April/May 08

30 May 2008

Our first sailingtrip has started. 20 Dutch and English guests join Noorderlicht on a trip along the west coast of Svalbard. You will read a report of this adventure, writen by one of our guest.

Svalbard, early spring 2008.

The Nooderlicht is sailing south again after touching the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. This old, red scooner is our home during this wonderful trip in the waters and on the shores of Svalbard. Up in the North of Svalbard near the 80th degree latitude Gert, our captain, steered his ship into the ice in search of polar bears.

We have seen seals, foxes, reindeer, walruses and of course many species of birds, but Mr.Polar Bear is still hiding. Than suddenly in the middle of the chaotic ice cubes our enthusiastic guide, Christian, shouted and rang the bell, polar bear ahead! Everybody, already on deck, points his camera or binoculars at a certain spot somewhere far away between the ice floes. A nervous "where, where?" sounds on deck. A fast moving spot, definitely a huge polar bear. Some of us do spot him, others ask, "how did he look like?"

This two week sailing-snowshoe-trip on the scooner Noorderlicht in Spitsbergen is a special combination of wintersport and beach holidays. Sometimes it resembles a luxury cruise in comfortable and cosy cabins and great food of our cook Menthe. But we have also "hardships" in getting ashore climbing down into the zodiac at sea and getting out again where nobody debarked before. Hiking on snowshoes in kneedeep snow make you forget low temperatures and there is always something to find: remains of whale fishing a reindeers antlers, or the big footprints of polar bears.

One day the sun is shining, the next day wind and snow whip our faces. Outside the fjords on the atlantic waves people feel easily seasick. Christian hands out pills. In going ashore the mates Barbara and Jeroen take care that everybody comes across safely. Fears of getting in and out of the wobbling little boat disappaear quickly by a holding hand.

We finish our last walk near the Tempel mountain, deep in the Isfjorden. Impressive mountains and broad views on the mountains on both sides of the fjord. We can almost touch the curious reindeer and plod back to the zodiac through the last deep snow. Spring is back again in Svalbard. Birds are looking for a nice spot to nest in their favourite birdcliffs.

We leave tomorrow and have had a wonderfull time up here in the artics. Nature in it's purest form. Christian teached us to better understand the vulnerable balance in nature we have seen in this region. Lets keep it like that and have a good chance to see a polar bear nearby when we come back.

Anglo-Dutch Group, 20th - 30th May 2008.

Ernst van Beemen

20 May 2008

We are broken of the ice and back in 'citylife'.
Coastgardship KV Svalbard broke the 60 cm thick ice of Tempelfjorden and we could follow her out.
Not quite easy this year and also some ruderdamage was part of the operation...
But the repair is done with good help in Longyearbyen, and we are out now on our last day of the winterproject.
We are bringing 36 Alaska Huskies to Ymerbukta. There they will go on a dogsledgetrip in direction of 'Tre Kroner'.
Tomorrow the guests will arrive on Noorderlicht to join the first summertrip.
As i will join the dogsledgetrip, this will be my last 'winter live report'.
But you will hear the last adventures on the summersailing from crew and guests on Noorderlicht!

1May 2008

Dogs in Tempelfjorden
Our five dogs have 'some' company these days.
Ijsbrand, Kuling, Danse, Best and Tikka welcomed eighty Alaska Huskies and Greenland Dogs
on Tuesday.
Their dogmushers are twelve ladies from Dubai accompanied by three dogguides from Basecamp.
With this trip they raise money for the 'Breastcancer Foundation'.
Their clothing is mainly pink and even some dogs are wearing a pink skerf!
Yesterday they drove the dogs from Longyearbyen to Tempelfjorden.
Today the day was spent in Tempelfjorden. All dogteams drove to the glacierfront in beautiful sunny weather.
After the trip the dogs were happy to take a rest in the sunshine.
We served an orange coctail on the deck to celabrate
the dutch national day 'Queensday'.
Tomorrow they head back for Longyearbyen.
It is midnight right now, everybody has hit the sack.
Looking through the window I see all dogs curled up in the hey on the ice.
The sun is still shining on the mountains....

25 April 2008

Midnightsun & technical trouble
Satherday was the first day with midnightsun!
The sun will be above the horizon till 23th of August.
Unfortunately not only sunny news; the watermaker broke down last week.
As you could read in the last LIVE REPORT we are depending on this machine for our drinkwatersupplies...
But the new pump is ordered and will arrive in two weeks.
Till this date we have to deal with the water which is still in the tank, not so much i can tell you.
But things work out well: all the guides coming in for lunch and overnight bring water in thermoboxes and jerrycans .
For the dogs and cleaning we melt glacierice from the glacier in our fjord.
We have to drink beer instead of water, I am sure we will manage.


8 April 2008

Water, diesel and ice

The difference with sailing in summertime, where we can take water and diesel every time after a trip in Longyearbyen, is that we now have to deal with nearly 5 months without supplies.

Originally the capacity of the watertanks was about 30.000 liter, divided over 6 tanks. But already from the beginning we did not use the 2 tanks in front, this was because the ship heals to much over, on a way that is not good for the sailing. The 4 other tanks have enough capacity for one summertrip around Spitsbergen. The use in summer is about 1000 liter a day. Capacity of the now used tanks is about 24.000 liter.

We placed a watermaker for the winter, this works with the osmose principle. That a sort of pulls the seawater through a number of filters and the final filter permits only the watermolecules to go through. The water is pure and taste well, a kind of soft.
The watermaker should make about 1600 liter a day. It probable will by a 'normal' watertemperature. The capacity drops with the temperature and dramaticaly when its under plus 4 degrees Celcius. Here we deal with about minus 1 degrees Celcius and with the pumps on a maximum speed and the water as much heated as I could possible fix, it makes 500 litres a day. It is just enough, thanks to the fact that the Norwegian generally think it is not good to take a shower every day in the cold, you wash away the natural protecting grease.
We also give the laundry with the guides to Longyearbyen, and the captain is very keen on the rest of the crew not to spil water.

For the diesel, we use as extra for the winterperiod the former watertank in the front, which brings the total amount on about 18.000 liter diesel. We use for heating and electricity about 110 liter a day. This is for one of the 3 generators, (always one is running), and the two centralheating systems. In the beginning of the freezing-in period we often have to use the head-engine too. This to keep the ship in position when the ice is moving or just dissapears by wind or breaks up by swell.

The ice in the fjord is generally steady when thick enough. At this moment the ice is more than 50 cm and still growing, and apart from the earthquake not moving. So it will not do much harm to the hull. We had some damage on the hull, but that happened in the harbour in Longyearbyen two years ago, when we were waiting for the ice in the fjord, and a floating icefield came in the harbour with the tide. We were pushed hard to the quayside because of the pressure. The icebreaker of the coastguard was closeby and could free us.


4 April 2008

Newborn in Tempelfjorden!
Today, the 3th of April, we found a newborn ringed seal on the ice in our 'garden'.
The sealpup had a beautiful white fuzzy coat and was reguarly checked by the mother from her breatinghole.
(They create or maintain their holes in the ice using the well developed claws on their fore-flippers)
This will probably be the start of the 'baby-seal-boom' because peak birthing occurs in Svalbard in early April...