Oh, How I Miss My Navionics’s Charts

Costa Rica Day 3

Approaching C & J as the sun sets.
Don’t Do This at Home

As soon as my eyes opened due to the light thru my porthole.  I got up; it was time to get out of here. My night was not as restful as it should have been.  I was eager to get to the next stop which as I had read about on Active Captain, virtually guaranteed me an easy, peaceful, steady night.

I use Active Captain to search the best places for the current weather and sea conditions.  In North America, I find it indispensable.

I was so happy to get underway.  If you are going to be rolling around, you may as well do it while making miles.  I had a long day ahead of me, so I got going, before I made my Vietnamese coffee.

My Vietnamese coffee. The grounds go in the strainer on top of the cup.

Which will be another crisis looming in the distant horizon, the day I run out of Vietnamese coffee.  I really like it. I can make it very, very strong, almost like espresso, but it is not bitter.  At some point, I may think about importing it into the US.

But I digress.

It’s 06:30, I’m heading WNW to get around the cape’s further north and it’s a grey day.  With broken clouds, only a few patches of sky and rain showers from the previous evening’s thunderstorms lingering to the north and west.

I don’t mind the storms.  It all depends on the winds.  As

I approach C & J. Dropping the anchor now

long as the winds are favorable I’m happy.  On those days that I have choice as to leave or not depending on the weather, I pretty much only look at the winds. On a boat, the winds, speed and direction, are what makes a difference.  The boat is made to get wet, I don’t worry about rain.

Today the winds are light and while it’s a long day, it wasn’t bad at all.  As I arrive at my planned anchoring location, I am a bit perplexed because it doesn’t look like what I’d pictured from the charts.

Or I should say chart.  In one of the more bizarre aspects of my mind, I’ll make a plan and then when it comes time to execute, forget the main reason I made the plan in the first place. I can only chuckle.

In this case, for the last 4 years, I make it a rule to always have two electronic charts available.  The primary is on the boat’s computer and runs with Coastal Explorer, my navigation program.  I’m running C-Map (ex-Jeppesen) charts mainly because they are the most cost effective for world-wide coverage.

This is the Navionics Depiction that i DID NOT have available. Dumb ME. Notice it marks more rocks and the power line better

My secondary is Navionics running on my tablet. Also, extremely cost effective for tablets.

Except I left my tablet, who was dying from battery failure in Viet man, planning on getting a cheap tablet while in NYC.  But then I decided while in NYC to save a few pennies, since I’m only spending thousands of dollars a month on Dauntless.

I forgot about my Navionics charts.

Until now. At some point, I will do a review of the two charts, C-Map versus Navionics, but now, I just missed the other’s perspective.

Just then with the sun setting, a small open boat comes by and I decide to overcome my shyness and ask in my crappy Spanish for his recommendation for a good anchoring spot.

I do and he does.  I follow him about a quarter of a mile and he puts me on the spot.

In 26 feet of water I put out the anchor and snubber (I always use a snubber bridle, that takes the chain load off the bow pulpit and puts it to the bow hawse pipes and cleats).

This spot was ideal.  Even with the slight current, the boat felt like it was on land. It would slide around 90° every 6 hours, but the movement was not even noticeable.

I stayed here two nights.  In the 12 overnight hours, the boat moved 0.01 nm; the previous night, the boat moved (while on anchor) 1.7 nm!

I slept 10 hours straight and spent the next day doing more cleaning, organizing and minor stuff.

 

Day 3 Summary: Engine Start 06:20, stop 18:07; uw 11:39, 78.1 nm, avg speed 6.7 kt. Average Roll while underway, +7° to -9°, delta of 16°; extreme rolls delta 20° (not bad, half of what it was crossing the Atlantic)

Anchored off Isla Cedros & Jesusita in 26 feet water with 120’ of chain out.

 

A Long Day & Longer Night

Central America Cruise Summary Day 2

My Trip on the First Day

Tuesday, 18 July.  After waking up so many times I stopped counting, I was glad to see the dawn so I could get out of this spot.  Now I’ll tell you why:

I had gone to bed by 20:00 hours, having spent more than an hour futzing with anchors and snubbers.

Dauntless was as disheveled as ever.  I had to clear a line thru containers and chairs that had moved around the salon. The stern deck was a mess also.

Coming into my first anchorage

When I first put out the bow anchor, it was obvious the Krogen would not lie into the wind, but perpendicular to it.  Probably caused by currents in the bay, but it made the rolling even worse than it had been the previous 12 hours. But the next anchorage was 35 miles away, another 7 hours. I could not go on, I had to make this work.

First, I tried attaching the snubber like to the midships cleat instead of the bow as is normal. I also put out another 50 feet of chain after the snubber. My idea was to put some pressure on the side of the boat to try to hold it into the waves better. (This may have worked better had I connected it to the stern).

An hour later, I realized this was not working.  I started the engine briefly to get us into the waves, then threw out the stern anchor on short scope, hoping this would hold us in the right direction.

For about 15 minutes it seems to significantly reduce the roll.  I had made a pot of beans, corn and hot dog.

My dinner

That was my no so healthy dinner, but as I told Trinh, I hadn’t passed any gardens today. Besides humans can live a long time on a single food.  It wouldn’t kill me to not have balanced meal for a while.

I tried to go to sleep, but the boat had this terrible movement.  There was a rolling oscillation that would get worse after about 4 rolls, then die off for about 30 seconds before doing it again. No way could I get to sleep with that.  I got up numerous times to see if we had moved. We had moved but the bow anchor was doing fine.

I decided to move the snubber back to the bow. That helped the motion a bit.

Then an hour later, hearing a big bang, I jumped up to make sure we hadn’t crashed into the small fishing boats about 500 feet away. No, we hadn’t. But I then proceeded to pull in the stern anchor as I thought it must be contributing or causing the unnatural corkscrew rolling of the boat.

It seemed to work.  Now we were just held by the bow anchor.  Still rolling around and swinging on the arc from the anchor, I decided to brace myself in bed and just not worry.  I’ve possibly only dragged once with this anchor, so go to sleep.

That I did by about 01:00.  As the dawn broke a little after 5, I was up.  I decided not to deal with the mess in the salon until my next stop. But within minutes I found myself moving containers, chairs, getting the restraining straps and bungee cords and making everything snug.  A sweaty 20 minutes later, it was all done and I felt so much better.

Looking at the actual winds, they were easterly at 4 knots, so decided to press on and get out of this hell hole.  Clearly, I’ve been in worse anchorages, the ones you must leave sooner rather than later. But this one was pretty bad.

Got underway, 342° at 35 miles.  Should be there in 6 hours.  No need for paravanes, as the wind is out of the east (direction of the coast, about 6 miles away) the seas are relatively flat, with just the SW swell at about 2 feet and 10 second period.

And the second day ended as well as it started. Oh, we had more anchoring follies, but isn’t that why we pay the price of admission?

Day 2 Summary: Engine Start 06:08, stop 12:00; uw 5:52, 34.3 nm, avg speed 6.6 kt.

Anchored in 21 feet water with 100’ of chain out.

 

 

 

Dauntless Starts Moving North

Central America Cruise Summary Day 1

The View from the Krogen Pilothouse as we head out

Monday, 17 July 2017.  Up at the crack of dawn. I had told Sergio, we were leaving at 06:00.  I hadn’t heard from him in two days, so… that normally means he changed his mind.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve corresponded with people who are so excited, over time and frequently, only to have them disappear or to tell me they have to wash their cat the day of departure.

So far, the score is 1, who turned up as promised to 7 no-shows.  Mind you, all these people contacted me first!

Chantal, the one who did show was great. Even left her alone on Dauntless for a week in the Bahamas. Oh well.

My friends who have joined me have all been great and they made the 2016 Cruise of the Baltic, the Baltic Republics, Poland, Sweden and Finland, so enjoyable.

I start with all this because it influenced my decision to leave, on a day that I simply should have stayed put.

I was anxious to get this show on the road. I was burning days and hadn’t even move a mile north, yet had almost 2000 miles to go.

So, when I realized Sergio was going to be a no-show, I wasn’t unhappy.  Being alone is actually far less stressful for me is many ways:

  • I’m not responsible for someone else’s life
  • I don’t have to feed them or explain how not to screw up the toilet
  • I don’t have to worry about them getting home safe and sound
  • I can run around in the middle of the night, as I did last night, checking on strange noises, naked.

Yes, many advantages.

I now use Windyty.com as my main weather source while outside the USA.

It indicated light winds, 3 to 5 kts, Monday, increasing a bit Tuesday and much more on Wednesday. Therefore, it seemed Monday was the best day and I wanted to go in any case.

But when I got up, I could see a large thunderstorm to the west and it had been producing strong winds and rain all night.  It was an extensive area, probably 15 miles by 10 miles.  I don’t mid traveling in such conditions, however this storm produced strong, 12 kts westerly winds.  Since I had to go west, then SW, then NW, that was not good.

And now I did what I tell everyone NEVER to do.  Never ever. I got fixated on the forecast, 3 kt winds, thinking the seas will be small.  Totally ignoring the fact that this storm had produced relatively strong winds, 10 to 18 knots for the last 12 hours.

As you see in the picture, I take off into this storm and immediately I notice 3 to 5-foot waves that I’m going into. Up and down we go.  I slow up to 1400 rpm, and press on.  I should have turned around and gone back to my peaceful, sheltered anchorage.  I didn’t.

Two hours later as I turn the corner finally getting out of the Bay of Golfito, to head NW, I discover a significant swell, from the south to southwest 4 to 6 feet.  Now the boat really started to roll. Of course, in my idleness, I did not stow everything well, in fact the salon was a mess.

I deployed one paravane stabilizer bird, then half an hour later, the other.

Fishhook Marina
A Great Place for Man & Boat

The roll was never so bad, only about 8° in each direction and the extreme rolls where just over 12°.  These numbers are half of what we put up with for 21 days crossing the Atlantic 6 months earlier, but still.  But having furniture roll around the salon is always disconcerting.

The ride didn’t ameliorate until the last 1.5 hours when I turned NE to go to Bahia Drake. An anchorage that given its’ 3-star rating was clearly over-optimistic.

Rolling Down the Road

Day’s Cruise Summary: Engine start, 05:52, stop 17:29; 11 hrs:15 min underway (uw), distance 62.2 nautical miles (nm), average speed 5.6 knots (kt)

 

Who Can Resist Women in Uniform

 

 

 

I Certainly Can’t.

Which is why I being currently in Vietnam, Sai Gon or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), to be exact.

Why here? Why now?  Why not:

  • I have a friend here.
  • I needed a vacation from Dauntless.
  • She needed a rest from me.
  • I needed to be in New York for a bit, so it’s almost on the way.
  • It’s incredibly cheap, with wonderful food.
  • The people are so very friendly, nice and welcoming
  • And I do like women in uniform.

After this post, my writings about my other, non-Dauntless related, travels will be under Dispatches From the Orient

I can write gobs and gobs about HCMC so far.  Let me suffice to say in this little introduction that it is a true working city full of really nice, friendly people, with incredibly good food at even more incredibly inexpensive prices.

Today I did a little exploration of a new section of town, took four buses that cost me a total of $1.00, that’s 25 cents each.

My DInner that Cost $0.90
The image on her fight is some kind of missile sitting on a stand on a table. This show was about various weapons systems, as I saw some US and Russian made stuff.

Here is a little video I took on my first days.

I found it best to just close my eyes often.

And if you think the motobikes are numerous, think of the alternative like Bejing, where cars sit in endless traffic jams and the pollution is so bad it’s hard to go out!

We Don’t Need no Stink’in MiniVan

Stay tuned for many more tidbits to follow:

Dispatches From the Orient

 

Coming up here next, In Hindsight; A Retrospective of the Cruise from Ireland to Costa Rica

Dispatches from the Orient – Vietnam

A Barge on the Song Sai Gon

I have a lot of pictures that things to of Vietnam so far.  I’d like to keep my writings more focused than usual on a particular theme for any given post.

And while many of these writings will be about places new to me and many of you, I will also use this blog to write about all of my travels that are distinctly of a non-nautical nature, whether they be in North America, Asia or Europe.

I find Vietnam incredibly fascinating.

First Impressions:

  • I really admire the people, I have never been in a place where everyone seems to work all the time and still be pleasant doing it. My days are full of smiles and pleasant interactions.
  • The Vietnamese people I’ve run across have been the friendliest I’ve ever met. Much like Ireland, but maybe a better comparison is Latvia. Another place with incredibly friendly people and speaking an incomprehensible language.  Oh, I’ve learned a few words, just a few, but with my non-musical brain, the words I think I am saying and what others hear are pretty much mutually exclusive.
  • My hotel is just 20 minutes south of the airport and about 30 minutes west of “downtown”. A great location. HCMC aka Sai Gon, is much like NYC, a city of neighborhoods. Pretty much everything I need or want can be had within a 15-minute walk. The only disagreeable moment occurred when I was “downtown”, in District 1.  The place where Trip Advisor and that ilk tell everyone they must go and as expected my experience is just the opposite.  The one place I will not return.
  • They actually make things here. In fact, they seem to rebuild everything.  There is remarkedly little trash. And everyone seems to be working literally from dawn to dusk (and later).
  • Nothing is thrown away. The little sacks of garbage that are picked up periodically seem full of inedible things and a little plastic. These people would probably build a whole new civilization with all the crap Americans throw away in a week.
  • IF there are no free seats on the bus, a young person always insists I take their seat.
  • Air Conditioning on the buses works better than in New York City buses and I am sure the buses cost 1/100th
  • Costs are even better than anticipated. Bus costs 20 cents. The three of us has a 6-course dinner for $19 the other day, yesterday it was $15. This is very typical.  My lunch today was $0.90. Yes, less than a US dollar.
  • Foods are as tasty as one would expect.
  • There are a million coffee places and the iced coffee is like the old days in NYC, strong and good. (Not like today where Starbucks gets people to pay $7 for a glass of water with coffee color)
  • HCMC is full of trees and motorcycles.

Upcoming:

  • A city of motos and scooters and I am the only pedestrian.
  • How to cross the street and live to tell about it.
  • A Worker’s Paradise where everyone works

 

 

The Plan Comes Together

Since I have talked, written, about my planning process a lot, you know I like having a plan.

But there are times when a plan, any plan, has been elusive. Also, the best plans are always subject to change.

Generally, I find that the best plan, or better stated, the best initial plan, is one that stands the test of time.  Having a straw man to test, If I go here, this will happen, allows me to continuously refine the plan and test it mentally with many different scenarios.

Having an initial plan also allows me to write about it, talk about it. So, my friends or anyone has a chance to ask, Uh, you’re not really planning on doing that, are you? I like, even need, questions like that.  They are part of my extroverted thinking process.  They make me better articulate, or think through, the what and why of the plan.  And of course, there are times, I learn of significant mistakes.

Oops.  Like this summer’s missing 1,000 nm.  That’s about 25 days’ worth of coastal cursing.  A month out of a season that may only be 5 months.

My initial plan after transiting the Panama Canal in January, was to head up the west coast ending in Southeast Alaska 6 months later.  Not a terrible plan, if traveling by car!

But when the details are still an ocean away, don’t sweat, don’t worry.

Then as my Panama Canal transit got later and later, I’d make some adjustments to the west coast plan, deciding to stop in the Pacific Northwest or even Oregon if that’s as far as I got by October.

I still had not found the missing 1,000 miles, but then I still did not know they were missing.

We had a quick five day, 300 miles run from Panama City to Golfito, the southernmost port in Costa Rica.

Dauntless Initial Planning 2017 through 2020+ All Dates, destinations are tentative, but gives me frame work for the Cruise.

I could finally catch my breath.  In fact, during the five-day run, though it meant two long 14 hour days and then anchoring in waters no so protected, the seas were flat and it allowed me to start seriously thinking of the coming cruise up the west coast.

And then I noticed that my little planning table had a little error.  I had not accounted for the miles of Baja California.  Mexico from beginning to end is 2100 nm, I had typed 1100 in what I call my “Planning Table”.  I found the missing 1,000 miles.

Another factor came to my attention.  A few posts ago I wrote about the expenses of Dauntless.  Our expenses are very consistent, when I’m on the boat they run close to $100 per day.  The only way that number changes significantly, is if I am not on Dauntless, like in the winter and if Dauntless is in a safe, secure, inexpensive location (like Waterford, Ireland).

Also, In the last weeks, I’ve realized how much I miss Northern Europe.  My biggest mistake was not spending two summers in the Baltic.  And to have this realization half way around the world is a bit annoying. (since there is nothing I can do about it now).

Martinique was a nice port, made nicer having endured a relatively rough three-week passage across the Atlantic from Europe. Beautiful women, French food & wine, what more can anyone ask for?

But after three weeks, Micah and I were both ready to move on.  Sitting for months at a time is just not in me.

Therefore, my new, updated, improved plan allows me to take my time traveling north up the coast.  I won’t have to travel in bad weather or contrary winds for a change. But it will be incumbent upon me to find good, economical places for Dauntless to winter over.

This winter that will be someplace in northern Mexico, next winter probably British Columbia and finally Southeast Alaska, maybe near Wrangell for the third winter.

Crossing the North Pacific will come next, then probably wintering over in Korea before heading south along the Chinese coast the following spring.

Exploring Southeast Asia and Vietnam will be up next.

And after that?

A return to Northern Europe; unless of course, the plan changes.

 

 

 

What Keeps Me Awake at Night

Dauntless is that little Green boat in the far bottom right corner. The red route is my currently planned idea. The Black route is just a gauge for me to look at the Great Circle routes easily. The fact that it is so close to the actual route means that it’s a pretty efficient route. The hard to see white routes past Korea are various ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned before, if you are not living in the moment, you are reflecting on the past or planning the future.

At night, as I drift off to sleep, I am usually always thinking of the future. I hate surprises.  For me, there is no such thing as a “good” surprise. Unless of course, I get notified that a non-existent relative left a large sum of money in Nigeria for me. What could go wrong with that?

Exactly my point. A surprise meant I did not anticipate well enough.  As many of you reading this will understand, it helps if you do read.  To know and have experienced everything, I would have to be as old as the Universe itself. I’m not that old and as most of us figure out in our formative years, we will never catch up to that second-grade teacher we are in love with.

Reading and writing allowed our civilization to grow on the experience of those who came before us.

Reading allows us to experience without doing. While not the same as doing, brain studies have shown that it’s remarkedly effective. Two pianists given the same piece of music to play, one actually plays it, while the other only “plays” it in their mind.  After a given set of time, there is remarkedly little difference between the two, when they actually perform it on a piano.

So, developing a mental picture is critical to my planning process.  I also always have an idea of best and worst conditions. I simply never want to be surprised.

Now that the Pacific chapter of this story has started, my vision has shifted to the west, Asia in particular.  Even though Asia is still years away, once I get north of Mexico, there is not much of the coast I have not seen.  When I was on Shemya in the Aleutians, 30 years ago, I never envisioned returning on my own bottom.

So, the eastern and even northern portions of the Pacific, I have well imagined for a long time. So now it’s time to learn the western periphery, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

At the same time, I’m starting to think again about what is beyond that. The Indian Ocean, getting around Africa and even, once back in the Atlantic, then what?

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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.