31 Dec News archive 2006
News archive 2006
31 December 2006
From the shipping company (29 Dec 2006)
On behalf of the crew and shipping company I wish you a very happy Newyear!
From the shipping company (23 Dec 2006)
Today we sailed the ‘Oosterschelde’ back to Rotterdam. ‘We’ that is: Gerben and his son Mattias, Maarten and Bregje, Roelof and Cor. It was cold, but the sea was calm and beautiful as always. Around 20:00 we moored the ship alongside the ‘Salvator’. The ‘Helena’ is moored just behind ‘Oosterschelde’, so the whole fleet of the company is brought together now. We have some days rest and wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy Newyear!
From the shipping company (21 Dec 2006)
The last bits and pieces.. We work very hard with a large group to finsih the work this week. We want to go back to Rotterdam and the people from the shipyard want to have a quiet Christmas. We plan to sail back on Saturday.
From the shipping company (17 Dec 2006)
The ship should be ready for the carpenters, but we didn’t manage to get this far. Therefore we worked also this weekend. We cleaned the whole ship, which was really necesary, and we made a list of all jobs that have to be finished this week… There is also disapointing news: the hydrailic cilinder which was delivered with the hydraulic door is not the right one. A new one wil come only after four weeks. In the meanwhile we cannot walk from one site of the bulkhead to the other, as the door is closed.
From the shipping company (15 Dec 2006)
The hydraulic door is put in place and most of the heavy steelwork is done. We seem to be a little behind schedule, as there is still a lot of work on making all the pipes and conections. On the backside of the bulkhead we are ready for the carpenters and we hope to sail back to Rotterdam at the end of next week.
From the shipping company (7 Dec 2006)
The work seems to go faster now. The bulkhead is
welded and the surveyor came to inspect it. The galley gets its shape
and slowly we get an idea about the new plan. Tomorrow we hope to hoist
the hydraulic door in place.
From the shipping company (2 Dec 2006)
We left the drydock on Thursday, as expected. Due to the good weather we have painted the whole hull in the few days that we were in. When we were back in the water we thought we made a mistake while painting the waterline. Later we realised that we put so much weight out of the ‘Oosterschelde’ that the head came up almost 40 centimeters. During the coming weeks she’ll go slowly towards her normal trim again.
From the shipping company (26 Nov 2006)
The refit inside the ship doesnt stop the ‘normal’ work; Each year the ship has to go in drydock for cleaning, painting and inspection. This year it will be on Monday 27th of November. We have checked the anchor chains, hull and rudder last year and we changed the propellor shaft at that occasion. Therefore we expect to have a quick job this year. If the weather stays fine we hope to be back in the water this Friday. The work inside the ship goes on, also when in drydock.
From the shipping company (17 Nov 2006)
The ship has changed quite a bit since we arrived in Stellendam. From the outside it still looks nice, but inside…. When you come in you will still recognise the heater. The rest is gone. The steps are rusty and lead down to a black hole. Deep down there five men are working between the sparks, flames and a heavy smoke.
They are cutting the old sewage tanks into small pieces, which we carry out the ship by hand. Because of the thick layer of sediment on the inside of the tanks everything smells bad. The watertight bulkhead will also be removed. Parts of it are already cut out. We are proceeding well and we hope to finish the demolition work next week. We are all looking forward to start rebuilding again.
From the shipping company (11 Nov 2006)
It took some efforts, but we are ready for the next step. After taking out the walls, floors, pipes, pumps etc. the ‘Oosterschelde’ is ready for the shipyard. This weekend we will sail to Stellendam where we will take out the old tanks and bulkheads and construct the new. We hope to be back in Rotterdam at the end of the year.
On the ‘Salvator’ too the work is going on steadily. At the end of this month we hope to move to our new office.
From the shipping company (6 Nov 2006)
We are doing allright. (A bit strange to say perhaps when you take your ship apart). But we do work hard indeed and the entrance of the ship has made a remarkable change. We hope to be ready for the steelwork at the end of this week.
From the shipping company (31 Oct 2006)
Finally we started. Today we worked with ± 15 people on both ships: ‘Oosterschelde’ and ‘Salvator’. We still have to find a rythm, but after a few hours the ship already looked completely different inside. We first put all small items, photo’s, etc in boxes and then we started to remove all doors and beds. At the end of the day it was dark inside the cabins because we removed all lamps too.
From the shipping company (22 Oct 2006)
This week it is relatively quiet on the ship. We kept the agenda empty to have some time for preparing us on the refit. We are now busy gathering all small items that we wont need the coming months and pack it all in boxes. Thursday we have the ISM-audit by Bureau Veritas. The independant surveyor will have a closer look on our security- and maintanance procedures. Partly by checking the logbooks, lists, etc, but also by asking the crew to perform a safety-drill for him.
16 Oct 2006 11:04 GMT
51°54.41’N, 004°28.72’E. Compass 090.
The race went well. We were 2nd over all. After finishing the race, we have left Amsterdam yesterday afternoon and arrived back in Rotterdam last night at 01:40. We will stay here for the coming months. Lots of construction work is ahead.
14 Oct 2006 07:38 GMT
53°02.56’N, 004°51.31’E. Compass 090.
The ‘Oosterschelde’ arrived at Oudeschild (island of Texel) last night at 19:00. The first 2 legs of the ROTC Young Professionals have both been shortened, mainly because of a lack of wind. The ‘Oosterschelde’ did well up till now (that is before application of the ratings). We will have a team captains’ meeting at 11:30 and there we will be informed about the rest of the race. We have a nive E-ly breeze and that is promising. Certain is that we will have the finish in Amsterdam on Monday.
13 Oct 2006 12:39 GMT
52°43.24’N, 004°33.23’E. Compass 018. Knots 6,0.
One of our guests writes:
"October 12: From our meeting point at KPMG Amstelveen we went to Rotterdam to participate in the first edition of the Race Of The Classics For Young Pofessionals. Goal of the race (10 teams) is to race from Rotterdam to Lowestoft and from Lowestoft to Amsterdam in the shortest time. After storing lots of food (many loafs of bread, spaghetti, cabbage and 4 barrels of beer) we left at 13:00 for the North Sea, where the race started at 18:00. Everyone in the meantime had swallowed a anti-seasickness pill and the ship had been explored. Note that we had the most beautiful ship of the racing fleet: the ‘Oosterschelde’.
Hours went by and miles as well. Things on the ship were explained to us, like safety procedures and sail handling. Sails were hoisted, sails were lowered, ropes were coiled and knots were made. Some daredevils even climbed to the yards or went into the bowsprit. Respect! The wind was not helpful though. Some ships would not have been able to get to Lowestoft in time, and the race committee decided to skip England. This was announced during the night.
October 13: Everyone awake, no one seasick. We had three shifts in the watch, and there were all kind of jobs to do, hoisting sails, folding sheets, polishing all brass, even the beer tap (that went unused until now). The captain says we’re doing well in the race, yesterday a third position and we’re gaining today. Now to the island of Texel, where we will have a party instead of the one in Lowestoft.
Anthony thinks we are the best crew in ages. We’ll keep it up, at least for two days."
From the shipping company (12 Oct 2006)
The organisers of the Race of the Classics (ROTC) have organised the ROTC Young Professionals, a try-out. The idea of the race itself is the same as with the original ROTC. Participants will not be students though but former students that did once participate in ROTCs and now have a regular job. The ‘Oosterschelde’ will race in this try-out. Start is today, at the Rotterdam Veerhaven harbour. Finish is Sunday in Amsterdam, at around 15:30. The race is to England and back.
9 Oct 2006 14:15 GMT
At this very moment (16:15 local time) we have entered the river at Hoek van Holland. ETA Veerhaven Rotterdam is between 18:30 and 19:00 local time.
From the shipping company (9 Oct 2006)
The ‘Oosterschelde’ is now underway from the English Eastcoast to Rotterdam. The estimated time of arrival is Monday Oktober 9th, at approximately 19:30 hrs.
8 Oct 2006 06:54 GMT
54°14.94’N, 000°10.06’W. Compass 132. Knots 8,3.
"We had planned to wakeup around 06:00 on Saturday morning, but things took a little longer then expected to get started so early in the morning. The usual morning rituals of coffee, weather reports, motors, generators and full sail pack, were all under control and we departed from the quay, and set of into the weather that waited for us outside the breakwaters. When we were almost outside the harbour, several dolphins began to swim alongside, and surf the bow wave from the ship, not exactly what we had expected to see so early in the morning. We were past the entrance and out into the sea, making to the South, the sails (double reefed) were set and the last stage towards home had began. The weather reports were not really that favourable, with NW-ly gales turning to the southwest, also gale force. We decided to stay close to the Scottish and English coast lines to help reduce the size of the waves and also shelter from the wind. Eventually you got used to the motion of the schip and the rushing sound of the wind through the rigging. As we made good progress along the coast to the south, all the passengers were impressed by the power of the storm and how the ship reacted under the conditions. Eventually the winds reduced and so did the waves and we continued our way along the coast, admiring the city lights and full moon that lit up the horizon and our night sky. We still have around 200 miles to Rotterdam and we hope to arrive possibly on Tuesday morning sometime, but will keep you posted when we have a better ETA."
From the shipping company (6 Oct 2006)
Yesterday night, at two o’clock, the ‘Oosterschelde’ arrived in Aberdeen. The first part of the voyage the ship has made very good progress and with the weatherforecast for today it seemed to be a good idea to make a stop. The plan is to leave Aberdeen on Saturday, early in the morning. The ETA in Rotterdam depends largely on the weather, but the ship is expected to arrive on Monday. As soon as we have an update on the time, we will announce that here.
6 Oct 2006 19:58 GMT
57°08.60’N, 002°05.42’E. Compass 090.
"How quickly things can change at sea. In the morning you’re racing along with top speeds and all the sails reefed, then in the afternoon, the reefs are taken out because the speed was decreasing almost as fast as the wind. Our ETA was constantly changing from several days too early to the other extreme of days too late, it was still several hundred miles to go and the weather was getting more and more difficult to predict. Just another typical trip in the North Sea, where anything is possible. From Tuesday morning until Thursday morning the sail plan changed as often as the weather. The ship and those on board busy with sails, rain, wind, waves , fishing boats, oil platforms and all the other normal things that happen on board during such a long journey. The newest weather report came through and it was not really what we wanted to see at this stage of our trip. Wind from the southwest and south and lots of it. We decided to head for the cover of the British coast and try to get there before the beginning of the bad weather. Thursday morning it was decided to go to Aberdeen, in Scotland, it was our plan to arrive late in the evening, or early morning. We arrived at 02:45. It is always a difficult decision to make to head for a harbour before the bad weather begins, and it is also more difficult to decide when to leave once your inside the safe harbour. It is exactly that, a safe harbour, so that once your inside you have no real idea exactly what is going on outside the harbour walls, you sit on the deck, in relatively windstill conditions, and watch the clouds race over head and hope you made the right choice. Meanwhile the guests make the most of the unplanned stop over and spend a day getting to know the city and enjoying the fact that not everything around you is moving, you can put your coffee cup on the table, and it stays on the table. The weather fax is doing overtime and we have better weather reports coming in. We decide to leave early in the morning for the last 380 and more miles back to Rotterdam and will be able to predict a better ETA when we get a little closer to our goal."
3 Oct 2006 00:44 GMT
64°05.74’N, 005°09.43’E. Compass 195. Knots 6,6.
We crossed over the polar circle early on Monday morning. The wind is still from the north and around the 6 to 7 Bft so the ship is racing along with reefed sails sometimes with speeds of over 10 knots.We are about at the halfway point in the journey and it is only now that people begin to realise just how huge the coast of Norway really is. Some of the guests are beginning to miss the trees, and the grass, and the general busy life that runs throughout any big city, but the atmosphere is good and all are enjoying the display of absolute power from the ocean. Waves that come from behind and lift the schip slowly up in the air, and set it back down several meters further. The deck was full with cameras this afternoon, trying to capture the feeling of the ship on the ocean and the size of the waves. But it is just that, a feeling, and the grey coloured photos don’t do it justice. Tonight we should be passing along the coast between Ålesund and Bergen (just to give a reference point for the people at home) and setting a heading just a little more to the south, in the direction of Rotterdam.
1 Oct 2006 20:22 GMT
66°49.48’N, 008°24.02’E. Compass 219. Knots 5,8.
We have been sailing since yesterday around noon. The NNE is continuous and varies between 3 and 5 Bft. Sometimes the wind shifts a bit and we gybe to get the best out of it. Watches are filled with eager hands to help along. Those who had to get accustomed to the movements of the ship, are all doing well by now. For some it may be cold but for the crew, used to Svalbard temperatures, this 9 C is rather warm. Tonight around 1 o’clock we will cross the polar circle.
1 Oct 2006 GMT
67°45.20’N, 010°30.97’E. Compass 213. Knots 7,4.
The winds that we were waiting for have been found. Yesterday it started, at first just a bit but slowly we had a steady wind that enabled us to make good progress in the last 24 hours. We have left the Lofoten islands behind us.
30 Sep 2006 07:05 GMT
69°18.56’N, 015°38.03’E. Compass 232. Knots 6,5.
The last night before entering Tromsø we spend in Ytre Kaaruk. We thought it would be a quiet place but the wind started giving our anchor problems after dinner. In an area like this one never knows whether such winds are local or more regional. We hoist anchor and shift to Rackfjorden. Early next morning we start for the last miles of this voyage. For us it’s almost summer now, and a light breeze brings us right before Tromsø. The last part is done on engine; we pass under a bridge which has a minimal height of 36,5 meters. Although the water is low, we progress very carefully and for a moment everyone is silent. Then, at quay 8 in Tromsø, our last Spitzbergen expedition comes to and end. In the day we visit the city and at 19:30 we have our farewell dinner.
Next day is exchange day. In the morning our guests leave, and in the afternoon and evening the next group joins us, the people who will bring the ship home.
We have everyone introduced and talk about the stay on board and the upcoming voyage to Rotterdam. Because of the expected N-ly winds we leave immediately, at 21:36. At 02:00 we were at open sea and we slowly leave the Norwegian coast behind us, looking for wind and depth, of which we don’t have much at the moment.
27 Sep 2006 07:30 GMT
69°50.17’N, 019°38.58’E. Compass 245. Knots 3,9.
The strong winds prevented a landing at Bjørnøya. The trip to Norway was fine, a backstay wind made us do an average of 7 to 8 knots. We now are sailing in the fjords, in the direction of Tromsø. We will anchor somewhere here for our last night. Tomorrow morning we will do the last miles of this voyage.
24 Sep 2006 07:15 GMT
75°42.01’N, 016°43.28’E. Compass 140. Knots 6,9.
Yesterday started gray and snowy but it turned into a nice day. We left our anchorage at 10:00 and went closer to the Hornsund glaciers to have a good look. Fierce sunlight in between patches of fog and some snow. We put the zodiacs into the water for a photo shoot. After a while we had a 6 Bft all of a sudden, within 20 seconds. So there was a lot of work to be done, working the ropes and sails. The photographers came back, wet but satisfied. At the end of the afternoon we payed a visit to the Polish station. Here winter had started as well and they were going home.
Now we are on our way to Bear Island. We do 7 to 8 knots in this N-ly winds, straight to our destination. This N-ly has been going on for a while and the swell no doubt will make it impossible to land at the north side, near the radio station. We now aim for Sørhamna, in the southeast.
23 Sep 2006 05:26 GMT
77°00.97’N, 016°15.25’E. Compass 090.
"It was only a short trip from our anchorage in Van Keulenhamna to the other side of the fjord in Fleur de Lyshamna. This is the place were we discovered a dead whale that had been washed up onto the rocks, when we came to Svalbard for the first time, and with each trip back we have been able to see the slow decay of the beast. The first time their was a polar bear on top, trying to get through the tough skin to the meat underneath and almost every time after that there was at least one bear in the area, or several bears feasting on the handy snack. Unfortunatly the last time there was no bear to be found, I guess that no self-respecting bear would, if you had seen (or smelt ) the state of the whale now. I have been told that I have a pretty good imagination, but I had to do my best to see that what lay there on the rocks, only 100 meters from the bow ( unfortunately, up wind) was, or is, a whale of about 10 meters long. Because of all the ‘bear action’ throughout the season we were not able to go ashore and see the many bones left over from the hunting of Beluga whales. The chance was high that we could finally set foot on land this time. After the last visit, with no bears, we figured that the whale was too far gone to be appetising for any animal. We were once again surprised by ‘mother nature’. Up on the hill in the small bay was bear No. 1. Sleeping against a rock, only lifting his head to see what was making all that noise when the anchor went in. Meanwhile, bear No. 2 was strolling along in the background in the direction of bear No. 3. Bear No. 3 was a small white fluffy spot up in the hills, so it remains a little bit questionable if it really was a bear. It’s simple, if you see bears then you don’t go ashore, no point in asking for problems with such an agressive and powerful animal. So no walking, just lots of watching and making some photos. The next morning as the anchor came up, to our delight bear No. 1 was enjoying some breakfast on our whale on the rocks, that just got a little bit smaller. In the distance, bear No. 2 (or was it bear No. 3) was just arriving for his morning meal. The two bears changed places and went about their morning routine as we watched from close-by. By this time everyone was awake and crowding on the foredeck to get that ‘special photo’, cameras and binoculares were pointed at the wonders of nature, two polar bears feasting on a whale. You don’t see that very often.
We continued on our way, out the fjord, to the left and again off to the south, Hornsund. The sea was still a little rough and the wind fro
m the north. We raced along the coast and into the last fjord on the south-west coast of spitsberg. All the sails were set inside the fjord as we sailed all the way to our anchorage for the night, not using the engine. A good team, working together, guided the ship through the ice blocks and into the small cove where we have spent the night."
21 Sep 2006 07:19 GMT
77°37.12’N, 014°54.70’E. Compass 185.
"With the glacier ice covering almost the whole fjord we decided to try and get just a little closer to the giant white rumbling monster that kept us awake all night (a little bit too theatrical i guess, but you get the idea). Steering the ship around the all the blocks in the water in combination with the wind, that constantly changes direction, kept everybody busy, people in the mast for the best photo of the ship surrounded with ice and those on deck, changing from side to side to see the blocks glide past the ship as we headed for the entrance of the fjord. The call from the foredeck was ‘ice bear on starboard ‘; at first I thought they said ‘iceberg’, which was strange because we were totally surrounded by icebergs the whole morning, and to say something about the ice, now, was a bit too late. It was indeed an polar bear on starboard, standing on the blocks of the glacier that had been blown by the wind into the shallow corner of the fjord. The nature here is always surprising with what you will see and of course when and where. We watched the bear slowly pass by as the ship made its way out of the fjord, and with the tide taking us out to sea, through the north passage of Askeløya, we set sails and headed south. The ‘Oosterschelde’ was once again bouncing over the sea with great a speed and not much sail, the 14 NM to our next stop was quickly behind us. We were headed for a small bay, on the northern side of the Van Keulenfjorden just inside the entrance. Despite the low temperature and a little light snow, the deck was full of energetic people helping with the striking of sails, we even had 4 people up in the schooner mast to pack away the square sails. Rounding Snekkevika island and heading north towards our place for the night, we saw a group of belugas along the shore as we were entering the bay. The anchor was set, the open fire was burning and dinner was ready, just another day in arctic paradise."
20 Sep 2006 06:46 GMT
77°46.37’N, 014°37.08’E. Compass 073. Knots 0,1.
"With our dreams of going once more to the north before we left for home, being blown away with the strong northerly winds, we decided to stay the night in Ymerbukta and to leave early the next morning. With a good nights rest for all, and an early breakfast, the sails were hoisted at the same time as the anchor and we made our way slowly out to sea. In the shelter of the mountains that surrounded the fjord it was difficult to see what was ‘outside’ waiting for us. The sails were reefed with good foresight, and as the ship began to sail free from the refuge of the Isfjorden the speed on the GPS also started to climb. Once out on the open water the ‘Oosterschelde’ began her journey to the south with an ever increasing tempo. The ship was racing over the ocean swell from the last few days, along the coast to the entrance of Bellsund and finally into the Van Mijenfjorden and setting anchor in Fridtjovhamna. The average speed was around 8 knots, and sometimes we did 10. Fridtjovhamna is a small and narrow fjord, with a very active glacier at the end, a tricky entrance and full of large ice blocks (sounds like most places up here). Throughout the night you can hear the rumbeling and grumbling of the thousand year old ice as it moves slowly towards the water and finally plunges with a spectacular landing, creating large waves that move along the whole fjord like a shock wave. The guests are walking along the shore, trying to get closer to the glacier, and waiting for that one special moment when nature shows just how much power is locked up in something that is so beautiful. The sun is shining in full glory but the temperature is about -4 C."
18 Sep 2006 08:37 GMT
78°16.49’N, 013°57.66’E. Compass 115. Knots 0,1.
Crew member Anthony:
"On Sunday morning we woke up in Colesbukta, to see that the winter indeed had arrived in the north. Everything was covered under a thin white blanket of snow, and the thermometer was struggling to climb above 0. At such a moment I had to think about my mother in Australia, who was complaining about the weather there turning into a really cold winter, around 10 to 15 degrees. This is in the Netherlands considered to be quite good temperature for the summer, everything is relative to your surroundings. After breakfast the guests had a chance to stretch their legs ashore, they also stretched their arms with small snowball fight (Netherlands against England and Belgium). Once back aboard we left for Barentszberg, a small (relatively seen) Russian mining town which is quite used to tourists walking around their little city. They have there a souvenir shop, swimming pool, post office, a bar, a museum and many other shops and buildings that you would expect to find in any other normal small town. Once all the big furry hats with those flaps over your ears were bought and the post cards were sent, the beer or coffee all gone, we waved ‘good buy’ to Barentszberg for the last time this year. We set our sights for the north, crossing over the Isfjorden, turning left an heading out to sea, then a little to the right and into Forelandsundet. Behind us in the distance you could see the mountains covered in snow and ice, with a small chimney at the bottom, pumping out black smoke from the coal fueled power station in Barentszberg. The wind forecast was from out the north, not so good for a sailing ship that was also heading north, but ‘they’ had said not so much (10 knots), so we continued onwards with the motor with the plan to arrive the next morning in the Krossfjorden…… However during the night the wind became stronger and stronger and our speed slower and slower. It was decided that the best option was to turn back and look for another place to anchor for the night. Back to the Isfjorden, and into a small anchorage called Ymerbukta. Our plan to go to the north was only a little bit successful, we are now about 16 NM north of Barentszburg, so that is still north but not quite the idea we had in our minds when we started yesterday. The anchorage is a beautiful spot, surrounded by mountains and with a glacier only 1/2 NM in front of us. The guests are now, as I type, ashore exploring their new winter wonderland, with snow, ice and some reindeer along the coast line, in the full sunshine of Spitsbergen. A truly picturesque sight…."
17 Sep 2006 09:27 GMT
78°06.94’N, 015°00.04’E. Compass 090.
Indeed winter has started. Last night, arriving at Colesbukta, snow started coming down real seriously. Up till now… This morning the ‘Oosterschelde’ wore a white dress. We are still at Colesbukta. Our guests and the guides are making a walk somewhere in the white landscape. As soon as they return, we will leave for Barentszburg, to finish our Russian weekend. Then off to the north. Brrr.
16 Sep 2006 19:25 GMT
78°12.23’N, 015°02.17’E. Compass 217. Knots 8,5.
Our guide Hans:
"Saturday night. Twilight still takes a long time. Officially it is still 5 days till winter, but here it has started already. Do I forget the fall? No, 5 minutes ago it started snowing, and that is winter to me. For weeks the leaves of the little trees have turned brown, and that’s fall. The leaves won’t fall far since the trees just grow to a height of a centimeter.
12 hours ago one could say it was fall. The sun was shining on this first day of the new voyage. That was a nice start, anchored somewhere in the Isfjorden with beautifully colored mountains all around. Temperature -2. During our walk we could see traces of the frost that came in the night. And there was fresh snow on the mountain tops. Must have been quite a shock for those that came from the almost tropical temperatures in the Netherlands. Not that easy to make the transition. People exchanged tips on how to stay warm, and some clothing swapped hands. That was quite a relief with the sunshine on the first day, and no wind. "I never thought it would be that nice here in this time of the year", someone remarked. Ok, so today it was fall. Maybe tomorrow morning will bring a programe of throwing snow balls and walking in fresh snow. Who knows. Weather reports predict -18 in the night and -10 in the daytime. We will have to wait and see, and we’ll keep you posted."
15 Sep 2006 14:35 GMT
78°14.58’N, 015°32.55’E. Compass 090.
At 03:00 in the night the taxis were waiting to bring our guests to the plane. Guests and crew said goodbye to each other. They probably all are back home now, sitting at the stove with hot chocolate; at least that’s what we tend to think here at Svalbard. Around 14:00 the new guests started arriving. Each found a hut and bed and we will leave after supper, to start on our last Svalbard voyage of this summer. Winter has started here and the scenery definitely is more white than before. A couple of days to the north, and then it is south. Not yet because we have a strong NE-ly. So we will leave the Adventfjorden and firstly seek some shelter at Skansbukta, and we will be able to sail there.
14 Sep 2006 16:20 GMT
78°14.58’N, 015°32.56’E. Compass 090.
We left early in the morning from the small bay, Bjonahamna, and passed by the ship full of movie stars hoping to see somebody famous in their full ‘morning glory’, without their hair done or makeup on. We only saw two of the crew, standing on the back deck drinking their morning coffee and smoking a cigarette.
Our motor was doing its best due to the lack of wind, as the rest of the ship was slowly waking up, to their last day in the far north. The wind filled in as we entered the Isfjorden around 08:00 and sails were set. With as many different types of sail settings and changes as there was different kinds of wind, we made our way to the last harbour for this trip. We arrived just after lunch and the guests had the afternoon to explore the ‘big city’ and get once again a taste of civilization. After our last evening meal on board (reindeer), the weather changed once again, and it began to snow lightly. The winter season will soon be upon us, hopefully in a few months. The taxis are coming tonight around 03:00 to take everybody into the warmth back in Netherland.
13 Sep 2006 19:49 GMT
78°23.64’N, 016°50.73’E. Compass 339.
Crew member Anthony:
"Pyramiden is truly a bizar place to visit. With a fantastic view out over the fjord to one side and the other a gigantic scar on nature, that goes straight up to the top of the mountain and far deep into the valley. Its almost impossible to explain what you have seen and the emotions and dreams that this place brings to life. Over all you can see the remains of something truely Russian. Large buildings, built to last the test of time, placed in a logical and politically correct order around a huge main city square, the only thing missing is the buzz of people going about their daily routine. There were huge housing complexes and offices, a school, a cinema, a hospital, sport hall, swimming pool and many many more. But also an asylum (?); strangely enough that was one of the biggest buildings there. The only people that we saw there was a small team of men working on the quay, busy loading scrap metal onto a ship. The Russians had promised that they would clean up the deserted city, but they were really only removing the things they could reuse in Barentszburg or that could be sold for some quick cash to help out their struggling economy. The men were not very surprised to see us ashore but were happy to receive a tray of cola, to help smooth the wheels of international relations. In return they gave us a small book over the pyramiden, of course in Russian, and I asked them to sign and date it for us; nice guys in a very, very strange place.
We left before lunch and headed for Bjornahamna, a small bay at the entrance of the Tempelfjorden. Just before the bay was a ship at anchor, they sent a small rubber boat out to meet us, and said that they were making a film in that part of the fjord until about 21:00. So we looked for another place to go. Eventually we decided to make our own film, the ‘Oosterschelde’ under full sail, unfortunately not so much wind but still worth the effort. Slowly we came closer and closer to the Hollywood big boys sitting on the sand. The camera flashes from of the beach were blinding, and I guess that we showed them that, we too, are in the show business. The anchor went in just after 21:00 and a few enthusiastic guests went ashore for the last time in the true wilderness of the north. Tomorrow we leave for Longie bongie bear …."
13 Sep 2006 10:30 GMT
78°39.16’N, 016°23.74’E. Compass 158. Knots 0,1.
Yesterday we were on our way from barentszburg to Bjonahamna. The weather forced us to change destination to Skansbukta. Here we found a nice protected place for our camp-fire. This voyage brings us the first dark nights. A really great camp-fire was the result, and we sat around it till early in the morning. From the ship just a glow can be seen, in a Grand Canyon-like surrounding. The clear and waning moon rises above the mountains. These are unbelievable places.
In the morning the weather seems more quiet. Our visit to the poor mining settlement of Barentszburg fed many conversation and we decided to go for Pyramiden, another Russian mining settlement, abandoned in 1998, and they left everything behind. The ‘Oosterschelde’ did not yet visit this place before. Right now our guests and the guides are investigating this ghost town. We will see with what they come up….
12 Sep 2006 13:54 GMT
78°11.59’N, 014°33.43’E. Compass 029. Knots 4,5.
We left Barentszburg an hour ago. We sail in the Isfjorden, unfortunately the wind is strong and against. Our goal is Bjonahana. There probably will be no time for a walk, but we plan a nice camp-fire in that protected small bay. In the polar night at a camp-fire with a glass of Gluehwein….
12 Sep 2006 11:54 GMT
78°03.83’N, 014°11.99’E. Compass 090.
Passenger Bregje writes:
"Saturday night. On our way to Ny Ålesund in the Kongsfjorden. We meant to go ashore here on Sunday, but several attempts to anchor or to moor at the quay fail to get our approval; the swell is too big. Elsewhere in the Kongsfjorden the situation is the same, and we decide to leave. We find a beuatiful spot a bit more to the north, in the Krossfjorden. We are able to make a great walk here, even close to the glacier. In the evening we try for Ny Ålesund again, but once more this fails.
Back to the Kongsfjorden, where we find a place in Signehamna, a beautiful, quiet and green little bay, where we were before. This time the surface is covered with a thin layer of ice. We proceed very slowly. After a while the ship turns and the whole layer of ice turns with us. After a couple of hours a wind shift pushes the ice out of the bay. We are anchored. Inside, sitting close to the woodstove, we hear the ice brushing the ship’s side.
When we go out the next morning, the sea is much calmer. We go to Blomstrand, opposite Ny Ålesund. Flowers are off flowering but we see long-tailed ducks for the first time. Far off we see reindeer, and while we are watching them, suddenly some are close by. The ship has sailed to the other side, where we will be picked up. The wind has blown big chunks of ice on the beach, and we walk in a gallery of shapes and colors.
That afternoon we moor at Ny Ålesund, the most northern village in the world. Everyone grabs the chance to contact home, by telehone or even by mail through the most northern post office of the world. Here we meet another Dutch ship, the ‘Noorderlicht’. We exchange experiences. Somewhat painful for us is their news that they saw a lot of polar bears on their cicumnavigation of West-Spitsbergen, one being dangerously close. Then we leave and sail into the dusk of the polar night."
7 Sep 2006 08:10 GMT
79°41.33’N, 013°34.81’E. Compass 211. Knots 1,2.
Yesterday we left Ytre Norskøya at 12:45, under sail, direction Moffen. On the way we pass 80 North, and we baptise everyone with Arctic water, in accordance with ‘centuries old customs’. We approach Moffen to the minimum allowed distance of 300 metres to have a close look at a pod of walrusses. Then, without any wind at all, we go to Worsleyhamna in the Liefdefjorden. We arrived this morning at 01:50. A quiet night at anchor and now a great, sunny day. Our guests are making a walk at the ‘reindeer plain’.
6 Sep 2006 08:47 GMT
79°51.12’N, 011°38.14’E. Compass 173. Knots 0,1.
So, from Bourbonhamna we left towards Poolepynten. That night brought us lovely sailing on a backstay wind. And an extra treat: a whale show. Fin whales and belugas, and rumouts have it that dolphins were spotted. At 04:00 we had to start the engine. No walrusses at Poolepynten, except one that had died some times ago. The cameras were directed to its bleached bones. When the zodiacs came back, we had a bearded seal around the ship, curious and watching. Next was Signehamna. In the afternoon we held a drill to abandon ship. Then the sunlit Lillehookbreen showed up in the fog, which caused most of us to take a break from supper. Then we enter the bay of Signehamna, where it is time for a whisky with glacier ice. In the morning we start with a walk. The afternoon brings a visit to the Lilliehookbreen. The edge of the glacier is half a mile more down than on our 1966 chart, so we are in uncharted waters. We stop the engine and float very slowly amidst the numerous chunks of ice. This makes one silent.
Last night we went to the Zeeuwse Uitkijk at Ytre Norskøya. A backstay wind of 5 to 6 Bft, and a lot of work for crew and guests. The narrow passage south of Danskøya was a hot topic during breakfast. Now we are at anchor at Ytre Norskøya.
5 Sep 2006 19:26 GMT
79°23.39’N, 010°38.37’E. Compass 005. Knots 5,7.
Passenger Willem continues:
"Our path in Signehamna leads over grey stones in all sizes, once deposited there by a glacier, built up in round heaps by the permafrost. Some icecold streamlets. A bare landscape, surrounded by mountain ridges. A shallow lake, mirroring the sunlight; its brackish water was used by the crew of a German meteo post, which was placed here in WWII to support the Kriegsmarine. A bit higher they had a radiomast. The remains of batteries and switches are still there. In their camp we see rusty containers, left tools a tree-saw, a spade, tent-pegs, hinges – sings of human life. Would they have told their children they spent those years on Svalbard-North? What would they have done after working hours? Listening to Wagner, playing cards, drinking? And hoping that they wouldn’t be forgotten.
In this barren landscape some details catch the eye. The reedy calls of a red-throated diver and especially the mosses. There are all kinds of mosses, it’s like a bonsai jungle from above, green, ashen-white, orange, yellow, in many shapes.
Or the tingling of the ice in the fjord when pieces fall apart or bump into each other. Sometimes a rolling thunder when a bit of glacier comes down, sending a swell towards the ship.
Remarkable, this mix of big and small, of inaccessability and intimacy. These surroundings are much more powerful than the human being or this ship of steel. It makes me feel like a small boy peeping through a curtain at a huge matron."
4 Sep 2006 10:01 GMT
78°26.89’N, 011°52.57’E. Compass 090.
One of the passengers writes:
"Tring. The alarm sounds. In the middle of the Forlandsundet between ashen-white glaciers on both sides. A bit after two o’clock, while Monique’s onion soup is working its way down. Everyone to the middle deck. Grabbing life-jackets on the way out. Cook Sabine reads out the names, Joachim missing, he is still playing the piano, resembling the orchestra on board of the ‘Titanic’. But he has to come as well when the watertight door closes. Although it is just a drill.
Then we are complete with our orange w.c. seats. Tony then gives us a very clear picture of what can go wrong at occasions like this. Afterwards we discuss what it could have been in a real emergency. The management consultant teaches us thyat there will be two kinds of behaviour: those who do what has to be done, and those who freeze and need a leading hand. The crew inspires confidence, and for the rest we will only discover the truth when we will really be in the life-boats. Joachim is welcome in mine, as long as he brings the piano."
3 Sep 2006 19:37 GMT
77°34.85’N, 014°58.14’E. Compass 328. Knots 0,2.
Passenger Willem writes:
"There we are, in Bourbonhamna in the Van Keulenfjorden. Not a place for a date; if you are late, the cell phones don’t work here. A chilly wind and sometimes a bit of sunlight on a far-away slope. We wait for the polar bear, near the remains of the now famous sperm whale. This morning around 06:30 ( a Sunday without church bells) the ‘Oosterschelde’ anchored here, and we have been monitoring the area since. We, that is some die-hards with big lenses and telescopes, ready to photograph this white fur coat. It is 15:30 now, and we are having a fit of the blues, all bear jokes have been told. Chnaces are big here because of this 15 metre male sperm whale, discovered by the crew a couple of weeks ago. But this bear, one of the 3000 in the archipelago, flatly refuses to show up. It has been a full schedule for the bear in the last weeks, and he now only shows up when professionals arrive. First mate Anthony tells us about the National Geographic crew that flew in two weeks ago; they even had a group of bears in front of their lenses. On the earlier voyages of the ‘Oosterschelde’ there always were bears. Maybe it is because we saw these fin whales at Longyearbyen. A deep sigh of the blow-out and then the top of the body, next the little dorsal fin. And then waiting for the repetition, some metres on. We saw them, but the passengers on a fisherman cutter that raced past us, didn’t.
We are now on the most southerly place of this voyage. We will sail north in a couple of minutes, bearless. They told us that there will be walrusses on Poolepynten, on Prins Karls Forland; they have to be there, otherwise we might have a mutiny on our hands."
2 Sep 2006 20:47 GMT
78°07.50’N, 013°48.23’E. Compass 255. Knots 6,7.
Passenger Bregje writes:
"During the night of Friday to Saturday we fly, from Tromsø to Longyearbyen, along with the sunset and we even succeed in overtaking this. Once we leave the clouds behind, the sunlight lits the snowy Svalbard mountain caps. We arrive in a beautiful and silent world. The ‘Oosterschelde’ is waiting for us, her warm wood stove is welcoming us. After a short night the voyage starts, and we start well with two big fin whales next to the ship, really close. After a few hours we anchor at Colesbukta, a former Russian coal mine. We go ashore for a walk. Some houses and some sheds, it is hard to imagine that people lived here. The chairs, beds and other stuff in the houses are proof of the live that has been lived here. On our way back we see a polar fox with a prey, a bird. We are able to get very near, some meters away, but it does not seem to disturb the animal. Back on the ship we enjoy hot chocolate."
2 Sep 2006 10:00 GMT
Yesterday the guests that joined us on expedition number 4 left the ship and a new group arrived on board. Unfortunately the ‘old’ guests took the sunny weather with them. Today the weather is grey with a light drizzle. But there is compensation: directly after we left the quayside a pod of whales came to have a look at us. They have been following us for more than a hour already. Our intention is to go south after we leave the Isfjord and we hope for a favourable wind.
31 Aug 2006 05:27 GMT
78°29.49’N, 016°02.18’E. Compass 214. Knots 7,0.
This morning the ship was whitish and there was a thin layer of fresh ice on the water. The summer slowly reaches its end. We have left our anchoring place at Skansbukta at 07:00 and are on our way to Longyearbyen. ETA 10:30 LT. (Check out the webcams; select region Svalbard.)
29 Aug 2006 20:56 GMT
78°23.72’N, 016°50.80’E. Compass 348.
Todaym after a walk at Colesbukta, we left for Bjonahamna. Although the wind was against, we decided to do some tacking for a couple of hours. It was a nice sunny day and we enjoyed sailing the Isfjorden at some 8 knots. Just after supper we anchored in the beautiful Bjonahamna bay. Tomorrow we will make a walk in this area.
29 Aug 2006 20:23 GMT
78°23.72’N, 016°50.78’E. Compass 090.
Passenger Johan writes:
"Oh Svalbard", my neighbour answered, in a voice that made me think she hadn;t the faintest about its location. A theme park in Friesland? A village in Surinam" Between Norway and Northpole? And yet 23 fellow travelers and 6 crew went voluntarily into Europe’s fridge. One can read about Svalbard, listen to stories, see documentaries, but the actual experience is another story. Espe3cially on a sailing monument as the ‘Oosterschelde’ is. Monday for instance: a black smoke producing chimney, desolate buildings, gray. That is the Russian coaling enclave Barentszburg, the other side of the overwhelming nature of the area. For one moment my enthusiasm and awe is replaced by gloom. Fr one moment I long for another conversation with my neighbour."
28 Aug 2006 15:27 GMT
78°03.82’N, 014°12.01’E. Compass 134. Knots 7,3.
We drop anchor at Blomstrand at 07:45. The last hour asks for extra attention; the bergy bits from the Kongsbreen glacier are bigger than one thinks when still at a distance. They also make it more difficult to find rocks on our radar. For hikers this is a great place. We plan for a long walk to the remains of a marble quarry. We pick them up again at the other side and we leave for Ny Ålesund. There is another ship, a Russian vessel with 50 guests, and the village is ‘crowded’ all of a sudden, especially in the souvenir shop. We spend the night at the quay. We leave at 06:00, leave the fjord, pass the Forlandsundet to the south and go to the Isfjorden. No sailing winds. Some moments of sunshine. Far in the distance we see whales blowing. On our way to the south we went once more through the narrow and
shallow passage east of Prins Karls Forland; this time we could see the
bottom all around the ship. We arrive at Baretnszburg at 17:00. A Russian gentleman gives us directions but we don’t understand. Many hear they cell phones beep when we get near and they start making their calls.
We spend the night at anchor in Colesbukta, a small bay in the Isfjorden with a former miners village.
27 Aug 2006 07:36 GMT
78°58.13’N, 012°09.04’E. Compass 024.
A quiet night in Bockfjorden and our walks near the hot spring (22 C) mark the turning point of the voyage. We turn around and leave the Liefdefjorden. On this Friday afternoon we visit the trapper hut at Mushamna, where a couple lives all year. Sometimes a ship visits them, but that will be over soon because of the end of summer. They only have themselves and their hunt. We are very welcome at their place and they allow us to take a peak into live at the end of the world. Then we go on again, distances are huge here. We have a nive NE-ly and once we are out of the fjord, we hoist the sails and go west, in the direction of Smeerenburg. There we find the remains of the largest Dutch whaling station of the 17th century. On Saturday, anchored between Danskøya and Amsterdamøya, we also visit Virgohamna, starting point of a balloon and blimp expedition at the end of the 19th century; both were not successful. In the evening the NE-ly starts blowing again and our anchoring place becomes a nasty draughty spot; time to set sail. After half a night of great sailing the wind drops. We anchor in the Kongsfjorden near Blomstrand. This morning we make a walk and in the afternoon we will visit Ny Ålesund, the most northerly village in the world.
25 Aug 2006 07:45 GMT
79°27.51’N, 013°19.19’E. Compass 090.
Our last message was sent when we were on our way to the Monacobreen. Our chart has 1966 data and the glacier has shrunk at least 1 NM. This meant we could sail until the 1966 glacier edge and after that no depths were given. A very impressive sight. The glacier at a little bit more than 1 NM, at least 2.5 NM wide, and the sextant helped us to determine its height at 75 meters. Once in a while big chunks came off, sounds like thunder, and a bit later a swell rolled under us. The ship was surrounded by bergy bits and we we enjoyed.
In the afternoon we went to the Bockfjorden. Not many miles, but the ice forced us to do it really slow. We spent the night at anchor there, in the back of the fjord, with very different landscapes and views around us, which changed when the sunlight changed. Red ‘Sahara sand’ mountains, snowy mountain peaks, the mouth of a muddy stream, moraines, yellow-sandy hot springs, etcetera. Right now we make a walk to the hot springs.
24 Aug 2006 14:19 GMT
We are now in the Liefdefjorden, in the north. We are sailing towards the big glacier, amidst the ice, and hope to get as close as 1 NM. Yesterday we passed 80 North and had a little party to celebrate. Tomorrow we’ll go to Mushamna to visit the trapper hut, and then back, westwards. During the night we wanted to take a walk on a plain that often has reindeer, but a polar bear prevented us from doing so. This morning we had bearded seals around the ship for a long time.
From the shipping company (21 Aug 2006)
We haven’t been able to set up a good connection with the ship in the past week. Nor via radio, neither via satellite. That is why we did not update this page earlier. Luckily the captain, Maarten Steen, who replaced Martin Thomsen, called us with the iridium-phone tonight. He told us all was fine:
"After embarking the new guests we immediately left for the Bellsund. There we found our dead sperm whale, which is still on the same spot. And, also the polar bear was still around. We managed to get quite near to him with the ‘Oosterschelde’ and we took many pictures. On our way to the north we saw a pod of fin whales at the entrance of the Isfjorden and later, at Poolepynten, we spotted the group walruses that is usually seen there. The first day we had some rain but ever since it has been dry and we had favourable wind to sail out of the fjord this morning. We are now heading for the Magdalenefjorden. The first snowflakes are coming down; winter is coming soon at these latitudes. The mountain peaks look already more white then last week. It might be difficult to contact the shipping company again the coming days, but we will keep on trying."
15 Aug 2006 10:00 GMT
78°07.00’N, 013°44.00’E. Compass 103. Knots 6.
We are on our way to Barentszburg. The last stop we made was in the Kongsfjorden, near the island of Blomstrand. During a three-hour walk we saw, indeed, many flowers, and also numerous birds. Before Blomstrand, we made a stop at Ny Ålesund, where the statue of Roald Amundsen has a central place in the village. Ny Ålesund is a modern centre for arctic survey and permanently inhabited. Especially for us the souvenir shop opened its doors.
Every day again we are surprised by the weather. Our knowledge, based on experience at lower latitudes, is not enough to predict the weather. The barometer changes only very little around 1025 Hpa. Once in a while we receive a professional weather forecast, but even then the actual weather proves to be quite different. On Danskøya, earlier this week, we even had to wait a night for a strong local breeze that goes around the island. Luckily it lasted only one night. The temperature changes rapidly too. Sometimes it is freezing cold even in our polar suits. The other moment only a thin jersey is enough in the sun. We are back in the Isfjorden now and the end of the voyage is near. Thursday we will arrive in Longyearbyen.
10 Aug 2006 19:42 GMT
79°53.80’N, 012°26.60’E. Compass 075. Knots 8.
Only one Polar bear has been spotted during this trip (sofar). Luckily there is plenty of compensation. Yesterday, for example, we left the Kongsfjorden under full sail on a bright and sunny day. Today we visit Ytre Norsk Øya. On this island there was a Dutch whaling station in the 17th century. The highest point of the Island is called ‘Utkiken’ or ‘Zeeuwse uitkijk’. This was where the whalers kept a lookout for their prey. A group of fishermen from Zeeland, who join us on this expedition, tell us that they become a bit emotional when they walk the path of their ancestors. We don’t see whales however, but do find a huge bone. It looks like the hip joint of a polar bear. We are glad that no living examples are spotted during this
walk. Tonight we will pass the 80th degree North and then we go on to the Liefdefjorden.
5 Aug 2006 16:50 GMT
After a few hectic days in the port at Longyearbyen the ‘Oosterschelde’ is once again underway, looking for adventures. We send our guests of the Spitsbergen-2 voyage off with the plane in the middle of the (bright..) night, having celebrated our last evening together with a wonderful dinner by Joost, our cook, and a very impressive and entertaining program by our guests, amongst others including a slide show and a home-made song.
In the early morning, the guests hardly gone, we had a large group of belugas close to the ship for about an hour right there at our anchoring place. At least 12 animals and also several young of a more greyish/black colour. Sorry guys, that we didn’t see them during your time here; guess you will have to come back next year.
Our new guests arrived in the next night and in the morning we made the final preparations for take-off and got on our way. This journey will take us along the west coast as well as to the north coast. We have two full weeks to explore the nature here and won’t let the cold rain we are experiencing at this moment spoil our moods; it’s all included in the Spitsbergen experience.
1 Aug 2006 12:02 GMT
78°09.48’N, 014°26.87’E. Compass 048. Knots 5,2.
"When last we spoke, we were heading from Smeerenburg to Ny Ålesund, along the coast. I’m not very smart, but I’m still quick enough to learn that they have only three kinds of wind here in Spitzbergen: too much wind, not enough wind and wind from the wrong direction. On our trip south we’re now dealing with a combination of the first and the last. We have a motor, unlike the first people to explore here, so our task was relatively easy. At around nine in the evening we were at the entrance to the Kongsfjorden, also the entrance to the Krossfjorden and the passage east of Prins Karls Forland. A very busy intersection in Spitzbergen, I saw two other ships. We were alongside at eleven, in the northern most village in the world: 78 56 N,11 56 E. The pub is open only on Saturday and Wednesday and the village is full of people doing all sorts of meteorological and ‘nature type’ research. In the morning the guests explored the small village, sent post cards and enjoyed being able to walk freely, without having a guide with a gun, trying to keep the group together (the gun is for the bears, not for the guests). We left for Blomstrandhalvøya just before lunch, a short trip across the bay. Landing on one part of the island and then walking along the coast to the old marble quarry in ‘London’ Still, with cranes, steam engines and other interesting artefacts. We lifted anchor and headed towards Barentszburg, some 80+ NM to the south, just on the inside of the Isfjorden. Passing Prins Karls Forland, through the shallow ‘forlands revet’ again, and to our surprise, by Poolepynten we could see our old friends again, still on the beach in a big pile of blubber, whiskers and long tusks. About twelve walrussesssenn (lots). We slowed the ship and changed course to get a better look. After a while we continued on our way, the wind was not going to help us at all on this part of the journey, but the ocean swell did however came to say hello, once we were free from the shelter of the Foreland, slowly rocking everybody to sleep (I think). A moment of excitement on deck came about, as Jurren (one of our guides, or M.I.G.s : Men In Green) said that he had seen a sort of bird that is very rare and only found in the far north: Larus sabini, Sabine’s Gull. However whilst he was running to get the camera and capture the moment, I was able to watch and enjoy all the birds circling around the ship. It was only after, that I realised this was quite a special moment. I’m not very good at recognising birds. Actually, all the moments here are so very special, what a fantastic part of the world, and this is my job! I’m very lucky… thank you Oosterschelde. Early in the morning we moored up alongside the quay in Barentszburg."
30 Jul 2006 18:34 GMT
79°10.37’N, 010°47.40’E. Compass 161. Knots 6.
"After being cut of from communication with the outside world, due to being hidden amongst the mountains at the top of Spitzbergen, we are now able to tell everyone our story of the last few days. It is true what mr. Barentsz said about the mountains here in the north: huge ranges with sharp tops that are mostly hidden from view by rolling clouds, or they stick out of the mist that hangs around at sea level making navigation around icebergs very interesting. The trip into the Liefdefjorden to visit the Monaco glacier was amazing – the deeper in we went the more ice that surrounded the ship. Lots of sunshine meant that the cameras were working overtime. We saw in a small sidefjord a small ship with whom we had earlier made friends with, the ‘Isbjørnen II’. They had discovered a polarbear on an icefloe so we changed course in their direction. On closer inspection we could see he was enjoying a snack of a bearded seal. Approaching as slow as we could, the bear was not at all interested in us, just the meal he had in front of him. The cameras went into overdrive, click, click, click. For almost an hour we watched our own private, discovery channel, from about 30 meters away. Total silence fell over the ship as we enjoyed the view – you could only hear the clicks of the cameras and the strange crunching sound of bones – truely unbelievable… only the strong survive .. the bear eventually swam away and we continued on our journey to the Bockfjorden and to the hotsprings in Vulkanhamna were we set anchor for the night. After lunch the next day we left the fjord and headed out to sea but first we stopped at the trapping station at Mushamna. Having never met a real life trapper before, the image you have conceived in your head of an old man with a long grey beard, smoking a pipe made from whalebone and a loyal dog by his side, that has lost one leg after saving his master from a near fatal bear attack, was quickly gone when we were met by one of the just two people living there. A small handsome Norwegian lady, with a soft spoken voice, was kind enough to show us around her home and explain us how it all worked up here in the wild north. She did have a dog by her side, however it had all four legs. After seeing various kinds of seals hanging up to dry (winter provisions), a mother bear with two cubs on the hillside and enjoying seeing the many White-bellied brent geese that live in the lagoon next to the hut, we returned back to the ship, along the way being regularly attacked by tens of Arctic tern who dive down and peck at the tallest person/object they see (advice: carry a long stick or walk next to Roelof). The anchor came up and we left for Smeerenburg. Arriving in the early morning we took a short walk through this piece of Dutch whaling history and left just before lunch heading into the wind towards Ny Ålesund. This trip is far from finished and we have already seen six bears, many seals and loads of different bird species; but unfortunately no whales – yet."
28 Jul 2006 02:37 GMT
79°41.34’N, 013°35.21’E. Compass 327.
Crew member Anthony tells:
"The last few days on board have been very busy, both for crew and for our adventure seeking happy holiday makers. Monday morning we hoisted anchor and set course for the Poolepynten. Expecting the walruses to have gone north by this time of the season, we were delighted to see no less than 12 lying in a big cosy pile on the beach. Early evening we left again for the narrow and shallow passage between Prins Karls Forland and the Spitsbergen mainland. The sont is about 60 NM long and 7 NM wide with depths of up to 150 meter; the tricky part is one small passage about half way up that extends out from both sides and has a depth of around 3 meter and is some 200 meter wide, all of course under water just to make it more interesting. Spitzbergen waters are a strange combination of wide open deep fjords and narrow passages between rocks and islands. Keeps you busy
Early Tuesday morning we arrived deep in the Lilliehoekfjorden (end of Krossfjorden), in Signehamna. We were greeted in the morning with a fjord full of ice. The rubber boats were put to water, and the batteries and film (old school) for the cameras made ready. A photo session of several hours was a good start for the day, we also enjoyed seeing several seals, also making the most of the sun and ice. The journey continued further northwards, with a stiff breeze in the back and sails set, arriving in the Magdalenefjord early morning. One of the most popular fjords of Spitzbergen, not really very big but at the end a huge wall of ice that produces giant blocks that float in all directions through the fjord, sometimes towards us as we lie for anchor. The rubber boat was used by our ‘iceberg cowboys’ to help persuade our big white friends to choose another path on their way out the fjord. The anchor again raised, and again to the north we go in he direction of Smeerenburgfjorden; with sails set we cruise up the fjord in the direction of Dutch whaling history. A small island called Amsterdamøya with the old site of Smeerenburg, meaning blubber town; this was to be our anchorage for the evening, however the anchor went down about 2 NM on the other side of the small inlet, a navigation fault due to the magnetic variations, so far up north nobody knows, but we spent the night for anchor at Virgohamna, a small bay from the island Danskøya (Danish island). Martin (our captain who is Danish and who had the last watch) was the only one that was not surprised. A small island with a very important history in the exploration of the arctic borders. Further to the north we set foot on land at yet another piece of Dutch history: Ytre Norskøya, the island known as the look-out (Zeeuwse uitkijk). From here we yet again head for the wide open north, and the small and low island of Moffen; with its highest point being about 1.5 meter Moffen was not easy to find in the thick fog that surrounded the ship just around dinner time. Of course with continually heading to the north we would cross over the 80 degrees longitude on our way to the island. This was slightly delayed due to a small steering mistake by the helmsman who managed to hold every body in suspense just a little bit longer by turning the ship slowly due east just under the parallel, in the dense fog nobody realised the change in course. The navigation hut was busting at the seams from people and cameras waiting to capture the moment, except it took longer than was expected (due to the change in course); once the joke was discovered we altered course and passed over our line at 22:05. With Moffen now in sight and the champagne finished we rounded the island to look for the walrus on the beach. Difficult to see in the fog (we had to stay at least 300 meters from the shore) but many we sighted swimming around the ship. Graceful in the water, but on land is another story. The compass turns once again but we head now for the south, the Liefdefjorden or the love fjord; who knows what adventures will be waiting for us there."
From the shipping company (27 Jul 2006)
Meanwhile the new guests and their luggage arrived safely on board and the seccond expedition has started. ‘Oosterschelde’ is on her way to the far North of Spitzbergen. Maybe she will even pass 80 degrees latitude this trip! Due to this position "on top of the world" it is not always possible to make radiocontact to the ship. Therefore we have no news-update from the ship yet. On the photo-pages you can find an impression of the first voyage.
From the shipping company (27 Jul 2006)
Passenger Guy van Hoek, on board in the current voyage, offers a report on the net.
24 Jul 2006 18:00 GMT
78°37.60’N, 011°26.23’E. Compass 326. Knots 7,3.
Our guest Hans Tromp writes:
"Spitsbergen 1 is almost done. We spent our last night in the bay Skansbukta. There is a ‘crowd’: a German as well as a French yacht, both with an aluminum hull. That evokes discussions on the beauty or uglyness of yachts. The German is clearly the winner. We have a lot of Koopmans fans on board and they all think that Koopmans designs are the standard. That’s tenable.
After a quiet night we make one more walk in the morning, to the (closed) gypsum mine. There’s a very nice wreck on the shore as well. Sep is off to escape human company for a while; he climbs the steep gritty slope and finally we discover him with our binoculars, in a small sheltered place next to a snow field, at a height of about 300 meters. After an hour of meditation he slides all the way down to ground level, with an awful speed. We are complete again and we sail to Longyearbyen, where we arrive at 13:00 (Saturday). The harbour master, when talking to him on the radio, apparently did not get what a beautiful ship it was that was approaching. He put us up at the coal quay, halfway the airport. That is not to our liking, so we drop anchor at a more respectable place. Now we will have to use the dinghy. Longyearbyen is explored by us. In the evening Joost makes us a lovely farewell dinner and we hear so many words of thanks in the name of the 21 that are leaving tomorrow. Me personally, I will stay; I’ve joined the ship in Kiel and had planned to stay one more voyage. This experience makes me value the crew even more; they have to clean the whole ship and they welcome the new group in a relaxed manner, and make the new ones feel at home very quickly.
That same Sunday evening we leave Longyearbyen and sail to Tryghamna, near the Isfjorden entrance. We make a big walk to the Alkhornet, where thousands of razorbills with their young sit on ledges, and we can watch parents teach young to fly to the sea. Sometimes they don’t succeed and a Glaucous gull has a fresh meal. It is mid’night’ when all are on board again. Due to the long trip to Spitzbergen, the many impressions and the walk, the ship is silent and asleep in a wink. Tomorrow we will go north."
From the shipping company (22 Jul 2006)
Right at this moment the ‘Oosterschelde’ is arriving at Longyearbyen. We watched her sailing in, she is visible on several webcams.
20 Jul 2006 15:35 GMT
78°14.17’N, 013°48.02’E. Compass 087.
After a visit in Ny Ålesund, the most northern village of the world, a sail through the night has brought us to the Isfjorden. With backstay winds and a heatwave of 10-12 degrees we cruised comfortably along the coast enjoying the spectacular coastline of rugged mountains and numorous glaciers. This morning we visited Barentszburg, a Russian miningvillage and now we are at anchor in Tryghamna (named first by the Dutch: behouden haven).
Here are a few comments by our cook Joost: "My head was filled with wild recipes before going to Spitzbergen, an expedition covered with new spectacular tasts, new combinations and bizar local products. In the Norwegian fjords we caught cod and coalfish, so at lunch we had baked fish, with raw, marinated fish as opener. On the markets of Mandal, Bergen and Tromsø I bought wild salmon, shrimps, smoked halibut and redfish. At lunch we had fish cake. Greenpeace adepts should note: we didn’t buy any whale meat. After Tromsø my dreams disappeared: no supermarkets, no cosy markets, and what’s more: it was illegal to shoot reindeer (sausages, tortas and stews). And we had the rifles! There was nothing interesting to consume. Just glaciers, glaciers and glaciers, lots of beautiful weather, desolate fjords, polar bears (we couldn’t shoot them either), millions of birds, polar foxes (don’t taste well anyway) and reindeer. My only hope is that the bird expedition of this afternoon will return some Common scurvy-grass, a garden cress alike plant that could be a nice touch to the salads. So, so far no shops. Lovely."
A chart of the westside of Spitzbergen can be downloaded here.
17 Jul 2006 03:08 GMT
78°12.15’N, 012°26.80’E. Compass 333. Knots 7,4.
We are sailing in the direction of Prins Karls Forlandet. No wind and a big swell, we roll heavily which makes it a bit uncomfortable on board. We hope to be able to go on land there, a big chance that we might find walrusses there.
15 Jul 2006 21:34 GMT
77°33.32’N, 015°02.69’E. Compass 035.
Where to start? Our last few days have been so full of amazing
experiences that it will be difficult to fit it all in this message.
Let’s see – we made two stops at Bjørnøya. Firstly in Kvalrossbukta, in the south-east,
where we went for a hike and later at a Norwegean meteorological
research station (Herwighamna, in the north), where we were given a short introduction to the
scientific work being carried out there. Approaching the island the
number of species of arctic birds increased, just mentioning a few:
Brünnich’s guillemot, Little auk, Glaucous gull, and the Arctic,
Pomarine and Great skua. On land the tundra revealed lots of artic
plants (Serastium arcticum, Papaver dahlianum, Arctic papaver) and more
land/coastal species of birds (Great ringed plover, European golden
plover, Purple sandpiper, Snow bunting). In the evening we left for
Spitzbergen enjoying a favourable SW 4-5 Bft. Though some were a bit
seasick, we had a swift and lucky crossing of the Barentsz Sea, which
is sometimes referred to as the devil’s dance-floor. This nickname
refers to its relatively shallow water and sometimes hard winds
resulting in big and short waves. We were again spoiled with several
sightings of humpback whales. Just before arriving on Spitzbergen the
wind died out and a thick fog surrounded us. The sails were taken down
and our main engine brought us the last few miles to our destination,
Hornsund, the most southerly sound on Spitzbergen. Once inside
the weather cleared and we zigzagged around the scattered little
icebergs and let the ship come to rest at anchor in Gashamna (Geese
harbour) for the night. We toasted to our arrival in style – whisky
with crystal clear glacier ice, just fished out of the water.
Friday morning we went ashore for a hike whereafter the course was set
for Sofiakammen (in Burgerbukta), an impressively steep mountain
towering 925 m. Here lots of Kittywakes and Fulmars have their
breeding places. The dinghy was launched for a close look along the the
glacierfront and we discovered some Ringed seal (Phoca hispida) and a
family of Beluga whales. During the day we kept a sharp lookout for
polar bears, without any luck. In the evening we went at anchor in
Isbjørnhamna near a Polish research station. We payed them a visit.
And this brings us to today… leaving Isbjørnhamna early in the
morning to go north to the Bellsund. A nasty swell against still stood
after the night’s strong winds and this slowed us down. At lunch we
arrived in the Bellsund and along the coast we saw a few old trapper
huts and many reindeer on the surrounding hills. Many sets of
binoculars are constantly sweeping our surroundings in search of
animals – walrusses, belugas, seals, reindeer, birds and polar bears.
Arriving at our planned destination for a hike ashore, the alarm is
raised: guide Jan sees something tiny white/yellowish, far
far away. Sailing closer the tiny spot grows larger and… it’s
moving… this time it’s for real: a beautiful and large Polar bear.
And what’s more: it’s standing on top of what turns out to be a
stranded dead sperm whale. Though we approach real slowly, the bear
swims ashore and disappears over the hills, but not before we get a
real good look at it. Not surprisingly we cancelled the hike. Instead
we took a closer look at the sperm whale from the dinghy – a 12 meter
long male giant.
We will stay here at Bourbonhamna tonight and have set watches in
case the bear should return for another meal. So far Spitzergen is
leaving us quite overwhelmed with all its beauty.
12 Jul 2006 03:56 GMT
74°06.16’N, 019°33.55’E. Compass 345. Knots 3,4.
And there they were. On the morning watch we were entertained with a regular whale show. Altogether seven sightings of humpback whales. Three times we saw one breaching, that is jumping so that only the tail is remaining under the water. One came so close that we heard the hissing of the breathing before we actually spotted it. Another was lying on its side slapping its large flipper on the water. What a treat.
Slowly Bjørnøya is coming in sight now out of the low clouds. The wind has decreased and we are down to about 3 knots under full sails. We have had good winds from the west since about 14:00 yesterday when the cold drizzle was also replaced with beautiful sunshine. Great sailing. Soon we will start the engine though and sail the last few miles to Kvalrossbukta (Walrus Bay) on Bjørnøya, where we will anchour up and go for a visit. Download a chart here.
10 Jul 2006 17:10 GMT
70°14.01’N, 020°15.04’E. Compass 012. Knots 6,3.
The first of all together six journeys on Spitzbergen (Svalbard in Norwegean) has begon. Our new guests arrived yesterday evening and today at noon we departed. First the last stores and necessities had to be purchased – as many fresh vegetables and fruits as the stores could hold, four new batteries for the engine room and, very important, two signal guns and two large caliber rifles. The last are obliged to carry when landing on Spitzbergen since the polar bears outrank humans in the food chain there. A this moment we are sailing past Fugleøya (bird island) which fully lives up to it’s name: literally thousands of puffins fly around us as we are sailing close to the steep rocks. High above them we see a few majestic white-tailed eagles. Soon we will reach open sea and begin our crossing first to Bear Island (Bjørnøya) and then to the south tip of Spitzbergen. These are whale waters. Obviously we really hope to spot a few.
From the shipping company (9 Jul 2006)
Today the guests for the first Spitzbergen voyage (Tromsø-Longyearbyen, July 9-23) left from Schiphol Amsterdam. At 13:00 they were all ready to check in at the SAS Airlines desk. Familiar and new faces, all eager to go. All went well, although the waiting in line for the passport controls took a lot of time.
They will fly to Tromsø via Oslo and will arrive around 20:00. A crew member will await them there, to escort them to the ship.
8 Jul 2006 21:03 GMT
69°39.11’N, 018°57.69’E. Compass 229.
The ‘Oosterschelde’ arrived this morning in Tromsø – the so called
Paris of the north. Our last leg took us to the wild and rugged
island group of the Lofoten just of the coast of mainland Norway. After
a visit in the main city, of merely about 3800 people, we sailed north
to the enchanting Trollfjord. A narrow entrance to a small fjord
surrounded by steep mountains, for a good reason one of the more well
known attractions of Norway. Whereever we sail we are greeted with much
interest by the friendly people here. The last days we have sailed
through the inner fjords anchoring up at night and enjoying the silence
and grandness of the nature. We have just enjoyed the results of the
evening fishing prepared deliciously by cook Joost at our goodbye
dinner. A slide show of everybody’s best foto’s from the trip was shown
– the beginning of this journey in Kiel seems so long ago measured in
impressions… Tomorrow is changing day – more adventures await the
From the shipping company (7 Jul 2006)
Tromsø’s harbour and other places on Norway’s coast, including the jetty at Longyearbyen, can be viewed on webcams. A set of them can be found here.
6 Jul 2006 16:53 GMT
We arrived at Lofoten main village Svolvær early Wednesday morning. After loading some fuel and having been interviewed by the local newspaper ‘Lofotenpost’, we left today and visited the lovely small Trollfjord. Now we still are between the islands and tonight we will find ourselves a nice place to drop anchour. Tomorrow we will go out on the open sea.
The locals told us that this year hardly brought any orcas. We hope for sperm whales, they are supposed to be present in the area north of here.
4 Jul 2006 06:10 GMT
66°45.22’N, 011°19.07’E. Compass 037. Knots 6,4.
At 05:30 this morning the ‘Oosterschelde’ crossed the Polar circle high in the north, for the first time since 1994 at our last expedition to Spitzbergen. Though the sun did actually go just under the horizon yesterday, we are experiencing 24 hour sunlight. Strange feeling to come on watch at twelve at night in full daylight. From now on we will not see our next sunset until the middle of August.
Since yesterday we are sailing in an almost unreal turquois colored water, and had it not been for the temperature one would place us not in arctic but Caribbean waters. The many layers of thermal clothing truely reminds us otherwise. We are at this moment under full sails enjoying a favourable westerly wind and doing a comfortable eight and some knots. The lookout has been sharpened since everybody is eager to spot one of the many whales frequenting this area – we keep our hopes up.
3 Jul 2006 15:00 GMT
65°14.36’N, 008°48.97’E. Compass 037. Knots 8,4.
Early Saturday morning we left Bergen after a nice visit. We sailed through the ‘skaergaard’ to Sognefjorden supposedly being the worlds largest fjord, stretching more than 200 km inland. The day started out with drizzle and low clouds but soon the sun came out and cleared the horizon so that we could enjoy the spectacular views of high mountains, some even snow-clad, all around us. We paid a visit to the tiny village of Vadheim (in Vadheimsfjorden – a side branch in Sognefjorden) where we could tie up at an old abandoned key. Anchoring is difficult here with the fjord being more than a thousand meters deep at many places. Despite being at 61 degrees N a number of fresh people, impressively, went for a cold dive, while others walked or went for a round in our dinghy.
That same evening we started our crossing towards the Lofoten Islands some 500 NM to the north. Once at sea the wind picked up from a S-ly direction and soon we were doing a comfortable 9 knots under sail. With the swell growing and coming from the back we were in for a ride, the ship rolling heavily from side to side. The warm gulf stream combined with the cold water coming from the fjords makes this a very nutrient area and we began to see the first gannets and puffins along with several kinds of gull.
Now, Bergen some 400 NM behind us, we are motoring again in wind still having another 230 miles to go, about a day and a half.
1 Jul 2006 12:56 GMT
61°05.94’N, 005°35.31’E. Compass 067.
The ‘Oosterschelde’ is in Vadheim, a small village in a small fjord inside the Sognefjorden.
On of our guests, Ingrid Dollee, writes:
"We, the ‘white watch’, are lucky. We were on duty when arriving at Mandal and we could sail her out as well. We left on Thursday around 21:00. Less wind and so less swell. We make good progress along the coast. My next watch is a quiet one. My mates steer and I spend some time sitting in the sun, reading, chatting and taking photographs. After a short nap around midnight I arrive on deck. We have entered the fjords again and all is lit in this northern summer night. It helps us to navigate. Navigational lights change their colour when their direction changes. Red is wrong, white is right. I steer the ship almost into Bergen; there captain Martin takes over and brings her in. I walk the streets at 04:00 in the morning.
I didn’t sleep long, Bergen waiting for me. First a good breakfast. The sun is shining and it is a warm day. The fish market offers us a taste of salmon, shrimps, caviar and what not. We take the cable car and go up on the hill to enjoy a great view of Bergen, its harbour and the fjord. The fish market also provided us with fish for the barbecue that we had on board, in the evening. Good company, meat, fish, salads and wine made it a great night. After washing the dishes and a last walk, I dashed into my bunk. We will leave Bergen during our watch of 04:00-08:00."
28 Jun 2006 15:18 GMT
58°01.65’N, 007°27.37’E. Compass 090.
After two full days at sea the ‘Oosterschelde’ has arrived in the first Norwegian harbour on the way to Tromsø and Spitzbergen.
We chose Mandal, a small town of 9500 inhabitants and furthermore the very southernmost town of Norway. Here we are enjoying the beautiful sun and the very scenic surroundings; from the viewpoint behind the harbour we can see the ‘skaergaard’ stretch out, filled with rocky islands and clear blue water, a very beautiful first impression of Norway.
We, as well, have made quite an impression here. The local lighthouse keeper, the owner of an 300 year old rope-makery, the owners of a traditional shipyard and the local newspaper have been along for a visit, along with many other curious locals. It seems our visit is now being used in a local discussion on whether to put a low bridge over the harbour, which would make future visits of ships like the ‘Oosterschelde’ impossible. That would certainly be a pitty.
Tonight, after the birthday dinner (fresh Norwegian wild salmon) of guest Niek van Hal, we will set course for Bergen. After a lot of motoring so far we are looking forward to the promised southerly wind, so that we can get them sails up and flying. After all, that’s what it is all about.
From the shipping company (26 Jun 2006)
The Kieler Woche was very succesful. And busy. Sunday afternoon we sailed our last daytrip and immediately after arrival we met our first guests for the voyage to Tromsø. Together we enjoyed the fireworks, the official end of the Kieler Woche. We decided to get some sleep before departure. This morning, at five, we left Kiel. At this moment we are sailing near Langeland into the Great Belt. The weather is warm, but very humid and the visibility is poor. With very little wind we are steaming up North and are making good progress.
From the shipping company (22 Jun 2006)
On our page Programme we soon will publish our preliminary schedule for 2007. We intend to make some voyages to Spitzbergen (Svalbard archipelago) again.
21 Jun 2006 09:15 GMT
54°22.38’N, 010°10.98’E. Compass 027. Knots 5,3.
Wednesday. Half of the Kieler Woche is still to come. With the S-ly winds, we were again able to leave under sail, we have main sail, staysail and topsail, going into the Kieler fjord together with tens of other sailing ships. Today the wind is a bit stronger and squalls are expected, so we have to do it easy with about 100 guests on the deck. We are preparing a reef on the schooner sail and the mizzen. The athmosphere among the people on board is very fine. Most of our catering personnel sailed with us before on these occasions. They are used to the movements of the ship, so we are able to concentrate on the sailing.
19 Jun 2006 14:05 GMT
54°20.74’N, 010°09.72’E. Compass 188. Knots 3,3.
The opening weekend of the Kieler Woche regatta week had fair weather, hardly any rain and calm winds. Every day brings us the great sight of all those boats and ships on the Kieler fjord. And every time a satisfied group of guests leave our ship, not in the least thanks to our catering personnel, who have become rather familiar to us and the ‘Oosterschelde’.
We hope to have a great week with them and all the guests.
16 Jun 2006 10:01 GMT
54°19.28’N, 010°08.61’E. Compass 090.
We have arrived safely at 10:00. Our guests had a great trip and are now on their way to Kiel’s railway station. We have started cleaning the ship and preparing for our first evening trip.
15 Jun 2006 22:00 GMT
54°28.60’N, 009°51.00’E. Compass 102.
Our storage rooms are fillied to the rim. We have to, because we will be north, in the polar area, for a long time. We will not return before the fall. At first some of us wear shorts, but the North Sea and a cold N, later veering to a strong and squally NE, soon force all of us to get some warm clothes. Rain and wind against. On Wednesday afternoon, on entering the mouth of the Elbe, the engine is stopped. Finally some good sailing. We have to work hard to get us up the river, against the strong tidal current. In Brünsbüttel we enter the lock. During the night we pass through the Nord-Ostseekanal. Unusual to have the sounds and smells of forest and agriculture on deck. Hares on the shore, and a hind with her young. After the locks at the other side, at Holthenau, we set all sails, make some tacks and gybe north. We love to do some more sailing. Then we enter the harbour of Eckenförde, lower all sails and open our Anlegebier.
13 Jun 2006 18:51 GMT
53°04.37’N, 004°33.77’E. Compass 015. Knots 8,0.
We are at the latitude of the island of Texel. Today, as we said before, started off with no wind at all. When finally a light SW-ly arose, we hoisted some sails, but after half an hour it veered to N. In a few moments we turn east and we hope for a course that will permit us to sail again. We enjoyed the sunny weather though and cook Joost treated us well.
13 Jun 2006 11:07 GMT
52°13.00’N, 004°10.70’E. Compass 045. Knots 6.
We left at 08:25 and reached the North Sea at 10:30. No wind and the current against us. Now we have a light breeze from S and we just hoisted the main sail and the staysail. Very hazy, hardly 3 miles of visibility. We passed Scheveningen.
11 Jun 2006 20:01 GMT
After some confusion about the arival of the Volvo Ocean Race participants, the moment had finally arrived on Saturday afternoon. We picked up our guests at Maassluis and went out to Hook of Holland to meet the racers, the wind in our square foresail, topsail and topgallant-sail. An impressive armada accompanied the boats up the river to downtown Rotterdam, where they moored in our Veerhaven harbour. And the ‘Oosterschelde’ moored at her own place in the entrance. Ashore there were thousands and thousands of visitors. In the evening a dj presented a light and sound show from a pontoon on the river.
On Sunday we went westwards again, with another group, to watch another, local, race by these speed monsters. Again the whole armada was there.
Tomorrow is our last day for storage and last minute jobs. We will leave for Kiel on Tuesday morning to participate in the Kieler Woche regatta week. The ‘Oosterschelde’ will return to Rotterdam somewhere in October.
8 Jun 2006 11:44 GMT
The new herring has not yet arrived, they are late this year. Another daytrip out of Scheveningen, new guests, some of them old acquaintances. The weather had changed: a meagre sun and a soft breeze. With a little help of the engine, we had a nice daytrip. When all the guests had left us, we went to Rotterdam. In and around the Veerhaven harbour there was a lot of hubbub because of the Volvo Ocean Race, although the participating yachts were not yet in sight. Tents on the shore, flags and lots of people. We arrived at our own place in the entrance of the harbour, a top location. The weather improved and we had ample occasion to ‘pimp the ship’. We painted the deck and the captain’s cabin and we polished all the copperware. And now we wait for the pros to arrive.
5 Jun 2006 19:04 GMT
52°05.98’N, 004°16.00’E. Compass 215.
Today we sailed a daytrip at sea out of Scheveningen. Nice sailing weather with a NW 3 Bft and a full house. Old hands, and some who were new to the sea. Because of the many days with NW, there was a light swell. Temperatures were rather low, and some had to pay their dues to Neptune. Tomorrow another daytrip out of here and then we’ll go home, before starting our summer season with the voyage to Kiel.
4 Jun 2006 11:40 GMT
After a quiet trip we arrived at Scheveningen early this morning at 03:30. Tomorrow and Wednesday we will make a daytrip at sea out of here.
3 Jun 2006 08:22 GMT
51°02.00’N, 001°33.44’E. Compass 060. Knots 7,5.
We are on our way to Scheveningen. The weather is fine, permitting us to do several jobs on deck. Yesterday was our last day in Portsmouth. We sailed to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race’s next leg, to Rotterdam. The Ericcson people joined us. It was quite spectacular, the racing boats coming close, followed by a multitude of small craft. The Solent was wild with foam. Once this circus was over, we went in the same direction: east. And because we were on engine and there was hardly any wind, wer soon caught up with the racing fleet and were able to say hello to the Ericcson boat once more.
31 May 2006 19:29 GMT
50°48.12’N, 001°07.41’W. Compass 090.
Another day in Portsmouth. While we were working, the ‘Oosterschelde’ in the afternoon was boarded by pirates. They took down our courtesy ensign and replaced it with the skull-and-bones. Shouts all over deck and they swayed on ropes, like in the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. They even brought a parrot.
Our stay in Portsmouth also inspired a film crew to make a promotional for a certain company and the ‘Oosterschelde’ was available for a couple of hours. Even live in a harbour can be adventurous.
30 May 2006 14:49 GMT
50°48.12’N, 001°07.48’W. Compass 090.
After having arrived at Portsmouth we had just a couple of hours left to prepare the ship. Our guests, employees of the Ericcson company that had arrived form all over the world, boarded at 11:00 and we left for the Solent to watch the In Port Race of the Volvo Ocean Race. Just 3 sails drove us to the Solent at 9 knots. There were so many ships and boats that it took a lot of care to find us a suitable position, near the windward buoy. Ericcson’s boat however did not perform very well and lost a spinnaker in a gust in a spectacular way, quite near us. Later on we went to the finishing buoy to watch the last two legs. It was the ‘ABNAMRO1’ that finished first, followed by ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. That night we finally had a long rest.
Today we cleaned thye ship. Port State Control came by to inspect our safety measures. It took some time but all went well. Now we enjoy a night off.
29 May 2006 07:31 GMT
50°48.11’N, 001°07.38’W. Compass 090.
Shipping company’s Reinier Hoogenboom tells us about his first trip at sea on the ‘Oosterschelde’:
The destination of the Ascension Day voyage was the southern coast of England, Portsmouth and Brighton.Once having left Rotterdam and arriving at sea, captain Maarten decided to go SW to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Although there had been much rain before, the sky cleared and it became a bit sunny. Later on, when I was participating in the 6 hour watches, the weather worsened again and we decided to enter Calais. We had to stay there during the day and during the first part of the night, because of a strong W to SW. It offered our guests a chance to visit downtown Calais. In the night, at 02:00, we left. Everyone had come onto the deck to assist. For most of the guests, and for me too, it was rather exciting to leave in the dark. There was a fog and the fog-horns at the exit were wailing ominously. Then came the swell and this started off those notorious, ugly sensations to the stomach. After a fully lit ferry had passed us at great speed, we were told told to hoist the sails. We crossed the traffic lanes and set out a course to Brighton. It was Anthony’s birthday and the navigation cabin had been decorated. But deterioration of the weather finally got me and my stomach. The crew of course was not troubled by that and enjoyed cook Joost’s great meals. Near Brighton, we were told that we could not enter the harbour; they had been expecting us the next day. We went to the near-by Shoreham-by-Sea. The next day brought great weather; the sun was shining, wind direction was what we preferred. We forgot about the day before and all the seasickness very quickly. At Brighton our guests were leaving the ship and the ‘Oosterschelde’ prepared for her next leg, to Portsmouth. We all agreed: the days had been very varied, but that’s what a voyage is supposed to be!"
26 May 2006 19:11 GMT
50°57.68’N, 001°50.79’E. Compass 090.
Contrary to our expectations (much rain that day), the Ascension voyage started very well. With an enthusiastic group of guests we arrived at Hook of Holland and we were hoisting the sails before arriving at sea. We went south in the direction of Belgium. Even the sun stayed with us the rest of the day. Some custom officers decided to board us and to enjoy this great sailing for a while. Finally, after an very calm evening, the wind increased and became a 7 Bft and still increasing. We decided to go to Calais, where we are right now. We expect the wind to decrease later tonight, so we will probably sail in the night, on our way to Brighton.
25 May 2006 10:00 GMT
After a week of team-building daytrips out of Flushing, the ‘Oosterschelde’ arrived back in Rotterdam. We experienced a week with all the different kinds of weather possible this time of year, from calm seas and sunshine to thunderstorm with strong winds and rough conditions. A journey with the ‘Oosterschelde’ is always an adventure.
On Monday we had a so-called interim audit, by Bureau Veritas, to get our SMS (Safety Management System) approved. The SMS is part of the ISM (International Ships’ Management System) and will become compulsory in 2008. The SMS contains all the procedures carried out on the ship, from bunkering fuel to fire drills etc, with the purpose of improving the safety on board. We already for years have been working with the system on a voluntary basis and now we want the approval before the deadline is upon us.
Otherwise we have been busy preparing the ship for our 4-day Ascension weekend voyage to Brighton (UK). Captain Maarten has arrived from a vacation and will replace Martin as master. He will be master for the coming month.
This morning we left and we are now near the river mouth, almost at sea.
15 May 2006 19:30 GMT
Last Friday and Saturday we sailed some daytrips out of Bruinisse, during one of them we made a short stop at the Oosterschelde Dam. On Sunday we went, without guests, to Flushing via the Walcheren Canal. Many interested people looked at us from the shores.
This week is dedicated to 5 daytrips out of Flushing, our guests are civil servants of the units of Rijkswaterstaat that are responsible for the Westerschelde area. Team-building trips. Our g
uests are in groups and each group gets a job assigned, like hoisting a certain sail. Sometimes it is very funny for us how they talk and discuss before being able to do the job. The weather was fine. A light wind in the back brought us out to sea and at the end of the trip there was a slight shift and we could easily sail back again with the current in the back, the ship doing 8 knots.
In between all these trip we have some time for the usual maintenance. Next week the ‘Oosterschelde’ will be back in Rotterdam for a couple of days.
4 May 2006 19:56 GMT
The New Horizon Cruise daytrip enjoyed great weather. Our guests had a wonderful time and helped us setting the sails. Some of them even ventured a climb in the rigging, assisted by the crew. Aside from special manoeuvres, they held the helm all the time. The crew had to answer many questions and some of those were surprisingly original. Glad and tanned they left us, back at the Veerhaven harbour, at around 15:30.
Today was also a perfect day for the painting we stll have to do. Several parts of the ship were painted, greased or cleansed. Today we also had a ISM audit planned, but this was postponed.
Very soon now the ‘Oosterschelde’ will leave, to make many long voyages. Ship and crew are ready.
From the shipping company (26 Apr 2006)
Last week we sent our Newsletter to all our supporters. If you did not receive it, you can download it here.
25 Apr 2006 19:56 GMT
The ‘Oosterschelde’ is back in Nederland after a fantastic race week. The last leg took us from Lowestoft to IJmuiden and with a Northerly wind we sailed full and by at a pleasant 7,5 knots over the busy North Sea. A leg down and up the coast had to be sailed and here we could see the results of the all the practice with the sail handling: two perfect roundings of the buoys, two jibes and yet another five tacks, all done like a well oiled machine. Absolutely amazing sailing and a great feeling when everything and everyone come together and make things work. Our race team from the VU University of Amsterdam will certainly be missed. We finished somewhere in the middle of the field by the way.
After spending the night in IJmuiden the ships sailed in convoy to Amsterdam where weather-beaten students could been seen dragging tons of luggage and seemingly endless amounts of empty beer kegs of the ships.
The busy program of the ‘Oosterschelde’ goes on. The crew did hardly get any rest after the arrival of the
‘Oosterschelde’ (and the whole ROTC-fleet) in Amsterdam. We had to
repair the broken bow thruster. Luckily we found a place in dry-dock at
shipyard Brouwer in Zaandam.
the water had been pumped out we immediately saw the problem: the
propeller had come loose from the shaft. How that could have happened should be
investigated more thoroughly, but it meant a quick repair. Tomorrow we
will leave the shipyard for Rotterdam, where we will arrive just in
time for the next charter.
21 Apr 2006 08:47 GMT
Monday morning, April 17. Coffee at 08:00. Today is D-day and the crew of the ‘Oosterschelde’ is all set. We will board some 40 VIPs in Rotterdam and 24 students, who will participate in the Race of the Classics with us. At noon our VIPs arrive, among them Rotterdam’s mayor and other high-ranking persons. The harbour is full with friends, girlfriends and parents, all came to say goodbye. And many other visitors. The ‘Oosterschelde’ fires her gun to signal departure, and some 20 classic ships parade towards Maassluis. It’s a beautiful day.The first leg is to Oostende. We have difficulty in getting a favourable starting position. Wind and current have the wrong direction and our ship, although a good sailer, has not been built for these courses. At 20:00 is the official start of the Race.To make a long story short, we don’t succeed in getting any position at all. We just float, and we tack some 20 times which is quite a job for us and the mainly unexperienced students. But, we make a good team quickly. During the night we are in last position and at a certain moment we are back where we were before. But our steam is steadfast.In the morning the last part of the leg is cancelled. We lower the sails and go to Oostende on engine power. After arrival our students open the beer tap and turn up the music. They go for the beer but most of the crew are too tired to party. So some party, some sleep, and some are on watch.Wednesday, April 19. Oostende harbour. At 15:00 we take off to sea. Now we have a better starting position. Some tacks and then almost before the wind. The team works smoothly. Everywhere around us lots of sails and ships. It reminded us of the old days, when ships raced to the East Indies. Like an old postcard. No complaint of hang-overs, everyone fully concentrated and set for the action. Right after the starting line we have to sail close to the wind, trying to reach an up-current buoy. Alas, we don’t succeed. The ‘Urania’, a yacht of the Dutch navy, passes us. Current and wind prevent us from reaching the buoy. At 22:00 the tide will change and we will have to tack and tack and try to keep position. We even considered dropping anchor for a while, but we decided to stay sailing. It is rather frustrating to stay more or less at the same position for 5 hours. But, our spirits are high and stay high. At midnight we round the buoy and then some more, going towards Lowestoft. It is a cold and windy night. The students on watch are on deck and entertain us with their stories. We pass the finishing line at 13:00, on Thursday. We lower the sails and go into Lowestoft’s harbour. The beer tap opens up again. In a minute we will go to the Yacht Club for the prize-giving, and next…, well, you will understand. Sofar we enjoy the Race very much, on our ship the ‘Oosterschelde’.
17 Apr 2006 17:00 GMT
51°54.40’N, 004°28.70’E. Compass 000.
After another busy week of maintenance the ‘Oosterschelde’ is ready to participate in this years Race of the Classics, a race organised by students in Amsterdam. A new boom has been fitted for the schooner sail, the last jobs of replacing the mizzen shrouds has been carried out, the fore-cabin has been rebuild and the replacing of the main switchboard has been finished. The Veerhaven harbour is already filling up with the participating ships, about 19 all together. It should be a spectacular sight this Sunday when all the ships are gathered and having open ship. The ‘Oosterschelde’ will be open to the public from 13:00 till 15:00. The race starts on Monday (with the ‘Oosterschelde’ as start ship) with stops in Oostende, Ramsgate (or Lowestoft) and finishes in Amsterdam Sunday the 24th.
5 Apr 2006 GMT
51°54.40’N, 004°28.70’E. Compass 180.
The season has started. In between daytrips we still do a lot of work to finish all those maintenance jobs. Yesterday we did the first New Horizon Cruises daytrip of this year, with a group of mentally handicapped. It was a nice day. Today we will do another one.
And, it was Martin’s first trip as captain on the ‘Oosterschelde’.
24 Mar 2006 12:01 GMT
Yesterday we sailed the first daytrip of the season. It was a great day, with a beautiful, clear day and a sunny, blue sky. The E-ly was still rather cold. Anyone wanted to be outside and help us to set sail. Sailing for the wind, we went as far as the Maasland storm surge barrier before turning back. Next was a visit to the ‘Delft’ project where we had a tour._This nice days found its conclusion in a celebration of Gerben’s birthday, with the crew, and the office crew Lenny and Reinier.
From the shipping company (11 Mar 2006)
In our office we notice spring is coming soon. It is getting busier every day with people calling for information or with booking requests. March 23rd, when we sail out for a daytrip, is the start of our sailing season.
From the shipping company (28 Feb 2006)
Many of you are interested in the Svalbard/Spitzbergen expeditions of this year’s summer. Voyage #1 is fully booked, voyage #2 still has some open places and voyage #3 has 1 open place left. The other voyages still offer several possibilities.
26 Feb 2006 09:36 GMT
Although there was a biting, cold NE-ly, we made good progress last week. All the fittings have been taken off of the bowsprit, inspected and brought to the sander. We had two brandnew lengths of anchor chain on the quay (a lenght is 27,50 meters), to replace the meters that did not pass our inspection. In total the ‘Oosterschelde’ carries 12 lengths. We always have so much work to do but we hope to ease our pace a bit in March. In April the real work, the sailing, will start again.
From the shipping company (17 Feb 2006)
Yesterday we received an old photograph of the ‘Oosterschelde’, one that was not in our archives. Paul Walkey of WV Brahms Ships Chandlers of Par (Cornwall, UK) sent us a picture of our ship loading china clay in Par, between Plymouth and Falmouth, probably in 1934. On it as well is the British ‘Leading Light’, a wooden schooner, also loading china clay. Paul Walkey has used the photograph on his business card and on his website for a long time. Par still is a china clay port.
8 Feb 2006 17:22 GMT
What we do these days is not so very spectacular, but it certainly is useful. The ship will not sail for a while, and we do all these small jobs that won’t always get done when at sea. Cleaning in places that are difficult to reach, the repairing of leaking taps or the greasing of creaky hinges.
Two big jobs are still ahead for the winter: taking off all the fittings of the bowsprit and having them sanded and galvanised, and the installation of a new central electricity switchbox. That last one will be built ashore but the installation in the ship means a lot of work on many wires.
But first we will see to it that all is ready for the yearly inspections; these will be over in the course of this month.
30 Jan 2006 15:28 GMT
This morning at 07:00 the ship took to the water. Everything went fine. We sailed to Rotterdam using the inner waterways, where we arrived around 15:00. We are back in our home harbour.
27 Jan 2006 21:27 GMT
The end was rather heavy. They make long hours here at the wharf: from 06:30 until 17:30. And then the fierce cold winds. We are really tired when work finishes in the evening. But, we are ready! The shaft, the propeller and the rudder have been put back into their places. The steering machine is back too. The hull is painted and we are ready to take to the water. This will probably happen on Monday morning. If they are no leaks or other mishaps, we will set sail for Rotterdam immediately after.
23 Jan 2006 21:29 GMT
The job is going well. The rudder has been straightened and all the turning of the pintles and the bearings is finished. In the Bruinisse shop of the Padmos firm the new propeller shaft is being made; hopefully they will finish that one tomorrow. First of all we have to push the bearings into the stern tube and then we will be able to put the shaft, the shaft packing and the propeller back into place. After that we will be able to continue our work at the rudder.
The new shell plate at the bow has been placed and we finished the welding at the inside. Tomorrow we will weld on the outside and then the bow-thruster engine can be brought back in its place. The bow propeller and its cranked gear had been dismounted because of a leaking seal; this has been repaired.
After placing the lead bars, we have sealed off the keel.
If nothing goes wrong, we might be in the water on Thursday.
20 Jan 2006 19:59 GMT
Stuffing the hollow keel with bars of lead went well; this is necessary to add ballast. But we had some misfortunes as well.
The rudder, new two years ago, is not straight. All its hinges have to be renewed. This has also affected the steering engine and we sent it off to the Promac firm, to have it overhauled. And during our survery with Register Holland we found a part of the hull that has to be renewed as well. The bad luck is that that is exactly at the position of the bow-thruster engine, which has to be removed.
And, not just the bearing of the propeller shaft has to be replaced but the propeller shaft itself as well.
17 Jan 2006 20:31 GMT
High and dry (at least below) at the wharf of the Padmos firm, in Stellendam.
Work progress is fine, 12 are working on the ship. An nasty job is the cleaning of the waste water tank, The inside is covered with a thick layer of waste and rust, but after two days of scraping things look better now. The top of the tank is in a bad shape though, with lots of pits and in some places it is rusted through. We will patch it up so it will last till next winter; then we will have a new one. Many others jobs have to be done here. Extras tons of ballast, painting of the chain box, a.o. Tomorrow we will be visited by a Register Holland surveyor, who will inspect the hull below the waterline.
From the shipping company (13 Jan 2006)
Preparations have started for the Svalbard voyages information meeting tomorrow night.
So many people have announced their participation that we had to make a change in our plans.
We will receive our guests tomorrow night from 19:00 on board of the ‘Oosterschelde’ in the Veerhaven harbour. We will have a cup of coffee and then we will show everyone around on the ship. At about 19:30 we will make a short walk to the S.K.V.R building (Calandstraat 7), where we have hired a room. There we will show some slides and introduce you all to Svalbard/Spitzbergen.
The crew in the meantime is preparing for the wharf. On Sunday we will set sail to Willemstad. On Monday morning we will pass the Harngvliet bridge and we expect to be out of the water at the Padmos wharf in the afternoon.
From the shipping company (5 Jan 2006)
An information meeting will be held regarding the Svalbard/Spitzbergen expeditions of Summer 2006.
Date: Saturday, January 14, 2006
Location: the ‘Oosterschelde’, in the Rotterdam Veerhaven harbour
Starting time: 19:30
This meeting is meant for all those who are interested. If you’d like to come, please register with us at the shipping company.