Business got me traveling again … this time to Markham in Ontario, Canada. With that stupid ‘stay Saturday to Sunday night’ rule still in place for direct flights from Frankfurt to Toronto, it turned out, that flying a day earlier … Continue reading →
Several hours into our journey East in the Jones Sound, we had a further stop for another shore landing – and the Baad Fjord at the South of Ellesmere Island seemed to be the right spot for an afternoon stroll.
We found ourselves once again in fabulous surroundings with a nice table mountain backdrop, good views to the bay and a nice beach.
I had walked up the incline a bit to get a better view and continued walking up here in parallel to the beach, when suddenly I realized something white (small enough to not pose a threat) about ten meters in front of me. I froze – and realized there was a pair of arctic hare just in front of me. It stayed that way for a minute or two – until the two started to run away. They obviously had not seen humans before and were not sure on how to react or what to do … and ultimately decided to just run.
I also did run at a later point during this landing – – for a quick Arctic plunge.
I kind of had this on my agenda and it was to be expected, that this tour operator would not go for an official polar plunge (as for instance Quarks did on my first Antarctica cruise). So this landing was just the right time to go for it (Baad is close enough to Bad, which is “bath” in German). So I had already put my swimmers on and a towel in my pack, and after an extensive walk (long enough to be sure that the masses and the ship’s photographer are back on the ship) … just did it. It may have destroyed my hair-do, but was well worth it – plus … I now own a comb ????
Overnight we had left the Eureka Sound and made it into the Norwegian Bay – from here we had to pass back into the Jones Sound.
On the way in we had to go via the Cardigan Strait, as the Hell Gate had been locked by ice – now the situation was the other way round and we – while enjoying breakfast (and taking the occasional photo) – did pass through the <evil voice> Gate of Hell </evil voice> this time. The views certainly were spectacular and despite our fears not accompanied by swaths of sulfur, also no sudden appearances or disappearances.
We made it into the Jones Sound by the time the breakfast buffet was getting closed and were greeted by a bit of ice, which we got by easily. The journey continued East …
We continued our journey South along the Eureka Sound; in the afternoon the ship took a further turn into one of the fjords into Ellesmere Island. Once more the zodiacs were readied up for a landing in the Vesle Fjord. … Continue reading →
On return to the ship the hunger was back and it was time for a late second breakfast. That was followed by a lecture by our ice master, giving an overview of his life as an icebreaker captain in the Canadian coastguard.
Prior to lunch we were invited to join for the traditional Hanseatic Pølser Party on the pool deck. Danish-style hot dogs (pølser) were waiting for us, plus a nice selection of drinks (from vodka and sparkling wine to nice hot mulled wine). They even had a crew member in a polar bear costume.
The party came to a sudden end, when the bridge announced a “Polar Bear Alert”. At first I thought it was a joke and simply referring to the crew member dressed up as a polar bear … but when the announcement continued saying portside ahead, it was clear we were dealing with the real thing.
Everyone was on deck now, all with their full photo equipment. At first we were quiet far away, however the captain managed to maneuver the ship closer, so that we really had them just some meters away from the ship. We watched them, they watched us – though they were clearly less impressed of us than us of them.
Today we had a very short night, with a shore landing already scheduled for 6:00 in the morning. My zodiac group was the first to go; a small breakfast selection had already been available, so at least we did not … Continue reading →
We were on a Southern heading now, the expedition however was not over here. In the later afternoon the ship turned towards a side fjord – the Mokka Fjord – … a great opportunity for a further shore landing. Zodiacs … Continue reading →
We now wanted to get further North; from the ice charts, that had been presented the day before, we knew, there was a massive 168 km² ice floe waiting for us just a few miles up North in the Eureka Sound. So … it was not too far to go – however there was still the magic line of 80°N, which we still had to cross – and did just a bit after our turning back into the Eureka Sound.
The trip North did not last too long, at 80° 5’N we hit the ice floe; our captain already had decreased the ship’s speed and was now slowly getting as close as possible. We stayed here for a while – celebrating our position in awe – before turning around and heading South again.
We could have used a gap between the ice floe and Ellesmere Island to pass by and get further North – however had we done so, we would still be up there, with no way back until one of the next summers – so a no-brainer to turn around.
When I got outside this morning, we were just leaving the Eureka Sound and turning into the Slidre Fjord with just a few kilometers to go to our first stop of the day – Eureka.
Just a few hundred meters South of the 80°N line, Eureka is the world’s northernmost civil weather station. The station also serves for scientific and military research. It is connected to the world through its own airstrip and a yearly supply ship (at least in those years, when ice conditions allow for that).
Our arrival did coincide with this year’s supply ship, which had – accompanied by an ice breaker – made its arrival just a bit earlier with everyone busy to unload.
We stayed on Hanseatic for breakfast, while the expedition leads got ashore to talk with the station manager. Unfortunately (understandably though) we were not allowed ashore for a visit and tour of the station – the team was just to busy to unload the supplies. There were however enough volunteers available at the station to come to the ship and set up a small souvenir shop.
We nevertheless ended up getting ashore – – just a bit further into the fjord. From the landing point we enjoyed a short walk up a hill to – surprise, surprise – find ourselves not too far away from a musk ox. We also had some good views of the station. A view of the inside had to wait for another few days, until our expedition leader shared some of the photos, that he had taken during his visit.