The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Corbin 39 in Sailing Magazine

This photograph of Jakatar was featured in a "Used Boat Notebook" article published in Sailing Magazine. The writer David Liscio contacted me, through the Corbin 39 Association, and I made some observations about Corbin 39 sailboats which he included in the article.

Another shot below, now with a solar panel instead of the wind generator. I much prefer the solar panel. No noise, nothing moves and, hopefully, nothing breaks down. 

Sailing Magazine's Used Boat Notebook is meant to give readers summary information about a sailboat's merits. This was David Liscio's summary conclusion: "A sleek, rugged, bluewater cutter, the Corbin 39 merges sea-kindliness with comfort and proves ideal for a cruising couple or small family."

What about the interior, you may ask. The video below takes you on a tour of Jakatar's interior. Note that Jakatar is a model of simplicity, perhaps excessively so. Even so, it's very spacious and cozy, especially if you like wood finish...lots of wood.

I'm planning to visit the boat in the coming days to spend a week of lockdown time aboard. Lockdown, in this case, is a 5-day nationwide ban on the crossing of municipality borders.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Killer whales attacking sailboats near Portugal and Spain

More than 30 orca attacks on sailboats since July 2020 could have a devastating impact on thousands of yachts sailing through the Portuguese and Spanish coastline each year. 

The video below shows one of the first attacks. Courtesy of the Guardian. 

As far as I know, the first incident occurred on July 23, 2020. A sailor called Alfonso Gomez encountered four orcas that rammed his boat for over 50 minutes. "Once we had stopped, they came in faster at 10 to 15 knots, from a distance of about 25 m," he said. "The impact tipped the boat sideways."

On the previous night, at about 11:00 p.m., a few killer whales forced Beverly Harris and Kevin Large's 50-foot sailboat to a stop and spun it around several times for about 20 minutes. "I had this weird sensation," Harris said, "that they were trying to lift the boat." Earlier that very night, the whales struck Nick Giles' 34-foot sailboat with such force that he was left without steering. The killer whales then pushed the boat for 15 minutes before finally leaving.

Since that day, more than 30 similar incidents have been reported. On September 23, 2020, Spain's transport ministry even banned yachts less than 15 m long from sailing in the 60-mile area in the Atlantic coastline from Ferrol to the Estaca de Bares Cape, where the attacks were occurring.

However, the attacks have continued, now along the Portuguese coast, especially near Sines, a popular anchorage and marina for transients. It seems that 3 juvenile orcas (or the group to which they belong) have perpetrated all known attacks. And that makes sense since all attacks have occurred in only one area at any given time. The locations have changed because this group of orcas roam the coastline searching for the best hunting spots. Apparently they have settled in the Sines area for now.  

The last attack was reported a few days ago when the young delinquent orcas attacked an 8-m sailboat crewed by three French sailors on their way to Porto Santo, a small island near Madeira. The whales broke the boat's rudder and they had to be towed into the port of Sines. 

It seems that these young orcas are on a playful mission to destroy rudders and disable vessels. As far as I know, they have only attacked sailboats, likely due to the length and shape of their rudders. 

So far, authorities have issued recommendations on actions to take when being attacked: stop sailing and/or motoring; do not perform any avoidance maneuvers; and shut everything off, particularly the depth sounder. It is believed that they are more likely to get bored of biting and ramming rudders if the vessel stops moving. 

Have a look for yourself.

Below is an informative and well written summary by BBC about what's been going on:

BBC Article on Rogue Killer Whales

More samples of newspaper reports.

German sailor attacked near Sines

Guardian article and film clip

48 ft Scottish boat is attacked

If I get attacked, I'll be sure to film it or take photographs.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Marina vs Mooring

"A man is never lost at sea."  - Ernest Hemingway
Is Hemingway's motto also applicable to a mooring?

Jakatar has been on a mooring in Alvor since July 2019. What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping a boat on a mooring 350 km from home compared to maintaining it at a marina 15 km away?
Marina - Mooring Costs Comparison


In Euros €

Marina (Peniche, Portugal)

Mooring (Alvor)


Initial cost of mooring divided by 10 years



Cost of building a mooring. Built it myself suspended from the boat (see previous post)

Yearly marina/mooring fees




Yearly costs of visiting the boat



15 km to Peniche x 100 visits

350 km to Alvor x 10 visits

Fenders and lines / chain








Total per year

€ 2,050

€ 790


What I like (or used to like) about keeping the boat at a nearby marina:
1. Easy to visit without the need to take and deploy a dinghy;
2. Electricity and water on demand;
3. Other boaters to socialize with;
4. Easier to do boat maintenance and restoration work;
5. The annual 1-month round trip to the Algarve was always a mini adventure.

What I like about keeping the boat on a mooring farther away:
1. Visiting the boat is like going on a holiday, an escape;
2. Less expensive;
3. Greater sense of adventure, even though I already live in a beach town;
4. Less worries about fenders, dock lines and storms (the mooring field is way more protected, and I've never lost a minute's sleep due to bad weather.

Since I like both options, I should own two sailboats.
Ideally, I would buy a small inexpensive boat and keep it nearby for day sails. It is a somewhat known fact that small boats are sailed way, way more than larger boats. Haven't bought the small boat yet because I've been too busy crewing on friends' boats and on short and multi-day trips. Sailors have a hard life - too many choices. 

Jakatar in the background, waiting for some action. On my last visit, on October 26, the sunken boat's mast was visible only at low tide. Somewhat dangerous in my opinion. 

The channel leading to the entrance. I've never seen so many sailboats anchored/moored here in winter with people living/staying aboard. Must be virus refugees.

The anchorage basin

Alvor by night

Going for a walk on the beach. Ironically, I do a lot of walking on land when I visit Jakatar.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Building a Mooring and Deploying it from the Boat

I gave up my marina berth in Peniche and decided to place Jakatar on a mooring in Alvor, Algarve, 350 kilometres to the south. Since I would not have a car or a place to build a mooring ashore or even the means of deploying it, I decided to take all the materials from Peniche and to build the block on the boat and on-site in the Alvor anchorage.

Nearly everyone I talked to thought I was making a big mistake or downright crazy (even me at times!). But, as time went by, the idea began to grow on me and there was no way I would pass up this opportunity for yet another adventure in boat ownership.

About six months in advance I began to design a mooring that could be feasibly launched from the boat. It took some time before I discarded a number of dubious mooring designs: a steel box frame assembled on-site using pre-drilled bars weighed down with 20-kg precast concrete blocks; a bunch of concrete blocks tied to the stud link chain; or a long iron bar with large spikes weighed down with the above-mentioned concrete blocks.

In the end, I decided on making a single concrete block on-site. I planned and revised the procedure, step by step, to the smallest detail.

Plywood box assembled on-site and on deck
A 4x4 pine lumber section under the box and fastened with an eyepiece as shown below
6 metres of 22 mm stud link chain
8 metres of 10 mm galvanised chain
10 mm high quality stainless steel swivel and galvanised shackles
18 metres of rebar cut into desired lengths
100 kg of cement
320 kg of coarse river sand
150 kg of dense beach stones of varying sizes
Pails, old blankets, tarp, etc.
Total cost: about 337 euros, not the including the mooring buoy which is also another invention

Eyelet piece going through the pre-drilled box and 4x4 lumber section, which held all the weight until the concrete cured.
Step 1
Assemble the box on deck with screws. When finished, raise it with a foresail halyard and drop it on the dinghy alongside the boat.
Place fenders (preferably high density fenders) between the box and hull.
Move the box to the bow and fasten it temporarily with a line.
Lower the heavy bottom chain and shackle it to the eyepiece.
Connect the heavy chain to the riser chain with a swivel and necessary shackles that must be moused using monel seizing wire or equivalent method.
Fasten a strong line (preferably Dyneema or Spectra) to a cleat that  then runs through a link in the suspended heavy chain, as shown in the second photograph below, and which comes back up through the bow roller to the drum on the winch. Tie the bitter end to a cleat and give yourself enough excess line to drop the mooring to the bottom.
You could, optionally, also use a chain hoist fastened to the bow roller.
Tie another backup line to the chain, just in case the load-bearing line breaks or somehow comes loose.

Step 2
Place blankets, tarps, etc. on the fore-deck, pour cement into large bucket and sand into another. Use two smaller buckets to mix the concrete, 3 parts sand to 1 part cement.
Tie a a line to each bucket and lower them with the mixed concrete to box level.
Ideally, one person would mix the concrete and another would be in a dinghy below pouring the concrete into the box.
Place rocks in the concrete as you go along (rocks are heavier than concrete and thus lose less weight underwater).

Step 3
When full, allow the concrete to cure sufficiently (a few hours) so that it does not wash away.
Next, slowly drop the box to the bottom. Note that concrete cures better under water than when exposed to air (it's a chemical curing process rather than a drying process).
I let it cure for two days because I had 4 rebar pieces penetrating the box bottom (30 cm below and 20 cm into the box) for greater holding power. The concrete had to be sufficiently hard to hold these rebar pieces in place when the box hit the bottom.

Step 4
Position the boat at desired location using a second anchor. I did this at 3 a.m. when there was no traffic, no wind and at low tide. I rowed out a F-11 fortress anchor and then used it to pull the boat forward and to port.

Step 4
To lower the concrete mooring block, slightly loosen the bitter end of the line that is rolled onto the winch drum, give it 50 cm of slack and refasten to the cleat. If the line is wound 3 or 4 turns on the winch drum it will be held in place and you must ease it for it to slip. Don't get your fingers between the drum and the line. Always use a backup line tied to the chain and fastened to a strong point, and ease it accordingly.
Repeat this operation until the block lands on the bottom and then pull on the line to retrieve it.

Step 5
Get a drink, relax and celebrate. You've just built and deployed a 600 kg mooring block.
I used only 600 kg for a Corbin 39 sailboat because the bottom is soft mud in which the block will sink and create incredible suction holding power. I also have about 2.5 / 1 scope.
The heavy bottom chain is also sufficiently long to inspect the swivel and shackles between it and the riser chain simply by winching up the calibrated riser chain that comes aboard. The load is taken by two line snubbers, and the chain is attached to the boat as a bullet-proof backup. I sleep very well even on very windy nights.

With a bit of luck, the boat won't end up like this old English boat that sank in the anchorage a few years ago and which was refloated while I was building my mooring.

If you attempt to build a mooring in this manner, you need a boat with a sufficiently strong bow roller. A bow sheer also makes it a lot easier, otherwise you would need a rectangular box.