Our careful and informed readers didn't miss the mistake that took place in our last post, the crew passing from 148 to 149, and not from 177 to 178. Meanwhile work is going on, the dinghy passes by the glacier, and one member of the crew had a bath, taking benefit of the ambient warmth, unless it was the opposite. A strange animal has been seen on the weather mast, anyone having information about this strange specie is welcomed to share it. (Soifran)
Though the icefield is almost broken enough to let us sail, we are still forced to stay, a couple of things to set up on board before the departure, and also and mostly two ropes tightly caught in the ice. Today's main task was to carry some black sand to help the ice melting along the ropes. Meanwhile, in the midnight sun, the captain still has the same age, but the one of the crew passes from 177 to 178. Vagabond is not heavier. Please just let us sail. (Soifran)
The icefield surrounding us is still melting down, and we spent part of the day loosing the ropes that tight the boat to the coast, freeing them from the ice when it was possible. Meanwhile an intense activity was occuring around us; a young polar bear caught a seal, but an older male took him his prey. A third one joined them, offering us the strongest's law ballet. Later, after having watched a couple of pictures, a bear -one of the three fore mentioned?- visited us, having a rest on the ice, close to the boat. He gave in to curiosity and came at less than 3 meters from us! Even so, we had to through a banger to dissuade him from settling down for the night along the hull. Just when Eric and France were telling us that the bears were pretty shy this year. (Soifran et Eric)
The icefield shrinks every day. More and more animals are visible, and we are at a very nice observation place to watch the different species inhabiting in Svalbard at this season. Eiders, black guillemots, arctic sterns, ivory gulls, polar bears, narwhals, ringed seals and white whales showed their nose (or back) during this day, letting us thinking about the importance of biodiversity. (Soifran)
Those days the small team has intense outdoor activities. Making some huge barbecues with the former dog's huts, pack an enormous tent weighting more than three hundred kilos, hike around to enjoy the view and check the ice state are some of the activities of the Inglefield summer camp. One leitmotiv: let the zone as clean as possible. (Soifran)
Arrived 72 hours ago, accompanying France and Léonie to their summer estate, Paul-Mathieu and François, a.k.a Piem and Soifran, are enjoying the time before the ice breaking-up, spending some time with their brother Eric and his family. The landscape is gorgeous and the weather sweet, helping activities around the boat, such as unmounting scientific hardware, fill water tanks or just hiking around the boat. Polar bears, numerous at this time of the year, are staying reasonably far away, more interested in seals than in activities occuring around the boat. Léonie is very helpful to fill the water tanks. (Soifran)
Once in a while, a polar bear is getting closer to Vagabond, but none of them has been too curious so far. Dogs don't need to bark long, and I am using neither banger nor flare. The animal that passed near the radiometers was even careful enough not to step right under the sensors, measurements were not disturbed! I've been alone for one month, and I'm glad to welcome France and Léonie tomorrow, as well as my brothers Piem and François. Extra people to pack camp and to take to the sea again! But the helicopter will take away our dogs, Jin, Frost and Imiaq, towards their new home, and the camp will suddenly appear much empty without our companions, faithful for 5 years.
In Inglefield bay, pack ice started to break up on 25th June, 8 days earlier than last year. Vagabond is only at 1 km from open water! On the few square kilometres of sea ice left, dozens of seals have been sunbathing all week-end long. Yesterday evening, I was watching a big polar bear eating one of them, while another bear was still hunting a little further. My field for work and trips is reducing fast, and thaw is offering a moraine more and more muddy, as shown on pictures taken from the roof of the cabin at 8pm every day.
While the fifth and last wintering of Vagabond in Inglefield Bay will be soon finished, Sailing News is coming with the series "Vagabond, day after day". The first episode is online since yesterday : http://www.sailingnews.tv/index.php?stream_playlist=3885#.
The fifth and last wintering of Vagabond, to relive every week on Sailing News, in 13 episodes.