Deutschland

Well my faith has been renewed in the human race or at least my decision making whichever is lessor.

Dauntless in Cuxhaven
Dauntless in Cuxhaven

We had an uneventful night passage from Lauwersoog in Friesland, the Netherlands to Cuxhaven Germany.

Unlike the English Channel, which really whipped my ass, the currents north of the Frisian Islands were as advertised; we got a good boost for about half the time. This allowed me to keep the rpm’s low, 1400 pretty much the entire way, and thus fuel consumption low.

With the help of the current we still averaged 6.0 knots, and that is in spite of the outgoing ebb coming up the Elbe, which kept our speed between 2.5 to 3.5 knots for last three hours.

Ivan and Bas had watches of 4 hours on, 4 off, and I pretty much dozed in the pilot house bench ready at a moment’s notice to further confuse any issue that came up with my groggy head.

When we left Lauwersoog Sunday morning, the winds we SW at 12 knots and pretty much stayed like that for our entire trip.  The day became grayer, as the clouds increased during the afternoon and evening, leaving us in that murky grey world.  Winds became southeasterly as a minor trough moved past us, and then stayed that way, so as we started up the Elbe estuary, the current was running with the winds, keeping the waves pretty flat.

Sunrise on the Elbe
Sunrise on the Elbe

Remembering the debacle that could have been in Oostende, Sunday afternoon, a few hours after departure, I looked hard at the numbers and realized that even with the helping current, our best ETA would be 03:00.  Being further north, and June, nautical twilight would be about that time, but still too O’dark thirty for me.  So we slowed even further, timing our arrival after sunrise.

Turned out a much more open, straight forward harbor than Oostende, but I was still pleased with the decision.

I am also getting excited about the Baltic.

Poor Dauntless looks like she has been through a battle, as she shows the battle damage of the over 30 locks and bridges we had to tie up to. Doesn’t sound like a lot compared to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), but what is different is that one must tie to something, as the wait times for bridges that “open on demand” vary greatly and the “open on demand” in the Netherlands means, if you are waiting in front of the bridge, they will see you and at that point put you on the priority list, but every train, bus, bicycle and pedestrian has a higher priority and probably a few planes also.  But the real issue in the waiting is the tieing up to all sorts of things at all sorts of heights and materials.

It was frustrating two days until Marinius, explained these facts of life to me during the European Krogen Rendezvous 2015.  What you didn’t hear about the rendezvous?  That story is still in the making.

Anyway, all this results in the poor D refuses to have any close-ups made.  So pictures shall have to be from a discreet distance. I shall have to find a real gel coat master at some point.  And please do not tell me how easy it is and that I should do it myself.  I once painted a set of chairs; at the divorce, my wife reminded me of the drips I left.  How was I to know I needed to thin the paint!

Last night, I finally decided to re-read the Baltic material I had collected from the Cruising Association meeting we had attended in London in February.  Having that information reduced the anxiety I was feeling about the Nord-Ostsee Kanal (Kiel Canal).

So tomorrow we leave, three hours before high tide, go to Brunsbuttel and wait.  They too have a priority order.  We are on the sub-order list.  Yes, Russian submarines even have a higher priority, but then the Germans will pretend they did not see them as they do not want to provoke them.

Back to the topic on hand.

I also realize that as different as many of these places are from the sea, I have spent so many hours driving around Western Europe and Germany and the Netherlands in particular, that I’m ready for new places, faces and cases.

If you wonder what a new case is, so do I, but I needed a word that rhymed.

Yes, that is my biggest worry right now!

How Big is Your Anchor?
How Big is Your Anchor?

 

 

Travelers & Just Say Yes

We are in Lemmer this morning.  A town on the Ijsselmeer in the beginning of Friesland, which has a really Dutch flavor.

Dauntless in Lemmer, Friesland on the Ijsselmeer
Dauntless in Lemmer, Friesland on the Ijsselmeer

We’ve decided to stay here two nights, and will even move the boat into the inner harbor.

I like showing our colors.  The liberalism of my youth was quickly extinguished once I moved to Europe and saw that Europeans, instead of feeling oppressed by the imperialistic Americans, were actually grateful for the security America provided.

My visits to Eastern Europe, just confirmed that and the fact that virtually all the eastern European countries are now in NATO, attests to that fact.

So, I’m proud to fly the Stars and Stripes.  I’m proud Dauntless came across the ocean on her own bottom and I’m happy that Julie and I like travelling so much.

Our first date was just that.  We took a bus ride from the bottom of Manhattan to the top and returned on a different bus.  An activity I had done countless times growing up in NY and now I had a partner to join me.

Lemmer Fisherman
Lemmer Fiskerman

Our first big trip, driving across the country in a Dodge Neon to Seattle, San Francisco and back took 6 weeks, 10,000 miles and billions of hours of conversation.  We had brought many hours of tapes with us and we ended up listening to only about a half dozen hours of them.

We do like talking.

Back to Italy in the 1970’s, when my Italian girlfriend accused me of being a gypsy, even though I do not think it was said as a compliment, it was hard to disagree.  The real Gypsies, Roma or Travelers, did not seem to live such a bad life to me.  Travelling around in their caravans (campers), pulled by older Mercedes didn’t seem any worse a life than what the rest of us were living.

Burt facts are facts and in the 40 years I have known her, the Italian ex-gf, she has lived in three places and I have lived in 30. So there is no denying the data.

This morning as I sat in the bakery enjoying my appelflap, an apple turnover, and my little coffee, I thought about this whole travelling thing.  The crux of it is that traveling is easy for us because we can accept uncertainty.

The person in the bakery was speaking Dutch to me, she asked me if I want the coffee for here and I said yes.  Then she said a word I did not understand, ‘berief” or “bericht,” or something like that.

I instinctively said, yes.

The coffee ended up coming in a littler cup than usual for the Dutch, but it was perfect.

Lemmer
Lemmer

And that is the lesson I first learned way back in the ‘70’s in Europe, when faced with questions and languages you do not understand, you must put yourself in the hands of the host.  Invariably hosts want to do the right thing and it will turn out well.

I’ve been with people who insist on knowing exactly what they will be doing, eating, etc.  The problem with that is that they then end up only eating, drinking and doing the things they are familiar with. What the point of that?

These types of interactions have characterized my life in the last 50 years.  I am instinctually trusting. By being trusting, it also gives one the opportunity to learn.  Oh trusting has hurt a few times, but never in this context.

So, I’m doing something I am good at, like doing, learning and is

Lemmer Streets, the Dutch like bricks
Lemmer Streets, the Dutch like bricks

interesting and challenging.

Life couldn’t be much better.

 

A Stressful Extraction

Our Gelderland experience is coming to the, we left Arnhem this morning to head north along the Ijssel river.

I’m still feeling a bit under the weather and am now thinking maybe it’s related to walking into the pole on Friday.  But we need not go there.

Docked at Watersport Centrum in Arnhem
Docked at Watersport Centrum in Arnhem

This morning, I paid Robert, the owner of Watersport Centrum Arnhem, and I explained to him how I wanted to get out of our tight space. By the way, it’s really not a Watersport Centrum, but it is a great boat yard, popular because they let you work on your own boat and a large, well-stocked marine store.

Tied to the dock on our port side, stern towards the exit, with about 50 feet, 15 meters to a large Hatteras docked on the opposite side, I decided to throw a line to someone on the Hatteras and have them pull the stern out.

At the same time, I had a bow line coming from the starboard bow cleat, around a midships cleat on the dock and back to the boat near the pilot house door. Ivan held this light taught, not letting the bow get very far from the dock.

Bas, the son of our Dutch friends, Margriet and Sierd, had joined Ivan and I yesterday.  He will be with us until the end of the month.  He will be with us for the Friesland part of our journey, made a bit more personal as that is where his father grew up.  The Fries language spoken in Friesland is also the closest relative to English.  An English speaker will recognize about half the words.

Bas was at the stern and kept me informed of how much space we had left.  As the boat became perpendicular to the dock, I then used the bow thruster to about 45° at which point could use the main engine with full left rudder to complete the U turn.

The closest we got to the Hatteras was 1.5 meters, a little less than 5 feet.

Bas and Ivan did an outstanding job and I’m sure we will have a great time together.

Unexpected Noise is Never Good

I am striving to post twice a week.  Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less, but at a minimum I like to have a post out by Saturday morning.  I didn’t make it this week, because I’ve been sick with the flu or something these past few days, having absolutely no energy to do anything.

It’s even one of the reasons we are still sitting in Arnhem today, Monday.

Dauntless in Arnhem
Dauntless in Arnhem

Nijmegen and Arnhem are special places for me.  My ex-wife Leonie is from Nijmegen and her sisters have lived in Arnhem the past 30 years, so it’s like coming home.

So in spite of my feeling not the best, it was great to have people over every evening for dinner, since Wednesday, to see the D, aka Dauntless.  Dauntless does appear to have gotten bigger in Europe, either that or all the docks and marinas are smaller.

So after entertaining the Vinks all weekend, I awoke this morning, with a goal to sit in my chair and do nothing.  Doing nothing is really hard for me.  That Corona ad, where the guy goes to the beach and sits with his beer watching the sunset, looks like torture to me.

So this morning, I figured, maybe I would sit in my chair in the salon and organize the two large bins I have of stuff that keeps growing, yet seems unclassifiable, so I can’t put it where it belongs.  Maybe I’ll just store it and let Leonie sort it when she and her husband Martin come out in August.

Dauntless in Nijmegen
Dauntless in Nijmegen

Speaking of Martin, Dauntless has three battery chargers.  A Heart Inverter/Charger, A Neumar True Charge and another one with a yellow case.

The Neumar is the only one that can take shore power here at 230 volts and charge the batteries.  Of course when I spent that week in Horta, we were hooked up to shore power and I tried to get it to work and for the life of me, it seemed dead.  Would not even work with the generator, the way it used to.  In the Azores, I was also delayed in fixing it in that I could not find that female plug that is ubiquitous in the US for computer power supplies.

I had removed the cover that says, so not remove under pain of death, and even checked the fuses and everything else I could find.  Neumar sent me the wiring diagram and offered to send another selector switch.  This while helpful, ended up misleading me.

Even after I came back from the US in the fall, I had a cable and plug, I had labeled it all, ground, neutral and load.  Blah, blah, blah.  NO luck.

But with the solar panels and not really needing much 12 v power form the batteries while at the dock, it got put to the back burner.

So finally yesterday, while I am burning our dinner on the bbq, Martin seemed fascinated with this Charger, so not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got him the electrical meter and found a plug we could use for the 230 system.

Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand
Locking with Willie carrying 1,000 tons of sand

He gets it all wired up again and plugs it in.  I said this is how far I got, but once plugged in, I never saw any power past the plug pins.  He plugs it in and within a minute it starts working!

Frankly, I was as flabbergasted as I was grateful.  One less thing to worry about.

B y the time I finished washing up, I was exhausted, so I got to bed early, feeling not so good, slept on and off until 09:30 and frankly did not feel that much better, thus the decision to do nothing.

So I’m looking at the Victron battery monitor and see a draw of 7 amps.  Other than a phone charger plugged into a cigarette lighter outlet, there is nothing else on.  I take the flashlight to check the charger, and sure enough, it is not working, but then I knew that, otherwise I would not have seen the negative 7 amps (yesterday when working it was putting 20 amps into the batteries).

The back of Willie
The back of Willie

I check the fuel levels to write in the log and then I hear it. A slight whine.  But I can’t place it. It’s not the fuel polisher, which is much nosier.

It seems to be coming from the rear section of the engine room, near the charger.

I open the salon deck panel and look down into the bilge and see a foot of water flowing rapidly, almost like a garden hose full open.

My initial panic, within seconds gives way to measured panic.  At least the bilge pump is just keeping up with it as in the little time I’ve been watching it, it has not gotten higher.  But this also explains why the batteries were down 220 amps this morning.  That poor little pump had been keeping us afloat all night.

Of course, this was one of the topics of conversation over the weekend.  I explained that while Waterford is a great place to leave the Krogen, once I’m gone for two weeks, I start getting antsy and must return within three weeks.  And I gave the example of a thru hull failure that lets a lot of water into the boat that the two pumps can keep up with only so long as there is battery power.  So even though I have friends in Waterford who keep an eye on Dauntless, they could go by every day and see nothing out of place, then all of a sudden, the batteries finally go flat and D sinks.

So all of this is going on in my mind in the first minute.

I see all this water rushing around, but where is it coming from?  I turn off the generator thru hull, because it’s right there and I figure I ran the generator for the first time since October last evening and this started last evening, so maybe they are related.

No change in flow.

Look under the engine, see nothing, but close the main engine thru hull. No change.

I look all over the engine room, the stuffing box had been my first guess, but just it’s steady drip, drip, drip.  I can’t figure out how the water is getting there. So I decide to take the chance and turn off the bilge pump and then I can see where it is coming from.

Turn it off, run over to the hatch look down and it’s the same amount of water, just sitting there sedately.  Not getting deeper; now just calm.

I turn on the pump, the whirlpool starts again, turn it off, it stops.

So, I don’t have a leak, this is the water that has come from the stuffing box in the last 12 hours (I do need to tighten it, I like a drip every minute, now it’s up to every second).

I pull the hose up to get the pump out and the hose comes up without the pump.  That explains that.

Two hours later, I’m sweating like a pig (it must be the flu, the boat is not even warm), but I put a new piece of hose on the pump with a new clamp.  The failure was caused by the old clamp disintegrating.

At 12:30 I am finally able to sit and do nothing.

So I end up spending the next three hours trying to get my wxx3 email with yahoo to work again. It just stopped working last week.

And an hour writing this, it’s 18:30, almost time for bed.’

Another day done just like that.

Oh by the way, remember I said that I initially had the charger problem in Horta last August?

It seems pretty obvious to be now that the reason the charger did not work was that the solar panels put out enough power, the charger would not be able to see the true state of batteries with the solar panels on.  Here in Arnhem yesterday, not only are we much further north, but it was also cloudy.

So I will sleep tonight knowing that I spent countless hours on that charger looking for complicated problems when the simple solution was right in front of me.  All I had to do was turn off the solar panels.

 

 

De Echte Bossche Bollen

If you understand that you can not die and go to heaven until you have had an echte Bossche Bol your life will be quite simple.

De Echte Bossche Bollen
De Echte Bossche Bollen

The following was written Thursday morning.

It’s 08:00, I’m tied to the wachtplaats, waiting dock, for the Henriette Sluis just on the north side of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  We have been here since yesterday at 18:00.  Turned out to be very convenient for some Dutch friends to come visit, as it is right next to the bicycle path, but then most things are in the Netherlands.

Yes, you think to yourself, he is a sly one, thinking we will not notice the use of “the Netherlands” instead of Holland, just because he is now not in the provinces of Zuid Holland or Holland.

Back to the De Echte Bossche Bollen.  So as I sit here, listen to the birds talking, (which they have been doing since 05:00) and savior the exquisite cream, chocolate and pastry of the Bossche Bol, I marvel that is was just last week that I was fighting winds, currents and local harbors in settings that were far from tranquil.

De Echte Bossche Bollen from the Jan de Groot bakery
De Echte Bossche Bollen from the Jan de Groot bakery

As has been said before, the most dangerous part of any ocean passage is entering and leaving port.  This is just my way of saying that if you ever find yourself in Oostende, maybe it’s best to pretend you don’t know me.

But Dauntless can slalom well, even if it’s between moving commercial boats.  And I’m sure their yelling at me was their way to congratulate me on such fancy driving.  Oh those cute Belgies.

Though I got into and out of Vlissingen without incident, a seemingly rare feat this summer so far, and Willemstad was an absolute marvel.  To be tied to a dock, really rafted to a Kadey Krogen 39, in a beautiful quint Dutch town, is a treat beyond words.  Restaurants, cafes, grocery and even a well-stocked marine store, within feet of the boat, make it all worthwhile.

The fact that this docking, with water and power costs only 2 Euros per meter or about $35, is even sweeter.  Docking in northern Europe, except for the U.K., is very reasonable.  For our KK42, the price usually ranges from 1 to 3 Euros per meter, that’s  $12 to $40.  And of course, the free places, which I covet, with only the rumble of the occasional passing barge, like this past night.

So, even at the worst case, if one was to pay $40 per night, every night for a month, that’s only $1200.

The Orange Windmill in Willemstad
The Orange Windmill in Willemstad

And $1200 is hundreds cheaper than our apartment in the Bronx, so one could envision, going from cute town to cute town forever and never seeing the Bronx again.

Our Night at the Waachtplatz
Our Night at the Wachtplaats

Don’t tell Julie.

Yes, it’s hard life, but someone has to do it.