The Dauntless Fuel System

After three days in Xtapa, I was getting ready to go again.

My Racor systems

The night before departure, I topped up all our fluids, both oil and coolant were down, since we had those repairs the days earlier. While they were topped up upon completion of those repairs, it takes running time for air to work out of the systems.

The rough seas and miserable pitching of the last few days seemed to really scour the fuel tank, so I ran the fuel polisher system (filtering fuel to take water and impurities out) on the starboard tank for 8 hours the day before. During the 8 hours, vacuum on the filter had increased from 4”, which is OK, but not great, to only 5”. Which is marginal. Since we were getting underway for another multiple day passage, I changed the fuel polisher filter, a Racor 900 filter system (Racor 2040 2-micron filters bought on Amazon for $12 each.

I usually don’t run the fuel polisher that often anymore.  Unless needing to really top up the tanks, like leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean, I only put new fuel in one tank. Thus, I can isolate any issues. I then run the fuel polisher on the new fuel to check it out. Usually an hour; If the vacuum doesn’t change significantly, I turn it off. Sometimes the vacuum will even go down, when the new batch of fuel is better than what was in the tank.

Underway, I also always set the return to the same tank it is feeding from. Once, in prehistoric times, I set the return to the other tank as a means to transfer fuel. Of course, I forgot and ran out of fuel while running. I didn’t do that again.

But I did. This second time, I had inadvertently left both feeds and returns open. For whatever reason, my system tends to return more fuel to the port tank and less to the starboard tank if both returns are open. Thus, I emptied one tank. But this time, the engine did notice because I had also left the sight tubes open on top and bottom. The result was that although the starboard tank was empty, enough fuel was being returned, keeping the sight tube full, which was then fed back to the engine.

Aux fuel pump

Had I closed the sight tube, the engine would suck air from the tank feed.

Lesson learned. Nowadays, besides feeding and returning to the same tank, I also keep the top of the sight tubes closed, so that fuel goes back to the tank. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of using cooler fuel from the tank.

I like the Racor setup very much. Twin primary filters, Racor 500, in parallel, and a Racor 900 for fuel polishing and transfer. For a long-distance cruiser like Dauntless, it’s a mission critical system. Meaning don’t leave home without it. When underway, I don’t go into the engine room often, maybe only twice a day, once in the evening before my shower and bed and in the morning, after my early morning watch. (I usually wait until crew is awake, so I don’t wake them by opening engine room hatch, unless the night before I thought I may have an issue, then I check again as soon as I wake).

Racor filters

The parallel Racors really give me peace of mind. In the early days, when changing filters was more of an adventure than it should be, if I suspected a problem, I’d immediately switch filters to the new one and then monitor the new one for issues (water or clogging). But I didn’t have to deal with the filter just then.  If in a benign environment, I may shut down the engine, but that is rare. Nowadays, I can change a filter in less than two minutes and that includes priming engine if need be. I installed an electric fuel pump just for that purpose. It makes doing any fuel related work so easy. I used to hate changing the engine mounted filters. I still have the scar on the back of my hand from spending days trying to prime engine (turned out to be a failed O ring had clogged fuel line to Injector pump). Nowadays, if I do switch filters while underway, I will change the old filter, so I always have a new one ready to go at an instant.

Fuel from Colon Panama
Strange coincidence that the only place I got significant water in fuel was the only place that gave me a bottle of fuel to prove it was good. Ummm

Nowadays, I almost never have an issue. But when I do, I need the fuel polisher now.

Like when we fueled up in Colon, Panama, waiting to transit the Panama Canal. It was a fuel barge, made even sketchier because they spent some time transferring fuel from a tug to the barge and then to my boat. Once I returned to our slip and ran the fuel polisher, it picked up a lot of water. Another reason to never run from both tanks at once. I knew I had a problem, but it was isolated in the port fuel tank. I also installed those plastic drains that can be opened by hand on all three Racor filters. So, in a situation like this, it made it particularly easy to run fuel polisher a while, when bowl is full of water, empty, run, repeat, until I decide to also change filter. I’ll usually do that at the end.  Then give it a good run again to make sure it’s good to go.

I’ve had a few occasions, in which I just let the fuel polisher run and the vacuum gets to 22” to 24” of mercury (Hg).  When that happens, I am ever more grateful that none of that crap got to engine or even primary filters.

Because the Racors are doing their job so well, I don’t change the engine mounted fuel filters very often. Maybe even on the order of 500 to 1000 hours. This interval has gotten longer and longer because even in the past when I did have some water in the primary filter, the secondary engine mounted filters had none.

I like Fram

You may think that that’s excessive. What’s the harm in changing the primary filters? In my first year or two, the primary filters were the cause of all sorts of issues from blocked fuel lines to air in the system. They are hard to reach, which introduces a greater possibility of error in replacement or even affecting some other nearby engine component.

The Ford Lehman SP135 engine and I have an agreement. I don’t mess with it and it does its’ thing, which is to never stop until so commanded. So, I am particularly careful working near the engine.

A couple of weeks later, this system would again save my bacon. I had carelessly kept running from the starboard tank, even after it went below the sight tube. I did have a reason, I wanted to see if I had really needed the expensive fuel I had added in some expensive place.

I’m in the pilot house and suddenly, I hear the pitch of the engine change. Remember, the Ford Lehman and I have an agreement. The engine pitch never changes. So, in seconds I had the hatch open and was down in front of the engine by the Racors. I instantly switched filters, then took the time to look around. The engine was starting to surge now (up and down in rpms). I looked at the feed tank and saw no fuel in the sight tube. Now the sight tube is still about 20 gallons above the feed line. I open the port tank feed and return and close the starboard feed and return.

Surge continues. I ask Larry to give it some throttle. No change. Throttle back to just above idle. I turn on the electric fuel pump used to prime filters. Add throttle. In about 5 seconds that seems like 5 minutes, the engine smooths out. I wait another minute and turn off electric fuel pump and carefully adjust valves that put electric fuel pump into main fuel line. (otherwise, when first installed, the fuel pump just pump fuel around in a circle, with out the need to go to the engine. Under normal setting this fuel pump is isolated in a parallel loop and the engine uses gravity feed and it’s lift pump).

From first change of engine pitch to running normally again took less than 60 seconds.

My Sp135 was good to go again.

 

 

 

Everything is Swell

In one of my recent posts I talked about my use of Windy.com and how much I like the GUI they have developed. It’s an easy way to look at the two-main worldwide weather forecasting numerical models, the GFS and the ECMWF.

The mid-Atlantic on 11 March 2018 as depicted on Windy.com

Almost a year ago today, I wrote the post “The Atlantic is a Harsh Mistress”.  This was my first reaction to the reality of what we experienced versus the anticipation of what I expected.

I had read so many accounts of boats crossing oceans.  Not having any experience, myself I was not sensitive to the subtle differences of the trade wind Pacific versus the Atlantic.

Hey, it’s the trade winds, characterized by strong steady winds and large, 15 to 30-foot-long period waves.

Easy Peasey, as Micah was fond of saying.

I’d just read an account of Kadey Krogen 42 doing the much longer passage from the California to the South Pacific and Australia. Their only problem was boredom and they ran out of Coca Cola. I wouldn’t have those issues.  Having lived in Europe on and off for years, I’d long ago learned it best to wean myself off American products.  And boredom, not when I had countless hours of Korean Dramas and a crew mate in Micah, who also liked them as much as I.

I still vividly remember leaving Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries to small seas and steady winds. After the first hour, I found myself thinking this could be an easy three weeks. An hour later, as the seas and winds increased, I deployed one paravane stabilizer, another hour later, I deployed the second. We stayed in that configuration for the next three weeks.

It was anything but easy. The passage was characterized by three wave sets (swells).

Swell are longer period waves that develop when the wind blows over the ocean for long period of time. Thus, winds and storms, hundreds or thousands of miles away cause swell.

The primary wave set or swell was from the east, the second from the northeast and the third from the southeast. The third had the longest period (time between waves) of ?15+ seconds. The other two, were on the order of 9 to 12 seconds.

On top of this all, were the wind driven waves. These waves are created by the wind at that location and if the wind stops the waves stop also. These waves had a period of about 7 seconds.

The result of all this was that we had 12 to 15-foot waves from the east, right behind us. My Kadey Krogen loves following seas, but what made it so difficult was the other two swells with different periods hat produced a corkscrew movement. Then every 8 minutes or so, the NE and SE wave troughs would meet under the stern of Dauntless and we would do this wild corkscrew movement with first the bow pointing to heaven and then seconds later, twisting down.

It was a wonderful corkscrew if I was on a roller coaster.

Here are some videos of the experience:

 

I love my boat so much.

 

In the middle of the Atlantic,15 December 2016. The Kadey Krogen flag is now in tatters.

So that was my introduction to multiple swells. Oh, I had noticed it before in the north Atlantic, but I attributed to “rogue” waves and it was not so systematic as in the trade winds.

The result was best described by some sailors I met in Martinique who had just done the same crossing. They called it the bathtub, because the water was so disorganized.

Getting back to Windy.com, if you open the page, https://www.windy.com/21.576/-45.264/waves?waves,19.746,-41.594,5

On the far right, you can see the vertical column where “waves, swell, swell2 and swell3” can be chosen.

Looking at this data today, mid-March, it’s also apparent why the best time to cross this part of the Atlantic is in early winter, as the when we crossed in December, at least all the winds and waves had an easterly component. Now, you can see that there is a swell from the northwest, that must be very unpleasant.

 

 

Planning – It Ain’t for the Faint Hearted

As I sit in my 10th floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, the People’s Republic of Vietnam this balmy January 2018, writing these words, I think back one year.  I was in Martinique, in the Lessor Antilles, luxuriating in having just completed a harder than expected crossing of the Atlantic from North Africa to North America.

Looking north from my apartment in HCMC, Vietnam

Vietnam wasn’t even on the radar and if it was, I thought it was a wave top. Impossible it imagines how different 2017 would end up.

So, how can a person who doesn’t have a clue as to where they will be in 12 months’ time write about planning?

And not only write about, but spend a good portion of every day’s waking hours thinking about The Plan?  So much so that just a while ago, I found myself looking at the noonsite.com information about Taiwan.

Taiwan? wtf, he still hasn’t figured out how to get Dauntless out of Mexico, you’re thinking.

And right you are. So, I thought you would be interested in knowing or better understanding my planning process.

To understand my planning process, let’s look at my goal and some background information:

  • The Goal
    • Long term, cross the North Pacific, return to Northern Europe & complete my circumnavigation.
    • Short term, spend a couple of summers in Southeast Alaska.
    • Near term, get Dauntless to California before next winter.

Dauntless is now in the wonderful little town of Huatulco, Mexico, in the little Bahia Chahue.

  • Background information
    • In 2016, once I made the decision to return to North America, I made an elaborate plan (published in some blog post last year) to transit the Panama Canal and cruise up the west coast of North America to SE Alaska.
    • Looking aback at the plan now, I stayed pretty much on time and on target, only transiting the Panama Canal a couple weeks later than originally planned, until Costa Rica.
    • Arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica in March 2017, the wheels then came off or a more apt description, I was beached.
      • What happened? A perfect storm of: local bureaucracy, my nephew who cruised with me since Ireland, had to go back to school and I met this wonderful woman in faraway Vietnam.
      • Returning to Dauntless in June, I needed to get moving north. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that I had visited in 2004 and had really looked forward to returning. But, it turns out, it is not really cruiser friendly. The few marinas are ridiculously expensive and the paperwork of checking in and out was cumbersome and confusing.
    • My newfound friend, Cliff joined me and we took Dauntless from Costa Rica to Mexico. Mexico, it turns out is everything Coast Rica isn’t. Cliff had to go back to work and hurricane season had arrived, so in reaching the wonderful town of Huatulco in August, I decided that enough was enough.
  • The Task at Hand is to get Dauntless from southern Mexico to California, 1800 miles.

Dauntless cruises at about 6.5 to 6.8 knots. thus a 24-hr. period is 150 nm. That’s the figure I use for planning.  With light winds and small seas, then the planning exercise is about planning stops after a day of cruising.

Two years ago, in the Baltic Cruise, I largely ignored the weather and planned the whole 4,000-mile trip based on cruising days of 5 to 8 hours. Usually we would stay a few days in each town or city stop.  But the pacific coast of North America is a whole different creature.

Climatology tells me that the winds are predominantly from the northwest (the direct I must go) 2/3’s to ¾’s of the time. I use Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas which has pilot charts for each ocean by month. Jimmy Cornell’s Pilot Charts also tell me the secondary wind direction and currents. June thru September is 4 months, 120 days. I figure that I will have favorable winds about ¼ of those days, or 30 days. I have 1800 nm to go divided by 30 days means 60 miles per day.  No bad, about what I did in the Baltic in September.

But it also means that when the winds are favorable, I must make miles. The reality of seasonal climatology is best looked at and planned for over periods longer than a few weeks. In this situation, I can easily be stuck in port 30 days waiting for the winds. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a good period, 5 to 10 days of southerly winds. Depending upon where we are along the coast, it means we may do 48, 72 or even 96 hours to take advantage of our good weather window.

Now in this context, when I say “weather” I really mean winds and seas. I’ve left port on many stormy days. Rain, showers do not bother me, it’s really all about the winds and seas for my little Kadey Krogen.

The effect of head winds and seas vary greatly. 5 to 7 knots are hardly noticeable and may produce small seas, less than 2 feet. Dauntless will lose a few tenths of a knot under such conditions.

Going out into the storm

As winds off the bow become stronger, it all goes down rapidly from there. 12 to 15 knots produce 3 to 5 ft. seas, pitching become unpleasant and we’ll lose more than a knot of speed.  18 + knots are untenable from a comfort level. Too much hobby horsing and probably down to 5 knots, less with any counter current. This is what happened to me off the French coast going up the English Channel to Holland. We were making 2 to 3 knots in pure misery of pitching.  Because of the conditions, I finally decided to abort to Ostend, Belgium. It took another 6 hours to go 15 miles.  Some of the worst 6 hours I have ever experienced. The Kadey Krogen was fine, she takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The humans inside were not as happy.

What I took out of that beating was to more carefully consider winds and seas on the bow. A 20-knot wind from the stern is fine. We had 20 days of that crossing the Atlantic last year. Even 20 knots (and resultant seas) on the beam are ok. The paravanes are most effective with beam seas. Though I tend not to venture out in such seas if I am in port. 20 knot headwinds are untenable. Stay in port. If at sea, options are reduced, but probably a change in direction is warranted.

I use Windyty.com for my forecast winds.  I tend not to look at forecast seas because the accuracy is seldom good enough to use in an effective manner. Though Windyty will give you the first, second and third swells.

Now when it comes to forecast winds, for whatever reason, the forecast winds are almost always understated, though I do realize it’s possible that I only notice the over and not the under. Thus, when winds are forecast to be 12 knots, that usually means 8 to 15 knots. If 8, ok, if 15 it’s a no go.  So, in this case, I will use 8 knots for the Go-No Go decision.

From Huatulco to the Channel Islands, it’s only 1800 nm in three long legs. that’s basically the distance I did between Martinique and the Panama Canal.  But with much more un-favorable winds and currents.

Top speed for Dauntless is about 8.5 knots, but it’s non-factor because it’s impossible to justify the double to treble fuel consumption for 2 knots. So, my effective (long term) hurry up speed is 7.5 knots at 1800 rpms and 2 gallons/hour. Thus, I usually keep it to 1700 rpms, 6.8 to 7.0 knots and 1.6 gal/hr.

In my next post, Planning is the Mother of Anticipation, I’ll discuss the Mexican coast, what options we’ll have, crew and hurricanes.

 

Always Forward

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself thinking about its beginning. Lying in bed on the morning of the first day of the new year, 1 January 2017, I luxuriated in being on a motionless bed. I thought about the last month. It was only a month ago, that I was waiting for the winds to die down so we could leave the harbor of Rabat, Morocco.

Dauntless has come so far

30 days and 3,000 miles later, we were in the New World. It was a much hard trip than I had hoped for. Watching the weather for months before our eventual departure, it was clear that the trade winds blew strong and steady from Africa all the way through the Caribbean to Central America.

I’d been hoping that I could stay in the band of lighter winds just north of the trades. It was not to be. Within hours of leaving Europe and the Canary Islands, we got hit by easterly winds for 20 to 30 knots. I wasn’t worried about Dauntless, she was made for following seas like this, but it did occur to me that these conditions meant there was no turning back.

That’s a sobering thought.  In the Mid-Atlantic, with such strong winds behind us, we had to head west one way or another.  There is no turning back. 200 miles west of the Canaries, no matter the issue, no fuel, no water, forgot to turn off the lights at home, no matter; one way or another you’re going west.

Always forward.

On a somewhat related note, here are a few Delta Airlines commericals that I find very motivating:

Sirens Call

Dauntless in Waterford, Ireland November 2014

While I’m cooling my heel in Vietnam; a great place to do so, while Dauntless waits for better weather to head north this coming summer and fall, I seem to hear the sirens calling.

The problem is, after having moved south and west for the last 12 months and 7,000 miles, passing west thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Central America, with Alaska, the Aleutians, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in our sights, the Sirens are calling be back with a distinct Irish brogue.

Your thinking WTF, what the F do you think I’m feeling???

I’m the one who put in the miles, the time, the big ass seas and certainly the money to get where we are.

Yet, I can’t watch a Harry Potter movie, an episode of Borderland, the Fall and certainly Jack Taylor, without missing Northern Europe, Scotland and Ireland.  For my tastes, certainly the best cruising since leaving New England.

Is it nostalgia?

Or just the realization that in my last 20,000 miles of cruising, the longest lasting relationships (excluding Krogenites, of course) have come from the Baltic and the Celtic areas of Galicia, Ireland and Scotland.

Waterford

Coincidence? or the Sirens?

I have a tendency to think it’s the latter.  What else could explain my obsession with Europe, while I still have Asia and a few more oceans to cross at best??

So where do we go from here? I’ll do what I do best, think and plan.

Stay tuned.

 

Provisioning for an Atlantic Crossing

Our Christmas steak in the middle of the Atlantic

I know I’ve not been writing for a while.  Without being on Dauntless, my life is not as colorful or at least I’m not talking about it as much.

While perusing Trawler forum and Cruiser Forum, I came across the story of the two women picked up off of Japan:

https://unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/2017/10/31/19-reasons-this-survival-story-smells-fishy/

It did get me to think about how I provisioned the boat the first time in 2014 and then, subsequently for the westbound trip, 11 months ago.

It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, Dauntless was in Rabat, Morocco and I took a quick 10 days first ever trip to Japan. But that’s yet another story.

What food did we put on the boat for our New England to Ireland passage in 2014?

There are a number of factors that had to be taken in account and planned accordingly:

  • Dauntless, with its 700-gallon fuel tanks, 300-gallon water tanks and a Katadyn water maker, capable of making 160 gallons of water a day (24 hours), had the range to make this 2600 nm trip easily.
  • With a full-size refrigerator and freezer, we did not have to cover our eggs in Vaseline like sailors of old, but our refrigerated space was not unlimited. While Romaine lettuce will last two+ weeks, did we really want to fill our fridge with bulky lettuce?
  • The trip should take 26 days underway. We did plan on stopping in the Azores, but I didn’t want to be required to make that stop just in case. So, we would plan on having at least 30 days’ worth of everything.
  • Lastly, everyone asks what happens if the engine breaks and can’t be fixed or the propeller falls off or we get hit by a meteorite? Well, if the latter, no trace would ever be found, but for the former, what was the plan?  Look at a map.  Let’s say we were disabled in the middle of the North Atlantic, what would I have done?

Well, I would NOT have called the Coast Guard.  If you call the CG, they come and will take you off the boat. Two problems with that plan:

  1. Dauntless can leave me; but I’m not leaving her. My life raft is on the fly bridge.  When the water gets to the fly bridge, I’ll consider deploying the raft and setting off the EPIR.
  2. Despite what you see on TV, being rescued, hoisted off a boat in the ocean has a lot of risk for both rescuers and rescues. No thanks. Maybe if I’m in the lift raft, but not from a floating boat.

So, that leaves us with what was the plan? Propeller has fallen off and is now on the bottom of the Atlantic or on its way (FYI there is a formula to determine exactly how long something takes to settle on the bottom of the ocean. For a grain of sand, it takes more than a year, for a propeller, it’s probably a 6-hour trip).

The prevailing winds are westerly, from the west. Therefore, sooner or later, those winds will push Dauntless at 1 to 2 knots towards Europe. So, the one-month trip becomes 3 or 4. Not great, but doable.

That gives me my goals for provisioning:

  • One month of food that will be consumed.
  • 3 to 6 months of foods that will most likely not be eaten, but is easy to store and will keep forever.
  • Only get stuff I like to eat.

So that was easy.  In practicality, it’s like taking a trip to Costco and buying like you won’t, can’t, be back for half a year.  That’s what we did:

  • Fresh food for two weeks
  • Freezer stocked with meats, pork, beef, chicken, all things we would eat at home.
  • Longer term supplies consisted of those items that we do like normally, but also will last practically forever:
    • Peanut butter, 2 large Costco sized jars
    • Canned sardines, 2 dozen tins
    • Rice, 10 pounds Japanese
    • Condiments, olive oil, etc.
    • Canned tomatoes, 24
    • Canned corn, 24
    • Crackers, dry pasta,
    • Canned beans

Dauntless cooks with propane.  It fires the Weber grill and the Princess three burner stove.  I’ve never used the oven portion, since the Weber does well if I have to bake something.

In hindsight, I had too much canned stuff that I normally don’t eat, beans and tomatoes come to mind. On the plus side, when provisioning for last year’s Atlantic Passage, I hardly had to buy any canned things, only some canned sardines from Spain.  I’m still eating the peanut butter from 2014!  I finally ran out of rice this past summer.

One also must keep in mind that you need to have protein that you like, keeps forever and is easy to store. One can probably live forever on peanut butter and sardines. Rice also keeps well, though I don’t eat very much, as it took me 3 years to eat 10 pounds.

Leaving Spain last year, I did have about 6 liters of UHT milk.  I don’t drink milk, but I really like it in coffee in the morning, so this was something that really went to my peace of mind, though I could easily have lived without it. (I stopped drinking milk during the 6 months I was living on the Arctic Ocean on Ice Island T3. Never drank it again, as in a glass of milk).

In hindsight, the one thing I should have had was fishing tackle.  Even though I don’t fish, it’s foolish not to have the capability if crossing an ocean.

But looking at our steak we enjoyed on Christmas Day, 900 miles from Martinique, I need to go find some red meat!

 

 

 

Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017

I had planned on giving a presentation at the Rendezvous, but it’s not to be.

So, here is the outline.  I will post this on my blog, DauntlessatSea.com

I have also posted, somewhat unedited, three galleries of pictures, you need to use these links:

  • The most recent videos from the Atlantic crossing,

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Atlantic-2016-Videos/n-ddh7xF/

  • My northern Europe pictures and some videos from April thru November 2016, including the painting of Dauntless in the spring and a few of my side trips to Galicia and Veneto, Italy.

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-2016-Northern-Europe/n-6MSG6Q/

  • The pictures from most of 2017, including the Atlantic Passage, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and other things.

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-2017-Panama-Canal-/n-TWg5MZ/

Most galleries are in chronological order. The date time group is also embedded in the file name. Please forgive all the redundancy.  It’s always easier to take too many pictures than not enough, though it makes sorting after the fact a real PIA.

Also, should you see anything and have a specific question, please feel free to email me.

Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017

Richard on Dauntless

Dauntless has come so far

 

Dauntless’ Second Atlantic Passage

  • Four Legs from Europe to the Caribbean
    • Leg 1 Rota Spain to Rabat, Morocco, via Gibraltar to fuel up
      • 250 nm
      • 50 hours total
    • Leg 2 Rabat Morocco to Las Palmas, the Canaries (unexpected stop)
      • 600 nm
      • 4 days, 1 hr., 35 min
      • Avg speed 6.1 knots
    • Leg 3 Las Palmas to Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries, Fuel top-up
      • 172 nm
      • 31 hours and 45 min
      • 5.5 knots
    • The last & biggest leg, the only one that mattered, the Canaries to Martinique
      • 460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
      • 2582 nm
      • 7 knots
    • The “Oh, BTW, you still have 2000 miles to go” leg, Martinique to Panama Canal and Mexico
      • 460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
      • 2582 nm
      • 7 knots
      • Same strong easterly trade winds; same large, mixed seas
      • Avg roll +13°/-09° ext 22°/-10°

Overall Winds & Seas

  • Conditions are Very Different than the North Atlantic
  • Trade winds prevent turning back
    • Constant wind speeds of 20 to 35 knots
    • Direction varied over 90° from NE to SE
      • 3 wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
      • NE & SE wave sets, smaller, longer period
      • wave heights predominate 10 to 15 feet at 8 seconds
        • 3 different wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
        • First week very disconcerting to have stern fall to stbd so suddenly every periodically
      • Since leaving North Africa, until the Panama Canal, more than 5,000 nm and more than 60 days underway, all but two of those days required the paravane stabilizers.
      • Entering the Pacific and turning northwest from Panama City, in the first four days we had no need of stabilization. They call it the Pacific for a reason.

Crises In the mid-Atlantic

Fuel Loss

  • What Happened
  • Possible Solutions
  • What I did
  • What I now think I should have done (hint: Much Ado About Nothing)

Hydraulic Hose for Rudder failure

  • What Happened
    • I was screwing around
    • Possible Solutions
  • What I did
    • First fix did not work
    • Spares, spares and more spares (but not the right fitting)
  • What I now think I should have done

Overall Summary of My Second Atlantic Passage

Considerably harder than I had expected

I’m still organizing the data, but the big take-away, is that the fuel consumption for the last two years has been about 1.5 gal/ hr. or a little above 4nm/gal

Average cost has run between $75 to $133 per day when I’m on the boat.  Even during the most recent passage, cost was $104 per day, with fuel being $80 a day.

 

Krogen Cruisers Rendezvous

My Contact Information:

 

Richard Bost

Dauntless KK42-148

1.212.289.7274

Wxman22@gmail.com

DauntlessNY@gmail.com

 

Link for the blog:

DauntlessAtSea.com

Follow Dauntless at:

Share.delorme.com/Dauntless

 

 

 

 

I Fixed My Watch

I’ve dropped my watch a number of times on my tile floor.  A couple of times, the crystal has popped off.  Just

My Skagen

pressuring it back on was simple.

Then, once the face also came off, as well as the minute hand.  That took a bit more effort and thought to put straight.

Two weeks ago, I dropped it yet again, while thinking that I better not drop it, and this time the damage was extensive, it that all the pieces came apart.

This was not a simple fix.  I tried; for days.  Two of the pins were obvious.  But there was smaller brass peace only a 6 mm in diameter that for the life of me, I could not get to fit.  Worse, I was not even sure how it fit.

I took pictures, I enlarged those pictures.  I tried to align the pieces as best I could be hoping for a miracle, that all four pins would just fall into place.

It didn’t happen.

I prayed. I begged. No joy.

I knew I could send it in for repair, but one thing crossing the Atlantic has done for me is to make me self-reliant.  I don’t need no stink’in warranty center.

This piece goes on top of that piece

It finally occurred to me that I had to go back to basics.  I needed to further take apart some pieces and then piece it back together.

That process still took an hour, but when done, my watch was as good as new.

Crossing oceans takes a well designed and built boat, enough fuel and food and most importantly, the confidence to get it done. Nothing else matters. Not the weather nor the seas nor how tired, bored, cold, hot or scared you feel.

On our first summer on Dauntless, in Down east Maine, after having been ensnared on a lobster pot line for over 8 hours, with help still 8 hours away, my partner turned to me and said, “no one is going to help us, we must do it ourselves”

Less than an hour later, we were free.

And I’ve never looked back.

 

 

The Best Laid Plans

Perseverance, in the face of very adverse situations, being bored almost to tears or dealing with unimaginably

Where Dauntless is, lower right, where I had planned her to be now, upper left

stupid, selfish adults, has gotten me to many of my most important goals in my life: four university degrees, meteorologist, science teacher, high school principal, Dauntless and certainly crossing the Atlantic, now twice.

But it has also gotten me in trouble. Big trouble.

My life has always been about planning.  Acting spontaneously is not me.  Throughout my life, when I have acted spontaneously, the outcomes were not good.

So, it sounds simple.

Make the Plan; Do the Plan. 

And this works much of the time, but not always.  Why? Because while I’m not acting spontaneously, I end up following a not well thought out plan.  Whether career changes, job changes or route planning, I’ve sometimes followed flawed plans to the “T”.

Now, not all plans have the same consequences.  Leaving the U.S. Air Force to start my own business still baffles my mind. Yes, I was tired of the bureaucracy of the USAF, but the USAF is a model of efficiency, team work and everything else you can think of when compared to the New York City Department of Education.

So that decision, way back in 1987, ended up affecting my life for the next 20+ years.

Most recently, I had another occasion to change the plan.  Abort so to speak.

The outlines of the Pacific Ocean Plan were in place before we even crossed the Atlantic three years ago. While always subject to modification, the Plan has two primary functions:

  • It focuses my thoughts to anticipate issues and possibilities
  • It gives me the confidence to persevere, to succeed, even when I get tired, bored, etc.

It’s hard to imagine, that in the original Plan, I would be in Yeosu, South Korea in this month!

Oh well, even the best plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.

Last year at this time, I still expected to be in the Pacific Northwest by now. One month ago, I still expected to be in Guaymas, northern Mexico this week.

Instead, Dauntless is in the wonderful, little port of Huatulco, Mexico.  Just across the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

The crossing of the Tehuantepec was a good example of when to modify the plan.

So, as I left Chiapas at 08:00, alone, because my friend, Cliff who had joined me in Costa Rica to help me get Dauntless the 450 nm to Mexico, had had to return home.  But the longest leg was now behind me and tonight next 6 weeks alone was doable, even if not my preference.

The crossing was long, 40 hours, uneventful, but also an eye opener.

Before leaving Chiapas, I had been advised my everyone, from locals to friends who had done it themselves, to stay within a few miles of the coast, just in case the winds pick up.  It would only add about 20 nm to a 240-nm trip, not that bad.

The course directly across the Gulf is 284°, while along the coast it would be about 305°, so after passing the breakwater, I made my course 300°.

I then spent the next half hour dodging pangas and fishing nets.  260 nm at 6.5 knots is 40 hours.  I immediately understood that I could not spend 40 hours dodging boats and nets.

I had been watching the weather for days, waiting for the appropriate weather window.  Since the synoptic weather pattern that caused the Tehuantepec winds was also the same that caused the Papagayo winds which I had been watching for weeks.  So, I was pretty confident that at I’d have at least 24 hours of light winds, then at the worst case, if they started to build, I’d have winds on the beam for at most 12 hours.

The Mexican coast northwest of Huatuco

Being summer, those winds would not be as strong as in winter. Just like the North Atlantic, cold air can easily produce hurricane force winds in the winter. Therefore, worst case, Dauntless and I would have to put up with 20 knot winds on the beam for half a day.  Not fun; but not dangerous either, at least not in this Kadey Krogen.

With all that in mind, within 3 miles of leaving the protection of the Chiapas, I changed course to go directly across the Tehuantepec.  Needless to say, itw as an uneventful crossing.  (Had it been eventful, you would have heard about it by now).

The Plan was to provision the boat in Huatulco and wait for a weather window to continue north. The more I waited, the more I saw my current Plan slipping away.  Finally, I realized it was time to let it go completely.  In talking to the Marina Captain and a dock neighbor who was heading south, it became clear that the next few hundred miles all the away to Acapulco, offered only one safe harbor, therefore I could not afford to stop as long as the winds and weather were favorable.

Picturing the pangas and nets off of Chiapas, I realized that my long thought out Plan was not feasible at this point.  As I looked for alternative places to winter Dauntless, they were all much more expensive, like 10x more! than my present location of Huatulco.

So here we are. Robert Burns said it best:

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry”

 

 

 

 

Vietnam Tells You How to Avoid Storm at Sea

With Tropical Cyclone 21W (Doksuri) bearing down on northern Vietnam, they gave this 4 minute video of how to avoid the storm if at sea.

I don’t understand a word, but I like it because it’s pretty understandable.  Some explanations:

  • In the beginning, the Cap 11, refer to winds of Force 11, which is when  action big ships should take, the Cap 6 is for smaller boats.
  • The depiction with the forward hatch is to make sure you have all hatches and doors secured.
  • The anchor thing is that if you do call for rescue, to deploy your anchor.
  • The capsize is don’t let the seas get on your beam.

Crossing Oceans in a Calm & Assertive Manner – Most of the Time!

Be aware, but not paranoid.

Another Night on the Atlantic

If you are worried about everything, you will drive yourself and crew crazy. You need to be able to separate the likely from the remote. Be vigilant, but you can’t watch everything.  An hour from home, you can afford in indulge your paranoia, in the middle of the Atlantic, indulgences are not allowed.  it’s “Calm & Assertive” as Caesar Milan would say.

When I would hear a noise in the middle of the night. Perhaps I was being sleeping? Did the noise wake me or was it a dream?  I stay in bed in listen.  Sometimes I may even open my cabin door to listen and more importantly sniff the wind!  Your sense of smell may well be your most reliable tool on a boat.

Admittedly, the first year on Dauntless I was not his way. Unless she was firmly tied to a dock, I was up at every little noise or movement. I hated anchoring out because I got so little sleep. What changed? Mostly me understanding that the boat was fine, the anchor was fine, and the only problem was me.

A couple days out of New England, on the way to the Azores, on my first Atlantic Passage, a mast cleat that secured the port paravane pole let go with a sound like a pistol shot. I stopped the boat, put on a PFD (probably the last time I used it too) and went to the fly bridge to see what happened.

The quarter inch steel bolts had sheared off.  I realized that it was too much tension for a cleat, but a simple clove hitch around the mast a few times would secure the two paravane pole lines with much less stress at any particular point, then ending on the cleat. I made that change in minutes and three years later, it’s still the same.

Later, Julie told me that having a problem like that and me being able to come up with a different and even better solution, gave her all the confidence to not worry about anything. And she didn’t. She had been on the boat less than I, but was more experienced. She understood right away what it took to be successful.

It took me a couple of years.

During my second Atlantic Passage, westbound from Europe, North Africa to North America, I had noticed fuel in the bilge on the first day out of the Canaries. I kept it to myself. It didn’t seem like much, probably less than a gallon, of the 700 we had onboard.  To get to the Caribbean we would probably need 600 of those gallons.  If push came to shove and I needed to conserve, I could probably get there on 500, even 450. In fact, at idle and in gear, 900 rpms, fuel consumption is probably 0.5gal/hr. at 3.8 knots, making the range above 5,000 nm.  With these conditions, with a 20-knot wind behind us, our range would be above 6,000 nm.  (at idle and in neutral, with no load on the engine, the fuel consumption is probably 0.1 gal/hr.)

Since I could see no leak on any of the connections or hoses between the fuel tanks and the engine, including the 4 fuel filters, there was not much I could do until it became obvious. It was clearly coming from the tank, but not the bottom of the tank.

I continued to run the numbers in my head, often, during those days and nights.

But I continued to say nothing.  Certainly, Micah could do nothing and he worries, a lot. My job as Captain is to do the worrying and to keep my crew fat and happy.

By Day 4, Calm & Assertive was slipping away. I was getting nervous.

The big problem was that the bilge pump was pumping water out that had gotten into the bilge from the lazzerette.  With large following seas, the stern deck is awash plenty of time, enough that water gets into the lazzerette.  It is then dutifully pumped out. When I would look into the bilge, fuel being lighter than water, it floats on top. So, when I look in the bilge and see a gallon of liquid, which the bilge pump will pump out, it’s unclear if I’m looking at a gallon of fuel or a quarter of a cup, the rest being water. Under these conditions, the bilge pump was turning on about once an hour. So, in 24 hours, that’s about 24 gallons.  If it’s mostly water no problem, but if mostly fuel I needed to know.

It was possible that I was looking at the same inch of fuel floating on top of water. So, when the pump would pump out, it was just pumping water leaving the last inch of liquid every time. I had to know what was going on.

initially on Day 4, I did the following:

  1. I used the shop vac to vacuum out the bilge. Now if I saw fuel again, I knew it was new fuel. I turned off the bilge pump and left it off for 6 hours.
  2. I reduced our engine rpms to 1450. Now this change would only reduce our consumption by about 0.1 gallons/hour, but we had 16 days at 24 hr./day = 384 hours. So, to save a tenth of a gallon, that’s 40 gallons over that time. I had estimated worst case scenario if it was all fuel with a little water, we were losing about 12 gallons a day, that would be 200 gallons lost. That would be a problem. Better to reduce speed now and figure it out just in case.

Six hours later, I checked the bilge hoping to see only water.

I saw water and fuel!

Wherever the fuel was coming from, it was still coming.  But of the approximately 5 gallons I pulled out, there was at most an inch of fuel on top of the water.  That’s less than half a gallon.

From the first time I noticed the fuel, it never seemed that much to me. From dipping the oil soak cloth (very effective in absorbing fuel and oil, but not water) to collecting the 6 gallons, all signs were a minor fuel loss, which was even decreasing. But,

The mind is its own place and can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. (thanks Milton & Star Trek).

But this is why I say, worry is very destructive.  Even with those facts, by the next day, that worry drove me off the deep end. By constantly checking for fuel, all it did was make me lose any objective sense of reason.  I cracked.

So, I came up with another radical plan.

We needed a way to recover significant amounts of fuel:

I cut the hose (pictured) that leads from the bilge pump to the thru hull and stuck another hose onto it.  This hose I now led out of the engine room, out the salon door to a large bucket on the stern deck.

The Bilge Pump hose with newly made connection. Yes, I will replace that non-stainless steel clamp

We would collect everything the bilge pump pumped out of the bilge for the next 12 hours.

 

We would then take the fuel that standing on top of the water, and pour it into another bucket. Then filter it and pour it back into the fuel tank, as needed.  Thus, even if losing 20 gallons of fuel a day, we would probably recover 75% of that. To lose 5 gallons a day was tolerable.

Now the boat is rolling all the time as we have 10 to 16 foot waves off both stern quarters, so it was no easy task to pour one bucket into a larger bucket.

We, really Micah, did just that for 6 hours.

When I relieved Micah, he thought it was mostly water. I checked the “fuel” bucket, the one into which we were pouring the obvious fuel from the bigger bucket.  After 6 hours, we had about a quarter of a gallon if that.

I looked at that, I looked at Micah and I came to my senses.

I quickly put an end to this process.  It was a 5-minute job to re-connect the now two sections of bilge hose and we were back to normal.

On Day 6, all fuel stopped getting into the bilge

Did I scare it away?

The only explanation is also the most obvious explanation. Last year, in Ireland, when we opened up the port tank to seal it, it was obvious that water had dripped down from the screw holes in which the poorly installed fuel vent fitting had been placed. Now since this is one of the few design, construction issues I have ever found on the Kadey Krogen, it’s hard to complain.

I figured that what had happened is that since the tanks was totally full, the pitching movement in particular meant fuel was being pushed hard against the upper back of the tank.  Just where the fuel vent is poorly installed.  A few drops every dozen second will easily add up to a couple of gallons a day.

Lesson Learned: If I had to do it all over.  I should have been more patient.  I could have slowed a bit before doing anything else and waited a few more days.  I let myself get too nervous even after I had come up with multiple estimates that the amount of fuel we were losing was not significant.

After arrival in Martinique, Dauntless still had 125 gallons of fuel. I determined that we had lost probably 5 to 1o gallons at most. I was meticulous in feeding from each tank every other day, thus the tanks should have been the same, but instead there was a 5 to 10-gallon difference.

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up too much.

All’s Well that Ends Well

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica Days 5 thru 7 – Isla Cedros & Jesusita to Bahia Guacamaya

I stayed two nights in the wonderful, quiet, still anchorage of Cedros & Jesusita.  It gave me time to catch up on my

Sunset in Bahia Guacamaya on 23 July

sleep and to complete the chores, cleaning and re-organization I should have done before I left the dock in Golfito.

Not the first time I have managed to stress myself by not finishing things as I should in a timely manner.

Won’t be the last, but still …

I hated leaving but it was time to move on.  I carefully followed by previous track out into open water.  If I didn’t take any shortcuts in; I certainly don’t take them on the way out.

I was underway before 8:00, as I had contrary current to contend with, I kept the rpms a little higher, 1700 today than the usual 1500 to 1600.  This gives me about an extra half knot, but also consumes an extra quarter gallon per hour or 17% more fuel.

Entering Bahia Samada at night of 22 July
Approaching Bahia Guacamaya

 

 

I was headed to Bahia Samada.  While it got good reviews on Active Captain, I’m starting to think all these reviews are written at a different time of year, with no south to west swell, because again it turned out to be rolly.

Also, buggy.  I’ve gotten in the habit like most experienced “cruisers” to turn on generator as the sun sets. It’s at this point that the winds will decrease or die and the bugs come out.  Also gives me an opportunity to put a little charge in the batteries, while running the A/C to cool and dehumidify the boat.

I usually run it a couple of hours, though I am conscious of the noise and it there are any other boats nearby, I turn it off sooner rather than later.

As I turned NE around the cape towards Samada, there was a large area of rain showers and thunderstorms, seemingly right over my intended destination. Though my timing worked out well in that the storms were moving slowly west, so while it rained for a while, by the time I got to the anchorage for the night, it at stopped.

As I said, not a great place to stop.  Rolly and buggy (mostly gnats).  Therefore, at the crack of dawn the next day, I was ready to get out of Dodge.

Hauled anchor at 06:00 and was underway to Bahia Guacamaya.  This place also got great reviews and for once it deserved them.  Hardly any roll, quiet, beautiful.

I stayed here two days.  I got the water maker running again, cleaned up the stern deck and jury rigged my garden hose reel that I use for the stern anchor line.  I did a good job, only wondering why I had not done it weeks earlier. Another unknown mystery of the universe.

But even before that.  The trip was very nice.  When I had left the winds were light from the northeast, forecast to turn southwesterly during the day at about 8 to 10 knots.  As I rounded Cape Velas the winds were ESE at 20 knots gusting to 25.  That pretty much was the rest of the afternoon.  Very luckily, I was only a few miles off shore so the wind had very little fetch (the distance winds blow unencumbered over water) this kept the wave heights down, in fact they were less than 2 feet.

Dauntless was rolling on marginally.   Now had I come here a few hours later, the seas would have been much greater.  Just like the day I left Golfito, with the winds having blown all night, the seas were moderate by the time I left.

Also, I was able to check the latest forecast.  I use WIndyty.com for the most part as I love how they present the data and the options you have to change what you look at.  I pretty much only look at winds, though I may check the different weather forecast numerical models to see any significant differences. What was interesting about today was the forecast was very wrong, at least in terms of wind speed and for a small boat like Dauntless, that does make a significant difference.

I usually tell people, whether they ask or not, that weather forecasts are usually right, but when wrong they are usually wrong or time or location.  What do I mean?

The forecast was for 8 to 10 knot winds out of the east.  But 100 miles further north, the winds were forecast to be 20 knots.  So, in this case the forecast was wrong by location.  The timing was good.

Now since my Krogen on can go about 60 miles in 12 hours; 100 miles off on location makes all the difference in the world.  But if I was in an airplane covering a much larger distance, the location being off becomes much less of an issue.  Same thing if I’m a ship going 18 knots.

Now had I gotten up that morning with the winds blowing hard, I would not have left.  Because the other aspect of bad weather forecasts is that they usually don’t get better.  Meaning, if the forecast starts off incorrect, for any given time and place, it’s not like the weather will catch up.  Sure, it may look like the forecast is spot on 12 hours later, but more likely, it’s just a matter of chance.

So, I got to Bahia Guacamaya and just as advertised the bluffs to the east blacked the winds from getting into the bay.  Ver nice.  One of the best anchorages yet, certainly the best if I include the scenery.  So good in fact, I really regretted not have Trinh with me.  This would have been such a wonderful spot to explore together.

Here are some videos of the two days:

21 July 18:15, Entering Bahia Samada at night.  

22 July Bahia Samada the following morning

22 July 11:13 Underway to Bahia Guacamaya

23 July Morning in Bahia Guacamaya

 

Costa Rica Day 5 Summary: Engine Start 07:46, stop 18:50; uw 10 hrs 49 min, 67.7 nm, avg speed 6.3 kt. Average Roll while underway, +8° to -10°, delta of 18°;

Anchored Bahia Samada in 17 feet water with 100’ of chain out.

Costa Rica Day 6 & 7 Summary: Engine Start 06:00, stop 14:40; uw 8 hrs 30 min, 55.6 nm, avg speed 6.56 kt. Average Roll while underway, <5°either way, delta of 10°;

Anchored Bahia Guacamaya in 21 feet water with 80’ of chain out.