Ben Edwards Polar Ocean Challenge Updates
14 September 2015 | Mri Grout
Turns out a kid on the boat (guess what he's called!) is blogging about their trip as it happens so 1. I don't have to and 2. It's from a person actually there so will be much better. Posts are linked below with a few random facts alongside. (:
Pyramiden [10 September 2016]
Rob's last sail on Northabout was to a town called Pyramiden, an old mining town that was only allowed to be built there as long as the Russians agreed to put everything back as it was when they left. This meant that all of the buildings, playgrounds, and Russian monuments would need to be knocked down and taken back to wherever the materials used to build them had come from. So when it was finally admitted that the coal they had been mining, despite being one of the best in the world (as in, way too good to just burn), wasn't making a profit, everyone decided to leave...well, all but two people. For by leaving them in Pyramiden, it was technically still inhabited and thus, the Russians didn't have to dismantle anything...And that is why even though the town is deserted and boarded up, you can still find two Russians stationed at Pyramiden.
Noggin the Nog [6-9 September 2015]
The piercing blue of the iceberg shown in this photo isn't exaggerated or Photoshopped (or Gimped in our Linux case). Rather, it's startling color is due to being pure ice - a substance that isn't home to any debris picked up on its travels across land (which would turn it grey or black) or to any trapped bubbles of oxygen (which would make it translucent or an off-white). Another fun fact about icebergs is that despite being in the ocean, they aren't made out of salt-water. This is due to them forming by sliding off of land and into the sea.
Whales, Oil, & Ice [5 September 2015]
Don't worry. No one got hurt. They were just taking turns laying on the iceberg seen behind them as it was close enough and in shallow enough water to get to without dying of hypothermia.Though according to Rob those suits are top notch anyway. For even in the ridiculously cold temperatures of the arctic nights, he's only ever felt too hot.
Seasickness, Seals, and the Hint of a Polar Bear [4 September 2015]
In 1897, three men set off on an expedition with the goal of reaching the North Pole by a hot air balloon. They faced many serious obstacles from the very start - such as their main method of navigation (drag ropes) wasn't of any actual use for changing course and the balloon was already leaking in many different places before it had even been flown... Despite these problems, however, they decided to head out anyway, launching from Svalbard in July. They then promptly crashed due to a rapid loss of hydrogen (probably due from all that leaking...) and though all three men survived the initial crash with little more than a scratch, they then died from the harsh exposure of the Arctic.
Ny Alesund and Throwing Ice [3 September 2015]
There is a glacier near Ny Alesund called Kongsbreen that is your typical calving glacier - ie: ones that meet the sea and fall off in chunks. Unfortunately, howver, this particular glacier (along with money others) has receded rapidly over the years with an average of 166 metres lost in length every 12 months. The other type of glacier is the pulsing glacier and though these might seem like a positive thing due to their rapid growth from time to time, the reason they move so quickly is because their bottoms are melting faster, creating less friction with the land.
Changeover [30 August - 2 September 2015]
Did you know that it is illegal to lock your doors (yes, even to your private home or car!) in Svalbard in case a polar bear wonders into town and the people on the street need somewhere to hide? Rob even told me - in one of the very few skype chats he managed to have with me while he went frolicking away to a magical world I've wanted to go to since I was a little freaking kid and one that he refused to even consider visiting while we were in Australia (Antartica obviously, not the Arctic); hmpf - that a polar bear once accidentally walked into a hotel. A very expensive hotel. Due to how protected the arctic bear is in Svalbard though, their solution to dealing with said raging bear was to pull the fire alarm to get everyone out and just wait until the poor bear passed out from exhaustion before going in to retrieve it and helicoptering it to the other side of the island. Don't know if this unlocked door law applies to port-a-loos...
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
29 August 2015 | Mri Grout
I was sitting on the couch surfing the web when Rob got a call from his father. Given that he likes to walk around while he talks I wasn't able to eavesdrop without also getting up so my lazy self decided to just wait for him to tell me. A few minutes later and a very excited Rob ends the call with: "I'll ask Mri and I'll call right back." Thinking we were going to go on a special walk or for a fly or something equally as exciting, I turned towards him and gave him my full attention. "So you know how you wanted to go to the Arctic ever since you were a little kid like you told me when we were in Australia?" he asked. "And you know how you tried to get me all excited about going to Antarctica so we could visit while we were down there and I said no because that would be boring as hell? And so we didn't even look at going and you were disappointed? Yeah, well - there's a free , all-expenses paid two-week boating expedition to the Arctic starting tomorrow morning!" YES! I screamed very loudly in my head as I smiled in real life, too shocked and excited to say anything with my mouth. YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
"So when do we go!? Do we need to pack? What do we need to pack? Do I have anything warm enough?" I finally blurted out when I calmed down. "I don't know anything; dad just asked if I - oh jeah, by the way it's only for one of us and I called dibs so haha, sucks to be you." Okay, so that's not exactly how he worded it, but he might as well have the lucky bastard. So now here I am, waiting for him to call me and tell me just how great of a time he's having while I'm stuck in England with nothing to do and no transportation. Yay...the lucky bloody bastard. -.- I hope he gets sea sick...though not too much to take some awesome photos. :D
Travel Tip #4
What do you think of Rob's 2015 Svalbard Expedition?