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Yearly Archives: 2019 − News & Stories


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

Hall Bred­ning – 5th Sep­tem­ber 2019

It is an ear­ly start into the day. Well, actual­ly it was even ear­lier than that. The nort­hern light. And then, a few hours later, the alarm went. We have a lot of miles ahead of us. Soon we are on our way. And get a stun­ning sun­ri­se abo­ve the rug­ged islands of Bjør­neøer­ne. And a very atmo­s­phe­ric morning mist.

The idea was to make the distance to Itto­q­qor­toor­mi­it (Scores­by­sund vil­la­ge) today to make a visit to this nort­hern one of only two com­mu­nities in east Green­land tomor­row. But after a look at the latest wea­ther fore­cast we deci­ded to set cour­se for the open sea and Ice­land strai­gh­ta­way. It will be good to get into a har­bour the­re befo­re the next storm hits the area of our open sea pas­sa­ge. We do still have a chan­ce to make it in time and we don’t want to miss it. Fin­gers cros­sed.

Gal­le­ry – Hall Bred­ning – 5th Sep­tem­ber 2019

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

The pas­sa­ge through Hall Bred­ning, as the lar­ge, wide-open cen­tral part of Scores­by­sund is cal­led, is stun­ning. Mir­ror-flat water, sun, blue sky and ice­bergs. We put the Zodiac on the water once again to cir­cle around an espe­cial­ly beau­ti­ful one. A lovely way to say good­bye to Green­land. For this time.

It is still lovely and cosy. I am curious what the next two days bring. It might not be this calm all the way through.

Øfjord – Bjør­neøer­ne – 4th Sep­tem­ber 2019

The Øfjord („Island fjord“) con­nects the inner­most bran­ches of the Scores­byund such as Harefjord with the lar­ge, more open part in the midd­le known as Hall Bred­ning. It is, out of the three fjords around Mil­ne Land, the one with the gran­dest sce­ne­ry: five to seven kilo­me­tres from shore to shore, the waters in many pla­ces more than 1000 metres deep, sur­roun­ded by steep moun­tains up to more than 2000 metres high. One ver­ti­cal tower of gneiss and gra­ni­te next to the other one, wild, uncoun­ted and most cer­tain­ly unclim­bed, most of them, with high, ver­ti­cal walls. And just by the way, the land­s­cape whe­re we are hap­pi­ly moving through under sun and sail was once the deep-sea­ted root of a moun­tain ran­ge of the distant geo­lo­gi­cal past.

Gal­le­ry – Øfjord – Bjør­neøer­ne – 4th Sep­tem­ber 2019

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

We find a lovely ancho­ra­ge in Jyt­tes Havn in the islands of Bjør­neøer­ne. Soon we are on our way, hiking up one of the rocky hills to enjoy a stun­ning pan­ora­ma view.

The night is not as calm as we had anti­ci­pa­ted, but we are hap­py to accept the inter­rup­ti­on cau­sed by a lovely dis­play of nort­hern lights.

Harefjord – 3rd Sep­tem­ber 2019

As men­tio­ned, the­re are not too many good ancho­ra­ges in many parts of Green­land, aber the­re are some. We spent a calm night in a small bay in Harefjord, one of Scoresbysund’s inner bran­ches.

The inland ice is not far from here, so we wan­ted to get as clo­se as we could. It does not have to be a cros­sing of the inland ice. If that is real­ly what you want is a ques­ti­on that ever­yo­ne has his or her own ans­wer for. Per­so­nal­ly, I appre­cia­te the varie­ty and the beau­ty of the fjord land­s­capes. Such as here, in Harefjord. Musk oxen here and the­re on the slo­pes. We climb a ridge and a morai­ne to find our­sel­ves sit­ting abo­ve a crev­as­sed gla­cier. Stun­ning views of an ama­zing land­s­cape. This is as clo­se to the inland ice as we can get here and now. We are more than hap­py with this.

Gal­le­ry – Harefjord – 3rd Sep­tem­ber 2019

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

The­re are beau­ti­ful hills and moun­tains ever­y­whe­re here, and you can walk or climb as far and as high as you wish, can and have time. Time is not unli­mi­ted for us, but we have enough for abso­lute­ly stun­ning views of Harefjord and suroun­dings.

Rødefjord – 2nd Sep­tem­ber 2019

Well, last night’s ancho­ra­ge in inner­most Fønfjord was not exact­ly gre­at. The sea bot­tom was slo­ping stee­ply to gre­at depth near the shore. No sur­pri­se the anchor was sli­ding down after a few hours. A typi­cal Green­land phe­no­me­non that finis­hed this night’s sleep for us.

Which tur­ned out to be a good thing. The day star­ted with a beau­ti­ful sun­ri­se, which most would have mis­sed other­wi­se. A stun­ning start into a gol­den Green­land late sum­mer day! And we got several hours extra. We had made our first walk on the bright yel­low and red tun­dra in Rødefjord alrea­dy befo­re bre­ak­fast.

The ice­bergs that are groun­ded near Røde Ø are world class. Sce­ne­ry-wise, Green­land is second to not­hing.

Gal­le­ry – Rødefjord – 2nd Sep­tem­ber 2019

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

We con­ti­nued nor­thwards in the ama­zin­gly sce­nic Rødefjord with its inten­se red­dish colours on the west side and steep islands like Sor­te Ø and Store Ø on the east side. Lar­ge ice­bergs are drif­ting ever­y­whe­re in the mir­ror-calm water, occa­sio­nal­ly one rolls over or falls apart. A stun­ning pan­ora­ma. We spend hours sit­ting silent­ly on deck, just enjoy­ing. Speech­less­ly.

Final­ly we reach one of few good ancho­ra­ges in this area in Harefjord. Soon two shore­li­nes are out, so it should be a calm night – unless nort­hern lights would inter­rupt our sleep, which would be qui­te ok we enjoy the beau­ti­ful evening light on a litt­le hill just abo­ve the anchor bay and call it a day.

Dan­mark Ø – 01st Sep­tem­ber 2019

We reached Hek­la Havn last night, a beau­ti­ful natu­ral har­bour on Dan­mark Ø, whe­re we secu­red Anne-Mar­ga­re­tha with a sophisti­ca­ted arran­ge­ment of shore­li­nes per­fect­ly well so we did not even need to keep anchor watch. Not a bad thing, a full night of sleep, just for a chan­ge, as we could all easi­ly agree on.

Next morning, we went out by Zodiac. On an incon­spi­cuous ter­race abo­ve the shore, we found remains of an inu­it sett­le­ment. A who­le row of win­ter houses indi­ca­ting a lar­ge sett­le­ment for pre-Danish Green­lan­dic stan­dards. Almost a big city. With excel­lent views over the fjord.

You can find some of Scoresbysund’s most beau­ti­ful gneis­ses around Hek­la Havn. Stun­ning colours and struc­tures that nobo­dy could think of, this is some­thing just natu­re can crea­te.

Gal­le­ry – Dan­mark Ø – 01st Sep­tem­ber 2019

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

If you look clo­se­ly, you can still see whe­re Ryder’s expe­di­ti­on had their win­te­ring base in 1891-92. They were the first Euro­peans who dis­co­ve­r­ed and map­ped Scoresbysund’s inner reaches. Without Ryder, may­be we wouldn’t know today that all the­se beau­ti­ful pla­ces exist, Fønfjord, Rødefjord, Øfjord and so on …

So we enjoy­ed a per­fect­ly good Green­lan­dic morning on Dan­mark Ø and then we con­ti­nued our voya­ge into Fønfjord, aiming for the inner­most bran­ches of the huge Scores­by­sund.

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.

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