Effets de la glace

A strange whistle in the fore part of Vagabond was intriguing us. Then we realised that the door of the battery compartment was not anymore rubbing on the floor, meaning that the volume of the tank underneath just decreased. The water left froze at the beginning of the winter, creating an overpressure in the tank, and a small leak suddenly allowed air to go out, simply whistling.

The stem lifted up more than 10 cm. Because of the storm blowing when our icepack was created, early November, we could not get the anchor back. Tension in the chain was increasing, and we were getting worried about it, also we felt like we should loosen some chain. Surprisingly, Vagabond lifted up in her icy cradle, it was time to act! This is because the icepack is sinking gradually, under the weight of the snow, pulling down our chain trapped in ice. About the anchor at the end of the chain, we will see what will happen when pack ice will break up...

When snowing, temperature is increasing, and ice accumulated around every windows (34 total!) start melting. It is then time to remove this ice, before flooding on board. This is what we just have been doing for a while, back from our longest trip (5 hours on skis to do a hydrological survey off the entrance of Inglefield Bay).


Last night, the show was great. Curtains of light, green with sometimes a red border, light beams crossing the sky quickly, night version of rainbows, projectors ballet above Vagabond's mast, the forgotten landscape was suddenly revealed by wonderful northern lights. We were not feeling anymore the -22 degrees, temperature after all very bearable.


Every 2 days, except if a storm is keeping us inside the boat, we are using the CTD instrument in Inglefield Bay to measure the salinity and the temperature of the sea water depending on depth. We are doing better and better, and each trip looks like a small expedition! First we have to load all the equipment in the sledge, without forgetting the 'safety' case and the gun, to harness the dogs, and then one is breaking the trail in the light of his cap lamp, while the other is pulling the sledge helped by the dogs. Depending on weather conditions, we are going more or less towards the middle of the bay. At chosen location, we then have to shovel up the snow from the ice pack, drill a hole with the ice hand drill, set up the stand with the winch, get down the weight only to check the depth, finally plunge the CTD going up and down twice to guarantee good results. We must not waste any time till this point because the CTD would freeze and would not record anything! Then, a 'homemade' height gauge allows us to know the sea ice thickness (1m today), and the GPS records the precise position of the hydrological survey. The trip back is always quicker, the dogs know very well where are their food...


Around noon today, the sky was clear, we were feeling the sun coming back. It is only after one and a half month that he will appear at the horizon. For now, we still need the cap lights to move around on the icepack! Cold is back (-25) and northern lights are superb.

Bonne Annee !

The friends list would be too long: the wonderful table we had last night was only prepared with gifts (including chocolates, wines, candles, plates...)! Thank you very much to you all for having shared our unusual New Year's Eve.


Amazing weather. December has been unusually warm, and we had a lot of snow. South wind is now bringing a very wet snow (-2). By the way, two days ago, in the package, there were some slippers! Incredible logistics. It will be more comfortable to watch the polar bears and the sun when they will come back next year.


While we were on our way back, after our oceanographic trip in the middle of Inglefield Bay, here was a helicopter who came and flew above us, a strange and unexpected civilised noise. Just about time to reach Vagabond, with the CTD and all the equipment, pulled by the dogs, and we saw a spectacular delivery! The pilot didn't want to land on pack ice, hidden below a thick layer of snow, and brought us quickly the package, crossing the huge cloud of snow created by the rotor still running.

Bon Noel a tous !

Wind has been blowing for the last 3 days, the thermometer was showing about zero yesterday even though it was -26 the day before, what a season! The moon light is going a little through the clouds, we are hoping a nice moon shine for the Christmas Eve...

Sur un air de saison bien connu...

It is winter solstice. To celebrate the middle of the polar night, storm is raging again, Vagabond is enveloped in a huge snow flurry. The calm moment only last one day, this was when the helicopter, the 5 crew members, and the 3 Governor's representatives brought us their good wishes, their arms were loaded with many presents (see the picture!). The moon was shining (exactly behind the helicopter!), we could see again the landscape which has been hidden for a long time.

Here is what was read and written on 20th December in our Guest Book: "The Governor of Svalbard and Airlift wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. You are representatives of a new tradition of explorers staying in the polar night in a boat frozen in ice. It is an environmental friendly activity and an important contribution to the tradition of over wintering at Svalbard."

Our best thanks to everyone for all these wonderful attentions.

Advice to children: if the quantity of present is proportional to the size of shoes, you should try the snow shoes!