From Jan Mayen we headed north and spent another two days at sea before pulling into Bergerbukta at the southern tip of Svalbard. We took a Zodiac cruise and saw a seal lounging on the ice. The next four days were spent traveling the coast and fjords of the island.
We spent some time enjoying the view of the Fourteenth of July glacier.
We hiked over deep snow in Ny London to an old deserted mining town. They thought they had found a fabulous deposit of beautiful marble and set up shop with about 70 people. When their first shipment arrived in the UK they opened boxes only to find rubble. Because of the climate there were tiny cracks in the marble and so it had disintegrated during transport.
We passed by an old blubber gathering and whaling station. We stopped at an old unsuccessful site where they were looking for gold deposits.
There were sightings of walrus, seals, Orkas, beluga whales, reindeer, lots of glaciers and tons of birds, but no polar bears.
At one point we were headed to the northern edge of Svalbard and came across some beautiful blue ice. On the fourth day we reached 80 degrees North. We were closer to the North Pole than to the Arctic Circle. Six hundred nautical miles to the North Pole and 807 nautical miles to the Arctic Circle.
The weather was cloudy, snowy, foggy, and a bit mysterious until the last day when the sun finally came out.
Arrived at Fair Isle in the morning. A lot of rocking and rolling on the boat overnight. Big swells. Up at 6:45, breakfast at 7 am and then to the zodiacs at 8:15. When it was my turn to board the zodiac there was a huge swell and I ended up to my knees in water. The attempt was aborted and I had to go back and wait for the next boat. I managed to get to land but had to wait for a dry pair of boots.
Since I had such a traumatic experience and had a late start waiting for dry boots, everybody was taking care of me and I ended up in a car that took me to the museum. For most people it was an hour walk. So I had a bit different experience but it was very interesting nonetheless. The woman driving was originally from the Netherlands but lived in England for many years and moved to Fair Isle about 16 years ago.
The museum was in a one room stone building and run by a Fair Isle native who said her family moved to the island in the 1600’s. Since there is no wood on the island much of the furniture was made from or was actually recycled from shipwrecks. There have been a lot of shipwrecks over the past 200 years.
The island has about 70 inhabitants and is known for its knitted woolen sweaters and hats. Sheep were everywhere. It also has a large puffin colony. From the museum we went to the town hall where knitters and artists had displayed their items for sale.