59 North Sailing Podcast

59 North Sailing Podcast

United States

Andy Schell's conversations with sailors. '59 Degrees North' is informal chats with people from around the world of sailing - tall ship captains, Cape Horners, sailing authors, Volvo Ocean Race skippers, yacht designers, family cruisers, Arctic adventurers and more. Plus the occasional rant on ocean safety or narrative stories about crossing big oceans in small sailboats. Our aim is to define what creates success in the sailing world and figure out how to accomplish dreams on the high seas.


German Frers  

#171, The legendary yacht designer German Frers…He earned his chops working for S&S under Olin Stephens himself, but it was only through a chance meeting that he got to sketch his first namesake yacht. Frers’ one-off designs quickly began attracting the best production builders like Swan & Hallberg-Rassy, who hired him to design their bluewater cruising boats, and some of the most iconic super yachts ever built came off of his drawing board. I spoke to German on Skype from his office in Argentina about all this & much more.


Big thanks to last week’s guest & Hallberg-Rassy CEO Magnus Rassy for helping arrange this week’s interview with German Frers. The two episodes kind of go together, as German & I started our conversation discussing his side of the HR44 story, from the designer’s perspective which Magnus told at length last week from the sort of visionary’s/boat-builders perspective. You don’t need to listen to one to understand the other, but they’re fun to hear back-to-back.

Magnus Rassy, Round 2  

#170. Magnus Rassy is one of my favorite characters in sailing. He’s the CEO of Hallberg-Rassy and one of the most enthusiastic people in the sport. When I asked him how the new HR44 came to be, and why they needed a new model at all, his answer was pure Magnus.

The man has a twinkle in his eye when he talks about his boats and it was a joy to catch up with him for a second podcast interview, again recorded onboard the flagship HR 64 at their yard in Sweden, a year after our first.


Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you listening in the US!

Mia & I just returned to the US after a blistering passage south with the Caribbean 1500. The 8 ½-day trip was a heck of a way to finish off the sailing season for us. We had it all - big winds and big seas up north, a few calm spells, and classic Trade Wind sailing under the SuperMoon a few weeks back. Our landfall in Tortola, as the moon was setting and the sun was rising, was a career highlight for me. Huge thanks to our crew of Ed, Bruce, David & Tom for making it such a memorable trip for Mia & I.

By the time you hear this, Mia & I will be on the way to Sweden. We’ve got the next two months ‘off’, so to speak - off the boat anyway. For me, it’ll be a time to rest and reflect - during the long dark days of the Swedish winter, I’ll be hibernating, and it’ll be great.

I’ll also be working of course, a little bit anyway - on this podcast, mainly, but also on some new creative projects, on keeping in touch with our crew for our 2017 passages and on answering emails from our listeners - so if I haven’t gotten back to you yet, be patient, I’ll try. And if you have something to say, now’s a good time to get my attention, so fire away any ideas, suggestions or just a note to say hi.

Finally, we’ve made a few minor schedule changes for 2017, and a few of our crew have changed passages for next year so we have some open spots - 1 crew spot left for the Grendad-BVI trip in March; 3 available on the April Leeward Island & Dominica trip, which is now just ten days and scheduled to get you home in time for Easter; and 1 spot on the Azores to Scotland trip in June. That one in particular will be a great chance to do a proper long & challenging ocean passage. It’s 1,200 miles in potential heavy weather, and the temperature will be dropping as we sail north to Oban. And of course we’re all set up for the Arctic passages in 2018. See everything we have available and sign-up for a passage on 59-north.com/offshore.

Ben Doerr / Sail Bainbridge  

#169. Ben Doerr is living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. A thirty-something husband, father & sailor, Ben didn’t wait until retirement to chase his dreams. He recently refit a classic John Alden-designed Pearson Countess ketch, and sails her out of Bainbridge Island, off the coast near Seattle, running day-trips and longer adventure charters along that beautiful coastline. Ben & I hit it off immediately, and chatted at length about his sailing career, life as a dad, his ‘real’ career as a musician, building and running a sailing business, & lots more.

Sail offshore on Andy & Mia's Swan 48 Isbjorn. Visit 59-north.com/offshore for the full passage calendar, including passages in the Arctic in 2018.

Recycled: Matt Rutherford 2011  

168 is Matt Rutherford, recycled. We’re trying something new today. Or rather, something old. This week’s show is a rerun. A few episodes ago I hinted at publishing new episodes three times per month. I decided recently to fill that extra week with an old show, the idea being that some of our new listeners may not yet have ‘binged’ through the back catalog and caught up! So I’m going to recycle some of my old favorites and some of the ‘classics’, record a new intro, put them in the ‘On the Wind’ format and publish them in the ‘off’ weeks. So in effect, we’re now publishing weekly, save for a few holiday breaks here and there. It’ll be very obvious in your podcast feed when it’s a recycled episode.

Our first recycled episode features the very first conversation I ever recorded with Matt Rutherford, from way back in 2011. Makes me realize how long I’ve been doing this! This is cool because it was recorded before Matt was ‘Matt Rutherford,’ the famous explorer who became the first and only person to sail solo and non-stop around the Americas, and it’s an interesting insight into his motivations, having seen now the remarkable voyages he’s completed since. It’s also appropriate timing because Matt just recently returned to Annapolis from Greenland.

I’d like to know what you think of my recycled episodes concept. Good idea or bad idea? Send your comments and suggestion to andy@59-north.com.

Ryan Breymaier / Vendee Globe  

#167 is Ryan Breymaier, solo sailor, family man and absolute badass! Ryan is one of the few American sailors into short-handed ocean racing & won the double-handed New York to Barcelona race as co-skipper of Hugo Boss (a story Chris Museler told way back on episode #30). Ryan was in France when I spoke to him, working with Team Safran on preparing for the next Vendee Globe. We talked about his early years racing at St. Mary’s, how he got to France, what sailing on a 100-foot trimaran is like, and how to manages to balance his lifestyle with his young family.

Want to go ocean sailing yourself? Join Andy & Mia on an offshore passage expedition aboard 'Isbjorn', their Swan 48. Full calendar on 59-north.com/offshore.

Annie Dike  

166: Annie Dike is a reformed lawyer-turned-sailor - that is, she left the profession in her early 30s to pursue a more passionate life. Her and her partner Philip sail a Niagara 35 on the west coast of Florida, and they recently crossed the Atlantic to France on a high-tech Catamaran. Annie & I discussed how she left the lawyer world behind, what the Atlantic crossing was like for a first-time ocean sailor, her various movie projects, her friendship with Pam Wall & her passion for helping others pursue the cruising lifestyle.

Annie Dike is a truly interesting & inspiring character, and what follows was one of the more fun-loving and honest interviews I’ve done in a while. Annie has an infectious personality, and has been using her lawyer-like work ethic to offer cruising opportunities to other aspiring sailors. Mia & I recently teamed up with Annie to offer one of our offshore passages aboard Isbjorn to one of her fans - check out Annie’s Patreon page on patreon.com/havewindwilltravel for details.

WRI on Hurricane Matthew  

#165. Weather Routing Inc. provides all of the forecasting for the passages Mia & I run aboard Isbjorn. I consult with them to plan the best departure window before a passage, and once offshore can get updates on-demand when I feel I need them. Jeremy Davis & Amanda Delaney, meteorologists for WRI, came by Isbjorn during last week’s Annapolis Boat Show to talk weather, namely, Hurricane Matthew, which we spent the majority of the episode discussing.

Hurricane Matthew is the subject of most of today’s episode. It’s with a heavy heart that I report that one of our best friends lost their boat in the storm literally only hours after we recorded this, on the Friday of Annapolis Boat Show. It’s a long story, but they were forced to leave the boat, an Ericsson 35, in Daytona after having to replace their engine following a winter cruising in the Bahamas. It was a chain of events that started all the way back in April, culminating in the worst news you’d ever want to hear as a boat owner. They’d owned the boat for nearly 30 years.

I’m in Connecticut as I record this, at my producer Liz’ apartment. Big thanks to Liz for setting up our first university lecture at her school at UConn Avery Point, definitely one of the more beautiful campus’ I’ve visited. And thanks to all of you who came out to hear us talk ocean sailing! We had a blast! And if there’s anyone out there listening who wants to set up a talk at their school, please reach out! Mia & I would love to come and chat and hang out on campus!

Kari Finstad  

#164 is Kari Finstad, a 30-something Norwegian sailor and yoga instructor. Kari recently purchased and refit a 32-foot Wauquiez Centurion - one of my favorite boats, and comparable to the legendary Contessa 32 - and spends most of her time above the Arctic Circle. We talked about her yoga travels to India & the east, her winter on Bjornoya in the Arctic working at the meteorology station, refitting the Wauquiez, her cat companion, baking bread, making kombucha & much more.


Want to go ocean sailing? Join Andy & Mia on their Swan 48 at 59-north.com/offshore.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston  

#163 is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, a sailing legend. In 1968 he became the first person to sail solo & nonstop around the world in the infamous Golden Globe Race, in a wooden ketch he built himself, and inspiring modern ocean racing as we know it. Sir Robin went on to compete in several Whitbread races, completed some little-known feats of traditional navigation, set the Jules Verne record with Peter Blake, created the Clipper Race and on and on. I sat down with him in England to reflect on his career.

"I got a job in Durban, as captain of a ship, running up & down the east coast. And that’s when Chichester went past on his voyage around the world and I began to think about it. I got home, and I saw him come in, saw him come up the Thames, and I thought, ‘There’s one thing left to do - go around without stopping.’"

You’re listening to On the Wind, my podcast about ocean sailing. I’m Andy Schell.


Want to go ocean sailing? Join Andy & Mia on their Swan 48 Isbjorn at 59-north.com/offshore.

Moxie Marlinspike  

Moxie Marlinspike is a legend in tech. As a programmer, he literally wrote the code that enables everyday encryption. He’s friendly with Edward Snowden and was recently feature in WIRED magazine. Moxie, though, is a sailor at heart. I worked together with him at Broadreach way back in 2008. We caught up to talk about his unique sailing philosophy, his movie ‘HOLD FAST’ & his rise in the tech world.

If you’ve followed the news even tangentially, you’ll have heard about encryption. Remember Edward Snowden? His revelations about the FBI’s mass collection of data from everyday Americans set off a wave of stories centered around personal privacy & national security. Today’s guest is at the center of that debate - Moxie Marlinspike, almost single-handedly invented everyday encryption, and his code was recently implemented in WhatsApp and Facebook’s new ‘secret’ Messenger service. If you’re interested in this sort of thing at all, I highly recommend watching the documentary about Snowden called Citizen Four, and reading the recent WIRED Magazine profile on Moxie, which you can easily find on Google, or I’ll link it in the show notes.


This episode is sponsored by Forbes Horton Yachts. Visit his online inventory and get in touch to buy or sell your next boat at forbesyachts.com.

John & Amanda Neal in Sweden  

#161 is John & Amanda Neal for a third time, who have run adventure sailing expeditions on their Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare for over 20 years. They’ve sailed 220,000 miles on the boat, taking her quite literally to the ends of the earth. We chatted in-person at the Hallberg-Rassy boatyard in Sweden about their recent summer in the Arctic.

In case you missed it, in last week’s newsletter Mia and I officially published our 2018 offshore passage calendar. Isbjorn is headed north! That’s right, we’re Arctic bound in summer 2018, with passages to Scotland, Norway, Spitsbergen & Iceland. Visit 59-north.com/arctic for details & to register. As a nod to our podcast fans, we’ve not ‘linked’ this page online yet - so you guys get first dibs before the big launch at the boat show. You can come visit us on Dock H at the Annapolis Sailboat Show to tour Isbjorn and talk about ocean sailing.

Brian Porter, Comanche Builder  

Brian Porter was on the build team for the record-breaking, 100-foot supermaxi ‘Comanche,’ and continues to work on owner’s Jim & Kristy Clark’s shore crew. He came on the podcast to talk about his boat-building beginnings, getting a dream job building Comanche, working alongside pro sailors Ken Red, Stan Honey & Jimmy Spithill, Comanche’s recent trans-Atlantic record, the America’s Cup and much more.

Want to try your hand at ocean sailing? Sign on as crew on Andy & Mia's Swan 48 'Isbjorn' and learn what it takes to cross an ocean in safety, comfort and style. See the full passage calendar, including trans-Atlantic voyages, a North Sea crossing and a trip into the Baltic at 59-north.com/offshore.

Pam Wall on Film  

Pam Wall, the film version. When we changed the name of the show to On the Wind, I hinted about new projects in the works. Today I can finally announce one of them. The episode that follows is the audio version of this week’s ‘On the Wind,’ which in its original form is actually a film, directed by Thierry Humeau and shot in Pam Wall’s backyard in Ft. Lauderdale back in April. This is the first of what will become a sort of special addition to the podcast when Thierry and I have time to film & produce it. The film version will release simultaneously with the podcast, so make sure to visit 59-north.com/onthewind to watch it, or subscribe to our new YouTube channel at youtube.com/59northsailing. There’s also some special bonus footage, including a film tour with Pam and I or her iconic Freya 39 ‘Kandarick.’ Thanks to Pam for participating! And big thanks also to Liz Karamavros for helping to brainstorm the name; to Cameron Deyell, for composing and recording the music especially for the show; to Mia Karlsson; and to Thierry for coming up with the idea in the first place! I truly hope you enjoy it.

Sailing to Cuba  

Isbjorn sailed to Cuba in April. Finally, my full-length essay on the experience in Havana. This one is for the dreamers, filled with descriptions of what it’s like at marina Hemingway, chasing signs of Che, Fidel and the Cuban revolution, drinking daquaries at La Floridita, sipping Havana Club rum, smoking cigars, driving around in old cars and everything else that defines the Cuban experience. Don't miss the music too, recorded locally.

John Harries, Round 2  

Episode 157 is John Harries, the founder of morganscloud.com, AKA ‘Attainable Adventure Cruising,’ and in my opinion the foremost authority on safe and simple ocean sailing boats & equipment. He’s an accomplished high latitudes sailor with over 150,000 miles under his keel. Mia and I met him for a round 2 on the podcast in Lunenburg, where he dinghied out to Isbjorn for an in-person chat.

We discussed sailing in the Arctic, Isbjorn's original owner Warren Browne, who John sailed with, Skip Novak, batteries for offshore cruising boats, the Adventure 40 project, podcasting and media in general and much, much more.

We’re joined in this episode by some of Isbjorn’s crew for the leg 9, south from Lunenburg to Annapolis. They chime in later in the chat with their own comments and questions, and are my good friend Tom Herrington, the guy with the Richmond accent; crew member Dan Levine; my producer, Liz Karamavros; and Mia.


Thanks for listening to ‘On the Wind,’ the podcast about sailing. If you’ve enjoyed the show, do us a big favor and help spread the word. Review us on iTunes, or better yet, share the podcast with your friends who you think might dig it. We really appreciate it.

On the Wind is produced by me and Liz Karamavros. Cameron Deyell composed and performs the new intro music for the show. Blaggards are behind the outro music. Steve Olson is the graphic designer for all of 59 North’s projects, including the podcast artwork.

Subscribe to ‘On the Wind’ on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever else you get your podcasts. If you haven’t done so yet, please head over to iTunes and leave a review for the show, it really & truly helps. And finally, huge thanks to all of our awesome listeners! Keep sending in your feedback and suggestions to andy@59-north.com. See you next week!

Ocean Sailing Forum Toronto  

Episode 156 is another World Cruising Club ‘Ocean Sailing Forum,’ this one recorded back in January at the Toronto International Boat Show. In the Forum, I moderated a panel of experienced ocean sailors including Les Suter, who you’ll recall from episode 97, Toronto native Colin Kilgour, Sheryl Shard of the Distant Shores TV show, Caribbean 1500 and ARC Europe vets Joy & Ian Winterborn, and finally, drumroll please, Mia Karlsson! I give a thorough introduction to who all of the panelists are in the actual episode. Towards the last third, there is also a guest appearance by author & circumnavigator Liza Copeland!

These panel discussions, which we try and do at all of the boat shows - the next one, by the way, is coming up in Annapolis this fall…go to 59-north.com/events to register - touch on all aspects of ocean voyaging, from boat selection and outfitting, to sailing routes, crew selection, weather routing & forecasting and much more. This is a long one, running at close to 2 hours, so get comfy and enjoy the chat! While I’ve posted two previous Forums on the podcast, they’ve all had different panelists, so you can always learn something new. Finally, big thanks to the Toronto Show staff, specifically Rich, the sound engineering, for facilitating me recording our seminars there!


Join me and my friends at Chesapeake Sailmakers in Annapolis for a weekend of traditional navigation and good old storytelling. Go to 59-north.com/celestial for details and to signup! Course is limited to the first twelve people to register. Hope to see you there!


This episode is sponsored by Marine Electric Systems in Annapolis, MD. Patrick Tewes and his crew are gurus in electrical systems and design, from the ‘guts’ of the system like batteries and alternators, to the electronic nav aids like radar and autopilots. Patrick’s mentor, Bob Campbell, used to be affectionately known around town as the ‘Yoda’ of boat electrical systems. Which must make Patrick the ‘Luke Skywalker’ I suppose!? Patrick redid the entire electrical system on my dad’s Sojourner prior to his first Caribbean trip in 2013, and recently installed a Watt & Sea Hydrogenerator aboard Isbjorn prior to our Canadian Maritimes passage. The unit, when sailing over 6 knots and with the larger, 280mm prop, puts out up to 40 amps of clean power, making us entirely sustainable offshore. It’s my favorite new addition to the boat. Marine Electric Systems - specializing in custom electrical & electronic system design, installation, consulting, service, repair and education. Visit marineelectricsystems.net to contact Patrick and get started designing your dream system.



Andy Schell  

So, Episode 155 is…me. Back in January, Teddy J of the Sail Loot podcast and I had a marathon recording session, banging out two-and-a-half hours of material while Mia and I were up there for the Toronto Boat Show. I had a bit of a cold, hence my voice sounding a bit off. The first hour-and-a-half was Teddy interviewing me for his show. Sail Loot focuses on folks in sailing who have figured out a way to make money by doing what they love (like in my case), or make some kind of passive income so they are free to actually go sailing. Teddy’s working on that himself.

Anyway, Teddy’s half of the interview, where I turned the tables and interviewed him, appeared on my show earlier this year. Simultaneously, my portion released on his show on the same day. I know there will be some of you guys who tuned in to Sail Loot to hear me on Teddy’s show, but for those of you who haven’t what follows is a fresh look at my entire sailing history, going way back to when my parents had just gotten married and went on their first captained charter on their honeymoon from Florida to the Bahamas. I talk about how my dad’s dad, ‘Pappap’ as I know him, started a restaurant in 1952 so he could own and train his own race horses, how that same restaurant is now run by my dad and my uncle (and which affords my dad the income and the flexibility that allows him to sail as much as he does), how I grew up on the Chesapeake with my parents, where I went to college and what for, my first job on the Woodwind and on and on. I don’t think Teddy left too many stones unturned here, and there are a lot of little practical nuggets in here of just how I positioned my career to end up at the point we are at today. This stuff didn’t just happen by accident (well, some of it maybe).

Anyway, enjoy the conversation between me and Teddy, and let me know in an email what else you'd like to know about me!

As per usual, thanks to all of you for listening, and for all the great support I got this week after my surgery! Enjoy episode 155 with yours truly.



I just got in to Lunenburg earlier this afternoon. It’s Saturday, July 9 as I record this intro. Isbjorn is due in sometime tonight, but they’ve been beating against a 20-25 knot northeasterly, so it’s been challenging, and slow going. I, you might recall, am on day 4 of recovering from my appendectomy. Today is the best day yet, and I’m confident that I’ll be ready to head back to sea in another two days and very much looking forward to Newfoundland. Don’t forget, anybody with last minute vacation time, we’ve still got a couple spots left for Leg 9, the return from Lunenburg to Annapolis. If you even remotely have the inclination to do it, come! Lunenburg is such a cool town, as I was reminded yet again on my arrival today. If you can’t make a sailing trip with us but still want to support the podcast and the business, head over to 59-north.com/shop and buy a bag of ‘Oh-Dark-Thirty’ coffee, an Isbjorn sailing t-shirt, or one of our new isbjorn sailing winter beanies, which are pretty sweet.


Appendicitis Offshore  

About 48 hours has passed since my appendectomy. I’m sitting at my cousin Dan’s kitchen table in North Andover, about 20 miles from Boston, writing this while I spend a few days here recovering. Isbjorn is back at sea, having departed Newport yesterday morning around 0800, about the same time I jumped in the car to drive the two hours north to here.

I’m stiff. I’m sore. I haven’t had a good poop since Sunday morning. I’m bored. I’ve watched more TV than I have in years. On the plus side, Wimbledon and the Tour de France is on in the mornings, and Germany is about to play France this afternoon in the Euro football championships to see who gets to play Portugal in the Finals. This whole thing feels surreal.

The thing is, I never get sick. Ever. At least not the kind of sick that requires a visit to the doctor, let alone to the hospital. In an ambulance! The occasional cold, sure. The flu? I had it once in the past ten years. I was due for this, in a pessimistic way I guess. And almost fitting that it happened not only on the boat, but also while we were offshore at sea, and with paying crew to boot! And to me! Anyway. Here’s what happened.

John Franta on Rigging Tech.  


John Franta of Colligo Marine has been on the podcast before of course, in episode 45, where we discuss his career and some of the technical aspects of Colligo ‘Dux,’ the synthetic, dyneema-based standing rigging that we put on Arcturus before crossing the Atlantic. John’s back this week to discuss some more technical aspects of his job at Colligo.

We start the discussion by focusing on one of John’s most recent inventions, the so-called ‘ELHF’ furling system, and I use that as a sort of primer for discussing in general how he comes up with new ideas and what the design and production life cycle is like. John is as pure an engineer as there is, and LOVES the technical aspects of running a synthetic yacht rigging company, and it’s a joy to hear him talk about his passions so, well, passionately! He gets to play with CAD and 3D printers all day long, so what’s not to like (if you’re an engineer!).

John’s also been a dear friend of mine since we first met in 2009, and you can kind of see that in the way we talk throughout the episode, it’s definitely a lot less formal than some of my other interviews. I think you’ll dig it.

Crew arrives this afternoon for our next trip up to Lunenburg. By the time you hear this we’ll be offshore, bound for Nova Scotia - check out our passage logs and follow the trip on 59-north.com/tracking.

We’ve also got a few spots left for the return passage, August 6-14 from Halifax to Annapolis. It’s not too late to join! Go to 59-north.com/offshore for details - I hope by the time we get to Lunenburg, one of you faithful listeners out there has decided to sign up an join us!

Finally, we’ve got some new swag! In time for our passage to colder climes, we’ve ordered #isbjornsailing beanies. They come in any color, so long as it’s black! Go to 59-north.com/shop to check them out and get yours now. $25, plus shipping.

Okay, enough about us. Enjoy episode 153 with John Franta!


Jeremy Davis, Weather Routing Inc.  

Jeremy Davis from Weather Routing Inc. talks with Andy Schell about climate change, pilot charts, hurricane season, Bahamian 'doratios' (i.e. wicked and sustained thunderstorms), how to become a meteorologist, the difference between weather routing & weather forecasting & much much more in a very informative and technical episode 152 on weather.

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