Book – Sail to Svalbard | Polarjournal
The fjord world of Svalbard is not easy to navigate. In addition to ice floes and chunks (“growlers”) floating on and under the water, constantly changing weather and wind conditions make barely charted seabeds a major challenge, even for experienced sailors. Image: James Austrums

Svalbard is booming again as an Arctic destination. For the Norwegian-administered archipelago attracts not only with almost everything that defines the Arctic, but also with its accessibility, whether by plane, by ship… or by sailing yacht. The white wilderness has always attracted not only cruise ships, but also sailors. But being out on a sailing yacht is not easy and not only the ice, the wind or the weather is constantly changing, but also the administrative work and the rules of who can do what and where. It’s good to have an up-to-date guide to help you here.

Which fjords in the Svalbard archipelago offer the most beautiful landing sites, what do the 124 anchorages above and below the water surface look like, what do the four moorings in Longyearbyen, Ny Ålesund, Barentsburg and Pyramiden offer in terms of infrastructure and what do you have to consider when dealing with polar bears. These are some of the aspects described in great detail and based on the latest findings in the latest edition of Jon Amtrup’s book “Sail to Svalbard”. But the 122-page manual delivers much more. Every expedition starts with the right preparation, as the early polar explorers already knew. That’s why the book also details all the important issues surrounding proper equipment, search-and-rescue, boat requirements, and planning preparations. Even something that the early polar explorers did not have to deal with is described in detail: How to obtain which permits to be allowed to sail in the Svalbard archipelago at all.

The fascination of the archipelago is shown by the fact that the number of visitors increases every year. And this is certainly due to the fact that beautiful pictures and films about this area of the Arctic can be seen almost every day on the Internet and in the numerous media channels. Jon Amtrup’s book is no exception, and the pictures by photographer James Austrums, who has himself been traveling in the polar regions for years, are intended to whet readers’ appetites for the beauty of the Arctic. Notabene, however, not to travel through the archipelago as a cruise tourist on a large ship, a mode Jon Amtrup does not approve of. “On a big cruise ship, you’re not as connected to nature as you are on a small sailing yacht, and you don’t return to the everyday world with a sense of urgency to reduce climate emissions and consumption,” is his view.

When sailors also pick up the plastic on the beach during their trips, they leave the area in a better condition.

Jon Amtrup, book author and sailing expert

But the ocean activist is also critical of the increasing yachting tourism in the archipelago. Because in recent years, video footage of sailors hitting the ice walls of Svalbard’s glaciers and unauthorized drone footage of polar bears and walruses have been going wild on the web. This brought an enormous amount of criticism to the yachting industry, especially to those in the tourism sector. Jon Amtrup hopes that with his book he can encourage the sailing community to travel more gently and protect the environment. “When sailors also pick up the plastic on the beach on their trips, they leave the area in better condition.”

For some time now, tourism in Svalbard has been at the center of a heated debate between the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and the Sysselmester Svalbards on the one hand, and tourism representatives such as Visit Svalbard and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators AECO on the other. New rules and regulations, the expansion of protected areas and the reduction of the number of visitors to certain landing sites particularly upset tourism stakeholders. Here, the industry is also somewhat divided, as are the politicians in Oslo. The sailing community will also be affected by some of the innovations, even if they have not yet been implemented. But in the long term, Jon Amtrup believes that the mode of tourism in Svalbard will change. “Last summer I was skipper on a 48-feet sailing yacht with five guests on board. We had the diesel and food on board for ten days. Tourism on small sailing yachts is the way to go.” Whether Jon Amtrup can convince an ordinary tourist to switch to a sailing yacht with his book, which is available on Amazon and Kindle and on his own website, remains to be seen. For the sailing yacht community, however, the book is currently the most comprehensive and detailed on the market and should whet the appetite for more Arctic.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Title:Sail to Svalbard
Author:Jon Amtrup
Publisher:Explore North
Number Pages:122
Size:L254mm x W203mm
First publishing2012
Edition2nd edition
Available at:At Amazon, Kindle or directly at Explore North

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