Ireland, Ireland, Ireland

Oh, how I love thee

I just finished my first proper dinner in days, rib eye steak (made all the sweeter because it cost only €4) and salad and a few glasses of red wine.  I’ve only had pea soup and hobbit bread for the past two days.  Why, you think? Because in Liverpool, Eve and Nigel treated me to the best fried fish and mushy peas I’ve ever eaten.  At least in the U.K.  So coming home on Tuesday, I vowed to watch my eating and coupled with my craving for those mushy peas, I decided to replicate them.  And yes, I was successful, it was pea soup as I usually make it, but with less water.  Perfectly seasoned, lekker.

Oh, this will be a truthful post. At least that what’s Korean’s believe, that alcohol, makes you speak the truth and if you don’t drink, you are hiding something.  One of the reasons I like Korean culture so much.  I obviously agree.

So, my dinner was the celebration of having hot water and heat.  Heat came a few days ago, but hot water was more elusive.  Finally, after two days of plugs wires and voltmeters, I have hot water for the first time, without having to run the generator (Genny) or the main engine (who gets no nickname, because he’s just a worker, so it doesn’t get a cute nickname).

Having had to return to my local electric shop for one elusive plug, I then proceeded to the bakery, yes, the bakery, in which everything I have had so far is just divine.  I went for an apple pie, but they were already out (it was 2:00 p.m. after all).

The baker, said he could make some this evening, but by tomorrow morning for certain.  I told him that was fine; I would come before my morning coffee (a 15 minute walk).  Came back to Dauntless and finished my 220v electric project.  Now, with heat, hot water, meat and wine, I’m content.

I’ve watched a few episodes of Luther, Season 3, and the last few days. Even though fiction, it’s hard to see injustice and people who try to do the right thing screwed for it.  Hits too close to home I suppose.

Being alone is hard.  My days are chores and work.  When Julie and I came two thirds of the way across the Atlantic, it was a real vacation for us, the 10 days form Azores was work; moving from A to B.

I have an exciting spring and summer planned, but it’s clear to me that my friends better come and visit, otherwise I will go stir crazy.

One of the outcomes of last week’s trip to London for the cruising Baltic lecture is that it really stoked my desire for both the Baltic, but also for the far north again.  I’m reading this fascinating book, almost written in my style, if I may say, The Eight Sailing/Mountain-Exploration Books by H.W. Tilman.  Written in the mid 1970’s, I’ve just been reading the last two parts about sailing north.  I like the style of the book, so will probably read the accounts of his sailing south around the Horn and exploring Patagonia, but that interests me less.

This book I borrowed from the Cruising Association’s library.  I am really excited about the Baltic this summer, to see Poland, the Baltic republics and Finland, are all a first for me.  In talking to people last week I even came away with the possibility of wintering over in Gdansk next year.  It is supposed to be really nice and really pretty, rebuilt after the war, but in the old style.

So, yesterday, while checking out the Polish market in town, while waiting to check out, I asked the ladies ahead of me of their thoughts of living in Ireland versus Poland (I was the only non-polish speaking person in the store)?  She told me that she had been here 6 years, with her siblings and that only her mother was still in Poland, but she hoped to get her here soon.  That life in Poland was hard and simply much easier here in Ireland.  I thanked her and bought the same raised donut she had. It was orange and very tasty this morning, though my ardor for next winter in Poland is a bit cooler.

It’s now 18:30 and the sun set like three hours ago.  Whoever came up with the idea of setting the clocks’ back to “standard’ time should go live on a farm, but for the rest of us, Daylight Savings, year around would make far more sense.  In England last week all the tabloids were pointing in in 72 point fonts that 80 more people would die in car accidents by making the mornings lighter at the expense of the evening when far more people are out.

Speaking of sense, I have found Ireland so nice, the people do genuinely warm and the baked goods to die for, but with all that, there is one aspect, that is interesting.  The free water protest.

They are having this big campaign, protest basically, about the “right to water”.  I think even here in Waterford there is supposed to be a big demonstration in which everyone demands their right to water. I had seen the posters and references to this, days ago, but found it hard to understand just what the issue was.  It turns out it is as simple as it sounds.  Ireland had recently starting charging for water use and the people are up in arms.

I’m tempted to check out the demonstration.  This will almost be like my luke warm anti-Vietnam war days.  But then. I am a bit afraid that someone may ask my opinion and if asked, who am I to deny them.

Then, I’s have to say, everyone can collect as much water as they want, free of charge (after all it has been raining for three days),  but if you want us to deliver it to your faucet, you’ll have to pay!

Oh, the apple pie is only $4.00!!!

Liverpool, Learning & Life

I’ve been here 5 days, returning to Dauntless tomorrow.  I came to England for a lecture about cruising the Baltic, specifically Poland, this past Friday in London.  This is exactly why we are in Europe.  I get to see new things, renew old friendships and learn new ideas that are promotive of even more learning.

Cows Making a Run for It
Cows Making a Run for It

I love learning; it’s why I loved teaching.  You can’t have one, without the other, in spite of the many who try.

We took a tour of Wales yesterday. My childhood best friend Eve, wanted to find the grave of Jack Black, a slave who was brought to Wales in the 1700’s.  After that, the drive home was interrupted my a cattle stampede, when half a dozen cows decided to make a run for it, instead of crossing the road to the barn.  Anyone who has chased their cat or dog knows the routine: run up road, wait for man to catch up, run up road again, continue until tired.

Today,I had gone to the bookstore this afternoon to try to find a book of the geology of England and Ireland.  I got distracted.  I have not often been in a large book store in Europe in which all the books are in English. A real treat.  So first I got distracted by the book about Steve McQueen, and then on the same table was the Katherine Hepburn book, an hour later I thought I better get cracking and find my geology book. Well, science was next to math and for some reason I just had to pick up the calculus book and refresh my brain about differentials, limits and integrals.  By the time that was over, it was time to leave, so I hastily looked and found nothing having to do with geology.

Lightship at Liverpool Dock
Lightship at Liverpool Dock

The lecture about the Baltic was interesting and I met even more interesting people.  It reinforced my tentative plan and made me more open to also visiting Russia and St. Petersburg.  We’ll see.

A few weeks ago, I was worried about being bored this winter. Now, in the last days, I realize my dance card is getting rapidly filled.  How so?  Plans so far:

  • During the next two weeks on Dauntless, I must:
    • Plan the installation of the Wallas heater
    • String some shore power lights, so D looks more festive and less lonely when I am not there.
    • Figure out my the washer dryer isn’t working
    • Clean and organize the fly bridge, getting the water out of the dingy, so it doesn’t look so derelict
    • Make some tasty soups that I can eat with the Hobbit bread
  • I’ll be in the U.S. form about November 12th thru December 14th, during which time I will:
    • Attend some Univ. of Washington Alumni thing in NYC
    • Spend thanksgiving with Julie’s parents
    • Visit Roger in Ft. Walton Beach, as he was one of my prime communicators for the Passage
    • Visit old friends out west in Denver and Seattle. Like plants, friendships must be nurtured and maintained to thrive.
    • I’ve decided to drive, preferring to spend the money on gas as opposed to airline tickets. It means I will me making the grand tour, NYC to Florida to the Rockies, Pacific Northwest and finally back to NYC.  Driving gives me the opportunity to stop and visit more friends, both new and old.
  • Then when I return to Ireland, I’ll only have a few days before I go to northern Italy to see my friends in Budoia, Pordenone, Friuli and Treviso. Julie will meet me there for her Christmas vacation.
  • When I get back to D in mid-January, I will have to install the Wallas diesel heater and before I know it, it will be time to meet Julie in Spain the middle of February.
  • By early March, I hope to be getting D ready for our spring and summer cruising. Now, all of this is very tentative, but on first blush, this is what we are thinking:
    • Leave Ireland for England and the Channel Islands in April
    • Brittany, Belgium and finally Holland by June
    • Germany, Kiel Canal and Poland in July
    • Poland, the Baltic Republics July and August
    • Finland, Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia August
    • September??? Probably returning to Poland for winter??

So that’s the rough plan. Clearly the further out the more tentative.  Much of my cruising will depend on visitors, in the sense that I seldom cruise alone.  With Julie only having 3 weeks, I’ll have 9 of 12 summer weeks do something.  So If I have guests, then I will travel; if not, I won’t.

So, as you can see, I seem to have filled much of my time.  There are a number of projects, most revolve around photography, but now who knows how much time I will have.

I’ll publish my cruising plans as they firmer.  Should you have any questions, feel free to email me.

Reflections on Ireland & Being a Continual Learner

My first full day back in Ireland and Waterford.

Started the day with Genny for an hour.  Doing everything I ask, what a sweetheart. She gets us warm and toasty all over and knows enough to save some for later.:–)

In the next days, I must deal with a few issues.  I need a long term way to keep the batteries up, warm the boat and have hot water.  Genny makes it for me, but she is expensive and whines a bit. I need a solution that costs me little, is quiet and will do anyting I ask for as long as I want.

Typical Man.

So today, walked up the hill, passing some of my favorite Waterford places: the auto/marine store, the electrical place and then, today’s real destination, two bakeries: one that does the best cupcakes and the other, Hickey’s, that makes the best bread, chewy, tasty, with a firm crust.  Bread to die for.  I get there at 1:30 p.m.  They are already closed! What, a baker that knows fresh bread is about the morning.  This is how we got the saying: “you snooze, you lose”

By the way, doesn’t it bother anyone that in English, snooze and lose sound the same?  So ooz=se and you wonder why kids have a hard time with spelling.  Maybe that’s why everyone pronounces my name “boast”.  Easy grammar rules, but pronunciations that make no sense. Remember that the next time you inwardly roll your eyes trying to understand a non-native speaker.

So, back to my first love, observing stuff.

$6.45 of ingredients
$6.45 of ingredients

I go to the butcher shop next door and ask about the bakery hours.  They inform me that they close at 1:00 p.m.; I’ve already accepted that, and am now looking at his meat.  I see 4 lamp chops for  $5.25; I get them.  I then ask about pork belly, but add that I’m not going to buy it now.  He still goes to the back to get it and brings out this 3 foot long piece to show me.  It looks great, he talks about the bone and the “rind” makes it so tasty.  Yes, we do love pork belly too.  At $2.50/lb. I say that’s a real bargain.  He agrees and says that pork is cheap in Ireland.  I say that in the USA too, but they have bred all the taste out of it to get to that low cost.  He laments that the same is happening here.  Though I do not think it’s that bad nor will it ever get to the situation in the USA.  In my two mile walk from boat to bakery and then back thru downtown, I must have seen half a dozen real butcher shops and only one large shopping market.  It’s clear people value quality over price.

The Salad
The Salad

So another word oddity, they use the word rind for skin of meat. We only seem to use it for watermelon nowadays.  I don’t even hear it applied to oranges anymore, everyone says “peel”.  Now, another connection, in German Rindfleisch is red meat, as in this is the meat under the skin. And on this thought of language history, the word deer in English and Tier in German, sound pretty much the same, but now mean different things. You know what a deer is, but in German, the word means all types of animals, but what you didn’t know was that our word for meat, as in meat we eat use to be the same word, deer or Tier.  What changed is that for thousands of years when the Germanic languages were developing, what they ate was the animal we call deer.  The word had to be modified as humans ate all the deer and then had to find other meats to eat.  Thus deer took on a more narrow meaning to just one type of meat.

Another observation, Coke has real sugar in it.  That tells me that even the giants like Coca Cola know what they can get away with and what they can’t.  Maybe one day America will be like that again.  Won’t happen as long as we keep electing lawyers with virtually no inking of science or even math.

So back to my shopping. I wanted lettuce.  Seeing these green leafy things in one of the butcher shops that also had Waterford apples, I decide to buy two apples and lettuce.  The “lettuce” turned out to be cabbage.  What was I thinking?  Every butcher has the main ingredients that go with meat,  cabbage, potatoes, onions, turnips and beets.    I still got the apples and I was paying the 20 cents for two, when I saw a package of some of the sliced bread from Hickey’s Bakery, I grabbed a package and mentioned that I had just been there but they were already closed.  He told me to take a different package, as the one I had grabbed was yesterday’s. Just another typical Ireland experience.  People in every profession and every store actually seem to treat their job like it’s their profession.  Makes a world of difference.

Talking about people, pretty much anyone with whom you have eye contact will greet you as you pass by.  Kids, those naturally friendly 4 and 5 years olds, will say hello if you look at them.   It’s a friendly place.

I finally find the supermarket.  It’s in the mall downtown.  I buy this great looking lettuce, $1.25, so tasty too.

So, had this great dinner of salad with apple, mandarin oranges (part of the Costco provisions, bought before we realized we would be able to buy food again) with sesame and olive oils and vinegar.  The four lamb chops done on the Weber, all washed down by Vinho Verde we bought in Rhode Island (yes, we too saw the irony of bringing Portuguese wine back to Portugal.  Best dinner I’ve made in a long time and it only cost $6.45 for all the ingredients.

Lastly, I pass the panhandling gypsy, every town has a few, and she is with a girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old.  As I pass and the mother holds her hand out while mumbling something, the girl sticks her tongue out while trying to put this funny face on.  Cleary, she was trying to be funny and it was so cute.

I still didn’t give ’em any money.

But every experience here has been interesting and insightful.  New country, new things to learn and experience.  Can’t ask for any more.  Next weekend there is a lecture about cruising Poland presented by the Cruising Association.  It’s in London, but will give me the opportunity to celebrate the birthday of my childhood friend, who is like my sister.

So for me, learning is what keeps me young.  Learning the boat, the sea and now new people and places.  Even the Gaelic language fascinates me.  This is the name of one of the streets by the dock, “Lana Thig an Chaife” , I love seeing connections.  In the word Chaife, I see a connection that clearly I never understood in hearing the words, but seeing them spelled this way in Gaelic is insightful.wpid-20141017_080504.jpg

Our presentation of our Atlantic Passage at the Krogen Rendezvous

Julie and I presented an account of our Atlantic Passage to over 150 Krogen owners this past Saturday at the Krogen Rendezvous. Dauntless in Horta Az iwth Pico and Moonrise This was the first presentation we’ve ever done of our passage and it was really well received.  A bunch of folks asked me where else we were presenting and at this point, the answer is nowhere because no one has asked us yet.  I’m definitely going to look for more opportunities because I like sharing how possible this is in an older boat on a limited budget.

Besides talking about our preparation, and all the books we read, here are some highlights:

Q:  What is the age of Dauntless?

A: 1988, 27 years old. [Audience gasp.  This reaction surprised me because it never occurred to me the age of the boat would be an issue; I just thought it was about the condition.]

Q: Did you change the oil?

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A: No!  I wasn’t to stop the engine in the middle of the ocean for no stinkin’ oil change.

Q: Did you ever turn off the engine?

A: Not on purpose.  [Then I went into a five-minute recount of all my shenanigans with changing the fuel filters and closing valves that should be open, and vice versa, which resulted in me killing the engine, twice!]

Q: Could you check the amount of oil you had with the engine running?

A: I had read on Trawler Forum that I may be able to check the oil level while running.  Well, all I could tell was that there was some amount of oil in there, but it was not possible to get a reading. Therefore, I knew the oil consumption in the past was a quart of oil every 50-70 hours, so I just added 2 quarts every few days whether it needed it or not.  When I did turn off the engine when we arrived in the Azores, the oil level was exactly where I expected it to be.

Q: What would you do differently in hindsight?

There is virtually nothing significant we would have done differently.  The actual route we took is one issue, but as I rethink the rationale for the route we took, it still seems it was the best option given the ice conditions east and south of St. John’s NF.  I’m disappointed we never got to see an iceberg and as our start date got pushed back to late July, maybe we should have tried to make St. John’s.  In hindsight though, I was not that sure enough of the fuel consumption and Julie had a deadline to get back to work, so the Azores were still the best answer, even if it added 5 days to the passage.  It does seem that had I been able to stay on the great circle route, topping up the tanks in Halifax would have allowed me to get to Ireland direct.  Umm, next time.

A last thought on pictures and video from the trip: Being back in NY, having the Krogen Presentation to do and finally having fast, reliable internet connection allowed me to finally sort through the 1200 pictures and 130 videos we had taken during the trip.

While there are some really nice pictures, especially of sunsets and sunrises, I now wish I had been more meticulous in making some quality pictures and videos that told their own story each day in a systematic manner.

A note about the videos.  The file date is basically the date time stamp of when it was recorded, thus, 20140728_201731 means it was recorded on July 28th, at 20:17 hours.  This was on Eastern Daylight Time until the Azores at which point I changed it to GMT (which was local time).

Also the quality is not the best, but rather than not show post them, I thought they still depict the conditions and give a good day to day story of conditions.

Virtually all the videos are at: http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Videos-of-Dauntless-Atlantic/

The pictures will be uploaded within the next day or two.

I’m Back

Flying over the Atlantic yesterday, over a similar route that we had taken with Dauntless just months earlier, was a strange experience.  This flight was Europe is one I have taken so many times in the last 15 years.  But this time, instead of returning to my normal life and its incumbent responsibilities, I’m leaving much of that behind. I’m coming home; but not to the burdens of the past: my mother, my school, now it’s more like a vacation.  I get to see friends, write, complete the writing of our Atlantic Passage and organize the pictures.  I only going to eat foods I can’t or wouldn’t get in Waterford: Korean, Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Bengali & Indian.

It was great that Julie got to spend a little time in Waterford and be on Dauntless in her winter haven. It’s wonderful being able to share many of the interesting and tasty things Waterford has to offer.  The bread, they call turnover, we call it Hobbit bread, because it just seems to fit.  It is the best we’ve eaten since Cuccio’s in Brooklyn.  Cuccio’s was a weekly ritual for the last 14 years I was taking care of Mama, so it was nice for us to find such tasty bread in Ireland.  The last three weeks in Ireland have certainly been eye opening.

I never expected to eat so well and in particular, I am really impressed with the quality and freshness of virtually all baked products.  Ireland has many less chain type establishments then even the Netherlands, and it’s clear that people value locally grown and produced products.

The croissants are as good as any I’ve had in France and that does say a lot.  Finding delicious bread and cakes are the icing on the cake.  Ireland is simply full of wonderful people.  My time in Castletownbere was the perfect ending to an Atlantic Passage.  Full of people who know the sea, it is one of Ireland’s five official fishing ports, I met many people and many fishermen fascinated with Dauntless and our voyage.

Waterford is looking like the perfect winter spot.

Waterford Viking Tower
Waterford Viking Tower

Having the dock right downtown makes it easy for me to walk pretty much anyplace I want to go.  I’ll be able to use my bicycle for longer trips.  The City of Waterford wants to encourage boaters to stay and they have made it very easy.  The Harbor Master is helpful and accommodating and the price for the six winter months is one third of what it would have cost me in most other places.

And then we found Hobbit bread.

Luck, more luck & wonderful people

I just had two of the worst things happen this morning for the entire trip.

After getting fuel, I went to store to get a few provisions, tomatoes, cheese, sausage and more white wine.
I figure that was enough for 7days.

After the market, I’m walking back to boat and I realize my passport is not in my back pocket. Right away, I realize it probably came out when I pulled my phone out.

Ok. But I hoped I left it on boat.

I get to boat, enter thru the pilot house, take a quick look for my passport on helm, no luck, come bounding down the stairs, with grocery bag in each hand, sunglasses on, turn left for galley and guess what I don’t see?

I’d left the engine room hatch open, while fueling and I step onto air.

My whole life passes before me, well not really, just the last second.

Luckily my momentum allowed me get my arms and elbows above galley counter.
So no damage done.

I’m thanking everyone for that and figure I’ll find my passport now.
No luck.

So I’m ready to retrace my last stops, but I ask customs to call police first, while I return to boat and look one more.

I’m now waiting for the police to bring it. Someone found it on the street.

If rather be lucky than smart.

But I do love the Azores and Horta.
Wonderful food, people and drink.
And that’s all that matters.

I’m off to Ireland shortly, knowing all goes well that ends well.