Dancing Bear Transpac Report No. 5: Whither Weather?


There's an old saying among sailors that goes something like this: The gods do not subtract from a man's allotted time on earth the days that he spends under sail.

And for the crew of the Cal 40 Dancing Bear this morning, it seems like they might live forever.

One week ago today, Dancing Bear and 13 other Cal 40s were among the boats to begin the centennial edition of the Transpac. Now, a week into the race, one thing is abundantly clear, if it wasn't already. The Cal 40 race record of around 12 1/2 days is safe for another couple of years.

At the 0800 position reports today, not one of the 13 Cals still racing has yet reached the halfway point of the racecourse. The Cal 40 Ralphie remains the class leader, positioned well south, while Dancing Bear's position,11th, remains unchanged from yesterday's report. For a full list of positions and updates for the entire fleet, visit the event's website (www.transpacificyc.org).

This fact leads to the questions of the day: What profession has a higher degree of failure and a lower expectation of success than that of meteorologist? Are those guys ever right? And why aren't they held more accountable for their consistently abysmal performance?

And, yes, I'm ranting.

But when the Cal 40 class set off on July 11, it was with a forecast of unusually strong trade winds making for a quick dash up the racecourse. The reality is, one week into the race, the early starters have yet to see anything even remotely similar to what one would expect in reliable trade-wind conditions.

Instead, this morning the sky remains gloomy and overcast. In the wee hours last evening, we again labored to make miles in extremely fluky winds of less than 10 knots. There is a word to describe this sorry state of affairs, and that word is "blech."

Remarkably, the more dire the weather, the better the creations emanating from skipper and cook Mark Schrader's galley: hot pancakes, hearty stews, and, in an amazing performance on last night's watch, warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Thus, the crew of Dancing Bear remains resolute. The halfway mark looms just ahead. We stay hopeful that the trades will soon fill in and the great sailing we came here for still awaits. I mean, the weather guys can't always be wrong. Can they?

Note: Due to a senior moment, yesterday's report dedication to flight engineer Mark Logan--brother of Dancing Bear crewman and helmsman extraordinaire Dave Logan--failed to mention that he's currently serving with U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. Be safe, Mark. Your bro' misses you.

Dancing Bear clear. . . .

To read earlier Dancing Bear Transpac Reports, click here.