September 2007 : last turnover

Published on 01.10.2007 - Tara Arctic

September has marked a month of changeover for Tara. The ship has undergone its last crew rotation and taken fresh supplies on board. In a few months from now, the sailing ship should be making its way out of the ice...

But before thinking about changeovers, the men aboard Tara needed to gather all their grit and determination to get rid of... polar bears. As the boat slowly approached the coast of Greenland, these great lords of the ice came out to inspect this curious structure locked tight in the pack-ice. Some of them even decided to camp out about 300 metres away from the vessel, behind a hummock. One day, there was a fierce altercation between one of these giants and Zagrey the dog who was defending his territory. The result was a nasty wound to Zagrey's back paw requiring 4 stitches! While the crew had already demonstrated its determination, it also deployed the patience of a saint by spending several days repairing the scientific instruments (radiometer, beacon marker, etc.) that the bears had been playing with!

A landing strip 400 metres long by 15 metres wide

As soon as the bears had been on their way (they had to be persuaded with distress flares), Tara's crew took on the preparation of its final rotation. The sailing ship will spend its second and last winter on the pack-ice. The weather not being very cold yet, it was no easy task to locate and mark out a landing strip 400 metres long and 15 metres wide. These are the dimensions required by the pilots of Ken Borek in order to land the Twin Otter safely on the ice.

It took three trips to fly in all the equipment required for the final part of the drift and to carry away the expedition's waste and the scientific instruments they will no longer use. Three men also left the schooner to be replaced by two other 'winter visitors'.

Now that everything is in place for the final leg of the adventure, the crew members are already beginning to wonder when and how the sailing ship will extricate itself from the ice. Especially since an eight-metre keel of ice has formed beneath the boat...

Extracts from the blog: On 3rd September, Tara celebrated one year of drifting. She has covered 3 400 kilometres at an average speed of 9.3 kilometres per day, representing 1 400 kilometres in a straight line. Based on this average, Tara should come out of the ice in February at 80°North. With the current becoming faster on the approach to Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Spitzbergen archipelago, Tara should reach 80°North between 15th December and 15th January next. During this long voyage, Tara passed within 160 kilometres of the geographic North Pole at 88°32' North on 28th May 2007.

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