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. Here is the conclussion to his story from yesterday.
On an aside, "Warrior’s Wish", our Juston designed Mount Gay 30, sure does get a lot of attention in the non-sailing states of the Midwest. Every time we stopped, we got questions, confused looks, thumbs ups, and several inquiries about "Hope for the Warriors", the wounded veteran non-profit that I’m proud to represent in the SHTP. At every stop, people would say, "So what are you going to do with the boat?", or "That’s a funny looking bass boat." When I explained that I was going to be competing in a solo race from California to Hawaii, the first question everyone asked was, "So what’s the prize?". At first, I tried to explain that it was more about a love for sailing and racing to Hawaii, but no one really understood that, so I eventually started telling people that the prize for winning was ten million dollars in cash. So, suffice it to say, there are now some people in Texas and Arizona that are planning future race efforts, and there will probably
be an increased interest in this incredibly lucrative sport of offshore sailing…
The trip wouldn’t have been any fun without some serious drama, and that’s exactly what we got once we reached New Mexico. Going up a steep mountain, the truck began to overheat and smoke began billowing out of the tailpipe. So we pulled over and tried to assess what was wrong. At a loss, we waited for the truck to cool down and them limped it into the next small town, where we got a cheap motel room and began doing some online research. With the powers of Google, we were able to do a rough diagnosis. Ford’s 6-liter diesel has a problematic oil cooler that conveniently goes bad at about 100,000 miles (when the warranty expires), and with it takes out the Exhaust Gas Recirculation cooler. 5,000 miles out of warranty, we had figured out our problem.
So we ordered the parts off of Ebay and had a local shop do the repairs. 3 days and $1,500 later, we were back on the road and the truck was running perfectly … for about 3 hours. In the middle of nowhere,
Arizona, the truck just died in front of a gas station. After about 3 hours of unsuccessful diagnosis/repair attempts, we ended up having to catch a tow into the next town. A high-pressure oil valve (RIGHT next to where the mechanic had been working the day before) had gone bad and wouldn’t allow the truck to start as a result. A Ford dealer fixed the problem in a couple of hours, at a cost of $500+, plus the hefty tow bill. The road trip from hell was in full swing, with our Ford diesel demonstrating a healthy ability to turn cold hard cash into forward motion.
With the truck again running as it should, surely something else had to break. About 100 miles before reaching the Bay, the front left wheel on our trailer decided to divorce the rest of the trailer and find a new home on the side of I-5. Neither of us saw that one coming, as we had been checking lug nuts, hub/ bearing temperature, and tire inflation at every gas stop. Again in limp mode, we fought off Bay Area rush hour traffic to arrive at Bay Marine Boatworks in Point Richmond, more or less still in one piece. The guys at Bay Marine were incredible. Expecting our arrival, they wasted no time in lifting the boat off of the trailer and onto jackstands. Within a couple of hours, we had stepped the mast and had the boat mostly rigged. By that evening, "Warrior’s Wish" was almost looking like a real boat again.
The next day, a gallon of Interlux Baltoplate racing bottom paint was dropped off, courtesy of International Paint. Wetsanding the bottom and rolling on the racing bottom paint gave our bottom a sexy, race-ready look. Huge thanks to Chris from International Paint for all of his help in getting us hooked up with some paint. Letting the paint dry overnight, we were ready to splash by Saturday morning. The guys at Bay Marine had a commercial boat coming in on Saturday morning anyways, so they splashed us at 6:30 am. Again, the guys at Bay Marine Boatworks in Point Richmond, CA were an absolutely huge help in making this project become a reality. Kim and his entire staff were incredibly helpful, professional, and easy to work with. I’ll be back to that yard for sure.
With the boat in the water in Richmond, Don and I began working on the final details so that we could sail it to our slip in Alameda. We couldn’t get our NKE masthead instruments to register, so we began trying to track down the source of the problem. Unsuccessful, we decided to leave that for the next day and start putting on the main. Again, problems cropped up, this time finding that one of our batten cars had been blown to pieces. We hadn’t had the main out of the bag since Don sailed back form Bermuda in last year’s Bermuda 1-2. 35 knots on the nose for 3 days had taken its toll! With Don not wanting to hoist the main and our mutual frustration beginning to build, we fired up the diesel and planned to motor to Alameda, putting all of our tools and gear away while en route. Don handed me the helm and said, "It’s your boat, drive us to Alameda." Okay, no problem.
So, I backed off the dock, shifted into forward and started making my way out of the channel in Richmond. Not 3 minutes later, the motor slowly ground to a halt. Shit. Don quickly grabbed a jib while I made use of what little steerage and momentum we had. Up with the jib and on with the sheets, and we were sailing. Unexpectedly, and quite slow under jib alone, but still sailing nonetheless. Don headed down below to diagnose the motor, while I tacked back and forth, slowly making my way out of the channel. After a few moments, he discovered a tiny air lock and began re-purging the system. I guess we hadn’t purged the system properly in North Carolina after installing the new fuel filter. He got the motor running, and then shut it back off. By the time that we reached the Bay, we sewed a luff slide on, temporarily, in place of the busted-to-pieces batten car. Up with the main, and for the first time, I got to experience actually sailing "Warrior’s
Wish". The boat moves well – I love it! With 360+ boats on the water from the day’s 3 Bridge Fiasco, there were boats all over the place, too. Late in the day, and into a setting sun, most were returning to their respective marinas, so there was no shortage of boats to play with. Approaching the Bay Bridge with about 8-10 knots on a close reach, "The Wish" slipped through the water at 7 knots, leaving Olsons and J-Boats in its wake. It was a light day, but it was absolutely amazing to finally sail this thing after working so hard for nearly 3 months.
With the sails down, we motored around in the dark for over an hour trying to find the Alameda marina that would be the boat’s home for the next four months. Finally convinced that we were at the right one, we pulled up to the guest dock and tied up. And so ended my first sail on "Warrior’s Wish". Our ill-prepared motor delivery to Alameda ended up being a very nice sail, and the day’s events served the important purpose of getting my head in the game. Don and I both exercised poor seamanship in leaving the dock in Richmond so under-prepared, but after our road trip from hell, we were both prety antsy. Had there been more wind or adverse current when the motor died, we easily could have ended up on the rocks in the channel. Whether just going out for a daysail, or hitting the starting line of a solo ocean race, preparation is key, and I know that I can’t leave anything to chance this time. That kind of stuff has already bit me in the ass before…
I am now at the dock in Alameda, installing a new Icom M-802 SSB, Auto Tuner and Pactor Radio Modem, while working to get the boat more organized and ready to be sailed aggressively. On Sunday, Don’s last day before heading back East, he hauled me up the rig two more times, and we diagnosed the problems with the masthead instruments; one bad connection. Removing the instruments and wiring, we fixed the problem, and then I went back up the rig and re-installed everything, while Don pulled the wiring down with our chaser line. Problem solved, and our NKE instruments and autopilot are functional. That’s a big relief for both of us.
Hopefully by the end of the week, I will have all of the new comm epuipment installed and functional. By next weekend, I hope to go out and double-hand around the Farallones with Ed McCoy from Anarchy, for my first real shakedown sail of the boat. And a huge thanks has to go out to Icom for helping us out with our new M-802 and
AT-140 Auto Tuner. The stuff is cutting-edge and brilliantly engineered. I can’t wait to use it for checking in with the race committee, downloading grib files, sending e-mails from sea, etc. Thanks ICOM!
And that’s where I’m at now. I’m in Alameda with the boat. The boss has left and I am all alone to prepare for my first solo ocean race. I’m done messing about and my head is in the game. My work is cut out for me and I have a huge opportunity in front of me to either squander or make the most of. The next few months should be one hell of an adventure….
I very much want to thank my title sponsor, "Hope for the Warriors", and the boat’s owner, Don Gray, for affording me this incredible opportunity. I am currently working with a bunch of incredible sponsors, but we still need some more help, namely with some new halyards, a diesel mechanic, and sail support, to name just a few things. There is a PayPal link on my website and regularly updated blog, www.OpenBlueHorizon.com. If anyone wishes to contribute to this project, they can do so on the site. All sponsor inquiries can be forwarded to me through the site, and we are always looking for more support!
Also, if you are interested in learning more about the great non-profit organization that I am working with and how you can help make a difference in the lives of other wounded Veterans, please visit www.HopefortheWarriors.org. More than 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly towards helping combat-wounded Veterans and their families.
The world-famous Katie Burns, of Audi Medcup TP52 fame helped me edit this piece. Props.