August 7th, 2004 - Imram, Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen - English Text

The evening before last, we entered Isfjord, the biggest of the west coast fjords, in thick mist, using the radar to avoid the occasional blocks of ice. With almost no wind, we motored up nearly to the head of the fjord, crossing a curiously striking demarcation between the clear, 6 degree sea water and the cloudy, 1 degree fjord water. After dropping anchor in a small cove and seeing the vague shape of a suspected Arctic fox disappearing into the damp cold gloom, we settled down to a hearty fondue.

Yesterday morning at 5 am - rude awakening to the sound of ice crashing against Imram's aluminium hull. Time to leave our anchorage. In the space of a few minutes, the wind had risen from nothing to force 7, thus dissipating the fog. The fjord crossing was rough but we arrived late afternoon in Longyearbyen, the capital of Spitzbergen. In the freezing misty conditions it didn't look that delighful a town, especially as the port area is surrounded by industrial installations, particularly connected with coal mining. However, this morning bright sunshine greeted the arrival of the new team members -
Lucy, Anja and Isabelle (and the departure of Angelo, Christine and Jean-Luc).

Our biological clocks are totally upset here. When it's cloudy there is no perceptible difference in light intensity between "day" and "night" this far north (78 degrees). Thus, a few days ago we found ourselves eating lunch at 1 pm local time!

We have discovered that Longyearbyen has a particularly aggressive inhabitant - the Arctic Tern. These birds, which hold the world record for long-distance flight (from the Arctic to the Antarctic each year), had decided that the portside territory 100 metres from Imram was theirs. So, every trip to town was likely to lead to a tern attack, and one particularly bold bird even drew blood from Philip's unprotected head.

Tomorrow we shall head out of Isfjord and start making our way up the west coast of Spitzbergen.

Chart n°8


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The Imram Voyage 2004 - Integral 12.50 - ACAPELA, juillet 2004


(c) pg/tho 06/04