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‘Chubby Girl’ Back on the Mainland

Wil Spaul and Chubby Girl arrived in Monterey Wednesday evening, safe and mostly sound. As reported in Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, rough conditions, thought to have come from Hurricane Marie far to the south, pounded the tiny 9-ft craft during the 70-year-old Spaul’s attempt to sail the smallest boat ever to Hawaii.

Wil departed the Bay on September 27 and had made it about 200 miles out (due in part to no wind the first two days) before the damage occurred. Then, last weekend, successive big waves slammed into the boat, damaging among other things his main hatch, which started leaking; crunching his satphone so that it could only transmit (but not receive); and ultimately, damaging the rig and small mainsail. Barely a week into the attempt, and with all his clothes and bedding soaked, Wil decided to return, regroup, repair, and try again. He originally hoped to sail back to Berkeley, where he had started from, only to encounter light breeze and a southerly current set.

Wil at the dock in Monterey
A cold, wet Wil sits alongside the tiny Chubby Girl after arriving in Monterey.
© 2020 Jeff Canepa

On Tuesday, “After realizing I will not be able to (make) Monterey and the current is carrying me down to the Big Sur coastline, I decided to contact the U.S. Coast Guard,” he posted on his blog ( At that point, he was about 70 miles due west of Monterey.

The cutter Forrest Rednour out of Los Angeles did the first tow. About 10 miles from port, Chubby Girl was transferred to a smaller craft that completed the tow into Monterey. He arrived around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. “I cannot speak highly enough of the professionalism of the Coast Guard teams that were involved,” Wil said upon arrival.

Chubby Girl was due to be trucked back today to Berkeley Marine Center, where the boat was built earlier this year. Wil plans to make repairs and modifications and beef up some things over the winter — and try again next spring.

Chubby Girl at the dock
Chubby Girl will soon be back in Berkeley, with plans to head out to sea again next spring.
© 2020 Jeff Canepa

“He’s learned a lot from this short trek that I think will help in his next venture west,” said Jeff Canepa, who was one of a few people who showed up to take Chubby Girl’s docklines. Jeff’s offer to run Spaul’s soaked clothing and bedding through his home dryer was gladly accepted, while Wil headed to a hotel for a hot shower and good night’s sleep.

The current smallest-boat-to-Hawaii record is held by Gerry Spiess, who sailed the 10-ft Yankee Girl to the islands from Long Beach in 1981.

Hurricane Marie swerved west into the Pacific and has since dissipated.


  1. Larry Snow 4 years ago

    Tide, what tide?

  2. Joseph DiMatteo 4 years ago

    I didn’t realize the Coast Guard did private tows and that non-emergency tows like this were directed to private firms?

    • Mark 4 years ago

      yeah thats a lot of money to tow a non distressed vessel he could of called sea tow?? at 70 I think this man would be better served finding a different project he has not planned well at all

  3. Martin Thomas 4 years ago

    I’ll be very surprised if he makes a second attempt.

  4. Rum admirer ~ __/) ~ 4 years ago

    For those with curious minds:

    No doubt the ‘non-emergency’ tow took place after the CG crew realized their was value in saving Wil’s yacht and his excellent quality Rum.

    Good on ya Wil, smart move ; )

  5. Curt Taras 4 years ago

    Maybe Chubby Girl can sail down to LA first as a test before Hawaii.

  6. Philip Miller 4 years ago

    A good call by Wil to request CG assist. Have to improve sailing performance before re-attempt IMO.

    • Joseph DiMatteo 4 years ago

      How much do you think his assistance cost? IMHO if you are going to try a stunt like this you should have plans for private assistance. Pay for a membership in SeaTow that has a $5000 towing allowance anywhere in the world. Or have a seaworthy boat shadow your trip. Or try having a seaworthy vessel you are attempting your stunt on. I like how the Kiwi’s would have handled this – Chubby Girl would have never been allowed to leave the dock.

  7. barry spanier 4 years ago

    when i get back to BMC i’d love to help you if i can.
    change the rig to junk.
    ditch the outboard. sculling oar or oars in oarlocks. should be enough for evasion. no gasoline, less weight, more food instead.
    contact Joe Kool and get a great kite setup. be lifted and towed. would be way more dry and comfortable. Joe has massive experience and I’m sure he would love to be involved. he’s on FB.
    consider that the oars might also serve as amas of sorts with inflatable stabilizer ends. would limit rolling, a chubby trimaran. when Arnaud De Rosnay went from the Marquesas to Ahe’ on his windsurf board, he took his mast and used it with floats to stabilize the board, laid down surrounded by a small inflatable ring thing, and flew kites, which actually took him most of the way, mostly laying down.
    also consider installing a bouyant ring around the Girl, like Walker Bay dinghies have, kinda like a Chubby pool floaty.
    and never ever ever give up.
    i honor your effort.

    • Jeff Canepa 4 years ago

      Hello BARRY from the Big Island(California). Good advice, Wil’s a good man and his goal is clearly attainable.

      ~ __/) ~

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