It was plain sailing on the first few days of the voyage, but as they headed closer to the arctic ice edge to the north of the archipelago they found themselves in a tricky situation.
‘It was in Kinnevika Bay that we got stuck. I woke up to the sounds of ice bumping and grinding into the hull in the early hours of the morning as the captain tried to use the night exit to leave the bay. They couldn’t get out so we tried again later on at around 3pm. As we tried to sail through the ice I sat on the bow and watched the water below filling with ice. Eventually we had to radio for a rescue helicopter to be despatched from Longyearbyen, as we were stuck in ice and floating towards some rocks.’
The crew were instructed to don warm clothes and go up on deck await the arrival of the rescue helicopter to airlift them to safety. But they weren’t alone. Watching from the ice near to the boat sniffing the air was an interested polar bear. After a while this bear was joined by two others.
‘It was a little unnerving. We joked that if we became surrounded by 50 hungry polar bears we could get the food supplies and lock ourselves in the toilet. Fortunately it didn’t come to that and we managed to sail free just 10 minutes before the helicopter came into view.’