The start of a new year! As of February 15, Isbjorn is anchored in Antigua, getting ready for the Caribbean 600 Ocean Race. Next, we're headed south to Dominica & the Grenadines, then offshore for BVI & back to Dominica! In May, Isbjorn will start her first Atlantic crossing under our stewardship, sailing north to Bermuda, then east to the Azores, and north again to Scotland! We'll finish the season with a North Sea crossing to Sweden, a 600-mile jaunt to Stockholm, and one last passage in the Baltic. Isbjorn will spend the winter in Stockholm preparing for the Arctic in 2018! We've created photo galleries from each of our passages this year - check them out below!
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!
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!
2016 saw Isbjorn sail over 8,000 miles. She completed a few Caribbean passages, competed in the Caribbean 600 Ocean Race in Antigua, sailed 1,000 miles downwind from the BVI-Key West (via Havana!), returned to Annapolis for a minor refit and then headed north to Nova Scotia & Newfoundland! We returned south to Annapolis in August and started preparing for the passage south with the Caribbean 1500 Rally in November, which wrapped up our year for 2016.
The last trip of the year was south from Portsmouth, VA to the BVI with ARC Caribbean 1500 This was the first time for us to actually sail in the event that we have managed for many years now! The crew, Ed, Bruce, David and Tom, arrived during the week leading up to the start that was scheduled for Sunday November 6. Due to a favorable weather window, the start was scheduled for a day early and it as a bit running around on the docks to get everything ready for departure.
The final leg of the Canadian summer started in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. This was the forth time Andy & Mia have been up there, twice on Isbjorn and once on Arcturus. Lunenburg is such a sweet little town with everything a sailor could want. The trip south was fairly uneventful with some upwind sailing towards the end before we entered the Delaware Bay and sailed back home to Annapolis
After a fun and relaxing week up in St. John's, Newfoundland, David and Dough arrived a few days early to explore the town before departing south towards Lunenburg. Dan, our 3rd crew, sailed with us up from Lunenburg and stayed onboard during the stop over in St. John's. As we departed, the fog rolled in pretty quickly and we had a nice cruise down to St. Pierre, arriving early in the morning in thick fog. St. Pierre really surprised us and the crew, amazing food, great hiking and the deserts people just could dream of.
Capt. Andy joined Isbjorn after his appendicitis surgery a week earlier in Newport. A great sail out of Lunenburg, the wind kept building as we sailed along the coast of Nova Scotia. To avoid a big low between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland we jumped in to Lewisbourg for a day. 20 hrs later we were out again, some frustrating light wind sailing through fog until we rounded Cape Race. The fog lifted, the wind picked up and can not say other that a spectacular sail up the coast. Dozens of humpback whales, dolphins and puffins all around the boat and we didn't drop the sails until we were in the cut to St. Johns!
The first trip for the summer and the start of our sailing up to Canada started in Annapolis. We had a great departure and sail up the Chesapeake and was out in the open ocean before we knew it. Th trip took an unexpected turn though when Andy started to feel stomach pain and the crew diverted to Newport. Andy had a quick appendicitis surgery and stayed ashore to fly up and meet the crew in Lunenburg. Andy's dad Dennis came up and captained Isbjorn up to Lunenburg, Canada.
After Andy's sister Kaitie's wedding in Key West, Mia, Andy, Liz & Thierry rendezvoused at Pam Wall's house to record the first episode of the new TV show! Then, crew joined Isbjorn on the canal across the street for the return voyage north to Annapolis. We tempted fate and left on a Friday - which I won't do again! Rough, upwind conditions dictated the trip, but it was punctuated by a calm ride around Cape Hatteras and a good finish!
Mia & Andy share some photos of what it was like to sail to Cuba this year! Feel free to share these galleries with your friends and family - if you've sailed with us and would like a high-res, un-marked photo of any of the below, email us!
It was a disappointing result, having to abandon the race 3/4 of the way through, but before we even hit the dock we decided we'd be back in 2017! The whole thing was an absolute blast! What a cool experience to push the boat that hard, for that long. Paul Exner is the man!
The second leg of 2016. This one was supposed to start in Grenada, but when we got turned back on Leg 1, we ended up back in Tortola! Thanks to an awesome crew who changed their travel plans to join us for a fun island-hopping leg to Antigua, with a stop in Ile Fourche & St. Barths!
Our first leg of 2016, and one filled with drama! Heavy weather on the way south tested our mettle, and then in the middle of the night, the furler jammed & forced us to divert back to BVI. The very next morning the mainsail blew out across a seam from leech to luff. A quick turnaround in the BVI and a new furler and mainsail and we were back in business!
Mia & Andy got their first taste of ocean sailing on Isbjorn on the delivery south from Connecticut. Our first passages with crew was in July, when we sailed from Annapolis-Lunenburg, Nova Scotia & back again. Later that fall, Paul Exner & Andy's Dad, Dennis Schell, sailed Isbjorn south in the Caribbean 1500 rally! Andy & Mia finished out the year cruising the US & Spanish Virgin Islands. Check out the photo galleries from 2015 below!