Everyone says that it’s best to return the boat to as close to original, especially when it comes to electrics, for a good survey. But I’m not sure I can do that.
No, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do that. Why? Because this boat has gotten me where we are as she is. She’s been nothing but reliable. Many of my additions are just to make my life a little easier.
For example, when I upgraded the fridge/freezer in 2014 to the Vitrifrigos, they were very professionally wired and installed. They can use any voltage and frequency, from 240v/50hz, 120v/60hz to 12v d.c. While the 120v power goes through a breaker on the salon distribution panel, the 12v power came directly from the engine room distribution panel. I had no easy way to totally isolate the fridge or freezer. So, I added a 4-gang switch, with circuit breakers, so I had an easy way to turn off the power if need be.
Now, in the four years since I did this, I’ve probably only turned the 12v power off two times, the last one being a few months ago, when I was trying to determine my mysterious electrical draw (See Sense of Smell). So why undo something like that? Does that really increase value?
But there are a lot of cosmetic things that do need to be taken care of. Truth be told, as I’ve cruised up and down the east coast, across the Atlantic, through the Baltic and North Seas, back across the Atlantic and the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and the long, hard slog up the west coast of North America, I didn’t find much time to do those cosmetic jobs that make boats look so pretty.
The beautiful grey paint job that I think makes Dauntless lo so determined is now five years old. Time for a refresh. The cap rail in particular looked great for two years, then showed the first bubble (it’s hard to paint teak no matter how good the preparation) at year three and looks really bad now. I may try AWL wood.
Also, the inside walls have too much evidence of botched jobs, etc. So, Dauntless needs some of that tender care that I have been so negligent in giving her over the last 30, 000 miles.
But I love her. She has been such a reliable vessel, The $10+ value of spares in half a dozen containers of spare parts have almost never been opened. All that money! But I was preparing for cruising the world and I was as afraid of getting a required part through customs in a timely manner or actually needing those spare injector tubes in the middle of the Atlantic.
As I’ve said, I never needed any of it. Even the two long term cruising spare kits from American Diesel went unused.
But the teak on the gunnel looks like hell or in reality, just untouched for 8 years! What can I expect? Eek
Right now, the plan is sort of tentative. It depends on where in Washington state I find on the hard storage for the winter. I also want to be able to do some work on her to prepare her for sale. If I can’t do that because of restrictions on working on the boat, then does it make sense to bring her down for the winter? Maybe wait until spring??
Let’s see what I learn a the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous. Umm, maybe this is starting to look like Afghanistan.
It is. I can’t refute that. Basically, we each see Dauntless in a vastly different light.
My light started in 2011, when my then wife (Julie) and I first saw the Kadey Krogen that would be renamed Dauntless two years later when we bought her.
Julie and I talked and planned for four years before even stepping on the decks of Dauntless. We had a single vision: being able to travel anyplace, affordably, and safely in our own boat.
As a reader of this blog, you know the story, the mission I have been on for the last 10 years, so I don’t need to repeat it here, but without Julie, there is no Dauntless, no Atlantic crossing, no nothing.
In 2014 we planned and even a map, showing our route for the next four or five years, ending in Korea, a special place for both of us. Our planning gave us a confidence that enabled us to leave Cape Cod one morning in mid-summer and head due east into the unknown.
Both of us were explorers with the curiosity that comes with seeing, doing new things. We weren’t fearless, far from it, we both could and did get scared in the dark. But being in the cocoon of Dauntless somehow made us not fear the darkness, the ocean or anything else.
We both decided that we would fear what we could see. Thus, full AIS to avoid getting run over by a big ship, but don’t worry about the semi-submerged container that we can’t see in the middle of the night. The seas of the North Atlantic at summer’s end are still tame yet will show us why we don’t do this in October. It also gave us the confidence by seeing how well we did in 15-to-25-foot seas for days on end.
When we looked at Dauntless, we saw Adventure & Travel, in a safe, economic package. A boat that we could afford to run across oceans and that was truly at home in any sea. The Kadey Krogen was the prefect boat for us.
When my life’s path changed in 2016, with our divorce, I kept going on the momentum of the plan. But the cruising became less and less fun. It became more of getting from point A to B. For the slog up the west coast, I had the help of some good friends who came to help at various times. That made it tolerable, but the fun and adventure were missing in action.
I didn’t really understand this as well then as I do today. My mission had changed or more likely, I had added another mission. In 2017, while Dauntless was in Costa Rica I went to Viet Nam for the first time. Military history has always been a passion of mine, especially after my first tour in Europe when I joined the USAF. So, I knew more than most our squalid history of the Viet Nam war. While I did participate in one march against the war in Seattle in 1970, it was also clear to me, unlike others, that Jane Fonda was a propaganda tool of the North Viet Nam government.
But I had learned a lot more since then and was looking forward to this new adventure. Having been in a virtually every country, except Hungary, in Europe over the last 40 years, I knew Americans were liked more the further east one went. In other words, ex-communist places appreciate the USA more than most and far more than is portrayed in the American press.
Long story short, I loved Viet Nam and I have never been in a country where Americans were loved more. When a store would want to promote a new product, they would display a giant American flag, or better yet just paint the wall of the store with the stars and stripes. With Ti and Thien in my life my mission had changed.
This explanation is to let you, the loyal folks who have followed my travels for so long, in time and distance, understand that this is not simply because my current partner sees Dauntless differently, as a depreciating asset.
And to be clear, once and for all, our divorce was not because of the boat, but simply because Julie had started a school and that school needed her more than Dauntless or I did. It was a sentiment that I fully understood for I lived by the same creed. Whether it was the USAF or the NYC DOE by job, my mission came first. I could expect Julie to do no less and I always loved her and respected it for it.
That was five years ago. As I said, the momentum of the plan got me back across the Atlantic and into the Pacific Ocean. Two years of a sedentary life in Wrangell have helped me to understand that Dauntless wasn’t made to sit. She likes going new places and seeing new faces. I’m also not suited to be a snowbird. I’m a gypsy. In Ireland, gypsies are called ‘Travellers”. that’s an apt name, maybe even a better name, since gypsy implies homeless, while traveller, which brings to mind, Lee Marvin’s hit song from Paint Your Wagon, https://youtu.be/-jYk5u9vKfA
As said in my last blog, we’ll all three be heading to the PAC NW next month, while Dauntless is in Wrangell with my brother, who will take her out on his own over the next two months. I’m looking forward to the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous. I’ll meet a bunch of great people, some of whom I have known only by email in the past years.
I’m also planning for the winter and getting Dauntless ready. I’m thinking now of bringing her down to Seattle. But if I do that, it’s backtracking and that means it will be a one-way trip.
If you are interested in the Viet Nam war, two books and lectures you may find interesting are:
In 2018, I moved to Alaska, then a year later, I brought Ti and Thien to join me for our Dauntless in Alaska adventure. Those regular readers of this blog and my friends who follow just to keep up, know I like to keep it simple.
Make the Plan; Do the Plan.
For the past 10 years, the plan has been simple, keep moving forward:
In 2011, it was to acquire an affordable ocean crossing boat, which meant a Kadey Krogen.
In 2013, we acquired Dauntless and outfitted her to cross oceans and gain experience to do so.
2014 was the first Atlantic Passage, England to Ireland via the Azores,
2015 was the Baltic & North Sea adventure, showing the flag from eastern Finland thru Scotland,
2016 exploring the west coast of Europe, from Scotland to NW Africa, coming west again at year’s end
2017 the Panama Canal, Central America, Mexico and finally,
2018-2019 the long, hard, never to do again, slog up the west coast of North America to Alaska.
But it’s now 2021 and Dauntless has become restless. Two years in the same port is not something we are accustomed to, though Alaska is a great place to live and boat.
Looking back at the original plan of 2013 and 2014, would have put Dauntless in Korea by now. That was always the near time goal from the inception of the idea to its realization. Having done the hard work of coming north along the west coast, it would be relatively easy to head west into the Aleutians. Then, it’s a short step, 1200 miles, 9 days to Japan. So close and yet so far.
But the air smells different.
Last summer, my brother, a long time Alaskan, who retired to Las Vegas a few years ago finally realized the fishing sucked in Vegas, at least for the aquatic kind. So, he came up with the idea of joining us on Dauntless for the summer 2021. Now, I love my brother, I grew up with him, so the idea of spending months with him, left a lot to be desired.
Thus, I figured it would be a perfect time for a vacation away from the boat. We planned for this summer and fall. He would be on Dauntless, while the three of us, would be visiting our friends in Texas on their beautiful ranch about 20 miles WSW of Austin. Texas Hill Country.
We spent June showing him how to run Dauntless without hitting anything. It also gave me the opportunity to go through all the boat systems to make sure everything would run smoothly for him. Other than the watermaker and bow thruster, all systems were doing well. I made a few check lists for him, or I think I did, or at least I thought about making some checklists, but as I sit here, I am not so sure.
We ended up flying down to Texas the very end of June. We are doing an opposite “Snowbird” (many “Alaskans” fly south when the first snow flies in October until May).
Thien will be going to Oregon State University this fall. Ti and I will drive him out to the PAC NW in September. We’ll also visit friends along the way and in Seattle. Then at the end of the month, I’ll attend the Northwest Kadey Krogen rendezvous, a first for me. I’m looking forward to meeting a whole new bunch of Krogenites.
But in the meantime, the air smells different, I smell dirt!
But now I have a mutiny on my hands. The plan was to stay here until Thien goes off to school this fall. My brother would be on the boat in any case, so no worries there. But now, Ti likes it here and says there is more opportunity for her here (That’s certainly true). Best of all, she loves the kitchen in the very big house.
For when it comes to Dauntless, Ti can only see a “Depreciating Asset”. Now, I love Ti and the Vietnamese in general for their hard work, pragmatism, and ingenuity, being able to make do with what they have. But Depreciating Asset is a bit harsh.
Bringing Cari, a KK42,from Bodega Bay CA to Gig Harbor, WA Part II
After that first 24 hours, winds and seas became more southerly and lessened in strength. So, the rolling slowly subsided over the next four days until we rounded the corner for the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We have about 15 hours left to Gig Harbor, but this would be our last night out. It did cause a little excitement for me.
On Dauntless, I understand my Raymarine E-80 radar very well. Since the first day, back in March 2013, when I turn on the engine, I also turn on:
I’ve just found it best practice to always have all equipment powered and running when underway, day or night. This precludes forgetting to turn on Navigation Lights when it gets dark and most importantly, allows me to always see what the radar sees in good visibility and even more critical, to investigate items it’s not seeing (no returns), but are obvious enough looking out the pilot house windows that there is an object I certainly want to avoid.
When that happens, I just re-adjust the radar’s gain and filter, so that it shows me what it should for the current sea state.
This allows me to have total confidence at night and in poor visibility situations. Obviously, on a different boat, with a different radar, that is not the case.
So far on this trip, I found the radar somewhat typical, in that it seemed to work pretty well, but at times, it either showed too much sea clutter or not enough. Something to keep in mind.
Thus, that last night, being off the ocean and now in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, there was other traffic, navigation markers, etc. to deal with.
As we passed as few miles off of Port Angeles at Oh-Dark-Thirty, I saw a white light ahead, seemingly very close. I checked the chart, there should be nothing ahead for three miles, more than 30 minutes away. But there was a note about log booms in the Port Angeles harbor. We were near the harbor entrance, could this light denote a log boom?
Looking at the radar, I saw nothing, but as I said, I did not trust this particular radar that much to rely on it. That left my eyes and brain. As we know, our eyes and brain coupled with a vivid imagination, can do wonders at night. In particular, almost everything looks closer.
My brain was telling me that this flashing white light was close, almost too close.
Being responsible for someone else’ boat, made me even more cautious than usual. I decided that caution was called for and turned the boat 90° to the north. At worst, I’d waste a little time, but at best I would avoid imminent disaster.
After turning and heading north for 5 minutes, as I watched the light (that I had turned to avoid), its bearing had hardly changed. Umm, that meant that this light was not close at all but far way. Confirming what the radar had been telling me all along. I felt a bit embarrassed, but there were no witnesses and I felt good that I had chosen the safer choice, even if I wasted some time.
The rest of the morning was uneventful. Our ETA to Gig Harbor was about 13:00 and we decided that I would pilot the boat into the harbor and dock her, since I had a few dockings under my belt.
I decided that this was not the moment to recount the story of my first docking in Poland, where after docked, my friend said to me, “It’s a rub rail, not a crash rail”.
I was a bit nervous, never having seen the slip before and knowing it would be very narrow, at the almost end of the channel, leaving one with few options in case of a missed approach.
As you can see from the attached pictures, one from land looking at Cari in her slip, with a sailboat on her port side, the finger pier being on the right or starboard side and the overhead google shot, it is a narrow fairway.
In spite of my nervousness, I decided I just had to dock as if it was Dauntless. I stayed to the right as we entered the fairway, trying to give myself as much room as possible for the left turn into the slip. I knew there was a sailboat docked on the left, with the narrow finger on the right.
With the Kadey Krogen’s high bow rise blocking the near forward view, I knew I had to trust my instincts. As I turned sharply left, I put her in neutral to reduce our forward speed of 3 knots. Seems fast, but steerage below two knots becomes problematic. The KK will turn very sharply, with a single screw and even without bow thruster. At full left rudder the bow pulpit was swinging over the finger. I knew to let it go well over the dock, in spite of appearances. Finally, with about 10 feet to spare forward to the dock, I put her in reverse and gave her a shot of power to kill our forward momentum. This also adds a kick to the stern to the right. The KK42 has a left-handed prop, so the stern is always trying to walk to the starboard, whether going forward or reverse.
Normally, I would have the person on the lines, put a line on the first cleat possible, then tie off at the midships cleat on the boat. Then use that with full left rudder and forward gear to push the stern against the dock finger. But in this case, it wasn’t needed. The surge of reverse, put the stern again the finger, stopped our forward way and the boat was perfectly parallel to the dock as it came to a stop, with the bow 6 feet from the forward dock. We hadn’t touched the sailboat to the left, only a few feet away and we hadn’t bounced off the finger.
I was a bit astonished. As it was by far one of my best dockings ever.
Thank God for small favors.
I could finally relax for the first time in the days and weeks leading up to this trip.
I know I haven’t written very much, because not much has happened being somewhat stationary for the last two years and unlike the Discovery Channel, I can’t make drama out of nothing.
During the last dozen years, I’ve seen more and more cruisers adding a video surveillance system to their boats. Being able to see the engine room at all times from the pilot house, certainly looks attractive, but I feel it can provide a false sense of security.
My brother will be on Dauntless for the summer. Last week, we took Dauntless out to show him some of our favorite fishing sites. In getting ready for his arrival, we did a real spring cleaning. Dauntless has never been a smelly boat. In large part because the second owner replaced all the non-copper hoses on the boat’s sanitation system and engine. That makes a big difference.
But a Wrangell winter is an incubator for mold and mildew. We run an Invation Dehumidifier all winter, on high at night, it would warm the salon to high 60’s and lower the humidity to mid-30%. During the day, we run it on low. I plumbed it into our gallery sink drain, so I never have to empty the water container.
So Dauntless smells pretty sweet, even before the spring cleaning.
Thus a few days later, after my brother’s arrival, the boat was permeated by a new odor.
And no, I did not think it was my brother! Because it was clear that it was coming from the engine room. My first thought was that during the spring cleaning the previous week, we had even cleaned and organized the lazzerette. Because of a loose drain hose, there was a large container in the lazzerette that was full of water, maybe 20+ gallons of smelly water. To heavy to lift out, I decided to just empty it and it would run into the engine room and be pumped out. I then hosed down the lazzerette and really didn’t smell any thing foul anymore.
But now a week later, I was wondering if that smelly water, had found a space to fester. Also, the previous week, we had anchored in a place that while hauling the anchor, a significant amount of seaweed and kelp was on the chain. We pulled most of it all as the chain come up but didn’t wash the chain.
So, I wondered if the odor was being caused by organic material.
Between the stanky lazzerette water and the chain locker, I thought it was possible this was the cause. I ran all the chain out in about 15 feet of water int eh harbor. We also took soap and bucket and scrubbed the bilge and chain locker. While all the chain was out, I decided to also put a small plastic basket on the bottom, that once crushed by 500 pounds of chains, would still provide a few inches of clearance keeping the chain locker drain clear of line and chain. In 8 years of Dauntless life, our chain locker has never had a strong odor and wanted to keep it that way.
Half a day later, all done, the engine room did smell better, but the malorious odor was still noticeable.
We’d be going out the next day. Maybe the engine room just needed an airing out?
That next evening, while on the hook, the odor was back, as bad as ever.
The odor had a strange aspect to it, almost organic, like something dead, but also a bit like plastic.
This same evening, the first one away from the dock and shore power, I noticed a 5 to 10 amp draw that was unaccountable. I turned everything off, finally even going to the extreme of turning off the boat computer, something I never do while away from the dock, as it is provides my primary navigation, GPS and AIS.
With the boat dead quiet, nothing on, the current draw was now almost 8 amps, 96 watts. This meant that someplace on this boat, I had the equivalent of a 100-watt bulb burning and that produces a significant amount of heat. It should be noticeable.
Ah ha. I had it. I must be one of the house bank batteries. They were 5 years old and already shot. 90% of the house bank was powered by my one LiFePO4 battery of 200 amp-hours, while the three old lead acid batteries were providing about 30 amp-hours in total. So, it made sense to me that one of the batteries was bad, shorted out and pulling power from the good batteries.
This was confirmed when I checked the current draw with a clamp on amp meter and sure enough, I could see 6 amps coming out of the house bank.
With much anticipation, I was sure I found the problem. I got my IR temperature gun, opened up the two battery compartments and expected to see the problem.
First battery, the only one on the port side, sharing the box with the Li battery was 84°, that seemed ok, since the Li battery was warm as it was doing most of the work. OK, then it must be one of the batteries in the starboard box.
Opened the starboard battery box with even greater anticipation, both batteries were cool, only 74° and the current running thru each battery was less than one amp.
There is also a Perko switch in the engine room electrical distribution panel. This allows me to switch from the start battery to house bank to start the engine. I’ve never used it. And when I did switch it, the draw remained the same.
There is also a similar Perko switch in the salon distribution panel. It allows me to switch the house bank source from the house bank to the start battery (a relic of the old system, which had no start battery, but used the house bank to start the engine).
Stumped yet again.
Back to the engine room distribution panel.
Using my trusty amp meter again, I noticed a 5 amp draw that ran to an isolator, then a 100-amp fuse. This isolator is not to be confused with the two 120-volt isolators I have on each of the 120 circuits. This was on the 12-volt system and frankly, I was unclear what its purpose was.
Returning back to Wrangell the next day, I was egger to call my friend and electrical genius and Kadey Krogen guru, Dave Arnold in Fort Pierce. He’d help me figure it out.
And he did.
I knew my start battery and house bank batteries were separated and sort of knew they were charged separately, but not was well as I had thought.
David asked me if I had checked the current in the negative start battery cable. I hadn’t. He explained to me that the 12v isolator was how I charged by start battery. In simple terms, it lets a small amount of power go to the start battery as needed, but won’t pull power from the start battery, no matter the state of charge of the house bank.
My start battery, installed by David in fact, was now 8 years old. It had to be the culprit. Simply put, it had an internal short and was draining the house bank at 5 to 8 amps continuously.
As I opened the battery box cover for the start battery, the heat and bad smell hit me. The battery top was 154°F. I disconnected it; we pulled it out and put it on the dock. Two hours later it was still 100 degrees.
Video surveillance wouldn’t have smelled that until it went up in flames.
It’s been a quiet winter. Covid-19 or not, winter in Wrangell, Alaska is quiet. It’s possible to go weeks, without talking to anyone, other than the cashier at the grocery store.
Coupled with the fact, that until summer 2019, I had spent most of my winters overseas, my friends got accustomed to not calling. No cards, no letters, no nuthin., Great for hermits, not so great for a kid born in Greenwich Village, in what seemed like the center of the world.
Sometime in February, I was contacted by a new Kadey Krogen 42 owner, who had bought the boat located just north of San Francisco and was looking for advice on bringing it up the coast to his home in Gig Harbor, Washington, just northwest of Tacoma. After a couple of emails and conversations, I offered to help the new owner, Ole, bring the boat up north.
We made some tentative plans to try to do this in April, as I needed to get Dauntless ready for its busy summer with my brother coming up to go fishing and cruising for the summer. That will be the topic of another blog.
So, I was committed to this delivery from Bodega Bay to Gig Harbor. The owner, Ole, had extensive sailing experience, even building boats, but this was his first power boat.
In preparing for the trip, I started watching the winds of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. It was the same old story, northwest winds 90% of the time. Day in and day out, the same thing. The idea of hobby horsing up the coast for a second time was not very appealing. In fact, it made me pretty worried. What happened if Ole wanted to leave under so-so conditions and I didn’t?
As we talked over the coming weeks and months, I felt he was willing to listen to my experience, which made me feel more comfortable about my commitment. (as when I give my word, I keep my word).
The winds were not as cooperative. Over an eight-week period, I saw only one or two decent weather windows, with the NW winds abating for a few days. It’s about 650 nm from Bodega Bay, where the KK was, to Neah Bay (just off the Pacific Ocean in the Straits of Juan de Fuca). That means almost 5 full days on the eastern Pacific with no stops. It’s another day from there to Gig Harbor, but I didn’t worry about that portion of the trip. Once we got off the Pacific, we would be in sheltered waters and better able to deal with whatever Mother Nature threw at us.
The weather window I was looking for, would have a low-pressure area and associated fronts, just off the coast, causing south to west winds at moderate strength. We needed to have a series of these lows, not just one, otherwise, upon frontal passage, with the low moving east, the high-pressure areas would build rapidly off the coast, bringing back the NW winds at 15 to 25+ knots off the coast.
That would be No-Go. My old body wanted no part of bouncing up and down the coast every 6 seconds for any number of days!
A few days before my anticipated flight from Wrangell to Santa Rosa, California, a two-day trip on Alaska Airlines, Ole called me to suggest a delay of 5 days, to better wait for our weather window. I was really happy to hear that, as I was looking at the same forecast conditions and was pleased that we were on the same page.
Looking 7 to 10 days out on Windy.com, it did seem that a weather window was developing for Saturday, April 24th. For the next week, the forecast stayed consistent, one of the best indications of a good forecast that has a good handle on the situation.
I arrived in Santa Rosa that Wednesday. The next day, we went to Svendsen’s Marine & Industrial Supply, a massive marine supply place in Alameda, that is worth the visit for anyone in the Bay area.
Friday, we spent provisioning, Ole was so generous in everything we bought and in fact we ended up buying far more food than we could ever eat, especially on a rolling ocean.
We were planning a Saturday morning departure, but it depended on the winds turning from the NW to the south, southwest or west. While the forecast still called for this big change and had been consistent all week, the proof was going to be Saturday morning.
It was with much relief that I woke Saturday, checked the flags in the marina, and was pleased to see that they were finally streaming northward. Our much-anticipated southern winds had arrived. It was time to go.
We couldn’t wait either, as the forecast winds were to become northerly again north of Eureka, California the following day. This meant we had to be north of that cape by the 24-hour point. It also meant that we would have strong westerly winds this first day, but those winds would become more southerly in subsequent days as long as we made progress north.
Now, a Kadey Krogen will roll on a damp lawn, and this boat had no stabilization. But neither did Dauntless my first year and 5,000 miles. A little rolling is good for the digestion in any case, and I was willing to put up with anything to avoid head seas and the hobby horse ride that entails on a full displacement boat.
As we left the harbor, we first had to go WNW for a few hours and then were able to turn NW to parallel the northern California coast. For much of the day, we had light southwest winds, with smallish seas off the port quarter. Again, this was just as forecast. As the day progressed, the winds were forecast to become stronger and more westerly for the nighttime hours. They did so that evening, so did the amount of our rolling. There was a cold front to our west, which caused the winds to increase to 12 to 18 knots. Seas built from less than one foot to 3 to 5 feet, so we were rolling like a … Kadey Krogen.
That first day with any open water passages, when the boat gets rolling, any thing not secured would let its presence be known and they did. But this boat was pretty secured; Ole being an old sea dog. We had a line securing the refrigerator and freezer. The furniture was secured in the salon and we had re-stowed the loose stuff on the salon shelves.
The rolling increased that night, often up to 30° degrees to the lee side, 20° to the windward side, I was wedged into the pilothouse bench seat, having seen this movie before.
A few things got loose anyway and as always; the noise is always worse than the damage (in a well-prepared boat). A small container of fruits having escaped and spread over the floor that took some corralling. But the real damage was unseen for a number of hours.
What could that damage be?
As I said, Ole is a real Sea Dog, unlike me, who is just a neophyte in comparison. But the rolling took its toll, and the initial problem was unseen for hours. By the time, Olé did find the problem, it was a real mess.
A real mess.
Inside our refrigerator, a jar of preserves was unended, and horror of horrors, its lid came off, so it rolled around for hours that night with no lid, distributing its sticky contents everywhere over everything in the entire fridge.
It took poor Ole, hours to clean up the next day.
Guiltily, I thought to myself, better him than me, for a change.
I suppose there are upsides to being on someone else’s bottom.
I’m not in it, at least not in the Wrangell, Alaska version. Even NYC has a version, with people going in the water at Coney Island on the first of the year.
Now the Wrangell version is for these hardy enough to brave the cold waters (50°F) of Zimovia Strait on the first of the new year. This winter has been extremely wet, but not very cold, with temperatures staying above freezing except for just of couple of dry days in the high 20°s. Every other day we’ve had clouds and rain. Contrast that with last year, where by this time, we’d had few feet of snow since before Thanksgiving until now and had weeks of below freezing temperatures.
I do have my Polar Bear certificate for being in Resolute, Northwest Territories, Canada, but I just had to be there, not do anything special.
While on T-3, I did have the opportunity to jump into the Arctic Ocean, in the six-foot diameter hole we had melted thru the sea ice to collect zooplankton samples for the summer. But the idea of jumping into water that was 28°F, even then, in the years when I was young, brave and knew everything, was unappealing to me.
I pictured myself going into shock, not being able to drag myself out of our four-foot-deep ice hole, while my bumbling colleagues came up with a way to drag me out as I died of hypothermia.
Being on the Arctic ice pack in the middle of summer was fascinating. During the summer, with 24 ours of daylight for five months, the sun did produce significant melting of the top layers of ice.
Now, a little lesson on the Arctic ice pack. The ice pack was (until recently) only about 4 to 6 feet think, absent pressure ridges, (areas where the ice has been pushed into little hills by wind and current). Currently, the ice pack has thinned to just 3 to 4 feet. Thus, much larger areas are opening up during the summer melt.
The ice pack grows from underneath, fresh water freezing in the 28° water. Thus, the ice pack is all fresh water and was the source of our drinking water. We melted ice most of the year, but for two months of the high summer, we would pump fresh water from the numerous lakes that formed on top of the ice. These melt ponds would be a beautiful blue in color. On the other hand, when we would come upon leads (a break in the ice pack) in the ice, the water would be as black as the blackest night. I found them actually scary, I would not get within a few feet of them. Terrified would be more like it. Even after all these years, nothing has made me feel that primordial fear like those black, black leads.
The Arctic Ocean doesn’t get very much snowfall, it’s simply too dry. So, all the ice growth comes from below. While all the ice melt or sublimation (solid, ice, becoming gas, water vapor, without turning to liquid first. Sublimation is how most of the ice disappears. Therefore, the ice pack is always growing from underneath 10 months of the year and losing ice from above throughout the year, but especially in high summer, June and July.
If you would like to know more and be up on Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis, check out this link, which I look at every months as I dream of cruising from Alaska to Europe one day:
20180513 Three Times Fail – Cabo Falso Beats Dauntless Like a Rented Mule
Cabo San Lucas was the most un-Mexican, unpleasant place I’ve been in the beginning of time or at least since I’ve been cruising Dauntless for the last 7 years.
It was expensive, literally, 3x to 10x more expensive than anyplace else I’d been in Mexico. The epitome of a tourist trap; I thought I was in Southern California.
Unexpectedly, Ensenada, being much closer to California, was truly charming. I could have been stuck there for months and been happy, conversely, being stuck in Cabo waiting for weather for 10 days felt like a year!
So, this video shows me attempting to leave Cabo just days after my arrival. I was now alone again; Larry was going to meet in the next week and I was hoping to be in Ensenada by then. Once making the right turn to the west at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula, one heads due west to get around Cabo Falso, before turning northwest and then north to get up the coast. The winds are typically strong and right on the nose 15 to 35 knots. 15 is not pleasant, but is tolerable, high teems quickly becomes untenable for any length of time. Even under the best conditions, I would have a few hours of the strongest winds.
Sorry I don’t have more video of the worst moments, but when I’m being thrown around the pilot house, my last thoughts are on making videos.
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Riding a motorbike in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in the spring of 2019.
This is a short, 15-minute video taken from my Suzuki Hayate motorbike while driving in the western area of HCMC Tan Phu. It shows driving along the streets and all the ways one must stay vigilant to drive safely and securely.
Vietnam is a motorbike country. Virtually everyone has one, though some still get by with a bicycle only, like Ti’s late mother. The motorbikes here are all 150 cc or less. They consume very little gas, getting about 36 km/liter of gas (85 mpg). There are a few larger motorcycles, very few. My guess is they are taxed my higher like cars (with a 100% to 300% VAT).
I’d estimate that for every 1,000 motorbikes (<150cc) there are 10 cars (half of which are taxi), 1 large motorcycle and 10 to 15 trucks.
While I said, that city driving is pretty safe. Intercity driving is downright dangerous. Number one reason is truck drivers (18 wheelers) who are reckless due to lack of sleep or drug use. The government has been trying to crack down on these abuses, but…
While initially upon arriving in HCMC in the spring of 2017, I found the traffic very chaotic. As I watched and observed over the coming days and weeks, I understood the system better and actually found the system pretty transparent. It was simple:
Don’t hit whatever you can see.
That means, it you hit anything, it’s your fault. If anyone hits you, it’s their fault.
Doesn’t get more simpler than that. And in fact, since many of you reading this are boaters, it’s similar to how the COLREGS are interpreted for ships and boats. Even when people do stupid stuff in front of you, the captain is still obligated to avoid it.
So, in that sense, the traffic in HCMC and Vietnam in general, seemed almost normal.
An example, (besides the ones you will see in this video, like drivers going against traffic or making U-turns just in front of you) in my early days, the street I was on had a line of 4+ wheel traffic in the left lane (which is normal, cars and trucks stay left). We come upon a little construction obstacle, so all motorcycle traffic is restricted to about half a lane or smaller, allowing only two motorbikes side by side. All of a sudden, a motorbike stops in the right side, because the driver is answering his cell phone!
Everyone is now funneled to a single file. No one complains, or says anything to the stopped driver, who essentially stopped in the middle of traffic.
No road rage, no nasty comments, just a few quizzical glances.
It means we must drive defensively all the time. While I have had a few close calls, I did have one accident that was caused because I was looking at Google Maps on my phone and while my head was done looking at the directions I had to go, a motorbike turned in front of me and I T-boned him.
What he did was stupid, but had I been paying attention, I would have bared left a bit and passed behind him.
Not too much damage, only a hole in my shirt and arm and on my foot and shoe, as it scrapped on the pavement. The other driver was very apologetic, as I was. He was up first and helped me and my moto up. This is very normal from what I have seen, though I must admit, I have seen very few accidents in my two years in Vietnam.
Also, the accidents I have seen have been all very minor.. that’s the main advantage of a motorbike community. The speeds are relatively low, 40 mph is going really fast. Most traffic is 15 to 30 depending upon traffic and conditions. Also, motorbikes are not too heavy, so not much mass.
During my accident, I was going about 15 mph. I broke my right handlebar mirror and that’s it.
Let me know by Liking or your comments if you like this type of video, if so, I have many more.
20200725 Anchoring on a Lee Shore in a Gale in Southeast Alaska – The Devil You Know…
As I have said before, this is my 7th year with Dauntless and 6 years with my 55# Delta anchor, so I sleep well at night on the hook.
We were cruising from Wrangell to Juneau, 148 nm, normally three days, but we wanted to do some halibut fishing and we didn’t need to be in Juneau until the following Wednesday, giving us 6 days.
We left Wrangell Friday morning on an out-going tide, giving us a push through most of Wrangell Narrows. Outside of Petersburg, at the north end of Wrangell Narrows, the current will abruptly change from a plus 1 knot to a minus 4 knot current. When this happens, we anchor just off the channel and wait a couple of hours for the slack. That’s what we did on this day also.
Even with our stop of a little less than two hours, we arrived in Farragut Bay about 20:00 Friday evening, dropped out shrimp pots and crab pot and anchored on the south side of the large bay. It is an open anchorage, but suitable for good weather with no swell.
We knew a storm was coming, with increased south-easterly winds throughout the day, Saturday and into Sunday. Our plan was to fish a bit Saturday, check out another anchorage, but ultimately head to our Read Island anchorage where we had anchored two times previously, one time with very strong southerly winds (which meant we were anchored off a lee shore)
We fished a few spots, but no luck, as the winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots, the seas inside Farragut Bay did also, with 3-foot waves. We decided to pull our shrimp pots, which in hindsight turned out to be a mistake. It was not fun with those winds and waves and stressed Ti out more than was necessary.
We then headed to the east side of Read Island, where we could anchor for the night, but first did another hour of fishing in a spot Ti had noticed a small fishing boat last time we were here.
About 17:00 Saturday, we were anchored in our Read Island cove. I let out 140 feet of chain plus our 30’ nylon snubber bridle. The spot we anchored was roughly the same as the first time when we had seeked shelter here during another storm earlier this summer. The initial anchor bearing was 80’ @ 243° in winds that were already SE to SW at 8 to 15 knots.
The previous storm had produced winds 15 to 25 knots in this cove. I was quite stressed as it was a lee shore, but we pretty much stayed right where we anchored. This informed my opinion for this coming storm.
We were anchored in 37 feet of water under the keel. Had it not been off a lee shore, I would have let out another 100+ feet of chain.
The winds were 15 knots gusting to 25 thru the evening. By nightfall, it was raining heavily and between the rain and the darkness, I could not even see the nearby shore a couple of hundred feet away off our beam. Thus, the lack of any decent videos or pictures.
Just before midnight the winds came down a few knots, but as they say, this was the proverbial calm before the storm, as by midnight, the winds were rapidly building again. It was to last almost 24 hours, with half that time with winds above 20 knots, peaking to 40.
I was happy to go to sleep before then, but Ti was a nervous nellie, waking me up every half hour to tell me the wind was blowing, and the boat was rocking a bit (though not really). The first couple of times I got up to check everything to maintain marital bliss, if nothing else, as it was pitch black outside, with heavy rain and wind. I could see nothing. At midnight, the anchor bearing was little changed in direction or distance.
While the winds were high in this cove, there was really no swell or waves, at most a half foot, making it a little rocky, but hardly noticeable in the scheme of things.
I went back to sleep, but Ti would still wake me up a dozen times until morning; I’d reassure here and go back to sleep.
Civil twilight was about 04:00, with sunrise 45 minutes later, so that’s when I got up again, as I could no longer use the excuse to Ti that it was dark out and I couldn’t see anything.
So I was up, in the pilot house, watching as the storm peaked about 06:00 with winds gusting to 40 knots and a steady 20 knots, but for the next 6 hours, while the wind gusts came down a bit, the steady winds were higher in the 25 to 30 knot range. Thus, with that wind pressure, the anchor bearing distance oscillated between 156 and 174 feet for much of the morning, before decreasing to 110’ to 130’ by midafternoon. (and where it had been the previous evening).
Looking at the little diagram I drew and my calculations, all the catenary was out at that point, 174 feet away, and we were simply being held by our Delta anchor. As the sun got higher in the sky ,I could see shallow rocks about one boats length away behind Dauntless. That confirmed my calculation to not let out more chain. I was also ready to start the engine should I notice us dragging. However, since we had not dragged at all, I was hesitating to move and thus possibly upset the balance we had obtained.
In analyzing the track on the Coastal Explorer C-Map chart and the Maretron wind graph, it was clear that we had spent about 12 hours between that 150 and 174 feet and by mid-afternoon Sunday, 22 hours after we had initially anchored, we had moved back to the original bearing and distance of 78 feet. Monday morning, when we finally hauled anchor after 36 hours, we had moved to within 60 feet of the anchor under calm winds.
All in all, I could not have been happier with how things developed and how rock steady we were under difficult conditions.
Would I do it all over again?
It’s hard to say. I would probably turn on the radar and set the alarms the next time. That would be more effective than anchor alarms (GPS based), which I don’t use anymore, because I find them ineffective.
My Alaska friends had told me that any location that may have been more sheltered from the wind would have been more open to waves and swell.
All in all, it’s hard to try to improve upon a good outcome. As they say, sometimes it’s better to stick with the Devil we Know, versus the one we don’t.
To see a little video of this, which I have not yet uploaded on my Dauntless at Sea You Tube channel, please visit the link below and subscribe.
Leaving Kutz Inlet Waterfall Earlier than Anticipated only to Tackle the Scary Watts Narrows by Day’s End
As previously written, Dauntless got underway earlier than I. I woke up a little after 6 a.m. only to discover that we were about a ¼ mile from our anchoring spot We were a ¼ mile from where we were the previous night. I can determine from the Coastal Explorer track that we started drifting about 02:00, so in 4 hours we drifted a quarter of a mile down the inlet about ¼ mile from shore with depth now more than 200’.
I started the engine and we got underway.
It was a typical summer day in the Inside Passage, cloudy with rain showers on and off all day. Once we got into the main channel, we had a quiet day moving north. About midafternoon, we were passed by a humpback whale heading south.
Three hours later, we were approaching Watts Narrows, which we needed to pass thru to enter Baker Inlet, where we would anchor for the night near yet another waterfall.
There are hundreds of passages called “narrow” in S.E. Alaska and British Columbia. Watts Narrows was the narrowest and scariest that I have encountered since Northern Europe!
I’ll let the two videos speak for themselves. I made videos from inside the pilot house showing the Coastal Explorer chart and the Raymarine radar, while also taking GO Pro video from outside.
Docking Dauntless at Heritage Harbor, Wrangell, Alaska
We went to drop one crab and two shrimp pots. This video shows the last 15 minutes are we return to the Heritage Harbor, Wrangell, Alaska.
We back into our slip for the convenience being able to get on and off the boat via the stern and swim platform, plus it’s a little better for the shore power connections.
A few things to note: With a single screw and no bow thruster, Dauntless has always been a handful to get in and out of tight places. But as time as gone on and I’ve bounced off enough objects, I am pretty skilled at backing her up. She has a left-handed prop, meaning the prop rotates counterclockwise. This causes a produced prop walk to port, I have to keep about 3° of starboard rudder to go in a straight line.
She can turn 180° to port in about 60-foot diameter but turning to starboard can be problematic as I discovered one day while trying to turn on the River Maas in the Netherlands. While the current was against me, a 30-knot wind from our stern made turning around to starboard impossible as I discovered halfway thru the turn. The bow just stopped coming around. Luckily, at this point, I had plenty of room to turn the other way.
A couple of hours later, having already forgotten what I just learned, I tried again in a small harbor to dock into the wind. (See the picture below ) To my horror, as the boat crabbed upstream and towards a boat tied perpendicular to the dock I was trying to reach, I rammed the dock with the bow, knowing that at least then, it would stop my progress towards this other boat 60 feet away.
Dauntless in Nijmegen. I had come on on the left (side of picture) to turn right to dock as you see, but wind was blowing 30 knots from astern (on the bow on).BTW, this was with a working bow thruster. Another reason I learned it’s best not to depend on one for when you really need it against high winds or current, it will be least effective.
Now when you see me make a 270° turn to port coming around to 90° to starboard from our original heading, you’ll understand why I take the long way around.