At the Heart of Chaos

Published on 21.07.2010 - The Great Drift

The Robinsons-on-Ice no longer know which saint to venerate. All the pack ice is breaking up before their very eyes. They’re still however looking for an ice floe that’s big enough for them to live on for a while.

The idea certainly was original but the dream perhaps is a little too way-out. Because since the moment when the four heroes set out on their actual search for a piece of ice, they’ve known nothing but disappointment. In the middle of July, they had finally found an “ice cube” that was right for their objective, i.e. enough large to camp on without too much risk of being swept overboard by a wave. But on the 16th of the same month, it was carnage.

Extracts from their logbook: "We’ve urgently had to move house. Our ice floe, christened Loulou Belle, which we had carefully developed, was dangerously breaking up all day long. One sector that we used to live on was abruptly carried off by the waves.

800m² when we embarked upon it, our floating raft was not much more more than 600m² four days later.

We were thinking of spending an additional night on it when at more than a mile away - fortunately! – a huge iceberg literally broke up and sank, creating a fearsome wave. The alarm was sounded. We promptly arranged and gathered up our affairs and put on our life jackets while waiting for the wave. Would Loulou Belle, already greatly weakened, withstand the shock?

The wave passed without doing any great damage then we came to be surrounded by fragments of ice. As our fragile vessel was continuing to drift towards the danger, we decided to evacuate and to take refuge on land, three hours of kayak away. The morale is still excellent and we’re off in search of a new ice home, but it’s going to be difficult: everything melts so quickly! We’re travelling in a real ice cemetery. It was formed in the Arctic Ocean several years ago and is now disappearing before our very eyes? What’ll be left of it tomorrow? ..."
A few days later, that took to sea again. But the conditions are such that the prospect of spending a couple more nights on the drifting ice is gradually fading..."

Extracts from their logbook: “July 20. Two 9-hour days at sea to note that the pack ice on which we were living three days ago is now nothing but an incredible mass of ice detritus. No way of finding a new sea camp under these conditions! We’ve drifted as far as the mouth of the Sermilik, this large fjord that constantly rejects really impressive icebergs. It was here that it all came apart and the polar pack ice adventure came to a halt.

The sun of the heat wave was adding to the sea swell, completing the destruction of this magical world, with astonishing speed. We couldn’t have imagined that it all would be so fast, that our “great drift” would be transformed so soon into a frantic search for a floe… There’s nothing left but icebergs. We’re not losing hope, however. Yesterday, while travelling through the mist, we discovered a surviving ice floe. We’ll try to find it again tomorrow and see whether we could still spend a night on it…

All this is most unusual. Usually, there’s always some remaining pack ice in July… Yes, it’s warm: more than 15 degrees on the land. That’s too much for the pack ice to get through the summer. The Robinsons-on-Ice, as they were presenting it while hoping for the opposite, are indeed witnessing the disappearance of a world."

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