Newport, Rhode Island

Sep 14, 2022

Newport, Rhode Island – Just two weeks after our initial week of sea trials in Maine, s/v Sparrow has now made her way south to Newport, Rhode Island! The first offshore leg of this entire campaign, myself and two crew sailed Sparrow about 300 nautical miles from Maine to Rhode Island, taking the ‘offshore route’ around the Nantucket Shoals instead of the shorter route through the Cape Cod Canal. The boat is now on display at Fort Adams, site of the last Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport. Our visit coincides with the Newport Boat Show, which will hopefully help us raise some funds and awareness for the campaign.

While I am extremely excited to get this campaign off the ground and go make something happen, it was just the smallest bit bittersweet to leave Portland, Maine and the Maine Yacht Center. Portland, Maine is a super cool place and the staff and facility at Maine Yacht Center are truly world class. Making things extra special is that we were able to take a few of the staff from the boat yard out on a ripping daysail the day before we departed. Sparrow is a very unique yacht and it was nice to see the guys who actually did a bunch of composite work and boat work on her tell me about how solid of a boat Sparrow is. It was also quite special to see their reactions, all very positive, after feeling the 50-footer power up in 11 knots of breeze and start hitting 10’s across the harbor. Truly a great day on the water, and mahalo again to Maine Yacht Center. Those guys also hooked me up on my moorage and helped the campaign save some money. I am super grateful for your friendship and support, so mahalo and aloha to Maine Yacht Center!

We departed Portland on Saturday September 10 at mid-day and motored towards the open ocean, reaching a ligh breeze just a couple of miles offshore. Without any working satellite communications on the boat just yet, I took notes on the weather forecast and made a routing plan, and everything basically worked out perfectly according to plan. As we departed Portland and began sailing, we were quite headed on a starboard tack and sailing upwind, though not pointed in the direction that we needed to sail. Exactly as forecast, the breeze gradually built and went right, which allowed us to reach (wind on our side) right to our first waypoint at a good speed, considering how light the winds were. Even in just 9 or 10 knots of wind, we were able to sail at about wind speed under main and jib until reaching our waypoint just off of the Nantucket Shoals.

Once reaching our waypoint, we turned to starboard and began sailing upwind, again not laying out destination. Perfectly on cue with the forecast, the wind went light and then transitioned all the way around until we were broad reaching and sailing downwind on a port tack towards Newport. By Monday morning, we were broad reaching and running into Newport at double-digit speeds up to 13 knots under a single-reefed main and jib. With an Open 50 like Sparrow, it’s nice to see how feasible it is to average 10 knots in a fairly wide variety of conditions. We motored in to Newport in light winds.

Stoked to have this first offshore leg under my belt and to have gained a great experience and some valuable miles on Sparrow! Thanks to my delivery crew of Keith Magnussen and Jose Miguel Castello for crewing on this first leg. I’ve known both of these guys for upwards of 10 years and it was great to spend some good time offshore with them and have a good and skilled crew who could help me sail the boat.

Sparrow is currently at Fort Adams on the same docks that were used for the last Newport stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s an awesome, though not cheap, place to store the boat. This week is the Newport Boat Show and we have a great slip, so hopefully we can network with some good folks, do some sailing, engage with the community and at least raise a couple of grand this week to offset our expenses while here in Newport.

Speaking of that, the GoFund Me is up to nearly 23 grand, which is incredible, but unfortunately it’s already mostly gone. I have managed to do a lot of very productive stuff with the money -(sea trials, airfare, hotels, a media guy, a sea-trial crew, had a website built, formed an LLC, scored 3 spinnakers and two new snuffers for them, paid my initial entry fee for the race, boat yard fees, dockage, down payment on insurance for a year, crew shirts, business cards, stickers etc etc.) To pull off a professional appearance and run a viable campaign that can get me well funded and on the starting line in Spain is already turning into a daunting proposition, but I am optimistic that it will all work out and not end in total financial ruin.

In the very near future, I need to find some money to do some very necessary upgrades to the boat to continue moving the project forward and the boat furhter south. First up, we need to build a stack pack/ mainsail cover, get new sheet bags for the cockpit, add some solar power, invest into our electronics and autopilot and a lot more. I also need to make a trip back to California to likely sell my cruising boat and most of my remaing possessions in the very near future.

Interested in sailing on the boat in Newport, contributing to the campaign or otherwise getting involved? Feel free to drop me a message at


Ronnie Simpson

skipper, Open 50 Sparrow