2020 Update on Paravanes and a Few Other Things

First, I’m still alive, though it was a close call. No, it wasn’t Covid-19, but something far worse, boredom.

I hate being bored and perversely, the less I do, the less I want to do. Thus, my creative energy that it takes to write these blogs or make YouTube videos seems to have gone into hibernation for the winter. Is it back now? Only time will tell, but since I’ve gotten a few emails asking if I was still alive, I thought I better get off my ass and write.

Second, also got an email complaining about the most recent appearance change on the blog I did a few months ago. They said it was harder to read because of the dark background. Honesty, I had noticed the same thing myself, but was hoping that I was the only one who noticed! See just lazy. Like hearing that strange noise in the middle of a passage and just hoping it goes away on its own (fat chance).

Tell me what you think of this new theme (background) and if anyone has any suggestions &/or improvements, I would be glad to hear them, though the easier they are for me to implement, the more likely it will happen.

Third, living on the Dauntless in the winter in Alaska is very different than crossing oceans or cruising to new and strange lands. More on this later, as it will be the topic in an upcoming blog.

Lastly, below is a blog I wrote mostly about the paravanes in 2016. I did write a summary of what I have done and the final paravane system setup. I will post that in the separate post.

My shopping cart with the new birds

While In Astoria, Oregon, last summer, I was finally able to get two new paravane birds.  Over 25,000 miles and 5 years, I had left the USA with 4 paravane birds, two 26″ and two slightly smaller at 24″ (as measured at the base of the triangle of the bird).  Going to 24″ was a mistake. I was so happy with the performance of the 26″ birds, I thought I would try the 24″ to see if they was as effective, but with reduced drag. Yes, just like a perpetual motion machine!

If I have learned anything over the last 6 years, it is that you can not escape the physical laws of the universe. Work (as in the physics definition of work as the product of Force and distance) perfectly explains the effectiveness of the paravane birds and the drag they produce.

Therefore, If I deploy just the windward bird (being the most effective), if it reduces the roll 80% of what both birds would do, then the drag will also be 80% of the total speed reduction had I deployed both birds. In the same way, the 24″ birds did not induce as much drag, but they also did not reduce the roll as much.

So, last summer, I decided to buy the 28″ birds, while in Astoria, at that glorious store, Englung Marine. With stores in the Pac NW, along the coast from Westport WA to Eureka, CA, it’s a must stop for any boater who wants the best bang for their buck.

I didn’t have a call to use them after the first day out of Astoria, but I did use them just the other day when we were returning to Wrangell from a a few days of cruising and fishing. The wind had picked up to mid to high teens from the south, producing a nasty very short period sea of 2 to 3 feet. With such a sea on the beam, this Kadey Krogen will get into quite a quick, deep roll of about 10 degrees to the lee and 5 or 6 to the windward.

Not terrible for what D and I have been through but a different story for the Vietnamese landlubbers. Also, the boat is set up for living aboard in port, not crossing the Atlantic, therefore, I deployed one bird immediately and was impressed how much the one 28″ bird suppressed the rolling.

 

An earlier post:

Less is Not Always Safer, More is Not Always Better

2019: This was written in June 2016, but never published. The recent Trawler Forum post about paravanes made me look for what I had written already and discovered I had never published this. So , here it is.

June 11, 2016 – The Pacific Rim or Less is Not Always Safer

While the Pacific Rim is my destination, I am actually referring to the movie, Pacific Rim Movie. Not the best of movies, I still find it hard to get my mind around why a giant robot would be effective against a giant monster.  Let’s not even address the premise that this giant robot has to be controlled by two people.

Two people, they must not have done 3 legged races in camp as kids.

But I am sitting here in Largs, Scotland listening to the soundtrack, which is dramatic.

It’s good Dauntless music.

But besides the soundtrack, I do love Idris Elba.  And if you have not watched Luther, make sure you watch it from season 1, episode 1.

But then he really made his  name in The Wire as Stringer Bell. A depressing, but extremely insightful series.

 

I’m waiting for my next crewmates to arrive, Dan & Robin.

Brian left yesterday and of course he took the good weather with him.  From his second day, we had nothing but fair winds, sunny skies and beautiful cruising.

That also allowed us to get Dauntless more organized and in ship shape having sat in the wind and rain for 8 months.  There are still a few projects to complete.  My new goal for the Wallas DT40 heater is to have it completely installed before I reach Alaska.  Stay tuned. (Ha, still not installed, but I’m not in Alaska yet!)

I also had the opportunity to redo my geometry to determine the deepest I can run the paravanes birds without the possibility of hitting the prop or rudder.

Just to show that the laws of math and science have not changed all that much in the two years, the magic number is 17 feet, which is the same number I came up with two years ago.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know of my tendency to rant and rave about politicians who make decisions not based on any facts or science, but simply because it looks, sounds, tastes good.

Well, I am guilty of doing the exact same thing in this case.  Which further makes my case that the right number is the right number, more or less does not make it any better, just different.

So in my case, I came up with 17 feet.  This was also confirmed because my friend Larry on Hobo, another KK42, runs his at 18 feet because his poles are about 2 feet longer than mine.

So two years ago (2014), having the magic number of 17, I decide to make it 15 just to be on the “safe” side.  Sounds like a no-brainer right?  Then as I am actually rigging them, I decide to take another couple feet off, to make my no-brainer even better.

What could go wrong?  Am I not being 50% safer?  That’s what a politician would try to tell you.

No, I was being an idiot. Made even stupider because I of all people have taught wave mechanics and what happens to the actual water molecules in a wave.

In last fall’s crossing of the North Sea, it all became clear.   While crossing the North Sea from Norway to Scotland in September 2015, on the first day, (of the 4 day trip), the winds were from the NW at 20 knots, gusting to 37, producing seas 12 to 18 feet.

Crossing the North Sea

But the paravanes were not as effective as they should have been. I realized I was running the birds too shallow.  The paravane bird was getting caught in the rotor of the wave.

Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion, producing a rotor. While the wave progresses, the particles of water in the wave itself, move up and down.  If you watch a leaf floating on the water, even though the waves move, absent current, the leaf stays in place.ocean wave

Therefore, instead of pulling the boat down and thus reducing the rolling motion, all of a sudden the bird is actually being pushed up.  Sometimes this would cause the bird to fly out of the water.  Once I stopped and put another 5 feet on line on the bird, all was good and I got to Scotland.

So less is not always better.

And now, I will show you why more is not always better either.  Having Brian on our 2016 maiden voyage turned out to be, was a godsend.

I had a thinking partner who helped me articulate my thoughts and ideas.

The only moment where two people was a detriment and not a plus was in getting back to Dauntless on the dingy.  I got out, Brian got out, the dingy drifted away.

We started the engine, detached ourselves form the mooring and the dingy was reacquired 10 minutes later.

Had either of us been alone, we would have known the dingy was not secured.

Dauntless on a mooring in Scotland

 

Our Alaska Wedding

Trinh & Richard’s Alaska Wedding tells the story of our meeting in Vietnam and Trinh’s (aka Tee) and Thien’s arrival in the USA and Alaska

With some still shots of us in Vietnam, the videos are of on Dauntless cruising between Ketchikan and Tenakee Warm Springs, Alaska, where we got married on 17 August 2019.

A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar

Our chart leaving the Columbia River Bar

The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.

And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.

So, more on those problems later.

+++

Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.

Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.

Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.

As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless,  4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.

The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?

I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.

I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.

As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.

The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.

Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.

It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.

One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.

In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.

That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.

But then you all know that.

 

The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:

Dauntless at Sea Vlog 12

 

Lost Anchor, Lost Shrimp Pots, Lost Daylight

The week started ominously over some spilled rice. I had dropped about half a cup of rice on the galley floor. I told Tee I would take care of it and then I froze.

Sitting at the Dock in Wrangell.
White anchor on left is secondary. Primary anchor is on right.

Had I been alone, the dustpan would have come out and that little pile of rice would have been over the side before anyone knew what happened. But Tee was staring at me, which I knew not to be good.

The Vietnamese say rice grains are “diamonds from God”. I knew if I even reached for the dustpan, we would be talking disasters on the biblical scale. No. I stayed frozen.

Seeing my inaction, Tee took her two hands and scooped the rice right up, while grumbling in Vietnamese.  Just then Thien got back from school and Tee told him the story of how her bright husband, who seems to know so much about everything, can’t seem to do the simplest things.

Cruising South in the Eastern Passage. Wrangell Island is to our right (west). Notice on the Maretron display the winds are already 15 knots.

They laughed all evening at that and later added that reading too much causes stupidity. Now I did see some truth in that, as throughout my life, I have sometimes struggled with the simplest things, always thinking it’s more complicated than it actually is.

That was Friday evening.  We would go shrimping for the first time the next day.

Saturday started out unwell. It was a real litany of what not to do.

Sunrise is around 08:15, sunset 15:15, remember that for later.

We had just gone thru the coldest days Dauntless has ever seen, with temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. On this Saturday, our dock water hose was frozen. In what turned out to be the only thing I did right in this entire process, I had filled both of the water tanks on Dauntless in case we lose dock water. Now, the Harbor Maser here has his act together, as I noticed they had the end of the water line open during freezing temperatures, thus keeping the water flowing.

Our track having left the 2nd shrimp pot, the crab pot and now anchored

So, while water was not a problem, it still took some time to disconnect the frozen hose and put it away. Then, we spent 20 minutes trying to get the frozen lines off the boat. By then everyone was cold and miserable; at least I was. But Tee and Thien get excited about fishing, so our 2-and-a-half-hour cruise to Mahan Bay, on the east side of Wrangell Island, went pretty quickly.

Another boating friend here in Wrangell lent us a shrimp pot. We also bought one while on sale here in town, so we had two shrimp pots and one crab pot.

The plan was to put one shrimp pot in about 320’ of water at the mouth of the bay, the second further up the bay in about 150’ of water; lastly in the crab pot in about 40’ hear the shore. We would then anchor in deeper water, about 200’ and fish for a couple of hours.

Thien on the way to school Friday morning, walking on a frost covered dock

All went to plan, but a few yellow flags were already being waived and ignored by yours truly.

First, wanting to not have a departure in the dark, I did not start the engine until 08:45. Then it took 30 minutes just to disconnect the water hose and get the frozen lines undone. So, we were not underway until 09:15.

Running against the current, we did not get to Mahan Bay until 11:35, where we set the first shrimp pot in 320’. This pot only had 400’ of line and in a miscommunication between me and Tee, I wanted to confirm the pot was on the bottom before we released the buoy. Oh well, “the best laid plans of mice and men…

We motored 30 minutes up the bay and set our second shrimp pot. This one we did confirm that the pot was on the bottom and we had about 50 feet of line remaining to the buoy. We then dropped the crab pot just offshore in about 30’ of water and motored back to deeper water to do some fishing.

Tee only a couple weeks earlier having snagged a number of crab.

In one of my brighter moments, since we were anchoring in 160’ of water, I decided to put our secondary anchor down. It has 50’ of chain and 350’ of rode. My reasoning was why put the windlass thru trying to lift 150 of chain and anchor.

It’s now 12:35. We wanted to let the pots sit and fish for two hours.  Which we did, Tee caught two sole or flounder. (we eat everything we catch, even those ugly bullhead (sculpin) fish.

I didn’t even start the engine to retrieve the anchor and get underway until 14:50. Clearly a mistake. The wind had been blowing all day, blowing up the entrance to the bay at 15 to 18 knots. With no real fetch, no real waves, but enough to make little whitecaps. No problem for Dauntless but trying to find a little white pot buoy in a gray sky is another story.

But we were not even there yet. As we wound the anchor rode in, the winch started going slower and slower. Ut Oh. It had done the same thing a couple of months ago. The fix was so simple, I forgot what it was!!

In addition, the wildcat was hitting the chain stripper.  That certainly didn’t help. But after pulling in less than 50 feet of line, it totally stopped. I pushed the reset button on the windlass solenoid, to no effect.

I knew we couldn’t pull this much line and anchor in by hand. In August when this happened in 30 feet of water, it was hard enough.

Tee fishing no matter the wind and rain.

Now, because I read a lot, I had anticipated this for years. Both anchor rodes are connected to short lines in the chain locker so that if all the chain or rode is out, the short line can be untied or cut if need be. That’s what we did. I then tied a large fender to the line and wrote Dauntless on it. I told Tee we would come back next week to get it.

By now, the sun has set, and we could find neither shim pot buoy.

We cruised home in total darkness, getting a few scares as we passed the airport, in that lights look so much closer at night.

I knew we would have no problem finding the anchor, assuming I fixed the winch. But it had also occurred to me that the reason we saw no sign of either shrimp pot was because the current had moved them and therefore, in a strong current, it’s possible the buoy was being pulled underwater! In which case they may never be seen again.

I also felt bad that not only had we left our new shrimp pot; we had left the one we borrowed. I hated to tell Bob that I’d returned without his pot!

Coastal Explorer showing us back home finally after 19:00, 4 hours after sunset.

Losing $500 of gear the first time out was not my idea of a good time.

Maybe I do read too much.

 

Leave the Dance With the One You Brung

I wrote a story for the winter Kadey Krogen magazine, Waypoints.

People occasionally ask me why KK or weren’t you afraid? etc., so I ended up writing a story that was tryly heartfelt.

More than heartfelt, it distilled feelings that have only gotten stronger after 6 years and 25,000 miles.

In a few years, when we’re ready to leave Southeast Alaska to cross the North Pacific, I’ll fill the tanks and cast off the lines, with the knowledge that the boat is ready.

The question has come up again on Trawler Forum, so i thought I would post this and include the Waypoints story, which begins on page 6.

My story is “Leave the Dance, with the One You Brung”

 

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

Weather Planning Update

To refresh your memory, here is the screenshot I made on May 20th and posted in my Weather Planning post yesterday. It was pretty optimistic and in fact, if it would come to pass, it would be very good weather to get underway.

26th 0800 CM w narrow High

Here is the map for the same period, valid 0800 on 26 May, made today, the 23rd.

You can still see that little blue area of light winds, but now it’s over northern California about 50 miles inland.

Dauntless can’t go that I-5 route.

I want to point out that the other factor I take into consideration, in continuity. In weather forecasts, a critical component of any forecast, whether produced my machine (numerical forecast models) or a weather forecaster.

During my forecasting days, when I was actually getting paid to make weather forecasts of some type or another, there were times, I’d look at the current weather and forecasts that were put out by the person I relieved and not believe a word.

But the first thing a good forecaster takes to heart is continuity. My initial read may end up being correct, but it’s not helpful to the customer if the forecast changes significantly every shift change. This was particularly important during my days with the Alaska Fire Service. We were making 24 hour and 5 and 10-day forecasts.

They used the 10-day forecast to reposition aircraft and equipment and at a certain point in the summer, to send that equipment to the Lower 48 to support wildfire suppression in the west, once it looked like Alaska was done for the season.

The forecast for the 26th, from the 23 May forecast

It was critical that we (the two of us forecasters) stayed to the same tune and as forecasts changed, changed them in a gradual way to make sure the change was real and not an anomaly that existed in the numbers of the computer and nowhere else.

So, again, when I see a favorable pattern like I saw on the 20th for the 26th, I won’t spend much time on it, yet, because I want to see that it stays put over the next coming forecast runs. In this case you can see it pretty much disappears.

The last year of moving up the west coast of North America has been difficult enough. I’m not leaving Vallejo until I see that the big Pacific High moves off or a large low manages to displace it.

So, even though I will make a plan based on the forecast, to prepare myself and the boat to be ready to go, I’m actually not leaving until the winds actually change.

When I see the reality of the change, then I’ll look closely at the forecast to decide how long it will last. But until then, I’m just a bystander.

I don’t leave port based on a forecast. Or put another way, when I do leave port, I assume the conditions I have will be as good as it gets.

 

Weather Planning

I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain my weather planning or better said, planning on the weather.

The fist picture on the left shows my main area of interest at the white dot, just south of Cape Mendocino. This is where the winds are the strongest. It’s a two day (46 hr) cruise to Crescent City, just north of that spot.

The sequnece from the 25th to the 28th seems to show improving condidions along the sure, with the strong Northerly winds moving off shore.

It could well happen. But what I focus on is the large overall pattern.

So while it is showing a small area of light winds along the coast, that if it came to pass as depicted, it would be ok, even good to leave San Francisco and head north, the problem is the area of favorable winds is very small.

I’ve always said that forecasts are more often correct, but id they are wrong, it’s usually an issue of location or time, but not the event.  For example, a cold front with showers and thunderstorms is forecast to move thru your area in 12 houris time. In reality, it could be 10 hours, or 8 hours, even 6.but it’s happened.

Where it happened is another story, That’s what I mean my location. Forecasting snow anywhere along the east coast is always problematic. A lot of things ahve to fall in place for the forecast to be spot on at a given location or time. The snow-rain line could end up being 10 miles west of New York City. After the news media has panicked everyone for days, it looks\ like a big bust, but in reality, looking at the large scale picture, 90% of the areas that were forecast to get snow got it, same for rain, it was only that little band that was incorrect.

And that’s what I’m thinking of as I look at these three days of forecasts. The overall pattern really doesn’t change much. This little narrow area of light winds could easily end up being 20 miles to the east leaving me frighting winds and waves.

Most importantly, all the pictures I have posted here are the only things I have looked at to make this decision. This gives me an overview. Until the overview looks more than doable, there is not point in in spending time looking elsewhere, at other products or other models.

Om addition, if you find yourself trying to find the right model to five you the forecast you want, you are only cruising for a bruising.

Two days ago, here are the Windycom woeather maps I looked at to tmake my decision if 23 could leave on the 25th:

24th 1500 Overview
25th 1300 OV
25th Cape Mendocino
26th 0800 CM w narrow High. It looks good, but it’s a sucker hole.
26th 1300 overview
27th 1400 OV
27th 0800 CM
28th 0900 Cape Mendocino
28th 1200 OV
29th 1200 OV

It’s 7 days to Washington’s Neah Bay. The first few are the most critical, since off the Oregon coast, the winds are more from the southwest in general. So, the California portion is the most difficult.

I’ll wait until the entire high pressure system moves east. I’d rather have 30 knots from the SW than 10 knots from the north.

 

 

On a Roll

Yesterday, I completed two things on the nice to do list: replacement of the Raritan water heater anode and replacement of a terminal block for my 120-volt neutral circuits in the engine room distribution panel.

The new anode is on the right

After two months, I’ve finally hit my stride and actually feel confident in what I am doing. That manifested itself in those two completions yesterday. Instead of taking a couple of days, they took a couple of hours and I didn’t have to redo anything.

This got me to thinking about a job interview I had just the other day.  I found myself talking about the importance of not overwhelming students, especially students who may be far being in whatever work that needs to be done.

I mentioned in the interview that even when a student was far behind, let’s say they need to complete 20 projects or work assignments by years’ end. It’s already February and they have nothing done, with only a few months to go. It’s easy for a teacher to just be upfront about it, if you don’t get these done; you’ll fail.

I’ve seen teachers do that countless times. But it won’t accomplish the stated goal of getting that student to be successful, (though it does make the class smaller). If a student sees a mountain of work to do, they never get started, discouraged, not seeing how they can get it all done, they give up before they even start.

That’s me, now and then.

My driving lights are lighting up that sailboat

So, two months ago, when I made my list of the top half dozen things to get done before departure, I knew the last was far bigger, but I couldn’t overwhelm myself. I didn’t want to paralyze myself with indecision. Now, I know many of the readers here are successful boaters because they just see what needs to be done and get to doing it.

In the same way half of all students are impervious to the adults in their lives who get in their way, be it parents, teachers, or anyone else. They’re going to learn and be successful no matter what.  It’s not by chance that the historic graduation rate in the last 50 years continues to be about 50 to 60%.

I’m not in the group. I needed a teacher to be able to at least steer me in the right direction or a teacher who could tell I was bored to death and challenge me in ways the curriculum didn’t. The same way a good teacher will give make-up work to a student in a piecemeal fashion. Do this for me tonight and I’ll give you something else tomorrow. At the same time scaffolding the rigor of the work. So, in a short time, they are whipping out stuff they never thought they could do just weeks ago.

Two months ago, starting with a list of 6 items, I knew I’d do more. I’ve done three times that amount so far. While moving the instruments on the mast, I knew to check the paravane fittings. The clevis pins needed to be checked and I wanted new cotter pins. I also noticed too much wear on the main fitting to the mast, so I needed to add some washers and new pins.

As I did more and more, sometimes taking a week to complete one checklist item, but I also did another half dozen items, that were not on the checklist.  I became more confident.

Confidence is the other side of the equation. When I finally completed the LED project, which involved 4 wires, with four conductors each (a positive, and 3 separate grounds that control the three colors, blue, red and green), I was very pleased to see it all worked as anticipated. I had three switches to turn each respective set on or off, plus three additional switches to control the colors, since I figured I didn’t need any complicated controller.

That it all worked, gave me the confidence to tackle the 120v terminal bar, that seemed straight forward, but you never know. When that went well, without me having to redo stuff, I tackled the water heater anode and that went even quicker.

The order I tackled these projects mattered. I have read education studies that when formulating a test, the order of the questions can make a significant difference.  The same questions in a different order can make a significant difference in student performance. Teachers have known this forever. If you put the hardest questions first, it discourages students. Why a teacher would do that is a story I will save for the book I’m thinking about writing. But it also goes to our overall 60% graduation rate.

When I took the test for my NMC Master’s license, the lights and signals test was the hardest for me. It was hard enough to remember red over green. Was that fishing or trawling or neither? But the day shapes were even harder for me, since I was not using them myself.

For a week I took practice tests. The passing requirement for that portion of the test was the highest at 93+%; meaning out of 33 questions, you could only get 2 wrong.

During my practice tests, I got anywhere from 65 to 80% correct. Well off the mark.

Test day came up and we took the other three portions of the test first that were easy for me. Then the dreaded lights and signals. The first 5 or 6 questions were “easy” in that I was sure of the answers. By the end of those 33 questions, I was positive that I missed only one!

Well, I missed two, but that was still enough to pass. I was elated, but I also recognized that the question order made a significant difference for me that day. Because I felt confident in those first half dozen questions, I didn’t stress and overthink the rest.

In the same vein, when I started working on the boat projects, I knew the order made a difference.

Since I whizzed through those two things yesterday, I decided today to tackle the Purisan project. Two months ago, I’d not even mentioned it because …

But now, it’s almost done, but that’s for tomorrow’s story.

 

 

What’s Done So Far

I think it was time for anew anode for the Rartitan Water Heater

Slowly, but surely progress is being made.

I have completed the following:

  1. Installation of outside LED rows and inside wiring, Amazon LED Link

    The drving Lights on new brace with new brackets
  2. Added another power line for the pilot house electrical panel and also added an additional ground,
  3. Replaced the terminal block for the 120v system neutrals in the engine room distribution panel,
  4. Replaced the anode for the Raritan water heater that I didn’t know existed until a few weeks ago,
  5. Replaced the brackets for the three driving lights and replaced the two fog lights with stainless steel brackets I had made in Vietnam,

    The fog lights are pointed down: to see the chain coming up and to make the boat more visible by lighting the hull, if I’m anchored in a busy area.
  6. Tightened the thru bolts for the paravane pole brackets; replaced all the cotter and clevis pins with new stainless steel.

    Closeup of the double row LEDs in the clear rubber jacket that makes them truly waterproof (we’ll see)
  7. installed a set of fog lights to the spreaders,
  8. Moved my Maretron weather instruments, GPS and my Groove WiFi extender to the spreaders on the mast,
    The old terminal bar
    LEDs as blue

    The LED lights white. Can also be red, green or blue
  9. Repaired (at the last minute before replacement) my 12v heating pad for my bed that is 5 years old and stopped working a month ago. Just before I went to buy anew one, I decided to have one more go at fixing it. I did.
    My reward
    The aft deck lit by the LEDS

    The new terminal bar at the bottom of the picture

I’m treating myself to rack of lamb today.

Stay tuned.

That’s Done

With the completion of Ti’s visa interview, a goal more than two years in the making, is done.

This High Pressure system will have to move on before Dauntless can get going north.

Waking up the next day, the feeling of thank god that’s done, cannot be ignored. Much like euphoria I felt waking up in Castletownbere, on the southeast coast of Ireland on the last days of August 2015, after completing my first Atlantic Passage.

Though as hard as it may be for some to understand, the Atlantic crossing was less stressful.

I understand the ocean, nature, weather and natural processes, formed by a fascination with physical science and systems engineering from as early as I can remember.

Bureaucracies on the other hand are a different matter. I’m smart, so I to think I understand them; but not smart enough. My life is full of the detritus of missed winks and nods. I’m more like the blind horse: What? You told me you (my boss, the bureaucracy) wanted an omelet. We did, but we didn’t tell you to break any eggs!

Thus, my well-found fear of bureaucracies. Now, that’s done. I can dream of the next steps.

I have a half a dozen things that must be done before Dauntless moves from her winter home in Vallejo. My goal will be to complete one a day, so that by next weekend, I’ll be ready to move my little Kadey Krogen from under the marina roof to an open slip, so that I can raise the mast and complete the rigging.

Seattle to Ketchikan

I am planning on being ready to leave Vallejo and start heading north the last week in May. Of course, the departure date will be set by the winds. I don’t mind bad weather per se, as along as the winds are from a favorable direction. That direction will be any winds with a southerly component. I’d rather have 30 knots from the south versus 10 knots from the north.

Details to follow.

Proud to Be an American

We spent 3 hours at the American Consulate in HCMC yesterday for Ti’s and Thien’s (15 yo son) K-1 Visa interview.

The line at the American Consulate in HCMC, SaiGon, Vietnam

Arriving just after 7 a.m., the line was already to the end of the block, about 80m long. We got dutifully in line and before long a couple of staff members were working themselves down the line, making sure people had their identification and respective appointment letters.

After about 30 minutes, people started to be allowed into the building. We were wanded by a security person before the building entrance, then just inside at the security station, we went through a metal detector, our bags scanned, and electronic devises were turned in for safe-keeping. Actually, the process was faster and easier than that the airport, any airport.

Ti and her son on line at the American Consulate (last two on the right)

I was impressed with the efficiency of the entire operation. Of course, being Vietnam, the staff were very nice also; not a bark to be heard.

We then found ourselves on another long line and people like me, U.S. citizens? were allowed to sit down in the waiting area. I had brought a real book knowing that they would take all electronic devices for safe keeping.

At this point, about 8:30, the waiting area with nice bench seats (I’m not being sarcastic, they were very comfortable) started filling up.  People were called to various windows based on a number they were given after the first line and before they sat down.

My girlfriend and her son joined me on the bench seats just before 9 a.m. (because we were near the end of the line outside) and were called to the first window just after 9 a.m. This window collected all of her required documents and took less than 10 minutes. We then sat down again, waiting for the interview window to be called.

A staff member checks to make sure people are on the right line at the American Consulate.

They provided water and the restrooms were clean and available.  People were pretty quiet, and I was just glad I brought my book. (Turns out, Vietnamese think they must be quiet and not move around. Ti informed me on the taxi ride home. I had wondered why the woman she was sitting next to, across from me, was whispering and the place was so quiet. Normally, Vietnamese talk like New Yorker’s, loud and clear!

We were called up to the interview window just before 10 a.m. The Consulate Officer was friendly, asked me a few general questions and then I and her son, were asked to sit down, while they (Officer and an interpreter) asked my fiancée some questions.  He proceeded to ask her a number of routine questions in English it turns out. (at first when Ti told me this, I was surprised, but then realized it made sense, since Ti and I had been together for two and a half years and I’d been in Vietnam more than 12 months during this time).

After a few minutes I was called back and asked if I knew my fiancée was still living with her husband in 2018?!?

Now, I am accustomed to being surprised by all sorts of things in Vietnam that I had thought I understood, but this was beyond the pale. I told him, no that’s not right, she must not have understood the question.  While I stood there, he asked her again and I expected her to say, 2015, but she again responded 2018!

Hopeful visitors wait in line

She was clearly flustered, and I was getting there too.

I again said, “no, that’s not right” and said directly to her, “you are saying you were with your husband in 2018”.

Finally, she understood the confusion. I went to sit down again, while Ti explained in Vietnamese and English that while she and her husband broke-up and separated in 2015, the divorce was not legal until 2018.

Within a minute everything was back on track (though it wasn’t really off the track, just that the CO was really trying to help and protect me) and a minute later she got the Blue Paper, because medical results have not been completed. Once done, my fiancée can return almost any day just after 1 p.m. and her K-1 visa will be issued.

Later I thought about this confusion and realized that we often don’t distinguish between the break-up and the legal divorce. At least I don’t. The legal divorce was just the crossing of t’s and dotting the I’s.

All in all, I was amazed by the number of people, a few hundred, they had to process in a few hours. I’ve sat in far worse and inefficient DMV offices over the years.

Three hours after arrival, we were in a taxi on the way home. All in all, I don’t see with the number of people, papers and documents involved, how it could have gone any better.  I also think that at least for the K-1 the process takes about three hours, so if you arrive to get on line at 06:00, you’ll get out sooner, but you will still be there about three hours.

While I was thinking of writing this review, I realized this was my fiancée’s first exposure to American bureaucracy and Americans, other than myself.

I know she was impressed. She experienced a friendly, fair and transparent process, which I think is what America and Americans are all about.

I know it made me proud.