Under the weight of the snow, the ice field is sinking slowly, sea water is coming over the ice and seeping into the snow. If the cold is not enough to freeze this water, then we find water under the snow. Quite common in this season. So yesterday I had to rescue the snowmobile, parked on a 83cm thick ice field, all covered with 50cm of snow, including 13cm of slush. Without doing anything, the cold would have trapped the snowmobile in ice! 2 hours of work, it finally went out of this very cold swimming pool, and then I was gone. Impossible to stop anywhere, I could get stuck again in the slush, so I was driving around the boat until I chose a high snowdrift on top of which the snowmobile will be dry for some time. With all the noise that can make such a machine, my 3 faithful cow-boys (I should write bear-dogs) probably believed Indians were attacking.
Eric and France on Radio France Internationale, interviewed by Arielle Cassim.
The barometer has been rising up to 1029 mb, but the good weather never came. For the last few days, the air masses are transported across a long strait of open water, picking up moist air on the way, and bringing clouds with many snow falls. Under the wind pressure, Vagabond is tilting up to 5 degrees sometimes, now I have to use the anti-slippery sets we normally use when sailing! Our old wind generator is happy and can supply few lights, radio, CD player or computer... waiting for calm weather before going out again. Tomorrow at 12:40 pm on Radio France Internationale, you could listen to an interview from France and me, last time we met Arielle Cassim at Paris Boat Show.
Polar bears like very much bamboo, they are probably adapting themselves quickly to the global warming! Once more, a polar bear ate few bamboo sticks showing for instance where is the Black Iceberg, or where are the moorings on land, used before the sea ice formation. The fifth visitor within 4 days stayed around for about 5 hours this morning, but didn't insist when he received a nice red flare.
According to Torgeir, weather man in Longyearbyen, "we reached the highest January temperature since the airport was built (30 years ago), as the thermometer reached +7,7 degrees on Monday in Longyearbyen (+3 degrees at Vagabond). It is a little funny to compare with the normal temperature in July, which is +5,9 degrees..."
It was a nice show this morning. Warned by Imiaq barking, I could watch a female polar bear and her cub, coming slowly towards us. They didn't like the search light, the female was already going away, followed by her cub jumping around. They just forgot to stand for a picture.
France participating to Ouest-France - Odyssee Siberienne Jury, electing the best environment charter, written by children.
Lows are following each other, barometer and thermometer are going up and down, but between 2 snow squalls, the moon is serenely coming to light. Then I must get the chance for a walk with the dogs, for instance to look for the close icebergs trapped in sea ice, like Vagabond. They are replacing the ones from last winter, gone drifting away during the summer time, and are sometimes used as a rest place by polar bears. Or as an ice climbing site by 4 Gallic in need for exercise, as shown by this victory marker left at the top of the Black Iceberg by the previous crew. From the boat, I can hear the swell, open water is only few kilometers away. Waves, despite the 80 cm of ice pack covering Inglefield Bay, are reaching the hull which is moving and bumping gently in her ice bed. On board, the small technical problems are finding their solutions, inventories are about to be finished, already one week I'm back on board...
General Status of Eploration, at Hotel Scam, 5 avenue Velasquez, 75008 Paris. Presentation of the film "Vagabond, wintering in Spitsbergen" (13 min), an introduction to the debate "Exploration: ethics and financing"
Talk at Gerrards Cross sailing association: "Circumnavigating the Arctic", by France Pinczon du Sel.