Category Archives: ALS

Episode 8: Short but not so sweet

Hey everyone, this’ll be a short one…

Right, so right off the bat, I should tell you that it’s World War III on deck here. We just endured the worst f%&#ing night since we started the race. Enormous gusts pushing 40kts under full spinnaker, boat surfs between 17-18kts with no letting up resulting in broach after broach after debacle. Like the worst we’ve ever had. Everything we needed in the moment broke: boom-vang, spinnaker pole, lines, you name it. We channeled our inner Mark Watney and started troubleshooting one problem at a time, but the spinnaker just wanted to keep wrapping itself like a damn burrito around the forestay. Lost 2 halyards and I’ll unhappily make a list later of the sh!t that went down. With all this, we still don’t have a damn autopilot and must continue to switch off helm duty: there has been no rest whatsoever since the Captain’s Dinner.
Right now we’re just continuing to sort through minor issues and organizing the deck, but the wind is much stronger than it was before. We’re soaking wet and exhausted. We can’t wait until the finish line: that’s pretty much all that matters to us now. At this pace, we are projecting a Friday morning-to-noonish arrival.
We’re covering our asses, safety-wise, so no worries there.
Much angry love from the disastrous deck of Thirsty.

Ground-based Crew Says Aloha…oh and thanks.

Well, the race is over for Thirsty and we’re all very proud of them. All of us at the GBC, that’s the Ground-Based Crew (yeah we’ve got names and acronyms too here…one of our computers was nicknamed “Sloth” for obvious reasons), have been humbled and honored to be just a small part of getting what action was going on the boat out onto the internet.

The GBC had quite the task to perform: translating and writing all of the blog posts and Facebook entries. Let us run through the communication plan with you to explain a little of what was going on behind the scenes.

Communication onboard Thirsty was only via satellite, meaning mucho dinero pricey. Charly or Fred would write up the previous day’s summary and send it by 9am Pacific time. Due to the insane cost of kilobytes traveling from boat to space and back to us on the ground (go figure), words were sparse as were the pictures. It was up to us to translate from French to English and fill-in with a little more ornate language than was provided to us by the Thirsty crew. If you know Charlie & Fred, you know they like to joke around, so at times we could tell that there was a funny anecdote that could’ve been written. So, we decided to pretend we were them by writing long and hopefully humorous diatribes to fill in and give tone to the story.

Sometimes we wouldn’t get pictures and we needed to pull from some stock we had (no, we aren’t as good as the guys who supposedly faked the moon landing…because it was never faked) to help animate the story. Some times we would get multiple messages per day; some good and some not-so-good. We needed to shed light on some notes that were sent talking about dangers encountered (a flipped over fishing vessel), days of frustration (Aeolus sleeping on the job), technical difficulties (some keys failing to work on Thirsty’s only PC onboard: tht ws hrd to del with…we’d like to buy a vowel please!), and emotional setbacks (reminiscing what this race could have been like with Gilles still around). We were living vicariously through our two sea-going heroes.

Towards the end of the race, our two sailors were visibly tired. We say “visibly” because we could see it in their emails: the tone shifted, the emails got shorter, and the punctuation went out the window. They were both pushing for a cause and wanted to make the biggest splash for the ALS Association they possibly could. Yes, in the end we are short on our donation goal, but these two guys literally bridged a gap between the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter’s always-covered territory of California and newly-covered tropical territory of Hawaii. They sailed in with Iron Horse up, big smiles, and got the word out. They did it for a good cause, in memory of a great friend, and for more stories to be told.

The race may be over for Thirsty, but it’s far from the end for the race to a cure for ALS. will be up for a long time and donations can still be made…even if not on the website, donate on the ALS Association’s website ( and click on “Donate” at the top right-hand side of your screen. Doesn’t really matter: the money goes to the same bank account funding care and future cures for ALS patients (100% of donations on SailingforALS go directly to the ALS Association).

We love all of you guys. We love you for reading. We love you for caring. We love you for sharing. And we love you for being there.

So from all of us on the ground (Leslie, Gary, Matt, Phillip and Christine) and full-time employees at the ALS Association (Jenica, Cherryl, Julie, and Fred), we are signing off for the day and will return with videos and photos of the whole experience.

Tonight, we got a call from Charly and Fred, three Mai-tai’s in and damn happy to be on land: the morale is back up and they are ready for another race…maybe not next year but probably the year after that. Additionally, the crew of Thirsty would like to send a shout out to Kay, an ALS patient of many years now who came to see the guys and their boat in San Francisco to send them off…it’s her birthday. So Charly and Fred both say “Bon anniversaire Kay” and so do we. Happy Birthday Kay.

OK, that’s it now.

Good night from the California Crew.

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Last Night, Last Few Miles

Aloha Mateys!

It’s 4am here. We have 64 miles to go…that’s right, we’re in the double digits now.

Yesterday was not a walk in the park: a weather front moved through and was pushing 30kts+ of wind. We must have made five sail and rigging changes in one afternoon.

Since last night, we’ve been pushing as hard as we can on a direct route to the finish line. We’ve been dealing with some random yet strong rain showers the past two days, but last night was monsoon-mode just for good measure on top of all the weather crap we had to deal with already.

We’re exhausted but still have enough energy to be excited for the finish and the welcoming celebration. Seeing our friends and drinking Mai Tai’s have taken over our dreams, hallucinations, etc.

We’ll get you some pictures later because we didn’t have much time to work with my limping computer the past 24 hours. We did however have GoPro’s strapped, so we captured plenty of video.

That’s it for the news. Stay tuned for our newest adventure: hot showers, ice cold beers and Mai Tais of course.

We have plenty of things to do before our expected arrival of 1pm-ish local time, so I think this may be our last blog entry via satellite. Once again, we’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and their donations to the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter.

Hawaiian hula hugs from now 61.4NM to go!

– Charly & Fred