Tara heads out again to the Baffin Sea

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19 October 2013

Tara heads out again to the Baffin Sea

Early Saturday afternoon we left the pretty harbor of Ilulissat (Greenland) after a 4-day stopover. We’re still 14 team members, but there are 5 replacements. Our upcoming scientific program will consist of 4 sampling stations on the way to Quebec in the Baffin Sea, and the Labrador Sea.

After 4 days of meetings, hikes around the great glacier and ‘icefjord’ of Ilulissat, and having our meals ashore, it was time to head out to sea again. Each of us – newcomers and those continuing the voyage–were recharged by the stopover, and left with lots of memories and images.

This morning before leaving Ilulissat port, as we walked towards the city’s glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site, we chanced upon Nils. For a good half hour, this Inuit was preparing his team of Greenland dogs right before our eyes. Excited by the preparations for the trip, they barked until the musher* harnessed them, eager for a run in the snow. I had the feeling I was turning the pages of a Jack London novel. Finally, in a flash Nils flew off on his sled behind his super-charged dog team. Within a few seconds they became a black dot on the snowy hill in front of us, where tourists were waiting for a ride. The hike around the glacier was also fabulous, despite the fact that it’s been receding since 1989 due to global warming.

Today, when we left the harbor, bathed by sunrays glancing off the water’s surface, we had a rendez-vous with a new series of dream moments. In this golden light, among thousands of small icebergs, the sailors hoisted Tara’s sails. We were aboard 1 of the 2 dinghies with François Aurat, capturing these moments of grace. Buoyed by the main and foresails, Tara glided between these ice chunks, sometimes blue, sometimes gray, with the most varied shapes. A dream image for photography buffs like us.

Tonight, apart from the sailors on watch, everyone is snug in their berths, and Tara is adrift without sails. A first surface sampling station is planned in Disko Bay tomorrow morning with fairly chilly temperatures.

Vincent Hilaire
* Musher: a dogsled driver