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The Aurora Borealis


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About this observation
Alan Tough
Time of observation
16/03/2019 - 21:12
Observing location
Just inside the Arctic Circle
L-series 17-40 mm lens
4 seconds @ f/5 and ISO-3200.
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Members will have watched the events recently when the "MV Viking Sky" came close to disaster off the Norwegian coast. Alan Tough and his wife Anne were aboard, and Alan has sent this fine image, and a first hand account of the events.

On 15th March my wife Anne and I set off from a very wet Bergen and headed north "in search of the northern lights". We were on the MV Viking Sky. On the night of 16th we crossed over the Arctic Circle. The sky soon cleared and we were treated to a fantastic auroral display. I also saw some auroral activity on the following three nights, but the first night's display was definitely the best. By day the snow-covered mountains were spectacular.

On the return leg to Stavanger we were supposed to call in to Bodø, but couldn’t because the weather was so bad. And so to Saturday 23rd March. At around 2 p.m., just at the peak of the storm, the ship arrived at Hustadvika, a notorious 10-nautical-mile stretch of coast known as Norway’s Bermuda Triangle. In winds gusting up to 50 m.p.h and waves up to 30 feet, the ship dived into a deep trough and all four engines stopped.  We were less than 100 metres from submerged rocks. The crew dropped two anchors to stop us drifting any further towards those rocks. Within half an hour they managed to get one of the engines started again and we were able to move away from immediate danger. Then the bow of the ship was turned to face the oncoming waves.  

There soon followed a massive rescue operation. Conditions were too bad to launch the lifeboats. Tugs were sent to support the ship and helicopters started to airlift passengers to Kristiansund and Molde. By the time they stopped the airlifts, around 480 passengers had been winched off the ship. The rest of us spent 26 hours in our muster stations. The ship limped into Molde on Sunday evening. It was only then that we fully realised just what a close call we had.

According to investigators, the reason for the engine failure was low lube oil pressure due to the weather conditions.

Welcome home, both...........


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