Live interview of Eric by Eric Lange in Allo la planète at 3pm.
Geologists left for Brest. Lightened by 900kg of rocks and equipment, Vagabond has her bow up again! She is already missing René's explanations, pillow lavas, drifting ice pushing her away from anchorage in the middle of the night, exploration of small coves with the dinghy, fresh water collected from waterfalls, lost plastic boxes on beaches useful to store rock samples, lively aperitifs, rough beaching, corer purring...
Before starting the following mission and then heading for Grise Fiord, we get in Uummannaq, biggest town visited since June 2011 (1400 inhabitants), part of the supplies we need for the winter: food, spare parts and equipment are coming from our partners in France or from Denmark. Making the most of the nice weather, I spend about two hours diving under the hull to set up the transducer for next mission. Ann Andreasen, enthusiastic and dynamic leader, is showing us around: she is in charge of the children's home (famous after the film Inuk), she is chairwoman of the Polar Institute, and she helped setting up an exhibit about Jean Malaurie.
Sailing around the world, Coriolis is dropping anchor near Vagabond for an unexpected meeting. We are all invited on board for an evening. The crew is coming from Murmansk, she just gave up the North-East Passage and is about to sail the North-West Passage!
At Illorsuit, our next stop, France is fishing about fifteen cods in twenty minutes! Then Vagabond is sailing again along the entire coast of Svartenhuk, because the geophysicists from last month mission Volcabasin are also interested with our depth measurements. In the fjord Arfertarssuk, former mission base camp, we have appointment with Claudine and Alain Caradec, on board Kotick. We are happy to get to know these great sailors better.
Beginning of work for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Nasa): in unknown area in Melville Bay (0-1000m depth), North-West of Greenland, the aim is to detect major holes in the seabed, offshore main glaciers, and to do soundings and ocean measurements (CTD), by getting close to the glaciers to see the water vertical structure evolution on continental shelf. Leader: Eric Rignot, Senior Research Scientist at JPL, Pasadena (Nasa), and Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine (USA). Length: 15 days.
The weather is beautiful when Vagabond is finding her way between icebergs and leaving Svartenhuk. The scientific expedition Volcabasin is finishing successfully, we are heading for Uummannaq with hundred of kilos of rocks and equipment. Laurent Geoffroy, expedition leader:
"The scientific purpose of this survey is to investigate an about 6 km thick, 50-60 million years old, volcanic field, located almost entirely above the sea level, at a continental / oceanic lithospheric (the upper 50 to 100 km of the inner Earth) boundary. This huge volcanic event was induced by a lithospheric break-up of Eocene age. This event, that divided a former unique tectonic plate into the nowadays Greenland and North American plates, occurred above an exceptionally hot upper Mantle. This specific setting is believed to bring on an unusual type of passive margin: the “Volcanic Passive Margin”. The detailed study of the lavas will allow identifying the depth and composition of the mantle source of these unusual magmas, and linking the melting event to the extensive deformation of the margin. More generally the aim of this program is to further understand the mechanisms of break up of a continental lithosphere under a particularly hot regime."
Interview of France by phone, by Jean-Luc Blain, during the International Island Film Festival, at Groix Island.
Swell is still big when Vagabond is dropping anchor, Saturday noon, in front of the old Tartussaq hut. Priscilla, François and Bernard worked and camped there since Tuesday night. They disembarked using dry suits, at midnight, under the rain... but they had three days of nice weather and are coming back very happy about their stay on land. During that time, Vagabond sailed to Qaarsut, about 100 kilometres South of the working area; it is the closest airport. Laurent, the expedition leader, and the four geophysicists left Thursday morning, while a new team with three geologists arrived the following day (René, Arnaud and Philippe). Straight after, Vagabond was heading back to Svartenhuk to pick up the campers and carry on the study of this exceptional area. The numerous helicopter flights done the week before had allow to make endless observations and measures, sometimes in very remote places with difficult access. Everyone could fly, even Aurore et Léonie, to enjoy this basaltic massif and its glaciers. Myself I was requested to do some long pan films from the helicopter, to see and see again later the area.
Between the two teams, Vagabond could do a short stop in Uummannaq. There was many blueberries around town, for the great pleasure of the whole family!
South coast of Svartenhuk is not much sheltered, landings are sometimes difficult because of the swell. Fortunately, rain and wind are alternating with sun and high temperatures: up to 20°C! On 2 August, Porsild joined Vagabond. She is a Greenlandic boat from Qeqertarsuaq scientific station (Disko Island). On board, four geophysicists from Brest coming to strengthen Laurent Geoffroy's team. Magnetism measurements and gravimetry done by Pascal Tarits' team are completing observations, core and other samplings done by Vagabond's four geologists, to understand the Svartenhuk volcanic margin. On 6 August in the evening, Jim and Svein are landing on the shore nearby with the Air Greenland helicopter, chartered until 14 August. The two pilots set up on board Vagabond. When Porsild has to leave the area on 9th August, we are then fourteen people around the table, for five days! Luckily, in Arfertuarssuk, there is a good shelter for the boat, and a good landing place for the helicopter. Part of the geophysicists equipment can stay on shore (phew!), near the fuel drums brought by and for the helicopter, and six people are sleeping in a nice hut and in a tent. Volcabasin 2012 mission is in full swing!
On 31st July at 6am, France and I are dropping anchor in the little bay Akunerit, south of Svartenhuk Peninsula. Near the beach, shallow water is protecting us from numerous icebergs. Aurore and Léonie have been sleeping for long in their cabin, as well as the four geologists that we took on board at Qaarsut last night, with about twenty boxes, barrels and bags, for one month field work. Together, under a beautiful sunset, we could watch humpback whales, imperturbable, very busy feeding. Every day since 26 July, here at 71°N, sun is setting again, shortly.
Vagabond just had time to do a short stop in Uummannaq before the start of the mission. We were very warmly welcomed by Pierre Auzias, who has been looking after us since he knows that we intend to spend here winter 2013-2014. Pierre's neighbour is the great traveller Ole Jorgen, and we are very happy to see him again, just before his departure on an expedition to North Greenland. Our stop is also a chance to meet Gambo's crew, sail boat working for a one year oceanographic project in Uummannaq fjord.
Rocks studied by the team of Laurent Geoffroy, who is on board for his fourth time, are about 55 millions years old. Earth is 4,5 billions years old. If the Earth would be one year old on 1st January, man would have arrived on 31st December at 10pm. With the geologists, it is fascinating to learn more about the story of our planet, while trying to protect it.
Beginning of Volcabasin 2012: geological and geophysical study of the Svartenhuk area on the West coast of Greenland, lead by Laurent Geoffroy, professor at Ocean Field Laboratory, at Brest University. This expedition aims at the understanding of the structure and development of a particular volcano-tectonic structure. By studying this object, scientists seek to better understand the mechanisms of plate break-up over a thermal anomaly within the Earth mantle. This one month project will involve two boats, Porsild and Vagabond, as well as an helicopter.
Little by little we can feel the swell, Vagabond is back to the sea, free of ice, and the crew is slowly accustoming to life at sea while crossing Baffin Bay. Our friend Christian is watching our route and suggest us to follow Canadian coast before heading for Upernavik, this is allowing us to avoid strong head winds. Not a boat is seen during these four days at sea, but many icebergs, each more majestic than the one before. Friday noon, we enter Upernavik harbour, and soon we meet with our friend Bodil: she is watching over a few boxes of supplies that came for us from Quebec on board yacht Arctic Tern 1 chartered by WWF! Other boats are in the harbour, suddenly looking like a marina: Dodo's delight (her skipper Bob Shepton set up in 2009 the Littleton weather station which we repaired in August 2011), [lived on board Vagabond for two months in Svalbard](http://www.markvandeweg.nl>Jonathan (Mark, her skipper, <a
href=)), Billy Budd (her owner Cristina invites us Saturday night for a great evening), Belzebub II (Rana, their film maker, is going aboard Vagabond as passenger all the way to Uummannaq), Arctic Tern... More boats recently passed here, or are sailing in the area: Kotick, Balthazar, Marguerite, La Louise, Polaris... How crowded! Since Vagabond left Upernavik (1200 people, ten times more than Grise Fiord) on 17th July 2011, she didn't see any other yacht, neither any harbour.