april 24 - 2. mai 2023
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 transport, we get close to the natural forces over the Barents Sea, and we get close to nature and wildlife for 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!
On this trip we cover a distance of about 600 nautical miles. The crossing of the Barents Sea is a wonderful experience, and we’ll sail through the bright polar night on our way to the goal; Svalbard. As we leave the mainland, we’ll only have the ocean in front of us until we arrive at Bjørnøya (translated: Bear Island), 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 one of the fjords of South-West Spitsbergen; Hornsund or Bellsund, where glaciers meet and crash into the sea. A spectacular sight. If time allows we also visit the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, before we arrive 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 skipper and co-skipper onboard will include everyone in the sailing along the way. From start we will divide into watchteams, and as long as we are more than a total of 8-9 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 Svalbard we will adapt the shifts to the best 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/early May, and during this time of year we can get quite some weather and strong winds out in the Barents Sea. Our expedition vessel Valiente however, is an incredibly sturdy boat that handles all these conditions. The question will rather be if all of you as our fellow sailors can tackle the weather? :)
Want to see a short refreshing movie from the crossing of the Barents Sea to Svalbard with Valiente in 2018? 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!
Day 1: Departure from Tromsø
We meet on board the boat in the harbour in Tromsø center at 14:00. Here you’ll meet the other participants, work on getting to know our home for the coming days and we’ll fill up the boat with the necessary supplies and equipment for the voyage. Life aboard the boat requires cooperation, and before leaving we’ll hold a briefing on safety and how the boat works. Then we set sail, passing the Lyngen Peninsula on our way north. 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.
Day 2-4: Past fishing boats and oil rigs to Bjørnøya
The first part of the Barents Sea is actually quite trafficked, and we’ll usually pass at least a couple of fishing vessels here. It takes approximately two days from the time we leave the mainland until we see land on Bjørnøya, of course 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 hope to see whales, maybe have dolphins follow the boat 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 Bjørnøya.
Day 5: Bjørnøya: the misty island in the middle of the sea
There are around 300 days of fog a year here in the middle of the Barents Sea, so the island is not easy to spot. Neither for those who come by sea or flying over, so it will be an interesting view as we approach. If conditions permit, we go ashore, and we will try to catch Barents cod on our secret fishing spots around the island. We will almost anyways find a more or less sheltered bay for anchoring up on one of the sides of the island, depending on the current wind. So we can at least have a rest at anchor
Day 6-7: Second leg; from Bjørnøya to Sørkapp
This next leg is slightly shorter than the leg from the mainland to Bjørnøya, and now we are getting to the remote parts of the ocean! We'll pass by South Cape around 24 hours after we leave Bjørnøya. We continue up the southwest coast of Spitsbergen towards Bellsund. Where both Van Mijenfjorden and Van Keulenfjorden are cutting in through the raw landscape. Here we find the very characteristic layered Svalbard-mountains divided by glaciers that calf into the fjord! Sometime during the night we’ll find a sheltered and ice-free harbour where we anchor up for a well-deserved rest.
Day 8: Finally on land in Svalbard!
In Bellsund we plan to go ashore and stretch our legs, and we surely find enough driftwood for a bonfire at the beach for breakfast! Maybe we also aim for a small hike to one of the nearby peaks. Further the sail into Isfjorden pas by Isfjord Radio at Kapp Linnè. The old radio station that once was the only communication the Svalbard society had with the outside world, which today is a nice hotel. If time permits, we stop in the Russian settlement Barentsburg, located quite close to the entrance of Isfjorden. A special experience in itself and a time travel back to the Soviet era.
Day 9: Goodbye in Longyearbyen
Very early this morning we cast away from Barentsburg for the last stretch through Isfjorden. We reach Longyearbyen just after breakfast where we pack our stuff and clean ourself out of the boat before the trip ends at 10.00 latest. If you have time we recommend a night or two extra in Longyearbyen to explore this cosy village in the middle of the raw arctic nature! Goodbye for now and thanks for a wonderfull experience!
We recommend everyone that is joining us on a trip to/from Longyearbyen to staying an extra day or two before traveling home/before the trip starts. Longyearbyen is a thriving little Arctic village, with the raw arctic natre It's always smart to add time for some rest and calmness before and after such a trip, to relax and let the impressions sink in.
The program should be seen as a rough itinerary that we can adapt to the weather and conditions. We also reserve the right to change and improve our itineraries. We will have a dinghy for beach trips and small expeditions, fishing gear for cod, and gear to hike or make bonfires on the beach on all our trips - we are ready for adventure! Are you?
Deposit and payment
You pay a 6000NOK deposit when you book the trip, and the rest of the payment is due 60 days before the trip begins.
Travel - in general
Sometimes we have to fly, but not always. If you have the luxury of time, we always encourage you to travel as environmentally friendly as possible. Traveling slowly also allows you to start your holiday in a special way. Cycling, taking the train, or driving a car together can be good options! Feel free to add some extra time before and after your trip, since up north the weather can be unpredictable and might affect your plans!
The fastest option for getting to or from Tromsø is to fly. But if you have time to travel slowly we recommend doing that instead. 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.
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 a boat and on trips, everyone must know what to do in potentially dangerous situations. For us it is important that you as a guest and participant are trained quickly enough to be a participant - not a passenger. It contributes to learning, a sense of achievement, and increased safety for all. It's also why our trips are considered to be sailing courses: you are trained to be one of the crewmembers on board. Feel free to contact us to discuss risk.
Safety and risk - expeditions
On our expedition trips, we often spend multiple days on sea-crossings, and we sail into areas far from people and with extra risk factors, such as sea ice and unreliable navigations charts. This requires our crew to have extra focus and awareness of the potential situations that might arise. We sail in these areas only in the most optimal seasons, and use only our largest and most sturdy boats, which are both equipped and dimensioned to cope with this type of expedition sailing. We are fully aware that sailing is the safest and most accessible way to visit these very inaccessible places. However, sailing in general, and especially sailing in the Arctic and over the high seas, involves a certain risk that you must be willing to take. Feel free to contact us for a chat and guidance regarding risk.
Level of this trip
This is a sailing expedition where we will undertake multi-day sea crossings, which can be an incredibly wonderful and special experience! You do not need to have sailed before to be on board, and we are joined by both people who have never sailed before and experienced sailors. If you are a beginner, we want to make you a seaman / woman as soon as possible, and if you are experienced, you will quickly get more responsibility and greater challenges. The group and crew will be divided into watch teams so that we can learn from each other and help each other out.
The boats we sail on our expeditions are large, robust, and sail well in the open seas.. However, we do not control the weather, and we must be prepared for wind and potential heavy seas that we might encounter offshore. From light breezes to sailing in hard weather with several meters of swell, and the proximity to the forces of nature on such an expedition is something most people find very unique and rewarding!
As with all activities, there is plenty of specialized equipment and clothing for sailing. We do not expect you to buy lots of new equipment to join any of our trips, so, use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, try to purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment - buy quality items that will last. What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered clothing underneath. Some jackets may not be waterproof enough, or might not perform well in saltwater, so you might want to consider purchasing or renting a set of “oilskins” from us to use on the wettest days. A pair of higher rubber boots for landings from the dinghy is very nice to have, in addition to slippers to wear below deck. Out on the high seas and in the Arctic, it is cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. We will send you a detailed recommended packing list in good time before departure.
Food and cooking
On our trips you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all aspects of the running of the sailboat. This includes the cooking, where everyone is taking turns in the galley! Skippers and guides assist as much as they can along the way. Before the trip we set up a menu and purchase what is needed. We offer good menus with healthy “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 often sail by a good restaurant or two where we stop and eat.
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, cleaning the boat, or contributing in other ways when required. You will be split into a watch team, with the teams working in rotations of 4 hours on and 8 hours off, with a rotating system to make sure that the night-shifts are divided equally among all watch teams. Our trips require a little work from the participants - and you must be open to contribute and open up a bit socially. We have many different people with us on our trips, and most people get along very well. Our experience is that doing things with others out in nature, and not least doing 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 one should 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 boat as soon as possible. It requires some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but the new acquaintances and completely raw nature experiences 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 of which have bunk beds. Figuring out who sleeps where can be a bit of a puzzle, but we do believe we’ve gotten quite good at it. Let us know if you have any special needs or reservations.
We have plenty of heating and good food on the boat, but not always abundance of fresh water. This means it will not be possible to shower every day, but more or less every other day we are either in a harbor with fresh water or we sail through a place where we can borrow showers or enjoy a sauna. A morning swim in the sea is free and is available all year round!
What kind of people join this trip - and how many are we on board?
Many come alone, some travel as couples, and others travel as a group of friends. The common denominator for everyone is that these are fun and interesting people you will become friends with almost no matter what. Sharing grand experiences creates strong ties! Many people wonder about the age composition of our trips, but this isn’t 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 in making this a great trip for everyone. Most of our participants are usually between 25-55 years old. The number of participants varies from trip to trip, but on these trips we are usually between 6 and 11 people.
Environment and sustainability
In general sailing is an environmentally friendly activity,, 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 much as we can. We also run 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 sustainably, knowledge, patience, flexibility, and hard work are required. The same can be said about many other things that one tries to do in a sustainable way.