Slipping off the map

Today we slipped off the map … quite literally as it happens. The electronic charts we use for general navigation end rather abruptly at 79°50’N. Naturally this transition (from comfortably knowing our exact location to the somewhat daunting job of translating our position from radar bearings onto the paper chart) happened smack bang in the middle of some tricky navigation through the Svenskegattet. After a little nervous triple checking however, the idea of reverting to paper charts as the primary navigation aid is rather appealing – as we sail through these northern fjords it seems like we are not so far removed from the early whalers that once plied their trade here. Things have changed of course – the whales were hunted virtually to extinction so no blows brush the horizon, and the ice that made these waters perilous is conspicuously absent. But still there is a sense of adventure and exploration up here in the far north – Svalbard lies to our south, glaciers tumble down the valleys, our compass shifts listlessly at this latitude, and we both have huge grins on our faces.

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