Day 4, Arrival in Svalbard

1615Z 05JUL24, Day 4, arrival in Hornsund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard!

Current Position: 76 56N / 015 52E anchored in Gåshamna Bay, Hornsund
10.25 hour progress: 59nm at 5.8kts avg SOG

Passage Summary
475 nautical miles sailed
3 days 10.25hours (82.25 hours)
5.8 knots average speed over ground
5.7 hours of engine time
Casualties: none!

Day 4 started on the engine as we moved to the other side of the wind line and fought against a little adverse current. At 0700Z the engine was off and we were sailing in 18kts of breeze.

We were soon sailing with 2 reefs in the main but on an actual reach at 080 deg AWA! As the morning went on we were able to fall off a bit more and the winds piped up a touch gusting to 25kts or so. It was the nicest sailing of the passage.

Just before 4pm local we were turning towards Hornsund and the wind dropped. We turned on the engine and brought in the sails as we motored for the next couple of hours to our anchorage. The winds blew out of the fjord at 15+kts and there seemed to be an adverse current as well to slow our progress for the last few miles.

As we motored into our anchorage, a whale dove under the boat just to say hello before disappearing into the fjord. At 6:20 local we were anchor down in Gåshamna Bay, engine secured and congratulating each other for our arrival.

The last day was overcast but we did pass through a pod of whales - probably Sei whales - which added to the excitement of the day. We also saw more pods of dolphins that hung with us and played in our wake for a bit.

Ready to be settled, potatoes were already roasting when we entered the anchorage, and the rest of the fixings were ready to go. As soon as the anchor was down, the chimney went up for the heater and the boat quickly warmed. We enjoyed a steak and potato dinner and were all soon to sleep for the night. Since then we have been busy exploring and moving around. Thanks for following along and we will post more to Facebook and Instagram.

Day 3, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 04JUL24, Day 3, Norway to Svalbard. The bashing to windward in the gray continued. Down to about 55nm to go! We did see a sliver of blue sky yesterday evening.

Current Position: 76 02N / 014 33E
24 hour progress: 126nm, 5.3kts avg SOG, approximately 55nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

Day 3 was pretty uneventful. We have all settled into the passage. None of us are really fans of short passages - just as you hit your stride you arrive. Daxton was ready to be there halfway through day 3 and complaining accordingly.

We continued to sail as close to the wind as we could. The winds and seas calmed throughout the morning and we slowly shook out reefs. First the genoa, then 1 reef in the main. By the evening we had full sails and were sailing close hauled.

The weather forecasts showed we would have to cross another shift in winds. We waited for the winds to move to the north and then we tacked to the east just before midnight. We sailed close hauled in light winds sometimes even pointing directly towards Vestvika. The winds piped up to 15kts and we added a reef to the main. The winds bounced around between 10-15kts as we waited for them to shift back to the east.

As day 3 came to a close we had the engine on and were fighting a little current as we motor sailed, waiting for the winds to finish moving to the east.

We have seen pods of dolphins and a good number of birds. Excitement is high as we anticipate landfall.

Elephant is also doing well. They seem to be slightly ahead of us. Perhaps we will end up in an anchorage together later.

Day 2, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 03JUL24, Day 2, Norway to Svalbard. 24 hours of sunlight has been 24 hours of gray. It doesn't get dark but it certainly hasn't been sunny. Occasionally it rained a bit to add to the dreariness. The bashing to windward continues.

Current Position: 74 10N / 014 20E
24 hour progress: 147nm, 6.1kts avg SOG, approximately 165nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

In the late morning, the winds veered to come from the ENE and our course turned north as we stayed close hauled. We have been bashing along as close to the wind as we can - more when the waves are less and less when the waves are more. The winds picked up around mid-day and we added 2 reefs to the main. We also added and later removed a reef to the genoa as the winds fluctuated during the day.

Overnight the winds were about 20kts with gusts up to 25kts. The seas grew to about 2 meters. As the wind picked up in the late evening hours, a reef was added back to the genoa.

None of this is especially bad but it isn't very comfortable either. We would much prefer to be reaching then this constantly heeled over and pounding into the seas.

We expect it all to calm down throughout day 3 and will likely run out of wind or have to tack later today. Looking good for an arrival sometime on the 4th.

Once the winds moved around to the east we continued to point as high as we could while SAS3 pointed more directly to Longyearbyen. They fell off of our AIS coverage around mid-day between their higher speeds and the separation from our courses.

We continue to chat with Elephant on our Iridium. They are east of us and doing well. They reported that they had seen 6 orcas the previous day. Just as we were reading that Daxton came up to check on what he could eat and looked behind the boat and saw a large fin right behind us. It was a little disconcerting. We all rushed to look but the fin was soon in the surf, well behind us. Only Daxton and Megan really saw it well. We figure it was probably an orca checking out our Watt&Sea hydrogenerator. We know it makes noise under the water and have seen dolphins check it out before. This fin was bigger than a dolphin's and the only other whales that would likely interact with fins like that would be orcas or maybe pilot whales. Anyway, it was exciting to see some sea life other than birds!

Day 1, Norway to Svalbard

0600Z 02JUL24, Day 1, Norway to Svalbard. It was a great month and a half in Norway and now it is time to continue north to find some cold and ice.

Current Position: 71 51N / 015 57E
24 hour progress: 140nm, 5.8kts avg SOG, approximately 305nm to Vestvika, Svalbard.

We got underway at 0800 local from a lovely anchorage in Slettnes. We motored out of the bay and clear of the islands and were sailing by 0915.

Our friends on L'Éléphant, a Boréal 47.2, started a bit after us and were anchored a little south of us. This gave us a 10nm head start to them. There is also a Belgian Garcia 63 OC called SAS3 who left just after Elephant.

We started sailing north on a close reach with 15-18kts of wind, 1 reef in the main and full genoa. The winds off of Norway picked up a bit and we soon added a 2nd reef. The winds were up over 20kts for about 2 hours. Just after noon local the winds were back down around 15kts and we shook out a reef, back to 1 reef in the main, full genoa and sailing close to the wind.

By the afternoon the winds were around 10kts and we were sailing with full main and genoa. By early evening the wind moved more northerly and our course turned more west than we would have liked. The weather forecasts showed us either getting a wind hole or winds from the north. We appeared to have ended up on the west side of the wind hole. This meant that we could keep sailing but our course was sometimes 90 degrees off of rhumbline.

In the light winds we tightened in all the sails and stayed pointed as close to the wind as we could. The forecasts all say the wind should turn to the east and fill in so we hope to be making a more direct and northerly course in day 2.

We have kept SAS on our AIS for the whole 24 hours. They passed us around 2300Z and continue to sail 1-1.5kts faster than us. We are both pointing as high as we can and making the most of the headwinds.

We chatted with Elephant on our Iridium and they motored a little over night as they seem to have been more east and found the wind hole allowing them to move north close to rhumbline. They are slightly north of us as we all look for the winds to move easterly.

Yesterday started off sunny and the sea state has been gentle with the light winds. However, it became foggy and gray overnight. Now the fog has lifted but everything is still shades of gray. It's also getting colder outside and inside the boat.

We saw lots and lots of seabirds for the first 12-18 hours but they are now less common. All is well aboard and the boys each did an overnight watch. Everyone is excited about getting to Svalbard.