Transpac: The Return

By Bob LaBine

Sat August 05, 2023 – Fueled up.
Grabbed an extra 132gal of fuel and secured to the deck and lifelines – needed to motor through the Pacific High. The planned departure is Sun, August 6, 2023.

Sun August 06, 2023 – And we are off!
Left Honolulu at 8:08am. Motor sailed to the northeast edge of Oahu and set sail for home—wind at 13 knots.

Mon August 07, 2023
We are heading north to get to the north side of the Pacific so we can beam reach across to the mainland. Close hauled about 65 degrees off the wind.

Tue August 08, 2023
Heading north, close-hauled about 65 degrees off the wind. 18-21kts consistently with gusts to 25kts. Triple reefed, making 5-6kts into the waves at 10′. Still adjusting to conditions, but one is ill. Lost mainsail out haul last night, furled the main, and finished the night sailing on jib only – made repairs in the morning; all is good.

Wed August 09, 2023

Still making our way north and looking and waiting for the Pacific High. Believe it’s forming as we speak; it’s predicted to be spread out, and we plan to motor through much of it and catch favorable winds east of it — time will tell. 2:29 pm Turned to the east, still windy, sails double reefed. The Pacific Crossing Diet is working. Bob and Kerri: Hawaiian rolls, cheese sticks, and bananas. Larry and Tyler are sick.

Thu August 10, 2023 – Found the Pacific High

Motoring at 7kts in calm seas, 3′ waves, and 4kts of wind. Our 5th crew member, Auto Pilot, broke down last night. Larry crawled into the stern locker & fixed it this morning. Crew feeling more normal. Turned on propane with talks of a warm dinner tonight. It is another beautiful day on this big blue ball we call Earth. No shoes, no worries, be happy!

Fri August 11, 2023 – In the High

Everyone held down our first meal last night, Beyond burgers, except Larry, who had a ground beef burger. The fridge is completely dead now, so we moved what we could into the freezer. We must plan what to eat and pull it out before bed, so it is thawed when we come on shift. 2nd day of motoring in the high, light winds, calm seas, beautiful sky, clouds & water. Occasional flock of flying fish, or is it a school? And that bird that shits all over the deck.

Sat August 12, 2023 – High Adventure

Always happens at the change of watch at night. We caught a fish…ing net. It’s not good, like a flat tire on a car. The engine revs suddenly, then decreases and varies. Bob is at the helm and shifts to neutral. All hands on deck! We had snagged a tangled fishing net. Dark 9pm: goggles, snorkel, flippers, diving knife, spotlight, safety harness, Larry goes for a swim. Thanks to Bob on the helm, Tyler with the underwater spotlight, tether by Kerri, & diving by Larry, we were underway in 1.5 hours. Start engine back up, check everything, all is good. Back to bed and shift. Three hours later, it’s 12am. Ahh, life on a boat! Moons out, hoping more clouds clear to see meteor showers.

Sun August 13, 2023 – Dry Cushions

Bob turns the radar on at first sign of squalls and during the night. Larry uses radar only to avoid land masses & hazards in poor visibility. Who knew it could also see rain? Very helpful at night to avoid small squalls – dry cushions and dry butts = happier crew. 3:30am and all is well. Chili last night for dinner, thanks to Chef Kerri. Expect the wind to pick up as we leave this four-day, high-pressure zone. It will be nice to turn off the iron genny and get back to quiet sailing. In a few hours, we will have been out for a week.

Radar helps see the squalls and rain.

Tue August 14, 2023 – Shooting Stars and Meteor Showers

You guessed it, not much happening at 3am out here. Mother Nature is putting on a fantastic show for us—clear night (the previous night was cloudy) with many stars and a meteor shower. Grab your popcorn. Wish you all could join us!

Tue August 15, 2023 – Micro Climates

Seems each cloud has its own micro-climate. Gusty winds & showers – hard to avoid. Spent the day pounding into the wind under motor. Have you ever been to Gilly’s in TX and ridden the mechanical bull? That is nothing compared to the last 24 hours. On the bull, you can fall off, or it turns off after a few minutes. Heck, even the pro riders are only on for a few seconds. A sailor is much better than any of them as you cannot turn off the wind; you could fall off, but that would mean the crew has to do a man-over-board rescue. It does not stop till it wants to. You’re along for the ride.

Wed August 16, 2023 – Woo Hoo, Good News

We have officially passed the halfway point. Except for Bob and Larry, they are ¾ of the way as they sailed the boat to HI! The bad news is that it took us +9 days to get here. Projected arrival date is 24-25 August. Enter a new time zone. Found the wind we had been motoring towards. Sail on! Eat, sleep, sail, repeat.

Thu August 17, 2023-  Don’t Say It (Wind)

Playing cat and mouse with the wind, one hour you have it, one hour you don’t. LA tropical cyclone Hillary should not be an issue for us, and thanks for all of the concern. After many days of fluky wind, I believe we have reached a point where it will be favorable and reasonably steady for the next several days.

Fri August 18, 2023 – From the North

Wind angles are expected to be steady from the north. Adjusting sails & course accordingly. Another day, nothing but ocean. A couple of cargo ships pass nightly, indicating we must be on the correct course! You know you have been on the water a while when 5′ seas feel calm. Larry filled his water bottle and forgot to turn the faucet completely off. That’s what happens when it’s late and you are tired. Tyler hears something and gets up. He and Kerri, who is on watch, get out the towels and mop up the cabin sole. Do we still have enough water to get there?

Sat August 19, 2023 – Another Day

Not Ground Hog Day again, as some believe. It is Kerri’s birthday! One she will never forget. Is that a good thing or bad? Sailing at 5-6 knots in 10-12 knots of wind, 4-6′ swell and 2′ wind waves. Overcast skies but no expected rain. We see the tropical Cyclone forming off of Mexico, but it’s not affecting us, except the winds we are enjoying, and likely on their way to feed the Cyclone.

Sun August 20, 2023 – E-Ticket Ride

Boat is sailing well, dealing with 12′ swell and a 3′ chop in 15kt winds. She’s making 6-7kts in these conditions and sees 8kts during 19-21kt gusts. Watched cloud system approach; it brought 24kt winds. E-Ticket reference: A SoCal term originating from a decades-old ticketing system at Disneyland; E-Tickets were for the most exciting rides.

Sun August 20, 2023 – 18kts on the Beam

Exhausted! That sums up the last 24 hours. Imagine wind waves and speed from the TV show Deadliest Catch in Alaska, except no TV lights and cameras to see what is coming. Sailing along, and suddenly, swoosh, a wave hits the side of the boat and comes over the top, and everything is soaked, including you! Sunday is time for a good family-style dinner: meatloaf and mashed potatoes! Ah, that was good and needed. Current situation: Sailing 6-7kts, plowing nicely through the seas with 18kts on the beam, triple reefed main and jib for frequent +20kt gusts. Onward ’till dawn – we are headed home!

Mon August 21, 2023 – Daily Navigation Report

If you do not close the hatches and lock them down, the inside of the boat will get wet. Yep, need some sunny, dry days to dry out the cushions. Another beautiful sunrise, if it was on this side of the clouds! 5′ seas, 12kt wind. Life is good.

Lat 32 25.571N / Long 128 05.100W
Travel so far: 1,886.9nm / Travel to go: 495.4nm / Engine time to date: 140.3hrs

Fuel stats: 30hrs estimated remaining runtime, 9hrs runtime needed to re-charge batteries, 5hrs wind projected, need about 17hrs remaining runtime

Current ETA August 25, 2023, between 6am-9am Long Beach, CA time.

Wed August 23, 2023 – Looks Good on Paper

Predict Wind projects fairly steady winds out of the north-west. Looks favorable, but only 10-11kts. Running downwind in 10kts of wind is worse than watching grass grow – it is more like how do we get this grass to grow at all. Currently have the asymmetrical spinnaker up but making only 5kts at about 140 degrees off the wind. Oops, we are out of water. Thought we could make it the whole way. No problem. Pull out the water maker and run it a few hours to fill the front water tank. Had a friend join on board for a few hours a yellow-headed/breasted bird, and the rest of it was black. No way it flew out this far by itself. Must have hitched a ride on another boat and then decided to fly the coop and try our boat. Larry said, “Don’t feed the bird; I don’t want more bird shit all over the boat.” When Kerri came on shift and saw the bird, I told her Larry said don’t feed it. Her response was “not much”. Haha!

Thu August 24, 2023 – Less than 90nm to Catalina

It is always a great day when a pod of dolphins follows you. Lifted everyone’s spirits. A sailing salutation, “Fair Winds and Following Seas,” means have a safe/comfortable sailing voyage. We have following seas and winds from a favorable direction out of the west. But the winds are only 4-5kts. So that means we should be able to sail to Catalina in about 7days. Thank goodness for the iron genny and a prudent reserve of fuel.

Thu August 24, 2023 – Nope, Not This Way

Just when we are making progress and counting the hours till we dock, the Navy comes on the radio and announces preprogrammed live firing exercises ahead. We must make a 25-mile detour. If we do not change course, we risk being blown up. So, Bob and Kerri adjusted to the new course. For you sailors out there, when the military gives you a new course, is it true, magnetic or PSC? Answer next time we see you. The Navy had also re-routed a freighter that passed about 1nm ahead of us. Bob & Kerri thought they could save time and fuel by ‘cutting the corner’ and taking the same heading after the freighter crossed in front of us. But the Navy would not have it. They quickly motored to the coordinates they wanted us to maneuver around and sat there until we arrived. OK, now we can turn and get back on course. Up goes the sails, and away we go!

The return crew: Kerri, Tyler, Larry and Bob.

Fri August 25, 2023 – LAND HO!

We had great wind across the Beam until we rounded Catalina Island around midnight. Time to start up the iron genny again and motor sail the rest of the way. We had plenty of fuel thanks to the great wind last evening. The approach to Long Beach was through Angels Gate, a beautiful site. Once inside the gate: sails down, final packing, dock lines, and fenders ready—less than an hour to go. 8:15am DOCKED.

Gear off the boat and over to the rent-a-car facility. Bob goes inside for the rental, leaving Kerri and Tyler outside with duffle bags stacked against a nice professional building. You guessed it, here come the police, stopping to ensure these “homeless” people had a place to go and would not stay there.

It was a long voyage with no showers for the last week, layers of clothes on to keep warm, and beanie caps on our heads; yep, we looked the part.

Thanks to all of you who followed along on our journey. Till the next one!