Crabby Lady

Three years ago, when I met Tee and her son Thien, in the hot, humid climate of SaiGon, it was far from Alaska as

Tee pulling in Crab

one could get, mentally and physically. But as I got to know the Vietnamese in general, and Tee in particular, it became clear to me that while her dream of America had no snow, sea nor glaciers in it, it was more a matter of not knowing the possibilities, than not wanting the opportunity.

Wrangell Alaska ended up being our home port for now because I wanted a small community that was close-knit and friendly, without the drama and BS that so often happens in the Outside (Lower 48). I also selected Wrangell after the high school principal spent 45 minutes with the three of us, talking about his school, his vision and how Thien would fit it.

He was the kind of school leader that I was, and I liked that. It was truly children first.

Tee and Thien shelling cooked crab

Of course, having a good harbor for Dauntless was important and that the Harbor Master could get us a spot within walking distance of downtown was the icing on the cake.

Tom, who I met on Trawler Forum helped guide me to Wrangell and his help and advice was so helpful when I knew almost nothing about Southeast Alaska and even know don’t know much more. And extra bonus was having Rod & Becky and Bob & Char, fellow boaters, who have been helping us fish, crab and shrimp. It was Bob’s shrimp pot that I had abandoned a couple of weeks ago, which added to my stress of getting it back.

And Rod & Becky it turns out have been to all the places I wasn’t to go in the coming years, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Of all the places I have been in the last few years, who knew that here in Wrangell I would find someone who has been on my path and could give much needed advice. (No need to check in there, but do this…)

Crab being steamed

But the real story is about Tee and how she has made her Alaskan and American life the best it can be. Thien also does his part; mostly be studying, wither schoolwork or for the SAT.

For Tee the idea of free protein overwhelms all other senses. She has spent hours trying to catch fish in the rain with no luck. At least we can fall back on crabbing. We have found a good spot, only 3 miles west of Wrangell, 30 minutes on Dauntless, to drop our pot in about 35 feet of water.

So, when Tee complains about the lack of a broadband connection or cooking in a small kitchen. I know it time to go crabbing.

And that’s where we are off to now.

Woronofski Island, Just west of Wrangell

 

 

 

 

 

A Humdrum Day

My tracks on Coastal Explorer in and out of Wrangell

As we returned to Wrangell Harbor after a day of fruitless fishing, but with 5 Dungeness crabs at least, I thought about how I was now an “old pro” returning to this harbor and dock.

Getting ready to leave the dock in Wrangell.

What made me think that? This was only my 7th time returning to this harbor and docking on this dock!

Seven times! WTF. Virtually everyone reading this who has a boat has docked at their home harbor more than that, hundreds, even thousands of times more!!

But if you have been reading this blog and following my travels for any length of time, you know I’m all about travelling. Even when Dauntless was ported in Waterford, Ireland, Huatulco, Mexico or Vallejo, California and spent most of a year or more in those places, I wasn’t cruising.  I’d leave the boat for weeks or months at a time flying to New York, California, Texas, Italy, Holland, Germany, Japan and Vietnam.

Even when we were home ported in Providence, Rhode Island, our trips were big ones, lasting the season, to Nova Scotia, then the Bahamas.

Therefore, since arriving in Wrangell at the end of August and the summer, we’ve done a half dozen day trips, which again is the most ever for any one port!

I miss Waterford. Still probably the best place Dauntless and I have ever lived. Great place for both the boat and me. We’ll return one day.

Looking out the Salon Window onto the Quay of Waterford, Ireland

I regret not cruising more while in Vallejo. That was my original plan, but it was not to be. In part because Dauntless was under a roof, the mast was down. This allowed me to do a lot of overdue maintenance on the mast fittings but precluded taking Dauntless out for a spin.

While I have substituted taught here in the elementary and high schools, I’m pretty much doing nothing. So, taking the boat out for a few hours (we only have 7 hours of weak daylight this time of year) is a treat for me.

I am in the process of organizing a YouTube channel, in which I will have all of my cruising videos of the last 6 years, but that will be a work in progress. I will start with Dauntless leaving San Francisco and coming up the coast to the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and finally Southeast Alaska.

Our travels in the Wrangell region so far
A beautiful sky and day in Southeast Alaska

 

 

The Day of Reckoning

Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks!

The morning of the departure. My CE navigation chart and Maretron data. Just started engine. A cold morning, 26F. Sunrise in an hour and a half

By Friday, the weather still looked good.

That evening, I told my crew, Tee and Thien, that they could sleep late. I could get off on my own, but they needed to be ready for action by 09:00 sharp and they needed to be prepared to spend two hours out on deck in the cold and wind without complaint. That was a deal they loved to accept because both like sleeping in on weekends.

We had the coldest weather of the year in these days, the temperatures being in the high 20’s in the mornings. I had already filled the water tanks of the boat just in case we lost the dock water.

Sunrise over the Eastern Passage and Wrangell Island as we are underway to retrieve our pots and anchor.

I also made one of my brighter decisions. I disconnected the water hose from the boat Friday evening. It took me almost 20 minutes to do so because it was almost frozen, so I was so glad i had not waited until the morning. I then decided that with the light winds we were having, there was no reason to keep all 7 lines on Dauntless.

One of my better decisions. As it was the lines were frozen and it took me a while to get the lines off the cleats. I left only two lines: a short stern line and a line that was tied my mid-dock to the bow cleat.

Saturday morning was dark and cold, 25°F, the coldest Dauntless has ever seen. The night before I had done my engine room checks, including turning on the engine water intake. I had also checked the oil and set the fuel feed.

My alarm was set for 06:30, but of course on all days of departure, I woke early and was up at 06:15. Time enough to make my usual cup of Vietnamese coffee.

Engine start was at 06:36. After last weeks’ mistake of not opening the engine water intake, I am back in the habit of immediately checking for water in the exhaust and I also ran down into the engine room to make sure there were no bad noises, smells or visuals.

Even with only two lines, it still took me 10 minutes to get the frozen lines off. I had to get some cups of hot water for the line on the bow cleat. But I was underway to Mahan Bay at 06:50, 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

I had two hours to think about the plan once we got there. I had thought that if for whatever reason, the shrimp pot floats were underwater, for instance if the pot had got dragged to deeper water, what would we do? I figured we would put out a fishing line without big halibut jig (a big hook with a 12 oz or 16 oz weight). We would troll back an over the probable areas. It turned out that I’m glad I had thought of this.

It was cold and dark, but we were on the way back to collect our gear. Just before 09:00 we were approaching Mahan Bay. It was a beautiful morning, just some middle broken clouds and light winds (see picture above). Tee and Thien were suited up and ready to go. I aimed Dauntless for the spot that we left the first pot and spotted the float right away, about 100 feet away.

Getting the boat hook ready, the boat was a bit too far away, so I turned to make another pass. This was seeming to be as easy as I had hoped in my wildest dreams.

As I approached the float the second time, I realized we were not as straight as we should be and at that instant, I realized that I could only screw up my perfect day if I ran over the thing and got the line stuck in the prop.

As I was having that thought, the float was along the port side hull, I kicked the stern to the right and put the gear in neutral, but it was too late.

Just alike that I had screwed up my perfect day by running over the float and getting the line stuck in the prop.

Fuck me. More appropriate words were never spoke.  How could I have been so stupid. I ran to both sides of the boat hoping to see the float, but nothing. Nowhere, no how.

I put the boat into reverse gently, hoping to unwind it. I immediately heard the float hit the hull and seconds later it was floating along the boat, the line still around the prop and ripped out of the float.

The Float we recovered absent pot

The line had been ripped from the float. Then we saw a little piece of the float, about the size of a tangerine, floating away. I went to get the boat underway to try to catch it, with hopefully the shrimp pot line still attached, but we lost sight of it.

It wasn’t clear to me if we still had the line on the prop or not. Now was time for Plan B.

Thien got his fishing pole. He let out a few hundred feet of line. Within five minutes we had a catch. Reeling it in like it was the most valuable fish we ever caught, it was our shrimp pot line. It was also clear that the line was still wrapped around the prop.

So, first things first, I wanted to get the pot on the boat. That done, with all of two shrimp inside, I now had to get the line off the prop.

Being able to hold on to one end of the line that is wrapped around the prop and shaft does make the job a bit easier. In this case, I asked Tee to hold tight and tell me if the line was getting tighter or looser, when I put the boat in gear. She couldn’t tell, even when I tried reverse.

I wasn’t sure if it was a language issue or simply she did not have the feel of the problem, so I decided I had to do it myself. But I also didn’t want someone else at the controls if I am holding a line that is around the prop!

So, I got enough slack on the line so that I could stand at the helm, with one hand on the gear shift lever and the other holding the line tightly with the line from the prop thru the salon to the pilot house.  I put the boat in forward gear, and I could feel the line getting a bit looser, at the same time, I could feel the prop rubbing against it.

I pulled harder on the line and it parted. I’m guessing the line cutter just in front of the prop on the shaft was able to put enough pressure to cut the line.

We were free and no vibration what’s so ever.

We headed for the second shrimp pot and it was just where I had marked it on the chart. Which does make me think that it was underwater when we were looking for it a week earlier. We snagged it, this time without any drama and it had four shrimp.

Thien ate them with gusto. 

The weather was beautiful, so once we grabbed the anchor line, we tied it off and fished for a couple of hours. We caught two flounder. They were dinner.

Pulling the anchor up now worked like a charm and we motored back to Wrangell in a much better mood that the week before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing for the Day of Reckoning

Yesterday, Saturday was the Debacle, Sunday the Plan was made.  That gave me five days to sort out the windlass and get it working again.

First thing I did was get out the Ideal windlass manual for my ACW windlass.  I had two issues:

  1. As we were hauling the anchor, it became more and more strained, until finally it just stopped with the current protection breaker activating
  2. The wildcat hits the top of the chain stripper on each revolution.

Now this windlass is 30+ years old but is built like a champ and perhaps if I rad the manual more often, it will outlast me. Because there in ALL CAPS was a warning that the windlass should only be used with a load in the clockwise direction.

My not so straight Chain Stripper

Oops. Because I had anchored with my secondary anchor whose rode used the starboard anchor locker, I would wind the rode around the capstan and use the down switch to rotate the windlass counterclockwise. I had worked in the few times in the past I had done so, but the anchor was never very deep. With a little tap on the circuit breaker protection switch, I could reset the circuit breaker button and the windlass worked fine.  I even test it, by lowering the primary anchor and letting a couple hundred feet out on the harbor bottom, which is between 10 to 20 feet under the keel.

Hauling it worked fine, except for the chain stripper being hit and therefore bent by the wildcat.

The diagram from the Ideal manual

The diagram of the winch also gave me the information that the top of the chain stripper must be exactly 2.5” above the plate of the winch to fit into the groove of the wildcat which is about a half inch wide. Mine was clearly 2 and ¾”.

An image from the Ideal Manual

In the same manual, I found an old picture, which seemed to show that the chain stripper was perfectly straight. That was enough for me.

So, first stop Monday morning was to the big boat yard next to the dock, Superior Marine Services. There, Tyler, who was the bronze and stainless-steel expert, took a few minutes out of his busy to day to help little me (He is one of those big Alaskans that towers over me, like a brown bear!).

He suggested the big press. I mumbled ok since I was clueless. After all of 5 minutes and about a dozen pressings in different angles and parts, my stripper was as straight as new.

And typical of Alaskans, he wouldn’t take any money for his efforts, even coffee money.

I walked back to Dauntless, installed by stripper and it fit perfectly. I then proceeded to pull up the hundred feet of chain I put out as much to clean it an anything else and my little windlass worked like new.

Tides, currents and sunrise were all set. Now, I just needed the weather to cooperate.

 

 

After the Debacle

While I felt good about having the common sense to abandon the anchor and not try to lift 125 lbs. of anchor chain and anchor more than 150 feet (50 ft of 3/8”bbb chain x 1.65lbs/ft x  + 40 lbs. anchor = 122 lbs. plus rode), I had a sleepless night.

While I wasn’t sleeping, I came up with the plan for the week:

First, I had to get the windlass working. It had an electrical problem; it had no power and lastly the wildcat was hitting the chain stripper. None of that was good.

Second, Wrangell only has about 7 hours of daylight nowadays. While the sun never gets very high in the sky in any case, I needed to maximize our chances of seeing those stupid little shrimp pot floats. They are only 10” by 5” wide. No easy to see under poor lighting conditions.

Third, even as we abandoned the anchor, I was looking for the shrimp pot float that should have been very near the boat. We spent 10 minutes looking for it with no luck. I was now worried that the reason we couldn’t find, notwithstanding the whitecaps and poor light, was that the float was under water, pulled there by the strong currents in the area. In the upper part of the bay, I didn’t expect the currents to be that strong, but in the opening to the bay, where we left the first shrimp pot, the currents could reach a few knots. In 320’ of water, with a pot on only 400’ of line, a current will drag the float under. Plus, even worse, with such strong currents and a light pot, who knows where the pot would be a week later.

So, first thing Sunday, I went to my navigation chart to check the currents and tides for the coming days. Coastal Explorer does make that easy. I had to find the slack current times that occurred during what daylight there was. I quickly realized that our options were limited. The viable days were today, Sunday Friday and lastly Saturday (7 days away).

Today was out since the windlass problem was not yet solved. Also, we were all tired. I didn’t want to have any more problems or issues, otherwise I may be writing about Mutiny on Dauntless.

Friday was a school day, but push come to shove, it was viable.

Saturday looked ideal with sunrise and tides. Slack time in Mahan Bay would be at 09:50 Saturday morning, sunrise is 08:20. Plus the currents would be with us until it turned just before 10:00 and then we could ride it home also.

With more than $500 of gear waiting for our return, I wanted to maximize our chances of finding it. So I told the crew we needed to be there by 9:15 to 9:30 giving us a good hour of slack or not strong currents to find our shrimp floats (I used the largest white fender I had for the anchor, I knew I would have no trouble finding it).

Subtracting the 2.5-hour cruise from 09:30 meant a 07:00 departure time. Yes, it would be dark, but my goal was to retrieve our gear.

The last part of this plan dealt with the weather. The winds had been strong 12 to 18 knots the entire day when we left the pots. At noon, it was not much of a problem, but as the afternoon, the clouds had increased, the day became even more grey and darker. With a little pickup in the winds, little whitecaps developed, which made it impossible to find any small white floats in a grey sky and sea.

A shrimp Pot Float

So, we needed a day with light winds and the less clouds the better.

I go to Windy.com for all my long-range weather planning. I still find it easier to use and I use it for the big picture in the long term. The weather models (I use the ECMWF) were consistent for the entire week and showed that Saturday was the best weather day with the lightest winds and the only non-overcast day.
That would work and I planned accordingly.

Next up, I would have to tackle the Ideal Windlass and get it working by the coming Saturday, the best day for daylight, weather, winds, tides and currents.

 

 

 

 

Lost Anchor, Lost Shrimp Pots, Lost Daylight

The week started ominously over some spilled rice. I had dropped about half a cup of rice on the galley floor. I told Tee I would take care of it and then I froze.

Sitting at the Dock in Wrangell.
White anchor on left is secondary. Primary anchor is on right.

Had I been alone, the dustpan would have come out and that little pile of rice would have been over the side before anyone knew what happened. But Tee was staring at me, which I knew not to be good.

The Vietnamese say rice grains are “diamonds from God”. I knew if I even reached for the dustpan, we would be talking disasters on the biblical scale. No. I stayed frozen.

Seeing my inaction, Tee took her two hands and scooped the rice right up, while grumbling in Vietnamese.  Just then Thien got back from school and Tee told him the story of how her bright husband, who seems to know so much about everything, can’t seem to do the simplest things.

Cruising South in the Eastern Passage. Wrangell Island is to our right (west). Notice on the Maretron display the winds are already 15 knots.

They laughed all evening at that and later added that reading too much causes stupidity. Now I did see some truth in that, as throughout my life, I have sometimes struggled with the simplest things, always thinking it’s more complicated than it actually is.

That was Friday evening.  We would go shrimping for the first time the next day.

Saturday started out unwell. It was a real litany of what not to do.

Sunrise is around 08:15, sunset 15:15, remember that for later.

We had just gone thru the coldest days Dauntless has ever seen, with temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. On this Saturday, our dock water hose was frozen. In what turned out to be the only thing I did right in this entire process, I had filled both of the water tanks on Dauntless in case we lose dock water. Now, the Harbor Maser here has his act together, as I noticed they had the end of the water line open during freezing temperatures, thus keeping the water flowing.

Our track having left the 2nd shrimp pot, the crab pot and now anchored

So, while water was not a problem, it still took some time to disconnect the frozen hose and put it away. Then, we spent 20 minutes trying to get the frozen lines off the boat. By then everyone was cold and miserable; at least I was. But Tee and Thien get excited about fishing, so our 2-and-a-half-hour cruise to Mahan Bay, on the east side of Wrangell Island, went pretty quickly.

Another boating friend here in Wrangell lent us a shrimp pot. We also bought one while on sale here in town, so we had two shrimp pots and one crab pot.

The plan was to put one shrimp pot in about 320’ of water at the mouth of the bay, the second further up the bay in about 150’ of water; lastly in the crab pot in about 40’ hear the shore. We would then anchor in deeper water, about 200’ and fish for a couple of hours.

Thien on the way to school Friday morning, walking on a frost covered dock

All went to plan, but a few yellow flags were already being waived and ignored by yours truly.

First, wanting to not have a departure in the dark, I did not start the engine until 08:45. Then it took 30 minutes just to disconnect the water hose and get the frozen lines undone. So, we were not underway until 09:15.

Running against the current, we did not get to Mahan Bay until 11:35, where we set the first shrimp pot in 320’. This pot only had 400’ of line and in a miscommunication between me and Tee, I wanted to confirm the pot was on the bottom before we released the buoy. Oh well, “the best laid plans of mice and men…

We motored 30 minutes up the bay and set our second shrimp pot. This one we did confirm that the pot was on the bottom and we had about 50 feet of line remaining to the buoy. We then dropped the crab pot just offshore in about 30’ of water and motored back to deeper water to do some fishing.

Tee only a couple weeks earlier having snagged a number of crab.

In one of my brighter moments, since we were anchoring in 160’ of water, I decided to put our secondary anchor down. It has 50’ of chain and 350’ of rode. My reasoning was why put the windlass thru trying to lift 150 of chain and anchor.

It’s now 12:35. We wanted to let the pots sit and fish for two hours.  Which we did, Tee caught two sole or flounder. (we eat everything we catch, even those ugly bullhead (sculpin) fish.

I didn’t even start the engine to retrieve the anchor and get underway until 14:50. Clearly a mistake. The wind had been blowing all day, blowing up the entrance to the bay at 15 to 18 knots. With no real fetch, no real waves, but enough to make little whitecaps. No problem for Dauntless but trying to find a little white pot buoy in a gray sky is another story.

But we were not even there yet. As we wound the anchor rode in, the winch started going slower and slower. Ut Oh. It had done the same thing a couple of months ago. The fix was so simple, I forgot what it was!!

In addition, the wildcat was hitting the chain stripper.  That certainly didn’t help. But after pulling in less than 50 feet of line, it totally stopped. I pushed the reset button on the windlass solenoid, to no effect.

I knew we couldn’t pull this much line and anchor in by hand. In August when this happened in 30 feet of water, it was hard enough.

Tee fishing no matter the wind and rain.

Now, because I read a lot, I had anticipated this for years. Both anchor rodes are connected to short lines in the chain locker so that if all the chain or rode is out, the short line can be untied or cut if need be. That’s what we did. I then tied a large fender to the line and wrote Dauntless on it. I told Tee we would come back next week to get it.

By now, the sun has set, and we could find neither shim pot buoy.

We cruised home in total darkness, getting a few scares as we passed the airport, in that lights look so much closer at night.

I knew we would have no problem finding the anchor, assuming I fixed the winch. But it had also occurred to me that the reason we saw no sign of either shrimp pot was because the current had moved them and therefore, in a strong current, it’s possible the buoy was being pulled underwater! In which case they may never be seen again.

I also felt bad that not only had we left our new shrimp pot; we had left the one we borrowed. I hated to tell Bob that I’d returned without his pot!

Coastal Explorer showing us back home finally after 19:00, 4 hours after sunset.

Losing $500 of gear the first time out was not my idea of a good time.

Maybe I do read too much.

 

Leave the Dance With the One You Brung

I wrote a story for the winter Kadey Krogen magazine, Waypoints.

People occasionally ask me why KK or weren’t you afraid? etc., so I ended up writing a story that was tryly heartfelt.

More than heartfelt, it distilled feelings that have only gotten stronger after 6 years and 25,000 miles.

In a few years, when we’re ready to leave Southeast Alaska to cross the North Pacific, I’ll fill the tanks and cast off the lines, with the knowledge that the boat is ready.

The question has come up again on Trawler Forum, so i thought I would post this and include the Waypoints story, which begins on page 6.

My story is “Leave the Dance, with the One You Brung”

 

Alaska, The Last Frontier

It was 50 years ago for me and still is today.

Dauntless in Baranof Warm Springs

This is my first time living in the Southeast; my last three periods of Alaska habitation having occurred in or around Fairbanks, the heart of the interior.

And the difference between the Interior (of Alaska) and the Southeast is pretty much night and day.

The intense cold of winter in the Interior has a finality to it that is omniscient yet can be fatal. I’ve been afraid at various times in the Interior. In the Southeast, it’s a sea life, certainly dangerous in its own way, but then I’m not afraid of the sea. At least not in a well-found boat, like my Kadey Krogen.

The people are somewhat similar, nice, helpful, but then and now, it just seems Southeast people are even nicer, friendlier and even a bit smarter.

Tee in front of the harbor. Town center is on her right, Dauntless on her left.

Dauntless, Larry, my oldest Alaska friend of 46 years and a stalwart crew mate on Dauntless these last 5 years, and I arrived in Ketchikan almost two months ago.  It’s been a busy two months!

Too busy to go into detail here and now, but as the winter sets in and I have time to take a breath, I’ll fill in the details.

Everything has gone to plan, even our cute, little wedding in Tenakee Hot Springs. I have hours and hours of video of the Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau and of course, Tee and Thien.

Tee on the helm. She is great at it.

The three of us have started the next chapter of our lives in Wrangell. A great little community of about 2500 people. I felt a lot of pressure to decide on the right locality and school for Tee and Thien. While I knew we would be somewhere in the southeast, I didn’t want to settle on the exact location until we had been in the harbor and visited the school. Thien has his last two years of high school to complete.

Tee and Thien enjoy crab and halibut (the gift of some friends)

I’m pleased to say that Wrangell High School could not be better, with a great staff and leadership. That’s not as easy to find as one would think considering all the money we throw at education.

Tee is getting used to living on a boat, having to manage our electrical load and crappy internet access. Thankfully, she is not as terrified as she first was whenever we encountered any waves greater than one foot. We’re up to about two feet now.

On the other hand, both Tee and Thien are fishing fanatics. We certainly are eating a lot of fish the locals would only use for bait. And they LOVE crab, so every once in a while, Tee does see glimmer of her dream life in America. Though I’ll admit that whenever “the dream” is mentioned, I sense a hint of sarcasm, that would make a New Yorker proud.

Maybe more than a hint, as she does her imitation of being on the toilet as the boat is rolling back and fourth!

Feat of crabs. We only kept the largest two.
Salmon head in Vietnamese Hot Pot

Breakup Sex

Quick update. I now have on my You Tube Channel the video that does with this blog post. It’s here Vlog 13 20190704 , The roughest 3 minutes crossing the Columbia Bar and the aftermath

Enjoy

I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.

The chart shows me leaving Astoria

Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.

Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.

After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.

My Route over the bar.

My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
  • Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
  • It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.

    The Maretron data showing pitch and roll

The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.

The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.

In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.

But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.

If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.

Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.

A great afternoon

I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.

But not quite.

Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.

I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.

But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.

As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.

A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.

Who can say no to that; not I.

Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.

By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )

It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.

A perfect night

You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.

 

 

North to Alaska

Follow me here

Looks like the winds will let ip a bit to get me out of La La land.

Dauntless has never looked so good or been so ready.

Here are some pictures of my new three way valve to change water tanks without having to go into the second cabin closet.

Btw, after careful measurement, each water tank is 100 to 110 gallons.

No wonder I’ve been overfilling them for 5 years.

Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks. 😄

Getting Ocean Ready

Just finished checking the rigging for the paravane pole and bird.

I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a month now. This is getting old. But I have vowed not to let myself be beat up any ore than usual.

I spent much of last week organizing parts. I thought I had only two types of hose clamps, stainless and non stainless, which I separated last year.  If only life would be so easy.

As you can see from the attached picture, I have essentially 7 different stainless-steel hose clamps and guess what, that large bunch in the back of the organizer all have stainless bands, but non stainless screws! That’s totally worthless. I wish I could be sure that that bunch was not Made in America!

My 7 types of hose clamps

And they are also organized now by the size of the screw: 5mm, ¼”, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm. this allows me to easily use the same size for any particular job, as opposed to discovering that the dual clamped sanitary hoses have two different sizes of nuts.

I’m now doing things that were not on the list, like measuring the paravane bird rigging.  When we left Martinique, 5,000 miles ago, I had the birds set to run 19 feet below the water surface. that’s 5 feet deeper than previously, as I finally realized that in larger seas, waves greater than 10 feet, the bird itself was being picked up in the rotor of the wave, negating much of its effect.

Stbd paravane pole with double loop proving a quick extra 10 feet of depth should conditions require it.

Since Martinique all has been good on that front.  Now, I made sure of the depth and also marked the poles. In addition, I re-rigged the extra line, so that I can quickly run then 10 feet deeper if the situation, really large seas, warrant it, without stopping or even slowing down.  With the re-rigging, I just have to take out a few clove hitches and the extra 10 feet is free.

Here is also a before and after picture of the driving lights. They are handy when anchoring in strange spots with other boats or mooring buoys around. I’ve also used them in dark, narrow, lonely channels. T

here have been a few too many of those.

My long term filter carton is a bit depleted. I have already taken out my last 6 Racor 2010 filters. I keep them in the engine room by the Racors..
I have only half a dozen Racor 2050 filters left for my fuel polisher, as well as a number of engine mounted filters, along with some water sediment filters for the water maker.
Driving lights off

 

Driving lights on.
I only use them for anchoring in unknown places or in narrow, but marked channels.

Chasing Screws

I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a couple of weeks. But the winds off the northern California coast are proving to be more persistent than the northerly winds off the Mexican coast last year. There is a blocking high pressure area in the eastern Pacific that just won’t leave. It’s certainly been there almost all spring. Doesn’t it realize summer is almost here?

One of the other manifestations of this weather pattern is the north east has been cooler than normal.  Let New York have the brutal hot and humid conditions they are used to and let me have gentle breezes.

This is all stainless except for that compartment of brass screws on the right. I’m holding a 1 Kroner Norwegian coin. It has a hole in it and is not magnetic, so it goes with the washers.

So, in the meantime, I am organizing.

I had wanted to put off this tool and parts re-organization until this summer when Ti and Thien are with me. I had thought that it would be a good way for them to understand what things are, where they go and how we use them.

Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.

During the last two months as I have worked on various projects on Dauntless, countless jobs have taken longer than they should because I can’t find the right tool or part. Admittedly, it doesn’t help that I have spent 20 minutes looking for a flashlight that I could not find because it was ON and my brain was not looking for something that was lite, no matter how obvious.

I have also spent 15 minutes looking all over the boat, for a part I had just found only to have placed it someplace. 15 minutes!  I knew I had put it someplace I wouldn’t lose it. Where was it? In my left hand!!

Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!

Crescent wrenches and sockets

So, a re-organization is necessary. I mentioned before that I had mixed stainless-steel bolts and screws with non-stainless. But I discovered I did not just have one tray organizer like that, but three or four.  I also found fasteners that I thought I had but couldn’t find.

Now, everything is in its right place.

I also had the problem of finding four 13 mm wrenches, but not the one 14 mm I was looking for. Now, I have a full set hanging in the engine room (before I just had the 13, 14, 19, and large adjustable that I needed for the fuel filters).

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle my electric parts. I know I have a lot, 220 v, 110 v, 12 v, but the 5 or 6 containers I thought I had has grown to more than a dozen.