The End Plan

This ain’t Afghanistan, we need an end plan.

Don’t look at the crabs, or Ti, look at that ugly gunnel teak.

Everyone says that it’s best to return the boat to as close to original, especially when it comes to electrics, for a good survey. But I’m not sure I can do that.

We are cleaning her bottom as Dauntless is out on the “grid” in Wrangell

No, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do that. Why? Because this boat has gotten me where we are as she is. She’s been nothing but reliable. Many of my additions are just to make my life a little easier.

For example, when I upgraded the fridge/freezer in 2014 to the Vitrifrigos, they were very professionally wired and installed. They can use any voltage and frequency, from 240v/50hz, 120v/60hz to 12v d.c. While the 120v power goes through a breaker on the salon distribution panel, the 12v power came directly from the engine room distribution panel. I had no easy way to totally isolate the fridge or freezer. So, I added a 4-gang switch, with circuit breakers, so I had an easy way to turn off the power if need be.

Now, in the four years since I did this, I’ve probably only turned the 12v power off two times, the last one being a few months ago, when I was trying to determine my mysterious electrical draw (See Sense of Smell). So why undo something like that? Does that really increase value?

But there are a lot of cosmetic things that do need to be taken care of. Truth be told, as I’ve cruised up and down the east coast, across the Atlantic, through the Baltic and North Seas, back across the Atlantic and the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and the long, hard slog up the west coast of North America, I didn’t find much time to do those cosmetic jobs that make boats look so pretty.

The beautiful grey paint job that I think makes Dauntless lo so determined is now five years old. Time for a refresh. The cap rail in particular looked great for two years, then showed the first bubble (it’s hard to paint teak no matter how good the preparation) at year three and looks really bad now. I may try AWL wood.

Also, the inside walls have too much evidence of botched jobs, etc. So, Dauntless needs some of that tender care that I have been so negligent in giving her over the last 30, 000 miles.

But I love her. She has been such a reliable vessel, The $10+ value of spares in half a dozen containers of spare parts have almost never been opened. All that money! But I was preparing for cruising the world and I was as afraid of getting a required part through customs in a timely manner or actually needing those spare injector tubes in the middle of the Atlantic.

As I’ve said, I never needed any of it. Even the two long term cruising spare kits from American Diesel went unused.

But the teak on the gunnel looks like hell or in reality, just untouched for 8 years! What can I expect? Eek

Right now, the plan is sort of tentative. It depends on where in Washington state I find on the hard storage for the winter. I also want to be able to do some work on her to prepare her for sale.  If I can’t do that because of restrictions on working on the boat, then does it make sense to bring her down for the winter? Maybe wait until spring??

Let’s see what I learn a the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous. Umm, maybe this is starting to look like Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

Mutiny on the Dauntless

In 2018, I moved to Alaska, then a year later, I brought Ti and Thien to join me for our Dauntless in Alaska adventure. Those regular readers of this blog and my friends who follow just to keep up, know I like to keep it simple.

Dauntless in Horta, Azores with the moon rising over Mt. Pico

Make the Plan; Do the Plan.

Dauntless in Spain 2016

For the past 10 years, the plan has been simple, keep moving forward:

  • In 2011, it was to acquire an affordable ocean crossing boat, which meant a Kadey Krogen.
  • In 2013, we acquired Dauntless and outfitted her to cross oceans and gain experience to do so.
  • 2014 was the first Atlantic Passage, England to Ireland via the Azores,
  • 2015 was the Baltic & North Sea adventure, showing the flag from eastern Finland thru Scotland,
  • 2016 exploring the west coast of Europe, from Scotland to NW Africa, coming west again at year’s end
  • 2017 the Panama Canal, Central America, Mexico and finally,
  • 2018-2019 the long, hard, never to do again, slog up the west coast of North America to Alaska.

But it’s now 2021 and Dauntless has become restless. Two years in the same port is not something we are accustomed to, though Alaska is a great place to live and boat.

Looking back at the original plan of 2013 and 2014, would have put Dauntless in Korea by now. That was always the near time goal from the inception of the idea to its realization. Having done the hard work of coming north along the west coast, it would be relatively easy to head west into the Aleutians. Then, it’s a short step, 1200 miles, 9 days to Japan.  So close and yet so far.

But the air smells different.

Last summer, my brother, a long time Alaskan, who retired to Las Vegas a few years ago finally realized the fishing sucked in Vegas, at least for the aquatic kind. So, he came up with the idea of joining us on Dauntless for the summer 2021. Now, I love my brother, I grew up with him, so the idea of spending months with him, left a lot to be desired.

Thus, I figured it would be a perfect time for a vacation away from the boat. We planned for this summer and fall. He would be on Dauntless, while the three of us, would be visiting our friends in Texas on their beautiful ranch about 20 miles WSW of Austin. Texas Hill Country.

Texas Hill Country with pool !

We spent June showing him how to run Dauntless without hitting anything. It also gave me the opportunity to go through all the boat systems to make sure everything would run smoothly for him. Other than the watermaker and bow thruster, all systems were doing well. I made a few check lists for him, or I think I did, or at least I thought about making some checklists, but as I sit here, I am not so sure.

A nearby creek

We ended up flying down to Texas the very end of June. We are doing an opposite “Snowbird” (many “Alaskans” fly south when the first snow flies in October until May).

More hill country

Thien will be going to Oregon State University this fall. Ti and I will drive him out to the PAC NW in September. We’ll also visit friends along the way and in Seattle. Then at the end of the month, I’ll attend the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous, a first for me. I’m looking forward to meeting a whole new bunch of Krogenites.

But in the meantime, the air smells different, I smell dirt!

But now I have a mutiny on my hands. The plan was to stay here until Thien goes off to school this fall. My brother would be on the boat in any case, so no worries there. But now, Ti likes it here and says there is more opportunity for her here (That’s certainly true). Best of all, she loves the kitchen in the very big house.

For when it comes to Dauntless, Ti can only see a “Depreciating Asset”. Now, I love Ti and the Vietnamese in general for their hard work, pragmatism, and ingenuity, being able to make do with what they have. But Depreciating Asset is a bit harsh.

The Best Laid Plans

Perseverance, in the face of very adverse situations, being bored almost to tears or dealing with unimaginably

Where Dauntless is, lower right, where I had planned her to be now, upper left

stupid, selfish adults, has gotten me to many of my most important goals in my life: four university degrees, meteorologist, science teacher, high school principal, Dauntless and certainly crossing the Atlantic, now twice.

But it has also gotten me in trouble. Big trouble.

My life has always been about planning.  Acting spontaneously is not me.  Throughout my life, when I have acted spontaneously, the outcomes were not good.

So, it sounds simple.

Make the Plan; Do the Plan. 

And this works much of the time, but not always.  Why? Because while I’m not acting spontaneously, I end up following a not well thought out plan.  Whether career changes, job changes or route planning, I’ve sometimes followed flawed plans to the “T”.

Now, not all plans have the same consequences.  Leaving the U.S. Air Force to start my own business still baffles my mind. Yes, I was tired of the bureaucracy of the USAF, but the USAF is a model of efficiency, team work and everything else you can think of when compared to the New York City Department of Education.

So that decision, way back in 1987, ended up affecting my life for the next 20+ years.

Most recently, I had another occasion to change the plan.  Abort so to speak.

The outlines of the Pacific Ocean Plan were in place before we even crossed the Atlantic three years ago. While always subject to modification, the Plan has two primary functions:

  • It focuses my thoughts to anticipate issues and possibilities
  • It gives me the confidence to persevere, to succeed, even when I get tired, bored, etc.

It’s hard to imagine, that in the original Plan, I would be in Yeosu, South Korea in this month!

Oh well, even the best plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.

Last year at this time, I still expected to be in the Pacific Northwest by now. One month ago, I still expected to be in Guaymas, northern Mexico this week.

Instead, Dauntless is in the wonderful, little port of Huatulco, Mexico.  Just across the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

The crossing of the Tehuantepec was a good example of when to modify the plan.

So, as I left Chiapas at 08:00, alone, because my friend, Cliff who had joined me in Costa Rica to help me get Dauntless the 450 nm to Mexico, had had to return home.  But the longest leg was now behind me and tonight next 6 weeks alone was doable, even if not my preference.

The crossing was long, 40 hours, uneventful, but also an eye opener.

Before leaving Chiapas, I had been advised my everyone, from locals to friends who had done it themselves, to stay within a few miles of the coast, just in case the winds pick up.  It would only add about 20 nm to a 240-nm trip, not that bad.

The course directly across the Gulf is 284°, while along the coast it would be about 305°, so after passing the breakwater, I made my course 300°.

I then spent the next half hour dodging pangas and fishing nets.  260 nm at 6.5 knots is 40 hours.  I immediately understood that I could not spend 40 hours dodging boats and nets.

I had been watching the weather for days, waiting for the appropriate weather window.  Since the synoptic weather pattern that caused the Tehuantepec winds was also the same that caused the Papagayo winds which I had been watching for weeks.  So, I was pretty confident that at I’d have at least 24 hours of light winds, then at the worst case, if they started to build, I’d have winds on the beam for at most 12 hours.

The Mexican coast northwest of Huatuco

Being summer, those winds would not be as strong as in winter. Just like the North Atlantic, cold air can easily produce hurricane force winds in the winter. Therefore, worst case, Dauntless and I would have to put up with 20 knot winds on the beam for half a day.  Not fun; but not dangerous either, at least not in this Kadey Krogen.

With all that in mind, within 3 miles of leaving the protection of the Chiapas, I changed course to go directly across the Tehuantepec.  Needless to say, itw as an uneventful crossing.  (Had it been eventful, you would have heard about it by now).

The Plan was to provision the boat in Huatulco and wait for a weather window to continue north. The more I waited, the more I saw my current Plan slipping away.  Finally, I realized it was time to let it go completely.  In talking to the Marina Captain and a dock neighbor who was heading south, it became clear that the next few hundred miles all the away to Acapulco, offered only one safe harbor, therefore I could not afford to stop as long as the winds and weather were favorable.

Picturing the pangas and nets off of Chiapas, I realized that my long thought out Plan was not feasible at this point.  As I looked for alternative places to winter Dauntless, they were all much more expensive, like 10x more! than my present location of Huatulco.

So here we are. Robert Burns said it best:

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry”