Offshore to Havana: Trade wind sailing

Aboard Isbjorn it's all fun and games. We just wrapped up a scrambled egg breakfast and are sailing wing on wing at 8.1 knots. By the time we hit the 48 hour mark, we'll have sailed 350 miles, a blistering pace. And it's effortless!

We ended up departing Fajardo on Saturday the 2nd, a day ahead of plan. The crew - Rob, Dennis, Fred & Greg - had all arrived by early afternoon, so we had plenty of time on Friday to go over the boat, complete the safety briefing, discuss the passage plan and even have a brewski or two! I finally got in touch with Commodore Esrich at the Hemingway International Yacht Club, where I discovered we'll be welcome guests! We also booked a big house in Havana for the whole crew to get off the boat for a few days and explore the culture of this until now forbidden city.

The next morning Mia and I took one last run down towards the beach south of the marina while the guys had one last shower. A huge squall rolled in from the east, dumping buckets of rain on us as we got the boat ready to depart. Thankfully, it was the last rain we've seen thus far!

And after a winter of seemingly always going upwind, FINALLY some downwind sailing! The decks are dry, the hatches are open and we're flying! Isbjorn is running now as I write, her mainsail squared off to starboard and her large Genoa poled out to port. A gentle swell follows the boat.

It's almost a new moon now, making for extremely dark nights - and SPECTACULAR star gazing. There's barely a cloud in the sky, and it's hard to focus on the compass when the heavens are just sparkling overhead. What's left of the moon, a tiny sliver, rose just before the sun this morning.

Life onboard is as easy as it gets on an offshore passage. You can stand up down below, cook, brush your teeth! Our bellies are full, with hot meals for dinner, eggs for breakfast and round after round of coffee to keep us up at night. For Greg, Rob & Dennis who haven't been offshore before, they are getting quite spoiled!

Fred, however, knows how ugly it can get, so is enjoying every minute of this. He and his wife Renee circumnavigated from 1998-2005 on a Swan 431 (he's got good taste in boats!).

'We saw 60 knots on a passage from New Zealand to Fiji,' Fred explained. 'Just Renee and I. We hove-to and rode it out down below. The boat handled it remarkably. By the next day, it was blowing 35 and it felt like a summer day'!

Fred's been sharing his adventures like that with us all, to everyone's delight.

A school of pilot whales visited us yesterday and flying fish leap from both sides of the boat as we charge on by. Hopefully by this time tomorrow we'll be off Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas and will have enough daylight and settled weather to sail close by for a look!

Until next time...