2020 Update on Paravanes and a Few Other Things

First, I’m still alive, though it was a close call. No, it wasn’t Covid-19, but something far worse, boredom.

I hate being bored and perversely, the less I do, the less I want to do. Thus, my creative energy that it takes to write these blogs or make YouTube videos seems to have gone into hibernation for the winter. Is it back now? Only time will tell, but since I’ve gotten a few emails asking if I was still alive, I thought I better get off my ass and write.

Second, also got an email complaining about the most recent appearance change on the blog I did a few months ago. They said it was harder to read because of the dark background. Honesty, I had noticed the same thing myself, but was hoping that I was the only one who noticed! See just lazy. Like hearing that strange noise in the middle of a passage and just hoping it goes away on its own (fat chance).

Tell me what you think of this new theme (background) and if anyone has any suggestions &/or improvements, I would be glad to hear them, though the easier they are for me to implement, the more likely it will happen.

Third, living on the Dauntless in the winter in Alaska is very different than crossing oceans or cruising to new and strange lands. More on this later, as it will be the topic in an upcoming blog.

Lastly, below is a blog I wrote mostly about the paravanes in 2016. I did write a summary of what I have done and the final paravane system setup. I will post that in the separate post.

My shopping cart with the new birds

While In Astoria, Oregon, last summer, I was finally able to get two new paravane birds.  Over 25,000 miles and 5 years, I had left the USA with 4 paravane birds, two 26″ and two slightly smaller at 24″ (as measured at the base of the triangle of the bird).  Going to 24″ was a mistake. I was so happy with the performance of the 26″ birds, I thought I would try the 24″ to see if they was as effective, but with reduced drag. Yes, just like a perpetual motion machine!

If I have learned anything over the last 6 years, it is that you can not escape the physical laws of the universe. Work (as in the physics definition of work as the product of Force and distance) perfectly explains the effectiveness of the paravane birds and the drag they produce.

Therefore, If I deploy just the windward bird (being the most effective), if it reduces the roll 80% of what both birds would do, then the drag will also be 80% of the total speed reduction had I deployed both birds. In the same way, the 24″ birds did not induce as much drag, but they also did not reduce the roll as much.

So, last summer, I decided to buy the 28″ birds, while in Astoria, at that glorious store, Englung Marine. With stores in the Pac NW, along the coast from Westport WA to Eureka, CA, it’s a must stop for any boater who wants the best bang for their buck.

I didn’t have a call to use them after the first day out of Astoria, but I did use them just the other day when we were returning to Wrangell from a a few days of cruising and fishing. The wind had picked up to mid to high teens from the south, producing a nasty very short period sea of 2 to 3 feet. With such a sea on the beam, this Kadey Krogen will get into quite a quick, deep roll of about 10 degrees to the lee and 5 or 6 to the windward.

Not terrible for what D and I have been through but a different story for the Vietnamese landlubbers. Also, the boat is set up for living aboard in port, not crossing the Atlantic, therefore, I deployed one bird immediately and was impressed how much the one 28″ bird suppressed the rolling.

 

An earlier post:

Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better

2019: This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.

June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer

While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster.  Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.

Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.

But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.

It’s good Dauntless music.

But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba.  And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.

But then he really made his  name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.

 

I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.

Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him.  From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.

That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months.  There are still a few projects to complete.  My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska.  Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)

I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.

Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.

Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case.  Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.

So in my case, I came up with 17 feet.  This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.

So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side.  Sounds like a no-brainer right?  Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.

What could go wrong?  Am I not being 50% safer?  That’s what a politician would try to tell you.

No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.

In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear.   While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.

Crossing the North Sea

But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow.  The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.

Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down.  If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.ocean wave

Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up.  Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water.  Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.

So less is not always better.

And now, I will show you why more is not always better either.  Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.

I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.

The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy.  I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.

We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.

Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.

Dauntless on a mooring in Scotland

 

Our Alaska Wedding

Trinh & Richard’s Alaska Wedding tells the story of our meeting in Vietnam and Trinh’s (aka Tee) and Thien’s arrival in the USA and Alaska

With some still shots of us in Vietnam, the videos are of on Dauntless cruising between Ketchikan and Tenakee Warm Springs, Alaska, where we got married on 17 August 2019.

A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar

Our chart leaving the Columbia River Bar

The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.

And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.

So, more on those problems later.

+++

Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.

Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.

Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.

As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless,  4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.

The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?

I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.

I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.

As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.

The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.

Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.

It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.

One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.

In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.

That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.

But then you all know that.

 

The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:

Dauntless at Sea Vlog 12

 

Leave the Dance With the One You Brung

I wrote a story for the winter Kadey Krogen magazine, Waypoints.

People occasionally ask me why KK or weren’t you afraid? etc., so I ended up writing a story that was tryly heartfelt.

More than heartfelt, it distilled feelings that have only gotten stronger after 6 years and 25,000 miles.

In a few years, when we’re ready to leave Southeast Alaska to cross the North Pacific, I’ll fill the tanks and cast off the lines, with the knowledge that the boat is ready.

The question has come up again on Trawler Forum, so i thought I would post this and include the Waypoints story, which begins on page 6.

My story is “Leave the Dance, with the One You Brung”

 

On a Roll

Yesterday, I completed two things on the nice to do list: replacement of the Raritan water heater anode and replacement of a terminal block for my 120-volt neutral circuits in the engine room distribution panel.

The new anode is on the right

After two months, I’ve finally hit my stride and actually feel confident in what I am doing. That manifested itself in those two completions yesterday. Instead of taking a couple of days, they took a couple of hours and I didn’t have to redo anything.

This got me to thinking about a job interview I had just the other day.  I found myself talking about the importance of not overwhelming students, especially students who may be far being in whatever work that needs to be done.

I mentioned in the interview that even when a student was far behind, let’s say they need to complete 20 projects or work assignments by years’ end. It’s already February and they have nothing done, with only a few months to go. It’s easy for a teacher to just be upfront about it, if you don’t get these done; you’ll fail.

I’ve seen teachers do that countless times. But it won’t accomplish the stated goal of getting that student to be successful, (though it does make the class smaller). If a student sees a mountain of work to do, they never get started, discouraged, not seeing how they can get it all done, they give up before they even start.

That’s me, now and then.

My driving lights are lighting up that sailboat

So, two months ago, when I made my list of the top half dozen things to get done before departure, I knew the last was far bigger, but I couldn’t overwhelm myself. I didn’t want to paralyze myself with indecision. Now, I know many of the readers here are successful boaters because they just see what needs to be done and get to doing it.

In the same way half of all students are impervious to the adults in their lives who get in their way, be it parents, teachers, or anyone else. They’re going to learn and be successful no matter what.  It’s not by chance that the historic graduation rate in the last 50 years continues to be about 50 to 60%.

I’m not in the group. I needed a teacher to be able to at least steer me in the right direction or a teacher who could tell I was bored to death and challenge me in ways the curriculum didn’t. The same way a good teacher will give make-up work to a student in a piecemeal fashion. Do this for me tonight and I’ll give you something else tomorrow. At the same time scaffolding the rigor of the work. So, in a short time, they are whipping out stuff they never thought they could do just weeks ago.

Two months ago, starting with a list of 6 items, I knew I’d do more. I’ve done three times that amount so far. While moving the instruments on the mast, I knew to check the paravane fittings. The clevis pins needed to be checked and I wanted new cotter pins. I also noticed too much wear on the main fitting to the mast, so I needed to add some washers and new pins.

As I did more and more, sometimes taking a week to complete one checklist item, but I also did another half dozen items, that were not on the checklist.  I became more confident.

Confidence is the other side of the equation. When I finally completed the LED project, which involved 4 wires, with four conductors each (a positive, and 3 separate grounds that control the three colors, blue, red and green), I was very pleased to see it all worked as anticipated. I had three switches to turn each respective set on or off, plus three additional switches to control the colors, since I figured I didn’t need any complicated controller.

That it all worked, gave me the confidence to tackle the 120v terminal bar, that seemed straight forward, but you never know. When that went well, without me having to redo stuff, I tackled the water heater anode and that went even quicker.

The order I tackled these projects mattered. I have read education studies that when formulating a test, the order of the questions can make a significant difference.  The same questions in a different order can make a significant difference in student performance. Teachers have known this forever. If you put the hardest questions first, it discourages students. Why a teacher would do that is a story I will save for the book I’m thinking about writing. But it also goes to our overall 60% graduation rate.

When I took the test for my NMC Master’s license, the lights and signals test was the hardest for me. It was hard enough to remember red over green. Was that fishing or trawling or neither? But the day shapes were even harder for me, since I was not using them myself.

For a week I took practice tests. The passing requirement for that portion of the test was the highest at 93+%; meaning out of 33 questions, you could only get 2 wrong.

During my practice tests, I got anywhere from 65 to 80% correct. Well off the mark.

Test day came up and we took the other three portions of the test first that were easy for me. Then the dreaded lights and signals. The first 5 or 6 questions were “easy” in that I was sure of the answers. By the end of those 33 questions, I was positive that I missed only one!

Well, I missed two, but that was still enough to pass. I was elated, but I also recognized that the question order made a significant difference for me that day. Because I felt confident in those first half dozen questions, I didn’t stress and overthink the rest.

In the same vein, when I started working on the boat projects, I knew the order made a difference.

Since I whizzed through those two things yesterday, I decided today to tackle the Purisan project. Two months ago, I’d not even mentioned it because …

But now, it’s almost done, but that’s for tomorrow’s story.

 

 

What’s Done So Far

I think it was time for anew anode for the Rartitan Water Heater

Slowly, but surely progress is being made.

I have completed the following:

  1. Installation of outside LED rows and inside wiring, Amazon LED Link

    The drving Lights on new brace with new brackets
  2. Added another power line for the pilot house electrical panel and also added an additional ground,
  3. Replaced the terminal block for the 120v system neutrals in the engine room distribution panel,
  4. Replaced the anode for the Raritan water heater that I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago,
  5. Replaced the brackets for the three driving lights and replaced the two fog lights with stainless steel brackets I had made in Vietnam,

    The fog lights are pointed down: to see the chain coming up and to make the boat more visible by lighting the hull, if I’m anchored in a busy area.
  6. Tightened the thru bolts for the paravane pole brackets; replaced all the cotter and clevis pins with new stainless steel.

    Closeup of the double row LEDs in the clear rubber jacket that makes them truly waterproof (we’ll see)
  7. installed a set of fog lights to the spreaders,
  8. Moved my Maretron weather instruments, GPS and my Groove WiFi extender to the spreaders on the mast,
    The old terminal bar
    LEDs as blue

    The LED lights white. Can also be red, green or blue
  9. Repaired (at the last minute before replacement) my 12v heating pad for my bed that is 5 years old and stopped working a month ago. Just before I went to buy anew one, I decided to have one more go at fixing it. I did.
    My reward
    The aft deck lit by the LEDS

    The new terminal bar at the bottom of the picture

I’m treating myself to rack of lamb today.

Stay tuned.

That’s Done

With the completion of Ti’s visa interview, a goal more than two years in the making, is done.

This High Pressure system will have to move on before Dauntless can get going north.

Waking up the next day, the feeling of thank god that’s done, cannot be ignored. Much like euphoria I felt waking up in Castletownbere, on the southeast coast of Ireland on the last days of August 2015, after completing my first Atlantic Passage.

Though as hard as it may be for some to understand, the Atlantic crossing was less stressful.

I understand the ocean, nature, weather and natural processes, formed by a fascination with physical science and systems engineering from as early as I can remember.

Bureaucracies on the other hand are a different matter. I’m smart, so I to think I understand them; but not smart enough. My life is full of the detritus of missed winks and nods. I’m more like the blind horse: What? You told me you (my boss, the bureaucracy) wanted an omelet. We did, but we didn’t tell you to break any eggs!

Thus, my well-found fear of bureaucracies. Now, that’s done. I can dream of the next steps.

I have a half a dozen things that must be done before Dauntless moves from her winter home in Vallejo. My goal will be to complete one a day, so that by next weekend, I’ll be ready to move my little Kadey Krogen from under the marina roof to an open slip, so that I can raise the mast and complete the rigging.

Seattle to Ketchikan

I am planning on being ready to leave Vallejo and start heading north the last week in May. Of course, the departure date will be set by the winds. I don’t mind bad weather per se, as along as the winds are from a favorable direction. That direction will be any winds with a southerly component. I’d rather have 30 knots from the south versus 10 knots from the north.

Details to follow.

Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better

This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.

June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer

While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster.  Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.

Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.

But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.

It’s good Dauntless music.

But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba.  And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.

But then he really made his  name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.

 

I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.

Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him.  From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.

That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months.  There are still a few projects to complete.  My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska.  Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)

I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.

Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.

Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case.  Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.

So in my case, I came up with 17 feet.  This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.

So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side.  Sounds like a no-brainer right?  Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.

What could go wrong?  Am I not being 50% safer?  That’s what a politician would try to tell you.

No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.

In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear.   While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.

Crossing the North Sea

But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow.  The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.

Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down.  If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.ocean wave

Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up.  Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water.  Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.

So less is not always better.

And now, I will show you why more is not always better either.  Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.

I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.

The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy.  I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.

We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.

Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.

Dauntless on a mooring in Scotland

 

Hindsight is Not Always 20-20

Despite my accomplishments this past year, another 2500 miles behind me, the Golden Gate in front of me, the Baja bash, Panama Canal, the Atlantic Ocean, behind me, I wonder if I did not make some big mistake.

Anchored in Finland.

For not the first time, I wondered about my sudden decision to flee northern Europe two years ago. I loved northern Europe. I loved Ireland. I loved the peoples and the cultures.

I lived for 4 years in Germany and still visit relatively often. The Germans certainly have some interesting attributes. Some of which I even like a lot.

In 2015, I was reminded just like 30 years ago, the different personalities the Germans are along the north coast. These are the people who have known “Auslander”, (from an outside land), for thousands of years. They are not the Germans of the much more insular interior, one meets south of Hamburg down to the Alps.

I dwell on this because stupid Google, out of the blue the other day, sends me my pictures of years ago and says, “don’t you want to post these?”

It reminded me yet again of how great the cruising was along the north coast of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and North Seas. The cruising is the best I’ve yet encountered, with thousands of miles of protected skärgärd cruising. With the wind blowing 20+ knots, 100 meters away, you are cruising or anchored with nary a ripple of waves.

Cuxhaven, Germany

All the peoples who inhabit the environs along the coast are sea faring folk. Much like the Celtic culture along the west coast of Europe, from Galicia in NW Spain to Scotland, The North Sea and particularly the Baltic had the Hanseatic League. From Hamburg to Tallinn, they controlled trade and influenced culture from Germany to Russia.

This seafaring culture manifests itself in boat friendly, stranger friendly ways. No matter how small the port, or how many boats are already there, they will find room for you. In the more formal marinas, like Tallinn and Cuxhaven, the American flag was being put up on the yardarm of the marina even as I checked-in. And even check-in itself was a 5-minute process, with reasonable rates, about $0.25 per foot in Holland to $1.00 per foot in Helsinki. Overall average for marina overnights ended up being less than $0.50 a foot for my 4 months in the Baltic and North Seas.

Haapsalu, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia
Robbengat Sluis
Holland
Waterford, Ireland

All these experiences were exactly the opposite in southern Europe, by the way. 30-minute check-ins, filing out endless forms, each time, $1.00 per foot was best price and it went up to $2.00.

I was also reminded with much regret that the $1,000 ten-day stay I had at Cabo San Lucas was the same cost of one year! in Waterford, Ireland. Sure,  Waterford could not boast like Cabo of having only 7 days a year with rain, but I am sure they can boast that they have at least 7 days a year with sun.

So, all these fond memories really made me question my decision of leaving Europe in 2016. Stupid Google also reminded me of my great trip to Galicia to scope out a winter home for Dauntless the following year. Food, people and marina in A Coruna were fantastic. I could stay there for $500 per month year around.  Had I stayed another year as planned, I would still have some options. I could return to the Baltic the following summer or just stay in Northern Spain and Western France. I would have also saved so much money.

Oh Regrets. What would life be without them?

Probably a hell of a lot better!

I acknowledge that 2016 was a traumatic year for me. I  often wonder if unexpected life changes led me to make some hasty, irrevocable decisions? It certainly seems so to me when I think and think and think about it.

It would have been just as easy to fly between Ireland or Spain and Vietnam. I picture myself escaping the heat a humidity of Vietnam for the damp coolness of Atlantic Europe.

One key factor drove my decision to leave for the Pacific, the availability of crew. My Hawaiian nephew wanted to take a year off from school before he went to law school. He thought exploring Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean via Dauntless would be ideal. He spent almost a year with Dauntless and I.

He was indispensable. Not only as a great, hardworking, vigilant crew mate, but also as a smart, interesting companion for the boring passage between Europe and the Panama Canal. I couldn’t have come that distance without him.

Dauntless is in Vallejo, California now. I’ll return to her next week for a month of getting her in ship shape. Next spring, I’ll return and weather permitting get her up to the Pacific Northwest by June, then British Columbia and Southeast Alaska for the summer.

Ending up in one of the wonderful, little towns of Southeast Alaska. Which one, will depend on several factors, Dauntless taking second stage for now.

By next year at this time, my life will take another turn, as I gain both a First and Second Mate on Dauntless. We’ll end up staying in Southeast Alaska only a little longer than originally planned. Visa requirements for my wife-to-be and her son require us to live in the United States, so SE AK is the perfect place to settle down for a while and catch a few fish and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife.

What would have happened had Dauntless still been in Europe now? I would truly have a mess on my hands. Instead of struggling with a 2500 trip, I would be looking at 10,000+ miles. Eek!!

Everything happens for a reason. Two years ago, I had no idea I’d fall in love with the love of my life, yet again (ok, I’ve had a lot of lives). Or that she would be in Vietnam or that I’d spend all my free time with her in Vietnam.  Or that SE Alaska, then so far away, now so close, would be the perfect place for a variety or reasons.

Trinh and I in SaiGon, Vietnam

Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

 

 

Third Time is the Charm, I Hope

Dauntless is ready to go.

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.

The New Dingy
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.

Pancho, the 12-year old Sea Lion of Cabo San Lucas

Stay tuned

Pancho again, takes lift, waiting for a free fish.

Return to Huatulco

I could call this, Mexico Just Works, at least this part.

The Bahias of Huatulco

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.

HUX – Huatulco Airport

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.

Outside the airport. Just go to the stall number on your receipt ti find the right taxi or van. Mexico Just Works

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.

 

 

Plans and Goals

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.