Driving Lights on Dauntless

Since my first car days, driving around Mt. Rainier in the middle of the night, I have loved having extra lights on my car, driving lights. No video games, no internet, we didn’t pretend life, we lived life.

The New lights in Scotland in 2016. On the outside of the frame, you can make out the fog lights which are point down to illuminate the hull and anchor chain.

Fast forward 40 years and during my first year with Dauntless, I somehow found myself, cruising the ICW at night, a few times too many. Cruising at night in marked channels is so much harder than cruising on the open ocean. There are frequent course changes, by the minute or even necessitating hand steering. I soon found that that the spot light on Dauntless, mounted on top, forward of the pilot house, did little more than light up the foredeck, thus killing whatever night vision I had.

I found it more effective to stand outside, either in the dark or using a handheld LED flashlight.  But when cruising alone, it’s difficult to be both outside the pilot house and steer the boat. The solution, a driving light. They also come in very handy when looking for an anchorage or mooring spot, with other small boats, like a dingy, that may not show up on the radar.

My first driving light for Dauntless was a large Hella (made in Germany) that I hung under the bow pulpit. I was worried about the anchor hitting it as it swung into place, but that turned out not to be a problem.

It got all the way to Ireland and on the second day in Ireland, as we were re-positioning the boat, rafting her to a fishing boat by hand power alone, we managed to punch the lens of the light out, with the anchor of the nearby boat. The light still functioned, so I left it.

Lucky for me, because 11 months later, as I was cruising up a very narrow channel in southern Sweden, looking for an appropriate place to anchor after an exhausting day, that light saved my bacon.

The channel of “deep” water was only about 8 feet deep and Dauntless needed almost 5 of those feet. But the channel was only about 40 feet wide and outside the channel was only three feet. I had already hit two rocks while in Finland. This was not the soft mud of the Eastern U.S. or even the southern Baltic, this was the jagged rocks of Scandinavia (similar to Maine, as they are related geologically).

Two years later

I was terrified.  In large part because the channel was marked with non-reflective buoys that were spaced too far apart. In other words, as I passed one buoy, I could not see the next one more than half a mile away. Then I thought to turn on my driving light.

It wasn’t exactly like the sun coming up, but it put enough light down range to pick out the marker buoys. My task became easy and 30 minutes later, I was at the spot on the chart that had deep water off channel, so I could anchor and get some much-needed sleep.

Two years later, the lights are being held on with rust

My driving light was not going to last with a broken lens, letting water get into the housing. Earlier in the year, I had discovered that the replacement lens, was almost as much as the entire light, almost $100. In Sweden, more than half the cars have some sort of auxiliary driving lights. Why? Because it’s dark and for Europe there are a lot of big animals, mostly European Moose, (smaller than the North American version) on the road at night.

I found three large lights for $100. Later in Ireland, I got a few more of those Amazon LED fog lights (5” diameter). Link My Amazon Fog lights

(These lights look like an even better deal for 10 lights, An even better deal

Originally, I also had two 4″ fog (diffuse lens) facing forward. But they turned out to be only marginally effective. Also, during the same trip, I had to anchor just off the channel in Northern Ireland. I left the spreader lights on for increased visibility and I turned the forward fog lights down to illuminate the hull (they only consume 4.5 amps/hr). I then realized they illuminated the anchor chain well as I was hauling anchor. So I left that way ever since.

All these lights are made for vehicles and thus are waterproof, but the weak point are the brackets. They are mild steel and rust quickly. So, one of my winter projects was to replace those brackets with stainless steel.

I realized Vietnam does so much in stainless steel. Every household has numerous items made from stainless steel: kitchen racks, shelves, shoe and coat stands, etc. Therefore, this was the place to have it done.

Ideally, aluminum would be better, since the housing of the lights is aluminum, but that’s more expensive and the Vietnam market couldn’t sustain it. For the same reason, the stainless steel is to specification 304, not the more salt-water corrosion resistant, 316.

My new stainless steel frame and light brackets with the diagram I gave the fabricator.

The language barrier can also be formidable. In my neighborhood, virtually no one speaks English. The stainless shop I found last year did not. But that means the translator, must understand the concepts that are being translated and understand my diagram I drew for the two types of brackets and the frame I wanted made. Trinh was up to the task and two days later, we got a call, saying my brackets were ready.

The frame cost $31, each bracket $3.50.

I’ll be back to Dauntless in mid-March, getting her ready to move north later in the spring and southeast Alaska this summer.

If nothing else, I’ll be able to better see in the dark.

 

 

 

 

Things I Must Do on Dauntless

Upon waking up this Monday morning, as I was organizing my day, thinking about what I wanted/needed to do, I thought about this blog and what to write. I’d like to finish writing about the events of the trip to Vallejo. But as time passes, so does emotion of the events, making it harder to write about in an interesting way. Thus, the main casualty of losing my laptop for almost two months is insightful writing.

This morning in HCMC, writing this post

On my day’s list of things to do was also to refine my plan for the projects that need to be done on Dauntless. Specially, I want to plan, draw some diagrams, for those projects that I want to get done this September, when I return to Dauntless for 4 weeks.

So, why not write about that. It’s current and may be interesting to some.

I’m sitting in one of my two favorite coffee chops in the Bình Tân district of Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam. I come here when I want coffee, or a yogurt blended with orange juice, and that’s what I’m drinking today. The other shop I like, when I want a fruit smoothie, usually avocado.

I’m alone, so it’s a good time to write. My girlfriend Trinh (pronounced like Din), is working. Doing my three-month hiatus bringing Dauntless north, she expanded her sub-contracting job and now has 9 people working for her producing marking and ink pens.

Dauntless under cover in Vallejo

I can’t complain; I do like women who like work. Ultimately, my breakup with Julie was because she picked work over me and D. Why it will be different next time is not in the scope of this post, but one day I’ll write about it. I will say it’s more a cultural thing than a personality thing.  I’ll see Trinh later this morning and afternoon.

During the time on Dauntless, I started to make a list of the things that needed to be done on Dauntless at some point. I hate lists, as they remind me of all the stuff I still must do, but in this case, it’s needed.

Dauntless under cover in Vallejo

My biggest problem when cruising alone (in the sense of not having a long-term partner with me) is that when I arrive wherever, I’m tired. I don’t have the will or desire to sit for the next X number of days and fix, repair, replace, modify what needs to be done.

Of course, I’m fixing things that must be fixed, but no more. I may do some half-assed job just to get going, but I know I must come back and modify it.

One of the big attractions of the marina in Vallejo is that I am in a covered slip. I don’t have to worry about working in the rain or worse, in the sun. I’m looking forward to it.

My current list of projects includes everything that must be done before September 2019, once in Southeast Alaska. Obviously, some things are more critical than others, e.g. I don’t need the diesel heater until Alaska. Other things are conveniences, but on a boat, conveniences are important. So, one of my first projects next month will be to move my fresh water tank selector valve so I don’t have to go under the floor in the guest cabin every xxxing time to change water tanks. Along with that, I will also clean out the water tanks and reseal the inspection ports and install a baffle on the Maretron ultrasonic sending unit. This should be a day’s worth of work. If Trinh was with me, probably half-a-day, since she’s always busy like a bee. I’m more like a sloth, so it will probably actually take two to three days.

Here’s the current Dauntless Project List:

System Item  Problem/Issue/Goal Notes, parts? Est Completion
Engine Change Oil

R&R Impeller Cover

 

Been leaking for 2 years

 

 

Done 6663.88 hrs.

April 2019

H2O Move tank valves

Reseal tank fittings

Replace lines, one-way valves,

Check and redo all clamps

Place caps on Maretron tubes

Make external filter system for tank fill

September
Water Pump pressure switch Adjust ?
Mount Spare pump?
Transmission Real seal leak Check engine alignment?? ?? April 2019
Fuel Sight tubes Put LED strip behind tubes

Bundle wires on port side

Watermaker R&R Seals with kit

Add three-way intake valve

September
Generator Oil & filter

Install Battery

Check remote start switch

Install Perko switch to house?

Check Charger to Gen

 

 

 

Nice not to have to get out jumper cables?

September
Bow Thruster R&R broken gear Would be nice to use again, OTOH I’ve done wo for 3 yrs.
VHF’s ICOM 304 Internal relay?

Handheld

Chinese handheld

Send back to ICOM

Needs battery

Figure it out

September

April 2019

April 2019

Salon Hatches Add hinges to middle two Get someone who knows wood September
Outside Hull R&R rub rail

Touch up paint

Cap Rail refinish

With Stainless steel (CI Hbr) September

April 2019

2019

Ext Doors Touch up, Tung oil 2019
Fly Bridge Water ingress Where? Rail fittings? 2019
Windlass & Anchor Lube windlass

Re-mark Anchor chain

September

2019

Solar Panels Re-wire controllers, fuses, switches

Add array over dingy

Replace terminal blocks and fuse holder September
Purisan Controller corroded Return to Raritan September
Pilot House Electrical Add capacity Run additional cable, pos and neg from ER distribution Sept or April
Paravanes Get two new 28”, Use current as spares

Make holder

Reduce excess lines

April 2019
Boom Winch R&R April 2019
Mast Make New Bracket for Instruments

Get 25’ NMEA 2000 cable

Re-attach spreader lights

September
Diesel Heater Complete Wallas installation 2019
Hookah Face mask and compressor 2019
Hydraulic Fittings

Octopus Pump & Capilano piston

Standardize all fittings

Rebulid

Spare?? 2018 -2019

 

I’m tired just wiring this list. I think I’ll rest now.

 

 

Don’t Miss Great Foods Because of Bad Translations

A little background. I came to Vietnam with some trepidation. I don’t like hot climates, hot weather or most foods that they produce. I came to meet my special person though I had an open mind. In the early days, I made the mistake of saying I didn’t particularly like “Hot Pot” as Lãu is translated in English (and my spelling here is not 100% correct, as I can’t find the correct accent for the “a”.

Vietnamese Lẩu. This a fish version that both Trinh and I prefer

A very bad translation at that. I, of all people, should have known better.

Having spent the last 40 years in and out of Europe, if I venture into a place that even has a menu in English, I always ask for the native language, be it Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch or German. Why? Because generally, the translator is trying to put the food into a familiar concept, when no such comparison exists. Sometimes even the literal translation misses the mark widely.

One time in Wissembourg, an ancient French town along the French-German border, after a typically simple, but exquisite French dinner, the dessert offered was “frozen omelet”. We passed, but on walking out, we realized what they were offering was Baked Alaska, (whipped egg whites surrounding a block of ice cream that is browned in the oven) one of my favorite desserts.

The recent home of the fish before he made it to the pot.
The restaurant will grill the half the fish, with the other half going into the Lẩu

Fast forward 40 years later and my ill-informed comment about Hot Pot, had me missing a Vietnamese specialty for months until the confusion was cleared up. But why such confusion in the first place?

Because the Natives are trying to put it into a context we understand. The problem is that there are 500+ Chinese who also have a thing that’s called “Hot Pot” in English, which is totally different that the Vietnamese version. Even the Koreans have a version, which they call Shabu Shabu, which in my mind is better way to handle different foods that don’t translate well.  If I go to a Korean restaurant and see Shabu Shabu, I know exactly what I am getting. When I see “Hot Pot” the only thing I am sure of is that a pot is involved, and it will be hot.

Even the Google Translation of Lãu leaves a lot to be desired. Their definition, “a casserole of meat and vegetables, typically with a covering of sliced potato”.

The grilled portion of the fish

Who came up with that definition? A twenty something person who read about ancient life in the Midwest?

 

Café Culture

I have two favorite cafés in Ho Chi Minh City, Bui Van Ngo Coffee is larger, fancier and also has some baked goods. Café Thuy Moc is smaller, homier and they make killer smoothies, my favorite being Sinh To Bo, an avocado smoothie.  They are also on a busy street corner that I can watch fascinated how crossing traffic manages to crisscross in a smooth ballet of traffic.

Sunday morning, 08:00, at Bui Van Ngo Coffee in Binh Tan, HCMC, Vietnam

Sunday mornings both places are full, which goes to my observation that about 40% to 50% of the population have Sunday off, at least partially.

I haven’t been to China yet, but having spent time in Korea, Japan and Vietnam, the Vietnamese work the most. Japan and Korea (South Korea of course) being closer to a more western life style with more time off.  My friend Sam, married to Bac, who wrote the book, For Two Cows I Ain’t Half Bad, remarks that when he arrived in Vietnam in the late 1960’s, the Vietnamese had a life style that had hardly changed in the last few thousand years. 90% of the population were agrarian, farmers, and farmers are renown the world over for one thing, they just want the powers to be to leave them alone.

A page from the menu of the popular cafe

I blame the U.S. State Department for most of the post WW2 debacles. Full of ivy league graduates who think they know everything, but, know nothing about the places in which they are supposed to be experts. They lurch from one fiasco to another. Acting when they should sit on their hands and being still when they should act. How is Iraq any different than Vietnam? Ok, basta, enough.

Café Thuy Moc, smaller. The owners, the couple on the left and their one year old daughter, who just learned to walk on the right.

Having been on Dauntless for the last three months, the first week back in Vietnam was a bit strange. Probably jet lag as much as anything, though I did, or I should say, Trinh did, change my apartment for a house.  I like my new neighborhood better, it is less industrial, than the previous one. Even though I had a 10th floor apartment the amount of dust that filtered in every day was astounding. Most probably from the large apartment complexes being constructed nearby. Now, almost no dust.

My German neighbor back in the day said I had an empfindlich stomach. Google does a good job of translating that to mean: sensitive, delicate, touchy. That’s certainly my stomach. But it really likes Vietnamese cuisine. Maybe even more than I do. I was surprised these last months being in the USA and Mexico as to how much I missed the food and as to how much I didn’t like most of the offerings in the U.S.

Coming up, Foods to Die for

Update, I just recently discovered cappuccino in Vietnam. My hard and fast rule is never, ever get  a cappuccino outside of Italy, as it is just awatered down, over milked version fo the real thing.

But coffee in Vietnam is always strong and good, so I thought I’d spend the big bucks, 49,000 VND or about $2.20 US and give it a try.

I’m so glad I did.  As good as in Italy. Perfect in fact.

Thanks Vietnam

cappuccino
Sinh To Bo at Café Thuy Moc
Avocado smoothie