Still Plugging Away in Vallejo, But a New Tale of Adventure and Woe on the High Seas

My fresh water replumbing job was 75% done yesterday, today it’s 50% and even that took a couple of hours. Suffice to say that the floor of closet now looks like Charlie Kruger took to it with a chain saw. No pictures, since many who read this are carpenters or at last know how to work wood and the pictures are not fit for a mature audience.

My beloved grill already for another 5 years

But it does bring back some painful memories. My first wife had asked me many, many times to repaint some chairs we had. Finally, I did. I laid the yellow paint on nice and thick, so the old color would not show through. I was pleased, though they took days to dry. Finally, I presented my masterpieces and she asked me about those drip marks. What drip marks? They weren’t there when I put them to dry. I hope she’s not reading this and cringing.

I stuck to things mechanical and electrical after that.

Who looks at the bottom of the closet anyway?

I have finished some small things though. I replaced both burners and the electric igniter  on my Weber Q300 grill. That grill has spent 5 years on the ocean. I’ve been quite pleased with it.

I also installed the new thermostat in my Raritan water heater. I did notice in my travel this week that both the thermostat and heating element are available at your local Home Depot for roughly half the price. It’s expensive to print the word “marinized” on the box.

The tangle around the prop that was removed today

Last, but not least, I had a diver come by to check my bottom. Well, Dauntless’ bottom. And sure enough, I had a little collection of lines around my prop. I’m so happy. Coming up the California coast, I thought I felt a slightest of vibrations. Almost like a shudder every few seconds. It would not have been noticeable to anyone else and Larry didn’t feel it, but I knew. Even wanting to be wrong about it, I knew. I was worried that I had tweaked the prop. Worse yet I thought I had tweaked it by doing something stupid. Yes, even stupider than the last stupid thing.

We were underway from Ensenada to San Diego, eagerly anticipating the celebration with fireworks and fire boats that was sure to wait us in the old U.S. of A. It had been 4 years after all.

This shows the Maretron Data of Pitch (left) and Roll (right). You can see where I deployed the paravane because the roll was reduced by more than half at about the 28 minutes ago mark. You can see that it also reduced the pitch, but that is not to be expected. It happened this time because of the combination of NW swell and West wind waves as were headed NNW.

The wind was light, 10 knots from the west on our port beam. With the added Pacific swell from the northwest, the boat’s rolling had increased as the day wore on. By early afternoon, the roll was 10° to starboard and about 5° to windward or port. But occasionally the roll increased to 15° & 10°. That’s a difference of 25° and usually is the point where I really notice the roll and so I will put one or both paravane birds out. In this case, I just put the windward bird out. That would dampen the roll about 50% and we only lost 0.4 knots. A good price to pay for a nicer ride.

This picture I took as the boat slowed down, so the bird was back under the water.

Suddenly, close to the USA-Mexico border, the ride of the boat abruptly changed. It became very smooth. I jumped up from the pilot house settee to look at the paravane and see that we had snagged hundreds of feet of line connected to pots, I guessed. I estimated hundreds of feet, since I could see at least 100 feet strung in the air, then to the bird which was well out of the water.

I chopped the power, the boat slowing quickly. But now, the line of the pots was snagged on the bird, but stopped dead in the water, with the pole vertical, we had all the dead weight of whatever that line was attached to.

I got the not so bright idea to go in reverse. Possibly, the line would un-snag itself at that point. It’s worked in the past, but no luck this time.

Larry and I heaved and heaved and got the line up to the bird, at which point, we cut the snagged line away. This line also had several floats on it. Once cut away, the floats and line and floating right next to the hull amidships.

Until now we had done almost everything right. I just needed to be a little patient.  But patience is not a virtue I have been gifted with. I decided to go forward to get away from the floats. Yes, by running over them. Sounds stupid even in the writing. Sure enough, within seconds the line was in the prop. I stopped the motor and cursed at my stupidity.

That done, I put her in reverse, as I have unwound lines that way also. In this case, no and hell no. There came a hellish scream, which I attributed to a float being wound around the prop scrapping the hull.

Wow, as I write this, details came back that I totally forgot about!

I went in the water. I lowered the swim ladder, climbed down the ladder to the lowest rung and stood there, while Larry handed me the boat hook. I was able to snag the line using the boat hook, since it was about 10 feet under the water.

We got that line up to the boat and cut it.

I then backed up again and we were free.

But from then on, I felt this slight shudder. Had I tweaked the prop? I didn’t know until today.

I do have a SALCA cutter anode (model 2000, 2″ diameter) on the shaft, just in front of the prop. I’m sure it has saved me many times and even this time, may have helped. But that pile of lines now on the dock, was wrapped around the prop since San Diego.

In thinking about this incident, I also realize that the paravanes were well designed for incidents like this. I’m sure that is the most force put on that pole and lines since installation. The 3/8” Amsteel Blue line fore guy did its job. To stop the roll suddenly and slow the boat so abruptly, there must have been thousands of pounds of force to the aft on that line. It’s tied off permanently at the bow hawsepipe and cleat. I have it doing 4 turns over the cap rail, with a clove hitch before it’s tied off on a cleat. Thus, the cleat never really sees significant force, even under these circumstances.

Thank you, John Duffy in Miami, for doing such a great job with the paravanes.

I think I’ll have a celebratory drink, since I missed the fireworks and fireboats in San Diego.\

And I’m looking for a decently priced Hookah outfit. I need to be even more self reliant.

 

 

The Weather Intensifies; A Day by Day Summary Cape Cod to Flores

A Day by Day Summary Cape Cod to Flores, the Azores, 2230 nm, 20 July to 05 Aug 2014

20 July, 06:00, we left with the tide, as had a few hours on the Narragansett River, then Buzzards Bay to the Cape Cod Canal and across the Bay, anchoring at 21:00 that night. 91 nm,

21 July, anchored in Provincetown Harbor.  Very foggy, had to top up the tanks and repair VHF antennas, none of my VHF radios was working! Discovered that I had connected two antenna cables to each other, and one old Loran cable to the PH VHF, let the Shenanigans begin.

22 Jul, NO GO, Water maker not making water, changed fuel polish filter and one primary engine fuel filter.  The shenanigans continue as it takes me hours to figure out I have water maker valve set to Clean, thus no water.  We finally leave as fog breaks at 12:00 noon.  An hour later, the one and only boat we talk to the entire trip asks if I have seen any whales, I tell him we’re headed to the Azores.  He doesn’t get that answer very often. Yes, all the radios now work.

23 July, A strong S to SW winds 15 to 20 knots all night has kept us from turning more east (as many of you have noted).  The great circle route does pass just south of Nova Scotia, so with the winds pushing us that way, we take it as an omen to stop.  We pull into Shelburne, NS at 14:35 on the 24th.  We refuel, three times I say gallons and they give me liters. Luckily, I’m not a 767.  That night, when paying we realize the mistake and top up the next morning. Yes, that counts as a shenanigan.

25 July, Underway again, hopefully next stop, the Azores.  Keep rpms between 1500 & 1600 for the next 5 days.  The sight tubes on the tanks do not come into play until the tanks are about 1/3 down, therefore I will not have an accurate read until then. Southwest swell only 1-2 ft., light westerly winds all day and night.  Water maker auxiliary pump stops working, and the water maker was not working since it lost it prime.  I work on pump, pulling it out and finally just bypassing the pressure switch.  All is working OK. With the light winds, we were trying to get as far south as possible, knowing the SW winds would return.

26 July, No change in weather (wx) or course, at 9:00, the water maker was stops working again.  No power at all. Thought it was the relay, change relay, no change. Discover it is the tube fuse had toasted itself.  I put a spade fuse in, but the wires were too small and it cooks itself within minutes.  Luckily, I’m feeling all the wires as this is going on, and no other wires got even warm.  I decide to go without the fuse.  Never had another problem (but it doesn’t stop you from worrying about it!) and it was just now in writing this, that I remembered I was supposed to get new fuse.

27 July, Broken clouds all day with rain showers and thunderstorm, changed course to 135°, Southeast, speed is changing from 4.2 to 7.8 knots, we are clearly in the Gulf Stream eddies. We go all evening close to 8 knots.  This is the first day; we did not have some minor mechanical problem to deal with!

28 July, rain showers and Thunderstorms all day, winds getting stronger, south or SW 15 to 25, at 9:00 turned off all electronics for about an hour as we passed thru one line of cells, by 10:30 we were past that and all was normal again, the winds are strong from the south, so the paravanes are really working. At 11:30, we hear a noise that sounds like a pistol hot. Not having a pistol on board, we were worried.  I look to see that the 3/8” bolt for the mast cleat for the starboard paravane has sheared off. Quickly, neutral, to get pressure off of mast and I go up to fly bridge as boat is rolling around.  I re tie up-down line, which transfers force from paravanes to mast, and make a hitch around mast and tie it off at the boom. This turns out to be really effective and in a few days, I retied the other cleat too.  Oh, I forgot that wasn’t my first solution; my first solution was to tie it on another cleat that was on the mast.  As I watched it bend that cleat as we got underway, I decided that I needed a new solution.wpid-20140728_104746.jpg

29 July, at 2:45 upon our watch change, I decided it was a good time to add to quarts of oil to the running engine.  After much ado, it was a non-event. Much messier in a car.  Scattered clouds, SW winds at 10 to 15 continue.  1080 miles to go 😮

30 July, Sct clouds, winds still SW but less than 10 kts, no whitecaps!, we stopped at noon to pull in paravanes (they slow us up about ½ knot). Took this opputunity to take a swim.  The water was so blue. Also took this relatively calm period to tighten the paravane stays and the mast stays.  We spent the next 30 hours without the paravanes. This was the only time all trip without them.

31 July, nice weather continues. I tell Julie that this is what I had hoped for for the entire trip. By 18:00, the southerly swell causes us to put the paravanes back out. We had also gotten an easterly wind on our bow.  This was causing a pitch that coupled with the roll was becoming unpleasant, so the birds went out and the ride became ok, though still pitching.

1 Aug, another nice day, light easterly winds continue, so the ride wasn’t that smooth, but OK. Later on in the afternoon, I do what I told everyone I wouldn’t. I stopped the engine.  I wanted to check the new fan belt tension, I also changed the other fuel filter and added ½ qt. oil. (I was proud of my 2 qt. guess the day before).  Fan belt was fine. Before stopping the engine, I did start the Gen. why, who knows, maybe the start battery would be dead.

2 Aug, our 4th day of nice weather, Julie took a swim too. Winds are SSW at 10, so paravanes are needed. But still nice, Saw dolphins.  This nice weather really helped our morale, we were more than half way and also we had stopped having a problem a day.

3 Aug, we’re making good time, 160 miles in last 24 hours.  We also saw out whales today, but winds are out of NE causing again that pitch and roll.

4 Aug, Thunderstorms in the early morning, I change course to avoid them and get further south.  A few hours later, we return to our easterly course, as the winds have picked up since noon. They are now up to 20 kts and the seas are building to about 6 ft., though we have kept it behind us, off the rear quarter.  For the next 48 hours this would be our challenge.

Our roll has increased, winds continue 240 at 15 kts gusting to 25, and we’re rolling 15° in each direction with the paravanes.  That’s not normal.  We are watching the birds in the water and they are doing this little circular motion, the port bird is running next to the hull of the boat, while the Stbd bird is running three feet outside the pole.  Very strange behavior.  We’ve had these smaller birds on since Rhode Island, and thought we saw no difference.

At 16:00, we stop, to reposition the angle of the poles, thinking, it will help.  We have a strange evening. The port pole occasionally jumps vertical, which makes us stop the boat, so it falls out again. Finally, at 23:00 I try to go to sleep.  It’s hard to sleep, for the first time all voyage, and sure enough in an hour I hear the pole go vertical again, but I figure Julie can handle it and she does. An hour later, the same thing. The boat is also rolling a lot, like 15 to one side, 20 to the other, that a delta of 35°, that’s like pre-paravane numbers.

The third time it happens, I figure I better get up, as Julie has had enough practice with the shenanigans.  I first try to change the AP, the boat does clearly not like some combination of something, so I do the easiest thing first. No change.

Finally at 02:00, 05 Aug, we pulled the old bird out of the lazerette and changed the port bird. Now remember, we were hesitate to do this because the boat is rolling like a.. And trying to retrieve a 40 lb. object can be dangerous.

As soon as we get underway, I see the port bird is now tracking straight AND the Starboard bird which had been coming out of the waves sideway, since it was also doing a circular thing, is now tracking straight. At 3:00 Julie goes to a well-earned bed and we power along with strong SW winds now up to 25 knots.

But I know we’ll be at Flores within 15 hours, in fact, we can see the cap cloud over the island,  the boat is going well and we still have 9” of fuel in each tank (about 160 gal). At noon, we decide not to wait for port, but to change the stud bird also, the seas have continued to build and are above 6 ft. and the roll is delta 20°

At 17:30 we sight the lighthouse, of Porto do Albarnaz.  While we have seen the islands on the radar for the entire day, that doesn’t count.

It was nice to see land, especially after the last hard 48 hours. But it wasn’t over.

Because of the large waves from the SW, we were not able to turn more southerly, so we had to keep a course that put us north of Flores, even though we were heading to the southern tip.  I hoped that once in the lee of the island, NE of Flores, we could turn south and the wind and waves would be smaller.  They were, but not at first, we had an hour after we turned on=f now going into these 8 ft. waves, being slowed to like 3 knots.  It was at this point that we had a strange thing happen. We got hit by a float?? It came flying across the bow, hit the pilot house window and bounced off into the dark ocean.

3 miles, one whole hour later, we were in the lee of the island and the waves were less than half.

We anchored in 35’ water outside the Porto das Lajes, 39° 22.897’N, 31° 09.991W at 22:00

Anchorage Porto das Lajes, Flores
Anchorage Porto das Lajes, Flores

Our first part of our Atlantic Passage was done.

And that’s why I didn’t write. I was resting.

Stay tuned to the same channel next week.

Thanks for joining us.

Dauntless is big
Dauntless is big

Surviving Boca Chita – It’s Harder than You Think

We had been anchored at Marine Stadium, just east of downtown Miami.  A gorgeous site, with a clay bottom, so very good holding for the anchor.  We had been here two days, so I was getting hot to trot.

Cumulus Mammatus Not the last time I'd see them this weekend either
Cumulus Mammatus
Not the last time I’d see them this weekend either

The National Weather Service had been forecasting a frontal passage for that day, Thursday, so I decided it was better to be underway during a storm, then anchored.  With land and other boats so close by, being blown about by changing winds is far more stressful for me, then to be buttoned up in the pilot house, with wind and rain lashing the windows.

We stopped at Crandon Park Marina to fill up one of two water tanks.  A nice place, with reasonable priced fuel (for southern Florida) and a really helpful, friendly staff.  I could see the storm clouds building to our west as we started on the three hour, 15 nm trip south to Boca Chita.

And then it got strange.

My autopilot (ComNav) compass, a fluxgate compass (for those who care), is usually 10 degrees off of magnetic, but at least it is consistent.  Consistent that is until you flush a toilet.  It took me 6 months to figure out why when on autopilot the boat would make a sudden turn, as the compass heading jumped 30°.  Turns out the fluxgate is located within 6 feet of the Lectsan Sanitation Processing unit, so the current thru the processing unit, is producing a magnetic field.  Umm, maybe with the new generation of marine mechanics, their video games expertise has superseded the need for electro-magnetic theory.   Maxwell’s & Ampere’s Laws?  We don’t need no stinkin laws.

Yes, I’m looking forward to the next 30 years with unanticipated glee.  Please Mister Old Person, show me how to get my thing (any electro-mechanical 

device) working again.  Sure, sonny, just grab this and yank here. 

Sorry, I digress.

Sunset
Sunset

Back to the Present

But, now with the storm bearing down on us, my autopilot compass was 90 to 180 degrees off and not steady wither. Totally worthless, and then the strangeness happened.  My Raymarine GPS compass was also off by at least 40 to 80 degrees.  Now that never happened before.

My Polar Navy gps was working fine, as was the Raymarine course over ground (cog), but to steer a heading, I, or actually, my crewmate for this leg of the adventure, Richard, no not me, another Richard, was steering, using the good old magnetic compass to steer by.

First, I decided to try to recalibrate the Raymarine compass, as it has always been good till now.  It consists of making a number of circles.  While we were circling, I figured I may as well recalibrate the ComNav also, as it also needed to do circles.  After about 10 minutes and five circles, they each said they were calibrated.  We continued south, into strong winds, but only 2 foot waves.

Within, a minute or two, the ComNav settled to it normal state of being, about 10° off magnetic, but it was consistent.  In the meantime, the Raymarine went all wacky again.  So, it’s Tango Uniform.

I was a bit disappointed to get to Boca Chita before the storm.  I actually like storms at sea.  There is nothing to bang into and nobody to bang into you.  It’s freedom.

In this case, the winds had built to ferocious westerlies, 25 knots gusting to the low 40s.  Boca Chita is a small harbor, in the shape of an square with rounded corners, about 300 feet on a side.  The narrow entrance faces west, so as I entered, the wind was right behind me and I made a wide circle to the right, intending to anchor in the southwest corner.  As I straightened up the boat, near the south wall, the winds were up to 45 knots (50 mph, 80 kph).

The plan was to tie a midships port line and use that as a spring, to bring the boat to a halt as it pivots against the wall as I give it full right rudder.

A great plan; the problem was the “helpers” on the dock.  They are incapable of having the slightest clue about boat handling, vectors or anything remotely associated with physics (the whole universe.  Now, you can mitigate this incompetence, if you are lucky enough to get someone, who will at least follow directions.

We weren’t.

We got the braniac, who decided he could halt the 40,000 lb. boat by holding the line, pulling and putting his whole 150 lbs into the effort.  As the boat pulled him down the dock, he almost trips over the first cleat and is almost running as he passes the second cleat, while Dauntless is closing to within 10 feet of the corner wall, I yelled for the second time, this time even more forcibly and maybe even some expletive language, “put the fucking line on a cleat.”  Somehow it sinks in, he does, and as I crank over the wheel we come to prefect stop.

Later, I see the helper and thank him.  He does not invite me for a drink.

We would spend the next three days amazed that the number one maneuver to tie up was to come straight in, hit the dock with your bow with varying degrees of force, throw someone on shore a line and then have them pull the boat to the dock.  If I saw it once or twice, I wouldn’t have believed it.  But we saw it almost hourly.

I got to put my electric fuel pump to use one again.  This time, while running the generator I was also polishing my fuel and transferring it to one tank to get an accurate measurement of quantity.  All off a sudden, I hear the generator lowering rpms, as its output voltage drops from 120 to about 60.  I quickly, take it off line and jump into the engine room.  I realize almost immediately the problem is that it is sucking air from the empty tank.  I close that tank’s feed and reach for the little wireless relay remote that runs the electric fuel pump I installed with Richard’s help in Providence, RI.  I switch it on, but no change on the gen, but then recognize that I must close the gravity feed, otherwise the fuel pump just pumps the fuel back to the tank, since that is easier than thru the fuel filters.  As soon as I close that valve and open the valves putting the fuel pump in line, the generator goes back to its normal song.  I run the electric pump for another 30 seconds, then turn it off, it’s duty well done and the three days it took to find the right fitting and install, well paid back, yet again.

My aux electric fuel pump. The red handle is normal gravity feed to filters and then engine/generator
My aux electric fuel pump.
The red handle is normal gravity feed to filters and then engine/generator
My wireless relay for fuel pump. The green light below, is on, when the pump is on. (just in case a Chinese satellite activates the relay)
My wireless relay for fuel pump.
The green light below, is on, when the pump is on.
(just in case a Chinese satellite activates the relay)

Did I mention the first time I had to use it, I had just pulled away from the slip and in my pre start checklist, and I had turned off the fuel tank we were using?

Starving the main engine like that, as I ran the electric pump; I was happily bleeding air form the engine fuel filters, with a big grin on my face, as soon as the air was gone, I could switch the pump off immediately and the engine fired right up with nary a hiccup.

We are here in Boca Chita Key, part of the Biscayne National Park to get some work done on the boat on the cap and hand rails.  I like the dock, it makes easy work and the scenery can’t be beat.

Monday, we will be heading to the Miami River, where with the help of Parks, of Hopkins Carter Marine, he put me in touch with someone who should have an affordable slip for me.  Our paravanes are being fabricated as I write this and hopefully their installation will start Tuesday.

I’ll do a posting about the whole paravanes thing after the fact, so I do not have to eat any words.

Here are some pictures of Boca Chita, boats and the wild life.  Enjoy

A Beneteau in No Name Harbor
A Beneteau in No Name Harbor
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New Friends
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Some of the wildlife

All the pictures (well, most of them) can be found at:

http://dauntless.smugmug.com/organize/Winter-2013-14-Florida

A Contender
A Contender

I want to conclude the Bahamas Adventure with the Christmas Disaster

But before I tell the rest of the story of the summer Canada trip, in which there will be midnight dives, midnight docking, 12 knot currents, flying trawlers, flying people, swinging booms, crushing dinghies, crashing seas, the bureaucracies of the world at their best, BoatUS on the edge, Canadian customs, the ever vigilant USCG, pilot ships, thunderstorms, rain, ships passing in the night, lobster pots, lobsters, big tides and of course fog, fog and more fog.

I want to conclude the Bahamas Adventure with another lesson learned and disaster narrowly averted.

Christmas Eve, My crewmate, Chantal, and I returned to Bayshore Marina in Nassau.  She would be leaving to visit her parents the next day and I would be picking up Julie and two of our friends, Karen and Jason, who were coming back for more adventure, having shared some of the shenanigans of Maine this past summer.

The trade winds had continued to blow steadily out of the East and ESE at 15 to 22 knots for the entire week.  They were forecast to continue the next few days, so I decided to use the following seas they would produce and head to Andros Island.  Overall course would be WSW, so the winds and seas would be just off our stern and provide a great ride, as Dauntless loves having her rear end goosed.

I had already noticed and thought about two issues, two yellow, if not red flags. The first being the lack of anchorages in the area we were heading for and the second being that no one ever mentioned cruising to Andros island.  Everyone talked about the Abacos, the Exumas, Nassau, etc.  here was this big island, just 45 miles west, whose only redeeming value was that they produced much of the fresh water for Nassau.  Furthermore, looking at our planned anchorage, it would require an hour long threading of a narrow, unmarked channel.  I would use my very accurate, so far, Explorer Charts, and my Navionics app on my Samsung Note, as well as the Navionics chart on my Raymarine Chart plotter (6 years old data).  I felt confident that we could handle whatever came our way.

But I figured we would be getting off the beaten track. How bad could it be?

What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?

So Christmas Day starts out rosy and pink.  Beautiful sunrise, we get underway, backing up out of the marina, everything ship shape.  I had even written out and gone over some new household procedures with our guests, since a few things had changed since the summer.  I was feeling very organized and experienced!

Hubris.

First hour, we have to head SE to get around New Providence island (the island Nassau is on), it’s a bit of a rough ride with 3 to 4 foot seas rolling the boat 10° to 20°. But after an hour we turned southwest and the ride totally smoothed out.  A little after noon, we reached Tongue of the Ocean, where the water went from the Bahamas depth of 10 to 20 feet to over 4,000 ft. deep.

I took this opportunity to stop the boat, putting her in neutral.   The month before, I had taken a similar opportunity to take a swim.  Any thoughts of swimming quickly evaporated as dauntless broached (waves turning the boat perpendicular to the waves) within two minutes with a vicious roll almost 40 degrees.  As I used the wheel to pull myself up, I quickly put her in gear and pushed the throttle up to get steerage back.  No damage done, a little lesson learned.

Our charts indicated a very narrow marked (with pilings) channel extending ¼ mile due east of the Island, after which we would turn south and thread our way another 45 minutes south to an indicated anchorage at ———-

We did this, arriving at our planned anchorage about 4 p.m., about an hour before sunset.  Andros Island has a reef protecting much of the east side.  We had worked our way south, with the Island about ¼ mile to our west and the reef, indicated by a line of angry breakers, about ¼ mile to the east.

Seas had built to 4 to 6 feet out of the east.  The period was relatively short, about 6 seconds, but we were protected now by the reef and just had some small chop, though with continued strong easterly winds to contend with at anchorage.

Christmas Sunset over Andros Island. What you can't see the island, ...
Christmas Sunset over Andros Island.
What you can’t see the island, …

After getting the anchor set, letting out 100 ft. of chain in only 6 ft. deep water, I didn’t like what I was seeing.  In the Exumas, we were normally anchored just west of the cay.  The cay would protect us from the wind and waves and the beach would be very close, sometimes within 100 feet of white sand and blue, clear water.  I wasn’t seeing that here.  Instead, even though the reef protected us from the large waves, there was a surface chop that made the water turbulent.  The Island also was far away, maybe a half a mile, though the shallow water was very close.  Lastly, we were in a narrow channel, the wind was strong out of the east and to the west of us was shallow water and the island itself.  In other words, if we dragged anchor, we would be on the beach before I could ever say, WTF?

We had dinner, watched another pretty sunset and at 7 p.m. two hours after our initial anchoring, as I am finishing my glass of wine, I look at the window and to my dismay, I see we’re dragging, slowly for sure, but dragging none the less.

I call everyone to Action Stations.  Fire up the engine, decide where we need to be, haul anchor, move to the new spot, drop the anchor, set it, and wait.  It’s not holding.  We try again.  No luck.  And now, our situation is made even more uncomfortable, as we are sitting perpendicular to the wind, producing a yawing motion.  While not terrible, I figure let’s try an experiment, let’s put out a stern anchor!  With my motto being, there is a first time for everything, we talked it over and while we did not need a stern anchor, it wouldn’t hurt to try it now.

We did, and after an hour of moving, fiddling and other hijinks, we came to the conclusion that it was a waste of time.  Luckily, through foresight, luck, the gods or all three, it turned out to be relatively easy to retrieve (I am sparing you the gory details, but suffice it to say, this was an hour long production).

So, it’s 9 p.m., dark, windy and I’m ready for bed.  45 minutes later, the anchor alarm (Drag Queen) goes off. I just up, even bother to put on pants, start the engine and for the third time move the boat. I’m back in bed at 10 p.m.  Before even closing my eyes, as I think about the past few hours, I realize that Dauntless has moved roughly a foot a minute ever since we got here, so in one hour, we will again have moved 60 feet and what am I going to do then?

I screwed this pooch and there is only one answer.

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.