Two marvellous lifts
Arrival back in Longyearbyen after nearly a month in the far north felt like something of a homecoming. Things had changed somewhat during the period we had been away; the water pipes to the pontoon had thawed, a new pontoon had been installed but much of the coming and going of cruise ships and daily tourist boat trips into the Isfjord was reassuringly familiar. We had good reason to be on time. On Tuesday, our respective better halves, Fiona and Ilana, were due to fly in to spend a week with us onboard Atlantis. Before their arrival we had rapid work to do - not least resolving our propellor shaft problem once and for all. Neither Fiona nor Ilana would have wished to spend their short stay in Svalbard in a boatyard but the unsettling knocking of the bronze fitting rotating freely around the shaft had reached the point where it could be put off or ignored no longer.
We considered a number of options: another dive had no greater chance of success than those we had made in Ny Alesund; grounding the stern on a carefully selected sloping beach and waiting for the tide to go out had some merits but needed exactly the right slope of beach, perfect weather and meticulous tidal calculations with a high risk of mishaps exacerbating our problems further. We opted for the somewhat costlier but more certain plan of using Longyearbyen's only mobile crane. Any fears we might have had that Atlantis' 22 tons would be too much for it were allayed by its massive 200 ton lift limit. At 6:30pm on Monday, soon after the last cruise ship of the day had departed, this leviathon appeared onto the main wharf and began setting up next to Atlantis lying alongside the quay.
With a little trial and error, slings were positioned under Atlantis' bow and stern and the lift began. It very rapidly became apparent that a full lift onto the quay was unnecessary as the shaft and errant fitting lifted clear of the water. Andy deployed into the dinghy with the toolbox and set to work below Atlantis hanging in the slings, with Rupert standing by on the deck above. Inspection of the problem out of the water gave much greater clarity than that possible previously through a murky facemask and with limited lungfuls of air. The internal fitting of the stern gland had displaced around the shaft and the loose fitting was therefore unable to align with it to be secured.
It was subsequently the work of minutes to drop a line under the shaft and back onto deck and Rupert used the sheet winches gently to lift it back into place. Thereafter the job was simplicity itself. The loose fitting slotted neatly into its housing, was screwed tightly into position and the job was done. The yacht was lowered back into the water, slings detached, engined trialled and the crane packed up. By 9pm we were back on our mooring; fixed - albeit with decks now almost totally black from the boots of the crane crew and the dirty, sooty dust so prevalent here in Longyearbyen.
We devoted Tuesday morning to cleaning the boat inside and out and by 2pm were promptly 'present and correct' at Longyearbyen Airport to meet the girls from their plane. By 2:15 we were back at the boat having lunch and enjoying their company for the first time in over a month and a half. Atlantis may have been lifted only a few metres. Our spirits were lifted immeasurably. Our plans now are to spend the week exploring the 50 miles or so length and 30 mile breadth of the Isfjord with its multiple glaciers, subsidiary fjords and other fascinating points of interest before the ladies fly home and we begin the long passage south to UK.
Happy Ilana made it safe, only news from her was about the cold...
A warm hug to you all from hot and sticky Tel Aviv/