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!

Things that Go Bump in the Middle of the Night

Are Never Good.

This was written while recovering from an interesting experience.  One that I would hope not to repeat, but alas, one does not always get what one wants or even deserves!

The following was written July 18th, 2013 off of Jewell Island, Maine.

Just a few posts ago; I made the comment that learning takes work. So I had another learning experience last night.

Jewell Island Overhead July 2013
Jewell Island Overhead July 2013

The scene, I was anchored in the cove west of Jewell Island, there is also a spit of land to the west, making the cove about ½ mile long, but only 400 to 500 ft. wide.  The channel is considerably narrower and is probably less than 120 ft. wide.

This was my second night anchored in the same spot.  I actually stayed at this location because my anchor seemed well anchored.  Winds had been blowing 10 to 20 kts from the south, which is the same as the cove orientation (N –S).  I had about 90 ft. of chain out in about 6 ft. of water on a falling tide at this point.

1st red flag I ignored, about 12 hours earlier, about mid-way between high going to low tide, a sailboat anchored just to the SW of me and I asked him how much water he had where he was and he said, 8 ft., while at that time I only had 5 ft.  (I ignored it because I had been here for almost 24 hours already).

2nd red flag I ignored, there were 6 sailboats anchored in cove, spaced pretty evenly, and in line, but I was actually about one boat length (40 to 50 ft.) east of their anchor line.  But again, I had held well, so decided not to move a little more to the center (I was off center by about 50 ft.)

Line of other boats
Line of other boats

Just after dinner, I noticed a strong line of thunderstorms, associated with a cold front, moving from the WNW to the ESE just west of Portland.  Some spectacular lightning for about an hour.  Not knowing what to expect, but understanding there could be ferocious winds, I decided to start my main engine and stay up for the squall line’s passage.  Winds were strong, 20 kts out of the south and under those conditions, Dauntless seems to like oscillating between SE and SW, with half the time due South.

Much rain, lightning and then clearing skies right after.  The winds went calm. This was only a yellow flag. So about 11:00 p.m. I head for bed.  Anchor alarm set, I had it set for 80 ft., a little less than usual, (I usually use 120 ft.). I’m reading in bed about midnight, when I hear a noise, like a small bang from the deck above me (master cabin is forward).  But there was still some residual thunder around and thought maybe that what I heard.

3rd red flag ignored, Investigate all strange noises, immediately.

4th red flag…About 10 minutes later, my water bottle fell over.  What did I do? NOTHING. I figured I had put it on the counter too precariously.

Within about 5 minutes the boat like just fell over, listing about 25° I almost fell out of bed.  Hooray, I didn’t ignore this one.

I had trouble getting to the pilot house, felt like I was on a sailboat again. Dauntless was tilted to port about 25° increasing to almost 30° within 30 minutes.  I was too panicked to do anything about that though.  When I had grounded before, it was always symmetrical.  Clearly this time, I had some higher, harder ground right under the keel, so the boat flopped over.  I thought about what thru hulls I had on the now underwater port side, only the two head sinks. I went to close them and noticed smoke coming from the 120v outlet on the counter top. I felt the smoke, it was hot. I immediately turned off the inverter and then turned off all the 120v breakers. Smoke stopped and then I realized the outlet was half under water.

Went to other head, but no issues. I closed the thru hulls anyway.  Checked the bilge, thankfully no real water flowing, though some water was coming in seam under sink in midships head.  A trickle that was moving to forward bilge.

Finally, Dauntless seemed not to be increasing its list anymore. A few things in the galley went crashing, including a jar of instant coffee, which turned out to make more of a mess than anything else.

I took off what little clothes I had on and decided to walk around the boat, looking for any damage, on the outside.  Port side, my deck scuppers were just under water, there was only about 2 feet of water. Rudder seemed ok; prop was not in the mud, as I could turn it. (Did notice a nickel sized gouge in one blade), But at least the keel seemed to be protecting the prop and rudder.  Walked around stern, to starboard side, water here was about 4 feet deep.  Decided to use this opportunity to clean out two thru hulls that I thought may have been clogged for the last few weeks.  Felt good about that.

Crawled back into boat, dried myself off and wedged myself onto couch to wait to see what would happen next.  Low tide was just about here at this point, 12:45 a.m. at nearby island.  But now I had time to think. Who should I call, it was after midnight? I could call my wife, but then I would just worry her. I had enough worry for both of us.  I could call some other boat friends, but do they understand rounded full displacement hull shapes? I could call a few people who know Krogen’s, but then why wake them up? The situation was not getting any worse.  I could call BoatUS, but if they send someone out, they’ll just say let’s wait for the tide to return.

So I just worried. I was really calm on the outside, but inside I kept trying to envision the reason the boat was so listed and therefore what would happen as the tide started to come back in.  I remember reading a story of a sail boat in Alaska that was grounded in a similar way, but as the water came back up, the engine room ventilator came under water and the boat filled with water before it could right itself.  I started to worry irrationally that maybe the boat would just roll totally on its side. I realized that that would take some lifting force on the right side to happen and it made more sense that the port side would lift as the water came back and that Jim Krogen actually knew how to design a boat that would not turn turtle at the first opportunity.

I probably feel asleep for 45 minutes, and then when I awoke, I thought the list was the same, it certainly wasn’t worse and the tide had turned.  The beach was only 6 feet from the window at this point so every 5 minutes I tried to look at the same rock to see if there any difference.  About 2 a.m. I thought to download the inclinometer for my phone, did so, and measured a 25° list (I had guessed about that between 20 and 30).

At this point I checked the list about every 5 minutes and it was clearly getting better by about 1° every 5 to 10 min. Sure enough, by about 3 a.m. 2 hours after Low tide, the list was about 10°. By 4 a.m., it was close to normal and I decided to start the engine.  I did and noticed the exhaust was still about a few inches higher than normal, in other words the keel was still resting on something.

About 4:30 a.m. I decided it was time to do something.  I decided to not use the prop, just in case, but to use the windlass to pull me towards center channel. It worked.  Whenever the tension on the chain became a lot, I let it rest as the boat pulled forward. Once I could tell that boat was totally floating and had moved about 30 feet, I used the engine to move mid channel.

But now I had another problem.  I was surrounded on two sides by these dark sail boats that only had small anchor lights 50 ft. in the air.  A number of times as I tried to set my anchor, I was worried about backing into one of these boats. I thought that I better not make a bad situation worse by hitting another boat. So now was not the time to get giddy and make a bad problem far worse by hitting someone.

I took my time, shined my hand held spotlight on other boats a lot and 45 minutes later I finally got my anchor to set where I thought would be good.

I had good water and at 5 a.m. I went to sleep.  Getting up at 9, I noticed one of the sail boats leaving and I spent another 30 minutes moving to a better location where I was clearly in the middle of the channel.

Now, just after low tide, I still have 8 ft. under the boat, not 5.

In hindsight, besides the warning signs I ignored above, I think this occurred because since I had first anchored here, the winds were southerly, sometimes weak, sometimes strong, but pretty consistent, so Dauntless pretty much stayed parallel to the shore and although I was near the side of the channel; I was still in the channel.  Then, after the storm front moved thru, the winds went a little westerly, but then died.  I went to bed thinking that calm was good, but instead, it allowed the boat to move towards shore, without setting off the anchor alarm. The bow was still pointed to the middle of the channel, but my keel was now over the beach essentially.

Now, the boat’s all cleaned up and I’ll go to sleep early tonight.  I love this spot. I soaked in the water off the swim platform after cleaning the boat to cool off.

I think happy hour just started too.