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Yearly Archives: 2019 − News & Stories

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

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.


News-Listing live generated at 2019/September/19 at 07:18:17 Uhr (GMT+1)