Isbjorn Offshore: It's tough out here!

Don't let anybody tell you ocean sailing is easy. Of all the endurance sports I've dabbled in over the years - marathon running, triathlon, cross-country skiing, cycling - offshore sailing is easily the most grueling. In those other sports, no matter how knackered you are in the moment, you know you'll be in your bed that night. It's a matter of hours. Not out here. You might get to retreat to your bunk, but at most, it's a six-hour respite until you're on deck and at it again.

And all the while you've got to live in this constant state of motion, and at sometimes crazy angles of heel. Cooking. Washing up. Brushing teeth. Pooping. At times you want to just shout, 'stop the damn thing already, I need a break!'

The first half of this passage has felt like that at times, and right now is one of them. We're firmly in the grip of the Gulf Stream, making over 11 knots over the ground at times, still close reaching. There is a big sea running from the NE, a leftover swell from the big low that just moved offshore ahead of us. That, combined wth the wind-driven cross sea from the NW is making life on Isbjorn rather uncomfortable. The sky is filled with puffy fair-weather clouds. The wind is all over the place, oscillating from NW-N-NNE and back again in the span of minutes, dropping to 12 knots then up to 22. Kind of typical of cool, dry, fluky air behind a cold front but it makes for challenging sailing.

It's better than last night. At 23:30, on Mia and Wayne's watch, a sudden wind shift caught us unawares. We had a partially reefed genoa and full mainsail flying. The wind abruptly increased to 30 knots and shifted some 20 degrees, heading us. I jumped up and took the helm to run us off while Mia and Wayne rolled the job up entirely. We were bearing down on a military ship that had been paralleling our course, but I had no choice until they got the jib in. Chris got on the VHF to make sure they knew our situation and would get out of our way! Then Daniel came up to help put two reefs in the main. We carried on through the night motor sailing like this, with no jib, just jogging along to the NE to let the weather get ahead of us, and to let me get some sleep with the boat all tidied up. It blew 25-30 until sunrise earlier today, when Mia reset the job.

We're making great time towards Hatteras now and have passed the halfway point, but it's tiring! Just now the wind has backed slightly to the NW, so we've finally been able to ease the sheets a touch, but the seas are still rough and confused. We're definitely earning this passage!

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