Logbook – Week 9

Monday 12th of June through Sunday 18th of June 2023

From the Barents Sea to FARMHAMNA (Svalbard)

And suddenly…Svalbard.

At the end of a complicated night at sea which saw Redge impose his physique and Pat his experience at the helm, while caught in 40 knot squalls the staysail trolley was in a hurry to leave the ship, we were able to begin to relax. It is 3:30 a.m. and even if barely perceptible in the fogn the mountains of Svalbard stand there in front of us. The road to Longyearbyen is still long, the hardest part is behind us and we should arrive before the big tremor scheduled for Monday evening.  The weather conditions are more than comfortable for Northabout but remain quite special for us: winter ++.

At the end of the afternoon the boat is secured, moored alongside two other ships. A dozen sailboats are also present in the port. It’s time for us to get down to earth and follow in the footsteps of Redge’s memories, which as accurate as Redge’s memories can be, should still get us to a nice retreat for weary sailors.  We will return quite late from this first polar beer hunt.  But hey…no one was expecting us, and we had nice things to say to each other.

Tuesday is a recovery day that everyone seasons at their own sauce.

The next day we put Northabout in motion and set off to explore the archipelago. The binoculars glued to the neck we practice the national sport: the search for polar bears. Fredo is the first to sound the alarm. False alarm, it’s a reindeer. Fabien takes over, no better. After a few days we will come to the conclusion that seeing a bear is about as likely as finding a four leaved clover in a Guinness. “Shit, another white Twingo”, will be our favorite expression to describe our false hopes of image hunters.

The sun now accompanies us and it changes everything.  Svalbard loses its austerity and reveals all its splendor.  Our first contact with the ice in the Templefjorden was a moment of high intensity. Here we are!  Dude with his remote-controlled northern fulmar brings us incredible images.  We are alone in this great nature and our evening anchorages are more magical one from the other.  The only dissonant note is that our navigation equipment regularly seems to lose its head.  It shows us going reverse and Northabout under auto pilot sometime engages in surprising 360 degrees turns. The technicians of D&D Engineering (And Design) trace the thread of events and discover an improbable pan near the compass: one more problem solved.

Friday we make another stopover in Longyearbyen to repair the water pump and embark Noé whom we met at the beginning of the week.  Aged 22, he is completing a 9-month internship in Svalbard in physical oceanography. He knows the region well and has the famous authorizations to carry weapons, necessary to go ashore. He will be with us for 10 days. Off to the Far North…

The next two days will be just crazy. We go from wonders to wonders. The weather is great, and nature is celebrating us. Words are no longer enough to describe what we feel, and we kneel in honor to the great architect.  Northabout clings to the ice pack, and two walruses on their ice cube island teach us the art of zenitude.

Saturday around 4 p.m., enormous emotion on board, a fin whale comes to flirt with the boat and gratifies us with a majestic, planted tail fin. Unforgettable.

A fog to cut with a “Farol” will keep us company all day Sunday.  We head towards NyAlensud, the northernmost scientific city in the world.  Around midnight as we entered the “Passage des Fous”, a narrow shoal area, Fabien, who had taken out a cane, thought he had hit a walrus and let it be known loudly. And as we looked behind to see a huge viking-like head coming out of the water and staring at us for a long time as if to say to us: “Guys, don’t you think it’s a little late…”

What a week…

Everyone got his share of emotion?

The adventure goes on.

Our Route from the beginning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *