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July 10, 2023

Transpac Racers Are Surfing to the Hawaii Finish Line

Little did we know, when we had our first dockside practice Transpac Live broadcast with Dave Moore and Andy Schwenk aboard Dave’s Santa Cruz 52 Westerly, that we were talking with the eventual class and overall Transpac winners! Since the first race to Hawaii in 1906 there have been huge technological leaps in boat design, equipment, weather and navigational information, and communications. The installation of Starlink on many boats in this year’s Transpac added the opportunity for all of us to follow the action more closely with trackers, audio and mid-ocean Transpac Live broadcasts.

Sailing the Transpac is a huge achievement for all participants, with winning in class and overall being the dream result. If you’re really fortunate, you finish during the daylight hours so you get the added bonus of awesome Sharon Green photos of you pulling off the feat. The overall win earned Westerly the King Kalakaua Trophy, honoring the team that has sailed the best relative to their rating against all other boats on the course, regardless of their starting date.

2023 Transpac, Finish 07.08.23, Transpac Race, Westerly 52
Westerly surfed down the Molokai Channel on her way to Division 5 Cabrillo Boat Shop class and overall  victory.
© 2023 Sharon Green /

Another bonus from this year’s now hyper-connected world of offshore racing was the drone video coming from Cecil and Allyson Rossi’s Farr 57 Ho’okolohe, while still mid-race. As of this morning, they were leading the Division 6 Pasha class, surfing along at almost 12 knots with less than 50 miles to the finish.

With boats still on the course, the current results are “provisional,” though the pecking order appears firmly established. It looks as if the Thursday, June 29, starters have taken four of the five overall fleet positions, with Mike Sudo’s Beneteau First 47.7 Macondo being the only Tuesday, June 27, starter to break the top five. The “fast boats” drew the short straw for wind by starting the following month (on July 1) and battling light air during their start, and also much farther along the 2,225-mile course. As of early this morning, just three of the 20 boats in the three divisions starting on Saturday have finished. Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket is finally enjoying fresh trade-wind breezes and surfing along at about 14 knots, 200 miles or so from the finish.

Mike Sudo’s Beneteau First 47.7 Macondo scored a win with a Friday-evening finish in Division 7 Boatswains Locker class.
© 2023 Stephan R Cloutier /

For Stephen Lewis and crew aboard his Newland 368 Pegasus, the first 2,215 miles brought the classic fast downwind Transpac that the boat was designed for. Unfortunately, 100 miles from the finish, they lost their rig. They managed to create a jury rig with the spinnaker pole and carry on to the finish at 6-7 knots for sixth place among the eight entries in Boatswains Locker Division 7. The boat will get shipped home.

Stephen Lewis’s Dan Newland 368 limped to the finish with a jury-rigged spar after losing her rig 100 miles from the finish.
© 2023 Sharon Green /

Finishing at 11 p.m., Sebastian Moshayedi’s Bakewell White 100 Rio100 earned the Barn Door trophy for the fastest elapsed course time while racing in the Cal Maritime Division, finishing in 7 days 13 hours 16 minutes and 38 seconds. She also won the Barn Door trophy in 2015 and 2017.

Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole finished just before 1 a.m. Monday, followed a couple of hours later by Dan Marino’s Express 37 Juno, which corrected out to win Division 8 smithREgroup by two hours. The closest finishes were in the Division 7 Boatswains Locker, where 14 minutes separate third, fourth and fifth, with third being Dean Stanec’s J/130 Night’s Watch. Fourth was Greg Dorn’s Dehler 46 Favonius, and fifth place went to Ian Edwards’s Dehler 46 Wings. First in class was Macondo, and second in class was Charles Devanneaux’s Beneteau First 44 Lenny.

As of right “now” the only Saturday starters to finish are the MOD 70s Orion, Maserati, and Argo (which took a joyride after retiring) plus Division 1 Cal Maritime racers Tom Holthus’s Botin 56 BadPak, and Mark Comings and George Hershman’s R/P 63 GoodEnergy.

Transpac Finish Yellow Brick
Most of the rest of the fleet should converge on Ala Wai Harbor in the next couple of days.
© 2023 Transpac / Yellow Brick

Boats continue to finish as we write, with another busy day ahead for the Hawaii-based Transpac race committee off Diamond Head. The farthest boat back is Russ Johnson’s Jeanneau 52.2 Blue Moon, which can enjoy the champagne sailing conditions longer than any of the other boats in Hawaii. The Pacific High was farther north than normal, allowing most boats to stay close to the rhumb line. Lighter airs across much of the course, especially for Saturday starters, yielded lower speeds, but the full moon and aloha welcome in Hawaii make up for whatever holes were found on the course.

Caption Contest(!) — The World-Famous ‘Latitude 38’

Welcome to July’s Caption Contest(!). This month we’re sharing a photo that some of you may have seen before. It hails from 2018, and it does have a backstory, which we’ll share next week, but for now, we want to assure you that, according to the related news reports, no one was hurt. The photo was taken on Chesapeake Bay, by a firefighter on the scene.

Caption Contest July 2023
Your caption here.

© 2023 Maryland Natural Resources Police

See last month’s Caption Contest(!) winners and top ten in this month’s issue: Loose Lips.

Some Background on S/V ‘Ishi,’ From the Captain’s Friend

In mid-March we shared a story about a Coast Guard notice regarding the 55-ft sloop Ishi. The boat had reportedly left Oahu on October 3, 2022, with a possible plan to sail to Maui, then the Pacific Northwest. The story elicited numerous comments, many from readers sending good wishes for the crew’s safety, but there were, of course, those who chose to analyze and judge without a ton of information. On Friday we received a comment on the story from a reader named Brian who says he is a friend of Ishi’s captain, Don. We felt it was worth sharing … (The comment has been edited for punctuation and grammar only.)

Sloop Ishi
Ishi. Brian also commented that the boat is listing in this photo due to a full, 700-gallon water tank on the starboard side, but that the boat was “leveled out” before leaving Hawaii.
© 2023 USCG

Don’s boat is a Hatfield 48, but when it was being built they added an extra two feet to the middle of it. making it a 50-ft boat. I’m not sure what the year was, but this boat has actually been featured and had an article written about it in Latitude 38 while it was sailing around the South Pacific for many years.

Don has over 60,000 bluewater nautical miles. A book about him is called The Water in Between. He is a more capable sailor than 99% of the people reading Latitude 38. That boat is overbuilt. Don has any and every sort of part or supply known to man. He has three GPS units and an EPIRB also on board. He does not use social media or talk to a lot of people. He has sailed from Vancouver Island, Canada, to Hawaii and back multiple times. One of the times was in a 20-ft plywood boat, with a wristwatch, a sextant, a compass, a bucket for a toilet, and a wind vane made out of 2 x 4s nailed together.

Don had over a year’s worth of food and water on his boat before he left. He had to leave the harbor in Waikiki because his temporary four months was up. The U-joint in his V-drive was in need of repair, so he couldn’t motor the boat around and was going to be unable to make it into any of the other harbors on the island without an engine.

It was October 12 or 17 when his time ran out and he was forced to leave the harbor. He wanted to head west, but he didn’t want to do that until the transmission was fixed, because it would have been a way harder thing to get parts and fix somewhere in the South Pacific compared to here on Oahu.

I talked to him when he got towed out of the harbor in the early morning. He was right by Diamond Head and he had to get off the phone because he said he was trying to get a hold of someone to come and pick the lady and her kids up in a dinghy or something, because they ended up saying they weren’t going to be able to handle the waves and everybody was getting seasick.

That was the last time I talked to him, but he didn’t have a plan where he was going. He told me he most likely was going to just float out in the ocean for a couple of months till January 1 and then he would be coming back to the harbor on Oahu.

I don’t know who reported him to the Coast Guard, but he would not be happy about this. We have talked about this many times and he always said if he ever went missing, to never call the Coast Guard on him because all that does is end up creating more regulations for all of us boaters, from the more people that have problems and call the Coast Guard. If he doesn’t want to be found that’s his choice.

There is no way he would have gone up to Washington back in October. We have talked about this many times and he would never take any boat into the North Pacific in the middle of the winter. Anyone who knows anything knows that is a terrible idea.

I would have been with him but I was in Thailand when he left. I didn’t know that I was coming back. Now that I am back in Hawaii I made a few posts on Facebook months ago, just asking people if they had seen him and telling them if they see him to tell him to call me, because I wanted to help him fix his V-drive, because he is my friend.

Thanks to Brian for this informative comment. We expect this will again draw reader comment, which is welcome, but we ask that you please do so respectfully.

You can read the original story here.

Stars or Starlink? Sailors Have More Choices Than Ever

The Starlink genie is out of the magic lantern and joins a long list of innovations presenting humans with the paradox of technical progress. Our July issue included a couple of stories on Starlink with our thoughts in Sightings, and a report from cruiser Doug Hornsey aboard the Orca 38 Mandolyn in Changes in Latitudes.

There was a time when people wondered why you would go to the movies when you could go to the theater, and a time when people thought social media would actually be a force for good. The launch of Starlink aboard sailboats is another seemingly irresistible technical marvel transforming the experience of those who sail.

Many experienced cruisers look at the arrival of Starlink with a mix of fear and trepidation as they scour the coastline for free Wi-Fi hotspots. Meanwhile, newer cruisers embrace Starlink as the ultimate work “from home” option and learn-as-you-go sailing tool. We recently spoke with a long-term, experienced cruiser from Mexico who’s seen the growing dichotomy in beliefs. Naturally, younger people are more ready to adapt to these changes, while older folks are lamenting the loss of what existed before. Some are trying to find the vague, middle path.

Apple Vision Pro
Linked up to Starlink you’ll be able to enter a dangerous pass into a remote atoll and find a safe anchorage while wearing your new Apple Vision Pro goggles. You’ll also be able to see the constellations even on cloudy days.
© 2023 Apple

At Latitude 38, we sit on the fence as we explore the various new ways we can use the digital universe to tell sailing stories. We use Starlink to work remotely, stream our Transpac Live broadcast, and fill our magazine, digital newsletters and social channels with enough content to prevent everyone from having a moment to sail during their lifetime.

Unlike with sailing, we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going with it all, but something uncomfortable feels as if it’s happening as we merge our lives with the always-connected/AI/ChatGPT/robotic universe being created, allowing us to sail an alternate universe. There are certainly thousands of breakthrough benefits and numerous freshly minted billionaires, both coming our way as a result of this next wave of frenzied investment and technical exploration. There was a day when the sextant was a technical breakthrough.

Paul Kamen Celestial Navigation
Despite improving technology, Paul Kamen’s celestial navigation classes remain popular.
© 2023 Shelly Willard

Our July Sightings story called “Starlink or Stars?” wonders what you’ll see when you’re out cruising. When you look up at the heavens, do you see the Southern Cross or the arrival of the next episode of Ted Lasso?

A magical aspect of these new technologies is the increased choices they give us. Shall I watch YouTube, NBC, or Instagram Reels, shop Pinterest, make my own TikTok movie, share the photo of my dessert tonight with Facebook, listen to or create a podcast, write a letter to my grandmother, or lie in a hammock reading Latitude 38 magazine? You can’t fight “progress” but you can decide what to do with your time and how you want to live. Starlink is now giving cruisers more choice than ever, so now, with the genie out of the bottle, cruisers will have to choose their three wishes wisely.