The Great Battery Caper

After months of planning, thinking and just plain fretting, the batteries are in and Dauntless is no longer acting like a one legged duck.

Another Gorgeous Sunset
Another Gorgeous Sunset

How do one legged ducks act you wonder? Without the engine running or being plugged into shore power, we had only a few minutes’ worth of electrical power.

Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries
Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries

And I’d go to sleep, not with visions of sugar plum faeries (or better yet, leggy milf’s) dancing in my head, but with pictures of wiring diagrams and this and that.

So, having found replacement batteries in Kilmore Quay’s Kehoe Marine last month, they got four Yuasa Cargo Deep Cycle GM batteries that were of 8-D size, with 230 amp-hours each for me. Weighing in at 55 kg, or 115 lbs. each and delivered to the Kehoe boys at New Ross Boat Yard (yes, of course they are related).

Waiting for high tide, when the dock was only a few feet above the floating pontoon, we got the batteries on to the boat without dropping them into the water.

Then, the hardest part physically, getting the old batteries out.  Perhaps with the knowledge that we could not hurt them, it took us less than an hour to get them out.

I then spent the next few hours re-configuring how the batteries were connected.  I essentially made a positive and negative stud that consolidated the all the connections before they went to the batteries.

My friend Ed had given me a new article about the optimum way to connect multiple batteries that was slightly superior to the way I had the older batteries connected.  I had had 8 new battery cables made, 2 for each battery, each 2.3 meters long (about 7 feet).  This allowed the four batteries to have the exact same length cable to each from the charging source.  By having the same cable lengths, the resistance should be equal and thus each battery should get exactly the same amount of charge.

That took a few hours, with a panicked call to Dave Arnold, the electrical guru (who else would be driving around an all-electric car for the 1980’s!).

His call reaffirmed the use of the existing terminal block and Perko switch that was used to switch the start to the house batteries if needed.

Finally, after 8 hours, I was ready for the new batteries.  I rigged an Amstel line around the hand railing to the pilot house, thus we could lower the batteries into the engine room and the only struggle was to pull them into place while lowering at the same time.

Two hours later, all was in place, hooked up and ready to go.

All the boat grounds go to a common terminal, then one large cable to the boat side of the Victron battery Monitor shunt.  Then one large cable to another terminal post which has all four negative battery cables.

Positives are similar, in that the inverter/charger, the positive from the alternator and the positive from the terminal block (which has a number of inputs from the isolators and thus indirect from the other battery chargers) go to a terminal post, then all 4 battery cables are attached.

In the next days/weeks, as I physically tie the lines and organize a bit more, I will make a new electrical diagram.

Now, according to my calculations, all the rest of the year should be downhill!

 

 

A Man with a Plan

 

The Atlantic Trade Winds
The Atlantic Trade Winds (click on the links below to see the winds move. Click on “Earth” in the lower left corner [of the link, not my picture] to change parameters)
Well any number of plans; the current one, 15 months to Japan, now in the 29th day since its start date.

But like all plans, a plan is good only until first contact with the enemy.  For Dauntless it’s headwinds, or better said, for Richard it’s the hobby horse ride headwinds produce on Dauntless.  The fact that we are consuming half of our fuel, just to go up and down waves, adds to the sick feeling the ride produces.

Yep, it’s a lose, lose, lose situation for all: the timeline, my wallet and my health.

Dauntless in the meantime just motors along, oblivious to my misery.

For my long range planning, other than Jimmy Cornell’s books and pilot charts, on a daily basis I pretty much only look at this: link to current Atlantic map

This shows the current surface winds over the Atlantic.  You can see that draw a line from Gibraltar to the Canaries to Barbados and the trade winds are running strong as they have all winter.  So no problems there.

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The Eastern Pacific showing strong northerly winds from British Columbia to Southern California. Ugh!

(side note, there is simply no point in looking at anything more specific for any period more than two weeks away.  Even when I was waiting to cross the North Sea from Norway to Scotland, a three-day trip, I read the marine forecast, but really only looked at this site to figure out when I would have at least a two-day window, which is what I got)

 Now, this is the problem, this is the Eastern Pacific, link to current western Pacific map

I’ve been looking at this about once a day since fall.  Only in the past month have the northerly winds let up south of Mexico and Central America.

My current 15-month plan would require me to be able to travel north from the Panama Canal to Kodiak Alaska in 170 days or about 35 miles per day.  Doable with favorable winds, but I’ve been watching and the winds are not favorable, not at all.  At this point, at best, I think a quarter of the days would be “good” cruising days and that may be too generous.

The other problem with this current plan is that I would probably be able to rush north out of Central America, but then get stuck in Mexico and the coast of the western U.S. for months on end.  Thus passing by places I would like to spend time only to be stuck in places I don’t.

So, Plan B.

I will add a year to the Cruise Plan, wintering in Southeast Alaska.

Many boaters do it, I know it somewhat, but only from the perspective of the Alaska Marine Highway (Ferry) system.

Thus I can spend more time in Central America at the height of the winter when the northerlies are strongest and I can spend 10 months in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, some of the prettiest cruising areas in the world, full of fjords, whales, birds and bears!

The weather is not that bad and having visited Juneau and Sitka many times back in the 90’s, it will be nice to go back on my own bottom.

 

 

Dauntless Cruise Plan 2016-17 Europe to Asia

Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

So here is the plan.  The first four months show little change, but after I get back from the USA in mid-October it will be a lot of cruising.

Previously I had decided to stay in Europe this coming year, but life happens and circumstances change. Therefore, In November Dauntless and I will start to head west not to return for many years.

The good news is that while it is a lot of miles, over 17,000, those miles are spread over 17 months.  Since almost 10,000 miles are passage miles, in which we do about 150 miles per day, it means that over 300 days of the 500 we only have to average about 35 miles per day.  Much less than last summer.

So, while nothing is in stone, this is the tentative plan and you know me: Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

The dates are somewhat firm in that to get to Korea in the fall of 2017, I must be able to get to Japan in early August, as I want to cross the Bering and North Pacific in July and early August.

This is a plan that is based on the weather, meaning it’s doable with “normal” weather.  But there are a number of things that must happen:

  • Leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean needs to happen by early December.
  • Arriving in Kodiak, Alaska needs to happen by early July 2017.

Now of course, this depends on a few factors besides just the weather.  I could be kidnapped by some Greek and decide to spend a year in Lesbos with the rest of the refugees.  Some other mechanical or personal issue could overtake plans.  But most likely, the weather does not cooperate.  For this plan to work, I must have favorable weather during the winter and spring along the west coast of Central and North America.

If the winds do not cooperate, then we’ll spend the winter and spring in Central America and Mexico, then come up the west coast to B.C. and S.E. Alaska for the summer and winter over in S.E. Alaska, a fantastically beautiful destination all in itself.

This Plan B is not a terrible outcome and I’m sure many will think it should be Plan A, but I’ll let Fate and the wx gods decide.  At best it’s a 50-50 proposition, or maybe better yet, 49-49-02, the 02% being something unforeseen like the Greeks or something.

Want to join me at any part?  I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company.  We will be doing a lot of miles, over 17,000 but who’s counting!  There will be many opportunities in the next 17 months, but the better times (summer vacation) and destinations, (Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Alaska) will fill before the more tedious parts.

Oh, wait, there are no longer any tedious parts.

In any case, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts, no matter how tenuous.

Richard on Dauntless

I expect to be in the place or nearby by the date in the column to the left.

.E.g. I expect to arrive in the Lesser Antilles on 22 December.

25-May-16 Ireland, Feet Wet
02-Jun-16 Scotland
18-Jun-16 Ireland, Waterford
02-Jul-16 Ireland, Waterford
07-Jul-16 France, Brest
05-Aug-16 Spain, San Sabastian
25-Aug-16 Spain, A Coruna
15-Oct-16 Spain, A Coruna
20-Oct-16 Portugal, North
10-Nov-16 Portugal, Algarve
16-Nov-16 Gibralter
22-Nov-16 Morocco (maybe)
28-Nov-16 Canaries
05-Dec-16 Canaries
22-Dec-16 Lesser Antilles
12-Jan-17 Panama Canal
01-Apr-17 Baja Calif
02-May-17 Southern Cal
20-May-17 Pac NW, Seattle
15-Jun-17 SE Alaska
01-Jul-17 Kodiak
08-Jul-17 Dutch Harbor
16-Jul-17 Attu
25-Jul-17 Japan, Hokkaido
21-Sep-17 Japan, South
12-Oct-17 Japan, South
14-Oct-17 Busan, South Korea
01-Nov-17 Yeosu, S. Korea

I’m Excited; Very Excited

Yes, that kind of excitement.

Dauntless is Put in the Shed
Dauntless is Put in the Shed

I’ve been playing with the numbers.

I like numbers:

  • 25 May 2016 to 01 November 2017, 525 days
  • 207 days underway; 17,000+ miles
  • $0.80 per nautical mile & $26 per day for fuel.
  • 4576 gallons of fuel; 17,321 liters
  • 10 oil changes, 145 quarts, 140 liters or 36 gallons of oil,

I like making a plan, executing the plan; sometimes even changing the plan.

Dauntless will have a look befitting her name in just a few weeks.

Then, in the water, fueled up and ready to go.

Friends for the US of A join us for a little jaunt to Scotland mid-May returning to Waterford Ireland in mid-June.

Then around the 4th of July, I’ll say goodbye to all my wonderful Irish friends in Waterford and New Ross.

Dauntless will turn south, putting Ireland behind us heading to France, then northwest Spain and Galicia.  I hope to be in San Sebastian in August, then heading west to A Coruna for September and October.

November will find us heading south, enjoying the fortified wines of Portugal and southern Spain.

Then it will be tackling the Straits of Gibraltar, yes, I have seen the film Das Boot, so I will be prepared.

After checking out the monkeys, we’ll fuel up and really begin an Odyssey.

 

Turning the Page

Tonight I turn the page; ending one long chapter and starting a new one.

Spring Comes to the Bronx as I Leave
Spring Comes to the Bronx as I Leave

Spring in Ireland, getting Dauntless ready and her first significant haul out in the last 3 years and 15,000 miles.  In May, she’ll be back in the water, looking like she’s ready for business.

That business will start in Scotland, doing our last exploration in the “north”, before heading south for the rest of the summer.  We’ll have a few weeks in France in time for Bastille Day.

The rest of the summer and they year will be in Spain, Galicia.  Sometime in the new year, 2017, I’ll head further south along Portugal and the south coasts of the Iberian Peninsula.  This will put D and me in the Mediterranean for the first time ever.

I’ll clearly have a lot of time on my hands.  I will be doing far less cruising then in the past, but it will allow me to enjoy the life in Spain, sometime in Portugal and maybe even a few weeks in Morocco.

Spain is one of the most affordable countries in the E.U. and certainly in the Eurozone.  If I am anyplace, it’s probably the ideal place to be for an extended time.

I hope to be in San Sebastian in August, then heading west during the fall to A Coruna for a couple months and Vigo for a few more.

I’m still planning on leaving Europe in October 2017, which will begin a busy extended cruise westward, not finishing until we cross the North Pacific to Japan and Korea.

Want to join me at any part?  I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company.  This year, summer 2016 through fall 2017, it’s less cruising and more just joining Dauntless and I while we stay in some wonderful town, eat some of the best food in Europe and wash it down with some wonderful wine; all at a cost that will make me never want to leaveJ

The best way to contact me is the email link under “contact”.

 

 

Spain – What’s Not to Like?

Just got back from a quick, one week, reconnoiter of Galicia in northwest Spain.

NW Spain and Northern Portugal Spent the first two nights in Leon; Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland. Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.
NW Spain and Northern Portugal
Spent the first two nights in Leon;
Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland.
Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.

A great week, that just confirms that the Dauntless adventure on the Iberian Peninsula this year and 2017, will be fueled by fantastic food and wine at prices that even a New Yorker would love.

Everything good, nothing bad, don’t even need any of my usual qualifiers. And that includes two run-ins with the police that were so very helpful, not punitive; an example of what every inhabitant of this planet yearns for.

So much was good, people, wine, food, hotels, costs, etc. So here are just the highlights:

  • Leon – City of free tapas. We spent 4 hours going to 7 different places, drinking a total of 8 glasses of wine (each) and eating delicious tapas at each place.  Total cost 30 Euros or $35. Try that in NYC and the bill will be 10 times more, PLUS 20% more for tips.
  • Our favorite place in Leon, Meson Jabugo.
  • Wines & Tapas – I loved:
    • Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas aka Albariño; Ribeiro.
    • My favorite tapa, morcilla, simply because it was so good. In Leon, the cured beef, sliced like the Jamon, was also great.

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      Cathedral in Leon
A Leon Favorite
My Leon Favorite

We went to check out these two towns in particular because they are large, good transportation access and most of all, the marina is within minutes of the town centre:

  • A Coruna – The heart of Galicia. Only slightly more expensive then Leon, but Dauntless can’t get to Leon.  Galicia is Celtic and the similarity is evident in the people.  We took in the military museum after checking out the marina ($300 per month in October).  We had gotten to the museum about 5:15 p.m., 45 minutes before it’s closing.  Virtually empty of visitors, a wonderful.

    Morcilla
    Morcilla, eaten with the bread and wine. All this cost $7
  • Vigo – The largest city in Galicia. Here the cost of the marina for a month for a Dauntless would be around $400, but it’s a year around cost and includes electricity.

Encounters with the police:  EEKwp-1456518551979.jpg

The first time I pulled over
The first time I pulled over
  1. Went to get car upon leaving Leon. We had parked
    Pizza as a tapa and free. Total cost here $3
    Pizza as a tapa and free.
    Total cost here $3
    Going down the pass
    Going down the pass

    just outside of the old center, but evidently, on the wrong street.  My mistake, the hotel staff had told me exactly the area I could park in and this block was one block sooner, but I misinterpreted the parking sign.  Yes, I know, cats speak better Spanish than I.  So, I get to the spot and see no car.  But I do see the spot it was in and as it had just rained, it was clear I had just missed the car disappearing by less than an hour.  Two hours later, after having a great visit with the policemen of the traffic police, we were underway.  Total cost was about $150.  The police were so apologetic from beginning to end.  I was relieved that the car had not been stolen nor damaged and it was clearly my mistake.

    Downhill, the snow is letting up
    Downhill, the snow is letting up
  2. Leaving Leon, we have headed north northwest, over the mountains to the coast of North coast of Spain and the city of Aviles, where I wanted to check out the marina. We took the smaller road N-630) and avoided the autopista.  As we got north, we started climbing into the mountains, the clouds came lower and lower and the light rain turned quickly to snow and then very heavy snow (2-3” per hour).  Our rental car had crappy summer tires, but I do know my snow.  Going ever slower, we made the summit of the pass, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet (1800 m).

I was relieved, as going uphill in always more problematic, so my plan was to wait until a snow plow came by and follow him.

The north coast
The north coast

OK then I discovered that traction was really bad, temperature too close to freezing, so the snow plow track was icy. It was better on an unplowed road. And in fact, I had to get on the shoulder to stop the car.

After waiting a bit, maybe 15 min, it was time to try again we did at a slow speed, but I was in second gear and this let the car get going too fast, maybe 20 mph.

Vigo
Vigo

We come around a curve, and there is a car off the road, with a police car behind him, but a policemen was standing in the middle of the road.

Marina in Vigo
Marina in Vigo

I go to slow and pull left, but any braking action, even with the anti-lock brakes, did not help and I realized that I was close to losing control in this curve.

So first I honked the horn, to warn the policeman standing in the road and then got totally off the brakes to stop the skid and knowing it was the only way to get around the turn.

After those seconds we went around the curve in the outside lane and on the next straightaway, pulled to the shoulder to stop, which we finally did in about 12” of snow.

We bought our food for the flight the next day here
We bought our food for the flight the next day here

We were stopped, but now stuck.  I waited a bit to think about the ills of the world and the errors of my ways.  About 10 minutes later the police came by and I did not know what to expect.  In the US, at best they would give you a lecture, at worst, give you a ticket and tell you the road is closed, so you must stay there for the rest of your life.

Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega) It was different then Leon, but excellent; not too rich.
Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega)
It was different then Leon, but excellent and not too rich. We had hesitated at buying such a big piece ($5), but we gobbled it up and it was sooo good. A wonderful way to end our trip. Every Day was Perfect.

Being in Spain, we got neither.  Instead, probalby grateful that I had not run him down, they were very helpful, he asked me what gear I had been in, I told him second and he said I needed to be in first gear, so the car doesn’t get going so fast (this was a 15 degree down grade).

We thanked him and he was gone.  I tried getting the car out of the ditch and after a bit of thinking, (front wheel drive cars always have better traction in reverse) I got out and we were underway again.

In first gear for a few miles until we were down to about 3,000 feet and the road was not so steep, at which point, all was right with the world again.

I’m really looking forward to being in Spain and Portugal this coming year and into 2017.  I wanted to share the details above because it is indicative of Europe in general and Spain in particular.  In all my years in Europe, I have never been in such friendly countries as Ireland and Spain.  I’m sure the Celtic connection is part of that reason.  I am looking forward to meeting new friends and having new adventures.

The fact that Spain is the most affordable country I have been in Europe in the last 20 years just makes this choice even better.

Anyone who wants to see Europe, but has a limited budget, 2016-17, will be the time to take advantage of Dauntless’ hospitality.  It won’t be until 2019 in South Korea before we experience such inexpensive places again.

The fact that Spain also has some of the absolute best wines and food, just make it ever sweeter.

And here is ashort, cute video of happy kids in A Coruna

 

 

 

 

 

Make the Plan; Do the Plan

51hMc5Dy+SL._SY337_BO1,204,203,200_Yes, that has been me and in spite of my constant kvetching about being bored in NYC, I have spent this time planning.

For me planning is all about developing the main plan, thinking about the plan, thinking of every possible contingency, but understanding that something will happen that I never thought of.

Planning is all about probabilities.  This is probable, but that is still possible. I avoid words like impossible or never.  As Sean Connery said: “Never say Never”

Life itself is all about probabilities.  The basis of Quantum Mechanics is all about probabilities and thus our world is probabilistic.

Certainly passage planning is about probabilities.  One crosses the North Atlantic in high summer, July to mid-August, because the probability of strong storms, with winds greater than 40 knots is the lowest of the year.  The North Pacific is similar, though with lighter winds, but a bigger risk of Typhoons.

First thing I do is check out Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas: Pilot Charts for All Oceans of the World

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0955639654?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

It’s the place to get newly published Pilot Charts with up-to-date reliable statistical meteorological information.

So, I like thinking of possibilities and preparing for those possibilities and then preparing for those things that I did not anticipate.  90% of my planning is done after I have the initial plan.

I hate surprises. I hate surprise parties.  To me, there is no such thing as a good surprise.  Oh, I may “hope” for things to occur:  I hope I win this lottery; I hope this friend calls me, but to be surprised, is to be unprepared.51Bo-TkkL+L._SX349_BO1,204,203,200_

Once again I have been reading Cruising Galicia, published by Imray. A well done book, giving me many ideas. Unlike the past summer, when we had specific places we wanted to see, e.g. Tallinn, Riga, Gdansk, Helsinki, this year and next we will be more flexible.  More willing to go where the wind pushes us and where we like the food, drink & people.

It’s going to be an interesting few years!

 

 

 

 

The Excitement Builds

OK, maybe a bit premature; but I’ve never been accused of being too patient.

Leaving Ireland last May
Leaving Ireland last May

When I get back to Dauntless on the last day of March, my real work will start.

90% of my work is really done in the planning process.  Since the end of last summer’s cruise, I have been thinking of a number of minor modifications that need to be done:

  • The paravanes are number one. While crossing the North Sea, in moderate seas, (6-12’, 2-4m), I finally figured out that the birds were running too shallow, causing them to be inconsistent and significantly reducing their effectiveness.  Instead of just replacing the fixed line with a line 5 feet longer, I will make it so that I would be able to change the running depth of the fish while underway.  Default depth will be about 16 feet, but I will have the ability to let them out as much as another 15 feet, so if the shit hits the fan, they can run at 30 feet (9m).
  • Small electrical things to do, like USB outlets in Pilot house, and two cabins and salon. This will also include charger outlets for my laptop and 12v outlets (So I can turn inverter off at night).
  • Routine filter changes
  • Add a switch panel for fridge/freezer so I can isolate them, without pulling fuses. So the same for the solar panels.

The Dauntless Cruise Plan 2016 is pretty much set.  I’ll make a posting of it in the next weeks.  I’m really looking forward to spending an extended time in France, Spain and Portugal.  The trip to Italy this Christmas just reinforced how much I like the culture of the Mediterranean counties.

Once we leave Ireland sometime in May, the idea of the winter haven, as we have done for the last two years, will be no more.  While we will stop as nature and will takes us for days and even weeks, Dauntless will be heading south and west.

I also hope I can minimize the time alone; it’s simply not fun.

 

 

 

 

Lesson Learned #137

Now, if your first thought is, “I wonder how I missed the first 136 lessons learned?” you wouldn’t be wrong.  While almost all of the posts related to cruising on Dauntless have some lessons learned, I don’t label them as such.

So, as mentioned I have fleshed out a general cruise plan for the coming year and into 2017.  In a nutshell, we’ll be cruising the west coast of Europe from north of Scotland to southwest Spain by year’s end.

Now, every day, without much else to do, I look at the map, longingly; like porn, maps grab your attention and won’t let go.

I imagine sitting in Dauntless on the Algarve or Cadiz next winter.  I know the Med is no fun in the winter.  But the spring? The following summer 2017??  How can I not go check it out?  A few miles here, a few miles there.

Then, the cold hard facts strike home:

  • $1.10 per nautical mile fuel cost crossing the Atlantic
  • $1.34 per nautical mile in fuel cost in Europe this past summer;
  • $4 per nautical mile for all costs.

So this means that while a good rule of thumb is $1 per nm when crossing oceans; this past summer, cruising along the coast, stopping for the night, eating, drinking and general shenanigans cost money on the order of $4 for every nm traveled.

Sure, this coming summer, I will average less than half the miles every month then we did this past summer.  But 30 days on the road is still 30 days on the road.  My travelling less, I save fuel money, but that’s it, at only 33% of total costs.

So that $4 figure, may get as low as $3, but won’t go to $2, let alone $1.

Another issue, we still want to be in the Pacific by January 2018!  That means, being in the Canaries in October 2017.  So, if we are in the south of Spain Jan-Feb 2017 and then maybe go as far as the Balearics in the Spring of 2017, as weather permits, what next?

So I longingly gaze at the charts.  I would love to see the Adriatic and Greece by Kadey Krogen.  I have friends there. How neat would that be!

So Close, Yet So Far. The red track shows the un-doable trip
So Close, Yet So Far.
The red track shows the un-doable trip The Black track is our proposed trip so far.

But the distances!  1,000 miles just to Sicily.  One way. 1300 nm to Greece, 1800 nm to Venice. Now double all those numbers, as we have to return.

And now multiply by $4.  $12,000 to see the Greek Isles; not happening.

Too many miles, too many dollars, too little time.

But the year not spent in Europe, will be a year spent in the Pacific.

New places, new faces and new friends to make.  It’ll be a fun time.