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the Degree Confluence Project
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Svalbard

39.4 km (24.5 miles) NE of Puddingen (Peak), Svalbard
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 80°S 166°W

Accuracy: 75 m (246 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Imram, the arctic sailboat #3: Scanning for icebergs with the board radar #4: Negotiating waters full of icebergs in low visibility #5: The GPS on the Confluence #6: View to the North of the Confluence #7: View to the East of the Confluence #8: View to the West of the Confluence #9: View to the South of the Confluence #10: A curious walrus swimming away

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  80°N 14°E (secondary) 

#1: The stunning view from (almost) the Confluence

(visited by Salvatore Mele, Peter Gallinelli and Imram)

15-Aug-2004 -- Imram (Picture #2) is a 12.50m aluminum sailboat, the prototype of a new series, the Integral , designed to explore the unforgiving arctic waters. Her maiden voyage brought her from France to the uncharted waters of Greenland in 2003 and then over to remote Svalbard islands in 2004.

The Svalbard islands are located as much North as you can get without an icebreaker, and only in Summer, and are a unique example of arctic wilderness. Infinite series of little-visited peaks offer themselves for mountaineering, remote spots host unique wildlife, and -most important in this context- they are a mine of not-visited confluences!

Among other targets of our trip, we planned on visiting some confluences on the 80th parallel, and our attention fell on 80N14E, a secondary confluence, but nicely located at sea along our route circumnavigating the islands. After a first trip along the 80th parallel in dreadful weather conditions, where confluences were quite far from our mind, and anyhow the visibility was just a little bit more than nil, we approached the point again, a few days later, on August 15th 2004, and it was clear that we could make a visit.

A spell of good weather was giving a Mediterranean feeling to these remote arctic waters, and the decision was taken to sail through the confluence, directed by the experiences we had made during some earlier successful visits, such as 69N16E and 70N20E. We positioned ourselves along the 80th parallel, and with decreasing wind, brought down the foresail and called for our relatively silent yet powerful diesel engine to propell us along 80N toward its intersection with 14E. The view toward the South (Picture #1) was stunning: we could see the little visited North coast of Spitzberg, the largest of the Svalbard islands, with its perennial snow, its glaciers falling into the sea, and a typical fog forming close to the water. All around us, the empty infinity of arctic waters, which at these latitudes are covered in ice almost year-round.

By the time we were on the confluence, this innocent fog had turned into a denser and denser affair, and the navigation had to proceed by radar (Picture #3). Sailing such a boat in the land of the icebergs is indeed a dangerous business, and on other occasions (Picture #4) we had not hesitated to send a crew member up the mast to find a better way out of the ice in such little visibility.

After a few minutes in the fog, and a northward correction to our course as we had actually drifted below the 80N, the board GPS told us that 80N14E was right below our hull (Picture #5): time to take the pictures of our surroundings to the North (Picture #6), East (Picture #7), South (Picture #8) and West (Picture #9)... all remarkably equal in the fog.

Our travel continued, toward other adventures, with the visit of a curious walrus coming to check us out, before diving and swimming away from us, like a mysterious northern siren... (Picture #10)


 All pictures
#1: The stunning view from (almost) the Confluence
#2: Imram, the arctic sailboat
#3: Scanning for icebergs with the board radar
#4: Negotiating waters full of icebergs in low visibility
#5: The GPS on the Confluence
#6: View to the North of the Confluence
#7: View to the East of the Confluence
#8: View to the West of the Confluence
#9: View to the South of the Confluence
#10: A curious walrus swimming away
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Notes
In the ocean, but with a view of land