Leaving Pevek with 2 surprise guests

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7 September 2013

As planned in the Tara Oceans Expedition Polar Circle program, we sailed out of the port of Pevek on Saturday morning, after completing administrative formalities for leaving Russian territory.

The scientific team was largely renewed, but most of the sailors from the Dudinka leg are still on board. And 2 unexpected reinforcements joined our crew – Sébastian Roubinet and Vincent Berthet. The 2 adventurers had set out to cross the Arctic Ocean on their carbon-fiber catamaran, capable of gliding over the ice, but they had to give up their incredible challenge.

Sébastian Roubinet and Vincent Berthet embarked 2 months ago from Barrow, Alaska aboard Babouche, a small 6-meter skiff, trying to reach the Svalbard Islands in Norway, that is, crossing the Arctic Ocean diagonally. But almost permanent head-winds and drift, and an earlier-than-expected re-freezing forced them to abandon their venture. A few days ago they triggered their distress beacon and were picked up in the middle of the pack ice, about 800 miles from Pevek, by the Admiral Makarov, the most powerful non-nuclear Russian ice breaker.

Since they had not foreseen this forced stopover in Chukotka (Russia) and didn’t have authorization to enter Russian territory, it was decided that Tara would serve as a refuge for these 2 adventurers. Sébastian and Vincent, with much regret had to leave their Babouche at Pevek, and as of yesterday are part of our crew. In fact Sébastien Roubinet had already been aboard Tara in 2004, sailing for Greenland, just a few months after Etienne Bourgois and agnès b purchased the boat.

As always, the departure was very emotional, between the outgoing-crew on the dock waiting for their return flight, and the people on board, including those from the previous leg between Dudinka and Pevek. They had gone through the difficult Northeast passage together so emotions were running high.
But the weather was smiling on us with lots of sun and mild temperatures for this part of the world.
Slowly, Tara left the large loading dock in the port of Pevek where large multicolored cranes were pirouetting around a Russian freighter. Loïc Vallette, our captain, couldn’t hide his joy at departure, and sounded the fog horn several times to salute those left on the dock. Before taking to the open sea, we passed along the starboard side of the Admiral Makarov, the icebreaker that rescued our two surprise guests.

Tara is now sailing in the maritime corridor 200 miles long and 40 miles wide that we must take to exit Russian waters. A first sampling station could take place Sunday afternoon since we have the possibility until midnight, September 9.
But this depends on the advice of land-based oceanographers who will first inform Emmanuel Boss, our chief scientist on board, that these are indeed Pacific waters entering via the Bering Strait. We have already sampled Russian coastal waters just before arriving at Pevek.

Vincent Hilaire