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HomeArctic blog: Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen → With SV Anti­gua to the ice in Spits­ber­gen … or not

With SV Anti­gua to the ice in Spits­ber­gen … or not

Sunday, 30 May 2021, ear­ly after­noon – about 30 arc­tic tra­vel­lers would now board SV Anti­gua in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en and meet the crew and each other.

Not so today, for rea­sons that are not a secret. The trip does not hap­pen for the second time in a row, just as our lon­ger voya­ge in late June/July.

Nobo­dy will ever know what we are now mis­sing. That is the beau­ty of the­se trips: every trip is like the first one (well, almost), and even tho­se who have been around for some time in Spits­ber­gen don’t know what exact­ly will hap­pen. Any trip will bring expe­ri­en­ces that will sur­pri­se ever­y­bo­dy. You can never know whe­re you will end up, what the wea­ther will be like and whe­re you hap­pen to see the various sorts of wild­life.

Antigua, ice edge

With Anti­gua at the ice edge in Smee­ren­burgfjord, ear­ly June 2019.

It is not­hing we could catch up with later. Next year will be a new year, also 2022 will be only 12 mon­ths long and it will bring wha­te­ver it will bring, regard­less of what we may have mis­sed in 2021.

Just for fun, we can do what we always do befo­re any trip and have a look at the ice chart and wea­ther fore­cast. As you can see, the north coast of Spits­ber­gen is locked in behind den­se drift ice. In Storfjord, on the sou­the­ast side of Spits­ber­gen, the­re are, in con­trast, some wide fiel­ds of more open drift ice. It would have been an inte­res­ting idea to set cour­se for south and sou­the­ast Spits­ber­gen rather than to the north, whe­re you cur­r­ent­ly have open water and the sud­den­ly meet with an imp­ene­tra­ble ice edge. Spitsbergen’s sou­thern fjords are beau­ti­ful and the ice in the sou­the­ast is temp­t­ing. It is ama­zing to be on a sai­ling ship and have ice floes in all direc­tions around you.

Spitzbergen Eiskarte

Ice chart of Sval­bard. I’d love to see that on loca­ti­on
(Ice chart © Nor­we­gi­an Meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal Insti­tu­te).

The wea­ther is, of cour­se, ano­t­her important fac­tor. It would not have been a full week of blue ski­es and bright sunshi­ne, but a week of nor­mal arc­tic late spring/early sum­mer wea­ther, with a bit of ever­ything from blue to grey ski­es and anything that comes with it. The fore­cast is anything but reli­able. If you want to know what it’s like in Smee­ren­burgfjord or Horn­sund on Wed­nes­day, then you have to be in Smee­ren­burgfjord or Horn­sund on Wed­nes­day. As simp­le as that.

Spitsbergen weather forecast

Wea­ther fore­cast for Horn­sund. The­se fore­casts are anything but reli­able, but nevertheless an important plan­ning tool (© yr.no).

Sad­ly, we will not find out. About 40 peop­le (inclu­ding crew and gui­des) will miss an expe­ri­ence of a life­time. Plus, the­re is the eco­no­mi­c­al aspect for the ship owner, the Tall­ship Com­pa­ny, the tour ope­ra­tor, die Geo­gra­phi­sche Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft, and tho­se who are working on the ship. I hope they (this inclu­des me) get well through this peri­od and towards bet­ter times.

We’ve still got some hope for the trips later this sum­mer. If you want to tra­vel any­way, and cer­tain­ly if you want to tra­vel on a small ship in a remo­te area: make sure, if you can, to get that vac­ci­ne in time. And then: fin­gers cros­sed.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2021-05-30 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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