Today for the first time, Michael measured the pack ice thickness, few meters from the boat: 8 small centimetres. Surrounded with ice, Vagabond was moving under the strong gust. "I hope the wind will not increase, and that pack ice will resist!". But at 5pm, sea ice was breaking up...
Vagabond moved a few meters away, she is not grounding and listing any more. Sea ice is setting up, at least. Michael is telling us about 15th November evening: "8pm. Dark night. No wind at all. I'm sitting in the saloon watching a film. Suddenly Imiaq is barking loudly. I know what it means. Search light... He is here, at 5 meters from me, on the new ice. He was probably next to the boat... He looks at me. He doesn't like the light, but he is not really scared. Again, I can see the very long hairs covering his feet. He shows his black tongue at times... The polar bear is walking now, following the boat: swaggering, slow steps, opening his feet to spread his weight on ice not to go through. Perfect control. Magic moments. Which are reminding me why I'm here."
Circumpolaris presented in Le Telegramme.
With westerly winds, it's been colder for the last 36 hours and sea is freezing. The boat has been pushed close to shore, and at low tide, she is grounding, listing 6 or 7 degrees... If the situation does not change, Michael will try to pull on the south rope to go back to the middle of the little bay. "But with so much ice around, I'm not sure to succeed...", he is telling us. In the meanwhile, he has to run the generator at high tide only, and if the sea is finally freezing, it could be a recurrent problem...
From Ny-Alesund where he is working for IPEV, Alan is telling in his blog about Vagabond's stop last September.
While a polar bear was visiting Michael, yesterday afternoon not far from Vagabond, France and I were encouraging Bilou (Roland Jourdain) who was starting the Barcelona World Race. With his team mate Jean-Luc Nélias, they are racing around the world non stop, they should be back in Barcelona after 3 months. Their red hull will go around the Antarctic as fast as possible, while Vagabond's red hull will stay still in the heart of the Arctic. We will share with you our next letters with Bilou, to exchange our stories about Great North and Great South. The International Polar Year is focusing on these regions, fragile and of a foremost importance for global warming. Follow Bilou.
Michael didn't see any polar bear for a while, and now, there would not be enough light to take pictures. Dogs are back on shore. Still no ice, and it was even raining 2 days ago! The weather is bad, but no strong wind like 2 weeks ago. So ropes are quiet at the moment and water is deep enough under the hull. Michael is trying to enjoy the 4 or 5 hours of twilight every day, "strange experience" he says.
Circumpolaris presented in Weekly Letter of Professional Media in Brittany.