Being back in Waterford is so much like coming home; though I just left home to fly here.
Umm, maybe I have two homes: wherever Dauntless is and wherever Julie is. That’s simple enough!
So I’m back in Waterford to make plans for what needs to be done for winter. Dauntless and I want to be ready to leave Waterford, probably forever, by early April. Seems like months away; it is months away, but everything on a boat takes longer.
So this morning I made my rounds. Also walking in Waterford, being surrounded by friendly, warm people is the perfect antidote for the last day’s fiascos. I have described Irish as like Italians and Spaniards, but they speak English; but have now come to the conclusion that they are on a level all by themselves. Unlike pretty much everyone else in Europe, the Irish never had an empire, not even the inkling of one nor even the desire.
They use more terms of ___ then anyone else and they truly mean it. Need something; everything stops while they try to solve your problem.
And they curse more than New Yorkers also! Not like “F—k you”; but more like the exclamation, “can you believe we had a whole f—king day without rain!” And they drag out the sound so it is more like “foooking”.
At 3:15 p.m. the streets are full of uniformed kids of every age coming from school. It baffles me how Americans, who pride themselves on being egalitarian, can’t see how important uniforms are for kids. Umm, I wonder why those expensive private schools in New York, ($40k per year) make their kids wear uniforms and even limit technology in the classroom. Worst of all, they even make their kids learn the multiplication table. There should be a law against that. But I digress.
I made my little circuit of the town this morning deciding that I was going to make a wholesome dinner today. Yesterday, arriving from New York, I had my coffee in the morning and an ice cream bar, a Magnum Black, for dinner.
I like cooking for guests, but today I had decided I needed real food. So my first stop was the butcher where I got 4 lamb chops and Brussels sprouts. Then, the baker, where I got some crusty Hobbit bread. Then the second baker, the cupcake guy, as I love his apple pies.
I just finished making my coleslaw, No secrets there, real mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of Korean hot pepper paste with vinegar.
And in cruising through the World Wide Web, I found this link about mayonnaise which I thought to the point.
30 September 2015, 13:10 hours, we passed the track off of Dunmore East that we had made leaving Ireland 4 months and 5 days earlier on the 25th of May.
As I motored slowly up the River Suir, it is impossible to describe my feelings. Much like crossing the Atlantic, this was another 4,000 nm, 7,200 km trip milestone completed.
Spread out over four months instead of one, was both a blessing and a curse:
A blessing in that time is spread out, so schedules are more flexible and the scenery is constantly changing, as is the places visited and the foods eaten.
A curse in that it’s almost exclusively coastal travelling and the stress that entails, rocks, narrow channels, and worst of all, expensive marinas.
And much like the Atlantic Passage, coming full circle was a culmination of years of dreaming and planning. As soon as the Atlantic was planned, still years before we actually had a boat, I had moved on to phase two, the first full spring and summer in northern Europe. So of course that meant the Baltic and those lands of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia that were almost totally new to me.
For the most part, if the plan has been well thought out, events unfold as planned. As I look at the Dauntless Cruise Plan that was finalized in April, I pretty much stuck to the plan into September.
Sadly, as I cruised up the Suir, I was occupied with trying to get my cell phone on. It had gone to sleep and never woke up. No sign of life, even when being charged or when I changed its battery.
Today, 48 hours later, I have accepted that its demise is permanent. And sadly today, I just realized that I had not downloaded any pictures since the end of August.
Still of the 600 that were on the phone, I had uploaded a few pictures and videos to WordPress and I have the hundreds of pictures I took with the Samsung K-30, but I like the Note for its ability to take good panorama shots. All of the pictures I post with these blogs came from the Note. That’ll change now.
Now the previous week, I had talked to Johnny, the Waterford City Council guy in charge of the marina and I think a bunch of other things too, to find out where to tie up as the docks were almost full. We had planned that I would call again coming up the river. But now I couldn’t., which always adds to the stress since knowing the spot I was going to is one less thing to worry about.
Spotting an empty spot at the end of one of the three floating docks (pontoons in British English) there was a sign saying it was a private spot, but any port in a storm, is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Also, there are a number of these marked spots on the dock, but they are not necessarily up to date and the owners had moved on long ago. I was in such a spot all last winter.
Thus I took it, got tied up, changed to my street clothes and then the owner of the spot motored on up, with his wife and two daughters.
I went out and apologizing profusely, asked him what I should do, telling him that I had not been able to call Johnny and dreading the response, to move to who knows where?
Instead he was really nice and said no problem at all; he would just raft outside of Dauntless until I found my place. I thought that was particularly gracious since it meant he had to hang around until I got things sorted out.
Just then, I look down the pontoon, and who do I see walking towards us was Johnny, himself. Now, I was surprised, knowing how busy Johnny is, as well as the fact that the marina (dock really) is just a small part of his job, very small.
Turns out while he had not heard from he, he had spotted Dauntless coming up the river on AIS.
What a relief. I did not want to inconvenient my new found friend Danny any more than I already had. Johnny did have a tight spot for me on the inside of the pontoon, one that I had not considered knowing the water was very shallow on the inside, but in this case it was deep enough.
So 15 minutes later, we were retied to the spot we are currently in. Johnny also called the boat owner in my previous spot to confirm they were pulling their boat this coming Saturday, so I could move back there then.
A wonderful welcome back to Waterford. There are simply no more friendly people than the Irish. Virtually every encounter over the last 13 months had been of this sort. Always willing to help, always friendly to all boaters.
Stopping over in Arklow, the evening before illustrates the point:
It’s a small fishing town. Everyone is so nice. We just stopped in Arklow for a few hours to wait on the tide to turn in about 5 hours.
There was a big sailboat tied to the wharf wall, a commercial dock, with large rubber tires and old timber. I told the sailboat skipper I just needed to stop for 5 or 6 hours. So he suggested I raft (tie up to his boat) next to him. As we were tossing lines, a guy came by on Kayak to tell me the hammerhead on the dock in the small inner harbor with fishing boats was open.
So realizing that was better I moved the boat there and after getting tied up, two different guys, working guys, came by to tell me the access code for the gate and we had a discussion about the tides and currents and the best time to leave.
And of course, this dock was free.
One thing you see in Ireland is that they really like everyone on a boat.
You don’t see the class warfare you see in many places. Fisherman always wave and talk with you. When I spent last September rafted to fishing boats in Castletownbere, Dauntless fit right in, in both size and the lines of the boat. (I wrote about this in the post, “Now It’s Miller Time” sometimes we were rafted 4 or 5 deep.
So my welcome home was better than I could have even hoped.
The Krogen Cruisers have their annual rendezvous next week, so of course I am going to that. I like talking to other owners about our boats and its amazing prowess.
So Tomorrow I fly to my real home, but I’ll be back in a couple weeks to sort out what needs to be done this winter.
In the next weeks and months, I will backfill these posts with the events of the summer that I never had time to write about such as: Cruising with Another Krogen in Holland, Estonia, Finland and Sweden and single handing thru Denmark, Norway and Scotland, the Caledonian Canal and of course, Crossing the North Sea.
We took a half hour cruise yesterday, first time Dauntless has moved since my arrival October 1st.
It felt so good to be out on the water, if only on the River Suir, in front of Waterford. As you can see from the pictures of our docking situation, I needed to wait to leave the dock until we had a current against us.
So we untied and left the dock about a half hour before low tide. Did a few figure 8’s, just to test all the systems.
No leaks, no problems, no strange odors or noises.
The Lazarette is empty and clean for the first time thanks to Larry.
The Lexan storm windows are cleaned with new rubber gaskets applied in a far more systematic way then previously, thanks to Karla. I like the insulation they provide in these cool climates.
D is good to go.
Current plans will be to depart Waterford early Saturday morning, as we will be going to a boatyard at New Ross, one hour down river, two hours up another river, for haul out.
Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be ready to
leave Tuesday at latest to begin our summer adventure.
That’s what we’ve been doing all night. Winds have been 20 gusting to 35 since yesterday afternoon. Waterford is in a relatively sheltered spot in Ireland, so I’m guessing the winds are really howling in the north and west.
During the night, it was like I was sleeping in one of those rocking cribs. Really nice; made even nicer knowing I am tied to a dock that isn’t going anywhere. It even made me think about why I don’t miss our beautiful Manhattan apartment with the roof top garden oasis, we built a few years ago. I did the design and found a carpenter to do all the hard work. The apartment is now rented; we may sell it this summer. But lying in bed last night, feeling the rocking motion of the water, brought home to me how close I am to nature here and how comforting that is. So while I miss my NY friends; the apartment Julie and I loved so much for 7 years, less so.
Fundamentally, maybe that’s why in the middle of the Atlantic, thousands of miles from anywhere, we were at peace. In fact, the lure of the blue ocean, to just jump in, was unbelievably strong. Never something to fear, we embraced it. The ocean was also noticeably saltier than near the coast.
Back to now, these winds would have been much more stressful if we were on anchor. I would have gotten only a few hours’ sleep, at most.
The main reason for lack of sleep on anchor is that in spite of the various anchor alarms I use (alarms that use GPS and sound an alarm if we move a specified distance). On numerous occasions, I have convinced myself that we are moving laterally. I don’t think I have ever been right either, but the feeling is so strong, I must get out of bed, and run to the pilot house, prepared to fire up the engine at the first sign of danger. Being in a dark forward cabin is one of the factors that cause this. It has certainly made me even more aware of the dangers of vertigo that pilots face in dark, FIR conditions. And the only cure trusts your instruments and not your brain.
So for the last few hours I have been finishing the pilot house reorganization. 90% of the stuff is put away and I’ve just been doing the odds and ends today. I’m writing this post now, sitting in the salon, because while in the pilot house not long ago, I realized I was getting sea sick!
Yes, tied to a dock, going no place, I was getting sea sick. Maybe I just needed a little water, but that is usually the first sign. 20 minutes later, I’m fine now. I think having my head under the helm station for an inordinate amount of time was the culprit. But we are also bouncing in a non-rhythmic way. Since Dauntless is tied to a floating dock, under such conditions, the lines pull on the dock, resulting in a jarring motion.
I’ll adjust the lines again. I let you know the results.
So far, as I learn something new every day; I’m sure to keep on learning and even on my last day on Earth, I know I’ll learn something new; like how I die!
Having kicked the cans down the road of Greece and the Ukraine, we can now talk about boats again.
So, what have I learned up to now living on Dauntless in Northern Europe:
Waterford has turned out to far exceed my expectations and at this point, it is hard to think that I could find a better place anywhere in Europe for next year. I have 10 minute walk to the bus that whisks me to the airport in Dublin for only 20 Euros. In NYC, it takes 90 minutes to go 12 miles and that includes three train changes, which means many staircases, up and down. (We got a man to the moon 50 years ago, but NYC still cannot keep an escalator running more than a day or two before it breaks down for three months).
The Waterford City Marina, being right downtown, has given me the best of all worlds. On one hand, I am five minutes from downtown and only a 15 min walk to my favorite bakery and butcher. Yet the dock itself is very secure with a gate that is electronically activated, but it also has a chain and lock, making it really secure. The first few times I left Dauntless for any length of time, I was really nervous, but now only a little bit.
The people in Ireland are very nice, like Midwesterners, but with a NY attitude, meaning they are loud, talk fast and curse a lot, and really nice in doing it and helpful all the time.
Having Julie in NY, Dublin is only a 6 hour plane ride away and the tickets are about 60% of the cost of flying to the continent. So it’s terribly convenient and already, while I like exploring new places, for our next and last winter in Europe, I will be hard pressed to find someplace that has all that Waterford and Ireland offer.
I’m fluent in the language, for the most part. There have been a few times, that not understanding something and having them repeat it three times, I am still clueless and just hope for the best at that point. The first time this happened, one of the passengers on the bus could tell that I did not understand and explained in words I could understand.
I haven’t gotten run over yet crossing the street, only because I look in both directions three, that’s 3 times, before I step off the curb. And every time I do, I think of all of those who thought crossing the Atlantic was dangerous. I’m far more likely to die crossing the street here.
The Lexan storm windows that Julie, Richard and I made and installed in the last days and hours in Rhode Island, have really made a difference. While on the ocean they gave us peace of mind, since I have been here, I am so pleased that they really insulate the boat. Dauntless is far warmer, having the double pane up. In addition, I so not have any condensation problems, as the glass windows stay just warm enough. Two of the storm windows in the pilot house are 4 inches short, and it that one spot, I do get some condensation on really cold days. Well, I did, but have not seen any in two months.
Even without the Wallas heater, this Krogen stays warm and dry. I have been using a little 2000 watt electric heater when I am on the boat. But I have been so pleased that I do not have the dampness and condensation problems I have read about by many who live on their boats in the winter.
I have like 10 lines on the boat, all 5/8” thick. The Fastnet boat docked behind me, a steel boat used to ferry crew to the oil platforms, about the same size as Dauntless, has 4 lines, and they are not even ½”, probably 3/8”.
I suppose that’s the difference between docking a boat that is also our home and a work boat.
Currently Dauntless is wintering over in Waterford, Ireland, a wonderful town in the southeast of the country, full of really nice, interesting, outgoing people. Ireland has so exceeded my expectations, it will be hard not to return next winter, but we have six months of exploring and cruising before that decision must be made.
As of now, I am subject to the 90 days out of 180 days Schengen Visa requirements. Worst case, this means I can only be in the Schengen area for 90 days and I would then plan those 90 days to be 1 June to 1 Sept. There is a possibility that the Schengen area countries will offer a 180 day Visa in the near future. That clearly would solve my issues and I could stay in the Schengen area for April, May and September.
Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands are all out of the Schengen area.
So worst case, only 90 days,is once I leave Ireland in the spring, stopping in France and Belgium only for a week or so, before retreating to the Channel Islands. Then by the end of May, start heading east, first into Holland, then Germany ending up in Gdansk by mid-July, starting our Baltic explorations as described below.
Spring and Summer 2015 Cruise Plan
Prepare Dauntless for the cruising season
Depart for France/Belgium
Channel Islands, enter French Canals, Dunkerque-Escaut, in NE France or go to Belgium direct
France/Belgium or Channel Islands
Explore NE France & Belgium Canals, subject to our Air Draft of 4.5m
Head NE, Belgium, Holland and Germany
Find the most interesting route to the Kiel Canal, the Baltic adventure begins
End of July
Germany and Poland
Eastern Germany and Poland, Gdansk last two weeks of July
Flying over the Atlantic yesterday, over a similar route that we had taken with Dauntless just months earlier, was a strange experience. This flight was Europe is one I have taken so many times in the last 15 years. But this time, instead of returning to my normal life and its incumbent responsibilities, I’m leaving much of that behind. I’m coming home; but not to the burdens of the past: my mother, my school, now it’s more like a vacation. I get to see friends, write, complete the writing of our Atlantic Passage and organize the pictures. I only going to eat foods I can’t or wouldn’t get in Waterford: Korean, Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Bengali & Indian.
It was great that Julie got to spend a little time in Waterford and be on Dauntless in her winter haven. It’s wonderful being able to share many of the interesting and tasty things Waterford has to offer. The bread, they call turnover, we call it Hobbit bread, because it just seems to fit. It is the best we’ve eaten since Cuccio’s in Brooklyn. Cuccio’s was a weekly ritual for the last 14 years I was taking care of Mama, so it was nice for us to find such tasty bread in Ireland. The last three weeks in Ireland have certainly been eye opening.
I never expected to eat so well and in particular, I am really impressed with the quality and freshness of virtually all baked products. Ireland has many less chain type establishments then even the Netherlands, and it’s clear that people value locally grown and produced products.
The croissants are as good as any I’ve had in France and that does say a lot. Finding delicious bread and cakes are the icing on the cake. Ireland is simply full of wonderful people. My time in Castletownbere was the perfect ending to an Atlantic Passage. Full of people who know the sea, it is one of Ireland’s five official fishing ports, I met many people and many fishermen fascinated with Dauntless and our voyage.
Waterford is looking like the perfect winter spot.
Having the dock right downtown makes it easy for me to walk pretty much anyplace I want to go. I’ll be able to use my bicycle for longer trips. The City of Waterford wants to encourage boaters to stay and they have made it very easy. The Harbor Master is helpful and accommodating and the price for the six winter months is one third of what it would have cost me in most other places.