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Yearly Archives: 2022 − News & Stories


Engelskbuk­ta, Ny-Åle­sund – 09th August 2022

Engelskbuk­ta gave us beau­ti­ful sce­nic views des­pi­te the low clouds.

Later, we reached Ny-Åle­sund.

A lot could be writ­ten about the many beau­ti­ful impres­si­ons of this day, but it is late now …

Gal­le­ry – Engelskbuk­ta, Ny-Åle­sund – 09th August 2022

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

Polar bear inci­dent in Ekmanfjord

Today (Wed­nes­day, 08th August), a per­son was inju­red and a polar bear kil­led during an acci­dent at Sve­a­ne­set in Ekmanfjord.

Not much is known so far in public, but a polar bear came into a camp with 25 French tou­rists. A woman recei­ved inju­ries to her arm, but her con­di­ti­ons appears not to be life threa­tening.

The polar bear was shot at during the event and it is now repor­ted dead.

Fur­ther details are not avail­ab­le at the moment.

Isfjord – 07th August 2022

We are off again, now with Arc­ti­ca II. Good stuff! Actual­ly, it doesn’t take much the­se days to make a start a good one: the trip actual­ly hap­pens, it starts as sche­du­led and with ever­y­bo­dy who is sup­po­sed to be here. That is enough to make us hap­py for now.

After a cou­p­le of hours we had reached Trygg­ham­na and took the oppor­tu­ni­ty for a first walk. To our ama­ze­ment, we find our­sel­ves wal­king in the fos­sil remains of a tro­pi­cal sea. Corals and other fos­sils ever­y­whe­re! But it is more than 300 mil­li­on years ago that they were ali­ve …

Gal­le­ry – Isfjord – 07th August 2022

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

Spits­ber­gen with SV Anti­gua: Pho­tos & short online dia­ry

Last week we finis­hed the latest arc­tic voya­ge with SV Anti­gua in Spits­ber­gen. Now the­re are several pages with pho­to gal­le­ries and short nar­ra­ti­ons avail­ab­le to illus­tra­te this beau­ti­ful jour­ney. It is a pri­vi­le­ge to expe­ri­ence this and it is a plea­su­re to share it here with ever­y­bo­dy who might be curious – it was an ama­zing trip and it is cer­tain­ly worth having a look at the pic­tures. Click here to start.

Antigua, Magdalenefjord

Anti­gua in Mag­da­le­n­efjord, on a beau­ti­ful mid July evening.

Enjoy!

P.S. if you pre­fer to expe­ri­ence Spits­ber­gen yourself (whon wouldn’t?), then you can join us in Sep­tem­ber becau­se a cabin on Anti­gua is avail­ab­le again after a can­cel­la­ti­on. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on or get in touch, ide­al­ly direct­ly with Geo­gra­phi­sche Rei­se­ge­sell­schaft (Ger­man spea­king depar­tu­re, so you should at least be able to under­stand some Ger­man).

Sveagru­va: air con­nec­tion is histo­ry

In 2017, it was deci­ded that the for­mer coal mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va would be aban­do­ned and actual­ly most­ly phy­si­cal­ly clea­ned up and remo­ved. A mile­stone was reached recent­ly, on 01st August, when the final flight took off from Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Sveagru­va and back. This 20 minu­te air con­nec­tion has been the life­li­ne for Sveagru­va for deca­des, more than 40,000 flights are said to have been ope­ra­ted.

Aircraft, Sveagruva

Air­p­lai­ne on the run­way of Sveagru­va.

Now, the litt­le air­port of Sveagru­va will be remo­ved. About 70 peop­le will work on this and other parts of the cleanup pro­ject for the next cou­p­le of mon­ths. During this time, they will live not live in the for­mer sett­le­ment any­mo­re, but on sup­ply ships.

Next year, a small work for­ce of 8 is sche­du­led to do the last bits and pie­ces of the cleanup, accord­ing to Sval­bard­pos­ten.

The for­mer coal mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va, inclu­ding the mines of Lunck­ef­jel­let and Sveagru­va, is well docu­men­ted on this web­site (click here).

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.

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