How I almost Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory or When a Shortcut, Isn’t!

Chubb Cay to Dollar Harbour, 30 January 2014, Thursday,

It’s Oh Dark Thirty, really, 3:00 a.m.  If I want to get to Cat Cay today, it’s 76 nm @ 6.5 knots, that’s 12 hours, plus the usual hour of hijinks, so I either leave now or drive in the dark. Since for the first few hours this morning I can follow the route I took back in December, it’s better for me to leave now in the darkness, but on a known route.  I also can’t wait to try my new driving lights, but as there is nothing in front of me, I don’t see anything.

Hauled anchor, at 3:45 a.m. and am now underway.  I’m very close to the cold front.  Forecasters had it between Florida and Bimini, but the winds switched around last night to the NW meaning it or part of it, passed thru, however, as I get underway, I notice the winds are again from the SE and I can sense buildups just to my west.  Sure enough, in about an hour, I am going thru heavy rain for about half an hour.  Once again I am passed the front, hopefully this time for good. (Sadly, was not the case and the third time, was at the most critical time.) As the sun came up at 6:30, the very light NW winds just caused barely a ripple on the ocean.  Good cruising weather.

I picked up a hitchhiker for about half an hour.

A Tern Takes a Ride
A Tern Takes a Ride

Been anchored here in Dollar harbor (thanks to Active Captain) 30 minutes, since 17:15, a 14 hour day,  just got out of the shower and now, finally It’s Miller Time, but I’m having stiff drink.  As my mother would say, a highball.

So let’s go back to the videotape. The plan worked well. Would have worked even better had I remembered to look at my Explorer Chart Book of the Bahamas, which was three feet away on the chart table in front of my face all f…day.  (the downside of getting up at 3 a.m.?)

So all was going well.  By leaving so early, the seas were flat for the first 9 hours, it wasn’t till early afternoon that the southerly waves picked up in the shallow water west of the tongue of the ocean.  Small waves about a foot, but once in a while they would hit the boat strangely and cause a disconcerting thump.  I’m making good time too, 1600 rpms, but averaging 7 knots.

At this point, it’s midafternoon and I’m only about 10 nm Southeast of the Cat Cay lighthouse, and I am following the exact route I took coming out, but am wondering why I took that route as it seems a little off from what my Navionics charts are saying.  Especially when I got to the real shallow area that I had come straight thru last month.  Shallow, so cruising slowly for an hour, like 5 kts, with only 1 to 3 feet under the keel.  Luckily, as the water got skinny, I made sure I was exactly on that track, though I did test it, by going north and south of the track to see if it improved. It didn’t.  OK, so I get thru that part and now I’m 3 nm SE of the lighthouse, but it my Navionics says I can try to get to Dollar harbor by coming from the NE on the east side of South Cat Cay.

Interesting. Not one to pass up an opportunity (to save an hour)I slow down even more and give it a try, within minutes the rudder becomes sluggish, I immediately make a sharp U turn and add power as the depth sounder stopped sounding, which means it’s in the mud, sand.  Within a heart stopping  30 seconds, I have at least some water underneath.  OK, all is good, I retrace my steps, get back on course a and once again head NW to the lighthouse and the gap between South and North Cat Cay.

Now, in part because of the wasted time, this storm that has been building is now here, so I go thru the narrow cut south (must hug shore to within 100 ft) of the lighthouse in raging seas and wind.  100 m visibility in heavy rain and wind.  When I get to the west side, it is far worse, as there seem to be two different wave trains and their both 6 to 8 ft.  I realize at this point, that I need sea room no matter  what the seas, so I continue west into the deeper water, >40ft, before I turn South,

Now, I’m wondering what to do, The rain is so heavy, I can’t see the inlets or the rocks just to my left, I don’t trust my chart plotter or my navionics App and the wind is from the North, so continuing on and crossing the Gulf Stream is out of the question.

A light dawns, Like the sun burning though the morning fog, I remember my trusty Explorer Chart Book.  Open it to the pertinent page and low and behold it has all the answers.  It showed why I had previously taken the route I had, plus it showed that the only way to the Dollar anchorage was from the southwest.

I decided to play it safe for once and come all the way south of Wedge Rocks as the channel there looked a bit deeper and wider, on the chart, so I just gritted my teeth and accepted that I would have a rough ride for the next 30 minutes.  The visibility was still bad enough I could not the rocks or breakers, so I wondered about turning into the inlet when the time came, but as it was it was all anti-climactic.  As soon as I was south of the rocks, I turned, and the seas died down to just 2-3’.  Looking at the chart it confirmed the AC advice and it was a piece of cake.  I had 14 ft. of water all the way to this anchorage. There was some wind, but absolutely no boat movement (and for a full displacement boat, that says a lot).  There is a strong current which is keeping Dauntless parallel to the channel, but this is the quietest anchorage I have had in the entire time in the Bahamas.

Here are two videos, but it’s hard to get WordPress to play nice with pictures. So go to http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public  for the rest of the pictures in descending chronological order.
Finally,  It’s Miller Time and here is one of my favorite Miller time T-shirts at http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public

Error
This video doesn’t exist
Error
This video doesn’t exist

Leaving Nassau, Let the Shenanigans Begin

See How Unconscious Foresight Saves the Day

Image
Dauntless’ Last Nassau Sunset

Or as some may call it, plain Dumb Luck.

I had spent the last few days getting the boat ready to depart for the roughly 200 mile trip back to Miami.  But in reality, there was little to get ready, so I spent the last days riding the little Nassau buses around and just observing life.

In these last days, I ended up totally changing my views on the people and the Bahamas.  It’s hard to explain why I started with such feelings of trepidation, it’s not like I am unaccustomed to foreign places and cultures, but in any case, I left with the genuine fondness for the life and the people.

Image
This size bus

I found the people warm, generous and very honest.  There is a respect that pervades Bahamian society and it manifests itself in many ways.  The buses are small (for a NYer) 25 seat buses that zip around on assigned routes, but not assigned stops.  Therefore you can flag your bus down anywhere along their route and get off the same way.  One pays as they get off.  Everyone sits down and when the bus is full, a little third seat folds down into the aisle.  More than half the riders give a salutation as they get on, usually “good afternoon” to the bus in general.  The seats are relatively small, as I was struck on one tall, lanky man got on with a big backpack and instead of plunking it down on a vacant seat next to him, he proceeded to squeeze himself into the seat with backpack on, and then proceed to do this Houdini thing, where he switches it around from his back to his lap.  Unlike NY, people don’t sprawl all over like it’s their living room.  It was that incident which made me observe better and the realization came as to how respectful everyone is, young and old, to others.

No one plays music or really disturbs their fellow passengers in any way.  Now as to the music, about half the buses do have some type of music blaring.  I never did figure out how the driver could here as a passenger would call out, “bus stop”.  But they always did.  Also the music, some combination of reggae and rap, on Sunday, became gospel music, on all the buses!  A few buses had church radio stations on during the week also.  I was struck my how efficient they system was, reminded me of Seoul, Korea, in that it consisted of a lot of busses, traveling as quickly as they can, as often as they can.  The exact opposite of what the NYC transit system has become, in which the buses in particular, are run on a schedule that guarantees that while they may be on time, it’s only because they are so slow and too large.  They take forever to load and then crawl along slower than a walking pace.  A system clearly designed by someone who never takes the bus.

Image
School Kids

All school kids wear uniforms and while each school had a distinctive look, there was no variety within a school.  Many high school level schools had a uniform that was opposite for boys and girls, meaning, girls would have a red skirt and while shirt, while the boys in the same school would have white pants and a red shirt.

Coming back to the marina for the last time, as I said goodbye to those who had watched over Dauntless in my absence, I was saddened to say goodbye.  They were generous with their time and efforts. They adjusted my lines as need be and made sure the boat always had electricity.  Couldn’t ask for a better stay or experience.

So it’s time to move on.

I am alone now.  I departed Florida two months ago with a crew mate, Chantal, who turned out to be really great.  A good learner and she tolerated my idiosyncracies, what else can one ask for.

Image
Before Sunrise

I had trouble sleeping I was so excited about leaving.  There is something that is so magical for me in the early morning hours being underway.

We even thought about naming the boat Dawn Patrol, but thought it was a bit corny, though it did appeal to my patriotic (for lack of a better word) side, to show an appreciation and thanks to those who have the usually thankless job of watching over the rest of us (military, fire & police, etc.) while we are fat, dumb and happy all cozy in bed.

This was going to be the third time I left this marina, so I felt I should nail it (back in the day of BMW’s vs Alfa’s, third time around the track was usually my fastest time, as I kept on trying different ways to better my time).

So I went to bed thinking of the lines I would use as I was single handed.  I was starting the engine just at high tide, so I knew I had almost an hour before the current really started going, as I had to back into it.  I knew I needed to get away before it really started running its 2-3 knots.  So, all is going as planned (I also wanted to run the engine 20 minutes, even though I had run it yesterday, 15 minutes is the time it takes to manifest any fuel issues).

As soon as I took off the stern port side line, the boat snugged up to the pier, easier for me to get on and off, and I have rub rails and am not afraid to use them.  The boat did move forward a bit, so I retied the Stbd stern line tight to the piling, so the boat would not move forward.  The spring lines came off and two port lines, I then retied the one bow starboard line with a loop over the piling, with its eye over my forward cleat, and me taking the bitter end to near the pilot house door.  This would be the last line I would release and as the boat moved backwards, the line would slip around and off the forward piling, while still connected to the bow cleat.

Worked like a charm, for the most part; I ran to the stern, undid the line and pulled it quickly into the boat (no lines outside). Quickly stepping back to the pilot house, putting it in reverse as I heard the bow lightly kiss the slip goodbye, cute I thought, as I released the bitter end of the line that was looped around the piling. As Dauntless boat backed out, we wwere free,  perfectly I thought.

Had to make a quick left, parallel to the slip I had been in, to stay in channel, then a sharp right in about 200’ between some ferry and the marker.  All is going well, I’m in the Nassau channel passing under those two bridges to Atlantis. Did you catch what I left out?

Image
Sunrise leaving Nassau

Yes, my bow line was happily streaming under the boat, but in what I’d like to call “unconscious foresight”, though many of you will probably say is simply dumb luck, I had used a short bow line, only 25’. I immediately ran out and pulled the line it, thinking what disaster it could have been had I used one of my normal 50’ lines.  I’ll give myself some credit, as I did use the shorter line, conscious of the time it takes to pull it in.

Sitting here now in Chubb Cay, with good holding in 6’ of water, with 80 ‘of chain out.

The winds are constant SE at 15 knots, but there is a southerly swell, so I am rocking and rolling a bit, but if this boat didn’t roll, I would think we were aground.

Tomorrow it’s Cat Cay and then crossing the Stream.

More pictures can be found at     http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public/i-M94RJzH

Dauntless’ Bahamas Winter Adventure Summary

A Summary of our Bahamas Winter Adventure

Image
Dauntless at Rest

We departed Key Largo 10 December and returned to Miami, 31 January 2014.

Overview of the Dauntless' Bahamas Adventure
Overview of the Dauntless’ Bahamas Adventure

In those 53 days, I had to leave dauntless and return to NYC for 23 days (I didn’t want to miss the snowstorm).

Total days on boat (not including 23 days I was in NYC) 30 days, of these 30 days,  two thirds of our days were spent moving from one place to another.  Most were small moves, but we had a third of the time that we had a full day, 6 to 8 hours, or more, of travel.  The only time I spent more than two nights in the same place was the 5 days in Nassau, when I came back from NY, as I got the boat ready to return to Florida.

We traveled 700 nm in 135 engine hours, averaging 5.2 nm/hr., consuming 215 gal of diesel.  Now, this =1.6 gal/hr., but the fuel consumed includes 47 hours of Generator time.  We did have a little Inverter problem, which meant that we had to run the generator probably 50% more time than normal to charge the batteries.

But even with that, if I subtract about 40 gal from our use, the main engine only used about 1.3 gal/hour! Which equals 4 nm/gal and at $4.00/gal cost of fuel, a rough estimate is $1/nm.

KK42-148 has been exactly what we needed and hoped for.

Thank you Dauntless.  Now, I do happen to have a few shenanigans to relate.

In fact once I left Nassau, the order of the day seemed to be a shenanigan a day keeps Bost on his toes

Light Her Up Boys

It’s 19° in NY and at least 77° here in Miami.  I’m sweltering, But don’t worry about me, I have A/C.

Coming through customs in Nassau, the agent asked me what my purpose of the visit was and I replied, I have about here and she replied, “oh, vacation” and I said, it never occurred to me that this is a vacation and not just a warmer place to work.

I finally finished my lights project.  For those of you who may have read of my shenanigans coming down the ICW one night, I decided to go back to my roots.  One of the first additions to my first car was changing the headlights to the then banned quartz halogen (Cibie) headlights and I then added  two extra lights, a fog and a driving (Baby Oscars).  Never could have too much light for those middle of the night drives around Mt. Rainier.  If I recall correctly, we could do it in 4 and a half hours from the UW campus and back.

Mt. Adams Summer 2008

Getting ready for dinner before the Sasquatch made his presence known.
Getting ready for dinner before the Sasquatch made his presence known.

These pictures are not of Mt. Rainier, but of the area between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens that Julie and I camped in 6 years ago.  I loved the logging roads of western Washington and Oregon.

OK.   Back to the story.

So Dauntless now has one halogen spot (Hella) and two fog lights (Chinese), with two switches near my right hand below the instrument cluster, going through the switch/breaker in the pilot house panel.

Some details on the lights. The Chinese LED’s are advertised as available in 30 or 60 degree light spread, but I think those numbers looked good to the manufacturer and have no basis in reality.  But then that’s what I expected.  I actually bought one of each and it looks like the one that is supposed to be 60° had something sprayed on the inside of the lens (to call it a lens is being very generous).  In any case, both are very bright (even brighter than expected) and very broad (as expected).  The Hella is exactly as advertised.  Even on Amazon, they give a great diagram of the 
Lights light pattern for each type of light, from spot to driving to euro to fog.  I actually got the driving versus the spot, as I can’t see Dauntless going 100 mph (yes, here I do use statute miles, why, because we are on land and our speed is measured in mph), so I don’t really need to see 900 meters down range, 500m will do quite nicely and gives me a bit of a broader beam to catch something let’s say at 200m that my Chinese lights may miss.

And no, I won’t have them on when other boats are around.  For some reason I seem to find myself traveling sometimes for days without seeing other boats.

Like when we went to Andros Island and then decided to leave at 10:00 p.m. as I realized what an untenable position I had put us in.  OK details to follow in tomorrow’s posting.

Back on Dauntless in Nassau, Thursday, January 23, 2014

I’m sitting in the salon, back on Dauntless, having just returned from my three week trip home to NYC.20140124_063540 Dauntless

The boat looks like I never left; it was such a relief to walk down the slip and see nothing strange, she wasn’t listing, the electricity was on and I had no infestation of the insect people, etc.

This marina, Bayshore Marina, has been fantastic.  No problems at all.  Safe and secure, with nice people.  I found it on Active Captain, and I will be putting a post there also.

It was the longest I have been away from her since we bought her last March.  I got a lot of stuff done in NY that needed me there, saw some good friends and ate some wonderful Korean food again, but as the days absent go on, the anxiety builds. You all know what I mean.

So now, I’ll spend the next few days doing some small things and wandering around Nassau,Pepperoni Pretzel but I will be heading back to Miami, sooner, rather than later, as I have found a fabricator and rigger who will do the paravanes (flopper stoppers) for me.

Red Sky in Morning, Sailor Take Warning

Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Red Sky in Morning, Sailor Take Warning
Certainly true today.

20140121_071801_e 100th st

Looking forward to my last blizzard of the season, as I’m returning to Dauntless in two days. I have had a great time in NY with Julie and seeing old friends, but now, I’ve got things to do and people to see.

I look forward to sharing my travels and preparations with you, as I prepare Dauntless for this summer’s passage.

Scotland 2011

Malo 42
Helle 3
20110801 Scotland 103
Oban
Caledonian MacBrayne
Caledonian MacBrayne
Anderton Boat Lift
Anderton Boat Lift
20110801 Scotland 006
Narrow Boat in Canal

So just weeks after our foray into Tennessee, Julie and I were flying to Manchester, England to visit two sets of friends, my childhood friend, Eve (who was/is like a sister to me), her husband Nigel and our Dutch friends, Jan and Carin on their 42 foot sailboat Helle 3, in Oban, Scotland.

Highlights of our trip included:

  • Visiting the Anderton Boat Lift
  • Seeing numerous English canals and narrow canal boats
  • Driving the interesting roads of northern England and Scotland on the left side of the road
  • Eating haggis as an appetizer
  • Sailing to St. Kilda in the Outer Hebrides
  • Being on the open ocean for the first time in our lives on a small boat and loving it
  • Being on heel and not loving it
  • Riding on a little bus with everyone speaking Gaelic
  • Traveling on the Caledonian MacBrayne
  • Staying our last night in York, England and realizing that this is the York in New York.

Besides the pictures here, follow the link for pictures of our entire trip.  Sorry they are not yet all labeled, that will continue to be a work in progress.

Pictures of Northern England, Scotland & Outer Hebrides Trip 2011

Trawler School – February 2010

 

Since the boat chase had clearly become almost an obsession (don’t all good things start that way? Yeah, and some really bad ones too!), I figured it was time to get Julie involved.  This needed to be something we were both in tune with.

As teachers, it’s clear that a picture saves a thousand words, and actually doing it, saves a thousand pictures.  So, during our winter break (a week off in the middle of February), we found ourselves in Ft. Lauderdale at Capt. Bob’s Trawler school.  Captain Bob was the epitome of a salty dog, a bit gruff and old fashioned, with a nebulous past.  But he was also a fantastic teacher.  He managed to differentiate the instruction so that Julie, who knew practically nothing about boats or boating, was not overwhelmed, and I was not bored.  He also had the right mix of classroom and on water cruising.  All in all, a great choice, at a very good price.

Some observations and lessons learned:

  • We really enjoyed our 4 days on the water.
  • We confirmed that we didn’t like the layout of “galley down”
  • Slow trawlers are still interesting, even at 7 knots.
  • We still didn’t like manual pump toilets.
  • Capt. Bob also turned out to be a fantastic cook and salad maker.
  • Julie took the longest solo drive of her life, 1000 miles, as she had the task of bringing the car down from NY, as I was once again calendar challenged.  She had a great time and found the best fried chicken ever.
  • Given the opportunity to swim with the dolphins, as one showed up while Julie was swimming at our anchorage, even as we yelled our encouragement, she took a second look at the 7 foot dolphins as it slid just past her for the second time, and she was out of the water in about 0.3 seconds.

The Search – the First Two Years – 2009-2011

So, as I said, I was reading everything I could and going on Yachtworld virtually every day.  I checked out all the boats I had read about in PassageMaker.  Boat prices were still relatively high and real estate had already taken its dive, so it was becoming clear to me that we would never have the amount of money needed for the boats I was looking at.

We widened our choice and started looking at one off boats that were built as pleasure boats, but basically on fishing boat platforms.  They seemed cheaper and plentiful.

That search culminated in June 2011, when we decided to make an offer and have a survey done on a 50 foot boat that seemed good for us in Tennessee.  It was older, a 1982 Broadfire and certainly had issues, but the price seemed ok.  We decided to move forward and have the survey done.

Now, a little aside.  Julie and I have a truly remarkable decision-making process and pretty much always make great decisions (and I’m not talking about those kinds of decisions that would find us on a snow mobile trail trying to go over a hill on the Gaspe Peninsula in the middle of winter, Christmas Eve, in fact, in a Jeep).

So, when Julie first saw the boat and remarked that it looked too tall, that was a warning sign. Umm, then the surveyor said the same thing and added that if we proceeded, we needed to have a marine architect look it over.  My boat friends also looked at this choice askance.  But we learned a lot in the process.  The surveyor was great, up front and really took the time to understand what we wanted to do with the boat.  My friends, Jan, Carin and Will were also really helpful and combined with our lack of experience; we had pretty much decided to nix the deal should anyone express any doubts.  Since everyone did! it was easy to walk on that deal.

So, while this was a misstep (nothing ventured, nothing gained), we also learned a lot about the process and got to eat some great bbq in Tennessee.

The Journey Begins- Nov 2008

And like many great journeys, this one began on a different journey.  Five years ago, at 39,000 feet, coming back from Las Vegas, I saw our future. I had picked up some magazines that looked interesting at the airport kiosk; one of them was Passage Maker.  By the time we landed at JKF, I saw a path for the life that had eluded me for so long.

Ever since I had lived in Europe in the 70’s and 80’s, I had wanted to live there, Italy, Holland, even Germany, but never saw a way to continue my career and make a living. Still I would visit, two, sometimes, three times a year, always a bit wistful when leaving.

A boat that could travel long distances and we could live on, looked like the perfect solution.  Thus began the journey to make it happen.

It started with getting any book or magazine article I could find about trawlers and crossing oceans.  Starting with Beebe’s book, I read all things motors, but sadly, there were not that many and after a while I had to resort to books and magazines about sailing across oceans.  But being well read had the added benefit that the sailors provided a perspective that was missing in the self-admiring Nordhavn articles I had been reading.  They helped me to see that you could travel around the world in less than a million dollar boat with its redundant systems (which always seemed to be breaking) and really opened up my thinking.

The real challenge was not the money, but having an efficient boat that was simple enough that I could fix pretty much anything that failed, yet rugged enough to cross oceans and equipped well enough that I did not have to use a primus stove, a lantern for an anchor light or anything to do with a bucket.

So the hunt began, pretty much on that great boat porn site, Yachtworld,

I also started looking at boats in the Netherlands with my Dutch friends.  They had been sailing pretty much their entire lives and they really helped me to bring perspective to my ideas and search, and brought up many practical issues that I had not considered (such as, wherever you buy a boat, what’s the plan for getting it home?)

Summary of Our First 9 months

What have we been doing the last 9 months?

From April 1, 2014 to today, Dauntless has travelled over 5,500 nn, starting in Stuart, FL, We took it north in May, arriving in N.Y.C. May 23, 2014.  

On July 1st, we set out for New England, and eventually got to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Downeast Maine.  Spent a wonderful two months in Lobsterland.  Guess what we ate?

September 1st, we started south again, eventually landing at a nice marina, just south of Providence, Rhode Island.  There Dauntless sat, waiting in anticipation for the next phase.  The trip south to Miami, Key Largo and then over to the Bahamas by mid-December.  She now is in Nassau. We’ll be a few more weeks in the Bahamas, before we head back to Florida, where we will do a number of projects and upgrades.

Summary of our first 10 months:

  • Traveled over 5,500 nm = 6250 statute miles = 10,000 km
  • 930 hours of running time
  • Furthest North point reached, St. John’s, New Brunswick, 45°17’N, 66°03’W
  • Furthest West, on the Cumberland River, 30°53.1’N, 81°30.9W
  • Furthest South, Norman’s Cay, Exumas, the Bahamas, 24°35.5’N, 76°47.6’W
  • Furthest East, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, 43°25.3’N, 65°40.6’W
  • Longest passage (without stopping) 230 nm(40 hours) from north of Block Island RI to Cape May NJ

Lessons Learned

Too many to list here, but I have met a lot of wonderful people and new friends in every place I stopped in New England.

Dauntless has been as efficient as hoped and anticipated, with an average of:

  • 1.5 gal/hr. fuel used
  • 4.2 nautical miles/gal

Or looked at it another way, an average overall cost of $1.00/nm for fuel.  Which means it will cost us $3,200 in fuel to get to Europe :–)

My hopes for this Blog

Dauntlessatsea.wordpress.com or at some point it will be just DauntlessAtSea.com

I will have more pictures of Dauntless, inside and out and also hope to have a daily picture of our travels with a bit of explanation, as needed. If there is a more extensive description of the day’s shenanigans, than I will have it on a linked page or tab.

 

NY TUGMASTER'S WEBLOG

Tugboat related issues, comments, and opinion.

skysanai

My life as an airline pilot

Betsy and Jerry

Exploring America with our four border collies.

Dauntless at Sea

Voyages of Richard on a Kadey Krogen 42