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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Van Keu­len­fjord

Van Keu­len­fjord

Van Keu­len­fjord tur­ned out to be a tre­a­su­re cham­ber of arc­tic impres­si­ons. Of cour­se, it was good to step out on solid ground again. Real arc­tic soil, per­ma­frost-based tun­dra. But what fol­lo­wed later will defi­ni­te­ly remain a tre­a­su­red memo­ry well bey­ond this sum­mer.

Fur­ther in, the fjord was still fro­zen solid. Four polar beas were visi­ble in the distance, a mother with two cubs and a sin­gle bear, all res­ting at times and moving at others, even mee­ting occa­sio­nal­ly. All in a distance that redu­ced them to litt­le yel­low dots for us. Mean­while, a group of Belugas came into sight, with an excep­tio­nal high pro­por­ti­on of young ani­mals, dis­tin­guis­ha­ble by their dark grey colour.

We had the good idea to moor the Anti­gua at the fast ice edge during the night. That is one of the beau­ties of tra­vel­ling with a sai­ling ship: you are not always in a rush. Some­ti­mes you have time, the most important thing during tra­vel­ling (and other­wi­se in life). We do not fol­low sche­du­les, we take oppor­tu­nities. The wea­ther was fine, wild­life wit­hin view. So we did not save any cost or effort but went out to find a sui­ta­ble pie­ce of drift­wood, which was then put through a hole in the ice with gre­at enthu­si­asm by Cap­tain Joa­chim and some hel­ping hands. A rope bet­ween the drift­wood log and Anti­gua would keep the ship in posi­ti­on for some hours without wind. The self­made port was rea­dy, and we could enjoy the evening.

The night was short. Around 4 a.m., the polar bear fami­ly deci­ded to visit this stran­ge ice­berg which had appeared at the ice edge. The two second year cubs, 1.5 years old, were as curious as polar bears can be. The wal­ked on the ice around the bow of the ship and stood up on their hind legs to get bet­ter views of us. They were bit­ing into the ropes, which may have smel­led from many sailors’ hands which have hand­led them over years and many ports whe­re they have fixed Anti­gua to the pier.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

No need to men­ti­on that this was an unf­or­gett­able expe­ri­ence ☺

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2015-06-11 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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