20180513 Three Times Fail – Cabo Falso Beats Dauntless Like a Rented Mule
Cabo San Lucas was the most un-Mexican, unpleasant place I’ve been in the beginning of time or at least since I’ve been cruising Dauntless for the last 7 years.
It was expensive, literally, 3x to 10x more expensive than anyplace else I’d been in Mexico. The epitome of a tourist trap; I thought I was in Southern California.
Unexpectedly, Ensenada, being much closer to California, was truly charming. I could have been stuck there for months and been happy, conversely, being stuck in Cabo waiting for weather for 10 days felt like a year!
So, this video shows me attempting to leave Cabo just days after my arrival. I was now alone again; Larry was going to meet in the next week and I was hoping to be in Ensenada by then. Once making the right turn to the west at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula, one heads due west to get around Cabo Falso, before turning northwest and then north to get up the coast. The winds are typically strong and right on the nose 15 to 35 knots. 15 is not pleasant, but is tolerable, high teems quickly becomes untenable for any length of time. Even under the best conditions, I would have a few hours of the strongest winds.
Sorry I don’t have more video of the worst moments, but when I’m being thrown around the pilot house, my last thoughts are on making videos.
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I was on schedule, the one I’d made month’s earlier. It was June 10th.
460 nm to go to our winter home of Vallejo, close compared to only a month ago, but now time was getting compressed. My hard, drop dead dates were also much closer. July 6th was the hardest one, my flight from Austin Texas back to SGN, Saigon, HCMC, Vietnam.
Airline tickets can always be changed, but at a price and I was tired of just pissing money away.
I also had a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd, that I really, really wanted to attend. Three years earlier, I’d crossed the stormy North Sea to get back to Ireland in time to meet my dear friend Jennifer, who was coming to Ireland just to see Dauntless. I’d known her since she was 8 years old. Now, she had met the love of her life and was getting married. I had to be there.
I also wanted, needed to go to Fairbanks, Alaska before I left the USA
I’d already arranged the marina for the winter, in Vallejo California.
It was simply going to be a busy month, but doable if the weather cooperated.
The most recent version of the plan had Dauntless and I getting to Vallejo by the 17th, flying to SLC on the 21st, then onto Fairbanks on the 25th, ending in Austin, Texas on the 3rd. I have good friends there and it so happens that the plane ticket to Vietnam is significantly cheaper if it starts in Austin (or other smaller markets) then NY or Detroit, even though my routing goes thru Detroit.
What are friends and family for? Friends and family are there to talk you out of stupid ideas or better said: to help you see the better plan.
My friends, Mike and Adrianna, who now also have a Kadey Krogen 42, called While Knuckles, had suggested earlier that I stay in southern California longer. The reason I had resisted was that that plan upset my sense of completion: let’s get Dauntless settled, then travel.
The Pacific off the Southern California coast, south of Santa Barbara, has significantly better cruising weather. The winds are still predominately from the NW, but more like 50% of the time versus 90% further south. In addition, there are long periods of light & variable winds. Perfect cruising weather.
And that’s what we had for the next five days.
Mike and Adrianna keep their boat in front of a friend house in Channel Islands harbor. They spoke to their friend, Kyoto, and she was happy to have my Kadey Krogen there, while White Knuckles was in Ensenada having some extensive upgrades taken care of.
The weather was also changing. It became clear that I would have to wait to do the last 270 miles from Point Conception to the Golden Gate and Vallejo. So, I took
Mike and Kyoko up on their offer to keep Dauntless there as long as I needed, while I:
Waited for weather
Attended the wedding and
Flew to Fairbanks and back
Spent more money on tools and spares at Harbor Freight
I had to change one place ticket, but this was a much better plan. I was able to travel to the wedding and then Alaska knowing Dauntless was in good hands with sharp eyes watching out for her. I really appreciated the hospitality and it made for great 10 days
The stop in Xtapa gave me a chance to reboot my mind. It was fitting that the trip ended at the same high stress level as just after leaving Huatulco. Having to enter a strange harbor and marina at night is always stressful. My depth perception is askew. Everything seems significantly closer than during the day. I have to force myself to trust the instruments.
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We docked without incident, as usual. Got a good night’s sleep. And then my HP Envy laptop decided to give up the ghost. It was not to be replaced/repaired for another month, when I arrived in southern Calif, so no blogging for a while.
While this may appear to be a relief, in fact, it was the opposite. Writing about my adventures, my mishaps, my miscalculations, allows me to reflect on my practice.
As a high school principal, I quickly realized that during job interviews, when I was looking for additional teachers, the outcome of the interview really came down to three questions:
Was the prospective teacher intelligent, did they know their content area?
Did they like children?
Where they reflective in their practice?
I didn’t care if they knew how to teach; I could teach them that. But there is no way to overcome the negatives of any of the above three questions. You can’t make a lazy or stupid person, smart and not lazy. You can’t make them like children. There are too many teachers who teach because it’s convenient. In moments of black humor, we, principals, would say, they are here for the parking (some schools have convenient parking, some don’t).
And lastly, we live in a culture of blame. If things don’t go as we as we would like, we look to blame others, never looking in the mirror. It’s my parents, government, spouse, boss, fill in the blank’s fault. But good teaching practices only happen when the educator is reflective. After every teaching period, every day, every week, every year: what could I have done better? How can I connect with that student(s) better? Why didn’t they understand_____? or something as simple as, what worked, what didn’t?
Reflection allows our brain to better organize new data, recognize mistakes or things we could have done better or even just differently. In writing this post, I remembered in my 4th year of teaching, I had put up a mirror on the entry door with the caption, “Meet the person responsible for your learning today”. Much like reminding people to turn off cell phones in inappropriate places, it’s a little reminder that can go a long way.
As the boobies started to congregate on Dauntless, first resting on the paravane pole lines and at the end of the pole. Then, an intrepid fellow managed to land on the bow pulpit rail despite the pitching bows. Once other’s saw his success, we because a virtual bus ride north.
They did promise to clean up before they left, but I suspected they would forget that promise. But as I thought about their lives, I thought about how good we, Americans, have it so good. There was one fellow who parked himself on the rail right near the pilot house door. He was keeping watch with me. When I had to go out to pee, I didn’t want to disturb him/her, so I walked thru the boat to the stern deck, instead of my normal spot on the starboard side deck (where the high side rail offers more protection from falling overboard).
The numbers increased every day, until that last 24 hours when the pitching became untenable even for them. I think their coloring indicated they were juvenile blue or brown footed boobies.
Xtapa was a nice, albeit unexpected respite. It was 30-minute bus ride to Zihuantanejo. We ate, drank and slept well for 3 days waiting for the winds to subside.
Splashed a hundred feet off our bow. Thick black smoke poured from the funnel of the WWII vintage ship as she pushed thru the seas at her full speed of 18 knots.
Which was still double the speed this Kadey Krogen could do. In fact, the only time we would ever see even 15 knots, would be if we went over a waterfall.
My little imagination had to settle down; returning to reality, I knew why we were being stopped. An hour before, a panga had crossed our bow about one half mile ahead. Seeing our paravane stabilizers deployed, I’m sure he reported that we were fishing or trawling. We do look like a trawler after all.
Therefore, I was not surprised an hour later when the grey shape of a warship appeared on the horizon.
Watching the radar track, they were aiming for us, so I was ready for their call. They hailed us as “the fishing vessel”. We changed to a working channel on the VHF and they requested that we stop for an inspection.
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From this start to finish, the Mexican Navy was the epitome of professionalism and courtesy. It’s simply the nature of Mexicans as I’ve experienced in all my encounters these last months. No matter where or when, even in New York.
The ship was the ARM Farias, P110, a minesweeper built in Alameda, California in 1942 as the USS Starling (AM-64) and sold to Mexico in 1973.
Asked to heave to, making no way, our ride became very rolly, as the paravanes need to be moving to stabilize the boat. So, I asked to make some way and that request was granted. Larry and I then watched for the next half hour as the Farias deployed their skiff (an 18-foot panga), which then motored over to us.
We had retrieved our lee side paravane pole and bird, so the panga could offload on that side. The boarding party consisted of about 6 and the lieutenant in command spoke good English. He proceeded to tell us the same boiler plate language that had been said when we were initially stopped, essentially that since we were in Mexican territorial waters, they requested that we agree to an inspection (yes, it was a request that could not be denied, but it’s still nice to be asked, even when we all know what the response must be, “Yes, of course”.
Obvious as soon as they were aboard that we were not fishing, the lieutenant then proceeded to go through an inspection checklist. This did take more than 40 minutes, as they recorded serial numbers of many of the electronic devices on board, even cell phones and radios. I got the impression that this recording of such information was to demonstrate that the inspection had been carried out.
He also did look in our living areas, in the drawers under the bed and in various storage compartments. Almost everything is stored in large plastic containers and tubs. He asked me to open one that was stored in the passageway, under the washing machine. It contained my winter coats. That was the only and only container I had to open, which I was grateful for since we’d probably still be there if I had to open the 20 odd containers of spare parts in the engine room.
I asked if their ship was a minesweeper and they confirmed my guess, adding that is was built in 1942.
I told them they should ask Trump for a new ship. They thought this was very funny. I was serious. If we can spend billions for a wall, the least we could do is give the countries the tools they need to stop any illegal activities. That we don’t, just shows what a farce this whole secure the borders act is.
At the end of the inspection, they did ask, phrased as, “our commander asks if you have a new Mexican flag? As the one you have is too frayed”
This also didn’t surprise me, as having decent national or courtesy flags can be an issue worldwide. And in fact, I did nave a new flag (remember, on a boat, if you need one, you need two) and they were pleased when I replaced it.
So, ended our stop by the Mexican Navy. Very nice, polite and friendly, I thanked them for keeping us all safe.
As the winds finally let up after 10 days to let us get out of the tourist hell that is Cabo San Lucas, I was optimistic that having a functional dingy would give us increased stopping opportunities.
One of the key factors in deciding to burn money staying at the marina in Cabo for $100 per day was the lack of a serviceable dingy. Though, the reviews for anchoring outside the harbor, were mixed at best.
Leaving Cabo, the plan was to get a few days up the coast to wait out the next forecast period of strong northwesterly winds that preclude any movement north. Our goal was Magdalena Bay, a very large bay, similar to San Francisco Bay.
We had decided to bypass the anchorage off the Magdalena Bay entrance, as it did not look as protected as San Carlos, point another 12 miles north through a meandering, narrow channel. We were also looking forward to getting the taste of Cabo out of our systems be visiting a real Mexican town again.
Thus, the die was cast for Puerto San Lucas.
As we were passing the anchorage, heading up channel, we heard a call on the VHF, weak, but readable, in Spanish, telling us something. Again, my Spanish stinks, so I wasn’t sure what was being said, but I guessed it was about Puerto San Lucas and we’d figure it out when we got there. I’d already made the decision that the anchorage at Magdalena Bay was too open for my likes.
12 miles and two hours later, as we approached Puerto San Lucas, we got the call again. This time, it was loud and clear that the port was closed due to the anticipated high winds. I suspected that, so we told them we were going to head a couple miles further north to anchor in the lee of the mangroves. That was met with happy approval, since it was clear in the tone of the conversation, that the port captain didn’t like telling us the port was closed to us.
We proceeded north another few miles which put us right on the edge of the charted area of both the C-Map and Navionics charts. Going very slowly as the water shallowed, at one point, I did let us get out of the channel and had to rapidly reverse to avert the 17th grounding of my career (but who’s counting?)
Video of us approaching out anchorage
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Anchored in about 10 feet of water, with 100 feet of chain and snubber for the anticipated winds, we were quite content. The winds were already 15 to 20, gusting to the high 20’s, but with no fetch, the seas were very small, less than half a foot, and Dauntless was rock steady.
We did swing around overnight due to the current, but my 55-pound Delta anchor has never dragged since I got it 4 years ago. I don’t even bother with an anchor alarm anymore, but I admit that’s because I have given up on Drag Queen probably because it turns itself off due to poor reception in my cabin and more importantly, I don’t anchor off lee shores.
Having sleep like a baby, the previous two nights having been spent underway, we woke up full of piss and vinegar. Time to take the dingy to Puerto San Lucas and check out the action, well more like, check out the food.
Now, not being totally stupid, I decided to go upwind for a bit to see how well the dingy and its puny 5 hp outboard could handle the conditions. As you can see from the video, all looked great, though the winds were blowing 20 to 25 knots.
Did I do the math? No. Puerto San Lucas was about 2.5 to 3 miles away; downwind.
But we set off with the winds to our back, the only concern was where we could land the dingy. Not knowing that location was mistake number #1.
Mistake #2 was I have two handheld VHF radios. The primary one, the ICOM, battery could no longer charge, so that was on the list of things to replace. The secondary one, the Chinese whatever, would take real rocket scientist to figure out how to use, thus it was relegated to some storage container someplace where I put things I don’t feel like dealing with.
Video of our test lap
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Besides, why would we possibly need a radio.
Twenty minutes later, zipping right along, maybe a half mile upwind of town, wondering where we could land the dingy. We see a man cast fishing, standing in about 1 to 2 feet of water maybe a few hundred feet from shore. Let’s head there.
As we get closer, we finally realize we are running of water. Umm, those rocks look so close. I reach to unlatch the outboard, so it can tilt upwards and as I fiddle with the lever, ge-clunk, the prop hits a rock or two and we are in half a foot of water.
We get out the oars, yes, I remembered to take them, only to realize we are hard aground, as the wind continues to push us towards shore.
I jump out, to get us turned around, Larry starts to row. Some minutes later, we are in deeper water, enough to start the outboard.
Rule #1, when running aground, follow the same route out as you followed in. Mistake #3, not following Rule #1. We were further to the west than our track in.
Getting the outboard started we decided to head back to Dauntless. The outboard had a bad vibration; I’d bent the prop. That, the 25 knot headwinds with the now 1 to 2-foot seas it produced, along with a heavier dingy and two people, meant that our downwind speed of probably 5 to 6 knots, was now about 2 knots.
Every minute we would be splashed by a breaking wave. We couldn’t see Dauntless at all. I knew where she was, but clearly, we were more than 2 miles away. That meant, we had an hour of this.
That’s when we went aground again. This time coupled with a belching of very black motor oil, like the Exxon Valdez had passed through. I thought I had totaled the outboard, as in the prop hitting a solid object was enough to break a connecting rod inside the motor.
But the motor started up and we seemed to crawl northwards. I didn’t know where the oil (about a cup worth) had come from, but I expected the motor to quit at any moment. The winds and seas were too strong to row again. Even with the outboard still running, we were doing at best 2 knots.
We discussed contingency plans.
We decided to head north until the boat came into sight and hope the motor lasted long enough. I kept on asking Larry if he thought we were making any progress. That guy fishing was still quite visible, while Dauntless was no where to be seen. This went on for the next 30 minutes, until it was obvious that we were making progress. Though I wondered for how long. The outboard was clearly on its last legs, shaking itself to death with no oil.
We decided that if the outboard quit, we would have to head west to the shore, about 1 mile away. We could not go upwind, but if we angled across the wind, we should be able to make shore. At that point, we would get out and walk along the shore in deep enough water to drag the dingy north. Once NW of Dauntless, we would row to her.
We were cold and wet, but having a plan that was at least feasible, made me feel slightly better. Though I was feeling miserable that I was subjecting Larry to this fiasco. That was making me feel worse. When I’m alone and fuck up, I deal with it. But I hate for others to suffer because of my actions. This is why I like being alone many times. I don’t feel stressed nor responsible for anyone else. If I torture myself, so be it, I deserved it.
The Kadey Krogen came into sight after about 40 minutes since we stared heading back. She blended well into the background. The outboard sounded worse than ever. I pictured it quitting within feel of Dauntless. With these winds and waves, no way could we have rowed to her. Even if we were 100 feet away, we would probably have to row to shore, a half mile away, and do our drag up the coast to get upwind of her.
I crossed my fingers and toes.
About this time, we saw a panga heading south. But it was about a half mile to our east and by the time we saw it, it was well south of us. Had I seen it earlier, I would have waved it down. He could have towed us to Dauntless in 10 minutes. But it wasn’t to be. I was reminded how stupid it was, especially under such conditions, to venture forth without a radio.
For 30 minutes we watched Dauntless get bigger and bigger. I prayed to Poseidon, Circe and whoever would listen to just get there. Finally, as I bumped into the swim platform and Larry grabbed ahold, I breathed a sigh of relief. We’d made it.
Getting the dingy rigged to the winch line, I decided to see if the outboard would start. No, it was done. I was grateful it kept on going that last hour.
I’ve written before about the “having two keys”. There have been countless times when I have lost a key but had duplicates someplace. Whereas I can never remember having lost a key when it was my only one. I wondered if I was more careless than usual because I knew I had another outboard in the future? My friend Mike had promised to give me his spare 15 hp outboard when I got to Southern California.
One never knows, but everything is connected, even when you think it isn’t.
The following day, leaving for Magdalena Bay anchorage, to give us a better head start the next day.
It’s hard to believe that I have 5+ years and 20,000+ miles under my belt. I don’t.
Why, you wonder?
Oh, the routine things, those daily tasks or almost daily takes, are easy. It was in Germany when I lost my bow thruster. That was at the beginning of our 2015 Baltic Adventure. Seems like ages ago.
So, I’m pretty good at back and filling now. I can turn Dauntless around in a 180° in two boat lengths or 85 feet. It also gives me the excuse to Just Say No. When a marina, like recently at Dana Point, gave me a slip that I thought that I may be able to get in, but never get out again, I was able to easily say no, without guilt.
They found an end “T” dock for me.
I can also change the Racor fuel filters and prime them in less than two minutes. But now, I have the wisdom that I don’t need to rush. That’s the advantage of having the two dual Racor filters in parallel. Also, by only feeding from one fuel tank at a time, it a problem or issue develops, I immediately change the tank feed and filter and then diagnose the problem. This came in handy a couple of weeks ago when I sensed a change in engine pitch. I immediately asked Larry to take the helm, while I went to the engine room. Sitting on the stringer in front of the engine, I could tell the rpms were not steady, but slowly rising and falling.
That meant a fuel or air problem.
The Racor bowl looked good, but I immediately changed to the other Racor. No change. I switched fuel tanks. The surging continued and got a bit worse. But now I thought I understood the issue. I talk Larry to increase the throttle. After a moment’s hesitation, the engine started running smoothly and normally again.
What was the problem? I’d run the fuel tank empty!
But I didn’t kill the engine because I acted immediately by changing both the filter (that at that point, probably had some air in it) and the tank. The Ford Lehman can be a PIA if you run it totally out of fuel, but I do have an auxiliary electric pump which I use just to prime the Racors and the engine mounted filters if need be. It works great, within seconds, system is pressurized and no more f…ing with that lift pump on a hot engine.
But the dingy, why that’s another matter. In 2016 we only used it a few times. Sitting in Cabo San Lucas with nothing to do, waiting for the head winds to die down, I figured I may as well make one last attempt to get the dingy going.
I spent an hour in the hot Cabo sun pumping it full of air. I’d already used another tube of 5200 to seal the back transom to the pontoons. The dingy looked pretty good. No need for a new stink’in dingy. I had looked at the local Costco the day before but saw no sign of any. (My observational powers leave a lot to be desired).
Then in yet another moment of inexperience, I decided to lower the dingy to the dock, without checking the outboard.
I was feeling pretty good until the next morning. That sad picture tells the tale.
I decided that we could survive without the dingy. And in hindsight, we would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done without one.
Returning to Costco to stock up on required supplies like Danishes for yet another attempt to head north, I spotted the dingy that had eluded me the last TWO visits. They had it displayed standing vertically, on it’s tail. Of course, I couldn’t see it like that. They may as well have hung it from the ceiling. But remember, that this point, I had decided to go without. How was I going to get it to the boat in any case, so, I just bought my Danishes
Walking out of the store, I noticed these guys, presumably taxi drivers, and with my 20-word Spanish vocabulary, I never found out, but they did point me back to the store and I understood that Costco delivered.
When businesses make it easy to spend money, I’m all in. In 10 minutes, I had my dingy bought and they would deliver the next day.
Another hour of foot pumping, my new dingy was good to go. Now, to get the outboard working. Of course, after The First and Nearly the Last almost a year of non-use, it was a no-go.
I realized I had to clean the ports in the carburetor again. No biggie, except in my inexperience, I had not done this while the outboard was on the boat or even on the dock. It was now sitting on the transom of the new dingy. I debated trying to take the carb apart while hanging off the end of the boat., but realized it was a sure way to lose a critical part. My back would have to pay the price for my brain not thinking about this before.
Another hour later, I finally was good to go and thought it would be good to take the dingy down to the fuel dock and fill up the gas can.
All went as planned and I was left with a confidence that I did not deserve.
The video of the first and nearly the last dingy trip
No, I haven’t died or been in jail, I was in computer-less purgatory.
You know that place you end up when you depend on your laptop to communicate with the outside world.
And sure, a cell phone is great for talking, but if you think I’m going to write a blog post on it, as my mother would say, you have another think coming.
But a new motherboard for 500 bucks installed and at $67 battery from Amazon and my little HP Envy laptop is as good as new.
So, what did you miss? A lot really. Almost all of it too painful to even think about, let alone write about. But I do feel responsible to those of you who have spent your valuable time reading my rantings and ravings in between an adventure or so, so here are a few highlights:
The $1,000 to replace the leaking seals in my transmission. They still leak.
The reconditioned heat exchangers that started leaking 10 minutes are leaving port
The 60-mile detour (doesn’t sound like much in a car, but that’s 9 hours in a boat.
Being beaten back to Cabo San Lucas, not once, but twice. This from a person who never turns around.
Deciding to take the dingy 3 miles in a 30-knot wind only to discover it goes much faster downwind than up. Oh, and then I bent the prop, twice, the second time, with a belching of oil. And we were still three miles away from Dauntless, which we could not see in any case.
Checking into the USA with Dauntless for the first time in 4 years.
Being stopped by the Mexican Navy.
Being chased my fishing boats
Hobby horsing until you think you are going to die.
Entering yet another harbor at night, having to anchor by radar, having vowed years ago, never to do such things.
Umm, I had forgotten most of that. I’ve burned thru money this trip like a drunken sailor, but I’ve been so stressed for all the above, I’ve drunk much less than normal.
Through it all, and because of some genuine and generous friends, I was able to leave Dauntless for a week and make a quick trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, which was as as I’ve ever seen her and attend a wedding at 11,000 feet, which, left me breathless.
I hope to get back to my writing routine in the coming days. I start with the end, first.
Coming Next, Anchoring at Night in Strange Places: It’s not for the Faint Hearted.
Perseverance, in the face of very adverse situations, being bored almost to tears or dealing with unimaginably
stupid, selfish adults, has gotten me to many of my most important goals in my life: four university degrees, meteorologist, science teacher, high school principal, Dauntless and certainly crossing the Atlantic, now twice.
But it has also gotten me in trouble. Big trouble.
My life has always been about planning. Acting spontaneously is not me. Throughout my life, when I have acted spontaneously, the outcomes were not good.
So, it sounds simple.
Make the Plan; Do the Plan.
And this works much of the time, but not always. Why? Because while I’m not acting spontaneously, I end up following a not well thought out plan. Whether career changes, job changes or route planning, I’ve sometimes followed flawed plans to the “T”.
Now, not all plans have the same consequences. Leaving the U.S. Air Force to start my own business still baffles my mind. Yes, I was tired of the bureaucracy of the USAF, but the USAF is a model of efficiency, team work and everything else you can think of when compared to the New York City Department of Education.
So that decision, way back in 1987, ended up affecting my life for the next 20+ years.
Most recently, I had another occasion to change the plan. Abort so to speak.
The outlines of the Pacific Ocean Plan were in place before we even crossed the Atlantic three years ago. While always subject to modification, the Plan has two primary functions:
It focuses my thoughts to anticipate issues and possibilities
It gives me the confidence to persevere, to succeed, even when I get tired, bored, etc.
It’s hard to imagine, that in the original Plan, I would be in Yeosu, South Korea in this month!
Oh well, even the best plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.
Last year at this time, I still expected to be in the Pacific Northwest by now. One month ago, I still expected to be in Guaymas, northern Mexico this week.
Instead, Dauntless is in the wonderful, little port of Huatulco, Mexico. Just across the Gulf of Tehuantepec.
The crossing of the Tehuantepec was a good example of when to modify the plan.
So, as I left Chiapas at 08:00, alone, because my friend, Cliff who had joined me in Costa Rica to help me get Dauntless the 450 nm to Mexico, had had to return home. But the longest leg was now behind me and tonight next 6 weeks alone was doable, even if not my preference.
The crossing was long, 40 hours, uneventful, but also an eye opener.
Before leaving Chiapas, I had been advised my everyone, from locals to friends who had done it themselves, to stay within a few miles of the coast, just in case the winds pick up. It would only add about 20 nm to a 240-nm trip, not that bad.
The course directly across the Gulf is 284°, while along the coast it would be about 305°, so after passing the breakwater, I made my course 300°.
I then spent the next half hour dodging pangas and fishing nets. 260 nm at 6.5 knots is 40 hours. I immediately understood that I could not spend 40 hours dodging boats and nets.
I had been watching the weather for days, waiting for the appropriate weather window. Since the synoptic weather pattern that caused the Tehuantepec winds was also the same that caused the Papagayo winds which I had been watching for weeks. So, I was pretty confident that at I’d have at least 24 hours of light winds, then at the worst case, if they started to build, I’d have winds on the beam for at most 12 hours.
Being summer, those winds would not be as strong as in winter. Just like the North Atlantic, cold air can easily produce hurricane force winds in the winter. Therefore, worst case, Dauntless and I would have to put up with 20 knot winds on the beam for half a day. Not fun; but not dangerous either, at least not in this Kadey Krogen.
With all that in mind, within 3 miles of leaving the protection of the Chiapas, I changed course to go directly across the Tehuantepec. Needless to say, itw as an uneventful crossing. (Had it been eventful, you would have heard about it by now).
The Plan was to provision the boat in Huatulco and wait for a weather window to continue north. The more I waited, the more I saw my current Plan slipping away. Finally, I realized it was time to let it go completely. In talking to the Marina Captain and a dock neighbor who was heading south, it became clear that the next few hundred miles all the away to Acapulco, offered only one safe harbor, therefore I could not afford to stop as long as the winds and weather were favorable.
Picturing the pangas and nets off of Chiapas, I realized that my long thought out Plan was not feasible at this point. As I looked for alternative places to winter Dauntless, they were all much more expensive, like 10x more! than my present location of Huatulco.
So here we are. Robert Burns said it best:
“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry”
Asia, via the North Pacific is still the medium-term goal.
But now that transiting the Panama Canal, a set structure in time and space, has been done, I have time to take a breath.
I want to enjoy the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. These areas provide the spectacular scenery of Norway with added wildlife that has been long gone from Europe.
The western coasts of Central and North America pose a formidable challenge for little boats: long stretches of coastlines with inaccessible harbors when you most need them and predominantly head winds and seas.
If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, this Krogen does not like head seas. They make for a miserable ride that takes twice the time and fuel.
So, the first step is understanding that with any northerly component to the winds, one must stay put.
We are also constrained by a relatively short cruising period, 5 months, maybe 6 at best. That’s 150 to 180 days. Climo says that the winds are northerly 66 to 75% of the time. That means of those 150 days, maybe only 45 are useable.
In those 45 days, I can reasonably assume that gets me about 2100 nm or someplace in Northern Mexico from Golfito.
The following summer, 2018, I’d have 2400 nm or about 49 days to get to the Pacific Northwest.
Lastly, in the third year, 2019, that time will be spent in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.
So, I now have a more realistic time table.
Three seasons of cruising, also means three seasons of idleness. And we all know that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. So, while Dauntless is safely tucked in, I must keep busy at an affordable pace.
The west coast is considerably more expensive than Northern Europe, thus I find myself having to be open to new money saving strategies for the winter in particular.
Since re-crossing the Atlantic, I have been slow in updating my digital log. Maybe because the data simply does not change very much:
In 2016-17, Dauntless fuel consumption remains constant at 1.45 gallons per hour or just above 4 nm/gallons. This number is only 1/10th of a gallon different from 2015.
My costs, total expenses for Dauntless and for myself have averaged just less than $100 per day for everything. This is also slightly less than 2015. While marinas in southern Europe were much more expensive than northern Europe, the large number of passage and anchoring days equalized that cost. Also, a passage day, 24 hours x 1.5 gallons = 35 gallons per day at $2.5 = $90/day. So, using fuel for 24 hours pretty much equals the cost of a marina and eating and drinking.
The long-range plan, a circumnavigation in a 30-year Kadey Krogen, is still the plan. I’m already thinking of where I am crossing my track and what comes after that. Northern Europe, Sweden and the Baltic still have an attraction that is hard to beat, but who knows.
I’m always thinking of the future; reflecting on the past. While that doesn’t leave much time to appreciate the here and now, it’s who I am. I get far more enjoyment having the Plan come together, then just winging it. I can read a hundred self-help books about living in the moment. What they all have in common, is that they are written by people who are adept at living in the moment and figured out how to monetize that. Sort of like our President who only seems to live for the moment. Nuff said.
Maybe a better analogy is a book on how to live like a dog, written by a dog, but marketed to cats (dogs already know how to live like a dog).
The cat than buys the book, gets home, reads the first page and decides to take a nap. Nap time over, the cat looks at the book, realizes it pertains to dogs and thinks that’s $17.95 poorly spent.
Then before you know it, it’s nap time again.
That is works for most people is fine with me (President’s excepted); It simply doesn’t work for me.
So, this finds me taking a break from D right now. We’ve been together almost 24/7 since November. My nephew Micah went home to enter Law School, so I decided to take a little break and do a little reconnoiter for this coming winter.
If I’ve learned anything while cruising with Dauntless it that at 6 knots, it takes forever to get anyplace. Therefore, it always behooves me to check out places by land and air before committing to the journey by sea.
300 days and 7,000 miles later, we backed into the slip at Fish Hook Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica.
Last year, my goal was Mexico, I’m a few weeks and miles short of that goal, but all in all, I’m happy.
Well, maybe ecstatic.
My euphoria has been enhanced by the Pacific. Why have you folks kept it such a secret?
Since arriving in the Pacific, our 5 days of cruising has required the use of the paravane stabilizers NOT ONCE.
Now, to put that in context, since leaving Ireland on July 1st, 9 months ago, we’ve probably spent about 180 of those days underway, we needed the paravane stabilizers on all but 5 days. So, in our first 5 days of cruising in the Pacific, we have already matched our 2016 total for flat or small seas.
I’m looking forward to the coming year.
Now, I’m flying to NYC.
When I get back at the end of April, I’ll be ready to begin phase II.
At this point, it’s getting up the west coast.
How long that takes is anybody’s guess, but I don’t have the same time pressure that has driven me the last two years.
I may even have time to wake up and smell the coffee.