After our first feeble attempt at setting out to cross the Arctic Ocean, nothing was going to hold us back this time. Well, not entirely how we were thinking on Wednesday morning. What we were really thinking was great, the wind’s going to die and we just need to tough it out for a few hours and then it will be easy…

It looks so lovely in this photo. No picture will really depict the 30+ knots we had for most of the trip. Or the swell. 

Here’s J trying to stay warm without going below. She managed her first watch after this and then retired to her bunk for the next three days. 

And Captain Haddock keeping the enthusiasm up… At least we had sunshine for this first day (I have no memory of that now). 

Twelve hours later… Really, the wind is due to drop and move North and we’ll have to motor… 2 days later… I have no photos of that time. All we have is memories of bouncing around trying to get our boots on, sitting freezing cold on deck for a couple of hours and then crawling back down, tails between our legs into the nearest bunk to sleep. This sounds oddly reminiscent of the North Sea crossing, except without the oil rigs. We did see some wildlife – a few puffins here and there initially then just sea gulls. J saw a whale coming into the lee of the islands. And we had dolphins join us for a good few hours. They were probably checking up on us to make sure we were still going. 

Even if I can’t post pictures of waves and wind, I can show some of the collatoral damage. Here is D’s bruise from a particularly big bounce (the photo was taken about three days later, so picture it looking worse than this…):

Friday afternoon things finally started to settle as we sailed up along the West coast of Svalbard. While we didn’t see land for another 24 hours, at least we were out of the swell. Even J resurfaced and took in the scenery: 

It wasn’t until late Saturday night that we motored into Longyearbyen. There were an impressive number of boats around, at anchor or moored on various pontoons and mooring buoys. Despite this, we found a little floating dock that we could tie up to. It was only when we tried to climb off and realised we would have to clamber up the remains of an old jetty in order to get ashore. This wasn’t a problem at high tide, but at low tide it took a bit of effort! 

Furthermore, we discovered the following morning that our departure was restricted to the cruise ship scedule as their lines crossed right through our route out again… It was early Sunday morning when J headed off to the airport to fly back to London. Unfortunately after surviving the worst part of the trip she went back to spend time with grandma and grandad J. It was sad to see her go and we felt bad that she missed out on really seeing the Arctic. On reflection she was pleased to have completed the trip and has now decided she never needs to do another ocean crossing. 

Needless to say that we all went back to sleep after J left and had quite a shock when we awoke again to find this monstor parked next door a few hours later!  

The only benefit was that all the shops conveniently open when the cruise ships come in so we were able to pick up groceries for the next few days. We abandoned our little pontoon when Monstor Ship one departed and safely took up anchorage for the second night. More on Longyearbyen in the next post!