Transpac Update – Gybing & Squalling on Day #5

Tuesday, end of Day #5 (at least we’re kind of sure it’s #5) and we’re moving along pretty well … still sailing on the spinnaker and making about 9-10 knots, even in today’s lighter winds. We’re learning too 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. And 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, Chris Pike …

At present, we are less than 1100 miles away from Hawaii, and our hope is for a finish sometime on Sunday. Now that may be wishful thinking … but out here on Day #5 (You sure it’s not #6?) your mind can’t help play that game of time and distance and trying to predict when your first hot shower might be! We are lucky here though … make no mistake about that. I am sure that many or our competitors are dreaming of good food before showers, whereas we’re worried that we won’t find food as good when we arrive as we have out here. On that score, we are very well fed and happy … probably one of the few crews that will land with the same waist size as when we left California!

Otherwise, the days are fairly typical … though they never quite seem to begin or end, but for the slow revelation of a sunrise or a sunset. Today’s sunrise was followed in short order by Capt. Tim’s now-famous “BodEGGcious McMuffins” – Canadian bacon, French cheese and a Finish Egg  on an English muffin. This is becoming quite the morning tradition onboard!

The Coffee GrinderThe Coffee Grinder after Breakfast …

From there, we just sail … we 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. It’s hard to believe we are at the halfway distance point … and maybe a bit more than halfway time-wise.

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. This is the double handlebar configured winch that packs super powers and five gears!

Dave on the Coffee GrinderDave on the Coffee Grinder after lunch, with Matt and Jim …

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 spins the handles with all the energy he has, to help pull in the new line, at which point, that 2000 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 bad McMuffin … bit of a hot mess. We’ll probably repeat this same ritual of actions 50 to 70 times between California and Hawaii!!

So, our days continue one after another, mile after mile on to Hawaii. It’s up to us to generate our own excitement and keep our minds keen. That’s where old jokes, good friendly barbs and lots of laughs among great friends come in real handy. Wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!

Until later … we remain … sailing over that “bounding main,”

- 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.

Coordinates: + 25.54130, -137.52511
SOG (Speed over Ground) – 9.2
COG (Course over Ground) – 211 degrees

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