31-Jul-2004 -- Imram is a prototype of a 12.50m
aluminum sailboat, the Integral
which is designed to sail in arctic waters. After a
successful travel from France to Greenland in 2003, the 2004 sailing
program was focussed to reach the north of Norway and then traverse
the Barents sea to explore remote Spitzberg islands, the closest you
can get to the North Pole on liquid water, that means without an
icebreaker. With a group of friend we had mounted a real expedition
and, among other targets, confluence-hunting was in the plans.
These regions well above the Arctic circle are rich in confluences,
since parallels are quite close to each other and offer a fantastic
landscape, prefectly explored with a sailboat. The weather is
unforgiving for many months a year and this summer announced itself to
be the perfect confluence-visiting season. After a successful visit to
69N16E, the next not-visited spot (or so we believed at the time) on
our route North was 70N20E, a nice round number.
On July 31st, 2004 we left the harbour of Tromso, where we had fixed
one of our rudders which had broken in the collision with a small
iceberg, off the coasts of Greenland. The plan was to sail through the
last fjord and aim north toward our arctic adventure, passing through
70N20E on our way. The night, or better the clear sky in a magic
sunset glow, typical of these latitudes, saw us leaving definitly
behind us the amenities of land and steer first North East and then
With little wind, the engine of Imram quietly propelled the boat for
almost 40 miles, getting closer to our target. The sun was well up,
and a magnificent sunny day presented us with mountains capped by
perennial snow, degrading in gentle hills constituting the edges of
the fjord. In front of us, we could see the mouth of the fjord, and
the start of our open-sea trip nortward.
At about 0540 UTC we reached the 70 parallel and, with a known
technique for confluence-hunting on heavy boats, tuned for 69N16E
and 43N10E, we started following it eastward till crossing the 20
meridian: 70N20E was visited and the board GPS frozen in the ritual
picture (Picture #5) at 0551 UTC.
Time to appreciate the magnificent scenery of the norvegian mainland
to the South (Picture #1), the shores of the fjord to the East
(Picture #2) and to the West (Picture #3) and in front of us the last
small islands to the North (Picture #4) before the nothingness of the
Barents sea, before preparing a hearthy breakfast for the confluence
hunting crew: a Neapolitan speciality, fried pasta, to celebrate a
birthday on board.
Soon the time to hoist our sails came, and off we were toward the arctic
North (Picture #6).