Isbjorn Offshore: Astro Push-ups & Spinnaker Blasting

29 May, 2017


Mia's in the galley making oatmeal, and it's a good morning for making oatmeal indeed. Low, scudding grey clouds hang over the boat and horizon. A damp, cool westerly breeze. Droplets of dew on everything, stuck fast to the crystallized salt that cakes most parts of the boat after nearly two weeks at sea. The Portuguese man-o-wars continue to glide by our stern in regular procession. Sea turtles eat them, I'm pretty sure.

I'm in black sweatpants and a black t-shirt, doing morning exercises in the cockpit. Mostly 'sumo squats' and what Mia & I have dubbed 'astronaut push-ups.' These would be just normal push-ups when Isbjorn is stationary, but offshore, the rolling of the boat changes your perceived, or in keeping with our sailorly theme, your 'apparent' gravity. When she rolls one way, gravity is 'enhanced,' the push-ups that much harder with the added weight. And vice versa. A wonderfully challenging dynamic exercise. I try to do 100 per day, but that really means every other day in practice. Mia did some at the height of the first gale, in full foulies, in a 10-15 foot sea.

The crew are all asleep in their bunks for what will likely be their last snooze at sea if the wind holds. But like Mia said this morning, '62 miles is a LONG way to sail if there's no wind.'

We've successfully put some distance between us and Yoda since being twelve miles behind them at our last calm the other day. We were 25 miles ahead of them at midnight last night, which on seeing this was a serious boon to my competitive side. Which by the way is more than a little silly. Why should I be proud of being SLIGHTLY ahead of a smaller boat, with only two crew, after a nearly 2,000-mile passage!? Yoda deserves the credit here, not us! Still, my ego is satisfied on some perverse level. Like beating a 9-year-old at chess, or sprinting.

We set the spinnaker again at 1430 yesterday afternoon (earlier yesterday morning we dropped it, at 0500 in the pitch dark with a building and backing breeze forcing us off course to the north. We maybe could have hung on to it until daylight, but at the expense of my sleep. Instead, with Thane & Brenda's help, we did a textbook-perfect drop, driving Isbjorn deep downwind, loosing the guy and letting the sail billow out to leeward & collapse behind the mainsail where Mia & Thane, seated on the foredeck, corralled it in the ATN sleeve and wrestled it down on deck. I proceeded to fall into a deep sleep, what with the boat now hunkered down & still sailing fast, and didn't wake up again until 1230 in the afternoon) and have been just eating up the miles, watch after watch logging 32 miles made good, averaging 8 knots.

I ALWAYS have good intentions of writing a final arrival blog after we've made landfall. I NEVER do. So let me provide a preview - there will be champagne on arrival, once the docklines or anchor is secure; that will almost certainly be followed by rum; on climbing into a bed that isn't rolling or pitching, I'll reflect, like I always do, on how nice, and strange, that feels after the constant motion of almost two weeks at sea; I'll oversleep the next day but still won't feel rested; we'll spend all day cleaning and de-salting Isbjorn, in what will feel like slow motion; we'll feel IMMENSE satisfaction for having crossed an ocean under sail.

We're not there yet, and as I write the wind is subtly laying down. Hope it holds, hope it holds. At this point there is NO WAY I'm running the diesel - we're sailing across that damn finish line no matter how long it takes!

But I CAN reflect on how the passage has been thus far. Some quick thoughts - 1) We've not once had the wind forward of the beam in 12+ days at sea; 2) We have only motored for 15 hours, and that immediately on leaving Bermuda to get north and into the light westerlies on Day 1; 3) The weather was seriously HEAVY at times. Our first gale lasted almost three days, during which we sailed triple-reefed; the second gale blew 30-35 knots for 12 hours. 4) My anxieties about heavy weather all but disappeared after the successful negotiation of the first gale and 4) Isbjorn is one HELL of a sea boat in a blow. I have tremendous confidence in her now in even worse weather. 5) We ate 8 dozen eggs and 6) none of them went bad and 7) none were in the fridge. 8) We are VERY spoiled with the weather on this passage. The next leg north to Scotland, if the current weather pattern is any indication, is going to be one blow after another, and there won't be any skirting of them this time, as t
 hey'll be crossing our rhumb line, but 9) We don't have to think about that for two weeks!

1053 - 57 Miles To Horta

For now, Isbjorn is signing off.