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September 8th
Sébastien, Vincent and Baboushka finally made it to Pevek where they have been immediately transboarded (for complex administrative reasons) from the "ADMIRAL MAKAROV" to "TARA", a french arctic expedition sailboat, which was luckily in the harbor, and nicely proposed to embark them all on board. Many thanks to them ! Unfortunately, Baboushka could not be loaded on "TARA", and Sébastien and Vincent had sadly to leave Pevek without their companion, leaving her into the good hands of the Pevek harbor crew, very motivated to sail on it it ! Seb and Vince will stay on "TARA", in the midst of her scientific mission in Arctic, until her next stop, in Canada.
TARA OCEANS POLAR CIRCLE 2013
Tara embarks in May 2013 to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages -- a scientific and academic adventure covering 25,000 kms and lasting 6 months. This international expedition is in collaboration with countries bordering the Arctic Ocean...

   


September 4, 2013
Sebastien, Vincent and Babushka now aboard "Admiral Makarov" are heading to the south at 14knots: Here is what Seb sent:
“This morning at 3:30 a.m. local time, we noticed a speck on the horizon; it was the Admiral Makarov. Time to finish putting everything away, and then it was moored to our ice sheet. The crew gave us a sign and then approached us, and we left with the feeling that we were abandoning our teammate, Babouchka.
“With the crane, they lowered a cage for us to embark. Vincent west first, and then I joined him and we were told, ‘We will embark Babouchka.’ Fifteen minutes later, all three of us were on board and heading south at 14 knots through the ice.
brp>“The crew welcomed us with a smile, showed us to our cabin and insisted that we should not hesitate to take a shower! After the shower, there was breakfast — a large block of pâté de tête with lots of garlic and a bit of tea. Then we were shown around the boat.
“As an economy measure, we are using only three engines of the nine available, which is enough to allow us to break floes over two meters thick at 12 knots. It knocks and vibrates, but it goes fast. We should arrive at Pevek in two or three days.
“Another big thank you to the crew of the Admiral Makarov, the CROSS Gris-Nez , MRSC Pevek and all of those who made this rescue possible in an almost inaccessible corner of the world.”

 

   

September 3, 2013
3 days ago, Sebastien and Vincent triggered their distress beacon. They tried everything to keep going, they believed in it until the very last moment, but the very bad meteorological conditions they have now, and will get in the future force them to give up. Returning by themselves is just impossible, and they had to start the distress signal, to their great regret. A Russian Ice Breaker is on its way to bring them back safely.

   

August 29 2013
So many things happened in two days. First we passed the 82nd parallel after 19 hours of efforts. Then we were forced to stop for 30 hours because of a storm but this forced us to rest too !
Yesterday, temperatures dropped to -20°C (-4°F) but a large plate to cross warmed us. Once we reached water again, headwind forced us to tack between plates to finally run into some sort of slush made of ice and snow. And then, to move forward, we had to crush the molasses with our feet while paddling, with Baboushka overpowered with all the sails up in order to force through. We stopped at midnight, exhausted, with the courage to do nothing.
Today, temperatures were warmer (-5°C), and sunshine came later on, but with the same sailing conditions. Tonight, we will stop earlier (9pm) to dry our sleeping bags, realize a CTD (thickness measure) and repair and maintain our craft !

   
August 26th 2013
Yesterday was a full day tacking in mixed water and ice starting with the recovery our 3 miles lost with the drift during our night rest. Ice plates are larger than in the south, thicker too, but very flat. The wind packed them against each other but we hope it will shift and decompress them so we can find wider passages. We are glad with our progression even if our days are ending at 11/midnight. We passed the 81th !
This morning, we started directly in water and sailed 5miles up north before having to climb on the first plate. Since, we crossed 10 other plates in 8 hours - our record - before entering a much denser zone.
On the weather side, it is getting much colder, it snows, but it is less damp. We are still dreaming of downwind conditions...
   
August 24th 2013
We started late this morning because of a fuzzy weather forecast. We were supposed to get strong winds (20 to 30 knots, with 50 knots gusts). For us here, wind was getting stronger, but it was not clear that it would really increase. So, to be sure, we called Pierre Lasnier, an excellent weather router, and after a check, he told me that the front was gone and that the wind would calm down. So let's go, heading north and it goes well. We are approaching the 80°50N sailing on water and ice !!! Thank you Pierre !
   
August 22nd 2013
Since a few days, we were enjoying the idea of our spare clothes and spleeping bags, dry in waterproof bags stored in one of the hulls. Unfortunately, during an inspection yesterday, we discovered salted water in there, even in the so-called waterproofed bags... It will be hard, up to impossible to dry them again with the weather we have: we are blocked by strong northerly winds, it's raining, all is wet, and the drift pushes us south 10 miles a. Not too good for the moral.
On the other hand, the ice foe is dislocating, and melts rapidly, and we slept very well. Ready for tomorrow in good shape !
   

August 19th 2013 - Looking for the black cloud.
This morning, the fog came rapidly and we had to use our growing experience to look for water channels. The clouds color helps: if white, it means there is ice underneath; if grey, we will find ice and water; if black, they are above a large area of water ! With some practice and luck (black clouds) we manage to draw a pretty accurate map just looking at the sky ! It did help us to sail (reaching) 20 miles in the north.
Stalactites are growing everywhere on the boat and the weather forecast is not too good. Strong northerly wind. One advantage though: it will melt the ice and open more routes !

On the health side, we are OK. We both lost some weight because we limited our meals at the start. From now on, we will eat more. Vincent's tip of the nose is still white, but no concern so far. My feet are better, and the toe that froze during the first week and turned blue, then brown (I was not feeling that good) is now like new, back to white, and I feel it again ! I am still enduring cold feet, and Vincent suffers from cold hands, but we manage !

   
August 17 2013
Yesterday, paddle day ! No wind at all. We thought we would exercise our legs during this expedition, we are actually getting stronger arms ! We gained 14 miles North, not that bad considering the ice density of the zone we just crossed.
Today started with some snow, and no wind again. We paddled at a stunning speed of 1,5 knot, then southerly wind started to blow enough to launch our spinnaker. Our speed jumped to 6 knots in large channels of open water, with lot of blocks, forcing us to maneuver many times. Game was to either slalom between them or to sail over... And it worked, almost without slowing down ! Overall result if this beautiful day: 36 miles north !
   
August 15 2013
78th North ! We were not very optimistic this morning, blocked in a dense ice zone, without wind. When we decided to make a large detour, the wind came ...from the North ! Just in front of us. However, meter per meter, we made it, through channels opening one after each other, and here we are ! The 78th is made. That's three degrees in nine days. Not bad ! Weather could be cold and grey, wind in front, and Baboushka uncomfortable, we are so glad that we doubled our allowance to celebrate this degree !
   
August 13 2013
This morning, we have been able to sail for 10 miles before being confronted to a large lock of ice that we are crossing right now. Wind is gone, so we are paddling between ice blocks, having sometimes to pull the boat upon the plates... We did that for 8 miles already, and we hope to reach the open water soon... Beside, we just discovered bear footprints. We will tell you more if we meet... Otherwise, nice and "warm" weather today, and our sleeping bags have dried !
   
August 11 2013
This morning, when we woke up, the whole boat was coated with a thick layer of frost, a few centimeters on each rope and on the rigging. It is getting quite cold those days, mostly negative Celcius temperatures, although today, we were allowed a large serve of good sunshine !
Our progression is good too in spite of several blockages, but as visibility is good, we were able to find the best paths. With this pretty open sky, we should get a good satellite picture to prepare our next days' routes. It is now 9pm and we are still sailing !
   

August 9 2013
We have restarted after the last gusts of wind. The depression has left behind a devastated landscape, broken plates, and ice debris living their last hours... The biggest plates have resisted the gale, but are now much smaller. Thus we are enjoying a path of honor opened to the North-Northwest, in the direction we decided to follow. We still had to overcome several plates, one of them larger than three nautical miles... We are satisfied with more than 45 nm made yesterday, profiting from the last downwind whiffs to pile up as many miles as possible. Today, another profitable day, we added another 36 miles, mainly heading North. Sailing is much easier, mostly on the same board, and without danger thanks to the softness of the remaining ice blocks. We left our dry suits aside, as we did not have to disembark Baboushka before the end of the day ! The consequences of the depression on the ice bank are highly visible, and we we look forward to see if it had the same impact to the north !

   

August 7th 2013
This morning, the wind shifted South because of a storm supposed to cross the arctic today. We started sailing southerly to pass around the large blocking plate, and once that was done, we reoriented our route to north-northwest at high speed (10 knots in gusts). Our progression was excellent, but around 3pm, the wind went up (35 knots) getting too strong to sail within ice blocks. We decided to stop to let go the worst of the storm. We are now secured on a large plate, drifting northeast at 0.5 knot, taking some rest. The storm must mainly be in our north, and we hope that it will clean the path, breaking the plates and opening channels. If so, it will help us getting back on our schedule.

   
August 5 2013
Today was a tacking day playing with ice and wind to find our way towards North West. We are reaching the best position around ice to navigate North.
On the weather side, it is getting quite cold as stalactites are showing on the boat. We are warming ourselves with tea that is boiled directly from the solar panel power. Now all we need is wind blowing from the south to push us North !
   

August 3rd 2013
Hello and Good day!
We have met our first bear this morning, probably interested in our pasta alla Bolognese ! It was a young male, curious enough to come at less than 20m despite of shouts. We shot three times with small lead, without any success. It is only with an emergency flare sent close to his feet that we finally decided him to get away, unfortunately on our way, which forced to modify our route in order to stay apart.
Today, we kept on following the open channels in bad weather, satisfied not to have to crawl on this young ice layer, less than one winter old.
We tell you, enjoy the warmth of your summer !

   
August 2
No wind at all this morning, so we used that spare time to repair a few littles things on the boat. We used our magic carbon patches from AplTec for the helm, the hand rails, the gooseneck, and the bow of one of our hulls, all of them having been heavily strained since our start. With a Baboushka repaired and ready to go, we sailed this afternoon headwind for 7 Nm. The ice bank is now well organized for us, with channels coming after each other... We even enjoyed sunshine after a short snowfall! Beside, no sight of polar bear, just a few seagulls, surprised to see us up there !
   
July 31st
Light wind, icy weather, fog, snow, and current against us... This was the menu of a pretty hard day during which we managed to sail 6.5 Nm for an actual gain of 2 Nm north... Really frustrating, though we did enjoy the beautiful landscapes, numerous visits of belugas, and frequent unwanted baths. All is well on board !
   

July 29th 2013
Here we are ! We passed the 75th North. We tacked the whole day in water and ice for a gain to North of 7 NMi. At least we move forward ! Tomorrow, Westerly wind is forecasted which will help us to sail more directly to North. On the not too good side, water found a way to a so-called "watertight" box where are stored our small batteries and a spare phone. The result is that half of our batteries stock is dead, and we don't know yet if the phone will ever work again... Beside, all is well on board, and our sleeping bags are almost dry !

   

July 27th 2013
We were freezing when we woke up this morning after our night in our humid sleeping bags, so no need to say that we were motivated to get up, even with this fog... We were happy to get enough breeze to sail !
Now, we are stuck with no wind, but the current is with us, and pushes Baboushka to the North unlike last week when each time we were stopped, we were drifting away from our objective. But the sun is with us and dries our clothes and sleeping bags !
Ice blocks are still letting us sneak through. We sailed 35 nmi so far, and try to keep going at 2 knots as far as we can. Tomorrow will be slower, wind forecast is no that good. We are approaching our symbolic mark, the 75th parallel, where we hope to find better conditions on ice as open channels will get increasingly rare. Large plates of ice are already different, switching from brown and bumpy to white and flat. Getting better !

   

July 26th 2013
We started at 3:30 am working hard on the ice to reach the open water. We sailed up North until 7 am as the strong wind forced us to stop again for three hours. Since, we sail North at a good speed (5 to 6 knots). All is well on board beside lanyards swollen with ice and a few blocks slowing us down. That said, conditions are getting better and better. We are so glad to pile-up nautical miles towards North!

   
July, 24th 2013
Yesterday was windy, as planned ! We were sailing pretty well, but gusts reaching 30 knots, we were forced to stop on a strong slab, secure Baboushka, and wait. Surprise came when we woke up: our position had drifted 12 miles in the South-East. Wrong direction... However, it takes more to demoralize us ! We start again. All is well on board.
   
July, 23rd 2013
We gained 13 miles North this morning, tacking upwind between ice blocks, then paddling when the wind abandoned us. It in now raining and we are getting prepared to the the westerly storm which will stay with us for the next two days, and will definitely change our playing field in our North. On the wildlife side, nothing serious beside a few birds and two arctic cods playing between icicles.
We look forward to seeing the sun again, and drying our equipment. So far, weather gods are not with us...
Beside, we tasted the gourmet chocolate desserts ... yummy !
   
July, 22nd 2013
Raining cats and dogs... We are soaked, all is wet, but we are in good shape ! We are now blocked, waiting for wind, but satisfied with the advance we took. For now, we achieve scientific missions: a CTD profile by minus 60 yards for Hervé, and gathering samples for Roman. After that, a large hot chocolate !
   

July 20 2013
Hi ! It all started with a sunny day, with limited ice packs and good wind ! Pure happiness ! But bit by bit, the density of ice blocks increased as well as fog enveloped us. We found ourselves in a weird ambiance: very dirty ice, temperature +10°C, no visibility,and sails up, looking for our way ! And that some say ice bank is monotonous ! We headed South West to reach another open channel which will drive us North later on.

   

July 19th 2013
4th open sea sailing day with no hassle. Last night, we both slept a few hours, leaving Baboushka deal herself with the very light wind. We took her helm when wind rose enough to point North. Being less tired, we started to work on the boat, shoot some rushes for the film, and a light sun, strong enough to push the fog away, helped us to dry our carbon home. By two, we were reaching a lot of drifting blocks of ice forcing us to slalom in the maze. We are now approaching a large slab of more than ten nautical miles that we will have to cross to be back on water for a few days. It is so peaceful to sail in the icy waters: no swell, not a sound, we glide on a mirror reflecting ice blocks so peculiarly shaped. That's it for now, more to come tomorrow !

   

July, 18 2013
Hello! We are slowly moving North in very light winds, under grey clouds. The only colors are your stars on the hull and our red spinnaker. We rest and restore, and mainly helm and adjust our sails. All is well onboard, and morale is high !

   
July, 17 2013
Quick message to let you know that all in fine aboard, despite fog, rain, and very light wind... But Baboushka is a good vessel and knows how to take advantage of the slightest breeze, pushing us in the North West, as we just passed the southern corner of the ice pack. The Chukchi Sea is now completely open, free of ice, and we sail on shifts 24 hours a day. Looking at our maps, we look for the best option when we will reach the ice again ! Until then, have fun in your summertime !
   
July, 16 2013
We are now sailing peacefully on water almost free of ice, heading towards the most southern location of the expedition, before going up north to an even more ice-free zone. This detour should help us to reach the 75th parallel faster than if we had continued to fight on the direct route, with our loaded boat, on difficult ice conditions. We are glad with this plan, as we can rest for the time being, until we reach the ice again.
   
July, 15 2013
Here we are ! After a few more hours battling across the blocs, we reached the open water and right now, we are heading west to get around a large slab. We take advantage of the 10-15 knots downwind before it falls down tomorrow... So good to accelerate and pile up nautical miles ! We will dedicate our following days to head north thought an area less obstructed by ice, hoping to reach the 75th parallel despite of the numerous obstacles to come. We met our first family of bears, a mother and two cubs, one of them being very curious. We saw them at the last moment. We managed to keep them away with our powerful yelling ;-) Moral is high, inside of Baboushka is dry (so far), in short, Life is Beautiful !
   

July, 14 2013
We've finally seen the water from the top of a ridge.  It is good and motivational as we reach more an more open paths across the ice pack.  We are getting obsessed by the idea of sailing in free water.  Hopefully, we will reach it tomorrow. We are in the WNW of Barrow distant of 50 nautical miles, in a good position for our climb to the north. July 13 was also a nostalgic anniversary as Rodolphe and I left Barrow on July 13, 2011 for our fist edition of the Quest through the Pole.  We benefit from this attempt as we enjoy better equipment like new dry suits and canyoning shoes, making water passages much more comfortable. Tonight, July 14 (Bastille Day), no plan for fireworks, unless we get the visit of a bear...  We will sleep early ! Thanks to all of you sending encouraging messages, and to our routers, helping us to get out of the icy maze !

   
July, 13 2013
Another day of forced labor on the ice pack becoming more chaotic.  We are heading to free waters which will open a faster track to the North.  In the meantime, each meter is gained at the cost of many efforts and hoist work. Weather is fine, and the sunshine helps us finding the right paths with less hassle.  Thanks to this clean sky, we get every morning a good satellite picture showing the shortest ways to open water channels. We also have to take into account the mobility of our targets which moves according to the drifts due to winds and currents.  Not that simple to match the layers of our desired route on the map and our effective route between the ice blocks.However, now at camp, after our first week, we enjoy the richness and beauty of our condition.
   

July, 12 2013
This morning, after we saw the ice maps sent by Kalou and Lise, we decided to turn back to get around the large and dense ice slab which blocks our progression.   As the ice pack melted a lot since our departure, we should be able to reach a better route thought a more practicable zone.  We were such in a hurry to leave that we neglected to check in detail the conditions of the ice pack this year.  And now, we pay for that.  No worry, we are in a top location, and we will get back !   Anyway, we progressed despite the facing current.

   

July, 11 2013
Hard to wake up this morning after a windy and noisy night.  We stayed another thirty minutes in our sleeping bags...  and then, on the road again !   Well the road...  each ten meters must be won by pulling, pushing over the ice blocs, one after each other.  Between the blocs, icy water, not enough to sail, just good to fall in it with our dry coats not well secured... Immediate result is a liter of water in the socks, good for thenext eight hours. Still, we are OK, and we will sleep well now that the wind calmed down.  Tomorrow, we will continue W/NW to reach a zone with less ice in order to accelerate on a more direct path.

   

July, 10 2013
The "Quest throught the Pole" menu for today is total chaos, with fog, blocs of ice all over the place, blocs that sink or roll under our weight, slowing down our progression with unwanted baths.  Baboushka is heavy in this starting period, and she suffers, as we suffer in these hard conditions.  We hope we will  quickly find better conditions.  Beside, no worry, we are OK !

 

   

July, 9th 2013
Tonight at our camp, Vincent is the master chef ! He prepares us a "Parmentier de poulet aux carottes" (chicken puree with carrots) ! We are finally feeling off the coast ! Ice is cleaner, slabs are  larger and more white.  Our day started under the sun with  a 4.5 miles cruise after which bumpy ice caught us again. Fog came in at noon, which makes our route choice much more complicated.

   

July, 8th 2013
This morning, we moved just a few nautical miles ahead on ice too thin to carry our weight, and upwind...  Afternoon was a little better with stabilized ice, and we were able to use our sails to help, but we waded in water most of the time...  Our reward is our evening camp on a large slab that drifts at 1 knot in the right direction ! Let's hope we reached the Beaufort Gyre which will help us gain some distance while sleeping !

   

July, 7th 2013
D Day for Baboushka !  We left Barrow at around 4pm on July 6th, encouraged by Phil, Captain of "Le Manguier", and Anna's family who helped us so much during our final preparation.  We sailed 6 nautical miles in free water until point Barrow before reaching ice had to decipher:  lands of recent thin ice, current moved blocks, and a large slab with high pressure ridges where we finally decided to push Baboushka during a few hours before stopping for setting up our camp.  Tomorrow will be windy, we'll decide which direction to go in the morning.  This first half-day brought us many various impressions of lights, ambiances and ice, we cannot wait to see more !

   

July, 5th 2013
After two days working on Babouchka, it's ready. We are also ready, and more than that ! We have almost started the trip has we are eager to leave. Our motivation was never as high, as in 2011, with Rodolphe just before the start. I have of course a special though to you, Rodolphe, I know that you will be with us during all the crossing.

   

July 3, 2013
Barrow, the most northern village of the Alaskan coast, everything is possible ! Indeed, Seb and Vincent found a heated warehouse where they had the opportunity to work on Babouchka. The very last preparations before leaving. It is also time for "le cinquième rêve" team, Hervé Le Goff et Philippe Albert to leave Barrow, and to let Seb and Vincent leaving together for the Arctic ocean conquest. As for "le Manguier" and Philippe, its captain, they are waiting for their new crew, they have been and will stay a perfect logistic base for Seb, Vincent and all the "Cinquième rêve" team.

   

July 2, 2013
Despite a lot of ice, "Le Manguier" succeed to make one way to Barrow, the starting point of the expedition. It is here that Sebastien and Vincent will launch into the Arctic Ocean, in a few days. For the moment, they show us some pictures of the first sailing of Babouchka ...

   

June 30, 2013
After three days stuck by the ice and the wind we finally managed to travel 30 miles in the right direction before being stuck again 7 miles ahead of Wainwright, where Philippe Albert is waiting for us (Representative of Esprit, our main partner). He came to support us. We decided to go and get him with Babouchka. After three hours fighting against the ice and contrary currents we managed to reach the shore where fishermans offered us to go and look for Philippe in the village. An hour later he arrived ready to share a nice sailing back to the Manguier. Tomorrow the ice should be pushed away by an East wind that will hopefully open us the road to Barrow.

   

June 26, 2013
We saw our first bear last night, in the mystical light of the midnight sun. Impressive as always, he came to us without fear before leaving quietly. It's comforting to do this kind of meeting aboard "le Manguier", soon we will do it since our carbonshell... We are sailing at this time in archipelagos of thick ice, "Le Manguier" makes his way through plates of ice. The film crew continues to make images of Babouchka and we hope soon to find a way to Barrow.

   

June 24, 2013
"Le Manguier" sailed right in the middle of ice until get to the large plates of ice where the crew filmd spent the day filming the progression of Babouchka on the ice. The crew film is very happy with the first images and this shooting time is a great opportunity for us to finalise the preparation of the boat and equipment. This is actually the first full scales tests and everybody are surprised by the quality of the boat! It overcomes obstacles like a gazelle and seb even evaluates that we could gain 4 nautical miles per day compared to in 2011. We continue this testing / shooting until the ice open us a way to barrow.

   

Babouchka at Point Hope
We left Charles Hedrich and his son Nelson in Wales before we went on in the direction of Point Hope, where we stayed for a while and captured our first beautiful pictures of Babushka on the ice. Now it's time to leave, ever north to find ice.

   

New colors for Babouchka
We are in Nome for 3 days and we take advantage of the heat to take care of Babushka. We covered it with the names of its partners (stickers made by Hexis). Then we put it in the cold water of the Bering Sea under the curious eyes of other people in the harbor.
And the result is a boat that is ready to start its Quest through the Pole !

   

Nome, June 17th 2013
We are in Nome. Here Charles Hedrich and Le Cinquième Rêve team will soon board Le Manguier while Anne-Lise and Anouk are leaving (thank you Philippe for allowing us to come with Sebastian until here).
The journey further north should be  exciting as we are already meeting pretty much ice since a 100-nautical miles. Departure from Nome is scheduled around June 20th or 21th towards the Barrow area.

   

59°North
Babouchka and the rowing boat loaded and well tied on Le Manguier’s deck, we left King Cove towards the False Pass where we spent the night before undertaking the 220-nautical miles crossing of the Bristol Bay.
24 hours have been needed to join Cape Newenham, but it’s in Platinum where we choose to call in. There we meet with John & Mary, ours friends that we met in 2007 during our passage with Babouche (Seb & Lise).
Indeed, since our departure we discover and enjoy again places sailed before with our little boat, but this time we are in a perfect comfort!
Again, a big thanks to Philipppe, Le Manguier’s captain!

   

At sea ....
On "Le Manguier". First stopover and not the least, at the foot of the volcano Pavlov. And stopover in King Cove, where we are waiting the barge wich carry Babouchka. Then we will leave King Cove to join False Pass and the Béring sea.

   

Anchored down in Anchorage....
In Anchorage for a week, and after a first attempt to join Le manguier to Sand Point, we are waiting for the next flight to Sand Point...

   

The departure soon !
The last preparations before the departure to Alaska, in the Aleutian islands, where we will join Le Manguier who will take us (and Babouchka) to Nome, close to Bering Strait. Thanks to the Esprit team, to all our stars, to all our partners, to Le Manguier and its captain, to all helps... who allow us to begin the adventure.

   

A great partner enter "La voie du pôle"
As sponsor of “La Voie Du Pôle”, DP TECHNOLOGY Corp. has chosen a duo who exhibit the vision, passion and commitment for which the company and its worldwide team are recognized. As the innovative developer of ESPRIT® computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) software, DP Technology creates ingenious solutions to drive the powerful machine tools that build the world around us. DP has distributed roughly 65,000 licenses and ESPRIT is currently used to make everything from watches and jewelry to surgical instruments and automotive, aerospace and energy parts. As pioneers of the manufacturing industry, DP is proud to sponsor Sébastien Roubinet and Vincent Berthet in their environmental adventure through untested waters.

   

First slides
It is on the snow of Aubrac plateau that the new prototype made?its first surfings. Sebastian and Kalou did not slide much, due to the lack of wind and no hull soles! Until it has his new soles, it was a nice first meeting between the black beetle and the white and frozen surface, its future playground.

   

Launch of the new prototype
Fresh out of the workshop, the new prototype designed and built by Sebastian (with the help of Hervé, Cyril and Denis) matures. There is still some work to do before the first test but its modifications, its new materials and its new lines attest of a successful work indeed... and keep us in suspense.

   

Following a happy event, Rodolphe decided not to leave, it is Vincent Berthet who is joining Sébastien in the adventure.

Vincent Berthet, 31, grew up in the world of the sea before taking an interest in polar environments. He traveled Alaska, Greenland, Patagonia, Spitsbergen, North Pole sea ice... by various means: walking, skiing, sailing, kayaking...

   



Comeback - Report of expedition.
It is not easy to explain our feeling concerning this expedition as it sounds not completed. However, it has been really an adventure, may be too short with only one month and a half but very intense and full of emotion. We have learned quite a lot on the human and technical aspects. Since four years until today we have been really supported by many persons for our project and finally they brought us much more than expected. Decision to come back to our departure point has been a very hard choice as we already had nearly 400 Nautical miles done (1/4th of the way) and the opposite way was not so evident. We were to face an opposite ice drift and the same difficulties as already done. However, we knew that it was the decision to be taken and the following days have shown us we were right. Twelve days later, the battery was definitely out of order. Now, our thoughts are for the next departure which we expect will be successful. Technically, we plan some changes. These 750 Nautical miles have been the best training to prepare our next departure. We definitively think that this hybrid boat is able to cross this incredible ocean. Both of us had a great time together and we have been fully able to sail Ti-babouche into the water and on the ice. Be sure that this welded and friendly team has decided to start again this expedition with a better knowledge of the icing conditions, the navigation to be decided and the material to be used. A month and a half itís already good but we would have preferred the satisfaction to join the North Pole and of course, the final arrival at Spitsbergen. Polar expeditions, since the beginning have been sometimes success, sometimes failures. In our case, we definitively think that we can do it and succeed. With a huge emotion, we think of all our friends who have helped or supported us. This sportive and scientific adventure is first of all a human adventure. For this kind of project, high partners are necessary and we wish to thank you to be one of these. We look forward to share with you this great adventure.

The Pole way has been the opportunity of meeting with: 13 polar bears, one grizzly, one boreal whale, many caribous, birds, shrimps, belugas, jellyfishes and fishes. A long way of 750 Nautical miles (Complete way was 1750), a permanent day without night and the last day a meeting with the moon. We had very few shouting matches, many crazy laughs and upon arrival our aching feet. Once again, thank you very much to all of you, our partners, our shore based team, our friends and last but not least our families. Without you, we would never have been able to put only a single finger in this polar dream.

   

August 7th
Babouche's crew call me this morning to tell me that they have no computer left, no battery any more. No picture of the day thus. Fortunately, the GPS and the phone still charge (directly on the solar panel). Good news ! Forecast is finally sunny and the morale as well !!! Wind is very uncertain, currently face, so they have to tack between the ice. But despite this they progress really well. Congratulation to them !

   

August 6th
Forecast is cloudy and cold, everything is fine ! Our race against the chase against the bad drift continue. Therfor our nights are short and our day of navigation longer and longer. We might navigate for 36 hours today if we are not too cold. The fog reduce the charm of the icy landscape but it is still wonderful. We don't talk too much each other because we just meet between the cabin and outside. We will make up for when the sun will be back again. So far the forecast and the ice-map allow us to go East. Then when we will be offshore of Prudhoe Bay, we will take South. It will be certainly with a lot of emotion that we will see the land.
7H33 PM : 73°27 155°51’2° and wet.
Bye and thanks for all your messages and support, it helps a lot.

   

August 5th - We progress !
After an heavy night, during which we drifted 11 mil North, we prefered to enjoy our sleeping-bags to leave the heavy wind behind (lighter than expected). Around 11AM, we finally got good conditions to leave with a face wind, 2 reefs, little jib and mainsail high up !! Despite this, we do not progress fast because the ice, that protect us from the waves, reduces our speed. I did 1 mil in 2H30 hours, a record !!! We went back in the freezing-fog but we finally found a way to overcome the cold in the feet: Rod is in sleepers in his over-boots, he puts only his wet boots to walk on the ice. Me, I change my socks every 3 hours and dry and warm them in my fleece jacket. Today we plane to stop for a sleep between midnight and 6 AM before continuing our way East/South-East away from the waves for 3/4 days left. Then we will cross South untill Prudhoe Bay, we will avoid ice as much as we can.

   

August 4th – Under the sunup sign !!!
This morning, 3AM, we woke up with a nice weather. Finally ! The sun !!!! I call Pierre Lasnier to decide of the suitable forecast. Afetr discussion, we decide to kee East with a slight South-West wind that ends-up South-East and pretty strong. Around 2PM, we cross a ice-sheets area that forced us to “tirer des bords” , we almost not move forward.... We thus decide to stop for a while, to rest and dry our clothes and sleeping bags under the cold but appreciable sun. We are now waiting for the changing wind East/North-East to avoid ice. August 6th, the wind is suppose to slow down so we can move on to the coast. It is 7PM, Rodolphe sleeps, we are going to eat and sleep overnight because we are very tired and we need forces for the crossing. We drift to N-NW at 0.7 knots.
Wind South/East 15 knots
Temp 0 +3°C
Pos 74°00N 157°50 W

   

August 3rd – Freezing fog
We are cold, but we move south since this morning, we are tacking between ice-sheets. We also passed a polar bear which was swimming south. Otherwise, still cold associated with a small rain. We shift every 2 hours, it is long and inside it is not so warm neither.

   

August 2nd – Finally the water....
We might have a good news : It is 3PM and we found water. A huge water area. Unfortunately, we have front wind so we move too far East. We are still quite North (74°22N) and the moving ice-sheets are still pretty present.... Too much present. We zigzag !! But until now (6:30PM), we still managed to sail on water, no ice area anymore. What a pity, it warmed-up our feet. We put our last dry clothes, let say not too humid, and study the way for the last 300 mils (3 times the distanse between the continent and Corsica). We keep an eye on the forecast and decide to cross direction Prudhoe Bay. We are still cautious because it is still possible to find ice-sheets to cross. We have to fill up water tank as well before leaving. The forcaste for the day is still the same, unpredictable : we had sun 6 times 2 minutes (time to take The bath), snow 3 times and rain 2 times. The rest of teh time was grey (sea) elefant. 10 PM we stop. We pushed the boat for 6 hours under the snow and the rain. We are cold and we are exhausted even though the water seems to be free of ice, we have to recover because a new challenge is waiting for us : the 300 miles until Prudhoe Bay.

   

august 1st
We must have done 6 milles on the ice towards south, but we end up 2 milles north of our initial position ! The principal is to move forward on the ice sheet, but this is not so easy because we have a front wind and we have to pull the boat and its 350 kg on unstable ice pieces. We walk, meter after meter... It snows a little, and we met a beluga swimming right under the boat, between the ice sheets. The visibility is not perfect, and the battery is really not reliable. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to send more messages.

   

july 31th
After a very humid night inside, but snowy and windy outside, we get quickly out because the wind is favourable and we know that it won't last. The ice map indicates us that the free water is only at 30 milles, so we do the best to hurry up. In spite of that, we have to keep concentrated and not make any mistakes. We start the progression with thousands of small ice-sheets with water in between. It's long, it's slow and tiring. It's 1 pm, lots of free water is apperaring. We start to believe that it's the end of the ice (which makes Rod quite sad). An hour after, we are on a similar area as the one that we had the same morning. We have a snow fall, west wind (10 to 15 knots), it's 8.30 pm, we are completely wet. We stop for today. We set up the tent on the rear trampoline and try to dry our wet clothes. Tomorrow, they won't have really dried, and they will be cold, hum what a nice moment ! But this wonderful polar landscape is worth it. We enjoy every single moment. Cheers !

   

july 30th
Weird day : water, chaos, some good ice-sheet, dreams, laughs, dispirited cries, and happiness !
I am lost but one thing for sure, it is wonderful to have a team-mate as Rodolphe. Arctic is really wonderful and always changing: when you wake up you don't know what will look like the place you felt asleep 9h before. Things change so fast ! Animals are abundant in summer: seals, polar bears (12), shrimps, fishes, crabs, birds, butterflies, and, since 3 days, thousands of little moths.
Otherwise, Rodolph has made a wonderful dive in the water and finished completely wet from head to toes. He had to change all clothes and warm-up quickly. Clothes attend to dry under the rain !!! Everything is fine onboard, battery is getting less and less charged but all equipments are full-charged and we are not worry.

   

july 29th
Since a few days, wa have problems charging the battery. Last night, none of our electronical equipments were working. After analysing the problem with a marine electricity expert (thanks to François Girard de Teem), the diagnostic is fatal, the battery is out of order...
This problem means that within a few days, we won't be able to communicate, or to use our navigation and scientific equipments, or camera and video camera. On top of that, we have some minor technical problems (skis, rudder blade skates...) ; we could fix them, but they are among many signs that push us to take a hard decision : we have to turn back, as long as we can do so. Indeed, without any battery (and without communication means) it would have been very dangerous to continue (let's imagine a medical problem, without any medical assistance by phone, and with an uncertain navigation...). We took this decision today, we turn around because it's still possible to do so by our own means. More north in the Arctic, the winds and currents would have prevented us to come back. We are terribly disappointed by that decision, but we remain confident in the principle (sailing boat - ice yacht) because the 20 days of progression between ice and water proved us the smooth functioning of Ti-Babouche. It's only postponed, not cancelled ! The expedition will start again later on. We'll have an advantage : these days spent on different types of ice, in real conditions. We are convinced that it will work. We really want to thank all our partners, friends, all of those who follow us and support us. For us, the expedition is not over because we still need 1( days or so to reach the land. We'll keep you posted as much as we can.

   

Impossible to wrap it up
We nearly managed to stay dry the whole day to finally finish both of us in the water in the evening. Our stuff tend to dry in the humid fog. The last 24H have been pretty cold, the water surface froze on 3.4 mm and the stems which broke the ice make a nice noise. No time to appreciate it because sudenly a polar bear approachs. Quick, the fire crackers, rockets and camera ! He is within easy reach. The polar bear approachs slowly, sniffs us, and sits on an iceblock. He is at home. Seb moves the boat to the water thinking that he might not approach them too fast. I hoist hurriedly the gennaker to impress him but I all tangled up with. Oups !!! Finally, we continue our way without paying attention to him and it worked, he grows tired to follow us. Nice pictures for Lise's birthday. Hard progression, small repairing, missing wind and surface ice slow down our progression. Arctic kisses...

   

July 26th - Wind ahead
Short day : 7 nautical miles with wind ahead. It was sunny 20 times, rain 10 times and fog 19 times, but tonight, it's nice and our effects can finally dry.We will be able to get dressed and lie in a dry sleeping bag, happiness !
The drift of the ice took over in the right direction. Only we hope of good run.Technically, a small problem with battery charging but that's it.Technically, a small battery charging problem but we solved the problem.
Wind :  NW 4/6 knots
Pos : 74°11N 161°59W

   

July 25th
10 miles covered today, some sun, some wind, we could dry our effects : everything is fine on board. But the fog quickly returned and feet are always wet and cold, a good paella will warm it, thank you SAI !

South wind 3/8 nds
Temp. -2 +5°C
Pos. 74°05 N  161°55 W

   

July 24th - Listless as the time
Soft time, weariness late in the day, nonchalance, silence, not enthusiastic.
Some seals watch us to push, pull, slalom, and walk on water. yes, we improve to walk on water.
But we progress in spite of this "Pot au blanc" and it will not go on forever, our weather  staff told us that wind get up Wednesday. Thank you to our dear frogs (Anne-lise and Roman).
The answer to yesterday's question is "too often, but we improve. Bye

   

July 23th - North Wind and repair
Last night we heard a whale blow near to the boat but we don’t see it : too foggy.After many hours beating with 3 knots of wind, between water and ice (not very effective but we are still going North), we decided to stop to stick again a piece of midsection of skis wich ripped off 3 days ago on a compression crests. Repair, maintenance, cleaning : we are ready to leave tomorrow with South-East wind, normally!
Statistics : 350 nautical miles from the river and 160 nautical miles from Barrow. North  Wind 0/3 knots. Position 73°31N 161°28W.

   

July 22th - lakes melting
Seb, where are you? There is so much fog that I do not see you ! Rod, I'm here in my sleeping bag next to you ! Come on, let's go, we must progress despite that no wind.
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In brief, we are happy to be here. The terrain is favorable, it's a good thing. After the chaos, it feels good. Imagine some big sheets of ice as far as the eye can see, all linked, with many lakes melting on surface. Ti-sbabouche makes its way alternating ice and water.

We launched a game, a riddle : How many times in one day, you think we go into the water ? Think it, bye.

   

uly 21th - Water, ice, polar bear
This morning before we left, a bear came around the boat, we watched each other a long time, it seemed very curious but too impressed by the boat. Then he passed on his way to the South and we to the North !
The ice finally looks like the first-year ice (approximately 1.20m thick and white) but it is sprinkle with lakes melting (50/100). We're still not very fast because no wind but ice conditions are improving so we should speed up in the coming days.

   

July 20th - White Day
because laundry day
But mainly because behind two compression crests, we finally found white and less chaotic ice. Wind is very light but doing well. There are many lakes melting but still too small to sail more than 20 meters. We passed the 73 N, we finally going North!! Our West position is due to drift but it will serve us for later because it should make us enjoy more before the winds and currents. Temp. -1/7°C

   

July 19th - where is the way ?

Long day in the fog and chaos. BIG CHAOS! Slalom through the canyons of ice, no wind. We are in a hurry to change area ! Besides, the water was beautiful, we were amazed by its purity and transparency. We saw too some animals (seals, sea gulls, fish and shrimp). By late afternoon (23:30) we executed the measurements and scientific sampling.

   

july 18th : water and "mostly" ice
Difficult progression today again. They made a total of 16 milles whose 5 going south to avoid compression crests (7m high !). All this in the fog ! But the mental is good, and they continue improving their techniques of sailing in the chaos !

   

july 17th
Ti-Babouche traveled 22 miles with 7 due to their drift during their sleep time. More and more ice, but chaotic ice and still water. This is a surface that does not slide easily. So they towing, feet in water. This day has been physically proving. But they have a good frame of mind with sun !
They are eager to reach the "pack", large plates and / or large lakes melting.

   

july 16th
24 milles today, between water and ice. Difficult progression for 2 reasons : the bad ice condition ; and Seb & Rodolphe have to get their bearings. They are aware that the ice conditions will get better and better when they will be further north, and that an expedition start is always more tiring. It should be only better in the coming weeks then !!

The beginning of the day was marked by bear prints around the boat… He/they might have been frightened by the boat, nothing more occured !

   

July 14th - A second start.... Right North !
Satellite phone retreived, Sebastien and Rodolphe finally go back to the sea. They left Barrow yesterday direction North Pole ! A small detour that will cost them a lot (in time) on the whole trip schedule. But satellite phone is essential, this stop was, thus, incontrovertible. They took advantage of it with some checkouts on the boat and get ready for the second start, this time, right North !

2 novelties on the website:
- Cartography to follow Ti-Babouches' progress
- In few days, a Website in English (Thanks to Valentine Ribadeau Dumas).

   


The Ocean..finally.

Sebastien and Rodolphe just reached the Arctic Ocean. For the past two days, they were struggling on the river that led them there.
We decided not to speak of this step on the little river on the website in order to not feed any speculation while they were in the risky area, close to the restricted oil zone.
Now that they are on the ocean, here is the story of this difficult passage with water, rocks and tundra!
As they did not have direct access to the ocean (let’s not talk about the restriction in the area…), Sebastien and Rodolphe together with Vincent (there for filming and in the end, to help them pull the boat) decided to go on the Sagavanirktok River, the "Sag River" as they call it, 30 miles away from its mouth.
But at this place, the river ended up being a real maze and our three friends got lost a little…
Thanks to Mike and Bob (managers of the company “North 70” and our associates since our arrival in Prudhoe Bay) that have flown over by plane, we were able to inform them of their mistake in the trajectory.
It took 10 hours for them to get the boat across a 1km area of tundra and rocks in order to reach the right spot of the river that ultimately led to the ocean.
Thierry was able to meet them with the Mike and Bob’s plane to film but also to bring Vincent back on the mainland.

   

Here it comes “La voie du pôle” is among the starters

Finally, Sebastien and Rodolph took off this morning at 10 on board of Ti-Babouche. It is very moved but with a big smile that they delivered their last “good bye”. We are, you can imagine, as well very moved but very happy to see them leaving to the ice floe which thrilled them so much ! Thierry qnd Vincent will leave in few days, while Jean-Maurice, Anouk and I we take the road back to Anchorage with our “loyal” Campe

   

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Our convoy has nearly completed the journey to the Alaskan north coast.
We are about to start the last stage along the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to near Prudhoe Bay. Even though the way has been long, the past two weeks have been an enriching experience.
We have had our share of problems. First off, our initial plan was to launch from Prudhoe Bay, but that idea had to be scrapped. Prudhoe Bay is the only coastal village accessible by road, on the so-called Dalton Highway. But the oil company BP is drilling here, and has created a perimeter around its operations. It is not allowing access inside to anyone, and this includes access to the coast.
We have to find another way to get to the sea. There are other access points next to De!adhorse, the last village before the exploration zone, 15 kilometres south of the Prudhoe Bay. But they are accessible only by air. The only solution would be to airlift Ti-Babouche to the coast !
And to do that, we would have to persuade a helicopter company to pick up and haul our contraption.
In case this option will not succeed, we will have to return to Canada in Northwest Territories, exactly to the village "Inuvit" to start !
In any case the expedition will start at the beginning of July -- from Alaska or Canada.
Along the way, many thanks to Thierry Revechon who stayed with us from the beginning, looking for ways to keep us on track. His generosity and good sense have been more than helpful.
Thanks also to Thierry Robert and Séverine Cappa who have worked tirelessly to find a happy ending for our story. They are, respectively, the director and production manager for the film that is being made out of the expedition. We are lucky to have such a talented director and let’s not forget the equally talented crew who include cameraman Vincent Berthet and producer Nicolas Zunino.

   

 





 

 

 

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