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Home* Triplogs with photo galleriesArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → Spitsbergen with Antigua – some thoughts

Spitsbergen with Antigua – some thoughts

Normally, on this site I write and publish articles and blog posts about things that have actually happened, and I try to keep it mostly in unemotional style. But the world isn’t normal these days, so this article/blog/whatever is a bit different.

It is about something that does not happen and it is latently emotional.

Yesterday, on 09 July, we would have boarded good old SV Antigua in Longyearbyen. About 30 passengers, probably quite excited, in good spirits and with high hopes and expectations. Ten crew: the Captain (probably Robert), mates, deckhand, galley and service, three guides – Alex, Kristina and me. Everybody had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time already, until the whole thing fell victim to the corona virus, as so much this weird year. 19 beautiful days in Spitsbergen – gone. Not just any kind of days. Spitsbergen under sail, that is always special, intense and rich with all sorts of experiences. On every trip, we see and experience stuff where I think “wow, how amazing is that …” and that is after almost 25 years of travelling Spitsbergen.

Antigua, Spitzbergen

Spitsbergen with Antigua: would have started yesterday (9 July).

Nobody will ever know what we will actually have missed this summer on this trip and others that don’t happen now. But of course it is possible to dream and guess a bit. Let’s try to take it a little step up onto an informed level. As always, it starts with a look at weather forecast and icechart:

Marine weather forecast Spitsbergen

Marine weather forecast for Saturday (12 July).

Today (Friday), there would still have been a fair bit of wind on the west coast. Maybe not great for a first day on a ship, but it should be calm in Isfjord, albeit possibly a bit wet, at least during Friday night and Saturday early morning. I think we might have well spent our first day in there. There are so many fjords with an endless number of beautiful places there. Tempelfjord, Billefjord, Nordfjord with Ekmanfjord, Coraholmen and so on, Bohemanflya, … just to mention a few (click on the links for a bit of online travelling). The list is endless.

On Saturday, the wind on the west coast is supposed to turn south. I guess then we might have left Isfjord to set sail and a northerly course with fine sailing wind. The forecast indicates calm weather for a couple of days next week in the north, and then it is just a wonderful world to explore.

Marine weather forecast Spitsbergen

Marine weather forecast for Sunday (12 July).

And now a quick look at the ice chart, which is really an interesting one now. There is still a lot of drift ice in the east and northeast and many of the fjords, especially on Nordaustland, are still frozen solid. As it looks now, this trip would not have been a circumnavigation. This is, in times of climate change, not common for a trip that starts near mid July, but obviously not impossible. Of course it would have been exciting just to go and check it out, but it is also interesting to keep checking the ice chart every once in a while during the next couple of weeks and see what happens.

Eiskarte Spitzbergen

Ice chart Spitsbergen as of 09 July (© Norwegian Meteorological Institute).

But then, have a good look at, say, Liefdefjord and Woodfjord! Open – probably mostly navigable, in other words – drift ice, with some larger ice fields, such as the yellow dot close to Reinsdyrflya, and solid (“fast”) ice in inner Woodfjord! We could certainly have spent a couple of great days there. And then on to Nordaustland and Hinlopen. The combination of drift ice, stunning scenery and a lot of wildlife, from guillemots to walrus, polar bears and probably whales would most likely have made for some unforgettable experiences.

Isfjord

Who knows what we might have done and seen the first day(s) in Isfjord? Just a few impressions from previous years. Could have been something like this. Or something completely different.

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

Forlandsund

We spent quite a bit of time in Forlandsund last year, as those who were there will remember with no regrets 😉 all the Forlandsund pictures are from 2019.

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

Woodfjord and Liefdefjord

Just a few possible impressions as we might have met them now in Woodfjord and Liefdefjord. And Spitsbergen’s north coast is, of course, much more than “just” that. There is also the Raudfjord, Wijdefjord, Sorgfjord … oh, well …

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

A lot of “might have” and “would” and so on. It is currently nothing but imagination and dreams. Unseen, not experienced, not lived. The 40 polar enthusiasts that should have met on a sailing ship to explore the far north, to share the excitment and fascination, will never meet in this combination. Sad.

So, fingers crossed that we will meet next year or in 2022 in Spitsbergen, or elsewhere between the north pole and the south pole!

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last modification: 2020-07-10 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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