Passage notes: Ascension to Barbados, part I

9 Apr

Totem has been heading west for five days now. So far it’s been a beautiful passage: more gentle breezes than squalls, more pretty sunsets than gray skies.

Departure Day

I make a last run to shore, to mail a few postcards, try to visit a few people we met, and grab a last hour of wifi from the hotel before our weeks at sea. The RMS St Helena was in port during the weekend and fresh produce (well, fresh when it left Cape Town, at least a week and a half ago) should be on the shelves. Score! We have $3 avocadoes, some tomatoes, and apples.…

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Cuba Ho! Becalmed in the Straights of Florida…

8 Apr

April 8, 7:52am

23, 19 N / 080, 23 W

The sun is rising just off Isbjorn’s starboard quarter. Greg and I are on watch, one hour yet to go. This is the best watch, the transition from night to day, another 24 hours in the bank. The ocean here, now into the Straights of Florida, is mirror calm. You could easily slalom ski.

It’s been motor-on-motor-off for the past 24 hours, and it looks like the pattern might continue for the next. So far, including charging the batteries, we’ve run the engine 28 hours, about 10-12 of that actually under way and propelling us forward.

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Guest Post: Liz K. (the intern: POV)

7 Apr

I’m sitting on the plane for my flight back to NYC, scheduled to land at 11:59pm. Other than the mild anxiety due to the turbulence I don’t know how to feel right now. It feels like so recently I found this passion for ocean sailing and forever that I have had a passion for the sea – yet my dreams are coming true. I feel eager to finish college with as best grades as I can manage with all of the day dreaming I will be doing. This Antigua – Puerto Rico trip does not feel real. All that I know is that I have to get back out there and I am grateful.…

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Light Air Sailing in the Old Bahama Channel

7 Apr

April 7, 4:03am
22 36′ N, 077, 56′ W

Greg and I are on watch. I just had my second cup of coffee, and Greg just re-appeared from the galley with his. Isbjorn is meandering along the north side of the shipping lanes in the Old Bahama Channel, about three miles off the Grand Bahama Bank, sailing slow with just the mainsail up (the jib was slatting too much). In these parts the depths go from the thousands of feet in the channel to less than 20 feet, in under two miles. Some wild underwater topography. The loom of some unknown town in Cuba is visible off to the left, and there’s a lighthouse over yonder too.

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Weather and communications on the passage

7 Apr

PW screenshot

If you’re following along, you know we left Ascension Island a few day ago. Now, most of passages over time seem to top out around five days. We’ve had a few longer ones (especially in the Indian Ocean), but that’s pretty typical at the high end, and mostly they range closer to about three days.

This passage, from Ascension to Barbados, will take around three weeks. It’s about 3,000 nautical miles: slightly longer than our longest passage to date, from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Hiva Oa, French Polynesia, six years ago this month (time flies!).

Food: check. Books: check. Movies/podcasts: check.…

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Iris NightPilot, Humminbird SmartStrike, Vesper AIS update, and Icom 7300 HF Radio

7 Apr

Written by Adam Hyde on Apr 7, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Iris NightPilot thermal camera at Fort Lauderdale Boat Show 2015Stormtroopers will be pleased with a new value-priced gyro stabilized thermal camera from Iris Corporation. The Iris255 NightPilot looks like an accessory from Star Wars and includes some pretty hi-tech wizardry considering its $4,895 suggested retail price. Specs include 320 x 240 resolution, 8x digital zoom, and built-in heater with automatic temperature control for cold conditions. And since Panbo wondered if the Iris NightRunner PTZ cam “was too good to be true,” the company seems to have established itself as a serious player in lower priced thermal cameras…

Iris thermal imagery white hotThis photo shows similar Iris thermal imagery when the NightPilot was introduced at the Fort Lauderdale boat show.

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Mid-day swim and afternoon breeze

6 Apr

April 5 2016 14.20 (2.20 pm)
21 19′ N / 073 19′ W

A happy crew on Isbjorn today despite the lack of wind the last 12 hours. As forecasted the wind was predicted to get light during the night and it did. Rob & I held off and kept sailing on our watch during sunset. It wasn’t until 0200 on Dennis and Fred’s watch that the boat actually came to a stop and we officially ran out of wind. The engine was turned on and sails taken down to prevent them from chafing.

Rob and I are watch partners and after our 0300-0600 watch this morning I went down for a quick nap and didn’t wake up until 4 hours later!

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Behind the Ad Music with Cameron Deyell BONUS

5 Apr

Hey hey hey, welcome back to 59º North! This is a bonus episode this week, a little look behind the scenes at how some of this stuff is produced. If you listen to the podcast to get your sailing fix for the week, this is definitely not the episode for you. BUT, if you’re a real fan of the show itself, and interested in podcasting – or musical production – in general, this is an incredible look behind the scenes with me and Cameron Deyell, on how the ad music was produced.

You might recall my chat with Cameron from episode 93.…

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Offshore to Havana: Trade wind sailing

4 Apr

Aboard Isbjorn it’s all fun and games. We just wrapped up a scrambled egg breakfast and are sailing wing on wing at 8.1 knots. By the time we hit the 48 hour mark, we’ll have sailed 350 miles, a blistering pace. And it’s effortless!

We ended up departing Fajardo on Saturday the 2nd, a day ahead of plan. The crew – Rob, Dennis, Fred & Greg – had all arrived by early afternoon, so we had plenty of time on Friday to go over the boat, complete the safety briefing, discuss the passage plan and even have a brewski or two!

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Ascension Island: remote South Atlantic

4 Apr

ascension island view from green mountain

ascension pinterest postUninhabited before it was encountered by Portuguese sailors in the 1500s, Ascension’s lonely position in the middle of, well, more or less nowhere in the South Atlantic made it a place of strategic importance since. In the age of commerce under sail, it was a place to water up (once a source was found) and provision (initially by hunting green turtles, which nest in Ascension by the thousands; goats were left later, and farms cultivated).

A British Overseas Territory, Ascension has never technically been settled, as St Helena has, but has hosted residents since the English installed garrisons in the early 1800s as a precaution against attempted escape by Napoleon from his nearby exile.…

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