20180513 Three Times Fail – Cabo Falso Beats Dauntless Like a Rented Mule
Cabo San Lucas was the most un-Mexican, unpleasant place I’ve been in the beginning of time or at least since I’ve been cruising Dauntless for the last 7 years.
It was expensive, literally, 3x to 10x more expensive than anyplace else I’d been in Mexico. The epitome of a tourist trap; I thought I was in Southern California.
Unexpectedly, Ensenada, being much closer to California, was truly charming. I could have been stuck there for months and been happy, conversely, being stuck in Cabo waiting for weather for 10 days felt like a year!
So, this video shows me attempting to leave Cabo just days after my arrival. I was now alone again; Larry was going to meet in the next week and I was hoping to be in Ensenada by then. Once making the right turn to the west at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula, one heads due west to get around Cabo Falso, before turning northwest and then north to get up the coast. The winds are typically strong and right on the nose 15 to 35 knots. 15 is not pleasant, but is tolerable, high teems quickly becomes untenable for any length of time. Even under the best conditions, I would have a few hours of the strongest winds.
Sorry I don’t have more video of the worst moments, but when I’m being thrown around the pilot house, my last thoughts are on making videos.
Please remember to Like & Subscribe to my YOU TUBE videos, it makes YT like me better.
The tile says it all. This is the 12 July 2019 cruise on Dauntless northbound the Inside Passage in British Columbia.
Highlights of this day include:
We see a small whale
We see numerous whirlpools, but don’t get sucked in
We pass a number of southbound cruise ships, including the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Alaska Ferry Kennecott. ( I have a fondness for the Holland-America line, as I grew up across the street from Pier 40 in New York, where they docked in the 1950’s up until the 80’s?.
We stop for three hours on the Campbell river to wait for the currents to change.
Larry corrects me when I say “Johnston” Strait not “Johnstone”. Made all the funnier for me because I should have known, having been once married to a Johnstone.
Our anchorage was pretty windy, with westerly winds of 20 knots gusting to 28. But we held well as we always do (well until a few days later, but that’s another story.
We left Vancouver BC for the last time at 7:11 on 7/11. I think it was a coincidence! It was a long, 12+ hr. day, but it’s the Inside Passage, so weather is normally not a factor.
There was an interesting spot we (My long-time Alaska friend Larry was with me for the next two weeks) wanted to check out, Smuggler’s Cove and that turned out to be the highlight of the day. Truly tight and narrow, it was a bit stressful entering and even leaving.
We have some OK Go-Pro footage of that excursion, though the Go Por was fogging up, so it’s not as good as it should be. I also took some video from inside the pilot house of the charts, both my Coastal Explorer running C-Map and Navionics on my tablet.
After that exploration, it was another 7 hours until we stopped for the night in an open anchorage, just north of Savary Island. All in all, as easy day, filled some interesting tidbits.
Larry has been on Dauntless crossing the English Channel, Leaving Cabo San Lucas and the Mexican coast northward and now from Vancouver in the Inside Passage. This latest cruise was the easy compared to the rough sea we experienced off the Mexican coast and in the English channel. Those videos will get uploaded after I finish the Inside Passage 2019.
When I wrote Surviving Winter on a Boat back 8 months ago, in mid-January 2020, we were coming thru the coldest period we would see all winter, and everything had worked as advertised.
It was not to last. In fact, two weeks later, we had no heat and then no electricity.
Let’s check the videotape.
We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.
And it did get cold. January temperatures went below freezing in the morning of January 1st, were in the teens in the second week and single digits mid-month. Through it all the Wallas DT40 heater worked well and keep Dauntless warm and cozy, as I wrote last January:
I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a mattress heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.
At the coldest, with lows near 5°F and daytime highs in the low teens, the Wallas used 2 gallons of diesel per day if I ran it on high most of the time. During normal use, basically for the rest of the winter and spring, it averaged about 1 gallon per day, which is right in line with what the owner’s manual states. It’s certainly refreshing to have a company provide real data that hasn’t been lawyered to uselessness.
And then it warmed up and everything went to hell in a handbasket.
On January 20th, the temperature went above freezing for the first time since the cold snap has started a month ago.
What’s Hell in a Handbasket? Mix cascading consequences with trying to be a little too cute and a dash of inattention and you get no heat and soon no electricity.
It all started so innocently enough.
Back in the fall, when I had finally completed the installation of the Wallas DT40 heater (Wallas Finland Heater homepage) the 9 feet of 1” stainless steel exhaust hose ended in my propane locker. That didn’t seem like a good idea even to me, so I went to the local hardware store and got 3 feet of 1 ½ “ mild steel flexible hose because that is all they had.
I can make that work and I did. Nothing a little duct tape won’t solve. I was even proud of myself for making a large loop, in which I even thought to drill a hole for condensation water drainage. Too small a hole as it turned out.
All went well for months, until the warm-up in late January. The Wallas turned itself off and would not run.
Knowing that water in the exhaust could be the culprit, it was the first thing I checked. But that was easier said than done. The Wallas heater is installed on the starboard side of the engine room, above the battery box. The exhaust hose runs straight up to the salon to the fly bridge. I wanted to blow thru the exhaust hose. First, I had to take the heater off its mount. Then I hooked up the vacuum hose to blow and connected it to the exhaust.
It worked. I had also seen that my drain hole in the “U” of the exhaust pipe had sealed itself due to rust. So that’s why the ice and water had collected in the exhaust and when it got warm outside, the ice melted and the heater was on a low setting, so the water eventually clogged the exhaust causing the automatic shutdown.
The best laid plans of mice and men…
I drilled a much bigger drain hole, ¼” this time.
The heater started up and ran for 9 hours before shutting down for some problem. Strange.
I started it up again, and again it shut down after about 9 hours.
Just wonderful people and truly knowledgeable. Bill is the resident expert and he was so helpful. I ended calling them a dozen times over the next week, as I would take the Wallas down and clean out the burner. It would then start, run ok, but shut down at some point on its own.
Scan Marine suggested I send the unit to them. But I wasn’t ready to quit yet.
When cleaning the burner, three parts are removed:
The glow plug which starts the fuel burning,
The fuel pipe, a 1 mm metal pipe that drips fuel into the burner
The thermocouple which measures the heat out put to make sure fuel is shut off if there is no fire.
I had cleaned that little 1mm fuel pipe numerous times, since it will clog if the burner gets sooted up, like with a semi-blocked exhaust!
I had spent what seemed like hours in the engine room, holding the exhaust pipe, checking if it was getting warm, then hot. By then I knew every little noise it made. The minute ticks of the fuel pump, the fan blowing in the burner, etc.
I finally saw a pattern. It was starting ok, fuel was going in, it was burning (since it was getting hot), but then it would shut down, like I had turned it off (though I would get a warning that it had an unusual shutdown).
As I thought about its operation: it was getting fuel and air, but it was turning itself off.
Finally, at my wits end I went online to see how I could test the thermocouple. Right away, I found someone who had measured the resistance of the thermocouple at about 9 ohms.
Umm, mine was more than 2200 ohms.
Called Scan Marine and they told me the music to my ears, that anyone with no heat wants to hear: “Our mail goes in in 30 minutes, but I’ll make sure your thermocouple makes the pickup”
It arrived in Wrangell, two days later. J
Its resistance was 7 ohms. That boded well.
Put it in, turned it on and it’s been running normally the last 7 months.
Thank you Wallas for building a heater that is fixable.
Thank you, Scan Marine, for holding my hand through the process and then getting me the parts quickly.
Looking back, here’s what happened:
I extended the exhaust pipe, but then put too small a drain hole in mild steel.
With the heater running near high with very cold temperatures outside, the exhaust air was hot enough to prevent any water collection, even with the now rusted over hole.
As soon as it warmed up, ice melted in the exhaust ANDI turned down the heater, resulting in cooler exhaust, allowing water to collect, semi-blocking the exhaust, then blocking it causing a shut down.
In the process of cleaning the heater too many times because I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working correctly once I had cleared the exhaust, the thermocouple wire broke, but not obviously. Therefore, it would run, but as time went on, the wire insulation got a little warmer, allowing the wire to stop making contact at the break.
Once the thermocouple reported no heat due to the wire break, the heater would turn off the fuel pump, as to not pump fuel with no fire going (even though the fire was going).
Not the first time, in diagnosing one thing, I cause something else to break.
On the other hand, I love the Wallas and would buy it again if need be. It’s expensive, but worth it. It is as quiet as advertised. At night in bed, with the Wallas on high speed fan, I can not hear it, but instead do hear the muffin fan on the fridge compressor. The Wallas is that quiet, with it’s mufflers on the two hot air ducts.
The only thing that made this week with no diesel heater tolerable was having a mattress heating pad on our bed. It allowed us a decent night’s sleep in a cold boat. Don’t leave home without it
This is the 120v one that I have had for a year now and would recommend my 120v Mattress Pad. I hesitated getting a 120v pad because there are issues with noise in the transformer, they can produce a buzz that’s audible in a quiet room. This 120v unit has no noise at all.
Previously, I had used a 12v hating pad. The first one lasted 4 years and I loved it. It didn’t need an inverter to run and it really warmed the bed on cold winter days in New England and Northern Europe. So, when it started not to work, I bought the same one My 12v Mattress Pad. this one only worked for a couple of months before it too, started simply stopped working. So, I gave up on them. Stupidly, I should have returned the second one while under warranty, but for some reason, that never occurred to me.
Now, while we spent this week with no heater. I did have the two A/C reverse cycle units on the boat. They will provide heat. But we only had on 25-amp circuit to the boat. So that took some jury rigging to turn on one heater or the other.
Worked fine until I also decided to install an Automatic Generator Start that same week.
Here is the link to my You Tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I just uploaded some pictures and videos of the day 08 to 10 July 2019, Vancouver B.C., to Montague Harbor, where I anchored to meet some wonderful Kadey Krogen friends.
Here is the link to my You Tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I just uploaded some pictures and videos of the day 06 July 2019, Bedwell Harbor to Vancouver B.C., where I anchored in the middle of town, in False Creek.
After some fits and starts, I am keener than ever to be more consistent and use this Dauntless at Sea to spotlight the photos and videos of the last 7 years and 30,000 miles. I will also try to be consistent in showing entire seasons or passages in a short time.
I will bounce around a bit but will have the date time group in the format, yyyymmdd, in every title, so should you want to watch them in chronological order, it is possible to do so.
I have far more pictures than videos, for a number of reasons:
There is not a lot going on during long passages, one picture can tell the tale at a glance, as opposed to watching hours of videos showing the never-ending ocean
During the most exciting times, I was often hanging on for dear life, literally. I could justify a quick photo, whereas trying to hang on for a few minutes in big seas, with the boat rolling all over the place, knowing that if I went overboard, that is all she wrote, to take a video was beyond even my level of risk taking.
Currently, I am thinking that I want to finish the trip up to Alaska, then returning to the beginning in 2013, with some current Alaska stuff thrown in.
Feel free to leave comments, suggestions and whatever.
This entire spring, I have been dealing with electrical power issues, of course, like usual, mostly self-imposed. My Kadey Krogen 42 is a really well designed, well-built boat, but for the nut behind the wheel, all would be perfect.
This is what’s been happening.
Batteries. My four Yuasa 8D Sealed Lead Acid batteries, bought in Ireland 4 years ago, are shot. Each battery is 225 amp-hours (AH) but are down to about 10 AH each! That means that once 40 AH are out of the entire bank, the voltage crashes to under 11 volts.
Last fall and again this winter, hoping it was just one battery gone bad, pulling the others down, I separated each battery, let them rest and then checked each voltage. Normally it’s a good sign that they were all within a couple of hundredths of a volt, but in this case, it just affirmed that the entire bank was shot.
My first solution was to get and install an Automatic Generator Start (AGS). I found a Magnum on Amazon. An AGS starts the generator automatically at a certain voltage, in this case 12.0 volts. Once this was up and running, at least I didn’t have to wake up every three hours, check the voltage, go back to sleep for an hour or two, then get up to turn off the generator.
Now, the gen would come on automatically, run for the time I had set, in this case one hour. That would put enough charge back in the batteries for the next few hours.
The installation was relatively complicated because of my Westerbeke gen. It required using two additional relays (the AGS itself is essentially three relays).
About his time, somewhat unrelated to the batteries, I managed to short out my Heart Interface b y doing something really stupid.
We were connected to one 30-amp shore supply. To make life easier, I installed a jumper breaker switch so that I could power both circuits of the boat from the one source. It does mean we must manage our use, so if making hot water in the electric kettle, we must turn ff the water heater which itself uses 10 amps of 120 power.
I managed to blow up two of the mosfets in the Heart inverter by forgetting to disconnect this jumper or disconnecting the shore power, when I went to start the generator.
So, I was also in the market for a replacement inverter. I wanted a pure sine wave inverter to be able to run by 120v heating pad on my bed.
I ended up deciding on MPP Solar Inverters, I got two 1,000-watt inverters that normally run in parallel and thus provide 2,000 watts as needed. I can also sun them singly, giving me back up if needed. Also integrated into each unit is an 80 A MPPT solar panel controller.
On the battery side, I decided to try ONE LiFePO4 chemistry battery, that I would put together myself using four 3.2-volt cells (each 200 AH) and a Battery Management System (BMS). Total cost for the four cells, shipping and BMS was $600, though it took two months by boat from China to Seattle, then barge to Wrangell, Alaska.
The battery was relatively easy to set up. I’d spent much of the winter watching Will Prouses’s videos on YouTube and reading his forum.
The easiest solution seems to be to keep lead acid batteries in the system. So, in my case, I took out only one of the 8D’s and replaced it with the Lithium battery.
The new setup has been operational since June and has worked well and as anticipated.
I had to set a user custom charging program for my Balmar ARS-5 regulator. I also added a temperature sensor for the regulator to know the temperature of the alternator. I set the bulk charging to 60 amps and 120 minutes at 14.2 volts. Absorption I set to the minimum 6 minutes and Float to 13.3 volts.
Works like a charm. If we are on the hook, 12 hours overnight uses about 110 to 150 AH. Once we get underway, the alternator will put 60 amps into the batteries for the first two hours, then go to Float. LiFePO don’t like being kept fully charged, so the Float at 13.3 keeps them about 85 to 90% capacity while underway.
The MPP Inverter/charger works somewhat the same, but at least for now, though I did have to change the Bulk charging voltage from 14.2 to 14.6 volts to get it to go into Bulk charging if the batteries are at 50% since the voltage at 50% stays relatively high at around 13.00 v.
With this set up, now when out fishing for the day for days, we just run the generator for an hour or two in the morning and maybe one hour in early evening.
First, I’m still alive, though it was a close call. No, it wasn’t Covid-19, but something far worse, boredom.
I hate being bored and perversely, the less I do, the less I want to do. Thus, my creative energy that it takes to write these blogs or make YouTube videos seems to have gone into hibernation for the winter. Is it back now? Only time will tell, but since I’ve gotten a few emails asking if I was still alive, I thought I better get off my ass and write.
Second, also got an email complaining about the most recent appearance change on the blog I did a few months ago. They said it was harder to read because of the dark background. Honesty, I had noticed the same thing myself, but was hoping that I was the only one who noticed! See just lazy. Like hearing that strange noise in the middle of a passage and just hoping it goes away on its own (fat chance).
Tell me what you think of this new theme (background) and if anyone has any suggestions &/or improvements, I would be glad to hear them, though the easier they are for me to implement, the more likely it will happen.
Third, living on the Dauntless in the winter in Alaska is very different than crossing oceans or cruising to new and strange lands. More on this later, as it will be the topic in an upcoming blog.
Lastly, below is a blog I wrote mostly about the paravanes in 2016. I did write a summary of what I have done and the final paravane system setup. I will post that in the separate post.
While In Astoria, Oregon, last summer, I was finally able to get two new paravane birds. Over 25,000 miles and 5 years, I had left the USA with 4 paravane birds, two 26″ and two slightly smaller at 24″ (as measured at the base of the triangle of the bird). Going to 24″ was a mistake. I was so happy with the performance of the 26″ birds, I thought I would try the 24″ to see if they was as effective, but with reduced drag. Yes, just like a perpetual motion machine!
If I have learned anything over the last 6 years, it is that you can not escape the physical laws of the universe. Work (as in the physics definition of work as the product of Force and distance) perfectly explains the effectiveness of the paravane birds and the drag they produce.
Therefore, If I deploy just the windward bird (being the most effective), if it reduces the roll 80% of what both birds would do, then the drag will also be 80% of the total speed reduction had I deployed both birds. In the same way, the 24″ birds did not induce as much drag, but they also did not reduce the roll as much.
So, last summer, I decided to buy the 28″ birds, while in Astoria, at that glorious store, Englung Marine. With stores in the Pac NW, along the coast from Westport WA to Eureka, CA, it’s a must stop for any boater who wants the best bang for their buck.
I didn’t have a call to use them after the first day out of Astoria, but I did use them just the other day when we were returning to Wrangell from a a few days of cruising and fishing. The wind had picked up to mid to high teens from the south, producing a nasty very short period sea of 2 to 3 feet. With such a sea on the beam, this Kadey Krogen will get into quite a quick, deep roll of about 10 degrees to the lee and 5 or 6 to the windward.
Not terrible for what D and I have been through but a different story for the Vietnamese landlubbers. Also, the boat is set up for living aboard in port, not crossing the Atlantic, therefore, I deployed one bird immediately and was impressed how much the one 28″ bird suppressed the rolling.
An earlier post:
Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better
2019: This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.
June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer
While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster. Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.
Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.
But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.
It’s good Dauntless music.
But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba. And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.
But then he really made his name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.
I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.
Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him. From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.
That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months. There are still a few projects to complete. My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska. Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)
I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.
Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.
Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.
Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case. Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.
So in my case, I came up with 17 feet. This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.
So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side. Sounds like a no-brainer right? Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.
What could go wrong? Am I not being 50% safer? That’s what a politician would try to tell you.
No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.
In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear. While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.
But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow. The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.
Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down. If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.
Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up. Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water. Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.
So less is not always better.
And now, I will show you why more is not always better either. Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.
I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.
The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy. I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.
We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.
Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.
It’s amazing how what happens or doesn’t happen on the boat can make such a difference in my mood.
In some weird way, I am not that competitive with other people. In fact, in the workplace, I have always been a total team player, giving credit even when it isn’t due to others and being oblivious when it turned out I was the ONLY team player.
But I am very competitive with myself.
I beat myself up badly when things don’t go as planned. If I fix something that doesn’t stay fixed or can’t figure out what the problem is, leads to many sleepless nights.
It’s even worse when in trying to solve one problem, I cause another. This pretty much sums up my last 4 weeks.
But before we talk about that debacle, let’s talk about a little success.
Last year, I decided that one of my projects was to solve the leaking Jabsco Impeller pump issue.
It was leaking from the cover and because of its location, it leaks right on top of the steel engine mount frame that sits on the stringer. Saltwater on steel is not good.
Not a bad leak, like a drip, drip drip. The sea strainer had a similar leak from the top gasket. Annoying in its own way, because the route for that water was all the way to the front of the engine room on the outside of the stringer, thru the limber hole located there and then back to the bilge on the inside of the stringer.
This constant wetness causes mold and keeps the engine room damper than I like.
My attempts to stop the leaks only made them worse.
On the other hand, I had not had the impeller cover in more than two years. I’ve never really had any impeller problems.
I decided that this winter in Wrangell was the time to get these long-term problems done once and for all.
First step was to take the entire Jabsco pump/gear off the engine. That was relatively easy, though it took a call to a friend to confirm that I needed a little brute force disconnect to free the pump from the engine. A whack with my rubber mallet did the job. (I thought this was rather obvious and I hated asking someone, BUT I’ve had those thoughts before, and disaster ensued. I decided it better to be safe than sorry).
Took the pump to the local guy Tyler, who like before, took my little job of resurfacing the face and the cover of the bronze pump. I appreciate his doing so since his main job is making propeller shafts and very big bearings for the bigger boats and fabricating other things from stainless steel.
$20 later my pump was done, and I took it back to Dauntless.
Only took me a quarter of an hour to put it back on the engine. While this was going on, I also changed the anodes on the main heat exchanger and made a new neoprene gasket for the sea waster strainer.
A quarter of an hour is a bit of an exaggeration, in that it took me another week to find the neoprene gasket material that was stored someplace in the engine room. In my digging, I found some thicker material that was even better and moved the neoprene to a location where I would be able to find it easier. It did NOT need to be stored with those engine parts I will probably never use, like water pump, starter and Alternator.
Once everything was buttoned up, I started the engine, first letting it turn over for 15 seconds before actual start.
It felt so good to have the engine running again. This engine has gotten me over 25,000 miles in the last 7 years. I know it will never let me down.
The relief that flooded over me was unexpectedly powerful. No water leaks, no oil leaks when the pump is mounted to the engine. All was right with the world.
Now my bilge is relatively dry. Now I really don’t want a totally dry bilge. I like my bilge pump to activate a few times a week. With the slow drip from the stuffing box, the pump will go on for a second about twice a week.
With constant rain, it will go off once or twice a day, as water gets in the lazzerette hatch drain gutters, even though I cleaned those gutters and its drain.
Frequently use of every critical part or system is the best preventive medicine. That way when problems crop up, they are noticed immediately. A month ago, while I was having my heater issues (more on that next time), I turned on my forward A/C unit for the first time in more than a year. Of course, no joy.
It took a day of tracing wires and breakers before I finally found the main power plug under the helm had become disconnected. I would have found this much sooner had I been using the unit more frequently. But as happens, over a long period of time, as I change one thing or another, my first thought is that one of those changed was the problem. Therefore, I spent a lot of fruitless time looking at non-obvious stuff, before I found the simple solution.
So, that’s why I like an almost dry bilge. I want to know right away if there is a problem. If the bilge pump or level float (which triggers the pump) stops working, I will know in a few days or week, when I see more than a few inches of water in the bilge.
If the bilge was totally dry, I would never know, until I possibly had a major water inflow and then I would have to fix the problem immediately.
Use it or lose it.
Coming up next, the Wallas debacle or how one problem led to a bigger (more expensive) problem.
As I rounded Cape Flattery, I was careful not to take any shortcuts. After a full day at sea, it’s always tempting to cut that last corner, but I resisted the urge this time!
I went to sleep a little after 07:00 having just cruised 25 hours from Astoria Oregon. I was so glad to be done with the eastern Pacific and the almost constant head winds and seas.
Three hours later (I’ve known for many years that my natural sleep cycle is about 3 hours, so whenever possible I try to plan on getting 3, 6 or 9-hours sleep) I was ready to go.
Engine start was 11:15; I hauled my trusty Delta anchor and was underway by 11:30. Just before getting underway I was hit by a local’s 3-foot wake wave caused by him entering the harbor at 30 knots. I suppose that was my welcome to Washington State!
I was headed to Reid Harbor. An overnight stop there would allow me to leave early the next morning and get to Bedwell Harbor, the spot for Canada check-in.
The last time Dauntless was in Canada was in Nova Scotia 5 Years earlier.
Looking at the tides & currents, it was critical that I get in and out of Bedwell before 08:00. This would allow me to make the passage thru the narrow channels to Vancouver with the current, that was as strong as 6 knots.
There was another issue, Canada Customs. They have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. They seem to think every American:
Is armed to the teeth,
Is a druggie
Or wants to move to their socialistic paradise.
Now, while that may be true; it’s not me. And when I have
places to be, I get impatient the third time they ask if I have any guns, illegal drugs or why I have 50 bottles of wine (I was in France and it’s a long cruise!).
I didn’t want to take any chances with an overly officious officer. I wasn’t carrying anything illegal or planning on leaving anything in Canada, but sometimes they can be prickly, and I couldn’t afford to miss the favorable currents.
The Customs Office opened at 08:00; but that was too late for my currents, so I needed to be there by 07:00. That had the dual advantage that I could use the phone to check-in, and I could make the strong currents going north to get to Vancouver by mid-afternoon. (Yes, like too often, I had a time commitment).
I arrived in Reid Harbor at 22:15. 82 nm, and 11 hours after leaving Neah Bay at an average speed of 7.5 kts (1 knot current assisted).
While the sun had set an hour ago, it was maybe only 30 minutes after nautical twilight, so it was now dark, dark. There were a few boats already anchored around the bay, so I had to pick by way carefully in.
In fact, while getting ready to anchor in my first chosen spot, a house onshore, flashed lights at me. Not knowing what that meant, I moved a couple hundred meters south.
It was a great anchorage; a peaceful night and I was up bright an early at 05:00 ready to get underway for the short one-hour trip to Canada and Bedwell Harbor.
An hour and twenty minutes later, I was in Bedwell Harbor. It was easy to get in and out and had a very nice dock for boats to tie to for check-in into Canada.
I walked up the ramp, called the phone number above the phones on the wall and a nice lady in eastern Canada took my information (Name, passport number, boat information) and wished me a pleasant trip.
15 minutes after tying up, I was underway to Vancouver B.C.
The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.
And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.
So, more on those problems later.
Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.
Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.
Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.
As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless, 4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.
The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?
I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.
I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.
As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.
The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.
Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.
It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.
One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.
In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.
That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.
But then you all know that.
The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:
It’s been below freezing since the new year began. The first few days of the year were only in the mid-20’s, but for the last 10 days temperatures in Wrangell have stayed in the small range of 8° to 15°F (-13° to-8°C).
This is the coldest outbreaks Southeast Alaska has experienced in more than 10 years. The 5,000 ft temperature at Annette (the location of the rawinsonde) temperature of -21.9C is believed to be the coldest ever.
Dauntless and its denizens have fared ok. We have been able to keep the dock water running, which gives me one less thing to worry about. Should the dock water freeze, we can live of the water tanks in the boat for 6 days, but after that, it would fall on me to figure out how to replenish our water.
Like most teenagers worldwide, Thien just bundles up and accepts what is, without complaint. He, like I, looks at our trials and tribulations, like the adventures they are.
His mother is a bit more sanguine. When people around the world dream of living in America, Alaska is not part of that vision.
No, their vision is more like California, but without high taxes, high costs, countless regulations and homeless people. Warm weather all the time, friendly people, good schools.
Last night, we got pummeled by the Taku winds, cold air being pushed off the mountains to our east and roaring down the fjords. Juneau had winds last night as high as 90 mph. Here in Wrangell, at the dock on Dauntless, the most we have seen is 27 knots (30 mph). It does make for a ride that is a little bouncy, but I can put up with anything when tied to the dock.
Looks like our cold spell will be breaking by early next week. By this time next week, we should be back in the more normal pattern of southwest winds and rain. Which is good, since I won’t have to chip any ice.