juni 23 - 30. juni 2023
Welcome on board our 8-day voyage up the northwest coast of Spitsbergen; an area very rich in majestic fjords and mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and places that have a lot of history and culture to offer. The main focus of this trip, however, will be the fjords and glaciers, and by bringing with us a knowledgeable glaciologist onboard we can offer exciting and up-to-date knowledge of the glaciers in the past, present and future, and the effect of climate change on the ice.
Along the northwestern coast we will be far outside the areas normally available from Longyearbyen, and you will get to experience something new, so it doesn’t really matter if you have been to Svalbard many times before, or if this is your first time to the “land north of the northern wind”. Of the many fjords we sail through the most known are the Kongsfjord, Krossfjorden, Lilliehöökfjorden, Magdalenafjorden and Smeerenburgfjorden. Maybe we also get to the Liefdefjord on the north side. Of the countless glaciers, the Kongsbreen, Lillehöökbreen and Monacobreen are the largest.
For this particular trip, our ambition is to really dive into the theme of fjords and glaciers. We will do this on several levels. Naturally, we will sail around and go for hikes in the fjords, and walk on several different glaciers with crampons, ice axes and rope. But we will also learn about the formation of the fjords, the movements of the glaciers, the inner life of the ice, and not least the glaciers’s' challenges and future in a time of warming and changing climate. New knowledge about climate change becomes part of this. Few other places on earth is climate change as evident as in Svalbard. A warmer climate affects both the permafrost, glaciers and sea ice, and the whole ecosystem is under pressure.
In order to achieve the most exciting, up-to-date and professionally solid program we have on this expedition with us Ms. Miriam Jackson, who is a passionate communicator of knowledge and one of the few in Norway with a doctorate in glaciology. Miriam was one of the contributors to the latest IPCC report on “the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” and she is also the Operational- and Research Leader for the Svartisen Glacier Laboratory. So, this is a lady with a lot of up-to-date knowledge we get to have with us, and we are looking forward to having her onboard on this trip again.
On this trip there are great opportunities to see whales, seals, a bustling birdlife and maybe even polar bears. On Svalbard there's midnight sun until mid August, so it will be bright 24 hours a day. You will have a great encounter with the beautiful and uninhabited arctic landscape. Along the north west coast there is also good fishing that hopefully will make up some good meals along the way. With the sailboat as our mobile base, we get close to nature and wildlife in a careful way, and we are flexible in terms of weather conditions and where we anchor and go ashore.
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.
SailNorway will be providing skipper and first mate (co-skipper), and a dedicated Svalbard guide with extensive experience from Svalbard and who will also guide the glacier excursions. Us in the crew will work as guides and polar bear guards when we are ashore in the terrain. Along the way, sailing or on motor, we will include all participants in the sailing. We will generally sail at all times of the day, and everyone onboard will be running watches of 4 hours on and 8 hours off. When we are at anchor we always rotate the shifts with an awake anchor guard and the rest can sleep.
An expedition with us to Svalbard is primarily a major exploration, but also a great opportunity to learn about sailing and navigation, and not least the use of a boat as a starting point for explorations and experiences on ashore.
Are you ready for a summer polar adventure with participants from all over the world in Valiente?
See our short film about SeilNorge recorded on this specific tour here!
The Arctic is a vulnerable area under pressure from people and climate change. In SailNorway 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 considerably 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 any traces behind.
Having the lowest possible carbon footprint as possible is important to us. We sail as long as there’s wind, and we target to have a sustainable menu, procurement, and waste management. Although we have to use engine for moving forward when it is completely windless, our trips are among the most sustainable ways to experience Svalbard.
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.
Truly fantastic! I sailed a week on Svalbard, and it was one of the best adventures I've ever partaken in. A real wilderness full of animal life, history and dramatic nature. SailNorway have incredibly great people who are skilled and professional, I both learned and experienced a whole lot. Thank you so much for this adventure!
August Sandberg (31)
Day 1: We start the adventure!
We meet onboard the boat in the harbour of Longyearbyen at 14.00. We start with getting to know each other, before we go through the plan for the week. We get to know the boat and the equipment, and finish packing provisions and equipment. Life onboard requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures onboard, for sailing and emergency situations. In Longyearbyen there is midnight sun this time of year, and we will make the most out of the afternoon and evening and set sail with course towards Alkehornet, a mountain across the Isfjord. Throughout the night we continue our voyage on the inside of the island Prins Karls Forland, and through the narrow passage by Forlandsrevet.
Day 2: Krossfjorden and glaciers
During the second day we reach Krossfjorden and Lilliehöökfjorden. Here we will visit the 14th of July bay and Lilliehöökbreen with its eight kilometer long glacier front. This is an impressive sight! We have no reason for hasting in these surroundings, and we will take our time to digest the impressions. After an eventful day, we sail out the fjord again and continue north to Magdalenafjorden.
Day 3: The Magdalena-fjord and the north western islands
This beautiful fjord with icebergs in the water and high peaks around is named after the guardian angel of early Basque whalers; Maria Magdalena. Magdalenafjorden was an important base for whaling already from the 16th century. Many also died here, and at one place several hundred burial sites can be found. As we sail further north we reach more protected waters amongst the north-western Islands in the Smeerenburg-fjord. We will visit islands with history dating from the 17th century when whale hunters dominated this area. At the peak in the 1630s there were about 250 boats here hunting 750 whales per summer. Thus the whale population sank quickly and so did the number of whalers. Then 250 years later the island became relevant again, this time as a base for several polar expeditions in the 19th and 20th century. Virgohavna was among others, the base for Swedish Salomon August André’s balloon flight attempt to the North Pole in 1896-97.
Day 4 - 6: Fjord-sailing on the north side
The next few days we will sail into the fjords from the north side of Svalbard; Raudfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden. These fjords are home to a rich wildlife, and we can expect to see reindeer, seals and maybe polar bears. The glaciers in the area are fascinating; we pick up fresh ice at Monacobreen that we can put in our drinks at the world's northernmost bar; Texas Bar. The last night before we turn around we spend the night in Mushamna, which is a very special and well protected bay. Which also has a long history as a trappers station all up until today.
Day 6 - 7: Sailing south via Ny-Ålesund
In the morning we start the return south towards Longyearbyen. We pass the north-west islands and stop by Ny-Ålesund, the world’s northernmost community and a mecca for researchers from all over the world. Then we sail southwards on the inside of Prins Karls Forland to the mouth of Isfjorden, which leads us to the largest settlements on Svalbard, with Longyearbyen being the largest. As we approach Longyearbyen, we pass Isfjord Radio lying at the entrance of the Isfjord, an old radio station which today is an attractive place for accommodation. We hopefully have time to stop at the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; a special place with its own rhythm and atmosphere.
Day 8: Return to Longyearbyen and goodbye for now!
The last morning we sail the last stretch from Barentsburg and back to Longyearbyen, we clean and wash the boat, pack our stuff and check out at 14.00. We anyways 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. Thanks for a spectacular adventure!
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!
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 trip for people who want to experience the Arctic, and the spectacular landscapes and the unique wildlife Svalbard has to offer! In terms of sailing, this trip is not very difficult, but you must be prepared for both calm winds and sailing in harsher weather. 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.
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. 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.