An American woman along with four men – two Norwegians, a German and a Russian, bonded by mutual desire, set off on a icy sail to see places in a manner that few people dare to do.
They started on their journey last June from Norway aboard a 37ft-long fibreglass-hulled sailboat, bound for one of Europe’s last true wildernesses.
The destination of their 112-day expedition was the Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic, a glacier-covered wilderness home to more polar bears than people.
They spent the first three weeks of their journey cruising north along the Norwegian coast, sharing a space the size of a college dorm room.
Each crewmember was responsible for sailing the boat and navigating for two hours while the others slept or relaxed.
For the next six weeks, they became each other’s shadows on the archipelago. Going for a walk was no longer a way to get some alone time, as only the Norwegians were authorized to handle the rifles that are mandatory to carry in Svalbard for protection from polar bears.
- Keeping the boat bear-free was a team effort, as was everything we did in the Arctic.
- At 81 degrees north, they anchored to a floe to go scuba diving under the pack ice where polar bears hunt seals.
- Stopped at the walrus-filled beach at Kapp Lee, a headland on Svalbard’s eastern side.
The six-week journey ended and the team came back to civilisation.