Introducing 'Ice Bear'
That's right - we ARE gonna need a bigger boat! Mia & I are happy to announce the addition of Ice Bear, a German Frers-designed Swan 59 to the 59 North Sailing fleet starting February 2019! In short, Ice Bear can accommodate 6 crew instead of 4, so we've opened up additional berths for our 2019 calendar, PLUS a handful of passages next year where we'll be running TWO boats - both Isbjorn and Ice Bear in company.
This is a huge leap of faith for us, and we'll use 2019 as a way to 'test the concept' of a two-boat program. We'll be running Isbjorn with another skipper on a limited schedule, while Mia & Andy will be running Ice Bear on the standard 2019 calendar previously published, with the 2 extra bunks added on each leg. If it works, we'll run both boats on a full schedule starting in 2020.
There obviously is a LOT more to this story, the details of which will be out in the weeks to come. For now, enjoy a preview of the new boat, check on 2019's passages to sail with us, and read below the letter that was sent to all former & future Isbjorn crew outlining the plan!
Read the blog posts below for more details!
Ice Bear Blogs
Swan 59 "Ice Bear" - Preview
Q&A With Isbjorn Crewmember Dan
Note: Dan is Isbjorn's oldest and most loyal crew. He was aboard for our first-ever passage to Lunenburg in 2015, and has sailed with us many times since. He was one of the first to hear the news about the new boat, and had a lot of questions for us! I've published our answers here:
- How will you break it to Mia ;)
- You just refit Isbjorn. Why the new boat? What are your plans for Isbjorn?
You know me, always up for a challenge! The main reason is from the success of this summer and our enthusiasm going forward - sailing with Delos was so inspiring, and we're going to get so much publicity from this summer that we wanted to capitalize on that momentum. Not just from Delos either - we've been written about in Yachting World the past 4 issues now, and have a big feature on Svalbard coming out. Plus somer other magazines. A second and/or bigger boat has always been in the back of my mind, and now feels like the right time. 2019 will be a test on the two-boat concept. If it works, we'll keep both boats. If not, we'll have to make a decision on which one to keep.
As for refitting Isbjorn, the refit served it's purpose in the short-term - we got through the Arctic without a single maintenance problem. Plus, going forward now, she'll be much cheaper to maintain.
- Did Forbes talk you into this:)
Haha, no! Entirely on my own this one, he wasn't even involved.
- It's a big boat. Will you try to change headsails at sea?
TBD. Gotta sail her first ;)
- Looks like automatic furling on the head stay. What if that fails. Is there a manual override?
Yes, and yes.
- Electric winches in the cockpit? Same question.
We'll use them in manual mode when crew are onboard. They're identical to manual winches in that regard, to the electric part is redundant.
- Are the mast lines run aft like Isbjorn? Reefing?
Everything is forward. She's got the old-school Swan winches all over the deck, so basically every line coming off the mast has it's own winch.
- Is the spinnaker pole so big I won't be able to lift it?
We'll install it on the mast, so you never have to lift the entire thing. And in any case, you'll have help since we'll be 8 total onboard ;)
- Will it have enough fuel?
It's a sailboat Dan ;)
- Will you have more crew? Where will they sleep? I looked online and I dig the sleeping quarters. Will you have crew hot bunk? Sleep at the settee? Will you convert aft cabin to sea bunks?
Yes, we'll take 6, plus Mia & I on each passage. There is the twin cabins port & starboard with two bunkbeds each (4), plus the forepeak that currently has a double (2 more). We'll eventually convert the forepeak double into two singles. In the meantime, two unrelated crew can share the forepeak for gear storage, and then they'll have to hot bunk at sea and use the port settee in port, but only temporary. We'll hopefully refit the forepeak bunks next August when the boat is in Annapolis.
Aft cabin is for Mia & I and one of the main reasons we wanted the bigger boat. We realize spending 6 months on the boat as part of our life, we want/need some more personal space and privacy, especially in port. At-sea it's fine, but in port we can't even stand up in our aft cabin to change clothes, and it's wearing on us. I know this sounds like first-world problems, but that's it! The big bed aft is actually two single mattresses side-by-side, with a leeboard that fits in the middle at sea, so it works.
- Business stuff - if more crew, are the economics worth it because the upkeep will also be substantially more.
If we're at capacity, the economics still work in our favor, but not by a ton. We'll make an additional $20-40K per year than we do on Isborn alone at capacity. If we can run BOTH boats at capacity, than it's substantially more upside, but we're taking it slowly.
- Did you photoshop the Instagram pic with the Ice Bear text and logo?
- Will you still sail Isbjorn to the Caribbean?
Yep! After your trip to Las Palmas, she'll go trans-at to the Carib with Mia & I and then we'll race in the RORC 600. After the race, we'll have from end February until early April to transition to the big boat. Isbjorn and the 59 will sail the same route together in April/May 2019 - Carib-Cuba-Key West-Bermuda-Annapolis, so we'll test the concept of two boats during that time frame.
'Ice Bear' Crew Letter
"Greetings All Former & Future Sailing Crew!
It's official - 59 North Sailing is now a two-boat operation! Starting February 1, 2019, ICE BEAR, a German Frers-designed Swan 59, will be making offshore passages with Mia & I on the helm!
Firstly, we want to send a huge THANK YOU to all the crew who have sailed with us already, or who are set to sail with us in the future. And to those of you who gave us such positive feedback when we first emailed you this idea several weeks ago. In large part, it was this enthusiasm that bolstered our own ideas and accelerated the plan to try a two-boat program. THANKS!
I want to take this opportunity to outline a few things and explain how this will work going forward, AND invite you all FIRST to signup for the additional passages we have available in 2019, since the 59 can now take 6 crew.
Here's the deal
- ICE BEAR, as the 59 will be christened, will sail the exact same calendar in 2019 as is published online now, starting with the Havana trip in April.
- All 2019 crew already signed up with us were notified of the new boat first - they've effectively been 'upgraded'!
- We have added 2 crew spaces on each of those legs - some have already been taken by friends of crew already signed up for those legs, but otherwise they are on offer to you guys NOW, before we announce this to the general public on the podcast. You can find the updated bunk availability here - just scroll down to the table view at the bottom of the page.
- We have ADDED a Caribbean passage from Grenada-San Juan on the 59, and will have 6 crew bunks open for that. This will cost $3,000 and sail March 27-April 3. It's open for booking to former & future crew only at this point, and will open to the public in the next 1-2 weeks. There are no details online yet, but it DOES appear in the table view at the bottom of the page on 59-north.com/2019.
- Go to 59-north.com/signup if you want to get onboard the 59 in 2019!
The Bigger Picture
We've had the idea to get a second boat since last fall, and even bounced around ideas to buy a Challenge 67 for more Arctic work, and seriously looked at another 47-footer. The idea got shelved as we began focusing on getting Isbjorn - and ourselves - ready for the Arctic.
Fast forward to Svalbard. Spending 3 weeks sailing with the SV Delos crew re-ignited the spark to get a second, and bigger, boat. It's no secret that the Delos guys are working on a Delos 2.0 project. Sailing with them and discussing their plans was infectiously inspiring. We realized by being around other young, creative, adventurous sailors, that anything is possible. They encouraged us to go for it...and from there, it was full speed ahead!
Enter Ice Bear - we have not actually bought the 59 - yet. But of course, there's a story behind it. We have a prior connection with the boat, currently called THINDRA (we'll rename her), and laying in Antigua (where we'll end up on Isbjorn in February 2019 after crossing the Atlantic).
We first met Thindra in the ARC rally in 2009 in St. Lucia when we worked for the rally. She's Swedish-flagged, and we got to know her former skipper well. To make a long story short, she's been on the market for a bit, and we arranged with her current owner to do a charter agreement for 2019, with an option to buy her if it goes well. We'll use 2019 to 'test the concept' of running the bigger boat, AND running Isbjorn, our current Swan 48 as well, with another skipper.
Speaking of which...
Isbjorn Sailing 2019 - Swan 48 Calendar
We are running a limited '2nd boat' program with Isbjorn for part of 2019 to test the concept of keeping both boats in the long-term. Our friend (and former podcast guest) Simon Borjeson will skipper Isbjorn initially in the spring of 2019, and we'll be bringing Paul Exner, Isbjorn's racing skipper, back for other passages TBA.
We've been very open and honest about our entire business since first bootstrapping this whole thing back in 2015. This is no different - expect a couple podcasts from Mia & I about the long story behind how this all started and what our hopes and fears are going forward. We're super excited to be able to offer more passages and accommodate more crew to experience the magic of ocean sailing. All we ask is that you all trust us that the trips will remain on the level we've been able to deliver - Simon & Paul, to start with, are amazing sailors and more importantly amazing people, and we have full faith in them to deliver the 59 North experience.
We'll have a lot more info on Simon in the coming weeks, including another long podcast with him to follow. In short, Simon is an engineer working in Sweden and VERY involved in the outdoor sports scene at a very high level. Just yesterday he won the Rockman Swimrun endurance event in Norway, an event he and some friends actually founded and got off the ground. Simon also has worked as a backcountry skiing guide in Japan for the past several years, so is skilled in leading people in the wilderness. He crossed the Atlantic in 2015 via Bermuda & the Azores, skippering his dad's X-42C.
Here's the initial 2019 Calendar for Isbjorn, which is now published online and IS open for booking. 4 crew spaces on each trip:
- April 10-25: San Juan-Havana-Key West // $6,000: The Cuba trip! This trip will run alongside Ice Bear - both boats will sail to Cuba together, and we've rented TWO homestays with local Cubans on the same block in Havana where we'll all stay together ashore. Details online here, basically the same for both boats. Skipper: Simon Borjeson.
- May 1-12: Key West-Bermuda // $4,000: Again, both boats will run this route to Bermuda. We won't stay in company offshore on purpose, but we'll all be together in Key West and again in Bermuda. Details online here, basically same for both boats. Skipper: Simon Borjeson.
- May 18-28: Bermuda-Annapolis // $4,000: Last route of the spring with BOTH BOATS traveling together back to Annapolis. Details online here, basically same for both boats. Skipper: Andy's Dad Dennis OR Paul Exner
- Again, to book onboard Isbjorn, go to 59-north.com/signup as usual.
Based on how the above books up, we'll consider adding additional passages onboard Isbjorn in 2019 and beyond. We're counting on YOU GUYS to spread the good word about 59 North and get as excited as we are about the two-boat program!
In the bigger picture, there's LOTS we can do with a two-boat program and Mia & I are stoked! We'll have more opportunity to get young people involved in offshore sailing, and in fact are already working with an under-20 racing team bouncing ideas around about putting Isbjorn in some international races to be sailed by the youth! The sky's the limit at this point, and we're so THANKFUL for your support!
We hope you're excited about the 59 and that a few more of you decide to join us in 2019.
In the meantime, HOLD FAST!
Andy & Mia"