Day 33

71 degrees North guys!!

23,6 nautical miles today. It starts pulling and pushing. It ends sailing and drinking tea. 

We cover 8nm on the ice in the morning and the afternoon. In the sky, we can see some darks clouds. We hope it’s the open water. 

Mid afternoon, the fog surrounds and it’s hard to know where to go, we stop for a coffee. Then, it clears. The whole sky is still overcasted. Couple of places, the clouds are way darker! The ice reflects white in a cloudy sky whereas the open water reflects dark grey. We are aiming straight to the dark grey. “Water!!”. It happens in two steps. First, we encounter water for a short while before getting back on the ice. Second, we meet the water again when the fog reappears. At that time, we can’t imagine that we’ll be sailing until late evening. And we do. We nearly dont’t see ice anymore and are actually looking for fresh water to drink. Who would have thought so? After a cup of Tea, Seb goes “71 degrees!”. That’s it, we just passed latitude 71 degrees North guys! Ok, let’s not “sell the skin before having the bear shot”. There is still 29 degrees to go until Svalbard ;-).

We sail until 10.30pm. Would love to continue through “night time” until tomorrow but Seb needs to do some repairs on the rudder. Better be wise on this one and have a safe long day tomorrow. Because at the moment, you have to have your foot from time to time on the rudder when you steer so it doesn’t go up. 

We find a good pact of ice floating in open water. “This will be our camp for the night”, “…and there is fresh water!”

It’s 11.30pm. What a day! 

Yeeewwww! 🤙😃

Day 32

Terrain improves, indeed. 

We wake up nearly 10nm away from when we stopped last night. The drift is pushing us towards the SE. 

However, we still do 9,5 nm. We are progressing on better terrain, mainly on the. Can’t wait to hit the water! 

Short story today since I am spending some time doing some pads for the comfort of my knees…

Talk tomorrow guys! 

Day 31

Cheddar mon amour. 

We are happy! The terrain is improving… and the wind is from the side blowing 20 knots pushing « Babouch-Ty » towards the North-East. By the end of the day, the GPS shows 11nm. It is so far our breaking distance record! Of course, 11nm isn’t much when you scale it  back to the total distance between Alaska and Svalbard, which is 1750nm. But if we compare today to the previous 30 days, 11nm is our best result

It’s 7.45pm, we celebrate with Cheddar. We celebrate the 11nm but also the fact that it is our last evening with Cheddar. Question: if you were to place 2 sticks of Cheddar under your lips and on each side of your mouth, which animal of the Arctic would you refer to? 

Every day evening since we left Narwhal island, 20 days ago, the Cheddar moment was something we cherished like a ritual that you wouldn’t miss. It meant the day was over and comfortably inside the cockpit tent we could appreciate its gentle savor. We’ll miss you buddy Cheddar, RIP. 

The good news is that we have something new coming up. When we did the inventory, I spotted 4 prosciutto hams. From now on, the Cheddar will leave its place to the Prosciutto. I have proposed to the guys to use one of the hams as my pillow… Negotiation was not even an option. Pffff! Old men ;-). 

Apart from this, we are now drifting at speed 1knot towards the South-East…. Hmmm. But I shouldn’t mention this as today was so great!

Day 30

The show goes on, day 30. 

Once upon a time, 3 donkeys were pulling and pushing, sometimes forward sometimes reverse, a sail-ski boat on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean and offshore the Northern Alaskan coast… Donkeys aren’t very common in this part of the world though. Some do, the Arctic donkeys. Legends say they are very rare 😉

Today, we did 3 nautical miles. Our highlight of the day happens in the middle of the afternoon. The wind picks up to 20 knots 3/4 from the back. The boat rides by itself. We are nearly surfing along. Good fun! Until we hear a big crack. Seb goes  « Slack!! ». Eric, in the back gives slack on the main sail. « We have been a little crazy » I whisper. One of the carbon tube in the front partially broke. We finally continues the route with a better control and decide to stop earlier to repair. Again, Seb does a great job. 

Later in the evening, the clic clic clic of the rain starts but the dehydrated beef stew with veggies is ready. 

22.22pm, time to rest our lower back. 

Cheers from the 3 donkeys!

Day 29

Who’s got my book?

There is about 4 square meters in the cabin where we sleep. At the highest, it is 80 cm, not even 3 feet. It means that when the three of us are inside, we have clearly a certain proximity. Eric is on one side, Seb in the middle and I am on the other side.

On this trip, I brought a Kindle with different books, Fridtjof Nansen, Hubert Reeves, Jørn Riel, Don Miguel Ruiz, Mike Horn and also some talking about politics. I thought some variety would make me happy. 

I am here inside my sleeping bag, texting on my phone. I turn around to change position. Seb is reading on the Kindle he borrowed and Eric is right behind reading that same page. I smile and silently snap a shot. 

Later, I realize that there isn’t so many books onboard and we spend every evening reading. The demand is greater than the offer, there is definitely a potential market here! Every evening, we each have a candi (still we do but not for long anymore) after dinner. Maybe I should rent my Kindle for some candies?

Cheers from the frozen ocean 😉

Day 28

Terrain improves. 

It’s another atmosphere this morning. The calm sunshine has left. It’s grey and a bit windy. The Ocean is still beautiful though, showing its power. 

We leave our small patch of ice and move on. It’s half ice floes half water. Delicious!

Progressing in this type of terrain takes a lot of energy for such a low result. “Ok, let’s find a better zone!” We spend some precious time doing a reco for finally finding a better area where we will able to progress smoother. Good! 

The patches are getting bigger and we even use the paddles to progress. The water is dark and the ice right under the surface shows a magnificent blue, like the lagoon of French Polynesia! It feels way better to be here rather than further West where the ice floes are messing against each other. 

It has been a good day that ends with a « Chili con Carne »…

Day 27

French Soccer!

Since the beginning of the expedition, I enjoy being in touch with my friends. Lately, I talked with Sylvain “LK”, one of my best buddy back home, about the World Cup. We agreed that he would send me a report from the bar that I would then share with Seb and Eric on Sunday 15th of July. 

When I wake up, I check the phone and read 26 messages. 21 are from Sylvain “ LK”! From start to end, he has been commentating the match for us, even the stats are there! We keep on chatting as the final is still live until Sylvain goes: “Champion du Monde!!!!” and “I think I’m not going to work tomorrow :-)”. Ahahahahah!!! 

I share the whole report with Seb and Eric and it makes us talk and laugh through the morning. We don’t know much about football but come on, World Champ!!! Yeeewwwww!! 

I imagine my friends back home singing, dancing and partying so hard that it brings a big smile on my face, here inside my sleeping bag. 

Thanks my dear Sylvain “LK” and also cheers to Manu and Theo for sending updates about it!! 
As a team sport, I like better rugby. But France being in final of the World Cup and winning is still something so special!! That will give some good energy for lots of French people…

On our side and together with the Northern drift, we are playing labyrinth with the ice and  have done 1,5nm since yesterday evening. Not much but still, North! Keep positive. 

Day 26

Water? Not yet.

The ice conditions in the North are improving. There is a change on the last sat photo showing some opening cracks. The open is still far away from us, about 20nm. In 5 to 10nm, we will normally leave the ice belt.

Today, it isn’t ideal distance wise but we encounter more water. At least the boat spend more time on the water than on the ice. That’s nice! 

11pm, it’s so quiet. The sunset reflects its golden light on the water. Mother Nature is beautiful tonight!

Day 25

Summer vacation. 

Is it worth spending energy and eating a whole food ration if we can barely progress? Today we are off. 

The ice around us is still too soft to push forward. So we chill the whole day and like kids, we enjoy today as summer vacation day. 

ps: Mother Nature, if you see three “weird” souls pushing a boat(?) in the Arctic Ocean… please be kind and let them pass through, just saying ;-). Thanks! 

Day 24

Walking on eggs gets you wet. 

The map received this morning still indicates a high concentration of ice surroundings us. Lots of ice has been pushed with the wind and the currents from last winter. 

“Let’s give it a go and see what the day brings”. From the day before we knew that the onward ground was full of hidden traps. 

The snow doesn’t have the consistency around here. It’s a warm melting the ice quick!  And depending where we put our feet it can take us straight down through that thin layer. The chest game starts! 

The one pulling in the front, from a distance, doesn’t have the help of the boat if the ground disappears under its weight. The three of us gets wet, one after the other. We laugh at each other. Towards the end, I am in the front and share my feelings about the next steps I have ahead. I still give it a try until graouchhh!! All the way to the hip, the water enters easily inside my pant and connect smoothly inside my boots. Seb quickly arrives to help me get out. Fortunately, the edge was strong enough and I climb back. We laugh agsin! We do because it’s a sunny and warm day with no wind. Like holidays, right? 

In French, we say “marcher sur des œufs”. Literally translated it is in English “walking on eggs”. Not sure if it means something though, ahahahah! But this is the feeling we had during the whole work out today.

The Artic ice has won the chest tournament. Looks like we aren’t even in the same category. Are we actually playing the same game? Conclusion: we call it a day early in the afternoon, our progress’s slow anyway. 

Arctic, we still love you.