Voyage of Traveler / Blog

July 27, 2011

July 26 Position Report - Oahu en route to Kauai

Filed under: Year 2: July08-June09 French Polynesia to Greece — mrlawlerjr @ 4:55 pm

July 26 Position Report
Noon Local Time
A little more than half way between Honolulu and Hanalei Bay, Kauai

On Board:
Michael, Brian, Erik Higbie, Brian’s girlfriend Natalie, Brandon Evans and his girlfriend Ashley

We departed the Hawaii YC early this morning at midnight in light wind. It is still light, and we are still motoring but also have a full main and jib. We just saw a huge green sea turtle swimming near the boat, a long way from land.

Barbara flew back to LAX yesterday (and I miss her much already) because it is unlikely Traveler will return to Newport Beach in time for her to start her new school year, which begins in mid-August. We hope to be back around August 18, but maybe a couple of days after that. Brandon and Ashley will fly home to Toronto from Kauai.

On one of our last days following the Transpac, we all went to a flea market at the Aloha Stadium. I bought as couple of bags of kava and a ukelele. I learned one easy song, played it for Barbara on our last morning together for awhile. Brian, a gifted guitarist, is now playing it for the crew in the cockpit.

We plan on anchoring in Hanalei Bay for two nights. We may try to stop at Niihau, the “Forbidden Island” on the way from Kauai to Newport Beach, if we can get permission from the Robinson Family, owners of the island. They rarely give permission to visitors. About 150 full-blooded native Hawaiians live on Niihau, and speak only Hawaiian. There are no roads or cars, no electricity, no water system–and they live like traditional Hawaiians. Well, almost. There is a once-a-week barge that brings food, water (very little rain fall) and supplies.

If we do not get permission to go ashore on Niihau, we may still visit the tiny crater island of Lehua, just a quarter mile off the northern point of Niihau. Lehua is very similar to Molokini (off Lahaina, Maui) and has, they say, the best diving of anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands.

Living The Dream,

July 26, 2011

Traveler’s write up in Transpac 2011 July 25 eNews Update

Filed under: Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:51 am

Nice write up about Michael & Barbara’s engagement aboard Traveler. It looks like the 2011 Transpac was the setting for three couples to get engaged and a “hotbed of romance”. Read the full article at:

Here is the excerpt:

And Michael Lawler’s Traveler is unabashedly a cruiser, a round-the-world veteran at that. This is one 47-footer that could not have been a fit in any class other than the Aloha Division. So, what defines a cruiser? Well, Bo Wheeler is the Honolulu Committee Chair of Transpac 2011, and Traveler crewman Ric Sanders reports, “When Bo came to the dock to greet us, we handed him a mai tai.”

Written by Kimball Livingston

Traveler got our attention as of their halfway party, when skipper Michael made a move on his longtime squeeze, Barbara Burdick, and proposed marriage. And slipped this little “ring” onto her finger. These two met on the docks at Hawaii Yacht Club after the 2005 Transpac and circumnavigated on Traveler after the 2007 Transpac, so it’s not as though this was a snap decision. And by pure serendipity, the hose clamp was a perfect fit. With just a little screwdriver adjustment. Transpac 2011, it seems was quite the hotbed of romance.

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 14, 2011

Michael & Barbara’s mid Pacific engagement in Transpac 2011 July 13 eNews

Filed under: Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 10:01 am

Here is the full article:

Here is an excerpt:

Once you’re out there, you have to race, but there’s also this Michael Lawler guy withTraveler, who has his own sense of style. In 2007 he used the Transpac as the first leg of a circumnavigation (”We crashed the King of Tonga’s coronation”) and he’s found a way to make 2011 another race to remember. Below we see Traveler and Gracie.

Traveler (left) and Gracie ten days ago. Photo: Kimball Livingston

I’ll let Michael Lawler tell it his way. At sunset Tuesday, celebrating the halfway point, gag awards were given to all the crew. And then:

“I took a knee and gave one last gift. To Barbara. It came in a small jewelry box. I offered it to her and said, “Barbara Lynn Burdick, will you marry me?

“She said ‘yes.’ (She said yes.)

“Oh, and of course the ladies want details. Here we go. The ring is a beauty, a stainless steel one-inch hose clamp that fits her ring finger perfectly, with just a little screwdriver adjustment. (And a promise to go shopping in Waikiki.)

“Popping ‘the question’ during a Transpac and midway between California and Hawaii is 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, on board Traveler, sailing the world.

“Still living the dream, Michael.”

Written by Kimball Livingston

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

July 5, 2011

Traveler starts 2011 Transpac Race - LA to Honolulu

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:27 am

Traveler send off for Transpac 2011 Traveler on the starting line. Transpac 2011 Traveler off Pt Fermin and on her way. Transpac 2011


On July 4, 2011, Traveler, along with 19 other boats, started the 2011 Transpac Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Another 34 (faster) boats start on July 8.

The seven-person crew includes:
Michael Lawler, Barbara Burdick, David Lee, Jim Borgman, Larry Wilson, Ric Sanders, Eric Flanders

The following links provide updated race information:

Voyage of Traveler blog:

Adventure Tracking interactive map - follow the race in near real-time:

Official Transpac Race 2011 website and blog:

Official Transpac Facebook site

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