Sea ice is getting thicker, and visitors are more! Yesterday morning, a female polar bear had much to do to change her cub's mind approaching Vagabond. Finally, the cub got scared enough by Frost barking after him, not by the amazing chattering the female was doing with her jaw (she was ringed and had meet humans before...), while they were both at less than 5 meters from the boat. Yesterday evening, Frost was barking again after a big polar bear coming to us. We had to send a banger to discourage him a little more.
Pleasure to sleep under our starry veranda, and to stare at the moon who is eclipsing, happily for only few hours... The long night who is settling down is marvellous. Next sunrise will be on 14th of February 2005. This 28th of October is also the webmaster birthday (Piem!), and 5 years ago, Eric was buying Vagabond! Jin and Frost seem to enjoy their dog houses put on the sea ice this morning (12 cm thickness), and their role of polar bear barkers: two of them gave us a good show today, and they are now both sleeping at less than 100 meters of Vagabond. France
The sea ice thickness (less than 10cm) is now enough to walk on it. It was first a polar bear, yesterday, who has been testing it for us. Very close in front of us, he started walking quite confident, and then he was crawling when the sea ice became more fragile, until the surface broke up. Then he had to swim, and we even saw him going under water to keep going where he wanted. Great show that we followed from the inside of Vagabond. Ourself, we still use survival suits to walk on young sea ice! Eric
Weather has been calm for the last 3 days, sea is freezing slowly and fast ice is forming around Vagabond. We hope it will become soon thick enough to resist to the next gales, allowing us to go to shore more easily. Dogs are looking forward to get more space than on the deck! The weather station is set up and will record every 3 hours wind speed and direction, air pressure, humidity and temperature, until ice breaking up (June? July?). A picture of Vagabond's wintering location is online (see photo 64). Eric
According to the latest charts, the wintering location we chose was still covered by Inglefield glacier few years ago. In order to draw a more accurate chart of the bay, France and I sailed along the 4 km of the glacier front with our dinghy, using a GPS to record our track. Well protected in our survival suits, we were still keeping safely away from the glacier, ice fall happen regularly! Eric
«The North-West Passage with Vagabond» (52 minutes, Jacques Laine) will be presented at the Adventure Film Festival in Dijon.
The 2 dog houses for Jin and Frost are built and set up on the deck of Vagabond for now. Sea ice is not yet thick enough in the little bay we chose for wintering. Depending on wind, the bay is either filling up with small icebergs and brash from the glacier, either turning to free water. It was impossible today to go to shore (ice too thin) but we could watch a polar bear sleeping in a snowdrift, less than 100 metres from the boat. 2 other polar bears came by, without showing any interest to the amazing red boat... Great landscapes with this cold and dry weather. It was a pleasure to share our impressions this morning by phone with the public of the Adventure Film Festival in Dijon, where the film about our North-West Passage expedition was shown. A year ago, we were just finishing our circumpolar navigation! Eric
Since yesterday noon, Vagabond is at her wintering location. The very good shelter we found in an indentation of the moraine, in front of the glacier, is unexpected (77d53.13N - 18d15.83E). We sailed in between ice floes before anchoring in the middle of the very small bay, and there is already enough ice to walk to shore without getting one's feet wet! While settling down the dogs on the beach, a polar bear came as a welcoming committee. We thought he was a bit too curious, he finally went away for few hours, but came back to the dogs in the middle of the night. Their barking was enough then, we saw the polar bear continuing on his way, in the moonlight. This morning, we had to fire an alarm flare to help the dogs to scare him away (the same one?). Since then, he is on the next beach... South wind is now blowing, it's snowing, the temperature is increasing, and Jin and Frost are back on Vagabond's deck for the night, until better ice around Vagabond. Wintering here should not be boring! Eric
It is around midnight on 6th October that we sailed around South Cape, with a magnificent moonshine. The weather was very good and we reached the wide Kvalvagen Bay, surrounded with 2 large glaciers. Not a really good shelter to anchor, but we still spent the night in front of Cape Boltodden, rocked by the waves, warmly inside (-8 degrees outside), watching northern lights. This morning, the wind was too strong to sail the 25 nautical miles left to Inglefield Bay, so we dropped anchor half way, in front of the big glacier Richard. We had first to remove the 2 or 3 centimetres of ice recovering all front of Vagabond, from the freezing spray. We should arrive tomorrow at the chosen Bay for wintering... Eric
The film «The North-West Passage with Vagabond» (96 minutes, Jacques Laine) will be presented at the Toulon Film Festival.