Andy & Mia

ICE BEAR // Swan 59 Q&A With Isbjorn Crewmember Dan

18 Aug

Swan 59 Deck Layout.png

Note: Dan is Isbjorn’s oldest and most loyal crew. He was aboard for our first-ever passage to Lunenburg in 2015, and has sailed with us many times since. He was one of the first to hear the news about the new boat, and had a lot of questions for us! I’ve published our answers here:

  1. How will you break it to Mia ;)

    Very funny!

  2. You just refit Isbjorn. Why the new boat? What are your plans for Isbjorn?  

    You know me, always up for a challenge! The main reason is from the success of this summer and

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Mission in the Hills & 80º NORTH // Delos in the Arctic Part 11

19 Jul

Andy Helm Ice Magdafjord_2500px.jpg

We got ashore around 7 pm and tied up the dinghy to a giant whalebone on the stony beach, keeping her offshore with a stern anchor and starting up the steep slope to the hill just west ofIsbjorn’s anchorage. Large polar bear tracks led west in the snow across the little saddle towards the archipelago on the other side. We made the ridge in a few minutes and walked further south for a view over the alpine lake, which feeds a little waterfall that plunges down towards the anchorage. The lake, on July 1, was frozen solid and covered in ...

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Holmiabukta Revisited & Arctic Swimming // Delos in the Arctic Part 10

16 Jul

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We’re back in Holmiabukta, my favorite anchorage in Spitsbergen so far, in the island’s NW Corner as it’s known in the local parlance. Mia is trying to figure out the labeling on the water tanks – we all showered yesterday and didn’t run the watermaker in the silty water, so all but one of the tanks (plus the bladder tank) is empty. The labels got screwed up when we re-did the plumbing, so it’s a matter of trial and error now finding the full tank.

We left Texas Bar at midnight on Saturday morning, knowing there’d be a westerly wind ...

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Texas Bar // Delos in the Arctic Part 9

12 Jul


(Cont. from part 8) Four hours later, we moved the boat out of Hornbaekpollen and into the beautiful half-moon bay at Texas Bar. Turns out, the place is just a hut, and a tiny one at that, with a huge TEXAS BAR written on the front of it in wooden driftwood, nailed to the walls. An old ship’s hatch sits out front with a couple of makeshift driftwood benches. The hut blends right into the grey scenery – it’s a very basic four-walled structured covered in tar paper to keep it watertight and with a stainless steel chimney sticking out ...

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Holmiabukta, Andy’s Favorite Anchorage // Delos in the Arctic Part 8

10 Jul

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0200. James just went on watch to relieve Brady. We’re ten miles out of Texas Bar, on the way back towards Longyearbyen after exploring as far north and east as we’ll get on this little adventure. The west wind is being kind to us so far – Isbjorn is sailing 7 knots on a close reach, getting lifted out of the fjord. Which means we’ll be headed offshore, but the forecast is saying 10-12 knots, so that’s okay. Much more than that though and it’ll be uncomfortable.

Texas Bar was a bit of a Shangri La for the Isbjorn & ...

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Thar She Blows! Belugas to Starboard // Delos in the Arctic Part 7

9 Jul

  Beluga's! There were several dozen all around the boat. James got this from the drone.

Beluga’s! There were several dozen all around the boat. James got this from the drone.

“Man we’ve seen EVERYTHING today! Walrus, polar bears, the Virgohamna site. All we need now is a whale.”

Not 30 seconds after Brady said that in the cockpit as he drove Isbjorn north along the coast and towards our current anchorage at Holmiabukta, we spotted a spout off to starboard. Then another. And another. 

“I thought it was ice on the water at first,” Brady said. “Then I saw the spouts and saw it was swimming, and just shouted BELUGA!”

We’d sailed right into an ...

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POLAR BEARS Up Close on Danskøya // Delos in the Arctic Part 6

7 Jul

  The 3 Isbjorns! - The boat in the background, with mama bear and baby bear dining on old whale blubber. We were in the dinghy, shooting with long lenses.

The 3 Isbjorns! – The boat in the background, with mama bear and baby bear dining on old whale blubber. We were in the dinghy, shooting with long lenses.

Mia had been very excited to get to Virgohamna. “Just getting to Svalbard felt like something that would never actually happen,” she confided in me. “And now, getting here, this far north (at 79º 38’ north), to this place I’ve read so much about, and with so much connection to Sweden, it’s just surreal.”

Her, James and I hiked up the steep slope overlooking the site for a birds-eye view of ...

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To the North Pole in a Balloon!? Virgohamna // Delos in the Arctic, Part 5

6 Jul

  Ruins of petrol tanks from the Wellman expeditions.

Ruins of petrol tanks from the Wellman expeditions.

The harbor is named after the ship ‘Virgo,’ which anchored off the desolate stony beach in the late 1800’s with supplies for the Swedish explorer Andree’s planned ballon expedition to the North Pole. We dropped anchor surely closer to shore than ‘Virgo’ did back then, anchoring in about 30-feet of water a few hundred feet off the beach. The scenery here is different than the west coast – small, but tall, islands, littered with black volcanic scree on they’re steep slopes. It’s rugged terrain, mostly black, yet surprisingly green in places where ...

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Sysselmannen in Magdalenafjord // Delos in the Arctic, Part 4

5 Jul

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1230. Most of the Delos gang (plus James) are still sleeping, despite playing the whale fish song (twice). Mia’s pouring coffee, Karin just climbed out of bed and Alex is looking groggy at the saloon table. Brady & Brian are passed out on the settees and James & Kiril are ostensibly still in the forepeak bunks. I’ve got a bad back and have been up since 0945 because I can’t stand to lay down.

Isbjörn is anchored at Virgohamna in low clouds and patchy fog. The cockpit is dry for the moment, but the forecast looks damp. There is graffiti ...

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With Delos in the Arctic // Part 3: North Spitsbergen

3 Jul

  Ice men & Isbjorn. Photo from  James Austrums , who was IN the icy water!

Ice men & Isbjorn. Photo from James Austrums, who was IN the icy water!

Anchor Watch in Magdalenafjord

It was all but 50 miles from Ny Ålesund up the coast to the NW corner of Spitsbergen, and the gang was pretty slow-moving after the midsummer/birthday party in the village the night before. Nonetheless, we wanted to keep moving. After topping up on water and scrubbing the muddy footprints off the deck, we set out around 1700 and pointed the bow north again, taking turns on the watch in the calm, grey weather, on a motorboat ride up the coast....

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