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December 4, 2023

Ronnie Simpson Passes Cape of Good Hope in Global Solo Challenge

Bay Area sailor Ronnie Simpson has passed a significant milestone in the Global Solo Challenge. Today’s official report on the race website reads: “Ronnie Simpson aboard Shipyard Brewing rounded the Cape of Good Hope today at around 10:00 UTC. The American skipper reached this important milestone after 35 days of sailing on his Open 50.”

We’ve been following Ronnie’s journey since the start of his campaign and are ecstatic to watch as he sails his way across oceans in his first solo, global race.

The feeling is real! Ronnie Simpson, currently is fourth place, rounds the first of three capes.
© 2023

We last shared an update in late October, when Ronnie was lining up in A Coruña, Spain, for the start of the inaugural race. The lead-up had been a busy and somewhat stressful time with a boatload of jobs to be done, and a major sponsor to be secured. Fortunately both came to fruition and Ronnie headed off to sea aboard his Open 50, formerly Sparrow, now renamed Shipyard Brewing in honor of his new sponsor — Shipyard Brewing Company.

In the lead-up to the rounding of the Horn, Ronnie wrote on his website

There are a number of milestones to be celebrated and reflected upon in this entry. I have now been out here at sea for more than a month. Shipyard Brewing and I have now passed the 1/4 way mark in this long journey of ours; on the theoretical route at least. I am now in the South, and have sailed through two depressions and am closing on my first Great Cape.”


For the most part, Shipyard Brewing is holding up well though, although a light-air project list is always at the front of my mind. Still pretty surreal to be sliding along in the Southern Ocean and closing in on my first major Cape rounding.

Ronnie Simpson gives Shipyard Brewing’s Pumpkinhead a rundown on the boat.
© 2023
The Open 50 that is currently taking Ronnie around the world.
© 2023

We’ll bring you more updated news as the race continues. Stay tuned. And “Go, Ronnie!

Tune in to our podcast, Good Jibes, Episode #115, to learn more about Ronnie’s prep for the Global Solo Challenge. 

Santa Cruz and East Bay Kick Off 2023 Lighted Boat Parade Season

Each year, at around this time, we scan the Bay at night for the colorful lights that sailors string up through their rigging. And we’re never disappointed. To add to the fun, yacht clubs throughout the land organize their members into parades that bring the lights to everyone within reach of the waterways. This year’s Lighted Boat Parade season has kicked off in Santa Cruz and the East Bay!

Edward Stancil from Santa Cruz was watching the parade on Saturday night and managed to get some photos and video of the lighted boats.

Now, that’s a lit boat!
© 2023 Edward Stancil
Heading out to join the fleet.
© 2023 Edward Stancil
Doesn’t matter where you sit, the show is everywhere!
© 2023 Edward Stancil

Here’s Edward’s video:

Saturday was also the night of the 47th Annual Lighted Yacht Parade hosted by Encinal and Oakland Yacht Clubs. We reached out to Steve Ingram and Allie Hawkins from Bay Lights Charters, who dressed up their boat, Gaslight, and took 35 guests aboard for an evening of merriment and fun.

Gaslight waits patiently for her guests ahead of the parade.
© 2023 Allie Hawkins
Frosty, Santa, and the Gingerbread Man had the best view from aboard this classic Bay Area scow.
© 2023 Allie Hawkins
Dressing up was encouraged for all the guests aboard, among whom was the Alameda Chamber of Commerce president. (Not saying they’re the ones in the bunny suit …)
© 2023 Allie Hawkins
It was a great family night for all!
© 2023 Allie Hawkins

Are you joining one of the upcoming lighted boat parades? Send us your pics: [email protected]

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Named After an 1853 Wreck, Ready for Restoration

Good news for lighthouse fans: California State Parks has just announced the selection of a contractor to rehabilitate the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, located within Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park. The $16 million rehabilitation project will start construction in early 2024 and is expected to be completed within two years.

The 115-foot structure is the tallest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. It was open to the public until late 2001, when it was closed because of safety concerns after two large pieces of brick and iron fell from the top of the structure.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse
A lighthouse still stands where the clipper ship Carrier Pigeon met her end in 1853.
© 2023 Andy

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero was first lit on November 15, 1872, after being built following the 1853 wreck of the clipper ship Carrier Pigeon. The Carrier Pigeon was on her maiden voyage after launch in Bath, ME, in 1852, sailing all the way around Cape Horn bound for San Francisco. On a foggy June 6 night they tacked east, thinking they were far offshore. After running aground only 500 feet from shore, all hands abandoned ship and scrambled to safety. Perhaps rushing for the gold fields in California contributed to the wreck? There were no brewpubs in Half Moon Bay at the time, so we suspect the shipwrecked sailors made their way to the Sierra pretty quickly.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse chart
As you sail the coast, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is located about halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.
© 2023 Navionics

With the advent of GPS and digital aviation tools, lighthouses up and down all US coasts have had their lights extinguished over the past 50 years. Some have been sold off, others demolished, some repurposed like the Southampton Shoal Lighthouse now resting on Tinsley Island in the Delta, or Quinn’s Lighthouse in Oakland, which was originally the Oakland Harbor Entrance Lighthouse built in 1903. Nonprofits have maintained others, and some are part of the national or state park system.

Despite lighthouses and GPS, bad luck and mistakes still happen. We remember when a catamaran, built in South Africa, was sailing all the way here from South Africa (through the Panama Canal) in the ’90s. The boat was to be on display at Pacific Sail Expo at Jack London Square. They almost made it, but ran aground even closer to the Gate, so the heavily damaged cat couldn’t be in the show. We believe it was later salvaged and able to sail again.

If all goes according to plan, California State Parks will be looking to reopen public access to the lighthouse in 2026, and sailors should continue to see the light as they sail south for years to come. You can learn more from the Coastside State Parks Association here, or get updates on the Pigeon Point restoration here.