Photo: Charles Hambleton

Photo: Charles Hambleton

After selling the 43’ Dolphin Spirit Trimaran in October 2015, I had my second shoulder surgery, and began a long rehab.  Eventually I felt ready to sail again, but needed a smaller boat with smaller sails and reduced strain on my shoulders.  The well proven F-27 folding trimaran designed and built in the 1900’s would be the perfect boat, and I purchased one in March 2016, and re-named her Dolphin Spirit II.  Over the past three years I have upgraded Dolphin Spirit II with new rigging, new sails, a new outboard engine, and bottom paint which she never had living on a trailer. I have been taking out groups sailing on San Francisco Bay and on Tomales Bay where I kept her on a mooring in Marshall.  She has been all I expected - fast and easily to sail, with room and amenities inside for cruising. This spring 2019, I will trailer the boat up to British Columbia, to be kept at the new facility I bought at Double Bay. She is the perfect boat to explore the myriad islands of the beautiful Broughton Archipelago, summer home to the Northern Resident Orcas, and Humpback Whales that have returned in big numbers to the area.



October 2006 :  43’ Grainger Trimaran Purchased


On October 20, 2006, I purchased the 43’ Tony Grainger designed ocean racing trimaran, SPIRIT OF EMU, from Australian businessman Peter Claringbold in Seattle. With some upgrades and repairs, this boat would be ideally suited to continue my mission for the dolphins to break the solo sailing record to Japan.

After closing the sale, we sailed Spirit of Emu to her new home: Friday Harbor in the beautiful San Juan Islands of northern Washington, where a complete re-fit was begun with local resident David Howitt as project manager. David is a long-time whale activist, and sailed with me on Thursday’s Child’s Corky Freedom Banner tour of the Pacific Northwest in 2001.

As always, the re-build was more complicated and  took much longer than planned. But after a major re-fit and a new coat of yellow paint, on Sept 6, 2007, on a beautiful Indian summer day, the trimaran was re-launched and re-christened DOLPHIN SPIRIT.  We had time for only two test sails in light airs, before closing down for the winter.


Dolphin Spirit SpecsLength: 43’
Beam: 39’
Displacement: Designed 7,000 lbs, Weight 9,400 lbs fully loaded at survey
Mast: 61’ aluminum
Designer: Tony Grainger, Australia
Builder: Hart Marine, Melbourne, Australia, 1993
Construction: Airex foam/carbon, kevlar, composite. Demountable.


July 5, 2008 : Dolphin Spirit Arrives in San Francisco

On July 3, 2008, after a five and a half day trip down the coast from the San Juan Islands of Washington, Dolphin Spirit sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge.  All in all, Dolphin Spirit performed very well, but we did confirm our suspicion that the steering is hard and difficult - too hard for an auto-pilot to handle in heavy seas and running at higher speeds in following seas. Dolphin Spirit has a small rudder in each float which had been adequate for hand steering by full crew in prior years. We have decided to build and install a main-hull rudder for better control for single-handing. I contacted designer Tony Grainger, who agrees that is the way to go. So the count-down began to out-fit Dolphin Spirit for her mission for the dolphins to break the solo sailing record to Japan next spring.

2009: New Main-hull Rudder Installed

Haul-out was done at Napa Valley Marina, and a new main-hull rudder was installed and linked to two existing rudders in the floats. The result has been very good, with much improved steering and tracking in bay sailing. The real test will be in offshore sail trails with autopilot steering. A new carbon-fiber genoa, built by Pineapple Sails, replaced the very worn-out old genoa. It has proved a very strong, powerful, and excellent addition. A large, light-air screecher is under construction by Pineapple Sails. Also, a canvass dodger was installed, which provides much needed protection from the very wet conditions we get at higher speeds

2010: Preparations for another attempt on the Solo Sailing Record to Japan.

Outfitting Dolphin Spirit with back-up systems, and many test sails on the bay and offshore. The boat was also displayed at the Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Oakland, where the public could go aboard and learn about her mission to Japan to stop the dolphin slaughter.

April 2011: Solo Sail to Japan Cancelled.

Statement by Michael Reppy:

Due to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, I have cancelled my planned solo sail to Japan this year. Our Save Japan Dolphins project will continue, but the priority now is assisting recovery and rebuilding projects, and in closing down the Fukushima and other aging nuclear power plants in Japan. I have begun fund raising for these efforts and already donated over $1,300 on behalf of Dolphin Spirit Project to two great organizations in Japan. PEACE BOAT JAPAN has set up earthquake/tsunami relief teams headquartered in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi. GREEN ACTION JAPAN is a Kyoto-based NGO dedicated to educating the public on the perils of nuclear energy and shifting Japan’s energy program from nuclear to energy efficiency and renewables. For information on these groups, visit the PEACE BOAT JAPAN website and the GREEN ACTION JAPAN website. Save Japan Dolphins has also recommended other groups for donations.

2011-13: Shoulder Surgery

Years of sailing had worn out the rotator cuff of my right shoulder, so in October 2011, I had arthroscopic surgery to repair it, and was unable to sail during the long rehab process.  Later, I began taking groups out sailing on San Francisco Bay, testing the shoulder to assess when I would be ready for another solo transpacific sail. Eventually, as the left shoulder also was having rotator problems, I realized the demands of this sail were too much for my shoulders, and I put Dolphin Spirit up for sale.  

2015: Another Shoulder Surgery and Sale Of Dolphin Spirit

In November 2015, I had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder and the rehab was even longer and more difficult, so sailing would have to wait.  I put Dolphin Spirit in the yard and continued to lower the price looking for a buyer, and finally in October 2015, Dolphin Spirit was sold and moved to San Diego.



Thursday’s Child, Lindenburg Open 60



Record Setting History

After losing Nai'a, I purchased the famous old 60’ monohull racer Thursday’s Child to continue my quest for the Transpacific record. She was a big, strong, fast boat, though of old technology and no-longer competitive with the new Open 60s, but was definitely fast enough to get the record, and had the added benefit of her record setting history, which would be a great publicity vehicle for the whales and dolphins!

Thursday’s Child was designed for skipper Warren Luhrs by Paul Lindenburg as the first Open 60’ ultralight single-handed ocean racer. She was built by Bergstrom and Ridder in 1983. She was the most innovative and fastest ocean racer of her kind, built of fiberglass/carbon composites with water ballast and a canting rudder.


She set the following records


- 1984: Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) from Plymouth, England to Newport, Rhode Island. Warren Luhrs set new monohull record of 16 days 22 hours.

- 1989: First boat to break Flying Cloud’s clipper-ship record set in 1954 around Cape Horn from New York to San Francisco of 89 days (in 1854) in 80 days 18 hours.

- 1994-95: Thursday’s Child’s last race was the 1994-95 BOC Single-handed Around The World Race, sailed and completed by skipper Arnet Taylor. Thurday’s Child was in a yard in St. Augustine, Florida until March 1998, when I purchased her.  We sailed her back through the Panama Canal to San Diego, where we did a complete one year re-fit, which included: installed Yanmar engine, installed new mainsheet track, complete re-wiring and new electronics and autopilots installed, a new paint job done, with whale graphics by native British Columbian artist William Wasden. Later, a new rudder was built, a bowsprit added to carry a roller furling genneker, solar panels and wind generator were installed.  All new sails were purchased, ballast added to keel bulb, and additional water ballast tanks added.


Second Transpacific Record Attempt—Spring 2000

By the spring of 2000, Thursday’s Child was ready for my second record run to Japan. This attempt ended in Honolulu with a broken rudder, occurring on the first night out in a collision with whales along the California coast. I had the rudder repaired in Honolulu and returned to San Francisco to prepare for another go at the record.


Third Transpacific Record Attempt - Spring 2001

On April 29, 2001 I sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge with Thursday’s Child on my third attempt at the Trans-Pacific record. The first week was fast and we were ahead of record time, but a miscalculation by my weather routers put us in a wind hole in the Pacific High for 1 1/2 days. But we caught back up, weathered a gale, and still had a chance at the record until we got caught in light winds and adverse currents approaching Tokyo Bay. On day 36, having missed the record, I decided to retire from racing, and motored into Misaki.


Sale/Donation of Thursday’s Child

I readied Thursday’s Child for a fourth attempt at the record, but had surgery for torn knee cartilage, and postponed the sail. A recurrence of the cartilage tear and another surgery put off the sail another year. I continued to plan for the sail, but my father became seriously ill and died, so another year past. By now, I realized that Thursday’s Child was too demanding a boat for me to single-hand at a high level. I had turned 60 years old and still had knee and other joint pains—I needed a smaller, faster boat, easier to handle for the solo record run. I began searching for another racing trimaran for the job.

In December 2005, I made a sale/donation of Thursday’s Child to the Way to Happiness Foundation. Thursday’s Child would become a sail training boat for youngsters to learn sailing and life lessons at sea - a good use for the venerable old racer.

NAI’A, 36’ Shuttleworth Trimaran

In 1990, after the successes with Damiana, I had John Shuttleworth design Nai’a, (Dolphin in Hawaiian) -- an all-out 30’ carbon fiber racing trimaran, with a 50’ wing mast. I sailed Nai’a for the Save The Dolphins Project of Earth Island Institute, with their name on the mast, dolphin graphics on the spinnaker, and “Save The Dolphins” on the outriggers.



Nai’a—Capsize In First Race

Nai’a was very fast and easily overpowered, and on her first race in summer 1992, capsized running down the coast south of San Francisco, chasing Aotea, the 40’ trimaran and transpacific record-holder. I and the crew were rescued and the boat towed in. I had Nai’s rebuilt and lengthened to 36’ for more stability, but in the end, it still wasn’t enough!


Nai’a—Capsize In Transpacific Record Attempt

After completing the Single-handed Transpac to Hawaii on Nai’a in 1996, I was ready to go for Peter Hogg’s 34 day 6 hour solo record to Japan. The sail was a protest of the drive fishery dolphin slaughter in Japan, and the February 1997 capture of five orcas by Taiji fishermen (the “Taiji Five”). I set sail on Nai’a from San Francisco on April 23, 1997.

On day 30, we were well ahead of record time, with under 300 miles to go to the finish at Misake, near Tokyo Bay. We had sailed through several low pressure systems, and had one more to go with winds due to pick up, but were running comfortably under full main and spinnaker in about 15-18 knots of wind. I felt confident, had my smaller sails laid out to change down to, and went below to rest.

But I fell asleep for about an hour, and woke up feeling Nai’a had picked up speed in the freshening breeze. Just as I was coming up to get the spinnaker down, Nai’a surfed down a wave and stuffed her bow, pitch-poled and capsized. I dove back inside the cabin, and was soon standing on the cabin roof in water to my crotch. I got my emotions under control and went into survival mode. I opened the escape hatch and got out with my emergency bags, cut loose the life raft, inflated it and got in. I activated the EPIRB (emergency radio beacon), and within two hours a Japanese search and rescue plane was over-head.

With a hand-held radio I made contact with the plane, and was told we were too far out for a helicopter rescue, that a ship was being diverted to pick me up. Japanese search and rescue did a very professional job—contacted my coordinator and parents in California and circled over-head until the Century Highway No2, a car carrying Japanese ship arrived during the night to pick me up.

I spoke to the captain of the ship on my radio and was told he saw my lighted raft and they would put a life boat over to come pick me up. I was relieved that the huge ship would not have to come close for the pick-up. But to my horror, by mistake, the ship drifted down on me and I was pinned against the side of the ship in the raft. I panicked and didn’t know what to do but scream in the radio to back away. I heard the captain say he couldn’t hear me, that my batteries must be dead. Eventually, the ship pulled away, and after about an hour of dealing with engine trouble on the lifeboat, I was picked up and taken aboard the ship. I arrived two days later in Yokohama on board the Century Highway No2, grateful to be alive, but with nothing but my sailing gear. By then Nai’a had drifted away, making it too difficult to organize a salvage effort, so I let that go.


Nai’a—Found On Midway Atoll


One and a half years later, I got a call from the US Coast Guard saying Nai’a had been found washed up on Midway Atoll, which some years before had been transferred from the military to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife refuge, with a pod of spinner dolphins living in the lagoon.

I flew out to see Nai’a, and was granted an hour to see her and pay my respects. She was on the beach still upside-down, but with her outriggers broken off, laying next to a highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal. I crawled inside her and took some pictures, and left her there to be eventually chain sawed up and cleared off the beach by the wildlife service. The irony of Nai’a sailing to save the dolphins, and finding her final resting place in a wildlife refuge for dolphins and seals is very touching.


DAMIANA, 42’ Shuttleworth Trimaran



Europe was the forefront of multihull technology, so in 1984, I hired noted designer John Shuttleworth to design Damiana, a 42’ cruiser/racer version of his record setting 60’ singled-handed transatlantic racing trimaran. The boat was built in England, and there began my new life in the fast lane of sailing! She was built of airex foam/carbon/Kevlar composite—very strong, and with a beautiful wood veneer interior finish. I enjoyed a great year of cruising her back home to California.



Now, with a fast boat and some experience, it was time to go racing, which I’ve been doing ever since! After a fast nine and a half day third place finish with Damiana in the crewed 1987 Multihull Open Transpac to Honolulu, we sailed Damiana all the way back to England for the start of the Carlsberg Single-handed Transatlantic Race in June 1988.

I finished first in class 3 in 19 and a half days to Newport, Rhode Island., which fueled my fire for more ocean racing in a high speed racing machine.