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.
It’s been a LONG time since I talked much about the business on here, and, now three years in (almost) and at the dawn of a new year, I feel like this is as good a time as any. I’m writing and recording this in real-time, by the way - as I write this, it’s just before 1000 SWE time on Tuesday January 2, the day this will release.
Mia & I spent a lot of yesterday afternoon, January 1, reflecting on 2017 and planning ahead for 2018, across the business. The big question that we kept reminding ourselves of was the overall mission statement of 59 North. What, exactly, do we do, what do we WANT to do, and HOW do we accomplish that without getting sidetracked.
These are some of the memories of my South Pacific journey that this book I’m reading is churning up. I’m surprised they’re coming back in such detail. Despite the whisky, I can see the bamboo walls on the interior of my little hut on that island in the morning light when Alex banged on my door to go surfing. I was slam-bang hammered that morning, with no right to remember anything. But they’re there, clear memories from that tumultuous time, when everything changed.
I wonder when they’re going to have to change the height restrictions on the ICW? Sea level rise is absolutely a real thing, and we didn’t see a single bridge that actually showed the full, advertised 65’ of vertical clearance since leaving Norfolk. Part of it was due to the Super Moon, but most of the locals we spoke to in Melbourne said it’s been high all year, and I read reports on Active Captain as old as 2011 that stated that the Wabasso Bridge was showing low clearances back then.
Our first night out was a ripper. Meri has no pole, so we sailed gybing angles in the following wind, opting to head offshore first with two reefs in the main and the full genoa. The NE'ly that had us on the inside for two days was still blowing, kicking up a boisterous sea, short and steep over the shallow water. Down below it was hard to sleep with the rolling, one of the more frustrating motions offshore. I laid on my back, and each time Meri rolled, my head would roll with her, jostling me awake. Eventually you learn how to curl up and hunker down against the motion, but the first night is always tiring.
We anchored s/v Meri just off the ICW last night around mile marker 265. A nice-looking 35-footer called Valkyrie was anchoring in a similar spot, just to the east of the channel in the only little hole of deep water. He called us up on the VHF as we waited for him to find his spot before moving in ourselves. The sun had gone over the horizon, leaving a brilliant orange glow to the south, that faded into a clear, deep blue sky overhead, with the first stars starting to resolve into view. The white glow of the chartplotter at the helm station illuminated my dad’s face as he concentrated on piloting us in the cross current.
I feel much better about our plan now, having bought some supplies at West Marine. We got 40’ of dyneema and some basic splicing tools so I can make some strops and stuff for the boat. I bought two Harken air blocks for the outboard genoa tracks, to get a better sheeting angle off the wind on the headsail. And to use on the bow for the mainsail preventer. I bought two rolls of sail repair tape and a ‘handy stitcher’. And a pair of ‘Seal Skinz’ gloves - temps are forecast to be in the mid-30s for the next few mornings, and offshore that air will feel even colder sitting in the cockpit.
We’re motoring down the ICW now towards the Cape Fear inlet, another 100 miles on past Beaufort, where we’ll go offshore tomorrow. Motoring on the ‘inside’ for two days will only save us about 12 hours in the big picture (as opposed to just waiting in Beaufort until Saturday morning). But it gives us something to do, a purpose. I made hard-boiled eggs for breakfast that we ate in the cockpit. Soft enough on the inside to be nice to eat, but not runny.
Stuck in Beaufort. Rain pours from the sky, heavier now than it’s been all morning. Any last inkling of going offshore today has been officially washed out.
Dad, Tom & I borrowed the car from the Three Nice Guys at the Beaufort Docks marina and drove to Atlantic Beach for a midday breakfast at the Four Corners Diner, then on to West Marine to get a few supplies. Because that’s what you do during a weather delay.
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?