Monday, 1 September 2014

Day 2, 22.08, Ny-Ålesund and Magdalenefjorden

Early in the morning we woke up to our first real day on this exploration cruise. The weather was a bit cloudy, but turned out to the better.
The origin of the Ny-Ålesund settlement was coal mining, but after a serious accident in 1962 mining was ended. Today the settlement is an international scientific station conducting Arctic research.
Ny-Ålesund was also the starting point for several attempts to reach the North Pole by planes and air-ships. Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are some of the historic names linked to this beautiful place. Several thousand tourists visit the settlement every year, most in the short and hectic summer.
Guided tours were offered around the settlement to those who wanted extra information by our guides to see the remnants of the old mining town and the different scientific stations. This was also the last chance to use the credit card on land until we hit Scoresbysund in NE-Greenland.
At lunch time it was time to leave Ny-Ålesund and head north to our next stop, Magdalenefjorden and 80N.
Enjoying a delicious lunch we passed Sjubreene aka the seven glaciers in beautiful weather.
In the afternoon we entered the fjord Magdalenefjorden surrounded by pointy peaks and glaciers and dropped anchor at Trinity harbour. It did not take much imagination to get the same feeling as Willem Barentz had when he discovered Svalbard in 1596.
Gravneset in Magdalenefjorden is a large cemetery, dating from the whaling period consisting of of 130 graves. The funerals took place over a period of almost 200 years, with the earliest graves dating from the early 1600s and the more recent ones dating from the late 1700s. On the beach by the cemetery there are four blubber ovens.
The expedition team are always the first to go ashore, to make sure everything is safe for our clients. Some went on a cayak trip while the rest had a good walk along the beach to look at the blubber ovens and have a closer look at the beautiful mountains and glaciers.
A colony of wahlrus had been discovered, so on the return to the ship everyone had a chance of a closer look to these lazy creatures weighing 1-2 tons.
During the evening we headed north towards Danskøya on our way to 80N. On our way we met the misty and mysterious fog.

The discussion onboard has been the tremors in a volcanic area in Iceland, but as we move out of coverage of the satellites we can’t do anything else but wait and hope for the best. At least the geologist onboard are very interested in this ;0)