perjantai 9. elokuuta 2013

maanantai 5. elokuuta 2013

July 31st 2013

Cape Zelaniya
76° 56,928' N, 68° 34,299' E

This day restored my faith in the future of Russian Arctic and in the
Novaya Zemlya National Park in particular. Today in Cape Zelaniya, we
visited an old polar base founded back in the 1930's and closed down in
the 1990's just as the rest of the polar stations. But the difference here
was that, unlike the bases we had visited in Franz Joseph Land, this was
exactly what I had imagined and hoped a so-called polar station to be,
people actively cleaning the surroundings, scientists of different fields
studying the environment, and the team working and living together almost
like a family.

We came to Cape Zelaniya to collect our paper charts which were never
delivered to Franz Joseph Land. But, surprise, surprise, the charts were
not here either. After a few satellite phone calls we found out that the
ship, Ivan Petrov, from Archangel which was supposed to bring them had
been to the polar station about two weeks ago but had not left our charts
here because their orders were to hand them over to us. And since we had
not been here at the time of their short visit, they had taken the charts
with them. Where our charts are now, no one seems to know. I'm sure you
can image what we think about all this!

Despite our disappointment because of the undelivered charts, we spent a
wonderful day exploring the station and its surroundings and in the
evening, after the crews had been to the sauna/banja, we were entertained
by its staff. The atmosphere was so warm and inviting that it almost made
me forget the depressing state of the polar stations we had seen in Franz
Joseph Land. Irina, Tamara, Ivan, Michael, Igor, Igor and last but not
least, Alex, our guide and interpreter – Spasiba!

Tomorrow, we'll weigh anchor and continue south towards Dikson and finally
to the Northern Sea Route aka the North East Passage. Leaving Novaya
Zemlya behind marks the end of both our Russian Arctic Sightseeing Tour
and this blog.

July 30th 2013

Finding Fuel
76° 13,535' N, 62° 41,588' E

On the 27th, when Lady Dana had arrived, we joined forces and went to look
for fuel in our home bay, but without luck. The next day, our intention
was to walk over the hill to the next bay which is also part of the
deserted polar station but because of the polar bear alert, we decided to
motor there instead. This would be our last chance to find fuel which is
more precious than gold in the Arctic.

We checked every barrel and tank on the beach but in vain, they were all
either empty, filled with dirty oil or full of water. Next, we climbed up
the hill where there used to be a radar station, and there behind some
storage buildings were six huge tanks partly buried in gravel, all empty
except for the last one that had at least fifty tons of fuel, clean and
pure as gold!

Both vessels motored there the following morning and anchored in the bay
at the back of the station which was closest to the fuel tank. And then
the work began. The tank was at least one hundred metres above sea level
on top of a steep slope. The slope was covered with loose gravel which
made climbing up extremely difficult but there was also a big patch of
snow which proved to be the best place to both climb up and to quickly
slide down, especially when a polar bear was seen on the site.

The equipment used for collecting fuel included about a hundred metres of
hose, also a hundred metres of rope, and 32 jerry cans. The fuel was
transferred from the tank through the hose into the jerry cans which where
then tied to one end of the rope and slid down onto the beach. There were
three men working at the edge of the slope filling the jerry cans, one man
was standing on the slope to shift the cans from the gravel onto the snow,
and two men on the beach to receive the cans and take them to the boats by

It was hard work but well worth our while. At the end of the day, Lady
Dana had filled their tanks with about 800 litres and Sarema with 1000
litres of fuel - every drop free of charge!