A French Kiss on the Bay of Biscay

Three days, three nights, three hundred and fifty miles, what could go wrong?

Dauntless in Spain
Dauntless in Spain

In my early years of cruising, it what seems like just yesteryear, oh wait, it was just last year, I started out every overnight passage thinking nothing would go wrong. No muss, no fuss, no drama.

In spite of the fact that I really like Korean dramas, not all dramas are the same and dramas on Dauntless seem just that, dramatic.

But this year, 2016, I vowed everything would be different.  Leaving no stone unturned, I would ruthlessly dot every I and cross every t, leaving no room for dramas of any kind.

We waited an extra day in Rochelle with an anticipated three-day weather window opening up.  Day one would have brisk winds from the northwest (NW 12g18), Day 2 continued brisk winds but from the northeast, Day 3 light winds, less than 8 knots and Day 4 southwesterly winds increasing in strength to 25 knots by Day 5.

Now, what this means is since our course for the 60-hour passage would be to the southwest (240 degrees True), Day 1 would find brink winds on our beam producing 4 to 6 foot seas, Day 2 would see a following sea of the same magnitude and Day 3 should see flat seas.

But we would have to arrive before the southwesterly winds picked up, since there is nothing worse than heading into the seas and wind in a slow ass boat like Dauntless.  Not only does the ride become worse than the worse hoppy horse you ever rode, but you slow down so much, you 10-hour trip becomes 20, so the time of being miserable is doubled is not trebled (see last year’s epic, beating yourself to death on the English Channel.)

Thus our departure time was carefully calibrated to the weather forecast and the opening of the gate in the marina which is only open for three hours centered around the high water time.  Thus 6 hours out of every 24.

We left La Rochelle on time, 14:15 hours, just as the draw bridge opened, and got a hearty send off from the bridge attendant with gestures and yelling which could only mean “Bon Voyage”, though he was pointing to a red light in doing so, but if I have learned only one thing while boating in France, it’s that everything is advisory and as long as you don’t hit something too hard, All’s Well that Ends Well.

The afternoon of Day 1 was about as anticipated, westerly winds around 10 knots; not enough to produce significant seas.  So we ran without the paravanes birds in the water. Dauntless had a nice easy gait to her.  The boys were on four hour watches and they were doing very well. I could even sleep in my cabin (having slept in the pilot house on our previous passage from Ireland).

12 hours into the passage, during the early morning hours, the winds were picking up to the mid to high teens, that will produce seas 3 to 5 feet and they were from the west not NW. This meant that our heading to the SW was into a bit of seas producing some pitching.  So at 02:00 as I rolled around in bed, I figured I may as well get up and deploy the birds.

Normally, upon leaving port, I set the poles out and make sure of the rigging.  We did that this time as usual, but when the birds were in the water, I noticed the lines were wrapped strangely around the pole, with the net effect that the bird was not hanging from the end of the pole, but from the middle.

That just wouldn’t do, so in seas that were now 4 to 6 feet, we stopped to haul the birds, unshackle them and re-rig them.  With Dauntless sitting dead in the water, standing on the side deck can be a bit frightening to the novice sailor.  From the side deck, you look up to see a 6 foot waves approaching the beam. Your first thought is that this wave is not only going to soak you, but will swamp the boat.

Now I’m kneeling down, taking the shackle off, so I can unwind the line from the pole.  Tony, my nephew, is standing there a bit amazed, as he warns me of the “big” waves approaching.  It is a bit daunting I admit, but I tell him those waves aren’t that big.

So, 10 minutes later both birds are re-rigged and in the water.

I did notice that the lee side bird was running pretty close to the boat, but I have seen this behavior before and did not think it was significant.  I got back to bed, leaving Tony or Micah on watch.

As I am laying in bad, thinking about the birds, I had gotten splashed by a few drop of good ole North Atlantic Ocean water.  I went to sleep thinking I had been kissed my Mother Nature.

The winds picked up all night and into Day 2, now blowing at 15 to 22 knots.  Annoyingly, they were still from the west and not the northwest as forecast (stupid me for believing the details of the weather forecast).  So the seas were building and we were rolling a bit more than usual.

Then Bam, what the hell was that? I’m in bed, it’s dark. I get up, look around, I notice that the windward paravanes pole was unloading more than usual.  Maybe that was the bang I heard, felt, as it picked up the slack suddenly.

Every few minutes, when the boat got into a deep rhythmic roll, I’d hear the bang.  I look again, see nothing unusual. Both birds are running closer to the boat than usual, but they are also running deeper than last year.

After getting another 2-hour sleep in, I get up at 07:00, to relieve Micah so they can both get a good sleep.  I am determined to find the bang.  I’m standing in the stern deck, looking at the beautiful sunset and I look down during a particularly heavy roll (15 degrees in one direction) and the paravanes bird is really close to the hull.  Is that the bang I am hearing??

Have the birds become asymmetric?  Meaning does it now matter which side they are on?  I realize that the starboard bird is running to the left, while the port bird is running to the right.  Could the easy fix be to just swap them?

I decide to do just that. So for the third time I stop the boat to retrieve the birds, unshackle them and swap sides.  I think you should be able to see the course change I made to facilitate this, (Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless) I turned Dauntless to run with the waves making the motion on the boat easier.

Ten minutes later, it’s done and they are running true, both now running just where they should about 13 feet from the side of the boat.  So now, I better mark them.  The roll was also reduced after the swap.  Now they are working normally.

Day 2’s winds stayed NW all day. Never saw the NE winds that were forecast.

Around midnight of the second day out, we stopped again to pull the birds, this time because the seas had greatly diminished and I wanted the 0.7 kts back that they use.

So it’s now 08:00 on Day 3.  The winds have finally died, though we have an Atlantic swell of about 6 feet every 8 seconds.

I decided to add a quart of oil to the engine while running.  With the Ford Lehman, there is virtually no blowback with the oil cap off, so one can add oil without making a mess. (Don’t try this with your car with an overhead camshaft.)

This engine consumes about a quart of oil about every 50 hours, so to add some now would not hurt.

As I am pouring the oil in I notice the red plastic ring that comes off the cap was still around the spout of the oil container.  As I think I must be careful not to let it fall into the engine, it falls into the engine!

What a f…ing idiot.  I dash to the pilot house to kill the engine (yes, I know I need a remote start/stop in the engine room) and run back to see what I can see in the top of the oil fill on the crankcase.  I bend over, flashlight in hand and see the plastic ring. Yes! Then I see a second plastic ring? And then a third.

The plastic rings retrieved from the top of the crankcase.
The plastic rings retrieved from the top of the crankcase.

I suppose the good news is they were not going to melt and ruin the head.  I do have one of those retrieval snakes right by the engine, so a few minutes later, I had all three fished out.

I should look in there more often.  Maybe I’ll find my missing books.

Probably not.

All’s Well That Ends Well.

Tonight Spain, ready or not.

 

In a French Hospital

I even got to ride in an ambulance!

The Emergency Room entrance in the hospital in Concarneau
The Emergency Room entrance in the hospital in Concarneau. I got a kick out of the hours of operation.

But I get ahead of the story.

I had an abscess on my cheek.  It didn’t seem that large, at least when it started.

I kept on thinking it would cure itself, well, at least it has some other times.

But this one kept on getting larger and larger.  Sadly, it got to the size of a lemon, a large lemon.

View from the Ambulance
View from the Ambulance

At that point, I did what anyone would do, I took a selfie and emailed my dermatologist, a wonderful doctor at Mount Sinai. When I trust; I trust.

He responded promptly and told me to go get it lanced and get antibiotics.  Good idea.

My room for my procedure
My room for my procedure

Now, the only downside of a cruising life is that one loses track of the days of the week.  It turned out it was Saturday.  So no doctors are working, I would have to go to the emergency room of the local hospital.

My labels
My labels

The marina office gave me the directions: a 10-minute walk, a two-minute little ferry ride and another 10-minute walk.  No bad.

I arrived just after 09:00, good because they did not open until 9:00 a.m.  Umm, French know when not to get sick.

The hospital on Monday
The hospital on Monday

There was only one other patient waiting and the nurse on duty spoke to me in very good English within a minute of my arrival.  I pointed to the lemon on my cheek.  They had a basic form to fill out, name, address and phone number.  That’s it.  There was a little section on my normal doctor, but I was told to leave that blank.  I was taken into an examination room.  There, a doctor’s assistant took a look, felt it, asked me some questions as to how long and any pain and called someone.

Only a few minutes later, I was back with the first nurse and she told me that they had made an appointment for me at 2:00 p.m. at the “big” hospital in Quimper, about 30 miles away.  It was Saturday and thus this local hospital in Concarneau had no surgeon.

Quimper
Quimper

I was given a sheet of labels with my name and number.  I just had to give each person I saw a label.  I thought I was also told that the accountant was not work on the weekend, so I needed to return Monday to see her about payment.  That was fine with me.

So, as I thought about this development, I figured that my not dealing with this problem during the week had cost me maybe a hundred Euro taxi ride.

My coffee in Quimper
My Cafe Noisette in Quimper

But, it was not to be.  My wonderful nurse, then told me that, while they had no responsibility to get me to the big hospital, their ambulance was heading that way in a few minutes, with a litter patient in the back, so I could ride “shotgun”.

I was so happy. My first ride in an ambulance.  Though no siren, I suppose you can’t have everything!

The ambulance driver, a wiry woman, was very good, though she spoke little English.  But like everyone I met, she really wanted to take care of me.  Was the window open OK? I could open or close it as I liked.

Then since I got to the big hospital so soon, I read my book and was quite happy knowing this thing I had been living with for almost a month and feeling like a freak for the last two weeks would soon be taken care of.

So, just after 2:00 p.m., the doctor shows up who is going to do my “surgery”.  I could tell he was the doctor because he just looked it.  Small, compact man, certainly handsome, wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt.  Like everyone I’d met, he just came across as both caring and so professional.

I could not NOT trust these people and this system.  From the first moment earlier that morning, I had no doubt that I would be taken care of well and promptly.

So after an examination, he put a patch on my cheek that was an anesthetic and told me it needed 20 minutes.  So then about 25 minutes later, I was taken to a room that seemed to serve as both an examination room and an office.  A really cute moment was when his assistant reminded the doctor he should ask me my “level of pain” (Yes, the same 1 to 10 scale, but without the smiley faces). He asked and I said one, no real pain.

They laid me down, put a bib over my neck and chest and his assistant appeared with a little tray of instruments and they got to work.

It felt like it took an hour to drain the thing, but it was more like a few minutes.  I felt no pain, but I do have an active imagination so I become tense when I think I should feel pain.  Again, his assistant noticed that and put her hand on my leg which did help to calm my nerves.

Maybe twenty minutes later I was walking out with a few prescriptions.  I asked for a taxi to take me to the train station where I figured I could get a bus back to Concarneau.  While waiting for the taxi, I started walking and by the time the taxi came I was walking down the road, having figured out town was just a 15-minute walk.

The 40-minute bus ride cost only 2 Euros ($2.20) and that was my only cost so far.

The first few bandage changes and having to continue to drain the thing were pretty disgusting, but sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do (but I try to avoid that).

Today, almost a week later, I’m almost back to new. Well, maybe not new, but back to normal.

And tomorrow we leave for Spain.

My time in France has been pretty much as expected: wonderful wine, beautiful women and food, what can I say about the food, the French could cook a tree and it would be tasty.

But most of all, wonderful, helpful people in virtually every person I’ve encountered.  IF I ever have to go to the hospital again, I may just return here.

Oh, by the way, on Monday morning, planning on leaving for our current stop in La Rochelle, I walked back to the hospital in Concarneau to see the accountant lady.

Upon entering the emergency room again, the nurse (yes, I actually do think they are real nurses) remembered me from two days earlier and when I told her I had come back to pay, she told me there must be some misunderstanding.  I didn’t have to pay anything.  On that, I thanked her and walked back to Dauntless to cast off.

My one disappointment in the whole affair, I still have my chipmunk cheeks!

 

 

Dauntless Comes Alive

It’s hard to describe how a boat comes alive.

Sunset over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

31 hours into our passage to France, our second night out. it’s now 01:00 on the 15th of July 2016.  I’ve just relieved the “boys”, who had their first watch without me for the last 4 hours.  I had planned on sleeping another two hours, but I awoke and knowing the English Channel transit lanes were only an hour away, I figured I may as well get up.

Sunrise over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

Besides, nothing untoward had yet happened, and like the experienced manager taking the young prospect out of the game on a positive note, not letting mistakes happen as they fatigue.

Last night I had been alone, the boys sick as dogs. No, probably sicker.

Dauntless in Camarat
Dauntless in Camaret, France. Our first stop on the continent for 2016

I like the night, slicing through the water, the white mustache at the bow. There is a coziness the envelops the boat making us even more with nature.

We ran yesterday for 24 hours with the paravanes deployed.  We needed them.  The weather has been exactly as forecast, with strong NW winds 18 to 25 gusts to 32 for the first 12 hours after leaving Ireland.  That caused for some rough seas, 6 to 12 feet.

The next 12 hours were a bit better, with winds decreasing to 15 to 18, gusting to 25 and they were more northwesterly. Then finally, yesterday evening they had died to 5 to 9 knots, so the seas quieted to just a few feet.

Now, as forecast the winds are westerly at about 8 knots. Not bad, not bad at all.

Paravanes worked well.  I had changed the rigging a bit more since Scotland last month.  They now run 17 feet below the water line and they are considerably more effective than last year.

The hardest part has been saying goodbye to so many dear friends and nice people in Waterford and New Ross.  I think I’ll be back though, at least after we put a few miles on as we circle the globe.  But I’m sure after a number of years and many miles, I’ll be ready for northern Europe yet again.

Maretron Data for the Trip
Maretron Data for the Trip The first 24 hours were rough

Just south of Waterford, we passed an old friend, Fastnet Sound.  They dredge the channel just south of the Barrow Bridge, which has a tendency to silt up in the spot where the rivers Suir and Barrow meet.  They then dock for the night across the river in Waterford.

They took a picture with showed up on Marine Traffic showing us leaving, with me on the foredeck taking picture of them.  You can see that picture at Dauntless taken by Fastnet Sound leaving Waterford on the River Suir.

Well, it’s now Sunday, 48 hours after our arrival in Camaret France.

It’s taken me this long to recover. I must be getting old.  I slept Friday night for 12 hours, having only slept for about three the two days previously.

Dauntless as ever performed flawlessly and this time, this passage, so did the captain.  No incidents, accidents, or other shenanigans, yours truly has been known for.

Coming up France.  French boaters may be a mess, but the food is divine!

Here are two videos of the crossing.  Sorry nothing spectacular.

 

 

 

The Smell of Nothing

Was never so sweet.

How do I know it will be better tomorrow?  The weatherman told me of course.
How do I know it will be better tomorrow? The weatherman told me of course.

Just picked up 2411 liters, 637 gallons, of gas oil, a.k.a diesel.  That’s 4533 pounds of fuel, added to the 400 pounds she already had.  Dauntless now sits a few inches lower than before, but looks ready to go.

And the engine room smells as sweet as ever, with no fuel smell, just the smell of new batteries and cables.

Now you wonder why all the fuss?  Isn’t re-fueling supposed to be easy and routine?  Well, if you are driving a car I suppose it is.  I’ve filled cars with fuel thousands of times. But on Dauntless it’s been less than 30 times and on Dauntless, nothing is ever routine.

A few of the shenanigans that have taken place while fueling:

  • Being showered by a volcano of fuel at the Portsmouth, NH fish dock.  Luckily, no fishing boat was waiting as I showered and got out of my fuel soaked clothes.
  • Succumbing to the fear expressed by my friends about running out of fuel, I purposely overfilled the tanks by about 10 gallons before leaving Rhode Island.  This was soon followed by the little fuel runoff coming from the port side tank, a few of those extra gallons soon were in the bilge.
  • The most recent leak last summer that lead to the New Ross Experience.  Much like the Jimi Hendrix Experience in Seattle, but more expensive.

And after each debacle, the next fueling are filled with dread; what will happen next?

So, as you can see, I have every reason to be elated about smelling nothing in the engine room.

Best of all, the 637 gallons cost half of what I paid to fill the tanks two years ago in the fall of 2014.

Tomorrow, with a full fuel and water load, Dauntless is ready to take care of business as we head south for France, Spain & Portugal.

Dauntless faces south; Brian Boru north.
Dauntless faces the Brian Boru. Tomorrow they say goodbye for a long time; hopefully not forever.

 

 

 

Waiting for Weather

Monday 21Z Update

I keep on looking for excuses not to leave, but Mother Nature, continues to send warning signals that I best be on my way.  Right now, the best 42 hour window is from the 13th at 0300L, putting us just off of Brest on the 14th at 22L.

A night time entry, but what else is new!

It’s the only way I can maiximize the good wind conditions as the ridge moves east .

By the way, windyty.com provides the same data as Earth Null School below: windyty.com for Irish Sea nad English Channel

I do like their format, but sometimes windyty has too much data for my liking, especially as it changes.

==========================================================================

 

So, in our last days in Waterford, saying goodbye to some really dear people, having to wait for weather is not so bad.

THe circle is just south of our current location. The arrow is near our destination just west of Brest.
THe circle is just south of our current location. The arrow is near our destination just west of Brest.

Presently the winds are gusting to 30 and we are snug as a bug in a rug. Nothing as sweet as riding out a storm in port, tied to a dock.

As I have mentioned many times, for short term planning, I’ll usually just look at the Null School data set, whose link is:

Current Surface Winds

And here is the current surface map to help you understand the wind pattern better:

Atlantic Sfc Analysis

I’ve been watching this for the last few weeks, at first just to get an idea of the timing of the systems and the strength of the winds.

Until yesterday, the prognosis (progs) seemed to indicate a thin ridge of high pressure passing eastward mid-week. Then yesterday, it showed a nice ridge (indicative of fair weather and weaker winds) on Thursday and Friday, with the high pressure area centered just west of Brest.

Now this afternoon, after the 12Z run of weather models, my ridge of high pressure has been squeezed to almost nothing. So for my 2 day trip, this now looks like a 24 hour weather window:

WNW winds down to 15 knots (map shows km/hr)

It’s for this reason, (that the progs can change significantly) I pretty much do not look at any other weather products routinely.  There are a number of reasons for this, in short, they all get their weather from the same source and more importantly, the different forecast models may differ in terms of space and time; but for someone not looking at them constantly, as in a full time job, forget it.  There is simply too much information to digest fine tune a forecast that much.  In addition, there is no point in looking at more detailed forecasts because by now, I know what to look for.

Though if I was travelling locally, like north along the coast, then I would check the marine forecast for that area. But if was just saying what I already could deduce myself, in other words no real local conditions to consider, then I don’t bother looking at it again.

Dauntless needs a little less than two full days. 42 hours, to get from Waterford to Brest, France.  So I’ve been watching for the last few weeks, whenever I have internet, to see how often a two-day window appears.

Not very often.  There may have been one a few weeks ago, but since that, I’ve only seen good weather windows of about a day.  Now, when I say good weather, originally I was looking only for winds on our stern at 15 knots or less. The Krogen runs really well in such conditions, rolling as she is wont to do, but the paravanes reduce most of that.

As I was watching, I had even settled for 20 knots astern, since I saw so few periods with less than 15.  Also, since our course to Brest will be 160 True, winds from dead astern would be 160 +180 = 340 or northwesterlies.  NW winds occur after a cold frontal passage.

So it’s easy, just wait for the front to pass and head out.

But it’s not so easy, as I learned 30 years ago while forecasting the weather for northern Europe and Germany in particular.  The North Atlantic is a true spawning ground for low pressure systems.  They line up like freight trains, from North America to Northern Europe. And they are moving quickly, averaging 4 times the speed of Dauntless or about 600 nm a day.

But as the fronts approach Europe, they start to weaken as they lose the upper air support that is centered over the North Atlantic.  Then with the passage of the cold front, instead of the usual 2 to 3 days of high pressure with NW winds and cold temperatures that one gets in the mid-west, one gets a reprieve of only 6 hours, before the winds jump around to the south or southwest in from the of the next cold front due to arrive in about 18 hours.

It was exactly the pattern I got into in the last three days of my Atlantic Passage two years ago.  But then, I wasn’t thinking of the overall pattern, but instead was just so glad to see a few rays of sunshine as the winds dropped to 15 to 18 knots.

Halleluiah

I remember making a snack thinking the worst was over.  I was able to find the banging wine bottle.  So as the winds picked up again in the next few hours, I hardly noticed.  I was like the lobster in the pot of cold water wholeheartedly noticed the water getting hotter and hotter until it’s too late.

But unlike the lobster, I know I’ll be safe no matter what, though I may be miserable.  That’s because the first step is to find and have a boat that can do what you want it to do.

 

 

 

The Great Battery Caper

After months of planning, thinking and just plain fretting, the batteries are in and Dauntless is no longer acting like a one legged duck.

Another Gorgeous Sunset
Another Gorgeous Sunset

How do one legged ducks act you wonder? Without the engine running or being plugged into shore power, we had only a few minutes’ worth of electrical power.

Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries
Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries

And I’d go to sleep, not with visions of sugar plum faeries (or better yet, leggy milf’s) dancing in my head, but with pictures of wiring diagrams and this and that.

So, having found replacement batteries in Kilmore Quay’s Kehoe Marine last month, they got four Yuasa Cargo Deep Cycle GM batteries that were of 8-D size, with 230 amp-hours each for me. Weighing in at 55 kg, or 115 lbs. each and delivered to the Kehoe boys at New Ross Boat Yard (yes, of course they are related).

Waiting for high tide, when the dock was only a few feet above the floating pontoon, we got the batteries on to the boat without dropping them into the water.

Then, the hardest part physically, getting the old batteries out.  Perhaps with the knowledge that we could not hurt them, it took us less than an hour to get them out.

I then spent the next few hours re-configuring how the batteries were connected.  I essentially made a positive and negative stud that consolidated the all the connections before they went to the batteries.

My friend Ed had given me a new article about the optimum way to connect multiple batteries that was slightly superior to the way I had the older batteries connected.  I had had 8 new battery cables made, 2 for each battery, each 2.3 meters long (about 7 feet).  This allowed the four batteries to have the exact same length cable to each from the charging source.  By having the same cable lengths, the resistance should be equal and thus each battery should get exactly the same amount of charge.

That took a few hours, with a panicked call to Dave Arnold, the electrical guru (who else would be driving around an all-electric car for the 1980’s!).

His call reaffirmed the use of the existing terminal block and Perko switch that was used to switch the start to the house batteries if needed.

Finally, after 8 hours, I was ready for the new batteries.  I rigged an Amstel line around the hand railing to the pilot house, thus we could lower the batteries into the engine room and the only struggle was to pull them into place while lowering at the same time.

Two hours later, all was in place, hooked up and ready to go.

All the boat grounds go to a common terminal, then one large cable to the boat side of the Victron battery Monitor shunt.  Then one large cable to another terminal post which has all four negative battery cables.

Positives are similar, in that the inverter/charger, the positive from the alternator and the positive from the terminal block (which has a number of inputs from the isolators and thus indirect from the other battery chargers) go to a terminal post, then all 4 battery cables are attached.

In the next days/weeks, as I physically tie the lines and organize a bit more, I will make a new electrical diagram.

Now, according to my calculations, all the rest of the year should be downhill!

 

 

A Quickie in New York

I wish!

Caffebene in Ft. Lee, a really nice place to spend time
Caffebene in Ft. Lee, a really nice place to spend time
Each morning I watch the feeding frenzy of Blue Jays, Cardinals, squirrels and chipmunks.
Each morning I watch the feeding frenzy of Blue Jays, Cardinals, squirrels and chipmunks.

But it was a quick trip, 5-days, to New York to tie up some loose ends.

Some lines always need a good whipping.

I also got to spend some time with some good friends, both new and old.

And best of all, I ate Korean food 3x, Japanese 2x, pizza 2x and lastly French once; best of all, I ate so well and gained no weight.  Lekker.

When I get back to Dauntless tomorrow, I’ll be doing the preparing to head south to France, Spain and Portugal for the next 5 months.

Such a short trip may seem pointless, but I leave NY today feeling much better than on arrival.  Being able to articulate my goals and reflecting on them with friends makes a big difference.

During June, having my friends Brian, Dan and Robin on Dauntless, really helped me put a focus on my goals for the coming years.  It is great to have people around as enthusiastic as I.

Then, coming to NYC, talking with friends, facilitated the final touches on the plan.  As articulated in my last post, by adding 10 months in S.E. Alaska, everything finally feels like it’s coming together.

Not having to spend all of 2017 rushing someplace will allow me to pause and smell the roses.

Having Dauntless staying put for 6 to 8 months, allows me to visit friends in Europe and probably take a trip to reconnoiter Asia.

I feel unburdened and that’s a good feeling.

So now I can concentrate on the important stuff:  What’s with these cats.  Here we have a billion-dollar company and they must Photoshop the cover for all their kitty liter bags.

Clearly Photshopped
Clearly Photoshopped

Do these people even have cats?  One would think someone in this company would think they should show some indication that they understand cats.

Must be dog people.

So, I’ll end on this poster. It fit my two cats perfectly at least in their first year as kittens.

Bad Kitties
Bad Kitties

A link to the site for T-shirt Bad Kitties T-Shirt

A Cardinal coming for breakfast
A Cardinal coming for breakfast

A Man with a Plan

 

The Atlantic Trade Winds
The Atlantic Trade Winds (click on the links below to see the winds move. Click on “Earth” in the lower left corner [of the link, not my picture] to change parameters)
Well any number of plans; the current one, 15 months to Japan, now in the 29th day since its start date.

But like all plans, a plan is good only until first contact with the enemy.  For Dauntless it’s headwinds, or better said, for Richard it’s the hobby horse ride headwinds produce on Dauntless.  The fact that we are consuming half of our fuel, just to go up and down waves, adds to the sick feeling the ride produces.

Yep, it’s a lose, lose, lose situation for all: the timeline, my wallet and my health.

Dauntless in the meantime just motors along, oblivious to my misery.

For my long range planning, other than Jimmy Cornell’s books and pilot charts, on a daily basis I pretty much only look at this: link to current Atlantic map

This shows the current surface winds over the Atlantic.  You can see that draw a line from Gibraltar to the Canaries to Barbados and the trade winds are running strong as they have all winter.  So no problems there.

wp-1466993359075.jpg
The Eastern Pacific showing strong northerly winds from British Columbia to Southern California. Ugh!

(side note, there is simply no point in looking at anything more specific for any period more than two weeks away.  Even when I was waiting to cross the North Sea from Norway to Scotland, a three-day trip, I read the marine forecast, but really only looked at this site to figure out when I would have at least a two-day window, which is what I got)

 Now, this is the problem, this is the Eastern Pacific, link to current western Pacific map

I’ve been looking at this about once a day since fall.  Only in the past month have the northerly winds let up south of Mexico and Central America.

My current 15-month plan would require me to be able to travel north from the Panama Canal to Kodiak Alaska in 170 days or about 35 miles per day.  Doable with favorable winds, but I’ve been watching and the winds are not favorable, not at all.  At this point, at best, I think a quarter of the days would be “good” cruising days and that may be too generous.

The other problem with this current plan is that I would probably be able to rush north out of Central America, but then get stuck in Mexico and the coast of the western U.S. for months on end.  Thus passing by places I would like to spend time only to be stuck in places I don’t.

So, Plan B.

I will add a year to the Cruise Plan, wintering in Southeast Alaska.

Many boaters do it, I know it somewhat, but only from the perspective of the Alaska Marine Highway (Ferry) system.

Thus I can spend more time in Central America at the height of the winter when the northerlies are strongest and I can spend 10 months in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, some of the prettiest cruising areas in the world, full of fjords, whales, birds and bears!

The weather is not that bad and having visited Juneau and Sitka many times back in the 90’s, it will be nice to go back on my own bottom.

 

 

Waterford, Ireland – Day 22

Dauntless in Waterford, June 2016.
Dauntless in Waterford, June 2016.

The biggest sigh of relief; bigger than having crossed an ocean.

D on the Waterford dock.
D on the Waterford dock.

I know it’s hard to believe, but think about it.  Boat yards have far more scary unknowns than oceans!  I knew I would cross the Atlantic in 4 weeks; Dauntless in the boat yard?  Boat yards are the Hotel California for boats; many enter and a good number never leave.

But Dauntless is jaunty, so that’s not going to happen to her; ever, never.

Dauntless left Waterford last October, expecting to be back in a few weeks.  Instead it took 10 months and I spend a winter worrying:

Would the leaking fuel tank be fixed?

Waterford, looking towards Dauntless
Waterford, looking towards Dauntless

What about the crack in the hull?

Should I spend the money to paint the hull?

And if so, what colors?

Returning to Ireland the first of April did little to assuage my fears.  A windy, wet winter (what else is there in Ireland?) seemed to make everything go slower.  Even the inside work, fuel tank, had not been done.  Michael & Stephen of the New Ross Boat Yard assured me everything would be done and not to worry.

I worried anyway, but Michael was right and made sure everything was done: On Time and On Target.

This will be our last two weeks in Waterford.  It will give me a chance to say goodbye to friends and people who have become like family for me in the last two years.  Remember the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker?  Johnny, the manager of the City Dock was here to help with the lines.  He did look a bit gaunt though and I discovered that he is training for a trek thru the Himalayas next year.

So since leaving New Ross on May 29th, Dauntless and I have travelled 22 days to Scotland and return. 157 engine hours and about 800 nautical miles.

I’ve ordered new batteries and they will be delivered next week, just after I get back from NYC.

Then, it’s South & West to the Future.

 

 

 

 

 

Southbound and Down

Day 16 – 19 Scotland to S.E. Ireland, Kilmore Quay

Evening at sea with the winds behind us.
Evening at sea with the winds behind us.

We are running before the wind.

Our planned stop, at a marina just north of Dublin, has been scrubbed. With northerly winds increasing in strength, it seems best to continue due south, instead of turning southwest towards shore.  Winds are 18 gusting to 30.

Chart showing us driving around Copeland Island looking for a less windy place to anchor
Chart showing us driving around Copeland Island looking for a less windy place to anchor

We left Scotland on Day 17, late morning to take advantage of the strong, 1 to 3 knot, currents.  The plan was to travel until evening, then anchor off of Copeland Island, just to the southeast of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

By that evening the winds were strong out of the NE and as you can see from the picture of our chart, we drove around quite a bit to try to find the most sheltered spot to anchor.

Copeland Island from Dauntless
Copeland Island from Dauntless

The idea was that we would wait out and sleep the 5 or 6 hours until he tide turned again.  With shallow water and rocks surrounding this island, it was a stressful half hour.

Finally finding the most sheltered place we could with winds only 12 to 15 knots, we anchored in 33 feet of water. I put out 260 feet of chain and added my new nylon

Looking west towards Ireland
Looking west towards Ireland

snubber.

It turned out to not be pretty good anchorage, but with my house battery bank totally shot, I had to run the generator all night.  In my cabin, I can hardly hear it, but just the thought of the inefficiency and waste led to a fitful sleep.  With a ETD of 03:00, at 02:00 I decided, let’s get this show on the road, got up and hauled anchor.  The anchor had found about 50 pounds of kelp/seaweed, so it took a bit to get that off, but we were finally underway towards Dublin at 03:13.

Running at night
Running at Dusk

As the morning became day, the winds got stronger from the due north.

Running due south now, with the wind right behind us, the rolling is cut in half again.  A much nicer ride, and actually more direct for our destination of Waterford.

To have gone southwest towards Dublin, only to have to spend a few hours tomorrow going southeast, again with strong northerly winds, was a fool’s errand.

THe Maretron Data shows the last three days of rolling, the second and longest, being the worst.
The Maretron Data shows the last three days of rolling, the second and longest, being the worst.

I do a lot of errands.  I am trying to less foolish ones.

With the change of crew last weekend, Brian leaving, Dan & Robin arriving, I have had less time to write.  Brian is an experienced and accomplished Kadey Krogen boater.  He has a new KK48, so our boats have a lot in common.  It’s interesting to see both the similarities and the differences. A Compare and Contrast, in teacher talk.

Arklow Dock
Arklow Dock

I think we both learned a lot from each other and I really appreciated his perspective on the capabilities of my “old” boat.

As the day went on, the conditions became worse, confirming our decision to run though the entire day south.

Approaching the shoal area south of Kilmore Quay
Approaching the shoal area south of Kilmore Quay

At the worst, winds for much of the afternoon evening were 18 knots gusting to 28 to 31.  Seas were a bit lumpy in that there were 6 to 8 foot waves from the northeast, along with the northerly seas.  Not a great ride, but certainly better than 3 weeks ago, when I was heading into the same winds and waves.

We got to Arklow about 23:00 and tied to a concrete dock.  Finally shutting down the engine at 23:31

A Real Trawler leaves Kilmore Quay
A Real Trawler leaves Kilmore Quay

Scotland to Arklow: 28.7 hours, 177 nm, plus 6 hours at anchor, averaging a little more than 6 knots.

The worst was behind us and I was looking forward to our net nightly stops, Kilmore Quay, New Ross, as the Kehoe boys, Stephen and Michael will put on a bbq for us and finally Waterford, where my spot from last fall is waiting for us.

Glad I kept the gate key.

The Chart and Maretron data at the dock at Arklow
The Chart and Maretron data at the dock at Arklow

 

Why I Am Not Afraid

 

The New Dauntless As Tasty As Ever
Dauntless – As Tasty As Ever

Being in the New Ross Boat Yard daily, now in the spring, almost daily I run into people who ask me about our passage across the Atlantic.  They always ask if I was ever afraid.  Yes, inwardly I do roll my eyes, but now I have my answer down rote, I was never afraid, but certainly miserable at times.

Every once in a while, sensing they actually may want a more reasoned response, I start talking about Kadey Krogen and this KK42 and what makes her so suited to where and how we go; at least until their eyes glaze over.

Knowing almost nothing about fiberglass, other than it’s made of fiber + glass, I have been talking to Gary Mooney, the GRP (fiberglass) expert of the area who has been working on Dauntless this winter and has a lifetime of experience with it on boats and all sorts of other objects.

We’ve talked about the repairs he made on Dauntless, first there were two problems in the hull:

  1. The four-foot-long hairline crack that I put in the hull the past July in Finland.
  2. An older, badly repaired, thru-hull fitting, also in the forward bilge, that was haphazardly done and allowed water into the hull and was the source of the water in the amidships-forward compartment bulkhead.

So this got us talking about the Krogen hull, in particular, which is a cored, also called sandwich, hull:

  1. there is a layer of fiberglass,
  2. then the core, in this case, a white non-water absorbing Styrofoam like stuff,
  3. then another layer of fiberglass.
  4. This is then covered by a gelcoat layer, making the fiberglass impervious to water.
  5. Then a two-part epoxy coat is put on to protect the gel coat, Dauntless gets two coats of that,
  6. A “Tie-coat” comes next, this tie-coat allows the anti-foul paint to adhere to the epoxy,
  7. And lastly comes the anti-foul coating. I am going to try a semi-hard coating, purposely made for very slow boats like Dauntless.  It’s said to last 5 years and be smooth enough to slightly reduce fuel consumption. I’ll be happy if it lasts three years and doesn’t hurt fuel consumption.

This boat yard really caters to the commercial boats, so things like the anti-foul, are all things the fishing boats and trawlers (real ones) use and like.

So, talking of hulls with Gary, I asked him about solid fiberglass hulls.  It’s clearly touted in the USA as a “better” meaning safer solution.  He scoffed at that, saying that most of the fishing boats here use solid hulls to make them stronger in terms of cargo and heavy equipment, but it also makes them more fragile.

A cored hull has much more flexibility, thus I could hit a rock as I did and the hull flexed enough to crack both the inner and outer layers of fiberglass.  Had the hull been solid fiberglass, it’s likely it would have broken in big chunks leaving a meter-long hole in the hull.

This happened recently to a FV just off the coast. Had they not been minutes from shore, they would have sunk. I on the other hand, carried on for another 3 months totally oblivious!

A reliable source tells me that Jim Krogen was always a proponent of the cored hull (sandwich construction) and only succumbed to public perception in the mid-90’s when they changed to making solid fiberglass hulls, below the waterline.  Besides better shear strength (as my encounter with the rock showed), a cored hull also provides better acoustical and thermal insulation, when compared to solid fiberglass.  This past winter, sitting outside in the wind and rain, Dauntless was dry as a bone inside, while many other boats with solid hulls, had condensation running off the walls forming little lakes. My storm windows also helped in that regard.

Dauntless was no. 148 in the 42-foot series and was made in 1988.  Newer isn’t always better.

This is a cutout of the gunnel (upper hull) showing a layer of fiberglass on top of balsa squares.
This is a cutout of the gunnel (upper hull) showing a layer of fiberglass on top of balsa squares.

Our hull above the rub rail to the cap rail, the gunnel, also has sandwich or cored construction, but in this case, the core is much thicker, made of blocks of balsa wood and has an inner and outer wall for added strength. Also, cored hulls do provide additional buoyancy. Clearly one of the reasons that when hove-to the boat bobs morthan rolls in big seas.

Which gets to the basis of why I am not afraid.The same cutout from another angle. The squares of balsa are easier to see.

The same cutout from another angle. The squares of balsa are easier to see.It was certainly not due to my experience as a mariner!  I’m probably in the bottom 2% of experience as a mariner.

But I am probably in the top 2% of researchers and I know the difference between opinion and fact.

For 5 years before we purchased this boat, I read, I studied and I determined what capabilities a small (that I could afford) boat

needed to have to be able to travel the world, cross oceans and yet have the comforts of home. I wasn’t going to live like a monk after all.

That process of research and reading every story of ocean crossings I could find, led me to this Kadey Krogen 42.  I knew this boat could handle the worst conditions, whether I was miserable or not.

My friend Larry said it this way, when we got in those chaotic

This is what was cut out of the inner gunnel. The picture below is the piece on the right.
This is what was cut out of the inner gunnel. The picture below is the piece on the right.

seas, 6-12 feet, short period, from all directions, off the coast of France last summer, Dauntless just seemed to settle in and not fight it. We were hanging on for dear life and she was just motoring along, wondering what all the fuss was about.

James Krogen knew how to design and build a boat that could do anything asked of it, be it bringing us home from a week-end jaunt or around the world.

That’s why I’m not afraid.

 

 

 

Dauntless Cruise Plan 2016-17 Europe to Asia

Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

So here is the plan.  The first four months show little change, but after I get back from the USA in mid-October it will be a lot of cruising.

Previously I had decided to stay in Europe this coming year, but life happens and circumstances change. Therefore, In November Dauntless and I will start to head west not to return for many years.

The good news is that while it is a lot of miles, over 17,000, those miles are spread over 17 months.  Since almost 10,000 miles are passage miles, in which we do about 150 miles per day, it means that over 300 days of the 500 we only have to average about 35 miles per day.  Much less than last summer.

So, while nothing is in stone, this is the tentative plan and you know me: Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

The dates are somewhat firm in that to get to Korea in the fall of 2017, I must be able to get to Japan in early August, as I want to cross the Bering and North Pacific in July and early August.

This is a plan that is based on the weather, meaning it’s doable with “normal” weather.  But there are a number of things that must happen:

  • Leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean needs to happen by early December.
  • Arriving in Kodiak, Alaska needs to happen by early July 2017.

Now of course, this depends on a few factors besides just the weather.  I could be kidnapped by some Greek and decide to spend a year in Lesbos with the rest of the refugees.  Some other mechanical or personal issue could overtake plans.  But most likely, the weather does not cooperate.  For this plan to work, I must have favorable weather during the winter and spring along the west coast of Central and North America.

If the winds do not cooperate, then we’ll spend the winter and spring in Central America and Mexico, then come up the west coast to B.C. and S.E. Alaska for the summer and winter over in S.E. Alaska, a fantastically beautiful destination all in itself.

This Plan B is not a terrible outcome and I’m sure many will think it should be Plan A, but I’ll let Fate and the wx gods decide.  At best it’s a 50-50 proposition, or maybe better yet, 49-49-02, the 02% being something unforeseen like the Greeks or something.

Want to join me at any part?  I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company.  We will be doing a lot of miles, over 17,000 but who’s counting!  There will be many opportunities in the next 17 months, but the better times (summer vacation) and destinations, (Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Alaska) will fill before the more tedious parts.

Oh, wait, there are no longer any tedious parts.

In any case, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts, no matter how tenuous.

Richard on Dauntless

I expect to be in the place or nearby by the date in the column to the left.

.E.g. I expect to arrive in the Lesser Antilles on 22 December.

25-May-16 Ireland, Feet Wet
02-Jun-16 Scotland
18-Jun-16 Ireland, Waterford
02-Jul-16 Ireland, Waterford
07-Jul-16 France, Brest
05-Aug-16 Spain, San Sabastian
25-Aug-16 Spain, A Coruna
15-Oct-16 Spain, A Coruna
20-Oct-16 Portugal, North
10-Nov-16 Portugal, Algarve
16-Nov-16 Gibralter
22-Nov-16 Morocco (maybe)
28-Nov-16 Canaries
05-Dec-16 Canaries
22-Dec-16 Lesser Antilles
12-Jan-17 Panama Canal
01-Apr-17 Baja Calif
02-May-17 Southern Cal
20-May-17 Pac NW, Seattle
15-Jun-17 SE Alaska
01-Jul-17 Kodiak
08-Jul-17 Dutch Harbor
16-Jul-17 Attu
25-Jul-17 Japan, Hokkaido
21-Sep-17 Japan, South
12-Oct-17 Japan, South
14-Oct-17 Busan, South Korea
01-Nov-17 Yeosu, S. Korea