Reflections from an all-women TransPac team

Charlie Arms, sailing program director and head sailing coach at California Maritime, jumped at the chance to join her friends on an all-women boat in this summer’s Trans Pacific Yacht Race. Arms, along with the vessel’s owner, Sally Lindsey Honey, and crewmates, Liz Baylis and Melinda Erckelens, sailed Illusion, a Cal 40 from Los Angeles to Hawaii in 14 days. They placed second in the Cal 40 class of 14 boats and 19th overall.

One of the TransPac requirements is to submit at least four celestial fixes taken during the course of the race. This ensures each boat retains the ability for all-celestial navigation and keeps alive a fading skill. Despite a week of cloudy weather after departure from the California coast, the skies cleared and enabled Illusion’s crew to take some shots.

“I think it is great that we keep the tradition of celestial navigation in an age where we have weatherfaxes in our computer and fantastic navigation software that can pull up a chart and tell you where you are and your ETA to the next waypoint,” Arms wrote in an email interview after the race. “Liz joked that on her last race if they could have been where the celestial fixes had them, they would have finished the race a day or so earlier.”

While Arms is an accomplished sailor – she is past champion of the U.S. Women’s Open, double-handed division, and the recipient of numerous sailing awards – she said she relished the opportunity to join a long-distance voyage.

“Working at a maritime academy, I envy my collogues and my [student] sailors who go to sea,” Arms said. “There is something about the routine of a watch schedule and the beauty of a sunrise or a moonrise at sea that together make the work of sailing this boat on three hours of sleep at a time simple compared to the complexity and chaos of living on land in civilization.”

Arms hopes to rally a Cal Maritime boat for the next TransPac.

By Ocean Navigator