Wednesday 27th June

Thu 28 Jun 2018 22:47

Wednesday 27th June 79:17 N 11:51 E

It must be noted that last night Peter won Quirkle with an all time high score of 154. His reward for this was to be on anchor watch so he had to get up several times to check the alarm. Consequently he was allowed to sleep in and the Birds 7 am alarm sounded much too early, especially as it was raining and windy. However, Patrick and I did get up, and Kirsty kindly made us some tea and cooked us a bowl of porridge as we slowly got ready. Five layers of clothing plus waterproofs and life jacket, buff, hat and gloves takes a while to put on. We set off under motor as we were headed straight into the wind, and Kirsty soon wasted her porridge on the sea creatures. Several hours later, after home made bread and jam and various combinations of sleeping and sailing, we arrived at Mollerhamna, having passed several glaciers en route.....somehow on a grey day we weren’t quite so touristy with our cameras. Patrick was busy referring to Tillman’s book “trials and tribulations” in which he writes of coming here in 1974 (aged 77) and climbing one of the hills. They looked too hard for us, let alone a 77 year old, but somehow I don’t think any of us are in Tillman’s league!

After a sit around the table and a singular lack of enthusiasm to move, we finally found some energy and Mary, Peter and I went ashore (it was a long way due to having to anchor far from shore) to look at the rock inscribed by Tillman’s crew with the boat name “Baroque”, and the small cabin called “Lloyd’s Hotel”. This dates from 1912 or 1925 and was originally built by the North German Lloyd Company, after the Zeppelin expeditions of 1910 and 1912 who were considering the area as potentially suitable for an airship base. It’s a charming place with numerous plates from various cruise ships adorning it, as well as food and candles and a home made chess set, with seats and blankets for around 4 people at a time. Not sure how it works when a cruise ship arrives with 400 people aboard. Back to the boat to enjoy Kirsty’s delicious carrot and orange soup with home made bread, then more changes daily due to wind and weather, and different combinations of people have a variety of ideas. Then I decided to make an apple and date crumble before writing the daily blog and a relatively early dinner. It was a delicious dinner of dal and rice with mango chutney and crispy onions followed by a third of the delicious crumble. Rations in force and for once human dustbin was not allowed to finish it off, as we want it to last a couple more dinners.

Tonight Virginia won Quirkle with a moderate score of 106. Thus she was on anchor watch....the anchor alarm didn’t go off at all as she set the radius sufficiently broad and we all had an excellent sleep.

Thursday 28th June

Guest author skipper Patrick....who offered to blog for us today.

A wonderful nights sleep for all with no anchor false alarms. Zero breeze all night. Thanks to Kirsty pre-emptively soaking the porridge we had a delicious breakfast with banana and maple syrup on our porridge whilst we discussed objectives, either move on to Magdalene Fjord or stay and go for a hill. The weather is fair to middling so we decided to give Kronprins Olavs Fjell (1006m) a go, and Peter generously offered to stay on board and watch Sea Fever. Suitably armed and provisioned we set off at 9.30 and made good progress. At 400m elevation Sea Fever was a speck in the distance. Across the Fjord we had good views of Tilman’s peak which is decidedly steep for a man of 77 years on his own. Possibly it had more snow 40 years ago, but a considerable achievement in any case.

We continued up steepening scree, hard going for me as I watched the ladies disappear up the hill at a firm pace. Eventually one of them (Virginia) took my rucksack as I was holding them up. Excellent snack stop at 58Om further improved matters. Next into a steepening snow gully, Mary leading impressively through deep and steep wet snow. A rocky perch at 850m marked our high point where we relaxed to brilliant views of Lillefjord calving in to flat calm waters. No wind at all and a trace of sunlight.

Descent began with timid steps retracing our way, then caution abandoned for a 300-400m glissade, ld by Virginia. Cold wet bums and big grins all round. Back at the beach at 3.30pm after an extra diversion through moraine and meltwater lakes, and a sighting of the elusive Svalbard Poppy and reindeer babies on the beach. Much needed tea, dahl and roti all round in a dry, warm and tidy saloon specially prepared by Peter. A quick departure followed prompted by (a) a rumour of pub opening night in Ny Ålesund and (b) a near miss with couple of large dirty ice sheets moving past close by.

Virginia continues at 00:30

After a windy sail (up to 25 knots with gusts of 30 knots) when Peter very much enjoyed his exercise and Kirsty and Virginia had a sleep, we sailed into Ny Ålesund (maximum speed Virginia at 12.2 knots). On arrival Peter executed a speedy reverse Viking raid on the Polish boat and we were soon alongside and within 20mins had found the pub (bicycles randomly parked outside was a giveaway). Virginia was pleasantly surprised by NOK 140 for 5 drinks and 5 hotdogs Norwegian style and so we continued with three rounds of the same. That was supper. We joined in the quiz and much to our surprise we won both rounds convincingly...sadly we lost on the final jeopardy question to the youngsters who knew the mother of Zeus’ children (on the 20 Euro note in 2015) . Suitably humbled we were soon sobered up by the brisk wind and bright light outside after the artificially darkened saloon. A great evening completed with crumble and custard back on board Sea Fever. Kirsty put us to shame by having a hot shower.

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