Things I Must Do on Dauntless

Upon waking up this Monday morning, as I was organizing my day, thinking about what I wanted/needed to do, I thought about this blog and what to write. I’d like to finish writing about the events of the trip to Vallejo. But as time passes, so does emotion of the events, making it harder to write about in an interesting way. Thus, the main casualty of losing my laptop for almost two months is insightful writing.

This morning in HCMC, writing this post

On my day’s list of things to do was also to refine my plan for the projects that need to be done on Dauntless. Specially, I want to plan, draw some diagrams, for those projects that I want to get done this September, when I return to Dauntless for 4 weeks.

So, why not write about that. It’s current and may be interesting to some.

I’m sitting in one of my two favorite coffee chops in the Bình Tân district of Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam. I come here when I want coffee, or a yogurt blended with orange juice, and that’s what I’m drinking today. The other shop I like, when I want a fruit smoothie, usually avocado.

I’m alone, so it’s a good time to write. My girlfriend Trinh (pronounced like Din), is working. Doing my three-month hiatus bringing Dauntless north, she expanded her sub-contracting job and now has 9 people working for her producing marking and ink pens.

Dauntless under cover in Vallejo

I can’t complain; I do like women who like work. Ultimately, my breakup with Julie was because she picked work over me and D. Why it will be different next time is not in the scope of this post, but one day I’ll write about it. I will say it’s more a cultural thing than a personality thing.  I’ll see Trinh later this morning and afternoon.

During the time on Dauntless, I started to make a list of the things that needed to be done on Dauntless at some point. I hate lists, as they remind me of all the stuff I still must do, but in this case, it’s needed.

Dauntless under cover in Vallejo

My biggest problem when cruising alone (in the sense of not having a long-term partner with me) is that when I arrive wherever, I’m tired. I don’t have the will or desire to sit for the next X number of days and fix, repair, replace, modify what needs to be done.

Of course, I’m fixing things that must be fixed, but no more. I may do some half-assed job just to get going, but I know I must come back and modify it.

One of the big attractions of the marina in Vallejo is that I am in a covered slip. I don’t have to worry about working in the rain or worse, in the sun. I’m looking forward to it.

My current list of projects includes everything that must be done before September 2019, once in Southeast Alaska. Obviously, some things are more critical than others, e.g. I don’t need the diesel heater until Alaska. Other things are conveniences, but on a boat, conveniences are important. So, one of my first projects next month will be to move my fresh water tank selector valve so I don’t have to go under the floor in the guest cabin every xxxing time to change water tanks. Along with that, I will also clean out the water tanks and reseal the inspection ports and install a baffle on the Maretron ultrasonic sending unit. This should be a day’s worth of work. If Trinh was with me, probably half-a-day, since she’s always busy like a bee. I’m more like a sloth, so it will probably actually take two to three days.

Here’s the current Dauntless Project List:

System Item  Problem/Issue/Goal Notes, parts? Est Completion
Engine Change Oil

R&R Impeller Cover

 

Been leaking for 2 years

 

 

Done 6663.88 hrs.

April 2019

H2O Move tank valves

Reseal tank fittings

Replace lines, one-way valves,

Check and redo all clamps

Place caps on Maretron tubes

Make external filter system for tank fill

September
Water Pump pressure switch Adjust ?
Mount Spare pump?
Transmission Real seal leak Check engine alignment?? ?? April 2019
Fuel Sight tubes Put LED strip behind tubes

Bundle wires on port side

Watermaker R&R Seals with kit

Add three-way intake valve

September
Generator Oil & filter

Install Battery

Check remote start switch

Install Perko switch to house?

Check Charger to Gen

 

 

 

Nice not to have to get out jumper cables?

September
Bow Thruster R&R broken gear Would be nice to use again, OTOH I’ve done wo for 3 yrs.
VHF’s ICOM 304 Internal relay?

Handheld

Chinese handheld

Send back to ICOM

Needs battery

Figure it out

September

April 2019

April 2019

Salon Hatches Add hinges to middle two Get someone who knows wood September
Outside Hull R&R rub rail

Touch up paint

Cap Rail refinish

With Stainless steel (CI Hbr) September

April 2019

2019

Ext Doors Touch up, Tung oil 2019
Fly Bridge Water ingress Where? Rail fittings? 2019
Windlass & Anchor Lube windlass

Re-mark Anchor chain

September

2019

Solar Panels Re-wire controllers, fuses, switches

Add array over dingy

Replace terminal blocks and fuse holder September
Purisan Controller corroded Return to Raritan September
Pilot House Electrical Add capacity Run additional cable, pos and neg from ER distribution Sept or April
Paravanes Get two new 28”, Use current as spares

Make holder

Reduce excess lines

April 2019
Boom Winch R&R April 2019
Mast Make New Bracket for Instruments

Get 25’ NMEA 2000 cable

Re-attach spreader lights

September
Diesel Heater Complete Wallas installation 2019
Hookah Face mask and compressor 2019
Hydraulic Fittings

Octopus Pump & Capilano piston

Standardize all fittings

Rebulid

Spare?? 2018 -2019

 

I’m tired just wiring this list. I think I’ll rest now.

 

 

And We Never Spoke of it Again

wpid-20150711_220602.jpg
The Tower in Ueckermünde

Just when you thought it safe to reenter the water…

Waking up in the now Polish town of Swinoujscie, I had two problems to solve; one more vexing than the other.

But first, let’s talk about Swinoujscie, gateway to the Baltic and until 1945, a German city, aka Swinemünde.  With the looks of an old German town, it boasts a certain charm, with a few modern touches.  One of those being an almost identical fountain in the main square to that of the Brooklyn Museum, that I had mentioned in a previous post, you know, the one that started out much like this one in  Swinoujscie, until the lawyers got involved.

So Swinoujscie, aka Swinemünde, became one of thousands of cities and towns in which whole populations were uprooted and “moved” at the war’s end.  Why because Stalin wanted half of Poland and therefore Poland moved west, but never fear, the western powers and the press don’t talk about it, better to tut tut about displaced people in third world countries, than issues they created themselves.

So on that note, let’s get back to our story.

As you recall from our previous episode, Dauntless limped into Swinoujscie, with her tail between her legs, well maybe not a tail, but a thin line that had wrapped around my bow thruster.

But I was determined to at least fix the autopilot.

If you have read our Atlantic Passage, you may remember that the autopilot was one of the most critical pieces on the boat and I had absolutely no spare anything’s for it.

Having Eve and Nigel onboard, did mitigate the loss, but even with three people, hand steering a power boat for long stretches of time is both boring and fatiguing.

Assuming there is no such thing as coincidences when it comes to mechanical problems, in other words, you change, add, replace any part of a particular system, and then that system craps out on you, there is about a 99.9% chance you whatever you did caused the problem.

So, I got out our hydraulic fluid and the handy fitting for the upper helm station and proceeded to run the system and turning the wheel to get the air out.

But little air came out.

At this point, I figured I better get serious, I got the ComNav book.

In the book I discovered a self-diagnostic the ComNav can run.  I ran it and got the ominous response “hard right rudder too slow”.

I could not find the bleed screws that were supposed to be on the hydraulic ram.  But I did not want to screw with the ram in any case, since it worked fine; it was the autopilot part that was not working.

I ran the self-test again.  Same result.

I went down into the engine room to look once again at the ComNav pump.  Maybe I could bleed it there. No, no fittings I could see for easy bleeding.

I took a picture of the pump, maybe the writing will give me a clue or I can better see bleeding screw fittings.  Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Run the self-test again.  No change, but I realize that while I can turn the wheel and the rudder responds as it should, in fact better than before with no groaning while turning it quickly, meaning I had gotten what little air there was out of the system, when I used the auto pilot control head to turn the rudder, it barely moved the rudder to the left (port).

Clearly the auto pilot was the issue, not the hydraulic steering itself.

I looked at the autopilot’s control panel.  A lot of green lights. So at least electronically, the autopilot thinks all is OK.

Back to the engine room to look at that pump again.  I crawl over to it.  I read both sets of labels on the pump.  One reads, “to remove the pump without losing fluid, close the thumb valves”

What thumb valves?  Those brass “T” handles that I occasionally play with, wondering what they do?  The ones that I had decided should be tighter, but not too tight the other day, while I was changing the main engine oil and in a moment of “let’s turn this and see what happens” madness??

I noticed the one on the left side was tight, the other two, one on top and one on the right, were close to being closed, but not tight.

Umm, could these be the valves that are to close when removing the pump?  And if so, should not they be OPEN now?

I have Eve use the autopilot control head to move the rudder, it now moves, not quickly, but better than before.  I open all three and she tries again.  Much better, almost like it’s supposed to.

We run the self-test again.  This time, rudder movement is normal.

I had changed the oil on the main engine a few days earlier.  So I was working at the back of the engine and it my spare time I was fiddling with those three T valves.  Sort of aimlessly fiddling.

So it seems my fiddling closed at least one valve and we had a few days of indifferent autopilot response, culminating in it not working at all.

The Innocent Victim
The Innocent Victim

Now all is fine. No air, valves open and the autopilot has worked better than ever.

When people ask me about crossing the Atlantic and why I like Kadey Krogen yachts, I say that quite simply I have never had a problem with the boat that was not caused my operator error.

We just passed 4000 engine hours.  That’s 2300 hours we have put on the boat in the last 28 months.

I’ve put 300+ hours since leaving Waterford two months again.

I have also been breaking down the cost of this trip during the last few days.  That will be the subject of a later post.

We love Dauntless because she never lets us down.  Now if only I could find a way to control that nut behind the wheel.

And we shall never talk of it again.

Coming up,

Leba, Gdansk and leaving Poland for the lands to the east

 

 

A Gaggle of Greece and Two Ugly Ducklings

It’s been an eventful few days.  Now into Day 5 of our 8 day Cruising Association’s 2015 Baltic Rally, having all those sail boats around keeps you on your toes.  The winds had been howling since Wednesday.  Therefore it was decided to remain in Kröslin until Saturday morning.

Dauntless in Ueckermünde with the fish boat restaurant to the left.
Dauntless in Ueckermünde with the fish boat restaurant to the left, not leaving me a lot of room for the U turn

But I needed to be in Ueckermünde, the next stop and our last in Germany, Saturday morning, as Ivan my dutiful crew member was returning to Italy that day and Eve and Nigel were scheduled to come that afternoon.

Therefore I decided to leave Friday morning in spite of the winds.

And they were howling, 25 knots, gusting to 38.  But at least, my position at the end of the “T” combined with the winds pushing me off the dock, made for a relatively easy launch.

Between Kröslin and Ueckermünde, there are two bridges with set opening times, a few times a day.

We got to the first bridge early, we had 45 minutes to wait.  After a few anxious moments, we got a line onto a large steel piling and made a bridle from the bow cleats.  Worked well and Dauntless kept her bow to the wind at about a 30° angle.  Easy Peasy.

We got to the next bridge, in spite of traveling as slow as I could, we still had an hour to wait.  There was a shallow anchoring area for boats waiting for the bridge.  Only 7 feet of water, (D takes 4.7 ft), but it was on the windward side, so that meant if the anchor did drag, we would at least be push to deeper water closer to the channel.  And the day’s winds meant there was virtually no one on the water except for us and two sailboats, one German and one Danish.

Dauntless flying the Kadey Krogen flag in Ueckermünde, Germany
Dauntless flying the Kadey Krogen flag in Ueckermünde, Germany

Anchor out; I also have an anchor buoy, which is attached to the anchor with a very thin, but strong Amsteel line.  Too strong.

An hour later, we weigh the anchor and get underway down the very narrow channels (much like the ICW in Georgia) towards Ueckermünde.

Arriving in the quaint town, my directions told me to proceed until the bridge, at which point one cannot go further and tie up along the wall close to the bridge.  Sounds easy; I was calmer than usual knowing Graham and Fay of the Cruising Association would be on the dock to help tie up.

As I come into the narrow part of the channel, towards the anticipated docking spot, I turn on the power to the bow thruster.  I try to minimize bow thruster use, but I will use it and would hate not to use it and hit another boat as a consequence of me being stubborn.

The 25 knot wind is now right on my stern. I know D turns well to the left and backs to the right, so I can usually do a 180° turn to the left within a 50’ circle.  With not winds that is.

I pull to the right as much as I can. But leaving room for the stern to kick out to the right and still miss the restaurant boat.

All went well, until about half way through, so now I was perpendicular to the canal,  the fish restaurant boat was just a couple feet from the swim platform, the dock wall just feet in front of us and the bridge, that effectively made this a dead end for us, about 50 feet away with the wind blowing us towards it.

Then the light on the bow thruster went off, which told me, it had blown the fuse.

I was actually unfazed about it, I try to minimize my bow thruster use in any case, just for reasons like this, and though the wind was now pushing me closer and closer to the bridge, it was still a boat length away.

Backing and filling like I have practiced many times, the Kadey Krogen with its large rudder swung her stern around quite smartly and we were parallel to the dock 30 seconds later.

Ivan on his last full day on Dauntless got us tied up and I thank the lucky stars for another good end to a stressful day with 25 to 38 knot winds, a narrow dock space and having to wait two hours for two bridges in winds in strong, gusty winds.

Now as for the 300 amp slow blow fuse, this had happened once before a few months after we got Dauntless. Then I did not have a spare fuse and since it powered the Inverter also, I had to resort to extreme measures. Don’t do this at home.

This time I had a spare, so I promptly found it and replaced the blown fuse.  I simply assumed it had blown because I had used the bow thruster for too long or continuously.

I had also changed the engine oil while in Kröslin. With Ivan’s help it went easily, too easily.

Ivan left on the train early Saturday morning, it was sad to see him go.  A great kid, and a real big help.

Eve and Nigel were there to replace him and I looked forward to leaving Germany on Sunday and entering Poland for the first time in my life and Dauntless’ too for that matter!

With a bit of a hangover from the night’s before bbq.  A comment about German bbq’s.  They are just that, meat on the grill.  By speaking to the cook in German, I even got extra meat.  Maybe too much meat.  Since there was virtually no salad or other fillers, I ate a lot of meat and washed it down with a lot of white wine.

Meat, wine and great company, one cannot ask for a better life.

So, the next morning Sunday, a bit hungover, but all seemed right with the world.

The fuse was replaced, the oil had been changed, and D was really for new places.  But one nagging problem.  Leaving Kröslin, having to stay in a number of narrow channels for hours on end, the ComNav autopilot did not seem up to its usual precision.  It was over correcting too much and also more noise than usual, usually an indication of air in the hydraulic lines.

So, we had a late morning departure planned for Ueckermünde and the two power boats would bring up the rear of our little gaggle of sail boats and the two ugly ducklings following behind.

The plan was to travel at about 5 knots which was the fastest speed for the slowest sailboat.

I knew it was going to be a slow day, very slow, in any case.  While Dauntless is not fast, nor even quick, she does like to travel around 6 to 7 knots.  Any slower and she starts to get ornery, below 5 knots, she gets downright rambunctious.

So I figured once I started the engine, I would be in no hurry to leave and would check the hydraulic fluid of the wheel and autopilot.  So we did, but discovered no great amount of air in the steering system, in fact virtually none.  That made me worry, if there was not air in the system, then why was the AP acting strangely.  The day before, even though I had it set on the highest sensitivity to keep us in the very narrow channel, it was not responding fully like normal.  As the heading drifted off, it was not correcting quickly.  On numerous occasions we had to quickly shut it off and hand steer to get back into the 5 mile long, straight as an arrow channel.  But then we would try it again and it would sort of work.  And then do the same thing.

So when we get underway from Ueckermünde, while I hoped I had fixed it, I also knew I had not done anything significant and this was more like a wish and a prayer.

Well we catch up to the fleet and now, the one power boat, Tudora, a beautiful maintained older cabin cruiser, came by to tell me I had a line in the water.

Now, I had remembered that a day earlier I had seen the small, thin line that is connected to the anchor buoy had fallen in the water.  I had forgotten to get it out and now, I was a bit embarrassed that another boat had to remind me.

As I pulled on the line, it was stuck; on what I didn’t know, but clearly it would not come up.

I pulled harder.  No change and it did not budge an inch.

I had a brainstorm. I fastened the anchor buoy to it and let it go.  I figured if it was stuck on the prop, it would trail behind the boat.  Now, I was sure I had purposely not had enough line for it to reach the prop, but then …

After a few seconds the buoy bobbed the surface; at amidships.

In a flash, it all came together.

The line had been in the water when I made my U turn.  I had used the bow thruster for a longer period of time, maybe 20 seconds versus just a few seconds normally.

The line had been sucked into the bow thruster, wrapped itself around the shaft, stopping the shaft from rotating and lo and behold, the fuse blew.

Sure enough, as I pulled on the line, it was clear it was emanating from the front of the boat.

Knowing that, I was not overly concerned, I don’t use it very often and now, my practice backing and filling would reward me, so in spite of my fellow travelers concerns, we’d be fine without it, until haul out at least.

What had made the day so difficult was that the autopilot was acting like never before.  In the past I had had problems, significant ones at that, with the compass connected to the autopilot.

I knew how to deal with that.  This wasn’t that.  That was the problem.

The last few hours, the autopilot went from bad to worse.  It was not even following its own commands.  This to me was a more serious problem. The end result was that Eve and Nigel had had to hand steer virtually all day.  The times we did try to AP, it would work for a bit, but then as the compass heading changed, first a few degrees, then 10, then 20°, nothing would happen.  I would lunge for it and turn it off so we could get the boat back on track and in the channel and the gaggle we were supposed to be following.

Pulling into the dock at Swinoujscie, it was good to be tied up, but it had been a long day that ended with two major problems, the worst being an autopilot that all of a sudden wasn’t.

I went to bed that night with two issues, not the best ingredients for a good night’s sleep.