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Two nights in the Russian settlement Barentsburg

Futuristic looking boat

9th August 2023

After our bumpy night in Tempelfjord we decided to play it safe an spend a night at an anchorage outside of Longyearbyen. It was a perfect way to get back on top and get a good nights sleep.
We then decided to visit the Russian settlement Barentsburg, which houses around 300 Russians, but at the peak there had been almost a 1000 citizens.
As we came to the floating pontoon we were greeted by some very friendly Russians in a big ice class yacht. They had been sailing for the last 2 years (rumour has it, that their boat has a sauna but we did not get an invitation).
We were soon followed by our buddy boats Yuma and Sarabande who had to raft on the ours and the Russian yacht as the floating pontoon only had room for 2 boats.

After having settled in we decided to explore the town. It is a strange place, where the houses are a mix of wooden buildings, some that look very plastic and some that looks like they are housing the super villains in cartoons.
We had planned to have dinner with the other 2 boats at the local hotel. We had the friendliest waiter who was eager to explain what some of the more exotic Russian dishes were and give us a taste of the classic Russian sour beer (which we had tried in Pyramiden and really did not enjoy). We ended up having a lovely meal with great company. 

After a tiny! double whisky and some fun trying to work out the strange doorway that was clearly a “disabled access” rather than access for the disabled” :rofl::rofl: we walked back to the boats for a good nights sleep so we could visit the museum and coal mine early the following morning.
That was how we thought it would go but at two am we were woken by the sound of the fenders and lines working hard on the boat on both sides as we had Yuma rafted next to us. Steve didn’t need help he said, so Sarah went back to sleep – or she tried to but the noise became worse and in the end it sounded like the boat was getting squashed and pulled apart. It always sounds more dramatic inside the boat, but when it gets to that stage it is serious. So Sarah stuck her head up to make sure everything was ok, and found Steve and David working hard with fenders, springs and mooring lines to keep the boats from crashing into each other and the pontoon. So without having time to put on real clothes Sarah was suddenly running around in her pyjamas. If she had been British this would have been a horrible situation as you should always be dressed properly, but as she is Danish she lacks those kind of manners!
At around 530 AM Sarah could go back to bed as it was somewhat calm and at 9 AM Steve finally felt certain that he didn’t have to adjust the lines any more. 

This was the worst night at a harbour ever, he said, especially because the pontoon had moved closer to the shore during the night.
So we all ended up staying another night and had the chance to visit the museum and go to the mine.
Almost half of the people in Barentsburg work at the coal mine and it is the only working mine you are able to go into.

 Sarah went with the Sarabande crew as Steve needed to sleep. When we were giving oxygen containers to carry around in case of emergency, Sarah was uncertain if she had made the wrong choice by going, but it was really interesting to hear about the mine. It is a very different mine as it is below sea level, while many mines are in the mountains.

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