The Gathering

The Gathering at The Corinthian Yacht Club

TThursday evening, the boats are all gathered at the idyllic Corinthian Yacht Club (except Truth, due to draft restrictions). Much excitement and underlying nervousness on the docks as final preparations and meetings are underway. My favorite boats here are the Olson 34 Red Sky, and of course the Cal 40, Green Buffalo.


As I sit typing this on Sunday afternoon, it’s so surreal knowing Slacker is sitting in San Francisco and in 36 hours I’ll be leaving my family for at least 4 weeks, and maybe 7. My daughter Annika doesn’t want me to go. Sons don’t talk about such matters. I’ve tried explaining why I’m going in ways that makes sense to them, but I still get mixed responses of sadness & maybe a little fear. It’s so unfair of me to leave just as summer gets rolling. My wife, knowing this has been coming for a while, is being brave but I know she would rather I didn’t go.

Surreal because I thought I would have long lists of things I need to check off, but here I am, sitting around on Sunday afternoon getting some family time. I don’t have long lists of things to do. I feel prepared. After 3 Dan Byrne series and 2 Guadalupe races, Slacker is prepared. Such is the training the PSSA delivers. Even so, the SHTP is a huge commitment of time. Time away from the wife, the kids, the job. It’s a very selfish and irresponsible act, so why am I really doing this?
Because I love being out in nature, testing myself. That’s the thing about singlehanding. You succeed or fail on your own merits. It’s not about having great crew, the most money, or even a great boat. It’s not about winning, although sure, I’d like to do well. The results are an expression of only your thoughts, how much you push. The real competition is me. And when I cross the finish line, I will feel the satisfaction of finishing a goal, standing on my own merits…and sleep deprivation.

Slacker in San Francisco!

Entered The Golden Gate at 3am and maximum ebb, of course. Surreal intensity going in against a 4-5 knot current. Luckily, we had 23 knots at our backs so it was 8 knots STW, 3 knots SOG.

I’m so grateful to Brian, who joined me for the trip up, and Tracee, acting as shore crew. Just one highlight of Brian’s value as a crew member:

Scene: 3am Saturday night, somewhere off Morro Bay during watch change down below.

Brian: What’s going on out there?

Whitall:  Nuthin. No lights, no boats, no fish, no dolphons, no whales, no stars, nuthin.

Brian: We could do this in my garage.

I’m also grateful to Rob Tryon and Brian Boschma for arranging and conducting an inspection for Slacker on Monday on such short notice. It’s a big worry off my shoulders. So now I just have to figure out how to get back up North and provision Slacker for the journey over to Hanalei Bay.

Heading to Alameda

Looking Good for Delivery to Bay Area

A remarkable weather window has conveniently opened up this weekend! Instead of 20-30 knot headwinds, we’re looking at a quick motoring trip! Should be getting up to Alameda Monday afternoon if all goes well.



Having prepared for and completed the Guadalupe Island Race in 2010 and 2012 really got Slacker prepared for the Singlehanded Transpac. Rigging, sails, and equipment have all been sorted out before and tested during the last Guadalupe Island Race, so I’m feeling generally well prepared. Some the the equipment requirements of the SHTP are different, such as more flares, full size EPIRB but nothing a credit card couldn’t solve. The hard part will be getting Slacker up to San Francisco before the start. I’ve never made the trip from SoCal up to Nor Cal, but from what I hear it is not to be taken lightly and many folks attempting the trip end up hunkered down in port somewhere along the way waiting for a more favorable weather window. So naturally, I’m leaving no time to spare. I’ll be heading North June 21 with a short refueling stop in Santa Barbara, then out around Pt. Conception. With some luck, I’ll pass under the Golden Gate early the next week.

My friends Brian Hobin and Tracee Cummings are genereously offering to help with watchkeeping (Brian) and shoreside logistics (Tracee) to help me get there in one piece. Everyone wish us fair winds!

Storm Sails

Put on my storm job and a friend’s storm trisail to see if it would fit. The thought is to use this combo for the bash up to San Francisco before the SHTP. The trisail can only go up while in port, preferably at a dock. It took me 30 minutes in the slip, feeding the luff rope into mast track an inch at a time.