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Yearly Archives: 2017 − News & Stories


Sys­sel­man­nen takes action against drugs in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not enti­re­ly free of drugs, as most places whe­re humans live. Apart from the Scan­di­na­vi­an style of alco­hol con­sump­ti­on, which may be note­wor­t­hy as seen from a cen­tral-Euro­pean per­spec­ti­ve, the­re are also har­der drugs. It is not a secret in Lon­gye­ar­by­en that the­re is more or less regu­lar con­sump­ti­on of hemp in cer­tain cir­cles.

Every cou­ple of years, when­ever it is con­side­red neces­sa­ry, the Sys­sel­man­nen takes action against drugs, among­st others with sear­ching and detenti­on of tho­se found respon­si­ble for kee­ping the sce­ne ali­ve. In the past, this has even led to the expul­si­on of peo­p­le from Sval­bard, with an ent­ry ban for a cer­tain peri­od such as two years. In modern times, banish­ment is cer­tain­ly rather unu­su­al in juris­dic­tion in wes­tern count­ries, but this instru­ment is kept available in Sval­bard to pro­tect the small and geo­gra­phi­cal­ly iso­la­ted com­mu­ni­ty. The aut­ho­ri­ties are awa­re of the dan­ger of drugs for bored youngs­ters in the long polar win­ter in a small place like Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The sub­ject is curr­ent­ly coming up again. Last weekend, the Sys­sel­man­nen has sear­ched places and peo­p­le with help from poli­ce forces from main­land Nor­way, inclu­ding a trai­ned poli­ce dog from Oslo. Three per­sons were taken in cus­t­ody. The inves­ti­ga­ti­on will be con­tin­ued.

Typi­cal envi­ron­ments whe­re hemp has been found in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the past are youngs­ters and stu­dents. This time, peo­p­le who are in the focus of poli­ce atten­ti­on belong to the tou­rism indus­try. The­re is men­ti­on of drugs har­der than hemp, but no fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on has been released so far.

Drugs in the Arc­tic? As if natu­re its­elf was not exci­ting enough!

Drugs in the Arctic

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Bil­lefjord – 14th August 2017

On the last day of such a long, inten­se trip, it is allo­wed to be a litt­le bit wistful. 18 days are still too short!

The­re was a choice in the mor­ning, a tour through the sett­le­ment of Pyra­mi­den or a hike on the moun­tain Pyra­mi­den. Most went for the old Rus­si­an mining sett­le­ment.

Then it was time for our final landing. We went to Skans­buk­ta, a clas­sic for good reasons. We enjoy­ed it.

The­re was some suc­cessful fishing befo­re we came back to Advent­fjord, so we had some fresh fish to enjoy for later. Then, we were soon along­side in the har­bour in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Same place as 18 days ago, but still ever­y­thing is dif­fe­rent. It is a big dif­fe­rence if you have such a big voya­ge ahead of you or behind you.

Gal­lery – Bil­lefjord – 14th August 2017

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

We enjoy­ed a lot of beau­tiful, inten­se days tog­e­ther, most­ly with a lot of wea­ther luck, we had the wild­life, the who­le lot … thanks to all of you who were the­re, it was gre­at!

Barents­burg & Grønfjord­fjel­let – 13th August 2017

The pas­sa­ge last night up to Isfjord was almost sur­pri­sin­gly calm. It was defi­ni­te­ly a good idea to wait the wea­ther out in Fri­dt­jov­ham­na for a cou­ple of hours. Which is not a bad thing any­way, con­side­ring the sce­n­ery the­re.

In Barents­burg, we spent the mor­ning with some sight­see­ing and lear­ning about Spits­ber­gen 20th cen­tu­ry histo­ry and poli­tics. We also got used to the usu­al dan­gers of civi­li­sa­ti­on again, car traf­fic and things like that. So most of us deci­ded to spend the after­noon in the arc­tic natu­re again, doing a bit of a spor­ti­ve hike up the moun­ta­ins to gain a gre­at scenic view over Grønfjord.

Gal­lery – Barents­burg & Grønfjord­fjel­let – 13th August 2017

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

Sai­ling boat almost sunk in Spits­ber­gen

On Sun­day (August 6) mor­ning, a pri­va­te yacht got into a dra­ma­tic situa­ti­on at sea in Sval­bard. It took water and was not far from sin­king. Three per­sons were on board, all of them Ger­man. They are all well now. The inci­dent took case near Dunder­buk­ta, at the west coast of Spits­ber­gen south of Bell­sund.

Shal­lows and expo­sed shore­li­nes: the west coast of Spits­ber­gen can by very inhos­pi­ta­ble.

Spitsbergen west coast

The crew cal­led for help via Ger­man res­cue ser­vices, who alar­med the Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties. The three, who were alre­a­dy on board their life raft at that time, were then taken on board the Nor­we­gi­an car­go ship Norb­jørn. Norb­jørn also star­ted to tow the sai­ling boat. The three res­cued per­sons remain­ed on Norb­jørn for the pas­sa­ge to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which they pre­fer­red rather than a flight on the heli­c­op­ter which was soon on the sce­ne. Their sai­ling boat was towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en by the pilot boat from the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

It tur­ned out that a hose that con­nec­ted a sep­tic tank to the hull had got loo­se, enab­ling water to rush into the boat.

Accor­ding to the Sys­sel­man­nen, the case will be han­ded over to the insu­ran­ces wit­hout fur­ther poli­ce invol­vement.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Recher­chefjord – 12th August 2017

As expec­ted, Recher­chefjord did not let us down. We got some late, but calm hours of sleep and a love­ly hike.
It is still very win­dy all over the place, and we wait it out during the evening, hoping for the wind to calm at least a litt­le bit down for our pas­sa­ge up to Isfjord.

Gal­lery – Recher­chefjord – 12th August 2017

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

Sør­kapp & Rak­sod­den – 11th August 2017

The south cape lived up to its bad repu­ta­ti­on, with wind force 7-8. At least it was coming from a useful direc­tion, pushing us under sails up to a good 11 knots. Not bad for this 40 ton steel mons­ter that they call a sai­ling boat.

We were all more than hap­py when we rea­ched a reason­ab­ly shel­te­red ancho­ra­ge south of Horn­sund. It was gre­at to stretch legs a litt­le bit in the wide-open west coast tun­dra. The most unfor­gettable part of this landing was pro­ba­b­ly Heinrich’s spe­cial maneou­vre when picking us up. It resul­ted in a wet skip­per, some­thing he and we will sur­vi­ve. But we do reg­ret the loss of the engi­ne. Well, only three more full days to go. We will make do wit­hout.

Gal­lery – Sør­kapp & Rak­sod­den – 11th August 2017

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

All we need now is a well-shel­te­red ancho­ra­ge and some hours of sleep. Horn­sund was not­hing but a wind fun­nel and fur­ther north, the sea was raging white. Well, we should reach a calm place in Recher­chefjord just after 5 a.m. …

Negri­b­reen & Free­man­sund – 10th August 2017

Negri­b­reen, the lar­gest gla­cier of the main island of Spits­ber­gen, was a bit fog­gy, but nevert­hel­ess very impres­si­ve. But the clear high­light of the day, if not of the trip, was defi­ni­te­ly the young polar bear that was che­wing on a rather rot­ten wal­rus in Free­man­sund. The­re are no words to descri­be that expe­ri­ence. None of us will for­get that, that’s for sure!

Gal­lery – Negri­b­reen & Free­man­sund – 10th August 2017

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

Eas­tern­most Spits­ber­gen – 09th August 2017

We had seve­ral polar bear sightin­gs on the way towards Heley­sund, but all of them distant in the ter­rain. The­re is a litt­le cliff coast south of Kapp Pay­er, Spitsbergen’s eas­tern­most point, which was not hel­pful in this case.

The curr­ents in Heley­sund tur­ned initi­al­ly out to be so strong that we deci­ded to make a litt­le walk in Buch­holz­buk­ta. Spitsbergen’s eas­tern­most land (I am obvious­ly tal­king about the main island here). With a ruin of an old trap­per hut, 4 wal­ru­ses, high arc­tic sce­n­ery, a litt­le river, the who­le lot.

Later, we found 2 polar bears on Barent­søya under a bird cliff. Well-fed and good in shape. This area has now been ice-free for a while. It is ama­zing that the­se polar bears that hang out near bird cliffs and don’t seem to feed on any­thing but vege­ta­ti­on and chicks and eggs that are in reach are so often in real­ly good shape.

Gal­lery – Eas­tern­most Spits­ber­gen – 09th August 2017

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

Orm­ho­let tur­ned out to be a peaceful place, con­side­ring the curr­ents, as we made ano­ther approach to tho­se pas­sa­ges in the later after­noon. So it was a silent scenic plea­su­re to sail through it. Just as this tiny litt­le island near Barent­søya whe­re we made an evening walk to round the day off. Com­ple­te­ly untouch­ed natu­re, whe­re few peo­p­le have ever set their foot on. Many arc­tic terns, but not too agres­si­ve as their brea­ding sea­son is lar­ge­ly finis­hed, but they are always exci­ted and make a lot of noi­se which suits the other­wi­se silent tun­dra well. Coar­se stones here, thick car­pets of tun­dra the­re. The lat­ter have deve­lo­ped through mil­le­nia of fer­ti­liza­ti­on by the birds. The sun is cas­ting a beau­tiful light on Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers in the back­ground, a pan­ora­ma that we enjoy in the late evening back on board Arc­ti­ca II.

Hin­lo­pen (2) – 08th August 2017

The anchor fell com­pa­ra­tively ear­ly last night, it was inde­ed still yes­ter­day and not alre­a­dy today, at Wahl­ber­gøya. That was a good thing, after all tho­se long days. So we could start the day today with a nice walk across Wahl­ber­gøya, the famous „two peaks hike“, which nobo­dy had done befo­re.

And of cour­se Wahl­ber­gøya does not „only“ have gre­at sce­n­ery …

Gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen (2) – 08th August 2017

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

Hin­lo­pen – 07th August 2017

Some low clouds and fog don’t keep us from hiking up a mythi­cal moun­tain in Lom­fjord, and as the fog cle­ars, the reward comes in shape of ama­zing views of the sur­roun­ding sce­n­ery. And a love­ly, long hike any­way. It is just gre­at to spend a lot of time out­side in this kind of natu­re!

Seve­ral hundred thousand Brünich’s guil­l­emots round the day off big style.

Gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen – 07th August 2017

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

Cherm­si­deøya-Lang­grun­nod­den – 06th August 2017

Ice and fog got den­ser and den­ser as we sai­led into Rijpfjord last night, so in the end we had to turn around. One poten­ti­al ancho­ra­ge after the other was blo­cked by ice, so we just had to con­ti­nue until we final­ly found a calm place at Cherm­si­deøya. That is the place with the famous geo­glyphs, whe­re ever­y­bo­dy put the name of their ship onto the ground with rocks: the Jäde­rin (Arc-de-Meri­di­an expe­di­ti­on, 1898), the Kras­sin (res­cued Nobi­le in 1928, the Ger­man sub­ma­ri­ne that brought the crew of the war wea­ther sta­ti­on out to Hau­de­gen in inner Rijpfjord in 1944.
We met some more ice with wild­life on the way to the west. No polar bears on ice, whe­re­ver they are.

Gal­lery – Cherm­si­deøya-Lang­grun­nod­den – 06th August 2017

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

We mana­ged to do ano­ther landing on Nord­aus­t­land, on Lang­grun­nod­den. Ano­ther place whe­re you don’t get every day now we are moving sou­thwards in Hin­lo­pen Strait. For the first time in this trip, we have got some noti­ceable wind and sea. Of cour­se, it is head­wind. Well, just for a cou­ple of hours.

Ros­søya – 05th August 2017

The fog came down during the night, and the world was grey when we awo­ke today. Good that we went ashore last night, when the light was so beau­tiful! And now let’s see if we can still make it a bit fur­ther north.

We could. Who would have thought that we would reach Ros­søya a few hours later? Svalbard’s nor­t­hern­most island, or rather a rock or a sker­ry. From the distance, it has the shape of a turtle’s back. Just to the south of it, Ves­le Taveløya is towe­ring in the fog, like a threa­tening shadow. It is home to Svalbard’s nor­t­hern­most sea­bird colo­ny, inclu­ding a sur­pri­sin­gly lar­ge num­ber of puf­fins.

Ros­søya is not more than a sker­ry, but it is Svalbard’s nor­t­hern­most bit of land and as such cer­tain­ly a signi­fi­cant place. It is inte­res­t­ing to see Ros­søya, but it is much bet­ter to go ashore and have a clo­se look – that is some­thing dif­fe­rent. But not exact­ly easy. Ice and fog were a bit mar­gi­nal, but the visi­bi­li­ty was good enough and Hein­rich ancho­red the Arc­ti­ca II so beau­tiful­ly clo­se to the island that were were well shel­te­red from drif­ting ice floes.

Timon and I che­cked out two rou­tes befo­re we found a useable ascent. Ros­søya is actual­ly pret­ty steep. But after a while, ever­y­bo­dy who was hap­py to ven­ture on this one had made it to the top of the island. High up on Svalbard’s nor­t­hern­most bit of land! Yeah! The­re is some lone­so­me scur­vy grass, a lot of lichens and three cairns. The big­gest one is pre­suk­ma­b­ly the nor­t­hern­most one built by the Rus­si­an-Swe­dish Arc-de-Meri­di­an expe­di­ti­on. And a pair of arc­tic sku­as. Svalbard’s nor­t­hern­most bree­ding birds are arc­tic sku­as, who would have thought that?

Gal­lery – Ros­søya – 05th August 2017

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

Back on board, the fog was coming down again and the ice was drif­ting in. So we made our nor­t­hern­most turn at 80°50’N and stea­m­ed sou­thwards, to Nord­aus­t­land.

Frank­lind­a­len-Phippsøya – 04th August 2017

The infi­ni­te spaces, the emp­ty­ness and lonely­ness of Nord­aus­t­land can be quite strong, espe­ci­al­ly if you expo­se yours­elf to it for a bit lon­ger. A good 9 kilo­me­t­res are not the world, but a good hike across the end­less stone desert. Silent lakes, the sad call of the red-throa­ted diver and gent­ly rol­ling, rocky hills.

Gal­lery – Frank­lind­a­len-Phippsøya – 04th August 2017

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

And then: let’s see how far to the north we may get. We got pret­ty far. The ice did try to stop us, but it had not expec­ted the capa­bi­li­ties of Arc­ti­ca II and Hein­rich Eggen­fell­ner to push through it. So we got as far as Phippsøya and of cour­se we made use of the beau­tiful evening light by a walk across the island, one of the nor­t­hern­most ones of the who­le Sval­bard archi­pe­la­go, to a view­point from whe­re we had a clear view all the way to the north pole.

Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord – 03rd August 2017

The day was very pro­mi­sing alre­a­dy from a geo­gra­phi­cal view­point, even if it had not been for any­thing else. Who has been in Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord? Exact­ly. And we want to go to places whe­re not ever­y­bo­dy else is going. Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord is pret­ty high on this hit­list.

Just have a look at the sea chart. No sur­pri­se that lar­ger ships don’t come in here. It brings a lot of fun and a bit of adre­na­line to sail through the shal­low waters of Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord, south of Lågøya.

This litt­le island in Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord was not sup­po­sed to be much more than the site for a litt­le mor­ning walk. It tur­ned out to be ano­ther litt­le adre­na­line kick, as sud­den­ly we saw a polar bear wal­king around not too far away. We moved away wit­hout much dra­ma and back on Arc­ti­ca II, we got some nice views of the beau­tiful ani­mal.

We had some stun­ning views of the grand sce­n­ery in inner Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord from a litt­le hill, vie­w­ing over the bar­ren coas­tal land­scape to the north and the maje­s­tic gla­ciers (Fran­k­lin­brea­ne) to the south and east. In con­trast to most of Svalbard’s gla­ciers, they have even advan­ced a litt­le bit in recent years. Later, we had a good look at the gla­cier fronts and some of the many ice­bergs as we were crui­sing through that magni­fi­ci­ent bit of sce­n­ery with Arc­ti­ca II. Ama­zing how Hein­rich maneou­vres his boat in the­se icy waters! The sce­n­ery is inde­ed of Green­lan­dic qua­li­ty, and that means some­thing.

Gal­lery – Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord – 03rd August 2017

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

We made a nice evening walk in Jäder­in­fjord, a side bay of Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord and ano­ther rather remo­te place. Fog was moving in a bit, but given we had seen the who­le sce­n­ery in sple­ndid wea­ther during the day, we just enjoy­ed the atmo­sphe­re and the light.

What a day!

Mos­sel­buk­ta-Sorg­fjord – 02nd August 2017

It is gre­at how Hein­rich is maneou­vring Arc­ti­ca II to hid­den ancho­ring posi­ti­ons in shal­low, unchar­ted bays. That brings us shel­te­red ancho­ra­ges and landing oppor­tu­ni­ties whe­re things are other­wi­se get­ting more chal­len­ging. This night, it was a beau­tiful­ly calm anchor site in inner­most Mos­sel­buk­ta. And a love­ly mor­ning walk at Nordenskiöld’s old expe­di­ti­on base Pol­hem from 1872-73.

Gal­lery – Mos­sel­buk­ta-Sorg­fjord – 02nd August 2017

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

We spend the after­noon doing a moun­tain hike in Sorg­fjord. Stun­ning views over wide-open arc­tic land­scapes under a blue sky!

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