2014 Hornsund

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Hornsund is the southernmost fjord on the West coast of Spitsbergen, and most popular first stop for boats arriving from the South.  We had to anchor for one night in a small bay just South of it, because a strong East wind was blowing in the fjord, pushing floating ice out and into the anchorage inside Hornsund (shown above).
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Next day, after the wind had eased we anchored in drifting ice, near the Polish Polar research station.
Staff there were very hospitable, and gave us an interesting tour of the facilities.  Most of them spend a full year living in the station.

The low overcast in these photographs was all too common during our stay in Spitzbergen, although the annual total rain and snowfall is very light, and the whole island is classified as a desert.
There was extensive whaling based on Spitzbergen by British, Dutch and other countries, starting about 1600.  By about 1750, the whales were pretty much extinct. 
The glaciers were advancing too, suggesting a harsher climate as the "mini-ice-age" of the 19th century approached. 
The red pile behind Helen is a mixture of disintegrating bricks (which must have been transported at great effort form the South, and wooden ruins of the whaling station.
These massive, partly buried,  bones we saw on the South side of Hornsund bear witness to the size of animals around when humans first arrived.

One of the tiny patches of flowers fighting for a toehold in the endless gravel.

While visiting the ruined whaling station, we were attacked by terns, wanting to keep us away from their nests.  They dive and peck at the highest part of your body, so Helen used a camera case as a shield.
Denis was more aggressive, raising our shotgun, with a single slug load for protection against bears.  He had no intention of firing, but seeing the gutsy little tern stand him off made me think of Boris Yeltsen standing off the tank in Moscow some years ago
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                                                  or the fox   or the Little Auks  of Hornsund