The September 13th departure from the Coal pier in Longyearbyen was sealed with a powerful performance by 14 men from the “Store Norske Mannskor”- sharing songs and folklore from Svalbard’s rich history. All 100 guests were onboard soaking in the moments before we threw the lines for this, what has since been dubbed – the trip of a lifetime!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
– Mark Twain
The 6-hour sail to VanKeulen Fjord and Bamsebu teed up operations for an early start the next morning to offload volumes of items needed for the Hearts in the Ice overwintering.
While Sunniva, Hilde and a robust shore team offloaded gear, provisions and equipment, including 2 BRP scooters, dozens of guests joined Expedition Leader Yann, his team and Hiti’s new family member Ettra for a hike to Kapp Fleur de Lys and surrounding area.
The preparation and logistics for the 9-month stay at this remote hut are not for the faint of heart. The epic offloading of the scooters was a sight to be seen and hard to believe possible. The seas were rough and the surf pounding the shores. While the BRP scooter was being towed by a rib boat in a 14.5 feet red boat the most steadfast Captain Tormod Karlsen proclaimed “You might have your Hearts in the Ice, I have my heart in my throat!” The split second the scooter (fastened to a pallet) came into shore the team of 12 man-woman hauled all 350 kilos one step at a time up to Bamsebu. Never doubt that a small group of committed people can perform a miracle! Miracle it was!
The day was full of practical logistics; offloading and securing backup fuel, unpacking provisions inside the hut, securing backup provisions in polar bear proof barrels outside, filling a 1000-litre water tank and stacking clothing and citizen science gear.
Back onboard everyone was treated to a most personable, powerful, soul-inspiring concert by Joss Stone with bassist Celine Dos Santos and guitarist Steve Down. Was this really happening? Tears welled up from so many as we could not contain the enormity of the projects undertaking and the fact that every single person onboard was a climate caregiver! The trip brought us all together in song, art, science, friendship, love, community and a commitment to all do our part in this pressing climate conversation.
Close family, dear friends, science partners from NP, UNIS, Scripps, NASA, BCIT, Sponsors including BRP, Global Accent, Ellen Kvam, Polar Latitudes, Hurtigruten, Power Controls, Framgangere, Strategy Together and Centric GC all played a valuable role.
The Media/Press onboard included The Big Story- US documentary film team, Scandinavian Traveler-Inflight magazine, Canadian Geographic-RCGS, Firbeint Film, Nanouk, Travouge, Sven Olaf Sundgaard- Borton Overseas, Fabelaktiv, Love Exploring and Team Joss Stone.
Hearts in the Ice’s commitment and dedication to create a global platform and dialogue around climate change issues have a stronger base and foundation and is only growing.
Words escape us as we try to capture all of the details of our time onboard the ship before everyone bid us farewell as the rib drove us to the shore of Bamsebu at 16:00 hrs on Sept 16th.
We walked to the end of the spit with our 2 year old Malamut “Ettra” and watched rather verklempt as the M/S Nordstjernen with Captain Tormod at the helm (the kindest Captain you could hope for) took a sail past us and then turned to head out into the open sea. We waved and waved and waved to each and every one of our dear people onboard. We could see that everyone was on deck- very emotional!
Plenty of chores ahead
We are now one week into our stay here at Bamsebu. The days have been busy with unpacking, reorganizing and finding space for our personal and collective items. We have taken a few boat trips to surrounding beaches to collect logs and been busy cutting, chopping and stacking our heat source for the winter. We still do not have enough wood to see us through the cold, dark winter months ahead so more work awaits us. Water is also an issue and we will keep collecting fresh water wherever we find it.
We have tested our communications equipment from Met-Ocean/Mission Link and have had great success with connectivity. We lost all power from the device for about 48 hours when the battery died and would not charge- likely because we left it out in the cold. Everything here has its own temperament and adaptability – problem solving skills require patience and persistence.
Our Iridium Satellite phone has been a necessary link to help us sort out when the cargo ship will be in the area to deliver goods, how to flush the salt water out of one of our engines and how to release and demount the engine after transport and the locked tiller arm on our Evinrude. We managed to solve both of these issues and we must say- it feels so good to just “do it”!
Ettra could not be a more loving, gentle companion. She listens and runs off-leash and you can bet that a whole world of smell and adventure has opened up for her.
We have been collecting insects for Borge Damsgaards project through UNIS and collected our first salt water and phytoplankton samples for Alison Cusick at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. We have a lot of work to do here and we take it all seriously, we also play and have gone running, danced to Motown music, had our red wine and eaten potato chips while watching Pretty Woman and Indiana Jones.
With only few weeks left before we lose the daylight we ask- What will I see when I cannot see, shutting out the earth light to give way to the starlight and the moonlight?
Our monthly school talks start this week. We hope, with all hope, that every single one of you realize the power of One. One voice. One action. One thoughtful decision. We only have one Mother Earth.
With Our Hearts in the Ice – we embrace the planet!
A special thank you to everyone that joined us on our send-off voyage. Every single person made this so special.
Some special mentions : Steinar, Magne, Vera, Bente, Hege, Lea, Anne Mette, Tim, Flin, Carina, Kit, Ragnar, Kjell, Dag, Marti, Yann, Tormod and the fantastic Nordstjernen team, Jarle, Joss, Bettina, Ellen, Maria, Pascale, Maia, Marit, Kim, Allison, Borge, Eric, Liz, Johan and Brit.
Until next time!