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In June 2014, I will be taking part in a solo, non-stop, unassisted race to Hawaii aboard my sailing vessel 'General Trees'. The Singlehanded Transpac has been described by some as a "A bug light for weirdos". Follow me and my fellow “bug light weirdos” as we prepare our boats and ourselves for the downwind run to Hawaii.





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Rob Macfarlane

First off…Who are you? Where are you from? What would you consider your Home Port and sailing locale?

My name is Rob Macfarlane. I grew up around boats (my parents did boats, their parents did boats), have been sailing since age 6, and boating since age 6 weeks. I consider myself a southern california kid, currently residing in san francisco bay area.

Rob, grew up around boats (my parents did boats, their parents did boats), have been sailing since
age 6, and boating since age 6 weeks. I consider myself a southern california kid, currently residing in
san francisco bay

Please describe your sailboat. What type of boat is it? Year? Make? Model? How long have you had it? Any major modifications made to your boat for solo sailing or offshore sailing?

Tiger Beetle is a Morgan-built Bruce Nelson-designed IOR two tonner launched in 1983. The previous boat was a Newport 33 from Capital Yachts from a Gary Mull design. Both boats were re-built to do the SSS TransPac race.

I had Tiger Beetle (Newport 33) for 8 years, and have had Tiger Beetle (the Bigger) for 15 years. There were a great many changes to both boats, probably too numerous to list. Principal areas of changes are typical for singlehanding: self steering, electrical system & battery management, sail selection & control, deck layout. For offshore racing additional areas are of work included: communications equipment, navigation equipment.

How long have you been sailing? When did you decide that the solo experience was for you?

I’ve always liked activities that I can do by myself (English darts, shooting pool, etc.), sailing is a lot of fun and can do by one’s self.

A piece or pieces of gear you would not do without? Self-Tailing winches? AIS? Egg Timer? Gimbaled cup holder? What do you value and consider vital for safe, comfortable Singlehanded Sailing?

Most important gear: self-steering. Vital piece of gear: backup self-steering.

Most memorable trip/passage/ adventure you have had so far sailing solo?

No single trip leaps out as extraordinary – the various trips all have their hi-points and low points.

Worries and or concerns when you are out solo? Pirates? Tankers? Whales? Flying fish? What is on your mind?

I probably worry most about the mast coming down – that would truly be no fun.

What is your favorite thing or things about being out in the middle of the ocean by yourself?

No single favorite thing; it is rather special when the wind dies off and the ocean goes calm.

Solo sailors who have inspired you to do what you do?

My dad, Jerry Huffman, among others.

Future sailing plans or aspirations?

To do more cruising.

Why do you think people are drawn to solo sailing?

No idea.

And now for the rapid fire, stream of consciousness, quick response section of the questionnaire…

Hank on or Roller Furling? Depends
Wheel or Tiller? Doesn’t matter
Fin or Full keel? Either, or… depends on what the boat has.

Dacron or Kevlar? Neither
LED Tricolor or Deck mounted Kerosene Running Lights? Neither
Mast Steps or Ratlines? Neither
Depth sounder or lead line? Either works
Bucket or a well plumbed head? Either
Water or Whiskey? Don’t like Whiskey
Whiskey or Rum? Rum is OK
Rum or Kool Aid? Neither
SSB or Sat Phone? Both or Neither
Large meals or Steady Snacking? Ick
Coffee or Tea? Both
Dodger or No Dodger? Small Dodger
Autopilot or Windvane? Both
Traditional Boom Vang or Rigid BoomVang? either, rigid vang means you can get rid of the boom topping lift, which removes a source of chafe on the mainsail. rigid vang is more expense than block and tackle, and difficult-to-impossible to repair one it breaks. you choose… given the trade-offs.

Fresh water or saltwater showers? No opinion
Solar Panels or Wind generators? Both
Three Strand or Spectra? For what purpose?

For more info on the adventures of Tiger Beetle check out: Tiger Beetle Sailing

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