Chased by the Coast Guard

We knew it would end badly; we only hoped they would have mercy on us.

Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard Helicopter
Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard Helicopter

We did our best to stay out of trouble, but when your time is up, it’s up.

Now, as we rewind the events of the last few days, it’s clear we never had a chance.

It all started innocently enough.  The uneventful three-day passage from St. Vincent to Bonaire was just that uneventful. But now, it’s obvious, those strange lights we encountered was just the tip of the iceberg.

We spent an uneventful few days on Bonaire. It truly is a diver’s and snorkeling paradise, at least for anyone who has not been to Hawaii.  Certainly, the most fish I have seen since… Hawaii, but that was 30 years ago,

The plan was Bonaire, then Curacao and finally Aruba, the three so-called ABC’s.

20 miles e

Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard plane
Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard plane

ast southeast of Curacao, there is a small island, called Kleene Curacao.  It’s almost on the way, so after a long day, we figured to anchor off the windward shore.  This is the island with the wreck and the old, abandoned lighthouse.

After walking around the island

, climbing the lighthouse, making photos of the wreck, upon returning to Dauntless, I heard a low droning noise that can only come from a low flying turbo prop

DCCG RIB Pulling up
DCCG RIB Pulling up

aircraft.  It was a Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (DCCG) plane making a low (200 ft.) pass, parallel to the beach banked over to get a close look at our little Kadey Krogen.

That was interesting.  This was not our little boat’s first encounter with aircraft checking us out.  The Canadians off Nova Scotia, the French off the Brest Peninsula, did the same.  Seeing we were clearly not a fishing boat, we never saw them again.

But this time was different.

DCCG RIB Stalking Dauntless
DCCG RIB Stalking Dauntless
DCCG Making the transfer
DCCG Making the transfer

Next morning, we get underway to do the last 20 miles to Curacao.  This time, a DCCG helicopter circles our boat three times.   A couple hours later running parallel to the coast, just a couple miles off, the same helicopter returns and circles us again for 5 minutes.

So, it was no surprise when an hour later, we get a call on the VHF from DCCG asking us our destination.

OK, that’s simple, it’s Oranjestad, we’ll anchor just off the airport’s runway.

No, that won’t do, we are being asked to stop at customs in Bacadera, 4 miles south of Oranjestad.

No problem, that’s on the way.  I tell them we’ll be there in about an hour.

Then 20 minutes later, I’m hailed again, this time by the DCCG RIB that’s right off our stern quarter.

Initially, they seemed to want to follow me to Bacadera.  OK, but then finally they asked the question that it seems everyone has been dying to ask for the last few days, what am I streaming off the paravane poles?

I told them it’s a bird to stabilize the boat and reduce rolling.

Maretron Rolling Data showing the effectiveness of the Paravane Stabilizers
Maretron Rolling Data showing the effectiveness of the Paravane Stabilizers

Could I please retrieve them so that they may board our boat?

Of course, let’s end this drama!

They watched alertly as Micah and I went through our now well practiced, 4-minute routine: Dauntless in idle, then neutral, as boat slows I go to fly bridge, while Micah goes to side deck. After 2 minutes, boat is slowed enough for me to start retrieving poles. Then it’s just a matter of pulling birds out of water.

Once that is done, they ask me to go “Dead Slow”, and as Dauntless wallows around like stricken whale, they come alongside and three guys come on to Dauntless’ side deck.

They are really professional and even nice.  They obviously are thinking we are fishing.  They do a quick look around, take a picture of our passports and satisfied that we are not and have never been fishing, they prepare to leave.  This time though, they let me go the steadier speed of 5 knots, which makes it easier for the RIB to pull alongside and for them to return.

They add that we do not have to stop at Customs at Bacadera, but can proceed to Oranjestad, anchor for the night and check-in the following day.

Which we did.

At which point the customs asked us why we did not check-in the night before?

I stated simply that I did as I was directed.  That ended that discussion.

All in all, it was a good experience.  The only frustrating part was not so much about the fishing that wasn’t but just the paperwork to check-in and then a day or two later, the same paperwork to check-out.  For long term cruisers, not an issue, but for someone like me, who wants to see many places in a short time, they make it very time consuming and ultimately, I will not come back.

In fact, only a week later, closing in on Cartagena, I realized that check-in normally takes few days, check out two days and we only wanted to make a two-night stop.

We kept on going.

 

 

An Uneventful Trip

(The below was written last week, while underway, midway between St. Vincent in the Grenadines and Bonaire)

It’s about time!

Don't Let this happen to you. The wreck on the east side of Kleine Curacao
Don’t Let this happen to you.
The wreck on the east side of Kleine Curacao

Anyone who looks at a weather map can see that the passage from the eastern Caribbean to the Dutch Antilles is pretty much the same conditions as the Atlantic from the Caries to the Caribbean.

That means strong easterly trade winds and the seas and conditions that they produce. They are trade winds, because they are produced by the global heating and not by low pressure systems, as occurs north of the tropics.

So, we are merrily rolling along.  This is 42-hour point of a 70-hour trip.  Do I worry about jinxing it, by writing that we had no problems?  Of course, I do.  But every once in a while, I feel the need to get really crazy. Hoping that Poseidon is playing with Persephone and doesn’t have the inclination to mess with Dauntless this time.

Sunset Looking Towards Bonaire
Sunset Looking Towards Bonaire

Now, if this post never gets published because we never made it.  I take all the above back. But let’s assume that you are reading this in the comfort of your reading place and I am happily ensconced in Bonaire paying too much for everything and squealing like a pig as I do so.

Since I finally just published the account of an average day crossing the Atlantic in the trades, you should all know the routine my now.

And the weather is the same.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Easterly winds, 20 knots gusting to the low 30’s, with the direction varying from northeast to southeast.

As long as it has an easterly component, Dauntless can deal with it as we make our way west.

While the winds are about the same, the wave heights are significantly less. Thank God, no strike that, Thank Poseidon.

I guess that is the effect of the Grenadines and Antilles reducing the fetch (the distance winds blows over uninterrupted sea).  There seems to also be a tidal current of 0.5 to 1 knot pushing us along.  That means that yesterday, we made 156 miles in the first 24-hour period, that’s an average of 6.5 knots.

The extended length filling tube and funnel for the power steering
The extended length filling tube and funnel for the power steering

Our earlier Atlantic Passage, our average was 137 nm at 5.9 knots.

Yesterday, I made grilled chicken for us, with a side of pasta.  I also made a tomato sauce for pasta, which we will eat today.  This is something I have not made for many, many years, at least a half dozen, years.

I made this for Micah, as the time for him to return to school and get on with his life is now rapidly approaching.  It’s the least I can do for his hard work and the diligence he as shown these past 8 months on Dauntless.

The three big problems we had previously: the mysterious fuel leak, paravane shenanigans and hydraulic hose failure, have all been overcome.  The paravane poles have been the most interesting in that I am always tweaking the system.  Sometimes my tweaks work, sometimes they don’t.  But I pride myself on finding simple, inexpensive solutions and this stabilizing system is finally starting to speak for itself.

The hydraulic steering and the helm and for the ComNav Autopilot has never been quieter.  Never, at last since I’ve owned the boat.  And as Micah pointed out, the owner’s manual did say that one had to be patient as air would work itself out of the system in a few weeks.  I did help it by rigging a Rube Goldberg looking filling tube and funnel on the upper helm.  This allows the system to burp itself without the usually oily mess.

After the ABCs, we are headed to Colon and the Panama Canal, after a short visit to Columbia, where my brother is for some unknown reason.  He’s never seen Dauntless, so it’s the least I can do.

Near term, once through the canal, we’ll head up to Costa Rica, where Micah will leave us and Larry, my Alaskan friend of 44 years who I met on T-3, will join me and D.

 

 

 

 

Four Months & 6,000 Miles for Dauntless & Her Intrepid Crew

Dauntless in the Best of Brest
Dauntless in the Best of Brest

The table below has our tentative cruising plan for the next four months.  While the dates are somewhat tentative, you know me, I like sticking to the plan.

Kadey Krogen in Spain and Galicia
Kadey Krogen in Spain and Galicia

A few explanations about the below chart:

  • The tentative arrival date is just that, but the departure date from the previous port can be derived from the required days (4th column) minus the arrival date. E.g. Departure date from GIB (Gibraltar) is 1 day before arrival at Rabat, so the 7th of November.
  • 2nd Column, Type, “C” = Coastal cruising, “P” = Passage, i.e. No Stops.

Crew consists om my Hawaiian nephew Micah who has travelled with Dauntless since Ireland and is a very flexible soul and I.

We have others joining us for various legs, though at this time, it looks like I still would like to have a couple or one person for the passage from the Canaries to the Caribbean.  If you think you have some interest in this, please email me, sooner rather than later.

I am excited about getting this new phase underway.  So much of my time, my life, my adventures have been in Europe.  I’m ready for a big change.  It will take a year to get to Alaska and another year to get to Northeast Asia.

Dauntless is as ready as she has ever been.  Unlike coming east two years ago, all is ship shape. Spare parts are stowed and organized, fuel tank vents are moved, paravanes are rigged to run more effectively and can be easily run much deeper if need be and the two air conditioning units are even working.

Here are the current winds for the mid-Atlantic. To get an approximate idea of the Dauntless’ route, visualize a line from the bottom of Spain to NE South America.  Following winds or no winds.  the se are the “Trade Winds” and are pretty constant all winter.

Windyty showing the Atlantic Ocean

Can’t ask for better than that.

We Be Ready.

 

Tentative Arrival Date Type of Cruise Arrival or Departure Point # of Days Rq’d Current

Crew

Additional Crew

Needed?

03-Nov-16 Rota, Spain 2
04-Nov-16 C GIB 1 3 0
08-Nov-16 P Morocco, Rabat, Mohamedia 1 4 0
14-Nov-16 P Morocco, Agadir 1 4 ?
22-Nov-16 P Canaries, Lanzarote 2 3 1 or 2
26-Nov-16 P Canaries, Gran 1 2 1 or 2
30-Nov-16 P Canaries, west 1 2 1 or 2
19-Dec-16 P Barbados 18 2 1 or 2
26-Dec-16 C Grenadines, Carriacou, Grenada 3 2 ?
05-Jan-17 P Bonaire 3 2 ?
17-Jan-17 C Curacao, Aruba 2 3
01-Feb-17 P Panama Canal, East 5 3 ?
07-Feb-17 C Panama Canal, West 3 3 ?
20-Feb-17 C Costa Rica 6 3

 

 

 

Dauntless Cruise Plan 2016-17 Europe to Asia

Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

So here is the plan.  The first four months show little change, but after I get back from the USA in mid-October it will be a lot of cruising.

Previously I had decided to stay in Europe this coming year, but life happens and circumstances change. Therefore, In November Dauntless and I will start to head west not to return for many years.

The good news is that while it is a lot of miles, over 17,000, those miles are spread over 17 months.  Since almost 10,000 miles are passage miles, in which we do about 150 miles per day, it means that over 300 days of the 500 we only have to average about 35 miles per day.  Much less than last summer.

So, while nothing is in stone, this is the tentative plan and you know me: Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

The dates are somewhat firm in that to get to Korea in the fall of 2017, I must be able to get to Japan in early August, as I want to cross the Bering and North Pacific in July and early August.

This is a plan that is based on the weather, meaning it’s doable with “normal” weather.  But there are a number of things that must happen:

  • Leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean needs to happen by early December.
  • Arriving in Kodiak, Alaska needs to happen by early July 2017.

Now of course, this depends on a few factors besides just the weather.  I could be kidnapped by some Greek and decide to spend a year in Lesbos with the rest of the refugees.  Some other mechanical or personal issue could overtake plans.  But most likely, the weather does not cooperate.  For this plan to work, I must have favorable weather during the winter and spring along the west coast of Central and North America.

If the winds do not cooperate, then we’ll spend the winter and spring in Central America and Mexico, then come up the west coast to B.C. and S.E. Alaska for the summer and winter over in S.E. Alaska, a fantastically beautiful destination all in itself.

This Plan B is not a terrible outcome and I’m sure many will think it should be Plan A, but I’ll let Fate and the wx gods decide.  At best it’s a 50-50 proposition, or maybe better yet, 49-49-02, the 02% being something unforeseen like the Greeks or something.

Want to join me at any part?  I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company.  We will be doing a lot of miles, over 17,000 but who’s counting!  There will be many opportunities in the next 17 months, but the better times (summer vacation) and destinations, (Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Alaska) will fill before the more tedious parts.

Oh, wait, there are no longer any tedious parts.

In any case, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts, no matter how tenuous.

Richard on Dauntless

I expect to be in the place or nearby by the date in the column to the left.

.E.g. I expect to arrive in the Lesser Antilles on 22 December.

25-May-16 Ireland, Feet Wet
02-Jun-16 Scotland
18-Jun-16 Ireland, Waterford
02-Jul-16 Ireland, Waterford
07-Jul-16 France, Brest
05-Aug-16 Spain, San Sabastian
25-Aug-16 Spain, A Coruna
15-Oct-16 Spain, A Coruna
20-Oct-16 Portugal, North
10-Nov-16 Portugal, Algarve
16-Nov-16 Gibralter
22-Nov-16 Morocco (maybe)
28-Nov-16 Canaries
05-Dec-16 Canaries
22-Dec-16 Lesser Antilles
12-Jan-17 Panama Canal
01-Apr-17 Baja Calif
02-May-17 Southern Cal
20-May-17 Pac NW, Seattle
15-Jun-17 SE Alaska
01-Jul-17 Kodiak
08-Jul-17 Dutch Harbor
16-Jul-17 Attu
25-Jul-17 Japan, Hokkaido
21-Sep-17 Japan, South
12-Oct-17 Japan, South
14-Oct-17 Busan, South Korea
01-Nov-17 Yeosu, S. Korea

The Plan Evolves

Where I now and where am I going?

I found this picture of the narrow passage that I was afraid to take. Thought I would include it just to show I have some sense.
I found this picture of the narrow passage that I was afraid to take. Thought I would include it just to show I have some sense.

So, it took two car rides, four trains, one bus and two airplanes to get home, having spent the last month in Ireland, Germany and England.

It’s great to have the ability to travel; it’s great to visit my wonderful, generous friends and it’s great to be home. None are mutually exclusive. Just the way I like it.  I’m just an inclusive type of guy.

So, sitting here, with Squawk Box on CNBC in the background, I thought I would write about the evolution of our plans over the last few weeks.

This link is one of the Chrome tabs that open on my computer each time I am on-line.

http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-42.29,39.39,720

I like getting a sense of the general weather patterns over the areas we will be traveling.  Also, it gives a sense of how the situation changes or not, from one day to another.  In this case, I’m concentrating on the western coasts of France and Spain, as well as the trade winds that will whisk us back to North America and all the way through the Panama Canal.

The long range plan has never changed; but as they say, the devil is in the details.

Before we even acquired our Krogen 42, the overall plan was:

  1. First summer in New England, Nova Scotia
  2. First winter back to Florida and Bahamas
  3. Second summer crossing the North Atlantic
  4. Wintering in northern Europe, the Netherlands.
  5. Third summer in the Baltic

Pretty much as gone according to plan; Ireland replaced the Netherlands and has been the absolutely best choice.

This past summer has taken a bit more money, energy and bruises than anticipated.

This link shows the movement of Dauntless since July 2014.  (Note: As you zoom in, the level of detail increases as to the actual route).

https://share.delorme.com/dauntless

As I had already mentioned: first time is nice, second time is great, third time is an anti-climax. So as wonderful Ireland is, both in the people, the country and the cost; it’s time to move on.

Attending the Krogen Rendezvous in early October, helped us decide to keep Dauntless in Europe one more extra year through 2016 and much of 2017. My recent trip to visit sailing friends, Andreas & Annette in Germany and John, Jenny & Ben in England, have further revised our thinking:

First, my original plan of getting Dauntless’ bruises fixed and back in the water ASAP, was scrapped. I came to understand that time out of the water was good and it also made the work schedule for the boat yard easier and therefore less costly for me. So Dauntless will be on the hard until March.

Assuming all is well, then in April we will start our 2016 cruising season, which right now, may not end until we get to South Korea in August 2018 at the earliest.

So right now this is what the general plan looks like:

Year Season Locations
2016 Spring Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Orkneys, Shetlands,
Summer ???, west coast France
Fall NW Spain
Winter Portugal, SW Spain
2017 Spring SE Spain? Med?
Summer TBD
Fall Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands
Winter Lesser Antilles, Panama Canal, Costa Rica
2018 Spring When winds allow moving North along west coast to SE Alaska
Summer Cross Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Japan, Southern coast of Korea

 

So that’s it in a nutshell. 20,000 nm, (36,000 km) in 29 months, 700 nm/month.  That’s seemingly a lot, but there are some very long legs, with about 10-12k miles over only three months. Also the last 9 months of the trip will take us halfway around the world.  Ummm, that’s a lot.  So it may happen that we will add a year in there probably in the Pac NW or British Columbia.

This allows the first 20 months, from April 2016 to November 2017, to be cruised at very comfortable pace.

So stay tuned.  Mark your calendar and if you want to do more than just read about our adventures, drop me a line. There will be a lot of miles and days that are better done with company than without.