Dauntless Gets a New Bottom Job

In October when we pulled her from the water, we found both old and new damage.

That long repair is the result of the second rock.
That long repair is the result of the second rock.

The new was from my second rock encounter in Finland.  In the first Finnish rock meeting, Dauntless rode up the rock on her keel.

But the second one was more egregious in that I hit the side of the rock with the side of the hull that left a four-foot scrape in the hull which was deep enough to cause a hairline crack all the way through the hull. Me Bad.

So in looking to repair that damage, we also

Her Starboard Side
Her Starboard Side

found some old damage that had been repaired, but not well or not completely.  How do I know?  Because in the three years I have owned her, whenever it rained, I had water entering the forward bilge.  In addition, the paint on the bulkhead that separates the forward bilge from the amidships, had peeled, since water was coming in behind it.

Both those issues have been repaired and even though Dauntless sat on the hard in the wind and rain all winter, only in the last days was she put into the shed for painting, the forward bilge has remained bone dry.

Dauntless in the Shed. The Shed looked much bigger before she went it.
Dauntless in the Shed. The Shed looked much bigger before she went it.

Now, the engine room bilge still has rain water getting in there, but I actually think that is as normal as one can expect in a 25-year-old boat.

I am also very pleased that everyone who has worked on the Krogen for the last 6 months has commented on the quality of: the workmanship, the design and the build.

I decided to paint the entire hull, since three years of docking was starting to show.  And the incentive of a new, different for a Kadey Krogen, paint job will make me both more careful and thoughtful.

In the next weeks, I will enumerate the other jobs we, I have done for this coming season.  That we have many, many miles to go, makes me feel even better about the preparation we are doing now.

The pictures show Dauntless outside when they had finished the bottom rehab, which meant repairing all the nicks and gouges, new fiberglass along the keel, gel-coat along the keel, then preparing the hull for two coats of epoxy and one of the tie-coat, which allows the anti-foul to adhere to the epoxy.

After two layers of Epoxy
After two layers of Epoxy
After two layers of epoxy, the beginning of the tiecoat (that allows the anti-foul coat to bond to the epoxy) is going on.
After two layers of epoxy, the beginning of the tiecoat (that allows the anti-foul coat to bond to the epoxy) is going on.
Gary applying the first layer of epoxy
Gary applying the first layer of epoxy
Keel got a new layer of gelcoat.
Keel got a new layer of gelcoat.

 

Trust

Fasten your seatbelt, we’re going for a ride with a few curves; fast ones.

Dauntless in the Boat Yard
Dauntless in the Boat Yard.

I went by Dauntless this morning, on yet another damp, grey Irish morning that is the reason grass grows on concrete here.  The work on the boat this past winter is being done at New Ross Boat Yard, just across the river from the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

Gary, the GRP (fiberglass) guy, has fixed the damage I have incurred the last three years, mostly dents and dings from too many docking maneuvers in which the fate of the western world must have hung in the balance, or at least I acted like it did.  Just ask anyone who has cruised with me.

My encounters with the rocks of Finland on the other hand had a more lasting impression.  The second rock in particular hit the side of the boat, not under the keel, like the first rock. By hitting the rock on the side of the hull, I almost sliced the hull open much like the Titanic.

The reason we did not have the same outcome says much about the difference between quality Kadey Krogen fiberglass design and construction versus English ship building 100 years ago that in their rush used rivets with too much slag in them, making them brittle.

So due to my inattention, Dauntless ended up with a four-foot-long gouge that did produce a hairline crack that went through the hull.  It was not until three months later, back in the river water of Waterford, that I realized it was river water in the forward bilge and not rain water, though at most it was about one bilge pump out a day, only about one inch of water and again, I have always had a somewhat wet forward bilge so I assumed it was just more rain.

But Gary also discovered a crack in the bulkhead that separates the forward bilge from the more rearward section where the water tanks are.  I had seen water dripping from that wall for quite a while, like at least two years.  In fact, the paint had peeled away from part of the bulkhead.  When I had returned to Dauntless in the beginning of December, Gary had showed me this bulkhead and explained it was not normal and in fact it was cracked, possibly done when I hit the rock last summer.  In any case, we came up with a plan for him to repair that damage also and now it’s all done.

Gary also suggested that the good construction of the boat allowed that bulkhead to absorb much of the force of the impact, thus leaving only a hairline crack in the hull and not a gaping hole, ala Titanic.

Now while Gary is doing his part, he will also be painting the upper hull, refinishing the bottom and putting a sealant in the port fuel tank.  Michael, Stephen and Denise of the New Ross Boat Yard are also doing their part.

They are cutting additional inspection ports in the port fuel tank to allow Gary to apply the sealant.  Besides blocking the boat and strapping her down so that the 100 knot winds that hit this area during the winter did not topple her over, they also are pulling my old holding tank which started leaking once again, so I am replacing it with a new Vetus plastic tank.  They will also finally remove the line from my bow thruster which made it in-op for most of my summer cruise, as well as apply a new commercial grade anti-fouling.

While working inside the boat, they have been very impressed with the workmanship of the KK.  Even mentioning the quality of the wall in the engine room that walls off the fuel tank: the battens behind the plywood that itself is covered by soundboard in the engine room.

Now while I have already paid Gary in full for his work, I don’t even have a quote from the Boat Yard.  Michael said he would give me a ballpark figure tomorrow, (ummm heard that before), but as I drove out of the parking lot, I had not worries.

None.

I reflected on why and it came down to Trust.

Now I do have an idea of the cost, but only based on what I think I know.  I have a “great” figure, the “probable” figure and an “OMG” figure in my head, but it comes down to me being at their mercy.

But then we are always at the mercy of professionals we depend on, from our doctor to the bus driver.

Some people try to learn everything the professionals know.  They die young, very young.  I like keeping my life simple. Oh I worry about a lot of things, reflect on virtually everything, but when it comes to people with more experience than I, either I trust them or I don’t.

And if I don’t, I don’t do business with them, don’t have them as friends and don’t date them.

There is no other way. Only lawyers think they can force someone do what they don’t want to do. But notice lawyers work for others, get paid my others to do what they do. But ultimately, a bureaucracy is result of mistrust, it tries to regulate and specify everything and simply does not work.

When people say that the handshake is the contract, they are saying what I am attempting to say. It’s about trust. No amount of words on paper can make someone do something the way it needs to be done, if they do not want to do it.

So, it’s about trust. Have I been burned by trusting the wrong person, or more like, the wrong bureaucracy? Of course, but all I can is move on.  I want to be healthy and happy as long as I can.

Trust is what got me across the Atlantic.  Trust in my crewmate and even more importantly, trust in the boat. Knowing that this Krogen was designed and made for far worse conditions that I will ever see.  Without trusting your boat, it’s hard to go anyplace where the water is deeper than 5 feet.

So, cinch that seatbelt now, as thinking of the above I had another realization.

Hurtful at that.

I once went on a much anticipated trip with a woman I really liked to a foreign land.  She spoke the language, was native in it in fact, so it was a natural to let her take the lead and do the talking.

Within minutes of arrival, it was clear to me that this woman did not trust anyone. Maybe not even me.  But her obvious lack of trust of everyone around her, quickly produced so much stress for all concerned that the trip and our fledgling relationship were soon done.

I still have regrets about that, even though the last 12 years of my life have been probably the best years I have ever had.

So why the regrets?  Because I let this person down.  Someone I clearly really cared about, I was too slow to see what she needed from me: my confidence, my control of events, my telling her “don’t worry honey, I’ll take care of it”.

That’s probably all it would have taken.  It’s what I do 90% of the time, the only reason it had not happened that time was because of her language skills.  But I have been in many situations where neither of us speak anything and I have always found a way to get by and have a great time doing it.

I don’t like letting anyone down. Friends, colleagues, people I worked for & who worked for me, strangers, doesn’t matter. Never ever.

So while I focused on her lack of trust, I was blind that she had put her trust in me and I had let her down, horribly.

Horrible – a word used a lot in Brooklyn.

 

Baltic Recap

C 20150716_203428 (2)
The Krogen along the wall in Gdansk. The marina is on the right. But our price was right!

I’ve written about many aspects of the Dauntless’ Summer Cruise 2015, the good, the bad and certainly the ugly.  How ugly I’ll find out next week.  But now, I thought I would share a few more mundane issues that I think will be of interest.

Let me say up front, that if you have any questions or comments you would like to share privately, please email me.  My contact information is somewhere in WordPress.

A few interesting tidbits. No, not Tim Horton’s Timbits, (Sorry New Yorkers, even if you have visited one of the Tim Horton’s in NYC, it is Tim Horton’s in name only. The version sold in New York is owned and made by the same person who owns the Dunkin Donuts franchise in NYC.  Needless to say, the only thing they have in common is the name).

 

Type of Overnight Days of Trip Percent Cost
All 128 100% $ 2,562
Marina 59 46% $28.15 / night
Dock or wall 32 25%
Anchored 17 13%
Tied to land, with stern anchor 8 6%
Dock in Canal (Scotland) 5 4%
Underway overnight 7 5%

 

I merged the two categories of marinas and docks because I was a bit arbitrary during the course of the summer.  Generally a marina means a marina as we know it with amenities like:   an office, a secured dock (but not always), showers, laundry, etc.

Dock or wall is just that, a dock that is floating or a wall .  Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t.  In general the prices were cheaper since they had little or no amenities.

But again the line between the two types, dock or marina is not that large.  A good portion of the marinas had no security; while some cheap docks did.  The last dock we stopped at, Arklow in Ireland, was free, and within 30 minutes, two different guys (fishermen) came by to tell us the security code of the gate.

Since we are talking bout security, maybe in the first weeks, I felt a bit apprehensive with the no security, but I’ve been in Europe enough that after I bit I did not even notice.  Much of the Netherlands was like that.  The river, canal wound through the center of town, there were bollards placed in which to tie.  You then found the nearby post, the same as one uses to pay for car parking. You paid your 12 Euros and placed the sticker on your boat. This included electricity that I usually did not bother with.

The far west and far east has the most expensive marinas.  The Channel Islands and the first stops in France were $50 per night for a 12 meter boat, as was Tallinn.  Helsinki took the prize for the most expensive marina at $60.

The rest of Scandinavia was really good.  Stockholm was only $35 and while Copenhagen was more at $45, the small towns I stopped in Norway ranged from $15 to zero.

In the middle, Germany, Poland, Latvia were all great places to visit and inexpensive; in all three of those countries marinas cost about $25.

Poland and Latvia turned out to be our favorite places.  In Gdansk, Poland, were right downtown and our Krogen must have been featured in a thousand pictures.  We were on a wall right next to the marina. The wall was free, in fact, the second day, the Bosman, the person in charge of the marina, came by to ask us if we needed electricity, telling him no, he said were welcome to stay on the wall since it was free.  I was happy.

The Poles love Americans.  Like virtually the entire trip, so many people in seeing the stars and stripes came by to say hello and hear our story: “yes, we took it across the ocean on our own, yes, we are from New York, No, it is not a Grand Banks, it’s a Kadey Krogen”

It was also in Gdansk that I met a couple from Stockholm on their catamaran.  Like virtually everyone we met on the water, they were so helpful.  They also gave me good advice about Navionics charts in that “Europe HD” was detailed enough to use and there was now no need for paper charts.

And all that for $87.

I always run with two different navigation charts, since last year, Navionics and Jepp’s C-Map.  I like the color rendition a bit more on the Navionics, but I must admit that I have not seen any significant difference between the two in Europe.

Speaking of navigation, I found it easier than the ICW, in that it is not critical to know whether the channel is going to or coming from the ocean. Instead, in the skärgärd they will declare “pass red on the left or green on the right” or vice versa.  Now in that situation, it is different in that once there was a red of the left and a green on the right of the channel meaning I could NOT go in between where the rock was.

In Riga, I was doing something in the engine room when I felt someone get on the boat. Thinking it was my friends, I kept working; but not hearing their voices, I came up to see this couple having their wedding pictures being taken on the fore deck.

Cute.  Latvians loved us too.

All in all, we averaged $28 per stay for the 90 odd days we stopped. Not bad considering a hotel room in many of those cities would have cost 10 times more.

Now you do not have to pay for fuel for that hotel room, but even with fuel, the daily cost is only $76 and with fuel at today’s price it Ireland, that daily average would have been $7 cheaper at $69 per marina.

And it’s sure nice seeing the wonders of the world pass by your living room window.

 

 

The Crater

So, on day three of the cruise through the Finnish hinterland, we had come up with a slightly revised plan.

Leonie and Martin needed to take the train to the airport from either Stockholm or Kalmar, the latter being two hours closer, by train!.  The problem is that two hours on the train is two DAYS on Dauntless.

Dauntless makes her way out of the crater
Dauntless makes her way out of the crater

It would be five days of hard cruising to get to Kalmar and we would have virtually no time in Stockholm.

Now, having ended up spending more than 7 days in Helsinki; I did not want to give Stockholm, the short shrift. I grew up near the Swedish-America line. My second grade teacher was on the Stockholm when it sliced the Andre Doria in half.  Stockholm is in my roots more than Helsinki.

And lastly, this may be the last opportunity to spend any length of time in Sweden, even if only two weeks, therefore we modified the plan.

We would continue west northwest, over the top of Aland Island, and thus take a leisurely route to Stockholm.

So in planning today’s route through the billion islands of the XXX, I noticed our chart warned of a magnetic anomaly.  Nothing to worry about, the three boat compasses never seem to agree, anomaly or not.

But then in the pattern of islands, I noticed was clearly an impact crater, 2.5 miles in diameter, near Angskärs Fjärden.  The magnetic anomaly is caused by the iron core of the meteorite.

So today, we are heading for the crater.  I’ve never driven a boat in a crater before.

Leonie and Martin on Rock Patrol
Leonie and Martin on Rock Patrol

Well, the crater was interesting.  The little town was thought may have a dock, may have had a dock a hundred years ago, but all the kids have left town.

A dozen red painted warehouses, boat ports, and no people.

Almost like those ghost towns of Southeast Alaska.

So, we beat a slow retreat and a few hours later, we were anchored on the north side of a big rock. Well, we thought it was an island on the charts, but alas, it was a big rock island.

A Rock Island One of many, many, many...
A Big Rock
One of many, many, many…
Leonie and Martin admire the new ladder
Leonie and Martin admire the new ladder

Figuring that we would have plenty of opportunity to anchor, visit beautiful, pine treed islands, I convinced Leonie and Martin that this was once in a lifetime opportunity.

OK, a bit of a stretch, but an hour later, after having moved the stern anchor twice, we finally pulled it up totally and dropped 300 feet of chain on the hard rock bottom, figuring if nothing else, the weight of the chain would hold us in place.

So far it has.

And it did.

The next morning, we awoke to a 5 knot easterly wind and Dauntless was facing the east.  Hauled anchor and there was some seaweed, but no mud.

In particular on anchor, I wake up about every two hours.  This past night was no exception, so I decided to take advantage of the end of summer light.  Just in the last week have we experienced dark nights, albeit for only short periods?  As we near the equinox, the nights will not only get longer, but also darker.

Last night, in the clear air of the Gulf of Bothia, it was a marvel to see all those stars.  The Milky Way was quite evident.

So many stars, so little time.

Ground(ing)hog Day II

Sans Bill Murray.

Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless
Another Beautiful Sunset Over Finland and Dauntless

The evening of the [first] grounding, Julie and I, along with our NYC friends, Karen and Jason, were joined by our English sailing buddies, John and Jenny on S/V Shaka.

We celebrated our second successful tie to shore with a stern anchor with a bottle of Prosecco followed by a tasty dinner of roast pork shoulder, onions and red peppers all grilled on the Weber Q280, washed down by at more Prosecco and some Cotes du Rhone.

Good food, good company, good wine; no one can ask for more of life.

What the Chart Looks like
What the Chart Looks like

So I felt far better about the day’s fiasco and remembering my new life’s motto, All’s Well that Ends Well.

That’s what crossing the Atlantic has done for me; my sense of perspective was totally recalibrated, e.g. crossing the street, get run over by a bus, first thought, well, at least it didn’t happen while crossing the Atlantic!

Next day, we awoke to another beautiful day.  Blue skies, westerly winds, which were calm in our protected cove.  I had never slept so well on “anchor”.

Tied to an Island
Tied to an Island

The day’s plan was to move about 10 to 15 miles further east towards Helsinki, as we needed to return to Helsinki the next evening as Jason and Karen had a plane to catch to attend a wedding in NY in two days.

The challenge in Finland is finding a sheltered (from the wind) spot that is not in front of someone’s house, or even visible from said house.  In fact, they are a bit particular about that and in just a few days’ time, we would learn just how particular. But that drama is for a different day.

The challenge is to motor relatively slowly around islands that are everywhere, to find a sheltered cove, that we can safely motor up to, get someone on land to put a line around a tree and then deploy the stern anchor.  All the while also watching for houses, flag poles, stern buoys, docks and other signs of human habitation that must be avoided.

Not an easy task.

Our Stern Anchor
Our Stern Anchor

So as we enter a wide channel between a few islands, maybe a third of a mile apart, we spot some locals sunning themselves on the rocks.  What better way to find a place than to ask them for suggestions!

Another stupid idea that will cost me $$$, but how much is still to be determined.

So, once again, I am driving the boat, as we yell over to these Finns, hoping someone can not only speak English, but can give us a suggestion as to where we can go and not intrude on anyone’s space.

It didn’t seem we ever got an answer that we could understand, though I do remember they pointed out a rock to be avoided, about 200 feet off the end of their island and 200 feet in front and to the left of our heading.

No problem I say, I see it clearly marked on our charts.  I’m certainly not going to run over the little “+” that denotes a rock this time.

And I don’t!  But alas, it turns out I didn’t have to actually hit the “+”, but like tossing horseshoes, close also counts.

I’m turning the boat in a lazy 180° aiming along the route we had just come in on, I aim right of the rock going again about 3 knots. But not far enough to the right.

The wind is strong, 25 knots on our starboard quarter, about 120° relative to the boat, and when I look at the chart seconds later, I see that we are getting close to that rock and shallow area just off our port side.

I steer the boat more to the right, but not in that imminent danger mode, in which I push whoever is at the helm out of the way, and spin the wheel faster than the wheel of fortune; no this was more like, umm, that rock is getting close Jeeves, maybe we should wander a bit more the other way.

So in no haste apparent haste, just as the boat turns, we feel the now too familiar thumps announcing we have struck land once again.  Dauntless rises out of the water, but not like Moby Dick this time, more like a humpback whale, as we rise, but then slide off to the right.

Again stopping within 20 feet, tilted to the right, but still on the rock enough that I cannot extradite ourselves with a little reverse engine.

It’s a large rock.

Very large, maybe two to four feet below the surface, but at least a hundred feet long in the shape of a banana.  The “+” on the chart denoted, the highest point!, but not the full extent.

All my fault in any case.  I still got too close for no real reason and was again too sloppy in my helmsmenship.

Another lesson learned the only way one does seem to learn; the hard way.  But then as a teacher, having firmly believed that no learning is done unless work, sometimes hard work, is involved, I take my medicine that I so liberally dished out to others.

And I can only smile at that irony, but it’s really not ironic, it’s simply a fact of learning.

So again, we got about half way along the keel before stopping, tilted at an angle to the right, bow up.

Within seconds, literally seconds, a Finn and his son appeared in a little skiff, asking if we needed help to get off.  I had already put Dauntless in reverse, but just for a moment, and seeing no real movement, I did not try very hard, and stopped.

Since s/v Shaka was right behind me,  I figured why run the motor and prop hard so close to rocks, when they can pull me off.

But the Finn really wanted to help, he volunteered to go get his big skiff, with 150 horsepower engine, but I told him Shaka was right there and we would try with that at first.

He helped my talking the line from our boat to Shaka.  While that was taking place, I looked around and it was clear that the deep water was off our starboard stern quarter.

I asked Shaka to pull us in that direction and within seconds of him pulling, we were off.

I know there are now more scrapes and gouges, that will have to be attended to sooner, October, rather than later, the spring, but no visible damage and no holes or issues with the prop or shaft.  If I get the opportunity to pull the boat sooner, I will probably do that, just to make sure and develop a plan for the winter.

But let me tell you, while I felt lucky, as I had the day before, I hated the idea that I had used all of my lucky charms in two days, with another 50 days to go in waters just as treacherous.

Like the guy who speeds through the red light, once, twice, three times, sooner or later, he’ll get creamed; and on this trip I had already sped through too many red lights.

Well the friendly Finn suggested a place for us and I asked him to guide us.

He brought us a cove about ½ mile away (maybe the same place the sunning Finns had been pointing to?), but we decided it was too windy and I was frankly afraid to approach the shore (rocks) within 100 feet to see if the wind would die down as we got closer to shore.

So, he brought us to another cove, on the SE side of a rather large island.  There was an old stern buoy there, but he told us, while the island was privately owned, (as most of them are in Finland), he had not seen anyone use this mooring for years.  But no house was visible, so he was sure it would be OK.

It was a very nice spot:  no house in sight, the winds were calm in this sheltered location and we could motor slowly to the rocks on shore.  We decided to stay.

The procedure at this point, what with my extensive stern anchoring experience (at one and counting), consisted of checking out the spot by motoring, drifting really, to nose up to shore and if the nose of the boat can get to shore with enough depth under the rest of the boat, all is good.

Next step is to back up. Make a “U” turn to return to a spot about  150 feet from shore.  With the boat facing shore again and along the exact track we had just taken in to shore, we drop the stern anchor and slowly motor up the shore/rock again, letting out the rode as we go.

Then some intrepid soul, jumps onto shore or if too high, we use the kayak to get to shore to bring a line around a tree and return it to the boat so we may leave in haste if need be, without having to go ashore again.

Our ground tackle consists of a 100 foot ¼” line, a strap to protect the tree, my 40 pound Bruce with 10 feet of chain and 250 of nylon rode.

So far in the half dozen times we have done this, being so close to land, there is almost no force on the boat to push it away from land. So the bow line’s main purpose is just to hold the bow at a particular position.

Now, having the bow secure, the rode on the stern anchor is taken in just a bit.  Enough to hold the bow literally inches away from the rock in front of it.  This will preclude knocking, albeit quietly and slowly, against the rock all night keeping yours truly awake.  (Or until I get up, and pull in the stern anchor rode to put tension in it, dressed only in my birthday suit).  But that’s only happened once so far.

Our stern anchor is my old 40 lb. Bruce with the bent neck with 10 ft. of chain and 250’ of nylon rode that is really stretchy.  This was my third anchor rode set that had been stored in the lazerette.

Looking at all the fancy stern rigs boats in Europe have, I decided to actually use what I had for a season before spending (wasting) any more money.

I just unhooked the Bruce from the bow rode (50 ft. chain and 250’ line, got the old rode out of the lazerette and bough a plastic hose reel in Ireland.

Voila, done.

The anchor sits on the swim platform, its neck between the slats of the platform, the ten feet of chain in a plastic box also on the swim platform, with the rode running thru the stern hawse pipe to the line on the hose real.

Again, we had a great dinner.  Salmon I think.  I do love our Weber. Washed down by plenty of wine.  And then our German sailing buddies, Andres and Annette, found us. The evening ended with more empty bottles than I thought existed on the boat.

After recounting my tale of woe, we followed him out the following morning, late morning, as the evening before the four men, two Americans, one German, one English, partied like is was 1999.

This was such a nice spot, we returned to it a few days later after having been to Helsinki again to change out crew. Dana and Peter, also from NY now joined us for Julie’s last few days in Finland.

But this time, within a few hours of arriving, two women in a little skiff came by and asked us to leave since their brother was coming with his boat sometime that afternoon and evening.

So we pulled lines and anchors and decided to try to spot the helpful Finn had suggested a few days earlier.

Since we were now a single boat, both our sailing buddies had to press on west towards home, the spot was good for just one boat.

It turned out to be a wonderful spot.  Quiet, with a larger view to the north.  In fact, the spot we had moved from to make room for the brother was only a half mile away and clearly visible.

So another great day that ended well, well, almost well. The brother never showed up.

We were worried that something may have happened to him!

 

 

 

 

Spanked in Finland

60° North; 24° East, probably as far east as we will get in Europe this year.

Our first night in Finland
Our first night in Finland, bow to shore.

Since leaving Latvia, Estonia and Finland have been interesting.  Later this summer I will have to have a Baltic Sea recap, but for now, just a little saga that we have probably all heard before.

We got beat up a bit going between Tallinn and Finland, but what else is new.  Maybe we should have named Dauntless, “Windfinder”, because she certainly does that well.  The Dog Days of summer, high pressure, hot and windless; not.

We have the Cat Days, high pressure, but not so hot and always windy, 12 to 18 knots.  Why “Cat Days”?  Have you ever held a cat too long? How do you know it’s too long?  One second they are purring contently in your arms; then the stealthy too long switch clicks on, the nails come out and they use your body to spring away, faster than you can say, “kitty, why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to me put down?”

The Wind is Always Blowing
The Wind is Always Blowing

So why Cat Days, because you get up, go outside to marvel at the beautiful sky, just some wispy cirrus at 30,000 feet, not too cool, not too warm, you think it will be a perfect day for being on the water.

As you get underway, it is perfect.  You have managed to get out of your tight dock space without hitting anything, you call Port Control asking for permission to leave (mandatory in all eastern European ports so far) and they respond in accented English, yes we may, with a tone that says:  thanks for asking and knowing our rules, have a nice day.  A feeling of satisfaction comes over you.

It’s mid-morning, you want to make 40 miles, and winds are less than 10 knots, with little 1 foot waves.  The Kadey Krogen is slicing thru the water with that reassuring hiss that tells you all is well and this is child’s play.

Sunset in Finland
Sunset in Finland
The Cat Building of Riga
Speaking of Cats; The Cat Building of Riga

An hour or two later, not quite halfway, you’re feeling a bit off; not queasy, just not right.  You realize the winds are up to 15 knots, the seas have now built to 3 feet and you’ve lost a knot of speed as the combination of wind and waves slows the boat.

Paravanes out to reduce the roll, immediately, the roll is reduced 50 to 90% depending upon wind direction (less for a following sea, more for a sea on the beam).

Now you look at the speed and see that your speed is further reduced, the birds on the paravanes reduce our speed by 0.6 knots.

Umm, our 6 hour trip has become an 8 hour trip.  I contemplate increasing power to make up for the loss, but it just kills me to burn 50% more fuel to go an extra knot faster.

8 hours it is.

Today, since Tallinn, we are travelling with our new found sailboat friends, John and Jenny.  It’s nice to have thinking partners in new waters like this.  But they stay safely behind us.  What do they know that we don’t?

By early evening, our first time in Finland, we found a sheltered spot with no houses in sight, one of the criteria for anchoring in Finland.  The problem is, there are billions of islands and many times, it is unclear if there are any houses until the last moment, which means we must then turn around and keep looking.

The cove we find is OK, but we decide to try to find a more sheltered cove for the next day.

We use a stern anchor with 150 ft. of rode out.  I then slowly motor up to the cove, until our bow just barely kisses the rocks.  Some intrepid person must then jump on to the rock or land, and we take a line to a tree and return it to the boat, so that we do not have to get on land again when we depart.

So the next day, our first full day in Finland, we are scoping out a place to stop with simple criteria in mind: a house should not be in sight, especially an occupied house and it has to be on a lee shore.

Since there are millions of islands, there is a lot of choice, clearly too much choice for some simple folk like Julie and I.

Mid-afternoon, we are slowly motoring, looking for a place for the night, I see on both my Navionics and C-Map charts the cross signifying a rock dead ahead, about a half mile ahead, 2 minutes at 4 knots.

I’m steering and I say to Julie, we must watch out for that rock.

Julie sees that point I am talking about and acknowledges it.

We both promptly then forget about it, as we go back to trying to figure out where we can stop.

Until two minutes later, with a large bump, dauntless’ bow rises out of the water like Moby Dick.

We had been going slowly because there are so many obstacles, so dauntless stops as soon as I put her in neutral in about 20 feet, with the weight of the boat on the keel on the rock.

I put her in reverse and we slide right off.  I spend the next hour trying to feel any change of vibrations and berating myself for seeing a rock, plainly and correctly marked on the chart and then hitting said rock.  No vibration, no holes in the boat.  Could have been worse. Far worse.

Julie summed it up best:  Richard Sees the Rock; Julie Sees the Rock; We Talk About the Rock; We Hit the Rock.

My first mistake, was that I could have altered course a bit, but instead I tell Julie, make sure I don’t hit that rock.

My second mistake was to then totally forget about the rock.

In hindsight, knowing we were in rocky waters, I was going just above idle speed, about 4 knots, maybe a bit less.

This enabled me to get the boat stopped quickly, so I did not run over the rudder or propeller.

That was about the only thing I did correctly.

When I first saw the rock, I should have altered course so that in the “unlikely” event that I somehow forgot about it, I would not be heading directly for it.

So an hour later, as we had our dinner, we celebrated another day that ended well.

And I vowed to never do that again.

But as Sean Connery learned, never say never.

And my “never” didn’t even last 24 hours!

Dauntless Cruise Plan – Baltic 2015

Well folks, as we get closer and closer to summer, the moss in growing under my feet, so it’s getting time to move on.  As initially planned a few years ago, this summer will be spent in the Baltic.  The attached picture shows the tentative route from our departure from Waterford in late May to our return in early October.

Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan
Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan

As planned, this voyage will be about 4100 nm with 72 legs spread over 130 days.  A bit ambitious, but that’s us.   While some of the major stops:  Holland, last two weeks in June; East Germany, 4 July; Gdansk, 18 July;  Riga, 24 July; Tallinn, 30 July & 15 Aug; Helsinki, 6 Aug; are hard wired in, pretty much everything in between is open and will be determined based on weather, seas and moods.

Our usual mode of travel is about 6.5 knots, consuming 1.5 gal/hr. or 4.2nm/gal (2 liters/km) so the total cruise will need about 1000 gallons, 4000 liters, of fuel.  So will need to pick up about 300 gallons along the way, to get back to the UK, Ireland with near empty tanks.

Normally we like cruising one day, then stopping at the same place for two nights.  By cruising every other day, it keeps the batteries up and in hot water for about half that time.  I am in the process of putting the water heater and washer on the Inverter circuit.  Thus we’ll have hot water on the non-motoring days.

For charts, I am using the Jepp C-Map charts running on Coastal Explorer, plus Navionics on my tablet and smart phone.  I looking for some large scale paper charts to facilitate the long range planning.

Though we will have cell phone coverage most places, I will have our Delorme InReach running and on Dauntless 24/7 to keep a running track of our trip.  I will also attempt to take better pictures, videos and document the trip better.

I really appreciate the postings of Dockhead and Carstenb on Cruisers Forum.  Their information and enthusiasm about the Baltic have been contagious.

As always, I’m open to suggestions, but keep in mind that some places are locked and loaded and that no trip is ever perfect.

If anyone knows the price of fuel at the Brusnichnoye Lock on the Saimaa Canal, I’d love that information, but I won’t need to know it until the very end of July.  That far eastern jaunt will probably be eliminated in any case, unless fuel is 33 cents a liter, as I do need to cut down some miles.