BELARE 2006/2007 - Everything has been brought ashore and secured

Today, the Gods have smiled down on us. After a grasse matinée soaking up the sun, I am aroused by the Iridium beeping discreetly in my ear. Alain is calling from the unloading point. The ship is 800m off the ice cliff, and moving in to make the last attempt. The two Prinoths are off the ship, but there are still several containers and sledges waiting on board. He has to go back to where the Hammar equipped sledge (The Sledge Hammar as Johan calls it) is waiting to be collected. We wait by the phone with bated breath. A few hours later Alain calls again. The miracle which we had stopped hoping for has happened. It is done. In two hours everything has been brought ashore and secured. The Ivan Papaninn is free to go home to Murmansk, on the other side of the World.

Two days ago, we had despaired of ever being able to unload and today it is done. This is a historic moment for the Belgian history in the Antarctic. Les Belges sont terug!

Sitting in our tents far from Breid Bay, we are happy but a little subdued. There is still a zone of 20 to 30 km crevasses to cross before our coast team (Alain, Bernard, Benjamin, Jos, Philippe and Frank) is on the home stretch. The tension abates only to give way to another form of apprehension. The Russian crew at Novo had screened a surrealistic film for us, depicting the dangers of the traverse from Novo to Mirny, through horrendous crevasse zones. The images sit uppermost in our minds, as we wait for more news. Maybe our crevasses will be more civilized.

Back on the Utsteinen Farm, Dieter 2 the topographer is setting up the GPS reference station on the "Pink Shrimp" mini nunatak. Damien is communing with the lichens on the ridge, Jos and Dieter 1 are following around after Dieter 2 to capture the action, Vincent and Johan are playing with crayons and paper in the fully equipped office/command and control centre, we have set up in the colourful weatherhaven. (And we thought we could escape from our desks by coming here. Fat chance). Vaska is looking after dinner, and I have been ordered to rest, which I am happy to comply with ...