Crisis in the Mid-Atlantic

Day 14, 22 December 2016, Still 800 miles from our new destination of Martinique.

Dauntless Log for Days 13 & 14. Notice the blank lines in the middle of the right page.

The void in my log for that date, from 12:21 to 20:01 says a lot, because it says nothing.

The fuel crisis was a week behind us.

Though now I was a bit concerned out our oil supply for the engine.  I had changed the oil just before we left the Canaries. That left me with only had 10 liters of oil for the trip.   For coastal cruising this is more than enough, but to cross the Atlantic, to go 2500 miles without the possibility of stopping to get anything, be it food, fuel or oil, was plain stupid.

I’ve gotten in the habit of buying extra. If I need one, I get two, but in the checkout line, I decide to get another one so I end up with three.  This is exactly what I did while at Deevey’s in my last days in Waterford, Ireland.  In this case, I got an extra case, which the owner Mark was great about bringing to the boat. Little did I realize what that extra case of oil would mean 6 months later.

Stupid because the Ford Lehman engine consumes about 1 liter every 50 to 60 hours. I knew our passage was going to be about 500 hours, so I should have at least 10 liters on board, plus at least one oil change of 14 liters, just in case.  For example, if an oil hose fails on the oil cooler, most of the oil will be in the bilge before I can turn off the engine.  Thus, having the full amount of oil for the engine as “spare oil” is a necessity.

So instead of starting with 25 liters on hand, we only had 10.  And now, after 13 days, 312 hours, I had already put 6 liters in the engine, so now, I’m down to only 4 liters.  No problem unless there is a problem.

The day before, day 13 out of the Canaries, we had the continuing drama of the windward paravane pole bouncing vertical. As long as we immediately stopped and let the pole fall back into place no problem.   But it was occurring more often, becoming annoying and running the risk of doing damage to something.

The Maretron data shows what a rolly passage it was.

Finally, at midnight, when it happened again, I got out of bed and Micah and I decided to retrieve put in place one of the preventer sticks I had made for just this purpose two years earlier.

This video shows the stick I was using.

This video doesn’t exist

It broke by morning.  We put the second one on, hoping it was just a defect in the wood.  It lasted even less time.  Finally, I got the idea to wedge a fender between the pole and the gunnel. That worked for the next 1,000 miles.  In Martinique, we further refined the system and tested it under rolling seas all the way to the Pananma Canal. Now, it no longer can get out of position.

Hey, it only took 3 years and 15,000 miles. I never said I was a quick Lerner!

This video doesn’t exist
 This video shows the conditions on Day 13

Now I have a system that I am quite proud of: It’s very effective, simple, easy to adjust or modify and easy to use even single-handing. It takes only 1 minute to deploy the birds, and I’ve retrieved them alone in less than 3 minutes.

So, as Day 14 dawned, the issues we had had: the 5-day fuel leak, the paravane poles and the broken bird, minimum oil reserves, seemed behind us.  Being on a boat in the middle of the ocean makes you self-reliant like you never thought possible. In the worst moments, I don’t tell anyone. Why? What the point? They will just worry about something they have no control of.

Problems popped up; problems were solved. The only issue was that I would get terrible seasick as soon as the crisis was resolved.

Little did I realize that my biggest test yet was just around the corner.





Author: Richard on Dauntless

I’m an eclectic person, who grew up in New York, lived overseas for many years and have a boat, Dauntless, a 42 foot Kadey Krogen trawler yacht. Dauntless enables me to not only live in many different parts of the world, but to do it in a way that is interesting, affordable, with the added spice of a challenge. Dauntless also allows me to be in touch with nature. As the boat glides through the ocean, you have a sense of being part of a living organism. When dolphins come to frolic, they stay longer if you are out there talking to them, watching them. Birds come by, sometimes looking for a handout; sometimes grateful to find a respite from their long journey. I grew up on the New York waterfront, in the West Village, when everything west of Hudson St. was related to shipping and cargo from around the world. For a kid, it was an exciting place of warehouses, trucks, and working boats of all kinds: tugs and the barges and ships, cargo and passenger, they were pushing around. My father was an electrical engineer, my mother an intellectual, I fell in between. I have always been attracted to Earth’s natural processes, the physical sciences. I was in 8th grade when I decided to be a Meteorologist. After my career in meteorology, my natural interest in earth sciences: geology, astronomy, geography, earth history, made it a natural for me to become a science teacher in New York City, when I moved back to the Big Apple. Teaching led to becoming a high school principal to have the power to truly help kids learn and to be successful not only in school but in life. Dauntless is in western Europe now. In May and June, I will be wrapping up the last two years in northern Europe, heading south to spend the rest of the year in Spain & Portugal. Long term, I’m planning on returning to North American in the fall of 2017 and from there continuing to head west until we’re in Northeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, where we will settle for a bit. But now, my future lies not in NY or even Europe, but back to the water, where at night, when the winds die down, there is no noise, only the silence of the universe. I feel like I am at home, finally.

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