1320 miles since leaving Tromso. We’ve been sailing for three weeks shy of a couple days, going from Norway to Svalbard, up a bit, round a bit and up a bit more. Then right to the top, crossing 80 degrees with a bottle of champagne and turning around to make our way slowly back again. It’s been a real adventure and we’ve had some pretty cool experiences. Regrets? Not enough wool socks (I’ve worn one pair for two weeks now)! Time – there’s never enough and there are hot springs somewhere round a corner that we couldn’t quite make it to. Not seeing any polar bears! And not being able to take the boat home again. No matter how tough it was, it feels a bit like we’re jumping ship and leaving Captain Haddock to do the dirty work. But then again, it’s tough being away from family too; they’ve had a harder few weeks than our coldest days up here.

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Anyway, we’re back in Longyearbyen (by the way)… Sailed from the tip of Isfjorden yesterday morning (OK afternoon) after a quick-ish final wonder around Pyramiden. The weather improved the entire way back and we’re anchored off the shore near the harbour office. Had another amazing massive dinner last night at Kroa – basically the best restaurant in Longyearbyen (we haven’t tried any others…) after an even better warm shower! And of course, a nice Baileys back on the boat to commemorate our trip.

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Tonight, our fantastic friend Major S arrives to sail back with Capt H. They’re planning to make their way down the coast via (hopefully) Bellsund for another drink with the Polish research team, Hornsund and weather permitting, Bear Island. If they’re not completely exhausted when they arrive back in Tromso, they may spend a day or so exploring some of the coastline there as well.

Tonight, Dr D and I catch flights back to Oslo and then tomorrow to London. On Monday is my grandfather’s memorial service. And Tuesday, I start work in Weston-Super-Mare. D flies back to Vancouver on Thursday. Captain H is back at work the following Monday. It’s odd to think of everything coming to an end. So I’m going to run through highlights instead, in no particular order…

Although first and foremost: All the wonderful people we’ve met, by boat: Touche, Boreal, Celene, Wigwam, Arctic Ice, Rabalder, Umiak, Mae West, X332 belonging to Harold and Tourer (we hope you guys made it in the end!!!), the Polish delivery boat and I’m sure there were more!

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Puffins trying to fly (and Auks). This photo is cheating by the way, I took it from the edge of a cliff a few years ago in Iceland…

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The Polish Research Station in Calipsobyen

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Sailing in 24 hour sunshine

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Champagne at 80 North

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Reindeer

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Baileys – thank you Captain Senior (x2)!!

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Glaciers – and the total loss of perspective!! Size takes on a whole new meaning up here…

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Not having to lift the outboard – thank you hoist!

The silence and tranquility of calm days

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Getting the spinnaker up (in sunshine)

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Pyramiden vodka

I could keep going for ages…

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