Mia’s Birthday on ICEBEAR

June 24, 2021

As the sun rose on Mia Karlsson’s birthday, the crew aboard ICEBEAR had just turned off the engine and raised the sails. What a wonderful sound, the water rushing by the hull again. As the new starboard tack tacked me across my bunk, I looked at my phone and saw a calendar notification: ‘Mia’s Birthday!’. Hooray!

On this passage from Bermuda to Maine, Mia is not aboard the ICEBEAR. She is in Sweden getting SPICA spiffed up for a summer of sailing, and of course hanging out with Andy, Axel, friends, and family. But as I have learned this year, Mia is always onboard the 59 North boats.

Since I first met her in October 2019, I have been in awe of her easy hospitality, charm, and ready smile. The first time I sailed with Mia was just a few months later, on ICEBEAR in December. Not only can she handle ICEBEAR with her pinkie finger, she keeps every item on the boat organized in her mental spreadsheet. As I started to watch Mia’s ways and learn her systems, I started to feel nervous about trying to fill her shoes. When I realized that the potatoes were no where near done, as the crew sat around in the main salon at 6:15, already past dinner time, I felt that I had surely failed. How would I ever do this job half as well as Mia? Very quietly, just so I could hear, she assured me it would be fine. We would eat them when they were done. Until then, let’s find that bag of tortilla chips and go hang out with everyone.

Now that I am sailing my eighth passage on ICEBEAR, approaching 10,000 miles on this fine boat, I know for sure that I will never do this first mate job like Mia does. She embodies the role with a grace that is hers alone, and she makes the galley sing in a way I can only dream of. That doesn’t mean I doubt my ability in this role. In fact, Mia is a key reason I feel confident as the mate on ICEBEAR. Her attitude and attention to detail have prepared and supported me in my job in so many ways. Every bit of her trust she puts in me makes me feel empowered.

And everywhere you turn on this boat, you see Mia. The recipes that I hope she turns into a cookbook someday soon, the lists and spreadsheets that I reference constantly, the “no stumps” rule, the cookie jar labeled “Coockies” that I will never relabel, and tonight, the lined rubber gloves I was just wearing at the helm.

So on this wonderful day, the ICEBEAR crew raises a bowl of spaghetti bolognese to the reason we are happily sailing along here tonight, the first first mate, Mia.

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