A Podcast With John and Andy Schell

Andy and me. Photo by Mia Karlsson

Andy and me. Photo by Mia Karlsson

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson of 59 North, and then spent a fascinating afternoon recording a podcast aboard their Swan 48, Isbjorn, anchored in Lunenburg harbour.

Andy, Mia, three of their crew, and I had a wide ranging conversation:

  • The history of their boat. (She was once owned by a Bermudian named Warren Brown.)
  • How I got into high latitude sailing, and some stories from my early voyages.
  • My thoughts on lithium and carbon foam batteries.
  • An update on the Adventure 40.
  • We even talked about the huge barriers, mainly financial, standing between younger people and voyaging, and brainstormed some ideas to help.

I have to say that up until a couple of years ago, when I did my first recorded interview with Andy, I simply didn’t get podcasts, like many of my generation, I suspect.

I just couldn’t see why anyone would want to spend an hour and a half listening to some old fart (me)…or anyone else for that matter…ramble on.

But then Andy and Mia explained that people their age consume information differently than I tend to do: Rather than treating a podcast like a written article or a movie, that I would normally sit down and read or view from end to end while doing nothing else, they download the whole podcast to their phone and then listen for say 10 minutes while doing the dishes, and then the next 30 minutes while driving to work, and so on until done. Might take several days.

Not only does this make boring tasks go faster—I listened to one of Andy’s podcasts while getting my teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist—it is also a very efficient way to learn new stuff.

And if you are starting to wonder where all of this is going, here’s my second appearance with Andy:

Further Listening

Assuming that I didn’t put you off for life and you want to try more podcasts, I strongly recommend Andy’s. He is an extraordinarily accomplished interviewer—I’m talking professional quality here—who has done over 150 interviews with offshore voyagers and drawn the very best and most interesting insights out of them.

So now, after two podcasts with Andy, all I have to do to become an expert is to stop laughing at my own jokes.

Further Reading

Andy also writes for Attainable Adventure Cruising. You can read his fascinating and useful story of the three, yes three, refits he and Mia have done in our Online Book How to Buy an Offshore Boat.


If, after listening to the podcast, you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment.


I and Attainable Adventure Cruising have not received any financial benefit from 59 North Ltd or their sponsors. That said, Andy and Mia are friends of mine and obviously being interviewed on their podcast provides a promotional benefit to us.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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11 comments … add one
  • Marc Dacey Aug 24, 2016, 5:23 pm

    I heard this because Andy’s a Facebook friend and it’s well worth the listen, as were the gCaptain podcasts. An advantage of podcasts, of course, and I’m not much younger than you, John, is that you can stop and start them should your attention be required elsewhere. I download them onto my phone and listen to them while splicing or crimping or other tasks aboard that don’t require strict attention. Night watches, too, might be good, as your night vision is preserved.

    John, you’re actually a good speaker…fully formed sentences and few awkward pauses. You may consider recording a few of these yourself.

    Of course, now that I’ve discovered Andy and Mia’s podcasts, I have another 150 to listen to…

  • Mike Hiscock Aug 24, 2016, 5:59 pm


    I listened to the podcast and was very pleased to hear more of who you are. It is one thing to read your posts, but hearing more details on your story really gave me perspective. I second Marc’s comments.

    To be honest, I could easily have listened to you all even longer.

    For those who don’t know about Andy’s podcasts, they are a great source for information from some of cruising’s best known names. He has a great archive.

    mike h

  • David Higgs Aug 25, 2016, 5:16 pm

    John, you broke the one golden rule of the Tilley hat. Never be photographed wearing one (particularly with the strap under your chin). Good Podcast never less.

    David H.

    • John Aug 25, 2016, 6:45 pm

      Hi David,

      That only applies if you are younger than 65. After your 65th you need to do as I do and embrace your total dork.

  • Andy Schell Aug 25, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Wow, thanks for the ego boost guys!

    Of all the things I’m involved in in the sailing world, the podcast is my absolute favorite. I LOVE all aspects of it, from meeting the people I have on, recording the interviews, learning about sound editing, etc. etc. For you fans out there, we have an INCREDIBLE lineup of guests coming out from now through the fall – most of my time shoreside in Sweden has been spent recording and editing the show. Upcoming guests include some truly world-famous sailors and heroes of mine (still a secret!), so I have to pinch myself that I actually get to do this.

    John makes an EXCELLENT point about podcasts being an ‘efficient way to learn things.’ A lot of what I’ve learned about entrepreneurship comes from Tim Ferriss’ eponymous podcast – look it up. I was inspired to create the podcast in the first place by being a fan of the Nerdist podcast. Some other shows I listen to regularly are Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Revisionist History’; a show about design called ‘99% Invisible’; ‘Startup’; ‘Serial’ (of course); and the Swedish outdoor podcast ‘Husky.’

    Spread the gospel guys!


  • John Aug 26, 2016, 9:00 am

    Hi Mike and Marc,

    Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated since I have always felt that I was a bit inarticulate in that kind of situation.

    • Marc Dacey Aug 26, 2016, 12:07 pm

      Quite the contrary, and if you feel that way, it may be because you have to speak occasionally out of your comfort zone in terms of topic. Sailing is clearly your topic.

  • Scott Arenz Aug 26, 2016, 6:43 pm

    Hi John & Andy,

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your podcast! It was a great discussion, both in terms of the technical subject matter as well as the many personal anecdotes. And the occasional background sound of the wind whistling through the rigging made it seem like the listener was right there with you aboard Isbjorn. (A most welcome illusion for this landlocked sailor!) I’m sure I speak for others in my hope that you’ll consider recording a third installment.

    Best regards,

  • Karl Westman s/v Celestial Aug 26, 2016, 9:53 pm

    I’m a huge fan of both AAC and On the Wind. I eagerly await for your postings and every other Tuesday for Andy’s podcast. Your respective POVs are enriching in there own way and both make me a better sailor. I took Andy’s Celestial Navigation course a couple years back. He is a dedicated teacher. I look forward to joining Andy and Mia on Isbjorn next summer for the Scotland to Sweden run. I agree with others John, it was great to connect the man with the voice. A great interview. You are a giant among cruising sailors. I appreciate the wisdom you provide born out of the thoughtful miles you have sailed. I imagine Andy was thrilled to have you onboard. Keep up the good work gents.

    • Andy Schell Aug 27, 2016, 9:21 am

      Hi Karl! We’re in Sweden right now at the Hallberg-Rassy yard for their ‘Oppet Varv’, ‘Open Yard’ boat show. You’re going to love it here, so gorgeous on the West Coast! Thanks for the nice comments and glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

  • Phil Aug 26, 2016, 10:10 pm

    I enjoyed all Andy’s podcast. Certainly will be listening this one too.
    Since English is not my mother tongue, podcasting makes it easier for me. Continue your great work Andy (and John, of course!)

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