20180513 Three Times Fail – Cabo Falso Beats Dauntless Like a Rented Mule
Cabo San Lucas was the most un-Mexican, unpleasant place I’ve been in the beginning of time or at least since I’ve been cruising Dauntless for the last 7 years.
It was expensive, literally, 3x to 10x more expensive than anyplace else I’d been in Mexico. The epitome of a tourist trap; I thought I was in Southern California.
Unexpectedly, Ensenada, being much closer to California, was truly charming. I could have been stuck there for months and been happy, conversely, being stuck in Cabo waiting for weather for 10 days felt like a year!
So, this video shows me attempting to leave Cabo just days after my arrival. I was now alone again; Larry was going to meet in the next week and I was hoping to be in Ensenada by then. Once making the right turn to the west at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula, one heads due west to get around Cabo Falso, before turning northwest and then north to get up the coast. The winds are typically strong and right on the nose 15 to 35 knots. 15 is not pleasant, but is tolerable, high teems quickly becomes untenable for any length of time. Even under the best conditions, I would have a few hours of the strongest winds.
Sorry I don’t have more video of the worst moments, but when I’m being thrown around the pilot house, my last thoughts are on making videos.
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Getting or not getting “seasick” is a subject I have been meaning to write about for quite awhile now. I had partially addressed it in the excerpt below which I published two years ago. But I never made the follow-up post of my reflections on the subject and conclusions after the three month and 5,000-mile passage from North Africa to the Panama Canal. A video I made on our nice Christmas Day
That’s 5,000 miles in strong, 18 to 36 knot winds produced by the northeasterly trade winds. While these winds are called the NE Trades, because that is their long-term direction, the actually winds on this passage were NE through SE, with three distinct swells from those directions with differing amplitudes and periods. This produced 8 to 16-foot seas with relatively short periods of 6 to 8 seconds from the NE thru the SE. Not the most pleasant conditions, even for a boat like Dauntless that loves following seas. In fact, this was the most difficult conditions with following seas we’ve ever encountered.
Some of the worst conditions possible if one is prone to seasickness, with the boat corkscrewing its way across the Atlantic at 7 knots. I expected that as I got my sea legs, sea sickness would be just a bad memory. But no, in fact, it was to the contrary. It got me to wondering what was really going on.
Stress builds and crossing an ocean is stressful in the best of conditions. For one, my insurance does not cover me past 200 miles off-shore. So, abandoning ship is not an option. For another, with a three-week passage, you are asking every component to work 24/7 for that time period and if something does go wrong, how to minimize the damage. Therefore, it’s a constant weighing of risks, rewards. E.g. Can I fix this problem with the engine running or do I increase the chances of something else going wrong by turning off the engine?
This is what I had written two years ago, just days after leaving Morocco for the Canaries at the very start of my second Atlantic Passage:
Morocco to the Canaries
Four days on the North Atlantic, 600 nm, four days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, what could go wrong?
For one, we found the weak link on this Krogen, it’s me.
In my first year of cruising, I would get sea sick maybe a quarter of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like three-quarters of the time.
What’s changed? Who knows? I’m older, but usually one’s body becomes more adapted. No, I think the problem is in my brain.
When conditions are rough, I know to take a remedy or put on the Scopolamine transdermal patch. I’ve been using the patch for more than 3 years, now all of a sudden, the patch gives me a bad rash, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night before departure.
With nice cruising conditions, or I should say, relatively nice, with winds and seas less than 15 knots and 3 feet (1m), respectively, I never had to worry, now, if the slightest unexpected event happens, I get seasick.
This last episode was one of the worst I’ve ever had. But I’m not 100% sure it’s “seasickness”. It’s more like my body gets a whole load of adrenaline and then when crisis is over, my body doesn’t know what to do.
We were heading 240 degrees, with Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots, producing seas from the south of 4 to 8 feet.
The paravanes work most effectively with seas on the beam, so our ride was actually not so bad with a gentle rolling of 8 degrees to the lee side and 4 degrees to the windward side.
On the 3rd day out of Morocco, I was in the galley filling my water bottle, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravane bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken.
I purposely take my time and want to remain calm. I finish filling my water bottle. I go to stop the boat, neutral, idle, then up to the fly bridge to retrieve the pole and the broken bird.
Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much less. So, there was no big crisis.
The two spare birds are stored in the lazerette. The one that broke had been repaired in Ireland, as it had previously broken crossing the North Sea. So, I wasn’t too worried as to the cause. We had two spares in the lazzerette. The one on the starboard side was easier to reach, but as we tried to get it out, the fin of the bird became lodged under the generator exhaust hose. And the more stuck it became; the more stressed I became. I didn’t like the idea of leaving it as it, with its metal fin pressed against the exhaust hose and the wooden bird, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston. But after 10 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, unloaded the port side of the lazzerette and got the other bird that was stored on the other side of the lazerette.
It took just another minute to replace the broken one and we were underway again, finally 20 minutes later, having spent most of that time, trying to get the one bird out.
Underway again, all was OK, but I was feeling very strange. Very strange.
I went to change my clothes, as I was very hot, sweaty and covered in anti-corrosion oil I had sprayed liberally in the lazzerette before leaving.
But after changing my clothes, I felt worse; like overheating badly, I figured a shower would help.
I shower, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t even dry myself off. It was a bizarre feeling. I wasn’t able to stand up or move. I dragged myself to bed and lay on top.
I figure I just need a little rest, but had wanted to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK before we get underway again. So, after a few minutes, getting more stressed because I knew Micah and Dauntless were waiting for me, as I go to put on my shirt, I became violently ill. First time that’s happened in years, even though, I get sea sick a lot and have that miserable nauseous feeling, I don’t throw up. This time I did.
I finally understood that I can do nothing but lay on top of my bed naked. I couldn’t even dry myself off. I use what little strength I have to tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and to get underway.
I stayed on top of the bed and went to sleep.
Three hours later, I am up and OK. Like it never happened.
After I posted the above, my friend Dan added this comment:
“I have read of at least one person who has spent decades at sea who get sea sick every time they set to sea for three days or so. They, like so many, take a while to get their sea legs, and then they are just fine. What was interesting about this person is that they ONLY get sea sick when they are captain. If they are crewing on a boat, they don’t get sea sick at all. Their guess was that the stress of being captain was what caused the sea sickness.”
By the time we arrived in the Caribbean, I’d had two more stressful incidents and very similar physical reactions. Not only that, but suddenly, my skin was very allergic to the adhesive on this particular batch of Trans-dermal patches. So, I couldn’t wear it anymore and I’m left with these two quarter sized areas behind by ears of no pigmentation. No Michael Jackson jokes please.
I had also started to see a pattern. On Christmas Day, it was one of the calmest of the trip, with seas not more than 8 feet and winds in the mid to high teens. We saw whales that day and had a couple cruise with us for about 15 minutes. They were 30 to 40 feet in length and swam underwater next to the paravane bird.
Christmas being more important to my nephew Micah than myself, I wanted to make a special dinner, so I BBQed the last of four delicious Canary Island Tee Bone Steaks. The best ever.
As soon as I had served our dinner, I had that feeling of “seasickness” come over me. A bit of nausea and overall weakness.
Sitting in Martinique in the wonderful marina Le Marin, I had time to reflect on what was really going on. In all my cases of “seasickness”, the motion of the boat was actually less than it had been over any given period of time. Also, it was clear that I wasn’t sick before a crisis, I wasn’t sick during the crisis, but as soon as the crisis was over, I was sick.
Didn’t really sound like motion sickness to me, but more a reaction to stress.
I’s already stopped using the Transdermal patch and now I decided to not take any more seasickness medicine at all, when we left Martinique for the Panama Canal
I also decided to take a shower every morning before my watch and every night before bed. The shower in the morning seemed to calm me down. I had no idea why, but starting my day at a lower anxiety level seemed to make a significant difference.
From Martinique to San Francisco, a distance of 3,600 miles and 90+ days of cruising, in some of the worst seas I have ever encountered, I’ve taken an anti-nausea medicine only twice.
I now understand that that terrible “seasick” felling was my body adjusting to the lack of adrenaline that the stress had produced and my para-sympathetic system was now getting my body back to normal.
Clearly the shower in the morning or before my watch, makes a significant difference.
And then in the November 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, they did a book review of the book, Never-Home-Alone
And the shower in the morning starts to make sense scientific sense.
Here is the article from the Journal (bolding and underline is mine):
‘Never Home Alone’ Review: The Critters Chez Nous
In trying to rid our homes of insects, fungi and the like, we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Lisa Margonelli reviews “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn.
When Rob Dunn was a young ecologist he rummaged through rainforests in search of biodiversity. More recently he discovered another type of wilderness: In a study of 1,000 houses in the U.S., Mr. Dunn’s team found 80,000 kinds of bacteria and archaea hidden inside—that’s at least 10 times the number of bird and mammal species observed in all of the Americas.
He soon also unearthed in our homes some 40,000 kinds of fungi and hundreds of insects, many yet to be named by entomologists.
“I was ecstatic,” Mr. Dunn writes. “Back in the jungle again, albeit the jungle of everyday life.”
In his fascinating new book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Mr. Dunn brings a scientist’s sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home: In trying to make it “clean,” we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Mr. Dunn is a fine writer, wringing poetry out of the microbial explorations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who spent half the 17th century documenting all the tiny living things around him—in his neighbor’s mouth, in the snow, in cheese rinds and in wasps. Leeuwenhoek “was to become an astronaut of the miniature,” Mr. Dunn tells us, “all alone exploring a realm that was more diverse and elaborate than anyone but him seemed to understand.”
Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson’s guide to cutting-edge research.
Mr. Dunn’s larger purpose is to explain how the ecology of the home has gone awry. Once upon a time, we lived in leaf huts, with interiors that looked a lot like our outdoor environment.
Soon we moved to round houses, then square houses and finally to air-tight apartments in cities.
Now we close our windows, use products that claim to kill 99% of germs and have unknowingly domesticated bedbugs—so they adjust their workdays around ours.
Our homes no longer resemble the garden outside but have a weird human-centered microbial signature that is also found on the International Space Station, and that’s not a good thing.
The problem, according to Mr. Dunn, “is not what is present but instead what is absent. The problem has to do with what happens when we create homes devoid of nearly all biodiversity except that which falls from us and then, for twenty-three hours of the day, we don’t go outside.”
To understand how mundane and occasionally deadly this evolutionary project of ours is, consider the shower head. In many American homes, water is treated with chlorine and chloramine, which kill pathogens but not mycobacteria, a genus that includes the cause of tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, in homes with water drawn from wells, nonharmful microbes flourish, including mycobacteria’s natural competitors.
By wiping out all the other bacteria in chlorinated water, we create environments where troublesome microbes thrive and even evolve.
This has led Mr. Dunn, together with his colleague Noah Fierer, to find that mycobacteria in shower heads can accurately predict instances of mycobacterial infections, as well as the regions where these outbreaks are likely to occur.
And yet mycobacteria are not entirely bad. One species has been found to enhance serotonin production, which can lead to greater happiness and lower stress. Mice exposed to a species of mycobacteria are more likely to remain calm when facing a bigger, more aggressive mouse.
Might this also explain how a morning shower helps us deal with a stressful commute and a bad day on the job?
These twin stories—of scientific discovery right under our noses and the perilous impact of our unwitting genetic engineering—thread through Mr. Dunn’s book.
Cockroaches were once easily lured with glucose baits but have now rapidly evolved to dislike sweet things. Good strategy for the cockroaches, more troubling for us.
“Just as military specialists study the battles of the past to prepare for the future,” Mr. Dunn suggests that “we might consider our battle with the German cockroach in contemplating our own evolutionary future.”
“Never Home Alone” is a prescription for more biodiversity in the home and, more specifically, a plea for more attention to ecology. The more we understand how different creatures interact and influence our immune systems, the healthier we may be. But in the service of getting more people into ecology, Mr. Dunn believes the field needs to deliver tangible products.
He wants to systematically explore the species in our homes to determine which ones could contain useful chemistry. The camel cricket, a previously unnoticed and rarely studied thumb-size little bugger that lives—possibly by the billions—in American basements, has gut bacteria that can break down black liquor, a highly alkaline toxic waste produced by the paper industry.
The thief ant traipsing across your kitchen counter also produces an antibiotic that may eventually be useful against hard-to-fight infections. Personally, what I want to see is a home “makeunder “show dedicated to “rewilding” homes—similar to what you’d see on the Learning Channel, only more anarchic.
A bunch of giggling scientists show up at the door, toss the hand sanitizer, the shower head, the Sheetrock and the fungus-laden air conditioner.
In their place, they hand the homeowner a bar of soap, throw open the windows, install a ball of spiders to fight flies in the basement and start a batch of sourdough—all in the service of re-creating the garden indoors.
No doubt there will be tension in the idea of a wild domicile. Even King Tut, Mr. Dunn notes, was buried with a fly swatter.
Ms. Margonelli is the author, most recently, of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology.” ■
Since my first car days, driving around Mt. Rainier in the middle of the night, I have loved having extra lights on my car, driving lights. No video games, no internet, we didn’t pretend life, we lived life.
Fast forward 40 years and during my first year with Dauntless, I somehow found myself, cruising the ICW at night, a few times too many. Cruising at night in marked channels is so much harder than cruising on the open ocean. There are frequent course changes, by the minute or even necessitating hand steering. I soon found that that the spot light on Dauntless, mounted on top, forward of the pilot house, did little more than light up the foredeck, thus killing whatever night vision I had.
I found it more effective to stand outside, either in the dark or using a handheld LED flashlight. But when cruising alone, it’s difficult to be both outside the pilot house and steer the boat. The solution, a driving light. They also come in very handy when looking for an anchorage or mooring spot, with other small boats, like a dingy, that may not show up on the radar.
My first driving light for Dauntless was a large Hella (made in Germany) that I hung under the bow pulpit. I was worried about the anchor hitting it as it swung into place, but that turned out not to be a problem.
It got all the way to Ireland and on the second day in Ireland, as we were re-positioning the boat, rafting her to a fishing boat by hand power alone, we managed to punch the lens of the light out, with the anchor of the nearby boat. The light still functioned, so I left it.
Lucky for me, because 11 months later, as I was cruising up a very narrow channel in southern Sweden, looking for an appropriate place to anchor after an exhausting day, that light saved my bacon.
The channel of “deep” water was only about 8 feet deep and Dauntless needed almost 5 of those feet. But the channel was only about 40 feet wide and outside the channel was only three feet. I had already hit two rocks while in Finland. This was not the soft mud of the Eastern U.S. or even the southern Baltic, this was the jagged rocks of Scandinavia (similar to Maine, as they are related geologically).
I was terrified. In large part because the channel was marked with non-reflective buoys that were spaced too far apart. In other words, as I passed one buoy, I could not see the next one more than half a mile away. Then I thought to turn on my driving light.
It wasn’t exactly like the sun coming up, but it put enough light down range to pick out the marker buoys. My task became easy and 30 minutes later, I was at the spot on the chart that had deep water off channel, so I could anchor and get some much-needed sleep.
My driving light was not going to last with a broken lens, letting water get into the housing. Earlier in the year, I had discovered that the replacement lens, was almost as much as the entire light, almost $100. In Sweden, more than half the cars have some sort of auxiliary driving lights. Why? Because it’s dark and for Europe there are a lot of big animals, mostly European Moose, (smaller than the North American version) on the road at night.
I found three large lights for $100. Later in Ireland, I got a few more of those Amazon LED fog lights (5” diameter). Link My Amazon Fog lights
Originally, I also had two 4″ fog (diffuse lens) facing forward. But they turned out to be only marginally effective. Also, during the same trip, I had to anchor just off the channel in Northern Ireland. I left the spreader lights on for increased visibility and I turned the forward fog lights down to illuminate the hull (they only consume 4.5 amps/hr). I then realized they illuminated the anchor chain well as I was hauling anchor. So I left that way ever since.
All these lights are made for vehicles and thus are waterproof, but the weak point are the brackets. They are mild steel and rust quickly. So, one of my winter projects was to replace those brackets with stainless steel.
I realized Vietnam does so much in stainless steel. Every household has numerous items made from stainless steel: kitchen racks, shelves, shoe and coat stands, etc. Therefore, this was the place to have it done.
Ideally, aluminum would be better, since the housing of the lights is aluminum, but that’s more expensive and the Vietnam market couldn’t sustain it. For the same reason, the stainless steel is to specification 304, not the more salt-water corrosion resistant, 316.
The language barrier can also be formidable. In my neighborhood, virtually no one speaks English. The stainless shop I found last year did not. But that means the translator, must understand the concepts that are being translated and understand my diagram I drew for the two types of brackets and the frame I wanted made. Trinh was up to the task and two days later, we got a call, saying my brackets were ready.
The frame cost $31, each bracket $3.50.
I’ll be back to Dauntless in mid-March, getting her ready to move north later in the spring and southeast Alaska this summer.
If nothing else, I’ll be able to better see in the dark.
I had a disturbing call recently with a close friend, who lives in Europe. Her husband, one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, is having some significant health issues brought on my work-related stress. I’d seen him a year ago at Christmas and he seemed to be on the mend, but since then took a turn for the worse.
Through it all, his wife and friends are there for him, but his two, now adult (mid, high 20’s) children, are MIA (Missing in Action). Adults in their mid-20’s can get caught up in their own lives and certainly have their own angsts, but this isn’t that.
These two children have decided that their father is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. The youngest one hasn’t spoken to her father in over two years.
What’s the crime that so unspeakable?
He worked hard, while getting a college decree, to enable him to have higher paying jobs to provide for his wife and two daughters, including putting them thru university.
It seems in our ever more indulgent society, his daughters expected him to be there more for them.
Sorry, I have no idea what that means. I saw my father, late evenings and on the Sundays, he wasn’t still working. While some of those Sundays had a planned trip, with us going someplace to visit friends . Many were spent waiting impatiently for him to finish fixing the car or washing machine or something else of necessity.
But thru it all, I understood that my father showed how much he loved us by how hard he worked. It wasn’t about face time or sitting on his knee. It was about never having to worry about whether we would have something to eat or a place to live. Besides, if he got home earlier in the evening, we’d have to watch something stupid on TV or listen to classical music all night (which is what we did on those Sunday visits, but at least we got out of the City!)
I asked my best friend, who is also European, what he thought of this. He said, he never saw his mother because she was working all the time. But in just those words, I gleaned that he fully understood that all he had now, his business and personal success, was because of his hard working mother.
We of the west, expect things to come to us, whether we work for them or not. It is one of our fundamental problems with education and one of the reasons for our dismal success rate in public schools and colleges. And everyone: students, teachers, administrators and politicians own a piece of that failure.
My Vietnam time is coming to an end in a couple of months. So, I am ever more keenly aware of what’s going on around me. Savoring every moment, every observation, like it will be my last, as it will be soon. Thus, I notice the streets packed at 07:00 until 21:00 every day. What are people doing? Working, going to school, doing those things that they must do to be successful, to be happy, to survive.
Vietnam calls itself communist or socialist, but it is less socialist that any European country or even the USA for that matter. It’s a one-party state, but that’s about it. There is no safety net. Children understand that if they do not work hard in school, they will not get a decent job. Adults understand that it’s work or starve. Simple, maybe harsh, but effective.
That’s one of the things I both appreciate and admire about Asian cultures. They seem to be not so far removed from the basics of life. While we in the west, the USA and Europe, seem to ever more indulge ourselves in a fanciful world in which we do nothing, but want everything. We base our very existence on false stereotypes that never existed in the first place.
But it’s hard to have conversations about real life with our children, when we spend all our time arguing whether it’s a wall or a fence and then make millions suffer to make our nonsensical point.
In my post, How Fresh is Fresh? I wrote about my first trip overseas to Italy. What an eye opener that was. But as I reflect on the different cultures I’ve experienced, I realize my first true culture shock happened in the USA, when I arrived in Seattle in the fall of 1969.
Seattle was not as I had expected.
I spent my first 18 years growing up in the heart of the City, New York, not even Brooklyn, nor the many towns of Queens, let alone the Bronx, but New York (Manhattan, for the uninitiated). Being in the heart of it all, makes one think they know it all and have seen it all. I certainly wouldn’t be the first New Yorker accused of a little hubris, especially coming from the heart of the heart, Greenwich Village. New York is nothing if not multi-cultural, and Greenwich Village was its soul.
In those days, Greenwich Village was the inexpensive refuge for people of all creeds, regions, colors, races, sexual preference and artists. The place for “different” people, my parents settled there because there were few places an inter-racial couple could live peacefully at that time, even in Greater New York and the rent in the West Village for our two-bedroom apartment was only $50 per month. Even communists were welcome, as Alger Hiss rented the top floor apartment in our little four story, four apartment building, when he got out of jail. A very nice man by the way. Our upstairs neighbors were two men, they would be called a couple now-a-days, but in the Greenwich Village of the ‘50’s, labels were neither needed or desired. They were simply two nice mean and neighbors for me. I learned to take people at face value, as I wanted to be taken. My brother and I just knew them as them as the good men who would make pancakes for us occasionally; like uncles, in fact better than my true uncles who I never met until I was 50 years old!
Fast forward to 1969, I found myself in Seattle, having decided pretty much on my own that I was going to the University of Washington (UW). (Which is a tale for another time of independent kids who involve their parents only on the periphery). Once I was accepted to the UW in the spring of ’69, I looked up all the information I could find about Seattle.
I knew its population was about 500,000. New York’s was 8 million, but Manhattan was only 2 million, therefore I figured Seattle is roughly a quarter the size of New York. From that factual conclusion, I made some interesting assumptions.
I figured life in Seattle would be like living in New York, if I never went north of 57th street or left the City (any place out of Manhattan). Therefore, I’d be giving up my occasional trips to the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island and going to Mets’ games. But then I figured one has to make some sacrifices to be able to attend a university.
My one quarter the size assumption, implied the quantity of everything I was used to: shops, movie theaters, buses, stores, delicatessens, etc., would be reduced to 25%. So, instead of having a choice of 20 delicatessens, I’d have a choice of 5. No problem I thought, nor did I think quality would be reduced to levels last seen on the Oregon trail in a Conestoga wagon.
Now, the UW knew the out of state kids would have some adjusting to do, so they had come a week earlier. Thus, I bonded with the other out of state kids in the dormitory and one in particular who was from Long Island. He wasn’t even from the City, yet even he could tell something was amiss here.
Bad food, bad coffee, bad everything; not even one delicatessen and the buses stop running at 11 p.m. The bagels that were sold in Safeway appeared to have been made months earlier by people who had never eaten a bagel but had once seen a picture of one (meaning it was round).
Who knew people lived like this? This chubby high school kid lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks.
In the early days, still thinking that civilization would return as I knew it, I’d ask for those things common to New York. In the summer everyone drinks ice coffee. But not in Seattle in 1969, when I asked for an iced coffee, the waitress had no idea what I was talking about. Somehow, the culture of strong coffee mixed with ice in the summer time never made it past Chicago (If it even got that far).
Another time, when asked how I liked my coffee, I replied, with that New York classic, “regular”, meaning with milk and sugar. They gave it to me black, well not really black, as I could see the spoon at the bottom of the cup. The coffee was an undrinkable, light brown concoction, of hot water and coffee flavor.
I survived, but it was my first eye opener, that when one leaves home (however large or small that “home” may be), one has to leave assumptions behind. Nothing was basic, even the telephone operator for my monthly collect call home, usually misunderstood my telephone prefix “Oregon” for “Argon”.
While I consider myself a life-long learner, I never said I was a fast learner. But as life went on, I learned to dump more and more assumptions so that I’d arrive at my new home naked with eyes open. From there one can make the case that there are no true assumptions. Assumptions by definition are conclusions based on spotty data. Good luck with that.
In the next two decades, I found myself in many varied places: Alaska, Colorado, Southern California, Italy and Germany, even the Arctic Ice Cap for half a year. Assumptions melted like a popsicle on a hot summer day. One of the aspects of European life that I like so much is the absence of urban sprawl. In some places more than others, particularity so in Germany.
I ended up living in Germany twice, in small German towns, around 2,000 inhabitants. One day while trying to follow a conversation with my neighbor’s daughter and her boyfriend, who was from the next town up the road about 5 km away, I realized he was speaking in a dialect that was even different than the Rhineland Pfalz dialect I was accustomed to and could reasonably decipher. I asked why his speech was so different. Then I learned that was because his town, which I drove thru twice a day, was a “Catholic town”, as opposed to the Lutheran town I was living in.
And because of this difference, there was much less interaction with this neighboring town, than with other towns.
Well, seemingly everyone but me. To this day, I have no idea if this pattern of towns based on region was a regional thing, a local thing, a national thing, or anything at all, (certainly local people have their own biases, which you must be aware of), but I do know never to make any assumptions about anything.
During that same stint, I met a German meteorologist, who was from Northern Germany, but was now teaching meteorology to pilots in Bavaria (southeastern Germany). We met for work, became friends and I visited him often. He told me that when he moved from the north some years earlier, no one would sell him a house simply because he was not local. He began making weather forecasts for the local farmers and after a few years they did accept him enough so that he was able to buy a house.
My take-away from this, just like the different town thing, was that the label “German”, as most labels, is not helpful in understanding personal interactions that take place on an everyday basis on a small scale.
I thought an of interesting way to look at these differences in macro and micro cultures using numbers.
Think of a number line from zero to 10, we’ll call it the Homogenous population. If we have a population of 1000 evenly spaced between zero and 10, every number is 0.01 or 1/100th apart in absolute numbers. Now, take a different population of numbers, this time from zero to 10,000, which we’ll call the Heterogenous population. Divide by 1,000 again, and every number is now 10 units apart in absolute numbers. Therefore, to the Heterogenous population, the Homogenous population seems much closer in value in absolute terms, and the Small population looks at the big population and sees far more diversity, since the range is not zero to 10, but zero to 10,000.
But looking at both populations from within, on a relative scale, Homogenous sees a difference of 0.01/10 =0.001; while Heterogenous sees the same result, 10/10,000=0.001. Therefore, even in populations that seem homogeneous to an outsider, to those inside the population the perceived differences are just as great as in a population that is viewed as heterogeneous.
My point is that perceived differences are in the eye of the beholder and that the differences one sees are as great to the Homogenous group as to the Heterogeneous group.
We cannot make the false assumption that populations that seem homogeneous to us, like Germans or Koreans or Italians or Chinese or Vietnamese or anyone for that matter, are in fact, homogenous, because for them, inside that population, they see diversity that we are not trained to see.
Or let’s put it even another way.
I believe that Queens County is the most diverse county in the USA based on the number of different languages spoken at home based on the last census.
So, if I am having a coffee in Queens, let’s say the neighborhood of Astoria, it’s likely that at a nearby table there sits: a Bengali, a Greek, an African-American and a Korean. While they may all speak different languages at home, may be both female and male and of different religions, creeds and colors, they will all know what a “Regular” coffee is.
Many of you know my fascination and appreciation for Northeast Asia cultures, in particular Korean. My first visit to Asia was 20 years ago, visiting Korean Airlines in Seoul, for a business-related trip. I found the South Koreans a marvel to work with and I ended up finalizing a NOTAMs product for them.
Twenty years earlier every stereotype I held about Europe and Italy in particular, was dashed on the bus ride across Milan from one airport to another. How could the New York Times have been so wrong? Thus, I was a bit better prepared for my first trip to Korea. I’d even read a book, “Culture Shock Korea”, which turned out to be very good for that trip and started a long-term relationship with the people and the country for me.
I’m embarrassed to admit now, that before that, I had lumped the cultures of Northeast Asian: China, Korea and Japan, pretty much together. Hard to imagine that, when 10 years later, I even had a Korean language program in my 100% Black and Hispanic school in the Bronx.
Fast forward to the present. For my first foray into Southeast Asia, I knew to leave everything I thought I knew at the door. I read a number of books this time. I was helped with my correspondence with Trinh. It was obvious even then that it was a whole new world.
Vietnam seems like I guess Korea was back in the 1980’s, maybe how Italy was in the 50’s. Countries pulling themselves up by their bootstraps with a population that was dedicated to hard work and sacrifice. I have also learned that in spite of the convenient geographical reference of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is really culturally and linguistically closer to Northeast Asia: China, Korea and Japan.
In my first weeks here, as I became more accustomed to the heat, humidity and motorbikes, I started to see far more similarities to Korea than I would have guessed before. Initially, all I saw were differences, but within weeks, I realized it more like 90% similar, 10% different.
One of the big differences is the culture of the motorbike. They are popular here because of cost and they work because the climate is warm enough year around.
It took me a while to get my head around the system. At first it seems like no system, but anyone who has driven a motorcycle knows, mistakes hurt. You don’t have two tons of steel around you to protect yourself from your own stupidity.
At the simplest level, the rule is don’t hit anything you can see. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. What amazes me is the total lack of any road rage or even emotion. It’s just a very cooperative system. I’ve been on a road that is already narrow, with motorbikes reduced to one line to get around some obstruction and someone is that line will get a cell call and just stop. Now everyone must also get around them, but there are no words, not even any looks.
I’ve always thought that NYC is a cooperative place to drive. Drivers int eh middle lane, will move left and make room for the car in the right lane, if they see the right lane is blocked. Most other places that doesn’t happen.
So, I’ve have finally gotten my GoPro going and will upload the videos I make to my smug mug site sooner rather than later. The other good news is that I have many Videos made on Dauntless also that never saw the light of day because they were inverted. I finally was able to fix that.
I would appreciate any suggestions (please email me) on the best way going forward to post my action videos. You Tube Channel??
This is a static video showing the intersection by my cafe.
Since I’ve been back in HCMC, I don’t even do the little I have to do.
What do I really have to do?
I’d like to get my electronic Dauntless logs up to date. I’ve been stalled in August 2017 for the longest time. I need to re-organize my hard drive on my laptop, so I only have one current directory that I keep backed up, with other files, music and pictures, stored on my external drives.
Not exactly the most onerous tasks. So, why aren’t they getting done?
Fundamentally, I think I’m simply too much of an extravert to sit home and be productive. I’m writhing this post now, while sitting in one of my two favorite cafes, in this case, Coffee Bui Van Ngo, about an 8-minute drive on the motorbike from my house.
I’m enjoying a yogurt with ice and orange juice. Usually I get it blended but decided to get wild today and try it this way. I’d already had my coffee at home. Vietnam is one of the few places where I find almost anyplace, I go the coffee is as good as I make at home.
In fact, New Yorkers would feel this is the one place they would feel at home in regard to coffee. The normal coffee is very strong, with milk and sugar; what New Yorker’s call “regular”.
I was 19 years old, driving across the country for the first time with my first car returning to the University of Washington for my second year.
I stopped late in the evening in Montana, just south of Missoula, to get a cup of coffee since I was planning on driving thru the night, on my way to Kennewick, Washington. When I asked for a coffee to go, I was asked how I wanted it and I told her “regular”. She gave me a funny look, but minutes later my coffee in a container and bag arrived and I was on my way. Always pressed for time, I got underway before trying it down the road.
Black and bitter. Ugh.
That’s how I discovered that not everyone drank “regular” coffee.
That got added to the list of Things Aren’t Like This in NY. Already on the list was the shocking discovery that the buses stopped running in Seattle at 11:00 p.m. 10 years later, I discovered it was the same in London, as we found ourselves with scores of others trying to find a taxi.
How anyplace that calls itself a major city has a transportation system that goes to sleep makes one understand why people like cars so much.
But today, no tilting at windmills, the Vietnamese coffee is rich, strong and creamy. Perfect over ice, as most Vietnamese have it. The ice dilutes it to a perfect state, still very strong .
So, getting out of the house seems to give me purpose.
Being around people is part of that process.
Though, on Dauntless, I do get restive, but there is always something physical for me to do, which I really enjoy. In a perfect world, Dauntless would be a not too far drive away. Much like when she was in providence , Rhode Island. Living in upper Manhattan, I could drive to Dauntless in about 4 hours. Stay a few days, get some work done and return home for the long weekend.
Even now, If I was anyplace in the States, I’d consider flying to her in Vallejo, staying 5 or 6 days, then home again. Round trip plane tickets can be had for around $300. I’d do that.
But a trans-Pacific flight is a horse of a different color. 15 hours from the west coast to Northeast Asia for a connecting flight of 4 to 6 hours to Saigon. Sometimes it ends up being two red-eyes. One is bad enough.
I’ll just have to be more disciplined and get out more.
During the last week on Dauntless, getting her ready for the winter without me, tears all around, I realized how sweet it was to work under a roof.
I loved it so much, I changed my project priorities a bit. I figured it made the most sense to do those things that are difficult to do under normal circumstances. It is such a pleasure to sit on the fly bridge, out of the hot blazing sun or the cold wet rain. With the mast down, I didn’t have to wrap one arm around the mast and hold on for dear life. Under such ideal conditions, I realized I had to get all the things done I had been contemplating for years.
Four years ago, getting Dauntless ready for her first ocean crossing, I took what was given. Unlike the Lexan storm windows which were done in the last hours, the Maretron system and instruments on the mast were completed with days to spare.
One thing that has sunk into my dense brain is if I don’t have a clue as to what I am doing, then at least do the simple solutions instead of making complicated ones. To that end, I mounted the Maretron instruments on an existing antenna arch that extended forward and was above the radar.
It was the simplest solution and worked well enough for four years, but now, I wanted to make it better. I have felt that the weather instrument that measures all the normal weather parameters, including wind speed and direction, is not in a clear air stream with winds from the stern. As you know, this Kadey Krogen loves following winds and seas, therefore if the data is being affected under such conditions, it’s not ideal.
The other issue that is also related to stern winds is that every once in a while, lines related to the paravanes, get enough slack that over time, being blown forward, like 21 days in following winds and seas, that they were easily snagged on those weather instruments or the bracket itself. In the first years, more than once, after deploying the paravanes, I discovered that the weather instrument arch was carrying the weight of the paravanes. Not good. (Though it does confirm the forces on the paravane system are as expected).
Just too many times, that antenna arch has been seconds from disaster. Time to get rid of it. The Maretron cable that runs inside the mast must also be replaced. So, the Maretron WSO and GPS will be mounted on the spreaders. In addition, I will mount my Wi-Fi extender antenna and I hope to also move my current AIS antenna to the spreader. Currently it’s mounted on the cowling of the fly bridge near the helm. It’s too low. Many times, it will not see big ships until 5 or 6 miles away. At the Dauntless speed of 6 knots and big ships possible speed of 20 knots, that still gives me more than a 10-minute warning, but that antenna should be maximized just on principal.
I also need to remount the two Chinese LED spreader lights. The lights themselves, bought 5 years ago on Amazon for $20 each, have been great, but the mounting hardware is mild steel that rusts badly. I have a way to mount them directly to the spreaders, without the steel hardware. Since I am doing that, I will also change the electrics a bit and add an electrical circuit to power a LED stripe that I will also mount on the mast.
Now, your thinking, while I have eliminated one protuberance, I have made the spreaders much more complicated. That’s true. But I have a plan.
I will also add a 1/16th Amsteel line from the top of the mast to the end of each spreader, then forward to the front of the radar arch. Looking aft from the bow, this will look like a triangle. Looking from either side, this will look almost like an obtuse triangle.
Now, I have not added this yet. This will happen in March when I return to Dauntless, but in my mind’s eye, I see this little line as making it much more difficult for a loop of any line to become snagged around the spreaders, radar arch or the mast itself.
It’s 20:30 hours. I had a glorious day in all aspects. The weather could not have been better, 72°, light breeze. Dauntless is under the roof, no problems with sun or rain. Of the two projects I started out this morning to get done: one’s done and the other two are almost done.
But this evening, I felt a disquiet. My project list is not even a quarter done and I’m leaving for the winter in 5 days.
Then I realized it’s not about progress on the projects, days left, or anything else. It’s that I’m alone.
But even that is not so simple. In fact, my happy meter is well above my “normal”. Boat wise, relationship wise, career wise, pretty much everything, I’m quite happy about. So why the grumpy face and thoughts?
I’m not feeling lonely; but something is still missing.
Then it occurred to me. My entire life, from as early as I can remember, has been about teamwork. Working with others to a common purpose.
I can’t even begin to tell you the times I sacrificed personal accolades for the sake of the team.
All my successes in life can be attributed to building and nourishing successful teams.
Even when I started my teaching career, I did not become a successful classroom teacher until I realized that I needed to make the students in each class understand that they were a team and needed to help each other for their own learning, not for me.
As a high school principal, it was harder, because professionals in education have never been taught anything about teamwork, but the successes we had were all because the entire staff was working together for the good of our students. Sure, there were a few bad apples, but despite them, we got a lot of kids to college and success that would not have happened otherwise.
Then, I look at the other side. Even though I was quite successful selling cars, I hated it. The General Manager at a very successful dealership once made the comment to all in our sales meeting that, “Bost, probably tells everyone that he is a lawyer” I wondered how he knew, though I didn’t pick lawyer, I just never told anyone I sold cars.
While I was successful there, I was a duck out of the water.
With my project list for Dauntless, the list would feel less daunting if my teammate was here. Teammates don’t let you get overwhelmed with small stuff and they convince you the big stuff isn’t so big.
Even better, teammates give you that Cesar Milan nudge or click, that gets you off the obsession and back on track.
That’s what I miss. Otherwise it’s too easy to go around in circles or become obsessed about the unimportant.
In teaching, once I realized that I had to convince the students that they are a learning team. One time, I noticed one of my special colored pencils was missing from my grade book, that was open on the first row of desks. I used color codes for different types of work. I was irritated about it and started complaining to the class about my missing pencil.
In a New York minute, which in this case was probably 30 seconds, one of the students calls out, “OK, we get it Mr. Bost, now can we move on”
I snapped out of it. It was the nudge I needed.
(A couple of days later, in walking around a different class, I saw my pencil in front of one of my problematic students. Without a word and I just took it back. Months later I finally got that student to start working and she passed with a 72 out of 100 on the NY State Regents. She worked hard, finally. How we got there, is another story, I’ll save for the book).
And I wouldn’t have spent 3 hours on the Maretron power problem without checking the fuse from the very beginning.
Oh Richard, since you know the circuit had power until you shorted it, why don’t you check that fuse once again?
Oh yeah, that’s probably better than spending the next three hours on this connector!
For a little, non-electronic boat, I sure love my Maretron data. I have 9 modules:
two to communicate with everything else, (USB, IPG) and the N2K Viewer
two for the fresh water tanks, (TLM),
one solid state compass, (SSC),
one GPS, (GPS),
one depth sounder with paddle wheel and lastly, (DST),
the love of my life, my (WSO), the weather instrument.
The solid sate compass seems to work better with my ComNav autopilot. In addition, it gives me the roll and pitch data I often quote in my blog.
The weather instrument is also solid state with ultrasonic wind measurement. Considering I installed the system myself over 4 years and 20,000 miles ago, I’ve had few problems.
Coming west across the Atlantic, the constant winds behind us and to the side, from 15 to 35 knots for 528 hours or 22 days (No, I didn’t stop to change the oil) took a toll on my connections on the mast. Everything still worked, but occasionally, if a line got caught it would put enough strain to disrupt the connection until I freed it.
So, one of my projects now is to redo all the connections in the system. I also now slather everything in dielectric grease. So much so, that I almost put it on my pancakes the other morning.
So, the day started out so very well. Sitting on deck, with the mast down, Dauntless under a roof, protecting us from the elements and sun, I thought about climbing up the mast in Cabo San Lucas, in hot, 95° sun, holding on the mast with one hand, while trying to tighten the 5 little wires inside the plug just under the WSO.
I was in hog heaven. I carefully tool the plug apart, unattached the 5 little wires, and recut them all and trimmed them. Now, I knew power was still on the system. Before I started any of this, I wanted to make sure that it was only the WSO that was incommunicado. So, just as I was thinking that I would have to be careful in cutting the positive power line, meaning not to cut it with the ground wire at the SAME time; I did exactly that. The little spark, showed me that I’d f..ed up.
Sure enough, when I go below to check, now the whole Maretron system has no data.
Had I shorted out something serious? Was there a fuse in the system? If so, where was it?? Who the hell installed this system?? Oh, it was me!
Let me check the computer cabinet. Open cabinet and what do I see, the fuse block that I put in 4 years ago and even nicely labeled at that.
It went downhill from there.
To check the fuses, I had to pull them, to do that I needed to power down the whole system. That done, I pulled each fuse and looked at it very carefully. Very carefully (for those of you who already know the answer, don’t spoil it for your dear ones who are also reading this).
They all looked good. I powered the system back up. That takes a few minutes because the modem and router have to be booted up before the computer otherwise everyone gets confused.
At this point, I noticed that the little light for the Maretron circuit was not lit on the router until I turned on the computer. I hadn’t noticed that before. (and in the future, I will explain that issue).
No change. I went back to the fly bridge. One of dozens of trips I would make over the next couple of hours. I figured I had screwed up the wiring of the plug. I took it all apart again. I convinced myself that possibly the ground shield covering was touching one of the data lines. I put it all back together again, rebooted the entire system and alas. No joy.
At this point, I’d spent an hour on this. I pulled the fuses again. They still looked good. I even held them up to the light. But finally, just to be sure, I changed the 5-amp fuse that powered the Maretron system. Surely now, it would work.
Still No Joy. Now, more than ever I was convinced it was the plug. The plug was the only thing I had worked on.
Back to the flybridge. Took plug apart again. Put it back together again. Rinse and repeat.
I got my electric meter out (finally you think), check the plug for the umpteenth time. No power.
I go online and check the Maretron site. It tells me I should see 60 and 120 ohms between certain lines. I see exactly that. But still no power. I must have shorted something else out. Where did I install the power tap?
Oh, I remembered where the power tap was because it’s in the port side pilot house wire race that is so full of wires I have trouble getting the teak panel back in place.
Other than no power, the continuity on the plug and lines tested correctly.
I’ve been working on this for three hours now. I return to the computer and fuse block.
I finally decide to test for power in the fuse block. Umm, the Maretron circuit has no power here.
I pull that fuse and check it. No circuit. I check the old fuse I had pulled out, no circuit.
I got fuse number three and checked it, a circuit.
I stick it in and low and behold, power.
Two hours earlier I had replaced a bad fuse with another bad fuse. Both fuses showed no sign that they were open. Both had very clear “Z” wire that wasn’t broken.
I was looking forward to this project, as I like working on the electrical things and I just wanted to also tidy up the wires and the things I’d done over the last couple of years.
I needed to put new female spade connectors on the gauges and switches in the forward head. I also needed to replace the little bilge pump and replace the float switch for the big Rule 200 bilge pump in the forward bilge.
So, I get my two trays of electric connectors, with hundreds of pieces and what do I find: hundreds of males and a half dozen females. Sociologists warn of impending disaster when the male to female numbers reach 52% to 48% respectively in society. Because those single males unable to find mates wreak havoc on the society.
All those rogue elephants in Africa, male. Nuff said.
Female spade connectors are needed to connect a wire to the switch or instrument. I need about a dozen just for the forward head. The current connections are all corroded considerably. I know why, but don’t think I’ll mention it, other than to say, my not wanting to throw anything away can be dangerous.
Amazon will deliver the females on Tuesday.
So, I could tackle the paravane bird holders. I’ve tried various things in the last 4 years. Some have been a bit more effective than others, but in the last weeks I’ve gotten tired of stepping over them on the side deck. With the paravane pole taken down, there is not way to secure them.
In normal use, even if I think I won’t need the paravane stabilizers, I will deploy the poles only. This allows me to deploy the birds without having to go the flybridge again. So, I need a method to secure them, with or without the poles in place.
This has been an ongoing issue. Each half-assed system I make, breaks sooner rather than later.
My solution is very simple, net and won’t get in the way, in the narrow deck space. I must say, that I think my time in Vietnam has enabled me to see simpler solutions. The Vietnamese make do with whatever they have, which is fractions of what we Americans are accustomed to.
It’s a thrifty culture and probably what I need in my reduced earning years.
To that end, I have also really tried to limit my going out for dinner. Thus, my chicken and brussels sprouts for dinner today. Very good.
There are those who have few parts, but they are well organized and whenever they need something, they always have just what they need. Best of all, they have very few extra pieces, everything being stored in a few 2-liter containers.
Then, there is the boater who every marine store, big box store and Amazon loves. They have literally hundreds if not thousands of parts: plumbing connectors, electrical wires of all sizes, butt connectors, spade connectors, every connector under the sun; except for the one they need.
I’m in the latter group.
So, my little, very little, dock filter project, took three days and 4 trips to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Ace hardware. Why, you wonder with the plethora of things I already have on board?
Well, it’s like this. I have 100 feet of ½” clear braided nylon tubing. I also have about 25 feet of 3/8” of the same, as well as 50’ of 1 inch. The water filter I bought used ¾” fittings. I didn’t want to use ½ inch. I also needed ¾” NPT to Hose thread. I had a nice variety and quaintly of stainless steel ¾” hose barbs to ¾” NPT, and many ½” barbs, but alas no ¾” tubing.
I will spare myself the embarrassment of the Rube Goldberg setup I made first, then second, finally third, but with too many connectors of different sizes, it was difficult to not have a joint leaking.
Finally, I bit the bullet and went back to HD for the umpteenth time and bought a ¾” NPT male/female water heater hose of two feet.
Thus, my dock water household filter was installed in a manner that I’m happy with. Even got a quick disconnect to work that I’ve been carrying around for 4 years. I also took the time to re-organize all my hose and pipe fittings.
Now as you look at the pictures, while it may seem relatively organized, I seem to have soooo many ¾” fittings for who knows what, since I have few ¾” anythings on board.
The dock water filter was certainly not a necessity, as I have gotten along fine without it for these 5 years. But I am on a self-imposed deadline, getting the stuff done that is at best superfluous and at worst a waste of money. For next year, with Trinh here, she’ll ask me how I managed all these years without it, not having a good answer, she’ll tell me to save my money.
I’ve already calculated that I will save $500 per month. I feel richer already.
I did have a much bigger and serious problem, that I have worked around, but had to be fixed.
My Heart Inverter/Charger has not been charging for the last few months. I could tap it and it would wake up and start to charge, but sometimes within minutes, sometimes within hours, it would revert to not charging. So, I knew it was an internal relay problem. But I hate disconnecting it from the 930 amp-hours of batteries.
Also, I could work around it relatively easily, as I have another charger, a Neumar, that charges only, but will work on any voltage, which made the time in Europe very easy. It’s on circuit 1 and as you have read, in this marina, I only am connected to circuit 2. When I left Dauntless in July, I left her connected to circuit 1 and therefore the Neumar was charging. But now, being on the boat, circuit 2 is more convenient. I didn’t want to do another work around like I did for the washer and water heater. I needed the Heart Inverter/Charger to work as it is supposed to.
So, I depowered everything, turned off all external power and disconnected the batteries (at the 300-amp fuse). Open the Inverter case and sprayed a lot of contact cleaner on everything, especially the two sets of points that make up the charger relay.
I also tightened the female spade connections on the circuit breaker for the charger (on the upper right of the picture). They didn’t feel loose, but still, couldn’t hurt and a loose connection like that, while very simple, can cause havoc or worse.
I let it dry for an hour, re-connected everything and powered her up. This time, I didn’t have to tap it and it worked as it should. Battery voltage slowly worked its way up to 14.04 v and stayed there for a while as the amperage came down. But even after 24 hours, voltage was 13.78 v, while the amperage was still about + 4 amps.
49 hours later, the voltage as stabilized around 13.70 and the amps going into the batteries stays a little positive, even if it is only +0.4 amps.
Very happy. Now, when I leave the boat this winter, I will leave it on that inverter charger.
I also ate some great Korean food this past weekend, as I had a great day in San Jose with some wonderful Korean friends.
And I did go to Costco, since my 3000 feet of plastic wrap which as lasted me 5 years ran out yesterday. While at Costco I bought romaine lettuce, Brussel’s spouts and rack of lamb.
Coming up next, a hundred males, only a few females; nothing good can come from that.