As I laid myself down in bed, this intense loneliness came over me. Hadn’t talked to any friends in a few days, and was reminded again that so far the only down side of this boating, moving home life, is being seemingly cut off from those close to me at times.
And as I’ve lamented before, even those close to me seem fewer, are fewer.
But then as I write this, being objective, I am forced to remember the wonderful times I just had in Italy: an abundance of time, connecting with those whom I have known more than half of my entire life, the true intimacy of friendship. People I can be so open with, because they have truly seen the good, the bad and the ugly in my life. But I wasn’t thinking of that last night.
No, last night, I had a terrible headache and just thinking about why seemed to make it worse, as it usually does. Especially since I knew it was due to drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate.
Then finally I said enough of the pity party.
I’ve just a wonderfully hot shower, I lying in a warm, cozy bed and I have enough fuel to go 2300 nm, 4000 km, that’s all the way to Nova Scotia, or north of the Yuzhny Island (Banana Island for those in the know), or the Cape Verde Islands, or the west coast of Africa.
The world is my oyster and I only have to open it.
So, give yourself a pat on the back and go to sleep.
And this morning the Lyric FM, a wonderful Irish classical music station,
Already the plan has changed; not significantly, but it will give me more time in Ireland.
I’ve realized that it makes more sense not to depart Ireland, until I’m ready for the Schengen clock to start (my 3 months out of every 6). Therefore, we will use April and May to explore Ireland. Julie only has the 10 days Easter break during that time, so actual cruising will depend up who is aboard.
To that end, I’ve also put a posting on Cruiser’s Forum, for a Crewmate/roommate/conversation mate for winter and spring. We’ll see, the winter months I don’t have much to offer, but April and May could be nice. I have a number of projects that need to get done this winter and realize I just work better, more efficiently, with someone to bounce ideas off, help pull wires and just be around to help.
I have a few friends who have expressed interest in leaving Ireland with me in June as we start our odyssey on the continent. We’ll see. Dauntless is pretty well booked for the high summer months of July and August, but by September 1st, I expect to be back west, in Denmark and will need someone to help me get the boat back to Ireland, via Norway, the Shetlands, the Orkneys, Scotland and finally Ireland by month’s end.
As I am in Italy for another few days this holiday period, today, the 4th, Befana starts. Every town had built a big bonfire, 30 feet wide, 40 to 50 feet high, that will be burned tonight to symbolize the burning of the witch. Even small towns. One of the pagan rituals that has survived Christianity. I wish I could see a satellite shot. Maybe I can find an IR satellite picture tonight, but it would probably need the resolution of a polar orbiting satellite, not the ubiquitous GOES.
But the real point of this story is that I get so excited talking about our future plans with Dauntless, 2015, but also 2016 and 2017. This is where I must manage my expectations, so that I do not take away from the present Baltic trip, because I am thinking of the Pacific crossing. On the positive side, by having a plan in the back of my mind, it allows me to refine and think of contingencies well before we ever execute it.
Currently Dauntless is wintering over in Waterford, Ireland, a wonderful town in the southeast of the country, full of really nice, interesting, outgoing people. Ireland has so exceeded my expectations, it will be hard not to return next winter, but we have six months of exploring and cruising before that decision must be made.
As of now, I am subject to the 90 days out of 180 days Schengen Visa requirements. Worst case, this means I can only be in the Schengen area for 90 days and I would then plan those 90 days to be 1 June to 1 Sept. There is a possibility that the Schengen area countries will offer a 180 day Visa in the near future. That clearly would solve my issues and I could stay in the Schengen area for April, May and September.
Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands are all out of the Schengen area.
So worst case, only 90 days,is once I leave Ireland in the spring, stopping in France and Belgium only for a week or so, before retreating to the Channel Islands. Then by the end of May, start heading east, first into Holland, then Germany ending up in Gdansk by mid-July, starting our Baltic explorations as described below.
Spring and Summer 2015 Cruise Plan
Prepare Dauntless for the cruising season
Depart for France/Belgium
Channel Islands, enter French Canals, Dunkerque-Escaut, in NE France or go to Belgium direct
France/Belgium or Channel Islands
Explore NE France & Belgium Canals, subject to our Air Draft of 4.5m
Head NE, Belgium, Holland and Germany
Find the most interesting route to the Kiel Canal, the Baltic adventure begins
End of July
Germany and Poland
Eastern Germany and Poland, Gdansk last two weeks of July
I just got back to NY last week, but I have been somewhat discombobulated, in that I have not had my laptop computer because we had a little accident.
It’s dark; it’s 05:15 a.m., the Dublin bus leaves at 5:30. I’m hurrying; suitcase is top heavy, because I put all my electronics in the top compartment, for easy removal at the airport.
It’s dark; I lean over the rail of Dauntless to stand the suitcase on the dock. I let go and am stunned to see it topple over into the River Suir. I jump off the boat onto dock, get on my knees, not worrying about my suit and fish the suitcase out of the water before it gets carried downstream in the swift current and floats off into the Atlantic.
I was pleased it hadn’t sunk and was not in the water more than 10 seconds.
Hopeful that my electronics had not gotten wet, laptop, tablet, Kindle and iPod, I didn’t have time to check as I had to literally run to catch the bus to Dublin. Only 500 meters, so the driver was able to see me scurrying up the last block, so he waited and I boarded the almost empty bus.
This was the milk run, taking an hour and half longer than the direct run, but finally, four hours later, at the airport, I open my suitcase.
Well, there were no fish inside, but everything was wetter than I had expected, though not dripping water, just wet, but not dripping water 🙂 I wiped everything dry and hoped for the best.
I was hopeful all would be OK.
When I got home to NYC, I let everything dry for two days before attempting to power up.
Wrong, right, wrong, almost wrong.
The laptop is still away having the mother board replaced. $200.
The tablet was fine.
The iPod needed a new hard drive $59 and then it took me a full day to get it to sync (I had to re-index the music files).
The Kindle took another three days to recover, but was then OK.
So, my lesson learned, even packed away, I will pack all electronics devices in plastic bags from now on.
But I must say, having crossed the Atlantic has changed my perspective of everything.
Incidents like this that would have caused all sorts of major anguish in the past, due to my own stupidity, are now just minor annoyances.
And for all those four hours on the bus to Dublin, I thanked the Fates for getting me to Ireland safe and sound, for landing me in such a nice land with wonderful, friendly people, like the bus driver who waited for me, which is so typical of the people in Ireland and lastly, I was thankful that the stupid bag hadn’t sunk or otherwise been swept away.
Basically, I’m much less hard on myself.
Life is Good and I can’t wait to get back on the water.
Irish Water wants to go private, so this will mean that everyone has to pay for water. The Irish Water protests were headline news in Ireland over the weekend. Waterford had almost 1000 people standing with umbrellas in the pouring rain to protest the announced water charge. As I watched, I wondered if anyone thought to collect all the water that was falling and try to sell it back to Irish Water. But that’s the way my iconoclastic brain works.
At first blush, it is a bit difficult to see what the fuss is about; after all, most of us are used to paying to have water delivered to our faucets. But on closer inspection, there are some real issues here that would resonate with almost any American who isn’t in Congress. Ireland it seems has always provided free water. Much like the Alaska Village Water Program, one of the better government beliefs that people are entitled to safe, clean water.
So back to Ireland, here you are, the little Irish family, cute from freckles to Brogue, and you get this notice saying from now on you will be charged “X” amount for your water every month. But then you discover that the “X” amount is basically to pay for the people to administer the program. Yes, you are really not paying for water, hey, the pipes, and infra-structure are unchanged, no, you are paying for the bureaucrats to stuff that bill in the mail every month and send it to you. And there are a lot of bureaucrats. Seems you are also paying for their families and their kids and maybe even the kid’s kids.
OK, that’s bad enough, but you’ve been in the EU for 50 years, so you’re used to paying bureaucrats for the time of day, so you think to yourself, everyone has to eat, even the bureaucrats’ kids.
But then, you discover that the chiefs of this money transfer get a bonus, not based on performance mind you, for that would mean developing a system that actually listened to the people and maybe even answered the phone, no they get bonuses based on what other fat cats get. This is a scam worry of the US Congress. I wonder why they did not think of it first??.
The simple fact is when government takes 50% of your income to feed itself; it’s too much, no matter what the excuse. Rich don’t pay; poor don’t pay; only the working people pay. What a scam.
I just finished my first proper dinner in days, rib eye steak (made all the sweeter because it cost only €4) and salad and a few glasses of red wine. I’ve only had pea soup and hobbit bread for the past two days. Why, you think? Because in Liverpool, Eve and Nigel treated me to the best fried fish and mushy peas I’ve ever eaten. At least in the U.K. So coming home on Tuesday, I vowed to watch my eating and coupled with my craving for those mushy peas, I decided to replicate them. And yes, I was successful, it was pea soup as I usually make it, but with less water. Perfectly seasoned, lekker.
Oh, this will be a truthful post. At least that what’s Korean’s believe, that alcohol, makes you speak the truth and if you don’t drink, you are hiding something. One of the reasons I like Korean culture so much. I obviously agree.
So, my dinner was the celebration of having hot water and heat. Heat came a few days ago, but hot water was more elusive. Finally, after two days of plugs wires and voltmeters, I have hot water for the first time, without having to run the generator (Genny) or the main engine (who gets no nickname, because he’s just a worker, so it doesn’t get a cute nickname).
Having had to return to my local electric shop for one elusive plug, I then proceeded to the bakery, yes, the bakery, in which everything I have had so far is just divine. I went for an apple pie, but they were already out (it was 2:00 p.m. after all).
The baker, said he could make some this evening, but by tomorrow morning for certain. I told him that was fine; I would come before my morning coffee (a 15 minute walk). Came back to Dauntless and finished my 220v electric project. Now, with heat, hot water, meat and wine, I’m content.
I’ve watched a few episodes of Luther, Season 3, and the last few days. Even though fiction, it’s hard to see injustice and people who try to do the right thing screwed for it. Hits too close to home I suppose.
Being alone is hard. My days are chores and work. When Julie and I came two thirds of the way across the Atlantic, it was a real vacation for us, the 10 days form Azores was work; moving from A to B.
I have an exciting spring and summer planned, but it’s clear to me that my friends better come and visit, otherwise I will go stir crazy.
One of the outcomes of last week’s trip to London for the cruising Baltic lecture is that it really stoked my desire for both the Baltic, but also for the far north again. I’m reading this fascinating book, almost written in my style, if I may say, The Eight Sailing/Mountain-Exploration Books by H.W. Tilman. Written in the mid 1970’s, I’ve just been reading the last two parts about sailing north. I like the style of the book, so will probably read the accounts of his sailing south around the Horn and exploring Patagonia, but that interests me less.
This book I borrowed from the Cruising Association’s library. I am really excited about the Baltic this summer, to see Poland, the Baltic republics and Finland, are all a first for me. In talking to people last week I even came away with the possibility of wintering over in Gdansk next year. It is supposed to be really nice and really pretty, rebuilt after the war, but in the old style.
So, yesterday, while checking out the Polish market in town, while waiting to check out, I asked the ladies ahead of me of their thoughts of living in Ireland versus Poland (I was the only non-polish speaking person in the store)? She told me that she had been here 6 years, with her siblings and that only her mother was still in Poland, but she hoped to get her here soon. That life in Poland was hard and simply much easier here in Ireland. I thanked her and bought the same raised donut she had. It was orange and very tasty this morning, though my ardor for next winter in Poland is a bit cooler.
It’s now 18:30 and the sun set like three hours ago. Whoever came up with the idea of setting the clocks’ back to “standard’ time should go live on a farm, but for the rest of us, Daylight Savings, year around would make far more sense. In England last week all the tabloids were pointing in in 72 point fonts that 80 more people would die in car accidents by making the mornings lighter at the expense of the evening when far more people are out.
Speaking of sense, I have found Ireland so nice, the people do genuinely warm and the baked goods to die for, but with all that, there is one aspect, that is interesting. The free water protest.
They are having this big campaign, protest basically, about the “right to water”. I think even here in Waterford there is supposed to be a big demonstration in which everyone demands their right to water. I had seen the posters and references to this, days ago, but found it hard to understand just what the issue was. It turns out it is as simple as it sounds. Ireland had recently starting charging for water use and the people are up in arms.
I’m tempted to check out the demonstration. This will almost be like my luke warm anti-Vietnam war days. But then. I am a bit afraid that someone may ask my opinion and if asked, who am I to deny them.
Then, I’s have to say, everyone can collect as much water as they want, free of charge (after all it has been raining for three days), but if you want us to deliver it to your faucet, you’ll have to pay!
I’ve been here 5 days, returning to Dauntless tomorrow. I came to England for a lecture about cruising the Baltic, specifically Poland, this past Friday in London. This is exactly why we are in Europe. I get to see new things, renew old friendships and learn new ideas that are promotive of even more learning.
I love learning; it’s why I loved teaching. You can’t have one, without the other, in spite of the many who try.
We took a tour of Wales yesterday. My childhood best friend Eve, wanted to find the grave of Jack Black, a slave who was brought to Wales in the 1700’s. After that, the drive home was interrupted my a cattle stampede, when half a dozen cows decided to make a run for it, instead of crossing the road to the barn. Anyone who has chased their cat or dog knows the routine: run up road, wait for man to catch up, run up road again, continue until tired.
Today,I had gone to the bookstore this afternoon to try to find a book of the geology of England and Ireland. I got distracted. I have not often been in a large book store in Europe in which all the books are in English. A real treat. So first I got distracted by the book about Steve McQueen, and then on the same table was the Katherine Hepburn book, an hour later I thought I better get cracking and find my geology book. Well, science was next to math and for some reason I just had to pick up the calculus book and refresh my brain about differentials, limits and integrals. By the time that was over, it was time to leave, so I hastily looked and found nothing having to do with geology.
The lecture about the Baltic was interesting and I met even more interesting people. It reinforced my tentative plan and made me more open to also visiting Russia and St. Petersburg. We’ll see.
A few weeks ago, I was worried about being bored this winter. Now, in the last days, I realize my dance card is getting rapidly filled. How so? Plans so far:
During the next two weeks on Dauntless, I must:
Plan the installation of the Wallas heater
String some shore power lights, so D looks more festive and less lonely when I am not there.
Figure out my the washer dryer isn’t working
Clean and organize the fly bridge, getting the water out of the dingy, so it doesn’t look so derelict
Make some tasty soups that I can eat with the Hobbit bread
I’ll be in the U.S. form about November 12th thru December 14th, during which time I will:
Attend some Univ. of Washington Alumni thing in NYC
Spend thanksgiving with Julie’s parents
Visit Roger in Ft. Walton Beach, as he was one of my prime communicators for the Passage
Visit old friends out west in Denver and Seattle. Like plants, friendships must be nurtured and maintained to thrive.
I’ve decided to drive, preferring to spend the money on gas as opposed to airline tickets. It means I will me making the grand tour, NYC to Florida to the Rockies, Pacific Northwest and finally back to NYC. Driving gives me the opportunity to stop and visit more friends, both new and old.
Then when I return to Ireland, I’ll only have a few days before I go to northern Italy to see my friends in Budoia, Pordenone, Friuli and Treviso. Julie will meet me there for her Christmas vacation.
When I get back to D in mid-January, I will have to install the Wallas diesel heater and before I know it, it will be time to meet Julie in Spain the middle of February.
By early March, I hope to be getting D ready for our spring and summer cruising. Now, all of this is very tentative, but on first blush, this is what we are thinking:
Leave Ireland for England and the Channel Islands in April
Brittany, Belgium and finally Holland by June
Germany, Kiel Canal and Poland in July
Poland, the Baltic Republics July and August
Finland, Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia August
September??? Probably returning to Poland for winter??
So that’s the rough plan. Clearly the further out the more tentative. Much of my cruising will depend on visitors, in the sense that I seldom cruise alone. With Julie only having 3 weeks, I’ll have 9 of 12 summer weeks do something. So If I have guests, then I will travel; if not, I won’t.
So, as you can see, I seem to have filled much of my time. There are a number of projects, most revolve around photography, but now who knows how much time I will have.
I’ll publish my cruising plans as they firmer. Should you have any questions, feel free to email me.
Started the day with Genny for an hour. Doing everything I ask, what a sweetheart. She gets us warm and toasty all over and knows enough to save some for later.:–)
In the next days, I must deal with a few issues. I need a long term way to keep the batteries up, warm the boat and have hot water. Genny makes it for me, but she is expensive and whines a bit. I need a solution that costs me little, is quiet and will do anyting I ask for as long as I want.
So today, walked up the hill, passing some of my favorite Waterford places: the auto/marine store, the electrical place and then, today’s real destination, two bakeries: one that does the best cupcakes and the other, Hickey’s, that makes the best bread, chewy, tasty, with a firm crust. Bread to die for. I get there at 1:30 p.m. They are already closed! What, a baker that knows fresh bread is about the morning. This is how we got the saying: “you snooze, you lose”
By the way, doesn’t it bother anyone that in English, snooze and lose sound the same? So ooz=se and you wonder why kids have a hard time with spelling. Maybe that’s why everyone pronounces my name “boast”. Easy grammar rules, but pronunciations that make no sense. Remember that the next time you inwardly roll your eyes trying to understand a non-native speaker.
So, back to my first love, observing stuff.
I go to the butcher shop next door and ask about the bakery hours. They inform me that they close at 1:00 p.m.; I’ve already accepted that, and am now looking at his meat. I see 4 lamp chops for $5.25; I get them. I then ask about pork belly, but add that I’m not going to buy it now. He still goes to the back to get it and brings out this 3 foot long piece to show me. It looks great, he talks about the bone and the “rind” makes it so tasty. Yes, we do love pork belly too. At $2.50/lb. I say that’s a real bargain. He agrees and says that pork is cheap in Ireland. I say that in the USA too, but they have bred all the taste out of it to get to that low cost. He laments that the same is happening here. Though I do not think it’s that bad nor will it ever get to the situation in the USA. In my two mile walk from boat to bakery and then back thru downtown, I must have seen half a dozen real butcher shops and only one large shopping market. It’s clear people value quality over price.
So another word oddity, they use the word rind for skin of meat. We only seem to use it for watermelon nowadays. I don’t even hear it applied to oranges anymore, everyone says “peel”. Now, another connection, in German Rindfleisch is red meat, as in this is the meat under the skin. And on this thought of language history, the word deer in English and Tier in German, sound pretty much the same, but now mean different things. You know what a deer is, but in German, the word means all types of animals, but what you didn’t know was that our word for meat, as in meat we eat use to be the same word, deer or Tier. What changed is that for thousands of years when the Germanic languages were developing, what they ate was the animal we call deer. The word had to be modified as humans ate all the deer and then had to find other meats to eat. Thus deer took on a more narrow meaning to just one type of meat.
Another observation, Coke has real sugar in it. That tells me that even the giants like Coca Cola know what they can get away with and what they can’t. Maybe one day America will be like that again. Won’t happen as long as we keep electing lawyers with virtually no inking of science or even math.
So back to my shopping. I wanted lettuce. Seeing these green leafy things in one of the butcher shops that also had Waterford apples, I decide to buy two apples and lettuce. The “lettuce” turned out to be cabbage. What was I thinking? Every butcher has the main ingredients that go with meat, cabbage, potatoes, onions, turnips and beets. I still got the apples and I was paying the 20 cents for two, when I saw a package of some of the sliced bread from Hickey’s Bakery, I grabbed a package and mentioned that I had just been there but they were already closed. He told me to take a different package, as the one I had grabbed was yesterday’s. Just another typical Ireland experience. People in every profession and every store actually seem to treat their job like it’s their profession. Makes a world of difference.
Talking about people, pretty much anyone with whom you have eye contact will greet you as you pass by. Kids, those naturally friendly 4 and 5 years olds, will say hello if you look at them. It’s a friendly place.
I finally find the supermarket. It’s in the mall downtown. I buy this great looking lettuce, $1.25, so tasty too.
So, had this great dinner of salad with apple, mandarin oranges (part of the Costco provisions, bought before we realized we would be able to buy food again) with sesame and olive oils and vinegar. The four lamb chops done on the Weber, all washed down by Vinho Verde we bought in Rhode Island (yes, we too saw the irony of bringing Portuguese wine back to Portugal. Best dinner I’ve made in a long time and it only cost $6.45 for all the ingredients.
Lastly, I pass the panhandling gypsy, every town has a few, and she is with a girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old. As I pass and the mother holds her hand out while mumbling something, the girl sticks her tongue out while trying to put this funny face on. Cleary, she was trying to be funny and it was so cute.
I still didn’t give ’em any money.
But every experience here has been interesting and insightful. New country, new things to learn and experience. Can’t ask for any more. Next weekend there is a lecture about cruising Poland presented by the Cruising Association. It’s in London, but will give me the opportunity to celebrate the birthday of my childhood friend, who is like my sister.
So for me, learning is what keeps me young. Learning the boat, the sea and now new people and places. Even the Gaelic language fascinates me. This is the name of one of the streets by the dock, “Lana Thig an Chaife” , I love seeing connections. In the word Chaife, I see a connection that clearly I never understood in hearing the words, but seeing them spelled this way in Gaelic is insightful.
Julie and I presented an account of our Atlantic Passage to over 150 Krogen owners this past Saturday at the Krogen Rendezvous. This was the first presentation we’ve ever done of our passage and it was really well received. A bunch of folks asked me where else we were presenting and at this point, the answer is nowhere because no one has asked us yet. I’m definitely going to look for more opportunities because I like sharing how possible this is in an older boat on a limited budget.
Besides talking about our preparation, and all the books we read, here are some highlights:
Q: What is the age of Dauntless?
A: 1988, 27 years old. [Audience gasp. This reaction surprised me because it never occurred to me the age of the boat would be an issue; I just thought it was about the condition.]
Q: Did you change the oil?
A: No! I wasn’t to stop the engine in the middle of the ocean for no stinkin’ oil change.
Q: Did you ever turn off the engine?
A: Not on purpose. [Then I went into a five-minute recount of all my shenanigans with changing the fuel filters and closing valves that should be open, and vice versa, which resulted in me killing the engine, twice!]
Q: Could you check the amount of oil you had with the engine running?
A: I had read on Trawler Forum that I may be able to check the oil level while running. Well, all I could tell was that there was some amount of oil in there, but it was not possible to get a reading. Therefore, I knew the oil consumption in the past was a quart of oil every 50-70 hours, so I just added 2 quarts every few days whether it needed it or not. When I did turn off the engine when we arrived in the Azores, the oil level was exactly where I expected it to be.
Q: What would you do differently in hindsight?
There is virtually nothing significant we would have done differently. The actual route we took is one issue, but as I rethink the rationale for the route we took, it still seems it was the best option given the ice conditions east and south of St. John’s NF. I’m disappointed we never got to see an iceberg and as our start date got pushed back to late July, maybe we should have tried to make St. John’s. In hindsight though, I was not that sure enough of the fuel consumption and Julie had a deadline to get back to work, so the Azores were still the best answer, even if it added 5 days to the passage. It does seem that had I been able to stay on the great circle route, topping up the tanks in Halifax would have allowed me to get to Ireland direct. Umm, next time.
A last thought on pictures and video from the trip: Being back in NY, having the Krogen Presentation to do and finally having fast, reliable internet connection allowed me to finally sort through the 1200 pictures and 130 videos we had taken during the trip.
While there are some really nice pictures, especially of sunsets and sunrises, I now wish I had been more meticulous in making some quality pictures and videos that told their own story each day in a systematic manner.
A note about the videos. The file date is basically the date time stamp of when it was recorded, thus, 20140728_201731 means it was recorded on July 28th, at 20:17 hours. This was on Eastern Daylight Time until the Azores at which point I changed it to GMT (which was local time).
Also the quality is not the best, but rather than not show post them, I thought they still depict the conditions and give a good day to day story of conditions.
Flying over the Atlantic yesterday, over a similar route that we had taken with Dauntless just months earlier, was a strange experience. This flight was Europe is one I have taken so many times in the last 15 years. But this time, instead of returning to my normal life and its incumbent responsibilities, I’m leaving much of that behind. I’m coming home; but not to the burdens of the past: my mother, my school, now it’s more like a vacation. I get to see friends, write, complete the writing of our Atlantic Passage and organize the pictures. I only going to eat foods I can’t or wouldn’t get in Waterford: Korean, Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Bengali & Indian.
It was great that Julie got to spend a little time in Waterford and be on Dauntless in her winter haven. It’s wonderful being able to share many of the interesting and tasty things Waterford has to offer. The bread, they call turnover, we call it Hobbit bread, because it just seems to fit. It is the best we’ve eaten since Cuccio’s in Brooklyn. Cuccio’s was a weekly ritual for the last 14 years I was taking care of Mama, so it was nice for us to find such tasty bread in Ireland. The last three weeks in Ireland have certainly been eye opening.
I never expected to eat so well and in particular, I am really impressed with the quality and freshness of virtually all baked products. Ireland has many less chain type establishments then even the Netherlands, and it’s clear that people value locally grown and produced products.
The croissants are as good as any I’ve had in France and that does say a lot. Finding delicious bread and cakes are the icing on the cake. Ireland is simply full of wonderful people. My time in Castletownbere was the perfect ending to an Atlantic Passage. Full of people who know the sea, it is one of Ireland’s five official fishing ports, I met many people and many fishermen fascinated with Dauntless and our voyage.
Waterford is looking like the perfect winter spot.
Having the dock right downtown makes it easy for me to walk pretty much anyplace I want to go. I’ll be able to use my bicycle for longer trips. The City of Waterford wants to encourage boaters to stay and they have made it very easy. The Harbor Master is helpful and accommodating and the price for the six winter months is one third of what it would have cost me in most other places.
And I’m sick. Just a cold that I felt coming on last week, but I had been feeling better and I needed to take advantage of being next to the dock and wall (instead of being rafted to fishing boats) so that I could rig the new paravane pole. It also allowed me to complete the re-rigging of the smaller lines on the winch that pull the birds and the poles up. It’s now a very easy system to deploy and retrieve when I am alone.
My first morning in Waterford, my winter quarters, somewhat nicer and warmer than Washington’s winter in Valley Forge and I probably have enough food and calories on this boat to feed a family in Africa for a year, an extended family!
It’s one of those typical northern European fall/winter day, a stale gray sky with light rain and drizzle. Probably good for me, makes me rest, as on sunny days, I have this primordial urge to hunt & gather. So instead I’m watching last night’s Jet’s game. God, they are pathetic. The poster child of what it looks like when you have an owner who cares more about appearances than winning. In other words, they make terrible choices, but instead of dealing with it, they keep on telling everyone how smart they are and there is no problem; simply ignoring the fact that the data (their record) says differently. If you refuse to reflect and admit mistakes, there is not much chance of improvement. Much like Obama, who seems to be re-inventing the Vietnam War in Syria? I wonder if he has even read books about the War. It’s the ultimate folly and hubris to think you can to run a war from the White House. All it does is annoy the enemy and get Americans killed for no reason. The Iran rescue attempt was also run from the White House. Yes, that failure still rankles me to this day. OK. Basta.
I’m hoping to have Wi-Fi at some point, it will make getting my laptop online much easier and it the main reason I have not posted more in the last two weeks. I’ll just have to make a better effort to diagnose my phones hotspot issue.
I’m also finishing the Post Mortem for the Atlantic Passage. It’s a bit wordy, so it needs some editing. In the near future there are a number of issues: the Electro Scan system is having issues with the mix motor and long term, I must find and install a diesel forced air heater.
Having spent the last three weeks in fishing harbors, Castletwonbere and Dunmore East, has been really a wonderful experience for me. Ireland has five official fishing ports, and those are two of them. I’ve been tied to fishing boats most of that time and the fishermen have been great.
You can see in some of the photos I’ve posted the similarity between this Krogen 42 and the fishing boats. In fact, almost identical lines. I had not noticed this before in the U.S., but here is was obvious. Clearly a primary reason Dauntless is so salty and as I reflect on the passage, as uncomfortable I was at times, Dauntless was in her element and could have taken far more.
In the short time I’ve been in Ireland, I have met so many great people, interested in our passage and clearly these are communities tied to the water. Even yesterday, the person who came to fuel my boat (2400 liters, 631 U.S. gallons) loved the look of the Krogen and took many pictures of her. Now being in Waterford, this will be a little different experience. No fishing boats and we’re right downtown, I ‘m currently tied adjacent to the Viking Tower. Looking out my salon window, instead of tremendous waves, I see a mud flat between the dock and the City wall. The tidal range here is 11 to 12’. Dauntless has only 2 feet of water under her keel at low tide. The river we’re on, the River Suir, is the fastest running river in all of Europe, but it’s really a tidal estuary, but I didn’t feel the need bring that up, as I was being told about the river. I like being in river like this, as it means far less likely hood of freezing and it’s in constant flush mode.
I finally was able to recalibrate the Victron system, thanks to the help of a Victron Product Manager I met at the Amsterdam boat show. This system monitors all the current (electricity) going into and out of the batteries. It’s important to monitor because whenever the boat is not running the engine or generator (which I try to seldom use) all the power is provided by the batteries, so it critical to know how much power has been taken out of them, to a maintain long term battery health. It would be over $1,000 to replace the batteries, so I want them to last quite a few more years.
OK, let me go see if I can find hydrochloric acid for the Electro Scan and not be arrested for terroristic intentions.
Its midnight, a little more than 25 hours to go, and I see that the starboard Racor is full of crap, I switch to the Port Racor and return to the pilot house to contemplate my next moves.
The wind had stayed steady at SW at 30 kts. I was getting used to the roll, 20° in one direction, 30° in the other, certainly the biggest rolls I’ve ever seen since having the paravanes. I needed to sleep. I reasoned that the engine was running, the Racor had done its job, and by switching to the new Racor, I reckoned it should last at worst till morning, but more than likely till my destination, only 25 hours away.
I must have gotten pretty good rest, as there are no log entries from midnight, when I switched to port Racor until 07:00 when I recorded our position and noted, “Last night for a while” . I was ready for this to end, but, like March, it was going to go out like a lion. My roll “telltale” had the biggest roll to one side overnight as 23° Not so bad. I decided to use this relatively quiet period to change the Racors and FP filters, all three.
At 7:20, I wrote in the log 7:20, with nothing else. I must have been tired, but I assume that’s when I went to change Racors, as next log entry was at 08:10 when I wrote underway again, changed all 3 Racors. The key there was underway again.
Usually I can now change all three in 15 minutes with the engine running. This took 40, as we had some drama. FP filter and right side filter were done quickly, but in priming the filter, the shenanigans began. When I first turned on fuel pump to prime right side filter, nothing happened, because it was turned off, remember I was running on left side filter. Now in hindsight, I see what I should have done, but if wishes were horses, …
But instead I opened the two valves around pump, leaving the third one open. In this configuration, the fuel pump is pumping fuel, but only in a little circle, while it laughs at me for giving it such easy work. Ok, got it, switch to right filter, close gravity feed, prime filter, it’s done and engine is still running. Pump off, gravity feed on.
Now to the left side filter. Drain, open, remove old filter, new in, all in one minute, now to prime, change engine to this filter as I turn on pump, but gravity feed is still open. So nothing happens in filter and it doesn’t fill. Engine starts to slow down, I know I only have seconds left to solve this before I kill engine in 10 foot seas.
As I turn the red handle of the gravity feed to off, so pump can fill filter and feed engine, the engine dies.
Crap. I vowed never to let this happen and it does. OK. Now being alone is a PIA, as I must leave engine room to start engine. I figure, OK, at least I can now take my time and finish job. I prime filter, turn off pump, close valves and scamper up stairs to salon and the pilot house.
Start engine. It sounds so sweet as it runs for about 10 seconds and then dies. Walk, Don’t Run, back to engine room, sit next to engine, what did I do wrong?
I have it! I let air get to engine mounted fuel filters (there are two in series right after the mechanical lift pump (fuel pump that “lifts” fuel from near bottom of engine to top of engine). The BIG lesson here is ALWAYS check similiest solutions first. (At times, I think I don’t check the simple solution first, because it can’t be that easy.)
So, all I need to do is bleed these engine mounted filters. Easy, the box end wrench is hanging right here just for this occasion (all the wrenches needed for all these jobs are hanging right there). I loosen both bleed screws (yes, book says one at a time, but I’m in a hurry).
Turn on pump, nothing. Look frantically around. See all three valves are closed, duh, open the two for the pump and turn on switch, as at that same moment, I realize I did not have to open bleed screws as all three valves were closed, in other words, nothing was open for the engine.
In the one second for that realization to hit home, the fuel is getting to the bleed screws and spraying fuel all over the hot engine. I turn off pump, reset all valves to their correct positons and get my oil soak cloths and start wiping away. I’m not that concerned, because I have not found any place on the top of the engine that is ever above 200°F and besides, if you think this is the first time I’ve done fiasco, you have another think coming.
I wipe down everything, also Racors, where I made a mess thinking they were the problem and finally at 8:19 I’m up at the wheel starting the engine again. This time it starts running, but clearly not well, but I also recognize this and know that with a little throttle, all will be fine in 20 seconds.
I’m underway again at 8:20.
Interestingly enough, even with the waves and seas, I did not seem to notice how well the Krogen handled sitting in the middle of the ocean bobbin away. Too much in crisis mode and not observation mode I suppose.
Three hours later, I check the fuel filters again and am dismayed at the amount of crap the filters are picking up, I change the FP and the port filter again. This time with no drama.
A new issue, the bilge pump has gone off 250 times in the last 24 hours. Usually it goes off 10 times, in rough weather maybe 20 to 30 times, if my stuffing box is really leaking, I’ve seen 180 times, but never this many. Now the rolling had increased to almost 20° and 30° in each direction, a delta of 50° (certainly a new record for me) and the decks were wet with water flooding in the scuppers, with the starboard deck sometimes having water flood over the cap rail (another first for me).
There are no obvious leaks anywhere either in the engine room or in the cabin, so I decide not to worry about it, since there is no obvious solution. Like the Racors, the bilge pump is doing its job.
A couple of hours later, the last act of this drama. I hear a thump, not loud, look to port and see no paravanes pole. Bad. Engine at idle and neutral, I find the top of the pole near the stern of the boat, being held there by its foreguy.
It takes me half an hour to get it out of the water and tied to the fly deck, because I have to run all over the place, loosen that line, pull here, tighten that line, pull there. Three times I have to come off the fly bridge just to rotate the pole that is hung up on the rub rail.
Also, with all the adrenaline surging thru my veins, I did not really notice how well dauntless was behaving just bobbin up and down, with really not much roll.
So I tried running without the paravanes out. My course was due north, and the winds and seas were from the southwest to west. At this point I was going to Ireland or else. Having people meeting me there was really encouraging at this point I did not want to go anywhere else.
Therefore the course we had was the course we were going to travel. Without paravanes out, it was the Dauntless of old and this course was not possible. Umm, the boat would have been fine, but not me.
So, I put the starboard pole and bird back out, not bad, not bad at all I think, but as time passed, I realized the starboard side was taking water over the rail almost constantly, since when D rolled to the right, the roll was deeper without the port bird to slow it down, but then the boat stayed longer in the starboard heeled position, allowing the next wave to essentially push Dauntless into the side of the wave as it rolled under the boat. At one point, I had two feet of water sloshing around the cockpit and side deck.
That wasn’t going to work either. I then returned to the fly bridge, to untie the bird from the top of the pole. I spent way too much time doing that and in the meantime, this caused my scariest moment of the entire passage to date. The boat underway was rolling a lot. It did not occur to me to stop the boat because my little brain was more afraid of broaching than anything else. Now you are thinking, didn’t he just talk about how little the boat rolled lying a hull, just in the paragraph above?
And the answer is YES, of course I did. But at the time, doing something and reflecting on it are two different actions, but pretty much no learning takes place without that reflection. I was too much in crisis mode to reflect on anything. So with me up on the fly bridge, I’m really seeing how big these waves are. Some are clearly at my eye level, maybe 16 feet above sea level. And they are hitting the boat on its beam. The first time the boat rolled and I’m hanging on for dear life up there, I was a bit nervous. It felt like we were over 80°, by telltale later told me it was only 38°
But again, once me and D had survived the first roll, I realized it wasn’t that bad, in fact, I just stayed seated on the port bench, bracing myself with my foot on the helm chair, as the boat rolled.
Finally I get the knot undone and I decide to throw the fish in the water with 18’ of line, tied in the amidships cleat, figuring it could not get back to the prop or rudder and it was better than nothing.
It was better than nothing. Even though an hour later, on hearing a thumping noise, and not being able to pin point it, I actually convinced myself it was the bird hitting the boat (it wasn’t) but proceeded to stop the boat, then pull this bird back out of the water, shorten the line another two feet and finally, throw it back in the water (this is actually an abbreviated account. I did a few other things, but you had to be there to understand).
Finally I told myself to get a grip and proceeded to find the wine bottle that was rolling under the desk in the second cabin thunking the wall every 30 seconds, which is exactly what I thought it was an hour before.
I had no log entries between 14:00 when I threw the bird back in the water and 01:00 the following morning when I was passing Mizen Head light house.
I did record the rolling though, for those 11 hours, the boat was rolling a delta of 24°, 36° and a whopping 61° (23+38) every so often.
That afternoon, I was wedged on the bench, playing hearts, trying to keep my mind off the sea state, the waves, and the fuel.
As evening turned to night, it was very dark, the winds were 30 knots gusting to 45 out of the due west. The waves were above 16 feet so I spent most of that time lying on the bench with my head to the port side, so I did not feel like I was standing on my head. The worst part was as the boat would be heeled far over, it was stay there a bit and then since it’s dark, the next wave hits suddenly with a big bang on the exposed starboard hull, pushing us further into the side of the wave.
Even now, it’s hard to describe my feelings. I was certainly miserable, but not really afraid. The roller coaster is probably the best analogy in that is still makes us afraid, even though we know it can not fly off the tracks. I was afraid to go to sleep. Rocky land was only 15 to 20 miles away and even though it would take hours to get there, countless boats have come to grief so near their final destination, I was not going to let that happen to me.
But Monkey Son still had that smile on his face, so I knew it would be OK.
And it was, I had carefully planned my route using both Coastal Explorer and my Navionics app on my phone, as Navionics showed the lighthouse range colors better.
Karel had given me really clear instructions, so when I saw people standing on the dock at 01:40 in the morning of August 29th, 2014, I knew our Atlantic Passage was over.
More pictures are always being added to http://dauntless.smugmug.com/
And here are some videos that may help to give you an idea, taken just before sunset, please excuse the quality. I was hanging on for dear life.