Journey from Rhode Island to Ireland Via the Azores

The Atlantic Passage of Dauntless

With nothing more than each other and their 1988 Krogen 42′, accurately named Dauntless, Richard Bost and his wife, Julie Nariman, successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 26 days last summer. Pining to plan a passage? Perhaps more inclined to read their brave account from the safety of your slip? We can all learn a thing or two about perseverance and preparedness from their story. Congratulations to Richard and Julie who have shown once again that a Kadey-Krogen is At Home on Any Sea.™ Continued on page 2 not double or triple that. Thus, we had to find a boat that consumed less than two gallons per hour and with the range to do it for 400 hours continuously. Ultimately, the single-engine Kadey-Krogen became the obvious choice with her renowned efficiency and adequate living space. Six years ago, Julie and I developed a vision. To live on a boat that could take us any place we wanted to go, in a manner we could afford. We have always enjoyed traveling together, especially to Europe to visit the friends I made when I was stationed with the Air Force (30 years ago) in Italy, Germany, and Holland. Julie has lived abroad in South Korea, and together we share a bond and mutual desire for living a vibrant life around the world. Our goal quickly became finding the boat that could make this vision happen for us.

We figured we could afford three to four thousand dollars in fuel every few years, but certainly not double or triple that. Thus, we had to find a boat that consumed less than two gallons per hour and with the range to do it for 400 hours continuously. Ultimately, the single-engine Kadey-Krogen became the obvious choice with her renowned efficiency and adequate living space.

The Learning Curve

Picking up an issue of PassageMaker magazine set our journey in motion. That reading led to Robert Beebe’s book, Passagemaking Under Power, and Les Weatherrit’s books, Atlantic Crossings and Your First Atlantic Crossing. Then I proceeded to read anything and everything about people in small boats, buying small boats, fixing small boats, making passages in small boats, until within months, there was nothing else to read about powerboats. So I continued to read about making passages in sailboats.

In the midst of our boat search, we made sure to get some practical experience. We registered for Captain Bob’s Trawler School, a four-day, four-night learning experience in Southern Florida. Julie hadn’t done most of the reading I had, and she wanted to see if this was a viable lifestyle for the both of us. The answer after trawler school, despite being chased out of the water by a dolphin, was yes!

I also joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and was able to spend time on boats once or twice a week for six months. I quickly became confident and comfortable tying knots, docking, navigating, using radio communications, etc. When we bought Dauntless, a 1988 Krogen 42′, from Kadey-Krogen Yachts in 2011, we didn’t hesitate to take her straight out to the ocean the first day we owned her. We ended up buying Dauntless a little earlier than we had originally planned. That was fortunate because it gave us the opportunity to move the boat up and down the East Coast, to get the paravane stabilizers installed, and finally cruise back up to New England, to ready her for our passage across the North Atlantic.

We ended up with more than 1,300 hours and 7,000 nautical miles under our belts before we took the next big step. Passage preparations What did the boat preparations entail? We needed to add a form of stabilization, an AIS transceiver, a fuel polishing system, and communication beyond VHF. Other things like a water maker and 12-volt fridge and freezer were also on our list.

Additionally, we stocked spare parts for our trusty Ford Lehman SP135 engine and changed the three heat exchangers, the fan belt and the raw water impeller. We added a dedicated computer for the boat with dual monitors, Maretron data sensors, including a new solid state compass and Rose Points’ Coastal Explorer navigation program, which allowed us to use new, less expensive worldwide charts (C-Maps) from Jeppesen. Of course we were able to do all of these things because of our trust fund. Not.


How did it end up just the two of us? Our original plan was for two others to cruise with me, and have Julie join us halfway. I had communicated regularly with guys who had expressed firm interest in the trip. But as we got closer to the day of departure, these people disappeared.

Eventually, Julie said to me, “Instead of me going mid-way, why don’t I just go on the first part of the voyage?” This was a great solution; to start our trip together, as the team we have always been, was really comforting. It also sparked a series of questions from friends and family, almost all of which were directed at Julie.

“What are you going to do when you run out of fuel?”

“Have you seen The Perfect Storm?”

“Have you seen that one Robert Redford sailboat movie?”

After sharing our preparations and explaining how they could communicate with us via the DeLorme InReach device, our loved ones became more optimistic and even supportive. We couldn’t have asked for a better group cheering us on.

Route Change & One Last Stop

To get to Ireland, we wanted to take the Great Circle Route and go from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland to Ireland. But the heavier than normal ice off St. John’s meant that St. John’s would have been very difficult for us to reach without navigating extensive icebergs. Traveling on the open ocean at night is only fun when you know there’s no icebergs out there for you to hit.

So, we had a dilemma. To reach Ireland directly from Nova Scotia (2,300 nautical miles), I was sure our Kadey-Krogen had the range to do it, but Julie only had three weeks of vacation. Between her time constraint, the ice conditions and the distance involved, we decided that a stop in the Azores was the best route.

The night before we left Rhode Island, we stayed up until 3 A.M. doing small chores, like installing 11 Lexan storm windows, and other things that should have been done weeks, if not months, earlier. A friend of ours cast us off at 6 A.M., and he politely did not comment that every single surface—counters, couches, and beds—was covered in tools, provisions, and clothing that still needed to be put away. We figured we could do it before we left Cape Cod two days later, and we did, for the most part.

Our Atlantic Crossing to the Azores

On our last evening in Cape Cod we fired up our grill and had rack of lamb, washed down with Vino Verde to get us into a Portuguese frame of mind. We left Cape Cod and set our course east-northeast, a bit north of the Great Circle Route. An hour or two later, as we were finally getting east of the peninsula, we were hailed by a crossing vessel asking us if we were looking for whales. We responded, “No, we’re heading to the Azores.”

He replied with an incredulous, “What? Where? Did you just say the Azores?”

“Yes,” we answered.

“God bless you,” he said.

This turned out to be the first, last, and only boat we talked to for the entire passage. Winds had picked up from the south-southeast. Not wanting to have the seas directly on our beam, we headed east-northeast and after a day and a half, we were about 30 miles south of Nova Scotia. Being so close to another fuel stop–though I knew we didn’t need it, but pictured us running out of fuel only miles from the Azores, lamenting the fact that we had passed up this last opportunity to top up our tanks—we stopped in Shelburne and got 87 gallons. Dauntless now had full tanks at 700 gallons. At sea, we quickly developed a daily routine. The weather was worse than normal for this time of year, with south to west winds at 15 to 25 knots pretty much every day for 13 days. We had less than 48 hours of winds that were less than five knots. On those two days, we spotted humpback whales and sea turtles.

The first few days we had occasional problems. First it was the water maker auxiliary pump, and then the inline fuse for the water maker, and on the third day, the 3/8-inch bolt holding the cleat to the mast broke with a pistol-like shot. I re-tied the cleat around the mast using a clove hitch. On Day Four out of Nova Scotia, we had no crisis and wouldn’t have another on this leg. And, really, all three incidents had one thing in common–I assumed the problem was more complicated than it was.

In about the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we got our best weather with sun and light winds. We even took the time to stop the boat, though with the engine running, and went for a swim in 15,000-foot-deep water. We were so amazed how blue the water was, and how much saltier it was than the azure water of the Bahamas. It was mesmerizing.

Upon landfall in the Azores, we faced one of the most dangerous parts of the entire trip, docking our Krogen 42′ in the little marina. People have asked if we got off the boat and kissed the land. Nope, and we never even thought of it.

The Azores

A beautiful place with wonderful people and delicious food! The island of Flores was a jewel—and no tourists except for two or three other transiting boats. Our second stop was Horta, which is the main stopping point for Atlantic passages. Surprisingly, in a marina with more than 100 boats, less than 20 of them were in transit. Like marinas all over the world, it was filled with boats that never seem to go anyplace. Dauntless was one of only two boats, and the first powerboat, from the United States they had seen in years. [Editor’s note: Krogen 44′ Le Reve was there in 2008 as part of her Atlantic crossing.] The other American boat, a sailboat, had taken 40 days from North Carolina, having found very little wind. We must have found ALL of its wind.

As planned, two days after arriving in the Azores, Julie flew home, and I was left to wait for the weather to improve. I needed to cruise north-northeast for Ireland. I’m actually a meteorologist and spent 10 years forecasting the weather and another 10 years in weather-related jobs. I then became a teacher in New York City to teach Earth Science, which covers meteorology, geology and astronomy. Armed with all this knowledge and experience, I do not risk my life or boat based on a weather forecast, ever. Computers give us an implied precision that simply does not exist.

Azores to Ireland

While in Horta, I searched for a crewmate who wanted to go to Ireland. I found one person, but sadly, his work needed him more than I did. I was disappointed, but as it turned out, it was better that I was alone. With the deteriorating weather, another person on board would have added unneeded anxiety. And, perhaps more importantly, I didn’t have to try to please anyone in terms of destination, course, speed, movement of the boat, or anything else. As tough as this leg was, I wasn’t really afraid, just miserable. My routine was pretty much the same only, instead of going to the cabin at sunset to sleep, I made my bed on the pilothouse bench. And I got really bored. Julie and I constantly found things to talk about, and I always benefit from talking through decisions with her. And, this is evident by one of the courses I took! In 48 hours, I made a net distance of only 100 nautical miles because I went northwest, then southeast, then north again.

Upon leaving Horta, the winds were 15 knots, producing seas three to five feet. Little did I realize though that these conditions would end up being the smallest seas I would see for the next 11 days. Yes, if I could see the future, I would have turned around and waited. The boat handled everything that was thrown at her, so the weakest link was in my brain. Because of communications through DeLorme InReach, I knew a bigger storm was brewing. So at 8 P.M. on my ninth night out of Horta, my course had me heading to Land’s End, England. At this point, Brest, France, was 290 nautical miles east, Land’s End was 270 nautical miles northeast, and Castletownbere, Ireland, was 220 nautical miles north. I knew no matter what the winds did, I would be in one of those places within two or three days. Fuel was good and I went to sleep that night feeling all was right in the world.

However, a few hours later, Dauntless woke me as only she can. I was rolled out my pilothouse bed with a roll that seemed to bring me to my feet. This would start the last 47 hours of my Atlantic Passage and would be the biggest ordeal Dauntless and I had ever faced.

The big roll (25 degrees to port) was caused by 36-knot winds and waves from the southeast. The dew point also jumped 10 degrees, so I knew this was a warm front passage. The barometer was dropping like a stone and the winds were howling out of the south at 35 to 45 knots.

The southerly winds lasted only four hours, but long enough to get me 20 nautical miles closer (only 200 to go)! Dauntless was rolling more she had ever rolled, with or without paravanes. By mid-morning winds were strong out of the west and I was struggling to keep a course that was north, without being pounded by 10-foot waves on the beam that were continuing to build. Thankfully, I was able to communicate with fellow Kadey-Krogen owners, Karel and Mi Joung De Regge, who live in Castletownbere. They were waiting for me and it was beyond comforting to know that no matter how bad it got, someone would be there for me on the dock.

The barometer had bottomed out at 995 millibars, which meant the west winds were unlikely to change direction. They did get stronger, 30 knots gusting to 40 knots by mid-afternoon. I watched as one of the blue cushions on the foredeck got picked up by the wind and flew off. I decided that the rest of the cushions would just have to hang on tight, as it was not worthwhile to go out and get them in this weather. A good decision. By midnight I was getting used to the roll, 20 degrees in one direction, 30 degrees in the other. I needed to sleep, and only 25 hours away, I slept well.

The next day, I hear a thump, not loud, but I look to port and see no paravane pole. Bad. Putting the engine at idle and neutral, I find the top of the pole near the stern of the boat. It takes me half an hour just to get it out of the water and tied to the fly deck. My course was due north, and the winds and seas were from the southwest to west. At this point I was going to Ireland or bust. Having people there was my encouragement, and I did not want to go anywhere else.

Later, up on the flybridge I had my scariest moment of the entire passage. I was seeing for the first time how big these waves were. Some clearly 16 feet or higher, and they are hitting the boat on her beam. The boat rolled and I was hanging on for dear life. But again, once Dauntless and I survived that first roll, I realized it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I just stayed seated on the port bench, bracing myself with my foot on the helm chair, as the boat handled the sea.

Even now, it’s hard to describe my feelings. I was certainly miserable, but not really afraid.

Countless boats have come to grief so near their final destination, and with only hours left and land 15 to 20 miles away, I stayed alert as ever because I was not going to let that happen to me. Karel, waiting for me on the dock, gave me clear instructions, which made it easy as I pulled into the harbor of Castletownbere. At 1:40 A.M, on the morning of August 29, 2014, I saw the De Regges standing on the dock.

Our Atlantic Passage was over.


Final note:

We believe that if you get the outcome you wanted, it’s hard to fault the method that achieved that outcome. I’ve been asked why we did not do such and such, change this, modify that, etc. The bottom line for us was that Dauntless was a wonderfully designed boat for doing exactly what we wanted to do. It was made to cross the ocean as-is. And even with all of our “needed” changes, it would have crossed just as successfully without them. Too many times, changing one thing affects something else. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading.

Reflections on our 26-day, 3,600-nautical mile Atlantic passage

Things that we did well:

  • I took advantage of training, learning and reading
  • We invested in upgrades and alterations • Fuel consumption was just as anticipated
  • 1,048 gallons of diesel used in 622 hours at an average speed of 5.7 knots
  • 3.4 nm/gal or 1.7 gal/hour

What we could have done differently:

  • Too many things left to the last minute • I should have gotten the fuel sooner, so I could have spent more time polishing it
  • We bought a lot of things we never eat and forgot about the stuff we like
  • Forgot that Julie really likes eggs and eats them every day
  • Forgot that I enjoy a gin and tonic during cocktail hour
  • At the time of writing, we still have 50 pounds of rice and 24 cans of mandarin oranges