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Home → September, 2019

Monthly Archives: September 2019 − News & Stories

Billefjord – 28th September 2019

Billefjord is one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful fjords, if you ask me. Here, we had the opportunity to go for a hike and to cruise along Nordenskiöldbreen. Also hoping to find a polar bear that might be a bit closer than the one in Liefdefjord a few days ago. This did not happen, but belugas showed up, and the stunning scenery … a perfectly fine morning!

Gallery – Billefjord – 28th September 2019

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

The last landing was on Gipshuksletta, on the corner between Billefjord and Sassenfjord/Tempelfjord. Stunning arctic winter landscape in the light that you only have a few weeks before the onset of the polar night. A silent goodbye to Spitsbergen’s nature – for this time.

Barentsburg – 27th September 2019

Sometimes it is better to adjust plans to reality, which is: the weather: this little autumn storm had not been in yesterday’s forecast, but it was clearly blowing through Isfjord today. We reached the harbour of Barentsburg in time and that was the perfect place to be on such a day with a lot of wind and poor visibility. The latter increased during the afternoon, so those who were keen on some hiking could actually take off in the afternoon. The foxes came out and played, the sauna was hot, while snow was drifting outside …

Gallery – Barentsburg – 27th September 2019

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Sallyhamna – Fuglefjord – 26th September 2019

Again a calm night, in a small bay in northwest Spitsbergen. The day starts with a glacier view and mirror images on the water.

Sallyhamna is not a big place – not a lot of space for easy walking, that is – but beautiful. Scenery, Waldemar Kræmer’s old hut, blubber ovens and graves from the whaling years.

Later we get stunned by the large and pretty active Svitjodbreen in Fuglefjord. And by a bearded seal that is resting on a bit of ice.

Gallery – Sallyhamna – Fuglefjord – 26th September 2019

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

Then it is time to leave the fjords in the north behind. We have more than 120 miles to cover to Isfjord. By now it is anyway grey and wet outside, but good sailing weather, with light northerly winds.

(Vesle) Raudfjord – 25th September 2019

Vesle („little“) Raudfjord ist east of the „real“ Raudfjord. A beautiful lagoon landscape where you can hike in various directions as far as you want to. Also here: plastic on the beaches. Now, at least, several bags less than before.

The world disappears in fog bags while we sail around Biskayarhuken, but it clears up again as soon as we enter Raudfjord. Liquid gold comes through holes in the clouds and covers some of the sharp peaks and glaciers.

Gallery – (Vesle) Raudfjord – 25th September 2019

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Carrfjellet is only 154 metres high, but the view is stunning.

Liefdefjord – 24th September 2019

Monacobreen is currently advancing, the western part of its front has pushed forward at least a kilometre. The glacier is accordingly very productive. At times inner Liefdefjord was completely filled up with glacier ice, almost or actually impassable. Also today there was a lot of glacier ice floating in the water. Very impressive, even on a grey morning.

Andøyane offer a great scenic contrast. Lovely scenery, colourful lichens, beautifully curved coastlines. And, sadly, a lot of plastic litter on the beaches. For bags less now, after our visit.

Gallery – Liefdefjord – 24th September 2019

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Later we saw a polar bear that captain Robert had seen on Reinsdyrflya. Quite distant. A rather skinny bear. It was tempting to leave a pile of butter on the beach. But no, we don’t do that. It is not allowed. But it is allowed to feel empathy.

Woodfjord – 23rd September 2019

Anchoring in Mushamna turned out to be an interesting project last night. The lagoon was already frozen solid, so we preferred to stay outside. Beautiful evening- and moonlight!

Gallery – Woodfjord – 23rd September 2019

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Next morning we went and explored the beautiful winter landscape at Mushamna. Snow and sun! Inner Woodfjord, later, was in contrast to that quite windy, so we rather went into Bockfjord for an afternoon walk in the snowy tundra. It was cloudy now, a completely different mood. A landscape like carved in stone. Well, that’s what it is.

Northwest Spitsbergen – 22nd September 2019

Weather-wise, today is our chance to sail up to the north coast. So we start early from Ny-Ålesund and spend the morning moving north along the west coast. It is clearing up in Smeerenburgfjord, getting really beautiful, so we dive deep into polar history in Virgohamna. Harbour seals are lying on stones, and a quite large herd of walruses is enjoying life in the snow in Smeerenburg. It is quite cold, and there is a smell of winter in the air.

Gallery – Northwest Spitsbergen – 22nd September 2019

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Kongsfjord – 21st September 2019

It is a great start into the day, waking up with the noise of a thundering glacier. We are anchored near Blomstrandbreen.

Blomstrandhalvøya is the theme of the day. The choice is either a walk closer to sea level or a crossing of the island including the highest „peaks“ reaching 385 metres above sea level. Not Mount Everest, but absolutely enough for some stunning views of Kongsfjord. Back to the ship along the old mining place Marble Island / Ny London. We are a bit late, but it is worth spending every minute outside on such a golden September day.

The small islands of Lovénøyane are bird reserves, it is not allowed to visit them during the summer. But all breeding birds are gone now and we can visit legally. These small islands are treasure chests of arctic nature. Thousands of years of intense fertilising have created a thick carpet of moss tundra. Ice on the beaches and harbour seals nearby, two reindeer, many large erratic boulders, beautiful scenery everywhere around us. Silence.

Gallery – Kongsfjord – 21st September 2019

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In Ny-Ålesund they kindly open Kongsfjordbutikken for us Saturday evening. I think it was worth the effort for all involved. Our town walk and the little walk to Amundsen’s airship mast turned out to be late evening excursions. The sun went down at 19:39.

Krossfjord – 20th September 2019

The last evening was very beautiful, with red evening light and the moon above the mountains. This morning it was … a bit bumpy. Northern wind in Forlandsund. Not so great.

Well, we were in calm waters again in Krossfjord a few hours later, where we made our first walk in arctic wilderness in Signehamna. Ice on the shore, polar foxes, reindeer, frost patterned ground, remains of a German war weather station.

Gallery – Krossfjord – 20th September 2019

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The glacier in Tinaybukta was pretty active and noisy. Later we went to yet another glacier, hidden behind a huge moraine. We could easily enter a huge mouline from the bottom end, something that is quite unusual.

Isfjord – 18th September 2019

Back in Spitsbergen – home, sweet home 🙂 this rapid change from one world to the next one – Greenland, Iceland, Germany, Spitsbergen in just a few days – is quite crazy … the first impression of Spitsbergen from an altitude of 30,000 feet: the glacier bridge between Hornsund and the east coast. Shrinking. Heavily.

Galerie – Isfjord – 18th September 2019

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Now we are moving at sea level, on good old Antigua. Looking forward to 10 beautiful days in Spitsbergen!

Polar bears near Longyearbyen

There have been regular polar bear sightings in Isfjord during the whole summer, both on the north side, from Trygghamna to Ymerbukta and Borebukta, in Billefjord near Pyramiden, but also near Longyearbyen.

This is an ongoing situation: there have been several bear sightings recently not far from Longyearbyen, in Colesdalen, Bjørndalen and Mälardalen. The bear(s) in Colesdalen and Bjørndalen may be one and the same individual, but the one seen in Mälardalen, on the north side of Adventdalen and just a few kilometres away from the settlement and road, is another individual.

On Monday (16 September), a man had to fire a shot from inside a hut at Diabasodden, about 20 kilometres northeast of Longyearbyen, to scare a polar bear away. This worked well and then the Sysselmannen picked the man up by helicopter to avoid further risks.

All this shows that it is very important to take the risk of meeting polar bears very seriously, also in Longyearbyen’s near surroundings.

Polar bear in Hiorthhamn near Longyearbyen

Polar bear in Hiorthhamn close to Longyearbyen (archive image).

The local newspaper Svalbardposten has a little survey every week and this time they asked what people think about the increasing number of polar bear sightings near Longyearbyen. So far 790 people have given their vote, which is a lot for the Svalbardposten gallup. 500 voted for “we live on Svalbard so we have to adjust”, but no less than 241 chose “it is time to discuss hunting polar bears again”. These surveys are not representative and certainly sometimes the questions and the given answers show an element of humour and satire, something that may also be true for the votes that people give. This may explain at least some of the many votes that ask for discussing polar bear hunting again.

Polar bears were hunted intensely in Svalbard until 1973. The recent increase in numbers is, at least in part, still a recovery from those years when hunting polar bears was an industry.

Double calendar Spitsbergen & Antarctica 2020

The new Spitsbergen calendar 2020 is available now – for the first time, as a “2 in 1” double calendar. We just used the rear sides of the calendar pages that used to be white with older editions. So now we have, additionally to the 12 Spitsbergen images, another 12 stunning images which represent the other cold end of the globe: Antarctica.

Still, we have been able to keep the price stable. And as before, the double calendar “Spitsbergen & Antarctica 2020” is available in two sizes: the larger A3 format features prominently on the wall, while the smaller A5 is … well: smaller.

For further details or ordering, please visit our online shop (click here).

Dalvik – Akureyri – 08th September 2019

A ship that is not rocking and rolling during the night is not a bad thing, actually. Also nobody getting ready for his watch at 4 a.m. and no sails being adjusted in the middle of the night benefits a good sleep. Not bad. Sunday morning breakfast at 9 a.m., everybody seated around one table for the first time since Greenland.

The first thing we wanted was a little walk. There is a small nature reserve next to Dalvik. A nice river landscape with wetlands and associated birdlife.

The Café in Dalvik is definitely worth a visit 🙂

Gallery – Dalvik – Akureyri – 08th September 2019

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Now it is a calm, scenic passage of few hours to Akureyri, with some humpback whales on the way. And the waterfall opposite of Akureyri that is pretty unique: it is artificial and geothermal. The story is that it was suddenly there when they built the tunnel.

Then we are suddenly alongside in Akureyri. An amazing voyage has come to an end. Big thanks to all of you who were part of it, first of all to skipper and boat owner Heinz and his good crew and ship!

Denmark Strait – 06th/07th September 2019

The timing of our departure from Greenland was good. After a few initial hours with some more wind and sea, it calmed down considerable and it has been a reasonably smooth crossing so far. Almost no wind yesterday, just some swell. Today the wind started to blow again, but we are still making 5-6 knots speed. Not record-breaking, but reasonable. We have already passed the latitude of Kolbeinsey and we expect to reach Iceland tonight.

Maritime everyday life until then: shifts on the wheel, mealtimes, time to read, sleep, …

Photo – Denmark Strait – 06th/07th September 2019

Denmark Strait - 06th/07th September 2019

The Denmark Strait turned out to be a bumpy road today. But we got a lovely sunset at sea. Now we are entering coastal waters and later tonight we will go alongside in Dalvik, a little harbour in Eyafjordur, north of Akureyri.

Passenger ship Malmö stuck in ice

Malmö in the ice There are 35 % less ice in the whole Arctic Ocean than usual (a term that will most likely have to be re-defined soon), but in Svalbard, ice conditions are more as they used to be in earlier years. This means that northeastern parts of Nordaustland did not become ice-free at all this summer, and there is drift ice in southern Hinlopen Strait and south of Nordaustland.

The small passenger ship Malmö got stuck in drift ice in southern Hinlopen Strait. The ship is strongly built and can tolerate some ice, but the situation became potentially dangerous when currents moved the ice field towards shallow waters in the area of Rønnbeckøyane, a group of small islands in southern Hinlopen. There were 23 persons on board, including 16 passengers. The Sysselmannen decided to evacuate the passengers by helicoper. The crew could remain on board to take care of the vessel as there was no immediate danger. It is expected that the crew can navigate the ship out of the ice with the shifting tides, something that usually involves openings in the ice. The Norwegian coast guard is in the area to assist as needed.

drift ice in the arctic summer of 2019 – Photo on the subject of Malmö in the ice

drift ice in the arctic

News-Listing live generated at 2021/March/07 at 17:03:36 Uhr (GMT+1)