20190713, 14 & 15 Blenkinsop Bay to Sea Otter Creek to Bella Bella BC

On these two and a half days, 13, 14 and 15 July 2019, Dauntless continues her northward trip up the Inside Passage in British Columbia to Alaska.

Highlights of this day include:

  • We race the Alaskan Ferry Columbia
  • We have a freshwater leak that empties our only full water tank
  • We stop early to rebuild the water maker, which only takes about 4 hours, only to discover that it didn’t solve the problem
  • Each day was 65 nm in 9 hours and 30 min on the 13th and just over 10 hours on the 14th.
  • First half of day 3, was just from Sea Otter Inlet to the Bella Bella dock where we hoped to get water for our freshwater tanks.

Low lights consisted of us spending 6+ hours rebuilding the Katadyn watermaker high pressure pump only to discover it did not solve the problem of the oil seal that was in the electrical motor portion of the water maker.

Upon close inspection, I had suspected as much before we started, but I was hoping for one of those boating miracles that was not to be.

For some reason, there does not seem to be a lot of places to stop and get fresh potable water along the BC portion of the Inside Passage.  The cruising guide did seem to indicate that water was available at Bella Bella, so that was our destination on the morning of the 15th.

Once docked, we found the hose, but it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the water. The valve was hidden just beyond alittle gate that made it difficult to see.

Once that was done, we filled both tanks and got underway to anchor for the night a few hours north in Mouat Cove.

Here is the video: Dauntless in the Inside Passage 13 July 2019

Surviving Winter on a Boat in Alaska

Dauntless in December

When I wrote Surviving Winter on a Boat back 8 months ago,  in mid-January 2020, we were coming thru the coldest period we would see all winter, and everything had worked as advertised.

It was not to last.  In fact, two weeks later, we had no heat and then no electricity.

Let’s check the videotape.

We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.

Wallas DT40 heater in the engine room, the exhaust pipe is on the top middle, hidden behind the black muffler.

And it did get cold. January temperatures went below freezing in the morning of January 1st, were in the teens in the second week and single digits mid-month. Through it all the Wallas DT40 heater worked well and keep Dauntless warm and cozy, as I wrote last January:

 I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a mattress heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.

At the coldest, with lows near 5°F and daytime highs in the low teens, the Wallas used 2 gallons of diesel per day if I ran it on high most of the time. During normal use, basically for the rest of the winter and spring, it averaged about 1 gallon per day, which is right in line with what the owner’s manual states. It’s certainly refreshing to have a company provide real data that hasn’t been lawyered to uselessness.

And then it warmed up and everything went to hell in a handbasket.

On January 20th, the temperature went above freezing for the first time since the cold snap has started a month ago.

What’s Hell in a Handbasket? Mix cascading consequences with trying to be a little too cute and a dash of inattention and you get no heat and soon no electricity.

It all started so innocently enough.

Back in the fall, when I had finally completed the installation of the Wallas DT40 heater (Wallas Finland Heater homepage) the 9 feet of 1” stainless steel exhaust hose ended in my propane locker. That didn’t seem like a good idea even to me, so I went to the local hardware store and got 3 feet of 1 ½ “ mild steel flexible hose because that is all they had.

I can make that work and I did. Nothing a little duct tape won’t solve. I was even proud of myself for making a large loop, in which I even thought to drill a hole for condensation water drainage.  Too small a hole as it turned out.

All went well for months, until the warm-up in late January. The Wallas turned itself off and would not run.

Knowing that water in the exhaust could be the culprit, it was the first thing I checked. But that was easier said than done. The Wallas heater is installed on the starboard side of the engine room, above the battery box. The exhaust hose runs straight up to the salon to the fly bridge.  I wanted to blow thru the exhaust hose. First, I had to take the heater off its mount. Then I hooked up the vacuum hose to blow and connected it to the exhaust.

It worked. I had also seen that my drain hole in the “U” of the exhaust pipe had sealed itself due to rust. So that’s why the ice and water had collected in the exhaust and when it got warm outside, the ice melted and the heater was on a low setting, so the water eventually clogged the exhaust causing the automatic shutdown.

The best laid plans of mice and men…

I drilled a much bigger drain hole, ¼” this time.

The heater started up and ran for 9 hours before shutting down for some problem. Strange.

I started it up again, and again it shut down after about 9 hours.

I called the US Distributor of Wallas products, Scan Marine USA in Seattle, Scan Marine Seattle homepage

Just wonderful people and truly knowledgeable. Bill is the resident expert and he was so helpful. I ended calling them a dozen times over the next week, as I would take the Wallas down and clean out the burner. It would then start, run ok, but shut down at some point on its own.

Scan Marine suggested I send the unit to them. But I wasn’t ready to quit yet.

When cleaning the burner, three parts are removed:

  1. The glow plug which starts the fuel burning,
  2. The fuel pipe, a 1 mm metal pipe that drips fuel into the burner
  3. The thermocouple which measures the heat out put to make sure fuel is shut off if there is no fire.

I had cleaned that little 1mm fuel pipe numerous times, since it will clog if the burner gets sooted up, like with a semi-blocked exhaust!

I had spent what seemed like hours in the engine room, holding the exhaust pipe, checking if it was getting warm, then hot. By then I knew every little noise it made. The minute ticks of the fuel pump, the fan blowing in the burner, etc.

I finally saw a pattern. It was starting ok, fuel was going in, it was burning (since it was getting hot), but then it would shut down, like I had turned it off (though I would get a warning that it had an unusual shutdown).

As I thought about its operation: it was getting fuel and air, but it was turning itself off.

Finally, at my wits end I went online to see how I could test the thermocouple.  Right away, I found someone who had measured the resistance of the thermocouple at about 9 ohms.

Umm, mine was more than 2200 ohms.

Called Scan Marine and they told me the music to my ears, that anyone with no heat wants to hear: “Our mail goes in in 30 minutes, but I’ll make sure your thermocouple makes the pickup

It arrived in Wrangell, two days later. J

Its resistance was 7 ohms. That boded well.

Put it in, turned it on and it’s been running normally the last 7 months.

Thank you Wallas for building a heater that is fixable.

Thank you, Scan Marine, for holding my hand through the process and then getting me the parts quickly.

Looking back, here’s what happened:

  1. I extended the exhaust pipe, but then put too small a drain hole in mild steel.
  2. With the heater running near high with very cold temperatures outside, the exhaust air was hot enough to prevent any water collection, even with the now rusted over hole.
  3. As soon as it warmed up, ice melted in the exhaust ANDI turned down the heater, resulting in cooler exhaust, allowing water to collect, semi-blocking the exhaust, then blocking it causing a shut down.
  4. In the process of cleaning the heater too many times because I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working correctly once I had cleared the exhaust, the thermocouple wire broke, but not obviously. Therefore, it would run, but as time went on, the wire insulation got a little warmer, allowing the wire to stop making contact at the break.
  5. Once the thermocouple reported no heat due to the wire break, the heater would turn off the fuel pump, as to not pump fuel with no fire going (even though the fire was going).

Not the first time, in diagnosing one thing, I cause something else to break.

On the other hand, I love the Wallas and would buy it again if need be. It’s expensive, but worth it. It is as quiet as advertised. At night in bed, with the Wallas on high speed fan, I can not hear it, but instead do hear the muffin fan on the fridge compressor. The Wallas is that quiet, with it’s mufflers on the two hot air ducts.

The only thing that made this week with no diesel heater tolerable was having a mattress heating pad on our bed. It allowed us a decent night’s sleep in a cold boat. Don’t leave home without it

This is the 120v one that I have had for a year now and would recommend my 120v Mattress Pad. I hesitated getting a 120v pad because there are issues with noise in the transformer, they can produce a buzz that’s audible in a quiet room. This 120v unit has no noise at all.

Previously, I had used a 12v hating pad. The first one lasted 4 years and I loved it. It didn’t need an inverter to run and it really warmed the bed on cold winter days in New England and Northern Europe. So, when it started not to work, I bought the same one My 12v Mattress Pad. this one only worked for a couple of months before it too, started simply stopped working. So, I gave up on them. Stupidly, I should have returned the second one while under warranty, but for some reason, that never occurred to me.

Now, while we spent this week with no heater. I did have the two A/C reverse cycle units on the boat. They will provide heat. But we only had on 25-amp circuit to the boat. So that took some jury rigging to turn on one heater or the other.

Worked fine until I also decided to install an Automatic Generator Start that same week.

When it rains, it pours!

But that’s the next story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakup Sex

Quick update. I now have on my You Tube Channel the video that does with this blog post. It’s here Vlog 13 20190704 , The roughest 3 minutes crossing the Columbia Bar and the aftermath

Enjoy

I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.

The chart shows me leaving Astoria

Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.

Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.

After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.

My Route over the bar.

My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
  • Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
  • It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.

    The Maretron data showing pitch and roll

The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.

The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.

In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.

But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.

If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.

Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.

A great afternoon

I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.

But not quite.

Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.

I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.

But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.

As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.

A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.

Who can say no to that; not I.

Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.

By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )

It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.

A perfect night

You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.

 

 

On a Roll

Yesterday, I completed two things on the nice to do list: replacement of the Raritan water heater anode and replacement of a terminal block for my 120-volt neutral circuits in the engine room distribution panel.

The new anode is on the right

After two months, I’ve finally hit my stride and actually feel confident in what I am doing. That manifested itself in those two completions yesterday. Instead of taking a couple of days, they took a couple of hours and I didn’t have to redo anything.

This got me to thinking about a job interview I had just the other day.  I found myself talking about the importance of not overwhelming students, especially students who may be far being in whatever work that needs to be done.

I mentioned in the interview that even when a student was far behind, let’s say they need to complete 20 projects or work assignments by years’ end. It’s already February and they have nothing done, with only a few months to go. It’s easy for a teacher to just be upfront about it, if you don’t get these done; you’ll fail.

I’ve seen teachers do that countless times. But it won’t accomplish the stated goal of getting that student to be successful, (though it does make the class smaller). If a student sees a mountain of work to do, they never get started, discouraged, not seeing how they can get it all done, they give up before they even start.

That’s me, now and then.

My driving lights are lighting up that sailboat

So, two months ago, when I made my list of the top half dozen things to get done before departure, I knew the last was far bigger, but I couldn’t overwhelm myself. I didn’t want to paralyze myself with indecision. Now, I know many of the readers here are successful boaters because they just see what needs to be done and get to doing it.

In the same way half of all students are impervious to the adults in their lives who get in their way, be it parents, teachers, or anyone else. They’re going to learn and be successful no matter what.  It’s not by chance that the historic graduation rate in the last 50 years continues to be about 50 to 60%.

I’m not in the group. I needed a teacher to be able to at least steer me in the right direction or a teacher who could tell I was bored to death and challenge me in ways the curriculum didn’t. The same way a good teacher will give make-up work to a student in a piecemeal fashion. Do this for me tonight and I’ll give you something else tomorrow. At the same time scaffolding the rigor of the work. So, in a short time, they are whipping out stuff they never thought they could do just weeks ago.

Two months ago, starting with a list of 6 items, I knew I’d do more. I’ve done three times that amount so far. While moving the instruments on the mast, I knew to check the paravane fittings. The clevis pins needed to be checked and I wanted new cotter pins. I also noticed too much wear on the main fitting to the mast, so I needed to add some washers and new pins.

As I did more and more, sometimes taking a week to complete one checklist item, but I also did another half dozen items, that were not on the checklist.  I became more confident.

Confidence is the other side of the equation. When I finally completed the LED project, which involved 4 wires, with four conductors each (a positive, and 3 separate grounds that control the three colors, blue, red and green), I was very pleased to see it all worked as anticipated. I had three switches to turn each respective set on or off, plus three additional switches to control the colors, since I figured I didn’t need any complicated controller.

That it all worked, gave me the confidence to tackle the 120v terminal bar, that seemed straight forward, but you never know. When that went well, without me having to redo stuff, I tackled the water heater anode and that went even quicker.

The order I tackled these projects mattered. I have read education studies that when formulating a test, the order of the questions can make a significant difference.  The same questions in a different order can make a significant difference in student performance. Teachers have known this forever. If you put the hardest questions first, it discourages students. Why a teacher would do that is a story I will save for the book I’m thinking about writing. But it also goes to our overall 60% graduation rate.

When I took the test for my NMC Master’s license, the lights and signals test was the hardest for me. It was hard enough to remember red over green. Was that fishing or trawling or neither? But the day shapes were even harder for me, since I was not using them myself.

For a week I took practice tests. The passing requirement for that portion of the test was the highest at 93+%; meaning out of 33 questions, you could only get 2 wrong.

During my practice tests, I got anywhere from 65 to 80% correct. Well off the mark.

Test day came up and we took the other three portions of the test first that were easy for me. Then the dreaded lights and signals. The first 5 or 6 questions were “easy” in that I was sure of the answers. By the end of those 33 questions, I was positive that I missed only one!

Well, I missed two, but that was still enough to pass. I was elated, but I also recognized that the question order made a significant difference for me that day. Because I felt confident in those first half dozen questions, I didn’t stress and overthink the rest.

In the same vein, when I started working on the boat projects, I knew the order made a difference.

Since I whizzed through those two things yesterday, I decided today to tackle the Purisan project. Two months ago, I’d not even mentioned it because …

But now, it’s almost done, but that’s for tomorrow’s story.

 

 

Slowly, But Surely, Things Are Getting Done

But does it have to be so slow!

Just a beautiful picture of the boats and the Mare Island Bridge in Vallejo

I’ve noticed, not for the first time, I may add, that I never start and finish anything in a direct line. Project A starts, but at some point, I’ll start Project B and maybe even C, while A limps along.

Why, I wondered? It certainly seems inefficient and worse of all; I’m always tripping over all the “stuff” laid out. I won’t even take a picture of the chaos as it’s embarrassing, but evidently not so embarrassing that I would change my ways.

So, why do I do it?  It’s combination of my ineptness whenever I do something the first time, coupled with my unease, once I see that I should have done it differently and probably better. My brain, all brains, need processing time. “Sleeping on it” is part of that process.

My instruments on the laid down mast

Therefore, while it may seem inefficient at first glance, there is almost nothing on Dauntless that survived the first cut and sometimes even the second cut.

My mast instrument project is finally done. I also replaced all the cotter pins and a few clevis pins also. The rigging for my paravane stabilizers was carefully inspected also. I was pleased to see only minor wear over the last 25k+ miles and 5 years. Sad to say, I’d say that 80% of my cruising has needed the paravanes deployed. Sad because it means I need to stay home more often, but then when your home is constantly on the move, …

I did update my C-Maps for the west coast and Alaska. Figured there was no reason to save it for the last minute. I also have a rough cruise plan to get to Seattle in June. That will be in an upcoming post.

I was hoping to finish the replacement of my driving light bracket and cross bar with the new stainless-steel versions. All has gone to plan, except I have discovered I made the driving light brackets 9 mm to narrow, that’s about a third of an inch.

Oh well, luckily, I’m flying to Vietnam next week for two weeks and I can get new brackets made for a couple of bucks. Now, the plane ticket is another story.

I just soldered these 4 wires

Easy Come, Easy Go.

Dauntless without her driving lights (But how is she going to sea?)

 

 

Seasickness

Getting or not getting “seasick” is a subject I have been meaning to write about for quite awhile now. I had partially addressed it in the excerpt below which I published two years ago. But I never made the follow-up post of my reflections on the subject and conclusions after the three month and 5,000-mile passage from North Africa to the Panama Canal. A video I made on our nice Christmas Day

Christmas Dinner with Micah on the Atlantic 2016

That’s 5,000 miles in strong, 18 to 36 knot winds produced by the northeasterly trade winds. While these winds are called the NE Trades, because that is their long-term direction, the actually winds on this passage were NE through SE, with three distinct swells from those directions with differing amplitudes and periods.  This produced 8 to 16-foot seas with relatively short periods of 6 to 8 seconds from the NE thru the SE. Not the most pleasant conditions, even for a boat like Dauntless that loves following seas. In fact, this was the most difficult conditions with following seas we’ve ever encountered.

Some of the worst conditions possible if one is prone to seasickness, with the boat corkscrewing its way across the Atlantic at 7 knots. I expected that as I got my sea legs, sea sickness would be just a bad memory.  But no, in fact, it was to the contrary. It got me to wondering what was really going on.

Stress builds and crossing an ocean is stressful in the best of conditions. For one, my insurance does not cover me past 200 miles off-shore. So, abandoning ship is not an option. For another, with a three-week passage, you are asking every component to work 24/7 for that time period and if something does go wrong, how to minimize the damage.  Therefore, it’s a constant weighing of risks, rewards.  E.g. Can I fix this problem with the engine running or do I increase the chances of something else going wrong by turning off the engine?

This is what I had written two years ago, just days after leaving Morocco for the Canaries at the very start of my second Atlantic Passage:

Morocco to the Canaries

Four days on the North Atlantic, 600 nm, four days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, what could go wrong?

For one, we found the weak link on this Krogen, it’s me.

In my first year of cruising, I would get sea sick maybe a quarter of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like three-quarters of the time.

What’s changed? Who knows?  I’m older, but usually one’s body becomes more adapted. No, I think the problem is in my brain. 

When conditions are rough, I know to take a remedy or put on the Scopolamine transdermal patch. I’ve been using the patch for more than 3 years, now all of a sudden, the patch gives me a bad rash, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night before departure.

With nice cruising conditions, or I should say, relatively nice, with winds and seas less than 15 knots and 3 feet (1m), respectively, I never had to worry, now, if the slightest unexpected event happens, I get seasick.

This last episode was one of the worst I’ve ever had.  But I’m not 100% sure it’s “seasickness”.  It’s more like my body gets a whole load of adrenaline and then when crisis is over, my body doesn’t know what to do. 

We were heading 240 degrees, with Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots, producing seas from the south of 4 to 8 feet. 

The paravanes work most effectively with seas on the beam, so our ride was actually not so bad with a gentle rolling of 8 degrees to the lee side and 4 degrees to the windward side.  

On the 3rd day out of Morocco, I was in the galley filling my water bottle, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravane bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken. 

I purposely take my time and want to remain calm. I finish filling my water bottle. I go to stop the boat, neutral, idle, then up to the fly bridge to retrieve the pole and the broken bird. 

Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much less.  So, there was no big crisis.

The two spare birds are stored in the lazerette.  The one that broke had been repaired in Ireland, as it had previously broken crossing the North Sea. So, I wasn’t too worried as to the cause.  We had two spares in the lazzerette. The one on the starboard side was easier to reach, but as we tried to get it out, the fin of the bird became lodged under the generator exhaust hose. And the more stuck it became; the more stressed I became.  I didn’t like the idea of leaving it as it, with its metal fin pressed against the exhaust hose and the wooden bird, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston. But after 10 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, unloaded the port side of the lazzerette and got the other bird that was stored on the other side of the lazerette.

It took just another minute to replace the broken one and we were underway again, finally 20 minutes later, having spent most of that time, trying to get the one bird out. 

Underway again, all was OK, but I was feeling very strange. Very strange.

I went to change my clothes, as I was very hot, sweaty and covered in anti-corrosion oil I had sprayed liberally in the lazzerette before leaving.

But after changing my clothes, I felt worse; like overheating badly, I figured a shower would help.

I shower, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t even dry myself off. It was a bizarre feeling. I wasn’t able to stand up or move. I dragged myself to bed and lay on top.

I figure I just need a little rest, but had wanted to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK before we get underway again. So, after a few minutes, getting more stressed because I knew Micah and Dauntless were waiting for me, as I go to put on my shirt, I became violently ill. First time that’s happened in years, even though, I get sea sick a lot and have that miserable nauseous feeling, I don’t throw up. This time I did.

I finally understood that I can do nothing but lay on top of my bed naked. I couldn’t even dry myself off. I use what little strength I have to tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and to get underway.

I stayed on top of the bed and went to sleep.

Three hours later, I am up and OK. Like it never happened.

After I posted the above, my friend Dan added this comment:

“I have read of at least one person who has spent decades at sea who get sea sick every time they set to sea for three days or so. They, like so many, take a while to get their sea legs, and then they are just fine. What was interesting about this person is that they ONLY get sea sick when they are captain. If they are crewing on a boat, they don’t get sea sick at all. Their guess was that the stress of being captain was what caused the sea sickness.”

+++

By the time we arrived in the Caribbean, I’d had two more stressful incidents and very similar physical reactions. Not only that, but suddenly, my skin was very allergic to the adhesive on this particular batch of Trans-dermal patches. So, I couldn’t wear it anymore and I’m left with these two quarter sized areas behind by ears of no pigmentation. No Michael Jackson jokes please.

I had also started to see a pattern. On Christmas Day, it was one of the calmest of the trip, with seas not more than 8 feet and winds in the mid to high teens. We saw whales that day and had a couple cruise with us for about 15 minutes. They were 30 to 40 feet in length and swam underwater next to the paravane bird. 

Christmas being more important to my nephew Micah than myself, I wanted to make a special dinner, so I BBQed the last of four delicious Canary Island Tee Bone Steaks. The best ever.

As soon as I had served our dinner, I had that feeling of “seasickness” come over me. A bit of nausea and overall weakness.

Sitting in Martinique in the wonderful marina Le Marin, I had time to reflect on what was really going on. In all my cases of “seasickness”, the motion of the boat was actually less than it had been over any given period of time. Also, it was clear that I wasn’t sick before a crisis, I wasn’t sick during the crisis, but as soon as the crisis was over, I was sick.

Didn’t really sound like motion sickness to me, but more a reaction to stress.

I’s already stopped using the Transdermal patch and now I decided to not take any more seasickness medicine at all, when we left Martinique for the Panama Canal

I also decided to take a shower every morning before my watch and every night before bed. The shower in the morning seemed to calm me down. I had no idea why, but starting my day at a lower anxiety level seemed to make a significant difference.

From Martinique to San Francisco, a distance of 3,600 miles and 90+ days of cruising, in some of the worst seas I have ever encountered, I’ve taken an anti-nausea medicine only twice.

I now understand that that terrible “seasick” felling was my body adjusting to the lack of adrenaline that the stress had produced and my para-sympathetic system was now getting my body back to normal.

Clearly the shower in the morning or before my watch, makes a significant difference.

And then in the November 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, they did a book review of the book, Never-Home-Alone

And the shower in the morning starts to make sense scientific sense.

Here is the article from the Journal (bolding and underline is mine):

BOOKSHELF

‘Never Home Alone’ Review: The Critters Chez Nous

In trying to rid our homes of insects, fungi and the like, we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.

Lisa Margonelli reviews “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn.

When Rob Dunn was a young ecologist he rummaged through rainforests in search of biodiversity. More recently he discovered another type of wilderness: In a study of 1,000 houses in the U.S., Mr. Dunn’s team found 80,000 kinds of bacteria and archaea hidden inside—that’s at least 10 times the number of bird and mammal species observed in all of the Americas.

He soon also unearthed in our homes some 40,000 kinds of fungi and hundreds of insects, many yet to be named by entomologists.

“I was ecstatic,” Mr. Dunn writes. “Back in the jungle again, albeit the jungle of everyday life.”

In his fascinating new book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Mr. Dunn brings a scientist’s sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home: In trying to make it “clean,” we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.

Mr. Dunn is a fine writer, wringing poetry out of the microbial explorations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who spent half the 17th century documenting all the tiny living things around him—in his neighbor’s mouth, in the snow, in cheese rinds and in wasps. Leeuwenhoek “was to become an astronaut of the miniature,” Mr. Dunn tells us, “all alone exploring a realm that was more diverse and elaborate than anyone but him seemed to understand.”

Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson’s guide to cutting-edge research.

Mr. Dunn’s larger purpose is to explain how the ecology of the home has gone awry. Once upon a time, we lived in leaf huts, with interiors that looked a lot like our outdoor environment.

Soon we moved to round houses, then square houses and finally to air-tight apartments in cities.

Now we close our windows, use products that claim to kill 99% of germs and have unknowingly domesticated bedbugs—so they adjust their workdays around ours.

Our homes no longer resemble the garden outside but have a weird human-centered microbial signature that is also found on the International Space Station, and that’s not a good thing.

The problem, according to Mr. Dunn, “is not what is present but instead what is absent. The problem has to do with what happens when we create homes devoid of nearly all biodiversity except that which falls from us and then, for twenty-three hours of the day, we don’t go outside.”

To understand how mundane and occasionally deadly this evolutionary project of ours is, consider the shower head. In many American homes, water is treated with chlorine and chloramine, which kill pathogens but not mycobacteria, a genus that includes the cause of tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, in homes with water drawn from wells, nonharmful microbes flourish, including mycobacteria’s natural competitors.

By wiping out all the other bacteria in chlorinated water, we create environments where troublesome microbes thrive and even evolve.

This has led Mr. Dunn, together with his colleague Noah Fierer, to find that mycobacteria in shower heads can accurately predict instances of mycobacterial infections, as well as the regions where these outbreaks are likely to occur. 

And yet mycobacteria are not entirely bad. One species has been found to enhance serotonin production, which can lead to greater happiness and lower stress. Mice exposed to a species of mycobacteria are more likely to remain calm when facing a bigger, more aggressive mouse. 

Might this also explain how a morning shower helps us deal with a stressful commute and a bad day on the job? 

These twin stories—of scientific discovery right under our noses and the perilous impact of our unwitting genetic engineering—thread through Mr. Dunn’s book.

Cockroaches were once easily lured with glucose baits but have now rapidly evolved to dislike sweet things. Good strategy for the cockroaches, more troubling for us.

“Just as military specialists study the battles of the past to prepare for the future,” Mr. Dunn suggests that “we might consider our battle with the German cockroach in contemplating our own evolutionary future.”

“Never Home Alone” is a prescription for more biodiversity in the home and, more specifically, a plea for more attention to ecology. The more we understand how different creatures interact and influence our immune systems, the healthier we may be. But in the service of getting more people into ecology, Mr. Dunn believes the field needs to deliver tangible products.

He wants to systematically explore the species in our homes to determine which ones could contain useful chemistry. The camel cricket, a previously unnoticed and rarely studied thumb-size little bugger that lives—possibly by the billions—in American basements, has gut bacteria that can break down black liquor, a highly alkaline toxic waste produced by the paper industry.

The thief ant traipsing across your kitchen counter also produces an antibiotic that may eventually be useful against hard-to-fight infections. Personally, what I want to see is a home “makeunder “show dedicated to “rewilding” homes—similar to what you’d see on the Learning Channel, only more anarchic.

A bunch of giggling scientists show up at the door, toss the hand sanitizer, the shower head, the Sheetrock and the fungus-laden air conditioner.

In their place, they hand the homeowner a bar of soap, throw open the windows, install a ball of spiders to fight flies in the basement and start a batch of sourdough—all in the service of re-creating the garden indoors.

No doubt there will be tension in the idea of a wild domicile. Even King Tut, Mr. Dunn notes, was buried with a fly swatter.

Ms. Margonelli is the author, most recently, of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology.” ■

 

 

Getting the Show on the Road

The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

Having gotten my toothache taken care of by having a root canal the first evening I was back in Huatulco, I was finally felling pretty good. The previous 5 days were a whirlwind of: pain, getting things done in NY, flying to southern Mexico and getting back to Dauntless after 8 months.

All winter I’d been watching the weather and winds off the west coast of Mexico and California. Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes and his updated Pilot Charts of the Pacific had made it clear that I would have a slog ahead, commonly known as the Baja Bash.  2,000 miles of going northwest into predominantly northwest winds of anywhere from 5 to 30 knots.

JimmyCornell Ocean Atlas Monthly Pilot Charts for all the Oceans

As mush as I love my Kadey Krogen, it has gotten me safe and sound through so much; I hate head seas.

But I had a plan. A pretty good one I thought. It was clear from the above references that I would have at best 25% of the time favorable winds. For every one day of good winds, I’d have three days of head winds. But as we all know, weather works in averages. I couldn’t exactly count on moving one day and then resting the next three. I could just as eiasily see 7 favorable days and a month of head winds.

Over the winter I had planned for slogging up the coast. Getting back to Dauntless the last week in April. I would spend May getting her a bit more ready. Fixing, replacing somethings that needed it and completing some projects stared long ago, but never completed as we cruised from Ireland to the Pacific Ocean in a little less than a year’s time.

My transmission and damper plate

This plan would have me leaving Huatulco in June as hurricane season started.

Perfect.

The dominate weather pattern is only disrupted by the tropical cyclone pattern of tropical depressions growing to storms and possible hurricanes. Their anti-clockwise wind pattern disrupts the dominant high-pressure system causing the NW winds off the coast. I could have days and days of winds with some southerly component.

The normal position of the Pacific High. This year is has been stronger and more persistent.

The only downside of this plan was that should the strengthening tropical depression or storm head northeastward towards the coast, I’d have to have my hurricane holes laid out.  Also, single handing on this coast is difficult, as places to stop because of weather are few and far between. For example, there is no safe hurricane hole between Huatulco and Acapulco, 250 nm or two full days away.

In the previous months, I’d also sort of put it out there that I was looking for crew.  With crew and a longer weather window, we could get up the coast in some large chunks.  Maybe even get to Ensenada in a 10-day passage. That would be so wonderful.

Pilot chart for the Pacific off Mexico

In March, I had gotten an email from Brian, who was volunteering himself and another friend, Mark, to help me get Dauntless north. The only caveat was, their free time was in early to mid- May.

I was very happy. I had not thought it wise to do this coast alone.  Coastal cruising is totally different than crossing oceans. In the middle of the ocean there are no fishing boats, pangas or other stupid stuff. The large freighters you may occasionally see use AIS and keep their distance (once I upgraded to an AIS transceiver in 2014).

The only downside was the weather. In May, the winds are steady and strong from the NW.  No tropical disturbances to disturb that pattern.  During the entire spring the Pacific high that generates the strong easterly trade winds over Hawaii and been doing its job too well. I seldom saw weather windows of more than a couple of days and the 25% favorable time was more like 10%.

Stuffing box wrench

I’d also be a bit rushed to get Dauntless in the water. But I was less concerned about this, as she came out of the water with just a minor transmission leak, that had grown progressively worse over the pervious 2,000 miles. So, I decided to have the boat yard in Huatulco fix the leak. This turned out to be a $1,000 mistake. With my time frame of having to leave now to best make use of my available crew, it left no time for the yard to correct what they didn’t fix.

More and more I realize that I need to do virtually everything myself on Dauntless. I hate paying someone for a half ass job, when I know that I can just as easily to my own half assed job for free!

Dauntless goes into water

I also felt time pressure because Brian had crewed with me on Dauntless two years ago from Ireland to Scotland and he had had to wait several days for the boat yard in New Ross to get everything done. I didn’t want to make him wait again. And yes, I know not to let a schedule dictate actions, but no matter what, I, as skipper feel and am responsible.

The only things that had been done was the transmission seals and I had removed all the heat exchangers, as one had a pinhole leak and I wanted them all, including my spares, checked and tested.

We ended up splashing the boat right on schedule, a couple days before Brian showed up. This whole sequence left a lot to be desired on my part.

My original plan was to do a little test run of an hour to make sure all systems were Go. But once they put Dauntless in the water, the winds were strong, against the marina, in fact, the port may have been closed, but in any case, with such winds, I wanted to only tie up once, not twice. As it was I had a hard-enough time getting the boat into her slip and at one point was 90° off. I had to rig a spring line around the piling that we were pressed against and use that to turn the boat to face the slip.

No, a test run was out. I felt lucky that I got Dauntless into the slip without damage. I didn’t want to press my luck. In hindsight, this was not the best decision, but it seemed so under the current circumstances.

Once in the slip, with the engine room bilge pump alarm was going off continuously, I was reminded that I should have checked the stuffing box while still on the dolly. Water was pouring into the boat.

After the initial cursing myself for not checking before, I realized the bilge pump was keeping up, barely.

I got my chain wrench and locking pliers and within a few minutes (unlike previous times), the nut was unlocked, and I could tighten the shaft nut my hand until most of the water stopped.

We were good to go, or so I thought.

What I’m Really Afraid Of?

Just when I thought I had the Plan, I read a story about drug driven crime spreading to the west coast of Mexico. Manzanillo, one of my planed stops, was prominently mentioned.

20180126 Win
dyty Depiction of Surface Winds

Where does that leave me? Besides the obvious, afraid!

Last summer I had a detailed plan to cruise up the coast of Mexico, stopping every night, hitting all the nice spots, with only a couple overnight passages. Let’s call that plan, the Coastal Cruise Plan. This is essentially what we had done 3 years ago in the Baltic.  I had even spent the last month alone, cruising from Stockholm all the way back to Ireland.

Last year, I had my nephew, Micah, with me from Ireland to Costa Rica.  It’s no coincidence that when he left Dauntless in March to go to law school, I lost a lot of my ambition to continue north alone. Cruising alone for me is not fun. It’s what I do when I need to get from A to B or as I did from Stockholm to Waterford.

20180126 NWS P_e_sfc_color

I am hoping that this coming summer, my girlfriend Trinh and her son, Thien, will have visas for Mexico. This is something that I must initiate this April when I return to Huatulco. If that is possible, they, with other friends who have expressed interest in joining Dauntless this summer, would make the Coastal Plan at least feasible. We would enjoy the numerous stops and towns along the coast, plus many eyes make for less stressful cruising.

A visa for the U.S. is another story and it takes forever. I’m hoping for 2019.

The Pacific coast of Mexico is not the Baltic and North Sea. The weather is not necessarily worse, but the predominant winds are from the northwest, the direction Dauntless must go. Adding to that problem, there are numerous fishing boats and nets and other boat traffic near the coast, whereas in the Baltic, there was none of that.

Lastly, safe harbors (protected from weather) on the Pacific coast of Mexico are few and far apart. North from Huatulco to Manzanillo, a distance of almost 600 miles, there are only two safe harbors. In a normal (for me) coastal cruise of 40 to 60 miles per day (6 to 9 hours), that’s 8 out of 10 nights anchored or in some port, at the mercy of the weather.

That’s a no-go.

For those of you who have read my precious comments about weather forecasts, you will know that even in the best circumstances, I don’t trust weather forecasts past three days and even at that I assume they are 50% off. That means, if the forecast is for winds from 270° at 12 knots, I plan for winds 240° to 300° at 8 to 16 knots (50% and 150% of forecast).

Therefore, to cruise an unprotected coast in any but the mildest of conditions is perilous.

I needed a plan B.  The Near Coastal Plan.

In this plan, we will take what the weather gives us. If we get four good days (favorable winds and seas) we’ll cruise until the weather becomes unfavorable. This potentially means we would take chunks of distance, 3 days, 24/7 is 450 nm. Making the entire trip into 4 chunks of 500 miles each, would get the job done and reduce time spent too close to the coast.

It would be far less fun however, but probably safer in many ways and less stressful.

Then came plan C, the Ocean Plan.

But first we talk to talk about hurricanes.

Hurricane season runs from June through October, with the highest frequency, mid-July to mid-September.

I can see an advantage in avoiding the high summer.  Looking at the Windyty depiction of the surface winds over the eastern Pacific today, you can see the big ass high pressure system that keeps the easterly trade winds over Hawaii (far left of picture) as well as the northwest winds over the west coast of California and Mexico.  Now, one of the disruptors of these winds are hurricanes.  The circulation pattern around hurricanes is far smaller than this massive high-pressure system, but a Pacific Ocean hurricane a few hundred west of Mexico, would cause southerly winds off the Mexican coast.

If it moved slowly north, maybe I could tag along??

It all depends on the situation and I’d have to figure out my escape routes, but it’s something for me to think about and plan for. It’s also significant that eastern Pacific hurricanes are weaker than Atlantic ones, with wind patterns not much stronger (if at all) than Northern Atlantic low-pressure systems in August and September (and I’ve certainly had my fun with those!).

Then the Ocean Route would entail an end around, running almost west, then curving slowly northwestward and finally northward, ending up east of Ensenada or southern California. With little winds, it would be an easy 10 to 12-day voyage, just like I did alone from the Azores to Ireland.  I’d only do this though if I saw the possibility of an extended time of light winds.

Also, time of year matters in my decision making. In the scenario just mentioned above, In May or June, I’d have plenty of time to wait or make it happen.  I may have different options later in the summer.

In September 2015, while waiting in Norway to cross the North Sea (I anticipated a 72-hour crossing), my weather windows were getting smaller and smaller. September is simply too late to be doing such a trip. But Sweden was so nice!

There had been strong northerly winds 25+ winds and driving rain, for days. I waited and waited. Finally, I saw a high-pressure ridge building into the North Sea from the English Channel, but this ridge of high pressure was also moving eastward.  But it only gave me a two-day window for a three-day trip.

Dauntless Crosses the North Sea 2015

I had to take it. It meant that I left my little port of Egersund, Norway, with 35+ knot winds from the NNW and rain. If you look at my route I took to Fraserburgh Bay, Scotland, those strong winds caused that dip in my route. Even with the paravane stabilizers, it’s just easier on the boat to put the winds and resultant seas on the starboard stern quarter. After 24 hours, as the winds died, I was able to head more westerly and on the third day, to the northwest. But that little longer route also added 12 hours to the trip and the next frontal system was right on, so my last 8 hours were in the weather again.

Would a longer, better weather window has come eventually? Sure. In the winter, under very cold air and high pressure. I couldn’t wait that long.

Dauntless in Ireland, next to a fishing boat with almost the exact same lines. There is a reason she handles the North Atlantic like she was born there.

When we decided to cruise the world or at least get away from the coast, we knew we wanted, needed a boat that that could all that and more. All the readings I did about boats and people cruising in boats all over the world, led me to Kadey Krogen.

Our little 42-foot boat was well built, extremely well designed for the worst of the worst and affordable.

Having Dauntless under my feet gives me confidence that she can handle any stupid situation I put her in.

Now, people are another matter.

.

Keys:

 

Fueled, Oiled and Ready to Go

I know I am skipping ahead here. Last you heard I was somewhere up a creek in Costa RIca.

Well, I will write about the trip to Mexico. It was a hard 4 days and 3 nights.  Cliff joined me for the trip and that’s the only reason I kept my sanity.

Dauntless in Mexico

It was literally one of those trips where coming and going were all uphill.

But I wanted to pot this while it was hot on my mind.  I got fuel today and changed the oil for the first time since Martinique.

Everything’s put away and tomorrow I tackle the T…. thing.

Here are a few pictures:

The Maretron data shows the list of the boat as I transferred about 150 gal of fuel to the port tank and then filling the starboard tank with about 300 gallons.

By the way, Mexico has been the best thing since Martinique. I think I will soon do a post of the best 10 places of 2017. Umm, there are only 2. Everyplace else will be on the bottom 50 list.

OK, the best 10 places of 2016 and 2017.  I have at least a half dozen of those.

Transferring fuel from one tank to the other
The data for the trip from Costa RIca. Look at the pitching (the graph on the lower left)

 

Barely

 

I Love Mexico

A Long Day & Longer Night

Central America Cruise Summary Day 2

My Trip on the First Day

Tuesday, 18 July.  After waking up so many times I stopped counting, I was glad to see the dawn so I could get out of this spot.  Now I’ll tell you why:

I had gone to bed by 20:00 hours, having spent more than an hour futzing with anchors and snubbers.

Dauntless was as disheveled as ever.  I had to clear a line thru containers and chairs that had moved around the salon. The stern deck was a mess also.

Coming into my first anchorage

When I first put out the bow anchor, it was obvious the Krogen would not lie into the wind, but perpendicular to it.  Probably caused by currents in the bay, but it made the rolling even worse than it had been the previous 12 hours. But the next anchorage was 35 miles away, another 7 hours. I could not go on, I had to make this work.

First, I tried attaching the snubber like to the midships cleat instead of the bow as is normal. I also put out another 50 feet of chain after the snubber. My idea was to put some pressure on the side of the boat to try to hold it into the waves better. (This may have worked better had I connected it to the stern).

An hour later, I realized this was not working.  I started the engine briefly to get us into the waves, then threw out the stern anchor on short scope, hoping this would hold us in the right direction.

For about 15 minutes it seems to significantly reduce the roll.  I had made a pot of beans, corn and hot dog.

My dinner

That was my no so healthy dinner, but as I told Trinh, I hadn’t passed any gardens today. Besides humans can live a long time on a single food.  It wouldn’t kill me to not have balanced meal for a while.

I tried to go to sleep, but the boat had this terrible movement.  There was a rolling oscillation that would get worse after about 4 rolls, then die off for about 30 seconds before doing it again. No way could I get to sleep with that.  I got up numerous times to see if we had moved. We had moved but the bow anchor was doing fine.

I decided to move the snubber back to the bow. That helped the motion a bit.

Then an hour later, hearing a big bang, I jumped up to make sure we hadn’t crashed into the small fishing boats about 500 feet away. No, we hadn’t. But I then proceeded to pull in the stern anchor as I thought it must be contributing or causing the unnatural corkscrew rolling of the boat.

It seemed to work.  Now we were just held by the bow anchor.  Still rolling around and swinging on the arc from the anchor, I decided to brace myself in bed and just not worry.  I’ve possibly only dragged once with this anchor, so go to sleep.

That I did by about 01:00.  As the dawn broke a little after 5, I was up.  I decided not to deal with the mess in the salon until my next stop. But within minutes I found myself moving containers, chairs, getting the restraining straps and bungee cords and making everything snug.  A sweaty 20 minutes later, it was all done and I felt so much better.

Looking at the actual winds, they were easterly at 4 knots, so decided to press on and get out of this hell hole.  Clearly, I’ve been in worse anchorages, the ones you must leave sooner rather than later. But this one was pretty bad.

Got underway, 342° at 35 miles.  Should be there in 6 hours.  No need for paravanes, as the wind is out of the east (direction of the coast, about 6 miles away) the seas are relatively flat, with just the SW swell at about 2 feet and 10 second period.

And the second day ended as well as it started. Oh, we had more anchoring follies, but isn’t that why we pay the price of admission?

Day 2 Summary: Engine Start 06:08, stop 12:00; uw 5:52, 34.3 nm, avg speed 6.6 kt.

Anchored in 21 feet water with 100’ of chain out.

 

 

 

Dauntless Starts Moving North

Central America Cruise Summary Day 1

The View from the Krogen Pilothouse as we head out

Monday, 17 July 2017.  Up at the crack of dawn. I had told Sergio, we were leaving at 06:00.  I hadn’t heard from him in two days, so… that normally means he changed his mind.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve corresponded with people who are so excited, over time and frequently, only to have them disappear or to tell me they have to wash their cat the day of departure.

So far, the score is 1, who turned up as promised to 7 no-shows.  Mind you, all these people contacted me first!

Chantal, the one who did show was great. Even left her alone on Dauntless for a week in the Bahamas. Oh well.

My friends who have joined me have all been great and they made the 2016 Cruise of the Baltic, the Baltic Republics, Poland, Sweden and Finland, so enjoyable.

I start with all this because it influenced my decision to leave, on a day that I simply should have stayed put.

I was anxious to get this show on the road. I was burning days and hadn’t even move a mile north, yet had almost 2000 miles to go.

So, when I realized Sergio was going to be a no-show, I wasn’t unhappy.  Being alone is actually far less stressful for me is many ways:

  • I’m not responsible for someone else’s life
  • I don’t have to feed them or explain how not to screw up the toilet
  • I don’t have to worry about them getting home safe and sound
  • I can run around in the middle of the night, as I did last night, checking on strange noises, naked.

Yes, many advantages.

I now use Windyty.com as my main weather source while outside the USA.

It indicated light winds, 3 to 5 kts, Monday, increasing a bit Tuesday and much more on Wednesday. Therefore, it seemed Monday was the best day and I wanted to go in any case.

But when I got up, I could see a large thunderstorm to the west and it had been producing strong winds and rain all night.  It was an extensive area, probably 15 miles by 10 miles.  I don’t mid traveling in such conditions, however this storm produced strong, 12 kts westerly winds.  Since I had to go west, then SW, then NW, that was not good.

And now I did what I tell everyone NEVER to do.  Never ever. I got fixated on the forecast, 3 kt winds, thinking the seas will be small.  Totally ignoring the fact that this storm had produced relatively strong winds, 10 to 18 knots for the last 12 hours.

As you see in the picture, I take off into this storm and immediately I notice 3 to 5-foot waves that I’m going into. Up and down we go.  I slow up to 1400 rpm, and press on.  I should have turned around and gone back to my peaceful, sheltered anchorage.  I didn’t.

Two hours later as I turn the corner finally getting out of the Bay of Golfito, to head NW, I discover a significant swell, from the south to southwest 4 to 6 feet.  Now the boat really started to roll. Of course, in my idleness, I did not stow everything well, in fact the salon was a mess.

I deployed one paravane stabilizer bird, then half an hour later, the other.

Fishhook Marina
A Great Place for Man & Boat

The roll was never so bad, only about 8° in each direction and the extreme rolls where just over 12°.  These numbers are half of what we put up with for 21 days crossing the Atlantic 6 months earlier, but still.  But having furniture roll around the salon is always disconcerting.

The ride didn’t ameliorate until the last 1.5 hours when I turned NE to go to Bahia Drake. An anchorage that given its’ 3-star rating was clearly over-optimistic.

Rolling Down the Road

Day’s Cruise Summary: Engine start, 05:52, stop 17:29; 11 hrs:15 min underway (uw), distance 62.2 nautical miles (nm), average speed 5.6 knots (kt)

 

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

I left the marina finally.

Just as i anchored it started to rain

Southern Costa Rica is like Vietnam, hot, 30° and humid.  Maybe more humid.  But that thought prompted me to check the latest obs from VVTS, Tansonnhat Int’l. Nope, their morning dew point is 77°, while it was only 72° this morning in Golfito.

My chart of the anchorage. The marks are where where my anchor is and the mooring ball

In any case, after the stress of leaving the marina for the first time in almost 4 months, it’s time to check and double check.

While still in the Caribbean, I had tried to use the generator.  It ran for a minute a then shut itself off. So, we had spent a miserable night before arriving at the marina in Colon, Panama.

I’ve planned on anchoring a lot over the next three months, so a working generator was no longer an option but a necessity.

Last week I tackled the problem, having been guided what to look for from a mechanic friend on the East Coast.

In minutes, I found the suspected problem, a bad connection to the exhaust temperature sensor, and set it right.  The generator than started and ran for 30 minutes, with load, no problem.

Saying goodbye to Fish Hook Marina

I was leaving in mid-afternoon, as much to save another $40, but also to get my sea sense back.  We were only going a few miles to anchor, so after a hot day, in the heat of the afternoon, the generator would be called upon almost immediately.

Not being born yesterday, just before leaving the dock, I started the gen for just a few minutes, just to make sure, maybe 5 minutes.

15:00, finally ready to leave.

But Sergio, who was going to be with me for some days, then told me he had to go home.

OK

Maybe a language issue? Certainly not the first time for me.

Then the guy on the marina is throwing off the dock lines. OK.  I’m sort of ready.

But what about the two pangas fishing 20 feet in front of Dauntless?  No problem, they were told to get out of the way. Slowly evidently.

Once the lines are off, I need to get underway.  My bow wave must have nudged them the last few feet,

Now, out of the slip and safely past the pangas, I look to my chart to check my route in and the depths.

But the chart isn’t on. Why?

Computer’s on, Coastal Explorer is running, but the magic “M” key is not bringing up the C-Map.

This kind of crap happens when rushed by other people’s schedules or perceived schedule.

I had put Dauntless in neutral not wanting to go in water I had no idea what was the depths.

Finally, I see the keyboard was turned off.  Easily solved, my chart comes up and confirms that my route into the marina was good and the one to follow out

I poke along at 5 knots in no real hurry. Just happy to have the sea under my feet again.

The spot I was anchoring in is a quarter mile off the beach in front of a friend’s house I meet on the bus to Golfito.  It’s a steep slope with a big 15’ tidal range. I can’t get too close, even though I have 35’ below me now.

I drop the anchor, it catches quickly like it always does (a much beloved Delta). It’s hot, very hot and humid.  I’m dying.  I put out 110 of chain on top of the anchor.  Then I realize the mistake I made. With the steep slope, large tidal range and 100+ feet of chain out, when Dauntless swings around (we’re now facing the beach) her behind may end up high and dry.  Not the first time, but I’m trying to have a year without a grounding.

I decide to throw the stern anchor in.  Oh, no stern anchor.  Must have been stowed for the Atlantic passage. Just then I see a mooring ball, just within reach of my short boat hook (they charge more for longer ones!)

I quickly grab the line from the mooring ball and put a short line thru it.

Worked like a charm.  Dauntless soon went parallel to the beach, but that was fine.

Now I’m sweaty, almost dead for the heat, stress and whatever else.

I turn on generator to get a much-anticipated relief.

It runs for one minute then clearly can’t handle a load. It putters to a stop.

I feel like crying.

I start it again, it starts, but with no power, like before. What changed? I asked myself.  Only I put the cover back on.  Could it not be getting enough air?

I take the front cover off, it continues to run poorly, then stumbles, then starts running normally.

I power up all the accessories, A/C’s, Inverter Charger.

For the next few hours, with the passing of every bird and fish, I think the gen is dying, but no, it runs steadily, until I turn it off for bed.

Now, the next test, how hot will the boat become without the A/C.  The water temperature is 92°.  I’ve never been in such hot water; the engine room never gets below 100° and that’s only with the Inverter and Water heater working there.

Dauntless hardly moved.

Just when I was finishing my shower, a peal of thunder overhead made me think that we’d run hard aground. I flew out of the shower.

It was only Mother Nature having a little chuckle before I went to sleep.