July 24, 2013 – Kajser Franz Josef Fjord and Antarctic Fjord
Posted on July 28th, 2013
Ice conditions and weather were very favorable during the night and ‘Le Boréal’ came to anchor off Blomsterbukta opposite the magnificent cliffs of Teufelsschloss (Teufel Castle). Little imagination was needed to understand the reason for the name. The weather was ideal with a totally clear blue, sunny sky. Near the base of the ‘schloss/castle, two musk-ox could be seen grazing on a shingle spit.
Landings began shortly after breakfast in a small bay at the base of a valley. There was much to see and do as well as an opportunity to go for a walk. The landing was easy and people divided themselves into three walking groups: long, medium, and short. The walking was easy and dry up the valley past some small lakes and deeper into Ymer Island. Many of the plants were in flower, including the spectacular purple river beautyas as well as many species with which we had already become familiar. It was interesting, however, to note that even the small decrease in latitude from Svalbard to here resulted in a significant increase in botanical species. Perhaps the most interesting animals seen were two pure white Arctic hares.
The short walkers, or beachcombers, had a hut to visit. ‘Varghutten’ (The wolf hut) stood atop a small rise and was originally a trappers hut later taken over by the Sirius Patrol, who invigilate the entire coast from Scoresby Sund to Statjon Nord. It was a small two-berth hut with a stove, paraffin lamps, and supply of fuel. Near it was an inscription carved on a rock with the date 24 August 1948.
The afternoon began with a barbecue lunch then the voyage retraced Kajser Franz-Josef Fjord until it joined Antarctic Fjord (named after the ship which had worked in both polar regions). Scenery continued to be magnificent in ideal conditions. Later in the afternoon a most appropriate historical film was shown; Nanook of the North, which was introduced by Bob Headland.
More scenic views followed, indeed it was sometimes difficult to decide where to look as the sun sank lower in the clear sky and shadows constantly changed. For some of the time the water of the fjord was so placed that the snow-covered peaks were reflected almost perfectly. ‘Le Boréal’ made good speed southwards and occasionally the noise of her hull striking a floe was heard. A recap allowed Rick to describe the flora and fauna seen( especially by the walkers), Ralph to explain the scenic geology, Brent to pose a question about ravens and Mats to let us know what might happen this evening.