St. Francis Build Up

This particular transpacific yacht race has had a chaotic slow, but inexorable build-up. Particularly for me personally.

I made a list of all the things I had neglected to bring this morning. It was much longer than I would like to admit (my shipmates have had their show together for months).  Running around with my kind shipmate Don Burdge, tracking things down north of San Francisco Bay. Here’s two of them.


Everyone has their own strategy for fighting mal-de-mar. The top item is fresh Dramamine. This is my strategy for the upcoming stormy close reach. I take it just as I’m about to come off watch. It makes me drowsy and quells my sickness. I sleep. It is slightly worn off when I wake up before my next watch. Then I repeat. I don’t like the scopolamine patch, nor do I like Dramamine with the extra caffeine or whatever they use to keep you awake. I’ve been using this strategy for a while in coastal cruising. The next few days will put this fairly mild strategy to a good test.

The next item is a man overboard locator device. If it works as advertised, falling into the ocean should activate the radio signal when the personal flotation device (life jacket) automatically inflates. This should work even if I’m unconscious. Here’s the thing about this device.   I hate paying $200 plus for something that I will never use. The chances of falling overboard are so very small that it seems like OCD behavior to spend so much money and time getting this device and programming it to send position information back to Psyche should I fall overboard.

But, I’m picturing myself. Nightime squall. We take a knockdown, I fall over. My tether breaks. There I am. Sure I’ve got a strobe light, but the waves are big, and by the time Psyche gets her sails under control and returns to find me, it has become a big ocean. They can’t see me.

So I’m floating there with my cheap strobe, knowing Psyche will never find me. Then I think, “Gosh, if I’d paid the extra money, it would be a pretty straight-forward rescue. Now it’s next to impossible.” That regret filling my brain during my last moments on this planet is not a pretty vision. So buy the goddamn thing.

Steve and a significant bevy of women (All friends of Robin, his daughter, and Amanda, his wife) motored Psyche two hours from Richmond to the St Francis Yacht Club, right next to the starting area (see below).  I spend the night onboard Psyche again tonight (slept like a log last night on an old familiar bunk).

This St. Francis Yacht Club is quite a place. Very exclusive. Very dignified. Lots of wood. Lots of heavily framed paintings and photos of sailboats. Sitting here in a back cubby using their internet. My sun hat is off. That’s the rules.

Another thing that is cool about St. Francis Yacht Club in the context of the Pacific Cup is that it sits RIGHT on the starting line. Below are two sailboats shortly after a start.  It took them 5 minutes to sail to the starting line from the dock. That’s the bar in the background! That is where Jimmy’s wife Andrea, Scott’s girlfriend Kathy, and Steve’s wife Amanda, will all be watching when we start.  I kind of wish I could watch the start and then get a chase boat to run me out to the boat as it passes under the Golden Gate Bridge!


By contrast, the original “transpac race” starts off of Point Fermin in southern California.  It is a hour + motor from the harbor to the starting line.  You can barely see the boats from shore. Here at St Francis Yacht Club, spectators will have a clear image of their favorite boat to last them the two weeks till we arrive in Kaneohe.

Pretty cool. This start will be a fitting climax to a long build-up.

I will be sending emails from sea after this, but you can follow our daily progress with a cool web site.  You can step the boats back and forth through their history.  It is really pretty fun.  If you go back and forth between that site and windyty, you can do some anticipating.  That’s what makes sailboat racing fun; watching how boats put different navigational strategies into play, and second guessing which boats do it right, then following them over the next day or so.

4 thoughts on “St. Francis Build Up

  1. merk57hotmailcom says:

    Bill, we are glad that you bought the little device! Sail Safe and Sail Happy! Sending you good thoughts and wishes, can’t wait till you reach Hawaii! Lori, Alan, and Pushkin xoxoxo


  2. Hey Bill,
    I’m loving your blogs. I’ll take up a collection if you are undecided about that locator device!! I’ve suffered the dreaded drowsies with Dramamine and think it’s too easy to fall asleep and fall in with that grogginess. Ugh. I use the patch; the only thing I’ve found for my mal de mer. Ron and I just attended a three hour presentation about the Island of Catalina at our local yacht club. We explored every anchorage, cove, dive spot, mooring, science lab. He is a seasoned marine biologist and long time sailor. I thought of you the full lecture. Ron and I wish you a grand trip and look forward to each day’s adventures. You are the Jack London of the Seas. xo Ann


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