Trapped in Ice: Guirec and Monique’s Incredible Odyssey in Greenland

Migratory birds are known to travel thousands of miles in search of a better home. Each year, hundreds of species fly across the world, seeking places with more resources and a better climate. Amongst these hundreds of fascinating species, no one would have thought that a little red hen from the Canary Islands would join the restricted circle of the travelling birds. Monique is not a normal hen: along with her master Guirec, she in 2013 crossed the Atlantic on a small sailing boat called Yvinec. Over the twenty-eight days it took them to arrive on the Caribbean island of St Barths, she laid twenty-five eggs, something Guirec is particularly proud about because everyone told him the hen would be so anxious to be on a boat she would not lay a single egg. Not bad for a first-timer. This was the birth of an incredible friendship; one that would change their lives forever.

Guirec, a 23-year-old French chap from Bretagne, is equally as fascinating as his gallinaceous friend. Knowing from the start that books and calculus were for him a waste of time and energy, he piled up his few savings and bought the mighty Yvinec; an old tub he named after an inhabited island off the coasts of Armor. Born and raised on the French Atlantic coastline, he was destined to be a sea adventurer: “I’m self-taught”, he once told me. “Everything I know I learnt through curiosity and perseverance. Although the whole journey has not been easy, I wouldn’t change anything from it”. By “whole journey” he meant the 6, 000 miles he sailed from his native Brittany to St Barths, where he worked for a year as a windsurf and surfing instructor, but also all the adventures that were to come. In 2015, he embarked on a crazy, almost suicidal project: let the Greenland ice trap him and hibernate there. Everyone told him he was mad; he went on with it anyway. This type of guys are always stubborn as hell.

Armed with nothing but his courage, his old sailing boat and his hen Monique, Guirec left the small village of Saqqaq, Greenland, on 24th November 2015. Already he knew he was living one of the greatest adventures of his life : guided by the stars, he sailed on a smooth sea whilst admiring the beautiful northern lights that stretch before his eyes. His journey was punctuated with dangerous weather conditions and freezing climate. He relates that once, because the wind was pushing the boat against the coast, he had to pack up everything for a survival of who knows how many days, their position being hundreds of miles from the first signs of civilisation. When he thought his boat was lost and was going to hit the coast and sink, the wind had turned. Whatever God(s) may be had undoubtedly answered his prayers.

Although he repeatedly saw his life flash before his eyes, nothing was going to stop him from living his adventure to the fullest, resisting against the elements and constantly testing his limits. He always remained positive even in the darkest hours. A true example of how nerve and determination can lead to the greatest human endeavours.


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Postgraduate student in History of IR. Caribbean girl, occasionally Parisian. Spanish, Italian and French speaker. I would like to see a revival of print press, so much more elegant than staring at a computer. Recycled paper is fine.