8 September 2006
Last night, as we enjoyed an aperitif on the sea ice under a sunlit blue sky, we were all faced with the cold reality that tomorrow a helicopter will arrive to collect most of our friends and leave only us, the team of eight for the winter. After bad weather and poor flying conditions the skies parted for our farewell celebration and the arrival of two Russian MI-8 helicopters.
At 1pm local time today the two massive flying busses descended cautiously onto our block of ice, testing the landing zone with some rigorous bouncing before shutting done. An hour and a half later, after refueling and frenetic photo activity, we were waving our final farewells. However, the day also involved warm welcomes to the Tara team with the arrival of our two Russian crew members. Gamet, who we last saw in France during the preparation of Tara, and Victor, our radio technician.
Tonight we are eight around the table, a small family by comparison to the last few months of preparation and navigation. The feeling is more than a little bizarre and somehow empty, however one cannot help but think of the positive side, a smaller mountain of dishes to wash each evening! As we embark on this fantastic adventure we are only too aware of the extended expedition team following our exploits and thankful to everyone who has helped to make it possible.