I’d been wanting to go to 80 degrees north for a few years and there are meant to be more polar bears on the east side of Svalbard so when the opportunity to circumnavigate it by tall ship dropped in my inbox while I was in Gibraltar having what I thought would be my only holiday of 2018 I took it. Not an experience I’d recommend unless you really want a sailing trip as we were quite a long way from land for a lot of the time.
I had a day in Longyearbyen before joining the ship. Dog and skidoo parking is a normal way of life there. Obviously they have problems with people parking in inconvenient places . I was pleased to cross paths with the Vavilov in port.
Ny Alesund was our first destination. On the way in we saw beluga whales . We wandered round looking at the weather station , old buildings , and Arctic terns ,
In Magdalenefjord we saw an Arctic fox then looked at ice on the beach . Between Magdalenefjord and Woodfjord I went out to the tip of the bowsprit .
At Woodfjord I found bear evidence which must have been fairly recent but this was as close as we came to seeing one 🙁
Moffen Island is a huge walrus haulout . Walrus swam round the ship as we went a bit further north.. From there we had beautifully calm seas down to the Hinlopen straits so I went up the rigging as we sailed. The Hinlopen straits had lots of bergs.. After timing just right to get through a narrow channel we moored at Edgeoya for a short time then had some nice conditions sailing between there and Hornsund.
Hornsund has impressively sharp-edged mountains . After one landing we found the staff had towed a drinks chiller back to the ship. The weather was lovely so I climbed the rigging . and bowsprit again I was the only passenger who helmed through ice on our way out of here – there was quite a lot of it 🙂
I stayed up til silly o’clock to have the pleasure of helming right in to the Bellsund anchorage in perfect conditions. The glacier in this fjord is quite distinctive because it’s really clear how much it has changed. I was really excited about arriving here because this was where I’d seen 2 polar bears on my Quark trip. This time there were no bears, just Svalbard reindeer (they’re smaller than other reindeer) and birds.
No cats are allowed on the island of Svalbard. The Russians in Barentsburg ignore the rules. We crossed to Isfjord and went in extremely close to a glacier , then made our way back to Longyearbyen where my Antarctic ship was in port.