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ARKTIKA 2.0 - Long live adventure!

We left the last episode of the Gilles story with a question: is this the end of the adventure? Our hero...

Arktika 2.0: Episode 14

We left the last episode of the Gilles' story with a question: is this the end of the adventure? Our hero of the north’s saga seems to have come to an end. A tugboat dragged Gilles’ ship off, and while he was being questioned, the dogs were not allowed to go ashore.

But how did we come to this situation? Let's step back in time and reexamine the adventure files ARKTIKA 2.0.

JULY 2016

Gilles Elkaim contacted the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in regards to the introduction of his dogs to the Svalbard Isles. Although passports and vaccinations are in order, the query remains unanswered.


Gilles, Alexia and their dogs take off on their great adventure: to cross the Arctic Ocean unassisted, navigating the icy waters in a sail boat, the ARKTIKA 2.0, to the North Pole, their goal is to be ambassadors, and stimulate consciences on its preservation.


During the crossing between Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, a technical problem with the engine port side and bad weather forced the team to seek refuge in a Nordaustlandet fjord, one of the largest islands of Svalbard and a nature reserve with restricted access. For a week the storm was very strong, more than 55 knots of wind. Various engine repairs were attempted to no avail.

8 AND 12 OCTOBER 2016

Gilles contacts via satellite the Administration of Svalbard to report their situation and asks for permission to spend the winter in the fjord, planning the repair of his boat and then continuing his journey upon the arrival of summer. No reply arrives from the administration.

13 OCTOBER 2016

A Svalbard government helicopter reaches the boat. The passports of the crew and the dogs are confiscated. No veterinarian is on board.

14 OCTOBER 2016

A ship receives the task of towing the ARKTIKA up to Longyearbyen, the most populous city of Svalbard, despite Gilles’ concerns regarding the risk to the integrity of his boat.


A bear swims in the storm (40 knots) up to the ARKTIKA and destroys the Zodiac raft.

17-19 OCTOBER 2016

The trailer runs in the polar night, despite the weather conditions and the weight of the two ships: 20 tons and 4000 tons.

20 – 24 OCTOBER 2016

Gilles was interrogated for four days by the the governor’s police. His computer, containing a copy of all messages to the Administration is confiscated. The dogs are healthy and controlled by the local vet, but are not allowed to disembark and go on land for seven days. Their physical and mental condition suffers.

25 OCTOBER 2016

The dogs finally receive temporary permission to go ashore.


28 OCTOBER 2016

Alexia’s passport is returned, Gilles’ not yet. The ARKTIKA is still docked in Longyearbyen waiting to receive the spare parts needed to repair the engine. Alexia will be questioned today. The dogs receive permission to walk on a leash for a few hours.

Gilles was again interrogated for 13 hours by the governor of Svalbard’s police, totaling nearly 40 hours, captive like a virtual criminal and with no access to a computer or an i-Pad, where the evidence of his good faith and communication sent in July the administration of Svalbard is contained.

Gilles communicates with the world via a phone, still in his possession, publishing on his Facebook account a photo a day of bears, welcome and not so welcome companions during this adventure which seems to have abandoned him. Writing these words: “It’s not good to be an explorer or a journalist these days.”

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