ICEBEAR & ISBJORN Offshore // Beating to Bermuda

Four AM. The beat goes on. That’s so corny but I can’t get it out of my head. And it’s not untrue. ICEBEAR is cracking to windward in a steady northeasterly that doesn’t move much for the next four days. We’re still 465 miles from Bermuda, and according to our most recent weather, every inch of it will be upwind. Good we’ve got a weatherly boat.

I haven’t written anything since Puerto Rico. So much has happened but god it’s been so damn hot! The week in Key West was a sufferfest. Simon & I spent the better part of three days in the lazarette installing the new autopilot drive, and if it was hot outside it was a sauna in there.

But that’s all changed now, and I think it’s the reason I’m motivated to write. I just came down from watch, where for the first time all season I spent 2 hours in the cockpit in foulies. T-shirt and borders underneath, but still. I even wore a hat! And my boots! What a relief it is to feel a little chilly when crawling into bed and not need the fan to sleep well at night. (Now nobody can sleep cause we’re crashing and bashing to windward, but at least it’s cool inside the boat!)

Ready about! Bob & Kuy tacking the genoa with Andy at the helm.

This is the first real windward test we’ve had with the new boat. I’m missing the 105% genoa we have on ISBJORN and I’m wondering if Matt & Ben changed back down to it. They must have given the forecast. We ordered one for ICEBEAR but won’t get it until we get to Annapolis in another 3 weeks. Right now we’re sailing with two reefs in the mainsail and one in the genoa. No jib sets well on a roller furler, so we’re sort of in between gears now. When the apparent wind gets above 20, 1 reef in the jenny is too much sail. But the staysail is too little (we tried). Two reefs in the genoa would be about the right size, but it’s such a horrible shape that it’s unusable when the breeze is forward of the beam.

Staysail up. Staysail down. Lots of sail changes on this leg…Ryan, Colin & Bob on the foredeck at sunset.

Nonetheless, we’re making 7-8 knots when powered up with this setup, and that’s at 35º to the apparent wind. Not too shabby. Mia got lifted some 30 degrees on the first half of her watch, which put us square to the waves, and every once in a while the boat would lift off and then crash down into the next trough with a horrible shudder. I kept dreaming we were at the dock, but then would be woken up with a violent reminder that we weren’t. When Mia called me to do the second half of her shift, as is the norm for us when the night’s are uneventful, I was having a very pleasant nostalgic dream about being with my college friends and having some beers. I was just about to take my first sip when Mia rousted me. I don’t care how beautiful it is outside on a night watch (and tonight it’s especially beautiful), but getting woken up at 2am is always unpleasant.

Matt Rutherford & Ben Doerr skippered ISBJORN for us en route to Bermuda.

Thus far we’ve covered 687 miles in a flash. The run up the Gulf Stream from Key West was fast and smooth, the wind from the southeast and never more than 12 knots, allowing us to lay our course around the Keys and never once kicking up that gnarly Gulf Stream sea. The current boosted us past 10 knots SOG and we rounded the turn north of the Bahamas in just a little over 24 hours.

Now THAT’s a cold front!

Then the weather came. For two eventful days we negotiated some big thunderstorms off Florida and then the scariest cold front I ever did see. Both times we took all sail down, but neither time really amounted to anything. We never saw more than 25 knots in the gusts, but that front had some special clouds in it. The wind shifted 180º in five minutes, from SW to NE, and the temperature dropped about 15º in an instant. The cool dry air has stayed with us ever since, much to our delight.

Time to go back to bed.

When the wind got a little lighter, we flew the drone. ICEBEAR ripping upwind! 7.5 knots boatspeed in 11 knots apparent wind.