Andy & Mia

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

Megaberg Andy Mia OHHH_Andy Photos.jpg

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


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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Escaping Spitsbergen // Svalbard-Iceland Part 1

23 Aug

Mia Driving FAST_3_Andy Photos.jpg

June 18, 2018

When we have wind, we’re making the miles. It’s 1100 on Wednesday July 18 as I write. Mia’s on watch. James just woke up and is in his bunk on the port (high) side, editing photos on his laptop. Jordan just woke up. Isbjorn is enveloped in thick fog. I’m at the nav station with one eye on the radar. We’re under full sail, the big genoa pulling in a ten-knot southeasterly and utterly flat calm sea.

I slept through the night, not waking up until 1000 this morning. The wind filled in after dinner and it’s ...

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“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat” // 59 North Gets a Swan 59

18 Aug


It’s official – 59 North Sailing is now a two-boat operation! Starting in February, 2019, ICE BEAR (ex THINDRA), a German Frers-designed Swan 59, will be making offshore passages with Mia & I on the helm! Yep, you heard right – a 59-footer for 59 North ;)

I’m hoping that this news is received with both surprise and support – adding a second boat to our passage program is a huge leap of faith, but something that we feel is almost inevitable as we build upon the success of our first four years with ISBJORN, our beloved Swan 48. ...

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ICE BEAR // Swan 59 Q&A With Isbjorn Crewmember Dan

18 Aug

Swan 59 Deck Layout.png

Note: Dan is Isbjorn’s oldest and most loyal crew. He was aboard for our first-ever passage to Lunenburg in 2015, and has sailed with us many times since. He was one of the first to hear the news about the new boat, and had a lot of questions for us! I’ve published our answers here:

  1. How will you break it to Mia ;)

    Very funny!

  2. You just refit Isbjorn. Why the new boat? What are your plans for Isbjorn?  

    You know me, always up for a challenge! The main reason is from the success of this summer and

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Mission in the Hills & 80º NORTH // Delos in the Arctic Part 11

19 Jul

Andy Helm Ice Magdafjord_2500px.jpg

We got ashore around 7 pm and tied up the dinghy to a giant whalebone on the stony beach, keeping her offshore with a stern anchor and starting up the steep slope to the hill just west ofIsbjorn’s anchorage. Large polar bear tracks led west in the snow across the little saddle towards the archipelago on the other side. We made the ridge in a few minutes and walked further south for a view over the alpine lake, which feeds a little waterfall that plunges down towards the anchorage. The lake, on July 1, was frozen solid and covered in ...

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Holmiabukta Revisited & Arctic Swimming // Delos in the Arctic Part 10

16 Jul

Mag Fjord _2500px.JPG

We’re back in Holmiabukta, my favorite anchorage in Spitsbergen so far, in the island’s NW Corner as it’s known in the local parlance. Mia is trying to figure out the labeling on the water tanks – we all showered yesterday and didn’t run the watermaker in the silty water, so all but one of the tanks (plus the bladder tank) is empty. The labels got screwed up when we re-did the plumbing, so it’s a matter of trial and error now finding the full tank.

We left Texas Bar at midnight on Saturday morning, knowing there’d be a westerly wind ...

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