The return sail from Spitsbergen

Looking back on Svalbard I think how much time I could spend up there. So much to explore, not just by boat but on land. So much amazing hiking. Its the kind of place that you cannot get bored of, the landscape is always changing. One year there will be more snow than the last, the next the glaciers will have retreated more. This year the pack ice was a lot further north than previous years so it meant a 150 mile motor north just to see it, so instead we spent the time ashore and cruising around the fjords.
The second trip was sailing from Longyearbyen back to Tromsø. Its was a week shorter so not as much time cruising but we still got to see a lot. Instead of going as far north we went as far as Kongsfjord just north of Ny Ålesund. One of the most stunning places I have seen. It helped that the weather was clear and sunny when we got up there, the glaciers take on this sparkly appearance instead of these grey mucky rivers sat on the side of the mountain when its sunny.![IMG_5632](
We edged our way in to the largest glacier on Spitsbergen, no closer than 200m as it was calving but the waters were uncharted so we snuck in until we found a spot about 30 meters deep and dropped the hook for a spot of lunch. The moment the engine was off all 10 crew sat in silence staring at the glacier, towering above and every few minutes would roar, we could try to catch the ice falling before we could hear it, as by the time you hear the roar of it calving the fallen ice was gone. Its quite a spectacular sight, seeing this ice, thousands and thousands of years old tumbling into the ocean creating little wavelets that we sat rocking to.
The largest glacier in Svalbard
After returning to Longyearbyen we dropped off the rifles and stocked up on food again before the sail home, we headed back across the Barents sea. Going south down the West of Spitsbergen we had very little wind, and what there was came from the west so we managed to get a quick look into Hornsund which is the last fjord on the island as you head south. Its the most spectacular scenery, the pilot book described it as astonishing so we felt like we had to have a quick look. Only problem was, it was so foggy we could barely see the bow. But we navigated in by radar and still it was so thick in there that after a couple of miles we decided to turn back. No sooner had we done so, we get a call from a French boat that had been following us down the coast wondering why we turned around. Another french boat had gone in before us and said that it was clear further on, so we went a little further and when the fog really wasn’t lifting we thought it was about time we headed back to Norway. On our way out we did luckily get a peak at the mountains as it started clearing and they were right, it was truly spectacular.
4 days of sailing back to Norway saw 24 hours with 30 knots on the nose but the rest of the time we motored in silent fog.
Endless fog and following fulmars
For the best part of it there was not a ripple on the water. The North going current made it a little slower than the trip up. On approaching the Norwegian coast we saw the sunset for the first time, which for me was well over a month. It was nice to experience the darkness again, it gave me a sense of time which you just don’t get when the sun is still shining at 2am. When we finally got to the mainland we anchored up, which by this time it was almost complete darkness, we sat in the black night drinking port and chatting about all the silly things that had happened over the previous couple of weeks. ![IMG_5621](