06-Sep-2005 -- On board M/S Origo in Kongsfjorden on the afternoon of Sept 5th, we approached Blomstrandhalvøya. Blomstrandhalvøya means 'Flowery Beach Peninsula' in English. The name is due to the many flowers thriving in the marble gravel. Blomstrandhalvøya is nowadays an island, since the glacier that reached it from land has receded very much the latest decades. We visited the marble quarry put up by Mansfield in the early 20th century at a place he called New London. In marble landscapes caves are common, and we also visited a few of those in zodiacs. We were as close as 1.56 km from 79Nx12E, and this confluence would easily have been reached with the zodiacs, but the purpose of the Origo trip was to visit some culturally (including industrially) interesting places, especially places where the Swedish polar researcher Salomon August Andrée had been. The stop in New London could not be made longer to visit 79Nx12E because we needed time to visit the Swedish Kapp Thordsen house in Isfjorden where Andrée had participated in the 1882-83 Swedish meteorological research expedition. He was thus in the Arctic many years before he tried to reach the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon in 1896 and 1897.
The sun set at 22:06, very slowly and very beautifully, while fulmars were swimming around the ship and small icebergs were clinking as compressed air bubbles in them burst when their walls melted. Not long after sunset M/S Origo started to go west, and since she can go in shallow waters, the plan was to go through Forlandsundet, where there is a sand bank with only 4 m depth of water. When I walked up to the bridge, captain Jarko suggested we should go across 79Nx11E. That would cost us only 20 minutes and 30 litres of fuel. Fine, I said, I am willing to pay the extra fuel cost (about 80 Norwegian Kroner, or 12 USD). Not necessary, meant Jarko, better put that money in the tip-envelope to the ships crew (the captain is excluded from sharing the tips). So I put an extra 100 Kroner banknote in the envelope when we left the ship.
We were almost exactly on the 79th parallel, so the course was set to due west. We reached the CP at 00:24 on Sept 6th) local time (22:24:40 UT, on Sept 5th, see GPS time readout). I could see two blow-outs from fin whales just south of the CP.
The picture to the east shows most of the shores along Kongsfjorden, from Feiringfjellet (1054 m, distance 29 km) over Kongsbreen and Kronebreen with Tre Kroner (1225m, distance 50 km) to Kvadehuken (low peninsula, distance 6 km).
The picture to the SW shows northern Prins Karls Forland with Barentsfjellet (639 m, 18 km).
The picture to the south shows among other mountains the highest peak of Grampianfjella (1084 m, 39 km) on Prins Karls Forland.
Seaman Oscar video-recorded the ship´s GPS screen. The GPS antenna passed 79 degrees, 0.001', 11 degrees E. Estimated position error is 5 m or less. My hand-held Garmin showed 5 m EPE.
In the morning we reached Trygghamna and zodiacked ourselves to Alkehornet, where we watched grazing Svalbard Reindeer. Next stop was at Kapp Thordsen. We saw two electric insulators on the house. Andrée had filed them from empty glass bottles. We were told that Andrée made measurements of the air electricity and had two copper wires going to a mast on the nearby mountain. Wooden boards lying on the ground still showed where the copper wires had been going. The house was in good shape and still maintained.
Coordinator's Note: All historic buildings on Svalbard are maintained by the office of 'Sysselmannen', the norwegian governor of the territory, including those left behind by foreign nationals like the Andrée expedition.