It’s Cut & Dry

It’s amazing how what happens or doesn’t happen on the boat can make such a difference in my mood.

In some weird way, I am not that competitive with other people. In fact, in the workplace, I have always been a total team player, giving credit even when it isn’t due to others and being oblivious when it turned out I was the ONLY team player.

But I am very competitive with myself.

I beat myself up badly when things don’t go as planned. If I fix something that doesn’t stay fixed or can’t figure out what the problem is, leads to many sleepless nights.

It’s even worse when in trying to solve one problem, I cause another.  This pretty much sums up my last 4 weeks.

But before we talk about that debacle, let’s talk about a little success.

Jabsco sea water pump

Last year, I decided that one of my projects was to solve the leaking Jabsco Impeller pump issue.

It was leaking from the cover and because of its location, it leaks right on top of the steel engine mount frame that sits on the stringer. Saltwater on steel is not good.

Not a bad leak, like a drip, drip drip. The sea strainer had a similar leak from the top gasket. Annoying in its own way, because the route for that water was all the way to the front of the engine room on the outside of the stringer, thru the limber hole located there and then back to the bilge on the inside of the stringer.

This constant wetness causes mold and keeps the engine room damper than I like.

Sea strainer with new gasket

My attempts to stop the leaks only made them worse.

On the other hand, I had not had the impeller cover in more than two years. I’ve never really had any impeller problems.

I decided that this winter in Wrangell was the time to get these long-term problems  done once and for all.

First step was to take the entire Jabsco pump/gear off the engine. That was relatively easy, though it took a call to a friend to confirm that I needed a little brute force disconnect to free the pump from the engine. A whack with my rubber mallet did the job. (I thought this was rather obvious and I hated asking someone, BUT I’ve had those thoughts before, and disaster ensued. I decided it better to be safe than sorry).

Took  the pump to the local guy Tyler, who like before, took my little job of resurfacing the face and the cover of the bronze pump. I appreciate his doing so since his main job is making propeller shafts and very big bearings for the bigger boats and fabricating other things from stainless steel.

$20 later my pump was done, and I took it back to Dauntless.

Old drive shafts that have been replaced by new

Only took me a quarter of an hour to put it back on the engine. While this was going on, I also changed the anodes on the main heat exchanger and made a new neoprene gasket for the sea waster strainer.

  1. A quarter of an hour is a bit of an exaggeration, in that it took me another week to find the neoprene gasket material that was stored someplace in the engine room. In my digging, I found some thicker material that was even better and moved the neoprene to a location where I would be able to find it easier. It did NOT need to be stored with those engine parts I will probably never use, like water pump, starter and Alternator.

Once everything was buttoned up, I started the engine, first letting it turn over for 15 seconds before actual start.

It felt so good to have the engine running again. This engine has gotten me over 25,000 miles in the last 7 years. I know it will never let me down.

The relief that flooded over me was unexpectedly powerful. No water leaks, no oil leaks when the pump is mounted to the engine. All was right with the world.

Now my bilge is relatively dry. Now I really don’t want a totally dry bilge. I like my bilge pump to activate a few times a week. With the slow drip from the stuffing box, the pump will go on for a second about twice a week.

With constant rain, it will go off once or twice a day, as water gets in the lazzerette hatch drain gutters, even though I cleaned those gutters and its drain.

Frequently use of every critical part or system is the best preventive medicine. That way when problems crop up, they are noticed immediately.  A month ago, while I was having my heater issues (more on that next time), I turned on my forward A/C unit for the first time in more than a year. Of course, no joy.

It took a day of tracing wires and breakers before I finally found the main power plug under the helm had become disconnected. I would have found this much sooner had I been using the unit more frequently. But as happens, over a long period of time, as I change one thing or another, my first thought is that one of those changed was the problem. Therefore, I spent a lot of fruitless time looking at non-obvious stuff, before I found the simple solution.

So, that’s why I like an almost dry bilge. I want to know right away if there is a problem. If the bilge pump or level float (which triggers the pump) stops working, I will know in a few days or week, when I see more than a few inches of water in the bilge.

If the bilge was totally dry, I would never know, until I possibly had a major water inflow and then I would have to fix the problem immediately.

Use it or lose it.

Coming up next, the Wallas debacle or how one problem led to a bigger (more expensive) problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neah Bay to Bedwell Harbor and Checking into Canada

Cape Flattery. Neah Bay is on the middle right.

It’s not for the faint hearted.

As I rounded Cape Flattery, I was careful not to take any shortcuts. After a full day at sea, it’s always tempting to cut that last corner, but I resisted the urge this time!

I went to sleep a little after 07:00 having just cruised 25 hours from Astoria Oregon. I was so glad to be done with the eastern Pacific and the almost constant head winds and seas.

Three hours later (I’ve known for many years that my natural sleep cycle is about 3 hours, so whenever possible I try to plan on getting 3, 6 or 9-hours sleep) I was ready to go.

Engine start was 11:15; I hauled my trusty Delta anchor and was underway by 11:30. Just before getting underway I was hit by a local’s 3-foot wake wave caused by him entering the harbor at 30 knots. I suppose that was my welcome to Washington State!

Neah Bay to Reid Harbor and Bedwell Harbor B.C.

I was headed to Reid Harbor. An overnight stop there would allow me to leave early the next morning and get to Bedwell Harbor, the spot for Canada check-in.

The last time Dauntless was in Canada was in Nova Scotia 5 Years earlier.

Looking at the tides & currents, it was critical that I get in and out of Bedwell before 08:00. This would allow me to make the passage thru the narrow channels to Vancouver with the current, that was as strong as 6 knots.

There was another issue, Canada Customs. They have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.  They seem to think every American:

  • Is armed to the teeth,
  • Is a druggie
  • Or wants to move to their socialistic paradise.

Now, while that may be true; it’s not me.  And when I have

Reid Harbor

places to be, I get impatient the third time they ask if I have any guns, illegal drugs or why I have 50 bottles of wine (I was in France and it’s a long cruise!).

I didn’t want to take any chances with an overly officious officer. I wasn’t carrying anything illegal or planning on leaving anything in Canada, but sometimes they can be prickly, and I couldn’t afford to miss the favorable currents.

The Customs Office opened at 08:00; but that was too late for my currents, so I needed to be there by 07:00. That had the dual advantage that I could use the phone to check-in, and I could make the strong currents going north to get to Vancouver by mid-afternoon.  (Yes, like too often, I had a time commitment).

I arrived in Reid Harbor at 22:15. 82 nm, and 11 hours after leaving Neah Bay at an average speed of 7.5 kts (1 knot current assisted).

While the sun had set an hour ago, it was maybe only 30 minutes after nautical twilight, so it was now dark, dark. There were a few boats already anchored around the bay, so I had to pick by way carefully in.

The telephone to check-in

In fact, while getting ready to anchor in my first chosen spot, a house onshore, flashed lights at me. Not knowing what that meant, I moved a couple hundred meters south.

It was a great anchorage; a peaceful night and I was up bright an early at 05:00 ready to get underway for the short one-hour trip to Canada and Bedwell Harbor.

An hour and twenty minutes later, I was in Bedwell Harbor. It was easy to get in and out and had a very nice dock for boats to tie to for check-in into Canada.

I walked up the ramp, called the phone number above the phones on the wall and a nice lady in eastern Canada took my information (Name, passport number, boat information) and wished me a pleasant trip.

15 minutes after tying up, I was underway to Vancouver B.C.

I love it when the plan comes together.

My confirmation number

Two related You Tube videos:

Vlog 14 Arriving at Neah Bay

Vlog 15, Neah Bay to Bedwell BC is not ready yet. In a couple of days. If you subscribe on my You Tube channel, you will get notified.

Dauntless at the Customs’ dock

 

 

A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar

Our chart leaving the Columbia River Bar

The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.

And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.

So, more on those problems later.

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Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.

Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.

Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.

As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless,  4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.

The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?

I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.

I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.

As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.

The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.

Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.

It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.

One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.

In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.

That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.

But then you all know that.

 

The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:

Dauntless at Sea Vlog 12

 

Two Weeks So Far & Still Bitterly Cold

It’s been below freezing since the new year began. The first few days of the year were only in the mid-20’s, but for the last 10 days temperatures in Wrangell have stayed in the small range of 8° to 15°F (-13° to-8°C).

Thien on his way to school

This is the coldest outbreaks Southeast Alaska has experienced in more than 10 years. The 5,000 ft temperature at Annette (the location of the rawinsonde) temperature of -21.9C is believed to be the coldest ever.

Dauntless and its denizens have fared ok. We have been able to keep the dock water running, which gives me one less thing to worry about. Should the dock water freeze, we can live of the water tanks in the boat for 6 days, but after that, it would fall on me to figure out how to replenish our water.

Like most teenagers worldwide, Thien just bundles up and accepts what is, without complaint. He, like I, looks at our trials and tribulations, like the adventures they are.

Weather data. You can see the winds have up to 27 knots, now 18 kts. Temp is 17F, -8C.

His mother is a bit more sanguine. When people around the world dream of living in America, Alaska is not part of that vision.

No, their vision is more like California, but without high taxes, high costs, countless regulations and homeless people. Warm weather all the time, friendly people, good schools.

Last night, we got pummeled by the Taku winds, cold air being pushed off the mountains to our east and roaring down the fjords. Juneau had winds last night as high as 90 mph. Here in Wrangell, at the dock on Dauntless, the most we have seen is 27 knots (30 mph). It does make for a ride that is a little bouncy, but I can put up with anything when tied to the dock.

Looks like our cold spell will be breaking by early next week. By this time next week, we should be back in the more normal pattern of southwest winds and rain. Which is good, since I won’t have to chip any ice.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Surviving Winter on a Boat

We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.

I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.

Looking over the bow

A heating pad is a requirement if you are living in a cold winter climate. Before the heating pad came into my life, when I would return to the boat after some week’s absence, that first night was so cold. I could never tell if the bed was wet or just cold. (It was just cold).

We are still hooked up to dock water. Dauntless is located at the far end of the dock. The harbor keeps a valve open at the end of the dock to keep the water from freezing. It’s been successful so far.

We had a little cold spell a few weeks ago and I made the mistake of not running the water in the boat all night. The first night, my water hose and filter froze. Now, for the last 5 days since this cold spell, I have kept the midships head sink running water on and now even turn on the forward head sink. I also have the hose that is connected to the dock water running under the boat, so just a few feet are exposed to the cold air.

Our water tanks are full with about 250 gallons of water, so that is our fallback position if we lose dock water.

Our Wallas DT40 heater in the engine room

I had taken our storm windows off while the boat was in Mexico. Never needed them for wave protection, but they acted wonderfully in not allowing any condensation on the pilot house windows during the winter. Once the wind stops blowing, I will pull them out of storage and ready them to put back up. The pilot house is very cold now, near 38°F. My curtain keeps the cold air there as the salon is almost 70.

My bigger issue is that we will be taking the boat out again in February when halibut season opens, and I want to stop the condensation on the windows.

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On a different note, I have uploaded another YouTube piece on my trip from California to Alaska. The first 15 minutes of the video are interesting, after that it gets dark and hard to see anything.

Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska Vlog 07, 30 June 2019  An Unexpected Stop

In addition, Tee has uploaded a video with English subtitles about catching crab. She makes good videos unlike your truly. Her latest video on her channel

 

 

BBQing in the Snow of Winter

My first wife was a vegetarian. While I wasn’t, I did eat less mean than previously and tried not to cook meat that produced smoke (like hamburger) in the house. Therefore, since the mid-‘70’s, I’ve had a BBQ grill no matter where I lived.

Whether in Fairbanks, Alaska, Italy, Germany or now, on Dauntless, I’ve always had a grill. Since the early ‘80’s, when I lived alone in Southern California, I came to appreciate the convenience of a gas-powered grill.

For 30 years, I’d always buy the cheapest two or three burner BBQ I could find. They would typically last half a dozen years before it was time for a replacement. Sometimes that replacement could be hastened, as when moving to a new house in Fairbanks, the grill was packed in the back of the pickup and at some point, fell out.

Oops.

Fast forward a decade, living in a typically small one-bedroom apartment in New York (Manhattan to the uninitiated), I had only a little hibachi that we would put on the windowsill of our apartment to use.

We wanted a real terrace or patio, so we could have a real BBQ grill again. Though we were able to satisfy our craving for burnt meat as we did BBQ almost every weekend on my mother’s apartment terrace in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach/Coney Island.

So, we started looking for a new rental apartment in New York and going to listing of an apartment building that I had actually looked at one year earlier, on 57th St. We really like the location and the building, though the apartment itself had a weird layout, as did its terrace.

The Weber Q-280 in the summer of 2014

In talking to the real estate agent, Dennis Daniel, (for anyone looking for a place in NY), he convinced us that we should and could buy an apartment in New York instead of renting. He was a true master in terms of helping us understand what we really wanted and then helping us recognize it when we saw it.

Thus in 2007, When we moved to our new rooftop apartment in New York in 2007.  Having spent half a million dollars for a one-bedroom apartment, I considered our choice of grills. This was the primary reason we had moved after all.

Reading so many rave reviews about the Weber, I figured the extra few hundred dollars it would cost was worth it. Thus, in the summer of 2007, I bought my first Weber, the Genesis.

My Weber Genesis in the spring of 2013 on our roof top in NY
Another view of the rooftop with the Weber (under cover) on the right

A cooking pamphlet came with the grill, which essentially said, forgot what you think you know, do it this way and your foods, will come out perfectly.

I did and they did. Other than following directions and understanding the difference between direct and indirect heat, the build quality and more importantly the heavy iron materials used, made all the difference.

With its heavy cast iron components, the grill was able to hold heat extremely well. Thus, I did make the best steaks I had ever cooked. The reviews raving about the Weber were spot on. It did make a difference. I even used the Weber to bake apple pies, since I was able to put a little smoke into them. While I miss that Weber and that rooftop a little, I also know that it set the stage for my circumnavigation on Dauntless. I’d been there 7 years, the longest I’d lived anywhere in the previous 50 years. Dauntless had come into our lives and it was time to move on. I also know myself well enough that I’d get bored with heaven after 7 years.

In the first months with Dauntless, still in Florida before we made the trip to the Northeast, I found a light, “boat” grill. I figured I was on a boat, I had to make a sacrifice. There really wasn’t room for a larger Weber “portable” grill.

While coming north on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), we used the grill once. What a disappointment. It had trouble really getting hot. But within a couple of days the ICW solved the problem for me. The grill was mounted on the port rail near the stern.

One day while motoring northward, I got too close to a channel marker that was mounted on a telephone pole stuck in the water. I panicked and instead of turning the wheel, I tried to turn off the autopilot, but didn’t succeed. The pole swept along the port side rubbing on the rub rail until it got the grill, at which point it mangled the grill and mounting bracket that I had had made for it.

The grill ended up in the dumpster in St. Augustine. The Dutch friends who were with me at the time, had come from rainy Holland to get some sun, found Florida with the worst weather in years. When they left to return to Holland a week later, they were thankful to get away with their lives and back to the rain they were familiar with.

Could have been worse.

Besides you’ve read about all these close calls before. Well, most of them!

Weber had the Q-280, which was the largest of their “portable” grills and would use a normal 20-pound propane connection. I got it and it had been on Dauntless ever since.

Getting ready yesterday

I’ve grilled in temperatures as cold as minus 30°F (-35°C) in Fairbanks, so I wasn’t going to let a little snow get in the way yesterday.

Almost done

We had planned to have steaks and we did. Delicious as ever. Thanks Weber.

Resting with butter
Sooooo Goooood

 

 

 

 

A Miserable Trip

Vallejo to Crescent City California, 26 to 28 June 2019.

I’m finally getting around to writing in detail about my cruise up the west coast.

Since this is a past summary, I am going to change the format a bit. I have also started a You tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I am posting the Go Pro videos, I took along with some commentary of what is going on.

So, this blog will be a short summary about the start of my voyage to Alaska in the summer of 2019. We (John a friend/crew joined me from California to Astoria, left Vallejo on 26 June and arrived in Crescent City on the evening of the 28th. It was a miserable trip.

The Maretron Data says it all. This data is sourced from a number of different instruments, among them: the solid state compass, the GPS and the Weather Sensor. The scales for Pitch (lower left) and Roll (lower right) are purposely set at my “miserable limit”. This means for pitch that +2.0 degrees (which is actually down direction) and -4.0 degrees (up) is really miserable. Same for the roll, once it gets to 20 degrees in any direction (it’s bigger on the lee side [away from the wind] of the boat).

 

The data above shows the first three days were punctuated by three significant bouts of head seas, 3 to 5-foot waves on short 3 or 4 second periods which produced a miserable hobby horse ride, with constant pitching up and down.

Adding insult to injury, this also slowed the boat considerably, so instead of doing our normal 6+ knots, we were in the 3.8 to 4.8 range. Yes, that also means the miserable ride is 50% longer than normal, while fuel consumption remains steady, based on engine rpms, but fuel consumption per mile is also 25% down. Therefore, the miserable time is extended, and you pay 50% more for the experience.

Here is a little summer by period:

Cumm time Hr:min  Dist (nm) per time pd Avg speed (kts) Cumm Dist (nm) Running avg sp (kts)
1:17 1:17        8        6.1        8    6.23
25:17 24:00    138        5.8    146    5.77
49:17 24:00    136        5.7    282    5.24
55:17 6:00      42        7.0    324    5.86

 

That first 1 hr. and 17 minutes was the time it took to leave Vallejo and stop in Benicia for fuel. So the next time period started once we left Benicia.

Overall, it was 324 nautical miles in 55 hours and 17 minutes. We anchored in 12 feet of water in Cresencet City Bay at 19:54 on the 28th.

My You Tube channel is a work in progress. Please feel free to leave comments on You Tube about any suggestions or things I need to explain better or clarify. I am also still debating as to how to best upload the long Go Pro videos that frankly are quiet boring.

Here is a link to a Google search:

Google Dauntless at Sea North to Alaska

Note the third item is the song, North to Alaska by Johnny Horton, a pretty good song.

Coming up, running aground in the Bay, as the Fuel guy watches and waits.

 

 

24 Hours, 2 Shrimp, 2 Crab, Bad Batteries, a Poor Forecast and a Dying Engine

Saturday was supposed to be a respite between the storm systems that roll over the North Pacific and into the Gulf of Alaska. Light winds, periods of no rain. That’s great.

Even with 17 knot winds, the seas were relatively flat

It wasn’t to be.

Since the beginning, I’ve told anyone who would listen to never bet your safety on a weather forecast. And in my hay day, I was a very good weather forecaster. The WSFO in Juneau writes a great weather discussion and does a great job overall in a very difficult environment, where local effects significantly affect the local weather.

Saturday looked to be the best day of the week, so I planned on an overnight. We would go to Woronofski Island and leave our crab pot that in the past has been very good. Then we would head south along Zimovia Strait about 8 miles and drop a shrimp pot on each side of the strait in about 300 and 180 feet of water respectively. Then, instead of heading another hour south to anchor in a more protected bay, I decided we could anchor just off Wrangell Island, in a little channel, with a little island to the west.

The Maretron data showing pitch and roll. This was taken while we were on anchor. Honestly, the pitching on this looks worse than I remember it. And I hate pitching.

Untying the lines Saturday noon, the winds were light, but there was light rain. As we motored out of the harbor, the winds picked up significantly. They were southerly at 17 knots!

Now that’s normally a showstopper. But being in Southeast Alaska, even though in this case the winds are channeled down the strait, the seas these winds produced were only about one foot. I’ll take it. I’m guessing the winds just picked up and had been light overnight.

As we headed south, winds continued about 15 knots on our bow, but again no real waves.  We dropped the first shrimp pot and headed to drop the second.

All went well. The little channel was just as it looked on the charts. We anchored in 30 feet of water. The anchor dragged about 30 feet before it set, I could hear/feel it being pulled over rocks. I decided to put the snubber on, since the winds had not let up and were in the mid-teens coming up the strait.

This Kadey Krogen is more reactive to the current than winds. So, I knew we would sit parallel to shore facing south until the current turned and then we would turn around. We’ve done this many times and my Delta anchor has never dragged.

I could hear the snubber rubbing as we changed direction a couple of times that night (night for me starts when the sun goes down, 16:00 to 08:00), but that’s not what got me up.

For the last few months, my batteries have been acting sulfated, in spite of being equalized a few times. I have four 8D batteries, each with 230 amp-hours. They are four years old and I had already separated them then checked the individual voltages after some time. They were all within 0.01v; that’s very good.

If the load on the fully charged batteries is 20 amps, then the voltage plummets quickly. In three and a half hours, the voltage was 12.51 at minus 56 amp-hours. Not terrible

Our chart showing Dauntless at the spot for the 1st shrimp pot.

I decided we would run the generator for an hour, to renew our hot water and batteries for the evening before bed. The Genny started after a minute of coaxing. When I turned it off an hour and quarter later, with the voltage 13.14v and the batteries at -26 amp-hrs. OK

An hour later, it was 12.73v and -44 amp-hr.  Great, but as expected, only 4 hours later, I got up to check and the voltage was 10.50v at only -82 amp-hrs., that’s an SOC of 91%. I started the gen and went back to sleep. Nicely, I can hardly hear the gen in my cabin. I woke up again at 04:00, three hours later, and turned it off.

At 06:15 I got up for good and the voltage was still 12.77v at -47 amp-hrs.

Our anchor spot

At 07:00 I turned on the gen, just to help facilitate the hot water kettle and rice cooker. I left the gen on as I pulled up the anchor also.

Now, the last little hiccup.

Since the gen was running, I wanted to see how well the windlass worked on gen power versus engine power, so I started pulling up the anchor. I had already taken the snubber off earlier that morning.

I was so enthralled with how vigorous the windlass was on the generator that it wasn’t until the anchor was off the bottom that I realized I had not started the engine.

Ooops – Welcome to my world

Start the engine and within a minute it is running very rough. Oh no, what now. I run down to the engine room and the engine sounds terrible. All kinds of wild thoughts ran thru my mind in seconds. All of them expensive.

In the engine room, a quick glance shows no obvious problems. That tank feed is open, as is the return. Then I see that the vacuum gauge on the Racors is showing 12 inches of Hg. That means the engine has been starved of fuel because…

I check the fuel valves again. An added factor is the additional three valves on the aux fuel pump. I use this pump to fill the filters and bleed the system when I change fuel filters.

I notice that the gravity feed valve is closed. Oops, I close it when I fill the 10-liter Wallas Heater fuel tank.

Opening that valve, allows the vacuum gauge to go to zero. Good. We start the engine again and after about a minute, it is running like normal.

Now, back under power and underway, we got to our shrimp pot and haul it in to discover all of two shrimp and a spider crab on the outside. The spider crab went back to the sea.

The second shrimp pot was empty and the crab pot, which previously had 10 crab, now had two.

6 hours of engine time, plus 6 hours of Gen time means 6×1.4+6.1=14.4 gallons of fuel @$3.52 here =$50 for 2 shrimp and 2 Dungeness crabs. Not Bad.

Never complain about the boat or weather, because it can always get worse.

All in all, 24 hours later, we were back to the dock; an interesting day.

All’s Well that Ends Well.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost Anchor, Lost Shrimp Pots, Lost Daylight

The week started ominously over some spilled rice. I had dropped about half a cup of rice on the galley floor. I told Tee I would take care of it and then I froze.

Sitting at the Dock in Wrangell.
White anchor on left is secondary. Primary anchor is on right.

Had I been alone, the dustpan would have come out and that little pile of rice would have been over the side before anyone knew what happened. But Tee was staring at me, which I knew not to be good.

The Vietnamese say rice grains are “diamonds from God”. I knew if I even reached for the dustpan, we would be talking disasters on the biblical scale. No. I stayed frozen.

Seeing my inaction, Tee took her two hands and scooped the rice right up, while grumbling in Vietnamese.  Just then Thien got back from school and Tee told him the story of how her bright husband, who seems to know so much about everything, can’t seem to do the simplest things.

Cruising South in the Eastern Passage. Wrangell Island is to our right (west). Notice on the Maretron display the winds are already 15 knots.

They laughed all evening at that and later added that reading too much causes stupidity. Now I did see some truth in that, as throughout my life, I have sometimes struggled with the simplest things, always thinking it’s more complicated than it actually is.

That was Friday evening.  We would go shrimping for the first time the next day.

Saturday started out unwell. It was a real litany of what not to do.

Sunrise is around 08:15, sunset 15:15, remember that for later.

We had just gone thru the coldest days Dauntless has ever seen, with temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. On this Saturday, our dock water hose was frozen. In what turned out to be the only thing I did right in this entire process, I had filled both of the water tanks on Dauntless in case we lose dock water. Now, the Harbor Maser here has his act together, as I noticed they had the end of the water line open during freezing temperatures, thus keeping the water flowing.

Our track having left the 2nd shrimp pot, the crab pot and now anchored

So, while water was not a problem, it still took some time to disconnect the frozen hose and put it away. Then, we spent 20 minutes trying to get the frozen lines off the boat. By then everyone was cold and miserable; at least I was. But Tee and Thien get excited about fishing, so our 2-and-a-half-hour cruise to Mahan Bay, on the east side of Wrangell Island, went pretty quickly.

Another boating friend here in Wrangell lent us a shrimp pot. We also bought one while on sale here in town, so we had two shrimp pots and one crab pot.

The plan was to put one shrimp pot in about 320’ of water at the mouth of the bay, the second further up the bay in about 150’ of water; lastly in the crab pot in about 40’ hear the shore. We would then anchor in deeper water, about 200’ and fish for a couple of hours.

Thien on the way to school Friday morning, walking on a frost covered dock

All went to plan, but a few yellow flags were already being waived and ignored by yours truly.

First, wanting to not have a departure in the dark, I did not start the engine until 08:45. Then it took 30 minutes just to disconnect the water hose and get the frozen lines undone. So, we were not underway until 09:15.

Running against the current, we did not get to Mahan Bay until 11:35, where we set the first shrimp pot in 320’. This pot only had 400’ of line and in a miscommunication between me and Tee, I wanted to confirm the pot was on the bottom before we released the buoy. Oh well, “the best laid plans of mice and men…

We motored 30 minutes up the bay and set our second shrimp pot. This one we did confirm that the pot was on the bottom and we had about 50 feet of line remaining to the buoy. We then dropped the crab pot just offshore in about 30’ of water and motored back to deeper water to do some fishing.

Tee only a couple weeks earlier having snagged a number of crab.

In one of my brighter moments, since we were anchoring in 160’ of water, I decided to put our secondary anchor down. It has 50’ of chain and 350’ of rode. My reasoning was why put the windlass thru trying to lift 150 of chain and anchor.

It’s now 12:35. We wanted to let the pots sit and fish for two hours.  Which we did, Tee caught two sole or flounder. (we eat everything we catch, even those ugly bullhead (sculpin) fish.

I didn’t even start the engine to retrieve the anchor and get underway until 14:50. Clearly a mistake. The wind had been blowing all day, blowing up the entrance to the bay at 15 to 18 knots. With no real fetch, no real waves, but enough to make little whitecaps. No problem for Dauntless but trying to find a little white pot buoy in a gray sky is another story.

But we were not even there yet. As we wound the anchor rode in, the winch started going slower and slower. Ut Oh. It had done the same thing a couple of months ago. The fix was so simple, I forgot what it was!!

In addition, the wildcat was hitting the chain stripper.  That certainly didn’t help. But after pulling in less than 50 feet of line, it totally stopped. I pushed the reset button on the windlass solenoid, to no effect.

I knew we couldn’t pull this much line and anchor in by hand. In August when this happened in 30 feet of water, it was hard enough.

Tee fishing no matter the wind and rain.

Now, because I read a lot, I had anticipated this for years. Both anchor rodes are connected to short lines in the chain locker so that if all the chain or rode is out, the short line can be untied or cut if need be. That’s what we did. I then tied a large fender to the line and wrote Dauntless on it. I told Tee we would come back next week to get it.

By now, the sun has set, and we could find neither shim pot buoy.

We cruised home in total darkness, getting a few scares as we passed the airport, in that lights look so much closer at night.

I knew we would have no problem finding the anchor, assuming I fixed the winch. But it had also occurred to me that the reason we saw no sign of either shrimp pot was because the current had moved them and therefore, in a strong current, it’s possible the buoy was being pulled underwater! In which case they may never be seen again.

I also felt bad that not only had we left our new shrimp pot; we had left the one we borrowed. I hated to tell Bob that I’d returned without his pot!

Coastal Explorer showing us back home finally after 19:00, 4 hours after sunset.

Losing $500 of gear the first time out was not my idea of a good time.

Maybe I do read too much.

 

Leave the Dance With the One You Brung

I wrote a story for the winter Kadey Krogen magazine, Waypoints.

People occasionally ask me why KK or weren’t you afraid? etc., so I ended up writing a story that was tryly heartfelt.

More than heartfelt, it distilled feelings that have only gotten stronger after 6 years and 25,000 miles.

In a few years, when we’re ready to leave Southeast Alaska to cross the North Pacific, I’ll fill the tanks and cast off the lines, with the knowledge that the boat is ready.

The question has come up again on Trawler Forum, so i thought I would post this and include the Waypoints story, which begins on page 6.

My story is “Leave the Dance, with the One You Brung”

 

Alaska, The Last Frontier

It was 50 years ago for me and still is today.

Dauntless in Baranof Warm Springs

This is my first time living in the Southeast; my last three periods of Alaska habitation having occurred in or around Fairbanks, the heart of the interior.

And the difference between the Interior (of Alaska) and the Southeast is pretty much night and day.

The intense cold of winter in the Interior has a finality to it that is omniscient yet can be fatal. I’ve been afraid at various times in the Interior. In the Southeast, it’s a sea life, certainly dangerous in its own way, but then I’m not afraid of the sea. At least not in a well-found boat, like my Kadey Krogen.

The people are somewhat similar, nice, helpful, but then and now, it just seems Southeast people are even nicer, friendlier and even a bit smarter.

Tee in front of the harbor. Town center is on her right, Dauntless on her left.

Dauntless, Larry, my oldest Alaska friend of 46 years and a stalwart crew mate on Dauntless these last 5 years, and I arrived in Ketchikan almost two months ago.  It’s been a busy two months!

Too busy to go into detail here and now, but as the winter sets in and I have time to take a breath, I’ll fill in the details.

Everything has gone to plan, even our cute, little wedding in Tenakee Hot Springs. I have hours and hours of video of the Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau and of course, Tee and Thien.

Tee on the helm. She is great at it.

The three of us have started the next chapter of our lives in Wrangell. A great little community of about 2500 people. I felt a lot of pressure to decide on the right locality and school for Tee and Thien. While I knew we would be somewhere in the southeast, I didn’t want to settle on the exact location until we had been in the harbor and visited the school. Thien has his last two years of high school to complete.

Tee and Thien enjoy crab and halibut (the gift of some friends)

I’m pleased to say that Wrangell High School could not be better, with a great staff and leadership. That’s not as easy to find as one would think considering all the money we throw at education.

Tee is getting used to living on a boat, having to manage our electrical load and crappy internet access. Thankfully, she is not as terrified as she first was whenever we encountered any waves greater than one foot. We’re up to about two feet now.

On the other hand, both Tee and Thien are fishing fanatics. We certainly are eating a lot of fish the locals would only use for bait. And they LOVE crab, so every once in a while, Tee does see glimmer of her dream life in America. Though I’ll admit that whenever “the dream” is mentioned, I sense a hint of sarcasm, that would make a New Yorker proud.

Maybe more than a hint, as she does her imitation of being on the toilet as the boat is rolling back and fourth!

Feat of crabs. We only kept the largest two.
Salmon head in Vietnamese Hot Pot

Breakup Sex

Quick update. I now have on my You Tube Channel the video that does with this blog post. It’s here Vlog 13 20190704 , The roughest 3 minutes crossing the Columbia Bar and the aftermath

Enjoy

I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.

The chart shows me leaving Astoria

Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.

Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.

After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.

My Route over the bar.

My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:

  • I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
  • Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
  • It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.

    The Maretron data showing pitch and roll

The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.

The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.

In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.

But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.

If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.

Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.

A great afternoon

I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.

But not quite.

Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.

I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.

But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.

As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.

A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.

Who can say no to that; not I.

Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.

By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )

It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.

A perfect night

You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.