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Pantaenius 2022 - SAIL LEADERBOARD - ROW

The Skipper's Briefing | Vol. 3, No. 2

by Nikki Henderson 4 Mar 2023 07:50 UTC


Welcome to The Skippers Briefing, a monthly(ish) newsletter from The 59º North QUARTERDECK exploring the art of seamanship. Join the conversation on The Quarterdeck at



Storms draw something out of us that calm seas dont.

Bill Hybels



Its no secret that sailors miss greenery when they are away for weeks at sea. Ive fantasised about seeing a tree, or grass, or a plant many a day with my crew amidst the beauty of the ocean. Ive dreamed of towering mountains, rolling hills, the smell of the solid, unmoving earth - longed for it in fact.

So, this winter (on land) Ive been developing a new hobby: growing things. Every day in 2023 that Ive found challenging, I bought a houseplant. The greenery serves as a daily reminder that its the difficult days that we grow most from. Thanks to our dear friends Jenny and Nuno in Portugal for the inspiration. They sent me home earlier this year with three suitcases full of ICEBEARs safety equipment, and a hand luggage of five fig tree cuttings from their magical farm home. Now my fig trees are blooming on my windowsill inside their water bottle greenhouses. Ill be sure to keep you all in the loop on the development of the future 59 North side business: the Southsea Fig Farm.

Ive just returned from Falkens debut week with 59 North crew. Before I continue, I dont want to pass this moment without giving it the recognition it deserves. Falken is sailing! In fact, Andy is about to lift anchor and sail her to Ireland, waving adieu to the dusty boatyard in search for warmer climates. We keep pinching ourselves; she is officially in action, almost exactly a year since she went into the shed. It has been a marathon of a project and we are so excited to show her off to all of you.

Rewinding a week - February in the English Channel delivered exactly what we expected gale force winds, rig shaking sea states, freezing cold crew, a damp boat, sloshing bilges (leaking water tank) and more vomit than I saw in the whole of 2020-2022 combined. How is my sales pitch going so far? Isbjorns 2024 calendar just aired ;) Its lucky I didnt have internet, or the home garden centre might have gotten out of hand. But yet - my stomach muscles are aching from laughing so much. Does this paradox sound familiar to any of you?

We had similar reflections after the trial sail on Falken in January (which was just as - if not more - gruesome a sail). I had a realisation that week. Just because we are comfortable - as I had been at home that month - warm, dry, safe at home, taking baths every evening, and seeing friends at the weekend - doesnt mean we are happy. The first two weeks of January were some of the hardest days mentally, that I have ever had in my life. And in the same vein, just because we are uncomfortable does not automatically mean we will feel unhappy. We all agreed that the exhausting, brutal - honestly awful - few days of trial sailing were some of the best days at sea any of us had ever had. Just as with Falkens leg 1 last week, our stomachs ached from laughing so hard, we were glowing from the fresh air, and we were all just so very happy!

Sailing is like a love letter to ourselves. Like love it can be both magical, and painful at the same time. With the challenge and the hardship of sailing, comes an opportunity for us to shine, to stand taller, and to grow. Just like plants, who need a frosty winter or a dry summer to strengthen their roots and breed sweeter fruits, we too - need hardship to be the best versions of ourselves. The best life has contrast I texted my friend recently. And what Ive realised this winter - is that for me - happiness is about balance. When the warm baths and the smell of fresh grass sit alongside the ferocious breeze and the wild adventurous seas - that is when I live my best life.

This morning, dawn broke at 0545. Spring is finally poking her head out from the darkness. Its time to come out of hibernation and make plans for the year. As you think ahead, I hope this inspires you to try something new - and to embrace the growth that comes with stepping outside your comfort zone.



The post trip shot - type 2 fun



2023 is 95% full - just three spots remaining on FALKEN and none on ISBJORN. The exciting news though is the ISBJORNS 2024 calendar just went live. Stay tuned for FALKEN to follow suit in March


6 // ANTIGUA-BERMUDA // May 22
14 // AZORES-PORTUGAL // Oct 17


THE WHOLE 2024 CALENDAR JUST AIRED! Isbjorn is doing Up Helly AA again after the success in January. Then she is heading north for our 59N debut sail-and-ski trip, then out to the gorgeous Lofoten Islands before another first for us - the historical Shetland Race. We are so excited for this season!



Building a Life Worth Living // Marsha M. Linehan

I actually finished this book at the end of last year. Its a biography by Marsha Linehan about how she came to develop a special type of behavioural therapy called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. The basic premise, is that if we learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings, rather than running away from them or ignoring them or distracting ourselves - and instead radically accepting them - we process them better and ultimately end up living a happier life. Why? Because, we spend less energy on things we cannot change, and direct that energy to things we do have control over. In other words - sinking into the inevitable discomfort of our lives leads us ultimately to living a greater more fulfilling life.

Why did I read this? Because one of the biggest barriers to my sailing career has been the ability to accept and move on from mistakes I have made at sea. Dealing with emergencies in the moment is something we focus on a lot in sail training. But dealing with the aftermath of an emergency is also a skill. At sea, errors are inevitable, forecasts can be wrong, things break, conflict happens - you just have to look at Falkens refit to realise this. And Falken wasnt even at sea!

We have a choice to use negative experiences at sea to learn and grow rather than punish ourselves. But mid-ocean, without distraction, or loved ones, or privacy, or a glass of wine - moving through failure constructively is exceptionally difficult. For any of you looking to prepare yourselves for decision making offshore and further - I cant stress enough the value that comes with honing the skill of radical acceptance.

// Nikki

Marsha, wouldn't you rather have the freedom to not have what you want, whatever it is? Wouldn't you feel better if you were free not to have all the things you think you want?" .. Pat was right. We are better off accepting what life has to offer, rather than living under the tyranny of having to have things we don't yet have. This is not to say that we are to be completely passivenot at all. It means that we should strive for important goals, but we must radically accept that we might not obtain them. It is letting go of having to have. And accepting what is.



If youre already a QDECK member, click the link below to see the post. If youre not a QDECK member yet, clicking the link below will bring you to the signup page. New members get a two-week free trial to test-drive the site!

USING AN ATN GALE SAIL AS A STORM JIB // Quarterdeck Member: Jim

Has anyone used an ATN Gale Sail as a storm jib? Someone recommended it to me as a storm jib option on a boat with no inner stay and a furling headsail. We have an Ericson 38 masthead rig / furling headsail / no inner stay. Curious to know peoples' thoughts or experiences with them. Thx!


Sarah is looking for a weather course online!

I saw that Jim recommended the Starpath course a while back. Anyone familiar with the Isler Academy course ( Any other recommendations? Thank you!


Nikki and Andy have begun putting together a how-to series. This is Nikkis trick on how to put on a lifejacket at sea. The aim is to build a library over time of all the how-tos you need to go ocean sailing!


The most recent Sunday's Seam'nship Scenario was from Andy - digging into another common parking nightmare that we all dread - the CROSSWIND. 

He parked up FALKEN and ended up in a number of near misses that he dissected. The recording of the zoom chat is up for members to watch and learn from.




To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward



This months bounty that we gathered from the far reaches of the Internet to make you a better thinker, leader and sailor. Prepare to be boarded. Yaaargh!


Big news this month as sail GP faced disaster in Sydney when hurricane force winds took hold of Team Canadas wing and left destruction in its wake. Thankfully no one died, but its certainly worth a watch just to see the sheer power these foils have.

Perhaps just take it as a healthy reminder that even the experts at the top of the field end up in messy situations sometimes.

Nikki Henderson // Yachting World

Slightly uncomfortable self promotion here - but excited to announce that I (Nikki) am now stepping into the space left by Skip Novak in Yachting World - and writing a monthly column. So click on this link and subscribe to Yachting World if you are interested in reading more than just this Skippers Briefing!


True Spirit is a 2023 Australian biopic film directed by Sarah Spillane and co-written by Spillane, Cathy Randall, and Rebecca Banner.[1] The film is based on the true story of Jessica Watson, played by Teagan Croft. She is an Australian sailor who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal after attempting a solo global circumnavigation at the age of 16.

We are still deciding on whether or not we love the film, but its certainly an inspirational story. Write to us and tell us what you think. For sure a book & film club episode will be coming up soon for this!



Heres what we all have to look forward to:

  • The second half of Falkens 2024 schedule: Stay tuned in March for the publishing of Falkens later schedule for next year. Will we do another transatlantic? Or will we keep her in the USA?

  • Seamanship Scenarios: Were bringing back a core part of the initial launch of the Quarterdeck with four new seasons. Live sessions will be on Sundays.

  • Get-to-know-the-team videos: We have just finished producing short introduction videos for all of our skippers, mates and 59North staff so that you get to know us before you sail. We love them and cant wait to show you. They will appear on the website this week!

  • Book & Film Club: The first book club is held on 28th Feb 2023, and will be available live or on catch up on the Qdeck with August! This months discussion is about the book Adrift.

Beyond the Quarterdeck-specific items ahead, heres what else is cooking at 59º North:

  • Annapolis Boat Show Seminar is now a live event. Its upgraded from two days to three for 2023, and we are SO excited. Not only will there be the seminar talking all things seamnship, but we are also hosting our annual 59 North party on the Thursday night. We hope to see as many of you there as possible - past and future crew, as well as any Quarterdeck members and general podcast or 59N fans!


Smile lines and salty skin = evidence: sailing is just good for the soul.


Its been an inspiring morning writing this - reminding myself once again why the sea runs through my veins and always will do. Its got me dreaming of buying my own boat living my own adventures time to stop. Happy spring planning.

// Nikki


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