to help the dogs to dissuade a young polar bear more curious than the others. Or only to watch and listen to 2 cubs bickering, few metres from us. As for the Black Iceberg, he is free again and went away with the currents.
After one week trip around Svalbard, fantastic and unforgettable, Lance arrived yesterday night (permanent day light) at Inglefield Bay, at the end of which Vagabond is peacefully waiting for the complete ice breaking up. The heavy and wet fog did not allow us to use the helicopter to bring the cabin, which is plan to be set up on the moraine close de the yacht, to have a workshop, for DAMOCLES, for the next 2 winterings. Sébastien and I then went with the small boat from Lance to the ice edge where Enora, Yann and the 3 dogs were waiting for us, at about 200 meters from Vagabond. Enora and Jin fell in the water, while we were bringing the small boat alongside the ice, very fragile at this time of the year ; 3 polar bears were watching the scene, probably surprised! Time to meet together was too short and touching, dogs were shouting when Enora and Yann left. We found the boat impeccable and in perfect conditions, with fresh bread, home made yoghurts and even growing sala ds! A real pleasure to have entrusted Vagabond to them for one and a half month.
Vagabond and open water are still separated by about 3km of fast ice. Seals are more and more in Inglefield Bay, and there was also a female polar bear and her cub yesterday. During this summer solstice period, salads are growing better than ever inside the boat, giving a bit of greens to Enora and Yann for their last week on board. For my part, I'm back to Longyearbyen after one month in France, and I'm getting ready to embark on Sunday on board Lance, ship of the Norwegian Polar Institute, with my team mate Sébastien, to go to Vagabond and to replace Enora and Yann.