Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway
Join: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, 1 August 2017
Leave: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, 11 August 2017
If you want to see and experience the many faces of Svalbard’s this is the trip for you! On this full circumnavigation we will explore this magical island; the edge of the Arctic ice sheet, walrus colonies, wide glaciers, mountains, majestic fjords, bird-sanctuaries; not to mention the Hinlopen Strait. This trip is rich is whales and sea life. If we are really lucky, we might spot a Polar Bear.
We will sail through-out the light Arctic nights and we will run the ship 24/7.
On this trip you will learn a lot about high-latitude sailing as well as seeing and experiencing this magnificent island up close.
Welcome onboard our full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen. On this trip you will have the chance to see Svalbard in all it’s glory; the wildlife, nature, geology and most probably also weather and temperature. It is a decent sail around the island, but there is no better way to explore than doing watches at different times of day every day, as we seek out remote harbours and historic places along our 500 nautical miles long voyage. We will see polar bears and whales as well as different species of birds and seals.
On this trip we will focus mainly on the destinations lying some distance from Longyearbyen; those you would not easily reach on a normal daytrip from the main areas. For this trip we are using our expedition-equipped and comfortable 50 feet sailboat “Humla” (Bumblebee) and we staff up with both a skipper and a co-skipper. You will be involved in the running of the vessel, take watches and have the chance to learn as much as you can about sailing and navigation. This is in addition to the exploration of Svalbard itself.
1st August – meeting time 1600
We meet onboard the boat in the harbour at Longyearbeyn, and start to get to know the other guests, the boat and the equipment. Together we stow all our gear and the food, and then we go through a safety drill and practice handling the boat and sails.
After making sure we are all set to go we sail straight over the fjord from Longyearbyen to Tempelet (The Temple) with it’s impressive shapes in sand and stone. Then we head out of the Icefjord and north on the inside of Prins Karls Forland towards the Forlands-reef, with course for the northernmost settlement in the world; New Ålesund.
2nd August – New Ålesund and Kongsfjorden
Today we will make a short visit ashore in New Ålesund, lying at the mouth of Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay). New Ålesund has a progressive international research environment and has the feel of a very remove outpost. After a stroll ashore we sail deeper into the Kongsfjord; a fjord by many considered the most beautiful in Svalbard. This is mainly due to the two surrounding glaciers as well as the three spectacular pyramid-shaped peaks Dana, Nora and Svea, named after the three Scandinavian countries.
2-5th August – North side of Svalbard
Further north, outside the north-west corner of Spitsbergen, we sail into the Smeerenburg-fjord where we will spend time at some historical sights. In Virgohamna we will go ashore and see the remains of the 1600th century whaling industry. Here we will also see the remains of the hangar that housed Roald Amundsends airship “Norge” from the ill fated André-expedition.
We will then sail throughout the northwestern islands, pass Fair Haven, and set an easterly course along the northern side of the island, heading towards Nordaustlandet and the Hinlopen Strait. On the way eastwards we will pass either Moffen, a small beach resort for walruses, or we’ll go closer to land and visit the harbour Gråhuken where six Norwegian vessels froze in during the winter of 1872. Me may also visit Mosselbukta, as well as Heclahuken and Krossøya on the east side of Hinlopen Strait’s north mouth.
We will then head southwards into the Hinlopen Strait, a fascinating sound full of life and especially whales. The current carries small icebergs from all the glaciers on both sides of the sound, which separates Spitsbergen from the ice-covered Nordaustlandet. As we go through we’ll pass Alke-mountain; the biggest bird sanctuary of Svalbard, and we will stop at Torellnesset, housing a famous walrus-colony on the south-eastern tip of the Hinlopen Strait.
If the weather allows we will stop for a longer walk onshore to stretch out and move our sailor bodies. Those who brought their swimmers we can also take a brief dip in the crystal clear water on the beach(!).
Almost halfway through the trip and we aim to be heading south out of the southern mouth of Hinlopen. We will then pass out through one of the fascinating tidal streams at Ormebolet and the Heløy-sound, separating Spitsbergen from Barents island. Here the tidal stream moves at up to 9 knots and it is important to time our passing through the strait correctly. The current is created by the tidal differences between the inner pool of the Storfjord, and the Barents Sea east of Edge-island and Barents-island.
We then reach the inner pool of Storfjorden, a big and shallow fjord reaching all the way down to the south cape of Spitsbergen, where we will be sailing towards over the next few days. On the way south we pass and possibly visit the Nigri Glacier, Cape Lee, Crozier Point and Whale Bay. If there is time and the weather permits, we can hike up the Keilhau Mountain close to the South Cape before we sail around the cape and up north on the western sound into Hornsund.
We will spend these days in Hornsund and the western side of the land up to Isfjord and Longyearbyen. Hornsund is a beautiful place with good shelter and warmer temperatures, a perfect anchorage from where we can hike up the mountains located deep in the fjord. Here four glaciers meet and calve into the fjord, a spectacular sight and sound.
We then head northwards a will go into the Recherche-fjord for a short visit, before heading north again and into the Icefjord. As we pass the cape of Icefjord Radio we will know if there is time for a visit the interesting and colourful Russian mining settlement of Barentsburg complete with its Soviet murals and statue of Lenin.
We will be in Longyearbyen in the morning on the 11th and conclude the trip at 10 am.
Instead of rushing directly to the airport we recommend that you spend a last night in Longyearbyen to let the experiences of the last ten days sink in and wash over you.