After topping up the portside fuel tank, we had a quick lunch, as I was hot to trot.
As we pulled away from the dock of this peaceful little town, I already knew I would miss it once in the Caribbean. As we came around the protective wall of the harbor, I gave one long blast on the horn, to warn any boats entering that we were leaving and as our way of saying goodbye to a place we really liked.
One long horn blast means “attention” as in pay attention, I’m doing something you may not be able to see. Last year in the Baltic, I noticed that the Germans always gave a long blast when entering a harbor. Just like in the Canaries, most of the harbors have a tall jetty to protect them from the waves, but it also hides boats coming in or out. Thus, the warning.
As we settled into our course 258°, the winds were from 120° at 15 knots, thus we had winds and waves from our port side quarter panel. Not the best, but it could be worse. After just a few minutes, I realized we needed to deploy at least one bird to cut the rolling which had increased to ±15°. That’s a lot.
With one bird in the water, I speed was only reduced by about 0.5 knots, but 2/3s of the roll was gone.
As I watched the sea, I also realized we had a large, 10 foot plus swell coming from the west with a period of about 10 seconds. Not too bad, but not helpful either.
Over the next 24 hours’ conditions remained exactly the same.
I remember writing the above.
The last words I wrote for 20 days. Umm, I wonder why? Barbados? Stay tuned.
31 hours into our passage to France, our second night out. it’s now 01:00 on the 15th of July 2016. I’ve just relieved the “boys”, who had their first watch without me for the last 4 hours. I had planned on sleeping another two hours, but I awoke and knowing the English Channel transit lanes were only an hour away, I figured I may as well get up.
Besides, nothing untoward had yet happened, and like the experienced manager taking the young prospect out of the game on a positive note, not letting mistakes happen as they fatigue.
Last night I had been alone, the boys sick as dogs. No, probably sicker.
I like the night, slicing through the water, the white mustache at the bow. There is a coziness the envelops the boat making us even more with nature.
We ran yesterday for 24 hours with the paravanes deployed. We needed them. The weather has been exactly as forecast, with strong NW winds 18 to 25 gusts to 32 for the first 12 hours after leaving Ireland. That caused for some rough seas, 6 to 12 feet.
The next 12 hours were a bit better, with winds decreasing to 15 to 18, gusting to 25 and they were more northwesterly. Then finally, yesterday evening they had died to 5 to 9 knots, so the seas quieted to just a few feet.
Now, as forecast the winds are westerly at about 8 knots. Not bad, not bad at all.
Paravanes worked well. I had changed the rigging a bit more since Scotland last month. They now run 17 feet below the water line and they are considerably more effective than last year.
The hardest part has been saying goodbye to so many dear friends and nice people in Waterford and New Ross. I think I’ll be back though, at least after we put a few miles on as we circle the globe. But I’m sure after a number of years and many miles, I’ll be ready for northern Europe yet again.
Just south of Waterford, we passed an old friend, Fastnet Sound. They dredge the channel just south of the Barrow Bridge, which has a tendency to silt up in the spot where the rivers Suir and Barrow meet. They then dock for the night across the river in Waterford.
If you have been following Dauntless at Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless then you already know the outcome, since this blog is on a tape delay. That way there is no chance of a wardrobe malfunction.
Though I want to share some reflections of the last few days:
While it took three iterations of the Plan, the last plan was the best one and one can’t ask much more than that. The first day, having departed from Elsinore, (yes, Hamlet’s castle),
early in the morning, there was a favorable current for about three hours. Winds stayed light, for Dauntless that is less than 15 knots, for most of the day.
Once I got past the first choke point off Anholt Island, it was mid-afternoon, so I decided it was a good time for dinner. I grilled a mackerel I had bought in Denmark. It was really tasty. I realize that most mackerel I’ve had is not as tasty because it’s overcooked and not as fresh.
As the afternoon rolled on, being so close to the shipping lanes, I saw more ships than I had seen in the two days in the English Channel. They were converging at the obvious choke point: into the Kattegat, over the top of Denmark and into the Skagerrak.
And they made it into a four lane highway! The slower ships would be going 10 to 12 knots and they were being passed by ships doing 15 knots. And the ships were not more than a mile or two apart.
Then to add some spice, high speed ferries would be going perpendicular to this highway speeding by at 25 to 30 knots between Sweden and Denmark.
And of course dauntless plodding along at 6 knots had to stay out of everyone’s way.
By the time I passed over the top of the Jutland peninsula into the Skagerrak, I was exhausted.
The winds did pick up during the evening and into the night. I turned west over the Jutland peninsula at around 03:30 and then went another hour to the west to make sure I was out of the shipping lanes and somewhat protected from the winds. Anchoring was easy and I was finally in bed at 04:30.
I was so exhausted I did not go to sleep immediately, but probably did within 20 minutes, and then I awoke at 08:15, started the engine at 08:25 and had hauled the anchor and was underway at 08:32.
I must admit when I first awoke, I didn’t want to get up, I had only about 3 ½ hours’ sleep, but getting underway immediately made me feel pretty good, I knew I still had a long day ahead of me to Norway and I felt fine.
Now once getting underway, I see numerous marks on the charts designating wreaks,++, a lot of wreaks. Remember the Battle of Jutland was just west of here. So leaving the Jutland Peninsula to the south, I’m seeing more and more boats showing up on the AIS and radar.
More than 50! They are fishing boats, evidently they must know exactly where all the wreaks are so as to maximize their fishing/trawling, but not lose any gear.
Anyway it was an interesting sight and clearly I had to detour around them. But within minutes I hear a “securite” announcement on the VHF and basically it said a high speed ferry was coming thru so all those fishing boats better clear a path.
And they did, as I did. The ferry was going 25 knots, he even called a Maersk ship to confirm he would pass behind him on the port side, which he did with at least a half mile to spare. Not more!
Then a bit later, the Matz Maersk passed in front of me, maybe a mile and produced the biggest wake I have seen in a while, at least 6 feet. It caused breakers; I was impressed.
After that that things started to quiet down because I was getting north of the shipping lanes.
By late afternoon, I could see Norway.
A great sight at the end of a great day.
I anchored that night in the islands of Norway. The first place I had picked based on the chart, when I pulled into the cove, it was clearly too tight, so I backed out and went about ½ mile to the west and found a much better place. I was only 50 feet from the island to the east, the direction the wind was blowing from, but I had about a quarter of a mile downwind to the west and that’s what I wanted.
I went to sleep and slept for 10 hours.
Next day, I had two hours into Kristiansand and in spite of the strong winds, this dock had both cleats and bollards, so it was easy to throw a line over and I was tied up in minutes in 30 knots of wind.
220 nm and 52 hours after leaving Denmark, I was in Norway.
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.
I do like the finer things in life. Too bad we see these things so late in life. When the Buddha referred to enlightenment, he probably meant just that, old enough to be over youthful self-centeredness to now have the vision to see those things around us as they truly are and to appreciate and be grateful for what we received from others. To recognize the things we may have distained in youth: duty, honor and respect are in actuality, the core of our being.
I suppose my thoughts have been directed this way because we are docked in the old basin in Honfleur, a day before the 6th of June, D-day. Even though it was 71 years ago, there are more American flags flying here then I have ever seen in all my travels in Europe over the past 40 years. I think because along the Normandy coast, these people, or their parents, great grandparents, actually witnessed Americans dying to liberate them.
It’s more personal, not an afterthought like in the rest of Europe where they take such things for granted.
OK so let’s talk about the last few days before my editor cuts me off.
But indulge me and let be start at the end.
All’s Well that Ends Well.
I‘m wearing my blue pinstripe suit for the first time since leaving New York. It feels good to be dressed. Oh, I’m wearing it with a sweater and tee shirt, so it is casual, but still, I feel good. Being alone, I have fewer occasions to dress well. I like dressing for Julie, as she does for me. And just like clothes, she would appreciate this restaurant as much as I do.
I have just had one of the best dinners I have had in a long time, certainly since Spain and Italy, at La Gambetta in Honfleur, France. As I sat there, watching the meticulous setting of the tables, the level of service, savored the marvelously prepared dishes, I thought of my father.
My father first came to France sometime in the mid-1960’s. I think. At least that’s when I was first aware of it. My parents were from the generation that kids didn’t have a need to know everything. But mom always talked about how much father loved France, clearly the food, and the wine, as he did bring home a case of wine from the Chateau du Bost, and women.??
Maybe it is as simple as the sense of well being and caring one gets form being in a restaurant that only has a single seating all evening. The focus is on the diners at hand, not what the future may hold. This is the norm in most of europe and everywhere in France, Spain and Italy. I understand more Dutch then French, yet the French always treat me well.
30 hours earlier, we had just finished docking. Adjusting the lines took another hour. Being on too short a finger pier is always challenging, as is the fact that our beam of 16’ is really wide for Europe. We may be the fattest boat in the harbor. But we had come through one lock, one bridge and a night on anchor unscathed, so I was ready to celebrate.
It wasn’t till we were firmly docked, as I took my celebratory shower, I luxuriated in the sense of another job well done. The first phase of the summer cruise was over. Dauntless and I were on the continent. We had dealt with the boat yard, we had dealt with the bottom paint, we had started the installation of the Wallas heater, and the bus heater. The lazerette was clean and organized. The Electroscan had been replaced by the Purasan and the Maretron system was not only giving me the correct data, it was even talking to Coastal Explorer. I had gotten the water maker up and running with the new auxiliary pump and new switch system. Life was good.
Larry and Karla were enounced in their cozy hotel room in Honfleur. They deserved it, as I had worked those two like a rented mule these last three weeks. Dauntless was never cleaner, nor brighter than the day we bought her. It was wonderful to have old friends, Larry I met on T-3 in 1973, and I was grateful to have another 4 hands to help with all the jobs to be done. All our visitors for the rest of the summer will benefit.
Yesterday, I had also finally gotten the tides and currents right. We hauled anchor at 05:00, currents were changing at 06:00 and we needed that full 6 hours of favorable current to get to Honfleur (just south of Le Harve) at a reasonable time.
We made such good time, 7 to 9 knots, that an hour out of the mouth of the Seine, I could reduce the rpms to 1200 and still made 6 knots to arrive at the lock for Honfleur with time to spare.
We had had 7 to 10 knots winds on our nose all day, but less than 10 knots, even with a current that is against the wind, meant the waves were only 1 to 2 feet. Best seas we have had for the previous three weeks. Our 10 hour trip took 8.
And quite different than the debacle of the day before, where we did 48 miles in the first 6 hours, then took 3 hours to go the final 6 miles, and then it got worse.
Day 08 St. Helier, Jersey to Port St. Peter, Guernsey
Originally, I had planned the route in a most course fashion, just looking at the distance between the islands of Jersey and Guernsey and seeing the number “10” in my mind. 10 nm no problem; two hours.
So we set out, bright and relatively early. Only minutes into the cruise, the first bugaboo rears its ugly head. Anyone see the issue yet? Maybe you just read the previous blog? Here let me remind you, my own words from the previous blog:
Just before landfall, the winds turned westerly and north westerly at 25 knots. That combined with the much longer fetch, we immediately saw waves a few feet higher. All of sudden we were getting 6 foot waves on the port stern quarter. That angle of incidence does make the roll more than usual, and we had one roll of 15°. But not much more than a curiosity, as the port was in sight.
Ah yes, now, as we left port, the winds and seas were unchanged. But we were now going the opposite direction. For the first hour, the current was with us, but the winds were against, so we those nasty, steep, short period waves. The surfing safari we had the day before, now became the ride on the wild mouse. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I actually left my feet. As I stood behind the wheel, trying to get the right combination of speed and course to reduce the pitching. A wave actually hit the anchor, we were going 1000 rpms, but I reduced it to idle after that. The Maretron data (ignore the speed thru water, as I have not been able to calibrate it) shows in that first hour the boat pitching. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but it clearly shows a series of three waves where the rhythm was such that the normal pitch up, had been 2° suddenly increases to 5° and then culminates in a 8° pitch up. Let me tell you, at 8 degrees, I’m thinking not of boat, but of an airplane, and that we should rotate now, and gear up.
I slow down even more, just above idle. After an hour, we go to the western most point of Jersey and could change course to NNW. Now the seas were 6 to 10 feet, but they were on the beam and the paravanes take care of business pretty well. As you watch the video, it may seem like a lot of rolling, 4 to 6 ° in each direction, an occasional 8° roll, BUT compared to pre-paravane days, that’s nothing, as in in the past, I simply would not have been able to take this course or I’d have had to alter course by 60°.
The extent of the pitch was new however. I had only had pitching like that once before, in Long Island Sound. In those days, seemingly eons ago (OK only 18 months), I had tried to temper the ride by reducing speed, but I never quite reduced it enough. On that occasion I had the rpm’s down to 1400, the waves were 8 to 12 feet and Dauntless would go down the face of one wave, and as we pitched upward the top of the next wave would get sheared off in the wind and go flying over the fly bridge, not even hitting the pilot house!
Earlier that morning, I had come through the Cape Cod Canal, having spent the night anchored off of Plymouth, Mass. I must have been about a half hour behind the only other boat I saw on the water that day, another Krogen. But as we turned west into Rhode Island Sound (an extension of Long Island Sound) I lost track of him. I finally pulled into the bay to go up the Narragansett River and “Coral Bay” was already anchored there. I recognized the boat, because we had also been in the same anchorage in Maine and Steve had come by to talk. We talked again after this ordeal, but neither one of us had the strength to get the dingy down to visit. Poor Dauntless, another day in where she was ridden hard and put away wet.
So all these memories are flooding back as we slog off the coast of Jersey. Therefore I knew now to reduce the rpms to idle if necessary. An hour and half after we had left the dock, we finally turn NNW for Guernsey, I realized that from here it was 10 miles, but not even to the Port of St. Peter our destination, but to some point south of the island.
Thus, my anticipated two hours trip became 5 hours.
The French sailboat Anfre, with Christian and Matin, stopped by Dauntless. They had left after us and had taken four hours. We had a great visit though and they have helped me plan the next two days to Honfleur to better plan on the currents. Also using Coastal Explorer, I have finally figured out how to better use the current tables.
Tomorrow, we have an 8 knot current to deal with off the Cape of La Hague, check out the current gauge, Argoss-WE 500-1355. Clearly, our departure time is predicated on that, but remember the sill. Our harbor must also be open to get out.
I’m playing with the big boys now; I better get to sleep early!
FYI The Delorme InReach turned itself off yesrterday. The AIS information is up to date if I am in a port. Also, having trouble uploading pictures for this post.
Trebeurden, a nice town, but we had to hike a mile uphill to see it. Very touristy. Not really my cup of tea, but especially for Larry and Karla, it’s nice to have a rest on terra firma.
After 10 months, I finally got the water maker up and running. I had needed to replace the aux pump and wanted to rewire it a bit, to use a relay closer to the power source. This also enables me to have a switch on the helm to turn it on and off.
I had done the electrical weeks ago, but the pump fitting were giving me fits. Between national pipe thread (NPT), garden hose thread, plastic fitting, brass fittings, American fitting and European fittings, I was at my wit’s end.
I didn’t like the first solutions I had come up with which had made it look like something Rube Goldberg would have designed. Finally in Trebeurden I found a coupler fitting and that led to an elegant solution.
The new auxiliary pump, centrifugal, is very quiet and made to run continuously. That’s thanks to Parks at Hopkins-Carter Marine in Miami.
Having to find a new dock in Miami last winter, while stressful at the time, ended up being the best thing ever. My helper, the other Richard, got to see some of the Miami boating environs and I ended up meeting some really helpful and nice people: Parks and my Nordy friends, Ed & Rosa. A wonderful result on all accounts.
So Saturday morning, we got up and were underway to Jersey. We didn’t make it.
For the first 4 hours, our average speed was 4 knots. At that rate, we would get to Jersey the day after tomorrow. Not really but it felt like that. So I decided to find an interim stop. I did, Lezardrieux, promptly nicknamed, Lizardville. As soon as we turned upriver to the town, about 5 miles, our speed shot up to 9 knots. We arrived just in time to miss the lunch hours, meaning a wait until 19:00, 7:00 p.m., to eat. I don’t like eating late anymore, convinced that part of my weight loss has been due to not having evening meals for the most part.
The forecast was for a storm to be moving through on Sunday, but you know me and forecasts. I wanted to get to Jersey because the window of opportunity was getting ever smaller. Therefore, we are underway now to Jersey, in moderate winds, 16 knots gusting to 25, but the seas are relatively flat, at 2-4 foot. Yes, I have come to accept that 2-4’ is relatively flat. Our roll has increased to 8°.
We now have a counter current, so although I am making the supreme sacrifice by running at 1800 rpms, where fuel burn is 2.0 gal/hr, our speed is still only 5.8 knots. If my Navionics currents are correct, we should have a helpful current going our direction in the next two hours.
Our intended destination, St. Helier on the Island of Jersey, is a port that has a sill to come over. The sill, like a cofferdam, keeps the water in the basin, otherwise the harbor would be dry at low tide but now, this means the harbor entrance is only open 3 hours on each side of high tide. So, it’s also closed for 6 hours. I’m running faster to try to get there before it closes.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. But you can probably figure it out as it happens just by watching our route at the Share.delorme.com/dauntless website.
Ummm, turns out I had rebooted the InReach and then did not realize it was not transmitting, so no joy that way. However, I did get an email from MarineTraffic telling me Dauntless had arrived in Jersey!
The wind stayed out of the southwest until the final hour into Port St. Helier. This meant the fetch was small and the waves stayed in the 2 and 3 foot range, with only an occasional 5 footer, in spite of the 15 gusts to 25 knot winds. Just before landfall, the winds turned westerly and north westerly at 25 knots. That combined with the much longer fetch, was immediately saw waves a few feet higher. All of sudden we were getting 6 foot waves on the port stern quarter. That angle of incidence does make the roll more than usual, and we had one roll of 15°. But not much more than a curiosity, as the port was in sight.
As we pulled into the harbor, I saw the three RED lights signifying the marina basin was closed. Not only was it closed, but the water inside the marina was three feet higher than the water Dauntless was in. We have tied up at the “waiting” dock.
So my tide calculation was only off by about 6 hours! Se La Vie.
All’s Well that Ends Well
If you cannot find me via the Delorme, you can also try Marine Traffic, but a caveat. If you google MarineTraffic Dauntless, please be aware that we are not: The Greek bulk carrier, nor the Tugs in the UK and Singapore and not even the British war ship.
So if you are like I and are easily confused, just google “Marine traffic 367571090”, which is my MMSI number.
We went into town and had a great, early dinner. I’m beat. So nighty, night.
We got up early to take advantage of the calm winds and little boat traffic. Dauntless rolled a bit last night on the mooring ball, so I put the paravanes out. They decreased the roll a bit, certainly dampened it, like shock absorbers on a car, but these particular fish (or birds) are made to be moving through the water for maximum effectiveness.
As we got south of the Scillies, I realized that while it was 90 nm to Plymouth, France was but 120 nm. With fair skies and still under the influence of the Azores high, it made sense to me to press on across the channel to the continent. I discussed our options with Karla and Larry and they concurred. A direct route to France also meant we could avoid the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off the English Channel and the area north of Brest.
So instead of turning due east for Plymouth, we set off ESE towards the north coast of France. The port of Trebeurden is our goal, with anticipated steaming time of 22 hours.
After a few hours of beautiful weather and looking at our expected arrival time, I decided to lower the engine rpms to 1500. Not only will that save us about a half-gallon of fuel per hour, but our ETA would have been 04:00 at the faster speed, and is now, about 05:30. A better arrival time, as it will be light.
It’s 18:00 now and as the day progressed diurnal heating produced some stratocumulus clouds and winds from the WNW at 15 gusting to 23. So the almost flat seas we had in the morning, gave way to wind driven waves of 3 to 5 feet hitting Dauntless on her stern starboard quarter. We have gradually increased our rolling from plus or minus 1 to 2 degrees to +/- 4 to 6°
Still, that’s half of what it was for the last few hours of our cruise into St. Mary’s Harbor in Scilly.
For dinner, I made a tasty dinner of hamburger and crudité. The hamburger ground by my butcher in Waterford. It’s hard to imagine that I spent 8 months on and off in Waterford and now won’t be back for four months. But I did meet an Irish sailboat in St. Mary’s. We had gotten into a discussion about the “legs” on their boat which was beached on hard sand, held vertical on its keel by said legs. That gave me some ideas of how I could make that work on Dauntless. Probably just 4”x4”s with a notch for the rub rail, then bolted through the hawse pipe. A project for next winter. They were taking her to the west coast of Ireland and will winter over in Dingle, so I promised to come visit next winter.
Unlike yesterday, time today has seemed to fly by. And yes, I kept the patch on.
For the past two hours I have been watching the parade of ships heading for the TSS north of Brest. I have also managed to figure out the Raymarine radar a little better and finally noticed after two years that the gain also had an adjustment for wave state. I could keep the gain much higher, if I also adjusted the wave state. A win win. And to think, some say I’m a slow learner! (win-win turned out to be tie-tie, as I adjusted it not to see waves, turns out it also didn’t see fishing boats).
A beautifully flat day, azure sky and sea, with just some mare tails cirrus. As the afternoon and evening progressed, the winds started picking up slowly, but surely. By evening, increased westerly winds had produced 3 to 5’ waves and the roll was 6° to each side. As one of the lessons learned from the Atlantic Crossing, I now run off the tank on the windward side of the boat. The lee side seems to remain heeled for slightly longer times, so I don’t want the engine sucking water through the vents. Yes, I had not gotten around to moving the vents yet. I did think about it a lot though!
Under these conditions, it’s not an issue, and possibly only an issue under heavy seas with only paravane in the water.
I had also adjusted the ComNav Autopilot to be less sensitive, so that it made fewer corrections constantly. I will have to call them someday and discuss if my interpretation by reading between the lines of their user manual is correct. Basically, under open ocean conditions, meaning no need to keep a rigid heading constantly, I set the sea state to very high (rough seas), so that it doesn’t try to adjust heading every second. Under these conditions, I will hear it operate every few (3 to 6) seconds.
On the other hand, under truly rough, 12+ seas, I set it to totally flat conditions, so that as soon as it senses the stern coming around it acts. Then the adjustments are almost constant, but it does a great job of steering the boat through the worst conditions. I have tried to hand steer under such conditions and frankly the ComNav does a better job. In the 20+ foot seas on the last day into Ireland, as I cowered on the bench in the pilot house, the ComNav reacted so well, I never saw any green water over the rails. Maybe I should ask them about a sponsorship!
During the early evening hours we had a little excitement as we were crossing the main eastbound traffic lanes. While not in a TSS, the ships having come around Brest in the TSS 30 miles to our west, will reenter the TSS about 30 miles to our east. Therefore they pretty much stay in the same track. Makes it easier for us, as one can figure out where the main traffic lane is and the direction ships will be heading.
We only encountered a few west bound ships, but an hour north of the east bound lanes, our AIS and Coastal Explorer showed the parade of ships heading east. They were cruising at 14 to 18 knots, while we were doing 6.5 knots. That gave me plenty of time to plan our crossing. There was only one ship that was a factor. It was a big Chinese ship that the AIS said it was doing dredging operations (something must have gotten lost in translation), but to me looked to be one of those floating dry docks. Massive bridge at the bow and a massive stern and almost nothing in between.
I adjusted our course to be perpendicular to his course and I could see that he adjusted his course a few degrees to starboard also. The picture is what CE depicted. The closest anyone got was about a mile, though later on we passed a fishing boat about a quarter mile away, but I had been watching him for more than an hour so…
By midnight winds were westerly at 15 gusting to 22, seas 4 to 6 feet and roll 7°. This kept up until we reached the harbor.
Dawn was breaking as we approached. We had to stop to get the paravanes in, while it only took a few minutes, it was disconcerting to be stopped just hundreds of feet from the large rocky outcrop. So I was much relieved to get underway again even though Dauntless hardly drifted at all.
Previously, I had carefully plotted a course into the basin based on our pilot charts, and my C-Map and Navionics charts.
But the reality ended up being a bit different. Our planned path was full of moored boats. So on to Plan B, I kept our speed just above idle, about 4 knots, to minimize the damage if we hit anything. I picked up the three green lights our pilot charts told us meant the gate was open. But our pilot chart had also told us the gate was always open during neap tides and as I remembered seeing the waxing (light on the right) quarter moon last night, I knew it was a neap tide.
Creeping slowly forward, the sign board seemed to indicate 2.5 meters, but always leery that I am missing the obvious, I was still worried about the mysterious sill. We passed over the sill into the marina basin and didn’t scrape anything, but it was an anxious moment.
A big assed catamaran was on the one available “T”. I went past him to see if we had any options, we didn’t. I turned around and headed for a slip just inside the gate. The slip is short, only 20 feet, so our rear half is hanging out.
The wind was behind us, so that was a bit of a mistake, it made the docking more stressful then it needed to be, but finally, 23 hours after engine start at St. Mary’s, we were finished with engine and had landed on the “continent” for the first time by boat.
Yesterday evening, the 5th of February 2015, as I gazed out the window watching the traffic flow along the quay of Waterford the realization struck me as to how much has changed in just one year.
Last year at this time, I had just returned from the Bahamas, had crossed the dreaded Gulf Stream, this time alone and was docked at my friend’s Paul house.
Now I had set up Paul and Chantal, my crewmate, as they seemed a very good match. The problem was I lost a reliable crewmate and as it turned out, Paul got weirder and weirder and I still not understand what happened.
But Dauntless was in Miami to have a lot of work done in preparation of the upcoming Atlantic Passage coming up in July. I had thought I had found a rigger and fabricator who would do the paravane stabilization system and I was waiting in very nervous anticipation for that work to start, as it was something that had to be done before our passage and they had given me a price I could afford, though I still had to manage my meager resources well.
So it’s early February, I had no help and all this work (buy, make, install) had to be done on the boat before we left and time was running out:
Fabricate and install the paravanes,
Replace current fridge and freezer with 12 volt system,
Replace the depth sounder,
12 v boat computer and 12v monitors,
New navigation system and chart plotter,
Replace one VHF antenna repair the other
Get a life raft,
Maretron system for environmental and navigation data,
European, Canadian and Atlantic charts,
Spare engine parts, alternator, injection pipes, water pump,
15 Lexan storm windows to make and install,
Replace 112 bungs in the teak deck,
Paint the cap rail, sand the rub rail,
Get a bicycle,
Get my Captain’s license (handy in Europe)
And I knew even once all of this was done, we still had to cross 3,000 miles of the North Atlantic.
Now, I had been reading, reading and reading, asking folks stuff on Trawler Forum, but the hard part was actually deciding on this versus that. Why that life raft and not this one. As the time crunch got crunchier, it became easier only because it was time to shit or get off the pot, as my mother would say.
But even now, I look at that list in amazement and also proud that I, we, got it done. It would not have happened without the help and support of some new friends.
In March, Richard (not me, another Richard), who I had met in the marina in Providence, came down from Rhode Island and spent a month with me doing a lot of different jobs. I so appreciated his company and work and Dauntless still shows his efforts. He also helped to get me focused and on track.
I had also moved the boat to a little pontoon just behind Park’s store, Hopkins-Carter Marine. This also turned out to be a Godsend in that, when the paravanes were finally being built, I had a store one minute away that had all the extra things I needed every hour.
Finally the paravanes were done and I hightailed it to Ft. Pierce, where David spent two weeks installing the fridge, freezer, solar panels and water maker.
The rest of the work was done in the coming months as I returned to Providence, where in the last days before departure, Richard again came to the rescue and got my Lexan cut to size and then, finally, only three hours before departure, Julie and I finished installed the Lexan storm windows.
And the rest is history.
So, as I sit here in a warm cozy Kadey Krogen a year later, I’m in Europe, our goal of the last 7 years, the worst problem I seem to have is that in sorting and cataloging spare parts and reorganizing everything, I’ve discovered that I have 4 soldering irons.
Even though we have a few more oceans to cross and many miles to go; it’s all downhill from here.