Final hours in Greenland

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

7 August 2015

Mesters Vig, Monday, August 6.

8am – The Tara-Ecopolaris mission is coming to an end.  All hands on deck now. No time to hang about, we have to empty the boat’s holds and load half a ton of equipment into the two zodiac dinghies. Food, gas cans, batteries… All the equipment that GREA (Arctic Ecology Research Group) will need for the next three years of ornithological missions will be carefully stored here. The sailors are busy offloading the canisters that have adorned the deck since the schooner departed from Lorient.

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

9:30am – Four crew members, already on land, wait on the dusty runway of this Danish military base for the plane that shuttles between Greenland and Iceland. The small plane will first make a stop at Constable Pynt before dropping off this group of Taranauts in Reykjavík. Among them are Christophe Cousin and Fitzgérald Jégo, the Thalassa film crew who’ve been following the mission for the last 15 days. We’re already missing their sense of humor. The scientist Gabriel Gorsky, nicknamed ‘Gaby’ and Romain Troublé, secretary general, are also leaving the boat. Gaby never finds it easy disembarking from Tara. The director of the Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer admits that he feels sad each time he leaves Tara.

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

3pm – On land, Olivier Gilg and Brigitte Sabard receive a helping hand from Kim Hansen, the military commander of the base. He has generously put a 4by4 at their disposal, enabling them to transfer their equipment from the port to a cabin which will serve as a depot. We have to clear everything away now and leave nothing to chance before departing. On board, the messroom has become a shelter as the warming sun’s rays shine through the protective bubble-like windows, and a delicious smell of chocolate emanates from the kitchen. Dominique ‘Do’, our wiz of a cook, is busy making dinner. On the menu tonight: bagel with salmon, cabbage & grapefruit salad, and chocolate birthday cake decorated with raspberries.

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

4pm – In the rear hold, Daniel Cron the chief engineer is busy at work: he has to change a cooling pump before departing tomorrow. The young man is patient and persistent: he’s been working on this part for several hours. The sound of his voice reaches us in the messroom, “Who’s the boss?” Intrigued by the commotion, we peer through the doorway leading to the workshop below, where a grinning Daniel can be heard exclaiming, “That’s what I like about this job – it requires a certain attention to detail!”

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

7pm – Everybody on the team is present; it’s time to relax now. Tomorrow the GREA members will conduct their last sampling day on this 2015 campaign. It’s already time to leave Greenland. A new crossing to Iceland awaits the Taranauts, and the maps are indicating a difficult passage through sheets of ice.

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

Noëlie Pansiot

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