What Not to Do

All’s Well that Ends Well.  Why do I repeat that so often?  To remind myself not to think of the pain and suffering caused by my own foolish behavior.  And besides, that’s the ONLY good thing I can take out of the last two days.

A Honfleur Pistachio Ice Cream Cone
A Honfleur Pistachio Ice Cream Cone My High Point of the Last Few Days

During the past few days, I broke about every rule I had vowed never to break:

  • Don’t enter a strange harbor at night
  • Don’t back up the boat to dock
  • Don’t enter strange marina at night
  • Don’t set out on a cruise with winds in your face from the get go
  • Don’t travel with current and strong winds in the opposite direction.
  • Repair little leaks before they get to be big ones
  • Move the fuel tank vents
  • Don’t let one problem lead to others
  • Do preventive maintenance things the day BEFORE departure
  • Run the fuel polisher while in port
  • Don’t delay in changing fuel filters as needed
  • Always do a visual check that all lines are clear when leaving dock
  • Don’t get a case of “get home-itis”
  • And if any of the above develop, pull into a port in the daytime and wait it out.

I did none of that.

Let’s rewind the tape and see why that happened.

Larry and Karla were leaving Dauntless for the gay lights of Paris and by coincidence; they were being replaced by someone from Paris, Pierre-Jean who had contacted me a few months ago, as he is really interested in Kadey Krogens.

Our goal was Vlissingen, in the southwest corner of Holland, about 190 nautical miles (210 sm, 350 km), 30 hours at just above 6 knots.

I had been looking at the weather for days, http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-2.69,50.52,3000

This surface wind chart at earth.nullschool.net is pretty much the only thing I look at.  It goes out 4 days and by clicking on any specific point, it provides the wind direction and speed for that point.

Now, listen carefully, when you go to your favorite weather site to get a specific forecast, with all pretty colors and forecasts every minute, all you are getting is the same information in a format that has been made to look attractive.  The danger is that those more specific forecasts give the impression of significance that does NOT exist.  OK moving on.

Sunday looked to be a good weather day, light winds, but the forecast for the coming days had steadily increasing northeasterly winds from Sunday night thru the end of the forecast period on Wednesday.

NE winds was our worst case scenario, as we had to go NE.  In addition, the currents in the English Channel are very strong, 3 to 5 knots, and we had already encountered even stronger currents, contrary winds and very steep standing waves just getting to Honfleur.  After that encounter, I had vowed never again.

Never lasted only two days.

Dauntless in Honfleur
Dauntless in Honfleur

I have found that 15 knots of wind is the magic number.  Below that speed, no matter the direction, seas stay small and travel is relatively easy. Above that speed, seas start building and the direction and currents start making a big difference.

Well, my forecast was right on.  Should have been easy.

Sunday looked to be the best day, light NE winds, increasing to NE at 10 to 15 knots Monday, increasing to 25 to 35 knots Monday night through Tuesday night.

We were leaving Honfleur at 8:30, the time the bridge opened to let us out of the inner harbor.  Then one hour down the Seine we would be turning NE ward just as the currents also revered to run NE.  Our ETA to Vlissingen was 04:00 Tuesday morning.  Now this would mean the last 10 hours would be into strong winds.  Pierre-Jean and I talked about the plan and figured if it got bad, we would just pull into French or Belgium port before it got too bad. But how bad could it be?

Famous last words.

Because I had not yet moved the fuel vents, I was diligent about feeding from the windward tank, as Dauntless rolls a bit more to leeward.  Having left Waterford with full tanks, the port side tank was finally about 5 inches less than full and therefore showing up on the sight tube.  So, I decided to leave Honfleur running on the starboard tanks, to level the boat.

When we had arrived in Honfleur, two days previously, the Fuel Polisher which had been running the whole time while underway, indicated 10” of Hg, which meant it needed to be changed.  I also noticed a little water in the bottom of the bowl.   So I wrote in my log to change the FP and the port side Racor filters.

I am still mystified why I did not do this before the Sunday departure.

We must be waiting in front of the bridge for the 8:30 opening.  I had started the engine and turned on the fuel polisher for the starboard tank at 08:00, we would use the starboard side Racor, which was new.

At 08:15, I do a last minute check in the engine room and decide that I would now change the two filters, thinking better late than never, though I hated the thought of starting my day smell of diesel.

Changing the two filters took about 5 minutes, so with 10 minutes to spare, our lines are cast off and I’m backing out of the slip, with my hands smelling of fuel, even though I had washed them three times.

I must have been distracted.

As we back out, all of a sudden, the bow starts swinging quickly to the right, towards the bowsprit of the two sailboats docked perpendicular to Dauntless.  Thinking that it’s wind driven, I quickly give a burst of left full rudder in forward to push the bow to port.  That works.  OK I try backing straight again, same thing happens at which point the sailboat folks are getting concerned.   I straighten the boat again and as I go to look, Pierre-Jean yells that there is still a line tied to the end of the finger pier to our stern.  Well, that explains that. We get the line untied and I pull out finally with no drama.

No, in reality the drama was just beginning.

To be Continued

 

Dauntless Summer Cruise 2015 Days 04 to 07, Trebeurden, Lezardrieux & Jersey

Trebeurden, a nice town, but we had to hike a mile uphill to see it.  Very touristy.  Not really my cup of tea, but especially for Larry and Karla, it’s nice to have a rest on terra firma.

What we Saw Coming in to Trebeurdan
What we Saw Coming in to Trebeurdan

After 10 months, I finally got the water maker up and running.  I had needed to replace the aux pump and wanted to rewire it a bit, to use a relay closer to the power source.  This also enables me to have a switch on the helm to turn it on and off.

I had done the electrical weeks ago, but the pump fitting were giving me fits.  Between national pipe thread (NPT), garden hose thread, plastic fitting, brass fittings, American fitting and European fittings, I was at my wit’s end.

I didn’t like the first solutions I had come up with which had made it look like something Rube Goldberg would have designed.  Finally in Trebeurden I found a coupler fitting and that led to an elegant solution.

The new auxiliary pump, centrifugal, is very quiet and made to run continuously. That’s thanks to Parks at Hopkins-Carter Marine in Miami.

Having to find a new dock in Miami last winter, while stressful at the time, ended up being the best thing ever. My helper, the other Richard, got to see some of the Miami boating environs and I ended up meeting some really helpful and nice people: Parks and my Nordy friends, Ed & Rosa.  A wonderful result on all accounts.

So Saturday morning, we got up and were underway to Jersey.  We didn’t make it.

An Old Lighthouse Light
An Old Lighthouse Light

For the first 4 hours, our average speed was 4 knots.  At that rate, we would get to Jersey the day after tomorrow. Not really but it felt like that.  So I decided to find an interim stop.  I did, Lezardrieux, promptly nicknamed, Lizardville.  As soon as we turned upriver to the town, about 5 miles, our speed shot up to 9 knots.  We arrived just in time to miss the lunch hours, meaning a wait until 19:00, 7:00 p.m., to eat.  I don’t like eating late anymore, convinced that part of my weight loss has been due to not having evening meals for the most part.

The forecast was for a storm to be moving through on Sunday, but you know me and forecasts.  I wanted to get to Jersey because the window of opportunity was getting ever smaller.  Therefore, we are underway now to Jersey, in moderate winds, 16 knots gusting to 25, but the seas are relatively flat, at 2-4 foot.  Yes, I have come to accept that 2-4’ is relatively flat.  Our roll has increased to 8°.

We now have a counter current, so although I am making the supreme sacrifice by running at 1800 rpms, where fuel burn is 2.0 gal/hr, our speed is still only 5.8 knots.  If my Navionics currents are correct, we should have a helpful current going our direction in the next two hours.

Our intended destination, St. Helier on the Island of Jersey, is a port that has a sill to come over.  The sill, like a cofferdam, keeps the water in the basin, otherwise the harbor would be dry at low tide but now, this means the harbor entrance is only open 3 hours on each side of high tide.  So, it’s also closed for 6 hours.  I’m running faster to try to get there before it closes.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.  But you can probably figure it out as it happens just by watching our route at the Share.delorme.com/dauntless website.

The Sill to the Marina Harbor
The Sill to the Marina Harbor, St. Helier, Jersey

Ummm, turns out I had rebooted the InReach and then did not realize it was not transmitting, so no joy that way.  However, I did get an email from MarineTraffic telling me Dauntless had arrived in Jersey!

The wind stayed out of the southwest until the final hour into Port St. Helier.  This meant the fetch was small and the waves stayed in the 2 and 3 foot range, with only an occasional 5 footer, in spite of the 15 gusts to 25 knot winds.  Just before landfall, the winds turned westerly and north westerly at 25 knots.  That combined with the much longer fetch, was immediately saw waves a few feet higher. All of sudden we were getting 6 foot waves on the port stern quarter.  That angle of incidence does make the roll more than usual, and we had one roll of 15°.  But not much more than a curiosity, as the port was in sight.

As we pulled into the harbor, I saw the three RED lights signifying the marina basin was closed.  Not only was it closed, but the water inside the marina was three feet higher than the water Dauntless was in.  We have tied up at the “waiting” dock.

So my tide calculation was only off by about 6 hours!  Se La Vie.

All’s Well that Ends Well

If you cannot find me via the Delorme, you can also try Marine Traffic, but a caveat.  If you google MarineTraffic Dauntless, please be aware that we are not:  The Greek bulk carrier, nor the Tugs in the UK and Singapore and not even the British war ship.

So if you are like I and are easily confused, just google “Marine traffic 367571090”, which is my MMSI number.

We went into town and had a great, early dinner.  I’m beat. So nighty, night.

Dauntless Summer Cruise 2015 Day 03 Scilly to France

We got up early to take advantage of the calm winds and little boat traffic.  Dauntless rolled a bit last night on the mooring ball, so I put the paravanes out.  They decreased the roll a bit, certainly dampened it, like shock absorbers on a car, but these particular fish (or birds) are made to be moving through the water for maximum effectiveness.

Cirrus South of Scilly
Cirrus South of Scilly

As we got south of the Scillies, I realized that while it was 90 nm to Plymouth, France was but 120 nm.   With fair skies and still under the influence of the Azores high, it made sense to me to press on across the channel to the continent.  I discussed our options with Karla and Larry and they concurred.  A direct route to France also meant we could avoid the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off the English Channel and the area north of Brest.

So instead of turning due east for Plymouth, we set off ESE towards the north coast of France.  The port of Trebeurden is our goal, with anticipated steaming time of 22 hours.

After a few hours of beautiful weather and looking at our expected arrival time, I decided to lower the engine rpms to 1500.  Not only will that save us about a half-gallon of fuel per hour, but our ETA would have been 04:00 at the faster speed, and is now, about 05:30.  A better arrival time, as it will be light.

It’s 18:00 now and as the day progressed diurnal heating produced some stratocumulus clouds and winds from the WNW at 15 gusting to 23.  So the almost flat seas we had in the morning, gave way to wind driven waves of 3 to 5 feet hitting Dauntless on her stern starboard quarter.  We have gradually increased our rolling from plus or minus 1 to 2 degrees to +/- 4 to 6°

Still, that’s half of what it was  for the last few hours of our cruise into St. Mary’s Harbor in Scilly.

For dinner, I made a tasty dinner of hamburger and crudité.   The hamburger ground by my butcher in Waterford.  It’s hard to imagine that I spent 8 months on and off in Waterford and now won’t be back for four months.  But I did meet an Irish sailboat in St. Mary’s.  We had gotten into a discussion about the “legs” on their boat which was beached on hard sand, held vertical on its keel by said legs.  That gave me some ideas of how I could make that work on Dauntless.  Probably just 4”x4”s with a notch for the rub rail, then bolted through the hawse pipe.  A project for next winter.  They were taking her to the west coast of Ireland and will winter over in Dingle, so I promised to come visit next winter.

Unlike yesterday, time today has seemed to fly by.  And yes, I kept the patch on.

For the past two hours I have been watching the parade of ships heading for the TSS north of Brest.  I have also managed to figure out the Raymarine radar a little better and finally noticed after two years that the gain also had an adjustment for wave state.  I could keep the gain much higher, if I also adjusted the wave state.  A win win.  And to think, some say I’m a slow learner! (win-win turned out to be tie-tie, as I adjusted it not to see waves, turns out it also didn’t see fishing boats).

The Dauntless Helm with Radar, Chart & AIS Information
The Dauntless Helm with Radar, Chart & AIS Information

A beautifully flat day, azure sky and sea, with just some mare tails cirrus. As the afternoon and evening progressed, the winds started picking up slowly, but surely.  By evening, increased westerly winds had produced 3 to 5’ waves and the roll was 6° to each side.  As one of the lessons learned from the Atlantic Crossing, I now run off the tank on the windward side of the boat.  The lee side seems to remain heeled for slightly longer times, so I don’t want the engine sucking water through the vents.  Yes, I had not gotten around to moving the vents yet.  I did think about it a lot though!

Under these conditions, it’s not an issue, and possibly only an issue under heavy seas with only paravane in the water.

I had also adjusted the ComNav Autopilot to be less sensitive, so that it made fewer corrections constantly.  I will have to call them someday and discuss if my interpretation by reading between the lines of their user manual is correct.  Basically, under open ocean conditions, meaning no need to keep a rigid heading constantly, I set the sea state to very high (rough seas), so that it doesn’t try to adjust heading every second.  Under these conditions, I will hear it operate every few (3 to 6) seconds.

Our Planned Apprach to Trebeurden
Our Planned Apprach to Trebeurden

On the other hand, under truly rough, 12+ seas, I set it to totally flat conditions, so that as soon as it senses the stern coming around it acts.  Then the adjustments are almost constant, but it does a great job of steering the boat through the worst conditions.  I have tried to hand steer under such conditions and frankly the ComNav does a better job.  In the 20+ foot seas on the last day into Ireland, as I cowered on the bench in the pilot house, the ComNav reacted so well, I never saw any green water over the rails.  Maybe I should ask them about a sponsorship!

During the early evening hours we had a little excitement as we were crossing the main eastbound traffic lanes.  While not in a TSS, the ships having come around Brest in the TSS 30 miles to our west, will reenter the TSS about 30 miles to our east.  Therefore they pretty much stay in the same track.  Makes it easier for us, as one can figure out where the main traffic lane is and the direction ships will be heading.

We only encountered a few west bound ships, but an hour north of the east bound lanes, our AIS and Coastal Explorer showed the parade of ships heading east.  They were cruising at 14 to 18 knots, while we were doing 6.5 knots.  That gave me plenty of time to plan our crossing.  There was only one ship that was a factor.  It was a big Chinese ship that the AIS said it was doing dredging operations (something must have gotten lost in translation), but to me looked to be one of those floating dry docks. Massive bridge at the bow and a massive stern and almost nothing in between.

What it really Looked like
What it really Looked like

I adjusted our course to be perpendicular to his course and I could see that he adjusted his course a few degrees to starboard also.  The picture is what CE depicted. The closest anyone got was about a mile, though later on we passed a fishing boat about a quarter mile away, but I had been watching him for more than an hour so…

By midnight winds were westerly at 15 gusting to 22, seas 4 to 6 feet and roll 7°. This kept up until we reached the harbor.

Dawn was breaking as we approached.  We had to stop to get the paravanes in, while it only took a few minutes, it was disconcerting to be stopped just hundreds of feet from the large rocky outcrop.  So I was much relieved to get underway again even though Dauntless hardly drifted at all.

Previously, I had carefully plotted a course into the basin based on our pilot charts, and my C-Map and Navionics charts.

The Basin Entrance with Underwater Sill
The Basin Entrance with Underwater Sill

But the reality ended up being a bit different. Our planned path was full of moored boats. So on to Plan B, I kept our speed just above idle, about  4 knots, to minimize the damage if we hit anything.  I picked up the three green lights our pilot charts told us meant the gate was open.  But our pilot chart had also told us the gate was always open during neap tides and as I remembered seeing the waxing (light on the right) quarter moon last night, I knew it was a neap tide.

The Gate We Passed Through. D is just past the gate on the left.
The Gate We Passed Through. D is just past the gate on the left.

Creeping slowly forward, the sign board seemed to indicate 2.5 meters, but always leery that I am missing the obvious, I was still worried about the mysterious sill.  We passed over the sill into the marina basin and didn’t scrape anything, but it was an anxious moment.

A big assed catamaran was on the one available “T”.  I went past him to see if we had any options, we didn’t.  I turned around and headed for a slip just inside the gate.  The slip is short, only 20 feet, so our rear half is hanging out.

The wind was behind us, so that was a bit of a mistake, it made the docking more stressful then it needed to be, but finally, 23 hours after engine start at St. Mary’s, we were finished with engine and had landed on the “continent” for the first time by boat.

Dauntless at Dock
Dauntless at Dock
The Trebeurden Harbor from Above
The Trebeurden Harbor from Above. Dauntless is docked in the basin to the left, out of the Frame.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Closeup of Our Crossing
Closeup of Our Crossing. Those are 30 minute Heading Vectors.

 

Maretron Data for the Previous 24 hours.  The Telltale says the Highest wind was  24 Knots, but I reset that frequently.
Maretron Data for the Previous 24 hours. The Telltale says the Highest wind was 24 Knots, but I reset that frequently.

 

 

 

Summer Adventure 2015 Begins

Yesterday.

We got up at the crack of dawn so  to be able to start engine at 06:15. The last line was thrown off at 06:45 and our Summer Adventure officially began.

Today, Sunday, 24 May, 2015, I awoke to the visage of Claudia III out the salon window, quite a change from Waterford.  But how did we get here?

THe Krogen's Salty Bow
The Krogen’s Salty Bow & a Few Irish Boats

Casting off yesterday morning, with our bow pointed into the flooding tide, Dauntless left Waterford with hardly a ripple.  A little left rudder, forward gear at idle, she glided smoothly into the oncoming 2 knot current.

I can’t begin to tell you the feelings of getting underway, cleaving the bonds that tied us to a particular place.  The steady purr of the engine, the big wheel turning a big rudder, Dauntless becomes frisky. Krogens are made to roam the seas and can bring their lucky owners to virtually any place they dare to go.

We had arranged to go to the New Ross Boatyard for haul out.  12 months and 4,000 miles after our last haul out, I figured it was time again.  The Waterford boatyard’s lift was too narrow for our Krogen, but they recommended the New Ross Boatyard.  Our departure from Waterford was predicated on two factors:  the need to depart into the current and the necessity to arrive at New Ross close to high water. That meant an hour downstream against the current and then an hour upstream with the current.  Turned out there was also a swing bridge to traverse, but we had three feet to spare.

On the Hard in the New Ross Boatyard
On the Hard in the New Ross Boatyard

Arriving at the boat yard, with a two knot current still running, made for an exciting entrance, finally on the third attempt, Dauntless was safely cradled in the lift.

The bottom was in much better shape than I had anticipated.  The previous haul out, half the anti-fouling paint was gone.  This time, there were just small areas where the old ablative paint was showing through.  So we, actually Karla and Larry, spent the rest of the afternoon touching up our bottom.  Now it looks a bit like a moth eaten leopard, but only the fish will know.

The two zincs were half gone.  I replaced the one on the rudder.  The one of the shaft is a combination steel cutter attached to a clamp on zinc anode.  It costs only $62.  It’s the second one I’ve put on and it works wonderfully.  Half eaten, it tells me it’s doing its job and no pieces of line wrapped around the shaft as had happened in the past. I got it from the Zinc Warehouse,

http://www.zincwarehouse.com/shaft-anodes/salca-line-cutter-3.html.

It’s about half gone, but I did not have a replacement, I’ll buy in bulk the next time.

We’re ready to go back in the water, but today is Sunday, so we will have a day of rest and just small jobs.  I must service and grease the Ideal Windlass and probably replace one of the solar panel controllers.

Dauntless Gets a Light Touchup
Dauntless Gets a Light Touchup

The Delorme InReach is now on, and my intention is to keep it on until Dauntless returns its 2015-6 winter home October 1st.  Therefore, you can find us at, https://share.delorme.com/dauntless  But unlike the Atlantic Passage, since we will have somewhat normal email and cell, I have alimited plan in the number of text messages I can send or recieve.  So, if you want to contact us, the best option is email, wxman22@gmail.com, or cell phone.

If there is not a current update on the InReach, either the boat has sunk or I have neglected to charge the InReach.

Thanks for coming along with us.

Dauntless as She Came Out of the Water
Dauntless as She Came Out of the Water
Cutter on the left, abuts the Prop. SALCA 2000 Anode is half gone
Cutter on the left, abuts the Prop. SALCA 2000 Anode is half gone
THe Krogen's Salty Bow
THe Krogen’s Salty Bow
The Krogen Prop and Rudder after 12 months and 4,000 miles
The Krogen Prop and Rudder after 12 months and 4,000 miles
Old and New Anodes (Zincs)
Old and New Anodes (Zincs)

 

 

Winter Work Almost Done

We took a half hour cruise yesterday, first time Dauntless has moved since my arrival October 1st.

Sunset in Waterford with the Moon and Venus Looking on.
Sunset in Waterford with the Moon and Venus Looking on.

It felt so good to be out on the water, if only on the River Suir, in front of Waterford.  As you can see from the pictures of our docking situation, I needed to wait to leave the dock until we had a current against us.

So we untied and left the dock about a half hour before low tide.  Did a few figure 8’s, just to test all the systems.

No leaks, no problems, no strange odors or noises.

The Lazarette is empty and clean for the first time thanks to Larry.

The Lexan storm windows are cleaned with new rubber gaskets applied in a far more systematic way then previously, thanks to Karla.  I like the insulation they provide in these cool climates.

D is good to go.

Current plans will be to depart Waterford early Saturday morning, as we will be going to a boatyard at New Ross, one hour down river, two hours up another river, for haul out.

Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be ready to

Waterford Sunset
Waterford Sunset

leave Tuesday at latest to begin our summer adventure.

Sunset
Sunset
Richard in an empty, clean Lazerette
Richard in an empty, clean Lazarette

Dauntless Crosses the North Atlantic – The Post Mortem

The crux of a successful ocean passage

Providence Rhode Island to Castletownbere, Ireland:

Morning of the Last Day
Morning of the Last Day
  • 3624 nm, 6523 km.;
  • 638 running hours
  • Average speed 5.7 knots
  • 1013 gallons of fuel consumed
  • Average = 1.59 gal/hr.
  • Average 3.6 nm/gal= 1.7 km/liter
  • Cost of fuel $4000
  • Cost per nm = $1.1/nm

Stuff that broke: Four Stories and lessons Learned

  • The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga
  • The Mast Cleat Adventure
  • The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Hijinx
  • Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going

Other Lessons learned

Evening of the 27th, the Storm Intensifies Again
Evening of the 27th, the Storm Intensifies Again The Past 4 Days of Pitch and Roll
  • Food and Provisioning
  • Route Planning and Execution
  • Organization and Storage of Spare Parts
  • Odd and Ends
  • Solo Voyaging
  • Equipment: Must-haves, Nice-to-Haves

The crux of a successful ocean passage

I first wrote this “Post Mortem” 8 days after the end of our passage, but never published it because I realized it had morphed into many things. Thus there will soon follow a post titled, “Finding the Right Boat” and “Weather or Not”, where I talk about how to, and how not to, use a weather forecast.

Our successful ocean passage was the culmination of a planning process that started 6 years earlier and four years before we even had a boat.  The success was due two major things: finding the right boat and having the right attitude.  Having the right boat protects fools and drunks. Having the right attitude means you know what to except, from the best to the worst.  If your plan is to call the Coast Guard under the “worst” circumstances, stay home.

During the worst of it, while I was miserable, I was not afraid.  I knew the Krogen could handle it and even realized she can handle much worse.

Afternoon of the Last Day
Afternoon of the Last Day

The planning  and learning process is key to a successful passage.  As I had read virtually every account of small boats crossing oceans and books and stories of freighters throughout the 20th Century, I had a good sense as to what worked and what didn’t.  That can’t be overstated because it speaks to our vision and that’s the first step of a successful passage.  So this trip really started seven years ago, before I knew of Kadey Krogen, trawlers, or really anything.

But first, our passage is really not that special.  People have done the same thing in in smaller boats, in far worse conditions, with many more handicaps.  Almost everything I have learned and talk about, I first read someplace else, by someone with far more experience than I will ever have.  Just remember that Columbus did the round trip more than 500 years ago, with three boats that were only 10’ to 17’ longer than Dauntless.

If you’re reading this, you probably read the details of the trip as it happened, or soon thereafter.  So for this entry, I’m going to talk about what we learned in hindsight for the next ocean passage.

Stuff that broke: Three Stories and Lessons Learned

The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga:

An operator-induced failure.

Only a day after I left Miami with the new paravanes, while I adjusted the fore stays, I had also adjusted the up-down stays, Amsteel Blue 3/8”, which take the vertical loads of the paravane fish.  I had not fully locked them tight on the horn of the cleat upon completion.  I probably thought I would re-adjust them once more and then simply forgot.  So, while they were wrapped in a figure 8 three times on the cleat on the mast, I had not “locked” it on the horn.  Amsteel Blue is slippery enough that if not locked securely with at least 3 or 4 half hitches, they will get loose.

And that’s what happened.  The Figure 8 got loose, thus letting the pole swing from its position of 45° to almost straight down, 170°.  The rub rail, stopping the pole from facing straight down. This put a kink in the pole where it bent around the rub rail.  Not a bad bend, but just enough to significantly weaken the pole.  In trying to get the pole back to its original position, I took out the retaining bolt that would keep the pole in its cup that is attached to the gunnel.  But I still couldn’t get the pole out, so I eventually got it back to position, but now, the retaining bolt was not in place.  I knew it wasn’t needed because all the force on the pole is into the cup, not outward, but months later, it did contribute, if not cause the pole to subsequently bend into an “L” shape.

So on the last day of the trip during one big roll within 60 miles of Ireland, the same windward pole went vertical.  However, the kink in the pole, even though very slight, allowed the paravane bird to put a force on the pole that rotated the pole 90° with the absence of the retaining bolt,  so that the kink now faced aft.  As soon as that happened, the force the bird put on the pole bent the pole 90°, and of course, now this allowed the pole to come out of the cup, making its retrieval even harder.

An hour later, after sitting dead in the water for that time, I had managed to get the pole up on deck.  In my adrenaline rush, I never noticed how well the boat handled being left on its own, wallowing in the seas with its beam to the seas, which were running 8 to 15 feet at that time.  In hindsight, we were bobbing in the ocean, with less roll than when underway.

Lesson Learned:

Replace bent stuff and all hardware before leaving on an ocean passage.

John Duffy, who had rigged the paravane system, told me to replace it, as the bend would significantly weaken it.  I also probably did not mention that I had taken the retaining bolt out and had not replaced it, as the pole had rotated slightly, not allowing the bolt to be re-inserted.

The pole was replaced in Castletwonbere for 300 Euros.  All the hardware is back in place.

The Mast Cleat Adventure:

A day out of Nova Scotia, as we sat in the Pilot House enjoying the world go by our living room window, we heard a noise that sounded like a gun shot.  Knowing that no one on board was packin,’ I looked at the mast and saw immediately that the cleat holding the up-down line was now horizontal instead of vertical.

We chopped power to relieve the strain and I ran up to the fly bridge, though taking the time to put on my PFD (Personal Flotation Device, a life preserver).  One of the two 3/8” bolts attaching the cleat to the mast had broken.  Not wanting to spend a lot of time to try to re-attach the cleat, I tied the up-down line around the mast in a number of clove hitches and then tied it off to the other mast cleat.  This way, much of the force on the line, instead of being transmitted to the cleat, would now be manifested in trying to squeeze the mast.

Lesson Learned:

This new system worked so well that while in Horta, I redid both up-down lines, so that they came to a three clove hitches around the mast, before being tied off on the cleat, with a final half hitch on the horn of the cleat for each line.

John Duffy in Miami designed and installed a great paravane stabilization system, which is not only relatively light-weight, but also easily adjustable and cost-effective.

While in Ireland, I also added one more feature:  I had had another winch installed in Florida to assist in retrieving the paravanes.  In Ireland, I also replaced the lines on the winch with 3/16” Amsteel Blue lines that I had gotten, 300 feet at a really bargain price from Parks, of Hopkins- Carter in Miami.  By using this new, stronger line, it added an extra margin of safety, because it is strong enough to hold the paravanes while underway should I have a failure of the up-down line as described above.  It would also allow me to retrieve the paravanes, even if the boat is not at a full standstill.  This would be fast and useful, in case of emergency.

This was the first and last time I put on the PFD on this passage.

The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Highjinx

Another operator-induced problem.

After the failure, a few days from the Azores, the pressure switch failed.  After screwing with the pump for a while, I just bypassed the pressure switch and the pump went back to work. A day later the entire pump gave up the ghost.  I discovered by reading the instruction manual that I had installed the pump upside down, with the electrical parts under the pump itself.  Evidently, you should not do that because if the pump has minor leaks, it gets into the electronics right away.

Lesson Learned:

It behooves one to read installation instructions before the fact, not after.

THe Previous 12 Hours of rockin and rollin Before Arrival.  Notice I had changed the Scale to 32°
THe Previous 12 Hours of rockin and rollin Before Arrival.
The Scale is 24° to Each Side

Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going

On the Left,Taken from  the Stbd Side Fuel Tank, a Mixture of Water and Emusified Water and Fuel
On the Left,Taken from the Stbd Side Fuel Tank, a Mixture of Water and Emulsified Water and Fuel. On the Right, Fuel from the Port Tank

I have finally deduced that the water, around 5 gallons, got into the starboard fuel tank during the last 36 hours of the trip thru the fuel vent line.  How do I know this?  After I replaced the O-rings of the fuel caps, while the old rings were worn, there is no way a significant amount of water could have entered that way.  In addition, the water was only in the starboard, lee side tank.

Up until this time, Dauntless had been in seas almost as rough, though not for this extended length of time.  But even if only for 8 hours, no water had ever entered the tank before in our previous 2000! hours of cruising.

What was different this time?

  • A much longer time of seas on the beam, three and a half full days, with 54 out of 72 hours, being in large 15+ foot waves.
  • The last 12 hours, with the failure of the windward paravane pole, the boat remained heeled over to port for a longer period of time, as the recovery was slower.
  • While all the above was going on, for reasons that were just chance, I had been running on the port (windward) tank, which was now near empty, thus for the last 2 days of the passage, we were feeding off the port (lee) side tank.
  • Thus, just when the port tank was being used, the boat was heeling more to port, thus keeping the fuel vent which is at deck level under water for a significant portion of time.

My Conclusion:

The lee side tank sucked in the water thru the fuel vent.  Had I been using the other tank, in all likelihood, this would not have occurred.

Afgter Arrival.  I also Changed the Scale to 32°, so This shows my LAst 12 Hours of the Passage
After Arrival. I also Changed the Scale to 32°, so This shows my Last 12 Hours of the Passage. Sorry for the poor quality. I was shaken, but not stirred.

I will move the fuel vent hose, so that this can never happen again.

In addition, I will make it a practice to use the windward tank under such conditions.  I could have easily transferred fuel to the starboard tank while underway.  It was just chance that I had filled the starboard tank in Horta and I therefore used that fuel first, since I knew my fuel in the port tank was good.

Other Lessons Learned

Food and Provisioning:

Maybe from reading too many books written by frugal sailors, my provisioning could have been better.  I had too many things I don’t eat, like rice and beans,  and not enough of what I do eat.  I still have enough calories on Dauntless to feed a family in Africa for 2 years.  No, I do not really know what I was thinking.

We should have had a bit more lettuce.  Romaine lettuce in those packages of three lasts for a few weeks in fridge.

Eggs.  Julie likes eggs.  I forgot she really likes eggs.

Mayonnaise, to make egg salad with all those eggs.  I like egg salad.

Route Planning and Execution:

Good job with planning.  Very poor execution.

Not having the paravane stabilizers for the first 3,000 miles of cruising with Dauntless made me very sensitive to the direction of winds and waves.  The Krogen handles following seas exceedingly well.  Thus I carried that mentality with me on this passage.  I made too much of an effort to keep the seas behind us and off the beam, thus our northeasterly course leaving Cape Cod and our southeasterly course leaving Nova Scotia.

In hindsight, it was an overreaction in both cases.  That continued with my solo voyage from Horta, with the zigzag of day three, first NW, then SE then after 24 hours of stupidness, northward.

In the future, I will let the paravanes do their job and keep a course more directly (great circle route) to our destination.  In fact, while I did not record the data, my feeling now is that the rolling of Dauntless is about the same with the paravanes, whether the sea is following or on the beam.  Without the paravanes, there is a night and day difference.

Organization and Storage of Spare Parts:

I’m grateful that I didn’t need to use any spare parts.  But the haste in which we left, meant we obtained a lot of stuff at the last minute.  It was put away, with only a general idea of what was where.  Had I needed anything, I would have found it eventually, maybe even by the time, the westerly winds pushed us all the way to Europe, a month or two later.  At least I would not have starved.

This winter has been spent re-packing virtually all parts and tools.  In addition I have a written inventory, with location, storage bin, model numbers etc.  Before the next passage, it will even be computerized.

How did I decide what spare parts to take or not?

This turns out to be relatively easy.  I picked those parts I could both afford and could replace myself.  So, we had an extra starter, even though i had no intention to ever turn off the engine.  We had an extra alternator.  i did not have a spare injector pump, too expensive.  Except for the fuel injector pump, I had all the other external engine stuff: injector tubes, hoses, belts, lift pump, etc. We had extra hoses, belts, etc for every critical component.  Therefore, we had nothing extra for the generator, since I don’t use it underway.  We had no internal engine parts, pistons, etc, becuase while I could probably replace it while docked, it was not something I could see myself replacing underway.  But also, that is not a typical failure point of the engine.  Internal stuff usually shows signs of wear for a long time before failure.

Odds and ends:

If I have not talked about it above, we ain’t changing it.

  • That means stuff like the DeLorme InReach will not be changed. We like the limitations that system imposes.  I don’t need to call mom when the shit hits the fan.
  • Probably will add some redundancy to the ComNav Autopilot. Unlike a sail boat, we cannot tie the wheel and expect to go in any semblance of a straight line; I tried.
  • One of my issues has always been that in a seaway, there can be no noise of moving objects in the boat. Moving things can cause damage in and of themselves, and must be controlled.  So, even at 40° of roll, every few minutes, during the worst of it, I heard no crashing or banging of stuff.  Everything must be secure.
  • Need more recorded movies and Korean Dramas. They really help to pass the time.  Yes, one can tire of just reading.  When I was alone, I got really bored.
  • On the other hand, I did back in to computer card games. Bridge in particular, yes, I am of a generation that learned bridge.

Solo Voyaging 

I hope to never do another 10 day passage alone again.  But I will if I have to.

Having said that, the next passage next year, will be part of a much longer voyage and we will be pretty much under way for 18 months.  With Julie working, I will need a lot more help during the many segments the trip will entail.  I will put it out there on Trawler Forum seeking those who want to be a part of the experience and maybe even share some expenses and I’m sure some shenanigans.

Must-haves, Nice-to-Haves

Must Have Nice to have
Paravane Stabilizers Four 110W Solar Panels and two Controllers
Lexan Storm Windows Coastal Explorer
C-Map North Atlantic and Western Europe Charts Boat computer and router
Digital Yacht AIS Transceiver Master’s License
Katadyn 160 Water maker Vitrifrigo Freezer and Refrigerator
Delorme InReach text only sat phone Splendid Vented Washer/Dryer Combo
Spare parts for the Ford Lehman SP135 Engine  
Other Spare parts  
Revere Off Shore Commander 4 person Life raft  

Here are a few more pictures and videos.  The file name incorporates the date time the file was recorded, thus 20140827_1927  means it was recorded 27 Aug 2014 at 19:27 (7:27  p.m.) hours.

Thank you for your patience

And Yes, this was and is our first boat:-)

Three Months, Two Weeks, Four Days, Seven Hours, Five Minutes & Six Seconds

That’s how long the Pilot House Reorganization has taken. It’s finally done, as these pictures will attest.  I threw away four trash barrels of junk and packing material.  I repacked all of my tools, spare parts and associated fasteners and bits and pieces.

wpid-20150414_133307.jpg
Front of the Pilot House

I have listed everything and where it is and what it is packed in.

My goal was not only to know where to find stuff should I ever need it, but also to make the engine room in particular, less prone to floating debris, should a disaster ever take place.

The last step will be to organize the lists on the computer, so when the shit hits the fan, I’m not leafing thru my hand written sheets, trying to figure out what I wrote and of course, not seeing the one item I am looking for.

This also means that Dauntless is finally ready to move.  Next week, she will move ¾ mile up river to the boat yards, where her nice round bottom will be cleaned and painted.  A bottom I know well, as its very efficiency has allowed this entire adventure and the greater adventures to follow.

Lastly, to be more diligent than the last time, I have scheduled the next Pilot House Reorganization in my Samsung Note calendar for April 12, 2035.

Yes, you read it right. 20 years from now and if I am a lucky person, I’ll die just days before !

 

Starboard side under helm
Starboard side under helm
Port side Helm Station. Computer, Maretron, Router, AIS on upper shelf. Lower shelf has bins of my most used electrical parts
Port side Helm Station.
Computer, Maretron, Router, AIS on upper shelf.
Lower shelf has bins of my most used electrical parts

Dauntless Cruise Plan – Baltic 2015

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

Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan
Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just What Have I Been Doing for the Last Few Months?

20150305_143615
Packed Storage Bins

Since December, besides travelling to England, Italy, Spain and the U.S., I have been organizing tools and spare parts.  I am making a computerized list of each part, their storage location, as well as any significant information, such as model number, etc.

Having also reorganized my tools and fasteners, clamps, etc., my life will be so much easier, and as an added bonus, I was able to throw away two garbage cans of packing materials.

Though I am returning to Dauntless today, I shall return to NY at the end of April for two weeks. Dauntless will be hauled out and have her bottom painted again while I am in NY.  Then I will be joined by Larry, a friend of over 40 years, who I met on T-3.  With that extra set of hands, we will complete the last of the winter projects.

What’s left to be done:

  1. Replacing the Raritan toilet processing tank,
  2. Installation of the Wallas DT40 heater
  3. Installation of a 30,000 BTU “Bus” heater, which will use engine heat to heat the two cabins while underway,
  4. Recommissioning the Katadyn water maker
  5. General clean up

In my Next post, I will publish the updated Cruise Plan.

On another topic.

I made a new post on my other blog, Refeldtions, titled Another World Leader Appreciates the United States of America.

A great story that was in yesterday’s Opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, 21 March 2015, President Sisi of Egypt tells of a different reality than we are accustomed to hearing, day in and day out.

I thought it was important to share. If interested, the link is:  richardbost.wordpress.com

 

Lessons Learned Living on a Boat in Northern Europe

So far, as I learn something new every day;  I’m sure to keep on learning and  even on my last day on Earth,  I know I’ll learn something new;  like how I die!

Having kicked the cans down the road of Greece and the Ukraine, we can now talk about boats again.

So, what have I learned up to now living on Dauntless in Northern Europe:

Waterford has turned out to far exceed my expectations and at this point, it is hard to think that I could find a better place anywhere in Europe for next year.  I have 10 minute walk to the bus that whisks me to the airport in Dublin for only 20 Euros.  In NYC, it takes 90 minutes to go 12 miles and that includes three train changes, which means many staircases, up and down. (We got a man to the moon 50 years ago, but NYC still cannot keep an escalator running more than a day or two before it breaks down for three months).

The Waterford City Marina, being right downtown, has given me the best of all worlds.  On one hand, I am five minutes from downtown and only a 15 min walk to my favorite bakery and butcher.  Yet the dock itself is very secure with a gate that is electronically activated, but it also has a chain and lock, making it really secure.  The first few times I left Dauntless for any length of time, I was really nervous, but now only a little bit.

The people in Ireland are very nice, like Midwesterners, but with a NY attitude, meaning they are loud,  talk fast and curse a lot, and really nice in doing it and helpful all the time.

Having Julie in NY, Dublin is only a 6 hour plane ride away and the tickets are about 60% of the cost of flying to the continent.  So it’s terribly convenient and already, while I like exploring new places, for our next and last winter in Europe, I will be hard pressed to find someplace that has all that Waterford and Ireland offer.

I’m fluent in the language, for the most part.  There have been a few times, that not understanding something and having them repeat it three times, I am still clueless and just hope for the best at that point.  The first time this happened, one of the passengers on the bus could tell that I did not understand and explained in words I could understand.

I haven’t gotten run over yet crossing the street, only because I look in both directions three, that’s 3 times, before I step off the curb.  And every time I do, I think of all of those who thought crossing the Atlantic was dangerous.  I’m far more likely to die crossing the street here.

The Lexan storm windows that Julie, Richard and I made and installed in the last days and hours in Rhode Island, have really made a difference.  While on the ocean they gave us peace of mind, since I have been here, I am so pleased that they really insulate the boat.  Dauntless is far warmer, having the double pane up.  In addition, I so not have any condensation problems, as the glass windows stay just warm enough.  Two of the storm windows in the pilot house are 4 inches short, and it that one spot, I do get some condensation on really cold days.  Well, I did, but have not seen any in two months.

Even without the Wallas heater, this Krogen stays warm and dry.  I have been using a little 2000 watt electric heater when I am on the boat.  But I have been so pleased that I do not have the dampness and condensation problems I have read about by many who live on their boats in the winter.

I have like 10 lines on the boat, all 5/8” thick.   The Fastnet boat docked behind me, a steel boat used to ferry crew to the oil platforms, about the same size as Dauntless, has 4 lines, and they are not even ½”, probably 3/8”.

I suppose that’s the difference between docking a boat that is also our home and a work boat.

 

 

Dauntless in Horta in the Winter 2015 Kadey Krogen journal, Waypoints

Let’s get back to rocking and rolling on Dauntless.

Dauntless an Pico on the one day of the year, the moon rises over the peak
Dauntless an Pico on the one day of the year, the moon rises over the peak

I am posting the link to a nice article of our trip that was just published in the Kadey Krogen journalWaypoints.

If you can’t tell, it’s the most recent one, with Dauntless docked in Horta along the famous wall with the Volcano Pico in the background.

 

Waypoints Magazine

 

Moon Rising over Pico
Moon Rising over Pico

A Perspective

Yesterday evening, the 5th of February 2015, as I gazed out the window watching the traffic flow along the quay of Waterford the realization struck me as to how much has changed in just one year.

Looking out the Salon Window onto the Quay of Waterford, Ireland
Looking out the Salon Window onto the Quay of Waterford, Ireland

Last year at this time, I had just returned from the Bahamas, had crossed the dreaded Gulf Stream, this time alone and was docked at my friend’s Paul house.

Now I had set up Paul and Chantal, my crewmate, as they seemed a very good match.  The problem was I lost a reliable crewmate and as it turned out, Paul got weirder and weirder and I still not understand what happened.

But Dauntless was in Miami to have a lot of work done in preparation of the upcoming Atlantic Passage coming up in July.  I had thought I had found a rigger and fabricator who would do the paravane stabilization system and I was waiting in very nervous anticipation for that work to start, as it was something that had to be done before our passage and they had given me a price I could afford, though I still had to manage my meager resources well.

So it’s early February, I had no help and all this work (buy, make, install) had to be done on the boat before we left and time was running out:

  1. Fabricate and install the paravanes,
  2. Replace current fridge and freezer with 12 volt system,
  3. Solar panels,
  4. Water maker,
  5. Replace the depth sounder,
  6. 12 v boat computer and 12v monitors,
  7. New navigation system and chart plotter,
  8. AIS transceiver,
  9. Replace one VHF antenna repair the other
  10. Get a life raft,
  11. Maretron system for environmental and navigation data,
  12. European, Canadian and Atlantic charts,
  13. Spare engine parts, alternator, injection pipes, water pump,
  14. 15 Lexan storm windows to make and install,
  15. Replace 112 bungs in the teak deck,
  16. Paint the cap rail, sand the rub rail,
  17. Get a bicycle,
  18. New Anchor
  19. Get my Captain’s license (handy in Europe)

 

Miami, behind Hopkins-Carter
Miami, behind Hopkins-Carter

And I knew even once all of this was done, we still had to cross 3,000 miles of the North Atlantic.

Now, I had been reading, reading and reading, asking folks stuff on Trawler Forum, but the hard part was actually deciding on this versus that.  Why that life raft and not this one.  As the time crunch got crunchier, it became easier only because it was time to shit or get off the pot, as my mother would say.

But even now, I look at that list in amazement and also proud that I, we, got it done.  It would not have happened without the help and support of some new friends.

In March, Richard (not me, another Richard), who I had met in the marina in Providence, came down from Rhode Island and spent a month with me doing a lot of different jobs.  I so appreciated his company and work and Dauntless still shows his efforts.  He also helped to get me focused and on track.

I had also moved the boat to a little pontoon just behind Park’s store, Hopkins-Carter Marine.  This also turned out to be a Godsend in that, when the paravanes were finally being built, I had a store one minute away that had all the extra things I needed every hour.

Finally the paravanes were done and I hightailed it to Ft. Pierce, where David spent two weeks installing the fridge, freezer, solar panels and water maker.

The rest of the work was done in the coming months as I returned to Providence, where in the last days before departure, Richard again came to the rescue and got my Lexan cut to size and then, finally, only three hours before departure, Julie and I finished installed the Lexan storm windows.

And the rest is history.

So, as I sit here in a warm cozy Kadey Krogen a year later, I’m in Europe, our goal of the last 7 years, the worst problem I seem to have is that in sorting and cataloging spare parts and reorganizing everything, I’ve discovered that I have 4 soldering irons.

Even though we have a few more oceans to cross and many miles to go; it’s all downhill from here.

Life is Good.