Approaching the North Pole?!
Our first stop this morning is at Mushamna and guests who've decided to join a long hike are the first to disembark. Richard heads off this time, and accompanied by expedition team members, the group walks along a picturesque valley. Dawn and other guests head for the normal landing to visit a well-equipped hunting cabin. This is now owned by the Governor of Svalbard and it's let to different tenants each year. We are able to wander around within the unrestricted areas with expedition staff posted at various points around the site. Manuel, the ornithologist, is sited by a large pond and some of us are treated to the sight of arctic skuas fighting. Others spot a young arctic fox asleep in a small hollow by a ridge.
Later, on board FRAM, a film is shown about the Norwegian gentleman who built the hut we visited at Mushamna. We're also treated to a bridge visit hosted by Captain Arild Harvik - and everyone agrees it's the best bridge visit they've attended! Captain Harvik's English is excellent and he has a great sense of humour too. We learn a lot.
After lunch we sail to Liefdefjorden for a Polarcirkel cruise at Monacobreen. Each group has approximately half an hour cruising by the spectacular Monaco glacier wall which is more than 5km wide. Before going out we dress in thermal survival suits. They're rather like a baby grow for adults. Most of the suits are in sizes L, XL and XXL and we're not that large! The suits are extremely warm so it's a bit inconvenient to dress up and then wait for a boat - which some of us have to do! Anyway, it's great when we get outside. Many of our guests see the glacier calving, and there are many icebergs in the bay. The Polarcirckel boatmen negotiate their way carefully and we enjoy some wonderful sightings. It's worth getting dressed up in our baby grow outfits!
After dinner and at around 11.30pm we reach Moffen Island and 80 degrees north. The island is inhabited by a few walrus which are visible through binoculars.
From here it's only 600 miles to the North Pole!