28-Jul-2004 -- Imram is a prototype of a 12.50m
aluminum sailboat, the Integral
which is designed to sail in arctic waters (Picture #2). After a
successful travel from France to Iceland and Greenland in 2003, the
2004 sailing program was focussed to reach and explore remote
Spitzberg islands, the closest you can get to the north pole on liquid
water, that means without an icebreaker.
This was a unique confluence-visiting chance, since so far north many
of those magic round-numbers spots sit close to each other. In
addition, a sailboat gives access to the most difficult points to
visit, which at these latitudes are sometimes the only one can think
of visiting at all.
A crew change and last arrangements before traversing the Barents sea
brought us to the North of Norway, close to a few not-yet-visited
confluences, which were readily added to the expedition plan.
On July 28, 2004, after having spent a short night moored to a rotten
old jetty in remote Rysøysund, and having profited of a small local
shop for fresh yoghurt and bread, mooring lines were cast off and we
started sailing north with a nice southerly breeze of 3 to 4 Bf. A
gorgeous "Mediterranean" weather had blessed the Lofoten islands for a
few days, and the mood on board was great. Careful route calculation
brought us very close to the confluence point, in the middle of a
wonderfully scenic fjord. It was clear that with the wind and some of
the waves which had formed on the sea, there was no way to stop the 11
tons of fully loaded boat (mind, we had to survive a month in the
arctic, possibly more in case something went very wrong) right on the
magic spot, nor to keep her nicely in place while taking the due
pictures. As the scriba had already done for 43N 10E, the best strategy
was to first reach a the round-number parallel, and then head north
till the meridian crossing.
This we did, with some careful last minute correction to account for
the drift due to the wind and the waves and at 1029 UTC, 69N 16E was
consciously visited for the first time: a nice taste of success for
our future plans of visiting some confluences around 79N and 80N. The
ritual GPS picture was taken (Picture #3) and the fact was duly
entered in the onboard logbook (Picture #4).
North of us (Picture #1) we could see the mouth of the fjord, and the
rest of our route. To the East (Picture #5), South (Picture #6) and
West (Picture #7) the fascinating coastline of the Vesterålen islands.
Once out of the fjord, the 100 square meters of Imram's spinnaker were
hoisted (Picture #8), and we aimed North, sailing faster toward
the rest of our adventures (and confluences).