5 February 2007

Last Saturday afternoon we passed 85 degrees north, the last circle of latitude marked on our chart before the North Pole.

When plotting our position I had the impression of entering into a forbidden zone. This milestone is one that few vessels have passed before us, only ice breakers, Nansen on the Fram and the Russian vessel Sedov, and now Tara! And what a crossing of the line it was! Engulfed in the largest storm of the winter, with wind up to 60 knots from the south east, horizontal snow reducing visibility to nothing and the rigging on Tara resonating throughout the boat, we reached a speed of almost 1 knot. During the storm the barometer rose to 1040hpa with a rapid rise in temperature from -40˚C to -15˚C. For now our material on the ice has withstood the gale, the sea ice is strangely stable (touch wood) and Tara continues to perform admirably, still firmly wedged in the ice leaning 7 degrees to port side. Outside with the wind and mounting snow drifts we have been busy removing snow from the deck and around Tara. There is no possibility of undertaking CTD soundings or venturing very far from the boat in these conditions.