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Isbjorn - Landfall in Tortola: Supermoon at Sea

Whelp, we’re here!

Isbjorn made landfall early Monday morning, the lights of Anegada, the north-easternmost of the BVI’s, visible shortly after midnight. The moon was so bright that you could see the silhouette of the flat island clearly on the horizon. We continued on a close reach towards the finish line between Scrub Island and the Dogs, crossing at just after 0400 and popping a morning bottle of bubbly to celebrate. We’d been at sea for 8 days & 13 hours, and sailed just over 1,400 nautical miles.

Our final night at sea was, no-joke, a career night for me. I’m not sure if the crew realize just how spoiled they were that night. Isbjorn blasted along under her brand-new 140% genoa and full mainsail, close-reaching in calm seas at 7-8 knots in just 12 knots of breeze. There was nary a whitecap on the water, just a gentle swell from the east, and it was calm enough to have the hatches open down below.

Overhead, the nearly full ‘supermoon’ lit up the night. As the moon rose in the east, just after we’d finished dinner, it was as if someone had shone a bright spotlight on the sails. No flashlights were needed that night to trim the sails. It was a deserved respite from the night before when squalls dotted the horizon, the wind was fluky and the sea-state was uncomfortable. Bruce & Tom took the brunt of that ugly night, and got their payback on the 0000-0300 watch on our final night at sea.

I woke up at 0230 when Nomad, an HR43 in the rally, called us up on the VHF to ask how we’d passed them! That was the last of my sleep for the night, too close to the line and too excited to go back to bed. I navigated us past Anegada and through the final 10 miles of the passage across the line. The rest of the crew woke up (Mia was the hardest to drag out of bed!), and we crossed together, a triumphant team having completed another successful passage, and the longest of the year for Isbjorn.

There is something special about a nighttime landfall, which I think the crew understood intuitively. No other traffic around, no heat from the sun, just the quiet ocean and the islands, asleep as we ghosted into Sir Francis Drake passage. We sailed one long gybing angle over towards Peter Island, in no hurry to hit the marina, and watched the moon set over the hills by West End. We gybed over and aimed the bow at Nanny Cay, stopping about a mile outside the marina as the sun was coming up for a quick swim and cleanup before getting out the ducklings and fenders. Nomad appeared and entered the cut at Nanny Cay just ahead of us, and we ended up docked right next to them.

In all, it was a drama free passage, just like I like them. I truly got into this one and finally got to experience that ‘philosophical middle stage’ of the voyage I like talking about so much. While it’s always super exciting to make landfall anywhere, I could have stayed out there longer.

The only incidents we had aboard were a snapped boom vang wire, which Ed & I quickly replaced with Dyneema, and a failed bracket on the Watt & Sea around Day 4, which was down to poor welding and nothing else. They’re repairing that as we speak in Nanny Cay. Unfortunately, it dinged up the paint on the transom when it was dragging behind the boat, so we’ve got to paint, but it’s a small area and no big deal.

So that’s it for us until February, when our 2017 season kicks off. Mia and I fly back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, then we’re off to Sweden on the 29th where we’ll spend a solid two months shoreside enjoying the Swedish winter! I’ll be hibernating in the dark days and working on the podcast. I can’t wait!

Some stats on the passage:

Miles Sailed: 1380
Average Miles per Day: 160
Average Boat Speed: 6.7 knots
Max Boat Speed: 11+
Days at Sea: 8d 13hr



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