• Vagabond depuis le drone
  • Escale a Itilleq

Little and very welcoming village, about 130 inhabitants, peaceful and clean, Itilleq is our last stop in Greenland. We have been in the area for six days, waiting for the best weather to cross Davis Strait (to avoid head winds and freezing sprays). There we are, departure in a few hours for Qikiqtarjuaq!

From September 24th to 26th, Vagabond is in Nuuk, the big city in Greenland: swmimming pool, restaurants, malls, shipshandlers... Eleven years to the day after our first stop in Nuuk (at the end of the Arctic circumnavigation), the capital is well bigger and modernized!

We meet Clementine and Adrien's friends: Jens is pilot for Air Greenland, he has done a lot of search and rescue flights. Thomas has been air traffic controller for many years in Greenland. Above all, they both have their own little planes or helicopter, to travel with their family, like air gipsies. They can go on forever, it is great to share their passion!

As the weather is not good enough to sail strait to Qikiqtarjuaq, we keep following the West coast of Greenland. The very well protected harbour of Maniitsoq is welcoming Vagabond for a short stop, surrounded by mountains attracting mountaineers and skiers. A little later, while sailing, Clementine and Adrien fly the drone a couple of times: magnificent views on our escapade!

Landscape is getting snowy, lakes and streams are freezing, long nights give us more chance to watch northern lights, and the stove is on day and night. Time to reach our winter quarters!

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Pictures of summer 2014 journey.

Heading to Qikiqtarjuaq

  • Maree basse

Stopped at Ipiutaq, time to wait for better weather, and to see our friends about to start gathering their hundreds of sheeps.

Winter projects are confirmed, we are heading to Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, on the East coast of Baffin Island, in Canada. There, our friends, our dogs, the school, and quite a lot of equipment are waiting for us for another winter in the same little bay 3 kilometres away from the village.

Summer missions are done, five great and intense weeks in Tasiilaq region. We were delighted to discover again that part of East Greenland, successively with our colleagues and friends Laurent Geoffroy, Michael Charavin, and Christian Morel, and their respective groups.

The last group left last week, while Clémentine and Adrien joined us for the long trip back. They know the route from the sky, when they flew around the world by ultralight plane. Pilots (Wings for Science), they were quickly sea adapted and they are sharing watches with France and me. Nights are long now, drifting ice is sometimes hard to see due to swell and precipitation, despite the powerful headlight and the radar.

Our friend Christian Dumard, routeur, is looking after us: conditions were good since we left Kulusuk, smooth sea, favourable currents and winds, northern lights and moon light, it was pretty easy to zigzag between numerous growlers. Only one short stop was needed, Wednesday night. When approaching the coast and a possible shelter, wind was suddenly gusty (100km/h), visibility very poor in flurries of snow, one engine stopped for a moment, and the main sail got slightly damaged. Not long after, at second attempt, the anchor was holding, the crew could rest.

We enjoyed once more the southern fjords to avoid Cape Farvel! Minke and humpback whales welcomed us on the West coast. Aurore and Léonie were overexcited.

Clémentine and Adrien cam with a drone for Vagabond, first trial yesterday, at Ipiutaq, amazing! Fun and useful, the pictures it can take are beautiful.

Before leaving Kulusuk, the pilots could organize a photo mission for Laurent Geoffroy. I went with them in the rented P68, it was my first time in a plane in Greenland (where we already spent eight summer seasons)! After four hours of flight and thousands of pictures, studied geological massif will be soon examined thoroughly in 3D on a computer. It was fascinating to see from above these fjords, islands, glaciers, well explored with Vagabond during 2000, 2001 and 2014 missions.

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Geological objectives, by Laurent Geoffroy

  • Casse-tete geologique

The purpose of the mission done in East Greenland with Vagabond, between August 8th and 18th, 2014, was to reach an exceptional site of the volcanic margin, at 200 kilometres north of Kulusuk, where basaltic flows of the margin are lying on the Precambrian platform. The study of the geometry of this contact is basic because it allows to understand the mechanisms at the origin of this type of transition continent-ocean. The mission, although short, was successful, thanks to Vagabond... and her crew!

From Nuuk to Kulusuk

  • Collecte de camomille a Ipiutaq
  • Baleine a bosse sonde pres de Vagabond
  • Magie des fjords groenlandais

Two things sailors dread in high latitudes: to touch an unmapped rock, to hit an iceberg. Done for Vagabond! First the hull, in Canada, not long after having left our wintering site. Then the nose, in Greenland, after our stop in Nuuk. Those responsible: heavy fog and lack of vigilance at the end of a night watch. To keep looking at the sounder and at the radar... Vagabond is strong and take it, nothing can stop her, she continues her route with only nice bumps.

Careful, we enjoy the inside route, protected from the swell and funnier than the offshore route. There are beacons along most of the West coast of Greenland, for small boats, and we meet a lot of them. Despite only a few stops, we are inside the landscape and we mix with Greenlanders. Here a caribou on top of a rock, there a fox looking for food on a beach. Great coastal sailing. Near Paamiut, a wreck, a big fishing boat, is calling for caution! All the more so as the night, the real one, dark, is showing up again, in the south of Greenland (60°N). Temperatures and vegetation are increasing.

On July 31st, we arrive at Ipiutaq, a very much expected stop! We meet again with our friends Ina (7), Agathe and Kalista. This little French-Greenlandic family is breeding sheeps and hosting guests in a magnificent environment. Life at the farm, great French-Greenlandic cuisine by Agathe, char fishing... the day is too short, we will come back!

We avoid the formidable Cape Farvel. About 100 km of fjords are allowing boats to sail from the West coast to the East coast of Greenland, between 1500 meters high mountains. We didn't know that route in 2003 (journey around the Arctic), and it was blocked by ice in 2011 (Brest - Grise Fiord), also we were looking forward to discover it. On August 3rd, we drop anchor for a few hours, then we exit the fjords when daylight is back.

Excesses and contrasts of the East coast, so wild: many glaciers and icebergs, a lot of snow (early August!), maps ten times less detailed and not accurate (up to one kilometre offset), strong contrary current (from the Arctic Ocean), numerous shallows demanding to slow down, no beacon, no village, nobody along more than 700 kilometres of coast... Only one boat seen, a tall ship, like coming from another time!

Six meters of swell is against us, stops are needed. Twice we find a fine enough shelter, time to stretch our legs waiting for better weather. Aurore and Leonie, well sea adapted, are enjoying the cruise: playing, listening to music or to stories, watching a cartoon (if not too much swell), reading, eating (often!), sleeping, watching the landscape and the animals. In the end, a long but nice 17 days voyage, more than 1400 milles (2600km) from Qikiqtarjuaq to Tasiilaq. On our arrival, the sea is calm (at last!), full moon and less dark night, right under the arctic circle.

On August 9th, we stop at 3 places heavy with memories. At Tasiilaq, at Peroni's, we get a rifle and the equipment for the geologists. Showers and store too. 3 hours later, at Kulusuk, Laurent Geoffroy and his team are boarding. At Sermiligaaq, we drop anchor for the night, and go ashore to find another rifle, this time a working one. We have not been here for 13 years, this region was our first destination in 2000 an 2001, already for Laurent Geoffroy's geological missions.

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Let's go! by France and Eric

  • Leonie observe morses
  • Ours temeraire

After having drifted back and forth in the middle of her ice floe, Vagabond is happy to sail free again. First stop, Tassialuit. We drop the anchor at the same place where was set up our tent last winter on the sea ice. Time to visit friends spending here the week end, time also to finish packing everything on board, and to watch from very close a bear swiming along our red hull!

Around midnight we start our journey again, while Léonie and Aurore fall asleep, rocked by the swell for the first time in ten months. Like every year, we have to sea adapt again, which is not so pleasant in heavy fog! The next day, we try to stop in a fjord but there is too much ice to drop the anchor. However, we enjoy a piece of ice accommodating some heavy and brown bulks: nine walruses nonchalant let us approach them, making worth the detour.

For our technical and resting stop, the last shelter before Greenland is near Cape Dyer. Here some people are welcoming us. Late visit of the Cape Dyer radar station (DEW Line). From a cliff we can see the heavy clouds running fast off the Cape. In order to wait for better weather we decide to go to the very end of the Sunneshine fjord, 18 nautical miles long!

The following day, we are heading East. Pilot whales and other whales are crossing our route. When reaching Greenland, full sail ahead, in the early morning, some whales are welcoming us, and we watch more of them all day long! We enjoy the quiet waters in between the many islands, all the way to Nuuk, the capital.

We stay 24 hours in Nuuk, efficient and nice stop, thanks to the coast-guards, our neighbours, and to Jean-François Pagès, French cook for 32 years in Greenland, very enthusiastic and happy!

Follow our trip here.

France Bleu Radio

Interview of Eric for Passeport pour l'aventure, by Christophe Artous and Patrice Dourlent. At 13:40 on France Bleu National Radio.

The program is also aired by: La Première de la RTBF (Belgium), on week-end at 7:38am; La Première de la RTS (Switzerland), every Saturday at 8:20am ; France Inter, daily at 5:45am from July 28th ; Mayotte 1ère, since June 16th.


  • Leonie et Aurore en traineau

For the last six days, our packice has been free. When waking up in the morning, we first wonder how far we have been drifting... Sometimes very close to town, or near an iceberg. Sometimes 6km further south. Sometimes back in Aningaatalik Bay. Still frozen in the middle of our big winter ice floe, we are drifting depending on currents and winds since the floe left her bay of origin.

A few visitors are coming alongside the ice edge, with their boats. And thanks to our dinghy, by pulling it on the ice up to the water, it is still possible for us to reach land.

On Saturday, Yves is coming to help me to realign the starboard engine (which was shaking terribly), and to change the fuel injection pump on the port engine. Here we go, Vagabond's both engines are running!

A lot of seals around, hunters are sharing their catch with us, dogs are enjoying it too. Those ones have been free since our ice floe started drifting. They are running around the huge ice raft, spotted with melt ponds.

This Tuesday, July 22nd, at 9am, we left our ice floe for good. Vagabond managed to break a channel in the melting ice, by going backward first, to get some speed, and little by little break the ice all the way to the open water.

After a diesel-gas-food-showers-laundry stop in Qikiqtarjuaq, we drop anchor for the night in the bay where we just spent nine and a half months. Time to pick up a camera that took a picture every hour since October 5th, then dive under the hull to check a probe and set up new propeller anodes (free diving because the regulator froze!), and we set sails to Greenland.

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