'The downwind run from the Azores to Scotland'. Not at all as we expected, this trip has been the one that we thought we would encounter the most weather of the year and we had prepared their crew for it. In Ponta Delgada the day before departure the long-term weather forecast looked to good to be true. We started of with an evening and night of motoring but pretty quickly the wind picked up from behind and we sailed downwind most of the way. Due to some light wind and that we were head of schedule we decided on a quick stop in the Aren Islands just of Galway Bay in Ireland.
Isbjorn is north of 50 degrees north and continuing! Read about accomplishing boat projects at sea, rolly-waves, and varying visibility.
Isbjorn sails downwind, wing on wing on starboard tack, one reef in the mainsail and the genoa sheeted to the end of the spinnaker pole, furled in just enough to keep the foot flat and not banging around as she rolls in the gentle swell.
All of the ARC Europe boats are heading towards Portugal so Isbjorn is all alone bound for Scotland. Here is an update discussing lone sailing in lumpy seas, chilly cockpit showers, and a boat-wide clean-up!
Part Two of Isbjorn crew 'Mac's' trans-Atlantic blog, part of his round-the-world by land and sea journey. "The strongest winds we saw peaked at 44 knots, with 34 knots sustained over several hours, which are really strong, creating 15 to 18 foot swells. That is classified as a gale. It was a big weather system on a small boat in the middle of the night, and I enjoyed the adrenaline-charged thrill of being at the helm on night-watch during part of this. It was a “Lieutenant Dan” storm, if you remember Forrest Gump. As reported previously- an ocean is a damned awesome thing, y’all."
The following is an excerpt of our crewmember Kevin 'Mac' McMahan's travel blog, hardtravelin.net. "I walked out of my Texas ranch on May 1 with my pack on my back, hitch-hiked to the train station, rode the Amtrak to New York City, hopped a cruise ship to Bermuda and here I am on Isbjorn, ready to sail across the Atlantic with y'all."
Last update from Isbjorn's first Trans-At with Andy and Mia!
Dolphins occasionally streak by the boat and we kill the steaming light, letting the darkness settle. The ocean is itself black under the black night sky, and the dolphins GLOW. No exaggeration. The phosphorescence is so thick in these parts that anything that stirs up the water leaves a fluorescent trail...
Andy, Mia, and the crew expierience dying wind but are determined to not start the engine. Whales show up less than 100 yards from the boat and new friends are made over the VHF. All the while Mia is making delicious dinners to keep the crew well fed! Check out the latest update as Isbjorn crosses the Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Azores.
Low, grey clouds overhead. They're moving off to our right, carried by the chilly northerly wind. A few hints of blue sky are visible to the north. Thane & Brenda are on watch. It's dry outside, but cool. They're in fully foulies, gloves & wool hats. The wind has a bite to it, especially without the warming sun overhead. It's a proper North Atlantic day today.
This blog talks about the transition from motoring in dead calms to flying the spinnaker for days on end. It introduces Isbjorn's Trans-At crew and their sailing feats. Click to read more about the start to Isbjorn's first Trans Atlantic with Andy and Mia!
"We're flying the spinnaker on 90 degrees apparent, ghosting along a flat sea at 5 knots in only 7 knots of apparent breeze. She's an old, heavy boat, but boy does she like to sail! We heard Nalu lamenting on the VHF the fact they're motorsailing. I'm thankful for our extra tall rig and new sails."
The start of a bigger adventure! Many times this year, we have started our trip in the BVI but every time we have come back after exploring the southern parts of the Caribbean. This time we left the BVI knowing we won't be back from may years! Back in the Caribbean on 2019, but maybe not the BVI, a bit hard to wrap our heads around since this been our 'base' for a while!
I think this quote captures the beauty of sailing offshore (- Liz):
"I can't decide which way to look. To the east the sky is ablaze with a new, clear dawn, the sun's rays piercing the heavens through some fluffy clouds over the horizon. In the west, the moon follows Jupiter, sinks lower and turns a blood red before dipping beneath the horizon." - Andy Schell
Andy writes about confused seas and taking action fast with the crew when some dark clouds move towards them at sea! Isbjorn sails (and motors) through squalls, perfect southeasterly breeze, and well, no wind at all. All the while navigating by just celestial navigation.
Andy's first blog for the Trans-At which includes details on passage preparation, racing suspense, celestial navigation and where Isbjorn will end up next!
This will be the last time Isbjorn plies the waters of the Caribbean for nearly two years. What is really an ‘end’ to our time down here, is a very exciting new beginning for us. Isbjorn will be pointing her bows ever more north over the next 18 months, culminating in our adventures north to the Arctic in summer 2018, when we hope to get as far as 77º north or more as we explore the coast of Svalbard. Both of us are absolutely ready to leave the heat, and very much looking forward to going back to the Azores. In fact, this is the 5th anniversary of our first passage there on Kinship, with ARC Europe in 2012, so a bit of nostalgia here at the same time as we look towards the future.
Photo by Jake Albano, from his DJ Mavic Drone!
I asked WRI's Jeremy Davis to elaborate on 1). how the storm formed; 2). what makes a system 'tropical' anyway, especially these that form outside the actual tropics; 3). could this have been 'missed' in the past prior to the high-resolution imagery weather forecasters have now; 4). how rare it actual is; and 5). if this means we're setting up for a busy hurricane year. Jeremy's discussion follows:
The last Caribbean trip for a while and it is a bit bittersweet! Crew joined us up in Trellis Bay, BVI and the plan to stay there for the night changed quickly. The wind swung us around a bit too close to a nearby boat and since we had to re-anchor anyway, we decided to head over to Spanish Town straight away where we had to clear out of custom before departing the BVI.