February/March 08

18 march 2008

In Memoriam Wouter Hovenkamp
Gekleed in een zevenzakkenbroek, een groen jagerjasje, verrekijker om zijn nek en een bereisde muts op zijn wat kalende hoofd, en dan zeggen dat je de kok bent. Zo kwam Wouter de eerste keer aan boord, en wij dachten natuurlijk dat we met een gids van doen hadden. Dat was ook eigenlijk zo. De kok had al een keer rond Spitsbergen geroeid en al jaren meegevaren met de Plancius, wat we vooral in het begin vaak moesten horen. Ik weet welhaast zeker dat Wouter ons net zo vreemd vond als wij hem, maar al snel waren we net zo trots op hem als hij graag bij ons was. De kok die zo sceptisch kon snuiven over alles wat hij beter dacht te weten, wat meestal ook zo was. De kok die somtijds zo een beetje zachtjes binnensmond kon murmelen en dan het meest rake commentaar kon geven om de gidsen te verbeteren. De kok altijd weer op tijd met weer een maal voor 25 mensen. We hielden van dat mannetje. We weten nog dat hij met geweer over schouder, als protectie voor eventuele beren, in Spitsbergen met de passagiers op stap ging en dat hij heeft moeten rennen voor zijn leven in Noorwegen toen hij wederom met passagiers aan het lopen was en een kwaaie eland tegenkwam die hem wilde opeten of erger. De wraak was de volgende dag bij lunch; pizza met eland-worst erin verwerkt. We dachten dat onze scheepskok, bioloog, allesweter, vraagbaak voor eeuwig zou blijven, en dat we ook Van Morrison, maar dan alleen de muziek uit de beginperiode, nog heel lang zouden horen uit de kombuis. Maar er kwam een vrouw, een serieuze baan en kinderen. We vonden dat dit geluk hem toekwam. We missen hem en we leven mee met Hiltje, de kinderen en de familie.

De bemanning van 'Noorderlicht'

10 march 2008

Already some days ago since you heard from us, but it was some busy days.
One evening we even had seven nationalities around the table!
Another highlight was the opening of the POLAR DOG MAIL trail.
With POLAR DOG MAIL people can write a letter or postcard from the ship which will be sent from here by dogslegde to the postoffice in Longyearbyen.
A special POLAR DOG MAIL postmark will be stamped on the envelop, to show this special way of transport. The mailbox is on the ice beside the gangway. Whenever you will receieve a POLAR DOG MAIL, do not forget to look at the exclusive stamp...

As i promised before i will tell you something about the logistics from the frozen-in Noorderlicht.
Once we are frozen-in the only way of transport to the ship is by snowscooter or dogsledge.
(the helicopter can be used in an emergency situation)
Therefor it is nessacery to take with us as much supplies as possible before we go in the ice of Tempelfjorden.
The big storage takes place in Norway, before we head to Spitsbergen in December. As you probably know, Norway is quite expensive in food according to the Dutch market. So we order all our supplies from the Netherlands, and a truck drives it up to the nothern part of Norway. We get everything onboard in Harstad.
To give you an idea what we use in a winter i will list some products:
600 kilograms meat
450 kilograms flour
96 kilograms coffee
72 package stroopwafels
450 eggs
180 liter longlife milk
77 liter longlife cooking cream
54 liter longlife wippingcream
264 liter orange juice
18240 meter toiletpaper
In wintertime we have two extra feezers on the deck to store all the meat.
You probably will think: why freezers in this cold climate? The answer is that frozen products needs a stabil temperature to keep them well. Out here the temperatures outside varies too much, from minus 6 degrees to minus 30 degrees, even some milder days now and then.
Once the ship arrives in Longyearbyen after the crossing from Norway, we get all dogsupplies from the Basecamp dogyard: lots of dogfood and hay.
If we need fresh supplies during the winter, we can order this in Longyearbyen and the guides will bring it on their scootertrip to the ship. But we need to take care what to order, not all fruit and vegetables can stand transport in minus 20 degrees. So we mainly get carrots, cabage and leeks. They pack it well in thermoboxes or roll it in sleepingbags to get it to the ship.
If we run out of eggs, this is a very exciting product to order. Will they survive a scootertransport of 60 K in rough terrain? As we learned, the way of packing them is the most important to get them over in a good state, even if you drive like hell.
The garbage, glass and paper goes on the scootersledge back to Longyearbyen. We have a big helicoterbag in which we pack it well on the sledge to town. To keep the volume as little as possible all cans and tins are pressed together.
How we deal with gasoline for the generators & heating, watersupplies etc., Captain Ted will tell you later.

29 februar 2008

Midnight in Tempelfjorden.
Last night it felt like walking on a filmset.
At midnight we had clear sky with millions of stars and 22 minusdegrees.
Northern Lights in the whole sky, giving so much light that we could
see the silhouets of all the mountains around us.
Walking on the stiff frozen snow making the last round with the dogs around the ship.
As we can say, this was another beautiful day..


28 februar 2008

Good news:
Menthe Groefsema, one of our Chefs in summertime became worldchampion 'Duth Pie Soup (snert) Cooking' 2008!
In this worldchampionship it is not only about the best cooking, also the presentation of the product is very important.
From Tempelfjorden we want to sent him our congratulations, and we are looking forward to enjoy his snert again!

Today, the 27th of February, just before noon, we could see the sun shining between the mountains!
This is the first time to see the sun again after spending wintermonths in Spitsbergen.
The 8th of March the sun will reach Longyearbyen. This will be celebrated with 'Solfestuka', meaning 'Week of Sunparty'.

We had a week of strong winds, and with a temperature of 14 minusdegrees, you can imagine the chillfactor...
Although we are frozen in well, the wind made the ship healing over a little.


22 februar 2008

Earthquake instead of eclips of the moon! 21th of February
I was ready to see the total eclips of the moon last night.
We got precise times and details from our specialist in the Netherlands.
I put the clockalarm at 3.30 am, to be ready for the total eclips at 04.01 am.
The only thing we had to hope for was a clear sky...
At 3.30 we had clouds all over the sky, not even a glimp of the moon to see. Disapointed i went back to bed.
Already half asleep again, suddenly vibrations of the whole ship woke me up: did the generator run crazy?
Helicopter outside? Next was a big BANG as if the ship broke loose from the ice... Were we loose, did the ice broke up??
Ted was outside quickly to see what was going on. He could not figure out what was going on; was it the wind healing over the ship and cracking some ice?? After the big bang the ship became calm again.
The next morning we heard there had been an earthquake around 03.45 am,
6.2 on richter scale, 100 KM south-east of Spitsbergen.
The last thing you expect at sea is to experience an earthquake.
Probably we would not have noticed the earthquake at all if there was no ice around the ship...



18 februar 2008

The ice is solid!
Yesterday we had our first overnightguests.
We could see the twelve scooterlights coming down the last hill to enter Tempelfjorden.
The ice is almost 25 cm now, and with the snow on top which has been fallen the last days, the drivingconditions are very good. The ship looks like a christmascard with all the snow around. Together with the waxing moon you can imagine it is a good place to be out here.
As we already had seven polarbearssights in the last period, yesterday we had a very special encouter.
On the moment the group was out for a afternoonscootertrip, a few of them had a siesta and the crew was working inside, the eighth polarbear showed up. The only thing we saw when coming outside on the deck was a disapearing silhouet. When Erik and Solfrid came back with the group they saw were the polarbeartrack was leading: he walked around the ship on 1 meter distance, then jumped over the gangway and disapeared.
Of course it was disapointing not seeing this bear, but everybody was also very excited that the bear was that close and seeing all the fresh tracks in the snow.
Next time i will tell you a bit more about the logistics of being frozen in.


11 februar 2008

Our third attemp to freeze in 'Noorderlicht' in Tempelfjorden seems to be succesfull!
The moment we entered Tempelfjorden last week, a thin layer of ice was already formed.
We sailed the ship further in through the ice into the position to freeze in.
Four days of -16 degrees and no wind followed, with a nice icefloor as result.
Luckely the sky was clear, so no snow was falling. Ice grows much better without
a layer of isolating snow on top.
Even two polarbears passed by on the new formed ice, a very good sign!
A few mild days followed, the ice stopped growing but stayed in a good condition.
If the ice is still thin, we make our messurments from the gangway hanging outside the ship.
The depht of the fjord is 89 metres.
But now we can stand on the frozen waterfloor, a very good feeling!
We already took the dogs on the ice. They seemed quite suprised: the world is even bigger...
The daylight is coming back now, from 10 till 14 hrs we are able to see the whole fjord.
We can see the seals resting on the ice, coming up through their breatingholes made with their claws.
Still the sun is not visible, to low on the horizon.


1 februari 2008

The 22th of december 2007 Noorderlicht arrived safely in Spitsbergen after
a very rough crossing from Norway.
This is the period of freezing-in the
ship in Tempelfjorden, and to get enough centimeters if ice on the fjord
to have the possibility to receive our guests onboard traveling with dogsledge or snowscooter.
I can tell you, it is not always easy to freeze in the ship. A lot of things can happen before
the ice is thick enough...
We already have tried two times in January 2008 now. The first attemp started very
well but ended with mild weather and a swell breaking up the ice. So we went
back to Longyearbyen, and waited for some more cold. It came soon and we
had a good start again. After a week the winds became so strong that a huge
iceflake broke off with us in the middle. We were able to come free ourselves
from the ice in this easterly storm, and with strong winds we arrived back in Longyearbyen.
This time we had company on the quay of anotyher sailingship 'Tara'. She
was in the packice for 510 days having scientic projects.
Now 'Noorderlicht' is ready for the third attemp.
Fully loaded with diesel, food and all things you need to spend some months
in the ice we will leave soon. Two Alska husky pups are running around on
the deck. A good company in this cold and dark time of the year.