Echange avec Thomas Coville, en course autour du monde sur Sodebo.
"Blinding blizzard. During four days we have looked around for our usual landmarks: nothing! The tent and dogs kennels had disappeared. There was only a gale-force wind swirling the snow in a deafening noise. This blizzard burns the face and it's difficult to keep eyes opened. We had to stop the windmill because of a force 8 gale. In that case, we go ashore only to feed dogs and to check that there is no problem with the tent. We are from a small Atlantic island, so we know well about storms, and in a way we can say they exhilarate us. Here, the difference is the lost of visual landmarks. But however destabilizing it is, this force of the nature is really bewitching. Even if we don't know how many days that will go on and that the ice floe could be broken by this storm, we feel secure on board Vagabond still immobilized in its frozen setting." Amélie and Hervé
"Between dog and wolf. In French, this expression means the twilight. We have this kind of light during few hours far away in the south, when the sky is clear until two o'clock in the afternoon. So the night is not always completely dark. We can see mountains outlined in the sky. The landscape changes every days depending on the fallen snow, the wind or the colour of the sky and the night intensity. We never feel alone because there is so much to do, to contemplate, to learn, to meditate. A difficult thing to explain is the notion of time, different of the one living in the society. In fact, if we shouldn't have computer or logbook, we should lost the notion of dates. And often, during the day, I wonder what time it is. Passing hours are neither more or less long but different, this is the Arctic time. We are just living at the pace of the nature and it's a great chance!" Amélie
"No routine, only a few habits. Some people wonders how our days are occupied. So, after an hearty breakfast, the first thing done is to send the weather report to Longyearbyen’s airport. Then, we devote ourself to writing emails, articles or our logbook. While Nael’s doing his school work, the interior is cleaned up. We also have to sweep the back deck to avoid it freezing. We can go and get some ice or snow to the stock of water in cans. We do some ice measurements too. We have to feed the dogs and we devote a little time to them. On board, there’s always some work to do: DIY, sewing, cooking… Thanks to the diesel stove, the temperature is about 15 degrees and we cook on it too. The generator is running two hours a day and the windmill supply to the electric requirement. And we use candles to save it. After diner, we watch films, read or write. For sure, we are living every moment to the full but time’s going by very quickly!" Amélie et Hervé
"No more sound, no more movement: all is motionless around us since the full moon appeared to light up the bay. There's only during the day the song of dogs in unison in the style of wolfs and the sound of the windmill rotating more or less quickly. Even the glacier, as a giant being petrified by the cold, is now silent. So, we have passed from a sailor lifestyle to a polar one, exchanging our rubber boots for some big and insulating ones. The ice is now thick enough (about 20 cm) to walk on with no risk. With the formed pack ice, polar bears, which we saw every days, unfortunately are becoming scarce and we see one from time to time only. Otherwise, we have found our rhythm and for the moment, to live in the polar night isn't a real problem, and certainly not for Nael who sleeps round the clock every night!" Amélie
"My name is Nael, I'm five. To be on Vagabond is my first expedition with dad and mum. Around us, there are some mountains, a glacier. I see a lot of bears and one day, during a walk, one followed us and when he saw us closer, he quickly ran away. I saw an Arctic fox too, running at the edge of the fjord. On land, I ski, I play with snow. I like to take care of dogs and at mealtimes, we have to tell them to seat down and to wait. Imiak is the greedier, Frost always gives me cuddles. On board, I do some school work, I draw, do DIY, cook and sweep up the snow on the deck. I like to learn sailor's things as knots for example. I'm happy to be here because the landscape is so nice. Sometimes, I miss my family and Belle my dog, I would like to eat some fries made by granny. The most beautiful thing that I see is polar lights, it's like magic..." Nael
The weather balloon has been lost. Strong wind started while doing weather sounding: Amélie and Hervé managed to bring back the balloon in the tent, but when closing the tent, a draught suddenly took the balloon away... They are very sad and disappointed.
Partie du petit port de Longyearbyen au Spitzberg il y a tout juste un mois, la petite famille se familiarise jour après jour avec un environnement sauvage. 120 km/h de vent, l'ancre entraînée par le pack de glace et le bateau qui se retrouve alors à quelques mètres de la côte, voilà une des nuits agitées que peut vivre le petit équipage du voilier polaire Vagabond. Heureusement, le calme revient aussi vite que la tempête est arrivée et tout est maintenant rentré dans l'ordre. Au fond de la baie d'Inglefield, à l'Est de l'archipel, le bateau est de nouveau ancré à cinquante mètres du rivage. Il est tantôt pris dans la glace, tantôt en eau libre, la banquise n'étant pas encore complètement formée. L'ennui et la solitude ne sont pas de mise dans cet endroit pourtant situé à deux jours à pied du premier endroit habité. Et pour cause, en trois semaines, ce n'est pas moins d'une trentaine d'ours blancs qui sont passés parfois à quelques dizaines de mèt res du bateau. Curieux avant tout, ils ne montrent pas de comportement agressif mais chaque déplacement se fait néanmoins armé d'un fusil et de pétards dans les poches afin de les éloigner au cas où ils se montreraient trop entreprenants envers les chiens ou le matériel disposé sur la berge. Pour Hervé, Amélie et Nael, âgé de cinq ans, les journées s'organisent suivant la météo. Au programme, si le vent est très faible : expérience scientifique à l'aide d'un ballon sonde muni de capteurs, qui est envoyé à environ 1500 mètres d'altitude. Sinon, les trois aventuriers se baladent à ski tractés par un ou deux chiens et ce, tant que la lumière du jour le permet. En effet, depuis le 28 octobre la nuit polaire s'est installée sur la région et la lumière n'est présente en ce moment que de dix heures à quinze heures. Les températures actuelles oscillent entre -10 et -15 °C et après une journée à l'extérieur, il fait bon retrouver l'atmosphère chaleu reuse du carré. Certains petits rituels sont déjà en place comme chaque matin, l'envoi du relevé météo ou les deux heures quotidiennes d'activité scolaire pour Nael. Selon le petit garçon, le plus extraordinaire est le spectacle grandiose des aurores boréales : lumières vertes, magiques, qui animent le ciel les nuits de beau temps.
"When Inglefieldbukta has turned into a foaming pot. Six days ago, during the night, a gale force wind and a dense pack ice made the anchor loose. The boat came close to shore. We went powerless to do anything faced with the power of nature, waves and ice pieces covering a big part of the moraine. Dogs had their paws wet, surprised to see the boat so closed to them. We had waited the rising tide to start engines and we had been lucky to manage to get the boat out of this very delicate situation. The next day, several hours have been necessary to put the mooring in order again. Shortly after, an another gust of wind, but from the other direction, let the pack cleared away at an incredible speed. For the moment, all is calm in Inglefieldbukta. We are taking advantage to have a bit of rest preparing ourself to live some new adventures." Amélie and Hervé
"Waiting the thick ice, there're different possibilities to rally the dry land. We get more or less time according to options. First one is very easy with the open water. We just have to follow the rope from the boat to the shore. That becomes complicated when the young ice is formed, not enough solid to walk on it but dense enough to prevent the dinghy to go ahead. In this case, the distance of fifty meters as far as Vagabond can become very long. We have to pull, to push, to break the ice with a pickaxe. The third way requires a lot of caution. Dressed with a waterproof suit, we walk very slowly on the ice, pulling the dinghy with Nael on board. No icy bath for the moment! Then, we see bears passing close to us with their kindly and confident walk. The first light comes at 10 AM and disappear at 3 PM. In any case, our days are organised according to the weather. We do soundings with the balloon when the wind is weak and otherwise, we widen little and little the perimete r of our walks with dogs, admiring some majestic landscapes." Amélie and Hervé