One needs to have a good plan to accomplish the goal, but sometimes, life happens, plans change and maybe the goal too.
The rub is, it’s even easier to change the goal, then to make a better plan for the circumstances.
But changing goals is a slippery slope; so easy to do, but before you know it, you’ve accomplished nothing.
In 8th grade I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist. Seven years later, in my last year at the University of Washington, I hated school, I was bored and tired of not having any money. But unlike many of my college friends who dropped out, transferred or just disappeared, I persevered.
I had a goal to accomplish. Three Master’s degrees later, each one to further some career goal, I look back and am satisfied with the goals, though some of the plans to accomplish those goals should have been re-thought.
Dauntless has been in my life for 5 years now. Inexplicitly, it doesn’t seem that long at all to me at all, it still feels like yesterday or at least last year.
The goal to take a boat to Europe and then S. Korea is even older, maybe 9 years. That goal drove the search for the right boat. A boat that could not only cross oceans but do it in a manner that I could afford on my meager pension.
The original plan was to cross the North Pacific this coming summer and arrive in Yeosu, S. Korea by October 2018. Instead, I find myself agonizing over how to get up the Pacific coast of Mexico. The North Pacific seems further away than ever.
But the goal doesn’t change; though the plan must.
I now have some intrepid fellows helping me with the first and hardest, part of the cruise north. Having good crew can put a lot of wind in your sails. It also allows me further tweak the plan. Maybe I can get to San Francisco Bay sooner, rather than later. Then, I would be able to spend some of this summer and fall cruising with good weather and friends.
So maybe some baby steps are in order for the next few years, but the destination remains the same.
If I’ve learned nothing in the last 60 years, it’s that I need 6 to 7 hours sleep on a routine basis to not get into a sleep deficit. The watches on this passage were set up to facilitate that.
In spite of the drama I like instilling in my life, for every one day of “crisis” we spend about 5 to 6 days of peaceful boredom. It’s even possible that the weekly crisis is not totally random.
Why, you wonder?
Not so much on this trip, but in the past, most of my problems were caused my me. Complacency, boredom, who knows, I decide everything is going so well, so I may aa well see what happens if I do this. This last crisis was a case in point. I was “experimenting”.
My only point here is that in spite of the appearance of the narrative, very little time is spent dealing with anything. The hardest part of a long passage is not getting bored, even more so in these conditions that virtually never changed.
So, December 23rd dawned to bright skies and easterly winds; we were feeling good.
The one lingering issue was the amount of air still in the Hydraulic steering system (which is controlled by the helm wheel or the ComNav autopilot), which caused a hellacious banging every few seconds as the auto-pilot moved fluid thru the lines. This was exacerbated by the location of my cabin directly under the pilot house.
Normally our brains filter out routine noises. I once lived next to a church steeple in a small town in Germany. Every 15 min, some combination of bells would ring: 15’ after the hour 1 gong, 30’ after 2 gongs, 45’ after 3 gongs, then 4 gongs on the hour, followed by the number of gongs based on the hour, 1 = 1, until 12.
Within a few days, I didn’t even hear it any more. But I did find it nice to be able to know the time in the middle of the night, without turning on a light. I do love Germany.
Even years later, when I would visit and sleep in the same house, after the first gong, I’d “hear” no more.
This wasn’t like that. Since the noises had no pattern, with a variable duration and frequency, my brain did not do what to make of it, so it made sure I heard everything. As the days wore on, while the noises were decreasing, they were still significant and I found myself getting less and less sleep. Three hours overnight, then an hour here, maybe a couple there.
Did that contribute to our travails on the last night? Probably a bit, maybe more, but Micah and I had the worst night of the entire trip on our last night before pulling into Martinique.
The days since our big repair had been good. In fact, Christmas, December 25th, was one of our best weather days, with winds not going over 25 knots, thus our ride was great with light rolling to 10°, worst 15°. I made our last big steak and candied sweet potatoes. We even opened a bottle of Bordeaux that my French friend PJ had given me.
That was also our second whale sighting. There were two whales, about 30’ long cruised with us for about 15 minutes. Very nice.
The Whale Video
Dauntless rolling along, watching this makes me miss the ocean
Our ETA to Martinique was noon on the 28th. Therefore, the night of the 27th, was our 20th night at sea since leaving the Canaries.
I started the last 24 hours by putting the last of our oil, 1.1L into the engine. I estimated that at worst, we would arrive about 1 liter low, which is normal. (and we did). But there was no point in shutting down the engine to check at this point, as I had no more oil anyway.
Just as I go to bed at 22:00, ETA in 14 hours, the starboard paravane pole bounces vertical. This necessitates stopping the boat and letting the pole fall back into position, once the rearward pressure is taken off the line to the bir
The starboard pole has never done this before in the previous 15K+ miles!
25 minutes later, it does it again. Something is not right, but I am tired and even in hindsight, it’s not totally clear to me under the circumstances what I should have done.
All evening the winds had been increasing. They were now easterly at 25 steady gusting to 40. Clearly the seas had grown, again with the annoying swells from both NE and SE and the wind driven waves from the east. Our rolls were getting substantially more, routinely to 20° and the worst, a few times an hour to 30°.
Even on a rally boat like Dauntless, a 30° roll is significant. Or I should say, it feels significant in the pilot house. If I am in the engine room, I hardly notice, even the salon is much better, but I digress.
I attributed the increased rolling to the winds and seas. It was dark out, so it’s hard to estimate seas. Also, since we were approaching the island of Martinique, the waves would start to change.
But at 02:40, all of a sudden, the boat rolled over at 15° (normal) to port, but was really slow in rolling back. This meant the opposite stabilizing bird was not working for some reason.
Sure enough, I had gotten up to see why the boat motion was different and saw right away the starboard bird being pulling along the surface.
We stopped to retrieve it. It was broken and later that morning as I looked at it, I realized the bolts that held the vane in place had come loose. That was probably the reason the pole went vertical earlier in the evening, as the bird was no longer running straight. That added a tension that eventually broke the plywood wing of the bird in half.
Now, in a strange occurrence, maybe due to lack of sleep, after we pulled the bird, we continued on with just the one port side bird deployed. I’ve run many times with only one bird. It is quite effective on a beam sea with winds that are not too strong.
But with a following sea, only one bird, is only half effective, so we rolled our way into Martinique that way.
I say strange because all that morning, I had been tripping over the extra bird that was no longer in the lazerrett. We had gotten the bird that was jammed in the lazerrett out and even cleaned up the lazerrett. So, it was sitting, inconveniently, on the port side deck. It would have taken all of 30 seconds to attach it to the starboard pole and throw it in the water.
Oh well, All’s Well that End’s Well.
And of course, as we approach the harbor of Le Marin, the only sailboat we’ve seen in 19 days decided to tack right in front of us. Much like the last idiot on our first night out of the Canaries.
Warning. Harsh language is involvedand I don’t hate all sailboats. But for the life of my with an entire ocean in front of him, why he cut across our bow is beyond me. I had been watching him for quite a while, had he delayed his tack 10 seconds or changed his course by a few degrees he would not have ended up directly in front of our bow. I had to virtually stop as to not hit him… umm, maybe that is the answer, could he have needed a new paint job?
And my feeling were certainly exacerbated by the fact that this was only the second SV we had seen and the previous encounter, our first night out, was eerily similar.
My Friend Alfa Mike asked the following, so I thought I would share with everyone:
>Do they speak a lot of English Language in Martinique or is it all French?
some English, once in a while, you need to know some basic French.
> What have you seen & experienced there?
This past weekend, we drove up north to see rain forest and volcano. Inactive of course, so not much to see.
> What have you done in the boat while there.? Repairs, upgrades?
at this point, there is still much to do. Not helped that yesterday I spent all day to do a 1 hour job. I hate working with wood, like the interior.
Working on electric in fwd bilge, adding small bilge pump.
Rewiring holding tank switch so that it can’t get turned on accidentally.
Micah patched dingy.
Rerigged paravane pole.
One pole needs to be replaced. Probably do that in Mexico or So Cal.
Also, rigged a preventer so windward pole will not go vertical when boat rolls heavily to lee side.
Finally finished 3rd 20# bottle of propane yesterday. Those 3 bottles were filled in Tallinn in July 2015. That’s 7000 miles ago. Luckily have two extra bottles that a sailboat boat gave me in northern France last summer as he was not going back to USA. I have not been able to get propane since Estonia last year, but am told I can in St Lucia. But I can wait till So Cal possibly.
Must still replace 2 hydraulic hoses and bleed system for AP and helm steering.
Complete oil change, i.e. fill engine with oil.
We’ll fuel again in St. Lucia, only to half full about 250 gal
Repair bracket for wx instruments on mast, the following winds (when we were stopped for Hydraulic line) managed to wrap paravane line around it and mangled it, because I was so happy to get one problems solved, I created another one.
Winds also broke stern flag pole. Same happened to Sweden sailboat docked next to us.
All 5 fuel filters are changed (2 Racors, 2 engine mounted and fuel polish)
Replacing all screws in rub rail is proving to be a real PIA. As they are rusted and not coming out. These are Inox screws I bought in Ireland and again in Portugal. Big f…ing mistake.
General clean up, still finding flying fish on fly bridge (where else would they be 🙂
Spent $200 on stainless steel screws.
Another $200 on oil and ATF for rudder steering
$200 on rental car for 3 days
Yes, everything is in increments of $200.
Finally took Icom VHF radio to shop, as my friend Pat in Waterford told me to do last year. It’s unfixable it seems. So, will take VHF radio from fly bridge and install in pilot house.
Is it Humid? Hot, a bit muggy, yesterday was first day without wind, so then the boat really heats up.Did I tell you I don’t like hot weather? Thus the 12 years in Alaska and two years with Dauntless in Northern Europe and now returning to first Southeast Alaska and then Japan & S. Korea.
>Now after all is said and done, In hindsight what would I have done differently?
In terms of places to go or not, it’s hard to say. Only having spent time in southern Spain and Morocco can I say that I would not have missed it. But had I not gone, how would I know that? It would have better financially and sailing wise to go direct from the bottom of Portugal to Las Palmas on Grand Canaria.
Should have spent some hard-earned money 3 years ago, to be able to use 230v, 50hz shore power to run ACs. I did try to get them to run off inverter, but the inverter produces a square sine wave and both the Splendid washer/dryer and the AC’s will not run on that.
I could have tried the transformer I use not for the water heater. It would supply 120v, but 50hz to AC. That swill probably work. But at this point, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Back in Southern Spain and Portugal when I was dying of the heat, I should have thought of that.
Yes, I could always run generator, by the 1 gal/hour at $5/gal fuel. Now, 8 hours is only $40 per day, but adding that to expensive marina at $55/day, that’s close to my desired cap of $100 per day.
Speaking of money. My average daily cost for all living and boat expenses is about $109 per day. Though I still have yet to update the last month, I do not think it will change significantly. This is also a few dollars below the previous year. So, all in all, the expenses are about what I expect. The proportion is also the same, 25% for each:
Fuel & oils
Marinas & docks
Food, groceries & eating out
, like cell phone, transportation, cars, trains, planes and automobiles.
> How do you like it in Martinique?
Love it. People, food could not be better. I am so lucky that I was told to head here when it became clear that I could m=not make the southing I needed to get to Barbados. It was only a 20° more southerly course, but with the large seas we had, it was not worth being beaten up.
In hindsight, Martinique is a much nicer place to clear in, eat and drink than probably anyplace in the Caribbean. Martinique is a Department (like a State) of France. Thus, it feels like France because it is France. It’s not the bureaucratic mess that Portugal, southern Spain and Morocco are.
FYI in terms of how they treat boaters:
Northern Spain, Galicia is just like northern Europe and France, as are the Cana.ries.
Southern Spain and Portugal were totally different, and not in a positive way.
I was told that it’s because of the Arab penchant for bureaucracy.
> How long do you plan to stay?
until sometime next week. Then heading south, a bit before heading west to the ABC’s
> Any comments you would like to make about the trip you just completed now that your more rested up?
Very glad I don’t have to do it again for another 18 months