Is it true news that “NOAA wants to stop making NOAA charts”?

30 May

Written by Ben Ellison on May 30, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I’m a longtime fan of Landfall Navigation and I’m sure their intentions were good when they emailed this call to action Friday afternoon. But please don’t file a comment or call your congressman without looking deeper into the “news” that NOAA plans to discontinue all (paper-chart-like) raster files. In my read the end of rasters is only a far future possibility suggested in a recently published National Charting Plan that has some real meat (discussed below), and I’d be flabbergasted if it happened soon, or ever ...

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Isbjorn Offshore: Astro Push-ups & Spinnaker Blasting

30 May

29 May, 2017


Mia’s in the galley making oatmeal, and it’s a good morning for making oatmeal indeed. Low, scudding grey clouds hang over the boat and horizon. A damp, cool westerly breeze. Droplets of dew on everything, stuck fast to the crystallized salt that cakes most parts of the boat after nearly two weeks at sea. The Portuguese man-o-wars continue to glide by our stern in regular procession. Sea turtles eat them, I’m pretty sure.

I’m in black sweatpants and a black t-shirt, doing morning exercises in the cockpit. Mostly ‘sumo squats’ and what Mia & I have ...

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193: Webb Chiles RECYCLED

29 May

Greetings from Bermuda, where we recently made landfall on Isbjorn! This week’s recycled episode features Webb Chiles, certainly one of the most adventurous small boat sailors in recent memory, if not one of the greatest. He’s been around the world several times, cross the Pacific in an open boat, nearly drowned when he fell overboard off Florida and on and on. He’s written several books about his adventures over the years, and indeed continues to make new adventures. I spoke to him a few years back about his exploits, why he pursues them, how he handles fear, what motivates him ...

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Isbjorn a Offshore: An Ocean Thick with Phosphorescence

28 May

28 May, 2017


I put too much hot sauce on my leftover rice & beans just now. ‘Jack’s Bay Pepper Sauce’ from St. Croix. Really tasty, but runnier than anticipated out of the bottle, which I shook with a tad too much fervor. My lips are tingly.

Isbjorn is running down the miles on the home stretch. 300 miles to Horta. Under another dark black sky, just a few stars peaking out through some misty cloud cover, she veritably FLIES along, touching double-digit surfs and doing a steady 8.5 in the lulls. We bravely have the spinnaker up, ‘Ol ...

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Isbjorn Offshore: A Mid-Ocean Swim

27 May

Thursday May 25

Midnight watch. A new day. Wind WSW 10-15. Isbjorn is running at 6.5 knots on starboard, the genoa poled out to weather, rolling in an annoying cross swell still leftover from Monday’s gale.

I have the first half (0000-0200), Mia will come on for the second half. Unless I’m feeling particularly inspired, in which case I’ll stay up longer. We enacted this new ‘shared’ watch routine for the two of us to allow each some time alone in the cockpit at night. It’s the part I like best about offshore sailing, and what I’d been missing ...

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The Future is Here – embrace it

25 May
The Volvo Ocean Race – wet all the way

It has been a week since the Volvo Ocean Race made their big announcement in Sweden about the future of the event and I have found it interesting to read all the comments both for and against their proposed changes. Was it Abraham Lincoln who said “You can fool some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time?” I think it was him ...
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Isbjorn Offshore: A Black, No Horizon Night

24 May

May 21, 0900

Low, grey clouds overhead. They’re moving off to our right, carried by the chilly northerly wind. A few hints of blue sky are visible to the north. Thane & Brenda are on watch. It’s dry outside, but cool. They’re in fully foulies, gloves & wool hats. The wind has a bite to it, especially without the warming sun overhead. It’s a proper North Atlantic day today.

Isbjorn romps east on 60 degrees apparent under small sails – triple-reefed mainsail & double-reefed genoa, the staysail rigged and furled on the foredeck just in case. We’re slightly under-canvassed now, ...

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Isbjorn Offshore: Moseying Downwind

24 May

May 18, 1000

The wind is sloooowly filling in from the NNW. We motored all night after trying to tack offshore once through Town Cut, 18 hours in total, setting sail finally at 0400 this morning. When the sea is flat we can make 4-5 knots in only 6-7 knots apparent, close-reaching. When the odd wave slews the boat around the sails slat and we slow right down. The forecast is in our favor though – if it holds true, it looks like we’ll have wind, and behind us, for the next ten days…


All hands on deck for ...

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Isbjorn Offshore: Riding the Azores High

24 May

Before we dive into the start of our trans-Atlantic, let’s recap our arrival and layover in Bermuda. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out a few videos we posted on our Instagram ( and Facebook pages ( – they show better than I can tell how it went down.

We had a SERIOUSLY gnarly arrival in Bermuda, the wind building and building from the SW as we made landfall south of Gibb’s Hill light. We made it all the way on celestial, so it was special seeing the lighthouse appear before the dawn right where ...

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