20180513 Three Times Fail – Cabo Falso Beats Dauntless Like a Rented Mule
Cabo San Lucas was the most un-Mexican, unpleasant place I’ve been in the beginning of time or at least since I’ve been cruising Dauntless for the last 7 years.
It was expensive, literally, 3x to 10x more expensive than anyplace else I’d been in Mexico. The epitome of a tourist trap; I thought I was in Southern California.
Unexpectedly, Ensenada, being much closer to California, was truly charming. I could have been stuck there for months and been happy, conversely, being stuck in Cabo waiting for weather for 10 days felt like a year!
So, this video shows me attempting to leave Cabo just days after my arrival. I was now alone again; Larry was going to meet in the next week and I was hoping to be in Ensenada by then. Once making the right turn to the west at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula, one heads due west to get around Cabo Falso, before turning northwest and then north to get up the coast. The winds are typically strong and right on the nose 15 to 35 knots. 15 is not pleasant, but is tolerable, high teems quickly becomes untenable for any length of time. Even under the best conditions, I would have a few hours of the strongest winds.
Sorry I don’t have more video of the worst moments, but when I’m being thrown around the pilot house, my last thoughts are on making videos.
Please remember to Like & Subscribe to my YOU TUBE videos, it makes YT like me better.
Getting or not getting “seasick” is a subject I have been meaning to write about for quite awhile now. I had partially addressed it in the excerpt below which I published two years ago. But I never made the follow-up post of my reflections on the subject and conclusions after the three month and 5,000-mile passage from North Africa to the Panama Canal. A video I made on our nice Christmas Day
That’s 5,000 miles in strong, 18 to 36 knot winds produced by the northeasterly trade winds. While these winds are called the NE Trades, because that is their long-term direction, the actually winds on this passage were NE through SE, with three distinct swells from those directions with differing amplitudes and periods. This produced 8 to 16-foot seas with relatively short periods of 6 to 8 seconds from the NE thru the SE. Not the most pleasant conditions, even for a boat like Dauntless that loves following seas. In fact, this was the most difficult conditions with following seas we’ve ever encountered.
Some of the worst conditions possible if one is prone to seasickness, with the boat corkscrewing its way across the Atlantic at 7 knots. I expected that as I got my sea legs, sea sickness would be just a bad memory. But no, in fact, it was to the contrary. It got me to wondering what was really going on.
Stress builds and crossing an ocean is stressful in the best of conditions. For one, my insurance does not cover me past 200 miles off-shore. So, abandoning ship is not an option. For another, with a three-week passage, you are asking every component to work 24/7 for that time period and if something does go wrong, how to minimize the damage. Therefore, it’s a constant weighing of risks, rewards. E.g. Can I fix this problem with the engine running or do I increase the chances of something else going wrong by turning off the engine?
This is what I had written two years ago, just days after leaving Morocco for the Canaries at the very start of my second Atlantic Passage:
Morocco to the Canaries
Four days on the North Atlantic, 600 nm, four days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, what could go wrong?
For one, we found the weak link on this Krogen, it’s me.
In my first year of cruising, I would get sea sick maybe a quarter of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like three-quarters of the time.
What’s changed? Who knows? I’m older, but usually one’s body becomes more adapted. No, I think the problem is in my brain.
When conditions are rough, I know to take a remedy or put on the Scopolamine transdermal patch. I’ve been using the patch for more than 3 years, now all of a sudden, the patch gives me a bad rash, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night before departure.
With nice cruising conditions, or I should say, relatively nice, with winds and seas less than 15 knots and 3 feet (1m), respectively, I never had to worry, now, if the slightest unexpected event happens, I get seasick.
This last episode was one of the worst I’ve ever had. But I’m not 100% sure it’s “seasickness”. It’s more like my body gets a whole load of adrenaline and then when crisis is over, my body doesn’t know what to do.
We were heading 240 degrees, with Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots, producing seas from the south of 4 to 8 feet.
The paravanes work most effectively with seas on the beam, so our ride was actually not so bad with a gentle rolling of 8 degrees to the lee side and 4 degrees to the windward side.
On the 3rd day out of Morocco, I was in the galley filling my water bottle, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravane bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken.
I purposely take my time and want to remain calm. I finish filling my water bottle. I go to stop the boat, neutral, idle, then up to the fly bridge to retrieve the pole and the broken bird.
Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much less. So, there was no big crisis.
The two spare birds are stored in the lazerette. The one that broke had been repaired in Ireland, as it had previously broken crossing the North Sea. So, I wasn’t too worried as to the cause. We had two spares in the lazzerette. The one on the starboard side was easier to reach, but as we tried to get it out, the fin of the bird became lodged under the generator exhaust hose. And the more stuck it became; the more stressed I became. I didn’t like the idea of leaving it as it, with its metal fin pressed against the exhaust hose and the wooden bird, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston. But after 10 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, unloaded the port side of the lazzerette and got the other bird that was stored on the other side of the lazerette.
It took just another minute to replace the broken one and we were underway again, finally 20 minutes later, having spent most of that time, trying to get the one bird out.
Underway again, all was OK, but I was feeling very strange. Very strange.
I went to change my clothes, as I was very hot, sweaty and covered in anti-corrosion oil I had sprayed liberally in the lazzerette before leaving.
But after changing my clothes, I felt worse; like overheating badly, I figured a shower would help.
I shower, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t even dry myself off. It was a bizarre feeling. I wasn’t able to stand up or move. I dragged myself to bed and lay on top.
I figure I just need a little rest, but had wanted to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK before we get underway again. So, after a few minutes, getting more stressed because I knew Micah and Dauntless were waiting for me, as I go to put on my shirt, I became violently ill. First time that’s happened in years, even though, I get sea sick a lot and have that miserable nauseous feeling, I don’t throw up. This time I did.
I finally understood that I can do nothing but lay on top of my bed naked. I couldn’t even dry myself off. I use what little strength I have to tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and to get underway.
I stayed on top of the bed and went to sleep.
Three hours later, I am up and OK. Like it never happened.
After I posted the above, my friend Dan added this comment:
“I have read of at least one person who has spent decades at sea who get sea sick every time they set to sea for three days or so. They, like so many, take a while to get their sea legs, and then they are just fine. What was interesting about this person is that they ONLY get sea sick when they are captain. If they are crewing on a boat, they don’t get sea sick at all. Their guess was that the stress of being captain was what caused the sea sickness.”
By the time we arrived in the Caribbean, I’d had two more stressful incidents and very similar physical reactions. Not only that, but suddenly, my skin was very allergic to the adhesive on this particular batch of Trans-dermal patches. So, I couldn’t wear it anymore and I’m left with these two quarter sized areas behind by ears of no pigmentation. No Michael Jackson jokes please.
I had also started to see a pattern. On Christmas Day, it was one of the calmest of the trip, with seas not more than 8 feet and winds in the mid to high teens. We saw whales that day and had a couple cruise with us for about 15 minutes. They were 30 to 40 feet in length and swam underwater next to the paravane bird.
Christmas being more important to my nephew Micah than myself, I wanted to make a special dinner, so I BBQed the last of four delicious Canary Island Tee Bone Steaks. The best ever.
As soon as I had served our dinner, I had that feeling of “seasickness” come over me. A bit of nausea and overall weakness.
Sitting in Martinique in the wonderful marina Le Marin, I had time to reflect on what was really going on. In all my cases of “seasickness”, the motion of the boat was actually less than it had been over any given period of time. Also, it was clear that I wasn’t sick before a crisis, I wasn’t sick during the crisis, but as soon as the crisis was over, I was sick.
Didn’t really sound like motion sickness to me, but more a reaction to stress.
I’s already stopped using the Transdermal patch and now I decided to not take any more seasickness medicine at all, when we left Martinique for the Panama Canal
I also decided to take a shower every morning before my watch and every night before bed. The shower in the morning seemed to calm me down. I had no idea why, but starting my day at a lower anxiety level seemed to make a significant difference.
From Martinique to San Francisco, a distance of 3,600 miles and 90+ days of cruising, in some of the worst seas I have ever encountered, I’ve taken an anti-nausea medicine only twice.
I now understand that that terrible “seasick” felling was my body adjusting to the lack of adrenaline that the stress had produced and my para-sympathetic system was now getting my body back to normal.
Clearly the shower in the morning or before my watch, makes a significant difference.
And then in the November 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, they did a book review of the book, Never-Home-Alone
And the shower in the morning starts to make sense scientific sense.
Here is the article from the Journal (bolding and underline is mine):
‘Never Home Alone’ Review: The Critters Chez Nous
In trying to rid our homes of insects, fungi and the like, we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Lisa Margonelli reviews “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn.
When Rob Dunn was a young ecologist he rummaged through rainforests in search of biodiversity. More recently he discovered another type of wilderness: In a study of 1,000 houses in the U.S., Mr. Dunn’s team found 80,000 kinds of bacteria and archaea hidden inside—that’s at least 10 times the number of bird and mammal species observed in all of the Americas.
He soon also unearthed in our homes some 40,000 kinds of fungi and hundreds of insects, many yet to be named by entomologists.
“I was ecstatic,” Mr. Dunn writes. “Back in the jungle again, albeit the jungle of everyday life.”
In his fascinating new book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Mr. Dunn brings a scientist’s sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home: In trying to make it “clean,” we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Mr. Dunn is a fine writer, wringing poetry out of the microbial explorations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who spent half the 17th century documenting all the tiny living things around him—in his neighbor’s mouth, in the snow, in cheese rinds and in wasps. Leeuwenhoek “was to become an astronaut of the miniature,” Mr. Dunn tells us, “all alone exploring a realm that was more diverse and elaborate than anyone but him seemed to understand.”
Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson’s guide to cutting-edge research.
Mr. Dunn’s larger purpose is to explain how the ecology of the home has gone awry. Once upon a time, we lived in leaf huts, with interiors that looked a lot like our outdoor environment.
Soon we moved to round houses, then square houses and finally to air-tight apartments in cities.
Now we close our windows, use products that claim to kill 99% of germs and have unknowingly domesticated bedbugs—so they adjust their workdays around ours.
Our homes no longer resemble the garden outside but have a weird human-centered microbial signature that is also found on the International Space Station, and that’s not a good thing.
The problem, according to Mr. Dunn, “is not what is present but instead what is absent. The problem has to do with what happens when we create homes devoid of nearly all biodiversity except that which falls from us and then, for twenty-three hours of the day, we don’t go outside.”
To understand how mundane and occasionally deadly this evolutionary project of ours is, consider the shower head. In many American homes, water is treated with chlorine and chloramine, which kill pathogens but not mycobacteria, a genus that includes the cause of tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, in homes with water drawn from wells, nonharmful microbes flourish, including mycobacteria’s natural competitors.
By wiping out all the other bacteria in chlorinated water, we create environments where troublesome microbes thrive and even evolve.
This has led Mr. Dunn, together with his colleague Noah Fierer, to find that mycobacteria in shower heads can accurately predict instances of mycobacterial infections, as well as the regions where these outbreaks are likely to occur.
And yet mycobacteria are not entirely bad. One species has been found to enhance serotonin production, which can lead to greater happiness and lower stress. Mice exposed to a species of mycobacteria are more likely to remain calm when facing a bigger, more aggressive mouse.
Might this also explain how a morning shower helps us deal with a stressful commute and a bad day on the job?
These twin stories—of scientific discovery right under our noses and the perilous impact of our unwitting genetic engineering—thread through Mr. Dunn’s book.
Cockroaches were once easily lured with glucose baits but have now rapidly evolved to dislike sweet things. Good strategy for the cockroaches, more troubling for us.
“Just as military specialists study the battles of the past to prepare for the future,” Mr. Dunn suggests that “we might consider our battle with the German cockroach in contemplating our own evolutionary future.”
“Never Home Alone” is a prescription for more biodiversity in the home and, more specifically, a plea for more attention to ecology. The more we understand how different creatures interact and influence our immune systems, the healthier we may be. But in the service of getting more people into ecology, Mr. Dunn believes the field needs to deliver tangible products.
He wants to systematically explore the species in our homes to determine which ones could contain useful chemistry. The camel cricket, a previously unnoticed and rarely studied thumb-size little bugger that lives—possibly by the billions—in American basements, has gut bacteria that can break down black liquor, a highly alkaline toxic waste produced by the paper industry.
The thief ant traipsing across your kitchen counter also produces an antibiotic that may eventually be useful against hard-to-fight infections. Personally, what I want to see is a home “makeunder “show dedicated to “rewilding” homes—similar to what you’d see on the Learning Channel, only more anarchic.
A bunch of giggling scientists show up at the door, toss the hand sanitizer, the shower head, the Sheetrock and the fungus-laden air conditioner.
In their place, they hand the homeowner a bar of soap, throw open the windows, install a ball of spiders to fight flies in the basement and start a batch of sourdough—all in the service of re-creating the garden indoors.
No doubt there will be tension in the idea of a wild domicile. Even King Tut, Mr. Dunn notes, was buried with a fly swatter.
Ms. Margonelli is the author, most recently, of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology.” ■
Day 13, Stbd deck view, seas 8 to 15 feet. An average day.
Day 14, View from the fly bridge looking east.
Day 14, I’m replacing the hydraulic hose in the lazzerette.
We are dead in the water and Micah didn’t like looking aft at waves that towered over the boat and then disappeared, as we bobbed on top of the wave. (View of seas at 2:40).
Day 14, I show the new hose.
Day 16, On our more steady days, we’d play a board game, in which I had glued a piece of non skid rubber to the bottom of the pieces.
Day 16, The only ship we encountered in the 3 week trip. Thank you AIS (for he avoided us).
Day 16, Our well travelled Kadey Krogen Flag on it’s second Atlantic Crossing
Day 16, Christmas, one of our best days. We had great steak dinner and had a whale with us for awhile.
Day 16, Our Christmas whale
Day 16, Christmas Dinner. I got “seasick” as soon as I finished cooking.
As I sit in my 10th floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, the People’s Republic of Vietnam this balmy January 2018, writing these words, I think back one year. I was in Martinique, in the Lessor Antilles, luxuriating in having just completed a harder than expected crossing of the Atlantic from North Africa to North America.
Vietnam wasn’t even on the radar and if it was, I thought it was a wave top. Impossible it imagines how different 2017 would end up.
So, how can a person who doesn’t have a clue as to where they will be in 12 months’ time write about planning?
And not only write about, but spend a good portion of every day’s waking hours thinking about The Plan? So much so that just a while ago, I found myself looking at the noonsite.com information about Taiwan.
Taiwan? wtf, he still hasn’t figured out how to get Dauntless out of Mexico, you’re thinking.
And right you are. So, I thought you would be interested in knowing or better understanding my planning process.
To understand my planning process, let’s look at my goal and some background information:
Long term, cross the North Pacific, return to Northern Europe & complete my circumnavigation.
Short term, spend a couple of summers in Southeast Alaska.
Near term, get Dauntless to California before next winter.
Dauntless is now in the wonderful little town of Huatulco, Mexico, in the little Bahia Chahue.
In 2016, once I made the decision to return to North America, I made an elaborate plan (published in some blog post last year) to transit the Panama Canal and cruise up the west coast of North America to SE Alaska.
Looking aback at the plan now, I stayed pretty much on time and on target, only transiting the Panama Canal a couple weeks later than originally planned, until Costa Rica.
Arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica in March 2017, the wheels then came off or a more apt description, I was beached.
What happened? A perfect storm of: local bureaucracy, my nephew who cruised with me since Ireland, had to go back to school and I met this wonderful woman in faraway Vietnam.
Returning to Dauntless in June, I needed to get moving north. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that I had visited in 2004 and had really looked forward to returning. But, it turns out, it is not really cruiser friendly. The few marinas are ridiculously expensive and the paperwork of checking in and out was cumbersome and confusing.
My newfound friend, Cliff joined me and we took Dauntless from Costa Rica to Mexico. Mexico, it turns out is everything Coast Rica isn’t. Cliff had to go back to work and hurricane season had arrived, so in reaching the wonderful town of Huatulco in August, I decided that enough was enough.
The Task at Hand is to get Dauntless from southern Mexico to California, 1800 miles.
Dauntless cruises at about 6.5 to 6.8 knots. thus a 24-hr. period is 150 nm. That’s the figure I use for planning. With light winds and small seas, then the planning exercise is about planning stops after a day of cruising.
Two years ago, in the Baltic Cruise, I largely ignored the weather and planned the whole 4,000-mile trip based on cruising days of 5 to 8 hours. Usually we would stay a few days in each town or city stop. But the pacific coast of North America is a whole different creature.
Climatology tells me that the winds are predominantly from the northwest (the direct I must go) 2/3’s to ¾’s of the time. I use Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas which has pilot charts for each ocean by month. Jimmy Cornell’s Pilot Charts also tell me the secondary wind direction and currents. June thru September is 4 months, 120 days. I figure that I will have favorable winds about ¼ of those days, or 30 days. I have 1800 nm to go divided by 30 days means 60 miles per day. No bad, about what I did in the Baltic in September.
But it also means that when the winds are favorable, I must make miles. The reality of seasonal climatology is best looked at and planned for over periods longer than a few weeks. In this situation, I can easily be stuck in port 30 days waiting for the winds. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a good period, 5 to 10 days of southerly winds. Depending upon where we are along the coast, it means we may do 48, 72 or even 96 hours to take advantage of our good weather window.
Now in this context, when I say “weather” I really mean winds and seas. I’ve left port on many stormy days. Rain, showers do not bother me, it’s really all about the winds and seas for my little Kadey Krogen.
The effect of head winds and seas vary greatly. 5 to 7 knots are hardly noticeable and may produce small seas, less than 2 feet. Dauntless will lose a few tenths of a knot under such conditions.
As winds off the bow become stronger, it all goes down rapidly from there. 12 to 15 knots produce 3 to 5 ft. seas, pitching become unpleasant and we’ll lose more than a knot of speed. 18 + knots are untenable from a comfort level. Too much hobby horsing and probably down to 5 knots, less with any counter current. This is what happened to me off the French coast going up the English Channel to Holland. We were making 2 to 3 knots in pure misery of pitching. Because of the conditions, I finally decided to abort to Ostend, Belgium. It took another 6 hours to go 15 miles. Some of the worst 6 hours I have ever experienced. The Kadey Krogen was fine, she takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The humans inside were not as happy.
What I took out of that beating was to more carefully consider winds and seas on the bow. A 20-knot wind from the stern is fine. We had 20 days of that crossing the Atlantic last year. Even 20 knots (and resultant seas) on the beam are ok. The paravanes are most effective with beam seas. Though I tend not to venture out in such seas if I am in port. 20 knot headwinds are untenable. Stay in port. If at sea, options are reduced, but probably a change in direction is warranted.
I use Windyty.com for my forecast winds. I tend not to look at forecast seas because the accuracy is seldom good enough to use in an effective manner. Though Windyty will give you the first, second and third swells.
Now when it comes to forecast winds, for whatever reason, the forecast winds are almost always understated, though I do realize it’s possible that I only notice the over and not the under. Thus, when winds are forecast to be 12 knots, that usually means 8 to 15 knots. If 8, ok, if 15 it’s a no go. So, in this case, I will use 8 knots for the Go-No Go decision.
From Huatulco to the Channel Islands, it’s only 1800 nm in three long legs. that’s basically the distance I did between Martinique and the Panama Canal. But with much more un-favorable winds and currents.
Top speed for Dauntless is about 8.5 knots, but it’s non-factor because it’s impossible to justify the double to treble fuel consumption for 2 knots. So, my effective (long term) hurry up speed is 7.5 knots at 1800 rpms and 2 gallons/hour. Thus, I usually keep it to 1700 rpms, 6.8 to 7.0 knots and 1.6 gal/hr.
In my next post, Planning is the Mother of Anticipation, I’ll discuss the Mexican coast, what options we’ll have, crew and hurricanes.
My Friend Alfa Mike asked the following, so I thought I would share with everyone:
>Do they speak a lot of English Language in Martinique or is it all French?
some English, once in a while, you need to know some basic French.
> What have you seen & experienced there?
This past weekend, we drove up north to see rain forest and volcano. Inactive of course, so not much to see.
> What have you done in the boat while there.? Repairs, upgrades?
at this point, there is still much to do. Not helped that yesterday I spent all day to do a 1 hour job. I hate working with wood, like the interior.
Working on electric in fwd bilge, adding small bilge pump.
Rewiring holding tank switch so that it can’t get turned on accidentally.
Micah patched dingy.
Rerigged paravane pole.
One pole needs to be replaced. Probably do that in Mexico or So Cal.
Also, rigged a preventer so windward pole will not go vertical when boat rolls heavily to lee side.
Finally finished 3rd 20# bottle of propane yesterday. Those 3 bottles were filled in Tallinn in July 2015. That’s 7000 miles ago. Luckily have two extra bottles that a sailboat boat gave me in northern France last summer as he was not going back to USA. I have not been able to get propane since Estonia last year, but am told I can in St Lucia. But I can wait till So Cal possibly.
Must still replace 2 hydraulic hoses and bleed system for AP and helm steering.
Complete oil change, i.e. fill engine with oil.
We’ll fuel again in St. Lucia, only to half full about 250 gal
Repair bracket for wx instruments on mast, the following winds (when we were stopped for Hydraulic line) managed to wrap paravane line around it and mangled it, because I was so happy to get one problems solved, I created another one.
Winds also broke stern flag pole. Same happened to Sweden sailboat docked next to us.
All 5 fuel filters are changed (2 Racors, 2 engine mounted and fuel polish)
Replacing all screws in rub rail is proving to be a real PIA. As they are rusted and not coming out. These are Inox screws I bought in Ireland and again in Portugal. Big f…ing mistake.
General clean up, still finding flying fish on fly bridge (where else would they be 🙂
Spent $200 on stainless steel screws.
Another $200 on oil and ATF for rudder steering
$200 on rental car for 3 days
Yes, everything is in increments of $200.
Finally took Icom VHF radio to shop, as my friend Pat in Waterford told me to do last year. It’s unfixable it seems. So, will take VHF radio from fly bridge and install in pilot house.
Is it Humid? Hot, a bit muggy, yesterday was first day without wind, so then the boat really heats up.Did I tell you I don’t like hot weather? Thus the 12 years in Alaska and two years with Dauntless in Northern Europe and now returning to first Southeast Alaska and then Japan & S. Korea.
>Now after all is said and done, In hindsight what would I have done differently?
In terms of places to go or not, it’s hard to say. Only having spent time in southern Spain and Morocco can I say that I would not have missed it. But had I not gone, how would I know that? It would have better financially and sailing wise to go direct from the bottom of Portugal to Las Palmas on Grand Canaria.
Should have spent some hard-earned money 3 years ago, to be able to use 230v, 50hz shore power to run ACs. I did try to get them to run off inverter, but the inverter produces a square sine wave and both the Splendid washer/dryer and the AC’s will not run on that.
I could have tried the transformer I use not for the water heater. It would supply 120v, but 50hz to AC. That swill probably work. But at this point, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Back in Southern Spain and Portugal when I was dying of the heat, I should have thought of that.
Yes, I could always run generator, by the 1 gal/hour at $5/gal fuel. Now, 8 hours is only $40 per day, but adding that to expensive marina at $55/day, that’s close to my desired cap of $100 per day.
Speaking of money. My average daily cost for all living and boat expenses is about $109 per day. Though I still have yet to update the last month, I do not think it will change significantly. This is also a few dollars below the previous year. So, all in all, the expenses are about what I expect. The proportion is also the same, 25% for each:
Fuel & oils
Marinas & docks
Food, groceries & eating out
, like cell phone, transportation, cars, trains, planes and automobiles.
> How do you like it in Martinique?
Love it. People, food could not be better. I am so lucky that I was told to head here when it became clear that I could m=not make the southing I needed to get to Barbados. It was only a 20° more southerly course, but with the large seas we had, it was not worth being beaten up.
In hindsight, Martinique is a much nicer place to clear in, eat and drink than probably anyplace in the Caribbean. Martinique is a Department (like a State) of France. Thus, it feels like France because it is France. It’s not the bureaucratic mess that Portugal, southern Spain and Morocco are.
FYI in terms of how they treat boaters:
Northern Spain, Galicia is just like northern Europe and France, as are the Cana.ries.
Southern Spain and Portugal were totally different, and not in a positive way.
I was told that it’s because of the Arab penchant for bureaucracy.
> How long do you plan to stay?
until sometime next week. Then heading south, a bit before heading west to the ABC’s
> Any comments you would like to make about the trip you just completed now that your more rested up?
Very glad I don’t have to do it again for another 18 months
Food, Fuel and Fools
Having left Honfleur, Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., we are through the lock to the Seine by 9:00 and we are cruising downstream at warp speed, 10 knots, speed over ground.
I’m finally enjoying my cup of coffee and morning croissant, though a faint order of diesel lingers on my hand.
We escaped, unscathed, so a little diesel with my coffee is acceptable.
We are feeding off the starboard fuel tank, little used since leaving Ireland. I want to balance the boat. I am running the fuel polisher, a larger fuel filter and water separator, which filters 90 gallons of fuel per hour. The only downside to running it while underway is that it does cause a slight reduction of fuel pressure to the engine. Though this has never been a problem.
As we exit the Seine, the color contrasts are marked. Brown mud color for the Seine outflow and blue-green for ocean water. We turn northeast, speed slows to just above 5 knots, but the current will change in our favor in the next hour.
A couple hours later, the current is favorable, but not as strong as I had hoped. At best, we are getting an extra knot. I decide I better check on the filters in the engine room.
I am surprised to see another 2” of water on the bottom (it’s a glass bowl) of the fuel polisher. I turn it off and drain the water. There is also a little water in the primary engine filter (there are two side by side. I can select either one or the other or both or none). I switch to the other filter and also drain the primary filter.
Our speed has increased to 8.4 knots. We are north and east of Le Harve and have about 170 nm to go to Vlissingen. I estimate our ETA of 04:00 Tuesday morning, using an average speed of 6 knots, which I think is on the slow side.
We are starting to roll a bit, only 8°, so we deploy the paravanes. We lose about 1/3 to ½ knots, but the roll is reduced to less than 2°.
I go check the filters again and now am dismayed to see a lot more water in both the primary engine and the fuel polisher (FP). In addition, the FP is showing a vacuum of 23”, with 10” being the point I should change it. It is full of crap and must be changed now. I am worried. It means there is far more water in that tank than I had expected. I must change them again, while underway, at least I think that should be no problem.
I switch the Racor to the other filter, and within a minute I hear the engine laboring; then die before I can do anything. I immediately think back to this morning when I had changed this filter and as I had primed it using the electric fuel pump I installed just for this purpose, I had not let the fuel spray out the top like I normally would to ensure the filter had no air. Instead, I half assed it not wanting to get more fuel on myself.
Sitting there bobbin in the English Channel was sort of peaceful. The engine room is almost cozy. It’s warm, not too hot and very little boat movement is felt. I think I should one day sleep down there, but won’t due to the little issue of possible carbon monoxide poisoning. (For that reason one should not cruise with the salon doors open).
OK, I tell Pierre-Jean to turn off the key and thus turnoff the low oil pressure buzzer. And I take my time changing the two filters and then priming all three again.
A few minutes later, all set, ask him to start the engine, it starts, I turn on the fuel polisher, the engine stops. Now, Pierre-Jean is starting to show concern in his voice. What’s happening?
I tell him, don’t worry, be happy, start the engine again. He does, it does and as I fiddle with the valves, turning off the electric priming pump, I am slow to turn on the gravity feed valve, so the engine dies once more.
A few shenanigans later. I reset everything, re-prime everything. Go to start the engine myself, because I know it will need a bit of throttle and it starts, slow at first, but within seconds, back to its normal pitch and ready to go.
While doing all this, I also decided enough of trying to see what is going on with the starboard tank, now; it was a matter of not wanting any more problems with fuel.
I switched back to the port tank, turned on the FP and it ran until docked 36 hours later. Vacuum never got above 3” no more water was seen in it or the primary engine filter.
We were back underway. The only problem with this kind of stuff is the anxiety it causes. For those next 36 hours, every visit to the engine room was filled with dread. Would there be water? Would the filter be clogged? Did I have two tanks with water in them?
As things got ever rougher, every check increased my confidence that at least that problem was solved. That’s a huge relief.
With the paravanes out, we look like really trawler, so for the second time, we got buzzed by a French military plane. I suppose wanted to make sure we were not trawling for real.
By Sunday evening, at 18:00 the winds were from the NE at 10 knots. Going into the winds at 10 knots is not a problem, at about 14 to 15 knots it starts to become an issue. Since one is going into wind driven waves the period of the waves from the boat’s perspective is reduced, causing the boat to pitch up and down more. This up and down motion, besides being uncomfortable, also greatly reduces the speed of the boat and conversely increases fuel consumption.
Our speed was down to 5 knots, little did I realize that we would never go as fast again.
By midnight, we were down to 1.9 knots. This was partially due to a reduction in rpms because of the oncoming seas, but I made yet another mistake my not think this through.
I had the watch until midnight, and then Pierre-Jean took over until 04:00. During that time I went to by cabin to try to sleep. But we were pitching more and more and I found myself bracing by feet against the wall at the foot of our bed every few seconds. I only got about one hour sleep in the four I was off watch.
As I came back on watch at 04:00 Monday morning, winds were now NE at 15 gusts to 20; seas were only 3’, but right on our bow and very short period. We were pitching about 3° up and down and the rolling was about 4° to each side. Speed was up again with the current to 4.5 knots. But again, I was not understanding that when the current was with us, it would give us a one knot boost for about 4 hours; yet when against us, it would be a negative 4 to 5 knots for 6 hours.
The winds were acting just as forecast three days ago: Less than 12 knots on Sunday, increasing thereafter.
Monday morning, faced with these facts, I should have planned a port for an early afternoon arrival. Pierre-Jean wanted to press on; but so did I. I simply did not want to deal with another country, Belgium. Getting to the Netherlands would make my life easier; form a new phone SIM to better rail transportation. Also, we would be in protected waters so it didn’t matter what the weather did.
All the right reasons for going on, but clearly ignoring the reality.
It had been 24 hours since our departure. Fuel and fuel filters were now OK. But winds were gusting to 20 kts and I knew it was not going to get better!!!
As I look at my log, even now, I am having a hard time understanding what I was thinking. The above rationale notwithstanding, by 14:00 our speed was down again to 2.5 knots, the winds were right on our nose at 20 gusts to 25, the seas were now 4 to 6 feet and our pitching and rolling had doubled from earlier in the morning.
Now was the time to bail out and head for a harbor. We were 12 miles from Calais! Going at our glacial speed it had been off the starboard quarter for hours.
We didn’t and paid the price for the next twelve hours.
A reminder, you can see the details of the route and the location of Dauntless at any time for this coming summer cruise anytime at: