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Pole to Pole

Day 14: The Barents Sea to Troms°

Barents Sea 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWake to calm seas and clear skies. This morning we can see the mainland of Europe for the first time. The craggy snow-capped mountains of the island of Fugl°y on one side and Arn°y on the other are suitably impressive portals through which to pass into our first continent.

The cold grip of the Arctic has finally loosened. The ice on the anchor winch has melted, the sea laps lazily and placidly around the hull and the first traces of vegetation are bobbing by on the water. On the bridge all the anxiety of the last few difficult days has gone. With twelve ships successfully refuelled Stein is positively expansive, the crew are scrubbed and shaved like choirboys and the chief engineer is wreathed in smiles, phoning home.

For us, it's far from the end of the journey, but as we slip south of seventy degrees I can understand why everyone on the Norsel looks so happy. We have all survived a foray into a world where conditions are extreme and the margins of error pulled dangerously tight.

At two o'clock in the afternoon the first mate spots a plane taking off from Troms° airport. Within an hour we are moving down the Grotsundet, which I suppose is in a sense the Gateway to the Arctic, and there are all the trappings of civilization laid out - a Legoland of painted walls and roofs.

Five days and twenty-one hours after leaving Longyearbyen we arrive at the Troms° dockside. Two small, attractive ladies from the Norwegian Customs come aboard and after a brief inspection we are free to step ashore.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 14
  • Country/sea: Arctic Ocean
  • Place: Barents Sea
  • Book page no: 29

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