Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Crew

Marina Park 

I have to assume you all have heard that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol will be handing over the helm to managing the city of Newport Beach moorings fields on July 1st 2017.

Local resident Dennis Durgan has been working hard over the last two weeks in preparation of becoming the new Harbor Master. This task is challenging with Durgan putting in long days getting ready for the up coming watch change. My understanding is that the first six months, of Durgan watch, is being referred to as a trial period.

Harbor Master Dennis Durgan
One of the many tasks involved is preparing a fleet of three boats that will monitor the moorings and provide assistance to boaters. The conceptual work example is based from the harbor patrol in Avalon and other anchorages in Catalina. The City has owned a 19-foot center console Boston Whaler named “ Clean Sweep” that has been renamed Harbormaster 1. Harbormaster 1 has recently received engine service, new fenders, VHF radio, radar and chart plotter. The other two vessels the city has charted, from the Newport Aquatic Center, are catamaran coaching vessels. I have not heard yet what VHF channel the Harbor Service workers will be monitoring or how to call them over the VHF radio. If I was to guess, I would start with Channel 16 and call for “Newport Harbor Mooring Services” and follow their lead to another work channel.

The Harbormasters office will be located at Marina Park on the second floor under the Marina Services sign. Office work will include the transfer of mooring permits, the collection of mooring fees, auditing mooring permits for maintenance work, proof of documentation and insurance and assigning guest moorings. In front of Marina Park there will be a string of double ended moorings added to coincide with Marina Parks guest slips.

Other tasks Harbormaster Durgan will be assigned with will be enforcing many parts of the Newport Beach Municipal Code Title 17  I will assume Durgan will have to focus on 17.20 Vessel launching and Operation, 17.25.010 Docking Regulations, 17.25.020 Anchorage, Berthing and Mooring Regulations, 17.40 Live-Aboards, 17.45 Sanitation and 17.60.040 Mooring Permits. It is my understanding that Title 17 will be amended very soon to included the Duties of the Harbor Master and define their duties.

There are many unanswered questions floating around the harbor regarding this watch change. I keep hearing questions of why the watch change now? Why the urgency of this change and why was it placed on one of the two busiest days in the harbor? Why was the Harbor Commission not even given a chance to make any recommendations? One of the main duties of the Harbor Commission is to “Advise the City Council on proposed harbor related improvements.”
New Harbor Service boat.

If you’re wondering what my gut take is on the watch change? The bottom line is it will be better for the harbor in the long run. It has been more than obvious that the need for better code enforcement in the moorings and on the public docks is long over due. The largest task for Durgan will not just be developing the proper tools for the jobs, it will be how to define and implement Title 17. The sheriff department has implemented much of title 17 for a very long time and any type of change is going to ruffle feathers. Change is always going to produce the question of equality. One of the worst things that can happen would have the public reference the harbormaster as the mooring lord. This will not be an easy watch change and I have edited William Goldings quote for every harbor user “He who rides the water of our harbor must have sails woven of patience.”

Speaking of patience, during last weeks Harbor Commission meeting a commissioner asked the city council liaison why the communication line between commissioner and assigned council member shall be discontinued to further notice. The public should question their city council member on what happened and how will this be remedied.

Towards the end of the Harbor Commission meeting local Newport Beach activist Jim Mosher gave one of the kindest accolades to departing commissioner West that I have ever heard. I wish I could have quoted Mosher but the gist of his comment thanked West for his service to our harbor and that Mosher had never seen such positive change, for the better, in the Harbor Commission than the time he served as the chairman. Mosher hit the nail on the head and I should have started clapping with agreement and a final thank you to West.

Sea ya

Monday, June 12, 2017

1981 Trans Pac : Hawaii race has a long and storied history (This story is two years old)

Horizon Finishing the 2013 Trans Pac

On July 16, I will be starting my 10th sailboat race to Hawaii.
Seven of those races have been aboard Santa Cruz 50s, and this year I will be a watch captain aboard the Santa Cruz 50 Horizon. Because of my passion for this race and these boats, I looked back into history and found the first Trans Pac these boats raced in was 1981, and it was a race to remember.
Seven Santa Cruz 50s made it to the starting line in 1981, and they were the talk of the waterfront that summer. All the boats at that time were very similar, and it quickly became a race within a race among Chasch Mer, Night Train, Hana Ho, Oaxaca, Octavia, Shandu and Secret Love.
Two of these boats were from Newport Beach. Hana Ho and owner Morrie Kirk were sailing for the Balboa Yacht Club, and Michael Braun sailed Shandu for the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club/ Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
These crews were among the best sailing talent our harbor has ever assembled — fierce competitors all. Now blend in the personalities.
The crew aboard Hano Ho was made up of Kirk, skipper; Peter Isler, navigator; Dave Ullman, watch captain; and Bill Herrschaft, Tom Willson, Kevin Kirk, Jim Laws and Dennis Riehl. Aboard Shandu was Michael Braun, owner; Peter Willson, watch captain; LJ Edgcomb, navigator and MacGyver; Dennis Durgan, watch captain; and Bob Burns, Marshall "Duffy" Duffield, Rex Banks and Gordo Johnson.
To get a better feel of what happened during this epic battle, I was able to contact Kirk, Isler, Ullman, Riehl, Durgan, Duffield and Johnson.
The race started July 3. The boats had a westerly breeze of 12 to 15 to take off on. By the time the boats reached Catalina, the breeze was at 15 to 18 knots and had lifted the fleet around the only make in the course without tacking. Of the SC 50 fleet, Chash Mer was first to round the west end of Catalina in 3 hours 12 minutes, followed by Shandu, Secret Love, Octavia, Oaxaca and Hano Ho at 3:19.
On July 4, the breeze had eased some. The night before, Shandu's cheek block on the steering quadrant broke and the crew had to use their emergency tiller. Navigator Edgcomb quickly put on his MacGgyver hat and went to working fixing the problem.
The whole time Edgcomb was down below in the very back of the boat, the boat moved along at 11 knots with a reefed main and No. 2 head sail up. His repairs to the steering system lasted for the remained of the race. This is not the only time Edgcomb would need to throw on his MacGyver hat for Shandu to make it across the finish line.
On July 7, as the sun was setting, the SC 50 fleet wanted to make this race a party and start a boat-for-boat race until the end some 1,217 miles away. Shandu and Secret Love had been in contact from the second night out, and at sunset, Hano Ho appeared from the north and the party started.
That pitch-black night, the fleet started noticing trade wind squalls forming from behind them. This is when the nights of terror started, Duffield and Johnson recalled. After the first night of squalls, Shandu and Hano Ho pulled out in front of Secret Love by some 35 miles.
Duffield said, "This is when the winds started a blowin'."
Ullman recalled, "There was carnage everywhere across the fleet that night." Oaxaca was 20 miles farther south than the two lead boats.
Dennis Riehl talking with Gordo Johnson
Dennis Durgan said, "That's one of the best Trans Pacs as competitive sailing goes. You needed good drives and trimmers."
The Santa Cruz 50s were new to the race course at this time. Later deeper and better-designed rudders were added, and these have made the boats much easier to control. In 1981, these babies were a handful, and both boats were pushing hard to gain an advantage.
Ullman said, " It was like being in a one-design race, on a short course. It was getting pretty tiring. No one would even get a lead over a mile. You would just push, push and push then get nothing."
At this point, the boats were 940 miles from the finish.
"The only way we are going to take the big spinnaker down is if God takes it down." Duffield remembered thinking.
Riehl the decision was made to let only the four best drivers take the helm that night..
Duffield said, "Night was so intense."
Durgan remembered, "Scary, scary sailing pushing the boats that much harder. It was nuts, crossing gybes on those nights of terror."
At morning's light, there was Shandu right next to the Hano Ho, Riehl recalled.
Keep in mind both crews are from Newport Beach and most of them where all good friends and had grown up together. From my understanding, this is when the crews picked up the VHF radio and started talking to each other. The conversion started something like this. Shandu: Hey, did you guys keep up your big chute last night? Hano Ho: Yeah we were hoping you would do the smart thing and change down to your smaller spinnaker. Shandu: Was it scary? Hano Ho: Ya think!
Dennis talking with Michael Brau
Over the next three days and nights the boats rarely lost sight of each other. If one boat jibed the other boat would follow. If the other boat would change spinnakers and set a staysail so would they.
Around 2 a.m., referred to as one of the "nights of terror," Shundu lost a spinnaker crane at the top of the mast that held the halyard blocks. The first thought by the Shundu crew, was to take the spinnaker down and make the repair when they had daylight.
Well Edgcomb did not agree and was not about to lose any ground to his good buddies on the other boat. He grabbed the boatswain chair — a device used to suspend a person from rope to perform work aloft — and headed up the mast.
Can you see Durgan's face as he sat at the helm and Edgcomb said he was going up the mast? Durgan had to have replied, you want to go where? Edgcomb "MacGyver" then went up the mast with a bunch of kevlar line to make the repair.
"It looked something like that osprey next on that power boat on the moorings in front of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club today," Gordo Johnson said.
MacGyver had done it again and as Peter Isler said, "It was all on" from there on in.
Going into the last day, Shandu was in the lead with only 205 miles to the finish, Hano Ho had 211 miles to go. As the boats sailed past the big island, the VHF radio banter continued with the Hana crew asking who was driving and why they did not have their big spinnaker up. Shandu had lost their big chute a couple of nights before and Hano Ho still had theirs.
The sun went down and the two boats split jibes in the dark as they grew closer to the finish line. When the two boats arrived at Kalaupapa point on the island of Molokai they both made their final jibe for the finish line under a full moon with dolphins jumping from their bows.
Riehl, aboard Hana Ho, remembers first surviving the jibe and then looking to his right and seeing Shandu just 200 yards away on their starboard side bow to bow.
Gordo Johnson explained the situation like this: "Have you ever wondered what your boat looked like while surfing down huge waves with the bow of the boat out of the water all the way back to the keel? Water flying everywhere as the boat dropped into its third consecutive wave. Well, he said with a laugh, Hana Ho was right next to us and I can't tell you how many times we exchanged the lead while the other boat caught the next wave."
Morrie Kirk the owner of Hana Ho said, "We were close to those guys that's for sure."
Peter Isler aboard Hano Ho said, "I was on the helm at the jibe at Kalaupapa point. It was very intense and exhausting. Both boats were pumping their mains on every wave and the lead changed a number of times."
This all went on for more than an hour as the boats crossed Molokai channel and approached Coco head when the wind started to lighten up and Hana Ho pulled away with their larger spinnaker. Hano Ho crossed the finish line 1 minute and 35 seconds before Shandu crossed the line. Shandu won on corrected time by more than an hour but as you can guess, they wanted to be that first Santa Cruz 50 to finish.
The two boats had matched-raced some 1,217 miles over the four plus days. What a race.
Let's hope we have wind this year.

I have always wanted to put this story together and like the end of a movie I would like to tell some of the outtakes of the interview I did.

Marshall “Duffy” Duffield: “ The food Bob Burns prepared was extreme high end craziness, awesome beyond approach. Abalone lunches, large shrimp prawns for an appetizer before dinner, huge perfect steaks. The food was so good it was like being in front of the plane, you never wanted to go back of the plane again.”

“Hewlett Packard had provided the boat with its first GPS system and for the first time we received two fixes a day. The lights would start blinking on the machine and we could look up and see the satellites. Today we have all this on our watch.” he said with a deep laugh. “ Before we could step off the boats the guys with their white lab coats came down and took the machines off the boat and back to the lab.”

“Being on edge in the dark, Gordo and I were on the same watch and he would stand behind me and update me on the apparent wind angle. This was the only way we could keep from crashing on the nights of terror”

“I am glad I got the opportunity to be apart of this crew”

Morrie Kirk was able to sail the race with his 21 year old son Kevin Kirk and had that type of finish.  “I will remember that race and it was a lot of fun”

Dennis Durgan: “These boats were like riding in the car wash with all the water going over the boats.”  “It was pretty scary with the guy up on top of the rig at 3 in the morning.”
“Talking to the other boat on the VHF if their dinner compared to our Bob Burns special.”, “ The top of the mast was torn off.” 

Peter Isler: “This was my first Trans Pac, the first one is always the best one.”
“ We had the Allman Brothers Mountain Jam blazing on the cockpit speakers as we crossed the 
Molokai Channel.”, “ The third night out we had ice cream.”

Dave Ullman: “ At the Kalaupapa light house it was flat out, spectacular race, we spent lots and lots of time talking on the VHF.”, “ With this type of match racing we had lots of fun by far my favorite memories of Trans Pac racing.”

Dennis Riehl: “ We ate well, I can’t even explain how fortunate I was to be selected to go with this group.” 

Gordo Johnson: “Those Bob Burns sleeper steaks were killer, all those flavors and all that food would just make me want to sleep.” 

Lets hope we have wind this year.

Sea ya

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Holy Grail of yacht racing is underway (Written 07-19-11)

The Transpacific Yacht Race, simply known as the "Transpac," is the Holy Grail of yacht racing on the West Coast. The course starts in San Pedro and ends at Diamond Head, which is outside of Honolulu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu —2,225 nautical miles away.
There is a tremendous amount of history to this event and much of this history centers around Newport Harbor. Monday, July 4, marked the start of the 46th biennial race to Hawaii. The first race was in 1906.
I went around town this week and asked questions about the race to a few of the Transpac veterans we have in our harbor. I first stopped by to see Dave Ullman. He was getting ready to make his 11th Transpac crossing aboard the Holua, a Santa Cruz 70.
"This is the best crew I have ever sailed this race with," Dave told me. "The race plays out within the first 36 hours. And if you hook up with group of boats on Day 3 and you are in the lead, it only gets better."
Dave sailed his first Transpac in 1963 aboard his father's boat, the Legend, which was recognized as one of the first "light displacement" boats to a first in class and 10th overall. The yacht had a long history at the Balboa Yacht Club and won the 1957 Transpac with Charles Ullman at the helm.
When I asked Dave what keeps bringing him back to the race, he replied: "It's the premier race on the West Coast and I have had some exciting finishes over my 11 races."
My next stop was with Tom Corkett.
Tom won the race overall in 1963 aboard the Islander. His Transpac victory that year is one of the classic stories. The way I understand it, Tom walked out of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club one afternoon, recruited five of his friends, and won the race. He was only 21.
afternoon, recruited five of his friends, and won the race. He was only 21.
Tom has raced in 14 Transpacs and has won his class many times over the years. He was aboard the Windward Passage in the famous 1977 race, and was dismasted in 1967 aboard the Salacia, his Cal 48.
"We were winning the race with 700 miles to go and we stuffed the spinnaker pole into the water," Tom said. "We jury-rigged the boat and still beat a couple of boats to the finish line."
When I asked him about what was his most memorable part of the race, he replied: "Your first land sight. There is nothing better."
My last stop was with Bob Dickson who has sailed in 16 Transpacs. He started in 1953. Bob's most memorable race was in 1965 aboard the Ticonderoga.
"We won the race, first to finish, with a 29-year-old," Bob told me.
The 1965 Transpac was one of the truly great Honolulu races with one of the closest finishes. Only five minutes separated Ticonderoga from the runner-up, the Stormvogel.
When I asked Bob what was the best part of the race, he replied: "Just finishing in Hawaii."
I will be back next time — my column now runs every other week — with an update of the race and the start of one of the classic battles in Transpac history. For more information on this year's race, go and look for the race tracker.
Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Trans Pac 2007 aboard the N/M 55 BOLT ( Written in 2007)

N31/29 W121 Friday July 13. Wow, Friday the 13th and the Nuts on "BOLT" are sailing the boat well and working hard.Now as I write this the crew is placing a reef in the main with the jib top up in 17 knots of breeze and we are heading straight for our waypoint. 
Yesterday at the start of the race Carson had a very good start at the  committee boat. Clear skies, news helicopters, chase boats all around us. The crew of Bolt all had smile's as we felt the freedom of the race starting and we were out of the gate so well. We laid Catalina on starboard tack with 21knots of breeze and our # 3 up. Long night with good breeze everyone was getting their sea legs and gearing up for battle. One funny moment came when Dan Gribble was coming down the companion way and his life jacket inflated and he found himself stuck between the galley stairs. You had to hear his voice "OOOOOOOMAN, That not right!”

Things are well on the boat as we are half way of day two living sideways.


N 29/57 W 125/40 Saturday July 14 1&1 at roll call today to say the less things at GREAT on BYC 1, I am referring to the boat as BYC 1 because the owner Craig Reynolds is the commodore of the Balboa Yacht Club this year, today. BOLT is holding up very well and everyone game face is on because we all no very well that early positive results are not necessarily good for the end game. The key to this one will be to hang in there when the results change. Everyone is back at full speed and the sea sickness is a thing of the past. Today we have been battling light breeze 5-10 knots out of the north we have the 1A up with a staysail and full main. Next couple of days will tell the story for us.  


N28/37 W128/10 Sunday July 15  Long day with lots of sun, some rain clouds, and light breeze. We spent most of the day gybing back and forth to try and keep on or course of 222. Mike Pinckney has done a good job keeping us in faze and or hopes up. We know we are skirting the high way to close, like Len has said, " It's the ticket we bought" and we are working hard in the light breeze. We just crossed LUCKY DOG with us heading to the left and the dog gybing behind us as we go into the night of day four. Roll call will be hard on us tomorrow, although the crew is gelling together and I am confident of our performance.

Bolt Crew

N27/42 W129/22 Monday July 16 Tough day on BYC 1 today we have a light breeze 1-4 knots, with the occasional fish swimming carelessly along, lots of sun, rich blue waters with misty white clouds all around. Yes, we got to close to the Pacific High and we are down to a very short stack. If we were playing chess we moved our queen out to early and have got slapped in the head. The odds of winning the game from here is very slim, but amazingly the crew on BOLT are in high spirits and made our play with the poker face of a pro. Our strategy is now to salvage what we can and find some wind some how some way and get to the finish intact.ALL IN ALL the BOLT crew is GREAT, happy and safe.
BYC 1 Out! 

N27/08 W 132/24 Wednesday July 18. After most of the day in light breeze we now believe we have found more breeze and have made it through the high! When the breeze came in, the crew jumped and we now have the 2A and a staysail up and doing 8 kt at the barn. The crew is in great sprits and many a good yarn has been spun.
We look to an a approaching weather system in hopes of more wind and MAYBE a chance to catch up although slim we can hope.
Its fun to sail with Carson and to have watched him grow up at Balboa Yacht Club. He shows good leadership skills and looks for advice to achieve his goal. He has stayed focused and wants to finish the race with a strong effort and good times.
Lets hope with a little luck we can get a day back on the leaders.

N 26/W139 Friday July 20. Good breeze and good times yesterday. Under clear skis and 17-23 Knots of breeze with the 2A up the competition began for the top boat speed. Pinckney took the early lead with a 16.8 knot ride, about 2 hours latter Gunner Torre took a Commanding lead with a 18.7. This contest is taken very series and holds all the clucking rights on the dock after the race. There has been many a time were I have wished for less wind for the rest of the race and have been VERY disappointed to be beaten. So when Pinckney came back at the end of the day with a 19.5 Gunner let out a load " shoooooot" when the number was read.Gunner was then out of his bunk for another trick at the wheel and looking for the next big wave.
Well, Pinckney has the top speed for now. Mike is one of the top sailor in the country and he has been a huge help to us on this trip. While in the high, Mike kept pushing looking for any wind shift, changing sails and keeping things on the light side. He always cleaning up and going the extra mile to get the best out of the boat. He has also been coaching our gov cup team so I have been taking notes on what makes those little boats go for next weekend club champs. We are very lucky to have such a person on BOLT this year.


N24/W147 Sunday. Hot! Hot! Hot! Slow going in light breeze was our weekend progress. 2A up most of the time with three to four gybes a day. While on board there is a lot of time spent in cleaning the boat, moving ballast from one side of the boat to the other, preparing meals and sailing.
Bud Elam is taking care of all food, ships operations, taking his watch and roll call. Bud starts his day at 6:00 PST with the position of the boat and spend the next two hours going through roll call and position reports and then updates the crew. After this task has been completed Bud moves on to feeding the crew breakfast and then making sure all the batteries are fully charged. Next Bud takes his turn on watch and its soon time for dinner and making water. We all have been feed very well and Bud is well organized and complete his task effortlessly. Bud is an interracial link to team Bolt and always in high sprits with an edge for competition.

Another part of the boat is keeping the engine running that allows up to keep the batteries charged, water maker running and the refrigeration cold. The man for this task is Dan Gribble. Dan the owner of Boatswains Locker and the key sponsor of the Governors Cup. Dan runs with German precision always on watch on time with coffee or water and keeps his mind on what makes the boat go fast.
We are now 560 miles to finish line and its looking like Wednesday sometime. Of course Dan and I have flights out that day and its not looking to good for us. NEXT is the Molokai Channel,normally always windy and one of the biggest challenge of the race.
BYC1 Out

N/23W/150 Monday July 23. Hard day on BOLT today. When you have made your move then, get crossed/passed, you still are looking for a chance to make a move. Now that people, from your class, are finishing the game is over and we still have two and a half days to get to the finish. Thats a hard day! Although the crew is working well together you would like to nock over the queen and play the next game. Not in sailing, we are playing it out, working every shift and making every sail change.
The person behind all these sail changes is our bow man Terry Young. Terry is by far the hardest worker on the boat and leads the charge on every sail change. He is up the mast, out on the spinnaker pole or hanging upside down from a spreader for fun. Thats Terry Young, BOLTS bowman and I would go to battle anytime with Terry on the Bow!

N21/W152 Tuesday July 24 Everything going well on BOLT Last night we had good breeze and a number of sail changes. With the thought of Mai Tais and our loved ones the crew of BOLT last night went through three spinnaker changes, six gybes and endless spinnaker and main pumping. We are now 250 miles from the finish line and down to the Cup Noodles and water with some apples and oranges, mixed nuts and we are working hard to get in.
Speaking of working hard Commodore Reynolds has been standing his watch, cooking, cleaning and talking his trick on the wheel. You can see our race results has not pleased him although with a deep breath, big smile and a reminder its time to change the spinnaker he is always in the game. Myself I can be so lucky to hear a crew member say "Hey DAD" maybe I will hear my son tell me I am sailing to low and to heat it up someday when I am the skipper of a boat in the Trans Pac. Its been a good time watching them banter in tense and in the lighter moments, the high fives and the private conversions. I can only hope I am so lucky.
This has been a good trip and good times. Last night at sunset, I could only see the outline of Craig " Hey Craig, THANKS" he replied with his deep laugh.

I will do a recap on the finish and lessons learned on my flight home.


American Airlines Flight 270 Hawaii to LAX Friday July 27. The movie is playing and there is a seen when the family in the story gathers around each other for a group huge. Well! Thats all it took for me before my eyes watered up and I came inches from the stuttered deep breath. I miss my son much it hurts deeply. I cant tell why the need to go to sea is within me and why I continue to allow this type of pain. Missing any moment during of the early father son is truly selfish on my part and unwise.

So why do inflect this type of pain to myself with the need to go to sea during these priceless years? For me it the ultimate battle with strategy, physical effort, team camaraderie, and tactical challenges. Strategy is the direction I find myself leaning towards be over the years my physical effort grows weaker each year.

Trans Pac The Yacht Race ( Written in 07)


I am all in for my seventh Transpac race and ninth race to Hawaii. What have I learned, how do I get ready and will I ever do it again?
Have I done well in this race? No! 3rd in a class of eleven SC 50’s was OK, but that was a Pacific Cup. In 1991 we won the fabulous 50's fleet Ok but not in the history book. So, what have I leaned?

I’ve always felt the race was made up in thirds with 1/3 boat preparation, 1/3-weather strategy, 1/3 sailing skills. In 2003 I had the weapon of choice a J 125 sailing double-handed. The mistake made was boat preparation. Even a boat less than four years old you need to take the rig down and have professional rigger inspect everything from the mast to the rudderpost. Our electric system was well managed and our sail inventory was complete. We lacked practice with the autopilot and shifting gears. We did however take proper precaution to keep the boat dry by resealing all port lights, hatches, stanchions, winches, sail tracks and pad eyes. The result was an incomplete race and a broken rudder bearing that made us return to the mainland after the first night of the race. In 1993 we did not monitor crew weight and at the end of the race we found one of the crew had brought his dive gear with him. That same year, we were throwing pounds of coffee overboard and a number of other provisions because we had horribly over provisioned the boat. Another mistake made is to over crew the boat; I think we had ten people on the boat that year. In latter years we were down to a lean crew of six and crew bag inspection. In 1995 at the end of the race we found a full water tank on the port side of the boat our results were improving although we where still not in the cheese. One of the largest parts of boat preparation is the proper attention to boat measurement for the rating system you are sailing in. Take the time and optimize your boat for measurement don’t assume your old rating has the proper weight of your boat this is a HUGE MISTAKE. Alcohol has NO place on a Transpac Yacht. Why do you think there are Mai Tais at the end of the race?

Only the driver and the sail trimmers are in the cockpit anyone else better be in the middle of the boat or weather rail, pee in the head, sleep in the middle of the boat and on the high side. Sails should be stacked on the weather rail. Constant attention must be placed on the movable ballast this race is weight sensitive and without this attention to boat preparation you’re just on another cruise to Hawaii or aboard a ship of fools.

How do I prepare, what to bring, and how to stay out of trouble. Once you have agreed and signed on as crew you are in the service of that captain. Make sure ASAP that you will get along with EVERYONE on the boat. You need to go the extra mile, make all the practices on the schedule, put in work party time and be ready. I go to the doctor and the dentist before a race. I bring a small shower bag for my new older age with Tums, sunscreen, Aleve, Deodorant and tooth brush. The boat should supply toothpaste, baby-wipes and soap. No later than the third day you need to start a hygiene routine. If your lucky your body will be on it’s normal routine and once you are you feel ALOT better. Oh yes, clean the toilet when your done with it, and most people really don’t care how hard you had to work in there. No later than day 5, and if your lucky its warm, you will have to man up and take the bucket for a salt water shower. The ship should have a bottle of Joy for bathing. KEEP YOUR STUFF IN YOUR SEA BAG!

The first six days are normally cold and at night I wear padded shorts, t-shirt, long underwear, fleece bottom and top and a heavy jacket along with my foul weather gear plus life harness hat, gloves, wet suit socks with wet suit slippers, no boots. I have a watch that glows at night, a small personal flashlight. I also have a water tight VHF and keep it on your body. You should also keep a good knife on your body. For the day I wear my padded shorts, T-shirt, Jacket, and foul weather pants, and harness. So in my bag you will find five pairs of underwear, four t-shirts, fleece, long underwear, two pair of padded shorts, extra pair of sunglasses. I place my foul weather gear, heavy jacket and life harness on a hanger. This will keep your bag small on arrival and expectable to the skipper..

I have a hard time having someone wake me up so I get myself up twenty minutes before my watch. I then make some coffee or have some dark chocolate, get dressed and make it on watch ten minutes early. When I am off watch, I sleep until I am charged up again. Keep on schedule letting people sleep late is not good for you our the crew as a whole. Wake your off watch partner up ten minutes before his shift and get back on deck until your partner is on watch. If your watch partner is late for shift you might ask them to please be on time or ask your watch captain to kick them in the butt. Being repeatedly tardy for watch for any reason is completely unacceptable, unless you are the Navigator and if that’s your partner you just have to deal with it. If it’s your turn to cook, you do it off watch, clean off watch, shit off watch.

Now the part on how to deal with the asshole. Every boat will have one and unless you are a watch Captain it not your problem. Keep your negative comments to yourself. Don’t get caught up in the conversation about who wins the pillow award or when is that guy going to take a shower, etc. If your watch is not responding to gear changes it is the watch captain reasonability and he is the one that must answer to the Captain. The golden rule is what happens on the boat stays on the boat. Keep your mouth shut and concentrate on your duties and back up your crewmates.

Keep moving during your watch if you sit still it makes it that much harder to get up again. Walk to the mast, look for chaff, clean the sheets up, trim, and keep your eyes on course, the wind, and boat speed. Ask yourself what sail will we go to next if it gets windy or if the wind goes down, what sheets will I need, pole trim, main trim keep your mind on sailing fast and talking about boat speed and the big puff coming in from behind is always good.

The Navigator and the skipper are the ones making the calls stay away from the navigator’s table that’s his space. Don’t eat your meals at the navigator’s table just stay away from that spot. If they are a good navigator they will give the crew a report each day. Personally, All I need is what place we are in. Some navigators will go into much more detail.

One of the two hardest parts about Transpac is that you will have to sail the first three days setting up for the weather ridge and you might be low in the results, keep fighting it really is a good thing. The other hard part is the last three days knowing what place you will finish in. If you’re in the tank that’s hard because it’s getting hotter and the boat is getting smaller. Keep in mind at this point you still have the personal challenge of the Molokai Channel and how well will you drive or perform at this point of the race is a big achievement. As you approach the last hundred and fifty miles, stay out of the sun off watch, drink a lot of water, get your rest, get ready for the big battle with the channel. There has been many of race I did’nt drive as well, as I new I could, and this bothered me more than what placed we finished.

Once the race is over and you can see straight again its time to clean the boat and hand it over to the delivery crew. You need to bust your butt and sweet it out and clean the boat up, get it done and party on.

Yes, I have always had a dream of doing the race with my son and I think I will keep race 10 for that reason. Of course if someone brings me an offer of a double handed on a very well prepared boat?... well, maybe?


Trans Pac "Back in the Day"

Larry Somers 1981 Trans Pac aboard Jubilee

I am writing this story on Tuesday July 14 and will be starting the Trans Pac race from Point Fermin, San Pedro to Diamond Head on the Island of Oahu on Thursday the 16th. While writing my last story regarding the battle between Hana Ho and Shandu in the 1981 Trans Pac I kept running into the name of Larry Somers while completing my research. Somers was the communications chairman for the Trans Pac Yacht Club for many years and I thought interviewing him would make for a good story.

The Somers family dates back into the early 1900 where his grandfather was the commodore of the Los Angles Yacht Club in 1916 and the Cal Yacht Club in 1925. His grandfather also competed in the Olympics in 1928 in Holland sailing 8 Meters. His mother was also very active in sailing and the family purchased a beach house between I and J street on the Balboa Peninsula where he grew up. As a kid he participated in the Newport Harbor Yacht Clubs junior program.

In the 1957 his father Harvey Somers sailed with the Farwell family aboard their 85’ schooner Sea Drift. During this race the Somers family took the Matson lines SS Lurline to Hawaii. “During the race we were able to make our way into the radio room and obtain the race reports and keep updated on the race.” Somers said.

In 1965 Somers met Peter Davis and sailed with him in that years Trans Pac aboard the 65 foot cutter Orient. Davis later became commodore at the NHYC in 1971 where Somers worked with Davis in the sail fleet committee. During this time Walter Hoffman was the Communications Chairman and he was ready to pass his task over to the next and up coming volunteer. This is when Peter Davis brought Somers into the loop and he started his first Trans Pac as communications chair in 1981. Somers was activated as the Communications Chairman during the 1976 Tahiti Race for the TPYC, he also worked the 1978 Tahiti race.
Sumers, Baldwin & Steele

The communications chair responsibilities are always changing and it’s a very important part of the race. Grant Baldwin, for most of the years Somers was working, was the voice over the radio taking the daily position reports. The person behind the scene was Somers who would be inputting the positions into an Apple computer, yes there were personal computers in the 1970’s, and from there they would have Latitude, Longitude, Miles from San Pedro, Miles to Honolulu,  PET (Projected Elapsed Time), PCT (Projected Corrected Time) and Handicap Positions. What this all means is the competitors and the spectators, back home, would have daily reports on what place their boats are in.

I cannot tell you how hard it was to fall asleep when you just got off watch at 0700 when the navigator would turn on the Single Side Band Radio at 0730. The SSB sounded like going online during the early dial up internet service days and then trying to sleep through all the moans and groans of the navigator while they where plotting out the fleet during roll call. Roll call started at 0800 and by 1100 each day Baldwin and Somers would broadcast your standings. A very important part of your day while racing in the Trans Pac.

Somers did six crossing on different escort boats ranging from 1981 Dick Steele's 60’ motor sailor Jubilee that was later named Jamboree by a different owner in 1989. In 1985 he sailed aboard a 65 foot Hood Motor sailor and in 1983 and 87 sailed on Orange Coast College Alaska Eagle. Somers saved the biggest boat for last in 1991 aboard Hawkeye a 105 foot motor yacht. 

“ All the trips were business like and yet a lot of fun. Like most racers the first one is always the one you remember and the 1981 run aboard Jubilee with Dick Steal, Grant Baldwin, Gary Hill and Billy Buckingham was one of my favorites. We would work in the morning, sail in the afternoon and motor sail at night all the time monitoring the radio.” Somers said.

Both Somers and I agree that with SSB radios being fazed out to emails and satellite phones we are losing a favorite tradition to the race and that is group communications . Let’s just hope that todays organizers can find a way to keep that tradition alive maybe with FaceTime in the future. I have to give a big thank you to Larry Somers for taking almost an hour with me sharing his story.

Right now, on Horizon, the weather is not cooperating. We will be starting the race and if we cannot get into any wind by Sunday we will have to make a tough decision on whether or not to withdraw from the race or slug it out. Keep an eye on us on the Trans Pac website yellow brick tracking system at

Wish us good wind and following seas!

Sea ya

Monday, June 05, 2017

On the Harbor: Shannon Levin leaves a legacy

Shannon Levin

In 2008, Shannon applied for the Harbor’s supervisor position. “I wanted the job and attended Harbor Commission meetings, researched the Harbor Codes and studied the harbor and bay elements of the general plan,” she said. After three interviews, she received the job and immediately went to work on beach maintenance programs for Balboa Island and China Cove. She was tasked with field surveys, permit applications, creating dredge profiles, hiring contractors, scheduling the work and on-site project management.
I then asked Shannon what has changed in the harbor over the last nine years? “The last six or seven years we’ve had many high-profile projects with multiple revisions of the harbor code, mooring codes and fees. We collected input from the Harbor Commission, City Council, along with political and capital interest,” she said.
Shannon went on to explain that one of the most difficult annual tasks in Harbor Resources is chasing the sea lions around the harbor and how relentless they can be. I changed topics and asked which of her projects is she most proud of? “My hallmark project was opening Marina Park – setting rents, staffing, creating rules/policies, training and procedures.” 
When asked what advice she would leave her replacement she said, “Managing public resources is a balance of making decisions based on what the community wants and how to best allocate the resources. It is a fine line and you just do the best that you can to give the general public the best use of them.”
We than talked about her new job as Dana Point Harbor’s manager. How it is similar but different with less hands-on operations and maintenance, more contract administration and leases. Shannon will be the go-to person for the harbor and county agencies. She will also be in touch with many of her contacts in the Coastal Commission, Boating and Waterways and Water Quality board.
She will be bringing with her the understanding of high profile complex projects. “If you work hard everything has a solution, be transparent and fair then everything seems to fit in the puzzle
Will we still see you around town? “I’ll still be around and I will be more relaxed, I will no longer have to keep an eye out for things that have to be fixed on Monday,” Shannon said.
Now that I reflect over the last year and a half, Shannon has found solutions to difficult problems. She is extraordinarily good with her presentations to government agencies and acknowledges work well done. At the same time, I clearly recall the days I made a few too many mistakes and took mind not to repeat those mistakes.
Shannon Levin is my friend and I will miss her and at the same time it always feels good to watch a friend move on to a better opportunity.
Sea ya
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.