juni 18 - 30. juni 2024
Right between Norway and Greenland you will find a tiny dot on the map. It is one of the most inaccessible islands in the entire North Atlantic: Jan-Mayen. This is the expedition for the most adventurous, which sets out to the westernmost outpost we have in Norway. Not only is this trip a unique and unusual sailing adventure, but we will also try to climb to the top of the mountain Beerenberg; Norway's only active and the northernmost volcano in the world!
This is a three-part expedition, where we will first cross the Barents Sea and the Greenland Sea from Svalbard to Jan-Mayen. Then we spend around a week ashore to see if we can reach the top of Beerenberg, before the trip goes back again to Longyearbyen over the sea!
During the voyage from Longyearbyen to Jan Mayen, we will really get a feeling of the open sea. It is impossible to know what kind of weather we will get, but we are sailing at a favorable time of year for this part of the Arctic, so we are hoping for good winds and calm sea, and as much time as possible on Jan Mayen. These will be adventurous days at sea where we will get to know each other well. Everyone on board is a participant and we all take shifts on watchkeeping, and if we’re lucky you might even spot some whales as you keep a steady course looking out for Jan Mayen in the distance. At this time of year we have full midnight sun and large parts of the day and night will be bright, which is always a good starting point for an adventure trip like this.
Upon arrival on Jan Mayen, we set up a camp as a starting point for exploration and discoveries on land, and for the ascent of Beerenberg which is our top priority - we will undertake this hike as soon as we have a suitable weather window! Jan Mayen is known for having over 300 days per year, since it is located in the middle of the sea. With almost a week on land, we will hopefully get the right conditions for the trip and our attempt at reaching the summit!
There are strict conservation restrictions in the Jan-Mayen Nature Reserve, which means, among other things, that we are only allowed to go ashore and set up camp in areas outside the nature reserve. That means our summit ascent must start from the beach where we have basecamp. The hike starts with an approach to the foot of the mountain, and is followed by Norway's longest uphill stretch, at over 2200 meters. As we climb, we eventually hit the glacier, which at first is a gentle snow slope, but towards the top becomes steeper. For the last hundred meters of height towards the top, we will tie into ropes. In clear weather, the view from the 2277 meter high peak is incredible!
The return to the base camp consists of as many kilometers as the trip to the top, and we will spend a minimum of two days together on the entire ascent, if we get all the way up. The trip to the top is not very technically demanding, but parts of the ascent go over glaciers where we use ropes, crampons and ice axes. The biggest challenge, however, is the length of the trip. We expect to spend at least 30 hours on the trip up and down, and maybe closer to two days. Due to the special protection regulations on the island, we do not have the opportunity to pitch a tent along the way.
As a tour organizer we take care of the logistics, and we provide all the common equipment needed for this kind of trip, both camping gear and glacier-crossing gear. You will still need to bring your own sleeping mat and sleeping bag, as well as other standard gear. When we arrive in Jan-Mayen, the first task is to get all the food, equipment and people ashore. We work as a team to establish camp, cook, and perform other practical tasks along the way. The boat will hopefully be available near the beach, so it may be possible to transport people and goods over when needed. The weather still determines whether it is justifiable to go back and forth between the boat and land, but we must plan under the assumption that this will not be possible.
This is an expedition where several factors must play together for success: the weather is the biggest factor of uncertainty for both the summit hike and the voyage to Jan Mayen, but the group and each person's physical condition also play a part. In addition, technical aspects regarding the boat equipment need to work out. We will do our utmost to make sure that everything falls into place, but of course we cannot guarantee that we will reach the top.
Jan Mayen is no man's land. If someone gets injured, it’s not possible to just be picked up by helicopter, even if the Norwegian station there has some resources. Given where we are and the forces of nature in the Arctic, we take every precaution and prepare for a tough hike up and down the mountain.
From SailNorway we will be 2-3 skippers and crew, all good sailors, of which at least two of us will have solid experience from similar expeditions. In addition, we have a guide and expedition leader who is responsible for the trip on land.
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.
This expedition is, like our other longer trips, primarily a great voyage of discovery, but also an excellent opportunity to learn a lot about sailing and navigation, and not least using a boat as a starting point for discoveries and experiences on land. Are you ready for the late summer’s expedition to Jan Mayen?
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.
The best way to summarize my trip is to thank Sail Norway for a thoroughly WELL executed arrangement… Sail Norway, you deserve my highest recommendation - you should have such a trip every year!
Petter Bjørstad, participant 2019
Day 1: Trip start in Longyearbyen
We meet at 12.00 on the quay in Longyearbyen. We start by getting to know each other a little, before we go through the plan for the week. We get to know the boat and equipment and finish the work of storing all the provisions and equipment onboard. Life on a boat requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures on board. We leave the quay and move across Icefjord on this first evening.
Day 2 - 5: From Longyearbyen to Jan Mayen
This will be quite an ocean crossing from Svalbard to Jan Mayen. After getting out into the open seas we head straight for Jan Mayen. If we have good conditions we arrive in less than four days, but if the weather is against us it can take up to a day extra. The actual crossing is around 570 nautical miles, but how long we spend depends on the wind direction and sea conditions.
Day 6: Landfall at the volcanic island, Jan-Mayen
Some years there are over 300 days of fog on Jan-Mayen, due to the island's vulnerable and lonely location in the middle of the sea. So it is possible that we will not spot the towering volcanic island until we are very close to it. As soon as we arrive in Jan-Mayen, we make a plan for disembarkation. This in itself can be challenging with constant swells from the ocean. Due to the conservation status of large parts of the island, there are only a few spots where we can anchor. Kvalrossbukta is one of the better harbors for this purpose, but if we have strong westerly winds we go to Båtvika. We choose the quietest side of the island, and spend the hours it takes to get all goods, equipment, and people ashore. The first stage is done!
Day 7: "Basecamp Beerenberg"
We set up camp together on the beach and get to know the island, and make a detail plan for the next few days. The weather is crucial in terms of all planning and we are prepared for all conditions. If we have a weather window on arrival, we set off towards the top immediately, but we may also end up waiting at camp for a few days. We distribute equipment between us, go through the route and techniques for glacier crossing, and get ready for the trip.
Day 8 - 9: Norway's only active volcano
On Jan Mayen there are restrictions in relation to where it is allowed to establish a campsite, and we can only camp along the bays we anchor in. From here, the approach to the mountain is around 12-15 km, which will be the first stage of the trip to the top. Here we follow the military's footsteps through the very special volcanic landscape where the feeling of being in one of the world's most desolate wilderness almost becomes overwhelming! When the approach is completed, we start on Norway's longest uphill trek. Up the glacier, we will eventually have to use our crampons, ice axes, and ropes, and tie ourselves into the ropes for safety on the last couple of hundred meters to the top. The goal is for everyone in the group to reach the top of Beerenberg. We have a number of days at our disposal and are optimistic. The hike out is as long as the hike in, and we will probably have some very long days to reach the summit.
Dag 10: Backup day for Beerenberg
We will plan for an extra couple of days ashore on Jan Mayen to get a suitable weather window for our summit attempt. If we complete this feat early, we get an extra day or two of exploring the unique volcanic landscape on the island.
Day 11 - 15: We sail to Iceland
At this stage of the expedition we have learned to know each other well, and the boat will be a welcome home. We already know the routines and rhythm onboard, and will have a pleasant sail further south towards Iceland and Isafjordur. Whether it is in high seas and strong winds, or on a flat Greenland Sea. Once we make landfall in Isafjordur we celebrate a successful expedition with a good dinner on land. Thanks for the trip!
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 trip starts and ends on Svalbard. A few row to Svalbard, a few more sail, but most fly. Norwegian and SAS fly to Longyearbyen.
To and from Iceland there are many different routes. One option is the daily ferry route from Denmark via Faroe Islands. There are also several daily departures and arrivals by plane from the Nordics, Europe and America.
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 both a sailing expedition where we will undertake multi-day sea crossings, in addition to an expedition to reach the summit of Beerenberg. The part where we climb this volcano demands some prior experience with this type of long and tiring mountain climbs and a good physical shape. The most challenging part of this trip is the length of the climb and the necessary endurace, but we also recommend that you have some prior experience with similar trips on glaciers and glacier crossings in rope-team.
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!
On this expedition we provide shared equipment both for the basecamp and shared glacier equipment. This means tents, stoves and cooking equipment for the basecamp, and ropes, slings, prutzics, protection- and rescue equipment for the glacier. Everybody has to provide standard mountain equipment themselves including sleeping bag/-mat, in addition to personal glacier equipment; crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness.
Else is it as with all activities, 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.
Conditions when it comes to the climb of Beerenberg: Occasionally we might not get the chance to reach the top of Beerenberg because of factors like injuries/weather/other. We have a high focus on safety while we are underway. Participation is at your own risk. No reimbursement will apply if we cannot reach the summit as a result of unforeseen events, such as injuries/weather or other conditions. However, we have almost a full week available at this volcanic island and we will play around in the area rich in nature and opportunities for alternative activities.