Sophie & her watch mate Rob driving Isbjorn through the North Sea.
Note from Andy & Mia: Sophie sailed with us on Isbjorn from Sweden to Scotland in May 2018, our first passage of the Arctic season. She’s a 30-something from France who lives in Stockholm with her partner Ryan, another 30-something from Iowa. They recently bought a Beneteau & are about to start a cruise from Stockholm to the Med, their first. Sophie came with us, like many do, to get some experience before setting out on their own. Here, in her own words, is what she learned.
What ... Read More
No wind, but look at that scenery!
The mountains alone this rugged coast of Norway appeared a little bit before we crossed the Arctic Circle on May 24. They remained with us for the duration of the passage up to Bodø, another 60 miles to the northeast or so. What didn’t remain was the wind.
We used as much diesel on this passage as we have on any passage really, running on fumes off our big tank as we motored the last few miles into the harbor. The trade-off was the spectacularly calm ocean. The silvery light from an overcast ... Read More
At 0459 this morning, Isbjorn and her crew crossed 66º 33’ north latitude, and entered the Arctic. I’d have preferred to do it under sail of course, but motor-sailing on an oily calm sea, the mountains of northern Norway in the background standing watch in the silvery morning light…well, it ain’t that bad!
This feels really exciting. In all of the sailing we’ve done to this point, this feels like the biggest accomplishment. We were only 30 miles off the mainland coast, closer still to some off-lying islands (all of which were in sight), but crossing that boundary line where ... Read More
Isbjorn covered 190 miles in the first 24 hours from Lerwick! Laura & Dick (helm) driving through some big winds & seas on Day 1.
Sun’s out (gun’s out!). Can’t ask for a better day on the ocean, especially in these parts. Wind is 12-15 from the north. Isbjorn is bombing northeast close-hauled & making 6-7 knots on a flat sea glittering full of diamonds in the afternoon sunshine. A handful of high cirrus give some texture to an otherwise sparkling clear blue sky. Tom & Rick are on watch, Laura is sleeping on the high side pilot bunk in ... Read More
Isbjorn in Kirkwall, Orkney at sunset.
Isbjorn’s new crew will arrive in about 40 minutes. Mia & I have finished cleaning up the boat. Yesterday Mia did a HUGE provisioning run. I decanted a few bottles of propane into our American tanks. We went running in our downtime, ate Indian food last night for dinner and enjoyed the variable weather that is Orkney. I filled the outboard with the last of gas so I can top it off at the gas station, then proceeded to drop the outboard’s gas cap into the water behind the boat. Good thing that only ... Read More
The ‘fushing’ harbor in Stromness, the other town on Mainland.
Yesterday’s weather was Scottish! We awoke to a steady drizzle, the decks soaked and the dock covered in puddles. By noon the sun was out, but the temperature had plummeted. A few hours later, the sun remained, but the air was warm, folks in town walking the streets of Kirkwall wearing t-shirts. By dinnertime, the fog had rolled in and you couldn’t see the end of the dock.
I went for a run while Mia cooked dinner, following the road along the waterfront that wound it’s way towards the east ... Read More
S/V Isbjorn Departs from Sweden
1440 Ship’s Time. Overcast and damp outside, wind from the ESE at 10-12 knots, just enough to keep the sails full on a broad reach, though annoyingly so. Our 3rd day at sea since leaving Skagen has just begun. Ben is on watch, with Brian out there with him (he was hot in the cabin when we had the heater on).
I was more anxious than usual at the beginning of this passage, probably due to a combination of first-passage-of-the-season nerves and the reality of the enormity of the summer we’ve set up for ourselves ... Read More
Mia at the helm of Isbjorn’s first shakedown sail on April 20 in Sweden.
April 24, 2018: I’m writing from the dock in Strömstad, a Swedish summer city on the west coast, just south of the border with Norway. It’s April 24, two weeks to the day since we first moved back aboard the newly refit Isbjörn.
I’ve been hesitant to write anything about the process, mainly because we just haven’t had time. Anybody who commissions a boat in the springtime knows how much work is involved in just getting her liveable, especially when temperatures are still below freezing at ... Read More
Note from Andy:
“This post was written by our friend and Isbjorn’s racing skipper Paul Exner, of moderngeographic.com. Paul writes from Chiapas, Mexico, where he’s onboard his Cape George Cutter ‘Solstice,’ that he built himself. He’s en route to Hawaii, relocating his family after Hurricane Irma destroyed their home and way of life on Tortola in the BVI. Family & heavy weather is on Paul’s mind as he readies ‘Solstice’ to cross the Pacific…
How Paul Exner Thinks About Heavy Weather Sailing
Heavy Weather Sailing is an unavoidable and necessary part of being a yachtsman. Either you embrace it and ... Read More
Inside the main workshop at Vindö.
On Sunday Mia & I made the pilgrimage to the west coast of Sweden to check in on Isbjörn for the first time since September. That was the last time we had seen the boat. Back then, she was still afloat, her rig standing, but stripped bare of sails and gear, on deck and down below. We’d emptied nearly everything off the boat in anticipation of the big winter refit. Sometime in late September, after we’d gone back to the USA for boat show in Annapolis, the gang at Vindö Marin pulled the rig ... Read More