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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News & Stories


Pri­son sen­tence for dis­tur­bing polar bears in Bill­efjord by dri­ving car on ice

A Nor­we­gi­an court has deli­ve­r­ed a jud­ge­ment in the case of a man who dis­tur­bed polar bears in Bill­efjor­den ear­lier this year by dri­ving on the fjord ice by car.

The 58 year old Ukrai­ni­an citi­zen was living and working in Pyra­mi­den. He went out on the fjord ice by car to pick up two col­leagues who had been on tour. Ins­tead of going direct­ly back to Pyra­mi­den, they deci­ded to take a turn into neigh­bou­ring Petu­nia­buk­ta to check the con­di­ti­on of a hut. Accord­ing to the dri­ver, he was not awa­re of the pre­sence of two polar bears who were mating at the time in ques­ti­on. He saw the bears at a distance of 50 metres and stop­ped immedia­te­ly. The polar bears aban­do­ned their mating.

Polar bears on fjord ice

Polar bear fami­ly on fjord ice in Isfjord.

The Ukrai­ni­an dri­ver did not have a driver’s licen­se, this had been with­drawn by Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties ear­lier this year becau­se of other traf­fic offen­ces. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, this con­tri­bu­t­ed to the cur­rent court jud­ge­ment, tog­e­ther with the fact that it is gene­ral­ly not allo­wed to dri­ve a car on fjord ice (or any­whe­re else other than on roads) in Spits­ber­gen. Dis­tur­bing of the polar bears alo­ne would not have been suf­fi­ci­ent for a pri­son sen­tence.

The man was sen­ten­ced to 30 days of pri­son without pro­ba­ti­on.

And now: Lofo­ten! Troll­fjor­den & Skro­va

We arri­ve in Troll­fjor­den thanks to an ear­ly start in Svol­vær. Troll­fjor­den is one of the most sce­nic pla­ces in Lofo­ten. Mother natu­re must have had a gre­at time when she made this part of the pla­net during the ice age.

Trollfjord

Ent­e­ring Troll­fjord.

Having a gre­at time – that’s also what we did the­re and then. It could not have been bet­ter, com­ple­te­ly calm, dry, clear visi­bi­li­ty up to the hig­hest peaks. We did not hesi­ta­te to put the Zodiacs on the water and crui­se Troll­fjor­den, enjoy­ing the land­s­cape while being in the midd­le of it.

Trollfjord

SV Anti­gua in Troll­fjord.

It got even bet­ter when the sails went up on Anti­gua and the crew went all up on the job beam for a crew pho­to. Pri­celess!

Trollfjord

The crew of SV Anti­gua in Troll­fjord. Thank you all for a gre­at sea­son up north!

Cap­tain Mario used the good con­di­ti­ons to ful­fill a dream and go wake­boar­ding in the­se nort­hern waters, to the gre­at plea­su­re of ever­y­bo­dy around 🙂

Mario, Wakeboarding Raftsund

Cap­tain Mario wake­boar­ding in Raft­sund.

Later, we even made it to Skro­va in good day­light and did not was­te any time. The moun­tains, hills and beaches were cal­ling, and we made good use of the remai­ning day­light time befo­re the sun went down and the rain came. That did not bother us any­mo­re, we had had a gre­at day out the­re and con­ti­nued and good spi­rits insi­de.

Skrovafjellet

Ascen­ding Skro­va­f­jel­let.

Skrova

View over Skro­va and sur­roun­ding islands.

From Ofo­ten to Lofo­ten – art on Tranøy and nort­hern lights in Lauk­vik

We deci­de to spend some more time in Tranøy, it is too nice here to lea­ve without having seen it in day­light. As men­tio­ned, you can walk to the light­house. It is a walk of several kilo­me­tres, but per­fect­ly easy wal­king and defi­ni­te­ly worth it, it is a lovely place on the shore of Ves­t­fjord. Qui­te win­dy here today.

The lighthouse on Tranøy

The light­house on Tranøy.

The­re are sculp­tures and various pie­ces of art all over Tranøy. A new sculp­tu­re is added every year. You can find them any­whe­re in the land­s­cape, some­thing that is car­ved into rocks, flowers of gra­ni­te, wha­te­ver. So you can spend a lovely time wal­king around, always dis­co­vering some­thing. Figu­res watching out across Ves­t­fjor­den, the wind eye, and so on. Beau­ti­ful stuff. Some real art, inclu­ding some stuff that a simp­le gui­de like me does not under­stand righ­ta­way … I was won­de­ring what all the black pla­tes with kind of irre­gu­lar white cros­ses were, on the rocks near the shore. Later I found out that the­re had been pho­tos on the pla­tes, but they had remo­ved the pho­tos. The white cros­ses were remains of the glue and not art. Well.

Sculpture on Tranøy

Sculp­tu­re on Tranøy.

Later we went across Ves­t­for­den under sail. Wind and waves – the wind direc­tion was just good enough to put some sails up.

Antigua under sail, Vestfjord

Hand­ling sails on Anti­gua while cros­sing Ves­t­fjor­den to Lofo­ten.

We had gre­at hopes for the evening, won­de­ring if the Nort­hern light cent­re of The­re­se and Rob in Lauk­vik would live up to its name and repu­ta­ti­on. Of cour­se we knew that we would get a lot of infor­ma­ti­on about nort­hern lights, but the real thing, the actu­al Auro­ra borea­lis? Yes, we were lucky! The sky was clear, and we got two waves of acti­vi­ty. That made a lot of peop­le hap­py! The­re had been acti­vi­ty also during the last days, but what does it help without a clear sky … talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Northern light above Laukvik, Lofoten

Nort­hern light at the Nort­hern light cent­re in Lauk­vik, Lofo­ten.

Ofo­ten: Skar­ber­get & Tranøy

We are at the bot­tom of Ves­t­fjord today – that is the sea area bet­ween the Nor­we­gi­an main­land and Lofo­ten – in the area that is cal­led „Ofo­ten“. The “L” of “Lofo­ten” is mis­sing here, we’ll get that tomor­row, a bit fur­ther to the west.

Tysfjor­den is Norway’s deepest fjords, with depth down to almost 900 metres. The ice-age gla­ciers have almost cut Nor­way into two parts. The­re is no more than 6 kilo­me­tres of land bet­ween the coast and Swe­den.

Icicles, Skarberget

Ici­cles next to the path on Skar­ber­get.

Cap­tain Mario gets the Anti­gua along­side at the jet­ty in the litt­le har­bour of Skar­ber­get with an impres­si­ve mane­ouvre. We fol­low the road for a litt­le bit, than a way into the forest and final­ly a path bet­ween small trees and over mos­ses, lichens and bare rocks, up a ridge. The­re is ice on the rocks in some pla­ces, so it is qui­te slip­pe­ry and we have to be care­ful.

Tysfjord seen from Skarberget

View from Skar­ber­get over Tysfjor­den.

But the view of Tysfjor­den from Skar­ber­get is abso­lute­ly worth it. It is cold and win­dy and it is get­ting more and more grey and wet, so it is nice to get back to Anti­gua after a few hours.

The clouds are brea­king up as we con­ti­nue, and the low sun cas­ts spect­ac­tu­lar light over the islands and moun­tains around us.

Evening light, Ofoten

Evening light in Ofo­ten – direct­ly after lunch.

In dwind­ling day­light and a stiff bree­ze it is again an impres­si­ve bit of seamanship as Cap­tain Mario mane­ouvres good old Anti­gua into the litt­le har­bour of Tranøy. This is a litt­le sett­le­ment in the nort­hern part of Hamarøy. As many as 53 peop­le lived here in 2012. The­re are some sculp­tures hid­den in various pla­ces in Tranøy.

Sculpture, Tranøy

Sculp­tu­re in Tranøy.

It is a good walk across the pen­in­su­la to the light­house and it is almost dark as I final­ly get the­re. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly the cloud cover is pret­ty much clo­sed again and it even starts to rain, so the­re is litt­le hope for nort­hern lights tonight.

Lighthouse Tranøy

Light­house of Tranøy in twi­light.

Sai­ling to Har­stad

The first thing I see in the morning, some­whe­re sou­the­ast of Sen­ja: oran­ge moun­tains under a blue sky. So beau­ti­ful! Sun­ri­se is cur­r­ent­ly near 8 a.m. and sun­set is just befo­re 3 p.m. … the days are get­ting serious­ly shor­ter now! But the light can be stun­ning … and you don’t have to stay up and awa­ke half the night to see a sun­set. Well, the­re are still the nort­hern lights to keep you awa­ke. Hope­ful­ly.

Morning light near Senja

Morning light near Sen­ja.

This is our third day on board – time for a sai­ling intro­duc­tion, and we can even put the­se skills to good use, taking advan­ta­ge of an eas­ter­ly bree­ze on our way to Har­stad.

SV Antigua under sail to Harstad

SV Anti­gua under sail towards Har­stad.

We also made sure ever­y­bo­dy knows how to get some good pho­tos when we hope­ful­ly get some nort­hern lights the next days. If you want to read a bit more about the nort­hern lights, inclu­ding some pho­to hints, click here.

We arri­ve Har­stad in time around mid-day. Har­stad used to be a cent­re of poli­ti­cal power and cul­tu­re in north Nor­way for many cen­tu­ries, so we take a bus to near­by Tron­de­nes to get some more impres­si­ons and infor­ma­ti­on about all this. On the way the­re, we have the only groun­ding of the trip (so far, at least), but it is with the bus and not the ship, so it does not mat­ter too much … the­re is ple­nty of road buil­ding work going on here cur­r­ent­ly.

Church at Trondenes near Harstad

The medi­eval church of Tron­de­nes at Har­stad.

After the visit to the muse­um and the old church with her 3 metres thick walls of stones we were rea­dy for a litt­le walk in the city of Har­stad with all its exci­te­ments. Who would have thought that you can even find a wal­rus here? 🙂

Walrus in Harstad

Wal­rus-sculp­tu­re in Har­stad.

Skje­r­vøy – Orcas and nort­hern lights!

Based on some infor­ma­ti­on of recent sightin­gs and a bit of opti­mism, we had set cour­se nor­the­ast towards the waters around Skje­røya, at 70 degrees north. Usual­ly we don’t get far on this trip! But con­si­de­ring the Orca sightin­gs that had been made by others the­re in recent days, we wan­ted to give it a try.

We were not disap­poin­ted!

Orcas, Skjervøy

Orcas near Skje­r­vøy.

Of cour­se we used the oppor­tu­ni­ty to visit Skje­r­vøy, an small island with a sett­le­ment and har­bour that all bear the same name. This is whe­re Fri­dt­jof Nansen’s Fram final­ly retur­ned to civi­li­sa­ti­on after her famous 3 year drift across the Arc­tic Oce­an (1893-1896). Nan­sen hims­elf, accom­pa­nied by Hja­l­mar Johan­sen, had famous­ly left the ship in 1895 to reach the north pole (which did not work), so they were not on board when the Fram reached Skje­r­vøy. A gre­at bit of polar histo­ry, and this place was part of it. This alo­ne was actual­ly a good rea­son to visit.

Skjervøy

Skje­r­vøy: island, har­bour, sett­le­ment.

As it tur­ned out, the­re are some good hiking oppor­tu­nities on Skje­r­vøya. Cur­r­ent­ly limi­ted as the sun is going down just befo­re 3 p.m., but it was enough for a short walk to get some fine views of the place.

And as if this hadn’t been enough for a good day, we even got some first nort­hern lights later the same evening! Not very strong and the pho­to con­di­ti­ons were not ide­al on the moving ship, but still … nort­hern light is nort­hern light 🙂

Northern light near Skjervøy

Nort­hern light near Skje­r­vøy.

Trom­sø – 28 Octo­ber 2018

The day we had been wai­t­ing for! Today ever­y­bo­dy is com­ing on board and we will set sail with Anti­gua, tra­vel­ling from Trom­sø to Bodø. The last sai­ling voya­ge of the arc­tic sea­son 2018. W are hoping for gre­at light, ever­ything that the sun may send us, both direct­ly during the day and more indi­rect­ly during the dark hours … may­be Orcas, Sea eagles, cer­tain­ly a lot of gre­at sce­ne­ry, lovely litt­le vil­la­ges and other inte­res­ting pla­ces, sai­ling …

Roald Amundsen, Rolf Stange, Tromsø

Roald and Rolf in Trom­sø.

But first, ever­y­bo­dy has time to explo­re Trom­sø; many arri­ved just yes­ter­day and the­re is ple­nty to do here, espe­cial­ly as the wea­ther is fine again today.

The ear­ly win­ter often brings a mix­tu­re of snow and rain, free­zing and thawing. The result: ice on the streets. A bad luck moment on a street in Trom­sø brings a bro­ken arm and thus a very pre­ma­tu­re end of the voya­ge befo­re it has even real­ly begun for two unlu­cky per­sons (inclu­ding a non-inju­red com­pa­n­ion). We wish you all the best, quick and com­ple­te reco­very!

In late hours, Cap­tain Mario pushes the Anti­gua against a pret­ty strong cur­rent out of the har­bour and through under the bridge. We are star­ting our trip to Bodø … set­ting cour­se nor­thwards!

SV Antigua, Tromsø

SV Anti­gua rea­dy to set sail in Trom­sø.

SV Anti­gua in Trom­sø: first nort­hern light and Hen­ry Rudi’s office

We are about to cast lose one last time this year in the Arc­tic. Nort­hern lights, beau­ti­ful sce­ne­ry in stun­ning nort­hern win­ter light con­di­ti­ons, Orcas – hopes are cer­tain­ly high; we will see what the next week will bring. But the­re is still some time befo­re we will actual­ly set sail.

SV Antigua, Rolf, Tromsø

SV Anti­gua and Rolf in Trom­sø: rea­dy to go!

Trom­sø has been the door to the Arc­tic for a long time and it still is. Many ships have left for high­test lati­tu­des from here and this is whe­re many of them came back to civi­li­sa­ti­on. So does Anti­gua right now, and we are mee­ting old friends such as MS Stock­holm and SV Noor­der­licht.

SV Antigua, MS Stockholm, Tromsø

SV Anti­gua next to MS Stock­holm in the har­bour ofTrom­sø.

Of cour­se the­re is always some­thing to do befo­re a ship can lea­ve port. I take my hat as an arc­tic aut­hor and soon I can smi­le: my gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard is now avail­ab­le for sale at Pola­ria in Trom­sø, in all three lan­guages!

It is a beau­ti­ful day with a clear sky and lovely light. Hope­ful­ly we get more of this next week, that would make some peop­le hap­py! We even get a nort­hern light abo­ve Trom­sø. Not very strong and fain­ting next to all the arti­fi­cial light and the almost full moon. But it is a start, fin­gers cros­sed for more soon!

Northern light, Tromsø

Weak nort­hern light abo­ve Trom­sø.

The­re is also time to visit a place that may almost be coun­ted as part of Spitsbergen’s cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge: Mack’s Ølhal­le. This famous beer hall belongs to Mack’s bre­we­ry, foun­ded in 1877, and it used to be the first place to go for famous win­te­rers such as “Polar Bear king” Hen­ry Rudi and others, who refu­el­led here after a long arc­tic win­ter, spen­ding the ear­nings of many hard and cold mon­ths in weeks or even just days. Hen­ry Rudi’s place is still mar­ked with a sign that has got his name!

Macks Ølhalle, Tromsø

Mack’s Ølhal­le in Trom­sø: Hen­ry Rudi, the famous “polar bear king”, and other arc­tic win­te­rers refu­el­led here after a year in the Arc­tic.

I don’t want to lea­ve a las­ting impres­si­on as Hen­ry Rudi, who almost seems to have lived here during his short sum­mer visits to Trom­sø, my visit was a bit shor­ter.

Macks Ølhalle, Tromsø

Macks Ølhal­le in Trom­sø was cal­led Hen­ry Rudi’s office. You could rely to find him here in his days.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en: a gre­at place to live, but a tough place to live

The times are cur­r­ent­ly most­ly calm in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Spits­ber­gen other­wi­se. The­re, is, of cour­se, always some­thing that cat­ches public atten­ti­on. The pha­se­out of coal mining in Sveagru­va and the clea­rup of a who­le litt­le sett­le­ment is a dis­cus­sion and will remain so for qui­te some time. Some buil­dings may be pro­tec­ted as part of Spitsbergen’s cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge, others will pro­bab­ly be remo­ved. The ques­ti­on of poten­ti­al fur­ther use of the infras­trac­tu­re in Sveagru­a­ve, wit­hin sci­ence, tou­rism or wha­te­ver, is still lar­ge­ly open. The only thing that is clear is that the who­le pro­ject will cost a lot of money, just as ope­ning the mine at Lunck­ef­jel­let, which has never seen anything but years of cos­t­ly stand­by ope­ra­ti­ons bet­ween ope­ning and shut­ting down the mine.

Sveagruva

Sveagru­va: a mining sett­le­ment in pha­se­out.

A woman in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is accu­sed for having thrown a stone at a guest of Huset (a popu­lar pub/disco/night club) during a late hour visit in March. The man recei­ved minor inju­ries.

A heli­co­p­ter had to res­cue to stu­dents from Sar­ko­fa­gen, a moun­tain clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The two hikers had ven­tu­red into a steep slo­pe and were unab­le to move any fur­ther or back.

Sarkofagen

The moun­tain Sar­ko­fa­gen clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Things that hap­pen in a litt­le arc­tic vil­la­ge after the end of the busy sum­mer sea­son, at the onset of the polar night. Most make them­sel­ves com­for­ta­ble at home, taking care of nor­mal ever­y­day busi­ness and enjoy­ing calm days as it is get­ting dar­ker out­side.

But not ever­y­bo­dy can enjoy cosy evenings at home. The housing mar­ket in Lon­gye­ar­by­en has been dif­fi­cult for years. The­re are several rea­sons for this, inclu­ding avalan­ches which have ren­de­red who­le streets unsui­ta­ble for living in recent years. Airbnb is ano­t­her issue, that makes some homes unavail­ab­le to long-term resi­dents in need of housing. This has hap­pen­ed in many pla­ces in the world, but in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, you can’t just move to the next vil­la­ge some­whe­re near town and com­mu­te to work. At least, an important houseow­ner has recent­ly announ­ced that he does not want to rent flats out through Airbnb. Inves­tor Fre­drik Eken told Sval­bard­pos­ten that his 84 flats in Lon­gye­ar­by­en will not be avail­ab­le on the men­tio­ned plat­form for rea­sons eco­no­mi­c­al rather than poli­ti­cal or ethi­cal.

Many flats and houses in Lon­gye­ar­by­en are owned by major insti­tu­ti­ons and employ­ers such as the Sys­sel­man­nen, muni­ci­pal admi­nis­tra­ti­on, UNIS and others who need to offer housing to their employees, which is under­stand­a­ble but at the same time making a signi­fi­cant pro­por­ti­on of the local housing mar­ket unavail­ab­le to the public.

The local admi­nis­tra­ti­on has done hers to make the situa­ti­on more dif­fi­cult, at least for some, than might be necessa­ry. In Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the­re is a num­ber of houses, most of them in “Sjøom­rå­det” clo­se to the fjord, which have flats. The­se flats are, howe­ver, not appro­ved for per­ma­nent use, but rather for leisu­re use only. Some of the­se “leisu­re time flats” (fritids­bo­lig, as they are cal­led in Nor­we­gi­an) have, howe­ver, been used more or less per­ma­nent­ly for years. In recent years, the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on inclu­ding the fire depart­ment have pushed to take more drastic mea­su­res to kick peop­le out of the­se flats. Last week, repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the local admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the fire depart­ment went on an unhe­ral­ded con­trol mis­si­on to some houses in ques­ti­on, as Sval­bard­pos­ten repor­ted. This led to 6 per­sons losing their accom­mo­da­ti­on on a short warning: they were given 24 hours to move out.

Sjøområdet, Longyearbyen

The area cal­led “Sjøom­rå­det” in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Six peop­le were recent­ly remo­ved from flats that are not appro­ved for per­ma­nent use.

Rea­sons given for such rather drastic mea­su­res are main­ly fire safe­ty, fol­lo­wed by the mis­sing appro­val for using the houses for per­ma­nent living in the use zoning plan.

It will not sur­pri­se that this approach is met by cri­ti­cism and des­pa­ra­ti­on amongst tho­se con­cer­ned. Tho­se who lived in the­se houses for years knew that their pro­lon­ged stay was not legal, but it was not a mat­ter of choice for some at least. The pri­va­te housing mar­ket does sim­ply not pro­vi­de afford­a­ble accom­mo­da­ti­on. Some of the 6 cur­r­ent­ly con­cer­ned will have to stay at friends’ pla­ces, beco­m­ing what is local­ly refer­red to as “sofa peop­le”. Pos­si­bi­li­ties to find an afford­a­ble place to live in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on a long-term basis? Do hard­ly exist.

Con­si­de­ring this, the cur­rent approach of the muni­ci­pal admi­nis­tra­ti­on to remo­ve peop­le from flats that are at least appro­ved for short-time use appears con­tro­ver­si­al. The admi­nis­tra­ti­on has announ­ced fur­ther con­trols as nee­ded.

Fire safe­ty can be taken care of by tech­ni­cal mea­su­res, and a use zoning plan is a mat­ter of poli­ti­cal decisi­on making. The admi­nis­tra­ti­on has at least announ­ced to start a pro­cess that may inclu­de pos­si­bi­li­ties to lega­li­ze the prac­ti­ce.

Sounds extre­me­ly pro­mi­sing, doesn’t it? But it won’t help tho­se who need a place to stay the­re and now. The polar night is com­ing, and Lon­gye­ar­by­en is a very dark and cold place during the win­ter.

Gui­de­book Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard: new Ger­man edi­ti­on out now

The gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard, avail­ab­le in Eng­lish, Nor­we­gi­an and Ger­man, is the most com­pre­hen­si­ve Spits­ber­gen book avail­ab­le. It is used by tou­rists as well as pro­fes­sio­nal gui­des and expe­di­ti­on lea­ders, who often refer to it as the “Spits­ber­gen bible”. A wor­d­ing that may seem to be qui­te far-reaching, but the aut­hor (Rolf Stan­ge) is hap­py to take it as a com­pli­ment to the book.

After the first Nor­we­gi­an edi­ti­on came out in in 2017 and the 4th updated Eng­lish edi­ti­on in spring 2018, it was time for an updated Ger­man edi­ti­on. The 5th edi­ti­on (2015) was actual­ly sold out for a while during the sum­mer. In late Sep­tem­ber, the updated 6th edi­ti­on came fresh from the prin­ter 🙂

Guidebook Spitzbergen-Svalbard (German, 6. edition)

The 6th edi­ti­on of the Ger­man gui­de­book Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard is now avail­ab­le The Eng­lish and Norw­gi­an ver­si­ons were also updated recent­ly and remain avail­ab­le.

As with the Nor­we­gi­an and Eng­lish ver­si­ons, the new Ger­man edi­ti­on has been com­pre­hen­si­ve­ly updated in almost all chap­ters, with impro­ved text, maps etc. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on, plea­se visit the page dedi­ca­ted to the Ger­man gui­de­book Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard on this web­site, whe­re you can also order the book. It is also avail­ab­le on Amazon.de. Orders through this web­sites and reviews on Ama­zon (also for the Eng­lish or Nor­we­gi­an ver­si­ons) will make the aut­hor hap­py.

Rolf Stange with guidebook Spitzbergen-Svalbard (German, 6. edition)

The aut­hor with the new, 6th edi­ti­on of Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard (Ger­man).

The Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault: online-tour in 360 degree pan­ora­ma for­mat

Most peop­le will never have the chan­ce to visit the famous Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault bey­ond a glim­pse of the ent­ran­ce from out­side. Col­lo­quial­ly also known as “dooms­day vault”, it is used sin­ce 2008 to store seeds of food crops to make sure the spe­ci­es sur­vi­ve even when all other stocks are des­troy­ed by natu­ral or man-made eco­lo­gi­cal dis­as­ters or war.

The insi­de of the Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault is, howe­ver, clo­sed to the public. Only tho­se who are working the­re, some VIP visi­tors and media teams, on cer­tain dates and with pri­or regis­tra­ti­on, get insi­de. During a media visit in 2016, I had the rare chan­ce to pho­to­graph the Seed Vault inclu­ding 360 degree pan­ora­mas, which can now be seen on this page (click here). Parts of the Seed Vault are cur­r­ent­ly under reno­va­ti­on.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Sval­bard Glo­bal Seed Vault is now acces­si­ble as a pan­ora­ma tour on this web­site.

Sun in Bar­ents­burg and sand storm in Advent­fjord – 20 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Yet ano­t­her beau­ti­ful, sun­ny day! We just keep enjoy­ing. More about „calm“ later.

Some of us have a bit of a slow start into the day, but after bre­ak­fast we take off to explo­re Bar­ents­burg. With some minor adjus­t­ments of the rou­te, we even mana­ge to spend almost the who­le morning in sunshi­ne! A very inte­res­ting visit and a strong visu­al con­trast to our arc­tic expe­ri­en­ces so far.

Barentsburg

Michel­le van Dijk in Bar­ents­burg, sharing her know­ledge of the Dut­ch histo­ry of the place.

Barentsburg

Lovely day in Bar­ents­burg.

Barentsburg

Lenin some 12 hours later and in dif­fe­rent light (com­pa­re to yesterday’s blog).

Later we set cour­se across Isfjord to say good­bye and fare­well to Spitsbergen’s beau­ti­ful natu­re in Ymer­buk­ta, but things are chan­ging and so are our plans. The wind is picking up, the next days are sup­po­sed to bring pret­ty stor­my wea­ther and we get a first tas­te of it today. Not­hing serious so far, but the­re is a risk that we may not be able to go along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the evening if we get the­re too late so we chan­ge cour­se or Advent­fjor­den. Well, we have enjoy­ed so much of Spitsbergen’s beau­ty in the last cou­p­le of days that we can real­ly relax and look for­ward to civi­li­sa­ti­on.

Con­ti­nued later – inde­ed, the wind had picked up con­si­der­ab­ly as we sai­led into Advent­fjord and going along­side was a chal­len­ge. We were all hap­py once the last mile was real­ly done!

Adventjord: dust storm

Sai­ling into a dust storm while ent­e­ring Advent­fjord.

Adventjord: dust storm

Dust storm over Advent­fjord.

A stun­nin­gly beau­ti­ful voya­ge is com­ing to an end – unf­or­gett­able! Big thanks to ever­y­bo­dy here, Cap­tain Kevin and his crew on board SV Anti­gua, my col­leagues Michel­le van Dijk and Alex­an­der Lembke and of cour­se all our fel­low polar tra­vel­lers who con­tri­bu­t­ed to the good expe­ri­ence and spi­rits on board and on the tun­dra!

Crew of SV Antigua in Longyearbyen

Crew of SV Anti­gua in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

For­landsund: Her­man­senøya & Daud­mann­søy­ra – 19 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Yet ano­t­her beau­ti­ful, calm, sun­ny day! One can only won­der and enjoy.

The litt­le island of Her­man­senøya is lying in the midd­le of For­landsund. Whe­re­ver the eye wan­ders the­re is beau­ty, both far away, such as the moun­tains and gla­ciers of Spits­ber­gen and Prins Karls For­land, and clo­ser, from the rug­ged coas­tal rocks to the litt­le mira­cles that frost and ice crea­te in the tun­dra.

Hermansenøya: details in ice

Icy sce­nic details on Her­man­senøya (I).

Hermansenøya

Klei­ne, fei­ne Din­ge im Eis auf der Her­man­senøya (II).

Hermansenøya: details in ice

Icy sce­nic details on Her­man­senøya (III).

Hermansenøya: details in ice

More icy sce­nic details on Her­man­senøya: Flech­ten.

Hermansenøya: Tufted saxifrage

Even more sce­nic details on Her­man­senøya: last flowers of the Tuf­ted saxif­ra­ge in snow and ice.

In the after­noon we con­ti­nued sou­thwards along the west coast of Spits­ber­gen. One of the most beau­ti­ful bits of land­s­cape if you ask me! It’s not so much the post­card beau­ty, like ice­bergs and gla­ciers, that many asso­cia­te with the Arc­tic, it’s more sub­t­le. A wide plain with a very rocky, immen­se­ly beau­ti­ful coast­li­ne and very rich tun­dra with ple­nty of rein­de­er. What a beau­ti­ful part of the pla­net! And we are lucky to be able to spend some time here, this area is pret­ty expo­sed.

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Hid­den bay in sou­thern For­landsund.

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Wide tun­dra plain on Spitsbergen’s west coast (Daud­mann­søy­ra).

Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Coas­tal land­s­cape in sou­thern For­landsund.

Reindeer, Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

Rein­de­er eating ice.

Antigua, Steinpynten, Daudmannsøyra

SV Anti­gua near the rocky coast in For­landsund.

We went along­side in Bar­ents­burg later in the evening. Rumours went later that it was a bit of a late night for some.

Lenin, Barentsburg

Lenin in evening light in Bar­ents­burg. It is nice that dark nights are com­ing back now!

Brauerei, Barentsburg

Spitsbergen’s coo­lest bar: the second-nort­hern­most bre­we­ry in the world in Bar­ents­burg.

Raudfjord – Fuglefjord – Kob­befjord – 18 Sep­tem­ber 2018

It is hard to belie­ve, but the wea­ther remains fault­less­ly beau­ti­ful. Hard­ly a cloud in the sky, gent­le frost in the morning, no wind worth men­tio­ning.

It is time to stretch legs a bit. Solan­derfjel­let is temp­t­ing with stun­ning views over Raudfjor­den.

Solanderfjellet

View over Raudfjor­den

We con­ti­nue through Fuglefjord, fil­led with ice from the migh­ty Svit­jod­breen.

SFuglefjord

In the evening we turn into Kob­befjor­den on Dans­køya. This is whe­re sealing ships used to lea­ve mail for the main­land in the past – the­re is no let­ter or post­card in the cairn here today, the tra­di­ti­on seems to vanish in the haze of histo­ry. This is also whe­re Tor­ge­ir Simon­sen and Harald Møkle­by ended up after their icy Odys­sey in 1922 to die tra­gi­cal­ly a few mon­ths later. We, in con­trast, can enjoy the deep-red colours of the sun­set and a num­ber of very curious har­bour seals befo­re we con­ti­nue south on a flat-calm sea.

Kobbefjord

Lief­defjord & Woodfjord – 17 Sep­tem­ber 2018

The wea­ther is almost sca­ry. Blue sky, cold, clear air.

The fur­ther we sail into Lief­defjord, the more ice is drif­ting on the water. We crui­se slow­ly bet­ween the smal­ler ber­gy bits and lar­ger ice­bergs.

Liefdefjord

The moun­tains and gla­ciers are shi­ning in the sun. The land­s­cape is cul­mi­na­ting near Mona­co­breen and Seli­ger­breen, the lar­ge gla­ciers in Lief­defjord. A sym­pho­ny of gla­ciers and water, blue ice and blue sky, strong colours and sharp mir­ror images.

Gletscher im Liefdefjord

In the Lief­defjord the lar­ge gla­ciers Mona­co­breen and Seli­ger­breen impress.

Later, we find a wal­rus cow with her calf on an ice floe, and then a bear­ded seal.

In Woodfjord, we find a polar bear fami­ly, so we spend the after­noon with wild­life watching rather than tun­dra hiking. A mother with two first year cubs, all of them well-fed and in good shape. Lovely to see.

Polar bear family, Kapp Auguste Viktoria

Well fed: Polar bear fami­ly, Kapp Augus­te Vik­to­ria

They fol­low the coast­li­ne as polar bears fre­quent­ly do, swim a bit in the fjord and then back to the shore, while the sun is cas­ting red light on the red land­s­cape. An incredi­ble pic­tu­re.

Kapp Auguste Viktoria

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