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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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