04-Sep-2005 -- During 9 days I participated in an organised tour on board the ice-class 1A vessel M/S Origo, visiting the starting and ending points of the ill-fated Andrée expedition of 1897. Many other places were also visited, and polar bears observed as close as 8 m.
On 3rd September Origo left Kinnvika in Murchison fjord bound for Sorgfjorden. This would mean we would go close to 80Nx18E, which is too close to land to be safe, it would mean a one-hour Zodiak-tour, and I did not want to use the time for that. The ship passed 1.43 km from the confluence 80Nx18E. The course would though easily be adjusted to cross 80Nx17E in open water just north of the mouth of Sorgfjorden, and I convinced the captain and the expedition leaders that this must be included in the tour. From about 2 km distance I could take the overview picture, with Mosselhalvöya visible in the west. Then we were overflown by the Sysselmannen Rescue helicopter, and they wanted to make a rescue exercise. We had to go south to face the wind for 20 minutes, while two beautiful girls were manoeuvred along a rope from the helicopter to the ship and then back again. Then we were more than one nautical mile south of 80N, so we abandoned the confluence crossing plan. We went to Sorgfjorden and visited old Dutch graves (about 40 whalers were killed by the French Navy in the 17th century) and a Degree Survey station. The station was set up at Heklahuken by the Swedes for a degree survey 1899 - 1900, starting on north Svalbard and ending at Hornsund, were a Russian expedition had the responsibility for the southern part. The aim for that project was to determine the length of the distance between the meridians to decide the amount of flattening of the earth.
On 4th September at 1 o'clock Origo started the night's trip to Liefdefjorden, and captain Jarko promised to go across the confluence point. I went up to the foredeck and placed myself just in front of the ships GPS antenna. I also had my own little GPS. It was possible to see land until a few hundred metres from the confluence, but then almost everything disappeared in fog. The ship crossed the point at 01:49 and I recorded a 7 m distance to the point when I had the minimum reading. Then the captain made a sharp right turn and run over the point again, this time at 6 m distance. I tried to shoot some pictures, most of them into the foggy darkness, but in the south view Dunérbreen can be distinguished. In the west view part of Mosselhalvöya can be seen.
When I went back into the ships interior, I met seaman Oscar who had taken a video sequence of the ship's main GPS. It is set to UT, so the time is 2 hours before the local time. I took a picture of his camera's screen, and can calculate the minimum distance. Since the ship's course was due north we must have passed 80 00.000 N 17 00.003 E which is 1.1 m east of the confluence, so together with an accuracy estimate of 5 m, we were at most 6 m from the point.
Coordinator's Note: I have set the accuracy figure to 5 m, since the GPS error is uncorrelated with the minimum measured offset. It is also quite likely that the ship's GPS system has less than the usual (for handhelds) 5 m estimated error.