25 th of August Around Spitsbergen.
At least 1600 miles away from home; setting out from the utter end of civilization into the everlasting day of the arctic summer. Our engine kicks in we hoist the sails and set off for the wilderness; the last calls home, and the civilized world is rapidly disappearing in the enveloping fog.
Out here in the wild, one not only finds arctic flora and fauna, but also a few people.
The urge for people to visit this remote part of the world is very opportune; in a way the polar regions are the wild paradise of which we dream back home in our comfortable caves, but to endure the hardship during the long Arctic winter is a different matter altogether
Every year the Governor of Spitsbergen receives many requests for permission to winter in cabins. Quite a number of adventurers had to be rescued by helicopter in the past years; due to the harsh circumstances, physically and psychologically. Hence this year close to none are permitted to stay throughout the winter, but some are solely for scientific reasons.
Last night, by chance, we met Hauke and Marie and their dog Hey. A German - English couple who have been more than once on Spitsbergen during the winter. Robin Buzza, our expedition leader and an old acquaintance, invited them over for dinner on the Noorderlicht.
After dinner they enthusiastically told us what they have set out to do: They conduct research that will help to incorporate an unknown part of the Polar Regions CO2 cycle in climate models.
In short they measure the amount of CO2 transported from the open ocean (trapped in frozen seawater droplets) out onto the snow/ice cover in winter. He will set out every day to visit several plots in the vicinity to take measurements, while Marie will collect the meteorological data. The project from start to finish is initiated and executed by Hauke & Marie. The university of Hamburg will process the researched data, but their expedition
is completely self-funded and supporting.
Most intriguing to note is that their research-'station' is just a small yacht, filled to the rim with supplies.
Hauke, 67 years may be advancing in age, but the sheer motivation and willpower with which he pursues his ideas, will put most thirty-something to shame. In his words: 99% of any animal population stick to the beaten paths, but there is always the 1% who will wander far and wide.
Good luck to you and with respect,
the Noorderlicht crew
SAIL AROUND SPITSBERGEN 12 - 28 JULY 2010
Is there still a place on earth, untouched and as created,
Where nature showa her dominance and controls the work of man.
In northern climes Spitsbergen is close to this ideal, Where savagery and splendour coexist on the edge of time.
Throughout the short summer season flowers bloom in fertile zones. Colourful drifts of bog saxifrage, snow buttercup, yellow mountain saxifrage and moss campion brighten the inhospitable landscape while tiny patches of spider plant, nodding lychnis, Spitsbergen buttercup, hairy lousewort and others peep between the rocks and moss.
Ours was an unforgettable circumnavigation, especially the unique passage, under sail, through Ormholet. Our experience of the Arctic was heightened by sightings of 15 polar bears, Svalbard reindeer, arctic fox, inquisitive walrus, stately belugas and many species of birds including elegant ivory gulls.
We all take home many special memories of this unique and fragile land made possible by this wonderful ship and crew.
Christine and Judith