Lessons Learned Living on a Boat in Northern Europe

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.

 

 

Sunrise on the Miami River

Sunrise on the Miami River
Sunrise on the Miami River

A fascinating place, the Miami River, full of real working boats and interesting people.

I promise to write about it more later, but have little time this morning, as this is the big day.

Richard and I have finished out painting project.  The cap rail, and forward hand rails have been painted!  We have also replaced 95 teak bungs and screws in our teak deck.

Next up, Dauntless is being fitted for her stabilizer paravanes (aka flopper stoppers) today.  Long planned and anticipated.  One way or another, I will write of the process and outcome (hopefully great).

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See more photos at

http://dauntless.smugmug.com/

Surviving Boca Chita – It’s Harder than You Think

We had been anchored at Marine Stadium, just east of downtown Miami.  A gorgeous site, with a clay bottom, so very good holding for the anchor.  We had been here two days, so I was getting hot to trot.

Cumulus Mammatus Not the last time I'd see them this weekend either
Cumulus Mammatus
Not the last time I’d see them this weekend either

The National Weather Service had been forecasting a frontal passage for that day, Thursday, so I decided it was better to be underway during a storm, then anchored.  With land and other boats so close by, being blown about by changing winds is far more stressful for me, then to be buttoned up in the pilot house, with wind and rain lashing the windows.

We stopped at Crandon Park Marina to fill up one of two water tanks.  A nice place, with reasonable priced fuel (for southern Florida) and a really helpful, friendly staff.  I could see the storm clouds building to our west as we started on the three hour, 15 nm trip south to Boca Chita.

And then it got strange.

My autopilot (ComNav) compass, a fluxgate compass (for those who care), is usually 10 degrees off of magnetic, but at least it is consistent.  Consistent that is until you flush a toilet.  It took me 6 months to figure out why when on autopilot the boat would make a sudden turn, as the compass heading jumped 30°.  Turns out the fluxgate is located within 6 feet of the Lectsan Sanitation Processing unit, so the current thru the processing unit, is producing a magnetic field.  Umm, maybe with the new generation of marine mechanics, their video games expertise has superseded the need for electro-magnetic theory.   Maxwell’s & Ampere’s Laws?  We don’t need no stinkin laws.

Yes, I’m looking forward to the next 30 years with unanticipated glee.  Please Mister Old Person, show me how to get my thing (any electro-mechanical 

device) working again.  Sure, sonny, just grab this and yank here. 

Sorry, I digress.

Sunset
Sunset

Back to the Present

But, now with the storm bearing down on us, my autopilot compass was 90 to 180 degrees off and not steady wither. Totally worthless, and then the strangeness happened.  My Raymarine GPS compass was also off by at least 40 to 80 degrees.  Now that never happened before.

My Polar Navy gps was working fine, as was the Raymarine course over ground (cog), but to steer a heading, I, or actually, my crewmate for this leg of the adventure, Richard, no not me, another Richard, was steering, using the good old magnetic compass to steer by.

First, I decided to try to recalibrate the Raymarine compass, as it has always been good till now.  It consists of making a number of circles.  While we were circling, I figured I may as well recalibrate the ComNav also, as it also needed to do circles.  After about 10 minutes and five circles, they each said they were calibrated.  We continued south, into strong winds, but only 2 foot waves.

Within, a minute or two, the ComNav settled to it normal state of being, about 10° off magnetic, but it was consistent.  In the meantime, the Raymarine went all wacky again.  So, it’s Tango Uniform.

I was a bit disappointed to get to Boca Chita before the storm.  I actually like storms at sea.  There is nothing to bang into and nobody to bang into you.  It’s freedom.

In this case, the winds had built to ferocious westerlies, 25 knots gusting to the low 40s.  Boca Chita is a small harbor, in the shape of an square with rounded corners, about 300 feet on a side.  The narrow entrance faces west, so as I entered, the wind was right behind me and I made a wide circle to the right, intending to anchor in the southwest corner.  As I straightened up the boat, near the south wall, the winds were up to 45 knots (50 mph, 80 kph).

The plan was to tie a midships port line and use that as a spring, to bring the boat to a halt as it pivots against the wall as I give it full right rudder.

A great plan; the problem was the “helpers” on the dock.  They are incapable of having the slightest clue about boat handling, vectors or anything remotely associated with physics (the whole universe.  Now, you can mitigate this incompetence, if you are lucky enough to get someone, who will at least follow directions.

We weren’t.

We got the braniac, who decided he could halt the 40,000 lb. boat by holding the line, pulling and putting his whole 150 lbs into the effort.  As the boat pulled him down the dock, he almost trips over the first cleat and is almost running as he passes the second cleat, while Dauntless is closing to within 10 feet of the corner wall, I yelled for the second time, this time even more forcibly and maybe even some expletive language, “put the fucking line on a cleat.”  Somehow it sinks in, he does, and as I crank over the wheel we come to prefect stop.

Later, I see the helper and thank him.  He does not invite me for a drink.

We would spend the next three days amazed that the number one maneuver to tie up was to come straight in, hit the dock with your bow with varying degrees of force, throw someone on shore a line and then have them pull the boat to the dock.  If I saw it once or twice, I wouldn’t have believed it.  But we saw it almost hourly.

I got to put my electric fuel pump to use one again.  This time, while running the generator I was also polishing my fuel and transferring it to one tank to get an accurate measurement of quantity.  All off a sudden, I hear the generator lowering rpms, as its output voltage drops from 120 to about 60.  I quickly, take it off line and jump into the engine room.  I realize almost immediately the problem is that it is sucking air from the empty tank.  I close that tank’s feed and reach for the little wireless relay remote that runs the electric fuel pump I installed with Richard’s help in Providence, RI.  I switch it on, but no change on the gen, but then recognize that I must close the gravity feed, otherwise the fuel pump just pumps the fuel back to the tank, since that is easier than thru the fuel filters.  As soon as I close that valve and open the valves putting the fuel pump in line, the generator goes back to its normal song.  I run the electric pump for another 30 seconds, then turn it off, it’s duty well done and the three days it took to find the right fitting and install, well paid back, yet again.

My aux electric fuel pump. The red handle is normal gravity feed to filters and then engine/generator
My aux electric fuel pump.
The red handle is normal gravity feed to filters and then engine/generator
My wireless relay for fuel pump. The green light below, is on, when the pump is on. (just in case a Chinese satellite activates the relay)
My wireless relay for fuel pump.
The green light below, is on, when the pump is on.
(just in case a Chinese satellite activates the relay)

Did I mention the first time I had to use it, I had just pulled away from the slip and in my pre start checklist, and I had turned off the fuel tank we were using?

Starving the main engine like that, as I ran the electric pump; I was happily bleeding air form the engine fuel filters, with a big grin on my face, as soon as the air was gone, I could switch the pump off immediately and the engine fired right up with nary a hiccup.

We are here in Boca Chita Key, part of the Biscayne National Park to get some work done on the boat on the cap and hand rails.  I like the dock, it makes easy work and the scenery can’t be beat.

Monday, we will be heading to the Miami River, where with the help of Parks, of Hopkins Carter Marine, he put me in touch with someone who should have an affordable slip for me.  Our paravanes are being fabricated as I write this and hopefully their installation will start Tuesday.

I’ll do a posting about the whole paravanes thing after the fact, so I do not have to eat any words.

Here are some pictures of Boca Chita, boats and the wild life.  Enjoy

A Beneteau in No Name Harbor
A Beneteau in No Name Harbor
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New Friends
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Some of the wildlife

All the pictures (well, most of them) can be found at:

http://dauntless.smugmug.com/organize/Winter-2013-14-Florida

A Contender
A Contender

America’s Race – The Daytona 500 – It’s just not about $$$

As Dauntless gets prepared for her paravanes, I took the opportunity to attend the Daytona 500 with my friend Richard, from Providence, RI, who will be spending time with me on Dauntless in Florida.

USAF C-5 Support Plane for the Thunderbirds
Sunrise & a USAF C-5 Support Plane for the Thunderbirds

Not my first NASCAR race, as my first race I attended in person was in Riverside California in 1981.  See those big, really big cars racing up thru the “S” curves was truly something you had to experience.  Having been a Richard Petty fan since the early ‘60s (I still cringe when I hear the name David Pearson), he had no chance on a road course, but it was a wonderful experience.

An experience I probably took for granted.  You could wander anyplace around the track.  You could bring in your own food, booze and beer.  In other words, it was an affordable experience, especially for families.

Now, fast forward 33 years, and I, who can be critical of many things, found this race to truly be America’s Race for these reasons:

  • It’s fan friendly.  They actually act like they care, no love their fans.  In the early morning hours, I was able to walk just outside the catch fence, all the way around the track.  To watch the sun get ever higher in the sky while on top of the 33 degree bank is awesome.
  • It’s affordable.  While the dopes in major league baseball wonder where the fans are, as they have made their venues unaffordable for families, NASCAR welcomes fans.  Bring your 14”x14” cooler filled with whatever suits you.  Families can picnic. You can buy affordable food, $4 hot dog, $8 steak sandwich, $6 beer 16oz too!
  • Virtually no areas in the grandstands are off limits.  Move to a vacant seat, no problem.  Just wander around, seeing where you like the view best to watch the action, no problem.
  • A diverse fan base.  It doesn’t come across on TV, but the fan base pretty much reflects all Americans, both in age and race.
  • I did not even get the Fan Pass (that allows you into the infield until the race begins), but drivers are accessible to fans.  It’s the opposite of Formula One, where they seem to make a real effort to highlight the difference between them and you.
  • They had a kid’s event with driver Jimmie Johnson.  Kids less than 12.  They got to build, yes, build, with hammer and nails, a wooden race car.  As many girls were doing this as boys.  Really inspiring to watch them hammer away, and while they were given goggles and apron, some wore it, some didn’t.  Interesting concept, teach personal responsibility young.
    Girls 7 Boys building thier cars with Jimmy Johnson at Daytona
    Girls & Boys building their cars with Jimmy Johnson at Daytona

    Kid's event with Jimmy Johnson at Daytona
    Kid’s event with Jimmy Johnson at Daytona
  • And that leads me to my last point, no nanny state here.  Even with lightning and thunder right next to the track, the announcements were very clear; “you were responsible for your own personal safety” it was up to you to stay in the stands or leave.  Even when the tornado warning was announced.  I was pleased to be treated like thinking adult.  All the lawyers who run this country must be up north.

All in all, one of the most enjoyable sporting experiences I have had in the last 20 years. A truly iconic race.

If you like any kind of racing, then check out a NASCAR race at a track near you.  You may be surprised.

more pictures at:  http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Misc-Public/i-vRr6jLd

I want to conclude the Bahamas Adventure with the Christmas Disaster

But before I tell the rest of the story of the summer Canada trip, in which there will be midnight dives, midnight docking, 12 knot currents, flying trawlers, flying people, swinging booms, crushing dinghies, crashing seas, the bureaucracies of the world at their best, BoatUS on the edge, Canadian customs, the ever vigilant USCG, pilot ships, thunderstorms, rain, ships passing in the night, lobster pots, lobsters, big tides and of course fog, fog and more fog.

I want to conclude the Bahamas Adventure with another lesson learned and disaster narrowly averted.

Christmas Eve, My crewmate, Chantal, and I returned to Bayshore Marina in Nassau.  She would be leaving to visit her parents the next day and I would be picking up Julie and two of our friends, Karen and Jason, who were coming back for more adventure, having shared some of the shenanigans of Maine this past summer.

The trade winds had continued to blow steadily out of the East and ESE at 15 to 22 knots for the entire week.  They were forecast to continue the next few days, so I decided to use the following seas they would produce and head to Andros Island.  Overall course would be WSW, so the winds and seas would be just off our stern and provide a great ride, as Dauntless loves having her rear end goosed.

I had already noticed and thought about two issues, two yellow, if not red flags. The first being the lack of anchorages in the area we were heading for and the second being that no one ever mentioned cruising to Andros island.  Everyone talked about the Abacos, the Exumas, Nassau, etc.  here was this big island, just 45 miles west, whose only redeeming value was that they produced much of the fresh water for Nassau.  Furthermore, looking at our planned anchorage, it would require an hour long threading of a narrow, unmarked channel.  I would use my very accurate, so far, Explorer Charts, and my Navionics app on my Samsung Note, as well as the Navionics chart on my Raymarine Chart plotter (6 years old data).  I felt confident that we could handle whatever came our way.

But I figured we would be getting off the beaten track. How bad could it be?

What was I thinking?
What was I thinking?

So Christmas Day starts out rosy and pink.  Beautiful sunrise, we get underway, backing up out of the marina, everything ship shape.  I had even written out and gone over some new household procedures with our guests, since a few things had changed since the summer.  I was feeling very organized and experienced!

Hubris.

First hour, we have to head SE to get around New Providence island (the island Nassau is on), it’s a bit of a rough ride with 3 to 4 foot seas rolling the boat 10° to 20°. But after an hour we turned southwest and the ride totally smoothed out.  A little after noon, we reached Tongue of the Ocean, where the water went from the Bahamas depth of 10 to 20 feet to over 4,000 ft. deep.

I took this opportunity to stop the boat, putting her in neutral.   The month before, I had taken a similar opportunity to take a swim.  Any thoughts of swimming quickly evaporated as dauntless broached (waves turning the boat perpendicular to the waves) within two minutes with a vicious roll almost 40 degrees.  As I used the wheel to pull myself up, I quickly put her in gear and pushed the throttle up to get steerage back.  No damage done, a little lesson learned.

Our charts indicated a very narrow marked (with pilings) channel extending ¼ mile due east of the Island, after which we would turn south and thread our way another 45 minutes south to an indicated anchorage at ———-

We did this, arriving at our planned anchorage about 4 p.m., about an hour before sunset.  Andros Island has a reef protecting much of the east side.  We had worked our way south, with the Island about ¼ mile to our west and the reef, indicated by a line of angry breakers, about ¼ mile to the east.

Seas had built to 4 to 6 feet out of the east.  The period was relatively short, about 6 seconds, but we were protected now by the reef and just had some small chop, though with continued strong easterly winds to contend with at anchorage.

Christmas Sunset over Andros Island. What you can't see the island, ...
Christmas Sunset over Andros Island.
What you can’t see the island, …

After getting the anchor set, letting out 100 ft. of chain in only 6 ft. deep water, I didn’t like what I was seeing.  In the Exumas, we were normally anchored just west of the cay.  The cay would protect us from the wind and waves and the beach would be very close, sometimes within 100 feet of white sand and blue, clear water.  I wasn’t seeing that here.  Instead, even though the reef protected us from the large waves, there was a surface chop that made the water turbulent.  The Island also was far away, maybe a half a mile, though the shallow water was very close.  Lastly, we were in a narrow channel, the wind was strong out of the east and to the west of us was shallow water and the island itself.  In other words, if we dragged anchor, we would be on the beach before I could ever say, WTF?

We had dinner, watched another pretty sunset and at 7 p.m. two hours after our initial anchoring, as I am finishing my glass of wine, I look at the window and to my dismay, I see we’re dragging, slowly for sure, but dragging none the less.

I call everyone to Action Stations.  Fire up the engine, decide where we need to be, haul anchor, move to the new spot, drop the anchor, set it, and wait.  It’s not holding.  We try again.  No luck.  And now, our situation is made even more uncomfortable, as we are sitting perpendicular to the wind, producing a yawing motion.  While not terrible, I figure let’s try an experiment, let’s put out a stern anchor!  With my motto being, there is a first time for everything, we talked it over and while we did not need a stern anchor, it wouldn’t hurt to try it now.

We did, and after an hour of moving, fiddling and other hijinks, we came to the conclusion that it was a waste of time.  Luckily, through foresight, luck, the gods or all three, it turned out to be relatively easy to retrieve (I am sparing you the gory details, but suffice it to say, this was an hour long production).

So, it’s 9 p.m., dark, windy and I’m ready for bed.  45 minutes later, the anchor alarm (Drag Queen) goes off. I just up, even bother to put on pants, start the engine and for the third time move the boat. I’m back in bed at 10 p.m.  Before even closing my eyes, as I think about the past few hours, I realize that Dauntless has moved roughly a foot a minute ever since we got here, so in one hour, we will again have moved 60 feet and what am I going to do then?

I screwed this pooch and there is only one answer.

Science News & the Miami Boat Show

How are they related?science news cover

https://www.sciencenews.org/

Julie recently sent the following email to her science teachers:

Hi science team, 

I just spent 45 minute reading new discoveries about the following: 

  • How sleep “flushes” out the brain
  • New research in progenia, a disease that prematurely ages children 
  • How molecules in 1% of our exhaled breath can diagnose certain diseases
  • A pink fairy armadillo that is almost impossible to find
  • Earth might not be inhabitable in 1.75 billion years
  • The primordial comet ISON 
  • New “robot” limbs for paraplegics that are controlled by human thoughts

I could go on– there was more and it was all in Science News.  I truly enjoyed it, and I remembered Richard telling me many times that he thinks all science teachers should read this magazine.  He has subscribed for years, and as an earth science and physics teacher, he said that the background knowledge he gained from it allowed him to teach a range of content he otherwise could not have handled if he had only relied on his meteorology degree.  

To you– a group of young, inspired teachers at the beginning of your careers– I passionately recommend that you personally subscribe to Science News.  It’s very important that nourish your sense of wonder and fascination and discovery that will not get fed unless you intentionally feed it.  Start nourishing your passion early and don’t for wait a fictional future when you think you’ll have more time, or teaching will get easier.  Think of this year not as a hump to get over, but as the beginning of an ever-expanding possibility to have fun, feel fulfilled, and learn with your students.  Now is when you need to be reading and having fun.  Set the precedent now to be a science teacher who loves science.  

Why Science News?  Because it is truly a “digest”– it engagingly summarizes articles from hundreds of science journals.  It is a blast to read.  

And if this inspires you to go even further and subscribe to more magazines, and seek more professional development and events about science, including those closer to your subject area, wonderful.  Gorge yourself on reading fun things about science, math, history– it’s all related.  You have inspired me to write this to you, and I will call out similarly to other departments.  

Ciao, enjoy this break!

Yes, I still love reading Science News, even though now it is a bi-weekly. Maybe once I get my tablet, I will get over the loss of my weekly treat.

So, I spent a full day at the Miami Boat Show. As opposed to boat shows I have attended in the past, this one was business for me as I have a number of upgrades and changes that I want to get accomplished this spring before our Atlantic Passage in July.

Among the changes I am thinking about, planning or getting done:

  • Paravanes (flopper stoppers), being fabricated now in Miami
  • Wallas DT40 Diesel heater
  • Bicycle for me to use in my travels
  • Isolation transformer to convert 220V to 110 V
  • K-30 Pentax Camera + zoom to be able to take better pictures and restart that old hobby
  • High capacity alternator, so I also have a spare
  • SSB HF radio
  • Coastal Explorer great looking navigation software
  • AIS Transponder, so you guys can track me and hopefully big ass ships will see me and not run us over
  • AIS and VHF Ant, old VHF Ant is broken in any case
  • Captain’s license , can’t hurt and I will learn something I probably need to know
  • Fridge and Freezer, it’s between two Italian companies, Isotherm and Vitrifrigo, which will cut my daily power consumption my two thirds, making life on the hook better without the generator.  Also will be adding
  • Solar Panels on top of Pilot House
  • Rogue Wi-Fi.  So I have more choices for internet connectivity
  • Village Water Watermaker
  • Samsung Tablet will become third backup (actually my fourth, but who’s counting) and let me bring it with me wherever to monitor boat functions and its movements.

So, as you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  Luckily, I have a lot of help in some really good friends, Paul, here in Miami, Richard from Providence (no, not me, another Richard) and Dave in Ft. Pierce, who is a true master of electrical and boat systems.

So, how are Science News & the Miami Boat Show related?  For both Julie and I, it has always been about learning and putting systems in place that lead to better teacher teams for Julie and increased efficiently for Dauntless and I.

Also, feel free to email me at DauntlessNY@gmail.com should you have any comments or questions.

Some pictures of the last few days, mostly of the Miami River taken yesterday and the Coconut Grove area can be found at:

Winter in Miami

Crossing the Gulf Stream

 Rocking and Rolling

 Last day of January 2014 – Dollar Harbour to Florida

Dollar harbour anchorage turned out to one of the best of my whole Bahamas Adventure.  Due to the strong current the boat was rock steady all night, though it did do a 180° in the middle of the night.

Wind is out of the SSE, 15-22 knots.  On weather, I pretty much only look at the NWS products and even at that, I use them a guide, but…  For example, the product I’ve been using here is:

AMZ001, with the subset AMZ117 BAHAMAS INCLUDING CAY SAL BANK, while relatively general, for today, E to SE winds 15 to 20 kts, seas 6 – 8 ft. Atlc exposures and 3-5 ft. elsewhere.

While relatively general, I like this product because it does not imply significance, in either specific time or location, that cannot be reasonably forecast,

The winds are actually SSE, so I probably won’t be able to maintain my desired course of 281° (with the GS pushing me north, the resultant COG would be 301°), which would land me at Miami.

15 minutes later I’m pounding into 4-6 ft. waves from the SSE.  I want to get well clear of the wedge rocks before I try to go W or NW.

Turning thru 270° Dauntless is rolling 25° on each side of vertical.  Not tenable.  I settle on WNW, 300° heading. This gives me a following sea 30 to 40° off my stern, tolerable.  I estimate (using my handy Clinometer app) that most of the rolls are on either side of 10 °, but 1/3 of the rolls are 15 to 18° and 1/9 of the rolls are 25-28°. I take a Cinnizine (Stugeron), thanks Dutch friends for bringing it.

Dauntless' Tracks Outbound and Return
Dauntless’ Tracks Outbound and Return

I also am reassured that should the conditions get worse for any reason, I do have a number of alternatives: I could head further north, as the Krogen does extremely well in a following sea or I could abort and head NNE to Bimini.

Four hours later, I am about in the middle of the Gulf Stream, I had increased speed to 2000 rpms, the most I have pushed my Lehman for any length of time, but with a speed over ground of about 9.2 knots, it does make the ride better.  The seas have been 6 to 8 feet; I hand steered a while and did discover that my hand steering I could almost keep a course as low as 280, BUT it’s a lot of work, so I have adjusted the autopilot a few times and discovered that I can set it to react well to those largest waves. Once I understood that the ComNav Autopilot manual is really poorly written, in that they use poor analogies.  Instead of explaining exactly what a certain adjustment actually does, they simplify too much.  Many companies do this, but they don’t understand their customers.  Meaning, those customers that will take the time to read their 3 inch think operating manual could use the exact description, instead they dumb it down, but dumb people won’t even read it in the first place.

So in trying to figure out what they really mean, for example Counter Rudder, seems to be an exponential function and in this case, by increasing it to almost max, Dauntless is able to react to large waves that want to pull the bow up (broach) faster than I can do it myself, and in fact, is more consistent.  So, the last few hours are actually easier, then also, as I got to the west of the main GS, the waves have diminished a bit to 4 to 6 ft.

By 16:00 I am entering the Port Everglades ship channel.  My crossing is done and our Bahamas adventure is over.

All’s Well that Ends Well.

As I get caught up with my postings, you will notice a mixture of tense.  Please bear with me as some things are written just as they happen, some after the fact, some before the fact and some not at all.

My current plan is to also post some pictures directly with the blog, but also to make a link for all the pictures for a given trip.  I’m also working on the duplication issue, so bear with me.

I’ve also uploaded some short videos of this crossing at http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public/

Richard on Dauntless currently in Coconut Grove

How I almost Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory or When a Shortcut, Isn’t!

Chubb Cay to Dollar Harbour, 30 January 2014, Thursday,

It’s Oh Dark Thirty, really, 3:00 a.m.  If I want to get to Cat Cay today, it’s 76 nm @ 6.5 knots, that’s 12 hours, plus the usual hour of hijinks, so I either leave now or drive in the dark. Since for the first few hours this morning I can follow the route I took back in December, it’s better for me to leave now in the darkness, but on a known route.  I also can’t wait to try my new driving lights, but as there is nothing in front of me, I don’t see anything.

Hauled anchor, at 3:45 a.m. and am now underway.  I’m very close to the cold front.  Forecasters had it between Florida and Bimini, but the winds switched around last night to the NW meaning it or part of it, passed thru, however, as I get underway, I notice the winds are again from the SE and I can sense buildups just to my west.  Sure enough, in about an hour, I am going thru heavy rain for about half an hour.  Once again I am passed the front, hopefully this time for good. (Sadly, was not the case and the third time, was at the most critical time.) As the sun came up at 6:30, the very light NW winds just caused barely a ripple on the ocean.  Good cruising weather.

I picked up a hitchhiker for about half an hour.

A Tern Takes a Ride
A Tern Takes a Ride

Been anchored here in Dollar harbor (thanks to Active Captain) 30 minutes, since 17:15, a 14 hour day,  just got out of the shower and now, finally It’s Miller Time, but I’m having stiff drink.  As my mother would say, a highball.

So let’s go back to the videotape. The plan worked well. Would have worked even better had I remembered to look at my Explorer Chart Book of the Bahamas, which was three feet away on the chart table in front of my face all f…day.  (the downside of getting up at 3 a.m.?)

So all was going well.  By leaving so early, the seas were flat for the first 9 hours, it wasn’t till early afternoon that the southerly waves picked up in the shallow water west of the tongue of the ocean.  Small waves about a foot, but once in a while they would hit the boat strangely and cause a disconcerting thump.  I’m making good time too, 1600 rpms, but averaging 7 knots.

At this point, it’s midafternoon and I’m only about 10 nm Southeast of the Cat Cay lighthouse, and I am following the exact route I took coming out, but am wondering why I took that route as it seems a little off from what my Navionics charts are saying.  Especially when I got to the real shallow area that I had come straight thru last month.  Shallow, so cruising slowly for an hour, like 5 kts, with only 1 to 3 feet under the keel.  Luckily, as the water got skinny, I made sure I was exactly on that track, though I did test it, by going north and south of the track to see if it improved. It didn’t.  OK, so I get thru that part and now I’m 3 nm SE of the lighthouse, but it my Navionics says I can try to get to Dollar harbor by coming from the NE on the east side of South Cat Cay.

Interesting. Not one to pass up an opportunity (to save an hour)I slow down even more and give it a try, within minutes the rudder becomes sluggish, I immediately make a sharp U turn and add power as the depth sounder stopped sounding, which means it’s in the mud, sand.  Within a heart stopping  30 seconds, I have at least some water underneath.  OK, all is good, I retrace my steps, get back on course a and once again head NW to the lighthouse and the gap between South and North Cat Cay.

Now, in part because of the wasted time, this storm that has been building is now here, so I go thru the narrow cut south (must hug shore to within 100 ft) of the lighthouse in raging seas and wind.  100 m visibility in heavy rain and wind.  When I get to the west side, it is far worse, as there seem to be two different wave trains and their both 6 to 8 ft.  I realize at this point, that I need sea room no matter  what the seas, so I continue west into the deeper water, >40ft, before I turn South,

Now, I’m wondering what to do, The rain is so heavy, I can’t see the inlets or the rocks just to my left, I don’t trust my chart plotter or my navionics App and the wind is from the North, so continuing on and crossing the Gulf Stream is out of the question.

A light dawns, Like the sun burning though the morning fog, I remember my trusty Explorer Chart Book.  Open it to the pertinent page and low and behold it has all the answers.  It showed why I had previously taken the route I had, plus it showed that the only way to the Dollar anchorage was from the southwest.

I decided to play it safe for once and come all the way south of Wedge Rocks as the channel there looked a bit deeper and wider, on the chart, so I just gritted my teeth and accepted that I would have a rough ride for the next 30 minutes.  The visibility was still bad enough I could not the rocks or breakers, so I wondered about turning into the inlet when the time came, but as it was it was all anti-climactic.  As soon as I was south of the rocks, I turned, and the seas died down to just 2-3’.  Looking at the chart it confirmed the AC advice and it was a piece of cake.  I had 14 ft. of water all the way to this anchorage. There was some wind, but absolutely no boat movement (and for a full displacement boat, that says a lot).  There is a strong current which is keeping Dauntless parallel to the channel, but this is the quietest anchorage I have had in the entire time in the Bahamas.

Here are two videos, but it’s hard to get WordPress to play nice with pictures. So go to http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public  for the rest of the pictures in descending chronological order.
Finally,  It’s Miller Time and here is one of my favorite Miller time T-shirts at http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public

Leaving Nassau, Let the Shenanigans Begin

See How Unconscious Foresight Saves the Day

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Dauntless’ Last Nassau Sunset

Or as some may call it, plain Dumb Luck.

I had spent the last few days getting the boat ready to depart for the roughly 200 mile trip back to Miami.  But in reality, there was little to get ready, so I spent the last days riding the little Nassau buses around and just observing life.

In these last days, I ended up totally changing my views on the people and the Bahamas.  It’s hard to explain why I started with such feelings of trepidation, it’s not like I am unaccustomed to foreign places and cultures, but in any case, I left with the genuine fondness for the life and the people.

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This size bus

I found the people warm, generous and very honest.  There is a respect that pervades Bahamian society and it manifests itself in many ways.  The buses are small (for a NYer) 25 seat buses that zip around on assigned routes, but not assigned stops.  Therefore you can flag your bus down anywhere along their route and get off the same way.  One pays as they get off.  Everyone sits down and when the bus is full, a little third seat folds down into the aisle.  More than half the riders give a salutation as they get on, usually “good afternoon” to the bus in general.  The seats are relatively small, as I was struck on one tall, lanky man got on with a big backpack and instead of plunking it down on a vacant seat next to him, he proceeded to squeeze himself into the seat with backpack on, and then proceed to do this Houdini thing, where he switches it around from his back to his lap.  Unlike NY, people don’t sprawl all over like it’s their living room.  It was that incident which made me observe better and the realization came as to how respectful everyone is, young and old, to others.

No one plays music or really disturbs their fellow passengers in any way.  Now as to the music, about half the buses do have some type of music blaring.  I never did figure out how the driver could here as a passenger would call out, “bus stop”.  But they always did.  Also the music, some combination of reggae and rap, on Sunday, became gospel music, on all the buses!  A few buses had church radio stations on during the week also.  I was struck my how efficient they system was, reminded me of Seoul, Korea, in that it consisted of a lot of busses, traveling as quickly as they can, as often as they can.  The exact opposite of what the NYC transit system has become, in which the buses in particular, are run on a schedule that guarantees that while they may be on time, it’s only because they are so slow and too large.  They take forever to load and then crawl along slower than a walking pace.  A system clearly designed by someone who never takes the bus.

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School Kids

All school kids wear uniforms and while each school had a distinctive look, there was no variety within a school.  Many high school level schools had a uniform that was opposite for boys and girls, meaning, girls would have a red skirt and while shirt, while the boys in the same school would have white pants and a red shirt.

Coming back to the marina for the last time, as I said goodbye to those who had watched over Dauntless in my absence, I was saddened to say goodbye.  They were generous with their time and efforts. They adjusted my lines as need be and made sure the boat always had electricity.  Couldn’t ask for a better stay or experience.

So it’s time to move on.

I am alone now.  I departed Florida two months ago with a crew mate, Chantal, who turned out to be really great.  A good learner and she tolerated my idiosyncracies, what else can one ask for.

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Before Sunrise

I had trouble sleeping I was so excited about leaving.  There is something that is so magical for me in the early morning hours being underway.

We even thought about naming the boat Dawn Patrol, but thought it was a bit corny, though it did appeal to my patriotic (for lack of a better word) side, to show an appreciation and thanks to those who have the usually thankless job of watching over the rest of us (military, fire & police, etc.) while we are fat, dumb and happy all cozy in bed.

This was going to be the third time I left this marina, so I felt I should nail it (back in the day of BMW’s vs Alfa’s, third time around the track was usually my fastest time, as I kept on trying different ways to better my time).

So I went to bed thinking of the lines I would use as I was single handed.  I was starting the engine just at high tide, so I knew I had almost an hour before the current really started going, as I had to back into it.  I knew I needed to get away before it really started running its 2-3 knots.  So, all is going as planned (I also wanted to run the engine 20 minutes, even though I had run it yesterday, 15 minutes is the time it takes to manifest any fuel issues).

As soon as I took off the stern port side line, the boat snugged up to the pier, easier for me to get on and off, and I have rub rails and am not afraid to use them.  The boat did move forward a bit, so I retied the Stbd stern line tight to the piling, so the boat would not move forward.  The spring lines came off and two port lines, I then retied the one bow starboard line with a loop over the piling, with its eye over my forward cleat, and me taking the bitter end to near the pilot house door.  This would be the last line I would release and as the boat moved backwards, the line would slip around and off the forward piling, while still connected to the bow cleat.

Worked like a charm, for the most part; I ran to the stern, undid the line and pulled it quickly into the boat (no lines outside). Quickly stepping back to the pilot house, putting it in reverse as I heard the bow lightly kiss the slip goodbye, cute I thought, as I released the bitter end of the line that was looped around the piling. As Dauntless boat backed out, we wwere free,  perfectly I thought.

Had to make a quick left, parallel to the slip I had been in, to stay in channel, then a sharp right in about 200’ between some ferry and the marker.  All is going well, I’m in the Nassau channel passing under those two bridges to Atlantis. Did you catch what I left out?

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Sunrise leaving Nassau

Yes, my bow line was happily streaming under the boat, but in what I’d like to call “unconscious foresight”, though many of you will probably say is simply dumb luck, I had used a short bow line, only 25’. I immediately ran out and pulled the line it, thinking what disaster it could have been had I used one of my normal 50’ lines.  I’ll give myself some credit, as I did use the shorter line, conscious of the time it takes to pull it in.

Sitting here now in Chubb Cay, with good holding in 6’ of water, with 80 ‘of chain out.

The winds are constant SE at 15 knots, but there is a southerly swell, so I am rocking and rolling a bit, but if this boat didn’t roll, I would think we were aground.

Tomorrow it’s Cat Cay and then crossing the Stream.

More pictures can be found at     http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public/i-M94RJzH

Dauntless’ Bahamas Winter Adventure Summary

A Summary of our Bahamas Winter Adventure

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Dauntless at Rest

We departed Key Largo 10 December and returned to Miami, 31 January 2014.

Overview of the Dauntless' Bahamas Adventure
Overview of the Dauntless’ Bahamas Adventure

In those 53 days, I had to leave dauntless and return to NYC for 23 days (I didn’t want to miss the snowstorm).

Total days on boat (not including 23 days I was in NYC) 30 days, of these 30 days,  two thirds of our days were spent moving from one place to another.  Most were small moves, but we had a third of the time that we had a full day, 6 to 8 hours, or more, of travel.  The only time I spent more than two nights in the same place was the 5 days in Nassau, when I came back from NY, as I got the boat ready to return to Florida.

We traveled 700 nm in 135 engine hours, averaging 5.2 nm/hr., consuming 215 gal of diesel.  Now, this =1.6 gal/hr., but the fuel consumed includes 47 hours of Generator time.  We did have a little Inverter problem, which meant that we had to run the generator probably 50% more time than normal to charge the batteries.

But even with that, if I subtract about 40 gal from our use, the main engine only used about 1.3 gal/hour! Which equals 4 nm/gal and at $4.00/gal cost of fuel, a rough estimate is $1/nm.

KK42-148 has been exactly what we needed and hoped for.

Thank you Dauntless.  Now, I do happen to have a few shenanigans to relate.

In fact once I left Nassau, the order of the day seemed to be a shenanigan a day keeps Bost on his toes

Back on Dauntless in Nassau, Thursday, January 23, 2014

I’m sitting in the salon, back on Dauntless, having just returned from my three week trip home to NYC.20140124_063540 Dauntless

The boat looks like I never left; it was such a relief to walk down the slip and see nothing strange, she wasn’t listing, the electricity was on and I had no infestation of the insect people, etc.

This marina, Bayshore Marina, has been fantastic.  No problems at all.  Safe and secure, with nice people.  I found it on Active Captain, and I will be putting a post there also.

It was the longest I have been away from her since we bought her last March.  I got a lot of stuff done in NY that needed me there, saw some good friends and ate some wonderful Korean food again, but as the days absent go on, the anxiety builds. You all know what I mean.

So now, I’ll spend the next few days doing some small things and wandering around Nassau,Pepperoni Pretzel but I will be heading back to Miami, sooner, rather than later, as I have found a fabricator and rigger who will do the paravanes (flopper stoppers) for me.