Still Plugging Away in Vallejo, But a New Tale of Adventure and Woe on the High Seas

My fresh water replumbing job was 75% done yesterday, today it’s 50% and even that took a couple of hours. Suffice to say that the floor of closet now looks like Charlie Kruger took to it with a chain saw. No pictures, since many who read this are carpenters or at last know how to work wood and the pictures are not fit for a mature audience.

My beloved grill already for another 5 years

But it does bring back some painful memories. My first wife had asked me many, many times to repaint some chairs we had. Finally, I did. I laid the yellow paint on nice and thick, so the old color would not show through. I was pleased, though they took days to dry. Finally, I presented my masterpieces and she asked me about those drip marks. What drip marks? They weren’t there when I put them to dry. I hope she’s not reading this and cringing.

I stuck to things mechanical and electrical after that.

Who looks at the bottom of the closet anyway?

I have finished some small things though. I replaced both burners and the electric igniter  on my Weber Q300 grill. That grill has spent 5 years on the ocean. I’ve been quite pleased with it.

I also installed the new thermostat in my Raritan water heater. I did notice in my travel this week that both the thermostat and heating element are available at your local Home Depot for roughly half the price. It’s expensive to print the word “marinized” on the box.

The tangle around the prop that was removed today

Last, but not least, I had a diver come by to check my bottom. Well, Dauntless’ bottom. And sure enough, I had a little collection of lines around my prop. I’m so happy. Coming up the California coast, I thought I felt a slightest of vibrations. Almost like a shudder every few seconds. It would not have been noticeable to anyone else and Larry didn’t feel it, but I knew. Even wanting to be wrong about it, I knew. I was worried that I had tweaked the prop. Worse yet I thought I had tweaked it by doing something stupid. Yes, even stupider than the last stupid thing.

We were underway from Ensenada to San Diego, eagerly anticipating the celebration with fireworks and fire boats that was sure to wait us in the old U.S. of A. It had been 4 years after all.

This shows the Maretron Data of Pitch (left) and Roll (right). You can see where I deployed the paravane because the roll was reduced by more than half at about the 28 minutes ago mark. You can see that it also reduced the pitch, but that is not to be expected. It happened this time because of the combination of NW swell and West wind waves as were headed NNW.

The wind was light, 10 knots from the west on our port beam. With the added Pacific swell from the northwest, the boat’s rolling had increased as the day wore on. By early afternoon, the roll was 10° to starboard and about 5° to windward or port. But occasionally the roll increased to 15° & 10°. That’s a difference of 25° and usually is the point where I really notice the roll and so I will put one or both paravane birds out. In this case, I just put the windward bird out. That would dampen the roll about 50% and we only lost 0.4 knots. A good price to pay for a nicer ride.

This picture I took as the boat slowed down, so the bird was back under the water.

Suddenly, close to the USA-Mexico border, the ride of the boat abruptly changed. It became very smooth. I jumped up from the pilot house settee to look at the paravane and see that we had snagged hundreds of feet of line connected to pots, I guessed. I estimated hundreds of feet, since I could see at least 100 feet strung in the air, then to the bird which was well out of the water.

I chopped the power, the boat slowing quickly. But now, the line of the pots was snagged on the bird, but stopped dead in the water, with the pole vertical, we had all the dead weight of whatever that line was attached to.

I got the not so bright idea to go in reverse. Possibly, the line would un-snag itself at that point. It’s worked in the past, but no luck this time.

Larry and I heaved and heaved and got the line up to the bird, at which point, we cut the snagged line away. This line also had several floats on it. Once cut away, the floats and line and floating right next to the hull amidships.

Until now we had done almost everything right. I just needed to be a little patient.  But patience is not a virtue I have been gifted with. I decided to go forward to get away from the floats. Yes, by running over them. Sounds stupid even in the writing. Sure enough, within seconds the line was in the prop. I stopped the motor and cursed at my stupidity.

That done, I put her in reverse, as I have unwound lines that way also. In this case, no and hell no. There came a hellish scream, which I attributed to a float being wound around the prop scrapping the hull.

Wow, as I write this, details came back that I totally forgot about!

I went in the water. I lowered the swim ladder, climbed down the ladder to the lowest rung and stood there, while Larry handed me the boat hook. I was able to snag the line using the boat hook, since it was about 10 feet under the water.

We got that line up to the boat and cut it.

I then backed up again and we were free.

But from then on, I felt this slight shudder. Had I tweaked the prop? I didn’t know until today.

I do have a SALCA cutter anode (model 2000, 2″ diameter) on the shaft, just in front of the prop. I’m sure it has saved me many times and even this time, may have helped. But that pile of lines now on the dock, was wrapped around the prop since San Diego.

In thinking about this incident, I also realize that the paravanes were well designed for incidents like this. I’m sure that is the most force put on that pole and lines since installation. The 3/8” Amsteel Blue line fore guy did its job. To stop the roll suddenly and slow the boat so abruptly, there must have been thousands of pounds of force to the aft on that line. It’s tied off permanently at the bow hawsepipe and cleat. I have it doing 4 turns over the cap rail, with a clove hitch before it’s tied off on a cleat. Thus, the cleat never really sees significant force, even under these circumstances.

Thank you, John Duffy in Miami, for doing such a great job with the paravanes.

I think I’ll have a celebratory drink, since I missed the fireworks and fireboats in San Diego.\

And I’m looking for a decently priced Hookah outfit. I need to be even more self reliant.

 

 

Plugging Away in Vallejo

Having dedicated these days to the three dozen items on my winter to-do checklist, I hardly have time to write this blog. So, I’ll just have to add this to the list.

So, I figured I’d make goal, nice and high,  like 25%.

My salon electrical panel

What? You were expecting 110%?

I’m not one of those super achievers who when they want to paint the engine room, they take everything out, like engine, genny and all that crap glued to the walls.  Eek. Even writing that sends chills down my spine.

I have done a few things on the list. Maybe more than a few. Of course, I had to write a review for the local donut place. Well, not so local, but good donuts are worth the time.

The back of the salon electrical panel. the breaker I had the problem getting the screw back in was near the top of the picture middle column.

This wonderful marina  with covered dock, only supplies me one 30-amp circuit. It quickly became tiresome for me to change the dock plug from one circuit to the other, when I want to turn on the water heater or Splendid washer-dryer. So, in consultation with that Krogen guru, Dave Arnold, who pointed out  a far simpler method to power those items from the circuit that they are not on, from what I had originally devised. I proceeded to put a simple jumper off the breaker in the salon two days ago.

But then today, in a sure sign of mission creep, I decided to idiot proof my little setup.

In normal times, I run either two 30-amp lines to the boat or one 50 amp to a splitter that makes it into two 30’s for the boat. My main charger/inverter is on circuit 2, with most of the primary everyday stuff in the boats like the outlets and salon A/C. On Circuit 1, are the step children: washer dryer, water heater, chargers two and three and forward A/C unit.

So here, the dock power is plugged into circuit 2. In it’s previous life, this Kadey Krogen used to be a heavy 120v user, almost everything except for the navigation lights, radio and radar were household 120v.

Dauntless was going to be a cruising boat, not a dock queen, so from the beginning, my goal was to reduce that 120V dependence. First to go were the Subzero fridge and freezer; then thanks to Amazon, all the lights and/or bulbs were replaced by 12v LEDs. Boat computer, LCD monitors (Samsung 24”, there is at least one particular model that will work on 12v and in fact, works to about 11.5 v) and everything else in the pilot house are 12 votls.

The only 120v items that remain are one salon wall light that also serves as a 120v power tell tale and the older appliances that are not sued that often and thus not efficient to change such as the Raritan water heater, the Splendide washer dryer combo, the two A/C units and the microwave. That’s it.

This is the first time in months, I’ve needed the 120v water heater, as it also uses engine coolant to heat the water. But it’s cold up here and that first night back, taking a cold shower was enough for me to decide I needed a better plan. Replacing the heating element had been on my list of things to do for a while, as measured in years. While in Cabo I realized the water, heater was not working on electrical power. But, since I was seldom stopped long enough for the water to get cold, I didn’t need it until now.

So, the first day back, it was number one project. Of course, I had to get an inch and a half socket, but once that was done, it was all done, and we were good to go

Except we weren’t. Still no hot water.

Get the electric meter, umm should have done this first, only to discover that the problem was the thermostat. Well, that was easily bypassed. Now for the first time in a long time I had electrically heated hot water. I just had to remember to turn off the breaker after an hour or so.

Now I had the problem of having to move the dock plug every time I wanted to make hot water. I don’t like messing with the dock plug. If I’m moving it once a day, that’s a sure way to have some other issues. I needed a better solution.

So, two days ago, I made a jumper from a non-used breaker on circuit 2 to the water heater breaker on circuit 1.

I now had power to the water heater from circuit 2. Life was good.

I always want to make it better though, even if that has often not served me very well. A primary reason I’ve had few careers in my life, especially in Education, where there are too many adults who like the system just the way it is, words and promises notwithstanding.

But obvious solutions are sometimes not as simple as it seems. Thus, today I spent a couple of hours just trying to get one little screw back into the breaker. It was one of those old, straight cut, very short screws that were popular in the 60’s.  I tried grease, even glue, to get it to stay on the tip of the screw driver. I had only taken it out because I wanted to disconnect the line that was there. I knew it was going to an outlet that is not used, but I wanted to make sure that if I had power to both circuits 1 & 2, that I would not be feeding power where it was unexpected.

I just thought it better to remove the second lead from the load side of the breaker. Now, the breaker has only one load, no matter what.  On the picture, it’s the second breaker in the middle column in the lower part.

After doing that, it was easy to also add a jumper for the washer dryer. Those breakers were on the outside column, about a million times easier to access and that only took a few minutes.

My new head water nozzle

My other little projects that were on the list was to add little water nozzles by each toilet.  It’s an eastern Asian thing and virtually every toilet in Vietnam has one, even the toilets that don’t have a commode. I also find it far more practical than a French bidet. Besides cleaning all sorts of things,  it can also be used to fight fires or water fights with mutinous crew!

What more can one ask for?

The Second head water nozzle

Hindsight is Not Always 20-20

Despite my accomplishments this past year, another 2500 miles behind me, the Golden Gate in front of me, the Baja bash, Panama Canal, the Atlantic Ocean, behind me, I wonder if I did not make some big mistake.

Anchored in Finland.

For not the first time, I wondered about my sudden decision to flee northern Europe two years ago. I loved northern Europe. I loved Ireland. I loved the peoples and the cultures.

I lived for 4 years in Germany and still visit relatively often. The Germans certainly have some interesting attributes. Some of which I even like a lot.

In 2015, I was reminded just like 30 years ago, the different personalities the Germans are along the north coast. These are the people who have known “Auslander”, (from an outside land), for thousands of years. They are not the Germans of the much more insular interior, one meets south of Hamburg down to the Alps.

I dwell on this because stupid Google, out of the blue the other day, sends me my pictures of years ago and says, “don’t you want to post these?”

It reminded me yet again of how great the cruising was along the north coast of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and North Seas. The cruising is the best I’ve yet encountered, with thousands of miles of protected skärgärd cruising. With the wind blowing 20+ knots, 100 meters away, you are cruising or anchored with nary a ripple of waves.

Cuxhaven, Germany

All the peoples who inhabit the environs along the coast are sea faring folk. Much like the Celtic culture along the west coast of Europe, from Galicia in NW Spain to Scotland, The North Sea and particularly the Baltic had the Hanseatic League. From Hamburg to Tallinn, they controlled trade and influenced culture from Germany to Russia.

This seafaring culture manifests itself in boat friendly, stranger friendly ways. No matter how small the port, or how many boats are already there, they will find room for you. In the more formal marinas, like Tallinn and Cuxhaven, the American flag was being put up on the yardarm of the marina even as I checked-in. And even check-in itself was a 5-minute process, with reasonable rates, about $0.25 per foot in Holland to $1.00 per foot in Helsinki. Overall average for marina overnights ended up being less than $0.50 a foot for my 4 months in the Baltic and North Seas.

Haapsalu, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia
Robbengat Sluis
Holland
Waterford, Ireland

All these experiences were exactly the opposite in southern Europe, by the way. 30-minute check-ins, filing out endless forms, each time, $1.00 per foot was best price and it went up to $2.00.

I was also reminded with much regret that the $1,000 ten-day stay I had at Cabo San Lucas was the same cost of one year! in Waterford, Ireland. Sure,  Waterford could not boast like Cabo of having only 7 days a year with rain, but I am sure they can boast that they have at least 7 days a year with sun.

So, all these fond memories really made me question my decision of leaving Europe in 2016. Stupid Google also reminded me of my great trip to Galicia to scope out a winter home for Dauntless the following year. Food, people and marina in A Coruna were fantastic. I could stay there for $500 per month year around.  Had I stayed another year as planned, I would still have some options. I could return to the Baltic the following summer or just stay in Northern Spain and Western France. I would have also saved so much money.

Oh Regrets. What would life be without them?

Probably a hell of a lot better!

I acknowledge that 2016 was a traumatic year for me. I  often wonder if unexpected life changes led me to make some hasty, irrevocable decisions? It certainly seems so to me when I think and think and think about it.

It would have been just as easy to fly between Ireland or Spain and Vietnam. I picture myself escaping the heat a humidity of Vietnam for the damp coolness of Atlantic Europe.

One key factor drove my decision to leave for the Pacific, the availability of crew. My Hawaiian nephew wanted to take a year off from school before he went to law school. He thought exploring Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean via Dauntless would be ideal. He spent almost a year with Dauntless and I.

He was indispensable. Not only as a great, hardworking, vigilant crew mate, but also as a smart, interesting companion for the boring passage between Europe and the Panama Canal. I couldn’t have come that distance without him.

Dauntless is in Vallejo, California now. I’ll return to her next week for a month of getting her in ship shape. Next spring, I’ll return and weather permitting get her up to the Pacific Northwest by June, then British Columbia and Southeast Alaska for the summer.

Ending up in one of the wonderful, little towns of Southeast Alaska. Which one, will depend on several factors, Dauntless taking second stage for now.

By next year at this time, my life will take another turn, as I gain both a First and Second Mate on Dauntless. We’ll end up staying in Southeast Alaska only a little longer than originally planned. Visa requirements for my wife-to-be and her son require us to live in the United States, so SE AK is the perfect place to settle down for a while and catch a few fish and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife.

What would have happened had Dauntless still been in Europe now? I would truly have a mess on my hands. Instead of struggling with a 2500 trip, I would be looking at 10,000+ miles. Eek!!

Everything happens for a reason. Two years ago, I had no idea I’d fall in love with the love of my life, yet again (ok, I’ve had a lot of lives). Or that she would be in Vietnam or that I’d spend all my free time with her in Vietnam.  Or that SE Alaska, then so far away, now so close, would be the perfect place for a variety or reasons.

Trinh and I in SaiGon, Vietnam

Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

 

 

The Dauntless Winter Home

CE Chart showing my route from Santa Cruz to Vallejo. Maretron data shows winds, and other environmental parameters

Passing under the Golden Gate, I felt the chapter coming to the end. Like turning the page and seeing only a short paragraph remaining.

As I made my course eastward under the bridge, the winds picked up as forecast to westerly at 20 to 25 knots. I was happy to have just gotten up the coast before the band of strong northwesterly winds had reasserted itself.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

I also knew now that no matter what the winds did, my ride to Vallejo would be relatively smooth and it was. The picture shows the Maretron data with winds as high as 32 knots, but the roll reduced over what it was on the ocean.

After a few hours of motoring up the channel, Fly Wright was there to greet me.

Fly Wright meets us

I had to dock outside my covered slip that first night, as I had to lower the mast and the paravane poles.

With many hands helping, the mast the poles were easy to lower, though I wondered how I managed to do it myself a few times.

We had a great dinner that evening at the Sardine Can, a good restaurant near my slip. The next day, I moved Dauntless to her winter home. She’ll be there, out of the sun and rain until next spring, when we continue our northward trek.

The winds were blowing

This time I remembered to change the oil right away. I also had a long list of items to do before I flew away.

My winter Home Maretron Data shows the summary of the previous two days coming up the coast from Morro Bay.

I’ll be back to her in September to commence a long list of projects that hopefully will be done by spring.

 

 

The Golden Gate

On the 63rd day since getting underway from Huatulco, 2300 hard miles ago, I got up for the last day at 02:00.

The Golden Gate Bridge dead ahead

70 gallons of fuel would be more than enough to get Dauntless the last leg to San Francisco Bay and Vallejo.

Checking the current tables, I had to get to the Golden Gate by 13:00. Then the current would push me the last 40 miles to Vallejo at plus 2 or 3 knots. To make that happen, I had to depart by 03:00, planning 10 hours for that 65 nm.

02:33 Engine start. We (Dauntless and I) were underway at 02:45, with scattered clouds and southerly winds.

I had about an hour of cruising WSW, before I could head NW. After a few hours, just after sunrise, I was able to go on my final course of 340°. The winds stayed southerly at 12 to 16 knots for the rest of the morning. Just enough time for me to get into San Francisco Bay.

Videos I took that morning: 

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

A brown day with wild fire smoke

At noon, 12:00, I was entering the Golden Gate channel. My goal of the last 10 months was in sight.

Leaving Santa Cruz Channel

And it was an impressive sight. To be looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from the Pacific on my own bottom. How many people can say that?

I was proud: of my accomplishments, of my determination to complete these goals, of this Kadey Krogen that was so strongly and safely built.

We could not have come up with a better name, Dauntless, determined, never give up.

First Glimpses

 

All of the pictures  Dauntless moving north from Mexico to California 2018 can be seen here in ascending chronological order. Please note that most pictures have the date and time they were taken in the picture/file name.

All the Dauntless directories are here, Dauntless Pictures

 

With My Heart Still Racing

I still needed to get Dauntless out of this harbor safely.

Leaving Morro Bay at 01:42
Dauntless is near the top of the horseshoe on the CE, C-Map chart. From left to right: Raymarine E-80 radar, probably set at 1/8 mile, Samsung LCD 24″ monitor showing Coastal Explorer C-Map, below, Samsung 12″ tablet showing Navionics chart. .

After a close call, like I just had, it’s easy to relax your guard, but it’s still dark, in a narrow channel lined with boats, piers, infrastructure and even sleeping otters.

For 30 minutes I threaded my way thru the horseshoe shaped channel.

At exactly 02:00 I passed the outer marker and set my course to the northwest. ETA to Santa Cruz marina was 19:00

Video of us leaving Morro Bay:

Error
This video doesn’t exist

I took a few deep breaths, regretting that that I didn’t have a sheep, goat, first born son or even a chicken to sacrifice to Poseidon.  Did a few Hail Mary’s and settled in for the rest of the night?

Windy.com had depicted a very narrow inverted trough moving off the coast during this 36-hour period. What that meant was that now, 02:00, winds were light from the land (the nightly land breeze) but would strengthen rapidly during the early morning hours. Then stay strong, 20+ knots out of the south for the next 24 hours, before the dominant high-pressure system, which had dominated the weather in the eastern Pacific for like forever, or much of the spring and summer so far, would bring back the strong northerly winds.

This meant I had until noon the following day to get thru the Golden Gate. After that, winds would be 20+ from the north.

I kept the rpms up, 1700, boat speed varied between 6.3 to 7.3 knots due to the coastal current. With no current, the speed should have been about 7 to 7.2 knots at 1700 rpms.

Pitch and roll were ok, pitch was a few degrees up and down, roll +5° to-8°, the Krogen had an easy motion. There was a swell from the NW at 4 to 8 feet and wind waves from the SE at 1 to 3 feet.

It felt so good to have the wind behind me. I could open the pilot house door without the fear of the wind grabbing it from my hand. I could stand there and just watch the ocean and the sky. I love the ocean as a fish loves water.

By noon, winds had picked up to 15 knots, still from the SE. I estimated the NW swell now at 8 to 10 feet. (which meant my earlier estimate of 4 to 8’, made in the dark, was probably understated).

Video of us underway at 13:22:

Error
This video doesn’t exist

By 14:00 the winds had increased from the south and were now, 180° at 19 gusts to 25 knots. Pitch and roll had doubled: pitch was +4°/-8° & roll +11°/-11°.  That roll was at a point I would deploy the paravane stabilizers, however in this instance two factors mitigated against it:

  1. It would take a knot off my speed and
  2. I had just passed many fishing boats. I got tired of fishing trawlers buzzing me because they thought I was stealing their fish. In the heavily regulated fishing industry in the USA, it’s not as much of a problem, but I’d just spent 4 years outside the USA.

At 19:00 I entered Santa Cruz harbor.  Was tied up at 19:19.

We did 121 nm, 17 hrs:42 min, at an average speed of 6.84 knots.

I had a nice dinner with my new-found cruising friends, Ralph and Kristen.

By 21:00 I was tucked into bed, with the alarm set for 02:00 and my last day of the 2018 Baja Bash.

The last day of June ended with a whimper.

All’s Well that Ends Well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seconds from Disaster

A long, harrowing day was over. A good night’s sleep erased much of the drama. I was closer and closer to the end of this Baja bash.

07:25 I get up

07:30 I did my morning checks and log entries:

  • Fuel: 3.25” port; 5.5” stbd
  • Batts: Current draw -8 amps, 12.48v, -84 amp-hrs.
  • H2O: 72-gal port, 82 gal stbd, feed stbd
  • Oil: right on the full line
  • ATF: 1 bar down, NC (Since I was still losing ATF, I checked this, normally I don’t)

07:53 Engine start, 6625.88 engine hours; Systems all Go.

07:58 Haul anchor

08:08 Anchor secured.

08:10 Underway to Morro Bay, following the track I came in on.

08:15 Do weather observation: Overcast Stratus Strata cu, Vis 2 miles fog, 1017mb 55° 51° 49° (sea temp) winds 27005

08:42 1700 rpms, 6.8 kts, slow to 1600, 6.4 kts, 1-2 ft swell on bow, larger swell 3-5 ft n bow. Pitch +4°/-4° Roll +6°/-3° benign.

09:25 1600, 6.5 kts, course 293°T, winds 27007 Pitch increased to +8/-8°

10:22 Change course to 016°, 1600 rpms, 6.2 kts, 3.5 nm to Morro Bay entrance. 7 knot winds on beam are producing a lazy roll of +10° (to stbd)/to -05° (to port).

11:30 Enter Morro Bay. Spot my first Sea Otters. Great.  One more thing not to run over besides the ubiquitous paddle board and kayak people.

Sea Otters of Morro Bay

12:03 With a slow, almost idle, 4 kt approach (The minimum speed to have enough way to control boat), I approach the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock. It parallels the coast and there is ample room for me. I make a 180° to port (the direction this KK loves to turn) and am tied to the dock minutes later.

12:05 Docked at MBYC. An easy day, 3:55, 23 nm, 5.9 avg speed.

Arrival track is good. Departure is Garmin.
If you go to Share.Delorme. com/Dauntelss by clicking on the dot it gives you the speed, time and location, but times look converted. Thanks to Google, Garmin or Windows.

Morro Bay turned out to be a delight. Delightful people at the delightful Morro Bay Yacht Club (MBYC). If I was ever in one place long enough to join a yacht club, MBYC would be the kind of place I’d love to join.  Having to wait out the weather for four days turned out nice. Really reasonably priced at $35 per day, it was a pleasure to be there. I felt good and knew that time wise, I’d be good to go if I could leave on the 30th.

Morro Bay Yacht Club hamburger night
Dauntless in front of the MBYC

I watched the winds every day and the forecasts were tracking well. I thought to leave Friday, but the winds were still up and while forecast to go down later in the day, this is a perfect example of when I say, “Don’t leave based on a forecast”. If your waiting for light winds, wait until you see light winds.

Also, MBYC had hamburger night Friday evening or maybe it was cocktail hour. In any case, I vowed to leave early Saturday morning, if winds were light as predicted.

Now the plan was getting down to hours. The anticipated 36-hour weather window showed light winds becoming increasing strong, but from the south as Saturday progressed into Sunday, but by Sunday afternoon, the northerlies would be back with a vengeance, 30+ knots west of the Golden Gate.

Additionally, the trip up San Francisco Bay must be timed for the currents and tides. The currents are as strong as hell’s Gate in NYC. So, I had to back up all my arrivals and departures so that I would arrive at the Golden Gate between 12:00 and 13:00 Sunday July 1st.

To get there at that time, I had to leave Santa Cruz before 03:00. So, if I wanted 5 hours sleep in Santa Cruz and a time to have dinner with some new boat friends who had their boat there, I had to leave MBYC at 01:00 to do the 121-mile trip in 18 hours, getting me to Santa Cruz by 18+1= 19:00

No problem. Just an early evening and get up at 01:00.

this picture was taken just 5 hours before my departure. I was so enamored with the sunset that I really did not look at the situation.
Notice the solar panel array on the port side stern of the sail boat in front of me.

Dauntless was parallel parked between two sailboats. The evening before I had asked about leaving that early, anything I needed to know. Everything seemed routine. I should be able to just push the bow out as I realized the last lines.

Maybe the sailors giving me this advice did not realize that Dauntless was 44,000 pounds? Certainly no one warned me about the current.

01:15 up, Saturday morning dawned with the expected light winds, I was ready to go.

01:20 As I did my routine combined current check and pee, it was obvious that the current was not insignificant.

The next 8 minutes were the most harrowing of the last three months.

It was obvious I couldn’t just undo the lines and push her out away from the dock and SV 15’ in front. Plan A was dead.

The stupid sailboat in front of me has two solar panels out behind his stern. On the first picture of this post, the sunset, the solar panel array is visible on the port side stern of the sail boat in front of me. They are probably 12 to 15 feet from my bow pulpit, which is 5 feet above them. But my hull will impact them before it hits anything else. No fender could protect them. This guy should be on a mooring.

Plan B: I untied all lines, but for the midship cleat. I wrapped it around the dock cleat near the stern, so it would slide thru once I released tension on my side. Meaning the line was secured to the boats stbd midship cleat, then back to the stern cleat on the dock and then I’m holding the bitter end in my hand while on the dock, near the pilot house door. The boat is in neutral at idle. For this to work, my plan is to give the bow a mighty push from the dock, releasing the line while I clamber on board.

With one mighty heave, I was truly seconds from disaster.

Dauntless was not moving out as much as I had hoped. I also was keenly aware that I was risking her leaving without me.

I clambered on board, as dauntless drifted forward crab like, her bow maybe 15 feet from the dock, stern still near the dock. I debated momentarily, for a split second at most, whether to just give her a shot of power, hoping that she would go straight out into the channel.

At 1.5 knots, that about 2 feet per second. In the 6 seconds it took me from release of the line, get on board and into pilot house, Dauntless moved 12 to 15 feet, the bow pulpit was almost over the left side of the sailboat. The stupid solar panels are a few feet from my stbd hull.

It was clear to me in a moment that if I gave it forward power, it would rake the entire starboard side of Dauntless against the stern port quarter of the SV.

I quickly put her in reverse and slightly increased power to 1100. I also had a sailboat behind me. I ran out to the bow, just in time to find off the stupid solar panels as the Kadey Krogen finally started to retreat.

I ran to the side deck to see what kind of room I now had behind me. I need to be tied to the dock I bought myself some more seconds by leaving her at idle in reverse. This gave me enough time to get to the side deck and get a line on the dock cleat. I made it tight and thought about what to do.

I took some needed breaths. I had to be calm now What were my options? It’s almost 1:30 in the morning. No one is getting up soon. On one hand it’s only a schedule, but being alone, makes the schedule even more important. If I didn’t leave now, I would be forced to run overnight. Which then has an impact the following day.

The Golden Gate timing was immutable.

I wanted to leave, but the idea that I start me day be destroying this boat’s solar panels would really fuck up my day.

I tied the boat thru the stern cleat to the dock’s cleat just a couple feet away.

I would try to push the bow out with the stern tied. I wouldn’t do anything else. Engine at idle, transmission neutral.  It was just an experiment to see how far the bow would actually go out. If it went out to 45°, It would probably work.

It went to maybe 20°.

Tied again with a little more slack on the stern line, same results, but now she headed for those f…ing solar panels again like they were a magnet.

I had some seconds to spare this time, but I had to get her in reverse. We were still attached to the stern dock cleat. I had tied it so that while in reverse it did not have enough slack to hit the boat behind me. In other words, while I could watch the bow, I had to make sure when backing not to hit the boat just behind me.

Then I noticed an interesting phenomenon in reverse, attached to the stern cleat, the bow came out.!

That made perfect sense since Dauntless stern always wants to starboard. I need 2° of right rudder to go straight. In reverse, the prop walk is still to the right, to starboard, which is pone of the primary reasons, I always try to dock and tie on the starboard side.

(which in a recently found video has me backing into the slip in Golfito, Costa Rica. Once I figure out how to get it not inverted I will upload)

I checked the line on the dock and boat to make sure they were secure and then gave her more power in reverse. The bow keeps coming out more and more. This would work.

Back to idle, I quickly retied the stern line so that the closed loop was over the forward horn of the cleat. I then ran the line thru the stern hawse pipe forward inside the boat to the midships cleat.

I put the boat in reverse and added some power.

The bow came out further and further. Still in reverse, I sent down to the midships cleat, and took the line in my hand and walked it back to the pilot house door. With the line in my hand, I checked the port side to make sure it was still clear, gave her more power and the bow came well out.

Now, I knew the terrible downside of this plan. If that dock line snagged on something, at best it would slam the boat back to the dock hitting the boat ahead, at worse, I could drip the whole dock up, causing even more mayhem.

And I couldn’t check it. I still had to get the stern out to not hit the sailboat.

When it seemed, the bow would come out no more, I had to force myself to be slow and put her in idle, neutral, forward, power. Probably two to three seconds.

But remember at 2 feet per second forward due to current. In just doing that, reverse to forward, without slamming the damper plate, used half the distance between the two boats.

I stayed right behind the helm. I had to hope the line slipped off cleanly. As the solar panels were about two feet off the pilot house door, I swung the wheel hard right and goosed the power, to kick the stern out. The boat was still crabbing forward, so even with that maneuver, the stern only cleared by a few feet.

But she cleared. I hauled in the stern line quickly and turned on my driving lights to make sure I didn’t run over any sleeping sea otters.

01:28 Underway to Santa Cruz. I thanked every god I knew.

In hindsight, some thoughts:

  • It’s a no-brainer that I should have just swapped positions with one of the two sailboats. Either being in the front or end, would have been leaving no problem. Also, everyone at the YC was so accommodating, it would have been no problem.
  • Not as obvious is how the lack of a functional bow thruster affected this. It’s been three plus years now since by bow thruster stopped working. At least two times, we thought it was fixed, only to discover it wasn’t. But clearly, it hasn’t been a priority. Why?
    • Before it stopped working, there were two memorable times when I needed it, but winds and currents overwhelmed it. Thus, it has seemed better to just learn to live without than to depend on something that may not work as well as hoped in the worst conditions.
    • Be cause of that, I also stopped doing stuff because some marina or dock master suggested it. Now, I’ll say, “I don’t have a bow thruster, I can’t do that” Oh, no problem, we’ll put you on this “T” then! Duh!
    • And now this experience reinforces my feelings that at least for me, I’m better off without it. My first thought was if the bow thruster was working this would have been easy. And therein lies the problem. I would have pushed the bow out, jumped on board, used the bow thruster without the understanding that the boat was moving 2 feet a second and while the bow would have missed, the broad side of the boat would have slammed into the stern of the sailboat. No way was it going to get out of the way in the 10 seconds I had.
  • Yes, God certainly Watches Over Fools and Drunkards.

 

The Rest of the Story

Larry had returned to Alaska also, so when I got back to Dauntless on the 24th. I’d be taking her the last 400 miles of this 2000+ mile trip to Vallejo on my own. I had a plane ticket to leave Sacramento on 3 July to Austin.

My route thru Channel Isl Harbor

Assuming I had to arrive on the 2nd, I had 8 days to get to Vallejo. Ray, one of my boat mates in the new marina had kindly offered to give me a ride to the airport at 0h dark-30, so, I was back on the clock.

The first leg was critical, 70 nm to Point Conception. Winds had been light or southerly for two days, while I was in Salt Lake City, now, my day of departure, Monday they were forecast to increase from the west as the day progressed. (This is the way I use weather forecasts, looking at the trend, but not necessarily believing the specifics). 70 miles is 12 hours steaming time. I wanted to get around Point Conception before 16:00, otherwise as winds picked up on the bow, we would go slower and slower and I would become ever more miserable, yet again.

Therefore, I planned my departure from Kyoko’s dock at 04:00.

I never sleep well before embarking on any kind of trip, be it, by plane, train, automobile or boat. Thus, I was up just after 3 and figured I may as well get this show on the road.

I have a standard departure procedure. One that I adhere to since pulling away from the dock in the Chesapeake, 4 years ago, only to have the engine stop two minutes later from no fuel. At that time, I dropped the anchor in emergency mode (pulling the chain out of the wildcat and letting the anchor freefall) to stop our drift into nearby boats. Once that was done, I headed to the engine room to see what happened. A quick glance showed both fuel tank feeds were closed. Since I had just opened one, it was clear to me that in my mindset to “open” a closed valve, I had closed the one that was open. So much for check lists.

Getting Underway at 04:07

Way back then, I still did not have my auxiliary fuel pump installed, so of course it took 10 minutes of lift pump masturbation to get the air out and everyone happy again.

Consequently, I follow a standard start up routine, which consists of:

  • Engine room check, smelling and looking for obvious leaks and confirming fuel feed and Racor use.
  • Engine start
  • Turn on breakers for:
    • Running lights
    • VHF radio
    • Radar
    • Auto Pilot
    • “Loran” that’s the breaker used for my USB ports now
    • Horn
    • Check Anchor light is off
  • The boat computer, modems, router, Maretron system, two Samsung LCD displays are all 12 volt and on a separate breaker that is not on the pilot house system. They were already on, as that system takes a few minutes to boot up, as the router can be picky.

Now, on this night, I had already taken one spring line off before I went to sleep. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake, as it got me out of my routine.

Channel Isl Hbr overhead docking

03:30 I did my engine room check. I was also out of my routine because my engine room bilge pump was off and had been for the 10 days I was on this dock. With the little leak I had from the transmission, while no significant oil would be discharged, it would still make an embarrassing oil sheen, would not be nice for Kyoko and Mike, who had so graciously given me this spot. I could easily wait until we were off-shore.

03:43 Engine start. To this day, it is unclear to me what I was thinking. But I didn’t turn on the Auto Pilot or the Radar. More likely I did, but in any case, I untied from the dock, without realizing that neither was on.

03:52 Free from the dock and underway. I make the 90° turn to starboard to clear the dock, at which point I realize the Radar is not on. It’s dark. I don’t travel without the radar in the daytime, let alone now. But what to do.

These fairways were relatively wide, maybe 150 feet, but with boats and/or docks on either side. To return to Kyoko’s dock, I would have to do a 180° to port, then a 270° to dock bow facing out, as I was. In the dark, alone, that did not appeal to me. I also did not want to dock bow in, tie on the port side, as all my lines were on the stbd side. Again, being alone, limited my options. I decided to press on and look for a convenient place to stop to be bel to diagnose and solve the electrical issue.

In hindsight, I should have turned around and docked bow in. As it turned out, where I did decide to dock had a current that was vexing. At least this was a dock I knew. But at the time, I was more concerned about hitting something and felt it would be better someplace else. There must be some fuel dock or some such on the 40 minute it would take to go thru the channels and harbor to the sea.

My abrupt stop of video and boat for that matter is because while approaching the bridge, I was sure it was the same bridge I had come under two weeks earlier. But then, it that moment of panic, I thought maybe in the dark, I had made a wrong turn. I didn’t, but that’s what being in the dark will do for you. 

Error
This video doesn’t exist

So, I slowed to inch under the bridge. I then proceeded to spend 15 minutes trying to back in a dock. With no current, it would have been easy, but in this case, there was a current, pushing the boat and especially the bow to port, so as I backed I’d end up almost perpendicular to the dock. After 3 or 4 attempts, I gave up and decided it would be easier to just go bow in around the corner. It was, and I did.

Coastal Explorer and Maretron data laving CI hbr

Just tied to midships. The boat secure, I was able to get under the helm to see why I had no power to the radar and autopilot.

Pilot house voltage has been an issue since day 1. I need to run a bigger or additional line and ground to the pilot house. When on long cruises, once the batteries are fully charged, the voltage at the batteries goes to 12.85v or thereabouts. The problem is that voltage in the pilot house is down to the low 12v. The Raymarine radar display will blink out momentarily when the voltage dips below 12. This usually happens when the auto pilot commands a longer turn. It gets annoying. So, since I never got around to running the additional wires, I instead did my normal half-assed fix of jumping from one buss to the other. The pilot house electrical panel has three separate busses. It used to be two, but sometime a couple years ago, I thought I had a fix for the radar by making a third buss. It sort of worked.

But coming north with Larry the radar display (not the transmitter or computer, only the display) started blinking again. I added another jumper. Worked great. But then upon arrival, I redid in a different way. Why? who knows!!

That different way is what was not working. I realized right away why the autopilot wasn’t getting power. So, I put it back the way it was, and all was good. That took 5 minutes. The additional docking took 45 minutes.

That delay would bite me in the ass later that afternoon.  Once I got out to sea, the winds were light from the south or southwest. I was headed 280°, just north of west. Winds out of the south were good, east better. Late in the morning the winds started to turn to 280° at 06 kts, right on the nose. 3 hours later at 14:00 they were 28012 g 15 kts, pitching had increased to 12° up and down and speed was reduced by one knot.

Underway again
Error
This video doesn’t exist

I was able to make the turn to the NNW, 340° at 16:00. Winds had already increased to 290° 14 g 20. The turn took the winds and seas off the bow to the port forward quarter, much better than dead ahead. I was grateful for my early morning start.

The rest of the day was a piece of cake. Winds stayed 300° 15 g 20 for the rest of the evening. We were pitching and rolling, but it was tolerable. I didn’t jump overboard as I have been tempted to do when going into ahead sea.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Passing an Oil Platform south of Santa Barbara

I arrived in off Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo Bay around 22:00 and anchored that night using the radar. But then you already knew that.

Anchoring at Night

 

 

The Interlude in Pictures

MY 10 day trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, Salt Lake City & Snowbird, via Seattle, returning to LAX

A couple comments:

18 June 22:23 flying north over Alaska
  • I’m fascinated with green trees against a deep blue sky
  • Mid-June in Fairbanks is probably the pettiest time of summer, with fresh greening on the trees and the midnight sun.
  • Texas is also very pretty
  • Sorry no boats
  • 19 June 01:06 a.m. approaching Fairbanks, Alaska
    19 June 01:08 a.m. Fairbanks, Alaska
    FAI – Fairbanks International Airport. the big mystery is how the stuffed bear lost half it’s size.
    19 June 01:20 a.m. Fairbanks, Alaska facing north!
    A walk in a park downtown Fairbanks
    trees in park downtown Fairbanks
    A friend’s house in the hills above Fairbanks (Chena Ridge)
    trees and sky
    Another friend’s house off Farmer’s Loop
    These are real Alaskan King Crab legs
    Leaving Fairbanks in the daytime
    Mt Rainier from 15,000 feet
    Mt Rainier from 20,000 feet on Delta airlines
    Blue skies over Snowbird, Utah
    An Algae bloom in The Great Salt Lake
    Return to Southern Calif
    My friends Dana and Peter in Austin Texas

    Dana and Peter’s little man

 

 

Time Waits for No One

I was on schedule, the one I’d made month’s earlier. It was June 10th.

So Calif from SD to Channel Islands The missing segment north of San Diego to Oceanside, is simply Garmim, being Garmin.

460 nm to go to our winter home of Vallejo, close compared to only a month ago, but now time was getting compressed. My hard, drop dead dates were also much closer.  July 6th was the hardest one, my flight from Austin Texas back to SGN, Saigon, HCMC, Vietnam.

Airline tickets can always be changed, but at a price and I was tired of just pissing money away.

CE chart off CA coast to Channel Islands Please don’t get confused. Channel Islands Harbor is NOT in the Channel Islands. But instead is just south of Oxnard on the mainland. That’s California just being California.

I also had a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd, that I really, really wanted to attend. Three years earlier, I’d crossed the stormy North Sea to get back to Ireland in time to meet my dear friend Jennifer, who was coming to Ireland just to see Dauntless. I’d known her since she was 8 years old. Now, she had met the love of her life and was getting married. I had to be there.

I also wanted, needed to go to Fairbanks, Alaska before I left the USA

I’d already arranged the marina for the winter, in Vallejo California.

It was simply going to be a busy month, but doable if the weather cooperated.

Entering Channel Islands harbor, which is NOT in the Channel Islands. But instead is just south of Oxnard on the mainland. That’s California just being California.

The most recent version of the plan had Dauntless and I getting to Vallejo by the 17th, flying to SLC on the 21st, then onto Fairbanks on the 25th, ending in Austin, Texas on the 3rd. I have good friends there and it so happens that the plane ticket to Vietnam is significantly cheaper if it starts in Austin (or other smaller markets) then NY or Detroit, even though my routing goes thru Detroit.

What are friends and family for? Friends and family are there to talk you out of stupid ideas or better said: to help you see the better plan.

Kyoko’s beautiful house in Channel Islands harbor

My friends, Mike and Adrianna, who now also have a Kadey Krogen 42, called While Knuckles, had suggested earlier that I stay in southern California longer. The reason I had resisted was that that plan upset my sense of completion: let’s get Dauntless settled, then travel.

The Pacific off the Southern California coast, south of Santa Barbara, has significantly better cruising weather. The winds are still predominately from the NW, but more like 50% of the time versus 90% further south. In addition, there are long periods of light & variable winds. Perfect cruising weather.

Dauntless from Kyoko’s house

And that’s what we had for the next five days.

Mike and Adrianna keep their boat in front of a friend house in Channel Islands harbor. They spoke to their friend, Kyoto, and she was happy to have my Kadey Krogen there, while White Knuckles was in Ensenada having some extensive upgrades taken care of.

The weather was also changing. It became clear that I would have to wait to do the last 270 miles from Point Conception to the Golden Gate and Vallejo. So, I took

Dauntless in front of Kyoko’s house

Mike and Kyoko up on their offer to keep Dauntless there as long as I needed, while I:

  1. Waited for weather
  2. Attended the wedding and
  3. Flew to Fairbanks and back
  4. Spent more money on tools and spares at Harbor Freight

I had to change one place ticket, but this was a much better plan. I was able to travel to the wedding and then Alaska knowing Dauntless was in good hands with sharp eyes watching out for her. I really appreciated the hospitality and it made for great 10 days

.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

Harbor Freight is Wonderful

,

Dauntless Returns to the USA

Dauntless returned to the USA on June 9, 2018; four years after she left Cape Cod, Mass. I left with Julie and came back with Larry, an interesting swap. But it’s nice to share special moments with special people and I’ve known Larry since we met on T-3 in 1973.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

CE chart of our arrival in San Diego

He’s good crew. He knows how to find the best ride for the conditions of wind and seas and he knows when to call me.

The check-in pier to the USA in San Diego is at the police dock at the entrance to the harbor. When we arrived at 19:00 there was a large fishing trawler occupying most of the dock. A spot on the Visitor’s Pier was open and I took it. Upon calling customs and Immigration, they told me everyone was busy with that fishing trawler, took my number and said they’d get back to me.

Noon , 6 hours from SD

Some minutes later, they did just that.  Telling me they were busy, they asked if we had Global Entry. We did, they took our passport numbers and welcomed us to the USA. After the nightmare of paperwork that the Caribbean is, I welcomed some common sense.

Larry and I celebrated our return by going to the typical restaurant & bar ubiquitous in the USA at upscale marinas and sea shores. We paid a lot for the crappiest meal we’d had in weeks. Welcome Home.

The Visitors Dock

It was 17 days from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego. I’ve written about most of the highlights or lowlights already. If you missed it, here are some links:

The Dingy Fiasco part 1

Third Time is the Charm; But it Wasn’t Easy

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Four Easy Days

The last 17 days saw us biding our time in anchorages, opposite, hot, dry, almost deserted towns, waiting for strong NW winds to subside so we could proceed NW in weaker NW winds.

Everything ended up working out so well thanks to generous friends and wonderful strangers.

Yet, I feel a disquiet that I hope is nothing more than the phase of the moon.

 

 

 

 

What We Know

It was about 10 years ago, 5 years before acquiring Dauntless, my first and probably last boat, that I got a vague idea about cruising and living on a boat. I’d never heard of Kadey Krogen, I thought sailors who crossed oceans were living the life of hermits.

This bot was watching that light (upper right corner) and as soon as it turned green, he pointed so his mother would notice.
Kids love helping and being engaged .

I spent the next 5 years reading everything I could find about people on, in and about, boats. I’d always been fascinated with merchant marine stories, so now I just expanded to the small boat world.

Pretty sure that the sailboat life was not for me, my first readings were dominated by those prolific powerboat writers, Nordhavn owners. I’d stalk the mailman, Steven, (yes, even in the Big Apple, we had our mail carrier’s phone number), waiting for the latest issue of Passage Maker, to find out what some hardy Nordhavn owner was up to.

By 2009, it was obvious that the real estate market was not going to keep doubling every few years. I’d never have the money of the Passage Maker crowd. No one was going to give me a $100,000 sponsorship and fly parts needed to repair of my hydraulics stabilizers, by helicopter, to the Northwest Passage.

I expanded my reading to that I had eschewed previously, about sailors and sailing. The amount of material about non-powered boats was 1000-fold greater. I didn’t censor what I read. I was reading to learn, to understand, to experience without having to do, even those experiences I had no interest in doing myself.

I realized just like moving to Italy in the ‘70’s, I needed to have an even more open mind than normal. The more I read, the more I understood that there was no “right” way.

It wasn’t that what I knew was wrong, it was simply that it may not be right.

Even weeks before my first Atlantic crossing, I knew four people was the right amount. But I couldn’t get four.  Julie and I came up with a new plan. She would come but leave at the Azores. Then a third person volunteered at the last minute. But at that point, we decided that two was just fine; and it was.

Sitting in the Azores, looking for crew to assist me from the Azores to Ireland, a 9 or 10-day passage, I was finally convinced by an American sailor from North Carolina to just go on my own. I’d be fine, and it would be better than wasting good weather sitting around and it was.

What I took from all this was that what was obvious, wasn’t.

The Front Seat

I was brought to this entire train of thought recently as I watched a mother and daughter (maybe 2 or 3 years old) on a motorcycle here in Saigon, Vietnam. How touching the scene was. They were having a conversation as they motored along at 20 mph. How could it be safe? Children that age will normally sit in the very front on a little stool or stand.

Surely, I know that a child in a car seat in the back of an automobile is safer than this!

But then I wondered, safer, certainly; but happier, more secure. I wondered?

Over the days as I thought about it even more, I realized I’ve never seen a crying child on a motorbike. Not one. I see captivated kids. They are watching the world go by, with their parent nuzzled snugly right next to them, holding them.  How can you feel more secure than that?

On the other hand, how many times in the USA have I observed some child having a tantrum while being put into a car seat in the back of a car? Too often to count.

Safety versus separation anxiety. For many kids, probably not mutually exclusive, but for some?

 

Even in the First World, we know less than we think we do.

 

A child seat for your motorbike
Getting ready to go