Still Plugging Away in Vallejo, But a New Tale of Adventure and Woe on the High Seas

My fresh water replumbing job was 75% done yesterday, today it’s 50% and even that took a couple of hours. Suffice to say that the floor of closet now looks like Charlie Kruger took to it with a chain saw. No pictures, since many who read this are carpenters or at last know how to work wood and the pictures are not fit for a mature audience.

My beloved grill already for another 5 years

But it does bring back some painful memories. My first wife had asked me many, many times to repaint some chairs we had. Finally, I did. I laid the yellow paint on nice and thick, so the old color would not show through. I was pleased, though they took days to dry. Finally, I presented my masterpieces and she asked me about those drip marks. What drip marks? They weren’t there when I put them to dry. I hope she’s not reading this and cringing.

I stuck to things mechanical and electrical after that.

Who looks at the bottom of the closet anyway?

I have finished some small things though. I replaced both burners and the electric igniter  on my Weber Q300 grill. That grill has spent 5 years on the ocean. I’ve been quite pleased with it.

I also installed the new thermostat in my Raritan water heater. I did notice in my travel this week that both the thermostat and heating element are available at your local Home Depot for roughly half the price. It’s expensive to print the word “marinized” on the box.

The tangle around the prop that was removed today

Last, but not least, I had a diver come by to check my bottom. Well, Dauntless’ bottom. And sure enough, I had a little collection of lines around my prop. I’m so happy. Coming up the California coast, I thought I felt a slightest of vibrations. Almost like a shudder every few seconds. It would not have been noticeable to anyone else and Larry didn’t feel it, but I knew. Even wanting to be wrong about it, I knew. I was worried that I had tweaked the prop. Worse yet I thought I had tweaked it by doing something stupid. Yes, even stupider than the last stupid thing.

We were underway from Ensenada to San Diego, eagerly anticipating the celebration with fireworks and fire boats that was sure to wait us in the old U.S. of A. It had been 4 years after all.

This shows the Maretron Data of Pitch (left) and Roll (right). You can see where I deployed the paravane because the roll was reduced by more than half at about the 28 minutes ago mark. You can see that it also reduced the pitch, but that is not to be expected. It happened this time because of the combination of NW swell and West wind waves as were headed NNW.

The wind was light, 10 knots from the west on our port beam. With the added Pacific swell from the northwest, the boat’s rolling had increased as the day wore on. By early afternoon, the roll was 10° to starboard and about 5° to windward or port. But occasionally the roll increased to 15° & 10°. That’s a difference of 25° and usually is the point where I really notice the roll and so I will put one or both paravane birds out. In this case, I just put the windward bird out. That would dampen the roll about 50% and we only lost 0.4 knots. A good price to pay for a nicer ride.

This picture I took as the boat slowed down, so the bird was back under the water.

Suddenly, close to the USA-Mexico border, the ride of the boat abruptly changed. It became very smooth. I jumped up from the pilot house settee to look at the paravane and see that we had snagged hundreds of feet of line connected to pots, I guessed. I estimated hundreds of feet, since I could see at least 100 feet strung in the air, then to the bird which was well out of the water.

I chopped the power, the boat slowing quickly. But now, the line of the pots was snagged on the bird, but stopped dead in the water, with the pole vertical, we had all the dead weight of whatever that line was attached to.

I got the not so bright idea to go in reverse. Possibly, the line would un-snag itself at that point. It’s worked in the past, but no luck this time.

Larry and I heaved and heaved and got the line up to the bird, at which point, we cut the snagged line away. This line also had several floats on it. Once cut away, the floats and line and floating right next to the hull amidships.

Until now we had done almost everything right. I just needed to be a little patient.  But patience is not a virtue I have been gifted with. I decided to go forward to get away from the floats. Yes, by running over them. Sounds stupid even in the writing. Sure enough, within seconds the line was in the prop. I stopped the motor and cursed at my stupidity.

That done, I put her in reverse, as I have unwound lines that way also. In this case, no and hell no. There came a hellish scream, which I attributed to a float being wound around the prop scrapping the hull.

Wow, as I write this, details came back that I totally forgot about!

I went in the water. I lowered the swim ladder, climbed down the ladder to the lowest rung and stood there, while Larry handed me the boat hook. I was able to snag the line using the boat hook, since it was about 10 feet under the water.

We got that line up to the boat and cut it.

I then backed up again and we were free.

But from then on, I felt this slight shudder. Had I tweaked the prop? I didn’t know until today.

I do have a SALCA cutter anode (model 2000, 2″ diameter) on the shaft, just in front of the prop. I’m sure it has saved me many times and even this time, may have helped. But that pile of lines now on the dock, was wrapped around the prop since San Diego.

In thinking about this incident, I also realize that the paravanes were well designed for incidents like this. I’m sure that is the most force put on that pole and lines since installation. The 3/8” Amsteel Blue line fore guy did its job. To stop the roll suddenly and slow the boat so abruptly, there must have been thousands of pounds of force to the aft on that line. It’s tied off permanently at the bow hawsepipe and cleat. I have it doing 4 turns over the cap rail, with a clove hitch before it’s tied off on a cleat. Thus, the cleat never really sees significant force, even under these circumstances.

Thank you, John Duffy in Miami, for doing such a great job with the paravanes.

I think I’ll have a celebratory drink, since I missed the fireworks and fireboats in San Diego.\

And I’m looking for a decently priced Hookah outfit. I need to be even more self reliant.

 

 

Morocco to the Canaries

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

Dauntless is ready to Leave Morocco
Dauntless is ready to Leave Morocco

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 ¼ of the time. Now in my third year, it’s more like ¾.

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 patch. Now the patch gives me a bad rash, something it did not do a couple years ago, but it’s also very effective as long as I put it on the night

Sunset over the Atlantic
Sunset over the Atlantic

before departure.

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

wp-1480823606020.jpg
Grand Canaria comes into sight

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.

Monday, the 28th, Day 1 of 4.  It was great to get underway again.  Having an extra week in Morocco was not needed. The Moroccans are lovely people though and even that morning the Pilot asked me if I wanted to go out with them that morning to check the inlet. I’m always up for an adventure, so of course I went.  The winds had finally died down, so I was a bit surpised to see 6 to 8 foot waves at the inlet.  But they were not higher, so they declared the port open.wp-1480823606027.jpg

Grand Canaries
Grand Canaries

That started the whole customs, police and immigration process.  Basically, just like checking in, you leave your berth, go to the designated dock and all the above come visit.  It took us about an hour to check in 3 weeks earlier, and it took about an hour to check out.  If that seems like a lot, you should know that in southern Spain and all of Portugal, it always seemed to take half an hour. (the difference between northern Europe, including northern Spain and southern Europe is like night and day; it’s mind boggling).

So, Day 1 started out with our checking out.  The customs or immigration lady, who checked us in with her team of three others, checked us hot.  Must say, she was the hottest officer I have ever seen.  But she was all business, all the time.  If you have ever been to the Soviet Union, you can picture what I mean.

The process, though time consuming, was easy and extremely convenient. As we pulled away from the dock, we waved at everyone and headed to the inlet.

Those steep inlet waves test that everything on the boat is stored securely and all was so we headed southwest along the coast of Morocco. While the winds from the south were light, there was an Atlantic swell of 8 to 10 feet, with an 8 to 10 second period. Not bad, but it necessitated us having the paravanes out with the two birds in the

Las Palmas
Las Palmas

water.

Day 1 ended after 24 hours and we did 133 nm.

Day 2 (starting Tuesday at 14:35, the second 24-hour period) started the same, light SE winds, but became stronger through the entire period. Finally, at the 47-hour point, mid-afternoon on Wednesday, the winds had increased to 25 knots.  With our southwesterly course, this meant they were off our bow.  This makes the course untenable as we end up burning fuel to go slower and slower, all the while pitching up and down like one of those mechanical bulls!

Our initial destination had been the Canary Island, Fuerteventura, but with these strong SE winds, we needed to head more west, like 240 degrees. Thus, our new destination became Las Palmas, on the island of Gran Canarias.

So, Day 2, 150nm, (the second 24-hour period) ended with us headed 240 degrees, with winds 160 at 21 knots gusts to 25, 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.

Two hours into Day 3 (Thursday, 16:50), I was in the galley, when I felt the boat motion change. I looked out the salon window to see the windward paravanes bird being dragged on top of the water, clearly broken.

At first I was really calm about it.  I finished filling my water bottle. Then went to stop the boat, retrieve the pole and bird.  Dauntless is quite tame when not underway, in other words, she rolls much more underway w=then when dead in the water.  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.  But as we tried to get the bird out of the lazerette, 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, so close to the hydraulic rudder piston, but after 5 minutes of trying dislodge it, I gave up, took the bins out of the other side 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 more than half that time, trying to get the one bird out.

Underway again, all was good, but I was feeling very strange. I had to change my clothes, since I spray everything in the lazerette with various WD-40 products. After changing my clothes, I figured a shower would help.  I felt very hot. I shower quickly, figuring that cooling off would make me feel better, but now, I can’t dry myself. It was a bizarre feeling. I didn’t seem able to stand or move.

I tell Micah that I will join him momentarily, figuring if I just relax for a few minutes all will be fine. As I am now sitting on my bed, still sort of wet.  I finish drying myself, realize I need to rest, but want to walk around the boat, make sure all is OK.  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 realized I can do nothing physical. I tell Micah to make sure everything looks OK and I needed to nap.

I do and three hours later, I am up and OK.

Winds were weakening, but the westerly swell was still there, so we kept the birds in the water. Finally, when I came on watch at 04:00, I decided to pull the birds to make some time (the birds cost about 1 knot of speed).

Day 3 ends, 147 nm, with the winds SE at 10 knots and we’ve been making 6 to 7 knots the whole time.

Day 4 starts with me adding a quart of oil to the engine while underway.  It had been 72 hours and the Ford Lehman uses about a quart every 50 to 60 hours. Winds of 10 knots or less allowed us to run without the paravanes for most of the period, but by early morning, the roll had increased to an annoying level. Our course had been 232 for the last 20 hours and the winds were now 210 at 10 kts, and the seas 210 with 3 to 6 foot waves.  This meant we were now heading into them, but with 40 miles still to go, there was not much we could do.  The waves were also causing an annoying corkscrew motion, a combination of pitch and roll, so I decided to put one bird, the windward bird, in the water.

This past year, since leaving Ireland, I have on a number of occasions, put only the windward paravanes bird in the water.  It still is 80% as effective as both birds, but it reduced our speed a little less, 0.7 knots, versus 1 to 1.2 for both.

And that’s how our passage from Rabat to the Canaries ended.  We pulled up just a mile from the harbor, pulled the bird and we entered the Puerto Deportivo De Las Palmas on Friday at 15:26.

Day 4, 167 nm, 25 hours, 35 minutes, average speed 6.5 knots.

Total for trip: 598 nm, 4 days, 1 hours, 35 minute, average speed 6.2 knots

A couple of videos:

Cruising down the Moroccan Coast

End of Day 1

 

See where we are at: http://share.delorme.com/dauntless

A French Kiss on the Bay of Biscay

Three days, three nights, three hundred and fifty miles, what could go wrong?

Dauntless in Spain
Dauntless in Spain

In my early years of cruising, it what seems like just yesteryear, oh wait, it was just last year, I started out every overnight passage thinking nothing would go wrong. No muss, no fuss, no drama.

In spite of the fact that I really like Korean dramas, not all dramas are the same and dramas on Dauntless seem just that, dramatic.

But this year, 2016, I vowed everything would be different.  Leaving no stone unturned, I would ruthlessly dot every I and cross every t, leaving no room for dramas of any kind.

We waited an extra day in Rochelle with an anticipated three-day weather window opening up.  Day one would have brisk winds from the northwest (NW 12g18), Day 2 continued brisk winds but from the northeast, Day 3 light winds, less than 8 knots and Day 4 southwesterly winds increasing in strength to 25 knots by Day 5.

Now, what this means is since our course for the 60-hour passage would be to the southwest (240 degrees True), Day 1 would find brink winds on our beam producing 4 to 6 foot seas, Day 2 would see a following sea of the same magnitude and Day 3 should see flat seas.

But we would have to arrive before the southwesterly winds picked up, since there is nothing worse than heading into the seas and wind in a slow ass boat like Dauntless.  Not only does the ride become worse than the worse hoppy horse you ever rode, but you slow down so much, you 10-hour trip becomes 20, so the time of being miserable is doubled is not trebled (see last year’s epic, beating yourself to death on the English Channel.)

Thus our departure time was carefully calibrated to the weather forecast and the opening of the gate in the marina which is only open for three hours centered around the high water time.  Thus 6 hours out of every 24.

We left La Rochelle on time, 14:15 hours, just as the draw bridge opened, and got a hearty send off from the bridge attendant with gestures and yelling which could only mean “Bon Voyage”, though he was pointing to a red light in doing so, but if I have learned only one thing while boating in France, it’s that everything is advisory and as long as you don’t hit something too hard, All’s Well that Ends Well.

The afternoon of Day 1 was about as anticipated, westerly winds around 10 knots; not enough to produce significant seas.  So we ran without the paravanes birds in the water. Dauntless had a nice easy gait to her.  The boys were on four hour watches and they were doing very well. I could even sleep in my cabin (having slept in the pilot house on our previous passage from Ireland).

12 hours into the passage, during the early morning hours, the winds were picking up to the mid to high teens, that will produce seas 3 to 5 feet and they were from the west not NW. This meant that our heading to the SW was into a bit of seas producing some pitching.  So at 02:00 as I rolled around in bed, I figured I may as well get up and deploy the birds.

Normally, upon leaving port, I set the poles out and make sure of the rigging.  We did that this time as usual, but when the birds were in the water, I noticed the lines were wrapped strangely around the pole, with the net effect that the bird was not hanging from the end of the pole, but from the middle.

That just wouldn’t do, so in seas that were now 4 to 6 feet, we stopped to haul the birds, unshackle them and re-rig them.  With Dauntless sitting dead in the water, standing on the side deck can be a bit frightening to the novice sailor.  From the side deck, you look up to see a 6 foot waves approaching the beam. Your first thought is that this wave is not only going to soak you, but will swamp the boat.

Now I’m kneeling down, taking the shackle off, so I can unwind the line from the pole.  Tony, my nephew, is standing there a bit amazed, as he warns me of the “big” waves approaching.  It is a bit daunting I admit, but I tell him those waves aren’t that big.

So, 10 minutes later both birds are re-rigged and in the water.

I did notice that the lee side bird was running pretty close to the boat, but I have seen this behavior before and did not think it was significant.  I got back to bed, leaving Tony or Micah on watch.

As I am laying in bad, thinking about the birds, I had gotten splashed by a few drop of good ole North Atlantic Ocean water.  I went to sleep thinking I had been kissed my Mother Nature.

The winds picked up all night and into Day 2, now blowing at 15 to 22 knots.  Annoyingly, they were still from the west and not the northwest as forecast (stupid me for believing the details of the weather forecast).  So the seas were building and we were rolling a bit more than usual.

Then Bam, what the hell was that? I’m in bed, it’s dark. I get up, look around, I notice that the windward paravanes pole was unloading more than usual.  Maybe that was the bang I heard, felt, as it picked up the slack suddenly.

Every few minutes, when the boat got into a deep rhythmic roll, I’d hear the bang.  I look again, see nothing unusual. Both birds are running closer to the boat than usual, but they are also running deeper than last year.

After getting another 2-hour sleep in, I get up at 07:00, to relieve Micah so they can both get a good sleep.  I am determined to find the bang.  I’m standing in the stern deck, looking at the beautiful sunset and I look down during a particularly heavy roll (15 degrees in one direction) and the paravanes bird is really close to the hull.  Is that the bang I am hearing??

Have the birds become asymmetric?  Meaning does it now matter which side they are on?  I realize that the starboard bird is running to the left, while the port bird is running to the right.  Could the easy fix be to just swap them?

I decide to do just that. So for the third time I stop the boat to retrieve the birds, unshackle them and swap sides.  I think you should be able to see the course change I made to facilitate this, (Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless) I turned Dauntless to run with the waves making the motion on the boat easier.

Ten minutes later, it’s done and they are running true, both now running just where they should about 13 feet from the side of the boat.  So now, I better mark them.  The roll was also reduced after the swap.  Now they are working normally.

Day 2’s winds stayed NW all day. Never saw the NE winds that were forecast.

Around midnight of the second day out, we stopped again to pull the birds, this time because the seas had greatly diminished and I wanted the 0.7 kts back that they use.

So it’s now 08:00 on Day 3.  The winds have finally died, though we have an Atlantic swell of about 6 feet every 8 seconds.

I decided to add a quart of oil to the engine while running.  With the Ford Lehman, there is virtually no blowback with the oil cap off, so one can add oil without making a mess. (Don’t try this with your car with an overhead camshaft.)

This engine consumes about a quart of oil about every 50 hours, so to add some now would not hurt.

As I am pouring the oil in I notice the red plastic ring that comes off the cap was still around the spout of the oil container.  As I think I must be careful not to let it fall into the engine, it falls into the engine!

What a f…ing idiot.  I dash to the pilot house to kill the engine (yes, I know I need a remote start/stop in the engine room) and run back to see what I can see in the top of the oil fill on the crankcase.  I bend over, flashlight in hand and see the plastic ring. Yes! Then I see a second plastic ring? And then a third.

The plastic rings retrieved from the top of the crankcase.
The plastic rings retrieved from the top of the crankcase.

I suppose the good news is they were not going to melt and ruin the head.  I do have one of those retrieval snakes right by the engine, so a few minutes later, I had all three fished out.

I should look in there more often.  Maybe I’ll find my missing books.

Probably not.

All’s Well That Ends Well.

Tonight Spain, ready or not.