One of the Argos beacon is at 19 km South-East of Vagabond, the other one is at 32 km South. But pack ice is not thick enough yet for snowmobiles, and a new low is passing now... Before that, Léonie (1 month) did her first dog sledge trip on sea ice!
A large part of pack ice has been blown away during last storm. With this, all instruments deployed the day before! All crew is impressed by such a quick change: from the end of the moraine, we could watch yesterday the big red buoy on top of the main mooring, drifting on a big ice floe, not far from 2 polar bears walking peacefully on the nearby ice floe. Today, the sea is blue, pack ice is visible at the horizon, and satellites are telling us that instruments already travelled more than 10 kilometres to the South or to the East... Cold is back, sea is freezing again fast, but will we be able to recover all instruments?
The Magi arrived on board, with an impressive and unexpected load! Thanks to all Léonie's polar uncles! The scientific mission is going well, and compromise cleverly with the film crew and our training as parents... a very busy start of life for Léonie, who is adapting quite well to life on board Vagabond.
The second research team (Hervé, Tonio and Antoine) arrived 3 days ago. Objectives of Icedyn project: to quantify heat exchange between ocean and atmosphere, trough sea ice. Ice-T is back, the experimental instrument tested last year with success at Vagabond. Between 2 lows, it was possible yesterday to deploy part of the instruments on the ice in Storfjord. This morning, a polar bear was checking the currentmeter still in the camp for some maintenance, and since it is working fine again! Waiting for better weather and mainly lower temperatures (+5°C last night!) to work safely on pack ice, the film crew is more looking at life on board. The scientists didn't come alone, Sandra was chosen to discover the project and its environment, while Nicolas and Alexandre are making a film for Arte (see www.gedeonprogrammes.com, expeditions).
It was still blowing a lot this morning, and temperature went down to -20°C (equivalent to -50°C during gusts). Despite a clear sky yesterday, the 3 scientists had to turn back to Longyearbyen half way, because of blowing snow and snow drifts. The 4 skiers having problems in the storm, not far from Vagabond, could finally be rescue by helicopter. On my side, although I've been alone for a while because of the bad weather, days were passing quietly, taking care of the dogs and the boat... until the helicopter came today around 2pm, with my little family! Thanks a lot to the Governor of Svalbard for the air transportation. Léonie will be 3 weeks old tomorrow, on board with her 2 happy parents. A quick phone call to reassure her grand-mother, having her birthday in the heat in Barcelona, at uncle Piem-the-webmaster's! About the 3 scientists, after a difficult trip, they arrived tonight.
France and Léonie are still in Longyearbyen, standing by because of a storm, like the team from the Norwegian Polar Institute that was suppose to come today. Alone on board, surrounded by snow flurries and wind howling, I enjoy the heat from the stove to do all kind of things inside. How will be the ice pack after this? Will we be able to work as planned?
Long day of measurements on sea ice yesterday, with the electromagnetic icemeter for thickness (70cm average), and with the CTD for water salinity and temperature. But the last storm has broken up the ice in Storfjord, and I had to stay in Inglefield Bay. Wonderful weather this morning, thermometer dropped down from -5 to -20°C, which should allow pack ice to strengthen.
Vagabond is now ready to welcome France and Léonie (may be today), and the teams that will be linked together until early May!
Back to Inglefieldbukta by snowmobile, last Saturday, with 3 drivers to join me. A nice trip although visibility was quite poor sometimes. Not long before arriving at Vagabond, we could see a polar bear in the distance, on a very thin sea ice that pushed us to quickly drive back to land! Warm evening with the whole crew, then the next morning, Sanja and Mathieu left on skis to Longyearbyen, while Eike and her 2 team members got on their snowmobiles. I'm now looking forward for our little family to gather on board, may be before welcoming the first scientists!
France, Léonie (born in Tromso on last 27 February) and I are in Longyearbyen since Sunday night. I'm getting ready to go back to Vagabond with snowmobile, France and Léonie will fly there when there will be any opportunity. Today is the Women's day and the sun is back in Longyearbyen after the long polar night. 2 very appropriate events for us!
Some news from the boat: "Today we went to the new ice that built up after the sea ice outside the bay cracked two times during the last week during strong winds. We were very curious to see how the ice differed on the surface because we could see the different colours of the ice from the moraine during the last days. To this occasion we finally took out our fresh longjohns and enjoyed the rare feeling of fresh and clean clothes on the skin. Amazing how special that feeling gets living in a place where it is not easy to wash clothes. After a first little fight between the dogs (no serious injuries) since Eike came we hope they understood that this is not allowed. It is incredible that we never saw Imiaq as satisfied with himself and the world as today after the fight before - even with a little hole in his foot and a lot of being told of by us. To compensate for that we had ginger bread as desert yesterday made in a pan and now a new load is in the oven. The doe survived sin ce Christmas, flew here with a helicopter and now is the right time for eating it we decided. Yesterday, after a deliberate cleaning morning, we went downhill skiing close to the glacier front and found out that the dogs just can't manage with us without sled! Sanja found the very fitting comparison with a group of lost chickens. We spent a lot of time trying to convince them not to sit or walk on our skis but to find their own way or at least leave us room to move. We got some funny moment with one of us lying in the snow, dog over, under and between the legs and the poles, ropes, rifles and skis in between. Sanja and Eike."