Around 3:00 pm today, suddenly in the sky, a powerful light coming towards us! Soon we can hear the noise of the helicopter landing on the shore nearby Vagabond. The 2 pilots and the secretary of Airlift are bringing coffee and chocolate, this is only a training flight. Next time, if we need anything, we must not hesitate to ask, now they have our exact position! The nice break doesn't last long, back to our wintering after this totally unexpected visit.
In the semi-darkness, it is hard to see the difference between a shadow, an ice block, a moraine's relief or a polar bear... But less visitors for the last few days.
The new procedure for sending your SMS is working! Thanks a lot for all your warm thoughts.
Here we are, ice pack thickness is more than 30 cm, and is now resisting to strong winds. Dogs have been on ice for 3 days, and we are getting use to our new space, huge, perfectly flat and immaculate, except many polar bear prints and few polar fox prints. Safety and various equipment are gradually placed on ice, and we have more room on Vagabond's deck. With the midday soft light today, we walked with the dogs almost to the glacier front, where we were sailing with the dinghy last month. Amazing!
NB: SMS have not been well received for the last 5 days, end is systematically missing, please start your message with signature.
Sea ice seems to resist to gale now, but the dog houses didn't stay on ice more than few hours. After enjoying a calm moment running a bit with the dogs, and scaring away a polar bear even before seeing him in the semi-darkness, Jin and Frost went back on board last night, another gale is blowing.
Bad radio propagation, daily weather reports to Longyearbyen station are difficult, but wonderful northern lights have been illuminating the clear sky for the last 3 days. Young ice is already 18 cm thick within less than 2 days.
Strong winds are still blowing, 3 days now, barometer dropped down to 968 mb yesterday. Temperature is about -15 C, but wind over 100km/h are not included in our Wind Chill Factor tables. Equivalent temperature is probably around -50 C. Depending on wind direction, ice is pushed away or forming and getting thicker very quickly. This is not disturbing our dogs, staying out of their dog houses very often, neither the polar bears, as we can see them sometimes in the night passing close to boat. Let's hope for a better weather for the 20 skippers of the Vendee Globe sailing race, we listen to the departure yesterday on RFI radio.
Wind was up to 60 knots this morning, whistling in the rigging, a snowstorm also. The young sea ice broke up and is packed in the small bay. There is less than 50 cm of water under the boat, as we are pushed close to the shore. While taking the daily picture, the wind blew France's chapka away. She pulled on her dry suit to go and get it on the pack ice, and didn't see a polar bear about to follow her when she was coming back to the boat without worrying, her hat in her hand. A signal flare was not enough to really scare him away, and he is now sleeping on a nearby ice floe. Hopefully, Jin and Frost are watching over in the semi-darkness!
Thanks a lot for all your SMS messages, we really enjoy reading them.
«The North-West Passage with Vagabond» (52 minutes, Jacques Laine) will be presented at the Film Festival of Nice.
New sea ice is back around us, thickness is more than 10cm within less than 2 days. We had to scare away a young polar bear with a banger, then he disturbed another bear sleeping not far from us. Fascinating meeting, not a too violent fight, the 2 animals standing were wonderful. Having lunch at home and watching such a show by the window, it's our American dream!
A gale is finishing, our sea ice is gone. Our little bay is now all open water. During the night from 30th to 31st October, we brought back on board the 2 dog houses and their owners, just on time. Long cracks were already going across the sea ice we thought strong enough to resist to the winds!