"The time has come, the walrus said...." and so it is for us and we very much hope to meet the walrus in the flesh within a few days. After a few days incommunicado whilst conducting the necessary arrival procedures now that we are here in Svalbard, we have permit (to journey further), rifle (mandatory to defend, in extremis, against polar bears), detailed charts (where they exist), fuel and the necessary provisions, forecasts, ice maps etc etc etc that we shall require as we venture further north.
Our plans now are to depart Longyearbyen tomorrow (Wednesday) and spend one or two nights within the Isfjord - the fifty+ mile long fjord which punctuates the western coastline of Spitzbergen; the largest island of the Svalbard group. After that, we shall head north along the western coast to see where we get to. Much will depend on weather, ice conditions and other factors. This is what we came for and we are looking forward to it.
It marks a different style to the expedition. Hitherto, we have been in 'passage-making mode'. Working watches 24 hours a day we have been trying to cover the ground from UK to here in a safe, speedy and generally seamanlike fashion. Now our forays are likely to be a series of long days inter-linking seldom visited fjords, bays, islands and anchorages. Our appetites have been whetted by a visit to the Svalbard museum to get a timely reminder of the history, wildlife, birds, flora and fauna we are likely to encounter. Relics of Airships, whaling, mining, abandoned endeavour and some extraordinary people will provide the framework of our stories; punctuated throughout, of course, by the constants of weather, ice, wildlife and more.
Comms may be difficult but we shall attempt to re-connect our satellite terminal to its orbitting hub once we are out of the fjord. It may not be possible as we are already outside the operating range. If so, we shall try to get updates back by 'other means'. If necessary, the tall tales, photos and anecdotes may have to wait until we are back online. We shall do our best but they'll be worth waiting for we are sure.
Before departure, we have now explored much of what Longyearbyen has to offer, will eat ashore this evening and plan to slip lines by midday tomorrow. Atlantis and crew are in good form and ready for the next phase of our trip.