A Journey To The Land Of Icebergs: The Adventures Of Ivan Kutasov

We continue our series about the adventures of the Russian explorer Ivan Kutasov, who every year spends a few months in the Northern latitudes of our planet. This is the second article in a four part mini-series about Ivan’s trip to the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

During the three days that we spent in Tromso, we repaired the yacht and shopped for food. It was mainly rice, potatoes, macaroni, beans, oatmeal, flour, tinned food, eggs, and some fresh vegetables and a couple of kilograms of meat for the first few days. In the evenings, certainly, we visited pubs; but even there, in anticipation of the upcoming passage, we discussed and pondered over the things which we still had to do. It was our last mooring on the Mainland.

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Photo by Ivan Kutasov

Tromso is a relatively small but very comfortable town, the population of which is approximately 72 thousand people. Since it is situated above the Arctic Circle, the nights were white and I could witness the hours-long epic sunset, which segued into the hours-long dawn.

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Photo by Ivan Kutasov 

The famous Polar Museum, which was situated some 200 meters away from our berth, was also of interest. There were a lot of amazing exhibits, stories about the courage of the people who have conquered the Arctic, as well as about those who didn’t make it back, went missing, or got lost…    

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

On July 17 everything was ready for our departure: the lower holds were packed with food, and the tanks were filled with diesel fuel and fresh water. At the morning meeting we unanimously agreed to treat ourselves to a dinner at a restaurant, because it was the last place where we could afford it. In the evening we left the town and embarked on a two-month long voyage to Svalbard.

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

The distance to the southernmost cape of the archipelago was about 530 miles, in other words, 3 days of sailing in the open sea. The same as in all of my previous sea expeditions, we had a shift plan, where it was specified who should be standing at the helm and bearing responsibility for the vessel and the crew.

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

The only difference was that the shift was rather short, only two hours, and we had an autopilot and could get along without the watch below. All three days went on a bit higgledy-piggledy because it was the first serious test for the whole crew and for each us.

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Photo by Ivan Kutasov 

Despite the fact that we had luck with the weather (with the direction as well as with the speed of the wind), the waves in the open sea were already increasing, so it was difficult to stay in the cabin unless you were sleeping. For that reason, almost all of us were on deck (except late at night), though two members of the crew began to feel seasick…We didn’t feel any hunger while the ship heaved in the waves, but we had to eat…because if you don’t eat, you will get sea sickness, but if you have something to eat, you probably won’t get it.        

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Photo by Ivan Kutasov                     

As our yacht drew farther north, the Arctic made itself felt as it turned noticeably colder, and I vividly remember the moment when at the end of the second day we saw the first small iceberg, 4 by 4 meters in size, which was swimming past our ship. From that moment we had to be even more focused while standing watch.    

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

On the third day of our journey, Svalbard appeared on the horizon with its typical landscapes, which are cliffs with pointed and snow-capped peaks. The name Svalbard or Spitzbergen is translated as “peaky mountain” for a reason. It immediately lifted our spirits, our faces were lit up with smiles, and we completely forgot about sea sickness. 

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

Now we had to find a comfortable cove, which had to be protected from the piercing northern wind, where we could bring the yacht to an anchor and explore the surrounding area.

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

Our first try wasn’t entirely successful, and after some ten minutes when we had brought the vessel to an anchor, relaxed and began to enjoy a long-awaited supper, our yacht began to drift towards the cliffs. As they say, you can’t let your guard down in the Arctic. After studying the map, we decided to sail a little bit more towards the north to another cove, which turned out to be more suitable for mooring, as it was protected from the wind by cliffs on all sides.              

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Photo by Ivan Kutasov 

After examining the coastal zone for bears, while keeping our weapons ready just in case, we went ashore. Such was our first acquaintance with the Archipelago. We studied the southern part of the island, which astounded us with its beauty and pristine nature, for about a week, and then decided to sail to the capital – Longyearbyen.    

Join Ivan Kutasov on social networks: FBVK and Instagram.

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 Photo by Ivan Kutasov

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