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  • 10/24/12--12:16: October 24- Newport, Oregon
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    Sorry for not updating the blog. I’m bad about that sometimes!! This blog is kind of long....

     

    After returning from Newport, RI at the end of September, we shoved off from Neah Bay, WA and rounded Cape Flattery, headed south. Throwing up my new to me spinnaker, we kite-reached south until the breeze began dying again. The spinnaker was sort of collapsing and re-filling for a couple of hours and then bang it went! The halyard chafed through and failed, bringing the sail down on deck. 


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  • 10/24/12--12:24: Wounded Veteran Clinic recap
  • Here's an article that I wroote for Sailing Anarchy (www.SailingAnarchy.com) about our recent wounded veteran's clinic in San Francisco, October 3-6. 

     

    I remember the first time that I went sailing. It was on an overcast grey day in San Diego Bay in early 2008. Giddy with excitement upon arriving at the marina and boarding the boat, I quickly stowed my gear and took my place as crew in helping us disembark from the dock. As we left the protection of the harbor, we hoisted the sails and shut off the engine. A cool fresh breeze filled the sails, heeling the boat and silently pushing us toward open water. As I felt the boat power up for the first time, I was captivated by the serenity and raw power of a boat, under sail, purposefully accelerating to hull speed.


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    Video I took from the team RIB of "Acciona", as we escorted Spanish skipper Javier "Bubi" Sanso to the Vendee Gloibe start. More than 300,000 passionate sailing fans braved the weather to cheer on all 20 skippers in the race. Truly the greatest spectacle in all of sport.

    After 13 days in France covering the Vendee Globe race as a journalist for the website Sailing Anarchy, I am headed home to California and then on to "Sirena Gorda" in Oregon. Wow, what can I say... the last two weeks have been incredible! If you know me, then you know that competing in this epic race is my life goal, so to get an in-depth look at the scene, the boats, the skipers was just incredible. By being a journalist with SA, I literally got to crawl around about half ot he boats with a GoPro and take video, ask questionsa and then write articles about the boats. And working with Alan Block (aka Mr Clean), we interviewed literally every single skipper in the race, so that was amazing as well, getting to meet all of the different characters who make this race so special; the heroes that we read about ascending masts at sea, setting jury-rigs in the lee of islands and sailing into storms to rescue their stricken competitors. After coming home from France, I'm more inspired than ever to work on putting together a campaign for the Vendee Globe and that's what I am making my next goal/ project. 


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  • 11/27/12--13:02: November 25- Brookings, OR
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    Sirena Gorda safely in port in Brookings, OR. Just 2 days before a massive storm rolls in....

     

    It’s been a while since i’ve really written about cruising Sirena Gorda, so here goes! ....So my nearly two weeks in Oregon resulted in just 160 miles of progress, but at this point, i’m happy about that. Singlehanding a (mostly) engineless 27-foot boat down the Oregon coast in the winter time is not for the faint of heart... After getting back to my boat from France, I found myself with a pefect 2-day weather window to head south. Getting sorted and provisioned the first day and leaving that afternoon, I was in Newport for just 18 hours before leaving the dock and sailing down the coast to Coos Bay. Leaving on a big ebb tide, “Sirena Gorda” romped along at 8+ knots over ground when exiting the Yaquina River Bar. Turning south in about 18 knots of breeze, I was running almost dead downwind. Dropped the jib and went main only and it was amazingly comfortable, not all that slow and very easy on the autopilot. Perfect. I slept pretty much the whole evening and night in 20-minute cat naps and actually slowed the boat down at times so that I reached Coos Bay on the morning flood tide, just as the sun was coming up. 


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  • 12/11/12--11:29: Dec 11- First Vendee promo
  • This is something i've been planning for 3 years and working on for 3 months, but i'm only now beginning to really go public with. I am going to try to put together a campaign and sail in the 2016 Vendee Globe. Competing in that race is absolutely my dream and after a rewarding and encouraging year of racing "US 101" and an inspirational trip to France to check out the Vendee scene, I have decided to fully commit to giving it a shot. In the past few weeks, i've purchased the rights to RonnieSimpsonRacing.com and a website is under construction. I have created a proposal and other marketing information and I am actively beginning to hit up large corporations. I'm also in the early stages of organizing a "grassroots" fundraising campaign similar to what Bruce Schwab successfully did with "Ocean Planet", and in fact, Bruce has come on board as a big help to me in putting together a campaign. Professional film editor Pierson Jacquelin has come on board to help me make some promotional video material and I will also try to sell the campaign as a documentary and/ or reality tv show. Basically, i'm going to try to open up 5 different potential avenues to find funding for a campaign. It will be a great adventure if it goes down, so fingers crossed that in four years time I can compete in this great race! Here's Pierson's trailer:

    First cut of my 2016 Vendee Globe promo trailer. Produced and edited by Pierson Jacquelin.

     

    I have a campaign sponsorship proposal available in PDF format. If you are interestd in potentially sponsoring the campaign, donating privately or perhaps work for a company that may be a good fit to sponsor an endavor like this, please contact me. Once the new site is done, there will be full proposals, budget information, team information and ways to donate, all posted on online.

    Thanks!

     


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    In Kauai to sell 101 :(

    Back in Kauai for the first time in 4 months.... A bit bittersweet, but my situation has changed and unfortunately my beloved Moore 24 "US 101" must go. Mooring and insuring it in hte islands has been an unnecessary financial burden and with me now planning to move to France in the spring, I can't winter on it like I had originally planned, so.... 101 is for sale. Just flew into Kauai (for $196 direct from Oakland! Check out Alaska Airlines' specials!!) this morning and am planning to sail dead upwind in 20-30 knot reinforced tradewinds to get her to Oahu. Great... Bashing my brains out in a 24 foot engineless boat to weather in big breeze and seas. Oh well, it's supposed to blow for at least 8 more days and I don't want to sit around here just waiting for lighter breeze, so I plan to head out tomorrow or Saturday. The plan is to strip off the offshore gear and ship home to be sold, while I plan to leave the boat with a broker in Honolulu. $9999 if you're interested, stripped down to stock Moore 24 buoy set-up and with my old used practice sails. That price still includes the brand new rudder, boom, standing rigging, deck hardware and running rigging (all new in 2012), but does not include the new Quantum sails, offshore gear, safety gear or electronics. Drop me a line if you're interested and i'll send you more info!

    I have no idea why this photo is sideways and I can't fix it. :(


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    US 101 FOR SALE, lying Honolulu

    101 rocked up into paradise again at Hawaii Yacht Club. Now to strip her and sell her. Good-bye old friend.

    Well, I didn't really have a weather window to cross the channel and the reinforced Easterly tradewinds weren't scheduled to let up for another week, so.... I went ahead and crossed the channel to Oahu. And it was every bit as miserable as I had feared. Ugh. First time in more than 2 years and 5 ocean crossings that I couldn't hold down food. And here's a little statistic that might tell you how hard the sailing was: It took me 8 hours to sail the last 21 miles. "US 101" did great as she always has, but sailing dead upwind in 25-30 knots with 12 foot breaking seas is never fun in a 2,000 lb 24-foot boat. 


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  • 01/28/13--22:54: January 28- Alameda, CA
  • Well, after a 10-day delivery turned into a few months of cruising the Washington, Oregon and California coasts, my Cal 2-27 "Sirena Gorda" has finally made it home to San Francisco Bay. The last two legs, from Brookings, OR to Bodega Bay, CA and then from Bodega Bay to San Fran were both memorable and fun. In Brookings, I mounted an 80-watt solar panel and a Navik self-steering windvane. "Sirena Gorda" started out as a typical daysailer and weekend pleasure craft and has been transformed into a formidable pocket cruiser in the past couple of months. I dig it. Definitely good to be back in the Bay and i'm immensely happy to finally have my "home" be at "home", instead of obscure coastal towns in Oregon... Slight change of plans and i'm shipping the Moore 24 home to sell her. A full season of offshore racing is coming up on the Reichel-Pugh 45 "Criminal Mischief" and i'm working hard on finding a sponsor to help me achieve my dream of racing in the Vendée Globe. My new website is up, www.ronniesimpsonracing.com. You can check out my sales pitch and sponsorship proposals for the Vendée. Speaking of which, MASSIVE CONGRATULATIONS to Francois Gabart for winning this Vendée Globe. A bit bummed I wasn't at the finish after being at the start, but c'est la vie.

    Sirena Gorda now sporting a Navik wind vane and 80-watt solar panel

    After flying back to the mainland from Hawaii on New Year's Day, I made my way back to Brookings, OR just a day or two later. No surprise, it was raining again in Oregon.... 


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    I’ve been in Australia for close to two weeks now, and what can I say... I love the place! I’ve been intrigued by Australia (and New Zealand) for years and have often thought that I would like to live here, despite never having visited. Now that I have visited, well, I still think i’d like to live here... at least for a while. The parts of Australia that i’ve seen, people i’ve met and ways i’ve consumed my time are very very similar to the life that I live in California, although profoundly different in a uniquely Australian way. As an avid traveler and adventurer, I love being in foreign countries and the lifestyle and people here suit me to a T. A nation with a deep respect for sailing and surfing, stunningly beautiful scenery (both geographical and female in nature) and a healthy, happy group of populous that are generally stoked on life, being outdoors and constantly doing cool stuff... Need I say more?

     

     

    The mighty Archambault 40 "One for the Road" in full-on prep mode in Sydney.

     

    Personal reflections and initial impressions aside, I traveled to Australia for a reason; to sail in my first Sydney- Hobart yacht race. If you don’t know about the Sydney- Hobart, well, let me try to summarize it. Beginning in Sydney, which lies on the eastern coast of Australia, the race travels 628 nm down to Hobart, Tasmania (the large island south of the southeast corner of the Australian continent. Tasmania is one of the 10 states that comprise Australia.) Despite being less than a third the length of a Transpac race, the S2H is quite notorious and well-known for being one of the most grueling (and dangerous) races in all of sailing. Not quite a long-distance ocean crossing, but definitely not a mere overnighter, the Sydney- Hobart is a full-on, brutal sprint of a race that will probably last for about 4 days for myself and the crew i’m sailing with. Now less than 3 days from the start, the weather scenario is beginning to look a bit more defined and it shows that the conditions will be typical for the race... Beginning with a downwind start, we should see everything from light, fluky breeze to moderate downwind to 35-45 knots upwind (!!!) during the second half of the race. No sense in writing out the whole forecast, the weather will do what the weather will do. Needless to say, i’m quite interested to know what words i’ll be writing in these pages once all is said and done...

     

    As for the boat that i’m sailing on, I am immensely proud to be sailing on Kym Butler’s Newcastle-based Archambault 40 One for the Road


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    A beautiful final sunrise in a Sydney- Hobart that very much lived up to all the hype. 

     

    Back in San Diego after an incredible five weeks in Australia. Sydney- Hobart was a great experience, I traveled a beautiful country, spent a lot of time surfing and met some really great people... can’t really say anything better about Australia. The place was amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I am now planning to sail my boat/ house MONGO, (previously Sirena Gorda) from California to Australia! I want to travel Australia and the South Pacific by sail, pursue more offshore racing opportunities in Australia and sail in another Sydney- Hobart! 

     

    I wrote a really long, detailed account of the Sydney- Hobart and it has been published on Sailing Anarchy. 

     

    Part 1

     

    Part 2

     

    The week leading up to the race was fun; working on the boat, pre-race festivities, partying with friends and other crews, and all of the general buzz around the CYCA. But the really cool part was the start! The Boxing Day start is pretty hyped up and it lived up to the expectations. 100’ Maxi’s sailing around, helicopters buzzing, a few thousand spectator boats, 100 racing yachts and an estimated 300,000 live spectators either on boats or on shore... I sailed on the Newcastle-based Archambault 40 One for the Road


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  • 02/13/14--20:10: February- MONGO re-fit
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    In between, and also to facilitate, boat work MONGO has been charging all over San Diego. Little boat is ready to rock. 'Straiya here we come.

     

    When Sirena Gorda arrived in San Diego in October, she was headed to Mexico with nothing more than coastal ambitions in the immediate future. But as MONGO departs San Diego, she will be pointed directly for blue water... and a lot of it as I plan to sail the boat to Australia this year, beginning in a few weeks. Fortunately, her re-fit and level of preparation reflects the little boat’s big ambitions. I hauled MONGO out in Mission Bay a couple of weeks ago and put her back in the water last week. Between the time on the hard and lots of new boat bits, rigging, a new rudder on the way, communications gear and a number of odds and ends later, this exercise in serious blue-water cruising on a serious budget is beginning to look pretty feasible.

     

     

    MONGO: the simple man's yacht. All up, as she leaves San Diego, MONGO will represent about a $10,000 investment. This includes purchase price of boat, haul-out, re-fit, safety gear, new rudder, wind vane, boat supplies, etc. From humble beginnings in Seattle in the fall of 2012, she has become a dialed pocket cruiser on a serious budget. I have a lot of confidence in the boat and our level of prep, and am looking forward to a great adventure!

     

    The Haul- Out 

     

    I hauled MONGO at Driscoll’s Mission Bay, as none of the boat yards on Shelter Island allow do-it-yourself work. Before the haul-out, I bought pretty much everything that I thought I would need, as there’s practically nothing around the boat yard in MIssion Bay. Heading up there, I had a short but fairly significant to-do list:

     

    1. Drop / inspect / repair rudder.
    2. Prep bottom for paint
    3. Paint bottom
    4. Remove thru-hull fittings and replace for install of head
    5. Remove prop/ prop shaft/ prop strut and fiberglass over

     

    Judging by the reaction of the boat yard crew, not a lot of people actually sail their boat into the slings of the Travel Lift...

     

    After a great sail up to Mission Bay with two friends of mine and a quiet night on the hook, I sailed MONGO right into the slings of the Travel Lift 


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    MONGO tracker going live March 6. Click here for link.

    (This is the only way that I can update while at sea.)

    Adding the final touches to MONGO before her first blue-water voyage.

    MONGO's almost ready, i'm almost ready, a weather window is opening up and my bank account is wrecked after this re-fit: It is time to leave. I am planning on setting sail from San Diego on or about Wednesday March 5, bound for Hilo, Hawai'i. The vibe is decidedly different this time around than before, now my sixth time departing for Hawaii... The first time ('08), was a shit show that ended poorly and the other four (2010, '11, '12, '13) were all races where I was under pressure with deadlines and competitive aspirations. This time is very relaxed and completely on my terms. I feel prepared, i'm not stressed, i'm completely doing my own thing both schedule-wise and sailing-wise. I'm going where I want when I want and how I want. I'm very stoked on that. When I first began sailing, a sailboat represented freedom to me - a beautiful and profound way to travel to distant lands. That aspect of freedom and the dream of crossing oceans never changed for me, but sailboats began representing sport and competition more than freedom and exploration. MONGO represents the former once again and for that I am very happy.

    The trials and tribulations of MONGO

    Haul out #2 for MONGO. Grinded away some fiberglass on the port side of the skeg in front of the rudder to allow the rudder to turn all the way. Massive thanks to Chuck Drisoll at Driscoll's Boat Yard for helpping me out! And thanks to Don at the Foss Company (builder of the rudder) who immediately offer post-sale supportfor my fitment issues, although I chose to haul out instead.

    The re-fit has still been forging ahead at full steam. In addition to knocking out a lot of small tasks, the big one for last week was getting the new rudder installed. The rudder builder dropped off my new rudder in San Diego and I was stoked! Upon initial inspection, the rudder looked great, so I took the rudder to Dynamic Marine Machining and had Dave and Sean give her some love and drill a hole in the rudder post to bolt on the rudder head/ tiller head. After that, I brought the rudder back to the dock, sanded quickly and then painted with bottom paint. (Should've saved paint from my haul-out. Buying paint by the quart is expen$ive.) Donning my wetsuit, I dropped the old rudder in the slip and installed the new one. Perfect fit. Bolt on the rudder head and tiller and go for it. Left-right-left-right. What the f---? The rudder moved about 70 degrees to starboard but only 20 or 30 to port. 


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  • 03/29/14--03:36: April 28- Hilo, Hawai'i
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    After 20 days at sea, MONGO anchored in Hilo's Radio Bay. Absolutely awesome first passage of this journey and fully stoked on where we made landfall. Full 360-degree protection, ultra flat water and a really big, beautiful wild island to explore. Not upset about this.

     

    MONGO rounded the breakwater, turned upwind and sailed across Hilo’s inner harbor under sunny blue skies with the world’s largest mountain; Mount Mauna Kea watching over us. Powered up on a port tack will full main and working jib, MONGO rocked up into Hilo with authority. Blasting by a big, anchored cruising catamaran flying a German flag, we threw in two quick tacks around a commercial pier and then sailed into the 360-degree protection of Radio Bay. Keeping a safe distance to windward from one of the two Hawaiian sailing canoes moored out in the tiny man-made anchorage, MONGO’s jib was doused, anchor dropped and then backed down on with the mainsail. The boat stopped moving. Using palm fronds rustling in the wind and a nearby Polynesian sailing craft as a reference, I confirmed that the anchor had set. I doused the main. We had made it.

     

    The picture-perfect final approach into Hilo’s Radio Bay was indicative of the entire passage. An early season engineless passage from So Cal to Hawaii is a bit of a dice roll, but MONGO was blessed by the gods. 20 days, very few issues and consistent, mostly mellow conditions


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    I just wrote a full write up of my recent dismasting for Sailing Anarchy. You can read it by clicking here. 

    MONGO back in Kahului, Maui after dismasting. Thanks to the US Coast Guard for towing us back into port!

    Unfortunately, MONGO has dismasted and is back in Kahului Harbor after being rescued by the Coast Guard. I have borrowed a 4-horse out board engine, outboard engine bracket and have erected a jury rig using my old boom. I will motor sail for Lahaina tomorrow using two storm jibs and will be accompanied by the Valiant 32 Horizon, whom I met in Hilo. 

    The resurrection of MONGO begins. Boom has been set as a jury rig and I have bolted on a 4-horse outboard for the move to Lahaina, where I will re-rig. Thanks to Zach from s/v Horizon for the engine and Lars, commodore of Lahaina Yacht Club for the OB mount.

    I have found a mast in Lahaina that i'm going to buy and am planning to re-fit, repair and re-rig the boat while on a mooring in Lahaina. MONGO is going to be resurrected and the journey is far from over!

    More to come very soon.

    Several people have inquired about helping with the re-rig. If you wish to contribute to MONGO's re-rig, my paypal address is rsimpson48@yahoo.com Thank you very much to those that have contributed. MONGO will ride again...


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  • 04/07/14--18:34: April 7- Lahaina, Maui
  • This view from this morning is indicative of how I think of Hawaii. A beautiful, magical place where anything is possible. Weeks like this last one are the reason why. Aloha.

    “Aloha”. Those five letters mean much more than a post card to me now. Since dropping my rig off a lee shore on the windward side of Maui, i’ve experienced some pretty extraordinary kindness from random strangers who have happily offered to go out of their way to help out a sailor in a bind. I have sailed to Hawaii many times now and have always had nothing but incredibly positive experiences while here; it’s why I keep sailing back, Hawaii is paradise. But this is the first time i’ve found myself in a really, really shitty situation in Hawaii and the response has been equally overwhelming, humbling, gratifying, touching... Aloha.

     

     

    You can't keep a good boat down. Just four days after being towed into Kahului by the Coast Guard, MONGO rolled out sporting 4 horsepower and a staggering 100+ feet of sail area.

     

    Sailing for Lahaina when I dismasted, I was headed to the yacht club there to pick up a very important mail drop that included a new bank card and a couple of paychecks from magazines. With the rig down, I still needed to make the journey across the island to Lahaina. This journey would happen sooner rather than later. Just two hours after reaching the dock in Kahului with my now dismasted boat, an 8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile creating a potentially serious tsunami situation in the Hawaiian Islands


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    Field to shop and back to field, new rig of MONGO has been strutting her stuff all over Lahaina. Maui re-rig in full swing.

    This un-planned Maui re-rig is turning into an absolute highlight on the good ship MONGO. The various rig projects are coming along nicely, i'm sourcing a new main sail, i've lined up some part time work, wrtten several articles and have reconnected with my friend Rebekah from Kauai. Maui and it's people have been amazing, MONGO will be sailing in a few weeks and I may be picking up one crew for trhe voyage to the South Pacific :).

     

    The new mast is actually far nicer than the original. A beefy section with a tapered mast head, internal halyards and aero spreaders, i'm pretty stoked on this new rig. Moving the rig into the shop, Bob-O and I stripped everything off of it. All rivets, hardware, tracks, bolts, screws, spreaders, etc etc etc. Down to a bare tube. Bob-O reworked the sheave box for the main halyard, his wife Allison polished and cleaned up a few parts. Bob-O also welded over and closed up several holes where hardware had been at one point, but no longer will be. We moved the rig back to Bob and Allison's field where I will strip it, sand it, clean it, primer it, hang it and spray it. I will also do the same to Bob and Allison's Cascase 36 rig.


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    Just look at that shiny, tapered masthead... New rig of MONGO should go up in about a week and be a significant upgrade over what was standing orginally. With a very solid spar to start with, thorough prep, a sprayed-on Awl Grip paintjob, lots of custom metal bits, new running and standing rigging and lots of new hardware, this new rig should be a significant upgrade. This project has been a massive investment of time, money and sweat equity, but also a phenomenal time in my life and my little ship will be all the better for it... Maui :)

    More than five weeks after dropping the rig on MONGO, Maui is beginning to feel like home. No, my anchor is not rolling off the bow and getting stuck on the reef... I am still well on my way to Australia, but Maui has found a place in my heart and I can foresee myself having long ties to this island. It will be bittersweet to put Maui in MONGO's wake, but that day will soon come. If everything goes according to plan, we should be stepping the new mast in less than a week. Bob-O the marine metal fabricator has been an incredible help to me and a great friend in fixing MONGO. The plan is to step the rig in a week, do about a week of sea-trials, possibly a local race or two and then head to Honolulu before June 1. With access to an actual dock and West Marine nearby, I plan to do a lot of work to the boat in Honolulu. It never stops. This dismasting was a very serious setback and added a lot of "to-do's". By mid-June, I hope to have the boat fully sorted and ready to begin cruising again. With 1 crew aboard... Rebekah and I have been continuing to see each other and i'm very excited to sail to the South Pacific with her! The plan is to head to Kauai for a couple of weeks with her and then leave on June 30, the 10-year anniversary of my injury in Iraq, on passage to either Apia, Samoa or Pago Pago, American Samoa. It's been a good 10 years, stoked to be here. 

    My internet connection is extremely slow right now. I'll finish this blog and add the photos and captions in a day or two.

     

     


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    After a lengthy delay in obtaining the mast track that my mainsail will go up and down on, new rig of MONGO is finally ready to step. Paint job is done, hardware is bolted on, halyards are run, shrouds are laced up, wires are run for masthead lights, antenna... it's been a mission to get to this point, but everything is finally ready. Bob-O, Allison and I loaded the rig onto Bob's truck this evening and it will make the brief journey down to the harbor tomorrow morning where we'll step it on MONGO, which will be another mission in and of itsel. I've got a great group of people that will be helping me maneuver MONGO around Lahaina Harbor, load the rig on, move the boat again and then step it using the mast of a 35-foot sailboat. With any luck, i'll be able to step the rig, remove the non-running government-mandated outboard engine off my transom, get MONGO back in cruising mode and head for Oahu this weekend. More to come soon!


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    Just under two months after dismasting off of a lee shore on the island of Maui, MONGO is back in the game. Rig stepped this morning.

    Full update to come soon.

     


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  • 06/03/14--14:23: June 3 - Honolulu
  • MONGO is a cruising yacht again... 3 days after stepping the new rig, MONGO sailed out of Lahaina Harbor, spent the weekend sailing and then rocked up to Hawaii Yacht Club in the Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu, Oahu. Fully stoked to have the boat back together, sailing again, and getting back on the crusing track. I'll be in Honolulu for a couple of weeks of boat work, wrtiting, day sailing, surfing and hanging with friends and family and then will sail for the island of Kauai with Rebekah; my last stop in the Hawaiian Islands before heading to the South Pacific.

     

    MONGO rocked up to the urban paradise that is Hawaii Yacht Club. Fourth summer in a row i've kicked it here at HYC. Great club, nice facilities, fun social scene, surf near by, West Marine a few miles distant... Fully stoked to be back at HYC and in Honolulu for a couple of weeks.

    The Crossing - Maui to Oahu

     

    After day sailing on Saturday with friends, they made their way back to shore while I packed away my kayak and quickly set sail. The breeze looked right and I wanted to make a departure while the day's onshore breeze was still flowing. Sailing upwind on port tack, I made my way northwest until I reached the transition between the land breeze and the trades


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