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Monthly Archives: May 2016 − News & Stories


Forlandsund – 31st May 2016

Why can’t I just stay and put up my tent in this landscape here, north of Isfjord? Spend a week or more? Wide tundra with little hills and lakes, a scenic coastline with many little rocky capes and hidden bays. Reindeer so curious that it is almost difficult to get rid of them again 🙂 Grey phalaropes and Snow buntings, mosses growing on ice. Can life in the arctic get any better?

Gallery Forlandsund – 31st May 2016

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

Yes, it can. Thanks to the walrusses on Prins Karls Forland. They were not just curious, they were almost obtrusive. We showed our appreciation by cleaning a good bit of strand from plastic rubbish, that is littering the shorelines in scary amounts, as in most parts of the world’s oceans today.

Bellsund – 30th May 2016

From the icy Hornsund to the tundra in Bellsund. Early flowers on bedrock that is sorted in amazing structures, making Earth history visible on the mountain slopes and along the coastline. There are still last kilometres of fjord ice deep in the innermost bays. Sad reality, normally the whole fjord should still be frozen solid, but what is normal these days? Eight kilometres of ice between us and the glacier.

Gallery Bellsund – 30th May 2016

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

The polar bear that is roaming the ice near the glacier appears as a faint dot in the scope. No good for the untrained eye, but the whole scenery is nevertheless impressive.

Hornsund – 28th/29th May 2016

28th/29th May 2016 – Finally Spitsbergen is raising from the sea ahead of us, and we are certainly all looking forward to sheltered waters after the crossing. The swell is actually reaching a bit into Hornsund, making the first anchorage a bit lively.

Gallery Hornsund – 28th/29th May 2016

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

The first landing brings great views of the nearby glacier and of the mighty surf pounding on the outer shore of our little peninsula. Hornsundtind is still hiding in clouds, but not for long anymore. After a couple of hours, Bautaen and Hornsundtind are both free of clouds, rising majestically into the blue sky. We enjoy the panorama of glaciers, ice and mountains for another day. Although it is obviously far less ice than it should be. No driftice anywhere near, only icebergs from the local glaciers. Hardly any trace of fast ice, only some lose, drifting, weathering floes. Sad.

Barents Sea – 27th/28th May 2016

Just 24 hours from Bear Island to Hornsund – not bad at all. The wind was blowing with some force, and even from the right direction, around Beaufort 5-6 from the west, sails up and off we go. Life on board is a bit sportive. Real sailing 🙂 but difficult to find whales under these conditions, we saw 2 or 3 blows, but who knows how many whales there really were …

Photos Barents Sea – 27th – 28th May 2016

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Barents Sea & Bear Island – 26th and 27th May 2016

26th and 27th May 2016 − We left Norway too soon behind as always. A day in Tromsø, full of impressions, people and a bit of a to-do-list, makes a day go by very quickly. Fugløya was, in the late evening of the same day, rather devoid of birds, it did not do justice to its name at all. Who knows where they were that night.

The Barents Sea: not really calm and not really wild. A breeze, good sailing wind, the engine can have a day off. Lectures replace the whales, which are anywhere today but not where we are.

Bear Island: not really in good mood but not really bad either. Windy, grey, wet. But we did manage to make a landing, in a small, hidden bay on the southeast coast. This is as much as you can realistically expect on a normal day up here. A stiff breeze, lively swell, low clouds, rain showers. This is not unheard of at Bear Island. The only thing to do is to find a coast with as much shelter as possible and to make the best of it. This is exactly what we did, and it was good.

But it wasn’t good enough to visit the station, unfortunately. Just too much wind, waves and swell coming around the coast. A shame, we had been looking forward to the station, and the people there were very friendly on the radio, already looking forward to the fresh newspapers Birgit had bought for them in Norway.

Gallery – Barents Sea & Bear Island – 26th and 27th May 2016

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

Fresh wind is again filling the sails now as we are making our way north now, towards Hornsund. Up and down the waves. Activating the brain to recycle the memore and the stomach to do principally the same with recent meals, in some cases. So we are all looking forward to Spitsbergen’s sheltered bays now.

Harstad, Senja – 24th May 2016

Now we have to start making miles, as there is quite a lot of them left on the way northwards. We could do a good bit today nicely under sail. And still had time for two stops. In Harstad, I did not have time to take any photos. Sometimes there are indeed other things to do. But later, when we saw those sea eagles, I just had to get the camera out.

Gallery – Harstad, Senja – 24th May 2016

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

In the evening, there was the opportunity for a little walk on the southern end of the island of Senja. But when I take nothing but the waterproof GoPro ashore and start taking photos of the fuel station, then this may also tell a story. Well, stretching legs was the point, and so we did.

Skrova, Trollfjord – 23rd May 2016

The nicest photo of Skrova was possibly the last one from last night (see previous blog). This perspective is often just hard or impossible to beat.
But you have to experience the white sand beaches and the colourful beaches on the spot, you have to feel the sand under your feet. The towel stayed in the rucksack, though, due to a lack of sun.

Gallery – Skrova, Trollfjord – 23rd May 2016

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

The sky got dangerously dark, but the sun almost broke through again in Trollfjorden. Stunning!

Kabelvåg, Tjeldbergtinden – 22nd May 2016

How great does it feel, hot sun rays as you get out before breakfast! What a contrast to the grey, wet weather last night!

The locals in Lofoten can be very creative and artistic. You enter a public phone and you find a library. I guess there are not too many libraries in the world that are smaller.

Kabelvåg used to be the capital of the Lofoten islands in medieval times, this is where it started more than a thousand years ago. You can get an idea of life, economy and power through the centuries in the open air museum, which can only be recommended.

More recent tracks lead us away from Kabelvåg and into the beautiful nature, along a like and up the mountain Kjeldbergtinden. A first class 360 degree panoramic view in the finest sunshine. The beautiful coastlines with many bays and skerries, the snow covered, rugged mountains, wood- and wetlands, settlements … everything is shining under and around us.

Gallery – Kabelvåg, Tjeldbergtinden – 22nd May 2016

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

After a couple of hours we continue with Antigua again, until we can enjoy a calm evening and night in the little port of Skrova.

Reine & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

Rainy day, dream away, let the sunshine take a holiday … I guess Jimi Hendrix did not think of Lofoten when he wrote that. Or maybe he did? On some days, it would certainly fit. Today was one of these days.

This did not keep us – well, some of us – to climb up to an altitude of 438 m above Reine to enjoy the view. And it was worth it! Initially, it was just grey, but then the clouds opened up for some precious minutes. The view of Reine from the mountain is amazing.

Gallery – Reine & Nusfjord – 21st May 2016

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

Then the curtain went down again, and so did we.
After an afternoon visit to Nusfjord, we continued to Kabelvåg.

Bodø – 20th May 2016

It is a rapid change from winter to summer. It is not long ago that we went to Barentsburg by snow mobile, and today is the start of the northern summer for me. Quite a special summer, my 20th one, counting Spitsbergen summers. I am a bit proud of it, but it makes me feel a bit old at the same time. Well, that is just how it is.
Yesterday I came to Bodø, crossing the arctic circle at an altitude of 30000 feet (give or take a few, I did not check). I have not seen the arctic circle, but I know it was there, far below us.

Good old Antigua was waiting alongside in the harbour of Bodø. Or rather, good new Antigua. The ship has changed quite a bit since I have seen her for the last time in November. Same place, by the way, but quite different. Back then, it was dark and cold. Now, it is warm and sunny, very pleasant. I was quite curious to see her now, 8 m longer. And indeed, the middle deck resembles a football field. Well, in comparison. The new cabins are also quite impressive.

Old friends and new faces, good spirits, a happy start into a new season. Vestfjorden is also in good shape, the 40 nautical miles (give or take a few, I did not check) are pure pleasure, sitting on deck in the sun. The famous Lofotveggen, the chain of mountains that makes up the islands which are rising from the sea like a wall, are slowly coming closer, the outliers Mosken and Værøy in the beautiful light of the evening sun.

Gallery – Bodø – 20th May 2016

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

It is late as we getting near the harbour of Reine, and just as we are about to enter, we meet a pod of Orca. We stay with them for a little while. A big male with an impressive dorsal fin and several smaller ones, including a calf or two.

It could stay like this for the whole summer 🙂

Svalbardmelding: new Norwegian white paper for Spitsbergen-politics

The Norwegian government publishes a strategy paper to define a framework for Spitsbergen-related politics every couple of years. The last one came in 2009 and the new one had been announced a while ago. Local players were eagerly waiting for it, hoping for new and positive impacts for the local development especially in times where one of the major local economic driving forces, the coal mining industry, is largely collapsing.

Now it is there, the new Svalbard white paper was published this week and it is now widely discussed in regional media.

Most commentators are disappointed, all in all. The new Svalbardmelding is a description of obvious developments rather than a package of impulses to drive future development. Comments are quickly drifting into the details of local economic policy, and maybe that is what is new about it: economy is more important than it was in the 2009 paper. But it is no news that coal mining is of decreasing importance. More year-round full time jobs are to be created, preferably in the private sector, but public institutions may just as well increase their local presence. The future fate of the mining company Store Norske remains unclear, and so does the answer to the question who will fill the gap that Store Norske has left in Longyearbyen’s economy as a major industrial actor. Local ideas to development Longyearbyen’s industry as a fishery port are not taken much further by the new Svalbardmelding. These are amongst the questions that locals want to have answered.

Neither is there much clarity about flight traffic. Due to historical contracts and Spitsbergen’s special political situation, Longyearbyen is currently not open as destination for scheduled flights from non-Norwegian airports. Recently, Finnair has cancelled flights already scheduled and in sale for this summer, much to the regret of the local tourism industry.

Another important issue is local power supply. It is not a secret that the coal power plant, originally built in 1983, is not going to last forever. The question of the future electricity supply is going beyond the technicalities of how power is getting into sockets in Longyearbyen: the vision of Longyearbyen, a small and electrically isolated community, as a laboratory for technology for the energy supply of the future, has been discussed for quite a while already. A clever realization of this vision might create knowledge of global importance and local jobs. The new Spitsbergen whitepaper does not make much of a contribution to these ideas. Important impulses for these developments are not expected from the new paper.

The only concrete task that is heralded by the Svalbardmelding is 10 million NOK (currently just above 1 million Euro) for new accommodation, also as a reaction to the loss of 11 houses during the avalanche in December 2015.

The new Spitsbergen white paper (Svalbardmelding) does not bring any surprises or major unexpected impulses to the local development.

Longyearbyen: New Svalbardmelding (Spitsbergen white paper)

Sources: amongst others. highnorthnews.com, Svalbardposten, regjeringen.no.

Jan Mayen 2016: one seat available

One flexible and determined expeditioner can join us in June 2016 on our expedition to Jan Mayen on short notice – one seat has become available again due to a cancellation. This is your chance to join us on 13th June 2016 in Ísafjörður, when we set sail for Jan Mayen to spend an exciting (roughly) 6 days there, potentially including the option to climb Beerenberg or to hike all over the island, as far as you can and want to.

For more information about this amazing as well as demanding trip, click here or get in touch.

Click here for some photos and panoramas from Jan Mayen. There is also a link to the webcam of the Norwegian station on Jan Mayen.

Jan Mayen: view to Beerenberg. One person can join us again in June 2016 on our sailing, hiking and climbing expedition to Jan Mayen.

Expedition Jan Mayen 2016: one seat available

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