Saturday, May 05, 2007
Warmly welcomed onboard Vagabond!
Skiing down towards the East coast on the long glacier of Inglefieldbreen, my heart started beating stronger. No need of a map or a GPS, my skis knew where to go, I felt like coming home.
We were just a few kilometers away from our 2nd resupply point and a place of very special importance to me: the French polar yacht Vagabond.
Contourning the last hills of the moraines and skiing along the glacier front - the blue stripe of happiness as Ulli calls it - it finally appeared , red haul, tall mast, proudly standing in a small sheltered bay: Vagabond - the only inhabited location on the wild east coast of Spitsbergen.
Eric & France, the skippers are the new generation of polar explorers! Recently, they circum-navigated the Arctic ocean; with the help of friends they sailed along the North-East passage (Siberian coast) and the next summer they came back home via the North-West passage (Canadian and Alaskan Arctic).
They will tell you about this trip as a pleasant and enjoyable journey but one has to keep in mind that they were the first ones ever to complete such a challenge on a sailing boat!
Vagabond is now over-wintering in Inglefieldbukta, where Eric & France are offering a basecamp and logistical help to scientists willing to explore the area.
One of the main projects concerns oceanography and aims at understanding the formation of brines (dense salty-cold water) in the nearby Storfjorden which is then influencing global ocean circulation.
Warmly welcomed onboard, we spent a cozy day resting, talking and enjoying the visit of a polar bear.
I am extremely grateful to Eric, France and Léonie for their hospitality! This is my 4th stay on Vagabond and it is a place where I learned a lot about adventure, life in the Arctic, enjoying the environment in company of Eric and France.
That is why it was great for me to be able to come back to this very special place. This bay feels a bit like home!
I think this is what our trip is about: Spitsbergen has been our home for a year or more (and still is for some of us) and we are simply enjoying a walk in the backyard!