September15

voyage aurora borealis,
 18 september till 25 september
Mixed, international groups are great fun to work with and the past week proved no exception to the rule. Our 18 guests hailed from 11 nations and needed no time to gel with one another. Not even the weather forecast - calling for mostly overcast conditions throughout the week - was to affect the spirits aboard. In the end, both the weather and the atmosphere aboard proved much better than could have been expected.

We set off from Longyearbyen early in the evening with a few more hours of daylight to our first anchorage - the fjord of Trygghamna near the mouth of Isfjord.

Trygghamna never diappoints - this time around it was a dozen curious reindeer that would be a highlight of the morning landing. Shortly after lunch we set sails and headed out to open seas on a Southerly course. The weather improved with every mile and by the time we arrived at Recherchefjorden clear skies promised a first opportunity to see the Northern lights. We were not to be disppointed.

The following morning we set off for a walk to nearby Recherchebreen. Meanwhile a pod of 100 beluga whales passed our ship at arm`s length all the while singing their eerie songs. Upon returning to Noorderlicht it didn´t take long for the next highlight. Our first bear on a moraine off to the side of the glacier. The bear slept for the longest time but eventually got up to walk out of sight.

That afternoon the group visited a historic whaling site after repositioning to Fleur de Lys Hamna during lunch. The site proved so pleasant we decided to stay for the night.
The following day we headed over to Midterhuken to stretch our legs on a climb of Gosberget. In the afternoon we spotted our second bear of the trip in the lush tundra near the shoreline. The massif animal eventually moved towards our morning`s landing site - luckily we were already underway to our next destination. That night after a walk at Anna Hamna close to the place we want to anchor once again we see a bear. Rather than chancing an encounter we change our plans for a hike on that beach and decide upon a walk on the opposite shore.

On the way north the following day we were lucky with the wind allowing us to hoist the sails and spent the rest of the day sailing. Shortly after nightfall we arrived at Barentsburg, a Russian coal mining community with character and a brandnew brew pub we paid a visit to. The next morning, we were back in the great outdoors at Ymerbukta for a hike alomgside a spectacular glacier that repeatedly calved hugs blocks of ice into the ocean. With splendid weather and calm seas we resort to motoring into Skansbukta deep inside of Isfjord later in the afternoon. The next morning another tundra hike brings us up close to reindeer, geese, and a number of historic sites. In the afternoon we set course for Longyearbyen but intercept a small pod of big whales halfway. As it turns out, one is a hybrid blue finwhale.
We delebrate that last, spectcular sighting with a specialty candlelight dinner by our chef, Durk that night.  A befitting end to a delightful trip.
Cris Gnieser

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