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Yearly Archives: 2017 − News & Stories


Tam­pe­re – 13th Octo­ber 2017

You may have noti­ced that this is about Tam­pe­re, which is not in Spits­ber­gen. It is actual­ly in Fin­land! Far down south!

Yes, true. But tho­se who have been with Rolf Stan­ge and Alex­an­der Lembke in Spits­ber­gen in recent years, on the sai­ling ship Anti­gua or in Pyra­mi­den, will know that the­re is a con­nec­tion. If you have shared some cho­co­la­te with Alex on the tun­dra or a beer in the evening, then you will have heard Alex tal­king about the Fin­nish sau­na. He has been working inten­se­ly with it for years. Of cour­se also enjoy­ing the very plea­sant prac­ti­cal aspects, but main­ly rese­ar­ching its cul­tu­ral and his­to­ri­cal sides. One preli­mi­na­ry result of this never-ending pro­ject is an exhi­bi­ti­on that was not about to be ope­ned in Tam­pe­re. (For some impres­si­ons of the actu­al ope­ning, click here – Born in Sau­na).

Gal­le­ry – Tam­pe­re – 13th Octo­ber 2017

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

I could, of cour­se, not miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take the trip to Fin­land. Befo­re the actu­al ope­ning, I still had a litt­le bit of time for an excur­si­on into the famous Fin­nish land­s­cape of forests and lakes. It was a bit exo­tic for me: lots of trees! But you get used to it. So befo­re we get to the actu­al exhi­bi­ti­on, we have got some impres­si­ons from the Fin­nish forests. The­re was no time for lon­ger trips, it is all from a walk clo­se to Tam­pe­re.

Sau­na Syn­tyneet – Born in Sau­na – 13th Octo­ber 2017

We are still in Tam­pe­re in Finn­land and we are get­ting to the cen­ter­pie­ce of the trip to the coun­try of forests, lakes and – sau­na. This is what it was all about. After a long time of inten­se work and pre­pa­ra­ti­ons, Alex­an­der Lembke could proud­ly open his exhi­bi­ti­on on Fri­day the 13th (that should bring some luck!).

Of cou­se you don’t have to show the peop­le in Fin­land what a sau­na loo­ks like. The­re are about 5.5 mil­li­on Finns, and they have got several mil­li­on sau­nas. If you live in Fin­land, then you know what a sau­na loo­ks like. If you live on the Ork­ney Islands, then you know what the sea loo­ks like.

Hence, Alex could fokus on his main sub­ject: Sau­na Syn­tyneet – Born in Sau­na. Lar­ge por­traits cover almost a cen­tu­ry of Finish life and histo­ry with peop­le who were born in a sau­na. Not just by chan­ce, as one might be mis­led to belie­ve (unless you real­ly know Fin­land), but becau­se the sau­na was and some­ti­mes still is con­si­de­red an appro­pria­te place for that kind of thing, for prac­ti­cal and cul­tu­ral rea­sons. Today, most Finns are born in modern hos­pi­tals, but it is still not unhe­ard of that someo­ne sees the light of the world in a sau­na. Of cour­se not one of the­se modern well­ness things that most non-Fin­nish peop­le con­si­der a sau­na, but a pri­va­te one that has been fami­ly pro­per­ty over genera­ti­ons.

Insti­tu­ti­ons inclu­ding the Goe­the-Insti­tu­te, the town of Tam­pe­re and th Fin­nish Sau­na Asso­cia­ti­on have sup­por­ted the exhi­bi­ti­on and were repre­sen­ted at the ope­ning, giving it an appro­pria­te­ly worthy frame with a cou­p­le of speaches. Some of tho­se who­se por­traits are forming the core of the exhi­bi­ti­on were also pre­sent.

Gal­le­ry – Sau­na Syn­tyneet – Born in Sau­na – 13th Octo­ber 2017

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

During the later cour­se of the evening, the­re was an excur­si­on to the object of sci­ence and pas­si­on: a sau­na. A real Fin­nish one, actual­ly the oldest public sau­na that is still in use in Fin­land! I did not take any pho­tos the­re, that is some­thing that you just don’t do (unless you are Alex and you have spent a lot of time to know tho­se who are invol­ved). So I can only recom­mend to you to take a trip to Fin­land and get some real sau­na expe­ri­ence! It is more than worth it!

Coal mining in Sveagru­va is histo­ry

The Nor­we­gi­an government in Oslo has deci­ded that the coal mine in Lunck­ef­jel­let near Sveagru­va will not come into pro­duc­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on. The mine was ope­ned in 2014 but sin­ce then, it has only been dri­ven in stand­by mode.

The mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske has suf­fe­red bad­ly from low pri­ces on the world mar­kets for coal for years (see for examp­le Store Nor­ske bai­lout, May 2015). Near 300 employees had to lea­ve, only about 100 are left.

The­se remai­ning ones will not be able to enjoy their jobs for many years eit­her, sin­ce Nor­we­gi­an Secreta­ry of Sta­te for Tra­de and Indus­try Moni­ca Mæland anoun­ced on Octo­ber 12, 2017, that the government will not sup­port rene­wed pro­duc­ti­ve mining in Sveagru­va, name­ly Lunck­ef­jel­let. Fur­ther pro­duc­tion without finan­cial sup­port from Oslo is not pos­si­ble. The government is also the owner of the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske. Neit­her the government nor Store Nor­ske are inte­res­ted in kee­ping the cur­rent stand­by ope­ra­ti­on upright.

As a result, the next cou­p­le of years will see the pha­se­out of mining acti­vi­ties in Sveagru­va and a big gene­ral cleanup of the place. This will, at least, keep most of today’s employees in Store Nor­ske busy.

It is also said that the government does not plan major alter­na­ti­ve acti­vi­ties in Sveagru­va, such as tou­rism or sci­ence. It is, howe­ver, not exclu­ded that some buil­dings may be used for the­se pur­po­ses.

The decisi­on does not affect coal mining in mine 7 near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which is taking place on a com­pa­ra­tively small sca­le to sup­ply the local power plant and minor volu­mes for export.

Soon histo­ry: Nor­we­gi­an coal mining in Sval­bard.

Coal mining, Svalbard.

Source: NRK

Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018: Novem­ber intro­du­ced

The next image from the Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018 is the mon­th Novem­ber. It shows a small group of Spits­ber­gen rein­de­er. The­se shed their ant­lers once every year. The exact time is dif­fe­rent for males and fema­les. It also varies indi­vi­du­al­ly, to some degree.

This small herd of rein­de­er shows all varia­ti­ons in their ant­lers: one does not have ant­lers at all, one dones only have one half and the third one has got the full set of ant­lers!

The pho­to shows rein­de­er in a win­ter envi­ron­ment at Dia­ba­sod­den in Sas­sen­fjord. In the ear­ly win­ter, rein­de­er have got their fat reser­ves, next to the meag­re vege­ta­ti­on that is most­ly hid­den under snow. Later, when the fat reser­ves are used up and the tun­dra is still under snow and ice, the risk from star­va­ti­on will incre­a­se stron­gly.

Spitsbergen-Calendar 2018: November. Reindeer

Spits­ber­gen-Calen­dar 2018: Novem­ber. A group of Spits­ber­gen-rein­de­er with dif­fe­rent varia­ti­ons of their ant­lers.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en ceme­tery may be moved becau­se of avalan­che risk

The ceme­tery of Lon­gye­ar­by­en has been in a calm part of the val­ley Lon­gye­arda­len for about a cen­tu­ry, bet­ween the church and Huset, the old town mee­ting place. It is still an acti­ve ceme­tery, the last buri­als were in 2013 and the­re may be more in the future. Only urn buri­als are allo­wed, howe­ver.

The loca­ti­on of the ceme­tery is calm, but may­be not calm enough in the long term. The steep moun­tain slo­pes near­by have pro­du­ced avalan­ches in recent years, most­ly landslips after peri­ods of rain, which have reached the ter­rain around the ceme­tery. In the last sum­mer, even the road bet­ween the church and Huset was clo­sed for pro­lon­ged peri­ods. It is pro­bab­ly only a ques­ti­on of time until the ceme­tery its­elf is hit and bad­ly dama­ged.

This is a sce­n­a­rio which Lon­gye­ar­by­en church with priest Leif Magne Hel­ge­sen are not wil­ling to accept. Hel­ge­sen has taken initia­ti­ve and star­ted a deba­te which may lead to a relo­ca­ti­on of the ceme­tery. It is a place of peace and digni­ty, for which many peop­le have strong fee­lings, accord­ing to Hel­ge­sen. He rea­sons that it would accord­in­gly be irre­spon­si­ble to lea­ve the ceme­tery in a place whe­re it may suf­fer bad dama­ge.

First mee­tings with aut­ho­ri­ties like the Sys­sel­man­nen, who is respon­si­ble for monu­ment con­ser­va­ti­on, and the local admin­stra­ti­on have taken place. Aut­ho­ri­ties in Lon­gye­ar­by­en have expe­ri­ence with moving and secu­ring gra­ves from his­to­ri­cal gra­ves that are threa­tened by coas­tal ero­si­on. Moving a who­le ceme­tery would, howe­ver, be a pro­ject of an ent­i­re­ly dif­fe­rent sca­le. Also rela­ti­ves will have to be invol­ved.

A new loca­ti­on would natu­ral­ly be near the church, which is a quiet part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en and has are­as that are not at risk from avalan­ches and lands­li­des.

The ceme­tery in Lon­gye­ar­by­en may be moved due to the risk of lands­li­des and avalan­ches.

Cemetery Longyearbyen.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018: the sto­ries behind 2 mon­ths

The Sep­tem­ber-page of our Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018

Spitzbergen-Kalender 2018: September. Walrusses and polar fox

Spits­ber­gen-Calen­der 2018: Sep­tem­ber. Wal­rus­ses and polar fox.

… shows a group of wal­rus­ses on the beach at Smee­ren­burg on Ams­ter­damøya doing what wal­rus­ses do best: slee­ping and diges­ting mus­sels. While we keep a respect­ful distance of a good 30 m in order not to dis­turb the wal­rus­ses during their nap, a chee­ky polar fox which does not care about regu­la­ti­ons and distan­ces runs direct­ly next to the wal­rus­ses! Who could not care less about the polar fox.

The polar fox left as quick­ly and unex­pec­ted­ly as it came, and only this snapshot remains from the memo­r­able encoun­ter.

And the Octo­ber-page …

Spitsbergen-Calender 2018: October. Bråsvellbreen, Nordaustland from a bird's eye view.

Spits­ber­gen-Calen­der 2018: Octo­ber. Brås­vell­breen, Nord­aus­t­land from a bird’s eye view.

… shows Brås­vell­breen. This migh­ty gla­cier belongs to the ice cap of Aus­t­fon­na on Nord­aus­t­land. The size is over­whel­ming, the ice cap has a total area of about 8500 squa­re kilo­me­tres! The gla­cier Brås­vell­breen is only a small part of that. It is well-known for the water­falls that are cas­ca­ding down the ice cliff during the mel­ting sea­son. Here, we see it from a bird’s eye per­spec­ti­ve!

Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about the Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018.

White hump­back wha­le again seen in Sval­bard

White hump­back wha­les are a very rare phe­no­me­non. Glo­bal­ly, sci­en­tists know of three indi­vi­du­als. Two of them live in Aus­tra­li­an waters and a third one in the north Atlan­tic. The lat­ter one has recent­ly been seen again for the first time in years. First sightin­gs date back to 2004 and 2006, then near the north Nor­way coast. In August 2012, a white hump­back wha­le was sigh­ted several times east of Spits­ber­gen. It was most likely the same ani­mal as in 2004 and 2006. No pho­tos are known from tho­se ear­ly sightin­gs, but in 2012, a num­ber of ama­zing shots were taken. Espe­cial­ly note­wor­thy are tho­se taken by Dan Fisher, mate on the sai­ling ship Anti­gua, from the mast of the ship. Due to the high per­spec­ti­ve, almost the who­le ani­mal can be seen on the pho­tos.

Hump­back wha­les live in all of the world’s oce­ans. They are usual­ly most­ly dark grey to black. The bot­tom side and parts of the flu­ke and flip­pers are part­ly white. The exact pat­tern can be used to iden­ti­fy indi­vi­du­als, just like the fin­ger­print of humans.

Com­ple­te­ly white hump­back wha­les are very rare. The unusu­al colour is usual­ly due to leu­cism, a par­ti­al loss of pig­men­ta­ti­on which leads to pale or white colour. Only one of the two white hump­back wha­les in Aus­tra­lia is actual­ly an albi­no.

Now, the­re has been a sigh­t­ing of a white hump­back wha­le in the north Atlan­tic, the first one sin­ce 2012. The wha­le was seen in late Sep­tem­ber by sci­en­tists on board the rese­arch ves­sel Johan Hjort in eas­tern Sval­bard. This area is often fre­quen­ted by hump­back wha­les at this time of the year.

White hump­back wha­le in Hin­lo­pen Strait, pho­to­gra­phed on August 11 2012 by Dan Fisher.

White humpback whale

Source: Hav­forsk­nings­in­sti­tuttet

Lon­gyear­breen – 29th Sep­tem­ber 2017

We pay ano­t­her litt­le visit to Lon­gyear­breen. How gre­at is it to have this kind of play­ground so clo­se to town? Meltwa­ter is rus­hing down the chan­nels, it is well worth to look for fos­sils in the morai­ne, and then the­re is ice, ice, ice. Also on the gla­cier, the­re are meltwa­ter streams in deeply incis­ed chan­nels, which some­ti­mes disap­pe­ar down into black holes. The polis­hed sur­face of the ice shows beau­ti­ful­ly alter­na­ting pat­terns of clear, blue ice and dark lay­ers with stones and (natu­ral) dirt.

Gal­le­ry – Lon­gyear­breen – 29th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

A lovely way to finish the time that we can still, at least in a wider sen­se, call the arc­tic sum­mer. Now, this arc­tic tra­vel­ler will return to the office. Also the­re, moun­tain ran­ges have piled up on the rather recent geo­lo­gi­cal histo­ry 🙂

Enda­len – 27th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The fol­lowing days in and around Lon­gye­ar­by­en show how much luck we have had on the last trip with Anti­gua. Now, we don’t see the smal­lest bit of blue sky for days on end, and usual­ly only the lower half of the moun­tains sur­roun­ding us. The sun does not rise high any­mo­re, and as it is con­stant­ly hid­den behind the cloud cover, it seems pret­ty dark even at day­ti­me. It is just over 4 weeks ago that the sun was shi­ning bright for 24 hours a day, and in just about 4 weeks from now we won’t see any of it at all for some time!

Good days altog­e­ther to get things done insi­de. And the­re is of cour­se more than enough to do after mon­ths out in the field 🙂 but still, we just have to get out, the tun­dra is cal­ling, the lonely val­leys … you don’t have to ven­ture far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to find natu­ral beau­ty, silence and soli­tu­de. You don’t always have to go as far as Hin­lo­pen Strait. Enda­len and Farda­len have got their own charm.

It is pret­ty mild, with tem­pe­ra­tures well abov the free­zing point, so the rivers still have a lot of water. In other years, you could cross even lar­ger rivers in hiking boots without get­ting wet feet when the frost was strong enough alrea­dy at this time of year, but not this time. So we have to find our way, cross some meltwa­ter streams and find a way around the water­fall in upper Enda­len by clim­bing up the morai­ne of Boger­breen. A huge land­s­cape of stones, mud and ice, a real ice age world. You could spend a lot of time here, dis­co­vering ama­zing stuff, enjoy­ing the ice, loo­king for fos­sils, but the days are get­ting shor­ter while the way does not. It is more than 20 km for today.

Gal­le­ry – Enda­len – 27th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Most peop­le will know Lon­gyear­pass with its steep slo­pe that is lea­ding from upper Lon­gyear­breen down to Farda­len from the win­ter sea­son. Many snow mobi­le groups take this rou­te then, for examp­le on the way to or from Bar­ents­burg. The slo­pe can be chal­len­ging, espe­cial­ly when the­re is soft snow and poor visi­bi­li­ty, and it has brought snow mobi­le dri­vers regu­lar­ly into trou­bles. Pie­ces of torn V-belts and other debris are silent wit­nes­ses of tho­se events. It may not seem much of a pro­blem when you dri­ve past it at speed, but in the sum­mer, the plastic seems – well, it is! – very much out of place and qui­te dis­gus­ting. Well, not too many peop­le come here in sum­mer­ti­me, alt­hough it is just about 6 km from Nyby­en, the nea­rest part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The­re is still Lon­gyear­breen bet­ween Farda­len and Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Its icy sur­face is blank as a mir­ror now after the rain that we have had the last days, so we are more than hap­py that we car­ri­ed the cram­pons all the way. Without them, it would be very dan­ge­rous to attempt the hike down the gla­cier now, but with them, it is actual­ly gre­at fun. During the last part of it, the clouds are com­ing down, tog­e­ther with the darkness that is set­ting in, so it is hard to see the way and the morai­ne with its meltwa­ter streams actual­ly loo­ks a bit threa­tening. Good to know whe­re to go. The last meltwa­ter river, com­ing down from Lars­breen, is almost big enough now to give us a foot­bath in our hiking boots, but who cares, we have reached the road and soon, the fry­ing pan is get­ting hot on the coo­ker …

Several polar bears obser­ved near sett­le­ments

Several polar bears have been seen near Lon­gye­ar­by­en and other sett­le­ments in the past few weeks.

Polar bears look cute, but can be nas­ty when they are loo­king for food

Polar bears Longyearbyen

One of the bears – a 17-year-old male – had to be anesthe­ti­zed and trans­por­ted by heli­co­p­ter to Nord­aus­t­lan­det in the north-east of Spits­ber­gen, after devas­ta­ting several huts at Kap Lai­la River bet­ween Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Bar­ents­burg on 15 Sep­tem­ber. Polar bear expert Jon Aars from the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te con­fir­med, that this was alrea­dy the bears second flight with a heli­co­p­ter. The polar bear was mar­ked as a cub and alrea­dy regis­tered in 2001, when he des­troy­ed a hut tog­e­ther with his bro­ther and mother. The mother was also obser­ved later in simi­lar burg­la­ries.

This is not an unusu­al beha­vi­or for a polar bear, says Jon Aars. Some polar bears even seem to have spe­cia­li­zed in hut burg­la­ries. But to stun the polar bears and fly them out can just be a short-term solu­ti­on. Last year in April a polar bear from Lon­gye­ar­by­en was flown to the island of Nord­aus­t­land several hund­red kilo­me­ters away. Only one year later he was back at the Isfjor­den.

At the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber, a fema­le polar bear with two cubs was obser­ved at Rev­ne­set – a few kilo­me­ters north of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Three attempts have alrea­dy been made to hunt them away by means of a heli­co­p­ter. The three bears retur­ned twice after a few days and reap­peared near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. After the third attempt, the bears have not yet been seen again.

Ano­t­her polar bear with two cubs was obser­ved near Svea and several bears were seen near Isfjord radio at Kapp Lin­né the last mon­th.

The fact that so many polar bears appe­ar in the vicini­ty of human sett­le­ments in such a short time does not occur too often, but is pro­bab­ly coin­ci­dence. Jon Aars belie­ves that such visits could occur more often in the future, as polar bears have been pro­tec­ted for many years. Gene­tic rese­arch shows that polar bears tend to visit the same are­as for several genera­ti­ons. Peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en will pro­bab­ly have to get used to fre­quent visits of polar bears. Or the other way around.

Polar bear mum with cub

Polar bear Longyearbyen

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Ita­li­an lost and found

After the search after a sai­ling boat last week, SAR (search and res­cue) for­ces from Sys­sel­man­nen and Red Cross were, only a few days later, again out on a major mis­si­on. On Satur­day after­noon at 16.20 hours, the local hos­pi­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en recei­ved a call from an Ita­li­an per­son who was stuck on a steep slo­pe and not able to move. The man said that he could see the air­port, without giving fur­ther details about his posi­ti­on. Next to lack of local know­ledge, lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties may have come in here. He finis­hed the con­ver­sa­ti­on without lea­ving his name or con­ta­ct details, so it was not pos­si­ble to con­ta­ct him again later.

Hence, SAR for­ces had to move out in darkness and strong winds. The Red Cross sear­ched Pla­tå­ber­get, which is situa­ted near the air­port, with about 30 peop­le. Final­ly, a light signal was seen on a steep slo­pe abo­ve the sea on Fuglef­jel­la, bet­ween Bjørn­da­len and Lit­le Bjørn­da­len. Strong winds pre­ven­ted SAR for­ces from reaching the area by heli­co­p­ter, so the Red Cross had to walk a lon­ger distance to get to the site. Short­ly after 5 a.m. the man was final­ly res­cued; he had spent at least about 13 hours in his posi­ti­on. All invol­ved got back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en the­re­af­ter in good con­di­ti­on.

The inci­dent shows how important it is to have at least basic local know­ledge and means of ori­en­ta­ti­on as well as the abi­li­ty to make a pro­per emer­gen­cy call if worst comes to worst. Next to some know­ledge of a lan­guage used local­ly, or at least a con­ta­ct who can pro­vi­de that, this invol­ves the cor­rect local emer­gen­cy con­ta­cts (the Sys­sel­man­nen), name and pho­ne num­ber. The man was in very steep ter­rain, in darkness, strong wind and without local know­ledge and ori­en­ta­ti­on. The inci­dent pro­vi­des a nega­ti­ve examp­le in several ways.

The steep slo­pe of Fuglef­jel­la bet­ween Bjørn­da­len and Lit­le Grum­ant­da­len on a nice sum­mer day, whe­re an Ita­li­an tou­rist was res­cued ear­ly Sunday morning in darkness and wind.

Italian Fuglefjella

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Isfjord – 21st Sep­tem­ber 2017

This days comes as a con­trast, showing us how it could have been much more often: grey and wet. We have been very lucky with many good days with gre­at light!

The rather dark light and wea­ther fits the deso­la­te atmo­s­phe­re of Bar­ents­burg, whe­re we spend the morning. The rus­si­an sett­le­ments have been part of Spits­ber­gen for the best part of a cen­tu­ry!

Later, we try our luck fin­ding orcas and polar bears that have recent­ly been seen in Isfjord. No luck with the wild­life, so we make a short, quiet final lan­ding not far from Kapp Wijk in Dick­son Land, to say good­bye to the arc­tic tun­dra.

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

A few hours later, we are along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and a gre­at trip comes to an end.

Krossfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2017

Krossfjord is such a huge area with many side bays! As we do only have one day here, we have plan­ned the day accord­ing to a rather strict sche­du­le, just for the con­trast, against our usu­al habits. We mana­ge to have a look at the migh­ty Lil­lie­höök­breen and then to visit a Ger­man war wea­ther sta­ti­on, all during the morning. The after­noon starts in a bay fur­ther east, with rug­ged alpi­ne moun­tain sce­ne­ry and a wild gla­cier that is cas­ca­ding down over steep rock­walls. Later, we find a polar bear res­ting on the tun­dra. It seems to be qui­te tired, but it is sit­ting up occa­sio­nal­ly, so ever­y­bo­dy can get some good views. We spend some time with this obser­va­ti­on, so we skip a final lan­ding of this days. We rather enjoy the fan­tastic BBQ buf­fet that Sascha and his team have crea­ted for us, and the ama­zing evening light that the sun, which is alrea­dy under the hori­zon at this time, paints on the clouds.

Later, we lift anchor and set cour­se for Isfjord.

Gal­le­ry – Krossfjord – 20th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

A morning full of worries, an after­noon full of joy – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2017

The morning star­ted with a mes­sa­ge that cau­sed gre­at con­cern. The Nor­we­gi­an search and res­cue ser­vice had recei­ved an emer­gen­cy signal from a sai­ling boat that had came into trou­ble yes­ter­day during the storm. Heli­co­p­ters had sear­ched the area alrea­dy last night, a coast­guard ves­sel was approa­ching. Nobo­dy had heard anything from the sai­ling boat so far, so the worst had to be fea­red. All ves­sels in the area – not that it were that many – were asked to assist, and so we did without any hesi­ta­ti­on. The coast­guard asked us to search Fuglefjord and Hol­miabuk­ta, and so we did with fee­lings of fear.

Then came the infor­ma­ti­on from the coast­guard that the boat had been found »in good con­di­ti­on«, the SAR mis­si­on was over. No fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on. All souls well! Very plea­sed to hear that!

We turn around and head for Raudfjord, whe­re we spend a lovely hour in the late morning in Hamil­ton­buk­ta. In the after­noon, Sep­tem­ber shows what it can do on a good day. Deep sun over rug­ged moun­tains, warm light on red­dish-brown rocks. An ama­zing after­noon!

Gal­le­ry – Raudfjord – 19th Sep­tem­ber 2017

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

Sai­ling boat lost and found

The­re have been strong winds up to storm for­ce in nort­hern Spits­ber­gen yes­ter­day (Mon­day). Two smal­ler boats seem to have got­ten into poten­ti­al­ly serious dif­fi­cul­ties. Emer­gen­cy signals have been trig­ge­red and search and res­cue for­ces are in the area with heli­co­p­ters and coast guard ships.

SV Anti­gua (whe­re the pre­sent aut­hor is on board) is also in the area, but we did not have more pro­blems than some cases of sea­sick­ness during our sai­ling pas­sa­ge yes­ter­day. So SV Anti­gua is NOT affec­ted by any serious pro­blems.

Update: after several hours sear­ching in the nor­thwest of Spits­ber­gen, whe­re also several tou­rist ships inclu­ding SV Anti­gua assis­ted, the boat was on Tues­day found „in good con­di­ti­on“. The SAR mis­si­on was offi­cial­ly aban­do­ned by the coast guard. It was later sta­ted that it was a local boat from Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The emer­gen­cy signal posi­ti­on was from Mag­da­le­n­efjord, while the boat was found in Wij­defjord, almost 100 km away as the ivory gull flies. The emer­gen­cy signal had been trig­ger auto­ma­ti­cal­ly without the crew being awa­re of it; pro­bab­ly, the emer­gen­cy beacon was lost in hea­vy seas and trig­ge­red its­elf.

Wind for­ce 8 on Mon­day at the north coast of Spits­ber­gen. Pho­to © Alex­an­der Lembke.

Storm Spitsbergen

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