Svalbard – a Norwegian province in the Arctic, covering the Svalbard archipelago together with several islands not included in the archipelago within the limits of 71 ° – 81 ° N and 10 ° – 35 ° E, 800 km north of Norway and 1100 km from the North Pole.
After a lot of shopping in the store in Longyearbyen, i.e. 4 carts with supplies for 2 weeks and transporting them to our boat, we set off to conquer the Arctic. The first hours were restless, everyone was getting used to the new conditions. The cold wind blowing, the boat rocking on the waves and of course holding the helm – for me it was the first contact in “guiding”, or rather steering our house for the next several days.
It was hard to stay belowdecks, when outside, on every side, there were views that had previously only been seen on television. Mountains covered with snow, pomegranate water and here and there animals and birds that did not mind the prevailing cold.
The day blended into the night, or rather it never ended. The sun was above us the whole time. Watches marked the time of meals, and 3-hour watches regulated the day and the cruise plan, as well as the time for a short nap. Yes, short – if I could, I would not sleep at all, so as not to miss something, another mountain, another glacier.
One of the places we visited was Magdalenefjorden, which is the most photographed and picturesque place located in the north-western part of Spitsbergen – that’s what I read before the cruise. And I was not disappointed.The proximity of the glacier’s front and its color filled me with joy and peace.
Here we could taste great whiskey along with ice from the glacier and enjoy the beautiful views of this fjord.
First stop at anchor, first disembarkation – Virgohamna (a bay in the northern part of the island of Danskøn, located on the north-western outskirts of the Svalbard archipelago) a place where m.in the 19th century, there were attempts to reach the pole, and now there are the remains of André’s tragic ballooning expedition.
We wear our “teletubbies” costumes, i.e. life suits, so the water here has a temperature close to zero, even below, which means that you cannot directly integrate with it, because the time to survive (without the appropriate suit) is equal to its temperature.
We’re heading towards the shore. Weapons are mandatory, a polar bear can be behind any rock, in the water. It’s his house, we’re just guests.
On land we are alone and on our own, not a living soul. We stick together. Emotions grow when we see bear track. Everyone has eyes in the back of their head. We don’t want to use guns, much less become dinner.
Some of us decide to use the clothes and go to see the nearby walrus colony. We’ve already seen them from the boat, but it’s another thing to stand on land a few meters from them. They are excellent swimmers, but they are slow to move on land. You can get quite close to them, although not all of them are happy about it.
Over the next few days we head further north, another fjord and glaciers, another stop at anchor. I love those moments when everyone is asleep and I am on watch on deck. Empty and quiet around, no signs of civilization, no other boat, just mountains, snow and sun. The waves gently lapped against the boat, creating music. You can lose yourself in this specific silence, start finding yourself, your emotions…
Our goal was to cross 80°N and we did. Sleet with rain, wind and barely 1 degree above zero. Moffen Island, which we only saw from a boat. GPS showed 80°N… There it is! Is beautifully!