2007 Blog 



7-23 The Final Strait.

I must go down to the sea again
To the lonely sea and the sky
To the gull's way and the whales way
Where the wind goes whistling by
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.

- John Masefield,
UK Poet Laureate.

Masefield would have been at home on this Tall Ship-
he would have shared the square spume of a sperm whale on the second day, the daily visits of feathered sea hunters skimming the waves- no albatross omen of bad luck they. The stars he'd share, with Evening's bright Venus over the Western sky and the Milky Way clear overhead for the midnight Watch.

He'd have marvelled at how this team of Old Salts, individually giving many years over Disneys crack team of polished kids, have melded from the Fire Drills of their early practice spinnaker work to the the crisp sail handling of the later days.

He'd not see the Salt pork and hard tack of an early British Mariner, but the catered delicacies of Chef de Bateaux Erico.

He'd have recognised the sextant of the Naval Aviator, but not the crisp computer wind prediction from the programs that led the Ship to ride the accelerated winds of tandemed weather systems.

Breakdowns he'd forever share, as the loss of the Blowsy Twins. and teamwork he'd recognise too, from the helmeted precision of foredeckmen Peter & Dave, with pitman Ron of the many Offshore races,and Lemon Farmer John (watch for those elbows!) at main, Port trimmmers Fedex Wayne and Astronomer Don, Starboard trimmers Chef Eric & Sawbones Brian,
Helmed by Aviator Mark & goodnatured skipper Gib

The brotherhood of the Sea burns in them all
for another day on the water,
and another race.

Mahalo- Diamond Head beckons.

Shipmate's Log, 22 July 2007, 1909 PDT (1609 HST)

We are now salty old men. Life has become routine..... We are awakened at odd hours of the night (and day) and go through the routine of getting out of our bunks, still groggy, donning our apparel of the day, urinating in individual custom plastic containers (which are identified by our first initial) and eventually assuming our rotational positons of driver, trimmer, grinder and mainsheeter in the cockpit. The weather has been fantastic....warm evenings with fair winds....we are in pursuit of the #6 boat in our division and trying to sail as fast as we can. Distant memories of life on land are now blurred by thoughts of blasting down the Molokai Channel at full speed and Mai Tais after the race.

Today, we are sad to report that Bertha's little sister, Betty (a large running spinnaker), met her demise. Upon executing a flawless bareheaded drop of our reacher and subsequent hoist of Betty, she tore apart at midseam. We will miss her along with the several miles it took to repack and launch the reacher again.....this, afterall, IS sailing.

Later this evening, Captain Gib graciously ordered one ounce of grog per crewmember at 1800 hours wherein gag gifts were exchanged. Crewmember John Northrop (aka "Big John") was the recipient of a "Give-a-show" Viewmaster and Fish cards which he intends to give to his three-year old daughter upon his return home.

All in all it has been quite an adventure. We miss all of you at home and think of you often....one more day to the finish line!

wayne koide
(crew on night watch)

Saturday, 21 July 1700 PDT (1400 Hawaii)

551 nm to Diamond Head

A word from the Navigator

ARE WE THERE YET? HOW MUCH LONGER? Just over the next wave I say, around the next bend. Our race started with 10 salty sailors out to conquer the world and now after nine days its a family trip in the station wagon. "Dad, can't we just go faster?" The only thing I haven't heard is to stop for potty breaks, beyond that all has been said. We are committed to our course and are at the mercy of the wind. Today, the trades have been very favorable after being bounced around in the light zephyrs Friday afternoon for several hours. We all prayed for wind, LOTS of wind. Our prayers were soon answered, as always, at 2 am. The wind just started blowing and Stag's Leap/Chasch Mer leapt out of the water like a barn sour mare who knew where she need to go. After shortening (reefing) the main sail and three spinnaker changes, Chasch Mer has been surfing along just as she was designed to do in these conditions. Gib has the speed record at 20 knots (24 mph).

The crew also paid final respects to Big Bertha, who after a long troubled relationship and many failed repairs, succumbed to the elements last night during our gybe. Bertha, our beloved running spinnaker, known for her large curvaceous belly and broad shoulders split right across the middle. Her cousin, Betty has taken her place, but none will replace her.

So, I still haven't answered the question - When we get to Diamond Head? If the wind holds, the trade winds don't shift to much and the helmsmen hold her "steady as she goes" we should be crossing the Diamond Head finish line, some time next week, Monday most likely, probably late, by midnight maybe, earlier if lucky. We'll know better by this time tomorrow.

Hi to Missy, Matthew and Madison, Daddy's coming home soon.

- Mark

Friday, 7/20/2007

Flying Fish and Rainbows - 800 Miles to Diamond Head

Chasch Mer is now flying to Hawaii straight as an arrow. Mark has put us in a position to make some big gains on o ur competition. The boat glides along easily at 10 to 12 knots. It is when the crew on deck catches a wave and the boat surges forward to 16 or 17 knots that you hear them whooping and cheering. Throughout the day as the boat charges along, we pass through schools of flying fish, which scatter in flight on either side of the boat. Dozens are sighted each time this happens. We are also surrounded by puffy clouds and areas of rain squalls. This causes rainbows to appear at any given time, sometimes to starboard and sometimes to port. Last evening a complete rainbow arched over and behind the cockpit as we prepared for dinner.

The night time also has its magic. During the first part of the night the waxing moon casts a shimmering path of molted silver just off of the port bow, directing us to Molokai. Off of the starboard bow, Venus shines as another beacon toward our destination. After the moon sets and we are left to the beauty of the stars'constellations, Chasch Mer's bow wave, as we charge along at 12 to 15 knots,shoots along both sides of the boat in sheets of blue-green phosphorescent flames. The roar of the bow wave and wake fill one's ears. One's senses are overwhelmed as one also concentrates on keeping the boat moving at top speed. One wishes this to go on and on, but it will end all too soon as we reach our destination. New frienships are being formed as we experience all of this together.

Living the Dream on Chasch Mer,

Don Albrecht, crewman & team member

Thursday 7/19/07

1079 nautical miles to Diamond Head
ETA Monday
(no telling when yet)

As resident Yogi and crazy bow guy I have finally determined that the cockpit crew is NOT I repeat Not trying to kill me! After a couple of near missess with the spinnaker pole and my head on day one and two the Jybes and peels have gotten better and sail changing, though still not as routine as it would be with a crew that sails together, is getting there.

A disparate mix of personalities, histories, proclivities and generations we have formed a community of 10 souls commited to a safe fast, and fun trip to Hawaii. We are in postion for a very good finish and look forward to catching a few more boats before Diamond Head.

Nights are amazing, steering this pointed arrow of intention under a dusky dark sky, occassional clearings give us vistas of incredible stars and milky way, planets, satellites and shooting stars our companions as we listen to hear the quiet sussurus of the water turn into the rushing sound of a locomotive as we accelerate down waves surfing towards home. The ship knows where she is going and, bit in her teeth, she will get us there as fast as possible. Stories of home, family and past experiences abound as our community grows more cohesive. Together we are all learning from each other; accepting that new knowledge gratefully, we are all becoming better sailors and hopefully wiser people.

Love to all at home we miss you!

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Bow Guy: Peter Kornhaber

Wednesday, 18 July

Half Way to Diamond Head!

1125 nautical miles to go!!


Dateline mid-Pacific - Gib Black, owner of the ocean racing yacht Stags' Leap Winery hosted a gala Transpac halfway celebration for the crew at Chez Eric sur Mer, the well known upscale restaurant famous for both its cuisine and ocean views.

Due to an administrative oversight on the part of Gib's staff, invitations to the affair were never sent out. Consequently, since prospective guests could not be asked to produce their invitations in order to gain entry, there were likely some uninvited guests who made their way in. Fortunately, they seemed to blend in to the crowd, and no problems ensued, especially after hog nose and noise maker party favors were passed out.

In addition to celebrating passing the halfway point in the Transpac Race, the crew also celebrated being at the point on the Earth's surface that is furthest from land. Fortunately, depending on your point of view, that's not a bad place to be, and the nearest points of land are pretty nice - Hawaii and California.

Eric Conn, Chef du bateau, served up a tempting combination of crudites, salmon pineapple canapes, and quesadillas con jambon y queso. All this was washed down with Muddy Waters - Captain Morgan with fresh orange and pineapple juices and Tanguet. Toasts were offered to both host Gib and Chef Eric. Afterwards, things degenerated into sea stories, boasting and other lies, but a good time was had by all!

Meanwhile, back at the yacht race, Stags' Leap Winery is heavily invested in The South. Fortunately, most of our investment was made early on when prices were low, but last night we made an additional investment by gybing south at 02 (aka Oh dark hundred). Then, this morning during our standard morning gybe time, we turned west and did a spinnaker change to our largest spinnaker - Big Bertha!

We're now on course for Molokai, with almost all of the fleet to our north. So, hopefully, we are further from the Pacific High to the north where winds are light and closer to the tropical low system to our South giving us stronger winds to the finish. We picked up one place in Class and several places overall yesterday, and again are looking forward to the morning brief from our ace Navigator, Commander Mark Maglin, USN.

Ron Rostorfer - blog correspondent du jour.

Tuesday, July 17

Dammitdave blog

Day five of my captivity. I am onboard a sailing vessel whereabouts unknown to me with nine other men. I secreted my way below deck to script my plight and must be brief to avoid detection. It appears that one of them is in charge. He is sincere and polite and has earned the respect of the other men. Another is a mystery. He seems to be the only one that knows where this vessel is going. He has some kind of higher knowledge. Occasionally he instructs the men with numbers and other confusing things that somehow tell them where to go. I just heard of a halfway point. That must mean we are heading to land.

A request was put out to climb the mast and I foolhardedly volunteered. I admit I had alterior motives. One, to search the horizon for land and two, to earn the respect of the men in order to be accepted and receive food. Once I reached the topmost portion of the mast I realized that I may have been deceived. I in fact did not see any land so my shortsighted attempt to jump overboard from above has been abandoned. I also might have heard laughing from the men below as I dangled from above. If in fact we do find land I will approach the authorites post haste and explain that I was pressed into service. I risk being charged with desertion and hope that I am clear with my words. I must go find a bottle and cork for this message. I will of course drain the bottle first, insert the note and cork and set it adrift.


Monday, July 16

Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach, and Chasch Mer is travelling "cordon bleu". Aided by great shore support Honda's best Occidental chef is gormandising the crew, only the overnight bunch had to be chastised by Skip Gib for leaving such a Bacchanalian mess for the morning watch to clear up. We feel for the Morning Light folk with their astronauts diet of freeze dried powders.

The mast tip and all up to there has been surveyed by the resident Roof and high stuff Contractor,while the ship's navigating Naval Aviator is shrugging off accusations of taking us to Hawai'i via Easter Island and starting to reap compliments on the boatspeed from co-ordinating winds from a Pacific High & a Southerly tropical low, so we are starting to accelerate under reaching chute such that the watches are competing for surfing-under-chute records. Current best is Red team with 18.2 knots, but wait for more from the Blue team.

Wayne claims to have had another peristaltic wave, we aren't sure if its a fact or a reflection of his fear of the threatened pineapple slush enema for those that fail.

As you can tell its an unruly but proactive bunch that are flying this ship- let's hope for no whale strikes and other things that go bump in the night!

Aloha! - Brian

Monday July 15, Day 5

791 nm from Long Beach, 1647 nm to Diamond Head

aloha. we're one third of the way across the pond and gib continues to do everything perfectly! we had a very good and satisfying position report this morning. remember that the positions are based on distance to go to diamond head and that can be misleading as it doesn't take into account the variables. we like where we are. we're in this race! the crew is settling down to their watch system of 6 hours on and 6 hours off during the day and 4 on/4 off at night w/a fun 2 hour dog watch for each team in the evening. our top speed has been 18.2 knots and we've been averaging over 200 miles/day. dammit dave went up the mast today to inspect the rigging and all is well. he took the time to take some video from up there! eric continues to prepare 5 star meals. last nite was chicken in wine sauce! peter is the calm steady voice that keeps us on track. waynes world has been keeping the boat on rails. rons hearty laugh keeps things lite while brians humor is very welcome. don continues to be our most improved driver and mark makes all the right calls for our track and course.. we had an exciting moment yesterday when we attempted a double reverse outside peel w/the chutes and created a snafu bar none. however, there was no damage (except for the 15 minutes we went bald headed) and we recovered.

the red team talked alot about our families/parents/friends/sponsors last night and the thanks we have for all your encouragement and support. we continue to be a fast and happy boat! godspeed mom and thanks for the great weather. mahalo. chasch mer out. - John

Chasch Mer Blog, Sunday, 15 July, 2007

Making great headway, broad reaching with spinnaker at 10-12 knots. Don't pay a whole lot of attention to the tracking of our progress as we have a few tricks up our sleeve...that's all we can say for now about that.

The crew is getting along famously. Morale is high and we have all gotten into a "routine." The watch system we have employed seems to be working well. It helps to have a snack sometime after assuming the "night watch" at 0200 hrs (California time). For myself, the biggest eye opener has been steering the boat with spinnaker at night with no visual references....by "whiskey compass" alone....this has been thrilling to say the least...to hear the waves behind you and surfing at 15+ knots at night is like a ride on a magic carpet going down an endless mine shaft.

The water is now distinctly turquoise blue and the sun is out....we are having chicken in wine sauce especially prepared for the Stag's Leap Chasch Mer crew.....gourmet dining at it's finest (as good as it gets on a SC 50!...thank you Jackie!). We are also very happy to report that crewmember, Wayne Koide, had his first successful peristaltic wave today....miracles happen every day!

- Wayne "guarandamntee" Koide

ps Suzie...I'm having fun!...please e-mail me at our website (on right side of this page).

July 13, Day 2

Distance Travel last 24 Hrs: 235 nm
1920 nm to Honolulu

Dearest Friends,

Wayne is taking 6 exlax after Brien MD told him one at the most. Eric has lost all cooking privaledges. Dammitdave yells at everone as though he is on a roofing job sight. Don has opened his halfway gag gift already and wears these motorcycle gogles on watch. Mark has our electronics humming, even when the batteries are off? Peter who professes to be a yoga expert is dieing for booze. John keeps steeling Waynes shoes and puting them on his big toes. Ron has taken charge of the show and will be leading us to the Waikiki YC docks at cocktail hour on friday! Gib is doing everything perfectly.


g i b

Report #1 Friday July 13, Day 2
N 31 30 W 119 52
Distance Travel last 24 Hrs: 190 nm
2119 nm to Honolulu

After a very competitive 1pm start we beat to windward and arounded Catalina at 3:45pm. We then flew into the night. By 1pm today we have covered 220 miles. Right now we look like Mrs. Murphy's laundry drying out after a very fast and spray ridden night. Today us sunny and bright, 70 degrees and 12-15 knots of breeze. We are currently headed Sw looking for more wind which is turning this race into a vert tactical affair. We have just decided to put our reaching spinnaker up and that will get the parade moving. Right now there are 5 or 6 boats in site. Now all the preparation and planning arfe bigin n ing to pay off. All is well, gotta go help hoist the spinnaker. - ERIC

July 9
Long Beach, Ca

The crew has arrived and Stag's Leap/Chasch Mer is just about ready for the race. Today we headed out to see off the first start of competitors in the Aloha Class (the slower boats). The wind was moderate about 10 knots and the sea had just a little chop from the sea breeze. It was great to see the start and the everyone took notes on what to expect.

After the start it was practice, practice, practice. The weather was perfect as we set the spinaker and gybe for the next two hours. Gybing (turning the boat down wind to put the sails on the opposite sides) is one of the most difficult skills in sailing. Although all on board are very experienced sailors, each is new to the layout of Chaschmer and working together. By the end of practice Chaschmer was in racing form and gybing flawlessly.

Tomorrow: More practice and a safety review.

Sunday, May 20th

Location: Waikiki Yacht Club

Chasch Mer sailed off today headed to Long Beach, California with her delivery crew Captain Jay O'Bannon, James Callahan (Honolulu), John Northrop (Escondido, California), Mark Lorang (Big Fork, Montana), and Robert Rivard (Kaneohe).