Dave’s 2013 Transpac Recap!

Following a few weeks of doing race preparations on Bodacious IV in San Diego, Capt. Tim Eades, Alan Veenstra and I sailed her up to Long Beach for the start of the 2013 Transpac Race. Along the way, BoIV developed a problem with her mast that nicely upended all our well thought-out plans and schedules for final race prep. But the mast repairs were made, and we were soon joined by the rest of the Bodacious Racing Team, which brought us to full strength prior to the start of the race, which began for us on July 11th at 1:00 pm, PDT!

Bodacious IV The whole Transpac had a total of 57 boats competing in three sections with staggered start times, which helps to consolidate the finish times in Hawaii by having the faster boats give the rest of the field a head start. The first start was on Monday, July 8th, and in that start was our friend and fellow Class 40 racer Hanna Jenner onboard Dorade, which is a very special boat, having won the Trans-Pac back in 1936! (I’ll give away the ending of this tale, by telling you that 78 years later, Dorade was once again declared the overall winner of the 2013 Transpac! – of such stories are legends made.)

For this race, we partnered with a wonderful organization called the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA.) They are great folks working hard to find a cure for all those affected by this rare but devastating disease. Our spinnaker carried their logo, as you can see, and in another give-away, I’ll tell you that by the end of the race, over $11,000 was raised … nice work Bodacious Dreamers!

Concurrent to the race, we also supported a Trans-Pacific Expedition discovery “module” here on BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com … this one naturally covered the Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian Islands. We had the usual overview, maps and study guides. Alas, once again, racing took up the lion’s share of my days and nights, limiting my time to explore as we did on our earlier Baja Peninsula Expedition.

Back to the Transpac … there were 9 boats in our division (Div 6.) Each of the vessels was similar to our own in that they are all 50 or 52 foot Santa Cruz racers, and each like us, carried a crew of nine.

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, Skipper Jeff Urbina, Tim Eades & Dave Rearick.

The first night, in quiet air, we were surrounded by the constant baying of seals … a haunting call in the dark of night. We also had a visit from some indeterminate species of mammal. It being dark, and most of us being from the Great Lakes, identifying it with any accuracy was difficult for us. Cool and overcast conditions prevailed all the way into 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” (the fixed compass position indicating the most direct route) to Hawaii.

Bodacious IVSunday arrived like a gift. We set our spinnaker and worked our way down the trade wind route to Hawaii, sailing between 14 and 20 knots. We saw our first flying fish Sunday, which told us the water was getting warmer … AND we had a squid fly up on deck as well, startling the sail-changing crew 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 remained high the whole trip, with lots of laughs and barbs zinging back and forth. And on top of that, we ate like kings, courtesy of Chef Pierce Johnson! Imagine Beef Bourguignon, Osso Buco, and other culinary delights in the middle of the Pacific!

Our patterns of activity followed closely to our four-hour watch system. And all the while we were attending to our duties, our navigator John Hoskins would be going over the numbers, courses, wind predictions and plot, and then working, reworking and playing out the routing software all to the end of getting us to the right place at the right time. Modern sailboat racing has increasingly become a hybrid mix that melds the very analog physical act of sailing the boat with the methods (and goals) of a digital video navigation game. But you know what? That only adds to the fun of it all!

Bodacious Hands-Free Sailing!

We had some Day #4 excitement when our tack line suddenly blew – instantly turning our giant spinnaker into an immense flapping 1850 square foot flag! We all jumped into action … dropping our gourmet lunches and scrambling to pull the spinnaker, rig a temporary tack line – and hoist in its place the heavier, stronger spinnaker. It took only about 10 minutes I suppose, before we were back up to speed and racing again. Such fire drills are not unusual in long distance races, and checking gear frequently is the best way of minimizing the damage and delay.

Pacific CurrentsDay #4 was also the day we began to spot debris ourselves: three fishing buoys, one large piece of plastic in a “T” shape, one large log about 15 feet long and a smaller narrow log about 8 feet long and 8 inches in diameter. There is much talk about marine debris, but there isn’t much that can be done about it short of preventing non-biodegrable trash from entering the oceans in the first place. Much of this debris we understood was from the tragic tsunami in Japan, but still it proved a worrisome thing for us to observe as we moved along.

Day #5 saw us learning more about the “squalls” of the Pacific. Squalls are small, localized rain showers that pop up and create stronger wind in front of them and to their left side. But if you make the mistake of getting behind them or to their right, they shut the winds down. We put some good moves on the first of last night’s squalls, and so found ourselves topping out at 20 knots of speed in 25 knots of wind. But as arrogance will always beat you back, just when we thought we were self-proclaimed experts at squall riding, we found ourselves languishing in the next one. So it is, we keep on learning! Every new part of the ocean you visit, it’s Sailing 101 all over again.

Gang of fourCapt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Christer Still, Jeff Urbina …

As we sailed, we’d take our watches with four hours on and four hours off. When you are on, you rotate through the jobs of sailing the boat, steering, trimming the sails, grinding the big winch and monitoring navigation. When you change, it might be your turn to clean dishes, cook, check equipment, take care of personal hygiene or even get a couple of hours of sleep! And then, you start over again. It’s a routine, for sure, but time slips by quickly too.

The one thing that interrupts the routine is the call from the navigator to “GYBE!” This call sets in motion a number of things … first, the four crew on deck each take to a familiar job … one drives, one will be on the release of the spinnaker sheet (rope that trims,) another will be on the take up sheet (other side of the boat rope that trims) while the fourth will grind the big “coffee grinder” winch.

The Coffee Grinder
The gang gathered around John Ayres at the Daily Grind

Want to try one? … Everyone in place? Ok, here we go! We’re GYBING! The driver turns the boat, the release lets the line go in a timed controlled flow, the trimmer takes up the new line as it comes around and the grinder turns the handles with all the energy he has, to help pull in the new line, at which point, that 1850 square foot monster spinnaker collapses, flutters and then floats around the front of the boat and shifts over to the OTHER side of the boat where it puffs right up again. And all the while, we are wishing we had a fifth set of hands to help with the other lines and such that get pulled and trimmed as necessary. When done right, a gybe is a beautiful maneuver. When done wrong, it’s a bit of a hot mess. We probably repeated this same ritual of actions 50 to 60 times between California and Hawaii!

On Day #7, the Transpac’s Daily Newsletter “leaked” a story about what we were up to out here strategy-wise in our Division …

“Division 6 is going to be a high-stakes gamble: Jeff Urbina’s Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious IV seems to want to avoid his competitors, steadfastly staying to the south of everyone, perhaps in search of more wind in the dying breeze starting to creep across the course. In contrast, the current corrected time leader and past class winner, Jack Taylor’s Santa Cruz 50 Horizon, is content to work the shifts near the rhumb line and keep covering the rest of the class. We’ll see in the next day or two whether the Bodacious gamble will pay off as they all head more deeply into the Hawaiian trade winds ahead, with the finish being about 900 miles away.”

Jim McLaren changing the blocks ...Jim McLaren, changing the blocks for the staysail trim … w/ HAEA on the boom …

Ah, what fun! We were all feeling pretty confident about the strategy over which our esteemed navigator John Hoskins was the primary architect.

Transpac Positions _ 7.19.13

You can see in the tracker screen shot above, how we worked our way south of the pack of our competitors in order to catch up with this better wind and more angled direction into Hawaii. So, while it may have looked a little odd to have taken such a different course, there was a plan at work there. But as we saw it at the time, we were “all in!” Our bet was made … and the run to the finish was underway!

Skipper Jeff UrbinaSkipper Jeff Urbina at the helm …

Saturday (Day #9) was another day of fast downwind sailing! What incredible fun we were having … though at times I couldn’t help but recall my Dad saying, “Too much of a good thing isn’t such a good thing.” Hopefully, Dad wasn’t referring to open-ocean sailing when he said that!

The water grew steadily warmer the farther south and west towards Hawaii we went. In the change of temperature, we saw a lot more flying fish, and a lot less seaweed and kelp of the sort that you find close to the California coast. Saturday, we started to see some birds too. Imagine if you were an ancient navigator – no GPS, no cell phones, no computers and even a sextant or compass. As the water temperature warmed and the flying fish became more ubiquitous, you would take them as cues for your navigation.

Mast Displays

While it’s fun to dream of being an ancient navigator, we are who we are … and modern navigators and sailors use electronic instruments to help us navigate and sail our boats. On our mast we have three big displays that you can see from the cockpit. They show us the boat speed (we call that the “fun meter!”) Presently, our top speed has been 21.4 knots … set Saturday night! Under the boat speed display, you can see our compass heading and below that, our wind speed. These are all important readings that help us stay fast and on course.

First Sighting of Maui
First Sighting of Maui

Day #11 arrived and found us in Hawaiian waters with 100 miles to go. We were at that point, into the final hours of the race! We sighted Maui in a distant haze about 4:30 PM Sunday. We continued to add miles to our lead, as our Division 6 cohorts also began to converge on Oahu. At that point, we could see that our “southern strategy” had worked, as the leaderboard had us back in the lead.

During those last 100 miles, just after Midnight (Hawaii Time) – we were caught by a stalking “squall” which zapped us with a 30 degree change in wind direction and kicked the wind speeds from 16 to 25 knots, while at the same time managing to spit a few buckets of rain on us – which threw our groggy crew into “sail or fail” mode! Fast action by Matt Scharl at the helm and by all hands, none of whom were able to sleep through the excitement, kept the boat on her feet and scooting on through the Molokai Channel on the course for Oahu, and Honolulu.

Matt, Tim and Jim ...
Matt, Tim and Jim … in the islands … on our last day at sea.

Once across the 25-mile wide channel, we sailed down the coast of Oahu, much of it glittering with the lights of civilization, following the veins of the ancient lava flows of the island’s origination.

As we cleared Makapu’u Point still in the middle of the night, light from the bright full moon silhouetted majestic Diamond Head, causing us to focus our final moments of racing on the red flashing light that signaled the finish line of the 2250 mile long adventure. Moments after crossing the indicated finish line, our finish was officially confirmed by the race committee – the first boat in our Division (#6) to the finish!

Bodacious IV at the Finish
The Crew of Bodacious IV at the Finish (Photo courtesy of the Transpac)

Even at the hour of 5AM, a rousing reception awaited us at the docks of the Hawaii Yacht Club, as we rolled into harbor and into the traditional and festive welcoming party for finishing boats, which made our arrival in the early, pre-dawn light such a delight for the brined and blurry gang of Bo IV. Leis were placed on all crewmembers and even one on the bow of our beloved Bodacious IV as well. I expect this tradition also serves as a ploy to displace the seasoned smell of 9 men after 11 days of sailing in the confines of small boat crossing the huge Pacific Ocean!

Now as far as the actual scoring for the race goes, the way the Transpac works (and other longer races too) is that boats – even boats of similar length and design, have certain distinctions between them in terms of mast height, keel configuration, etc. and so a handicapping method is used so that once the boats finish, times are corrected to account for those handicaps and from that, final positions are determined. So it was, that while we were the first through the “barn door,” our final placement in our division was third behind Horizon and Medusa.

The week that followed Bodacious IV crossing the finish line in the early morning hours of Monday, July 22nd … some 10 days, 18 hours and a few minutes from when we started on July 11th in Long Beach, CA, was one full of fun and festivities.

Bodacious IV in Hawaii
Bodacious IV in Honolulu w/ a lei on her bow.

In addition to being graciously hosted to a reception by our friends at HAEA for all our efforts, we also celebrated our great finish with good friends and attended the Transpac awards ceremony, (where we all got to get up and accept our trophy) and we even found some time to relax in the sunshine, eat some ice cream and carry on as tourists!

By Friday, the aloha spirit took a little dip, as our friends and crewmembers individually began to fly back home to families and jobs, leaving Captain Eades and myself to the task of disassembling Bodacious IV in preparation for her trip by freighter back to the U.S. mainland and then across the U.S. to Newport, Rhode Island.

Bodacious Dream ExpeditionsNow that the Transpac is over, our focus shifts to our Single Handed Global Bodacious Dream Expedition aboard Bodacious Dream! Our plan is to leave Newport, Rhode Island on October 1st and to return some eight to nine months later to the very same slip … but with some very tall, wide and wet tales to tell, that we will also be telling all along the way, thanks to our satellite Internet connection!

We’ll begin sending along regular updates here very soon as we move closer to our departure date. We’ll start off with our anticipated itinerary, and hope that it and all that follows will get you as excited about following along as I am about making the trip.

So, until then, you can view more videos from the Transpac Race on our YouTube Channel, catch up with our photos on Facebook and track our blogs post on both BodaciousDream.com and BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com websites.

For now, thanks again for following along with us on this incredible journey!

- Dave and the Bodacious IV Racing Team
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Transpac Update – Post-Race Festivities

Well, it’s been quite a week here in Hawaii, since Bodacious IV crossed the finish line in the early morning hours of last Monday, some 10 days, 18 hours and a few minutes from when we started on July 11th in Long Beach, CA.

Bodacious IV in Hawaii
Bodacious IV in Honolulu w/ a lei on her bow.

This past week, in addition to being graciously hosted to a reception by our friends at HAEA (US Hereditary Angioedema Association) for all our efforts, we also celebrated our great finish with good friends, attended the Transpac awards ceremony, began the breakdown of Bodacious IV for transport back to the mainland and on top of all that, we even found some time to relax in the sunshine, eat some ice cream and carry on as tourists!

On Tuesday evening, we gathered at the Hawaii Yacht Club with our friends at HAEA and shared with them our stories. I was truly surprised and honored when I heard what great support all of you Bodacious Friends gave to HAEA. In the past few weeks since we formed this advocacy partnership with them, you contributed over $11,000 dollars to support their great programs. That is a beautiful thing, and I am so grateful for your acceptance of our efforts and of your generous financial contributions.

HAEA Reception in Hawaii
HAEA reception at Hawaii Yacht Club. 

The unique aspect of Hereditary Angioedema is how rare it is. What this means though is that many doctors and hospitals are not even aware of its existence. Just imagine being in an emergency room, not knowing what has happened to you, and being attended to by doctors and nurses that mean well, but just don’t know the first thing about your condition. I learned that this happens often, and that one of the things HAEA does is to be on-call for those doctors and patients to effect the proper treatment. Hooray to all of you for helping to support these amazing folks!

On Thursday evening, we attended the Awards Ceremony for the 2013 Transpac, where our whole Bo IV crew was up on stage to receive our award for third place in Division 6. It was a great moment with a lot of cameras flashing! And just as remarkable and historic, was the moment that Dorade, a beautifully restored wooden yacht built in 1930, was awarded its first place over-all finish award for this year’s Transpac! Dorade competed and won this very same race in 1936, when she was a brand new boat on the yachting scene. Sailing onboard Dorade was our good friend and fellow Class 40 competitor, Hanna Jenner. Hanna and fellow Class 40 sailor Rob Windsor will be sailing as Royal Racing onboard 40 Degrees this summer doing three major races in Europe! Keep an eye out for them.

Bodacious Hands-Free Sailing!

The aloha spirit took a little dip on Friday, as our friends and crewmembers individually began to fly back home to families and jobs, leaving Captain Tim Eades and myself to the task of disassembling Bodacious IV in preparation for her trip by freighter back to the U.S. mainland and then across the U.S. to Newport, Rhode Island.

The process of disassembly of the boat begins with the pulling off of miscellaneous halyards and sheets (lines or ropes), taking off the boom (the long horizontal piece at the bottom of the main sail), disconnecting lots of wiring for instruments and hydraulic hoses that control the sails, and preparing the mast for unstepping (lifting out of the boat.) 

Today Monday, just ahead of a serious tropical storm that is approaching and threatening Hawaii with severe weather, we will take Bodacious IV up to the boat yard where she will be hauled (lifted) out of the water, the mast unstepped, the keel removed (unbolted and dropped), the rudder removed (disassembled and dropped out) and then placed in her cradle on a truck trailer for transport. Once in the cradle, Tim and I will spend the rest of the week padding, packing, tying down, putting away and doing inventory of equipment so Bodacious IV is ready for the 7 day trip across the Pacific, after which there will be another week-long trip across the country to Newport.

The Boom and the Cloud
Aloha Hawaii …

Once Bodacious IV is secured, I too will head back to the states with a stop in California before I head onto Newport myself to begin preparations on Bodacious Dream for the upcoming departure right around October 1st of our Bodacious Dream Expedition Solo Circumnavigation!

Now that the Transpac is over, and our focus shifts to the Global Expedition, we’ll be sending along regular updates as we move closer to our departure date. We’ll start off with our anticipated itinerary, and hope that it and all that follows will get you as excited about following along as I am about making the trip. So, until then, you can view more videos from the Transpac Race on our YouTube Channel, catch up with our photos on Facebook and catch up on our blogs post on both BodaciousDream.com and BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com websites, though all our links are at the bottom of every email.

For now, thanks again!

- Dave and the Bodacious IV Racing Team
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Our Awesome Ride to the Finish!

When last we spoke, Bodacious IV was 100 miles from the finish of the Tranpac, proceeding along the north coast of Maui and through the Hawaiian Islands towards Oahu. Sailing along at 10 to 12 knots, after so many days, turns things a little less exciting and more mundane as the miles pass and your senses become accustomed to the speed – that is, until nature decides to throw something unexpected in your path.

Matt, Tim and Jim ...
Matt, Tim and Jim … in the islands … on our last day at sea.

So it was during our last 100 miles. Just after Midnight (Hawaii Time) – we were caught by a stalking “squall” which zapped us with a 30 degree change in wind direction and kicked the wind speeds from 16 to 25 knots, while at the same time managing to spit a few buckets of rain on us – which threw our groggy crew into “sail or fail” mode! Fast action by Matt Scharl at the helm and by all hands, none of whom were able to sleep through the excitement, kept the boat on her feet and scooting on through the Molokai Channel on the course for Oahu, and Honolulu.

During those squally conditions, we sailed 17 miles in 80 minutes … and that was “as the crow flies.” So, actually it was probably more like 20 miles in 80 minutes if you figure in the gybes, which add in extra zig-zag miles. That’s some good fun sailing to say the least, but it also takes a pretty strong and alert crew to take full advantage of all that extra wind speed. As the squall moved on, once more indifferent to us, we settled into a more relaxed sail to the finish. The Molokai Channel, for us post-squall, didn’t quite live up to its reputation for accelerated winds and large surfing seas.

Once across the 25-mile wide channel, we sailed down the coast of Oahu, much of it glittering with the lights of civilization. These shimmering strands provided an interesting perspective from the sea — the lights of the streets and buildings coursing along the veins of the ancient lava flows of the island’s origination, highlighting the major formations as if they were solidified lava flows.

As we cleared Makapu’u Point still in the middle of the night, light from the bright full moon silhouetted majestic Diamond Head, causing us to focus our final moments of racing on the red flashing light that signaled the finish line of the 2250 mile long Transpac Race. Moments after crossing the indicated finish line, our finish was officially confirmed by the race committee – the first boat in our Division (#6) to the finish!

Bodacious IV at the Finish
The Crew of Bodacious IV at the Finish (Photo courtesy of the Transpac)

Even at the hour of 5AM, a rousing reception awaited us at the docks of the Hawaii Yacht Club, as we rolled into harbor and into the traditional and festive welcoming party for finishing boats. This made our arrival in the early, pre-dawn light such a delight for the brined and blurry gang of Bo IV. Leis were placed on all crewmembers and even one on the bow of our beloved Bodacious IV as well. Obviously, this tradition also serves as a ploy to displace the seasoned smell of 9 men after 11 days of sailing in the confines of small boat crossing the huge Pacific Ocean!

Now as far as the actual scoring for the race goes, the way the Transpac works (and other races too) is that boats – even boats of similar length and design, have certain distinctions between them in terms of mast height, keel configuration, etc. and so a handicapping method is used so that once the boats finish, times are corrected to account for those handicaps and from that, final positions are determined. So it is, that while we were the first through the “barn door,” our final placement in our division was third behind Horizon and Medusa.

Div 6 Final Standings
Division 6 “Corrected” Standings

So, after some thick as concrete slumber, it’s time to clean up Bodacious IV; wash the salt from the equipment, dry out the sails, pack away the equipment and prepare her for a reception in honor our friends at HAEA (the US Hereditary Angioedema Association).

HAEA

As I expect you all know by now, we’ve been sailing this race to bring awareness to this devastating disease. I’ve learned a lot about it in the process, and as I hear more about the effects that attend to someone missing vital blood protein and how quickly it can take away the very breath of life, I am honored to share a part of my lucky life to help bring some awareness to the goals of the HAEA. In fact, this afternoon, we will be sporting our HAEA insignias and hosting them all for a party at the Hawaii Yacht Club.

Beyond that, VIDEOS and more PHOTOS of the sailing and the crew will be coming here and to our YouTube channel here very soon.

I’ll also do my best to get you updates on the various celebrations going on here this week in Hawaii. Least you think that it’s all party time now, Captain Tim Eades and I will be spending the next week or so disassembling Bodacious IV, and packing her up for ocean shipment back to the US mainland and then across land to Newport, RI where she will await her next races. Hawaii though … not a bad place to have to work on a boat!

Until later … many thanks to all of you for your support!

- The most grateful crew of Bodacious IV
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Transpac Update – Back in the Lead on Day #9!

Saturday was another day of fast downwind sailing! What incredible fun we are having … though at times I can’t help recalling my Dad saying, “Too much of a good thing isn’t such a good thing.” Hopefully, Dad wasn’t referring to open-ocean sailing when he said that!

We’ve been on this latest gybe all day now and we keep a constant vigil on the tracker to see how we are converging with Horizon, which is north of us and still slightly ahead. Perhaps, by the time you read this, that will have changed! It seems to us at least, that with each passing hour, we catch up a little bit more … but it will still be right down to the wire as we approach the Hawaiian Islands, where the Moloka’i Channel winds may whip up peaks of powerful waves. We are also heading now into a large area of lighter winds around the islands. This is where the race may very well be won or lost.

chris, christer and tim Chris Pike, Crister Still and Tim Eades

Reflecting a moment on this great expanse of water, a few thoughts for you expeditionary-minded followers. The Pacific Ocean makes up 46% of the water on the earth, and its total mass is near equal to all the Earth’s land masses put together. That’s a LOT of water obviously, but out here, you can feel that immensity all around you and at all times. We haven’t seen a speck of land, since we lost sight of California. I think I said once, that a six-foot tall person standing on deck, can see approximately six miles before the curve of the earth falls away. If you view it from all sides of the boat, we can see in circles of about twelve miles in diameter … and we’ve sailed now about 2000 miles inside that small moving circle of perception. This means that so far, we’ve seen about 24,000 square miles of water! What we’re rolling on top of here is big BIG! If you were to look at an ordinary student globe, that much water stretched the length of the Transpac route would be about the width of a string!

Waterline
Take me down to the Waterline

The water has grown steadily warmer the farther south and west towards Hawaii we go. In the change of temperature, we’ve seen a lot more flying fish, and a lot less seaweed and kelp of the sort that you find close to the California coast. Just today, we started to see some birds too. Imagine if you were an ancient navigator – no GPS, no cell phones, no computers and even a sextant or compass. As the water temperature warmed and the flying fish became more ubiquitous, you would take them as cues for your navigation. I also find myself looking out and imagining I’m one of those ancient navigators who has none of our modern instruments, and who is forced to ask how this voyage compared to any I had been on previously, or to accounts that might have been given to me by others who had sailed these same waters before me. I also look at these seas, at the sky and across the water, and compare it in my senses and memory to the Atlantic Ocean that I crossed in Bodacious Dream back at the end of 2012.

Mast Displays
Though it’s fun to dream of being an ancient navigator, we are who we are … and modern navigators and sailors use electronic instruments to help us navigate and sail our boats. On our mast we have three big displays that you can see from the cockpit. They show us the boat speed (we call that the “fun meter!”) Presently, our top speed has been 21.4 knots … set last night! Under boat speed, you can see our compass heading and below that, our wind speed. These are all important readings that help us stay fast and on course.

cockpit displays

We have six other instrument displays in the cockpit that show us other information that the navigator sends up to us, and that we consult in the course of our sailing. It’s really pretty amazing all the technology that we are using at the moment to get the absolute peak of performance out of this incredible boat.

It’s been comforting not to see much debris the past few days, but that just means we are moving farther west and south of the big Pacific gyres of debris. We do keep a lookout every day just to add to the data we share with the scientists at Earthwatch, who are part of a growing alliance of scientists and concerned citizens who are seeking better ways to preserve and protect the Earth’s oceans.

A view from the fridge ...Meal Plan complete, the “improv” phase begins …

While sailing well is our primary goal here, there are always maintenance chores that have to happen each day as well. We must manage and prepare our meals, take care of personal hygiene, check steering cables for wear and tear (just like checking the tires on your car.) We must also check the boat for any worn equipment and frayed lines. We “roll” our halyards and lines … meaning we tighten or loosen them regularly so they don’t rub or wear too much in the same place, which might lead to breakage. We had one line part earlier in the trip. Today we had to repair a large tear in our spinnaker with some special cloth tape that is made just for that job, and tonight, we found a short in the electrical system and had to rewire that. All is well though, but these are just some of the many things that need to be tended to daily, to keep a floating enterprise of nine people intact and safe for the duration of a long race such as this.

Well, that’s enough to consider for one sailor’s log, not to mention the fact that we are less than 250 miles from Honolulu and by the time you read this, we will be in our last 24 hours of sailing. Checking again this morning, the Race Tracker leaderboard (copied below) looks to have tipped back in our favor (yay!) … so, while we are not home yet, it indicates that the strategy decision of the past few days seems to be working out pretty well. So, ready or not Div 6 … we are b-aaack!!

Also, be sure to keep a lookout for our HAEA-logoed spinnaker as we approach Diamond Head and the Transpac finish line.

Transpac Leaderboard
Div 6 … Bo IV up top again … July 21, 7AM …

So, that’s it … until later … thank you again for all your great support!

- Dave & the new ancient mariners of Bodacious IV!
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

COORDINATES: +20.18681, -152.05674
SOG (Speed over Ground): 12 Knot Avg.
COG (Course over Ground): 270 Degrees

Transpac Update – Navigating Gambles on Day #7

Greetings from the middle of the bodaciously blue Pacific!

We’re coming to the end of Thursday’s daylight, sunset is an hour away, the winds have set us up nicely and we have been moving very fast all day. Wind speeds have been in the high-teens and boat speeds surf up to 18 knots from time to time … this is surely the experience that brought us here! We’ve got about 775 miles “as the crow flies” to Honolulu, but realistically, a hundred or so more given the gybes that will likely be necessary along the way.

We’ve heard from some people that they don’t quite see or understand all the interesting strategy and navigation that is going on over here, and so they wonder why we are so far away from the rest of the boats in our section. Well, as I said in a previous update, sailboat racing is a meld of both the efficient physical operation of the vessel and the effective mental cognition required for navigation. Navigation is a very large part of the game being played here; just like strategy is in chess.

John Hoskins NavigatorNavigator John Hoskins w/ computers, plotters & charts taped to the table top.

John Hoskins is our navigator/tactician. John’s been racing with us at Bodacious Racing from our beginnings 6 years ago now, and is a highly experienced solo and crew racer on the Great Lakes. John’s primary job onboard BoIV involves balancing three elemental variables and so calculating our best course on an ever-changing game board of possiblities. The three variables are … 1) the weather, 2) the navigation from start to finish and 3) positioning and strategizing our moves when compared to our competitors.

So, while the other eight of us spend our time trimming sails, driving, grinding, changing sails and other jobs that keep the boat moving as fast as it can, John spends his time each day analyzing weather reports, speed reports, position reports and route data – all of this so we can find ourselves at the right spot at the right time and on the right course to have the best angles to the wind and seas, so that we can sail the course faster than our competitors! “Badda bing, badda boom!”

John Ayres
Crew Member John Ayres trimming the spinnaker at sunrise …

This race in particular is rather tricky as the typical course to Hawaii drops down into the trade winds, and then involves a gybe into Hawaii. This year, there is an interesting phenomenon called an “inverted trough” that is is happening a bit south of the rhumb line to Hawaii, but which we feel can provide us better wind from a better direction. And so, that right there is where the “game” has taken us.

Transpac Positions _ 7.19.13

You can see in the tracker screen shot above, how we’ve worked our way south of the pack of our competitors in order to catch up with this better wind and more angled direction into Hawaii. So, while it may look a little odd that we have taken such a different course, there IS a plan at work here. As we’ve been saying today, we’re “all in!” Our bet has been made … and now it’s a run to the finish! If the inverted trough stays with us and the winds lean our way, we’ll make up some time. If other unplanned variables come into play … and there are ALWAYS unplanned variables when dealing with the wind and weather, then it could very well go a different way. For now though, we’re all jazzed here and betting heavily on John’s experience and talent.

Skipper Jeff UrbinaSkipper Jeff Urbina at the helm …

On other daily notes, we haven’t seen too much debris today, but have seen an increasing abundance of flying fish that continue to amaze us as they zip over the waves changing direction quickly, perhaps avoiding predator fish below the surface. Late this afternoon, we also saw a feeding frenzy of tuna and dolphins. The tunas were pretty good size … maybe 60-80 pounders … jumping right out of the water and fully into the air, with the dolphins doing the same thing. We couldn’t tell just what was going on down below the surface, but what an amazing site to see tuna flying through the air like that!

And yes, we’re still eating well, and we have what I have calculated to be a sturdy enough supply of cookies to get us to Hawaii!

We’re hoping for a Honolulu arrival sometime on Monday … and with a bit of luck from the wind and waves, hopefully a good strong finishing position … but regardless of where and when we finish, this has been some just EXQUISITE sailing, and we are all very grateful to have been part of this wonderful race.

HAEAWe also want to thank all of you who have contributed to our advocacy partner HAEA‘s fundraising drive. If you haven’t done that yet, please check out the good work they are doing here, and consider making a contribution.

And thank you all once again for following along with our adventures!

- The Rambling & Gambling Crew of Bodacious IV
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins (navigator), Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Coordinates: +21.37643, -143.51989
SOG (speed over ground) – 11-14 knots
COG (course over ground) – 274 degrees

Transpac Update – A Sweet Day #6

So, it’s late night Wednesday, as we are still on California time, but we’ve obviously traversed far enough west now that we should be in another time zone … as it’s clear the ritual panoramas of sunrise and sunset have changed during our fixed four hour on and off watches. A few hours ago, we crossed the 1000 miles left to Hawaii threshold. Now you might not have seen that on the Race Tracker at the same time as we did, because they installed a 6-hour delay on the tracker to keep competitors from knowing too much too soon about each other’s strategies. Of course, if any of them are near enough for you to see, who needs the tracker, right? This kind of delay is fairly typical of many longer racing events.

Jim McLaren changing the blocks ...Jim McLaren, changing the blocks for the staysail trim … w/ HAEA on the boom …

Last night, in the Transpac’s Daily Newsletter, they “leaked” a story about what we’re up to out here strategy-wise in our Division …

“Division 6 is going to be a high-stakes gamble: Jeff Urbina’s Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious IV seems to want to avoid his competitors, steadfastly staying to the south of everyone, perhaps in search of more wind in the dying breeze starting to creep across the course. In contrast, the current corrected time leader and past class winner, Jack Taylor’s Santa Cruz 50 Horizon, is content to work the shifts near the rhumb line and keep covering the rest of the class. We’ll see in the next day or two whether the Bodacious gamble will pay off as they all head more deeply into the Hawaiian trade winds ahead, with the finish being about 900 miles away.”

Ah, what fun! Who knows if our strategy will work or not. After all … we ARE partnering here with the sea and the winds and the weather … so it’s still anybody’s game!

Bodacious Strategy Time
Jeff Urbina, John Hoskins and Christer Still review strategies …

I hesitate to use the word “routine” to describe today … because nothing about standing “out here”, sailing “on this” and sharing this experience with “who’s here” suits that word … but nevertheless, today was not all that different from yesterday. The big difference today involved changes in both mileage and the weather. The winds have steadied some and the skies have cleared, so we are at the moment sailing under perfectly clear skies with a beautiful moon and sparkling cover of stars overhead. This is what we came for … amazing trade wind sailing … a most beautiful experience. And, along with this … is the glowing magic of phosphorescent plankton, which looks like streams of fireflies trailing out from alongside the boat in the wake of our path. I wish there was some way for me to show you this, to capture in a photo what I’m seeing right now … as I’m sure you’d fall under the spell of the magical sea much as all of us here have.

Time off ... Chris Pike .. Seahorse Magazine
Time off … Chris Pike reading Seahorse Magazine

As far as the trash report goes, while on the one hand, we’ve seen fewer logs and big debris floating by in the last few days, sadly on the other hand; we’ve seen more small plastic articles, styrofoam and floats. While we sail out here far from land in the middle of the vastness, there is still no escape from these reminders of man’s influence on even the world’s wildest environments.

So, to sum ‘er up … today we had a special sail and enjoyed taking part in the interesting and exciting strategies playing out on the race course. We’re excited to be moving along quickly towards the amazing islands of Hawaii and though we’ll sail fast towards them, I am sure as we get closer, we’ll be wanting to drag our feet just a little to slow life down so that we can stay just a little bit longer in this magical bubble.

- The Starstruck Crew of Bodacious IV
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Coordinates: +23.20997, -140.45404
SOG: 12.4
COG: 223
Wind Speed: 19 knots

Transpac Update/ A Memorable Day #4!

Did I already say we are in thick of it NOW? Because we still are! Spinnaker’s up, surfing and sailing along our desired tactical course to Hawaii. Every hour or so we go over the numbers, courses, wind predictions and plot. We then work, rework and play out the routing software hoping we will find ourselves in the right place at the right time. Sailboat racing has increasingly become a hybrid mix that melds the very analog physical act of sailing the boat with the goals of a digital video navigation game. But you know what? That only adds to the fun of it all!

So far today (Monday), we’ve touched speeds in excess of 19 knots (!) – with a 12 knot average, and we’ve clicked off in excess of 270 miles! We have now less than 1250 miles to go, but as we’ve described in past updates, we can’t always sail the course as the seagull flies, and so will inevitably have to gybe several times to get to where we’re going, which may extend our total distance by as much as another 100 miles. Minimizing this extra distance by sailing the rightest and tightest course is all part of a winning strategy of sailing less distance as fast as you can versus your competitors who are trying just as hard as you are to do the very same thing! Too much fun that as well!

Chris Pike and the HAEA logoChris Pike at the helm w/ the HAEA logo on the boom!

We had some big excitement today. As we were sailing along under the spinnaker and “negotiating” among ourselves on whether or not to change to a stronger spinnaker in the heavier winds, or to keep up the faster spinnaker and risk blowing it out … all of a sudden – BANG!! … our tack line parted! The tack line is the rope that holds one corner of the spinnaker to the tip of the bowsprit at the pointed bow of the boat. As soon as that line blew, that flapping spinnaker turned into the biggest damn flag in the world!

We all jumped into action … dropping our gourmet lunches and scrambling to pull the spinnaker, rig a temporary tack line – and hoist in its place the heavier, stronger spinnaker. It took only about 10 minutes I suppose, but soon enough, we were back up to speed and racing pretty quickly. We then spent some time putting a plan together to make a proper repair, which required someone going out to the very end of the bowsprit to make a quick attachment of a block and re-rig a new, stronger tack line … all the while Bo IV kept sailing along at 12 knots! With the help of a climbing harness attached to a halyard, one of our guys worked his way to the tip of the sprit, made the repair and returned successfully. We won’t worry anyone’s family or friends by saying just who that person was. … All is fine in the life of a sailor! Peace and calm the whole day long!

Solo Ship ...

Since that incident, we’ve been flying along all day today with no issues, although we did have to make frequent adjustments to the tack line and halyards, so as to spread the wear points out across more sections of the lines.

The other less exciting news, and a bit more worrisome as well, was the appearance today of marine debris. We saw notifications of debris locations from other competitors, and started plotting those locations. (In fact, we heard that the speedy trimaran Lending Club ran into a telephone pole … but come to think of it, it was the telephone pole that ran into Lending Club, wasn’t it?)

So it was today that suddenly and out of nowhere, we spotted debris ourselves. Today’s tally: three fishing buoys, one large piece of plastic in a “T” shape, one large log about 15 feet long and one smaller narrow log about 8 feet long and 8 inches in diameter. There is much talk about marine debris, and there isn’t much that can be done about it other than doing our best as humans to prevent trash from entering the oceans in the first place. Much of this debris we understand is from the tragic tsunami in Japan, but it is still a worrisome thing for us as we move along. The good news is that for the moment, we are for now out of the identified debris field.

Pacific Currents

At the same time, as you can see in the image above … (and which is explained in more depth in our Bodacious Dream Expedition “Knowledge” Explorer Guide,) we are now fully in the strong North Equatorial currents that will take us deeper into the “convergence zone,” where we will likely see more of the debris that circulates in these now-infamous Pacific “gyres.”

Race-wise, as far as our position in the “Div 6” standings goes, we are still maintaining a slight lead … but the swift Horizon is always right on our tail. According to the Transpac Race Tracker … here’s the current leaderboard.

Leaderboard _ 7.16.13

So, as I write this, night is falling on Bodacious IV out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean … oh, right about here …

Google Earth Marker - 7.16.13

… where we hope for clearer skies soon and some of those pretty twinkling stars to steer by!

- The Crew of Bodacious IV (Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins, Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.)

Our Day #4 Deets:
Coordinates: +27.35445, -134.40693
Boat speed: fast, fast, fast … 12-14 knots with surges up to 16 & 17 knots
Course over the ground: 258 degrees
Dinner tonight: Ousso Buco (Man, we are well fed! AND we still have plenty of cookies!)

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 News/ On the Eve of the Transpac!

Bodacious IV It’s been a busy week here in Long Beach, California! The harbor has been abuzz with boats and sailors, spectators and press as we complete our preparations for Bodacious IV to compete in the 107-year old Transpac Race!

We arrived in Long Beach after having developed a problem with the mast during the trip from San Diego, which upended all our well thought-out plans and schedules. After consulting with engineers and technicians, repairs were completed this past Sunday, and since then, we’ve been working to catch up and get back on schedule.

Yesterday, Captain Tim Eades and I were joined by the rest of the Bodacious Racing Team, and we are now at full strength going into the final stretch. The proverbial “list” is now close to manageable, we’ll get in a practice sail today and be ready to rock it come our start tomorrow Thursday at 1:00 pm, PDT!

Boats in Long Beach
Bretwayda, Bodacious IV, Lending Club & The Queen Mary!

There’s an amazing group of competitors and vessels around us here, and we’re expecting some very close racing right up to the finish line. The whole race has a total of 57 boats competing in three sections with staggered start times. This is to help consolidate the finish times in Hawaii by having the faster boats give the rest of the field a head start. The first start was on Monday, and in that start was our friend and fellow Class 40 racer Hanna Jenner onboard Dorade, which is a very special boat, having won the Trans-Pac back in 1936! Another fellow Class 40 competitor, Ryan Breymeier, will be competing in the large trimaran, Lending Club. They have been upgrading their onboard systems in an attempt to set a new multi-hull record time for covering the Transpac course in less than 5 days! We’ll see how they do. We’ll also be keeping a close eye on an old friend, Phil Pollard, who is sailing on Bretwalda 3.

Bodacious Dream ExpeditionsConcurrent to the race, we have also uploaded a Trans-Pacific Expedition discovery “module” onto our learning website, BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com … this one naturally covers the Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian Islands.
Here we give you background and study guides to help you share with the kids in your world, what’s going on around our daily updates as we venture across the largest ocean on the planet, the Pacific Ocean.

In the “print-ready” Explorer Guides, you can have some fun working out the math problems and reviewing the general knowledge questions. It’s an utterly amazing part of the world we will be voyaging through, so come along and learn about it with us … in real-time!

AC Education Day in NYC
Matt and Dave field some tough questions from the inquisitors in NYC …

Speaking of sharing our experience with a younger generation; this is at the heart of what we do as sailors and humans. On this note, the good folks at the Atlantic Cup and 11th Hour Racing were kind enough to ask me to write a piece for them on the two “Education Days” we had in-between Atlantic Cup race legs. On those two days, several of us skippers had a chance to hang out and share our experiences with groups of city school kids. It was a very special experience. My post is titled, “If I knew then, what I know now …” and you can read it right HERE!

The folks at the Transpac have also done a good job enhancing the online experience for you, as well. Here are some of the various ways you can follow the action.

Transpac 2013• The Transpac Website is here
http://transpacyc.com/
• The Yellowbrick Race Tracker is here
http://yb.tl/transpac2013
• Their Facebook Page is here
https://facebook.com/TranspacRace

Of course, we will (in our own inimitable way) be keeping you updated here on our Bodacious sites and on our Facebook pages as well.

So, that’s about it … there’s a LOT of excitement coming up in these next couple of weeks of hard racing. We’re hoping to cover the 2250 miles in 10 days or so, after which it will be time for a few days of rest and relaxation in Hawaii before heading back into the thick of things in preparation for the circumnavigation aboard Bodacious Dream in the fall!

HAEAWe hope you’ll take time to follow us on this grand race and adventure, explore our expedition materials and also support our good friends at the Earthwatch Institute … and if you can, help out our partners at the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA) who are working hard to find a cure for all those affected by that disease. So … until the next update, all the best to you, from all of us onboard Bodacious IV!

- Skipper Jeff Urbina, Captain Tim Eades, John Ayres, Chris Pike, John Hoskins, Christer Still, Jim McLaren, Matt Scharl & Dave Rearick

BD News/ Transpac 2013 – Coming Up!

Greetings from Long Beach, California … where warm and sunny days abound! We’re now moving into the final 10 days of preparations for the Trans-Pac Race - 2225 miles of open-ocean sailing from Long Beach, California to the Honolulu, Hawaii. This is one of the great ocean races in the world. Though it stands as a pinnacle of racing for sailors along the western coast of North America, the event also attracts sailors from around the Pacific and around the world. For those of you that were with us two years ago, this is the same race we sailed then on Bodacious 3, but which we had to abandon due to a crew member’s injury.

While Bodacious Dream is back in Rhode Island getting ready for our global circumnavigation this fall, I’ll be joining back up with my good friends of Bodacious Racing days onboard the Santa Cruz 52, Bodacious IV. This great group of folks has shared amazing sailing experiences in all corners of the world. A number of them – John Hoskins, Jeff Urbina, Jim McLaren, John Ayres, Matt Scharl and myself are all Great Lakes Singlehanded Society members. On this run, in addition to Capt. Tim Eades, we will also be joined by Chris Pike, formerly from New Zealand and by Christer Still, formerly from Finland! This is going to be one wide world of fun race to be sure.

HAEAThis time around we are also proud to be sharing the platform of Bodacious IV with our friends at HAEA, the US Hereditary Angioedema Association. This is a hereditary blood disease with profound effects, notably swelling that involves the throat, because it can close the airway and cause death by suffocation. Because it affects very few people, it is rarely encountered by healthcare professionals and is often misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. Pam King, wife of crew member Chris Pike has been working with this rare disease for many years and has been very involved assisting this patient advocacy organization to help build awareness of the disease. We welcome Pam and the HAEA on board and hope that you will take a moment to look at their website, http://www.haea.org to learn more about this disease and then to perhaps join us in supporting the development of a cure, by making a donation to HAEA here.

As always, our good friends at Earthwatch Institute will be following along with us as we sail these amazing waters of the Pacific Ocean. We’ll be doing our best to post photos and daily updates about the amazing things we will see along the way. We’ll also have video cameras onboard too … so hopefully, once we arrive in Honolulu, we’ll be able to share with you some exciting footage of us roaring downwind and mixing it up with the trade winds across the Pacific!

The Trans-Pac race began in 1906, and this will be its 47th running. It starts off at Point Fermin, just north of the harbor of Long Beach, California, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles and from there, the course takes us across to Honolulu, Hawaii where we will finish in view of the famous Diamond Head Point.

Diamond Head
Diamond Head … Aaah!

The race course, as I said, is 2225 miles long with the first obstacle being Catalina Island. Our first day of sailing will be “on the nose” as we maneuver around the northern tip of Catalina Island. Once we clear Catalina, we will continue southwesterly as the winds slowly turn more to the East, and we begin what we call “footing off.” This is when the angle of the wind becomes more open and a little less “on the nose.” As the winds back off the bow, the boat gets faster and faster. We call this part of the race, the “slot car” event! If you remember toy racing cars that zipped around slotted tracks, it’s like that. During this run, the boats all seem to be sliding along on a parallel course, making fast time as they push deeper into the trade winds towards Hawaii.

Towards the middle and on through the end of the race, we will all be pretty much downwind sailing with our biggest sails up, gybing (turning back and forth across the wind) to keep in line with the best winds that come out of squalls that are common in this part of the ocean. These squalls aren’t the same sort of squalls you experience on the Great Lakes where winds can reach 100 mph. These are more open ocean squalls with winds that can build up to 30 or 35 knots … but for short periods. Such intermittent winds are manageable in these boats, and if you can stay with them, they will provide you extra boosts of speed … somewhat like being “turbo-charged” … or for you Star Wars fans, like blasting into hyperspace! But for only for as long as you stay with the squall!
Molokai Channel Approach to Honolulu.

The last stretch of the race is through the Molokai Channel towards the finish. This is the channel between the islands of Oahu and Molokai where some pretty wild winds funnel, making the last stretch of the race quite a fast run. With the finish near, winds up and the boats cranking out double digit boat speeds, you can imagine how high the sailors’ spirits will be!

Molokai Channel
Molokai Channel

We hope that you’ll find this race exciting to follow and to enjoy with us. With the additional eight crew members onboard, I’m expecting to have more time to report back to you and so bring more of this race right into your living room, so that you can all ride the excitement with us the whole way!

We’ll be bringing you more details on the race and how to track us as we get closer, so stay tuned!

- Dave and all of us on Bodacious IV