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Sailing the Arctic
Chris got so many amazing photos of the icy summer wonderland of Svalbard that I couldn’t let the story rest without including just a FEW more photos of the gorgeous scenery from his trip.
Taken at 3am.

 

 

Waaaaay up north

When someone asks if you want to be part of the crew on a sailboat to go hunting for icebergs in the Arctic Ocean, you say “yes”. Because really, that’s how all great adventures start.

 

This particular adventure for Chris happened to start when a friend of ours from church was looking for some assistants to accompany him on a 6-day trip up to the Svalbard islands to sail into the Arctic Ocean to collect iceberg core samples for a business venture. Basically, he’s creating a new brand of über-premium bottled water made from North Pole icebergs, called Svalbardi (apparently there is a really good market for that sort of thing. Who knew?) and he needed some able-bodied crew to come along and help him share the costs of the boat and aid in collecting iceberg core samples for purity testing.

 

When Chris heard the words “sailing” and “Arctic Ocean”, he immediately wanted in. Then he thought maybe it wasn’t a good idea. Then he thought maybe it was a great idea. Then he thought it was too expensive. Then he thought it was priceless. The timing of the trip was pretty terrible, what with it starting just after we got back from our trip to the States and overlapping a visit from his family at the end. And yeah… it was money we weren’t really planning to spend. But you know, there are always plenty of reasons NOT to do something and sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and say “yes” when life hands you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For us, we decided that 60 years from now the story of hunting icebergs in the Arctic is going to be worth all the money spent on the trip and more so Chris accepted and off he flew to Svalbard to catch his boat to the Arctic Ocean for 6 days.

 

Mmm…whale, reindeer and seal for dinner. Viking food.

 

Dead seal.

 

Alive seal.

 

Setting sail.

 

The total crew ended up being Chris, Jamal (owner of Svalbardi water) and the sailboat captain. The captain was pretty happy Chris was a certified Day Skipper with the RYA and Chris was pretty happy that he therefore got to do a lot of the sailing. And Jamal was pretty happy that he had someone to help out with the icebergs, because apparently it was a lot more work than expected to hunt down the ‘bergs. Happiness all around :)

 

(Unfortunately, Chris didn’t get any photos with himself in them, so the rest of the photos will include a lot with the captain and Jamal. We’re going to work on this in the future ;) But know that he was actually there as the man behind the lens. )

 

The weather was as good as could be expected (yes, it was July but you sure wouldn’t know it based on their outfits!) They had some gorgeous clear days and some horrible days with 20ft swells and accompanying seasickness. All in a week’s work for a sailor.

 

One of the experiences Chris talked about a lot when he got home was hearing the icebergs calve from the glaciers. All would be eerily silent except for the sound of the waves against the boat and then they would hear a huge thunderous CRACK. If they were close enough, they would whip their heads around towards the sound and catch the sight of glacier ice crashing down into the water. Sometimes they would sit and listen to what sounded like a thunderstorm in the middle of a clear day as iceberg after iceberg broke off and fell into the sea.

 

He also had a bit of a harrowing experience involving a capsizing iceberg. To get the core samples, Chris and Jamal would take a dingy from the main sailboat with all their equipment, sidle up to the iceberg and anchor the dingy tightly onto it with ice hooks and rope. They had just tied themselves off to one particular iceberg when Jamal realized they were missing a part for their core borer. They untied themselves, leaving the ice hooks in the iceberg to await their return with the needed part. Once they got back to the sailboat, however, they realized that the part they needed was actually attached to the core borer all along. No sooner had they turned to head back to the iceberg when a huge chunk of ice broke off from the iceberg beneath the water line and the entire iceberg heaved up and over onto its side before eventually righting itself again and crashing back down into the water. The Man Upstairs was most definitely watching out for them that day because if they hadn’t had gone back for the “missing” part they and the dingy would have been pulled under the frigid water as the iceberg tilted. They didn’t anchor themselves to any more icebergs after that.

 

“Iceberg right ahead!”
The core sample.
Bagged and tagged and now on to the next ‘berg. 

 

Most unfortunately, they didn’t get to see any whales or polar bears out in the wild (I was REALLY hoping Chris would get to see some wild orcas) but they did see a lot of seals, birds, walruses and puffins!
wpid-Photo-20150214105618958.jpg
One of the really cool things about being that far north in the middle of the summer was getting to experience the midnight sun. The sun never sets up there during that time of year. The two photos just above ^^ were both taken around 2am!

 

This sign was as serious as a heart attack…
And of course, they got to do a lot of sailing, which Chris loved. When I asked him what were some of the coolest memories he has of the trip he said, “Definitely getting to sail above the Arctic Circle. We went above the 79th parallel!”

 

Definitely an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

 

 

Swedish Sea Day

One day after the temple, we tagged along with some of the ward families for a quick evening at the beach. Somehow they convinced us “wimpy Americans” to jump into the nippy Baltic water. I'm still not quite sure how that happened….

He's single, ladies. And he'll need lots of encouraging letters on his mission in the next year or so ;)

Pondering the leap…
It was pretty chilly… but I either got used to it, or just went numb because eventually it felt refreshing!
The Norwegian kids didn't even flinch!
Love this guy :)

 

Cruise: Tel Aviv, Israel

Sigh… I have such high hopes and grand plans for this blog. I really do. I have all sorts of things I want to share with you all, but here I am trying desperately to catch up on a vacation we took back in October. In OCTOBER!  And now we are almost halfway through January already! alkdjreoighdfjkf.

Oh well. Just gotta keep moving along!

The next stop on our cruise after Egypt was Israel. We docked in Ashdod for a day and a half and spent most of our time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Let me tell you… after all the craziness of Egypt we completely fell in love with Israel. We got only a brief taste of what it has to offer, but after our dinner excursion into Tel Aviv on the first night we made a goal to DEFINITELY come back soon to explore the country more thoroughly!

After the ship docked in Ashdod on the first night, Chris and I ventured off to Tel Aviv for an evening out. We LOVED Tel Aviv right off the bus. We spent the first few hours trying to find a restaurant that served traditional Israeli food, but after asking around we realized there was none to be had unless we wanted to take a 45 minute cab ride. Odd. We were starving by that point though so we gave up and picked the first restaurant we happened upon, Allora, which ended up being a charmingly cute Italian place with delicious food! Although, I’m sure anything would have tasted delicious at that point… but you can take a look at the pictures as proof!

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Pasta carbonara and hazelnut gnocchi.

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We ended our evening with a walk along the beach. It was balmy and warm (even in October at 11:00 at night), the lights of Tel Aviv were a beautiful backdrop against the dark Mediterranean Sea, and we just wandered and talked about life, the universe, and everything. It was seriously perfect! (Ugh… listen to me. That sounds so campy. But that’s actually how it was so that’s how I’m going to tell it!)

Did I mention we loved Tel Aviv?

 

The Cure for Anything

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

– Isak Dinesen

The other day Anna and I found the cure for the stress of running our own respective businesses* in the sea.

And in Norwegian fish soup.

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*Anna runs her own online digital vintage pattern shop, Mrs. Depew Vintage. She’s amazingly talented. Also check her out on her blog for all things vintage and lacy!