Stuck Between A Rock And A Bear

Earlier this year, I booked a trip to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Not sure where that is? Well, it’s way up north. 78 degrees away from the equator. Like, any further and you would need sponsorship and call it an expedition. Most northerly town, most northerly ATM, most northerly just about everything. Fortunately it also has the most northerly airport with regular scheduled flights and I nabbed a pair for about £500. Bargain.

When I booked this trip, I was hoping for a bunch of adventure. Since this place has a law that states you have to carry a gun to shoot polar bears if you leave the town, it seemed like an excellent choice. Like the total over-planner that I am, I filled the schedule with activities that would excite and invigorate me and The Husband. I enjoy researching that kind of thing. One of the tours on offer hit the spot: boat trip to see glaciers and (hopefully) a polar bear or two. Oh hells yes.

And so it was that we found ourselves on a midnight sun cruise on Friday 30th May. Our vessel a fishing boat with a chirpy Swiss guide in a fur hat and a Filipino crew.
What could possibly go wrong?

We boarded the MS Langøysund which was moored next to this one, MS Polar Girl. She was also heading out to the glaciers that evening. Why that’s important will become clear later.

On board the MS Langøysund, we got a safety demonstration. We were given instructions on how to put on a dry suit. This going to prove very useful just a couple of hours later. Never again will I hear the words ‘in the event of an emergency’ and laugh again.

Sailed out from the shore. Calm waters, not a care in the world. We even managed to spot a couple of polar bears.

The Husband gave some impromptu guitar lessons to a grateful crew member and everything was kumbaya.

Until of course… we hit rocks. I had just come up on deck after dinner to grab some photos of the glaciers when I heard the bone-crunchingly awful sound of metal grinding on rock. The bow rose up, and port side dipped dramatically towards the water. I grabbed the side of the boat while chairs slid across the deck. My eyes met The Husband’s. Given he has a Masters degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, I took my cues from him. He look worried. The boat seemed to mostly right itself, but was going precisely nowhere. The Captain hurried to the deck to peer over the bow. Spying some rocks in the water below us, he muttered ‘shit’ several times and disappeared again to the bridge.

The furry hatted Swiss guide quickly handed out dry suits. Mine was a child’s suit but fit me nicely. The Husband had to swap his for an adult’s version, understandably. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that these were just fancy wrappers for polar bear candy, which is essentially what we were, especially if we ended up in the water.

After the initial worry, we all began to relax (as much as you can in this kind of situation). We were told that we were simply wedged on some rocks and not taking on water, however, meeting up with the furry hatted man at the bar the next night would prove this to be untrue. We also found out the captain got sacked and there was £100K worth of damage to the vessel. 

The crew were keen to handover whatever drinks and chocolate they were able to salvage. MS Polar Girl, the only other boat anywhere near us at that time of night (remember, this is after 10pm) motored at speed to us within 45 minutes and deployed their zodiac rather than risk getting close to us for a straight transfer.

The last of our people make the journey in the Zodiac over to MS Polar Girl.

The husband was even more pleased to be off that boat than I was.

Frankly, I was pretty happy about it though.

The zodiac being lifted back on to MS Polar Girl.

As the midnight sun shone, we sailed slowly back to land, arriving about 2am to be interviewed by Norwegian police and with enough time to get 5 hours of sleep before the next adventure… stay tuned.

And for anyone who wants to point out that The Husband and I have awful luck when travelling (Icelandic rescue, missing bags, lost flights and front teeth), save it. WE KNOW.

13 thoughts on “Stuck Between A Rock And A Bear”

  1. Hi (from Aus.) please tell me what camera/phone you are using for your spectacular pics. Sincerely impressed with composition and subject choice. regards john

    1. Hi John, it’s my iPhone 5c. I find it easiest to load up to WordPress from my phone. Plus I use an app to touch up some of the shots. Thanks for the compliment!.

      1. John, I suspected that Vegemite Wife was an Apple plant when she told me the same thing when I asked her the same question many months ago.

        Having been around here for a bit I don’t think she is kidding anymore, it is a fucking iPhone!

        The worst of it is, is that she only works in IT!

        I tried to tell her.

        1. It really is an iPhone. What can I say, I’m lazy.
          And I specialise in telecoms, so perhaps it is fitting that I use a phone.

          1. Look you might be lazy, it might be an iPhone and you may know how to ring someone up, but………….

            if you clanged career paths, you could just do this jaunty business alone and make more money between races, plus hubby would be chuffed about the motzas and you could both semi-retire between chosen assignments a lot earlier and get around to fixing your house up.

            Anyhow, I have said this before and I don’t intend to rant on like an incessant bore, maybe my priorities are different from yours and I can just continue to enjoy your blog for free.

              1. Fucking oath they would, you would get more though if you produced someone else’s drivel.

                I am making a youtube movie this weekend of a recent project we completed, its the way to go for marketing. Walk into prospective clients office, find out which particular solution they need, pull up applicable 90 sec youi on the blower and if required use widi to put it on their boardroom telly.

                Digital Marketing is your yet unfound forte, for making a bob or two that is.

  2. Well you said you were hoping for a bunch of adventure… careful what you wish for! Gorgeous pictures though :)

    1. I’m wishing for a lottery win every week and that never happens. (I should start buying a ticket to improve my chances though).
      Thanks for the compliment :)

  3. Farck! How scary! But how brilliant that you get an adventure to regale friends and acquaintances and people you don’t know with!

    And I second, or third, that your photos are impressive.

    1. Well, colour me flattered. I truly do use my iPhone, it’s far easier to snap into service the second something vaguely interesting happens. Not that my regular camera is troublesome, just that it’s got a special case and by the time it’s ready to capture anything, the hilarity and/or danger has passed.

      I’d have gotten more shots on board our stricken vessel, but both devices were firmly stored in my child size dry suit. Ah, next time.

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