Andy & Mia

Across the Atlantic Again // T-Minus 5 hours to ISBJORN’s Departure

19 Jan

Pretty damn good forecast for an east-west trans-Atlantic!

Pretty damn good forecast for an east-west trans-Atlantic!

T-minus 5 hours until departure. This will be our longest passage to date on ISBJORN, and the longest, mileage wise, of my entire sailing career. It’ll be Mia’s 5th trans-Atlantic, my 4th, and the 1st for the four crew – David, Walter, Etta & Fred – that joined us in Las Palmas two days ago for the voyage to Antigua. As I write it’s 8:10am, Mia’s making breakfast, the crew is stretching their legs one last time ashore in search of a shower, and I’m about to make the long walk down ...

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Champagne Sailing

11 Jan

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Nicky asked me earlier today about our passage south from the Chesapeake to the Caribbean in November. That one is one of the more challenging ocean passages, especially that time of year – 9 days, starts off cold, cross the Gulf Stream, etc.

”You’ll know for sure if you like ocean sailing after doing that one,” I told her. ”This passage right now, everybody like this!”

We’re five days into a warm, dry, downwind sail the whole way from Lagos. The boat’s been flat, the wind’s never been above 15 knots, there hasn’t been a drop of seawater on deck, ...

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Magic Dolphins

10 Jan

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0947. We’re approaching 24 hours straight with the spinnaker flying. After a few calm spells during the first two days (in which we averaged only about 130 miles per day), the wind finally filled in from the ENE yesterday morning and we’ve been cruisin’ ever since. Around the noon watch change on the 5th, we set the chute on starboard, trimmed it for a broad reach, and haven’t touched the sheets since, instead subtly adjusting the boat’s course with the variations in wind speed and direction.

Great sleeping weather! I woke up on my own at 0630 this morning, finally ...

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Wind Off, Wind On

10 Jan

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0521

Sailing again. After dropping all sails after dinner last evening to save them beating themselves to death in the windless swell, Mia & I re-hoisted the mainsail and set the genoa at 0345 this morning on a light easterly breeze and a calming sea. The stars are out, and the occasional cloud is visible quite clearly, the sky is so well backlit despite no moon. A single ship sailed off to the west as Mia went down below to bed and I poured myself my first cup of coffee for the remainder of her morning watch.

Happy 2019

Crew ...

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Jardim do Mar // Madeira’s Big Wave Surf Spot

21 Oct

  Surf’s up! 48-foot longboard…

Surf’s up! 48-foot longboard…

There’s a book called ‘Barbarian Days,’ a memoir on a surfing life that won the Pulitzer Prize. it’s excellent. In it, a small village on the SW coast of Madeira called Jardim do Mar is feature prominently. In the 80s and 90s it was called the Jewel of the Atlantic, a magical, often overlooked big-wave surf spot way off the beaten path and hard to get to. When the conditions were right, it was apparently one of the best waves in the world.

I’m no surfer, but I can relate to the culture and ...

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ICE BEAR // Crew Letter Announcing the Swan 59

21 Oct

  THINDRA en route across the Atlantic.

THINDRA en route across the Atlantic.

Greetings All Former & Future Sailing Crew!

It’s official – 59 North Sailing is now a two-boat operation! Starting February 1, 2019, ICE BEAR, German Frers-designed Swan 59, will be making offshore passages with Mia & I on the helm!

Firstly, we want to send a huge THANK YOU to all the crew who have sailed with us already, or who are set to sail with us in the future. And to those of you who gave us such positive feedback when we first emailed you this idea several weeks ago. In large ...

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Isbjorn in Madeira: A Local Futbol Game

24 Sep

  Mia sporting her new hat in Funchal.

Mia sporting her new hat in Funchal.

I did 10k this morning, starting along the waterfront behind the marina and working east, quickly realizing that beyond the 2 or 3 kilometers of the main drag, there are no flat areas for running in Funchal. Past the Porto Maria hotel I jogged through old-town and across cobblestones that challenged my ankle joints and the road crept ever upward. At times I was down to a walking pace – gradients in excess of 12% sort of required it. The sun was high in the sky at 10am, and hot, but I wanted ...

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Towards Madeira: Warm Weather Sailing at it’s Best!

23 Sep

  Unbelievable landfall in Madeira at sunset!

Unbelievable landfall in Madeira at sunset!

0527. Dark. You can see the Milky Way quite clearly. ISBJORN hurtles downwind under spinnaker. The sail is illuminated by the steaming light on the front of the mast to make it easier to trim at night. We’ve changed to a 4-on-4-off watch rotation, switching after dinner tonight, in order that Mia or myself is always up when the chute is up in the dark.

[Incidentally, after we arrived in Madeira, Andy posted this photo on Facebook, which started a very good discussion on COLREGS offshore, with comments from people like John Rousmaniere, Peter ...

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One Humongous Iceberg // Svalbard-Iceland Part 3

26 Aug

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July 20, 2018

The Home Stretch

2pm. Mia’s on watch in the rain. We’re only ten miles off the north side of Hornstrandir, but no land in sight yet. The fog has cleared, but the visibility is still too low to make out the mountains on the coast. Mia just re-led the genoa sheets to the outboard rail as the wind started backing into the east. We’ve got a bonus sail going now – no wind on the GRIBs to speak of, so we’ll take it. Linda & Jordan just woke up. I slept until noon. Taag and Dave are ...

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FOG // Svalbard-Iceland Part 2

25 Aug

 Dave & Taag on the watch en route to Iceland.

Dave & Taag on the watch en route to Iceland.

July 19, 2018

FOG

There has been more wind than the GRIBs have indicated, and for longer. Just a few days ago we started thinking about conserving fuel. Motoring at 1500 RPM instead of 1800 to squeeze our every last hour, thinking it’d be mostly a motorboat ride to Iceland. Right now, at 0700 on a Thursday morning, it’s blowing 15-18 from the NW and Isbjorn is beam-reaching through the mist at 8 knots, urged south by the favorable East Greenland current. We can’t see where we’re going, but we’re ...

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