Anarchist Ronnie Simpson is getting ready for an epic voyage – singlehanded to Hawaii. he is part of a great organization and we are both following and supporting him along his journey, and hope that you do too…

Last time I wrote for SA’s front page (you mean there’s a front page?!?!), I wrote from a comfy bed in a comfy house in North Carolina, where I was prepping the boat for the move to California. As I write this most recent installment, I’m laying on a pipe berth in my new fiberglass condo on the water, deplete of any creature comforts such as running water, a toilet, personal space, and television. (But I do have wi-fi!) Some people, namely my ex-girlfriend, think it’s stupid to live on a race boat in the Bay. I call it progress. The 2010 Singlehanded Transpac is just four and a half months away, and I’m already on my boat, just a handful of miles from the starting line …

Finishing up the boat work in North Carolina went about as well as could be expected. Everything got done, miraculously, but not without the usual amount of swearing, frustration, and bloody knuckles. If you recall, we were building a custom fiberglass dodger to add an extra layer of protection to the companionway. Finishing the job took more man-hours than I expected (do I sound like a broken record yet?), but Don and I are pleased with the results. Mounting the dodger took a bit of modification and creative engineering, but it now appears to be extremely sturdy and strong. A snazzy Lexan sliding hatch even makes it look halfway cool. Next on our list was finishing up the deck. Re-bedding the lifelines and deck fittings was pretty straightforward, and painting the deck with non-skid went well, whenever we had cooperation from the weather, which was rare in an uncharacteristically cold and wet North Carolina winter.

We also spent a lot of time working on the inside of the boat; reinforcing stringers around the keel with carbon fiber, re-painting the bilge, and the obligatory deep-cleaning after grinding, glass work, carbon work and painting. We planned to install a new SSB radio once in California, so we un-installed the old SSB and auto-tuner. A new alternator belt and fuel filter went on without difficulty, save spraying diesel fuel all over myself and the boat while purging the system after putting the new filter on. At least I know there’s fuel pressure! The final step in prepping the inside of the boat was to re-stow all of the gear and sails. It’s amazing how much room you *think* you’re going to have until you put all of the gear and sails on board! The Singlehanded Transpac requires an incredible amount of gear to be carried aboard; an emergency rudder and tiller, life raft, 6 jibs, 4 kites, storm sails, a spare  auto-pilot, anchors, rode, foul weather gear, safety gear, flares, tools, spare lines, comm equipment, food, paper charts, genset, first-aid equipment, ditch bag, and 5 gallon jugs of water and fuel.

While re-packing the boat, I packed away my brand new Latitude 61 bibs and jacket, and Pro Sail 33 automatic inflation PFD, courtesy of Bluestorm foul weather gear and their distributor, Marine Tech International. This stuff is super nice! I can’t wait for some snotty weather to test it out in. I also re-stowed our life raft, which has just been re-certified and serviced, courtesy of Wolverine Inflatables our of Michigan. A million thanks to these great companies for stepping up big time and helping out my SHTP effort. Thanks guys!

One of the last things we put back on the boat was the rudder. The original Harken rudder bearing had become worn and sloppy; we originally planned to go the custom route, ordering the materials and having a shop machine the bearing to our specs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even source the aluminum needed as the vendor failed to send us the materials. Instead, we decided to order a replacement. PYI Inc, the exclusive US distributor of Jefa rudder bearings, had contacted us with an offer of support, so we took them up on their generous offer and bought a bearing from them at a healthy discount. 3 days after ordering, I had a trick, black anodized aluminum bearing in the mail. With Delrin roller bearings and a self-aligning body, the bearing went in easily and it feels oh-so-smooth. Ian at PYI was a pleasure to work with and we are really happy with the results. Thanks Ian and PYI!

With everything completed and the boat ready to go, Don and I hooked up the Ford and rolled out towards California. Things were going well … until about 60 miles down the road when the truck started overheating and losing coolant in the mountains of Virginia. Stopping every hundred miles to add coolant got annoying with a quickness, but we couldn’t figure out what the problem was so we cautiously continued. The water pump wasn’t leaking, the coolant wasn’t boiling over, and there were no signs of coolant in the oil. Where the hell was all the fluid going? Find out the rest of the story tomorrow..