What a great trip south!

So, I have decided to start up my blog again.. this time it will be in English so I don't eliminate the 6+ billion people who don't speak Swedish... And now when Andy and I have started our new chapter on our own, I feel I have the time (do I really think that will happen, more time... :) ) to focus on a few more things that is mine.

This blog will be about traveling, sailing, adventures on the high seas, working on the boats, friends, exercise, enjoying life, money, eating and cooking, the ups and downs of traveling and anything that may pop into my mind.

So, read on.....

What a great trip south!

Andy and I are now back in PA with a busy fall behind us. We came back from a six week ‘vacation’ in Sweden straight into boat show mode in the beginning of October and we haven’t stopped moving since. We had earlier decided to have the boat in the show and since we were not coming back until Tuesday, and the boat had to be the first one in and be moved in already on Sunday, Andy’s dad Dennis saved our day and brought the boat in with a friend.

The boat show was a whirlwind, great to meet some of our former crew on the boat along with crew who will sail with us in the future, podcast listeners and friends. The funniest part was that both SpinSheet and SAIL Magazine had articles by Andy about his summer appendicitis and lots of concerned people came over and asked if he was alright! Thankfully it was a very quick surgery back in July and a quick recovery thereafter. 

Boat show rolled in to a visit to UConn Avery Point where our intern Liz had organized a seminar for us. We hung on the hook in Back Creek with friends, recorded a few podcasts and prepped the boat for the trip south.

This was an especially busy fall for the two of us. It is our last year as official event managers for World Cruising Club USA and the Caribbean 1500, and for the first time we are also sailing in the event with a full crew. We had a great team in Portsmouth, VA before the start with Lyall, Jake, Isabelle, Pete, David, Lee and Rachel! Working with friends is definitely the best because you can work hard during the day and enjoy the evenings together as well!

Our crew Ed and Bruce arrived earlier than the rest of the gang and it looked like they had a blast, Andy had a big list of “boat work” to be done and they went to town. Drilled big holes in the hull for the drogue chain plates, managed to complete the year long project of replacing the broken salt water foot pump, de-install the non-functioning running lights and install new ones, and the list went on. They got to know the boat and we could not have been happier! During the week leading up to the start of the rally there were seminars during the day and happy hours, movies and other fun activities during the evenings. 

Thanks to a great weather window the start was a day earlier than planned and the last day was a bit stressful to get the rally organized and passed over to the shore team and also get the crew up to speed with the boat and our minds to switch from organizing the rally to sailing. I had beforehand promised myself to stay in the moment when being out sailing. I know it probably sounds very easy, cast off the lines and just go. But running 150 mph for two months beforehand and then all of a sudden be on the boat is for me very tough. I also have a lot of exciting things to look forward to, Thanksgiving in PA after the trip and 2 month in Sweden following that. To truly enjoy the sailing I have to remove all the past and future excitement and move into my little bubble that exists out in the ocean, and I did a very good job this time.

The trip started off a bit slow, with light wind as we crossed the starting line and the Bay Bridge Tunnel. We battled light winds during the first day and night but knew it was going to pick up quickly so we could truly enjoy the slow start and have the crew acclimatise to the boat. Normally I don't pre-cook any food the first day but this time I cooked a lasagna the morning we left and was still a the dock that we could just stick in the oven the first evening.

I was surprised how early the sun went down. I planned for 6 pm dinner at watch change so we could eat and clean up before the sun went down. To my surprise, as the lasagna heated up in the oven, I could see the beautiful colors of the sky peak through the window and the sun went down, BEFORE 6 pm! I guess we got spoiled sailing up to Newfoundland during the summer when the sun stays high in the sky past my bedtime!

We had some great sailing on the trip south, a gale off Bermuda kicked up some bigish swells on our course and we had great fast sailing at 8-9 kt in 10 ft seas with the boat well reefed down. This is the first time we encountered winds higher than 25 for an extended period of time and both me and Andy were super impressed with the boat and how happy she was. It was easy to steer and the deep reefs we have made it a very comfortable ride. I guess it helps that we have a 6 months old mail and a 2 brand new genoas!

There was a second gale brewing off Bermuda about half way and it gave us a squally day with some gusts in the upper 30, nothing dangerous a all but just needed to pay more attention to the sky. For the first time we experimented with the stay sail and the genoa together, we kept them both up and when a squall got close, we rolled up the genoa and sailed under a reefed main and the stay sail. When the squall had passed, we rolled out the genoa again, very stable and super simple1 Definitely a good set up for squally days.

After 8 days and some hours, we spotted land in the middle of the night and early in the morning of Monday November 14, we crossed the finish line just east of Tortola. It was an absolut magical morning, the moon was just setting over Tortola and the sun coming up behind us. Before entering the marina, once the sails were dropped we stopped for a swim in the ocean. Normally we swim offshore but we never had a good opportunity, the winds were either to good or the swell to big. The swim felt great and was a great way to just freeze the moment before we entered Nanny Cay and the sailing trip ‘was over’.

I am now back in PA and have been reflecting on the trip for a few days, what a trip! I am excited to have some months on land now to reset, charge up my batteries and then have a full winter, spring and summer onboard Isbjorn!

A few pictures form the trip south!

To see more photos, visit the page 59-north.com/photos