Dancing Bear Transpac Report No. 6: Finally . . .


It took us the better part of nine days to get here, but Dancing Bear is finally relishing in the solid northeast trade winds we came out here searching for in the first place.

Finally. Finally. Finally.

The first inkling came last night around sunset, when the fitful breeze we'd been struggling with all day long started to build and rise into the mid-teens. Just after dusk, we changed spinnakers from the light, half-ounce kite we'd been employing for the better part of the last two days to the 1.5-ounce chute, which was faster and held its shape better in the stronger breeze and sloppy seas.

Then, a miraculous thing happened. The glorious orb of a nearly full moon made its first real appearance of the voyage. It cast a glow on the waters like a giant spotlight, and the seas suddenly began to sparkle.

A brief squall left us literally spinning in a couple of circles, but even this was welcome, for localized squalls are yet another feature of the trades. And once it was past, the skies began to open more fully, and oh, yes--there still are stars up there. Dave Logan spotted the tracers of a pair of long, brilliant falling ones.

By 0400, skipper Mark Schrader was steering Dancing Bear straight down a wet, silver avenue cast by the reflection of that glorious moon making its way around to the east. The Highway to Hawaii. His watch ended, but he wouldn't hand over the tiller, not on this night. He just wanted to steer and steer and steer.

Dawn broke, and with it came the first sunrise of the trip. Then things got murky again. But only for a little while. By early afternoon, the sky above was a deep blue; so, too, the azure sea, which was flecked by whitecaps. In the receding distance, the dreaded "marine layer" lurked ominously in the rear-view mirror. But that was the past, not the future. See ya! Overhead there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and Mark took the opportunity to take a sextant sun shot, a requirement of all the Transpac crews.

It was the very first chance he'd had all trip.

Overnight, we moved up a place in the standings to 10th, and this afternoon we were creaming along at 8 knots. For complete position reports and updates, visit the event's website (www.transpacificyc.org).

By tomorrow we'll be under a thousand miles to the finish, and whether we've dug ourselves into too deep a hole to make a significant move up the rankings remains to be seen. But for the time being, anyway, Dancing Bear is a light and fast and happy ship, doing exactly what she came out here to do.


Dancing Bear clear. . . .

To read previous Dancing Bear Transpac Reports, click here.