New Destination for Firebird

New to the itinerary for Firebird in 2019, is the addition of Svalbard for May and June. Often referred to as the final frontier before the north pole; this vast wilderness, with more Polar Bears than people, offers something for everyone. 

As there are only 40km of roads on Svalbard the best way to explore the wilderness is by skidoo, dog sledding or skiing. Svalbard is one of the most spectacular and well preserved natural areas to visit. In the mountains around the main town, Longyearbyen, you can hike up glaciers, explore ice caves or book onto local wildlife expeditions. 

One of the greatest advantages of experiencing this location by boat means you can truly immerse yourself in remote areas that are not accessible via skidoo. You will have a better opportunity to see the sea life and other wildlife up close. In addition to the whales, seals and walruses to be found venturing in the fjords, you can get closer to the protected seabirds nesting in the cliffs. Exploring by boat also gives you a higher chance of spotting Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears that often hunt on the secluded coastline.  

This new destination, comes of course with it’s challenges. Whilst you might expect the cold to be a challenge, by the time Firebird sails up to Svalbard in May/June, the fjords will have thawed as the summer season starts and the temperatures will be between a more comfortable -7 to 3ºC. These kinds of temperatures are comparable to winter in Tromso, providing optimal skiing conditions.

Provisioning in particular will be an interesting challenge as there is only one supermarket in the main settlement of Longyearbyen, so we expect to see an exciting new menu developed by on board chef Mel for this location. 

Mel is looking forward to the adventure and commented that:

“Svalbard is one of the few locations left in the world that is largely untouched. This is truly one of the most raw wilderness experiences, with the benefit of a floating luxury chalet to come back to after a day spent exploring. Svalbard envelopes you in nature and the rare commodity of true peace and quiet.”

Navigating through this breathtaking archipelago will be interesting for the crew, as while the frozen fjords will have thawed the Captain will have to assess the conditions for ice carefully and will be dependent on the weather reports and local knowledge. The testing conditions for the crew doesn’t stop there. As explained by Ollie, the Captain: 

“To operate in this area, myself and Mountain Guide require a gun license for protection of the boat and guests from polar bears - slightly outside the box for your average yacht charter!”

Of course, the boat will have a mountain guide on board, with years of knowledge guiding in the area, to ensure your time in the wilderness is as enriching and safe as possible.

So whether it’s to enhance your landscape photography skills, ski untouched slopes, or have the chance to see the elusive Polar bear in its natural habitat, find your blend of bespoke adventure on Firebird. 

FIREBIRD IS TAKING BOOKINGS FOR 2019 SO CONTACT CHARTER@FIREBIRD-YACHTING.COM TO REGISTER INTEREST NOW!

MARCH-MAY 2019 - LYNGEN ALPS

MAY/JUNE 2019 - SVALBARD

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Svalbard has more Polar Bears than people

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Snowmobile is the best way to get around Svalbard

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Barentsburg, cole mine settlement on Svalbard

Exposé - The Guest

Firebird and Team are well into their Arctic Adventure season in Northern Norway.

Having completed our penultimate trip, we speak to one of our guests, Jonas, about his highlights whilst on board.

What attracted you to Sail & Ski in the Arctic?

Being a keen skier and growing up by the ocean means the combination of Sail & Ski is the perfect adventure for me. What attracted me to go on a ski trip in the Arctic is the majestic scenery and amazing skiing Lyngen has to offer. I had not visited the Lyngen area until my trip with Firebird, but I had heard great things and the trip definitely exceeded my expectations. The scenery is mind blowing and the skiing offers a wide variety of terrain from steep couloirs to wide open bowls for all levels of skiers.

Why is ski touring in Northern Norway so special?

It almost looks like the peaks of the alps were planted in the ocean, making Northern Norway very unique. I also believe that having access to a boat while in Lyngen really enhances the experience. It is much quicker and more comfortable to get around on Firebird and you can access places you are unable to get to if you travel by car.

What is your favourite thing about being on board Firebird?

The crew and the warm welcome you get every time you come back from a long ski tour! Being met by amazingly prepared snacks, cheese boards and cakes in the afternoon makes the experience onboard Firebird luxurious. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the staff really makes you feel part of a big family.

If you could pack one luxury item hiking up the mountain what would it be?

Electric boot warmers! Luckily, Firebird have these onboard so we start the day with toasty toes.

What was your favourite Arctic Activity besides skiing and sailing?

Being a dog owner (a Husky to be precise) I have to say that I am a big fan of the dogsledding. Next time I might bring my dog so he can pull me up the mountains and meet the thousands of friends in the area ;)

Firebird is taking bookings for 2019 so contact charter@firebird-yachting.com to register interest now!

March-May 2019 - Lyngen Alps
May/June 2019 - Svalbard

 Jonas with his dog, Flash.

Jonas with his dog, Flash.

 Morning onboard, skis at the ready.

Morning onboard, skis at the ready.

 Firebird sailing in Lyngsfjord in the afternoon.

Firebird sailing in Lyngsfjord in the afternoon.

Exposé - The Chef.

We speak to Mel about what it's like working as a chef in the Arctic.

What is it like provisioning in the Arctic?

Provisioning up here comes with its challenges! Including the crew as well as the guests, I am feeding up to 12 people, sometimes for as long as 12 days without anywhere to restock fresh produce! As the menu is bespoke to guest's preferences, I thoroughly plan in advance, which is essential when provisioning up here.

 

What’s your favourite meal to cook?

That’s a tough one! I really enjoy cooking with seasonal produce, so reindeer tenderloin, local sausage with a red wine jus and Lyngenberry sauce is a joy to cook. I took inspiration for this dish from a meal I had at Biffhuset. It was the first Norwegian dish I’d ever tried here after over 3000NM at sea. It tasted amazing and I knew I had to try and replicate it with my own spin. Otherwise, I love making sushi with the beautiful sushi grade salmon available.

 

 Do you use regular suppliers?

Yes. When we are docked at our home base in Tromsø I go to Dragøy Fishmongers which is a few hundred metres from the boat - can’t get fresher than that! Another favourite of mine is Helmersen Delikatesser which imports beautiful cheese and luxury condiments from around the world. Tatiana and Henrik who work there are full of knowledge about all of the produce (hi guys!) and now I’m on my second season up here it feels like popping in to see friends. It’s a highlight going in before each trip and seeing what they have. I only buy the Norwegian cheeses from them and make a huge cheeseboard for our guests to enjoy with a glass of port after a candlelit supper. The board on the last trip feature Lille Aske (Little Ash) which is a Norwegian cheese that won Super Gold in the most recent World Cheese Awards. Hand made from raw goat’s milk and covered with a layer of ash – it’s light, creamy and just divine!

 

What is your favourite thing about cruising the Arctic?

I think the peace and quiet is unrivalled to anywhere else. Coming from busy Mediterranean Summers up here is like taking the boat on a retreat. Sometimes we are located in areas where just 4 people live. Being so remote makes it feel very special. Whilst you’ll usually find me in the galley, sometimes I find myself taking a glimpse at something on deck that is only shared between those on board. Last year when the guests were on the mountain, I went on deck to get a spot of fresh air and there was a sea otter rolling about in the snow on the dock. It was much larger than I expected – about 1.5 metres. I was able to take five minutes in the quiet and watch it play. It’s these snippets of time which make the job incredible.  

 

Now you’ve been to the Arctic – where’s next?

We’ve sailed the boat 70 degrees North twice and it would be amazing to go even further! Ollie and I recently came back from Svalbard having been on a reccy to see what it would be like taking the boat up to the last settlement before the North Pole. Needless to say, it would be another ball game entirely up there, not least requiring a gun for protection from polar bears to collect provisions! It’s meeting the challenge which is rewarding, and for me, that’s what Firebird is all about.

 Variety of sushi made on board

Variety of sushi made on board

 Reindeer Tenderloin

Reindeer Tenderloin

 Norwegian Cheese Board with Freshly Baked Scandinavian Rye

Norwegian Cheese Board with Freshly Baked Scandinavian Rye

 Svalbard, snowmobiling in -15°C

Svalbard, snowmobiling in -15°C

Arctic Delivery - Part 2

And so the second leg of the sail to the Arctic commenced.. 

Firebird and team were met with a messy sea state and 30 knots of wind as they took their punt with the North Sea. Thankfully with reef 3 in the crew held fast amongst the oil rigs and low flying helicopters and made ground, hopping over towards the Norwegian coastline. 

36 hours down, having downloaded the latest grib file, Ollie made the call to duck in to Bergen in order to reset and allow an angry weather front of 60 knots pass and chaotic swell to die down. It also gave the crew a chance to eat a hearty meal without the risk of breaking waves into their bowls or walking up the bulk heads as they had been!

After meeting with Christoffer, Superyacht Services, to extend our thanks to them for their support in Norway from the 2017 season and for their continued help into this year the team set sail once again.

Fortunately the team made good progress with an average of 11 knots boat speed. As they approached the arctic circle, with layer upon layer of gear being added each watch as the temperatures started to reach sub zero until a steady minus eleven seemed the standard.

Once they had crossed the famous 66°33.00’N the team fell into a 2 hours on, 4 hours off watch pattern to attempt to stave off the cold and keep alert as the navigation picked up entering the fjords. 

Firebird entered Tromso with the last segment of daylight mid afternoon 8 days after leaving Ipswich, just allowing the team enough time to wash the salt water off the deck before the risk of an ice rink! To top it all off for their efforts the team were treated to a vivid display of the aurora borealis in the evening. Not bad for the first day on station!   

3385 NM done from the Mediterranean to the Arctic, its finally time for Ski and Sail 2018 season to start!!

We still have a some dates available so if interested please don’t hesitate to contact charter@firebird-yachting.com!

Arctic Delivery - Part 1 Complete!

Having departed from the shelter of Baiona on the Spanish west coast, the crew headed into biscay. Despite avoiding the worst of the weather system, the crew were still faced with 22knots on the nose and 8m swell. Having set a reef in the main and with the swell due to decrease over 12 hours, they cracked on. Needless to say there were a few green faces - but the less said about that the better! 

After 24 hours, as forecast, the wind and swell decreased well enough for Firebird to make some head way across the bay. By the time they reached the English Channel a strong south westerly of 33knots and tide with them saw Firebird hit 16 knots boat speed. The good luck sticking with them, the team made a speedy nip round the east corner of the UK, past the Thames and down the river Orwell, resembling more of a mill pond as the sun set. 

Just one last thing to navigate.. the bridge! Ipswich is known for having a concrete box girder bridge, not dissimilar to those found in the fjords of northern Norway. As night fell, Tim was hoisted up the rig to ensure that there was enough clearance with the tide. Good practice for some of the bridges in the arctic which have just 2 metre clearance. Fortunately, with more than enough clearance Firebird continued to pass through the lock, before entering Ipswich Haven Marina. 

Firebird and the team will start part two of their journey north in ten days time. Let’s see what the north sea has in store..

From Palma to Baiona

 

Having been at sea for 5 days, the team have ducked into the historical safe haven Port of Baiona to allow a weather system to pass and 10 metre swell to die down as a front of 40 knots moves across the bay of biscay.

The small town of Baiona goes from a modest population of 10,000 in the winter to 50,000 in the summer. Whilst set up for plenty of holidayers in season, it’s an unlikely stop for travellers in the winter. Other than a place of refuge for sailors looking to take on the bay of biscay. 

With 750nm miles left to sail to Ipswich the crew hope to set off again in the next 24 hours once the seas state is reduced. 

Firebird sets sail for the Ski & Sail holiday charter season in Tromso, Norway

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since our last blog so we thought we’d give you an update!

Our crew recently took Firebird through a yard period in Port Adriano where some standard maintenance jobs were carried out ahead of the winter ski and sail season.  Having completed all of our jobs we put our Oyster 885 back in the water where we then travelled on to our Palma home-base to prepare for the delivery trip to Ipswich, before heading on to Tromso, Norway.

Tim, Holly and Ollie transformed Firebird from summer to winter mode, including reinstalling our ski racks and boot warmers! It's set to be a fantastic season, with our friends at Boreal Yachting already enjoying everything sailing in the arctic has to offer - including the spectacular northern lights. Not long until we can share in the delights, just a small matter of 3000NM to sail first!

Our chef Mel has also been busy in the galley making sure the crew have hearty food to sustain and energise them as we sail to chillier climates in search of fresh backcountry snow.

To find out more about our fantastic winter Ski and Sail holidays click here!

That’s all for now!

The Firebird Crew

Firebird Ski & Sail expeditions featured in January edition of Boat International

We are delighted to feature in the latest edition of Boat International showcasing stunning imagery from Waterline Media during one of our Ski and Sail expeditions out of Tromsø, Norway. Click here to check out Boat International or find out more about our Ski and Sail tour packages here! #SailFirebird