Into Deep Ocean


Hey all, friend of the crew Rory Finneren writing. I was pleasantly surprised when Andy contacted me yesterday via his YellowBrick from offshore. He asked if I could post blogs during this passage since Liz, who would normally do so, is currently onboard. Recently having returned home to Taiwan after my own 5500 nm offshore voyage from Tahiti to Alaska, I'm happy to help. Here is the latest from Andy & the crew of Isbjorn, homeward bound to Annapolis from the cool fog of Nova Scotia.  -- Rory


We're off soundings now. A quick look at the chart shows Isbjorn just off the edge of the continental shelf, ESE of Nantucket by a little more than 150 miles. Normally on this passage you'd never see deep ocean water - the shelf extends so far offshore New England that you'd be going out of your way to find it. There is something magical about being in deep ocean - the sea becomes more regular and the water is an incomprehensible shade of the darkest blue, flecked with pure white foam at Isbjorn's bow wave.

Well, we are going out of our way, but not on purpose. Since departing Lunenburg a little less than 48 hours ago, we've been close-reaching to the SSW in a gentle to moderate breeze. Initially, we were bang on course. The first leg had us angling a little offshore to clear George's Bank on the outside. Isbjorn bowled along at over 8 knots most of yesterday, and we blew by our turning mark earlier this morning in great time. The wind is still WNW, and we're cracked off just a tad for speed and comfort, but we're now off course by 30 degrees.

Nobody is complaining. According to the GRIBs, we should be in the center of a high, with no wind, yet still it's blowing 8-12 and were spanking along at 7 knots. We know later in the passage that the wind will eventually return to it's prevailing SW, so a little extra south in our course now might give us a better angle later. Thus far we've covered 307 miles in about 45 hours, and entirely under sail.

'Watson,' our hydrogenerator, has been pumping out the amps at these speeds and our batteries are fully topped up. This despite running the watermaker two hours per day, and having all the instruments and the fridge fired up. It's strange not having to run the motor offshore on a regular basis, and I very much enjoy that strange sensation!

The temperature is getting warmer by the hour. The fog has left us, I think for good, and every mile were getting closer to home waters on the Chesapeake. I'll admit I'm not looking forward to the heat and humidity, and enjoyed wearing my winter hat on watch last night. I probably didn't need it, but I knew it was likely the last chance I'd have for a while, so I took it!

There is not much more to say. Conditions out here are perfect. We watched a colorful sunset last evening off the starboard beam. The sun sank in a cloudless part of the sky, dipping below the horizon but leaving a fiery orange afterglow behind for well over an hour. The bright orange of the sun gradually gave way to light blue and then that unique deep-space blue-black the higher in the sky you gazed, the first few stars popping out after the sun's retreat. You see this sometimes on land, but never in the undistracted state you find your mind in offshore. I stared at the scene for quite a long time, and continued watching as the sky went totally dark and the fairytale crescent moon lit up the horizon instead. I was so captivated that I stayed up an extra hour, enjoying the solitude outside while the crew slept below.

This, right here, is why we go ocean sailing.