September 29, 2013

Tara Reaches the Open Waters of Lancaster Sound

According to the Tara Expeditions web site:

Tara is a legendary boat built for extreme conditions.

We last heard of her from Vincent Berthet, who along with Sébastian Roubinet unexpectedly boarded Tara in Pevek, Russia before sailing in her across the Chukchi Sea and then disembarking in Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. Tara then continued from Tuk, sailing along the southern route of the Northwest Passage. In the latest news from Tara this morning, the expedition web site announced:

The Northwest Passage is behind Tara!

The Northwest Passage is behind Tara!

That announcement is perhaps slightly premature, since strictly speaking she needs to continue south until the Arctic Circle has been crossed before claiming to have completed her west to east voyage through the Northwest Passage in 2013. Nonetheless she has certainly completed the hard part! Here's what Tara's tracking map shows at the moment:

Tara's track at 07:54 UTC on September 29th 2013

Tara's track at 07:54 UTC on September 29th 2013

As the map suggests, Tara's next planned port of call is Arctic Bay on Canada's Baffin Island. After that she's heading on to Ilulissat in Greenland, then back to Canada in Québec, before crossing the North Atlantic back to France in plenty of time for Christmas! As luck would have it there was a break in the clouds over Tara's route yesterday, and here's what NASA Worldview reveals of the view from the Aqua satellite:

Aqua satellite view of the CAA on September 28th 2013, using bands 7-2-1

Aqua satellite view of the CAA on September 28th 2013, using bands 7-2-1

The blue tint to the image is because it is created using Aqua's MODIS sensor bands 1, 2 and 7. In the image open water is dark blue, ice is pale blue and the many clouds are white. As you can see, whichever route Tara chose, she must have come quite close to some sea ice. She nonetheless appears to have emerged unscathed out into the currently ice free Lancaster Sound, and can continue on her journey in increasingly uninhibited fashion. Perhaps this picture gives us a clue to how she managed that feat?

A Canadian icebreaker leads Tara towards Lancaster Sound

The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent leads Tara towards Lancaster Sound

As you can see from the first image, the crew of Tara are very interested in what the IPCC were up to in Stockholm last week, as are we. There's sure to be more on that topic from in the near future, as well as on the last stages of Tara's 2013 Arctic circumnavigation.

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Comments on Tara Reaches the Open Waters of Lancaster Sound »

October 2, 2013

Jim @ 5:42 pm

The Tara Expedition website reports today that:

On Saturday, an extremely stable anti-cyclone presided over the northern Canadian Nunavut region, allowing Tara to sail in perfect weather conditions. At dawn, Tara entered the Prince Regent Inlet, scattered with new ice typical at this time of year as the ice pack begins to reform. ??

In the morning, Tara’s captain, Loïc Vallette received a radio message from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent inviting Tara to be escorted. This enabled Tara to cross a barrier of 100 km in half a day, through ice 15 cm thick covering 95% of the surface. Without help from the Canadians, the schooner would have taken a lot more time, including a crucial slalom in the dark between new and old ice floes.??

This time saved was put to use on Sunday. The purpose of this expedition is not to realize an exploit, but to bring back a maximum of good quality samples. The scientific team went back to work and enjoyed exceptional weather conditions while conducting a 48-hour scientific station in Lancaster Sound.??

Tara is in Arctic Bay (Canada) and will leave for Pond Inlet tomorrow.

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