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Yearly Archives: 2016 − Travelblog


Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 10th June 2016

The wes­ter­ly bree­ze had been quite lively, so we had deci­ded to spend yet ano­ther day in Wood­fjord befo­re retur­ning to the west coast. But this mor­ning we awo­ke near the icy beau­ty of Svitjod­breen in the magni­fi­cent Fuglefjord. Ple­nty of gla­cier ice drif­ting in the water, while we are enjoy­ing break­fast and loo­king out for wild­life.

Gal­lery Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 10th June 2016

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

Five lazy wal­rus­ses are hau­led out in Smee­ren­burg near the old blub­ber ovns, at which we then have a look, one after the other. How cruel must life have been here 4 cen­tu­ries ago! The wha­lers were wea­ring woo­len swea­ters which did not give much pro­tec­tion from the ever-pre­sent wind, and thin lea­ther shoes. Even for us, in wea­ther-pro­of out­door gear and rub­ber boots, it is cold today! And it was cer­tain­ly not war­mer back then, in the 17th cen­tu­ry.

Wood­fjord – 08th June 2016

Mus­ham­na is inde­ed still lar­ge­ly fro­zen – not real­ly a sur­pri­se in ear­ly June, but remar­kab­le con­side­ring this year’s ice con­di­ti­ons else­whe­re. Just enough space for us to anchor safe­ly for the night. In the evening, we can hear the mating calls of the seals insi­de the ship as it is very silent.

We explo­re Mus­ham­na with or wit­hout snow shoes, accor­ding to tas­te. Wit­hout snow shoes, we stay near the shore, whe­re the land is snow-free. Litt­le men­tal excur­si­ons take us back into the Devo­ni­an, tur­ning the beach into a geo­lo­gi­cal open air muse­um. Then, a lonely wal­rus, quite obvious­ly a male, attracts our atten­ti­on as he is lying on a san­dy spit, slee­ping, scrat­ching hims­elf.

In the after­noon, the wes­tern coast of Wood­fjord is the best place for us, due to the litt­le wes­ter­ly bree­ze. The area whe­re Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter („A woman in the polar night“) and her hus­band Her­mann wan­ted to visit their nea­rest neigh­bour, Stock­holm-Sven, a long time ago.

Stock­holm-Sven was not in his hut on Reins­dyr­flya. Neither was the­re an axe. Wit­hout an axe and the pos­si­bi­li­ty to make fire­wood, the hut might have been a dead­ly trap for Chris­tia­ne and Her­mann, had he not insis­ted on retur­ning quick­ly befo­re upco­ming bad wea­ther would make the return trip over the ice impos­si­ble.

Life is so much easier the­se days, some wet feet during a snow shoe hike over the swamps of mel­ting snow are not­hing com­pared to that. Wet snow is part of ever­y­day life in the arc­tic bet­ween win­ter and sum­mer.

But the late after­noon clean up Sval­bard ses­si­on is almost a tough exer­cise. Crew and vol­un­teers do not only clean the usu­al, smal­ler bits and pie­ces of fishing nets and other pla­s­tics from the beach, but then ven­ture to remo­ve a huge net­work of pla­s­tic ropes, that once may have been part of a very big fen­der. The pla­s­tic mons­ter requi­res all our forces for some hours, and 110 HP from the zodiacs in addi­ti­on to get it off the beach. Get­ting it on board is yet ano­ther task. Final­ly, the beast is on deck, and the last pla­s­tic war­ri­ors get their high­ly deser­ved din­ner after mid­night. Thanks to Sascha, Jana, Alex­an­dra and Mai­ke for their Dutch bread din­ner 🙂

Gal­lery Wood­fjord – 08th June 2016

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

This rope net­work is quite cer­tain­ly the lar­gest pie­ce of pla­s­tic gar­ba­ge that we Anti­gu­ans have ever remo­ved from a Spits­ber­gen beach and hau­led on deck. It will pro­ba­b­ly remain the big­gest one, it was on the edge of our capa­bi­li­ties. But now a lar­ge volu­me and weight of pla­s­tic ropes is gone, dan­ge­rous stuff for wild­life, and Spits­ber­gen is a good bit clea­ner.

Lief­defjord – 07th June 2016

„Ice is nice“ is a bit of an under­state­ment for the stun­ning beau­ty of Mona­co­b­reen today. Alt­hough it starts with „ice would be nice“. Just a few years ago, the fjord ice stret­ched 20 km fur­ther out. Now the­re isn’t the sligh­test trace of sea ice near Mona­co­b­reen.

But the­re is gla­cier ice. Ple­nty of it, in the most beau­tiful colours. All shades from bright white to deep blue.

Two small islands have appeared under the retrea­ting Seli­ger­breen. The­re are cover­ed with towers of gla­cier ice, but the rocks are sti­cking out at all sides. It won’t take long until we we can land on them, whe­re ever­y­thing has been buried under gla­cier ice just recent­ly.

Gal­lery Lief­defjord – 07th June 2016

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

After a litt­le hike on Ler­nerøya­ne, a land­scape that reminds a bit of Green­land, and loo­king for polar bears in outer Lief­defjord, we are now ancho­red in well-shel­te­red Mus­ham­na. A bree­ze is blo­wing and the snow is drif­ting quite den­se­ly, arc­tic win­ter is in the air. See what tomor­row brings.

Raud­fjord – 06th June 2016

Hamil­ton­buk­ta is a bit of Spits­ber­gen in a nuts­hell. Jag­ged moun­ta­ins, wild gla­ciers, busy bird cliffs – (almost) ever­y­thing you could ask for. Lots of fresh polar bear tracks in the snow.
The­re is still fjord ice deep in Ayerfjord. Some seal are bas­king in the sun.

As a novel­ty, we have got snow shoes on Anti­gua now. Wal­king in deep snow can be quite tough this ear­ly in the sea­son. But it is gre­at fun with snow shoes.

Gal­lery Raud­fjord – 06th June 2016

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

Engels­buk­ta, Ny Åle­sund – 05th June 2016

As men­tio­ned befo­re, we are start­ing on a high level. The good wea­ther stays with us, so we can make our first tun­dra expe­ri­ence in Engelskbuk­ta in bright suns­hi­ne. The reinde­ers have very small, young cal­ves, they are of cour­se shy. Snow bun­tings are sin­ging, pur­ple sand­pi­pers are piping, ptar­mi­gans are making their noi­ses, the sun is warm­ing us and life is good. A wha­ler is guar­ding the silence in his gra­ve.

Gal­lery Engels­buk­ta, Ny Åle­sund – 05th June 2016

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

The nor­t­her­ly wind is cal­ming down during the after­noon, which makes going along­side in Ny Åle­sund easier than expec­ted. As usu­al, we take a litt­le walk through the nor­t­hern­most sett­le­ment of the glo­be, having a look at its past and pre­sent. Of cour­se we do the litt­le pil­grimage to the famous air­ship mast. A reinde­er almost joins the group while I am tel­ling the sto­ries of the north pole expe­di­ti­ons of the past, and a very fri­end­ly polar fox comes to say good­bye as we are lea­ving Ny Åle­sund for this time.

Isfjord – 04th June 2016

Two days in Lon­gye­ar­by­en are never enough time, and it is actual­ly even less time, but a to-do-list long enough for a week. But it is final­ly done, with a litt­le help from kind peo­p­le. The evening BBQ with crew and fri­ends on the Isfjord coast, with a gre­at pan­ora­ma view, is more than ade­qua­te com­pen­sa­ti­on.

The next trip will take us to Spitsbergen’s nor­thwes­tern cor­ner. It is a start on a high level. The evening crui­se through Isfjord, in finest wea­ther, would have been a plea­su­re also wit­hout this Blue wha­le 🙂

Gal­lery Isfjord – 04th June 2016

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

Tem­pel­fjord – 02nd June 2016

Alre­a­dy the last day of this trip. Unbe­lie­va­ble how quick­ly more than 1000 miles go by. The fine tun­dra on Dia­ba­sod­den – just weeks ago the sce­ne of a memo­rable polar bear encoun­ter – is home to rather curious reinde­er who approach us repea­ted­ly. That is how it should be, not the other way around Bar­na­cle geese and Brünich’s guil­l­emots are sit­ting on the steep basalt cliffs, a ptar­mi­gan is on loo­kout on a rock, some­whe­re a fox is loo­king for prey.

Gal­lery Tem­pel­fjord – 02nd June 2016

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

Beau­tiful Tem­pel­fjord is the sce­ne for a final scenic crui­se (admit­ted­ly, we are also still loo­king for a polar bear, but whe­re­ver they curr­ent­ly are, we don’t know …) befo­re a last litt­le landing, with sce­n­ery, some natu­ral histo­ry and arc­tic silence, rounds the trip off.

Barents­burg & Ymer­buk­ta – 01st June 2016

So that was May, and now it is alre­a­dy June. But it looks like ear­ly July. The­re is not too much snow left, wide tun­dra are­as are alre­a­dy free of snow, espe­ci­al­ly on the west coast. The ice chart looks like late sum­mer.

And out­side it looks like Irkutsk or some­thing that way. That is, of cour­se, Barents­burg. What else!

Barents­burg is an impres­si­ve expe­ri­ence, as always. You just have to have seen it. And what real­ly blew me away was the hot cho­co­la­te. Serious­ly! By far the best hot cho­co­la­te in Spits­ber­gen. It even lea­ves Café Frue­ne in Lon­gye­ar­by­en far behind 🙂

Gal­lery Barents­burg & Ymer­buk­ta – 01st June 2016

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

We spend the ear­ly after­noon crui­sing seve­ral bays, loo­king for sce­n­ery (gre­at land­scape ever­y­whe­re) and polar bears (none), befo­re we cele­bra­te the trip duly. It has been – and still is – gre­at, even wit­hout a polar bear sight­ing.

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

160527c_Barentssee_13
160527c_Barentssee_17

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!

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