Svalbard North Western Territories, Norway
Join: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, 11 August 2017
Leave: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, 19 August 2017
Our aim this week is to explore the north-western territories of Spitsbergen; an area especially rich in polar history where you can still see the remains of the attempts of explorers of old to reach the north-pole.
The area is also very rich in nature and wild-life. We will sail through the nights when we sail, but in between we anchor and spend time ashore. You’ll learn to handle the sailboat and be involved in the running of the ship. You will be aquainted with high lattitude sailing, and you will learn all about Svalbard; it’s history, nature, wildlife, birdlife, and much more!
Here are the highlights of this arctic sailing and wildlife adventure:
– The abandoned Russian city The Pyramid.
– Kongsfjord and New-Ålesund – the world’s northernmost settlement.
– The beautiful Magdalena-fjord.
– Amsterdam-island and the pioneer settlement of Smeerenburg.
– The Newton-Summit; the highest peak of Svalbard.
– The north-west corner of Spitsbergen.
– The edge of the ice sheet (depending on its position and the weather!).
Day 1 – Meeting onboard and sail out the Icefjord
We meet onboard the boat in the harbour of Longyearbyen, 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. During the night we will sail on the inside of Prins Karls Forland and through the shallow passage of the Forlands-reef.
Day 2 – Krossfjorden and the surrounding sites
During the day we will reach Krossfjorden (Cross-fjord) and later on the Lilliehöökfjord. Here we will visit the 14th of July Bay as well as the Lilliehöök-glacier with its 8 kilometer long glacier edge. No need to rush in these surrondings. If we are tired we will rest, if not we will sail back out the fjord and head further north towards the Magdalena-fjord.
Day 3 – The Magdalena-fjord and the north western islands
Coming up on the north western side the Magdalena fjord is our first point of interest. The beautiful fjord with ice in the water and high peaks around is named after the guardian angel of early Basque whalers; Maria Magdalena. The fjord was an important base for whaling already from the 16th century. Many also died here, and at one place one find a number of burial sites. As we sail further north we reach more protected waters amongst the north-western Islands, the Smeerenberg-fjord. We will visit the Danish-island and the Amsterdam-island with history from the 16th century whaling for Greenland-whales in this area. At the peak in the 1630s there were about 250 boats here hunting about 750 whales per summer. Thus the whale population sank quickly and so did the number of whalers. Then 250 years later the Danish island became again relevant as base for several polar expeditions in both the 18th and 19th century. Virgohavna on the north side was the base for both the André expedition of 1896-97 and later the Wellman- expedition of 1906, 07, and 09. Opposite from Virgohamna we may visit the Smeerenberg-point; the main whalingstation of the Dutch during the peak years of 1617-42. The sites on Danish Island and Amsterdam Island are very popular and also protected, hence the possibility to go ashore here is shared by other vessels.
Day 4-5 – Fjord-sailing into the longer fjords on the north side (day 4 – 6)
The next days we sail into the longer fjords with entrance from north; the Raudfjord, the Liefdefjord and Mushamna. These fjords are the home to many reindeers, seels, and polar bears are regularly seen. The glaciers are fascinating here, we pick up some fresh glacier ice by the Monaco glacier that we will use in our drink at Texas Bar, the northernmost bar in the world. The last night before heading south we will probably spend in Mushamna; a much used basecamp for hunters with a special and well protected natural bay.
Day 6-8 – Sailing back south (day 6 – 8)
On our way back towards Longyearbyen we will again turn around the caracteristic north-western islands. On the way we stop both in New-Ålesund; the northernmost settlement in the world, a mecca for polar reasarch, and Barentsburg; the russian mining town with it’s very special atmosphere. We will conclude the trip in Longyearbyen in the afternoon on the 10th and go for a good dinner together ashore. Instead of rushing directly to the airport we recommend that you spend an extra night or day in Longyearbyen to let the experiences of the last 8 days really sink in.
Trainers/ deck shoes (no black soled shoes please – they mark the deck)
Waterproof sailing kit (two sets are recommended. Heavy gear for on-board and lighter kit for trips ashore)
Sailing gloves – 2 sets
Hot water bottle
Clothes for on-board and on shore
A small backpack for trips on-shore (30-40 litres)
A water bottle
Thermals, two sets
Thick socks, two sets
Sun glasses (polarized)
Sun cream – SPF50+
Small quick dry towel
USB cord to charge your phone
Warm sleeping bag
Printed out Insurance details
Any medication you require