August 15th - Sail north to 81 degrees

We woke in the morning as the boat headed more or less due north and away from Svalbard to meet the pack ice. We passed the last of the most northerly islands of Svalbard shrouded in cloud and surrounded by ice at around 7.30am.

We went on to the bow to watch the ship making its way through the ever increasing floes of ice.

At times the boat had to break through quite large sheets of ice. Cracks appeared in the ice as the ship's bow cut through the floes and we had a great view looking down from the bow on to the ice below.

It was wonderful cruising, even though it was very cold as we remained on deck for several hours.

It was very exciting as we approached our furthest point north of 81 degrees, 4minutes and 12 seconds, 470 miles from the North Pole! The ship turned round to head back to Svalbard and we went down to our cabin to warm up. Wendy took this photo of our TV that had a display of the ship's position, confirming that we were north of 81 degrees.

We then went to a lecture on Polar Bears by Robin Aiello which was interesting and entertaining. It was intended that we would land on Lagoya Island to see a walrus haul-out, but the weather worsened and, as we approached the land, visibility became very poor and the sea quite rough. The captain decided to abandon the landing and we left Lagoya Island.

Another lecture was put on, this time by Sue Flood on the BBC series, Planet Earth, with which she and her husband were involved. It was a very good lecture and neither of us fell asleep!! The weather was still bad and as the lecture ended, the ship lurched and our cups and saucers slid off the table!

After the lecture there was a briefing at which Robin West announced that, because the weather forecast for the eastern end of Svalbard was not good, we would not be able to go round Svalbard; instead, we would head for more sheltered waters in the Hinlopen Strait.

It was hoped that we would have a couple of landings during the next day, but in the reverse order to the original planned route around Svalbard. In the evening we had dinner with Toni and Steve, lawyers from Brooklyn and Hazel and Sue from England.

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