Day 8 |
Aug 08, 2012

By Uli Kunz – Oceanographer and Zodiac-Driver

Position: 73°04’ N, 50°26’ E
Air temperature: 5 °C, 41.0 °F
Water temperature: 4 °C, 39.2 °F
Air pressure: 1001 hPa
Wind speed: 55 km/h

Looking outside the window in the morning, it was hard to believe that we are sailing towards one of the most remote places on our planet… the sun was shining, the wind was light and the ocean shimmered in colours of turquoise and blue. What a pleasant ride to the Arctic!

Our historian Peter presented his lecture about one of the early explorers who pioneered sailing to this remote part of the world, the famous Dutchman Willem Barents. After some trips to the warm waters of the Mediterranean, Barents turned to the far North and sailed beyond the known borders of the sea charts of Norway and Russia. During his adventures, he not only discovered Bear Island and Spitsbergen, but also survived the first overwintering of such an expedition at the northern end of the ‘New Land’, Novaya Zemlya. Attacked by Polar Bears and fighting off mutinies, he successfully finished two expeditions but perished during his third one. An extraordinary historical tale that took place in the very same waters through which we are sailing on our own expedition on a luxurious cruise ship to the Arctic…

After a cooking demonstration by our Executive Chef Christian (who prepared the famous and tasty ‘Graved Salmon’ with a lot of salt, some herbs and 2,000-year-old honey from an Egyptian grave) I went out on deck to watch the seabirds flying around the ship and to look for dorsal fins of any species of whale… A fast Minke whale literally flew by (the species is normally very uncooperative and changes direction under water so you have never a clue where the animal shows up next) and close to the horizon we could see a dark spot which was likely to be a fin whale, but regarding our speed and distance to our next destination we could not afford to make a huge deviation from our course. A lot of our guests were sitting on the aft deck in the bright sunshine, enjoying their day at sea, hot chocolate, green tea and a tasty hot dog every now and then.

Today’s quizmaster during the Afternoon Tea was Peter ‘Ernest’ Damisch who gave us a number of difficult questions about history and the great explorers.

In the afternoon, our Expedition Leader Robin West presented our plans for the next day in Novaya Zemlya. Everybody was very excited about our plans for our first landing in the Russian Arctic: No nuclear weapons, but an abandoned meteorological station with a big glacier nearby. Sounds good…

Our onboard photographer Richard Sidey had edited a short excerpt from his movie about our voyage and screened it after the briefing in The Theatre. It was a nice trip down memory lane and it gave everybody a good idea of how the final movie will probably look like once we have had spectacular sightings of polar bears and hopefully walrus…

After our guests enjoyed the Venetian Society Cocktail Party followed by the Venetian Society Dinner, we invited them into the Panorama Lounge for our special Liars Club! It was the time for our guests to find out about the Expedition Members ability to lie… or to tell the truth.

Did you know that the word ‘Lavacultophilia’ describes an obsessive disorder of humans that have to clean their skin permanently, which means they shower sometimes up to 100 times a day? Or maybe that’s not true…? Let the audience decide!