Yesterday, while crossing Inglefield Bay, we briefly saw a bird; it is the second living being we met this year, after the polar bear in the distance last week. Life is coming back slowly, announcing the sun!


The first scientific crew, which is suppose to come in 4 days time, are getting worried about ice conditions. In order to have a look on the ice pack on the north side of Inglefield Bay, from where the snowmobiles must arrive from Longyearbyen, I left this morning with the dogs. Suddenly around 11 o'clock, a strange noise, the governor's helicopter was approaching Vagabond. I guessed he will use this flight to check the packice around, also I just broke one ski stick, so I decided to come back and to forget about reconnaissance. As usual, the trip back was quicker. Very much quicker today, maybe the dogs believe we were being supplied with fresh seal meat? The helicopter didn't stop his rotor, I reached the boat when he was already taking off, I just had time to wave the pilots. France first thought that a bad accident got me to call for rescue, she had just been reassured, it was a reconnaissance flight. But if the helicopter landed nearby Vagabond, it was only to deliver our friend Martine's letter, as she cleverly thought about sending it to Air Lift (helicopters from Longyearbyen)!


About 3 days of storm from north-east has been filling in the large polynia. A thick and chaotic ice pack formed quickly, on which it is now more difficult to progress.

Last night, despite the satellite link cutting off, we were happy to answer the questions of the public (including friends and family!) of the polar festival of Saint-Martin-d'Heres (Isere).


Today, we are celebrating the return of the twilight, meaning that the sun, at midday, is now at less than 6 degrees below the horizon. When the sky is clear, we don't need anymore our cap lamps! Yesterday, when we reached the nice lead found 4 days ago (see photo 91), we discovered a huge polynia, a large area of open water, the packice had disappeared (see photo 92, taken from the same position than 91)! Then we followed the edge of this unexpected lake, preceded by a polar bear which we finally saw not for ahead of us, the first one this year. But he let us use peacefully our CTD instrument, in a sea water more salty and colder than usual...


In order to be comfortable in a private moment, we began to build a toilet-igloo. The snow on the ice field was not strong enough, so this igloo became a snow-tipi. Comfort there was perfect, but on the inauguration day, toilet on board Vagabond unfroze. Therefore, the snow-tipi is slowly absorbing into the ice field, as everything situate on top of it...

Yesterday, the surprise was to discover big tracks inside. So the last one to use this place is the first polar bear to visit us this year!


Great trip last Monday, with the full moon shining from the North, and a red glow from the South, like a perfect studio lighting on this ice pack which is for us a magical stage. A nice lead then offered us a big bunch of frost flowers (see pictures 90 and 91, soon).

Mercury has jumped yesterday from -25 to +2, while the pressure dropped down of 40 millibars within less than 24h hours, the wind blew over 40 knots... after this thaw, the blanket of snow is covered with a layer of ice, and the dogs are pulling us at top speed, despite the weight of the sledge, like on a billiard table! Also we saw a nice polar bear track, so they are not all of them sleeping...

Radio France International

This afternoon, we were able to listen to Arielle Cassim, on Radio France International; in her sea program, she was paying tribute to Sir Peter Blake, and to his last expeditions on board Seamaster, in Antarctica, and in Amazonia where he was killed 4 years ago. This great polar yacht, 36 metres long, ex-Antarctica of Jean-Louis Etienne, wintered in Spitsbergen in 1995 and participated to the same oceanographic studies than we are doing now, with the same scientific leader, Jean-Claude Gascard. Today, Jean-Louis Etienne is at Clipperton Island, with Gerard Guerin, who was our team mate during the 17 months circumnavigation journey of Vagabond, around the Arctic. About Seamaster, she is now Tara, since end of 2003, owned by Etienne Bourgois, who called us yesterday by satellite phone from King William Island, in Antarctic Peninsula! France knows pretty well this island since she sailed there on board Pen Duck III in 98... This is not all, brace yourself, the Captain of Tara is the best friend of France, Celine Ferrier, remember, she was working on board the Grande Hermine before, this long term fishing vessel we met in the Barents sea in June 2002. Here are the 2 mates, who were sailing together during their studies in Marseille, now at 16000km from each other, at north and south ends of the Atlantic Ocean, each one on board a fine polar boat! Few more words were exchanged with Catherine Chabaud, then the communication cut off, letting us back to our peaceful polar night...


While the light is more and more every day, announcing the twilight coming back in 8 days, and while the moon almost full is participating to this enchanting display of polar lights, we are discovering the new scenery around Vagabond, designed by the last storm. In 2 weeks will be arriving the first scientific crew, logistics is getting ready.