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We made it to Svalbard

Picture of the glacier at Svalbard

2nd July 2023

We set off from Bjørnya with amazing wind blowing 16 knots from East, giving us a good reach toward Svalbard. We had expected a 24 hour journey, but the current was giving us an extra 2 knots of speed so we were moving with a pace off around 8 knots most of the trip across.
We started out with a little bit of waves making the ride a bit rumbly and cooking was done in a 45 degree angle, which meant that we kept cooking simple.
We quickly got into the sleeping and on watch routine this time, though there wasn’t a lot to keep watch for – we felt quite alone. But looking at the electronic charts, we got a kick out of seeing how quickly we were moving towards Svalbard. It is weird that when you enjoy sailing, that you want to be moving towards harbour or anchorage quickly, but it is very satisfying to feel a boat in great speed and to having a beer/ a glass of wine/ whiskey after a great distance being done.
As we approach Svalbard we began to pick up AIS signals from other boats, we very curious but could not read much data on them yet. But we could see their MMSI number wasn’t the same, so there were several boats around us and shortly after we could see they were all part of our group.

Steve called the nearest boat on VHF, this was the German boat Flying Fish, who we had met in Tromsø who has caught up with us. Now we can see that one of the other boats around us is our friend Saphir. They have been a group of 3 boats sailing straight from Tromsø to Svalbard.
Arriving at the coast of Svalbard we are met by a wall of fog. This means that all we can see of the (supposedly great mountains) is the bottom. Luckily we have a very pixelated picture in the guide showing us what we were meant to see.
While the other boats continue toward Longyearbyen, we decide to drop anchor next to the Hans glacier. Sailing towards the anchorage is a surreal experience: the dense fog makes it difficult to see the difference between sea and sky so it feels like you floating in nothing and going round in circles. Suddenly you spot something that looks like a cloud ahead of you and you realise it is an iceberg. Around you birds keep appearing and disappearing.
We had planned to anchor at Isjørnehamna at Hornsund next to a glacier, so we are slowly floating along and looking at different charts on two devices, hoping they, and our gps fix is correct as we can see nothing!

Picture of placement at Svalbard from Google Earth

The wind has dropped to 2 knots and the harbour is somewhat protected, but we drop anchor next to several small icebergs. The cracking of the ice is very noisy below deck. Steve uses the opportunity to try his underwater recording instruments, which is a delaying tactic for avoiding servicing and changing the Watermaker filters. Until now we have mostly been able to get water at the harbours but now we have to make all our water with the water maker. Changing this filters is a hassle as it involves moving loads of gear we have aboard which makes Steve really grumpy and which makes Sarah wants to call him “STEPHEN” because he is misbehaving and grumpy. But after the job is done we can look forward to waiting a month (hopefully)before having that experience again.
Before calling it a night we check the weather forecast again to make sure the wind is staying calm as we really don’t want too much wind with icebergs floating around us. It all looks good and we expect the wind to pick up around 10 am the next morning.
But little can you trust the weather forecast and at 8 am we have to jump out of bed as the anchor alarm starts and the wind is blowing nearly 20 knots. Nothing is too urgent for an Englishman, so before moving on we start the day with cup of tea and toast with butter and an iceberg floating in our direction.
The fog has cleared and we can see our beautiful surroundings, while continuing further North.

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