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.

 

 

There, But for the Grace of God, Go I

While I was stressing about my scratch, I got an email that referred me to this link about Ghost Rider, a Nordhavn 47.

http://mv-ghostrider.blogspot.com/2016/09/08-aug-ghost-rider-down.html

It’s a heart wrenching story; difficult enough to live though, probably even harder to write about.

So that ended my pity party pretty quick.

I had a close call with a submerged jetty in Florida.  We’d only had Dauntless 8 months at that point.  For something so dangerous, basically a rock wall just under water, the charts whispered Danger, instead of yelling it.  I slowed and finally figured it out in the nick of time.  It is one of the reasons I now travel with two navigation programs running.  When the situation gets complicated a second view is extremely helpful.

The chart data is not incorrect; it’s just our mind is not seeing what it expects.  Therefore, it tries to come up with a logical explanation based on its initial (false) assumption.  A dangerous false path.  A primary cause of aircraft accidents in fact.

And it happens in the classroom all the time, especially in science, even more so in Earth Science.  In Earth Science classrooms students are learning concepts for everyday physical occurrences that they see all the time, like phases of the moon or why the sun rises in the east.  But long before they step into any classroom, their minds have already developed an explanation.  Many times, that initial explanation is incorrect, though logical with a limited number of facts.

A Harvard study looked at this phenome using Harvard students, who presumably had had a good science education just to get into Harvard in the first place.  They found that students, even after having been taught the correct explanation for various physical phenomena, generally reverted back to their initial false explanation.  In other words, it is difficult to un-teach concepts that have been incorrectly conceived. (This was a major focus of my second Master’s, in Science Education).

Tragedies happen because even in the face of new information, facts on the ground so to speak, we ignore what’s in front of us and keep trying to fit what we’re seeing with our initial explanation.

Earlier this summer, cruising south along the coast of Ireland, we were cruising at night because of the tides and currents.  I see a red light in the sky off in the distance.  Looking at the chart, the only explanation I could come up with was it looked like a radio tower on land about 10 miles in front of us. I don’t see any other lights, therefore it’s not a boat, otherwise I would see some combination of red, green or white light, at least two out of those three.  There was nothing on the radar within 3 miles.

The seas were a bit rough, so we were bouncing around a bit and I attributed the movement of the red light to that, since radio towers on land don’t move.  I periodically look at this light for the next 15 minutes.  I’m sitting in my usual spot on the starboard side of the bench seat in the Krogen pilot house.

About a minute from impact, I realize it’s a sailboat coming directly at us. I grab the wheel, turning hard to starboard. He passes about 100 feet off our port side.  I hail him on the VHF radio, “Sailing vessel showing a top red mast light”.  He doesn’t answer, but his light suddenly turns white.  Yes, he was moron, but I let him get so close because initially my mind had decided I was looking at a light far away and it then tried to fit that assumption to subsequent facts as they materialized.

Most of the time we catch it in time; sometimes we don’t.

Ghost Rider, RIP

 

 

Why I Am Not Afraid

 

The New Dauntless As Tasty As Ever
Dauntless – As Tasty As Ever

Being in the New Ross Boat Yard daily, now in the spring, almost daily I run into people who ask me about our passage across the Atlantic.  They always ask if I was ever afraid.  Yes, inwardly I do roll my eyes, but now I have my answer down rote, I was never afraid, but certainly miserable at times.

Every once in a while, sensing they actually may want a more reasoned response, I start talking about Kadey Krogen and this KK42 and what makes her so suited to where and how we go; at least until their eyes glaze over.

Knowing almost nothing about fiberglass, other than it’s made of fiber + glass, I have been talking to Gary Mooney, the GRP (fiberglass) expert of the area who has been working on Dauntless this winter and has a lifetime of experience with it on boats and all sorts of other objects.

We’ve talked about the repairs he made on Dauntless, first there were two problems in the hull:

  1. The four-foot-long hairline crack that I put in the hull the past July in Finland.
  2. An older, badly repaired, thru-hull fitting, also in the forward bilge, that was haphazardly done and allowed water into the hull and was the source of the water in the amidships-forward compartment bulkhead.

So this got us talking about the Krogen hull, in particular, which is a cored, also called sandwich, hull:

  1. there is a layer of fiberglass,
  2. then the core, in this case, a white non-water absorbing Styrofoam like stuff,
  3. then another layer of fiberglass.
  4. This is then covered by a gelcoat layer, making the fiberglass impervious to water.
  5. Then a two-part epoxy coat is put on to protect the gel coat, Dauntless gets two coats of that,
  6. A “Tie-coat” comes next, this tie-coat allows the anti-foul paint to adhere to the epoxy,
  7. And lastly comes the anti-foul coating. I am going to try a semi-hard coating, purposely made for very slow boats like Dauntless.  It’s said to last 5 years and be smooth enough to slightly reduce fuel consumption. I’ll be happy if it lasts three years and doesn’t hurt fuel consumption.

This boat yard really caters to the commercial boats, so things like the anti-foul, are all things the fishing boats and trawlers (real ones) use and like.

So, talking of hulls with Gary, I asked him about solid fiberglass hulls.  It’s clearly touted in the USA as a “better” meaning safer solution.  He scoffed at that, saying that most of the fishing boats here use solid hulls to make them stronger in terms of cargo and heavy equipment, but it also makes them more fragile.

A cored hull has much more flexibility, thus I could hit a rock as I did and the hull flexed enough to crack both the inner and outer layers of fiberglass.  Had the hull been solid fiberglass, it’s likely it would have broken in big chunks leaving a meter-long hole in the hull.

This happened recently to a FV just off the coast. Had they not been minutes from shore, they would have sunk. I on the other hand, carried on for another 3 months totally oblivious!

A reliable source tells me that Jim Krogen was always a proponent of the cored hull (sandwich construction) and only succumbed to public perception in the mid-90’s when they changed to making solid fiberglass hulls, below the waterline.  Besides better shear strength (as my encounter with the rock showed), a cored hull also provides better acoustical and thermal insulation, when compared to solid fiberglass.  This past winter, sitting outside in the wind and rain, Dauntless was dry as a bone inside, while many other boats with solid hulls, had condensation running off the walls forming little lakes. My storm windows also helped in that regard.

Dauntless was no. 148 in the 42-foot series and was made in 1988.  Newer isn’t always better.

This is a cutout of the gunnel (upper hull) showing a layer of fiberglass on top of balsa squares.
This is a cutout of the gunnel (upper hull) showing a layer of fiberglass on top of balsa squares.

Our hull above the rub rail to the cap rail, the gunnel, also has sandwich or cored construction, but in this case, the core is much thicker, made of blocks of balsa wood and has an inner and outer wall for added strength. Also, cored hulls do provide additional buoyancy. Clearly one of the reasons that when hove-to the boat bobs morthan rolls in big seas.

Which gets to the basis of why I am not afraid.The same cutout from another angle. The squares of balsa are easier to see.

The same cutout from another angle. The squares of balsa are easier to see.It was certainly not due to my experience as a mariner!  I’m probably in the bottom 2% of experience as a mariner.

But I am probably in the top 2% of researchers and I know the difference between opinion and fact.

For 5 years before we purchased this boat, I read, I studied and I determined what capabilities a small (that I could afford) boat

needed to have to be able to travel the world, cross oceans and yet have the comforts of home. I wasn’t going to live like a monk after all.

That process of research and reading every story of ocean crossings I could find, led me to this Kadey Krogen 42.  I knew this boat could handle the worst conditions, whether I was miserable or not.

My friend Larry said it this way, when we got in those chaotic

This is what was cut out of the inner gunnel. The picture below is the piece on the right.
This is what was cut out of the inner gunnel. The picture below is the piece on the right.

seas, 6-12 feet, short period, from all directions, off the coast of France last summer, Dauntless just seemed to settle in and not fight it. We were hanging on for dear life and she was just motoring along, wondering what all the fuss was about.

James Krogen knew how to design and build a boat that could do anything asked of it, be it bringing us home from a week-end jaunt or around the world.

That’s why I’m not afraid.

 

 

 

Trust

Fasten your seatbelt, we’re going for a ride with a few curves; fast ones.

Dauntless in the Boat Yard
Dauntless in the Boat Yard.

I went by Dauntless this morning, on yet another damp, grey Irish morning that is the reason grass grows on concrete here.  The work on the boat this past winter is being done at New Ross Boat Yard, just across the river from the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

Gary, the GRP (fiberglass) guy, has fixed the damage I have incurred the last three years, mostly dents and dings from too many docking maneuvers in which the fate of the western world must have hung in the balance, or at least I acted like it did.  Just ask anyone who has cruised with me.

My encounters with the rocks of Finland on the other hand had a more lasting impression.  The second rock in particular hit the side of the boat, not under the keel, like the first rock. By hitting the rock on the side of the hull, I almost sliced the hull open much like the Titanic.

The reason we did not have the same outcome says much about the difference between quality Kadey Krogen fiberglass design and construction versus English ship building 100 years ago that in their rush used rivets with too much slag in them, making them brittle.

So due to my inattention, Dauntless ended up with a four-foot-long gouge that did produce a hairline crack that went through the hull.  It was not until three months later, back in the river water of Waterford, that I realized it was river water in the forward bilge and not rain water, though at most it was about one bilge pump out a day, only about one inch of water and again, I have always had a somewhat wet forward bilge so I assumed it was just more rain.

But Gary also discovered a crack in the bulkhead that separates the forward bilge from the more rearward section where the water tanks are.  I had seen water dripping from that wall for quite a while, like at least two years.  In fact, the paint had peeled away from part of the bulkhead.  When I had returned to Dauntless in the beginning of December, Gary had showed me this bulkhead and explained it was not normal and in fact it was cracked, possibly done when I hit the rock last summer.  In any case, we came up with a plan for him to repair that damage also and now it’s all done.

Gary also suggested that the good construction of the boat allowed that bulkhead to absorb much of the force of the impact, thus leaving only a hairline crack in the hull and not a gaping hole, ala Titanic.

Now while Gary is doing his part, he will also be painting the upper hull, refinishing the bottom and putting a sealant in the port fuel tank.  Michael, Stephen and Denise of the New Ross Boat Yard are also doing their part.

They are cutting additional inspection ports in the port fuel tank to allow Gary to apply the sealant.  Besides blocking the boat and strapping her down so that the 100 knot winds that hit this area during the winter did not topple her over, they also are pulling my old holding tank which started leaking once again, so I am replacing it with a new Vetus plastic tank.  They will also finally remove the line from my bow thruster which made it in-op for most of my summer cruise, as well as apply a new commercial grade anti-fouling.

While working inside the boat, they have been very impressed with the workmanship of the KK.  Even mentioning the quality of the wall in the engine room that walls off the fuel tank: the battens behind the plywood that itself is covered by soundboard in the engine room.

Now while I have already paid Gary in full for his work, I don’t even have a quote from the Boat Yard.  Michael said he would give me a ballpark figure tomorrow, (ummm heard that before), but as I drove out of the parking lot, I had not worries.

None.

I reflected on why and it came down to Trust.

Now I do have an idea of the cost, but only based on what I think I know.  I have a “great” figure, the “probable” figure and an “OMG” figure in my head, but it comes down to me being at their mercy.

But then we are always at the mercy of professionals we depend on, from our doctor to the bus driver.

Some people try to learn everything the professionals know.  They die young, very young.  I like keeping my life simple. Oh I worry about a lot of things, reflect on virtually everything, but when it comes to people with more experience than I, either I trust them or I don’t.

And if I don’t, I don’t do business with them, don’t have them as friends and don’t date them.

There is no other way. Only lawyers think they can force someone do what they don’t want to do. But notice lawyers work for others, get paid my others to do what they do. But ultimately, a bureaucracy is result of mistrust, it tries to regulate and specify everything and simply does not work.

When people say that the handshake is the contract, they are saying what I am attempting to say. It’s about trust. No amount of words on paper can make someone do something the way it needs to be done, if they do not want to do it.

So, it’s about trust. Have I been burned by trusting the wrong person, or more like, the wrong bureaucracy? Of course, but all I can is move on.  I want to be healthy and happy as long as I can.

Trust is what got me across the Atlantic.  Trust in my crewmate and even more importantly, trust in the boat. Knowing that this Krogen was designed and made for far worse conditions that I will ever see.  Without trusting your boat, it’s hard to go anyplace where the water is deeper than 5 feet.

So, cinch that seatbelt now, as thinking of the above I had another realization.

Hurtful at that.

I once went on a much anticipated trip with a woman I really liked to a foreign land.  She spoke the language, was native in it in fact, so it was a natural to let her take the lead and do the talking.

Within minutes of arrival, it was clear to me that this woman did not trust anyone. Maybe not even me.  But her obvious lack of trust of everyone around her, quickly produced so much stress for all concerned that the trip and our fledgling relationship were soon done.

I still have regrets about that, even though the last 12 years of my life have been probably the best years I have ever had.

So why the regrets?  Because I let this person down.  Someone I clearly really cared about, I was too slow to see what she needed from me: my confidence, my control of events, my telling her “don’t worry honey, I’ll take care of it”.

That’s probably all it would have taken.  It’s what I do 90% of the time, the only reason it had not happened that time was because of her language skills.  But I have been in many situations where neither of us speak anything and I have always found a way to get by and have a great time doing it.

I don’t like letting anyone down. Friends, colleagues, people I worked for & who worked for me, strangers, doesn’t matter. Never ever.

So while I focused on her lack of trust, I was blind that she had put her trust in me and I had let her down, horribly.

Horrible – a word used a lot in Brooklyn.

 

Ground(ing)hog Day II

Sans Bill Murray.

Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless
Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless

The evening of the [first] grounding, Julie and I, along with our NYC friends, Karen and Jason, were joined by our English sailing buddies, John and Jenny on S/V Shaka.

We celebrated our second successful tie to shore with a stern anchor with a bottle of Prosecco followed by a tasty dinner of roast pork shoulder, onions and red peppers all grilled on the Weber Q280, washed down by at more Prosecco and some Cotes du Rhone.

Good food, good company, good wine; no one can ask for more of life.

What the Chart Looks like
What the Chart Looks like

So I felt far better about the day’s fiasco and remembering my new life’s motto, All’s Well that Ends Well.

That’s what crossing the Atlantic has done for me; my sense of perspective was totally recalibrated, e.g. crossing the street, get run over by a bus, first thought, well, at least it didn’t happen while crossing the Atlantic!

Next day, we awoke to another beautiful day.  Blue skies, westerly winds, which were calm in our protected cove.  I had never slept so well on “anchor”.

Tied to an Island
Tied to an Island

The day’s plan was to move about 10 to 15 miles further east towards Helsinki, as we needed to return to Helsinki the next evening as Jason and Karen had a plane to catch to attend a wedding in NY in two days.

The challenge in Finland is finding a sheltered (from the wind) spot that is not in front of someone’s house, or even visible from said house.  In fact, they are a bit particular about that and in just a few days’ time, we would learn just how particular. But that drama is for a different day.

The challenge is to motor relatively slowly around islands that are everywhere, to find a sheltered cove, that we can safely motor up to, get someone on land to put a line around a tree and then deploy the stern anchor.  All the while also watching for houses, flag poles, stern buoys, docks and other signs of human habitation that must be avoided.

Not an easy task.

Our Stern Anchor
Our Stern Anchor

So as we enter a wide channel between a few islands, maybe a third of a mile apart, we spot some locals sunning themselves on the rocks.  What better way to find a place than to ask them for suggestions!

Another stupid idea that will cost me $$$, but how much is still to be determined.

So, once again, I am driving the boat, as we yell over to these Finns, hoping someone can not only speak English, but can give us a suggestion as to where we can go and not intrude on anyone’s space.

It didn’t seem we ever got an answer that we could understand, though I do remember they pointed out a rock to be avoided, about 200 feet off the end of their island and 200 feet in front and to the left of our heading.

No problem I say, I see it clearly marked on our charts.  I’m certainly not going to run over the little “+” that denotes a rock this time.

And I don’t!  But alas, it turns out I didn’t have to actually hit the “+”, but like tossing horseshoes, close also counts.

I’m turning the boat in a lazy 180° aiming along the route we had just come in on, I aim right of the rock going again about 3 knots. But not far enough to the right.

The wind is strong, 25 knots on our starboard quarter, about 120° relative to the boat, and when I look at the chart seconds later, I see that we are getting close to that rock and shallow area just off our port side.

I steer the boat more to the right, but not in that imminent danger mode, in which I push whoever is at the helm out of the way, and spin the wheel faster than the wheel of fortune; no this was more like, umm, that rock is getting close Jeeves, maybe we should wander a bit more the other way.

So in no haste apparent haste, just as the boat turns, we feel the now too familiar thumps announcing we have struck land once again.  Dauntless rises out of the water, but not like Moby Dick this time, more like a humpback whale, as we rise, but then slide off to the right.

Again stopping within 20 feet, tilted to the right, but still on the rock enough that I cannot extradite ourselves with a little reverse engine.

It’s a large rock.

Very large, maybe two to four feet below the surface, but at least a hundred feet long in the shape of a banana.  The “+” on the chart denoted, the highest point!, but not the full extent.

All my fault in any case.  I still got too close for no real reason and was again too sloppy in my helmsmenship.

Another lesson learned the only way one does seem to learn; the hard way.  But then as a teacher, having firmly believed that no learning is done unless work, sometimes hard work, is involved, I take my medicine that I so liberally dished out to others.

And I can only smile at that irony, but it’s really not ironic, it’s simply a fact of learning.

So again, we got about half way along the keel before stopping, tilted at an angle to the right, bow up.

Within seconds, literally seconds, a Finn and his son appeared in a little skiff, asking if we needed help to get off.  I had already put Dauntless in reverse, but just for a moment, and seeing no real movement, I did not try very hard, and stopped.

Since s/v Shaka was right behind me,  I figured why run the motor and prop hard so close to rocks, when they can pull me off.

But the Finn really wanted to help, he volunteered to go get his big skiff, with 150 horsepower engine, but I told him Shaka was right there and we would try with that at first.

He helped my talking the line from our boat to Shaka.  While that was taking place, I looked around and it was clear that the deep water was off our starboard stern quarter.

I asked Shaka to pull us in that direction and within seconds of him pulling, we were off.

I know there are now more scrapes and gouges, that will have to be attended to sooner, October, rather than later, the spring, but no visible damage and no holes or issues with the prop or shaft.  If I get the opportunity to pull the boat sooner, I will probably do that, just to make sure and develop a plan for the winter.

But let me tell you, while I felt lucky, as I had the day before, I hated the idea that I had used all of my lucky charms in two days, with another 50 days to go in waters just as treacherous.

Like the guy who speeds through the red light, once, twice, three times, sooner or later, he’ll get creamed; and on this trip I had already sped through too many red lights.

Well the friendly Finn suggested a place for us and I asked him to guide us.

He brought us a cove about ½ mile away (maybe the same place the sunning Finns had been pointing to?), but we decided it was too windy and I was frankly afraid to approach the shore (rocks) within 100 feet to see if the wind would die down as we got closer to shore.

So, he brought us to another cove, on the SE side of a rather large island.  There was an old stern buoy there, but he told us, while the island was privately owned, (as most of them are in Finland), he had not seen anyone use this mooring for years.  But no house was visible, so he was sure it would be OK.

It was a very nice spot:  no house in sight, the winds were calm in this sheltered location and we could motor slowly to the rocks on shore.  We decided to stay.

The procedure at this point, what with my extensive stern anchoring experience (at one and counting), consisted of checking out the spot by motoring, drifting really, to nose up to shore and if the nose of the boat can get to shore with enough depth under the rest of the boat, all is good.

Next step is to back up. Make a “U” turn to return to a spot about  150 feet from shore.  With the boat facing shore again and along the exact track we had just taken in to shore, we drop the stern anchor and slowly motor up the shore/rock again, letting out the rode as we go.

Then some intrepid soul, jumps onto shore or if too high, we use the kayak to get to shore to bring a line around a tree and return it to the boat so we may leave in haste if need be, without having to go ashore again.

Our ground tackle consists of a 100 foot ¼” line, a strap to protect the tree, my 40 pound Bruce with 10 feet of chain and 250 of nylon rode.

So far in the half dozen times we have done this, being so close to land, there is almost no force on the boat to push it away from land. So the bow line’s main purpose is just to hold the bow at a particular position.

Now, having the bow secure, the rode on the stern anchor is taken in just a bit.  Enough to hold the bow literally inches away from the rock in front of it.  This will preclude knocking, albeit quietly and slowly, against the rock all night keeping yours truly awake.  (Or until I get up, and pull in the stern anchor rode to put tension in it, dressed only in my birthday suit).  But that’s only happened once so far.

Our stern anchor is my old 40 lb. Bruce with the bent neck with 10 ft. of chain and 250’ of nylon rode that is really stretchy.  This was my third anchor rode set that had been stored in the lazerette.

Looking at all the fancy stern rigs boats in Europe have, I decided to actually use what I had for a season before spending (wasting) any more money.

I just unhooked the Bruce from the bow rode (50 ft. chain and 250’ line, got the old rode out of the lazerette and bough a plastic hose reel in Ireland.

Voila, done.

The anchor sits on the swim platform, its neck between the slats of the platform, the ten feet of chain in a plastic box also on the swim platform, with the rode running thru the stern hawse pipe to the line on the hose real.

Again, we had a great dinner.  Salmon I think.  I do love our Weber. Washed down by plenty of wine.  And then our German sailing buddies, Andres and Annette, found us. The evening ended with more empty bottles than I thought existed on the boat.

After recounting my tale of woe, we followed him out the following morning, late morning, as the evening before the four men, two Americans, one German, one English, partied like is was 1999.

This was such a nice spot, we returned to it a few days later after having been to Helsinki again to change out crew. Dana and Peter, also from NY now joined us for Julie’s last few days in Finland.

But this time, within a few hours of arriving, two women in a little skiff came by and asked us to leave since their brother was coming with his boat sometime that afternoon and evening.

So we pulled lines and anchors and decided to try to spot the helpful Finn had suggested a few days earlier.

Since we were now a single boat, both our sailing buddies had to press on west towards home, the spot was good for just one boat.

It turned out to be a wonderful spot.  Quiet, with a larger view to the north.  In fact, the spot we had moved from to make room for the brother was only a half mile away and clearly visible.

So another great day that ended well, well, almost well. The brother never showed up.

We were worried that something may have happened to him!

 

 

 

 

Spanked in Finland

60° North; 24° East, probably as far east as we will get in Europe this year.

Our first night in Finland
Our first night in Finland, bow to shore.

Since leaving Latvia, Estonia and Finland have been interesting.  Later this summer I will have to have a Baltic Sea recap, but for now, just a little saga that we have probably all heard before.

We got beat up a bit going between Tallinn and Finland, but what else is new.  Maybe we should have named Dauntless, “Windfinder”, because she certainly does that well.  The Dog Days of summer, high pressure, hot and windless; not.

We have the Cat Days, high pressure, but not so hot and always windy, 12 to 18 knots.  Why “Cat Days”?  Have you ever held a cat too long? How do you know it’s too long?  One second they are purring contently in your arms; then the stealthy too long switch clicks on, the nails come out and they use your body to spring away, faster than you can say, “kitty, why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to me put down?”

The Wind is Always Blowing
The Wind is Always Blowing

So why Cat Days, because you get up, go outside to marvel at the beautiful sky, just some wispy cirrus at 30,000 feet, not too cool, not too warm, you think it will be a perfect day for being on the water.

As you get underway, it is perfect.  You have managed to get out of your tight dock space without hitting anything, you call Port Control asking for permission to leave (mandatory in all eastern European ports so far) and they respond in accented English, yes we may, with a tone that says:  thanks for asking and knowing our rules, have a nice day.  A feeling of satisfaction comes over you.

It’s mid-morning, you want to make 40 miles, and winds are less than 10 knots, with little 1 foot waves.  The Kadey Krogen is slicing thru the water with that reassuring hiss that tells you all is well and this is child’s play.

Sunset in Finland
Sunset in Finland
The Cat Building of Riga
Speaking of Cats; The Cat Building of Riga

An hour or two later, not quite halfway, you’re feeling a bit off; not queasy, just not right.  You realize the winds are up to 15 knots, the seas have now built to 3 feet and you’ve lost a knot of speed as the combination of wind and waves slows the boat.

Paravanes out to reduce the roll, immediately, the roll is reduced 50 to 90% depending upon wind direction (less for a following sea, more for a sea on the beam).

Now you look at the speed and see that your speed is further reduced, the birds on the paravanes reduce our speed by 0.6 knots.

Umm, our 6 hour trip has become an 8 hour trip.  I contemplate increasing power to make up for the loss, but it just kills me to burn 50% more fuel to go an extra knot faster.

8 hours it is.

Today, since Tallinn, we are travelling with our new found sailboat friends, John and Jenny.  It’s nice to have thinking partners in new waters like this.  But they stay safely behind us.  What do they know that we don’t?

By early evening, our first time in Finland, we found a sheltered spot with no houses in sight, one of the criteria for anchoring in Finland.  The problem is, there are billions of islands and many times, it is unclear if there are any houses until the last moment, which means we must then turn around and keep looking.

The cove we find is OK, but we decide to try to find a more sheltered cove for the next day.

We use a stern anchor with 150 ft. of rode out.  I then slowly motor up to the cove, until our bow just barely kisses the rocks.  Some intrepid person must then jump on to the rock or land, and we take a line to a tree and return it to the boat, so that we do not have to get on land again when we depart.

So the next day, our first full day in Finland, we are scoping out a place to stop with simple criteria in mind: a house should not be in sight, especially an occupied house and it has to be on a lee shore.

Since there are millions of islands, there is a lot of choice, clearly too much choice for some simple folk like Julie and I.

Mid-afternoon, we are slowly motoring, looking for a place for the night, I see on both my Navionics and C-Map charts the cross signifying a rock dead ahead, about a half mile ahead, 2 minutes at 4 knots.

I’m steering and I say to Julie, we must watch out for that rock.

Julie sees that point I am talking about and acknowledges it.

We both promptly then forget about it, as we go back to trying to figure out where we can stop.

Until two minutes later, with a large bump, dauntless’ bow rises out of the water like Moby Dick.

We had been going slowly because there are so many obstacles, so dauntless stops as soon as I put her in neutral in about 20 feet, with the weight of the boat on the keel on the rock.

I put her in reverse and we slide right off.  I spend the next hour trying to feel any change of vibrations and berating myself for seeing a rock, plainly and correctly marked on the chart and then hitting said rock.  No vibration, no holes in the boat.  Could have been worse. Far worse.

Julie summed it up best:  Richard Sees the Rock; Julie Sees the Rock; We Talk About the Rock; We Hit the Rock.

My first mistake, was that I could have altered course a bit, but instead I tell Julie, make sure I don’t hit that rock.

My second mistake was to then totally forget about the rock.

In hindsight, knowing we were in rocky waters, I was going just above idle speed, about 4 knots, maybe a bit less.

This enabled me to get the boat stopped quickly, so I did not run over the rudder or propeller.

That was about the only thing I did correctly.

When I first saw the rock, I should have altered course so that in the “unlikely” event that I somehow forgot about it, I would not be heading directly for it.

So an hour later, as we had our dinner, we celebrated another day that ended well.

And I vowed to never do that again.

But as Sean Connery learned, never say never.

And my “never” didn’t even last 24 hours!

Life is Good

I’ve been out of touch.

I just got back to NY last week, but I have been somewhat discombobulated, in that I have not had my laptop computer because we had a little accident.

It’s dark; it’s 05:15 a.m., the Dublin bus leaves at 5:30.  I’m hurrying; suitcase is top heavy, because I put all my electronics in the top compartment, for easy removal at the airport.

It’s dark; I lean over the rail of Dauntless to stand the suitcase on the dock.  I let go and am stunned to see it topple over into the River Suir.  I jump off the boat onto dock, get on my knees, not worrying about my suit and fish the suitcase out of the water before it gets carried downstream in the swift current and floats off into the Atlantic.

I was pleased it hadn’t sunk and was not in the water more than 10 seconds.

Hopeful that my electronics had not gotten wet, laptop, tablet, Kindle and iPod, I didn’t have time to check as I had to literally run to catch the bus to Dublin. Only 500 meters, so the driver was able to see me scurrying up the last block, so he waited and I boarded the almost empty bus.

This was the milk run, taking an hour and half longer than the direct run, but finally, four hours later, at the airport, I open my suitcase.

Well, there were no fish inside, but everything was wetter than I had expected, though not dripping water, just wet, but not dripping water 🙂 I wiped everything dry and hoped for the best.

I was hopeful all would be OK.

When I got home to NYC, I let everything dry for two days before attempting to power up.

Wrong, right, wrong, almost wrong.

  • The laptop is still away having the mother board replaced. $200.
  • The tablet was fine.
  • The iPod needed a new hard drive $59 and then it took me a full day to get it to sync (I had to re-index the music files).
  • The Kindle took another three days to recover, but was then OK.

So, my lesson learned, even packed away, I will pack all electronics devices in plastic bags from now on.

But I must say, having crossed the Atlantic has changed my perspective of everything.

Incidents like this that would have caused all sorts of major anguish in the past, due to my own stupidity, are now just minor annoyances.

And for all those four hours on the bus to Dublin, I thanked the Fates for getting me to Ireland safe and sound, for landing me in such a nice land with wonderful, friendly people, like the bus driver who waited for me, which is so typical of the people in Ireland and lastly, I was thankful that the stupid bag hadn’t sunk or otherwise been swept away.

Basically, I’m much less hard on myself.

Life is Good and I can’t wait to get back on the water.