Almost Done

I had hoped to leave Vallejo for my trip north as early as a week ago. It wasn’t to be and with the eastern Pacific high showing signs that it doesn’t know that summer is here, I doubt I will leave before mid-month!

Dauntless’ Fly Bridge

Talking with a boating friend Friday who is very attuned to the weather in Northern California, he told me that normally, this eastern Pacific high is strongest in April, when it produces the strongest Northerly winds. But it’s now June and the April high is still here.

As a weather forecaster, the shoulder of the seasons, spring becoming summer, etc. is the hardest thing to predict. Each season has its own peculiarities, as well as the type and strength of the weather produced.

One crosses the North Atlantic in July because that’s definitely summer. Low pressure areas in the North Atlantic in July are the fewest and weakest of the year. Winds are almost never above 50 knots. When I was planning my first Atlantic Crossing, that’s why our planned departure was in July. June and August are the shoulder months, August weather can quickly transition to fall. Two sailboats were abandoned off the coast of France in a May storm, a few years ago.  That I found myself in the North Atlantic in late August is a story I have related a number of times. Needless to say, the weather was worse than the month before and the successive three lows that rolled over me during my last 72 hours were definitely a sign of fall type weather; summer was over.

Dauntless’ Fly Bridge

Now, I’m waiting for spring to end. In the meantime, having gotten almost all my projects done, I am now cleaning up the small things.

My fly bridge has never looked so good. All my mild steel items, cotter pins, bolts, nuts, have been replaced with stainless steel. In the past, I used what was handy. During the last couple of months, I have spent days removing rusted fasteners or clevis pins that are ruined because they have a rusted cotter pin inside.

Lesson Learned.

I also added a line of lights for the galley and added a lighted led switch that purposely stays on all the time. I figured people new to the boat, Ti and Thien in particular, would appreciate some help in finding lights and things.

Blue Led switch is middle right just below the cabinets
Dauntless’ solar panels

Over the next days, I am reorganizing my tools once again, as well as much used electrical parts.

Here is the latest snapshot of the weather patterns and winds over the North Pacific. First picture is today, the second picture is June 11th. No point in looking at anything else.

In the meantime, here is an interesting link to the video Ti made, Ti Cooks Pig Ears. with English subtitles. Yes, another Vietnamese delicacy. Who knew they did more than Bahn Mi sandwiches and Pho !!

 

North Pacific Weather Patterns Valid 02 June
North Pacific Weather pattern valid 11 June

Seasickness

Getting or not getting “seasick” is a subject I have been meaning to write about for quite awhile now. I had partially addressed it in the excerpt below which I published two years ago. But I never made the follow-up post of my reflections on the subject and conclusions after the three month and 5,000-mile passage from North Africa to the Panama Canal. A video I made on our nice Christmas Day

Christmas Dinner with Micah on the Atlantic 2016

That’s 5,000 miles in strong, 18 to 36 knot winds produced by the northeasterly trade winds. While these winds are called the NE Trades, because that is their long-term direction, the actually winds on this passage were NE through SE, with three distinct swells from those directions with differing amplitudes and periods.  This produced 8 to 16-foot seas with relatively short periods of 6 to 8 seconds from the NE thru the SE. Not the most pleasant conditions, even for a boat like Dauntless that loves following seas. In fact, this was the most difficult conditions with following seas we’ve ever encountered.

Some of the worst conditions possible if one is prone to seasickness, with the boat corkscrewing its way across the Atlantic at 7 knots. I expected that as I got my sea legs, sea sickness would be just a bad memory.  But no, in fact, it was to the contrary. It got me to wondering what was really going on.

Stress builds and crossing an ocean is stressful in the best of conditions. For one, my insurance does not cover me past 200 miles off-shore. So, abandoning ship is not an option. For another, with a three-week passage, you are asking every component to work 24/7 for that time period and if something does go wrong, how to minimize the damage.  Therefore, it’s a constant weighing of risks, rewards.  E.g. Can I fix this problem with the engine running or do I increase the chances of something else going wrong by turning off the engine?

This is what I had written two years ago, just days after leaving Morocco for the Canaries at the very start of my second Atlantic Passage:

Morocco to the Canaries

Four days on the North Atlantic, 600 nm, four days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, what could go wrong?

For one, we found the weak link on this Krogen, it’s me.

In my first year of cruising, I would get sea sick maybe a quarter of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like three-quarters of the time.

What’s changed? Who knows?  I’m older, but usually one’s body becomes more adapted. No, I think the problem is in my brain. 

When conditions are rough, I know to take a remedy or put on the Scopolamine transdermal patch. I’ve been using the patch for more than 3 years, now all of a sudden, the patch gives me a bad rash, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night before departure.

With nice cruising conditions, or I should say, relatively nice, with winds and seas less than 15 knots and 3 feet (1m), respectively, I never had to worry, now, if the slightest unexpected event happens, I get seasick.

This last episode was one of the worst I’ve ever had.  But I’m not 100% sure it’s “seasickness”.  It’s more like my body gets a whole load of adrenaline and then when crisis is over, my body doesn’t know what to do. 

We were heading 240 degrees, with Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots, producing seas from the south of 4 to 8 feet. 

The paravanes work most effectively with seas on the beam, so our ride was actually not so bad with a gentle rolling of 8 degrees to the lee side and 4 degrees to the windward side.  

On the 3rd day out of Morocco, I was in the galley filling my water bottle, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravane bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken. 

I purposely take my time and want to remain calm. I finish filling my water bottle. I go to stop the boat, neutral, idle, then up to the fly bridge to retrieve the pole and the broken bird. 

Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much less.  So, there was no big crisis.

The two spare birds are stored in the lazerette.  The one that broke had been repaired in Ireland, as it had previously broken crossing the North Sea. So, I wasn’t too worried as to the cause.  We had two spares in the lazzerette. The one on the starboard side was easier to reach, but as we tried to get it out, the fin of the bird became lodged under the generator exhaust hose. And the more stuck it became; the more stressed I became.  I didn’t like the idea of leaving it as it, with its metal fin pressed against the exhaust hose and the wooden bird, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston. But after 10 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, unloaded the port side of the lazzerette and got the other bird that was stored on the other side of the lazerette.

It took just another minute to replace the broken one and we were underway again, finally 20 minutes later, having spent most of that time, trying to get the one bird out. 

Underway again, all was OK, but I was feeling very strange. Very strange.

I went to change my clothes, as I was very hot, sweaty and covered in anti-corrosion oil I had sprayed liberally in the lazzerette before leaving.

But after changing my clothes, I felt worse; like overheating badly, I figured a shower would help.

I shower, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t even dry myself off. It was a bizarre feeling. I wasn’t able to stand up or move. I dragged myself to bed and lay on top.

I figure I just need a little rest, but had wanted to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK before we get underway again. So, after a few minutes, getting more stressed because I knew Micah and Dauntless were waiting for me, as I go to put on my shirt, I became violently ill. First time that’s happened in years, even though, I get sea sick a lot and have that miserable nauseous feeling, I don’t throw up. This time I did.

I finally understood that I can do nothing but lay on top of my bed naked. I couldn’t even dry myself off. I use what little strength I have to tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and to get underway.

I stayed on top of the bed and went to sleep.

Three hours later, I am up and OK. Like it never happened.

After I posted the above, my friend Dan added this comment:

“I have read of at least one person who has spent decades at sea who get sea sick every time they set to sea for three days or so. They, like so many, take a while to get their sea legs, and then they are just fine. What was interesting about this person is that they ONLY get sea sick when they are captain. If they are crewing on a boat, they don’t get sea sick at all. Their guess was that the stress of being captain was what caused the sea sickness.”

+++

By the time we arrived in the Caribbean, I’d had two more stressful incidents and very similar physical reactions. Not only that, but suddenly, my skin was very allergic to the adhesive on this particular batch of Trans-dermal patches. So, I couldn’t wear it anymore and I’m left with these two quarter sized areas behind by ears of no pigmentation. No Michael Jackson jokes please.

I had also started to see a pattern. On Christmas Day, it was one of the calmest of the trip, with seas not more than 8 feet and winds in the mid to high teens. We saw whales that day and had a couple cruise with us for about 15 minutes. They were 30 to 40 feet in length and swam underwater next to the paravane bird. 

Christmas being more important to my nephew Micah than myself, I wanted to make a special dinner, so I BBQed the last of four delicious Canary Island Tee Bone Steaks. The best ever.

As soon as I had served our dinner, I had that feeling of “seasickness” come over me. A bit of nausea and overall weakness.

Sitting in Martinique in the wonderful marina Le Marin, I had time to reflect on what was really going on. In all my cases of “seasickness”, the motion of the boat was actually less than it had been over any given period of time. Also, it was clear that I wasn’t sick before a crisis, I wasn’t sick during the crisis, but as soon as the crisis was over, I was sick.

Didn’t really sound like motion sickness to me, but more a reaction to stress.

I’s already stopped using the Transdermal patch and now I decided to not take any more seasickness medicine at all, when we left Martinique for the Panama Canal

I also decided to take a shower every morning before my watch and every night before bed. The shower in the morning seemed to calm me down. I had no idea why, but starting my day at a lower anxiety level seemed to make a significant difference.

From Martinique to San Francisco, a distance of 3,600 miles and 90+ days of cruising, in some of the worst seas I have ever encountered, I’ve taken an anti-nausea medicine only twice.

I now understand that that terrible “seasick” felling was my body adjusting to the lack of adrenaline that the stress had produced and my para-sympathetic system was now getting my body back to normal.

Clearly the shower in the morning or before my watch, makes a significant difference.

And then in the November 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, they did a book review of the book, Never-Home-Alone

And the shower in the morning starts to make sense scientific sense.

Here is the article from the Journal (bolding and underline is mine):

BOOKSHELF

‘Never Home Alone’ Review: The Critters Chez Nous

In trying to rid our homes of insects, fungi and the like, we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.

Lisa Margonelli reviews “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dunn.

When Rob Dunn was a young ecologist he rummaged through rainforests in search of biodiversity. More recently he discovered another type of wilderness: In a study of 1,000 houses in the U.S., Mr. Dunn’s team found 80,000 kinds of bacteria and archaea hidden inside—that’s at least 10 times the number of bird and mammal species observed in all of the Americas.

He soon also unearthed in our homes some 40,000 kinds of fungi and hundreds of insects, many yet to be named by entomologists.

“I was ecstatic,” Mr. Dunn writes. “Back in the jungle again, albeit the jungle of everyday life.”

In his fascinating new book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Mr. Dunn brings a scientist’s sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home: In trying to make it “clean,” we’re forcing the species around us to evolve ever faster—often at our own expense.

Mr. Dunn is a fine writer, wringing poetry out of the microbial explorations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who spent half the 17th century documenting all the tiny living things around him—in his neighbor’s mouth, in the snow, in cheese rinds and in wasps. Leeuwenhoek “was to become an astronaut of the miniature,” Mr. Dunn tells us, “all alone exploring a realm that was more diverse and elaborate than anyone but him seemed to understand.”

Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson’s guide to cutting-edge research.

Mr. Dunn’s larger purpose is to explain how the ecology of the home has gone awry. Once upon a time, we lived in leaf huts, with interiors that looked a lot like our outdoor environment.

Soon we moved to round houses, then square houses and finally to air-tight apartments in cities.

Now we close our windows, use products that claim to kill 99% of germs and have unknowingly domesticated bedbugs—so they adjust their workdays around ours.

Our homes no longer resemble the garden outside but have a weird human-centered microbial signature that is also found on the International Space Station, and that’s not a good thing.

The problem, according to Mr. Dunn, “is not what is present but instead what is absent. The problem has to do with what happens when we create homes devoid of nearly all biodiversity except that which falls from us and then, for twenty-three hours of the day, we don’t go outside.”

To understand how mundane and occasionally deadly this evolutionary project of ours is, consider the shower head. In many American homes, water is treated with chlorine and chloramine, which kill pathogens but not mycobacteria, a genus that includes the cause of tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, in homes with water drawn from wells, nonharmful microbes flourish, including mycobacteria’s natural competitors.

By wiping out all the other bacteria in chlorinated water, we create environments where troublesome microbes thrive and even evolve.

This has led Mr. Dunn, together with his colleague Noah Fierer, to find that mycobacteria in shower heads can accurately predict instances of mycobacterial infections, as well as the regions where these outbreaks are likely to occur. 

And yet mycobacteria are not entirely bad. One species has been found to enhance serotonin production, which can lead to greater happiness and lower stress. Mice exposed to a species of mycobacteria are more likely to remain calm when facing a bigger, more aggressive mouse. 

Might this also explain how a morning shower helps us deal with a stressful commute and a bad day on the job? 

These twin stories—of scientific discovery right under our noses and the perilous impact of our unwitting genetic engineering—thread through Mr. Dunn’s book.

Cockroaches were once easily lured with glucose baits but have now rapidly evolved to dislike sweet things. Good strategy for the cockroaches, more troubling for us.

“Just as military specialists study the battles of the past to prepare for the future,” Mr. Dunn suggests that “we might consider our battle with the German cockroach in contemplating our own evolutionary future.”

“Never Home Alone” is a prescription for more biodiversity in the home and, more specifically, a plea for more attention to ecology. The more we understand how different creatures interact and influence our immune systems, the healthier we may be. But in the service of getting more people into ecology, Mr. Dunn believes the field needs to deliver tangible products.

He wants to systematically explore the species in our homes to determine which ones could contain useful chemistry. The camel cricket, a previously unnoticed and rarely studied thumb-size little bugger that lives—possibly by the billions—in American basements, has gut bacteria that can break down black liquor, a highly alkaline toxic waste produced by the paper industry.

The thief ant traipsing across your kitchen counter also produces an antibiotic that may eventually be useful against hard-to-fight infections. Personally, what I want to see is a home “makeunder “show dedicated to “rewilding” homes—similar to what you’d see on the Learning Channel, only more anarchic.

A bunch of giggling scientists show up at the door, toss the hand sanitizer, the shower head, the Sheetrock and the fungus-laden air conditioner.

In their place, they hand the homeowner a bar of soap, throw open the windows, install a ball of spiders to fight flies in the basement and start a batch of sourdough—all in the service of re-creating the garden indoors.

No doubt there will be tension in the idea of a wild domicile. Even King Tut, Mr. Dunn notes, was buried with a fly swatter.

Ms. Margonelli is the author, most recently, of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology.” ■

 

 

Curiosity

As I flit from place to place, I wonder what drives me. After all, crossing oceans, flying from continent to continent, costs time and money.

View of the Dolomites from Budoia, Pordenone, Italy, Christmas 2017
Budoia, Pordenone, Italy, Christmas 2017

Is it worth it?” I’ve asked myself that question many times, not only since Dauntless entered my life but well before it.

Bahia Guacamaya

In the summer of 1970, I worked driving a cab in New York. Coming home day after day covered in sweat, dust and grime, in the days before air conditioning. But at the end of that long, hot, humid and dirty summer, having survived not only the weather and the traffic, but the escalating crime in the City, I took my money and bought my first car.

Of course, it was a car my father recommended. He was a master a virtually anything he was interested in doing and cars were one of his interests, so there was no thought of getting anything but what he pointed out.

Northeast Italy, December 2017

Good move. My first car was ugly, like a box and battleship grey.  And only a week after getting it, I packed it up and stated the long, 3.000-mile, trip back to the University of Washington in Seattle, with nary a thought. My attitude has always been If other’s have done it, so can I.  Even then, the pattern of not stopping until late into the evening, running on fumes or taking “short cuts” was apparent.

Northeast Italy, December 2017

I never thought I was particularly brave, in fact, I knew I was pretty shy and afraid of the dark.

But that didn’t matter because there was always something new to see over the next hill or around the next curve.

The 21 days on the westward crossing last December were very similar, yet so different.

I looked forward to the day, the sunrise. What clouds would we have today? Rain or showers? The sky always had something new; something I hadn’t seen before. In my first Atlantic Passage in 2014, I had tried to avoid developing rain showers or thunderstorms. But in a boat going 6 knots, that is a futile gesture. Even more so, this last trip, I looked forward to the cleansing rain. I also didn’t want to upset the boat. She gets in a rhythm, let here stay in it without any major course changes.

The only thing I never liked was blue sky. My two years living in southern California were the worst, blue skies every day. I almost died of monotony.  Even now, on the boat, I see a building storm on the horizon and I can’t look away. I’m fixated, as if watching a beautiful woman get dressed, what will the final look be? But storms are even more interesting than people, because their lifetimes can be minutes or hours.

These days, visiting my friends in Italy and Holland, the first time seeing them since my Atlantic Passage last Christmas, I’ve been able to recount the story numerous times.

Many say how brave I am. But I know better; I’m not brave at all, I’m simply curious.

Sirens Call

Dauntless in Waterford, Ireland November 2014

While I’m cooling my heel in Vietnam; a great place to do so, while Dauntless waits for better weather to head north this coming summer and fall, I seem to hear the sirens calling.

The problem is, after having moved south and west for the last 12 months and 7,000 miles, passing west thru the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Central America, with Alaska, the Aleutians, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in our sights, the Sirens are calling be back with a distinct Irish brogue.

Your thinking WTF, what the F do you think I’m feeling???

I’m the one who put in the miles, the time, the big ass seas and certainly the money to get where we are.

Yet, I can’t watch a Harry Potter movie, an episode of Borderland, the Fall and certainly Jack Taylor, without missing Northern Europe, Scotland and Ireland.  For my tastes, certainly the best cruising since leaving New England.

Is it nostalgia?

Or just the realization that in my last 20,000 miles of cruising, the longest lasting relationships (excluding Krogenites, of course) have come from the Baltic and the Celtic areas of Galicia, Ireland and Scotland.

Waterford

Coincidence? or the Sirens?

I have a tendency to think it’s the latter.  What else could explain my obsession with Europe, while I still have Asia and a few more oceans to cross at best??

So where do we go from here? I’ll do what I do best, think and plan.

Stay tuned.

 

Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017

I had planned on giving a presentation at the Rendezvous, but it’s not to be.

So, here is the outline.  I will post this on my blog, DauntlessatSea.com

I have also posted, somewhat unedited, three galleries of pictures, you need to use these links:

  • The most recent videos from the Atlantic crossing,

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-Atlantic-2016-Videos/n-ddh7xF/

  • My northern Europe pictures and some videos from April thru November 2016, including the painting of Dauntless in the spring and a few of my side trips to Galicia and Veneto, Italy.

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-2016-Northern-Europe/n-6MSG6Q/

  • The pictures from most of 2017, including the Atlantic Passage, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and other things.

https://dauntless.smugmug.com/Dauntless-2017-Panama-Canal-/n-TWg5MZ/

Most galleries are in chronological order. The date time group is also embedded in the file name. Please forgive all the redundancy.  It’s always easier to take too many pictures than not enough, though it makes sorting after the fact a real PIA.

Also, should you see anything and have a specific question, please feel free to email me.

Kadey Krogen Rendezvous 2017

Richard on Dauntless

Dauntless has come so far

 

Dauntless’ Second Atlantic Passage

  • Four Legs from Europe to the Caribbean
    • Leg 1 Rota Spain to Rabat, Morocco, via Gibraltar to fuel up
      • 250 nm
      • 50 hours total
    • Leg 2 Rabat Morocco to Las Palmas, the Canaries (unexpected stop)
      • 600 nm
      • 4 days, 1 hr., 35 min
      • Avg speed 6.1 knots
    • Leg 3 Las Palmas to Heiro, the western most island in the Canaries, Fuel top-up
      • 172 nm
      • 31 hours and 45 min
      • 5.5 knots
    • The last & biggest leg, the only one that mattered, the Canaries to Martinique
      • 460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
      • 2582 nm
      • 7 knots
    • The “Oh, BTW, you still have 2000 miles to go” leg, Martinique to Panama Canal and Mexico
      • 460 hours, (19 days, 4 hours)
      • 2582 nm
      • 7 knots
      • Same strong easterly trade winds; same large, mixed seas
      • Avg roll +13°/-09° ext 22°/-10°

Overall Winds & Seas

  • Conditions are Very Different than the North Atlantic
  • Trade winds prevent turning back
    • Constant wind speeds of 20 to 35 knots
    • Direction varied over 90° from NE to SE
      • 3 wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
      • NE & SE wave sets, smaller, longer period
      • wave heights predominate 10 to 15 feet at 8 seconds
        • 3 different wave sets produced large 25° roll every 8 to 10 minutes for 3 weeks
        • First week very disconcerting to have stern fall to stbd so suddenly every periodically
      • Since leaving North Africa, until the Panama Canal, more than 5,000 nm and more than 60 days underway, all but two of those days required the paravane stabilizers.
      • Entering the Pacific and turning northwest from Panama City, in the first four days we had no need of stabilization. They call it the Pacific for a reason.

Crises In the mid-Atlantic

Fuel Loss

  • What Happened
  • Possible Solutions
  • What I did
  • What I now think I should have done (hint: Much Ado About Nothing)

Hydraulic Hose for Rudder failure

  • What Happened
    • I was screwing around
    • Possible Solutions
  • What I did
    • First fix did not work
    • Spares, spares and more spares (but not the right fitting)
  • What I now think I should have done

Overall Summary of My Second Atlantic Passage

Considerably harder than I had expected

I’m still organizing the data, but the big take-away, is that the fuel consumption for the last two years has been about 1.5 gal/ hr. or a little above 4nm/gal

Average cost has run between $75 to $133 per day when I’m on the boat.  Even during the most recent passage, cost was $104 per day, with fuel being $80 a day.

 

Krogen Cruisers Rendezvous

My Contact Information:

 

Richard Bost

Dauntless KK42-148

1.212.289.7274

Wxman22@gmail.com

DauntlessNY@gmail.com

 

Link for the blog:

DauntlessAtSea.com

Follow Dauntless at:

Share.delorme.com/Dauntless

 

 

 

 

Envy

So, I was reading the adventures of M/Y Dirona as she crosses the North Atlantic.

Check out Dirona’s Atlantic Passage

It made me envious; I know, that’s ridiculous, but still.

Dauntless has come so far

Dauntless spent two and a half years in Northern Europe because I knew we would like it. The weather, the people, the cultures all, the food, fit my number one criteria of staying off the beaten track and living well as I did so.

I Loved the Baltic, Sweden, Norway, Scotland & Ireland

That was expected. All the lands of coastal Northern Europe have a real seafaring culture. Every boat waves at you, especially fisherman. From Galicia in northwest Spain to the far eastern Baltic, it was a wonderful experience with minimal bureaucracy.

In those 2+ years, 20+ countries, 100+ stops, mostly in towns and cities, I probably spent less than 120 minutes on the formalities of checking in (Passports, boats documents, crew lists) and checking out.

No wait, there was no checking out.

The peoples, the lands, met and greatly exceeded my expectations.

Then, we headed south. 90% of all boats are south, mostly in the Mediterranean, you know, Italy, Greece, Turkey and southern France and Spain. Everyone wants to go there, so that’s a big Do Not Enter sign for me.

So, we headed south with low expectations. Little did I realize they were not low enough.

Prices trebled, temperatures doubled and bureaucracy was like a pig is slop. The first two stops in Portugal took the same amount of time as the last 100 stops of the previous two years.

And then it got worse.

In virtually every stop, 5 to 10 pieces of paper to sign to check-in; make sure you return tomorrow to fill out and sign the same papers to check-out. Don’t even mention the expense.

But you have read all of this before.  Turns out Martinique was the high point of the entire Caribbean. It’s almost weird to say that they were the least bureaucratic.  In fact, they were just like northern France.  But that was certainly the exception.

So now, having endured all of that and more to get Dauntless a quarter of the way back around the world, I sit here with envy of Dirona.

But I realize it’s not Dirona I’m envious of, it’s being in the middle of the ocean.

I’m a traveler, so when I’m not, I’ll always be envious of those who are.

 

 

Hindsight & Foresight

I love Atlantic Europe.  The people, the cultures, the food, everything.  The fact that these are all very old boating

My approximate route. Most of the little black dots are stops

communities, ties them together even more than language, though all of them do have Celtic ties and culture.

For a fascinating discussion of genetics and human migrations in Europe and western Asia for the last 50, 000 years, check out:

http://www.eupedia.com/europe/maps_Y-DNA_haplogroups.shtml

So, my thoughts return to two issues:

  • Should I have stayed in northern Europe for another year?
  • The route I ended up taking between Galicia in the Northwest corner of Spain and the Canaries.

First the additional year. I love Ireland, the people, even the weather (you never got bored). But Ireland itself is not really cruising country. Getting up and down the coasts can be a bitch, at best.  I did love A Coruna though. Why not there?  That was Plan B after all.

Then Schengen reared its ugly head.  For those of you who still don’t know what “Schengen” is, it was the city in Luxembourg in which almost all the countries of Europe (nothing to do with E.U.) decided to have open borders in 1989.  Open borders meant just that. Prior to 1991 or whenever it went into effect, one had to stop at each and every frontier and show passport. On my many drives from the Netherlands to Italy, that meant 3 border crossings. But they were pretty quick (nothing like the USA-Canada boondoggle). They never even stamped your passport.  While the rule was, you were allowed in 90 days in each country, no one cared and as I said, no one stamped passports other than at airports and not even then many times.

But with Schengen and the open borders, they decided they still had to control immigration.  Therefore non E.U. people could only stay 90 days out of every 180 days.  So, before you could move from country to country every 90 days a stay within the rules, now, you had to leave the continent or go to the U.K. or Ireland.  That’s why Dauntless was in Waterford.

Ultimately, I realized that to keep Dauntless in A Coruna for the winter would not be feasible, since I could no longer go to NYC for 3 months and then return.

By the way. So, Schengen was written to keep people from overstaying, yet today the E.U. gets about 200,000 people a month from Africa and the Middle East.

But they got Dauntless out so all is OOOKKK.

And another aside.  While those morons in Washington debate who to let in.  NO ONE, Dems or Republicans, talks about we have no system to track who leaves.  Wouldn’t you think if we really cared, the first thing would be using one of the billion computers the government has to track people as they leave and compare that list to who came in.   What a clown show!

Now, sorry for the diatribe.  My route which took me down the coast of Portugal and around the corner to Gibraltar.  I didn’t even see the Gibraltar Apes.

I suppose the real issue here is that we were really beaten up almost the entire trip from Porto, Portugal all the way to the Canaries.  By stopping in Gibraltar, I added about another 360 miles to our trip.

I actually had a sailor in France tell me that I should go direct to the Canaries from Vigo in NW Spain. But I wanted to see Portugal and I am glad I did.

The route I should have taken

But southern Spain and Morocco, ended up being exactly what I expected, hot, dry and dry and hot.

I could have spent those weeks in the Canaries.  The Canaries reminded me of everything I liked about Galicia. Great people, food and a boating culture.

Oh well, I’ll have to go back.

 

 

2016 Retrospective

Looking for something else, I came across my 2015 Post Mortem of my First Atlantic Passage.  It’s fascinating.  Makes me feel I should write another one for this passage.  I will, but also think I would like to do a compare & contrast, a great teacher’s tool.

But this is not that.  This is more about the how and why I went the way we went.  In thinking about this post, I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the past couple weeks.  But even now, I go back and forth, would I or would I? That is the question.

Rainbow of Ho Chi Minh City

Not my usual rainbow and sunset picture, but appropriate none the less.  Being in Saigon gives me the opportunity to think, reflect and plan for the future.

Being away from Dauntless, longer than originally planned, but in fact, it’s worked out for the best.  When I am on Dauntless, short term takes precedence.

As I have reflected on the events of 2016.  I found myself racing through some places I really loved, like Galicia; while staying months in places I really didn’t, like Southern Spain, Morocco.

It was a tumultuous year, in every aspect.  The year started with Dauntless was in the capable hands of the Kehoe Boys in New Ross, Ireland, another place I miss very much.  I, in the meantime, was in NY and then Julie and I took a trip to Galicia in mid-February to see if we could keep Dauntless in A Coruna or Vigo, for the winter 2016-17.  We both loved Galicia as much as we thought we would.  Thus, Plan A to return to North America became Plan B.

Plan B: Ireland, Scotland for the summer, then France in August and Galicia by mid-September for the winter. Now, the Schengen three-month rule really puts a crimp on spending time (and money) in Europe for non-E.U. cruisers, but I’d spend the off times in NY and USA.

Then Life Happened and the Plan Changed, again.

Even before leaving NYC at the end of March I found myself going back to Plan A, getting Dauntless back to the New World.

So far, so good.  Plan A would get me to Asia sooner rather than later.  But I did not think about how much I liked the cruising in Ireland, Scotland, Atlantic France (Brittany) and Spain (Galicia).

The route from Ireland to Panama is dictated by climate and currents.  Not a lot of options, but I’m not sure I really thought about the choices I did have well enough.

And that will be the topic of my next post.

 

 

As One Chapter Ends Another Begins

Asia, via the North Pacific is still a goal.

Last Days in the Atlantic for a Bit

But now that transiting the Panama Canal, a set structure in time and space, has been done, I have time to take a breath.

I want to enjoy the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.  These areas provide the spectacular scenery of Norway with wildlife that has been long gone from Europe.

The western coasts of Central and North America pose a formidable challenge for little boats: long stretches of coastlines with inaccessible harbors when you most need them and predominantly head winds and seas.

If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, this Krogen does not like head seas.  They make for a miserable ride that takes twice the time and fuel.

Dauntless Rests In Fish Hook Marina, Golfito

So, the first step is understanding that with any northerly component to the winds, one must stay put.

We are also constrained by a relatively short cruising period, 5 months, maybe 6 at best.  That’s 150 to 180 days.  Climo says that the winds are northerly 66 to 75% of the time. That means of those 150 days, maybe only 45 are useable.

In those 45 days, I can reasonably assume that gets me about 2100 nm or someplace in Northern Mexico from Golfito.

The following summer, 2018, I’d have 2400 nm or about 49 days to get to the Pacific Northwest.

Lastly, in the third year, 2019, that time will be spent in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.

So, I now have a more realistic time table.

Three seasons of cruising, also means three seasons of idleness.  And we all know that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. So, while Dauntless is safely tucked in, I must keep busy at an affordable pace.

The west coast is considerably more expensive than Northern Europe, thus I find myself having to be open to new money saving strategies for the winter in particular.

Since re-crossing the Atlantic, I have been slow in updating my digital log.  Maybe because the data simply does not change very much:

  • In 2016-17, Dauntless fuel consumption remains constant at 1.45 gallons per hour or just above 4 nm/gallons. This number is only 1/10th of a gallon different from 2015.
  • My costs, total expenses for Dauntless and for myself have averaged just less than $100 per day for everything. This is also slightly less than 2015.  While marinas in southern Europe were much more expensive than northern Europe, the large number of passage and anchoring days equalized that cost.  Also, a passage day, 24 hours x 1.5 gallons = 35 gallons per day at $2.5 = $90/day.  So, using fuel for 24 hours pretty much equals the cost of a marina and eating and drinking.

The long-range plan, a circumnavigation in a 30-year Kadey Krogen, is still the plan.  I’m already thinking of where I am crossing my track and what comes after that.  Northern Europe, Sweden and the Baltic still have an attraction that is hard to beat, but who knows.

I’m always thinking of the future; reflecting on the past.  While that doesn’t leave much time to appreciate the here and now, it’s who I am.  I get far more enjoyment having the Plan come together, then just winging it.  I can read a hundred self-help books about living in the moment.  What they all have in common, is that they are written by people who are adept at living in the moment and figured out how to monetize that.

 

So, this finds me taking a break from D right now.  We’ve been together almost 24/7 since November.  My nephew Micah went home to enter Law School, so I decided to take a little break and do a little reconnoiter for this coming winter.

Dauntless Arrives in Costa Rica

In a trip that started the last days of May 2016.

Look How Calm it is

300 days and 7,000 miles later, we backed into the slip at Fish Hook Marina in Golfito, Costa Rica.

Last year, my goal was Mexico, I’m a few weeks and miles short of that goal, but all in all, I’m happy.

Well, maybe ecstatic.

My euphoria has been enhanced by the Pacific. Why have you folks kept it such a secret?

Since arriving in the Pacific, our 5 days of cruising has required the use of the paravane stabilizers NOT ONCE.

Now, to put that in context, since leaving Ireland on July 1st, 9 months ago, we’ve probably spent about 180 of those days underway, we needed the paravane stabilizers on all but 5 days. So, in our first 5 days of cruising in the Pacific, we have already matched our 2016 total for flat or small seas.

I’m looking forward to the coming year.

Now, I’m flying to NYC.

When I get back at the end of April, I’ll be ready to begin phase II.

At this point, it’s getting up the west coast.

How long that takes is anybody’s guess, but I don’t have the same time pressure that has driven me the last two years.

I may even have time to wake up and smell the coffee. 

Dauntless Docked in Golfito

And it turns out, I may have a lot of ti

The Trip So Far

I Hope He Stopped the Boat

A Day in the Life of an Atlantic Crossing

There is much to write about in my latest Atlantic Passage. We had full leaks, big seas, high winds and of course, the ever ubiquitous operator snafus. This post will go through a typical day, then address the issues that sprang up and how we dealt with them, in subsequent posts.

A Typical Day

Sunset over the Atlantic
Sunset over the Atlantic

03:35 hours, my alarm goes off, telling me it’s time to relieve Micah and it’s the start of another day.  I lie in bed a few minutes, feeling the motion of the boat.  What can I discern from that motion? How many times was I almost thrown out of bed last night?  I brush my teeth in my forward head (sink, shower, toilet), using my knees and elbows to brace myself against the constant pitching and rolling.  A dozen times an hour, we get the inevitable larger roll to starboard, as the stern literally falls into the deep trough that forms when the southeast and northwest waves trains meet under Dauntless.  This also causes a large pitch up.  As I put on a new tee shirt and my boat pants, either warm up pants or shorts, depending on the temperature, I slather my forearms and elbows with Neosporin.  They take a beating every day with these conditions. The decks that I have traversed a thousand times are suddenly more narrow.

The Logbook showing Days 2 & 3
The Logbook showing Days 2 & 3

Lastly, before leaving my cabin, I make guess as to the conditions: wind, weather, seas.  If it’s important enough to know, it’s important enough to think about it. It’s why the Socratic method of teaching works. In the darkness of the forward cabin, too many times I have convinced myself the boat is clearly spinning around like a top, or while anchored, or even docked, that the boat is moving forward at some incredible speed.

My making myself consciously think about the conditions outside while in a dark, closed cabin, the next time I have such thoughts, I will have better understanding that it’s not the boat, it’s my brain, and go back to sleep.

Looking East, Just Before Sunrise
Looking East, Just Before Sunrise

03:45 hours, I leave my cabin, walking around the salon and galley, I’m also doing a sniff test, checking for unusual smells, our sense of smell being keener than sight or sound. Then open the hatch, down into the engine room: still sniffing, listening and looking.  I check the usual suspects, the Racor filter and its vacuum (which is an indication of how clean or dirty the filter has become), then eyeball, maybe even feel the bottom of the engine mounted fuel filters to make sure of no leaks.  Look at the injector pump and just around the engine for anything out of the ordinary.  Even check that the amount of fan belt dust has not changed.

Sunset
Sunset from the Krogen Pilot House

I put my hand on the coolant tank of the Ford Lehman diesel.  It’s usually about 164°F and I can hold my hand on it about 1 second, longer means the temperature is lower, maybe 155.  Shorter, and there is a problem, and I need to investigate further.  I check the water maker valve settings.  Making sure it is initially going to “test”.

Every other day, I would add about a liter of oil to the running engine. She consumes about 1 liter every 50 to 60 hours. So, I’d need to replace that. Then, with a last look around, I ascend into the salon and head to the pilot house to relieve Micah.

Dusk
Dusk on the Coastal Explorer Navigation Program
The Moon watches over us
The Moon watches over us

03:55. As I enter the darkened pilot house, I go to the log book to start the 04:00 entry, asking Micah what I need to know.  On this passage, that’s usually nothing, No ships, no boats, no nothing.  He goes off to a well-deserved sleep and I remind him to sleep as long as he wants, and that’s usually until late morning or noon.

04:00 log entry consists:

  1. engine rpms (usually 1500 rpms),
  2. speed (usually 5.9 knots this trip),
  3. course (245°),
  4. engine coolant temp (178°). (*These three instruments in the pilot house vary somewhat based on electrical issues, but it’s still important to monitor on a relative basis).
  5. Oil pressure (*30psi, it’s actually 50 psi since I also have a mechanical gauge on the engine),
  6. voltage (11.5 to 12.2v*). Any significant change to these three numbers does indicate a problem, since they almost never vary.
  7. Every few hours, days, weeks, I use my Infrared temp gun to measure temperatures at the: engine coolant tank, 164°, oil filter, 156°, transmission 127° and stuffing box, 88°, for this trip. Other than the stuffing box, these numbers never vary.  The stuffing box should be less than 20° warmer than the sea temperature, in this case, sea temp started at 76° and ended up at 83 in the Caribbean.

    Storms to the East and South
    Storms to the East and South

Before getting settled in on the pilot house bench, I will usually go outside.  Depending on how rough it is, I may just go to the stern deck.  During this trip, the stern deck was awash constantly with water coming in and leaving by the scuppers.  So I would stand on lower stair toward the bow.

Why go outside?  Why go when Micah is already in the cabin, knowing to fall in the water is fatal?  Because I like a few minutes of solitude, just me and Mother Nature.  I like feeling the wind in my face.  How is the boat really handling the seas.  She talks to me, Everything is OK, just go back in the pilot house and let me handle this. Reassured, I do just that.

For the next few hours, I will read, or more usually play Bridge on the computer.  Sometimes I watch Korean Dramas.

Some nights were quite dark, no moon or cloud covered.  On those nights, one sees nothing.  The first hint that a wave is there is the boat heeling.  On full moon nights, visibility is probably greater than a quarter mile.  But it’s still not good enough to see the proverbial shipping container, so I don’t bother looking.

In actuality, on the high seas, I think the greatest hazard may be sleeping whales, but since one hardly sees ones that are awake… (update – there is a 40-ft. sailboat docked opposite us, it encounters a whale, that ended up tearing the starboard rudder off. The hole was big enough that without the ability to heel the boat to port, they may have lost the boat.)

07:00 time for coffee and whatever frozen pastry I managed to save.  Usually, I put the pastry in the engine room when I got up and did my engine room sniff test. The sun is coming up, giving me a look of the clouds and skies for the first time.  I’ll look at what “stars” are still out.  Estimate wave height and direction.

I have spoken to about a half dozen boats that crossed about the same time frame.  We all noted that there were three distinct wave sets or swells.  In the first week, there was a westerly swell of 10 feet, with wind driven waves from the east and southeast.  After the first week, the pattern became all easterly, in that there were three wave sets, one from the NE, one E and one SE.  Even my favorite weather app, Windty, at most mentions only the swell and one set of wind waves.

One of the sailors I ran into in Martinique, called these confused seas, “the bathtub”.  The bathtub made for a long 21 days.

Now this wave pattern had a very interesting effect.  About every 6 to 10 minutes, the SE and NE waves would meet under the stern of Dauntless, causing a very big corkscrew roll as the stern fell into the deep trough and rolled to starboard, as the bow pitched up and turned to port.

The Maretron data should these extra big rolls were about 20° to 25° to starboard, 10° to port, with a pitch up of 1.2°, followed by down pitch of 2°.

As I said, being alone, watching the sun rise, is very spiritual. One of those instances that I actually prefer to be alone.

For the rest of the day, log entries were made whenever we had a change to course or anything else.

10:00 to 18:00

More of the same.  Micah would get up by late morning.  We would decide what to eat at our main meal in mid-afternoon.  For the most part we ate normally, which is to say, the freezer is stocked with various meats, pork predominantly, though we had two enormous rib eye steaks that we had found irresistible while in the Las Palmas market. I made the first one (enough for about 4 people) the first week out, but saved the second for Christmas.

The boat motions coupled with a very wet stern deck made for interesting grilling on the Weber Q280, but certainly still better than grilling in minus 20°F or at 40° in a 30-mph wind on our rooftop in the Upper Eastside of New York.

We would also use this time to watch some Korean Drama.  K-Dramas are the perfect way to pass a few hours each day.  Too tired to do something creative like write; sometimes too mentally tried to even read, so K-Dramas came to the rescue.  Captivating enough to keep one occupied during the most monotonous rolling conditions.  Thank God for Korean Dramas.

When the rolling was not so bad, we used that opportunity to play a board game. I made little non-slip pads for the pieces, but even with that, conditions only allowed our games on about a third of the days.

Much of the rest of our daylight hours was spent just checking things that were easy to check during the day.  Walking around the boat, feeling the tension of the stays and lines for the paravanes, as they were under the most strain.

By the way, having waited four extra days for the winds to be favorable when we left the Canaries, as we pulled out of the harbor with 12 knot winds and seas 2-3 feet, I said to Micah, maybe we won’t need the paravane stabilizers the entire trip.  An hour later, I put out the windward {port) bird. A few hours later, both birds were deployed and were needed for the next 20 days until we pulled into the harbor of Martinique.

Bob Dylan was right, never trust the weatherman.

We left the Canaries with full fuel tanks, but only one water tank (150 gallons, 600 liters) full.  This was purposeful, as I wanted to use the water maker to fill the empty water tank.  Our Katadyn 160 water maker makes 8 to 9 gallons of water an hour, so it takes about 19 hours to fill one tank.

Micah and I use about 40 gallons per day. The Katadyn 160 is rated to make 160 gallons per day or 6.67 gallons per hour, but I have axillary water pump, pumping water through two sediment filters, before it gets to the water maker.  Therefore, I have found that on this trip, it produced between 9 and 10 gallons per hour, so we ended up running it about 50% of the time.  Thus, it was convenient to turn it on when I did my engine room survey at 04:00, then turn it off in the early evening. I had pickled (put a preservative in it) in June 2015, 18 months earlier.  This was necessitated by the amount of organic material in the rivers and estuaries o the North Sea and Baltic, made water making difficult, if not impossible.  Thus, it was with some relief upon leaving Gibraltar that once I got it running again, it ran for the next month with nary a hiccup.

14:00 Local Canaries Time, which just happens to be UTC (Universal Coordinated Time, the time of solar noon at 0° Longitude)

14:00 was the time we left the Canaries, so I used it as our “official” 24-hour point.  At 14:00 each day, in addition to the above log entries, I’d note:

  1. quantity of water,
  2. Quantity of fuel,
  3. Fuel feeding from and returning to which fuel tank,
  4. fuel filters in use,
  5. distance travelled in the last 24 hours,
  6. 24-hour average speed,
  7. current position,
  8. current weather, sea state,
  9. average pitch and roll for the period
  10. the new heading and distance to destination.

 

18:00 to 21:00

Evening would have Micah taking a nap below.  I usually took a little nap in the pilot house in the early afternoon after Micah was up and running.  So, I would use this time to walk around again before it got really dark. Feel the lines, sniff the engine room and just get ready, mentally and physically for the overnight.

While his watch started at 22:00, he would usually come up the pilot house between 20:00 and 21:00. If early enough and I was not too tired, we would watch an hour K-drama.  I developed the watch schedule because Micah was flexible with his sleeping, though he did sleep a lot.  I slept less, but I knew I need 6 hours of good sleep.  That ended being more like 5 hours, but it worked.  Though I did find myself dozing off a few times after the sun rose.

 

More to come: The Good, the Bad & of course, the Ugly

We do a little 400 mile trip today to Bonaire, as we say goodbye to the Grenadines and head west.

See you in three days. You can follow at: Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless

 

What I’ve Been Up To

I know it’s been quiet here the last three weeks, but I have been busy.

Sunset at Le Marin
Sunset at Le Marin

I am in the process of writing a comprehensive account of our month on the Atlantic from Morocco to the Caribbean.  Having very limited access to the internet, reduces my ability to upload posts and pictures.

But I have been busy. Today, Micah and I finally got everything put away as I have been re-organizing my tools, electrical stuff and miscellaneous stuff that is stored I the pilot house.  It’s a lot of stuff.

It’s taken me literally two weeks to get it done.  Why was it so hard?

I was spurred to action because after arriving we had some projects to do and a few things to fix or improve and during that first week, I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find various tools.

Having spent too many minutes trying to find a simple 13mm wrench, during the re-organization, I found the other 10 wrenches and 4 sockets. Yes, all 13mm.  Why so many? Because I had it in my mind that I needed one, so every time I got close to a hardware store…

Sooner or later I shall have to find someone who is good at organizing.  If not I may up be being the Cat Lady of the High Seas!

The picture is from last night and is yet another beautiful sunset at Le Marin on the wonderful island of Martinique.

Tomorrow we will be leaving, but just an hour south to St. Anne.  We will spend a couple nights there before heading to the Grenadines later on in the week.

Every few days I post pictures in Instagram at DauntlessatSea