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Yearly Archives: 2021 − News & Stories


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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Reins­dyr­flya – 13th August 2021

Regar­ding the wea­ther, this Fri­day the 13th lives up to the poor repu­ta­ti­on of the date. At least we are east of the area of the stron­gest winds. Here in Lief­defjord, it is grey, wet and cold, but no pro­blem to go ashore at Vil­la Oxford, a hut built by Hil­mar Nøis in 1924, and to make a good hike across the sou­thern part of Reins­dyr­flya.

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Later, ano­ther landing takes us to the dark years of the second world war. The Ger­mans had a war wea­ther sta­ti­on cal­led „Kreuz­rit­ter“ on Reins­dyr­flya. A few scat­te­red remains and the gra­ve of the com­man­der, who blew hims­elf up by acci­dent short­ly the crew was picked up, are still to be seen.

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Mag­da­le­nefjord – 12th August 2021

Fine views again, stun­ning sce­n­ery here in Mag­da­le­nefjord. Calm and clear.

Loo­king for litt­le auks, the first thing we found – or that found us – was arc­tic foxes. No less than 6 of them, inclu­ding 3 blue foxes! Incre­di­bly curious, the­se litt­le beasts. Final­ly, we had to bring our life jackets into safe­ty.

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Later, we found the litt­le auks as we had been hoping for.

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And the wea­ther also came in the end as expec­ted. The nor­thwest cor­ner has a bad repu­ta­ti­on for being a wea­ther kit­chen, and the place lived up to its expec­ta­ti­on today. We took off to the east befo­re the wind real­ly comes as pre­dic­ted.

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Engelskbuk­ta, Ny-Åle­sund – 11th August 2021

Today’s wea­ther is a bit grey. We star­ted the day with a tun­dra walk in Engelskbuk­ta.
 
Flowers, some gra­ves and a blub­ber oven from the days of the ear­ly wha­lers.
 

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Later, we visit Ny-Åle­sund, Spitsbergen’s nor­t­hern­most sett­le­ment with ever­y­thing that beongs to it: old sto­ries and modern sci­ence, Kongsfjord­bu­tik­ken and coal ming, polar histo­ry and a gui­ded city walk.

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Kongsfjord is grey and will remain so the next cou­ple of days, so we lea­ve and head north befo­re we get the nor­t­her­ly wind that the fore­cast indi­ca­tes.

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St. Jons­fjord – 10th August 2021

For­lands­und tur­ned out to be fog­gy and a bit win­dy today, so we deci­ded to have a look at St. Jons­fjord. Talk about right place and right time! Full suns­hi­ne on the beau­tiful gla­cier sce­n­ery in the inner part of the fjord. Many ber­gy bits on the water from the 2 pret­ty acti­ve gla­ciers in the area. One of them is curr­ent­ly advan­cing; the posi­ti­on that we had rea­ched in 2019 is cover­ed by the gla­cier now. The other, neigh­bou­ring one is, howe­ver, retrea­ting, as most of Spitsbergen’s gla­ciers the­se days.

We mar­vel­led at this stun­ning sce­n­ery from all per­spec­ti­ves we could think of: from a per­fect­ly pla­ced moun­tain ridge, from sea level and from a litt­le island that has only very recent­ly emer­ged from the gla­cier. Bet not too many peo­p­le had been the­re befo­re us!

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For­lands­und – 09th August 2021

It is still Mon­day, 09 August, and the day is not over yet. After a short stretch with fog and swell, For­lands­und wel­co­mes us with suns­hi­ne and dozens of fin wha­les!

Later in the evening, at Prins Karls For­land, the fog has caught up again with us. Nevert­hel­ess, we take the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a late evening mee­ting with a herd of wal­rus.

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