The best of log of the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition – part 2

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16 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 September to December 2013. Have a good trip…

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.

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.

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 ?

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.