Three brothers for Christmas

  • Sapin Vagabond 2014
  • Retrouvailles musicales

Since the winter solstice, we are six on board Vagabond! The slow return of light is coinciding with the beginning of the games, in Qikiqtarjuaq. For ten days we are either in the village, with our Inuit friends, either aboard Vagabond, for family time. Shooting competition, spear throwing, slow snowmobile racing, hunting competition, team games or Christmas Mass in the gym-village-hall, music, frozen caribou, seal and clams feast... Decorating the boat, cooking, opening gifts, music and computer session, games with Pikuli's puppies, setting up swings, packing up snow along the hull (insulation), building up toilets (snow wall!), collecting ice at closest iceberg (freshwater)... life is good on the ice, with a beautiful gift this year: three brothers together for three weeks!

Upon returning from my mission in Antarctica (see photo album), I met up with Aurore, Leonie and France in Brittany for two short weeks in greenery! Mid-December, together with my brother François, we arrived in Quebec for a few days of meetings at Laval University, to work on a major scientific project scheduled from March to July 2015 with Takuvik. It was also the opportunity to visit the icebreaker Amundsen docked in Quebec! Sunday, a last plane took us back to Qikiqtarjuaq, where my brother Piem and our friends welcomed us warmly. Two snowmobiles and a lot of warm clothes were waiting for us to go to Vagabond, pack ice thickness was a little more than a foot. End of eight weeks solo experience for Piem, everyone happy to gather on board.

Happy Holidays to all!

Piculi, by piem

  • Piculi et ses boules de poil

The ice became thick enough to move around. It was time to invite the dogs. Piculi, who knew the boat already from last year, recently had two puppies. They are only fifteen days old.

In less than two hours, Yves built a doghouse to shelter those two little balls of fur. First, a detour via the dumpster of the village to recycle wood and insulation. Then to the workshop, for some woodworking.

Under agile hands, electric saw and hammer quickly transformed some old wood in a solid shed against cold and wind of the ice field.

I came back with three dogs on the snowmobile to install my new companions next to the boat. I was a bit afraid to leave my new neighbours outside at first.

But when the sky is clear, they already prefer to sleep outside to watch the northern lights, by -20ºC. Arctic dogs, without a doubt.

Walking on water, by piem

  • Tester la glace

That morning, it was tempting to go explore the ice a bit further. On the nearby peninsula, I could see some dogs. With the binoculars, I even thought I could see a group of three people. So despite the silence on the radio channel of the village, I headed off to cross the fjord by foot.

Three kilometres of suspense hiking on water, the ice pick in my hands to test the ice ahead of me. As I got closer, the human shapes I had seen on the peninsula became some old rusty remains again.

But the prints of dogs in the fresh snow were not lying: at least, they had made it through. I kept going.

About forty minutes later, I was at the village, moved and relieved to reach solid ground and civilisation.

A memorable evening at Yves and Céline's, with Anita, Andrew, and Mark, sharing good meals and playing music. I could not dream of a better way to break up with my solitude.

Voluntary prisoner

  • Premiers pas

It's here! The ice is here! The silence took the place of the sound of the waves. The calm the one of the swell. The blue became white.

This time, the boat heads in the right direction: northbound. The ice thickens, day by day. When the wind stops, I like to sit outside to listen to the silence. I can hear the seals scratching under this ice. A dog barking away in the village. My heart beat in my ears.

A few days back, I tried the moving experiment of crossing the rail. Climb down the steps. Put one foot on the fresh ice. Then another. Hands off... It holds!

The ice is now about twenty centimeters thick. I have installed the dinghy and folded open the ladder. My domain became suddenly bigger, and it's shyly that I start exploring the largest garden of the bay.

Soon, I should be able to walk across the three kilometers of the fjord and to join my neighbours, after more than two weeks enjoying alone the landscape around me.