6 Ships Blog

Arctic Circle, Nordfjorden and Mevika

Ship's Blog - June 25, 2013

Just before 10:38 local time, HANSE EXPLORER approaches the polar circle. Traditionally this is celebrated with a glass of champagne for the guests. Everyone looks at the GPS where soon the latitude 66 Deg 33 Min North will be displayed. The oldest guest has the honor to sound the horn when passing the circle. 66 deg 33 Min it is at 10:38, but the ship’s horn stays silent. A quick disappointment followed by a call to the chief engineer. A few minutes only, the call comes back: the horn is working now, condensation water drained from the air pipe. Aha! We do have a second passage of the circle while heading into Melfjorden – but this time southbound. This time the horn works! Great!

After a third passage of the circle within half an hour we head into Nordfjorden. This fjord is truly grandiose with it’s 1000 meter high rocky fjord-sides. In the back of the fiord is a valley with a beautiful birch forest. There are several hiking opportunities: one along the main river on the south side of the valley and one up a steep boulder slope to a canyon-like side valley where a waterfall plunges down from the above Svartisen glacier.

On arrival we anchor in a depth of 80 meters very close to the shore. This can only be done in very calm conditions, but since there is no wind, we can switch the engines temporarily off. The plan is to go for a polar plunge – a swim north of the polar circle. The group is really into swimming and so everyone gets into their swimwear and shortly after most of the guests and some staff and crew are happily jumping into the arctic waters. The sauna is pre-heated and the scent of the sauna oil fills the aft deck. Just after the polar plunge, a sudden wind comes funneling up the fjord, but the engine is standby and quickly started by the chief engineer and the ship is maneuvering safely off the shore.

After the polar plunge the decision is taken to divide the group and to offer both hikes: the steep one for the serious hikers and the easier one up the valley for the ones who prefer a more moderate walk. This is wild country – so there are no hiking trails and the way up the hill across the boulders is certainly not for everyone. A group of a handful of hikers makes it up to the waterfall. The little canyon has been filled with masses of snow by an avalanche last winter and walking up the hard packed snowfield is not easy but safe. The hike ends at the edge of a 10 meter deep crevasse spanning across the snowfield. The surroundings are high alpine and almost surreal. Despite a bit of rain on the way back, this hike will certainly be an unforgettable adventure for our guests.

We end the day anchored up in Mevika – a bay only 50 miles south of the Lofoten, our destination next day. LAIKA is already waiting for us on arrival.

Capt. Martin Graser

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