September 4, 2013
Admiral Makarov Meets Babouchka in the Central Arctic
As we reported two days ago, the Russian diesel-electric icebreaker Admiral Makarov was heading north across the Central Arctic Basin to rescue Sébastian Roubinet and Vincent Berthet, the crew of the catamaran Babouchka, who said that they had been surprised by "a sudden change in conditions". That sudden change was captured from space by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2 for short) aboard the Japanese SHIZUKU satellite. Here's an animation built from high resolution images derived from AMSR2 data, and provided by the University of Hamburg. It covers the period from August 21st to August 31st:
The last position reported by the GPS aboard Babouchka was from 82.186 N, 171.1318333 W at 17:43 French time yesterday, which is above and to the left of the grey disc around the North Pole, between the 75 N and 85 N circles of latitude. As you can see from the animation, the concentration of sea ice over a vast area around Babouchka changed dramatically over that 10 day period. Firstly there was a sudden decrease in sea ice concentration, followed by an almost equally rapid increase.
This morning according to Sébastien Roubinet's web site (and translated from the original French)
This morning at 3:30 local time, we noticed a speck on the horizon, it was the Admiral Makarov. Time to finish putting everything away, and then it is moored to our ice sheet. The crew give us a sign then approach us, we leave with the feeling we are abandoning our teammate Babouchka.
With the crane, they lower a cage for us to embark on board. Vincent goes first, I joined him and then we were told: "we will embark Babouchka". Fifteen minutes later, all three of us are on board, and we are heading south at 14 knots through ice.
The crew welcomes us with a smile, showing us to our cabin and insisting that we should not hesitate to take a shower! After the shower, breakfast (a large block of brawn 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 (out of the 9 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 2/3 days.
Here's a picture of Babouchka finishing this year's "Quest Through The Pole" by covering the last few metres towards the Admiral Makarov:
Do you suppose it will be third time lucky for Séb Roubinet in 2014?
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