30 April 2009 Sunny days and polar bears! Already from Easter we have beautiful sunny weather. Blue sky and you can feel the warmth of the sun in the face. But in the night time the thermometer drops to minus 20 degrees, which makes April 2009 the coldest April in the last fifty years!! Quite some polar bear visits during the last weeks. One Polar bear we saw passing by while sitting on the breakfast table, best breakfast ever. The most spectacular one was a night visitor, this night we had 24 Alaska Huskies sleeping on the ice beside the ship. At 4 o'clock in the morning I woke up by loud barking of all the dogs. As I came outside I could see why they was barking: a polar bear was coming closer and closer. Everybody rushed outside on the deck in pyjamas. The bear came as close as 1 meter from the dogs! Not aggressive, but very relaxed he looked at the dogs. Then he trudged on, destination unknown. The dog most close to the polar bear, Margo, happens to be one of the shyest dogs. Since this visit she is barking in a very strange way, probably still in shock... Maaike
Sunday 5th of April 2009
Clear, sunny and cold, minus 23.8 degrees Celsius. Some beautiful sunny days in a row now, so enjoyable after the snowstorm last week. Almost 24 hours of daylight, the sun is 17 degrees above the horizon. Since we had the start of POLAR DOG MAIL last year, the dog sledges transported a lot of mail from the ship into Longyearbyen. Our guests can write postcards or letters with a ship stamp and Polar Dog Mail mark. The mailbox is outside on the ice.... Last Wednesday we had a big celebration: from the 1st of April 2009 we have an official postmark from Norwegian Postern! Hot chocolate was served out on the ice, all the dogs were wearing a red ribbon. In the evening a toast with Champagne when we handed over the first envelope to one of our guests. The dogs will have a heavy job next time they come, the postbag is almost full! Ted left the ship and is back in Netherlands. For one week we had help from the Basecamptrainee Daniel. Barbara arrived the 30th of March. Quite some polar bears in Tempelfjorden last weeks, even a mating couple was observed. Also some technical trouble was our part. The baking oven broke down, on which we depend for baking the daily bread. The spare part was 'somewhere' in the post between the Netherlands and Spitsbergen. Lucky for us, Anders, one of the guides, is an educated electrician and he could fix the oven. Maaike
March 22 2009 Today started quite white and snowy but at 10 o'clock the weather cleared up and changed into blue sky and sunshine. Temperature minus 17 degrees Celsius. Last weekend we had the first days of sunshine this season after a lot of grey and white days with bad weather. So I looked forward to a nice and sunny ride to town last Monday but then the weather turned white again. My mission to drive to town was to pick up two puppies so I did not care too much about the weather. After arriving in the dog yard we decided also to take Frø to the ship. She is a 10 years old Alaska Husky and ready for retirement. So with the three dogs in the bench on the sledge I drove through the white back to the ship. For the puppies it was so nice to have the company from Frø in the bench, they even fell asleep during the trip and had no stress at all. We arrived safely at the ship in the evening. Tuesday Rafael started with 4 dog teams from town mushing to the ship. A white day again but not so much wind and as he had quite experienced drivers, the trip went smooth. (Two of the dog drivers have their own team of Siberian Huskies in England!) At the same time we also had Polish guests coming in with snow scooters and Tobias as their guide. This weekend the weather was beautiful again. Quite some snowscootertraffic in the fjord, a lot of people enjoyed a trip out in the field. Two polar bears passing by during lunchtime on Satherday, it made our day! And the puppies, Tundra and Sandur, are doing their very best to charm all the people coming aboard.
9 March 2009 Although the NE-wind was very very strong, the dog teams made it out to Tempelfjorden last Tuesday. Eight dog drivers with 48 Alaska Huskies were capable to mush their dogs into the heavy winds and snowdrift. After unharnassing and feeding their dogs, the drivers came aboard, very tired after the long day. A drink was what they were longing for, as well as to sit down, to relax arms and legs. Luckely the wind had calmed down the next morning.