Iceberg attack

Well; even more has happened since the last time I wrote, as I will tell you now. Immediately after sending my lat blog post we went to a place where there was a walrus carcass and waited there to see if a polar bear turned up. We anchored there and waited a couple of hours but unfortunately got no polar bear. After two hours Magnus noticed an ice berg floating this way. He decided that we would need to move as it was quite large and would cause some damage if it collided with the boat. We went to weigh the anchor, David was at the helm, I was ready to flake the chain as it came in and Magnus and Ellie were standing by to raise the anchor, then the windlass jammed. We tried to reactivate it but it had clearly had enough. We started to try to raise the anchor by hand as the berg floated nearer and nearer. The wind picked up, the boat rocked from side to side, the anchor raised foot by agonising foot, the ice berg drifted nearer, I started going through what I would grab before going to the life boat. Then, when the ice berg was under fifteen feet away, the windlass jerked into life and the anchor came up! We motored off as fast as we could. Magnus and David decided that we should go back to Ny-ålesund and dock for the night. We radioed ahead to a man named Nick we’d met who looked after the British research station. He was in his pyjamas at the time. Nick came out and inspected the pontoon for us to see if there was space. We reached the harbour and started to manoeuvre into a docking place. We tied up and then decided to call it a day, it was five past midnight.

This morning we got up and left immediately. We went back to the walrus carcass for breakfast and tried to spot a polar bear, we failed. We then motored on through a fjord to an even larger glacier than the one we saw yesterday, this was – while beautiful, and much much larger than any other in Svalbard – not as interesting as the one we saw yesterday. We didn’t see any bits fall into the sea, though there were puffins. On the way there we saw two whales, a mother and a calf. We managed to get a lot of pictures of these two. I wanted to take some drone footage of the glacier but as it turns out dad has nicked all the devices that had the drone app on. On the way into the fjord there was a small cruise boat which was described by all as, stylish.

Tied up next to us at Ny-ålesund was a vessel that I can only think of as a rehab boat. The vessel was called Skydancer and was owned by a charity that helped people get over drug addiction problems. The skipper was part of the crew that launched David on one of his balloon flights. Later on when we went to the shop his entire crew in there buying the shop out of soft drinks and cigarettes. The soft drinks make sense to me, they probably need something to help if they are suffering from withdrawal. Allowing cigarettes I find a bit odd. When we left yesterday the skipper gave us a Russian naval hat. I’ve taken some pictures of Magnus wearing it which I’ll send when I can.

After leaving the glacier we decided to head south through the fjord beside Ny-ålesund, which also contains an abandoned mine named London. At the same time we saw a whole school of dolphins that swam up against the boat. At the same time again the depth that the sonar showed went from over a hundred metres to five point two. This made everyone panic until we realised that it was caused by a shoal of fish passing underneath.

And thus ends another piece of waffle. Magnus has just taken a picture of me in the naval hat. Anyway, I’ll write again tomorrow, we’re seeing live walruses tomorrow. Bye.


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