Tuesday 3rd July Bjornhamna 78:23.6 N 16.50.9 E

Tue 3 Jul 2018 17:29

Tuesday 3rd July Bjornhamna 78:23.6 N 16.50.9 E

Mary as guest author today.

My day started at 2.30 with the alarm for my next watch to join Kirsty and relieve Peter. We were now sailing up Sassenfjorden towards Tempelfjorden and the Tunabreen glacier having a great sail and storming along when the wind picked up. We passed an unexpectedly large group of cabins at Vindodden - obviously the weekend retreats of Longyearbyeners. It was grey and overcast where we were and we looked back at the sun on the Tryghamna side of Isfjord with envy. We approached the anchorage at Byonahamna about 4am and with Patrick dragged from his bunk we entered the bay with caution ready to anchor. It all looked very bleak and unwelcoming with huge scree slopes below spectacular but menacing ‘western’ like cliffs. An American yacht was already in the bay which slightly reduced our options but we managed to avoid the shallow spit, the American boat and find a good anchorage in slightly deeper water than ideal.
With Patrick nobly on anchor watch Kirsty and I retired for a sleep at about 5am 💤🙂.

A few hours later ....... and a dramatic transformation had taken place. We emerged from our bunks to full sunlight in a tranquil bay in spectacular scenery. A huge shingle beach below the now magnificent cliffs. A very satisfactory place for a leisurely day exploring. Porridge on deck started the day well.

Patrick, Virginia and Mary were in the first ashore and spent a happy 😊 morning walking across the beach and tundra looking at familiar and some new species of flowers and watching the fulmars and kittiwakes nesting in the cliffs. They are very noisy!! We also enjoyed the easiest fossil hunting of Patrick’s career with metre-square blocks of Carboniferous limestone stacked full of broken shells. We also found good specimens of brachiopods and rincanella. Amazing to think these rocks are very similar to the rocks at Chrome Hill in the Peak District. We didn’t see any reindeer on our trip but Virginia did find a dead snow bunting chick - no sign of any trauma so hopefully a peaceful end. After a quick snoop of the two cabins on the beach (covered by CCTV monitoring no less) we returned to the boat for a slap up lunch before the next shift ashore. Wraps on deck were welcome. Even for those who had sneakily tucked into eggs and Longyearbyen baked beans in our absence. Nothing get past Virginia on this boat.

Group B (Virginia, Kirsty and Peter) came back from a longer walk which included busy photographers, dead animals, watching reindeer, a paddle on the beach (icy but pleasant) and magnificent views in all directions to bird cliffs above and glaciers across the bay. We brought 3 reindeer with us who are currently grazing gently near the cabins whilst we graze popcorn.

With a bit of passage planning done for the next few days we are ready to move to Longyearbyen tomorrow ready to pick up Lorna and Daniel for the next leg of this epic trip.......

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