BoDream/ Transpac Update – The First Three Days

The Transpac started for us last Thursday at 1pm PDT. We had a soft wind start, which created challenges for our breaking free of the California coast. Winds stayed light and variable through Friday afternoon, when they gradually shifted “aft” … which opened up our sails and allowed us to pick up speed.

The Bodacious IV team just before the start of the race.The Bodacious IV team just before the start of the race. From L to R … Christer Still, Matt Scharl, Chris Pike, John Hoskins, Jim McLaren, John Ayres, Jeff Urbina, Tim Eades & Dave Rearick.

The first night, we were surrounded by the constant baying of seals … a haunting call in the dark of night, to be sure. We also had a visit from some indeterminate species of mammal. It being dark, identifying it with any accuracy was difficult for us. As our crew is mostly from the Great Lakes, none of us are too experienced with the local amalgam of sea life. Once loose in the vast Pacific, you quickly come to realize how inadequate the paltry range of categories for sea life you carry with you are, when put against the greater varieties of species that actually exist all around you out here. It’s another one of those pay attention calls that nature loves to deliver, once you put yourself out there and on the receiving end of live experience.

Cool and overcast conditions prevailed all the way to Saturday morning, when the sun broke through allowing us to shed some clothes for an amazing day of sailing at around 12 knots of boat speed and essentially down the “rhumb line” (a fixed compass position indicating the most direct route) to Hawaii. We were able to do this, because the Pacific High pressure zone had move to the north and west bringing us these great winds.

Bodacious IV

Sunday arrived like a gift. We set our spinnakers and went to working our way down the trade wind route to Hawaii, sailing between 14 and 20 knots … in winds coming from our starboard (right) quarter (back corner of the boat) direction. This was giving us steady speeds with a peak speed so far of 17.2 knots!

We saw our first flying fish Sunday, which tells us the water is getting warmer … AND we had a squid fly up on deck as well, during one of our sail changes, and leaving some ink stains on the deck. Ancient mariners used to navigate by such natural signs. They knew that such occurrences indicated they were changing latitudes as the temperatures of the water, smell of the sea, angle of the winds, types of fish and sea life are all somewhat specific to certain regions of the sea … not unlike how various plants and animals on land are recognizably native to particular regions.

Crew spirits are high, lots of laughs and barbs zinging back and forth. And on top of that, we are eating like kings! Dinner Sunday was a delicious Veal Moscato courtesy of Chef Pierce Johnson * … our French chef friend and long-time crew member who is sitting out the race this year, but who is remembered fondly at every meal.

A quartet of sailorsAppraising the situation, planning the future …

We started our Sunday with the Code 0 sail up, with a staysail as well. Then we switched to the A3 spinnaker, and later to our A2. The spinnakers are those large billowy (and photogenic) sails in the front of the boat. The various sails have different sizes and shapes to use for different wind angles and strengths.

Our A2 also sports the logo of our advocacy partner, HAEA … and we are very proud to fly it. It might seem ironic that we are flying it out here in the middle of the ocean, where only a few of us can see it. But when you think of how many people there are who have never heard of this rare genetic disease, perhaps it’s not so ironic after all. I mean, you can see the photo here, and we will fly the sail all the way to Hawaii in hopes that awareness will have grown by the time we reach Diamond Head.

HAEA - The US Hereditary Angioedema Association
http://www.haea.org/donate/race

Position-wise … because this is after all a race, it looks like we have moved from 3rd position in our division (#6) into a tie for 1st with Horizon … which is great … but there’s still a long way to go. That said, we’re feeling great and Bodacious IV is performing beautifully.

Leaderboard  - 7.15.13

So looking ahead … here are some pointers …

The easiest way to follow the race is via the Transpac Race Tracker – and if you have a tablet, download the “Yellowbrick” app … as the tracking works even easier with touch control. On the Leaderboard, Bodacious IV is part of “Division 6″ … competing against eight other 50′ and 52′ Santa Cruz racers! What a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for all of us!

Briefer but more regular updates can always be found on our Facebook Page.

Also, for our friends at Earthwatch Institute – we’ve been keeping an eye out for debris and wildlife. Not too much to report so far, except for the beautiful and wide-open blue waters of the Pacific as far as the eye can see.

We have approximately 1450 miles to go … so those of you following along on BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com and working out the math problems on the Explorer Guides, can do another calculation and take a guess at when we might arrive in Hawaii! Send us an email with your predictions.

Thanks to all for your support!

- Dave, reporting from Bodacious IV

* On the chance, that the subject of sailing + food interests you, here’s a Bodacious Dream Expeditions video of chef Pierce Johnson (along with Jonathan Pond) talking about food and nutrition at sea and during races … <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fuGlzt0MTw>

BD Atlantic Crossing/ Happy New Year from Antigua!

Happy New Year from Antigua!

I’ve been here now for a few days and have had some time to relax, sleep and enjoy the hospitality of this lovely island. It didn’t take long to make friends around here, and to connect with some old friends as well. By mid-afternoon after I’d arrived here, a dingy approached Bodacious Dream, and driving the dingy was one of the organizers of the Quebec-St. Malo race, in which we competed back in August. What fun it was to catch up … and how fortunate I was to have a personal tour guide around Antigua.

With it being the New Year’s holiday weekend, other friends from Quebec graciously invited me to join them for both the annual “Nelson’s Pursuit Race” – and for New Year’s Eve dinner as well. The 18-mile Pursuit Race is a fun one that they hold every New Year’s Eve here in Antigua. There is a handicap format to the race, with the slower boats being given a good head start, while the faster boats subsequently start at staggered times that match up to the handicap time allowances. This makes for great fun, as the fastest boats in the race, of which there were a few very large and very fast boats, have to try and catch up to the slower boats, and only get credit when they pass one of them. To top it all off, in honor of the Admiral Nelson’s pursuit of the French fleet in 1805, the slowest boat, called Old Bob, flies the French flag and fires a cannon at each boat that passes it. We had such a fine time on our boat, Ciao Bella. Many thanks for a great time to my friends from Quebec, Canada!

Ciao Bella out of Quebec
Ciao Bella down from Canada …

New Year’s Eve here was a grand spectacle at the Nelson Boat Yard, which is a National Park here in Antigua, much of it a restored fort and boat works from the early days of sailing ships. The actual midnight moment was celebrated with fireworks bursting from the cliffs over the harbor accompanied by a symphony of boat horns and revelers that continued long into the New Year.

But now, with some good rest under my belt, it’s time to head north through the Caribbean towards Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a 1400-mile long course from here to Charleston, but there are places to stop along the way, so I’ll probably break the trip into a few different segments. The first segment is likely to be a short hop to St. Thomas in the British Virgin Islands, then on towards the Turks and Caicos Islands, though I haven’t been able to find a marina there that can accommodate the 10’ draft (the lowest point) of Bodacious Dream – so that’s still a tentative stop. (If anyone knows the region, and has some advice to offer, I’d greatly appreciate any local knowledge!) From there, I’ll sail up through the Bahamas and possibly stop for a few days in West Palm Beach to visit our friends at the Rybovich Boat Yard – before continuing on to Charleston.

Some sweet trade winds sailing ...Some sweet trade winds sailing …

The weather looks favorable from here to the Bahamas. At that point, we begin to get into the zone where the cold North American currents mix with the tropical systems, and so weather forecasting becomes more unpredictable. So, my plan is to move up to West Palm Beach, and then to reassess the weather at that point, before heading farther north. With some luck and fair weather though, I’m hoping to arrive in Charleston by the 10th of January.

Tomorrow I’ll spend the morning gathering the last of my provisions, charts and other items – and pack the boat with the intent of heading out of the harbor about noon. I’ll try to keep you informed during my long nights on watch, as to any interesting things happening.

This trip will be a lot different than crossing the open ocean, as there will be a lot of navigation required around and past islands and reefs – but that will also provide me with interesting scenery at various waypoints along the route.

So, I want to thank you all so much for following along with this adventure. Once I got to shore, it was a great pleasure to catch up on the many notes that you all sent. I’m glad that you find the stories entertaining enough to provide a little diversion from the regular news of the day.

So, with that … it’s time for us to get ready – both to sail the final legs of this journey – and to make our way into a brand new year. 

From us out here in the warm tropical air, a wish to all of you, wherever in the world this finds you – a most happy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

BoDream News/ T-Minus 4 Days Til’ Departure!

I’m back in La Rochelle, France after a short holiday in London and Ireland. Had the great opportunity to meet up with the London Office of William Blair, and share some stories. Great folks there, and one fun story to share … a typical Rearick story!

The plan was to meet at HIX Restaurant in the SoHo district, and I arrived a bit late after a couple of twists and turns on the subway (called the “tube” in London.) I explained to the hostess that I was meeting a group for dinner and she, without any hesitation, pointed me to the room down the stairs. I walked down and into a room full of suits and ties, and figured I was in the right place. Though I didn’t recognize anyone, I heard talk in the background of financial market conditions, and so I relaxed, ordered a beer and began to circulate. After a few minutes of conversation with one group of guys … (of course, you can imagine I wasn’t really dressed the part) … I finally thought to ask if this was in fact, the William Blair party. After a good chuckle, we figured out I was at the wrong party, though curiously enough, this firm does business with William Blair – so all was good. I excused myself, thanked them for my beer and went in search of my party. When I arrived at the proper table, beer in hand, they all knew where I’d been, as they had watched me walk in and disappear down the stairs. Well, what good would a sailor be, if he couldn’t walk into a strange party, tell a good story and get a free beer?

In London, I got a chance to take in some of the high points, especially the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. What an interesting place to visit, complete with the famous Cutty Sark heself, outside “on the hard.” The Cutty Sark, a clipper ship of the tea trading days, which long held the speed record of 73 days for its outbound passage from London to Australia back in 1874.

Cutty Sark Clipper Ship 1874

From London, I took a train and then a ferry to Dublin and spent a couple of days drenching myself in Irish culture and music. Way too short a time to spend, but circumstances being what they are, it was all I had, and a bit was a whole lot better than none at all.

So, now I’m back in La Rochelle, where it’s still raining. Bodacious Dream has been drying out and being looked after by good friends Pat and Michelle of the Croix du Sud, who are also planning on competing in the Global Ocean Race as a double-handed team. I’ll be spending the next couple of days doing the last minute preparations necessary before leaving La Rochelle and France, and then sailing for home on Wednesday. Jobs will include provisioning, water, sorting and packing, weather routing and maintenance.

Fellow sailor with Bodacious Racing, John Hosking has been keeping track of the weather and providing routing guidance for the trip back. So far, it looks like a decent start to the trip, but after a week or so, it gets a bit confusing with a few lows building and moving into my desired path. As you may know, low pressure systems are typically the systems that bring stormy wind and rain. Finding a route between them that still sustains good winds is what we call routing. It will be interesting to see how the whole weather systems play out, as the typical Atlantic weather is somewhat mixed up at the moment. There is an old saying—“Sail south until the butter melts, and then head west with the tradewinds.”  The trade winds are steady winds that blow in consistent directions through the tropical zones. These winds blow from the East toward North America in this area of the Atlantic, and so provided good sailing for the old trading vessels like the Cutty Sark … hence the name Trade Winds!

Here’s what our computer routing programs look like to us.Navigation Routing Display

The black line is the course to the Azores, south west of France. The Red line is one route by the computer, the blue line another. They are determined by computer weather models. The various shades of color represent wind strengths … blues being lighter, greens to yellows being heavier. The wind strengths are represented by the “flag” type symbols. You can see that some have one “feather” on them, while others have one and a half or two. Each full feather is 10 knots of wind, a half is 5 knots.  So, a feather and a half is 15 knots, two feathers is 20 knots. If you think of it as the feather on the back of an arrow, that is the direction of the wind.

So, just a few more days here in France. This afternoon, since it’s Sunday and most of France takes Sundays off, I’m going to try to make some time to travel north to the seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne, where the Vendée Global Race is scheduled to begin on November 10th.

The Vendée Globe, begun in 1989, is the evolved version of the Golden Globe Race of 1968 when the first person, Robin Knox-Johnston, sailed his boat non-stop around the world in about 312 days. Nowadays, the race is filled with state-of-the-art, carbon fiber Open 60 sailing machines, each still manned by just one person, with the goal of racing around the world nonstop. The winners in this race typically take less than 90 days for the passage. The Vendée Globe, like the Global Ocean Race and the Velux 5 Oceans Race, are the premier solo world circumnavigation events.

There’s always a lot of discussion as to what would be harder … non-stop or stops in a circumnavigation. What would you think? Some say non-stop … some say stopping. With non-stop, once you build your lead, your strategy is just to stay ahead and not break anything. In the stopped version, you restart even at each port. Each leg then is a new race, and so you sail with a different strategy. Interesting question isn’t it? No doubt, 90 to 100 days, constantly racing your 60 foot boat is a great test of human endurance and fortitude. Check out progress on the Vendée Globe at www.vendeeglobe.org.

Well, enjoy your day. I’ll send out one more update before I depart on Wednesday. Then I’ll be relying again on my friends at Firm Solutions to help forward news of my passage to you through these newsletters, the BD website and Facebook. My plan is to send out news along the route through our onboard satellite communication system – hopefully!

- Dave