Day 13 |
Aug 13, 2012

Ice Cruising and Cape Fligely, Franz Josef Land, Russia 

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: N 82º23'08", E 057º15'05"
Weather: Overcast, snow flurries
Air Temperature: 0ºC
Pressure: 1001 hPa
Wind: 15 knots

Another historic day for the Silver Explorer – we reached the farthest north position that this ship has EVER reached!!!

Let me back up, though, and tell you about our day from the beginning….

Overnight, the ship had travelled north non-stop to find the edge of the sea ice. Reports from another ship had said that it was located about 82 degrees north, but when we reached that location there still was not any ice…so we kept sailing north. Eventually, we came across a small area with quite a few ice floes.

The entire Expedition Team was on the Bridge with binoculars looking out in hopes of finding a bear – and sure enough, at about 8am, Daniil shouted out the word we were all hoping to hear… “BEAR”. There was a lovely young bear strolling along a large ice floe. He was not at all disturbed by the ship, and actually came towards us as we drifted with the ice.

Everyone got bundled up in their parkas and gloves and hats and ventured out onto the decks for some wonderful views. After a half hour or so we continued on our way, letting the bear get back to…well…whatever bears do.

The Captain decided to continue a bit farther north to find even better ice, and hopefully more bears. By about 11am we decided to turn the ship around – we had reached 82 degrees 23 minutes North – the farthest north that this ship has ever been! Fantastic!!!

Our plan was to head a little bit south and find some open water and do a Polar Plunge with our guests. Just as we were about to stop the ship to drift, there was another bear sighting! It was another young bear – this time swimming in the water between ice floes. We watched as it clambered up and out onto a floe, then turn towards us. This one was particularly interested in us and when it saw us it got back into the water and swam right for us – getting out onto a floe just in front of us. It then put on a very endearing show of rolling around in the snow. Polar bears do this after they have been swimming to remove the salt from their fur and to ‘dry-off’.

After a while the bear seemed to get bored and it once again got into the water and this time, swam away from us. We did not follow, but reversed the ship, turned, and headed a bit farther away to a nice open water area for our next activity – the Polar Plunge.

I think this was one of the coldest plunges we have ever done – the water temperature was -1 degree Celsius!!! A brave 14 guests took the plunge, and about 15 crew also wanted to plunge into the seas above 82 degrees!

Since we were not arriving at our next destination (Cape Fligely) until later in the afternoon, we had our Recap & Briefing for the next day at 2:30pm. Within about 30 minutes of that ending, the Expedition Team was dressed again and standing by for the Zodiacs to be lowered.

Our goal this afternoon was to get everyone ashore at Cape Fligely- the northernmost land of Asia and Europe! And we did it! Nearly everyone took the challenge and loaded into Zodiacs for a brief 30-minute Zodiac tour of the bird cliffs and glaciers first, before being dropped off at a pebble beach. Form here they had to hike up a steep sandy hill to get to a very windy ridge – from here they could go either right to a memorial plaque, or left to higher grounds for an amazing view over ocean.

The wind was howling, the rain was being blown horizontally, but it was wonderful! A real highlight of this amazing trip through Franz Josef Land!!!