M/S Stockholm first ship to circumnavigate Spitsbergen 2019
The itinerary on our Svalbard expeditions is always flexible and depends on weather, ice and wildlife. This time, Captain Per Engwall’s plan was to circumnavigate Spitsbergen.
Already the first day on board speculations where made if we would be able to circumnavigate or not. It has been a lot of ice north of Spitsbergen and in Hinlopen this year, and it was definitely not certain that we would even make an attempt.
Every new ice chart that was downloaded was studied very carefully and when the day came to try, we met other ships that had turned around due to the ice. But captain Per still wanted to give it a go. We slowly made our way south between the ice floes in the fog. Many of us did not want to go to bed that night, at the bridge it was full "expedition mode". Per managed to find a way through the ice, and early next morning we were woken up and went out on deck to see M/S Stockholm pass through the narrow sound "Ormholet". Ormholet has a strong tidal current and is very narrow, but Erik and Per navigated safely through. As we reached the other side of the sound it was clear that we would manage to circumnavigate Spitsbergen! But still there was the question if any other ship had made it through the dense ice of Hinlopen. The answer to that question we got a few days later when we met the other ship trying to get around at the same time as us. They had not made it through the ice and had to return the same way as they came. The next ice chart downloaded also showed that the small passage where we got through now was closed again.