Andy grew up sailing his mom & dad's boat's, all called 'Sojourner', on the Chesapeake Bay (literally from the time he was in diapers). During his 4th-grade, they sailed south as a family - Andy, younger sister Kaitie, Gail & Dennis and two cats, Ketchie and Salty - and spent the winter cruising the Bahamas.
He met Mia on a backpacking trip in New Zealand in 2006, and the two have been seeking adventures together ever since. They've logged over 70,000 bluewater miles and have crossed the Atlantic a combined seven times (4 for Mia, 3 for Andy). Andy & Mia are based in Sweden when they're off the boat & love endurance sports!
Mia Karlsson - Mate // @miapahavet
Mia grew up 'ute på landet' - that's 'out in the countryside' - in rural Sweden, about 60 minutes drive inland from Stockholm & far from the sea. She was a strong swimmer in high school and competed on a national level in Sweden.
Mia took off for New Zealand with her best friend Johanna (who thought Andy's name was 'Eddie' for three days when the first met). She didn't start sailing - was never even on a sailboat - until a 4-day charter in the Marlboro Sounds in NZ on a 28-foot boat with Andy, Johanna, Clint & Glenn. Mia hasn't looked back since, and has more Atlantic crossings that Andy now (which she's quick to point out!). In Sweden Mia loves to run, bike & bake bread.
DENNIS ('ANDY'S DAD') SCHELL - Relief Captain // @svsojourner
Andy's Dad Dennis taught Andy (and oftentimes Mia) everything he knows. Dennis started sailing in his mid-twenties with Andy's mom Gail - their honeymoon was to the Bahamas in the 70's with a captained charterboat. When they were just 28 and 30, they took off on an old Phil Rhodes-designed Chesapeake 32 and spent the winter cruising the Bahamas.
Dennis has sailed many thousands of bluewater miles and stands in for Andy when he can't (like when he got appendicitis offshore!). Dennis is also super-supportive of the whole charade, and Andy & Mia use his basement as temporary storage when they're home. Sadly, Gail died of brain cancer in 2012.
PAUL EXNER - Racing skipper & Relief captain // modern geographic
'Pablo', 'X-Man' or just plain 'Paul' (depending on the day) is Isbjorn's Racing Skipper & Relief Captain when Andy can't make the trip. He grew up sailing in Puerto Rico, racing catamarans along the north coast. Paul's a phenomenal teacher, earning his chops at Steve Colgate's Offshore Sailing School, and later as head coach of the University of Wisconsin's sailing team.
Paul built his own Cape George Cutter from a bare hull. Solstice rides to her anchor in Trellis Bay, Tortola, and Paul & his family live just around the bend. You can sail on Solstice through moderngeographic.com.
Shore Team & Behind-the-Scenes
Ryan Bradfield - shore support // @rb1685
Ryan grew up in a small town in southeast Texas, fishing and kayaking the coastal waters there. Four years ago, he caught the sailing bug, and is now restoring a 1975 Westsail 32, Lorilee, with aspirations of long-distance voyaging. Lorilee is currently berthed in Kemah, TX.
A long-time fan of On the Wind podcast, Ryan joined the Isbjorn crew for the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 and has done numerous races along the Texas coast. When he's not toiling in fiberglass or sawdust on the boat, he enjoys paddleboarding, powerlifting, and scuba diving.
Ben Soofer - Apprentice & PR Intern // @bsoof
Originally from Washington, D.C., Ben grew up sailing on the intracoastal rivers of North Carolina. Ben mainly helps Andy & Mia on the digital side of things at 59 North, but has a nautical past worth noting. He has worked as a sailing instructor for past six summers and has also garnered deckhand experience aboard several larger yachts. A lover of all things outdoors, Ben is an avid skier and hiker. Before leaving for University, Ben was able to sail from the Caribbean to Tahiti abroad S/Y Argo; crossing the equator is something he's unlikely to ever forget.
Ben is a junior-year student at the University of Denver studying Strategic Communications. While he's currently land-locked in the Central United States, Ben stays connected to sailing through his work at 59 North with Andy & Mia.
There are way more people than are listed on this page who we owe our success to. But we wanted to make sure that those who have a regular role with us, whether supportive or direct (as crew, refit help, etc.) get properly recognized as being part of the team.
Thanks to everyone not featured here as well - all of you who helped at the refit party, everybody who emails in their support of the podcast, sailing friends in far-flung corners of the globe, our industry supporters & especially all of our crew who come sail with us and make this all possible!
Are you in college and want to apprentice with us? Drop Andy an email!
GAIL SCHELL (1950-2012)
Andy's mom Gail is the spiritual leader of the family and indeed all that Andy has pursued as an adult. Her mantra when Andy was a kid was 'do what you love & the money will follow.' Gail & Dennis taught Andy all he knew about sailing - they spent the winter of 1993/94 cruising the Bahamas on Sojourner, the family's 36' Allied Princess ketch.
Sadly Gail died in 2012 after a long bout with brain cancer. Her universal energy lives on in how Andy lives his life and inspires him to pursue his passions.
Andy's grandfather is the entrepreneurial influence in Andy's business life. He's also a big kid - he turns 86 in 2016, but acts like he's 20!
In 1952, Paul started 'Schell's', and almost 65 years later it's still going strong! He also used to be a successful horse trainer and driver and proves that with hard work & good will, anything is possible.
Sadly, Paul's wife Jessie ('Mommom') died in the fall of 2013. Mommom was also a huge supporter of following your dreams.