Those early singlehanders were really amazing guys. Bubb's quote mentions Alfred "Centenial" Johnson. Alfred Johnson was the first known man to do a single-handed transatlantic passage. He crossed from Gloucester, Mass to Liverpool in an open 20 foot dory, capsizing in a storm and still making it.
Quoting from Wikipedia, " When asked late in life why he had done it, he said "I made that trip because I was a damned fool, just as they said I was." Johnson's voyage was the first recorded single-handed crossing of the Atlantic, and perhaps the first major single-handed passage carried out in the spirit of adventure."
Then there was William Albert Andrews. (I aplogize for quoting from Wikipedia but I am a bit short of time), "William Albert Andrews of Beverley, Massachusetts, made several significant single-handed voyages, and instigated the first single-handed trans-Atlantic race. Andrews first crossed the Atlantic with his brother in a 19-foot (6 m) dory
in 1878. He made an aborted attempt at a single-handed crossing in 1888, and then in 1891 he issued a challenge to any single-hander to race him across the ocean for a prize of $5,000. Josiah W. Lawlor, the son of a famous boat-builder, took up the challenge, and the two men built 15-foot (5 m) boats for the race. They set off from Crescent Beach near Boston on June 21, 1891. Andrews, in a highly unseaworthy boat, capsized several times and was finally picked up by a steamer; but Lawlor arrived at Coverack
, on August 5, 1891."
But probably the closest to Ronnie of his day is Alain Gerbault who in the 1930's sailed a beat up old racing cutter, "Firecrest
" across the Atlantic. Gerbault's was the classic "how not to do it" story, arriving in New York with no food or water and nearly totally destroyed sails. Yet, for all his goofiness, his was a hero's welcome in New York. He eventually did a circumnavigation and then spent the end of his life batting around the Pacific only to die in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, BFS indeed....