Sixteen yachts departed the Corinthian Yacht Club at noon in beautiful, warm, light air conditions. Wind was barely five knots at the start, building to fifteen under the Golden Gate Bridge by 2:00pm. Outside the Gate, fog awaited the racers and wind was from the northwest at nine knots with waves at 5+ feet. Weather reports for the Eastern Pacific indicate stronger breeze in the evening hours and 8' seas further offshore. Keep your eye on the Pacific Surface Analysis for a good overview of the race course to Hawaii. The two multihulls, Nai'a and Bad Boy, flew across the Bay and were first out the Gate (of course!). Monohulls out in front early and looking good included the 54' Joe, Rumbleseat, and Tiger Beetle. It appears the fleet will quickly be spread out over a large area of ocean. No positions reported yet early Sunday morning...
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1830 PDT. Seas lumpy, 10 feet, wind in 20-28 knot range. Boats close reaching. Mal-de-mer reported through the fleet. A bit of a rough ride, but at least we are getting away clean and fast. Lots of water on deck, everyone seems pretty cheerful. We all send our love and gratitude to those who made this hare-brained enterprise possible.
The following was reported by Rob Macfarlane on Tiger Beetle: 2340 PDT Lat 37'27" Long 123'41" wind 31 knots.
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1900 PDT. Conditions are very unpleasant, with large lumpy seas and 25-30 knots of wind. Most boats are beam reaching and taking a lot of water aboard. Not life threatening, but rather miserable. ORANGE BLOSSOM has ripped up its 110% jib, and has a tear high in the leech of the main sail. Ed also fixed a forward bulkhead that was splintering. BRAVO has junk in the fuel system and Fred has been seasick in addition. Mike on FOXXFYRE was thrown across the cabin and hit his head pretty hard. He got a very deep cut about 1 1/2 inches long above the right eye. He has closed the cut with butterfly bandages. We are all looking foward to the end of the famous "Windy Reach"!!! Several boats have had close encounters with shipping, but no close calls.
Mike Reppy aboard Nai'a has a leak from the daggerboard case that he could not fix at sea. He therefore decided to return to fix the problem and then continue the race. He expects to rejoin the fleet on Tuesday. (RC)
Mike Jefferson's Log: 0630 PDT. JOE reports problems with SSB receive mode. BERSERKER has schmutz in diesel, no engine at present. RUMBLESEAT doing ok, a bit wet and some mal-de-mer still, but going fast! TIGER BEETLE reports a good night's sleep and a great attitude. Seas are better, everyone still beam reaching in 20-30 knots. Weather charts look strange. FOXXFYRE is doing ok, but radio gear acting weird due to water aboard. Head seems ok. Regards from the sea, Mike Jefferson
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1900 PDT. BERSERKER reports hitting a whale today. It was a full on collision which lifted the boat 3 feet and scared the daylights out of him. Mark reports no apparent damage and is continuing on. His fuel problems continue but appear manageable. BRAVO reports a better day. Fred says that the seasickness he has had is getting much better. He ripped a jib, but is setting a shy kite tonight. He reports that his SSB cannot work 4009 kHz simplex,so we will work him on 4146 kHz. SENSEI has an identical SSB, so we will look for her on that frequency also. ORANGE BLOSSOM reports a fine day. After hacking his 110% off the furler with a machete, Ed took a hot shower and will dine on pork chops tonight. TIGER BEETLE is passing close to a container ship which picked him up on radar at 10 miles! Seas still lumpy, beam reaching in 20-25 knots, overcast to misty conditions. Bruce on RUMBLESEAT has the asymetrical chute up and is going very fast. He requests that Jeanne bring the classical guitar to Kauai. Ray on WILD THING had his asymetrical chute in the water TWICE today. He is flying about 4000 square feet of sail. It boggles the mind! Regards, Mike Jefferson
21:30 PDT - Just posted position reports for the first three days. Still working on graphic charts... None of the three skippers using VHF (Gary Helms, Eric Jungemann, and Terry McKelvey) reported at roll call this morning. (Joseph)
Eric Jungemann and Terry McKelvey (finally!) reported at roll call this morning! Peter Hogg has cranked out some interesting columns on his spreadsheet based on the reported position data. I have added "Average Speed", "Miles from SF", "Miles to Hanalei", and "ETA" to today's report. At present, Peter estimates that Ray Thayer on Wild Thing will arrive first in Hanalei, followed a day later by Gary Helms on Bad Boy, Chuck Beazell on Joe, and Bruce Schwab on Rumbleseat. Corrected time estimates put Rumbleseat in the lead of Division II/Class I and Berserker leading Division II/Class II. Thanks Peter!
Mike Jefferson's Log: 0700 PDT. SENSEI and BRAVO have tamed their SSBs and rejoined the check-in. SENSEI reports a ripped mainsail along the luff. Terry will attempt a fix today. Fred on BRAVO has ripped both 120% jibs. JOE is making progress on fixing his SSB receiver. The weather remains misty and overcast. Most boats still beam reaching in 20-25 knots true. My eye was apretty nasty business. In the shoreside world it would have taken maybe 15 stiches. I am holding it closed with butterfly bandages, but I will hate to see what it will look like when healed! Oh well, life is full of lumps. A cold beer sounds real good right now. Also, give my regards to all. We seem to have reached the pressure ridge, such as it is right now. The wind has eased and the seas are flatter. Not horrible at all. Mike
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1900 PDT. About half the boats are flying chutes today. Winds are generally lighter, 12-20 knots true. seas are flattening. wind approximately on the beam. A number of interesting signs and portents have been observed, including flying fish, tennis shoes and a Chlorox bottle (TIGER BEETLE), squid (SENSEI), 55 gallon drums (ORANGE BLOSSOM). NAI'A has completed repairs in San Francisco and has returned to the race!!! WILD THING has had a rather intense last 24 hours. Several spreaders are loosening, and Ray has had to go aloft several times to attempt repairs. Bruce Schwab on RUMBLESEAT, a professional rigger has ideas about a good fix. A down haul block on the bowsprit blew up, releasing the chute, which has wrapped around the # 1 and #3 jibs. Presently Ray has only the #2 jib left, and down wind chutes. He remains optimistic about a fix. The weather is kind of misty, with sunshine and light squalls. A pleasant intermission before the serious spinnaker work to come. Regards from the TransPac fleet!! Mike Jefferson
Rob Macfarlane's brother Duncan sent the following report: Robbie called my folks at 9:20 p.m. (7-2) and his location was 33' 42" 131' 14" with flat seas and 11 knots of wind. He reported there has been "alot of carnage at sea"... "but, Tiger Beetle has nothing broken"... He got a good nights sleep and is feeling good.
Mike Jefferson's Log: 0700 PDT. Last night was characterized by calmer seas and fading wind. The boats to the South seem to have more wind.We are definitely no longer in Kansas! The sky is filled with odd clouds, and tiny squall-like formations. The wind seems to fluctuate and appears to be backing further north. This will be a day for 1/2 oz kites and lots of patience. Wiley veterans like Ken Roper on HARRIER are starting to stick it to the whippersnappers. BIG DOT continues to amaze with his steady progress. NAI'A is tearing off the miles as it flies back down the course after a day on the beach in Sausalito, undergoing repairs to its daggerboard trunk. Michael should beat most of the boats on the course even after sporting them a 3 day head start! This is a great day to play music loud, clean up, eat normally, and start grooving with the ocean! Regards from the ocean! Mike Jefferson
Mike Jefferson chatting with ham Bill De La Mater: I have had a pleasant day, Bill,. I am running with a big 1/2 oz spinnaker up and 5-8 knots of apparent wind. I have had the DOORS and various blues albums on real LOUD and have been dancing naked in the cockpit. AH the pleasures of the sea! How are you doing, partner?
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1900
PDT. BRAVO and FOXXFYRE have crossed paths,
coming within about 1/4 mile this evening. It is a unique event, to see
a fellow competitor at sea! We were both cheered by the sight. Today started
fairly light for many of the more northerly boats, but a chain of squalls,
or possibly a weather front has been moving southwest and providing a fine
wild ride for those with spinnakers up. TIGER BEETLE rode
a squall line for hours with the full size 1.5 oz chute up until a nasty
wave coincided with a big puff and he did a screaming power broach to windward
and put the port spreader in the water. Mike on FOXXFYRE
has been running with the 1.5 oz shy kite all afternoon and surfing along
at 8 knots with 20 knots true wind waiting for his turn at the shrimp market.
It has been white knuckles and Maalox for sure! Many racers have reported
trash, including a 100 yard piece of very heavy netting, glass balls, bottles,
packing crates, space cases, and so on. It would appear that recent efforts
to prevent such garbage from being dumped at sea are not adequate. It is
really sad to see. On a happier note, many beautiful pelagic birds have
been spotted, including several Herman's gulls (a close approximation to
an albatross; very beautiful), tropic or bosun's birds, stormy petrels,
and a pelagic crab was found living in a floating bottle by Rob Macfarlane.
On the busted gear circuit, SENSEI has completed mainsail
repairs, HARRIER has had to start patching holes in his mainsail.
BERSERKER ran a full charge cycle on his engine without problems,
so maybe the fuel is cleaning up. FOXXFYRE's engine has been
making strange burps, so a fuel system bleed may be on the horizon. Bruce
Schwab on RUMBLESEAT reports hitting 17 knots with the jib
up. Ray on WILD THING reports that his repairs seem
successful, although the spinnaker is still wrapped on the #1 and #3 jibs.
The fleet has had two encounters with Matson Line ships, the MOKU
PAHU, and the MANU KAI. We would like to compliment
Matson Lines for the outstanding watchkeeping that these ships have, and
for the very professional and pleasant officers aboard. These ships have
spotted various racers at up to 12 nm (in calm seas) and been very careful
to discuss their intentions, course and speed, and have been very concerned
as to avoiding conflicts. In addition, they have passed positions from
boats without SSB to FOXXFYRE for inclusion in the position
report. Well, we are on the edge of the trades, and the real spinnaker
work is about to begin. A later note will describe some of the things which
go on when singlehanders fly kites! Stay tuned.
Regards from the sea, Mike Jefferson
1330 PDT Alot of Mike Jefferson's log entries from previous days were received and posted today ; see below. These pages are changing rapidly. Be sure to clear your browser's disk cache to get the latest!
2330 PDT Graphic charts have been added showing boat positions!!! Mahalo (Thanks!) to Walt Niemczura for his creative work using Generic Mapping Tools (GMT-3) by Paul Wessel to produce these charts for the SSS TransPac and other ocean racing sites.
Mike Jefferson's Log: 0700 PDT. Rob Macfarlane of TIGER BEETLE narrowly escaped being run over and sunk by the planet VENUS, as it appeared in the morning sky. He was on the VHF trying to make contact, as he was sure that it was either a fellow competitor or a ship. There are some moments in offshore sailing of almost transcendental beauty. The morning sky with a few squalls on the horizon is surely one of these. A razor cut horizon with cobalt blue sea and an albatross soaring over the swells. The wake of the boat glowing a phosphorescent green with bright sparkles as the boat powers down a tradewind swell at night with the spinnaker up. Perhaps this is why we do this. Nah! It's the delights of a PopTart at 2 in the morning after dragging the spinnaker out of the water. Or maybe it is the thrill of being head down in the engine compartment bleeding the fuel system so you can charge batteries, while the boat rolls 25 degrees to each side. Ed English of ORANGE BLOSSOM left the 1.5 oz chute up too long last night and found himself survival sailing by hand for hours as squall after squall rolled through and he was unable to take it down. He reports that the boat has never sailed so fast before. Heroic deeds are often the response to limited options. Singlehanded sailing certainly provides one with ample opportunities to find out! The fleet seems pretty happy right now. The race is very tight, on a boat for boat basis, with many competitors only a few miles apart in distance to the finish. The southern boats seem to be in a low wind situation at the moment, while the northern boats are running before 20 knots True wind and a possible cold front. But it's only 1/3 over, stay tuned! Regards from the sea, Mike Jefferson
Mike Jefferson chatting with ham Bill De La Mater: 1600 PDT. THIS HAS BEEN A PRETTY NASTY DAY. RUNNING DEAD DOWNWIND WITH 20 KNOTS BEHIND ME. JIB POLED OUT TO STBD AND FULL MAIN. LOTS OF SWELL. BOAT ROLLING 25 DEGREES EACH SIDE. TOOK ANOTHER HEAD SHOT WHEN CATAPULTED ACROSS CABIN BY BIG ROLL. OK THOUGH. I HIT ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD. NO BLOOD. NO PROBLEM. THIS IS THE TRENCH WARFARE OF SAILING. IN A FEW DAYS THE ADAPTATION TO FULL WATER RAT MODE WILL BE COMPLETE, BUT RIGHT NOW IT IS STILL IN THE HALF DONE STATE. I HAVE BEEN EATING JUNK FOOD AND READING ALL DAY. I WANT TO SET A CHUTE, BUT THE BOAT WOULD PROBABLY GO SLOWER. MAYBE TOMORROW. I HAD A 1.5 OZ SPINNAKER UP TILL MIDNIGHT AND WAS WHITE-KNUCKLING IT FOR A LONG TIME. FINALLY I TOOK IT DOWN JUST BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE. SEE THE LAST POSITION NOTES FOR THE ALTERNAATIVE!! THE BOAT IS JUST FLYING ALL OVER CREATION IN THIS DOWN WIND STUFF. AARRGH!! I HAD FORGOTTEN THE FEELING. YOU GOTTA LOVE THE ROLL!! (OR ELSE).
Mike Jefferson's Log: 1900 PDT. Today the fleet was running dead downwind in big lumpy seas and 15-20 knots true wind speed. Most boats were running poled out jibs to windward, many also flew another jib to leeward, some poled, some free. It is an uncomfortable ride, with rolls of 25 degrees on each side common. Few boats used chutes. WILD THING and RUMBLESEAT both had kites up. Bruce had his small assymetrical up and Ray was using his 4400 square foot runner. NAI'A got a bad spinnaker wrap that took 4 hours to undo, but is still screaming down the course after the fleet. Ray on WILD THING has now covered 1/2 of the course distance.
Carnage was fairly minor, with BIG DOT blowing up the tack cringle of his jib, which he easily fixed, while TIGER BEETLE broke a link between the two cars on the spinnaker track. It is amazing how long it takes to fix things, even simple things at sea. Nothing ever seems to fit, or the correct tool is in another toolbox, or you have to find a new solution because the simple one is not possible. In addition, the repairs always seem to entail uncomfortable or awkward positions, large doses of high pressure salt water, and the inevitable barked knuckle or cut finger. The feeling of satisfaction a singlehander feels after pulling off some amazing feat of fixit is hard to describe, but it combines exhilaration, pride, and a renewal of self confidence. If the job was sufficiently challenging, you remember it for years.
Several boats have been attacked by killer squid (usually about 6 inches long). These pesky little buggers come aboard at night and are more slippery than the proverbial banana if stepped on on deck at night. Both Ken Roper on HARRIER and Mike Jefferson on FOXXFYRE have longwinded stories about how bad they smell if they end up in some unseen crevice (like a Dorade vent) and rot. You can't begin to imagine...
If you have been reading these notes, by now you may be wondering what sort of fruitcakes are these people anyhow? Are they super macho sailing stars, or simply lunatics? The answer is that by and large they are regular people with the courage and dedication to follow their dreams. Offshore sailing by oneself is a strenuous test of a person's inner character. Technical skill and experience are, of course, very useful. Most of the sailors in this year's SingleHanded TransPac are pretty experienced. But no one of us would be described as a rock star (with the possible exception of Bruce Schwab, but he is too nice to categorize and has only a moderate amount of offshore singlehanded experience). The key to success in any great adventure is tenacity, and the sidekick of tenacity is preparation. It has been said that the hardest thing about doing the TransPac is getting to the starting line. In my own case this is certainly true, and I know many others would feel the same. So what you have here are a bunch of intelligent, reasonably competent people who have decided that it is important to them to test themselves in a quest in which their success or failure can be solely (in so far as any human activity can be) their own responsibility. They have made the committment of the years of training, the anxiety of preparing themselves and the boat, the seemingly endless costs, jobs, and Visa bills, and in some cases the ridicule of people too small to understand.
The boats range from very modest (although quite adequate) to frighteningly big and expensive. It doesn't matter. At sea we are comrades. Rivals also, since this is a race, but it is much more than a struggle for a prize. The real trophy is the permanent joy of accomplishment. It is a reward that can never be taken away or cheapened. In the final analysis, most veterans of the singlehanded TransPac will tell you that it is the ONLY prize that matters. The memory and the friendships last a lifetime. This is one of the last great Corinthian ocean races, free of massive sponsorship and the attendent pressure for victory at the cost of the joy of the experience. It is an experience available to anyone with the will to do it.
The literature of singlehanded sailing is vast, and wonderful insights into the finest qualities of the human race may be found there. For a lovely introduction to the world of offshore singlehanded sailboat racing, "The Moonshine Logs" by Francis Stokes is hard to beat and captures much of the spirit of this race.
Regards from FOXXFYRE, rolling its guts out in the trades! Mike Jefferson
"Any man who would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for
a vacation!" Samuel Johnson (??)
'96 TransPac | SSS | Sailing Links | Weather Links | Hawaii