Envy

So, I was reading the adventures of M/Y Dirona as she crosses the North Atlantic.

Check out Dirona’s Atlantic Passage

It made me envious; I know, that’s ridiculous, but still.

Dauntless has come so far

Dauntless spent two and a half years in Northern Europe because I knew we would like it. The weather, the people, the cultures all, the food, fit my number one criteria of staying off the beaten track and living well as I did so.

I Loved the Baltic, Sweden, Norway, Scotland & Ireland

That was expected. All the lands of coastal Northern Europe have a real seafaring culture. Every boat waves at you, especially fisherman. From Galicia in northwest Spain to the far eastern Baltic, it was a wonderful experience with minimal bureaucracy.

In those 2+ years, 20+ countries, 100+ stops, mostly in towns and cities, I probably spent less than 120 minutes on the formalities of checking in (Passports, boats documents, crew lists) and checking out.

No wait, there was no checking out.

The peoples, the lands, met and greatly exceeded my expectations.

Then, we headed south. 90% of all boats are south, mostly in the Mediterranean, you know, Italy, Greece, Turkey and southern France and Spain. Everyone wants to go there, so that’s a big Do Not Enter sign for me.

So, we headed south with low expectations. Little did I realize they were not low enough.

Prices trebled, temperatures doubled and bureaucracy was like a pig is slop. The first two stops in Portugal took the same amount of time as the last 100 stops of the previous two years.

And then it got worse.

In virtually every stop, 5 to 10 pieces of paper to sign to check-in; make sure you return tomorrow to fill out and sign the same papers to check-out. Don’t even mention the expense.

But you have read all of this before.  Turns out Martinique was the high point of the entire Caribbean. It’s almost weird to say that they were the least bureaucratic.  In fact, they were just like northern France.  But that was certainly the exception.

So now, having endured all of that and more to get Dauntless a quarter of the way back around the world, I sit here with envy of Dirona.

But I realize it’s not Dirona I’m envious of, it’s being in the middle of the ocean.

I’m a traveler, so when I’m not, I’ll always be envious of those who are.

 

 

Cruising on Dauntless

Sunset over Southern Sweden
Sunset over Southern Sweden, Anchored Next to Island

But before talk about the upcoming cruise 2016 and & 2017, we need to take a step back and look at what for me, made this summer so successful, my friends/crew who joined me and made the trip fun and interesting.

With Julie’s limited cruising time, but with us wanting to take advantage of seeing as much of Europe as we can while Dauntless is here, having friends, and even strangers aboard, makes the traveling fun.

I spent the entire month of September alone, from Stockholm to Dublin.  It turns the cruising from an adventure into a chore. (See my Sept 7th post on Trawler Forum, http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s3/dauntless-european-cruise-coming-merciful-end-22135.html)

Kadey Krogen in the Baltic
Kadey Krogen in the Baltic
Larry on Watch
Larry on Watch

I like the company, not only to pass the time, but also to teach.  And I even eat and drink better with company.

So my goal is a simple one:  I want my friends/guests/crew to enjoy themselves, have a bit of doing something different, that they would not do at home, like even watching Korean Dramas and learn some skills about running our Krogen 42.

Julie and I did a 4 day trawler school a few years ago.  Then I joined the USCG Aux and learned the basics of being on a boat crew.  I also got my USCG Captain’s and Master’s 100 ton license. So I hope my friends leave with some of those same basics that I have

Karla waiting for the water to return
Karla waiting for the water to return

learned.

Ivan securing lines
Ivan securing lines. He was cold.

So our cruising ends up in part like being in an extended trawler school.

To that end I have been relatively successful.  People like helping and learning the basics, like line handling, navigation, etc.  And everyone leaves with a little more knowledge than at the start.  Some couples, like Karen and Jason have been with us three times.

Docking is by far the most stressful time on a boat.  I continually strive to do a better job of communication with all on the boat.  It’s important to describe beforehand exactly what will or can happen and lay out possible courses of actions. Included in that is the best and worst case scenario and what we will do in case such and such happens. Also, to make sure everyone understands how to handle contrary instructions from those on the dock trying to “help”.

So let’s talk first about those who were on Dauntless this past summer.

Dauntless Finds a Buddy Too
Dauntless Finds a Buddy Too

In a nutshell, I had people with me from the time I left Ireland in late May until the very end of August.

I am very grateful to all those who spent time on Dauntless.  Everyone contributed something.  Here is the gist of time spent.  Of the 125 days of the cruise from May 25th to Oct 1st, I had someone on board for 90 of 125 days. Of those 90 days, couples were on board for 60 days, I had singlets on board for almost 40 days.

That is further broken out in chronological order:

  • Larry and Karla, from Waterford to Honfleur, France
  • Pierre-Jean, helped me move the boat up the English Channel, from Honfleur to Oostende. He lives in Paris and had contacted me just to spend some time on a Kadey Krogen.  I was happy to oblige. He also brought me some exquisite wines and cheeses.  It was also his misfortune to spend the two roughest days of the whole summer.

    Ivan and Bas along a Dutch Canal
    Ivan and Bas along a Dutch Canal
  • Ivan, the youngest at 14 years old, grandson and son of my Italian friends, met me in Holland in June. The good news is that Ivan, after having spent 28 days aboard going thru the canals and locks of Holland, Friesland and Germany, returned home with most of his limbs and body parts intact.
  • Bas, oldest son of our Dutch friends, joined Ivan and I in Friesland, the province of his father. He left us after the Kiel Canal (Ost-See Kanal) passage, at the end of June. I’ve known Bas for all of his 25 years and it was a joy being with him in his father’s birthplace.
  • With their help, I got to the start of the Cruising Association Baltic Rally on July 5th in Rugen, Germany.

    Martin fixes my charger by plugging it in
    Martin fixes my charger by plugging it in
  • Eve and Nigel, joined Dauntless as the end of the Rally on the same day that Ivan left to return to Italy after an exciting month on Dauntless. Eve and Nigel then left after 10 days in Gdansk, where Julie joined us.
  • The time lines for these three weeks were largely built around Julie’s vacation time and our desire to see the Baltic States, Latvia and Estonia in particular.
  • Karen and Jason then met us in Riga. This is their third cruise on dauntless having also joined us previously in the Bahamas and Maine.

We ended up spending a lot of time in Helsinki. Far more time than it was worth.  I was disappointed in that it was

Eve and Nigel in Poland
Eve and Nigel in Poland

the plan I had made up.  But Karen and Jason left from Helsinki, Julie left a few days later and Dana and Peter arrived from New York.

  • Dana and Peter only cruised in the one country, Finland, as the weather was not conducive to return to Tallinn as I had planned originally. We cruised east and west of Helsinki. At the end of their 10 days, they took the fast ferry back to Tallinn and Leonie and Martin arrived on the ferry from Tallinn.
  • Leonie and Martin then cruised with me in Finland, the Aland Islands and Sweden, two weeks later they left from Stockholm and I was all alone for the first time in three months.

    Julie and Dauntless in Gdansk
    Julie and Dauntless in Liepaja, Latvia
  • I already commented on September above. It’s interesting to read that now and know that as unhappy as I sounded, it was actually worse.
  • Finally a month later, Jennifer, daughter of my dear Alaskan friends of 30 years, spent the last week on Dauntless as I got back to Ireland. I have no pictures of her on the boat because they were lost when my phone died cruising up the river to Waterford.

Having spent the month of September alone, I was really happy to have someone for the last week of the trip.  It makes it a little easier to finish everything up.  It was a great way to end the summer, as we flew to NYC together and she stayed with us in the Bronx and we even had a great Korean dinner the next night in Flushing.

So the trip ended where it began 4 months and 6 days earlier.

This is probably the last time for quite a while that we will go full circle. From now on, we will be making slow, but steady progress towards a destination.

What I had done this past year was to make a tentative plan, then send it to anyone who had expressed any

Peter and Dana in Helsinki
Peter and Dana in Helsinki
The Stars & Stripes over Estonia
The Stars & Stripes over Estonia

interest in joining us at some point.  As plans were solidified, I built the final plan around my guests as they bought plane tickets, made vacation days, etc.

I know it’s not good to cruise on a schedule, but it was not so bad and the times we had to make minor adjustments, everyone understood.  The main problem was the pressure I put on myself, which is something I must work on. This coming year, I’ll probably let people lock in the time they will be on Dauntless, but not the exact location for arrival and departure.  I’ll give a country and probably port, but make sure all know it’s subject to change.

Julie watching her eyelids
Julie watching her eyelids. She loves the KK42 because of its Pilot House

We averaged 1,100 nm (2,000 km) a month this past summer. Too much.

My goal and tentative plan will be closer to 600 nm per month, once cruising season starts in April and ends when we get where we are going.

Leonie & Martin and our $100 solution to getting off D
Leonie & Martin and our $100 solution to getting off D
Helsinki. Not aCrew Member
Helsinki Ferry Terminal. Not a Crew Member

 

Jennifer and I in Waterford. That's her hand. I'm not clear why she was not included in picture.
Jennifer and I in Waterford. That’s her hand. I’m not clear why she was not included in picture.
Leonie seeing only blondes in Helsinki
Leonie seeing only blondes in Helsinki

Baltic Recap

C 20150716_203428 (2)
The Krogen along the wall in Gdansk. The marina is on the right. But our price was right!

I’ve written about many aspects of the Dauntless’ Summer Cruise 2015, the good, the bad and certainly the ugly.  How ugly I’ll find out next week.  But now, I thought I would share a few more mundane issues that I think will be of interest.

Let me say up front, that if you have any questions or comments you would like to share privately, please email me.  My contact information is somewhere in WordPress.

A few interesting tidbits. No, not Tim Horton’s Timbits, (Sorry New Yorkers, even if you have visited one of the Tim Horton’s in NYC, it is Tim Horton’s in name only. The version sold in New York is owned and made by the same person who owns the Dunkin Donuts franchise in NYC.  Needless to say, the only thing they have in common is the name).

 

Type of Overnight Days of Trip Percent Cost
All 128 100% $ 2,562
Marina 59 46% $28.15 / night
Dock or wall 32 25%
Anchored 17 13%
Tied to land, with stern anchor 8 6%
Dock in Canal (Scotland) 5 4%
Underway overnight 7 5%

 

I merged the two categories of marinas and docks because I was a bit arbitrary during the course of the summer.  Generally a marina means a marina as we know it with amenities like:   an office, a secured dock (but not always), showers, laundry, etc.

Dock or wall is just that, a dock that is floating or a wall .  Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t.  In general the prices were cheaper since they had little or no amenities.

But again the line between the two types, dock or marina is not that large.  A good portion of the marinas had no security; while some cheap docks did.  The last dock we stopped at, Arklow in Ireland, was free, and within 30 minutes, two different guys (fishermen) came by to tell us the security code of the gate.

Since we are talking bout security, maybe in the first weeks, I felt a bit apprehensive with the no security, but I’ve been in Europe enough that after I bit I did not even notice.  Much of the Netherlands was like that.  The river, canal wound through the center of town, there were bollards placed in which to tie.  You then found the nearby post, the same as one uses to pay for car parking. You paid your 12 Euros and placed the sticker on your boat. This included electricity that I usually did not bother with.

The far west and far east has the most expensive marinas.  The Channel Islands and the first stops in France were $50 per night for a 12 meter boat, as was Tallinn.  Helsinki took the prize for the most expensive marina at $60.

The rest of Scandinavia was really good.  Stockholm was only $35 and while Copenhagen was more at $45, the small towns I stopped in Norway ranged from $15 to zero.

In the middle, Germany, Poland, Latvia were all great places to visit and inexpensive; in all three of those countries marinas cost about $25.

Poland and Latvia turned out to be our favorite places.  In Gdansk, Poland, were right downtown and our Krogen must have been featured in a thousand pictures.  We were on a wall right next to the marina. The wall was free, in fact, the second day, the Bosman, the person in charge of the marina, came by to ask us if we needed electricity, telling him no, he said were welcome to stay on the wall since it was free.  I was happy.

The Poles love Americans.  Like virtually the entire trip, so many people in seeing the stars and stripes came by to say hello and hear our story: “yes, we took it across the ocean on our own, yes, we are from New York, No, it is not a Grand Banks, it’s a Kadey Krogen”

It was also in Gdansk that I met a couple from Stockholm on their catamaran.  Like virtually everyone we met on the water, they were so helpful.  They also gave me good advice about Navionics charts in that “Europe HD” was detailed enough to use and there was now no need for paper charts.

And all that for $87.

I always run with two different navigation charts, since last year, Navionics and Jepp’s C-Map.  I like the color rendition a bit more on the Navionics, but I must admit that I have not seen any significant difference between the two in Europe.

Speaking of navigation, I found it easier than the ICW, in that it is not critical to know whether the channel is going to or coming from the ocean. Instead, in the skärgärd they will declare “pass red on the left or green on the right” or vice versa.  Now in that situation, it is different in that once there was a red of the left and a green on the right of the channel meaning I could NOT go in between where the rock was.

In Riga, I was doing something in the engine room when I felt someone get on the boat. Thinking it was my friends, I kept working; but not hearing their voices, I came up to see this couple having their wedding pictures being taken on the fore deck.

Cute.  Latvians loved us too.

All in all, we averaged $28 per stay for the 90 odd days we stopped. Not bad considering a hotel room in many of those cities would have cost 10 times more.

Now you do not have to pay for fuel for that hotel room, but even with fuel, the daily cost is only $76 and with fuel at today’s price it Ireland, that daily average would have been $7 cheaper at $69 per marina.

And it’s sure nice seeing the wonders of the world pass by your living room window.

 

 

Quest for the Real Danish

And to think it only cost $17,000!

Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France
Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France

Well I suppose our Baltic Cruise did have other objectives, but let’s not minimize my fondness for morning baked goods, in particular Danish.

Now, you all know the capital of the Danish; no, not Copenhagen, but New York.  And of course, we are talking about the morning pastry, not the people.

New Yorkers think they invented the Danish.  That flaky, layered pastry filled with or with a dollop of fruit or cheese in the middle.

Never packaged in plastic, and not made from a lot of chemicals and artificial crap, that one gets in the rest of the country.  Yes.  It was hard duty living in places like Seattle, Denver and of course, the city with the lowest average annual temperature in the USA, Fairbanks, Alaska. But someone had to do it.

A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless
A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless

No our Danishes are always fresh.  Places that try to sell day old stuff in NYC don’t last long; unless of course, they are in one of those “new’ neighborhoods, like Battery Park City, that is full people from west of New Jersey, who don’t know any better.

By the way, speaking of Battery Park City, this large deluxe apartment complex, built to the west of the World Trade Center largely on landfill from the WTC and other projects of the 60’s and 70’s.  So during Superstorm Sandy, the Weather Channel had their goofy looking reporters in Battery Park City, watching the water rise to almost street level, as its inhabitants walked their dogs and babies, like every other rainy, windy day.

A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur
A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur

In the meantime, in Brooklyn alone, more than 500,000 people watched their cars float away in 8 feet of water!   The water getting as much as a mile inland.  Power in the Trump Village buildings, some of the buildings that made Trump senior rich and his idiot son think he “earned” his money just by being born, was lost for a week.  Cars were left were the water dropped them for months.  It was more than 6 months before banks and food markets were able to open again.

But since the Weather Channel did not show it, it must not have happened.  This scene was repeated along the coast of Staten Island and much of New Jersey.

My point is that television seldom can give even a representative picture and never the whole story.

So, back to my quest for the Danish.

I ate a lot of ice cream
I ate a lot of ice cream

At $135 a day, this 120 day quest could have seemed like a waste of money.  But, my attitude about money and Dauntless is simple: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  At least until after the fact, as my last post shows.

Ummm

Our quest started in France, the town of Trebeurden.  After the mile walk uphill, the offerings were a big disappointment.  The little pastry places with coffee and wonderfully baked goods were not to be found.

Next country Belgium, Oostende, only 30 miles from Holland, but finding coffee in the morning was also not so easy.

Then Holland, Zuid Holland to be exact.  Pastries much like I am familiar with both in NY and from 30 years of visiting the Netherlands.  Delicately done apple and cherry turnovers, but layered far more than in the US.  Also far less sweet than in the US and of course, made with mostly natural ingredients and not crap. Flakey, light croissants, almost as nice as the best of France.  The coffee is also very good, and the prices are reasonable.

And not yet realizing how much I took for granted those Bäckerei und Konditorei would be open by 6 a.m. and always around.

Two Krogens in Holland
Two Krogens in Holland

Honestly, after three weeks winding my way thru the Netherlands, Holland, Brabant, Gelderland and Friesland, I was really spoiled.  By far it would end up being the most convenient in terms of where the boat was and were the people were.  I got very spoiled.  Great pastries and coffee every morning. Always warm and fresh and costing not more than $5 to sit, drink a cup of java and enjoy at last one pastry (though I usually always got two).

Germany was next.  Bäckerei und Konditorei. The western half, like the Netherlands, only slightly more dour, the people and the food.  Not surprisingly, the eastern half, of the DDR, was noticeably more dour.  Much like the dwarfs of Tolkien’s Middle Earth; but taller.

Pannekoeken in Brabant
Pannekoeken in Brabant. We’ve been coming here for 20 years. Very tasty.

Poland was a treat in every aspect.  The 8 days we spent in our four stops in Poland, were the absolutely best for eating.  Morning was more about donuts and fried, filled things, but really good, really fresh, tasty and cheap.

Dinners were sublime.  Every dinner was fantastic.  Beef cheeks, pig ankle, herring tartar; all so exceeded our already high expectations. Prices more reasonable than lands to the west.

I had already planned a 2016 trip back, but Julie point out that Ryan Air would cost about a billion dollars less than taking Dauntless again.

Poland Black forest cake.  It's even better than it looks.
Poland Black forest cake. It’s even better than it looks.

Sad, but true.

Bakery in Liepaja
Bakery in Liepaja.  If you look closely, you can see that those cakes are around 3 Euros.

After avoiding the Russian minefield, Latvia was next.  We stopped in Liepaja and Riga, one of our goals for almost 10 years.  Again, not enough time in a wonderful place.  Riga was much as we expect, but Liepaja was a very pleasant surprise.  Extremely inexpensive, one of the few Euro countries those prices did not rise overnight upon the birth of the Euro. The markets, both indoor and outdoor, were fascinating and full of stalls with berries.

More berries than you ever thought possible.  In Riga, there were over a hundred stalls just selling baskets and buckets of berries of every kind.  Tasty and cheap, after easting the berries of Latvia, you could never eat those cardboard tasting blue berries that are ubiquitous here.

The Same Bakery in Liepaja.  this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.
Bakery in Liepaja. this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.

Estonia was the last stop on the Baltic Republic hit parade.

More expensive then Latvia, but lacking some of the warmth we got from the people of Latvia, let alone the genuine warmth and friendship se experienced in Poland.

While the pastry choices were limited, the coffee was very good and they had a loaf of bread with butter and knife to cut bread, which was free for one and all. Right up my alley.

Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks
Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks

Coming up:  Rocking and Rolling and Rocking in Scandinavia, I am Curious, Yellow and of course, Danishes in Denmark.

Dauntless in Leipaja
Dauntless in Leipaja
Another stop in Holland. Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!
Another stop in Holland.
Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!

Dauntless Summer 2015 Summary of Expenses & Fuel Consumption

This is the table for our Summer 2015 Baltic Sea Cruise on Dauntlesstable10

OK.  Sorry about the black background, but I have spent too many hours today just f…ing with this “picture” imported from Excel via Word.

Some of the things that jump out at me:

  • While the Fuel cost was a third of total costs, it wasn’t more.
  • Eating and food costs were also a third of total expenses.
  • My morning treat of coffee and some kind of pastry, is not an insignificant cost at almost a thousand dollars.
  • It really helped that my friends/guests/crew paid most of the marina fees.
  • By the time I got to Germany, I realized that fuel consumption was actually running much higher than anticipated, around 1.75 gallons/hour. So I made a conscious effort to run at an “economy” speed, about 1400 to 1500 rpms, for the rest of the trip and it clearly worked.  I was able to average 1.35 gallons per hour and 3.84 nm/gal at an average speed of 5.2 knots.
  • By contrast, crossing the Atlantic, the respective numbers were 1.59 gallons/hour and 3.6 nm/gallon at an average speed of 5.7 knots.

All these numbers speak to the efficiency of the Kadey Krogen and the KK42 in particular.  We love this boat.  She is a tough little girl.  Far tougher than me.  I really don’t understand why, but I am more, not less, prone to sea sickness than last year or even our first year.

Maybe the weight of responsibility weighs on me more? Maybe I am going out under more adverse conditions?  Who knows?

I did get back to NY 5 pounds lighter than when I left in early May.  That is nice.  But my sense is that being alone on the North Sea for three days will make anyone lose weight.    Maybe Oprah should have invested in Dauntless instead of Weight Watchers.

Still to come:  I hope to write a summary of the entire cruise; talk about the recent Krogen Owners Rendezvous I just attended and lastly, get my Instagram account up and running so, even if I am not posting, I can at least post pictures with a few snappy captions. Or is that snippy?

Why All’s Well that Ends Well

Day 3 Out of Stockholm

I awoke this morning to broken altocumulus with altostratus mostly to the east and north.  It had just rained a bit.   Altostratus is a sign of a frontal system, but the pressure is still relatively high, so the weak rain probably indicates a weak front, maybe even just an upper level trough, since there is not much low clouds below the middle (alto) cloud  deck.

What it looked like on the navionics chart
What it looked like on the navionics chart

In any case, even though I’m a weather guy, I still have to make the same sacrifices that we all do, usually a chicken, to keep the weather gods happy.

After anchoring last night I put the boat in ship shape order, something that had been neglected in the drama of getting out of the marina in Stockholm in one piece.  Again, I was lucky, more than smart.  In hindsight, I should have turned the boat around, while Leonie and Martin were still here to help.  As it was, just thinking about the debacle that could have been is tiring, so let’s move on and never mention it again.

I was about 200 feet from the rocks to windward
I was about 200 feet from the rocks to windward

Other than to say, I didn’t really tell you of my niftiest move in leaving that marina.  The wind is blowing on the port beam, I’m all alone, so besides having to untie one f…ing stern line and haul in the second, I did not want the bow pushed up against the boat next to us.

Therefore, me being so clever, i took my thinner, 100 foot line, tied it to the windward bow cleat, then to the dock, back thru the cleat and then along the side deck to the stern where I held in in one hand while trying to undo the knot on the stern line.  I needed to give enough slack on the bow line so the boat could move back, but not too much that it hit the downwind boat.

Not a bad plan, I didn’t hit the boat next to us; more like a gentle rubbing.  I figured that’s why he had all of his fenders in covers, while mine looked like, I had collected them on the beach; the night before.

Which I was reminded of when i wrote the above paragraph about anchoring and i noticed a long line streaming behind the boat.

So I travelled all day with this 100′ line streaming behind me, still tied to the bow cleat. Hey, at least i didn’t lose it like the line I still have tied in the bow thruster.

The Anchorage the First NIght Out
The Anchorage the First NIght Out

Now you know why i like ending my day with, All’s Well that Ends Well.

The night before after I left Stockholm, I had anchored conventionally, meaning bow anchor on 100 feet, 30 m, of chain about 200 feet, 65m, from a little island.  I was on the east side, so in the lee of the island, with strong westerly winds blowing at 20 knots pretty much for days.  Only now, this morning, have the winds died to 10 knots.

Well, being so far from the island, I was really not protected from the winds, but there were no waves, but the boat moved around a bit all night and even though I had the snubber on the anchor chain, just the 12 feet of chain hanging from the bow roller to the snubber chain hook, with the boat moving a bit, made enough noise to wake me numerous times overnight.

So, last night, I vowed to once again anchor like the Swedes, pull up to shore, tie to a tree on the island and drop the stern anchor to keep the boat aligned.  We had done this many times in the last weeks and the boat is certainly quiet, though I awake at any sharp sounds thinking the boat has hit the rock that is only feet away.

the Pilot House
The Pilot House On the Bench is the ComNav remote and I’m writing this blog, probably why it goes on and on. On the chair, is my Samsung Tablet with the Navionics Charts

But I did not want to have to go ashore, so I cozied up in this little cove, maybe 20 feet from the rock face, and with no movement on the boat, just dropped the anchor and only 50 feet of chain in about 7 feet of water.  I then dropped the stern anchor with only about 20 feet of rode.  In this cove, the wind was only a few knots and the boat was pretty still all night.  Made for a much more restful sleep.

However, virtually every night that I have done this, at least one time per night, I wake having thought I heard a “loud” bang.  I spring up, naked as a jaybird and run to the pilot house only to see the same sight picture from exactly how I left it that evening.  In other words, the boat had not moved, at all and the depth under the boat was still a few feet and was unchanged.

It’s really never been clear to me whether I dream of the noise or I actually hear something.

I now think that with the responsibility of being in charge of the boat, our brains sleep like a cat, part of it listening and also watching.  I think I did hear something, but being asleep, our brain amplifies the noise to make sure we “hear” it.  I do hear other noises during the night, but these ‘loud” noises are notably louder than normal, and thus my reaction of being instantly awake, alert and on my feet..

Similar to when I’ve been asleep in the pilot house on the high seas, I always wake up if I see a light.  The rising moon and even Jupiter and Venus have awoken me on virtually every occasion when I’ve been eastbound.

Now while underway on Day 3 of hopefully a 25 day journey, I decided to get serious and get the remote control for the autopilot that is installed on the fly bridge.  I run the long cable through the back pilot house window.  It means I can sit on the bench of the Kadey Krogen pilot house and make course corrections without even standing at the helm.

Thank you previous owners!

And I’ve just taken some pictures of what this looks like.  Please ignore the clutter, but you’ll see the two navigation systems, plus the remote ComNav autopilot head and my laptop.

Big decisions coming up: what to have for lunch/dinner and of course, a snack.

Yesterday, I just had bread, cheese and sausage at mid afternoon for my main meal, then after anchoring and putting everything away, I relaxed with an evening snack of kimchi and soju.

Lekker, as the Dutch would say.  I only have one medium size bottle of soju left, so it’s getting time to get back home!

But for now, it has turned out to be quite a nice day.  Sure enough as that trough passed through, the clouds broke and we were left with what the weathercasters would say is a mostly sunny day, but is really broken clouds covering more than 50% of the sky.

The clouds are stratocumulus, cumulus and a few almost towering cumulus. Typical clouds after an upper air passage or a cold front.  I say almost towering because in the northern latitudes (above 55°N) of North America and Europe, the vertical development of clouds is literally up to a third of what it would be in the mid-west U.S.

Thunderstorms in Alaska and Scandinavia can have cloud tops of 20,000 ft.or even less.  In the mid-west, that would be at most towering cumulus would need to double in size to become a thunderstorm (Cumulonimbus).

It’s all about the height of the Troposphere.

OK so I solved the food dilemma.

My morning snack was an ice cream bar, Magnum; premium price, but worth it, since it tastes good since it’s not filled with artificial crap.

Then, by early afternoon, I figured why not eat the weisswurst that was in the freezer.  I had bought them for Julie, but alas, we never got to them.

So, waiting for a relatively straight stretch, as in 5 to 6 minutes worth.  I fired up the Barbie, threw them on and added a red onion cut in large slices.  Lastly, I buttered a sour dough roll I had gotten in Stockholm.

Fifteen minutes later, as my weisswurst was resting, I got the mustard and the last glass of my cheap white wine imported from Tallinn.

Speaking of which, our marina in Tallinn was right by the ferry terminal and two of the three liquor stores.  I would describe the scene to you, but you wouldn’t believe it.

Leonie and Martin didn’t. When I told them to bring one of those two wheel carts like everyone else, they thought I was crazy.  Until they arrived in Helsinki and getting off the ferry they were constantly having to dodge people and their children pushing hand carts like one sees in the streets of fourth world countries, 1,000 pounds, 10 feet high.

You are only allowed in bring in one liter of hard booze per person into Finland.Clearly they must have packed their household goods in liquor, wine and beer boxes.

This whole trip has been an eye opener about the European Union, the EU.  A bureaucracy run amuck.

And it’s only described in those gentle terms by people who like bureaucracies.

Considering I have been in Europe virtually every year since the mid-1970’s, but never with a boat.  And now I have seen an entirely different world, in which each country is basically doing their own thing.

Except for the Dutch.  They are sticking to the letter of the law.  I’m horrified to think of the chaos that would result if those stalwart Dutch, all 15 million of them , were not enforcing those laws enacted in Brussels, that the other 300 million members of the EU could not be bothered with.

They most have not gotten the memo.

Anyway a good dinner and now I will not be in a hurry to stop since I have already eaten.

But in this part of the trip, I did have to eat at the helm, standing up.

I had gotten tired of not paying attention; looking up and thinking holy crap, what is that directly in front of me, throwing the computer aside, grabbing the wheel and turning in hopefully the right direction.

Well, it’s only happened a few times today. So simply easier to eat standing up.

Now maybe you are starting to see why the emptiness of the Atlantic, while a terror to some, is like a warm, cozy blanket to me.  Less opportunity to make a mistake and even if you do no one sees it.

Ooh, there is a little boat that has the same line as the Kadey Krogen, just half size.  Really cute. OK I took a picture.

My Special Education teachers could really identify with me; I was just like their students.  In five years as a Principal, there was only one memorial trip i went on.  The trip to the Bronx zoo with our Special Ed kids.  We all just wandered around looking at the animals.We, meaning me and the kids, I have no idea what the teachers were doing.

And as a sidebar, there is no science behind the kids who are designated “Special Ed”, now called “Special Needs”. Unless the child is physically missing a number of body parts, usually more than one at that, no objective person could tell “those” kids apart from the so called “normal” or General Education students.

Sadly science and education parted company a long time ago. A very long time ago.

I want to get to Kalmar by late afternoon tomorrow, Monday.  Therefore I calculate I can stop, sleep and rest for 12 hours.   So, I’ll stop today at 19:00; planning on leaving in the morning at 07:00.

Sounds like a plan, Sam.

P.S.  There are fewer and fewer Principals with a science or math background. I’d estimate that at this point in the NYC school system, it’s less than 10%.

And you wonder why kids are not learning science and math.

 

Dauntless’ Retreat from the Baltic and Return to Ireland.

Day 1 Leaving Stockholm – Debacle Averted – Barely

Note: I will probably try to have something written for each day.  But getting them uploaded is a whole different story.

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Dauntless in Stockholm
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The spot we finally escaped from. Notice the three mooring buoys that I had to push my way through

After seeing Leonie and Martin off, I proceeded to get the boat ready to depart, but was in no real hurry.  I’ve realized that no matter when I leave, early or late, it doesn’t make much difference, so I picked late.  That way, I can take my time and not try to do stuff while underway

The east coast of Sweden is what they call a skärgärd area.  It means there are like a billion islands and/or rocks and they have made passageways, marked routes, fairways thru these waters with the main advantage even when the wind is blowing 20 knots in the non-sheltered waters, in the skärgärd the winds may still be blowing, but no waves to speak of.

Quite nice, but also one must may rigorous attention to the route.  Many of the passages are very narrow, as in one boat width, and some not even that, as I soon found out

But even before that, I almost didn’t get out of the marina.

We were docked bow in to the dock, with two lines going to stern buoys to keep Dauntless from cozying up to her new fancy sport boat neighbor.  Now in general, Europeans are far more tolerant of boats bumping, pushing, and kissing their boats than people are in America.  Even with tons of space, boats will pass within a boat length or less.

But with the strong northerly winds, Dauntless was mugging this other boat, so we added another stern line to another mooring ball.

So now I was alone and I had to get two stern lines off plus the two bow lines and the wind was still blowing 20 knots.

The big mistake I made was that when we arrived I had not wanted to back in.  In hindsight, that’s fine, but once the winds died down, we should have turned the boat around and had I done so, there would now have no problem leaving.

45 minutes later I was out; but just barely, though I ended up backing over one of the BIG buoys for the stern line.  Luckily it did not hit anything vital, but I sure felt stupid.

But I didn’t really have time to ponder the error of my ways since I was running the boat alone for the first time since May.

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!

And We Never Spoke of it Again

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The Tower in Ueckermünde

Just when you thought it safe to reenter the water…

Waking up in the now Polish town of Swinoujscie, I had two problems to solve; one more vexing than the other.

But first, let’s talk about Swinoujscie, gateway to the Baltic and until 1945, a German city, aka Swinemünde.  With the looks of an old German town, it boasts a certain charm, with a few modern touches.  One of those being an almost identical fountain in the main square to that of the Brooklyn Museum, that I had mentioned in a previous post, you know, the one that started out much like this one in  Swinoujscie, until the lawyers got involved.

So Swinoujscie, aka Swinemünde, became one of thousands of cities and towns in which whole populations were uprooted and “moved” at the war’s end.  Why because Stalin wanted half of Poland and therefore Poland moved west, but never fear, the western powers and the press don’t talk about it, better to tut tut about displaced people in third world countries, than issues they created themselves.

So on that note, let’s get back to our story.

As you recall from our previous episode, Dauntless limped into Swinoujscie, with her tail between her legs, well maybe not a tail, but a thin line that had wrapped around my bow thruster.

But I was determined to at least fix the autopilot.

If you have read our Atlantic Passage, you may remember that the autopilot was one of the most critical pieces on the boat and I had absolutely no spare anything’s for it.

Having Eve and Nigel onboard, did mitigate the loss, but even with three people, hand steering a power boat for long stretches of time is both boring and fatiguing.

Assuming there is no such thing as coincidences when it comes to mechanical problems, in other words, you change, add, replace any part of a particular system, and then that system craps out on you, there is about a 99.9% chance you whatever you did caused the problem.

So, I got out our hydraulic fluid and the handy fitting for the upper helm station and proceeded to run the system and turning the wheel to get the air out.

But little air came out.

At this point, I figured I better get serious, I got the ComNav book.

In the book I discovered a self-diagnostic the ComNav can run.  I ran it and got the ominous response “hard right rudder too slow”.

I could not find the bleed screws that were supposed to be on the hydraulic ram.  But I did not want to screw with the ram in any case, since it worked fine; it was the autopilot part that was not working.

I ran the self-test again.  Same result.

I went down into the engine room to look once again at the ComNav pump.  Maybe I could bleed it there. No, no fittings I could see for easy bleeding.

I took a picture of the pump, maybe the writing will give me a clue or I can better see bleeding screw fittings.  Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Run the self-test again.  No change, but I realize that while I can turn the wheel and the rudder responds as it should, in fact better than before with no groaning while turning it quickly, meaning I had gotten what little air there was out of the system, when I used the auto pilot control head to turn the rudder, it barely moved the rudder to the left (port).

Clearly the auto pilot was the issue, not the hydraulic steering itself.

I looked at the autopilot’s control panel.  A lot of green lights. So at least electronically, the autopilot thinks all is OK.

Back to the engine room to look at that pump again.  I crawl over to it.  I read both sets of labels on the pump.  One reads, “to remove the pump without losing fluid, close the thumb valves”

What thumb valves?  Those brass “T” handles that I occasionally play with, wondering what they do?  The ones that I had decided should be tighter, but not too tight the other day, while I was changing the main engine oil and in a moment of “let’s turn this and see what happens” madness??

I noticed the one on the left side was tight, the other two, one on top and one on the right, were close to being closed, but not tight.

Umm, could these be the valves that are to close when removing the pump?  And if so, should not they be OPEN now?

I have Eve use the autopilot control head to move the rudder, it now moves, not quickly, but better than before.  I open all three and she tries again.  Much better, almost like it’s supposed to.

We run the self-test again.  This time, rudder movement is normal.

I had changed the oil on the main engine a few days earlier.  So I was working at the back of the engine and it my spare time I was fiddling with those three T valves.  Sort of aimlessly fiddling.

So it seems my fiddling closed at least one valve and we had a few days of indifferent autopilot response, culminating in it not working at all.

The Innocent Victim
The Innocent Victim

Now all is fine. No air, valves open and the autopilot has worked better than ever.

When people ask me about crossing the Atlantic and why I like Kadey Krogen yachts, I say that quite simply I have never had a problem with the boat that was not caused my operator error.

We just passed 4000 engine hours.  That’s 2300 hours we have put on the boat in the last 28 months.

I’ve put 300+ hours since leaving Waterford two months again.

I have also been breaking down the cost of this trip during the last few days.  That will be the subject of a later post.

We love Dauntless because she never lets us down.  Now if only I could find a way to control that nut behind the wheel.

And we shall never talk of it again.

Coming up,

Leba, Gdansk and leaving Poland for the lands to the east

 

 

Italy, Holland, Germany and the Tower Incident

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THe Tower on Ruden

Sort of like the “Bedford Incident” but without Sidney Poitier, or a submarine or the drama, but let’s start at the end.

So, I just had a little conversation with the conductor of the train taking Ivan to Berlin for his plane to Venezia.  The fact that I could have this conversation in German reminds me how comfortable I am in Germany, in spite of a few glitches and now being locked in a tower.

This past year, having Dauntless in Ireland, afforded me the opportunity to spend much more time with my old friends in Italy, the Netherlands and now, new friends in Germany. Since September, I’ve spent five weeks in Holland and three weeks each in Italy and Germany. The most time in many years.  I do like Germany, maybe not as much as Italy or Ireland, or Holland, or Spain, or …, but I do like it.

I have some wonderful friends from Germany and being here this long actually makes me miss them more, but that’s a saga for a different day.

So it is with an understanding eye that I relate my incident in the tower.

Let’s set the scene.

For the last week Dauntless has been in the company of about 20 boats, all members of the Cruising Association which is headquartered in London.  We are doing a week long “rally” in Eastern Germany and into Poland.  I figured it would be a good way for me to wet my feet, figuratively, but hopefully not literally, for my first ever trip to Poland.

While all these travels are new to me by boat, before I became a boat based gypsy, I was certainly a car based gypsy and travelled extensively all over Europe, but never Poland or the Baltic Republics.

So on a windy, but sunny day, our little band of boats set off for Kroeslin from Stralsund, with a small stop for those who are interested on the island of Ruden.

Dauntless on Ruden
Dauntless on Ruden

Now, one pleasure I get out of being on a tour organized by others is that I don’t have to do any thinking.  I don’t have to worry about bridge opening times nor actual routes.  In fact, it was only after I was tied to the wall, just outside the little, very little harbor of Ruden that I realized only about half a dozen boats made this detour to check out Ruden.

OK, I was here now, so I figured I may as well traipse down the dusty path and check out the watch tower that looked south over the V1 and V2 rocket development area of Peenemunde and later as the observation post to make sure no one left the people’s paradise known as the Deutsche Democratic Republic (DDR).  It’s actually comical to write that.  You have to hand to the commies; they certainly have a sense of humor.

So, there was Dauntless, right at the entrance to the harbor, flying not one, but two Stars and Stripes, with of course the German flag, a large one mind you and my newest addition, a Kadey Krogen flag thanks to the great people in their Seattle office.

Thus while I was securing the lines and then changing from by boating clothes to my walk a dusty path clothes, a little German boat, carrying maybe six people came in and tied up in the inner harbor in a spot reserved just for them.

One of the Displays of a B-17 Over Germany
One of the Displays of a B-17 Over Germany

So an hour later, I find myself walking down the dusty path, past the island caretaker’s house, past the 1960’s style barracks, though it could be 1930’s, it’s hard to tell in the DDR, with not a soul in sight.

On the path just in front, I pass a German coming from the tower and figure he was with that little boat that came in after me.

The tower is basically a four floor, 20 feet by 12 feet structure.  Each floor had one room looking south towards Peenemunde.

Now, while I was alone in the bulding, I was making noise.  Under such circumstances, I usually talk to the photos and ask them questions.  I don’t get many ansers though. I was also humming a tune; rather loudly as no one was about and it turned out the tune was from the Victory at Sea soundtrack done by RCA Victor and Robert Russell Bennett.  It had been in my head for a few days as I had played it after some arduous crossing.  At the time, I had no idea what particular track I was humming, but did discover later it was “D-Day”.

On each floor they had some information on the wall about the history of the island and one floor was about the war years. There was a photo of a B-17 in flight over Peenemunde.  Now my German is not so great, but I could glean from the explanation, that they were not thanking the B-17s for liberating them from the madman who was Hitler.

And I really had no idea the tune I was humming was titled “D-Day”.

Really, I didn’t.

Having walked to the top floor, I figured I may as well go one more flight up to the open air roof.

It was open air and it was the roof.  30 seconds later, feeling my duty was done, I go down to the ground floor, but realize something is different; it’s dark.  The metal door, which had been propped open when I had entered, was closed.

I actually went to look for the stairs to go down one more floor thinking I had forgotten how I came in.

Nothing.  I go UP one floor, maybe I was in the basement?  No, I can see I’m two stories up.

The German Boat
The German Boat with Tower in the Background

I go back to the metal door, which I had tried to open initially.

I try harder this time, now 98% sure it was the door I came in, I push really hard and see that there is a chain holding the doors closed.  I push harder. Nothing.

Now, at this point, I am not panicked; but simply perplexed.  I am still thinking I had possibly come in some other entrance.

Now, folks, this is a simple building.  We’re not talking Taj Mahal.  So, I realize that someone has chained me in the place.

OK, I check out the windows.  Not only are they bolted closed, but the first floor has those iron gates covering them.  I do see an English couple walking up, so I go wait for them and they confirm that the chain is padlocked.

Now, my phone is on the boat.  Who would I be calling on this island?

I thought to myself, maybe I should have brought my chain cutter with me. The fact that it weighs 20 pounds and is three feet long was probably the main reason I didn’t.  I also am not sure why I even bought it, as I can never remember using it.  Maybe I bought it for just this occasion?

No, brute force will be my last resort.

Free at Last, Free at Last
Free at Last, Free at Last, the Eyebolt hanging down with the nut I put back

I look at the door and the eye bolt the chain is connected to on the outside has one nut holding it in place.  I pull on the end of the bolt hoping to relieve the pressure and maybe I can get the bolt off.

I do; it does and I unbolt the eye bolt.

Push it through and I am as free as a bird.

I consciously put the nut back on the bolt.

I start walking back to Dauntless, who is probably now wondering what is taking so long on this forlorn island.

Just before the harbor, I pass one of the Germans I had seen earlier, now sitting on a bench waiting, watching or maybe just plain resting.

He smiles. And it all becomes clear.

His smile gives him away.  He gives me that mischievous smile that explains the whole situation to me at a glance.

I give him my “we’ve beat you twice and we could do it again” smirk and continue down the path, back to Dauntless with her two American flags standing straight out in the brisk wind.

I’m proud to be an American.

And, I really didn’t know the tune was titled, “D-Day”

 

 

 

 

Germany, A Few Thoughts and Bugaboos Too

Yesterday, we arrived at the harbor of Stralsund at 23:15.  Jeremy from the Cruising Association was ready, waving a flashlight so I knew where to go and I cannot tell you how relieved I was having that last uncertainty removed.

Ruden the little Island North of Peenemunde
Ruden the little Island North of Peenemunde

We had D tied up and engine off in 10 minutes, surely a record.

Saturday started in a frustrating fashion and ended the same way.

I use my Kindle for most books and I use the Kindle app on my phone for magazines and newspapers.  The app works better because it’s in color and the newspaper I read, the Wall Street Journal is formatted far better for that medium.

Why do I like the WSJ?

As I moved around the world, the WSJ was the one paper that one could get consistently and I liked the mix of world, US and business news.  Since I’ve gotten it on my Kindle, I like it even more since the version I get is for NY and has stories of the NY sports teams.

During this past year, I have come to realize that after a long day or before a long day starts, I really like having my cup of coffee and the newspaper. On reflection, I realize that while Dauntless is my main job now, almost as important, is reading the newspaper in the morning.

I grew up that way and since my first job was delivering newspapers, a job that was setup by the upstairs neighbors who wanted the four morning newspapers and therefore found another half dozen customers for me to make it worth the while of a 10 year old. So, I had the paper every morning to read before school.  As I got older, work and organizing my day mentally took precedence.

But now on Dauntless, I find a satisfaction on sitting down in the morning with the paper and my coffee that can hardly be described.

With my Samsung Note I can take it with me anywhere has been great.  I’ve even gotten used to the fact that it is not available until just before 8:00 Ireland time; which means an hour later on the continent.

OK, fine.  But since I have been in Germany, my internet connections seem to have vanished. Last week I was in a particular foul mood all day, just because I could not get the day’s paper.  Now Amazon certainly has its issues.  About once a month, the kindle has a hissy fit and tells me something stupid like all of a sudden I have too many devices or there is no new paper today.

Peenemunde Brochure
Peenemunde Brochure

If you email Amazon support, they now give you the boilerplate answer:  cut off your pinky, use the blood to wipe the screen, say praise be to whatever god your believe in or not, and that should do it.

Well, not exactly, but it’s usually just as bad, erase everything on your phone, reinstall everything and it will work. Sometimes.

Yeah, I don’t do that either.  Strangely most of the time, within a few hours it starts working again.

OK, but now, it’s not Amazon.  It’s the many places that say they have Wi-Fi, but really don’t.  And that now includes the Telco’s.

So no paper, email for days.  I didn’t miss it crossing the Atlantic, but now people think when I don’t respond to their email I’m ignoring them.  Worse, Gmail manages to send some stuff, but other stuff sits for days in the Que.

So this weekend ended on a sour note for me.  No paper, made worse because it took me a day to figure out the WSJ had not published on Saturday, the 4th.

Then Monday dawned bright and first thing it was back to the O2 store that sold me a data only SIM on Saturday to find out why I still had no Internet.  Now, I had returned to the store Saturday afternoon, just before closing to ask why it was still not working and the response was many people are having the same problem.  That was confirmed by my German friends who had checked online for me.

OK, so off I was to the O2 store for a resolution one way or another.

But this time, when I inquired why still no joy, I asked the question, that I should have asked on Saturday, but naively didn’t, assuming I would be told the whole story from the beginning.

But I had forgotten I was in the former DDR.  Germans are a bit reserved, at least compared to Italians or Irish, but the denizens of the former DDR are even more reserved.  With extra information, words, even necessary information, comes the risk of saying the wrong words to the wrong people.  Living for three generations, 60 years, under the watchful eye of the Gestapo/Stasi will do that to you.

So I was understanding; I smiled and did not say what I was thinking as he finally told me I needed an APN (an internet protocol).  In Italy, and with Verizon, the phone needs an APN, but is not needed in the Netherlands, or Ireland.  But, behind my tolerant smile, you know, the kind you give your puppy after he eats your favorite shoe, I wondered how he could have neglected to mention this after I returned to tell him it still wasn’t working?

But little did I realize how my mettle would be tested just 36 hours later locked in an old watchtower on Ruden.