23rd June Skansbukta

Fri 22 Jun 2018 20:14

23rd June Skansbukta

Introducing guest editor Mary......

The day started extremely early at the sound of the anchor drift alarm going off and the sight, spotted from both the aft and bow cabin by Virginia and Mary, of Peter in his £35 merino icebreaker underpants. We both decided he didn’t need any help and went back to sleep!

The day really began sometime later with the news that we had no gas. No morning tea, no cooking.....Unfortunately later in the day we still had no gas and also had no water - see below....but there was plenty of sunshine throughout the day. Beautiful mountains all around.

Team Bird set sail in the new dinghy to go ashore for an explore whilst team A tried unsuccessfully to solve the gas supply issue and decided that the new dinghy did not have enough buoyancy for anyone except three Birds and got the trusty old dinghy out and readied for action. Kirsty used the draught excluder that Peter E had kindly sent out for us with Mary to line the aft locker, which was “a satisfying job”. We don’t think Peter was very satisfied however as he tried all solutions to the gas problem and failed.

Team Bird returned after a success explore up the nearest valley with beautiful views and complete with a splendid moulted reindeer antler.
Team A then went ashore and with the benefit of advice took a rather better route to the gully and followed their footprints up the snow. We saw several species of flowers including Svalbard poppies and saxifrage plus snow buntings, unidentified small waders, geese and reindeer plus found several reindeer antlers which we stashed as markers for collection on our return trip.
Kirsty took the less snowy route up and then deployed her secret weapon of micro spikes to continue up to the col above the rock step. We had a fun descent down the snow and then manage to retrace our route and collect our stash before returning to the boat. After some punting to get into deep enough water to start the engine we returned to the boat, stored the second dinghy, enjoyed some popcorn and ginger tea cooked on the camping gas (still no gas) before setting off for Longyearbyen.

Our straightforward sail was interrupted by the noise of water spurting out across the cabin floor. Water pump off pronto but not before Patrick has reacted to the news from below by turning to shore and preparing to launch the dinghy. This all happened in zero visibility just off shore though luckily the fog cleared shortly after.

Peter and Patrick spent ages first locating the problem and then working out how to access it. In the middle of this a large pod of beluga whales - far more than yesterday - passed us about 500m away so we all downed tools for a few minutes. With help from Kirsty, and an architect’s input alongside an engineer’s, Peter and Patrick spent several hours working on the repair and eventually had to drill a hole through the back of the saloon bench to access the offending tap connection. Meanwhile Lizzie and Virginia sailed the boat and I finished off the mopping up operation.

The scenery as we motored towards Longyearbyen was stunning and includes both the hills that the intrepid Barents Sea team climbed on their ‘rest’ days.
The day is ending with a meal at Kroa due to no water or gas, still brilliant sunshine.

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