Along the pack ice
PolarQuest’s guides are blogging from Svalbard. Below you can read an excerpt from the last expedition of the season on board Sea Endurance.
Day 4 – 7th September
When we pulled up the curtains this morning we were greeted by the sun and a myriad of ice floes passing by the window. That is what we call a beautiful morning in the Arctic. After breakfast it was time to enter the Zodiacs and head off into the ice. We zigzagged between the floes and were joined by a couple of ivory gulls that had decided to follow us. After a while we were getting a bit stiff and we felt it was time to stretch our legs. The guides drove the Zodiacs onto an ice floe and we gently stepped off, a few of us a bit suspicious of if the ice really was strong enough to bear us all. What an amazing feeling to be standing on the ice with nothing but 700 m of water below us.
Once back on board it was time for the famous polar plunge. The water temperature on these latitudes (our northernmost 81’26.934/23’03.429) were on the minus side of the celsius scale, which made most of us skip the swim and instead watch the brave souls who went into the water.
After lunch we left the beautiful pack ice and headed south again. Our goal was to reach Karl XII Island. This is of the most remote islands in the Svalbard archipelago and it gave us a feeling of being at ”the end of the world”. The northern part of the island is a steep rock tower, connected to a low gravel ridge that stretches to the south. The wind was really speeding up and Axel (the Expedition Leader) and the captain were hesitant to even put the Zodiacs in the water, but when 18 adventurous polar explorers signed up it was decided to give it a go. The Zodiacs slowly approached the island and rounded the northern part to see if a circumnavigation was possible. But due to the swell and wind they had to turn back. They were able land though and a wet but very happy group of people returned to the ship after having set foot on this very harsh but beautiful island.
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 53 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.