Whales, oil and ice

We have once again returned to Ny-Alesund.  Yesterday, after our excursion to the shore, we motored on down to a beautiful bay which has the graveyard of one hundred and thirty dead whale hunters.  It also includes a hut for the warden of the site and two whale boiling pits.  Allow me to explain: in the eighteen hundreds there was a large demand for whale oil.  The only use I am aware of is that it was used widely in oil lamps and to make soap and margarine.  This demand was so much that the companies were prepared to handle the cost of shipping the equipment, coal, food and men to Svalbard to retrieve this oil.  The men would catch a whale, boil it and then send the oil back to wherever they came from.  Although it has a grim past, the bay was extremely beautiful and oddly, not very cold.  We got some very nice pictures and a seal gave us and acrobatics display.

Ny-Ålesund 3 no Copyright
Ny Alesund – Copyright Harvey Barrison – Flickr

When we got back to the boat we motored on down to the fjord that Ny-Alesund is in.  We were trying to decide between going and staying the night by a glacier or going back to Ny-Alesund itself.  We decided to return to Alesund.  When we got back the first thing everyone did was have a shower, which was lovely.  We also finished off and apple crumble that Ellie had made, which was also lovely.  Then David went to see Nick, who runs the British post here, who said I should be able to have a look round the British survey base.  [insert the most exited noise you can make]

Last night, where we were anchored, there was a small ice flow which over the night would pass alongside the boat.  Spoiler alert, it did.  In the middle of the night I heard the ice clunk against the hull.  This was sooner than I’d anticipated so I got up to have a look.  Funnily enough Mum did the same thing at exactly the same time.  We had a look outside and surely enough the ice flow had surrounded Northabout, to me it looked as if Northabout might be slightly closed to the shore than when I’d gone to bed.  I checked on the GPS and reassuringly the boat was no closer nor farther from the shore.  Although it did worry me at the time.

Magnus has just come in to the internet hut at Ny-Alesund and requested that I showed him a website that sells realistic lightsabers.  It’s called ultrasabers for all those who like star wars.  On that topic, a while ago i mentioned a booklet called, Revelations From God on the Judgement of Britain. As it turns out, on of my mothers friends runs the Cambridge Science Library, the one in England not in the US, and the author of this booklet sent them one.  So if no one else did she knew exactly what I was talking about and why it was so funny.  Heh, heh, heh.

On the way down to Ny-Alesund we had a whole lot of nothing happen.  My shift was satisfyingly boring and my rest time involved sleeping.  We did have a nice lunch of tomato soup and bread and some of us have felt seasick.  Other than that nothing much has happened.  Sorry about that.  I’ll write again tomorrow when I’ll hopefully have been inside the survey building. So, I bid thee farewell.


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