As of Tuesday evening, we are planning to try to get to Magdalena Bay, 130nm, tomorrow. Our third try in the last 9 days.
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.
As I sit in my 10th floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City, a.k.a. Saigon, the People’s Republic of Vietnam this balmy January 2018, writing these words, I think back one year. I was in Martinique, in the Lessor Antilles, luxuriating in having just completed a harder than expected crossing of the Atlantic from North Africa to North America.
Vietnam wasn’t even on the radar and if it was, I thought it was a wave top. Impossible it imagines how different 2017 would end up.
So, how can a person who doesn’t have a clue as to where they will be in 12 months’ time write about planning?
And not only write about, but spend a good portion of every day’s waking hours thinking about The Plan? So much so that just a while ago, I found myself looking at the noonsite.com information about Taiwan.
Taiwan? wtf, he still hasn’t figured out how to get Dauntless out of Mexico, you’re thinking.
And right you are. So, I thought you would be interested in knowing or better understanding my planning process.
To understand my planning process, let’s look at my goal and some background information:
Long term, cross the North Pacific, return to Northern Europe & complete my circumnavigation.
Short term, spend a couple of summers in Southeast Alaska.
Near term, get Dauntless to California before next winter.
Dauntless is now in the wonderful little town of Huatulco, Mexico, in the little Bahia Chahue.
In 2016, once I made the decision to return to North America, I made an elaborate plan (published in some blog post last year) to transit the Panama Canal and cruise up the west coast of North America to SE Alaska.
Looking aback at the plan now, I stayed pretty much on time and on target, only transiting the Panama Canal a couple weeks later than originally planned, until Costa Rica.
Arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica in March 2017, the wheels then came off or a more apt description, I was beached.
What happened? A perfect storm of: local bureaucracy, my nephew who cruised with me since Ireland, had to go back to school and I met this wonderful woman in faraway Vietnam.
Returning to Dauntless in June, I needed to get moving north. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that I had visited in 2004 and had really looked forward to returning. But, it turns out, it is not really cruiser friendly. The few marinas are ridiculously expensive and the paperwork of checking in and out was cumbersome and confusing.
My newfound friend, Cliff joined me and we took Dauntless from Costa Rica to Mexico. Mexico, it turns out is everything Coast Rica isn’t. Cliff had to go back to work and hurricane season had arrived, so in reaching the wonderful town of Huatulco in August, I decided that enough was enough.
The Task at Hand is to get Dauntless from southern Mexico to California, 1800 miles.
Dauntless cruises at about 6.5 to 6.8 knots. thus a 24-hr. period is 150 nm. That’s the figure I use for planning. With light winds and small seas, then the planning exercise is about planning stops after a day of cruising.
Two years ago, in the Baltic Cruise, I largely ignored the weather and planned the whole 4,000-mile trip based on cruising days of 5 to 8 hours. Usually we would stay a few days in each town or city stop. But the pacific coast of North America is a whole different creature.
Climatology tells me that the winds are predominantly from the northwest (the direct I must go) 2/3’s to ¾’s of the time. I use Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas which has pilot charts for each ocean by month. Jimmy Cornell’s Pilot Charts also tell me the secondary wind direction and currents. June thru September is 4 months, 120 days. I figure that I will have favorable winds about ¼ of those days, or 30 days. I have 1800 nm to go divided by 30 days means 60 miles per day. No bad, about what I did in the Baltic in September.
But it also means that when the winds are favorable, I must make miles. The reality of seasonal climatology is best looked at and planned for over periods longer than a few weeks. In this situation, I can easily be stuck in port 30 days waiting for the winds. Then if I’m lucky, I’ll have a good period, 5 to 10 days of southerly winds. Depending upon where we are along the coast, it means we may do 48, 72 or even 96 hours to take advantage of our good weather window.
Now in this context, when I say “weather” I really mean winds and seas. I’ve left port on many stormy days. Rain, showers do not bother me, it’s really all about the winds and seas for my little Kadey Krogen.
The effect of head winds and seas vary greatly. 5 to 7 knots are hardly noticeable and may produce small seas, less than 2 feet. Dauntless will lose a few tenths of a knot under such conditions.
As winds off the bow become stronger, it all goes down rapidly from there. 12 to 15 knots produce 3 to 5 ft. seas, pitching become unpleasant and we’ll lose more than a knot of speed. 18 + knots are untenable from a comfort level. Too much hobby horsing and probably down to 5 knots, less with any counter current. This is what happened to me off the French coast going up the English Channel to Holland. We were making 2 to 3 knots in pure misery of pitching. Because of the conditions, I finally decided to abort to Ostend, Belgium. It took another 6 hours to go 15 miles. Some of the worst 6 hours I have ever experienced. The Kadey Krogen was fine, she takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The humans inside were not as happy.
What I took out of that beating was to more carefully consider winds and seas on the bow. A 20-knot wind from the stern is fine. We had 20 days of that crossing the Atlantic last year. Even 20 knots (and resultant seas) on the beam are ok. The paravanes are most effective with beam seas. Though I tend not to venture out in such seas if I am in port. 20 knot headwinds are untenable. Stay in port. If at sea, options are reduced, but probably a change in direction is warranted.
I use Windyty.com for my forecast winds. I tend not to look at forecast seas because the accuracy is seldom good enough to use in an effective manner. Though Windyty will give you the first, second and third swells.
Now when it comes to forecast winds, for whatever reason, the forecast winds are almost always understated, though I do realize it’s possible that I only notice the over and not the under. Thus, when winds are forecast to be 12 knots, that usually means 8 to 15 knots. If 8, ok, if 15 it’s a no go. So, in this case, I will use 8 knots for the Go-No Go decision.
From Huatulco to the Channel Islands, it’s only 1800 nm in three long legs. that’s basically the distance I did between Martinique and the Panama Canal. But with much more un-favorable winds and currents.
Top speed for Dauntless is about 8.5 knots, but it’s non-factor because it’s impossible to justify the double to treble fuel consumption for 2 knots. So, my effective (long term) hurry up speed is 7.5 knots at 1800 rpms and 2 gallons/hour. Thus, I usually keep it to 1700 rpms, 6.8 to 7.0 knots and 1.6 gal/hr.
In my next post, Planning is the Mother of Anticipation, I’ll discuss the Mexican coast, what options we’ll have, crew and hurricanes.
Most galleries are in chronological order. The date time group is also embedded in the file name. Please forgive all the redundancy. It’s always easier to take too many pictures than not enough, though it makes sorting after the fact a real PIA.
Also, should you see anything and have a specific question, please feel free to email me.
Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017
Richard on Dauntless
Dauntless’ Second Atlantic Passage
Four Legs from Europe to the Caribbean
Leg 1 Rota Spain to Rabat, Morocco, via Gibraltar to fuel up
50 hours total
Leg 2 Rabat Morocco to Las Palmas, the Canaries (unexpected stop)
4 days, 1 hr., 35 min
Avg speed 6.1 knots
Leg 3 Las Palmas to Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries, Fuel top-up
31 hours and 45 min
The last & biggest leg, the only one that mattered, the Canaries to Martinique
460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
The “Oh, BTW, you still have 2000 miles to go” leg, Martinique to Panama Canal and Mexico
460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
Same strong easterly trade winds; same large, mixed seas
Avg roll +13°/-09° ext 22°/-10°
Overall Winds & Seas
Conditions are Very Different than the North Atlantic
Trade winds prevent turning back
Constant wind speeds of 20 to 35 knots
Direction varied over 90° from NE to SE
3 wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
NE & SE wave sets, smaller, longer period
wave heights predominate 10 to 15 feet at 8 seconds
3 different wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
First week very disconcerting to have stern fall to stbd so suddenly every periodically
Since leaving North Africa, until the Panama Canal, more than 5,000 nm and more than 60 days underway, all but two of those days required the paravane stabilizers.
Entering the Pacific and turning northwest from Panama City, in the first four days we had no need of stabilization. They call it the Pacific for a reason.
Crises In the mid-Atlantic
What I did
What I now think I should have done (hint: Much Ado About Nothing)
Hydraulic Hose for Rudder failure
I was screwing around
What I did
First fix did not work
Spares, spares and more spares (but not the right fitting)
What I now think I should have done
Overall Summary of My Second Atlantic Passage
Considerably harder than I had expected
I’m still organizing the data, but the big take-away, is that the fuel consumption for the last two years has been about 1.5 gal/ hr. or a little above 4nm/gal
Average cost has run between $75 to $133 per day when I’m on the boat. Even during the most recent passage, cost was $104 per day, with fuel being $80 a day.
It made me envious; I know, that’s ridiculous, but still.
Dauntless spent two and a half years in Northern Europe because I knew we would like it. The weather, the people, the cultures all, the food, fit my number one criteria of staying off the beaten track and living well as I did so.
That was expected. All the lands of coastal Northern Europe have a real seafaring culture. Every boat waves at you, especially fisherman. From Galicia in northwest Spain to the far eastern Baltic, it was a wonderful experience with minimal bureaucracy.
In those 2+ years, 20+ countries, 100+ stops, mostly in towns and cities, I probably spent less than 120 minutes on the formalities of checking in (Passports, boats documents, crew lists) and checking out.
No wait, there was no checking out.
The peoples, the lands, met and greatly exceeded my expectations.
Then, we headed south. 90% of all boats are south, mostly in the Mediterranean, you know, Italy, Greece, Turkey and southern France and Spain. Everyone wants to go there, so that’s a big Do Not Enter sign for me.
So, we headed south with low expectations. Little did I realize they were not low enough.
Prices trebled, temperatures doubled and bureaucracy was like a pig is slop. The first two stops in Portugal took the same amount of time as the last 100 stops of the previous two years.
And then it got worse.
In virtually every stop, 5 to 10 pieces of paper to sign to check-in; make sure you return tomorrow to fill out and sign the same papers to check-out. Don’t even mention the expense.
But you have read all of this before. Turns out Martinique was the high point of the entire Caribbean. It’s almost weird to say that they were the least bureaucratic. In fact, they were just like northern France. But that was certainly the exception.
So now, having endured all of that and more to get Dauntless a quarter of the way back around the world, I sit here with envy of Dirona.
But I realize it’s not Dirona I’m envious of, it’s being in the middle of the ocean.
I’m a traveler, so when I’m not, I’ll always be envious of those who are.
It’s been a terrifying two days, but knock wood, I have survived so far.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea was a piece of cake compared to driving on the left hand side of the road.
Shifting with my left hand feels as weird as blowing my nose with my left hand, in fact I really can’t.
Now, I have driven in left hand drive countries before, UK, Scotland and Ireland. Years ago, when I had my own right hand drive in Europe, I found it easier to drive that car on the left, since it allowed me to concentrate on staying on the correct side of the road.
Though coming upon a traffic circle, round-about in England, I still had a tendency to go right without thinking if there was no other traffic to remind me.
The most perilous times are right hand turns and pulling out of driveways. Both of those situations have found me close to catastrophe, as I pulled up to the street, looked left, saw no cars approaching and then proceeded to let the car roll forward as I looked right and turned all simultaneously.
Only fast feet on the brakes averted a head on collision as the on-coming car flashed by.
Nowadays I visualize where and how I am getting there with each turn practiced in my head. I use the same rules I have used since last year in Ireland as a pedestrian, look both ways twice before taking step into the street.
I’ve done the same with the car the last two days.
With only tomorrow’s early morning drive to Dublin and the airport, my odds are looking good. But I know the numbers and the reality is that the two-hour drive tomorrow is far riskier than what we have done or will do in the coming months, years and miles in Dauntless.
The link below has a very nice history of right and left hand driving.
If you have been following Dauntless at Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless then you already know the outcome, since this blog is on a tape delay. That way there is no chance of a wardrobe malfunction.
Though I want to share some reflections of the last few days:
While it took three iterations of the Plan, the last plan was the best one and one can’t ask much more than that. The first day, having departed from Elsinore, (yes, Hamlet’s castle),
early in the morning, there was a favorable current for about three hours. Winds stayed light, for Dauntless that is less than 15 knots, for most of the day.
Once I got past the first choke point off Anholt Island, it was mid-afternoon, so I decided it was a good time for dinner. I grilled a mackerel I had bought in Denmark. It was really tasty. I realize that most mackerel I’ve had is not as tasty because it’s overcooked and not as fresh.
As the afternoon rolled on, being so close to the shipping lanes, I saw more ships than I had seen in the two days in the English Channel. They were converging at the obvious choke point: into the Kattegat, over the top of Denmark and into the Skagerrak.
And they made it into a four lane highway! The slower ships would be going 10 to 12 knots and they were being passed by ships doing 15 knots. And the ships were not more than a mile or two apart.
Then to add some spice, high speed ferries would be going perpendicular to this highway speeding by at 25 to 30 knots between Sweden and Denmark.
And of course dauntless plodding along at 6 knots had to stay out of everyone’s way.
By the time I passed over the top of the Jutland peninsula into the Skagerrak, I was exhausted.
The winds did pick up during the evening and into the night. I turned west over the Jutland peninsula at around 03:30 and then went another hour to the west to make sure I was out of the shipping lanes and somewhat protected from the winds. Anchoring was easy and I was finally in bed at 04:30.
I was so exhausted I did not go to sleep immediately, but probably did within 20 minutes, and then I awoke at 08:15, started the engine at 08:25 and had hauled the anchor and was underway at 08:32.
I must admit when I first awoke, I didn’t want to get up, I had only about 3 ½ hours’ sleep, but getting underway immediately made me feel pretty good, I knew I still had a long day ahead of me to Norway and I felt fine.
Now once getting underway, I see numerous marks on the charts designating wreaks,++, a lot of wreaks. Remember the Battle of Jutland was just west of here. So leaving the Jutland Peninsula to the south, I’m seeing more and more boats showing up on the AIS and radar.
More than 50! They are fishing boats, evidently they must know exactly where all the wreaks are so as to maximize their fishing/trawling, but not lose any gear.
Anyway it was an interesting sight and clearly I had to detour around them. But within minutes I hear a “securite” announcement on the VHF and basically it said a high speed ferry was coming thru so all those fishing boats better clear a path.
And they did, as I did. The ferry was going 25 knots, he even called a Maersk ship to confirm he would pass behind him on the port side, which he did with at least a half mile to spare. Not more!
Then a bit later, the Matz Maersk passed in front of me, maybe a mile and produced the biggest wake I have seen in a while, at least 6 feet. It caused breakers; I was impressed.
After that that things started to quiet down because I was getting north of the shipping lanes.
By late afternoon, I could see Norway.
A great sight at the end of a great day.
I anchored that night in the islands of Norway. The first place I had picked based on the chart, when I pulled into the cove, it was clearly too tight, so I backed out and went about ½ mile to the west and found a much better place. I was only 50 feet from the island to the east, the direction the wind was blowing from, but I had about a quarter of a mile downwind to the west and that’s what I wanted.
I went to sleep and slept for 10 hours.
Next day, I had two hours into Kristiansand and in spite of the strong winds, this dock had both cleats and bollards, so it was easy to throw a line over and I was tied up in minutes in 30 knots of wind.
220 nm and 52 hours after leaving Denmark, I was in Norway.
Sort of like the “Bedford Incident” but without Sidney Poitier, or a submarine or the drama, but let’s start at the end.
So, I just had a little conversation with the conductor of the train taking Ivan to Berlin for his plane to Venezia. The fact that I could have this conversation in German reminds me how comfortable I am in Germany, in spite of a few glitches and now being locked in a tower.
This past year, having Dauntless in Ireland, afforded me the opportunity to spend much more time with my old friends in Italy, the Netherlands and now, new friends in Germany. Since September, I’ve spent five weeks in Holland and three weeks each in Italy and Germany. The most time in many years. I do like Germany, maybe not as much as Italy or Ireland, or Holland, or Spain, or …, but I do like it.
I have some wonderful friends from Germany and being here this long actually makes me miss them more, but that’s a saga for a different day.
So it is with an understanding eye that I relate my incident in the tower.
Let’s set the scene.
For the last week Dauntless has been in the company of about 20 boats, all members of the Cruising Association which is headquartered in London. We are doing a week long “rally” in Eastern Germany and into Poland. I figured it would be a good way for me to wet my feet, figuratively, but hopefully not literally, for my first ever trip to Poland.
While all these travels are new to me by boat, before I became a boat based gypsy, I was certainly a car based gypsy and travelled extensively all over Europe, but never Poland or the Baltic Republics.
So on a windy, but sunny day, our little band of boats set off for Kroeslin from Stralsund, with a small stop for those who are interested on the island of Ruden.
Now, one pleasure I get out of being on a tour organized by others is that I don’t have to do any thinking. I don’t have to worry about bridge opening times nor actual routes. In fact, it was only after I was tied to the wall, just outside the little, very little harbor of Ruden that I realized only about half a dozen boats made this detour to check out Ruden.
OK, I was here now, so I figured I may as well traipse down the dusty path and check out the watch tower that looked south over the V1 and V2 rocket development area of Peenemunde and later as the observation post to make sure no one left the people’s paradise known as the Deutsche Democratic Republic (DDR). It’s actually comical to write that. You have to hand to the commies; they certainly have a sense of humor.
So, there was Dauntless, right at the entrance to the harbor, flying not one, but two Stars and Stripes, with of course the German flag, a large one mind you and my newest addition, a Kadey Krogen flag thanks to the great people in their Seattle office.
Thus while I was securing the lines and then changing from by boating clothes to my walk a dusty path clothes, a little German boat, carrying maybe six people came in and tied up in the inner harbor in a spot reserved just for them.
So an hour later, I find myself walking down the dusty path, past the island caretaker’s house, past the 1960’s style barracks, though it could be 1930’s, it’s hard to tell in the DDR, with not a soul in sight.
On the path just in front, I pass a German coming from the tower and figure he was with that little boat that came in after me.
The tower is basically a four floor, 20 feet by 12 feet structure. Each floor had one room looking south towards Peenemunde.
Now, while I was alone in the bulding, I was making noise. Under such circumstances, I usually talk to the photos and ask them questions. I don’t get many ansers though. I was also humming a tune; rather loudly as no one was about and it turned out the tune was from the Victory at Sea soundtrack done by RCA Victor and Robert Russell Bennett. It had been in my head for a few days as I had played it after some arduous crossing. At the time, I had no idea what particular track I was humming, but did discover later it was “D-Day”.
On each floor they had some information on the wall about the history of the island and one floor was about the war years. There was a photo of a B-17 in flight over Peenemunde. Now my German is not so great, but I could glean from the explanation, that they were not thanking the B-17s for liberating them from the madman who was Hitler.
And I really had no idea the tune I was humming was titled “D-Day”.
Really, I didn’t.
Having walked to the top floor, I figured I may as well go one more flight up to the open air roof.
It was open air and it was the roof. 30 seconds later, feeling my duty was done, I go down to the ground floor, but realize something is different; it’s dark. The metal door, which had been propped open when I had entered, was closed.
I actually went to look for the stairs to go down one more floor thinking I had forgotten how I came in.
Nothing. I go UP one floor, maybe I was in the basement? No, I can see I’m two stories up.
I go back to the metal door, which I had tried to open initially.
I try harder this time, now 98% sure it was the door I came in, I push really hard and see that there is a chain holding the doors closed. I push harder. Nothing.
Now, at this point, I am not panicked; but simply perplexed. I am still thinking I had possibly come in some other entrance.
Now, folks, this is a simple building. We’re not talking Taj Mahal. So, I realize that someone has chained me in the place.
OK, I check out the windows. Not only are they bolted closed, but the first floor has those iron gates covering them. I do see an English couple walking up, so I go wait for them and they confirm that the chain is padlocked.
Now, my phone is on the boat. Who would I be calling on this island?
I thought to myself, maybe I should have brought my chain cutter with me. The fact that it weighs 20 pounds and is three feet long was probably the main reason I didn’t. I also am not sure why I even bought it, as I can never remember using it. Maybe I bought it for just this occasion?
No, brute force will be my last resort.
I look at the door and the eye bolt the chain is connected to on the outside has one nut holding it in place. I pull on the end of the bolt hoping to relieve the pressure and maybe I can get the bolt off.
I do; it does and I unbolt the eye bolt.
Push it through and I am as free as a bird.
I consciously put the nut back on the bolt.
I start walking back to Dauntless, who is probably now wondering what is taking so long on this forlorn island.
Just before the harbor, I pass one of the Germans I had seen earlier, now sitting on a bench waiting, watching or maybe just plain resting.
He smiles. And it all becomes clear.
His smile gives him away. He gives me that mischievous smile that explains the whole situation to me at a glance.
I give him my “we’ve beat you twice and we could do it again” smirk and continue down the path, back to Dauntless with her two American flags standing straight out in the brisk wind.
I’m proud to be an American.
And, I really didn’t know the tune was titled, “D-Day”
Yesterday, we arrived at the harbor of Stralsund at 23:15. Jeremy from the Cruising Association was ready, waving a flashlight so I knew where to go and I cannot tell you how relieved I was having that last uncertainty removed.
We had D tied up and engine off in 10 minutes, surely a record.
Saturday started in a frustrating fashion and ended the same way.
I use my Kindle for most books and I use the Kindle app on my phone for magazines and newspapers. The app works better because it’s in color and the newspaper I read, the Wall Street Journal is formatted far better for that medium.
Why do I like the WSJ?
As I moved around the world, the WSJ was the one paper that one could get consistently and I liked the mix of world, US and business news. Since I’ve gotten it on my Kindle, I like it even more since the version I get is for NY and has stories of the NY sports teams.
During this past year, I have come to realize that after a long day or before a long day starts, I really like having my cup of coffee and the newspaper. On reflection, I realize that while Dauntless is my main job now, almost as important, is reading the newspaper in the morning.
I grew up that way and since my first job was delivering newspapers, a job that was setup by the upstairs neighbors who wanted the four morning newspapers and therefore found another half dozen customers for me to make it worth the while of a 10 year old. So, I had the paper every morning to read before school. As I got older, work and organizing my day mentally took precedence.
But now on Dauntless, I find a satisfaction on sitting down in the morning with the paper and my coffee that can hardly be described.
With my Samsung Note I can take it with me anywhere has been great. I’ve even gotten used to the fact that it is not available until just before 8:00 Ireland time; which means an hour later on the continent.
OK, fine. But since I have been in Germany, my internet connections seem to have vanished. Last week I was in a particular foul mood all day, just because I could not get the day’s paper. Now Amazon certainly has its issues. About once a month, the kindle has a hissy fit and tells me something stupid like all of a sudden I have too many devices or there is no new paper today.
If you email Amazon support, they now give you the boilerplate answer: cut off your pinky, use the blood to wipe the screen, say praise be to whatever god your believe in or not, and that should do it.
Well, not exactly, but it’s usually just as bad, erase everything on your phone, reinstall everything and it will work. Sometimes.
Yeah, I don’t do that either. Strangely most of the time, within a few hours it starts working again.
OK, but now, it’s not Amazon. It’s the many places that say they have Wi-Fi, but really don’t. And that now includes the Telco’s.
So no paper, email for days. I didn’t miss it crossing the Atlantic, but now people think when I don’t respond to their email I’m ignoring them. Worse, Gmail manages to send some stuff, but other stuff sits for days in the Que.
So this weekend ended on a sour note for me. No paper, made worse because it took me a day to figure out the WSJ had not published on Saturday, the 4th.
Then Monday dawned bright and first thing it was back to the O2 store that sold me a data only SIM on Saturday to find out why I still had no Internet. Now, I had returned to the store Saturday afternoon, just before closing to ask why it was still not working and the response was many people are having the same problem. That was confirmed by my German friends who had checked online for me.
OK, so off I was to the O2 store for a resolution one way or another.
But this time, when I inquired why still no joy, I asked the question, that I should have asked on Saturday, but naively didn’t, assuming I would be told the whole story from the beginning.
But I had forgotten I was in the former DDR. Germans are a bit reserved, at least compared to Italians or Irish, but the denizens of the former DDR are even more reserved. With extra information, words, even necessary information, comes the risk of saying the wrong words to the wrong people. Living for three generations, 60 years, under the watchful eye of the Gestapo/Stasi will do that to you.
So I was understanding; I smiled and did not say what I was thinking as he finally told me I needed an APN (an internet protocol). In Italy, and with Verizon, the phone needs an APN, but is not needed in the Netherlands, or Ireland. But, behind my tolerant smile, you know, the kind you give your puppy after he eats your favorite shoe, I wondered how he could have neglected to mention this after I returned to tell him it still wasn’t working?
But little did I realize how my mettle would be tested just 36 hours later locked in an old watchtower on Ruden.
Well my faith has been renewed in the human race or at least my decision making whichever is lessor.
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.
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.
We are in Lemmer this morning. A town on the Ijsselmeer in the beginning of Friesland, which has a really Dutch flavor.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.