Ground(ing)hog Day II

Sans Bill Murray.

Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless
Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless

The evening of the [first] grounding, Julie and I, along with our NYC friends, Karen and Jason, were joined by our English sailing buddies, John and Jenny on S/V Shaka.

We celebrated our second successful tie to shore with a stern anchor with a bottle of Prosecco followed by a tasty dinner of roast pork shoulder, onions and red peppers all grilled on the Weber Q280, washed down by at more Prosecco and some Cotes du Rhone.

Good food, good company, good wine; no one can ask for more of life.

What the Chart Looks like
What the Chart Looks like

So I felt far better about the day’s fiasco and remembering my new life’s motto, All’s Well that Ends Well.

That’s what crossing the Atlantic has done for me; my sense of perspective was totally recalibrated, e.g. crossing the street, get run over by a bus, first thought, well, at least it didn’t happen while crossing the Atlantic!

Next day, we awoke to another beautiful day.  Blue skies, westerly winds, which were calm in our protected cove.  I had never slept so well on “anchor”.

Tied to an Island
Tied to an Island

The day’s plan was to move about 10 to 15 miles further east towards Helsinki, as we needed to return to Helsinki the next evening as Jason and Karen had a plane to catch to attend a wedding in NY in two days.

The challenge in Finland is finding a sheltered (from the wind) spot that is not in front of someone’s house, or even visible from said house.  In fact, they are a bit particular about that and in just a few days’ time, we would learn just how particular. But that drama is for a different day.

The challenge is to motor relatively slowly around islands that are everywhere, to find a sheltered cove, that we can safely motor up to, get someone on land to put a line around a tree and then deploy the stern anchor.  All the while also watching for houses, flag poles, stern buoys, docks and other signs of human habitation that must be avoided.

Not an easy task.

Our Stern Anchor
Our Stern Anchor

So as we enter a wide channel between a few islands, maybe a third of a mile apart, we spot some locals sunning themselves on the rocks.  What better way to find a place than to ask them for suggestions!

Another stupid idea that will cost me $$$, but how much is still to be determined.

So, once again, I am driving the boat, as we yell over to these Finns, hoping someone can not only speak English, but can give us a suggestion as to where we can go and not intrude on anyone’s space.

It didn’t seem we ever got an answer that we could understand, though I do remember they pointed out a rock to be avoided, about 200 feet off the end of their island and 200 feet in front and to the left of our heading.

No problem I say, I see it clearly marked on our charts.  I’m certainly not going to run over the little “+” that denotes a rock this time.

And I don’t!  But alas, it turns out I didn’t have to actually hit the “+”, but like tossing horseshoes, close also counts.

I’m turning the boat in a lazy 180° aiming along the route we had just come in on, I aim right of the rock going again about 3 knots. But not far enough to the right.

The wind is strong, 25 knots on our starboard quarter, about 120° relative to the boat, and when I look at the chart seconds later, I see that we are getting close to that rock and shallow area just off our port side.

I steer the boat more to the right, but not in that imminent danger mode, in which I push whoever is at the helm out of the way, and spin the wheel faster than the wheel of fortune; no this was more like, umm, that rock is getting close Jeeves, maybe we should wander a bit more the other way.

So in no haste apparent haste, just as the boat turns, we feel the now too familiar thumps announcing we have struck land once again.  Dauntless rises out of the water, but not like Moby Dick this time, more like a humpback whale, as we rise, but then slide off to the right.

Again stopping within 20 feet, tilted to the right, but still on the rock enough that I cannot extradite ourselves with a little reverse engine.

It’s a large rock.

Very large, maybe two to four feet below the surface, but at least a hundred feet long in the shape of a banana.  The “+” on the chart denoted, the highest point!, but not the full extent.

All my fault in any case.  I still got too close for no real reason and was again too sloppy in my helmsmenship.

Another lesson learned the only way one does seem to learn; the hard way.  But then as a teacher, having firmly believed that no learning is done unless work, sometimes hard work, is involved, I take my medicine that I so liberally dished out to others.

And I can only smile at that irony, but it’s really not ironic, it’s simply a fact of learning.

So again, we got about half way along the keel before stopping, tilted at an angle to the right, bow up.

Within seconds, literally seconds, a Finn and his son appeared in a little skiff, asking if we needed help to get off.  I had already put Dauntless in reverse, but just for a moment, and seeing no real movement, I did not try very hard, and stopped.

Since s/v Shaka was right behind me,  I figured why run the motor and prop hard so close to rocks, when they can pull me off.

But the Finn really wanted to help, he volunteered to go get his big skiff, with 150 horsepower engine, but I told him Shaka was right there and we would try with that at first.

He helped my talking the line from our boat to Shaka.  While that was taking place, I looked around and it was clear that the deep water was off our starboard stern quarter.

I asked Shaka to pull us in that direction and within seconds of him pulling, we were off.

I know there are now more scrapes and gouges, that will have to be attended to sooner, October, rather than later, the spring, but no visible damage and no holes or issues with the prop or shaft.  If I get the opportunity to pull the boat sooner, I will probably do that, just to make sure and develop a plan for the winter.

But let me tell you, while I felt lucky, as I had the day before, I hated the idea that I had used all of my lucky charms in two days, with another 50 days to go in waters just as treacherous.

Like the guy who speeds through the red light, once, twice, three times, sooner or later, he’ll get creamed; and on this trip I had already sped through too many red lights.

Well the friendly Finn suggested a place for us and I asked him to guide us.

He brought us a cove about ½ mile away (maybe the same place the sunning Finns had been pointing to?), but we decided it was too windy and I was frankly afraid to approach the shore (rocks) within 100 feet to see if the wind would die down as we got closer to shore.

So, he brought us to another cove, on the SE side of a rather large island.  There was an old stern buoy there, but he told us, while the island was privately owned, (as most of them are in Finland), he had not seen anyone use this mooring for years.  But no house was visible, so he was sure it would be OK.

It was a very nice spot:  no house in sight, the winds were calm in this sheltered location and we could motor slowly to the rocks on shore.  We decided to stay.

The procedure at this point, what with my extensive stern anchoring experience (at one and counting), consisted of checking out the spot by motoring, drifting really, to nose up to shore and if the nose of the boat can get to shore with enough depth under the rest of the boat, all is good.

Next step is to back up. Make a “U” turn to return to a spot about  150 feet from shore.  With the boat facing shore again and along the exact track we had just taken in to shore, we drop the stern anchor and slowly motor up the shore/rock again, letting out the rode as we go.

Then some intrepid soul, jumps onto shore or if too high, we use the kayak to get to shore to bring a line around a tree and return it to the boat so we may leave in haste if need be, without having to go ashore again.

Our ground tackle consists of a 100 foot ¼” line, a strap to protect the tree, my 40 pound Bruce with 10 feet of chain and 250 of nylon rode.

So far in the half dozen times we have done this, being so close to land, there is almost no force on the boat to push it away from land. So the bow line’s main purpose is just to hold the bow at a particular position.

Now, having the bow secure, the rode on the stern anchor is taken in just a bit.  Enough to hold the bow literally inches away from the rock in front of it.  This will preclude knocking, albeit quietly and slowly, against the rock all night keeping yours truly awake.  (Or until I get up, and pull in the stern anchor rode to put tension in it, dressed only in my birthday suit).  But that’s only happened once so far.

Our stern anchor is my old 40 lb. Bruce with the bent neck with 10 ft. of chain and 250’ of nylon rode that is really stretchy.  This was my third anchor rode set that had been stored in the lazerette.

Looking at all the fancy stern rigs boats in Europe have, I decided to actually use what I had for a season before spending (wasting) any more money.

I just unhooked the Bruce from the bow rode (50 ft. chain and 250’ line, got the old rode out of the lazerette and bough a plastic hose reel in Ireland.

Voila, done.

The anchor sits on the swim platform, its neck between the slats of the platform, the ten feet of chain in a plastic box also on the swim platform, with the rode running thru the stern hawse pipe to the line on the hose real.

Again, we had a great dinner.  Salmon I think.  I do love our Weber. Washed down by plenty of wine.  And then our German sailing buddies, Andres and Annette, found us. The evening ended with more empty bottles than I thought existed on the boat.

After recounting my tale of woe, we followed him out the following morning, late morning, as the evening before the four men, two Americans, one German, one English, partied like is was 1999.

This was such a nice spot, we returned to it a few days later after having been to Helsinki again to change out crew. Dana and Peter, also from NY now joined us for Julie’s last few days in Finland.

But this time, within a few hours of arriving, two women in a little skiff came by and asked us to leave since their brother was coming with his boat sometime that afternoon and evening.

So we pulled lines and anchors and decided to try to spot the helpful Finn had suggested a few days earlier.

Since we were now a single boat, both our sailing buddies had to press on west towards home, the spot was good for just one boat.

It turned out to be a wonderful spot.  Quiet, with a larger view to the north.  In fact, the spot we had moved from to make room for the brother was only a half mile away and clearly visible.

So another great day that ended well, well, almost well. The brother never showed up.

We were worried that something may have happened to him!

 

 

 

 

Spanked in Finland

60° North; 24° East, probably as far east as we will get in Europe this year.

Our first night in Finland
Our first night in Finland, bow to shore.

Since leaving Latvia, Estonia and Finland have been interesting.  Later this summer I will have to have a Baltic Sea recap, but for now, just a little saga that we have probably all heard before.

We got beat up a bit going between Tallinn and Finland, but what else is new.  Maybe we should have named Dauntless, “Windfinder”, because she certainly does that well.  The Dog Days of summer, high pressure, hot and windless; not.

We have the Cat Days, high pressure, but not so hot and always windy, 12 to 18 knots.  Why “Cat Days”?  Have you ever held a cat too long? How do you know it’s too long?  One second they are purring contently in your arms; then the stealthy too long switch clicks on, the nails come out and they use your body to spring away, faster than you can say, “kitty, why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to me put down?”

The Wind is Always Blowing
The Wind is Always Blowing

So why Cat Days, because you get up, go outside to marvel at the beautiful sky, just some wispy cirrus at 30,000 feet, not too cool, not too warm, you think it will be a perfect day for being on the water.

As you get underway, it is perfect.  You have managed to get out of your tight dock space without hitting anything, you call Port Control asking for permission to leave (mandatory in all eastern European ports so far) and they respond in accented English, yes we may, with a tone that says:  thanks for asking and knowing our rules, have a nice day.  A feeling of satisfaction comes over you.

It’s mid-morning, you want to make 40 miles, and winds are less than 10 knots, with little 1 foot waves.  The Kadey Krogen is slicing thru the water with that reassuring hiss that tells you all is well and this is child’s play.

Sunset in Finland
Sunset in Finland
The Cat Building of Riga
Speaking of Cats; The Cat Building of Riga

An hour or two later, not quite halfway, you’re feeling a bit off; not queasy, just not right.  You realize the winds are up to 15 knots, the seas have now built to 3 feet and you’ve lost a knot of speed as the combination of wind and waves slows the boat.

Paravanes out to reduce the roll, immediately, the roll is reduced 50 to 90% depending upon wind direction (less for a following sea, more for a sea on the beam).

Now you look at the speed and see that your speed is further reduced, the birds on the paravanes reduce our speed by 0.6 knots.

Umm, our 6 hour trip has become an 8 hour trip.  I contemplate increasing power to make up for the loss, but it just kills me to burn 50% more fuel to go an extra knot faster.

8 hours it is.

Today, since Tallinn, we are travelling with our new found sailboat friends, John and Jenny.  It’s nice to have thinking partners in new waters like this.  But they stay safely behind us.  What do they know that we don’t?

By early evening, our first time in Finland, we found a sheltered spot with no houses in sight, one of the criteria for anchoring in Finland.  The problem is, there are billions of islands and many times, it is unclear if there are any houses until the last moment, which means we must then turn around and keep looking.

The cove we find is OK, but we decide to try to find a more sheltered cove for the next day.

We use a stern anchor with 150 ft. of rode out.  I then slowly motor up to the cove, until our bow just barely kisses the rocks.  Some intrepid person must then jump on to the rock or land, and we take a line to a tree and return it to the boat, so that we do not have to get on land again when we depart.

So the next day, our first full day in Finland, we are scoping out a place to stop with simple criteria in mind: a house should not be in sight, especially an occupied house and it has to be on a lee shore.

Since there are millions of islands, there is a lot of choice, clearly too much choice for some simple folk like Julie and I.

Mid-afternoon, we are slowly motoring, looking for a place for the night, I see on both my Navionics and C-Map charts the cross signifying a rock dead ahead, about a half mile ahead, 2 minutes at 4 knots.

I’m steering and I say to Julie, we must watch out for that rock.

Julie sees that point I am talking about and acknowledges it.

We both promptly then forget about it, as we go back to trying to figure out where we can stop.

Until two minutes later, with a large bump, dauntless’ bow rises out of the water like Moby Dick.

We had been going slowly because there are so many obstacles, so dauntless stops as soon as I put her in neutral in about 20 feet, with the weight of the boat on the keel on the rock.

I put her in reverse and we slide right off.  I spend the next hour trying to feel any change of vibrations and berating myself for seeing a rock, plainly and correctly marked on the chart and then hitting said rock.  No vibration, no holes in the boat.  Could have been worse. Far worse.

Julie summed it up best:  Richard Sees the Rock; Julie Sees the Rock; We Talk About the Rock; We Hit the Rock.

My first mistake, was that I could have altered course a bit, but instead I tell Julie, make sure I don’t hit that rock.

My second mistake was to then totally forget about the rock.

In hindsight, knowing we were in rocky waters, I was going just above idle speed, about 4 knots, maybe a bit less.

This enabled me to get the boat stopped quickly, so I did not run over the rudder or propeller.

That was about the only thing I did correctly.

When I first saw the rock, I should have altered course so that in the “unlikely” event that I somehow forgot about it, I would not be heading directly for it.

So an hour later, as we had our dinner, we celebrated another day that ended well.

And I vowed to never do that again.

But as Sean Connery learned, never say never.

And my “never” didn’t even last 24 hours!

Former Mined Area 151

Has a catchy ring to it, doesn’t it?  If there are no more mines left, I wonder why they annotate it on the chart.  Maybe just in case?

In any case we decide to go right through; what’s the worst that could happen?

It seems the Russians mined large swaths of the Baltic and what wasn’t mined was closely watched; well, as closely watched as can be with conscripted soldiers living on vodka and potatoes.

But all good things must come to an end and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the Baltic Republics were allowed to have their own destiny again and the rest of us can now enjoy that benefit.

Sadly, we did not go to Lithuania as it required a large detour around a current mine field.  Well, it isn’t listed on the charts as a mine field, but then I doubt the hundreds of mine fields presently annotated were so listed prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Oh yes, after the Russians moved Poland west by a few hundred kilometers, they took a chunk for themselves, Königsberg, threw all the Germans out, the lucky ones that is, and renamed it Kaliningrad, because the name Stalingrad was already taken.

So, during the last two weeks, we have been exploring country never before visited by me at least.  First Poland and now Latvia, Letland in Dutch, Land of the Lets.

Poland and now Latvia have been a wonderful experience, the people, the food, and the warmth showed to us by virtually everyone.  Dauntless probably had her picture taken a thousand times in Gdansk.  I wish she looked better, Dauntless I’m referring to, not Gdansk, but we’ve already travelled more than 2,000 miles since leaving Ireland, so who has the energy to wash and wax?

I did regret not speaking Polish.  Had we stayed another week, we would have probably gone viral.  People would ask how long we are staying docked against the wall in downtown Gdansk, because they wanted to bring the family for a photo session the next time.

Wonderful people who also make the most wondrous smoked meats and fishes.

Then Latvia.

Compared to Western Europe, the prices is Poland, not in the Euro zone and still using the Zloty, were good, maybe 30% cheaper than in Germany.

Latvia on the other hand is in the Euro zone and prices are still amazingly low.  So low in fact, that we felt compelled to find out why.

In talking with the marina “bosman,”  in Liepaja, he explained that Latvia prepared for the change to the Euro in a very methodical manner.  They used strict conversion tables, unlike in most places, like Italy, which saw a doubling of many prices within the first year of conversion, but no doubling of wages, pensions and salaries.

Dauntless in Liepaja docked in front of a warship
Dauntless in Liepaja docked in front of a warship

We ended up spending only two nights.  Having seen the outdoor and indoor market in the small city of Liepaja, the market in the capital, Riga, was literally 10 times the size.  We have never seen so many berries, blue, black, red, etc. in my life.  Clearly, people would buy large quantiles to preserve for the coming winter.

The harbor itself was a mix of old and new, with modern bridges, next to Soviet style cranes and trains. I’ll try to upload some pictures.

Today, our adventure in Estonia begins.  We had a windy passage yesterday and it looks like the wind will continue for the foreseeable future, maybe forever.

Dauntless is doing well, though I was a bit shocked last night as I gazed at all the scrapes, scratches and gouges I’ve put on her hull in the last two months.

Liepaja
Liepaja

I’ve also used far more fuel than anticipated, 50% more.  The actual fuel consumption has been good, the problem is the distances I had calculated.  It’s been 60 days since leaving Ireland.  What I had not anticipated was that so many harbors and docking places would take a significant amount of time, 30 minutes to an hour to get in and then the same going out.

Therefore, 25 to 30 stops times 2 extra hours for each, is 60 additional hours of fuel consumption, about 90 gallons, at 1.4 gal.hr, which is our average so far in 415 hours so far.

A shot from the pilot house during the 32 hour passage from Liepaja to Riga
A shot from the pilot house during the 32 hour passage from Liepaja to Riga

Coming up, Estonia, Estland in Dutch, land in the east.

Night Passage to Riga
Night Passage to Riga

 

 

 

And We Never Spoke of it Again

wpid-20150711_220602.jpg
The Tower in Ueckermünde

Just when you thought it safe to reenter the water…

Waking up in the now Polish town of Swinoujscie, I had two problems to solve; one more vexing than the other.

But first, let’s talk about Swinoujscie, gateway to the Baltic and until 1945, a German city, aka Swinemünde.  With the looks of an old German town, it boasts a certain charm, with a few modern touches.  One of those being an almost identical fountain in the main square to that of the Brooklyn Museum, that I had mentioned in a previous post, you know, the one that started out much like this one in  Swinoujscie, until the lawyers got involved.

So Swinoujscie, aka Swinemünde, became one of thousands of cities and towns in which whole populations were uprooted and “moved” at the war’s end.  Why because Stalin wanted half of Poland and therefore Poland moved west, but never fear, the western powers and the press don’t talk about it, better to tut tut about displaced people in third world countries, than issues they created themselves.

So on that note, let’s get back to our story.

As you recall from our previous episode, Dauntless limped into Swinoujscie, with her tail between her legs, well maybe not a tail, but a thin line that had wrapped around my bow thruster.

But I was determined to at least fix the autopilot.

If you have read our Atlantic Passage, you may remember that the autopilot was one of the most critical pieces on the boat and I had absolutely no spare anything’s for it.

Having Eve and Nigel onboard, did mitigate the loss, but even with three people, hand steering a power boat for long stretches of time is both boring and fatiguing.

Assuming there is no such thing as coincidences when it comes to mechanical problems, in other words, you change, add, replace any part of a particular system, and then that system craps out on you, there is about a 99.9% chance you whatever you did caused the problem.

So, I got out our hydraulic fluid and the handy fitting for the upper helm station and proceeded to run the system and turning the wheel to get the air out.

But little air came out.

At this point, I figured I better get serious, I got the ComNav book.

In the book I discovered a self-diagnostic the ComNav can run.  I ran it and got the ominous response “hard right rudder too slow”.

I could not find the bleed screws that were supposed to be on the hydraulic ram.  But I did not want to screw with the ram in any case, since it worked fine; it was the autopilot part that was not working.

I ran the self-test again.  Same result.

I went down into the engine room to look once again at the ComNav pump.  Maybe I could bleed it there. No, no fittings I could see for easy bleeding.

I took a picture of the pump, maybe the writing will give me a clue or I can better see bleeding screw fittings.  Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Run the self-test again.  No change, but I realize that while I can turn the wheel and the rudder responds as it should, in fact better than before with no groaning while turning it quickly, meaning I had gotten what little air there was out of the system, when I used the auto pilot control head to turn the rudder, it barely moved the rudder to the left (port).

Clearly the auto pilot was the issue, not the hydraulic steering itself.

I looked at the autopilot’s control panel.  A lot of green lights. So at least electronically, the autopilot thinks all is OK.

Back to the engine room to look at that pump again.  I crawl over to it.  I read both sets of labels on the pump.  One reads, “to remove the pump without losing fluid, close the thumb valves”

What thumb valves?  Those brass “T” handles that I occasionally play with, wondering what they do?  The ones that I had decided should be tighter, but not too tight the other day, while I was changing the main engine oil and in a moment of “let’s turn this and see what happens” madness??

I noticed the one on the left side was tight, the other two, one on top and one on the right, were close to being closed, but not tight.

Umm, could these be the valves that are to close when removing the pump?  And if so, should not they be OPEN now?

I have Eve use the autopilot control head to move the rudder, it now moves, not quickly, but better than before.  I open all three and she tries again.  Much better, almost like it’s supposed to.

We run the self-test again.  This time, rudder movement is normal.

I had changed the oil on the main engine a few days earlier.  So I was working at the back of the engine and it my spare time I was fiddling with those three T valves.  Sort of aimlessly fiddling.

So it seems my fiddling closed at least one valve and we had a few days of indifferent autopilot response, culminating in it not working at all.

The Innocent Victim
The Innocent Victim

Now all is fine. No air, valves open and the autopilot has worked better than ever.

When people ask me about crossing the Atlantic and why I like Kadey Krogen yachts, I say that quite simply I have never had a problem with the boat that was not caused my operator error.

We just passed 4000 engine hours.  That’s 2300 hours we have put on the boat in the last 28 months.

I’ve put 300+ hours since leaving Waterford two months again.

I have also been breaking down the cost of this trip during the last few days.  That will be the subject of a later post.

We love Dauntless because she never lets us down.  Now if only I could find a way to control that nut behind the wheel.

And we shall never talk of it again.

Coming up,

Leba, Gdansk and leaving Poland for the lands to the east

 

 

Germany, A Few Thoughts and Bugaboos Too

Yesterday, we arrived at the harbor of Stralsund at 23:15.  Jeremy from the Cruising Association was ready, waving a flashlight so I knew where to go and I cannot tell you how relieved I was having that last uncertainty removed.

Ruden the little Island North of Peenemunde
Ruden the little Island North of Peenemunde

We had D tied up and engine off in 10 minutes, surely a record.

Saturday started in a frustrating fashion and ended the same way.

I use my Kindle for most books and I use the Kindle app on my phone for magazines and newspapers.  The app works better because it’s in color and the newspaper I read, the Wall Street Journal is formatted far better for that medium.

Why do I like the WSJ?

As I moved around the world, the WSJ was the one paper that one could get consistently and I liked the mix of world, US and business news.  Since I’ve gotten it on my Kindle, I like it even more since the version I get is for NY and has stories of the NY sports teams.

During this past year, I have come to realize that after a long day or before a long day starts, I really like having my cup of coffee and the newspaper. On reflection, I realize that while Dauntless is my main job now, almost as important, is reading the newspaper in the morning.

I grew up that way and since my first job was delivering newspapers, a job that was setup by the upstairs neighbors who wanted the four morning newspapers and therefore found another half dozen customers for me to make it worth the while of a 10 year old. So, I had the paper every morning to read before school.  As I got older, work and organizing my day mentally took precedence.

But now on Dauntless, I find a satisfaction on sitting down in the morning with the paper and my coffee that can hardly be described.

With my Samsung Note I can take it with me anywhere has been great.  I’ve even gotten used to the fact that it is not available until just before 8:00 Ireland time; which means an hour later on the continent.

OK, fine.  But since I have been in Germany, my internet connections seem to have vanished. Last week I was in a particular foul mood all day, just because I could not get the day’s paper.  Now Amazon certainly has its issues.  About once a month, the kindle has a hissy fit and tells me something stupid like all of a sudden I have too many devices or there is no new paper today.

Peenemunde Brochure
Peenemunde Brochure

If you email Amazon support, they now give you the boilerplate answer:  cut off your pinky, use the blood to wipe the screen, say praise be to whatever god your believe in or not, and that should do it.

Well, not exactly, but it’s usually just as bad, erase everything on your phone, reinstall everything and it will work. Sometimes.

Yeah, I don’t do that either.  Strangely most of the time, within a few hours it starts working again.

OK, but now, it’s not Amazon.  It’s the many places that say they have Wi-Fi, but really don’t.  And that now includes the Telco’s.

So no paper, email for days.  I didn’t miss it crossing the Atlantic, but now people think when I don’t respond to their email I’m ignoring them.  Worse, Gmail manages to send some stuff, but other stuff sits for days in the Que.

So this weekend ended on a sour note for me.  No paper, made worse because it took me a day to figure out the WSJ had not published on Saturday, the 4th.

Then Monday dawned bright and first thing it was back to the O2 store that sold me a data only SIM on Saturday to find out why I still had no Internet.  Now, I had returned to the store Saturday afternoon, just before closing to ask why it was still not working and the response was many people are having the same problem.  That was confirmed by my German friends who had checked online for me.

OK, so off I was to the O2 store for a resolution one way or another.

But this time, when I inquired why still no joy, I asked the question, that I should have asked on Saturday, but naively didn’t, assuming I would be told the whole story from the beginning.

But I had forgotten I was in the former DDR.  Germans are a bit reserved, at least compared to Italians or Irish, but the denizens of the former DDR are even more reserved.  With extra information, words, even necessary information, comes the risk of saying the wrong words to the wrong people.  Living for three generations, 60 years, under the watchful eye of the Gestapo/Stasi will do that to you.

So I was understanding; I smiled and did not say what I was thinking as he finally told me I needed an APN (an internet protocol).  In Italy, and with Verizon, the phone needs an APN, but is not needed in the Netherlands, or Ireland.  But, behind my tolerant smile, you know, the kind you give your puppy after he eats your favorite shoe, I wondered how he could have neglected to mention this after I returned to tell him it still wasn’t working?

But little did I realize how my mettle would be tested just 36 hours later locked in an old watchtower on Ruden.

 

 

 

Deutschland

Well my faith has been renewed in the human race or at least my decision making whichever is lessor.

Dauntless in Cuxhaven
Dauntless in Cuxhaven

We had an uneventful night passage from Lauwersoog in Friesland, the Netherlands to Cuxhaven Germany.

Unlike the English Channel, which really whipped my ass, the currents north of the Frisian Islands were as advertised; we got a good boost for about half the time. This allowed me to keep the rpm’s low, 1400 pretty much the entire way, and thus fuel consumption low.

With the help of the current we still averaged 6.0 knots, and that is in spite of the outgoing ebb coming up the Elbe, which kept our speed between 2.5 to 3.5 knots for last three hours.

Ivan and Bas had watches of 4 hours on, 4 off, and I pretty much dozed in the pilot house bench ready at a moment’s notice to further confuse any issue that came up with my groggy head.

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When we left Lauwersoog Sunday morning, the winds we SW at 12 knots and pretty much stayed like that for our entire trip.  The day became grayer, as the clouds increased during the afternoon and evening, leaving us in that murky grey world.  Winds became southeasterly as a minor trough moved past us, and then stayed that way, so as we started up the Elbe estuary, the current was running with the winds, keeping the waves pretty flat.

Sunrise on the Elbe
Sunrise on the Elbe

Remembering the debacle that could have been in Oostende, Sunday afternoon, a few hours after departure, I looked hard at the numbers and realized that even with the helping current, our best ETA would be 03:00.  Being further north, and June, nautical twilight would be about that time, but still too O’dark thirty for me.  So we slowed even further, timing our arrival after sunrise.

Turned out a much more open, straight forward harbor than Oostende, but I was still pleased with the decision.

I am also getting excited about the Baltic.

Poor Dauntless looks like she has been through a battle, as she shows the battle damage of the over 30 locks and bridges we had to tie up to. Doesn’t sound like a lot compared to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), but what is different is that one must tie to something, as the wait times for bridges that “open on demand” vary greatly and the “open on demand” in the Netherlands means, if you are waiting in front of the bridge, they will see you and at that point put you on the priority list, but every train, bus, bicycle and pedestrian has a higher priority and probably a few planes also.  But the real issue in the waiting is the tieing up to all sorts of things at all sorts of heights and materials.

It was frustrating two days until Marinius, explained these facts of life to me during the European Krogen Rendezvous 2015.  What you didn’t hear about the rendezvous?  That story is still in the making.

Anyway, all this results in the poor D refuses to have any close-ups made.  So pictures shall have to be from a discreet distance. I shall have to find a real gel coat master at some point.  And please do not tell me how easy it is and that I should do it myself.  I once painted a set of chairs; at the divorce, my wife reminded me of the drips I left.  How was I to know I needed to thin the paint!

Last night, I finally decided to re-read the Baltic material I had collected from the Cruising Association meeting we had attended in London in February.  Having that information reduced the anxiety I was feeling about the Nord-Ostsee Kanal (Kiel Canal).

So tomorrow we leave, three hours before high tide, go to Brunsbuttel and wait.  They too have a priority order.  We are on the sub-order list.  Yes, Russian submarines even have a higher priority, but then the Germans will pretend they did not see them as they do not want to provoke them.

Back to the topic on hand.

I also realize that as different as many of these places are from the sea, I have spent so many hours driving around Western Europe and Germany and the Netherlands in particular, that I’m ready for new places, faces and cases.

If you wonder what a new case is, so do I, but I needed a word that rhymed.

Yes, that is my biggest worry right now!

How Big is Your Anchor?
How Big is Your Anchor?

 

 

Travelers & Just Say Yes

We are in Lemmer this morning.  A town on the Ijsselmeer in the beginning of Friesland, which has a really Dutch flavor.

Dauntless in Lemmer, Friesland on the Ijsselmeer
Dauntless in Lemmer, Friesland on the Ijsselmeer

We’ve decided to stay here two nights, and will even move the boat into the inner harbor.

I like showing our colors.  The liberalism of my youth was quickly extinguished once I moved to Europe and saw that Europeans, instead of feeling oppressed by the imperialistic Americans, were actually grateful for the security America provided.

My visits to Eastern Europe, just confirmed that and the fact that virtually all the eastern European countries are now in NATO, attests to that fact.

So, I’m proud to fly the Stars and Stripes.  I’m proud Dauntless came across the ocean on her own bottom and I’m happy that Julie and I like travelling so much.

Our first date was just that.  We took a bus ride from the bottom of Manhattan to the top and returned on a different bus.  An activity I had done countless times growing up in NY and now I had a partner to join me.

Lemmer Fisherman
Lemmer Fiskerman

Our first big trip, driving across the country in a Dodge Neon to Seattle, San Francisco and back took 6 weeks, 10,000 miles and billions of hours of conversation.  We had brought many hours of tapes with us and we ended up listening to only about a half dozen hours of them.

We do like talking.

Back to Italy in the 1970’s, when my Italian girlfriend accused me of being a gypsy, even though I do not think it was said as a compliment, it was hard to disagree.  The real Gypsies, Roma or Travelers, did not seem to live such a bad life to me.  Travelling around in their caravans (campers), pulled by older Mercedes didn’t seem any worse a life than what the rest of us were living.

Burt facts are facts and in the 40 years I have known her, the Italian ex-gf, she has lived in three places and I have lived in 30. So there is no denying the data.

This morning as I sat in the bakery enjoying my appelflap, an apple turnover, and my little coffee, I thought about this whole travelling thing.  The crux of it is that traveling is easy for us because we can accept uncertainty.

The person in the bakery was speaking Dutch to me, she asked me if I want the coffee for here and I said yes.  Then she said a word I did not understand, ‘berief” or “bericht,” or something like that.

I instinctively said, yes.

The coffee ended up coming in a littler cup than usual for the Dutch, but it was perfect.

Lemmer
Lemmer

And that is the lesson I first learned way back in the ‘70’s in Europe, when faced with questions and languages you do not understand, you must put yourself in the hands of the host.  Invariably hosts want to do the right thing and it will turn out well.

I’ve been with people who insist on knowing exactly what they will be doing, eating, etc.  The problem with that is that they then end up only eating, drinking and doing the things they are familiar with. What the point of that?

These types of interactions have characterized my life in the last 50 years.  I am instinctually trusting. By being trusting, it also gives one the opportunity to learn.  Oh trusting has hurt a few times, but never in this context.

So, I’m doing something I am good at, like doing, learning and is

Lemmer Streets, the Dutch like bricks
Lemmer Streets, the Dutch like bricks

interesting and challenging.

Life couldn’t be much better.

 

A Stressful Extraction

Our Gelderland experience is coming to the, we left Arnhem this morning to head north along the Ijssel river.

I’m still feeling a bit under the weather and am now thinking maybe it’s related to walking into the pole on Friday.  But we need not go there.

Docked at Watersport Centrum in Arnhem
Docked at Watersport Centrum in Arnhem

This morning, I paid Robert, the owner of Watersport Centrum Arnhem, and I explained to him how I wanted to get out of our tight space. By the way, it’s really not a Watersport Centrum, but it is a great boat yard, popular because they let you work on your own boat and a large, well-stocked marine store.

Tied to the dock on our port side, stern towards the exit, with about 50 feet, 15 meters to a large Hatteras docked on the opposite side, I decided to throw a line to someone on the Hatteras and have them pull the stern out.

At the same time, I had a bow line coming from the starboard bow cleat, around a midships cleat on the dock and back to the boat near the pilot house door. Ivan held this light taught, not letting the bow get very far from the dock.

Bas, the son of our Dutch friends, Margriet and Sierd, had joined Ivan and I yesterday.  He will be with us until the end of the month.  He will be with us for the Friesland part of our journey, made a bit more personal as that is where his father grew up.  The Fries language spoken in Friesland is also the closest relative to English.  An English speaker will recognize about half the words.

Bas was at the stern and kept me informed of how much space we had left.  As the boat became perpendicular to the dock, I then used the bow thruster to about 45° at which point could use the main engine with full left rudder to complete the U turn.

The closest we got to the Hatteras was 1.5 meters, a little less than 5 feet.

Bas and Ivan did an outstanding job and I’m sure we will have a great time together.

Unexpected Noise is Never Good

I am striving to post twice a week.  Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less, but at a minimum I like to have a post out by Saturday morning.  I didn’t make it this week, because I’ve been sick with the flu or something these past few days, having absolutely no energy to do anything.

It’s even one of the reasons we are still sitting in Arnhem today, Monday.

Dauntless in Arnhem
Dauntless in Arnhem

Nijmegen and Arnhem are special places for me.  My ex-wife Leonie is from Nijmegen and her sisters have lived in Arnhem the past 30 years, so it’s like coming home.

So in spite of my feeling not the best, it was great to have people over every evening for dinner, since Wednesday, to see the D, aka Dauntless.  Dauntless does appear to have gotten bigger in Europe, either that or all the docks and marinas are smaller.

So after entertaining the Vinks all weekend, I awoke this morning, with a goal to sit in my chair and do nothing.  Doing nothing is really hard for me.  That Corona ad, where the guy goes to the beach and sits with his beer watching the sunset, looks like torture to me.

So this morning, I figured, maybe I would sit in my chair in the salon and organize the two large bins I have of stuff that keeps growing, yet seems unclassifiable, so I can’t put it where it belongs.  Maybe I’ll just store it and let Leonie sort it when she and her husband Martin come out in August.

Dauntless in Nijmegen
Dauntless in Nijmegen

Speaking of Martin, Dauntless has three battery chargers.  A Heart Inverter/Charger, A Neumar True Charge and another one with a yellow case.

The Neumar is the only one that can take shore power here at 230 volts and charge the batteries.  Of course when I spent that week in Horta, we were hooked up to shore power and I tried to get it to work and for the life of me, it seemed dead.  Would not even work with the generator, the way it used to.  In the Azores, I was also delayed in fixing it in that I could not find that female plug that is ubiquitous in the US for computer power supplies.

I had removed the cover that says, so not remove under pain of death, and even checked the fuses and everything else I could find.  Neumar sent me the wiring diagram and offered to send another selector switch.  This while helpful, ended up misleading me.

Even after I came back from the US in the fall, I had a cable and plug, I had labeled it all, ground, neutral and load.  Blah, blah, blah.  NO luck.

But with the solar panels and not really needing much 12 v power form the batteries while at the dock, it got put to the back burner.

So finally yesterday, while I am burning our dinner on the bbq, Martin seemed fascinated with this Charger, so not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got him the electrical meter and found a plug we could use for the 230 system.

Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand
Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand

He gets it all wired up again and plugs it in.  I said this is how far I got, but once plugged in, I never saw any power past the plug pins.  He plugs it in and within a minute it starts working!

Frankly, I was as flabbergasted as I was grateful.  One less thing to worry about.

B y the time I finished washing up, I was exhausted, so I got to bed early, feeling not so good, slept on and off until 09:30 and frankly did not feel that much better, thus the decision to do nothing.

So I’m looking at the Victron battery monitor and see a draw of 7 amps.  Other than a phone charger plugged into a cigarette lighter outlet, there is nothing else on.  I take the flashlight to check the charger, and sure enough, it is not working, but then I knew that, otherwise I would not have seen the negative 7 amps (yesterday when working it was putting 20 amps into the batteries).

The back of Willie
The back of Willie

I check the fuel levels to write in the log and then I hear it. A slight whine.  But I can’t place it. It’s not the fuel polisher, which is much nosier.

It seems to be coming from the rear section of the engine room, near the charger.

I open the salon deck panel and look down into the bilge and see a foot of water flowing rapidly, almost like a garden hose full open.

My initial panic, within seconds gives way to measured panic.  At least the bilge pump is just keeping up with it as in the little time I’ve been watching it, it has not gotten higher.  But this also explains why the batteries were down 220 amps this morning.  That poor little pump had been keeping us afloat all night.

Of course, this was one of the topics of conversation over the weekend.  I explained that while Waterford is a great place to leave the Krogen, once I’m gone for two weeks, I start getting antsy and must return within three weeks.  And I gave the example of a thru hull failure that lets a lot of water into the boat that the two pumps can keep up with only so long as there is battery power.  So even though I have friends in Waterford who keep an eye on Dauntless, they could go by every day and see nothing out of place, then all of a sudden, the batteries finally go flat and D sinks.

So all of this is going on in my mind in the first minute.

I see all this water rushing around, but where is it coming from?  I turn off the generator thru hull, because it’s right there and I figure I ran the generator for the first time since October last evening and this started last evening, so maybe they are related.

No change in flow.

Look under the engine, see nothing, but close the main engine thru hull. No change.

I look all over the engine room, the stuffing box had been my first guess, but just it’s steady drip, drip, drip.  I can’t figure out how the water is getting there. So I decide to take the chance and turn off the bilge pump and then I can see where it is coming from.

Turn it off, run over to the hatch look down and it’s the same amount of water, just sitting there sedately.  Not getting deeper; now just calm.

I turn on the pump, the whirlpool starts again, turn it off, it stops.

So, I don’t have a leak, this is the water that has come from the stuffing box in the last 12 hours (I do need to tighten it, I like a drip every minute, now it’s up to every second).

I pull the hose up to get the pump out and the hose comes up without the pump.  That explains that.

Two hours later, I’m sweating like a pig (it must be the flu, the boat is not even warm), but I put a new piece of hose on the pump with a new clamp.  The failure was caused by the old clamp disintegrating.

At 12:30 I am finally able to sit and do nothing.

So I end up spending the next three hours trying to get my wxx3 email with yahoo to work again. It just stopped working last week.

And an hour writing this, it’s 18:30, almost time for bed.’

Another day done just like that.

Oh by the way, remember I said that I initially had the charger problem in Horta last August?

It seems pretty obvious to be now that the reason the charger did not work was that the solar panels put out enough power, the charger would not be able to see the true state of batteries with the solar panels on.  Here in Arnhem yesterday, not only are we much further north, but it was also cloudy.

So I will sleep tonight knowing that I spent countless hours on that charger looking for complicated problems when the simple solution was right in front of me.  All I had to do was turn off the solar panels.

 

 

De Echte Bossche Bollen

If you understand that you can not die and go to heaven until you have had an echte Bossche Bol your life will be quite simple.

De Echte Bossche Bollen
De Echte Bossche Bollen

The following was written Thursday morning.

It’s 08:00, I’m tied to the wachtplaats, waiting dock, for the Henriette Sluis just on the north side of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  We have been here since yesterday at 18:00.  Turned out to be very convenient for some Dutch friends to come visit, as it is right next to the bicycle path, but then most things are in the Netherlands.

Yes, you think to yourself, he is a sly one, thinking we will not notice the use of “the Netherlands” instead of Holland, just because he is now not in the provinces of Zuid Holland or Holland.

Back to the De Echte Bossche Bollen.  So as I sit here, listen to the birds talking, (which they have been doing since 05:00) and savior the exquisite cream, chocolate and pastry of the Bossche Bol, I marvel that is was just last week that I was fighting winds, currents and local harbors in settings that were far from tranquil.

De Echte Bossche Bollen from the Jan de Groot bakery
De Echte Bossche Bollen from the Jan de Groot bakery

As has been said before, the most dangerous part of any ocean passage is entering and leaving port.  This is just my way of saying that if you ever find yourself in Oostende, maybe it’s best to pretend you don’t know me.

But Dauntless can slalom well, even if it’s between moving commercial boats.  And I’m sure their yelling at me was their way to congratulate me on such fancy driving.  Oh those cute Belgies.

Though I got into and out of Vlissingen without incident, a seemingly rare feat this summer so far, and Willemstad was an absolute marvel.  To be tied to a dock, really rafted to a Kadey Krogen 39, in a beautiful quint Dutch town, is a treat beyond words.  Restaurants, cafes, grocery and even a well-stocked marine store, within feet of the boat, make it all worthwhile.

The fact that this docking, with water and power costs only 2 Euros per meter or about $35, is even sweeter.  Docking in northern Europe, except for the U.K., is very reasonable.  For our KK42, the price usually ranges from 1 to 3 Euros per meter, that’s  $12 to $40.  And of course, the free places, which I covet, with only the rumble of the occasional passing barge, like this past night.

So, even at the worst case, if one was to pay $40 per night, every night for a month, that’s only $1200.

The Orange Windmill in Willemstad
The Orange Windmill in Willemstad

And $1200 is hundreds cheaper than our apartment in the Bronx, so one could envision, going from cute town to cute town forever and never seeing the Bronx again.

Our Night at the Waachtplatz
Our Night at the Wachtplaats

Don’t tell Julie.

Yes, it’s hard life, but someone has to do it.

 

 

It’s Dark at Night

Each circle is 30 minutes.
Each circle is 30 minutes.

As I look at the videos I shot with my phone conditions don’t look that bad.  Monday morning unfolded into seas that were still less than 6 feet.

With a “normal” day cruising, we should be in Vlissingen in 12 hours.

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The https://share.delorme.com/dauntless site is pretty nifty.  You can click on each circle and it tells you the time.  I can also see that I made the decision to abort and head for Oostende at 21:20 Monday night.  Only 12 nm away, it still took 4 and half hours to get here.

And those were the must miserable 4 hours.

The winds having built to 25 gusting to 33 knots, had built very steep, choppy waves.  Only 4 to 6 ft. early in the evening, due to the proximity of land, about 10 miles off our starboard beam, the waves were coming from a multitude of directions, having bounced off the close by land.

Pierre-Jean liked hand steering; he really liked the Krogen and I let him for the most part, though as the evening progressed, I preferred being on the ComNav Autopilot because it does really well in the worst conditions.  At a certain point it dawned on me that for PJ, this was a test drive.  He got to drive a Krogen in conditions that 90% will never see.  He was as sick as a dog, but I give him credit, he found a boat far tougher than he was.  He left happy.

Dauntless Docked. There was a Sailboat 10' in Front
Dauntless Docked 3 Days later. There had Been a Sailboat 10′ in Front

Me too.  PJ had left me with a bunch of wonderful French wine.  And if we have one rule on Dauntless it is all sins are forgiven with wine.

With the mixed up seas, Dauntless was being hit by the tops of waves periodically. So I not fixing the two problem areas, the warped pilot house doors needed new thicker gaskets.  The center pilot house window, that flips open, had a rubber flap, to stop water from directly hitting the gasket on the hinge.

I had removed that months ago, with the intent to replace it. I hadn’t.  Why, because I was looking for a white rubber mat, that would fit, be inexpensive and look good.  So periodically, as the pilot house got bath, water would splash down onto the helm.  Only a half a cup at a time, and looking on the bright side, I was happy that the water did not stay in the ceiling, but immediately drained down to the helm!

But still, a half assed oversight on my part.  So the helm was covered in wet towels.

The pilot house doors were another issue.  A lot of water was coming in, maybe a quart at a time.  There were a lot of times.

The Entrance to the Harbor From Shore
The Entrance to the Harbor From Shore. Just to the ld=ft of the tower you can see the two green lights that initially confused me

So for the last few hours that side of the pilot house floor was covered in soaked towels, mats and other materials so the water would not make a waterfall into the salon.

As there was no reason to move around, not so bad of a problem.   But as we were minutes away from the harbor entrance, I got soaked just moving around the pilot house.

Then to add misery to discomfort, I needed the pilot house doors to see what was where and get the lines ready.  So we had a 30 knot wind blowing through the pilot house it was cold, wet wind.  The Krogen has a tendency to stay at whatever the water temperature is. Thus, a 55°F water temperature meant at night the pilot house was about the same.  Add wind and being wet, just set the stage for a true disaster.

OK let’s set the stage.  I’m a mile from the entrance to Oostende harbor.  I see the red and green lights marking the channel, I also see two green lights, on the red side of the channel.  I see numerous Sodium vapor lights and the orange glow they produce.  With all those lights, I see no channel; only darkness and shadow.

But I have no choice.  I am in 20 feet of water, winds are up to 35 knots, waves are crashing into us from all directions, and there are all sorts of sand banks close to shore with all sorts of names, meaning they have a history, i.e. “remember when poor Jacques floundered on the Grote bank?”

The wind is pushing us fiercely to the south, to the right (green in Europe) side of the channel.  I am trying to keep the boat on the red side, but clearly still not seeing the entrance.

TheMarina Entrance
The Marina Entrance

Finally, I trust to the charts, C-Maps by Jeppesen, (did I ever tell you I was a Product Manager at Jeppesen?? you’d think I could get a discount on their charts!), aim for blackness just to the right of the last red marker and as soon as I enter the shadow, I can see the rest of the channel straight ahead and the seas flatten.

But this is big commercial channel.  I need to get the paravanes in.  Pierre-Jean has never done that before, so I must leave him in the pilot house, while I go to the fly bridge and winch them up. It only takes two minutes and I am thankful that all the tweaking I have done on that system works so well.

I race back down, and aim for the right channel which will bring us to one of three marinas in the harbor.

I am cold, wet and miserable.  I’ve gotten only a couple hours sleep in the last 24; but this is where I am pleased with my decisions.

As we motor slowing down the channel, maybe a mile, I am conscious of the wind pushing us along.  I want to reconnoiter the marina, but not get us in a position I cannot get out of.

Sure enough, as we get to the slips, mostly short (30’) finger piers, there are no “T”s and the left side of the marina which has longer docks is filled with small ferries.  I am adept at making the Krogen do a circle in about a 50’ diameter without using the bow thruster.  While docking I turn on the bow thruster, an electric Vetrus, but try not to use it as my experience has been bow thrusters are like banks.  If you need it, it won’t be there.

So on a calm day, no current, bow thrusters work great.  But this is not that kind of day.

The Dutch Boat on the right is tied to the dock right after the slip.  This is where I initally docked and let PJ off. In Hindsight, I too Could have stayed there.,
The Dutch Boat on the right is tied to the dock right after the slip.
This is where I initally docked and let PJ off.
In Hindsight, I too Could have stayed there.,

I decide there is no room here.  Though I keep in the back of my mind the possibility of rafting to one of the ferries.

We then proceed back to the other marinas, right near the entrance to the harbor.  It is a narrow entrance that widens after the opening.

The one long dock is occupied by one of those new plastic, three story, small penis boat. Clearly American, though it says Bikini on the back and flies no flag.

Turns out there was room on the opposite side of the same dock, but that would have meant I had to go around the end of the dock to an uncertain fate and after all I went through I was not about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

So we proceeded towards the third marina and a set of locks, which while closed did have a waiting dock that I could use.  We looked around and did see a spot, along the inner dock, maybe 55’ long, between two sailboats.  It was in cul de sac and just opposite the waiting dock.

We prepared a midships line and I tied to the waiting dock to think about what to do.  The bow is facing the lock and southward, the empty 55’ spot is 100 on our left beam and the wind is coming from the stern at 20 knots.

I figured I could stay at the waiting dock until early morning, but my problem in situations like this, is that I do not sleep, anticipating the knock on the hull telling me in a foreign language that I cannot do whatever I am doing

There was also a seaweed covered wall, 50’ high, but we saw nothing to tie to.

So, I decided the spot between the two boats was feasible.  But with one caveat, Pierre-Jean had to be on the dock.  I would then throw him the midships line we had prepared.  That way, once a line was on the dock, he could control my movement to the sailboat behind.

He was a bit dubious, maybe he thought I was going to leave him, but I liked it and it was the only way I would attempt that spot. (The waiting dock was connected to the other dock, like three sides of a box.

And it was a box I was going into to.

Plan A:

My first attempt was halfhearted.  The boat was facing south, wind from our stern and I thought just maybe if I put her in reverse, I could use the bow thruster to push the bow around 180°.  At about 90°, abeam the dock and piling I had just left, the wind was pushing the boat so hard, this was not going to work in a million years.  I gave it full left rudder, full throttle forward to kick the stern away from the pole and pier. No problem, just a little too close.

Plan B:

Let with wind take me in forward, I’d through the line to PJ, out her in reverse and PJ could pull us into the slip.  With the wind behind us, I was going too fast from the beginning.  When I slowed, I had no way and no control.  I backed up and got out, just narrowly missing that same f…ing pillar.

Plan C:

Just like in NY, I would parallel park.  After all the above shenanigans, this turned out to be easy.

A Diagram of the Three Attempts
A Diagram of the Three Attempts. North is on top, and the wind is from the North

I backed into the box at an angle aiming for the empty spot but wanting to keep the bow close to the sailboat that would end up in front of us.

When I was abeam the stern of the sailboat, I threw PJ the line and he put it on a middle cleat.  I yelled at him to watch the stern and I would watch the bow.  He would control how far back to let the boat go.

Worked as planned as and with less drama than anything else I had attempted that night.

Dauntless on the other hand looked at me when it was all over, yawned and thought, “All in a day’s work”.

And as I thought about it, happy to be lying in my warm bed, with no new scars to deal with, I realized though the worst of it, while I was certainly unhappy; there was no noise from below.  The salon, the staterooms, the engine room, nothing was banging, rolling around or otherwise out of place.  Books stayed on the shelves in all three rooms, and pother than the second monitor in the pilot house that I had to re-secure, everything was battened down.

A great boat is a sea way.

I hung up all the wet things and at 3:00 a.m. took a hot shower, crawled into bed and was ever grateful that I had remember to turn on the 12 v heating pad a few hours earlier.

With that, All’s Well that Ends Well.

 

Food, Fuel and Fools

Having left Honfleur, Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., we are through the lock to the Seine by 9:00 and we are cruising downstream at warp speed, 10 knots, speed over ground.

I’m finally enjoying my cup of coffee and morning croissant, though a faint order of diesel lingers on my hand.

We escaped, unscathed, so a little diesel with my coffee is acceptable.

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Monday Morning Dawns in the English Channel
Monday Morning Dawns in the English Channel

We are feeding off the starboard fuel tank, little used since leaving Ireland.  I want to balance the boat. I am running the fuel polisher, a larger fuel filter and water separator, which filters 90 gallons of fuel per hour.  The only downside to running it while underway is that it does cause a slight reduction of fuel pressure to the engine.  Though this has never been a problem.

As we exit the Seine, the color contrasts are marked. Brown mud color for the Seine outflow and blue-green for ocean water.  We turn northeast, speed slows to just above 5 knots, but the current will change in our favor in the next hour.

A couple hours later, the current is favorable, but not as strong as I had hoped.  At best, we are getting an extra knot.  I decide I better check on the filters in the engine room.

I am surprised to see another 2” of water on the bottom (it’s a glass bowl) of the fuel polisher.  I turn it off and drain the water.  There is also a little water in the primary engine filter (there are two side by side.  I can select either one or the other or both or none).  I switch to the other filter and also drain the primary filter.

Our speed has increased to 8.4 knots. We are north and east of Le Harve and have about 170 nm to go to Vlissingen.  I estimate our ETA of 04:00 Tuesday morning, using an average speed of 6 knots, which I think is on the slow side.

We are starting to roll a bit, only 8°, so we deploy the paravanes.  We lose about 1/3 to ½ knots, but the roll is reduced to less than 2°.

I go check the filters again and now am dismayed to see a lot more water in both the primary engine and the fuel polisher (FP).  In addition, the FP is showing a vacuum of 23”, with 10” being the point I should change it.  It is full of crap and must be changed now. I am worried.  It means there is far more water in that tank than I had expected.   I must change them again, while underway, at least I think that should be no problem.

I switch the Racor to the other filter, and within a minute I hear the engine laboring; then die before I can do anything.  I immediately think back to this morning when I had changed this filter and as I had primed it using the electric fuel pump I installed just for this purpose, I had not let the fuel spray out the top like I normally would to ensure the filter had no air.  Instead, I half assed it not wanting to get more fuel on myself.

Sitting there bobbin in the English Channel was sort of peaceful.  The engine room is almost cozy.  It’s warm, not too hot and very little boat movement is felt.  I think I should one day sleep down there, but won’t due to the little issue of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.  (For that reason one should not cruise with the salon doors open).

OK, I tell Pierre-Jean to turn off the key and thus turnoff the low oil pressure buzzer.  And I take my time changing the two filters and then priming all three again.

A few minutes later, all set, ask him to start the engine, it starts, I turn on the fuel polisher, the engine stops.  Now, Pierre-Jean is starting to show concern in his voice.  What’s happening?

I tell him, don’t worry, be happy, start the engine again.  He does, it does and as I fiddle with the valves, turning off the electric priming pump, I am slow to turn on the gravity feed valve, so the engine dies once more.

A few shenanigans later.  I reset everything, re-prime everything.  Go to start the engine myself, because I know it will need a bit of throttle and it starts, slow at first, but within seconds, back to its normal pitch and ready to go.

While doing all this, I also decided enough of trying to see what is going on with the starboard tank, now; it was a matter of not wanting any more problems with fuel.

I switched back to the port tank, turned on the FP and it ran until docked 36 hours later.  Vacuum never got above 3” no more water was seen in it or the primary engine filter.

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We were back underway.  The only problem with this kind of stuff is the anxiety it causes.  For those next 36 hours, every visit to the engine room was filled with dread.  Would there be water? Would the filter be clogged?  Did I have two tanks with water in them?

As things got ever rougher, every check increased my confidence that at least that problem was solved. That’s a huge relief.

With the paravanes out, we look like really trawler, so for the second time, we got buzzed by a French military plane.  I suppose wanted to make sure we were not trawling for real.

By Sunday evening, at 18:00 the winds were from the NE at 10 knots.  Going into the winds at 10 knots is not a problem, at about 14 to 15 knots it starts to become an issue.  Since one is going into wind driven waves the period of the waves from the boat’s perspective is reduced, causing the boat to pitch up and down more.  This up and down motion, besides being uncomfortable, also greatly reduces the speed of the boat and conversely increases fuel consumption.

Our speed was down to 5 knots, little did I realize that we would never go as fast again.

By midnight, we were down to 1.9 knots. This was partially due to a reduction in rpms because of the oncoming seas, but I made yet another mistake my not think this through.

I had the watch until midnight, and then Pierre-Jean took over until 04:00.  During that time I went to by cabin to try to sleep.  But we were pitching more and more and I found myself bracing by feet against the wall at the foot of our bed every few seconds.  I only got about one hour sleep in the four I was off watch.

As I came back on watch at 04:00 Monday morning, winds were now NE at 15 gusts to 20; seas were only 3’, but right on our bow and very short period.  We were pitching about 3° up and down and the rolling was about 4° to each side.  Speed was up again with the current to 4.5 knots.  But again, I was not understanding that when the current was with us, it would give us a one knot boost for about 4 hours; yet when against us, it would be a negative 4 to 5 knots for 6 hours.

The winds were acting just as forecast three days ago: Less than 12 knots on Sunday, increasing thereafter.

Monday morning, faced with these facts, I should have planned a port for an early afternoon arrival.  Pierre-Jean wanted to press on; but so did I. I simply did not want to deal with another country, Belgium.  Getting to the Netherlands would make my life easier; form a new phone SIM to better rail transportation.  Also, we would be in protected waters so it didn’t matter what the weather did.

All the right reasons for going on, but clearly ignoring the reality.

It had been 24 hours since our departure.  Fuel and fuel filters were now OK. But winds were gusting to 20 kts and I knew it was not going to get better!!!

As I look at my log, even now, I am having a hard time understanding what I was thinking.  The above rationale notwithstanding, by 14:00 our speed was down again to 2.5 knots, the winds were right on our nose at 20 gusts to 25, the seas were now 4 to 6 feet and our pitching and rolling had doubled from earlier in the morning.

Now was the time to bail out and head for a harbor.  We were 12 miles from Calais!  Going at our glacial speed it had been off the starboard quarter for hours.

We didn’t and paid the price for the next twelve hours.

A Picture of The InReach Route. Each circle is half an hour
A Picture of The InReach Route. Each circle is half an hour

 

A reminder, you can see the details of the route and the location of Dauntless at any time for this coming summer cruise anytime at:

https://share.delorme.com/dauntless