Having left Honfleur, Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., we are through the lock to the Seine by 9:00 and we are cruising downstream at warp speed, 10 knots, speed over ground.
I’m finally enjoying my cup of coffee and morning croissant, though a faint order of diesel lingers on my hand.
We escaped, unscathed, so a little diesel with my coffee is acceptable.
We are feeding off the starboard fuel tank, little used since leaving Ireland. I want to balance the boat. I am running the fuel polisher, a larger fuel filter and water separator, which filters 90 gallons of fuel per hour. The only downside to running it while underway is that it does cause a slight reduction of fuel pressure to the engine. Though this has never been a problem.
As we exit the Seine, the color contrasts are marked. Brown mud color for the Seine outflow and blue-green for ocean water. We turn northeast, speed slows to just above 5 knots, but the current will change in our favor in the next hour.
A couple hours later, the current is favorable, but not as strong as I had hoped. At best, we are getting an extra knot. I decide I better check on the filters in the engine room.
I am surprised to see another 2” of water on the bottom (it’s a glass bowl) of the fuel polisher. I turn it off and drain the water. There is also a little water in the primary engine filter (there are two side by side. I can select either one or the other or both or none). I switch to the other filter and also drain the primary filter.
Our speed has increased to 8.4 knots. We are north and east of Le Harve and have about 170 nm to go to Vlissingen. I estimate our ETA of 04:00 Tuesday morning, using an average speed of 6 knots, which I think is on the slow side.
We are starting to roll a bit, only 8°, so we deploy the paravanes. We lose about 1/3 to ½ knots, but the roll is reduced to less than 2°.
I go check the filters again and now am dismayed to see a lot more water in both the primary engine and the fuel polisher (FP). In addition, the FP is showing a vacuum of 23”, with 10” being the point I should change it. It is full of crap and must be changed now. I am worried. It means there is far more water in that tank than I had expected. I must change them again, while underway, at least I think that should be no problem.
I switch the Racor to the other filter, and within a minute I hear the engine laboring; then die before I can do anything. I immediately think back to this morning when I had changed this filter and as I had primed it using the electric fuel pump I installed just for this purpose, I had not let the fuel spray out the top like I normally would to ensure the filter had no air. Instead, I half assed it not wanting to get more fuel on myself.
Sitting there bobbin in the English Channel was sort of peaceful. The engine room is almost cozy. It’s warm, not too hot and very little boat movement is felt. I think I should one day sleep down there, but won’t due to the little issue of possible carbon monoxide poisoning. (For that reason one should not cruise with the salon doors open).
OK, I tell Pierre-Jean to turn off the key and thus turnoff the low oil pressure buzzer. And I take my time changing the two filters and then priming all three again.
A few minutes later, all set, ask him to start the engine, it starts, I turn on the fuel polisher, the engine stops. Now, Pierre-Jean is starting to show concern in his voice. What’s happening?
I tell him, don’t worry, be happy, start the engine again. He does, it does and as I fiddle with the valves, turning off the electric priming pump, I am slow to turn on the gravity feed valve, so the engine dies once more.
A few shenanigans later. I reset everything, re-prime everything. Go to start the engine myself, because I know it will need a bit of throttle and it starts, slow at first, but within seconds, back to its normal pitch and ready to go.
While doing all this, I also decided enough of trying to see what is going on with the starboard tank, now; it was a matter of not wanting any more problems with fuel.
I switched back to the port tank, turned on the FP and it ran until docked 36 hours later. Vacuum never got above 3” no more water was seen in it or the primary engine filter.
We were back underway. The only problem with this kind of stuff is the anxiety it causes. For those next 36 hours, every visit to the engine room was filled with dread. Would there be water? Would the filter be clogged? Did I have two tanks with water in them?
As things got ever rougher, every check increased my confidence that at least that problem was solved. That’s a huge relief.
With the paravanes out, we look like really trawler, so for the second time, we got buzzed by a French military plane. I suppose wanted to make sure we were not trawling for real.
By Sunday evening, at 18:00 the winds were from the NE at 10 knots. Going into the winds at 10 knots is not a problem, at about 14 to 15 knots it starts to become an issue. Since one is going into wind driven waves the period of the waves from the boat’s perspective is reduced, causing the boat to pitch up and down more. This up and down motion, besides being uncomfortable, also greatly reduces the speed of the boat and conversely increases fuel consumption.
Our speed was down to 5 knots, little did I realize that we would never go as fast again.
By midnight, we were down to 1.9 knots. This was partially due to a reduction in rpms because of the oncoming seas, but I made yet another mistake my not think this through.
I had the watch until midnight, and then Pierre-Jean took over until 04:00. During that time I went to by cabin to try to sleep. But we were pitching more and more and I found myself bracing by feet against the wall at the foot of our bed every few seconds. I only got about one hour sleep in the four I was off watch.
As I came back on watch at 04:00 Monday morning, winds were now NE at 15 gusts to 20; seas were only 3’, but right on our bow and very short period. We were pitching about 3° up and down and the rolling was about 4° to each side. Speed was up again with the current to 4.5 knots. But again, I was not understanding that when the current was with us, it would give us a one knot boost for about 4 hours; yet when against us, it would be a negative 4 to 5 knots for 6 hours.
The winds were acting just as forecast three days ago: Less than 12 knots on Sunday, increasing thereafter.
Monday morning, faced with these facts, I should have planned a port for an early afternoon arrival. Pierre-Jean wanted to press on; but so did I. I simply did not want to deal with another country, Belgium. Getting to the Netherlands would make my life easier; form a new phone SIM to better rail transportation. Also, we would be in protected waters so it didn’t matter what the weather did.
All the right reasons for going on, but clearly ignoring the reality.
It had been 24 hours since our departure. Fuel and fuel filters were now OK. But winds were gusting to 20 kts and I knew it was not going to get better!!!
As I look at my log, even now, I am having a hard time understanding what I was thinking. The above rationale notwithstanding, by 14:00 our speed was down again to 2.5 knots, the winds were right on our nose at 20 gusts to 25, the seas were now 4 to 6 feet and our pitching and rolling had doubled from earlier in the morning.
Now was the time to bail out and head for a harbor. We were 12 miles from Calais! Going at our glacial speed it had been off the starboard quarter for hours.
We didn’t and paid the price for the next twelve hours.
A reminder, you can see the details of the route and the location of Dauntless at any time for this coming summer cruise anytime at:
All’s Well that Ends Well. Why do I repeat that so often? To remind myself not to think of the pain and suffering caused by my own foolish behavior. And besides, that’s the ONLY good thing I can take out of the last two days.
During the past few days, I broke about every rule I had vowed never to break:
Don’t enter a strange harbor at night
Don’t back up the boat to dock
Don’t enter strange marina at night
Don’t set out on a cruise with winds in your face from the get go
Don’t travel with current and strong winds in the opposite direction.
Repair little leaks before they get to be big ones
Move the fuel tank vents
Don’t let one problem lead to others
Do preventive maintenance things the day BEFORE departure
Run the fuel polisher while in port
Don’t delay in changing fuel filters as needed
Always do a visual check that all lines are clear when leaving dock
Don’t get a case of “get home-itis”
And if any of the above develop, pull into a port in the daytime and wait it out.
I did none of that.
Let’s rewind the tape and see why that happened.
Larry and Karla were leaving Dauntless for the gay lights of Paris and by coincidence; they were being replaced by someone from Paris, Pierre-Jean who had contacted me a few months ago, as he is really interested in Kadey Krogens.
Our goal was Vlissingen, in the southwest corner of Holland, about 190 nautical miles (210 sm, 350 km), 30 hours at just above 6 knots.
This surface wind chart at earth.nullschool.net is pretty much the only thing I look at. It goes out 4 days and by clicking on any specific point, it provides the wind direction and speed for that point.
Now, listen carefully, when you go to your favorite weather site to get a specific forecast, with all pretty colors and forecasts every minute, all you are getting is the same information in a format that has been made to look attractive. The danger is that those more specific forecasts give the impression of significance that does NOT exist. OK moving on.
Sunday looked to be a good weather day, light winds, but the forecast for the coming days had steadily increasing northeasterly winds from Sunday night thru the end of the forecast period on Wednesday.
NE winds was our worst case scenario, as we had to go NE. In addition, the currents in the English Channel are very strong, 3 to 5 knots, and we had already encountered even stronger currents, contrary winds and very steep standing waves just getting to Honfleur. After that encounter, I had vowed never again.
Never lasted only two days.
I have found that 15 knots of wind is the magic number. Below that speed, no matter the direction, seas stay small and travel is relatively easy. Above that speed, seas start building and the direction and currents start making a big difference.
Well, my forecast was right on. Should have been easy.
Sunday looked to be the best day, light NE winds, increasing to NE at 10 to 15 knots Monday, increasing to 25 to 35 knots Monday night through Tuesday night.
We were leaving Honfleur at 8:30, the time the bridge opened to let us out of the inner harbor. Then one hour down the Seine we would be turning NE ward just as the currents also revered to run NE. Our ETA to Vlissingen was 04:00 Tuesday morning. Now this would mean the last 10 hours would be into strong winds. Pierre-Jean and I talked about the plan and figured if it got bad, we would just pull into French or Belgium port before it got too bad. But how bad could it be?
Famous last words.
Because I had not yet moved the fuel vents, I was diligent about feeding from the windward tank, as Dauntless rolls a bit more to leeward. Having left Waterford with full tanks, the port side tank was finally about 5 inches less than full and therefore showing up on the sight tube. So, I decided to leave Honfleur running on the starboard tanks, to level the boat.
When we had arrived in Honfleur, two days previously, the Fuel Polisher which had been running the whole time while underway, indicated 10” of Hg, which meant it needed to be changed. I also noticed a little water in the bottom of the bowl. So I wrote in my log to change the FP and the port side Racor filters.
I am still mystified why I did not do this before the Sunday departure.
We must be waiting in front of the bridge for the 8:30 opening. I had started the engine and turned on the fuel polisher for the starboard tank at 08:00, we would use the starboard side Racor, which was new.
At 08:15, I do a last minute check in the engine room and decide that I would now change the two filters, thinking better late than never, though I hated the thought of starting my day smell of diesel.
Changing the two filters took about 5 minutes, so with 10 minutes to spare, our lines are cast off and I’m backing out of the slip, with my hands smelling of fuel, even though I had washed them three times.
I must have been distracted.
As we back out, all of a sudden, the bow starts swinging quickly to the right, towards the bowsprit of the two sailboats docked perpendicular to Dauntless. Thinking that it’s wind driven, I quickly give a burst of left full rudder in forward to push the bow to port. That works. OK I try backing straight again, same thing happens at which point the sailboat folks are getting concerned. I straighten the boat again and as I go to look, Pierre-Jean yells that there is still a line tied to the end of the finger pier to our stern. Well, that explains that. We get the line untied and I pull out finally with no drama.
Providence Rhode Island to Castletownbere, Ireland:
3624 nm, 6523 km.;
638 running hours
Average speed 5.7 knots
1013 gallons of fuel consumed
Average = 1.59 gal/hr.
Average 3.6 nm/gal= 1.7 km/liter
Cost of fuel $4000
Cost per nm = $1.1/nm
Stuff that broke: Four Stories and lessons Learned
The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga
The Mast Cleat Adventure
The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Hijinx
Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going
Other Lessons learned
Food and Provisioning
Route Planning and Execution
Organization and Storage of Spare Parts
Odd and Ends
Equipment: Must-haves, Nice-to-Haves
The crux of a successful ocean passage
I first wrote this “Post Mortem” 8 days after the end of our passage, but never published it because I realized it had morphed into many things. Thus there will soon follow a post titled, “Finding the Right Boat” and “Weather or Not”, where I talk about how to, and how not to, use a weather forecast.
Our successful ocean passage was the culmination of a planning process that started 6 years earlier and four years before we even had a boat. The success was due two major things: finding the right boat and having the right attitude. Having the right boat protects fools and drunks. Having the right attitude means you know what to except, from the best to the worst. If your plan is to call the Coast Guard under the “worst” circumstances, stay home.
During the worst of it, while I was miserable, I was not afraid. I knew the Krogen could handle it and even realized she can handle much worse.
The planning and learning process is key to a successful passage. As I had read virtually every account of small boats crossing oceans and books and stories of freighters throughout the 20th Century, I had a good sense as to what worked and what didn’t. That can’t be overstated because it speaks to our vision and that’s the first step of a successful passage. So this trip really started seven years ago, before I knew of Kadey Krogen, trawlers, or really anything.
But first, our passage is really not that special. People have done the same thing in in smaller boats, in far worse conditions, with many more handicaps. Almost everything I have learned and talk about, I first read someplace else, by someone with far more experience than I will ever have. Just remember that Columbus did the round trip more than 500 years ago, with three boats that were only 10’ to 17’ longer than Dauntless.
If you’re reading this, you probably read the details of the trip as it happened, or soon thereafter. So for this entry, I’m going to talk about what we learned in hindsight for the next ocean passage.
Stuff that broke: Three Stories and Lessons Learned
The Bent Stabilizer Pole Saga:
An operator-induced failure.
Only a day after I left Miami with the new paravanes, while I adjusted the fore stays, I had also adjusted the up-down stays, Amsteel Blue 3/8”, which take the vertical loads of the paravane fish. I had not fully locked them tight on the horn of the cleat upon completion. I probably thought I would re-adjust them once more and then simply forgot. So, while they were wrapped in a figure 8 three times on the cleat on the mast, I had not “locked” it on the horn. Amsteel Blue is slippery enough that if not locked securely with at least 3 or 4 half hitches, they will get loose.
And that’s what happened. The Figure 8 got loose, thus letting the pole swing from its position of 45° to almost straight down, 170°. The rub rail, stopping the pole from facing straight down. This put a kink in the pole where it bent around the rub rail. Not a bad bend, but just enough to significantly weaken the pole. In trying to get the pole back to its original position, I took out the retaining bolt that would keep the pole in its cup that is attached to the gunnel. But I still couldn’t get the pole out, so I eventually got it back to position, but now, the retaining bolt was not in place. I knew it wasn’t needed because all the force on the pole is into the cup, not outward, but months later, it did contribute, if not cause the pole to subsequently bend into an “L” shape.
So on the last day of the trip during one big roll within 60 miles of Ireland, the same windward pole went vertical. However, the kink in the pole, even though very slight, allowed the paravane bird to put a force on the pole that rotated the pole 90° with the absence of the retaining bolt, so that the kink now faced aft. As soon as that happened, the force the bird put on the pole bent the pole 90°, and of course, now this allowed the pole to come out of the cup, making its retrieval even harder.
An hour later, after sitting dead in the water for that time, I had managed to get the pole up on deck. In my adrenaline rush, I never noticed how well the boat handled being left on its own, wallowing in the seas with its beam to the seas, which were running 8 to 15 feet at that time. In hindsight, we were bobbing in the ocean, with less roll than when underway.
Replace bent stuff and all hardware before leaving on an ocean passage.
John Duffy, who had rigged the paravane system, told me to replace it, as the bend would significantly weaken it. I also probably did not mention that I had taken the retaining bolt out and had not replaced it, as the pole had rotated slightly, not allowing the bolt to be re-inserted.
The pole was replaced in Castletwonbere for 300 Euros. All the hardware is back in place.
The Mast Cleat Adventure:
A day out of Nova Scotia, as we sat in the Pilot House enjoying the world go by our living room window, we heard a noise that sounded like a gun shot. Knowing that no one on board was packin,’ I looked at the mast and saw immediately that the cleat holding the up-down line was now horizontal instead of vertical.
We chopped power to relieve the strain and I ran up to the fly bridge, though taking the time to put on my PFD (Personal Flotation Device, a life preserver). One of the two 3/8” bolts attaching the cleat to the mast had broken. Not wanting to spend a lot of time to try to re-attach the cleat, I tied the up-down line around the mast in a number of clove hitches and then tied it off to the other mast cleat. This way, much of the force on the line, instead of being transmitted to the cleat, would now be manifested in trying to squeeze the mast.
This new system worked so well that while in Horta, I redid both up-down lines, so that they came to a three clove hitches around the mast, before being tied off on the cleat, with a final half hitch on the horn of the cleat for each line.
John Duffy in Miami designed and installed a great paravane stabilization system, which is not only relatively light-weight, but also easily adjustable and cost-effective.
While in Ireland, I also added one more feature: I had had another winch installed in Florida to assist in retrieving the paravanes. In Ireland, I also replaced the lines on the winch with 3/16” Amsteel Blue lines that I had gotten, 300 feet at a really bargain price from Parks, of Hopkins- Carter in Miami. By using this new, stronger line, it added an extra margin of safety, because it is strong enough to hold the paravanes while underway should I have a failure of the up-down line as described above. It would also allow me to retrieve the paravanes, even if the boat is not at a full standstill. This would be fast and useful, in case of emergency.
This was the first and last time I put on the PFD on this passage.
The Auxiliary Water Pump Sediment Filter Highjinx
Another operator-induced problem.
After the failure, a few days from the Azores, the pressure switch failed. After screwing with the pump for a while, I just bypassed the pressure switch and the pump went back to work. A day later the entire pump gave up the ghost. I discovered by reading the instruction manual that I had installed the pump upside down, with the electrical parts under the pump itself. Evidently, you should not do that because if the pump has minor leaks, it gets into the electronics right away.
It behooves one to read installation instructions before the fact, not after.
Water in Fuel Tanks: Not Pretty; But the Lehman keeps on Going
I have finally deduced that the water, around 5 gallons, got into the starboard fuel tank during the last 36 hours of the trip thru the fuel vent line. How do I know this? After I replaced the O-rings of the fuel caps, while the old rings were worn, there is no way a significant amount of water could have entered that way. In addition, the water was only in the starboard, lee side tank.
Up until this time, Dauntless had been in seas almost as rough, though not for this extended length of time. But even if only for 8 hours, no water had ever entered the tank before in our previous 2000! hours of cruising.
What was different this time?
A much longer time of seas on the beam, three and a half full days, with 54 out of 72 hours, being in large 15+ foot waves.
The last 12 hours, with the failure of the windward paravane pole, the boat remained heeled over to port for a longer period of time, as the recovery was slower.
While all the above was going on, for reasons that were just chance, I had been running on the port (windward) tank, which was now near empty, thus for the last 2 days of the passage, we were feeding off the port (lee) side tank.
Thus, just when the port tank was being used, the boat was heeling more to port, thus keeping the fuel vent which is at deck level under water for a significant portion of time.
The lee side tank sucked in the water thru the fuel vent. Had I been using the other tank, in all likelihood, this would not have occurred.
I will move the fuel vent hose, so that this can never happen again.
In addition, I will make it a practice to use the windward tank under such conditions. I could have easily transferred fuel to the starboard tank while underway. It was just chance that I had filled the starboard tank in Horta and I therefore used that fuel first, since I knew my fuel in the port tank was good.
Other Lessons Learned
Food and Provisioning:
Maybe from reading too many books written by frugal sailors, my provisioning could have been better. I had too many things I don’t eat, like rice and beans, and not enough of what I do eat. I still have enough calories on Dauntless to feed a family in Africa for 2 years. No, I do not really know what I was thinking.
We should have had a bit more lettuce. Romaine lettuce in those packages of three lasts for a few weeks in fridge.
Eggs. Julie likes eggs. I forgot she really likes eggs.
Mayonnaise, to make egg salad with all those eggs. I like egg salad.
Route Planning and Execution:
Good job with planning. Very poor execution.
Not having the paravane stabilizers for the first 3,000 miles of cruising with Dauntless made me very sensitive to the direction of winds and waves. The Krogen handles following seas exceedingly well. Thus I carried that mentality with me on this passage. I made too much of an effort to keep the seas behind us and off the beam, thus our northeasterly course leaving Cape Cod and our southeasterly course leaving Nova Scotia.
In hindsight, it was an overreaction in both cases. That continued with my solo voyage from Horta, with the zigzag of day three, first NW, then SE then after 24 hours of stupidness, northward.
In the future, I will let the paravanes do their job and keep a course more directly (great circle route) to our destination. In fact, while I did not record the data, my feeling now is that the rolling of Dauntless is about the same with the paravanes, whether the sea is following or on the beam. Without the paravanes, there is a night and day difference.
Organization and Storage of Spare Parts:
I’m grateful that I didn’t need to use any spare parts. But the haste in which we left, meant we obtained a lot of stuff at the last minute. It was put away, with only a general idea of what was where. Had I needed anything, I would have found it eventually, maybe even by the time, the westerly winds pushed us all the way to Europe, a month or two later. At least I would not have starved.
This winter has been spent re-packing virtually all parts and tools. In addition I have a written inventory, with location, storage bin, model numbers etc. Before the next passage, it will even be computerized.
How did I decide what spare parts to take or not?
This turns out to be relatively easy. I picked those parts I could both afford and could replace myself. So, we had an extra starter, even though i had no intention to ever turn off the engine. We had an extra alternator. i did not have a spare injector pump, too expensive. Except for the fuel injector pump, I had all the other external engine stuff: injector tubes, hoses, belts, lift pump, etc. We had extra hoses, belts, etc for every critical component. Therefore, we had nothing extra for the generator, since I don’t use it underway. We had no internal engine parts, pistons, etc, becuase while I could probably replace it while docked, it was not something I could see myself replacing underway. But also, that is not a typical failure point of the engine. Internal stuff usually shows signs of wear for a long time before failure.
Odds and ends:
If I have not talked about it above, we ain’t changing it.
That means stuff like the DeLorme InReach will not be changed. We like the limitations that system imposes. I don’t need to call mom when the shit hits the fan.
Probably will add some redundancy to the ComNav Autopilot. Unlike a sail boat, we cannot tie the wheel and expect to go in any semblance of a straight line; I tried.
One of my issues has always been that in a seaway, there can be no noise of moving objects in the boat. Moving things can cause damage in and of themselves, and must be controlled. So, even at 40° of roll, every few minutes, during the worst of it, I heard no crashing or banging of stuff. Everything must be secure.
Need more recorded movies and Korean Dramas. They really help to pass the time. Yes, one can tire of just reading. When I was alone, I got really bored.
On the other hand, I did back in to computer card games. Bridge in particular, yes, I am of a generation that learned bridge.
I hope to never do another 10 day passage alone again. But I will if I have to.
Having said that, the next passage next year, will be part of a much longer voyage and we will be pretty much under way for 18 months. With Julie working, I will need a lot more help during the many segments the trip will entail. I will put it out there on Trawler Forum seeking those who want to be a part of the experience and maybe even share some expenses and I’m sure some shenanigans.
Nice to have
Four 110W Solar Panels and two Controllers
Lexan Storm Windows
C-Map North Atlantic and Western Europe Charts
Boat computer and router
Digital Yacht AIS Transceiver
Katadyn 160 Water maker
Vitrifrigo Freezer and Refrigerator
Delorme InReach text only sat phone
Splendid Vented Washer/Dryer Combo
Spare parts for the Ford Lehman SP135 Engine
Other Spare parts
Revere Off Shore Commander 4 person Life raft
Here are a few more pictures and videos. The file name incorporates the date time the file was recorded, thus 20140827_1927 means it was recorded 27 Aug 2014 at 19:27 (7:27 p.m.) hours.
That’s how long the Pilot House Reorganization has taken. It’s finally done, as these pictures will attest. I threw away four trash barrels of junk and packing material. I repacked all of my tools, spare parts and associated fasteners and bits and pieces.
I have listed everything and where it is and what it is packed in.
My goal was not only to know where to find stuff should I ever need it, but also to make the engine room in particular, less prone to floating debris, should a disaster ever take place.
The last step will be to organize the lists on the computer, so when the shit hits the fan, I’m not leafing thru my hand written sheets, trying to figure out what I wrote and of course, not seeing the one item I am looking for.
This also means that Dauntless is finally ready to move. Next week, she will move ¾ mile up river to the boat yards, where her nice round bottom will be cleaned and painted. A bottom I know well, as its very efficiency has allowed this entire adventure and the greater adventures to follow.
Lastly, to be more diligent than the last time, I have scheduled the next Pilot House Reorganization in my Samsung Note calendar for April 12, 2035.
Yes, you read it right. 20 years from now and if I am a lucky person, I’ll die just days before !
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.
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 http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public 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 http://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Public
And like many great journeys, this one began on a different journey. Five years ago, at 39,000 feet, coming back from Las Vegas, I saw our future. I had picked up some magazines that looked interesting at the airport kiosk; one of them was Passage Maker. By the time we landed at JKF, I saw a path for the life that had eluded me for so long.
Ever since I had lived in Europe in the 70’s and 80’s, I had wanted to live there, Italy, Holland, even Germany, but never saw a way to continue my career and make a living. Still I would visit, two, sometimes, three times a year, always a bit wistful when leaving.
A boat that could travel long distances and we could live on, looked like the perfect solution. Thus began the journey to make it happen.
It started with getting any book or magazine article I could find about trawlers and crossing oceans. Starting with Beebe’s book, I read all things motors, but sadly, there were not that many and after a while I had to resort to books and magazines about sailing across oceans. But being well read had the added benefit that the sailors provided a perspective that was missing in the self-admiring Nordhavn articles I had been reading. They helped me to see that you could travel around the world in less than a million dollar boat with its redundant systems (which always seemed to be breaking) and really opened up my thinking.
The real challenge was not the money, but having an efficient boat that was simple enough that I could fix pretty much anything that failed, yet rugged enough to cross oceans and equipped well enough that I did not have to use a primus stove, a lantern for an anchor light or anything to do with a bucket.
So the hunt began, pretty much on that great boat porn site, Yachtworld,
I also started looking at boats in the Netherlands with my Dutch friends. They had been sailing pretty much their entire lives and they really helped me to bring perspective to my ideas and search, and brought up many practical issues that I had not considered (such as, wherever you buy a boat, what’s the plan for getting it home?)
From April 1, 2014 to today, Dauntless has travelled over 5,500 nn, starting in Stuart, FL, We took it north in May, arriving in N.Y.C. May 23, 2014.
On July 1st, we set out for New England, and eventually got to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Downeast Maine. Spent a wonderful two months in Lobsterland. Guess what we ate?
September 1st, we started south again, eventually landing at a nice marina, just south of Providence, Rhode Island. There Dauntless sat, waiting in anticipation for the next phase. The trip south to Miami, Key Largo and then over to the Bahamas by mid-December. She now is in Nassau. We’ll be a few more weeks in the Bahamas, before we head back to Florida, where we will do a number of projects and upgrades.
Summary of our first 10 months:
Traveled over 5,500 nm = 6250 statute miles = 10,000 km
930 hours of running time
Furthest North point reached, St. John’s, New Brunswick, 45°17’N, 66°03’W
Furthest West, on the Cumberland River, 30°53.1’N, 81°30.9W
Furthest South, Norman’s Cay, Exumas, the Bahamas, 24°35.5’N, 76°47.6’W
Furthest East, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, 43°25.3’N, 65°40.6’W
Longest passage (without stopping) 230 nm(40 hours) from north of Block Island RI to Cape May NJ
Too many to list here, but I have met a lot of wonderful people and new friends in every place I stopped in New England.
Dauntless has been as efficient as hoped and anticipated, with an average of:
1.5 gal/hr. fuel used
4.2 nautical miles/gal
Or looked at it another way, an average overall cost of $1.00/nm for fuel. Which means it will cost us $3,200 in fuel to get to Europe :–)
My hopes for this Blog
Dauntlessatsea.wordpress.com or at some point it will be just DauntlessAtSea.com
I will have more pictures of Dauntless, inside and out and also hope to have a daily picture of our travels with a bit of explanation, as needed. If there is a more extensive description of the day’s shenanigans, than I will have it on a linked page or tab.