2004 Expedition Blog - Day 2
Saturday, 11 September 2004, 19:00 (Cape Farewell time)
Exceptionally clear light and no sign of the promised gale
7am Saturday and the Noorderlicht sails out of Longyearbyen in exceptionally clear light and no sign of the promised gale.
Five hours sail and we draw into the Russian coal mining town of Barentsburg where a fine layer of coal dust blackens a newly snowed on landscape. The town however is not without charm, Lenin's bust oversees Stalinist architecture and wall murals of painted forest landscapes offer nostalgic memories of the homeland.
All of this brings sharply into focus the politics behind trying to preserve this natural wilderness and historic/economic needs - we leave wishing that the powers that be could have the foresight to protect this extraordinary place and put in place a 100 mile fishing exclusion zone to allow this short arctic food chain the room to nurture itself without threat. How much more vibrant would the wild live of Spitsbergen be without having the need to satiate an ever more needful human greed?
We sail on North between the Island of Prins Karls Forland and Spitsbergen, all the seven sails of the Noorderlicht are set in a force five wind on the beam, its perfect and the light is to die for, because the sun never rises high into the sky and we live in a permanent state of evening light - the dream of all photographers as we lap up the passing snow covered mountains.
We now head for a distant shore line that promises the existence of polygons, rock circles formed and left by ice freezing and thawing over centuries. Tonight we plan to walk on this lunar like landscape before sailing through the night to arrive at Ny-Ålesund early in the afternoon.
We have also made a unilateral discussion to put forward our clocks 3 hours to make the most of the daylight - as of tomorrow we will be sailing on Noorderlicht time and I will report on its success or failure.