Disko Bay encounters

  • Vagabond et Atka a Ilulissat
  • Escale Ata
  • Conference a bord du Soleal
  • Leonie grimpe au soleil

For three weeks, nature has been good at bringing discoveries of small bays and wild fjords, whales, glaciers and explosive icebergs. Nature is also generous to treat our crew with plenty of black crowberries (coulis or fresh by handfuls), northern bilberries, mushrooms (delicious when fried), mussels, sea urchins and cod! Aurore and Leonie learned about rock climbing, using ropes on pretty long and steep cliffs. "I love climbing, de-climbing and top-roping!".

Aboard the Soleal, brand new liner from La Compagnie du Ponant, we meet again with Stephane Niveau, the expedition leader (also director of Paul-Emile Victor center in Premanon), and with captain Patrick Marchesseau (also captain of Planet Solar, world tour with solar energy), requesting us a lecture for their 200 passengers. Our friends Babeth and Laurent, and their two daughters Ondine and Lison, on holidays on board Vagabond, join us to enjoy the little swimming pool on board the cruise ship, a good meal and a great time with our hosts! All this is happening at anchor in front the Eqip glacier, where we can find the French polar expeditions base camp (1948-1953).

In Ilulisaat harbour, we share an evening with Atka's crew (former Periple), and with Gildas Flahault, who has been tingling our spine for long with his brushes. The aluminum boat was bought by Ben (François Bernard, polar guide), who visited us last winter.

Then Nanuq came along Vagabond. The project of his captain, Peter Gallinelli, is to winter without fossil energy (Passive Igloo). Professor at HEPIA (Engineering School in Geneva), he had organized a meeting "Energy and Far North" with Eric. Reunion and warm meeting with his family crew en route to northern Greenland.

Chance also allows us, in Ilulisaat, to meet again with:

Happy moments in the most visited town in Greenland!

This is when the Blue Soul's team, filmmakers and freedivers, boards Vagabond. At once in the water, despite the cold, they enjoy the surroundings of icebergs, touching various type of ice, and getting close to whales. On August 23rd, in front of Ilimanaq, Leonie is going snorkeling for the first time, discovering starfish and sea urchins: "It's amazing, the bottom of the sea!".

France, Leonie and Aurore take off from Aasiaat (Greenland), the next day, to be on time for the start of the new school year in France.

From Sisimiut to Ilulissat

  • Pierre1er LadyDana et Vagabond a Ilulissat
  • Retrouvailles inattendues
  • Baleine a bosse
  • Debarquement sur iceberg

Sisimiut is the northern most harbour in Greenland not freezing in winter. What a difference with Qikiqtarjuaq, on the other side of the Strait, at the same latitude!

France: "Once in Sisimiut, together with our friends Celine, her son Guillaume, her mother Eliane and her cousin Anne, we enjoyed the swimming pool: the girls were expecting it for one year! It is outside, with sand at the bottom and mosquitoes as much as you want! It was fun."

Heading North. As we keep looking for the narrowest passes between islands, Vagabond hit the seabed twice! Getting over. At anchor in a little fjord, the crew enjoys fresh mussels. Fog continues, hiding the landscape.

So what a surprise to see Le Manguier right in front of us! Boats manoeuvre, and while Celine (tugboat captain) is keeping Vagabond close to the tugboat, we are happy to share some news. It's been a long time since we sailed the Northeast Passage, in 2009! France was pregnant, Leonie was two years old... Short but nice and unexpected encounter.

France: "Wonderful navigation between a lot of islands, we enjoyed seeing from very close some quiet whales, and South of Disko Bay, we also enjoyed the quiet village of Ilimanaq in the midnight sun. Then, we took the opportunity to spend time in between the impressive barrier of icebergs overflowing from the Ilulissat fjord, with a happy girl in the crow's nest. Hurray for Greenland!"

It's the ninth season for Vagabond around the big island, but it is our first stop in the most visited place in the country. When entering Ilulissat harbour, another surprise, Vagabond gets to moor alongside Peter 1st and Lady Dana 44, Russian and Polish sailboats: colleagues! Peter 1st sailed around the Arctic in 2010, in one season, the same year than the trimaran Northern Passage. We meet again, in the Russian way, but not too much as they have to go to sea around midnight.

Across Davis Strait

  • Leonie carnet de voyage
  • Emplacement camp de glace GreenEdge 23 juillet 2015

Thursday, July 23rd, south of Broughton Island. Nice weather, fair sea, no ice around, Vagabond sails by GreenEdge ice camp location and reach the open sea. Eight days ago, we were here by skidoo!

We are expected in Greenland, weather forecast is good, but still a lot of ice ahead. Not long before midnight, we decide to stop Vagabond against a big ice floe, in order to sleep for a few hours, while drifting south with pack ice. The next evening, we have to stop because of the fog, we cannot see a way out of this giant maze.

The net is tightening due to wind and current. We are mainly drifting south, up to one knot. Every day, we check ice charts and weather forecast. Two or three times, Vagabond try to force her way through, in vain. So we carry on various work onboard. In the end, this drifting family time is like a privilege, relaxing, after a long and interesting but tiring season. A polar bear comes, not too close. Lots of seals and birds.

On Monday, pack ice seems to open a little bit. With France in the crow's nest, Vagabond pushes, breaks, finds her way to more open water. When we go through the last drifting ice strip, there are only 60 nautical miles to go to Sisimiut. Sea is fine, wind is enough to fill the jib, fog is thick. Using GPS and radar, Vagabond reaches Greenland and, at 3 am, finds the harbour!

Not long after, we learn that close to us, while Vagabond was drifting, a Russian pilot was surviving from a helicopter accident. Read articles from Nunatsiaq and CBC.

Breaking-up and heading offshore

  • 258 Chiens a la derive
  • 256 Montage kayak
  • 250 Passage de flaque
  • 264 Banquet de caribou

Against all expectations, breaking-up was fast.

July 11th: France and the girls are spreading out seaweed on the ice to accelerate the melting between Vagabond and the closest ice edge. Sharing some seal stew with our neighbours at their camp in Aningaatalik.

July 12th: Robbie is picking up his eleven bear skulls that were hanging under Vagabond since last November for cleaning.

July 13th: last family ski trip on the ice.

July 14th: end of GreenEdge.

July 15th: time to prepare Vagabond for sailing. Raining!

July 17th: diving to recover the anchor, giving up because very poor visibility. Chain is dropped with a buoy to find it again later.

July 18th: main sail fixed and hoisted. Vagabond starts drifting with the ice.

July 19th: testing the engines, painting the bow, and building up the kayak, while drifting.

July 20th: while Leonie and I are in town, France tells me by radio that ice broke up around the boat and Vagabond is now free to sail! Leonie and I jump in the dinghy, we have to recover the dogs, the dog house, and the kayaks, still all on the ice... Not long after, everything is on board and we even find again our anchor, thanks to the buoy and the GPS.

July 21st: our dogs are given to Steevie for the summer. Caribou and seaweed feast to celebrate Qikiqtarjuaq's clean-up. Lots of mosquitoes!

July 22nd: Vagabond in Qikiqtarjuaq small harbour.

July 23rd: filling up water, diesel, gas, air (diving tanks) and food. Departure for Greenland.

End of GreenEdge 2015

  • 252 Decoupe phoque et CTD
  • 234 Derniere equipe GreenEdge 2015
  • 139 Retour cabane vers la terre ferme
  • 205 Chargement plancher sur traineau

Early July, the bloom is finally happening! Field work time is extended, we must do everything possible to collect data and samples of the event coveted by the entire GreenEdge team, sea ice permitting.

July 6th: last ice cores, last optical profile, taking down the weather mast, and pulling back the cabin towards the mainland.

July 7th: last skidoo ride between Vagabond and the village, and first dinghy ride!

July 8th: dismantling the floor of the tent, storage on land (Old Broughton).

July 9th: recovery of the Oceanetic buoy by dinghy nearby Vagabond.

July 10th: last GreenEdge team on site! Retrieving the ADCP. Enjoying a break on land, on the way back, fire heather, smoking and tasting fish.

July 12th: great weather, two of us, Jay and me, are heading to the former ice camp to do a CTD profile and to get water samples with a 8 liters Niskin bottle. France is then looking after the filtrations in the lab.

July 13th: Thomas and Simon are flying south, Joannie is now alone with us (Vagabond) for the final stretch.

July 14th. Before heading out on thin ice, we attach an empty jerry-can on the back of each skidoo for more buoyancy, just in case. The thinnest ice area is out of range of the VHF radio relay: we put the satellite phone in the sled. This one is unlikely to go through the ice and can even hold a snowmobile and keep it from drowning! Sporty driving, it is necessary to speed up once in a while to cross a hole or a crack. I keep some distance with Jaypootie, sometimes he indicates me to go further to the right or to the left. Once we get south of Broughton Island, the ice is much better, still good for another eight or ten days.

Great weather again. Jay is butchering a seal hunted along the way, while I'm winching down the CTD to 360m. I'm having some raw seal meat, still warm, using the hand winch in the same time! Looking at the results on the computer, we find that the strong fluorescence peak is slightly less compared to the previous station (July 12th). So we didn't miss the maximum of the bloom!

Once water samples done, and two more seals caught (Jay gives me some time to practice with his scope), it's time to go, melting is fast. Relieved, we get back to our starting point (old Dew Line beach), it remains for us to cross the 20 meters of open water separating the ice from the shore. Full throttle. "The fun part!".

While we finish storing snowmobiles and sleds for the summer, France is doing the latest filtrations in the lab and Joannie prepares photos and short films. Fifty people are then coming to attend her talk at the community hall. End of GreenEdge 2015!

Looking for coralline

  • 147 Jochen tend filet a Eric pour recolte coralline
  • 154 Observer le fond sous la banquise
  • 170 Plongee sous glace mince
  • 187 Coralline agee d environ 100 ans
  • 185 Recolte coralline
  • 178 Plongee du 7 juillet 2015

Looking for coralline (Clathromorphum compactum) with Branwen Williams and Jochen Halfar. Five days of intense exploration and diving, thrill of driving on seaice about to break-up, and pretty nice samples collected. "Too bad we did not meet ten years ago!" Jochen tells me, satisfied with this first mission together, which predicts future projects even more ambitious.

Canada Day

  • 127 Concours decoration velo Fete du Canada

July 1, festivities are organized in the village for Canada Day: parade, decorated bike contest, hot dogs offered by the RCMP, fire suits racing, seal feast, lots of candies, sculpin fishing contests...