Phoque curieux

'While going ashore to feed the dogs, a ringed seal came to visit me and went around the dinghy for a long time. Curious and playful, he came closer and closer, and even put his head on the edge of the small boat! Darkness is now coming before 3pm, and I'm getting a better idea of what will be 24 hours night. I understand that more and more, my world will be limited to the boat only... Yesterday, a full moon was showing the snowy mountains and Inglefield glacier. At 10pm, I climbed in the mast to enjoy the scene.' Michael


On 19th October, Vagabond was surrounded with new pancake ice. Michael saw the sun for the last time, polar night will last 4 months. The following day, a storm pushed Vagabond on shore: "Bad night. No good sleep. It was banging all the time... In the morning, the stem was on the beach, close to the dogs (they enjoy the show!). Bloody southerly wind. I tried pulling on ropes, but no chance to get out of there." wrote Michael. Finally, wind changed in the evening: "Gust at 70 km/h. The boat was listing with shocks on starboard. Suddenly, it was moving. GPS confirmed that Vagabond was not grounded anymore, and with the search light, I could see the shore going away slowly.". 2 days later, wind was up to 130 km/h, rear ropes broke, and Vagabond ran aground, again, heeled 15°. Happily, by phone yesterday, Michael told me that Vagabond was floating again!


"At least, the weather is good! I decide to move the dog houses closer to the boat, with the help of the dinghy pulled by the dogs, because I couldn't see them with the search light when it was snowing... Then I have to move ice blocks to secure them properly. Some of these blocks may weight up to 50 kilos... Later on, I'm happy to drink a soda outside, on the after deck, in the shimmering light (night is here at 5pm). No more ice around the boat, no wind, great peacefulness. This is too seldom here not to enjoy it..." Michael


A polar bear was resting near the dogs for about 3 hours when Michael decided to call me to have my opinion, before going ashore to feed them. Around me, in Dijon's auditorium, listening to me talking about pack ice, polar bear and rifle, people were looking stupefied! Then all went fine: he could take pictures of the animal from less than 40m, the dogs were fed and the polar bear was gone before night. Michael is still thinking about bringing the dogs closer to the boat, in order to be sure to hear them if they bark, especially if the wind is strong. Sea ice is slowly setting up, but dry suit is still necessary to go to shore.


France, Léonie and me are now in Dijon for 4 days, at the Adventure Film Festival, and Michael just sent us some news from his first days on board (in French only...).


Vagabond is ready for the winter, and everything has been explained for the last 4 days. Tomorrow, Sanna, Eeva, Ulli and me will walk from the East Coast towards civilization. Girls will go all the way to Longyearbyen, planning a 8 days trip, while Ulli and me will take the shortest route, to the mine of Svea, at 2 days from Vagabond. Michael Charavin will then be alone on board for over 2 months, there will be more about his adventures on this blog! We met in Kerguelen 12 years ago, and since then, he has been travelling and guiding in polar regions. He will discover polar night and he saw his first polar bear 2 days ago!