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July 14 05:37:39 HST
The Finish: 2,300 nm and 13 days later...
The weather was so nice it was a real pleasure to be on the water for the extra 2 and a half days. Right! For the most part the sea state was very tame yet sailing a straight course was difficult because of the confused seas most of the way. There was a full moon nearly every night, its just that it was covered by clouds or was only exposed while off watch. THIS YEAR WE ONLY TRASHED 2 SAILS (A RECORD), to bad one was the mainsail so we finished under jury rig. Is this sounding like a string of contradictions? Well that's the way the passage went...love/hate!
There are some moments I reflect on: 1st, the crew was great and the high point was when we were 1,000 miles from any land a man overboard pole was spotted. This thing was a quarter mile away when sighted. The crew work was spot on:"man over", drop the kite, check for over lines, start the engine and go get the poor guy before its too late. That was a long 1/4 mile, not knowing what we would find, just going as fast as we could. What a relief to find an old abandoned safety set up. No-one attached. Thank god. The crew was GREAT!
Team spirit was very high as expressed at the 11th hour prior to our start when it was discovered by our bottom scrubbing diver we had a problem. Waikiki (Huston) we have a problem. In my first blog I told you about our strut so we don't need to relive that now.
The temporary strut repair held & we did not sink. A good thing.
The new rudder is fabulous.
The new bow is powerful.
Our new fast pant get very positive reviews.
And it looks like we won the Dillingham Trophy again.
Life is good. Now it's back to work, weed waking the yard, the market & taxes. Life is really good.
g i b
1200 Sunday, July 12 - Day 11
Position 22 00 N 152 00W 15 knots from the east with 8-10' rolling swells 223 nm last 24 hrs 323 nm to Diamond Head ETA Finish: Late Monday night, early Tuesday Morning
It's hard to believe
It's hard to believe, but there's only two more spectacular sunsets until we reach Honolulu. Only two more opportunities to see the bioluminescent sparkles dancing on our bow waves. At times, it's been hard to believe we'd ever pull this off.
I'll skip all the prelude events that have been covered by my crewmates. Many new challenges presented themselves along the way--from the humorous to the routine to the bizare. Here are just some of the highlights:
Last night, while exiting the companionway, something smacked me in the head. After recovering what little sense I have left, what lay on the deck looked like an ear of corn with wings and smelled putrid. I returned the kung fu flying fish to the ocean and am left with the challenge of how to get that smell out of my gloves.
The other night, during our moonless, midnight watch, Chasch Mer was shrouded in black velvet night. Only the eery green glow of the instruments pierced the darkness. None of the usual visual references were available to whomever was on the helm. Steering the boat to course was a challenge, but we did it and improved our standing.
Try this at home: Invite 9 of your friends to a sleep over. Have them jog around your living room day after day, for hours on end. Let them sleep for an hour or two at a time, but only in dresser drawers and broom closets. Sorry, no real beds allowed. Now cover all the windows and doors, so it's pitch dark. Then yell out that you need help and time how long it takes them all to be at your side, ready to assist. We performed that very drill when the afterguy to our spinnaker broke. From the first "Oh, Sh!t!" to all hands on deck and the kite retrieved and doused taking about 90 seconds--in the dark, on a rolling deck. There's more, but you had to be there.
Our muscles are sore. Our energy is spent. Yet we carry on. Our brains are exhausted. Jackie's pre-made dinners are all eaten. And yet we carry on. The winds are at times light and shifty, then strong and steady. But still we carry on. Whatever challenges come our way, Gib, Mark, Eric, Ron, Steve, Wayne, Chris, David, Eric and I somehow find the strength within ourselves to carry on.
It's hard to believe, but this disparate group of individuals has come together as a cohesive team, overcome each and every challenge and will soon sail past Diamond head and across the finish line.
Thank you to all my friends and family for supporting my crazy idea of sailing across an ocean. Thank you for believing in me, even during those times when I didn't believe in myself.
With love and appreciation,
Update:At 8:22 PDT this evening an alert crew member saw what appeared to be a Man Overboard pole off the starboard bow. We doused the spinnaker to investigate. It is the mariner's law to investigate any possibility of someone stranded at sea. Fortunately the pole turned out to be a fishing bouy and we proceeded on with racing.
1400 July 11 - Day 10
Position 23 53 N 148 20 W Light 8 knot breeze from the west, calm seas 223 nm last 24 hrs 549 nm to Diamond Head
Hello From Roy's Chasch Mer on day ten,
The adventure continues. And what an adventure it has been.
Today we have changed spinnakers several time. My mentor Bob continues to instruct me in the fine art of working the bow. He was a bit upset I left him sleep instead of letting him join in the fun. Hopefully he will return the favor if anything needs changed this afternoon.
The ride so far has been great. We have become a very powerful team and continue to meet every challange mother nature throws at us. The weather has been improving. We must be getting close to Hawaii since the air and sea have both warmed. Our navigator Mark seems to have a secret trick, I think he is using our satellite phone to call and order his weather from mother nature herself. Our standings may not look very good at the moment but don't count this team out just yet. We are coming to get those other Santa Cruz 50, and we are coming fast.
For me, this has been a dream come true. I have to thank our skipper Gib for his trust in me to do this. I don't want to see the finish come so soon but we must continue or hard press to beat the othe boats in our class as well as thos from Hawaii. We are sailing Chash Mer as fast and as hard as we can. She is a great boat and has kept up her end of the deal well.
Sakura, Alex, Sasha and Codie, I really miss you guys and will see you soon. Hope you can make it to our arrival. Aloha,
Eric, The Younger
1200 July 10 - Day 9
Position 24 55 N 144 00 W 15 - 20 knots from NE, 8' rolling swells on the stern 224 nm last 24 hours, best day yet, 800 nm to Diamond Head
Finally had a few hours of sunshine and then a peek at the moon. Then came the squalls with winds up to 30 knots, giving the Chasch Mer crew a great oporunity to optimize boat speed and hopefully close in on our competetion. I was excited when I got the boat up to 19.3 knots, only to be short lived as it was surpassed by driving master Dr Chis at 20.0 knots, then finally topped by our Navigator Mark at 21.1. Driving the Chasch Mer Santa Cruz 50 at 15+ knot is like driving a locomotive, powerful with huge roar going accross the water with spraying coming up on both sides. To me being able to participate in this Transpac Race is a life time acheivement, no different than a hole in one, wild game hunt or climbing a mountain. No words could ever express how thankful I am that Gib gave me the opportunity to particpate in this race with the outstanding team of sailers he has put together.
1800 July 9 - Day 8
Position 25 18 N 140 51 W Partly cloudy, 15 - 20 Knots NE breeze, gusts to 25+, 10' swells 228 nm last 24 hrs 1,074 nm to Diamond Head
A lot of happy faces today as the sun has come out, the wind is up and the surfing is good! There is nothing quite like the sensation of speed and power when surfing a 50 foot yacht down the face of an open ocean wave at 15+ knots (record so far is 18.6 - fast enough to water ski!!). Chasch Mer's hull litterally lifts out of the water and goes!
After a week at sea everyone is falling into a routine. Our day is defined by the watch rotation: 6 hours on, 6 off during the day then 4 on/4 off at night. While on watch each sailor has a job: trimming the spinnaker sheet or pole, trimming the main, and of course driving the boat. Every half hour we rotate positions. Off watch we eat then sleep. Evening Watch turnover is the social hour where the on coming watch is up early for dinner and the off going lingers a while to chat before hitting the rack knowing that at mid-night they will be on deck once again.
The winds have picked up into the high teen and twenties and Chasch Mer is humming along under full main and spinnaker. With following seas the helmsman and trimmers have their work cut out as the boat skims across the water and they work in unison to maximize speed and maintain control. Catching a wave can easily propel us from a stately 10 knots to 15 knots and more in just a few seconds as the helmsman works the wheel to keep her on an even keel fighting the forces of wave and wind. A challenge during the day, and even more so at night. With the full moon dimmed by the clouds, there are few references to steer by. If it were clear there would be stars and a defined horizon and the helmsman can keep his bow pointed in one direction. However, besides the half dozen digital displays for heading, boat speed, wind angle and velocity there is only a fuzzy horizon to steer by and a compass lit by a single red bulb. It takes all your senses and full brain power to keep Chasch Mer going full tilt.
There is a saying about the sea as old as sailing: "fear not, respect always." In these challenging conditions, it doesn't matter what your experience or skill, you must respect the power of the sea. Chasch Mer is but a cork upon a vast ocean 1,000 miles from anywhere. Although we hear our fellow races on the daily radio roll call we have not seen another boat since the first day out when we all rounded Catalina Island and the wind spread us out over a 350 mile swath of the Pacific. It is awe inspiring when controlling the power of sail, wind and speed. And the normally reserved crew, whose lives ashore are filled with responsibilities that often leave us dour, are as giddy as school boys on the playground - With smiles (and yells) to prove it.
To Missy, Madison and Matthew - see you in Hawai'i very soon! I love you all.
1500 July 8 - Day 7
Position 25 31 N 136 35 W 20 knot breeze from the north east, swells building. Surf's up! 224 nm last 24 hrs 1,197 nm to Diamond Head
ROY'S CHASCH MER HALFWAY PARTY AT DOMAINE ERIQUE!
Dateline: Mid-Pacific. The Transpac Race Halfway Party for the Santa Cruz 50 racing yacht Roy's Chasch Mer took place this afternoon at the well known epicurian resort and spa, Domaine Erique. The party was hosted by owner Gib Black, the noted yachtsman and Honolulu advertising mogul. In the past, there have been issues with invitations being sent out, and whether arriving guests needed to produce their invitation in order to gain entry. This year, in a demonstration of his largesse, Gib decided to open the event to the general public.
In order to attract a suitable crowd, the party was preceded by an aerial act in which our foredecker, Bob, was hoisted to the masthead while the yacht sailed a broad reach under spinnaker in 16-20 knots - this also served as a chafe and rigging check. The deck crew decided that the most appropriate time for the Halfway Party would be when Bob was brought halfway back down the mast. However, this was reconsidered due to safety concerns associated with returning Bob to the deck after the bar opened, and then someone remembered that he is also our Social Director - without which, no party!
The party got underway with the crew decked out in pirate scarf headgear, eye patches, earrings, leis, etc. with ukuleles, palm tree wind charms, and other paraphenelia. Bar service consisted of "MerTais," Puerto Rican rum with Tang a l'orange. The main hors d'oeuvre was pineapple queso quesadillas picante, which were quickly devoured by the attendees. This was followed by "Tahitian War Paddles" - celery stalks stuffed with pineapple chunks and beurre d'peanut.
The crew quickly got into full party mode with jokes and sea stories abounding. The happy mood was made even more so by the realization that Roy's Chasch Mer was now at the furthest point from land anywhere on the globe, and that our next stop will be Waikiki Yacht Club in Honolulu!!
Two items from previous halfway parties were discontinued this year. First were the salmon canapes perched atop saltinoux humide. Chef Erique hasn't been salmon fishing yet this year. Also, the gift exchange was abandoned, as this activity was deemed more appropriate for the Transpacific Yacht Club Womens Auxiliary!
Continuing on a 255 degree magnetic course with the 1.5 oz chute up and going fast, we are on a bee-line for the Molokai Channel. Don't be fooled by the daily position reports of our fellow SC50 competitors.....it ain't over till the rubenesque lady sings....that's all we have to say about that for the moment.
Cast of Characters:
Skipper/Owner Gibward Black, Esq. - Steely-eyed, cool-under-pressure, Transpac veteran. Our leader and "Grand Poobah" our wives have entrusted to insure our safety and well being on this journey. Embodies all the leadership characteristics we've read about in "Boy's Life" magazine - runs a tight (and clean) ship - Went so far as to test the crew by plugging up the toilet to see if we could recover in a timely manner.
Navigator Marcus Maglin, Jr. - Naval aviator who likes a challenge - spends his waking hours staring at grib files and interpreting weather patterns on his PC. Confuses most of us when he tries to explain what he's doing. Mark has been instrumental in shaping this crew into a "lean, mean fighting machine." He is also a primary suspect in the rum pilfering on Chasch Mer.
Watch Captain Ronald "Strings" Rostorfer - the only man we know who can sleep in one position for 6 hours straight despite a 40 degree healing angle. Ron is a stalwart professional whose military bearing and decorum are without reproach. Knows the sailing rules cold...more importantly, knows the COLD rules sailing!
Watch Captain/ Head Chef Eric "Con-Man" Conn - owner of 15 boats, winner of many sailing regattas. A real "seat of the pants" sailor - don't get on his bad side or you may find a "surprise" in your tuna surprise! Rumors that we are surviving entirely on pop tarts for every meal are totally false.
Chris "Doc" Jordon, M.D. - multi-transpac veteran and issuer of any and every pill known to man. Chris, a man known to "lead by example" was our first to take a 62 degree shower on the transom two days ago. Unfortunately, no one followed suit. He is the current record holder of 18.2 knots boat speed while driving....Waikiki here we come!
Steve "the Man" Pelke - one of our Chicago brethren whose last minute "machining" of a vital part for "Chasch Mer" was instrumental in getting us to the starting line in running order. Has also modeled several of his "Stingray" custom "go-go pants" and "go-go socks" for the crew.....obviously a man of many talents.
Bob "Bouncing Bobby" Roitblat - social director extraordinaire and our bowman. More energy harnessed in one man than we've ever seen.....when he heard that we were launching the kite, he came up (during his off watch) in his skivies to help out - we believe he was sleep walking, however.
Eric "Young Eric" Heim - A young Navy Chief whose enthusiasm and great attitude are infectious. Was very instrumental in getting Chasch Mer prepped for this race. Speaks fluent Japanese and is fond of high-end "Kaiseki" dinners served at Tokyo's finest eateries. Very fond of sake and the second suspect in the rum pilfering scandal.
David "David" Jack - our one and only "foreign national" from Canada. FOrmed a one-man protest on the Fourth of July claiming that "no one celebrated Canada Day," despite the fact that he consumed two hot dogs, potato salad, a fruit cup and a beer in his cubicle when no one was looking. Part of the "speed team" of "Eric's Conmen" watch team.
Wayne Koide -
EDITOR'S NOTE: Wayne "Zen Master" Koide - Once a farm boy from Iowa, now an international jet pilot and connoisseur of every airport ramen shop in Asia. Intensity on the helm is unmatched. Can't be destracted, doesn't hear any buzzers or bells, drives by sense and smell, ain't seen nothing like 'em, sure drives a mean SC50.
1300 July 6 - Day 5
Position 26 46 N 124 30 W Wind picking up from the north, swells building. Starting to surf. 173 nm last 24 hrs 1690 nm to Diamond Head
A Truly Frighting Encounter:,,
Roy's Chasch Mer had finaly worked her way into some decent wind and was starting to make some real headway. Most of the crew was on deck enjoying the day and the increase in speed when something truly frightening happened. From far astern came a terrible bellowing moaning scream almost afraid to look back and witness our demise by some mythical sea monster we were relived to see it was our captain, naked (scary enough), taking a sea shower. (Defin: Sea Shower, standing on the stern pouring a bucket of 63 degree sea water over your head). Now we were all glad he took the shower, but way too much drama!
We have been sailing either to windward or close reaching from the start (which makes the boat heel(lean) over). Which makes living in a world tilted 30 to 45 degrees very interesting. Nothing stays where you put it. Putting on your heavy weather gear to go on deck at night is a major achievement. Preparing meals and eating are a hang on and pray situation. Then comes attemping to sleep; a heeling bouncing boat crashing through waves, assorted blocks (pulleys) and lines creaking and groaning make a sound that rocks the bluewater sailors to sleep.
We are still a day or two from the pictures in the brochure. Boat and crew are working well together and the voyage is living up to the "once in a lifetime" experience as billed.
- Eric C.
1200 July 5 - Day 4
Position 28 15 N 124 15 W Light 10 knot breeze from the North West, swells picking up. 154 nm last 24 hrs 1863 nm to Diamond Head
Call me Ishmael...actually you can call us Chasch Mer but that doesn't mean that we don't have our own Great White Whales to hunt. With the competition tight we are setting course and trimming sails with a fervor and dedication comparable to that of old Ahab. Every fraction of a knot of boat speed gets us further ahead and closer to Hawaii.
A great moment for this Transpac race: the first spinnaker was set today. Warming temperatures, blue-ish skies and just enough wind aft to hold a chute on a reach. A great sign of things to come; we hope it to be all downhill from here on out.
Hello to friends, family and loved ones. We miss you. We do we really do.
A special thanks to Jackie, the prepared meals have been fantastic. They've staved off any and all remote notions of cabalism, kept us well nourised and eager for the next.
Here's to fair winds and keeping the powder dry. We'll see you all soon.
By popular demand our July 4th picnic plate
1200 July 4th - Day 3
Position 29 50 N 122 33 W Light 8 knot breeze from the west, calm seas 143 nm last 24 hrs 2,000 nm to Diamond Head
Happy Independence Day from Roy's Chasch Mer. Today we celebrated our Nation's birthday with traditional picnic fare from Chez Eric: hot dogs with all the trimmings, potato salad and little aluminum cans of happiness he smuggled aboard. We also raised a toast to our independent spirit. Mark's non-traditional recommendation of the Northern route continues to pay off. Chasch Mer remains in first place in our division. The seas are calm, comaraderie is high, the head still works, life is good.
1200 July 3 - Day 2
Position 32 00 N 120 50 W Light 8 knot breeze from the west, calm seas 172 nm last 24 hrs 2,080 nm to Diamond Head
Hello From Roy's Chasch Mer on day one,
So far so good with very few crew fights other than Frosted Mini Wheat battle over breakfast. Ron's team is like a clock just as you would suspect. Bob asks lots of questions, The Good Dr. is smiling,and we can't keep Steve quite.
Then, the other watch; Eric has a few stories for his boys,young Eric is trying to match Chris's grin, David is driving like this 50 is a dingy and we are going to have to do something about Wayne's morning hair.
Spot on Mark is a little tickled about the way thing appear to be shaping up. This sailing is a sight better than our problem just as we were completing our provisioning. For those of you who do not know we had a bit of a Appolo 13 perdicament: Our shaft strut cracked wide open hours before our starting gun. Waikiki we have a problem... This crew dug in, went through our limited parts & tool kits, one guy found dive gear, one a few parts another machined from what they gathered (hose clamps & scraps) to make repaers. A bit more drag at the prop now, but we are moving AND we made our start. Nice start at that.
For me, I have yet to contribute! We came off a wave last evening & I landed on my tail bone and defused my seven spinal fusions. no bending, changing cloths & shoes for the rest of the trip. Ill just hang out in my suite and watch the wide screen for the duration.
Love to all, but, we don't miss you YET. Aloha,
g i b
The adventure has begun. The start was on time at 1 pm PDT. After a clean air center of the line start, Chasch Mer, is off on the transpac. By 3:45 PDT Chasch Mer passed San Catalina Island with the fleet tightly packed together. After just a couple hours the fleet has dispersed. Chasch Mer has decided to take a northerly route to catch the winds from the building high north.
Thank you from all the crew on board to the "shore crew" for getting us this far!