Arriving in Svalbard

Today we arrived in Longyearbyen. It’s the largest settlement on Svalbard and houses an almighty two thousand people. It’s part mining town and part tourist attraction so the hotels are all nice and modern but there’s a mine and the houses are very utilitarian, as is the norm in Norway. We have arrived basically in the height of summer so the temperature is peaking at an amazing 6 degrees C. Right by the mine is a set of metal object that look a bit like a ski lift. Upon closer inspection they turned out to bed a transportation system to get coal in buckets to the mine hub!

I loved the journey into Longyearbyen! We sailed really close the edge of the fjord because this part of Svalbard is riddled with abandoned Russen mines. There was one bit that really interested everyone. We went to just over a hundred metres to the shore so we could have a good look at the accommodation section of one of the mines, there were five buildings still standing, a road towards the pit head and a selection of mine entrances! After we leave Longyearbyen we plan to go back and take our dingy over so we can explore it! According to Nikolay, in soviet uranium mines the life expectancy for new recruits was six months. That’s shocking, even for the Gulags. 

When we tied up at the dock in Longyearbyen everything went wrong. Dad had to get off onto the dock to tie the boat to the pontoon, but when he did he jumped off the boat. Now most of you will think about that, so what? Well, jumping off a boat is a big no-no for exactly the reason I will now state. Dad jumped off, he landed heavily on his left knee, we took him to the doctor, his leg is broken, he’s flying home tomorrow to have a plate put in his leg, he probably won’t be doing the rest of the trip. So, moral of the story is, don’t jump off boats.

We are well and truly inside the arctic circle now. To illustrate: my watches are from ten in the morning to two in the afternoon and ten at night to two in the morning. At midnight Magnus got up when the change happened between dad and Nikolay and I thought, ah he must be up because it’s lunchtime. This was midnight and I thought it was midday.

I had the option of going back to England with dad if I wanted. This option has gone away. Magnus has forbade me from going back to England because, when dad is gone, Barbara, David, Constance and Nikolay will be gone. This means that by the end of next week, I will be the second most experienced sailor on the boat except Magnus. Ha.

Thanks for all the sympathy for dad on Facebook. I’ll keep you all updated on everything. I’ll write again when I can, bye.


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