9 December 2013
On Saturday the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition ended where it started – in the port of Lorient. Crew members came back full of memories of their icy voyage. Choice morsels:
Baptiste, first mate (aboard for 3 months)
There were so many amazing moments, it’s hard to pick just one! But I think this one image will always stay with me: It was morning, somewhere between the passage of Bellot and Lancaster (Canada) and I was on watch. The sun rose with an incredible light, and for the first time during the expedition, we saw ice. Initially, there was just a thin layer. I slowed the engines just in case, but Tara was able to continue advancing for some time. As the ice became thicker and thicker, we were already in radio contact with the icebreaker that opened the way for us an hour or two later.
Daniel, chief engineer (aboard for 3 and a half months)
I think our arrival at Ilulissat (Greenland) impressed the entire crew. Nearing Greenland during the previous days, we had seen some large icebergs from time to time. But this particular night, as we approached the port, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of dense pieces of ice. It was the first time we really came upon ice since the passage of the Northwest. Under the full moon and a beautiful aurora borealis, we had to slalom for 2 hours between the pieces of ice. We were all gathered at the front of Tara, with a large spotlight lighting us, as we saw the lights of the city getting closer. In the harbor, we even had trouble docking because of the ice between the quay and the boat. It was surreal. The next morning, the ice had disappeared.
Martin, Captain (aboard for 3 months)
I have a great memory of our arrival in Tuktoyaktuk (Canada). I must say that the previous stopover was Pevek (Russia), where the ambiance was rather cold. Though we had some nice encounters there, I can’t exactly say that people were joyful. So the welcome in Tuktoyaktuk seemed especially warm! We arrived at night. People illuminated us with the headlights of their pickup trucks, and as soon as we set foot on the ground, several children came to see us, just happy to meet us. The next day we were able to talk with the Inuits who live here. Beautiful encounters.
Nicolas, deck officer (aboard for 4 months)
I will remember for a long time one particular meeting – a morning when we were up very early, before the North East passage. A polar bear and her 2 cubs. It was truly magical to see the queen of the Arctic in her habitat, and we were delighted to see the little ones, since we know the species is threatened. We took this as a symbol of hope. We had a chance to spend an hour with them, about 30 meters away. We were really in their environment, and they accepted us. It was simply extraordinary.
Interviews by Yann Chavance