Jan Mayen Sailing
An exclusive journey to the world ́s most northerly volcanic island The isolation of the remote arctic Norwegian island of Jan Mayen ((70°59′N 8°32′W)—lying 600km north of Iceland, 500km east of Greenland and 1,000km west of the Norwegian mainland—calls like a siren from the heart of the far North Atlantic to all lovers and adventurers of the Arctic. Inhabited by only 18 people (the crew manning the Olonkin meteorological station) and dominated by the active volcano, Beerenberg (2,277m – last eruption in 1985), Jan Mayen’s inaccessibility and untamed wildness are two of its greatest features. Join the Aurora on a memorable sailing and skiing expedition to this breathtaking place and prepare to be captivated by this desolately beautiful and enigmatic island, which only a handful of people have ever set their gaze upon.
The main goal of the trip is to get to the top of Beerenberg safely. Safety is at the forefront of the whole expedition and the ascent of Beerenberg will be guided by Sigurd Felde, a very experienced Norwegian mountain guide. When we arrive, we will practice technique and explore the island, while waiting for the best window to climb the volcano.
This will be a long day of 25 to 30 hours which requires good physical shape, as well as the use of ropes, crampons and ice axes. The trip does not involve climbing.
Dates for 2019: 18-27. May.
Price: NOK 67.500 per person.
Number of participants: 8.
An expedition to Jan Mayen is almost guaranteed to be challenging. First of all, even though the dates we choose normally give us the best odds for good weather, the North Atlantic can be stormy any time of the year and we do not know when we can start our trip from Iceland or how long or how difficult the sail will be. Secondly the landing on the island can be a problem as there are no protected harbours and there is often heavy surf on the beaches. Thirdly the weather on Jan Mayen is highly unpredictable, often with high winds and rain or fog.
But for those looking for an exciting and adventurous expedition to an exclusive destination visited by only a handful of tourists annually, Jan Mayen is certainly it! While the island’s setting can come across as daunting, this is an expedition suitable for anyone in search of a true adventure off the beaten path.
Each year we undertake exclusive expeditions to this spectacular place and can only accommodate a few seats annually. This is true exploration—the final itinerary only gets decided upon after setting sail from the Ísafjörður harbour. We take into account weather and other conditions and always look for the best possible option. What is assured is that each trip will be a little bit different. The following description gives an idea of how a day-to-day plan might materialize.
We will sail from Ísafjörður on the North West coast of Iceland on the sturdy expedition sailboat, Aurora, cross the Arctic sea and make landfall in Kvalrossbukta (Walrus bay) on Jan Mayen’s northwest coast. When we arrive in Jan Mayen, the group will move to a base camp on the island and prepare to spend approximately a week exploring the island´s fantastic landscape. The reason for us not to stay onboard Aurora is that the landing conditions can quickly change for the worse and we may not be able to move between the boat and land as we like. All participants will be expected to join in the base-camp chores – cooking, cleaning etc.
For hardy mountaineers, it may be possible to climb Mt Beerenberg (2277m), the world’s most northerly active volcano. This volcano last erupted in 1985. The climb can be a serious arctic mountaineering feat, depending on weather and conditions on the peak. While under good conditions, it is technically easy, it is a long and strenuous glacier climb and it will always be necessary to rope up on the crevassed glacier. Experience of glacier travel and especially long strenuous ascents is necessary as well as good personal clothing and mountaineering gear.
The trip will conclude with a return sail to Ísafjörður where our guests can catch their flight back to Reykjavík.
JAN MAYEN NATURE RESERVE
The Jan Mayen nature reserve was established by royal decree on the 19th November 2010.
The objective of the reserve is to conserve a near-pristine arctic island and its adjacent sea areas including the ocean floor, with a distinctive landscape, active volcanic system, special flora and fauna and cultural remains, including securing;
- the island’s grand and unique landscape
- the island’s distinctive volcanic rock types and landforms
- the island as a very important habitat for seabirds
- the close relationship between life in the sea and on land
- the distinctive ecology of isolated islands
- the historical perspective that remains from all major eras in Jan Mayen’s history represent
- the island and adjacent marine areas as a reference area for research
No landing from boats or camping on land is allowed in the reserve. Only two small areas are excluded: in Kvalross bukta and around Olonkin station.
In order for us to operate in Jan Mayen we need to follow a few rules and guidelines such as:
- we do not go off on hikes without leaving a plan with the group leader
- we do not visit the Olonkin station or the area around it without being invited beforehand
- we stay away from all antennas, huts and other installations belonging to the station
- we do not touch, lift up or in any other way disturb any historic artifacts on the island
The short summer in the North Atlantic can exhibit all kinds of weather. Jan Mayen has a hyper oceanic polar climate, similar to Greenland and Svalbard. The Gulf Stream's powerful influence makes seasonal temperature variations extremely small considering the latitude of the island, with ranges from around 6 °C (43 F) in August to −6 °C (21 F) in February, but also makes the island extremely cloudy with little sunshine even during the continuous polar day—in fact the island is one of the gloomiest places in the world with any sunshine data (!) and it has a bad reputation for being foggy. Expect wind, fog or rain but hope for the occasional beautiful sunny day!
TRAVELLING TO ÍSAFJÖRÐUR
Please arrive in Ísafjörður ahead of our planned sailing time of 19.00 (7pm) to meet the crew, stow your gear aboard our sailboat, and pick up any last minute supplies. Arrival transfers are included from Ísafjörður Airport to the harbour. Let us know your arrival time in Ísafjörður in advance so we can arrange a pickup.
Ísafjörður Harbour (Iceland).
EXPEDITION SAILBOAT AURORA
The sailboat is a 60 foot sloop built by Colvic Craft in the UK in 1996. She was designed by David Pedrick for the Clipper Round the World Race and has been raced around the world four times. AURORA’s previous owner, Clipper Ventures was founded by the legendary sailor, Sir Robin Knox- Johnston, who in 1969 became the first person to singlehandedly sail around the world non-stop. Sir Robin was in Ísafjörður on the sailboat (then named Antiope Clipper) in the summer of 2005, together with Sir Chris Bonington and other friends, en route to Greenland. Over some chicken curry and beer on-board, we decided to fulfil an old dream and buy the boat!
Accommodation is seamanlike—simple and utilitarian—but the vessel is very sturdy and spacious. There are ten single berths, one of which can be turned into a double. Sleeping bags are required for this expedition.
The sailboat has good heaters, hot and cold water, good galley and spacious communal areas, two heads (toilets) and one shower. There is 220V electricity to charge batteries and other electronic devices. The vessel was initially fitted out for 15 crew, but can now accommodate 12 people—2 crew and 10 guests. The boat is equipped according to strict Icelandic regulations in regards to emergency equipment.
- 13 days (12 nights) on a sailboat and in base camp on land
- Use of tents, stoves and other cooking gear
- Ropes and common belaying gear for glacier travel (no personal gear – see list below).
- Services of guides and crew
- Guided walks and land excursions
- Use of wet weather sailing clothing
- Sailing instruction
- All meals for the duration of the trip. Dinner is not served the first night. Alcohol, wine or beer is NOT included.
WILDLIFE IN JAN MAYEN
Jan Mayen has rich birdlife with major populations of Northern Fulmar, Little Auks, Thick-billed Guillemots and Black Guillemots. There used to be a population of Arctic Foxes on the island but they were hunted to extinction. Now there are no land mammals on Jan Mayen. Polar Bears sometimes arrive on the island in the winter but are very unlikely to be met there in the summer. The last sighting of a polar bear on Jan Mayen is many years ago, so we can roam around quite freely and to some degree individually (while respecting common sense of mountain safety), without the need to be in continuous company of an armed guide as it is necessary for example in Spitsbergen. Should, against any expectation, the island be touched by drift ice, then we will have to stay in guided groups all the time on land.
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSFER
BOREA ADVENTURES can help with arranging accommodation and transfers in Iceland, please enquire.
There is good mobile phone coverage and internet service in Iceland but none in Jan Mayen. There is a satellite phone on board Aurora that can be used for urgent calls or emails.
We are going to be at sea for around 5-6 days in total and seasickness can be problematic for some. It´s a good idea to bring medication if you know you are prone to seasickness or you think it will be helpful.
BOOKING CONDITIONS AND INSURANCES
BOREA ADVENTURES ́s trips/voyages are of an adventurous nature given the relatively remote places throughout Iceland, Greenland and beyond that we travel. BOREA ADVENTURES makes its best effort to stick to the planned itinerary, but participants should appreciate and acknowledge that the trip/voyage requires considerable flexibility. Further, given the unpredictability of travel in such locations, the captain or BOREA ADVENTURES cannot be held responsible for incidents, accidents or physical injuries. The company and captain of the vessel reserve the right to adjust the itinerary without notice for reasons beyond their control, such as weather, ice-conditions or other unpredictable or unforeseeable circumstances. Upon departure, the captain will have the final say on all decisions affecting safety, etc., and this must be accepted by all participants.
Sailing and other outdoor activities in the trips can be dangerous and require an average level of fitness and good health. It is the responsibility of all participants to ensure that they obtain proper and detailed medical advice.
In case of a medical problem arising during the voyage, either on-board or onshore, which results in medical expenses—including but not limited to costs for evacuation with use of aircraft or boat and repatriation—the responsibility for payment of these costs belongs solely to the respective participant.
We require that the participants ensure that such eventualities are covered by travel insurance. If for any reason an incident is not covered by travel insurance, the responsibility still remains with the participant. Be aware that a normal travel policy may not cover you for some geographical areas that we travel and there may be exclusions for what they describe as "hazardous sports," which may include sailing, climbing, skiing and diving (especially in remote areas). Before arrival, participants must provide the name, address and telephone numbers for emergency contacts who can be reached should it prove necessary.
Any personal belongings taken on-board the sailboat by participants are taken entirely at the participant’s risk. As such, BOREA ADVENTURES shall not be liable for any loss or damage occurring to them.
No visa is required for trips to Iceland of up to 3 months for most nationalities. Please check with your consulate in advance of your proposed travel date for requirements for Norway and Iceland.
We will need a copy of everyone’s passport to send to the Norwegian authorities before departure.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in the group travel experience. If, in the opinion of our captain or guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, BOREA ADVENTURES reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. We therefore ask that you read the itinerary in these trip notes thoroughly and then realistically self-assess your physical ability to complete the trip as described. Please consult with your doctor if you have any doubts.
While no specific physical preparation is required for this voyage, to get the most out of the land and sea activities, a better than average fitness level is recommended. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, rowing/paddling, or swimming are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy all the activities to the fullest degree.
Be prepared for some physical activity. This may be long treks in wild terrain. Still, you don ́t have to be a serious sailor or mountaineer to enjoy the trip. As with all trips off the beaten track, you ́ll enjoy the trip more if you ́re in reasonably good shape. A climb of Beerenberg requires an above average level of fitness and experience.
ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible expedition experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit, sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our captain straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS
As you travel in a group trip you will be exposed to both the pleasures and as well as the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and are likely to cover a range of age groups. We ask that you be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group—patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember that you have certain responsibilities to the group. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well—this only takes a little effort on your part.
Please note that due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
GROUP LEADER - GUIDE
From departure from Ísafjörður until our sailboat docks again in Ísafjörður, you are accompanied by knowledgeable yachtsmen and outdoor adventure specialists. Experienced in sailing, skiing, mountaineering and kayaking, rest assured that you are in very capable hands.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimize the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects.
We take great pride in the food we serve on board Aurora and use local produce and ingredients as much as we can. Fish or lamb for dinners and berries and rhubarb pies for desserts are common. We can cater for vegetarians and guests with dietary restrictions. Please let us know in advance. It´s a good idea to take some of your own dietary substitutes if you have a specialist diet.
Day 1 – Departure from Ísafjörður, Iceland
Everyone meets in Isafjördur in Iceland to make the last preparations before we enter the boat that will take us to Jan Mayen. We aim to get off as early as possible in order to reach Jan Mayen on day 3.
Day 2 – At sea
At sea, enroute to Jan Mayen. We will keep a sharp lookout for various species of whales such as Humpbacks, Fin Whales and Bottlenose Whale. White Beaked Dolphins are also likely to join us and play around the bow of the boat.
Day 3 – Arriving to Jan Mayen
We anchor up in Båtvika and go sightseeing in Olonkinbyen before we get a briefing from the weather station people who work here. Afterwards we take a short hike on a small mountain just southeast of the station. We go through the principles and practice methods for glacier travel. Sailing around South Jan Mayen and up towards Hvalrossbukta (Walrus Bay). Here we anchor if weather permits.
Day 4 - Hvalrossbugta
We set camp in Hvalrossbukta before we take a short hike. Later in the day we will also have a session focusing on safety and get prepared for the climb of Jan Mayen.
Days 5,6, and 7 - Beerenberg
The next few days our focus is on the top of Beerenberg. Here we are heading for the easiest way up, i.e. the south-west ridge, and the same way down to camp. If there is an opportunity to make a summit attempt on day 3, we use days 4 and 5 to climb to the top again, then explore various other descents, often to the northwest, or other directions.
Days 8 and 9 – At sea
We will spend 2.5 days on our way back to Iceland, so all day 8 and 9 we spend on the boat.
Day 10 – Arriving to Ísafjorður, Iceland
During day 10 we arrive to Iceland and reorganize ourselves before we get to the airport and fly home.
SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT LIST
- Thermal underwear, at least two sets – no cotton
- Wool or fleece thermal mid layer, thick sweater
- Hiking pants – no cotton
- Thermal jacket (down or synthetic) optional but good for nights around basecamp
- Waterproof and breathable pants and jacket for hiking onshore
- Wool/fleece hat
- Two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens
- 3 to 4 pairs thick wool/synthetic socks and 2 to 3 pairs thinner socks
- Boat shoes or slippers with rubber soles for below decks onboard
- Hiking boots (Vibram sole). Suggest high ankle to offer additional support
- Sleeping bag (comfortable to 0°C).
- Sleeping mattress to use in tents in Jan Mayen
- Soft travel bag (no hard suitcases)
- Dark sun glasses
- Sunscreen/aftersun, and sun hat
- Swim suits and towels
- Ear plugs
- Small backpack for day hikes. 30L is a good size.
- Personal medical kit to include personal medication, band aids, throat lozenges, lip salves, sea-sickness tablets etc. Don't forget regular medication you may need (e.g. Asthma, bring your inhaler, even if you do not always need it).
- 1 litre water bottle
- ...and don't forget your camera!
In case you want to attempt to climb Beerenberg you will need to bring your own personal glacier gear such as harness with carabiners, prussik ropes, ice axe, crampons, bivouac sack etc. Also proper backpack, boots and clothing for high arctic mountaineering.