Hindsight is Not Always 20-20

Despite my accomplishments this past year, another 2500 miles behind me, the Golden Gate in front of me, the Baja bash, Panama Canal, the Atlantic Ocean, behind me, I wonder if I did not make some big mistake.

Anchored in Finland.

For not the first time, I wondered about my sudden decision to flee northern Europe two years ago. I loved northern Europe. I loved Ireland. I loved the peoples and the cultures.

I lived for 4 years in Germany and still visit relatively often. The Germans certainly have some interesting attributes. Some of which I even like a lot.

In 2015, I was reminded just like 30 years ago, the different personalities the Germans are along the north coast. These are the people who have known “Auslander”, (from an outside land), for thousands of years. They are not the Germans of the much more insular interior, one meets south of Hamburg down to the Alps.

I dwell on this because stupid Google, out of the blue the other day, sends me my pictures of years ago and says, “don’t you want to post these?”

It reminded me yet again of how great the cruising was along the north coast of Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and North Seas. The cruising is the best I’ve yet encountered, with thousands of miles of protected skärgärd cruising. With the wind blowing 20+ knots, 100 meters away, you are cruising or anchored with nary a ripple of waves.

Cuxhaven, Germany

All the peoples who inhabit the environs along the coast are sea faring folk. Much like the Celtic culture along the west coast of Europe, from Galicia in NW Spain to Scotland, The North Sea and particularly the Baltic had the Hanseatic League. From Hamburg to Tallinn, they controlled trade and influenced culture from Germany to Russia.

This seafaring culture manifests itself in boat friendly, stranger friendly ways. No matter how small the port, or how many boats are already there, they will find room for you. In the more formal marinas, like Tallinn and Cuxhaven, the American flag was being put up on the yardarm of the marina even as I checked-in. And even check-in itself was a 5-minute process, with reasonable rates, about $0.25 per foot in Holland to $1.00 per foot in Helsinki. Overall average for marina overnights ended up being less than $0.50 a foot for my 4 months in the Baltic and North Seas.

Haapsalu, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia
Robbengat Sluis
Holland
Waterford, Ireland

All these experiences were exactly the opposite in southern Europe, by the way. 30-minute check-ins, filing out endless forms, each time, $1.00 per foot was best price and it went up to $2.00.

I was also reminded with much regret that the $1,000 ten-day stay I had at Cabo San Lucas was the same cost of one year! in Waterford, Ireland. Sure,  Waterford could not boast like Cabo of having only 7 days a year with rain, but I am sure they can boast that they have at least 7 days a year with sun.

So, all these fond memories really made me question my decision of leaving Europe in 2016. Stupid Google also reminded me of my great trip to Galicia to scope out a winter home for Dauntless the following year. Food, people and marina in A Coruna were fantastic. I could stay there for $500 per month year around.  Had I stayed another year as planned, I would still have some options. I could return to the Baltic the following summer or just stay in Northern Spain and Western France. I would have also saved so much money.

Oh Regrets. What would life be without them?

Probably a hell of a lot better!

I acknowledge that 2016 was a traumatic year for me. I  often wonder if unexpected life changes led me to make some hasty, irrevocable decisions? It certainly seems so to me when I think and think and think about it.

It would have been just as easy to fly between Ireland or Spain and Vietnam. I picture myself escaping the heat a humidity of Vietnam for the damp coolness of Atlantic Europe.

One key factor drove my decision to leave for the Pacific, the availability of crew. My Hawaiian nephew wanted to take a year off from school before he went to law school. He thought exploring Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean via Dauntless would be ideal. He spent almost a year with Dauntless and I.

He was indispensable. Not only as a great, hardworking, vigilant crew mate, but also as a smart, interesting companion for the boring passage between Europe and the Panama Canal. I couldn’t have come that distance without him.

Dauntless is in Vallejo, California now. I’ll return to her next week for a month of getting her in ship shape. Next spring, I’ll return and weather permitting get her up to the Pacific Northwest by June, then British Columbia and Southeast Alaska for the summer.

Ending up in one of the wonderful, little towns of Southeast Alaska. Which one, will depend on several factors, Dauntless taking second stage for now.

By next year at this time, my life will take another turn, as I gain both a First and Second Mate on Dauntless. We’ll end up staying in Southeast Alaska only a little longer than originally planned. Visa requirements for my wife-to-be and her son require us to live in the United States, so SE AK is the perfect place to settle down for a while and catch a few fish and enjoy the fantastic scenery and wildlife.

What would have happened had Dauntless still been in Europe now? I would truly have a mess on my hands. Instead of struggling with a 2500 trip, I would be looking at 10,000+ miles. Eek!!

Everything happens for a reason. Two years ago, I had no idea I’d fall in love with the love of my life, yet again (ok, I’ve had a lot of lives). Or that she would be in Vietnam or that I’d spend all my free time with her in Vietnam.  Or that SE Alaska, then so far away, now so close, would be the perfect place for a variety or reasons.

Trinh and I in SaiGon, Vietnam

Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

 

 

Cruising Costs of a 42 foot Kadey Krogen

Having some time on my hands for another couple of weeks, I thought I would share with everyone what the Cruising Costs have been for Dauntless, a 42 foot Kadey Krogen Motor yacht over the last two years.

I’ve broken out the numbers, so for instance, if you only go to a marina 10% of the time, you can adjust the numbers accordingly.

If you have any specific questions, I will be glad to answer them, but please email me vice PM.

May Thru October 2016 My approximate route. Most of the little black dots are stops

The number don’t add up to 100% because there are some personal travel expenses, which I track but are not pertinent to the story.

Also, the significant difference is that in 2016 I was able to buy 900 gallons of fuel in Ireland for very reasonable prices (far less than UK “red” diesel).

In 2015 because Dauntless range under such conditions, I had to refuel with very expensive fuel in Finland, Sweden and Norway, arriving back in Ireland with almost empty tanks.

Marina costs were significantly higher in 2016 because Portugal, southern Spain, Atlantic France are significantly more expensive than many Baltic and North Sea marinas.

 

 

2015 Baltic and North Sea Cruise

Food costs are pretty much for a couple.

In the next weeks, I will update the latter half of 2016, the trip from Rota Spain to Gibraltar, Morocco, the Canaries and Martinique.

2017 update will be from Martinique to Panama Canal, Costa Rica and up to Mexico for the winter.

 

 

The Summer Plan 2017

Summer Plan 20

I’m having a wonderful time in Vietnam. The longer I am here, the more comfortable I’ve become. Having a motorbike and not having killed myself yet, is a bigger accomplishment than crossing the Atlantic, twice.

But I am missing D so much too.  I want to be back on the water.  I promise to never complain how hot it is anymore. Even if my eyeballs are baking, I’ll repeat the desert southwest mantra, It’s a dry heat.

So, when I get back in early July, with my new Coast Guard Document clutched in my sweaty little hand, it will be all hands-on deck to get moving north.

All two, hands that is.

Having Micah on board for so many months, clearly spoiled me. I don’t even remember that person who crossed a third of the Atlantic alone. I haven’t been alone since the Stockholm to Waterford run of September 2015. That was eons ago.

The table below is my tentative cruising program. So, for example, it shows I’ll spend about three weeks in Costa Rica, with the last stop around Santa Elena before heading to Mexico.

I’ve made the difficult decision to bypass Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras.  El Salvador ends up being a casualty, in that it’s too hard to stop there and avoid the other places.  Some of my friends say I’m being ridiculous and too much of a gringo frady cat, but, I am a gringo frady cat.

I know and understand the ocean; people are harder.

I use sites like No onsite and Active Captain, to point out problem areas and then I avoid them.  No matter how beautiful a place is, it’s simply not worth it for me, if I have to worry about the safety of my friends & crew, me for the boat.

Here is what the trip looks like so far.  The stops listed are the primary overnight or multiple day stops, with there being no overnights except for those with the “P” in the second column.  Other than the initial Santa Elena to Mexico, all the others are open to stopping:

Summer 2017

Because of my delay in getting back, I am a bit more pressed for time than I would have liked, but it’s still a third less than I’ve done in the past.

I have friends joining me from mid-August until the end of September (I think J).

My July people are not answering my calls.   Ummm, I think I need to find replacements.

 

 

Baltic Recap

C 20150716_203428 (2)
The Krogen along the wall in Gdansk. The marina is on the right. But our price was right!

I’ve written about many aspects of the Dauntless’ Summer Cruise 2015, the good, the bad and certainly the ugly.  How ugly I’ll find out next week.  But now, I thought I would share a few more mundane issues that I think will be of interest.

Let me say up front, that if you have any questions or comments you would like to share privately, please email me.  My contact information is somewhere in WordPress.

A few interesting tidbits. No, not Tim Horton’s Timbits, (Sorry New Yorkers, even if you have visited one of the Tim Horton’s in NYC, it is Tim Horton’s in name only. The version sold in New York is owned and made by the same person who owns the Dunkin Donuts franchise in NYC.  Needless to say, the only thing they have in common is the name).

 

Type of Overnight Days of Trip Percent Cost
All 128 100% $ 2,562
Marina 59 46% $28.15 / night
Dock or wall 32 25%
Anchored 17 13%
Tied to land, with stern anchor 8 6%
Dock in Canal (Scotland) 5 4%
Underway overnight 7 5%

 

I merged the two categories of marinas and docks because I was a bit arbitrary during the course of the summer.  Generally a marina means a marina as we know it with amenities like:   an office, a secured dock (but not always), showers, laundry, etc.

Dock or wall is just that, a dock that is floating or a wall .  Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t.  In general the prices were cheaper since they had little or no amenities.

But again the line between the two types, dock or marina is not that large.  A good portion of the marinas had no security; while some cheap docks did.  The last dock we stopped at, Arklow in Ireland, was free, and within 30 minutes, two different guys (fishermen) came by to tell us the security code of the gate.

Since we are talking bout security, maybe in the first weeks, I felt a bit apprehensive with the no security, but I’ve been in Europe enough that after I bit I did not even notice.  Much of the Netherlands was like that.  The river, canal wound through the center of town, there were bollards placed in which to tie.  You then found the nearby post, the same as one uses to pay for car parking. You paid your 12 Euros and placed the sticker on your boat. This included electricity that I usually did not bother with.

The far west and far east has the most expensive marinas.  The Channel Islands and the first stops in France were $50 per night for a 12 meter boat, as was Tallinn.  Helsinki took the prize for the most expensive marina at $60.

The rest of Scandinavia was really good.  Stockholm was only $35 and while Copenhagen was more at $45, the small towns I stopped in Norway ranged from $15 to zero.

In the middle, Germany, Poland, Latvia were all great places to visit and inexpensive; in all three of those countries marinas cost about $25.

Poland and Latvia turned out to be our favorite places.  In Gdansk, Poland, were right downtown and our Krogen must have been featured in a thousand pictures.  We were on a wall right next to the marina. The wall was free, in fact, the second day, the Bosman, the person in charge of the marina, came by to ask us if we needed electricity, telling him no, he said were welcome to stay on the wall since it was free.  I was happy.

The Poles love Americans.  Like virtually the entire trip, so many people in seeing the stars and stripes came by to say hello and hear our story: “yes, we took it across the ocean on our own, yes, we are from New York, No, it is not a Grand Banks, it’s a Kadey Krogen”

It was also in Gdansk that I met a couple from Stockholm on their catamaran.  Like virtually everyone we met on the water, they were so helpful.  They also gave me good advice about Navionics charts in that “Europe HD” was detailed enough to use and there was now no need for paper charts.

And all that for $87.

I always run with two different navigation charts, since last year, Navionics and Jepp’s C-Map.  I like the color rendition a bit more on the Navionics, but I must admit that I have not seen any significant difference between the two in Europe.

Speaking of navigation, I found it easier than the ICW, in that it is not critical to know whether the channel is going to or coming from the ocean. Instead, in the skärgärd they will declare “pass red on the left or green on the right” or vice versa.  Now in that situation, it is different in that once there was a red of the left and a green on the right of the channel meaning I could NOT go in between where the rock was.

In Riga, I was doing something in the engine room when I felt someone get on the boat. Thinking it was my friends, I kept working; but not hearing their voices, I came up to see this couple having their wedding pictures being taken on the fore deck.

Cute.  Latvians loved us too.

All in all, we averaged $28 per stay for the 90 odd days we stopped. Not bad considering a hotel room in many of those cities would have cost 10 times more.

Now you do not have to pay for fuel for that hotel room, but even with fuel, the daily cost is only $76 and with fuel at today’s price it Ireland, that daily average would have been $7 cheaper at $69 per marina.

And it’s sure nice seeing the wonders of the world pass by your living room window.

 

 

Quest for the Real Danish

And to think it only cost $17,000!

Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France
Kadey Krogen in Honfleur, France

Well I suppose our Baltic Cruise did have other objectives, but let’s not minimize my fondness for morning baked goods, in particular Danish.

Now, you all know the capital of the Danish; no, not Copenhagen, but New York.  And of course, we are talking about the morning pastry, not the people.

New Yorkers think they invented the Danish.  That flaky, layered pastry filled with or with a dollop of fruit or cheese in the middle.

Never packaged in plastic, and not made from a lot of chemicals and artificial crap, that one gets in the rest of the country.  Yes.  It was hard duty living in places like Seattle, Denver and of course, the city with the lowest average annual temperature in the USA, Fairbanks, Alaska. But someone had to do it.

A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless
A Honfleur Cafe just off the Bow of Dauntless

No our Danishes are always fresh.  Places that try to sell day old stuff in NYC don’t last long; unless of course, they are in one of those “new’ neighborhoods, like Battery Park City, that is full people from west of New Jersey, who don’t know any better.

By the way, speaking of Battery Park City, this large deluxe apartment complex, built to the west of the World Trade Center largely on landfill from the WTC and other projects of the 60’s and 70’s.  So during Superstorm Sandy, the Weather Channel had their goofy looking reporters in Battery Park City, watching the water rise to almost street level, as its inhabitants walked their dogs and babies, like every other rainy, windy day.

A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur
A Wonderful Restaurant in Honfleur

In the meantime, in Brooklyn alone, more than 500,000 people watched their cars float away in 8 feet of water!   The water getting as much as a mile inland.  Power in the Trump Village buildings, some of the buildings that made Trump senior rich and his idiot son think he “earned” his money just by being born, was lost for a week.  Cars were left were the water dropped them for months.  It was more than 6 months before banks and food markets were able to open again.

But since the Weather Channel did not show it, it must not have happened.  This scene was repeated along the coast of Staten Island and much of New Jersey.

My point is that television seldom can give even a representative picture and never the whole story.

So, back to my quest for the Danish.

I ate a lot of ice cream
I ate a lot of ice cream

At $135 a day, this 120 day quest could have seemed like a waste of money.  But, my attitude about money and Dauntless is simple: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  At least until after the fact, as my last post shows.

Ummm

Our quest started in France, the town of Trebeurden.  After the mile walk uphill, the offerings were a big disappointment.  The little pastry places with coffee and wonderfully baked goods were not to be found.

Next country Belgium, Oostende, only 30 miles from Holland, but finding coffee in the morning was also not so easy.

Then Holland, Zuid Holland to be exact.  Pastries much like I am familiar with both in NY and from 30 years of visiting the Netherlands.  Delicately done apple and cherry turnovers, but layered far more than in the US.  Also far less sweet than in the US and of course, made with mostly natural ingredients and not crap. Flakey, light croissants, almost as nice as the best of France.  The coffee is also very good, and the prices are reasonable.

And not yet realizing how much I took for granted those Bäckerei und Konditorei would be open by 6 a.m. and always around.

Two Krogens in Holland
Two Krogens in Holland

Honestly, after three weeks winding my way thru the Netherlands, Holland, Brabant, Gelderland and Friesland, I was really spoiled.  By far it would end up being the most convenient in terms of where the boat was and were the people were.  I got very spoiled.  Great pastries and coffee every morning. Always warm and fresh and costing not more than $5 to sit, drink a cup of java and enjoy at last one pastry (though I usually always got two).

Germany was next.  Bäckerei und Konditorei. The western half, like the Netherlands, only slightly more dour, the people and the food.  Not surprisingly, the eastern half, of the DDR, was noticeably more dour.  Much like the dwarfs of Tolkien’s Middle Earth; but taller.

Pannekoeken in Brabant
Pannekoeken in Brabant. We’ve been coming here for 20 years. Very tasty.

Poland was a treat in every aspect.  The 8 days we spent in our four stops in Poland, were the absolutely best for eating.  Morning was more about donuts and fried, filled things, but really good, really fresh, tasty and cheap.

Dinners were sublime.  Every dinner was fantastic.  Beef cheeks, pig ankle, herring tartar; all so exceeded our already high expectations. Prices more reasonable than lands to the west.

I had already planned a 2016 trip back, but Julie point out that Ryan Air would cost about a billion dollars less than taking Dauntless again.

Poland Black forest cake.  It's even better than it looks.
Poland Black forest cake. It’s even better than it looks.

Sad, but true.

Bakery in Liepaja
Bakery in Liepaja.  If you look closely, you can see that those cakes are around 3 Euros.

After avoiding the Russian minefield, Latvia was next.  We stopped in Liepaja and Riga, one of our goals for almost 10 years.  Again, not enough time in a wonderful place.  Riga was much as we expect, but Liepaja was a very pleasant surprise.  Extremely inexpensive, one of the few Euro countries those prices did not rise overnight upon the birth of the Euro. The markets, both indoor and outdoor, were fascinating and full of stalls with berries.

More berries than you ever thought possible.  In Riga, there were over a hundred stalls just selling baskets and buckets of berries of every kind.  Tasty and cheap, after easting the berries of Latvia, you could never eat those cardboard tasting blue berries that are ubiquitous here.

The Same Bakery in Liepaja.  this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.
Bakery in Liepaja. this repast, including the THREE bags on the table, and the two coffees cost $8 U.S.

Estonia was the last stop on the Baltic Republic hit parade.

More expensive then Latvia, but lacking some of the warmth we got from the people of Latvia, let alone the genuine warmth and friendship se experienced in Poland.

While the pastry choices were limited, the coffee was very good and they had a loaf of bread with butter and knife to cut bread, which was free for one and all. Right up my alley.

Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks
Warsaw Pork Knuckle and Beef Cheeks

Coming up:  Rocking and Rolling and Rocking in Scandinavia, I am Curious, Yellow and of course, Danishes in Denmark.

Dauntless in Leipaja
Dauntless in Leipaja
Another stop in Holland. Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!
Another stop in Holland.
Dauntless likes being Downtown so everyone can see her!

Dauntless Summer 2015 Summary of Expenses & Fuel Consumption

This is the table for our Summer 2015 Baltic Sea Cruise on Dauntlesstable10

OK.  Sorry about the black background, but I have spent too many hours today just f…ing with this “picture” imported from Excel via Word.

Some of the things that jump out at me:

  • While the Fuel cost was a third of total costs, it wasn’t more.
  • Eating and food costs were also a third of total expenses.
  • My morning treat of coffee and some kind of pastry, is not an insignificant cost at almost a thousand dollars.
  • It really helped that my friends/guests/crew paid most of the marina fees.
  • By the time I got to Germany, I realized that fuel consumption was actually running much higher than anticipated, around 1.75 gallons/hour. So I made a conscious effort to run at an “economy” speed, about 1400 to 1500 rpms, for the rest of the trip and it clearly worked.  I was able to average 1.35 gallons per hour and 3.84 nm/gal at an average speed of 5.2 knots.
  • By contrast, crossing the Atlantic, the respective numbers were 1.59 gallons/hour and 3.6 nm/gallon at an average speed of 5.7 knots.

All these numbers speak to the efficiency of the Kadey Krogen and the KK42 in particular.  We love this boat.  She is a tough little girl.  Far tougher than me.  I really don’t understand why, but I am more, not less, prone to sea sickness than last year or even our first year.

Maybe the weight of responsibility weighs on me more? Maybe I am going out under more adverse conditions?  Who knows?

I did get back to NY 5 pounds lighter than when I left in early May.  That is nice.  But my sense is that being alone on the North Sea for three days will make anyone lose weight.    Maybe Oprah should have invested in Dauntless instead of Weight Watchers.

Still to come:  I hope to write a summary of the entire cruise; talk about the recent Krogen Owners Rendezvous I just attended and lastly, get my Instagram account up and running so, even if I am not posting, I can at least post pictures with a few snappy captions. Or is that snippy?

Coming Full Circle

30 September 2015, 13:10 hours, we passed the track off of Dunmore East that we had made leaving Ireland 4 months and 5 days earlier on the 25th of May.

Bost in Vadrarfjordr.  The Only City in Ireland that Kept its Viking Name
Bost in Vadrarfjordr.
The Only City in Ireland that Kept its Viking Name
Dauntless in her New Spot in Waterford
Dauntless in her New Spot in Waterford

As I motored slowly up the River Suir, it is impossible to describe my feelings.  Much like crossing the Atlantic, this was another 4,000 nm, 7,200 km trip milestone completed.

Spread out over four months instead of one, was both a blessing and a curse:

A blessing in that time is spread out, so schedules are more flexible and the scenery is constantly changing, as is the places visited and the foods eaten.

A curse in that it’s almost exclusively coastal travelling and the stress that entails, rocks, narrow channels, and worst of all, expensive marinas.

And much like the Atlantic Passage, coming full circle was a culmination of years of dreaming and planning.  As soon as the Atlantic was planned, still years before we actually had a boat, I had moved on to phase two, the first full spring and summer in northern Europe.  So of course that meant the Baltic and those lands of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia that were almost totally new to me.

Arklow Inner Harbor
Arklow Inner Harbor

For the most part, if the plan has been well thought out, events unfold as planned.  As I look at the Dauntless Cruise Plan that was finalized in April, I pretty much stuck to the plan into September.

Arklow Inner Harbor
Arklow Inner Harbor

Sadly, as I cruised up the Suir, I was occupied with trying to get my cell phone on.  It had gone to sleep and never woke up.  No sign of life, even when being charged or when I changed its battery.

Today, 48 hours later, I have accepted that its demise is permanent.  And sadly today, I just realized that I had not downloaded any pictures since the end of August.

Still of the 600 that were on the phone,  I had uploaded a few pictures and videos to WordPress and I have the hundreds of pictures I took with the Samsung K-30, but I like the Note for its ability to take good panorama shots. All of the pictures I post with these blogs came from the Note. That’ll change now.

Now the previous week, I had talked to Johnny, the Waterford City Council guy in charge of the marina and I think a bunch of other things too, to find out where to tie up as the docks were almost full.  We had planned that I would call again coming up the river. But now I couldn’t., which always adds to the stress since knowing the spot I was going to is one less thing to worry about.

Trawler unloading in Arklow
Trawler unloading in Arklow

Spotting an empty spot at the end of one of the three floating docks (pontoons in British English) there was a sign saying it was a private spot, but any port in a storm, is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Also, there are a number of these marked spots on the dock, but they are not necessarily up to date and the owners had moved on long ago.  I was in such a spot all last winter.

Thus I took it, got tied up, changed to my street clothes and then the owner of the spot motored on up, with his wife and two daughters.

Oops.

I went out and apologizing profusely, asked him what I should do, telling him that I had not been able to call Johnny and dreading the response, to move to who knows where?

BBQ in Arklow
BBQ in Arklow

Instead he was really nice and said no problem at all; he would just raft outside of Dauntless until I found my place.  I thought that was particularly gracious since it meant he had to hang around until I got things sorted out.

Just then, I look down the pontoon, and who do I see walking towards us was Johnny, himself.  Now, I was surprised, knowing how busy Johnny is, as well as the fact that the marina (dock really) is just a small part of his job, very small.

Turns out while he had not heard from he, he had spotted Dauntless coming up the river on AIS.

What a relief.  I did not want to inconvenient my new found friend Danny any more than I already had.  Johnny did have a tight spot for me on the inside of the pontoon, one that I had not considered knowing the water was very shallow on the inside, but in this case it was deep enough.

So 15 minutes later, we were retied to the spot we are currently in.  Johnny also called the boat owner in my previous spot to confirm they were pulling their boat this coming Saturday, so I could move back there then.

A wonderful welcome back to Waterford.  There are simply no more friendly people than the Irish.  Virtually every encounter over the last 13 months had been of this sort.  Always willing to help, always friendly to all boaters.

Stopping over in Arklow, the evening before illustrates the point:

It’s a small fishing town. Everyone is so nice. We just stopped in Arklow for a few hours to wait on the tide to turn in about 5 hours.

There was a big sailboat tied to the wharf wall, a commercial dock, with large rubber tires and old timber. I told the sailboat skipper I just needed to stop for 5 or 6 hours. So he suggested I raft (tie up to his boat) next to him. As we were tossing lines, a guy came by on Kayak to tell me the hammerhead on the dock in the small inner harbor with fishing boats was open.

So realizing that was better I moved the boat there and after getting tied up, two different guys, working guys, came by to tell me the access code for the gate and we had a discussion about the tides and currents and the best time to leave.

And of course, this dock was free.

One thing you see in Ireland is that they really like everyone on a boat.
You don’t see the class warfare you see in many places. Fisherman always wave and talk with you. When I spent last September rafted to fishing boats in Castletownbere, Dauntless fit right in, in both size and the lines of the boat.  (I wrote about this in the post, “Now It’s Miller Time” sometimes we were rafted 4 or 5 deep.

Link to that post: https://dauntlessatsea.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/now-its-miller-time/

So my welcome home was better than I could have even hoped.

The Krogen Cruisers have their annual rendezvous next week, so of course I am going to that.  I like talking to other owners about our boats and its amazing prowess.

So Tomorrow I fly to my real home, but I’ll be back in a couple weeks to sort out what needs to be done this winter.

In the next weeks and months, I will backfill these posts with the events of the summer that I never had time to write about such as:  Cruising with Another Krogen in Holland, Estonia, Finland and Sweden and single handing thru Denmark, Norway and Scotland, the Caledonian Canal and of course, Crossing the North Sea.

 

A Lock Too Far

The Lock Too Far
The Lock Too Far

Have you ever been unreasonably angry?  You know you have no cause to be angry, thus “unreasonable”, but you still can’t shake it.

Maybe not angry; just f…ing irritated.

So I’m sitting on the wrong side of the last locks before town and Neptune’s Staircase.

Maybe because while I understood that I would not get out of the Caledonian Canal system today, I had looked forward to being in town.  In the last week I have spent too many days, nights, alone. No one to talk to, no internet, no Wi-Fi, no nothing.

So, I sit here, looking at the beautiful scenery, but disappointed that I’m not in town.

And it’s certainly quiet out here.

The View From Dauntless
The View From Dauntless

But hark; I hear a sound, I go investigate.  Alas, it is but the refrigerator compressor.

Welcome to my world.

So, since we last talked it’s been 4 days and 400 miles.

The two day crossing of the North Sea became three days.

A long three days, exactly 72 hours.

I’ve been too tired to write about it.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow is here. Now I’m really tired.  Neptune’s Staircase took it all out of me.  And then we still had another three locks and a bridge or two to go.

Finally, at 14:00 hours Dauntless is on the sea heading for Oban.

And being at sea you know what that means?  Winds of course.  25 knots on the nose. Knocks about a knot off our speed, but I am keeping the rpms higher than usual, 1800 rpms, because the engine has been running cool the last few days have spent basically two days at idle.

I wanted to get this posted, but the pictures had not uploaded and you need pictures to understand what I write some times.  I’m not the best when it comes to descriptive detail.

My hands ache from handling cold, wet lines for two days.

Well, almost home.  I feel it calling.

 

 

Nothing to Fear, But Fear Itself

Ain’t that the truth?

Dauntless and the SAR boat in Egersund, Norway
Dauntless and the SAR boat in Egersund, Norway

It’s Thursday morning, cloudy, rainy, and of course windy, but Dauntless and I are sitting snug in the harbor of Egersund.

Egersund is a medium fishing town and the little central area is just a minute away.  We are tied to the endo of the dock near the SAR boat.  The marina itself is all finger piers, so I may be to move later, but prefer not to be in a finger.

We entered the fjord just after sunset and then it was another half hour coming up into the town.

Yesterday went as well as I had hoped.  Maybe better.

One of the biggest drawbacks to being alone is not the physical stuff, or even docking, but it’s the stuff in my head, and being alone I dwell, maybe obsess is a better word, as my imagination goes crazy.

wpid-20150916_201012.jpg
Not a Bad Day

With people around me, unreasonable thoughts come, hang around for a few minutes and then the interaction with others snaps me out of it.

If you watch Cesare, the Dog Whisperer, he’ll make a sharp sound or tap the dog, to get the dog’s attention away from whatever the dog is obsessing about.  That’s exactly what I need occasionally.

Before yesterday, I had looked at the route to Scotland 50 times.  But even the evening before I left Mandal, I got out of bed to get the tablet to look at the route again.  I was looking for an excuse not to leave Mandal.  Any excuse.  I was in the grip.

But no matter how I looked at it or how many times, it was still clear that if I went direct from Mandal to Scotland, I added 50 miles on to the trip, that’s 8 hours. And it made no sense to add 8 hours to a trip that was already above 40 hours.

I had to leave Mandal and the only weather window I seemed to have was yesterday.

I got off a little later than expected; as I spent some time helping my Danish sailors move their boat.  They, in particular, the wife, were so helpful when I docked in Mandal. Besides the ubiquitous wind, there was a current and a vicious steel ladder near the end of the dock that I initially wanted to tie to.

They were not only quick to understand I needed someone to receive the lines, but also, as the boat was getting more and more out of shape, she could see I was getting stressed and gave me some calm, encouraging words.  It helped and we were tied up minutes later.

So, leaving the dock late, I then had to go get fuel, which was right by the entrance to the harbor.  As I am getting closer, a small skiff pulls up to the dock and I had to wait 10 min for him to finish, but then as he is pulling out another boat jumps in.  Another 10 minutes of me making circles in the harbor looking at the crashing waves outside the harbor.

Well, I finally get to the fuel dock and got 500 liters of fuel for $5.20 a gallon, $1.35 per liter (double the price in Ireland, which is a major reason I did not want to leave the boat for eh winter in Norway)

So at 10:35 I FGFU.  I’ll let you guess at that.

Within minutes of being in the open water, I realized I got my MOJO back.

Having spent much of the previous day getting ready for action, Dauntless was ready.

I put things away that I had not put away we I checked all the stays for the paravanes and went through the boat from top to bottom making sure everything was secured.

That made all the difference, so when we encountered our first big seas, 6 – 8 feet, 2-3m, everything was tight.

The first few hours were in somewhat protected waters, but then I had 5 hours with the wind and seas on the beam, 6 to 12’, 2-4m.

And that’s when I remembered how well the paravanes work under these conditons.  The paravanes are most effective in a beam sea.  As the wave approaches, the boat rolls into the trough, just in front of the wave, but then as the wave lifts the boat, the paravanes stop the boat from rolling to the lee side.  So as the wave goes under the boat, the boat rights itself and stays that way as the wave passes under the boat.

Now I knew all this, but I had forgotten about it.   So I just sat in the pilot house marveling at how nicely that boat was handling all of this.

Depending on the wave period and other things, sometimes the boat would roll to the lee side, but again when that happened, the paravanes stopped the oscillation that would result without the paravanes deployed.

SO now I am waiting in Egersund for a weather window.  I’d like two days, but it’s late in the season for that.  Right now, I thinking late Saturday or certainly Sunday, arriving in Scotland Monday night or Tuesday morning.

I’ll watch for the next days.  I’d like winds less than 20 knots and seas not more than 4 meters and the winds and seas can come in any direction from 80° to 280°, with the bow being at 0°.

I won’t go with any head wind, seas, component.

I’ll try to post some videos. I should get a Go Pro.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It’s now Friday evening.

I’m leaving tomorrow around noon.

I will even drag my 37 pound laptop to the café so you may hear my last words, just in case.

No, I’m not worried about dying; I’m more concerned that one of my faithful readers will die because I left them in the lurch too long.  Not my fault.  This marina in off season charges $5 per day, yes, that’s five dollars, but for your five dollars you do not get internet.

However, you do get the best laundry I have experienced in 4 months. Only $2 and the dryer actually dries in 40 minutes.

And I’d get free electricity and water, if I deigned to squeeze into the finger piers; I don’t.

Even though I have bene having battery issues the last weeks.

So just a few days ago, I discovered on of the 8D batteries was low on voltage, so it’s out of the program. Today I checked the cabling of the other three.  After this weekend’s run, the truth will be revealed.

Norway has been a great experience.  I am not saddened with leaving only because it has always been in the plan to return next spring and summer.  It will be May and June next year, make your reservations early.

So, a little follow up about weather.

While I have distained weather forecasts, I do look at them.  I just don’t trust my life, my health or my boat on them.

So for example, in this case, I have been watching for more than a week.  Winds over the North Sea have been as high as 50 knots in the last two weeks making 9 meter, 27 foot seas.  Forgetaboutit.

So I’ve been looking for the best two day window I can get at this time of year.  A few days ago it looked like Sunday and Monday and maybe Tuesday.  Winds 10 to 15 knots out of the NNW or South.

I can live with that, as I have said, I just don’t want a component on the bow.  If tomorrow the winds are NW, I will go SW, accepting some extra miles.

Now, I have noticed today that the winds are less than forecast, in fact, down right mild, 8 to 12 maybe.

On one hand that’s good, as it will let the North Sea settle down, but on the other hand it could mean the forecast is a day behind, the next storm system could be coming across the UK not Tuesday, but maybe Monday.

In any case, I am still going, became to me it’s about what is happening now and not in the future.  Therefore, as long as I don’t have strong winds on the bow, I leave.  I would not leave if I must hope for a change of conditions.  .

On that note.

Talk to you in Scotland

 

Preparing to Cross the North Sea

Its 22:00, I’m tired and my back hurts.

The helm station all put away.
The helm station all put away.

I’ve spent much to the day preparing Dauntless to cross the North Sea in the next week.  Now you would think that there isn’t that much to do.

When you consider that in the last 14 months, we have travelled over 8,000 nm and virtually all of those miles have been on the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, one wonders why I am having such angst about the North Sea.

I’ve been pondering the same question for the last week.

Finally I realized there are two issues:

  1. The North Sea is ferocious. Yes, I should have crossed two weeks sooner, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. There is nothing I can do about that now.
  2. So, let’s tackle what I can control. It is the small things rolling around the boat that upset me, as I always imagine something far worse than the reality.  I do have a very vivid imagination.

    Looking forward in the Engine room.  It may not seem that orderly, but it's better than it was.
    Looking forward in the Engine room. It may not seem that orderly, but it’s better than it was.

Coming to Mandal a few days ago, there was an exposed stretch of only 6 miles, but it was like riding a bucking bronco.  I did not have the paravanes out, and we rolled a few times to 30°.

I’m secure in the pilot house, but it is the noise of loose things crashing that drive me crazy. And then when things settle down and I go to see what the damage is, expecting to see the refrigerator on the floor, all the contents broken and now mixing into a weird kaleidoscope of colors, dripping down the hatches into the engine room.

Instead, I find the wooden business card holder and the old cards it was holding rolling around and making a racket that would wake the dead.  Everything else is sitting there sedately, wondering what the excitement is all about.  And this is not the first time that stupid card holder has done this to me.

So I realized that if I don’t want to have a heart attack in the coming days, I better make sure everything is put away.  It’ll take two days to cross the North Sea.  I am hoping for at least one good day, but I assume the second day will be bad.

So everything must be put away.  Even the stuff that has never moved.  By doing so, this is the only way I will have the peace of mind to be willing to tackle the North Sea.  And I mean everything.  All the stuff that has been fine over these last 8k miles is now put away or secured.

Ywo possible routes. The top one is direct, the lower one in the shape of a "V" is that way because i may have to go SW due to strong NE winds.
Two possible routes.
The top one is direct, the lower one in the shape of a “V” is that way because i may have to go SW due to strong NE winds.

The transformer that is sitting on top of the battery box is now secured to the wall.  It had never moved before, but why risk it.

The crap that has collected on the helm.  The 4,000 pens and pencils, the markers, the rulers, sun glasses that I have not used in three years, all put away.

The 8 different chargers and cables, all put away.

Virtually everything that can cause a problem is secured.

That way, next week as I roll my way west, I’ll be miserable, but at least I won’t be worried.

 

 

.

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

If you have been following Dauntless at Share.Delorme.com/Dauntless then you already know the outcome, since this blog is on a tape delay.  That way there is no chance of a wardrobe malfunction.

Though I want to share some reflections of the last few days:

While it took three iterations of the Plan, the last plan was the best one and one can’t ask much more than that.  The first day, having departed from Elsinore, (yes, Hamlet’s castle),

The morning of Dauntless' departure.   Elsinore Castle. Hamlet doesn't live there anymore.
The morning of Dauntless’ departure.
Elsinore Castle. Hamlet doesn’t live there anymore.

early in the morning, there was a favorable current for about three hours.  Winds stayed light, for Dauntless that is less than 15 knots, for most of the day.

Dauntless track in magenta showing the jog we did to avoid one of these large ships, the Stena Danica. This was actually midnight, but I put the screen on "daylight" because i needed to make sure i understood the situation.
Dauntless track in magenta showing the jog we did to avoid one of these large ships, the Stena Danica.
This was actually midnight, but I put the screen on “daylight” because i needed to make sure i understood the situation.

Once I got past the first choke point off Anholt Island, it was mid-afternoon, so I decided it was a good time for dinner.  I grilled a mackerel I had bought in Denmark.  It was really tasty.  I realize that most mackerel I’ve had is not as tasty because it’s overcooked and not as fresh.

As the afternoon rolled on, being so close to the shipping lanes, I saw more ships than I had seen in the two days in the English Channel.  They were converging at the obvious choke point:  into the Kattegat, over the top of Denmark and into the Skagerrak.

And they made it into a four lane highway!  The slower ships would be going 10 to 12 knots and they were being passed by ships doing 15 knots.  And the ships were not more than a mile or two apart.

Then to add some spice, high speed ferries would be going perpendicular to this highway speeding by at 25 to 30 knots between Sweden and Denmark.

And of course dauntless plodding along at 6 knots had to stay out of everyone’s way.

By the time I passed over the top of the Jutland peninsula into the Skagerrak, I was exhausted.

The Jutland Peninsula
The Jutland Peninsula. All those little ++ are sites of sunken ships

The winds did pick up during the evening and into the night.  I turned west over the Jutland peninsula at around 03:30 and then went another hour to the west to make sure I was out of the shipping lanes and somewhat protected from the winds.  Anchoring was easy and I was finally in bed at 04:30.

I was so exhausted I did not go to sleep immediately, but probably did within 20 minutes, and then I awoke at 08:15, started the engine at 08:25 and had hauled the anchor and was underway at 08:32.

I must admit when I first awoke, I didn’t want to get up, I had only about 3 ½ hours’ sleep, but getting underway immediately made me feel pretty good, I knew I still had a long day ahead of me to Norway and I felt fine.

Thursday morning, anchored just west of the Skagen Peninsula. Clouds are cirrusstratus
Thursday morning, anchored just west of the Skagen Peninsula. I just finished hauling the anchor. Norway lies 90 miles to the north.
Clouds are cirrusstratus

Now once getting underway, I see numerous marks on the charts designating wreaks,++, a lot of wreaks.  Remember the Battle of Jutland was just west of here.  So leaving the Jutland Peninsula to the south, I’m seeing more and more boats showing up on the AIS and radar.

More than 50! They are fishing boats, evidently they must know exactly where all the wreaks are so as to maximize their fishing/trawling, but not lose any gear.

Anyway it was an interesting sight and clearly I had to detour around them.  But within minutes I hear a “securite” announcement on the VHF and basically it said a high speed ferry was coming thru so all those fishing boats better clear a path.

And they did, as I did.  The ferry was going 25 knots, he even called a Maersk ship to confirm he would pass behind him on the port side, which he did with at least a half mile to spare. Not more!

The AIS depiction in Coastal Explorer of the same fishing fleet
The AIS depiction in Coastal Explorer of the same fishing fleet
Radar depiction of the entire fishing fleet. Scale is only 3 miles, so all of those boats are concentrated in an area of 3 miles by 2 miles.
Radar depiction of the entire fishing fleet. Scale is only 3 miles, so all of those boats are concentrated in an area of 3 miles by 2 miles.

Then a bit later, the Matz Maersk passed in front of me, maybe a mile and produced the biggest wake I have seen in a while, at least 6 feet.  It caused breakers; I was impressed.

The Matz Maersk. This ship produced a tremendous wake, more than 6 feet, with breaking waves!
The Matz Maersk.
This ship produced a tremendous wake, more than 6 feet, with breaking waves!

After that that things started to quiet down because I was getting north of the shipping lanes.

By late afternoon, I could see Norway.

A great sight at the end of a great day.

I anchored that night in the islands of Norway.  The first place I had picked based on the chart, when I pulled into the cove, it was clearly too tight, so I backed out and went about ½ mile to the west and found a much better place.  I was only 50 feet from the island to the east, the direction the wind was blowing from, but I had about a quarter of a mile downwind to the west and that’s what I wanted.

I went to sleep and slept for 10 hours.

Hard to see, but these waves produced my that Maersk ship were 6 feet!
Hard to see, but these waves produced my that Maersk ship were 6 feet!

Next day, I had two hours into Kristiansand and in spite of the strong winds, this dock had both cleats and bollards, so it was easy to throw a line over and I was tied up in minutes in 30 knots of wind.

220 nm and 52 hours after leaving Denmark, I was in Norway.

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching Norway. With one Monitor showing the Nav Program Coastal Explorer and the Raymarine radar display next to it.
Approaching Norway. With one Monitor showing the Nav Program Coastal Explorer and the Raymarine radar display next to it.

Four short videos of my picking a spot to anchor:

  1. My initial choice:  

2. That won’t work:  

3.  This one is just right:  

4..  Where I did anchor:  

Please excuse the quality, I was busy.

 

Surrounded by Giant Behemoths

And the long night just started.

Dauntless track in magenta showing the jog we did to avoid one of these large ships. This was actually midnight, but I put the screen on "daylight" because i needed to make sure i understood the situation.
Dauntless track in magenta showing the jog we did to avoid one of these large ships.
This was actually midnight, but I put the screen on “daylight” because i needed to make sure i understood the situation.

Plan B did not last very long.  Once it got dark, surrounded by giant behemoths, I knew I needed a new plan, ummm let me think, let’s call it Plan C.

So let’s recap:

  • Plan A. Run for 12 hours, stop for 12 hours, do this for three days straight.
  • Plan B. Run continuously for 36 hours through the day, night and another day.

its dark and It’s near midnight.

There are lots of ships all heading for the same point around as we are all heading around the same point of land.

There are six ships in sight, not counting the trawler that I had to go around a few miles back.

I have a new plan.

There is too much traffic not to pay constant attention.  It was busy enough in the afternoon, but now that it’s dark, it has become really taxing.

The Navigation Program, Coastal Explorer with the Maretron display on the same monitor
The Navigation Program, Coastal Explorer with the Maretron display on the same monitor

One must correlate with what you see on the radar, then with the AIS depiction and what you actually see out of the window.  The last four hours have been constant scanning, the radar, the nav program (with AIS), what do we see out front, and on the beams?

And most of all, what do we see behind us? These cargo ships are going at least twice my speed and Dauntless barely shows up on radar.

I must constantly go from side to side in the pilot house, open the door and check to make sure of what is behind me, then return to the radar and AIS to make sure I am seeing everyone.  And they can see me.

Without AIS there would be a whole different problem, more like something like this, when small boats meet Giant Behemoths:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKctlvSSThM

which I had wanted to avoid, thus Plan C:

AIS display at 19:34
AIS display at 19:34 I’ve been able to get to the far right side of the fairway (just like a highway, with a center line (the white line just to the right of Dauntless, whose track is depicted with a magenta line.

I will anchor just on the west side of the Skagen peninsula.  I will curl around to the west and anchor just offshore in about 20 feet of water.  Now, the only problem is that is still 25 miles away, more than 4 hours.  I probably won’t get anchored until after 04:00, but it’s better than being run over.

P.S. In writing this, I apologize for not having more pictures to help me describe the situation better.

i thought I did, but in the heat of the moment, I was just trying to get run over or run into someone or something,