fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  

Yearly Archives: 2019 − News & Stories

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

Nordaustland – 12th August 2019

The lagoon Claravågen on the Hinlopen-coast of Nordaustland is definitely a spot where you can anchor in peace and solitude: the approach uncharted, with shallows here and there, the entrance narrow, with strong tidal currents. Perfect for us on Arctica II.

The area is high arctic, barren and frost-beaten, with large ice wedges that look liked carved into the ground by giants with huge axes. A fascinating land! The weather fits the arctic atmosphere: cold, with wind and snow.

Gallery – Nordaustland – 12th August 2019

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

Later, we had a look at the old research station at Kinnvika in Murchisonfjord (Panos here).

On our way south, we passed Sparreneset, where the shrimp trawler Northguider is still sitting on the rocks near the shore.

Woodfjord-Sorgfjord – 11th August 2019

Small islands look from the distance often as if there was nothing to see. But when you have a chance to get close, then they often turn out to be little jewels of arctic nature. The tundra is rich due to fertilization by breeding birds over thousands of years. Eider ducks, arctic terns, grey phalaropes and purple sandpipers are living here. Waves and currents are turning sand and gravel into beautiful pieces of art.

Later, we pass the hut near Gråhuken, where Christiane Ritter wintered in 1934-35 (Ritter Hut). She wrote the book „A woman in the polar night“ about this adventure, which became quite famous.

We cross 80 degrees north under sail – twice, actually – before we reach Sorgfjord. The contrast of the barren polar-desert landscape at Eolusneset to the rich, colourful landscape and tundra of Woodfjord could hardly be more pronounced.

Gallery – Woodfjord-Sorgfjord – 11th August 2019

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

Finally, we make good use of wind and some diesel to get across Hinlopen Strait, to Nordaustland.

Woodfjord – 10 August 2019

Mushamna is a lovely natural harbour, which must have been made for sailing boats like the Arctica II. We made good use of the sheltered anchorage for a couple of calm hours during the night, and then we went for a good walk, of course. Moss campion, mountain sorrel and snow buttercup are still standing in full flower here.

The stunning red colour of the Old Red sandstone in inner Woodfjord did not show all of its beauty as it was quite overcast and grey as we went for our second landing further down in Woodfjord, but the colours are still amazing. The plastic on the beach was also amazing, in a way. We collected some of it. At least.

Gallery – Woodfjord – 10 August 2019

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

Later, on the way to the north, we saw a polar bear near the shore! He – or, probably, she – walked over the tundra, eating some vegetation here and there. Later he walked near us on the beach for a few precious moments, as we were at anchor again in Mushamna.

Raudfjord – 09 August 2019

Raudfjord is one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful fjords. Steep mountain cliffs and many glaciers on one side, less steep mountains and no glaciers at sea level on the other side.

We devoted the morning to the rugged west coast of Raudfjord and the afternoon to the more visitor-friendly east side, which leaves enough spaces to go for beautiful hikes. Again, a great day in the Arctic!

Gallery – Raudfjord – 09 August 2019

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

Northwest Spitsbergen – 08 August 2019

After the calm northwards passage to the north, interrupted by a late evening visit to a bird cliff on the west coast, we had a calm night at anchor in Magdalenefjord (here a small PanoTour). This stunningly beautiful fjord is a top tourist destination in Spitsbergen – remember, cruise ships started to visit this area regularly as early as in the late 19th century – but today, we happened to be the only boat in the area. So we made good use of the opportunity, enjoyed a sunny walk at Gravneset and a visit to the glacier, Waggonwaybreen.

As there was no wind and the sea completely calm, later we went for a rare visit of Hamburgbukta. Centuries ago, whalers from Hamburg followed their trade here; some of them never left, there is still a couple of graves here and there, covered by colourful carpets of lichens and mosses. A beautiful, silent and peaceful place.

Gallery – Northwest Spitsbergen – 08 August 2019

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

Some hours and glaciers later, we have reached a well-sheltered anchored in a scenic small bay in northwestern Spitsbergen. Another day gone – time is flying here!

Kongsfjord-Krossfjord – 07 August 2019

After a lovely, calm and sunny night in the harbour of Ny-Ålesund, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the airship mast where the famous airships Norge and Italia took of for their famous north pole flights in 1926 and 1928, respectively. It is easy to spend some time with telling stories during this short walk.

Gallery – Kongsfjord-Krossfjord – 07 August 2019

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

Later, we turn into Kongsfjord to enjoy the view of the large glaciers and the silence, which is frequently interrupted by the thunder of pieces of ice falling down from the glacier front. Then we move to Krossfjord for a late afternoon walk in Ebeltofthamna, where Kurt Wegener ran an observatory in 1912-1914. They did some great scientific work and even improvised a technique to measure the height of the northern lights!

Aavatsmarkbreen – Ny-Ålesund – 06. August 2019

We keep moving north in Forlandsund and go ashore to make a hike to a huge glacier called Aavatsmarkbreen. Here we find ourselves in a barren ice-age landscape with many polar bear tracks in the sand, pieces of glacier ice on the shore, meltwater rivers that we need to walk through and finally the big glacier with its impressive calving front. Torrential meltwater rivers are cascading down over rocks next to the glacier. A very impressive, beautiful landscape!

The onwards journey through Forlandsund is a bit bumpy – again, the weather forecast is not really impressive – until we turn into Kongsfjord a couple of hours later.

Gallery – Aavatsmarkbreen – Ny-Ålesund – 06. August 2019

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

In the evening, as we make a walk trough Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen’s northernmost settlement, the sun comes out again and casts beautiful evening light over the stunning mountain and glacier scenery.

Trygghamna-Poolepynten – 05 August 2019

The sun wakes us up after a calm night at anchor. We are surrounded by glaciers and high, rugged mountains. One of the mountains is less high and rugged than the other ones. Knuvlen, as it is called, is actually just 330 metres high. A piece of cake, as one might think. Nevertheless, the rocky terrain makes the ascent quite hard. But the view is a great reward!

Back on board, some of us jump into the sea to cool down after the hike. The sun is warm and high on the sky, and we enjoy lunch outside on deck.

Later, we have reached a walrus colony on Prins Karls Forland. Talk about right place and right time: some fog banks have shrouded the area with grey and mist. But the curtain goes up just as we drop the anchor. And to make things even better, the walrus are in great shape. A welcome comittee of three of these mighty seals comes curiously swimming very close towards us as we are standing silently on the beach. It is an amazing experience to be so close to these huge creatures! There is another group hauled out on the beach, not a large group, but quite active and beautifully placed in the evening sun, with a glacier in the background.

Gallery – Trygghamna-Poolepynten – 05 August 2019

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

Skipper Peter has dinner ready as we get back on board. What a day, what a life!

Longyearbyen-Bohemanneset – 04 August 2019

And again: welcome on board, we’ll hoist the sails again and set course for Spitsbergen! This time, on the smaller, beautiful yacht Arctica II, a real expedition boat, strong and sturdy. As soon as we have got everything done, we cast off and steer out into Isfjord. It is a wonderful start, with sunshine, no wind.

Considering the great conditions today, we make use of the opportunity to make a landing as soon as we can. I am pleased to get back to Bohemanneset. A beautiful place, but it is very exposed, so sometimes years go between visits. This time, we have been here just a good 3 weeks ago with Antigua. It is nice to start where we finished recently. In contrast to last time, it is really nice and calm now, so the landing operation is a piece of cake and we can just enjoy the beauty of the place. It was not far from here, at Rijpsburg, that Søren Zachariassen began an operation that is now usually considered the beginning of commercial coal mining in Spitsbergen. But it was not successful.

Gallery – Longyearbyen-Bohemanneset – 04 August 2019

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

Anyway, for us today, Bohemanneset is „just“ a beautiful and silent place. A great beginning of this new trip!

Later the same evening, we cruise for another 2 hours until we drop anchor in Trygghamna for a calm night, to get some good rest.


News-Listing live generated at 2020/September/23 at 01:16:31 Uhr (GMT+1)