Crossing Oceans in a Calm & Assertive Manner – Most of the Time!

Be aware, but not paranoid.

Another Night on the Atlantic

If you are worried about everything, you will drive yourself and crew crazy. You need to be able to separate the likely from the remote. Be vigilant, but you can’t watch everything.  An hour from home, you can afford in indulge your paranoia, in the middle of the Atlantic, indulgences are not allowed.  it’s “Calm & Assertive” as Caesar Milan would say.

When I would hear a noise in the middle of the night. Perhaps I was being sleeping? Did the noise wake me or was it a dream?  I stay in bed in listen.  Sometimes I may even open my cabin door to listen and more importantly sniff the wind!  Your sense of smell may well be your most reliable tool on a boat.

Admittedly, the first year on Dauntless I was not his way. Unless she was firmly tied to a dock, I was up at every little noise or movement. I hated anchoring out because I got so little sleep. What changed? Mostly me understanding that the boat was fine, the anchor was fine, and the only problem was me.

A couple days out of New England, on the way to the Azores, on my first Atlantic Passage, a mast cleat that secured the port paravane pole let go with a sound like a pistol shot. I stopped the boat, put on a PFD (probably the last time I used it too) and went to the fly bridge to see what happened.

The quarter inch steel bolts had sheared off.  I realized that it was too much tension for a cleat, but a simple clove hitch around the mast a few times would secure the two paravane pole lines with much less stress at any particular point, then ending on the cleat. I made that change in minutes and three years later, it’s still the same.

Later, Julie told me that having a problem like that and me being able to come up with a different and even better solution, gave her all the confidence to not worry about anything. And she didn’t. She had been on the boat less than I, but was more experienced. She understood right away what it took to be successful.

It took me a couple of years.

During my second Atlantic Passage, westbound from Europe, North Africa to North America, I had noticed fuel in the bilge on the first day out of the Canaries. I kept it to myself. It didn’t seem like much, probably less than a gallon, of the 700 we had onboard.  To get to the Caribbean we would probably need 600 of those gallons.  If push came to shove and I needed to conserve, I could probably get there on 500, even 450. In fact, at idle and in gear, 900 rpms, fuel consumption is probably 0.5gal/hr. at 3.8 knots, making the range above 5,000 nm.  With these conditions, with a 20-knot wind behind us, our range would be above 6,000 nm.  (at idle and in neutral, with no load on the engine, the fuel consumption is probably 0.1 gal/hr.)

Since I could see no leak on any of the connections or hoses between the fuel tanks and the engine, including the 4 fuel filters, there was not much I could do until it became obvious. It was clearly coming from the tank, but not the bottom of the tank.

I continued to run the numbers in my head, often, during those days and nights.

But I continued to say nothing.  Certainly, Micah could do nothing and he worries, a lot. My job as Captain is to do the worrying and to keep my crew fat and happy.

By Day 4, Calm & Assertive was slipping away. I was getting nervous.

The big problem was that the bilge pump was pumping water out that had gotten into the bilge from the lazzerette.  With large following seas, the stern deck is awash plenty of time, enough that water gets into the lazzerette.  It is then dutifully pumped out. When I would look into the bilge, fuel being lighter than water, it floats on top. So, when I look in the bilge and see a gallon of liquid, which the bilge pump will pump out, it’s unclear if I’m looking at a gallon of fuel or a quarter of a cup, the rest being water. Under these conditions, the bilge pump was turning on about once an hour. So, in 24 hours, that’s about 24 gallons.  If it’s mostly water no problem, but if mostly fuel I needed to know.

It was possible that I was looking at the same inch of fuel floating on top of water. So, when the pump would pump out, it was just pumping water leaving the last inch of liquid every time. I had to know what was going on.

initially on Day 4, I did the following:

  1. I used the shop vac to vacuum out the bilge. Now if I saw fuel again, I knew it was new fuel. I turned off the bilge pump and left it off for 6 hours.
  2. I reduced our engine rpms to 1450. Now this change would only reduce our consumption by about 0.1 gallons/hour, but we had 16 days at 24 hr./day = 384 hours. So, to save a tenth of a gallon, that’s 40 gallons over that time. I had estimated worst case scenario if it was all fuel with a little water, we were losing about 12 gallons a day, that would be 200 gallons lost. That would be a problem. Better to reduce speed now and figure it out just in case.

Six hours later, I checked the bilge hoping to see only water.

I saw water and fuel!

Wherever the fuel was coming from, it was still coming.  But of the approximately 5 gallons I pulled out, there was at most an inch of fuel on top of the water.  That’s less than half a gallon.

From the first time I noticed the fuel, it never seemed that much to me. From dipping the oil soak cloth (very effective in absorbing fuel and oil, but not water) to collecting the 6 gallons, all signs were a minor fuel loss, which was even decreasing. But,

The mind is its own place and can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. (thanks Milton & Star Trek).

But this is why I say, worry is very destructive.  Even with those facts, by the next day, that worry drove me off the deep end. By constantly checking for fuel, all it did was make me lose any objective sense of reason.  I cracked.

So, I came up with another radical plan.

We needed a way to recover significant amounts of fuel:

I cut the hose (pictured) that leads from the bilge pump to the thru hull and stuck another hose onto it.  This hose I now led out of the engine room, out the salon door to a large bucket on the stern deck.

The Bilge Pump hose with newly made connection. Yes, I will replace that non-stainless steel clamp

We would collect everything the bilge pump pumped out of the bilge for the next 12 hours.

 

We would then take the fuel that standing on top of the water, and pour it into another bucket. Then filter it and pour it back into the fuel tank, as needed.  Thus, even if losing 20 gallons of fuel a day, we would probably recover 75% of that. To lose 5 gallons a day was tolerable.

Now the boat is rolling all the time as we have 10 to 16 foot waves off both stern quarters, so it was no easy task to pour one bucket into a larger bucket.

We, really Micah, did just that for 6 hours.

When I relieved Micah, he thought it was mostly water. I checked the “fuel” bucket, the one into which we were pouring the obvious fuel from the bigger bucket.  After 6 hours, we had about a quarter of a gallon if that.

I looked at that, I looked at Micah and I came to my senses.

I quickly put an end to this process.  It was a 5-minute job to re-connect the now two sections of bilge hose and we were back to normal.

On Day 6, all fuel stopped getting into the bilge

Did I scare it away?

The only explanation is also the most obvious explanation. Last year, in Ireland, when we opened up the port tank to seal it, it was obvious that water had dripped down from the screw holes in which the poorly installed fuel vent fitting had been placed. Now since this is one of the few design, construction issues I have ever found on the Kadey Krogen, it’s hard to complain.

I figured that what had happened is that since the tanks was totally full, the pitching movement in particular meant fuel was being pushed hard against the upper back of the tank.  Just where the fuel vent is poorly installed.  A few drops every dozen second will easily add up to a couple of gallons a day.

Lesson Learned: If I had to do it all over.  I should have been more patient.  I could have slowed a bit before doing anything else and waited a few more days.  I let myself get too nervous even after I had come up with multiple estimates that the amount of fuel we were losing was not significant.

After arrival in Martinique, Dauntless still had 125 gallons of fuel. I determined that we had lost probably 5 to 1o gallons at most. I was meticulous in feeding from each tank every other day, thus the tanks should have been the same, but instead there was a 5 to 10-gallon difference.

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up too much.

All’s Well that Ends Well

 

 

 

 

 

What I’ve Learned from Crossing Oceans

Sunset on the Atlantic

Well, it would probably take a book I’m too lazy to write.

But as I sit here in the sweltering heat of Mexico, air conditioning or lack thereof has become my number one concern.

Having spent two years in Northern Europe, AC was the least of my concerns.  So last year when cruising south, once I hit Portugal, the heat hit us at the same time. Like leaving a room that was a pleasant 68° (20°C) and entering a furnace that was in the 90°s (>32°).

Dauntless has two air conditioning (AC) systems.  One for the back of the boat, like the salon and second cabin, the other, for the forward sections, the forward cabin and pilot house.  Of course, neither one was working.
Somewhere in the Caribbean, finally realizing that this heat and humidity was unrelenting, I tackled the issue and in a remarkable time, got both units working.  Relief at last.  But this isn’t about that.

So, for the last couple months, I have luxuriated in the coolness of modern living.  Now, air conditioning only works if I am at a marina and plugged into shore power or if I run the boat’s generator.

Then last week, my cool times came to an abrupt end.  My aft AC stopped cooling and then started blowing hot air.  That won’t work.

The top of the AC strainer. The problem hose connection in the right.

The main engine strainer 

Boat AC’s working using water pumped through the condenser to make cool air. (Home AC’s use air to cool the condenser).

So, when there is a problem, the first thing to check is water flow.  And in fact, there was not any water flow or maybe just a dribble when it should be coming out like a water hose.

Easy fix I thought. It started well.  I checked the sea strainer, which is exactly that, it strains sea water so that the water pump only gets water and not sea weed, sticks, fish and whatever got sucked into the thru hull opening.  The strainer was full of crap and water was just dribbling out, when it should have been gushing out.

Oh, that was easy.  But on a boat, the systems in place that makes everything run as they must, can become complicated.

I cleaned out the strainer.  Put it back together and that started the last seven days of trial and error.

I hadn’t cleaned or opened the strainer in probably 4 years.  It had a lot of corrosion around it.  I brushed and cleaned it up as well as I could. Put it back together again, turned on the AC pump and all was well.

For about 10 minutes.

As of yesterday, the 6th day, I got the time up to two hours. It would run OK for two hours and then quit.  I would need to let it rest about an hour and then do the process all over again.

Somewhere between the thru-hull and the AC water pump, air was being sucked into the system. The water pump is sucking so hard and it’s always easier to suck air than water. So even the smallest crack will allow air to be sucked in.  That air then collects at the highest point in the system, at the aft AC unit, at which point the air blocks the water and the AC stops cooling.

That has been my last 7 days.

Every day I tried something new. I even made new gaskets from rubber sheets, I’ve did all sorts of things to try to fix the strainer.  Sure, there has been some improvement, but it wasn’t fixed.

But I didn’t have a spare strainer. What to do?

One of my lessons learned from crossing oceans is there is always a solution.

When you are in the middle of the Atlantic, there’s no Boat US, no AAA, no nothing, only you and the odds and ends you happen to have.

I realized I did not have a spare sea strainer, but I did have two other sea strainers!

I could simply bypass the AC strainer and put a hose between one of the other strainers to the AC water pump.  Then if there is still a problem, it would mean it’s the pump itself.

I’d decided to use the Generator strainer.  The gen is not being used and won’t be until next summer.  Also, should I mess that system up, it’s not a critical component, like the main engine.

The AC sea strainer uses 1” hose.  Turns out the gen sea strainer uses ¾” hose.  The gen doesn’t use much cooling water, but the AC’s use a lot.

The main engine sea strainer was 1” hose, so I decided to use that.  That has enabled me to sit here a couple of hours later and write this piece in the cool comfort of the Kadey Krogen salon.

Which raises another even more important issue. The first rule of Ocean Crossing, Do No Harm. Don’t fix one problem by making another.

Only because Dauntless will spend the winter here in Huatulco, Mexico, would I consider messing with the main engine’s sea strainer.

There is always a lot of blather about single engine boats crossing oceans. Large commercial boats do it all the time, but then they are not affected by marketing.

If one looks at engine failures on single engine boats versus multi engine boats, the preponderance is a failure of one of the two engines on a multi engine boat. Why is that? On the face of it, the numbers should be exactly the same. Why aren’t they?

They are not the same because both consciously and unconsciously people take care of stuff better when they only have one versus two. Of anything.

How many times have you lost a key after having gotten extra keys made? How many times have you lost your only key?

If I was getting underway in the foreseeable future. I would never have touched the main engine’s sea strainer. Even though Dauntless is going to be here for the next 8 months, if my plan was to come back and get her ready to cross the Pacific, I would never have touched the sea strainer now.

Only because I have the luxury of knowing that: not only will I not be using the engine until next summer, even then we will be slowly moving up the coast. I have a few years and a few thousand miles of coastal cruising before setting across the North Pacific.

A boat is all about systems.  A motor boat even more because it takes more complicated systems to run in a dependable manner.  So, I am very careful not to mess with systems that don’t need it. Remeber, Do No Harm.

In opening up the AC sea strainer, I messed with that system. I upset something.

Turns out, in getting ready to bypass the AC strainer, I noticed the end of the outlet hose was very hard.  Is it possible that when I opened the strainer, I broke the seal between this hose and the strainer nipple? Even though the two clamps were tight. (All connections to thru hulls have two clamps)

I decided before I did anything else, to cut 2″ off the end of that hose and re-attach it.  I did and that solved the problem once and for all. Yesterday, the ACs worked for 12 hours with nary a problem.

So even with a solution in hand, keep trying to determine the real problem. Otherwise, it may come back to haunt you in the most inopportune time.

When I had the hydraulic hose failure in the middle of the Atlantic.  I caused the problem because I turned the wheel knowing the rudder was already at its stop. Thus I did harm. This forced the fluid to go somewhere and it burst the hose at its weakest point. Luckily for me, that point was easy to find and relatively easy to replace.

But I will never do that again.

Here is the video of me replacing that hose.  The seas were about 8 to 15 feet.  We were stopped in the water like that for about 30 minutes, because I had to be careful not to make a small problem worse by breaking one of the fittings from the three-way coupling:  

I tried to get Micah who was holding the camera to get the overall picture and show the big waves that would approach Dauntless and then disappear under the boat.  But that seemed to unnerve him. He wouldn’t look out. Oh well, it could have been worse.

So, one of my lessons learned in crossing the Atlantic: There is always an alternative, there is always a way, a bypass, a work around, but there is always a way.  You just have to think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica Days 5 thru 7 – Isla Cedros & Jesusita to Bahia Guacamaya

I stayed two nights in the wonderful, quiet, still anchorage of Cedros & Jesusita.  It gave me time to catch up on my

Sunset in Bahia Guacamaya on 23 July

sleep and to complete the chores, cleaning and re-organization I should have done before I left the dock in Golfito.

Not the first time I have managed to stress myself by not finishing things as I should in a timely manner.

Won’t be the last, but still …

I hated leaving but it was time to move on.  I carefully followed by previous track out into open water.  If I didn’t take any shortcuts in; I certainly don’t take them on the way out.

I was underway before 8:00, as I had contrary current to contend with, I kept the rpms a little higher, 1700 today than the usual 1500 to 1600.  This gives me about an extra half knot, but also consumes an extra quarter gallon per hour or 17% more fuel.

Entering Bahia Samada at night of 22 July
Approaching Bahia Guacamaya

 

 

I was headed to Bahia Samada.  While it got good reviews on Active Captain, I’m starting to think all these reviews are written at a different time of year, with no south to west swell, because again it turned out to be rolly.

Also, buggy.  I’ve gotten in the habit like most experienced “cruisers” to turn on generator as the sun sets. It’s at this point that the winds will decrease or die and the bugs come out.  Also gives me an opportunity to put a little charge in the batteries, while running the A/C to cool and dehumidify the boat.

I usually run it a couple of hours, though I am conscious of the noise and it there are any other boats nearby, I turn it off sooner rather than later.

As I turned NE around the cape towards Samada, there was a large area of rain showers and thunderstorms, seemingly right over my intended destination. Though my timing worked out well in that the storms were moving slowly west, so while it rained for a while, by the time I got to the anchorage for the night, it at stopped.

As I said, not a great place to stop.  Rolly and buggy (mostly gnats).  Therefore, at the crack of dawn the next day, I was ready to get out of Dodge.

Hauled anchor at 06:00 and was underway to Bahia Guacamaya.  This place also got great reviews and for once it deserved them.  Hardly any roll, quiet, beautiful.

I stayed here two days.  I got the water maker running again, cleaned up the stern deck and jury rigged my garden hose reel that I use for the stern anchor line.  I did a good job, only wondering why I had not done it weeks earlier. Another unknown mystery of the universe.

But even before that.  The trip was very nice.  When I had left the winds were light from the northeast, forecast to turn southwesterly during the day at about 8 to 10 knots.  As I rounded Cape Velas the winds were ESE at 20 knots gusting to 25.  That pretty much was the rest of the afternoon.  Very luckily, I was only a few miles off shore so the wind had very little fetch (the distance winds blow unencumbered over water) this kept the wave heights down, in fact they were less than 2 feet.

Dauntless was rolling on marginally.   Now had I come here a few hours later, the seas would have been much greater.  Just like the day I left Golfito, with the winds having blown all night, the seas were moderate by the time I left.

Also, I was able to check the latest forecast.  I use WIndyty.com for the most part as I love how they present the data and the options you have to change what you look at.  I pretty much only look at winds, though I may check the different weather forecast numerical models to see any significant differences. What was interesting about today was the forecast was very wrong, at least in terms of wind speed and for a small boat like Dauntless, that does make a significant difference.

I usually tell people, whether they ask or not, that weather forecasts are usually right, but when wrong they are usually wrong or time or location.  What do I mean?

The forecast was for 8 to 10 knot winds out of the east.  But 100 miles further north, the winds were forecast to be 20 knots.  So, in this case the forecast was wrong by location.  The timing was good.

Now since my Krogen on can go about 60 miles in 12 hours; 100 miles off on location makes all the difference in the world.  But if I was in an airplane covering a much larger distance, the location being off becomes much less of an issue.  Same thing if I’m a ship going 18 knots.

Now had I gotten up that morning with the winds blowing hard, I would not have left.  Because the other aspect of bad weather forecasts is that they usually don’t get better.  Meaning, if the forecast starts off incorrect, for any given time and place, it’s not like the weather will catch up.  Sure, it may look like the forecast is spot on 12 hours later, but more likely, it’s just a matter of chance.

So, I got to Bahia Guacamaya and just as advertised the bluffs to the east blacked the winds from getting into the bay.  Ver nice.  One of the best anchorages yet, certainly the best if I include the scenery.  So good in fact, I really regretted not have Trinh with me.  This would have been such a wonderful spot to explore together.

Here are some videos of the two days:

21 July 18:15, Entering Bahia Samada at night.  

22 July Bahia Samada the following morning

22 July 11:13 Underway to Bahia Guacamaya

23 July Morning in Bahia Guacamaya

 

Costa Rica Day 5 Summary: Engine Start 07:46, stop 18:50; uw 10 hrs 49 min, 67.7 nm, avg speed 6.3 kt. Average Roll while underway, +8° to -10°, delta of 18°;

Anchored Bahia Samada in 17 feet water with 100’ of chain out.

Costa Rica Day 6 & 7 Summary: Engine Start 06:00, stop 14:40; uw 8 hrs 30 min, 55.6 nm, avg speed 6.56 kt. Average Roll while underway, <5°either way, delta of 10°;

Anchored Bahia Guacamaya in 21 feet water with 80’ of chain out.

 

Lass Mich Rein, Lass Mich Raus

Let Me In, Let Me Out

Thanks to the German band Trio for making a song that was right to the point.  Just substitute the woman’s name for my port of call.

With women, at least both parties gain. With bureaucracies, it’s more of a matter of minimizing the pain. And there has been a lot of pain.

From the day, I left Martinique at the end of January to my arrival in Mexico, a few days ago, Customs, Immigration, Port Captains and the occasional Dog Catcher have been nothing short of a big PIA.

Mexico and Puerto Chiapas, Marina Chiapas, have been a breath of so very much needed fresh air.  Yes, it’s still a bureaucracy, but guess what?  Marina Chiapas makes sure you want to come back and never leave.

After taking literally three days and $160 in taxi rides to the airport twice just to check-out of Costa Rica at Playa Coco, we arrived in the late afternoon at Marina Chiapas after a difficult 4-day passage from Costa Rica.

We knew and expected the Mexican Navy inspection upon arrival, but instead were told, “Go to the restaurant before it closes; it the Navy comes while you are there we will come get you”.

That was music to our ears. So nice. So pleasant.

An hour and a half later, as we are walking back to Dauntless, the Navy shows up, about 6 people and a dog. They inspected the boat, looked at my papers, filled out some papers and were done in 15 minutes.

Very respectful and quiet. At check-out a few days later, I heard the gentlest of knocking on the gunnel. At first, I thought it was a bird.  It was my check-out inspection.  Again, courteous to the utmost. Never getting on or in the boat without being invited.

Now, this was not the check-in to the port and country, just the inspection, but the tone, courtesy and professionalism set the tone for the coming days.

Next morning, Rolf, the Asst. Manager of the marina took my boat documents and spent about an hour preparing the documents I’d need to check-in.

He then made copies of everything, including the 6 copies the Port Captain needed for each office (Immigration, Customs, etc.).

He, Cliff and I were then chauffeured around town to the various offices where everyone got some of the papers and stamped some other papers.  Rolf did all the talking.  We had to pay about $30 for our passport stamp and about $10 for something else.

That’s it.

I had not obtained my Temporary Import Permit (TIP). An official looking document that allows me to keep Dauntless in Mexico or return for 10 years.  But no problem, I’d get it the next day.

The Marina arranged a driver to take me to the border of Guatemala and Mexico.  Again, I did nothing, I just went along for the ride and at the appropriate moment showed my passport, that the official verified with the copy Rolf had made that morning.  The office time 20 minutes, the drive each way, 45 minutes.  My driver, who did all the talking and even got an unexpected copy of my driver’s license. We even went stopped by Wal-Mart on our way back.  All that cost me $50.

Today I am in Marina Chahue in Huatulco.  I took my papers to the marina office yesterday and 10 minutes later I was all done.

I am also thankful to Rolf at Marina Chiapas for pointing out that I could get a Zarpe to my final destination in Mexico, alleviating me of having to get a wed one at every port.

Let me in, Let me out.  OK It is a bit monotonous, but then I had just gotten over an infatuation with a woman named Tala. Oh Tala.

Coming UP
Crossing the T thing

 

 

Fueled, Oiled and Ready to Go

I know I am skipping ahead here. Last you heard I was somewhere up a creek in Costa RIca.

Well, I will write about the trip to Mexico. It was a hard 4 days and 3 nights.  Cliff joined me for the trip and that’s the only reason I kept my sanity.

Dauntless in Mexico

It was literally one of those trips where coming and going were all uphill.

But I wanted to pot this while it was hot on my mind.  I got fuel today and changed the oil for the first time since Martinique.

Everything’s put away and tomorrow I tackle the T…. thing.

Here are a few pictures:

The Maretron data shows the list of the boat as I transferred about 150 gal of fuel to the port tank and then filling the starboard tank with about 300 gallons.

By the way, Mexico has been the best thing since Martinique. I think I will soon do a post of the best 10 places of 2017. Umm, there are only 2. Everyplace else will be on the bottom 50 list.

OK, the best 10 places of 2016 and 2017.  I have at least a half dozen of those.

Transferring fuel from one tank to the other
The data for the trip from Costa RIca. Look at the pitching (the graph on the lower left)

 

Barely

 

I Love Mexico

W’ere Finally on the Way to Mexico

After taking three days to Check-out of Costa Rica.

Sunset From Playa Coco, Costa Rica

And you think Vietnam is bureaucratic!

Stay Tuned

Track our progress at the link above that says, “Where is D Now?”

 

 

Oh, How I Miss My Navionics’s Charts

Costa Rica Day 3

Approaching C & J as the sun sets.
Don’t Do This at Home

As soon as my eyes opened due to the light thru my porthole.  I got up; it was time to get out of here. My night was not as restful as it should have been.  I was eager to get to the next stop which as I had read about on Active Captain, virtually guaranteed me an easy, peaceful, steady night.

I use Active Captain to search the best places for the current weather and sea conditions.  In North America, I find it indispensable.

I was so happy to get underway.  If you are going to be rolling around, you may as well do it while making miles.  I had a long day ahead of me, so I got going, before I made my Vietnamese coffee.

My Vietnamese coffee. The grounds go in the strainer on top of the cup.

Which will be another crisis looming in the distant horizon, the day I run out of Vietnamese coffee.  I really like it. I can make it very, very strong, almost like espresso, but it is not bitter.  At some point, I may think about importing it into the US.

But I digress.

It’s 06:30, I’m heading WNW to get around the cape’s further north and it’s a grey day.  With broken clouds, only a few patches of sky and rain showers from the previous evening’s thunderstorms lingering to the north and west.

I don’t mind the storms.  It all depends on the winds.  As

I approach C & J. Dropping the anchor now

long as the winds are favorable I’m happy.  On those days that I have choice as to leave or not depending on the weather, I pretty much only look at the winds. On a boat, the winds, speed and direction, are what makes a difference.  The boat is made to get wet, I don’t worry about rain.

Today the winds are light and while it’s a long day, it wasn’t bad at all.  As I arrive at my planned anchoring location, I am a bit perplexed because it doesn’t look like what I’d pictured from the charts.

Or I should say chart.  In one of the more bizarre aspects of my mind, I’ll make a plan and then when it comes time to execute, forget the main reason I made the plan in the first place. I can only chuckle.

In this case, for the last 4 years, I make it a rule to always have two electronic charts available.  The primary is on the boat’s computer and runs with Coastal Explorer, my navigation program.  I’m running C-Map (ex-Jeppesen) charts mainly because they are the most cost effective for world-wide coverage.

This is the Navionics Depiction that i DID NOT have available. Dumb ME. Notice it marks more rocks and the power line better

My secondary is Navionics running on my tablet. Also, extremely cost effective for tablets.

Except I left my tablet, who was dying from battery failure in Viet man, planning on getting a cheap tablet while in NYC.  But then I decided while in NYC to save a few pennies, since I’m only spending thousands of dollars a month on Dauntless.

I forgot about my Navionics charts.

Until now. At some point, I will do a review of the two charts, C-Map versus Navionics, but now, I just missed the other’s perspective.

Just then with the sun setting, a small open boat comes by and I decide to overcome my shyness and ask in my crappy Spanish for his recommendation for a good anchoring spot.

I do and he does.  I follow him about a quarter of a mile and he puts me on the spot.

In 26 feet of water I put out the anchor and snubber (I always use a snubber bridle, that takes the chain load off the bow pulpit and puts it to the bow hawse pipes and cleats).

This spot was ideal.  Even with the slight current, the boat felt like it was on land. It would slide around 90° every 6 hours, but the movement was not even noticeable.

I stayed here two nights.  In the 12 overnight hours, the boat moved 0.01 nm; the previous night, the boat moved (while on anchor) 1.7 nm!

I slept 10 hours straight and spent the next day doing more cleaning, organizing and minor stuff.

 

Day 3 Summary: Engine Start 06:20, stop 18:07; uw 11:39, 78.1 nm, avg speed 6.7 kt. Average Roll while underway, +7° to -9°, delta of 16°; extreme rolls delta 20° (not bad, half of what it was crossing the Atlantic)

Anchored off Isla Cedros & Jesusita in 26 feet water with 120’ of chain out.

 

A Long Day & Longer Night

Central America Cruise Summary Day 2

My Trip on the First Day

Tuesday, 18 July.  After waking up so many times I stopped counting, I was glad to see the dawn so I could get out of this spot.  Now I’ll tell you why:

I had gone to bed by 20:00 hours, having spent more than an hour futzing with anchors and snubbers.

Dauntless was as disheveled as ever.  I had to clear a line thru containers and chairs that had moved around the salon. The stern deck was a mess also.

Coming into my first anchorage

When I first put out the bow anchor, it was obvious the Krogen would not lie into the wind, but perpendicular to it.  Probably caused by currents in the bay, but it made the rolling even worse than it had been the previous 12 hours. But the next anchorage was 35 miles away, another 7 hours. I could not go on, I had to make this work.

First, I tried attaching the snubber like to the midships cleat instead of the bow as is normal. I also put out another 50 feet of chain after the snubber. My idea was to put some pressure on the side of the boat to try to hold it into the waves better. (This may have worked better had I connected it to the stern).

An hour later, I realized this was not working.  I started the engine briefly to get us into the waves, then threw out the stern anchor on short scope, hoping this would hold us in the right direction.

For about 15 minutes it seems to significantly reduce the roll.  I had made a pot of beans, corn and hot dog.

My dinner

That was my no so healthy dinner, but as I told Trinh, I hadn’t passed any gardens today. Besides humans can live a long time on a single food.  It wouldn’t kill me to not have balanced meal for a while.

I tried to go to sleep, but the boat had this terrible movement.  There was a rolling oscillation that would get worse after about 4 rolls, then die off for about 30 seconds before doing it again. No way could I get to sleep with that.  I got up numerous times to see if we had moved. We had moved but the bow anchor was doing fine.

I decided to move the snubber back to the bow. That helped the motion a bit.

Then an hour later, hearing a big bang, I jumped up to make sure we hadn’t crashed into the small fishing boats about 500 feet away. No, we hadn’t. But I then proceeded to pull in the stern anchor as I thought it must be contributing or causing the unnatural corkscrew rolling of the boat.

It seemed to work.  Now we were just held by the bow anchor.  Still rolling around and swinging on the arc from the anchor, I decided to brace myself in bed and just not worry.  I’ve possibly only dragged once with this anchor, so go to sleep.

That I did by about 01:00.  As the dawn broke a little after 5, I was up.  I decided not to deal with the mess in the salon until my next stop. But within minutes I found myself moving containers, chairs, getting the restraining straps and bungee cords and making everything snug.  A sweaty 20 minutes later, it was all done and I felt so much better.

Looking at the actual winds, they were easterly at 4 knots, so decided to press on and get out of this hell hole.  Clearly, I’ve been in worse anchorages, the ones you must leave sooner rather than later. But this one was pretty bad.

Got underway, 342° at 35 miles.  Should be there in 6 hours.  No need for paravanes, as the wind is out of the east (direction of the coast, about 6 miles away) the seas are relatively flat, with just the SW swell at about 2 feet and 10 second period.

And the second day ended as well as it started. Oh, we had more anchoring follies, but isn’t that why we pay the price of admission?

Day 2 Summary: Engine Start 06:08, stop 12:00; uw 5:52, 34.3 nm, avg speed 6.6 kt.

Anchored in 21 feet water with 100’ of chain out.

 

 

 

Dauntless Starts Moving North

Central America Cruise Summary Day 1

The View from the Krogen Pilothouse as we head out

Monday, 17 July 2017.  Up at the crack of dawn. I had told Sergio, we were leaving at 06:00.  I hadn’t heard from him in two days, so… that normally means he changed his mind.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve corresponded with people who are so excited, over time and frequently, only to have them disappear or to tell me they have to wash their cat the day of departure.

So far, the score is 1, who turned up as promised to 7 no-shows.  Mind you, all these people contacted me first!

Chantal, the one who did show was great. Even left her alone on Dauntless for a week in the Bahamas. Oh well.

My friends who have joined me have all been great and they made the 2016 Cruise of the Baltic, the Baltic Republics, Poland, Sweden and Finland, so enjoyable.

I start with all this because it influenced my decision to leave, on a day that I simply should have stayed put.

I was anxious to get this show on the road. I was burning days and hadn’t even move a mile north, yet had almost 2000 miles to go.

So, when I realized Sergio was going to be a no-show, I wasn’t unhappy.  Being alone is actually far less stressful for me is many ways:

  • I’m not responsible for someone else’s life
  • I don’t have to feed them or explain how not to screw up the toilet
  • I don’t have to worry about them getting home safe and sound
  • I can run around in the middle of the night, as I did last night, checking on strange noises, naked.

Yes, many advantages.

I now use Windyty.com as my main weather source while outside the USA.

It indicated light winds, 3 to 5 kts, Monday, increasing a bit Tuesday and much more on Wednesday. Therefore, it seemed Monday was the best day and I wanted to go in any case.

But when I got up, I could see a large thunderstorm to the west and it had been producing strong winds and rain all night.  It was an extensive area, probably 15 miles by 10 miles.  I don’t mid traveling in such conditions, however this storm produced strong, 12 kts westerly winds.  Since I had to go west, then SW, then NW, that was not good.

And now I did what I tell everyone NEVER to do.  Never ever. I got fixated on the forecast, 3 kt winds, thinking the seas will be small.  Totally ignoring the fact that this storm had produced relatively strong winds, 10 to 18 knots for the last 12 hours.

As you see in the picture, I take off into this storm and immediately I notice 3 to 5-foot waves that I’m going into. Up and down we go.  I slow up to 1400 rpm, and press on.  I should have turned around and gone back to my peaceful, sheltered anchorage.  I didn’t.

Two hours later as I turn the corner finally getting out of the Bay of Golfito, to head NW, I discover a significant swell, from the south to southwest 4 to 6 feet.  Now the boat really started to roll. Of course, in my idleness, I did not stow everything well, in fact the salon was a mess.

I deployed one paravane stabilizer bird, then half an hour later, the other.

Fishhook Marina
A Great Place for Man & Boat

The roll was never so bad, only about 8° in each direction and the extreme rolls where just over 12°.  These numbers are half of what we put up with for 21 days crossing the Atlantic 6 months earlier, but still.  But having furniture roll around the salon is always disconcerting.

The ride didn’t ameliorate until the last 1.5 hours when I turned NE to go to Bahia Drake. An anchorage that given its’ 3-star rating was clearly over-optimistic.

Rolling Down the Road

Day’s Cruise Summary: Engine start, 05:52, stop 17:29; 11 hrs:15 min underway (uw), distance 62.2 nautical miles (nm), average speed 5.6 knots (kt)

 

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

I left the marina finally.

Just as i anchored it started to rain

Southern Costa Rica is like Vietnam, hot, 30° and humid.  Maybe more humid.  But that thought prompted me to check the latest obs from VVTS, Tansonnhat Int’l. Nope, their morning dew point is 77°, while it was only 72° this morning in Golfito.

My chart of the anchorage. The marks are where where my anchor is and the mooring ball

In any case, after the stress of leaving the marina for the first time in almost 4 months, it’s time to check and double check.

While still in the Caribbean, I had tried to use the generator.  It ran for a minute a then shut itself off. So, we had spent a miserable night before arriving at the marina in Colon, Panama.

I’ve planned on anchoring a lot over the next three months, so a working generator was no longer an option but a necessity.

Last week I tackled the problem, having been guided what to look for from a mechanic friend on the East Coast.

In minutes, I found the suspected problem, a bad connection to the exhaust temperature sensor, and set it right.  The generator than started and ran for 30 minutes, with load, no problem.

Saying goodbye to Fish Hook Marina

I was leaving in mid-afternoon, as much to save another $40, but also to get my sea sense back.  We were only going a few miles to anchor, so after a hot day, in the heat of the afternoon, the generator would be called upon almost immediately.

Not being born yesterday, just before leaving the dock, I started the gen for just a few minutes, just to make sure, maybe 5 minutes.

15:00, finally ready to leave.

But Sergio, who was going to be with me for some days, then told me he had to go home.

OK

Maybe a language issue? Certainly not the first time for me.

Then the guy on the marina is throwing off the dock lines. OK.  I’m sort of ready.

But what about the two pangas fishing 20 feet in front of Dauntless?  No problem, they were told to get out of the way. Slowly evidently.

Once the lines are off, I need to get underway.  My bow wave must have nudged them the last few feet,

Now, out of the slip and safely past the pangas, I look to my chart to check my route in and the depths.

But the chart isn’t on. Why?

Computer’s on, Coastal Explorer is running, but the magic “M” key is not bringing up the C-Map.

This kind of crap happens when rushed by other people’s schedules or perceived schedule.

I had put Dauntless in neutral not wanting to go in water I had no idea what was the depths.

Finally, I see the keyboard was turned off.  Easily solved, my chart comes up and confirms that my route into the marina was good and the one to follow out

I poke along at 5 knots in no real hurry. Just happy to have the sea under my feet again.

The spot I was anchoring in is a quarter mile off the beach in front of a friend’s house I meet on the bus to Golfito.  It’s a steep slope with a big 15’ tidal range. I can’t get too close, even though I have 35’ below me now.

I drop the anchor, it catches quickly like it always does (a much beloved Delta). It’s hot, very hot and humid.  I’m dying.  I put out 110 of chain on top of the anchor.  Then I realize the mistake I made. With the steep slope, large tidal range and 100+ feet of chain out, when Dauntless swings around (we’re now facing the beach) her behind may end up high and dry.  Not the first time, but I’m trying to have a year without a grounding.

I decide to throw the stern anchor in.  Oh, no stern anchor.  Must have been stowed for the Atlantic passage. Just then I see a mooring ball, just within reach of my short boat hook (they charge more for longer ones!)

I quickly grab the line from the mooring ball and put a short line thru it.

Worked like a charm.  Dauntless soon went parallel to the beach, but that was fine.

Now I’m sweaty, almost dead for the heat, stress and whatever else.

I turn on generator to get a much-anticipated relief.

It runs for one minute then clearly can’t handle a load. It putters to a stop.

I feel like crying.

I start it again, it starts, but with no power, like before. What changed? I asked myself.  Only I put the cover back on.  Could it not be getting enough air?

I take the front cover off, it continues to run poorly, then stumbles, then starts running normally.

I power up all the accessories, A/C’s, Inverter Charger.

For the next few hours, with the passing of every bird and fish, I think the gen is dying, but no, it runs steadily, until I turn it off for bed.

Now, the next test, how hot will the boat become without the A/C.  The water temperature is 92°.  I’ve never been in such hot water; the engine room never gets below 100° and that’s only with the Inverter and Water heater working there.

Dauntless hardly moved.

Just when I was finishing my shower, a peal of thunder overhead made me think that we’d run hard aground. I flew out of the shower.

It was only Mother Nature having a little chuckle before I went to sleep.

Spring Cleaning

Since spring happens once a year in most places, one would think that spring cleaning is a yearly event.

Though not on Dauntless.  With a surely, lazy crew, when I have even thought about a through reorganization, the look I see in the mirror is downright mutinous.

Of course, besides being, Master, Captain, Skipper, I am also the crew.

So, it’s no surprise that upon returning to Dauntless after my 3-month hiatus, it was time to evict the hitchhikers and other life forms.

I’d managed to go four years with nothing worse than the occasional fly or mosquito on board.

Well now the intrepid explorer has been put in his place by a bunch of roaches and a mouse or maybe two.

Dauntless in Golfito

Last week the whole upper part of the boat was cleaned and I threw away, I’m embarrassed to say about 8 trash bags, large ones, of crap that should have been thrown away eons ago.

I need a watch bird like that

Stuff like three copes of the bus schedule for the Waterford Bus.  Won’t need that for a few years.

The skills we learned in the pre-internet years, have gone by the wayside. A coveted bus schedule, or even a phone book could always come in handy.

Maps though. Only when we got Dauntless did I reduce my map collection.  How can I explain to someone who uses Google to get anywhere, how I use to have two or three maps of places and countries of interest? Balancing them on your knee, finding the quickest way, having to know when and where traffic was bad and hot to avoid the worst.

Even with this week’s boat cleaning, I had one small file of European maps.  My most coveted ones, that I justified in not throwing away saying to myself that the next time I go to Europe, I’ll use them.

But it’s not to be.  I put them on the dock and only later after the latest rain storm did I remember them.  In a normal environment, I would have dried them out, but on a boat, nothing dries out that is not already dry.  Into the dust bin they went.

Today, it was time to empty the engine room.  Well not really empty, but to take out all the things that are not fastened down.

The picture below shows the things stored in the back of the engine room, on either side of the generator.  It’s a lot of stuff.  Most of which I’ll never need. But it gives me piece of mind to venture far away or at least far away from the closest Amazon delivery.

It’s spare parts for almost all of the systems on Dauntless.  It’s plumbing, electrical (both 220v and 110v) and woodworking, parts, replacements and spares.  It’s what allows this 29-year-old Kadey Krogen to make its own electricity, power, water.  Just like a self-contained city, the only thing missing is snow removal; Oh, we’ll have that next year.

 

Putting out liquid Fires

Liquid Fires

This was quite spectacular because I have never seen office workers actually getting “hands-on” learning how to use a fire extinguisher to put out propane and liquid fuel fires.

They also watched how to deploy and connect the firefighting hose that are everywhere, as well as outside my apartment door.

So, I thought you would you find this interesting and it is certainly applicable to boaters like us.

Opposite my Apt Door by the Exit Stairwell

The Videos below, show the following:

 Putting out Propane Fires

Propane

 Putting out Propane Fires

Getting Fire Hose (which is then used to fill tub for the liquid portion of the training

Putting out liquid Fires

 Putting out liquid Fires

What Happens if you run out of fire extinguisher