Last week I returned to Dauntless, but then took a 5-day trip to Anchorage to attend a teaching job fair. I figure as long as I will be in the USA for the foreseeable future, I may as well work again and put my winter time to constructive use and replenish the coffers.
I spent much of the winter thinking of what had to be done on Dauntless. Since leaving Ireland two and a half years ago, I’ve asked for a lot from my little Kadey Krogen, but gave her only fuel and oil in return.
But 30 months, 10,000+ miles, 2100 engine hours later, the poor girl needs some TLC. While I revised and improved things like the paravane stabilizers as time went on, some other things, like my solar panels, were ignored, though I knew I needed to change the wiring from the controllers.
I also didn’t need to, but thought it was time to change the location of my fresh water tank selector. Too many times, I’ve had to sneak into the occupied second cabin in the middle of the night, open the closet, pull up the floor board and change the water tank so I could take a shower. Since I’m working with water, I may as well also, change the selector valve for the water maker output.
So, I have a list of about a dozen improvements and corrections (to some older half-assed jobs of mine) to do. Plus, the normal stuff of putting away the clothes and accouterments of a “normal” life after merging a couple of households. Now, where to put those dozen suits?
I’d also come up with a plan as to not to waste money. I cook very well and like my cooking. I often eat out only because I like getting out, not because the food is better. In fact, often it’s not, yet expensive.
Day 1 of 60 days, the next two months, on my first free day, with the rental car that I’d picked up in Sacramento Airport the night before, and which had to be returned by 18:00 here in Vallejo, I would do my shopping at Costco to set me up for the next two months.
All goes according to plan, with only a little warning flag. The freezer only got down to 20°F in the first 18 hours. Usually, it is minus 5°. Did it just need more time, I wished and hoped?
You all know that hope. The hope that is not based on any reason or even history. It’s just a hope that you don’t have to deal with it
So of course, on Day 2 of 60, instead of starting my dozens of projects I’d planned, I’m dealing with stuff that isn’t even on the list.
Freezer temperature is still too high. My Costco ice cream is more like a slurpy. First thing I did was to look online for solutions. Not hard, and in fact, on Cruiser’s Forum, there was a really well written story of re-charging the Freon in (my) BD50F Danfoss compressor. Not so hard, just finding a coupling fitting will be a PIA.
I check out the re-charge fitting and I notice the first fly in the ointment. I’ll have to move the entire compressor to get at the re-charge fitting, as it’s tucked up against the insulated copper tube for the refrigerant.
My compressor is behind the freezer, under the pilot house settee. Getting to the securing screws require an agility I never had. Yet again one of those situations in which a trained monkey would be very valuable.
By noon, the compressor is moved enough to start phase 2. Finding Freon.
Taking my new acquired $60 bicycle, it was only 10 minutes to the NAPA store. Sure enough, they have Freon, but not the hoses or fittings to connect it. I buy a can in any case. (Why you wonder, without the hose??)
Then, as I am walking out the door, I realize that I still need the hoses and connectors, so I may as well go to the nearby Autozone. Said Autozone was much better equipped than the NAPA and not only are their prices lower, they have a number of options with Freon and hose together. I still needed an adapter hose to connect the car sized fitting to my bicycle style fitting used on the Danfoss compressors.
They had something that may work, so I get that too, promising not to hurt the packaging so I can return it if need be.
Decide I may as well, return the Freon I got at NAPA. Apologize for that.
Get back to the boat and get ready to get to work.
As I am gently moving the compressor, trying not to make a small problem into a much bigger one by rupturing a coolant tube, I notice that the muffin fan that sits between the compressor and the radiator is not turning. I stick my finger in it to make sure and it’s still not turning.
Well, that will teach me to diagnose the problem on the internet.
Yes, Freon may still be an issue, but before I do anything, I need to get the fan working. There is no way I can take the old fan out without moving the entire compressor to a more assessable location.
But guess what? I have muffin fans! At least three or four!! Why? You wonder? Because back in the day, year one (as Asians would count it), the muffin fan went out in my inverter. The inverter overheats and shuts off pretty soon without the fan.
I bought 4 muffin fans online, they were advertised as being very quiet and would last forever. Spares are good. Of course, par for the course, once I took the old muffin fan out of the inverter, I realized the fan rotor had just fallen out of its housing. I just needed to glue it and put it back. It’s worked the last 5 years without a hitch. Though of course, noting is that easy. I cut the wires very short when I pulled it out, so of course, it took half a day to reconnect them.
But now, when I really needed one, I had muffin fans to spare.
I installed it on the opposite side of the radiator, so that it blows thru the radiator, the defunct fan and the compressor. I hooked it up to an external 12v power because before I went to the trouble of hooking it up normally, I wanted to make sure it was the solution to the problem.
Within hours the temperature of the freezer was down to zero. By morning, it was -5°.
I was good to go.
Now, at the end of Day 3 of 60, my to-do list is the same as ever and Alaska is no closer.
Getting or not getting “seasick” is a subject I have been meaning to write about for quite awhile now. I had partially addressed it in the excerpt below which I published two years ago. But I never made the follow-up post of my reflections on the subject and conclusions after the three month and 5,000-mile passage from North Africa to the Panama Canal. A video I made on our nice Christmas Day
That’s 5,000 miles in strong, 18 to 36 knot winds produced by the northeasterly trade winds. While these winds are called the NE Trades, because that is their long-term direction, the actually winds on this passage were NE through SE, with three distinct swells from those directions with differing amplitudes and periods. This produced 8 to 16-foot seas with relatively short periods of 6 to 8 seconds from the NE thru the SE. Not the most pleasant conditions, even for a boat like Dauntless that loves following seas. In fact, this was the most difficult conditions with following seas we’ve ever encountered.
Some of the worst conditions possible if one is prone to seasickness, with the boat corkscrewing its way across the Atlantic at 7 knots. I expected that as I got my sea legs, sea sickness would be just a bad memory. But no, in fact, it was to the contrary. It got me to wondering what was really going on.
Stress builds and crossing an ocean is stressful in the best of conditions. For one, my insurance does not cover me past 200 miles off-shore. So, abandoning ship is not an option. For another, with a three-week passage, you are asking every component to work 24/7 for that time period and if something does go wrong, how to minimize the damage. Therefore, it’s a constant weighing of risks, rewards. E.g. Can I fix this problem with the engine running or do I increase the chances of something else going wrong by turning off the engine?
This is what I had written two years ago, just days after leaving Morocco for the Canaries at the very start of my second Atlantic Passage:
Morocco to the Canaries
Four days on the North Atlantic, 600 nm, four days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, what could go wrong?
For one, we found the weak link on this Krogen, it’s me.
In my first year of cruising, I would get sea sick maybe a quarter of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like three-quarters of the time.
What’s changed? Who knows? I’m older, but usually one’s body becomes more adapted. No, I think the problem is in my brain.
When conditions are rough, I know to take a remedy or put on the Scopolamine transdermal patch. I’ve been using the patch for more than 3 years, now all of a sudden, the patch gives me a bad rash, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night before departure.
With nice cruising conditions, or I should say, relatively nice, with winds and seas less than 15 knots and 3 feet (1m), respectively, I never had to worry, now, if the slightest unexpected event happens, I get seasick.
This last episode was one of the worst I’ve ever had. But I’m not 100% sure it’s “seasickness”. It’s more like my body gets a whole load of adrenaline and then when crisis is over, my body doesn’t know what to do.
We were heading 240 degrees, with Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots, producing seas from the south of 4 to 8 feet.
The paravanes work most effectively with seas on the beam, so our ride was actually not so bad with a gentle rolling of 8 degrees to the lee side and 4 degrees to the windward side.
On the 3rd day out of Morocco, I was in the galley filling my water bottle, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravane bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken.
I purposely take my time and want to remain calm. I finish filling my water bottle. I go to stop the boat, neutral, idle, then up to the fly bridge to retrieve the pole and the broken bird.
Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much less. So, there was no big crisis.
The two spare birds are stored in the lazerette. The one that broke had been repaired in Ireland, as it had previously broken crossing the North Sea. So, I wasn’t too worried as to the cause. We had two spares in the lazzerette. The one on the starboard side was easier to reach, but as we tried to get it out, the fin of the bird became lodged under the generator exhaust hose. And the more stuck it became; the more stressed I became. I didn’t like the idea of leaving it as it, with its metal fin pressed against the exhaust hose and the wooden bird, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston. But after 10 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, unloaded the port side of the lazzerette and got the other bird that was stored on the other side of the lazerette.
It took just another minute to replace the broken one and we were underway again, finally 20 minutes later, having spent most of that time, trying to get the one bird out.
Underway again, all was OK, but I was feeling very strange. Very strange.
I went to change my clothes, as I was very hot, sweaty and covered in anti-corrosion oil I had sprayed liberally in the lazzerette before leaving.
But after changing my clothes, I felt worse; like overheating badly, I figured a shower would help.
I shower, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t even dry myself off. It was a bizarre feeling. I wasn’t able to stand up or move. I dragged myself to bed and lay on top.
I figure I just need a little rest, but had wanted to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK before we get underway again. So, after a few minutes, getting more stressed because I knew Micah and Dauntless were waiting for me, as I go to put on my shirt, I became violently ill. First time that’s happened in years, even though, I get sea sick a lot and have that miserable nauseous feeling, I don’t throw up. This time I did.
I finally understood that I can do nothing but lay on top of my bed naked. I couldn’t even dry myself off. I use what little strength I have to tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and to get underway.
I stayed on top of the bed and went to sleep.
Three hours later, I am up and OK. Like it never happened.
After I posted the above, my friend Dan added this comment:
“I have read of at least one person who has spent decades at sea who get sea sick every time they set to sea for three days or so. They, like so many, take a while to get their sea legs, and then they are just fine. What was interesting about this person is that they ONLY get sea sick when they are captain. If they are crewing on a boat, they don’t get sea sick at all. Their guess was that the stress of being captain was what caused the sea sickness.”
By the time we arrived in the Caribbean, I’d had two more stressful incidents and very similar physical reactions. Not only that, but suddenly, my skin was very allergic to the adhesive on this particular batch of Trans-dermal patches. So, I couldn’t wear it anymore and I’m left with these two quarter sized areas behind by ears of no pigmentation. No Michael Jackson jokes please.
I had also started to see a pattern. On Christmas Day, it was one of the calmest of the trip, with seas not more than 8 feet and winds in the mid to high teens. We saw whales that day and had a couple cruise with us for about 15 minutes. They were 30 to 40 feet in length and swam underwater next to the paravane bird.
Christmas being more important to my nephew Micah than myself, I wanted to make a special dinner, so I BBQed the last of four delicious Canary Island Tee Bone Steaks. The best ever.
As soon as I had served our dinner, I had that feeling of “seasickness” come over me. A bit of nausea and overall weakness.
Sitting in Martinique in the wonderful marina Le Marin, I had time to reflect on what was really going on. In all my cases of “seasickness”, the motion of the boat was actually less than it had been over any given period of time. Also, it was clear that I wasn’t sick before a crisis, I wasn’t sick during the crisis, but as soon as the crisis was over, I was sick.
Didn’t really sound like motion sickness to me, but more a reaction to stress.
I’s already stopped using the Transdermal patch and now I decided to not take any more seasickness medicine at all, when we left Martinique for the Panama Canal
I also decided to take a shower every morning before my watch and every night before bed. The shower in the morning seemed to calm me down. I had no idea why, but starting my day at a lower anxiety level seemed to make a significant difference.
From Martinique to San Francisco, a distance of 3,600 miles and 90+ days of cruising, in some of the worst seas I have ever encountered, I’ve taken an anti-nausea medicine only twice.
I now understand that that terrible “seasick” felling was my body adjusting to the lack of adrenaline that the stress had produced and my para-sympathetic system was now getting my body back to normal.
Clearly the shower in the morning or before my watch, makes a significant difference.
And then in the November 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, they did a book review of the book, Never-Home-Alone
And the shower in the morning starts to make sense scientific sense.
Here is the article from the Journal (bolding and underline is mine):
‘Never Home Alone’ Review: The Critters Chez Nous
In trying to rid our homes of insects, fungi and the like, we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Lisa Margonelli reviews “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn.
When Rob Dunn was a young ecologist he rummaged through rainforests in search of biodiversity. More recently he discovered another type of wilderness: In a study of 1,000 houses in the U.S., Mr. Dunn’s team found 80,000 kinds of bacteria and archaea hidden inside—that’s at least 10 times the number of bird and mammal species observed in all of the Americas.
He soon also unearthed in our homes some 40,000 kinds of fungi and hundreds of insects, many yet to be named by entomologists.
“I was ecstatic,” Mr. Dunn writes. “Back in the jungle again, albeit the jungle of everyday life.”
In his fascinating new book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Mr. Dunn brings a scientist’s sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home: In trying to make it “clean,” we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.
Mr. Dunn is a fine writer, wringing poetry out of the microbial explorations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who spent half the 17th century documenting all the tiny living things around him—in his neighbor’s mouth, in the snow, in cheese rinds and in wasps. Leeuwenhoek “was to become an astronaut of the miniature,” Mr. Dunn tells us, “all alone exploring a realm that was more diverse and elaborate than anyone but him seemed to understand.”
Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson’s guide to cutting-edge research.
Mr. Dunn’s larger purpose is to explain how the ecology of the home has gone awry. Once upon a time, we lived in leaf huts, with interiors that looked a lot like our outdoor environment.
Soon we moved to round houses, then square houses and finally to air-tight apartments in cities.
Now we close our windows, use products that claim to kill 99% of germs and have unknowingly domesticated bedbugs—so they adjust their workdays around ours.
Our homes no longer resemble the garden outside but have a weird human-centered microbial signature that is also found on the International Space Station, and that’s not a good thing.
The problem, according to Mr. Dunn, “is not what is present but instead what is absent. The problem has to do with what happens when we create homes devoid of nearly all biodiversity except that which falls from us and then, for twenty-three hours of the day, we don’t go outside.”
To understand how mundane and occasionally deadly this evolutionary project of ours is, consider the shower head. In many American homes, water is treated with chlorine and chloramine, which kill pathogens but not mycobacteria, a genus that includes the cause of tuberculosis.
Meanwhile, in homes with water drawn from wells, nonharmful microbes flourish, including mycobacteria’s natural competitors.
By wiping out all the other bacteria in chlorinated water, we create environments where troublesome microbes thrive and even evolve.
This has led Mr. Dunn, together with his colleague Noah Fierer, to find that mycobacteria in shower heads can accurately predict instances of mycobacterial infections, as well as the regions where these outbreaks are likely to occur.
And yet mycobacteria are not entirely bad. One species has been found to enhance serotonin production, which can lead to greater happiness and lower stress. Mice exposed to a species of mycobacteria are more likely to remain calm when facing a bigger, more aggressive mouse.
Might this also explain how a morning shower helps us deal with a stressful commute and a bad day on the job?
These twin stories—of scientific discovery right under our noses and the perilous impact of our unwitting genetic engineering—thread through Mr. Dunn’s book.
Cockroaches were once easily lured with glucose baits but have now rapidly evolved to dislike sweet things. Good strategy for the cockroaches, more troubling for us.
“Just as military specialists study the battles of the past to prepare for the future,” Mr. Dunn suggests that “we might consider our battle with the German cockroach in contemplating our own evolutionary future.”
“Never Home Alone” is a prescription for more biodiversity in the home and, more specifically, a plea for more attention to ecology. The more we understand how different creatures interact and influence our immune systems, the healthier we may be. But in the service of getting more people into ecology, Mr. Dunn believes the field needs to deliver tangible products.
He wants to systematically explore the species in our homes to determine which ones could contain useful chemistry. The camel cricket, a previously unnoticed and rarely studied thumb-size little bugger that lives—possibly by the billions—in American basements, has gut bacteria that can break down black liquor, a highly alkaline toxic waste produced by the paper industry.
The thief ant traipsing across your kitchen counter also produces an antibiotic that may eventually be useful against hard-to-fight infections. Personally, what I want to see is a home “makeunder “show dedicated to “rewilding” homes—similar to what you’d see on the Learning Channel, only more anarchic.
A bunch of giggling scientists show up at the door, toss the hand sanitizer, the shower head, the Sheetrock and the fungus-laden air conditioner.
In their place, they hand the homeowner a bar of soap, throw open the windows, install a ball of spiders to fight flies in the basement and start a batch of sourdough—all in the service of re-creating the garden indoors.
No doubt there will be tension in the idea of a wild domicile. Even King Tut, Mr. Dunn notes, was buried with a fly swatter.
Ms. Margonelli is the author, most recently, of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology.” ■
Since my first car days, driving around Mt. Rainier in the middle of the night, I have loved having extra lights on my car, driving lights. No video games, no internet, we didn’t pretend life, we lived life.
Fast forward 40 years and during my first year with Dauntless, I somehow found myself, cruising the ICW at night, a few times too many. Cruising at night in marked channels is so much harder than cruising on the open ocean. There are frequent course changes, by the minute or even necessitating hand steering. I soon found that that the spot light on Dauntless, mounted on top, forward of the pilot house, did little more than light up the foredeck, thus killing whatever night vision I had.
I found it more effective to stand outside, either in the dark or using a handheld LED flashlight. But when cruising alone, it’s difficult to be both outside the pilot house and steer the boat. The solution, a driving light. They also come in very handy when looking for an anchorage or mooring spot, with other small boats, like a dingy, that may not show up on the radar.
My first driving light for Dauntless was a large Hella (made in Germany) that I hung under the bow pulpit. I was worried about the anchor hitting it as it swung into place, but that turned out not to be a problem.
It got all the way to Ireland and on the second day in Ireland, as we were re-positioning the boat, rafting her to a fishing boat by hand power alone, we managed to punch the lens of the light out, with the anchor of the nearby boat. The light still functioned, so I left it.
Lucky for me, because 11 months later, as I was cruising up a very narrow channel in southern Sweden, looking for an appropriate place to anchor after an exhausting day, that light saved my bacon.
The channel of “deep” water was only about 8 feet deep and Dauntless needed almost 5 of those feet. But the channel was only about 40 feet wide and outside the channel was only three feet. I had already hit two rocks while in Finland. This was not the soft mud of the Eastern U.S. or even the southern Baltic, this was the jagged rocks of Scandinavia (similar to Maine, as they are related geologically).
I was terrified. In large part because the channel was marked with non-reflective buoys that were spaced too far apart. In other words, as I passed one buoy, I could not see the next one more than half a mile away. Then I thought to turn on my driving light.
It wasn’t exactly like the sun coming up, but it put enough light down range to pick out the marker buoys. My task became easy and 30 minutes later, I was at the spot on the chart that had deep water off channel, so I could anchor and get some much-needed sleep.
My driving light was not going to last with a broken lens, letting water get into the housing. Earlier in the year, I had discovered that the replacement lens, was almost as much as the entire light, almost $100. In Sweden, more than half the cars have some sort of auxiliary driving lights. Why? Because it’s dark and for Europe there are a lot of big animals, mostly European Moose, (smaller than the North American version) on the road at night.
I found three large lights for $100. Later in Ireland, I got a few more of those Amazon LED fog lights (5” diameter). Link My Amazon Fog lights
Originally, I also had two 4″ fog (diffuse lens) facing forward. But they turned out to be only marginally effective. Also, during the same trip, I had to anchor just off the channel in Northern Ireland. I left the spreader lights on for increased visibility and I turned the forward fog lights down to illuminate the hull (they only consume 4.5 amps/hr). I then realized they illuminated the anchor chain well as I was hauling anchor. So I left that way ever since.
All these lights are made for vehicles and thus are waterproof, but the weak point are the brackets. They are mild steel and rust quickly. So, one of my winter projects was to replace those brackets with stainless steel.
I realized Vietnam does so much in stainless steel. Every household has numerous items made from stainless steel: kitchen racks, shelves, shoe and coat stands, etc. Therefore, this was the place to have it done.
Ideally, aluminum would be better, since the housing of the lights is aluminum, but that’s more expensive and the Vietnam market couldn’t sustain it. For the same reason, the stainless steel is to specification 304, not the more salt-water corrosion resistant, 316.
The language barrier can also be formidable. In my neighborhood, virtually no one speaks English. The stainless shop I found last year did not. But that means the translator, must understand the concepts that are being translated and understand my diagram I drew for the two types of brackets and the frame I wanted made. Trinh was up to the task and two days later, we got a call, saying my brackets were ready.
The frame cost $31, each bracket $3.50.
I’ll be back to Dauntless in mid-March, getting her ready to move north later in the spring and southeast Alaska this summer.
If nothing else, I’ll be able to better see in the dark.
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.
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.
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.
Day 13, Stbd deck view, seas 8 to 15 feet. An average day.
Day 14, View from the fly bridge looking east.
Day 14, I’m replacing the hydraulic hose in the lazzerette.
We are dead in the water and Micah didn’t like looking aft at waves that towered over the boat and then disappeared, as we bobbed on top of the wave. (View of seas at 2:40).
Day 14, I show the new hose.
Day 16, On our more steady days, we’d play a board game, in which I had glued a piece of non skid rubber to the bottom of the pieces.
Day 16, The only ship we encountered in the 3 week trip. Thank you AIS (for he avoided us).
Day 16, Our well travelled Kadey Krogen Flag on it’s second Atlantic Crossing
Day 16, Christmas, one of our best days. We had great steak dinner and had a whale with us for awhile.
Day 16, Our Christmas whale
Day 16, Christmas Dinner. I got “seasick” as soon as I finished cooking.
I’m currently visiting my friends for 40+ years in northeastern Italy, in a little town called Budoia. At the very foot of the Dolomites (a portion of the Alps), I first came here while stationed at Aviano Air Base in 1976.
Last night, while returning relatively late, it turned out, in spite of having all the keys to the doors, the shutters were also inadvertently locked. Now, these shutters are not the dainty kind we see on so many houses to give them that “homey” feel.
No, these shutters, like the house, were built in the 1800’s to keep the brigands out and to withstand a siege. So, the one door that I knew was kept unbolted at night and that I had the key for, was behind the brigand proof shutters. I know, I tried, not even a millimeter of give on those shutters.
I had already tried the other two doors, one in front, one in back, all bolted. I had even tried the door that is not used. Upon unlocking it, it seemed to give a millimeter or so, but is was clear that either the furniture in front of it was completing blocking it or it too was bolted. In any case, I quickly gave up and returned once more to the shutters.
Was it possible there was something I was not understanding in their opening? The matriarch of the house, knew I was coming back at this hour and had acknowledged not to lock me out, so I wondered what I was missing?
It was cold, already, 28° or -2°C. I couldn’t sleep in the car. My cell phone was dead, but I did have car charger and cable, I plugged it in and called the house. No answer.
I then tried her mobile number and minutes later after I successfully completed the “who is this? (It’s me) and why are you calling me at this hour? (the shutters are locked)” interrogation, I saw her coming down the stairs.
A half hour later, warm and cozy in my bed, was I ever so grateful to be in bed and to not have had to implement contingency plan number XYZ. But that got me to thinking, what was XYZ?
In my ten minutes of trying to solve the problem, trying every door a couple of times, even the windows, trying all sorts of key like objects in the lock of the shutters, all the while not thinking of the cold and me with no overcoat, (since I came from Vietnam). I realized never spent any time on “what if I can’t get in?”
What if I could not rouse the occupant? What if; then what?
No, I was totally focused on solving the problem.
While it’s impossible to cross an ocean in a small boat and not have some issues, in my two plus ocean passages, I’ve only had one problem that could have been, more than an inconvenience. That was when I burst the hydraulic line 1,000 miles from land in the middle of the Atlantic in 10 to 15-foot seas.
The hose that broke feed the hydraulic ram for the rudder. Without this hose, no steering and no autopilot. My Kadey Krogen does have an emergency tiller that attached to the top of the rudder post thru an opening in the deck, with a 6-foot lever arm. But this would mean standing, sitting, suffering on the aft deck for 7 straight days and nights.
I shudder even now just thinking about it.
As mariner’s who motor instead of sail know, a boat at constant rudder angle, will not go in a straight line. Wave action pushes the bow a little bit each time and the boat will be noticeably turning within 30 seconds in any kind of seas, thus requiring constant rudder adjustments. The primary reason an autopilot, to maintain a constant heading, is much required. More than likely Dauntless would arrive in Martinique minus any human crew, as we would have decided that swimming was better.
When this hose broke, my first thought wasn’t how we would now get to Martinique, it was how to solve the immediate problem. Just like last night, I didn’t spend any time on “what-ifs”. Oh, over the years I have some very general contingency plans, such as, engine stops, and I can’t get it going again for whatever reason, the prevailing winds will eventually blow the boat to land (as this wouldn’t happen in the Southern Ocean, that’s another reason not to go there!). Therefore, we have enough canned goods, water and peanut butter to last for months.
Many people have asked me what makes me able to cross oceans while other far more experienced sailors don’t. As I was reminded last night, one of the keys is the ability to focus on the problem at hand and not to catastrophize the problem. Don’t think of more problems when as you try to fix one.
When my helm wheel went slack in my hands in the middle of the Atlantic, I allowed myself one indulgence, I cursed at myself for being so stupid, but then it was to the task on hand. Let’s not spend any time on what-if I can’t fix it, let’s just fix it.
Another way to look at is Optimist versus Pessimist. The optimist sees possibilities, the pessimist sees barriers.
Not may pessimists cross oceans, maybe not even in planes!
Despite my accomplishments this past year, another 2500 miles behind me, the Golden Gate in front of me, the Baja bash, Panama Canal, the Atlantic Ocean, behind me, I wonder if I did not make some big mistake.
For not the first time, I wondered about my sudden decision to flee northern Europe two years ago. I loved northern Europe. I loved Ireland. I loved the peoples and the cultures.
I lived for 4 years in Germany and still visit relatively often. The Germans certainly have some interesting attributes. Some of which I even like a lot.
In 2015, I was reminded just like 30 years ago, the different personalities the Germans are along the north coast. These are the people who have known “Auslander”, (from an outside land), for thousands of years. They are not the Germans of the much more insular interior, one meets south of Hamburg down to the Alps.
I dwell on this because stupid Google, out of the blue the other day, sends me my pictures of years ago and says, “don’t you want to post these?”
It reminded me yet again of how great the cruising was along the north coast of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and North Seas. The cruising is the best I’ve yet encountered, with thousands of miles of protected skärgärd cruising. With the wind blowing 20+ knots, 100 meters away, you are cruising or anchored with nary a ripple of waves.
All the peoples who inhabit the environs along the coast are sea faring folk. Much like the Celtic culture along the west coast of Europe, from Galicia in NW Spain to Scotland, The North Sea and particularly the Baltic had the Hanseatic League. From Hamburg to Tallinn, they controlled trade and influenced culture from Germany to Russia.
This seafaring culture manifests itself in boat friendly, stranger friendly ways. No matter how small the port, or how many boats are already there, they will find room for you. In the more formal marinas, like Tallinn and Cuxhaven, the American flag was being put up on the yardarm of the marina even as I checked-in. And even check-in itself was a 5-minute process, with reasonable rates, about $0.25 per foot in Holland to $1.00 per foot in Helsinki. Overall average for marina overnights ended up being less than $0.50 a foot for my 4 months in the Baltic and North Seas.
All these experiences were exactly the opposite in southern Europe, by the way. 30-minute check-ins, filing out endless forms, each time, $1.00 per foot was best price and it went up to $2.00.
I was also reminded with much regret that the $1,000 ten-day stay I had at Cabo San Lucas was the same cost of one year! in Waterford, Ireland. Sure, Waterford could not boast like Cabo of having only 7 days a year with rain, but I am sure they can boast that they have at least 7 days a year with sun.
So, all these fond memories really made me question my decision of leaving Europe in 2016. Stupid Google also reminded me of my great trip to Galicia to scope out a winter home for Dauntless the following year. Food, people and marina in A Coruna were fantastic. I could stay there for $500 per month year around. Had I stayed another year as planned, I would still have some options. I could return to the Baltic the following summer or just stay in Northern Spain and Western France. I would have also saved so much money.
Oh Regrets. What would life be without them?
Probably a hell of a lot better!
I acknowledge that 2016 was a traumatic year for me. I often wonder if unexpected life changes led me to make some hasty, irrevocable decisions? It certainly seems so to me when I think and think and think about it.
It would have been just as easy to fly between Ireland or Spain and Vietnam. I picture myself escaping the heat a humidity of Vietnam for the damp coolness of Atlantic Europe.
One key factor drove my decision to leave for the Pacific, the availability of crew. My Hawaiian nephew wanted to take a year off from school before he went to law school. He thought exploring Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean via Dauntless would be ideal. He spent almost a year with Dauntless and I.
He was indispensable. Not only as a great, hardworking, vigilant crew mate, but also as a smart, interesting companion for the boring passage between Europe and the Panama Canal. I couldn’t have come that distance without him.
Dauntless is in Vallejo, California now. I’ll return to her next week for a month of getting her in ship shape. Next spring, I’ll return and weather permitting get her up to the Pacific Northwest by June, then British Columbia and Southeast Alaska for the summer.
Ending up in one of the wonderful, little towns of Southeast Alaska. Which one, will depend on several factors, Dauntless taking second stage for now.
By next year at this time, my life will take another turn, as I gain both a First and Second Mate on Dauntless. We’ll end up staying in Southeast Alaska only a little longer than originally planned. Visa requirements for my wife-to-be and her son require us to live in the United States, so SE AK is the perfect place to settle down for a while and catch a few fish and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife.
What would have happened had Dauntless still been in Europe now? I would truly have a mess on my hands. Instead of struggling with a 2500 trip, I would be looking at 10,000+ miles. Eek!!
Everything happens for a reason. Two years ago, I had no idea I’d fall in love with the love of my life, yet again (ok, I’ve had a lot of lives). Or that she would be in Vietnam or that I’d spend all my free time with her in Vietnam. Or that SE Alaska, then so far away, now so close, would be the perfect place for a variety or reasons.
As of Tuesday evening, we are planning to try to get to Magdalena Bay, 130nm, tomorrow. Our third try in the last 9 days.
This video doesn’t exist
Though even at that, we will probably we stuck there for three days over the weekend, as another period of very strong (15 to 25 kts) winds is forecast to hit the area then. But it’s time for new, less touristy scenery.
We’ll leave mid morning, as the winds diminish mid morning to late afternoon.
We had a few issues to deal with in the last few days, the most serious, a worn rubber “O” ring on the autopilot hydraulic pump.
With a new ring and a few hours of getting the air out of the system, we are good to go and better than before.
My Maretron weather instrument was off line due to a failed “T” connector. After a couple hours hanging on the mast for dear life, that too has been fixed.
Lastly, on my third trip to Costco in as many days, the dingy finally appeared in front of my eyes. On sale for only $500 delivered, it was too good a deal to pass up. Took me all afternoon to blow it up, and then a day to fix the carb that was pouring gas all over the place, but finally as i drove it to the fuel dock to fill the gas can, I felt pretty good.
So tomorrow we leave Dauntless in as good a shape as she has been in a long time.
Our weather window is not as open as I’d like, but we simply must pound out the next 200 miles to get into better, more favorable winds. Once north of Tortuga Bay, life is better.
We’ll check out of Mexico in Ensenada and check in to USA in San Diego.
It’s then to my friend’s Mike and Adriana in the Oxnard area, hopefully by mid June.
One needs to have a good plan to accomplish the goal, but sometimes, life happens, plans change and maybe the goal too.
The rub is, it’s even easier to change the goal, then to make a better plan for the circumstances.
But changing goals is a slippery slope; so easy to do, but before you know it, you’ve accomplished nothing.
In 8th grade I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist. Seven years later, in my last year at the University of Washington, I hated school, I was bored and tired of not having any money. But unlike many of my college friends who dropped out, transferred or just disappeared, I persevered.
I had a goal to accomplish. Three Master’s degrees later, each one to further some career goal, I look back and am satisfied with the goals, though some of the plans to accomplish those goals should have been re-thought.
Dauntless has been in my life for 5 years now. Inexplicitly, it doesn’t seem that long at all to me at all, it still feels like yesterday or at least last year.
The goal to take a boat to Europe and then S. Korea is even older, maybe 9 years. That goal drove the search for the right boat. A boat that could not only cross oceans but do it in a manner that I could afford on my meager pension.
The original plan was to cross the North Pacific this coming summer and arrive in Yeosu, S. Korea by October 2018. Instead, I find myself agonizing over how to get up the Pacific coast of Mexico. The North Pacific seems further away than ever.
But the goal doesn’t change; though the plan must.
I now have some intrepid fellows helping me with the first and hardest, part of the cruise north. Having good crew can put a lot of wind in your sails. It also allows me further tweak the plan. Maybe I can get to San Francisco Bay sooner, rather than later. Then, I would be able to spend some of this summer and fall cruising with good weather and friends.
So maybe some baby steps are in order for the next few years, but the destination remains the same.
Because I know how sensitive this subject can be for Americans of my generation. I didn’t want to offend or disrespect anyone.
Disrespectful to the American veteran who was put into a shitty situation thru no fault of their own and told to fix it, without the tools to do so. Disrespectful to those who lost life and loved ones. Disrespectful to those Vietnamese, who if they survived the war years, then had 20 years of a very hard life or if lucky enough, were able to flee with only the clothes on their backs.
So, what changed? Living on and off here for the past year, I see people, no matter what their background who are truly appreciate of Americans, like Americans and just want to work hard.
I’m watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Hanoi. Find it someplace and you can see in pictures and sound what I am trying to explain poorly.
I just got back from two weeks in the country for the Tet holiday. Upcountry as some could say, in Quang Nam province, just southwest of Danang. Simply put, Tet is about remembering the dead and living. Country living here is like living in the countryside in Europe 30 years ago or the USA 50 years ago. Yes, that means we have electricity and cold running water, but everything else may be luxury.
I was overwhelmed with the warmth of the people: friends, neighbors and family of Trinh’s mother and family. They would lend us motorcycles to get around. I was invited to every neighbor’s party. Everyone had to come by and drink with me. I drank a lot of beer and my new-found drink, rượu nếp, which is much like Korean makgeolli (막걸리, but a bit less effervescent.
Now, cruising here with Dauntless is another story. A complicated story for another time.
So, after the two-week (for me) Tet Holiday, life is returning to normal. I was in the “country”. It wasn’t that conducive to writing blogs.
But I ate so well and the people are so incredible nice, former VC or not! It was both overwhelming and amazing, but this is a story for another time.
I think I finally have a plan to get Dauntless up the west coast, that I am comfortable with. Sometimes it seems like the plan comes together immediately, sometimes it takes a lot of time. The reality is that every plan takes a long time to gestate. Plans seem to come together immediately only when I’ve been thinking about them forever before putting pen to paper. However, in this case, I feel like I’ve been writing continuous plans since September, just to move Dauntless the 2200 miles to southern California.
2018 Option C
Hours in transit
Caleta de Campos
Cabeza Negra N
Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas 312
Cabo San Lucas 312
Turtle Bay 320
Baja Calif Ensenada 340
S.B. Channel Islands (SD +50) 310
SF Bay 333
This assumes that the winds and seas are favorable only 25% of the time. E.g. it requires 74 hours (3 days) from Manzanillo to Mazatlan, so I allocate at least 12 days to get there. Now, we understand that those 25% of times of favorable winds could take place in almost any combination. One day in four is the least likely, due to the nature of the synoptic weather pattern needed to disrupt the usual northwesterly winds. It’s more likely to be in chunks of 4 days out of 3 weeks or 6 days out of 5 weeks.
This means that I must have something I am not known for, patience. Even the word makes me cringe.
And even if I have a planned stop in XXX, as long as the winds stay nice, I need to keep moving north.
The intermediate places like Acapulco, etc. are possible stops if the weather turns unfavorable or whatever.
First goal is to get Dauntless to Baja California, preferably Cabo San Lucas or perhaps Ensenada, by mid-June. The fallback plan is to get at least to Mazatlán. I have a wedding in Salt Lake City June 23rd that I’d really want to attend, however getting Dauntless north safely has to be my primary goal.
Once there, I’ll leave Dauntless for the two months in summer.
I need to re-arrange my affairs a bit and see some friends, so I’ll travel to Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco and Texas.
I also need to scout some possible locations in California for Dauntless for the winter 2018-2019. Cost and security are the primary considerations. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me directly. I’d appreciate the input.
I’ll then return to Vietnam for two months. I’ve accepted the fact that Trinh will not have a visa for anyplace this coming summer, so I’ll be working on 2019.
Retuning in September, I’ll spend 6 weeks getting her (Dauntless, not Trinh) to her winter haven in California.
This plan offers me safety in that I like traveling a bit off shore (as opposed to near coastal) and making the 2500 nm trip into chunks of miles and time that are doable, even if I have to do some parts alone.
I’d prefer to have some crew/help, 2 people, a couple, would be ideal, 1 or 3 would be good.