It made me envious; I know, that’s ridiculous, but still.
Dauntless spent two and a half years in Northern Europe because I knew we would like it. The weather, the people, the cultures all, the food, fit my number one criteria of staying off the beaten track and living well as I did so.
That was expected. All the lands of coastal Northern Europe have a real seafaring culture. Every boat waves at you, especially fisherman. From Galicia in northwest Spain to the far eastern Baltic, it was a wonderful experience with minimal bureaucracy.
In those 2+ years, 20+ countries, 100+ stops, mostly in towns and cities, I probably spent less than 120 minutes on the formalities of checking in (Passports, boats documents, crew lists) and checking out.
No wait, there was no checking out.
The peoples, the lands, met and greatly exceeded my expectations.
Then, we headed south. 90% of all boats are south, mostly in the Mediterranean, you know, Italy, Greece, Turkey and southern France and Spain. Everyone wants to go there, so that’s a big Do Not Enter sign for me.
So, we headed south with low expectations. Little did I realize they were not low enough.
Prices trebled, temperatures doubled and bureaucracy was like a pig is slop. The first two stops in Portugal took the same amount of time as the last 100 stops of the previous two years.
And then it got worse.
In virtually every stop, 5 to 10 pieces of paper to sign to check-in; make sure you return tomorrow to fill out and sign the same papers to check-out. Don’t even mention the expense.
But you have read all of this before. Turns out Martinique was the high point of the entire Caribbean. It’s almost weird to say that they were the least bureaucratic. In fact, they were just like northern France. But that was certainly the exception.
So now, having endured all of that and more to get Dauntless a quarter of the way back around the world, I sit here with envy of Dirona.
But I realize it’s not Dirona I’m envious of, it’s being in the middle of the ocean.
I’m a traveler, so when I’m not, I’ll always be envious of those who are.
In October when we pulled her from the water, we found both old and new damage.
The new was from my second rock encounter in Finland. In the first Finnish rock meeting, Dauntless rode up the rock on her keel.
But the second one was more egregious in that I hit the side of the rock with the side of the hull that left a four-foot scrape in the hull which was deep enough to cause a hairline crack all the way through the hull. Me Bad.
So in looking to repair that damage, we also
found some old damage that had been repaired, but not well or not completely. How do I know? Because in the three years I have owned her, whenever it rained, I had water entering the forward bilge. In addition, the paint on the bulkhead that separates the forward bilge from the amidships, had peeled, since water was coming in behind it.
Both those issues have been repaired and even though Dauntless sat on the hard in the wind and rain all winter, only in the last days was she put into the shed for painting, the forward bilge has remained bone dry.
Now, the engine room bilge still has rain water getting in there, but I actually think that is as normal as one can expect in a 25-year-old boat.
I am also very pleased that everyone who has worked on the Krogen for the last 6 months has commented on the quality of: the workmanship, the design and the build.
I decided to paint the entire hull, since three years of docking was starting to show. And the incentive of a new, different for a Kadey Krogen, paint job will make me both more careful and thoughtful.
In the next weeks, I will enumerate the other jobs we, I have done for this coming season. That we have many, many miles to go, makes me feel even better about the preparation we are doing now.
The pictures show Dauntless outside when they had finished the bottom rehab, which meant repairing all the nicks and gouges, new fiberglass along the keel, gel-coat along the keel, then preparing the hull for two coats of epoxy and one of the tie-coat, which allows the anti-foul to adhere to the epoxy.
Well I suppose our Baltic Cruise did have other objectives, but let’s not minimize my fondness for morning baked goods, in particular Danish.
Now, you all know the capital of the Danish; no, not Copenhagen, but New York. And of course, we are talking about the morning pastry, not the people.
New Yorkers think they invented the Danish. That flaky, layered pastry filled with or with a dollop of fruit or cheese in the middle.
Never packaged in plastic, and not made from a lot of chemicals and artificial crap, that one gets in the rest of the country. Yes. It was hard duty living in places like Seattle, Denver and of course, the city with the lowest average annual temperature in the USA, Fairbanks, Alaska. But someone had to do it.
No our Danishes are always fresh. Places that try to sell day old stuff in NYC don’t last long; unless of course, they are in one of those “new’ neighborhoods, like Battery Park City, that is full people from west of New Jersey, who don’t know any better.
By the way, speaking of Battery Park City, this large deluxe apartment complex, built to the west of the World Trade Center largely on landfill from the WTC and other projects of the 60’s and 70’s. So during Superstorm Sandy, the Weather Channel had their goofy looking reporters in Battery Park City, watching the water rise to almost street level, as its inhabitants walked their dogs and babies, like every other rainy, windy day.
In the meantime, in Brooklyn alone, more than 500,000 people watched their cars float away in 8 feet of water! The water getting as much as a mile inland. Power in the Trump Village buildings, some of the buildings that made Trump senior rich and his idiot son think he “earned” his money just by being born, was lost for a week. Cars were left were the water dropped them for months. It was more than 6 months before banks and food markets were able to open again.
But since the Weather Channel did not show it, it must not have happened. This scene was repeated along the coast of Staten Island and much of New Jersey.
My point is that television seldom can give even a representative picture and never the whole story.
So, back to my quest for the Danish.
At $135 a day, this 120 day quest could have seemed like a waste of money. But, my attitude about money and Dauntless is simple: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. At least until after the fact, as my last post shows.
Our quest started in France, the town of Trebeurden. After the mile walk uphill, the offerings were a big disappointment. The little pastry places with coffee and wonderfully baked goods were not to be found.
Next country Belgium, Oostende, only 30 miles from Holland, but finding coffee in the morning was also not so easy.
Then Holland, Zuid Holland to be exact. Pastries much like I am familiar with both in NY and from 30 years of visiting the Netherlands. Delicately done apple and cherry turnovers, but layered far more than in the US. Also far less sweet than in the US and of course, made with mostly natural ingredients and not crap. Flakey, light croissants, almost as nice as the best of France. The coffee is also very good, and the prices are reasonable.
And not yet realizing how much I took for granted those Bäckerei und Konditorei would be open by 6 a.m. and always around.
Honestly, after three weeks winding my way thru the Netherlands, Holland, Brabant, Gelderland and Friesland, I was really spoiled. By far it would end up being the most convenient in terms of where the boat was and were the people were. I got very spoiled. Great pastries and coffee every morning. Always warm and fresh and costing not more than $5 to sit, drink a cup of java and enjoy at last one pastry (though I usually always got two).
Germany was next. Bäckerei und Konditorei. The western half, like the Netherlands, only slightly more dour, the people and the food. Not surprisingly, the eastern half, of the DDR, was noticeably more dour. Much like the dwarfs of Tolkien’s Middle Earth; but taller.
Poland was a treat in every aspect. The 8 days we spent in our four stops in Poland, were the absolutely best for eating. Morning was more about donuts and fried, filled things, but really good, really fresh, tasty and cheap.
Dinners were sublime. Every dinner was fantastic. Beef cheeks, pig ankle, herring tartar; all so exceeded our already high expectations. Prices more reasonable than lands to the west.
I had already planned a 2016 trip back, but Julie point out that Ryan Air would cost about a billion dollars less than taking Dauntless again.
Sad, but true.
After avoiding the Russian minefield, Latvia was next. We stopped in Liepaja and Riga, one of our goals for almost 10 years. Again, not enough time in a wonderful place. Riga was much as we expect, but Liepaja was a very pleasant surprise. Extremely inexpensive, one of the few Euro countries those prices did not rise overnight upon the birth of the Euro. The markets, both indoor and outdoor, were fascinating and full of stalls with berries.
More berries than you ever thought possible. In Riga, there were over a hundred stalls just selling baskets and buckets of berries of every kind. Tasty and cheap, after easting the berries of Latvia, you could never eat those cardboard tasting blue berries that are ubiquitous here.
Estonia was the last stop on the Baltic Republic hit parade.
More expensive then Latvia, but lacking some of the warmth we got from the people of Latvia, let alone the genuine warmth and friendship se experienced in Poland.
While the pastry choices were limited, the coffee was very good and they had a loaf of bread with butter and knife to cut bread, which was free for one and all. Right up my alley.
Coming up: Rocking and Rolling and Rocking in Scandinavia, I am Curious, Yellow and of course, Danishes in Denmark.
Well folks, as we get closer and closer to summer, the moss in growing under my feet, so it’s getting time to move on. As initially planned a few years ago, this summer will be spent in the Baltic. The attached picture shows the tentative route from our departure from Waterford in late May to our return in early October.
As planned, this voyage will be about 4100 nm with 72 legs spread over 130 days. A bit ambitious, but that’s us. While some of the major stops: Holland, last two weeks in June; East Germany, 4 July; Gdansk, 18 July; Riga, 24 July; Tallinn, 30 July & 15 Aug; Helsinki, 6 Aug; are hard wired in, pretty much everything in between is open and will be determined based on weather, seas and moods.
Our usual mode of travel is about 6.5 knots, consuming 1.5 gal/hr. or 4.2nm/gal (2 liters/km) so the total cruise will need about 1000 gallons, 4000 liters, of fuel. So will need to pick up about 300 gallons along the way, to get back to the UK, Ireland with near empty tanks.
Normally we like cruising one day, then stopping at the same place for two nights. By cruising every other day, it keeps the batteries up and in hot water for about half that time. I am in the process of putting the water heater and washer on the Inverter circuit. Thus we’ll have hot water on the non-motoring days.
For charts, I am using the Jepp C-Map charts running on Coastal Explorer, plus Navionics on my tablet and smart phone. I looking for some large scale paper charts to facilitate the long range planning.
Though we will have cell phone coverage most places, I will have our Delorme InReach running and on Dauntless 24/7 to keep a running track of our trip. I will also attempt to take better pictures, videos and document the trip better.
I really appreciate the postings of Dockhead and Carstenb on Cruisers Forum. Their information and enthusiasm about the Baltic have been contagious.
As always, I’m open to suggestions, but keep in mind that some places are locked and loaded and that no trip is ever perfect.
If anyone knows the price of fuel at the Brusnichnoye Lock on the Saimaa Canal, I’d love that information, but I won’t need to know it until the very end of July. That far eastern jaunt will probably be eliminated in any case, unless fuel is 33 cents a liter, as I do need to cut down some miles.
As I laid myself down in bed, this intense loneliness came over me. Hadn’t talked to any friends in a few days, and was reminded again that so far the only down side of this boating, moving home life, is being seemingly cut off from those close to me at times.
And as I’ve lamented before, even those close to me seem fewer, are fewer.
But then as I write this, being objective, I am forced to remember the wonderful times I just had in Italy: an abundance of time, connecting with those whom I have known more than half of my entire life, the true intimacy of friendship. People I can be so open with, because they have truly seen the good, the bad and the ugly in my life. But I wasn’t thinking of that last night.
No, last night, I had a terrible headache and just thinking about why seemed to make it worse, as it usually does. Especially since I knew it was due to drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate.
Then finally I said enough of the pity party.
I’ve just a wonderfully hot shower, I lying in a warm, cozy bed and I have enough fuel to go 2300 nm, 4000 km, that’s all the way to Nova Scotia, or north of the Yuzhny Island (Banana Island for those in the know), or the Cape Verde Islands, or the west coast of Africa.
The world is my oyster and I only have to open it.
So, give yourself a pat on the back and go to sleep.
And this morning the Lyric FM, a wonderful Irish classical music station,
Already the plan has changed; not significantly, but it will give me more time in Ireland.
I’ve realized that it makes more sense not to depart Ireland, until I’m ready for the Schengen clock to start (my 3 months out of every 6). Therefore, we will use April and May to explore Ireland. Julie only has the 10 days Easter break during that time, so actual cruising will depend up who is aboard.
To that end, I’ve also put a posting on Cruiser’s Forum, for a Crewmate/roommate/conversation mate for winter and spring. We’ll see, the winter months I don’t have much to offer, but April and May could be nice. I have a number of projects that need to get done this winter and realize I just work better, more efficiently, with someone to bounce ideas off, help pull wires and just be around to help.
I have a few friends who have expressed interest in leaving Ireland with me in June as we start our odyssey on the continent. We’ll see. Dauntless is pretty well booked for the high summer months of July and August, but by September 1st, I expect to be back west, in Denmark and will need someone to help me get the boat back to Ireland, via Norway, the Shetlands, the Orkneys, Scotland and finally Ireland by month’s end.
As I am in Italy for another few days this holiday period, today, the 4th, Befana starts. Every town had built a big bonfire, 30 feet wide, 40 to 50 feet high, that will be burned tonight to symbolize the burning of the witch. Even small towns. One of the pagan rituals that has survived Christianity. I wish I could see a satellite shot. Maybe I can find an IR satellite picture tonight, but it would probably need the resolution of a polar orbiting satellite, not the ubiquitous GOES.
But the real point of this story is that I get so excited talking about our future plans with Dauntless, 2015, but also 2016 and 2017. This is where I must manage my expectations, so that I do not take away from the present Baltic trip, because I am thinking of the Pacific crossing. On the positive side, by having a plan in the back of my mind, it allows me to refine and think of contingencies well before we ever execute it.
Currently Dauntless is wintering over in Waterford, Ireland, a wonderful town in the southeast of the country, full of really nice, interesting, outgoing people. Ireland has so exceeded my expectations, it will be hard not to return next winter, but we have six months of exploring and cruising before that decision must be made.
As of now, I am subject to the 90 days out of 180 days Schengen Visa requirements. Worst case, this means I can only be in the Schengen area for 90 days and I would then plan those 90 days to be 1 June to 1 Sept. There is a possibility that the Schengen area countries will offer a 180 day Visa in the near future. That clearly would solve my issues and I could stay in the Schengen area for April, May and September.
Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands are all out of the Schengen area.
So worst case, only 90 days,is once I leave Ireland in the spring, stopping in France and Belgium only for a week or so, before retreating to the Channel Islands. Then by the end of May, start heading east, first into Holland, then Germany ending up in Gdansk by mid-July, starting our Baltic explorations as described below.
Spring and Summer 2015 Cruise Plan
Prepare Dauntless for the cruising season
Depart for France/Belgium
Channel Islands, enter French Canals, Dunkerque-Escaut, in NE France or go to Belgium direct
France/Belgium or Channel Islands
Explore NE France & Belgium Canals, subject to our Air Draft of 4.5m
Head NE, Belgium, Holland and Germany
Find the most interesting route to the Kiel Canal, the Baltic adventure begins
End of July
Germany and Poland
Eastern Germany and Poland, Gdansk last two weeks of July