Amphibious Trilogies

Customs, borderlines, ports of entry

Day 1 on the Arctic Floating University Expedition
Saturday 22 June 2019

Setting off from the dock Prof. M diesels southwards along the Northern Divna River where we see Arkhangelsk from the water.

The ship stops in the middle of the river close to the University for the Customs and Immigration officials to come aboard. In the long wait we use the time to set up a game camera (Little Acorn 5) on the mast to capture photos of the voyage at regular intervals. Once onboard our passports and visas are submitted, we are confined to our designated cabins for customs checks.

Boredom sets in. All at once everything seems so pensive. Eventually we get our passports back. The customs boat leaves. At about 18.00 hrs a pilot boat guides us out of the harbour through the Severodvinskiy Bridge (top photo), the gateway to the White Sea. To my eyes the bridge becomes the horizon steadily moving towards the ship.

On the shore are factories, wastelands and rafts of timber tethered by the shore that serves wood processing plants. Thunder storms roll in the background. The water is calm.

The river swings like a serpentine’s gait, making it difficult to fathom out the lay of the land, which is so very flat. I strike up a conversation with Andrey Todorov from the Moscow Linguistic University. He will be holding lectures of the Law of the Sea in Arctic in the outward bound voyage to Svalbard. He pointed out several sites, amongst them city of Severodvinsk located just 35km from Arkhanglesk on the edge of the delta’s mouth, and the military shipyards serving submarines and ships alongside the river.

In the hinterland we spot youths having a party on the shore. Most probably they may be the only humans we will see before we arrive on Barentsburg, the first landing on Svalbard.

23.00 pm I’m still on the deck. We leave the delta with a pilot boat guiding us out into the White Sea. And indeed, a person at the steering wheel of the pilot boat waves to me. Half an hour later the ship enters the open sea. The sea is calm. The temperature drops. Though I have seen phenomenal lightscapes since arriving in Arkhangelsk nothing has captured me like I experience right now, alone on the bow with only the company of few ships passing by, some seabirds and one lonesome buoy. Tranquility, that’s what it is. This expansion, extending, stretching out.


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.