april 26 - 2. mai 2021
Covid-19 - Flexibility and infection control
You only pay the trip deposit (NOK 6000) at time of booking, and in these times we are extra flexible. Read more about our booking flexibility here.
We are also being extra careful and taking precautions to avoid infection onboard, see our infection control plan here.
New as of 1.1.2021:
For increased safety, we request that all participants are tested before joining our trips, and to take precautions against infection in the time before departure.
Welcome on board for a very special experience! We invite you to an exclusive trip from mainland Norway to Svalbard - by sailboat! On this trip you will have the opportunity to arrive at Svalbard in a way that few have done before you. With the sailboat as a means of transportation, we get close to the natural forces over the Barents Sea, and we get close to nature and wildlife the last days along the coast up to Longyearbyen. We will get winds in the sails, saltwater in our hair and experience lots along the way!
The crossing of the Barents Sea is an experience not many people get to experience, which is also true about the bright polar nights. On this trip we cover a distance of about 600 nautical miles. As we leave the mainland, we’ll only have the ocean in front of us until we arrive Bear Island (Bjørnøya), which is about halfway. When reaching the southernmost tip of Svalbard we’ll be greeted by the typical Svalbard nature with its iconic mountains, deep fjords and glaciers. We sail into the fjord of Hornsund, where glaciers meet and crash into the sea, and it’s a spectacular sight. If time allows we also visit the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, before arriving in Longyearbyen.
It's not just any sailboat we use on this trip, but our 70-feet expedition boat Valiente. She is a very steady and comfortable boat built in steel, made for sailing in arctic waters. The boat is well equipped and has a large outdoor area, a wheelhouse and a 360-degree-view lounge. For pictures and more info about Valiente see link here.
Our two skippers will include everyone onboard in the sailing along the way. From start we will divide everyone onboard into watchteams, and as long as there are more than a total of 9 persons onboard, you as a participant will have 4 hours on duty and 8 hours off. When we get to Bear Island (Bjørnøya) and into the fjord of Hornsund we will adapt the shifts as good as possible so we can be flexible and go explore land.
Whether you want new sailing experiences, or learn more about sailing and crossing of oceans with a big boat, this is an ideal arena for learning and new insight. The sailing comes in addition to the experiences along the way, which makes this a great nature experience.
This trip will take place in late april, and during this time of year we can get quite a lot of weather and strong winds out in the Barents Sea. Our expedition vessel Valiente however, is an incredibly sturdy boat that handles most conditions. We have tested her thoroughly during the 2018 season with the Expedition to Greenland, hence we trust her one hundred percent also for a trip this early in the season.
Want to see a short refreshing movie from last year's crossing of the Barents Sea to Svalbard with Valiente, you will find it on a link here.
The Arctic is a vulnerable area under pressure from people and climate change. In SeilNorge we are committed to taking care of the environment as much as possible and we believe that small boats with few people and little pollution and waste are much less harmful to the environment, climate and local wildlife, than larger boats and cruise ships. We also try to gather garbage at the places we visit, instead of leaving something behind. On Svalbard we follow AECO's guidelines for encounters with wildlife, beach cleaning, cultural heritage sites and for arctic operators. More about AECO's guidelines can be read here.
To be a part of, and experience multiple nights out on open sea was the biggest experience for me. Combining that with ascending mountainpeaks, and the trip to Bear-island was very unique, and something i never would’ve experienced without SailNorway. There were plenty of smaller, beautiful moments underway - especially when we sat down to cook, tell a good story or crack open a bottle of Akevitt!
Departure from Tromsø (day 1)
We meet on board the boat at 16.00. Here you’ll meet the other participants, work on getting to know our home for the coming days and fill up the boat with the necessary supplies and equipment for the voyage. Life onboard the boat requires cooperation, and before leaving we’ll hold a briefing on safety and how the boat works. Then we cast off our mooring lines and set sail on our way north. Before getting into the open sea we will practice man-overboard exercise, tack and jybe, in addition to other maneuvers. At this time of year the nights are still bright, and if conditions are good, we go straight out into open waters heading for Bear Island.
On the Barents Sea, towards Bjørnøya (days 2 - 3)
It takes approximately two days from the time we leave the mainland until we see land on Bear Island, depending on the wind and sea. The distance is about 220 nautical miles, and there is a large stretch of open sea, but with abundant wildlife below sea-surface. We can expect to see whales, and the birds are with us all the time. In the evening on the third day we will begin to hear music from the bird colonies on the southern tip of Bear Island. There are annually around 300 days of fog, so the island is not easy to spot, neither for those who come by sea or flying over, so it will be exciting as we approach. If conditions permit, we go ashore, and we will try to catch Barents cod on our secret fishing spot on the north side of the island.
From Bear Island to South Cape (days 4 and 5)
This stretch is slightly shorter than the stretch from the mainland to Bear Island. We’ll pass the South Cape, continue up the coast and then sail into the deep fjord at Hornsund, a wonderful place with high mountains and glaciers that calve into the sea. In Hornsund we go ashore and stretch our legs, and maybe we aim for a small hike to one of the nearby peaks. Most probably we'll find enough driftwood to make a bonfire on the beach?!
From Hornsund to Longyearbyen (days 6 - 8)
From Hornsund we continue north along the coast. We pass by Bellsund where the Svea mines are located in the end of Van Mijenfjorden. We reach the entrance of the Ice Fjord, where we find most of the settlements on Svalbard, among them Longyearbyen and the Russian settlement of Barentsburg being the largest. If time allows, we stop in Barentsburg; a very interesting small community with its own atmosphere. The last day we sail in to Longyearbyen, clean and wash the boat, then check out of the boat at 15.00. We encourage everyone to stick around at least until the next day, with accommodation on land, so we can meet for a farewell dinner on land in Longyearbyen this last night (which on this tour is a Friday!).
If you haven't had the opportunity to experience Longyearbyen in advance of the trip, then we recommend staying an extra day or two before traveling home. It's always smart to add time for some rest and calmness before and after such a trip, to let the impressions sink in and see what's happening.
Travel - in general
Sometimes we have to fly, but not always. If you have the luxury of time, we always encourage to travel as environmentally friendly as possible. Traveling slowly also gives another start to a holiday. Cycling, taking the train or driving a car together are good alternatives! Feel free to add some extra time before and after, since up in the north weather that can sometimes change your plans…
Getting to or from Tromsø, the fastest option is flying if you are going to the eastern part of Norway, but if you have time to travel slowly we recommend that. Taking Hurtigruten south from Tromsø to Bodø and train from there is one option.
Very few row to Longyearbyen, a few more sail, but most fly. Norwegian and SAS fly to Longyearbyen, check out www.norwegian.no or www.sas.no.
Safety and risk - in general
We take safety seriously and on our trips we train on handling different situations that can occur at sea. On board the boat and trips, everyone must know what to do in potentially dangerous situations. For us it is important that you as a guest and participant is trained quickly enough to be a participating crew, not a passenger. It contributes to learning, sense of achievement and increased safety for all. This is also why our trips are considered to be sailing courses, you are trained to be one of the crew members on board.
Mountain hikes and alpine/backcountry trips involves a certain risk, as does sailing. However, we as an operator, and our skippers and guides, do everything we can to minimize the risk in a professional manner. Everyone gains on this and we have no one to lose.
In terms of risk, we sail a safe and sturdy steel boat that is well equipped for this type of trip. However, all sailing in general, and sailing in arctic regions, involves a certain risk that you must be willing to take.
Feel free to contact us for a chat and guidance about risk.
Level of this trip
Sailing wise, our trips are not difficult, and you are always welcome to join us! We have with us both people who have never sailed before and experienced sailors. However, you must be prepared for everything from no wind to sailing in harsh weather. If you are a beginner, we will try to make you a seaman/woman as soon as possible. If you are experienced you will be given responsibility and greater challenges.
In Northern Norway and the Arctics we must be prepared for all seasons, often during a single day. It’s a part of the experience; it’s wild, beautiful and raw – in all aspects, also with regards to weather. Prepare for the contrasts! For us the most important thing is to enjoy the ride and the sailing. Use what you have, borrow if you can, and invest in something new if you must. In good time before departure we will send you a detailed recommended packing list for this trip.
Food and cooking
On our trips everyone contributes to the operation of the boat, so as long as you have not booked one of our trips with a designated chef, all take their turns in the galley during the trip. Skippers and guides assist as much as they can along the way. In advance of the trip, we set up a menu and shop what is needed. We try to offer good menus with healthy and “boat friendly” food. If you have allergies or preferences let us know in the registration form, and we will take that into account. During the trip, we also often sail by a good restaurant or two where we stop and eat. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
What we expect from you
We want you to take part in the routines onboard the sailboat, whether it is sailing, docking, navigating, looking for whales and icebergs, washing up, cooking, clean the boat or contribute in other ways when required. Our trips require a little effort from all participants - and you should be open to contribute and open up a bit socially. We have many different people with us on our trips, and most people go very well together. Our experience is that doing things with others out in nature, and not least do things with new people with different personalities than one might be used to, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable stories :)
Life on board and accommodation
Life on board a sailboat is social and pleasant, but for some it can be perceived as quite intimate and crowded, which is important to be prepared for. On our trips everyone participates in the operation of the sailboat and everyone is considered crew. We would like to get to know you well and hope that you will get to know everyone else on the sailboat as soon as possible. It requires some patience, generosity and an open mind to thrive, but the new acquaintances and completely raw nature experiences are quickly what will take your focus as soon as you become comfortable with life at sea.
Accommodation on the boat is part of the fun. The accommodation is generally in shared cabins, some of which have a double bed and some have a bunk bed solution. The distribution is quite a puzzle, but we do believe we are quite good at it. Let us know if you have any special needs or reservations.Any accommodation before and after the trip must be arranged on its own. If you have any doubts about where to stay, we are happy to give you some recommendations.
On the boat we have a lot of heat and a lot of good food, but not always abundance of fresh water.
What kind of people join this trip - and how many are we on board?
Many come alone, some travel as couples, some travel as a group of friends. The common denominator for everyone is that these are fun and committed people you become friends with almost no matter what. Sharing grand experiences creates strong ties! Many people wonder about the age composition of our trips, but that is not so important to us. It doesn't matter if you are young or old as long as you want to go on a trip and intend to do your part so that you and the rest of the crew will have a good trip together. The number of participants varies from trip to trip. If we get many participants, we will expand with more boats and skippers. On most trips we sail more boats in a fleet, with 7-9 people onboard each boat.
ECO, Environment and sustainability
Both sailing and hiking/alpine/backcountry trips are environmentally friendly activities and we sail as much as we can and use the engine as little as possible. We encourage crew and participants to travel as environmentally-friendly as possible, and we use local ingredients and resources as far as possible. We also have our own trips where we collect litter and clean ocean trash from beaches.
Philosophically we often say that sailing is an exercise in sustainability; we move with the wind and we have limitations on things like water, diesel, electricity and food. In order to run sustainable - knowledge, patience, agility and hard work are required. The same applies to almost everything you try to do in a sustainable way.
Changes to the program
The program should be seen as a starting point that we adapt to weather and conditions. We also reserve the right to constantly improve our itineraries. On board with us we always have a dinghy for beach landings and small expeditions, we have fishing gear for the cod, and gear to hike or make a bonfires on the beach - we are ready for adventure! Are you?