I had a disturbing call recently with a close friend, who lives in Europe. Her husband, one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, is having some significant health issues brought on my work-related stress. I’d seen him a year ago at Christmas and he seemed to be on the mend, but since then took a turn for the worse.
Through it all, his wife and friends are there for him, but his two, now adult (mid, high 20’s) children, are MIA (Missing in Action). Adults in their mid-20’s can get caught up in their own lives and certainly have their own angsts, but this isn’t that.
These two children have decided that their father is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. The youngest one hasn’t spoken to her father in over two years.
What’s the crime that so unspeakable?
He worked hard, while getting a college decree, to enable him to have higher paying jobs to provide for his wife and two daughters, including putting them thru university.
It seems in our ever more indulgent society, his daughters expected him to be there more for them.
Sorry, I have no idea what that means. I saw my father, late evenings and on the Sundays, he wasn’t still working. While some of those Sundays had a planned trip, with us going someplace to visit friends . Many were spent waiting impatiently for him to finish fixing the car or washing machine or something else of necessity.
But thru it all, I understood that my father showed how much he loved us by how hard he worked. It wasn’t about face time or sitting on his knee. It was about never having to worry about whether we would have something to eat or a place to live. Besides, if he got home earlier in the evening, we’d have to watch something stupid on TV or listen to classical music all night (which is what we did on those Sunday visits, but at least we got out of the City!)
I asked my best friend, who is also European, what he thought of this. He said, he never saw his mother because she was working all the time. But in just those words, I gleaned that he fully understood that all he had now, his business and personal success, was because of his hard working mother.
We of the west, expect things to come to us, whether we work for them or not. It is one of our fundamental problems with education and one of the reasons for our dismal success rate in public schools and colleges. And everyone: students, teachers, administrators and politicians own a piece of that failure.
My Vietnam time is coming to an end in a couple of months. So, I am ever more keenly aware of what’s going on around me. Savoring every moment, every observation, like it will be my last, as it will be soon. Thus, I notice the streets packed at 07:00 until 21:00 every day. What are people doing? Working, going to school, doing those things that they must do to be successful, to be happy, to survive.
Vietnam calls itself communist or socialist, but it is less socialist that any European country or even the USA for that matter. It’s a one-party state, but that’s about it. There is no safety net. Children understand that if they do not work hard in school, they will not get a decent job. Adults understand that it’s work or starve. Simple, maybe harsh, but effective.
That’s one of the things I both appreciate and admire about Asian cultures. They seem to be not so far removed from the basics of life. While we in the west, the USA and Europe, seem to ever more indulge ourselves in a fanciful world in which we do nothing, but want everything. We base our very existence on false stereotypes that never existed in the first place.
But it’s hard to have conversations about real life with our children, when we spend all our time arguing whether it’s a wall or a fence and then make millions suffer to make our nonsensical point.
In my post, How Fresh is Fresh? I wrote about my first trip overseas to Italy. What an eye opener that was. But as I reflect on the different cultures I’ve experienced, I realize my first true culture shock happened in the USA, when I arrived in Seattle in the fall of 1969.
Seattle was not as I had expected.
I spent my first 18 years growing up in the heart of the City, New York, not even Brooklyn, nor the many towns of Queens, let alone the Bronx, but New York (Manhattan, for the uninitiated). Being in the heart of it all, makes one think they know it all and have seen it all. I certainly wouldn’t be the first New Yorker accused of a little hubris, especially coming from the heart of the heart, Greenwich Village. New York is nothing if not multi-cultural, and Greenwich Village was its soul.
In those days, Greenwich Village was the inexpensive refuge for people of all creeds, regions, colors, races, sexual preference and artists. The place for “different” people, my parents settled there because there were few places an inter-racial couple could live peacefully at that time, even in Greater New York and the rent in the West Village for our two-bedroom apartment was only $50 per month. Even communists were welcome, as Alger Hiss rented the top floor apartment in our little four story, four apartment building, when he got out of jail. A very nice man by the way. Our upstairs neighbors were two men, they would be called a couple now-a-days, but in the Greenwich Village of the ‘50’s, labels were neither needed or desired. They were simply two nice mean and neighbors for me. I learned to take people at face value, as I wanted to be taken. My brother and I just knew them as them as the good men who would make pancakes for us occasionally; like uncles, in fact better than my true uncles who I never met until I was 50 years old!
Fast forward to 1969, I found myself in Seattle, having decided pretty much on my own that I was going to the University of Washington (UW). (Which is a tale for another time of independent kids who involve their parents only on the periphery). Once I was accepted to the UW in the spring of ’69, I looked up all the information I could find about Seattle.
I knew its population was about 500,000. New York’s was 8 million, but Manhattan was only 2 million, therefore I figured Seattle is roughly a quarter the size of New York. From that factual conclusion, I made some interesting assumptions.
I figured life in Seattle would be like living in New York, if I never went north of 57th street or left the City (any place out of Manhattan). Therefore, I’d be giving up my occasional trips to the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island and going to Mets’ games. But then I figured one has to make some sacrifices to be able to attend a university.
My one quarter the size assumption, implied the quantity of everything I was used to: shops, movie theaters, buses, stores, delicatessens, etc., would be reduced to 25%. So, instead of having a choice of 20 delicatessens, I’d have a choice of 5. No problem I thought, nor did I think quality would be reduced to levels last seen on the Oregon trail in a Conestoga wagon.
Now, the UW knew the out of state kids would have some adjusting to do, so they had come a week earlier. Thus, I bonded with the other out of state kids in the dormitory and one in particular who was from Long Island. He wasn’t even from the City, yet even he could tell something was amiss here.
Bad food, bad coffee, bad everything; not even one delicatessen and the buses stop running at 11 p.m. The bagels that were sold in Safeway appeared to have been made months earlier by people who had never eaten a bagel but had once seen a picture of one (meaning it was round).
Who knew people lived like this? This chubby high school kid lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks.
In the early days, still thinking that civilization would return as I knew it, I’d ask for those things common to New York. In the summer everyone drinks ice coffee. But not in Seattle in 1969, when I asked for an iced coffee, the waitress had no idea what I was talking about. Somehow, the culture of strong coffee mixed with ice in the summer time never made it past Chicago (If it even got that far).
Another time, when asked how I liked my coffee, I replied, with that New York classic, “regular”, meaning with milk and sugar. They gave it to me black, well not really black, as I could see the spoon at the bottom of the cup. The coffee was an undrinkable, light brown concoction, of hot water and coffee flavor.
I survived, but it was my first eye opener, that when one leaves home (however large or small that “home” may be), one has to leave assumptions behind. Nothing was basic, even the telephone operator for my monthly collect call home, usually misunderstood my telephone prefix “Oregon” for “Argon”.
While I consider myself a life-long learner, I never said I was a fast learner. But as life went on, I learned to dump more and more assumptions so that I’d arrive at my new home naked with eyes open. From there one can make the case that there are no true assumptions. Assumptions by definition are conclusions based on spotty data. Good luck with that.
In the next two decades, I found myself in many varied places: Alaska, Colorado, Southern California, Italy and Germany, even the Arctic Ice Cap for half a year. Assumptions melted like a popsicle on a hot summer day. One of the aspects of European life that I like so much is the absence of urban sprawl. In some places more than others, particularity so in Germany.
I ended up living in Germany twice, in small German towns, around 2,000 inhabitants. One day while trying to follow a conversation with my neighbor’s daughter and her boyfriend, who was from the next town up the road about 5 km away, I realized he was speaking in a dialect that was even different than the Rhineland Pfalz dialect I was accustomed to and could reasonably decipher. I asked why his speech was so different. Then I learned that was because his town, which I drove thru twice a day, was a “Catholic town”, as opposed to the Lutheran town I was living in.
And because of this difference, there was much less interaction with this neighboring town, than with other towns.
Well, seemingly everyone but me. To this day, I have no idea if this pattern of towns based on region was a regional thing, a local thing, a national thing, or anything at all, (certainly local people have their own biases, which you must be aware of), but I do know never to make any assumptions about anything.
During that same stint, I met a German meteorologist, who was from Northern Germany, but was now teaching meteorology to pilots in Bavaria (southeastern Germany). We met for work, became friends and I visited him often. He told me that when he moved from the north some years earlier, no one would sell him a house simply because he was not local. He began making weather forecasts for the local farmers and after a few years they did accept him enough so that he was able to buy a house.
My take-away from this, just like the different town thing, was that the label “German”, as most labels, is not helpful in understanding personal interactions that take place on an everyday basis on a small scale.
I thought an of interesting way to look at these differences in macro and micro cultures using numbers.
Think of a number line from zero to 10, we’ll call it the Homogenous population. If we have a population of 1000 evenly spaced between zero and 10, every number is 0.01 or 1/100th apart in absolute numbers. Now, take a different population of numbers, this time from zero to 10,000, which we’ll call the Heterogenous population. Divide by 1,000 again, and every number is now 10 units apart in absolute numbers. Therefore, to the Heterogenous population, the Homogenous population seems much closer in value in absolute terms, and the Small population looks at the big population and sees far more diversity, since the range is not zero to 10, but zero to 10,000.
But looking at both populations from within, on a relative scale, Homogenous sees a difference of 0.01/10 =0.001; while Heterogenous sees the same result, 10/10,000=0.001. Therefore, even in populations that seem homogeneous to an outsider, to those inside the population the perceived differences are just as great as in a population that is viewed as heterogeneous.
My point is that perceived differences are in the eye of the beholder and that the differences one sees are as great to the Homogenous group as to the Heterogeneous group.
We cannot make the false assumption that populations that seem homogeneous to us, like Germans or Koreans or Italians or Chinese or Vietnamese or anyone for that matter, are in fact, homogenous, because for them, inside that population, they see diversity that we are not trained to see.
Or let’s put it even another way.
I believe that Queens County is the most diverse county in the USA based on the number of different languages spoken at home based on the last census.
So, if I am having a coffee in Queens, let’s say the neighborhood of Astoria, it’s likely that at a nearby table there sits: a Bengali, a Greek, an African-American and a Korean. While they may all speak different languages at home, may be both female and male and of different religions, creeds and colors, they will all know what a “Regular” coffee is.
I’m currently visiting my friends for 40+ years in northeastern Italy, in a little town called Budoia. At the very foot of the Dolomites (a portion of the Alps), I first came here while stationed at Aviano Air Base in 1976.
Last night, while returning relatively late, it turned out, in spite of having all the keys to the doors, the shutters were also inadvertently locked. Now, these shutters are not the dainty kind we see on so many houses to give them that “homey” feel.
No, these shutters, like the house, were built in the 1800’s to keep the brigands out and to withstand a siege. So, the one door that I knew was kept unbolted at night and that I had the key for, was behind the brigand proof shutters. I know, I tried, not even a millimeter of give on those shutters.
I had already tried the other two doors, one in front, one in back, all bolted. I had even tried the door that is not used. Upon unlocking it, it seemed to give a millimeter or so, but is was clear that either the furniture in front of it was completing blocking it or it too was bolted. In any case, I quickly gave up and returned once more to the shutters.
Was it possible there was something I was not understanding in their opening? The matriarch of the house, knew I was coming back at this hour and had acknowledged not to lock me out, so I wondered what I was missing?
It was cold, already, 28° or -2°C. I couldn’t sleep in the car. My cell phone was dead, but I did have car charger and cable, I plugged it in and called the house. No answer.
I then tried her mobile number and minutes later after I successfully completed the “who is this? (It’s me) and why are you calling me at this hour? (the shutters are locked)” interrogation, I saw her coming down the stairs.
A half hour later, warm and cozy in my bed, was I ever so grateful to be in bed and to not have had to implement contingency plan number XYZ. But that got me to thinking, what was XYZ?
In my ten minutes of trying to solve the problem, trying every door a couple of times, even the windows, trying all sorts of key like objects in the lock of the shutters, all the while not thinking of the cold and me with no overcoat, (since I came from Vietnam). I realized never spent any time on “what if I can’t get in?”
What if I could not rouse the occupant? What if; then what?
No, I was totally focused on solving the problem.
While it’s impossible to cross an ocean in a small boat and not have some issues, in my two plus ocean passages, I’ve only had one problem that could have been, more than an inconvenience. That was when I burst the hydraulic line 1,000 miles from land in the middle of the Atlantic in 10 to 15-foot seas.
The hose that broke feed the hydraulic ram for the rudder. Without this hose, no steering and no autopilot. My Kadey Krogen does have an emergency tiller that attached to the top of the rudder post thru an opening in the deck, with a 6-foot lever arm. But this would mean standing, sitting, suffering on the aft deck for 7 straight days and nights.
I shudder even now just thinking about it.
As mariner’s who motor instead of sail know, a boat at constant rudder angle, will not go in a straight line. Wave action pushes the bow a little bit each time and the boat will be noticeably turning within 30 seconds in any kind of seas, thus requiring constant rudder adjustments. The primary reason an autopilot, to maintain a constant heading, is much required. More than likely Dauntless would arrive in Martinique minus any human crew, as we would have decided that swimming was better.
When this hose broke, my first thought wasn’t how we would now get to Martinique, it was how to solve the immediate problem. Just like last night, I didn’t spend any time on “what-ifs”. Oh, over the years I have some very general contingency plans, such as, engine stops, and I can’t get it going again for whatever reason, the prevailing winds will eventually blow the boat to land (as this wouldn’t happen in the Southern Ocean, that’s another reason not to go there!). Therefore, we have enough canned goods, water and peanut butter to last for months.
Many people have asked me what makes me able to cross oceans while other far more experienced sailors don’t. As I was reminded last night, one of the keys is the ability to focus on the problem at hand and not to catastrophize the problem. Don’t think of more problems when as you try to fix one.
When my helm wheel went slack in my hands in the middle of the Atlantic, I allowed myself one indulgence, I cursed at myself for being so stupid, but then it was to the task on hand. Let’s not spend any time on what-if I can’t fix it, let’s just fix it.
Another way to look at is Optimist versus Pessimist. The optimist sees possibilities, the pessimist sees barriers.
Not may pessimists cross oceans, maybe not even in planes!
Despite my accomplishments this past year, another 2500 miles behind me, the Golden Gate in front of me, the Baja bash, Panama Canal, the Atlantic Ocean, behind me, I wonder if I did not make some big mistake.
For not the first time, I wondered about my sudden decision to flee northern Europe two years ago. I loved northern Europe. I loved Ireland. I loved the peoples and the cultures.
I lived for 4 years in Germany and still visit relatively often. The Germans certainly have some interesting attributes. Some of which I even like a lot.
In 2015, I was reminded just like 30 years ago, the different personalities the Germans are along the north coast. These are the people who have known “Auslander”, (from an outside land), for thousands of years. They are not the Germans of the much more insular interior, one meets south of Hamburg down to the Alps.
I dwell on this because stupid Google, out of the blue the other day, sends me my pictures of years ago and says, “don’t you want to post these?”
It reminded me yet again of how great the cruising was along the north coast of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and North Seas. The cruising is the best I’ve yet encountered, with thousands of miles of protected skärgärd cruising. With the wind blowing 20+ knots, 100 meters away, you are cruising or anchored with nary a ripple of waves.
All the peoples who inhabit the environs along the coast are sea faring folk. Much like the Celtic culture along the west coast of Europe, from Galicia in NW Spain to Scotland, The North Sea and particularly the Baltic had the Hanseatic League. From Hamburg to Tallinn, they controlled trade and influenced culture from Germany to Russia.
This seafaring culture manifests itself in boat friendly, stranger friendly ways. No matter how small the port, or how many boats are already there, they will find room for you. In the more formal marinas, like Tallinn and Cuxhaven, the American flag was being put up on the yardarm of the marina even as I checked-in. And even check-in itself was a 5-minute process, with reasonable rates, about $0.25 per foot in Holland to $1.00 per foot in Helsinki. Overall average for marina overnights ended up being less than $0.50 a foot for my 4 months in the Baltic and North Seas.
All these experiences were exactly the opposite in southern Europe, by the way. 30-minute check-ins, filing out endless forms, each time, $1.00 per foot was best price and it went up to $2.00.
I was also reminded with much regret that the $1,000 ten-day stay I had at Cabo San Lucas was the same cost of one year! in Waterford, Ireland. Sure, Waterford could not boast like Cabo of having only 7 days a year with rain, but I am sure they can boast that they have at least 7 days a year with sun.
So, all these fond memories really made me question my decision of leaving Europe in 2016. Stupid Google also reminded me of my great trip to Galicia to scope out a winter home for Dauntless the following year. Food, people and marina in A Coruna were fantastic. I could stay there for $500 per month year around. Had I stayed another year as planned, I would still have some options. I could return to the Baltic the following summer or just stay in Northern Spain and Western France. I would have also saved so much money.
Oh Regrets. What would life be without them?
Probably a hell of a lot better!
I acknowledge that 2016 was a traumatic year for me. I often wonder if unexpected life changes led me to make some hasty, irrevocable decisions? It certainly seems so to me when I think and think and think about it.
It would have been just as easy to fly between Ireland or Spain and Vietnam. I picture myself escaping the heat a humidity of Vietnam for the damp coolness of Atlantic Europe.
One key factor drove my decision to leave for the Pacific, the availability of crew. My Hawaiian nephew wanted to take a year off from school before he went to law school. He thought exploring Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean via Dauntless would be ideal. He spent almost a year with Dauntless and I.
He was indispensable. Not only as a great, hardworking, vigilant crew mate, but also as a smart, interesting companion for the boring passage between Europe and the Panama Canal. I couldn’t have come that distance without him.
Dauntless is in Vallejo, California now. I’ll return to her next week for a month of getting her in ship shape. Next spring, I’ll return and weather permitting get her up to the Pacific Northwest by June, then British Columbia and Southeast Alaska for the summer.
Ending up in one of the wonderful, little towns of Southeast Alaska. Which one, will depend on several factors, Dauntless taking second stage for now.
By next year at this time, my life will take another turn, as I gain both a First and Second Mate on Dauntless. We’ll end up staying in Southeast Alaska only a little longer than originally planned. Visa requirements for my wife-to-be and her son require us to live in the United States, so SE AK is the perfect place to settle down for a while and catch a few fish and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife.
What would have happened had Dauntless still been in Europe now? I would truly have a mess on my hands. Instead of struggling with a 2500 trip, I would be looking at 10,000+ miles. Eek!!
Everything happens for a reason. Two years ago, I had no idea I’d fall in love with the love of my life, yet again (ok, I’ve had a lot of lives). Or that she would be in Vietnam or that I’d spend all my free time with her in Vietnam. Or that SE Alaska, then so far away, now so close, would be the perfect place for a variety or reasons.
It made me envious; I know, that’s ridiculous, but still.
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.
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.
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
Yikes, looking at this Blog, I’m still in Rota, Spain.
That seems like eons ago!
So, while Micah and my friend Larry explore Morocco, I will take this opportunity get caught up.
Maybe my lack of writing has been a function of the cruising conditions.
Getting back to Dauntless after a month the sigh of relief was probably audible across the Atlantic. Her month on the hard went perfectly. She had shore power with no interruptions the entire time (I have thermometers for fridge and freezer, which records max and min temps).
The gouge I had put into the side had been repaired
and painted. The anti-foul undercoat was re-applied over those sections that the straps of the travel lift had lifted off when being splashed in Ireland.
So, for less than $200 she was back in the water looking like new again.
All in all, a great relief.
But now, it was time to get underway and make some miles.
And they turned out to be tough miles. The 87 miles from Rota to Gibraltar had to be broken into three different segments. Each time the winds picked up on our bow and once they reach 15+ knots, it makes the situation pretty crappy.
Average Speed (KTS)
Reason for Stop
Winds on the nose, continued to increase
Same as above
Finally, in Gib
Our first stop, was a bit of desperation. Just NW of the lighthouse off Cape Trafalgar, it was not that well protected from the easterly winds, but it was better than burning fuel to go mostly up and down. We only stayed about 4 hours, but this was enough time for the winds to die down and we got underway again.
This stop also provided another example of how the “police” are about helping, not enforcing. After we were anchored about an hour, a Spanish Civil Guarda (national police) boat sidestepped themselves to within about 100 feet of Dauntless. I came out to the pilot house door, two guys came out of their boat and yelled over the wind whether I spoke Spanish. I replied only a little.
They asked, “problem”. I responded, “no, I wait for wind” They waved, said OK Adios and slowly motored off, until their wake would not rock us any more than we are already rocking.
In the more than two years of cruising in Europe. I have always found the maritime authorities were always about help if needed, but not enforcement.
Our next stop, west of the causeway at Tarifa was much better, as the Active Captain description explains. We were well out of the wave action, so the boat was pretty quiet. We stopped here at 02:00 and had a much-needed sleep. Then though I was up by 08:00, the winds were up to, so we just sat and waited. Finally, by early afternoon, the winds died down and we took off, now only 18 miles from The Rock.
The last of our challenges, the 6 miles crossing the Gibraltar Bay. There are two areas for large ships to anchor on the west and east sides of the bay. We went through these areas pretty close to the anchored behemoths because it reduced our exposure to the super-fast ferries from the Ceuta on the African coast to Algeciras, the Spanish port just north of Gibraltar.
Those ferries, once spotted would be 3 or 4 miles away, but right on you within minutes. When we left Gibraltar a few days later, they would give us quite a thrill as three of them raced across the Straits seemingly aimed right at us.
This month marks 40 years since I first set foot in Italy. Arriving on the plane from the U.S., landing at Malpensa
(north of Milan), we needed to get a domestic flight from Linate (closer to Milan). This meant a bus ride through parts of Milan to get from one airport to the other.
Having to change airports in a foreign land was in itself an adventure. On that bus, gazing out the window, I realized I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore. My preconceived notions of Italy, were disappearing like water in the desert. The billboards of naked women advertising something or other, were the final straw. I vowed then and there to accept what is and to make no assumptions. Now, 40 years later, I’ve tried to do this in every new country, new town, new face.
There was never a saying so apt, as “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” So I did.
Starting with an open mind always helps, fate of personalities and timing are also clearly important. Now, 40 years later, my Italian friends are more like family. In that strange paragon that allows us different family roles, sometimes simultaneously. Thus, in Budoia, I am both the oldest son and the younger sibling. It’s great having an older sister. With Gino, I am the younger brother, carefree, always up for an adventure. Slipping from my real life, I cocoon myself from my “normal” responsibilities.
So, in this little corner of Italy, nestled against the Dolomiti, in an area that mixes Friuli with the Veneto, I find myself ensconced in the familiarity of friends who are more than family. The family one chose.
My only jobs here are pretty much limited to opening the next bottle of Prosecco, getting up in time to eat, or my favorite, being the chauffeur (picture Driving Miss Daisy). I love driving and in the western world, much of Europe is still the best. The recent program to change intersections to roundabouts, traffic circles, has made the driving even sweeter. Now every road has been transformed into a F1 track. From Gino’s car showroom to Budoia, a distance of 14 miles, the route takes you thru Pordenone and two other towns, there are only two stoplights. All the rest of the intersections having been converted to the above mentioned circles, (maybe 25). A 20-minute trip during the day with traffic, becomes a 14-minute exercise late at night with empty roads. A pure joy to drive, rain or snow, sun or fog. (Not even on Dauntless have I encountered fog so thick with visibility so bad, less than 20 feet!).
But as usual I digress.
This is post is about friendship or better stated, the value of friendship. Though maybe the driving allows me to be in a space in which I can free my mind to see and appreciate what is? Forse, Perhaps.
Hanging around Gino’s car dealership, waiting for him to finish work, so we can do what we always do, eat! I thought of the last 40 years since I have known Gino. This car dealership is actually Gino’s third. Some years were good, some were not, sort of like Trump losing $20 billion. However, in Italy, one does not get those who did pay taxes to reimburse you for the next 20 years!
In my wanderings, in both body and mind, I noticed a picture portrait hanging on the wall of Gino’s disorganized office. You can tell it’s his office because he has 50 pipes sitting on his desk. My father liked smoking pipes and much like Gino had different pipes or combinations of pipes. But I never understood why he needed more than one and he was certainly not going explain it to me, as he understood I only had a fleeting interest in the answer. (I think there is a lesson here for me in regards to my own nephews!).
But I was touched by that picture on his wall. Oh, I certainly knew who it was.
It’s his friend, or really mentor, Senor Carini from Gino’s first car dealership. I remember meeting and seeing Carini often in the Alfa Romeo dealership that Gino had for 25 years. A tall, very elegant man, with a chiseled face that always had a pleasant smile and a kind word for someone like me in my stumbling Italian.
Back then, Gino was a young wheeler-dealer, (now he is an old wheeler-dealer), but he always deferred to Carini due to the man’s vast experience and steadfast style.
So, it was appropriate that Gino has Carini’s picture on his office wall, while having no other pictures, not even of his devoted wife and brilliant daughter. (though there may be a picture of them on this cluttered desk)
Carini passed away a long time ago. But seeing his picture on the wall reminded me of how faithful Gino has also been to our friendship. Though good times and bad, more family than friend. Always there to help, advise, console, even during times that were not so good for him.
That evening, as I thought of Gino and his life, his successes and disasters, one thing remained firm and fast in his life, his devotion to family and friends. His acknowledgement that his success was due to people like his mentor Carini and his wife and now, also, his daughter.
So now, in his third car dealership, and probably, hopefully, his most successful, his humility is evident for all to see.
Because whose name is on the building? Not his, as it was in the past; but that of his mentor and friend, Carini.
Had Donald Trump had even an iota of this humility, he would be our next President.
It’s a heart wrenching story; difficult enough to live though, probably even harder to write about.
So that ended my pity party pretty quick.
I had a close call with a submerged jetty in Florida. We’d only had Dauntless 8 months at that point. For something so dangerous, basically a rock wall just under water, the charts whispered Danger, instead of yelling it. I slowed and finally figured it out in the nick of time. It is one of the reasons I now travel with two navigation programs running. When the situation gets complicated a second view is extremely helpful.
The chart data is not incorrect; it’s just our mind is not seeing what it expects. Therefore, it tries to come up with a logical explanation based on its initial (false) assumption. A dangerous false path. A primary cause of aircraft accidents in fact.
And it happens in the classroom all the time, especially in science, even more so in Earth Science. In Earth Science classrooms students are learning concepts for everyday physical occurrences that they see all the time, like phases of the moon or why the sun rises in the east. But long before they step into any classroom, their minds have already developed an explanation. Many times, that initial explanation is incorrect, though logical with a limited number of facts.
A Harvard study looked at this phenome using Harvard students, who presumably had had a good science education just to get into Harvard in the first place. They found that students, even after having been taught the correct explanation for various physical phenomena, generally reverted back to their initial false explanation. In other words, it is difficult to un-teach concepts that have been incorrectly conceived. (This was a major focus of my second Master’s, in Science Education).
Tragedies happen because even in the face of new information, facts on the ground so to speak, we ignore what’s in front of us and keep trying to fit what we’re seeing with our initial explanation.
Earlier this summer, cruising south along the coast of Ireland, we were cruising at night because of the tides and currents. I see a red light in the sky off in the distance. Looking at the chart, the only explanation I could come up with was it looked like a radio tower on land about 10 miles in front of us. I don’t see any other lights, therefore it’s not a boat, otherwise I would see some combination of red, green or white light, at least two out of those three. There was nothing on the radar within 3 miles.
The seas were a bit rough, so we were bouncing around a bit and I attributed the movement of the red light to that, since radio towers on land don’t move. I periodically look at this light for the next 15 minutes. I’m sitting in my usual spot on the starboard side of the bench seat in the Krogen pilot house.
About a minute from impact, I realize it’s a sailboat coming directly at us. I grab the wheel, turning hard to starboard. He passes about 100 feet off our port side. I hail him on the VHF radio, “Sailing vessel showing a top red mast light”. He doesn’t answer, but his light suddenly turns white. Yes, he was moron, but I let him get so close because initially my mind had decided I was looking at a light far away and it then tried to fit that assumption to subsequent facts as they materialized.
Most of the time we catch it in time; sometimes we don’t.
OK, I’m not so young anymore; well at least not physically.
Yesterday, I decided to tackle the laundry basket of papers, books, magazines and miscellaneous stuff that should have been thrown away last year. OK, actually two laundry baskets, plus a few smaller bins.
My bicycle was also part of the melee, the last time I rode it was in Sweden, last September. I really liked Sweden. If I get back to Northern Europe, it will certainly be because Sweden has much of the best cruising grounds in Northern Europe.
Poland intrigues me also, but not for the cruising, but for the people and food. Both wonderfully warm and tasty.
But, now my vision is looking west. And there will be a westward component for a long time to come. So while Sweden is only 2,000 miles away, I’ll probably put 20 times those miles before I get back there.
One of my current homepages is the Atlantic Analysis from NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center. I don’t spend a lot of time with it, but I do like to check it out every time I am connected to the WWW.
The current map shows the large high pressure area that pretty much lives over the eastern Atlantic. That observation at 29N, 16W is the Canaries. There will be a similar pattern when we finally leave in late November and I should be able to follow that 1020mb isobar for much of the way all the way to Barbados. The Kadey Krogen was born for following seas. She must like her behind being pushed along.
Well the bicycle is attached to the wall as it was two years ago on the east bound passage. Many of the papers have been sorted and put or thrown away.
I’m doing this now because I’ll be Missing in Action (MIA) for the month of October. I’ll be in the USA and Italy, so Dauntless needs to be ready in early November. Leaving the boat for a month in southern Spain is not inexpensive. At this point it looks like my best option is to pull her out of the water and let her be on the hard for 30 days. I had previously not considered this option, but a little mishap in docking a couple weeks ago, made this option very attractive.
Yes, I have a 5-foot scar down the side of the new painted hull. F…ing annoying.
I hardly spoke to myself for days!
Just writing about it is annoying so, that’s all for now folks.
Being tied up in the Puerto Deportivo de Rota these last few days has been a welcome respite from the wind and waves that give Dauntless it’s gentle rocking motion.
It has also given me a break; time to relax, while not having to plan the next day’s, week’s destinations.
So as I lay in my bed early this morning, I thought I heard the pitter patter of rain. The more I listened, the more I was convinced it was raining. I had left the windward Dutch door in the pilot house open as the boat cools each day. So if it was raining, I needed to get my ass out of my cozy bed and close up the boat. But since arriving in Rota, I have not seen even one cloud in the sky. Therefore, before going back to sleep, I convinced myself I was imagining it.
When I awoke again, I thought it must be just after sunrise, as it was a bit dark out.
Well, it was at least an hour past sunrise as it was almost 09:00! And the darker skies were caused by clouds, you know those things that produce RAIN!
And it had rained, not much, the decks were still damp. As for the pilot house, whatever was wet, was now dry, so all was well.
I have some travelling to do to the USA and Italy during October, so this is our mid-cruise rest.
Though now, I am looking down the road to November and December. I spent the morning looking on-line for more information of boats cruising to Morocco. Cheap fuel, coupled with an exotic location is a strong attraction for me. An interesting post about a cruising boat to Morocco
As summer turns to fall, I realize it’s time to start pinning down the crew for the passage from the Canaries to the Caribbean. Before I go to Cruiser’s Forum and other sites for finding crew, I thought I throw it out there for the followers of this blog.
I’m looking for one person or a couple to crew Dauntless for the passage from either Morocco or the Canaries to Barbados. This will mean about 5 weeks from the end of November through December. It’s 18 days to Barbados and another 4 or 5 days from Morocco, plus the week spent in the Canaries. Email me if interested.