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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News & Stories


Agardhbuk­ta – 13 August 2018

Agardhbuk­ta on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen, a bit fur­ther south than Lon­gye­ar­by­en, was exact­ly in the right posi­ti­on for us to drop the anchor late night. The atmo­s­phe­re was almost melan­cho­lic, the light approa­ching twi­light, the sun prac­ti­cing sun­sets again, if only behind the moun­tains and not behind the hori­zon. But it is deeply red around mid­ni­ght and reminds us that the sum­mer is not long any­mo­re and darkness will be com­ing.

Agardhbuk­ta

Agardhbukta

Fond memo­ries are com­ing to mind here in Agardhbuk­ta. I have been here a cou­p­le of times in the past, but always over land, never by boat. This bay is lar­ge­ly unchar­ted and does not have a good repu­ta­ti­on amongst sea­men, they used to call it Foul Bay in the past. My first time here was in 1999, 20 years ago! Unbe­liev­a­ble … a long time. That was a hiking tour with my friend Sven. We fol­lo­wed the clas­sic Con­way rou­te, star­ting in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and then fol­lowing the lar­ge inland val­leys for 4 long days. Later I was once again in the area on foot and then several times in the win­ter. That is much fas­ter and cer­tain­ly less exhaus­ting.

Agardhbuk­ta

Agardhbukta

For us this time, Agardhbuk­ta was main­ly an over­night ancho­ra­ge, even after making use of the depth fin­der as much as pos­si­ble and respon­si­ble, the coast was still pret­ty far away. But when tomor­row beca­me today, we sud­den­ly had a bir­th­day child on board and I thought a litt­le, quiet mid­ni­ght walk in the light of the very low mid­ni­ght sun might be a nice bir­th­day pre­sent. Which was inde­ed the case. A silent walk in beau­ti­ful sur­roun­dings, enjoy­ing the lovely atmo­s­phe­re and immer­sing in tre­a­su­red memo­ries.

Heley­sund – 13 August 2018

A dream day in one of the most beau­ti­ful cor­ners of Spits­ber­gen, in the eas­tern­most part of the main island. The­re is this lovely bay in Heley­sund whe­re you can anchor per­fect­ly well even if it is blowing a bit, like last night.

Straum­s­land

Straumsland

Today morning it was calm again, and sun­ny. We pre­pa­red some ther­mos bot­t­les and a bit of food and took off, for a long hike on the tun­dra. Some­ti­mes wet, some­ti­mes dry, some­timey rocky, always rich in details, varied, beau­ti­ful. Gre­at views of Heley­sund and Straum­s­land, Storfjord and Bar­entsøya. Curious rein­de­er and a rare Sabine’s gull. A stun­ning coast­li­ne with huge rock colum­ns, below them green, lush tun­dra with well-deve­lo­ped ice wed­ges. Long rests in the sun, enjoy­ing the views. What else could you ask for?

Straum­s­land

Straumsland

Now we are stea­ming south in Storfjord. The sun is shi­ning, and we have got gre­at views of Bar­entsøya and Spits­ber­gen.

Straum­s­land

Straumsland

Straum­s­land

Straumsland

Hin­lo­pen – 12 August 2018

We are still in Hin­lo­pen Strait, having spent the night ancho­red clo­se to one of the islands the­re. Rocky, bar­ren polar desert. Not­hing but stones. That’s what it loo­ks like, at least from a distance. On clo­ser inspec­tion, it turns out to be a land­s­cape sur­pri­sin­gly rich in detail. Of cour­se we had a good look around 🙂

Von-Otteroya

Von-Otteroya

It seems to be sun­ny fur­ther east, so we set cour­se for Brås­vell­breen. That is also one of the­se won­ders of the natu­ral world, a uni­que bit of the Arc­tic. The wind is get­ting fresh as we get clo­ser, and the ice is pret­ty den­se, but Pål is navi­ga­ting us safe­ly towards the huge gla­cier, whe­re the wind is also cal­ming down as we get into even den­ser ice. A polar bear swims curious­ly towards us and cir­cles around the ship at clo­se distance!

Bras­vell­breen

Brasvellbreen

The view of the see­min­gly end­less ice cliff of Brås­vell­breen in the sun, with water­falls and many ice­bergs drif­ting near­by, is just stun­ning.

Bras­vell­breen

Brasvellbreen

Hin­lo­pen – 11 August 2018

After many hours sai­ling we drop­ped the anchor in Murchi­son­fjord in the ear­ly morning hours. We visi­ted the old Swe­dish sta­ti­on of Kinn­vi­ka and went for a long hike in the wide-open polar-desert-like land­s­cape, reaching hills with stun­ning views and fin­ding fos­sils as expec­ted and, to our sur­pri­se, an ice cave.

Kinn­vi­ka

Kinnvika

Kinn­vi­ka

Kinnvika

Alkef­jel­let, being one of the gre­at won­ders of the arc­tic world, rounds the day off. With a bit of effort and some Zodiac sup­port from Moni­ka, I mana­ged to get a 360 pan­ora­ma of Alkef­jel­let. I am curious how it will turn out 🙂

Alkef­jel­let

Alkefjellet

Rijp­da­len – 10 August 2018

It is so good to spend a calm night at anchor in a hid­den bay at the end of the world, deep in Rijpfjord on the north side of Nord­aus­t­land! Good pro­spects for tomor­row, as some of us were plan­ning a pret­ty serious hike in Rijp­da­len.

Him­mel­buk­ta

Himmelbukta

As tomor­row had beco­me today, the clouds whe­re, howe­ver, han­ging rather low, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly. Hiking for hours on end in fog in unknown ter­rain and polar bear coun­try was clear­ly not an opti­on, so we went on a good and still pret­ty solid hike of 5 hours in lower Rijp­da­len. What a beau­ti­ful coun­try at the end of the world! Very wide-open, sur­pri­sin­gly rich tun­dra, a wild river … the huge ice caps were loo­m­ing behind the clouds, but visi­ble here and the­re, Aus­t­fon­na in the east and Ves­t­fon­na in the west.

Nor­dens­kiold­buk­ta

Nordenskioldbukta

We found some­thing that may have been a gra­ve of unknown ori­gin and the site whe­re Hen­ry Rudi, who later beca­me famous as the „polar bear king“, win­te­red in the 1930s. They remo­ved the hut the fol­lowing year and took the mate­ri­als down to Halvmå­neøya, so not­hing is left of it on site.

The days are fly­ing by and we have to move west again, so now we are stea­ming towards Hin­lo­pen Strait, not without say­ing hel­lo again to yesterday’s Blue wha­les.

Nordenskiöldbukta-Rijpfjord – 09 August 2018

Today and tomor­row we want to try to find out about some of Nordaustlandet’s secrets, which are hid­den deep in the huge fjords. Some of the­ses sur­pri­ses hap­pen just to be on our way. Sud­den­ly we have at least 2 Blue wha­le clo­se to the boat, pos­si­b­ly 3. Huge ani­mals! One is real­ly big, even to Blue wha­le stan­dards. Who said recent­ly that it was a bad wha­le year in Spitsbergen’s waters? Well, we can’t com­p­lain.

Nor­dens­kiold­buk­ta

Nordenskioldbukta

Later we ven­ture to explo­re Scores­by­øya, in the midd­le of the wide-open Nor­dens­kiöld­buk­ta. We don’t stay long, espe­cial­ly as we find out that we are not alo­ne on the island. The­re is some­thing lying behind a rock, and it is yel­lo­wish-white and it has fur and ears. Just slee­ping and far away, but we pre­fer to move away and lea­ve the island befo­re any unplea­sant situa­ti­on can deve­lop.

Scores­by­oya

Scoresbyoya

A bit later, we hap­pen to find to wal­rus­ses on a litt­le ice­berg. A mother with a litt­le calf! Well, „litt­le“ is a rela­ti­ve term when it comes to wal­rus­ses. But it is real­ly a very young one, still living on its mother’s milk rather than mus­sels.

Rijpfjord

Rijpfjord

We drop the anchor in Wor­die­buk­ta in the late after­noon. This is whe­re the Ger­man Kriegs­ma­ri­ne had their war wea­ther sta­ti­on cal­led Hau­de­gen. The men were picked up in Sep­tem­ber 1945, being the very last Ger­man mili­ta­ry unit of the Second World War to sur­ren­der. Some­thing that they were very hap­py to do. The hut is still the­re. A bizar­re bit of histo­ry and a bizar­re place.

Hau­de­gen

Haudegen

Chermsi­deøya – 08 August 2018

After many hours of sai­ling time, we had reached some of the nort­hern­most islands of Spits­ber­gen. Not the very nort­hern­most one, Sjuøya­ne are still fur­ther north, but the­re is inde­ed a Nord­kapp (North Cape) on this island!

Cherms­i­deoya

Chermsideoya

A litt­le evening hike takes us across the island, over per­fect­ly deve­lo­ped anci­ent beach ter­races, across hills of gla­cier-polis­hed crystal­li­ne base­ment rocks, though a litt­le val­ley. A beau­ti­ful, remo­te, silent and very arc­tic place!

Cherms­i­deoya

Chermsideoya

But unbe­liev­a­ble how much plastic are was­hed up here on the­se beaches. Nobo­dy is ever get­ting here who could clean up. We have to go here with Anti­gua one day …

P.S. Five minu­tes after wri­ting the­se lines, we pul­led a huge fishing net out of the water. The­re was alrea­dy a num­ber of dead birds ent­an­gled in it, Brünich’s and Black guil­lemots. No idea whe­re we are going to store it until Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but the main thing is, it is not floa­ting around in the water any­mo­re!

On the way up to Nord­aus­t­land – 08 August 2018

The wind out the­re at sea has final­ly cal­med down and it is time for us to get on. We want to sail up to the nort­hern side of Nord­aus­t­land and later around Spits­ber­gen, so the­re are still a lot of miles wai­t­ing for us. We take some of them today.

During the very first mile, we get a very plea­sant sur­pri­se, a litt­le sen­sa­ti­on even, as we see a Bear­ded seal lying on the beach! Have you ever seen a Bear­ded seal lying on the beach? No? Exact­ly. That does hard­ly ever hap­pen. Bear­ded seals lie in the water or on ice and not on the shore. But this one does not seem to know that.

Mus­ham­na

Mushamna

North of Wij­defjord, we meet a simi­lar­ly unusu­al Min­ke wha­le. Nor­mal­ly, Min­ke wha­les do not care much about boats and peop­le and they do not show much more than a short glim­pse of their back and fin. But this one does not seem to know that (am I repe­ti­ti­ve?). This wha­le is real­ly curious, it is swim­ming towards us again and again and diving through under the boat, play­ing with us!

Wij­defjord

Wijdefjord

We plough our way to the nor­the­ast now, the­re is some gent­ly swell, cal­ming fur­ther down, and the hours and the miles are going by. Not long any­mo­re befo­re we can anchor and go for a walk, some­whe­re remo­te.

Mus­ham­na – 07 August 2018

A pret­ty grey and over lar­ge parts also wet day, but we made a lot out of it. A lovely over the tun­dra, enjoy­ing gre­at views of the inland val­leys around Mus­ham­na, a visit to the famous trap­per sta­ti­on and a beach walk back to the lagoon whe­re Arc­ti­ca II was ancho­red.

Mus­ham­na

Mushamna

Later, we made ano­t­her walk in the oppo­si­te direc­tion. I have been told that can­yo­ning is in, so we went for it. Some deep insight into the Devo­ni­an lay­ers, impres­si­ve lay­ers with inte­res­ting details and struc­tures, plus a lot of water. Tor­ren­ti­al around the feet and drip­ping from abo­ve.

Mus­ham­na

Mushamna

In the evening, Pål show­ed his talents as a chef, making per­fect use of his fresh­ly and very local­ly caught arc­tic char. Deli­cious!

Mus­ham­na – saving the seal – 06 August 2018

The anchor was on the bot­tom in Mus­ham­na, we were about to finish a cosy evening and call it a day as a small seal was seen near the beach ent­an­gled in a pie­ce of fishing net, figh­t­ing for its life. All this plastic in the sea and on the shore or else­whe­re in the envi­ron­ment is so dis­gus­ting! What is so dif­fi­cult about put­ting old fishing gear or wha­te­ver it is in a con­tai­ner in the har­bour or whe­re­ver? Why do end­less quan­ti­ties of it con­stant­ly end up in the sea, causing immense dama­ge to the envi­ron­ment and slow and pain­ful deaths to count­less ani­mals?

Mus­ham­na

Mushamna

In this case, at least, we could help. It was a small seal, pro­bab­ly a young Rin­ged seal, which I could easi­ly grab in the shal­low water and lift up on the beach, so Pål could cut the net with a sharp kni­fe. The net had alrea­dy star­ted to cut into the skin around the neck, so the poor beast must have been clo­se to suf­fo­ca­ting and it was real­ly high time! Of cour­se it was under shock and it nee­ded some moments until it star­ted to calm down again and to breath free­ly, but then it swam away, making a very healt­hy and lively impres­si­on on us, so we are sure it is in good shape again! Pro­bab­ly it was just our ima­gi­na­ti­on, but when it actual­ly dived through under our boat, we had the impres­si­on it did so to say thank you and good­bye. A won­der­ful moment that made us real­ly hap­py! I don’t want to think of all the ani­mals which suf­fer a simi­lar fate without anyo­ne around who could help, but some­ti­mes you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and able to do th! e right thing. Plea­se, ever­y­bo­dy, be respon­si­ble with plastic!

Mus­ham­na

Mushamna

Texas Bar – 06 August 2018

It is sup­po­sed to be qui­te win­dy today out the­re off the coast, so we are hap­py to be safe­ly at anchor in this lovely and well-shel­te­red bay in Lief­defjord. The clouds are han­ging low and the­re is litt­le to see of the beau­ti­ful land­s­cape, so we take the morning more or less off and have some time to talk about polar bears in some detail.

Horn­baek­pol­len

Hornbaekpollen

It is clea­ring up a litt­le bit in the after­noon, and soon we are out and about again. The clouds have lifted just enough to give us some greyish but fine views of Erik­breen, Horn­bæk­pol­len and Lief­defjord. During the hig­hest bits of our walk, we are diving into the clouds. Very atmo­s­phe­ric, but it is qui­te good to know the area pret­ty well now.

Horn­baek­pol­len

Hornbaekpollen

After a visit to Hil­mar Nøis’ old hut Texas Bar, we steam on to Mus­ham­na. Tomor­row is also sup­po­sed to be win­dy at sea, so that should be a good place to anchor.

From Sal­ly­ham­na to Lief­defjord – 05 August 2018

It took a bit lon­ger than expec­ted to lea­ve in the morning becau­se the day began just as yes­ter­day finis­hed: with a fami­ly of polar bears. Pos­si­b­ly the same ones that we saw last night, but 2 fami­lies are sup­po­sed in the area, so we don’t know for sure, they may be dif­fe­rent ones. Today’s polar bears were inte­res­ted in a depot of gar­ba­ge and fuel which sup­po­sed­ly belongs to the Sys­sel­man­nen. They went their way after a while.

Sal­ly­ham­na

Sallyhamna

We did the same and con­ti­nued towards Raudfjord, which tur­ned out to be so fog­gy that we left again soon and set cour­se to the east. The visi­bi­li­ty clea­red up as we ent­e­red Woodfjor­den, so we went to one of the small islands for a lovely tun­dra walk. Natu­re has so much to offer, often on a small sca­le. If you just want big ani­mals and spec­ta­cu­lar, big sce­ne­ry, then you may not find much here, but if you have a sen­se for all the small things, the struc­tures, the colours, the lichens and the rocks, the birds and the tun­dra, then you can spend a lot of time here.

Andoya­ne

Andoyane

Andoya­ne

Andoyane

Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 04 August 2018

The nor­thwest of Spits­ber­gen does not exact­ly encou­ra­ge hiking with its rocky and steep ter­rain and the gla­cier-cove­r­ed inland. But the­re are some oppor­tu­nities, and we grab­bed one to ven­ture into this world of ice and steep rocks.

Hiking

Hiking

Later on Dans­køya, we were gree­ted by har­bour seals. Back to a world full of life after the rug­ged high-alpi­ne land­s­cape ear­lier today!

Virgo­ham­na

Virgohamna

This altog­e­ther had made the day alrea­dy more than com­ple­te, but Pål’s sharp eyes dis­co­ved a polar bear fami­ly on a steep, rock shore and they gave us about half an hour of unf­or­gett­able obser­va­tions! Lovely to see the 3 ani­mals, all of them healt­hy and in good shape!

Fug­loya

Fugloya

Fug­loya

Fugloya

From Krossfjor­den up to Mag­da­le­n­efjord – 03 August 2018

Now it was time for a good hike, so we took off for a cou­p­le of hours in Krossfjor­den, having at look at the remains of a Ger­man wea­ther sta­ti­on from the dark years of the Second World War and then hiking up to some hills and rid­ges which pro­vi­ded some gre­at views over the wide coas­tal plain that stret­ches from here to the west coast, cal­led Die­sets­let­ta.

Signe­ham­na

Signehamna

And who would have thought that we were able to explo­re this coas­tal plain from the other side just a few hours later? The coast of Die­sets­let­ta is very expo­sed and it is defi­ni­te­ly not on the list of com­mon­ly used lan­ding sites, but today it was so calm that we just had to use the oppor­tu­ni­ty! A beau­ti­ful rocky coast with some small, hid­den beaches, a wide-open tun­dra land with lakes and rivers and moun­tains with inte­res­ting colours and struc­tures fur­ther inland.

Die­sets­let­ta

Diesetsletta

After a cou­p­le of calm hours the anchor went to the bot­tom in beau­ti­ful sur­roun­dings in Mag­da­le­n­efjord, whe­re Pål took care of today’s catch of fish.

Grav­ne­set

Gravneset

Kongsfjord – 02 August 2018

We fill the die­sel tanks up once again in Ny-Åle­sund to be rea­dy for
wha­te­ver may come and of cour­se we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a walk
around. Addi­tio­nal­ly, I need to buy some socks, and this is whe­re you
get the best ones in the world!

Ny-Åle­sund

Ny-Ålesund

Later, we wan­ted to visit a bird cliff, but that was alrea­dy occup­pied.
Not too bad eit­her. We can’t com­p­lain about the polar bear den­si­ty,
the­se are num­bers 2 and 3 for us, and it’s just the 3rd day in the trip!

Ossi­an-Sarsfjel­let

Ossian-Sarsfjellet

The wind had star­ted to blow up here in Kongsfjor­den, so we moved up to
Krossfjor­den for a calm night at anchor. Not without visi­t­ing the migh­ty
Lil­lie­höök­breen on the way!

Lil­lie­hook­breen

Lilliehookbreen
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