0/0

Day 1 - June 25, 2012 - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard 

By Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Co-ordinates: N 78º14'01", W 15º36'33"
Weather: Alternating overcast and sunshine
Air Temperature: 3ºC
Pressure: 1004 hPa
Wind: 15 knots


Today is always both a sad and happy day. Sad due to the departure of all of both our new and returning friends who had sailed with us in Iceland, then on to Jan Mayen Island and Svalbard. We said our goodbyes throughout the morning before our guests had to depart to the airport.

In all other ports around the world, there is sometimes some free time for the Expedition Team. However, this is rarely the case in Longyearbyen. As usual our entire team travels to the shooting range located on the mountainside above the airport, just outside of town.

Although four of us, including myself, are the ‘official’ polar bear guards, the remainder of the Expedition Team also goes out to the range to receive refresher training with high power, long range rifles. This ensures that our team members are recently trained, the rifles are test-fired and the ammunition is current. Of course this is for safety in the unlikely event that a polar bear unexpectedly wanders too close onto our landing site.

We do see bears on virtually every voyage, often quite close up, but these encounters are accomplished from the safety of the ship or during a Zodiac cruise. In addition, we have a lengthy procedure that is scrupulously followed to ensure the safety of a landing site before landing anyone ashore.

As is normally the case, our rifle training consisted of a review briefing followed by shooting from 3 different positions; lying down, kneeling and standing. In addition, we conducted quick reaction drills to further polish up our skills.

Soon enough it was time to return to the ship to prepare for the embarkation of our new guests for this voyage to the land of ice in Svalbard. To ensure maximum use of our time in this beautiful area, we scheduled a very full afternoon of activities such that we can commence with our landing operations ashore tomorrow. After their charter flight earlier in the day, and after passport and security photographs were completed, guests could enjoy a fine lunch in The Restaurant.

Everyone had a bit of time to relax and unpack before given the chance to borrow rubber boots from the ship’s supply. Virtually all of our landings in this remote region are onto exposed beaches, something we call a ‘wet landing’. No one actually gets wet but rubber boots are a must as hiking shoes are insufficient to keep one’s feet dry.

Soon thereafter the Expedition Leader and Officers from the Silver Explorer were in The Theatre going through the standard Safety Briefing and Lifeboat Evacuation Drill. We have always conducted such operations before departure and today was no different. I assisted guests with trying on of their lifejackets before guiding them out of The Theatre to their boat stations.

Since all guests had already collected in single location, we also took the opportunity to conduct the Zodiac Safety Briefing. This presentation is quite important since it reviews safe operations on the Zodiacs that we utilize to shuttle to and from the Silver Explorer to our remote landing sites, which are unreachable by virtually any other mode of transportation.

Just before dinner, Robin, our Expedition Leader, invited everyone to The Theatre to introduce some of the Department Heads. Then the Expedition Team, including myself, had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to our new guests and future friends on board. In short, I’ve been going to sea and driving Zodiacs for more than 40 years, guiding in remote areas for more than 30 years and have been with Silversea Expeditions since their inaugural season.

Typically I would next be out on deck as the ship sailed away from Longyearbyen down a long fjord ringed with snow-capped and glacier-cladded mountains towards the west coast of Spitsbergen. However, on this occasion, one of our guests had one of their suitcases mislaid in Oslo. Fortunately our Captain and Expedition Leader were able to re-adjust our departure schedule to see if the bag might come in on a later flight, then increase ship’s planned speed to allow us to reposition the ship overnight such that landings can begin on the morrow. Everyone on board is looking forward to see if we can observe polar bears!! 
 
Tag 1
25. Juni 2012
Longyearbyen
Von Christian Walter, Historiker


Wetter: Wolkenverhangen, vereinzelte blauer Himmel, leichter Nieselregen gegen 14:30 Uhr

Nach unserem gestrigen Ankern in der Bucht vor Longyearbyen wurde der Anker gegen 06:30 Uhr gehoben und wir gingen an die Pier. Da das Bugstrahlruder genutzt wurde, brauchte ich nicht auf meinen Wecker zu achten.

Das Frühstück konnte in Ruhe eingenommen werden, denn unsere Gäste der Reise 7214 würden erst gegen 09:30 Uhr aufgerufen werden, um ihren kurzen Besuch des Städtchens vor dem Abflug nach Oslo absolvieren zu können und das Team suchte sich verschiedene Positionen auf der Pier, um sich von den abreisenden Gästen zu verabschieden.

Zur Abwechslung, und um unseren neuen Gästen mehr Sicherheit während dieser Expedition bieten zu können, ging es danach auf den Schießstand oberhalb des Flughafens, um sich mit drei verschiedenen Schusswaffen vertraut zu machen –falls wir tatsächlich einmal einen Eisbär vertreiben müssten…

Zwei Gruppen hatten sich zum Üben gemeldet. In meiner Gruppe waren unsere beiden Bärenwächter Chris Srigley und Karolina Karas, sowie Expeditionsleiter Robin, seine Frau und Assistentin Jarda, Stefan Kredel, unser Geologe, Kapitän Alexander Golubev und ich.
Wir fuhren an dem „Seed Vault“ (=dem Reservoir für Samen aus aller Welt) vorbei, mussten dann aber am Schießstand warten, weil mehrere Studenten der UNIS Universität auch üben mussten.

Schon aus der Ferne konnten wir erkennen, dass die SAS 737 mit unseren neuen Gästen kurz vor 13 Uhr gelandet war, und für die meisten Mitglieder des Teams hieß es, sich auf die Einschiffung vorzubereiten.

Ich sortierte die Bücher der beiden Bibliotheken an Bord, und begab mich dann zur öffentlichen Bibliothek Longyearbyens, um dort ins Internet zu gelangen- doch leider versagte nicht nur der Anschluss an Bord, sondern auch in Longyearbyen.

So war ich rechtzeitig vor 15:30 Uhr wieder zur Säuberung und Verteilung der Gummistiefel an Bord.

Der restliche Nachmittag wurde für die obligatorische Rettungsübung, die Zodiac-Einweisung, die Vorstellung wichtiger Mitarbeiter und des Expeditionsteams und ein Treffen zur Besprechung der Route unserer Reise nach Tromso genutzt.

Auf dieser Reise hatten wir 32 deutsch-sprachige Gäste an Bord, sodass wir alle öffentlichen Versammlungen und Treffen entweder zweisprachig machten, oder wir uns (wie in den meisten Fällen) speziell in der Observation Lounge trafen, um die wichtigen Dinge oder später Vorträge auf Deutsch abzuhalten.

Die Silver Explorer blieb weiterhin auf Reede, da die Fluggesellschaft SAS in Oslo nicht alle Gepäckstücke mitgenommen hatte und wir so darauf warteten, dass der Nachtflug vielleicht das vermisste Gepäck bringen könne.

Bei einer Besprechung unseres Teams mit Kapitän Golubev war beschlossen worden, auf das Gepäck zu warten, denn die Distanz zu unserem ersten Ziel der Reise ließe sich gut bis zum nächsten Mittag bewältigen.

PREVIOUS  |  NEXT