Barba crew take on epic Arctic expedition
Captain Andreas Heide and the crew of 37-foot Jeanneau Barba set sail on what promises to be an epic adventure around the Svalbard Archipelago.
This is Barba’s greatest expedition to date – an expedition driven by the crew’s thirst for adventure and a passion for nature. It’s a journey to the ‘world’s end’, where polar bears roam and icebergs float. The goal, ice permitting, is to circumnavigate the Svalbard Archipelago.
Kitted out with state of the art camera gear, paragliders, scuba diving equipment and climbing gear, Barba departed from Stavanger on Norway’s southwest coast in the first week of July. The crew took pit stops at Lofoten and Tromsø before embarking on the long leg at sea for Svalbard on the 17th July. ‘This is when the real adventure begins’ said Heide.
While sailing the icy waters around the archipelago, the crew will be climbing mountains, diving to shipwrecks, swimming with whales, gliding over the fjords and interviewing locals about their ways of life and the effects of climate change on their lifestyles. All of this will be documented with film and photograph, capturing the stunning encounters in these far flung islands.
However, just reaching Svalbard promised to be a challenge – Longyearbyen lies almost 1,000km across the Barents Sea from Tromsø. This, however, is far from the Arctic expedition’s most arduous aspect. From Longyearbyen, the Barba will set sail on a 40-day journey around the Svalbard Archipelago and back to mainland Norway, with no opportunity to call in at port or refuel. She is now laden with 40 days of provisions and fuel and anchored in the southern section of the Archipelago. So close to the North Pole, the crew will experience midnight sun for much of their expedition.
The Barba has been extensively modified to cope with the uniquely challenging environment of Norway’s most isolated outpost. Svalbard is known for its polar bears, and the animals pose a very real threat to the crew of the Barba. The boat has been equipped with a special spiked mat to discourage polar bears from climbing on board, while the crew will carry rifles to defend themselves if needs be. Barba also carries sonar to detect any uncharted rocks in the vessel’s path, and a mackerel smoker ‘for warming up Arctic nights’ in the words of travel journalist and crewmember Terry Ward.
The boat isn’t the only thing with special equipment for the expedition. Captain Heide and the rest of the crew wear Musto HPX Jackets and Trousers to keep the freezing water off their skin. ‘Use of the HPX suit has been a bit limited to date’, said Heide, ‘But that’s soon to change as we leave mainland Norway behind. The Musto kit is performing very much to our expectations’.
The first anchoring in Svalbard in Hornsund allowed the crew to put their feet on dry land after 4 days. Andreas blogged, ‘In our yellow Musto HPX sailing suits, we looked a bit like space explorers wandering around a sandy black moonscape. We quickly realized that we were not alone, however. The beach and ridge leading up from it were covered in polar bear tracks. And while we haven´t sighted the king of the Arctic so far, we are constantly on the alert.’