Yesterday, Vietnam beat Qatar in the semi-finals for ASEA U23. I think it’s the first time Vietnam has ever been in the finals. It was a very close game and the Vietnam team kept on coming back each time they fell behind.
But I had no idea the town, HCMC, would go so wild. When Trinh asked if I wanted to go out and check out downtown, I said sure, I’m always up for an adventure.
These pictures and videos show the traffic, at a density I have never seen before. The main road we are on is a road I take a few times per week, sometimes at rush hour. The traffic is heavy and slower (10mph instead of 20 or 25mph!), but this gridlock, this number of motorbikes and people on the road was astounding.
I was also struck by the number of families out. It was clear from how people were dressed, that many had picked up family members after work or been picked up. Many, like Trinh, had gone home to pick up her son, Thien, after his after-school tutoring that ended at 7:00 p.m.
We only got about halfway to our intended destination, by then I realized it was more about the experience and not about the place.
The final will be Saturday afternoon. I’m sure it will be interesting.
On a side note. As a proud American and military veteran, even after 9 months, I still have mixed feelings of seeing the (North) Vietnamese flag flying. This night there were more than I’ve ever seen, hundreds of times more than on Independence Day. But in spite of that history, in all my travels around the world, the Vietnamese here in Ho Chi Minh City, (Saigon) are the friendliest to Americans I’ve ever encountered.
As I sit in my 10th floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, the People’s Republic of Vietnam this balmy January 2018, writing these words, I think back one year. I was in Martinique, in the Lessor Antilles, luxuriating in having just completed a harder than expected crossing of the Atlantic from North Africa to North America.
Vietnam wasn’t even on the radar and if it was, I thought it was a wave top. Impossible it imagines how different 2017 would end up.
So, how can a person who doesn’t have a clue as to where they will be in 12 months’ time write about planning?
And not only write about, but spend a good portion of every day’s waking hours thinking about The Plan? So much so that just a while ago, I found myself looking at the noonsite.com information about Taiwan.
Taiwan? wtf, he still hasn’t figured out how to get Dauntless out of Mexico, you’re thinking.
And right you are. So, I thought you would be interested in knowing or better understanding my planning process.
To understand my planning process, let’s look at my goal and some background information:
Long term, cross the North Pacific, return to Northern Europe & complete my circumnavigation.
Short term, spend a couple of summers in Southeast Alaska.
Near term, get Dauntless to California before next winter.
Dauntless is now in the wonderful little town of Huatulco, Mexico, in the little Bahia Chahue.
In 2016, once I made the decision to return to North America, I made an elaborate plan (published in some blog post last year) to transit the Panama Canal and cruise up the west coast of North America to SE Alaska.
Looking aback at the plan now, I stayed pretty much on time and on target, only transiting the Panama Canal a couple weeks later than originally planned, until Costa Rica.
Arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica in March 2017, the wheels then came off or a more apt description, I was beached.
What happened? A perfect storm of: local bureaucracy, my nephew who cruised with me since Ireland, had to go back to school and I met this wonderful woman in faraway Vietnam.
Returning to Dauntless in June, I needed to get moving north. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that I had visited in 2004 and had really looked forward to returning. But, it turns out, it is not really cruiser friendly. The few marinas are ridiculously expensive and the paperwork of checking in and out was cumbersome and confusing.
My newfound friend, Cliff joined me and we took Dauntless from Costa Rica to Mexico. Mexico, it turns out is everything Coast Rica isn’t. Cliff had to go back to work and hurricane season had arrived, so in reaching the wonderful town of Huatulco in August, I decided that enough was enough.
The Task at Hand is to get Dauntless from southern Mexico to California, 1800 miles.
Dauntless cruises at about 6.5 to 6.8 knots. thus a 24-hr. period is 150 nm. That’s the figure I use for planning. With light winds and small seas, then the planning exercise is about planning stops after a day of cruising.
Two years ago, in the Baltic Cruise, I largely ignored the weather and planned the whole 4,000-mile trip based on cruising days of 5 to 8 hours. Usually we would stay a few days in each town or city stop. But the pacific coast of North America is a whole different creature.
Climatology tells me that the winds are predominantly from the northwest (the direct I must go) 2/3’s to ¾’s of the time. I use Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas which has pilot charts for each ocean by month. Jimmy Cornell’s Pilot Charts also tell me the secondary wind direction and currents. June thru September is 4 months, 120 days. I figure that I will have favorable winds about ¼ of those days, or 30 days. I have 1800 nm to go divided by 30 days means 60 miles per day. No bad, about what I did in the Baltic in September.
But it also means that when the winds are favorable, I must make miles. The reality of seasonal climatology is best looked at and planned for over periods longer than a few weeks. In this situation, I can easily be stuck in port 30 days waiting for the winds. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a good period, 5 to 10 days of southerly winds. Depending upon where we are along the coast, it means we may do 48, 72 or even 96 hours to take advantage of our good weather window.
Now in this context, when I say “weather” I really mean winds and seas. I’ve left port on many stormy days. Rain, showers do not bother me, it’s really all about the winds and seas for my little Kadey Krogen.
The effect of head winds and seas vary greatly. 5 to 7 knots are hardly noticeable and may produce small seas, less than 2 feet. Dauntless will lose a few tenths of a knot under such conditions.
As winds off the bow become stronger, it all goes down rapidly from there. 12 to 15 knots produce 3 to 5 ft. seas, pitching become unpleasant and we’ll lose more than a knot of speed. 18 + knots are untenable from a comfort level. Too much hobby horsing and probably down to 5 knots, less with any counter current. This is what happened to me off the French coast going up the English Channel to Holland. We were making 2 to 3 knots in pure misery of pitching. Because of the conditions, I finally decided to abort to Ostend, Belgium. It took another 6 hours to go 15 miles. Some of the worst 6 hours I have ever experienced. The Kadey Krogen was fine, she takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The humans inside were not as happy.
What I took out of that beating was to more carefully consider winds and seas on the bow. A 20-knot wind from the stern is fine. We had 20 days of that crossing the Atlantic last year. Even 20 knots (and resultant seas) on the beam are ok. The paravanes are most effective with beam seas. Though I tend not to venture out in such seas if I am in port. 20 knot headwinds are untenable. Stay in port. If at sea, options are reduced, but probably a change in direction is warranted.
I use Windyty.com for my forecast winds. I tend not to look at forecast seas because the accuracy is seldom good enough to use in an effective manner. Though Windyty will give you the first, second and third swells.
Now when it comes to forecast winds, for whatever reason, the forecast winds are almost always understated, though I do realize it’s possible that I only notice the over and not the under. Thus, when winds are forecast to be 12 knots, that usually means 8 to 15 knots. If 8, ok, if 15 it’s a no go. So, in this case, I will use 8 knots for the Go-No Go decision.
From Huatulco to the Channel Islands, it’s only 1800 nm in three long legs. that’s basically the distance I did between Martinique and the Panama Canal. But with much more un-favorable winds and currents.
Top speed for Dauntless is about 8.5 knots, but it’s non-factor because it’s impossible to justify the double to treble fuel consumption for 2 knots. So, my effective (long term) hurry up speed is 7.5 knots at 1800 rpms and 2 gallons/hour. Thus, I usually keep it to 1700 rpms, 6.8 to 7.0 knots and 1.6 gal/hr.
In my next post, Planning is the Mother of Anticipation, I’ll discuss the Mexican coast, what options we’ll have, crew and hurricanes.
As I flit from place to place, I wonder what drives me. After all, crossing oceans, flying from continent to continent, costs time and money.
“Is it worth it?” I’ve asked myself that question many times, not only since Dauntless entered my life but well before it.
In the summer of 1970, I worked driving a cab in New York. Coming home day after day covered in sweat, dust and grime, in the days before air conditioning. But at the end of that long, hot, humid and dirty summer, having survived not only the weather and the traffic, but the escalating crime in the City, I took my money and bought my first car.
Of course, it was a car my father recommended. He was a master a virtually anything he was interested in doing and cars were one of his interests, so there was no thought of getting anything but what he pointed out.
Good move. My first car was ugly, like a box and battleship grey. And only a week after getting it, I packed it up and stated the long, 3.000-mile, trip back to the University of Washington in Seattle, with nary a thought. My attitude has always been If other’s have done it, so can I. Even then, the pattern of not stopping until late into the evening, running on fumes or taking “short cuts” was apparent.
I never thought I was particularly brave, in fact, I knew I was pretty shy and afraid of the dark.
But that didn’t matter because there was always something new to see over the next hill or around the next curve.
The 21 days on the westward crossing last December were very similar, yet so different.
I looked forward to the day, the sunrise. What clouds would we have today? Rain or showers? The sky always had something new; something I hadn’t seen before. In my first Atlantic Passage in 2014, I had tried to avoid developing rain showers or thunderstorms. But in a boat going 6 knots, that is a futile gesture. Even more so, this last trip, I looked forward to the cleansing rain. I also didn’t want to upset the boat. She gets in a rhythm, let here stay in it without any major course changes.
The only thing I never liked was blue sky. My two years living in southern California were the worst, blue skies every day. I almost died of monotony. Even now, on the boat, I see a building storm on the horizon and I can’t look away. I’m fixated, as if watching a beautiful woman get dressed, what will the final look be? But storms are even more interesting than people, because their lifetimes can be minutes or hours.
These days, visiting my friends in Italy and Holland, the first time seeing them since my Atlantic Passage last Christmas, I’ve been able to recount the story numerous times.
Many say how brave I am. But I know better; I’m not brave at all, I’m simply curious.
As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself thinking about its beginning. Lying in bed on the morning of the first day of the new year, 1 January 2017, I luxuriated in being on a motionless bed. I thought about the last month. It was only a month ago, that I was waiting for the winds to die down so we could leave the harbor of Rabat, Morocco.
30 days and 3,000 miles later, we were in the New World. It was a much hard trip than I had hoped for. Watching the weather for months before our eventual departure, it was clear that the trade winds blew strong and steady from Africa all the way through the Caribbean to Central America.
I’d been hoping that I could stay in the band of lighter winds just north of the trades. It was not to be. Within hours of leaving Europe and the Canary Islands, we got hit by easterly winds for 20 to 30 knots. I wasn’t worried about Dauntless, she was made for following seas like this, but it did occur to me that these conditions meant there was no turning back.
That’s a sobering thought. In the Mid-Atlantic, with such strong winds behind us, we had to head west one way or another. There is no turning back. 200 miles west of the Canaries, no matter the issue, no fuel, no water, forgot to turn off the lights at home, no matter; one way or another you’re going west.
On a somewhat related note, here are a few Delta Airlines commericals that I find very motivating:
While I’m cooling my heel in Vietnam; a great place to do so, while Dauntless waits for better weather to head north this coming summer and fall, I seem to hear the sirens calling.
The problem is, after having moved south and west for the last 12 months and 7,000 miles, passing west thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Central America, with Alaska, the Aleutians, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in our sights, the Sirens are calling be back with a distinct Irish brogue.
Your thinking WTF, what the F do you think I’m feeling???
I’m the one who put in the miles, the time, the big ass seas and certainly the money to get where we are.
Yet, I can’t watch a Harry Potter movie, an episode of Borderland, the Fall and certainly Jack Taylor, without missing Northern Europe, Scotland and Ireland. For my tastes, certainly the best cruising since leaving New England.
Is it nostalgia?
Or just the realization that in my last 20,000 miles of cruising, the longest lasting relationships (excluding Krogenites, of course) have come from the Baltic and the Celtic areas of Galicia, Ireland and Scotland.
Coincidence? or the Sirens?
I have a tendency to think it’s the latter. What else could explain my obsession with Europe, while I still have Asia and a few more oceans to cross at best??
So where do we go from here? I’ll do what I do best, think and plan.
To get this going again, I think I will post more pictures and let them speak for themselves.
Today, we stopped at a restaurant that looked good because it was pretty crowded just at the beginning of lunch (11:30).
Turned out that was a very good indication and in fact, it was certainly the best beef I’ve had in Vietnam.
The pictures speak for themselves. It’s basically 3 items:
thinly sliced pieces of cow from the cow that’s under the plastic in the picture. Rare, it was very good, very tasty. Greatly exceeded my expectations.
Grilled beef ribs (?) is what the menu said, but the bone pieces were very small. Extremely tasty.
Hot Pot that wasn’t, but is. This means that when Trinh ordered it, she said it was not hot pot and continued that line even after it arrived at our table. I really liked it as she did also. I never had a clear understanding of why it wasn’t “hot pot”, but then , what el
It did get me to think about how I provisioned the boat the first time in 2014 and then, subsequently for the westbound trip, 11 months ago.
It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, Dauntless was in Rabat, Morocco and I took a quick 10 days first ever trip to Japan. But that’s yet another story.
What food did we put on the boat for our New England to Ireland passage in 2014?
There are a number of factors that had to be taken in account and planned accordingly:
Dauntless, with its 700-gallon fuel tanks, 300-gallon water tanks and a Katadyn water maker, capable of making 160 gallons of water a day (24 hours), had the range to make this 2600 nm trip easily.
With a full-size refrigerator and freezer, we did not have to cover our eggs in Vaseline like sailors of old, but our refrigerated space was not unlimited. While Romaine lettuce will last two+ weeks, did we really want to fill our fridge with bulky lettuce?
The trip should take 26 days underway. We did plan on stopping in the Azores, but I didn’t want to be required to make that stop just in case. So, we would plan on having at least 30 days’ worth of everything.
Lastly, everyone asks what happens if the engine breaks and can’t be fixed or the propeller falls off or we get hit by a meteorite? Well, if the latter, no trace would ever be found, but for the former, what was the plan? Look at a map. Let’s say we were disabled in the middle of the North Atlantic, what would I have done?
Well, I would NOT have called the Coast Guard. If you call the CG, they come and will take you off the boat. Two problems with that plan:
Dauntless can leave me; but I’m not leaving her. My life raft is on the fly bridge. When the water gets to the fly bridge, I’ll consider deploying the raft and setting off the EPIR.
Despite what you see on TV, being rescued, hoisted off a boat in the ocean has a lot of risk for both rescuers and rescues. No thanks. Maybe if I’m in the lift raft, but not from a floating boat.
So, that leaves us with what was the plan? Propeller has fallen off and is now on the bottom of the Atlantic or on its way (FYI there is a formula to determine exactly how long something takes to settle on the bottom of the ocean. For a grain of sand, it takes more than a year, for a propeller, it’s probably a 6-hour trip).
The prevailing winds are westerly, from the west. Therefore, sooner or later, those winds will push Dauntless at 1 to 2 knots towards Europe. So, the one-month trip becomes 3 or 4. Not great, but doable.
That gives me my goals for provisioning:
One month of food that will be consumed.
3 to 6 months of foods that will most likely not be eaten, but is easy to store and will keep forever.
Only get stuff I like to eat.
So that was easy. In practicality, it’s like taking a trip to Costco and buying like you won’t, can’t, be back for half a year. That’s what we did:
Fresh food for two weeks
Freezer stocked with meats, pork, beef, chicken, all things we would eat at home.
Longer term supplies consisted of those items that we do like normally, but also will last practically forever:
Peanut butter, 2 large Costco sized jars
Canned sardines, 2 dozen tins
Rice, 10 pounds Japanese
Condiments, olive oil, etc.
Canned tomatoes, 24
Canned corn, 24
Crackers, dry pasta,
Dauntless cooks with propane. It fires the Weber grill and the Princess three burner stove. I’ve never used the oven portion, since the Weber does well if I have to bake something.
In hindsight, I had too much canned stuff that I normally don’t eat, beans and tomatoes come to mind. On the plus side, when provisioning for last year’s Atlantic Passage, I hardly had to buy any canned things, only some canned sardines from Spain. I’m still eating the peanut butter from 2014! I finally ran out of rice this past summer.
One also must keep in mind that you need to have protein that you like, keeps forever and is easy to store. One can probably live forever on peanut butter and sardines. Rice also keeps well, though I don’t eat very much, as it took me 3 years to eat 10 pounds.
Leaving Spain last year, I did have about 6 liters of UHT milk. I don’t drink milk, but I really like it in coffee in the morning, so this was something that really went to my peace of mind, though I could easily have lived without it. (I stopped drinking milk during the 6 months I was living on the Arctic Ocean on Ice Island T3. Never drank it again, as in a glass of milk).
In hindsight, the one thing I should have had was fishing tackle. Even though I don’t fish, it’s foolish not to have the capability if crossing an ocean.
But looking at our steak we enjoyed on Christmas Day, 900 miles from Martinique, I need to go find some red meat!
Most galleries are in chronological order. The date time group is also embedded in the file name. Please forgive all the redundancy. It’s always easier to take too many pictures than not enough, though it makes sorting after the fact a real PIA.
Also, should you see anything and have a specific question, please feel free to email me.
Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017
Richard on Dauntless
Dauntless’ Second Atlantic Passage
Four Legs from Europe to the Caribbean
Leg 1 Rota Spain to Rabat, Morocco, via Gibraltar to fuel up
50 hours total
Leg 2 Rabat Morocco to Las Palmas, the Canaries (unexpected stop)
4 days, 1 hr., 35 min
Avg speed 6.1 knots
Leg 3 Las Palmas to Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries, Fuel top-up
31 hours and 45 min
The last & biggest leg, the only one that mattered, the Canaries to Martinique
460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
The “Oh, BTW, you still have 2000 miles to go” leg, Martinique to Panama Canal and Mexico
460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
Same strong easterly trade winds; same large, mixed seas
Avg roll +13°/-09° ext 22°/-10°
Overall Winds & Seas
Conditions are Very Different than the North Atlantic
Trade winds prevent turning back
Constant wind speeds of 20 to 35 knots
Direction varied over 90° from NE to SE
3 wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
NE & SE wave sets, smaller, longer period
wave heights predominate 10 to 15 feet at 8 seconds
3 different wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
First week very disconcerting to have stern fall to stbd so suddenly every periodically
Since leaving North Africa, until the Panama Canal, more than 5,000 nm and more than 60 days underway, all but two of those days required the paravane stabilizers.
Entering the Pacific and turning northwest from Panama City, in the first four days we had no need of stabilization. They call it the Pacific for a reason.
Crises In the mid-Atlantic
What I did
What I now think I should have done (hint: Much Ado About Nothing)
Hydraulic Hose for Rudder failure
I was screwing around
What I did
First fix did not work
Spares, spares and more spares (but not the right fitting)
What I now think I should have done
Overall Summary of My Second Atlantic Passage
Considerably harder than I had expected
I’m still organizing the data, but the big take-away, is that the fuel consumption for the last two years has been about 1.5 gal/ hr. or a little above 4nm/gal
Average cost has run between $75 to $133 per day when I’m on the boat. Even during the most recent passage, cost was $104 per day, with fuel being $80 a day.
I’ve dropped my watch a number of times on my tile floor. A couple of times, the crystal has popped off. Just
pressuring it back on was simple.
Then, once the face also came off, as well as the minute hand. That took a bit more effort and thought to put straight.
Two weeks ago, I dropped it yet again, while thinking that I better not drop it, and this time the damage was extensive, it that all the pieces came apart.
This was not a simple fix. I tried; for days. Two of the pins were obvious. But there was smaller brass peace only a 6 mm in diameter that for the life of me, I could not get to fit. Worse, I was not even sure how it fit.
I took pictures, I enlarged those pictures. I tried to align the pieces as best I could be hoping for a miracle, that all four pins would just fall into place.
It didn’t happen.
I prayed. I begged. No joy.
I knew I could send it in for repair, but one thing crossing the Atlantic has done for me is to make me self-reliant. I don’t need no stink’in warranty center.
It finally occurred to me that I had to go back to basics. I needed to further take apart some pieces and then piece it back together.
That process still took an hour, but when done, my watch was as good as new.
Crossing oceans takes a well designed and built boat, enough fuel and food and most importantly, the confidence to get it done. Nothing else matters. Not the weather nor the seas nor how tired, bored, cold, hot or scared you feel.
On our first summer on Dauntless, in Down east Maine, after having been ensnared on a lobster pot line for over 8 hours, with help still 8 hours away, my partner turned to me and said, “no one is going to help us, we must do it ourselves”
Perseverance, in the face of very adverse situations, being bored almost to tears or dealing with unimaginably
stupid, selfish adults, has gotten me to many of my most important goals in my life: four university degrees, meteorologist, science teacher, high school principal, Dauntless and certainly crossing the Atlantic, now twice.
But it has also gotten me in trouble. Big trouble.
My life has always been about planning. Acting spontaneously is not me. Throughout my life, when I have acted spontaneously, the outcomes were not good.
So, it sounds simple.
Make the Plan; Do the Plan.
And this works much of the time, but not always. Why? Because while I’m not acting spontaneously, I end up following a not well thought out plan. Whether career changes, job changes or route planning, I’ve sometimes followed flawed plans to the “T”.
Now, not all plans have the same consequences. Leaving the U.S. Air Force to start my own business still baffles my mind. Yes, I was tired of the bureaucracy of the USAF, but the USAF is a model of efficiency, team work and everything else you can think of when compared to the New York City Department of Education.
So that decision, way back in 1987, ended up affecting my life for the next 20+ years.
Most recently, I had another occasion to change the plan. Abort so to speak.
The outlines of the Pacific Ocean Plan were in place before we even crossed the Atlantic three years ago. While always subject to modification, the Plan has two primary functions:
It focuses my thoughts to anticipate issues and possibilities
It gives me the confidence to persevere, to succeed, even when I get tired, bored, etc.
It’s hard to imagine, that in the original Plan, I would be in Yeosu, South Korea in this month!
Oh well, even the best plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.
Last year at this time, I still expected to be in the Pacific Northwest by now. One month ago, I still expected to be in Guaymas, northern Mexico this week.
Instead, Dauntless is in the wonderful, little port of Huatulco, Mexico. Just across the Gulf of Tehuantepec.
The crossing of the Tehuantepec was a good example of when to modify the plan.
So, as I left Chiapas at 08:00, alone, because my friend, Cliff who had joined me in Costa Rica to help me get Dauntless the 450 nm to Mexico, had had to return home. But the longest leg was now behind me and tonight next 6 weeks alone was doable, even if not my preference.
The crossing was long, 40 hours, uneventful, but also an eye opener.
Before leaving Chiapas, I had been advised my everyone, from locals to friends who had done it themselves, to stay within a few miles of the coast, just in case the winds pick up. It would only add about 20 nm to a 240-nm trip, not that bad.
The course directly across the Gulf is 284°, while along the coast it would be about 305°, so after passing the breakwater, I made my course 300°.
I then spent the next half hour dodging pangas and fishing nets. 260 nm at 6.5 knots is 40 hours. I immediately understood that I could not spend 40 hours dodging boats and nets.
I had been watching the weather for days, waiting for the appropriate weather window. Since the synoptic weather pattern that caused the Tehuantepec winds was also the same that caused the Papagayo winds which I had been watching for weeks. So, I was pretty confident that at I’d have at least 24 hours of light winds, then at the worst case, if they started to build, I’d have winds on the beam for at most 12 hours.
Being summer, those winds would not be as strong as in winter. Just like the North Atlantic, cold air can easily produce hurricane force winds in the winter. Therefore, worst case, Dauntless and I would have to put up with 20 knot winds on the beam for half a day. Not fun; but not dangerous either, at least not in this Kadey Krogen.
With all that in mind, within 3 miles of leaving the protection of the Chiapas, I changed course to go directly across the Tehuantepec. Needless to say, itw as an uneventful crossing. (Had it been eventful, you would have heard about it by now).
The Plan was to provision the boat in Huatulco and wait for a weather window to continue north. The more I waited, the more I saw my current Plan slipping away. Finally, I realized it was time to let it go completely. In talking to the Marina Captain and a dock neighbor who was heading south, it became clear that the next few hundred miles all the away to Acapulco, offered only one safe harbor, therefore I could not afford to stop as long as the winds and weather were favorable.
Picturing the pangas and nets off of Chiapas, I realized that my long thought out Plan was not feasible at this point. As I looked for alternative places to winter Dauntless, they were all much more expensive, like 10x more! than my present location of Huatulco.
So here we are. Robert Burns said it best:
“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry”