Somehow, with several alarm clocks and a bit of determination on the part of Captain Haddock, we managed to get out of bed early (before noon) today. Trust me, this is a massive accomplishment for our little boat. So, 10am and we were up just in time to see the two other boats anchored in our little fjord motor off into the distance leaving us with sunshine and clear, glassy water!
We headed to Sallyhamna because we were advised by some of the other boats that there were interesting remains to see. Unfortunately though, there was a little confusion. Sallyhamna in the guidebook was not the Sallyhamna on the chart. This wasn’t the first time the guidebook had “got it wrong”, but we had to work out whether the remains were in the real Sallyhamna, or in the guidebook version.
So we took our little dinghy zooming around the three bays in the little fjord. Turns out the remains of the whaling station were in the guidebook version. Apparently charts aren’t the definitive resource when it comes to finding the sites of Svalbard. We pulled up on the beach and spent the first 15 minutes watching the geese potter about. Not that we could get close enough for a good photo – Captain Haddock managed with his zoom lens 🙂
We found a cool little trapper’s hut on the beach, which Captain H tried to break into while Dr D stood guard.
There were more coffins too, one with some bones strewn about.
In fact, there were bones everywhere. We learned that when the whalers died, a fairly common occurrence, every effort would be made to ensure a burial on land (rather than at sea). It became traditional to hold mass burials and memorials at the end of the season when everyone was back on land. Bodies are incredibly well preserved here because of the temperatures – wood and bones seem to last forever, whereas the metal rusts in the salty air.
We saw more remains of buildings and blubber ovens.
Someone had kindly built a little picnic area too.
After a good bit of exploring, we got back into our super-powered dinghy and went zooming across the fjord to see the real Sallyhamna. There was nothing there other than rocky cliffs so we kept going, creating an enormous racket and sending our wake rippling through the still water. It was an absolutely gorgeous day.
The birds kept flying in circles around us…
We made it almost up to the glacier, although a little apprehensively as we could hear it creaking and crackling away inside. I’m not sure whether it’s more disconcerting to see it carving into the water or just to hear pieces falling away somewhere deep into it’s many layers.
Eventually we headed back to the boat, for lunch and our next stop – 80 degrees north! First though, Captain Haddock wanted to take advantage of the calm sea to test out his little (massive) six horsepower engine. We’d only ever managed to get the dinghy to plane with one person. Unfortunately it definitely didn’t like three people, so maybe two would work… Dr D (very eagerly!) jumped ship so Capt H and I headed off round the fjord.
Bad news – our poor dinghy, even with six hp on the back and all our weight right on the bow, won’t plane with two people aboard. Poor Captain H was devastated. His poor engine didn’t cut it with more than one person aboard. Dr D took a pretty cool picture of us spinning in circles around the mouth of the fjord though – looks like we’re heading out to sea!
From here we really are heading out to sea…