Thursday 28th June

Sat 30 Jun 2018 09:03

Thursday 28th June

Back to Kirsty....

Waking up to the howling wind and being aware that the large steel yacht beside us was also still hiding from the weather, indicated that a slow day was on the cards. Not a bad thing if your boredom threshold isn’t too low. (So that means Virginia struggled more than most....)

Not that the boredom had a chance to set in as we had a steady stream of visitors and other folk on the pontoon to chat to. Firstly our pub buddy from last night, Rory McDougall from Oban, via Norway, dropped by to chat to us about his rocket launcher construction project and the research into northern lights that this facilitates as well as giving us some interesting chat about how the Ny Ålesund works as a community. He left promising to return after lunch to take us on a wee tour.

A few minutes later, the Sysselmannen police appeared, courteously taking off their boots before coming in. Old school policing was carried out over a cup of ‘proper English tea’ as requested by Matts, as he’d always wanted to try tea as the English do it. They had had coffee with the Poles next door too and were clearly enjoying a dryer day after getting cold and wet yesterday out in a wild wavy Forlandsundet counting walruses and spotting a huge blue whale. Their remit is both field work and policing. They live in the tiny huts around the area and are on a 2 month summer posting, with 4 other colleagues in 2 pairs in other patches in Svalbard. Each pair has one policeman and one person with another profession, in this case an outdoor guide but often biologists. Their job is very varied and very much ‘out there’ in the wilds both policing the humans and the natural world e.g. doing bird surveys. They were both enthusiastic and pretty understated although they did show us some video of yesterday’s wild sea in their open topped boat. One of them had watched our high speed reverse parking in the wind last night and was impressed with Peter’s skills. All they wanted to see was our permit and check that were were what we had said in our permit application. They could tell us lots of bear stories and apparently there are lots of bears around this year. There was a bear came through Ny Ålesund before we arrived yesterday. We also mentioned the crunched up and well eaten reindeer carcass with fishing net in it’s antlers we had spotted in Mollerhamna that could only have been eaten by a bear. They were very interested to see photos of that and noted to go and check it out themselves. (Points to Kirsty for taking the photo!)

A short break later Rory was back to take us on a tour of his rocket launch pad and a wee drive around all of the local roads. Happy architect tourist gets to see a construction site. The outcome will be that working with NASA as a partner, 4 rockets in 2 locations will be launched max. 90 seconds apart and head 1400km up into the sky, missing the many satellites that lurk 400-600km up. The Norway ones fly up over the North Pole and the Svalbard ones head up and over near Jan Mayen. Flight path and shipping exclusion zones are also created. I can imagine everyone holding their breath for everything to line up so the launch can take place. Something to google once we get back into internet world and a new Scottish friend.

Other than that, some pontoon and neighbouring boat blethering by Peter, Patrick and Kirsty, much cooking by Mary and Virginia gives a mellow day. All this social interaction underlines how lucky we are to be here for a while, soaking up the atmosphere. Around 40-50 yachts arrive here every year with all other visitors coming on the cruise ships who are allowed a max. of 4 hours alongside. No visitors are able to come up for people who work here - Rory’s wife has never been able to come up to visit.

Sent from my iPad