Femmes et soleil

France, Léonie (born in Tromso on last 27 February) and I are in Longyearbyen since Sunday night. I'm getting ready to go back to Vagabond with snowmobile, France and Léonie will fly there when there will be any opportunity. Today is the Women's day and the sun is back in Longyearbyen after the long polar night. 2 very appropriate events for us!

Some news from the boat: "Today we went to the new ice that built up after the sea ice outside the bay cracked two times during the last week during strong winds. We were very curious to see how the ice differed on the surface because we could see the different colours of the ice from the moraine during the last days. To this occasion we finally took out our fresh longjohns and enjoyed the rare feeling of fresh and clean clothes on the skin. Amazing how special that feeling gets living in a place where it is not easy to wash clothes. After a first little fight between the dogs (no serious injuries) since Eike came we hope they understood that this is not allowed. It is incredible that we never saw Imiaq as satisfied with himself and the world as today after the fight before - even with a little hole in his foot and a lot of being told of by us. To compensate for that we had ginger bread as desert yesterday made in a pan and now a new load is in the oven. The doe survived sin ce Christmas, flew here with a helicopter and now is the right time for eating it we decided. Yesterday, after a deliberate cleaning morning, we went downhill skiing close to the glacier front and found out that the dogs just can't manage with us without sled! Sanja found the very fitting comparison with a group of lost chickens. We spent a lot of time trying to convince them not to sit or walk on our skis but to find their own way or at least leave us room to move. We got some funny moment with one of us lying in the snow, dog over, under and between the legs and the poles, ropes, rifles and skis in between. Sanja and Eike."


"Yesterday evening surprised us with complete lunar eclipse! The sky was clear and we could follow the eating up of the moon comfortably from the mess after turning off our beloved helicopter fuel lamp. The boat was surrounded by spooky atmosphere of sudden darkening of the night and the stars and northern lights appeared while the moon slowly became emerged in the shadow of the earth. The dark red moon kept us awake until late in the night. The best entertainment in the long evenings is John J. Rowlands' "Cache lake country", which we read aloud to each other every time we need a study brake or at random times of the day. With him we have learned how to lift up a canoe on your shoulders with least effort and what kind of a fly-tying wise is the best in the North Woods. Today we were on a skiing trip with the dogs trying to slow down our progress by sitting on the skis or trying to walk between our legs. Still we managed a snow sampling transect and a photo session with s unglasses on an iceberg after finding out that iceberg climbing is also possible with skis. Sanja and Eike."

Great nature

"After a snowy and bad-view day that hold us inside most of the day yesterday, today we had a brilliant day with a morning polar bear that was strolling by some 200m away while Eike was outside with the dogs, rolling itself in the snow many times and apparently being just mildly interested in the strange happenings close to the boat. After giving up hope of seeing a polar bear and already doubting all the stories about polar bears living on the east coast Eike was very happy to finally got to see one. After this good start we set out for a sea ice transect and just when we were finished, the sky cleared and the sun showed her smiling face to us. No doubt, we had to extend the trip a bit! The snow is fairly deep at the moment so it is hard work for the dogs to pull the sled but it more fun anyway if we have to work a bit too to go where we want to go. Now the full moon is shining brightly, bathing the world around us in an unearthly light, rivers of snow streaming over the ice driven by the wind. The temperature dropped 10 degrees during the day and we had up to 30 knots wind this evening. Nice to see natures strength now and then and the hot chocolate tastes even better when it is cold and blowing outside :) Eike and Sanja"


"On the way back from Arnesenbreen we skied close to the shore of Storfjorden where the lead has opened the day before yesterday. Despite the temperature of -27 degrees, we really had the feeling of the first spring day. The lead had got incredible blue mirror-like new ice cover, decorated with millions of white frost flowers. We could actually hear the ice growing and bowing against the shore. Eike and Sanja"


"The current low pressure has forced us to study and to spend hours chopping ice from the inner windows. The catch of today was a full bucket full of ice once breathed or cooked and then condensed. The wind has opened a huge lead parallel to the coast maybe 4-5 kilometres from here and reminded us that we actually are in the Arctic were it's supposed to be harsh. The new snow has cleaned the landscape. Eike and Sanja"


"Our strong team of five polar dogs took us easily five kilometres NE from Vagabond for the ice thickness measurements. The ice towards Agardhbukta turned out to be all hummocked, which made the sledging interesting as well as the fresh bear tracks all around in the surroundings with not so great visibility. But what we would not do for science :D! 50 cm wide lead had opened last night in the middle of the ice profile 2 km from the boat. All I hope is that the ice stays in the bay and the food Eike is now cooking will be good even if the potatoes had frozen. Sanja"


"After Helle left today with Martin and Sigur who brought Eike as the new crew member to the boat, the quietness of the bay surrounded us again. It was a beautiful day with the sun touching the tip of the mast for the first time and fog lying over the ice here and there. Of course we had to get on a trip with the new dog team: Eike brought Janson and Loki with her to help Jin, Imiaq and Frost in the sledge bulling business. But first we had a briefing about all the do and don't which are important on a boat in the arctic winter. Eike's 2 dogs said hello to the 3 Vagabond dogs already the day before without any fight, and we were quite hopeful that it would work well on the trip: and it did. So with more "dog power" I started to show Eike the wonderful surrounding of Ingelfieldbukta with the result that she had to repeat the phrase "that is sooo beautiful" hundreds of times. We crossed a lot of polar bear tracks on our way and Eike was really amazed about their size and fr equency. Coming back we taped the part of the cabin that a young bear tried to destroy a day before and observed another bear a couple of km away on the sea ice. Despite of that we enjoyed a warm tea and hot chocolate in the boat afterwards. A short weather report: minus 25 degrees in the afternoon and perfectly clear sky and little wind :) What a start for the new crew member. Sanja"


"17:00 and my pick up crew has just arrived. Tomorrow we will drive back and tonight will be my last on board Vagabond stuck in the ice. The last three weeks have been extremely -fantastic -interesting, -silent, -fun, -cold and sometimes a bit scary. I will definitely miss this bay, the boat and all the beautiful moments, but most of all I will miss the sledging trips with Sanja, Jin, Frost and Imiaq! Goodbye Ingelfieldbukta and Vagabond. Now...I'm really looking forward to a nice warm shower and a cold beer! Cheers, Helle"


"The lesson of today: if you want to chaise a bear away by shouting, don't use Finnish. This might encourage the bear to come closer! Luckily Helle had some effective Danish swearwords to save us. Half an hour after the visit of the bear, we were happily surprised to get a visit from two police officers on a inspection and tracking trip. Coffee and cookies seemed to help for the disappointment we caused by telling Inglefieldsbukta is definitely the wrong place to look for thiefs. After this action packed morning all five (girls and dogs) were enjoying a sledge trip in today's 10 minutes of sunshine on the sea ice of the bay! Helle and Sanja"


"Who said that you can not get sea sick in a boat frozen in the ice? Because of the temperature dropping down to -27 Celsius degrees yesterday, the ice was expanding and causing the boat to tilt slightly. It's probably not more than couple of centimetres, but for sure we do have to go downhill to the kitchen now! Helle and Sanja"