First from Ronnie, via email.
Hoping this works and I can send my first blog of the race. Had no sun and therefore no electricity for days, so i'm just getting recharged and going. My ssb worked last night very well for the check in and I could hear well this morning, so my comm situation is on the up and up.
Very rough race for first 5 days. Primary autopilot's rudder reference sensor stopped working after 2 days and that left me using my back up tiller pilot. With no solar power and fully depleting my batteries in the first two days (primary autopilot is hydraulic and very power hungry...) I was left to hand steer with no other real alternative if i wanted to keep racing. I hand steered 60 out of 72 hours for a 20 hour/ day average over 3 days. I hit my mental and physical breaking point a few times, dropping both sails and collapsing in the cockpit. Very very difficult psychological and physical struggle.
I did manage to wire my b&g autopilot brain to my raymarine tiller pilot brain and am sharing wind data. So at least the tiller pilot steers to apparent wind now. Happy about that.
Doing much better now. Morale is up. Sun is out. Blowing pretty light in trades, about 12 knots. Some squall action now. 17 knots. Gotta go handsteer and maybe gybe.
Didn't gybe. Rode 15-18 knots of pressure for a few miles, with a favorable wind shift headed straight to Hanalei. Squall rained itself out and now breeze is going lighter.
-Ronald A Simpson