Hula Girl Update

Things have been going very well on board Hula Girl and we are all in high spirits. Currently our position looks really good. From what I understand we are winning our Division (E) and have been gaining the entire time. We are the southernmost boat in the fleet and as of this morning’s roll call, we were 60 miles ahead of the next closest boat. Not bad for only being 600 miles into the race.

Here is what has been going on since our start on Thursday. We started at 1445 and sailed out under the Golden Gate in a stiff 25 knots of wind. After tacking a few times to get out away from land, we settled in on starboard tack and began our dive south. The first night was very windy, wet and cold. We had between 20 and 30 knots of wind, with solid 10 foot waves, sometimes larger. Since then we have set a reaching spinnaker and have been moving along with good pace surfing all the while. The wind has steadily shifted aft and gotten lighter, so we have switched to our running kite today. As we get spun around the Pacific High and cross the ridge, the wind should continue to shift. Soon the wind will shift so far aft that it will be more favorable to sail on port, at which point we will gybe. From then on we will be in the strong NE tradewinds and will continue to gybe between starboard and port, to take advantage of every wind shift and squall.

Life onboard has been pleasant for the most part. The first night was rough and wet, just about everything down below got wet as well. Today with the lighter winds and wind shift the boat has flattened and things are beginning to dry out. I took a shower and changed my shirt for the first time this afternoon. We have quite the spa on board: baby wipes, a bucket of salt water and some joy dish soap! Ironically we haven’t been able to enjoy the sunshine or full moon yet. We have had 100% cloud cover since the start. We have been eating freeze dried food which to be honest I am already sick of. Clif bars and dried fruit have been tiding me over though. We had one fire drill yesterday. Our port spinnaker halyard broke as we were sailing at 16 knots. We quickly put the kite back up on the starboard halyard, and repaired the port halyard soon after. Re-running the broken halyard through the mast was quite a challenge; we had to take down the main sail so that Robbie could go up the mast and re-run the repaired spinnaker halyard.

I think in the 80 sum hours that we have been out here I have already seen three nets and a variety of floating trash. More and more I’m realizing how important it is for us to take care of the ocean and how hard of a task that has become in today’s world. We have seen a fair amount of sea life: a few flying fish, had a squid land on the deck and Allie spotted a turtle this morning, a rare sight so far from land.

Today, Robbie reminded me that exactly a year ago the two of us were sailing the Transpac together in the same part of the Pacific Ocean. That’s what I love most about this sport. The life long friendships and memories created out on the ocean are truly priceless. The stories told and laughs shared are really what make the adventure worthwhile. I already know that one day I’ll look back on this Pacific Cup and smile thinking about the great memories that we are currently making together.

Mark Towill
Hula Girl