Any time someone accuses SA of not being balanced, I like to point to the really cool stories that balance out the ones that seem to send a lot of fecal matter flying through the air. A case in point is the story that ran a few months ago about Ronnie Simpson, left.. Initially, Ronnie’s story caught my eye because, as someone who sails every year in the Leukemia Cup Regatta (shameless plug), I’m a sucker for sailing adventures with a cause. Ronnie’s sailing for Hope for the Warriors, a group that supports US veterans. I got sucked in further when I read that he himself is a veteran of the Iraq war and the fact that he’s sailing a single handed transpac was the icing on the cake because a long single handed passage is something high on my list of things to do before I croak.
This piqued my interest enough for me to go read a little more about him on his web site and if you haven’t read the whole story, You should go there now. I really wanted to do something to help him out but times are really tight and spare cash is an infrequent visitor to my household these days.
I did have an ace in the hole in that I am a photographer and I knew that some good photos would make it a little easier to reach his goal. So I sent him a totally random, out of the blue email and offered my services. At the time, he was still in North Carolina getting the boat sorted but we agreed that when he made it back to the west coast we would work something out. Thus, I found myself driving north on I-5 to San Francisco last weekend, racing the tsunami up the coast (the tsunami won).
On Sunday we set out into San Francisco Bay at the peak of high tide on a full moon. I was on a 1980’s vintage 30 foot cruiser with Tony and Phil while Ronnie was sailing in his Mount Gay 30, Warrior’s Wish, with his buddy Mark who was there to help since the battery on their boat was not holding a charge (BIG HINT) which meant the auto-pilot was not happy. We got out into the bay well ahead of them and were baffled when we couldn’t see them behind us when we passed under the bay bridge. This was primarily a function of the fact that they were already over in the lee of Alcatraz waiting for us to plod over to them (Tony, Phil, reminder – clean bottom of boat ASAP).
We finally made it over to them and they made several passes while I as much as I could. When they were heading away from us, Tony and Phil (partners in the boat I was on) would continue the ongoing conversation (I think it had been going on since they bought the boat a year ago) trying to determine if they should buy a new boat or upgrade this one. We headed back to the other side of the Bay Bridge which really means that Warrior’s Wish went back to the other side of the Bay Bridge, then sailed back to Alcatraz looking for us, then sailed back to the other side of the Bay Bridge and then came north and found us motoring along having missed the worst of the outgoing tide (5.2 knots current!). At this point I got my stuff and hopped on to Ronnie’s boat to shoot some portraits and then we were back at the dock and talking about getting some food.
A local Vietnamese joint served up some excellent pho, spring rolls, shrimp, etc. and the lot of us sat around and shot the breeze. Everything I read about him on the web had given me the broad outlines of who Ronnie is, but nothing gives me a better sense of who a person really is than sitting around a table with some hot food and cold beer. We talked about family, sailing, the recent America’s Cup, San Diego, and a whole slew of other topics and by the end of the evening I was even happier that I had been able to contribute, in how ever small a way, to this kid (sorry Ronnie, but I’m almost old enough to be your father) being able to follow his dream. If you haven’t been following Ronnie’s story here, I’d suggest going back and checking out his blog and the stories on SA. I can guarantee you that you’ll want to help him out and I can tell you for sure that if you met him in person, you’d want to help even more. Did I mention that he needs a new battery? Just checking.
Also, if you are interested in learning more about the
great non-profit organization that Ronnie is 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. – Ed.