I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain my weather planning or better said, planning on the weather.
The fist picture on the left shows my main area of interest at the white dot, just south of Cape Mendocino. This is where the winds are the strongest. It’s a two day (46 hr) cruise to Crescent City, just north of that spot.
The sequnece from the 25th to the 28th seems to show improving condidions along the sure, with the strong Northerly winds moving off shore.
It could well happen. But what I focus on is the large overall pattern.
So while it is showing a small area of light winds along the coast, that if it came to pass as depicted, it would be ok, even good to leave San Francisco and head north, the problem is the area of favorable winds is very small.
I’ve always said that forecasts are more often correct, but id they are wrong, it’s usually an issue of location or time, but not the event. For example, a cold front with showers and thunderstorms is forecast to move thru your area in 12 houris time. In reality, it could be 10 hours, or 8 hours, even 6.but it’s happened.
Where it happened is another story, That’s what I mean my location. Forecasting snow anywhere along the east coast is always problematic. A lot of things ahve to fall in place for the forecast to be spot on at a given location or time. The snow-rain line could end up being 10 miles west of New York City. After the news media has panicked everyone for days, it looks\ like a big bust, but in reality, looking at the large scale picture, 90% of the areas that were forecast to get snow got it, same for rain, it was only that little band that was incorrect.
And that’s what I’m thinking of as I look at these three days of forecasts. The overall pattern really doesn’t change much. This little narrow area of light winds could easily end up being 20 miles to the east leaving me frighting winds and waves.
Most importantly, all the pictures I have posted here are the only things I have looked at to make this decision. This gives me an overview. Until the overview looks more than doable, there is not point in in spending time looking elsewhere, at other products or other models.
Om addition, if you find yourself trying to find the right model to five you the forecast you want, you are only cruising for a bruising.
Two days ago, here are the Windycom woeather maps I looked at to tmake my decision if 23 could leave on the 25th:
It’s 7 days to Washington’s Neah Bay. The first few are the most critical, since off the Oregon coast, the winds are more from the southwest in general. So, the California portion is the most difficult.
I’ll wait until the entire high pressure system moves east. I’d rather have 30 knots from the SW than 10 knots from the north.
10:22 Change course to 016°, 1600 rpms, 6.2 kts, 3.5 nm to Morro Bay entrance. 7 knot winds on beam are producing a lazy roll of +10° (to stbd)/to -05° (to port).
11:30 Enter Morro Bay. Spot my first Sea Otters. Great. One more thing not to run over besides the ubiquitous paddle board and kayak people.
12:03 With a slow, almost idle, 4 kt approach (The minimum speed to have enough way to control boat), I approach the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock. It parallels the coast and there is ample room for me. I make a 180° to port (the direction this KK loves to turn) and am tied to the dock minutes later.
12:05 Docked at MBYC. An easy day, 3:55, 23 nm, 5.9 avg speed.
Morro Bay turned out to be a delight. Delightful people at the delightful Morro Bay Yacht Club (MBYC). If I was ever in one place long enough to join a yacht club, MBYC would be the kind of place I’d love to join. Having to wait out the weather for four days turned out nice. Really reasonably priced at $35 per day, it was a pleasure to be there. I felt good and knew that time wise, I’d be good to go if I could leave on the 30th.
I watched the winds every day and the forecasts were tracking well. I thought to leave Friday, but the winds were still up and while forecast to go down later in the day, this is a perfect example of when I say, “Don’t leave based on a forecast”. If your waiting for light winds, wait until you see light winds.
Also, MBYC had hamburger night Friday evening or maybe it was cocktail hour. In any case, I vowed to leave early Saturday morning, if winds were light as predicted.
Now the plan was getting down to hours. The anticipated 36-hour weather window showed light winds becoming increasing strong, but from the south as Saturday progressed into Sunday, but by Sunday afternoon, the northerlies would be back with a vengeance, 30+ knots west of the Golden Gate.
Additionally, the trip up San Francisco Bay must be timed for the currents and tides. The currents are as strong as hell’s Gate in NYC. So, I had to back up all my arrivals and departures so that I would arrive at the Golden Gate between 12:00 and 13:00 Sunday July 1st.
To get there at that time, I had to leave Santa Cruz before 03:00. So, if I wanted 5 hours sleep in Santa Cruz and a time to have dinner with some new boat friends who had their boat there, I had to leave MBYC at 01:00 to do the 121-mile trip in 18 hours, getting me to Santa Cruz by 18+1= 19:00
No problem. Just an early evening and get up at 01:00.
Dauntless was parallel parked between two sailboats. The evening before I had asked about leaving that early, anything I needed to know. Everything seemed routine. I should be able to just push the bow out as I realized the last lines.
Maybe the sailors giving me this advice did not realize that Dauntless was 44,000 pounds? Certainly no one warned me about the current.
01:15 up, Saturday morning dawned with the expected light winds, I was ready to go.
01:20 As I did my routine combined current check and pee, it was obvious that the current was not insignificant.
The next 8 minutes were the most harrowing of the last three months.
It was obvious I couldn’t just undo the lines and push her out away from the dock and SV 15’ in front. Plan A was dead.
The stupid sailboat in front of me has two solar panels out behind his stern. On the first picture of this post, the sunset, the solar panel array is visible on the port side stern of the sail boat in front of me. They are probably 12 to 15 feet from my bow pulpit, which is 5 feet above them. But my hull will impact them before it hits anything else. No fender could protect them. This guy should be on a mooring.
Plan B: I untied all lines, but for the midship cleat. I wrapped it around the dock cleat near the stern, so it would slide thru once I released tension on my side. Meaning the line was secured to the boats stbd midship cleat, then back to the stern cleat on the dock and then I’m holding the bitter end in my hand while on the dock, near the pilot house door. The boat is in neutral at idle. For this to work, my plan is to give the bow a mighty push from the dock, releasing the line while I clamber on board.
With one mighty heave, I was truly seconds from disaster.
Dauntless was not moving out as much as I had hoped. I also was keenly aware that I was risking her leaving without me.
I clambered on board, as dauntless drifted forward crab like, her bow maybe 15 feet from the dock, stern still near the dock. I debated momentarily, for a split second at most, whether to just give her a shot of power, hoping that she would go straight out into the channel.
At 1.5 knots, that about 2 feet per second. In the 6 seconds it took me from release of the line, get on board and into pilot house, Dauntless moved 12 to 15 feet, the bow pulpit was almost over the left side of the sailboat. The stupid solar panels are a few feet from my stbd hull.
It was clear to me in a moment that if I gave it forward power, it would rake the entire starboard side of Dauntless against the stern port quarter of the SV.
I quickly put her in reverse and slightly increased power to 1100. I also had a sailboat behind me. I ran out to the bow, just in time to find off the stupid solar panels as the Kadey Krogen finally started to retreat.
I ran to the side deck to see what kind of room I now had behind me. I need to be tied to the dock I bought myself some more seconds by leaving her at idle in reverse. This gave me enough time to get to the side deck and get a line on the dock cleat. I made it tight and thought about what to do.
I took some needed breaths. I had to be calm now What were my options? It’s almost 1:30 in the morning. No one is getting up soon. On one hand it’s only a schedule, but being alone, makes the schedule even more important. If I didn’t leave now, I would be forced to run overnight. Which then has an impact the following day.
The Golden Gate timing was immutable.
I wanted to leave, but the idea that I start me day be destroying this boat’s solar panels would really fuck up my day.
I tied the boat thru the stern cleat to the dock’s cleat just a couple feet away.
I would try to push the bow out with the stern tied. I wouldn’t do anything else. Engine at idle, transmission neutral. It was just an experiment to see how far the bow would actually go out. If it went out to 45°, It would probably work.
It went to maybe 20°.
Tied again with a little more slack on the stern line, same results, but now she headed for those f…ing solar panels again like they were a magnet.
I had some seconds to spare this time, but I had to get her in reverse. We were still attached to the stern dock cleat. I had tied it so that while in reverse it did not have enough slack to hit the boat behind me. In other words, while I could watch the bow, I had to make sure when backing not to hit the boat just behind me.
Then I noticed an interesting phenomenon in reverse, attached to the stern cleat, the bow came out.!
That made perfect sense since Dauntless stern always wants to starboard. I need 2° of right rudder to go straight. In reverse, the prop walk is still to the right, to starboard, which is pone of the primary reasons, I always try to dock and tie on the starboard side.
(which in a recently found video has me backing into the slip in Golfito, Costa Rica. Once I figure out how to get it not inverted I will upload)
I checked the line on the dock and boat to make sure they were secure and then gave her more power in reverse. The bow keeps coming out more and more. This would work.
Back to idle, I quickly retied the stern line so that the closed loop was over the forward horn of the cleat. I then ran the line thru the stern hawse pipe forward inside the boat to the midships cleat.
I put the boat in reverse and added some power.
The bow came out further and further. Still in reverse, I sent down to the midships cleat, and took the line in my hand and walked it back to the pilot house door. With the line in my hand, I checked the port side to make sure it was still clear, gave her more power and the bow came well out.
Now, I knew the terrible downside of this plan. If that dock line snagged on something, at best it would slam the boat back to the dock hitting the boat ahead, at worse, I could drip the whole dock up, causing even more mayhem.
And I couldn’t check it. I still had to get the stern out to not hit the sailboat.
When it seemed, the bow would come out no more, I had to force myself to be slow and put her in idle, neutral, forward, power. Probably two to three seconds.
But remember at 2 feet per second forward due to current. In just doing that, reverse to forward, without slamming the damper plate, used half the distance between the two boats.
I stayed right behind the helm. I had to hope the line slipped off cleanly. As the solar panels were about two feet off the pilot house door, I swung the wheel hard right and goosed the power, to kick the stern out. The boat was still crabbing forward, so even with that maneuver, the stern only cleared by a few feet.
But she cleared. I hauled in the stern line quickly and turned on my driving lights to make sure I didn’t run over any sleeping sea otters.
01:28 Underway to Santa Cruz. I thanked every god I knew.
In hindsight, some thoughts:
It’s a no-brainer that I should have just swapped positions with one of the two sailboats. Either being in the front or end, would have been leaving no problem. Also, everyone at the YC was so accommodating, it would have been no problem.
Not as obvious is how the lack of a functional bow thruster affected this. It’s been three plus years now since by bow thruster stopped working. At least two times, we thought it was fixed, only to discover it wasn’t. But clearly, it hasn’t been a priority. Why?
Before it stopped working, there were two memorable times when I needed it, but winds and currents overwhelmed it. Thus, it has seemed better to just learn to live without than to depend on something that may not work as well as hoped in the worst conditions.
Be cause of that, I also stopped doing stuff because some marina or dock master suggested it. Now, I’ll say, “I don’t have a bow thruster, I can’t do that” Oh, no problem, we’ll put you on this “T” then! Duh!
And now this experience reinforces my feelings that at least for me, I’m better off without it. My first thought was if the bow thruster was working this would have been easy. And therein lies the problem. I would have pushed the bow out, jumped on board, used the bow thruster without the understanding that the boat was moving 2 feet a second and while the bow would have missed, the broad side of the boat would have slammed into the stern of the sailboat. No way was it going to get out of the way in the 10 seconds I had.
Yes, God certainly Watches Over Fools and Drunkards.
As of Tuesday evening, we are planning to try to get to Magdalena Bay, 130nm, tomorrow. Our third try in the last 9 days.
Though even at that, we will probably we stuck there for three days over the weekend, as another period of very strong (15 to 25 kts) winds is forecast to hit the area then. But it’s time for new, less touristy scenery.
We’ll leave mid morning, as the winds diminish mid morning to late afternoon.
We had a few issues to deal with in the last few days, the most serious, a worn rubber “O” ring on the autopilot hydraulic pump.
With a new ring and a few hours of getting the air out of the system, we are good to go and better than before.
My Maretron weather instrument was off line due to a failed “T” connector. After a couple hours hanging on the mast for dear life, that too has been fixed.
Lastly, on my third trip to Costco in as many days, the dingy finally appeared in front of my eyes. On sale for only $500 delivered, it was too good a deal to pass up. Took me all afternoon to blow it up, and then a day to fix the carb that was pouring gas all over the place, but finally as i drove it to the fuel dock to fill the gas can, I felt pretty good.
So tomorrow we leave Dauntless in as good a shape as she has been in a long time.
Our weather window is not as open as I’d like, but we simply must pound out the next 200 miles to get into better, more favorable winds. Once north of Tortuga Bay, life is better.
We’ll check out of Mexico in Ensenada and check in to USA in San Diego.
It’s then to my friend’s Mike and Adriana in the Oxnard area, hopefully by mid June.
I could call this, Mexico Just Works, at least this part.
As international trips of 3,000+ miles go, this was by far one of the easiest ever! 13 hours after wake-up at oh-dark-thirty, I was being dropped off at my hotel in Huatulco. Hotel Balcon Gueela turned out to be a really nice, comfortable place to stay while Dauntless gets her bottom painted. The sense of relief was palpable. Which got me to thinking, why such angst? I’ve travelled 24 hours to get to and from Vietnam, but other than relief that the trip was finally over, I never experienced fear before.
I’ve crossed two and a half oceans by now. I’ve spent a few too many hours being miserable, but never afraid.
So why now, why this underlying angst in traveling to Mexico? I’d been in a dozen of airports and train stations this past year. Why the angst now? When I arrived at baggage claim in Mexico City from my New York flight, I had 3 hours for my connecting flight to Huatulco. I assumed I’d pick up my bag, go thru customs and immigration, then recheck it for Huatulco.
That’s the routine at most ports of entry. But not here. Here upon arrival at baggage claim, I was approached by a nice, uniformed lady, who asked my point of origin and when informed it was NY, she asked to see my boarding pass with claim stub and pointed out that my bag was checked through to Huatulco. Duh. I travelled 90,000 air miles last year. One would think I would have thought to check at some stage of this process, especially at the onset, when the bag tag was affected to my bag. It’s always nice to make sure one’s bag is going on the same trip as you are!
Though at that moment of check-in, 05:00, I was distracted by the realization that my 07:00 flight was really at 08:00. The 7 a.m. time must have been the time I told myself to be at the airport. But somewhere in my little mind, that got fixed at the departure time. I had stayed with friend’s in Brooklyn to be close to the airport. I hadn’t slept that well because I had bad toothache (needed a root canal) and I was just nervous about he whole trip. So, I ended up leaving the house at 04:00, and was checking in, an hour later, having returned the rental car full of gas and taken the JFK tram.
So, another rookie mistake, not even confirming my flight time.
Why was I so nervous? The toothache certainly didn’t help, but still.
While there was no customs inspection (NAFTA?), I did have to go through immigration. But even this routine, simple task, seemed beyond me. First, I did not have the right form. I had a customs form, which I didn’t need, but was never given the immigration form I did need. OK, no problem, says the immigration officer, “go to that desk and complete form and return here”.
Five minutes later, he looks at my just completed form and shows me the bottom half I had not filled out. This time, he directs me to a desk closer to him, as I clearly need supervision, though more likely, he was just trying to save me time and reduce my frustration/confusion.
Third time is the charm. I get my requisite stamps and I’m off to the lounge to wait two hours. Airline lounges are pretty much the same, but I was nervous beyond words; looking over my shoulder constantly. Now, those who know me, know I am the most trusting person on the planet, possibly in the entire solar system. And naïve too, as my stint in the Bronx was to prove.
A couple hours later, walking down the air stairs, looking around at the quaint, little Huatulco airport, I felt a large load was lifted off my shoulders. The walk from the plane to the terminal, took about 4 minutes. During this walk, I noticed the baggage train was going to beat us to the terminal. My bag was on the first pass of the carousel as I walked in. I grabbed it, noticed a nice lady standing at a podium with a big sign that said, official taxis, walked up and she gave me my options for the 20-minute ride to Huatulco and my hotel. I could have a private taxi for $25 or go in the group van for $9. I took the cheaper route.
The whole process, the entire trip from the time I got up at 03:30, left JFK to arrival at my hotel in Huatulco, could not have been easier. Everything was simple and in Mexico, helpful people always appeared just when you had that first confused look on your face. Mexico just works.
It was at that point when it finally dawned on me the reason for my angst. What was that load that was taken off my shoulders? It was simply that I hadn’t been killed during my travel in Mexico. No, I wasn’t taking a bus through the countryside in the middle of the night, but clearly, I had been afraid. Not until I was in the familiar Huatulco, did I feel safe.
This was totally irrational, I’ve been in a million places more dangerous than the Mexico City airport!
Where did this fear come from? I’ve been thinking about this for a week now.
My “news” information is purposely limited, as I have come to understand that “news” is not as objective as I once assumed. Remember, I did say I was naïve. I had a bad experience with the print media as a high school principal in the Bronx, NY. The Chief Editor of this newspaper, told my boss, that he was directed to print a story that was nothing more than character assassination, meant to embarrass and defame me. I knew who wrote it, as it was carefully written, as to not be accountable to her, but then she was crazy and had no problem saying the most outrageous things. She wrote this kind of stuff routinely.
The end result is that I stopped reading the New York newspapers. So now, I only read the Wall Street Journal, Science News and sometimes the Guardian from England.
I certainly don’t read anything that purports to be “news” on the internet. In fact, once I discovered that there are numerous pictures of big ships in tremendous waves online that are photoshopped, I realized you can’t even trust what you see online.
Even though I avoid sensationalism, it was still in my mind that Mexico was this dangerous place that made me afraid, in a totally irrational manner. So even a seasoned traveler like myself can get caught up in the hype with no sense of reality. This was made all the more “unreal” to me in that my interactions with any Mexicans, in New York, the USA or even in Mexico! have been outstanding. I’ve never had a bad experience. Ever. Can’t say that about almost any other place, even Canada (they can’t get it out of their heads that not every American has an arsenal of guns!).
And I never watch those weather shows with their drumbeat of death and destruction. Gimme a break. Get a life.
In one of my recent posts I talked about my use of Windy.com and how much I like the GUI they have developed. It’s an easy way to look at the two-main worldwide weather forecasting numerical models, the GFS and the ECMWF.
Almost a year ago today, I wrote the post “The Atlantic is a Harsh Mistress”. This was my first reaction to the reality of what we experienced versus the anticipation of what I expected.
I had read so many accounts of boats crossing oceans. Not having any experience, myself I was not sensitive to the subtle differences of the trade wind Pacific versus the Atlantic.
Hey, it’s the trade winds, characterized by strong steady winds and large, 15 to 30-foot-long period waves.
Easy Peasey, as Micah was fond of saying.
I’d just read an account of Kadey Krogen 42 doing the much longer passage from the California to the South Pacific and Australia. Their only problem was boredom and they ran out of Coca Cola. I wouldn’t have those issues. Having lived in Europe on and off for years, I’d long ago learned it best to wean myself off American products. And boredom, not when I had countless hours of Korean Dramas and a crew mate in Micah, who also liked them as much as I.
I still vividly remember leaving Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries to small seas and steady winds. After the first hour, I found myself thinking this could be an easy three weeks. An hour later, as the seas and winds increased, I deployed one paravane stabilizer, another hour later, I deployed the second. We stayed in that configuration for the next three weeks.
It was anything but easy. The passage was characterized by three wave sets (swells).
Swell are longer period waves that develop when the wind blows over the ocean for long period of time. Thus, winds and storms, hundreds or thousands of miles away cause swell.
The primary wave set or swell was from the east, the second from the northeast and the third from the southeast. The third had the longest period (time between waves) of ?15+ seconds. The other two, were on the order of 9 to 12 seconds.
On top of this all, were the wind driven waves. These waves are created by the wind at that location and if the wind stops the waves stop also. These waves had a period of about 7 seconds.
The result of all this was that we had 12 to 15-foot waves from the east, right behind us. My Kadey Krogen loves following seas, but what made it so difficult was the other two swells with different periods hat produced a corkscrew movement. Then every 8 minutes or so, the NE and SE wave troughs would meet under the stern of Dauntless and we would do this wild corkscrew movement with first the bow pointing to heaven and then seconds later, twisting down.
It was a wonderful corkscrew if I was on a roller coaster.
Here are some videos of the experience:
I love my boat so much.
So that was my introduction to multiple swells. Oh, I had noticed it before in the north Atlantic, but I attributed to “rogue” waves and it was not so systematic as in the trade winds.
The result was best described by some sailors I met in Martinique who had just done the same crossing. They called it the bathtub, because the water was so disorganized.
On the far right, you can see the vertical column where “waves, swell, swell2 and swell3” can be chosen.
Looking at this data today, mid-March, it’s also apparent why the best time to cross this part of the Atlantic is in early winter, as the when we crossed in December, at least all the winds and waves had an easterly component. Now, you can see that there is a swell from the northwest, that must be very unpleasant.
As spring gets closer and closer, I’m watching the weather daily. I know what I want, but the light wind conditions may only last a couple of days, while I need a week plus.
In the last weeks, the more I have thought of this, the more I am thinking of getting north as best I can, probably well offshore.
Offshore solves a number of issues for me:
I like the open ocean
far less fishing activities, like boats and nets
more sea room, if I need to run before the storm (this is always a consideation in my planning)
getting big chunks of distance done in a short time, 3 days = 500 nm
did I say I like the ocean
I like the GUI and data presentation of Windyty.com, so all the maps I show are from them and when I do look at weather, I look at them before anything else. This is what a great case looks like. How long it will last? Not long enough, but a few days, then with a low pressure system developing further west, would give me favorable winds for the second of two 3-day periods (the steaming distance between Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas is 900 nm or 6 days.
This case though is far more typical, with NW winds >15 knots, even more so in the summer than now.
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.
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”
If you are worried about everything, you will drive yourself and crew crazy. You need to be able to separate the likely from the remote. Be vigilant, but you can’t watch everything. An hour from home, you can afford in indulge your paranoia, in the middle of the Atlantic, indulgences are not allowed. it’s “Calm & Assertive” as Caesar Milan would say.
When I would hear a noise in the middle of the night. Perhaps I was being sleeping? Did the noise wake me or was it a dream? I stay in bed in listen. Sometimes I may even open my cabin door to listen and more importantly sniff the wind! Your sense of smell may well be your most reliable tool on a boat.
Admittedly, the first year on Dauntless I was not his way. Unless she was firmly tied to a dock, I was up at every little noise or movement. I hated anchoring out because I got so little sleep. What changed? Mostly me understanding that the boat was fine, the anchor was fine, and the only problem was me.
A couple days out of New England, on the way to the Azores, on my first Atlantic Passage, a mast cleat that secured the port paravane pole let go with a sound like a pistol shot. I stopped the boat, put on a PFD (probably the last time I used it too) and went to the fly bridge to see what happened.
The quarter inch steel bolts had sheared off. I realized that it was too much tension for a cleat, but a simple clove hitch around the mast a few times would secure the two paravane pole lines with much less stress at any particular point, then ending on the cleat. I made that change in minutes and three years later, it’s still the same.
Later, Julie told me that having a problem like that and me being able to come up with a different and even better solution, gave her all the confidence to not worry about anything. And she didn’t. She had been on the boat less than I, but was more experienced. She understood right away what it took to be successful.
It took me a couple of years.
During my second Atlantic Passage, westbound from Europe, North Africa to North America, I had noticed fuel in the bilge on the first day out of the Canaries. I kept it to myself. It didn’t seem like much, probably less than a gallon, of the 700 we had onboard. To get to the Caribbean we would probably need 600 of those gallons. If push came to shove and I needed to conserve, I could probably get there on 500, even 450. In fact, at idle and in gear, 900 rpms, fuel consumption is probably 0.5gal/hr. at 3.8 knots, making the range above 5,000 nm. With these conditions, with a 20-knot wind behind us, our range would be above 6,000 nm. (at idle and in neutral, with no load on the engine, the fuel consumption is probably 0.1 gal/hr.)
Since I could see no leak on any of the connections or hoses between the fuel tanks and the engine, including the 4 fuel filters, there was not much I could do until it became obvious. It was clearly coming from the tank, but not the bottom of the tank.
I continued to run the numbers in my head, often, during those days and nights.
But I continued to say nothing. Certainly, Micah could do nothing and he worries, a lot. My job as Captain is to do the worrying and to keep my crew fat and happy.
By Day 4, Calm & Assertive was slipping away. I was getting nervous.
The big problem was that the bilge pump was pumping water out that had gotten into the bilge from the lazzerette. With large following seas, the stern deck is awash plenty of time, enough that water gets into the lazzerette. It is then dutifully pumped out. When I would look into the bilge, fuel being lighter than water, it floats on top. So, when I look in the bilge and see a gallon of liquid, which the bilge pump will pump out, it’s unclear if I’m looking at a gallon of fuel or a quarter of a cup, the rest being water. Under these conditions, the bilge pump was turning on about once an hour. So, in 24 hours, that’s about 24 gallons. If it’s mostly water no problem, but if mostly fuel I needed to know.
It was possible that I was looking at the same inch of fuel floating on top of water. So, when the pump would pump out, it was just pumping water leaving the last inch of liquid every time. I had to know what was going on.
initially on Day 4, I did the following:
I used the shop vac to vacuum out the bilge. Now if I saw fuel again, I knew it was new fuel. I turned off the bilge pump and left it off for 6 hours.
I reduced our engine rpms to 1450. Now this change would only reduce our consumption by about 0.1 gallons/hour, but we had 16 days at 24 hr./day = 384 hours. So, to save a tenth of a gallon, that’s 40 gallons over that time. I had estimated worst case scenario if it was all fuel with a little water, we were losing about 12 gallons a day, that would be 200 gallons lost. That would be a problem. Better to reduce speed now and figure it out just in case.
Six hours later, I checked the bilge hoping to see only water.
I saw water and fuel!
Wherever the fuel was coming from, it was still coming. But of the approximately 5 gallons I pulled out, there was at most an inch of fuel on top of the water. That’s less than half a gallon.
From the first time I noticed the fuel, it never seemed that much to me. From dipping the oil soak cloth (very effective in absorbing fuel and oil, but not water) to collecting the 6 gallons, all signs were a minor fuel loss, which was even decreasing. But,
The mind is its own place and can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. (thanks Milton & Star Trek).
But this is why I say, worry is very destructive. Even with those facts, by the next day, that worry drove me off the deep end. By constantly checking for fuel, all it did was make me lose any objective sense of reason. I cracked.
So, I came up with another radical plan.
We needed a way to recover significant amounts of fuel:
I cut the hose (pictured) that leads from the bilge pump to the thru hull and stuck another hose onto it. This hose I now led out of the engine room, out the salon door to a large bucket on the stern deck.
We would collect everything the bilge pump pumped out of the bilge for the next 12 hours.
We would then take the fuel that standing on top of the water, and pour it into another bucket. Then filter it and pour it back into the fuel tank, as needed. Thus, even if losing 20 gallons of fuel a day, we would probably recover 75% of that. To lose 5 gallons a day was tolerable.
Now the boat is rolling all the time as we have 10 to 16 foot waves off both stern quarters, so it was no easy task to pour one bucket into a larger bucket.
We, really Micah, did just that for 6 hours.
When I relieved Micah, he thought it was mostly water. I checked the “fuel” bucket, the one into which we were pouring the obvious fuel from the bigger bucket. After 6 hours, we had about a quarter of a gallon if that.
I looked at that, I looked at Micah and I came to my senses.
I quickly put an end to this process. It was a 5-minute job to re-connect the now two sections of bilge hose and we were back to normal.
On Day 6, all fuel stopped getting into the bilge
Did I scare it away?
The only explanation is also the most obvious explanation. Last year, in Ireland, when we opened up the port tank to seal it, it was obvious that water had dripped down from the screw holes in which the poorly installed fuel vent fitting had been placed. Now since this is one of the few design, construction issues I have ever found on the Kadey Krogen, it’s hard to complain.
I figured that what had happened is that since the tanks was totally full, the pitching movement in particular meant fuel was being pushed hard against the upper back of the tank. Just where the fuel vent is poorly installed. A few drops every dozen second will easily add up to a couple of gallons a day.
Lesson Learned: If I had to do it all over. I should have been more patient. I could have slowed a bit before doing anything else and waited a few more days. I let myself get too nervous even after I had come up with multiple estimates that the amount of fuel we were losing was not significant.
After arrival in Martinique, Dauntless still had 125 gallons of fuel. I determined that we had lost probably 5 to 1o gallons at most. I was meticulous in feeding from each tank every other day, thus the tanks should have been the same, but instead there was a 5 to 10-gallon difference.
Well, it would probably take a book I’m too lazy to write.
But as I sit here in the sweltering heat of Mexico, air conditioning or lack thereof has become my number one concern.
Having spent two years in Northern Europe, AC was the least of my concerns. So last year when cruising south, once I hit Portugal, the heat hit us at the same time. Like leaving a room that was a pleasant 68° (20°C) and entering a furnace that was in the 90°s (>32°).
Dauntless has two air conditioning (AC) systems. One for the back of the boat, like the salon and second cabin, the other, for the forward sections, the forward cabin and pilot house. Of course, neither one was working.
Somewhere in the Caribbean, finally realizing that this heat and humidity was unrelenting, I tackled the issue and in a remarkable time, got both units working. Relief at last. But this isn’t about that.
So, for the last couple months, I have luxuriated in the coolness of modern living. Now, air conditioning only works if I am at a marina and plugged into shore power or if I run the boat’s generator.
Then last week, my cool times came to an abrupt end. My aft AC stopped cooling and then started blowing hot air. That won’t work.
Boat AC’s working using water pumped through the condenser to make cool air. (Home AC’s use air to cool the condenser).
So, when there is a problem, the first thing to check is water flow. And in fact, there was not any water flow or maybe just a dribble when it should be coming out like a water hose.
Easy fix I thought. It started well. I checked the sea strainer, which is exactly that, it strains sea water so that the water pump only gets water and not sea weed, sticks, fish and whatever got sucked into the thru hull opening. The strainer was full of crap and water was just dribbling out, when it should have been gushing out.
Oh, that was easy. But on a boat, the systems in place that makes everything run as they must, can become complicated.
I cleaned out the strainer. Put it back together and that started the last seven days of trial and error.
I hadn’t cleaned or opened the strainer in probably 4 years. It had a lot of corrosion around it. I brushed and cleaned it up as well as I could. Put it back together again, turned on the AC pump and all was well.
For about 10 minutes.
As of yesterday, the 6th day, I got the time up to two hours. It would run OK for two hours and then quit. I would need to let it rest about an hour and then do the process all over again.
Somewhere between the thru-hull and the AC water pump, air was being sucked into the system. The water pump is sucking so hard and it’s always easier to suck air than water. So even the smallest crack will allow air to be sucked in. That air then collects at the highest point in the system, at the aft AC unit, at which point the air blocks the water and the AC stops cooling.
That has been my last 7 days.
Every day I tried something new. I even made new gaskets from rubber sheets, I’ve did all sorts of things to try to fix the strainer. Sure, there has been some improvement, but it wasn’t fixed.
But I didn’t have a spare strainer. What to do?
One of my lessons learned from crossing oceans is there is always a solution.
When you are in the middle of the Atlantic, there’s no Boat US, no AAA, no nothing, only you and the odds and ends you happen to have.
I realized I did not have a spare sea strainer, but I did have two other sea strainers!
I could simply bypass the AC strainer and put a hose between one of the other strainers to the AC water pump. Then if there is still a problem, it would mean it’s the pump itself.
I’d decided to use the Generator strainer. The gen is not being used and won’t be until next summer. Also, should I mess that system up, it’s not a critical component, like the main engine.
The AC sea strainer uses 1” hose. Turns out the gen sea strainer uses ¾” hose. The gen doesn’t use much cooling water, but the AC’s use a lot.
The main engine sea strainer was 1” hose, so I decided to use that. That has enabled me to sit here a couple of hours later and write this piece in the cool comfort of the Kadey Krogen salon.
Which raises another even more important issue. The first rule of Ocean Crossing, Do No Harm. Don’t fix one problem by making another.
Only because Dauntless will spend the winter here in Huatulco, Mexico, would I consider messing with the main engine’s sea strainer.
There is always a lot of blather about single engine boats crossing oceans. Large commercial boats do it all the time, but then they are not affected by marketing.
If one looks at engine failures on single engine boats versus multi engine boats, the preponderance is a failure of one of the two engines on a multi engine boat. Why is that? On the face of it, the numbers should be exactly the same. Why aren’t they?
They are not the same because both consciously and unconsciously people take care of stuff better when they only have one versus two. Of anything.
How many times have you lost a key after having gotten extra keys made? How many times have you lost your only key?
If I was getting underway in the foreseeable future. I would never have touched the main engine’s sea strainer. Even though Dauntless is going to be here for the next 8 months, if my plan was to come back and get her ready to cross the Pacific, I would never have touched the sea strainer now.
Only because I have the luxury of knowing that: not only will I not be using the engine until next summer, even then we will be slowly moving up the coast. I have a few years and a few thousand miles of coastal cruising before setting across the North Pacific.
A boat is all about systems. A motor boat even more because it takes more complicated systems to run in a dependable manner. So, I am very careful not to mess with systems that don’t need it. Remeber, Do No Harm.
In opening up the AC sea strainer, I messed with that system. I upset something.
Turns out, in getting ready to bypass the AC strainer, I noticed the end of the outlet hose was very hard. Is it possible that when I opened the strainer, I broke the seal between this hose and the strainer nipple? Even though the two clamps were tight. (All connections to thru hulls have two clamps)
I decided before I did anything else, to cut 2″ off the end of that hose and re-attach it. I did and that solved the problem once and for all. Yesterday, the ACs worked for 12 hours with nary a problem.
So even with a solution in hand, keep trying to determine the real problem. Otherwise, it may come back to haunt you in the most inopportune time.
When I had the hydraulic hose failure in the middle of the Atlantic. I caused the problem because I turned the wheel knowing the rudder was already at its stop. Thus I did harm. This forced the fluid to go somewhere and it burst the hose at its weakest point. Luckily for me, that point was easy to find and relatively easy to replace.
But I will never do that again.
Here is the video of me replacing that hose. The seas were about 8 to 15 feet. We were stopped in the water like that for about 30 minutes, because I had to be careful not to make a small problem worse by breaking one of the fittings from the three-way coupling:
I tried to get Micah who was holding the camera to get the overall picture and show the big waves that would approach Dauntless and then disappear under the boat. But that seemed to unnerve him. He wouldn’t look out. Oh well, it could have been worse.
So, one of my lessons learned in crossing the Atlantic: There is always an alternative, there is always a way, a bypass, a work around, but there is always a way. You just have to think about it.