“The 12th of June in the morning, wee saw a white beare, which wee rowed after with our boate, thinking to cast a rope about her necke; but when wee were neare her, shee was so great that wee durst not doe it.” Willem Barents’ journal entry from his 1596 voyage.
|Bjornøya revealed through the mist (Photo © Joe Decker).|
We had many miles to cover through the night and all of the morning before reaching the southernmost part of Svalbard, the island of Bjornoya. As usual, sea time meant lecture time! Both lecture halls were kept busy from 09:30 until noon.
At approximately 11:00 we had our first glimpses of the rugged beauty of Bjornoya.
We were again experiencing heavy sea fog. The craggy coastline was revealed a little at a time through gaps in the mist. It looked bleak, inaccessible and relatively barren. Perfect for another Arctic adventure!
|Fram at anchor at Bjornøya (Photo © Joe Decker).|
We had experienced a very favourable current throughout the night. Our arrival here was a full two hours earlier than expected. We cruised down to the south end of the island where we found a very sheltered and scenic bay within which to drop anchor. At 13:30 the Expedition Team headed to shore to prepare the landing site. Even on this isolated island there was a chance of encountering Polar Bears. While the risk of running into a bear here in the summer time was far less than further north in Svalbard it was better to be safe than sorry.
It took about ten minutes in the Polar Cirkel boats to reach a beautiful and very sheltered gravel beach. Just up from the landing site were some historical artifacts left behind by whalers.
|Bjornøya (Photo © Joe Decker).|
There were still Fulmars at nest sites along the cliffs but most of the sea birds had already headed out to sea. They were fun to watch as they skimmed down low just above the cliff tops.
We had a really large area we were free to explore. For those that wanted a little more exercise there was a long uphill climb to an excellent view point.
Despite the constant, cold rain that was falling, everyone had a big smile on their face. There were still a few wildflowers in bloom and a surprising number of mushrooms.
|Coastline of Bjornøya (Photo © Andrew Wenzel).|
At the end of an hour and a half we were getting pretty soggy. We returned to the cozy confines of Fram where we could enjoy warm up in the sauna, the jacuzzi or perhaps with a hot toddy in the Observation Lounge.