The First Voyage of Isbjörn: Land Ho!

Time Travel

Sailing from the hot & humid Chesapeake northeast past New England & on towards Canada has been exceptionally exciting in terms of the changing weather and the cooling water temps. We're at sea now for almost five days. You could fly the route in a few hours, but experiencing the gradual change in climate as we cruise along at a jogging pace is what truly makes ocean voyaging a special thing. It really IS a long way from home when you realize how much the weather's changed and watch it do so gradually. We're not in Kansas anymore.

And the fog! I remember it from sailing Arcturus up here four years ago, but I don't recall it being so persistent then. For the past 36 hours until just now, we've been socked in, our world shrunk to a quarter-mile circle around the boat, with the air so damp that the backstay was literally raining condensation onto the head of whomever was at the wheel. Dan was determined to get the radar functioning, and did so in fact, adding a small level of comfort to our sailing blind, but we remained vigilant. Our only company though was the odd bird chirping around the boat and the many dolphins who've come along for a visit, plus the odd basking shark lolling about on the surface, it's fin sticking up and making it look a lot more menacing than it really is. 'They're the hippies of the shark family,' John wryly remarked. Since leaving the waters around Nantucket, we've seen exactly one fishing boat visually, and perhaps three or four more on AIS, so it's pretty quiet out here.


It hasn't yet sunk in that this is the first real passage of what's been a life-dream of mine, owning and sailing my own big, beautiful boat and actually convincing people to pay me to come along! Between running the rallies and getting Isbjörn fit for sailing, I haven't had any time to reflect on how I feel about all of this. There can be a letdown sometimes when you realize these sorts of big-time life goals, but I've felt the opposite. On one hand, I feel like I've been doing this forever, that it comes totally naturally and is just like any other ocean passage. But when I stop to think, when I'm at the helm and Isbjörn is making speed, and my beautiful wife is smiling at my side, I'm flooded with pride and happiness and most importantly contentment. It sounds corny, but I feel like I've truly found my calling, that I was absolutely meant to be out here doing this with my life and that despite all the stress I've had getting this off the ground, somehow it's been inevitable all along and I've just been along for the ride. My mom would certainly understand that, and don't think for a second that I don't believe she's had a hand in all this, on a cosmic, universal sense. Yeah, she's not actually pulling the strings, but you bet that the positive energy she left behind with me is the driving force behind this. I look at the stars at night and think about her and am thankful she and Dad raised me to pursue a life less ordinary, as John put it earlier. 


We're closing in on 100 miles to go, and in fact are less than half that distance from Cape Sable and the southernmost tip of Nova Scotia. We entered Canadian waters last night, changed time zones and as I've said watched the weather change with it. Isbjörn is a mere 500 miles or so from home, but we feel very far away, and what a cool feeling that is. Our first big passage, and an international one at that. In another day or so we'll be entering a foreign land, of our own accord and under our own steam. You should try it sometime!

Land Ho!

There is nothing I like more than getting fully dressed - long underwear, down sweater, foulies, my boots & a 'toque' (that's French Canadian for hat) - and sitting in the cockpit, alone with my thoughts and a cup of coffee. Finally I had the opportunity to do just that this morning.

We'd finished the solo night watches and I was left alone for the first time all trip, and for the sunrise to boot. I'd been up four hours already, since 2, but wanted that last hour of solitude before making landfall. The chilly weather makes it feel that much more adventurous. 

I went to sleep under grey skies and a gentle drizzle when Dan & Charly came on watch, but when I woke a few hours later the sun was out, the wind was gone and it was downright warm. Almost warm enough to take off my fleece. 

Strangely, I awoke very emotional, actually crying myself awake - full on tears and sobbing - after a dream I'd had about my mom. She was healthy, but in the dream I knew she was dead, and it was clear in the dream she was deliberately making her presence felt to me, and me alone, for the others in the dream were unawares. I still can't shake the feeling - nor do I want to - that her presence was actually here on the boat today with us, however you want to take that. I haven't dreamt about her in over a year or more, and this route we're sailing now was the last sailing trip I ever did with her, when she & my Dad joined Mia and I from Newport to Lunenburg on Arcturus, right before she started really getting sick. You might say that dreams are just imagined in one's head. But I'd ask, 'do you believe in god?' I don't. But I do believe that what the mind perceives IS reality, and this morning was real. To me, that is no more unreasonable than believing in an imagined higher power. 

Anyway. Bolstered perhaps by the lingering energy from that dream, and after yesterday's embarrassment of NOT actually diving on the prop, I took the chance under sunny skies today. The water was just as cold. The crew was on the lookout for seals and basking sharks when I dove in. We'd seem over a dozen of both, just today alone. The sun added a welcome brightness to the ocean and I managed successfully this time to scrape the prop clean. It took three or four dives. I should have done another to clean the hub, but I came up from the last dizzy from the cold water rushing into my ears and called it a day. We're motoring a full knot faster now, and yes thanks, I'll take the credit!

John was the first to spot land through the haze a bit before I dove in. Shortly thereafter Nova Scotia started materializing all along the port beam. After my swim, the wind filled in from the southwest and we set the genoa on the pole and angled in to close the coast, gybing about a mile or two off and running along the rocks and headlands. Several racing sailboats passed us offshore going south, presumably on their way home following last weeks Marblehead to Halifax Race. Last time we were up this way we met some of them in Shelburne where we took Arcturus when a little storm blew up and we ran for cover. Pretty cool how history repeats itself. A neat feeling for Mia & I four years to the day later.

We're back to motoring again after dinner now, with about 20 miles to go to Lunenburg Bay and our port of call. All the crew is up, and I suspect we'll have few sleepers before arriving tonight. Mia discreetly put some champagne and a few beers in the fridge for our arrival. Exciting times!