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Home → August, 2019

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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


News-Listing live generated at 2021/March/03 at 11:15:45 Uhr (GMT+1)