A Perspective

Yesterday evening, the 5th of February 2015, as I gazed out the window watching the traffic flow along the quay of Waterford the realization struck me as to how much has changed in just one year.

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

Last year at this time, I had just returned from the Bahamas, had crossed the dreaded Gulf Stream, this time alone and was docked at my friend’s Paul house.

Now I had set up Paul and Chantal, my crewmate, as they seemed a very good match.  The problem was I lost a reliable crewmate and as it turned out, Paul got weirder and weirder and I still not understand what happened.

But Dauntless was in Miami to have a lot of work done in preparation of the upcoming Atlantic Passage coming up in July.  I had thought I had found a rigger and fabricator who would do the paravane stabilization system and I was waiting in very nervous anticipation for that work to start, as it was something that had to be done before our passage and they had given me a price I could afford, though I still had to manage my meager resources well.

So it’s early February, I had no help and all this work (buy, make, install) had to be done on the boat before we left and time was running out:

  1. Fabricate and install the paravanes,
  2. Replace current fridge and freezer with 12 volt system,
  3. Solar panels,
  4. Water maker,
  5. Replace the depth sounder,
  6. 12 v boat computer and 12v monitors,
  7. New navigation system and chart plotter,
  8. AIS transceiver,
  9. Replace one VHF antenna repair the other
  10. Get a life raft,
  11. Maretron system for environmental and navigation data,
  12. European, Canadian and Atlantic charts,
  13. Spare engine parts, alternator, injection pipes, water pump,
  14. 15 Lexan storm windows to make and install,
  15. Replace 112 bungs in the teak deck,
  16. Paint the cap rail, sand the rub rail,
  17. Get a bicycle,
  18. New Anchor
  19. Get my Captain’s license (handy in Europe)

 

Miami, behind Hopkins-Carter
Miami, behind Hopkins-Carter

And I knew even once all of this was done, we still had to cross 3,000 miles of the North Atlantic.

Now, I had been reading, reading and reading, asking folks stuff on Trawler Forum, but the hard part was actually deciding on this versus that.  Why that life raft and not this one.  As the time crunch got crunchier, it became easier only because it was time to shit or get off the pot, as my mother would say.

But even now, I look at that list in amazement and also proud that I, we, got it done.  It would not have happened without the help and support of some new friends.

In March, Richard (not me, another Richard), who I had met in the marina in Providence, came down from Rhode Island and spent a month with me doing a lot of different jobs.  I so appreciated his company and work and Dauntless still shows his efforts.  He also helped to get me focused and on track.

I had also moved the boat to a little pontoon just behind Park’s store, Hopkins-Carter Marine.  This also turned out to be a Godsend in that, when the paravanes were finally being built, I had a store one minute away that had all the extra things I needed every hour.

Finally the paravanes were done and I hightailed it to Ft. Pierce, where David spent two weeks installing the fridge, freezer, solar panels and water maker.

The rest of the work was done in the coming months as I returned to Providence, where in the last days before departure, Richard again came to the rescue and got my Lexan cut to size and then, finally, only three hours before departure, Julie and I finished installed the Lexan storm windows.

And the rest is history.

So, as I sit here in a warm cozy Kadey Krogen a year later, I’m in Europe, our goal of the last 7 years, the worst problem I seem to have is that in sorting and cataloging spare parts and reorganizing everything, I’ve discovered that I have 4 soldering irons.

Even though we have a few more oceans to cross and many miles to go; it’s all downhill from here.

Life is Good.

 

 

Things that Go Bump in the Middle of the Night

Are Never Good.

This was written while recovering from an interesting experience.  One that I would hope not to repeat, but alas, one does not always get what one wants or even deserves!

The following was written July 18th, 2013 off of Jewell Island, Maine.

Just a few posts ago; I made the comment that learning takes work. So I had another learning experience last night.

Jewell Island Overhead July 2013
Jewell Island Overhead July 2013

The scene, I was anchored in the cove west of Jewell Island, there is also a spit of land to the west, making the cove about ½ mile long, but only 400 to 500 ft. wide.  The channel is considerably narrower and is probably less than 120 ft. wide.

This was my second night anchored in the same spot.  I actually stayed at this location because my anchor seemed well anchored.  Winds had been blowing 10 to 20 kts from the south, which is the same as the cove orientation (N –S).  I had about 90 ft. of chain out in about 6 ft. of water on a falling tide at this point.

1st red flag I ignored, about 12 hours earlier, about mid-way between high going to low tide, a sailboat anchored just to the SW of me and I asked him how much water he had where he was and he said, 8 ft., while at that time I only had 5 ft.  (I ignored it because I had been here for almost 24 hours already).

2nd red flag I ignored, there were 6 sailboats anchored in cove, spaced pretty evenly, and in line, but I was actually about one boat length (40 to 50 ft.) east of their anchor line.  But again, I had held well, so decided not to move a little more to the center (I was off center by about 50 ft.)

Line of other boats
Line of other boats

Just after dinner, I noticed a strong line of thunderstorms, associated with a cold front, moving from the WNW to the ESE just west of Portland.  Some spectacular lightning for about an hour.  Not knowing what to expect, but understanding there could be ferocious winds, I decided to start my main engine and stay up for the squall line’s passage.  Winds were strong, 20 kts out of the south and under those conditions, Dauntless seems to like oscillating between SE and SW, with half the time due South.

Much rain, lightning and then clearing skies right after.  The winds went calm. This was only a yellow flag. So about 11:00 p.m. I head for bed.  Anchor alarm set, I had it set for 80 ft., a little less than usual, (I usually use 120 ft.). I’m reading in bed about midnight, when I hear a noise, like a small bang from the deck above me (master cabin is forward).  But there was still some residual thunder around and thought maybe that what I heard.

3rd red flag ignored, Investigate all strange noises, immediately.

4th red flag…About 10 minutes later, my water bottle fell over.  What did I do? NOTHING. I figured I had put it on the counter too precariously.

Within about 5 minutes the boat like just fell over, listing about 25° I almost fell out of bed.  Hooray, I didn’t ignore this one.

I had trouble getting to the pilot house, felt like I was on a sailboat again. Dauntless was tilted to port about 25° increasing to almost 30° within 30 minutes.  I was too panicked to do anything about that though.  When I had grounded before, it was always symmetrical.  Clearly this time, I had some higher, harder ground right under the keel, so the boat flopped over.  I thought about what thru hulls I had on the now underwater port side, only the two head sinks. I went to close them and noticed smoke coming from the 120v outlet on the counter top. I felt the smoke, it was hot. I immediately turned off the inverter and then turned off all the 120v breakers. Smoke stopped and then I realized the outlet was half under water.

Went to other head, but no issues. I closed the thru hulls anyway.  Checked the bilge, thankfully no real water flowing, though some water was coming in seam under sink in midships head.  A trickle that was moving to forward bilge.

Finally, Dauntless seemed not to be increasing its list anymore. A few things in the galley went crashing, including a jar of instant coffee, which turned out to make more of a mess than anything else.

I took off what little clothes I had on and decided to walk around the boat, looking for any damage, on the outside.  Port side, my deck scuppers were just under water, there was only about 2 feet of water. Rudder seemed ok; prop was not in the mud, as I could turn it. (Did notice a nickel sized gouge in one blade), But at least the keel seemed to be protecting the prop and rudder.  Walked around stern, to starboard side, water here was about 4 feet deep.  Decided to use this opportunity to clean out two thru hulls that I thought may have been clogged for the last few weeks.  Felt good about that.

Crawled back into boat, dried myself off and wedged myself onto couch to wait to see what would happen next.  Low tide was just about here at this point, 12:45 a.m. at nearby island.  But now I had time to think. Who should I call, it was after midnight? I could call my wife, but then I would just worry her. I had enough worry for both of us.  I could call some other boat friends, but do they understand rounded full displacement hull shapes? I could call a few people who know Krogen’s, but then why wake them up? The situation was not getting any worse.  I could call BoatUS, but if they send someone out, they’ll just say let’s wait for the tide to return.

So I just worried. I was really calm on the outside, but inside I kept trying to envision the reason the boat was so listed and therefore what would happen as the tide started to come back in.  I remember reading a story of a sail boat in Alaska that was grounded in a similar way, but as the water came back up, the engine room ventilator came under water and the boat filled with water before it could right itself.  I started to worry irrationally that maybe the boat would just roll totally on its side. I realized that that would take some lifting force on the right side to happen and it made more sense that the port side would lift as the water came back and that Jim Krogen actually knew how to design a boat that would not turn turtle at the first opportunity.

I probably feel asleep for 45 minutes, and then when I awoke, I thought the list was the same, it certainly wasn’t worse and the tide had turned.  The beach was only 6 feet from the window at this point so every 5 minutes I tried to look at the same rock to see if there any difference.  About 2 a.m. I thought to download the inclinometer for my phone, did so, and measured a 25° list (I had guessed about that between 20 and 30).

At this point I checked the list about every 5 minutes and it was clearly getting better by about 1° every 5 to 10 min. Sure enough, by about 3 a.m. 2 hours after Low tide, the list was about 10°. By 4 a.m., it was close to normal and I decided to start the engine.  I did and noticed the exhaust was still about a few inches higher than normal, in other words the keel was still resting on something.

About 4:30 a.m. I decided it was time to do something.  I decided to not use the prop, just in case, but to use the windlass to pull me towards center channel. It worked.  Whenever the tension on the chain became a lot, I let it rest as the boat pulled forward. Once I could tell that boat was totally floating and had moved about 30 feet, I used the engine to move mid channel.

But now I had another problem.  I was surrounded on two sides by these dark sail boats that only had small anchor lights 50 ft. in the air.  A number of times as I tried to set my anchor, I was worried about backing into one of these boats. I thought that I better not make a bad situation worse by hitting another boat. So now was not the time to get giddy and make a bad problem far worse by hitting someone.

I took my time, shined my hand held spotlight on other boats a lot and 45 minutes later I finally got my anchor to set where I thought would be good.

I had good water and at 5 a.m. I went to sleep.  Getting up at 9, I noticed one of the sail boats leaving and I spent another 30 minutes moving to a better location where I was clearly in the middle of the channel.

Now, just after low tide, I still have 8 ft. under the boat, not 5.

In hindsight, besides the warning signs I ignored above, I think this occurred because since I had first anchored here, the winds were southerly, sometimes weak, sometimes strong, but pretty consistent, so Dauntless pretty much stayed parallel to the shore and although I was near the side of the channel; I was still in the channel.  Then, after the storm front moved thru, the winds went a little westerly, but then died.  I went to bed thinking that calm was good, but instead, it allowed the boat to move towards shore, without setting off the anchor alarm. The bow was still pointed to the middle of the channel, but my keel was now over the beach essentially.

Now, the boat’s all cleaned up and I’ll go to sleep early tonight.  I love this spot. I soaked in the water off the swim platform after cleaning the boat to cool off.

I think happy hour just started too.

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

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

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

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

I picked up a hitchhiker for about half an hour.

A Tern Takes a Ride
A Tern Takes a Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaving Nassau, Let the Shenanigans Begin

See How Unconscious Foresight Saves the Day

Image
Dauntless’ Last Nassau Sunset

Or as some may call it, plain Dumb Luck.

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

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

Image
This size bus

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

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

Image
School Kids

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

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

So it’s time to move on.

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

Image
Before Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image
Sunrise leaving Nassau

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

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

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

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

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

Dauntless’ Bahamas Winter Adventure Summary

A Summary of our Bahamas Winter Adventure

Image
Dauntless at Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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