Chubby Girl Cruising

During the past several weeks when we had moderate to strong ocean winds and waves I have been sea trialing Chubby Girl, and have found that she is very difficult to steer a straight course in all but calm conditions.  In discussions with a naval architect, he has made recommendations to haul the boat and install underwater fins on the aft corners and to reduce water weight by installing a water maker. (I guess this is part of the development of an one-off experimental craft that is so short and wide.)  That way the boat should track straight and be able to self-steer, which is critical for a long ocean passage.  To do these design and construction changes will require that I will not be able to leave by the end of October, which is at the end of my pre-winter Pacific storm weather window. 

I will make these modifications as soon as I get the designs from the naval architect, and will then spend much of the winter storm season sea-trialing the boat in the San Francisco Bay. I will now leave at my next weather window in April.

My .name is Wilbur Spaul and I have created this blog to record my attempt to sail single-handed from San Francisco to Hawaii in the smallest boat (8-feet long) for this passage. I am setting off from San Francisco in October 2019 and hope to complete the trip in 2 or 3 months. During my trip, I’ll be periodically updating my position at sea; hopefully, about once a week.

This trip is dedicated to Gerry Spiess, who 40 years ago this year sailed a 10-foot home-built boat across the Atlantic and about 2 years later he sailed the 10-footer across the Pacific. He currently holds the world record for the Pacific crossing in the smallest boat. In June of this summer he passed away after a long bout with Parkinson’s Disease.  

Estimated Sail Date April 1, 2020



San Francisco to Hawaii

After passing under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay and entering the Pacific Ocean, I will steer south by southwest to about the same latitude as the middle of Baja Mexico.  There is a North Pacific High Pressure zone off the shore of California, which lies on the direct path to Hawaii from California, and I must sail to the east and south of this high pressure zone; otherwise, I could be becalmed for extended times with no wind in this doldrum area. This could become a problem since food and water are limited and rationed. After I get further south and into the trade winds, I will turn to the west and ride these winds to Hawaii. 

This path to skirt the High Pressure Zone will add about 700 to 800 miles to the trip, and will require I carry additional water and food in a very limited space. This High Pressure Zone moves around, usually shifts to the south during the fall and winter, and for this reason, I need to monitor the barometric pressure so I can dodge this High Pressure Zone.  

I will be aiming for four waypoints during the passage.  Waypoints are latitude and longitude positions. The minus sign in front of the longitude position means “west longitude”, which is where I  will be until I cross the International date line after Hawaii — if I go further. A latitude and longitude have 60 minutes, so 21.48  degrees North latitude is 21 degrees and 28.8 minutes North latitude.  Latitude lines run horizontal from the equator (0 degrees)  up to 90 degrees north and south , and longitude lines run vertical and run east and west from Greenwich England, which is Longitude zero degrees and go out 180 degrees East and West.  Between California and Hawaii, I will be in North Latitudes and West Longitudes. 

Chubby Girl and Wil


Chubby Girl is a custom-designed and built 8 -foot sailboat by Wilbur Spaul in 2018/2019.  The sail rig is an A-frame twin mast design that is raked aft.  There is a very small main sail  and  twin jibs.  She is tiny as far as an ocean boat is concerned.  The interior height between the cabin sole (floor)  and the overhead is about 31 inches, or about the height under a dining room table or office desk. I cannot sit up straight when the overhead hatch is closed. 

Chubby Girl got her name by the following:
     1. Boats are usually referred to in the feminine gender;   
     2.She is short and wide, which by definition would be a “Chubby Girl”.

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