More Hijinks on the High Sea & Why Poodles are Smarter than Dolphins

The last two days have gone as well as I had hoped, other than a few operator errors.  As I write this, I am about 20 miles of the coast of Maryland, just abeam off Ocean City, MD and about 60 miles south southwest of my destination, Atlantic City.  Hopefully, I’ll arrive there at 6 p.m. tonight.

Let’s recap.  Since leaving Savannah exactly a week ago, I have been running hard to get north and get home as I have people to see and places to go.

Being alone, makes it somewhat harder, as I do not get a rest at the wheel while in the ICW, must be constantly vigilant, not to get out of the narrow channel and run aground and lastly, since I need to make miles, I have had to put in 14 hour days, just to go 100 miles per day.

Tug Goose Creek and the RR Bridge
Tug Goose Creek and the RR Bridge

The day before yesterday, it was an 18 hour day as I pressed on till 11:00 p.m. so that I could get by a bunch of annoying bridges that only open at certain times during the day, but will open on demand at night, thus saving tons of waiting time.

Thus Thursday night, I got past the Great Bridge and was tied up on the wall between the Great Bridge and the Great Bridge Lock.  Locking thru the next morning, I was 12 miles south of my destination, Portsmouth, and thanks to a great tug boat captain, I was being fueled in Portsmouth at 10:00 a.m.  All my efforts of the night before would have gone in vain, if not for this helpful captain of the tug Goose Creek,

who warned me in a timely fashion to keep up with him, as there was a railroad bridge, that while normally open, was going to close as soon as his tug passed through, as there was a train coming.  So not only did this captain tell me to come as quick as I could and get behind him, he also told the bridge operator that I was running as fast as my little legs could take me and not to close the span on me.  That was really thoughtful and I thanked him.  It saved me more than an hour and this was confirmed when I saw the parade of boats (that had been held up) come past as I finished fueling up almost two hours later.

I got 620 gallons (2400 liters) of diesel at the cheapest price on the east coast, $3.47/gallon.

So by noon, I was underway, passing out of the ICW forever, into the mouth of the Chesapeake, near Hampton Roads, current home port of the Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), which just happened to be docking just as I was leaving.  Impressive sight, though it meant I had to spend the next few hours staying out of the way of her support fleet as they came steaming up the channel from the Atlantic.  It only got hairy once, as a large bulk coal carrier, a navy oiler and little old Dauntless all converged at the narrow channel that is the passage over the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel. I snuck around the red buoy just as the oiler was turning into it.  He missed me by 900 feet and I was finally in the Atlantic.

CVN 71 TR
CVN 71 TR

Waves and wind were as forecast, so I had already put the paravane poles out and had adjusted the guys.  Now the portside pole is slightly bent due to operator error a few days ago.   This had the effect of not wanting to fall away from the boat as freely as it should.  I, like the little experimenter, I am, decide it really didn’t matter, for as soon as I threw the bird in the water, the pole would have to get to its correct position.

Wrong, wrong wrong as Leonie used to say.

So, as I deploy the birds, by basically throwing them overboard, the port side pole is not extended all the way and the line for the bird has so much slack that the wind catches it and it snags on a small cleat that is on the hand rail of the upper deck. But I don’t see that immediately, so as the bird goes in the water, the line is snagged, so the bird is right next to the stern of the boat, instead of being 15 feet out. The pole is standing straight up though bent back towards the stern. Not good, I think, I put the boat in reverse, to completely stop all forward movement, so I can retrieve the bird and try again.  I pull the bird back in, see the snag over my head, climb up on the cap rail to unsnag it and all is well, as I throw the bird back in the water, the pole goes to its normal position.   I then throw the starboard bird in and we are underway.  A few minutes later, as I am walking around the boat, checking that all is OK and the lines, guys are all well-adjusted, I see that my stern pole and American flag are missing.  The only thing left is the stub of the wooden pole where it broke.  I wonder how could that have happened? Age Probably?

Then, it dawns on me, as this 40 pound bird came flying around the back of the boat, it must have wacked the flag pole breaking it off.  Of course all this happened in full sight of the Navy Oiler, you know, the one that came within 900 feet and they are probably still laughing about it.  Just returning from a deployment, they probably needed the laugh more than I needed the flag and pole.

Navy Oiler 8
Navy Oiler 8

A week earlier, the crew of the large container ship that passed ¼ mile away while I was stopped dead in the water for more than an hour, must still be scratching their heads wondering what I was doing.  They did see me climb the mast (thank you John Duffy for installing those mast steps) to put the up-down guy back thru its pulley. And thanks to my Captain’s class, I knew not to wave my arms signaling distress.

A few hours earlier, I had been experimenting (there’s that word again) with the winch, trying to tweak the system I use to pull in the poles.  When done with my experiment (which by the way did show me why a self-tailing winch is different than a regular winch and much more costly) I had retied the up-down guy line, but clearly not well enough.  This same guy came loose because I had not properly secured it. When it came loose, all hell broke out.  I was standing on the bow, admiring the view as Dauntless cut through the Atlantic blue water, when I heard a not so loud thunk.  Thunks are never good and in this case, when I turned around, I saw no pole!

I looked again, thinking my brain was just canceling out stuff it sees all the time and still no pole, but then as I go aft, I see the pole is aimed straight down to Davy Jones’ locker.  At least it and the bird attached to it are still attached to the boat.  John and Red had designed the paravane system so that in case of a snag or something stupid like this, the pole was the weakest link. So, while the pole did bend a little bit, the bracket attached thru the gunnel (wall of the boat) was fine.  It did take me awhile to figure out how to get this pole which is supposed to be extended at a 45° angle from the side of the boat was now at 180°  Eeek

The bent paravane pole
The bent paravane pole

Well, it took me awhile to figure that out, but eventually I used the boom to extend the line a few feet away from the boat, so as I used the winch, the line had some leverage that wasn’t straight up. It worked and while I am stopped in the water doing this work, I see the one boat, a large container ship get closer and closer. The one and only boat I see all day and he is going to go right by me.  Well, this does make me nervous, as I am underway, but not making way.

So I’m up on the top of the mast, as this big ships glides by. I just had to rethread the guy line thru the pulley and down to the cleat where I made sure to attach it correctly, so it couldn’t slip off again.

The pole has few degrees bend in it, but works fine none the less.

Now the day itself started out strangely enough.

That morning, more than a dozen dolphins arrived to swim with my bow wave and the two birds in the water; I thought it was a great omen.  In my excitement, holding the camera with one hand, I open the pilot house door with the other.

And that’s when things started to go bad.  In my haste to open the pilot house door, go out and take pictures, I managed to snag with my foot the cord and charger for my laptop, which I use for my primary navigation system.

As my foot went to step over the sill onto the outside deck, this resulted in me drop kicking the charger converter into the ocean. I was mesmerized as I watched the cord slide off the deck and into the ocean. The realization came to me immediately that I had no backup, it would be days before I could get anew charger and therefore, I would have to be navigating with my smart phone for the next two to three days. I’d done it before, but it’s not the way to go. All of this flashed before my brain in those seconds.

Then, I realized, maybe one of the dolphins will know this was not a mackerel I threw to them and therefore snag it for me. I looked down hopefully, wishing to see one of them surface with the charger in its mouth. I’m even starting to think how I could retrieve it from them.

Dolphin
Dolphin

Then reality set in, even with a dozen dolphins around, wouldn’t you expect at least one to grab on to this cord and retrieve it for me?  I did!  I regret to tell you that not one offered to help.

I now think Poodles are smarter.

An aside.

I was curious as to which aircraft carrier this was, so I googled CVN 71 and Theodore Roosevelt turns up.  I really admired him, reinforced by my experience as a principal in the NYC school system, as fate would have it, in the Theodore Roosevelt High School Campus.  TR’s most famous quote, “Speak Softly, but carry a big stick; you will go far.” I didn’t.  During my time, I did the opposite; I spoke loudly and carried no stick. A dangerous position to be in, umm sort of like Obama. (Julie has learned from my mistakes and she is far more like TR).http://www.public.navy.mil/airfor/cvn71/Pages/default.aspx

Well, at least that strategy got me to Dauntless sooner rather than later.

I wonder what kind of boat Obama will get??

 

All’s Well that Ends Well

 

 

An Atlantic Adventure – Three Aborts – Dauntless has fun; Richard and Julie take a Beating

Spoiler alert

We turned back; left Sebastian Inlet at 8:00 a.m. dragged ourselves back to Cape Canaveral Inlet at 17:00.  And almost got run over by the one ship we saw all day.

Victory coming into port
Victory coming into port

But let’s start at the beginning.

Day 0 Fueling in Stuart

Getting fuel from the fuel truck meant I had to move the boat to a temporary slip.  No problem and an hour later we were returning to our slip.  As I went to back in, the current was clearly stronger than the first time I had done this the week before.  Having this million dollar Krogen on one side and the fat ass catamaran on the other side, just increased the pucker factor.

On the second try, I even used my bow thruster, but to no avail, as my swim platform made a beeline for the Cat.  Wondering what I could do differently to get this to work, I aborted the whole process, left the marina, turned around and docked bow in.

Even that was not so easy, as we had trouble getting the stern tied to the pilings.  But an hour later, all was right with the world.

(Except in Portland, Oregon, where the know nothings are emptying a 38 million gallon reservoir because 1, yes, one, person pissed in it!)

No, I did not make that up and if I had, no one would believe such nonsense.

Day 1 Leaving Stuart

Starts like any great day, Dave the mechanic who works on my boat like it’s his, brought me three freshly baked turnovers. I promptly ate one and froze the other two.

Dave and his minion got their work done by 1 p.m., so it was time to cast off.  We did so and motored up the ICW into the evening.  Now, the wonders of my driving and fog lights made themselves apparent.  It was so easy having the markers lit up.

With Lights
With Lights

We hadn’t seen another boat on the water for hours, so I had no worry about blinding anyone.

Our first attempt at the Vero Beach anchorage ended after I hit bottom twice while trying to approach it. The second time, I had to power out backwards.    We aborted that plan too.

Motored on in the darkness, blissfully content with our artificial daylight.  An hour later, at 21:30 we were safely anchored at Palm Cove 2.  By the way, our new Delta anchor is such a joy. Thanks to Parks at Hopkins Carter in Miami for steering me to the right solution at a great price.  I will use them to get all my supplies while in Europe too.

Day 2 Dawned Dark and Early

At 4 a.m. I had gotten up to look around; make sure were in the same spot, all was fine, so I crawled back into bed.  Before I could go back to sleep, I remembered that I had meant to put one of yesterday’s frozen turnovers on top of the engine to defrost and warm.  So, up I go again, get the turnover and put it on top of the engine, which was still warm by the way.

So at 6 a.m. up again, do my engine room checks and start the engine (I needed to warm up the turnover!)

Without lights
Without lights

.  15 minutes later, we were underway; I had my perfectly warmed turnover and a cup of my Korean coffee.  All was perfect with the world. It wouldn’t stay that way for long.

We had anchored an hour south of Sebastian Inlet, so the plan was to head out to the Atlantic and depending upon the sea state head NNE to Beaufort, NC or, head North to Savanah.  Now, even to Savanah it would be 48 hours, to Beaufort, 60 hours, but if the Atlantic cooperated, it was doable.  I also knew the weather forecast was for continued easterly winds, but I was hoping that the front would push back to the west sooner than forecast, decreasing the winds and having them come out of the south.  Wishful thinking.

As we left the inlet, the fishermen on the jetty looked at us like we were crazy.  The waves were about 5 feet from the east north east; this meant that they were just off our beam.  We had put out the paravane poles before the inlet and as we exited the inlet I thru the fish (aka birds) in the water too.

With the paravanes the roll was reduced 80%.  Initially we were hardly rolling at all (plus/minus a few degrees), but as we were heading into the waves we were pitching a lot.  Up and down, every 6 seconds.  As the morning continued, the waves got higher and veering (moving clockwise) around to the east.  Now we were getting 6 to 8 foot waves, with a few of their bigger brothers (10’) thrown in for kicks every few minutes. The waves were on our right quarter, so we still had pitching, but the paravanes were making the rolling tolerable, maybe 8 to 15° in each direction (would have been 50° without).  Every once in a while the combination of pitch and roll would be such that  the top of the wave would hit the beam of the boat on the pilot house, with water pouring in the gap of the pilot house door that I have been meaning to fix since I first noticed it 12 months ago!

At this point, 5 hours into our 60 hour trip, we decided enough was enough and turned tail for Cape Canaveral to our northwest.  Wind and waves were now on our rear quarter, which did speed up the boat (we had been plodding along at 5 knots), but as the winds had been increasing all day and we all know that the strongest winds are in the afternoon, everything else being equal, we were getting hit with some big waves 8 to 12 ft.

waves
waves

Three merciful hours later I had the Cape Canaveral Inlet in sight and lo and behold, there is this really big ship aiming for the same spot.  First boat we had seen in the last 12 hours was now ready to mow us down.  After watching her for a bit, they did put out a “Securite” call so they wouldn’t be liable when they ran us down.  I radioed them and said I’d been watching them and would turn around to come up behind them.

All went well; it only delayed our salvation by about 15 minutes and an hour and a half later we were tied to a dock wondering what they hell were we thinking?

We had spent a miserable 8 hours on the ocean to cover a distance that we could have done at a serene pace on the ICW in 6 hours.  Oh well.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

Day's End
Day’s End

Rigs, Riggers and Fabricators

Background, How I found John the Rigger and Red the Fabricator

John the Rigger
John the Rigger

In December, I had come down to see my friend Paul, who lives in Coconut Grove.  He introduced me to John Duffy, the Rigger.

John and I talked about what I wanted and I gave him the 120 pictures I had taken of Larry and Lena’s Krogen 42, Hobo. I also gave them the files Kadey Krogen had given me of the blueprints done long ago.  A few weeks later, he called to say he had sat with Red, the fabricator, and he gave me a quote of a little less than $10k.  I was ecstatic since the numbers I had been hearing for installation of paravanes (flopper stoppers) was in the high teens to mid $20s.

They did say they wanted a rig that was lighter, elegant and took advantage of the materials now available.  Admittedly, this did make me a bit nervous, as I was happy to replicate Hobo’s rig.

We decided I’d come back to Miami the beginning of February to start work on this project.

Planning

By mid-February, planning was underway.  John and Red had visited the boat a few times and took some preliminary measurements. In late February, they came and told me they had a design that would not utilize an “A” frame as Hobo had, but instead a number of guys and stays, the Fore guys, the “up-down” guys and the line attaching the fish (aka bird) all using 8 mm Amsteel blue. The aft guy would use 3/8” Stayset and John would add two stays to the mast, as well as a compression fitting with two large pulleys (they have another name) for the up-down lines.  This would also allow the up-down line to transfer stress from one pole to the other and at the same time both the mast and pole would be under compression.

Underway with poles out
Underway with poles out

I was a bit more nervous, as it got further and further away from the design I thought needed to be done.  But at this point I also felt either I trusted  that John the Rigger and Red the Fabricator knew what they were doing, or I didn’t, and in either case, my course was clear.

My friend Richard was with me and he helped, in that I had someone to talk to who understood my angst, thus allowing me to talk it through.  In short order, I told John, “Go for it,” and decided I was all in.

Now, it’s end of February.  Having decided I was all in, I wanted to get this show on the road.

For the next three weeks, John would come by periodically, take some more measurements or install some fitting and disappear again for days.  He told me Red was working on the fabrication and both Red and John promised I would be able to leave Miami by April 3rd. (two weeks away, at this point).

Installation

It’s two weeks before my drop dead date (well, someone is going to die).  So far, John has installed just two chain plates for the two mast stays.  I’m nervous, very nervous.

Ten days before some more action. John assures me that Red has completed all the fabrication and now the installation is just a piece of cake. I’m crossing my fingers, but still nervous.  John claws up the mast to install the compression post and pulleys.  I start to see he knows what he’s doing.

My drop dead date is the following Friday, a week away. John comes out, brings a few things, and says he’ll start installation Monday.

Monday dawns sunny and bright (I’m in Miami after all).  I awake eager with anticipation, like a first teenage date.  John comes by, ready to install– no, he is going to meet Red at the solar panel warehouse.  I ask to go along, if for no other reason than he will have to return.  The warehouse is not far from the boat, and the price on solar panels is so good, I decide to buy 4.  This is something I’ve been thinking about and it has never a question of doing, only when to do it.  At $110 for a 110 watt mono crystalline panel (47”x26”), this is too good a price to pass up.

We get back to the boat, unload the panels and John tells me he’ll be back tomorrow.  I’m past the point of worrying.

Fish in the water
Fish in the water

Well, just as advertised, all the installation was finished by Thursday, giving us Friday to adjust some lines.  I was very pleased and upon reflection I realized that the long drawn out process really worked to my benefit, as I was able to understand and absorb what was going on piece by piece.

So something that just a month earlier I had looked at as like magic, now, I knew what every part did and how to adjust or replace as needed in the future.

The installation went so quickly because I was only 80’ from the entrance to Hopkins Carter marine Supply. http://www.hopkins-carter.com/

I literally ran in there to get stuff probably 50 times a day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I will write more about them, but needless to say, being there made this process so much easier.

The Stabilizer Rig

In the end, Dauntless ended up with a rig that clearly was designed by Red and John with a sail boat attitude in that pieces not only had to be strong, but also light.  They made it clear they did not want to clutter the boat with heavy hardware and brought a sailor’s perspective to it.  Red had also worked on real trawlers and he also clearly understood the stresses the boat is under when rolling and having to stop that roll.

Also, when I told John of my adventures, having one bird in the water, not two, he confirmed the rudder deflection (5°) confirmed the amount of stress the bird puts on the boat.  He also told me that’s why he added the two additional forward stays to the mast.  How he could know that I would test it asymmetrically on the second day, I can only guess.

Also, when the bird is in the water, the angle between the line the bird makes to the pole is about 45°, which means that the stressed are divided equally between the fore guy and the up-down line to the mast and the other pole through the compression post.

We decided not to put a permanent chain plate on the bow, as I wanted to be able to adjust the lines, so we used the bow and stern hawsers for the guys.  I did have to readjust the port side guys by about 6 inches.

The largest waves we have seen so far were 4 feet.

Tomorrow, 16 April will be the real test

The installation of the solar panels is almost complete.  The rest of the work I have had done in Stuart, the new Fridge/freezer, the almost new Splendid washer/dryer, and the Katadyn 160E water maker are all ready to go.  Also, many small projects, like the wooden frame that covers the generator Racor (which had already been hit twice by the 30 lb. hatch cover).  We also got permanent wiring and control for my winch and new lines for the boom pulley, as well as the wiring for the 240v to 120v transformer.

I sold the Sea King satellite system, which won’t work in Europe, and my too-large dingy, which didn’t work for me.

The cold front that is affecting the entire east coast from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas will also be affecting our planned trip tomorrow.  With good weather, I had hoped to take a NE course from Stuart FL direct to Beaufort NC.  That won’t happen now.  Stay tuned, but it will probably be a slow crawl up the coast.

You can follow Dauntless on Marinetraffic.com and search for Dauntless mmsi # 367571090.