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Home → August, 2021

Monthly Archives: August 2021 − News & Stories


Kross­fjord – 30th August 2021

After a cou­ple of days in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – too short, as always – we are now on the move again. This time, we have set sail on SV Anti­gua. Final­ly! It has been far too long sin­ce the last time. We are out now for 11 days with an inter­na­tio­nal group.

Actual­ly, I thought to slow down a bit with the blog but I can’t help but send a small handfull of pic­tures after a day as beau­tiful as this first full one out here! From the first steps ashore in Sig­ne­ham­na it was not far to our first polar bear, some­thing we didn’t real­ly expect in Kross­fjord, but well, you can meet them any­whe­re and at any time, as simp­le as that.

Lil­lie­höök­breen is a dra­ma­ti­cal­ly sad view now in 2021. Sin­ce 1906, it has lost some­thing near 50 % of its ice volu­me! A dra­stic exam­p­le of the chan­ges that are now hap­pe­ning in the Arc­tic. Nevert­hel­ess, still a stun­nin­gly beau­tiful place. We have to ack­now­ledge one aspect while we may still enjoy the other.

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

100 years Sval­bard church

On Satur­day, 28 August, Sval­bard Church cele­bra­ted 100 years. The first church was built in a very short time in 1921 and it was sanc­ti­fied on 28 August 1921, but it was des­troy­ed during a Ger­man attack in 1943. Work to build a new church was star­ted in 1956, but it was not befo­re 1958 that the new buil­ding could be sanc­ti­fied. Con­s­truc­tion work is curr­ent­ly done to ensu­re a long and strong future life for today’s church.

100 years Svalbard church

The ser­vice to cele­bra­te 100 years of Sval­bard Church was held on the place whe­re the ori­gi­nal church was built in 1921.

Yesterday’s ser­vice that cele­bra­ted 100 years of Sval­bard Church was held in the loca­ti­on of the first, ori­gi­nal church from 1921 by priest Siv Lim­strand tog­e­ther with the pro­tes­tan­tic and the catho­lic bishops from Trom­sø. The parish includes the who­le muni­ci­pa­li­ty of Sval­bard. The­re is no other church. Barents­burg has a cha­pel.

Bell­sund & Isfjord

Now we are back in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, many of our litt­le crowd are alre­a­dy back home or just about to get the­re. Yes­ter­day at this time, this trip was alre­a­dy histo­ry. Incre­di­ble how quick­ly 18 inten­se days can pass!

This voya­ge was spe­cial in many way. Not only becau­se it was the first time that we got to sail again in Spits­ber­gen in almost 2 years. But it was real­ly – yes, real­ly! – a spe­cial expe­ri­ence. Many landings, quite a few of them in unu­su­al places such as Tokros­søya, have con­tri­bu­ted to that, as well as the ama­zing wild­life.

But the­re are also the peo­p­le. All souls on board have con­tri­bu­ted to make it work so well and to always keep the spi­rits high. I want to men­ti­on espe­ci­al­ly my col­le­ague Hel­ga Rüt­ten and skip­per Hein­rich Eggen­fell­ner, the owner of Arc­ti­ca II, who has navi­ga­ted us so enjoya­b­ly and always safe­ly through this adven­ture.

To round it up, some impres­si­ons of the last cou­ple of days. In Bell­sund, we saw Spits­ber­gen from a more grey and win­dy side, just for a chan­ge. Still, beau­tiful, and we did inde­ed sail a cou­ple of miles wit­hout the engi­ne 🙂

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

We wrap­ped it off in Isfjord. You have to have seen one of the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments such as Barents­burg to have kind of a com­ple­te impres­si­on of Spits­ber­gen. And then we said fare­well and good­bye for this time to the arc­tic natu­re at Kapp Lai­la.

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

Bell­sund – 23rd & 24th August 2021

Bell­sund – 23rd & 24th August 2021 We had almost for­got­ten that it can actual­ly be win­dy in Spits­ber­gen. Fleur de Lys­ham­na offe­red enough shel­ter to go for a hike, but later the boots could dry and the sails were put into good use. A walk over a litt­le island roun­ded the day off.

The next one star­ted with a moun­tain hike, which, howe­ver, did not yield the views that it could have, due to the clouds that just didn’t want to lift. Nevert­hel­ess, it was a fine walk. And the polar bear that had deci­ded to have a nap at our landing site took off and went away just in time. It even left some rub­ber boots untouch­ed that we had park­ed the­re. Very fri­end­ly!

Horn­sund – 22nd August 2021

A love­ly hike fol­lo­wing a ridge along a pen­in­su­la gave us stun­ning views of the who­le Horn­sund, later fol­lo­wed by a crui­se in Bur­ger­buk­ta with a lot of ice­bergs.

The fine wea­ther con­di­ti­ons made it pos­si­ble to make a rare landing on Dunøya­ne on the west coast.

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

South Cape – 21st August 2021

The south cape can alway be a nasty area. Well, it is not Cape Hoorn, but it is a com­ple­te­ly expo­sed, long pas­sa­ge in seas that can often be rough. We had been kee­ping an eye on the wea­ther report for days, and this paid off today as we had the cal­mest pas­sa­ge that you can pos­si­bly ima­gi­ne! We were able to take a short­cut through a pas­sa­ge bet­ween the shal­lows and islands that saved us many miles, and we were even able to make a landing on Tokros­søya. Ama­zing!

We still arri­ved Horn­sund ear­ly enough for a litt­le evening landing in Gås­ham­na.

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

Straums­land & Barent­søya – 20th August 2021

Straums­land has always been one of my favou­ri­te parts of Spits­ber­gen. We spent most of the day in this wide-open tun­dra land­scape with its many rocky hills, wet­lands and beau­tiful coast. The local wild­life also made a good con­tri­bu­ti­on to the over­all expe­ri­ence, inclu­ding three polar bears who were slee­ping some­whe­re hid­den bet­ween the hills, wit­hout taking much noti­ce of us.

Later we still found the time for a shorter walk on Barent­søya, and then it was time to set cour­se for the south cape.

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Hin­lo­pen (2) – 19th August 2021

And yet ano­ther long, full day in Hin­lo­pen Strait. We star­ted the day with 4 (or 5?) polar bears who were having break­fast, sup­po­sedly alre­a­dy for some time.

A good moun­tain hike in Lom­fjord gave us ama­zing views and a good bit of exer­cise.

And a final excur­si­on on Nord­aus­t­land gave us more than 100 wal­rus who were pret­ty busy with them­sel­ves.

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

Hin­lo­pen (1) – 18th August 2021

Hin­lo­pen Strait, this magi­cal place … in good wea­ther, any­way, it can as well be pret­ty rough. But the place is fri­end­ly to us. Whe­re should I start, whe­re should I stop … you have to see it yours­elf. It is hard to wri­te wit­hout wri­ting a who­le book (I did that alre­a­dy, just in case you didn’t know …), this is just a litt­le blog. The moon-like polar desert land­scape of Nord­aus­t­land, wha­les, a late evening gla­cier hike up on the ice cap of Aus­t­fon­na … and this was just one day! The­re is more to fol­low, stay tun­ed.

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

Lågøya – 17th August 2021

It is time to move on to Hin­lo­pen Strait. Heinrich’s expe­ri­ence in the­se waters and the very mano­euvra­ble Arc­ti­ca II enable us to take the pas­sa­ge through Lady Fran­k­lin­fjord and Fran­k­lin­sund, whe­re we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a landing on Lågøya, inclu­ding a visit to the old trap­per hut in Moll­buk­ta (no 11 in „Sval­bardhyt­ter“) and a sight­ing of the rare Sabine’s gull.

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Nord­aus­t­land – 16th August 2021

An excur­si­on to the dar­kest years in Spitsbergen’s histo­ry, the second world war. The famous Hau­de­gen wea­ther sta­ti­on on Nord­aus­t­land.

Later, a ful­ly unex­pec­ted excur­si­on to the hig­hest levels of arc­tic exci­te­ment and beau­ty: more than a dozen polar bears were fee­ding on a wha­le car­cass on a tiny island on the north side of Nord­aus­t­land. An ama­zing spec­ta­cle. I don’t have words to descri­be that.

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

Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta – 16th August 2021

An evening some­whe­re in Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta, on the north side of Nord­aus­t­land. A late evening landing to stock up on freshwa­ter (Arc­ti­ca II has got a water­ma­ker, but it doesn’t want to do its job curr­ent­ly. No pro­blem, we just find water some­whe­re in natu­re).
 

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Drift ice under the mid­night sun.

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Nord­aus­t­land

An excur­si­on to the dar­kest years in Spitsbergen’s histo­ry, the second world war. The famous Hau­de­gen wea­ther sta­ti­on on Nord­aus­t­land.

Haudegen

Later, a ful­ly unex­pec­ted excur­si­on to the hig­hest levels of arc­tic exci­te­ment and beau­ty: more than a dozen polar bears were fee­ding on a wha­le car­cass on a tiny island on the north side of Nord­aus­t­land. An ama­zing spec­ta­cle. I don’t have words to descri­be that.

Nordaustland Polar bears
Nordaustland Polar bears

Nord­kapp and to the ice – 15th August 2021

When the north cape is men­tio­ned, most peo­p­le will think of Nord­kapp in north Nor­way. But Sval­bard does have its own north cape. Just as its coun­ter­part on the main­land, it is also situa­ted on a small island and it is not the nor­t­hern­most land in the area.

Stan­ding on top of Nord­kapp, in the drif­ting snow, with occa­sio­nal glim­p­ses of Sjuøya­ne, is a beau­tiful and very arc­tic expe­ri­ence.

And so was the polar bear who wal­ked over an ice floe not far away from us later in the after­noon.

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

Mos­sel­buk­ta – 14th August 2021

The water­ways were a bit bum­py last night, so we deci­ded to drop the anchor in Mos­sel­buk­ta. Calm ancho­ra­ge and then a good walk in beau­tiful sce­n­ery with a lot of histo­ry – Nor­dens­ki­öld, Schrö­der-Stranz – what more could one ask for? Well a beach wit­hout pla­s­tic, but this isn’t to be had here, sad­ly.
Now we have set cour­se for Nord­aus­t­land.

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