Polar bear and Gold

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Latest media report on our Beerenberg-Expedition

Note: Noé’s report in German find below.

The wind turned to the North and the anchorage became unsafe in Kwalrossbukta on Jan Mayen. After the climb of the Beerenberg volcano, it was a major challenge and operation to get everybody from the shore to the boat. Andri together with Dario in survival suits managed to land the dinghy through the tremendous surf several times. Supported by the Norwegian Army under the command of Sven, they were a perfect team to raft also two Norwegian scientists to a vessel picking them up.

We cleared the anchor as soon as everybody was on board to get some more microplastic- and eDNA samples at the southern tip of the island before we started the passage to Greenland. Because of westerlies, we had to sail north with a good watch in these foggy waters for icebergs. The weather cleared up when we approached Scoresby Sund, the biggest fjord on the planet. In calm waters, we did another set of samples surrounded by huge icebergs, before we dropped our SPADE anchor in front of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most northerly Inuit settlement on the east coast.

Our Inuit friends gave us a warm welcome. After a presentation and workshop in the kindergarten, we started our “traditional” soccer tournament. Max and Sebastian meanwhile were even able to sample some shit from a polar bear.

We sampled following the Greenlandic coast south and had an interesting encounter with a polar bear in Römer Fjord. While we entered the narrow fjord the bear was swimming towards the boat to say hello. Further in we anchored Pachamama close to the beach with a natural hot spring. There we waited for better weather – and sea conditions and enjoyed laying in the hot water, clean our clothes, and cooked bread and pizza on fire with driftwood washed ashore. There was also plastic waste and narwhal skeletons laying around. On the last day the bear showed up at the beach and it was a great experience to study this majestic animal.

From Greenland, we crossed to Island. In Bolungarvik, the most northwestern settlement of Iceland we met our old friends Sosssa & Roland, Hordur, Katrin, and Kolbrún. We had a warm welcome in the house of her mother with lots of delicious pizza.

The day after Max and Sebastian left the boat. We were nearly three months together. They did a great job in sampling microplastic and always offered a helping hand to operate the boat. They went back to their University in Innsbruck and we are curious and looking forward to reading their master thesis soon.

For the rest of us, there was a lot to fix and clean. A major job was to reinstall the broken VHF antenna in the mast, where the cabling was glued on (!), going from the mast below the deck.

We continued sampling for Åsta from the University of Akureyi along the northern Icelandic coast. All of us, even 3 years old Vital and 5-year-old Mia, climbed the top of Kálfatindur 534 m, the tallest on Hornbjarg an enormous cliff in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjörds. It is one of the northernmost locations in the country. Dropping sheerly into the ocean, the cliffs are renowned for their birdlife, being a notably popular nesting ground for guillemots.

The Swiss national day on the 1st of August, we celebrated with our friends Erlingur and Åsta in a remote fjord between Siglufjordur and Olafsfjordur. In Olafsfjordur where met our old friend Sverrir, Mia and Vital learned to swim.

It was very emotional for all of us to dock at the same peer in Akureyri where we had one of our biggest joys, but also one of the biggest disasters in our life: Vital was born here in 2017, but soon after we got shipwrecked exactly at that peer in a horrible storm. The warm welcome of our friends in Akureyri, who helped us to overcome the huge challenge we faced, was overwhelming. Arctic aviation pioneer Arngrimur even organized a journalist and the national TV. It was good to send out another big thank you to all the hospitable people of Akureyri. – Read the article here.

Noé and Alegra were invited to the national sailing championship of Iceland while we were there. As a big surprise, Noé became 3rd place in the Optimist A class. Alegra went for gold, which means 1st place and Icelandic Champion in the optimist B class. We celebrated the great success of these two young sailors on SY Haval. Thanks to Roland and his friends Christain and Christian, we enjoyed a wonderful meal.

We left Iceland on the most northerly point, Grimsey Island, located at the Arctic circle with our new crew Ueli. Because of depression, we were heading north for several days. We saw huge icebergs and appreciated the sun and calm seas. We stopped again in Jan Mayen to take snow, sediment, and bird shit samples from the mountains in the southern part of the island. It was impressive to see Beerenberg in the distance. Sven from the Norwegian Army confirmed that Salina, Andri, Noé, and Alegra were the first kids to climb Berenberg and honored them for their perseverance with a patch. After our last clean-up on Jan Mayen for this year, we were ready to sail.

We completed our circumnavigation of Jan Mayen to have the full set of samples and started the crossing of the high North Atlantic Ocean towards Norway. Noé got 12 years old on the 15th of August about in the middle and exactly at the spot where you change from West to East longitude. At the approach of the Norwegian coast, our diesel tank was shaken too much by waves, causing a blockage of the fuel filter arriving in Ballstad Lofoten. Still, a mess with sealant when improperly opening the diesel tank in holland. There we celebrated Noé’s birthday with our friends, the family of Yngwar&Torgunn, and got an additional crew with Ivo&Nina.

For the 4th birthday of Vital we did a pre-celebration at Peder’s place in Svolvær because we were not sure to be on land in time. Peder joined us to Svalbard earlier. From Svolvær to Lyngseidet we sailed in 46 hours and had 4 breakdowns of the engine in narrow fjords with lots of current and not much wind.

We arrived Lyngseidet at 2 o’clock in the morning. Approaching the peer the motor stopped again. Exhausted we finally went to sleep, but happy that we made it back for Vital’s birthday the next day and Mia’s 1st school day in her early life. On our 20th wedding aniversery (church), Sabine and I Dario spent two days cleaning the diesel tank and finally solved the problem. Now, we are ready to sample more towards the North Cape…..

join us for this sailing event in Lyngseidet on the weekend 17.-19. of September 2021

Jan Mayen-Grenland-Iceland:

 Wir kamen an einem schönen arktischen Sommermorgen in Lyngseidet an. An diesem Tag hatten wir sehr viel zu tun. Ich musste Wasser bunkern, das Deck waschen und das Sofa ausklopfen. Etwa 2 Stunden später kamen meine Geschwister Salina und Andri. Beide wollten noch einen Freund besuchen gehen. Mit ihm gingen wir im Meer schwimmen.

Am nächsten Morgen gingen wir los nach Tromsö, da machten wir noch einen Grosseinkauf. Als wir bereit waren, ging die Reise nach Niksund los, dies ist ein altes, halb verlassenes Fischerdorf im Norden. Dort angekommen packten wir den Rucksack, wir liefen unsere Schuhe ein, die wir von Johann Kaufmann gesponsert bekommen haben. Später am selben Tag gingen wir los nach Myre, da machten wir noch letzte Vorbereitungen. Ich ging noch kurz schlafen. Um 11:19 fuhren wir los nach Jan Mayen. Dort wollten wir den grössten Berg besteigen. Einen Tag nach der Abfahrt sahen wir Killerwale. 

Nach 6 Tagen sahen wir Land, wir sahen den Berenberg vor uns am Horizont. Ich durfte meine nächste Wache durchschlafen. Plötzlich kam mein Vater und weckte mich. Ich musste mantatrolen gehen (=Mirkroplastik-Proben nehmen). Als ich hochkam, sah ich Jan Mayen ungefähr 3 Seemeilen backbord vor mir. Als ich weiter ging, sah ich viele Vögel. Ich ging die Kamera holen und fotografierte sie. Dann begann das Saempling (5 Mikroplastik und eDENA samples). Später kamen wir in der Bucht Kwalrossbukta an. Dann ging ich schlafen.

Um 1 Uhr starteten wir zum höchsten Berg der Arktis, den Beerenberg. Als wir an Land waren, gingen wir mit schnellem Schritttempo an der Kueste Jan Mayen’s entlang. Zuerst ging es 18 km gerade aus, dann begann der Aufstieg des Berges. Zuerst ging es über Moos und Steine, später  konnten wir unsere Steigeisen anziehen. Dann waren wir auf dem langen Gletscher. Nachher ging es ungefähr 30% steil, nachher 45% steil nach oben. Wir mussten einen kleinen Umweg machen, den es hatte viele Gletscherspalten. Nach einigen Stunden waren wir auf dem Gipfel angekommen, 2227m. Als wir auf dem Gletscher waren, ging es relativ schnell bis zur Gletscherzunge. Da ging es die Steine hinunter zum Sandstrand. Von dort ging es wieder 18 km Kilometer bis zum Schiff. Total waren es 3000 m aufwärts und 78 km gerade aus. Es fühlte sich an wie 33 Ewigkeiten. Die Nacht mussten wir in einem Hüttchen verbringen, den die Dünnung war zu gross, so konnten wir nicht zum Schiff zurück fahren. Am nächsten Morgen kamen wir an Bord. Wir machten noch 5 Sampels ums Südkap. Dann nahmen wir Kurs nach Groenland. 4 Tage dauerte es, bis wir die Kueste Groenlands in Sicht bekommen haben. Beim Hineinfahren machten wir wieder 5 eDENA und Microplastik Samples. Wir ankerten in Itokotoromit. Da machten wir einen Schulvortrag und ein Fussballspiel. 3 Tage blieben wir dort. Wir fuhren weiter nach Ruemerbukta, da machten wir wieder 5 Sampels. Vom Schiff aus sahen wir einen Eisbaeren. Später gingen wir an Land und gingen in die warmen Quellen.  2 Tage blieben wir da, dann fuhren wir los nach Island. Ich sah zuerst Land. Wir gingen nach Bulgarwik, da begruessten uns Roland und Sossa herzlich. Einige Tage spaeter gingen wir weiter nach Hesteri.

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