June 23rd. Vagabond is gliding on a sea like a mirror, until her stem slowly climbs on pack ice. Three Greenlanders are approaching by dog-sled. They accept my invitation: they tie their dogs to the boat and they come on board. Nuussuaq is five kilometres away, and pack ice is fragile with many holes at this time of the year. Snowmobiles are resting until next winter. Dogs are the safest solution to go from the village to the open sea, before the complete breaking up. Now, six people are arriving by motor boat. While speeding up his powerful outboard engine, the pilot is handling his mobile phone with his gloves made from polar bear skin. Then, everybody is coming on board to visit Vagabond, before going to the village. Two dog teams are pulling, on ice, the motor boat, two sleds, and about ten people waving at us happily. In the background are snowy mountains and sunny ice cap. The scene could be from another time.
Documentary by Rémy Marion and Katia Quéméré for France 2 TV on June 25th, 14:50.
Again, Vagabond is moored to an ice block and is drifting with pack ice (0,4 knots to the North!). This time, there is not enough open water to sail ahead, so we wait. Wind, current and thaw are changing tirelessly the scenery, a way can open any time. Two days ago, for summer solstice, despite the sun still high at midnight, and a sea like a mirror, it was fog that made us look for a place to stop for the "night". No need to keep going if we cannot see properly the animals (seals, whales, many birds, still no walrus...)! So everybody enjoyed walking on pack ice after several days wandering between ice floes without disembarking.
Article by Stéphane Jézéquel in Le Télégramme on 21 June 2011.
An ice strip about two kilometres wide was on our way, on June 17th. It was time for the new crew to learn about sailing in pack ice, using the crow's nest and ice poles. Then, it was open water up to Uummannaq. Long detour for a short stop to get more details about walruses in the area, and about ice situation. I was also the opportunity to have a quick look at a place where Vagabond could spend some time for another project (2012-2014...). Peter, black halibut fisherman, immediately invited us at home to answer all our questions. No doubt, we must reach the ice edge, further North, to find walruses.
On June 16th, Vagabond crossed Disko Bay and stopped at Qeqertarsuaq. There we met Mads Fage, he has been watching and recording whales for years, with his partner Outi Tervo who Isabelle knows pretty well! So we have plenty of things to ask and share. Outi has just left for a "whale" cruise, heading North as well. But already from the village, France, Léonie and Aurore could watch two whales, between icebergs slowly drifting along the coast.
Story by Léa and Vincent, crew members.
Luckily, current is going our way to sail down the long Kangerlussuaq fjord, and Vagabond is quite quickly back to Davis Strait. Stop at Sisimiut yesterday morning, to gather information on animals seen in the area, on ice and on weather forecast. It seems that we should start searching for walruses at the ice edge north of Disko Bay.
June 13th, Vagabond is at the appointment to welcome the team "walrus". Just above the polar circle, at the end of a magnificent fjord long of 170 km, is the main airport of Greenland. Scientists Isabelle Charrier and Thierry Aubin are joining us for one month, in order to record walruses. A project supported by Institute Paul-Emile Victor and by National Geographic. Charlotte Blan and Nicolas Gilbert arrived with them, sent by Océanopolis (Brest), to make a film about the expedition.
It is also here that Carlos and Piem are leaving us. Carlos will be back in Tunisia in a few days, to serve fine cuisine to the French Ambassador's guests. While my dear little brother Piem is starting a new life: only with his backpack, carefully prepared, he has ahead of him the easiest but also most difficult trip. For many months or years, without planned route neither agenda, and with a minimum budget. He is first thinking about a one week trek... if mosquitoes are OK. Then, he would be looking for a boat to go to North America. I'm pretty move leaving my best homeless, and I suddenly find Vagabond quite heavy, complicated, safe and comfortable.
Ice were about to keep Vagabond near Narsaq, we had to work hard to find our way out of the fjords! So much that we broke our sonar. Then, it was open water all the way up to Nuuk, where we spent two days near the yacht of a little Austrian family about to attempt the North-West Passage. On June 9th morning, a short while after our arrival, the French Ambassador came to visit us to invite the entire crew to French Days in Nuuk. This was absolutely not expected, and we were very glad to meet again with Max Audibert, Jean-Christophe Victor, Henriette Rasmussen, Pierre Tavernier... around a nice buffet with French cheese and wine! The following day, Max came for a little party on board, as we were happy being together again (we met in 2000 on the East Coast), also to say goodbye to our team mates Léa and Vincent (now going surfing in Iceland), and for my birthday. For Léonie and Aurore, the best moment of our stop in Nuuk was at the swimming pool. It could be more than a year before we will see again a real city.