March/April 13

From 22th of April the temperatures has been much higher than before.
In the nights we have between minus 6 and minus 12 degrees Celsius, but in the days we can feel the warmth of the sun,
with temperatures around zero degrees, and for some days even warmer..
Already a lot of snow is disappeared in Longyearbyen, but Tempelfjorden has still the white winter dress.
For two weeks we have extra help from Dries, he is doing his job orientation onboard 'ship in the ice'.
Good to have an extra hand, as we have many guests visiting for lunch and overnight.

And what an exciting day today, as we had 4 polar bears in the fjord!
Around lunchtime, the mother bear with her 2 cubs passed by the ship on 80 meters. We have spotted her before, but never so close!
Around 4 p.m a male bear passed by on the coastline.
Our guide Mikael had an observation from the day before, when the mother bear met the male polar bear.
Luckily he left her alone together with her cubs, and went to the other side of the fjord.
The mother bear is a good hunter, as we could find 3 spots with remains of a killed ringed seal.
Hopefully she will be able to protect her cubs against the male bear in the coming weeks...

18th of April Last Tuesday our evening guests arrived on snow scooter.
They went inside to warm up as there was a cold wind blowing.
The dog teams came in, just a little later, and then a polar bear showed up alongside the coast.
What a great surprise to see two cubs joining her!
Still so small, born in the end of December in the den, and leaving their winter home late March.
They came a little closer, but as soon as the mother saw how many dogs were making such a noise, she took a safer distance again.
Today we could see them again, scrawling in the fjord, 800 meters from the ship. A friend of us had seen some bloody spots in the fjord, so we hope she was able to catch a seal, as there were many ringed seals sunbathing on the ice today.

4th of April Beautiful and busy days in Tempelfjorden

The weather in March was great, blue sky and low temperatures. The barometer got a record of 1061 millibar!
A lot of nice guests from all over the world came to us by snow scooter or dog sledge. On one day we even had 80 lunch guests...

On the 25th of March we had a weather change: Wind and White-out. In the evening the wind picked up, and it snowed all night.
Good weather to do some knitting: as we had 'Knitting in the Ice' evening with all hardcore knitting ladies from Longyearbyen.
No problem that the departure was delayed due to the total whiteout, some more morning knitting...
All new snow made it possible to have the dog teams close to the ship, finally! On the 28th of March 6 dog teams arrived,
and the next day even 8 dog teams more!
We had 84 Alaskan Huskies around the ship. Our puppies, Ebony and Ivory, were very surprised to have so many friends on a visit.
Also some strange visitors: a biker in the fjord! I didn't believe it before I saw the lady parking her bike against our mailbox!
What a bike: the only 'two wheel drive bike' in the world! Christini bikes made this bike especially for Kate Leeming.
The biking on Spitsbergen is a test ride on all icy and snowy terrains, used as preparations for the main goal; a bike ride to the South pole.
After she showed us the bike, I was the lucky one for a small test ride! The wheels were 10 cm wide, went so easy through the snow.
Pyramiden is situated in Billefjorden, 60 Kilometers North of us. Pyramiden has been a ghost town from 1998. Before that mining was the business.
This year they got permission to open the hotel again. As they are our Northern neighbors we sent them an Easter surprise, one of the guides delivered it. More about the team in Pyramids’ in the next Live Report.

On the 2nd of April, Barbara arrived in Tempelfjorden. We were happy to welcome her!

Yesterday we even had some romance in the fjord, a marriage proposal on the ice!
Alex, one of our guests on dog sledge asked Eleanor to marry him.
Sixty-six Alaskan Huskies were witness to her answer: YES
A very good reason to open a bottle of Expedition Champagne..

8th of March Arctic Desert
Still very cold, the ice is growing and growing.
Not much snow on the ice yet, not for any reason Spitsbergen is called the Arctic Desert.
Not good for the dog teams which we expected last Tuesday.
The dogs normally sleep beside the ship, but with a lack of snow on the fjord ice, their paws will get too salty.
They are also used to eat snow, but if they will eat the very little snow on the ice, their body will get dehydrated.
At the start, the dog teams had a struggle with the weather on Tuesday, the wind was strong and the temperature low.
The actual chill factor was minus 50!
Too cold to drive dogs for 60 Kilometers in headwinds....
They did some training with the dogs in the area of Longyearbyen, and slept in the Gamna of the dog yard.
The next day the wind calmed down, and even some sunshine!
Twelve dog teams on their way to Tempelfjorden!
At arrival in Tempelfjorden, the dogs got a nice place in the fresh snow on the coast of Fredheim.
Only seven Kilometers to go to the ship.
We drove the snow scooters to pick up the guests at the dog camp. The guides stayed with the dogs, and slept in a small hut.
But also snow scooters are struggling if there is a lack of snow, as their engines are mostly cooled by snow.
Some of the scooters got overheated by driving on the ice, but with just a little delay everybody arrived at the ship.
Normally the dog teams stay at the ship for two nights, but this time the return was the next day.
From Fredheim, we watched the long line of dog teams crossing Sassendalen, with the sun above the mountains.

Last week was a great week.
Satherday 23th of February we had our first guests of the season.
They arrived in the darkness, we could see their scooter lights driving down from the mountainside, entering Tempelfjorden
The almost full moon was just above this mountain, what a beautiful scenery.
On the ice we made a small bonfire to celebrate their arrival, and our guests, from all over the world,
could appreciate the warmth of the ship after a cold journey.
Sunday 24th of February we had clear sky and around 12.30 am the sun came above the mountain.
To see the sun, for the first time after the dark period, made us cheerful!
Monday 25th of February the weather was white and windy.
Quite a job for Mikael and his 4 guests to drive in these conditions.
What a good surprise to see them entering the fjord!
They were able to deal with the strong winds, the cold and bad visibility, well done.
Tuesday 26th of February we welcomed the first lunch guests. Anders and Kaspar drove the track and Vemund guided the guests
towards the ship. The lunch guests are on a daytrip with snow scooter from Longyearbyen to the Tempelfjorden. They make a lunch break on the ship, to warm up and to be ready for the second part of their trip. If the conditions are well, they also drive towards the gacierfront, formed by Tunabreen and VonPostbreen.
Wednesday 27th of February, the second lunch group came aboard. Steinar guided the evening guests to the ship.
Temperatures are still cold, winds from Easterly directions.
Thursday 28th of February our chef Jackie arrived at the ship.
Our team is complete. Good to have her on the ship again.
Friday 29th of February Thea and Carlos brought the puppies Ebony and Ivory! Sitting in a bench full of hey, strapped on the scooter sledge, they arrived in good condition at the ship.
Their doghouse is placed on the deck, good to have them close by, and as we still have little snow on the ice, a nice place to play around.
Also time to start the PolarDogMail. Our friends Dickie and Cecilia found a nice piece of wood on the beach to install the mailbox on the ice. With these temperatures it was a quick job to freeze the wood in the ice!
Soon the dog teams will arrive, ready to bring the mail, written by guests, crew and guides, to Longyearbyen.
And from there delivered all over the world.
In the weekend the cold kept on, temperatures around minus 22. We even had two overnight guests from the Netherlands.
On Sunday we took the puppies for a walk. So cool to see how Cha-cha, Alaska Husky, was leading them to stay close with the group.
The ice at Fredheim is formed now. Soon we will have a second entrance to the fjord.
Today, with a temperature of minus 25 degrees and a strong blowing wind, a big pan of hot soup was needed to warm all our 40 lunch guests.
Late in the evening right now, still the wind is blowing strong and a little Northern Lights in the sky.