The best logs of the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition

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15 January 2014

While Tara is at the boatyard in Lorient and waiting for her new departure in May in the Mediterranean, we invite you to relive the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition in a best of log, from May to December 2013. Have a good trip…

10th May 2013
THE TARA OCEANS POLAR CIRCLE EXPEDITION STARTED MAY 19th 2013

This May 2013, the schooner Tara has embarked on a new scientific adventure: The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition. Tara will travel 25 000 kms around the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages, returning to Lorient in December 2013.

19th May 2013
TARA OCEANS POLAR CIRCLE IS LAUNCHED!
Over a year has passed since the previous Tara Oceans expedition ended, and Tara is finally heading out to the open ocean. Sunday afternoon May 19 the schooner cast off from Lorient to begin a nearly seven-month voyage around the Arctic. The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition has begun.

2nd June 2013
TARA ENTERS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
On Sunday June 2, 2013, at precisely 23:07 + 41 seconds according to the GPS on board, Tara reached a symbolic milestone on this expedition around the North Pole: we crossed into the Arctic Circle – an invisible border worth celebrating.

IMG_3625

© Tara Expéditions

22th June 2013
PASSING THE NORTH CAPE
After celebrating the “Fête de la Musique”? with accordion melodies, on Saturday afternoon we passed  the North Cape under a rippled sky. Pampered by the Gulf Stream,* with mild temperatures around 15°C., from Tara’s deck we admired the legendary cliffs. Only 180 more nautical miles and we’ll raise a new flag – Russia’s colors will take the place of Norway’s.

2th July 2013
SCIENCE FROM MURMANSK TO DUDINKA (RUSSIA)
72 ° 32 North and 44 ° 06 East. This is the spot where the scientists on the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition decided to shut down the engines, and begin the first long sampling station of the Murmansk-Dudinka leg. Here water masses coming from the Atlantic enter the Barents Sea from the south, and meet masses of polar water. In this area defined as a ‘polar front’, scientists  and sailors plan to perform 22 samplings in 2 consecutive days. A scientific marathon which will be repeated 3 more times during the month of navigation between the two Russian ports.

7th July 2013
THE KINGDOM OF ICE
The horizon has changed color. A white border covers the vast blue. Is the Novaya Zemlya effect playing tricks on us again ? “Ice in sight!”? calls the sailor on watch. Euphoria spreads among the crew. Since our departure from Murmansk, we’ve been dreaming of the intoxicating whiteness of  ice. Neither the chilling cold nor the constant daylight managed to convince us that we were sailing in the Arctic. Now, here we are! Without hesitation Tara moves at a brisk pace towards the white wall that rises on the horizon. The schooner seems eager to see this old friend who welcomed her for several months during the Arctic drift.

Tara-retrouve-la-glace.-A.DeniaudTara-Expéditions

A.Deniaud/Tara Expéditions


9th July 2013

SCIENTIFIC STATION AT THE ICE PACK’S EDGE
With sea ice knocking against Tara’s hull, the scientists meticulously assemble on deck their usual collection of vials, pipettes and other accessories required for sampling stations. For more than 12 hours, the crew will be taking samples in this ice field. Fortunately, on this summer day, temperatures are mild and the thermometer has stabilized at around -3°C. The sampling station will be long, but the Arctic is being generous to the brave.

11th August 2013
THE JEWEL OF THE ARCTIC
We had seen almost nothing. The Russian archipelago of Franz Josef had hidden her beauty under a veil of fog when we first met.
The base of Nagurskaya on the island of Alexandra – headquarters of the nature reserve – gave us an official idea of the value of this gem. But we had to befriend the park rangers in order to have the doors to this stunning world open for us. As if by magic, the sun came out and the jewel of the Arctic shone before us, with breathtaking glaciers, majestic polar bears and sublime skies

15th August 2013
UP AGAINST A WALL OF ICE
The Vilkitsky Strait is blocked. For 4 days, the phrase resounds like a leitmotif aboard the schooner. And ice maps confirm the rumors. Tara will not be able to cross the Northeast Passage in the coming days. We have to be patient, enjoy the winds that make for great sailing, remain flexible, and constantly review the scientific program. Faced with this wall of ice, we are sailing into the unknown.

Un mur de glace dans la baie de Disko (Groenland)

V.Hilaire/Tara Expéditions

26th August 2013
TARA IN THE NORTHEAST PASSAGE
After 45 hours of difficult navigation in the Vilkitsky Strait, at times covered by 60% sea ice, Tara has passed Cape Chelyuskin, Asia’s northernmost point. The strategic Northeast gateway was crossed on Sunday at midnight (French time) in a thick fog. Tara is the first boat this year to cross the Northeast Passage without the assistance of an icebreaker, along with a 14-meter Polish ship also in the area!

7th September
LEAVING PEVEK WITH TWO SURPRISE GUESTS
As planned in the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition 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.

10th September
THE “DATE-LINE” OFF WRANGEL
Yesterday the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition crossed the famous “date line” as our English friends call it. This official but imaginary line is essential for us to live together on this planet with a single unit for measuring time, no matter where we are. Everyone knows that days are 24 hours long, but when we cross over the line, the day starts over again. Magic !

17th September
MEETING THE LORD OF THE ARCTIC
Today, during a sampling station in the ice between Pevek (Russia) and Tuktoyaktuk (Canada), we crossed paths again. A lone white polar bear joined us on an ice floe near our sampling station in the Beaufort Sea at 71° North.

Le-seigneur-de-lArctique-aux-abords-de-Tara.-©V.HilaireTara-Expéditions

V.Hilaire/Tara Expéditions

19th September
NEITHER ELDORADO NOR SANCTUARY: TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE ARCTIC
By Tara Expeditions

Tara is now circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean in a scientific endeavor. The schooner crossed the Northeast Passage at the end of August and is now going to traverse the Northwest Passage. This year, the Arctic ice chart indicates that the ice melt is not as extensive as the record melt observed during the summer of 2012. This, however, does not in any way, detract from the warming trend observed in recent years. In fact, the seven largest minima in Arctic ice have occurred over the past seven years. After three months in high latitudes, this is the opportunity for Tara Expeditions to make a plea for the Arctic.

20th September
WELCOME TO TUKTOYAKTUK!

Since Wednesday evening Tara has been anchored near this Inuit village in the Northwest Territory of Canada. Canada, the second largest country in the world in area, gets its name from the Huron word “Kanata”? which means village. The 870 inhabitants of this peaceful hamlet at the end of the world are extremely kind and welcoming. Our entry into the land of the Inuits is full of promise.

21th September
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR THE NORTHEAST PASSAGE

We’ve just left this charming village “Tuk” (Tuktoyaktuk, Canada) and its friendly majority of Inuit inhabitants. The following morning, however, greets us with reality which is the bet taken on by Tara Oceans Polar Circle. The new ice charts received this Saturday have not brought good tidings. These were reflected this morning in the expressions of Loïc Vallette and Lars Stemmann, captain and chief scientist of this new leg who will take us from “Tuk”? to Arctic Bay (Canada). But as always on board Tara, we have experienced other situations and optimism reigns.

29th September
THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE IS BEHIND US 

Since 15h (local time) this Saturday, Tara is sailing again on ice-free open water. Early in the morning, the weather was good as expected thanks to a stable anti-cyclone, and we were navigating along the Brodeur Peninsula through scattered ice floes.
Two hours later, we received a radio message from the Canadian Coast Guard’s Louis S. St-Laurent inviting us to follow in her wake. This escort helped us negociate this 60-mile barrier in half a day, which would have taken us perhaps more than a day with a crucial night-slalom between new and old ice floes.

7th October
LAST STOPOVER IN THE NORTH OF CANADA
Tara has been anchored in Pond Inlet (Nunavut, Canada) since early Sunday afternoon. This town of about 3,000 inhabitants is the largest of the 4 Canadian hamlets north of the 72nd parallel. The majority here are Inuit, and it’s one of the few hamlets that has gained in population in recent years. Located on Eclipse Sound, it offers a breathtaking view of this majestic fjord.

15th October
MOVING ON TO ILULISSAT

Tuesday morning after leaving our anchorage at Disko Island’s Fortune Bay, we headed for Ilulissat (Greenland) .
The scientific team is preparing to make a final sampling station before the new stopover and renewal of part of the team.
The weather conditions are still optimal with plenty of sunshine and slightly positive temperatures. The west coast of Greenland has provided not only scientific riches but also aesthetic ones.

15th October
ARRIVAL IN ILULISSAT

Tara is off the west coast of Greenland and heading towards a small village called Ilulissat via Disko Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The weather is looking good, the wind is mild, and our navigation instruments indicate an arrival time just after nightfall at 19h, leaving time to undertake a sampling station before lunch.

La ville d'Ilulissat dans la baie de Disko (Groenland)

F.Aurat/Tara Expéditions

30th October
WIND AT 40 KNOTS AND A HUGE WAVE
About 300 miles from the Belle Isle Strait, northern entry to the St. Lawrence River, we’re confronting a constant wind of 40 knots. The boat’s taking it, and inside Tara the meal is very animated. We have only a vague idea of the wind’s force.

24th November
A LITTLE PIECE OF FRANCE WITH A VERY BIG HEART

A few days ago Saint Pierre and Miquelon meant hardly anything to us – just a tiny French territory lost at sea, somewhere near Newfoundland. But now Tara’s deck resounds with all sorts of stories about the archipelago, warmly recounted by residents happy to share their secluded life.

30th November
SCIENCE NON-STOP
Since sampling station number 211 ​​in the Labrador Sea, the rosette and nets have remained neatly stored on the rear deck. Does this mean no more scientific work will be done aboard Tara during the rest of the voyage, before our arrival in Lorient ?

Stéphane Pesant et Lee Karp Boss, scientifiques en station de prélèvements de plancton

A.Deniaud/Tara Expéditions


3rd December

NIGHT WATCH STORY
It’s almost 4 in the morning. While I’m sound asleep, lulled by Tara’s movements, a hand taps me on the shoulder. Jerome has finished his shift and is waking the next watch. I get up with difficulty, ready for the next 2 hours.

7th December
OCEANS AND CARBON
As the Tara Oceans Arctic Circle expedition comes to an end, with thousands of plankton samples collected and stored in Tara’s freezers, one question is constantly asked by journalists and the general public who come to visit the boat.  What about  climate change? Although we’re not studying this issue directly, we have indeed been focusing on the organisms at the heart of the climate machine. To understand, we must first dissect the links between oceans and carbon.