TransPac Entry Abandoned on Way Home from Hawaii

August 1 - Pacific Ocean

We've only just received word that Bonaire, the 1977 Moody 66 ketch owned by Orange Coast College's School of Sailing and Seamanship, was abandoned in two stages 800 miles from Hawaii during a return trip to California after the mast step failed. Although the mast didn't fall, the suddenly loose rigging allowed it to swing around with little control. There were no injuries and none of the eight aboard were ever in danger. All of the crew are currently aboard ships headed to Panama. The abandoned ketch is slowly drifting in the general direction of Hawaii.

The 24-year-old ketch - which had been donated to the sailing program last November - had finished fourth of nine boats in the Aloha (cruising) division of July's TransPac race from Long Beach to Honolulu. Gil Jones of Newport Beach, who had chartered the boat for the race, said they'd had no problems. We'd been tied up next to Bonaire earlier this year in Newport Beach, and had looked her over. She reminded us very much of our old Ocean 71 Big O: brick shithouse construction with heavy-duty spars. Bonaire, built to Lloyds of London specs, is not some piece of junk that somebody foisted off on Orange Coast - which rejects about six out of every seven boats it is offered. Bonaire's hull and rigging looked to be in very fine condition, and we would have sailed her across an ocean without any fears about our safety.

Brad Avery, director of the sailing program at Orange Coast College, tells us that Captain Marcus Mackenzie and the crew heard a loud bang at 0500 on July 23 while sailing in normal return trip weather conditions. It was the sound of the mast step matrix - details unknown at this time - failing beneath the heavy 80-ft main mast. As a result, the mast slipped down and forward about one foot, coming to rest on the bilge. Naturally, the rigging all went slack, allowing the mast to swing around and begin tearing up the deck. The big danger was that, despite the exceptionally robust nature of the hull, the mast would eventually ram through the bottom of the boat. So it was decided to remove the crew.

Bonaire wasn't alone out there. In addition to making contact with the Coast Guard right away and having a C-130 fly over, she frequently talked with other TransPac entries headed home, including J-Bird, Pyewacket, Taxi Dancer, and Grand Illusion. At only 125 miles away, Grand Illusion was the closest and ready to render assistance. Thanks to the AMVER system, the Coast Guard knew of all the ships in the area that could take the crew off. Had it been an immediate emergency, the crew could have boarded a ship bound to Singapore or several others. As it was, they waited two days for a westbound ship - a German freighter bound for Panama. Five crew and one staffer got on this ship.

Ryan Pauley, who will enter U.C. Berkeley next year, was one of the students aboard Bonaire. According to the L.A. Times, he told his mother that he not only had never been in danger, but was "having the time of his life."

Captain Marcus Mackenzie and Robert White, both of Newport Beach, remained with the insured boat, hoping they could save her. Several people suggested they cut the mast down, but apparently that wasn't possible. On Sunday the 29th, with the mast tearing up more of the deck, they also abandoned the ketch, getting on a Japanese car carrier headed to Panama.

What will happen to Bonaire is unclear. At the specific instructions of the Coast Guard, a functioning EPIRB was not left aboard. The Coasties said EPIRBs are solely to save human lives and are not to be used to track private property. Many believe that it's only a matter of time before the mast rams through the bottom and the boat sinks. Given the beefy construction, we're not convinced this will happen. Once the rigging gets loose enough, the mast may snap, and the big ketch might just keep drifting. She is valued at $500,000; the insurance company may or may not send a plane and salvage vessel to look for her.


Photos Rich Roberts



The Orange Coast Sailing Program is self-supporting and open to the public. It has 6,000 students in its annual 250 classes a year. In addition, the school's 65-ft sloop Alaska Eagle frequently makes trips all around the world with students, including to places such as Antarctica. We're familiar with a number of Orange Coast's staff and boats, and hold them in the highest regard. If our 20-year-old daughter wanted to cross an ocean on a sailboat, we'd put Orange Coast's program at the very top of her list.

Baja Ha-Ha Update

August 1 - Baja Ha-Ha World Headquarters

The Baja Ha-Ha Race Committee tells us that the paid-up entry tally for the annual fun rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas is now at 50. Here are entries #31-40 (the previous entries have been listed here over the past few weeks, and we'll list more in days to come).

31. Crazy Horse / Jeanneau 52 / Terry R. Linderoth / Scottsdale, AZ
32. Garbi / Vagabond 47 / Rick & Sue Turner / Santa Cruz
33. Lady Galadriel / Crealock 37 / Dennis & Lisa Schofield / Alameda
34. Rubicon / Westsail 42 / Howard Coberly / San Diego
35. Short Hop / Beneteau Oceanis 40 / Daniel & Susan Todd / Laguna Beach
36. Siesta / CSY 44 / Ed & Daisy Marill / Marathon, FL
37. Skye / Nor'West 33 / Charles & Eveline Gallardo / Kensington
38. Still Crazy / Olson 30 / Ron Corbin / Miami
39. Texan / Mariner 36 / Gary Kaczmarek & Lois Bonsall / Dallas, TX
40. Dulcinea / Tartan 41 / Ron & Susan Powell / Seattle

From the Lone Star State to
Cabo San Lucas

August 1 - Dallas, TX

You may notice on the above list, that Texan listed their homeport as Dallas, TX. As you can see from the photos at right, there's no question about the town from which this Mariner 36 hails. She is sailed by Gary Kaczmarek and Lois Bonsall (they're married, but she didn't like his last name). Joining them on the Ha-Ha will be the Graab family, consisting of husband Eric and wife Cindy - and possibly the youngest member of a Ha-Ha crew so far this year, 4-year-old 'Young Mate' Rio Graab (Gary and Lois are Rio's Godparents). Rounding out the crew in the position of 'King' is shih tzu Sabastian (in photo below with his loyal subjects). The boat's toughest ride of all has been from "Texas to California on the back of a tractor-trailer." To quote Gary, "If you see the Longhorn steer on the bow of Texan, you'll know she's headed in for the next hoe-down. . . Y'all."

For more on the Baja Ha-Ha, see their Web site at

Photos Courtesy Texan


August 1 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at

Weather Updates

August 1 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.:

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds. You can find it at

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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