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Polar bear and Gold

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.

Beerenberg – the world’s northernmost volcano

Salina 16, Andri 14, Noé 11 and Alegra 10 became the first kids climbing Beerenberg to honor its Swiss compatriot Paul-Louis Mercanton on the 100-year jubilee of the 1st ascent.

Except for the first ascenders – Swiss meteorologist Paul-Louis Mercanton, English polar explorer and geologist James Mann Wordie and naturalist Thomas Charles Lethbridge on a scientific expedition between 9th and 11th August 1921 – there have only been crew members of the meteostation on Beerenberg – 18 times altogether; but all of them only Norwegians. The first non-Norwegian summited in 2008. Here is our major mountaineering adventure 2021 – like Mercanton, also in the name of science:

After our turning point at 80 degrees North, North of Amsterdam Island, the most north westerly island of Svalbard, we sailed back South to Lyngseidet were we reprovisioned and got vaccinated. At the same time, Emily from the Tromsø University could fix our microplastic-air-sampler. In the evening we listened to the first music concert after the COVID outbreak, just next to our boat in Tromsø harbor. Next morning the kids enjoyed the swimming pool with our friends from sailboat “Silmaril”. Our friends Trude & Arne were helping with some last-minute-preparations and also to get Salina and Andri on board of Pachamama in time.

Beerenberg on remote Jan Mayen Island

The final stop before we crossed the 500 nm to Jan Mayen was in Nyksund and Myre on Langøya Island. There we had the opportunity to see Peder from Svolvær and Michael from Alsvag again. We prepared our climbing gear for our major climb this year and did some crevasse rescue training drills at the peer.

Beerenberg – the world’s northernmost volcano on Jan Mayen Islandsee our track

In the morning of the 13th of July we first saw the majestatic peak of Beerenberg from far. Its name is Dutch “Bear Mountain”, and comes from the polar bears seen there by Dutch whalers in the early 17th century. Beerenberg is a stratovolcano dominating the northeastern end of the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen. After several more hours we reached the coast and started samping at the most northerly cape. Along glaciers and some icebergs we anchored finally in Kwalrosbukta in the southwest of the island. From the beach in Kwalrosbukta, we started at midnight walking the 16 km to the base of Beerenberg, while Sabine did anchor-watch with Mia and Vital. First we followed the eastern shore. When we started climbing we had loose rocks. This didn’t fit to Sebastian’s knee and he decided together with Max to turn back early morning at close to 600 m.

We continued in the fog, put the crampons and roped on at the edge of the glacier. The glacier seemed endless. After some hours suddenly the fog was lifting and we saw the highest peak of Beerenberg, Haakon VII Toppen with 2,277 m (7,470 ft), the world’s northernmost volcano.

The sun was burning and still today writing this report our lips are still burned. Because the snow was getting soft, we decided to go in a straight line to the top. It needed a lot of energy and good navigation through the crevasses. It was hard work to make the trail in the snow. The slopes of the volcano are largely ice-covered, with several major glaciers including five which reach the sea. Andri took to lead and continued in a steady pace another 16 km. We had to climb steep ice in the summit upswing and had some challenges to cross the bergschrund. Thanks to the ice axes mountain guide Johann Kaufmann from Grindelwald organised for us, as well as the excellent crampons from Petzl and climbing shoes from LA SPORTIVA, we managed. Thanks to our mountain guide “Andri” we reached the highest top of Berenberg safely on the 14th of July 2021 at 16:00.

On the TOP, after 16 hours non stop climbing, Alegra 10 years old, Noé 11, Andri 14, Salina 16 and Dario knew that it will be a long way back. Suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature was dropping. So we shortly took a picture, tied down securely the crampons for the steep ice down-climb to the flatter part of the glacier. As soon as we reached the flatter part, Salina fell into a crevasse. Noé was fast and good and managed to avoid a fatal fall. – Drills save lives! – He anchored Salina, who was hanging over a black hole, and pulled her to the safe side like a pro.

After 26 hours non stop walking and climbing we were back at the anchorage; covering a total of 78 km in distance and close to 3000 altimeters. Everybody was happy about the accomplishment but tired and looking forward to the warm bed on our sailboat. But the ocean swell was to high to raft over from the beach to the anchorage. Max and Sebastian have been back earlier and welcomed us in a refuge cabin of the Norwegian army. The next morning Andri, Alegra, Noé and Dario managed to make it over the huge surf to the sailboat were Sabine offered them a great dish. The next day Andri and Dario managed to get also Max, Sebastian and Salina on board, who were outfitted with survival suits. In the common operation – with the Norwegian army on the beach and Dario and Andri in their raft – they managed to safely transport 2 researchers with equipment and 2 bicycles attached to floating fenders through the surf to a waiting boat in the bay.

It was last minute to leave the bay. The conditions worsened. We cleared the anchor and sailed to the Southern cape of Jan Mayen where we took more e-DNA and microplastic samples, before we sailed further towards Greenland.

Instagram: #TOPtoTOPexpedition

Svalbard up to 80° North

Svalbard up to 80 North

Last year we were later in the season and became the first sailboat circumnavigating whole Svalbard! See “Clean up the North Pole”:

TOPtoTOP Arctic Research Expedition report # 3:

  • Location: Longyearbyen
  • Date: 2021-06-30
  • Author: Dario, Noé
  • Track us!
  • Outcome: The amount of plastic was increasing more North and max at the edge of the pack-ice. 80 degrees North in June by sailboat, the warming is changing everything. We have to act now! Please help us to save our planet!

More high resolution pictures from our TOPtoTOP Expedition Photographer “Peder Pedersen” about our 2021 “TOPtoTOP Arctic Research Expedition“.

Sampling Svalbard
Environmental DNA sampling in Svalbard
Sailing back from Svalbard to Norway
Back in the Norwegian Arctic.

Summary by Noé (11) in German:

Auf dem Weg nach Svalbard sahen wir viele white-backed dolphins. Mich interessieren auch die Vögel. Deswegen durften wir, als wir in Ny-Alesund ankamen, mit einem Ornithologen Vögel beobachten und zählen gehen. Es war sehr spannend. Am Abend gab es eine Mittsommerparty. Dann segelten wir in den Krossfjord. Am Weg in den Fjord nahmen wir sechs microplastic und eDNA proben. Ein paar Stunden spaeter waren wir an der 10 km langen Gletscherfront angekommen. Ich war sehr erstaunt das hier um diese Jahreszeit kein Packeis lag. Wir gingen zu einem nahe gelegenen Ankerplatz, dem Nilspynten, und schliefen kurz. Ich aber ging mit der Unterwasserdrohne den Grund des Lillienhöök Fjordes erforschen. Kurz danach gingen wir weiter in den Magdalenenfjord. Ich habe die ganze Fahrt über geschlafen. Als ich aufwachte, sagte Sabine, dass wir auf einen Gletscher gehen. Ich aß Frühstück und packte meinen Rucksack. Als wir an Land kamen, mussten wir noch einen Schießtest machen. Dann ging es los. Wir liefen schon eine halbe Stunde, als wir Eisbärenspuren entdeckten. Sie waren nicht sehr frisch. Beim weitergehen sanken wir bis zu den Knien ein. Wir entschlossen uns zurückzukehren. Als wir auf dem Schiff waren, sagte Papa, dass wir in dem Fjord sechs microplastic – und eDNA Samples machen. Als wir diese beendet hatten, probierten wir zur Packeisgrenze zu segeln. Dort war es sehr neblig. Wir drehten Kurs Richtung Insel Prinz Karls Vorland, denn da hat es eine Walross Kolonie. Dort nahmen wir noch ein Sample. Dann sind wir nach Longyearbyen gesegelt. Dort konnten wir duschen. Am nächsten Tag segelten wir los Richtung Norwegen.

Report by Dario:

Just like last year we had a warm welcome by the leader of the research base in Ny-Alesund  “Helge Markusson”. The timing of our arrival was perfect:

At the time of arrival we could join the annual clean-up of this multinational research base in the High Arctic at 78.56 degrees North.

In the evening we presented our “TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition” to the researchers and staff and took them on our 21-year expedition around the globe. After the dark Arctic winter, which meant they were locked for several months in Ny-Alesund, our presentation was a welcome change and we got invited to their mid-summer pirate party the next day.

The following day, before the party, Sabine and I, thanks to our old friend Tor-Petter, managed to stop a leakage and change a water pump and belt on the boat. Peder, Noé, Alegra, Mia and Vital helped bird researcher “Maarten Lohnen” studying Arctic terns and barnacle geese. Max and Sei got a lift with a Danish researcher by Zodiac to a bird colony 5 km from the base, planed to take samples on the “Austre-Lovenbreen” Glacier and climb the top up to 726m.

The party started at 17:00. As Max and Sebastian didn’t show up in time, staff members at the base became more and more concerned. Fog caused suddenly bad visibility and they forgot to take a radio. The two had been late before, so with this experience in mind, I hoped for the best, tried to calm everybody down and came up with an action plan. At midnight the first step of our search and rescue plan came into action: We gave everybody a heads-up. Luckily no major search and rescue operation had to be launched and they showed up early next morning: Sampling was more time-consuming than expected.

As soon as Max and Sebi were on-board, we left Ny-Alesund into Krossfjorden and Lillienhöökfjorden. There we took 5 microplastic samples for the Western Norway University and NORCE, and simultaneously  eDNA samples for the Swiss Polar Institut and the ETHZ at the impressive vertical 80m high – and 10 km long glacier wall of Lillienhöök glacier. We anchored not far from the glacier wall, just below Nilspyten, a large rock tower. There are large colonies of guillemots and kittiwakes; which means another opportunity for Max and Sebastian to sample for the Austrian Polar Research Institut and the University of Innsbruck. There is also a WWII German weather station lying S of the anchorage. For Noé, another reason to check the seafloor for trash from WWII, but also from whalers or nowadays tourist vessels. The “Blue Eye” is the perfect tool to do this assessment for the Arctic University of Norway.

The next stop was at 79.34N 11.03E in Magdelenefjorden. Before our clean-up, we did a polar bear protection drill and a crevasse-rescue training. Max and Sebastian went off to a side glacier of the Waggonbau glacier, Brokebreen, to take more air, sediment and snow samples. While Peder, Noé, Alegra and Dario went from the anchorage at Gravneset all the way to the Southern shore and looked for plastic. There were some big and plenty of small pieces and a lot of microplastic at the tide limit. Afterwards they left the anchorage with Sabine, Mia and Vital for another set of 5 microplastic and eDNA all the way into the glacier wall of Waggonbau Glacier at the end of the fjord till the entrance on both the North and the South side.

After Magdalenafjord we sailed and sampled along the most north-westerly islands of Svalbard, “Danksøya” and “Amsterdamsøya”, named by whalers from southern countries in the old days. From there we sailed straight north towards the edge of the pack ice. 

We saw a big contrast on sea water temperatures: From 12 degrees, at a spot just outside Magdalene Fjord at 79 North, to 2 degrees less than a day later at 80 North, close to the pack ice, where the rigging started to ice. It was north of 80 degrees North, where suddenly the wind generators caused so much vibration that I got worried that we would loose the arc at the back of the boat. Luckily I was able to stop them. The reason for the vibration was the icing of the wings.

At 80.06 North and 010.00 East Peder, Max and Sebastian got baptised by Neptun and Venus to Sei (Arctic Char), Sperm Whale and Basking Shark.

Most interesting sampling for microplastics and eDNA just North of 80 North this year was that we had the same experience as last year: We encountered the most micro- but also macroplyastics swimming at the edge of the pack ice! 

From the foggy edge of the pack ice, we headed south to meet our walrus friends again at the large colony at Prinz Karls Vorland Island. There we started a clean-up and for the first time in a long while met two humans – except for Ny-Alesund of course. It was park rangers Jakob and Jens. They asked us to stop the clean-up at our landing site, because they would like to do an assessment of the litter the next day. So we did a shorter clean-up just south-west of the point and sailed further to Longyaerbyen. 

There, Max and Sebastian went sampling again on the glacier behind the town. We also got some new sampling containers at the University Centre in Svalbard, which we had stored last winter in Prof. Andrew Hodson’s office. We did some shopping for our basic on-board necessities, but was super expensive. We got some free bicycles to get around from the tourist office and met our old friend “Lexi” again. We first met a year ago in Ballstad, Lofoten. She is working here as a COO at the only food producing plant in Svalbard, where they grow vegetables in artificial light all year round. She invited us to her flat, where we cooked spaghetti and all got to have a hot shower. If you want to learn more about the northernmost farm in the world, visit www.polarpermaculture.com.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Svalbard and find our way to Jan Mayen Island to sample on the highest volcano in the Arctic, “Beerenberg”….. We will swing by Sørheim Brygge (ETA 6th/7th of July) to get a Torqeedo electric outboard motor we can charge with a solar panel. We are all excited about this great tool to make our work more efficient and safe, and specially to shortly see our friends in Lyngseidet again!

Champagne Sailing to Svalbard

Last year it was a different story:

TOPtoTOP Arctic Research Expedition report 1:

  • Location: Ny-Alesund, the small research village with the world’s N-most post office
  • Our real-time position!
  • Date: 2021-06-25
  • Author: Sebastian:

Unfortunately our journey started with some complications with the engine. A few hundred meters after leaving Lyngseidet there was no cooling water coming, so we had to immediately shut down the engine so it would not overheat. We then sailed with very low winds back to Lyngseidet were we stayed for one more night. During the whole night Dario and Sabine worked on finding out where the problem was. The next day, 18.6.2021, we started another attempt and made it a little bit further, but again the cooling water stopped coming and we had to anchor at the bay of Koppangen. As at first the weather did not look to bad at that time, the researchers Max and Sebastian started to go to the glacier Strupbreen to take their first samples of micro-plastics. They ended up walking 6 hours through pouring rain and therefore could not take any samples. However, it was a first sight of the mountain and they had seen where they can go up the best. On they way down, they saw that Pachamama was quite close to the rocks, and they were wondering if the boat has moved. When they arrived at the beach they saw however, that the location of the boat has changed and they found out, that the crew was awake as they had to prevent the boat from crashing into the rocks. 

As the weather cleared up the next day (19.6.2021), Max and Sebastian decided to go to the mountain again to take samples. They started at about 17:00. Their first stop was directly at the beach where they showed the whole Schwoerer Family how they were going to take the air-, water-, and sediment samples. The children were all interested and always had a helping hand! While science was on the go, Dario and our photographer Peder started to make a bonfire so that everyone could eat fish, which was caught by Noe, Alegra, Mia and Vital some hours before. After that, Max and Sebastian started again towards Strupbreen. This time they were successful. Sampling in these areas however is a cold issue and it took them longer as expected. They were back at the boat at 06:00 on the 20th of June, almost 12 hours after they started. After a breakfast they went straight to bed, but they have got the good news, that the problem with the engine could be fixed and that we all could continue towards Svalbard. 

The first hours were quiet, the weather was good and the sea calm for a couple of hours. The next goal was Sørvær where the famous rock “Andotten” is located with a big bird colony. The colony however was not as busy this time. There was a discussion why this might be, and if this might be because of the decrease of the fish population, the food base for the birds. Sabine and Noe started at 01:00 on June 21st, the longest day in the Northern hemisphere, to take their first eDNA and micro-plastic samples from the ocean with their eDNA-pump and the manta-net. Anyway, the weather was beautiful and we arrived in Sørvær with the midnight sun shining though the scenic fishing town on Soeroey Island.

The next morning father and son of the fisher-family Furøy helped us to get some oil and fuel. Soon after we started to sail in calm conditions with direct course towards Bear Island, following by whales just some miles off the coast.

On the 22nd we had to change the course to the West as the wind direction and its strength changed. The sea got a little bit rougher but so far nobody has been seasick. The change of course proved to be a good decision as in the night to the 23rd we could turn again towards North with better winds. At 07:20 on the 23rd we had sight to Bear Island about 25 miles to the East. We even could see snow there. Sabine told us, that last year at that time, no snow was on the island. During the day, the sea got calmer and the wind decreased a little bit, so we could keep course to Svalbard.

On 24th at about midnight, 42 nautical miles West of us, we could get the first glimpse of Svalbard´s Southern peaks. At that time water and air were still calm. This allowed us to spot several whales and seals while they were feeding. As we got closer to Svalbard, we could even see the glaciers and started to look out for ice swimming around in the ocean as there might be a danger of collision. As we follow the Svalbard West coast further North, Max and Sebastian get the feeling that sampling on the glaciers here will be an extremely cold issue.

But thanks to SPORTLER we are all optimistic that we have the right equipment: International mountain- guide Dario is very happy to finally have new climbing boots after fixing his old ones several times in the last 7 years.

The six days on sea passed fast. Thanks to easy conditions and the great kitchen of Sabine the mood was high. There was a lot of time to observe nature and even to play Yatzy. Now we go to EXPLORE the High Arctic. First, we do our traditional non-alcoholic “anchor drink” and straight after a polar-bear-protection-drill before we step on land. Keep tuned to know more. Please note that we are in one of the most remote places on the globe, but we do our best to blog again as soon as there is an opportunity.

Challenging start

We had a challenging start of the “TOPtOTOP Arctic Research Expedition 2021“: We left Lyngseidet on the 17th of June after filling the boat with water and food. Soon after we had an engine failure. We changed the impeller, but still no water flow. We sailed back and were busy the whole night to take the engine apart to fix the problem. Finally, there were 2 broken rubber wings blocking the inlet of the water pump, but on the intake! – Very strange!

On the 18th of June we took of again. After some hours we lost the wind and again no water flow. Luckily the wind picked up again and we tried to get into Struppen to take samples on a glacier. Furious falling winds made it too dangerous to proceed without the backup of our motor. We changed the plan and finally anchored in Koppangen. The anchorage was quite deep. Max and Sebastian went sampling. Then at night, the wind picked up and we were drifting towards a cliff, even with 80m of the chain out.

We had to act fast: We tie all our ropes together. Peder went with the dinghy with a line of 250 m to a buoy. Like that Sabine and Dario were able to pull Pachamama in the calms in between the gusts towards safety. In the morning we learned that the buoy will be not strong enough. We had to do another anchor maneuver without engine and set a safety line to shore.

The kids were successful in fishing and so we had last night a wonderful dinner, before sampling on a glacial river and on the glacier above the anchorage. Soon we continue and hope now that we have not more surprises…

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