Isbjorn Passage Debrief from Capt. Paul Exner

Isbjorn's Caribbean 1500 Crew, from Left: Tom Harkin, Lisa Jodensvi, Capt. Paul Exner, Rik van der Vaart (top), Walter Rush & Dennis Schell.

Good landfall and homecoming to all:

It was a pleasure to sail with each and every one of you aboard Isbjorn during our Atlantic Ocean passage. As a team, we pulled together when required, cared for each other, encouraged each other, and to the best of our individual abilities sailed selflessly as one aboard the sailing yacht Isbjorn.

As sailors, we chide ourselves if we believe we go to sea to satisfy a personal itch or goal ... for all that truly matters is the yacht that took us there. We sail for the boat (period). Without our vessel, personality-talent and character is null. We counted on each other during the Caribbean 1500, on the high-seas, to collectively keep one another safe and to make Isbjorn reach land ... that is what I expected all of us to do.

The measure of the trip is true self reflection, and what we convince ourselves we took away. The one certainty is that our on-board practice, methods, and individual contributions took the team to the dock at Nanny Cay in good physical health, mentally wiser, and we disembarked the fine yacht Isbjorn in condition that exceeded any expectations I had for normal wear and tear. Above that, we sailed efficiently through several setbacks including a diversion to the Emergency Room; a night-time moderate cold front passing on the east edge of the Gulf Stream; incapacitating sea-sickness of two team members (who I personally held their ankles while they puked over the leeward rail); a failed batten-pocket and near loss of the batten (without spares aboard) due to excessive UV damage; coped at sea with fairleads that are under-developed technology; a blown spinnaker guy that required all hands-on-deck to retrieve the chute (which could have gone horribly bad, but went brilliantly instead); and other 'normal' crew-related toss-ups that always get resolved on the boat.

In our journey, I believe we sailed Isbjorn very well and I'm proud of each and every one of you for your personal sailing skills exhibited, when they counted most, and they always did.

In the end, we sailed Isbjorn, a highly technical and powerful ocean-going sailing yacht, and we managed her well by any standard. We managed her for our safety, and for her return, which we achieved. Imperative in this was my belief in a selfless crew, who required at times a nurturing of skill by me to a sailing level intended to keep the team safe by developing abilities and team-work for any future and unexpected seamanship event of peril ... we needed a team, not a band of individuals. I held you to a high standard, and not once did I allow anyone to under-perform or shirk their potential. We had great chats in the cockpit for moral, but then we sailed, and we sailed well ... that is one of several commitments I delivered to you all. The journey occurred aboard Isbjorn.

We may or may not have the pleasure of sailing together again in the future, but since I know you all so much better now, I expect that we will build upon our life-long relationships that recently began aboard Isbjorn ... and, forever forward, we will always be shipmates.