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Topper Worlds – here we come

Our next goal 1500 NM to the Topper World Championships 2023 in Cork Ireland.

The last few months have not been easy for us. Difficulties with the energy house project, repairs on the ship and especially our housing situation cost a lot of energy. But there were also beautiful moments.

Good News:
Thanks to the generous support of Silvana and Paul (carpenters on the road), we finally have the kitchen almost finished and the bedrooms sanded and painted, among other things.

Thanks to Skarvik in Lofoten we got a new paint for Pachamama and NOGVA could solve the problems with the gearbox. Pachamama will now get new batteries and will be in top shape again.

Like three years ago we could stay with Peder in Svolvaer, Lofoten. Here his backyard:

Family Hasler, who visited us several times this spring in Lyngseidet helped Dario to sail the boat to the Skarvik boat yard, where Dominik celebrated his birthday at Peder’s place.

Peter Locher came to help Dario on the ship while Sabine and the children continued to work on the energy house project in Lyngseidet.

Pachamama then met the sailing ship Galinago 400 nautical miles further south in Alesund, joining TOPtoTOP. Their first task was to support our eDNA sampling program with ETH Zurich in Greenland. After a day of instructions by Sabine, Jael (Peter’s daughter) is now also fit for sampling. Salina will spend her vacations supporting Jael as well as visiting young Inuits with our TOPtoTOP environmental education program for the first time in West Greenland, as Pachamama want to focus further on East Greenland. Salina will also be able to combine her outreach with a math term paper for school.

We on Pachamama are now still needed for last interviews and filming for the documentary by ican-films. Livia, who has accompanied us on and off since 2016, is still doing the last shots and wants to film the sail away from Alesund on July 2. Our next goal is first the Topper World Championships 2023 in Cork, Ireland, where we are planning an environmental event with the athletes.
Andri, Noé and Alegra are the only athletes from the Arctic to arrive by sailboat. In the last months they had good training conditions in the Arctic:

Peter Storm has passed away

We have just learned that Peter died unexpectedly yesterday.

He was a co-founder and the father of TOPtoTOP.
We are in shock and mourn the loss of one of our best friends.
Heartfelt condolences and much strength to the whole Storm family, and especially to his wife Bregitte and his daughter Tessa.

Merry Xmas

The light in the Arctic has been fading more and more in the last months. It is the time when everything becomes quieter on land, but the fjords around Lyngen are full of life, teeming with herring. With the shoals of herring come the whales.

During this time, we tried to get local students excited about the wonder they have on their “doorstep”: the annual arrival of the orcas! They are also interested in sailing. We are happy to teach them and connect them with the elements of water and wind. Thank you Kyrre to make it possible.

From mid-December to mid-January it is dark. But not really! There are wonderful northern lights and Norwegians light up their houses with their fantastic Christmas lights. – Merry Christmas to all of you out there.

Annual Report coming soon.

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Exceptionally stormy

This year was a very difficult year. The weather and sea conditions were special: the permanent high pressure areas over Greenland and Europe forced the extended low pressure areas in rapid succession from the North Atlantic into the Arctic waters between northern Norway, Jan Mayen and Greenland. This special weather constellation not only led to a hot summer in Europe and subsequently to an extraordinary glacier melt in the Alps, it also influenced our route, sampling, clean ups and climbs. We tried to reach Greenland several times and in the end had no time left for Svalbard.

After our anchor winch stopped working after a violent storm, we made it to Skjervøy. In this storm the wind peaked 100 km/h and there were 7 meter high waves off the coast. At the end a huge wave entered our cockpit. It damaged a cell phone and the bracket of our electric outboard “Torqeedo”. Miraculously, the electric engine remained intact.

Peter – Ueli – John – Siri – Peder – Dario

On August 17, we aborted the last attempt to bring our two scientists John and Siri to Jan Mayen. A Norwegian Army Hercules aircraft that was taking them at the time had to turn back due to bad weather. This shows the conditions we faced that year. Fortunately, the flight succeeded later, so at least they were able to take samples ashore on Jan Mayen.

Sea and weather conditions for the crossing were extremely poor this summer. A safe weather window for the approximately 1000 nautical miles from Norway to the East Greenland coast failed due to pronounced low pressure areas, between the massive and stationary high pressure areas over Greenland and Europe. One low pressure followed the next, and in between there was no calming that could have guaranteed a safe weather window for safe passage. The pronounced high pressure over Europe was responsible for the heat in Europe.  In East Greenland it was cold, so that the pack ice on the coast and in the fjords partly did not melt. This temperature difference was certainly also a reason for the stormy seas and after five attempts we did not succeed to make landfall in Greenland this year.

On the other hand, despite difficult conditions, we were able to collect 8 eDNA and 8 microplastic samples and celebrate the 100th sampling. This on 8/27/2022 at over 70 degrees north latitude in northern Norway. The samples were collected from remote locations where we could observe a lot of marine life, such as one of the largest maelstroms in the world or a large population of sperm whales.

A big compliment goes to the entire crew. They showed a lot of patience and held out until the end, even though we could not reach our destinations Greenland nor Svalbard. Many thanks also to the people on Grytøya Island and specially to Halvard, who made everything to comfort us. The same goes for fisherman Dag on the island of Kagen.

We hope that the necessary repairs will not cause us too much headache. We are optimistic for 2023 and are sure that such conditions will not be repeated every year.

Since then, we have been concentrating again on school visits and bringing young people closer to nature and clean up the wonderful Arctic.

Last note: This summer Alegra made second at the Tromsø Sky Race in U18 and we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary:

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