One must deserve one’s freedom


21 January 2008

One must deserve one’s freedom

During the whole night of Sunday to Monday, Tara crew members took turns to make the ship move forward on the ice. Two watch teams made of four crew members. One between 9pm and 3 am, the other between 3 am and 9 pm. After moving gently during the beginning of the night, things got tense between 11 pm and 4 in the morning. Luckily, the full moon was there to guide us in the night. From a thin ice shattered in thousand of small pieces, we arrived in an area full of small and compact icebergs. This was dangerous. They were sometimes very high and risked damaging things on the deck. Between the watch person at the front of the boat trying to decipher and to detect a possible passage between the pile of blocks and the helmsman, it was full time concentration “2 on the portside, push the blocks with the engines. Machine 0.

Stop everything we have gone up on the ice; I am waiting to see what is happening. Ok, reverse gears, confirmed the helmsman from the navigation cabine” Eyes looking on one side, his hand on the gas handle on the other side. By the magic of VHF, it was as if these two minds were next to each other. In symbiosis. For hours, under borealis auroras, Tara persisted to keep her course to find the open water again. The struggle continues. One does not exit from the ice just like that. But the result of this fierceness is there. Tara has covered 30 miles since the start of the engines yesterday at noon. According to the most recent satellite maps, there would be the same distance to cover still. It is nine o’clock and the two teams will take turns. My team will start a new cycle until 1pm.

Everyone has slept only for a few hours. We all feel a bit tired. But this is unimportant, we all know that we are living a great moment of the expedition. The last moments in the middle of the ice also. All good stories have an ending as the saying goes. And we need one because Tara last night endured more than one shock against these pieces of “white metal” of all shape and size. Our work is nothing compared to what our “whale” is going through. Its aluminium skeleton vibrates under the last assaults of the ice.
To leave this ice is like leaving a world, a profound jungle where the edge of the forest never seems far, but the path to reach it is endless.

Vincent Hilaire