Scaramouche Delivery

September 6, 2014

Wrecking my boat and not starting the solo transpac sucked, but helping a friend and fellow competitor, Peter Heiberg, bring his boat back from Hanalei Bay certainly took the edge off the disappointment.

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Scaramouche is a flush-deck racer. Beautiful lines, solidly built in aluminum, and fast. Serious pedigree.  Couldn’t have asked for a nicer boat for my first ocean crossing.

We left Hawaii on August 5th at about 0700, with hurricanes Iselle and Julio hot on our heels. Peter has a contact at the Hawaiian Coast Guard station who assured us that their tracks didn’t pose a substantial threat as long as we got North to cooler water ASAP.  We shaped a course just West of due North and started ticking off the miles.

The first week was spectacular trade winds sailing, close to 180 miles a day. Iselle eventually hit the big island and died, but Julio seemed to want to chase us.  We kept a close eye on him; he came further North than any of us thought he would, but in retrospect never really threatened us seriously.  Still, when you’re in the moment it’s a little alarming.  I guess now we can say we outran a hurricane. Cool.  Don’t want to try it again, though.

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Last night in Hanalei Bay

Aside from a couple days motorsailing in light variable winds, we had a really nice sail. The crew Peter put together comprised me and two guys from Fort Saint John, B.C., Mike Haggstrom and Joe Brooks.  I’d never spent this much time on a boat with other people.  You never know how these things will go–I’ve heard some horror stories– but this one was great.  All nice guys, easy to get along with, enthusiastic.  I’d do three weeks again with this crew any time.  It’s true what they say about Canadians.  Just really nice, interesting people.

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Peter looking up from the companionway.

After my misadventure getting down to San Francisco, I’m happy to report there was no weather drama during this trip. During our eighteen days at sea we had some slack days, some more spirited days, some rain, some fog and a few squalls. Nothing we encountered, though, compared to the conditions on the trip down the coast. Thanks, Neptune.  You clearly appreciated that shot Peter offered you as we left.



The watch schedule seemed to work well for everyone.  Mine was 6-9, morning and evening.  That seemed like one of the better ones; next time I should probably offer to take the 12-3 or the 3-6.  I’m used to being up all the time when I sail alone, so night watches don’t bother me.  Still, no one complained.  Again, the polite Canadian stereotype is well-earned.

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Joe Brooks: sailor, teacher, musician.









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Mike Haggstrom:  sailor, businessman, mini collector (the cool old ones from Morris).

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On starboard, nicely making way.

We took turns cooking and, thanks to the provisioning prowess of Christy McLeod, Peter’s significant and much better looking other, we ate pretty well.  We had enough ice aboard to keep fresh foods for about a week.  After that we had a nice variety of canned, packaged, and freeze-dried meals.  I lost some weight, but that’s probably because there is no drive-through at sea.  It was a total score to find two huge chocolate bars in the snack cupboard about halfway through the trip.  I also determined–the uncomfortable way–the shelf life of unrefrigerated Activia yogurt.

Peter had set the boat up really well for the race, so there were no significant gear issues on the trip.  Rigging, navigation, electrical systems and communications all worked fine with no complaints.  There was one early morning alarm when a belt broke on the motor, but Peter had that repaired before I came up for my 0600 watch.  We had a temperamental plotter at the helm, but Peter also has a heavy-duty nav program on a Panasonic Toughbook at the nav station.  We tried to get some of the other returning yachts on the SSB, but no one ever seemed to be home.  AIS was useful for avoiding ships, which we had close approaches with on a few occasions.

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Typical squall.

By Saturday the 23rd we were closing in on Tatoosh Island. The wind had died, so we were motoring at about five knots. Fog lay on the water like a thick blanket, and when night fell we found ourselves in zero visibility.  The watches were nerve-wracking, because the offshore fish boats don’t all use AIS.  Peter was basically navigating an instrument approach to Neah Bay, where they planned to drop me off before continuing on to Victoria.  As we passed Tatoosh the wind came back a bit and the fog began to lift.  We entered the bay, made our way to the marina, and tied up at an end slip.

That was it.  It was about midnight-ish, and after days of looking forward to landfall my trip was over.  Julie and Penny were waiting for me, so I scrambled up to the parking lot.  Being on land again was kind of weird, a little anticlimactic.  You’re at sea with people for three weeks, anxious to get home, and then in just a second you’re not. You really get used to the rhythm of wind, waves, watches, galley duty.  Then it just ends.  I was super glad to be home and see my family, but the transition was abrupt, kind of surreal.  Except for the part about missing my family, I don’t think it would have bothered my to turn around and do three more weeks.

Peter tells me he wants to sell Scaramouche, that after a lifetime pulling sheets he’s through with sailing.  He and Christy have a new project, and cruising plans that don’t include sails.  Scaramouche is a well-found, go anywhere on the planet boat.  It doesn’t need anything that I can think of.  You could buy it tomorrow, sail it past Tatoosh Island, and go anywhere safely and comfortably.  If you’re reading this and are interested, contact me and I’ll forward you Peter’s contact info.