31 Dec News archive 2008
News archive 2008
31 December 2008
31 Dec 2008 12:05 GMT
16°22.83’N, 022°59.29’W. Compass 005. Knots 5,8.
After all those dramatic scenery and lush valleys, Boa Vista comparitively is almost bare. Huge sandy beaches and bare hills is what we see from our anchorage, a mile out at sea. Near are an islet and a reef, the ocean swell breaking on them. Once ashore, we went to see a wreck on the northern coast, driving through a kind of Sahara, with huge sand dunes. The little vegetation there is is mostly of the short and thorny type. Even the goats are taking care around these plants. Jurren and Annemiek, our guides on Spitzbergen, came on board here. They quickly discovered some specialties: a Desert lark and a Hoopoe lark.
Driving back to the ship with the dinghy proved to be a real event. Everywhere there were rocks and reefs on which the swell broke. We had to avoid all those spots and slalom to the ship. During the night the ‘Oosterschelde’ was rolling heavily on the swell with the wind increasing to 6 to 7 Bft. Because of that wind we now sail into a choppy sea, to the north. We left at 07:45 for the last crossing of the trip, 30 NM to Sal. We hope to arrive at 14:00 and then we wish to start baking the traditional Dutch New Year’s Eve ‘oil balls’ or oliebollen. Although, with these temepartures one is not inclined to think of the last day of the year.
30 Dec 2008 19:52 GMT
16°09.45’N, 022°55.23’W. Compass 064. Knots 0,1.
São Nicolau through the eyes of someone else:
"We had not even entered the harbour and a Dutch speaking gentleman called us. Henny Kusters has been living on the island for 10 years and he kindly offered to be our guide. He arranged for a couple of open cars and took us on a tour of the island. One of the special things about São Nicolau is that is has a patch of virgin forest. A long time ago these islands were very green but the forests were cut down which led to droughts. So we visited this area, wih several kind of conifers and cactuses etc. Next we visited some basalt formations at the coast. Heavy swell battered the rocks. One of the waves was unexpectedly big and we had to take cover. Some got wet, but our cook was less lucky. He slipped and fell in between two rocks and sprained his ankle. He has to go home now, but we have to find a replacement for the next trip (has been arranged). On the quay we met a nice gentleman called Baldwin. He sailed with the Dutch shipping company Wagenborg for 33 years and had retired to the island of his birth. A 65 years old pensioner who looked very fit compared to some of us.
After a night of almost no wind we reached the island of Boa Vista this morning at 09:00. We have anchored behind a reef. Today we will be touring the island on ourselves. I am looking forward to all the stories during dinner."
28 Dec 2008 21:29 GMT
16°34.02’N, 024°21.60’W. Compass 090.
Mindelo is a town, with a harbour. A nice place to do shopping on the market, to have a drink or to buy souvenirs.
On the next day we went to the gig island of Santo Antão, by ferry. We had a bus waiting for us there, that took us up to the volcano crater at 1200 meters altitude. The descent to Ribeira de Paul was done on foot, over small donkey trails. It brought us through one of the most impressive landscapes I ever saw. High mountain ridges, deep valleys, some green and some huts made of clay with grass roofs. This side of the island is rather green, we passed coffee plantations, sugar cane fields and banana trees, all on very small parcels. After a meal the bus brought us back to the ferry.
This morning at 05:00 we left for Santa Luzia, an uninhabited island on the our way to São Nicolau. There was too big a swell to go ashore, and after a while we pulled the anchor and left to continue our journey. We caught some Dolphinfish for dinner. Just before we arrvied at São Nicolau, the wind turned a full 180 degrees and on the same moment a number of big dolphins appeared around the ship. We arrived at Tarrafal just before dark.
26 Dec 2008 10:06 GMT
16°52.99’N, 024°59.80’W. Compass 090.
Christmas was spent at sea. We left Fogo early in the morning but the wind was more N-ly then we had hoped for. So we had to do a lot of motor-sailing to make progress in the right direction. It ewas great at sea (for those who were able to enjoy it): huge waves, a cross-swell and white foam everywhere. And not as cloudy as before. For some the sea was a bit too wild if you know what I mean.
We tried to catch some fish but to no avail. Although, in the morning we saw that the steel last part of the line had broken off. Probably a fish too big for the line to hold. Around midnight the wind backed a bit, the engine was stopped and the rest of the crossing was done just on sails. At first light we entered the harbour of Mindelo, where we dropped anchor at 07:50.
25 Dec 2008 11:45 GMT
15°17.98’N, 024°38.76’W. Compass 349. Knots 5,7.
In the very small harbour of Vale de Cavaleiros (Fogo) we were even able to moor at the quay. Except for a few hours when a ship came in to unload and load people and goods. Our guests in the meantime climbed up to the volcano. In the evening we enjoyed a great dinner of 7 courses.
This morning we left early for the crossing to the windward isles. Our destination is Mindelo, on São Vicente. The distance to make good is 130 NM, so we will be at sea for the day as well as the coming night.
24 Dec 2008 11:53 GMT
14°55.19’N, 024°30.25’W. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
After another night of firm sailing, with wind on the quarter, we arrived on the island Fogo this morning. Fogo means fire in Portuguese and the island consists of an enormous volcano. After being asleep for 40 years there was an eruption in 1995, but now the volcano has been calm for several years. Although the view was not very good we were able to see Fogo from the island Santiago, which lies is 100 kilometres to the east. The volcano steeply rises up from the ocean (from a dept of 3000 metres) and the highest top is at 2800 metres! We arranged a guide and a small bus at the spot and at this moment the guests are on their way to climb the small crater. In the meantime we are cleaning a fish (wohoo), which we have just bought from a fisherman, for the Christmas dinner.
23 Dec 2008 12:50 GMT
15°16.94’N, 023°45.50’W. Compass 344. Knots 0,1.
After a long day and night, in which our guests slowly arrived one after another, we were finally ready to leave. All guests arrived safely on board (sometimes after long delays on Amsterdam or Lisbon). The only thing that was still missing, was the luggage of one of the guests, which turns out to be on Santiago. Because that is our next destination, we decided to pick it up there ourselves. Just in the nick of time – we were about to hoist the anchor – I remembered that we still have arrange customs clearance. And then finally the time had come to leave. With all the square sails and the main sails up we sailed, exactly downwind, onto the dark ocean. Soon enough we could not see anything around us anymore, even the stars stayed hidden behind the dark clouds. We kept the same course the entire night. Tarafal, our destination, lies at the northwest side of Santiago, approximately 100 miles downwind. After all the occurrings of the last day and night, there was not much interest in the night-watches. It is not until breakfast, with the high shores of Santiago in sight, before we see all the guests again. At 10:30 hours we dropped anchor in the small bay.
21 Dec 2008 14:27 GMT
16°35.46’N, 022°54.30’W. Compass 335. Knots 0,0.
Captain Gerben Nab reports:
“From the window of the pension, in which I spend a couple of days, I
saw the ‘Oosterschelde’ lying in the azure coloured water, dangling
behind her anchor. Although we are in the shelter of the island of Sal,
the swell runs around the island and cradles the ship. The wind, which
was a hard 5 to 6 Bft. the first couple of days, has decreased to 4
Bft. There is a lot of Sahara dust in the air and despite the
cloudiness it is warm. With 25 degrees Celsius and shorts on, the last
days of the year look pretty attractive. Jip and his crew have brought
the ship here fast, spotless and without any malfunctions. So as the
ship is passed on to me, it is in tiptop condition. My partner Annemiek
and our children will join me on this voyage and we are all looking
forward to this coming trip. Just like in the first years of the
‘Oosterschelde’, there will be a family living in the deck-house.
all the guests will arrive. Some are already on the island and others
will come straight from the Netherlands this night. Especially for them
the transition will be big; a warm welcome here is guaranteed!”
16 Dec 2008 07:33 GMT
16°35.46’N, 022°54.30’W. Compass 335. Knots 0,0.
Good morning to you all! We have arrived! Not long after writing the last message a small mountain appeared at the horizon at 7:45 hours. After a last jibe we changed the course and sailed past the west coast of this small piece of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. This island (Sal) gives a North African feeling. A yellow/red piece of land with a few small mountains of 300 and 400 metres, lots of sand and little overgrowth. Kite- and windsurfers are shooting over the dark blue water in the warm and dry wind. Behind the white beaches are the ‘holiday resorts’ and a few palm trees. After a short stop at Palmeira to clear the ship with the authorities, the ‘Oosterschelde’ sailed on to Santa Maria where we anchored. It is exactly 3 weeks after we left Rotterdam, of which we have spend 6 days and 7 nights in port. That is an average speed of 7,2 knots. In short: this was a prosperous milemaker!
15 Dec 2008 05:40 GMT
17°12.16’N, 022°35.12’W. Compass 241. Knots 7,1.
Land ahoy! That is the sentence everybody is waiting for. Some clime in the mast to try and catch a glimpse, but there is no land in sight yet. For now we are only catching flying fish. Every now and then one of these remarkable creatures lands on deck and makes even the toughest sailor shriek in fright. The temperature has become more pleasant, the noses are beginning to colour red and even though the wind is declining we are still making good progress. We expect to arrive Monday morning after breakfast.
13 Dec 2008 04:41 GMT
22°20.14’N, 018°36.04’E. Compass 207. Knots 9,8.
The somewhat weak northeast wind, which we had while leaving Tenerife, has increased to a firm 5 Bft and meanwhile our average distance is 200 NM per day. In short: We are sailing really hard! At the night the full moon is so bright we can almost read a book in its light, during the daytime shoals of dolphins are playing around the ship. The only thing that does not live up to the expectations is the temperature. The clouds and wind have returned the shorts back into the closets. But we must not complain, the thermometer still points out 20 degrees Celsius.
11 Dec 2008 15:49 GMT
26°25.92’N, 016°52.17’E. Compass 203. Knots 4,3.
At the moment we have almost no wind and the swell is high, coming from
behind. The watches are mainly keeping themselves occupied with finding
a course which gives the least wallow.
One of our guests writes:
"Funchal (Madeira) – Santa Cruz (Tenerife)
A moderate northeast wind was predicted, which would have been good for
our soutern course towards Santa Cruz, but it did not come. So we put
on the engine and the auto-pilot. The guest-crew got to practise with
‘independantly’ setting and striking the sails, but that was all: the
wind failed to turn up. However, the sun did show itself and for the
first time this voyage the oil skin clothing came off. First one layer,
then another layer, followed by the thermal underwear and finally pale
body parts became exposed to the sun. That was more like it! Even the
dolphins agreed and put up a little show for us. But wind or no wind:
the work on board is never done. Chopping, planing and painting, tying
up the ropes and sowing sails etcetera. But the warm sunlight made al
this labour pleasant. 26 hours after leaving Funchal the 3700 metres
high Pico de Teide came in sight. It is amazing how land does not seem
to get closer and it still took 10 hours before we could enter the
harbour of Santa Cruz. Captain Jip showed his professionalism once
again as he moored the ship immaculately. ‘Beer.’ Sailor Lukas shouted
when the ship was tied up and we toasted on a successful crossing."
11 Dec 2008 05:40 GMT
27°10.33’N, 016°33.97’W. Compass 185. Knots 7,1.
The ‘Oosterschelde’ is one big step closer to her destination in the south. After leaving Funchal on December 7th we sailed, due to the windless weather with use of the engine, to Tenerife in a day-and-a-half. Around 22:00 hours we found a spot in the harbour of Santa Cruz. The next two days were used to replenish the stocks until there was no room left onboard. Others found a way to rent a car and explore the island with its gigantic volcano. Wednesday December 10th we said goodbye to the last large supermarket we will see for a long long time. And as the evening fell we set sail. With the wind in our back we started the last part of this voyage. We still have 730 miles to go.
6 Dec 2008 20:39 GMT
32°38.69’N, 016°54.33’W. Compass 173. Knots 0,0.
We are anchored in the harbour of the capital of the island Madeira, Funchal. Everybody is enjoying the green parks, full terraces and souvenir shops. Tomorrow the voyage will continue, in the direction of the Canaries. Yesterday we celebrated the Dutch feast of ‘Sinterklaas’ (St. Nicolas). We sang songs in front of the cosy and somewhat warm furnace. We also read special ‘Sinterklaas’-poems to each other and exchanged gifts. It was a surprise to see that the most popular gift was the liquor from Madeira…
4 Dec 2008 06:24 GMT
35°21.30’N, 014°32.23’W. Compass 210. Knots 7,8.
How special nature is. During the watch from 04:00 until 08:00 hours, a beautiful starry sky showed itself from between the clouds. Plankton, which was illuminated by the water, was sparkling along the ship. Both gave the night a fairytale-like feeling. During the next day we had to turn on the engine on our way to Maderia, due to the declining of the wind. However this did not affect the pleasant atmosphere at all. People were reading, talking and writing poems for ‘Sinterklaas’ (St. Nicolas). On the morning of December 5th we will approach Maderia and we decide if we can moor in the harbour, drop the anchor or continue directly for Tenerife.
3 Dec 2008 16:03 GMT
37°06.20’N, 013°27.03’W. Compass 206. Knots 9,6.
One of our guests writes:
“Hello to all the readers there on the dry and hard shore! How rich the life of a sailor is! Why? Well, trough the ‘Book for Big Boys’ we effortlessly end up at old ‘Dante’, get a free membership for ‘Club Med’ and even score a nice trophy. Of course, this requires some explanation:
The story of this ‘Book for Big Boys’ took place the past week, at the back. Big muscular men, hardly recognizable in their protective clothing, were struggling with ‘the little wheel’ (as our birthday boy ‘super helmsman Roelof’, also known as the BFG, calls it) to keep the old lady on track. Glowing butts of heavy shag kept flying into the foaming water. It seemed that the riskier it got, the bigger the fun was.
However, a poor few in the salon seemed to have stepped out ‘Dante’s Inferno’: there were figures who, stiff from misery, where staring into nothingness; there were a few unfortunate ones who had their legs in the most awkward positions (as though their expensive outdoor pants where filled up with a liquid we usually associate with fear) trying to keep themselves standing; there was despair in the pandemonium we used to know as the galley; and the feeling in all the cabins was: this suffering, deserved or undeserved, will never ever end.
But there is no more flexible hart than that of the sailor, and he needs it too be! Yesterday we caught one of the guest crewmembers, a real gentleman none the less, wearing a wine red Bermuda and sandals on his bare feet. Immediately we all looked up to the sky, which had been the source of our torment, and the good man had been correct: a blue sky instead of grey, sunshine instead of rain, and warmth instead of the biting cold.
Getting back to the ‘Book for Big Boys’: this morning we are racing under full sail, with a speed of 9 knots, towards Madeira. The good ship ‘Oosterschelde’ is lying calm and tamed and the questions on everybody’s mind are: ‘Will the women good-looking?’ and ‘Will we be able to get a pass for free drinks?’
In short, we greet you, people on the shore, and fear not: your mug of coffee will not tip over!
P.S. And what about the trophy? Jip, Roelof and this perfect bunch of sailors will receive it on Cabo Verde for the fastest crossing ever. And if it accidentally is not the fastest, al least it is the most fun one!”
1 Dec 2008 16:55 GMT
41°45.38’N, 011°03.87’W. Compass 193. Knots 6,8.
All is well on board! After the rough weather of the past couple of days everything is turning back to ‘normal’. The ship is thoroughly cleaned and the maintenance activities continue. The guests read their books, warm themselves to the sun that shines in between the hailstorms or steer the ‘Oosterschelde’, which sails on with the help of a quiet northern wind. The course is already set for the first of the Atlantic islands: Madeira. This way we keep sailing further away from the Portuguese coast.
30 Nov 2008 10:22 GMT
44°47.83’N, 009°03.87’W. Compass 229. Knots 5,4.
Today it is Sunday and we have been on our way for about a week. With Cabo Finisterre in sight we have covered a lot of miles in the last week! Which is remarkable after we have spent a full day and two nights in Falmouth, waiting for the right weather to cross Bay of Biscay. The right weather did not come, although ‘right’ is probably not the correct word. However the wind turned out to be fierce. The calm weather that we had while leaving Falmouth swiftly turned into a northern wind-force of 9 Bft. With use of the topsail and the for fore stay-sail we firmly crossed the Bay of Biscay. Although the wind and water were raging on deck, the atmosphere on the lower deck was fantastic. Everyone was chanting for the birthday of sailor Lukas. For his birthday he had asked for a little wind, and that is what he got. This night the wind has quieted down and even the sun is shining…
26 Nov 2008 03:28 GMT
50°14.68’N, 003°17.73’W. Compass 250. Knots 7,2.
At this moment we are passing ‘Start Point’, at the English coast. This is a good setting to tell about the start of our voyage to the Cape Verdean Islands. The voyage was planned to start Sunday, but due to a firm wind from the south we had to delay departure until Monday morning. Sunday was a day on which our guests could get used to the ship, say goodbye to family, make a touristic walk through Rotterdam or help bending the brand new fore sail. This sail is now proudly catching a northwest wind. The start of this voyage has been very prosperous. The wind came mainly from the north and was quite firm (8 Bft), which also provides enough waves. A rough but fast start of the voyage. In the meantime everybody is used to the movements of the ship and the rhythm of the watches. The nights are cold, clear and filled with beautiful starry skies.
From the shipping company (24 Nov 2008)
The ‘Oosterschelde’ will leave Rotterdam for the Cape Verdean Islands Monday morning, between 07:00 and 08:00 am.
From the shipping company (23 Nov 2008)
One car after the other stopped at the ship and the stacks of food and other supplies kept growing. Rice, detergent, oil, wine, dishcloths, milk, clothes pins and flour. All we think we need for a voyage of four months to Africa. The big question was: Haven’t we forgotten anything? Once we arrive on the Capeverdean Islands it will be difficult or even impossible to replenish certain stocks. At the end of the day we had found a place for everything. The surveyor had finished his work, so the papers of the ship are valid for another year. Today the guests for the voyage from Rotterdam to the Cape Verde arrive. Adventurers and rugged seamen or at least serious sailors, considering the weather of the last couple of days… With a bit of luck the wind will turn to the northeast on Monday morning, which will be a good start for this distant voyage.
From the shipping company (20 Nov 2008)
After a few days of hard work the ‘Oosterschelde’ was launched back into the water on Wednesday morning, around 06:30 hours. We were too late for the high tide of that morning, but on Wednesday evening we left for Rotterdam. It was a long day, but we are happy to be back in the Veerhaven. Tomorrow (Friday) is the ‘Grand Finale’ before we leave for the Capeverdean Islands. All the supplies will come on board and will have to be stored. And also a few sails have to be bend. We are preparing ourselves for another long day, but after this we will be ready for the voyage.
From the shipping company (17 Nov 2008)
Today was a good day. The weather was good and the underwater part of the ship now has a fresh layer of paint. It is amazing how fast the men of the dock of Padmos work. Tomorrow we want to check the greasing of the propellor-shaft and work on the ball-bearings of the helm. If all goes well we might be able to go back into the water Wednesday.
From the shipping company (15 Nov 2008)
It feels like our visit to the dock is cursed. Due to the bad weather we have suffered a delay of a few days. Just as the ship was dry and clean we had to leave the dock again. A cutter came in, which had to be kept afloat with the help of pumps and which had to be put in the dock as soon as possible. Luckily, the emergency repair did not take long and the ‘Oosterschelde’ returned in the dock at the end of the day. We will continue Monday. When the weather conditions are good the ship can be put back in the water by Wednesday. Then we still have to replenish the supplies, bunker diesel, complete the last inspections and bend the last sails. We have a lot to do before we leave for the Capeverdean Island next weekend.
From the shipping company (13 Nov 2008)
After a few days of waiting the weather has finally calmed down. Early this morning we left for Stellendam. The weather kept improving and we arrived while the sun was shining. All conditions were in our favour and we sailed in to dock around 14:00 hours. After the dock was raised we immediately started hosing of the ship. The underwater part of the ship will be inspected Friday and we hope to apply the first layer of paint that day. The ‘Oosterschelde’ will be staying in dock for the weekend.
From the shipping company (8 Nov 2008)
The weather was beautiful during today’s daytrip. Sunny and very clear. Everybody was having a good time. However, we saw the first dark clouds appearing at the horizon. After the trip we have to go to Stellendam, where we will go in dock on Monday. Because the ‘Haringvlietbrug’ is obstructed, we will have to sail there over the sea, via the ‘Slijkgat’. The weather report promises bad weather, and indeed as we are preparing to leave there is a strong wind (7bft), which is still increasing. The waves are also increasing in height, the expectancy is that they will reach 3 metres around midnight. The risks are to high to sail to Stellendam this night and we return to the Veerhaven. Hopefully we will have more luck tomorrow.
From the shipping company (4 Nov 2008)
Coming Saturday we will –probably- sail the last daytrip of this year. Monday November 10th the ‘Oosterschelde’ will go into dock en soon after that we will leave for the Capeverdean Islands. With the winter coming soon, that is not a bad idea!
From the shipping company (17 Oct 2008)
The past few days have been used for maintenance. We worked on the main engine and generators and started with a small refit of the deckhouse. For now, we will only place a dividing wall. Eventually the space which is now a kitchen will be refit into a crew cabin. Today, exactly a week after the arrival home in Rotterdam, we sail a daytrip. Again, as if we never left.
From the shipping company (10 Oct 2008)
The ‘Oosterschelde’ is back in the Veerhaven, as if she has never left. After an absence of 4 months, she moored in Rotterdam on Friday morning at 10:00 hours.
9 Oct 2008 20:25 GMT
52°23.80’N, 003°15.67’E. Compass 147. Knots 6,2.
We had all kinds of weather during the last couple of days:nice sailing winds, no wind at all, strong wind against. All sails have been used and most of them saw all reefs used. Lots of work for our guest-crew. Because of the wind we sailed from the south of Norway to the north of England, but halfway the North Sea it became more advantageous to change direction again, to a more southerly course. Since this morning we sail a course straight to Hook of Holland. More and more ships, it has been a long time that we saw so many other ships.
We expect to arrive at the Veerhaven on Friday morning, between 10:00 and 11:00.
6 Oct 2008 13:04 GMT
59°51.53’N, 004°13.27’E. Compass 167. Knots 7,6.
Since we have left Tromsø, we have covered over 800 miles. We are firmly sailing against the Norwegian currents. Especially yesterday afternoon and last night we ‘surfed’ with impressive waves and swells coming from behind us. We made speeds up to almost 11 knots, as we sailed around the western cape of Norway. And still there is more Norway we had to pass. During the entire night we got to see Norwegian lights. With use of the engine we are now heading south, straight towards the entrance of the ‘Nieuwe Waterweg’ (which leads to Rotterdam). It appears we could be on time for our arrival there, if it weren’t for a depression, which is going to cross over.
3 Oct 2008 08:17 GMT
67°10.37’N, 011°04.15’E. Compass 212. Knots 6,8.
Wednesday, in the late afternoon, our new guest-crew, for the voyage home, arrives. Because many of them have already been in Tromsø for a day and because we want to sail out of the fjord in daylight, we immediately leave after the last of the guests arrive. In less than an hour we are able to set the sails and after dinner we sail out of the fjord under sail. We immediately get to experience the northern light. Yesterday and today we have sailed close to the coast, so that we can enjoy the beautiful mountains of the Lofoten. In the mean time we have left the Lofoten behind us and we are sailing with the wind in the main sail, square fore-sail, topsail, topgallant and gaff topsail towards Rotterdam.
29 Sep 2008 15:53 GMT
69°39.10’N, 018°57.68’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
Day 16, (Monday September 29th)
The last day of the voyage has arrived. The crossing from Spitsbergen to Norway has been stormy, with – alas – an adverse wind. As we approached the coast, the weather calmed down. Last night everybody was present for dinner. Yesterday at 21:00 hours we reached the coast and at 23:30 hours we dropped anchor at Vanvåg. Mobile phones were turned on and everybody was busy calling and texting home. We heaved the anchor at 6 ‘o clock this morning and the ship started the last part of the voyage. We still had to go 40 miles in to the fjord before we would reach Tromsø. At 12:00 hours the ‘Oosterschelde’ lied firm at the quay in the centre of Tromsø. After lunch the guests explored the city and the crew started with the hard task of replenishing the stocks and preparing the ship for the mile maker to Rotterdam. Tonight we will have a farewell dinner with the guests.
27 Sep 2008 10:48 GMT
73°22.92’N, 019°23.90’E. Compass 188. Knots 6,6.
Day 12 (Thursday September 25th)
The day starts quietly. Around half past 7 the ‘Oosterschelde’ continues her voyage. At 11:00 hours the anchor is dropped in Bjørnbukta, at Andréetangen. The familiar ritual repeats itself: The guests dress themselves in warm clothes, put on a life-jacket, sign the list and clamber down the rope-ladder into one of the two dinghy’s. It is the last day on Spitsbergen, because tonight the course will be set towards the south. As a parting gift the air is clear and the weather is delightful. Although it is freezing, the sun is radiating warmth. The landing-spot is very shallow, so the ‘Oosterschelde’ keeps away. The dinghies shoot across the smooth water with high speed. Once we reach the shore we get a big surprise. The guide sets out to inspect the area and immediately finds a bear. As the others look to the left past a stone wall of a few metres high they are eye to eye with a polar bear, which gives us a penetrating look. Thus far the exciting web version of the story. In reality the bear is at 150 metres distance, on the beach at the other side of the spit of land. It does not look very impressed. Close to the bear lie a few groups of walruses. The dingy, which was set out to get the next group, is called back. After a short photo-shoot everybody gets back in the dinghy. A bear is still a bear, and although the two guides are armed with riffles, we do not want to create a situation where the guns have to be used. We sail around the spit of land, to take a look at the bear from the other side. He has lied down and rolls around with his paws in the air. The dinghies quickly return to the ship so that the other guests also catch a glimpse of the Polar bear. This group also spots a second bear, sleeping on top of the basalt blocks. Eventually the dinghies spent the rest of the day sailing up and down. A third Polar bear is discovered. Also the many walruses are captivated on film. A few groups of walruses, which are swimming in the water, can be approached up to a few metres. The last group of the day, which sails further along the coast, spots a fourth bear on the shore. It occasionally looks up, but keeps on lying flat on its stomach. At 16:00 hours the last group is back on board and the anchor is lifted. We can look back on a successful Spitsbergen-tour. The cherry on the cake came on the last day. Spitsbergen is fading away on the horizon. At the moment we are on our way to Tromsø. A fierce wind is coming from the southeast. With a lot of reefing of the sails and help of the engine we are making good progress. We have left Bear Island behind us. Because of the hard win we were unable to make a stop here. We hope to reach the Norwegian coast tomorrow evening.
24 Sep 2008 21:17 GMT
77°25.84’N, 020°58.21’E. Compass 257. Knots 0,0.
Day 9 (Monday September 22nd)
At 9 o’clock in the morning the ‘Oosterschelde’ is floating before the ice-wall of the Bråsvellbreen, which stretches out 190 kilometres along the shore, in water that is completely filled with small and big chunks of ice. It is difficult to estimate distances. According to the radar we have approached up to 250 metres. From this distance the ice-wall already looks impressive. However, if the ‘Oosterschelde’ were to sail up to the ice-wall, it would easily stick out above the masts of the ship. A large group of Kittiwakes is sticking to the straight wall, like pins in a cushion, and we spot a Brünnich’s Guillemot, four Pomarine Skua’s and nine Ivory Gulls. There is also a Black Guillemot, which is giving us a diving-show right next to the ship. After an hour Mother Nature decides that we have had enough. The curtains are closed and the ship is cloaked in a thick mist. The ship changes her course. It turns out to be a peaceful morning and afternoon. Halfway through the day the engine is turned off and it is suddenly quiet on the ship, which can now do what it was built for: sailing! We spot a Fin Whale, of at least 20 metres long, at a distance. At the end of the afternoon we sail through a narrow street between Spitsbergen and Barentsøya, the Heleysundet. The tide can get up to 10 knots (18 kilometres per hour). Even though the tide is about to turn, the water is whirling and bubbling around the ship. We take a right, to the bay Newtonvika, and drop anchor for the night there at 19:00 hours. We have dinner somewhat earlier than usual and afterwards some ‘die-hards’ go to shore for a walk. They find a tundra with small streams of ice-water and basalt-plates. When they return, around 21:00 hours, there is a big pot of Glühwein on the stove in the salon. The desert, cook Taco’s Muffin, have been preserved for this occasion until after the walk.
Day 10 (Tuesday September 23rd)
The day starts with almost no clouds in the sky, the sky is clear and the temperature is a few degrees below zero. This morning we walk on the north side of Barentsøya, in a landscape of silt-plates and tundra that is interrupted by tide-ways. Ice has formed on some of the puddles. At the end of the plain the ground rises up slightly, in the direction of the hills, on which we can see ice in the distance. The glaciers and snow-covered mountains across the water light up in the sunlight. We encounter 9 reindeers, under which an imposing male, which is watching us carefully. We can approach them up to 100 metres. In the mud we see clear paw prints of bears, under which a fresh track of a mother bear and its cub. In the afternoon the ‘Oosterschelde’ continues her voyage south. The course is set for a big glacier, the Negribreen, which catches the beautiful light of the low-hanging sun. We sail right past a wail, probably a Sperm Whale. It appears to be sleeping, but eventually it dives under with its tail-fin in the air. As we get closer to the glaciers the dinghies go overboard for a short sailing tour past the imposing, deep blue ice-mountains. The ice is rustling and crackling and to top it off a part of the ice-mountain crashes down in the water, right in front of us. Cold yet satisfied we clamber back on board for warm ourselves by the stove below and enjoy a nice dinner. Around 11 o ‘clock we anchor in the Anderssonbay.
Day 11 (Wednesday September 24th)
The day starts with an attempt to land at Kapp Lee on the Edgeøya. From 1968/1969 Dutch biologists had been busy with active research on damage to the tundra by vehicles. Two dinghies, loaded with anxious guests, sail towards the beach. At the arrival it turns out that the surf is much fiercer than we could see from the ship and landing is impossible. The dinghies return to the ship. Because some of the guests have forgotten that this ship is meant to sail, the captain decides to leave the anchor-spot under sail. After some instruction everybody gets started and the sails get hoisted. The manoeuvre is executed perfectly. We sail southwards past Edgeøya, with the wind in our back and the sun hanging low in the sky. We keep sailing the entire day. At 22:20 hours we drop the anchor in a bay at the Tjuvfjorden, where we will spend the night.
22 Sep 2008 10:46 GMT
79°03.52’N, 022°35.42’E. Compass 212. Knots 8,1.
Day 7 (Saturday September 20th)
We made it. Last night the ‘Oosterschelde’ crossed the end of the Hinlopenstretet. There, in the Murchisonfjorden, we will find a Swedish-Finnish weather station. However, the bay is filled with drift-ce. On the ice we spot 8 walruses, a few seals and a group of 50 Harp seals is swimming around the ship. Around 11:00 hours we get dropped off at the beach and with much enthusiasm we took off. After half a kilometre we encountered a small river, which had worn out a ditch in the rock floor of 10 to 20 metres wide and deep. As we walk upstream we find the source of the water, a lake filled with ice water. Many Kittiwakes and shrieking Artic Terns are taking a bath in this water. Luckily, the point where the lake and the river come together is very shallow and easy to cross. After walking and clambering across a ridge for 2 hours we reach the weather station at the edge of the bay. We find a few deserted buildings, with a sauna and a toilet booth, on a barren open field. Furthermore, we find a rusted amphibian vessel dating from World War II and a snowmobile, which is as good as new and has the keys still in the lock. On the beach we spot some Purple Sandpipers. One Artic Skua lets us approach and to our surprise we also get to spot a Northern Wheatear. On the way back we have to do some major clambering. However, a impressive view on a very rough and desolate landscape is the result. At 17:00 hours the anchor is hoisted. In the Hinlopenstretet is a strong current. At 19:00 hours the current will turn and we want to use this current to sail into this street.
Day 8 (Sunday September 21st)
The island of Van Otterøya, which we planned to visit, is out of reach because of the drift-ice. Therefore, the ‘Oosterschelde’ sails on to Wilhelmøya. Despite of the mist and rain a few brave ones go to the shore after breakfast. On the shore we find a tundra landscape with sloping hills. Once we are walking, the wind picks up. Mountains and ice fields become visible and the sky turns blue again. There are no Polar bears, but we find many paw prints of bears on the muddy ground. Suddenly we see our guide lying on his stomach. He has spotted a Cobweb Saxifrage. This is a rare plant, which can only be found in places with a very specific ground composition. The ground here is very muddy. We find out just how muddy it is when one of the guests sinks deep into the mud, which leaves him immobilised. He receives help and, after some dragging and pulling, he is able to move on. Only now the ones who helped him are stuck. Eventually everybody stands on, more or less, solid ground. After lunch the anchor is lifted and the ‘Oosterschelde’ quietly follows the shoreline to the south. There are many guests with goggles on deck. If there is a Polar bear to be seen everybody wants to be the first to spot it. Unfortunately, the view is limited to some reindeers on the shore and some walruses, which are swimming by very close to the ship. At 21:00 hour
s we drop the anchor in the bay of Kiepertøya. The plan is to weigh the anchor at 06:00 hours, cross the Hinlopenstratet in northeastern direction and arrive in the Bråsvellbreen, which is one of the biggest glaciers in the world, at 09:00 hours.
19 Sep 2008 21:18 GMT
79°47.41’N, 014°18.08’E. Compass 026. Knots 7,7.
Day 5 (Thursday September 18th)
Everybody shows up for breakfast in time, because the first dinghy will leave for the shore of the ‘Zeeuwse Uitkijk’, officially known as Ytre Norskøya, at 08:30 hours. Before breakfast, no less than 35 cods are caught with use of a nylon thread with fishhooks on it. As Smeerenburg was the settlement for the whalers from Amsterdam, Ytre Norskøya was the settlement for the whalers from the Dutch region ‘Zeeland’, also known as Zeeuwen. Around 1670, when there were almost no more whales in the fjords, these Zeeuwen proceeded their hunt further along the ocean. Later on when the whales became scarcer in the area, they started hunting for whales all the way up to Greenland. In those times the (tear)ovens were no longer used. It was used to bury the Zeeuwen who died. There are 163 graves on the island. We clamber across steep and less steep slopes up to a height of approximately 150 metres. It is cloudy, but there is much light and the sky is extremely clear. The view is magnificent; the ‘Oosterschelde’ looks like a nutshell in the blue water, against a background of dark mountains on which the white spots of snow stand out. On the way back we walk past a seal, which is resting on a rock. He gives us a few disturbed glances, but finally decides to ignore us. At approximately 12:00 hours we set course for the island Moffen. Underway we pass the 80th degree of latitude. Al the (guest)crewmembers receive an official certificate signed by Neptune and the captain. We make a toast with champagne and enjoy the ‘kibbeling’, made from the cod that was caught this morning. Around 17:00 hours we set foot on the shore of Moffen. This is unique because until September 15th this area was closed of for visitors, so this is the first visit of the ‘Oosterschelde’ this year. While the crew is replenishing the supply of wood for the furnace, we visit a group of walruses. There is a population of about 300 walruses on the island, of which we spot at least 60 in different groups. The island is nothing more that a few big plates of grit, which stick out of the sea for about a metre and which are completely flat. Carefully, we approach the walruses. Some of the adolescents in the group do not trust the situation and try to find safety in the sea. A group of about 12 heavyweights give us some suspicious looks, but calm down after a few minutes. Besides the walruses we spot Brünnich’s Guillemots and just above our head there is an air-battle between an Arctic Skua and an Ivory Gull. Whilst the walruses are entertaining us, the cook is preparing a wonderful surprise – fresh cod from the oven. The ship sets course for the Hinlopenstretet, unfortunately with use of the engine because of the adverse wind.
Day 6 (Friday September 19th)
In life, nothing is certain. This is validated on board of the ‘Oosterschelde’. The destination is a fjord in the route of the Hinlopenstretet. However, due to the firm wind and waves the decision is made to turn around. Around breakfast we sail into the Liefdefjorden, not far from the point where we started last night. The weather is dry and every now and then the sun shines through the clouds. Most of the guests are on deck, to admire the view of the rock-walls, snow-slopes and glaciers. The destination is now the Monacobreen, which is at the end of the fjord. We reach it around 12:00 hours. Like all other glaciers, this glaciers has visibly been decreasing the last couple of years; to be specific, over 3 kilometres since 1966. The end of the glacier in the fjord, which means we can sail here. We enjoyed lunch while the ship was anchored in a bay, Hornbækpollen, for which the ship had to sail through a narrow passage between the rocks. The next stop: Bockfjorden. Underway a few chunck of glacierice are pulled out of the water, to replenish the ‘ice-box’ on deck. All the perishable goods are kept in this box. On the shore we spot a Artic fox which is white as snow and which stands out against the black rocks. Around half past 5 we anchor and the dinghies start sailing up and down. We make a landing to visit a place where there is still some volcanic activity visible. The name is not very surprising: Vulkanhamna. There are a few springs from which warm, ferrous water rises up. This presents us which a perfect opportunity for a footbath and a group-photo. For the first time this voyage we spot a Bean Goose. After two hours of clambering we get picked up from the pebble beach. As we sit down for dinner the drew hoists the anchor. Tonight we will again try to sail into Hinlopenstretet.
17 Sep 2008 21:44 GMT
79°51.14’N, 011°38.22’E. Compass 345. Knots 0,0.
Day 3 (Tuesday September 16th)
Guest-crewmember Rudie van der Zwan reports:
‘De night is spend at Ny Ålesund. In the morning we visit the memorial stone for Roald Amundsen. Everybody gets the opportunity to post a card at the most northern post office and visit the shop for a final souvenir. The next occasion will not be until Tromsø, in about 14 days! Around midday we leave the quay completely under sail, as it should be. Then out of the Kongsfjorden and into the Krossjorden, still completely under sail. At the time of departure it is dry, but this does not last long. Underway we enjoy the imposing view of the Fjortende Julibreen, which is conveniently bathing in sunlight. After approximately 5 hours of sailing we make a landing. Screeching loudly, a few of the left over Arctic Terns make themselves seen and heard and on the rocks there are a few Kittiwakes. In the distance we spot 28 Long-tailed Ducks. A walk of three hours, while we climber past rock slopes and wade through shallow streams, brings us to a glacier lake and the remainders of a Germen weather station dating from World War II. After dinner, at approximately 22:00 hours, we weigh the anchor and sail out of the fjord. The fact that we had sailed in under sail means that, due to the adverse wind, we will have to sail out on the engine. We hope that once we are out of the fjord we will be able to set all sail again. We expect to arrive at out next location tomorrow at breakfast.’
Day 4 (Wednesday September 17th)
Guest-crewmember Hans Zijlstra reports:
‘At half past 7 the bell rings for breakfast. We have sailed on the entire night and although the ship was wobbling, most of us have had a good night. The mist has gone, but the weather is still bad. At the beginning of the morning the dinghies bring us to Amsterdamøya. On this island the remainders of Smeerenburg are still visible, under which the contours of (tear)ovens. The snow is blowing all around us as our guides are telling us about the history of the men, who had to process the whale carcasses to whale oil and fat under miserable circumstances. We find the graves of those who have never left the island. At one point there is a mass grave with a memorial stone, in which all the remainders have been brought together in 1906. In a small lake we see two Grey Phalaropes. Most Phalaropes have left to warmer places a while ago. It is remarkable that we get two spot these two. After two hours we contently return to the beach to get picked up. The ‘Oosterschelde’ sets course for the Smeerenburgglacier and then for the ‘Zeeuwe UItkijk’. We pass some deepblue glaciers. It has stopped snowing, the wind is decreasing and the sun is trying to peek through the clouds. This results in some beautiful views. Underway we encounter the Dutch twomast schooner ‘Noorderlicht’. At the end of the afternoon we anchor in the shelter of the mountains of Ytre Norskøya.’
16 Sep 2008 07:32 GMT
78°55.72’N, 011°56.22’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
On the morning of Saturday September 13th we weigh the anchor to sail in the direction of Pyramiden. The sun shines the entire morning and a few hours later we moor at Pyramiden, where we walk through a deserted town, where they used to mine coals, under the company of a Russian guide. Just before lunch we leave Pyramiden to make one more visit to a glacier, the Nordenskiöldbreen. At the end of the afternoon we sail to Longyearbyen, where we arrive after dinner and for the first time in the dark. Now that all the cruise ships have gone, the harbour seems deserted. De next day we say goodbye to our guests and get to welcome the new guests on board.
Our guest-crewmember Rudie van der Zwan reports:
"Day 0 (Sunday September 13th)
For many of the guests the voyage has already started at the airport, a couple of people are already there. A few people are curiously looking around: Could that be one of them? Most groups are formed later, at the bus stop for the hotel shuttle bus. At the end of the afternoon a few of the groups, which were not entirely accidentally formed by people who stay in the same hotel, set out to explore Oslo. First we visit the new and imposing opera building at the quay of the Oslofjorden. Later on we visit the city centre and the new waterfront (which reminds us of the South of Rotterdam), where we experience the Norwegian kitchen.
Day 1 (Monday September 14th)
Around 14:00 hours we see the ‘Oosterschelde’ lying at the quay of Longyearbyen. After some fitting and shoving we come to the conclusion that 20 persons, plus baggage, will not fit in a 14-persontaxi. Once we come on board we are welcomed with coffee, tea and a piece of ‘Longyearbyen’ pastry. The rest of the afternoon is used to make a thorough visit to the museum on Spitzbergen, take a stroll to the town and do some shopping. The supermarket/department store is also open on Sunday. It is remarkable that on Spitzbergen, where there is approximately 1500 metres of road, you will find a lot of wrecked cars but also the newest and most beautiful cars. Funny is that 8 out of the 12 months you can not use a car there, but only a snow scooter.
The entire group consists of 20 Dutchmen, 3 French-speaking Belgians, a German and an Australian couple. Along with a Norwegian and a German crewmember it is a fine collection of nationalities, and for practical reasons English is chosen as official language for this voyage. After dinner we leave Longyearbyen at 21:00 hours. It is almost calm, there are some low hanging clouds and flares of mist, but the first sights of imposing panoramic views on a rough landscape give us something to look forward to. The plan is to arrive at Poolepynten the next morning at 08:00 hours, to spot some walruses.
Day 2 (Monday September 15th)
How soon things can change. It is rainy, there is a lot of mist and the captain decides to leave the walruses for what they are. We sail west past the Prins Karls Forland. The somewhat high beating of the waves provides quite some discomfort for the guests, easily getting adjusted is unfortunately not possible. So Blomstrandhalvøya it is. The wind is pulling on, so we set sail and the engine is turned of. At 17:00 hours we are brought to the shore to visit the remainders of an abandoned marble mine from the ’20. During the summer a few of the houses are still used as ‘trekkers cabin’. We spot a group of reindeers and one of them can be approached up to about ten metres. It is not impressed by us, and just keeps on grazing. We also see a lot of moss-like overgrowth and a few blue and yellow flowers here and there. In the meantime the ship has sailed on and after a walk of an hour or two, unfortunately in the rain, we can see the ‘Oosterschelde’. In the background we see two glaciers, which have provided a lot of floating chunks of ice in all sorts and sizes. On board we will probably get our drinks with glacier ice that is over 1000 years old. During the dessert the ‘Oosterschelde’ moors in Ny Ålesund, which is, with 34 inhabitants, the most Northern settlement in Western civilisation that we will encounter this voyage. A few of the inhabitants are welcomed on board that evening. They enjoy the Dutch beer, which has been put on the tap for this occasion."
12 Sep 2008 23:27 GMT
78°31.56’N, 016°01.47’E. Compass 216. Knots 0,1.
Our guide Jan van der Geld continues:
"Thursday morning some of the guests visited the mast of the air-ship Norge of Nobiles and the grave of the Pole traveller Roald Amundsen, just outside town. Afterwards, everyone set out to ‘plunder’ the souvenir shop. Just take of the shoes and shop. In the post office the stamps of Spitzbergen were collected. After this visit we set out sail again, west of Prins Karls Forland. This turned out to be a bumpy ‘ride’, what was not appreciated by everybody. We sailed on all night and day towards Barentszburg. We arrived here at 05:00 hours. In Barentszburg everybody was free to spend the day. After this visit most of us remembered how good we have it at home. On several places the town was being cleaned up. Even the stairs were renewed. Maybe they are expecting high company?
In the beginning of the afternoon we set course toward Skansbukta. Underway we spotted mainly Barnacle geese, even a Brünnich’s guillemot and a lot of (young) Atlantic puffins. We paid a visit to the plaster mine. We walked alongside the water line, whilst searching for shell fossils, into the valley. Many Bean geese were flying around there. These seemed to be the target of the hunters, we see a few of them hanging on the wall of a small house at the beach. On the ridge of the rocks above us there were still some Northern fulmars. Atlantic puffins were also flying on and off with food. We ended the day with drinks and tall tales around a campfire on the beach."
11 Sep 2008 10:00 GMT
78°55.97’N, 011°55.97’E. Compass 333. Knots 0,0.
Our guide Jan van der Geld continues:
‘We sailed on to Amsterdamøya. With the sails up we were able to catch a strong wind. On Tuesday September 9th we anchored at the northeast side of Smeerenburg at 05:15 hours. We wanted to make a walk, but we landed to far to the north. Across a dam filled with driftwood and rocks, near Annabreen, we walked towards the southeast. It turned that we were still about 2 miles away from the settlement. To reach the settlement we would also have had to cross a few ridges as the wind was picking up speed, so we let the dinghy’s pick us up. It kept raining all day, so in the afternoon there were lectures on geology and birds. Because of the lack of real bears we also showed a film on Polar bears. At 17:00 hours we lifted the anchor and decided to explore the Smeerenburgfjorden and passed the Smeerenburgbreen. Before we headed out to the sea we enjoyed dinner in quiet waters. Around 20:00 hours we sailed, through the Sørgattet, out into a fierce sea. We expected to arrive in the Kongsfjorden within 5 hours. That turned out to be a disillusion; the voyage took at least twice as long. On Wednesday we eventually landed on Blomstrandhalvøya, at 14:15 hours, for a walk. We made a visit to the marble mine at London en got to see 7 reindeers in total. It turned out to be a beautiful walk, there were still some pollens of Moss Campion and yellow Saxifrage blossoming. After we went back on board, the ‘Oosterschelde’ sailed on to the Kongsvegen. Before dinner we made a trip with the dinghy past big and beautiful clumps of ice. Here we also spotted a seal, a Glaucous gull, some Kittiwakes who were being chased by Arctic Skuas. During dinner the ship moored at Ny-Ålesund and after dinner several guests payed a visit to this settlement.’
9 Sep 2008 00:04 GMT
79°50.62’N, 010°51.09’E. Compass 265. Knots 4,2.
Our guide, Jan van der Geld, continues his story:
‘Sunday we started the day with a walk on the snow-covered Reinsdyrflya. We immediately spotted the fresh tracks of a Polar bear and two cubs. Apparently they had also been interested in the trapper’s cabins. Of course we found a lot of reindeers on Reinsdyrflya, but they were not exactly tame. They already had to scrape the ice quite vigorously in order to find some food. At the lagoon we spotted Long-tailed Ducks, Red-throated Divers and Arctic Skua’s, which are trying to steel the food of the numerous Arctic Terns and Kittiwakes.
After this we sailed on to the Monacobreen in the hope to spot a Polar bear there. Although it was freezing cold and there was a lot of ice, there was not much life present, let alone a Polar bear. But none the less, such a glacier is still very impressive on its own. We got approach the glacier wall up to a mile and a half. We sailed back and anchored in to the nearby Hornbækpollen.
Monday was ‘feet-washing-day’, so we brought a visit to the hot springs at Vulkanhamna in the Bockfjorden. And once again we noticed tracks of Polar bears, but there was no bear in sight. We admired the last remainders of previous volcanism. Our eye was suddenly caught by a beautiful white and two coloured Svalbard Grouses. They were easy to approach and photograph. At the beach we saw about 35 Long-tailed Ducks flying around.
We decided to set course for Amsterdamøya. Underway we made sail and there were some photo shoot trips around the ship.’
7 Sep 2008 08:23 GMT
79°41.38’N, 013°33.92’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
Our guide, Jan van der Geld, continues:
‘We did not reach Ytre Norskøya (or Zeeuwse Uitkijk) before 04:30 hours in the morning. After breakfast we made a heavy walk across the snow-covered bastion of the Zeeuwse whalers. We were not alone; a big group from Oceanwide, on their way to Greenland, were also visiting the island. We found footprints of an Arctic fox and reindeer and also some dung from a Polar bear. Later on, we actually saw two young reindeer in the flesh. Furthermore, we found the remainders of ovens and the approximately 165 graves of our ancestors, which are covered by big rocks.
A seal shoved in the water on to a rock and let itself be admired. We sailed on towards Moffen. Underway we spotted a Bearded seal, lying on an ice floe. As we passed the 80th degree of latitude we received a certificate from Neptune himself and got treated to champagne and ‘kibbeling’ (a Dutch fish-delicacy) made of the fresh caught cod. Although we wanted to make a visit to the walruses on Moffen, the area is closed of for visitors until September 15th. So we sailed on, this time in the direction of the Liefdefjorden. Underway we spotted to groups of hunting Harp seals. On Reinsdyrflya we saw at least 60 reindeer walking around. At 23:20 hours we dropped anchor at Worsleyhamna.’
5 Sep 2008 20:54 GMT
79°21.67’N, 010°28.21’E. Compass 353. Knots 7,1.
Our guide, Jan van der Geld, continues:
‘It is 17:00 hours as we anchor at the Fjortende Julibreen. A firm walk took us right up to the glacier wall. The falling chunks of ice and the loud noise this produces impressed everybody. There were also some seals lying on ice floes. In the evening we continued sailing to Signehamna and anchored there, surrounded by an immense silence.
The next morning, in the bay of Signehama, the ship was surrounded by ice. We took an early start and headed out to the shore. On board of the dinghy we tried to find our way through the ice. There were still some brooding Kittiwakes up against the rock walls. Arctic Skuas regularly attacked these Kittiwakes. They were flying around with a big chick. The Kittiwakes were still bathing in the fresh water of the lake. On this lake we also spotted a Common Eider with big chicks, a Red-throated Diver and some Glaucous Gulls. At the end of the walk we made a visit to the remainders of the German weather station, which has been abandoned since 1943. We also found beautiful rings of stone with polygon structures, formed by the permafrost. After lunch we left to head for Lillienhookbreen. With the dinghy we sailed right past the glacier wall. We were able to make a wonderful photo shoot of a bearded seal, which was taking a nap on an ice floe. As we sail out of the Krossfjorden we got to photograph some Northern Fulmars, which were sliding past the surface of the water. Also the guests spotted some Atlantic Puffins and some young Guilemots. We hoisted the anchor, enjoyed a nice dinner and made course for the northwest of Spitzbergen. We hope to arrive at Ytre Norskøya (or Zeeuwse Uitkijk) after midnight.’
4 Sep 2008 11:46 GMT
78°45.15’N, 011°20.28’E. Compass 001. Knots 8,0.
One of the guides, Jan van der Geld, reports:
"The last of the guests for this voyage came on board Tuesday night at 20:30 hours. After a few words of welcome we immediately left Longyearbyen. On the early morning of Wednesday we dropped anchor in Colesbukta. After a quiet night we went to the shore for a walk. We scurried about between the buildings of the Russian coalmine of Grumantbyen, which have been deserted since 1962, and walked across the hills towards the old cemetery. A family of Snow Buntings was sitting on a fence watching us. Most of the plants have ceased blossoming, but we still found some Cuckooflowers, Moss campion, Saxifrage and Arctic mouse-ear. We strolled through fields of the fuzzy seeds of the willow woods. Sounds of shrieking Barnacle Geese echoed against the hills. We found many hairs, bones, skulls and antlers of reindeers, but we never got to see them in the flesh. To our surprise, we found a growth place of still blossoming Horseweed. In two sheds we found stores for rock cores. After lunch the sail were set and we sailed on to Poolepynten, where we were hoping to find walruses. As the evening fell the weather became worse and worse and even wet snow began to fall. We dropped anchor to get a nice night of sleep.
This morning there was no walrus in sight. Eventually one did appear in the water. We also made a short walk and encountered a Great Northern Diver, some Arctic Terns, Purple sandpipers, Arctic skuas and a group of Kittiwakes. The weather cleared up nicely and everybody enjoyed the, with powder snow covered, mountains of the Prins Karls Forland.
At the moment we are on our way to the Fjortende Julibreen, where we expect to arrive at 16:00 hours."
2 Sep 2008 09:29 GMT
78°13.70’N, 015°36.41’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
At the moment the ship is moored in Longyearbyen and everybody has set into ‘town’ to buy some last souvenirs and maybe visit a museum. This afternoon the guests will fly back home after the final lunch by our cook Christian, who prepared a wonderful six-course-captains-dinner last night. It was a pleasant final evening on board. There was a photo contest, with the crew as the ‘expert’ jury. The winners were Cor, Maarten and Eva; once again congratulations to you! The evening ended with a film about this voyage, made by one of the guests. Everybody went quiet when they saw the beautiful images, that gave a perfect summary of the voyage.
The new guests are still in the airplane high above the sea between Norway and Spitzbergen, probably fantasizing about the voyage that lies ahead of them.
30 Aug 2008 GMT
One of the guests, Reinier Koning, illustrates the visit that was made to Barentszburg on August 30th:
"The engine was turned off, the square fore-sail was hoisted and steadily all the guests were ready to sail off. But not before a Minke whale passed the ship. The maritime fauna is very fascinating.
The next morning, with wind Bft 5, the ‘Oosterschelde’ was completely in her element. Without hesitation she found her way between the waves and the sail were fluttering in the wind, which would blow us in the direction of Barentszburg. Barentszburg is a Russian settlement that has been in possession of the Dutch from 1920 until 1932. As we sailed into the small harbour of Barentszburg it did not seem well-maintained. And after a closer examination we noticed that it indeed is not well-maintained. In Barentszburg they still dig for coal, but the Russians are probably trying to hold on to a strategic position for the harvesting of the true ‘black gold’.
To reach the village one has to mount a lot of steps, but surprisingly these steps lead to a whole other world. Weathered buildings that remind of a Russia before Perestroika and Glasnost. A sculpture of Lenin is prominently visible and the ‘old chief’ gazes in the direction of Moskow with a cold stare. Curiosities are the refrigerators that are hanging from the windows. Why use electricity when you can use the natural resources. There are more than enough sport facilities present. There is an Olympic sport centre, a soccer field and a swimming pool. There is even a Russian consulate that would not be unbecoming in a city with half a million inhabitants."
29 Aug 2008 17:54 GMT
78°51.83’N, 010°11.23’E. Compass 183. Knots 3,5.
One of our guests, Ap van der Pijl, reports:
"This is magnificent. It is Friday August 29th and we have been underway for a week. On this voyage you have to look for the moments of peace and reflection. So many impressions; so many emotions; so much awe, respect and nullity regularly lead to sighs and statements such as: “This is so beautiful, this is so magnificent…”.
It is a strange feeling that we did not know much out Spitzbergen at forehand, but within a few days all the guests were down on their knees examining a special plant, gazing at a blooming meadow or enthusiastically peeking through the binoculars at a Atlantic Puffin and other unique birds that are in abundance here. The flora and fauna in this most northern part of Europe is special enough on its own, but the expertise and involvement of the guides Cor and Jelle make even the smallest plant seem special and make all the guests actively look at the horizon for birds. Thanks to the good atmosphere an
d the humorous contributions of the guides and the other guests this is not just a impressive voyage for nature lovers. Many of the guests on board of the ‘Oosterschelde’ are experienced travellers and have visited many places in this world, but the way nature reveals itself here is something that they have not seen often before. We are very fortunate with the weather conditions; about 4 degrees Celsius, often sunshine and no rain. It is best compared with an early ski-holiday.
Yesterday was one of the many special days. After the ship sailed through the night we woke up in the Kongsfjorden and after breakfast we took the dinghy to the shore for a firm walk. As usual, the front and back of the group was escorted by the armed guides, which were on constant alert for Polar bears. Earlier this voyage we were fortunate enough to spot some Polar bears, a mother with two cubs on a small island near the ship. Whilst walking on the Blomstrandhamna we were surprised by two reindeer, which were at close range. As they were grazing we were able to get even closer to them.
We eventually arrived in Ny London, where in 1910 a attempt was made to harvest the present marble. Undoubtedly, with much energy and effort a small railway-line was constructed, steam boilers were placed, a crane was set up and a few accommodations, for the mineworkers, were build. After two years the mining operation was in business. The first marble was cut out and deported to the harbour, knowing that the financiers were impatiently waiting for the first profits. Unfortunately, the marble was not proof against the higher temperatures and crumbled almost immediately at arrival. Thus the end of the operation came soon enough. They did not bother to clean op all the equipment and a century later a group of Dutch people are walking around the remains in complete awe. Apparently the whole enterprise now seems a bit dumb and blunt. But happened with the mining business then is comparable with the crashing of the ICT business not so long ago. However those remains will not be as interesting in a century.
The ‘Oosterschelde’ had sailed along during our walk and picked us up in bay. In the mean time the bed linen was changed and lunch was already waiting for us. The friendly and always active crew exercise hospitality with great care and guatantee a good atmosphere on board.
A short crossing to Ny Ålesund gave us the first contact in over a week. Ny Ålesund is a small settlement for researchers from different countries. With a population of 30 persons in the winter to 130 persons in the summer it is a small enclave with the most northern post office in the world (which consists of a single postmark), a small combined shop and, most important, a phone. Whilst mooring there was a certain excitement amongst the guests. Finally some human contact! The mobile phones were turned on, the PDA’s were put back to use… unfortunately there was no network available so soon enough there was a queue for the available phone. Very nostalgic!
The captain had invited the local inhabitants for a party in the evening, news that had spread through the community very quickly. That evening the international scientists came on board of the ‘Flying Dutchman’ for a beer. Tough and sometimes touching stories where followed by cheerful jokes. A pleasant evening which became even more special thanks to a beautiful sunset at 00:00 hours, one of the first we got to witness because the days are getting shorter now. In a while it will be dark for months again. We enjoyed the remainder of the day knowing that the next day would once again give us a lasting memory: a walk to the Fjortende Julibreen.
All those impressions, words cannot describe it. Fortunately we are able to experience it…"
26 Aug 2008 02:28 GMT
79°36.36’N, 012°38.98’E. Compass 193. Knots 0,1.
Sundaynight we reached Moffen. However, it was not easy because the water around the 80th degree of latitude was filles with ice. The Navtex report mentioned very open drift-ice. That does not sound very impressive, but it costed us a lot of effort. With a calm tempo we zigzagged between the big pieces of ice, in the direction of Moffen. The weather was calm and sunny, with snowy mountaintops in the background and here and there a bearded seal. It turned out to a wonderful day.
Wonderful day number two started with a walk on Reinsdyrflya. After lunch, when we were sailing to the Monacobreen, we spotted a polar bear with two cubs. To celebrate this spotting we took some of the ice out of the water and a few minutes later everybody was enjoying the moment with a drink, with glacier-ice. This beautiful day ended with the anchoring in the Liefdefjorden, at Hornbækpollen. On all sides the ship are surrounded by high rock formations and the only thing that broke the immense silence are the thousands of birds which are breeding here.
We are looking forward to what tomorrow will bring us.
24 Aug 2008 10:51 GMT
79°51.25’N, 011°40.19’E. Compass 068. Knots 2,1.
Our new nature guide Jelle Abma writes:
"After a walk at Poolepynten, Roelof instructed us all what to do in case of emergency. Next we sailed east of Prins Karl Forland to the north to the Lilliehöökfjorden, where we woke up the next morning anchored in the great Signehamna bay. No wind, some pieces of glacial ice on the water and, in the distance, a Bearded seal. At 09:00 we started a walk of 2,5 hours, amongst others to a WWII German weather station.
After lunch the dinghies took us along the front of the Lilliehöökbreen. The glacier made a lot of noise and there were many Bearded seals that we could watch close-by. After dinner we went further north and we achored close to the Zeeuwse Uitkijk. There we made a walk on Sunday morning, passing old ovens and graves, witness to the Dutch whalers that once worked here.
We now sail towards Moffen island and we hope to pass the 80th latitude.
22 Aug 2008 16:50 GMT
78°26.95’N, 011°52.28’E. Compass 290. Knots 0,0.
Spitsbergen voyage #4 has already begun. Last night (Thursday) the crew had dinner in Longyearbyen and then, around midnight, our new guests arrived. Although they were a bit tired because of the long journey, they stayed awake for a long time, encouraged by the ever present sunlight. This morning at 06:00 we left and at 08:00 we were able to set sail. With a light S-ly we sailed out of the Isfjorden. This afternoon (Friday) at around 16:00 we anchored at Poolepynten, where all now are admiring the many walruses on the beach.
17 Aug 2008 05:23 GMT
78°58.15’N, 012°09.91’E. Compass 154. Knots 0,0.
It has been 3 days since our last message. Time has flown by. On Thursday we went to have a look at the Monaco glacier. Some of us saw a Polar bear, far away. We wenton to Vulkanhamna and anchored there. In the morning (Friday) we visited the only hot water springs of Spitzbergen. Next we tried to sail to the island of Moffen, above the 80th latitude, but already at the exit of the Woodfjorden we were met by an awsome amount of ice, which made Moffen impossible to reach. But we enjoyed the huge number of Bearded seals, they were playing (or hunting, we hardly see the difference) between the pieces of ice. We went on towards Ytre Norskøya (or Zeeuwse Uitkijk) and around midnight we saw a Polar bear close by on some ice. We could go so close that we didn’t need out binoculars anymore. Later the pictures were shown and compared. We ended up anchored at Sørgattet, at around 04:00 on Saturday. After breakfast we sail to the Kongsfjorden. At dinner time we anchor at Blomstrandhalvøya.
14 Aug 2008 10:18 GMT
79°41.38’N, 013°34.51’E. Compass 277. Knots 0,1.
On Wednesday (yesterday) we visited Smeerenburg. Cold and grey, with snowflakes flying by in a strong wind. It must have been tough to live here, way back in the 17th century. We see many graves of the whalers who died here.
Right after our walk we heave anchor and leave for the Liefdefjorden (Love fjord). To the north of Spitzbergen we encounter a lot of ice and it is hard to find a passage to the Woodfjorden. We anchor at Worsleyhamna just before midnight. Even here in the fjord we have a lot a bumpy waves. We were lucky to be able to go ashore this morning. The wind is still rather strong but the temperature has risen to 6 C and the sun is there to warm us a bit more. Great weather to visit the Monacobreen, one of the biggest glaciers here. Our dinghy right now is picking up everybody, and we will leave soon.
12 Aug 2008 20:35 GMT
79°21.52’N, 010°38.84’E. Compass 352. Knots 7,4.
This afternoon we visited Tinayrebreen (breen = glacier). We hoped to see some Bearded seals, but this time they didn’t show up. In the evening we tried to visit the Fjortende Julibreen but the wind and the poor anchoring possibilities made us give up; maybe we will be more successful on the way back. Now we sail along Albert I-land towards Smeerenburg, the 17th century Dutch whaling station. Sometimes a Bearded seal appears and once in a while the dorsal fin of a minky whale.
12 Aug 2008 13:00 GMT
After dinner (on the 10th) we left Longyearbyen. Hardly having left the Adventfjorden, we were welcomed by a pod of fin whales. We drifted for almost two hours among them. Then we continued our journey to Poolepynten, to admire the walrusses. They were many, and we could come quite near. Last night we arrived at Lillihöökbreen. The fjord was full of ice and we had to maneuver a quite long time to get a bit nearer. Some of the crew made a clever construction to hoist a piece of glacier ice on board, to be made into tinkling cubes in the whisky. Finally we anchored in the beautiful bay Signehamna, surroundede by ice. Right now I hear the last coming back on board and we will leave now for Tinayrebreen.
11 Aug 2008 17:27 GMT
When we left Longyearbyen this morning (Sunday) for our next voyage, we had our first snow of this expedition. The big grey and green mountains were covered with the white powder and they looked very awesome. After breakfast we anchored at Colesbukta, where outr guests went ashopre for a first walk. In the afternoon we went back to Longyearbyen to pick up some delayed luggage of one of our new passengers. Many took the opportunity to visit the local museum and to do some souvenir shopping.
10 Aug 2008 20:00 GMT
We were silent for a bit, the sad events took all our attention. Catharine, Bram en Karin would be flying home very soon and things on board slowly picked up their usual pace.
On Wednesday night we went to Skansbukta. We made a big fire ashore, had some drinks and hoisted the flag in top again.
On Thursday morning we made a walk in an amphitheater of mountains. In the afternoon we went to Pyramiden, where Vadim, an Ukrainian, gave us a tour along deserted buildings and cole mines.
In the evening we went to Bjonahamna, a late but beautiful sailing trip for the die-hards. In Bjonahamna we saw the Svalbard ptarmigan, reindeer and many shell fossiles.
At 14:00 the anchor is hoisted for the last time. In the evening we had the Captain’s dinner closing off this eventfull, remarkable voyage.
6 Aug 2008 17:15 GMT
Longyearbyen, August 6th 2008
We have sad news to report. Yesterday our passenger Bram Oort had a heart attack on board; Bram died, aged 69. His wife Catharina was with him on the voyage. We had known Bram only for a short period of time but this has touched us deeply. We wish Catharina and Bram’s family and friends a lot of strength to deal with the loss. Our flag is flying at half-mast.
5 Aug 2008 06:01 GMT
78°58.01’N, 012°09.16’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
When we woke up in Vulkanhamna the ‘Oosterschelde’, and all the surrounding red coloured mountains, were covered in a thick mist. This was no weather for a walk if we wanted to keep the Polar bears at a safe distance. Thus we sailed on, looking for bet
ter weather. We would not find this in the Liefdefjorden, so we set course for the Kongsfjorden. However, first we made a short detour to make a festive cross of the 80th degree of latitude. Spitzbergen is the only place on earth where a ship can come at such close range of the Pole. Not only the GPS showed us that we were close by the North pole. Also large patches of ice indicated our nearness to the Pole. With the help of a keen eye in the mast we found a way through the ice towards clear water.
The next morning we passed the large Lillehöökfjorden and at 12:00 hours we droped the anchor at Signehamna. We finally get to feel land underneath our feet, whilst making a firm walk. After lunch we explored a new fjord, Tinayrebukta, which is characterised by amazingly high glaciers and many curious bearded seals. These seals all came to sniffle the dinghy. Because this Monday was glacier day we anchored at the Fjortende Julibreen glacier before dinner. This glacier has withdrawn so much that we could walk right up to the glacier wall. With a beautiful low sun, which was shining on the clear blue ice, it was true a spectacle. The voyage continues and Tuesday had barely begun, 02:30 hours, as we anchored at Bomstrandhalvøya.
3 Aug 2008 04:34 GMT
79°27.80’N, 013°25.36’E. Compass 306. Knots 0,1.
In the night of Saturday August 2nd we anchored in Worsleyhamna, surrounded by a thick fog. We chose a spot just south of Reinsdyrflya, which is named after the large population of reindeer who live here. As we were making plans for a walk the mist cleared up a bit, but was not completely gone as we sailed on to the big Monaco glacier. Due to the low-hanging clouds we could not see the horizon. The giant ice floes around us seemed to float in the air. Above us, the sky was clear blue. As we came closer to the glacier our sight became worse and worse. Eventually we did not get to see the giant ice wall, even though we had never been this close. As we sailed on in the direction of the Bockfjorden one of our guides, Annemiek, spotted a Polar bear on an island. This male did not seem to be very interested in the approaching ‘Oosterschelde’; he walked around a bit, posed for our cameras and eventually went to sleep. Content after witnessing this spectacle we sailed on and dropped our anchor in Vulkanhamna later that same day.
1 Aug 2008 19:53 GMT
79°53.26’N, 013°53.02’E. Compass 142. Knots 6,9.
On Thursday July 31st, at 09:00 hours, we came to shore at Smeerenburg on Amsterdamøya. All historians could indulge themselves on the remains of old blubber ovens and the monument in honour of the whalers. Later on we encountered the grave of the 17th century hibernating sailors which had died of scurvy. In the afternoon we shifted the ship to the other side: Danskayo, in order to visit Virgohamna. It turned out to be a beautiful day and after our walk everybody enjoyed the magnificent Arctic environment. The next day, Friday August 1st, we heaved the anchor only to drop anchor again three hours later, at the ‘Zeeuwsche Uytkyck’ on Ytre Norskøya. We clambered up and everybody took place with special spectacles, filters and glasses in order to witness the eclipse. The sky clear made sure that we could experience this natural phenomenon. The eclipse did not reach the full 100%. There was a brief twilight, with surreal blue light. Afterwards the arctic summer simply continued. Around us nature just carried on. Little Auks, Common Murres and Atlantic Puffins flew around us and beneath us a blue Arctic fox and a regular Arctic fox were horsing around. On our way back we passed by the graves of the ‘Zeeuwse’ whalers, which are fiercely guarded by the brooding Arctic Terns. We heaved the anchor again and and sailed in the direction of Reinsdyrflya. Alas, after two hours the wind has calmed and the thick fog forces us to use the engine in order to proceed.
30 Jul 2008 16:09 GMT
78°45.78’N, 011°22.64’E. Compass 012. Knots 5,8.
On Tuesday Juli 29th we left Longyearbyen, with a heavy overcast above us. Unfortunately for our guests there was a firm north-west wind, which kept us from making much progression in the Forlandsundet. At approximately 17:00 hours we decided to look for a quiet bay and we discover a new spot for anchoring and walking: Eidembukta. During dinner everybody was cheerful and present. After a short chat about the danger of Polar bears we left the ship. We made a beautiful walk over a tundra filled with flowers and past bizarre, eroded rock-formations. Back on board we lured Maarten inside and just past midnight we celebrated his birthday.
Because the next day was sunny and the wind had decreased, we decided to weigh the anchor and head for our friends the Walruses at Poolepynten. One of the Walruses gave us a spectacular show. In fifteen minutes he pulled two Kittiwakes under to play with them and eventually eat them. After this spectacle we went back on board. That same day we continued our voyage north. Very slowly we passed the shallow waters of the Forlandsrevet, where the most shallow point is 1,30 metres. With a speed of 6 knots we can go on and we will need all night to reach the Mauritiusbay.
28 Jul 2008 21:49 GMT
78°14.02’N, 015°34.90’E. Compass 290. Knots 0,0.
On Sunday July 27th we made a last walk at Skansbukta. There are many beautiful flowers here such as the Boreal Jacobs-ladder, which give the slopes a fair blue colour. We walked to the big river valley, were we saw many fossils from ancient seabeds. The ones with boots on, and a few braves ones on bare feet, crossed the many small streams to the other side of the valley. The rest chose the dry path back and got to see a rare blue Arctic fox. After this walk it was time for our final journey to Longyearbyen. Here we had some time to visit the town and when we came back a delicious Captainsdinner was waiting for us. In the evening everybody was preparing for the farewell that would come in the night. However due to a dense fog the guests would not have to leave until later in the day. The new guests have arrived en along with the crew are looking forward to the next voyage, which will take us further to the north.
26 Jul 2008 13:55 GMT
78°17.15’N, 015°03.68’E. Compass 041. Knots 6,1.
After we visited the old marble mine on Blomstrandhalvøya we sailed out of the Kongsfjord in order to make a short visit to the Fjortende Julibreen glacier. It turned out to be a firm walk to the glacier wall, where we saw big chunks of ice breaking off. We really had to be careful not to get wet feet. For those who did not feel like making the entire walk back there was a dinghy to pick them up in the bay. The ones who did walk back got to enjoy a show put up by a bearded seal.
Now it was time for the voyage back to the Isfjord. Unfortunately it was misty and the wind was not coming from the right direction to sail. Barentsburg was the next destination this Saturday morning. We made a visit to the Pomormuseum and bought some souvenirs. The weather had cleared up. With the sun and enough wind we could almost sail away from the quay, without the engine. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for sailing and even the square fore-sail was put to use. The destination for this afternoon is Skansbukta.
24 Jul 2008 20:08 GMT
78°58.11’N, 012°09.16’E. Compass 040. Knots 0,1.
After making a nice stroll to the remains of the German weather station and enjoying the warm weather, we came back on board for a short sailing trip past the Lilliehöökbreen. Tremendous rumour pointed out that large chunks of ice were breaking off, which caused tidal waves that we could feel pass by underneath the ship. After all this primal violence we sailed out of the Kongsfjorden and moored at Ny-Ålesund. The little shop and the café here did good business that day.
Today was another sun filled day in the Kongsfjord and we decided to visit a bird-breeding cliff, which was located deeper into the fjord. It was a warm climb of 130 metres, but we were rewarded with beautiful views, shrieking Kittiwakes and Brünnich’s Guillemots. All this whilst we enjoyed the odour of guano. In the afternoon we carefully sailed back between the abundant glacier ice and found an anchor spot near Blomstrandhalvøya. We divided the anchor watch to keep an eye on the floating ice. Inside it is very comfortable with the stove on and outside there is the smell of boiled down mutton fat, which is smeared on the masts. Now we are hoping that it will attract some polar bears…
22 Jul 2008 20:18 GMT
79°16.45’N, 011°32.56’E. Compass 337. Knots 0,1.
The most northern point of this voyage has been reached and a lot of wonderful things have lead up to this moment. After we made some necessary purchases we started looking for an anchor spot in Colesbukta. Just as we are getting ready to leave the ship the entire bay ran over with Beluga’s. Cameras were snapping everywhere. After this beautiful moment we made a delightful stroll, where we encountered many reindeers and plant and bird species. It becomes a late night, but fortunately the sun shines 24 hours a day.
During the night we heaved the anchor to leave the Isfjord in the direction of the Forlandsundet. We made a stop near some walruses, who were enjoying the sun underneath a clear blue sky. We joined in on the sunbathing although we did not take a swim. There was enough wood on the beach for the stove and soon the dinghy is loaded with enthusiastic guests to comb the beach.
We left the Forlandsundet to head for our next destination: the Krossfjorden, which happen to be the most northern point of this voyage. The sun was brightly shining and we saw Little auks and Atlantic puffins flying all around us. Whilst manoeuvring between the chunck of ice we found an anchor spot in Signehamna, where there was floating enough ice for the whisky. We made a toast at 79° North latitude.
20 Jul 2008 23:08 GMT
77°46.58’N, 013°31.27’E. Compass 332. Knots 7,8.
The Fridtjofbreen are partially withdrawn and is not as active as the last time we were here. It is still very beautiful. We are now, with very rainy weather, on our way to the Isfjorden.
20 Jul 2008 11:25 GMT
77°33.42’N, 015°02.63’E. Compass 010. Knots 0,0.
Yesterday, we sailed into the first, most southern fjord of Spitzbergen. We had hoped to visit the Polish research centre, but unfortunately they were too busy. Lucky for us there was enough to see in this area. We sailed past some beautiful glaciers and in between chunks of ice of many different sizes. It was very quiet on deck, because everybody was impressed by the view. Here we would also have the most chance of spotting a polar bear. And indeed our patience was rewarded when we spotted the first polar bear, which we were able to approach at close range. After this special moment we hit the ‘jackpot’: a mother bear with two cubs. Next to this we also spotted harp seals and bearded seals. In the evening we sailed out of the fjord in northern direction, heading for Bellsund. At 06:00 hours we anchored in Bourbonhamna. The remains of a dead sperm whale were lying on the beach. We made a nice stroll across the beach and the tundra. We returned to the ship in the rain. After lunch we will head in the direction of the Fridtjofbreen.
19 Jul 2008 07:32 GMT
76°26.92’N, 015°48.58’E. Compass 341. Knots 7,3.
On july 17th we really wanted to make a landing on Bear Island, but it was obvious that that was not going to be easy. We carefully sailed into Sørhamna through the thick fog. The swell lead right around the corner, which told us that the breakers were headed right for the beach where we would have made our landing. We had to turn around and head for the only place where we might have a chance under these circumstances, Landnørdingsvika, at the west/southwest side of the island. There was a small passage which lead to a small bay, surrounded by high rock-faces. Big amounts of water were flowing in and out of this bay, but with the help of good timing and a small amount of people in the dinghy it was possible. And indeed after lunch we were on Bear Island.
During a landing at another location the motor of the dinghy became defective so we had to leave it behind at the beach. With a second boat we were able to get everybody back on board. The next morning we were able to salvage the boat. Yesterday our anchor position turned out to be a great place for fishing. After catching a good amount of cod we heaved the anchor. We expect to arrive in the Hornsund on Spitzbergen at the beginning of the afternoon. We hope that we can visit the Polish research centre there. The coastguard warns us for floating ice in this region, but we have not seen any ice yet. In the meantime the temperature has dropped to 2 degrees Celsius.
16 Jul 2008 18:13 GMT
72°57.61’N, 019°52.41’E. Compass 001. Knots 6,4.
The wind that we were expecting, has arrived and since 14:00 we are under sail. The wind will increase to 6 Bft in the night.
80 NM left to Bjørnøya, ETA around breakfast time. The rifles have been put in working order. Maybe we won’t meet polar bears, but we will take the rifles ashore anyway, at all times. It is not sure that we will be able to go ashore; there is a heavy swell at the moment. We’ll try our very best.
16 Jul 2008 08:40 GMT
72°00.42’N, 019°59.05’E. Compass 001. Knots 7,1.
No wind. There is a swell so we roll heavily. Not everyone is happy with that, but we can’t do anything about it. We use the engine to make progress, and we have set some sail to suppress the movements of the ship. 140 NM to go to Bjørnøya.
Those who are able to come on deck have a lot to see: sperm whales, minky whales and white-beaked dolphins have been spotted.
15 Jul 2008 19:42 GMT
70°30.91’N, 020°03.50’E. Compass 356. Knots 6,8.
We have left Tromsø. July 14th was a day of stores, fuel, drinking water etc. etc. The crew had a dinner amongst themselves to conclude a busy day. Starting at 21:00 our new guests started to arrive.
We left the next morning at 11:00, so everyone had some time to explore the city.
First we had to go under the bridge (we had to lower our pennant), then through the fjords, with some fog and some sun. We passed Fugløya (Bird Island) where we saw lots of interesting birds, among them some 8 white-tailed eagles. We are at open sea now. 227 NM to go to Bjørnøya.
15 Jul 2008 19:36 GMT
70°30.19’N, 020°03.63’E. Compass 356. Knots 6,8.
On Sunday July 13th at 17:45 we moored in Tromsø. The voyage was concluded with a special dinner party, speeches by Bart and Bernard, photographs were shown, we had some drinks and even played some soccer at the quay. The night was short and not too dark, alarm clocks were set for an early breakfast, and then it was the bog goodbye. A great voyage. Thanks to all.
14 Jul 2008 GMT
Yesterday, around 17:45 hours, the ‘Oosterschelde’ arrived in Tromsø. This morning all the guests have left the ship and this evening the new guests for the voyage from Tromsø to Longyearbyen will come on board.
12 Jul 2008 20:16 GMT
68°12.94’N, 015°08.13’E. Compass 078. Knots 7,5.
As we mentioned earlier, we left for Solvær on Friday morning. We arrived here at 11:00 hours. Near the quay where the ‘Oosterschelde’ was berthed, there was a big shop with fishing equipment. Because we would be visiting the Trolfjord we bought some rods and other fishing equipment. Once again we enjoyed the clear blue sky and the pleasant airy summer weather. Of course we visited the terraces on the village square. After the lunch on deck we left Solvæer and headed towards the Trolfjord. This is a fjord surrounded by steep mountainsides, which can reach a height of hundreds of metres and is filled with deep clear blue water. In the back of the fjord the dingy went over board and a few guests went to the shore to ‘pluck’ mussels from the rock-faces. This was not an east job, with both arms up to the elbows in the freezing cold water. But the catch was obtained gratefully and in the galley the mussels were prepared as a delightful snack. Also, the enthusiastic fishermen caught big pollacks and cods. Later that evening we anchored just outside the Trolfjord, at Ulvoya, for a quiet evening. With a bird expert on board there was some fanatic spotting of birds, such as Atlantic puffins. In the evening, after dinner, a white-tailed eagle was spotted. The next morning, at 9:00 hours, we proceeded our voyage in the direction of Brettesnes. Supposedly, there would be a small festival there and we were actually welcomed by two musicians on accordions. The exact reason for the festival was not quite clear but it had something to do with many people who visit the island during the summer compared to the winter. A modest but cheerful happening. With use of the dinghy we searched for good locations for fishing to add to the stock for the barbeque later that day. The haul was barbequed on the quay and heartily eaten by the guests and crew. After this good meal we left again. At this moment we are sailing the last part of this voyage, between the fjords towards Tromsø. We expect to arrive in Tromsø tomorrow evening for the last, festive evening.
10 Jul 2008 22:43 GMT
68°05.02’N, 013°38.52’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
We have reached the beautiful Lofoten! On the night of July 9th the high mountains came into sight. The view at night with the sun in the north, the rain showers and brightening up was breathtaking. This morning we anchored in the little harbour of Reine, according to the Norwegians the town with the most charming environment in the area. Later on we were aloud to moor at a fishery, with hangars filled with stockfish, to replenish our water supply. After lunch we left, under sail, to our next destination: Mortsund. Reaching this place was hindered because of the narrow passages which we have to pass in order to reach the bay. Furthermore, there are many fish-farms located on our planned route. Eventually we chose to use another small passage. Here we were able to make a pleasant walk and even some of us have climbed the top of a considerable mountain. We will probably have muscular pain in the morning. At 05:45 hours the alarm clock will go of again and then we will head towards Svolvær. We are enjoying the long expected Lofoten with much enthusiasm.
9 Jul 2008 17:11 GMT
66°34.24’N, 010°42.93’E. Compass 033. Knots 6,7.
We have just passed the polar circle. We thought we could pass it quietly but suddenly the mighty king of the sea, Neptune, stepped over the railing and came on board. Apparently we were not going to get away that easily. Fortunately, after attaining the certificate from him it was time for champagne! Tomorrow morning we expect to reach the Lofoten…
9 Jul 2008 07:11 GMT
65°44.40’N, 009°07.69’E. Compass 033. Knots 5,9.
The wind has decreased so that sails are filled out nicely again. The sea is smoother and our speed is increasing. At the end of the afternoon we expect to cross the polar circle and tomorrow we will reach Lofoten. That is a day ahead of schedule.
8 Jul 2008 22:18 GMT
65°02.37’N, 007°56.90’E. Compass 031. Knots 4,5.
With the help of the engine we are sailing against the wind and the sea. Tomorrow we will cross the polar circle and we will not let that go by unnoticed…
7 Jul 2008 10:14 GMT
62°48.15’N, 005°34.95’E. Compass 031. Knots 4,7.
The sea is still very rough and we expect more wind in the afternoon and evening. On the ship it is quiet and not everyone showed up for breakfast. The ship is making good progress; with close-reefed rigging and with help of the engine we have been sailing in the right direction with an average speed of 5 knots since last night. We still have about 315 miles and some patience to go before we reach the southern side of the Lofoten.
6 Jul 2008 23:26 GMT
62°01.68’N, 004°37.69’E. Compass 022. Knots 5,6.
Yesterday evening, after a beautiful journey through the Norwegian fjords, we sailed out into the open sea. We knew a firm head wind was predicted and very soon this prediction came true. Under this conditions the ‘Oosterschelde’ did not seem that big anymore. Late in the evening we decided to change the plans because we knew the weather was only going to get worse. Last night we went back in at the fjords to find a good spot to anchor. This morning everybody woke-up in the beautiful, quiet, calm bay of Askvoll. There was time for a stroll on the shore and after the lunch there was a ‘man overboard’ exercise, which was not only useful but also very funny. This unplanned stop was highly appreciated. In the meantime we are back at sea and there are still high waves. The difference is that we know the weather will only get better. We also have still 375 miles to go to the Lofoten.
5 Jul 2008 11:22 GMT
60°25.00’N, 005°17.37’E. Compass 336. Knots 7,1.
Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Bergen. It was yet again a beautiful, warm day and on the way we had a view of the coast with it’s snow covered mountaintops. On the other side of the ship, a whale swam alongside for a while. The self-build sailing ship of our youngest guest-crewmember Lars was lifted in to the water and sailed away like a proper sailing ship. While arriving in Bergen, dinner was postponed so that everyone could help and watch while the ship was mooring.
Bergen, which is known for it’s many days of rain, looked rather beautiful in the sunlight. In the evening most of us decided to take a look around the town, where there was a festive mood; probably because it was Friday and it was such good weather. This morning there was some time to stroll through the town, across the fish market and past the many shops.
4 Jul 2008 06:48 GMT
59°24.61’N, 004°49.48’E. Compass 020. Knots 9,0.
Time flies and there is much to do on board. In the early morning of July 3rd we arrived in Mandal. The harbour was very full and it was somewhat difficult to maneuvre the ‘Oosterschelde’ to her berth. Mandal is a charming town with characteristic wooden houses. It was a beautiful day and the Norwegians seemed very excited. That morning was used to get some supplies, buy a souvenir and drink a cup of coffee on a terrace in the sun.
After the lunch we left the harbour and started on the next part of the voyage, towards Bergen. With the wind coming from the east at 7 Bft we left with a reefed mainsail, skysail and topsail. Since then it has been very busy with declining and increasing wind. All the sails have once again been used and the average speed lies around 9 knots. We have now covered about 470 miles, with 3 hours on the engine. We expect to arrive in Bergen tonight.
2 Jul 2008 03:24 GMT
57°48.14’N, 010°13.48’E. Compass 271. Knots 2,8.
We are still enjoying beautiful weather! We can also clearly notice that we are heading north because the sun already rises at 3:00 hours at night. The entire wardrobe of the ‘Oosterschelde’ has been used these past few days. Last night at 23:30 hours we passed Skagen and we are now sailing under full sail towards the southern coast of Norway.
1 Jul 2008 07:38 GMT
56°52.82’N, 010°49.15’E. Compass 352. Knots 5,3.
Still lots of sun, an excellent wind and good progress; we could not have hoped for a better start of a voyage. We have about 50 miles to go before we reach Skagen, where we will change our course to the west in the direction of the Norwegian coast.
30 Jun 2008 23:35 GMT
56°02.04’N, 010°59.23’E. Compass 007. Knots 6,9.
The Kieler Woche has ended and last night at 21:00 hours we welcomed our new guest-crew on board. There was some time to adjust, a cup of soup, the closing firework show and then everybody went off to bed. This morning at 5:00 hours, whilst enjoying the first sunlight, we left Kiel. After just 10 minutes we were under sail. In the meantime we have covered over a 100 miles, with the help of a firm west/southwest wind. The ‘Oosterschelde’ is in her element and it is a pleasure to sail with her.
22 Jun 2008 12:43 GMT
54°19.72’N, 010°10.68’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
For us the Kielerwoche started last Friday night with a calm trip on the Kieler Förde. We will have daytrips and eveningtrips almost everyday this week. Usually with big German companies and their clients. However, today there will be no trips so we will be able to do some chores for which we usually do not have the time.
20 Jun 2008 13:50 GMT
54°19.73’N, 010°10.68’E. Compass 090. Knots 0,0.
We have just finished a beautiful voyage. Yesterday we sailed to the end of the Nord-Ostsee-Kanal upto the locks at Kiel Holtenau. We sailed into the fjord to take a look at the other participants of the Kieler Woche. There already were many small and big sailing ships, but we expect many more still to come. With the south to southwest wind we sailed out of the fjord and a few miles past our berth to make a turn. Thus began the more active part. Everybody took their places and soon we were tacking several times within a few minutes. The wind came in flares, with strong downpours. At the end of the afternoon we came into the harbour where we moored. We enjoyed a nice dinner before exploring Kiel. A perfect moment for festivities, as the match between Germany and Portugal ended in a 3–2 for Germany.
Unfortunately, this morning the voyage was definitely over as the guests disembarked the ship at 11:00 hours.
19 Jun 2008 07:08 GMT
54°20.87’N, 009°45.79’E. Compass 049. Knots 6,0.
In between the green shores of the Kieler Canal, red-coloured cows and enormous ships we have arrived in Rendsburg. Young seagulls, gannets and auks can be seen, heard and smelled from up close. It was only yesterday when we passed the red cliffs of Helgoland. After dinner yesterday, a pub was prepared to show the match between The Netherlands and Romania, instead of the match between Italy and France. Our guests were cheering loud as the match ended in a 2 – 0 for the Netherlands. We left Rendsburg this morning at 08:00 hours. We expect to arrive at the locks of Holtenau around 10:00 hours. There is a firm wind and it will be a good day for sailing on the Baltic. We will arrive in Kiel tonight.
16 Jun 2008 23:12 GMT
54°01.27’N, 006°43.68’E. Compass 077. Knots 3,8.
It is 01:00 ship’s time now. We have done some great sailing during the last 20 hours. We had to use the engine just for a little while to get away from a busy traffic seperation zone. The moonlight shines on us and the wind is coming in from the back, while we go in the direction of Helgoland. All are used to the sea now. The light and the sunsets are awesome, the food is delicious and the athmosphere very good. We hope to arrive at Helgoland somewhere in the morning.
15 Jun 2008 19:41 GMT
52°12.21’N, 004°03.82’E. Compass 002. Knots 5,1.
We have great weather on the North Sea. The wind however is a bit more N-ly than expected, so we are going north as much as possible using also the engine. As soon as the predicted W-ly arrives, all sails will be set. Everyone is very eager.
From the shipping company (15 Jun 2008)
The ‘Oosterschelde’ left Rotterdam this afternoon; she will return here at the end of the summer, a summer with great voyages in the Spitzbergen area.
At this very moment (18:30 GMT) the captain informs us that they have reached the latitude of Scheveningen. Not much wind, a clear sky and maybe a very nice sunset coming.
5 Jun 2008 12:00 GMT
51°54.41’N, 004°28.72’E. Compass 090.
Our guests disembarked at Nieuwpoort, Belgium, and we returned to Rotterdam.
In this week we made some daytrips with individual passengers in the framework of the social paragraph of our charter. The ship was completely full and we had to disappoint many that we couldn’t take on board.
On Friday we will leave to Scheveningen, where we will make some more daytrips for individuals, this time at sea.
1 Jun 2008 10:08 GMT
51°18.74’N, 002°35.76’E. Compass 141. Knots 3,6.
After a great day of sailing, we continued this into the night. Due to the light winds our speed changed from less than 1 knot to 6 and 7. We had to use the engine to cross the traffic lane. Now we float amidst the banks in front of the Belgian coast. The wind is gone completely now. The sun tries to peek through the fog.
31 May 2008 11:18 GMT
52°18.63’N, 001°40.76’E. Compass 090.
In the early morning we had some wind after all, and around 06:00 we were able to go with all sails set. Halfway the morning the wind veered and decreased as well, so we had to motor to the coast. We had some sun and at the end of the day we arrived at Lowestoft.
This morning however there was no wind at all, and there was a thick fog. We have anchored at Southwold. Our guests make a walk and we wait for the tide to turn. Halfway the afternoon we will leave, hoping that the wind finally decides to listen to the forecasts (NW 3-4 Bft).
30 May 2008 06:46 GMT
52°19.00’N, 003°36.22’E. Compass 336. Knots 4,7.
Our guests embarked in Rotterdam around 21:00 last night. After having finished dinner, we left and we arrived at open sea around 02:00. We had hoped for a light NE-ly, but none was left, so we motored a bit to the North.
This morning we had a lighty SW-ly breeze and all sails are set. The wind has veered to W since, and our destination, the English coast, is still far away. Although the sky is grey and there is some drizzle, it feels great to be at sea again.
We expect to arrive at Nieuwpoort on Sunday evening, where our guests will disembark. We will then return to Rotterdam.
From the shipping company (28 May 2008)
The 2008 meeting of the shareholders of the ‘Oosterschelde’ and the ‘Helena’ will be held at June 26th in Rotterdam, starting at 15:30. All shareholders will receive further notice at their address.
24 May 2008 11:30 GMT
51°54.41’N, 004°28.72’E. Compass 090.
On Thursday we sailed on the Haringvliet, with an international group of people. During the night we went along the coast to Rotterdam. On Friday we were joined by a company group, sailing with us to Scheveningen. Today we brought the ship back to Rotterdam. We moored there a short while ago, at 13:15 LT.
19 May 2008 10:30 GMT
51°49.15’N, 004°02.70’E. Compass 090.
Having made two daytrips to Antwerp out of Terneuzen, we are now at the Padmos shipyard to have some odd jobs done. On Wednesday we will sail a daytrip with 60 young children, in the framework of the New Horizons Cruises project.
4 May 2008 20:00 GMT
52°27.15’N, 004°06.28’E. Compass 198. Knots 6,8.
Because of the wind forecast (first SW and later E) we did not go to England this year. We decided to go north. We went to the German island of Borkum, hwre we arrived on May 2.
After we visited the island, we left on May 3 and arrived back in Rotterdam on May 4, around 20:15.
30 Apr 2008 08:25 GMT
51°54.41’N, 004°28.72’E. Compass 090.
We have arrived back in Rotterdam about an hour ago. The last part of the voyage was more easy than we had expected; the sea was rather smooth.
29 Apr 2008 18:57 GMT
51°36.91’N, 002°50.96’E. Compass 172. Knots 3,6.
From Ramsgate we sailed to thew other side of the Thames’ mouth. We anchored near a small island. There we could walk ashore; we spent the evening with a campfire, telling jokes and ghost stories. The next dsay we sailed to Ipswich, where our passengers could go shopping at last.
We have crossed the North Sea already and are sailing near the coast of the southern Netherlands. The weather is not that nice anymore and we have a wind of 5 Bft. Which makes them ask how long "this storm’ will stay on. Probably until the morning, when we will arrive back in Rotterdam.
26 Apr 2008 20:33 GMT
51°19.72’N, 001°24.25’E. Compass 090.
For most on board sailing on the sea is new, for some even being on a ship. They are all very enthousiastic.
the night we sailed along the Belgian and French coast. With varying
speed we crossed to the English side, where we moored at Ramsgate at
17:00. Spring is beautiful here as well. Some even ventured a dip in
the -still cold- North Sea.
Tomorrow morning we will leave around 06:00. We will go north along the coast.
From the shipping company (25 Apr 2008)
The ‘Oosterschelde’ left Rotterdam this afternoon with Flexus-project youngsters.
From the shipping company (25 Apr 2008)
After another survey for another certificate, the ship is ready for sea. Today we start project with a group of youngsters in cooperation with Flexus Foundation. The destination is subject to the weatherforecasts. The only that is sure is that we will be back in the Veerhaven in five days.
14 Apr 2008 20:27 GMT
ETA Rotterdam is now Tuesday morning at 09:00.
14 Apr 2008 17:04 GMT
51°40.26’N, 002°26.07’E. Compass 045. Knots 7,0.
The alarm clock sounded at 06:00. Soon the watch came on deck and half an hour later we left Ramsgate. We had a nice NW-ly breeze and the currents were going along with us until about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. First the wind veered, then the currents went the opposite way and then the winds left us. We went by engine for a while, until the the next turn of the tide. Slowly some wind came back and we were able to stop the engine. We seem to be able to reach Rotterdam on sails, 60 miles to go to the mouth of the river. A rough estimate of our time of arrival in the city is tomorrow morning at 07:45. But, as everyone here knows: everything we planned, changed.
13 Apr 2008 16:41 GMT
51°19.70’N, 001°25.26’E. Compass 090.
We were sailing nicely until last night. The wind died down and we started the engine. During the night we joined the other traffic in the ‘highway’ between France and England, and early in the morning we went to the English side of the Dover Strait. Originally we had planned to steer a northerly course because of the wind forecasts. But, no wind came, and we ended up in Ramsgate, after 1103 miles at sea. This evening we will have an extensive dinner and we will celebrate Peter’s birthday and listen to the first tall stories of the voyage.
Tomorrow at 06:00 we will rise and prepare for the last leg, some 125 miles of North Sea. ETA Rotterdam is the morning of April 15th. As soon as we know more, we will let you all know.
11 Apr 2008 06:42 GMT
49°13.41’N, 005°19.76’W. Compass 063. Knots 8,9.
It has been a very busy night. Wind is W-ly 5, 6, 7 Bft and full of gusts. The sea is choppy and we roll heavily on this E-ly course. Progress is good of course, we make some 9 knots and in the right direction.
10 Apr 2008 20:28 GMT
48°23.80’N, 006°33.48’W. Compass 036. Knots 8,0.
Around lunchtime the wind had become so favourable that all sails had been set and the engine was stopped. Not too warm, but a nice sun with a bit rain once in a while. Which gave us good opportunity to rinse off the salt even more.
Around dinner time we did 10.5 knots. We changed our course a bit more to north, doing 8 knots right now, and we have a nice new moon ahead. During the night we will enter the English Channel and pass Île d’Ouessant, and we’ll start the last leg.
9 Apr 2008 14:46 GMT
46°14.52’N, 010°28.11’W. Compass 048. Knots 6,1.
The wind has decreased more and more and also the waves are more calm. At last we were able to steer a more eastern course, to make good for the western course we were forced to take during the last days. Forecasts say the wind will turn W.
The sun is shining and it is rather crowded on deck. Small repairs are being made and we rinse all the salt off of the deck.
8 Apr 2008 18:33 GMT
44°42.64’N, 011°38.34’W. Compass 331. Knots 5,5.
The last 36 hours were not very comfortable. The wind has decreased even more and handling the sails is a lot more easy now. The cook was imperturbable but not many showed up. Tonight everyone was present at dinner. We tried an easterly course for a while but the still strong swell from the east made it more like a course to SE.
Kaatje’s birthday was celebrated on the 6th, when it was still calm; although she has been steady under all circumstances. Peter’s birthday (today) has been postponed; we’ll drink to that in the next harbour.
8 Apr 2008 07:17 GMT
44°36.73’N, 011°33.66’W. Compass 330. Knots 5,6.
The wind has calmed down now but the sea is still choppy. The old lady can stand this better than most of us. Hopefully we can soon stear a more favourable course.
7 Apr 2008 09:17 GMT
43°03.67’N, 010°34.45’W. Compass 340. Knots 5,1.
The nice weather is over. Writing a message like this has become more difficult. We have winds at NE 8 Bft. Completely reefed down and the engine running, we try to make a northern course as much as possible.
5 Apr 2008 21:57 GMT
39°53.53’N, 009°41.06’W. Compass 350. Knots 7,3.
The weather is so great that we decided to move on after some hours of stretching and walking around ashore. We will probably make no stop before we reach Brittany.
5 Apr 2008 GMT
39°21.24’N, 009°22.48’W. Compass 090.
Our youngest crew member Irian reports:
"The day before yesterday all our sails had been set. We couldn”t make pictures from the water though because the dinghy was being repaired. In the evening the wind lulled. We ended sailing on engine power on a mirroring sea. During the night the sea was fluorescent again and also the dolphins came back.
Right now we are in Peniche, north of Lisbon. This afternoon we will leave. Athmosphere is very good, and we enjoy great weather with lots of sun and high temperatures."
3 Apr 2008 08:50 GMT
36°14.19’N, 007°09.00’W. Compass 292. Knots 6,1.
Forecasted were E-ly winds of 8 to 9 Bft. We did prepare for it and secured all stuff on deck and below. We entered the Strait in a beautiful sunset, with a clear view of both continents. The speed was fine and it seemed to stay more calm than expected.
But that didn’t take long. All of a sudden the 8 Bft came, with gusts of 9 Bft. Our speed increased to 11 knots over the ground, with the current helping us. We were quite busy gybing, with ships on port and the shallows and the coast on starboard. For some it was not that easy to sleep…
Now we are on the Atlantic Ocean, with a course set for Cabo de São Vicente, the south-western tip of Portugal. Winds are E-ly and we expect them to veer to South. Couldn’t be better.
2 Apr 2008 14:27 GMT
36°09.13’N, 004°41.99’W. Compass 261. Knots 4,2.
Gibraltar in sight.
The nice weather continued. We had a great night, with a pod of dolphins that played around the bow for hours, in the fluorescent water. Fascinating. And, E-ly winds were forecasting for the next days.
The E-ly has arrived in the meantime. We sail towards the Strait, and we expect to arrive there late in the evening.
1 Apr 2008 20:40 GMT
36°24.50’N, 002°26.94’W. Compass 264. Knots 7,1.
Sunny and 20 C, almost like a tropical vacation. We were able to sail almost all day, and the changing winds made us use all the sails. Which was fun to do. Two whales came to visit us and complete the day. In the evening the wind decreased and we have started the engine to help us make some miles. We expect to reach the area of the Strait of Gibraltar tomorrow evening.
31 Mar 2008 09:06 GMT
39°06.21’N, 000°03.27’E. Compass 146. Knots 7,4.
We left according to plan: first sails up at first light. Work on deck is smooth, many of our guests have sailed on the ‘Oosterschelde’ before. We have a nice breeze in the back, the sun is shining and the temperature is a very agreeable 15 C. We couldn’t have had a better start.
30 Mar 2008 16:38 GMT
39°27.68’N, 000°18.99’W. Compass 090.
Yesterday Roelof, Maarten, Maarten and Lucas flew to valencia to relieve part of the crew. They found the ship in good shape. Tonight our new guests will arrive and ourvoyage to Rotterdam will start at first dawn. Forecasts for our 1800 miles trip look good. Weather is quite calm at the moment, variable winds, warm and sunny. We’ll probably start tormorrow with a light breeze in the back. That would be a nice start.
28 Mar 2008 06:38 GMT
39°27.66’N, 000°18.71’W. Compass 090.
100 miles to go does not seem much on the charts but it still is the distance from the Netherlands to England, and all can happen on the way. And it did. Several times weather and wind changed completely. Sunny into cloudy, calm to 5 Bft against. In the last 60 miles we had a W-ly and we could sail properly. Everyone was helping along to set all the sails, although our cook was preparing an extensive last dinner, which we enjoyed later on. At 19:00 Valencia came into sight and we moored there at 22:30, in the new America’s Cup Harbour.
27 Mar 2008 07:38 GMT
40°31.01’N, 000°46.48’E. Compass 211. Knots 6,8.
It wasn’t easy. During the nigth the wind increased to 8 Bft with violent gusts and huge waves. Only a few of our guests ventured to join the crew during the night watches. Progress was hardly made. But, this morning the wind disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. The sun has risen and it seems to become a beautiful day. We do not have enough time left to make a visit ashore, but we expect to arrive in Valencia in time.
26 Mar 2008 11:36 GMT
41°30.83’N, 002°40.15’E. Compass 234. Knots 6,5.
Sailing on the Mediterranean is associated with nice weather, blue skies, dolphins and a blue sea.
That’s what we got. Amongst others. We had whales, 5 of them and each about 12 meters in length. And we had rain, we had winds of 7 to 8 Bft, we had calmth, gray skies, blue skies, and all these alternating. All night we have been busy setting sails, taking them down again, reefing, de-reefing. It made us tired but we made good miles and we have ended up close to the Spanish coast. A record distance was made during the midnight watch: 42 miles in 4 hours. This morning it was completely calm, but winds have already increased to SW 4 Bft, right against us. Forecasts announce another NW storm, in the evening.
25 Mar 2008 10:35 GMT
43°17.27’N, 005°14.54’E. Compass 257. Knots 7,7.
The weather has improved slightly. Since another storm is expected tomorrow, we deided to leave although a warning is up for 8 Bft.
At the moment we have a NW 7 Bft. The sun is shining and the white crests of the waves make a wonderful sight. Still a bit under cover of the coast, we do a nice speed.
24 Mar 2008 08:41 GMT
43°17.71’N, 005°22.41’E. Compass 090.
Still in Marseille, alas. But, this big city offers a lot, our guests understand the necessity of staying here and they are having a good time exploring. We don’t expect a change in the weather tomorrow, but maybe on Wednesday it will improve a bit. We hope to be able to reach Valencia in time.
22 Mar 2008 21:55 GMT
43°17.71’N, 005°22.41’E. Compass 090.
The improvement of the weather came during the night, around 03:00. We decided to leave early in the morning. We left using the engine and little sail. The pilot warned us for steep seas when he left.
The wind was more to the W than we expected and we were barely able to set a course for the Spanish coast. Many went to bed and few were enjoying lunch. At first we did well but then the winds increased. After even some of the crew became seasick, we decided to change course and set for Marseille. After the course change the sea was less inconvenient; with some sunshine on the white crests, it was a great day after all. We entered the harbour of Marseille this evening at 21:00. At 22:30 we were moored, two anchors at the head. Tomorrow is another day.
21 Mar 2008 19:57 GMT
43°07.02’N, 005°55.99’E. Compass 090.
We stayed here in Toulonall day. Weather is getting worse, rain and lots of wind. Ferries have returned, rows of cars are waiting on the quays. Stormy winds are forecasted for the next days. Maybe we will be able to benefit from a small lull to 5 Bft tomorrow morning, with wind from the NW. We have to cross the Golfe de Lyon and have to wait for calmer times to do that.
20 Mar 2008 22:29 GMT
The last of our guests arrived late. The plane had been delayed and the bus had already left. This morning the weather forecasts were clear: lots of wind coming our way, near Corsica even 11 Bft and here 8 Bft with strong gusts. We left and kept close to the coast, going SW. This evening we entered Toulon.
16 Mar 2008 12:00 GMT
Mipim 2008 was a big success. Everybody was enthusiastic about the
ship, the catering end the crew. We also made a good impression on the
other people in the port. Especially when we hoisted all our sails,
still moored stern to the quay. Today we made a daytrip and we will
stay at anchor outside the port until next Tuesday, when some new
crewmembers will embark.
6 Mar 2008 12:00 GMT
In the meanwhile, the ship has reached its destination. Some 40 miles
southwest of Cannes, in the port of St. Raphaël, we wait untill we can
enter the port of Cannes. This is scheduled on Friday, but the strong
mistral might make it necessary to change our plans. We had a smooth
and fast voyage to Cannes, so we had the opportunity to do quite some
extra work these days. The ship is looking very well and we are ready
for the Mipim 2008.
27 Feb 2008 09:00 GMT
37°21.26’N, 001°39.86’W. Compass 001.
As foreseen, a strong easterly came up. And with the wind came the waves; much steeper and shorter then those on the Atlantic. We fought our way to the coast and anchored in a small bay called La Herradura (the Horseshoe). In the past, many sailing ships must have entered this bay for shelter. “Old times reviving" wrote the local newspaper next to a photograph of the ‘Oosterschelde’.
We waited for the wind to cease and spend our time painting and fishing. The latter without success until the sardines, chased by bigger fish, jumped in our dinghy without any help from us. On Sunday morning we hove the anchor. Tacking up with engine and sails we made quite some progress until our next stop, some 40 miles southwest of Cartagena.
This morning we woke up in a bright and sunny day. Finally we got the weather that we all hoped for.
21 Feb 2008 13:00 GMT
36°12.04’N, 005°04.87’W. Compass 049. Knots 6,0.
We left Peniche on Monday. We set course to the Traffic Separation Scheme of Lisbon under sail. From Lisbon to the Cape of São Vicente we had to use the engine, but the wind shifted and we set all sails again when we passed the Cape. We must have made an impressive sight: a huge container ship passed us closely to make some photos. We passed Tarifa and entered the Mediteranean Sea for the last traject of this voyage. At this moment we are under engine power again to come a bit closer to the Spanish coast. The easterly wind (headwind) is supposed to increase, so we hope to find some shelter nearby the coast.
18 Feb 2008 23:00 GMT
39°21.15’N, 009°22.49’W. Compass 090.
After only six days at sea we reached the port of Peniche, some 40 NM north of Lisbon. The reason to enter the port is the weather forecast which promised us a SE-ly gale. Unfortunately there was no space for us alongside. So we dropped anchor in the middle of the harbour and listen to the wind screaming in the rigging. We expect the gale to cease on Monday.
13 Feb 2008 08:23 GMT
47°59.39’N, 005°44.18’W. Compass 203. Knots 7.
We passed Ushant this morning and entered Biscay. We were very lucky with the weather, which brought us quickly out of the English Channel. Sunny days, easterly winds and, at night, beautiful starry skies. We hope to have the same conditions in Biscay… We spend our time training the new crewmembers. Of course by practicing the emergency-procedures but also by doing many changes of sails, reefing and sailing maneuvers.
From the shipping company (10 Feb 2008)
The weather was fantastic and the circumstances couldn’t be better for the departure of the ship. About twenty friends and relatives waved goodbye to the crew and guests, when the ‘Oosterschelde’ left Rotterdam this morning at 10:15.
From the shipping company (8 Feb 2008)
We are ready for departure. ‘More ready then ever’: all the things that we wanted to do this winter have been done. All stores are on board and so is the crew. The new crewmembers had time to get used to the ship and to the other crewmembers and they have received their safety instructions.
Tomorrow we’ll have a short trip with the friends, relatives and parents of a very ill young boy, Hannes, who had the wish to sail on a real pirate-ship for once. We’re happy to be able to fulfil that wish.
Unless the weather makes it impossible, the ‘Oosterschelde’ will leave Sunday morning at ten. Destination: Cannes.
From the shipping company (27 Jan 2008)
We’re almost there. Of course, on a ship you are never finished with working, but we come close. Part of the crew is enjoying a rest. They come back on board a few days before departure. The remaining crewmembers try to fish the last bits and pieces and clean the ship. Next week we’ll start taking in the stores that we need for the next months.
From the shipping company (4 Jan 2008)
And on we go in 2008. Now the mast is at its place we have to give all the shrouds the right tension. After that we will put all the yards halyards, blocks and sails back in place.