Go West, Young Man, Go West

OK, I’m not so young anymore; well at least not physically.

The Atlantic Analysis for 26 September 2016
The Atlantic Analysis for 26 September 2016

Yesterday, I decided to tackle the laundry basket of papers, books, magazines and miscellaneous stuff that should have been thrown away last year.  OK, actually two laundry baskets, plus a few smaller bins.

My bicycle was also part of the melee, the last time I rode it was in Sweden, last September.  I really liked Sweden.  If I get back to Northern Europe, it will certainly be because Sweden has much of the best cruising grounds in Northern Europe.

Poland intrigues me also, but not for the cruising, but for the people and food. Both wonderfully warm and tasty.

But, now my vision is looking west. And there will be a westward component for a long time to come. So while Sweden is only 2,000 miles away, I’ll probably put 20 times those miles before I get back there.

One of my current homepages is the Atlantic Analysis from NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center. I don’t spend a lot of time with it, but I do like to check it out every time I am connected to the WWW.

The current map shows the large high pressure area that pretty much lives over the eastern Atlantic. That observation at 29N, 16W is the Canaries.  There will be a similar pattern when we finally leave in late November and I should be able to follow that 1020mb isobar for much of the way all the way to Barbados. The Kadey Krogen was born for following seas.  She must like her behind being pushed along.

Well the bicycle is attached to the wall as it was two years ago on the east bound passage.  Many of the papers have been sorted and put or thrown away.

I’m doing this now because I’ll be Missing in Action (MIA) for the month of October. I’ll be in the USA and Italy, so Dauntless needs to be ready in early November.  Leaving the boat for a month in southern Spain is not inexpensive.  At this point it looks like my best option is to pull her out of the water and let her be on the hard for 30 days.  I had previously not considered this option, but a little mishap in docking a couple weeks ago, made this option very attractive.

Yes, I have a 5-foot scar down the side of the new painted hull.  F…ing annoying.

Dauntless is Wounded
Dauntless is Wounded

I hardly spoke to myself for days!

Just writing about it is annoying so, that’s all for now folks.

 

 

 

Baltic Recap

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The Krogen along the wall in Gdansk. The marina is on the right. But our price was right!

I’ve written about many aspects of the Dauntless’ Summer Cruise 2015, the good, the bad and certainly the ugly.  How ugly I’ll find out next week.  But now, I thought I would share a few more mundane issues that I think will be of interest.

Let me say up front, that if you have any questions or comments you would like to share privately, please email me.  My contact information is somewhere in WordPress.

A few interesting tidbits. No, not Tim Horton’s Timbits, (Sorry New Yorkers, even if you have visited one of the Tim Horton’s in NYC, it is Tim Horton’s in name only. The version sold in New York is owned and made by the same person who owns the Dunkin Donuts franchise in NYC.  Needless to say, the only thing they have in common is the name).

 

Type of Overnight Days of Trip Percent Cost
All 128 100% $ 2,562
Marina 59 46% $28.15 / night
Dock or wall 32 25%
Anchored 17 13%
Tied to land, with stern anchor 8 6%
Dock in Canal (Scotland) 5 4%
Underway overnight 7 5%

 

I merged the two categories of marinas and docks because I was a bit arbitrary during the course of the summer.  Generally a marina means a marina as we know it with amenities like:   an office, a secured dock (but not always), showers, laundry, etc.

Dock or wall is just that, a dock that is floating or a wall .  Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t.  In general the prices were cheaper since they had little or no amenities.

But again the line between the two types, dock or marina is not that large.  A good portion of the marinas had no security; while some cheap docks did.  The last dock we stopped at, Arklow in Ireland, was free, and within 30 minutes, two different guys (fishermen) came by to tell us the security code of the gate.

Since we are talking bout security, maybe in the first weeks, I felt a bit apprehensive with the no security, but I’ve been in Europe enough that after I bit I did not even notice.  Much of the Netherlands was like that.  The river, canal wound through the center of town, there were bollards placed in which to tie.  You then found the nearby post, the same as one uses to pay for car parking. You paid your 12 Euros and placed the sticker on your boat. This included electricity that I usually did not bother with.

The far west and far east has the most expensive marinas.  The Channel Islands and the first stops in France were $50 per night for a 12 meter boat, as was Tallinn.  Helsinki took the prize for the most expensive marina at $60.

The rest of Scandinavia was really good.  Stockholm was only $35 and while Copenhagen was more at $45, the small towns I stopped in Norway ranged from $15 to zero.

In the middle, Germany, Poland, Latvia were all great places to visit and inexpensive; in all three of those countries marinas cost about $25.

Poland and Latvia turned out to be our favorite places.  In Gdansk, Poland, were right downtown and our Krogen must have been featured in a thousand pictures.  We were on a wall right next to the marina. The wall was free, in fact, the second day, the Bosman, the person in charge of the marina, came by to ask us if we needed electricity, telling him no, he said were welcome to stay on the wall since it was free.  I was happy.

The Poles love Americans.  Like virtually the entire trip, so many people in seeing the stars and stripes came by to say hello and hear our story: “yes, we took it across the ocean on our own, yes, we are from New York, No, it is not a Grand Banks, it’s a Kadey Krogen”

It was also in Gdansk that I met a couple from Stockholm on their catamaran.  Like virtually everyone we met on the water, they were so helpful.  They also gave me good advice about Navionics charts in that “Europe HD” was detailed enough to use and there was now no need for paper charts.

And all that for $87.

I always run with two different navigation charts, since last year, Navionics and Jepp’s C-Map.  I like the color rendition a bit more on the Navionics, but I must admit that I have not seen any significant difference between the two in Europe.

Speaking of navigation, I found it easier than the ICW, in that it is not critical to know whether the channel is going to or coming from the ocean. Instead, in the skärgärd they will declare “pass red on the left or green on the right” or vice versa.  Now in that situation, it is different in that once there was a red of the left and a green on the right of the channel meaning I could NOT go in between where the rock was.

In Riga, I was doing something in the engine room when I felt someone get on the boat. Thinking it was my friends, I kept working; but not hearing their voices, I came up to see this couple having their wedding pictures being taken on the fore deck.

Cute.  Latvians loved us too.

All in all, we averaged $28 per stay for the 90 odd days we stopped. Not bad considering a hotel room in many of those cities would have cost 10 times more.

Now you do not have to pay for fuel for that hotel room, but even with fuel, the daily cost is only $76 and with fuel at today’s price it Ireland, that daily average would have been $7 cheaper at $69 per marina.

And it’s sure nice seeing the wonders of the world pass by your living room window.

 

 

Quest for the Real Danish

And to think it only cost $17,000!

Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France
Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France

Well I suppose our Baltic Cruise did have other objectives, but let’s not minimize my fondness for morning baked goods, in particular Danish.

Now, you all know the capital of the Danish; no, not Copenhagen, but New York.  And of course, we are talking about the morning pastry, not the people.

New Yorkers think they invented the Danish.  That flaky, layered pastry filled with or with a dollop of fruit or cheese in the middle.

Never packaged in plastic, and not made from a lot of chemicals and artificial crap, that one gets in the rest of the country.  Yes.  It was hard duty living in places like Seattle, Denver and of course, the city with the lowest average annual temperature in the USA, Fairbanks, Alaska. But someone had to do it.

A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless
A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless

No our Danishes are always fresh.  Places that try to sell day old stuff in NYC don’t last long; unless of course, they are in one of those “new’ neighborhoods, like Battery Park City, that is full people from west of New Jersey, who don’t know any better.

By the way, speaking of Battery Park City, this large deluxe apartment complex, built to the west of the World Trade Center largely on landfill from the WTC and other projects of the 60’s and 70’s.  So during Superstorm Sandy, the Weather Channel had their goofy looking reporters in Battery Park City, watching the water rise to almost street level, as its inhabitants walked their dogs and babies, like every other rainy, windy day.

A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur
A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur

In the meantime, in Brooklyn alone, more than 500,000 people watched their cars float away in 8 feet of water!   The water getting as much as a mile inland.  Power in the Trump Village buildings, some of the buildings that made Trump senior rich and his idiot son think he “earned” his money just by being born, was lost for a week.  Cars were left were the water dropped them for months.  It was more than 6 months before banks and food markets were able to open again.

But since the Weather Channel did not show it, it must not have happened.  This scene was repeated along the coast of Staten Island and much of New Jersey.

My point is that television seldom can give even a representative picture and never the whole story.

So, back to my quest for the Danish.

I ate a lot of ice cream
I ate a lot of ice cream

At $135 a day, this 120 day quest could have seemed like a waste of money.  But, my attitude about money and Dauntless is simple: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  At least until after the fact, as my last post shows.

Ummm

Our quest started in France, the town of Trebeurden.  After the mile walk uphill, the offerings were a big disappointment.  The little pastry places with coffee and wonderfully baked goods were not to be found.

Next country Belgium, Oostende, only 30 miles from Holland, but finding coffee in the morning was also not so easy.

Then Holland, Zuid Holland to be exact.  Pastries much like I am familiar with both in NY and from 30 years of visiting the Netherlands.  Delicately done apple and cherry turnovers, but layered far more than in the US.  Also far less sweet than in the US and of course, made with mostly natural ingredients and not crap. Flakey, light croissants, almost as nice as the best of France.  The coffee is also very good, and the prices are reasonable.

And not yet realizing how much I took for granted those Bäckerei und Konditorei would be open by 6 a.m. and always around.

Two Krogens in Holland
Two Krogens in Holland

Honestly, after three weeks winding my way thru the Netherlands, Holland, Brabant, Gelderland and Friesland, I was really spoiled.  By far it would end up being the most convenient in terms of where the boat was and were the people were.  I got very spoiled.  Great pastries and coffee every morning. Always warm and fresh and costing not more than $5 to sit, drink a cup of java and enjoy at last one pastry (though I usually always got two).

Germany was next.  Bäckerei und Konditorei. The western half, like the Netherlands, only slightly more dour, the people and the food.  Not surprisingly, the eastern half, of the DDR, was noticeably more dour.  Much like the dwarfs of Tolkien’s Middle Earth; but taller.

Pannekoeken in Brabant
Pannekoeken in Brabant. We’ve been coming here for 20 years. Very tasty.

Poland was a treat in every aspect.  The 8 days we spent in our four stops in Poland, were the absolutely best for eating.  Morning was more about donuts and fried, filled things, but really good, really fresh, tasty and cheap.

Dinners were sublime.  Every dinner was fantastic.  Beef cheeks, pig ankle, herring tartar; all so exceeded our already high expectations. Prices more reasonable than lands to the west.

I had already planned a 2016 trip back, but Julie point out that Ryan Air would cost about a billion dollars less than taking Dauntless again.

Poland Black forest cake.  It's even better than it looks.
Poland Black forest cake. It’s even better than it looks.

Sad, but true.

Bakery in Liepaja
Bakery in Liepaja.  If you look closely, you can see that those cakes are around 3 Euros.

After avoiding the Russian minefield, Latvia was next.  We stopped in Liepaja and Riga, one of our goals for almost 10 years.  Again, not enough time in a wonderful place.  Riga was much as we expect, but Liepaja was a very pleasant surprise.  Extremely inexpensive, one of the few Euro countries those prices did not rise overnight upon the birth of the Euro. The markets, both indoor and outdoor, were fascinating and full of stalls with berries.

More berries than you ever thought possible.  In Riga, there were over a hundred stalls just selling baskets and buckets of berries of every kind.  Tasty and cheap, after easting the berries of Latvia, you could never eat those cardboard tasting blue berries that are ubiquitous here.

The Same Bakery in Liepaja.  this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.
Bakery in Liepaja. this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.

Estonia was the last stop on the Baltic Republic hit parade.

More expensive then Latvia, but lacking some of the warmth we got from the people of Latvia, let alone the genuine warmth and friendship se experienced in Poland.

While the pastry choices were limited, the coffee was very good and they had a loaf of bread with butter and knife to cut bread, which was free for one and all. Right up my alley.

Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks
Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks

Coming up:  Rocking and Rolling and Rocking in Scandinavia, I am Curious, Yellow and of course, Danishes in Denmark.

Dauntless in Leipaja
Dauntless in Leipaja
Another stop in Holland. Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!
Another stop in Holland.
Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!

Former Mined Area 151

Has a catchy ring to it, doesn’t it?  If there are no more mines left, I wonder why they annotate it on the chart.  Maybe just in case?

In any case we decide to go right through; what’s the worst that could happen?

It seems the Russians mined large swaths of the Baltic and what wasn’t mined was closely watched; well, as closely watched as can be with conscripted soldiers living on vodka and potatoes.

But all good things must come to an end and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the Baltic Republics were allowed to have their own destiny again and the rest of us can now enjoy that benefit.

Sadly, we did not go to Lithuania as it required a large detour around a current mine field.  Well, it isn’t listed on the charts as a mine field, but then I doubt the hundreds of mine fields presently annotated were so listed prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Oh yes, after the Russians moved Poland west by a few hundred kilometers, they took a chunk for themselves, Königsberg, threw all the Germans out, the lucky ones that is, and renamed it Kaliningrad, because the name Stalingrad was already taken.

So, during the last two weeks, we have been exploring country never before visited by me at least.  First Poland and now Latvia, Letland in Dutch, Land of the Lets.

Poland and now Latvia have been a wonderful experience, the people, the food, and the warmth showed to us by virtually everyone.  Dauntless probably had her picture taken a thousand times in Gdansk.  I wish she looked better, Dauntless I’m referring to, not Gdansk, but we’ve already travelled more than 2,000 miles since leaving Ireland, so who has the energy to wash and wax?

I did regret not speaking Polish.  Had we stayed another week, we would have probably gone viral.  People would ask how long we are staying docked against the wall in downtown Gdansk, because they wanted to bring the family for a photo session the next time.

Wonderful people who also make the most wondrous smoked meats and fishes.

Then Latvia.

Compared to Western Europe, the prices is Poland, not in the Euro zone and still using the Zloty, were good, maybe 30% cheaper than in Germany.

Latvia on the other hand is in the Euro zone and prices are still amazingly low.  So low in fact, that we felt compelled to find out why.

In talking with the marina “bosman,”  in Liepaja, he explained that Latvia prepared for the change to the Euro in a very methodical manner.  They used strict conversion tables, unlike in most places, like Italy, which saw a doubling of many prices within the first year of conversion, but no doubling of wages, pensions and salaries.

Dauntless in Liepaja docked in front of a warship
Dauntless in Liepaja docked in front of a warship

We ended up spending only two nights.  Having seen the outdoor and indoor market in the small city of Liepaja, the market in the capital, Riga, was literally 10 times the size.  We have never seen so many berries, blue, black, red, etc. in my life.  Clearly, people would buy large quantiles to preserve for the coming winter.

The harbor itself was a mix of old and new, with modern bridges, next to Soviet style cranes and trains. I’ll try to upload some pictures.

Today, our adventure in Estonia begins.  We had a windy passage yesterday and it looks like the wind will continue for the foreseeable future, maybe forever.

Dauntless is doing well, though I was a bit shocked last night as I gazed at all the scrapes, scratches and gouges I’ve put on her hull in the last two months.

Liepaja
Liepaja

I’ve also used far more fuel than anticipated, 50% more.  The actual fuel consumption has been good, the problem is the distances I had calculated.  It’s been 60 days since leaving Ireland.  What I had not anticipated was that so many harbors and docking places would take a significant amount of time, 30 minutes to an hour to get in and then the same going out.

Therefore, 25 to 30 stops times 2 extra hours for each, is 60 additional hours of fuel consumption, about 90 gallons, at 1.4 gal.hr, which is our average so far in 415 hours so far.

A shot from the pilot house during the 32 hour passage from Liepaja to Riga
A shot from the pilot house during the 32 hour passage from Liepaja to Riga

Coming up, Estonia, Estland in Dutch, land in the east.

Night Passage to Riga
Night Passage to Riga

 

 

 

And We Never Spoke of it Again

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The Tower in Ueckermünde

Just when you thought it safe to reenter the water…

Waking up in the now Polish town of Swinoujscie, I had two problems to solve; one more vexing than the other.

But first, let’s talk about Swinoujscie, gateway to the Baltic and until 1945, a German city, aka Swinemünde.  With the looks of an old German town, it boasts a certain charm, with a few modern touches.  One of those being an almost identical fountain in the main square to that of the Brooklyn Museum, that I had mentioned in a previous post, you know, the one that started out much like this one in  Swinoujscie, until the lawyers got involved.

So Swinoujscie, aka Swinemünde, became one of thousands of cities and towns in which whole populations were uprooted and “moved” at the war’s end.  Why because Stalin wanted half of Poland and therefore Poland moved west, but never fear, the western powers and the press don’t talk about it, better to tut tut about displaced people in third world countries, than issues they created themselves.

So on that note, let’s get back to our story.

As you recall from our previous episode, Dauntless limped into Swinoujscie, with her tail between her legs, well maybe not a tail, but a thin line that had wrapped around my bow thruster.

But I was determined to at least fix the autopilot.

If you have read our Atlantic Passage, you may remember that the autopilot was one of the most critical pieces on the boat and I had absolutely no spare anything’s for it.

Having Eve and Nigel onboard, did mitigate the loss, but even with three people, hand steering a power boat for long stretches of time is both boring and fatiguing.

Assuming there is no such thing as coincidences when it comes to mechanical problems, in other words, you change, add, replace any part of a particular system, and then that system craps out on you, there is about a 99.9% chance you whatever you did caused the problem.

So, I got out our hydraulic fluid and the handy fitting for the upper helm station and proceeded to run the system and turning the wheel to get the air out.

But little air came out.

At this point, I figured I better get serious, I got the ComNav book.

In the book I discovered a self-diagnostic the ComNav can run.  I ran it and got the ominous response “hard right rudder too slow”.

I could not find the bleed screws that were supposed to be on the hydraulic ram.  But I did not want to screw with the ram in any case, since it worked fine; it was the autopilot part that was not working.

I ran the self-test again.  Same result.

I went down into the engine room to look once again at the ComNav pump.  Maybe I could bleed it there. No, no fittings I could see for easy bleeding.

I took a picture of the pump, maybe the writing will give me a clue or I can better see bleeding screw fittings.  Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Run the self-test again.  No change, but I realize that while I can turn the wheel and the rudder responds as it should, in fact better than before with no groaning while turning it quickly, meaning I had gotten what little air there was out of the system, when I used the auto pilot control head to turn the rudder, it barely moved the rudder to the left (port).

Clearly the auto pilot was the issue, not the hydraulic steering itself.

I looked at the autopilot’s control panel.  A lot of green lights. So at least electronically, the autopilot thinks all is OK.

Back to the engine room to look at that pump again.  I crawl over to it.  I read both sets of labels on the pump.  One reads, “to remove the pump without losing fluid, close the thumb valves”

What thumb valves?  Those brass “T” handles that I occasionally play with, wondering what they do?  The ones that I had decided should be tighter, but not too tight the other day, while I was changing the main engine oil and in a moment of “let’s turn this and see what happens” madness??

I noticed the one on the left side was tight, the other two, one on top and one on the right, were close to being closed, but not tight.

Umm, could these be the valves that are to close when removing the pump?  And if so, should not they be OPEN now?

I have Eve use the autopilot control head to move the rudder, it now moves, not quickly, but better than before.  I open all three and she tries again.  Much better, almost like it’s supposed to.

We run the self-test again.  This time, rudder movement is normal.

I had changed the oil on the main engine a few days earlier.  So I was working at the back of the engine and it my spare time I was fiddling with those three T valves.  Sort of aimlessly fiddling.

So it seems my fiddling closed at least one valve and we had a few days of indifferent autopilot response, culminating in it not working at all.

The Innocent Victim
The Innocent Victim

Now all is fine. No air, valves open and the autopilot has worked better than ever.

When people ask me about crossing the Atlantic and why I like Kadey Krogen yachts, I say that quite simply I have never had a problem with the boat that was not caused my operator error.

We just passed 4000 engine hours.  That’s 2300 hours we have put on the boat in the last 28 months.

I’ve put 300+ hours since leaving Waterford two months again.

I have also been breaking down the cost of this trip during the last few days.  That will be the subject of a later post.

We love Dauntless because she never lets us down.  Now if only I could find a way to control that nut behind the wheel.

And we shall never talk of it again.

Coming up,

Leba, Gdansk and leaving Poland for the lands to the east

 

 

A Gaggle of Greece and Two Ugly Ducklings

It’s been an eventful few days.  Now into Day 5 of our 8 day Cruising Association’s 2015 Baltic Rally, having all those sail boats around keeps you on your toes.  The winds had been howling since Wednesday.  Therefore it was decided to remain in Kröslin until Saturday morning.

Dauntless in Ueckermünde with the fish boat restaurant to the left.
Dauntless in Ueckermünde with the fish boat restaurant to the left, not leaving me a lot of room for the U turn

But I needed to be in Ueckermünde, the next stop and our last in Germany, Saturday morning, as Ivan my dutiful crew member was returning to Italy that day and Eve and Nigel were scheduled to come that afternoon.

Therefore I decided to leave Friday morning in spite of the winds.

And they were howling, 25 knots, gusting to 38.  But at least, my position at the end of the “T” combined with the winds pushing me off the dock, made for a relatively easy launch.

Between Kröslin and Ueckermünde, there are two bridges with set opening times, a few times a day.

We got to the first bridge early, we had 45 minutes to wait.  After a few anxious moments, we got a line onto a large steel piling and made a bridle from the bow cleats.  Worked well and Dauntless kept her bow to the wind at about a 30° angle.  Easy Peasy.

We got to the next bridge, in spite of traveling as slow as I could, we still had an hour to wait.  There was a shallow anchoring area for boats waiting for the bridge.  Only 7 feet of water, (D takes 4.7 ft), but it was on the windward side, so that meant if the anchor did drag, we would at least be push to deeper water closer to the channel.  And the day’s winds meant there was virtually no one on the water except for us and two sailboats, one German and one Danish.

Dauntless flying the Kadey Krogen flag in Ueckermünde, Germany
Dauntless flying the Kadey Krogen flag in Ueckermünde, Germany

Anchor out; I also have an anchor buoy, which is attached to the anchor with a very thin, but strong Amsteel line.  Too strong.

An hour later, we weigh the anchor and get underway down the very narrow channels (much like the ICW in Georgia) towards Ueckermünde.

Arriving in the quaint town, my directions told me to proceed until the bridge, at which point one cannot go further and tie up along the wall close to the bridge.  Sounds easy; I was calmer than usual knowing Graham and Fay of the Cruising Association would be on the dock to help tie up.

As I come into the narrow part of the channel, towards the anticipated docking spot, I turn on the power to the bow thruster.  I try to minimize bow thruster use, but I will use it and would hate not to use it and hit another boat as a consequence of me being stubborn.

The 25 knot wind is now right on my stern. I know D turns well to the left and backs to the right, so I can usually do a 180° turn to the left within a 50’ circle.  With not winds that is.

I pull to the right as much as I can. But leaving room for the stern to kick out to the right and still miss the restaurant boat.

All went well, until about half way through, so now I was perpendicular to the canal,  the fish restaurant boat was just a couple feet from the swim platform, the dock wall just feet in front of us and the bridge, that effectively made this a dead end for us, about 50 feet away with the wind blowing us towards it.

Then the light on the bow thruster went off, which told me, it had blown the fuse.

I was actually unfazed about it, I try to minimize my bow thruster use in any case, just for reasons like this, and though the wind was now pushing me closer and closer to the bridge, it was still a boat length away.

Backing and filling like I have practiced many times, the Kadey Krogen with its large rudder swung her stern around quite smartly and we were parallel to the dock 30 seconds later.

Ivan on his last full day on Dauntless got us tied up and I thank the lucky stars for another good end to a stressful day with 25 to 38 knot winds, a narrow dock space and having to wait two hours for two bridges in winds in strong, gusty winds.

Now as for the 300 amp slow blow fuse, this had happened once before a few months after we got Dauntless. Then I did not have a spare fuse and since it powered the Inverter also, I had to resort to extreme measures. Don’t do this at home.

This time I had a spare, so I promptly found it and replaced the blown fuse.  I simply assumed it had blown because I had used the bow thruster for too long or continuously.

I had also changed the engine oil while in Kröslin. With Ivan’s help it went easily, too easily.

Ivan left on the train early Saturday morning, it was sad to see him go.  A great kid, and a real big help.

Eve and Nigel were there to replace him and I looked forward to leaving Germany on Sunday and entering Poland for the first time in my life and Dauntless’ too for that matter!

With a bit of a hangover from the night’s before bbq.  A comment about German bbq’s.  They are just that, meat on the grill.  By speaking to the cook in German, I even got extra meat.  Maybe too much meat.  Since there was virtually no salad or other fillers, I ate a lot of meat and washed it down with a lot of white wine.

Meat, wine and great company, one cannot ask for a better life.

So, the next morning Sunday, a bit hungover, but all seemed right with the world.

The fuse was replaced, the oil had been changed, and D was really for new places.  But one nagging problem.  Leaving Kröslin, having to stay in a number of narrow channels for hours on end, the ComNav autopilot did not seem up to its usual precision.  It was over correcting too much and also more noise than usual, usually an indication of air in the hydraulic lines.

So, we had a late morning departure planned for Ueckermünde and the two power boats would bring up the rear of our little gaggle of sail boats and the two ugly ducklings following behind.

The plan was to travel at about 5 knots which was the fastest speed for the slowest sailboat.

I knew it was going to be a slow day, very slow, in any case.  While Dauntless is not fast, nor even quick, she does like to travel around 6 to 7 knots.  Any slower and she starts to get ornery, below 5 knots, she gets downright rambunctious.

So I figured once I started the engine, I would be in no hurry to leave and would check the hydraulic fluid of the wheel and autopilot.  So we did, but discovered no great amount of air in the steering system, in fact virtually none.  That made me worry, if there was not air in the system, then why was the AP acting strangely.  The day before, even though I had it set on the highest sensitivity to keep us in the very narrow channel, it was not responding fully like normal.  As the heading drifted off, it was not correcting quickly.  On numerous occasions we had to quickly shut it off and hand steer to get back into the 5 mile long, straight as an arrow channel.  But then we would try it again and it would sort of work.  And then do the same thing.

So when we get underway from Ueckermünde, while I hoped I had fixed it, I also knew I had not done anything significant and this was more like a wish and a prayer.

Well we catch up to the fleet and now, the one power boat, Tudora, a beautiful maintained older cabin cruiser, came by to tell me I had a line in the water.

Now, I had remembered that a day earlier I had seen the small, thin line that is connected to the anchor buoy had fallen in the water.  I had forgotten to get it out and now, I was a bit embarrassed that another boat had to remind me.

As I pulled on the line, it was stuck; on what I didn’t know, but clearly it would not come up.

I pulled harder.  No change and it did not budge an inch.

I had a brainstorm. I fastened the anchor buoy to it and let it go.  I figured if it was stuck on the prop, it would trail behind the boat.  Now, I was sure I had purposely not had enough line for it to reach the prop, but then …

After a few seconds the buoy bobbed the surface; at amidships.

In a flash, it all came together.

The line had been in the water when I made my U turn.  I had used the bow thruster for a longer period of time, maybe 20 seconds versus just a few seconds normally.

The line had been sucked into the bow thruster, wrapped itself around the shaft, stopping the shaft from rotating and lo and behold, the fuse blew.

Sure enough, as I pulled on the line, it was clear it was emanating from the front of the boat.

Knowing that, I was not overly concerned, I don’t use it very often and now, my practice backing and filling would reward me, so in spite of my fellow travelers concerns, we’d be fine without it, until haul out at least.

What had made the day so difficult was that the autopilot was acting like never before.  In the past I had had problems, significant ones at that, with the compass connected to the autopilot.

I knew how to deal with that.  This wasn’t that.  That was the problem.

The last few hours, the autopilot went from bad to worse.  It was not even following its own commands.  This to me was a more serious problem. The end result was that Eve and Nigel had had to hand steer virtually all day.  The times we did try to AP, it would work for a bit, but then as the compass heading changed, first a few degrees, then 10, then 20°, nothing would happen.  I would lunge for it and turn it off so we could get the boat back on track and in the channel and the gaggle we were supposed to be following.

Pulling into the dock at Swinoujscie, it was good to be tied up, but it had been a long day that ended with two major problems, the worst being an autopilot that all of a sudden wasn’t.

I went to bed that night with two issues, not the best ingredients for a good night’s sleep.

 

 

 

Dauntless Cruise Plan – Baltic 2015

Well folks, as we get closer and closer to summer, the moss in growing under my feet, so it’s getting time to move on.  As initially planned a few years ago, this summer will be spent in the Baltic.  The attached picture shows the tentative route from our departure from Waterford in late May to our return in early October.

Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan
Summer 2015 Baltic Cruise Plan

As planned, this voyage will be about 4100 nm with 72 legs spread over 130 days.  A bit ambitious, but that’s us.   While some of the major stops:  Holland, last two weeks in June; East Germany, 4 July; Gdansk, 18 July;  Riga, 24 July; Tallinn, 30 July & 15 Aug; Helsinki, 6 Aug; are hard wired in, pretty much everything in between is open and will be determined based on weather, seas and moods.

Our usual mode of travel is about 6.5 knots, consuming 1.5 gal/hr. or 4.2nm/gal (2 liters/km) so the total cruise will need about 1000 gallons, 4000 liters, of fuel.  So will need to pick up about 300 gallons along the way, to get back to the UK, Ireland with near empty tanks.

Normally we like cruising one day, then stopping at the same place for two nights.  By cruising every other day, it keeps the batteries up and in hot water for about half that time.  I am in the process of putting the water heater and washer on the Inverter circuit.  Thus we’ll have hot water on the non-motoring days.

For charts, I am using the Jepp C-Map charts running on Coastal Explorer, plus Navionics on my tablet and smart phone.  I looking for some large scale paper charts to facilitate the long range planning.

Though we will have cell phone coverage most places, I will have our Delorme InReach running and on Dauntless 24/7 to keep a running track of our trip.  I will also attempt to take better pictures, videos and document the trip better.

I really appreciate the postings of Dockhead and Carstenb on Cruisers Forum.  Their information and enthusiasm about the Baltic have been contagious.

As always, I’m open to suggestions, but keep in mind that some places are locked and loaded and that no trip is ever perfect.

If anyone knows the price of fuel at the Brusnichnoye Lock on the Saimaa Canal, I’d love that information, but I won’t need to know it until the very end of July.  That far eastern jaunt will probably be eliminated in any case, unless fuel is 33 cents a liter, as I do need to cut down some miles.