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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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