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Monthly Archives: August 2019 − News & Stories


Vikin­ge­bugt – 31st August 2019

Last night the anchor fell in Vikin­ge­bugt. Quite deep in the Score­s­by­sund – we had sai­led more than 60 miles sin­ce tur­ning around Kap Brews­ter – but the­re are not many shel­te­red ancho­ra­ges on this rug­ged coast­li­ne. It was a nice moment when the engin­ge was tur­ned off for the first time sin­ce we had left Grims­ey four days ago. Silence. Ever­y­bo­dy having din­ner at the same time. Nice.

After a calm night, we wan­ted to go ahead with our first landing. It was time to feel Green­land under our feet. It took a while to get the boats rea­dy after the open oce­an crossing – they were safe­ly sto­wed away and secu­red at open sea, nor­mal pro­ce­du­re – and then … a polar bear on shore! Who would have expec­ted that – polar bear sightin­gs are not an ever­y­day thing in Green­land! We had been tal­king about polar bears just a bit ear­lier today, the usu­al safe side of landings in the Arc­tic, but then actual­ly see­ing one, here in the Score­s­by­sund … well, as men­tio­ned befo­re, this is a pret­ty rare event in this area.

The bear fol­lo­wed a rocky slo­pe, then res­ted for a while on a snow field and final­ly ente­red a morai­ne area. It was not exact­ly an oppor­tu­ni­ty for stun­ning pho­to­gra­phy, but a fine obser­va­ti­on.

Gal­lery – Vikin­ge­bugt – 31st August 2019

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

Obvious­ly, we adjus­ted the plans for our landing and moved to a small island. It is always gre­at how such small islands, that seem to be just bar­ren rocks from a distance, turn out to be tre­asu­re boxes of natu­re. Basalt colum­ns as made by hand, and the­se stun­ning colours of the late sum­mer tun­dra, that Spits­ber­gen just does not have, at least not at this level. Bright yel­low and red, even on a rather grey day like today.

And, of cour­se, the stun­ning sur­roun­dings. Bits and pie­ces of gla­cier ice ever­y­whe­re, lar­ge gla­ciers in the back­ground, migh­ty moun­ta­ins sur­roun­ding the fjord.

Now we are con­ti­nuouing our way into the Score­s­by­sund.

Kap Brews­ter – 29th/30th August 2019

Yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) mor­ning the Green­land coast came into view, the moun­ta­ins south of Score­s­by­sund, cal­led the Blos­se­ville Coast. What loo­ked like indi­vi­du­al moun­ta­ins – or ice­bergs, as some initi­al­ly thought – then tur­ned out to be a long, con­ti­nuous chain of rug­ged moun­ta­ins and gla­ciers. Some lar­ge ice­bergs were drif­ting off this wild coast, the wind had cal­med down, the sun came out. A group of hump­back wha­les blew in the distance, one of them even brea­ched, and later, dol­phins were jum­ping next to us a cou­ple of times. Pro­ba­b­ly white-bea­k­ed dol­phins.

Gal­lery – Kap Brews­ter – 29th/30th August 2019

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

Wel­co­me to Green­land!

But we were not quite the­re yet, it is still a bit to go to the north until we can turn into Score­s­by­sund. We skip the thought of visi­ting the Blos­se­ville Coast and ancho­ring the­re some­whe­re shel­te­red. The next wind is not far away, and it is bet­ter to get into the Score­s­by­sund befo­re it is coming too clo­se. So we keep moving again through the night, shif­ting every 30 minu­tes on the wheel. The wind is picking up again, things are get­ting more lively on board, the speed is going down to a mere 3-4 knots, incre­asing again later … and final­ly, late mor­ning on Fri­day, we can turn west, around Kap Brews­ter and into Score­s­by­sund!

Den­mark Strait – 28th August 2019

Accor­ding to the fore­cast, this should be a good day to start the crossing towards Green­land. So we had an ear­ly break­fast and star­ted moving around 8 a.m. Soon, the litt­le island of Grims­ey dis­ap­peared in the low clouds behind us.
 

Gal­lery – Den­mark Strait – 28th August 2019

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

We kept the cour­se as high on the wind as pos­si­ble, towards the Blos­se­ville Kyst, south of Score­s­by­sund, most­ly making good speed of 7-8 knots. The­re was a nor­t­her­ly bree­ze, 4-5 Beau­fort, occa­sio­nal­ly may­be 6. Not­hing real­ly wild, but nevert­hel­ess, enough to make life dif­fi­cult for tho­se on board who were not used to it, so some retrea­ted to the rela­ti­ve peace and silence of their bunks. The others went on their shifts, kept the ship on cour­se and their nose in the fresh air, which always helps to make time go past quick­ly. So went the hours, one hori­zon fol­lo­wed upon the other one and Green­land would soon rise up behind one of them!

Grims­ey – 27th August 2019

We stay for a day on Grims­ey to give the storm bet­ween Ice­land and Green­land some time to ease out. And you can obvious­ly spend a love­ly day here! The litt­le island of Grims­ey is the nor­t­hern­most inha­bi­ted part of Ice­land – only Kol­bein­sey is fur­ther north, but that is mere­ly a rock – and it is situa­ted right on the arc­tic cir­cle. The­re is a monu­ment to mark the cir­le. Unfort­u­na­te­ly the tilt of the axis of the earth has chan­ged sin­ce. Hence, the arc­tic cir­cle has moved nor­thwards. So they had to build a new monu­ment, this time in shape of a con­cre­te ball that can be moved fur­ther to the north as nee­ded. Until the nor­t­hern end of the island is rea­ched. The­re are still a few hundred met­res of land.

Gal­lery – Grims­ey – 27th August 2019

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

Thou­sands of arc­tic terns rest on the run­way of the litt­le air­field. They have to be scared away befo­re the small pla­ne can land that con­nects Grims­ey to main­land Ice­land. Out of coin­ci­dence, we hap­pen to watch this fun­ny event.

Nor­t­hern ful­mars and some kit­ti­wa­kes are still sit­ting on the cliffs. The puf­fins and guil­l­emots have alre­a­dy left.

Fresh local fish in the restau­rant near the har­bour for lunch. Love­ly.

Fresh local fish on board for din­ner. Love­ly.

By now, we have explo­red all hiking trails around Grims­ey. So tomor­row we can take off for Green­land 🙂

Eyafjor­dur – 26th August 2019

You don’t have to be a pro­fes­sio­nal meteo­ro­lo­gist to see whe­re you do curr­ent­ly not want to be with a 20 meter sai­ling boat. Given the choice to sit in a hot pool in Akureyri’s fabu­lous public swim­ming pool ins­tead. I would call this an easy choice our wea­ther win­dow will open up, it is not far away any­mo­re. But not now.

Wetterkarte - 25-08-2019

Wea­ther map from 2019/08/25

Gal­lery – Eyafjor­dur – 26th August 2019

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

We are lea­ving at noon, sai­ling nor­thwards through the long Eyafjor­dur. Light rain show­ers are alter­na­ting with blue ski­es and hot suns­hi­ne, pro­du­cing a wide mix of tem­pe­ra­tu­re varia­ti­ons and light impres­si­ons, inclu­ding some love­ly rain­bows. Hump­back wha­les show their blows and flu­kes a cou­ple of times, while we are pas­sing small islands and har­bours, moun­ta­ins and waters­falls on our way to the north coast. Our desti­na­ti­on for today is Grims­ey, the nor­t­hern­most inha­bi­ted part of Ice­land, an island situa­ted direct­ly on the arc­tic cir­cle. The­re, we want to wait a day or so until the storm bet­ween Ice­land and Green­land has cal­med down.

Akurey­ri – 24th August 2019

Time is fly­ing – I just said good­bye to SY Arc­ti­ca II and her good peo­p­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and now I am alre­a­dy in Akurey­ri, north Ice­land, on board the sai­ling ship Anne-Mar­ga­re­tha (ger­man only). That is the beau­tiful ship that car­ri­ed us safe­ly through the wild waters of Ant­ar­c­ti­ca and Pata­go­nia in ear­ly 2018.

Akureyri - 24th August 2019

Gre­at times … and now we are about to set off for Green­land! In a cou­ple of hours, our small lot will have assem­bled on board, and tomor­row we will set sail. Bet­ter then today, we rather let this litt­le wind in Den­mark Strait pass through first … who needs a force 8 on the nose? 🙂

Recher­chefjord – Barents­burg – Lon­gye­ar­by­en – 20th/21th August 2019

After a late arri­val in Recher­chefjord and a cou­ple of hours res­t­ing time, we move out to explo­re the scenic land­scape. A group of hikers grabs the cram­pons and walk up the gla­cier Renard­breen. The fri­ends of the tun­dra make a walk along the coast and to the green tun­dra area, roun­ded off with a Zodiac tour into the lagoon of Recher­che­breen, whe­re small ice­bergs are drif­ting with the tidal cur­rent.

In the after­noon, we sail north along the west coast, to Isfjord. Soon the cir­cle is about to clo­se.

We reach Grønfjord and Barents­burg after a cou­ple of bum­py miles in the ent­rance of Isfjord and cele­bra­te our first mee­ting with civi­li­sa­ti­on with a beer in the Red Bear, the bar of the bre­wery. We save the com­pre­hen­si­ve town walk for the next day, when we are accom­pa­nied by the sun again :-;

Gal­lery – Recher­chefjord – Barents­burg – Lon­gye­ar­by­en – 20th/21th August 2019

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

The final miles, calm and sun­ny, of this ama­zing voya­ge take us along Coles­buk­ta, Gru­mant­by­en and Fuglef­jel­la, befo­re we go along­side in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. An unfor­gettable voya­ge is coming to an end. We round it off with a gui­ded histo­ry walk in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and a nice evening on board.

Big thanks to all of you who were on board Arc­ti­ca II on this tour for a gre­at and inte­res­t­ing trip with good spi­rits all the way through!

Hyt­te­vi­ka – 19th August 2019

Storm­buk­ta didn’t want to have us today. The com­bi­na­ti­on of strong low water and wind was no good.

Hyt­te­vi­ka tur­ned out to be the place for us today. And what a place! Stun­nin­gly beau­tiful west coast land­scape with sharp rocks, lush tun­dra and Wan­ny Woldstad’s gre­at hut.

And polar foxes. A who­le fami­ly. Playful, curious and hap­py.

Gal­lery – Hyt­te­vi­ka – 19th August 2019

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

Good that the young foxes do not yet know any­thing about the upco­ming win­ter.

We are now sai­ling into the mid­night­ly sun­set that isn’t yet real­ly a sun­set, hea­ding for Bell­sund.

Storfjord-Sør­kap­pøya – 18th August 2019

Today we are hea­ding across Storfjord to the south cape and the west coast. The wea­ther should be ide­al, accor­ding for the fore­cast. And it was ide­al. It does not get any bet­ter. Sun and flat­calm water. The skip­per can relax (see pho­to). Fin wha­les show­ed up a cou­ple of times.

The south cape (Sør­kapp), usual­ly good for many miles in rough waters around the shal­low and dan­ge­rous coast­li­nes, opens a door for us today. The wea­ther is so good that we can dare to go ashore on Sør­kap­pøya. This island („South cape island“) is the sou­thern­most part of Spits­ber­gen (save for Bear Island/Bjørnøya, far to the south in the Barents Sea).

Sør­kap­pøya looks like a flat and bor­ing island from the distance, but it isn’t when you get clo­ser. The struc­tures are ama­zing. Geo­me­tri­cal pat­terns of rai­sed beach rid­ges, many lagoons, walls of stee­p­ly dip­ping, hard lay­ers of sedi­ments full of fos­sils. The low sun casts red evening light over the who­le beau­ty of this exci­ting place, it almost tou­ch­es the hori­zon – actual­ly, the first sun­set after the mid­night sun peri­od will hap­pen here tomor­row (and a cou­ple of days later in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, fur­ther north).

Gal­lery – Storfjord-Sør­kap­pøya – 18th August 2019

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

Late at night, skip­per Peter impres­ses ever­y­bo­dy as he takes Arc­ti­ca II safe­ly through Mesund, a nar­row and shal­low pas­sa­ge north of Sør­kap­pøya. That saves us many miles and it gives us a stun­ning pas­sa­ge bet­ween many small islands and rocks, while the red sun is tou­ch­ing the moun­ta­ins of Sør­kapp Land.

Tjuv­fjord – 17th August 2019

Here in Tjuv­fjord we can enjoy the rare fee­ling to explo­re new waters and lands. Not too many peo­p­le have been here befo­re, and cer­tain­ly not too many tou­rists. This was a clas­si­cal hun­ting area during the years of the trap­pers.

We find a reason­ab­ly well shel­te­red landing site and hike over a wide-open, bar­ren coas­tal plain to the flat-top­ped mou­ta­ins that are stret­ching all the way along this coast. Vom one of the tops we have a gre­at pan­o­r­amic views over the who­le Storfjor­den. An ama­zing sce­n­ery, and seen only by few peo­p­le. The­re are ple­nty of reinde­er- and polar bear tracks on the low­land as well as on the moun­tain slo­pes, but no human foot­prints other than our own ones.

The lar­ge lagoon of Tjuv­fjord­lagu­na is our next desti­na­ti­on, but the­re, the coast is hid­den by a den­se belt of drift ice. Not a bad thing – we keep the drift ice next to us for a cou­ple of miles, until we are near Zieg­lerøya. See­ing this island in ice, with the moun­ta­ins of Edgeøya in the back­ground, is ama­zing. This area used to be famous hun­ting grounds for the trap­pers in times long gone by. The­re is still a hut built by Hen­ry Rudi, the „polar bear king“, on André­e­tan­gen, just behind the­se islands.

Gal­lery – Tjuv­fjord – 17th August 2019

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

We enjoy the love­ly pas­sa­ge in stun­ning evening light towards the migh­ty moun­tain Kval­pyn­ten – yesterday’s polar bear is still wal­king around on the slo­pes in exact­ly the same posi­ti­on – and then we anchor in Habe­nicht­buk­ta. Tomor­row we will sail towards the south cape. The wea­ther fore­cast appears to be per­fect. Fin­gers crossed it holds true.

Edgeøya – 16th August 2019

The day that brought a thick lay­er of snow to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, for the first time in mid-August in 30 years, didn’t exact­ly start with suns­hi­ne for us on Edgeøya eit­her. But that fit­ted the atmo­sphe­re well. After all, we are in the Arc­tic and not in the Car­ri­be­an.

Ins­tead of a hike on Edgeøya, we saw no less than three polar bears who wal­ked along the beach.

Later, we got our hike on Edgeøya, not far from Habe­nicht­buk­ta. Love­ly autumn colours in the tun­dra in warm suns­hi­ne!

Gal­lery – Edgeøya – 16th August 2019

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

In the evening we went around Kval­pyn­ten, a migh­ty moun­tain sti­cking out into the sea, into Tjuv­fjord.

Free­man­sund – 15th August 2019

The days are full and time is just fly­ing, some­ti­mes the blog just has to wait. The day yes­ter­day in Free­man­sund was a bit of a day!

Wide-open tun­dra on Barent­søya. Lar­ge val­leys with all the magic of the late-sum­mer tun­dra. Seve­ral thousand kit­ti­wa­kes and a curious polar fox.

Gal­lery – Free­man­sund – 15th August 2019

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

And eight polar bears.

Ice – 14th August 2019

Accor­ding to all available infor­ma­ti­on on wea­ther and ice, today should be our day for the ice. So we star­ted in the mor­ning towards the ice edge south of Nord­aus­t­land, whe­re we found all sorts of drift ice after a while … both beau­tiful ice­bergs and sea ice floes in all colours, shapes and sizes. Ama­zing! Ple­nty of harp seals were play­ing in the water, and even a rare Bowhead wha­le sur­faced for a pre­cious moment.

Gal­lery – Ice – 14th August 2019

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

Groun­ded shrimp traw­ler North­gui­der: sal­va­ging ope­ra­ti­on has star­ted

The shrimp traw­ler North­gui­der, which ran aground clo­se to Spar­ren­e­set on Nord­aus­t­land, south of Murch­ison­fjord, is still sit­ting on the rocks. The wreck is sup­po­sed to be remo­ved.

This ope­ra­ti­on has now begun: seve­ral spe­cial ships are now on loca­ti­on to get the North­gui­der off the rocks and away. The sea area around the wreck has been clo­sed for other traf­fic within one mile from the near­by shore to make sure the crews will not be dis­tur­bed during their work.

Bergung Krabbentrawler Northguider

Sal­va­ging ope­ra­ti­on – shrimp traw­ler North­gui­der

The crew of the North­gui­der could be saved after the groun­ding after seve­ral dra­ma­tic hours thanks to luck and the skill of the Nor­we­gi­an SAR forces who came with two heli­c­op­ters. Fin­gers crossed that the sal­va­ging ope­ra­ti­ons will be equal­ly suc­cessful!

Hin­lo­pen Strait – 13th August 2019

Nor­t­hern Hin­lo­pen tur­ned out to be rather unfri­end­ly today, regar­ding the wea­ther, so we took off and went south. Alkef­jel­let was the first place we visi­ted, this huge colo­ny of Brunich’s guil­l­emots that makes ever­y­bo­dy just speechl­ess.

Gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen Strait – 13th August 2019

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

The oppor­tu­ni­ty for a litt­le hike came on Von Otterøya. The wea­ther was bril­li­ant again and so were the views.

Skipper Peter working hard, fully concentrated during a difficult passage

Skip­per Peter working hard, ful­ly con­cen­tra­ted during a dif­fi­cult pas­sa­ge

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