Last week of the expedition

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2 December 2013

Just a few more days! Next Saturday in the early evening, we’ll make our entry into Lorient, Tara’s home port from which she set sail for the Arctic on May 19. We already have the feeling of home-coming as we cover the 1,000 miles still separating us from our destination.

During the night between Saturday and Sunday, we were literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, exactly halfway there. On the navigation map, a small virtual flag had been planted at the exact point where for the first time we would be closer to Lorient than to Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon. It’s difficult to imagine that we’re actually here – a tiny dot in the middle of the vast blue area on the map.

On the bridge, it’s a desert of water stretching to the horizon – a monotony hardly disturbed by a battalion of seagulls, and some cargo ships appearing on our radar. Yet going beyond this small flag on the map makes us fully aware that the home port of Tara is quickly approaching. It’s an opportunity for the sailors to make an initial assessment,  after several months aboard for this scientific tour of the Arctic.

Even if we’re not there yet, we can already say that the expedition is a success” says Martin, the captain during this last part of the voyage. So far we’ve been pretty lucky, without any major incidents. Despite difficult conditions, we were able to do almost all the sampling stations planned.” For the captain, this success also reflects the experience of the crew: “Sailors and scientists were all well-adapted, thanks to the experience accumulated during Tara Oceans (2009-2012).”

For Daniel, chief engineer, the end point is coming at exactly the right time. “We’re beginning to feel tired. Since Ilulissat (Greenland), we’ve been sailing outside the Arctic. No more bears, northern lights, ice…Even though we’ve had two excellent stopovers since then, including a fabulous welcome in St. Pierre, we’re now back to something more classic, so we’re all the more anxious to arrive. And of course we’re impatient be reunited with our families!”

Baptiste had already sailed in Antarctica, but thanks to this expedition, he was able to discover the Great North. “I had never sailed further north than Cherbourg!”  he says with humor.  “I’m really  happy to have lived this experience.” For Nico, who has spent more than 4 months on board during the recent expedition, it’s hard to realize that arrival time is near. “It’s really strange to think that in a few days the circle will be closed. But I’ll be happy to arrive, to see people again. Also, we know the boat will leave again; it’s good to know that Tara has other projects.” And in conclusion the deck officer adds:  “But before that, we still have half an ocean to cross!

Yann Chavance