An Experimenter

Ever wonder why I get into so much trouble or have so many shenanigans?

By heart, I’m a scientist.  At a relatively young age, I decided to be a meteorologist.  Even at the University of Washington, when I had the opportunity to meet a lot of kids like me studying to be engineers of some type, I still eschewed engineering, believing meteorology was more “scientific”.

What a dope.

Only some years later, working on a forecast through the night, I realized that in practice, a synoptic meteorologist, is a weather engineer.  As we take the science of the atmosphere and put it to a practical use.

Oh, for the hubris of youth.  Sometimes I do miss the certainty that comes with inexperience and knowing everything.  In a world for me that was once black and white, there are now only shades of gray. Even that, though a better place, and heaven knows the world could use for less absolute people, does have some drawbacks, which I may expound upon at another time.

So on this sunny Sunday morning, 6 April 2014, leaving the environs of Port Palm Beach, fate had me do an experiment, that admittedly, I had decided beforehand not to do, (much like going out on deck, at night alone. I vowed never to do that and my first night at sea, single handing, that got thrown out the window.  Remember, no absolutes!)

Anyway, back to the story.  As I hauled up my new Delta 55# anchor, which worked like a dream, made even better because Hopkins Carter has the most competitive prices, and even less expensive than even Jamestown, with no stink’in shipping.

I decided to deploy the poles, but leave the fish on the rail.  That way, I would not have to go to the fly bridge to deploy them while underway and I needed to adjust the port side aft and fore guys, as port side pole was running about 6 inches too far aft for my liking.

The fish on the rail
The fish on the rail

That done, power on, look around to make sure nothing is in front of me and I see that one of the fish already fell into the water, but the other is obediently waiting as directed.

So the experimenter in me takes over.  To retrieve the fish, I would have to go up to the fly bridge and retrieve the pole to vertical, go down and pull in the fish. Forget that. I decided to see what would happen with one fish in the water.

Power on, Dauntless, like a Top Fuel Dragster, gets to 5 knots in about 20 seconds.  As I am moving north, turning towards the east to go out of the inlet (see picture), I decided to stay on the south side of the inlet, as there are bunches of sport fishers, dive boats, skiffs and all sorts of south Florida water life, including a few jet skiers, coming from Palm Beach to the north also turning into the inlet to exit into the ocean.

Palm Beach Inlet
Palm Beach Inlet

After carefully measuring the additional rudder, 5°, I need to keep the boat straight with only one fish in the water, I look to my left and see this multitude of boaters racing out of the inlet at Warp 10. F.. this, I throw the other fish in the water, and should a jet skier run into it and get decapitated, let heaven sort out who was right and who was wrong.

Going back to the helm, I confirm the 5° deflection is gone and I see the humongous wake rolling up on me, maybe 4 to 5 feet high.   I watch in fascination as it hits the port side of Dauntless and just like that disappears, just like that, they were gone, like Keyser Soze.

We rolled a few degrees. unlike yesterday, before I deployed them a wake rolled me 25 degrees, to each side, that’s 50°

My side decks are dry while underway. Another first. 

This video doesn’t exist
Even with that wake, it took just a cup full of water thru the port scupper. Normally my side decks, well not mine, Dauntless’are continually bathed in sea water.

 Paravane Stabilizers aka Flopper Stoppers

Robert Beebe’s book, Passagemaking Under Power, convinced me from the beginning that we needed a stabilized boat.  And even though the edition I read was co-authored, updated by Jim Leishman, a Nordhavn disciple, Passagemaking Under Power makes clear that passive stabilization, flopper stoppers (FS) or paravanes, as some call them, are superior to active hydraulic stabilizers mainly for three reasons:

  1. Dependability,
  2. No drag when not needed
  3. They also work while anchored or not moving

So I knew we needed them.  In searching for a boat, when we came back to the Krogen 42 idea, I realized that while we needed FS, they could be added after and that the boat layout (two heads) was more critical, as well as the overall condition (I knew I could not deal with a project boat, one that always needs something fixed or replaced).

Julie and I loved Pay to Play, when we first saw her and we ended up buying her a year and a half later.

So up and down the coast we came and went, I’d ask people, but most only were familiar with active stabilizers that while easy to use, push a button, would cost above $40k.:eek:

Having run aground three times in the first month, while I did expect that frequency to decrease, I knew it wasn’t going to zero in this lifetime. So, it just also confirmed that I needed paravanes.

The Numbers

Here are the numbers so far and as I compile more data, my experience has been that these numbers after only two days will always be in the ball park and pretty representative. If not, I’ll let you know.;)

A small (2 foot) beam sea produces an average roll of 10 to 15 degrees in each direction, with some rolls 15 to 20° (40° total) and 1/8 of the rolls greater than 40°.:eek:

Fish (aka paravanes) in the water, this gets reduced to a few degrees each direction, with the bad ones to about 10° !

Overall roll is reduced by at least 75%.

The fact that I was hit with a 4 to 5 ft. wake this morning, and we didn’t roll at all, says it all.

My life is transformed.

Pictures are at

I’ll write about The Rig and Rigger next

Dauntless' new Paravanes








Rantings and Ravings

Another Sunrise on the Miami River April 1, 2014
Another Sunrise on the Miami River April 1, 2014

Yes, I am sitting here, still, on the Miami River, watching the sun rise and feeling miserable.  Why? You ask yourself, he is in this almost idyllic setting, yet feels miserable? Because he tells you, he is an impatient, spoiled American, whose patience was never very much in the first place.  And he adds, there is one of those noisy birds, I think of the magpie family, who sounds like a whole flock, but is just one plain noisy, and probably horny, bird.  Every few minutes, my idyllic setting and even noisy bird, is interrupted as a plane takes off from Miami International Airport.  Not good noise.  Unpurposeful.

I used to have a T-shirt which proclaimed, Jet Noise, the Sound of Freedom.  It was, but we were referring to a pair of F-4’s flying over your head at 300 feet. In the 80’s in Europe, it was, and the little left wing meteorologist that arrived in Italy in 1976 and had just voted for Jimmy Carter, saw that world as it really was, and it was not as depicted in the American press.  Europeans liked, loved the sound of freedom.  I learned to appreciate the goodness of the US, (though still annoyed at our bumbling sometimes) and have not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since!

By the way, those too young to know or too old that you already forgot, should read Robert Gate’s book, From the Shadows, a fascinating account of the White House politics and the world from the Nixon years thru George Bush one.  And surprise, surprise (actually I was) that the Russians, yes, the same peace loving, respectful people they are today, actually did promote and fund all of the anti-American protests of the 70’s and 80’s in Europe.

OK, I’m really not miserable, slight (gross) exaggeration.  Just a bit bored and impatient, as the paravanes stabilizer project proceeds at a glacial pace.  I’ve actually been assured it will be finished in three days, but Felix, the guy I’m renting the dock from, thinks three weeks is more like it.  Also my back hurts, since the painting project almost three weeks ago and it’s hard to think of witty things to write when in pain.

Then, eerily, for just a few seconds, I hear one of those birds that is on the soundtrack of every Hollywood movie scene in a jungle.  Distinctive, loud, but quite short.

Did I mention the dolphins?  Yes, dolphins swim by.  Julie and I went kayaking Saturday morning and they swam right next to us.  Same one, (Who knows?) came by this morning.  I threw him a piece of salmon from my breakfast, but I don’t think they like it cooked (smoked, processed whatever). A less picky sea gull soon took care of that piece of offal.

What you think, kayaks?  Yes, as we wanted a way to get to shore, without having to use the humongous dingy (I’m also dealing with that issue).

Lastly, yesterday evening, I rode by bike to the cutest Dairy Queen, I’ve seen in a long time. Old time, with only ice cream.  Getting into a conversation with another patron, he told me he was coming here to this same DQ 50 years ago.

Dairy Queen - a Glimpse of the Past
Dairy Queen – a Glimpse of the Past

OK. John, the Rigger and Red, the Fabricator, should be by any day now, so I better get dressed.


John the Rigger
John the Rigger
Dauntless Awaits
New Deck Lights

A Few Thoughts & Comments

In the next weeks, I want to finish the Canadian Adventure,  The Jewell Island Fiasco was just the beginning. Suffice it to say, just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.  Details to follow, but I assure you 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.

Before all the gory details, I have another issue.  I really try to write to my audience, those of you taking the time out of your busy day to read my writings.  I try not to just have a travelogue, as the trawler magazines, have that boring niche.

But I do like being responsive to my readers, therefore, please leave comments (if I don’t like them, I can always delete them!) or send me an email if you just want to keep your thoughts, ideas, private between us.

Hopefully, this will be my last week to ten days on the Miami River.  I will certainly miss the planes flying overhead as I am just east of Miami International Airport.  Reminds me of watching the Mets at Shea Stadium.  The planes were nosier back then,

I’ve finished the cap rail project.  It was just painting the cap rail and the hand rails.  I’ll post some pictures when were all cleaned up and the paravanes are done also.

John and Red have promised me a very nifty, elegant solution for the paravanes and although I had some initial trepidation, I am really looking forward to what they have come up with.

So stay tuned.  The bike with the freshly painted orange fenders is my new bike.  First new bike since Alaska.

Why orange fenders? I am going to be in Holland next year after all.cropped-wpid-storageextsdcarddcimcamera20140320_075305_nw-14th-st.jpg cropped-wpid-storageextsdcarddcimcamera20140318_071539_nw-20th-st1.jpg

Trash bag on the Maimi River
Trash bag on the Maimi River
Little Havana
Little Havana
It is the Best Middle Eastern Food Ever
It is the Best Middle Eastern Food Ever
The New Bike
The New Bike

wpid-storageextSdCardDCIMCamera20140324_162548_NW-20th-St.jpg.jpg wpid-storageextSdCardDCIMCamera20140318_071539_NW-20th-St.jpg.jpg

Sunrise on the Miami River

Sunrise on the Miami River
Sunrise on the Miami River

A fascinating place, the Miami River, full of real working boats and interesting people.

I promise to write about it more later, but have little time this morning, as this is the big day.

Richard and I have finished out painting project.  The cap rail, and forward hand rails have been painted!  We have also replaced 95 teak bungs and screws in our teak deck.

Next up, Dauntless is being fitted for her stabilizer paravanes (aka flopper stoppers) today.  Long planned and anticipated.  One way or another, I will write of the process and outcome (hopefully great).

This video doesn’t exist


See more photos at

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.


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
New Friends
Some of the wildlife

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

A Contender
A Contender

Science News & the Miami Boat Show

How are they related?science news cover

Julie recently sent the following email to her science teachers:

Hi science team, 

I just spent 45 minute reading new discoveries about the following: 

  • How sleep “flushes” out the brain
  • New research in progenia, a disease that prematurely ages children 
  • How molecules in 1% of our exhaled breath can diagnose certain diseases
  • A pink fairy armadillo that is almost impossible to find
  • Earth might not be inhabitable in 1.75 billion years
  • The primordial comet ISON 
  • New “robot” limbs for paraplegics that are controlled by human thoughts

I could go on– there was more and it was all in Science News.  I truly enjoyed it, and I remembered Richard telling me many times that he thinks all science teachers should read this magazine.  He has subscribed for years, and as an earth science and physics teacher, he said that the background knowledge he gained from it allowed him to teach a range of content he otherwise could not have handled if he had only relied on his meteorology degree.  

To you– a group of young, inspired teachers at the beginning of your careers– I passionately recommend that you personally subscribe to Science News.  It’s very important that nourish your sense of wonder and fascination and discovery that will not get fed unless you intentionally feed it.  Start nourishing your passion early and don’t for wait a fictional future when you think you’ll have more time, or teaching will get easier.  Think of this year not as a hump to get over, but as the beginning of an ever-expanding possibility to have fun, feel fulfilled, and learn with your students.  Now is when you need to be reading and having fun.  Set the precedent now to be a science teacher who loves science.  

Why Science News?  Because it is truly a “digest”– it engagingly summarizes articles from hundreds of science journals.  It is a blast to read.  

And if this inspires you to go even further and subscribe to more magazines, and seek more professional development and events about science, including those closer to your subject area, wonderful.  Gorge yourself on reading fun things about science, math, history– it’s all related.  You have inspired me to write this to you, and I will call out similarly to other departments.  

Ciao, enjoy this break!

Yes, I still love reading Science News, even though now it is a bi-weekly. Maybe once I get my tablet, I will get over the loss of my weekly treat.

So, I spent a full day at the Miami Boat Show. As opposed to boat shows I have attended in the past, this one was business for me as I have a number of upgrades and changes that I want to get accomplished this spring before our Atlantic Passage in July.

Among the changes I am thinking about, planning or getting done:

  • Paravanes (flopper stoppers), being fabricated now in Miami
  • Wallas DT40 Diesel heater
  • Bicycle for me to use in my travels
  • Isolation transformer to convert 220V to 110 V
  • K-30 Pentax Camera + zoom to be able to take better pictures and restart that old hobby
  • High capacity alternator, so I also have a spare
  • SSB HF radio
  • Coastal Explorer great looking navigation software
  • AIS Transponder, so you guys can track me and hopefully big ass ships will see me and not run us over
  • AIS and VHF Ant, old VHF Ant is broken in any case
  • Captain’s license , can’t hurt and I will learn something I probably need to know
  • Fridge and Freezer, it’s between two Italian companies, Isotherm and Vitrifrigo, which will cut my daily power consumption my two thirds, making life on the hook better without the generator.  Also will be adding
  • Solar Panels on top of Pilot House
  • Rogue Wi-Fi.  So I have more choices for internet connectivity
  • Village Water Watermaker
  • Samsung Tablet will become third backup (actually my fourth, but who’s counting) and let me bring it with me wherever to monitor boat functions and its movements.

So, as you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  Luckily, I have a lot of help in some really good friends, Paul, here in Miami, Richard from Providence (no, not me, another Richard) and Dave in Ft. Pierce, who is a true master of electrical and boat systems.

So, how are Science News & the Miami Boat Show related?  For both Julie and I, it has always been about learning and putting systems in place that lead to better teacher teams for Julie and increased efficiently for Dauntless and I.

Also, feel free to email me at should you have any comments or questions.

Some pictures of the last few days, mostly of the Miami River taken yesterday and the Coconut Grove area can be found at:

Winter in Miami