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  • Writer's pictureJim McNeill

Foundation I - Day Five

A Tantalising Polar Bear and a Texas Bar

We woke up to blue moody skies, sun and breath-taking landscapes with bearded seals poking their heads out of the water to wonder at what had arrived in Woodfjord. Sixten, the ships 1st Mate explained that if you whistled, they often come closer, so we tasked Sean, our resident saxophonist, to give it a go and lure them in further. It became apparent they were not jazz fans.

Then we pulled up the anchor and headed further into Liefdefjorden; our target was to go ashore and visit the famous Texas Bar.

It’s called a bar because it is stocked like one! A huge array of spirits awaits any visitor, all donated by passers by; a bit like a shrine to alcoholics.

Having parked the rib on the shore we walked up, past the hut and over the hill hoping to get onto the glacier, Hannabreen. After 30 minutes or so we came over a rise and realised that we would'nt make the glacier it was too far away, so we turned around and started to make our way back to the hut when Jamie Lafferty spotted a moving creamy white dot on the mountain, on the opposite side of the glacier to us. A polar bear? YES! A polar bear, Ian confirmed. Jamie had a long telephoto lens and could see the bear well, describing it as having blood around its mouth, presumably from eating birds.

Most people in the group had never seen a polar bear before, so much excitement was had, understandably, before we turned and made our way down to the Texas Bar.

Not wanting to interfere with local customs we broke open the slab of beer we brought with us and toasted the health of those that built this shack in such an incredibly remote area – Hilmar and Martin Petterson Nøis, Norwegian hunter/trappers in 1927. Nowadays it is owned by the Governor or Sysselman of Svalbard and used for scientific and travel purposes.

We upped anchor in worsening conditions and Icarus and I gave the CTD more duckings and to better effect than last time, as we had configured the settings properly. It worked a treat.

The plan was to sail out of the fiord and west around the top of Svalbard and then head south but Rasmus decided that due to the weather, we had better shelter for the evening and we ended up dropping anchor again in Bockfjorden, surrounded by a beautiful array of mountains and glaciers.

When I first started going to Svalbard they described the islands as being 64% glaciated. I note they now describe it as 55% glaciated.

By now, Ocean Warrior Crew member, Lucy Reynolds, had been appointed Expedition Entertainments Officer and had found out that Icarus was a " budding" rockstar guitarist so she enlisted his help to entertain us all after supper and because we were sheltering at anchor, those not on watch, indulged in a small tipple of spirit each. A full and fulfilling day! BTW we soon became "Icarus and the Oceans".


Start: Reinsdyrflya, Woodfjorden 79.79º North 13.97º East

Finish: Bockfjordan 79.45ºNorth 13.22º East

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