Maui cruisers set sail

Sailors watch horizon for Japanese tsunami debris during race

Skipper Jim McLauchlan stands aboard his yacht Big Ben

Here’s hoping the crew aboard Big Ben can get her to Maui, considering neither the skipper nor first mate has ever been to Hawaii.

Despite holding decades of sailing experience (more than a century between them) neither skipper Jim McLauchlan nor first mate Tony Roberts managed to make it to those particular Pacific islands. Both bear accented speech (English and South African), indicating their seas have been elsewhere most of their lives.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for years,” said McLauchlan of the Victoria to Maui International Yacht Race they embarked July 5 from Victoria. “It’s from here to Maui which is a good place to go. Everything is governed for safety. … You might skip on something (otherwise), now you have to do it.”

Vic-Maui runs every second year starting in Victoria and finishing near Lahaina, Maui – a 2,308 nautical mile trip. The co-ed crew of Big Ben – two women, two men make up each four-person shift – will swap off six-hour shifts as they aim for a two-week sail to Hawaii.

“Half our crew don’t even live on the water,” Roberts said with a chuckle as a swift breeze swept across the Inner Harbour Tuesday afternoon. Two are from Calgary, one from Saskatoon.

“There are some situations when it will be all hands on deck,” he added. Big Ben is among four in the ‘cruising’ division. The racing division of 10 leaves July 7. By midday today the cruisers hope to be nearing the Oregon coast – weather permitting.

The skipper and first mate share a concern over the winds, recounting a couple of races ago when some sailors were forced to bail at San Francisco after a month. You could run out of power, water and food, “things you can mitigate,” the skipper said. “You can’t mitigate for the weather.”

Though you are allowed to use the “mechanical sail” or motor on occasion he noted.

Tsunami debris provides a new tangle on the minds of the eight sailors aboard Big Ben.

“It’s a big concern,” McLauchlan said. “We’ve got some ways around it and that’s why it’s good to be in this group. … There’s a good chance we may see these things and be able to report it.”

Search Facebook for Oak Bay Sailing School to follow the crew’s views during the race. Follow all the action.

Just Posted

Ongoing Saanich Schools strike forces production of ‘Matilda the Musical’ to Esquimalt High

Four Seasons Musical Theatre had to find alternative venue for production

Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

Support workers receive show of solidarity from parents during rally outside school district office

Saanich ranked third for participation in FortisBC energy-efficient upgrades program

800 older apartment buildings in B.C. have received upgrades since 2015

Provincial funding allows Greater Victoria immigrants, refugees better access to counselling services

The Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees was a recipient of new funds

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Most Read