July 12, 2013
The "Quest Through the Pole" Begins in Barrow
We've recently been following the progress of the Arctic Joule as her crew attempt to row through the Northwest Passage, and now comes news of another expedition across the Arctic, this time powered by the wind.
Babouchka is "a special boat capable of sailing over water and ice", and she set sail from Barrow, Alaska on July 6th. Crewed by Sébastien Roubinet and Vincent Berthet, their joint quest is:
To cross the 3,300 kilometers that lay between Barrow, Alaska, and Spitsbergen, Svalbard — and crossing the North Pole as they go.
Their sails filled with the same easterly winds that have bedevilled the Arctic Joule, here's a GPS record of Babouchka's progress so far:
The July 8th entry in their English language journal says:
Sebastien and Vincent left Barrow at around 4pm on July 6th, and sailed 6 nautical miles in free water from Point Barrow before reaching ice and had to decipher: lands of recent thin ice, blocks moved by tidal current, and large slabs with high pressure ridges across which they finally decided to push Baboushka during a few hours before stopping for setting up the "night" camp.
A few hours later, they moved upwind for a few nautical miles ahead on ice too thin to carry their weight. The afternoon was a little better with stabilized ice, and sails were up to help, but they waded in water most of the time. The reward was an evening camp on a large slab that drifts at 1 knot in the right direction! Let's hope they reached the Beaufort Gyre which will help them gain some distance while sleeping.
According to the team's Facebook page yesterday:
After 5 days… Sea ice is really chaos! Latitude: N 71°38.62, Longitude: W 158°14.49. Distance : 44.30 Nm = 82.05 km
Yesterday's French language journal entry, roughly translated into English by Google, says:
Hopefully, we'll sleep well because the wind has finally calmed down. Tomorrow we continue our journey W / NW to reach a more dense area of ice, which should enable us to accelerate and make a more direct route.
Perhaps the lighter winds will prove to be of assistance to the crew of the Arctic Joule too?
Finally, for the moment at least, if you're wondering what "sailing across ice" looks and sounds like, here's a video of a previous incarnation of Babouchka doing just that:
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