Yesterday evening, the 5th of February 2015, as I gazed out the window watching the traffic flow along the quay of Waterford the realization struck me as to how much has changed in just one year.
Last year at this time, I had just returned from the Bahamas, had crossed the dreaded Gulf Stream, this time alone and was docked at my friend’s Paul house.
Now I had set up Paul and Chantal, my crewmate, as they seemed a very good match. The problem was I lost a reliable crewmate and as it turned out, Paul got weirder and weirder and I still not understand what happened.
But Dauntless was in Miami to have a lot of work done in preparation of the upcoming Atlantic Passage coming up in July. I had thought I had found a rigger and fabricator who would do the paravane stabilization system and I was waiting in very nervous anticipation for that work to start, as it was something that had to be done before our passage and they had given me a price I could afford, though I still had to manage my meager resources well.
So it’s early February, I had no help and all this work (buy, make, install) had to be done on the boat before we left and time was running out:
Fabricate and install the paravanes,
Replace current fridge and freezer with 12 volt system,
Replace the depth sounder,
12 v boat computer and 12v monitors,
New navigation system and chart plotter,
Replace one VHF antenna repair the other
Get a life raft,
Maretron system for environmental and navigation data,
European, Canadian and Atlantic charts,
Spare engine parts, alternator, injection pipes, water pump,
15 Lexan storm windows to make and install,
Replace 112 bungs in the teak deck,
Paint the cap rail, sand the rub rail,
Get a bicycle,
Get my Captain’s license (handy in Europe)
And I knew even once all of this was done, we still had to cross 3,000 miles of the North Atlantic.
Now, I had been reading, reading and reading, asking folks stuff on Trawler Forum, but the hard part was actually deciding on this versus that. Why that life raft and not this one. As the time crunch got crunchier, it became easier only because it was time to shit or get off the pot, as my mother would say.
But even now, I look at that list in amazement and also proud that I, we, got it done. It would not have happened without the help and support of some new friends.
In March, Richard (not me, another Richard), who I had met in the marina in Providence, came down from Rhode Island and spent a month with me doing a lot of different jobs. I so appreciated his company and work and Dauntless still shows his efforts. He also helped to get me focused and on track.
I had also moved the boat to a little pontoon just behind Park’s store, Hopkins-Carter Marine. This also turned out to be a Godsend in that, when the paravanes were finally being built, I had a store one minute away that had all the extra things I needed every hour.
Finally the paravanes were done and I hightailed it to Ft. Pierce, where David spent two weeks installing the fridge, freezer, solar panels and water maker.
The rest of the work was done in the coming months as I returned to Providence, where in the last days before departure, Richard again came to the rescue and got my Lexan cut to size and then, finally, only three hours before departure, Julie and I finished installed the Lexan storm windows.
And the rest is history.
So, as I sit here in a warm cozy Kadey Krogen a year later, I’m in Europe, our goal of the last 7 years, the worst problem I seem to have is that in sorting and cataloging spare parts and reorganizing everything, I’ve discovered that I have 4 soldering irons.
Even though we have a few more oceans to cross and many miles to go; it’s all downhill from here.
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.
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 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.
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
All the pictures (well, most of them) can be found at:
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 DauntlessNY@gmail.com 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: