#1.  Preparation is everything. As a team and individually, we spent over 6 months and most weekends either sailing, meeting or fixing/fabricating stuff for the boat.  We also did several ‘preparatory’ races.   The assumption was, stuff will break, things will go wrong,sails will blow out, lines will chafe thru.  Just like a construction project.  So either seek to prevent them as much as possible and then have a backup plan.  We were fortunate, nothing major happened except that the head backed up about ½ way across.  At 1AM in the morning.  And on my watch.  And, since I had rebuild the thing before, I was ‘the best qualified’ to fix it.  Fortunately we had two (2) head rebuild kits on board.  The lesson?  Always have at least two porta potties on site.

BOM Board Exercise with team. The biggest BOM? Chafe or one of the lines, sheets, halyards or guys wearing thru.

Practice sail off Ventura.

#2.  When ‘hot bunking’ after changing watch, always turn over the pillow of the guy whose bunk you’re taking. After a couple nights I really couldn’t smell the difference but it seemed to me to be a good idea to stick with.  Also, “Buzzsaw” McKenna always followed me on watch which meant I had it easy two ways.  Number 1, I could always find (hear) him even in the blackout conditions down below at night and, Number 2, I never had to listen to him sleep since he was always on watch while I was sleeping.  Somebody did a great job of setting up the watch schedule.  And, as on a construction project, scheduling is everything.

The nav station + someone trying to get some shuteye

Sunset at Sea on the Sauvage.

#3.  Don’t criticize the food – someone’s wife made it. Actually the food, especially the frozen dinners pre-prepared by wives and crew were uniformly excellent.  These were heated in a big pot of boiling water each night.   I had the crafty idea of each crew labeling the white bowls we all ate everything from with their name.  Shortly thereafter I dropped a bowl and chipped it.  So from then on, according to the crew, it was ‘my bowl’.  And with that, my labeling idea was also ‘dropped’.  And no, we had to do without donuts ‘in the trailer’ in the morning.  So, as on a construction project, don’t criticize the design, someone did it and his/her spouse is proud of it.

Prefrozen dinners which were stacked in Styrofoam coolers.

The bowls out of which we ate everything – sandwiches on paper plates.

Provisioning. Food and water – no showers — for 7 guys for two weeks.

#4.  If you’re not achieving your goal, change your goal. We started with the goal to ‘win our division’.  Well, after one day about 5 days into the race where we ‘sat in a hole’ in the ocean going virtually nowhere, we revised it to ‘not losing third place’.  And, I might add, beating the boat which we initially considered to be our biggest threat, Between the Sheets.  We did beat them which was neat because they had won the class on the two previous races.  On long sailboat races, sometimes you’ve got to come up with your own definition of ‘winning’.  Also, taking pity on ourselves as the ‘humble dirt farmers from the Oxnard plain’ gave us the underdog image vs. the ‘rich b_______d’s from Newport Beach’.  Image is everything if you’re not winning.  Much like during a construction project, if they don’t like what they’re seeing, refer them to the rendering.

The brain trust reconsidering strategy based on latest weather report and competitor intel.

#5.  Without music, alcohol or sleep you have to be creative in amusing yourselves. Recalling advertising jingles from the 60’s, theme songs to 60’s TV hits, and the stars of 60’s TV shows, etc. helps. You’re getting an idea of how old we are = pretty old.  For example, who remembers the star of the Rifleman?  Chuck Connors.  What was the theme song of Have Gun Will Travel?  If you weren’t in your 50’s or 60’s you were at a decided disadvantage on this team.  And I, as the oldest, would trump everyone by recollecting B&W shows from the 50’s like Sergeant Bilko and Spin and Marty.  Remember, Spin was the cool one.  Brylcream really worked – or at least so they told us back then.  This reminds me of several of our jobs which were being build in the middle of nowhere – almost invariably a correctional institution.  The project teams had to be creative in finding offhours diversions.

OK, ½ way thru the race or 1,200 miles from land, we celebrated with one beer per man. Tecates left over from Mexico that we found in a locker.

A double rainbow = a pleasant distraction…but what does it mean?

#6.  Let the ‘artists’ do their thing. Before the turn of the 19th century when clipper ships were sailing around Cape Horn, the captains ‘who always found a way’ even when going the ‘wrong way’ (against the wind) were termed ‘artists’.  Some of these captainswere legendary in reading the wind, seas and getting the maximum out of their vessels.  We were fortunate enough to have quite a few of these guys on Sauvage.  At the helm, for example, they could always get another ½ or ¾’s knot of boat speed than I could.  It was alldone by feeling — not technique.  Something like a great superintendent who’s able to reduce costs regardless of conditions by 5% vs. just a ‘good’ one.  Don’t try to ‘motivate’ them.  If they’re not motivated, they’re not on the team.

Me giving my motivational speech just before leaving – note inspirational sunglasses for effect. In reality the speech, of course, had ‘no effect’.

Sunsets were almost always neat.

Jeff doing his ‘hi wire’ act to fix a batten.

#7. No whining. There was nothing worse than putting your head on the pillow and just after you fell asleep to hear, “All hands on deck, sail change”.  Sleeping in your clothes and sandals helps but stumbling about the dark cabin trying to remember where you put your harness and then going to your ‘station’ in a stupor got real old.  Oh, and Chris, the guy who preceded me and who always woke me up for a watch change, became my worstnightmare.  He was the nicest guy and would always very gently say “Jim, you’re up”.   Even now recalling his face in the dark gives me the shakes.

Chris’s birthday party at sea.

Our secret weapon = “Hot Lips” our backup 2s spinnaker. I think it’s illegal in a couple of states.

#8.  Don’t screw up the race/project in the last 6 miles. With Diamond Head in sight we were going pretty good in the 25+ knot wind.  One of my teammates suggested that this would be a good time for the captain to take the helm.  You know, for the photographers at the finish line.  That’s what I call a good team player.  While the conditions were challenging they weren’t anything like a couple nights ago when even Yosemite Sam, one of our best helmsmen, could barely hold on.  I had but one thought as I took the wheel, don’t crash!  Which meant don’t accidently jib – you could lose not only the race but the rig.  Or, don’t ‘round up’ and put the boat on its side.   It’s like the last 5% of a construction project is really what can really make or break a team.

Jeff driving = relaxed and going fast.

Me driving = full concentration trying not to screw up.

#9.  When the boat/project goes over on its side, stay with the boat, it will come up. About 100 miles out we were in the middle of a real rainy squall.  None of the previous ones had produced winds over 20-25 knows so we just kind of enjoyed the rain.  All of a sudden a gust of at least 30 knots hit us.  Craig tried to fight the wheel, I let go of the mainsheet and Chris let go of the vang in a effort to ‘offload’ the gust but all to no avail.  Sauvage went over on her side with the mast in the water for what seemed like 6 minutes.  It was more like 6 seconds.  Then she gamely came up, the spinnaker remarkably refilled by itself and she sailed on as if nothing had happened.   Except that the guys in the cabin stuck their heads up and complained about the 10 gallons of water that came thru the leeward hatches ruining the lunch they were making. The automatic bilge pump took care of that in short order.  The moral:  Don’t give up if you’re knocked down.  And don’t eat the soggy pizza.

Chris driving at sunset.

#10.  Don’t not commit to doing another race/project – at least until you’ve had a few Mai Tai’s and seen the pictures. Fortunately they only do the Transpac every other year.  So you have two years to ponder whether you’d put yourself and your boat thru this again.  And, of course, the older we get the more we forget.  I just got the picture of us crossing the finish line with Diamond Head in the background — attached.  It was taken by the committee boat a hundred yards away.  Sauvage looks clean, she’s going fast andthere’s no smell.   Kind of like some projects I know —  after they’re finished.  The photos, awards, relationships and bar talk – it’s all good.   And you/we keep coming back for more!  So don’t count us out for 2013.  I’ve got to revisit those 50’s TV reruns.  SO OK, HERE’S THE DEAL.  IF YOU’VE READ THIS FAR AND YOU’RE THE FIRST PERSON WHO CAN NAME THE STAR OF “HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL”, I WILL MAIL YOU A SIGNED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK, “RAISING THE BAR ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECT TEAMWORK:  FROM GOOD TO WORLD CLASS”.  AND IT’S NO FAIR USING GOOGLE!

Finished!

Good Luck,

Captain Jim (semi retired?)

Official Transpac Finisher Paperweight

  • Reply

    steve arnold

    19 09 2011

    the star of tv show was Richard Boone
    team work and good coordination are essential
    for sucessfull project, i think your annalogies of your sailing trip vs. real life
    is very good.

  • Reply

    Harry Cosomos

    19 09 2011

    Hello Jim,

    Great photos! I recall that it was Richard Boone and the more lyrics were “Have gun will travel reads the card of the man. ????? in a savage land.

    I look forward to partnering on the 22th for Camp Pendleton.
    Harry

  • Reply

    Raymond

    19 09 2011

    That is easy, it is Richard Boone.

  • Reply

    Judd Christensen

    19 09 2011

    I believe it was Richard Boone or Paladin. He was also the bad guy in Big Jake opposite John Wayne.It was one of my dad’s favorites.

  • Reply

    Dan Brown

    20 09 2011

    Intrigued by your sailing adventure…future sailor. Called my father to get answer, not internet, Richard Boone

  • Reply

    Dan Holmquist

    20 09 2011

    Paladin came right to mind, but I had to look up Richard Boone. Send me a book anyway though.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  • Reply

    Gunther M Liedl

    20 09 2011

    Richard Boone!, and send me my “Raising the Bar on Construction Project Teamwork”

    Thanks and congratulation on the finish. I will be on for 2013 with my “Flyer”.

  • Reply

    Dave Mahaffay

    21 09 2011

    the Star of HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL is Richard Boone.. — as Palladon ….

    Great adventure and accomplishment for you and the crew. I flew to Honolulu this July, and it IS A LONG WAY !! CONGRATULATIONS FOR COMPLETING THE RACE..

  • Reply

    Don Brier

    21 09 2011

    Looks like a job well planned and executed.

    Makes it fun and entertaining also.

    Congratulations to all of you!

  • Reply

    Alfonso

    21 09 2011

    Jim, Congratulations as far as I can see you are a winner!!! You were my evening entertainment along with my wife we enjoyed all the daily updates. Just like a construction project you planned, started and finished on time UNDER BUDGET (ONLY ONE BEER EACH) We’ll hear from you for the 2013 race and in between stay well regards, Alfonso

  • Reply

    Alfonso

    21 09 2011

    Jim, Congratulations as far as I can see you are a winner!!! Just like a constructions project you planned, started and finished on time Under Budget (Only one beer each). Hope to hear from you for the 2013 race and inbetween stay well regards, Alfonso

  • Reply

    Sam Sabin

    21 09 2011

    Richard Boone, from memory, no google. His calling card had a black knight on it.

  • Reply

    Sam Sabin

    21 09 2011

    Congratulations on a world class achievement by what I’m sure is world class team!!

  • Reply

    Pat McCormick

    21 09 2011

    Hey Jim:

    This is pretty cool. I especially liked #4 and #6. Should never be afraid to change a goal if it needs to be changed. I liked #6 from a technical standpoint and #8 is just “pressure”. Nice Work.

    pat

  • Reply

    Alec Williamson

    21 09 2011

    Hi there- It’s Chuck Connor!!!

    I am probably not first, but I thought I would drop you a line and say thanks for the good words and your help on the AWV Bored Tunnel project.

  • Reply

    Betsey Dougherty

    22 09 2011

    Great job, Jim! You won just by finishing and even contemplating doing it again. may the wind be at your back!

    Betsey

  • Reply

    Lois Autie

    23 09 2011

    Hi Jim,
    Lois here from URS. I did get to the end of the photo tour of Sauvage’s escapades in 2011… laugh out loud inspiration!
    May the wind be constantly at your back.
    Lois

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