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Home → July, 2022

Monthly Archives: July 2022 − News & Stories


The (almost) ever­y­day mad­ness con­ti­nues

It is nice to be some­whe­re remo­te, far away from civi­liza­ti­on and off­line, as we were on board SV Anti­gua until Wed­nes­day (27th July). Wit­hout any con­nec­tion to the out­side world other than satel­li­te-based com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, far from fit for real inter­net.

Back in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, this all chan­ges. The world news are most­ly depres­sing, but obvious­ly not what this page is about. Com­pared to much of what is going on in the world, Spits­ber­gen is and remains a peaceful place wit­hout major trou­bles. But still, things hap­pen here and many of them are not gre­at at all.

One can only won­der what was got into some peo­p­le who are working within tou­rism in Spits­ber­gen, stee­ring ships or boats or being in respon­si­ble posi­ti­ons on them. Two French expe­di­ti­on ships (or small crui­se ships, wha­te­ver you pre­fer) got their guns remo­ved recent­ly becau­se they did not have the requi­red papers. About 50 wea­pons in total! That can inde­ed rai­se an eye­brow or two. At least, mista­kes made in this case were made on paper and not during navi­ga­ti­on on the bridge or in the field, whe­re major mista­kes can have enti­re­ly dif­fe­rent con­se­quen­ces.

As will beco­me clear in this case, in case anyo­ne may won­der. After the groun­ding of the Vir­go in Fuglefjord a cou­ple of weeks ago, the Oce­an Atlan­tic, a major expe­di­ti­on ship (or: see abo­ve) ope­ra­ted by Alba­tross Expe­di­ti­ons, touch­ed the ground (or ice?) some­whe­re. The inci­dent was serious enough to have cau­sed dama­ge to the hull, invol­ving ingres­si­on of water. And as if that had not yet been enough, the crew did not deem it neces­sa­ry to inform the Nor­we­gi­an mari­ti­me aut­ho­ri­ty, who could have dis­patched res­cue forces to be on stand-by in the vici­ni­ty of the Oce­an Explo­rer in case of an escala­ti­on. It is pro­ba­b­ly need­less to say that such a report to the mari­ti­me aut­ho­ri­ty would have been requi­red by law, and talk of luck that the situa­ti­on did not dete­rio­ra­te. The crew on board was able to con­trol the situa­ti­on. Nevert­hel­ess, someone on board felt uncom­for­ta­ble enough to make a pho­ne call at some stage, and soon the Oce­an Atlan­tic was escor­ted to Lon­gye­ar­by­en by a Nor­we­gi­an coast­guard ves­sel. Now the ship is ancho­red in Advent­fjord, awai­ting inspec­tion. Ear­lier con­trols this year had alre­a­dy reve­a­led more than 20 serious secu­ri­ty flaws.

Com­ment: inc­re­du­lous shaking of the head.

Ocean Atlantic, Longyearbyen

Oce­an Atlan­tic in the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Less dra­ma­tic, but nevert­hel­ess serious and making one won­der, is the inci­dent whe­re a Zodiac fleet belon­ging to Hon­di­us went to a small island in Kongsfjord to give their pas­sen­gers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see a polar bear. Wit­nesses cla­im that the boats were clo­se enough to cau­se dis­tur­ban­ce of the ani­mal or even put peo­p­le or the bear at risk, but this may be a mat­ter of con­tro­ver­si­al deba­te; it is said that the boats were “at one time within 50 meters”, a distance that does not at all neces­s­a­ri­ly (but may) invol­ve dis­tur­ban­ce or even risk to life and limb of man or beast. It is not pos­si­ble to say more about this aspect of the inci­dent wit­hout fur­ther know­ledge of rele­vant details.

But one thing is clear, unfort­u­na­te­ly: the island in ques­ti­on is part of a bird sanc­tua­ry. From 15th May to 15th August, a mini­mum distance of 300 met­res from the island’s (and neigh­bou­ring islands) shores are requi­red for all traf­fic, inclu­ding boats. This regu­la­ti­on has been in force for deca­des.

Com­ment: also here, one can only won­der how this could hap­pen. The only expl­ana­ti­on this aut­hor can think of is an asto­nis­hing lack of know­ledge regar­ding rele­vant regu­la­ti­ons. This should not have hap­pen­ed to the expe­di­ti­on staff of a ship ope­ra­ted by a coma­pa­ny with deca­des of regio­nal expe­ri­ence, an opi­ni­on shared by the chief ope­ra­ting offi­cer of the com­pa­ny in ques­ti­on as repor­ted by Sval­bard­pos­ten. The inci­dent is likely the deba­te about a cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on sche­me for gui­des, some­thing which in its­elf is not neces­sa­ry a bad thing at all, alt­hough this deba­te is not neces­s­a­ri­ly going a fruitful way eit­her, but that is ano­ther issue.

The final days from Raud­fjord to Isfjord

The last days of this voya­ge were just going so quick­ly, full of beau­ty and exci­te­ment as they were. I just didn’t mana­ge to wri­te any blog ent­ries during this time, so here is the update inclu­ding a slight­ly more exten­si­ve pho­to gal­lery, as I am able to use pro­per inter­net again. This chap­ter of the voya­ge star­ted in a slight­ly Raud­fjord and then took us to the magni­fi­cent St. Jons­fjord and the tun­dra on the west coast. It brought us the luck of a polar bear sight­ing (the only one other than the bears that we saw in the distance from Ny-Åle­sund) as well as the beau­ty of doing some miles under sails again in Isfjord befo­re we roun­ded the who­le thing off in Coles­buk­ta.

Gal­lery – From Raud­fjord to Isfjord – 24th to 26th july 2022

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

Wood­fjord & Bock­fjord – 23rd July 2022

We cover­ed some good distance to the west – we must not for­get that we will need to get back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en at some stage. The ear­ly mor­ning saw us all the way down in inner­most Wood­fjord. Sce­n­ery of stun­ning beau­ty all around us, with ama­zing colours. And ama­zing amounts of pla­s­tic gar­ba­ge on the coast. A good bit less when we left, at least.

Bock­fjord has Spitsbergen’s only vol­ca­no, or vol­ca­nic ruin, that is. And a gre­at varie­ty of flowers, inclu­ding some pret­ty rare ones.

Gal­lery – Wood­fjord & Bock­fjord – 23rd July 2022

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

Hin­lo­pen – 22nd July 2022

Gre­at that we made it as far as this – not­hing we could take for gran­ted con­side­ring the time we had left at this stage. But we made it into Hin­lo­pen and could enjoy a litt­le hike to and even onto the inland ice of nor­thwes­tern Spits­ber­gen as well as tent­hou­sands of Brünich’s guil­l­emots at Alkef­jel­let. And later, even a Blue wha­le! What a day!

Gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen – 22nd July 2022

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

Murch­ison­fjord – 21st July 2022

Murch­ison­fjord – So we made it to nor­t­hern Hin­lo­pen Strait, to Nord­aus­t­land. The bar­ren, most­ly ice-cover­ed second lar­gest island of Sval­bard. A very strong scenic con­trast to all that we had seen so far on this trip. Go to the Panos Murch­ison­fjord.
 

Gal­lery – Murch­ison­fjord – 21st July 2022

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

Wood­fjord – 20th July 2022

And again, we are lucky with wind and waves. In the sen­se that both of them are absent, making it pos­si­ble to visit the famous hut at Gråhu­ken (Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter: A woman in the polar night).

After small water­falls fal­ling over red rocks, sur­roun­ded by an ama­zing car­pet of tun­dra and flowers, we roun­ded the day off at Mona­co­b­reen. Which, by the way, has recent­ly advan­ced by seve­ral hundred meters. Almost hard to belie­ve, but such things still hap­pen occa­sio­nal­ly, even in times of glo­bal warm­ing.

Gal­lery – Wood­fjord – 20th July 2022

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

Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 19th July 2022

A rare beau­tiful day on the nor­thwest cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen, whe­re it usual­ly tends to be grey, win­dy and cold. Not­hing of that sort today. Ins­tead, stun­ning views over Dan­s­køya and later, more stun­ning views, wal­ru­ses and wha­ling histo­ry at Smee­ren­burg.
 

Danskehaugen
Smeerenburg

West coast – 18th July 2022

We were blown out of Kongsfjord, but the sails made it easi­ly pos­si­ble to turn it into a situa­ti­on of gre­at fun.

Ano­ther kind of gre­at fun came later in the after­noon when we were unex­pec­ted­ly able to make one of tho­se rare landings on the expo­sed outer coast. Fan­ta­stic wea­ther, stun­ning sce­n­ery … what else could you ask for?

And even more of it in the evening in Mag­da­le­nefjord. Wea­ther, sce­n­ery, cal­ving acti­vi­ty at the gla­cier … all at a maxi­mum!

Gal­lery – West coast – 18th July 2022

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

Kongsfjord – 17th July 2022

Wind and the pre­sence of other ships made things a bit uncer­tain in Ny-Åle­sund to begin with, but then we could spend a bril­li­ant mor­ning the­re, in Spitsbergen’s nor­t­hern­most sett­le­ment, curr­ent­ly also fre­quent­ly visi­ted by polar bears. We could see at least 3 of them on islands near town.

Later we explo­red inner Kongsfjord. One of the most beau­tiful parts of Spits­ber­gen, if you get the­re on a day like this.

Gal­lery – Kongsfjord – 17th July 2022

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

For­lands­und

Sin­ce last night, we have got not only as many as 19 pas­sen­gers on board, but also a new Cap­tain (Jona­than should have left a week ago – thank you for stay­ing that long!). Ama­zing! Full ahead, nor­thwards!

So we could enjoy the first day out­side Isfjord today 🙂 in For­lands­und. Stun­ning land­scape, stun­ning wea­ther, stun­ning wild­life! Just have a look at the pho­tos.

Gal­lery For­lands­und, 16th July 2022

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

Sveab­reen & Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Ever­y­bo­dy was hap­py to see some sun again final­ly, at Sveab­reen.

And ever­y­bo­dy was even more hap­py to wel­co­me some more peo­p­le on board in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Espe­ci­al­ly tho­se who came on board. They should have come almost a week ago! Well, bet­ter late than never – wel­co­me onboard!

It took some more time until ever­y­thing and ever­y­bo­dy were in place. We made good use of the time with a choice of hikes in the vici­ni­ty of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Below some impres­si­ons from our excur­si­on into Advent­da­len.

Gal­lery Sveab­reen & Advent­da­len, 14th/15th July 2022

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

Ekm­anfjord

Cora­hol­men is a perl of natu­re in Ekm­anfjord. A part of the island is a morai­ne land­scape, kind of what I ima­gi­ne it would look like on Mars. Not that I have been the­re. Just my fan­ta­sy. But any­way, Cora­hol­men is a fasci­na­ting island, even on a grey day like this. Stun­ning atmo­sphe­re!

The same appli­ed to Blo­mes­let­ta later. It was actual­ly so fog­gy that we wai­ted some time befo­re we went out again, streng­the­ned by some good cheese cake. A gre­at walk, gre­at views!

Gal­lery Ekm­anfjord: Cora­hol­men & Blo­mes­let­ta, 13th July 2022

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

Gips­da­len & Dia­ba­sod­den

As men­tio­ned befo­re, Isfjor­den has more than enough place for a week or ten days. Today we were in Sas­senfjord (a part of Isfjord, obvious­ly). The wea­ther remain­ed grey, but that didn’t kept us from get­ting out. We went for a love­ly hike in the beau­tiful, lar­ge Gips­da­len, whe­re Wil­liam S. Bruce loo­ked for coal in his days a long time ago, and later we paid a visit to the Brünich’s guil­l­emots at Dia­ba­sod­den.

Gal­lery Gips­da­len & Dia­ba­sod­den, 12th July 2022

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

Ebba­d­a­len & Pyra­mi­den

A slight­ly grey day in nor­t­hern Bil­lefjord, in the beau­tiful Ebba­d­a­len and in Pyra­mi­den. Fasci­na­ting places, beau­tiful sce­n­ery, fri­end­ly reinde­er.

Gal­lery Ebba­d­a­len & Pyra­mi­den, 11th July 2022

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

Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Skans­buk­ta

So Anti­gua is set­ting sail again in Spits­ber­gen in July – our first long trip (18 days!) with good old Anti­gua in 3 years (becau­se of Covid). Ama­zing …

But, alas, not ever­y­bo­dy could make it to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, becau­se of the SAS pilot strike. We still main­tain hope to pick some more peo­p­le up in a cou­ple of days time, but for now, we sail with 10 pas­sen­gers ins­tead of a good 30 …

But in any case, we sai­led! And we set cour­se for Skans­buk­ta, to start with. We will stay in Isfjor­den for a cou­ple of days, making sure that we can pick peo­p­le up at any time. No pro­blem at all, Isfjor­den is more than big enough to spend a week or even more.

Gal­lery Lon­gye­ar­by­en-Skans­buk­ta, 09th/10th July 2022

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

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