Dauntless Comes Alive

It’s hard to describe how a boat comes alive.

Sunset over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

31 hours into our passage to France, our second night out. it’s now 01:00 on the 15th of July 2016.  I’ve just relieved the “boys”, who had their first watch without me for the last 4 hours.  I had planned on sleeping another two hours, but I awoke and knowing the English Channel transit lanes were only an hour away, I figured I may as well get up.

Sunrise over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

Besides, nothing untoward had yet happened, and like the experienced manager taking the young prospect out of the game on a positive note, not letting mistakes happen as they fatigue.

Last night I had been alone, the boys sick as dogs. No, probably sicker.

Dauntless in Camarat
Dauntless in Camaret, France. Our first stop on the continent for 2016

I like the night, slicing through the water, the white mustache at the bow. There is a coziness the envelops the boat making us even more with nature.

We ran yesterday for 24 hours with the paravanes deployed.  We needed them.  The weather has been exactly as forecast, with strong NW winds 18 to 25 gusts to 32 for the first 12 hours after leaving Ireland.  That caused for some rough seas, 6 to 12 feet.

The next 12 hours were a bit better, with winds decreasing to 15 to 18, gusting to 25 and they were more northwesterly. Then finally, yesterday evening they had died to 5 to 9 knots, so the seas quieted to just a few feet.

Now, as forecast the winds are westerly at about 8 knots. Not bad, not bad at all.

Paravanes worked well.  I had changed the rigging a bit more since Scotland last month.  They now run 17 feet below the water line and they are considerably more effective than last year.

The hardest part has been saying goodbye to so many dear friends and nice people in Waterford and New Ross.  I think I’ll be back though, at least after we put a few miles on as we circle the globe.  But I’m sure after a number of years and many miles, I’ll be ready for northern Europe yet again.

Maretron Data for the Trip
Maretron Data for the Trip The first 24 hours were rough

Just south of Waterford, we passed an old friend, Fastnet Sound.  They dredge the channel just south of the Barrow Bridge, which has a tendency to silt up in the spot where the rivers Suir and Barrow meet.  They then dock for the night across the river in Waterford.

They took a picture with showed up on Marine Traffic showing us leaving, with me on the foredeck taking picture of them.  You can see that picture at Dauntless taken by Fastnet Sound leaving Waterford on the River Suir.

Well, it’s now Sunday, 48 hours after our arrival in Camaret France.

It’s taken me this long to recover. I must be getting old.  I slept Friday night for 12 hours, having only slept for about three the two days previously.

Dauntless as ever performed flawlessly and this time, this passage, so did the captain.  No incidents, accidents, or other shenanigans, yours truly has been known for.

Coming up France.  French boaters may be a mess, but the food is divine!

Here are two videos of the crossing.  Sorry nothing spectacular.

 

 

 

The Smell of Nothing

Was never so sweet.

How do I know it will be better tomorrow?  The weatherman told me of course.
How do I know it will be better tomorrow? The weatherman told me of course.

Just picked up 2411 liters, 637 gallons, of gas oil, a.k.a diesel.  That’s 4533 pounds of fuel, added to the 400 pounds she already had.  Dauntless now sits a few inches lower than before, but looks ready to go.

And the engine room smells as sweet as ever, with no fuel smell, just the smell of new batteries and cables.

Now you wonder why all the fuss?  Isn’t re-fueling supposed to be easy and routine?  Well, if you are driving a car I suppose it is.  I’ve filled cars with fuel thousands of times. But on Dauntless it’s been less than 30 times and on Dauntless, nothing is ever routine.

A few of the shenanigans that have taken place while fueling:

  • Being showered by a volcano of fuel at the Portsmouth, NH fish dock.  Luckily, no fishing boat was waiting as I showered and got out of my fuel soaked clothes.
  • Succumbing to the fear expressed by my friends about running out of fuel, I purposely overfilled the tanks by about 10 gallons before leaving Rhode Island.  This was soon followed by the little fuel runoff coming from the port side tank, a few of those extra gallons soon were in the bilge.
  • The most recent leak last summer that lead to the New Ross Experience.  Much like the Jimi Hendrix Experience in Seattle, but more expensive.

And after each debacle, the next fueling are filled with dread; what will happen next?

So, as you can see, I have every reason to be elated about smelling nothing in the engine room.

Best of all, the 637 gallons cost half of what I paid to fill the tanks two years ago in the fall of 2014.

Tomorrow, with a full fuel and water load, Dauntless is ready to take care of business as we head south for France, Spain & Portugal.

Dauntless faces south; Brian Boru north.
Dauntless faces the Brian Boru. Tomorrow they say goodbye for a long time; hopefully not forever.

 

 

 

Waiting for Weather

Monday 21Z Update

I keep on looking for excuses not to leave, but Mother Nature, continues to send warning signals that I best be on my way.  Right now, the best 42 hour window is from the 13th at 0300L, putting us just off of Brest on the 14th at 22L.

A night time entry, but what else is new!

It’s the only way I can maiximize the good wind conditions as the ridge moves east .

By the way, windyty.com provides the same data as Earth Null School below: windyty.com for Irish Sea nad English Channel

I do like their format, but sometimes windyty has too much data for my liking, especially as it changes.

==========================================================================

 

So, in our last days in Waterford, saying goodbye to some really dear people, having to wait for weather is not so bad.

THe circle is just south of our current location. The arrow is near our destination just west of Brest.
THe circle is just south of our current location. The arrow is near our destination just west of Brest.

Presently the winds are gusting to 30 and we are snug as a bug in a rug. Nothing as sweet as riding out a storm in port, tied to a dock.

As I have mentioned many times, for short term planning, I’ll usually just look at the Null School data set, whose link is:

Current Surface Winds

And here is the current surface map to help you understand the wind pattern better:

Atlantic Sfc Analysis

I’ve been watching this for the last few weeks, at first just to get an idea of the timing of the systems and the strength of the winds.

Until yesterday, the prognosis (progs) seemed to indicate a thin ridge of high pressure passing eastward mid-week. Then yesterday, it showed a nice ridge (indicative of fair weather and weaker winds) on Thursday and Friday, with the high pressure area centered just west of Brest.

Now this afternoon, after the 12Z run of weather models, my ridge of high pressure has been squeezed to almost nothing. So for my 2 day trip, this now looks like a 24 hour weather window:

WNW winds down to 15 knots (map shows km/hr)

It’s for this reason, (that the progs can change significantly) I pretty much do not look at any other weather products routinely.  There are a number of reasons for this, in short, they all get their weather from the same source and more importantly, the different forecast models may differ in terms of space and time; but for someone not looking at them constantly, as in a full time job, forget it.  There is simply too much information to digest fine tune a forecast that much.  In addition, there is no point in looking at more detailed forecasts because by now, I know what to look for.

Though if I was travelling locally, like north along the coast, then I would check the marine forecast for that area. But if was just saying what I already could deduce myself, in other words no real local conditions to consider, then I don’t bother looking at it again.

Dauntless needs a little less than two full days. 42 hours, to get from Waterford to Brest, France.  So I’ve been watching for the last few weeks, whenever I have internet, to see how often a two-day window appears.

Not very often.  There may have been one a few weeks ago, but since that, I’ve only seen good weather windows of about a day.  Now, when I say good weather, originally I was looking only for winds on our stern at 15 knots or less. The Krogen runs really well in such conditions, rolling as she is wont to do, but the paravanes reduce most of that.

As I was watching, I had even settled for 20 knots astern, since I saw so few periods with less than 15.  Also, since our course to Brest will be 160 True, winds from dead astern would be 160 +180 = 340 or northwesterlies.  NW winds occur after a cold frontal passage.

So it’s easy, just wait for the front to pass and head out.

But it’s not so easy, as I learned 30 years ago while forecasting the weather for northern Europe and Germany in particular.  The North Atlantic is a true spawning ground for low pressure systems.  They line up like freight trains, from North America to Northern Europe. And they are moving quickly, averaging 4 times the speed of Dauntless or about 600 nm a day.

But as the fronts approach Europe, they start to weaken as they lose the upper air support that is centered over the North Atlantic.  Then with the passage of the cold front, instead of the usual 2 to 3 days of high pressure with NW winds and cold temperatures that one gets in the mid-west, one gets a reprieve of only 6 hours, before the winds jump around to the south or southwest in from the of the next cold front due to arrive in about 18 hours.

It was exactly the pattern I got into in the last three days of my Atlantic Passage two years ago.  But then, I wasn’t thinking of the overall pattern, but instead was just so glad to see a few rays of sunshine as the winds dropped to 15 to 18 knots.

Halleluiah

I remember making a snack thinking the worst was over.  I was able to find the banging wine bottle.  So as the winds picked up again in the next few hours, I hardly noticed.  I was like the lobster in the pot of cold water wholeheartedly noticed the water getting hotter and hotter until it’s too late.

But unlike the lobster, I know I’ll be safe no matter what, though I may be miserable.  That’s because the first step is to find and have a boat that can do what you want it to do.

 

 

 

The Great Battery Caper

After months of planning, thinking and just plain fretting, the batteries are in and Dauntless is no longer acting like a one legged duck.

Another Gorgeous Sunset
Another Gorgeous Sunset

How do one legged ducks act you wonder? Without the engine running or being plugged into shore power, we had only a few minutes’ worth of electrical power.

Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries
Two of the Four New Yuasa Batteries

And I’d go to sleep, not with visions of sugar plum faeries (or better yet, leggy milf’s) dancing in my head, but with pictures of wiring diagrams and this and that.

So, having found replacement batteries in Kilmore Quay’s Kehoe Marine last month, they got four Yuasa Cargo Deep Cycle GM batteries that were of 8-D size, with 230 amp-hours each for me. Weighing in at 55 kg, or 115 lbs. each and delivered to the Kehoe boys at New Ross Boat Yard (yes, of course they are related).

Waiting for high tide, when the dock was only a few feet above the floating pontoon, we got the batteries on to the boat without dropping them into the water.

Then, the hardest part physically, getting the old batteries out.  Perhaps with the knowledge that we could not hurt them, it took us less than an hour to get them out.

I then spent the next few hours re-configuring how the batteries were connected.  I essentially made a positive and negative stud that consolidated the all the connections before they went to the batteries.

My friend Ed had given me a new article about the optimum way to connect multiple batteries that was slightly superior to the way I had the older batteries connected.  I had had 8 new battery cables made, 2 for each battery, each 2.3 meters long (about 7 feet).  This allowed the four batteries to have the exact same length cable to each from the charging source.  By having the same cable lengths, the resistance should be equal and thus each battery should get exactly the same amount of charge.

That took a few hours, with a panicked call to Dave Arnold, the electrical guru (who else would be driving around an all-electric car for the 1980’s!).

His call reaffirmed the use of the existing terminal block and Perko switch that was used to switch the start to the house batteries if needed.

Finally, after 8 hours, I was ready for the new batteries.  I rigged an Amstel line around the hand railing to the pilot house, thus we could lower the batteries into the engine room and the only struggle was to pull them into place while lowering at the same time.

Two hours later, all was in place, hooked up and ready to go.

All the boat grounds go to a common terminal, then one large cable to the boat side of the Victron battery Monitor shunt.  Then one large cable to another terminal post which has all four negative battery cables.

Positives are similar, in that the inverter/charger, the positive from the alternator and the positive from the terminal block (which has a number of inputs from the isolators and thus indirect from the other battery chargers) go to a terminal post, then all 4 battery cables are attached.

In the next days/weeks, as I physically tie the lines and organize a bit more, I will make a new electrical diagram.

Now, according to my calculations, all the rest of the year should be downhill!

 

 

A Quickie in New York

I wish!

Caffebene in Ft. Lee, a really nice place to spend time
Caffebene in Ft. Lee, a really nice place to spend time
Each morning I watch the feeding frenzy of Blue Jays, Cardinals, squirrels and chipmunks.
Each morning I watch the feeding frenzy of Blue Jays, Cardinals, squirrels and chipmunks.

But it was a quick trip, 5-days, to New York to tie up some loose ends.

Some lines always need a good whipping.

I also got to spend some time with some good friends, both new and old.

And best of all, I ate Korean food 3x, Japanese 2x, pizza 2x and lastly French once; best of all, I ate so well and gained no weight.  Lekker.

When I get back to Dauntless tomorrow, I’ll be doing the preparing to head south to France, Spain and Portugal for the next 5 months.

Such a short trip may seem pointless, but I leave NY today feeling much better than on arrival.  Being able to articulate my goals and reflecting on them with friends makes a big difference.

During June, having my friends Brian, Dan and Robin on Dauntless, really helped me put a focus on my goals for the coming years.  It is great to have people around as enthusiastic as I.

Then, coming to NYC, talking with friends, facilitated the final touches on the plan.  As articulated in my last post, by adding 10 months in S.E. Alaska, everything finally feels like it’s coming together.

Not having to spend all of 2017 rushing someplace will allow me to pause and smell the roses.

Having Dauntless staying put for 6 to 8 months, allows me to visit friends in Europe and probably take a trip to reconnoiter Asia.

I feel unburdened and that’s a good feeling.

So now I can concentrate on the important stuff:  What’s with these cats.  Here we have a billion-dollar company and they must Photoshop the cover for all their kitty liter bags.

Clearly Photshopped
Clearly Photoshopped

Do these people even have cats?  One would think someone in this company would think they should show some indication that they understand cats.

Must be dog people.

So, I’ll end on this poster. It fit my two cats perfectly at least in their first year as kittens.

Bad Kitties
Bad Kitties

A link to the site for T-shirt Bad Kitties T-Shirt

A Cardinal coming for breakfast
A Cardinal coming for breakfast

A Man with a Plan

 

The Atlantic Trade Winds
The Atlantic Trade Winds (click on the links below to see the winds move. Click on “Earth” in the lower left corner [of the link, not my picture] to change parameters)
Well any number of plans; the current one, 15 months to Japan, now in the 29th day since its start date.

But like all plans, a plan is good only until first contact with the enemy.  For Dauntless it’s headwinds, or better said, for Richard it’s the hobby horse ride headwinds produce on Dauntless.  The fact that we are consuming half of our fuel, just to go up and down waves, adds to the sick feeling the ride produces.

Yep, it’s a lose, lose, lose situation for all: the timeline, my wallet and my health.

Dauntless in the meantime just motors along, oblivious to my misery.

For my long range planning, other than Jimmy Cornell’s books and pilot charts, on a daily basis I pretty much only look at this: link to current Atlantic map

This shows the current surface winds over the Atlantic.  You can see that draw a line from Gibraltar to the Canaries to Barbados and the trade winds are running strong as they have all winter.  So no problems there.

wp-1466993359075.jpg
The Eastern Pacific showing strong northerly winds from British Columbia to Southern California. Ugh!

(side note, there is simply no point in looking at anything more specific for any period more than two weeks away.  Even when I was waiting to cross the North Sea from Norway to Scotland, a three-day trip, I read the marine forecast, but really only looked at this site to figure out when I would have at least a two-day window, which is what I got)

 Now, this is the problem, this is the Eastern Pacific, link to current western Pacific map

I’ve been looking at this about once a day since fall.  Only in the past month have the northerly winds let up south of Mexico and Central America.

My current 15-month plan would require me to be able to travel north from the Panama Canal to Kodiak Alaska in 170 days or about 35 miles per day.  Doable with favorable winds, but I’ve been watching and the winds are not favorable, not at all.  At this point, at best, I think a quarter of the days would be “good” cruising days and that may be too generous.

The other problem with this current plan is that I would probably be able to rush north out of Central America, but then get stuck in Mexico and the coast of the western U.S. for months on end.  Thus passing by places I would like to spend time only to be stuck in places I don’t.

So, Plan B.

I will add a year to the Cruise Plan, wintering in Southeast Alaska.

Many boaters do it, I know it somewhat, but only from the perspective of the Alaska Marine Highway (Ferry) system.

Thus I can spend more time in Central America at the height of the winter when the northerlies are strongest and I can spend 10 months in British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, some of the prettiest cruising areas in the world, full of fjords, whales, birds and bears!

The weather is not that bad and having visited Juneau and Sitka many times back in the 90’s, it will be nice to go back on my own bottom.

 

 

A Day in the Life & Children of Iron

The Waterford Swans on Dawn Patrol
The Waterford Swans on Dawn Patrol

The Day started at 06:00 with the pair of Waterford Swans and their new cygnets doing a Dawn Patrol.

The A330-300 that Delta flies on the Dublin to JFK run has a Japanese flavor on the entertainment system.

ON the road to Dublin
ON the road to Dublin

wp-1466730889266.jpg

Approaching Dublin Airport
Approaching Dublin Airport

Thus I’ve watched a few memorable Japanese movies in the last few months flying over the North Atlantic.  Today’s memorable film was called, “Children of Iron”  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5162716/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_1

The Poster for Children of Iron
The Poster for Children of Iron

Beware that the Japanese Times story about this is a bit of a spoiler and not that accurate to begin with.

But I can tell you that one of the adults tells the two children that since they are a child of iron, they must always smile and basically put a good face on everything because that is what adults must do.

I am clumsy in my explanation, but I did feel it was quite poignant.

Maybe in anticipation of having Dauntless in Japan, I have been fascinated by the creativity of the Japanese in both the written word as well as film.  Just don’t tell my Korean friends.

Ireland from 10,000 feet
Ireland from 10,000 feet

As I drove on the Belt Parkway heading west to the Verrazano Bridge and ultimately New Jersey, I was

The Coney Island Subway Yard just off the Belt Parkway
The Coney Island Subway Yard just off the Belt Parkway

amazed at some of the grandiose bridge construction that has taken place in the last few years.  This route takes me right past not only my mother’s house, but also her sister’s house (the next to last sibling that died a few years before my mother, the last of the 7 DeLuca siblings) and my cousin’s house of that same sister.

 

Waterford, Ireland – Day 22

Dauntless in Waterford, June 2016.
Dauntless in Waterford, June 2016.

The biggest sigh of relief; bigger than having crossed an ocean.

D on the Waterford dock.
D on the Waterford dock.

I know it’s hard to believe, but think about it.  Boat yards have far more scary unknowns than oceans!  I knew I would cross the Atlantic in 4 weeks; Dauntless in the boat yard?  Boat yards are the Hotel California for boats; many enter and a good number never leave.

But Dauntless is jaunty, so that’s not going to happen to her; ever, never.

Dauntless left Waterford last October, expecting to be back in a few weeks.  Instead it took 10 months and I spend a winter worrying:

Would the leaking fuel tank be fixed?

Waterford, looking towards Dauntless
Waterford, looking towards Dauntless

What about the crack in the hull?

Should I spend the money to paint the hull?

And if so, what colors?

Returning to Ireland the first of April did little to assuage my fears.  A windy, wet winter (what else is there in Ireland?) seemed to make everything go slower.  Even the inside work, fuel tank, had not been done.  Michael & Stephen of the New Ross Boat Yard assured me everything would be done and not to worry.

I worried anyway, but Michael was right and made sure everything was done: On Time and On Target.

This will be our last two weeks in Waterford.  It will give me a chance to say goodbye to friends and people who have become like family for me in the last two years.  Remember the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker?  Johnny, the manager of the City Dock was here to help with the lines.  He did look a bit gaunt though and I discovered that he is training for a trek thru the Himalayas next year.

So since leaving New Ross on May 29th, Dauntless and I have travelled 22 days to Scotland and return. 157 engine hours and about 800 nautical miles.

I’ve ordered new batteries and they will be delivered next week, just after I get back from NYC.

Then, it’s South & West to the Future.

 

 

 

 

 

Southbound and Down

Day 16 – 19 Scotland to S.E. Ireland, Kilmore Quay

Evening at sea with the winds behind us.
Evening at sea with the winds behind us.

We are running before the wind.

Our planned stop, at a marina just north of Dublin, has been scrubbed. With northerly winds increasing in strength, it seems best to continue due south, instead of turning southwest towards shore.  Winds are 18 gusting to 30.

Chart showing us driving around Copeland Island looking for a less windy place to anchor
Chart showing us driving around Copeland Island looking for a less windy place to anchor

We left Scotland on Day 17, late morning to take advantage of the strong, 1 to 3 knot, currents.  The plan was to travel until evening, then anchor off of Copeland Island, just to the southeast of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

By that evening the winds were strong out of the NE and as you can see from the picture of our chart, we drove around quite a bit to try to find the most sheltered spot to anchor.

Copeland Island from Dauntless
Copeland Island from Dauntless

The idea was that we would wait out and sleep the 5 or 6 hours until he tide turned again.  With shallow water and rocks surrounding this island, it was a stressful half hour.

Finally finding the most sheltered place we could with winds only 12 to 15 knots, we anchored in 33 feet of water. I put out 260 feet of chain and added my new nylon

Looking west towards Ireland
Looking west towards Ireland

snubber.

It turned out to not be pretty good anchorage, but with my house battery bank totally shot, I had to run the generator all night.  In my cabin, I can hardly hear it, but just the thought of the inefficiency and waste led to a fitful sleep.  With a ETD of 03:00, at 02:00 I decided, let’s get this show on the road, got up and hauled anchor.  The anchor had found about 50 pounds of kelp/seaweed, so it took a bit to get that off, but we were finally underway towards Dublin at 03:13.

Running at night
Running at Dusk

As the morning became day, the winds got stronger from the due north.

Running due south now, with the wind right behind us, the rolling is cut in half again.  A much nicer ride, and actually more direct for our destination of Waterford.

To have gone southwest towards Dublin, only to have to spend a few hours tomorrow going southeast, again with strong northerly winds, was a fool’s errand.

THe Maretron Data shows the last three days of rolling, the second and longest, being the worst.
The Maretron Data shows the last three days of rolling, the second and longest, being the worst.

I do a lot of errands.  I am trying to less foolish ones.

With the change of crew last weekend, Brian leaving, Dan & Robin arriving, I have had less time to write.  Brian is an experienced and accomplished Kadey Krogen boater.  He has a new KK48, so our boats have a lot in common.  It’s interesting to see both the similarities and the differences. A Compare and Contrast, in teacher talk.

Arklow Dock
Arklow Dock

I think we both learned a lot from each other and I really appreciated his perspective on the capabilities of my “old” boat.

As the day went on, the conditions became worse, confirming our decision to run though the entire day south.

Approaching the shoal area south of Kilmore Quay
Approaching the shoal area south of Kilmore Quay

At the worst, winds for much of the afternoon evening were 18 knots gusting to 28 to 31.  Seas were a bit lumpy in that there were 6 to 8 foot waves from the northeast, along with the northerly seas.  Not a great ride, but certainly better than 3 weeks ago, when I was heading into the same winds and waves.

We got to Arklow about 23:00 and tied to a concrete dock.  Finally shutting down the engine at 23:31

A Real Trawler leaves Kilmore Quay
A Real Trawler leaves Kilmore Quay

Scotland to Arklow: 28.7 hours, 177 nm, plus 6 hours at anchor, averaging a little more than 6 knots.

The worst was behind us and I was looking forward to our net nightly stops, Kilmore Quay, New Ross, as the Kehoe boys, Stephen and Michael will put on a bbq for us and finally Waterford, where my spot from last fall is waiting for us.

Glad I kept the gate key.

The Chart and Maretron data at the dock at Arklow
The Chart and Maretron data at the dock at Arklow

 

Day 8 & 9 –Two Shenanigans for the Price of One

wp-1465589015160.jpg
Dauntless and Kadey Krogen in Scotland

Leaving the Irish Sea behind us, we seem to have left the bad weather also.

The last three days in Scotland have been summer-like: light breezes, blue skies and warm temperatures in the high 50’s and even low 60’s.   In fact, temperatures have been so warm that in Ireland they issued a “heat warning” telling people to be careful, put on sunblock and take it easy, as temperatures were forecast to be 19 to 21C or 66 to 70 F!

I’m not making this up nor even exaggerating.wp-1465589015135.jpg

Yesterday, we even saw a whale, two seals, one dolphin and a bunch of birds.  First whale I’ve seen since the mid-Atlantic two years ago with Julie.

Life goes on, whales have to eat (and avoid Japanese whalers) and Dauntless has to travel (and avoid rocks and other hard things).

Dauntless on a Mooring
Dauntless on a Mooring

My friend Brian form the USA is with me this week.  He also has a Kadey Krogen, though his is new.  Much like with Marinus and Marta last year, the Krogen owners in Holland and Germany, it’s hard not to gush about our boats and how they simply take us wherever we want to go.

No questions, no muss, no fuss.  Seas get big, we just hunker down and keep on going.

I wonder what they make here
I wonder what they make here

 

Owner gets confused, we give him easily recognizable signals to get his act in gear and solve the problem.  Thus we get to this morning’s shenanigans.

Dauntless has four large (8D) batteries.  They are going on 8 or 9 years old.  One already died last summer. When a battery goes bad,

Souveniors
Souvenirs

it sucks energy from the good batteries it is connected to.  Since its winter rest the three remaining batteries have not acted normally, thus one or more of them is also going bad.  In fact, all three could be bad.

So two days ago, I isolated the primary culprit, hoping that the remaining two were good.  Isolated means it’s just sitting there unconnected to anything.  A dead weight, all 110 pounds of it.

This morning, I was dismayed to see the voltage of the batteries was below 12 volts.  That’s bad; very bad.

When I started the engine to charge the batteries, that’s when the fun started.  First the voltage went to 14 (normal), but within seconds back down to 10.  That made no sense, that implies a problem with the regulator or the alternator.

I shut down the engine, not wanting to cause any damage to electrical parts and put on my thinking cap to try to figure out what was going on and how I could fix it.

In a true coincidence, I’d been recounting to Brian and incident I had had with my Alfa Romeo Montreal eons ago.  I had shorted out and thus broke one of the ignition systems (it had two) and I had to limp down to Italy on only 4 of 8 cylinders.

Thus I thought the first place to look was at the battery bank, where the batteries are located and connected to each other.  Sure enough, within seconds I feel the ground cable can be moved by hand.  Didn’t seem like a lot, but it could explain the problem.

After tightening the cables, all happy that I found an obvious problem, I go to start the engine and for the first minute everything looked fine and normal. I’m watching the battery monitor which tells me not only voltage but also how much energy the batteries are giving or getting.  With them being discharged so much, they should be getting a lot now.

So I’m watching the numbers, the number of amps, rise: 5, 10, 16, 20, 25 exactly as it should.

Then, just like that, I see minus 40! Immediately followed by a low voltage alarms from all over the place.

I kill the engine again. Boats have at least two electrical systems.  Dauntless has two, the 12 volts system just like a car and a 120 volt system like your house.  The engine alternator makes 12 volts, the Inverter changes it to 120.

I did the only thing I could do.  I turned off the 120 system totally.  I needed the engine to run obviously, but Dauntless does not need any 120-volt power.

Turning off the 120 system, solved the problem.  The batteries were now charging at their normal rate and the voltage was fine.

The 120 system has every appliance on its own breaker (a combination fuse and switch). I turned off everything before I turned the 120 power back on. Now it’s just a process of elimination, turn 1 on, see what happens, turn 2 on see what happens, etc.

As I got to the water heater, all became obvious even before I hit the switch. Last year, I had changed the circuit the water heater was on so that I could have hot water via the solar panels and inverter on circuit number 2.

When I was docked in marinas, I had the water heater plugged into the shore power.  But the previous night, I had run the generator and had connected the water heater to the boat system.  Therefore, it now mattered that I had not turned off the switch when I turned off the generator last night.

Thus as the batteries were being charged, once the voltage got high enough after a minute or two, the Inverter decides to send power to the water heater, thus the -40 amps reading.

As stupid as I felt, the euphoria one feels by solving a problem on your own in the middle of nowhere, overwhelms any sense of guilt, remorse and even stupidity.

One thing about boating, even if you caused the problem, you get double credit for solving the problem.

Day 8 & 9 Summary, Scotland:  Laphroig, Lagavullin, Ardbeg, Talisker, Loch Harport

Egads, I think there is a whiskey (Scotch) in every port.  What a coincidence!

Beautiful weather, fair skies, light winds, flat seas. (I love flat seas, amoung other things, some of which are flat!) and some whiskey for medicinal purposes only.

Day 8: 74 nautical miles (nm), 9 hours, 33 min running time, average speed 7.7 knots

Day 9: 51 nm, 7:41, avg speed 6.6 knots

D+7 We Had a Wonderful Day Today

The Caldonian MacBrayne Ferry.  This was the first ferry we took in Scotland 8 years ago. Life Happens.
The Caldonian MacBrayne Ferry. This was the first ferry we took in Scotland 8 years ago. Life Happens.

Light winds, flat seas and we even saw a whale.  The first whale I’ve seen since the Atlantic crossing two years ago. Sorry no picture.wp-1465069798911.jpg

The beautiful conditons make the miwery I went through to get up to Scotland in those ferocious winds and wnaves worth while.

Scotland is one of the most beautiful cruising areas in Europe. Green hills, many isolated islands, and a lot of sheep; what more can one ask for?

Brian, another Kadey Krogen owner, and I have spent the last week getting Dauntless ready for action.  This was made harder by the fact that we were underway as often as we could be to get to Scotland sooner rather than later.

Sheep and Lambs
Sheep and Lambs

And while I have not eaten haggis yet, I have drunk more scotch whiskey than usual and am even drinking the ouyde jenever that Henk and Ivonne brought me last year.  Honestly, I like it as much as most whiskeys.

Tonight we are on the hook for the first time in 2016 in a quiet cove on the island of Coll called Arinagour. Yes, the home of the first men, or close to it!

Today’s cruise: 74 nm, 9 hr., 33 min, age speed 7.7 knots.

 

Dauntless Lurks in the Dusk

While Dauntless is preparing for her debut, my back is complaining that it can’t support the lifestyle my mind demands.wp-1464291867861.jpg

So I thought the analogy of a car stuck in the snow, with spinning tires was a pretty good.  But now I have a little additional bit.

Last night, before bed, I wrote about the simple 3 goals in 3 days’ plan.  Still has a ring to it. I got about half a day’s stuff done; only took me 18 hours.  At this rate, I have my three days of goals done sometime next month.  But I digress.

Well, my mind was having none of it.  At 4 a.m. this morning, it decided that I had to also rig the new rocker stoppers.  Things that replace the paravanes birds while the boat is at anchor and not moving.  So in the dreamy state of half sleep, half awake, my mind started spinning about new riggings.

And spinning and spinning.

Finally, at 5 a.m., still not sleeping, I decided to get up.  Within minutes of actually being awake, I realized I had just spent the last hour spinning my wheels fruitlessly.

But then I thought, was I really spinning my wheels?  I think in that half-awake state, it’s like the car is still stuck in the snow and you are stepping on the gas, revving the engine, but going no place.  But the wheels are not even spinning, you may think they are spinning, but the car is actually not even in gear!

Because within seconds of actually being awake, I realized I had no issue, as I had not planned on rigging the rocker stoppers any time soon any way.