A Shot in the Dark

Achieving goals often requires taking risks, but all too often in life, we’re afraid to take that shot in the dark.

Blind since the age of 8, Lex Gillette was determined not to let that fact keep him from achieving his goals. By the age of 32, Lex had earned 4 Paralympic medals, 2 world championships, and a world record in the long jump.

At 9, Lex asked his parents for a basketball hoop he could hang on the back of his door.  He tied the bottom of the net together so the ball wouldn’t fall out and he began taking shots. In the beginning he was terrible but with practice he was soon able to make the ball go in the basket from anywhere in his room by envisioning where the hoop was.

What he realized was that in life, sometimes we’re afraid to take a shot in the dark.  But envisioning where that rim was helped him sharpen his focus tremendously. It was this razer sharp focus that propelled Les to win 17 national championships.

Picture this, a tall, lean, black athlete standing at the end of the long jump runway.  But this athlete is blind.  His coach is at the other end of the runway, past the landing pit.  This blind athlete tunes into his coach’s audible instructions.  His coach then begins to clap and yells “fly, fly, fly”.

Lex homed in on the sound of his voice and took off in his direction.  On the 16th stride he lept into the air and soared to a world record jump.  He heard the roar of the crowd and knew he would be making a tip to the gold medal stand.

Was Lex born with the desire to succeed or does it come from facing adversity?

Do we need to lose our sight in order to see a better version of ourselves? The best view of ourselves?

Navigating through life without the use of eyesight has allowed Lex to ascend to new heights and push the limits of courage, faith and self-determination. The inability to see was not the determining factor in whether Lex would succeed or not. It was having a vision, seeing something before it is in existence, and working tirelessly to bring it to life.

It is that very power that has propelled Lex Gillette into being the best totally blind long jumper in the world. The ability to see things before they exist is a power available to all of us. Lex believes that the dream of flight can become a reality limited only by the power of your imagination. When you have a vision of soaring to new heights…wings are just a detail.
Close your eyes now and envision your highest potential, paint a picture of yourself at your absolute best.

What do you see?  Do you see your life the way it currently is?  Do you see your business, your practice, your relationships with your spouse, your kids, your co-workers as they currently are? Or do you see them how they could be?  What does that vision look like?  Vision your relationships with those most important to you, family, friends, customers, partners.  Vision your health, your wellbeing, your serenity, your peace.  What do you see?  Vision your lifestyle, does it match up to what you see?  If not, are you willing to put in the time and effort so it will?

Lex would remind himself that “For those determined to fly, having no wings is just a little detail.”
“Sight shows us what is, Vision shows us what could be.”

“Sight shows us our current reality, Vision allows us to have that reality”

“Vision gives us the ability to show us where we want to go, and who we want to be.  A lot of people have perfect sight, but they don’t have 20/20 vision.”

“Don’t accept the current sight in front of you, have a vision of what your realty could be.  Sight limits us to see what is, Vision frees us to see what could be.  Either accept the current realty or take a shot in the dark.”


Why you can’t always call a Spade a Spade

Names are very personal, everyone has one.  Either the name our parents gave us when we were born, the one a woman takes sometimes when she gets married, or the one you legally change it to for other reasons.  Either way everyone has a name they go by.  But sometimes, your name is not your name.

As we know, corporations also have names.  It’s not too uncommon for corporations to use the same name as the person who founded it.

  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Tony Roma’s
  • Charles Schwab
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Estée Lauder
  • Hugo Boss
  • John Deere
  • Johnnie Walker
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Liz Claiborne
  • Kate Spade

Let me tell you the story about Kate Spade, Liz Claiborne and Neiman Marcus.

The person Kate Spade’s real name today is “Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade”.  When she was born in 1962 her parents named her” Katherine Noel Brosnahan”

After graduating from Arizona State in 1985 she moved in with Andy Spade (brother of actor and comic David Spade).

In January 1993, Kate Brosnahan and Andy Spade launched the New York–based design company “kate spade handbags”. The next year Kate and Andy were married but she never legally changed her name to take on her husband’s last name.

Kate Spade Handbags, as the name implies, initially sold handbags, but eventually extended to clothing, jewelry, shoes, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, tabletop, bedding and gifts.

In 1996, the Kate Spade brand opened its first boutique, a 400-square-foot shop located in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo district, and moved its headquarters into a 10,000-square-foot space in West 25th Street.

In 1999, Neiman Marcus purchased 56% of the Kate Spade, the company.  In October 2006, the company purchased all minority interest for approximately $59.4 million.

Neiman Marcus, the company, was founded in 1907 by Herbert Marcus, his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman and her husband Al Neiman.  Today, Neiman Marcus Group is owned by two private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus.

Neiman Marcus then sold the Kate Spade label for $124 million in 2006 to Liz Claiborne Inc., which was later renamed to Fifth & Pacific.

Liz Claiborne, the person, launched her own design company, Liz Claiborne Inc., in 1976. It was an immediate success, with sales of $2 million in 1976 and $23 million in 1978. Liz Claiborne Inc. went public in 1981 and made the Fortune 500 list in 1986 with retail sales of $1.2 billion.

In February 2014, Fifth & Pacific, now owned by Liz Claiborne Inc. changed its name back to Kate Spade & Company.

In 2016, Kate Spade, the person, wanted to go back into business a collection of luxury footwear and handbags.  She sold the rights to her name, Kate Spade back in 1999 so she called the new company Frances Valentine named after two of her family members and she legally changed her name from Katherine Noel Brosnahan to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade.

She recently went into a Kate Spade store in New York to buy a gift for her daughter Frances Beatrix Spade.  When the sales clerk asked if she wanted to be on their mailing list she just smiled. Her daughter said, “mom tell her”.  Kate politely told the clerk that she was sure she was already on it.

The Unsung American Hero


I was in the Albuquerque airport the other day having a quick dinner before my flight home when two servicemen from Kirtland Air Force Base sat down near me.  When I finished my meal, I went to the cash register to pay my bill and told the cashier that I’d like to pick up the tab for the two servicemen who just sat down.  She politely told me that I couldn’t because another guest had already picked it up.

I can remember, not too long ago in the Vietnam era, when our men and women in the armed forces were not as well regarded as they are today. I didn’t hear of anyone back then offering to buy them a meal, let alone thanking them for their service.  Many of them were looked down upon by the very citizens they were fighting to protect.  Now, just a couple of generations later, they are revered and looked up to as the national heroes that they are.

Some of the business owners I meet with these days feel the same way that those Vietnam servicemen felt back then.  They sometimes get the feeling that the general public, politicians and bureaucrats think all of them gouge their customers, pollute the environment and make way too much money on the backs of their hard-working employees.

Our elected officials play right into this myth while at the same time acknowledging that small business is the engine that can solve most of our economic problems. As proof, business owners point to all the anti-growth policies that have been enacted over the past few years.  Laws like ObamaCare and minimum wage increases that make hiring workers prohibitively expensive.

Restrictive Dodd-Frank provisions have led community banks to finance fewer and fewer new businesses despite their unique knowledge of the local markets.  It’s easier for an 18-year-old high school student to get a college loan than it is for a 25-year-old entrepreneur to get a small business loan.  

Last month in California, voters approved a raft of new state marijuana laws presenting employers with hazy challenges when it comes to workplace drug testing.  Employers should tread carefully when testing workers for pot under drug-free workplace policies.  Firing or disciplining a worker for a positive drug test could open firms to legal challenges from employees.

In Los Angeles county, voters approved a ½ cent sales tax increase for Measure M to raise billions of dollars for transportation projects. This is in addition to over 30 school bonds and parcel tax assessments that passed and are also paid for by businesses.

According to a survey by the Kosmont-Rose Institute, eight Los Angeles area cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Long Beach, rank among the 20 most expensive cities to do business in the Western United States.

In Long Beach, where I live, the sales tax next year will be 10.25% but next door in Orange County the sales tax will be 7.75%.  That means I’ll save $5.00 in taxes if I buy $200 at the hardware store in Seal Beach, a mile away from my house, instead of in Long Beach.  The net effect will hurt small businesses in my neighborhood.

Entrepreneurs in this country are like salmon swimming upstream, they must overcome waterfalls, bears and man to make it to their spawning grounds.  Yet despite all these obstacles some of them still make it.

Alvaro Garcia is a 45-year-old father of 3 living in the San Gabriel Valley.  He came to this country from Nicaragua when he was 18 years old.  While attending high school and learning English, he got his first job as a Domino’s delivery driver.  The next year he was promoted to supervisor then district manager and a few years later he was able to buy a franchise.

When a Domino store became available, Garcia recruited his fellow employees to buy into what eventually became 22 stores doing over $7 million in sales.  In 2013 he sold his Domino franchise and, with 3 partners, bought a Jersey Mikes sandwich franchise.  Garcia now owns and operates 70 Jersey Mikes locations.  He does more than $30 million in sales and is providing jobs to hundreds of people living in Southern California and paying thousands of dollars in taxes, permits and fees.

My family is another example of entrepreneurs helping this country.  Between my grandfather, father, father-in-law, uncle, cousin, brothers and me, we have created thousands of jobs for all sorts of Americans as well as paying millions of dollars in taxes, permits and fees over the past several decades.

Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that small businesses account for 64% of all new jobs in this country and that companies less than five years old create more than 80% of all new jobs every year.  Yet fewer than 500,000 new businesses were started in 2015, that is a disastrous 30% decline from 2008. 

In the past eight years, more than a million new companies have “gone missing” from the economy. This absence accounts for an estimated 7 to 10 million jobs that, had they existed, could have provided employment for every one of the nation’s discouraged workers. Simply put, the U.S. will never reach full employment without more startups.

Donald Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”.  One way he can do this by creating an environment that enables at least one million Americans to start companies every year. Such an outcome would assure his target of 4% GDP growth, as well as full employment.

In California, elected officials are trying to find ways to fight the incoming administration.  Perhaps they should step back and see what’s missing in the golden state.  There’s a reason Florida, Texas and other red states are growing.  Those states have embraced an economic model that fosters job growth, lower taxes, fewer regulations and a government that is business friendly.

Yet here in California we have a state where a temporary tax was made permanent, a public pension plan is out of control and the governor and Legislature have no intention of cutting taxes or reducing regulations.

But what can you about it?  One thing you can do is the next time you see a business owner at dinner or in the bar buy him, or her, a drink and thank them for their service to our country.  For they are the Unsung American heroes.

Merit Badge Day at the Museum

One Hundred Boy Scouts descended upon the International Printing Museum in Carson California Saturday, August 13th, to earn two merit badges; Pulp & Paper and Graphic Arts.  Thanks to over 20 museum and industry volunteers the boys made paper, silk screened t-shirts, and printed cards that they designed that day.


Ten groups of ten boys rotated every half hour to various stations set up around the museum property in order to pass the requirements for the two merit badges.  On the museum grounds volunteers helped the boys blend pulp which was then poured onto wire frames allowing each boy to take home the paper they made.


Boys also silk screened their own commemorative Merit Badge Day T-shirt while volunteers taught the boys about various bindery methods in order to fulfill that requirement for the graphic arts merit badge as well as how to identify the various types of printing they run across at home and at school.


Since the first Merit Badge Day on May 7th 2011 over 2,000 boys have been exposed to the graphic arts and paper industry at the International Printing Museum.  Mark Barbour, curator of the museum, Dan Freeland, museum chairman, and I came up with the idea to host a merit badge day in order to promote paper making and the graphic arts to a generation of kids raised on iPads and cell phones.  This was during a time when funding was cut in the education system for printing programs.


Fewer and fewer boys are learning about the printing and paper industries and we thought there might be a desire among the boy scouts to learn while earning a merit badge.  I contacted the Boy Scout National Office back then and learned that the Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper Merit Badges were among the least popular of all the merit badges boys can earn.  When my son was in scouts, I remembered that Merit badge days were popular among boys seeking rank advancement. At the same time Mark had been working on a way to get the Boy Scouts more involved with the museum so we came up with the idea of creating a Merit Badge Day.

When asked why they signed up, one boy from Orange County said he had always been interested in Printing and this sounded “Cool”.  Another boy said he liked engineering and he thought a job in this industry might be interesting.  A third scout said he was there because his friend decided to come and he liked the chance to make something by hand.

Because of the Merit Badge Day, the Printing Museum now has a steady stream of new visitors, the Boy Scouts now have a way to learn about our industry while earning two merit badges, and the printing industry is once again educating a group of smart and engaged boys who will soon enter the workforce. Now thousands of boys are learning about the careers and benefits of the graphic arts and paper industries.

Just one word. Plastics.


In 2005 when I sailed to Hawaii from Los Angeles, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t see some large piece of floating trash out there.

It’s estimated that there are 200 million tons of trash floating around in the ocean right now.ocean trash

8 million tons of plastic are added each year. That’s the same as one garbage truck dumping its contents on the beach, every minute of every day!

dump at beachThe US only recycles 8% of the plastic we use. Of the remaining plastic we don’t use 75% goes into landfills and 25% of it ends up in the ocean.

After several years’ plastic breaks down into “microbeads” which are ingested by fish and eventually us.

plastic in fish

If you’ve been following the Olympics in Rio you may have heard the story about the trash and pollution in Guanabara Bay where the Sailing competition is taking place.  Conditions are so bad there that German sailor Eddie Byers was hospitalized from an infection he contracted while practicing on the Olympic venue. This problem isn’t new to Olympic sailors, they experienced similar polluted conditions when they competed in the 2008 Beijing and the 1988 Seoul Games.

But these polluted water conditions are not limited to nations not known for their environmental policies.  Just last month the beaches in Long Beach were closed for a week due to a sewage spill into the Los Angeles River originating from a few blocks east of us on 6th street.

But sewers can be fixed and the water runoff can go through treatment facilities before heading to the oceans.  We can see the results from our shorelines but what most of us don’t see is the large collection of plastic trash currently circulating in the world’s oceans.

NP gyre

There are 5 areas in the world where, due to the ocean currents, trash collects in large clusters, these areas are known as GYRE’s.  The largest is the North Pacific gyre 500 miles North East of Hawaii, otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  This area is not on the major shipping lanes and few sailors travel in this area, and it’s a good thing because the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as large as the State of Texas, and growing.

alguitaIn Long Beach, Captain Charles Moore, has been taking researchers out to the North Pacific Gyre since 1999 on his 50-foot research vessel Algalita.   Upon returning from their last trip in 2014 he reported that conditions have worsened by 20% from the way they were in 2009.  Plastic takes 400 years to dissolve naturally in the environment. If the trend of plastic in the ocean continues, he estimates, that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!


But what can be done to stop this man-made disaster?  How did we get to this point?



50 years ago a young actor named Dustin Hoffman was told by Mr. Robinson in The Graduate that the future is in plastic.  Little did he know that the future for the next 400 years will be in getting rid of that plastic.



There are only 4 things we can do with the plastic we use:

  1. Use less.  Use paper cups, use glass or Nalgene bottles, use paper grocery bags or bring your own.recycle
  2. Recycle.  90% of all plastic is not recycled. When you put your used plastic into a recycling container, that plastic gets hauled off and made into new plastic products.
  3. Toss it. You can toss your used plastic into the regular garbage can where it will be hauled to a landfill.  The problem with this is that that plastic will be broken down into micro particulates and leach into the water table, still staying around for 400 years.
  4. Litter. Some people carelessly toss their trash directly into the environment, into our oceans or onto our streets and hiking trails.  One bad habit, according to my wife, that I’ve gotten into is picking up other peoples’ trash when I come across it (as long as it isn’t too grouse).

In closing, remember.  The next time you look out into the ocean, it may look huge and beautiful but without our involvement it won’t stay that way for our kids and grand kids to enjoy like we have.

sand of beach caribbean sea

sand of beach caribbean sea

A Brand New You

For the past 35 years I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best designers in the country to bring some of the best brands in the world to life.  I had the privilege to work with Saul Bass when he designed the identity for The Getty Museum, Wolf Owens when they re-designed Aol, Debra Sussman when she designed the new identity for The Gas Company and Siegel & Gale when they designed the identity for the Port of Long Beach.

I’ve also been proud to have been selected by some of America’s leading brands to manage the printing part of their identity programs.  Brands such as Toyota, Edison, Activision Blizzard, Occidental Petroleum, Fluor and Paul Hastings along with thousands of others.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that brands are more than just logos, they represent the personality of the company.

Marcus Bartlett, creative director for UTA Brand Studio, recently illustrated for me the difference between marketing, advertising, public relations and branding.  He explained it this way:

A man walks into a bar and goes up to a beautiful girl and tells her “I’m a great lover”. –that’s marketing.

marketingA man walks into a bar and tells everyone in the room “I’m a great lover, I’m a great lover, I’m a great lover” – that’s advertising.

advertisingA man walks into a bar and he goes up to an attractive girl and offers her $100 to go around telling her friends “Trust me. He’s a great lover” – that’s public relations.

public relationsBut when a man walks into a bar and a girl walks up to him and says “I understand you’re a great lover” – that’s branding.


What’s the difference between a brand and your reputation?  Your brand is someone saying “I understand you’re a great lover” and your reputation confirms it.  Your brand is what you want others to say about you and your reputation validates that.

Branding; it all started with cattle.download

When ranchers needed a way to know whose cow was whose they branded them.  Then, during the industrial revolution product manufacturers needed a way to let the public know whose soup was whose and whose caramel colored soda was whose so they branded them.  The results were Coca-Cola and Campbell Soup among hundreds of others.  Then in advertising’s golden age of the 1060’s J. Walter Thompson attached personalities to brands with slogans like “it’s the real thing” and “mmm mmm good”.


In the early 1970’s brands began to attach feeling and emotion to them.  What Mad Men fan could forget the final episode when Don Draper dreams up the emotional ad for Coca-Cola “I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”.

By the 1980’s brands had become a valuable asset of a company.  What else could explain the fact that in 1988 Phillip Morris bought Kraft Foods for 6 times what Kraft was worth on paper.kraft


As one example of how valuable brands can be, consider the story of Grey Goose Vodka.


In 1996 Sidney Frank, a 60-year-old German Spirits distributor, started with a story about a vodka he called Grey Goose.  The story was how French artisans crafted fine vodka in their fields over generations to come up with the perfect purist vodka on earth.  What Frank did next was brilliant, he priced his new vodka twice as much as the other brands that were then on the market.  Instead of selling Grey Goose for around $17.00 a bottle like everyone else, Frank priced his vodka at $30.00 a bottle.

grey goose best

But in order for the public to buy his more expensive vodka he had to have someone else, an expert, tell the world that Grey Goose was the best.  So he started entering his vodka into contest after contest until he finally won.  He then took out full page ads in the Wall Street Journal in 1998 stating that The Beverage Institute of Chicago voted Grey Goose Vodka the “World’s Best Tasting Vodka”.  The public believed it and sales took off.

Eight years later, in 2006, Sidney Frank sold Grey Goose to Bacardi for $2 billion dollars.  But sadly, Frank never got to enjoy his riches for long, he died one week after the deal closed while flying on his private jet to New York City.



Every year the New York branding company Interbrand publishes their “Top 100 Brands of the World”.  In 2015 those brands were:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. Microsoft
  5. IBM

Today, according to Interbrand, brands need to move with the speed of life.  Since we are exposed to thousands of brands every day, brands need to live in micro-moments that weave into our lives as we live them. The top brands today are customer centric in the “age of you”.


By now you may be asking yourself, what is my brand? 

What is the promise I’m making to my customers? 

Is it “I’m the best tax attorney in California”? 

Is it “We make our customers rich”?

Be honest with yourself, does your reputation support your claim? 

Have you always saved your clients money on their taxes? 

Have you never lost a dime for any of your clients?

Remember, your brand is about relevancy and differentiation and your reputation is about legitimacy.

What does yours say about you?



Jim Barber, Scott Barber, Bill Wright, Don Burdge, Steve Calhoun before the start of Pac Cup 2016 at the St Francis Yacht Club


It’s Friday morning four days after our start in the Pacific Cup race and I’m sitting at home.  The past four days have not been anything like we had planned.

The wind for the start at 10:00 Monday morning off the St Francis Yacht club was stronger than we had expected.  so we used our smaller #3 jib expecting the wind to build, it didn’t.  In fact, once we passed under the golden gate bridge the wind began to die.  Redhead, another Cal 40 like ours and our main competition, had started with their bigger #1 jib and they were sailing faster than us.  We changed sails and began catching them as we headed 25 miles toward the Farallon Islands.  Our goal was to get into the stronger synoptic wind past the Farallon’s before nightfall, and we did.

Steve and Jim sailing past the golden gate

Steve and Jim sailing past the golden gate

Just past the golden gate we must have passed about a dozen humpback whales which we took as a good sign.  Just off Point Bonita I was sitting on the deck and about 5 yards ahead of me I heard the “swoosh” of breath and spray of two humpback whales coming up right next to us.  Their strong gray backs and small dorsal fins arching in the water next to us was a beautiful sight to see.  Then their huge graceful tails guiding them down to depths below us as if they were waving good-bye.

I went down below deck and rested for a few hours before my first watch from 1000 – 1200.  Below decks the cabin was organized to us, but would have looked cramped and chaotic to any sane person.  We had our nine sails arraigned on the portside of the cabin floor with our gear bags and foul weather gear thrown on top of them.


Steve below deck checking our position

By the time I woke for my first watch the wind was up to 20kts and building, we were in the synoptic wind before sundown that we had hoped for.  For the next hour it increased to 25kts and we decided it was time to put a reef into the mainsail.  A reef is when you lower the sail about 3 feet down the mast and tie the part you lowered onto the boom.  This has the effect of decreasing the sail area and giving you more control over the boat.

By the time I went off watch at 1200 we were sailing along at 8-10kts with winds 25-28kts and the seas were 8-10 feet crashing over our bow.  Every few minutes a huge wave would come crashing against the side of the boat and gallons of cold (53 degree) seawater would come pouring over us, drenching anyone on deck.

Our watches consisted of two of us taking turns at the helm for an hour each.  I shared my watch with Steve Calhoun and Bill Wright.  When I came up on deck I relieved Steve who went off watch to bed, then Bill came up and sat with me as I steered for an hour.  When my 2-hour watch was over I went down below and woke Jim up to stay with Bill as he drove.

My next watch was at 0100 the next morning.  As I got out of my warm bunk I could tell it was still blowing strong outside.  With the boat pitching and rolling 45 degrees in the dark it seemed like it took forever to find and put my wet foul weather gear and boots on; including my PFD (life vest) with the harness used to clip into the boat whenever we were on deck.

On watch Steve was driving as I took a tour around the deck to make sure things looked as they should.  The wind had dropped down a little, to about 20kts, so we determined it would be a good idea to take the reef out of the main.  We got Jim and Scott up and on deck to raise the sail back up to its full height.  Our speed stayed the same and we were still under control so we felt we made the right decision.

By this time the wind had clocked around and was coming off our weather rail at about 60 degrees.  This meant that we had the boom out about 5 feet over the side of the boat as we trimmed the sails for maximum speed.  The seas were still very rough and wet, cold water was still spraying us as we hunkered down in the cockpit.  As I drove from 0200 to 0300 I couldn’t help think of the fireworks I saw the weekend before during the 4th of July.  The spray off the bow was illumined by the red and green running lights of our ship made them look like our private firework show along with the sound of the crashing hull against the waves.

There were high clouds during my watch which kept the stars and moon hidden from view.  This meant that the only light was from our running lights.  As I looked into the darkness I could see only the white crests of the waves as they rolled and growled beneath us.  The only sound we heard was that of the wind howling in the rigging and the sound the sails as they strain to pull us forward.

At 0300 my watch was over and I went down below to wake up Jim who was to relive me.  As I put my head in the cabin to wake him I hear an unusual noise, a clanging and rattling that I hadn’t heard before.  I asked Jim about it and he said he heard it too.  We agreed that when Jim went up on watch that he’d look around the deck to see if something was loose.

Jim got his foulies on as I was taking mine off and crawling into the warm bunk he was vacating.  Bill was steering now and I hear Jim walking around above me checking things out.  Then all of a sudden I heard him scream in a panic I had never heard before.


Steve, Scott and I scrambled to put our foul weather gear, boots and life jackets on as quickly as possible then rushing outside in the rolling seas and howling wind.  By the time we were on deck Jim had used a spare line to lash the base of the mast in place, which was sitting on the cabin top two inched next to where it was supposed to be, hopefully to prevent it from sliding any further and falling into the water.


Our mast lashed in place 2 inches to starboard from where it should be

As Bill kept the boat on a steady course the rest of us struggled to take down the two sails and get them below deck.  We then went about lashing the mast and boom into place to try to make it as secure as possible in these rolling seas.

Once we had things tied down we checked to make sure there were no lines in the water before we started the engine.  The last thing we wanted to do was to have a loose line wrap itself around the prop and disabling our only means of propulsion.

We checked our position on the chart and determined we were about 140 miles west of Monterey Bay where they would have a boatyard suitable to help us.  We plotted a course and with our engine running at a steady 5kts headed toward land.

Once we felt we had our emergency under control we called the Coast Guard to let them know of our situation.

Steve: “Pan-pan, Pan-pan, United States Coast Guard this is the vessel Psyche.  Our position is 36.31 North, 124.40 West.  We have five crew onboard, all safe.  We have lost our mast but have it secured to our vessel.  We are on a heading 65 degrees for Monterey California and wanted to make you aware of our situation.  Do you copy, over?”  “This is United States Coast Guard San Francisco Station we copy you Psyche.  We will monitor your progress and we ask that you put your lifeboat on deck ready for deployment in case you need to abandon ship.  We also ask that you check in with us every hour to keep us informed of your situation”.  “Copy that Coast Guard, Psyche out.”


Steve calling the Coast Guard with Scott on watch

We also made a call to the Pacific Cup race committee informing them that we were withdrawing from the race and we called our wives to let them hear directly from us of our situation and that we were safe and abandoning the race.

Thirty hours later we pulled up to the dock at the Monterey Boat works and went about the process to have the mast pulled off the boat.  We consider ourselves very fortunate that during the day and a half we had to motor Psyche to safety that we were able to keep the rig onboard.  We had two fears after the initial accident, one was that the rig would be knocked over in a huge wave causing more damage to Psyche or to one of us.  The other was that we would run out of fuel before we made it to a safe harbor.  As it turned out we had about seven gallons of diesel left over.

As I look back over the events of the past few days I realize how fortunate we were.  If the mast was going to fail, at least it did so in a place that we could safely make it back to port.  Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the race it could have been dire if we had dis-masted in front of one of the hurricanes that are heading toward Hawaii.


Hurricane Darvey forecast to hit Hawaii Friday July 22.

We felt we would have done very well in this race.  As of this morning Redhead is leading our class and is in 4th overall.  They heard of our situation and relayed how disappointed they were that they didn’t have us out there to race against.


The Pac Cup racers today, Friday July 15 2016

There is a saying that life has a way of happening when you make other plans.  Perhaps we lost our mast where and when we did in order to save our boat and perhaps our lives.  We’ll never know but at least we’ll be here to race another day.


Bill Wright, Jim Barber, Steve Calhoun, Scott Barber, and me yesterday at the Monterey Boat Works with Psyche sans mast.