Getting ready to sail again


31 July 2013

It wasn’t easy for people and luggage to reach Dudinka, Russia. Delays, an unexpected stop in Moscow – unforeseen incidents give charm to travel but complicate the changeover between 2 crews. In any case, on Thursday the scientific schooner will set out to sea again, headed for the Franz Joseph archipelago. On board, the new team is busy making final preparations before departure.

Some people are leaving, others coming aboard. It’s the usual routine for Tara’s stopovers, but we still can’t get used to it. With a twinge of sadness, we watch our 7 fellow travelers leave the ship at 5:30 am. Last night the temperature in Dudinka dropped, but even so, our goodbyes on the dock are very warm. Certain lucky people talk about seeing each other on board again; others promise to write. Suddenly, the boat seems very calm, even deserted. We take the opportunity to relax a little. Suddenly, laughter echoes in the main cabin – a familiar laugh. No doubt about it – “captain Vallette”* is back on board! Despite the vicissitudes of travel, the new team has finally arrived and our rest period is very short.

While some settle into their cabins and get their bearings on board, others take care of the supply of water, diesel fuel and food for the months of expedition to come. It’s amusing to observe our sailors trying to make themselves understood by the Russians they encounter. With the driver of the freshwater cistern truck, Yohann Mucherie, the chief engineer, opts for drawings. We need 2 water deliveries for July 31. In jest, we envision the arrival of 31 water trucks on July 2! As for Celine the cook, she seeks the help of Sergei, the Russian scientist aboard, to place an order at the corner supermarket. Dudinka gets its food supply via the river. Ships depart from Krasnoyarsk with their holds full, and sell their wares all along the Yenisei River. But no ship will arrive before our departure, so there will be no fresh eggs. We’ll just have to do without them. We’ve been so spoiled with fruits and vegetables, there’s no reason to complain. One thing is certain, we won’t get scurvy*!

In the front hold, amidst stocks of fresh produce, Claudie Marec and Simon Morisset, the 2 oceanographic engineers on board, try to fix the Flowcytobot (flow cytometer). This device, which enables us to photograph small zooplankton, is causing problems. It had already exhausted Marc Picheral the night before his departure. Now the machine continues to try the patience of both engineers. In the main cabin the atmosphere is studious. Scientists are studying the protocols and reports of previous sampling stations. We must get ready, because in 3 days, under the direction of Pascal Hingamp the new chief scientist, nets and rosette will go to work again.


Anna Deniaud Garcia

* Loic Vallette took over the helm from Samuel Audrain.

* scurvy: a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, which can lead to death. Many polar explorers were victims of this disease.