Voyage of Traveler / Blog

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

April 14, 2011

Traveler before the start of The Border Run April 9-10, 2011

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 9:21 am

Here is a short video of Traveler and crew, with bagpiper, motoring out of Newport Harbor for the start of The Border Run Yacht Race from Newport Beach to San Diego. If you turn the volume up all the way on your computer speakers you can hear the bagpipe playing, even though the cameraman (Jim Palmer-Thanks!) was a quarter mile away on the bluff top above Big Corona Beach.

We started on Saturday April 9 at noon and finished Sunday morning off Point Loma at 3:07 am. We got Fourth Place in our class (Cruising D) out of 12 boats entered. All together, there were 230 boats entered, more than the Newport To Ensenada Race has nowadays, which is coming up this next weekend.

Special thanks to my capable and fun crew: Barbara Burdick, Tim Richley, Dave Lee, Jim Borgman, Erik Higbie, and of course the Official Traveler Bagpiper Andy Scott.


January 31, 2011

Dates set for Michael Lawler to speak at NHYC Yachtsmen’s Luncheons

Filed under: Year 2: July08-June09 French Polynesia to Greece — mrlawlerjr @ 12:16 pm

To all interested people:

I will be giving the following presentations at the Yachtsmen’s Luncheon at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, located at 720 E. Bay, Balboa (in Newport Beach on the Peninsula).  Each presentation starts at noon and concludes at about 1:20 pm.  The cost is $13 and includes a buffet lunch. You do not need to be a member of the NHYC to attend and this is open to the public.

The Voyage of Traveler: A Three-Year Circumnavigation
February 2 — The First Year: The Dream, Preparation, Transpac, and the Society Islands of French Polynesia
Febrauary 9 — The Second Year: South Pacific, Australia, SE Asia, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Suez Canal and Eastern Med
February 23 — The Third Year: Western Med, Morocco, Crossing the Atlantic, Caribbean, Panama Canal, West Coast of Centeral America, and the Homecoming

Also, at the February 23 luncheon I will have “Traveler” dockside at the NHYC and available for inspection beginning at 11:30 am and after the luncheon.

You may forward this email to a friend. The more the better, but please call to make a reservation at  949-673-7730. I hope to see you there.

Fair winds,
Michael Lawler

January 6, 2011

Michael Lawler to be guest speaker at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum

Filed under: Year: 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 5:33 pm


Michael Lawler will present The Voyage of Traveler: A Three-Year Circumnavigation in three parts at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum as part of the Waterman Lecture Series as follows:

Tues. January 13th
Year 1: Preparation, 2007 Transpac, Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia’s Society Islands

Thur. January 27th
Year 2: South Pacific, Australia, SE Asia, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and Eastern Mediterranean

Thur. February 10th
Western Mediterranean, Morocco, Crossing the Atlantic, Caribbean, Panama Canal, West Coast of Central America and Mexico

For more information, visit:

November 22, 2010

William Lobdell: Chase those Dreams

Read Micheal’s interview in the Daily Pilot
By William Lobdell
November 22, 2010,0,262038.story?page=1

November 14, 2010

Michael’s interview in the OC Register Article

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Post Circumnavigation — mrlawlerjr @ 7:34 pm

‘The world is a big, big place’
November 11, 2010|By TERYL ZARNOW
Orange County Regiser
Michael Lawler says a semester spent at sea, when he was a student at USC nearly 40 years ago, opened his eyes to adventure. Read the full article at:

October 25, 2010

The Voyage of Traveler came to a spectacular finish on July 3

Newport Beach, CA
October 14, 2010                                      Be sure to view Traveler’s links to Picasa photo gallery

Ahoy, Traveler Family and Friends,

The Voyage of Traveler came to a spectacular finish on July 3 when we completed a three-year circumnavigation by crossing our out-bound track and sailing into Newport Harbor.

What a wonderful celebration it was, with Traveler a riot of color, proudly flying the flags from the 61 countries we visited on six continents. We had many friends on a dozen boats come out to the harbor entrance and join us for a short boat parade, honking their horns and shouting out,
with the Harbor Department’s fire boat spraying water and leading the way to the Balboa Yacht Club. At the BYC Scott Schubert organized the Homecoming Party with about 150
family and friends joining in a cheerful (and for me, a tearful) champagne toast. Please check out the Traveler website ( and click on the link, through Picasa, to the YouTube video of our Homecoming.

I was so thankful to have Barbara back on board for the final leg, and really needed her for the rough ride up the coast, aptly called the Baja Bash. Barbara has been so much more than my girlfriend since we met on Transpac 2005–the best five years of my life! She was also my partner and co-captain on this voyage, and she was deeply missed when she had to go back to teaching–after sailing with me more than two-thirds of the way around the world. Thank you, Barbara, for everything.

I had much to think about as Barbara, my son Brian and I made our final passage up Baja California. It was truly an emotional cocktail for me: a shot of accomplishment, to be sure, as we approached our home port and could “smell the barn,” plus a double shot of relief as the reality started to sink in that we made it. We sailed through harm’s way so many times, without serious problems. But that mixed drink of emotions also came with a dash of melancholy. It’s strange, but just as much as I wanted to finish the circumnavigation, I also did not want my life’s dream to come to end.

I have much to be thankful for, and want to take a moment to express my appreciation to all those who joined us on the Voyage of Traveler and made it possible–call it an early Thanksgiving. First, all those who helped me re-fit Traveler in the Spring of ‘07 and get her ready to go to sea: to name a few, Bob Kieding (yacht broker), Ventura Harbor Boatyard, Lido Boat Yard, Ullman Sails, Peter at Forespar, Mark Silvey, Spectra Watermaker, Craig at Maurer Marine, Shea Weston, and of course Barbara and her friends Diane, Sue and Cat for all the provisioning, and Barbara’s
brother Gary for logisitical support in his dinghy at the start of Transpac. I also want to thank Bis Houssels, Harry Wallace and Richard Higbie for all their help while I was gone; and special thanks to my Voyage Of Traveler webmaster and email postman, Jim Palmer.

Next, I want to thank the Transpac Crew: Barbara Burdick, Scott Schubert, Dave Beek, Jim Palmer, Kathy Smith, Philip LaPlante, and Kurt Roll. What an awesome experience, with
all the ups and downs, as we raced across the Pacific Ocean together for 2,250 nautical miles and smiles. And we trophied, placing second in class!

I also want to thank all the other crew who joined us for a leg or two, making it a more fun and memorable voyage. In chronological order: Robbie Buck (Hawaiian Islands), Dan Bornholdt and Larry Sharpless (Hawaii to Tahiti and for Larry also across the Atlantic from Canary Islands to St.
Lucia), my sisters Melissa McLeod and Dana Stewart (Moorea to Huahine), Barbara’s sister-in-law Leslie and niece Claire (Raiatea and Tahaa), Dave La Montagne (Raiatea to
Bora Bora), Dave Lee (Tonga to Fiji), Filippo and Emma (a backpacking hitchhiking couple, from Vanuatu to Australia), Susan and Sue (Bali), Yansen (Bali to Singapore, and again Tangier to Jamaica), my Mom and Stepdad, Chris and Bobby (Singapore and again Sorrento to Rome), Brandon (another backpacking hitchhiker, from Singapore to Aden), my son Scott (with his friends Natalie, Christina and Jillian in Greece, and then again in Mexico), Barbara’s friend Teresa
Torti in Greece, my daughter Kellie (with her friends Amy and Priscilla from Croatia to Italy,and again in the Caribbean from St. Martin to Cartagena), Jake Kalwitz (Nice, France
to Tangier, Morocco), my sister Melissa (for her second leg on Martinique, Dominica and Guadelope, and her third leg with Charlie and Eliza from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico), my brother Drew (St. Lucia, Martinique and Dominica), Bill and Marsha Horsfall (Panama Canal), and my nephew Ryan (Puerta Vallarta to La Paz).

Also, a very special thank you to my son Brian, who was a huge part of the voyage, with three long legs: from Waikiki, Oahu across the Pacific Ocean to Papeete, Tahiti; then from Singapore across the Indian Ocean to Aden, Yemen; and finally from Nice, France through the Med, across the Atlantic Ocean, all through the Caribbean and transiting the Panama Canal, and then up the Pacific Coast all the way back to Newport Beach. How many 21-year-olds can say they have sailed across three oceans and visited 40 countries?

We have about 2,000 photos. I selected the Best 50 Photos for each of the three years, and posted them on the website. I hope you enjoy them.
I learned much, about my boat, the world and myself. As my crew member Larry Sharpless said to me as we were crossing the Atlantic together, “Michael, it’s only after you finish this voyage around the world that you will have the required experience to do such a thing.”

In the previous two or three Postcards, as we were beating our way up from Cabo San Lucas, you may recall I wrote that the “End Is Near.”

Well, after 31,145 nautical miles, as my final log entry I report to you, both sadly and joyously, that the Endless Summer of the Voyage of Traveler, as all good things, has come to a successful and glorious end.

We did it. We lived the dream.

Michael Lawler

P. S. What’s next? Hmmmm….
It is back to work. I need to replenish the cruising kitty. But Barbara and I are considering sailing to Hawaii on Transpac ‘11, which starts July 4, 2011. I’m working with a video producer to put together a mini-documentary about our voyage.

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