Across the Arctic Ocean

© D.Bourget / Fondation Tara Expéditions

13 November 2006

68th day of drift.
 Position: 82°44’N, 138°00’E
 Course and Speed: E, 0.7 knots
 Wind: W, 30 knots
 Sea Ice: Slight movement, new open leads
 Visibility: Poor, blowing snow
 Air Temperature: -19°C
 Water Temperature: -1.5°C

 All sailors constantly analyse the weather and environmental conditions to make decisions about what the next move will be, to fine tune boat performance and navigate safely. With modern technology we have satellite weather maps and detailed prognostic information at our fingertips to aid with these decisions. However, often the best information is real time on the ground observation of wind direction and strength, barometric pressure, temperature and cloud formations and developing a skill for analysis and prediction. While our current slow passage across the Arctic Ocean is hard to compare with a classic trans-Atlantic or tour of the Pacific, we make similar observations to guide our activities.

 This weekend we completed what is becoming a regular cycle for us, reinstalling scientific material on the ice after recovering it a week ago due to ice movement. After judging conditions stable we have placed the radiometer, tiltmeter, micro-CTD and acoustic float on ice floes near Tara. With some chance we hope that we will be able to leave them in place longer this time as winter takes hold and the ice stabilises. However, as I type these words, like a self fulfilling prophecy the ice has just fractured again! A small river a few meters wide has opened up on our port side between the boat, the toilet and our instruments. This is not a big problem at this stage but a situation that we will have to watch closely and proof again that we cannot foresee all that Mother Nature sends our way.