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”

 

Alaska, The Last Frontier

It was 50 years ago for me and still is today.

Dauntless in Baranof Warm Springs

This is my first time living in the Southeast; my last three periods of Alaska habitation having occurred in or around Fairbanks, the heart of the interior.

And the difference between the Interior (of Alaska) and the Southeast is pretty much night and day.

The intense cold of winter in the Interior has a finality to it that is omniscient yet can be fatal. I’ve been afraid at various times in the Interior. In the Southeast, it’s a sea life, certainly dangerous in its own way, but then I’m not afraid of the sea. At least not in a well-found boat, like my Kadey Krogen.

The people are somewhat similar, nice, helpful, but then and now, it just seems Southeast people are even nicer, friendlier and even a bit smarter.

Tee in front of the harbor. Town center is on her right, Dauntless on her left.

Dauntless, Larry, my oldest Alaska friend of 46 years and a stalwart crew mate on Dauntless these last 5 years, and I arrived in Ketchikan almost two months ago.  It’s been a busy two months!

Too busy to go into detail here and now, but as the winter sets in and I have time to take a breath, I’ll fill in the details.

Everything has gone to plan, even our cute, little wedding in Tenakee Hot Springs. I have hours and hours of video of the Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau and of course, Tee and Thien.

Tee on the helm. She is great at it.

The three of us have started the next chapter of our lives in Wrangell. A great little community of about 2500 people. I felt a lot of pressure to decide on the right locality and school for Tee and Thien. While I knew we would be somewhere in the southeast, I didn’t want to settle on the exact location until we had been in the harbor and visited the school. Thien has his last two years of high school to complete.

Tee and Thien enjoy crab and halibut (the gift of some friends)

I’m pleased to say that Wrangell High School could not be better, with a great staff and leadership. That’s not as easy to find as one would think considering all the money we throw at education.

Tee is getting used to living on a boat, having to manage our electrical load and crappy internet access. Thankfully, she is not as terrified as she first was whenever we encountered any waves greater than one foot. We’re up to about two feet now.

On the other hand, both Tee and Thien are fishing fanatics. We certainly are eating a lot of fish the locals would only use for bait. And they LOVE crab, so every once in a while, Tee does see glimmer of her dream life in America. Though I’ll admit that whenever “the dream” is mentioned, I sense a hint of sarcasm, that would make a New Yorker proud.

Maybe more than a hint, as she does her imitation of being on the toilet as the boat is rolling back and fourth!

Feat of crabs. We only kept the largest two.
Salmon head in Vietnamese Hot Pot

Breakup Sex

Quick update. I now have on my You Tube Channel the video that does with this blog post. It’s here Vlog 13 20190704 , The roughest 3 minutes crossing the Columbia Bar and the aftermath

Enjoy

I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.

The chart shows me leaving Astoria

Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.

Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.

After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.

My Route over the bar.

My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
  • Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
  • It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.

    The Maretron data showing pitch and roll

The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.

The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.

In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.

But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.

If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.

Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.

A great afternoon

I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.

But not quite.

Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.

I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.

But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.

As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.

A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.

Who can say no to that; not I.

Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.

By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )

It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.

A perfect night

You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.

 

 

Getting Ocean Ready

Just finished checking the rigging for the paravane pole and bird.

I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a month now. This is getting old. But I have vowed not to let myself be beat up any ore than usual.

I spent much of last week organizing parts. I thought I had only two types of hose clamps, stainless and non stainless, which I separated last year.  If only life would be so easy.

As you can see from the attached picture, I have essentially 7 different stainless-steel hose clamps and guess what, that large bunch in the back of the organizer all have stainless bands, but non stainless screws! That’s totally worthless. I wish I could be sure that that bunch was not Made in America!

My 7 types of hose clamps

And they are also organized now by the size of the screw: 5mm, ¼”, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm. this allows me to easily use the same size for any particular job, as opposed to discovering that the dual clamped sanitary hoses have two different sizes of nuts.

I’m now doing things that were not on the list, like measuring the paravane bird rigging.  When we left Martinique, 5,000 miles ago, I had the birds set to run 19 feet below the water surface. that’s 5 feet deeper than previously, as I finally realized that in larger seas, waves greater than 10 feet, the bird itself was being picked up in the rotor of the wave, negating much of its effect.

Stbd paravane pole with double loop proving a quick extra 10 feet of depth should conditions require it.

Since Martinique all has been good on that front.  Now, I made sure of the depth and also marked the poles. In addition, I re-rigged the extra line, so that I can quickly run then 10 feet deeper if the situation, really large seas, warrant it, without stopping or even slowing down.  With the re-rigging, I just have to take out a few clove hitches and the extra 10 feet is free.

Here is also a before and after picture of the driving lights. They are handy when anchoring in strange spots with other boats or mooring buoys around. I’ve also used them in dark, narrow, lonely channels. T

here have been a few too many of those.

My long term filter carton is a bit depleted. I have already taken out my last 6 Racor 2010 filters. I keep them in the engine room by the Racors..
I have only half a dozen Racor 2050 filters left for my fuel polisher, as well as a number of engine mounted filters, along with some water sediment filters for the water maker.
Driving lights off

 

Driving lights on.
I only use them for anchoring in unknown places or in narrow, but marked channels.

Chasing Screws

I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a couple of weeks. But the winds off the northern California coast are proving to be more persistent than the northerly winds off the Mexican coast last year. There is a blocking high pressure area in the eastern Pacific that just won’t leave. It’s certainly been there almost all spring. Doesn’t it realize summer is almost here?

One of the other manifestations of this weather pattern is the north east has been cooler than normal.  Let New York have the brutal hot and humid conditions they are used to and let me have gentle breezes.

This is all stainless except for that compartment of brass screws on the right. I’m holding a 1 Kroner Norwegian coin. It has a hole in it and is not magnetic, so it goes with the washers.

So, in the meantime, I am organizing.

I had wanted to put off this tool and parts re-organization until this summer when Ti and Thien are with me. I had thought that it would be a good way for them to understand what things are, where they go and how we use them.

Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.

During the last two months as I have worked on various projects on Dauntless, countless jobs have taken longer than they should because I can’t find the right tool or part. Admittedly, it doesn’t help that I have spent 20 minutes looking for a flashlight that I could not find because it was ON and my brain was not looking for something that was lite, no matter how obvious.

I have also spent 15 minutes looking all over the boat, for a part I had just found only to have placed it someplace. 15 minutes!  I knew I had put it someplace I wouldn’t lose it. Where was it? In my left hand!!

Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!

Crescent wrenches and sockets

So, a re-organization is necessary. I mentioned before that I had mixed stainless-steel bolts and screws with non-stainless. But I discovered I did not just have one tray organizer like that, but three or four.  I also found fasteners that I thought I had but couldn’t find.

Now, everything is in its right place.

I also had the problem of finding four 13 mm wrenches, but not the one 14 mm I was looking for. Now, I have a full set hanging in the engine room (before I just had the 13, 14, 19, and large adjustable that I needed for the fuel filters).

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle my electric parts. I know I have a lot, 220 v, 110 v, 12 v, but the 5 or 6 containers I thought I had has grown to more than a dozen.

 

 

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.

 

 

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

 

I’m So Lazy

Since I’ve been back in HCMC, I don’t even do the little I have to do.

My Orange Juice and Yogurt today (cost $1.80)

What do I really have to do?

I’d like to get my electronic Dauntless logs up to date. I’ve been stalled in August 2017 for the longest time. I need to re-organize my hard drive on my laptop, so I only have one current directory that I keep backed up, with other files, music and pictures, stored on my external drives.

Not exactly the most onerous tasks. So, why aren’t they getting done?

Fundamentally, I think I’m simply too much of an extravert to sit home and be productive. I’m writhing this post now, while sitting in one of my two favorite cafes, in this case, Coffee Bui Van Ngo, about an 8-minute drive on the motorbike from my house.

Sometimes I get Cappuccino, as I find it as good as in Italy
(undrinkable in USA)

I’m enjoying a yogurt with ice and orange juice. Usually I get it blended but decided to get wild today and try it this way. I’d already had my coffee at home. Vietnam is one of the few places where I find almost anyplace, I go the coffee is as good as I make at home.

In fact, New Yorkers would feel this is the one place they would feel at home in regard to coffee. The normal coffee is very strong, with milk and sugar; what New Yorker’s call “regular”.

I was 19 years old, driving across the country for the first time with my first car returning to the University of Washington for my second year.

When i want an Avocado Smoothie, I go to this cafe. (cost $0.90)

I stopped late in the evening in Montana, just south of Missoula, to get a cup of coffee since I was planning on driving thru the night, on my way to Kennewick, Washington. When I asked for a coffee to go, I was asked how I wanted it and I told her “regular”. She gave me a funny look, but minutes later my coffee in a container and bag arrived and I was on my way. Always pressed for time, I got underway before trying it down the road.

Black and bitter. Ugh.

That’s how I discovered that not everyone drank “regular” coffee.

That got added to the list of Things Aren’t Like This in NY. Already on the list was the shocking discovery that the buses stopped running in Seattle at 11:00 p.m. 10 years later, I discovered it was the same in London, as we found ourselves with scores of others trying to find a taxi.

How anyplace that calls itself a major city has a transportation system that goes to sleep makes one understand why people like cars so much.

But today, no tilting at windmills, the Vietnamese coffee is rich, strong and creamy. Perfect over ice, as most Vietnamese have it. The ice dilutes it to a perfect state, still very strong .

So, getting out of the house seems to give me purpose.

The owner and his girl at my smoothie place

Being around people is part of that process.

Though, on Dauntless, I do get restive, but there is always something physical for me to do, which I really enjoy. In a perfect world, Dauntless would be a not too far drive away. Much like when she was in providence , Rhode Island. Living in upper Manhattan, I could drive to Dauntless in about 4 hours. Stay a few days, get some work done and return home for the long weekend.

Even now, If I was anyplace in the States, I’d consider flying to her in Vallejo, staying  5 or 6 days, then home again. Round trip plane tickets can be had for around $300.  I’d do that.

But a trans-Pacific flight is a horse of a different color. 15 hours from the west coast to Northeast Asia for a connecting flight of 4 to 6 hours to Saigon. Sometimes it ends up being two red-eyes. One is bad enough.

I’ll just have to be more disciplined and get out more.

 

Work on the Mast

During the last week on Dauntless, getting her ready for the winter without me, tears all around, I realized how sweet it was to work under a roof. 

Looking aft with the mast down, under the roof of the Vallejo City Marina

I loved it so much, I changed my project priorities a bit.  I figured it made the most sense to do those things that are difficult to do under normal circumstances.  It is such a pleasure to sit on the fly bridge, out of the hot blazing sun or the cold wet rain. With the mast down, I didn’t have to wrap one arm around the mast and hold on for dear life. Under such ideal conditions, I realized I had to get all the things done I had been contemplating for years.

Four years ago, getting Dauntless ready for her first ocean crossing, I took what was given. Unlike the Lexan storm windows which were done in the last hours, the Maretron system and instruments on the mast were completed with days to spare.

One thing that has sunk into my dense brain is if I don’t have a clue as to what I am doing, then at least do the simple solutions instead of making complicated ones. To that end, I mounted the Maretron instruments on an existing antenna arch that extended forward and was above the radar.

It was the simplest solution and worked well enough for four years, but now, I wanted to make it better. I have felt that the weather instrument that measures all the normal weather parameters, including wind speed and direction, is not in a clear air stream with winds from the stern. As you know, this Kadey Krogen loves following winds and seas, therefore if the data is being affected under such conditions, it’s not ideal.

The other issue that is also related to stern winds is that every once in a while, lines related to the paravanes, get enough slack that over time, being blown forward, like 21 days in following winds and seas, that they were easily snagged on those weather instruments or the bracket itself. In the first years, more than once, after deploying the paravanes, I discovered that the weather instrument arch was carrying the weight of the paravanes. Not good. (Though it does confirm the forces on the paravane system are as expected).

Just too many times, that antenna arch has been seconds from disaster. Time to get rid of it. The Maretron cable that runs inside the mast must also be replaced. So, the Maretron WSO and GPS will be mounted on the spreaders. In addition, I will mount my Wi-Fi extender antenna and I hope to also move my current AIS antenna to the spreader. Currently it’s mounted on the cowling of the fly bridge near the helm. It’s too low. Many times, it will not see big ships until 5 or 6 miles away. At the Dauntless speed of 6 knots and big ships possible speed of 20 knots, that still gives me more than a 10-minute warning, but that antenna should be maximized just on principal.

Plan for the Mast Spreaders
March 2019

I also need to remount the two Chinese LED spreader lights. The lights themselves, bought 5 years ago on Amazon for $20 each, have been great, but the mounting hardware is mild steel that rusts badly. I have a way to mount them directly to the spreaders, without the steel hardware. Since I am doing that, I will also change the electrics a bit and add an electrical circuit to power a LED stripe that I will also mount on the mast.

Now, your thinking, while I have eliminated one protuberance, I have made the spreaders much more complicated. That’s true. But I have a plan.

I will also add a 1/16th Amsteel line from the top of the mast to the end of each spreader, then forward to the front of the radar arch. Looking aft from the bow, this will look like a triangle. Looking from either side, this will look almost like an obtuse triangle.

Now, I have not added this yet. This will happen in March when I return to Dauntless, but in my mind’s eye, I see this little line as making it much more difficult for a loop of any line to become snagged around the spreaders, radar arch or the mast itself.

We’ll see.

 

Teamwork

It’s 20:30 hours. I had a glorious day in all aspects. The weather could not have been better, 72°, light breeze. Dauntless is under the roof, no problems with sun or rain. Of the two projects I started out this morning to get done: one’s done and the other two are almost done.

this picture was taken just 5 hours before my departure. I was so enamored with the sunset that I really did not look at the situation.
Notice the solar panel array on the port side stern of the sail boat in front of me.

But this evening, I felt a disquiet. My project list is not even a quarter done and I’m leaving for the winter in 5 days.

Then I realized it’s not about progress on the projects, days left, or anything else. It’s that I’m alone.

But even that is not so simple. In fact, my happy meter is well above my “normal”. Boat wise, relationship wise, career wise, pretty much everything, I’m quite happy about.  So why the grumpy face and thoughts?

I’m not feeling lonely; but something is still missing.

Then it occurred to me. My entire life, from as early as I can remember, has been about teamwork. Working with others to a common purpose.

I can’t even begin to tell you the times I sacrificed personal accolades for the sake of the team.

All my successes in life can be attributed to building and nourishing successful teams.

Even when I started my teaching career, I did not become a successful classroom teacher until I realized that I needed to make the students in each class understand that they were a team and needed to help each other for their own learning, not for me.

As a high school principal, it was harder, because professionals in education have never been taught anything about teamwork, but the successes we had were all because the entire staff was working together for the good of our students. Sure, there were a few bad apples, but despite them, we got a lot of kids to college and success that would not have happened otherwise.

Then, I look at the other side. Even though I was quite successful selling cars, I hated it. The General Manager at a very successful dealership once made the comment to all in our sales meeting that, “Bost, probably tells everyone that he is a lawyer” I wondered how he knew, though I didn’t pick lawyer, I just never told anyone I sold cars.

While I was successful there, I was a duck out of the water.

With my project list for Dauntless, the list would feel less daunting if my teammate was here. Teammates don’t let you get overwhelmed with small stuff and they convince you the big stuff isn’t so big.

Even better, teammates give you that Cesar Milan nudge or click, that gets you off the obsession and back on track.

That’s what I miss. Otherwise it’s too easy to go around in circles or become obsessed about the unimportant.

In teaching, once I realized that I had to convince the students that they are a learning team. One time, I noticed one of my special colored pencils was missing from my grade book, that was open on the first row of desks. I used color codes for different types of work. I was irritated about it and started complaining to the class about my missing pencil.

In a New York minute, which in this case was probably 30 seconds, one of the students calls out, “OK, we get it Mr. Bost, now can we move on”

I snapped out of it. It was the nudge I needed.

(A couple of days later, in walking around a different class, I saw my pencil in front of one of my problematic students. Without a word and I just took it back.  Months later I finally got that student to start working and she passed with a 72 out of 100 on the NY State Regents.  She worked hard, finally. How we got there, is another story, I’ll save for the book).

And I wouldn’t have spent 3 hours on the Maretron power problem without checking the fuse from the very beginning.

Oh Richard, since you know the circuit had power until you shorted it, why don’t you check that fuse once again?

Oh yeah, that’s probably better than spending the next three hours on this connector!

 

Maretron or Not

For a little, non-electronic boat, I sure love my Maretron data. I have 9 modules:

  • two to communicate with everything else, (USB, IPG) and the N2K Viewer
  • two for the fresh water tanks, (TLM),
  • one solid state compass, (SSC),
  • one GPS, (GPS),
  • one depth sounder with paddle wheel and lastly, (DST),
  • the love of my life, my (WSO), the weather instrument.

The solid sate compass seems to work better with my ComNav autopilot. In addition, it gives me the roll and pitch data I often quote in my blog.

The weather instrument is also solid state with ultrasonic wind measurement.  Considering I installed the system myself over 4 years and 20,000 miles ago, I’ve had few problems.

A glorious day in Vallejo, under a roof, with the mast down, facing aft

Coming west across the Atlantic, the constant winds behind us and to the side, from 15 to 35 knots for 528 hours or 22 days (No, I didn’t stop to change the oil) took a toll on my connections on the mast. Everything still worked, but occasionally, if a line got caught it would put enough strain to disrupt the connection until I freed it.

So, one of my projects now is to redo all the connections in the system. I  also now slather everything in dielectric grease. So much so, that I almost put it on my pancakes the other morning.

One of the offending connectors

So, the day started out so very well. Sitting on deck, with the mast down, Dauntless under a roof, protecting us from the elements and sun, I thought about climbing up the mast in Cabo San Lucas, in hot, 95° sun, holding on the mast with one hand, while trying to tighten the 5 little wires inside the plug just under the WSO.

I was in hog heaven. I carefully tool the plug apart, unattached the 5 little wires, and recut them all and trimmed them. Now, I knew power was still on the system.  Before I started any of this, I wanted to make sure that it was only the WSO that was incommunicado.  So, just as I was thinking that I would have to be careful in cutting the positive power line, meaning not to cut it with the ground wire at the SAME time; I did exactly that. The little spark, showed me that I’d f..ed up.

Sure enough, when I go below to check, now the whole Maretron system has no data.

Had I shorted out something serious? Was there a fuse in the system? If so, where was it?? Who the hell installed this system?? Oh, it was me!

Let me check the computer cabinet. Open cabinet and what do I see, the fuse block that I put in 4 years ago and even nicely labeled at that.

It went downhill from there.

To check the fuses, I had to pull them, to do that I needed to power down the whole system. That done, I pulled each fuse and looked at it very carefully. Very carefully (for those of you who already know the answer, don’t spoil it for your dear ones who are also reading this).

They all looked good. I powered the system back up. That takes a few minutes because the modem and router have to be booted up before the computer otherwise everyone gets confused.

At this point, I noticed that the little light for the Maretron circuit was not lit on the router until I turned on the computer. I hadn’t noticed that before. (and in the future, I will explain that issue).

No change. I went back to the fly bridge. One of dozens of trips I would make over the next couple of hours. I figured I had screwed up the wiring of the plug. I took it all apart again. I convinced myself that possibly the ground shield covering was touching one of the data lines. I put it all back together again, rebooted the entire system and alas. No joy.

At this point, I’d spent an hour on this. I pulled the fuses again. They still looked good. I even held them up to the light. But finally, just to be sure, I changed the 5-amp fuse that powered the Maretron system. Surely now, it would work.

Still No Joy. Now, more than ever I was convinced it was the plug. The plug was the only thing I had worked on.

Back to the flybridge. Took plug apart again. Put it back together again. Rinse and repeat.

I got my electric meter out (finally you think), check the plug for the umpteenth time. No power.

I go online and check the Maretron site. It tells me I should see 60 and 120 ohms between certain lines. I see exactly that. But still no power. I must have shorted something else out. Where did I install the power tap?

Oh, I remembered where the power tap was because it’s in the port side pilot house wire race that is so full of wires I have trouble getting the teak panel back in place.

Other than no power, the continuity on the plug and lines tested correctly.

I’ve been working on this for three hours now. I return to the computer and fuse block.

I finally decide to test for power in the fuse block. Umm, the Maretron circuit has no power here.

I pull that fuse and check it. No circuit. I check the old fuse I had pulled out, no circuit.

I got fuse number three and checked it, a circuit.

I stick it in and low and behold, power.

Two hours earlier I had replaced a bad fuse with another bad fuse. Both fuses showed no sign that they were open. Both had very clear “Z” wire that wasn’t broken.

One of the offending fuses

 

Hundreds of Males, Too Few Females.

I was looking forward to this project, as I like working on the electrical things and I just wanted to also tidy up the wires and the things I’d done over the last couple of years.

I needed to put new female spade connectors on the gauges and switches in the forward head. I also needed to replace the little bilge pump and replace the float switch for the big Rule 200 bilge pump in the forward bilge.

Cleaning up my cabin. This fuse and terminal block is for the forward head and bilge. The Raritan black box is for the old ElectroScan that I replaced with a Purisan.. This was the easy part. I had no corrosion here.

So, I get my two trays of electric connectors, with hundreds of pieces and what do I find: hundreds of males and a half dozen  females.  Sociologists warn of impending disaster when the male to female numbers reach 52% to 48% respectively in society. Because those single males unable to find mates wreak havoc on the society.

All those rogue elephants in Africa, male. Nuff said.

Female spade connectors are needed to connect a wire to the switch or instrument. I need about a dozen just for the forward head. The current connections are all corroded considerably. I know why, but don’t think I’ll mention it, other than to say, my not wanting to throw anything away can be dangerous.

Amazon will deliver the females on Tuesday.

So, I could tackle the paravane bird holders. I’ve tried various things in the last 4 years. Some have been a bit more effective than others, but in the last weeks I’ve gotten tired of stepping over them on the side deck. With the paravane pole taken down, there is not way to secure them.

In normal use, even if I think I won’t need the paravane stabilizers, I will deploy the poles only.  This allows me to deploy the birds without having to go the flybridge again. So, I need a method to secure them, with or without the poles in place.

This has been an ongoing issue. Each half-assed system I make, breaks sooner rather than later.

My solution is very simple, net and won’t get in the way, in the narrow deck space. I must say, that I think my time in Vietnam has enabled me to see simpler solutions. The Vietnamese make do with whatever they have, which is fractions of what we Americans are accustomed to.

The New paravane bird holder, suing eye hooks and 1/16″ Amsteel. Another view
The New paravane bird holder, suing eye hooks and 1/16″ Amsteel

It’s a thrifty culture and probably what I need in my reduced earning years.

To that end, I have also really tried to limit my going out for dinner. Thus, my chicken and brussels sprouts for dinner today. Very good.

My plated dinner, chicken and Brussels sprouts.
My dinner cooking, chicken and Brussels sprouts