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Isbjorn - Election Day on the High Seas

This blog has nothing to do with politics. We're just all curious on the big day today!

0545. I'm taking my first solo watch of the trip. Typically I don't stand watches - rather, our crew pair up, Mia takes a solo watch & I'm on-call, the crew doing three-on, six-off rotations. Tom, though, is majorly seasick and hasn't taken a watch since Day 1. For a while Ed & David and Mia & Bruce did 4-on, 4-off, but it's finally calmed down a bit so they're getting a needed break.

We predicted it'd be gnarly out here for the first few days, and the weather delivered. While the skies have been clear & the stars out at night, it's been WINDY. Yesterday it seemed to peak - when the sun came up you could finally see the size of the waves. They were big, and very beautiful. For the past two days it blew consistently in the mid -twenties, with long gusts touching 35 on our anemometer, which I have calibrated as low as it'll possibly go. And we were reaching, so it's showing only apparent wind. Isbjorn has been triple-reeled since entering the Gulf Stream. We've been back & forth with the jib on the pole and off the pole, on a port tack all the while. Mia, David, Ed & Bruce have gotten very good at setting & unsettling the pole, despite the big seas.

The Abby had some drama onboard yesterday. We heard a faint call on the VHF that they had lost steering. Spirit, another rally boat, answered and offered to divert. I was able to hail Spirit, who relayed info to The Abby for us. We were 20 miles to their northeast, and after a brief discussion decided to also divert. I had called the USCG who said their only options were to figure it out or abandon the boat, that they were way too far offshore to try to tow them. We figured if they had to end up abandoning and transfer their crew to either Spirit, us, or another commercial ship, it'd be better to have more people on standby in the vicinity. I couldn't imagine having to have done that then in those seas. Scary.

In the end, The Abby did manage to sort it out, discovering that the collar holding the quandary to the rudder stock had come loose. The steering cables would turn the quadrant, but it just slipped on the post, hence no steering, a few turns on the wrench and they were 'on their merry way' again as Spirit put it.

This marked the start of our fatigue yesterday. When we diverted we had to gybe the whole rig, which was wing-on-wing at the time. Just giving the mainsail in 30 knots, even triple-reefed, was sketchy. Soon after we got on our new course towards The Abby, they called back to say all was well - the best case scenario to be sure - we had to do it all over again. That started our 4-on, 4-off routine because I didn't want anyone alone in the cockpit in those conditions.

Finally it's abating, and sustained 20 knots feels like relief. The seas are down and we've altered course back to the East to try and get over towards 65W before the easterly Trades kick in. All is well onboard Isbjorn, save for poor Tom who's been in his bunk now for two days. Everybody adapts to seasickness eventually, but it's tough when it takes longer than you want. He's suffering, but will be fine.

As for my dad on Sojourner, it's been a blast chatting to them on SSB! He's got a great crew in Les, Ryan & Chris who are pumped to be offshore on a long passage and doing all the hard work for pops. They're also trying to get east, knowing they'll be one of the later boats to arrive, and trying to beat into the Trades as little as possible.

We're hoping to have a real cooked dinner tonight after sandwiches yesterday on account of the weather. Just saw another gust to 32, so we're not out of the woods yet, but still having fun!

-Andy / Isbjorn

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