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Yearly Archives: 2018 − News & Stories


Avoid dis­tur­ban­ce in sen­si­ti­ve tun­dra are­as such as Mid­ter­hu­ken!

The sum­mer­sea­son has begun in Spits­ber­gen. After a rela­tively ear­ly snow melt, ships have arri­ved to take tou­rists into remo­te are­as, and birds have retur­ned to start their bree­ding sea­son.

The ear­ly sum­mer is a very busy time in the Arc­tic for all kinds of crea­tures, ani­mals and humans ali­ke. Both birdcliffs and the tun­dra are hum­ming with life, thousands of geese are now buil­ding up reser­ves after the spring migra­ti­on to get rea­dy for bree­ding, eider ducks and many other birds, tun­dra- and cliff bree­ders, to just about the same.

The Sys­sel­man­nen (gover­nor) reminds ever­y­bo­dy to exer­cise gre­at care when tra­vel­ling in the field. That is important at any time, but espe­cial­ly so in the ear­ly sum­mer when many birds are bree­ding. A num­ber of espe­cial­ly sen­si­ti­ve sites are pro­tec­ted as bird sanc­tua­ries, but birds are also res­ting and nes­ting in many other are­as, making them pro­ne to dis­tur­ban­ce during the bree­ding sea­son.

Midterhuken

Tun­dra at Mid­ter­hu­ken: should be left alo­ne in the ear­ly sum­mer.

The Sys­sel­man­nen expli­ci­tly asks ever­y­bo­dy to avoid traf­fic (not to land, that is) at Midterhuken/Gåsbergkilen in Bellsund. Also other sen­si­ti­ve pla­ces should eit­her be avoided or visi­ted only with gre­at care to avoid dis­tur­bing geese, ducks and other birds living and bree­ding in the tun­dra or on cliffs.

Safe and hap­py tra­vels!

Polar bear in buil­ding on Kapp Lin­né (Isfjord Radio)

A polar bear bro­ke into a buil­ding on Kapp Linné/Isfjord Radio.

The old radio sta­ti­on pro­vi­ded radio­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on bet­ween the sett­le­ments of Spits­ber­gen and the Nor­we­gi­an main­land. It was disus­ed when a glass fib­re cable was laid to enab­le much fas­ter traf­fic of much big­ger volu­mes of data. Sin­ce the late 1990s, Kapp Lin­né is used as a litt­le wild­ner­ness hotel on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen.

Cur­r­ent­ly the­re are 5 staff and 9 guests at Kapp Lin­né. Sunday morning around 7 a.m., the mana­ger, Malin Stark, saw that a door was bro­ken in, soon the­re­af­ter, she heard sus­pi­cious noi­ses from a sto­rage room, as Sval­bard­pos­ten reports.

Around 9 a.m., the polar bear was still insi­de the buil­ding. Sys­sel­man­nen and Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te have per­so­nell en rou­te to Kapp Lin­né to sca­re the bear away or to tran­qui­li­ze him. Shoo­ting the bear is the worst case sce­n­a­rio, which the spe­cia­lists will want to avoide if pos­si­ble by any means.

Polar bear Kapp Linné (Isfjord Radio)

Polar bear on Kapp Lin­né (Isfjord Radio). Archi­ve image aut­hor.

Per­sons were, as far as known, not in immedia­te dan­ger. It is, howe­ver, pos­si­ble, that the bear is under stress; it may be inju­red or may­be it does not find the way out again. The polar bear is assu­med to be a lar­ge male.

Polar bear visits on Kapp Lin­né are not an ever­y­day event, but they do occur more or less regu­lar­ly. This aut­hor, who spent a winter/spring sea­son working on Kapp Lin­né when he was still very young, was also able to make such expe­ri­ence. But a bear insi­de one of the buil­dings is defi­ni­te­ly a rare event.

Adden­dum: Sunday morning near 11 a.m. the Sys­sel­man­nen infor­med that the polar bear had left Kapp Lin­né and is on the way nor­thwards.

Bill­efjord

One night’s sai­ling had taken us far into the inner bran­ches of Isfjord and we woke up to a fan­tastic pan­ora­ma in Bill­efjord. Mir­ror images on the water and dozens of seals lying on the ice! No lan­ding to start with, as the bay was still fro­zen and the shores blo­cked by ice, but we tho­rough­ly enjoy­ed.

Billefjord

Sce­ne­ry in Bill­efjord.

It was loci­gal to con­ti­nue just around the cor­ner to the migh­ty Nor­dens­kiöld­breen. One of Isfjord’s big­gest gla­ciers and more or less our last chan­ce for a polar bear sigh­t­ing.

Nordenskiöldbreen, Billefjord

Sce­ne­ry in Bill­efjord, Nor­dens­kiöld­breen.

Stun­ning sce­ne­ry and a lovely encoun­ter with a Bear­ded seal, but no polar bear …

Bearded seal, Nordenskiöldbreen

Bear­ded seal at Nor­dens­kiöld­breen.

Then it was time for a lan­ding. Cho­sing a beau­ti­ful spot in Bill­efjord not far from Nor­dens­kiöld­breen, I went back to old “hun­ting grounds” (not liter­al­ly) which brought back many fond memo­ries. That was just me per­so­nal­ly, but ever­y­bo­dy enjoy­ed the walk, the sce­ne­ry and the silence.

Landing at Brucebyen

Lan­ding near Bruce­by­en. Always the­se ter­ri­b­ly long Zodiac rides from ship to shore! 😉

Bruce­by­en was the site whe­re a Scot­tish com­pa­ny inves­ti­ga­ted coal occur­ren­ces around 1920. A short-lived adven­ture.

Brucebyen

Bruce­by­en.

Then, final­ly … we were almost on the way out of Bill­efjord, then we got our polar bear! Distant, yes, thus cer­tain­ly not allowing for world-class pho­to­gra­phy. But it was our polar bear! Clear­ly visi­ble with bino­cu­lars, it brought a smi­le on ever­y­bo­dies face.

Polar bear, Nordenskiöldbreen

Polar bear at Nor­dens­kiöld­breen, if you can see it. It was a bit distant, but it was our polar bear, and it was real! 🙂

So it was a hap­py ship that set cour­se for Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the late after­noon.

Isfjord: Alk­hor­net, Bar­ents­burg

It is real­ly ful­ly win­ter still here in Isfjord. Snow, snow, snow. Add to that some sun, the sound of a birdcliff in the back­ground and a wide pan­ora­ma of fjord and coast, moun­tains and gla­ciers, rein­de­er and geese on the first bits of open tun­dra. Does it get more beau­ti­ful than this? Hard­ly.

Schnee, Trygghamna

Late win­ter in Trygg­ham­na.

Harbour seal

Har­bour seal.

Snow buntings, Alkhornet

Snow bun­tings at Alk­hor­net.

Alkhornet

Some gol­den moments at Alk­hor­net.

We also made a visit to the Ymer­buk­ta swim­ming club. Always nice to meet the locals 🙂

Ymerbukta

Ymer­buk­ta swim­ming club.

Many will pro­bab­ly agree that Bar­ents­burg is not more beau­ti­ful, not in a clas­si­cal sen­se. But dif­fe­rent. Very dif­fe­rent! It is his­to­ri­cal and poli­ti­cal. We did have a clo­se look at all of this. If you have mis­sed this, than you have not ful­ly unders­tood what Spits­ber­gen is all about today. Lenin would agree.

Lenin in Barentsburg

Lenin in Bar­ents­burg.

Loo­king back at the last cou­p­le of days, we had ple­nty of good rea­sons to rai­se the glas­ses to a won­der­ful trip. So we did in the evening. A skål to Cap­tain Mario and chef Piet! And of cour­se to the who­le crew, but cap­tain and chef are key posi­ti­ons as ever­y­bo­dy knows who has tra­vel­led on a ship. A word for all of you who have tra­vel­led on Anti­gua in recent years and who are curious how things are going here now: of cour­se I was also curious how it would be after our for­mer Cap­tain Joa­chim and chef Sascha had set cour­se for new adven­tures. Big shoes to fill, as all of our fel­low tra­vel­lers will con­firm. So I am more than hap­py to tell you know that I am loo­king for­ward to many more trips to come with Anti­gua! We have had a gre­at jour­ney now (and still not finis­hed yet)!

Piet

Thumbs up for the Anti­gua-chef Piet!

Kongsfjord

We could spend the who­le day in Kongsfjord. This post­card-level-beau­ti­ful fjord con­sists, next to moun­tains, of many lar­ge gla­cier, and we had a very good and clo­se look at several ones of them, both from a land­ba­sed per­spec­ti­ve and from the sea. This alrea­dy descri­bes most of today’s acti­vi­ties suf­fi­ci­ent­ly.

Blomstrandbreen

At Blom­strand­breen.

Humpback whale, Kongsfjord

Hump­back wha­le in Kongsfjord.

We were at the right time at the right place to meet a Hump­back wha­le who waved us a friend­ly fare­well with his migh­ty flu­ke. And to round the day off, we went for some insi­de insights of Blom­strand­hal­vøya.

Iceberg, Kongsfjord

Ice­berg in Kongsfjord.

Coastal cave, Blomstrandhalvøya

Coas­tal cave, Blom­strand­hal­vøya.

Ano­t­her beau­ti­ful day in the Arc­tic!

For­landsund, Ny-Åle­sund

The wind that had bothe­red us yes­ter­day evening ser­ved us well later during the night and car­ri­ed us far north, so we woke up with wal­rus­ses just around the cor­ner and of cour­se we made good use of the oppor­tu­ni­ty ☺

Ny-Ålesund

Wal­rus­ses in For­landsund.

Ny-Åle­sund is of cour­se a clas­sic on most Spits­ber­gen voya­ges, but on this par­ti­cu­lar trip, it is a rather unex­pec­ted geo­gra­phi­cal high­light in the tru­est sen­se of the world. Who would have thought just a few days ago that we would make it this far north? But here we were, and we could even enjoy bril­li­ant sunshi­ne – a rare thing on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen – and then, final­ly, a calm night in the har­bour. Some­thing we had well deser­ved, as we all agreed!

Ny-Ålesund

The air­s­hip mast at Ny-Åle­sund.

Bellsund

The pas­sa­ge during the night from Horn­sund up to Bellsund could have been a bit smoot­her, but it was all for­got­ten when we were gree­ted by some very curious rein­de­er in Bellsund, with a gla­cier in the back­ground! So we did later, stan­ding on a litt­le hill, enjoy­ing an ama­zing view over the fast ice in Van Mijen­fjord.

Svalbard Reindeer, Bellsund

Sval­bard Rein­de­er are smal­ler than their rela­ti­ves on the main­land.

Later we saw some wal­rus­ses, also with a gre­at sce­nic back­drop. Bellsund is one of Spitsbergen’s most beau­ti­ful pla­ces. It is easy to get lost here, mental­ly!

Bellsund

View over Bellsund

And now the­re are some kilos of plastic less on the beaches in Bellsund. We also remo­ved a fishing net. The­re was a smal­ler pie­ce of fishing net whe­re 2 rein­de­er had got ent­an­gled. At least one of them had died with the net in the ant­lers. The other one may have escaped. Awful! This who­le plastic issue will stay with us for a long time, I am afraid. The­re is still a loo­ooot of work to do. Most of it far south of Spits­ber­gen, by the way.

Other than that: ano­t­her beau­ti­ful day in the Arc­tic!

Bellsund

Remains of fishing nets and other plastic was­te have often tra­vel­led thousands of miles befo­re they end up on Spits­ber­gen.

Horn­sund

The pas­sa­ge from Bear Island to Horn­sund was fast and good. The timing could not have been bet­ter: short­ly befo­re we ent­e­red Horn­sund, the wind tur­ned to the north and picked up to gale for­ce. This would not have been gre­at at all at open sea, but as it was, it did not mat­ter much and some hours later we were firm­ly ancho­red in a shel­te­red bay deeply insi­de Horn­sund. Not­hing was to be seen of the land­s­cape as ever­ything was hid­den behind den­se snow sho­wers. We have obvious­ly arri­ved in the high arc­tic!

Hornbreen

The gla­cier Horn­breen, South-Spits­ber­gen

Today, howe­ver, it clea­red up and we even got some blue sky and bright sunshi­ne. Lovely! It was good to get some solid ground under our boots again, so we hik­ed across an island and enjoy­ed gre­at views of the sce­ne­ry. Later we went out for a stun­ning zodiac crui­se bet­ween many small ice­bergs which were shi­ning in the sun, and final­ly to a migh­ty gla­cier front in Bre­pol­len in inner­most Horn­sund. Our first day in Spits­ber­gen, and Horn­sund has shown us some of his best sides!

Brepollen

Anti­gua well shel­te­red in the bay of Bre­pol­len, Horn­sund

Beluga-Whales

Belu­ga wha­les swim­ming through Hornsund/ Vest­re Bur­ger­buk­ta

Bear Island (Bjørnøya)

Con­si­de­ring the wea­ther fore­cast, I had been rather opti­mistic regar­ding today’s visit to Bear Island, but less so when I saw how the wind and waves came from the sou­thwest, rol­ling around the sou­thern tip of the island and making the sup­po­sed­ly shel­te­red eas­tern side an uncom­for­ta­ble place to be. So I was rather uncer­tain if we could make it ashore today.

 Stappen, Bear Island

Which way to Bear Island, plea­se?

Sør­ham­na was clear­ly not an opti­on, and a quick look into the bays fur­ther north did not give us much in terms of use­ful opti­ons eit­her. To get at least a bit of shel­ter, we ended up drop­ping the anchor in Røed­vi­ka clo­se to Mise­ryfjel­let. No chan­ce to get ashore here, but any­way it was good to have Anti­gua rea­son­ab­ly calm for a while.

After having obser­ved the wind and wea­ther for a while, Mario, Sarah and I took a Zodiac to see if the­re was real­ly no chan­ce to get ashore any­whe­re. The wind see­med to have cal­med down at least a bit. This is our 8th visit to Bear Island with SV Anti­gua, and we can’t pos­si­b­ly make this the first one without a lan­ding? Of cour­se it is up to mother natu­re in the end, but we wan­ted to give it a try at least … the key to suc­cess tur­ned out to be that Mario took the Anti­gua clo­se to the coast in a drift posi­ti­on whe­re islets and rocks took most of the power out of the swell, so we could board the Zodiacs safe­ly and go ashore on a lovely beach which its­elf was per­fect­ly calm. Heia Bear Island! This area, on the sou­the­as­tern coast of the island, is amongst the most beau­ti­ful spots. A small, but good impres­si­on of the beau­ty of the natu­re on this remo­te island which is still rather rare­ly visi­ted, being off the usu­al tou­rist trails.

It was with a big smi­le that ever­y­bo­dy got back later on board. In the evening, we set cour­se for Spits­ber­gen.

Bear Island

Made it! View over Bear Island

Bar­ents Sea

Always kee­ping a good eye on the wea­ther fore­cast, we deci­ded in Stok­marknes to make this our depar­tu­re point from the main­land of Nor­way and to set cour­se direct­ly for the Bar­ents Sea and Bear Island. The­re is a lot of wind in the north Atlan­tic, and if we are too late, we will get more of it than we will like, and we will get it on the nose. So, bet­ter to be out ear­ly to avoid that! Taking off here and now, we have a good chan­ce for very fair sai­ling winds on our way north.

 Barents Sea

Set­ting cour­se for the Bar­ents Sea and Bear Island

So we said good­bye and fare­well to main­land Nor­way in Stok­marknes and a few hours later we were alrea­dy at sea. Sails up and cour­se for Bear Island (Bjørnøya)! That was our mot­to for the next round­about 44 hours. Sun, sai­ling with 9-10 knots, tho­se were the the­mes of the day on Wed­nes­day. The same, just without sun, on Thurs­day morning, but now we have got Bear Island 20 miles ahead of us and we will drop anchor in a very few hours!

Ves­terå­len: Stok­marknes

This bridge last night tur­ned out to be an inte­res­ting thing. A 30 met­re high bridge and a 31 met­re high ship. Well, but the 30 metres of the bridge are the gua­ran­te­ed mini­mum hight abo­ve the hig­hest high water ever. To be sure, we sent mate Nick up the Besan to see if the main mast would fit.

Bridge at Stokmarknes, Vesterålen

Bridge at Stok­marknes, Ves­terå­len.

It did. The­re were still several metres of space.

Soon the­re­af­ter we had reached Stok­marknes in the late evening hours. Next to us, the old Hur­tig­ru­ten ship Finn­mar­ken is beached, now ser­ving as a muse­um.

Hurtigruten ship Finnmarken in Stokmarknes, Vesterålen

Old Hur­tig­ru­ten ship Finn­mar­ken, now a muse­um, in Stok­marknes, Ves­terå­len.

After a lovely sun­set (the last one of the voya­ge!) and a calm night in the har­bour, we woke up to found the day to be grey and rai­ny. Nevertheless, we went off for a nice hike up the hills behind Stok­marknes.

Snow fields, Stokmarknes, Vesterålen

Snow fiel­ds in the moun­tains behind Stok­marknes, Ves­terå­len.

Nevertheless, it was a good hike with some nice views under the clouds, and it is always good to get some exer­cise. Espe­cial­ly if you have got some days at sea ahead. And we will soon set sail for Bear Island (Bjørnøya)!

View of Stokmarknes, Vesterålen

Grey view of Stok­marknes, Ves­terå­len.

Lofo­ten: Skro­va & Troll­fjord

The wea­ther was much more agree­ab­le today: still clou­dy, but no rain and very litt­le wind. So we went to the lovely island and har­bour of Skro­va, which we reached after a short pas­sa­ge from Kabel­våg during bre­ak­fast. Skro­va has very nice oppor­tu­nities for various hikes. The top of the moun­tain Skro­va­f­jel­let was still hid­den in clouds, but the lower moun­tain Stap­pen was free and pro­vi­ded some gre­at pan­or­amic views.

Skrova, Lofoten

View over Skro­va, Lofo­ten.

On the way fur­ther north we had nice, gent­le sai­ling wind without too big waves. Per­fect con­di­ti­ons to enjoy the view of SV Anti­gua under sail from the din­gy. A gre­at and impres­si­ve view! Then the swell went up again and the wind down and so did the sails, con­se­quent­ly.

Antigua under sail, Vestfjord

SV Anti­gua under sail in nort­hern Ves­t­fjord, clo­se to Litlmol­la.

Later during the after­noon, we reached the famous Troll­fjord. A place whe­re natu­re had put a lot of effort into crea­ting a stun­ning tes­ti­mo­ny to her own, gre­at powers. Cheers to the ice-age gla­ciers that have made this ama­zing bit of land­s­cape!

Antigua in Trollfjord

SV Anti­gua in Troll­fjord.

In the end, even a Sea eagle tur­ned up and cir­cled around the ship. A gre­at, rich day!

Sea eagle in Trollfjord

Sea eagle in Troll­fjord.

Kabel­våg

Last night, we had a gre­at sun­set at sea, behind the moun­tains of the island of Aus­t­vå­gøy, while we were gent­ly sai­ling nor­the­ast­wards … very nice! A beau­ti­ful pas­sa­ge with lovely visu­al impres­si­ons, that’s how we like it!

Sunset over Austvågøy, Lofoten

Sun­set over Aus­t­vå­gøy, Lofo­ten.

And it was just as nice that we still found space in the litt­le har­bour of Kabel­våg, alt­hough the­re was alrea­dy a ship along­side. But we could go along­side that one and thus had a peace­ful place to stay for tomor­row. Which is good, becau­se it is sup­po­sed to be rather uncom­for­ta­ble in the area tomor­row.

Storm clouds over Austvågøy, Lofoten

Storm clouds over Aus­t­vå­gøy, Lofo­ten.

Which was not exa­g­ge­ra­ted. During the morning, it was still qui­te ok, but the clouds spo­ke a clear lan­guage. It star­ted rai­ning towards mid-day. But we had a good time in the muse­um and in the mari­ne aqua­ri­um of Kabel­våg. Warm and dry and lots of inte­res­ting stufff to see.

Fishermen's accommodation (Rorbu), museum Kabelvåg, Lofoten

This is whe­re the fisher­men lived. 8 men in one room with 4 bunks. In this room, they slept, lived, wwor­ked, coo­ked, ate and dried their wet fishing gear …

Owner's villa, museum Kabelvåg, Lofoten

… and this is whe­re the owner of the “Fis­ke­vær” lived, pro­bab­ly best trans­la­ted as “fishing har­bour”.

The after­noon went with lots of rain. Some eider­ducks are sit­ting on the shore, the waves are brea­king on the rocks out­side the har­bour. Some bra­ve peop­le went for a hike, but many pre­fer to visit the Anti­gua-cine­ma and to enjoy a cup of cof­fee and a book.

King Øystein, Kabelvåg

King Wikin­ger­kö­nig Øys­tein keeps a watch­ful eye over Kabel­våg.

Even a Jazz con­cert that was sche­du­led for tonight in the church is can­cel­led. Too bad, that would have been per­fect for a day like this. But the more cosy it is insi­de, while the rain is fal­ling out­side and the waves are going high at sea.

Sky over Kabelvåg

Sky over Aus­t­vå­gøy.

Tomor­row will be a new day with new wea­ther!

Nusfjord

We were a bit curious how it would be to get Anti­gua into the small har­bour of Nusfjord in the strong winds that we had, but they just cal­med down and it tur­ned out to be fine. And so did the after­noon. The wea­ther clea­red up and it got real­ly nice and plea­sant. And then, Nusfjord is such a lovely place!

Nusfjord: Trockenfisch

Old friends in Nusfjord.

Pro­bab­ly the most famous of the tra­di­tio­nal Lofo­ten fishing vil­la­ges, Nusfjord is a beau­ti­ful set­ting of old buil­dings around a small, well-shel­te­red natu­ral har­bour. The old shop was open and very popu­lar, and we went hiking over some rocky hills near the sea, enjoy­ing the views over moun­tains, the coast and Ves­t­fjord. An extre­me­ly enjoya­ble after­noon!

Nusfjord

The har­bour of. And, actual­ly, the who­le rest of it.

Now we are sai­ling north (or east, rather) in the evening sun, hea­ding for Kabel­våg.

Lofo­ten: Rei­ne

Some hours sai­ling (without engi­ne!) took us across Ves­t­fjord to Mos­ken­esøya, the sou­thern­most island of the main chain of the Lofo­ten islands (the­re are some out­liers, Værøy and Røst, far out in the sea). Most peop­le enjoy­ed the pas­sa­ge, alt­hough it was the first day on the ship. Col­la­te­ral dama­ge rela­ted to the moti­on of the ship was not unhe­ard of, but rather limi­ted. Good to get some trai­ning! We will see some more open water later on this trip.

SV Antigua with Captain Mario

Lea­ving Bodø: Cap­tain Mario gives steam.

SV Antigua under sail across Vestfjord

Sai­ling across Ves­t­fjord to the Lofo­ten islands.

But for the moment we are in Rei­ne, one of the sou­thern­most fishing vil­la­ges in Lofo­ten. Admit­ted­ly, the wea­ther could have been bet­ter. But we are on Lofo­ten. And it is actual­ly real­ly beau­ti­ful as soon as some sun is brea­king through the clouds!

Rainbow over Reine, Lofoten

Rain­bow over Rei­ne, Lofo­ten.

This year’s catch of cod is still han­ging on the dry­ing racks, soon it will be taken down for export.

Dry fish, Reine, Lofoten

Dry­ing racks with cod in Rei­ne, Lofo­ten.

Kit­ti­wa­kes are ever­y­day birds in the north. They are bree­ding in many pla­ces on steep cliffs. But a kit­ti­wa­ke on a nest on a tree in a gar­den? Never seen that befo­re! 🙂

Kittiwake, Reine, Lofoten

Kit­ti­wa­ke on a nest on a tree! Qui­te unusu­al for the­se cliff-bree­ders.

The­re is always some­thing to dis­co­ver in the­se Lofo­ten fishing vil­la­ges. Even in grey and wet wea­ther, the­re are the colours of the woo­den houses and the flowers. But it was inde­ed a good thing that the Café ope­ned at 11 a.m., and almost ever­y­bo­dy found the way the­re soon. No sur­pri­se!

Colours of flowers and houses, Reine, Lofoten

Colours of flowers and houses in Rei­ne.

Now we are hea­ding for Nusfjord and curious what the after­noon will bring the­re.

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