ISBJORN Trans-Atlantic p. 4 // Roll the ol’ Chariot Along

15 Feb

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We’ll roll the ol’ chariot along
We’ll roll the ol’ chariot along
We’ll roll the ol’ chariot along
And we’ll all hang on behind.

You understand where those words come from on a passage like this. Downwind for days, eatin’ up the miles. That’s of course from the classic sea shanty, A Drop of Nelson’s Blood. Appropriate given that we’re headed towards Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, the home of the British Naval fleet under the man. ISBJORN’s still rollin’ along to the southwest at the start of our 5th day at sea, closing in on the Cape Verde islands still some 250 miles distant.

If you count the two cups of “Death Wish” I had this morning at 0200, I’m on my 4th cup of coffee for the day. I drink a lot of coffee offshore, but that’s more than usual, even for me. My brain is buzzing and I only just woke up.

Mia trying to keep the morning sun off her face.

Mia trying to keep the morning sun off her face.

The day’s are starting to fade together now, finally. Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? The 22nd or 23rd? I know cause the iPad is telling me, but it doesn’t feel like I know. I had to stop and think this morning if it was the start of the 4th or 5th day at sea. I like that feeling – it means I’m getting past that first stage of any voyage, the preparation and departure stage, where you’re still on a landlubbers schedule, still tuned in to the rhythm of shore life. This morning, though, I’m starting to feel a different vibe, that transition into, as I call it, the philosophical middle portion of a voyage, where time distorts a little bit and is no longer the best measuring stick.

On most of our trips, the start of day 5 would be landfall day, if we hadn’t already arrived. Rarely do we sail passages of over 1,000 miles, and even then that’s only a week at sea. So you barely get a taste of that middle part before getting sucked into the final stage, arrival, where you’re no longer in the moment but rather anticipating that juicy cheeseburger and ice cold beer at a barstool that isn’t swaying. Don’t get me wrong, that moment right there is arguably why anyone goes to sea at all – it’s undeniably the most satisfying part of any passage, long or short.

View from the forepeak cabin under spinnaker. Not a bad place to nap on a nice downwind day!

View from the forepeak cabin under spinnaker. Not a bad place to nap on a nice downwind day!

But that middle stage is why I keep coming back. If you don’t enjoy that, if you can’t enjoy that, can’t stop counting the minutes, hours and days the landlubber way, by the hands of the clock, then you’ll never understand the life at sea. That’s okay of course, it’s not for everyone. But for those who feel that subtle change in the passage of time after a few days offshore, that’s why we do it.

Someone once made an analogy about taking psychedelic drugs versus committing to a practice of meditation. Like blasting off into outer space on a rocket ship versus sailing across an ocean, both methods will get you where you want to go, one just takes a lot more patience and discipline.

Off we go.

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This article was syndicated from 59º North Sailing // 59º North Blog


  1. Frederick G Lange

    Just outstanding photos you use a drone? Miss sailing had a Norseman 447 sailed LA, CA to Oyster Bay NY in ’93 now only look at boats in Northport Harbor where I live as a widower Have a blast U2

  2. Mike

    Doing what I hoped we would be doing after we had our boat for 5 yrs ! But life got in the way ! Wish you all the best ! I miss the open ocean so much ! Been to Australia, back to Hooland, then to USA via ocean liner ! Long ago ! Keep Keeping on ! My soul is with you !

  3. Greg M.

    You both are so very fortunate to have like interests. Your journeys prove the old adage “Nothing ventured,,, Nothing gained”.

  4. RjW

    Nice analogy with the psychedelic to to meditation. Sam Harris podcast of an interview with Michael Pollan would be enjoyable at sea, I’ll reckon.

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