We left Ny Alesund in glorious conditions but little wind for the 24 hour passage south to Longyearbyen. With a useable engine albeit dicky prop shaft, we were in a better position than a French yacht; the interestingly named 'Blue Benda' (neither of us has yet plucked up courage to ask the origins of her seemingly somewhat inappropriate soubriquet - does 'double entendre' translate?).
During the previously reported early morning Ny Alesund shenanigans to make room for Saga Sapphire's tenders, the Blue Benda's starter motor and engine wiring loom had protested with something of a gallic melt-down - literally. Sans moteur, owners Philipe and Beatrice and crew Gilles now faced a long trip south in the predominantly windless conditions. We agreed to remain on hand to assist if required through the early part of the trip. After an initial period ghosting along under sail, it was not long before we had them in tow through the most navigationally challenging sections of the Karl Forlandsund - a shoal patch navigable only by maintainance of a precise transit.
After four hours, back in deep water and with a rising breeze, we released the tow-line. Job done. Under sail once again, Atlantis made good progress towards the Isfjord where the weather closed in. By the time only thirty miles remained for us to reach Longyearbyen, Blue Benda had fallen over 10 miles astern. It was obvious from her AIS track that she had lost any wind that we had retained and was drifting helplessly without either wind or engine; carried by tide back in the direction of Ny Alesund. After only the briefest of moral debates we turned back to find them; rewarding ourselves for 'doing the right thing' with an extra shot of whiskey. Two hours later, in thick, miserable 'gloop' and no wind, they were certainly pleased to see us. We took them in tow once again.
Slowed by the additional burden, and anxious not to over-stretch our already vulnerable prop-shaft it took a long eight hour slog to return, once again, to Longyearbyen.