After 3 days of tough sailing, Vagabond just dropped anchor at Inglefield Bay, where she will spend a fourth winter for Damocles project studying sea ice. Today is also coming out our book 'Circumpolaris, Vagabond dans l'Arctique', published by Glénat. This is the story of Vagabond's journey around the Arctic (2002-2003), and about her first winterings in Spitsbergen (2004-2007). You can read a presentation here (not yet available in English).
Getting ready to go for the wintering location: 800kg of food, 400kg of dog food, 4 tonnes of diesel, a new winch... 3 dogs and 5 people are about to sail around south of Spitsbergen to reach Inglefieldbukta. But for now, the sea is a bit too rough.
New pictures on line...
Léonie was only 4 weeks old when daylight became permanent, by the end of March. Darkness has been back for 2 weeks, and since yesterday, the sun is more than 12 hours per day below the horizon: Léonie is discovering the night!
Vagabond will be soon ready for the next wintering, after 3 weeks of maintenance and supplying in Ny-Alesund. Regularly, short trips and little parties were interrupting this essential period before the winter. Tomorrow we will sail to Longyearbyen, holds and stores full with food and fuels.
Fantastic welcoming yesterday in Ny Alesund, where Vagabond will stay until 23rd September to prepare the next overwintering.
Still at anchor in front of Longyearbyen, Vagabond can be seen here.
Vagabond is at anchor in front of Longyearbyen, the little capital of Spitsbergen, since 7 o'clock this morning. The end of the third wintering and our return to civilization were already celebrated on 14 July at Hornsund, a great fjord south of Spitsbergen, with our friends from Makoré. For Fabrice and Isabelle, also travelling by yacht with their little daughter, Loana, it was the day they realized their dream: 5 years before, they started building their really nice boat whose destination was Spitsbergen. So the two happy French crews met by coincidence on their national nay, time for a little feast, especially since Makoré was carrying champagne and cheese for Vagabond. A whale came close to us exactly when we met! The evening before, while sailing around south cape, we were listening on the radio to the big African concert from La Bastille in Paris.
The CTD didn't come up after her last dive. Eaten away by salt, the safety lock broke up, the instrument suddenly sank to the bottom of Storfjord with her ballast and all cable. At about 200 meters deep, she is still recording salinity and temperature, until memory will be full or batteries empty. Could we hope for a lucky trawl one day? Water was clear, swell was negotiable, and by an irony of fate, it was the last profile of our third wintering. Data are lost as well as the ones from the 4 profiles we did before, regularly since we left the wintering location on 10th July. A stop in front of glacier Croll is allowing us to do some mechanical maintenance, to have the dogs run on land, and to collect some ice to increase our fresh water stock, before going on with a more flat sea. Léonie discovered her house can move and is finding her sea legs slowly, like her parents.
I will participate by satellite phone at Jacques Pradel's program, tomorrow 10 July between 9 and 10:30am, 'Journey to the poles'.
Way is free! Sun has been shining 24 hours for one week, and there are only few ice bits around us. All started on 7/7/07 around 7:07... Dogs have been moved to land yesterday, at the last minute, while sea ice was breaking up everywhere around, and when few polar bears were hunting on the last ice floes. Later, still sweating after carrying the heavy dog houses on the shore, I didn't hesitate to jump in the water to catch a bucket about to sink. Biting! Despite the sun, water temperature is still negative... Now we have to finish transforming our winter hut into a boat ready to sail.
Few narwhals passed along the neighbouring beach, free of ice, the weather was very calm and we could hear them blowing. Polar bears keep showing us all their hunting technics, such as this big one covered with mud who turned up very fast, passed in front of the excited dogs, and rushed at the seals taking the sun not far from us. After making dive about 15 seals this way, during his mad run, the bear lied in wait in front of one of their holes, patiently. While we can still ski on pack ice to the glacier front, at about 2 km from Vagabond, we did yesterday our first trip around Inglefield's Bay with the dinghy, after pulling it on ice up to open water. What an amazing feeling to do the same trip by boat, accompanied by flocks of eiders, than the one we did last week on ski with the dogs! The outboard engine was rocking Léonie when we were going joyfully in between drifting ice blocks...