Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They're off!

Now that Janet is out of reach, I'm going to fill in for a few days. I have some pics from Janet, and will provide some information regarding the project.

Janet called just as they went out of cellphone range, sounds like the team is doing fine. There were numerous reported cases of seasickness at the beginning, but all but a couple people were ok after a few hours.

Longyearbyen harbor webcam shotThe Noorderlicht sailed on to a protected fjord for the night. Weather looks good for this week - I've been monitoring the Norwegian weather service and the local webcams. Here's a cam photo from yesterday, showing the ship just before they sailed - into a snowstorm.

They plan to sail to the uninhabited northern reaches of Svalbard -- above the 80th parallel, about 600 miles (1000km) from the pole. (Point Barrow Alaska is 1,250 miles from the pole). There's one more outpost as they head north, so I'm hoping for another update from Janet at that time.

The Noorderlicht is a steel-hulled two-masted schooner, built in Germany in 1910 to be able to handle icy waters. About 150 ft (46m) long. The 15 participants and five crew stay in small 8'x4' (240 x 125) two-bunk cabins. There are four toilet/bathrooms. These guys are really going to get to know each other.

This is the last voyage north this year for the Noorderlicht - and this is the latest she's ever headed this far north. Most winters, she's iced-in near Longyearbyen where she acts as a hotel for sled dog expeditions.

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