ISBJORN Trans-Atlantic p. 12/Finale // Re-Entry

Solitary squall the morning of landfall.

Steam Punk Time Machine. In 40 miles we’ll find out how the world has changed.

Most of the time our passages are in the neighborhood of 5-7 days or so. Time off the grid to decompress, but we always marvel at how while it’s seemed like we’ve been gone forever, nothing ever happens. A few emails come in, the same headlines dot the online news, friends lies go on back home same as the week before.

This is different. ISBJORN’s been at sea over 20 days now. The world we’re about to re-enter won’t be the same from the one we left. Three weeks is enough time to guarantee that. We’ve been well and truly cutoff. Not so much as in the old days - I can text friends and family and we get weather reports of course. But no email. No news. I have no idea if the US government has re-opened yet, nor do I know anything else about the world outside our little bubble. Sailing across oceans is like traveling in a steam-punk time machine. In slow-motion, we’re moving into the future with no knowledge of what’s happened in the interval.

Why don’t you make like a tree and get the heck out of here Mcfly!

I love the time travel analogy. If modern-day air travel is not like but actually teleporting - think about it for a sec, it really is - then sailing is actually time travel. Really.

ISBJORN time machine. Get her up to 8 knots and the flux capacitor kicks in.


I sat down to write this now because I know that once we drop anchor in Falmouth, there is zero chance that I’ll take the time to sit down and finish this trans-Atlantic blog. What with the new boat sitting there waiting for us (not to mention the bottles of champagne Mia just put in the fridge - the crew don’t know this, but I’ve reserved a whole one for myself. Once that’s gone, productivity ceases.)

The traditional ISBJORN champagne toast is even better after 20 days at sea!

Appropriately, the weather today on our last day at sea is just as weird as it’s been for the duration. About two hours ago we were sailing wing-on-wing in very light airs, barely moving at 3-4 knots. I rolled up the jib, centered the mainsail and finally gave up when suddenly, under a dark cloud, the wind abruptly shifted into the NNW and blew 15-18 knots for the next two hours. Genoa out again, tack the main and we’re off, ISBJORN (finally) in freight-train mode making 8 knots on a flat sea with bone in her teeth, on a beeline for Antigua.

That, of course, didn’t last, and we’re wallowing along again at 5 knots in 7 knots of apparent wind from the NNE now. Too much wind to just give up and motor, but not enough to really get us anywhere. A real test of patience. A few hours ago we crossed the 20-day threshold.

Land ho! Mia spotted Antigua just after dinner on the starboard horizon.

Re-entry into civilization is fun. Fundamentally it’s why we go ocean sailing really. For the dichotomy - the cutoff reality of life at sea in our own bubble, and then the sudden transformation back into life where other people exist on the earth. My favorite re-entries are ones like we’re about to have tonight - an after-dark arrival, after dinner but not at the crack of dawn, where we can drop the anchor in peace and quiet, pop the champagne and reflect on the passage undistracted because everything and everyone ashore is already asleep. We can sneak back into civilization without any fanfare, greeting life ashore on our own terms rather than it coming to us.

We’ll do just that tonight in Falmouth, then head ashore tomorrow to clear customs and get breakfast at the AYC cafe. I’m not sure what will happen first - customs clearance over in Nelson’s Dockyard, or a stroll down the docks at AYC to try and catch a glimpse of my new boat (but I can guess what will come first!)

ISBJORN & ICE BEAR, our new Swan 59, together at last in Antigua!

Mia & I know what it will feel like tomorrow morning stepping ashore for the first time in 3 weeks and sitting down for a little hungover breakfast. Hungover from the celebratory drinks we’ll have tonight on anchor, but also hungover from the sea - land-sickness is a real thing. I can’t wait to watch the crew find that out for themselves tomorrow morning.

Party on ICE BEAR in Antigua! ISBJORN in the background. Pretty cool feeling!

And then, in what will feel like an instant, they’ll be gone and we’ll be on to the next thing. Mia’s Yachtmaster course starts on Monday, only two days after we’ll arrive tonight, and I’ve gotta move all our personal stuff over to the 59 before Paul, Liz and Lee come for the race.

But now I’m really getting ahead of myself. The wind just picked up a touch - 9 knots apparent now, woohoo! - and we’ve got 38 miles to sail to Falmouth. The high puffy clouds on the horizon ahead are the first clear signs of land we’ve seen in weeks. A white egret flew circles around the boat earlier this afternoon too, and they’re not going far from land.

We’re almost there.

The last dinner at sea. David, Fred, Walter & Etta (L to R), soaking in the sunset.