Logo 69Nord

Expedition Greenland - Ellesmere 2014
On the tracks of the Fram's second expedition


7th Oct, Sommarøy

On 2nd October 2 p.m. we enter the port of Sommarøy and anchor Southern Star at her berth. This last maneuver closes up a journey of 8,400 nautical miles (15,550 kilometers) started four and a half months ago during which we could meet successfully our mission of reaching the winter harbours of the second expedition of the Fram. We have come across wild and untouched lands, panoramas that left us voiceless, welcoming and enquiring communities. We have been immersed in the history of the Fram and had not figured out at the beginning how close we would go to Otto Sverdrup's expedition. More than once we had the feeling that the Fram could join us at mooring or that some expedition's members could appear in the breathtaking landscapes of Ellesmere Island.
We bring back from this successful expedition many photos, drawings and even more, emotions that we will try to share with you in articles and exhibitions. All this remains to be organized.

I wish to express my warm thanks to the 30 crew members who have embarked with us and allowed this expedition to materialize.
I wish to particularly thank my permanent crew Charles Mirassou and Virginie Guarin, who have taken up this challenge with enthusiasm, toughness and professionalism. My special thanks go to Gabriel Pitras and Laurine Deboulogne who have tirelessly immortalized moments, atmospheres, encounters or scenes in conditions sometimes difficult, as well as to Pierre-Charles Gueroult, loyal crew member and ship preparator, he is in all adventures and off-season navigation, ice, extreme latitude, nothing scares him. To Roger Pitras for managing our French base, to Vonne Blanchet who has taken care of our website during the expedition and to Laurence Frémion for the logistics and administrative support and managing our base in Sommarøy.

This is the end of our 2014 polar campaign: many thanks to you all and see you again soon for the future activities of 69NORD.

30th Sept , Lødingen
68°25’N - 16°E

28th Sept
Sandnesjøen, 66°01’ N - 12°38’ E

27th Sept - 18:00 UTC
Brønnøysund, Norway

19:00 local time: We leave Brønnøysund in direction of Sandnessjøen where we shall find a shelter before the second low comes upon us. Just a short ride but I am not sure about better possibilities further north.

26th Sept - 18:00 UTC
Brønnøysund, Norway

14:00 local time: After a real good night (finally !), we take on the first low. Strong fresh wind but no williwows and the ropes stand it. Situation is indeed bearable and we take this opportunity to have some rest.

25th Sept - 18:00 UTC
Brønnøysund, Norway

14:00 local time: Arrival in Brønnøysund, Norway. We set solid anchor with the big ropes for bad weather tied to a float. The harbour's headmaster is a bit worrying but agrees on having us on it staying there during the storm.

24th Sept - 18:00 UTC
64°12'N - 009°44'E

06:00 local time: We are struggling with irregular wind, gales, rain, indeed the rest breaks are rather spent maneuvering on the deck. We shall get closer to the coast slightly before Trondheim and will go between the islands of Frøya and Hitra then sailing in Frohavet ("the maiden sea" – should be easy-going…) in the direction of Rørvik. We are currently at 40 miles from both islands. We shall probably moor in Rørvik, looks difficult to go further with bad weather coming upon us.

23th Sept - 18:00 UTC
64°23'N - 005°24'E

20:00 local time: Indeed the ideal plan does not work, no Lødingen at sight, maybe Trondheim, maybe Rørvik, we'll see. The only thing I am sure of is that we have to be in a safe place before 48 hours. We'll see where we can go with this head wind. We are sailing under the mainsail, only three reefs, but the mainsail is out. We are at less than 500 miles from Sommarøy.

22th Sept - 18:00 UTC
63.29'N - 000°34'W

20:00 local time: We go at a good pace but weather is challenging. If we manage to go further well and model is confirmed, we should be able to reach the Vestfjord's bottom and more precisely the village of Lødingen on the 25th September, before a strong southern low reaches us and stays for a few days. This ideal scenario is not granted as it is based on wind zones that can vanish at any time and do not allow for a clear forecast. This southern route would bring us on the outsides from Trondheim on but still close enough to a shelter in case situation would worsen earlier than expected. Options are quite open for the time being and include interesting shelter possibilities.

21th Sept - 22:00 UTC
63°15'N - 007°16'W

20:25 local time: We are in very irregular winds but still move on and rather in the right direction, which is good. Cape 75/80 at 7.5 knots now, we are quasi in the north of the Faeroe islands.

14:35 local time: Yet we got the long-awaited air flow ! We can push on now. We follow route 63°15'N not to have to go further south. We should be able to reach the Norwegian coast without too bad weather, the question is more to have an idea of where we shall land and we'd prefer not to be too much contained into the insides. Ideally we'd reach the Lofoten, sail along the coast and be ready to seek for shelter if needed.

11:00 local time: We have now left the icelandic waters and get closer to the south of Faeroe islands. South wind starts to blow, we are not on the right route yet but it should not be too long before we are.
Weather is grey without rain, sea is grey without swell, sky is grey without thick clouds… Well, it must be the top of the anticyclonic dorsal. Last night was really dark, happy there are not too many holes on our way… We are now getting into an air flow in which we can't go too fast or we'll fall in another quiet zone. At least the flow does not go faster than we do.

20th Sept - 22:00 UTC
63°13'N - 012°40'W

20:00 local time: We are still on route 63°13N. We still do not know whether we shall be able to sail along the coast or whether we shall have to squeeze through the insides from Trondheim on. Tomorrow's grib shall indicate options. Otherwise, situation is rather good, we should get some south wind shifting to SW in 2-3 days, nothing rough. To be followed. We are at 822 miles to destination but following a cape 45° more south.
We have started the day with a bright sun but around 10-11 am, a cloudy front line has caught us and followed us. What we could get was gotten, last night was clear, Orion on front starboard, Pleiades larboard and northern lights steadily staying with us on the north, combined on the NW by the mysterious red light.

19th Sept - 22:00 UTC
63°10'N - 018°14'W

20:10 local time: Sails under outriggers we progress at 9-10 knots and we enjoy it as it shall last until tomorrow morning only. Sun, wind, no residual swell, rather a good visibility, scores of northern fulmars and two minky whales, a great farewell ! Island does it nicely. As it seems, the route heading south is confirmed, we shall stay below 63°N for a while.

12:45 local time: We are at 848 miles to destination, distance is shrinking mile after mile. For the time being, we are in the expected quiet zone and quite roll on a well formed sea. Last night, a redish light in our NW sky was intriguing, we first thought about some city lights but this was far too red for being the case. What about the volcano Bardarbunga ? In any case, the light seemed to come from that origin, or potentially the Vatnajokull area. We are waiting for a southern wind now, staying on 63°14'N. This route shall lead us to the Faeroe islands.

14th Sept - 22:00 UTC
63°26' N - 020°16' W

We are moored to port Heimaey, the main island of Vestmann.
The entrance is particularly impressive at the foot of cliffs of lava. We are delighted all to be able to have a complete night..

20:00 local time: We continue our good pace but with the wash-out programme on as we have a strong sea on ours ide. But we only have 94 miles left and this is the final run at 8-9 knots. We also have some fog and the radar watch is on.
Last night we saw two UROs (unidentified Radar Objects). The echo was strong, visible, was moving with the wind and was close to us between 0,5 and 2 miles. The night has not enable us to identify them but we think about a rain column as in the first case, the URO was not larger than 200-300 m wide and the second one, approx. 500 meters wide. The first object passed us on our back and the second one in front of us, at about ¾ mile.

13th Sept - 22:00 UTC
61°40'N - 25°17'W

19:50 local time: After a night and a day of strong wind we should be able to land tomorrow evening in the Vestmann, unless the wind decreases, to be followed. We all dream of a long sleep and a good fresh beer, plus French fries for my part.
As always it is strange to think we no longer need to watch the ice. However we may come across more traffic, fishing boats maybe. The sea remains tough… Looking backwards, the navigation has been quite tough since we left Nuuk, and even when the wind gets softer, we have to struggle with flapping sails. But we have a good pace on average and this is the most important.
We shall change to Icelandic time (TU) when we arrive there and to CEST time (TU+2) as soon as we leave Iceland, i.e. for the last leg, we won’t have any time difference with Norway and Europe.

10:30 local time: We are entering the 200 miles economical zone of Iceland. The wind has shift to south as expected and we now get a side wind at 8 knots. Conditions should worsen a bit in the next hours with a stronger wind and more towards us but we should be able to maintain our direction to the Vestmann. I chose these islands as it is not so easy to visit them when traveling to Iceland, like one could go to Grindavik for instance. This way, we shall have visited both most northern and southern inhabited islands of Iceland.
The ship is no longer rolling but the sea is getting more and more wavy. Normally we should arrive tomorrow in the evening or in the following morning. We are at 247 miles of our target.

12th Sept - 22:00 UTC
60°27' N - 030°23' W

08:10 local time: We had a very nice progression today, regularly between 8 and 10 knots. Southern Star obviously enjoys sailing in big swell, wind stays steadily on our back and we play with the outriggers to adjust small changes. Yesterday, we had the visit of a small bird (not clearly identified yet) and fed him with wet bread so that it could drink, butter and seeds we could take from our bread. It has well eaten, drunk and rested and then flew away.
We have just came under the 500 miles limit to destination Iceland. It is reasonable to estimate we might arrive in three days, on the 14th September evening. Of course it is still too early to be precise.
Tonight we’ll have lasagna prepared by Virginie who is doing a great job as at 9 knots, it can be rolling and shaking hard ! We can’t wait for our dinner.

11th Sept - 22:00 UTC
59°45' N - 036°13' W

10:30 local time: We are in a strong fresh SW wind stream which pushes us towards our destination. We shall in principle exit the ice zone during the next night but shall nevertheless keep the radar watch as I still keep fresh in my memory this image of a big iceberg appearing a morning well beyond the 300 miles limit whereas we had decided to stop watching that very night. This was in 1999 when we were existing the North-West passage. We shall therefore keep cautious beyond the limit recommended by the Arctic Pilot.
Last night, we could observe a fantastic aurora borealis in the north despite the full moon, it must have had a particularly strong intensity.


10th Sept - 22:00 UTC
58°52' N - 041°55' W

19:55 local time: We had to shift the outrigger. The ship goes quite fast but the sails’s balance is delicate. We shall have to shift them again after the day’s PR. Horizon 3 days, the deep low that blows in the Labrador Sea should clear Cape Farewell and shall blow S/SE wind onto SW Iceland. For the time being, the model goes until 14th September 2 am UTC and does not allow to predict whether it shall weaken, head towards the Denmark Strait, stay in the south or become stronger. This low shall be key to our landing conditions and I am eager to get the new grib. Until then, we should have a nice sailing run during the night with a strong fresh SW wind at 15-20 knots. We could still see a table iceberg at 58°19'N - 044°34'W.

9th Sept - 22:00 UTC
58°08' N - 046°40' W

20:00 local time: We should clear Cape Farewell’s longitude on 58°N around 2 am this night. Weather forecast is rather good for our run to Iceland. For the time being, we sail at 9 knots, still under outrigger. The ship is behaving well and we are back to a comfortable pace under back winds.

10:30 local time: Now that wind calms down a bit, we can send out sail. I am curious to study the new model, yesterday’s was predicting a 20-knot back wind over the next four days (20 knots on the grib can give some actual 25/30 knots, which is perfect for sailing). Our option to position the ship back to wind has worked very well. We have been as close as possible to the center of the low without falling in its vortex. We should send out more sail to keep our speed when the sea becomes more quiet.
The hard cover we had above our heads since we left Nuuk has now given place to a post-low sky (CuCo 6/8th) which leaves a large space to the sun. We are heading towards 58°N parallel, which we should follow to clear Cape Farewell. The ice chart of yesterday suggests icebergs only above 59°N but we keep watching. The crew is drained out but they shall recover soon.


8th Sept - 22:00 UTC
58°48' N - 051°35' W

20:00 local time: We are still entangled in the bad weather’s mechanics. One after the other, watches show more smiles on the faces of those who leave the deck than those who come onto it. But generally faces come back to life and laughters break while watching. The situation is stable and “Southern Star” is behaving very well. Of course we are very much eager to see the end of the low, which should happen tomorrow in the late morning. The moon is full which is good as we keep a clear night despite the cloud cover. We have not seen any iceberg for two days and do not complain about it.

13:00 local time: We are now heading towards Cape Farewell. Tasks succeed fast to the other and rest breaks meld like snow in the sun. We are now in the storm, with a sea tougher than wind actually. A tiny piece of each sail under outrigger still gives us a 7-8 knot speed. Everything goes fine but the crew is tired and some of them, although onboard for some time, have not eaten for 30 hours. We keep it up with Charles, the first mate, and the ship remains comfortable inside despite now the wash-out program is running. We should keep these conditions until tomorrow mid-morning.

7th Sept - 22:00 UTC
60°42' N - 054°46' W

20:00 local time: Rain, rain, rain since yesterday and we can’t help having a thought for sailboats which face such conditions without having our equipment. On Southern Star, the cockpit is dry and so are our clothes, the inner is warm and smells good the rice pudding prepared by Virginie for the night watch. Of course when the wind shall increase, our mood may change, but we shall keep having decent navigation and comfort conditions, at least I hope for it. For an hour we head towards cape 175, i.e. we have stopped sailing to the west tacking for a good positioning in the low to come. We are still not on the planned route but this should come shortly. We have not seen a single iceberg today, indeed visibility was bad but I assume we are off their road. We might come across of it again when we get closer to the east of Cape Farewell. Of course we keep the radar watch.

10 :30 local time : We are still tacking towards SW to get positioned favorably when the low strikes. The air is humid, a bit windy as of now but not too much, some crews are sea sick but especially all have difficulties to adapt to the 2-shift rhythm and be on duty 12 hours a day. At least the inside of the boat is dry, warm and comfy. In principle, we shall be able to go eastwards in the late afternoon today and shall incept stronger winds during the night and for about 24 hours, allowing us to progress fast.

6th Sept - 22:00 UTC
63°01' N - 052°29' W

19:50 local time : On the road towards a low that does not exist yet, or the principle of the crystal ball. We are heading towards 210, to avoid a low which does not exist yet. Whatever happens, should the model be right, we shall be well positioned to get the kick in our back. For the time being, we had a nice day without wind but some residual swell rolls us quite strongly, although we do not feel like being in a washing machine. This morning, before we left Greenland's coast, two humpback whales and about a hundred seals came close to us to say farewell, a beautiful departure image. We saw only one iceberg since we are offshore, which shall allow us to have a good night. Radar is on of course but growlers would be difficult to detect in such a swell. Let's remember that a floe does not need to be big to be dangerous: a bloc of 10 cubic meters weights 1,000 metric tons and floats above the surface by about 1.50 meters only. Luckily, such pieces are seldom and the few ones we could encounter in deep waters would be mostly along with bigger icebergs which they would have calved from, detectable with the radar. We have just left the continental shelf and now have quite deep water under the ship, swell should smooth and the sea become easier to sail.
Watches now succeed one to the other on a regular shift of 3 hours at night and 4 hours during the day. Everybody is treated the same as I have made only two teams so as to leave Virginie, our cook, off duty.

06:00 local time : We can now depart from Nuuk harbor. According to weather forecast we'll sail SW first to reach 55W then proceeding South to 58N then West to clear Cape Farewell and sail the direct route to Iceland.

5th Sept – 22:00 local time

We are still under the storm in Nuuk but winds should decrease soon. We are waiting for the new grib that shall provide with 8-day forecast and maybe we’ll depart in the afternoon, to be confirmed.

2nd Sept 15:20 local time

We are closely following the vulcano Bardarbunga’s eruption in Island, which we shall in principle circumnavigate via the Southern route. For the time being, a low is expected in Nuuk’s region and we might have to be patient.

1st Sept - 0:00 local time

We are eventually arrived in Nuuk one day ahead of schedule and it is pretty busy already. Next crew members arrive in the late morning. This leg has been a great one with many achievements. A good team, good weather conditions, the touch of adversity to remind us we were on the edge of the world and in particular, all winter harbours reached. This port call in Nuuk should be short and we are planning to leave on 4th September.

31 and 30 August - 20:00 local time
64°08' N - 051°23' W

29 August - 20:00 local time
64°55' N - 052°46' W

28 August - 20:00 local time
65°24' N - 052°53 W

5h00: We sail at 8.5 knots with the yankee under outrigger, it works perfectly well. We were admiring an fantastic aurora today, could be a view on the side, incredibly dense, southwards and as I have never seen in 20 years of observation. Difficult to describe exactly but it was like a gush of energy or lava, fluid and dense, but upside down, from top to bottom. A fascinating phenomenon that hast last for about a minute. Northern light activity has last the whole night long and sometimes with a high intensity, green or red lights and moving.
Needless to say the crew is deeply satisfied, after such a nice day in the countryside of Greenland. Now we go to the city and should arrive around 6 pm, where I hope we'll be able to berth, ideally.

27 August - 20:00 local time
66°52' N - 053°33' W

26 August - 20:00 local time
66°58' N - 054°11' W

6h30: A sunrise red as embers despite a low cloud cover. In about 30 miles we shall get back to the insides leading to Aasiaat which we took on our way on. Surprisingly, we sail alongside the coast at about 20 miles but have no current against us, where is it ? Waters are absolutely ice-free. Could it be that the whole Baffin Bay is that hot ?

25 August - 20:00 local time
69°16' N - 055°35' W

4h00: The wind is completely gone as per GRIB's forecast. Water gets really quiet and we are not too much rolling, which is rather comfortable. I will try not to stop before Manisoq despite a southern contrary wind at sight, as it should be moderate and short. I prefer to make sure we can reach Manitsoq, as on the edge of the model I can see a low that might turn tough for a while.

24 August - 20:00 local time
71°05' N - 060°37' W

We had a very nice sunny Sunday afternoon, a sweet breeze blowing regular on sails without flapping, all in all very quiet times. For about an hour, wind gets changing again and reduces our comfort and increases pressure on sails, which suffer. The GRIB forecast that wind totally vanishes during the night and bring us to use the engine for ca 36 hours until a south wind blows. N such case we would moor somewhere and wait for the shift. Watch duty rhythm has been set and the bell ringing announcing meals and watch shifts give our tempo. Icebergs are not many.
With the return of the night, we can enjoy the warm colours of sunrise and sunset when weather allows. Weather has totally changed although the wind is blowing from the north. We have 7-8°C now and it is incredibly hot inside the boat despite the heater is off.

24 August - 8:30 local time

We can feel that the window is closing and that time has come to head towards south We see many migrating birds while sailing and gale comes more and more along with snow. We still have 610 miles to go to Nuuk and keep focussed. We have to, as going through growlers fields at 9 knots gives limited leeway to errors.
If the GRIB is correct, we should keep going under this regime for some more 24 hours. We should be then close to Disko island. Sailing to south, we go back to night, I had to switch on the compass's light again for the first time since we started the expedition, it is a sign. The radar keeps monitoring icebergs but the night is not yet fully dark. In case we are not late, I'm considering to halt in the region of Manitsoq which we could not visit on our way on. Being back in the south also means we get more heat and we had to stop the small heater as it was too hot inside. We just heat up whenever we switch on the generator and it is more than enough. Both the dining quarter and the front cabins are very warm, for the great pleasure of crew members who can read comfortably between two watch duties. Finally, we saw two polar bears during this expedition, I was not hoping for so much.

23 August - 21:10 local time
72°51' N - 066°01' W

After a tough night, we get back to a good pace. During the night the wind was unstable both in intensity and direction, with gale and rain from time to time. Sails were flapping often, all in all this was a hectic navigation from gale to gale, changing cape every ten minutes, under the rain and sliding on the back to be as smooth as possible and prevent whenever possible that sails flap too hard. We are now in Greenlandic waters and I will have the pleasure to send my sailing plan to Greenpos – and negotiate again the exemption to one position report per day. As long as the team is the same as ten days ago, it should be achievable.

The ice chart of the North Pole dated 20th August is interesting as it reads :
- Total concentration above 90%
- Of which 90 % of thin ice of 1st year (30-70 cm thick) and<
- 10 % of thick ice of 1st year (above 120 cm)
- With large plates of 2 to 10 kms.

This actually confirms the information received 2-3 years ago from a Russian ice-breaker which had not found ice thicker than 60 cm between the North Pole and Svalbard.

On the contrary, recent ice charts tend to indicate that the East entrance of the North-West Passage might be difficult this year. To be analyzed further.


22 August - 21:10 local time
74°32' N - 072°59 W

And here we are… The Baffin Bay offers its infinity to our eyes. At 22:50 UT we are at 74°32',6 N et 072°59',5 W.
Both front sails are set under outrigger and we come back to the rolling of back wind allures. We counter each iceberg after the other but luckily they are not too many so far. Despite the strong rolling, I am happy not to have the ice shelf to pay attention to any longer, neither potential shoals or non-chartered areas in general. When exiting this region, I realised how much pressure I had constantly on my shoulders over the past days. We now sail at a nice speed of 7-8 knots. Today we had to maneuver quite often and resting time has melt like snow in the sun.

22 August - 18:20 local time

We are leaving the Canadian waters and send a good-bye and final report to the Canadian coast guards, with whom we have shared daily over the past days. We mention we have found all winter harbours of the Fram and our satisfaction to have done such a great pilgrimage. We get warm greetings in return.

21 August - 20:00 local time
75°50' N - 081°14' E

We are now exiting the Jones Sound. Cloud cover is still low but visibility is excellent and we can see clearly Ellesmere, Coburg island and of course Devon island, which we pass by a few miles. Forecast for the next days is good, we should have good back wind. We directly head towards Nuuk as the way to there is long.

21 August - 05:30 local time

We are departed, under ideal weather conditions : rain, fresh snow above 100 meters, fogg… Time for migration has come and I am happy to be pointing Southern Star's bow towards our way back home. We have made a great polar campaign until now and all conditions are gathered so that it can keep going like this.

20 August - 20:55 local time

The bad weather continues but our anchorage keeps quiet. This afternoon, we have pursued our investigations towards the river and believe we have found something. Many clues concur: the ground having a canoe shape, gravel which seems to have been put there on purpose, traces of a heavy piece dragged from the shore, bullets, bones of hares, steel nails that look old… Of course nothing is certain but it looks like we were on site. We have taken many pictures, measured each item and place, even some stones circle that could have supported a tent, etc. We have put everything back as it was, bullet casings were marked. With our findings, photos and measurements, we should be able to know whether this place is "Baadhuset" or not. Indeed, we are convinced it is the case, but it might be that we are a bit too enthusiastic.
We shall leave tonight heading to Nuuk. The take-off time shall be determined according to the wind shift, which seems to happen just at the time of this writing.

20th August - 10:40 local time

The last ice chart allow us to see that the options taken were the good ones, Pim Island is now closed and the ice remains stuck in the bottom of the Jones Sound as I expected. This chart also clarifies the situation as I was still hoping we could go to Norwegian Bay, but now I know it is not possible because of the ice. No regrets ! We shall start exiting the Jones Sound tonight around 2 am, heading towards Nuuk and sailing alongside Baffin Island. We may find a shelter on Baffin Island in case of bad weather.
Beforehand, we shall once more go onshore to finish what we have started before the polar bear came yesterday, but the structure of the field gives us limited hope we could find any traces of Baadhuset. The horizontal sections of the place are made of bowls dug in gravel, the whole field is soft and malleable and has certainly changed a lot in hundred years.

19th August - 20:05 local time

After a good rest at night, this morning just after breakfast we could see a fox that was walking on the beach, then we went to the shore heading north to look for traces of "baadhuset". But a hike of 4 km way and back could not let us see anything. Back on our starting point, the idea was to walk further to a river down south but a polar bear showing at about 350 meters led us to change our plans. Since then, the wind has got stronger, it rains and we have decided to postpone our explorations until tomorrow. We could watch the bear for a long time, until it went by a peak heading to the glacier nearby.
We are still moored while the wind seems to blow hard in the Jones Sound. From the ship, nothing would let us feel such wind in the fjord, here we are quite comfortable, the whistle of the heater, the outrigger that sometimes bumps in the mast, no roll, no williwows, some windcast but nothing alarming. Sverdrup had a similar analysis, he mentions several times he could see clouds passing by very fast in the Jones Sounds while they were enjoying rather quiet times at the anchorage in Havnefjord.

18th August - 19:50 local time
76°25'543 N - 086°25'131 W

We are just arrived in Baadfjord in the east of Goose Fjord. Mooring place was elected after picking any clue we could gather so as to identify “Baadhuset”, the place with the canoe shelter. It could be that the canoe has been picked up during the following summer after the shelter had been built.
The model forecasts less good conditions in the coming 48 hours and going further east would have been difficult. At least anchorage seems rather good here and should allow us to go through bad weather. According to the conditions we’ll have this night, we shall try to disembark and explore this desolated land.

18th August - 08:30 local time

Shortly after having passed by the fourth winter harbour of the Fram again, we see a colony of three scores of walruses at the bottom of a cliff. We stop the engine for an hour and let us dive into the scene. The fjord is quiet and the walruses’ grunting are audible from far. We let us drift at 250 meters from them and enjoy a nice observation. Just when we leave, the engine’s sound makes them react and I get afraid they all jump into the water but happily when they see the ship leaving, they calm down and things go back to normal, to my great relief.

17th August – 20:10 local time
Goose fjord the third winter harbor of the Fram

Here we go : we have reached the expedition’s goal by reaching all four winter harbour of the Fram’s second expedition led by Otto Sverdrup. Mission accomplished !! We shall take a few hours rest and go back at 2 am. Goose Fjord has endless and unchartered waters to offer but going back shall be slightly easier. We are considering to go to Baadfjord where some Fram’s crew members had found a shelter by putting up side down a canoe on the beach, before going back to the ship, leaving the canoe. Maybe we shall find something there ?

We are mooring in the bottom of Goose Fjord at 76°48',872 N and 088°31',377 W, we could by no mean go further and this is the spot of the third harbour of the Fram. The fourth harbour is a bit further in the south, we passed by it earlier in the afternoon.

17th August – 16:15 local time

We have just found the 4th winter harbour of the Fram, we keep going up north to the bottom of the fjord so as to find the third one.

17th August - 07:25 local time

We are at about 20 nautic miles to the entrance of Goose Fjord and still no serious floes at sight, no complaint about it. Temperature has well decreased over the past days, we now have frost on the deck in the morning. We progress slowly to our goal as we have front wind, when we get help from the current, it is fine, when it is adverse, we can only be patient. The sound seems endless, we shall keep going upstream as long as conditions are favourable. We have no original picture of the Fram at anchorage in this fjord and we shall take pictures from the places mentioned in Sverdrup’s book. We have lost our compass, great we have a GPS…!

16th August - 20:40 local time

We have left the 2nd winter harbour of the Fram 4 hours ago and head towards the third and fourth harbour in the west of Jones Sound. At 22:30 UTC we are at 76°13'N - 084°02'5 W.
Visibility is good, no ice floes at sight for the time being, that could compromise our attempt at sight.

For information, GPS coordinates of the second winter harbour are: 76°30'145 N - 083°54'630 W

15th August - 23:40 local time
76°30' N - 083°54'632 W
Havnefjord, 2nd winter harbour of the Fram

We have now validated the 2nd winter harbour of the Fram, with photos taken under the same angle as Sverdrup’s ones. We are in Havnefjord, our position is 76°30'141 N - 083°54'632 W. This is a beautiful day with a quiet weather and many emotions. First of all, the great feeling to have reached the 2nd winter harbour of the Fram ; as Otto Sverdrup warned us, there are too many shoals here to find a good anchorage and for the third time in this expedition, we had to choose a big rock to bind us up and strengthen our anchorage. Checking this rock, we (Charles, the first mate and Gaby, the photographer) were surprised to find iron bolts in it. We like to imagine they were set by the Fram’s crew… Up on the hill we could find remains of the cross of Ove Braskerud’s grave, one of Sverdrup’s crew member who died there in 1899 at the age of 27 years. We found the exact place where a photo of Sverdrup’s book was taken which allows us to clearly identify the cross, but its horizontal bar had desappeared.

Another emotion: we bumped into a shoal just in the middle of the fjord. We stopped without touching but the bow was in 1,5 meter water deep and this scared us for a little while. I had just taken up the helm to be able to react in such case… Non chartered shoals, they are many, but this one was in the middle of a chartered zone and this is tough luck as one would normally rely on the chart.

15th August - 00:10 local time
Grise fiord

Being outside of the Greenland waters, I am no longer required to send my daily position report. Arrived in Grise Fiord early this morning after a 250 nautic miles sailing, we have immediately gone through all administrative formalities and logistics, and I must admit I have forgotten to send the position report at 8 pm. We have enjoyed a very warm welcome from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, who has also helped us for any logistics needs we had.
The last ice chart allow us to consider approaching the 2nd winter harbour of the Fram and who knows, to the third one – but nothing granted. Let's see.


14th August - 11:30 local time

We are arrived at Grise Fiord. We have not been to the village yet. The weather is calm and cloudy and the place is not particularly welcoming. No dogs, no boats, no colours in the village. Just a beach where the waves break, fringed with rocks at low tide.
Grise Fiord was the place granted by the Canadian Government in 1953 to 8 inuit families from Northern Quebec, to setlle a Canadian sovereignty in Arctic during the Cold War. In reality, no infrastructure had been prepared for welcoming these families who had been, in the facts, deported there as recognized by the Government in 2008, and could only survive by hunting whales.
We shall refuel and potentially try to get water, but our consumption has been very reasonable.

13th August - 19:50 local time

The study of the US Grib model of the day brings me to change the plans of our trip to the Jones Sound. We shall go directly to Grise Fiord as we should have a day and a half with relatively good conditions that should let us reach the village, followed by a strong east wind blow that might push the ice back to the west bottom of the sound in direction of the Cardigan Strait. However the information provided by the daily Canadian ice charts on the western part of the sound are very limited and this is frustrating. Our plan would be, subject to ice conditions, the following: Grise fiord tomorrow 14th August, Havn Fjord on 15th, a break on the 16th to let the storm go and a tentative approach of Goose Fjord on the 17th. We would therefore go to Coburg island thereafter. I prefer to grasp this window, to be confirmed when we have the ice field at sight and can better analyse its length, concentration, type of floes and therefore understand whether there is a chance that the ice accumulates in the south-west bottom of Ellesmere for a while. We shall silently go on our tip toes while the monster is asleep and try to escape before he wakes up… If the field is dense, it shall be difficult. To be continued.

We have just switched the engine again on now at 7 pm local time, until the mid-day we had a weakening breeze (pushing us at 8 knots, still) bearing the outriggered yankee and trinquette sails. At least visibility kept good and we have been able so far to manoeuver in the icy areas. Nights watches under the wind have been tough as it was difficult to differentiate white flecks of spume and growlers. We are now approaching the glacier strait that separate Coburg and Ellesmere islands then the King Edward Point and Smith island shall then open us the Jones Sound. As of now, the village of Grise Fiord is at about 72 nautic miles and we should reach it by tomorrow 5-6 am.

12th August - 18:40 local time

A very nice hike today in Etah. The flora is flourishing here as compared to other places in the region as Etah is a quite occupied and therefore fertilized place by many, living or dead. We could see muskoxes, hares, geese, ravens, large seagulls, little auks as for the living, and many carcasses, bones, pieces of skin and fur and excrements for the rest. Although most of flowers are gone for the season, we were able to see a few arctic white heathers (cassiope tetragona), marsh saxifrage (saxifraga hirculus) and purple saxifrage (saxifraga oppositifolia). Other species are already in germination phase before the cold season starts again. Bright orange lichen spreading over cliffs and rocks lights up the landscape under any sun beam. On the beach, close to a torrent, three huts slowly turning into ruins. Two of them are made of wood boards and peat and let winds in but the third one could still offer a shelter for the night. However it is not maintained and despite some pemmican is stored there, it is clear that nobody keeps it tidy. On our way back, the wind started to blow and our mooring stone to move, bringing us to consider to leave earlier for Coburg Island, Canada, at about 180 miles from Etah. We should have back wind but also large ice plates as we could see from the top of the hills. North wind should help us to keep a good visibility anyway.

11th August - 18:50 local time

We arrive at Etah, Groenland, via the Nares Strait, a few miles away from Canada. Etah is an abandoned village since the end of the 1980s in the Foulke Fjord and was the most northern non-seasonal settlement in Greenland, with periodic human presence going back to paleolithic era back to 4,400 BC. Etah has been a base camp for several expeditions of Knud Rasmussen, Robert Peary, MacGregor and others. Conditions of crossing over the strait are ideal, nothing to compare with what we had the day before: clear skies, sailing under yankee, trinquette at 5-6 knots, a quiet sea… pure happiness. However the fjord is not chartered and requires all our attention.

11th August - 10:00 local time

Bright sunny weather today on Fram Haven. We celebrate our arrival together with the team of Under the Pole, with their ship "Why"moored at Pim Island. Nice to meet again friends so far up north.

10th August
78°45'N - 074°43'W

5.30 pm : Arrival in Fram Haven, in the west of Pim Island, the first winter harbour, and upper north, of the 2nd expedition of the Fram.

The 115 miles journey has been made mostly under a light breeze with sporadic icebergs and floes, but we go back to arctic sailing’s hard core over the last 4 hours. Southern wind blows like a fury and throw us against two dense ice belts. The area is not charted and we approach under strong back wind…
Watching the area from the mast does not let us see any space between the ice shelf and the coast of Rice strait between Pim and Ellesmere islands. For a while, we consider mooring in the Rosse bay under the glacier and waiting for more quiet times. But time plays in our favour and the wind pushes back the ice towards the east and opens a canal for us. Before we reach the once envisaged shelter, we can see free water until the strait. We immediately follow the path. On the next floe, a polar bear welcomes us, obviously disturbed in his nap ; he decides soon to change his floe. In the Rice strait, we can count on the radar to keep in the middle, whereas our maps show major discrepancies with the GPS’s indications. Waters from the fjord or from a cascade even get splashed by the wind on steep cliffs around, gravity fades for a while and let other forces take the lead. With a back wind, sails furled and engine uncoupled, we approach Fram’s first winter shelter at 9.5 knots. On the right side of the bay’s entrance, unfriendly reefs repel us to the other side. Wind recedes but still stays strong. Without any reliable document, I blindly trust Otto Sverdrup and direct Southern Star’s bow to the bottom of the bay. We moor in 23 m deep, the anchor holds on but we keep a watch for two more hours, the first rocks are not far away. Fram’s expedition’s doctor’s grave is there, on the left side. We are arrived.

9th August 2014
77°37'N - 071°12' W


Eventually we may get a strong adverse wind. Should it really happen, we would look for shelter in Pitoravik, a small bay east of Cape Chalon. We are entering a poorly charted area and the coxswain keeps constant attention to the depth-probe, which becomes the main navigation instrument. Other key instruments include the radar, to see icebergs in the fog and keep a safety distance, as well as the GPS, which keeps showing us the route despite the 80° of magnetic declination. We should bump into the iceshelf somewhere between Etah, Greenland, and Pim Island. For the time being, all is calm, with some northern swells making the ship wavy while icebergs show us potential shoals and sandbanks by aggregating there.

3.00 pm
Southern Star could eventually refuel directly to the oil tanker supplying the village of Qaanaaq and the new crew could board on despite windy and wavy conditions. Cap on Pim Island at 115 miles, just east of Ellesmere island and first winter harbor of Fram, to take advantage of relatively better conditions than what the model forecasts for the coming days.

6th August 2014

Qaanaaq harbour is very small with shallow waters and offers a minimal protection against adverse weather. We have to stay moored outside and refueling as well as filling water tanks shall most probably be sporty. Air traffic is also faced with difficulties due to reportedly bad weather condition in southern areas, impacting Southern Star’s crew members shift.

5th August 2014

Arriving to Qaanaaq at 22:20, setting the anchor has been long and difficult. No good place for mooring and we had to use both ropes tied onshore and anchor to ensure a safe position. We are located just at the bottom of breathtaking and steep cliffs of red sandstone, beautiful chaotic mineral landscapes. Big floes have sometimes troubled the quiet place and both poles and the dinghy have been necessary to push them back, enabling us to sleep a few hours.

4th August 2014
77°26' N - 068°22'W

3rd August 2014
77°08' N - 070°48'W

Leaving Thulé base where we enjoyed a warm welcome, a “night” long sailing brings us to the ghost village of Moriussaq. But the place is not that friendly: strong current, no charted depths, troubled waters, icebergs, nothing appealing. We keep going to the Barden Bay where we finally moor at 5:30 am this morning (77°08'N - 070°48'W). Later, we go and have a walk on the edge of the glacier. Extravagance best qualifies our surrounding: what we assume to be sandstone colors cliffs and waters in ocher and red, huge stone fields smooth downhill lines while sediment layers still solid define straight verticals. Just looks like we are on another planet…

2nd August 2014
76°37' N - 069°28'W

1st August 2014
76°33'N - 068°47'W
Dundas, Port of North Star Bugt

Southern Star is moored at ½ mile from the US military base of Thulé, in front of the old village of Dundas. It is precisely the place picked up by Knut Rasmussen and Peter Freuchen to establish the most upnorth counter of Denmark, and the place where Jean Malaurie had a stop on his way to Thulé, during his first polar expedition in 1951. A very special place, steeped in history. We spoke so much about this base far away at the edge of the world… To have it now in front of us seems unreal, or just difficult to realise we are here.

31th July 2014
76°09'N - 068°28'W

30th July 2014
75°56'N - 065°53'W

29th July 2014
75°51'N - 064°04'W

28th July 2014
75°29'N - 060°12W

27th July 2014
73°13'N - 057°20'W

21th July 2014

20th July 2014
72°44'N - 056°14'W

19th, 18th July 2014
72°09'N - 055°31'W

17th July 2014 /21h40 UTC
71°04'N - 052°46'W

We are leaving Ummannaq Bay. A beautifull place in deed. Sharp and steep moutains meet vertically the sea covered with icebergs. We're headind North.

16th July 2014 /21h50 UTC
71°02'N - 051°28W

15th July 2014 /21h20 UTC
71°07'N - 051°26'W

14th July 2014 /22h10 UTC
71°00'N - 052°14'W

13th July 2014 /21h30 UTC
70°36'N - 051°47'W

After Ummannaq we're heading for the bottom of the fjord. Gigantic icebergs and vertical cliffs up to 1000 meters give us the sentiment to sail in a giant's world.

12th July 2014 /21h40 UTC
70°44'N - 052°22'W

11th July 2014 /21h50 UTC
69°39'N - 051°36'W

Since departure, we make our route through huge icebergs. From the crow nest, the watchman give us the information for the best option in this gigantic labyrinth.

6th July 2014 /16h00 UTC

5th July 2014 /21h50 UTC
69°20'N - 050°57'W - RODEBAY

We're in front of Rodebay, 9 nautical milles north of Illullisat. An ice free bay along a very icy part of coast. A peacefull place in deed for the time being.

4th July 2014 /21h50 UTC
69°08'N - 053°32'W

3rd July 2014 /21h55 UTC

We're at Qeqertarsuaq, Godhavn in Danish. It was the second port of call of Fram in Greenland

2nd July 2014 /21h45 UTC
69°01'N - 053°17'W

We had anchored for the night in a tiny auchipeklago just in the middle of Disko bay. Couple of icebergs are grounded on shallow waters around.

1st July 2014 / 21h50 UTC
68°42''N - 052°52'W AASIAAT HARBOR

We're sailing through a huge labyrinth of islands. the fog does not prevent us to enjoy icebergs and humpback whales for the last couple of hours.
Tomorrow we'll reach Assiat, the first port of call (Egedesminde )in Greenland for Fram during its second expedition.

30th June /21h50 UTC
68°14,5'N - 053°36'W

We're sailing through a huge labyrinth of islands. the fog does not prevent us to enjoy icebergs and humpback whales for the last couple of hours.
Tomorrow we'll reach Aassiaat, the first port of call (Egedesminde )in Greenland for Fram during its second expedition.

29th June 22h00 UTC
67°49'N - 053°45'W

28th June
66°52'N - 053°33'W

We had left from Sissimiut two hours ago for a land locked little bay 5 milles away to wait the end of the gale which blows since yesterday. We'll keep going North tomorrow morning.

26th June
66°31'N - 053°58'W

We set sail yesterday à 17h00 UTC following our route northward. The ice stays 60 milles off the coast and give us a good space to progress in almost ice free waters. Somme icebergs are visible now and then. We should arrive to Sissimiut this evening.

22nd June

At 14h50 UTC, we're at the anchor in the bottom of Kobbefjord (64°08',7N - 051°24',7W), East of Nuuk. The weather is sunny and warm and this calm day is in contrast with the busy Greenland's national day of yesterday. We'll sail back to the capital this evening for the end of the second leg of the expedition.

21st June

June 21st is the national day in Greenland, that's why we came earlier. The last leg from Qeqertarsarsiatt was against 25 knts of wind with short & sharp chop. The last 15 milles in to the archipelago was magic, Sun, moon and warm light, flat water and gentle breeze gave us the perfect landing condition.

20th June
63°40'N - 051°55'W

19th June
63°05'N - 050°41'W

We arrived at 03h30 to night in the small community of Qeqertarssuatsiat (danish name : fiskenaesset), village with colorful houses. 200 personnes are living there. Everything is calm. After a while, people come to us, their are curious to know where we are coming from. Their welcome is warm and joyful.

18th June
62°04'N - 049°57'W

We left Paamiut two hours ago. It was a wonderful stop over, nice people, open and curious. At departure, couple of cars gave us a kind farewell using their horn and echoing each other all over the village.

17th June
61°48'N - 049°50'W

We should arrive in the next 3 hours at Paamiut (Frederikshab).
Everything is calm, we have the time to enjoy the approach of our first port of call in Greenland.

16th June
60°44'N - 049°32'W

Making clear with the pack ice was sometimes difficult with a dense fog by patches. We're sailing through the last pieces now to head north strait to Paamiut (Frederikshab) our first port of call in Greenland.

15th June
59°17'N - 045°35'W

We're sailing on the southern edge of pack ice. The fog oblige us to change our route Southward when we meet a belt of dense ice. Temperature dropped to 0°C when approaching the ice.

14th June
60°07'N - 040°37'W

We’re navigating down wind in a gale who should bring us within 12 hours to the pack ice edge South of Cape Farewell. We're watching carefully for icebergs.

13th June
61°32'N - 036°26'W

Fog & rain are our compagnon. We're approaching Greenland. The radar is watching for iceberg.

12th June
62°42'N - 031°15'W

11th June
63°41'N - 025°44'W

"En route" again for Nuuk, Greenland. The sun sets for a while on Snaefellsjökull, north of Reykjavik. After a while, the temperature fall down and the fog reduce our world at 1/4 nm around. The spirit of Greenland is already there.

1st June (Tromsø - Isafjordur)
66°31'N - 018°32'W

At departure from Tromso, a strong contrary wind, incite us to wait for more favourable conditions. Waiting from Sommaroy give us an exact image about what's going on off shore.
36 hours later, we can clear reefs off the island and take advantage of a powerfull downwind navigation.
35 knots of wind invite seasickness on board for 2/3 of our party. A rough start which, by chance, don't last long. One & half day later everyone is back on watch and happy to leave for "on the wake of Fram's second expedition".
The rest of the crossing is smooth and nice. Arriving in the vicinity of Iceland 5 and 1/2 days later with numerous humpback whales to watch. Our first port of call in Iceland is the tiny island of Grimsey, just on the polar circle. Here are living 70 souls, sheep, horses and thousands of sea birds. Puffins, pinguins, arctic terns, fulmar occupied every piece of cliffs all around the island. Nesting period is definitely a noisy and crowded time down here. During our stay, the weather is beautifull and we enjoy our first day of "summer" walking around, visiting and getting a bit of tan from the terrasse of the restaurant.
Next morning, rain & fog is the decor of our next leg to Isafjordur. We sail around Hornstrandir peninsula without seeing it and reach the "capital" of the north west. Here lives 2900 unhabitants. We are looking forward to discover this little city after a good sleep.

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