ARKTIKA 2.0 – Unwelcome tenants

ARKTIKA 2.0 – Unwelcome tenants

The human-canine crew is located in Svalbard and soon winter will have caught up. It is too late to reach the New-Siberian Islands, the sea would not allow it and the polar night is coming in less than three weeks. Meanwhile the adventure waits for no one and recently Gilles has experienced a couple of peculiar days. Here he narrates the events in his own words:

“Yesterday and the day before, were really crazy days! During the night, a bear swam towards the boat while the dogs were asleep in the cockpit, just a meter away. I was asleep, and I neither saw nor heard anything, when suddenly I caught sound of rippling waves and a buzz on the platform! I got up and saw the bear near the platform, swimming back towards the shore. I decided to take a closer look. He had come inland and you could see how he had a carcass squeezed between his legs. Alerted by our footsteps he decided to go up a hill to check us out better from the top. But then he came back. I fired a shot to scare him, but a few hours later he came back again, determined to say “hello” to us…. The question we might ask is: was it just a simple courtesy visit or did he intentionally return, attracted by the smell of dogs? The next day, our bear was still in the same place, busy finishing his meal. So we anchored on the other side of the bay, with the engine running (bears don’t like this sort of noise), with the main shaft illuminated and the lights counter turned, with the curtain open in the back, and all the dogs on deck, in the possible case that our teddy bear decided to come onboard again.”

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“The next morning, the bear, still on the other side of the shore intent on watching us, fell into a deep sleep. We took the opportunity to take a walk, always keeping an open and watchful eye. On our return to the boat, after two hours of walking, another bear popped up, trying to dive into the water, intent on reaching the boat. Fortunately the barking of the dogs distracted it, causing the bear to go to the other side of the bay, intrigued by the smell of the carcass being enjoyed by the first bear! He managed to reach the younger bear rather quickly, and woke him abruptly. The two bears showed off a few impressive aggressive moves, which made it easy enough to understand that the older bear would win the confrontation, and enabled him to have the carcass all to himself. This was the moment when we realized it was best to pull up anchor! We understood that we had come across an expert bear… not very reassuring for the rest of our adventure!”

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