Tara in the Fram


3 December 2007

Tara in the Fram

That is it. It can be told. Just judging from our speed, we are in the Fram Strait. Even with a slight wind from the North, even though we have not encountered any storms in the past days, Tara is sliding with the ice at about half a knot.

The weather is quite mild now and the pack ice is broken on the starboard side. A lake of salty water in which the moon was reflected yesterday in the early morning. A little break is also still visible closer to the boat on the starboard side. As in an earth quake, the surface of the ice has shattered showing a deep fissure. It is several meters long like a mini-canyon. These changes in our landscape have been a great attraction all day yesterday. A Saturday that ended with a magnificent bonfire on the ice. Silently, in a meditative mood, everyone took the moment fully in. The fascination for fire is increased tenfold in such a cold and hostile environment. Fire on ice. But it is the ice and the cold that had the last word. The fire died out pretty fast. Its glowing embers did not even succeed to pierce through this white and cold cement.

Today, aside from the usual tasks that are absolutely necessary to life onboard, one can say that Tara and her crew is taking a nice Sunday rest. Activities range from knitting, to selecting photos, reading, writing, laundry, nap etc. All the things that could not be accomplished during the week are on the agenda. For tomorrow, the scientific experiments start off again as well as all the rest: the end of the boat’s preparation to navigation. And as we are getting closer to the open water, there are navigation briefings, a fire drill. Like in a small village in Gaulle, everybody is going back to their forge. To practice one’s specialty: mechanics, carpentry, art, journalism or cooking.

This day of relaxation and rest will end with the ritual banha, the Russian sauna. The bravest ones will have a dip in the icy water of the Arctic Ocean. With a good night sleep and a new week to come, our destination is still unknown.
Spitzberg or Island, the only thing that we are sure of, is that we are going fast
toward the South by the Fram Strait. The nose of Tara is thus facing the Atlantic.

Vincent Hilaire