March/April 12

March, the struggling with the winter goes on. The first days of the month we had some guests although it was on relative thin ice. This is about 20 cm, thick enough to drive on, but still fragile for waves. After that, the mild weather and swell from the west broke up so much ice that we were situated only 100 meter from the water. The ice was in such a bad condition that we could not to receive guests for almost 3 weeks.
The last week of the month the cold and most beautiful weather came in, temperature minus 12 all the day and sunshine. Unfortunately not cold enough to let the (warm) seawater freeze but good enough for the old ice to grow a little.
Open for lunch and overnight again!
Due to very little snow on the ice, the dog teams had to camp on the coast of the fjord, in the deep snow. We picked up the dog mushers by snow scooter to have them onboard the ship. The guides stayed in the dog camp to take care of the dogs.
On the 1st of April a Northwest swell broke up the ice around us. We already expected it after seeing the weather forecast. But still it was very depressing leaving Tempelfjorden and mooring in Longyearbyen.
Next day we sailed back and after a check on the ice which was still left in the fjord, we made a sort of channel about 150 meters long with the chainsaw. So we could `park` the ship back in the ice. The high pressure keeps us doing our job, and also brings some life into the fjord. Beside the people we see, there is also more animal life over here. New born seals, often cruelty killed by glaucous gulls. Mother seals, often killed by one of the two polar bears which wandering in our small, by lack of ice, fjord. Walruses on the edge nearby and already quite some summer birds. One polar bear was so friendly for our quests to pay us a visit, though coming very close, finally did not dare to go on the gangway, what was fine after all, the captain thought.
We life by the day, or rather the weather forecast-day, as long as it stays quiet we can continue. But a windy day from the wrong direction can break the ice which has now a thickness of 25 cm, by swell and change the concept `Ship in the Ice` into `Ship in the Harbor`.
Still we are hopeful; we know it can be calm for weeks over here, and so far so good.

Ted

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