Wanna Go to Mexico? Or the Caribbean?

The new year has brought new challenges. Dauntless is still in Blaine, Washington, waiting for winter to end or for me to get off my ass and sell her. While Ti and I are in Texas Hill Country, that beautiful area of rolling hills, limestone karsts, Live Oak trees and garden eating deer.

Dauntless in Blaine under afew inches of snow

We like it here; I’m in nature, the closest house more than a mile away. But it also gives me more responsibilities. We’ve become the caretaker for house, land, and equipment. It’s a big house with a lot of equipment and vehicles. Yesterday, I finally diagnosed the problem with the Hayward pool pump, which turned out to be what is called the centrifugal switch on the motor. Who knew?

The “V” looking thing is the switch whose contacts were not making contact

But it’s a big responsibility. Keeping Ti happy is also a big responsibility. After all these years, yes, I’ve finally figured out (I think) that a happy wife makes my life happy, and conversely…

Texas Hill Country

Besides spending 12+ hours a day on her various YouTube channels, Ti wants to buy a house. That can’t happen until we sell Dauntless. Add to that that Dauntless costs about $600 per month for dockage and insurance. With her hard work every day, I feel a lot of pressure to alleviate the burden.

Some of the vehicles I maintain

Even writing those words, equating Dauntless with a burden, is hurtful. She has brought me 30,000 miles of travel and adventure, at reasonable cost, safe and efficiently. I could not have done that with any other boat. The KK42 is so efficient, inside, and out, it made long distance cruising affordable for a person like me without a hoard of cash and safe in any sea state.

The pool at sunrise

Which gets me to the kind of buyer I evidently need to find. The previous deal we had fell through when the buyer’s surveyor thought the side decks were 50% wet. I’m sure they are, the boat sat in the rain in Wrangell for two years.

The North Atlantic in the end of August. This KK42 took it in stride like everything else

When I bought Dauntless 8 years ago in Florida, she was the perfect dock queen. Her paint and varnish were in perfect condition, as were her basic mechanicals. Though I’m sure her decks were leaking then, as it took me a while to figure out the bilge pump went off once a day if was raining. And that is what most buyers and surveyors look for. What I did not fully understand at the time, was that she lacked a lot of systems, both large and small, that would make long-distance cruising both doable and easier. I spent a lot of time and effort putting those systems in place. I cringe now when I’m told that I should remove the “clutter.”

Systems like paravane stabilizers were an obvious need, but it took me a few years to also add little things like those inexpensive digital voltage gauges, which allowed me to keep track of the battery voltage whether I was sitting in the salon, on the pilot house bench or even sleeping. Why it took me so long to add that last meter in my cabin I can never explain, but once done, it eliminated that middle of the night trek to the pilot house to check battery status. At a glance, I knew if everything was working as it should.

In the last month or two, all of Dauntless’ faults have been made clear to me. She needs paint inside and out. I thought the insides looked pretty good, but it’s never been repainted since new and there are some cracks in some seams of the wall. That was never on my priority list. The outside teak needs a lot of work. One of the fashion plates need to be totally replaced and the swim platform and bow pulpit need work.  Engine room could use a paint job, or at least a touch up.

And now the “wet” side decks. I’ve known since forever that the side decks leak some water into the engine room. I always looked at it as somewhat normal. Never happened when the boat was in Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, or Mexico. I wonder why? In any case, what does a wet die deck really mean? Maybe it won’t support a few thousand pounds, but it would be hard to get 100 people to fit on that small deck. Probably will get worse in 20 years; I’ll be 90 then.

What to do?

I’m going to put an ad on Craigslist and will also post it on the FB group. She needs a buyer like me, who wants to cruise more than polish varnish every weekend. Also, it would help if they can do at least some of the painting, woodwork, and fiberglass themselves. I certainly can’t. She needs someone who also understands the mechanicals. Her Ford Lehman SP135 engine has 7,700 hours; I don’t know of any SP135 that needed to be rebuilt before 15 to 20k miles. I doubt any new owner will put another 8,000 hours on her like I did in their lifetime.

Also, she has tons of spare parts that I’ve never needed and some expendables. If Ti were into it, we’d be ready and able to cross the Pacific as soon as the weather allowed, only needing to replace the seals on the Katadyn Watermaker.

If I were keeping Dauntless, I know exactly what I would do or for a new owner, here is what I would suggest based on my experience:

I’d cruise her in the Pac NW, even Alaska this spring and summer, while I determine what I like, need, or needs to be changed, fixed, or added. Then I’d head south for the fall and winter, Mexico. The Sea of Cortez is a wonderful place to spend the winter. There in La Paz, there are plenty of boat yards that can do the needed work at a great price, to get her ready for more long-distance cruising. Then after a year or two there, the decision will be to go west through the South Pacific to the western Pacific, or head east, back through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean and eventually Europe?

Dauntless has her Panama Canal inspection done, so there is some saving so of money there for that passage.

I’m going to lower the asking price. I don’t want anyone to get a bad deal, I want a fair deal for both of us. With the added faults, I’m willing to lower my asking price to $159k. We all know that any price is negotiable, as this certainly is.

Ti wants her house, sooner rather than later. I understand her needs. If a buyer comes along, with check/cash in hand, and wants Dauntless “as is, where is;” I’d be hard pressed to say no, since at this point, I feel I’m between and rock and a hard place. I’m not saying which one is Ti.

Thanks for reading.

For more information, email me at DauntlessNY@gmail.com and we’ll talk.

Here is a link to some pictures: Dauntless Today

 

 

Thanksgiving on the Hard in Texas Hill Country

I’ve had a revelation. Life is easier on land! Who knew😊

I still have many things to do, some things to fix, some things to maintain, but I’m not whacking my elbows and shins to do so.

Turning the page.

As Dauntless sits in Seattle, under contract with an excited couple who may even finish the circumnavigation that was started 7 years ago, Ti and I started a new chapter. We are living in Texas, about 25 WSW of Austin, in Texas Hill Country, whose topography is dominated by rolling hills, Live Oak trees, some Cactus and Agave plants. It’s beautiful and with no other houses around, it feels as nature filled as Alaska did.

A nearby creek

When we want the advantages of smaller towns, Marble Falls is about 20 miles to the NW, with a great Walmart and Home Depot, while Austin offers all the rest like Costco, H-Mart (a Korean supermarket) and a really nice, large Vietnamese supermarket. Even the day before Thanksgiving, the stores while crowded, were not unreasonable.

View from the house

The people are also great, and I’ve found them more helpful than in some other places I’ve lived.

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. If you are interested, here is a link to the video Ti and I made of our Thanksgiving dinner. And if you are wondering how we made this video so quickly today, let’s just say it’s the miracle of time displacement.

Our dinner

Making a video like this is very time consuming and is Ti’s main work. She loves cooking and showing people what she does. I can honestly say, she has a cooking skill that I’ve never seen before. In our early days, when I was still cooking a bit, she would just watch me cook, without really asking any questions. Then, some days later, she would surprise me, my making the same dish I had made the week before and it was always as good as mine ever was.

Then in subsequent weeks, she would do it again and it was better than I ever did!

She’d do the same if we out to eat. We hardly go out anymore because even I feel it’s a waste of money (she pretty much always felt that way).

For her, the YouTube gig gives her the ability to do what she really likes and still be flexible with her time, allowing us to travel. I didn’t retire to sit in the house!

Once you understand the YouTube algorithms, it is clear why vloggers are always asking viewers to Like, Comment, Subscribe and Share. Those four actions make a big difference in overall viewers since the key to success is how YT recommends the video to others.

Thank you for Reading & Watching. Here is the YT video that we made:  Click here to see our Thanksgiving Dinner

 

 

 

 

I’m Such a Coward

I must say.

We’re back on the ranch, after our two-month odyssey that consisted of:

  • dropping Thien off at Oregon State,
  • flying to Wrangell to Dauntless,
  • the 15-day cruise of bringing Dauntless down to Seattle,
  • unloading Dauntless,
  • getting all our personal stuff off,
  • Cleaning her
  • Packing the truck for the trip back to Texas
  • The 2,000 mile, 6-day drive from Seattle, via Corvallis to Austin

It’s been a busy two months. The easiest part was the drive back to Texas, in part because all the other stuff was already done. And I think we only lost one container of who knows what on the trip back!

The packed truck

I admit I came to tears a few times on Dauntless. Here is a link to the latest pictures and how she looks now: Dauntless Today Insides

Was I giving up my dream too soon? Was I not strong enough to fight for what I believe in?? Was I just being a coward, like other times in my life when I ran away???

I quite enjoyed the drive from Oregon to Texas. The most direct route is mostly Interstate-free which I strive for anywhere west of Chicago. Out west, I’ve found that the old US highways are not only more interesting in that they actually go thru towns and don’t have the 1/8th of a mile set-backs, than the Interstates, but they are not significantly slower. They have 10%, if that, of the traffic on the Interstate and almost no police presence, so one can set their speed as conditions allow.

The route I took was the blue and light blue thru “B”

Clearly, for someone who is willing to cast off the lines and be on the open ocean for three weeks, I like travelling be it by car or boat. It allows one to see the scenery go by, as opposed to flying which has become such a chore from the first security checkpoint to wondering when your bags will show up on the baggage carousel.

Oregon State campus in the fall

Yes, I love travelling. In certain aspects, I like driving even more than cruising, at least in the sense that while driving the scenery does change if not by the hour, at least by the day. Cruising on Dauntless on the other hand, once you are 30 miles off the coast it looks the same until you are 30 miles from the next continent. But, it also has the advantage that one is cruising from their living room. I loved living and cruising on Dauntless. How else can one move from one spectacular view to another, all the while living, eating, and sleeping in nature!!

The downside for me of driving is the reflection time it forces upon me. Unlike cruising, I can’t do anything else. I can’t cook dinner nor watch a Korean drama. I must keep my attention at the highest of levels for whatever time I am at the wheel. Back in the day, when I was driving my Alfa Romeo Montreal from Germany to Italy every two weeks,  to see my Italian girlfriend, I can still remember arriving in her parking lot after 8 hours and 550 miles and having to peel my fingers off the steering wheel. Averaging almost 70 mph for 8 hours through cities, mountains and fields was not for the faint of heart. But just as now, I liked pushing myself.

One time due to breakdown in the Italian train service, I ended up driving to Milan just to pickup my girlfriend from the train station and turn around to head back home since I had to work that day. It was an overnight trip thru the Alps of Italy and Switzerland. I even came across  a broken down car that was stranded in the middle of the St. Bernard tunnel and towed him out of the tunnel.  That thankful driver rewarded me with a bottle of Slivovitz.

The best part of the whole trip as when it was over my girlfriend turned to me and told me she never realized how hard the trip was for me to come see her and how much she appreciated it.

I miss those days, mostly because I miss Europe. Europe has changed. It’s not the car friendly place it was 40 years ago, but in many aspects, it’s still great and offers a variety of conditions in relatively small distances.

The only downside of all this driving is that I end up laying relentless Do-Loops, of what I should have, could have done in every aspect of my life. From leaving good jobs for bad ones to investments bought high and sold low. My only solace is that I can’t be the only person who managed to lose money on Amazon, Tesla, and Microsoft, when they were 1/100th of todays price. At least I tell myself that.

The worst aspect of this constant self-reflection is that there are really no solutions. In particular I think of a couple of women that I should have held on to as hard as they were holding me. I hurt them because I was a coward.

I avoided conflict, even minor conflict. Other men would “go out for cigarettes;” I’d start a whole new life over minor conflicts that would be forgotten in a day.

Which brings me to Dauntless. Am I treating her like I treated these other past loves? I can see why people don’t mind paying the 10% broker fee, so they don’t have to answer those mundane questions that I end up taking so personally.

I have a couple of people really interested in Dauntless in the last months. I need to be less of a coward when it comes to talking about her and what I’ve done or not done. I also need to remind them that as I wrote the blog, there was some dramatic effect involved. I’m not saying I exaggerated events or crises, but I often did not mention how easy the solution was or how few issues I really had.

I am going to try to continue this blog. I’ll just be writing about different types of travels. I would also like to start filming these car trips, since there is some interest in that.

On that note, here is a glimpse of my new life this morning.

sunrise at the ranch
The moon and Venus a few nights ago
Sunrise on the ranch

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s Not My Baby; She’s My Mother

The clean up has been going better than expected. Even stains that I thought would never be gone have disappeared with a little elbow grease and pressure wash. I finally took down the large, Lexan storm windows that covered the 7-foot salon windows yesterday. They had been in place 7 years, 3 months, and 4 days, buts whose counting.

I also removed the newer 1/10” acrylic panels over the pilot house windows. Getting up this morning, the boat is noticeably cooler. While I never needed the storm windows for storm or wave protection, this boat is designed too well for that, as insulation, they were great, stopping all condensation on the inner windows no matter how much cooking was going on, as well as keeping the boat warmer, allowing us to keep the Wallas diesel heater on minimum pretty much all the time when it was on at all.

As I thought about how the “storm” windows were never needed for their intended purpose, I was reminded of a story Thien (our son) related to me about a talk he had with his mother who had been terrified of the first waves (2 to 3 feet) she had encountered on Dauntless. He told me that in trying to comfort his mother he had cupped his hands together and rolled them back and forth, pointing out to Ti that his hands represented the boat, and we were nestled inside. That rolling of the boat was how the boat protected us from the seas and the boat was like our mother protecting us from the dangerous things in the outside world, just as she had protected him growing up.

Just as our mothers protect us, Dauntless does the same.

And maybe sometimes we get a kick in the ass.

As I was finishing taking pictures of the outside yesterday and most of the inside, since I had promised pictures to one and all, I slipped on the swim platform, which is about two feet from the dock. Into the water I went, cell phone and all. I wasn’t worried about getting crushed by the boat since I had tied her in a way so that she could not move further back (or forward for that matter). TI came out and pulled my cell phone from my pocket and then helped me out.

In the eight and a half years of having Dauntless, I have never fallen in the ocean. Never. Too many times to count, I have ventured out on deck to take a comfort break, holding on for dear life literally.

Once out and clearly uninjured the only damage having been done to my 3-month-old Samsung S21 which is now DOA, Ti spent the rest of the day muttering to herself in Vietnamese as to what a stupid husband she has. No translation was needed. She had told me numerous times this week not to get on or off that boat

So here I am waiting for daylight so I can take pictures again with Ti’s phone, which I am normally not allowed to touch.

Wish me luck.

 

Dauntless as a Depreciating Asset

It is. I can’t refute that. Basically, we each see Dauntless in a vastly different light.

Dauntless in Gdansk Poland

My light started in 2011, when my then wife (Julie) and I first saw the Kadey Krogen that would be renamed Dauntless two years later when we bought her.

Julie and I talked and planned for four years before even stepping on the decks of Dauntless. We had a single vision: being able to travel anyplace, affordably, and safely in our own boat.

As a reader of this blog, you know the story, the mission I have been on for the last 10 years, so I don’t need to repeat it here, but without Julie, there is no Dauntless, no Atlantic crossing, no nothing.

In 2014 we planned and even a map, showing our route for the next four or five years, ending in Korea, a special place for both of us. Our planning gave us a confidence that enabled us to leave Cape Cod one morning in mid-summer and head due east into the unknown.

Both of us were explorers with the curiosity that comes with seeing, doing new things. We weren’t fearless, far from it, we both could and did get scared in the dark. But being in the cocoon of Dauntless somehow made us not fear the darkness, the ocean or anything else.

We both decided that we would fear what we could see. Thus, full AIS to avoid getting run over by a big ship, but don’t worry about the semi-submerged container that we can’t see in the middle of the night. The seas of the North Atlantic at summer’s end are still tame yet will show us why we don’t do this in October. It also gave us the confidence by seeing how well we did in 15-to-25-foot seas for days on end.

When we looked at Dauntless, we saw Adventure & Travel, in a safe, economic package. A boat that we could afford to run across oceans and that was truly at home in any sea. The Kadey Krogen was the prefect boat for us.

Now 30,000 miles and a couple of oceans later, we could not have found a better boat, no matter the budget. This story sums up my feelings well. https://dauntlessatsea.com/2019/09/19/leave-the-dance-with-the-one-you-brung/

When my life’s path changed in 2016, with our divorce, I kept going on the momentum of the plan. But the cruising became less and less fun. It became more of getting from point A to B. For the slog up the west coast, I had the help of some good friends who came to help at various times. That made it tolerable, but the fun and adventure were missing in action.

I didn’t really understand this as well then as I do today. My mission had changed or more likely, I had added another mission. In 2017, while Dauntless was in Costa Rica I went to Viet Nam for the first time. Military history has always been a passion of mine, especially after my first tour in Europe when I joined the USAF. So, I knew more than most our squalid history of the Viet Nam war. While I did participate in one march against the war in Seattle in 1970, it was also clear to me, unlike others, that Jane Fonda was a propaganda tool of the North Viet Nam government.

But I had learned a lot more since then and was looking forward to this new adventure. Having been in a virtually every country, except Hungary, in Europe over the last 40 years, I knew Americans were liked more the further east one went. In other words, ex-communist places appreciate the USA more than most and far more than is portrayed in the American press.

Long story short, I loved Viet Nam and I have never been in a country where Americans were loved more. When a store would want to promote a new product, they would display a giant American flag, or better yet just paint the wall of the store with the stars and stripes.  With Ti and Thien in my life my mission had changed.

Trump on cover of school notebook (blank). Yes, He is more popular than Lincoln. Why? Because he stands up to the Chinese, unlike Lincoln. !

This explanation is to let you, the loyal folks who have followed my travels for so long, in time and distance, understand that this is not simply because my current partner sees Dauntless differently, as a depreciating asset.

And to be clear, once and for all, our divorce was not because of the boat, but simply because Julie had started a school and that school needed her more than Dauntless or I did. It was a sentiment that I fully understood for I lived by the same creed. Whether it was the USAF or the NYC DOE by job, my mission came first. I could expect Julie to do no less and I always loved her and respected it for it.

That was five years ago. As I said, the momentum of the plan got me back across the Atlantic and into the Pacific Ocean. Two years of a sedentary life in Wrangell have helped me to understand that Dauntless wasn’t made to sit. She likes going new places and seeing new faces. I’m also not suited to be a snowbird. I’m a gypsy. In Ireland, gypsies are called ‘Travellers”. that’s an apt name, maybe even a better name, since gypsy implies homeless, while traveller, which brings to mind, Lee Marvin’s hit song from Paint Your Wagon, https://youtu.be/-jYk5u9vKfA

As said in my last blog, we’ll all three be heading to the PAC NW next month, while Dauntless is in Wrangell with my brother, who will take her out on his own over the next two months.  I’m looking forward to the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous. I’ll meet a bunch of great people, some of whom I have known only by email in the past years.

I’m also planning for the winter and getting Dauntless ready. I’m thinking now of bringing her down to Seattle. But if I do that, it’s backtracking and that means it will be a one-way trip.

 

If you are interested in the Viet Nam war, two books and lectures you may find interesting are:

https://www.amazon.com/Two-Cows-Aint-Half-Bad-Vietnam-ebook/dp/B01N6ES1VA/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=For+two+cows+I+aint+half+bad&qid=1629214349&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Dereliction-Duty-Johnson-McNamara-Chiefs-ebook/dp/B004HW7834/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3KNBHNHL86QD3&dchild=1&keywords=dereliction+of+duty+by+h.+r.+mcmaster&qid=1629214408&sprefix=diretliction+of+duty%2Caps%2C246&sr=8-1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPcEPdfEGto

 

Mutiny on the Dauntless

In 2018, I moved to Alaska, then a year later, I brought Ti and Thien to join me for our Dauntless in Alaska adventure. Those regular readers of this blog and my friends who follow just to keep up, know I like to keep it simple.

Dauntless in Horta, Azores with the moon rising over Mt. Pico

Make the Plan; Do the Plan.

Dauntless in Spain 2016

For the past 10 years, the plan has been simple, keep moving forward:

  • In 2011, it was to acquire an affordable ocean crossing boat, which meant a Kadey Krogen.
  • In 2013, we acquired Dauntless and outfitted her to cross oceans and gain experience to do so.
  • 2014 was the first Atlantic Passage, England to Ireland via the Azores,
  • 2015 was the Baltic & North Sea adventure, showing the flag from eastern Finland thru Scotland,
  • 2016 exploring the west coast of Europe, from Scotland to NW Africa, coming west again at year’s end
  • 2017 the Panama Canal, Central America, Mexico and finally,
  • 2018-2019 the long, hard, never to do again, slog up the west coast of North America to Alaska.

But it’s now 2021 and Dauntless has become restless. Two years in the same port is not something we are accustomed to, though Alaska is a great place to live and boat.

Looking back at the original plan of 2013 and 2014, would have put Dauntless in Korea by now. That was always the near time goal from the inception of the idea to its realization. Having done the hard work of coming north along the west coast, it would be relatively easy to head west into the Aleutians. Then, it’s a short step, 1200 miles, 9 days to Japan.  So close and yet so far.

But the air smells different.

Last summer, my brother, a long time Alaskan, who retired to Las Vegas a few years ago finally realized the fishing sucked in Vegas, at least for the aquatic kind. So, he came up with the idea of joining us on Dauntless for the summer 2021. Now, I love my brother, I grew up with him, so the idea of spending months with him, left a lot to be desired.

Thus, I figured it would be a perfect time for a vacation away from the boat. We planned for this summer and fall. He would be on Dauntless, while the three of us, would be visiting our friends in Texas on their beautiful ranch about 20 miles WSW of Austin. Texas Hill Country.

Texas Hill Country with pool !

We spent June showing him how to run Dauntless without hitting anything. It also gave me the opportunity to go through all the boat systems to make sure everything would run smoothly for him. Other than the watermaker and bow thruster, all systems were doing well. I made a few check lists for him, or I think I did, or at least I thought about making some checklists, but as I sit here, I am not so sure.

A nearby creek

We ended up flying down to Texas the very end of June. We are doing an opposite “Snowbird” (many “Alaskans” fly south when the first snow flies in October until May).

More hill country

Thien will be going to Oregon State University this fall. Ti and I will drive him out to the PAC NW in September. We’ll also visit friends along the way and in Seattle. Then at the end of the month, I’ll attend the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous, a first for me. I’m looking forward to meeting a whole new bunch of Krogenites.

But in the meantime, the air smells different, I smell dirt!

But now I have a mutiny on my hands. The plan was to stay here until Thien goes off to school this fall. My brother would be on the boat in any case, so no worries there. But now, Ti likes it here and says there is more opportunity for her here (That’s certainly true). Best of all, she loves the kitchen in the very big house.

For when it comes to Dauntless, Ti can only see a “Depreciating Asset”. Now, I love Ti and the Vietnamese in general for their hard work, pragmatism, and ingenuity, being able to make do with what they have. But Depreciating Asset is a bit harsh.

Thank God for Small Favors

Bringing Cari, a KK42,from Bodega Bay CA to Gig Harbor, WA Part II

Cari docked in her slip (second boat from right). the finger is on the starboard side, with a sailboat on the port side.

 

After that first 24 hours, winds and seas became more southerly and lessened in strength. So, the rolling slowly subsided over the next four days until we rounded the corner for the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We have about 15 hours left to Gig Harbor, but this would be our last night out. It did cause a little excitement for me.

On Dauntless, I understand my Raymarine E-80 radar very well. Since the first day, back in March 2013, when I turn on the engine, I also turn on:

  1. Radar,
  2. Navigation lights,
  3. VHF radio,
  4. AIS transponder,
  5. Horn,
  6. Auto pilot,

I’ve just found it best practice to always have all equipment powered and running when underway, day or night. This precludes forgetting to turn on Navigation Lights when it gets dark and most importantly, allows me to always see what the radar sees in good visibility and even more critical, to investigate items it’s not seeing (no returns), but are obvious enough looking out the pilot house windows that there is an object I certainly want to avoid.

When that happens, I just re-adjust the radar’s gain and filter, so that it shows me what it should for the current sea state.

This allows me to have total confidence at night and in poor visibility situations. Obviously, on a different boat, with a different radar, that is not the case.

So far on this trip, I found the radar somewhat typical, in that it seemed to work pretty well, but at times, it either showed too much sea clutter or not enough.  Something to keep in mind.

Thus, that last night, being off the ocean and now in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, there was other traffic, navigation markers, etc. to deal with.

As we passed as few miles off of Port Angeles at Oh-Dark-Thirty, I saw a white light ahead, seemingly very close. I checked the chart, there should be nothing ahead for three miles, more than 30 minutes away. But there was a note about log booms in the Port Angeles harbor. We were near the harbor entrance, could this light denote a log boom?

Looking at the radar, I saw nothing, but as I said, I did not trust this particular radar that much to rely on it. That left my eyes and brain. As we know, our eyes and brain coupled with a vivid imagination, can do wonders at night. In particular, almost everything looks closer.

My brain was telling me that this flashing white light was close, almost too close. 

Being responsible for someone else’ boat, made me even more cautious than usual. I decided that caution was called for and turned the boat 90° to the north. At worst, I’d waste a little time, but at best I would avoid imminent disaster.

After turning and heading north for 5 minutes, as I watched the light (that I had turned to avoid), its bearing had hardly changed.  Umm, that meant that this light was not close at all but far way. Confirming what the radar had been telling me all along. I felt a bit embarrassed, but there were no witnesses and I felt good that I had chosen the safer choice, even if I wasted some time.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. Our ETA to Gig Harbor was about 13:00 and we decided that I would pilot the boat into the harbor and dock her, since I had a few dockings under my belt.

I decided that this was not the moment to recount the story of my first docking in Poland, where after docked, my friend said to me, “It’s a rub rail, not a crash rail”.

I was a bit nervous, never having seen the slip before and knowing it would be very narrow, at the almost end of the channel, leaving one with few options in case of a missed approach.

As you can see from the attached pictures, one from land looking at Cari in her slip, with a sailboat on her port side, the finger pier being on the right or starboard side and the overhead google shot, it is a narrow fairway.

Overhead Google view of Gig Harbor and I have put pin over the spot we would dock in

In spite of my nervousness, I decided I just had to dock as if it was Dauntless. I stayed to the right as we entered the fairway, trying to give myself as much room as possible for the left turn into the slip. I knew there was a sailboat docked on the left, with the narrow finger on the right.

With the Kadey Krogen’s high bow rise blocking the near forward view, I knew I had to trust my instincts. As I turned sharply left, I put her in neutral to reduce our forward speed of 3 knots. Seems fast, but steerage below two knots becomes problematic. The KK will turn very sharply, with a single screw and even without bow thruster. At full left rudder the bow pulpit was swinging over the finger. I knew to let it go well over the dock, in spite of appearances. Finally, with about 10 feet to spare forward to the dock, I put her in reverse and gave her a shot of power to kill our forward momentum. This also adds a kick to the stern to the right. The KK42 has a left-handed prop, so the stern is always trying to walk to the starboard, whether going forward or reverse.

Normally, I would have the person on the lines, put a line on the first cleat possible, then tie off at the midships cleat on the boat. Then use that with full left rudder and forward gear to push the stern against the dock finger. But in this case, it wasn’t needed. The surge of reverse, put the stern again the finger, stopped our forward way and the boat was perfectly parallel to the dock as it came to a stop, with the bow 6 feet from the forward dock.  We hadn’t touched the sailboat to the left, only a few feet away and we hadn’t bounced off the finger.

I was a bit astonished. As it was by far one of my best dockings ever.

Thank God for small favors.

I could finally relax for the first time in the days and weeks leading up to this trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology Can’t Replace Your Sense of Smell

I know I haven’t written very much, because not much has happened being somewhat stationary for the last two years and unlike the Discovery Channel, I can’t make drama out of nothing.

My amp meter showing a +4 amp draw

During the last dozen years, I’ve seen more and more cruisers adding a video surveillance system to their boats. Being able to see the engine room at all times from the pilot house, certainly looks attractive, but I feel it can provide a false sense of security.

My brother will be on Dauntless for the summer. Last week, we took Dauntless out to show him some of our favorite fishing sites. In getting ready for his arrival, we did a real spring cleaning. Dauntless has never been a smelly boat. In large part because the second owner replaced all the non-copper hoses on the boat’s sanitation system and engine. That makes a big difference.

But a Wrangell winter is an incubator for mold and mildew. We run an Invation Dehumidifier all winter, on high at night, it would warm the salon to high 60’s and lower the humidity to mid-30%. During the day, we run it on low. I plumbed it into our gallery sink drain, so I never have to empty the water container.

So Dauntless smells pretty sweet, even before the spring cleaning.

Thus a few days later, after my brother’s arrival, the boat was permeated by a new odor.

And no, I did not think it was my brother! Because it was clear that it was coming from the engine room. My first thought was that during the spring cleaning the previous week, we had even cleaned and organized the lazzerette. Because of a loose drain hose, there was a large container in the lazzerette that was full of water, maybe 20+ gallons of smelly water. To heavy to lift out, I decided to just empty it and it would run into the engine room and be pumped out. I then hosed down the lazzerette and really didn’t smell any thing foul anymore.

But now a week later, I was wondering if that smelly water, had found a space to fester. Also, the previous week, we had anchored in a place that while hauling the anchor, a significant amount of seaweed and kelp was on the chain. We pulled most of it all as the chain come up but didn’t wash the chain.

So, I wondered if the odor was being caused by organic material.

Between the stanky lazzerette water and the chain locker, I thought it was possible this was the cause. I ran all the chain out in about 15 feet of water int eh harbor. We also took soap and bucket and scrubbed the bilge and chain locker. While all the chain was out, I decided to also put a small plastic basket on the bottom, that once crushed by 500 pounds of chains, would still provide a few inches of clearance keeping the chain locker drain clear of line and chain. In 8 years of Dauntless life, our chain locker has never had a strong odor and wanted to keep it that way.

Half a day later, all done, the engine room did smell better, but the malorious odor was still noticeable.

We’d be going out the next day. Maybe the engine room just needed an airing out?

That next evening, while on the hook, the odor was back, as bad as ever.

The odor had a strange aspect to it, almost organic, like something dead, but also a bit like plastic.

This same evening, the first one away from the dock and shore power, I noticed a 5 to 10 amp draw that was unaccountable. I turned everything off, finally even going to the extreme of turning off the boat computer, something I never do while away from the dock, as it is provides my primary navigation, GPS and AIS.

With the boat dead quiet, nothing on, the current draw was now almost 8 amps, 96 watts. This meant that someplace on this boat, I had the equivalent of a 100-watt bulb burning and that produces a significant amount of heat. It should be noticeable.

Ah ha. I had it. I must be one of the house bank batteries. They were 5 years old and already shot. 90% of the house bank was powered by my one LiFePO4 battery of 200 amp-hours, while the three old lead acid batteries were providing about 30 amp-hours in total. So, it made sense to me that one of the batteries was bad, shorted out and pulling power from the good batteries.

This was confirmed when I checked the current draw with a clamp on amp meter and sure enough, I could see 6 amps coming out of the house bank.

With much anticipation, I was sure I found the problem. I got my IR temperature gun, opened up the two battery compartments and expected to see the problem.

First battery, the only one on the port side, sharing the box with the Li battery was 84°, that seemed ok, since the Li battery was warm as it was doing most of the work. OK, then it must be one of the batteries in the starboard box.

Opened the starboard battery box with even greater anticipation, both batteries were cool, only 74° and the current running thru each battery was less than one amp.

There is also a Perko switch in the engine room electrical distribution panel. This allows me to switch from the start battery to house bank to start the engine. I’ve never used it. And when I did switch it, the draw remained the same.

Stumped again.

There is also a similar Perko switch in the salon distribution panel. It allows me to switch the house bank source from the house bank to the start battery (a relic of the old system, which had no start battery, but used the house bank to start the engine).

Stumped yet again.

Back to the engine room distribution panel.

Using my trusty amp meter again, I noticed a 5 amp draw that ran to an isolator, then a 100-amp fuse. This isolator is not to be confused with the two 120-volt isolators I have on each of the 120 circuits. This was on the 12-volt system and frankly, I was unclear what its purpose was.

Returning back to Wrangell the next day, I was egger to call my friend and electrical genius and Kadey Krogen guru, Dave Arnold in Fort Pierce. He’d help me figure it out.

And he did.

I knew my start battery and house bank batteries were separated and sort of knew they were charged separately, but not was well as I had thought.

David asked me if I had checked the current in the negative start battery cable. I hadn’t. He explained to me that the 12v isolator was how I charged by start battery. In simple terms, it lets a small amount of power go to the start battery as needed, but won’t pull power from the start battery, no matter the state of charge of the house bank.

My 12 volt Engine Room Distribution cabinet

My start battery, installed by David in fact, was now 8 years old. It had to be the culprit. Simply put, it had an internal short and was draining the house bank at 5 to 8 amps continuously.

As I opened the battery box cover for the start battery, the heat and bad smell hit me. The battery top was 154°F. I disconnected it; we pulled it out and put it on the dock. Two hours later it was still 100 degrees.

Video surveillance wouldn’t have smelled that until it went up in flames.

 

 

 

 

 

The Polar Bear Club

Hardy souls waiting to go for a dip.

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.

Our Marina on a rare sunny day

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:

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenew

For a longer look at Wrangell’s New Year’s dunking, check out, (no translation needed):