What hours ago appeared to be a doomed climate change research expedition just took on a positive turn late today. That is the good news reported this afternoon by Nowlenn Chauche, captain, of the research vessel Gambo. The vital sonar equipment, stolen from the Gambo, was shipped to Portland from the UK just yesterday. When it arrives here in Portland, it puts the research expedition to the west coast of Greenland back on course to fulfill its mission – starting early in July.
Gambo arrived at Portland Yacht Services in mid-May to complete its preparation for its second trip to the west coast of Greenland from the same boat yard on the Portland waterfront. However, during the painting, removing rust, changing the wheel from a tiller and other work on board, the sonar equipment was removed from the side of the boat and stored under the boat near the keel. One night, the crucial equipment was stolen from beneath the boat on the ground. From then until very recently, the mission of the 45 ft. steel-hulled cutter, Gambo, was in jeopardy. The expensive equipment had no insurance and was considered to be “irreplacable.” According to the French Captain Chauche, 23 years old, Dr. Alun Hubbard, owner of the Gambo will finance the replacement of the sonar equipment which was shipped from the UK yesteday. Although a reward was offered for the return of the equipment, the no one has tried to collect it.
Clearly buoyed by the good news, Captain Chauche spoke with MHN. com on a dock of PYS where Gambo is currently tied-up. Chauche will climb a mountain near the glacier from which he will mount a time lapse camera on a rock that will be focused on the nearby glacier. The camera will take one photo of the glacier a day. Mathieu Depoorter, 25, who joined the crew late yesterday from Belgium, where he is a glaciology researcher at ULB, said sometimes two cameras are put up side-by-side to make the pictures 3D – or not flat. What can be seen in these photos is little and big pieces from the glacier breaking up and how rapidly this is happening. Chauche said that Dr. Alun Hubbard the leader of the expedition will fly in a helicopter to the top of the glacier in which he will insert sensor equipment. Chauche, who has served as captain on this year’s expedition as well as last years, said he might try the helicopter trip if given the opportunity.
The research collected from last year’s initial trip to Greenland will be distributed to scientists in Scotland, Wales, Denmark and Brussels for their analysis. The Gambo will not be returning to Portland again – next year’s research will done from a different port, but Chauche is not certain where that will be yet.
Depoorter said he hasn’t done as much sailing as (few have) Chauche, but he’s very excited about the trip to Greenland. He’s never been there before and it will give him a wonderful opportunity to observe what he’s only studied and read about in books.
In the meantime, the first mate, Max Deneuville, of Granville, France, who is also a Ph.D student and Chauche have had an opportunity to sample some of Maine’s best local brew. Deneuville, who loves beer, has enjoyed Alllagash Trepel because of its Belgian style. “This makes me feel right at home,” he said grinning recently. Until the sonar equipment arrives from the UK, this international crew will be watching the Fourth of July celebration off the Eastern Promenade from Gambo.
MHN.com has been writing about Gambo since the spring of 2009. For more information, please visit posts # 495, dated June 12 and # 464, dated May 12, as well as numerous previous articles. You may Google Gambo as well.