Third Time is the Charm, I Hope

Dauntless is ready to go.

As of Tuesday evening,  we are planning to try to get to Magdalena Bay, 130nm, tomorrow. Our third try in the last 9 days.

Though even at that, we will probably we stuck there for three days over the weekend, as another period of very strong (15 to 25 kts) winds is forecast to hit the area then.  But it’s time for new, less touristy scenery.

We’ll leave mid morning, as the winds diminish mid morning to late afternoon.
We had a few issues to deal with in the last few days, the most serious, a worn rubber “O” ring on the autopilot hydraulic pump.
With a new ring and a few hours of getting the air out of the system, we are good to go and better than before.
My Maretron weather instrument was off line due to a failed “T” connector.  After a couple hours hanging on the mast for dear life, that too has been fixed.

Lastly,  on my third trip to Costco in as many days,  the dingy finally appeared in front of my eyes.  On sale for only $500 delivered,  it was too good a deal to pass up.  Took me all afternoon to blow it up,  and then a day to fix the carb that was pouring gas all over the place,  but finally as i drove it to the fuel dock to fill the gas can,  I felt pretty good.

The New Dingy
So tomorrow we leave Dauntless in as good a shape as she has been in a long time.
Our weather window is not as open as I’d like,  but we simply must pound out the next 200 miles to get into better,  more favorable winds. Once north of Tortuga Bay,  life is better.
We’ll check out of Mexico in Ensenada and check in to USA in San Diego.

It’s then to my friend’s Mike and Adriana in the Oxnard area, hopefully by mid June.

Pancho, the 12-year old Sea Lion of Cabo San Lucas

Stay tuned

Pancho again, takes lift, waiting for a free fish.

Laptop Dead as a Doornail

My HP Envy Laptop died a few weeks ago. Add poor internet connections, so I have no been able to even write about the trials and tribulations of the last 4 weeks.

As yo can see at Share.Delore.com/Dauntless I’m still in Cabo, but am planning on leaving Sunday morning before noon.

But then I tried to leave last Sunday also, but Mother Nature turned me back and made me see the error of my ways.

I’m hoping she’s in a better mood tomorrow. If not may have to start sacrificing goats or pigs or something.

 

Return to Huatulco

I could call this, Mexico Just Works, at least this part.

The Bahias of Huatulco

As international trips of 3,000+ miles go, this was by far one of the easiest ever! 13 hours after wake-up at oh-dark-thirty, I was being dropped off at my hotel in Huatulco. Hotel Balcon Gueela turned out to be a really nice, comfortable place to stay while Dauntless gets her bottom painted. The sense of relief was palpable. Which got me to thinking, why such angst? I’ve travelled 24 hours to get to and from Vietnam, but other than relief that the trip was finally over, I never experienced fear before.

I’ve crossed two and a half oceans by now. I’ve spent a few too many hours being miserable, but never afraid.

HUX – Huatulco Airport

So why now, why this underlying angst in traveling to Mexico?  I’d been in a dozen of airports and train stations this past year. Why the angst now? When I arrived at baggage claim in Mexico City from my New York flight, I had 3 hours for my connecting flight to Huatulco. I assumed I’d pick up my bag, go thru customs and immigration, then recheck it for Huatulco.

That’s the routine at most ports of entry. But not here. Here upon arrival at baggage claim, I was approached by a nice, uniformed lady, who asked my point of origin and when informed it was NY, she asked to see my boarding pass with claim stub and pointed out that my bag was checked through to Huatulco. Duh. I travelled 90,000 air miles last year.  One would think I would have thought to check at some stage of this process, especially at the onset, when the bag tag was affected to my bag. It’s always nice to make sure one’s bag is going on the same trip as you are!

Though at that moment of check-in, 05:00, I was distracted by the realization that my 07:00 flight was really at 08:00.  The 7 a.m. time must have been the time I told myself to be at the airport. But somewhere in my little mind, that got fixed at the departure time. I had stayed with friend’s in Brooklyn to be close to the airport. I hadn’t slept that well because I had bad toothache (needed a root canal) and I was just nervous about he whole trip. So, I ended up leaving the house at 04:00, and was checking in, an hour later, having returned the rental car full of gas and taken the JFK tram.

So, another rookie mistake, not even confirming my flight time.

Why was I so nervous? The toothache certainly didn’t help, but still.

While there was no customs inspection (NAFTA?), I did have to go through immigration. But even this routine, simple task, seemed beyond me. First, I did not have the right form. I had a customs form, which I didn’t need, but was never given the immigration form I did need. OK, no problem, says the immigration officer, “go to that desk and complete form and return here”.

Five minutes later, he looks at my just completed form and shows me the bottom half I had not filled out. This time, he directs me to a desk closer to him, as I clearly need supervision, though more likely, he was just trying to save me time and reduce my frustration/confusion.

Third time is the charm. I get my requisite stamps and I’m off to the lounge to wait two hours. Airline lounges are pretty much the same, but I was nervous beyond words; looking over my shoulder constantly. Now, those who know me, know I am the most trusting person on the planet, possibly in the entire solar system. And naïve too, as my stint in the Bronx was to prove.

A couple hours later, walking down the air stairs, looking around at the quaint, little Huatulco airport, I felt a large load was lifted off my shoulders. The walk from the plane to the terminal, took about 4 minutes. During this walk, I noticed the baggage train was going to beat us to the terminal. My bag was on the first pass of the carousel as I walked in. I grabbed it, noticed a nice lady standing at a podium with a big sign that said, official taxis, walked up and she gave me my options for the 20-minute ride to Huatulco and my hotel. I could have a private taxi for $25 or go in the group van for $9.  I took the cheaper route.

Outside the airport. Just go to the stall number on your receipt ti find the right taxi or van. Mexico Just Works

The whole process, the entire trip from the time I got up at 03:30, left JFK to arrival at my hotel in Huatulco, could not have been easier. Everything was simple and in Mexico, helpful people always appeared just when you had that first confused look on your face. Mexico just works.

It was at that point when it finally dawned on me the reason for my angst.  What was that load that was taken off my shoulders? It was simply that I hadn’t been killed during my travel in Mexico. No, I wasn’t taking a bus through the countryside in the middle of the night, but clearly, I had been afraid. Not until I was in the familiar Huatulco, did I feel safe.

This was totally irrational, I’ve been in a million places more dangerous than the Mexico City airport!

Where did this fear come from? I’ve been thinking about this for a week now.

My “news” information is purposely limited, as I have come to understand that “news” is not as objective as I once assumed. Remember, I did say I was naïve. I had a bad experience with the print media as a high school principal in the Bronx, NY. The Chief Editor of this newspaper, told my boss, that he was directed to print a story that was nothing more than character assassination, meant to embarrass and defame me. I knew who wrote it, as it was carefully written, as to not be accountable to her, but then she was crazy and had no problem saying the most outrageous things. She wrote this kind of stuff routinely.

The end result is that I stopped reading the New York newspapers. So now, I only read the Wall Street Journal, Science News and sometimes the Guardian from England.

I certainly don’t read anything that purports to be “news” on the internet. In fact, once I discovered that there are numerous pictures of big ships in tremendous waves online that are photoshopped, I realized you can’t even trust what you see online.

Even though I avoid sensationalism, it was still in my mind that Mexico was this dangerous place that made me afraid, in a totally irrational manner.  So even a seasoned traveler like myself can get caught up in the hype with no sense of reality.  This was made all the more “unreal” to me in that my interactions with any Mexicans, in New York, the USA or even in Mexico! have been outstanding.  I’ve never had a bad experience. Ever. Can’t say that about almost any other place, even Canada (they can’t get it out of their heads that not every American has an arsenal of guns!).

And I never watch those weather shows with their drumbeat of death and destruction. Gimme a break. Get a life.

 

 

Some More Foods of Vietnam

Trinh is checking out the rice a the local supermarket by smelling each handful. Smelled like rice to me. Of course, she doesn’t buy it here, because it costs 12 cents a more than the local outdoor market or rice store.
Hot Pot at our “new” Hot Pot Place
Grilled fish (sea fish) at home
A Pho place in our neighborhood
A seafood salad at home
Chicken wings with rice and rot kohl at home
Chicken wings with vegetable and rice at homEvery

Here is a week of food I’ve had. Now, of course, in any category, it’s some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

 

Enjoy

Plans and Goals

One needs to have a good plan to accomplish the goal, but sometimes, life happens, plans change and maybe the goal too.

The rub is, it’s even easier to change the goal, then to make a better plan for the circumstances.

But changing goals is a slippery slope; so easy to do, but before you know it, you’ve accomplished nothing.

In 8th grade I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist. Seven years later, in my last year at the University of Washington, I hated school, I was bored and tired of not having any money. But unlike many of my college friends who dropped out, transferred or just disappeared, I persevered.

I had a goal to accomplish. Three Master’s degrees later, each one to further some career goal, I look back and am satisfied with the goals, though some of the plans to accomplish those goals should have been re-thought.

Dauntless has been in my life for 5 years now. Inexplicitly, it doesn’t seem that long at all to me at all, it still feels like yesterday or at least last year.

The goal to take a boat to Europe and then S. Korea is even older, maybe 9 years. That goal drove the search for the right boat. A boat that could not only cross oceans but do it in a manner that I could afford on my meager pension.

The original plan was to cross the North Pacific this coming summer and arrive in Yeosu, S. Korea by October 2018. Instead, I find myself agonizing over how to get up the Pacific coast of Mexico. The North Pacific seems further away than ever.

But the goal doesn’t change; though the plan must.

I now have some intrepid fellows helping me with the first and hardest, part of the cruise north. Having good crew can put a lot of wind in your sails. It also allows me further tweak the plan. Maybe I can get to San Francisco Bay sooner, rather than later.  Then, I would be able to spend some of this summer and fall cruising with good weather and friends.

So maybe some baby steps are in order for the next few years, but the destination remains the same.

 

 

Everything is Swell

In one of my recent posts I talked about my use of Windy.com and how much I like the GUI they have developed. It’s an easy way to look at the two-main worldwide weather forecasting numerical models, the GFS and the ECMWF.

The mid-Atlantic on 11 March 2018 as depicted on Windy.com

Almost a year ago today, I wrote the post “The Atlantic is a Harsh Mistress”.  This was my first reaction to the reality of what we experienced versus the anticipation of what I expected.

I had read so many accounts of boats crossing oceans.  Not having any experience, myself I was not sensitive to the subtle differences of the trade wind Pacific versus the Atlantic.

Hey, it’s the trade winds, characterized by strong steady winds and large, 15 to 30-foot-long period waves.

Easy Peasey, as Micah was fond of saying.

I’d just read an account of Kadey Krogen 42 doing the much longer passage from the California to the South Pacific and Australia. Their only problem was boredom and they ran out of Coca Cola. I wouldn’t have those issues.  Having lived in Europe on and off for years, I’d long ago learned it best to wean myself off American products.  And boredom, not when I had countless hours of Korean Dramas and a crew mate in Micah, who also liked them as much as I.

I still vividly remember leaving Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries to small seas and steady winds. After the first hour, I found myself thinking this could be an easy three weeks. An hour later, as the seas and winds increased, I deployed one paravane stabilizer, another hour later, I deployed the second. We stayed in that configuration for the next three weeks.

It was anything but easy. The passage was characterized by three wave sets (swells).

Swell are longer period waves that develop when the wind blows over the ocean for long period of time. Thus, winds and storms, hundreds or thousands of miles away cause swell.

The primary wave set or swell was from the east, the second from the northeast and the third from the southeast. The third had the longest period (time between waves) of ?15+ seconds. The other two, were on the order of 9 to 12 seconds.

On top of this all, were the wind driven waves. These waves are created by the wind at that location and if the wind stops the waves stop also. These waves had a period of about 7 seconds.

The result of all this was that we had 12 to 15-foot waves from the east, right behind us. My Kadey Krogen loves following seas, but what made it so difficult was the other two swells with different periods hat produced a corkscrew movement. Then every 8 minutes or so, the NE and SE wave troughs would meet under the stern of Dauntless and we would do this wild corkscrew movement with first the bow pointing to heaven and then seconds later, twisting down.

It was a wonderful corkscrew if I was on a roller coaster.

Here are some videos of the experience:

 

I love my boat so much.

 

In the middle of the Atlantic,15 December 2016. The Kadey Krogen flag is now in tatters.

So that was my introduction to multiple swells. Oh, I had noticed it before in the north Atlantic, but I attributed to “rogue” waves and it was not so systematic as in the trade winds.

The result was best described by some sailors I met in Martinique who had just done the same crossing. They called it the bathtub, because the water was so disorganized.

Getting back to Windy.com, if you open the page, https://www.windy.com/21.576/-45.264/waves?waves,19.746,-41.594,5

On the far right, you can see the vertical column where “waves, swell, swell2 and swell3” can be chosen.

Looking at this data today, mid-March, it’s also apparent why the best time to cross this part of the Atlantic is in early winter, as the when we crossed in December, at least all the winds and waves had an easterly component. Now, you can see that there is a swell from the northwest, that must be very unpleasant.

 

 

Vietnam & Americans

I’ve hesitated writing this post for months.

From the WSJ

Why?

Because I know how sensitive this subject can be for Americans of my generation. I didn’t want to offend or disrespect anyone.

Disrespectful to the American veteran who was put into a shitty situation thru no fault of their own and told to fix it, without the tools to do so. Disrespectful to those who lost life and loved ones. Disrespectful to those Vietnamese, who if they survived the war years, then had 20 years of a very hard life or if lucky enough, were able to flee with only the clothes on their backs.

So, what changed? Living on and off here for the past year, I see people, no matter what their background who are truly appreciate of Americans, like Americans and just want to work hard.

I’m watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Hanoi. Find it someplace and you can see in pictures and sound what I am trying to explain poorly.

I just got back from two weeks in the country for the Tet holiday.  Upcountry as some could say, in Quang Nam province, just southwest of Danang.  Simply put, Tet is about remembering the dead and living. Country living here is like living in the countryside in Europe 30 years ago or the USA 50 years ago.  Yes, that means we have electricity and cold running water, but everything else may be luxury.

Former ARVN (left) & VC are now the best of freinds. (He had just showed me the scar of the hole in his leg when he was shot by VC) We then both looked at her and everyone laughed. (it was a bit surrealistic for me).
The memorial to the father of Trinh sister’s husband. KIA during Tet 1968 while fighting with/for the Americans.

I was overwhelmed with the warmth of the people: friends, neighbors and family of Trinh’s mother and family. They would lend us motorcycles to get around. I was invited to every neighbor’s party. Everyone had to come by and drink with me.  I drank a lot of beer and my new-found drink, rượu nếp, which is much like Korean makgeolli (막걸리, but a bit less effervescent.

I think Dauntless needs eyes

Now, cruising here with Dauntless is another story. A complicated story for another time.

Trihn’s mother’s house and memorial dinner

The Plan Comes Together

So, after the two-week (for me) Tet Holiday, life is returning to normal. I was in the “country”. It wasn’t that conducive to writing blogs.

But I ate so well and the people are so incredible nice, former VC or not! It was both overwhelming and amazing, but this is a story for another time.

I think I finally have a plan to get Dauntless up the west coast, that I am comfortable with. Sometimes it seems like the plan comes together immediately, sometimes it takes a lot of time. The reality is that every plan takes a long time to gestate. Plans seem to come together immediately only when I’ve been thinking about them forever before putting pen to paper. However, in this case, I feel like I’ve been writing continuous plans since September, just to move Dauntless the 2200 miles to southern California.

25-Feb-18   2018 Option C  
07-May-18 Huatulco 0.0  Alloc 0 0  Running nm legs Hours in transit
12-May-18 P Roquita Island/Acapulco 1.8       5 49 5 245      245
15-May-18 P Zihuatenjo 0.8       3 37 3 110      110         355     355 61
18-May-18 P Caleta de Campos 0.6       3 27 3 80        80
20-May-18 P Cabeza Negra N 0.5       2 33 2 65        65
27-May-18 P Manzanillo 0.4       7 9 7 60        60         560     205 35
02-Jun-18 P PV 1.6       6 38 6 230      230
08-Jun-18 P Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas 1.4       6 33 6 200      200         990     430 74
20-Jun-18 P Cabo San Lucas 312 1.6     12 18 12 220      220      1,210     220 38
02-Sep-18 P Cabo San Lucas 312 0     74 0 74 0        –
12-Sep-18 P Turtle Bay 320 3     10 42 10 420      420      1,630     420 72
20-Sep-18 P Baja Calif Ensenada 340 2       8 38 8 300      300      1,930     300 51
26-Sep-18 P S.B. Channel Islands (SD +50) 310 2       6 47 6 280      280      2,210     280 48
13-Oct-18 P SF Bay 333 2     17 18 17 300      300      2,510     300 51

This assumes that the winds and seas are favorable only 25% of the time. E.g. it requires 74 hours (3 days) from  Manzanillo to Mazatlan, so I allocate at least 12 days to get there. Now, we understand that those 25% of times of favorable winds could take place in almost any combination. One day in four is the least likely, due to the nature of the synoptic weather pattern needed to disrupt the usual northwesterly winds. It’s more likely to be in chunks of 4 days out of 3 weeks or 6 days out of 5 weeks.

This means that I must have something I am not known for, patience. Even the word makes me cringe.

And even if I have a planned stop in XXX, as long as the winds stay nice, I need to keep moving north.

The intermediate places like Acapulco, etc. are possible stops if the weather turns unfavorable or whatever.

First goal is to get Dauntless to Baja California, preferably Cabo San Lucas or perhaps Ensenada, by mid-June. The fallback plan is to get at least to Mazatlán.  I have a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd that I’d really want to attend, however getting Dauntless north safely has to be my primary goal.

Once there, I’ll leave Dauntless for the two months in summer.

I need to re-arrange my affairs a bit and see some friends, so I’ll travel to Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco and Texas.

I also need to scout some possible locations in California for Dauntless for the winter 2018-2019. Cost and security are the primary considerations. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me directly. I’d appreciate the input.

I’ll then return to Vietnam for two months. I’ve accepted the fact that Trinh will not have a visa for anyplace this coming summer, so I’ll be working on 2019.

Retuning in September, I’ll spend 6 weeks getting her (Dauntless, not Trinh) to her winter haven in California.

This plan offers me safety in that I like traveling a bit off shore (as opposed to near coastal) and making the 2500 nm trip into chunks of miles and time that are doable, even if I have to do some parts alone.

I’d prefer to have some crew/help, 2 people, a couple, would be ideal, 1 or 3 would be good.

Tet – It’s Not Only a Holiday; It’s an Adventure

Yesterday as I was watching my girlfriend Trinh prepare the food at her grandmother’s grave, I realized how much my perspective has changed since crossing the Atlantic.

Food laid out at her grandmother’s grave

I accept a level of uncertainly, magnitudes above, what I would have been comfortable with even 10 years ago.

The cemetery is about 20 minutes from Trinh’s mother’s house, where we are staying these days of the Tet holiday. Trinh and her mother had been cooking all morning. Finally, they meticulously packed a large bad hat would sit between my legs in front of me on the motorbike.

We set off. I had been to the gravesite two days previously, so I thought I knew what was going to happen.  Upon arrival, I see the box of cookies we had left the previous visit. Obviously, her grandmother hadn’t eaten any. Yes, I was being flippant.

Incense was still burning; Trinh mentioned that her step-brother, must have just been here. I never knew she had a step brother, but what the hell, I’ve only known her for little more than a year!

Trinh proceeded to unpack the bag, which contained not only food, but plates, utensils, clothes and even money. When you’re dead who knows when you may need extra cash.

In spite of my flippancy, I really like, respect the Asian reverence for the dead and elderly. It was one of the differences (in my mind) between western and Asian cultures and a reason I became so attracted to first Korean and now Vietnamese culture.

After 15 minutes, Trinh was putting the final touches on the dinner. I watched as she meticulously spooned a little fish sauce seasoning on the two main plates, a tuna steak and a plate of sautéed squid. Looked so good, I thought it a shame to waste.  Knowing the Vietnamese don’t waste anything, I was surprised.

She poured little glasses of wine and water, giving the old water to the potted plants, and refilling the glasses with fresh water.

When everything was done, she lit the incense and did her little prayer ritual.

Then, just as I was thinking we were ready to leave, she started to undo all the work of the last 15 minutes by putting all the food back in the containers it had come it. Nothing wasted, even the little sauce, went back into its’ little bag.

(two short videos of her getting it ready, then putting it back)

Putting it all back

Surprised? Not really, more like bemused. After my first Atlantic crossing, I learned to not be surprised at anything. I also learned to not complain about anything. When I dared complain about the 12-foot waves, they became 18 feet.

Mother Nature taught me as only she can: Be grateful for what you have, because it can always be worse.

Oh, I can still be as miserable as I want or as the situation dictates, I just can’t express how bad it is. Can’t even think it, for who knows who is reading your thoughts nowadays.

Those three storms, each a day apart, in the North Atlantic in the last week of August 2014, re-forged my brain.

New Yorkers grow up in a culture of excellence. That’s because we complain about anything that isn’t top notch, price notwithstanding. As teacher, then principal, I took that attitude with me. I did what was best for the students and built the teachers into a successful team. I complained to the powers to be about policies and procedures that were not conducive to student learning. I was listened to. While we had a reform minded Chancellor, that was very effective; but as soon as that Chancellor left, the reactionaries returned and I was out within 6 months. My only crime was my naivety that results (graduation rate from 40% to 70% in 4 years) would speak for themselves.

Food, money, wine, water, clothes and of course money (in USD of course)

Dauntless was the crucible that helped me through that abrupt change in life.

Three years later, on the North Atlantic, heading to Ireland, this was the forge. I would become accepting of what is or else. Now, this doesn’t mean I accept just anything. More than ever it simply means that if I’m not happy with a place or situation, I need to not be there or accept that I can’t change it.

Thirty minutes after arrival at her grandmother’s grave, now, really ready to leave, I still had to ask, with a little smile on my face, but what happens if she is still hungry? Trinh answered deadpan, “she ate”.

That was that. I knew what we were having for dinner and it was quite tasty, though the tuna was a bit drier than normal!

The North Atlantic taught me not to complain; to accept. The North Atlantic opened me to the possibility to be in an Asian culture in which even when I think I understand, I don’t.

I watch, observe, but don’t judge. I assume I don’t understand the full situation at any given time. I keep my questions simple, where do you want me, when?

I never ask why. Like waves on the ocean, it is, what it is, could be better, could be worse. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else, but don’t try to change it.

Tet – It’s Not a Holiday, It’s an Adventure

Yesterday as I was watching my girlfriend Trinh prepare the food at her grandmother’s grave, I realized how much my perspective has changed since crossing the Atlantic.

Food laid out at her grandmother’s grave

I accept a level of uncertainly, magnitudes above, what I would have been comfortable with even 10 years ago.

The cemetery is about 20 minutes from Trinh’s mother’s house, where we are staying these days of the Tet holiday. Trinh and her mother had been cooking all morning. Finally, they meticulously packed a large bad hat would sit between my legs in front of me on the motorbike.

We set off. I had been to the gravesite two days previously, so I thought I knew what was going to happen.  Upon arrival, I see the box of cookies we had left the previous visit. Obviously, her grandmother hadn’t eaten any. Yes, I was being flippant.

Incense was still burning; Trinh mentioned that her step-brother, must have just been here. I never knew she had a step brother, but what the hell, I’ve only known her for little more than a year!

Trinh proceeded to unpack the bag, which contained not only food, but plates, utensils, clothes and even money. When you’re dead who knows when you may need extra cash.

In spite of my flippancy, I really like, respect the Asian reverence for the dead and elderly. It was one of the differences (in my mind) between western and Asian cultures and a reason I became so attracted to first Korean and now Vietnamese culture.

After 15 minutes, Trinh was putting the final touches on the dinner. I watched as she meticulously spooned a little fish sauce seasoning on the two main plates, a tuna steak and a plate of sautéed squid. Looked so good, I thought it a shame to waste.  Knowing the Vietnamese don’t waste anything, I was surprised.

She poured little glasses of wine and water, giving the old water to the potted plants, and refilling the glasses with fresh water.

When everything was done, she lit the incense and did her little prayer ritual.

Then, just as I was thinking we were ready to leave, she started to undo all the work of the last 15 minutes by putting all the food back in the containers it had come it. Nothing wasted, even the little sauce, went back into its’ little bag.

(two short videos of her getting it ready, then putting it back)

Putting it all back

Surprised? Not really, more like bemused. After my first Atlantic crossing, I learned to not be surprised at anything. I also learned to not complain about anything. When I dared complain about the 12-foot waves, they became 18 feet.

Mother Nature taught me as only she can: Be grateful for what you have, because it can always be worse.

Oh, I can still be as miserable as I want or as the situation dictates, I just can’t express how bad it is. Can’t even think it, for who knows who is reading your thoughts nowadays.

Those three storms, each a day apart, in the North Atlantic in the last week of August 2014, re-forged my brain.

New Yorkers grow up in a culture of excellence. That’s because we complain about anything that isn’t top notch, price notwithstanding. As teacher, then principal, I took that attitude with me. I did what was best for the students and built the teachers into a successful team. I complained to the powers to be about policies and procedures that were not conducive to student learning. I was listened to. While we had a reform minded Chancellor, that was very effective; but as soon as that Chancellor left, the reactionaries returned and I was out within 6 months. My only crime was my naivety that results (graduation rate from 40% to 70% in 4 years) would speak for themselves.

Food, money, wine, water, clothes and of course money (in USD of course)

Dauntless was the crucible that helped me through that abrupt change in life.

Three years later, on the North Atlantic, heading to Ireland, this was the forge. I would become accepting of what is or else. Now, this doesn’t mean I accept just anything. More than ever it simply means that if I’m not happy with a place or situation, I need to not be there or accept that I can’t change it.

Thirty minutes after arrival at her grandmother’s grave, now, really ready to leave, I still had to ask, with a little smile on my face, but what happens if she is still hungry? Trinh answered deadpan, “she ate”.

That was that. I knew what we were having for dinner and it was quite tasty, though the tuna was a bit drier than normal!

The North Atlantic taught me not to complain; to accept. The North Atlantic opened me to the possibility to be in an Asian culture in which even when I think I understand, I don’t.

I watch, observe, but don’t judge. I assume I don’t understand the full situation at any given time. I keep my questions simple, where do you want me, when?

I never ask why. Like waves on the ocean, it is, what it is, could be better, could be worse. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else, but don’t try to change it.

What I Need

As spring gets closer and closer, I’m watching the weather daily.  I know what I want, but the light wind conditions may only last a couple of days, while I need a week plus.

In the last weeks, the more I have thought of this, the more I am thinking of getting north as best I can, probably well offshore.

Offshore solves a number of issues for me:

  • I like the open ocean
  • far less fishing activities, like boats and nets
  • more sea room, if I need to run before the storm (this is always a consideation in my planning)
  • getting big chunks of distance done in a short time, 3 days = 500 nm
  • did I say I like the ocean

I like the GUI and data presentation of Windyty.com, so all the maps I show are from them and when I do look at weather, I look at them before anything else. This is what a great case looks like. How long it will last? Not long enough, but a few days, then with a low pressure system developing further west, would give me favorable winds for the second of two 3-day periods (the steaming distance between Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas is 900 nm or 6 days.

Now this looks great. Too bad it will last a day or two and I need 9!

This case though is far more typical, with NW winds >15 knots, even more so in the summer than now.

N NW winds = NO GO

What I’m Really Afraid Of?

Just when I thought I had the Plan, I read a story about drug driven crime spreading to the west coast of Mexico. Manzanillo, one of my planed stops, was prominently mentioned.

20180126 Win
dyty Depiction of Surface Winds

Where does that leave me? Besides the obvious, afraid!

Last summer I had a detailed plan to cruise up the coast of Mexico, stopping every night, hitting all the nice spots, with only a couple overnight passages. Let’s call that plan, the Coastal Cruise Plan. This is essentially what we had done 3 years ago in the Baltic.  I had even spent the last month alone, cruising from Stockholm all the way back to Ireland.

Last year, I had my nephew, Micah, with me from Ireland to Costa Rica.  It’s no coincidence that when he left Dauntless in March to go to law school, I lost a lot of my ambition to continue north alone. Cruising alone for me is not fun. It’s what I do when I need to get from A to B or as I did from Stockholm to Waterford.

20180126 NWS P_e_sfc_color

I am hoping that this coming summer, my girlfriend Trinh and her son, Thien, will have visas for Mexico. This is something that I must initiate this April when I return to Huatulco. If that is possible, they, with other friends who have expressed interest in joining Dauntless this summer, would make the Coastal Plan at least feasible. We would enjoy the numerous stops and towns along the coast, plus many eyes make for less stressful cruising.

A visa for the U.S. is another story and it takes forever. I’m hoping for 2019.

The Pacific coast of Mexico is not the Baltic and North Sea. The weather is not necessarily worse, but the predominant winds are from the northwest, the direction Dauntless must go. Adding to that problem, there are numerous fishing boats and nets and other boat traffic near the coast, whereas in the Baltic, there was none of that.

Lastly, safe harbors (protected from weather) on the Pacific coast of Mexico are few and far apart. North from Huatulco to Manzanillo, a distance of almost 600 miles, there are only two safe harbors. In a normal (for me) coastal cruise of 40 to 60 miles per day (6 to 9 hours), that’s 8 out of 10 nights anchored or in some port, at the mercy of the weather.

That’s a no-go.

For those of you who have read my precious comments about weather forecasts, you will know that even in the best circumstances, I don’t trust weather forecasts past three days and even at that I assume they are 50% off. That means, if the forecast is for winds from 270° at 12 knots, I plan for winds 240° to 300° at 8 to 16 knots (50% and 150% of forecast).

Therefore, to cruise an unprotected coast in any but the mildest of conditions is perilous.

I needed a plan B.  The Near Coastal Plan.

In this plan, we will take what the weather gives us. If we get four good days (favorable winds and seas) we’ll cruise until the weather becomes unfavorable. This potentially means we would take chunks of distance, 3 days, 24/7 is 450 nm. Making the entire trip into 4 chunks of 500 miles each, would get the job done and reduce time spent too close to the coast.

It would be far less fun however, but probably safer in many ways and less stressful.

Then came plan C, the Ocean Plan.

But first we talk to talk about hurricanes.

Hurricane season runs from June through October, with the highest frequency, mid-July to mid-September.

I can see an advantage in avoiding the high summer.  Looking at the Windyty depiction of the surface winds over the eastern Pacific today, you can see the big ass high pressure system that keeps the easterly trade winds over Hawaii (far left of picture) as well as the northwest winds over the west coast of California and Mexico.  Now, one of the disruptors of these winds are hurricanes.  The circulation pattern around hurricanes is far smaller than this massive high-pressure system, but a Pacific Ocean hurricane a few hundred west of Mexico, would cause southerly winds off the Mexican coast.

If it moved slowly north, maybe I could tag along??

It all depends on the situation and I’d have to figure out my escape routes, but it’s something for me to think about and plan for. It’s also significant that eastern Pacific hurricanes are weaker than Atlantic ones, with wind patterns not much stronger (if at all) than Northern Atlantic low-pressure systems in August and September (and I’ve certainly had my fun with those!).

Then the Ocean Route would entail an end around, running almost west, then curving slowly northwestward and finally northward, ending up east of Ensenada or southern California. With little winds, it would be an easy 10 to 12-day voyage, just like I did alone from the Azores to Ireland.  I’d only do this though if I saw the possibility of an extended time of light winds.

Also, time of year matters in my decision making. In the scenario just mentioned above, In May or June, I’d have plenty of time to wait or make it happen.  I may have different options later in the summer.

In September 2015, while waiting in Norway to cross the North Sea (I anticipated a 72-hour crossing), my weather windows were getting smaller and smaller. September is simply too late to be doing such a trip. But Sweden was so nice!

There had been strong northerly winds 25+ winds and driving rain, for days. I waited and waited. Finally, I saw a high-pressure ridge building into the North Sea from the English Channel, but this ridge of high pressure was also moving eastward.  But it only gave me a two-day window for a three-day trip.

Dauntless Crosses the North Sea 2015

I had to take it. It meant that I left my little port of Egersund, Norway, with 35+ knot winds from the NNW and rain. If you look at my route I took to Fraserburgh Bay, Scotland, those strong winds caused that dip in my route. Even with the paravane stabilizers, it’s just easier on the boat to put the winds and resultant seas on the starboard stern quarter. After 24 hours, as the winds died, I was able to head more westerly and on the third day, to the northwest. But that little longer route also added 12 hours to the trip and the next frontal system was right on, so my last 8 hours were in the weather again.

Would a longer, better weather window has come eventually? Sure. In the winter, under very cold air and high pressure. I couldn’t wait that long.

Dauntless in Ireland, next to a fishing boat with almost the exact same lines. There is a reason she handles the North Atlantic like she was born there.

When we decided to cruise the world or at least get away from the coast, we knew we wanted, needed a boat that that could all that and more. All the readings I did about boats and people cruising in boats all over the world, led me to Kadey Krogen.

Our little 42-foot boat was well built, extremely well designed for the worst of the worst and affordable.

Having Dauntless under my feet gives me confidence that she can handle any stupid situation I put her in.

Now, people are another matter.

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