Next morning we hoisted sail for a very brief blast up the coast to the underwater sculpture park off Moliniere Point. All the moorings were taken so Mia & I dropped the crew off next to the dive site and just drifted offshore while they explored. We anchored up again for the night just off the beach in 12 meters and did some more free diving before dinner. We left early the next morning, bound nonstop for San Juan.
I was more anxious than usual at the beginning of this passage, probably due to a combination of first-passage-of-the-season nerves and the reality of the enormity of the summer we’ve set up for ourselves towards and in the Arctic. So anxious in fact that there is a whole other story here which I’ll save for another time. Suffice it to say, the best cure for anxiety is action, and three days into our first stint at sea in 2018 has done the trick.
Note from Andy: "This post was written by our friend and Isbjorn's racing skipper Paul Exner, of moderngeographic.com. Paul writes from Chiapas, Mexico, where he's onboard his Cape George Cutter 'Solstice,' that he built himself. He's en route to Hawaii, relocating his family after Hurricane Irma destroyed their home and way of life on Tortola in the BVI. Family & heavy weather is on Paul's mind as he readies 'Solstice' to cross the Pacific...
On Sunday Mia & I made the pilgrimage to the west coast of Sweden to check in on Isbjörn for the first time since September. That was the last time we had seen the boat. Back then, she was still afloat, her rig standing, but stripped bare of sails and gear, on deck and down below. We’d emptied nearly everything off the boat in anticipation of the big winter refit. Sometime in late September, after we’d gone back to the USA for boat show in Annapolis, the gang at Vindö Marin pulled the rig and hauled her out, transferring her into the main heated workshop underneath the Vindö Marin offices.
I am super excited to tell you about a book project i have been involved with during the fall.
Together with 10 Swedish Sailors, we have each written a chapter in the book "Mot en Ny Horisont". All proceeds will go directly towards donation in the aftermath of Irma & Marina that hit the Caribbean earlier this fall.
The book is currently available in Swedish and Danish, and maybe one day it will be translated into English and other languages?
What a special trip! Crew met up with isbjorn at Oban Marina on the small island of Kerrera just outside of the town of Oban. The trip started with day sails and exploring the islands, some amazing anchorage such as Loch Scavaig on south of Isle of Skye. We got to enjoy a few Whisky tastings at Tobermory and Talisker and local music in several pubs!
After an amazing trip though Scotland, we set out on the first night sail up to Stornoway on the outer Hebrides. Thanks to amazing after and a big high pressure system over us we got to spend 24 hr at Fair Isle and then a few days in Shetland before setting of across the North Sea to the island of Marstrand on the West Coast of Sweden!
'The downwind run from the Azores to Scotland'. Not at all as we expected, this trip has been the one that we thought we would encounter the most weather of the year and we had prepared their crew for it. In Ponta Delgada the day before departure the long-term weather forecast looked to good to be true. We started of with an evening and night of motoring but pretty quickly the wind picked up from behind and we sailed downwind most of the way. Due to some light wind and that we were head of schedule we decided on a quick stop in the Aren Islands just of Galway Bay in Ireland.
The start of a bigger adventure! Many times this year, we have started our trip in the BVI but every time we have come back after exploring the southern parts of the Caribbean. This time we left the BVI knowing we won't be back from may years! Back in the Caribbean on 2019, but maybe not the BVI, a bit hard to wrap our heads around since this been our 'base' for a while!
The last Caribbean trip for a while and it is a bit bittersweet! Crew joined us up in Trellis Bay, BVI and the plan to stay there for the night changed quickly. The wind swung us around a bit too close to a nearby boat and since we had to re-anchor anyway, we decided to head over to Spanish Town straight away where we had to clear out of custom before departing the BVI.
The fastest trip so far on Isbjorn! Our intern Liz joined us a few days early in Grenada and helped us prep the boat for departure. Crew Todd, Reed, Harry & Leon met up with us in Prickly Bay, Grenada and we spent the first day and night on anchor planning the trip and geting to know Isbjorn. The diesel tank needed to be topped up but the the fuel truck was late so we headed up to St. Georges and filled up before setting sails to St. Croix.
Weather was excellent, with 15 -20 kt on the beam making close to 400 nm in 48 hrs! First 200 nm day for Isbjorn! The trip was full of surprises, started with a birthday cake for Todd who celebrated his 50th onboard!
Prickly Bay is wonderful. It’s huge, fringed by reefs around it’s edges and filled with a myriad of cruising boats of all types, from the two-masted steel schooner behind us, to the tiny European 26-footer we saw in at the dock. Beautiful houses with immaculate gardens surround the waterfront, and postcard-worthy palm-fringed beaches beckon just off the bow. A catamaran anchored near us has a rather noisy chocolate lab onboard who has a real disdain for passing dinghies - he sounds the alarm anytime someone moseys past within a few hundred yards. Mia thinks he is annoying. I think he’s cool.
It’s been a long time! Andy and I were first in Bequia and to the Grenadines in 2009 during our trip on Broadreach. We sailed a 50’ Beneteau with 11 teenagers, a month long sailtraining camp starting in St. Martin and finishing in Trinidad. We truly fell in love with the smaller islands in the southern Caribbean, but since then I have not been south of St. Lucia. It was about time!
Welp, we did it! Isbjorn, finally, and one year later, completed the brutal and exciting RORC Caribbean 600 race in Antigua! If we took it for granted and failed in 2016, we had nothing of the sort in 2017, and showed up more prepared, more rested and better equipped than the year before by a long shot.
The first trip of 2017! Crew members Kevin, Tom, Irena & Vlado joined Isbjorn in Trellis Bay, Tortola in the BVI! We knew going into it that it would be an upwind trip, and it was! After a quick sail over to Spanish Town where we cleared out, we set sail for Ile Fourche, a small island just north of St. Barth's. Ile Fourche is one of our favorite anchorages, nothing ashore except great hiking and turtles swimming around the boat! From there, we sailed the few miles to Gustavia and St. Barth's, enjoyed some cold drinks and a 'Cheeseburger in paradise'. The last leg of this trip was to Falmouth, Antigua and the sail was just spectacular, almost full moon and the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Statia to our starboard. A great start to the year!
Andy and I arrived back to Isbjorn and the BVI on Feb. 1st, a long day of travel from Sweden, via London and Puerto Rico. It was a long day, but probably one of the smoothest travel days I can remember and we arrived to Nanny Cay where we had the boat around 8pm. Andy cooked up a simple dinner of rice and beans and I crashed straight after. We spent a full day there, provisioning the boat and getting her ready for sailing.
Today is kind of a big day in my life as a ‘sailor’, although I am very far away from the sailing scene at the moment. Ten years ago, I spent some time in New Zealand with my best friend Johanna, driving our new to us backpacker car – a Nissan Bluebird – exploring the beauty of New Zealand, camping, hiking, meeting lots of fun people and truly having the time of our life.
It's been a loud night onboard Isbjorn, literally! Yesterday afternoon the wind got lighter and lighter but enough wind to keep sailing. As it got even lighter the only course we could hold and also keep the sails full was around 220T - we tried for about an hour. Sailing in the wrong direction is at least better than motoring.