I’m not in it, at least not in the Wrangell, Alaska version. Even NYC has a version, with people going in the water at Coney Island on the first of the year.
Now the Wrangell version is for these hardy enough to brave the cold waters (50°F) of Zimovia Strait on the first of the new year. This winter has been extremely wet, but not very cold, with temperatures staying above freezing except for just of couple of dry days in the high 20°s. Every other day we’ve had clouds and rain. Contrast that with last year, where by this time, we’d had few feet of snow since before Thanksgiving until now and had weeks of below freezing temperatures.
I do have my Polar Bear certificate for being in Resolute, Northwest Territories, Canada, but I just had to be there, not do anything special.
While on T-3, I did have the opportunity to jump into the Arctic Ocean, in the six-foot diameter hole we had melted thru the sea ice to collect zooplankton samples for the summer. But the idea of jumping into water that was 28°F, even then, in the years when I was young, brave and knew everything, was unappealing to me.
I pictured myself going into shock, not being able to drag myself out of our four-foot-deep ice hole, while my bumbling colleagues came up with a way to drag me out as I died of hypothermia.
Being on the Arctic ice pack in the middle of summer was fascinating. During the summer, with 24 ours of daylight for five months, the sun did produce significant melting of the top layers of ice.
Now, a little lesson on the Arctic ice pack. The ice pack was (until recently) only about 4 to 6 feet think, absent pressure ridges, (areas where the ice has been pushed into little hills by wind and current). Currently, the ice pack has thinned to just 3 to 4 feet. Thus, much larger areas are opening up during the summer melt.
The ice pack grows from underneath, fresh water freezing in the 28° water. Thus, the ice pack is all fresh water and was the source of our drinking water. We melted ice most of the year, but for two months of the high summer, we would pump fresh water from the numerous lakes that formed on top of the ice. These melt ponds would be a beautiful blue in color. On the other hand, when we would come upon leads (a break in the ice pack) in the ice, the water would be as black as the blackest night. I found them actually scary, I would not get within a few feet of them. Terrified would be more like it. Even after all these years, nothing has made me feel that primordial fear like those black, black leads.
The Arctic Ocean doesn’t get very much snowfall, it’s simply too dry. So, all the ice growth comes from below. While all the ice melt or sublimation (solid, ice, becoming gas, water vapor, without turning to liquid first. Sublimation is how most of the ice disappears. Therefore, the ice pack is always growing from underneath 10 months of the year and losing ice from above throughout the year, but especially in high summer, June and July.
If you would like to know more and be up on Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis, check out this link, which I look at every months as I dream of cruising from Alaska to Europe one day:
20200725 Anchoring on a Lee Shore in a Gale in Southeast Alaska – The Devil You Know…
As I have said before, this is my 7th year with Dauntless and 6 years with my 55# Delta anchor, so I sleep well at night on the hook.
We were cruising from Wrangell to Juneau, 148 nm, normally three days, but we wanted to do some halibut fishing and we didn’t need to be in Juneau until the following Wednesday, giving us 6 days.
We left Wrangell Friday morning on an out-going tide, giving us a push through most of Wrangell Narrows. Outside of Petersburg, at the north end of Wrangell Narrows, the current will abruptly change from a plus 1 knot to a minus 4 knot current. When this happens, we anchor just off the channel and wait a couple of hours for the slack. That’s what we did on this day also.
Even with our stop of a little less than two hours, we arrived in Farragut Bay about 20:00 Friday evening, dropped out shrimp pots and crab pot and anchored on the south side of the large bay. It is an open anchorage, but suitable for good weather with no swell.
We knew a storm was coming, with increased south-easterly winds throughout the day, Saturday and into Sunday. Our plan was to fish a bit Saturday, check out another anchorage, but ultimately head to our Read Island anchorage where we had anchored two times previously, one time with very strong southerly winds (which meant we were anchored off a lee shore)
We fished a few spots, but no luck, as the winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots, the seas inside Farragut Bay did also, with 3-foot waves. We decided to pull our shrimp pots, which in hindsight turned out to be a mistake. It was not fun with those winds and waves and stressed Ti out more than was necessary.
We then headed to the east side of Read Island, where we could anchor for the night, but first did another hour of fishing in a spot Ti had noticed a small fishing boat last time we were here.
About 17:00 Saturday, we were anchored in our Read Island cove. I let out 140 feet of chain plus our 30’ nylon snubber bridle. The spot we anchored was roughly the same as the first time when we had seeked shelter here during another storm earlier this summer. The initial anchor bearing was 80’ @ 243° in winds that were already SE to SW at 8 to 15 knots.
The previous storm had produced winds 15 to 25 knots in this cove. I was quite stressed as it was a lee shore, but we pretty much stayed right where we anchored. This informed my opinion for this coming storm.
We were anchored in 37 feet of water under the keel. Had it not been off a lee shore, I would have let out another 100+ feet of chain.
The winds were 15 knots gusting to 25 thru the evening. By nightfall, it was raining heavily and between the rain and the darkness, I could not even see the nearby shore a couple of hundred feet away off our beam. Thus, the lack of any decent videos or pictures.
Just before midnight the winds came down a few knots, but as they say, this was the proverbial calm before the storm, as by midnight, the winds were rapidly building again. It was to last almost 24 hours, with half that time with winds above 20 knots, peaking to 40.
I was happy to go to sleep before then, but Ti was a nervous nellie, waking me up every half hour to tell me the wind was blowing, and the boat was rocking a bit (though not really). The first couple of times I got up to check everything to maintain marital bliss, if nothing else, as it was pitch black outside, with heavy rain and wind. I could see nothing. At midnight, the anchor bearing was little changed in direction or distance.
While the winds were high in this cove, there was really no swell or waves, at most a half foot, making it a little rocky, but hardly noticeable in the scheme of things.
I went back to sleep, but Ti would still wake me up a dozen times until morning; I’d reassure here and go back to sleep.
Civil twilight was about 04:00, with sunrise 45 minutes later, so that’s when I got up again, as I could no longer use the excuse to Ti that it was dark out and I couldn’t see anything.
So I was up, in the pilot house, watching as the storm peaked about 06:00 with winds gusting to 40 knots and a steady 20 knots, but for the next 6 hours, while the wind gusts came down a bit, the steady winds were higher in the 25 to 30 knot range. Thus, with that wind pressure, the anchor bearing distance oscillated between 156 and 174 feet for much of the morning, before decreasing to 110’ to 130’ by midafternoon. (and where it had been the previous evening).
Looking at the little diagram I drew and my calculations, all the catenary was out at that point, 174 feet away, and we were simply being held by our Delta anchor. As the sun got higher in the sky ,I could see shallow rocks about one boats length away behind Dauntless. That confirmed my calculation to not let out more chain. I was also ready to start the engine should I notice us dragging. However, since we had not dragged at all, I was hesitating to move and thus possibly upset the balance we had obtained.
In analyzing the track on the Coastal Explorer C-Map chart and the Maretron wind graph, it was clear that we had spent about 12 hours between that 150 and 174 feet and by mid-afternoon Sunday, 22 hours after we had initially anchored, we had moved back to the original bearing and distance of 78 feet. Monday morning, when we finally hauled anchor after 36 hours, we had moved to within 60 feet of the anchor under calm winds.
All in all, I could not have been happier with how things developed and how rock steady we were under difficult conditions.
Would I do it all over again?
It’s hard to say. I would probably turn on the radar and set the alarms the next time. That would be more effective than anchor alarms (GPS based), which I don’t use anymore, because I find them ineffective.
My Alaska friends had told me that any location that may have been more sheltered from the wind would have been more open to waves and swell.
All in all, it’s hard to try to improve upon a good outcome. As they say, sometimes it’s better to stick with the Devil we Know, versus the one we don’t.
To see a little video of this, which I have not yet uploaded on my Dauntless at Sea You Tube channel, please visit the link below and subscribe.
Docking Dauntless at Heritage Harbor, Wrangell, Alaska
We went to drop one crab and two shrimp pots. This video shows the last 15 minutes are we return to the Heritage Harbor, Wrangell, Alaska.
We back into our slip for the convenience being able to get on and off the boat via the stern and swim platform, plus it’s a little better for the shore power connections.
A few things to note: With a single screw and no bow thruster, Dauntless has always been a handful to get in and out of tight places. But as time as gone on and I’ve bounced off enough objects, I am pretty skilled at backing her up. She has a left-handed prop, meaning the prop rotates counterclockwise. This causes a produced prop walk to port, I have to keep about 3° of starboard rudder to go in a straight line.
She can turn 180° to port in about 60-foot diameter but turning to starboard can be problematic as I discovered one day while trying to turn on the River Maas in the Netherlands. While the current was against me, a 30-knot wind from our stern made turning around to starboard impossible as I discovered halfway thru the turn. The bow just stopped coming around. Luckily, at this point, I had plenty of room to turn the other way.
A couple of hours later, having already forgotten what I just learned, I tried again in a small harbor to dock into the wind. (See the picture below ) To my horror, as the boat crabbed upstream and towards a boat tied perpendicular to the dock I was trying to reach, I rammed the dock with the bow, knowing that at least then, it would stop my progress towards this other boat 60 feet away.
Dauntless in Nijmegen. I had come on on the left (side of picture) to turn right to dock as you see, but wind was blowing 30 knots from astern (on the bow on).BTW, this was with a working bow thruster. Another reason I learned it’s best not to depend on one for when you really need it against high winds or current, it will be least effective.
Now when you see me make a 270° turn to port coming around to 90° to starboard from our original heading, you’ll understand why I take the long way around.
When I wrote Surviving Winter on a Boat back 8 months ago, in mid-January 2020, we were coming thru the coldest period we would see all winter, and everything had worked as advertised.
It was not to last. In fact, two weeks later, we had no heat and then no electricity.
Let’s check the videotape.
We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.
And it did get cold. January temperatures went below freezing in the morning of January 1st, were in the teens in the second week and single digits mid-month. Through it all the Wallas DT40 heater worked well and keep Dauntless warm and cozy, as I wrote last January:
I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a mattress heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.
At the coldest, with lows near 5°F and daytime highs in the low teens, the Wallas used 2 gallons of diesel per day if I ran it on high most of the time. During normal use, basically for the rest of the winter and spring, it averaged about 1 gallon per day, which is right in line with what the owner’s manual states. It’s certainly refreshing to have a company provide real data that hasn’t been lawyered to uselessness.
And then it warmed up and everything went to hell in a handbasket.
On January 20th, the temperature went above freezing for the first time since the cold snap has started a month ago.
What’s Hell in a Handbasket? Mix cascading consequences with trying to be a little too cute and a dash of inattention and you get no heat and soon no electricity.
It all started so innocently enough.
Back in the fall, when I had finally completed the installation of the Wallas DT40 heater (Wallas Finland Heater homepage) the 9 feet of 1” stainless steel exhaust hose ended in my propane locker. That didn’t seem like a good idea even to me, so I went to the local hardware store and got 3 feet of 1 ½ “ mild steel flexible hose because that is all they had.
I can make that work and I did. Nothing a little duct tape won’t solve. I was even proud of myself for making a large loop, in which I even thought to drill a hole for condensation water drainage. Too small a hole as it turned out.
All went well for months, until the warm-up in late January. The Wallas turned itself off and would not run.
Knowing that water in the exhaust could be the culprit, it was the first thing I checked. But that was easier said than done. The Wallas heater is installed on the starboard side of the engine room, above the battery box. The exhaust hose runs straight up to the salon to the fly bridge. I wanted to blow thru the exhaust hose. First, I had to take the heater off its mount. Then I hooked up the vacuum hose to blow and connected it to the exhaust.
It worked. I had also seen that my drain hole in the “U” of the exhaust pipe had sealed itself due to rust. So that’s why the ice and water had collected in the exhaust and when it got warm outside, the ice melted and the heater was on a low setting, so the water eventually clogged the exhaust causing the automatic shutdown.
The best laid plans of mice and men…
I drilled a much bigger drain hole, ¼” this time.
The heater started up and ran for 9 hours before shutting down for some problem. Strange.
I started it up again, and again it shut down after about 9 hours.
Just wonderful people and truly knowledgeable. Bill is the resident expert and he was so helpful. I ended calling them a dozen times over the next week, as I would take the Wallas down and clean out the burner. It would then start, run ok, but shut down at some point on its own.
Scan Marine suggested I send the unit to them. But I wasn’t ready to quit yet.
When cleaning the burner, three parts are removed:
The glow plug which starts the fuel burning,
The fuel pipe, a 1 mm metal pipe that drips fuel into the burner
The thermocouple which measures the heat out put to make sure fuel is shut off if there is no fire.
I had cleaned that little 1mm fuel pipe numerous times, since it will clog if the burner gets sooted up, like with a semi-blocked exhaust!
I had spent what seemed like hours in the engine room, holding the exhaust pipe, checking if it was getting warm, then hot. By then I knew every little noise it made. The minute ticks of the fuel pump, the fan blowing in the burner, etc.
I finally saw a pattern. It was starting ok, fuel was going in, it was burning (since it was getting hot), but then it would shut down, like I had turned it off (though I would get a warning that it had an unusual shutdown).
As I thought about its operation: it was getting fuel and air, but it was turning itself off.
Finally, at my wits end I went online to see how I could test the thermocouple. Right away, I found someone who had measured the resistance of the thermocouple at about 9 ohms.
Umm, mine was more than 2200 ohms.
Called Scan Marine and they told me the music to my ears, that anyone with no heat wants to hear: “Our mail goes in in 30 minutes, but I’ll make sure your thermocouple makes the pickup”
It arrived in Wrangell, two days later. J
Its resistance was 7 ohms. That boded well.
Put it in, turned it on and it’s been running normally the last 7 months.
Thank you Wallas for building a heater that is fixable.
Thank you, Scan Marine, for holding my hand through the process and then getting me the parts quickly.
Looking back, here’s what happened:
I extended the exhaust pipe, but then put too small a drain hole in mild steel.
With the heater running near high with very cold temperatures outside, the exhaust air was hot enough to prevent any water collection, even with the now rusted over hole.
As soon as it warmed up, ice melted in the exhaust ANDI turned down the heater, resulting in cooler exhaust, allowing water to collect, semi-blocking the exhaust, then blocking it causing a shut down.
In the process of cleaning the heater too many times because I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working correctly once I had cleared the exhaust, the thermocouple wire broke, but not obviously. Therefore, it would run, but as time went on, the wire insulation got a little warmer, allowing the wire to stop making contact at the break.
Once the thermocouple reported no heat due to the wire break, the heater would turn off the fuel pump, as to not pump fuel with no fire going (even though the fire was going).
Not the first time, in diagnosing one thing, I cause something else to break.
On the other hand, I love the Wallas and would buy it again if need be. It’s expensive, but worth it. It is as quiet as advertised. At night in bed, with the Wallas on high speed fan, I can not hear it, but instead do hear the muffin fan on the fridge compressor. The Wallas is that quiet, with it’s mufflers on the two hot air ducts.
The only thing that made this week with no diesel heater tolerable was having a mattress heating pad on our bed. It allowed us a decent night’s sleep in a cold boat. Don’t leave home without it
This is the 120v one that I have had for a year now and would recommend my 120v Mattress Pad. I hesitated getting a 120v pad because there are issues with noise in the transformer, they can produce a buzz that’s audible in a quiet room. This 120v unit has no noise at all.
Previously, I had used a 12v hating pad. The first one lasted 4 years and I loved it. It didn’t need an inverter to run and it really warmed the bed on cold winter days in New England and Northern Europe. So, when it started not to work, I bought the same one My 12v Mattress Pad. this one only worked for a couple of months before it too, started simply stopped working. So, I gave up on them. Stupidly, I should have returned the second one while under warranty, but for some reason, that never occurred to me.
Now, while we spent this week with no heater. I did have the two A/C reverse cycle units on the boat. They will provide heat. But we only had on 25-amp circuit to the boat. So that took some jury rigging to turn on one heater or the other.
Worked fine until I also decided to install an Automatic Generator Start that same week.
This entire spring, I have been dealing with electrical power issues, of course, like usual, mostly self-imposed. My Kadey Krogen 42 is a really well designed, well-built boat, but for the nut behind the wheel, all would be perfect.
This is what’s been happening.
Batteries. My four Yuasa 8D Sealed Lead Acid batteries, bought in Ireland 4 years ago, are shot. Each battery is 225 amp-hours (AH) but are down to about 10 AH each! That means that once 40 AH are out of the entire bank, the voltage crashes to under 11 volts.
Last fall and again this winter, hoping it was just one battery gone bad, pulling the others down, I separated each battery, let them rest and then checked each voltage. Normally it’s a good sign that they were all within a couple of hundredths of a volt, but in this case, it just affirmed that the entire bank was shot.
My first solution was to get and install an Automatic Generator Start (AGS). I found a Magnum on Amazon. An AGS starts the generator automatically at a certain voltage, in this case 12.0 volts. Once this was up and running, at least I didn’t have to wake up every three hours, check the voltage, go back to sleep for an hour or two, then get up to turn off the generator.
Now, the gen would come on automatically, run for the time I had set, in this case one hour. That would put enough charge back in the batteries for the next few hours.
The installation was relatively complicated because of my Westerbeke gen. It required using two additional relays (the AGS itself is essentially three relays).
About his time, somewhat unrelated to the batteries, I managed to short out my Heart Interface b y doing something really stupid.
We were connected to one 30-amp shore supply. To make life easier, I installed a jumper breaker switch so that I could power both circuits of the boat from the one source. It does mean we must manage our use, so if making hot water in the electric kettle, we must turn ff the water heater which itself uses 10 amps of 120 power.
I managed to blow up two of the mosfets in the Heart inverter by forgetting to disconnect this jumper or disconnecting the shore power, when I went to start the generator.
So, I was also in the market for a replacement inverter. I wanted a pure sine wave inverter to be able to run by 120v heating pad on my bed.
I ended up deciding on MPP Solar Inverters, I got two 1,000-watt inverters that normally run in parallel and thus provide 2,000 watts as needed. I can also sun them singly, giving me back up if needed. Also integrated into each unit is an 80 A MPPT solar panel controller.
On the battery side, I decided to try ONE LiFePO4 chemistry battery, that I would put together myself using four 3.2-volt cells (each 200 AH) and a Battery Management System (BMS). Total cost for the four cells, shipping and BMS was $600, though it took two months by boat from China to Seattle, then barge to Wrangell, Alaska.
The battery was relatively easy to set up. I’d spent much of the winter watching Will Prouses’s videos on YouTube and reading his forum.
The easiest solution seems to be to keep lead acid batteries in the system. So, in my case, I took out only one of the 8D’s and replaced it with the Lithium battery.
The new setup has been operational since June and has worked well and as anticipated.
I had to set a user custom charging program for my Balmar ARS-5 regulator. I also added a temperature sensor for the regulator to know the temperature of the alternator. I set the bulk charging to 60 amps and 120 minutes at 14.2 volts. Absorption I set to the minimum 6 minutes and Float to 13.3 volts.
Works like a charm. If we are on the hook, 12 hours overnight uses about 110 to 150 AH. Once we get underway, the alternator will put 60 amps into the batteries for the first two hours, then go to Float. LiFePO don’t like being kept fully charged, so the Float at 13.3 keeps them about 85 to 90% capacity while underway.
The MPP Inverter/charger works somewhat the same, but at least for now, though I did have to change the Bulk charging voltage from 14.2 to 14.6 volts to get it to go into Bulk charging if the batteries are at 50% since the voltage at 50% stays relatively high at around 13.00 v.
With this set up, now when out fishing for the day for days, we just run the generator for an hour or two in the morning and maybe one hour in early evening.
First, I’m still alive, though it was a close call. No, it wasn’t Covid-19, but something far worse, boredom.
I hate being bored and perversely, the less I do, the less I want to do. Thus, my creative energy that it takes to write these blogs or make YouTube videos seems to have gone into hibernation for the winter. Is it back now? Only time will tell, but since I’ve gotten a few emails asking if I was still alive, I thought I better get off my ass and write.
Second, also got an email complaining about the most recent appearance change on the blog I did a few months ago. They said it was harder to read because of the dark background. Honesty, I had noticed the same thing myself, but was hoping that I was the only one who noticed! See just lazy. Like hearing that strange noise in the middle of a passage and just hoping it goes away on its own (fat chance).
Tell me what you think of this new theme (background) and if anyone has any suggestions &/or improvements, I would be glad to hear them, though the easier they are for me to implement, the more likely it will happen.
Third, living on the Dauntless in the winter in Alaska is very different than crossing oceans or cruising to new and strange lands. More on this later, as it will be the topic in an upcoming blog.
Lastly, below is a blog I wrote mostly about the paravanes in 2016. I did write a summary of what I have done and the final paravane system setup. I will post that in the separate post.
While In Astoria, Oregon, last summer, I was finally able to get two new paravane birds. Over 25,000 miles and 5 years, I had left the USA with 4 paravane birds, two 26″ and two slightly smaller at 24″ (as measured at the base of the triangle of the bird). Going to 24″ was a mistake. I was so happy with the performance of the 26″ birds, I thought I would try the 24″ to see if they was as effective, but with reduced drag. Yes, just like a perpetual motion machine!
If I have learned anything over the last 6 years, it is that you can not escape the physical laws of the universe. Work (as in the physics definition of work as the product of Force and distance) perfectly explains the effectiveness of the paravane birds and the drag they produce.
Therefore, If I deploy just the windward bird (being the most effective), if it reduces the roll 80% of what both birds would do, then the drag will also be 80% of the total speed reduction had I deployed both birds. In the same way, the 24″ birds did not induce as much drag, but they also did not reduce the roll as much.
So, last summer, I decided to buy the 28″ birds, while in Astoria, at that glorious store, Englung Marine. With stores in the Pac NW, along the coast from Westport WA to Eureka, CA, it’s a must stop for any boater who wants the best bang for their buck.
I didn’t have a call to use them after the first day out of Astoria, but I did use them just the other day when we were returning to Wrangell from a a few days of cruising and fishing. The wind had picked up to mid to high teens from the south, producing a nasty very short period sea of 2 to 3 feet. With such a sea on the beam, this Kadey Krogen will get into quite a quick, deep roll of about 10 degrees to the lee and 5 or 6 to the windward.
Not terrible for what D and I have been through but a different story for the Vietnamese landlubbers. Also, the boat is set up for living aboard in port, not crossing the Atlantic, therefore, I deployed one bird immediately and was impressed how much the one 28″ bird suppressed the rolling.
An earlier post:
Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better
2019: This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.
June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer
While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster. Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.
Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.
But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.
It’s good Dauntless music.
But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba. And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.
But then he really made his name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.
I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.
Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him. From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.
That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months. There are still a few projects to complete. My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska. Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)
I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.
Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.
Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.
Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case. Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.
So in my case, I came up with 17 feet. This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.
So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side. Sounds like a no-brainer right? Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.
What could go wrong? Am I not being 50% safer? That’s what a politician would try to tell you.
No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.
In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear. While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.
But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow. The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.
Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down. If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.
Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up. Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water. Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.
So less is not always better.
And now, I will show you why more is not always better either. Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.
I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.
The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy. I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.
We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.
Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.
It’s amazing how what happens or doesn’t happen on the boat can make such a difference in my mood.
In some weird way, I am not that competitive with other people. In fact, in the workplace, I have always been a total team player, giving credit even when it isn’t due to others and being oblivious when it turned out I was the ONLY team player.
But I am very competitive with myself.
I beat myself up badly when things don’t go as planned. If I fix something that doesn’t stay fixed or can’t figure out what the problem is, leads to many sleepless nights.
It’s even worse when in trying to solve one problem, I cause another. This pretty much sums up my last 4 weeks.
But before we talk about that debacle, let’s talk about a little success.
Last year, I decided that one of my projects was to solve the leaking Jabsco Impeller pump issue.
It was leaking from the cover and because of its location, it leaks right on top of the steel engine mount frame that sits on the stringer. Saltwater on steel is not good.
Not a bad leak, like a drip, drip drip. The sea strainer had a similar leak from the top gasket. Annoying in its own way, because the route for that water was all the way to the front of the engine room on the outside of the stringer, thru the limber hole located there and then back to the bilge on the inside of the stringer.
This constant wetness causes mold and keeps the engine room damper than I like.
My attempts to stop the leaks only made them worse.
On the other hand, I had not had the impeller cover in more than two years. I’ve never really had any impeller problems.
I decided that this winter in Wrangell was the time to get these long-term problems done once and for all.
First step was to take the entire Jabsco pump/gear off the engine. That was relatively easy, though it took a call to a friend to confirm that I needed a little brute force disconnect to free the pump from the engine. A whack with my rubber mallet did the job. (I thought this was rather obvious and I hated asking someone, BUT I’ve had those thoughts before, and disaster ensued. I decided it better to be safe than sorry).
Took the pump to the local guy Tyler, who like before, took my little job of resurfacing the face and the cover of the bronze pump. I appreciate his doing so since his main job is making propeller shafts and very big bearings for the bigger boats and fabricating other things from stainless steel.
$20 later my pump was done, and I took it back to Dauntless.
Only took me a quarter of an hour to put it back on the engine. While this was going on, I also changed the anodes on the main heat exchanger and made a new neoprene gasket for the sea waster strainer.
A quarter of an hour is a bit of an exaggeration, in that it took me another week to find the neoprene gasket material that was stored someplace in the engine room. In my digging, I found some thicker material that was even better and moved the neoprene to a location where I would be able to find it easier. It did NOT need to be stored with those engine parts I will probably never use, like water pump, starter and Alternator.
Once everything was buttoned up, I started the engine, first letting it turn over for 15 seconds before actual start.
It felt so good to have the engine running again. This engine has gotten me over 25,000 miles in the last 7 years. I know it will never let me down.
The relief that flooded over me was unexpectedly powerful. No water leaks, no oil leaks when the pump is mounted to the engine. All was right with the world.
Now my bilge is relatively dry. Now I really don’t want a totally dry bilge. I like my bilge pump to activate a few times a week. With the slow drip from the stuffing box, the pump will go on for a second about twice a week.
With constant rain, it will go off once or twice a day, as water gets in the lazzerette hatch drain gutters, even though I cleaned those gutters and its drain.
Frequently use of every critical part or system is the best preventive medicine. That way when problems crop up, they are noticed immediately. A month ago, while I was having my heater issues (more on that next time), I turned on my forward A/C unit for the first time in more than a year. Of course, no joy.
It took a day of tracing wires and breakers before I finally found the main power plug under the helm had become disconnected. I would have found this much sooner had I been using the unit more frequently. But as happens, over a long period of time, as I change one thing or another, my first thought is that one of those changed was the problem. Therefore, I spent a lot of fruitless time looking at non-obvious stuff, before I found the simple solution.
So, that’s why I like an almost dry bilge. I want to know right away if there is a problem. If the bilge pump or level float (which triggers the pump) stops working, I will know in a few days or week, when I see more than a few inches of water in the bilge.
If the bilge was totally dry, I would never know, until I possibly had a major water inflow and then I would have to fix the problem immediately.
Use it or lose it.
Coming up next, the Wallas debacle or how one problem led to a bigger (more expensive) problem.
It’s been below freezing since the new year began. The first few days of the year were only in the mid-20’s, but for the last 10 days temperatures in Wrangell have stayed in the small range of 8° to 15°F (-13° to-8°C).
This is the coldest outbreaks Southeast Alaska has experienced in more than 10 years. The 5,000 ft temperature at Annette (the location of the rawinsonde) temperature of -21.9C is believed to be the coldest ever.
Dauntless and its denizens have fared ok. We have been able to keep the dock water running, which gives me one less thing to worry about. Should the dock water freeze, we can live of the water tanks in the boat for 6 days, but after that, it would fall on me to figure out how to replenish our water.
Like most teenagers worldwide, Thien just bundles up and accepts what is, without complaint. He, like I, looks at our trials and tribulations, like the adventures they are.
His mother is a bit more sanguine. When people around the world dream of living in America, Alaska is not part of that vision.
No, their vision is more like California, but without high taxes, high costs, countless regulations and homeless people. Warm weather all the time, friendly people, good schools.
Last night, we got pummeled by the Taku winds, cold air being pushed off the mountains to our east and roaring down the fjords. Juneau had winds last night as high as 90 mph. Here in Wrangell, at the dock on Dauntless, the most we have seen is 27 knots (30 mph). It does make for a ride that is a little bouncy, but I can put up with anything when tied to the dock.
Looks like our cold spell will be breaking by early next week. By this time next week, we should be back in the more normal pattern of southwest winds and rain. Which is good, since I won’t have to chip any ice.
We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.
I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.
A heating pad is a requirement if you are living in a cold winter climate. Before the heating pad came into my life, when I would return to the boat after some week’s absence, that first night was so cold. I could never tell if the bed was wet or just cold. (It was just cold).
We are still hooked up to dock water. Dauntless is located at the far end of the dock. The harbor keeps a valve open at the end of the dock to keep the water from freezing. It’s been successful so far.
We had a little cold spell a few weeks ago and I made the mistake of not running the water in the boat all night. The first night, my water hose and filter froze. Now, for the last 5 days since this cold spell, I have kept the midships head sink running water on and now even turn on the forward head sink. I also have the hose that is connected to the dock water running under the boat, so just a few feet are exposed to the cold air.
Our water tanks are full with about 250 gallons of water, so that is our fallback position if we lose dock water.
I had taken our storm windows off while the boat was in Mexico. Never needed them for wave protection, but they acted wonderfully in not allowing any condensation on the pilot house windows during the winter. Once the wind stops blowing, I will pull them out of storage and ready them to put back up. The pilot house is very cold now, near 38°F. My curtain keeps the cold air there as the salon is almost 70.
My bigger issue is that we will be taking the boat out again in February when halibut season opens, and I want to stop the condensation on the windows.
On a different note, I have uploaded another YouTube piece on my trip from California to Alaska. The first 15 minutes of the video are interesting, after that it gets dark and hard to see anything.