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July 5, 2023

Transpac Racers Virtual and Live Crossing the Halfway Point

As the Transpac moves west, the fleet is settling into what they call the slot-car lane — the mostly straight line to Hawaii as the air warms, the trade winds settle in, and the sea turns a turquoise blue. It’s the good times. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing for sailors and navigators to worry about. There is the constant trimming of the kite (“ease/grind”), the moving in, around, or through local squalls, watching for chafe, watching for debris in the water, and timing the next jibe. You also have to eat, sleep and clean up the flying fish.

Transpac Race
The YB tracker shows Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starters beginning to bunch up in the middle of the Pacific.
© 2023 Transpac / Yellowbrick

Many boats are crossing the halfway point, while Saturday’s starters are still plagued by the lighter winds dodged by most of of the Tuesday/Thursday starters. Most racers are also on the rhumb line or to the north, as the Pacific High is staying out of the way. The MOD 70 Argo dropped out on Sunday due to engine problems that seem to have been solved, so they have decided to restart and sail to Hawaii anyway. Her sisterships Orion (in first) and Maserati are over 1,000 miles ahead and have caught up to Tuesday’s starters.

Cal Maritime Celestial
Looking for the sun amidst the clouds is a chance for cadets from Cal Maritime to use a sextant.
© 2023 Cal Maritime

At the same time that we’re all virtually following the Transpac more closely, due to ever-increasing communications technology, the cadets sailing aboard the Andrews 77 T/S Cal Maritime are practicing their celestial navigation skills by using a sextant as part of their training with the Vallejo-based maritime trade school. With all the improvements in navigational tools, one might wonder why they still teach these old-school methods. Something to ponder.

While sailing at about 7 knots and in a tight battle with her sistership, the Dehler 46 Wings (679 miles to finish), Greg Dorn from the Dehler 46 Favonius (662 miles to finish) found time to send a message in a digital bottle, with a view of life on board:

“The overnight conditions were excellent with a strong northeasterly breeze into the high teens and a following sea state. Except for some passing up-drafting clouds that slowed our boat speed for about 90 minutes. Late in the night as the moon set and the layer of thick clouds obscured any light, we sailed on with only the red repeater data displays to guide us. The common night-sailing expression ‘driving the mine shaft,’ when one can barely see beyond the mast, was fitting. The darkness made the lightning from a distant squall stunning.

“Current sail plan in 15 knots of wind is full main, poled-out A2, and a staysail. We are working hard to extend our lead with an eye on our eventual corrected result. Our labor dispute has resolved itself as we have sailed with the same sail plan for almost 12 hours. Our current forecast finishing date is July 8th, though the time of day is still unclear.

“Ambient temperature is in the mid-80s and tell-tale tropical clouds are appearing on the horizon. The skies are a-clearing with bright sunshine making the ocean a stunning deep blue. Coupled with the occasional flying fish landing aboard, we feel as if we are entering tropical latitudes. As the boat quietly creaks and rolls, down below the sun circularly traverses the saloon, while off-watch crew enjoy a light breeze through recently opened hatches.”

Due to yesterday’s holiday, we don’t a have an episode of Good Jibes for listeners this week, but enabled by Starlink, we just hung up from our latest edition of Transpac Live from onboard the Santa Cruz 52 Westerly, which is heading down the track with just over 800 miles to go before the finish. Once again our connections were a bit wobbly so the broadcast features some interruptions, and they drop off about five minutes into the program; we stayed on for another 10, hoping they’d reconnect, but that didn’t happen. We’ve posted our full episode as we waited patiently for them to reconnect, but now, the next time we talk with Westerly will be 11 a.m. on Friday, when they should be nearing the Molokai Channel on the final run to Diamond Head. That’s usually a pretty exciting portion of the race, so we’ll see if they have the personal and digital bandwidth to get on for another update.

A few boats have dropped out of the race with technical difficulties, leaving 52 boats and 455 sailors currently on the course, reveling in ever-warming trade winds, with glimpses of the waning full moon as they race southwest. Now they’re all looking for the right angle, sail combination, and trim with a light touch on the helm as they soon start scanning the horizon for the islands ahead.

Mystery Powerboat Turns Up the Wrong Way at Sausalito Boat Ramp

As local sailor and Latitude 38 reader Andy Kurtz arrived at the Sausalito public dock in the wee hours today to return to his anchored-out Columbia 57 Angelique, he was surprised to see an upturned powerboat resting in the shallows of the boat ramp. He went back in the daylight hours and took a few photos of the mystery vessel.

upturned boat
The USCG was contacted this morning and deployed the orange boom to prevent the spread of any possible pollutants.
© 2023 Any Kurtz

We spoke with Sgt. Mather from the Sausalito Police Department, who told us they had received a call about the boat last night, but that due to the Fourth of July fireworks setup, all their assets and those of the USCG were occupied with on-water security and could not immediately attend the scene. Fortunately it appears no one was hurt, but there is also no sign of the boat’s owner.

Sgt. Mather told us they are trying to reach the owner; at the time of this writing their efforts are without success. He said that if they can’t reach the owner the boat will be removed and most likely taken to a storage facility.

Whoops …
© 2023 Andy Kurtz

Which leaves us all to speculate on how the boat got into that situation. Sgt. Mather said it’s possible that there was no plug in the boat when it was being launched, resulting in its filling with water. Andy Kurtz commented that the boat ramp itself is full of large bumps and holes. Perhaps this caused the turtle? Or, we wonder if perhaps the trailer driver got it all very wrong.

It certainly looks like a precarious launching ramp.
© 2023 Andy Kurtz

Andy mentioned a trailer parked on Bridgeway, about half a mile from the ramp, which looks to be about the right size for the upturned boat. Whatever took place, it seems the Fourth was not a good day for everyone.

Circling back to Andy and his Columbia 57, he tells us he needs to haul out to appease some new boat-insurance regulations, and that once he has it all squared away he’ll be heading down to Santa Cruz to await this year’s Baja Ha-Ha. He plans to join the rally and spend the winter in Mexico. And from there, it’s all in the wind …

Singlehanded Transpacific Racers Close in on Hanalei

“Made ya jump!” That might be the gleeful cry uttered by several of the racers in the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race once they learn that they are making tracks to Hawaii so fast that the race committee has had to change their travel plans. The volunteer welcoming committee’s original arrival date on Kauai was to be this Friday. That’s been moved up, as all of the racers have less than 1,000 miles to go, and some have passed the 500-mile mark.

Santa Cruz 33 Siren
Brendan Huffman is sailing his second consecutive SHTP on the Santa Cruz 33 Siren.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

The lead has changed several times since the start on June 25 in front of Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco. Currently leading the varied pack of 16 sailboats is a match race between two Cal 40s, with Green Buffalo (with less than 450 miles to go) leading Solstice by about 30 miles. The 1D35 Such Fast, Express 37 Perplexity and J/120 Jamani are nipping at their transoms. Still far outsailing her rating of 219 (the slowest PHRF in the fleet) is the Westsail 32 Hula. Bringing up the rear are Horizon and Eos. The fleet’s pings are not entirely in sync, but you can view the tracker at Also see the event’s registration page at

Elizabeth Ann Westsail 32
Three Westsail 32s are racing in the SHTP this year. They all have different ratings. Gary Burton’s Oregon-based Elizabeth Ann has the fastest rating, 199.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Messages from the Singlehanded Fleet

Fleet members have been emailing updates to the organizers at the Singlehanded Sailing Society, which has been posting them on the SSS forum. Check them out at Here’s a sample from some of the skippers:

Randy Leasure, Tortuga, Westsail 32, June 25 (Day 1): “I had a terrible start and got caught in the counter/flood current that had started to flow. I was trying to start with just the staysail to make it easy to tack back and forth as needed, but then I realized I had to get the jib up to get enough speed to make it across. The other two Westsails pulled away from me and made it under the bridge before me.

“It was a washing machine ride out with the last of the ebb pushing us out under the bridge and past Point Bonita doing almost 9 knots. … The breeze did fill in, so we were bounding along at 6.5 knots later in the afternoon. It was a bouncy night with lots of shipping traffic, so I was eventually down to a double-reefed main with the working jib and staysail.”

Jim Quanci, Green Buffalo, Cal 40, June 26: “Beam reaching in 20-25 knots of wind and moderate seas. AWA 76-100 degrees, almost spinnaker time but too bumpy and too windy for this tight a reach when alone. Crossing the North Asia to Panama Canal shipping route; saw three ships today and one quite close (consider a half mile is 3 boat lengths for a large ship). John on Perplexity is right behind me maybe a mile back, as he has been since the start, which makes using the AIS alarm tricky as it keeps going off because John is so close. Started eating a wee bit: sardine sandwich, Swiss cheese on crackers, trail mix. This is early for me as usually I need to avoid food for 2-3 days to avoid mal de mer. The meclizine I started taking the day before the race must be working.”

Green Buffalo with green spinnaker
A rare mid-Pacific buffalo sighting on July 3. “Passed the fishing boat Sylvia out of Oahu skippered by a Hawaiian native out of Maui, Nathan,” wrote Jim Quanci. “He took a few pics of the Buffalo in her element).”
© 2023 Nathan / fv Sylvia

Alex Benderskii, Reverie, Tartan 41, June 27: “Winds steady all day in 12- to 18-knot range, backing from NNW in the morning to N in the evening. Seas calmer, much more comfortable ride, still pretty fast, averaging 7-7.5 knots. Have been following Solstice, who is about 10 nm ahead, in VHF contact. His AIS receiver is not working, while I have non-functioning AIS transponder. So between the two of us we have a fully functional AIS system. This was useful as there were a couple of close crossings (within a few nm) with tankers going SE towards the Panama Canal.”

July 4: “Reverie is reporting loss of tiller for aux rudder, meaning can’t use Pelagic to steer as intended. Trying out different ways to steer.” Later: “Pelagic itself is OK and primary wheel steering is OK. Trying to drive the wheel with Pelagic, but it’s slow (3rd reef in main). I guess I’ll do some fishing.”

Christophe Dessage, Elmach, XC-42, June 28: “14C in the cabin, tuque on, that old sleeping bag shows up unexpected, from Tibet to the Pacific Ocean, who would have guessed?” (Christophe is Canadian; for us Yanks, 14ºC = 57ºF.) July 1: “Canada Day report — sailing with a flag. A bit of gennaker but then above 18 knots it feels like dancing with a partner who can hurt you.”

Piyush Arora, Horizon, Beneteau First 305, June 29: “Spinnaker set, deep downwind. I’m trying to get out of low wind as quickly as possible. Working a lot harder today than any other day trying to get the boat to move. Finally moving at 6, with 8 on my back. Not in the direction that I want to go, but I’ll take it.”

Mike Smith, Eos, Cal 2-34, June 30: “There are some storms coming down the West Coast that I think will push into the reforming North Pacific High and strengthen the winds where I am. That was the idea of going north anyway. Well north of everyone else, as I’m pretty much on the shortest distance line, or rhumb line, close to the Great Circle line. But I think I messed up by going too far north early on. Learned a lot though! Anyway what I have to [do] now is point at Hawaii. I should be able to manage that.” The Englishman commented yesterday: “Happy July 4. I was going to hoist the Union Jack but nobody here to see it.”

Sean Mulvihill, Jamani, J/120, July 1: “After 5 days of sailing and over 850 nm from the GGB, things are settling into a routine. We survived the (very) windy reach with minimal carnage, then Jamani fought through the transition zone desperate to get south. What a weird Pacific High this year! Even at latitude 30N (ie Mexico) we still suffered high pressure and low wind speed. Yesterday, at latitude 30N I crossed Maersk Tender around 1600 hrs. It looked strange, two large commercial vessels very close together. They politely informed me that they indeed were tethered together — with a net(!) — sweeping plastic out of the High. They asked me to get out of their way as they had ‘limited maneuverability.’ As did Jamani, with 3 knots boat speed in 5 knots of wind. But we avoided them and wish them well on an amazing mission.”

Michael Polkabla, Solstice, Cal 40, July 3: “Solstice POL [Proof of Life] check-in for 7-3-23. Less than 800 to go now! OMG, that’s like sailing from S.F. to Cabo.”

Bill Stange, Hula, Westsail 32, July 3: “I brought way too much food. Could you make it two laps?”

Max Crittenden, Iniscaw, Martin 32, July 3: “Broke whisker pole. Annoyed but alive.”

The Pork Chop Express, Express 27
The Pork Chop Express, Chris Jordan’s Express 27, sails toward the Golden Gate Bridge after starting on June 25.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

A 17th starter, Tony Bourque on the Freedom 40/40 Circe, turned around west of the Farallon Islands. “He is OK, if a little bruised, and disappointed of course, but he feels solid about the decision,” commented race chair David Herrigel. “What happened was a crash jibe; sounds like the boat went up on a wave and effectively rounded down — either poor reaction on the autopilot, or the rudder came out on the crest. End result was two broken APs, which he wasn’t sure he could resurrect, and he didn’t want to continue past the point when he could hand-steer home.”

J/120 Jamani
Sean Mulvihill’s J/120 Jamani has held the lead at times during the first 10 days of the race.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Our own media mini-team will arrive on Kauai as previously scheduled, on Friday. As we write this, we’re guesstimating that five boats will beat us to Hanalei. We’ll file an update here on ‘Lectronic Latitude next week. Then, look for our feature story in the August issue of Latitude 38.

‘Yasukole’ Found in American Samoa After 78 Days at Sea

We are very happy to report that the father-son crew of the 45-ft Island Trader ketch Yasukole are alive and well in American Samoa, having made landfall last Friday (June 30), after 78 days at sea. They had departed La Paz, Mexico, on April 14, and according to skipper Dave Wysopal, really had no gear failures or problems. It had just been a slow trip. A highlight, he said, was when the big ketch became surrounded by hundreds of dorado, which swam alongside her for days. Dave’s decision to bypass French Polynesia was apparently weather-related.

Dave and Zachary are alive and well, ashore in American Samoa.
© 2023 Jeff Boyd

While at sea, Dave and 12-year-old Zachary had no idea that family, friends and many others had been concerned about them since mid-May, when friends ashore serving as trip monitors stopped receiving regular automated position reports via the boat’s SPOT device. At the time, neither Dave nor his trip monitors knew that there is a huge section of the Pacific where SPOT devices are useless. (Yasukole carries no other offshore communication devices.)

Said to be an old-school, self-sufficient mariner, Dave will probably be shocked when he learns that a US Coast Guard SAR crew dispatched from Hawaii flew search patterns for three solid days looking for him and his son. And even more shocked when he is told that although Yasukole was never spotted, that effort serendipitously saved the life of Aaron Carotta, an adventurer who’d been attempting to row around the world. When spotted, Carotta was adrift in his tiny liferaft and unable to communicate, having been forced to abandon his badly damaged open-ocean rowboat. A tanker was diverted to pick him up, much to the delight of hundreds, if not thousands, of Carotta’s fans on social media — many of whom then shifted their concern to locating Yasukole.

Needless to say, we too are thrilled that Dave and Zack are safe and sound. But we’re left pondering this zen-like question: Can you be found if you were never really lost?

Celebrate by Sailing
Have you been able to get out for some Fourth of July-weekend sailing? There's been spectacular weather in places, and we hope you've all been taking advantage!