Ny Alesund II
Safely back in Ny Alesund, with the prospect of another day of strong southerly winds in store thoughts turned to maintenance and repair. Principal of our concerns was the loud and obviously out of place knocking coming from the propellor shaft. We knew the problem; we were just not looking forward to the fix. As previously identified in Magdalene Fjord, a bronze fitting that helps support the shaft had become detached from its housing and was now rattling round on the shaft. The only way to address the problem was in the water.
Our luck was in. Amongst the specialist staff of the national scientific institutions represented in Ny Alesund are a professional dive team working on behalf of the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. We are enormously grateful to Divemaster Max, Diver Kai and the other members of the dive and scientific team for twice ending an already busy day recovering samples with an additional dive on Atlantis' propellor shaft. On Kai's second visit to the problem, Andy went over the side to lend a second pair of hands. Sadly, a quick fix in the water still eluded us all; despite their obvious and very considerable professional skills. Something was still out of alignment and the fitting stubbornly refused to return to its housing.
Any disappointment we might have felt in our inability to effect a repair was mitigated by an unexpected treat. Our stop coincided with a brief visit by the cruise ship 'Saga Sapphire'. An early morning reorganisation of the harbour's mooring arrangements was necessary to accommodate her tenders disgorging her predominantly British passengers to visit the settlement. In ensuing dockside conversations with Steven, the Saga Sapphire's Staff Captain, an invitation was therefore extended to visit the ship for lunch. Conscious that both of us were eligible, by age, for Saga Holiday's services we accepted 'with much pleasure'. A further bonus was an offer to whisk off our dirty washing and have it returned to its former glory by the ship's full service laundry. How could we refuse?
So the theme of our return to Ny Alesund was one of generosity on many counts. Our grateful thanks to the Officers and Crew of the Saga Sapphire and, particularly, to Max, Kai and the dive team of the Alfred Wegener Institute who could not have been more helpful or similarly disappointed when we had not been able to resolve the prop shaft problem. We remained confident, however, that if we used the engine sparingly and nursed it when we did, we were in good shape to continue our journey south back towards the Isfjord and Longyearbyen.