Dancing Bear Transpac Report No. 1: It's Slow Out Here, Friends

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When you can't shake the moth, fluttering in the stern light on a still and fluky evening, you know you're in deep. Real deep.

Welcome to the good ship Dancing Bear, currently en route to Hawaii in the 100th anniversary of the epic Transpac Race. At this rate, we're confident of landfall in Honolulu sometime just before the 200th anniversary of the epic Transpac Race.

It's slow out here, friends. We're currently making about 3 knots and have just passed Santa Barbara Island. Only one of the crew was physically restrained from leaping overboard and swimming for shore. For precautionary reasons, skipper Mark Schrader has informed us we will not be sailing close abeam any further islands until those associated with the 50th state.

We had a fair start in light winds off Point Fermin and followed the instructions of Transpac navigator extraordinaire Stan Honey--helpfully included in an article in the race packet--and tacked up the coastal peninsula before taking the offshore board for Catalina Island. In fact, we also followed Mrs. Honey--Stan's wife, Sally, skipper of class favorite Illusion--and though we shadowed her for a while and were pleased to be in her neighborhood, when night fell, so did out ability to keep pace.

We're currently laboring under a murky sky, which Californians helpfully call "the marine layer." On the I-405 freeway, this is also known as smog. Unfortunately, offshore, there seems to be little or no wind under the marine layer. Equally unfortunate, the marine layer currently looks to extend somewhere to the vicinity of downtown Honolulu.

The hard numbers: Dancing Bear currently lies in 8th place in the 14-boat Cal 40 class. At the 0800 roll call, Ralphie was in first and Illusion in second. We'd managed a mere 33 miles made good in the first 17 hours of the race. And some folks say yacht racing isn't exciting!

The good news: We've seen an abundance of sea life--porpoises, seals, sea lions, grand schools of fish. I've actually seen more wildlife so far than in the last two Bermuda Races I've sailed combined.

Otherwise, all is well. We have the rest of our class positioned exactly where we want them. When the music starts, the Bear will be ready to Dance.

Stay tuned. Dancing Bear clear. . . .