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!
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.
Vagabond's track is here. More news soon!
Broadcasting the film Sur le grand océan blanc at 3am.
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!
Nunavut Day: tea, fish and seal stew smoked on heather fire, fishing competition, traditional clothing contest, various skill games...
Yesterday, a chopper visited us, the pilots landed on the ice not far from Vagabond. They worked for a documentary film about the Arctic, led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who stopped in Qik the day before.
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.