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Yearly Archives: 2017 − Travelblog

On the way to Jan May­en

Let’s go to Jan May­en! That is the mot­to of the day. After the trip to Bear Island and some days of warm­ing up in com­pa­ra­tively sou­thern lati­tu­des (“Elbe­da­len” ins­tead of Advent­da­len), I am now on the way to Ice­land to join SY Auro­ra for an exci­ting trip to the wild, vol­ca­nic island in the far north. Three days of sai­ling over the open oce­an from Ice­land, and then an exci­ting week on Jan May­en.

Keep your fin­gers crossed for good wea­ther! We take care of the rest.

Next desti­na­ti­on: Jan May­en

Jan Mayen

Bil­lefjord – 1st May, 2017

In the mor­ning, the wind turns direct­ly into Skans­buk­ta, which does not hap­pen too often. But the eas­tern side of Bil­lefjord is per­fect­ly shel­te­red. And per­fect­ly sun­ny. A good oppor­tu­ni­ty for a final landing of this trip. Beach rid­ges and mari­ne ter­as­ses, drift­wood and the Bil­lefjor­den fault zone, we spend time with all of this as well as with the beau­tiful views and the silence.

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

We have not yet given up hope for a polar bear sight­ing. We are pret­ty sure that one or two polar bears will be around in the area. The­re is still ice in Adolf­buk­ta in front of Nor­dens­ki­öld­breen and in Petu­ni­abuk­ta, with ple­nty of seals. We keep wat­ching until the eyes start bur­ning. Not­hing in terms of polar bears. Well, you can’t have it all within a few days. A polar bear sight­ing would have been the icing on the cake, but this cake has been a gre­at one even wit­hout icing on it. It is a gre­at trip that is coming to an end now as we approach Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Isfjord – 31st May, 2017

The Rus­si­an beau­ty of Barents­burg was very evi­dent right next to our ship sin­ce last evening, and a visit the­re is always inte­res­t­ing, even though not ever­y­bo­dy falls instant­ly in love with the visu­al good qua­li­ties of the place. Even in suns­hi­ne! And we do not miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk, next to the local histo­ry, about the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, hot and cold war, poli­tics and peo­p­le and wha­te­ver else.

In Ymer­buk­ta, the land is still com­ple­te­ly snow cover­ed. It is sun­ny and warm, but the visu­al impres­si­on is that of win­ter, white and pure. Same in Bore­buk­ta and Yol­dia­buk­ta. Whe­re­ver you look, it is beau­tiful.

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

Equal­ly beau­tiful is din­ner in the evening. Thanks a lot, Sascha, Jana, Chris­ti­na and Alex!

Eidem­buk­ta-Alk­hor­net – 30th May, 2017

We were yes­ter­day blown into Eidem­buk­ta, the best place to stay as things were. It was a nice pas­sa­ge under sails. And today? The day starts with bright suns­hi­ne. And almost no ripp­le on the water! Let’s go ashore!

Wide-open west coast tun­dra land, a lot of snow in the low­lands, some rocky hills. And reinde­er. And reinde­er. And, in case I have not yet men­tio­ned it, reinde­er. They were almost stal­king us.

Later in Isfjord, we were bles­sed with a very rare encoun­ter. A blue wha­le! The lar­gest ani­mal ever crea­ted by evo­lu­ti­on. Brought to the edge of exc­tinc­tion by man­kind. And one of a few thousand of them which are still around in the world’s oce­ans is now and here swim­ming around Anti­gua. How gre­at is that!

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

We are hap­py to spend some time with the big blue wha­le, making our after­noon landing a bit shorter. Still, it turns out to be a very fine tour at Alk­hor­net.

For­lands­und – 29th May, 2017

You need calm wea­ther for a landing on the coas­tal flats on the west coast. The wea­ther is calm during the mor­ning, so the rocky shal­lows near the coast are no pro­blem and we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to go ashore in one of the bays in For­lands­und, north of Isfjord. The wide-open coas­tal plains with their varied shore­li­ens and gent­ly rol­ling hills are among­st my abso­lu­te favou­ri­tes of Spitsbergen’s many dif­fe­rent land­scape types!

In the after­noon, the focus is not the beau­ty of the land­scape, but the beau­ty of the wild­life. „Beau­ty“ is, of cour­se, a rela­ti­ve term. A good encoun­ter with wal­rus­ses is one of the most ama­zing wild­life expe­ri­en­ces that you can have in the arc­tic!

Gal­lery – For­lands­und – 29th May, 2017

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

Horn­sund – 28th May, 2017

We are get­ting to Horn­sund in the late evening. A calm night at anchor near a gla­cier which is shi­ning in the sun – what a place, what a life! The­se are words by Wan­ny Wold­stad, who spent some years in Horn­sund in the 1930s. She must have known!

We have also got a good life here, not for seve­ral years, but for one day, at least. We start with a walk at Gnå­lod­den. Snow and ice, rocks and tun­dra, sea­birds on the cliff, views of gla­ciers and moun­ta­ins.

Gal­lery – Horn­sund – 28th May, 2017

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

Later, we see even more ice and more gla­ciers in inner­most Horn­sund. Now we are lea­ving the fjord, sil­ent­ly under sail, as they have done it here for cen­tu­ries.

Sør­kapp: ice – 27th May, 2017

We reach the open drift ice that is drif­ting south from Storfjor­den after a slight­ly bum­py, but fast pas­sa­ge alre­a­dy during the mor­nign. Back to the world of the ice! Ever­y­bo­dy is fasci­na­ted by the ice floes that are slow­ly drif­ting by.

And ever­y­bo­dy is even more fasci­na­ted by the attempt to go along­side a nice and solid ice floe with Anti­gua, but it does not work in the end – too much swell. But what do we have the Zodiacs for? Ever­y­bo­dy gets a chan­ce to step out onto the ice. The reac­tions vary from noi­sy enthu­si­asm and a lot of sel­fies to silent fasci­na­ti­on for the impres­si­ons and the sound of ice, water and air.

Gal­lery – Sør­kapp: ice – 27th May, 2017

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

Bear Island (II) – 26th May, 2017

After yet ano­ther, lon­gish Zodiac crui­se into the troll sce­n­ery king­dom at the sou­thern tip of Bear Island, it is nice to get a calm night’s sleep at anchor in Sør­ham­na. Fal­ling asleep with the sight of the cliffs and the sound of the sea­birds. And waking up again with exact­ly the same impres­si­ons.

Espe­ci­al­ly as the wea­ther is still nice. Ano­ther landing, this time in Kval­ross­buk­ta, turns out to be easy, just a litt­le bit of swell and surf on the beach. The­re was a wha­ling sta­ti­on from the peri­od of indus­tri­al wha­ling here more than a hundred years ago, one out of two from tho­se days in Spits­ber­gen. And it was here that the Ger­man jour­na­list Theo­dor Ler­ner star­ted to take parts of Bear Island into pos­ses­si­on in 1899. Fur­ther occu­pa­ti­ons fol­lo­wed, as well as bizar­re mee­tings with his Ger­man (!) com­pe­ti­tors who were the­re in order of emper­or Wil­helm II, and a Rus­si­an batt­le­ship (if you read Ger­man, then you can find all the­se sto­ries in my book „Die Bären­in­sel“).

Also a Ger­man wea­ther sta­ti­on from the war and an attempt to mine lead ore have left some scar­ce traces in the vici­ni­ty. Nevert­hel­ess, all in all the land­scape appears to be untouch­ed. Human influence is most­ly coming from far away. Envi­ron­men­tal toxins, the fishing indus­try and cli­ma­te chan­ge all have their influence on Bear Island, but traces of local human acti­vi­ty are very limi­t­ed and natu­re is clai­ming her ter­ri­to­ry back.

Gal­lery – Bear Island (II) – 26th May, 2017

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

Final­ly it is time to say good­bye to Bear Island, we are expec­ting nor­t­her­ly winds in the after­noon and no fur­ther landings. A luxu­ry to sit on deck and enjoy the view of cliffs and sea stacks pas­sing by. Final­ly we are drif­ting not far from the wea­ther sta­ti­on Bjørnøya Meteo and I say hel­lo over the radio. Turns out that we are invi­ted to visit! To my own sur­pri­se, they know my name here, thanks to my Bear Island book and even my hike around the island is not yet for­got­ten, alt­hough it is a cou­ple of years ago by now. Of cour­se we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to visit the Nor­we­gi­ans on their wea­ther sta­ti­on. A fine finish to a fine visit to Bear Island. I am loo­king for­ward to the next time!

Bear Island – 25th May, 2017

Bear Island can be a tough place, as expo­sed as its rocky cliff coasts are lying in the midd­le of the wild nor­t­hern sea. But the nor­t­hern sea is not always wild, and it does have its advan­ta­ges to know some good places. It feels good to get solid Bear Island ground under the rub­ber boots again! To stand on top of the cliffs, wat­ching down on guil­l­emots, ful­mars and puf­fins. Fur­ther inland, most of the ground is still snow cover­ed, the soil lar­ge­ly fro­zen.

Gal­lery – Bear Island – 25th May, 2017

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

The wea­ther is on our side, and we make good use of that. It is a rare and gre­at oppor­tu­ni­ty to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te the who­le sou­thern tip of Bear Island in Zodiacs. Bird cliff after bird cliff, ten thou­sands of Brünich’s and com­mon guil­l­emots, kit­ty­wa­kes and ful­mars. Steep cliffs more than 400 met­res high, off­shore stacks, coas­tal caves and nar­row pas­sa­ges, one mira­cle of natu­re after the other, some of them being small, others quite lar­ge. All of them beau­tiful and impres­si­ve. The Nor­we­gi­ans have a good word to descri­be this kind of land­scape, they call it „trollsk“. A mys­tery land­scape, with hid­den tre­asu­res, with some kind of magic about it. I don’t know of a fit­ting Eng­lish word. Trollsk, that’s it, that descri­bes the sou­thern tip of Bear Island per­fect­ly well, with Glu­pen and Sylen, Stap­pen and Per­le­por­ten.

Barents Sea – 24th May, 2017

The day starts with a lively swell, which is decre­asing later tog­e­ther with the wind. Seve­ral groups of dol­phins appear tog­e­ther with one or the other wha­le, making time pas­sing by quick­ly. 250 miles from Fugløya on the edge of the Nor­we­gi­an main­land to Bear Island, and the expec­ta­ti­ons are rising!

Pho­to – Barents Sea – 24th May, 2017

Barents Sea - 24th May, 2017

Trom­sø – 23rd May, 2017

Trom­sø, the metro­po­lis of nor­t­hern Nor­way, with her lanes and the har­bour, an invi­ta­ti­on for a love­ly litt­le stroll. The muse­ums are a gre­at men­tal warm-up for the Arc­tic, and the moun­tain Fløy­en offers a spor­ti­ve exer­cise which is nice befo­re we start the crossing of the Barents Sea, up to Bear Island and Spits­ber­gen. It is a bit cold and clou­dy, just right to set the mind for the Arc­tic!

Gal­lery – Trom­sø – 23rd May, 2017

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

Stok­mark­nes & Wha­le­wat­ching – 22nd May, 2017

We are pas­sing Stok­mark­nes on the way north and we make a litt­le stop the­re. This is whe­re the famous Hur­tig­ru­ten was inven­ted, the coas­tal steam­er line that con­nec­ted north Nor­way to the rest of the coun­try and thus to the world. They have dedi­ca­ted a muse­um to the Hur­tig­ru­ten in Stok­mark­nes. And if you come with a ship, then you are wel­co­med by a who­le Hur­tig­ru­ten ship on the shore!

They are curr­ent­ly doing a lot of work on the muse­um, but it is alre­a­dy defi­ni­te­ly well worth a visit.

Gal­lery – Stok­mark­nes & Wha­le­wat­ching – 22nd May, 2017

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

And so is the con­ti­nen­tal shelf edge off the outer coast. That area is famous for wha­les, and we mana­ge inde­ed to find a group of pilot wha­les after a while.

From Kabel­våg to Troll­fjord – 21st May, 2017

Not having the nor­t­hern lights at this time of year does have advan­ta­ges – you can get some hours of sleep befo­re start­ing to hike from Kabel­våg to Svol­vær. It seems to have been a long win­ter here in Lofo­ten, just as in Spits­ber­gen fur­ther north. The­re is still a lot of snow in the ter­rain, it is wet, and lakes are still lar­ge­ly fro­zen.

The white bea­ches on Skro­va bring a strong con­trast to that, having a tro­pi­cal appearance. And sai­ling nor­thwards in Ves­t­fjord gives us later the fee­ling of being some­whe­re in the Car­ri­be­an. A good life under a wide, open sky!

Gal­lery – From Kabel­våg to Troll­fjord – 21st May, 2017

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

In Troll­fjord, the sce­n­ery does, howe­ver, not lea­ve any doubt that we are in north Nor­way. Also here, the­re is still a lot of snow.

Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 20 May, 2017

We went along­side in Rei­ne in the ear­liest mor­ning hours. Not that I took much noti­ce, initi­al­ly. I was not far away, phy­si­cal­ly. But you have to get a litt­le bit of sleep at some stage. Even though it is not yet mid­night sun time here. Ofi­ci­al­ly, the sun is still going down for 3 hours or so. But the­re is no dark­ness, of cour­se.

It is a bit over­cast, but calm and dry, so we take the Zodiacs to crui­se deep into Rei­nefjord for a good hike. We fol­low a shal­low bay and climb up a ridge that sepa­ra­tes the inner bran­ches of Rei­nefjord from the outer coast. The­re, we have one of the­se wide, white sand bea­ches that the outer side of the Lofo­ten islands is famous for. Beau­tiful! If it was just 20 degrees war­mer, we could spend a lazy day on the beach … but it is quite fresh, and we are hap­py about that. We rather enjoy the views of the steep gra­ni­te walls around the bay. Stun­ning sce­n­ery! A high-alpi­ne moun­tain chain at sea level.

Gal­lery – Rei­ne & Nusfjord – 20 May, 2017

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

A visit to the love­ly litt­le old fishing vil­la­ge of Nusfjord in the after­noon makes the day com­ple­te, befo­re we set cour­se for Kabel­våg for a calm night along­side in the har­bour.

Bodø & Salts­trau­men – 19 May, 2017

Here we go! Today we start the arc­tic sum­mer sea­son. Boar­ding SV Anti­gua in Bodø, we set cour­se nor­thwards, final desti­na­ti­on Spits­ber­gen, stop­ping in Lofo­ten and Bear Island on the way. Yes, let’s get going! Arc­tic, we are coming! 🙂

As we get going reason­ab­ly quick­ly, we don’t want to miss the oppor­tu­ni­ty to crui­se in the famous Salts­trau­men with its impres­si­ve tidal curr­ents.

Gal­lery – Bodø & Salts­trau­men – 19 May, 2017

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


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