Posted by: tim ellis | July 19, 2016

Svalbard – Tuesday 19th July 2016 – Hammerfest

Hammerfest Harbour

We encounter some quite choppy seas overnight. I am fine but Spook copes less well. Morning finds us at anchor in a sheltered bay off Hammerfest (Which despite the name is not a Heavy Metal music festival, but a small town made good from oil) which gives him time to recover. We are here as one of the expedition team was taken ill in the night and has gone to be checked out at the hospital (she does not manage to recover in time to rejoin the ship). It also gives the sole person whose suitcase did not make it to Tromso chance to replace a few essentials

The weather is sunny and 9 oC though a bit breezy at the front of the ship. Breakfast is followed by a chance to explore the ship (it’s not always obvious how to get from one bit of deck to another) before the expedition briefing. Hannah, the expedition leader assures us her zoology degree studying parasites in mountain gorillas has left her perfectly equipped for the job (her 17 years of experience is just a bonus!)

Following on from the briefings we have a “boots and parka” exchange – despite everyone having requested the correct size, the items left in peoples’ cabins appear to be somewhat random – Spook and I have a Medium and a Small parka – which neither describes nor fits either of us. We finally set sail shortly before lunch heading for Nordkapp, via the Northernmost Gannet Colony (or it was, before the Gannets started to reach Bear Island last year) where we will take a Zodiac Cruise.

Peek-a-boo

We eat our lunch on the deck – which proves to be a good move when we spot 3 dolphins (probably White Beaked Dolphins?) They only made a fleeting appearance, though so have gone again before we can get photos.

We see Gannets, Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots as we approach the launch point, then a low rock with nesting Cormorant. I think I spot a Seal in the water near this rock. Once we are in the Zodiacs and able to approach closer it becomes very apparent that there are several here – both Grey and Harbour Seal, all very inquisitive as to what we are doing in their bit of sea! We leave them and head for the main Island, where there also Shag and Kittiwakes, along with a White Tailed Sea Eagle, which after a bit of observation turns out to be several White Tailed Eagles.

Nordkapp

Once back on board we sail around both the very impressive Nordkapp, and the slightly less impressive spit of land that actually sticks out about 1400m further North, making it the true “Northern-most point of Europe”. We make our anchorage just in time for the Captain’s welcome cocktails and Dinner.

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