A very quick update as comms are tenuous - we'll also try to upload a pic or two but if it fails please bear with us or if formatting is a little ragged.
After a 24 hour stop-over in the globe's most northerly settlement, Ny Alesund (pop 30 in winter 150 in summer), we have fixed the heater which is a very major fillip to morale! As tends to be the case in these remote expedition locales, a 'fraternity' spirit prevails and support is readily forthcoming; our heater fix owes much to the skipper and crew of the Dutch schooner Noorderlicht (who provided copper pipe for an exhaust), the Polish Chief Engineer of the expedition support vessel 'Expedition' (who braised the connections) and the staff of the Kings Bay Company in Ny Alesund whose workshop is equipped for most eventualities. Our gearbox leak continues, but we are making progress with that too. All in all a most rewarding interlude. We have also checked in with the extremely helpful and friendly police representatives of the Svalbard Governor based in the settlement, who keep check on passing vessels, ensure they have the necessary permits and provide assistance and advice in equal measure. Their main role is to protect environmental standards and the very many historical sites in the area. Sadly, our visit coincided with a fatality on a small cruise ship which is a salutory reminder of the dangers all in the area face in these harsh climes.
From Ny Alesund we enjoyed the most spectacular glacier viewing thus far at the head of the Kongsfjord. Threading our way to the glacier face through floating ice into uncharted water where the glacier has receded, we were rewarded with a most extraordinary landscape of ice in all its majesty. Last night was spent in a delightful anchorage at Ny London - a testament to the failed endeavour of much of what we have witnessed - in this case a British marble mining enterprise c1920s.
From here we shall head north again into Krossfjorden with more spectaculr glaciers before returning to Ny Alesund for a quick fuel and water stop and then heading back to sea and north to the north-west tip of Spitsbergen. The latest ice charts suggest that is where we shall meet our hard stop as ice currently blocks any further progress across the northern shores for a circumnavigation. But there is so much yet to explore this is in no way a disappointment. The situation evolves on a daily basis so we shall see what happens over the next few days.
The 120' barque 'Antigua' gives some idea of scale.
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