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Yearly Archives: 2019 − Travelblog

Kabelvåg, Svolvær & Laukvik

We spend the morning in Kabelvåg, the former “capital” of Lofoten, a powerful place for centuries until it lost its importance in recent history. But it is still a lovely place with an interesting saltwater aquarium and an equally interesting history museum. The richness and the power of the merchants next to the poverty of the fishermen. A strong contrast.

Gallery – Kabelvåg, Svolvær & Laukvik

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The hike to Svolvær was both lovely (regarding scenery) and wet (regarding terrain). Those who stayed on board of SV Antigua for the short passage to Svolvær had some more time to explore the modern-day capital of Lofoten before we visited the northern light centre in Laukvik in the evening.

Trollfjord – Skrova

Trollfjord is one of the most famous places in Lofoten. It is so easily acceessible by ship and the landscape is stunning.

And it still is even if you don’t see all of it. The mountain peaks were hidden in clouds. But we saw actually more of Trollfjorden than we had expected … and then, we could even set some sails!

Gallery – Trollfjord – Skrova

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Later we entered the little harbour of Skrova, a small island far north in Vestfjord that belongs to Lofoten. Lovely harbour. Lovely scenery. Lovely walks. Lovely hiking. Lovely BBQ by Sascha and his team. Weather – less lovely, mostly. But we even got some northern lights later that evening. Lovely.

Skarberget & Tranøy

We are a good bit further south and now we are in the Lofoten area. Not yet Lofoten proper, but we could see them from here if it was clear. “Here” is Tysfjord, a large, beautiful fjord that is cutting into Norway opposite of the northern Lofoten islands.

You can make lovely hikes in this area. We opt for Skarberget. Weather-wise, it took a bit of motivation, but then … it is great as soon as you are out there, with snow and fresh wind! The views are not quite as amazing as they might be on a clear day, though.

Gallery – Skarberget & Tranøy

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Later we move over to Tranøy. Again some amazing maneouvring by Mario to get alongside in this tiny littl port. The art park of Tranøy is waiting for us! Who cares about cold, darkness and rain if you can go out and see various pieces of art!

Yes, the weather. Could be better.

Skrolsvik & Harstad

We arrive at Skrolsvik on the southwestern point of Senja at breakfast time. Sun and snow are bathing the landscape in ever-changing winter light.

You can do everything from short walks to mountain climbing here. We are happy with a good walk up a mountain slope or an easy walk following a path to the coast. There are also some fortifications here which the Germans built during the war.

The owners of the old store („Gammelbutikken“) are so kind to open especially for us. The lovely wooden building was built in 1870 and it served as the local store for all kinds of daily use stuff from 1925 to 1992. Now it is kept as kind of a museum. And you can still buy all sorts of lovely things here.

Gallery – Skrolsvik and Harstad

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Then we continue to Harstad on the island of Hinnøya which belongs to Vesterålen. The Germans (again …) put up some crazy guns and fortifications here during the war. The historical museum and the medieval church are unfortunately closed today.

Skjervøy, Nord-Lenangen

We departed late night from Finnkroken and set course to the northeast, to Skjervøy, with high hopes to find orca that had been seen there recently. But the weather had different ideas. It did not make much sense to try to find whales in force 6-7 winds, so we just turned and set sail, which was lovely in the snow …

Gallery – Tromsø – Finnkroken

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… and a couple of hourse later we were in Nord-Lenangen, a calm little place in a silent fjord – lovely winter scenery and atmosphere!

Later, back on board, we got into the northern light mode and made preparations for further sightings by having a look at the photography side of it (if you are interested, then have a look at Rolf’s northern light page for a refresher). Then we set course to the south, passing Tromsø, and then heading for Senja.


A lovely early winter day in Tromsø, on 70 degrees north – cold and clear, calm and sunny.

Everybody is coming on board SV Antigua in the late afternoon. It feels like late evening, but it is really just the late afternoon – sunset just after 15.00 hours and it is kind of getting dark an hour later.

But the lights up there are turned on again. First class northern lights! We enjoy the magic in the harbour, with the lights above the long bridge and the famous cathedral, and during the first miles of our voyage.

We go alongside after two hours sailing in Finnkroken on the island of Reinøya. A tiny little pier and the chance for an evening walk and to put the tripod up on solid ground – the northern light show is still going on.

Gallery – Tromsø – Finnkroken

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We get a very warm welcome. What a pleasant surprise! There are indeed people here who do not mind to see tourists! Jo Martin is one of a dozen people who are living here (is it really that many?). He is the owner of an old trading post next to the pier. It was founded in 1802 and it is really a bit of a time capsule! At the same time, there is a path into the wood which is marked by torches, so we can easily find the way to a lavvo (large tent) which is heated by a fire inside – while the northern lights are dancing on the sky! How good is that!? Incredible! What a great start into the voyage!

Tromsø – 26th October, 2019

The polar night is about to start – the last sunset and sunrise in Longyearbyen are today. In Tromsø, we are about to start again, exploring the north under sail with SV Antigua. The light of the north, northern lights, beautiful landscapes and places with a taste of winter, orcas – that is a substantial part of our wishlist for the next week.

But now, there is still time to get a few things done here in Tromsø. New Spitsbergen driftwood picture frames and kitchen slats need to get on their way (I thought I may just mention that 🙂 ), I want to meet some friends and in the evening, there are some impressive fireworks on the night sky!

Gallery – Tromsø – 26th October 2019

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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

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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

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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.


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