Day 12 |
Jun 16, 2010

Cruising The Fjords En Route To Magaroy Island, Norway

By Christian Walter, Historian

Co-ordinates: 70° 05’ N, 20° 57’ E (at 15:30)

Weather: mainly cloudy, slight wind

Air Temperature: 17, 6C

Pressure: 1009

During the previous evening and night we had only briefly entered “open waters” after the Andfjorden, therefore our cruise through the northern fjords was a very calm one.

While I had a light breakfast in the Observation Lounge, Kara joined, as she had been told by the Norwegian pilots that muskoxen could be seen on a small island south of Tromso. Getting closer to Tromso we looked, but there was no sign of them.

In the distance we could see the two bridges that connect the town to the mainland and to Kvaloy (Kval Island). The top of ski jumps were visible just above the airport, and quite a few planes took off or landed while we went by.

In the meantime Stefan had set up his talk about earthquakes. One of the interesting statistics implied that every year we have one major earthquake above 8 on the Richter scale, 14 earthquakes between 7 and 7.9, and 140 between 6 and 6.9. Although the Haitian earthquake earlier this year had caused more than 220.000 deaths (one of the deadliest ever recorded), the earthquake in Chile (February 27) with ‘only’ 507 deaths was far worse if we look at the intensity- 8.8 on the Richter scale. That made it the fifth worse recorded ever.

No siesta was allowed, as Kara gave her talk “A Comparison of the Polar Regions”. The animals we consider emblematic for the north (polar bears) and the south (penguins) only get to ‘meet’ in zoos, never in the wild.

While Stefan recorded the result of the world championship soccer game between Switzerland and Spain, I repeated my talk about “Early polar exploration” in Spanish to our Spanish fellow travelers. When I had finished, the game was not yet over, and to our surprise, our Swiss guests had big smiles on their faces: their team was winning.

During recap I presented another “International Enquirer”, but it was Kara with a BBC-“documentary” who had the most laughs –flying penguins migrating to South America’s rain-forest. Victoria and Peter had Vikings and Roald Amundsen as their topics, while Chris Cutler talked about Norway’s special dogs. Robin gave a preview of tomorrow, and Stefan repeated the relevant information in Spanish.

Dinner started slightly later than expected –the recap had taken more time than normal- and eventually the evening ended on a special note: “Liar’s Club” was reigning in the Panorama Lounge. Truly strange words were presented in four different ways by fellow lecturers, and the audience had to vote for whoever sounded less unlikely in his explanation.

Those in Zodiac groups four and one retired a little earlier, as they were expected to go on a Zodiac cruise at 08:00 tomorrow morning. Thus ended another day of our expedition to Svalbard.