Starting our journey south

By |Published On: July 24, 2023|Categories: Europe, Svalbard|469 words|0 Comments|


Our plan for this morning had been to hang out with the bear for a bit longer and then to head south. It seemed kind of odd to sail away from a happily locatable polar bear, it’s not as if this happens every day. It was somewhat disappointing then when we took the dinghy around to the walrus carcass to find no bear. Hmm. We spent 20 minutes carefully scouring the gullies and slopes above the walrus and those behind us on the peninsular. No bear. We took a trundle around the skerries and the island in the centre of the bay. Still no bear. We waited for it to emerge from behind a boulder. Still no bear. So we went back to Yuma for an espresso.

Not a bear, but a fat and happy Common seal. Also nice to see.


Then a bear. Coffee does it again. I’m not sure where it had been hiding but suspect that it was up on the bluff that separates the main Virgohamna bay from this inside bay where the dead walrus was lying.

Wherever it had been sleeping of its walrus feasting, our bear now emerged for its daily swim. Again, this was no quick dip but rather a multi-hour wallow that involved a close and detailed inspection of the boats at anchor, followed by swim a mile or more offshore with lots of duck diving and rolling around in a leisurely fashion. Life is good when you’ve got a belly full of dead walrus for the third or fourth day running.

Arctic tern swooping our polar bear during its daily swim.


After a couple of hours, our bear had had enough of the water and unhurriedly swam back into shore. On the way it stopped by Yuma to check us out before swimming to the shoreline to play (and eat? Not sure…) with some kelp. It then climbed ashore and up onto the bluff where it disappeared from view.

Playing with (and eating?) kelp.



One last look at our polar bear. What a treat it’s been!



We took this as our cue to leave. With only the slightest breeze we again played motor boat past the jagged peaks, winding glaciers and bleak stony shores of Smeerenburgfjord.

Views of Smeerenburgfjord towards Smeerenburg glacier.

At the southern end of the fjord the Smeerenburg glacier rose up through wispy clouds to the pointy mountaintops that prompted Willem Barentsz to give the island its name, Spitsbergen.

Spitse bergen alright!



More spitse bergen.

As we passed through the channel between Dansksøya and Spitsbergen we encountered SY Wildmaa. This was a Swiss boat that we had met in Blokken in northern Norway a month or so earlier. They had given us a hand getting moored up in between the fishing boats. They called us up on the VHF and we had a very pleasant chat as we passed. Then we continued on to Magdalenefjorden, our destination for the day.

Polar skies.

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A fjord named after a saint