Some people have extravagant dreams of a life filled with adventure. Richard Bost had those, too. And then he bought a boat and crossed an ocean. Twice.
For Richard Bost, life is a series of adventures piled one on top of the other in a never-ending procession. For the past three years, he has been a man on the move aboard his Kadey-Krogen 42, Dauntless. The meteorologist-turned-teacher-turned-principal-turned-cruiser had never dreamed of being a transoceanic voyager, and really had little experience boating in general, until, fatefully, he picked up our sister publication PassageMaker and realized what was possible. Since then, he has been unofficially putting to the test Kadey-Krogen’s tagline “At Home on Any Sea.”
A fervent reader, he devoured all manner of information on cruising—from books to blogs to boating forums—prior to departing land for weeks on end. The lessons he learned before ever setting foot on a boat deck would prove to be crucial in his journeys. We profiled him prior to his first transoceanic voyage two years ago (“The Principal and the Crossing Guard,” December 2015). At that time, he was preparing to depart Rhode Island for Ireland and Europe. Since then, Bost has logged more than 166 days aboard Dauntless, sometimes in the company of a family member or friend, sometimes on his own, facing whatever the seas can throw at him. We most recently caught up with him after an especially fraught transatlantic passage from the Canary Islands to Martinique in the Lesser Antilles.
What made you want to go on a journey of this kind?
I can’t have a vacation where I have nothing to do. I might die of boredom. So when people ask me, “How come you don’t want to stay in the Caribbean,” I’m always at a loss for words. That was especially true last week, when I was a little tired of Dauntless, let me tell ya. But now this week starts, and I say, let’s get the hell out of here!
Where are you headed after the Caribbean and the Panama Canal?
On July 1, 2018, I want to be in Kodiak, Alaska, so I can cross the north Pacific through the Aleutians. The problem is there are northerly winds three-quarters of the time on the West Coast, from Central America all the way to Alaska. So the deal there is, when the winds aren’t blowing I can go north; when the winds blow, I’ll stay wherever I am. Hokkaido [Japan] is only 1,200 miles from Attu in the Aleutians. It’s sort of like, it’s not even a big passage anymore. If I go across in July when the weather is the most benign, I think it would be very interesting. So, that’s the plan.
Why did you choose a Kadey-Krogen 42?
I really believe that this is the best boat for what I’m doing. If money were no object, I’d have a Kadey-Krogen 48, but if you care about money, then this is probably the best boat to do it in, and I actually think it’s a better boat for the journey than any other model. It handles the seas really well. Your boat must be able to handle a following sea, and your autopilot must be capable, too. You have to have those two capabilities otherwise you couldn’t do [this type of cruising].
I have pictures of Dauntless sitting next to the fishing boats in Castletownbere in southern Ireland, and the lines of the boat are almost identical. I’ve never had water come over any of the rails of this boat, and I’ve been in big seas. So that’s a big issue—and it’s a function of the Krogen’s design. You need somebody who knows what the hell they’re doing when it comes to boat design. So, yeah, the boat rolls like a son of a bitch, but part of that rolling, what you’re paying for—yeah, the cross is the rolling—but you’re getting this really efficient hull that goes through the water really easily.
What first inspired you to take on the challenge of long-range cruising?
I was coming back from a trip when I picked up a copy of PassageMaker—never had I seen it before. And all of a sudden it dawned on me that I could live on a boat, and if I didn’t like one town I could go on to the next one. If I didn’t like a particular country I could cruise to another. That’s how it all started. I spent months and months thinking about boats and reading all of these things. I knew nothing about boats at the time. I had some basic knowledge, but I pretty much knew nothing. It took me about six months to figure it out. And I knew I needed a full-displacement hull.
I had this plan to cross oceans and cruise around the world, even before I actually had a particular boat in mind. Then I started realizing, okay, now I’ve got to find a boat to do all of this, one that can cross oceans, and one I can afford to put fuel in, because that’s an issue.
How many nautical miles have you logged to date?
About 19,000 or 20,000 miles, which comes out to 4,000 hours on the boat, with an average speed of 5.2 knots. My fuel consumption has been 1.3 gallons per hour. Basically, for this boat it costs me one dollar a nautical mile. If I had a bigger boat that consumed twice the fuel, well, all of a sudden a passage across the Atlantic costs me $6,000 to $8,000. I can’t afford that. I can afford $3,000 or $4,000, but I can’t afford double that amount.
How have you managed provisioning at each port?
As I get more experience, I need fewer supplies. Before we first came across the Atlantic, we spent weeks figuring out what we wanted to get on the boat, and basically I had enough food to feed a small family for five years. Just this past summer, my nephews were still eating canned food that I bought two years ago! I finally got rid of it, thank God. I had too much food. This trip, coming across the Atlantic [a second] time, we did nothing special. I mean, we went to the grocery store and spent $150 on food, but that’s it.
I’ve stopped in Latvia because I knew provisions were cheap, even though I was going to Finland and Helsinki and back to Sweden. But I bought a few weeks worth of food because I didn’t want to pay Finnish prices. In the last three years I’ve gotten used to stocking up the boat when cheap provisions were available. At this time, I probably have about 40 liters of wine on board because it was cheaper in Europe than it is here [in Martinique]. But for the most part, I spend less time worrying about that kind of thing now.
What have you learned since leaving shore that you wish you knew at the beginning of your trip?
I don’t want to sound too egotistical, but in terms of the journey itself, I didn’t learn a lot of things I didn’t already know and expect. Certainly nothing significant. Part of that is due to the planning and reading I did prior to departure. People don’t realize I spent four or five years preparing for the trip. During that period, when I’d go to sleep at night, the last thing I’d do would be to picture different aspects of the boat, and situations that could occur while crossing the Atlantic. I was a high school principal; I’m not stupid.
What spares do you carry with you?
I’ve probably spent $20,000 on spare parts since I’ve had the boat. But I only keep spares that I can use for quick fixes. I don’t have a piston on board because I’m not going to do an engine repair in the middle of the Atlantic. The wind will push me either to Europe or North America!
What are the most rewarding aspects of being at sea for this long, and when have you felt most challenged?
The last 24 hours going into Ireland were the worst. It was a tremendous storm with 40 knots of wind and 30-foot waves. I realized I was miserable, the boat was beat up and I had only one paravane. I just decided to head north; the winds were on my beam, I didn’t give a shit. I just wanted to get to Ireland because I was miserable. I sort of hunkered down in the pilothouse. I even had to change the way I laid down on the bench because otherwise my head felt like it was upside-down. But I did realize that as miserable as I was, well, the boat was doing fine.
My friend Larry was on the boat [for another leg]. We crossed from Ireland to France in June 2015, and it was really rough. And he was afraid, he told me later. But he said, “You know what, after a while I became unafraid when I realized Dauntless didn’t fight the seas. She sort of went with them.” I thought that was a great way to describe it.
Would you rather travel alone or with others?
For me, it’s a mixed blessing to have somebody on board. If things get really bad and somebody is there, I get stressed about that other person. If they’re unhappy, I’m unhappy. Whereas if no one is present, I’m okay with that situation.
Talk to me about this last passage across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Martinique.
There have been issues on every trip I’ve made. Some of them were caused by me—you know, stupid stuff. Some of the issues were things you would expect to happen. For instance, one of the hydraulics for the rudder sprang a leak. But it sprang a leak because I was being stupid.
On this particular trip to Martinique, the seas were really crappy. I had invited a few other people to come across with me because it was supposed to be an easy passage, but was miserable. I’m glad nobody came. It was the North Atlantic; I got what I expected. I’d been watching the weather a long time. I knew there was this big, elongated area of light winds and flattish seas that extended southwest from the Canaries. I wanted to stay in the calm area, but I never found it! Since I’ve been here in Martinique I’ve talked to four different crews that came across at the same time, and every boat had problems. The flagpole broke on this Swedish sailboat next to me. Another boat had rudder problems; his water cable broke. We all had these little issues and they had something to do with 20 days of 10- to 25-foot waves. And this is what people don’t get: There wasn’t one wave set, there were three. There was a northeast wave set, an easterly and a southeasterly.
Here’s what would happen. We’d have this 10- to 15-foot swell come from behind us in the east, for about a nine-second period. But there was still this northeast swell and a big southeast swell. Every five to eight minutes, the southeast and the northeast waves would be under the back of the boat. The front of the boat would fall into this big trough, and then the bow would point up at the stars as if we were going to take off like a rocket. Then you’d look out ahead and see this wave that’s as high as my anchor pulpit, and at that point—because you’re sitting in the pilothouse—all of a sudden you’re 40 feet above sea level. And then you’d do the same thing a few minutes later.
The winds never let up. For one day, we had wind at 15 to 18 knots, but that was it. The rest of the time, winds were between 18 and 35 knots.
I had planned to go to Barbados, but I couldn’t get that far south because we had 10 days of southeasterly winds. Finally after a week, I texted some of my friends. I can’t get to Barbados, I wrote. If I run 250 degrees instead of 230 degrees, where should I go? And they suggested Martinique.
What advice would you give to those planning a passage of this magnitude or those who wish to recreate your route in its entirety?
If somebody wants to do this trip, the number-one thing they need is a well-found boat, one they’re not going to have any problems with. One of the advantages I had on this particular boat was that the first owner was meticulous about record-keeping.
The second owner had the boat about eight years, and he barely used it, but he spent a lot of money to maintain it. Everything that wasn’t metal on the engine had been replaced, so all the hoses were relatively new, as were the belts. The hydraulic hose that failed was one of the few hoses that was very old. And it didn’t fail on its own; it failed because I helped it.
What have you learned throughout your various travels?
I’ve learned lessons on every leg. On the Atlantic trip I was sucking water in; it took me a year to figure out where it was coming from. I finally figured out it was coming from the vent from the fuel tank. That’s because the boat was spending so much time heeled over, and this stupid vent was under the rip rail, so it was actually sucking water into the tank. When I got to Ireland I had about 10 gallons of water in the bilge! So the lesson I learned from that experience was to move the vent.
I make a summary of every crossing after it’s complete, and I put the information in a blog because somebody like me might want to read about the experience and learn from it. For instance, I know that I won’t die if I stop my boat in the water, even with big waves. Was I afraid when it happened the first time? A little bit. But I now realize that people stop their boats in big waves all of the time.
In addition to running a computer with Rose Point nav software, Bost uses Navionics on his iPad as a backup. One of his favorite tools is his DeLorme inReach that lets him send texts and position to those following his blog.
Follow Bost and all of his adventures on his blog, dauntlessatsea.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.