May/June 09

19 th of June Noorderlicht is back in town!! Here we are, all tanks topped of with fuel and fresh water, every steel part painted and every wooden piece oiled. The crew has taken a long, hot shower and all clothes are washed. We're ready for sailing! A couple of days ago we got the message that a vessel from the Norwegian coastguard was in the area and willing to take us out of Tempelfjorden. Although we were waiting for that a long time, it still came as a surprise. We got quite used to the world around us. Along with spring, a lot of birds visited Tempelfjorden. Fulmars flew down from their cliffs and skimmed over the ice. Barnacle and pink-footed geese crossed the fjord together with the first puffins. On our walk to Fredheim, a trappers hut ashore, we saw a lot of fox traces in the snow. Late May the bearded seals started singing to attrack females. Since we had no generator running at night, we could hear those underwater songs perfectly well, while lying in bed. The breaking out went very smooth. In less than an hour the ice floor around us was broken in pieces and we were actually moving. So winter is really over now.


Noorderlicht is out of the ice!
With help of KV Svalbard she came free of the ice in Tempelfjorden.
She had just enough fuel to reach the harbour of Longyearbyen where she could finally fill up the water and diesel tanks.
Ready for the summer season!


1 June 2009

Summer trouble in Tempelfjorden

Tuesday 19th of Mai nineteen guests together with expedition leader Jan Belgers arrived in Longyearbyen to join the snowshoe-sailing trip on Noorderlicht. But the fast ice (50-70 cm) had a good grip on the ship. No way out of the ice from Tempelfjorden without the help of an icebreaker. The coastguard who helped us to break free from the ice the last couple of years was not in the area. A stranded ship on the south cliffs of Bear Island on the 11th of Mai took a lot of time from their schedule. The driving conditions (with snow scooter) from Longyearbyen to the ship started to be very poor. Due to higher temperatures melting water started run and form rivers. The coal-dust around Longyearbyen made the snow started to melt away very fast. Still we had good hope on getting free from the ice in short time. So the guests were made an alternative program out in Isfjordradio on the West coast of Spitsbergen. This is a former radio station out in the wilderness, which is transformed into an overnightaccomodation. For us a perfect place to pick up the guests as soon we got out of the ice. But the facts turned out different: No icebreaker showed up to break us out of the ice.... Out on Isfjordradio the group made snowshoe walks, around the radio station and to the other side of Isfjorden, to Trygghamna and Ymerbukta. The crossing of the fjord was made with Polar Circle Boats. They had a good sight of a walruses haul out nearby the radio station. But out in Tempelfjorden the hope faded away to pick up the group from Isfjord Radio, as we got the message that the icebreaker was back to the mainland, Norway... Origo, a Swedish motor ship, made time in their busy schedule to pick up our guests from Isfjord Radio to make an overnight trip in the fjords around Longyearbyen. I just heard the rumour that they spotted 4 polar bears! In the same time on Noorderlicht in Tempelfjorden the prospects were rather bad as the end of the fuel came in sight.. Saving fuel made the red line in the days. No heating in the day and nighttimes, only a few hours in the evening. No generator running in the nighttimes. We could put down the fuel consumption from 100 liter a day down to 30 liter a day. After a few cold nights in which the driving conditions improved for a short period (and in which we feared frozen pipelines without the heating running) we was able to get a little diesel supply out with scooter transport. Every liter of fuel was, and still is of great value! As everything on the ship is related, no generator running means no water maker running. So the ice from the glacier became the main supply to make the drinking water. And still no icebreaker...

14th of May

Mild, cloudy weather, plus 2 degrees Yesterday was a very very sad day in Tempelfjorden. One of our pups, Tundra, was run over by one of the leaving dog sledges. They are so used to run with the sledges a few hundred metres, when they are leaving. But this time the dog sledge made an unexpected turn. Her leg was so badly broken, and she was in such a big pain, that in consultation with the vet, we made the decision to take her away. She was such a nice dog....