Monday, July 30, 2007

Transpac Results!

by Bob

The race has run -- Mike and I won! The Plywood Cup, that is. That's a race where each team builds a boat and races it around a triangle course, two legs paddling and one sailing.

We had a sheet and a half of 1/4" plywood, some 1x2's, some 2x2's, a 3'x5' sail, nails, rope, and caulk (very important). We could use only the provided saw, hammer, and drill. The saw was very dull. Each team had 2 hours to build the boat.

We bent the plywood in a semicircle, more or less making half an 8' long cylinder. Then we put flat end caps on. When we put it into into the water, it just rocked back and forth like a log. We managed to get in and stay low enough so we didn't tip over. And we won!

Transpac is over, too! We crossed the finish line playing Stars and Stripes on the sousaphone. This was easy, since I had set a waypoint in the middle of the finish line. You had to cross within 200 yards (or something like that) to the left of a big red buoy. However, I had selected the big red buoy instead of my waypoint when I hit "goto" on the autopilot. We got a little closer than I had anticipated.

After the finish we took the sails down and motored into the dock. Leilani Logan, our hostess, met us there with a very nice dinner, drinks, goodies, etc. It was really nice. Several others came around, amazed to see that we had survived long enough to find a tiny island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Minnow finished 49th out of 73 starters and 69 finishers, in 14 days, 8 hours, and 43 minutes. We were edged out in the multihull division by LoeReal, who beat us by almost 6 days. That's a fast boat, and the people on that boat really know what they're doing.

The slower boats started on Monday July 9th, the medium boats on Thursday the 12th, and the fast boats on Sunday July 15th. The Minnow had a faster elapsed time than all the Monday starters except one. But that's not because we're fast or better. It's because the boats in the Monday start had very little wind for the first 3 days.

We beat one of the Thursday starters in elapsed time. We beat none of the fast boats (Sunday starters) except a couple who dropped out of the race.

Mike and I were sailing double-handed. That means there were two of us on the boat, and we could use the autopilot.

Philippe Kahn (the Borland Pascal guy) was also sailing double handed, in a really nice boat. He beat us by a little over three days. He's sailed in a lot of and won a few Transpacs.

Allen Lehman Sr. and Jr. from Peyson, Arizona sailed the Narrow Escape. Their autopilot went out shortly after the start, so they traded off steering the boat every hour. They beat us by six hours, beating us out of 48th place. They were close to us most of the race.

Two guys over 70-years-old sailed Tango, the oldest crew in the race and the oldest crew in any Transpac. They beat us by by almost nine hours.

Looking over the position data, I believe that the The Minnow went farther than any other boat in Transpac 2007.

We enjoyed 2778 scenic ocean miles, rather than the 2225 straight-line miles from Fermin Point to Diamond Head. Even when we use the 1-hour positions, which eliminates the short zig-zags, we went 2729 miles. Our average speed was 8.1 knots, but the speed over course (toward Honolulu) was only 6.5 knots.

Hmm.... maybe that says something about our navigational technique. We apparently learned something from John Jourdaine's book: LFTO, the lightning fast tack to oblivion.

Today I sent off our two ripped spinnakers to Skip Elliott today of Elliott / Pattison Sailmakers. They made three of our sails and have repaired most of the others. He was in the Transpac on the boat Ho'okolohe. At the time, we thought we were leaving on the same day and made a $1 bet on the finish.

Their start time was moved up 3 days earlier than ours, but we kept the bet -- first one to Hawaii wins the big bucks. We were really surprised when they had no wind for the first few days, letting us catch up to them and pass them.

Toward the end of the race, Ho'okolohe kept gaining ground on us. A few hours from the finish, we blew our spinnaker in some strong wind. By the time we got it out from under the boat, we could see Ho'okolohe behind us. We weren't sure it was them until they radioed their 25-mile-to-go report. (Pendragon IV blew by us about the same time.)

At the last reporting point, Ho'okolohe was 12 minutes behind us. We managed to stay ahead of them and beat them by 8 minutes. That's amazing for a 14-day race.

We're parking the boat in Hawaii for a little while. We haven't decided whether to go South, West, or North from here.

In looking back, there are some things we might want to remember for the next race:

1. The light-weight spinnaker (whomper) is for light wind.
2. If the hydraulic winch won't pull in the spinnaker sheet, the medium-weight spinnaker (thumper) might be under too much stress.
3. Negative VMG (velocity-made-good) is not a good thing.
4. Being more than 100 miles from the nearest boat is fine, except when you're the farthest boat from the finish.
5. It will gain us a lot of time if we can learn to get spinnakers out from underneath the boat faster.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 14
By Mike

At first light this morning we saw another sailboat! It crossed about 3.5 miles ahead of us from right to left. Sometime later today we would jibe and turn left. Until then we would, well there wasn�t much sailing to do. If we don�t mess up too badly, we should get there sometime tomorrow.

Mid-afternoon it was time to turn left. We began our jibing procedure by waiting for the rain shower to pass. The cool air felt nice. Then, step one, center the main. Step two � wait, one of the fishing reels started screaming. So Bob tightened the drag and we �dragged� the fish along with us. Take two, step two � wait, another fish on the other pole. Now we were dragging two fish along.

Again, step two, adjust and prepare a bunch of ropes. Step three, turn the boat. Step four, let a rope out and pull rope in. Step five, adjust all the ropes. Step five-alpha, reel in the fish.

After supper we did our first nighttime spinnaker jibe. It takes longer wearing inflatable harnesses and clipping in everywhere.

Sneak Preview of Tomorrow:
It got to be a habit.
At 2:30 in the morning we did another nighttime spinnaker jibe.
At 7:30 in the morning we did another nighttime spinnaker jibe.

Daily Cuisine:
Breakfast consisted of a variety of French toast. My practice so far shows that if you get enough sugar and cinnamon on the bread, it�s hard to ruin it.

Lunch was bologna and supper was fried fish and fried potatoes.

Fishing report:
Lots of bites and three fish landed (all dolphins).

Arts and Entertainment:
This evening we watched �Omega Man.� Since it�s so bad, we didn�t watch parts of it, but it played to the end.

I played a piano version of Tchaikovsky�s Symphony #6 �The Pathetique� and remembered how pretty it is. As a result, the symphonic version of it played on our stereo most of the afternoon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 13
By Mike

Today was another day where we hardly touched the sails. There were some wind shifts during a short period in the morning that necessitated a few changes, but that was about it. When the sails are set and the autopilot is on, there�s not much to do, boat-driving-wise.

We have to keep a lookout to avoid collision, although we haven�t seen another boat for days. We also need make sure that the wind doesn�t change and turn us in the wrong direction. That gives us plenty of time to do other things.

Topless Sailing:
There have indeed been some moments where it�s down to only shoes, socks, and shorts. It�s getting warmer every day � it�s around 80 during the day and in the mid-70s at night. I, for one, am staying in the shade.

Daily Cuisine:
Breakfast was brownies and an apple. Lunch was chicken and rice. Lots of it. There was no French toast since I was too stuffed from overeating chicken and rice.

Fishing report:
Things got back to normal today; no fish, no bites.

Arts and Entertainment:
When I started cooking the chicken I browsed for a movie and picked �Around the World in 80 Days� (1956 edition). It is very good. Although it is long (2 DVDs with an intermission) it never got tiring.

I started re-reading Tom Clancy�s �Patriot Games.� Last time I read it was when it came out 20 years ago. It�s still good.

Piano playing continues, but we�re not getting any better.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 12
By Mike

I woke up at 4:45 this morning and started to get up and take over. But I heard a movie playing and, not wanting to interrupt Bob�s viewing experience, went back to sleep. Same thing happened at 6:00. Eventually I got up anyway.

You know by now that sailing is pretty complicated with lots of decision-making. Today there were several times when we had to decide whether to turn 10 degrees and adjust the sails a little, or not. Usually we stayed the course. But there were a few times we turned some.

We finished our work with the sextant today. A few days ago we agreed that Bob would do the calculations if I did something else. Luckily, I forgot what I agreed to do. In any case Bob finished the calculations tonight. One of them was within 10 miles of our actual GPS position.

Daily Cuisine:
I baked some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I started to bake another cake, but then I thought maybe we had been eating too much cake. So I made brownies instead. The variety should be healthier.

Lunch depleted the last of our hot dogs. Supper was fresh fish (see below) and French toast. I made 8 pieces of French toast and they turned out 6 different ways. We ate all of them. I will continue practicing tomorrow.

Fishing report:
I put a new lure on one of the poles today. And we got a fish on it!

Arts and Entertainment:
In the movie department, �This is the Army,� with Ronald Reagan was painfully long. It was interesting to see and hear some different perspectives from the 1940s. For example, you don�t hear the line �going to kill some Germans and Japs� in many songs these days.

Even then, it (WWII) was all for the sake of democracy. That was surprising to me. I suppose in Russia they were singing the same type songs (�kill some Germans ��), but all for the sake of socialism. Oops, did I get political? Sorry, I�m not a big fan of war.

In the reading department, �A Sea Vagabond�s World� by Moitessier, was compiled and published after he died. It still has a lot of interesting things, but it�s not as good as his other books.

In the piano department, now I am picking my favorite parts from various Beethoven sonatas to play. I enjoy playing the most when it starts getting crowded onboard. This normally causes Bob to opt for a nap below.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 11
By Mike

Sailing was not challenging today. It wasn�t interesting either. And it sure wasn�t fast. We began the day hog-winged. By midmorning I had moved the mast back across to the same side as the spinnaker and we dragged along at 6-7 knots. The wind was light, but at least it was blowing the right direction.

In the light wind it was easy to do some simple maintenance around the boat. Like putting up the fishing pole with no line on it and bringing out one with a little bit of line on it. We didn�t bring any spare trolling line.

There was also time for untwisting some ropes, putting sail tape on possible chafe areas, and inspecting things all over the boat for chafe, wear, or other problems. Other than a couple of wear areas that we were already keeping an eye on, everything looks good. Neither of us climbed the mast to inspect things up high, but from down below, things look good up there, too.

The only real problem on the boat is that the speedometer is reading too low. More wind might fix that.

Daily Cuisine:
My five-day �Drink-no-Cokes Diet� wasn�t producing, so I gave it up today. Mainly I gave it up because a Coke sounded really good with my bacon and eggs this morning. And it was really good.

Since my diet was over, I cooked some pasta for lunch today. I fried a pound of hamburger, added a number of choice spices, then added Ragu. I chose some colored bowtie noodles. I like the small noodles better than the long spaghetti ones. They are a lot simpler (faster) to eat.

Around dark I got a hankering to eat some good French toast, which I�m not good at making. It usually turns out either burned or soggy. Every now and then there�s a good piece, but it�s rare. Of course, I put in enough sugar and cinnamon that it�s worth eating no matter the condition. And we both ate it. I think I will practice French-toasting every day till the race it over.

We ran out of cake again.

Fishing report:
Bob caught a dolphin today! But he let it go so we didn�t get to eat it.

Arts and Entertainment:
During my pasta cooking I plugged in �Hang �em High.� There�s nothing better than an oater over lunch in the Pacific. In this one Clint Eastwood gets hung by a lynch mob, lives, and is a vigilante the rest of the movie.

The movie is set in the Oklahoma Territory in the 1890�s. They talk about Fort Grant, which Bob and I neither have heard of. Probably they are suggesting Fort Smith, Arkansas. There was a famous �hanging judge� there about that time.

After dark we watched �Starship Troopers.� It�s not worth saying much about.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 10
By Mike

In the dark this morning we decided to turn right again, after it got light. This jibe was uneventful, other than the fact that Bob didn�t know where he was when I woke him up to help. That was funny. It�s amazing how discombobulated a guy is precisely 1.5 hours into his night of sleep.

A few hours after we turned right the wind died. Not completely, but after wind in the mid 20s overnight and most of the morning a 10 knot wind felt calm. Mainly because the boat was moving so slow. We�re racing, dangummit! But it didn�t feel like it, crawling along at only 6 knots.

In addition to not blowing very hard, the wind was blowing us more northerly than we wanted. In order to go a better direction we considered going slower, by going monkey-winged with our big jib. We also talked about trying to fly a spinnaker straight downwind. But, we didn�t think that would work so well, expecting that the waves would jerk the spinnaker around too much and collapse it too often. There were still fairly large waves from the stronger wind of the previous 20 hours.

Taking the spinnaker down is a bit of a chore. We decided to move the mainsail across to the other side and try going �hog-winged� with the spinnaker and the mainsail out on opposite sides of the boat. That way we could skip the taking down of the spinnaker. We didn�t expect it to work and were preparing to take down the spinnaker anyway when it collapsed.

Surprise, surprise. Not only did the spinnaker not collapse, it flew more stably than it was in its normal configuration. My theory is that we are sailing geniuses. My backup theory is that by going more perpendicular to the waves the boat didn�t rock as much from side to side.

So there we were, going almost directly toward Hawaii. But we were going rather slowly. Other than a late afternoon experiment with the sails (which failed), we continued hog-winged into the night.

Daily Cuisine:
If you don�t count the hot dogs at lunch, I was a vegetarian today. Cake, cookies, bagels, chips, and crackers can sure fill a person up.

In an effort to lose weight, I have now gone 5 days without drinking a Coke. It doesn�t seem to be helping.

Fishing report:
Three days in a row with one bite. Ten (10) days in a row with no fish.

Arts and Entertainment:
It took a long time but I finally finished the last Beethoven sonata in the book. Most of his sonatas have three movements, but some have four. So I played somewhere around 60 movements.

Of those movements, I would say that around 20 of them are fun to play and sound good. About 10 are too hard to play for me to enjoy. About 10 are easy to play, but aren�t very interesting. And about 10 are plain lousy. My favorite sonatas are #s 1, 5, 8, and 12.

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition)
Day 9
By Mike

Today the weather was partly sunny. We haven�t seen this much sun since the beginning of the race. How long ago was that?

Around noon the wind started picking up. About that same time I noticed some rain off to the left. I think they were related.

The wind increased from 15 to 20 knots. And then it was hitting 25 in gusts. The speed of the boat picked right up. We had been averaging 8-9 knots and were now doing 12-14. This was a welcome change � until the spinnaker wrapped around the forestays. I donned a harness and gloves and headed up front to pull on the ropes to loosen the spinnaker while Bob turned the boat downwind to take the pressure off the sail.

I got it loosened up pretty well, holding the spinnaker sheet (rope) as far back as I could, and said �Try that.� He eased into the wind and suddenly a gust of 30 knots hit us. The spinnaker popped right up. And there I was, with a firm grasp of the spinnaker sheet, hanging 10 feet over the water.

Bob immediately turned back downwind to remedy the situation. Next thing I know is I was skipping along in the water at 12+ knots (my auto-inflatable life vest worked perfectly). So Bob turned back into the wind. And up I came, once again hanging in the air, with my life vest smashing the sides of my face. At this point Bob figured to have some fun, so he dipped me again, raised me again, and asked �What�s it worth to get back on the boat?�

In the end he gave in and winched in the spinnaker sheet in until I could grab the side stay. I slid down the side stay and headed to the shower, leaving a trail of salt water. My only comment: �You know who gets to repack the harness?�

Only kidding. Actually we went all day without wrapping the spinnaker. We didn�t wrap it until after dark.

The wind was less than we wanted all day so in the evening we decided to jibe south. A few hours later the wind did pick up. We did go by a rain shower. We also hit our top speed for the race. The Minnow went 19 knots (in true wind of 30 knots flying a spinnaker). It�s kind of scary going that fast in the dark in a 42,000 pound boat driven by two dummies.

We proceeded to turn more downwind in order to slow down. Yes, yes, I know it�s a race, but it was dark. When it gets light again we�ll try to go faster again.

Daily Cuisine:
This morning, after I dutifully called in our position to Transpac, I fried some eggs and bacon. I followed this up with chips and salsa for lunch. And a baked another cake. Cakes go fast around here.

My body must need a lot of grease. Because fried food always sounds good to me. So tonight we had fried chicken and fried potatoes. And cake.

Fishing report:
Another bite. Still no fish caught.

Arts and Entertainment:
I have muddled my way through 14 Beethoven piano sonatas. He wrote 32 of them but this book only has the first 18. That�s all right with me because a lot of his later ones are lousy.

To keep me occupied while I ate my bacon and eggs, I turned on �Casablanca.� I had no idea what it was about, but had heard of it. It�s a good movie, although only black and white. It caught my attention that all of the people in the bar could sing so strongly and on pitch during the �dueling national anthems.� But it sure sounded good.

This evening, after the jibe, we relaxed to another movie. �Basic Instinct� is a pretty racy movie, but it�s a good mystery. I didn�t know whodunit until the very end.

Janet Evanovich�s �Lean, Mean, Thirteen� is as entertaining and funny as the other 12. At some point Stephanie and company might get too predictable and repeatable. But not yet.


by Bob

Yesterday we decided to turn southwest in search of wind. We found some. A good part of the night we had wind in mid-20s with gusts
to 30. The max boat speed for this trip is now 19 knots. With a spinnaker. We were doing 12-15 off and on most of the night. I was
nervous, afraid we'd break something. But there's no damage.

We didn't want to go too far south, so we jibed. We waited until sunup because it's easier to do the man-overboard stuff in
daylight. Shortly after we headed back northwest, we lost the wind. Most of today and this evening the wind has been back down
between 10 and 15 knots, and we're going about half that.

Now we're going southwest again. We expect to arrive in Honolulu on my birthday (November 23), Wind is 11 knots, water temperature
75.2F, barometric pressure is around 14 psi.

We're going almost directly downwind (within 5 degrees), with the spinnaker on the left and the mainsail on the right.

We were dragging a rope underneath the boat this afternoon, in order to slow us down and give the other boats a chance. After all,
it would be embarrassing to Pyewacket if we beat them to Honolulu. I heard a humming noise and finally figured out it was a rope
vibrating in the water. Somehow it jumped off the boat and hooked itself from one hull to the other under the water.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 8)

by Mike

The wind curved some overnight and we started the day going more south than we wanted. We decided to jibe and turn right after it
got light.

It was fun letting Bob know it was light. After he'd been asleep about an hour I was able to gently say "HEY! GET UP!! IT'S TIME TO
TURN RIGHT!. What are you trying to do, sleep the day away!" It did give me deep and sincere pleasure.

So we jibed. After the sails were adjusted (took less than 30 minutes of adjusting this time) I was in the same situation as
yesterday. There was nothing much needing done on the boat. I browsed the movies and picked out "Hoosiers." This time I cooked
French toast, heavy on the cinnamon. Once again I ate way too much. It was nice.

After the movie I tore through a couple more Beethoven sonatas on the piano. Since I was wearing headphones, and no one else was
listening, I can use the term "tore." If someone had witnessed the performance I think the word "plod" might have been used.

Boat Tracking on the Minnow:
Every day we get an email from Transpac telling us the latitude and longitude of all the boats. A few days ago Bob wrote a nifty
program that takes the data from the email and puts all the boats on a map. That makes it very easy to see how far behind we are. It
's interesting that all the other boats are way north of us. Hum. Maybe the longer way is not the faster way.

Daily Cuisine:
Hot dogs for lunch. Hot dogs for supper, too. We are out of cake again.

Fishing report:
We finally got a bite today. But Bob lost the fish. He claims the line ran off the reel. I say he needs to learn to play the fish.
It's frustrating dealing with amateurs.

Arts and Entertainment:
Only 8 Beethoven sonatas left. My hands were tired by nightfall.

Hoosiers is a feel-good movie. I liked it pretty well, probably since I like sports.

In addition to "Hoosiers" this morning we both watched "The Island of Dr. Moreau" this evening. This was a pretty interesting story
about gene research on a secluded island. The most interesting thing is that it was written in the 1890s by H. G. Wells. That guy
was a forward thinker.

In a moment of curiosity, I counted the books on the Minnow. By my count we have 183 reading books and about 25 piano books. Maybe
we should slow down.

I finished John Jourdane's book and liked every story he wrote. The reporters account in chapter19 was too sensationalized for my
liking, but even it was interesting.

Next book … time for some heavy reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

But You're Not Everybody Else!

by Bob

Mom and Dad tried to raise us not to follow the crowd. Maybe some of that took hold. Here's our track so far in the race, along with
all the boats that started on day one and two. As you can see, we are taking the scenic route in order to give the other boats a

Notice that we are no longer the farthest from Hawaii! We finally passed some boats!!

At 6:00 pm PDT we are 20°54'N 13 135°34W. We're going 9-10 knots toward Hawaii. But we might make a diversion to two before we get

Here's the Transpac web site with daily news of the race.

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 7)

by Mike

This morning I got up and there was nothing that needing doing. We were going in a mostly straight line, and mostly the direction we
wanted to go. It was still dark, and kind of chilly. So I plugged in "The Rainmaker" and baked some hot biscuits. Four large hot
biscuits slathered with lots of butter and jelly can really fill a person up. It made it a bit challenging to stay awake.

Around 7:15 I paused the movie and called our boat position in. Then I relaxed in peace until the movie was over (keeping an
occasional eye on the spinnaker).

It was still cool inside after the movie so I started playing the piano. Playing the piano must be hard work for me, because it
always makes me hot. I'm working my way through a Beethoven piano sonata book. Yesterday I played two of them. This morning I played
two more of them and then went outside to cool off.

Crisis on the Minnow:
Bob's toilet started acting up couple of days ago. For nearly 24 hours we shared a toilet. It was disgusting! Today he decided to
find and fix the problem. He spent about 30 minutes working on it and better than an hour cleaning (if you count the mega-shower). I
spent a lot of that time outside.

Thank goodness the crisis is over now. We are not sharing a toilet anymore.

Daily Cuisine:
For lunch I microwaved two frozen burritos, a spicy and a normal. I prefer the spicy one, although it was kind of hard to tell the
difference in the middle of all the salsa. For supper I made a tall bologna sandwich.

We are running low on cake again. And the packages of cookies are beginning to dwindle. But we appear to have enough canned veggies
for approximately four years.

Fishing report:
Has anyone ever fished for seven (7) straight days without a single bite? Anyone? I didn't think so.

Arts and Entertainment:
Rainmaker is a good movie. It is a good book, too. John Grisham is a heck of a story teller. Whether I liked the subject matter or
not, every one of his books kept my attention. They are not very deep, but they are fun to read. And since they are good stories,
they normally make good movies.

I finished three sonatas today. Five down and 13 to go. When Bob's asleep I wear headphones (it's a lot more spacey and comfortable
on the Minnow when he's tucked away downstairs – so I try to keep it that way as much as possible). But, when he's awake, I punish

Movie watching was in vogue today. In the afternoon, Bob and I watched "National Lampoon's Black Ball." It had a few funny parts but
I think we both did more reading than watching. In the evening, Bob and I watched (or attempted to watch) "Sleeping with the Enemy."
It required a lot of fast forwarding. It's only about a 30 minute movie that way which was a little too long.

I started John Jourdane's "Sailing with Scoundrel's and Kings" today. It has lots of entertaining stories, which I am enjoying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 6)

by Mike

Today we began by turning left. This involved another spinnaker jibe. The wind was light and that lowered the chance of us tearing
up the sail by ripping it up in the air. It also increased the chance that the sail would fall in the water and get ripped to shreds
by the boat.

This spinnaker is asymmetrical. That means that it has a top, a front bottom corner, and a back bottom corner. During the jibe we
leave the top and front lower ropes alone. In a jibe we turn across the wind so it blows directly over the back of the boat in the
middle of the turn.

The back corner of the spinnaker is tied to the back of the boat on one side. That means that we have to take the back bottom corner
of the spinnaker all the way around the front of the boat, and successfully tie it to the other back corner of the boat. Since the
boat is 52 feet long, that means that the back tip of the sail needs to be moved about 100 feet or so.

In this case, since we were turning left, we needed to pull the sail to the right side. So we tied a 120' rope (or so) to the back
corner and wrapped it all the way around the front of the boat. Then when turning, we simply pulled that rope about 100' and let the
other rope tied to the back of the sail out about 100'.

And bingo, we were going a better direction. We were weaving generally southwest by south. But it was still slow going. After that,
we didn't move the sails much. Except for about 45 minutes in the middle of the afternoon when the spinnaker decided to wrap itself
several times around the front guy wires. Those things are sure hard to get untangled.

Keeping Busy on the Minnow:
Last night I slept about 8 hours straight. Not even a bathroom interruption (so there … I'm not so old as you thought!).

Therefore, I started out the day full of energy. Spinnaker jibing, being an arduous task, built up quite an appetite. So being peppy
and hungry all at the same time, I decided to cook. I started with bacon and eggs. Then I baked another cake (since Bob ate most of
the last one). Then I noticed that the bananas were getting squishy so I made some banana bread.

Then, due to large quantities of crumbs everywhere (I had to taste the stuff), I vacuumed the floors. I skipped Bob's side of the
boat since he was asleep. Next I broke out the piano and played awhile. All of the piano books are in a drawer under Bob's bed so I
spared him; I only played what I could remember from memory. That didn't take as long as it used to.

Great Predictions:
After Bob got up and we dined we started looking at the other boat positions. That's not particularly motivational when there are so
many boats ahead of us. Then we made predictions as to when we would get there, and how many boats would be there when we got there.

Bob guessed Thursday and 51 boats. Being a much more optimistic fellow, I guessed Wednesday and 41 boats. Now I have to worry about
Bob turning the boat the wrong way when I'm asleep if we are getting there too fast.

Daily Cuisine:
Around noon Bob offered to make a "Bob's Gourmet Tuna Fish Sandwich" which I gladly accepted, being that I was busy reading and didn
't want to get up. It was scrumptious.

In the evening I baked some potatoes to go along with a nice chef's salad. Unfortunately the lettuce was smelly so there was no
salad. I had two baked potatoes. Bob only had one since he said he is watching his figure. It would be too depressing for me to look
at my figure.

Fishing report:
Day 6 and not a single bite. Bob even asked for fishing tips on the radio during the 7:00p radio chat. No one was willing to help.

Arts and Entertainment:
During my baking session this morning I watched "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." Kirk was the hero, Spock showed a speck of
human emotion, and Bones was funny.

It's fun to read about people sailing when we are sailing. Francis Chichester made it back to England. He shattered the record of
the previous fastest solo circumnavigation in a sailboat (Vito Dumas back in WWII) by completing it in about half the time. He
returned to a hero's welcome and got knighted by the queen (I think this was about the same time that the Beatles got knighted). In
the first half of the book he spent a lot of time complaining about equipment and stuff. He sounded like an Englishman. I found the
second half of the book more pleasing, and more interesting, to read.

With piano books available I serenaded Bob with some Bach and Beethoven. I'm not sure Beethoven intended his piano sonatas to go at
the speed I play them. I may go slow but I don't lack for enthusiasm!

Hurricanes and Calms

by Bob

There was a hurricane a few hundred miles southwest of us earlier today, but it has since fizzled into a tropical storm. We've been
getting some big swells from the south, a few of them about 12 feet high. Since the storm is so far away, the swells are pretty

We are at 24°30'N 129°32'W. Water temperature is 70.8°F. No fish. There was a squid on the deck the other day.

The wind is varying from 8 to 20 knots from between 150 and 220 degrees. We have been flying the spinnaker "Thumper" for a day or
two. It's been pretty trouble-free until today when the wind got a little light and squirrelly.

It collapsed a time or two, and then it got wrapped around the forestay a few times. It took us four miles to untangle it. I don't
see how anything that big can get that wrapped up that fast. To make it harder, it wrapped itself around one of two forestays a few
feet apart. We did such a fine job of wrapping it that we couldn't lower the sock or the spinnaker halyard. But eventually, we got
it not only untangled but into the air with no visible damage.

Since then the spinnaker collapsed a couple more times. Of course, we could sit outside and steer and adjust the sheet, but that's
cheating. We're purists and prefer to stick with the autopilot.

I wrote a program so we can view the other boats, speed, progress, etc. on Garmin Mapsource or Google Earth from the 6:00 am
position reports we get by email. It looks bleak for The Minnow! But we're just getting our second wind. Our first wind was a few
days ago when we blew out Whomper.

Sunday morning we were the easternmost boat in the race to Hawaii. I expect this to earn us an Outstanding Navigator trophy.
Luckily, more boats started the race in California Sunday afternoon and they are now east of us.

Some of the first starters are stuck in light wind north of us. They have been out three days longer than we have, and may get to
Hawaii after us. I heard a couple of them talking on the radio today about running out of food. They won't run completely out, but
they may get into their reserves before they get to Honolulu.

Actually, we might not be as bad off as it seems. We're south, where the good wind is. Somehow, some other boats sneaked around us
and got south between here and Hawaii. But there are some boats to the north of us who have been doing about half our speed. Maybe
we can beat one of them. But not in corrected time.

The Minnow has a rating of 10. That means we have a 10-second per mile handicap, and we get to take 6 hours and 23 minutes off our
time to Honolulu. That sounds like a good deal, unless you consider the other boats in the race. There are only 3 boats out of 74 in
Transpac rated faster than The Minnow. Those are REALLY fast boats.

The other multihull, the trimaran LoeReal, has an established rating of -177. That means they have to add 5 days 13 hours to their
time. But the two fastest monohulls have -21:09 hour and +4:32 hour handicaps. I don't think it's likely that the LoeReal can beat
them, let alone by more than 4 days.

Our fast rating may be because we are racing in the multihull division. One group (ORCA) gave us a rating of 137, or 3 days 15 hours
in this race. That would give us 9-day advantage over LoeReal and we would beat them easily, which makes no sense. LoeReal is a real
racing boat stripped down without a piano, hot showers, or air conditioning.

The Minnow is about the speed of boats with a 3-4 day handicap, so with our 6-hour handicap we will almost certainly have the
slowest corrected time of any boat in the race. We excel!

But the rating doesn't matter. We're concerned with how many boats we can beat to Hawaii, and how many sails we'll have intact when
we arrive.

Mike broke out the piano today. We have an electric piano with a full-size keyboard and weighted keys. That means it plays just
about like a real piano. Mike's planning to play Beethoven's Sonatas 1 through 18 between here and Hawaii. He got through Sonata No.
1 tonight (in addition to some Bach), but he might have missed a note. I played Sonatas 8 and 14 tonight. I missed a lot of notes. I
may have to go for Beethoven's 5th symphony next. We have Liszt's piano transcription of Beethoven's Symphonies, and the night is

John Jourdane wrote "Sailing with Scoundrels and Kings." He spoke at the Safety-at-Sea seminar before the race started and gave a
copy of his book to the attendees. It's a great book -- good sailing stories without all the puffery and sensationalism in a lot of

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 5)

by Mike

This morning, after the onerous task of telling Transpac our 6:00 position, there wasn't much to do.

We were still sailing the same as the night before. We were shooting for a direction of about 250. But the wind we kept curving us
between 240 and 280. That's not a bad direction towards Hawaii. But according to the forecast we needed to edge south to stay in
stronger winds.

Complicating our decision making was the fact that if we went 10 degrees more to the north we were able to go faster. That sure was
tempting. However, being strictly disciplined, we stayed the course. Honest, it had nothing to do with us being lazy!

Actually, we did change directions a few degrees left and right once in a while. And we did some token rope adjusting on the sails.
But that's about it all day. And nothing made any noticeable difference.

Movies on the Minnow:
Over the last couple of years Bob and I have occasionally gone grocery shopping for the boat, typically at Walmart or K-mart.
Somehow we usually end up at the bargain movie racks. We have accumulated a few movies as a result of these "provisioning" events.

A few months ago we noticed that we were missing some important movies. Bob promptly went shopping at Amazon and ordered I think
every movie (new or used) for less than a dollar. Now we are properly stocked.

Among the most prized are the 20 James Bond movies and the 15 Star Trek and Star Wars movies (though we are missing Star Wars II).
Our collection also includes important classics such as "Indiana Jones," "Attack of the 50-foot Woman," "Monty Python: The Life of
Brian," "Rambo," "The African Queen," and "Captain Ron."

We also have lots of musicals, including these favorites: "Oklahoma," "Hair," "Paint Your Wagon," "The Sound of Music," "The Best
Little Whorehouse in Texas," and "Camelot."

Since there wasn't much sailing to do and Bob was asleep, I cleared off the living room table and proceeded to clean it since I hate
sticky stuff. Then I began the task of sorting 300+ movies in alphabetical order. About three hours later we had 354 sorted movies.
I culled about 20 duplicates.

Transpac Climate:
The temperatures so far have been just about perfect. We haven't run the air conditioner yet. During the day it has been 68-70
outside and in the upper 70s inside. Just about perfect. If we get warm, we go outside. If we get cool we stay inside. It gets a
little chilly at night.

It's been cloudy most of the time, but not in a rainy way – just enough to keep the sun from being too bright. There is a tropical
storm a few hundred miles to the southwest of us. That might be where all the clouds are coming from. But it hasn't rained. Yet.

Daily Cuisine:
We ran out of cake today. We also ran out of Jambalaya. I just realized that there has been no potato-eating so far on this trip. I
like potatoes. Especially fried potatoes. And baked potatoes. And mashed potatoes. I suspect there might be some potato-eating going
on tomorrow.

Fishing report:
Day 5 and still no fish. To rub it in, another boat was talking on the radio about catching 5 albacore tuna today. It was painful.

Arts and Entertainment:
Someone claimed that "The Good Shepherd" is the best spy movie ever. I thought it was boring and really long. And it was hard for me
to follow. But I made it to the end. The main actor didn't talk much and rarely changed expression. I was sure glad it was over so I
could get back to reading.

In the book "Gypsy Moth Circles the World," Francis Chichester made it alone from England to Australia in 107 days, with some
assorted difficulties. This was in 1966. He was following the old clipper ship routes. From the back cover of the book (and the fact
that the name of the book says so) I expect to read about his return to England tomorrow. Right now, he's in the roaring 40s of the
south Pacific heading east, half-way to Cape Horn.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 4)

by Mike

It seemed like the wind would have shifted some over night. But it didn't and we were still headed due south. The next land we were
going to hit was Antarctica if we didn't turn.

The morning position reports showed that we were farther east than any other boats in the race so far. In other words, I think that
put us in last place. After much deliberation and the eating of some junk food we decided to turn right.

Spinnaker-Jibing with Bob:
Some things in sailing are simple. And there are a few things that take two people. Take spinnaker-jibing for example. There is a
point during the process that one person has to pull on a rope while, at the same time, another person let's out on another rope.

Today we were getting things ready for the jibe. First we worked out who was the rope puller and who was the rope letter-outer. Then
we spent a long time to get the ropes sorted out.

Then it went something like this:
Mike said "let me center the main."
Bob asked "start pulling now?"
Mike said "no."
Bob started pulling like crazy.
The spinnaker commenced collapsing.
Mike, kind of calmly, said "wait."
Bob said "I thought you said "go.""
Mike said "oh no, I said "no.""
Bob let the rope back out and the spinnaker puffed back out.
Then we started over.

Eventually we completed the jibe and then spent some time trying to adjust the ropes so we could go fast and the spinnaker would not
collapse. By then it was time for a nap. After eating some more, that is.

Daily Cuisine:
I skipped breakfast today. Except for the Cocoa Krispies. And the apple. But no eggs. Unless you count deviled eggs. But no fried

After the spinnaker jibing I was famished so I fried a couple of burgers. Nothing like fried food to hit the spot. And nothing like
fried food to get prepared for a nap.

Later a happy birthday cake was baked (nobody's birthday, it just sounded good). Jambalaya was the final fare of the day. Way too
much of it. Mmmm.

Fishing report:
Day 4 = no fish yet. I'm beginning to wonder about the reliability of people that claim to catch fish on the way to Hawaii.

Arts and Entertainment:
Tomb Raider II was better than Tomb Raider I.

In the reading department, Kurt Austin got the girl, killed the bad guy, and overcame several crises in Clive Cussler's The
Navigator. I hope I didn't spoil the book for anyone.

Some of Clive's newer books seem to have lost their bite and are not as compelling as I remember the earlier ones being. I wonder if
(1) he's getting older and mellower, (2) other people are doing more of the work, (3) he's trying too hard to be politically
correct, or (4) I'm stupid and nothing is different.

However, in Clive's favor (not like he needs my support), I really like his new "Oregon files" series.

Next a real sailing book by a real sailor, a 65 year-old that circled the earth alone (and fast) a few decades ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 3)

By Mike

Today started with our spinnaker up and looking good. Same as it was the night before, actually. I think we averaged about 11 knots.
We had some fresh wind overnight (fresher, in fact, than our spinnaker should fly in, we were to find out).

We could see several other boats this morning. During the Transpac position reporting I started putting each boats position on our
chart plotter. It was encouraging, and kind of fun, to see us in the general vicinity of several other boats. Remember, we spotted
them 10 minutes at the start!

The Spinnaker Chronicles:
Around noon we were discussing which way to go. We pretty much agreed on the best direction so we hoping one of us would change our
mind to avoid such an embarrassing situation. About that time, in moderate wind (honestly), our spinnaker quit on the job, (probably
the wind getting fresh with it during the night). The biggest part of it ended up dragging behind the boat. Those things sure are
heavy when they are wet.

That made our direction deciding a lot simpler. We went directly downwind for awhile with our main on one side and our jib on the
other. The sailing term for that is "monkey-winged" or something like that. It was a good direction, but kind of slow.

After an hour or so we got tired of going slow and opted to put up another spinnaker. It didn't work very well. It got wrapped
around the guy wires so we took it down and went back to "monkey-winged." (Be aware that a spinnaker episode like this can take a
couple of hours what with all the glove finding, snack eating, rope tying, autopilot remote finding, rope untying, drink getting,
trial and error spinnaker setting, spinnaker recovery, and "monkey-wing-resetting" going on.)

Personally, I was getting a little bit fatigued.

Then a couple of hours after that we again got tired of going slow and again put up a spinnaker and went faster. This time we went a
little sideways to the wind and it puffed out agreeably. The problem then? We were going pretty much straight south.

Before long it was dark. Since the sails were stable, we left them alone for the night and continued southward. They predicted
better wind down south anyway. That's how we rationalized it at least. We'll see.

Daily Cuisine:
Nothing special today. More fried eggs, but with bacon this time. I built a very tall, special bologna sandwich, in the style of
Dagwood. It was delicious. After dark, when we were done messing with the ropes and sails, Bob and I enjoyed a gourmet frozen pizza.
It was also delicious.

The plate of 24 deviled eggs that Bob got is dwindling.

Fishing report:
They weren't biting for the third day in a row! We did catch a piece of nylon rope tangled with moss and seaweed. I forgot and left
the line reeled in or we would have caught a spinnaker around noon.

Arts and Entertainment:
Today's movies were Cat Ballou and Tomb Raider I.

I did the crossword puzzle from few days old USA Today. Who ever heard of a lasso being called a riata? That sure messed up five up
and down words before I got it corrected.

The Shortest Line between Two Points

by Bob

Going from Los Angeles to Hawaii is pretty simple. You set a waypoint in the GPS for Hawaii and press "DirectTo." But that doesn't
work very well in a sailboat. It's usually faster to go south and pick up the trade winds that blow west. At the moment, the wind is
a little weird because a high pressure center is misbehaving.

In other words, we're not sure which way is the best to Hawaii. We just look at the predicted winds and pick a route. Occasionally
we have a look at a weather map to make sure there's not a hurricane between here and there. The wind data comes from NOAA Wave
Watch III.

The first couple of days we did what we considered very respectable. I haven't done the ciphering yet, but we may have gone over 240
miles in 24 hours. I realize that's not a lot unless you're on a horse, but it's pretty good for Mike and I on a sailboat.

A man overboard pole is required on all boats for this race. It's a pole that sticks 6 feet up out of the water. When someone falls
in, you throw this pole in so you can find the person among the ocean waves. It sounded like a good idea to me, so we bought a man
overboard pole and put it on the boat.

But it turns out we already had one. We noticed that most boats at the harbor before the race didn't have man overboard poles. I
asked someone about it, and he said they're in the MOM Man Overboard Modules, and they're inflatable. So I took our new Man
Overboard Pole and stored it in the front hold.

We have lots of sails on this boat. We generally the mainsail and one other at a time. We have a mainsail, a small jib (solent), a
large jib (gennaker or reacher), three spinnakers, and two storm sails.

Spinnakers are a little unstable. They don't have anything to hold them tight except the wind. Our exceptional spinnaker handling
makes our spinnakers exceptionally unstable.

We started the race with three spinnakers. Now we have four. One tore in two this morning. Whomper, our giant sail for light wind,
has divided. We flew it in 15-25 knots of wind all last night. Early this morning about 10:00 or 11:00, Mike and I were sitting in
the living room sailing when the sail ripped into two pieces, attached to one another by a thread.

One of the spinnaker halves was in the water behind the boat. We tried to pull it up but couldn't until we slowed the boat to about
one knot. Spinnakers probably make excellent sea anchors.

We agreed that from now on, we should use this sail only in very light wind. This is the third time we've ripped it. Sometimes you
just get excited -- we were doing 10-12 knots with peaks to 14 and 15 knots with that sail last night. It was fun! We even passed a
couple of other boats. But I'm sure they passed us today when we were thrashing around with the sails.

The raising and lowering of a spinnaker can be exciting. Being the skilled and experienced sailors we are, it's no problem for us.
Yesterday we launched Thumper, our medium spinnaker. It has a sock, a neat device that makes spinnaker handling simple. It's
essentially a long skinny bag that holds the sail, with a rope and pulley that allows the bag to slip to the top of the mast and
release the sail from its confines.

When I pulled on the rope to launch thumper, the sail went up. So did the rope. Rather than skin a finger or fly into the water, I
turned loose. The rope was snagged on something inside the bag. But we needed that rope when it was time to lower the spinnaker.
It's not absolutely necessary, but it's easier that way.

We decided to lower the spinnaker and straighten things out, so we could get it down quickly if something broke or if Mike decided
to go swimming. The problem was that the rope to pull the sock down was just out of reach of the boat hook, hanging in the air about
15 feet above the trampoline.

We spent quite a while throwing a metal ring on a string trying to get it through the errant rope. It didn't work. Eventually we
tied our superfluous man overboard pole to a boat hook and threaded a string through the spinnaker sock rope. Even this involved a
lot of failed attempts. Then we managed to pull it down. It would have been much faster to lower it the old-fashioned manual way. (I
think the racers avoid the socks because they add weight to the top of the mast and they make the sail a little less efficient.)

It appeared that the rope on the sock was too short, so we added to it with another rope. After we raised it again, the rest of the
original rope came out of the sock. It took more than an hour to get that sail up and going. Today we raised Thumper and snagged the
halyard in the new radar reflector not once, but twice. We're good with spinnakers. I guess I'd better move that radar reflector.

We still have Thumper up tonight. We're going to get down south and see if the trade winds really do exist.

Last night there were six boats in sight. Tonight there are zero. Maybe we're headed to Siberia?

Real racing sailboats generally have a driver driving the boat and someone outside to adjust the spinnaker sheet (the rope at the
back of the spinnaker). Mike and I are purists. We set the spinnaker and the autopilot, and leave them alone for the night
(hopefully). That's REAL sailing. One of us stays up, but we don't usually stay outside. It's cold out there. (Actually, I did
adjust the spinnaker, mainsail, and autopilot a little bit tonight, but I'm not sure I improved anything.)

At 10:40 PM PDT 7/14 we are at 26°44'N 123°18W. We're going 8 knots generally to the south (170° to 220°). Our direction changes a
lot because the autopilot is set to follow the apparent wind. Water temperature is 67°. Air temperature is 67°. Indoor temperature
is 75°. The generator is generating. We haven't used our engines and won't until Hawaii unless there is an emergency. Mike is
sleeping. Tonight's movie was Tomb Raider.

Our iBoat satellite tracker will be out of range soon. They don't have satellite coverage in Hawaii. The Flagship tracker should
still work. It's inside one of the kayaks.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 2)

by Mike

It sure was cold this morning about 3:30 when I woke up and decided to take over for Bob. After I put on all my clothes and a jacket
I went up stairs and volunteered. He told me to go back to bed since he just started a movie. I complied. It sure was warm under the

About 5:00 came my real chance to drive the boat. He told me there were a few boats around and that he had not touched the sails.
Not bad! I carried on throughout the morning without messing with them either. Very good!

But don't get the idea that my morning was idle. At 5:59 I had to find the phone that was ringing as a reminder to write down the
6:00 boat location. It took a couple of minutes to find it, so I actually wrote down our 6:01 position (don't tell Transpac). And
then at 7:30 I had to get on the SSB radio and tell the Transpac people where the Minnow was at 6:00
(actually 6:01, haha).

Amongst this flurry of activity I was able to watch a movie and fry up some eggs. I also spent some time looking at other sailboats
with binoculars and played around with the sextant some (since the rules say we have to do some navigating with it on the race).

Bob got up sometime late in the morning and we started talking about which direction we should try to go. We figured with the other
boats around us we were in pretty good shape. Around lunchtime the wind started unfreshening and we started talking about putting up
a spinnaker. Neither of us wanted to, but we thought we might go faster with it.

We had about decided to skip spinnaker-raising when we noticed that 2 of the 7 boats we could see had spinnakers up. It was about
1.5 hours later when we got the spinnaker up the second time. Not bad for us.

The first time we raised it, Bob let go of the rope that controls the raising and lower of the sock (yes, I blame him). It only
would have dangled him about 15 feet in the air if he would have held on. But with every cloud there is a sliver of lightning … or
something like that. The rope that we needed to pull down on was about 15 feet above our reach. We tried a variety of ways to grab
it. Eventually found a use for our new-extra-big-emergency-rescue-pole. We taped it to an extended boat hook and managed to snag the

Around 45 minutes after our first spinnaker-raising, we accomplished our first spinnaker lowering. We searched for the problem and
didn't find it. So we tied an extension to the raising and lowering rope and raised the spinnaker again. This time we sailed on

A few hours later about 20 feet of extra rope fell out of the spinnaker. Imagine that.

Daily Cuisine:
My main courses for me were fried eggs, a"Bob's Gourmet Tuna Fish Sandwich, and spaghetti. There were also chips, pretzels, Snack
Packs, and cookies, and other things to keep my energy up.

Fishing report:
They weren't biting (again)!

Arts and Entertainment:
The other boat in our class is called LoeReal. It's a 60-foot trimaran that was used in the movie Waterworld. It doesn't take off
until Sunday since it's fast. And it didn't arrive in Long Beach before we left.

So … we watched the movie "Waterworld" to scout the competition. I think we're in trouble.

Only 2000 More Miles

by Bob

We're in the race! Yesterday morning we motored out to the starting line. The monohulls took off at 1:00, and we took off 10 minutes
later. They said that this was because the multuhulls are in a different division. We suspect that after they saw us drive the boat
a the other day, they wanted to keep us away from the good boats. I think that cruel and unfair. I barely even damaged the dock when
I hit it.

So ten minutes (or eleven) after the monohulls took off, we crossed the Transpac starting line playing Stars and Stripes on the
sousaphones. I might mention that we were also the only two people on The Minnow.

We headed to Catalina Island, where we were to "leave it to port." That means we had to go to the right of it. We were going just a
bit to the left of our desired course because we could go faster that direction. It is almost always more fun to go fast than slow.

As a result, we had to tack into the wind in order to make the corner and miss the rocks. Before we tacked, all of the monohulls
were to our right, in our general neighborhood. After we tacked, we noticed they had all disappeared. It was obvious that they had
all sunk. But later in the night we encountered some of them, so they apparently just disappeared around the corner.

We just took an hour or so to drop one spinnaker (Thumper) and raise another (Whomper). It took a little extra time because we had
to raise it twice. Then we did some major trimming and sail changing (halfway across the boat). Now we're flying at almost 9 knots
in 12 knots of wind.

Last night I stayed up until about 5:00 am sailing. I didn't touch a sail or a rope the entire night. I just looked around for
boats, ships, and other obstacles. There was a rock out in the middle of the ocean I didn't notice until we were past it, but we
cleared it by 5 miles. I picked up the buoy on radar and assumed it was a slow boat. It would have been really embarrasing to wreck
the boat during a race.

Mike and I were looking around today and spotted six boats, most of them heeled over at a pretty good angle. I suspect they had the
people riding on the side, getting splashed and having good excitement. I got my leg splashed once today, but that's the only
dousing of salt water I've enjoyed so far.

Yeah, yeah, we're wimps. But we're in first place in the multiull division. There is only one other multihull. They don't start
until Sunday.

We took two sextant "shots" so far, per race requirements. I'm not sure what good they do since we took them at difference places
and times. We're required to do four, so maybe I'll quiz Melinda for some details and do some properly.

No fish so far...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Racing With Dummies! (Transpac Edition, Day 1)

By Mike

This could be called "Racing with Bob" or more accurately "Racing with a Dummy." But for some reason, "Racing with Dummies" sounds

Over the last few days we prepared things. We sewed some, fixed a few things, added a few things, cleaned up a few things, and went
grocery shopping. This morning we got up and there wasn't much to do. So we walked around and looked at some of the other racing

One of the requirements for Transpac is a several-foot-long emergency rescue pole. We got one and installed it. It's really big and
in the way and we don't like it much. When we were looking at the other boats we looked and looked and couldn't find the long poles
on the other boats. So we asked the guy on Lucky where he kept his. He pointed to his MOM (man overboard module) and said, "in

When we got back to the Minnow, I looked in our MOM manual and sure enough, we already had a pole. Now our new extra big pole is
stuffed up in the front hold of the boat.

The Start:
About 10:30 we started to start toward the starting line. In a sailboat race the racer has to cross the starting line after the
start. So they have a methodical process of countdowns to let the sailboats get a running start and time it just right. Since there
are a lot of different kinds of boats in Transpac, they have three different starting days. Today's was the middle one.

The starting times today were 1:00p for all of the monohulls and 1:10p for all of the multihulls. Since we were the only multihull
starting today we got our own personal start time! That was awfully nice of them considering we would have started about 10 minutes
after everyone else anyway, just for the extra elbow room.

And we got our own personal countdown, too. Problem is, they do the countdown on the boat radio, which is kind of hard to understand
sometimes. And they use terms that haven't quite figured out – like "flag down" and "15 seconds till ????? flag." But we had an
advantage … we got to see the monohulls start. Ten minutes after they started the guy on the radio confirmed that it was time to go
when he said "good start Minnow and good luck" or something similar.

Naturally we mashed the autopilot button and proceeded to play Stars and Stripes Forever to celebrate our "good start."

The Race to Catalina:
After we finished playing we got down to serious sailing business. We unfurled our brand new big jib (thanks Skip!) and rolled up
our little one. And we were going fast! About 8-9 knots. We were feeling pretty good. We were even catching up with some of the
monohulls, but they were off to the right a little bit.

One of the racing rules requires all the boats to go north of Catalina Island, about 20 miles out. It's west-southwest of the
starting line. The wind was blowing from west-northwest. The Minnow would only go fast in the direction of southwest. When we turned
right enough to miss the island we slowed down to 3-4 knots. Blah.

In the Minnow, we have two good engines and normally a lot of diesel. When we need to go upwind we typically turn them on.
Therefore, we don't have much practice at sailing upwind. Today we got some practice.

After our second tack all the monohulls disappeared behind Catalina and Bob went downstairs to take a nap. It sure was lonely. A
couple of tacks later (and four hours after the start) we passed the durned island.

The Race from Catalina:
Once Catalina was behind us I turned left and tried to go fast. Direction didn't matter that much to me at that point. By moving the
sails back and forth a lot and raising the daggerboards, I got us going around 11 knots. Then Bob got up and said "it's about time
you got us moving!"

The autopilot was on wind-vane mode (70 degrees off of the apparent wind on starboard tack) which headed us pretty much
south-southwest. It seemed like a good direction to go. We did see some monohulls eventually, but we think they mostly went more
westerly than us.

Daily Cuisine:
I don't know what it is about the first day or two at sea. My body reacts differently. I feel like eating. Eating a lot, and eating
often. In the first 8 hours of racing I ate about 8 times. The menu included lots of oreos, an apple, a banana, a bunch of Tostitos,
a "Bob's Gourmet Tuna Fish Sandwich, a bunch of pretzels, some cereal, a Snack Pack, and some other junk lying around.

Fishing report:
They weren't biting!

Arts and Entertainment:
We played sousaphone duets quite a bit on the way to the starting line. I know, I know, … that probably doesn't qualify as either.

Other than that, I would say that the most entertaining thing was the disappearing act of the monohulls around Catalina!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Transpac Prep

By Bob, 7/12/2007 8:04 AM

We start the Transpac Race in just a few hours! Mike is outside thrashing around and getting ready. I am typing on a computer. We have completed the major preparations. We have food enough food for about an eight-month voyage, dozens of books, hundreds of movies, and thousands of music albums. We also glanced at the boat and sails, and that seemed OK.

Actually, we've done quite a bit getting ready for the race. Here's some of our list:
  • fix engine controls (I know, we can't use engines.)
  • clean boat
  • had sails repaired and replaced
  • installed AIS receiver
  • installed avalanche beacons
  • hung signal flags
  • moved ropes around
  • untwisted ropes
  • protected ropes
  • stowed lazy bag
  • moved radar reflector
  • unpacked sousaphones
  • fixed water pump
  • put new feed pump in watermaker
  • got bottom painted
  • took engine off dinghy
  • played sousaphones
  • did laundry (or had it done)
When the boat crosses the starting line, we have to fly the Transpac flag and the number flag for our class, the nine flag.

Sometime before July 2, I ordered a number 9 flag from Flag and Banner Company. I also decided to get a new US flag. The US flag came in, but the 9 flag was back ordered so we wouldn't get it for the race. So I canceled it, ordered another from another company and had it shipped overnight to the Yacht Club here. We got it on Tuesday.

On Wednesday Mike noticed that the July 2 amendment to the official Sailing Instructions required a number zero flag. We had a number nine flag. So last night, I sewed a zero flag out of one of Mike's yellow t-shirts and a red nylon flag bag. It is quite attractive.

We were supposed to get a Transpac banner in at the skipper meeting, but they handed them out at the dinner instead. We were at the dinner, but left after dessert but before they handed out the banners. Now they're out of banners. So we will be flying a Transpac T-shirt for the start.

We got some neat devices called Life Tags by Raymarine and avalanche beacons by us. We put a small tag on our life jackets. When we fall in the ocean, it sets off an alarm and automatically marks our position on the GPS.

That way, for example, if Mike falls overboard while I'm sleeping, it will wake me up and mark his position. Then I can go ahead and catch a few more minutes shut-eye, grab some breakfast, and drink a diet coke before I turn the boat around to go pick him up.

Guadeloupe and the Attack of the Killer Seals

by Bob

I read that you are supposed to have permission from a couple of Mexican entities to go to Guadeloupe Island. By the time we got there, it was too late for one, so we called the other, the Naval Commander, on the radio. But we got no answer.

After anchoring for the night, we motored up the coast. It was pretty cool. We were right next to the rugged shoreline in 70+ feet of water. Then the depth alarm went off and we were in less than 10 feet of water. With long milliseconds of deliberation, we determined that the rocks under the water might be a little rugged too. So we moved the boat out from shore a few feet and continued up the coast.

Hundreds of Guadeloupe Fur Seals were along the shoreline and out in the water. Some of them in the water would just sit there with a fin (flipper?) or tail out of the water. We never did figure out why. Maybe they were sitting there pondering why humans sit on the beach.

There were some sea lions along the way, and possibly some elephant seals.

We passed a canyon that ran into the ocean. At the mouth was a rocky beach. We could see a few small waves on the beach, but it looked easy enough to land on, if we could find a place to anchor. We decided to go hike up a mountain.

We doubled back, dropped the anchor in about 40 feet of water, and it held. It was pretty close to the shore by my anchoring standards. But I rarely anchor closer than 1/4 mile to land. We debated on whether to take the dinghy or kayaks, and opted for the dinghy.

As we approached the shore, we noticed that "waves may be larger than they appear." The dinghy crashed down hard on the rocks off a big wave, denting the aluminum bottom before being swamped by water. One of our better landings, as nothing serious was broken.

Then we saw at a bunch of irate-looking fur seals, along with some other miscellaneous Pinnipedia. One thing we noticed right away is that Guadeloupe Fur Seals are BIG. They were bigger than we were.

We just wanted to walk on by, but the seals didn't realize that. We picked our way through giant boulders surrounding hidden seals. Mike walked by one seal that either got mad or scared or both. The seal came running and screaming at the top of its lungs right at me. At least it seemed like it was coming at me. It had its mouth open and it had giant teeth. Well, they seemed giant.

I finally stepped aside and the seal went into the water. Maybe it was just having a temper tantrum because Mike woke it up. At any rate, Mike went back to the dinghy and grabbed a paddle to punish errant seals. Luckily he didn't need to and we got to keep the paddle.

Eventually we climbed out of the canyon and onto dry land. Very dry land. That place is a desert! We hiked 2-3 miles up a mountain and on to the continental divide of Guadeloupe Island.

There was one gravel road up there at the top of the island.

We never did see any people. But we did see part of a wrecked airplane.

We didn't see any live goats, but there must have been some around somewhere.

After the climb, we headed down to the boat. As we got close, we noticed a helicopter flying along the beach. It circled the boat once and took off. They were probably just making sure The Minnow wasn't in trouble. We whistled and clapped when we got the seals and they meandered away from us quite politely. Then were headed for Ensenada and the US.

We arrived in Ensenada about 4:00.

We had one hour to check into Ensenada and out of Mexico. I barely made it. Paperwork is slow in Ensenada.

As soon as we anchored I took off in the dinghy to shore. I parked at a small dock with some fishing boats tied to it, and went across the street to the port offices -- immigration, customs, and the port captain offices in the same building to make it easy.

But since we didn't have a letter from a marina stating we're leaving, I had to run down the street a couple of blocked and pay a tax, then come back and finish the paperwork. All this, along with stamps, copies, and several et ceteras, took until a little after five. I was happy they didn't make us spend the night.

Finally we left Ensenada for San Diego. We arrived at the Police dock around 7 or 8 in the morning (we went slow so we'd get there in the daytime). US Customs people were courteous and efficient! That was an unexpected pleasure.

Then we called to see if we could get the boat hauled out for bottom paint a few days early. We could and we did!

All the photos are at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Transpac 2007!

by Bob

Mike and I are on the Minnow in Long Beach, awaiting the start of the 2007 Transpac Race. We race from Los Angeles to Hawaii against
73 other boats. The first group took off July 9. Our start is July 12. The really fast boats go on July 15. Mike and I will be on
the boat for the start and hopefully the finish. Photos from the first start are at Details and
current standings of the Transpac Race are at

Details on the last part of the Panama-Long Beach trek coming soon...

Saturday, June 23, 2007


We arrived in San Diego a couple (or 3?) of days ago. Here are a whole bunch of pictures. Text coming "real soon now."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Guadelupe Island

by Bob

We fueled up at Cabo San Lucas, and took off a little bit later. We motored into the wind for a couple of days and pulled into
Turtle Bay (Bahia de Tortugas). A small outboard met us on the way into the bay and asked if we needed diesel. We did!

There is a pier with fuel available at turtle bay, but it's hard to tie to in a bigger boat. Instead, the guy we met took us to an
old stripped fishing boat with a 2500 gallon diesel tank in back. We tied to the boat with a single rope and they passed a hose to
us. We filled up at a very reasonable price and got on our way in just a few minutes. That's my kind of fuel stop!

Around 1000 people live in the town at Turtle Bay (I forgot its name). There is a 135-mile dirt road from there to the nearest
highway. The land there is barren. No trees, and almost no green whatsoever.

From Turtle Bay we came to Guadalupe Island, where we are now. It's about 140 miles off the west coast of Mexico. There are some
HUGE rocks and cliffs here, with really interesting formations. Isla Afuera is a giant rock on the south end of Guadelupe, with a
600+ vertical cliff on its south end. It's very impressive. The highest mountain on Guadelupe is 4000-5000' high (I think so,
anyway -- one map we have says 13,900' but that seems a little high).

We headed into a sheltered cove at the south end of the island, where a meteorogical station is. We didn't have any details charts,
so we weren't too sure where to go to avoid the rocks sticking up here and there.

We headed into this gap between a giant rock and a bunch of small ones. Mike was on front of the boat looking and I was driving.
Since he's blind and I can't drive worth a dime, we were in fine shape. He pointed out an underwater right next to the boat. I
reversed out of there straightaway, and we anchored in a more open cove about a mile or so away.

There are seals or sea elephants or some sort of sea monsters along the shore here. They do some loud trumpeting. They play in the
water, chase fish, and generally have a grand time.

Mike and I went kayaking. Sometimes the big sea elephants acted a little threatening when we got close. We kayaked around this cove,
and then up to the cove with the meteorological station. It was really windy on the way up there. On the way back to the boat we
held the paddles up and "sailed" almost the entire distance (a mile?) back to the boat.

This place has over 100 species of sharks. We haven't seen any yet. I'm trying to talk Mike into diving tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Manzanillo, Marieta, and Puerto Vallarta

by Bob

On Sunday we went to Manzanillo, and anchored off the resort where they filmed the movie "10". We planned to do some diving, but the
water was murky. More red tide. It was pretty wavy around the rocks. We ate (at a restaurant with metal utensils), slept, and took

We arrived at the Marieta Islands a little before sunup. I was driving, everybody else was sleeping. The radar showed islands a mile
or two away from where the maps did. That was really strange. I thought our radar might be broken.

Eventually I figured out that the maps were wrong. There is one book that had a different GPS location for these islands. That one
was correct. Good thing we slowed down to wait until we could see.

We anchored at West Marieta Island. I lowered the anchor at about 25-30 feet, then backed up to make sure it was set good.

While those lazy bums were still sleeping, I kayaked around the island. It was really neat and a little scary. There are a lot of
rocks sticking up around this island. There are a lot of caves and holes.

There were big swells coming in from a couple of directions. Sometimes it would sound like an explosion when a wave would hit a hole
just right. They would splash up 50 feet high sometimes. There were birds all over the island. Sometimes they'd dive-bomb the kayak.
I think they were just being friendly.

Later on we scuba dived at the boat. I followed down the anchor chain and found the anchor at 50 feet, next to a big rock formation.
It had slid off the rocks into the sand at 50 feet before it held.

Then we headed 20 miles to Nuevo Puerto Vallarta and stopped for the night. The next day Adam and Patty flew back to Oklahoma. That
meant we had to do some paperwork with the port captain because they like to keep track who's on the boat. Then we got diesel and
headed toward Cabo San Lucas.

It's now 8:00 am Thursday, and we're about 1.5 or 2 hours from Cabo San Lucas. We've been motoring against the wind almost all the
time since Puerto Vallarta. Last night we moved from 83 degree water to 66 degree water. That is a huge difference! I guess we're
into the water coming down from California now.

Pictures coming soon!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Photos!

We are in Manzanillo, Mexico, anchored near the Las Hadas Marina. Here are the latest photos since Guatemala:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Red Tide

by Bob

It is night time (or early in the am). We are in a thunderstorm. Someone (me) didn't get the windows closed in time, so some of the
inside of the boat got washed. The water temperature was 78 a few minutes ago, but is now 81. The wind was 30+ knots a few minutes
ago but is now 13 knots. The wind direction has been all over the place. Earlier today there was little or no wind. We're in 3000
feet of water, but in a few minutes we'll be in 120 feet over (hopefully) an underwater mountain.

Last night and tonight there has been phosphorescing or fluorescing or glowing water. The is a wake of light behind the boat and the
water glows where fish, porpoises, and sea monsters stir up the water.

Today (Friday) we decided to go scuba diving. As we got close to our dive spot, we noticed the water looked a little murky. It was
dark red, kind of like the water in the Everglades sometimes.

We anchored off Sacramento Reef near Ixtapa, Mexico. The anchor didn't hold very well so I stayed on the boat while Mike and Adam
dived. They stayed in about 3 minutes. They had about 3-foot visibility. Those guys will never be cave divers.

We were wondering if this is a red tide or algae bloom, and if so, where it came from.


by Bob

Mike caught a 23 lb shark Wednesday. I'm not sure what kind of shark, but it had teeth. I'll upload photos when I have a chance.

We've been motoring most of the time, occasionally with the sails up. About a day out of Acapulco we started running both engines so
we could get there early enough to get out on the same day.

I went outside shortly before sunup Thursday and noticed that the right engine had died. Diesel engines don't normal quit running
all by themselves. So I checked the fuel gauges. Above a quarter tank. I put a stick into the tank to see if they gauges were lying.
They were. The tanks were almost empty.

So real quick, I started pouring diesel from the 5 and 6 gallon plastic jugs into the left tank. That's so that engine would keep
running. When a diesel engine runs out of diesel, at least on this boat and most tractors, you have to bleed the air out of the fuel
lines before it runs again.

Luckily, our Volvo 78hp engines are advanced enough to have an easy way to bleed the fuel lines. You just loosen a screw and press a
small manual pump until the air stops coming out. It's pretty messy, but it's better than doing each injector one at a time.

So I did it, according to the manual. It wouldn't run. I did it again. No luck. After four times Mike was awake and he used his farm
tractor technique to bleed each injector. It ran!

I happened to email David Renouf about something else during this, and mentioned we had to bleed the bleedin' engine. After we got
it running, I read his reply that said that it's been his experience that the bleeding method in the manual doesn't work, you have
the bleed each injector. I thought that was pretty funny.

About that time, the generator stopped generating, which killed the air conditioner. Apparently some sediment from the bottom of the
fuel tank stopped up the fuel filter. Mike cleaned it (we didn't have a replacement), then spent time time bleeding the fuel system
in the generator before it would run. He claims he was hot, but I think he's just out of shape.

Eventually we made it to Acapulco. We drove in, cleared customs, immigration, got our zarpe (clearance), got diesel, had the boat
cleaned (top and bottom), picked up Patty and Adam, ate dinner at a restaurant with metal utensils, and took off. That's pretty good
for one afternoon in Mexico.

On the way out we saw the place they dive off cliffs. We didn't stop and dive.

Patty asked if I had ever seen a stingray jump clear out of the water and turn flips. I said no. She said she saw one. I said she
was hallucinating again, and that it was probably a dolphin.

A little while later, we came upon a whole school of rays jumping out of the water. It was weird! They were dark colored on their
backs, light underneath, and about 3 feet wide. Then Adam caught one on the fishing pole. We turned it loose and it flew away
(underwater). Mike said if we tell anybody we saw that, they'll never believe us.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


by Bob

We took off from Guatemala yesterday morning. The day before we headed about 50 miles inland to Antigua Guatemala, the old city,
with three other people and a taxi driver. I thought it was going to be Mayan ruins, but there was a slight inconsistency in my
comprehension. I'm used to that, even at home. Antigua is a tourist / market center, with some big marketplaces. We bought some
vegetables that look like giant green beans. We saw people collecting bugs to eat called something like sonpopo de Mayo.

We're off the coast of Mexico, just outside the Gulf of Tehuantepec. It's famous for the high winds funneling in between the
mountain ranges from the Gulf of Mexico into the Pacific. I was reading a book about The Speedwell, a privateer vessel of the
1700's, a couple of days ago. Even they had trouble with the Teguantepec gales. We have close to 8 knots of wind on the nose.

We caught and ate a Spanish mackerel (or something close) yesterday. Lots of lightning last night, but it most of it was 5 or 10
miles away. We're 80 miles offshore. Water depth is 12,000 feet, and water temperature is 84.9F.

Mike does not appreciate water in the vacuum. How else do you clean the shower???

Saturday, June 02, 2007


by Bob

More pictures!

We got into Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala this morning about 8:30. We planned to arrive about 9:00 or 9:30 to make sure everybody was up

and around. I called some people about hour before. Unfortunately for them, I didn't realize it was really 7:30 am on Saturday. I
thought they sounded a little groggy. I was surprised to learn that Guatemala is an hour behind Pryor time.

Coming into Guatemala we got to within 100 miles or so of Tropical Storm Barbara. It is now fizzling on shore in southern Mexico,
but we'll wait a day or two to let the waves die down before we continue.

As we got close to the storm, the swells got bigger and bigger. They also got a little steeper, but not steep enough to cause a
rough ride. The water looked surreal yesterday evening, kind of like rolling hills.

This morning we got into some strong wind for a while, blowing toward the storm and against the big swells. Some of the swells were
12 or 15 feet high. The swells were steep enough that waves didn't form in the opposite direction, but there were whitecaps on the
tops of the giant swells going backwards. It looked pretty funny.

We came into Puerto Quetzal past a huge surf on the breakwater, managed to park at the fuel dock without breaking the dock or the
boat, cleared in, bought diesel, and parked again at the regular dock. Again, no major damage to the boat. But there is this one
pole on the dock...

Clearance into the country involved immigration, customs, port capitan, an agent, 4 copies of our boat papers, and $165. It was
pretty easy, though, because the agent (required for recreational boats) handled all the details. They searched our boat a little,
looking for contraband. Contraband is a group of musicians that played for the Nicaraguan rebels.

Tomorrow we plan to take a taxi to a Mayan city with our neighbors on the dock, and possibly run a few errands on the way. I think
the Mayans left the city some time ago. I'm not sure why.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sailfish and Tropical Storms

by Bob

It's 84 degrees, the water temperature is 81.8, the wind is 7-8 knots from the southwest, and we are headed northwest. The water
depth is in the neighborhood of 30,000 feet. I wanted to stop and swim, but the boat is liable to get away from us in the wind and

The water is medium wavy (that's a technical sailing term) with big swells. The swells are 8-10 feet high, and a few of them are
higher. It's a pretty smooth ride, though, because the swells are coming in at an angle and the boat just rides over the top of

The big swells are coming from tropical storm Barbara to our northwest. Or maybe it's still a tropical depression, I'm not sure.
Yesterday it was forecast to be a hurricane, but today they say it will only be a tropical storm. Either way, we'd like to avoid it.
So we're headed to Guatemala instead of Mexico until the scary weather goes away.

Last night we were sailing along at a good clip. I was sleeping. Mike was wondering why the wind got up over 30 knots. Since then
the wind has gradually decreased. This morning I started an engine to help out the sails. Shortly after that, I heard the line
pealing off a fishing pole. We had been dragging a lure all night.

I tightened the drag. Line kept going out. I stopped the motor. Line kept going. I tightened the drag a BUNCH, and figured out that
something pretty big was on the other end. It was moving, too. I finally could start reeling it in, slowly, when the fish was coming
down a swell.

Mike got up to see what all the commotion was about. The fish jumped a few times and we could see it was some kind of bill fish --
sword fish, marlin, etc. Eventually we got it up to the boat.

The birds Mike was fighting yesterday managed to get the gaff away from him and deep--six it. So we got the fish alongside the boat
and Mike tried to get a rope around its tail. We had to be careful because those fish can slice you up pretty bad when they're
flopping around. At this point I was guessing it was six feet long. We thought it was a sailfish, because it had a big dorsal fin
like a sail.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Mike managed to get a rope around the tail and winched the fish part way up the steps at the
back of the boat. It was BIG. Our scale only goes to 50 lbs, and we weren't tall enough or brave enough to lift it up to be weighed.
So Mike got the tape measure. The fish was a little over nine feet long, from the tip of the sword to the tip of the tail.

Mike got brave and pulled the hook out of its mouth with a pair of needle nose pliers. Then we turned it loose. It stayed on top of
the water for a few minutes, and eventually swam away. We checked the books and confirmed it is a sailfish.

Now we're back on track for Guatemala!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Right Turn

by Bob

It is Thursday, May 31, 5:30am. We are at 9°45'N 086°50'W, going through the water at 7.7 knots heading 317°. Over ground, we are
going 6.2 knots at 328°. We have a current from the north, and we're skidding sideways a little.

The wind is 12 knots from the west, waves are about 4 or 6 feet high, water temperature is 79° (down from 83° at 6°N). Outside air
temperature is 78° with light snow.

After Panama, we decided we'd visit Isla del Cocos. It's an island 200-300 miles off the coast of Cost Rica. As the largest
uninhabited island in the world (24 square miles or kilometers, I forgot which), I thought we finally found a place where we
wouldn't offend people.

So we took off into the wind toward the island. For a few days. We were about a day and a half away when I decided to see if our
book on Costa Rica had any info on Isla del Cocos.

It did. It's a national marine park of Costa Rica. You cannot go within 12 miles of the island without written permission from Costa
Rica. That takes a minimum of 5 days, and we would have to go to Costa Rica first to clear into the country. Those snobs!

So we turned right toward Mexico. Now we plan to skip over Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatamala, El Salvador, and possibly Siberia.
That'll teach 'em!

Yesterday, just after we turned right toward Mexico, we rolled out the gennaker. I believe the proper nautical term might be
unfurled, but since our gennaker is on a roller I prefer to use rolled out or unrolled.

A jib is the sail on the front of the boat. We have two of them, a small one called a solent and a big one called a gennaker. The
gennaker is used in light wind, up to 16 or 17 knots apparent. The solent is used in higher wind, and can be used to go more
directly into the wind than the gennaker.

When we brought out the gennaker, the wind was in the low 20's, a little high for that sail. It was enough to stress the winch a
little when we trimmed it. But we were going fast -- 10 and 11 knots.

Then I noticed something on the sail. We broke out the spotlight, and saw a couple of rips, 2-3 feet long. So we rolled up the
gennaker (furled it, too) and broke out the solent. Back down to 8-9 knots.

Today we got some fairly light wind, so we brought down the gennaker onto the trampoline and patched it. We taped it, and Mike sewed
some of the bad spots. He is a heckuva seamster. Then we raised it, unrolled it, and sailed! A few minutes later, the wind was
getting up to 19 and 20 knots, so we went back to the solent.

Last night, Mike was sitting outside peacefully when a large bird relieved itself all over him and the nav station. Today he
retaliated against the avians and caught a bird while fishing. With Mike's and the birds' mindless escalation and policy of mutually
assured destruction, I'm a little nervous when I go outside tonight.

Tonight the sky is mostly clear, and I think it's one day before the full moon. The moon is really bright at any rate. It's a big
change from not even being able to see the horizon.

OK, OK, maybe there's not really any snow.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


We are sailing in the Pacific!

It's raining, waves are around 7-feet high, I just beat Mike at chess, and we caught a 22 lb tuna. We are headed southwest toward
California. We plan to stop at Acapulco.

However, Tropical Depression One is supposed to develop into a tropical cyclone just south of Acapulco in 5 or 6 days. We might get
to sit around a couple of days waiting for it to go away.

There were dolphins around the boat this morning. They're short, fat, and dark colored. There's a bird flying around now. Its
scientific name is "big brown bird."

I think you can still track our location here:

We're moving again!

After we got to the Pacific, we went to the Flamenco Yacht Club to dock the boat. It's not as nice as Shelter Bay, but it's what's
available. There wasn't any shore power available on our part of the docks, so people were running generators. The guy next two us
was running a very loud portable generator.

When I checked out, I learned that they give Catamarans a special rate -- double! Some places charge 1.5 times for a catamaran, but
this is the first time I've ever been charged double to dock. Especially without electricity.

The primary task for me, after getting fuel and docking, was to get rid or Melinda! Unfortunately, I had to wait until the next
morning to get her to the airport. So we ate dinner at a restaurant with metal utensils (Bennigans).

The next day I got groceries, had laundry laundered, got scuba air, and stuff like that. We were supposed to get our Zarpe, or boat
clearance, on Thursday, then Friday morning, then Saturday morning. We finally got it Saturday afternoon.

Mike got in on Saturday. I didn't know what flight he was coming in on. I tried to call him in Houston between flights but he was in
Panama when he answered. We took off yesterday afternoon for parts unknown.

It took 11 days to cross 40 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But that is a lot faster than Tierra del Fuego. I think. I
should probably go there sometime and find out for sure.

Now Mike and I are making our way up the Pacific Coast of Panama. Except we're headed south, at 195 degrees. Weird.

Panama Canal

We were finally cleared to cross to the Pacific on Wednesday. It's currently a 2-day affair for small boats to transit the Panama
Canal. You take off in the evening, anchor overnight on Gatun Lake in the middle of Panama, then take off the next morning for the
second half.

There are two sets of three locks in the canal. You are required to have four line handlers and hire a Panama Canal Advisor. If the
boat is longer than 65 feet, you hire a Panama Canal Pilot. A pilot is like a high-powered advisor that costs $2250 and gets you
faster service crossing in the canal.

We were also required to have four lines for the four line handlers, 125-feet long and 7/8" diameter. We rented these.

They gave us a time of 16:30 to be at "the flats" anchorage ready to go. 16:30 is the equivalent of 3:90 p.m. in the afternoon.
Rudy, Jose, and the other line handlers got to the boat around 3:00. They attached 14 tires to the sides for bumpers, in addition to
our 10 bumpers. They apparently had heard about my boat driving.

On the way to the anchorage, Cristobal Signal told us something about 19:00. So we anchored until 19:00. They told us we'd be going
through the locks rafted to two other boats. The Minnow would be in the center, with a sailboat tied to each side. The Minnow would
do the driving and the other boats could assist with their engines if we needed them.

At 7:00 pm, we pulled up the anchor to get ready to load the advisor and take off. The other two boats were already driving around.
It was raining. The three of us drove around the anchorage until the advisors arrived at about 8:15. We took off about 8:30. It was
raining. I was wet. Next time I'll stay anchored until the advisor is on the boat.

We drove up the canal to the first lock. We stayed to the right of the channel so other boats and ships could pass us. It was easy,
but I had to pay attention for literally minutes to void being crushed by a ship or ramming the side of the canal. It might have
been a first for me.

Just before the first of the three Gatun locks (on the Atlantic side of Lake Gatun), we rafted up with the red boat on our left and
the white boat on our right. Then we drove to the lock.

It was really strange going up to the lock at night. The lights, current, and rain made everything pretty disorienting. But I
behaved normally and they just figured I was drunk or something. The fresh water from the lake and river mix with the salt water of
the ocean just below that lock, producing quite a bit of turbulence. I was crabbing to the left quite a bit, then a few seconds
later I was crabbing the opposite direction as we passed through a circular current. Those other people were really wondering.

It looked like we'd never fit in that small canal with the tiny ship ahead of us. But things were farther than they appeared, and we
pulled up behind the ship. It was a big car carrier. The advisor was a little surprised to be behind such a big ship.

Four guys on the top of the canal (way above us at that point) threw "monkey fists" down to our boat, attached to some small ropes.
A monkey fist is a weighted knot they use to target line handlers and boat drivers. If they miss and don't nail anybody, the line
handlers get to tie our big ropes to their small ropes. The guys on the canal then pull up our big ropes and loop them over cleats
on the canal. They our line handles pull in (going up) or let out (going down) the big ropes through our cleats.

Since we had three boats and four ropes, we put two ropes on the left (red) boat and two on our boat. The boat on the right was
smaller, so they got no ropes. We went up at the Gatun locks, so they closed the gates behind us and filled the lock with water.

We rose up with the water, which is considered a good thing. After the lock was full, the big ship took off. Quickly. It made some
giant waves that had the red and especially the white boat bouncing around. The line handlers and advisors were doing a lot of
speedy communicating. Or maybe it was exclaiming. They asked the ship to take it easy after that, and it wasn't so bad on the next
two locks.

We stayed rafted together and drove up behind the ship on the second lock, and repeated everything, except the guys on the canal
kept hold of the small ropes and walked along with us. I think if they don't nail anybody the first time they throw the monkey
fists, they don't get to throw them any more.

Once, one of the canal guys dropped a rope in the water instead of attaching it to a cleat. So we twisted around the white boat was
headed for the side. We corrected with the engines before we broke anything, though.

Instead of a line handler and ropes, the ship used locomotives and cables to hold it in the middle of the canal. It looked like it
only had a foot or so clearance on each side. They apparently build the ships to fit the canal.

After lucking out and making it through the third lock without damaging the canal or the boats, we took off and tied to a giant
mooring buoy on Lake Gatun. Or maybe it was Gatun Lake. Our advisor got off, and the line handlers, Melinda, and I went to bed.

While I was driving, Melinda helped me, too pictures, cooked, got drinks for people, and got really irritated when the line handlers
treated her like a girl. She didn't appreciate the chivalry.

The next morning around 6:30 or 7:00, we got a new advisor. The other one probably resigned after experiencing my boat handling. We
motored a few hours to the Miraflores locks and went down. We had to wait for a while at a dock while they blew up some rocks in the
river across from us. They set off about 30 timed charges. We saw birds, ships, and stuff on the way to the locks.

We went down through the locks with no major problems, and then motored out to the Pacific Ocean. It was pretty neat.

Photos are at