The Recreational Mariner's Guide

3. Svalbard


The information below is in addition to that presented in the Norway Stopping chapter; some of which also applies to Svalbard.


Docks are only available in Longyearbyen, Ny Ålesund and Barentsburg. It may be possible to tie up at Pyramiden with difficulty.



Wind speed and direction, and drifting glacier ice conditions, are often extremely local, and a shift of anchorage of even a few miles may bring dramatically different conditions. With no darkness to complicate a move should conditions change, it is possible to use an anchorage which would not feel comfortable on a dark night; however, wind and drifting ice conditions can change rapidly, something to keep in mind if leaving your boat unattended while on a shore expedition. Anchoring in the least depth available will help to limit the size of ice which can drift into the boat.

Bottom Conditions

We had no difficulty getting our 55-kg Spade anchor to set except for in one anchorage at Heleysundet in Hinlopenstretet that had very thin mud. (In this type of bottom no anchor will be able to find purchase but will slowly drag backwards when under load from the engine.)

Many anchorages are foul with thickly-growing kelp. When setting the anchor it is essential that the anchor get stuck into the bottom and not just get caught in a thick mass of kelp. A long, sharp, serrated bread-knife, along with a boat hook, can be useful for clearing kelp from the anchor on retrieval.

We highly recommend having an alternate anchorage in mind in case your initial choice doesn’t work out.


The best shelter is found behind low moraine spits, which break the waves without causing gusting of the wind. Anchoring in the lee of high, steep mountains often leads to severe, even dangerous, gusting.

There are good anchorages at Bjørnøya on both the east and west sides of the island; however, they are all open in at least one direction and will rapidly become uncomfortable or dangerous in an onshore wind.