A drop of sweat forms on my frowning brow as the temperature onboard Isbjörn surpasses 30 degrees. I have no more layers to shed without my dignity decency going with it, and there are still many degrees of latitude until we reach our tropical destination.
There are numerous reasons for these horrendous temperatures. One is the gulf stream, bringing up hot water from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to my distant homeland of Norway. There are also these winds out of the south that we’re currently trying to beat around. They bring toasty, humid air from the tropics. And then there is Martha in the galley, who keeps a steady flow of hot buns and cookies coming from the oven. They make it all worth it.
It’s only four days since we cast off our lines in Annapolis, wearing hats and thermals. Reluctant to leave her home port under her new, strange commander, Isbjörn had settled deep in the mud, and we dredged a new channel in the harbor leaving the dock. We could not have asked for a better start for our adventure. 20 knots from the NNE propelled us down the bay under a brilliant sun, and me and Isbjörn quickly became the best of friends.
After a busy night of gybing our way through shipping and shoals, the sea opened up before us. Our final destination was Tortola, some 1500 miles away. To set us up for a nice beam reach trough the trades, we set our course way north, just south of Bermuda. We motored through a calm on the first night offshore, and then the wind and the current set in from the SW as we hit the gulf stream at sunrise. Took us almost a day of beautiful downwind sailing to get through, and when the current disappeared, so did the wind. We spent half of yesterday motoring sailing, stopping only for a quick swim and a wash in the lukewarm, 16000 feet deep ocean.
In the forenoon, a fascinating and rare astronomical event took place; the transit of the planet Mercury. A very important event in the history of astronomy and ocean navigation. James Cook’s famous expedition to the Pacific hundreds of years ago was made to observe this very phenomenon, to better aid mariners determine their position at sea through celestial observations. Crew member and Astronomer Mark fashioned a really neat pinhole camera telescope from a nautical chart that allowed us to observe the event safely and fashionably.
Later that evening, as our sails were filling again and Martha’s third batch of bakery hit the table, the cockpit exploded in excitement. Soofer’s enormous fishing rod, a gift from Admiral Andy currently deployed on Isbjörns stern, was bending and squealing loudly. Ben reeled in a beautiful fish, and the freshly baked buns were accompanied by even fresher Mahi-mahi sashimi to form a strange, but splendid supper for the crew.
Today, we’re close-hauled on the wind, trying to get as much south into our easting as possible. Waiting for an overdue lift to help us clear Bermuda and set us up nicely for our run down to the BVI. We’re expecting a cold front passing tomorrow afternoon, and a sweet, following wind right behind it. Some of the crew are a little nervous about the frontal passage, and the rough weather it might bring. As well they might. But man, how I look forward to some colder wind on my face!
Skipper August Sandberg
This article was syndicated from 59º North Sailing // 59º North Blog