Luck, more luck & wonderful people

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

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

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

Ok. But I hoped I left it on boat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If rather be lucky than smart.

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

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

The Weather Intensifies; A Day by Day Summary Cape Cod to Flores

A Day by Day Summary Cape Cod to Flores, the Azores, 2230 nm, 20 July to 05 Aug 2014

20 July, 06:00, we left with the tide, as had a few hours on the Narragansett River, then Buzzards Bay to the Cape Cod Canal and across the Bay, anchoring at 21:00 that night. 91 nm,

21 July, anchored in Provincetown Harbor.  Very foggy, had to top up the tanks and repair VHF antennas, none of my VHF radios was working! Discovered that I had connected two antenna cables to each other, and one old Loran cable to the PH VHF, let the Shenanigans begin.

22 Jul, NO GO, Water maker not making water, changed fuel polish filter and one primary engine fuel filter.  The shenanigans continue as it takes me hours to figure out I have water maker valve set to Clean, thus no water.  We finally leave as fog breaks at 12:00 noon.  An hour later, the one and only boat we talk to the entire trip asks if I have seen any whales, I tell him we’re headed to the Azores.  He doesn’t get that answer very often. Yes, all the radios now work.

23 July, A strong S to SW winds 15 to 20 knots all night has kept us from turning more east (as many of you have noted).  The great circle route does pass just south of Nova Scotia, so with the winds pushing us that way, we take it as an omen to stop.  We pull into Shelburne, NS at 14:35 on the 24th.  We refuel, three times I say gallons and they give me liters. Luckily, I’m not a 767.  That night, when paying we realize the mistake and top up the next morning. Yes, that counts as a shenanigan.

25 July, Underway again, hopefully next stop, the Azores.  Keep rpms between 1500 & 1600 for the next 5 days.  The sight tubes on the tanks do not come into play until the tanks are about 1/3 down, therefore I will not have an accurate read until then. Southwest swell only 1-2 ft., light westerly winds all day and night.  Water maker auxiliary pump stops working, and the water maker was not working since it lost it prime.  I work on pump, pulling it out and finally just bypassing the pressure switch.  All is working OK. With the light winds, we were trying to get as far south as possible, knowing the SW winds would return.

26 July, No change in weather (wx) or course, at 9:00, the water maker was stops working again.  No power at all. Thought it was the relay, change relay, no change. Discover it is the tube fuse had toasted itself.  I put a spade fuse in, but the wires were too small and it cooks itself within minutes.  Luckily, I’m feeling all the wires as this is going on, and no other wires got even warm.  I decide to go without the fuse.  Never had another problem (but it doesn’t stop you from worrying about it!) and it was just now in writing this, that I remembered I was supposed to get new fuse.

27 July, Broken clouds all day with rain showers and thunderstorm, changed course to 135°, Southeast, speed is changing from 4.2 to 7.8 knots, we are clearly in the Gulf Stream eddies. We go all evening close to 8 knots.  This is the first day; we did not have some minor mechanical problem to deal with!

28 July, rain showers and Thunderstorms all day, winds getting stronger, south or SW 15 to 25, at 9:00 turned off all electronics for about an hour as we passed thru one line of cells, by 10:30 we were past that and all was normal again, the winds are strong from the south, so the paravanes are really working. At 11:30, we hear a noise that sounds like a pistol hot. Not having a pistol on board, we were worried.  I look to see that the 3/8” bolt for the mast cleat for the starboard paravane has sheared off. Quickly, neutral, to get pressure off of mast and I go up to fly bridge as boat is rolling around.  I re tie up-down line, which transfers force from paravanes to mast, and make a hitch around mast and tie it off at the boom. This turns out to be really effective and in a few days, I retied the other cleat too.  Oh, I forgot that wasn’t my first solution; my first solution was to tie it on another cleat that was on the mast.  As I watched it bend that cleat as we got underway, I decided that I needed a new solution.wpid-20140728_104746.jpg

29 July, at 2:45 upon our watch change, I decided it was a good time to add to quarts of oil to the running engine.  After much ado, it was a non-event. Much messier in a car.  Scattered clouds, SW winds at 10 to 15 continue.  1080 miles to go 😮

30 July, Sct clouds, winds still SW but less than 10 kts, no whitecaps!, we stopped at noon to pull in paravanes (they slow us up about ½ knot). Took this opputunity to take a swim.  The water was so blue. Also took this relatively calm period to tighten the paravane stays and the mast stays.  We spent the next 30 hours without the paravanes. This was the only time all trip without them.

31 July, nice weather continues. I tell Julie that this is what I had hoped for for the entire trip. By 18:00, the southerly swell causes us to put the paravanes back out. We had also gotten an easterly wind on our bow.  This was causing a pitch that coupled with the roll was becoming unpleasant, so the birds went out and the ride became ok, though still pitching.

1 Aug, another nice day, light easterly winds continue, so the ride wasn’t that smooth, but OK. Later on in the afternoon, I do what I told everyone I wouldn’t. I stopped the engine.  I wanted to check the new fan belt tension, I also changed the other fuel filter and added ½ qt. oil. (I was proud of my 2 qt. guess the day before).  Fan belt was fine. Before stopping the engine, I did start the Gen. why, who knows, maybe the start battery would be dead.

2 Aug, our 4th day of nice weather, Julie took a swim too. Winds are SSW at 10, so paravanes are needed. But still nice, Saw dolphins.  This nice weather really helped our morale, we were more than half way and also we had stopped having a problem a day.

3 Aug, we’re making good time, 160 miles in last 24 hours.  We also saw out whales today, but winds are out of NE causing again that pitch and roll.

4 Aug, Thunderstorms in the early morning, I change course to avoid them and get further south.  A few hours later, we return to our easterly course, as the winds have picked up since noon. They are now up to 20 kts and the seas are building to about 6 ft., though we have kept it behind us, off the rear quarter.  For the next 48 hours this would be our challenge.

Our roll has increased, winds continue 240 at 15 kts gusting to 25, and we’re rolling 15° in each direction with the paravanes.  That’s not normal.  We are watching the birds in the water and they are doing this little circular motion, the port bird is running next to the hull of the boat, while the Stbd bird is running three feet outside the pole.  Very strange behavior.  We’ve had these smaller birds on since Rhode Island, and thought we saw no difference.

At 16:00, we stop, to reposition the angle of the poles, thinking, it will help.  We have a strange evening. The port pole occasionally jumps vertical, which makes us stop the boat, so it falls out again. Finally, at 23:00 I try to go to sleep.  It’s hard to sleep, for the first time all voyage, and sure enough in an hour I hear the pole go vertical again, but I figure Julie can handle it and she does. An hour later, the same thing. The boat is also rolling a lot, like 15 to one side, 20 to the other, that a delta of 35°, that’s like pre-paravane numbers.

The third time it happens, I figure I better get up, as Julie has had enough practice with the shenanigans.  I first try to change the AP, the boat does clearly not like some combination of something, so I do the easiest thing first. No change.

Finally at 02:00, 05 Aug, we pulled the old bird out of the lazerette and changed the port bird. Now remember, we were hesitate to do this because the boat is rolling like a.. And trying to retrieve a 40 lb. object can be dangerous.

As soon as we get underway, I see the port bird is now tracking straight AND the Starboard bird which had been coming out of the waves sideway, since it was also doing a circular thing, is now tracking straight. At 3:00 Julie goes to a well-earned bed and we power along with strong SW winds now up to 25 knots.

But I know we’ll be at Flores within 15 hours, in fact, we can see the cap cloud over the island,  the boat is going well and we still have 9” of fuel in each tank (about 160 gal). At noon, we decide not to wait for port, but to change the stud bird also, the seas have continued to build and are above 6 ft. and the roll is delta 20°

At 17:30 we sight the lighthouse, of Porto do Albarnaz.  While we have seen the islands on the radar for the entire day, that doesn’t count.

It was nice to see land, especially after the last hard 48 hours. But it wasn’t over.

Because of the large waves from the SW, we were not able to turn more southerly, so we had to keep a course that put us north of Flores, even though we were heading to the southern tip.  I hoped that once in the lee of the island, NE of Flores, we could turn south and the wind and waves would be smaller.  They were, but not at first, we had an hour after we turned on=f now going into these 8 ft. waves, being slowed to like 3 knots.  It was at this point that we had a strange thing happen. We got hit by a float?? It came flying across the bow, hit the pilot house window and bounced off into the dark ocean.

3 miles, one whole hour later, we were in the lee of the island and the waves were less than half.

We anchored in 35’ water outside the Porto das Lajes, 39° 22.897’N, 31° 09.991W at 22:00

Anchorage Porto das Lajes, Flores
Anchorage Porto das Lajes, Flores

Our first part of our Atlantic Passage was done.

And that’s why I didn’t write. I was resting.

Stay tuned to the same channel next week.

Thanks for joining us.

Dauntless is big
Dauntless is big

Wind and Waves

Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of following seas, let’s define a few more terms and procedures.

If I say the winds are westerly, that means they are from the west.  Generally I speak of wind direction in relation to the direction we are trying to go.  So, for example, when we left Cape Cod, the Azores and Europe were to our east, so we wanted to set a course to the east, therefore westerly winds would have been good, as they would have produced a following sea and all would be happy.  As it was, many of you already remarked, that we did not go east, as the winds were actually quite strong from the southwest forcing us to take a more northeasterly course.

This morning, the winds in Horta are howling, that is faster than strong, but not quite a gale!

I use knots to measure speed, as a knot = 1 nautical mile per hour, a nautical mile (nm) is about 1.12 statute miles.  We still use nautical miles because it turns out there are exactly 60 nm in one degree of latitude and since 1° of latitude equals 60 minutes, one minute of latitude = one nautical mile. It makes looking at charts and estimating time very easy.

So the Bost scale of winds:

  • Light and variable, less than 5 knots (6 mph) and from any direction. They are light enough, the direction doesn’t matter.
  • Light winds, 5 to 10 kts
  • Moderate winds 12 to 16
  • Strong, 18 to 25
  • Howling 25 to 35, (so today the winds are blowing 15 to 20, with gusts 37)
  • Gale 38 to 45
  • Storm faster than that.

Directions.  In general, directions like easterly, means in relation to a real map, so USA is west, Europe is east and South America is south.  On a boat, there is one other direction we look at, the apparent direction.  The  boat doesn’t know which way it faces, it just knows that the winds are on its nose (bow), that’s 0°, coming at a right angle to the boat, is on our beam, the starboard (right) beam is 90°, the port beam, (left) is 270°  All of these directions are relative to the boat. On the diagram I drew I added two more directions, the right and left rear quarters.  Basically, I try to keep the winds between 135° and 225°, and the more near 180°, the better.

 a wind diagram in relation to the boat
a wind diagram in relation to the boat

How the Boat handles in Winds and Waves

In calm weather and flat seas, I would normal run Dauntless at 1600 rpm, which would produce a speed of 6.2 knots and consume 1.5 gal of diesel per hour or 4.13 nm/gal.  Now how does this change with wind and waves?

If at the same 1600 rpm, if I was running into a 10 to 12 knots on the bow, or they are at 0°, dauntless would probably slow to about 5 knots, as this wind would probably produce waves of about 2-3 feet and we would start to pitch up and down (all wave heights mentioned are an estimate and an average, if the waves are 2 ft., there will be some 1 ft. waves, some 3 ft. waves and an occasional 4 ft. wave.  Think of it as a bell curve with the average being in the highest point of the curve, but there are extremes on both sides).

If this same wind were on the beam, our speed would stay the same, we would not slow down, but we would roll and 15° to each side. This is without the paravanes.  It would be uncomfortable.  And as you can see, a 10 to 15 knot wind is really normal, so the paravanes were really important.

From the stern, this same wind would add a few tenths speed and the ride would be ideal. That’s how we got the saying, “May You Have Fair Winds and Following Seas” I smile even writing it.

Now, if the wind is blowing 20 knots for any length of time and the seas have had the time to build, those winds would produce 5 to 8 ft. waves.  Going into them, our speed would be reduced to half, if they were on our beam, with paravanes, our roll would be one third of what it would be without, so about 10 to 15° with, without almost 40° (yes, I have done that, no, I won’t do it again. I never felt unsafe, but it’s miserable).  Larry Polster of Krogen told me he has had his 42’ roll as far as the cap rails.  I’ve never got that far (that I know of), probably only a foot below.

So the lesson here is that as the winds increase above 15 knots, it really limits ones course.  Therefore, when we left Cape Cod, while we wanted to head east, as the winds keep getting stronger and stronger from the southwest, it made os take an ever more northerly course and essentially pushed us to Nova Scotia.

So again, I am always trying to keep the winds in the rear of the boat.  We spent days and days just trying to get further south, but the winds and the waves they produced were not allowing it.

We only had two nice weather days.  I had been hoping that most of the trip would be under the influence of the Bermuda and Azores high pressure areas, giving us light winds, sun and very small seas, less than a foot.

But alas, it was not to be.

Also dauntless’ normal speed of 6 knots is about a third to a quarter of the speed of a low pressure system across the ocean,  So even as one storm passes, the next one will catch up to us in a few days.

One of the reasons we only saw whales and turtles once, was that it takes calm seas to notice a turtle floating near you or to see a whale surface.  We only had two days without white caps and those were the days we say the whales and turtles.  The first few days Julie and I wanted to see whales so badly, we were imagining them everywhere, but it was only the waves tops.

A distant TCU
A distant TCU

Following Seas

Our passage from Nova Scotia started out perfectly, with northwesterly winds (meaning they are from the NW and since we were going southeast, they were directly behind us, the so called “following sea”), almost pushing us. Perfect for Dauntless as she handles waves from behind very well.

Before our purchase of Dauntless, my research had indicated that the Kadey Krogen as a function of hull design, was not only one of the most effieeincet boats out there, but also, probably for the same reasons, it handled a following sea very well. Meaning, as a wave lifts the boat from behind, the Krogen hull continues to keep the boat on track, whereas boats that do not handle a following seas well, the boat will slew sideways and try to roll down the face of the wave on her beam.

Julie and I tested this the first time out on the boat. It was the second day after closing and we felt it was time for a trip.  Now, not knowing anything about Florida, or Stuart, where we were, we fired her up, and headed down the river and out the inlet.  Wind was blowing onshore, producing big ass waves.  But then what did we know? We had bought a boat to go around the world and if it couldn’t get out of this inlet, better to realize our mistake sooner rather than later.

We certainly were not afraid, curious is a better word.  So we are heading east out of the inlet, into 6’ to 8 foot waves on our bow.  Shout period waves, plain annoying.  Julie and I are in the pilot house, holding on for dear life as the boat goes flying up and then down (pitching), with a little roll (maybe 15°). We’re doing fine, when we hear this large crash from down below.  We had not secured the door to the fridge, so our wine and club soda bottles had come crashing out and were rolling around the salon floor along with the two chairs and couch.

Only one club soda bottle had broken, so we felt that was the best of omens.  After about 20 minutes of this pitching and rolling and with no more adventures, we felt it was time to turn around. Now, I did know enough that I did not want to get hit by a wave on our beam, so much like skiing, when one turns on top of a mogul, I used power and our big rudder to get us turned without too much drama. (I’ve certainly rolled more since).

And as we put the winds and seas behind us, it was like the 8 ft. waves disappeared.  Dauntless was transformed form this bucking bronco to the old grey mare.  The combination of our speed going in the direction of the waves and her hull form, made the waves almost disappear.

Right then and there, we knew we had made the right decision.

The Ocean is So Blue

This surprised us.  Having been in the Bahamas this winter, when the water as not so deep, it was so blue, like you are looking at a swimming pool.  But the deeper parts, like “Tongue of the Ocean” where the water is over 5,000 feet deep, the water is a dark navy blue color.

So, one of the first things Julie and I noticed a day out of Nova Scotia, was how blue the water was.  Not navy blue, but a lighter shade.  It took us more than a day to get off the continental shelf where the water goes from a few hundred feet deep to over 10,000 feet.

Mid-Atlantic Blue Ocean
Mid-Atlantic Blue Ocean

By day three, we were in very deep water, over 14,000 feet deep, yet the water was so blue, not dark, like you could almost see the bottom.  It called to us like the Sirens of the ancient world.  Many times, I felt like jumping in, the only thing stopping me, the knowledge that on the open ocean, simple acts beget tragedies.

Finally, the sun came out and we had two nice days, winds less than 10 knots, 1 to 2’ waves, really nice motoring weather.  So we stopped the boat to take a swim.  Left the engine running, but not in gear obviously, and tied a 40’ line to the stern, just in case of who knows what.  Now, we of course did not both go in the water at the same time, we didn’t even take off our clothes at the same time, in fact, Julie waited until the next day.  But as I jumped in the ocean, I could not but feel great.  The water was so blue under the boat, almost sky blue, and surprisingly, so salty. It tasted much saltier than before.  Julie confirmed that also when she took her swim the following day.

We did see wildlife.  Not as much as along the coast though.  We only saw dolphins a few times, but one group was really large, more than 30.  They swam with us for only a few minutes, whereas in the past, I’ve had dolphins spend 30 to 50 minutes with us. We also had a pair of birds hitch a ride.  Happily, both flew off under their own power after a much needed rest the following day.

A Mid Atlantic Turtle
A Mid Atlantic Turtle

A few days from the Azores, we sighted what we initially thought was a float, but it turned out to be a turtle, just floating on the surface. Then an hour later, another turtle.  We also had our only whale sighting, a couple of Humpbacks, maybe q quarter mile south.

Maybe the birds even helped themselves to the flying fish we would find on deck each morning.  Sometimes we can see their impact 5’ or 6’ above the deck level on the salon wall or windows.  They are also pretty small, just a few inches long.  The flying fish we encountered in the Bahamas were much larger, but then so were the waves that night.

And just before Flores, we had a half dozen squid ranging in size from two to six inches long, on deck. I’m guessing the squid got there thru the deck scuppers as the boat rolls in the waves.  The only problem was that sometimes I did not find them for a day, in which case we really did start to smell like a trawler.

We need a cat.

A FLores Cat

It’s Showtime

.OK, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has finally come to get this show on the road

Dauntless is loaded, (I wish I was) and most stuff is put away, well, at least on the outside of the boat.

After more than 5 years of dreaming, hoping, wishing, planning, reading and even some arithmetic, the time has finally come to shove off.

In about 4 hours, Sunday, 20 July 2014, Dauntless, with Julie and I will depart our home away from home in Providence, Rhode Island and set our sights on the Portuguese islands of the Azores.

But before we can even go east, we must travel down the Narragansett River, then northeast through Buzzards Bay, to pass through the Cape Cod Canal in midafternoon when we will have favorable currents.

From then, we’ll see how we feel, whether to anchor one last time in North America at the tip of Cape Cod or to turn right and head east.

While our route is somewhat dependent on weather and seas, we are planning on the great circle route (course 082° T) from Cape Cod to the Azores as it takes one southeast of Nova Scotia, east along 42°N then east-southeast.

Our planned route
Our planned route

1900 nm, it will take 13 days, maybe 12 with the following seas we hope to have, we will pretty much be riding over the top of the Bermuda/Azores High.

We now have a Delorme InReach Satellite Phone. It will only do texts, but it does allow two way communications all the way across the ocean.  You can follow our route with updates every 10 minutes and/or contact us by going to the website

Once on the above page, on the left column, you click on my name, which allows you to select the other buttons above, Locate, Message, and Center.  So Locate pings the phone, basically updating the map. Message allows you to send us a text message and Center, does just that, it re-centers the map.

I’ll pretty much have the InReach on until I get to winter quarters, probably in Ireland, probably at the end of September.

Dauntless – It’s Not Just a Name

An Update

After 5 years of planning, reading, thinking, asking, listening and worrying, we are just days away from leaving

Thanks to Parks and the cat, at Hopkins-Carter, I got a great deal on a whole bunch of stuff, including a Digital Yacht Class B AIS Transponder, which just went live minutes ago.

I even installed the silent switch.

AIS, Ship's Computer, Maretron multiport connector, IPG and USB, Fuse Block
AIS, Ship’s Computer, Maretron multiport connector, IPG and USB, Fuse Block

My MMSI is 367571090.

The computer is from Island Time PC and everything is running though that, including Wifi extender.  Call Bob, he is great and always ready to help, even when I’m doing something stupid.

I should have done it months ago, but it is what it is. Now, I must figure out how to get Coastal Explorer to see my Maretron Network.  The rest of the programming, I figure I can learn during the next few weeks.  I should be somewhat adept by the time I get to the Azores.  Luckily, you don’t need much navigation to cross the Atlantic, just ask Columbus.

I will take pictures and document all the changes, hopefully in the next few days, before we leave, (though is you have been paying attention, I’ve been promising that for months).

Also, stay tuned, as I will also be giving you the Delorme Earthmate link for Dauntless. Then you can ping and even text me.

Gotta Go.  Much left to do, like getting new compass to talk to ComNav and where is that Alternator and why does it have so many wires on the back??  I knew I should have taken a picture of it BEFORE I disconnected everything. EEK


How I almost Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory or When a Shortcut, Isn’t!

Chubb Cay to Dollar Harbour, 30 January 2014, Thursday,

It’s Oh Dark Thirty, really, 3:00 a.m.  If I want to get to Cat Cay today, it’s 76 nm @ 6.5 knots, that’s 12 hours, plus the usual hour of hijinks, so I either leave now or drive in the dark. Since for the first few hours this morning I can follow the route I took back in December, it’s better for me to leave now in the darkness, but on a known route.  I also can’t wait to try my new driving lights, but as there is nothing in front of me, I don’t see anything.

Hauled anchor, at 3:45 a.m. and am now underway.  I’m very close to the cold front.  Forecasters had it between Florida and Bimini, but the winds switched around last night to the NW meaning it or part of it, passed thru, however, as I get underway, I notice the winds are again from the SE and I can sense buildups just to my west.  Sure enough, in about an hour, I am going thru heavy rain for about half an hour.  Once again I am passed the front, hopefully this time for good. (Sadly, was not the case and the third time, was at the most critical time.) As the sun came up at 6:30, the very light NW winds just caused barely a ripple on the ocean.  Good cruising weather.

I picked up a hitchhiker for about half an hour.

A Tern Takes a Ride
A Tern Takes a Ride

Been anchored here in Dollar harbor (thanks to Active Captain) 30 minutes, since 17:15, a 14 hour day,  just got out of the shower and now, finally It’s Miller Time, but I’m having stiff drink.  As my mother would say, a highball.

So let’s go back to the videotape. The plan worked well. Would have worked even better had I remembered to look at my Explorer Chart Book of the Bahamas, which was three feet away on the chart table in front of my face all f…day.  (the downside of getting up at 3 a.m.?)

So all was going well.  By leaving so early, the seas were flat for the first 9 hours, it wasn’t till early afternoon that the southerly waves picked up in the shallow water west of the tongue of the ocean.  Small waves about a foot, but once in a while they would hit the boat strangely and cause a disconcerting thump.  I’m making good time too, 1600 rpms, but averaging 7 knots.

At this point, it’s midafternoon and I’m only about 10 nm Southeast of the Cat Cay lighthouse, and I am following the exact route I took coming out, but am wondering why I took that route as it seems a little off from what my Navionics charts are saying.  Especially when I got to the real shallow area that I had come straight thru last month.  Shallow, so cruising slowly for an hour, like 5 kts, with only 1 to 3 feet under the keel.  Luckily, as the water got skinny, I made sure I was exactly on that track, though I did test it, by going north and south of the track to see if it improved. It didn’t.  OK, so I get thru that part and now I’m 3 nm SE of the lighthouse, but it my Navionics says I can try to get to Dollar harbor by coming from the NE on the east side of South Cat Cay.

Interesting. Not one to pass up an opportunity (to save an hour)I slow down even more and give it a try, within minutes the rudder becomes sluggish, I immediately make a sharp U turn and add power as the depth sounder stopped sounding, which means it’s in the mud, sand.  Within a heart stopping  30 seconds, I have at least some water underneath.  OK, all is good, I retrace my steps, get back on course a and once again head NW to the lighthouse and the gap between South and North Cat Cay.

Now, in part because of the wasted time, this storm that has been building is now here, so I go thru the narrow cut south (must hug shore to within 100 ft) of the lighthouse in raging seas and wind.  100 m visibility in heavy rain and wind.  When I get to the west side, it is far worse, as there seem to be two different wave trains and their both 6 to 8 ft.  I realize at this point, that I need sea room no matter  what the seas, so I continue west into the deeper water, >40ft, before I turn South,

Now, I’m wondering what to do, The rain is so heavy, I can’t see the inlets or the rocks just to my left, I don’t trust my chart plotter or my navionics App and the wind is from the North, so continuing on and crossing the Gulf Stream is out of the question.

A light dawns, Like the sun burning though the morning fog, I remember my trusty Explorer Chart Book.  Open it to the pertinent page and low and behold it has all the answers.  It showed why I had previously taken the route I had, plus it showed that the only way to the Dollar anchorage was from the southwest.

I decided to play it safe for once and come all the way south of Wedge Rocks as the channel there looked a bit deeper and wider, on the chart, so I just gritted my teeth and accepted that I would have a rough ride for the next 30 minutes.  The visibility was still bad enough I could not the rocks or breakers, so I wondered about turning into the inlet when the time came, but as it was it was all anti-climactic.  As soon as I was south of the rocks, I turned, and the seas died down to just 2-3’.  Looking at the chart it confirmed the AC advice and it was a piece of cake.  I had 14 ft. of water all the way to this anchorage. There was some wind, but absolutely no boat movement (and for a full displacement boat, that says a lot).  There is a strong current which is keeping Dauntless parallel to the channel, but this is the quietest anchorage I have had in the entire time in the Bahamas.

Here are two videos, but it’s hard to get WordPress to play nice with pictures. So go to  for the rest of the pictures in descending chronological order.
Finally,  It’s Miller Time and here is one of my favorite Miller time T-shirts at