Sail with Jan

Svalbard: Arctic Wildlife

On Board 

MS Nordstjernen

The Greenland Sea


August 9, 2015


Even the experienced guides had never seen such a sight!

A dead walrus?  Sure.  They had seen one before.  They had seen a polar bear feasting on the carcass.  They had seen a polar bear and her cub feasting at the scene.

But never before had they seen such a sight!

The Arctic Ocean: Searchin'

At Sea

MV Nordstjernen

August 9, 2015  



I first heard the word logodile on a motorboat trip on the New River in Belize.  Our destination was Lamanai, the archeological site of an ancient Mayan city deep in the jungle.  Along the jungle river route we encountered what you might expect at 17 degrees north latitude in Central America:  a thick green canopy of variegated flora and several species of birds. 

One bird in particular remains vividly in my memory:  a slight creature that gingerly scampers across the water atop the lily pads.  Who can remember the proper name of this species?  But the nickname is unforgettable: the Jesus Bird!

Plants and birds are fine, but somewhere out there lies an ancient, yet elusive reptile species.   We search and search and search.  Suddenly a passenger excitedly shouts, “I see one!  I see one just over there!”  The passengers scamper over to see.  The tour guide takes a look and calmly responds in his oft repeated nonplussed manner, “Sorry folks, it’s only a logodile.”  (A portmanteau word if there ever was one!)

There are no reptiles and nothing green here in the Arctic Ocean, at 78 degrees north latitude.  There’s plenty of black and white and blue - a very special beauty.   Plenty of sea birds too who make a living in the frigid north and surely some of the passengers aboard ship are counting and cataloging them. 

Binoculars, however, are mostly focused on the surface of the sea and on the distant shorelines.  We search and search and search.


Svalbard: Outstanding!



78°55’30”N 11°55’20”E


The Arctic


So, can you name the northernmost civilian settlement in the world?

Here’s a hint:

A research town in Oscar II Land on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. It is situated on the Brøgger peninsula (Brøggerhalvøya) and on the shore of the bay of Kongsfjorden.

The North Cape



August 15, 2015


So I leave my hotel and take a walk around the empty streets of Kirkenes, the embarkation point for my cruise down the coast of Norway.

Weather is still mild in this Arctic town.  A lovely church.  Flower boxes adorn the homes and businesses.  Boats in the harbor.  A War Memorial.  The Second World War was particularly harsh here.

Kirkenes is only 225km (140 mi) from Murmansk, Russia.  Signs here in Cyrillic.



Lofoten Archipelago


I love taking photos at this fishing village.  (Population 440).

The sun is bright.  The colorful buildings along the inlet seem to be admiring themselves in an aquatic mirror.

Henningsvær is part of the Lofoten Islands chain. A good place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Norway: The Fjords

MS Vesterålen

Hurtigruten Limited


Come to Norway to see the fjords.

What’s a fjord?

Here’s the brief answer:

Geologically, a fjord or fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.

The steep sides of the cliffs decend straight down to the seabed.

The sea is quite deep, deep enough for a large cruise ship.

The fjord is so narrow that the sides of the cliff pass ever so close to the side of the ship - close enough to almost reach out and touch them. 

The remarkable moment comes when, in this narrow channel, the cruise ship stops near the end of the fjord, turns one hundred and eighty degrees and returns to the open sea.