Towards the Arctic & Video from the North Sea

  Isbjorn in Kirkwall, Orkney at sunset.

Isbjorn in Kirkwall, Orkney at sunset.

Isbjorn's new crew will arrive in about 40 minutes. Mia & I have finished cleaning up the boat. Yesterday Mia did a HUGE provisioning run. I decanted a few bottles of propane into our American tanks. We went running in our downtime, ate Indian food last night for dinner and enjoyed the variable weather that is Orkney. I filled the outboard with the last of gas so I can top it off at the gas station, then proceeded to drop the outboard's gas cap into the water behind the boat. Good thing that only yesterday I had taken the bus to the dive shop in Stromness to pickup a hood, gloves and weight belt to go with my 2-piece wetsuit for just such instances.

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My swim in the 48º water made breakfast taste better anyway. We ate a proper Scottish fry-up this morning - eggs with haggis and black pudding.

I'm far less anxious than I was before the last trip. I think we just needed to get over the hump and get the sailing season started in earnest, get the boat out on the high seas and put some miles under her keel. 

  Lots of provisions to feed 6 people for 18 days!

Lots of provisions to feed 6 people for 18 days!

From Orkney we'll be sailing north, north, north. The weather looks good at the moment to try and make a little escape to Fair Isle tomorrow morning, that magical place we visited for the first time last summer where you can sit on the hillside overlooking the precarious harbor and be surrounded by puffins. Tens of thousands of sea-birds call Fair Isle home, and it's one of those places you have to sail to in order to fully appreciate. We're hoping the 50 mile sail up there will be a good shakedown for the new crew, and a good start to this trip.

  Fair Isle puffins from our trip there in 2017!

Fair Isle puffins from our trip there in 2017!

From there, we have the opportunity to call in at Lerwick, Shetland, or sail nonstop towards Bodø, across the Arctic Circle in Norway where we'll meet our photographer James Austrums. James will be with us then for almost the rest of the summer, including the Svalbard adventure and the longest leg of the year down to Iceland. I'm already scheming a way to stop off in East Greenland en route if the stars align. James doesn't know this yet, but he'll be pumped to hear about it!

From Bodø we'll cruise up through the Lofoten Islands and the inland fjords to Tromsø, our stepping off port for Svalbard. We just received our permit from Sysselmannen yesterday, so it's official now, we're legal for the far north!

Before we get ahead of ourselves, make sure to check out this GREAT video that Sophie Darsy put together from our first leg across the North Sea. Our friends from Stockholm, Ryan & Sophie, have an AWESOME YouTube channel! Sophie sailed with us across the North Sea to get a taste of ocean sailing before she and Ryan set out in May 2018 from Sweden on their own boat, Polar Seal, and Sophie put together a very cool video of our trip together!

Crossing the North Sea between Marstrand (Sweden) and Orkney (Scotland): Check! Ryan and I had no offshore sailing experience. Now, I do! Last week, I crossed the North Sea with Andy and Mia from 59 North Sailing on Isbjörn... and without Ryan :) Andy and Mia offer crew space on their boat, Isbjörn, a beautiful Swan 48.

Sophie & Ryan are both 'Swedish' (meaning that have citizenship), but Ryan is originally from Iowa, Sophie from France. Their YouTube videos are truly great! They show a real-life look at what it's like living aboard and taking care of a boat. We can't wait to follow their adventures (and who knows, Mia & Andy might just pop up on Polar Seal in the Med sometime!)