July 25, 2017
The first three days we headed south after a trip around the west end of Catalina Island. This decision was based on an private weather routing service Kirk and Rob arranged. The fast track was not going to be a direct line or the great circle route, but move south rather quickly while the high developed well to the North which will kick up the trades that will suck our little boat all the way to Diamond Head. We were very excited and optimistic about our chances of not only finishing but doing well in our division.
It was light wind all around the first couple of days, and very frustrating as we read the daily progress reports that we receive from our race committee. Heading south was a commitment and we still don't know if that strategy would pay off. But we felt we were pushing as hard as we could without doing any damage to the boat or performing dangerous manuvers.
On day three the spinnakers started to come out and we enjoyed a good boat motion for a couple of days, the wind continued to move behind us with a 5 foot swell that is fun for us to surf on but makes good sleep elusive due to being rolled from side to side. I moved from the rear quarter berth to the starboard pipe berth which has some Lee cloth rigged to keep you locked in place. Anyone who has laid down in the back of a pick up truck with their eyes closed while the truck be bops down a winding, hilly country road can imagine the sensation, lots of unpredictable movement coupled with the whine of the hydro generator really makes no sense to your brain and I found that earplugs really did help with the clutter.
Communication by satellite was quirky, we just dont know if all our messages got through. So after awhile I stuck with emailing Wendy and the occasional blog post.
We sailed as fast as we could with just two men on deck at a time. We tried to be quite on deck so that the off watch guys could get much needed sleep. Roark and I were admonished several times for talking to loud, or making more noise than was necessary. We really did try to improve but it turned out that we had a lot to say to each other and i could not have chosen a more fitting watch mate than him.
Seven days out from Long Beach we would occasionally see other boats, but after seeing the tracker at the end of the race (we did not have access to it during the race) I would have thought we would have seen more competitors.Read more
July 21, 2017, 1230
Well, what happened? We went into full-on beast mode is what happened. Here’s the wrap-up.
We started day 11 in 6th place. We had a shot at third if we were lucky but with everyone gunning so hard at the finish, it was going to be tough to make up the time. It was highly possible we weren’t going to make a podium finish.
But, the breeze was up. The three Santa Cruz 52’s that were ahead of us don’t surf as quickly as we do and we started beating our robot overload’s predictions. Then a squall came through early in the morning and we TOOK OFF. We kept beating our predictions and soon we were in 5th, then 4th, then it was a full-on battle for 3rd. Hans had to keep modifying our predicted arrival time and Charlie and Sam kept the boat moving all day.
As Molokai began to loom into view on the port side we were looking solid for 3rd place. Hans didn’t think we could make up the next 29 minutes of corrected time against Hula Girl in the next 35 miles but we’d be fucked if we didn’t give it a try.
We went on drive rotation. First, Bill was up, then Charlie then Hans jumped on the helm as we started to careen down the Molokai channel. Then the sun set and a squall hit in the pitch black with no moon. I relieved Hans at the helm and we surfed with speed to our jibe point where Hans picked an optimum angle for us to push the rest of the way through the channel to the finish.
Then the Jibe. In the past, Jibes have been a project on this boat and everyone was prepared for a yard sale as we were hit with solid gusts pushing the boat faster and faster down the waves. Nerves up, Sam went to the pointy end, Randall R to the mast, the rest of us hoped for the best… And we pulled that off, a successful night jibe in 20+ knots of breeze. The only casualty was the cover on the spinnaker guy parted and we couldn’t bring the pole back more than a few feet. We were stuck for trim options for the remainder of the race and pulling off another jibe wasn’t in the cards.Read more
July 17, 2017, 1200
Dawn breaks pink at 0530 after an epic night at sea. This does not mean the winds and seas let up. If anything, the cross swell becomes tougher. We no longer care; we are exhausted, we are dirty, and O'ahu is in sight. It's all over now but the shouting, but soon there will be much of that. We count down the last hours, toss fruits and veggies overboard, and take to photography like Ansel Adams.
Due to our tight angle, we clear Makapu'u Light by just a few miles and forego the long sleigh ride down the Moloka'i channel. But it isn't like we missed out: we have just come 2200 miles through some wild winds and occasional 10' seas. We have sailed the old girl to the breaking point (and beyond in some instances). In short, J.D. Smith, we have had our fun. Now we want to see loved ones awaiting us on the docks.
A final, near-calamity awaits us just prior to the finish line. Five miles out, we begin to drop the durable symmetrical kite we have lived under for a week so we can fly our glamor girl “La Sirena” pinup sail at the photo-op-ripe finish line. Poseidon plays one last trick: the halyard has chafed badly at the top of the mast and won't pass through the block, preventing us from dropping the sail. Sheets slip loose, and suddenly the massive sail is flying free in front of the boat, a red ribbon billowing out in the stiff wind. High Keystone Kop comedy ensues. No one's pride is left unharmed. All hands pray to god we are out of camera range.
Finally, we wrassle the kite out of the ocean into which it has fallen and hoist our beautiful pinup girl. We barrel across the line making 9 knots and grinning like a passel of Cheshire cats. The Transpac race 2017, six months in preparation, two weeks in duration, and a lifetime of future reflection, is complete. Barbara Lawler, the runaway MVP of our team, drives the boat the last 3 miles and takes La Sirena past the famed red buoy. I do not know how often women sail Transpac race boats over the line, but it is my high honor to relinquish this coveted moment to her. She's our planner, provisioner, mother, and one hell of a bad-ass sailor. Barb, we love and salute you!Read more
July 17, 1730
This will be the last entry by me of this adventure until we are on Oahu.
July 16: More of the same-nice breeze, nice ocean swells, beautiful starry night, vibrant Milky Way, shooting stars.
The mechanical water maker was pulled out of the ditch bag. We got 2.5 gallons of fresh water with two hours of manual pumping. That was used for cooking and coffee making, leaving the emergency water for drinking.
July 17: We broke the 100 NM mark at 1:30 a.m. Pacific time. We broke the 50 NM mark at 9:50 a.m. We had our first glimpse of Hawaii today at 10:15. It likely would have been earlier but for all the clouds on the horizon.
We had a pretty nice knock down a bit later in the morning. Vang blown. Traveler down. Spin sheet eased. Main sheet out. The clew shackle gave way again during the douse, eliminating the letter box option. Tack on, halyard dropped for a controlled takedown on the bow. We stood back up and unfurled the genoa, trimmed in the main sail and got back to racing.
We can almost taste the Mai Tai's.Read more
July 15, 2017, 1200
Good morning to all our loyal readers!
We are about 200 miles from the finish, at least as the crow (or more appropriately seagull) flies. We will have to sail a bit further than that, but are making good time and looking for a finish before noon tomorrow HST.
Overnight, we had good winds and made good time and recovered some of the lost distance on our competitors, but it does seem that we will run out of race course before we can catch them.
Yesterday, we were treated to a visit from the Flying Corzini. First, he checked out our main sail for wear, then checked out the lower spreaders for stability, and finally, went to the top of the mast for an inspection of all of the gear there. He also got some great video of the boat sailing from that view. After that, he was back to Sarasota Florida, where all circus acts go to retire!
Yesterday was a long day of mediocre winds, fair, but not great boat speed and hot clear skies. Many of the crew fought the boredom by finding boat tasks to do. Dan chose yesterday to tape cords all over the nav station to make the communications equipment we have been using for the past 12 days more efficient (about damn time)! As we have been keeping a keen eye on our electrical consumption, Dean decided to determine the electrical draw on most of the components on the boat. This was done by switching each one off and then back on and recording the difference. This process was going well, until he switched our navigation system off and when it came back on, the electronic compass that the system (and especially the autopilot) uses for boat heading, did not come back on. This discovery was followed by a tap on my shoulder while I was napping and having a weird dream, and “Houston I think we have a problem”. Good news is that the next few hours occupied two or three of us finding and trying to diagnose the problem. It appears that the compass chose the exact moment that Dean switched it off to die - what timing? Oh well, we have a work around until we get to Honolulu. All of this speaks to turning the lights off in a room when you leave it - just say’n!Read more
July 14, 2017, 0400
Well it's almost over! What a great experience! Second time across. We beat our last run by almost 2 full days. We also have earned the Gunboat Transpac record (made up by us of course), which was previously held by Extreme H2O.
Bittersweet for sure. Can't wait to be on land, can't wait to talk to my kids, can't wait to see my wife (I beat her here, so I'll have to wait a couple of days to meet her). But I can tell you that I will truly miss the watches, the day and nights on the ocean, and the camaraderie shared with a great group of people! We proved that pre Cheers and post Cheers can live peacefully in the world together!
Final MVM/MVP: John Gallagher! Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us all. I know how much this crew appreciates you and all that you have done to make this possible for all of us. For me, it's definitely a dream come true, and I think that I'm not the only one on the boat that feels that way. Sincere gratitude! Special shout out to Carol!
Out for now!
July 13, 2017
We are 542 miles away from Honolulu and trying to make some southerly. Our routing software keeps telling us to go west. It is very hard to keep going in the wrong direction with the anticipation of favorable winds, but alas we are pushing west. We have second guessed our software 3 times now, and each time we were spanked.
At 4:00 am I went over the optimal route with Ted at the beginning of his shift. The software was telling us to gibe around this area in front of us, but we could not understand why, so we just decided to keep going straight. Ted woke me up at 4:00 am, with a concerned look on his face - we gotta go! That means gibe in sailing lingo. I came up on deck and looked forward to see a big black cloud as far and you can see with bolts of lightning hitting all around the center. “I don't think we should go in there” Ted says. Gibe! Jim drove and Ted and I pulled off one of the fasted two pole jibes on record. We were thankfully paralleling the back of the cloud when the sun came up. Then we saw the most spectacular double rainbow for the entire 180 degrees of the cloud - amazing. At first we thought it was a squall that should travel at about 10 knots but this cloud was not moving. We just skirted the monster and all is good, I kept thinking of the joke Jim would tell about the clown who died in his second rodeo.
Now we are cruising to our last gibe point about 100 miles ahead of us, then we are “all in” for our final approach. If all works out we should have a strong finish. We are getting pretty low on food and beverages but should be in Hawaii on the 17th. I keep looking at that small bag of ice and wonder is there may have been a misscalculation - we will see.
Sail faster damnit!Read more
July 13, 2017 17:30
Today we continue to jibe, jibe and Jibe again. The breeze has lightened and we are working hard to work the angles for the fastest route to Hawaii. As I type this we are 416 miles from the finish. So close… yet so far. Speeds are slower, but we continue to push hard.
Tonight is Lasagna with meat sauce night (freeze dried – mountain House). The excitement is building. The supply of tasty snack food is nearly exhausted so we must be close to Hawaii. In the words of Ty, “It is disturbing how many 'magic Beans' Jelly bellys” we have gone through. Editor’s note: as of 5:00pm yesterday there were no more Magic Beans. PB and J tortillas are now being consumed at an alarming rate.
We continue to be attacked by flying fish. Last night one shot across the cockpit missing 2 of us by inches. I think they want our “magic beans”.
Rick Graef – Bowman S/V Sin DudaRead more
July 13, 2017, 1300
Well, we don't need to tell you again how hot and humid things are. So… on to other topics.
The adjusted watch system seems to be helping with sleep, or at least rest.
We passed a slower sailboat last night at a lateral distance of about three to four miles, fairly quickly, but don't know with certainty which boat it was.
The sun rose this morning almost directly behind the boat, projecting a motion picture silhouette image of the boat, including steering wheels, crew, lifelines, pulpit, and other features onto the white spinnaker which was flying near the front of the boat. Very cool phenomena. Easier observed than described.
Maneuvers include peeling between spinnakers that are best suited for various wind conditions and gybing to keep the boat going where we want to go. Sailing rarely involves going in a straight line directly to where one wants to go.
Speaking about wind, we do have some, although we'd enjoy a reasonable measure more. The wind is forecast to soften behind the lead boats, which may make it a challenge to keep our full speed on all the way to the finish. That said, we have been able to find some better wind lanes than forecast and are working at keeping this going.
A nod from the team to our good friends Rob Mulder, Andrew McCorquodale, Gina Borza, and Brad Marchant, Adam Thomson and the rest of the team at First Yacht Services. Their assistance with boat preparation is much appreciated.
Kinetic V out.Read more
July 13, 2017, 1200
Yesterday we jibed the boat for our final approach to Hawaii. Today we have less than 500 miles to complete the race.
On a boat, as in life, all systems are not just related but also interdependent. Our vessel’s diesel engine is not just to power the boat – in fact we are prohibited by race rules from using it for that purpose. We run it 2 hours daily to generate electricity for our large capacity refrigerator/freezer to preserve our frozen food. It is very efficient, but it does require a lot of electrical power. For our Engineer readers, it draws about 20 amps/hours on a 12 volt circuit. In fact, our first night out we weren’t aware of its massive power requirements and actually drained our 5 batteries to the point that at first try we were unable to start the engine.
It was only through an examination of the wiring and the canceling of all other electrical circuits, and good fortune that we were able to start the motor again. (Personally, I think we’re excessively frugal with electrical power, but as we are relatively new to this boat I prefer to err on the side of caution.
The motor is also used to desalinate salt water for drinking. This is critically important. It creates about 10 gallons per hour. In my opinion, it doesn’t compare to bottled water, I find it just barely potable, but it does quench the thirst and provides refreshing showers. Also creating water at sea, relieves us of the great weight of having to carry an extra hundreds of pounds of drinking water.
For planning purposes, each person represents 650 lbs: approximately 200 lbs for his body and the balance in clothing and consumables. So when taking on more crew it is not just a matter of the space he would occupy – the more weight, the slower the boat travels.
It is also essential that every one remain hydrated at all times. In fact, on some boats crew become so seasick that they refuse not only food but also water. I’ve heard of one instance in which the Captain had to threaten the seasick crew member with an enema before he would accept water.
Finally to keep all bodily functions regular, we keep a laundry basket of fruit and vegetables latched to the stern rail. When we started it was full of apples, oranges, cabbage and a few avocados. Today it is down to a quarter capacity. We have eaten well on this trip.Read more
July 13, 2017, 1100
Good evening Resolute fans. Well things are changing out here, and I wish I could report for the better. The weather forecast is calling for decreasing winds tonight and tomorrow. Unfortunately that makes it more difficult to hang in there with the bigger/faster boats in front of us. Today's position report of 1st in class and 2nd overall is clearly in doubt tomorrow if things don't improve. Tomorrow too will be a scorcher in the heat made 100 times worse if there is no breeze. I've seen this movie before and didn't like it in 2013, but all we can do is push on to the finish and play the cards we are handed. On another note, today was the second time Matt has been punished by a flying fish. The first to the face and the last to the chest. The guy cannot get a break. Anyway more to follow, and thanks for hanging in there with us.
Tim Fuller - SkipperRead more
At 0015 Sunday July 9th we struck an unseen submerged object at a speed of 18-20 knots. We believe that it first struck the keel, then ran along the portside, until it struck the port rudder. The ensuing impact completely snapped the rudder just below the upper bearing. The rest of the stock and the rudder were now free to swing about, destroying the lower bearing and threatening to tear a hole in the boat. Since we were on starboard tack, copious amounts of water were pouring into the boat.
The first order of business was to slow the boat down to try and keep the free swinging rudder from doing more damage. The kite and the staysail were dropped and with the reduction in speed we were able to keep up with the ingress of water with our pumps.
With the water somewhat under control, we needed to come up with plan. We knew if we gybed, we could heel the boat enough that the damaged bearing would be well out of the water, but the boat would also pick up speed, which in turn could cause the rudder to rip a hole in the boat that we would have very little chance of patching. It was determined that we needed to get the rudder out of the boat quickly and get the hole covered.
Luckily for us, we have a very experienced crew who have all been with the boat since its christening, plus we have onboard multiple Volvo veterans, Chris Nicholson, Justin Ferris, Bouwe Bekking, Will Oaxley, and our own ace craftsman and Magyver, Jeff Messano onboard who came up with a plan.
Jeff quickly went to work rounding up parts to cover the hole, while the others came up with a way to secure the patch. But first we had to get the rudder out of the boat, which meant keeping the boat as slow as possible, which in turn meant the boat was flat and water would flood the compartment. when all preparations were complete, everyone except for Jeff left the compartment. The plan was to push the broken rudder out of the of the boat, stuff a sleeping bag in the hole to stop the water until we could pick up speed, heel the boat, and make our repairs.Read more
On the Dock… home, tired, but happy…
Quote from Lloyd Thornburg - Owner Skipper
“A hearty congratulations to a perfect race sailed by Mighty Merloe! Team Phaedo sailed a very good race and I am very proud of our team while we gave it our best it was not quite enough for Mighty Merloe's epic light air down wind speed. Now that the racing is behind us we are here in Hawaii enjoying the unparalleled hospitality of our Hawaiian welcome and many well wishers. Aloha!”
Quote from Simon Fisher- Navigator
“It’s great to be in Hawaii after 4 days of really intense racing, after a bumpy first night and the realisation that we had some very intense competition from Mighty Merloe and Maserati it feels like we have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at our bid to get line honours in this race. Having realised that in the conditions we had we weren't going to win on boat speed alone we worked hard on making a more southerly tactical option work. After gybing on what felt like every shift between LA and Hawaii we have to take our hats of to the crew of Mighty Merloe who sailed a faultless race. Despite our efforts we couldn’t find a way past them. It has been a really solid effort from the crew to achieve what turned out to be a solid second place despite hanging it all out there for a chance of glory and the win!”
July 10, 2017, 1245
I can't stop thinking about how lucky we are to be out here doing what we're doing. The ocean and sky are beautiful. Last night the sun set on our bow and the moon rose on our stern. The colors at dusk out here are unlike any other place I've been. We're still dealing with marine debris. Today I had to crawl out onto the sterns of both the starboard and port amas and dangle off the very back to clear chunks of polypropylene fishing net from in between the top of the rudders and the hull. We had to keep going at full speed to keep the hull out of the water. If we had touched down the force of the water would have dragged me off. I was tied to the boat three different ways, but it was still a nice moment of clarity. Another highlight of the day was being able to strip out of my drysuit for a brief period. All onboard are doing well. It is a truly fine crew that Enloe has assembled this time. Fast, calm, and all with the good humor requisite to live stacked like sardines inside a carbon fiber tube. On that note, it is a good thing this boat is so fast, because the interior is getting a bit fetid. The racing out here is fierce. Keep an eye on the Yellowbrick tracker. The finish will be a nail biter.
Will Suto, Mighty MerloeRead more
July 9, 2017
New update from RC:
Raisin Cane is charging downwind in a deep, cobalt blue. ocean, her A2 running spinnaker, straining at her sheets, skipping from wave to wave in a sailor’s dance till she reaches the sun baked white beaches of Hawaii. Cane’s crew has settled into their hourly watches and daily routines, focusing all their efforts to race across the Pacific. Sailing has been steady with good winds. The fleet is now in the trade winds for the most part, sailing westerly to the Islands with the winds at their back with a little over 1200 miles to go.