I was on schedule, the one I’d made month’s earlier. It was June 10th.
460 nm to go to our winter home of Vallejo, close compared to only a month ago, but now time was getting compressed. My hard, drop dead dates were also much closer. July 6th was the hardest one, my flight from Austin Texas back to SGN, Saigon, HCMC, Vietnam.
Airline tickets can always be changed, but at a price and I was tired of just pissing money away.
I also had a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd, that I really, really wanted to attend. Three years earlier, I’d crossed the stormy North Sea to get back to Ireland in time to meet my dear friend Jennifer, who was coming to Ireland just to see Dauntless. I’d known her since she was 8 years old. Now, she had met the love of her life and was getting married. I had to be there.
I also wanted, needed to go to Fairbanks, Alaska before I left the USA
I’d already arranged the marina for the winter, in Vallejo California.
It was simply going to be a busy month, but doable if the weather cooperated.
The most recent version of the plan had Dauntless and I getting to Vallejo by the 17th, flying to SLC on the 21st, then onto Fairbanks on the 25th, ending in Austin, Texas on the 3rd. I have good friends there and it so happens that the plane ticket to Vietnam is significantly cheaper if it starts in Austin (or other smaller markets) then NY or Detroit, even though my routing goes thru Detroit.
What are friends and family for? Friends and family are there to talk you out of stupid ideas or better said: to help you see the better plan.
My friends, Mike and Adrianna, who now also have a Kadey Krogen 42, called While Knuckles, had suggested earlier that I stay in southern California longer. The reason I had resisted was that that plan upset my sense of completion: let’s get Dauntless settled, then travel.
The Pacific off the Southern California coast, south of Santa Barbara, has significantly better cruising weather. The winds are still predominately from the NW, but more like 50% of the time versus 90% further south. In addition, there are long periods of light & variable winds. Perfect cruising weather.
And that’s what we had for the next five days.
Mike and Adrianna keep their boat in front of a friend house in Channel Islands harbor. They spoke to their friend, Kyoto, and she was happy to have my Kadey Krogen there, while White Knuckles was in Ensenada having some extensive upgrades taken care of.
The weather was also changing. It became clear that I would have to wait to do the last 270 miles from Point Conception to the Golden Gate and Vallejo. So, I took
Mike and Kyoko up on their offer to keep Dauntless there as long as I needed, while I:
Waited for weather
Attended the wedding and
Flew to Fairbanks and back
Spent more money on tools and spares at Harbor Freight
I had to change one place ticket, but this was a much better plan. I was able to travel to the wedding and then Alaska knowing Dauntless was in good hands with sharp eyes watching out for her. I really appreciated the hospitality and it made for great 10 days
Dauntless returned to the USA on June 9, 2018; four years after she left Cape Cod, Mass. I left with Julie and came back with Larry, an interesting swap. But it’s nice to share special moments with special people and I’ve known Larry since we met on T-3 in 1973.
He’s good crew. He knows how to find the best ride for the conditions of wind and seas and he knows when to call me.
The check-in pier to the USA in San Diego is at the police dock at the entrance to the harbor. When we arrived at 19:00 there was a large fishing trawler occupying most of the dock. A spot on the Visitor’s Pier was open and I took it. Upon calling customs and Immigration, they told me everyone was busy with that fishing trawler, took my number and said they’d get back to me.
Some minutes later, they did just that. Telling me they were busy, they asked if we had Global Entry. We did, they took our passport numbers and welcomed us to the USA. After the nightmare of paperwork that the Caribbean is, I welcomed some common sense.
Larry and I celebrated our return by going to the typical restaurant & bar ubiquitous in the USA at upscale marinas and sea shores. We paid a lot for the crappiest meal we’d had in weeks. Welcome Home.
It was 17 days from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego. I’ve written about most of the highlights or lowlights already. If you missed it, here are some links:
After arriving on the southern tip of Baja California May 9th, two weeks later we are faintly getting out of this tourist trap. Oh, Cabo, or better yet, Cabo Falso, has finally loosened her grip on us to to us pass.
My two previous attempts were unpleasant at best, more like miserable. And on each the previous attempts to round the cape in ferocious seas and winds, I had tried two or three times, either tacking away from shore or closer to shore to escape her grip. Each time, I dragged myself back to Cabo, tail between my legs.
On the second attempt, the autopilot also started to not act right, so I felt the failure even more.
With thousands of boats in Cabo San Lucas, I thought it would be easy to find the little “O” ring and broken circ clip my Octopus pump needed. After walking around to numerous places in the hot sun, I found the ring, but not the clip. I called my followers who is a plethora of mechanical advice (he’s the one who told me how to make emergency hydraulic fluid in the middle of the Atlantic), who explained that the circ clip was just a stop, so the screw would not come all the way out. It was already out, so that solved that problem. I put the new “O” ring on, leak stopped, and pump worked fine.
I am really in debt to Octopus Pumps. This is on the list of winter projects. I really need to have a spare.
We waited and waited. I was very conscious that every day was costing me $100+ The reality is on my budget with all the cruising I do, necessities come first, so a marina becomes a convenience. Thus, it’s the one place I really try to try to control my costs.
That I didn’t like Cabo just added insult to injury.
I make a habit to only look at Windy.com and the forecast winds once or twice a day. With crew on board, I look at it more often to make them happy, but I really don’t. The nature of forecasts is that if they change radically, they are most probably wrong. Thus, once a day will provide enough guidance. Also, while nowadays, the forecast models are run more often, at least every three hours, planet Earth still has a 24-hour day. In simplistic terms, the winds and weather are driven my differential heating caused by our day and night cycle. Therefore, running the model more often does helps, but it won’t totally cure instability issues with the forecast.
I know this is getting too complicated. Let me say this, if you are waiting for a specific weather window, like I was in Cabo, how many times have you noticed that during the day, the forecast is changing, only to return to what it said originally 24 hours later? So, looking at a forecast more than a couple times per day is simply not helpful and more often confusing. This was quite apparent as I watched the winds off the southern Baja Peninsula.
The other phenomena with numerical forecasts are the sliding weather window. I mean it shows favorable whatever in the 24 to 48-hour time frame. But the following day, the favorable whatever is still forecast to come in the 24 to 48-hour time frame. It’s like the forecast is waiting for something to happen. It is in fact; numerical models are just predictors of fluid dynamics. But something in the real world is not acting like the model suggests. Therefore, it keeps sliding the forecast.
Which is fundamentally why numerical models have not replaced weather forecasters. Weather forecasters will know the proclivity of each model for each area and time of season. Changing seasons is the biggest bugaboo for both man and machine. That’s why some months are easier or harder to forecast.
Enough weather for now.
Rounding Cabo Falso
On 23 May 2018, we finally got underway heading to Ensenada with stops along the way. The first protected stop was Maddalena Bay, about 200 miles up the coast.
Coming abreast of Cabo Falso, winds had picked up to 310° at 15 gusting to 25 knots. I put one bird in the water to reduce the roll, which had gotten to 10° to 15° to port, as the winds were on the forward starboard quarter. We were pitching 6° to 8° up and down. Not fun, but tolerable for a while.
Six hours after departure, we were finally around the cape and heading NNW. Winds had died down to 10 knots, but we still had an unpleasant pitching motion.
During the spring and more recently in my time in Cabo, it was apparent that there are three distinct weather regimes off the Baja coast. The southern third has the strongest and most consistent NW winds. The second third has slightly more variety, while the last third, north of Tortuga Bay, must more variable weather, more like southern California.
Not until we were close to Magdalena bay did the winds back around to the west, though they were strong at 15 to 20 knots.
We pulled into Magdalena Bay 17:00 on the second day, the 24th, we then spent a few hours going up channel to Puerto San Carlos, to be protected from the coming wind storm.
Another view out the pilot house window, with Maretron and Coastal Explorer chart. It did stay like that the entire time
Just when I thought I had the Plan, I read a story about drug driven crime spreading to the west coast of Mexico. Manzanillo, one of my planed stops, was prominently mentioned.
Where does that leave me? Besides the obvious, afraid!
Last summer I had a detailed plan to cruise up the coast of Mexico, stopping every night, hitting all the nice spots, with only a couple overnight passages. Let’s call that plan, the Coastal Cruise Plan. This is essentially what we had done 3 years ago in the Baltic. I had even spent the last month alone, cruising from Stockholm all the way back to Ireland.
Last year, I had my nephew, Micah, with me from Ireland to Costa Rica. It’s no coincidence that when he left Dauntless in March to go to law school, I lost a lot of my ambition to continue north alone. Cruising alone for me is not fun. It’s what I do when I need to get from A to B or as I did from Stockholm to Waterford.
I am hoping that this coming summer, my girlfriend Trinh and her son, Thien, will have visas for Mexico. This is something that I must initiate this April when I return to Huatulco. If that is possible, they, with other friends who have expressed interest in joining Dauntless this summer, would make the Coastal Plan at least feasible. We would enjoy the numerous stops and towns along the coast, plus many eyes make for less stressful cruising.
A visa for the U.S. is another story and it takes forever. I’m hoping for 2019.
The Pacific coast of Mexico is not the Baltic and North Sea. The weather is not necessarily worse, but the predominant winds are from the northwest, the direction Dauntless must go. Adding to that problem, there are numerous fishing boats and nets and other boat traffic near the coast, whereas in the Baltic, there was none of that.
Lastly, safe harbors (protected from weather) on the Pacific coast of Mexico are few and far apart. North from Huatulco to Manzanillo, a distance of almost 600 miles, there are only two safe harbors. In a normal (for me) coastal cruise of 40 to 60 miles per day (6 to 9 hours), that’s 8 out of 10 nights anchored or in some port, at the mercy of the weather.
That’s a no-go.
For those of you who have read my precious comments about weather forecasts, you will know that even in the best circumstances, I don’t trust weather forecasts past three days and even at that I assume they are 50% off. That means, if the forecast is for winds from 270° at 12 knots, I plan for winds 240° to 300° at 8 to 16 knots (50% and 150% of forecast).
Therefore, to cruise an unprotected coast in any but the mildest of conditions is perilous.
I needed a plan B. The Near Coastal Plan.
In this plan, we will take what the weather gives us. If we get four good days (favorable winds and seas) we’ll cruise until the weather becomes unfavorable. This potentially means we would take chunks of distance, 3 days, 24/7 is 450 nm. Making the entire trip into 4 chunks of 500 miles each, would get the job done and reduce time spent too close to the coast.
It would be far less fun however, but probably safer in many ways and less stressful.
Then came plan C, the Ocean Plan.
But first we talk to talk about hurricanes.
Hurricane season runs from June through October, with the highest frequency, mid-July to mid-September.
I can see an advantage in avoiding the high summer. Looking at the Windyty depiction of the surface winds over the eastern Pacific today, you can see the big ass high pressure system that keeps the easterly trade winds over Hawaii (far left of picture) as well as the northwest winds over the west coast of California and Mexico. Now, one of the disruptors of these winds are hurricanes. The circulation pattern around hurricanes is far smaller than this massive high-pressure system, but a Pacific Ocean hurricane a few hundred west of Mexico, would cause southerly winds off the Mexican coast.
If it moved slowly north, maybe I could tag along??
It all depends on the situation and I’d have to figure out my escape routes, but it’s something for me to think about and plan for. It’s also significant that eastern Pacific hurricanes are weaker than Atlantic ones, with wind patterns not much stronger (if at all) than Northern Atlantic low-pressure systems in August and September (and I’ve certainly had my fun with those!).
Then the Ocean Route would entail an end around, running almost west, then curving slowly northwestward and finally northward, ending up east of Ensenada or southern California. With little winds, it would be an easy 10 to 12-day voyage, just like I did alone from the Azores to Ireland. I’d only do this though if I saw the possibility of an extended time of light winds.
Also, time of year matters in my decision making. In the scenario just mentioned above, In May or June, I’d have plenty of time to wait or make it happen. I may have different options later in the summer.
In September 2015, while waiting in Norway to cross the North Sea (I anticipated a 72-hour crossing), my weather windows were getting smaller and smaller. September is simply too late to be doing such a trip. But Sweden was so nice!
There had been strong northerly winds 25+ winds and driving rain, for days. I waited and waited. Finally, I saw a high-pressure ridge building into the North Sea from the English Channel, but this ridge of high pressure was also moving eastward. But it only gave me a two-day window for a three-day trip.
I had to take it. It meant that I left my little port of Egersund, Norway, with 35+ knot winds from the NNW and rain. If you look at my route I took to Fraserburgh Bay, Scotland, those strong winds caused that dip in my route. Even with the paravane stabilizers, it’s just easier on the boat to put the winds and resultant seas on the starboard stern quarter. After 24 hours, as the winds died, I was able to head more westerly and on the third day, to the northwest. But that little longer route also added 12 hours to the trip and the next frontal system was right on, so my last 8 hours were in the weather again.
Would a longer, better weather window has come eventually? Sure. In the winter, under very cold air and high pressure. I couldn’t wait that long.
When we decided to cruise the world or at least get away from the coast, we knew we wanted, needed a boat that that could all that and more. All the readings I did about boats and people cruising in boats all over the world, led me to Kadey Krogen.
Our little 42-foot boat was well built, extremely well designed for the worst of the worst and affordable.
Having Dauntless under my feet gives me confidence that she can handle any stupid situation I put her in.
As I sit in my 10th floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, the People’s Republic of Vietnam this balmy January 2018, writing these words, I think back one year. I was in Martinique, in the Lessor Antilles, luxuriating in having just completed a harder than expected crossing of the Atlantic from North Africa to North America.
Vietnam wasn’t even on the radar and if it was, I thought it was a wave top. Impossible it imagines how different 2017 would end up.
So, how can a person who doesn’t have a clue as to where they will be in 12 months’ time write about planning?
And not only write about, but spend a good portion of every day’s waking hours thinking about The Plan? So much so that just a while ago, I found myself looking at the noonsite.com information about Taiwan.
Taiwan? wtf, he still hasn’t figured out how to get Dauntless out of Mexico, you’re thinking.
And right you are. So, I thought you would be interested in knowing or better understanding my planning process.
To understand my planning process, let’s look at my goal and some background information:
Long term, cross the North Pacific, return to Northern Europe & complete my circumnavigation.
Short term, spend a couple of summers in Southeast Alaska.
Near term, get Dauntless to California before next winter.
Dauntless is now in the wonderful little town of Huatulco, Mexico, in the little Bahia Chahue.
In 2016, once I made the decision to return to North America, I made an elaborate plan (published in some blog post last year) to transit the Panama Canal and cruise up the west coast of North America to SE Alaska.
Looking aback at the plan now, I stayed pretty much on time and on target, only transiting the Panama Canal a couple weeks later than originally planned, until Costa Rica.
Arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica in March 2017, the wheels then came off or a more apt description, I was beached.
What happened? A perfect storm of: local bureaucracy, my nephew who cruised with me since Ireland, had to go back to school and I met this wonderful woman in faraway Vietnam.
Returning to Dauntless in June, I needed to get moving north. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that I had visited in 2004 and had really looked forward to returning. But, it turns out, it is not really cruiser friendly. The few marinas are ridiculously expensive and the paperwork of checking in and out was cumbersome and confusing.
My newfound friend, Cliff joined me and we took Dauntless from Costa Rica to Mexico. Mexico, it turns out is everything Coast Rica isn’t. Cliff had to go back to work and hurricane season had arrived, so in reaching the wonderful town of Huatulco in August, I decided that enough was enough.
The Task at Hand is to get Dauntless from southern Mexico to California, 1800 miles.
Dauntless cruises at about 6.5 to 6.8 knots. thus a 24-hr. period is 150 nm. That’s the figure I use for planning. With light winds and small seas, then the planning exercise is about planning stops after a day of cruising.
Two years ago, in the Baltic Cruise, I largely ignored the weather and planned the whole 4,000-mile trip based on cruising days of 5 to 8 hours. Usually we would stay a few days in each town or city stop. But the pacific coast of North America is a whole different creature.
Climatology tells me that the winds are predominantly from the northwest (the direct I must go) 2/3’s to ¾’s of the time. I use Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas which has pilot charts for each ocean by month. Jimmy Cornell’s Pilot Charts also tell me the secondary wind direction and currents. June thru September is 4 months, 120 days. I figure that I will have favorable winds about ¼ of those days, or 30 days. I have 1800 nm to go divided by 30 days means 60 miles per day. No bad, about what I did in the Baltic in September.
But it also means that when the winds are favorable, I must make miles. The reality of seasonal climatology is best looked at and planned for over periods longer than a few weeks. In this situation, I can easily be stuck in port 30 days waiting for the winds. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a good period, 5 to 10 days of southerly winds. Depending upon where we are along the coast, it means we may do 48, 72 or even 96 hours to take advantage of our good weather window.
Now in this context, when I say “weather” I really mean winds and seas. I’ve left port on many stormy days. Rain, showers do not bother me, it’s really all about the winds and seas for my little Kadey Krogen.
The effect of head winds and seas vary greatly. 5 to 7 knots are hardly noticeable and may produce small seas, less than 2 feet. Dauntless will lose a few tenths of a knot under such conditions.
As winds off the bow become stronger, it all goes down rapidly from there. 12 to 15 knots produce 3 to 5 ft. seas, pitching become unpleasant and we’ll lose more than a knot of speed. 18 + knots are untenable from a comfort level. Too much hobby horsing and probably down to 5 knots, less with any counter current. This is what happened to me off the French coast going up the English Channel to Holland. We were making 2 to 3 knots in pure misery of pitching. Because of the conditions, I finally decided to abort to Ostend, Belgium. It took another 6 hours to go 15 miles. Some of the worst 6 hours I have ever experienced. The Kadey Krogen was fine, she takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The humans inside were not as happy.
What I took out of that beating was to more carefully consider winds and seas on the bow. A 20-knot wind from the stern is fine. We had 20 days of that crossing the Atlantic last year. Even 20 knots (and resultant seas) on the beam are ok. The paravanes are most effective with beam seas. Though I tend not to venture out in such seas if I am in port. 20 knot headwinds are untenable. Stay in port. If at sea, options are reduced, but probably a change in direction is warranted.
I use Windyty.com for my forecast winds. I tend not to look at forecast seas because the accuracy is seldom good enough to use in an effective manner. Though Windyty will give you the first, second and third swells.
Now when it comes to forecast winds, for whatever reason, the forecast winds are almost always understated, though I do realize it’s possible that I only notice the over and not the under. Thus, when winds are forecast to be 12 knots, that usually means 8 to 15 knots. If 8, ok, if 15 it’s a no go. So, in this case, I will use 8 knots for the Go-No Go decision.
From Huatulco to the Channel Islands, it’s only 1800 nm in three long legs. that’s basically the distance I did between Martinique and the Panama Canal. But with much more un-favorable winds and currents.
Top speed for Dauntless is about 8.5 knots, but it’s non-factor because it’s impossible to justify the double to treble fuel consumption for 2 knots. So, my effective (long term) hurry up speed is 7.5 knots at 1800 rpms and 2 gallons/hour. Thus, I usually keep it to 1700 rpms, 6.8 to 7.0 knots and 1.6 gal/hr.
In my next post, Planning is the Mother of Anticipation, I’ll discuss the Mexican coast, what options we’ll have, crew and hurricanes.
If you have been following Dauntless at Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless then you already know the outcome, since this blog is on a tape delay. That way there is no chance of a wardrobe malfunction.
Though I want to share some reflections of the last few days:
While it took three iterations of the Plan, the last plan was the best one and one can’t ask much more than that. The first day, having departed from Elsinore, (yes, Hamlet’s castle),
early in the morning, there was a favorable current for about three hours. Winds stayed light, for Dauntless that is less than 15 knots, for most of the day.
Once I got past the first choke point off Anholt Island, it was mid-afternoon, so I decided it was a good time for dinner. I grilled a mackerel I had bought in Denmark. It was really tasty. I realize that most mackerel I’ve had is not as tasty because it’s overcooked and not as fresh.
As the afternoon rolled on, being so close to the shipping lanes, I saw more ships than I had seen in the two days in the English Channel. They were converging at the obvious choke point: into the Kattegat, over the top of Denmark and into the Skagerrak.
And they made it into a four lane highway! The slower ships would be going 10 to 12 knots and they were being passed by ships doing 15 knots. And the ships were not more than a mile or two apart.
Then to add some spice, high speed ferries would be going perpendicular to this highway speeding by at 25 to 30 knots between Sweden and Denmark.
And of course dauntless plodding along at 6 knots had to stay out of everyone’s way.
By the time I passed over the top of the Jutland peninsula into the Skagerrak, I was exhausted.
The winds did pick up during the evening and into the night. I turned west over the Jutland peninsula at around 03:30 and then went another hour to the west to make sure I was out of the shipping lanes and somewhat protected from the winds. Anchoring was easy and I was finally in bed at 04:30.
I was so exhausted I did not go to sleep immediately, but probably did within 20 minutes, and then I awoke at 08:15, started the engine at 08:25 and had hauled the anchor and was underway at 08:32.
I must admit when I first awoke, I didn’t want to get up, I had only about 3 ½ hours’ sleep, but getting underway immediately made me feel pretty good, I knew I still had a long day ahead of me to Norway and I felt fine.
Now once getting underway, I see numerous marks on the charts designating wreaks,++, a lot of wreaks. Remember the Battle of Jutland was just west of here. So leaving the Jutland Peninsula to the south, I’m seeing more and more boats showing up on the AIS and radar.
More than 50! They are fishing boats, evidently they must know exactly where all the wreaks are so as to maximize their fishing/trawling, but not lose any gear.
Anyway it was an interesting sight and clearly I had to detour around them. But within minutes I hear a “securite” announcement on the VHF and basically it said a high speed ferry was coming thru so all those fishing boats better clear a path.
And they did, as I did. The ferry was going 25 knots, he even called a Maersk ship to confirm he would pass behind him on the port side, which he did with at least a half mile to spare. Not more!
Then a bit later, the Matz Maersk passed in front of me, maybe a mile and produced the biggest wake I have seen in a while, at least 6 feet. It caused breakers; I was impressed.
After that that things started to quiet down because I was getting north of the shipping lanes.
By late afternoon, I could see Norway.
A great sight at the end of a great day.
I anchored that night in the islands of Norway. The first place I had picked based on the chart, when I pulled into the cove, it was clearly too tight, so I backed out and went about ½ mile to the west and found a much better place. I was only 50 feet from the island to the east, the direction the wind was blowing from, but I had about a quarter of a mile downwind to the west and that’s what I wanted.
I went to sleep and slept for 10 hours.
Next day, I had two hours into Kristiansand and in spite of the strong winds, this dock had both cleats and bollards, so it was easy to throw a line over and I was tied up in minutes in 30 knots of wind.
220 nm and 52 hours after leaving Denmark, I was in Norway.
Plan B did not last very long. Once it got dark, surrounded by giant behemoths, I knew I needed a new plan, ummm let me think, let’s call it Plan C.
So let’s recap:
Plan A. Run for 12 hours, stop for 12 hours, do this for three days straight.
Plan B. Run continuously for 36 hours through the day, night and another day.
its dark and It’s near midnight.
There are lots of ships all heading for the same point around as we are all heading around the same point of land.
There are six ships in sight, not counting the trawler that I had to go around a few miles back.
I have a new plan.
There is too much traffic not to pay constant attention. It was busy enough in the afternoon, but now that it’s dark, it has become really taxing.
One must correlate with what you see on the radar, then with the AIS depiction and what you actually see out of the window. The last four hours have been constant scanning, the radar, the nav program (with AIS), what do we see out front, and on the beams?
And most of all, what do we see behind us? These cargo ships are going at least twice my speed and Dauntless barely shows up on radar.
I must constantly go from side to side in the pilot house, open the door and check to make sure of what is behind me, then return to the radar and AIS to make sure I am seeing everyone. And they can see me.
Without AIS there would be a whole different problem, more like something like this, when small boats meet Giant Behemoths:
I will anchor just on the west side of the Skagen peninsula. I will curl around to the west and anchor just offshore in about 20 feet of water. Now, the only problem is that is still 25 miles away, more than 4 hours. I probably won’t get anchored until after 04:00, but it’s better than being run over.
P.S. In writing this, I apologize for not having more pictures to help me describe the situation better.
i thought I did, but in the heat of the moment, I was just trying to get run over or run into someone or something,
Evidently this is the reward for being patient and getting the things done yesterday that needed to be done:
Complete bus heater installation
Replace port side Racor fuel filter
Replace both engine fuel filters
Open the starboard tank, yet again and clean out
Change the starboard tank vent line
By 18:00 hours all was done. The fuel tank opening was necessitated by once again having some water in the starboard tank. Which led to only the second engine shutdown and the first one in over two years?
Opening the inspection port, which I hate doing, was necessitated by my not having moved the fuel vent previously after cleaning the tank. Just plain lazy on my part, and I paid the price by now having to do double the work.
The tank turned out to be in not bad shape, only about 1 quart of water, along with about a pint of black sludge. When I was done, I put about 30 gallons back in the tank so it would not sit totally empty and start rusting, again.
On removing the hose for the fuel vent from the fitting, there were some drops of greenish liquid on both the fitting and the hose. Since I’ve been suing green tinted fuel, I thought it was that, but I figured I better taste it to find out.
It was sea water, sweet and salty. Almost refreshing.
Yep, the smoking gun was revealed. That helped me feel better and justified moving of the vent once and for all.
So today, Wednesday, Plan A, its 190 nm to Norway, that will take 30 hours, 10 hours per day for three days, putting me into Kristiansand, Norway Friday evening.
Wanting to take advantage of the light winds I got up early, cast off and was underway before 07:00.
The day has only gotten nicer. The winds are even less than earlier, now down to 6 knots, with flat seas, or at least as flat as we ever see. Dauntless is motoring at its most efficient engine rpms of 1500 getting 6.1 knots.
This means a little better than 4 nm/gal (6.1nm*hr-1/1.5gal* hr-1)
We both could not be happier.
Also, I am reminded how much I love being on the water when I am not being tossed around like in a washing machine.
Plan A: motor 12 hours today, anchor for 12, then do it twice more, so on the last day, Friday, head WNW from the northern tip of Denmark to Norway; is being modified into Plan B. The forecast calls for light winds today, then tomorrow continued light from the east, but getting stronger Thursday and Friday.
And while the forecast winds for Friday are going to be stronger, 15 to 20 knots, with seas building to 4 feet, since it is from the east and I would be going just north of west, it would be following sea and the KK loves following seas.
But I think I will hedge my bets. I’d rather not take the chance on Friday’s winds. If they are off even by just 40° it will make the trip much more miserable.
Mid-afternoon, I am coming upon the marker just to the east of Anholt island and it seems everyone has the same thought. I have seen a lot of ships today, far more than I saw while in the English Channel.
And now we all seem to be chased to the same spot. the problem is these behemoths are so much bigger, like a fly compared to an eagle and they are usually going twice my speed.
I do like the finer things in life. Too bad we see these things so late in life. When the Buddha referred to enlightenment, he probably meant just that, old enough to be over youthful self-centeredness to now have the vision to see those things around us as they truly are and to appreciate and be grateful for what we received from others. To recognize the things we may have distained in youth: duty, honor and respect are in actuality, the core of our being.
I suppose my thoughts have been directed this way because we are docked in the old basin in Honfleur, a day before the 6th of June, D-day. Even though it was 71 years ago, there are more American flags flying here then I have ever seen in all my travels in Europe over the past 40 years. I think because along the Normandy coast, these people, or their parents, great grandparents, actually witnessed Americans dying to liberate them.
It’s more personal, not an afterthought like in the rest of Europe where they take such things for granted.
OK so let’s talk about the last few days before my editor cuts me off.
But indulge me and let be start at the end.
All’s Well that Ends Well.
I‘m wearing my blue pinstripe suit for the first time since leaving New York. It feels good to be dressed. Oh, I’m wearing it with a sweater and tee shirt, so it is casual, but still, I feel good. Being alone, I have fewer occasions to dress well. I like dressing for Julie, as she does for me. And just like clothes, she would appreciate this restaurant as much as I do.
I have just had one of the best dinners I have had in a long time, certainly since Spain and Italy, at La Gambetta in Honfleur, France. As I sat there, watching the meticulous setting of the tables, the level of service, savored the marvelously prepared dishes, I thought of my father.
My father first came to France sometime in the mid-1960’s. I think. At least that’s when I was first aware of it. My parents were from the generation that kids didn’t have a need to know everything. But mom always talked about how much father loved France, clearly the food, and the wine, as he did bring home a case of wine from the Chateau du Bost, and women.??
Maybe it is as simple as the sense of well being and caring one gets form being in a restaurant that only has a single seating all evening. The focus is on the diners at hand, not what the future may hold. This is the norm in most of europe and everywhere in France, Spain and Italy. I understand more Dutch then French, yet the French always treat me well.
30 hours earlier, we had just finished docking. Adjusting the lines took another hour. Being on too short a finger pier is always challenging, as is the fact that our beam of 16’ is really wide for Europe. We may be the fattest boat in the harbor. But we had come through one lock, one bridge and a night on anchor unscathed, so I was ready to celebrate.
It wasn’t till we were firmly docked, as I took my celebratory shower, I luxuriated in the sense of another job well done. The first phase of the summer cruise was over. Dauntless and I were on the continent. We had dealt with the boat yard, we had dealt with the bottom paint, we had started the installation of the Wallas heater, and the bus heater. The lazerette was clean and organized. The Electroscan had been replaced by the Purasan and the Maretron system was not only giving me the correct data, it was even talking to Coastal Explorer. I had gotten the water maker up and running with the new auxiliary pump and new switch system. Life was good.
Larry and Karla were enounced in their cozy hotel room in Honfleur. They deserved it, as I had worked those two like a rented mule these last three weeks. Dauntless was never cleaner, nor brighter than the day we bought her. It was wonderful to have old friends, Larry I met on T-3 in 1973, and I was grateful to have another 4 hands to help with all the jobs to be done. All our visitors for the rest of the summer will benefit.
Yesterday, I had also finally gotten the tides and currents right. We hauled anchor at 05:00, currents were changing at 06:00 and we needed that full 6 hours of favorable current to get to Honfleur (just south of Le Harve) at a reasonable time.
We made such good time, 7 to 9 knots, that an hour out of the mouth of the Seine, I could reduce the rpms to 1200 and still made 6 knots to arrive at the lock for Honfleur with time to spare.
We had had 7 to 10 knots winds on our nose all day, but less than 10 knots, even with a current that is against the wind, meant the waves were only 1 to 2 feet. Best seas we have had for the previous three weeks. Our 10 hour trip took 8.
And quite different than the debacle of the day before, where we did 48 miles in the first 6 hours, then took 3 hours to go the final 6 miles, and then it got worse.
Day 08 St. Helier, Jersey to Port St. Peter, Guernsey
Originally, I had planned the route in a most course fashion, just looking at the distance between the islands of Jersey and Guernsey and seeing the number “10” in my mind. 10 nm no problem; two hours.
So we set out, bright and relatively early. Only minutes into the cruise, the first bugaboo rears its ugly head. Anyone see the issue yet? Maybe you just read the previous blog? Here let me remind you, my own words from the previous blog:
Just before landfall, the winds turned westerly and north westerly at 25 knots. That combined with the much longer fetch, we immediately saw waves a few feet higher. All of sudden we were getting 6 foot waves on the port stern quarter. That angle of incidence does make the roll more than usual, and we had one roll of 15°. But not much more than a curiosity, as the port was in sight.
Ah yes, now, as we left port, the winds and seas were unchanged. But we were now going the opposite direction. For the first hour, the current was with us, but the winds were against, so we those nasty, steep, short period waves. The surfing safari we had the day before, now became the ride on the wild mouse. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I actually left my feet. As I stood behind the wheel, trying to get the right combination of speed and course to reduce the pitching. A wave actually hit the anchor, we were going 1000 rpms, but I reduced it to idle after that. The Maretron data (ignore the speed thru water, as I have not been able to calibrate it) shows in that first hour the boat pitching. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but it clearly shows a series of three waves where the rhythm was such that the normal pitch up, had been 2° suddenly increases to 5° and then culminates in a 8° pitch up. Let me tell you, at 8 degrees, I’m thinking not of boat, but of an airplane, and that we should rotate now, and gear up.
I slow down even more, just above idle. After an hour, we go to the western most point of Jersey and could change course to NNW. Now the seas were 6 to 10 feet, but they were on the beam and the paravanes take care of business pretty well. As you watch the video, it may seem like a lot of rolling, 4 to 6 ° in each direction, an occasional 8° roll, BUT compared to pre-paravane days, that’s nothing, as in in the past, I simply would not have been able to take this course or I’d have had to alter course by 60°.
The extent of the pitch was new however. I had only had pitching like that once before, in Long Island Sound. In those days, seemingly eons ago (OK only 18 months), I had tried to temper the ride by reducing speed, but I never quite reduced it enough. On that occasion I had the rpm’s down to 1400, the waves were 8 to 12 feet and Dauntless would go down the face of one wave, and as we pitched upward the top of the next wave would get sheared off in the wind and go flying over the fly bridge, not even hitting the pilot house!
Earlier that morning, I had come through the Cape Cod Canal, having spent the night anchored off of Plymouth, Mass. I must have been about a half hour behind the only other boat I saw on the water that day, another Krogen. But as we turned west into Rhode Island Sound (an extension of Long Island Sound) I lost track of him. I finally pulled into the bay to go up the Narragansett River and “Coral Bay” was already anchored there. I recognized the boat, because we had also been in the same anchorage in Maine and Steve had come by to talk. We talked again after this ordeal, but neither one of us had the strength to get the dingy down to visit. Poor Dauntless, another day in where she was ridden hard and put away wet.
So all these memories are flooding back as we slog off the coast of Jersey. Therefore I knew now to reduce the rpms to idle if necessary. An hour and half after we had left the dock, we finally turn NNW for Guernsey, I realized that from here it was 10 miles, but not even to the Port of St. Peter our destination, but to some point south of the island.
Thus, my anticipated two hours trip became 5 hours.
The French sailboat Anfre, with Christian and Matin, stopped by Dauntless. They had left after us and had taken four hours. We had a great visit though and they have helped me plan the next two days to Honfleur to better plan on the currents. Also using Coastal Explorer, I have finally figured out how to better use the current tables.
Tomorrow, we have an 8 knot current to deal with off the Cape of La Hague, check out the current gauge, Argoss-WE 500-1355. Clearly, our departure time is predicated on that, but remember the sill. Our harbor must also be open to get out.
I’m playing with the big boys now; I better get to sleep early!
FYI The Delorme InReach turned itself off yesrterday. The AIS information is up to date if I am in a port. Also, having trouble uploading pictures for this post.
Providence Rhode Island to Castletownbere, Ireland:
3624 nm, 6523 km.;
638 running hours
Average speed 5.7 knots
1013 gallons of fuel consumed
Average = 1.59 gal/hr.
Average 3.6 nm/gal= 1.7 km/liter
Cost of fuel $4000
Cost per nm = $1.1/nm
Stuff that broke: Four Stories and lessons Learned
The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga
The Mast Cleat Adventure
The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Hijinx
Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going
Other Lessons learned
Food and Provisioning
Route Planning and Execution
Organization and Storage of Spare Parts
Odd and Ends
Equipment: Must-haves, Nice-to-Haves
The crux of a successful ocean passage
I first wrote this “Post Mortem” 8 days after the end of our passage, but never published it because I realized it had morphed into many things. Thus there will soon follow a post titled, “Finding the Right Boat” and “Weather or Not”, where I talk about how to, and how not to, use a weather forecast.
Our successful ocean passage was the culmination of a planning process that started 6 years earlier and four years before we even had a boat. The success was due two major things: finding the right boat and having the right attitude. Having the right boat protects fools and drunks. Having the right attitude means you know what to except, from the best to the worst. If your plan is to call the Coast Guard under the “worst” circumstances, stay home.
During the worst of it, while I was miserable, I was not afraid. I knew the Krogen could handle it and even realized she can handle much worse.
The planning and learning process is key to a successful passage. As I had read virtually every account of small boats crossing oceans and books and stories of freighters throughout the 20th Century, I had a good sense as to what worked and what didn’t. That can’t be overstated because it speaks to our vision and that’s the first step of a successful passage. So this trip really started seven years ago, before I knew of Kadey Krogen, trawlers, or really anything.
But first, our passage is really not that special. People have done the same thing in in smaller boats, in far worse conditions, with many more handicaps. Almost everything I have learned and talk about, I first read someplace else, by someone with far more experience than I will ever have. Just remember that Columbus did the round trip more than 500 years ago, with three boats that were only 10’ to 17’ longer than Dauntless.
If you’re reading this, you probably read the details of the trip as it happened, or soon thereafter. So for this entry, I’m going to talk about what we learned in hindsight for the next ocean passage.
Stuff that broke: Three Stories and Lessons Learned
The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga:
An operator-induced failure.
Only a day after I left Miami with the new paravanes, while I adjusted the fore stays, I had also adjusted the up-down stays, Amsteel Blue 3/8”, which take the vertical loads of the paravane fish. I had not fully locked them tight on the horn of the cleat upon completion. I probably thought I would re-adjust them once more and then simply forgot. So, while they were wrapped in a figure 8 three times on the cleat on the mast, I had not “locked” it on the horn. Amsteel Blue is slippery enough that if not locked securely with at least 3 or 4 half hitches, they will get loose.
And that’s what happened. The Figure 8 got loose, thus letting the pole swing from its position of 45° to almost straight down, 170°. The rub rail, stopping the pole from facing straight down. This put a kink in the pole where it bent around the rub rail. Not a bad bend, but just enough to significantly weaken the pole. In trying to get the pole back to its original position, I took out the retaining bolt that would keep the pole in its cup that is attached to the gunnel. But I still couldn’t get the pole out, so I eventually got it back to position, but now, the retaining bolt was not in place. I knew it wasn’t needed because all the force on the pole is into the cup, not outward, but months later, it did contribute, if not cause the pole to subsequently bend into an “L” shape.
So on the last day of the trip during one big roll within 60 miles of Ireland, the same windward pole went vertical. However, the kink in the pole, even though very slight, allowed the paravane bird to put a force on the pole that rotated the pole 90° with the absence of the retaining bolt, so that the kink now faced aft. As soon as that happened, the force the bird put on the pole bent the pole 90°, and of course, now this allowed the pole to come out of the cup, making its retrieval even harder.
An hour later, after sitting dead in the water for that time, I had managed to get the pole up on deck. In my adrenaline rush, I never noticed how well the boat handled being left on its own, wallowing in the seas with its beam to the seas, which were running 8 to 15 feet at that time. In hindsight, we were bobbing in the ocean, with less roll than when underway.
Replace bent stuff and all hardware before leaving on an ocean passage.
John Duffy, who had rigged the paravane system, told me to replace it, as the bend would significantly weaken it. I also probably did not mention that I had taken the retaining bolt out and had not replaced it, as the pole had rotated slightly, not allowing the bolt to be re-inserted.
The pole was replaced in Castletwonbere for 300 Euros. All the hardware is back in place.
The Mast Cleat Adventure:
A day out of Nova Scotia, as we sat in the Pilot House enjoying the world go by our living room window, we heard a noise that sounded like a gun shot. Knowing that no one on board was packin,’ I looked at the mast and saw immediately that the cleat holding the up-down line was now horizontal instead of vertical.
We chopped power to relieve the strain and I ran up to the fly bridge, though taking the time to put on my PFD (Personal Flotation Device, a life preserver). One of the two 3/8” bolts attaching the cleat to the mast had broken. Not wanting to spend a lot of time to try to re-attach the cleat, I tied the up-down line around the mast in a number of clove hitches and then tied it off to the other mast cleat. This way, much of the force on the line, instead of being transmitted to the cleat, would now be manifested in trying to squeeze the mast.
This new system worked so well that while in Horta, I redid both up-down lines, so that they came to a three clove hitches around the mast, before being tied off on the cleat, with a final half hitch on the horn of the cleat for each line.
John Duffy in Miami designed and installed a great paravane stabilization system, which is not only relatively light-weight, but also easily adjustable and cost-effective.
While in Ireland, I also added one more feature: I had had another winch installed in Florida to assist in retrieving the paravanes. In Ireland, I also replaced the lines on the winch with 3/16” Amsteel Blue lines that I had gotten, 300 feet at a really bargain price from Parks, of Hopkins- Carter in Miami. By using this new, stronger line, it added an extra margin of safety, because it is strong enough to hold the paravanes while underway should I have a failure of the up-down line as described above. It would also allow me to retrieve the paravanes, even if the boat is not at a full standstill. This would be fast and useful, in case of emergency.
This was the first and last time I put on the PFD on this passage.
The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Highjinx
Another operator-induced problem.
After the failure, a few days from the Azores, the pressure switch failed. After screwing with the pump for a while, I just bypassed the pressure switch and the pump went back to work. A day later the entire pump gave up the ghost. I discovered by reading the instruction manual that I had installed the pump upside down, with the electrical parts under the pump itself. Evidently, you should not do that because if the pump has minor leaks, it gets into the electronics right away.
It behooves one to read installation instructions before the fact, not after.
Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going
I have finally deduced that the water, around 5 gallons, got into the starboard fuel tank during the last 36 hours of the trip thru the fuel vent line. How do I know this? After I replaced the O-rings of the fuel caps, while the old rings were worn, there is no way a significant amount of water could have entered that way. In addition, the water was only in the starboard, lee side tank.
Up until this time, Dauntless had been in seas almost as rough, though not for this extended length of time. But even if only for 8 hours, no water had ever entered the tank before in our previous 2000! hours of cruising.
What was different this time?
A much longer time of seas on the beam, three and a half full days, with 54 out of 72 hours, being in large 15+ foot waves.
The last 12 hours, with the failure of the windward paravane pole, the boat remained heeled over to port for a longer period of time, as the recovery was slower.
While all the above was going on, for reasons that were just chance, I had been running on the port (windward) tank, which was now near empty, thus for the last 2 days of the passage, we were feeding off the port (lee) side tank.
Thus, just when the port tank was being used, the boat was heeling more to port, thus keeping the fuel vent which is at deck level under water for a significant portion of time.
The lee side tank sucked in the water thru the fuel vent. Had I been using the other tank, in all likelihood, this would not have occurred.
I will move the fuel vent hose, so that this can never happen again.
In addition, I will make it a practice to use the windward tank under such conditions. I could have easily transferred fuel to the starboard tank while underway. It was just chance that I had filled the starboard tank in Horta and I therefore used that fuel first, since I knew my fuel in the port tank was good.
Other Lessons Learned
Food and Provisioning:
Maybe from reading too many books written by frugal sailors, my provisioning could have been better. I had too many things I don’t eat, like rice and beans, and not enough of what I do eat. I still have enough calories on Dauntless to feed a family in Africa for 2 years. No, I do not really know what I was thinking.
We should have had a bit more lettuce. Romaine lettuce in those packages of three lasts for a few weeks in fridge.
Eggs. Julie likes eggs. I forgot she really likes eggs.
Mayonnaise, to make egg salad with all those eggs. I like egg salad.
Route Planning and Execution:
Good job with planning. Very poor execution.
Not having the paravane stabilizers for the first 3,000 miles of cruising with Dauntless made me very sensitive to the direction of winds and waves. The Krogen handles following seas exceedingly well. Thus I carried that mentality with me on this passage. I made too much of an effort to keep the seas behind us and off the beam, thus our northeasterly course leaving Cape Cod and our southeasterly course leaving Nova Scotia.
In hindsight, it was an overreaction in both cases. That continued with my solo voyage from Horta, with the zigzag of day three, first NW, then SE then after 24 hours of stupidness, northward.
In the future, I will let the paravanes do their job and keep a course more directly (great circle route) to our destination. In fact, while I did not record the data, my feeling now is that the rolling of Dauntless is about the same with the paravanes, whether the sea is following or on the beam. Without the paravanes, there is a night and day difference.
Organization and Storage of Spare Parts:
I’m grateful that I didn’t need to use any spare parts. But the haste in which we left, meant we obtained a lot of stuff at the last minute. It was put away, with only a general idea of what was where. Had I needed anything, I would have found it eventually, maybe even by the time, the westerly winds pushed us all the way to Europe, a month or two later. At least I would not have starved.
This winter has been spent re-packing virtually all parts and tools. In addition I have a written inventory, with location, storage bin, model numbers etc. Before the next passage, it will even be computerized.
How did I decide what spare parts to take or not?
This turns out to be relatively easy. I picked those parts I could both afford and could replace myself. So, we had an extra starter, even though i had no intention to ever turn off the engine. We had an extra alternator. i did not have a spare injector pump, too expensive. Except for the fuel injector pump, I had all the other external engine stuff: injector tubes, hoses, belts, lift pump, etc. We had extra hoses, belts, etc for every critical component. Therefore, we had nothing extra for the generator, since I don’t use it underway. We had no internal engine parts, pistons, etc, becuase while I could probably replace it while docked, it was not something I could see myself replacing underway. But also, that is not a typical failure point of the engine. Internal stuff usually shows signs of wear for a long time before failure.
Odds and ends:
If I have not talked about it above, we ain’t changing it.
That means stuff like the DeLorme InReach will not be changed. We like the limitations that system imposes. I don’t need to call mom when the shit hits the fan.
Probably will add some redundancy to the ComNav Autopilot. Unlike a sail boat, we cannot tie the wheel and expect to go in any semblance of a straight line; I tried.
One of my issues has always been that in a seaway, there can be no noise of moving objects in the boat. Moving things can cause damage in and of themselves, and must be controlled. So, even at 40° of roll, every few minutes, during the worst of it, I heard no crashing or banging of stuff. Everything must be secure.
Need more recorded movies and Korean Dramas. They really help to pass the time. Yes, one can tire of just reading. When I was alone, I got really bored.
On the other hand, I did back in to computer card games. Bridge in particular, yes, I am of a generation that learned bridge.
I hope to never do another 10 day passage alone again. But I will if I have to.
Having said that, the next passage next year, will be part of a much longer voyage and we will be pretty much under way for 18 months. With Julie working, I will need a lot more help during the many segments the trip will entail. I will put it out there on Trawler Forum seeking those who want to be a part of the experience and maybe even share some expenses and I’m sure some shenanigans.
Nice to have
Four 110W Solar Panels and two Controllers
Lexan Storm Windows
C-Map North Atlantic and Western Europe Charts
Boat computer and router
Digital Yacht AIS Transceiver
Katadyn 160 Water maker
Vitrifrigo Freezer and Refrigerator
Delorme InReach text only sat phone
Splendid Vented Washer/Dryer Combo
Spare parts for the Ford Lehman SP135 Engine
Other Spare parts
Revere Off Shore Commander 4 person Life raft
Here are a few more pictures and videos. The file name incorporates the date time the file was recorded, thus 20140827_1927 means it was recorded 27 Aug 2014 at 19:27 (7:27 p.m.) hours.