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Home → June, 2019

Monthly Archives: June 2019 − News & Stories

Drift ice edge – 30th June 2019

We have got good sai­ling wind to bring us nor­thwards to Mag­da­le­nefjord, whe­re we anchor late in the night and then wake up with suns­hi­ne and two polar bears in view. Then we con­ti­nue nor­thwards, to the ice edge. It is not far, north Spits­ber­gen is still com­ple­te­ly in ice. We meet the drift ice edge in Smee­ren­burg­fjord. Rug­ged moun­ta­ins make the back­ground sce­n­ery, and the sun is shi­ning. Stun­ning!

Gal­lery – Drift ice edge – 30th June 2019

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

Pas­sing Smee­ren­burg and Vir­go­ham­na, we sail west­wards to the open sea and then turn north. See how far we get. Well, not far at all. We don’t make it to 80 degrees. Ice, wind and poor visi­bi­li­ty as soon as the­re is ice.

We don’t stay long, then we set sail and cour­se to the south.

Kongsfjord – 29th June 2019

Ano­ther beau­tiful day – some­thing you should not take for gran­ted here in Spits­ber­gen the­se days, con­side­ring the wea­ther fore­cast. The­re are some strong low pres­su­res around in the north Atlan­tic. But Kongsfjord was the right place at the right time. We spent the mor­ning sit­ting high up at a bird cliff, enjoy­ing stun­ning views and a lively con­cert of Brünich’s guil­l­emots and kit­ti­wa­kes.

Gal­lery – Kongsfjord – 29th June 2019

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

Also Ny-Åle­sund was quite lively, espe­ci­al­ly in and around Kongsfjord­bu­tik­ken, with a lar­ge group of tou­rists from eas­tern Asia. Very lively. A slight­ly dif­fe­rent kind of arc­tic tou­rism. It seems to be in their natu­re to be … effi­ci­ent. In other words: soon it was calm again, so we could turn our atten­ti­on to the air­ship mast and the histo­ry of the north pole expe­di­ti­ons.

Engelskbuk­ta, Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta – 28th June 2019

A fair bree­ze has brought us up north again. A few years ago in Engelskbuk­ta, a gla­cier had advan­ced stron­gly and tur­ned its sur­roun­dings into an impres­si­ve ice age land­scape. Geo­mor­pho­lo­gy live! And a chan­ce for an easy, litt­le gla­cier hike.

A cou­ple of hours later are we in Kross­fjord. Wind, sun, blue sky, blue water, rug­ged moun­ta­ins, wild gla­ciers, guil­l­emots, puf­fins, green slo­pes with colourful flowers. A para­di­se of arc­tic natu­re!

Gal­lery – Engelskbuk­ta, Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta – 28th June 2019

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

But a win­dy one. After a stun­ning pas­sa­ge near Blomtrand­breen, we drop the anchor behind Blom­strand­hal­vøya for a calm night.

Bell­sund – 27th June 2019

Sou­thwards – that was to be Horn­sund for us. After che­cking the updated wea­ther fore­cast, we had chan­ged our plan and went to Bell­sund. The wea­ther does not seem to be too pro­mi­sing fur­ther south.

So Bell­sund is the place for today. It is a bit grey, but calm and silent as the anchor goes down after break­fast.

Recher­chefjord is a place full of histo­ry from seve­ral cen­tu­ries. Like the first win­te­rers on Spits­ber­gen, Tsjitsjagov’s bad­ly plan­ned expe­di­ti­on, the rather suc­cessful Recher­che-expe­di­ti­on, the unlu­cky voya­ge of the Mon­te Cer­van­tes and the mys­tery of Gjæver’s Vil­la.

Other sto­ries reach fur­ther back. Such as the fos­si­li­sed morai­ne that dates to the snow­ball earth era. Almost 600 mil­li­on years back.

Later, we enjoy a good tun­dra walk in Van Keu­len­fjord. Ple­nty of curious reinde­er ever­y­whe­re. We reach some beau­tiful view­points and stun­ning sce­n­ery, befo­re we get back to the ship, a bit late for din­ner.

Gal­lery – Bell­sund – 27th June 2019

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

I almost can’t belie­ve it when Cap­tain Robert shows me the latest wea­ther fore­cast. Sou­the­as­tern Spits­ber­gen, until recent­ly the place whe­re we wan­ted to go, will soon turn into a very unp­lea­sant wea­ther hole. We pre­fer to chan­ge our plans and stay some­whe­re nice, so we set cour­se nor­thwards again. It may look a bit stran­ge later on the map, but cares?

For­lands­und – 26th June 2019

The last two weeks in Lon­gye­ar­by­en went by very quick­ly … and now we are alre­a­dy off again, with 2 ½ weeks of sai­ling in Spits­ber­gen with SV Anti­gua ahead of us.

The north coast is still in den­se ice, so we will pro­ba­b­ly spend some time in the south and sou­the­ast. But to start with, we go at least a litt­le bit nor­thwards. Recent sightin­gs have con­firm­ed good chan­ces to see wal­ru­ses in For­lands­und, and the wea­ther fore­cast seems per­fect: a calm day for excur­si­ons and then a fair nor­t­her­ly bree­ze to fill the sails on the way south.

So here we go. On the first mor­ning of the trip, we wake up at anchor near a litt­le pen­in­su­la in For­lands­und. The­re is a group of wal­rus hau­led out on shore, may­be 40-50 ani­mals. And … two polar bears! A mother and her second year cub are making their way towards the wal­ru­ses.

It was to be a stun­ning mor­ning. With the Zodiacs we mana­ged to get into a good posi­ti­on to be a fly on the wall. The bears tried to make the wal­rus panic, but wit­hout much suc­cess. Final­ly they moved away again a bit, wal­ked up and down the beach and final­ly laid down for a rest. A beau­tiful series of events and beha­viours, which we are bles­sed to have wit­nessed!

Gal­lery – For­lands­und – 26th June 2019

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

Later we go for a litt­le tun­dra walk at Mur­ray­pyn­ten on Prins Karls For­land to earth our­selvs again (quite lite­ral­ly, the tun­dra is still quite wet and a bit bog­gy …)

Once all are back on board, we prepa­re the sails. The engi­ne can take a break, the wind is doing the work for us now. Let’s go south!

Isfjord – 08th June 2019

It is unbe­lie­va­ble how time flies – not the trip was short, actual­ly! But the days were full and exci­ting. Today, we are back in Isfjord, and now the sun comes final­ly out behind the clouds. We have deser­ved that, we have not seen much from the sun recent­ly.

Ever­y­bo­dy is exci­ted, and the­re is a gre­at moti­va­ti­on to see more wild­life. Not that we haven’t seen any so far, but still. So we move on with Anti­gua, crui­sing various bays. And the guys are the­re. Wal­ru­ses in Bore­buk­ta. And the­re is even a polar bear near Sveab­reen. The bear is having break­fast with a seal. Well, in a way. Being the seal would be rather unfort­u­na­te.

It is a won­derful after­noon to round a gre­at trip off. We enjoy the who­le sce­n­ery with a lot of time, silence and peace. The­re is a lot of ice around us, drif­ting bits and pie­ces of gla­cier ice, fast ice towards the gla­cier, and the moun­ta­ins are still lar­ge­ly snow-cover­ed. Final­ly we step into the Zodiacs once again to enjoy the ice.

Gal­lery – Isfjord – 08th June 2019

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

Then it is time to set cour­se for Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

For­lands­und – 07th June 2019

It is love­ly to return to the tun­dra after so much snow and ice fur­ther north. The­re is, of cour­se, still a lot of snow also at sea level here at the cen­tral west coast, but the snow-free patches of vege­ta­ti­on are get­ting lar­ger and lar­ger, to the delight of geese and reinde­er, which are here in num­bers. We have even found some ear­ly flowers of the pur­ple saxif­ra­ge!

We are in Eidem­buk­ta and ven­ture out in three groups for a litt­le walk, fol­lo­wing the beau­tiful coast­li­ne and hiking to some low hills for the views. As always, Ingolf mana­ges to find some inte­res­t­ing birds, such as the first grey phalar­opes of the trip, and even some com­mon sco­ters. And the­re are geese, main­ly bar­na­cle geese, and of cour­se ple­nty of reinde­er. In some places the snow is still deep enough to make wal­king a bit chal­len­ging, but it is good fun at the same time and of cour­se it is good to burn some calo­ries …

Later we move up to St. Jons­fjord, whe­re we have a look at the fast ice edge and then drop the anchor near Gaf­fel­breen. Also here, we go for a walk. Some enjoy the views of the gla­cier from the morai­ne ridge, while others visit a litt­le hut, built from drift­wood logs.

Gal­lery – For­lands­und – 07th June 2019

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

Back on Anti­gua, it is time to cele­bra­te. It was – and still is – a gre­at trip. Anni­ka, Chris­tin and Jana have pre­pared a litt­le par­ty for ever­y­bo­dy, and Sascha is making sure that the BBQ is on and red-hot, with ple­nty of goo­dies. A big thanks to all of you – it is a gre­at evening in good com­pa­ny and stun­ning sur­roun­dings!

Drift ice – 05th and 06th June 2019

It is ama­zing how quick­ly things chan­ge here: just yes­ter­day, Dans­ke­gat­tet was com­ple­te­ly ice free, and now the­re are floes of loo­se drift ice, so we stay away from this part­ly shal­low pas­sa­ge and keep to the outer side of Ams­ter­damøya.

Drift ice around the nor­thwest cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen. That is how it used to be – just that it used to be well into July in the old days and not just in the begin­ning of June, as it is now.

We pass one field of drift ice after the other, and some of the off­ly­ing islands: Fug­le­son­gen, whe­re we hear the cra­zy laugh­ter of the thou­sands of litt­le auks, and Klov­nin­gen. Later, we reach the ent­rance to Raud­fjord. Den­se drift ice ever­y­whe­re, and the who­le map is still fro­zen solid, at least accor­ding to the ice chart. After a litt­le Zodiac excur­si­on, we take off and move out, as we don’t want to spend a cou­ple of weeks here.

Mean­while, the drift ice around Ams­ter­damøya has beco­me so den­se that the pas­sa­ge back to open water takes more time than plan­ned. This is gre­at – natu­re is in con­trol! We spend one more night, just drif­ting in an area of open drift ice, and then it takes about half a day to navi­ga­te through Smee­ren­burg­fjord and Sør­gat­tet.

Gal­lery – Drift ice – 05th and 06th June 2019

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

From the­re, we fol­low the west coast to the south. Ever­y­thing here is grey today. In the evening, we reach Prins Karls For­land, whe­re we visit a group of pret­ty acti­ve wal­ru­ses to round the day off.

Gal­lery – Drift ice – 05th and 06th June 2019 – 2

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

Dan­s­køya – 04th June 2019

We had rea­ched the nor­thwes­tern cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen over night. Here, in the high north, the land was still cover­ed with a thick lay­er of snow, so we got the snow shoes out and went for a love­ly walk.

On the way to Smee­ren­burg­breen (-gla­cier), we found two wal­ru­ses. One of them was quite curious and swam towards the ship. The wild­life encoun­ters that invol­ve the curiou­si­ty of the ani­mals as much as ours are always the best ones!

Final­ly we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to revi­ve an old and almost for­got­ten tra­di­ti­on. We went to the „post­box“ in Kob­befjord on Dan­s­køya, a cairn whe­re north­go­ing ships used to lea­ve mail. This was often their last oppor­tu­ni­ty for weeks or even months to make cont­act with the out­side world! South­bound ships went and took the mail with them if the oppor­tu­ni­ty occu­red and deli­ver­ed the let­ters to a post office in Nor­way. Let’s see when our post­cards arri­ve at their desti­na­ti­on …?

Gal­lery – Dan­s­køya – 04th June 2019

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

Some har­bour seals have alre­a­dy occu­p­ied their sum­mer posi­ti­on on rocks on shal­low waters just off the shore.

For­lands­und & Kross­fjord – 03rd June 2019

The wea­ther in For­lands­und was not quite like what the fore­cast had pro­mi­sed: a stiff nor­t­her­ly bree­ze made things a bit dif­fi­cult and life unfom­for­ta­ble until we had rea­ched shel­te­red waters again in Kross­fjord. The­re, we were hap­py to walk on solid ground again. We had a look at the remains of the geo­phy­si­cal obser­va­to­ry that was ope­ra­ted in Ebelt­oft­ham­na from 1912 to 1914 and later we visi­ted a sea­bird colo­ny fur­ther north in Kross­fjord.

Gal­lery – For­lands­und & Kross­fjord – 03rd June 2019

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

Bil­lefjord – 02nd June 2019

We were very curious what the day might bring – the­re had been ple­nty of polar bear sightin­gs recent­ly in Bil­lefjord. Just yes­ter­day, no less than 3 bears had been obser­ved here! So soon under break­fast we were under steam again. Just a few miles to the ice edge in inner Bil­lefjord.

It did not take much time until we had seen the bears on the fast ice near Nor­dens­ki­öld­breen, but far away, too far for good pho­to­gra­phy. One of the bears was eating a seal, the other one was wal­king back and forth in the same area, wai­ting for his chan­ce to get a share of the meal. We fol­lo­wed the who­le sce­ne with our bino­cu­lars and secu­red good views with Ingolf’s telescope, but it was too far to obtain reasonable pho­tos. But the who­le land­scape set­ting was stun­ning, with the ice cliff of the gla­cier in the back­ground and the ice edge whe­re some seals were res­t­ing on ice or play­ing in the water.

Gal­lery – Bil­lefjord – 02nd June 2019

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

Later, we ven­tu­red for our first landing in Skans­buk­ta, whe­re we saw reinde­er in ama­zing num­bers and we enjoy­ed the sun­ny views of the impres­si­ve sce­n­ery – well deser­ved after ascen­ding the slo­pe through deep snow.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en – Skans­buk­ta, 01st June 2019

Bra­ve Mara­thon-run­ners do their work in and near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, while we get rea­dy for action on Anti­gua. In the after­noon, we are rea­dy to set sail on Anti­gua, and that is exact­ly what we actual­ly do as soon as Cap­tain Robert has said hel­lo to ever­y­bo­dy. A brief intro­duc­tion turns us all into real sai­lers, and soon the can­vas goes up into the bree­ze, and the reason­ab­ly warm sun sees us sai­ling out of Advent­fjord and nor­thwards, across Sas­senfjord.

We have set cour­se for Skans­buk­ta, whe­re we drop the anchor for the night. It is a won­derful nor­t­hern evening in good com­pa­ny, many here on board have been on Anti­gua more often than some of the crew!

Gal­lery – Lon­gye­ar­by­en – Skans­buk­ta, 01st June 2019

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

Ingolf has got a lot of work with his telescope, the­re are ple­nty of reinde­er and seve­ral arc­tic foxes on the tun­dra and hundreds of com­mon eiders with an ama­zing num­ber of king eiders among­st them.


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