Saturday 29th June

Sun 1 Jul 2018 19:00

Saturday 29th June

A joint blog by Mary and Virginia today.....

16:45 and a quiet boat, Peter helming in 10 knots of wind and Mary on walrus watch....the Sysselmannen yesterday promised us sightings in Richard’s Laguna and we are headed that way on a run, making some headway. Gone are yesterday’s biting winds although it’s never warm here! The mountains and glaciers are tantalisingly hidden by a bank of grey cloud at 400 m, with bright sunshine on what snow we can see. Patrick and Kirsty are napping as we have a possible night sail ahead of us.

Today started with the 0700 alarm due to the Polish boat inside on the pontoon wanting to get away at 0800. So we left first and then came back alongside, expertly reverse parked by Patrick this time, having the pontoon to ourselves. Thanks to Peter’s fastidious job on the electric cable, we now have electricity....he has also fashioned a plastic covering for the switch panel which let us down earlier in the trip. Personally I don’t hold out much hope for that lasting as it’s made from an Asda plastic bag...the Waitrose one has already succumbed to a split. This was what kept him busy yesterday whilst Mary and I cooked and Patrick and Kirsty slept. It was a bitterly cold and windy day and even walking to the toilet block was a chilly experience. However, today dawned better, although I think it actually improved when we went to bed as the sun was out then!

After breakfast of porridge and home made bread Virginia, Peter and Mary went for a grovel (aka walk) up zeppelinfellet. On our way we disturbed a beautiful bird sitting on four spotted blue green eggs, laid in a ground scrape in the gravel. Looking up in our arctic guide it could be a purple sandpiper (from its behaviour) or a dunlin (from the colour of its eggs). As Virginia disturbed it it performed a rodent run, darting across the tundra with both wings stretched out so that it resembled a lemming - which would make it a purple sandpiper. We moved away rapidly. But what a moment!

As we approached the mountain we took what looked like the least steep ascent up the scree, alongside a snow gully. This is where the grovelling comes in. Peter did brilliantly carrying the gun whilst Mary and I were using our hands to help ourselves up. Once on the ridge (500m in just over an hour) we had a wonderful view down to the snowy valley beyond and saw a line of footprints (very straight, one small feet and one large feet....two people, a bear and cub, who knows?) up to the snowy col. We descended in around 15 minutes, tentatively at first down the snow and then abandoning caution and glissading rapidly to the bottom. We are getting quite au fait with the tundra and mining area and took a direct line to the nearest track back to the village.

Our lunch (ace lentil soup from Virginia) was interrupted by the arrival of Oriole so we helped them come alongside the pontoon before completing lunch. N.B. Their arrival was in far less style then either Peter or Patrick’s. We saw another red phalarope in the harbour, such a pretty bird!


We left Ny Ålesund in sunny but cold weather and motored west towards Forlandsundet to continue our journey south. Turning onto a course of 190 we were able to sail first on a beam reach and then a run towards Richard’s Laguna. We are now motoring again in less than 5m of water hoping to spot some more walruses. A possible sighting of a polar bear turned out to be a white plastic container. It did move, honestly! Later on we saw another pod of belugas which seemed to move quite fast through the water. We were on blue whale watch as they had been spotted south of the spit. Peter made some cuppa soup and I have to admit it was as good as mine, and warmed me up til my fingers were tingling. It’s a battle to keep warm on the boat, we are on watch for 3 hours each in pairs, with a changeover half way through the shift so we get a change of company. In between watches some of us sleep, blog and cook (the girls) whilst the others (the boys) keep an eye on the navigation and other things boaty. Dinner is brewing now, beans and tuna, with olives, feta and macaroni. I’ll be off watch in a bit and keen to warm up down below. We plan to anchor in a sheltered bay in an hour or one all that keen for a night motor. All that wind from the last couple of days has disappeared completely!


After anchoring in a quiet little bay at 10 pm we were rather surprised by the arrival of another yacht who went even further in. Within minutes we had supper and warmed up nicely with the heater on, gradually taking off a few hats and jumpers. Delicious pasta followed by crumble (yes, it’s lasted three dinners with careful portion control) with Norwegian custard (superior to Birds eye!) and chocolate and a couple of games of Quirkle, the first won by Peter and the second by Kirsty and Patrick.

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