Day 2 –The sailing experience – getting to know the rhythm of the day
So this is the second in what is going to be a series of posts about my residency on board the beautiful ship Antigua, pictured above, which took a party of 29 creatives from around the world, on a sailing expedition up the north-west coast of Spitsbergen to just over 80 degrees latitude. I was the only painter in the group, my fellow travellers included journalists, writers, academics, film makers, installation artists and artists specialising in public engagement. We were looked after by 4 guides, some of the most awesome people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and a wonderful crew.
Unlike some participants who were keen sailors, I’ve never spent any significant time at sea and have had some previous bad experiences on ferries. Luckily the weather was mainly fair and for the first few days, really calm with no wind at all. It was decided that we would spend the first couple of days in Isfjord until the winds were predicted to pick up and take us further north. The first glacier landing we made was at Wahlenburgbreen, a surging glacier,, which when we were there, was in mid-surge. The mechanism behind the surges is not fully understood but the glacier front can move up to 16m a day; this may be due to meltwater under the surface of the glacier, lubricating its path. We were taken to the shore just to the right of the glacier by zodiac, after the 4 guides had landed first and marked out a safe area for us to explore and make work. I wandered for a while, took some photographs and did some painting in my sketchbook, perched on the snowy beach.
Photo of Wahlenburgbreen 12th June (taken with Samsung galaxy S8)
We returned to the ship for lunch and then some people went for another hike over the glacier, I opted to stay on board, find a peaceful spot on deck and do some painting. I had a happy afternoon in the sunshine with my watercolours and this is one of the paintings I made.
That evening sailing towards our evening anchorage, wildlife was spotted on an ice floe. Our captain Mario, cut the engines and we drifted closer and watched transfixed as a mother bear with 2 grown-up cubs wandered up and down the ice. My borrowed binoculars gave me an amazing view and I watched the along with everyone else for over an hour. It was the one time when I wished I had a better camera with a more powerful zoom, but here is a blurry glimpse.
(taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ1000)