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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Virgohamna

Yes, we're still moving north!

We have experienced very gentle weather - no real surprise with calms being typical of the high arctic in July.

From Ny London, we moved on to Magdalenafjord for a night. On arrival, we were blessed with the sight of another collection of walrus frolicking about in the water. Our very secure anchorage was off a 17th century cemetery where over 100 British whalers rest in peace not far from three beautiful glaciers. Scurvy - the terror of sailors until the 18th century did them in!

We now find ourselves at Virgohamna, an anchorage with indifferent shelter but a fascinating history. This is the furthest north accessible and relatively sheltered harbor. In the 17th century it hosted Dutch whalers [in the summer anyway - scurvy defeated those who wished to winter over]. At the close of the 19th century and early 20th century, Andree and Wellman based the earliest aerial attempts on the North Pole here. The shore is scattered with iron filings, acid jars [to make hydrogen] along with collapsed dirigible hangars. None of the attempts were successful and lives were lost trying, but for a short time this remote spot was on the front pages of the world's newspapers.

Nonetheless, life goes on here. In the absence of ice pans, a large collection of seals lounge on small rocks, ever alert to the need to swim quickly away from any approaching bear.

Even our shore excursion had to be alert to the same possibility. Linda was first ashore with her rifle to stand guard while we hauled the dingy up the beach. Along with cameras, we had flare pistols and air horns. Shore excursions are not made if any bears are sighted but, in case one appears, it is important to have lots of non-lethal means of discouraging a bear. The rifle is only a last resort with bear killings being investigated as thoroughly as murders in other jurisdictions.

Alas, we have seen seals, reindeer, walrus and whales but the white bears, though reputed to be nearby, still elude us.


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At 7/4/2012 18:55 (utc) our position was 79°43.40'N 010°54.82'E

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