Voyage of Traveler / Blog

January 16, 2012

Voyage of Traveler: A Three Year Circumnavigation 2007-2010

Voyage of Traveler: A Three Year Circumnavigation 2007-2010
Part 1 of 4 (Click the Play button on the screen and then the video will begin after 40 seconds.)


Part 2 of 4


Part 3 of 4


Part 4 of 4


August 5, 2011

Traveler’s Position Report August 5

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 10:17 pm

Traveler’s Position Report
August 5 at 1100 PDT
31-34 N, 154-54 W
Wind and Seas easing, 9 knots from ESE
Course: 020
Speed: 5.2

That is great news about Hurricane Eugene losing strength and being downgraded to a tropical storm, as it moves into cooler water. Also, it is so far away that is of little consequence to us directly. That is a big relief, especially to my crew, some of whom were quite concerned about being at sea with (as of yesterday) a hurricane four days away and headed toward us. We can expect some big swells from it, but that will not be a problem for us.

The Pacific High is near, and we are considering starting the engine and motor sailing with the jib furled and getting maybe another half knot or so of speed out of the main. With the engine running, we have power to make water with our watermaker, about 13 gals. per hour, and the engine heats the water, so we can enjoy taking a nice deck shower every day.

Our speed just dropped, as I am writing this, to 4 knots. Between our main tank (117 gallons) and the ten 5-gal. jerry jugs of diesel tied down to the deck, we have enough fuel to motor over 900 miles, so we might as well fire up the Yanmar. Under power, we will cruise at 8 knots.

Erik is no longer sea sick. He thinks he lost three or four pounds, but will likely gain it back over the next week. Natalie is so ready to get off the boat and onto dry land. This is only her second time on a boat, the first being a day sail out of Newport on Traveler in pleasant conditions. For the past 6 days we have been beating to windward, heeled way over, and pounding in 4 to 6 foot seas, into 15 to 20 knots of wind, with reefed sails and waves washing back over the deck and all the hatches closed tightly causing it to be unbearably hot and humid below. So the calmer conditions are welcomed.

The speed just now dropped down further to 3.6 knots. I opened the hatches in the salon and immediately it is a pleasant temperature with a much-welcomed light breeze down below.

We just spotted another sailboat about 4 miles behind us, and they answered when I called them on Ch 16. Their boat is named “Klondike” and they are headed from Hanalei Bay to Santa Cruz (mutual friend Skip Allen).

“Brian, start the engine, please. Let’s furl the jib. Set the autopilot for a new course of 055.”

This marks the beginning of the second of three legs of our delivery of Traveler back home to Newport Beach. The first leg was beating from Niihau north then northeast up toward the Pacific High for about 650 miles. This leg we are on now will be motoring across the southern edge of the High for about 850 miles over five days, to about 35 N, 155 W. The third and final leg will be sailing from there, hopefully with a good breeze just aft of the beam, for the final 1000 miles. Total distance, about 2500 nautical miles, which is slightly more than 1/10th of the way around the world at the equator.

We are still a long way out, so subject to change, our arrival date looks like August 18.

Living the Dream,

August 2, 2011

Traveler Position Report August 2, 2011

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 3:44 pm

Traveler Position Report
August 2, 2011 at noon PDT
26-00 N, 159-48 W
Course 020 M, Speed 6.5 knots

All’s well aboard Traveler as we make our way from the Hawaiian Islands back to Southern California.

I’m glad to report that Erik is gradually feeling better after a day and a half of sea sickness, and he is able to stand his watch once again.

On July 31, before making our way back home, we sailed west for 35 miles from Hanalei Bay, Kauai, to Lehua, a volcanic crater with the northern side open to the sea, at the Island of Niihau. What an amazing place. It has been described as having the best diving in Hawaii and is considered as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Lehua is similar in size and shape to the crater of Molokini off Lahaina, Maui, if you have been there. We motored into the spectacular crater, but found it too rough to stay, even if we had found one of the submerged moorings. So we then motored around to the outside southwest corner and found calm conditions in the lee of the crater, and one of the submerged moorings. Brian, with an assist from Erik, dove about ten feet below the surface with a long line from Traveler in hand, looped it through the mooring, and back up to Traveler so we could have lunch and go for a swim. Right away, a Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, came by to check us out. Jeannine, Erik and Natalie all got to snorkel with the seal, close enough to touch her. While Brian and I were scuba diving, we held out our hands as the seal slowly approached us. She cautiously sniffed our hands as if to say “Aloha,” then allowed us to pet her. The Lehua Crater at Niihau was a memorable side trip, and well worth going the extra miles out of the way. If you have Google Earth, the coordinates are 22-01.5 N, 160-05.7 W, on the northern tip of Niihau, the “Forbidden Island.”

Niihau has some interesting history. On December 7, 1941, after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese Zero pilot crash-landed his damaged plane on Niihau, the westernmost of the eight major Hawaiian islands. The Japanese believed the island was uninhabited, but at the time it had 136 residents, all native full-blooded Hawaiians. As a part of the overall plans to bomb our fleet and planes on Oahu, the Japanese Admiralty designated Niihau as a safe, convenient location for damaged aircraft to land and rendezvous with a rescue submarine. The pilot, Naval Airman 1st Class Shigenori Nishikaichi, survived the crash and was captured and held by four Niihauan civilian guards, making him the first American-held Japanese POW of WWII. Yoshio Harada was born in Hawaii of Japanese ancestry, lived on Niihau with his wife, and served as the translator. Nishikaichi, with the help of Harada, overpowered the guards, who were not taking their duties seriously, grabbed a pistol and and a shotgun, and took Ben and Ella Kanahele as hostages. Later, Ben and Ella noticed their captors were fatigued and jumped them. Nishikaichi shot Ben three times, but Ella, apparently a large, powerful and now very mad Hawaiian woman, took revenge. She bashed the Japanese pilot’s head in with a rock. Harada, the interpreter, then committed suicide with the shotgun. Ben was hospitalized on Kauai and survived his gunshot wounds. The US Navy report on the “Niihau Incident,” especially the conclusion that an American of Japanese ancestry (Harada, the interpreter) went to the aid of a captured Japanese pilot and plotted with him for his escape, was considered when the Congress debated and decided to establish the Japanese Internment Camps. The wrecked remains of the Zero are on display at the Pacific Air Museum located on Ford Island, part of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. For more info, check out the Wikipedia article on the “Niihau Incident.”

Just 2300 miles to go until we are back home in Newport Beach.

Living The Dream,

August 1, 2011

Traveler Position Report for July 31

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 10:19 am

Traveler Position Report
for July 31 at noon Hawaii Time
22-05 N, 159-57 W
Course 245, Speed 7 kts
Midway between Kauai and Niihau

We are on the next leg of our passage back home to Newport Beach after the Transpac Race, between Hanalei Bay, Kauai, and the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau, located about 15 miles west of Kauai.

Just to review the past week, we departed Honolulu on July 26 and motor sailed in light wind to Nawiliwili, Kauai. We planned to stay only one night, but stayed three nights. The reason for the longer stay was (1) we had Jeannine Patane, a new last minute crew member, join us here for the passage back to California, and (2) we had mechanical problems. We were getting full RPMs out of our Yanmar engine, but only getting about 3 knots of speed. I dove the bottom and found nothing fouling the prop or keel. So after much debate amongst the local “experts” we narrowed the problem down to the feathering Autostream propeller. It must have changed pitch somehow. I did not hit anything or damage it to cause it to change pitch, so I’m not sure how it happened. Fortunately, I have been carrying the original propeller with me as a spare since I bought the boat, four and a half years ago, just in case. I hired a diver to change out the prop while at the slip. At the sea trial we got 8.5 knots at wide open throttle, which is very good speed for Traveler.

Our plan is to motor back much of the way, about 900 miles out of 2,600 miles, into about 10 knots of headwinds and across the bottom of the Pacific High, so a good working engine and prop are essential for the ride home. We have 117 gallon main fuel tank and 10 5-gallon jerry jugs of diesel on the deck, so our range is about 900 to 1,000 miles under motor, depending on sea conditions.

After getting the prop changed, we motor sailed the next morning to Hanalei Bay on the north central coast of Kauai. What a beautiful place. We arrived just after a rain, so we had rainbows and full waterfalls all along the steep cliffs around the bay. The small town of Hanalei has a surfer-ranchy feel to it, much like Haleiwa on the north shore of Oahu. Because of the rains, the water was a bit muddy so the snorkeling was out. We enjoyed a dinghy ride up the river, about two and a half miles. And we also attended the annual fund raiser luau at the Hanalei Canoe Club, so we all got to eat pig and other native Hawaiian foods, take a canoe ride as the sun was setting, and see a Polynesian dance show, including a spectacular fire dance.

At 0730 this morning we said goodbye to our guest crew, Brandon and Ashley, who flew in from Toronto and joined us in Honolulu. It was fun having them, especially to have Brandon on board Traveler again. (He sailed with us from Singapore to Aden, Yemen from January to March, 2008.)

We then weighed anchor and sailed west along the gorgeous Na Pali coast. This has got to be one of the most dramatic shorelines in the world. There were lots of sightseeing boats and helicopters tours. This is a must do if you visit Kauai.

We are now approaching Niihau to go scuba diving. More about that in my next blog.

Today marks the sixth anniversary for Barbara and me of our first date, following the Transpac in 2005. She is back in So Cal visiting friends (hi Cathy and Joe) and getting ready for her teaching to start again soon.

We still have the “Yellowbrick” transponder so you can follow our progress home on the Transpac website (once on the home page, click on “Tracking”), same as the race over.

with Brian, Natalie, Erik and Jeannine

July 19, 2011

Traveler Transpac Position Report for July 19 - Finish off Diamond Head

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 8:08 pm

Traveler Transpac Position Report for July 19

After 15 days and racing for 2,225 nautical miles with 53 boats, we crossed the Finish Line off the Light House on Diamond Head at 1:05 PM local time and are now headed for the Hawaii Yacht Club for mai tais. We placed fifth in the Aloha Class out of eight boats.

Boat Records: Most miles sailed in 24 hours: 196. Top speed under spinnaker: 13.7 (Ric Sanders). Top speed under jib, wing and wing: 12.2 (Barbara Burdick)

Navigation/Weather Report: We had very light wind for the first two days, and Traveler is not a great light air boat. Plus we got stuck on a kelp paddy for about an hour on the first night out, then trailed a large clump of kelp until the next morning, slowing us down considerably. Then we drove well south of the rhumb line to chase more breeze, but we never found it. After blowing up both of our spinnakers, we were able to sail deep and still fast, wing and wing, averaging 8 knots. The squalls were relatively mild this year (about 12 squalls, where the wind increased from 15 knots to 20-25 knots, with rain).

Boat Awards: Most Improved: Eric Flanders. Best Driver: Jim Borgman. Best comedy duo/most fun on watch: Ric Sanders and Larry Wilson. Most Valuable Crew Member: David Lee (navigator, bowman, communications).

Fish report: Yesterday we had a triple hook up, but all three got away. We boated four nice mahi mahis.

Injury report: Nothing worth mentioning.

Damage report: Blew up two spinnakers, water tank leak will need repair or replacement, nothing else significant.

Favorite Meal: Fresh mahi mahi with wild rice. Favorite meal brought from home was the grilled Sabastino’s sausage.

My Personal Most Memorable Moment: At the Half Way Party, proposing to Barbara and fitting the ring on her finger.


July 17, 2011

Traveler’s Transpac Position Report for July 17 - Day 14 - at 1325 hrs PDT

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 4:08 pm

Traveler’s Transpac Position Report for July 17 - Day 14 - at 1325 hrs PDT
24-32 N, 151-52 W, 384 miles to go, 32 nm north of the rhumb line and running parallel to rhumb line, COG 230, SOG 8.7

We are in fifth place in our class, well ahead of the sixth place boat (Second Chance), which is also well ahead of the seventh place boat (Hassle), and the eighth place boat retired. We are 15 hours or so behind the fourth place boat (Between The Sheets) on corrected time, with just 384 miles to go. Over the past 24 hours, we closed the gap on BTS from 21 hours behind them to just 15 hours behind them, on corrected time, but it looks now like the standings in the Aloha Class will not change. The Aloha Class standings are, as of 0600 this morning, on corrected time:
1. Gracie
2. Wind Dancer
3. Sauvage
4. Between the Sheets
5. Traveler
6. Second Chance
7. Hassle
8. Peregrine (retired)

Yesterday was not a good day for Traveler’s two spinnakers. First we blew up the 4 year old asymetrial Ullman 3/4 oz. Then we launched the much older 3/4 oz backup Ulmer asymetrical spinnaker. We had three round-ups during squalls, and then blew it up while gybing, shreading it beyond repair. You might say that the Traveler crew put up the kites, and God took ‘em down. We have two more spinnakers in reserve, both older 1.5 oz symetricals, and are considering launching one of them. But they are borrowed from another boat with a 10 ft. shorter mast, so they are relatively small spinnakers for this boat (often referred to as a “chicken chute” because they are usually reserved for 20+ knots of wind when a full size chute would be overpowered.) Our wind speed is only 12 to 14 true.

In the meantime, our sail configuration is working well. We are running deep, nearly dead down wind running wing and wing, with the main on the starboard side and the genoa poled out to port. We also have the storm staysail up, tacked to the bow on a tack line so the tack is about six feet above the deck. The sheet for the staysail is rigged outboard through an “out grabber” snatch block on the end of the boom to help keep it full. Our speed over ground is good, just as good as with the 3/4 oz spinnakers up yesterday. But we are able to sail deeper, right toward the finish line, and at the same speed with this sail configuration. So our velocity made good (speed toward the finish line, compared to speed through the water) is good enough that we will probably keep things the way they are for the day, maybe the rest of the race.

Fish Report (and dinner menu): We caught three nice sized mahi mahis, one a day, over the past three days. The first night we had BBQ’d mahi added to our tri tip which was already on the grill (turf and surf). The second night we had a mahi sashimi appetizer with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy, then more mahi pan fried with wild rice. The third night we had mahi fish tacos. Just as took my seat at the cockpit dining table, we took a deep roll to port and my plate of fully dressed tacos dumped upside down in my lap! As I was cleaning up the mess, we took another deep roll and the half-full wine bottle (a really nice Cabernet) also tumbled off the table and into my lap, spilling all over me and anything within a two foot radius. It took the better part of a half hour to clean it all up. One of my favorite white souvenir t-shirts from the Caribbean was so badly stained with red wine I just threw it overboard.

Living the Dream,
Michael and Barbara
and Team Traveler

July 13, 2011

Traveler’s Position Report for July 13 at 0200 - BIG NEWS!

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 8:00 am

Traveler’s Position Report for July 13 at 0200
26-00 N, 138-54 W
COG 220 M, SOG 6, wind 8 to 10 knots true from the NE
1076 miles to go to Diamond Head finish line

At 2100 hours last night we jibed to get more southing in on our position on the course, relative to the rhumb line and the other boats in our class. This is a tactical investment, as we are sailing more miles to do so. Also, our bearing to the Molokai Channel is 246 M, so our velocity made good (VMG) while sailing a course of 220 M suffers a bit, but just in the short term. This will likely hurt our standings for the daily position report for 7/13 (posted on the Transpac website at about 0800 PDT), but will hopefully put us in position where we will be able to steadily gain on our competition over the next week. The other boats in the Aloha Class, generally, will be sailing a more northerly course in lighter air, at least that’s what we’re betting on.

This is another light air year for the Transpac. No records will be broken this year. We still have half way to go, and we should have a faster second half. But we now expect to finish in 16 days, late at night on July 19 or early on the 20th.

At the Half Way Party at sunset last night, we celebrated with mai tais, BBQ’d pork chops, a gift exchange and “Paper Plate Awards.” These awards included: Best New Driver to Jim Borgman (his first offshore race), Most Improved to Eric Flanders (he has found his groove and able to keep the kite full and the boat speed up, even at night), Waterman Award to Ric Sanders (for diving overboard, knife in his teeth, at first light on July 5 to cut kelp away from the prop and rudder), Fisherman Award to Larry Wilson (for his dedication with the rod and reel, but so far we have only boated one bonita, so this is mostly for effort), and the Navigators Award to David Lee (he said it is a tad premature and let’s see what happens over the next week.)

And now for the BIG NEWS: After all the awards and other gifts were exchanged, I took a knee and gave one last gift to Barbara. It came in a small jewelry box. “Barbara Lynn Burdick, will you marry me?” She said “Yes!”

Oh, you want details about the ring? It is a beautiful stainless steel one inch hose clamp, which I adjusted to fit her ring finger perfectly with a screwdriver. I promised to take her shopping for a proper ring while in Waikiki.

Popping “The Question” during a Transpac Race and midway between California and Hawaii has to set some sort of a record as this is the farthest possible place away from land anywhere in the world. It’s also appropriate, given that we met on the dock at the Hawaii Yacht Club following the 2005 Transpac, and we have spent much of our six years together onboard Traveler sailing around the world.

Still Living the Dream,

July 10, 2011

July 10 Position Report

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:09 pm

July 10 Position Report
28-30 N, 133-21 W
Course over ground: 225 to 230 M
Speed over ground: 8 to 8.5 knots
117 nm south of the rhumbline

We are still in fifth place in the Aloha Class, but in a favored position on the course relative to the other boats. I say favored because we are further south than most of the other boats and have slightly more breeze. And in the next two days the forecast is for much less wind on the north side of the course. Yesterday we set a new boat record of 194 nautical miles in a 24 hr period, breaking our record of 192 set just the day before, so we are flying. Gracie, the boat in 4th place in our class, is just 10 miles closer than us to Honolulu, but much father north on the course, so we hope to pass him in the next day or two as the wind lightens up there. Occasionally we will hit 9 knots plus, thanks to a push from the waves, which are more behind us now as we enter the trade winds. The boat speed record so far this race is 10.8 knots set by Ric Sanders, but five of us are in the “Ten Club.”

One boat in our class, Peregrine 38 (a Catalina 38) retired due to a failure with their fresh water system (I believe that means their water maker stopped working.) A few other Transpac boats (not in our class) have dropped out. Double Trouble (rudder failure), Narrow Escape (steering issues), and Bodacious (injured crew, just arrive back to CA). Also, Bebe lost their steering, went to the emergency tiller for several hours while making repairs underway, and are now sailing with a repaired steering system. Celerity ran over a large fishing net with floats and it took a while to dive and cut it away.

We had a few problems ourselves on Traveler. We lost our spinnaker overboard when the halyard chafed through, after just four hours! We were able to get the kite back on the boat (very heavy when wet and while still sailing with our main, causing drag) and repacked it, while our multi-talented crew member David Lee went up in a harness to the top of the mast (in about 20 knots of wind and 6 to 8 ft waves) to rig the spare spinnaker halyard. Two days ago, in very bumpy confused seas, crew member Eric Flanders got sea sick for about 12 hours, but he is feeling great now and able to stand his watch again. We are eating well. Barbara made an excellent beef stroganoff for dinner. Fish report: Larry Wilson caught and released a 4 pound Bonita, and three other fish were able to shake the lure before we could even see what they were. We have all been craving fresh Mahi Mahi, but had to settle for a can of sardines added to the salad tonight.

Oh, by the way, our water maker is working great. It makes 13 gallons per hour, enough for us to splurge and take showers, with nice hot water, too. Such luxuries, while racing on Transpac. Pass the Merlot, please.


July 7, 2011

July 7 Position Report at 1730 hrs PDT

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:14 pm

July 7 Position Report at 1730 hrs PDT
31-48 N, 123-20.5 W
Only 276 miles down course from the starting line
With 1937 nm to go to Diamond Head

It has been a slow go so far, with a daily average of less than 90 (ouch) miles made good on the course. By comparison, under ideal conditions, like when we crossed the Atlantic on a broad reach in 20 knots of breeze we averaged 180+ miles a day. The faster boats start tomorrow (Friday, July 8 at 1300 hrs) and some of them might pass us before Monday night.

The bad news is we are in last place. Eighth out of eight boats in our class. The good news is we are gaining on many of them, and logged more miles toward the finish yesterday than five other boats in our class. What hurt us, as I reported last email, was parking on the Mother-Of-All-Kelp Paddies (so big it had its own zip code) for an hour the first night, then dragging a ball of kelp the size of a laundry basket for the next seven hours until dawn and we could see and clear the problem. The fleet pulled away from us during that time and got to the breeze faster than we did. We are now sailing in overcast skies, beating into a cool breeze from the NW, doing 5 to 6 knots.

A couple of hours ago we saw a blue whale cross in front of us, and then a sleeping sea lion. Yesterday we had an albatross soaring around us for a quite awhile. We’re trolling cedar plugs, but so far no bites.

We’re eating well. Pork tenderloin, asparagus and brown rice, paired with a 2009 Callaway Cabernet Sauvignon, and fresh fruit salad for dessert.

Cheers from the Traveler Transpac Crew:
Michael Lawler, skipper
Barbara Burdick, watch captain
Ric Sanders, watch captain
David Lee, navigator, communications and foredeck
Jim Borgman, chaplain and chief engineer
Eric Flanders, fleet surgeon
Larry Wilson, sail trimmer

July 6, 2011

Transpac July 5

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:15 am

July 5 1915 hours
Position Report 33-42 N, 119-57 W
14 nm south of Santa Rosa Island,
83 nm west of starting line (near Pt. Fermin)
2,120 nm to go

We’re off! We had a great start yesterday for the 46th Biennial 2011 Transpacific Yacht Race to Honolulu. We had more than a dozen family and friends come down to the dock at Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach to wish us a bon voyage. And many of them went out on a spectator boat to see the start. Our bagpiper (yes, Traveler has an official bagpiper) Andy Scott, in his kilt, piped “Traveler The Brave” as we departed, and he joined us on Traveler as we worked our way out to the starting line. The Race Committee Boat, a couple of dozen spectator boats and about 25 other race boats got to see and hear the bagpipes playing on Traveler just before the start. We off-loaded Andy onto a spectator boat about a half hour before the start.

A few other highlights the first day:

** At midnight on a moonless night we got stuck in the mother of all kelp paddies, about the size of Collins Island. It took an hour to get free, and Ric had to dive in, with a filet knife in his teeth, to cut kelp from the prop shaft early the next morning. This was not good, but now we have a half-decent excuse for being in 6th place (out of 8 boats in our class.)

** Lots of dolphins on our bow, and they swam with us playfully for a half hour or so. For centuries sailors have claimed this as a sign of good luck. We need it to catch up with the leading boat in our class.

** Fine dining aboard Traveler. Muy delicioso Tacos de Cuatro de Julio for dinner, and then bacon, eggs, potatoes and coffee for breakfast. For dinner tonight we had grilled Sabastino’s sausage, penne pasta, avocado salad, paired with a pinot noir, and fruit salad for dessert. Buon appetito!

** The fireworks show on Traveler! Crew member Jim Borgman brought eight HUGE! spectacular aerial display fireworks, which we launched off the stern about 8 miles west of the west end of Catalina at 2200 hours. After all, it is the Fourth of July!

** We solved an electrical problem. It was a lose connection on the power cable from the solar panels and wind generator to the batteries, so we are now able to keep up with the power we draw.

Fair winds and following seas,
Barbara, Dave, Jim, Ric, Eric, Larry

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