Friday, 13 August 2010

Arctic Adventure - 8

Sunday 8th August 2010

My Arctic pictures are here.

Well, I was wrong about there being no Midnight Sun because at midnight Saturday, it was a clear night with a bright sun. Very odd.

Overnight, we'd sailed around the top of Svalbard to find the sea ice and when I went on the foredeck around 7.0 a.m. we were slowly moving through the broken sea ice at a position of 80 degrees 43 minutes 45 seconds north and 19 degrees 51 minutes 15 seconds East.

Later in the morning, we stopped at a suitable site for a 'Polar Plunge' where 32 passengers and a number of staff jumped into the sea at about 1 degree centigrade from a Zodiac moored to the boarding platform. Two other Zodiacs with safety rings were on hand and each swimmer was equipped with a safety rope. I didn't participate in this activity which took place at 80 degrees 49 minutes 35 seconds north and 19 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds East!

The ship then set off south. After lunch, we were invited to the Theatre for a very informative lecture on Ice and Glaciers given by Franz. Robin gave a 'Recap and Briefing' and at 3.30 p.m. Victoria gave a fascinating lecture about Arctic and Antarctic exploration including the successful Amundsen/Nobile journey over the pole by airship.

The ship engtered Sorgfjord where we were promised a landing and a hike. This time, there were no bears to cause us to amend the programme but since my Group was in the later departure, it was 6.30 p.m. before we left the ship for a 'wet' landing on the shingle beach. During the early part of the hike, we were looking at the geology of the island and the sparse Arctic vegetation. Later, we found reindeer droppings and three old, bleached antlers. Then we passed a single grave with a wooden grave marker - a vertical post which was probably once part of a cross. Finally, on the way to the shore, we walked near a 'modern' wooden hut which was fairly derelict and the remains of an earlier hut, flattened by the action of the wind and with many of the planks distributed many yards away. There were aqlso some loose bricks and a small rectangular brick foundation for another building. I was on the last Zodiac back to the ship - just two passengers and the balance of the expedition staff.

In the evening, we enjoyed a 'Venetian Dinner', to celebrate the presence of members of the Venetian Society on board. All returning Silversea passengers become members of the Venetian Society. For this type of dinner, the dress code becomes 'Casually Elegant' rather than the usual 'Casual'.