Andy & Mia

Farthest North! Isbjorn Crosses the Arctic Circle

24 May

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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 ...

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Two Days Offshore from Shetland towards Norway

24 May

  Isbjorn covered 190 miles in the first 24 hours from Lerwick! Laura & Dick (helm) driving through some big winds & seas on Day 1.

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 ...

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Towards the Arctic & Video from the North Sea

16 May

  Isbjorn in Kirkwall, Orkney at sunset.

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 ...

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Five Days on Mainland, Orkney

13 May

  The 'fushing' harbor in Stromness, the other town on Mainland.

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 ...

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Approaching Orkney

7 May

 S/V Isbjorn Departs from Sweden

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 ...

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Refitting Isbjorn // 2018’s First Shakedown Sail

24 Apr

  Mia at the helm of Isbjorn's first shakedown sail on April 20 in Sweden.

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 ...

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Heavy Weather Sailing // Thoughts from Paul Exner

5 Apr

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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 ...

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Isbjorn’s Big Refit in Sweden: First Look Since September

10 Jan

Inside the main workshop at Vindö.

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 ...

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The State of ‘Isbjorn’ Sailing in 2018 // Essay Podcast

2 Jan

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Note: Today’s LONG blog post is also today’s podcast episode/essay. Tune in and hear Andy narrate all of what follows in episode #221 of On the Wind. Subscribe to the show via iTunes or your favorite podcast app. Or, click the player below to stream from the website or download to your desktop. The text, with lots of photos, is below.


It’s been a LONG time since I talked much about the business on here, and, now three years in (almost) and at the dawn of a new year, I feel like this is as good a time as any. ...

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South Pacific Memories (& a Future?)

29 Dec

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I get inspired to write when reading a really good book. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan. Won the Pulitzer Prize. The book is about, quite literally, what the title suggest. It also dredges up a LOT of nostalgia in me. I just finished reading a section on Fiji, in the 1970’s, when the author and his buddies discovered Tavarua, in Fiji.

I was there too, LONG after it was discovered, off the coast of Nadi, south of the Mamanuca’s, where I first met Clint and his brother Glenn, the first meeting on that trip that would ...

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