Friday 4 January 2008 à 18:03

En route to Dumont d’Urville

Par Anne Goffart. Correspondent aboard the Astrolabe

A strong sea and high winds of as much as 50 knots last night (about 92 km/h) are making it difficult to cross to Dumont d'Urville in Adelie Land.

The sea is breaking on the Astrolabe. We are surprised because weather predictions were for 15 knots.

The Astrolabe.

Still this harsh experience is useful. The meteorological information provided by ships in transit is essential to improving forecasts in these little-frequented seas. The crew of the Astrolabe transmits this information every day to an international database.

On board the Astrolabe.

Another view on board.

The storm is making the ship pitch strongly and making some passengers on board ill. I should specify that we do not all have our sea legs. Only the oceanographers are used to the swells. The other passengers comprise in the majority the relief team for the land scientists in assorted programs on terrestrial or atmospheric environments supported by IPEV.

Some passengers have been seasick since the beginning of the crossing. They are waiting in the bunks day after day for the arrival at Dumont d'Urville. Pierre Lejeune and Anne Goffart, who are part of the CEAMARC team on the Astrolabe, have been spared thanks to their experience. Fortunately, once on land, all this will be quickly forgotten. Arrival is anticipated tomorrow morning.

Pierre Lejeune, Anne Goffart (mission leader), Alain Pottier (IPEV) and Stanislas Zamora (captain).

This morning, the sea is magnificent. We encounter a whale as we pass 60° S.

By e-mail, we finalize the last preparations and settle the final questions with Philippe Koubbi, who is still in France before leaving for Antarctica. When we arrive at the Dumont d'Urville base, we will have to set up the scientific mission and unload the provisions and materiel necessary for the next over-wintering from the Astrolabe.

Stéphanie Pavoine, Thomas Romero (glaciologist), David Lazin (ornithologist) and Anne Goffart (mission leader).

One subject is on all our minds: the ice pack! This year, it seems to be staying longer than expected along the coast of Adelie Land. The Astrolabe needs to come alongside to unload the materiel. We hope this will not delay the mission.



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