If you've ever dreamt of weaving your way into icy coves to anchor for the night, listening to the crack of nearby icebergs and the calls of walruses and reindeer ashore, then you will love Spitsbergen.
Incredibly remote, awe inspiring and unlike anywhere else you will ever get to sail, this land is full of history. See nature at its most beautiful, rare wildlife and be part of what is a true adventure.
You don’t need experience on this expedition sailing holiday exploring Spitsbergen as all tuition is given. Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced sailor, everyone benefits from detailed introductions, safety briefings and training sessions.
Awesome experiences include:
• Crossing the Barents Sea
• Passing Bear Island
• Icebergs, glaciers and wild, remote mountains
• Wildlife – eagles, seals, puffins, walruses, reindeer and maybe a polar bear!
• Ny Alesund – remote international research base
• Incredible hiking ashore
Why We Love This Adventure
- great mix of sail training and remote exploration
- decent change of spotting Polar Bears and Beluga Whales
- perfect for solo travellers, couples or friends
Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway. Constituting the westernmost bulk of the archipelago, it borders the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea, and the Greenland Sea.
This is a typical itinerary for Spitsbergen to Tromso. If you are on the route headed north, please just reverse it - there is no significant difference! What makes expeditions so special however is that there can be no fixed itinerary and so no part of this is guaranteed. It is indicative of a typical expedition to this region. The wind and the weather ultimately shape what's possible each day - and you are in the very high latitudes where the weather can be glorious or cold and harsh - but that's what the adventure's all about!
Day 1: Joining Day
Join the boat between 1200 and 2000hrs (the closer to 1200 the better but we know flights and such like don't always work like that, so don't worry!) Get your belongings packed away and relax. There's plenty of things to do in the future but right now it's about relaxing, finding your way around the boat and enjoying the surroundings. Longyearbjen is an exciting place, full of other people setting off on expeditions and surrounded by beautiful mountains and glaciers.
Day 2: Briefing and training
Today is all about getting up to speed with the boat. Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced sailor, everyone benefits from detailed introductions, safety briefings and training sessions. You will have two highly experienced instructors guide you through every aspect that you need to know to have a great sailing holiday. By lunchtime we should be casting off the lines, hoisting the sails and working through all the key sailing manoeuvres such as tacking and gybing, reefing and knot tying! By the end of the day everyone on board should feel comfortable with the basics - even though there's more to learn and practice every day. We'll find a lovely anchorage in front of a glacier to spend the night in.
Day 3: Tryghamna
Today we will sail to Tryghamna to visit the remains of the seventeenth century English whaling station and an eighteenth century Russian Pomor hunting station. We can also hike from here to Alkhornet, for some incredible bird watching on the vast cliffs there. This is also often a great place to see some arctic foxes and reindeer.
Day 4: Fuglehuken
Now we sail through the Forlandsundet, bound for Fuglehuken, This is where the expedition of Willem Barents first landed, becoming some of the first recorded people to set foot on the island. You will see the graves of whalers here.
Day 5: Ytre Norskoya.
Next we hope to be to land at explore Ytre Norskoya. This is a small island which was used for many years by whalers looking for the tell tale water spouts of their prey. You will see the remains of the 17th century blubber ovens and graves of some 200 Dutch whalers. This is another fantastic place to see birds such as Arctic Skua.
Day 6: Raudfjord
Raudfjord on the very north coast of Spitsbergen is incredibly beautiful and surrounded by some genuinely spectacular glaciers. It is a great place to see ringed and bearded seals and there is a decent chance of spotting a polar bear and beluga whales.
Day 7: Reindyrfla
Sea ice can make this impossible some years, but hopefully we can land on the northern-side of Reindyrfla. This is the largest tundra area of Spitsbergen.
Day 8: Liefdefjorden
Now we head for Liefdefjorden. This is where King Eiders and Grey Phalaropes nest. Ice will probably block the approach to Monacobreen and the warm springs in Bockfjord, but this remains an amazing place to visit, teeming with birds, sea life and often polar bears.
Day 9: Magdalenafjord
One of our very favourite places in Spitsbergen. This is a stunningly beautiful bay, with vast glaciers rolling down tot he sea and - astonishingly - a white sandy beach! The brave amongst you may want to jump in for a little swim amongst the floating ice. It's quiet invigorating!
Day 10: Ny Alesund
Today we will sail to Ny Alesund, the northernmost permanently inhabited village in the world, a centre for polar research and a former starting point for many North Pole expeditions such as Amundsen's.
Day 11: Longyearbjen
We return to the main outpost in Spitsbergen and it's time to buy more supplies, hand back our rifles and do the passage planning for our sail back across the Barent's Strait to Norway
Day 12: Barentsburg
On the south eastern tip of Isafjord is this incredible semi abandoned Russian mining town, with vast soviet era murals and statues of Lenin. An incredible last stop before our sail south
Days 13-16: Passage to Norway
A wonderful open ocean passage now, as we head south to the northern shores of Norway. Sailing all day and night (albeit there is no darkness with the 24 hour sun) we will make rapid progress and the 500-600nm will soon disappear and the cliffs of Norway appear over the horizon
Days 17-18: Tromso and the surrounding area
It is quite the culture shock to be back in a modern scandinavian city after the wild and remote Spitsbergen. It is also fantastic and over beers and hot food, it's a great chance to relax, share photos and talk about the amazing last two weeks.
Day 19: Debriefs, clean up and goodbyes
It's always amazing how quickly everyone has become firm friends and the boat and its routines seem so familiar. Yet it's time to wrap it all up and head home. We'll get the boat back to how we found it, sign logbooks, exchange emails and disembark by 1200hrs (we prefer if you don't, but if you need to catch a ferry or flight, you can leave as early as you need to on the last day).
• Foul weather clothing to keep you dry in any conditions.
• Fladen immersion suits. (These will keep you warm in even the coldest, windiest conditions.)
• Ocean-spec lifejackets. (These are the best on the market.)
• All on-board food and snacks.
• Daily sailing lessons and tuition from two highly experienced instructors.
• RYA sailing qualifications where applicable.
What's Not included
• Your travel to and from the start and end points.
• Travel insurance (see our travel insurance page here)
• Any alcohol – but feel free to bring your own or buy some along the route
• Any meals you eat ashore
Trip Duration19 days
Start LocationTromso, Norway
End LocationSpitsbergen, Norway
Average Group Size9
The yacht itself is an expedition yacht that was previously a round the world race boat. The accommodation on the yacht is comfortable, warm and spacious. Each bunk is 6′ 7″ long and has its own USB charger and light. Sleeping is in one 8 berth cabin. There are two toilets, a shower, hot water and lots of food!
We eat very well on board and we will take as much fresh fruit and veg as we can. Ocean sailing is an exercise in using food creatively but you can expert lovely warm meals, as much as you can eat, freshly baked bread and more. We can cater for most diets and have loads of veggies on board. If you have any severe allergies you must check with us before booking.
You should join the boat in Longyearbjen or Tromso harbour after 1200 hrs on the start day. It is good if you can join us as close to 1200 hrs as possible, but if your flight or ferry gets in later than this, that is fine.
You will disembark the boat in Tromso or Longyearbjen at 1200 hrs on the last day. It is a short journey to either the airport from the harbours. If you need to leave earlier in the day to catch a flight or ferry that is ok.
You will fly into and out of Longyearbjen (IATA code: LYR) or Tromso (IATA code: TOS), both of which are served by Norwegian and SAS.
This Trip is Suitable For
No experience required, full training given on board.
We are committed to helping as many people as possible have an amazing sailing holiday and experience the magic of the sea. Our skippers and mates have medical training and the boats have some medical supplies and equipment on board. However, the reality is that once on board access to professional medical assistance is going to be slower than if you were on land. If we are offshore it may be some days. For this reason we ask you to check through the medical disclosure form below before you book. If you answer yes to any of the questions, you should get in touch with us before you book. It will probably still be fine but it’s good to make sure. You will be asked to submit the form electronically 14 days before the start date, ensuring that we have the most up to date information.
Frequently Asked QuestionsDo I need experience?
No experience required, full training given on board.Do people come alone?
Almost everyone comes alone. Couples and groups are very welcome and we do get them. On the whole, however, most crew join solo and so if you are coming alone, you will be one of the crowd!How many people are on board?
Except in exceptional circumstances, we limit the crew size to 9 (except for Atlantic crossings) plus two instructors. This means that there are enough people to sale the boat safely, but you will still have lots of time helming, navigating, trimming sails and such like.Is this a sailing holiday?
Absolutely. First and foremost, we are here to ensure everyone has an amazing time. Sailing is bout having fun, experiencing nature at its most majestic and gently pushing yourself to try and learn new things. Rubicon 3 voyages are a unique mix of sailing and training, and you will get far more involvement and training than on any other sailing holiday you may try!Who else joins?
We have a remarkably similar group of people who join all our trips. They come from all around the world, are an even mix of men and women and with an average age of 35-65. As we said above, most come alone and experience varies from none at all to Yachtmaster. Most of the crew would describe themselves as having a rusty Day Skipper.
Dates & Availability
- 21 Jun 2019 – 07 Jul 2019
- 09 Jul 2019 – 26 Jul 2019
We love this sailing company’s ethos – to help people do three things: sail, train and explore. They are passionate about enabling people to experience life out on the open ocean, building sailing skills and exploring some beautiful countries. After years of training people to become professional sailors, and having covered thousands of miles between them, the company Founders realised that so many people had dreamt of setting off across an ocean, but hadn’t the skills, the boat or crew to make those dreams come true.
The company now runs expeditions on a specialised 60’ yacht to some of the most exciting places out there – often largely inaccessible from land. With no previous sailing experience required, the two instructors will guide you every step of the way as you develop your sailing skills, maybe even earning an RYA qualification during the week. Exploring on land as they go is just as important and the bikes and a kayak mean you can head off and enjoy everything there is to see along the route.
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