The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

The Sailboat

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weather Diary


Inspired by a statement in my last post - "we're in an age when life doesn't seem to exist unless you photograph it" - I decided to keep a weather diary. This implies taking at least one outdoor photograph per day, recording basic weather information and writing a brief thought for the day.

The excitement is almost unbearable! I know. Titillating or not, I had to do it to get it out of my system. After 4 days or so, it still seems like a good idea, better than collecting stamps - I think.

Besides, sailing and weather are like hats and heads. Show me a sailor (as in, sailboat owner) who doesn't have at least a casual interest in weather and I'll show you a person who owns a hat but has no head.

Drove to the marina, ran the engine in reverse, checked the fluids, dried the bilges, talked to sailors, saw a Walker Bay sailing dinghy a friend bought. That was my afternoon in a nutshell, slow living in sunny winter weather.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Attitude-changing Event

Climbing a 51-foot mast solo can be an attitude-changing event.

top climber
Scraping the top of the mast and having some soul-searching thoughts.
It took about 10 minutes, a lot of grunting and two stops on the spreaders to climb the mast all the way up. When I reached the top, I was tired and not very enthusiastic about scraping for 2 hours. Maybe its' because I've put on some weight (the bathroom scale says 94 kg), maybe it's because I stopped doing my morning 30-minute Rambo exercises last summer, maybe I'm getting older!! 

Once there, I rested on the Top Climber chair, regained my strength and admired the landscape. That's when the trouble started.

What trouble? Thinking trouble, that's what. I have a bad habit of either thinking too much, not enough or not at all.

Being busy thinking didn't prevent me from taking some pictures. After all, we're in an age when life doesn't seem to exist unless you photograph it. It won't be long before lovers have sex wearing a camera. But I digress.

Corbin 39 deck layout
Jakatar looks smaller from this perspective.
Peniche Marina
Beautifully calm day.
Port of Peniche
Most of the fishing boats are out catching fish in the morning. It's best to climb the mast before they return in a hurry, way over the port's speed limit, creating wakes that turn the marina into a corral of bucking rodeo boats. Even a little wake amplifies motion at the top of the mast and will bang you against it like a bell knocker.
Mast top maintenance
The yellow stains are what's left of the etch primer that was supposed to adhere to the aluminum. I also hope this shackle is better than the one that parted and cost me my Rocna anchor and 150 feet of BBB chain. 
So, what was I thinking up there?

First, it was hard work climbing the mast, and I absolutely need to go on a diet. Weighing 94 kg is simply unacceptable. I don't look fat, I'm simply heavy. I also need to start exercising again.

Second, there was no reason to moan about the never-ending boat work. Isn't this what makes life more exciting. It's surely better than boredom, illness and death. This would sound really cliche-ish, I know, if a friend who is my age hadn't died a few days ago. He got up from the couch, keeled over and died, just like that. If that weren't bad enough, another friend, also my age and who lives in town, has just been told that his persistent toothache is jaw cancer. Who's next?

Moral of the story: I'm alive - climbing the mast to scrape for hours, repairing stuff, losing an expensive anchor and chain, spending way too much money on an over-sized boat, and having a stress-filled profession is "life." Luckily, I'm not the type to feel sorry for myself, although I like to complain once in a while.

What makes this a life-changing event, you may ask? It fortified my positive attitude which, next to health, is probably one of the best things in life.

You don't need to be totally free to feel alive, having a good attitude goes a long way.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Purpose in Life

I woke up with a kayak in my head, feeling restless, needing a purpose in life on a day without plans.

It's winter now and I'm unlikely to do much sailing until the weather warms up to a decent temperature; so why not go paddle a kayak instead? It made perfect sense as I lay in bed in the early morning, like it always does lying in bed.

I leaped out of bed, ate, showered, and made the short drive to Paimogo. 
At Paimogo, I checked the wave conditions on a calm day. Looks ideal near the ramp. Fighting your way in a kayak past breaking waves might be fun on a hot summer day, but miserable in cold weather.
(Photograph taken with my new Galaxy S3 Neo smartphone. Bought it for 5 reasons (excuses): can use it as a road and marine chartplotter; takes decent pictures; it's great for reading E-books even without my glasses; it's useful for my holiday home rental business; and it was on sale.
Next, I roared off to the nearest Decathlon store, in Torres Vedras about 15 km away, to buy a wetsuit. The one I already own is a full-body suit that I use for scraping Jakatar's bottom and cutting lines wrapped in the propeller; besides, it's dirty with antifouling paint.

At Decathlon, I found myself trying on a XXL suit going for €54.95. During the struggle to slide it up my torso, I worried I was going to tear the thing apart. Should have stripped down naked. Should have asked the salesgirl for instructions.
OK, maybe this is why I really bought the smartphone! We're living in strange times, I tell you.
XXL is tight. It must be the height problem, I only weigh 94 kg! So I tried another model, size 2XL, with a price ticket of €59.95.

Perfect height, but a bit baggy.
Then I had a dilemma: one suit felt tight but, on the positive side, it won't fill up with water in the event of an accidental capsize; the other one felt comfortable and better for paddling, but all that extra space would fill with water. Besides, if the kayaking gig falls through, I can always use the tight one for diving, and it's an incentive for losing some weight. The tight one it shall be.

Oh yes, and here is the kayak, a Bic Bilbao, I bought a couple of years ago.
Warmer days in Culatra. 
Today I'm going to hunt for the diving shoes that are stored somewhere in the boat, I think. If I go kayaking only once or twice, it's still better than blowing 55 euros on fancy sunglasses. While I was at the store, I bought sunglasses for €5, and that's fancy enough for me.








Friday, December 19, 2014

Emergency Tiller

Corbin 39 cutter
The last time I went sailing, it was still warm, almost.
It wasn't very cold for winter. I was out at the  boat and the wind billowed under my coat and up my back as I bent over the chain locker fiddling with the drain hoses that get clogged with chewed up crab shells dropped by seagulls on the deck and by other debris blown from town over the marina.

My back got stiff, as I knew it would, and I was feeling lazy anyway, so it was a perfect day to mess around doing nothing special.

I remembered that I had promised Peter over at "Sailing Zoot Allures" to try the emergency tiller without disconnecting the hydraulic cylinder. A good thing I did too because the hydraulic steering selection knob was frozen on the "no feedback" position. Better to discover it tied to the marina than floating on the ocean during a steering failure with a rocky lee shore. 

emergency bypass
"No feedback is" the default selection of my Wagner hydraulic steering. Tried feedback a couple of times but it feels like the rudder fights back.

I sprayed it WD40 without much conviction other than it would make me feel better for doing something. Waited a while and then tried turning it gently with large vice-grips. It came free and I sprayed it some more and then exercised the knob for a while. 

After switching it to emergency bypass, I snapped the emergency tiller on. The tiller flowed back and forth using one finger.


Yes, I know, the boat is standing still and there's no pressure on the rudder. With that in mind, I fired up the engine, warmed it up, clunked into forward and gunned it. The large 3-blade prop is right in front of the rudder and the propeller wash looked like a stormy river flowing back from under the boat. I tried the same one-finger trick and it was a piece of cake. Of course, there was no weather helm or heeling but, still, I was steering with one finger pushing a stubby tiller attached to a barn-door rudder.

And to cheer you up after such a gloomy post, here's a Sailjet 40, the fastest motorsailor ever built. Don't let the sails fool  you, it's a speedboat. This is radical. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, but it probably does.