Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

The Sailboat

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sailing North along the Portuguese Coast

The title should read "motoring north...." Everybody knows that sailors motor a lot.

In Sagres we hauled anchor and left before sunrise.
sailing near Sagres
That's me delivering a Bavaria 32, photo taken by a buddy boat.
You need to get up early to motor 65 miles to Sines and to arrive on time for dinner at the "Adega de Sines" taverna.
Photograph kindly stolen from Iberimage. Taking pictures everywhere I go isn't my thing.
Manuel actually sailed part of the way, tacking back forth just for fun.
Manuel on "Mil Milhas" which means One Thousand Miles, since he likes to log at least 1,000 miles per season. Notice how he straps his RIB on the transom. Very handy.
I unfurled the genoa (as I said in the last post, the furling mainsail sucks) to get a bit of pull. According to my calculations, I didn't have enough diesel to reach Sines. Even when bearing off 10 degrees the genoa mostly fluttered in the headwind, so I furled it tight and swore not to play with it again until the wind changed direction or I ran out of fuel.

These modern boats kill me; they come with such tiny fuel tanks. When I fill up Jakatar, I have enough diesel for a year.

Anyway, I opened the lazaret and sure enough I saw a 20-liter jug the owner had failed to mention. I also found a funky manual fuel transfer pump that sort of worked but splattered diesel all over the place. So now I had enough diesel and didn't have to worry about arriving at midnight after a long series of tacks.

dolphin watching in Portugal
A large dolphin pod swam with me for a long time. No matter how hard I tried, I could never photograph more than 3 or 4 surfacing at a time.
We hit the marina in Sines (only about 14 euros per nigh for the Bavaria), checked in, showered and hurried up the steps on the cliff-side stairway but were too late to eat at our favorite taverna. They were dousing the coals as we arrived; we went to another place that was even better and almost as cheap.

Port of Sines
Leaving Sines before lunch time with the anchorage in the background. Next stop: a 30-mile hop to Sesimbra where Jakatar and I battled the devil not long ago.
Once in Sines, the plan was to anchor, sleep, get up fairly early and search for my Rocna and chain with both dinghies by dragging small hook anchors back and forth. Nothing came of it. But I'm planning on going back with a better drag hook.

Anchoring in Sesimbra
Arriving in Sesimbra as the sun sets.
In the morning we also had breakfast in town: a huge plate of toast floating in melted butter plus coffee.
Then we went for more diesel. Oh yeah I forgot, I already ranted about small diesel tanks.

Diesel in Sesimbra
Manuel loading his diesel jug. Notice the freshly baked bread on the dinghy seat. 
After all these tasks - that make cruising so much fun - we motored 22 miles to Cascais where we anchored.
Cascais anchorage, another night, another taverna (real restaurant here).
Bought more diesel and the next day we MOTORED to Peniche, and that's it. Delivery accomplished.

Sort of felt strange motoring by Jakatar into the marina. A thought occurred to me, "Jakatar, you've got the best fuel tanks in town."






Monday, September 22, 2014

Boat Delivery Job

Delivery job? Let's call it a "boat delivery holiday." Let's call it Life. It gets a bit boring being dead all the time.

When sailing (or motoring), I'm REALLY on holiday. It's my freedom time: no translations, no errands, trips to the supermarket, no grass to cut, no interruptions except for the mobile phone...I'm on the water and I can sing and whistle as I please. I gaze at the water and sky until there is no past or future worth caring about. You just don't care, and that's beautiful.

Boat delivery job
The real me - Floating in my element.
After a five-hour bus trip from home I found myself near the Lagos boatyard eating grilled sardines at a restaurant patio with David and Manuel. We then walked over to the Sopromar boatyard to leisurely check out a real boat show at the yard. 

Anyway, the plan was to sail to Sagres before dark where we'd anchor for the night. So, at about 4:30 we walked back to the marina in the heat and rising north wind. Manuel, whose boat was docked at the reception berth and ready, left immediately.

I went back to David's boat, a Bavaria 32, where I impatiently waited until 6 while David and his girlfriend packed and re-packed a million things. My forehead must have slowly become more deeply furrowed as I realized my nice sailing-only trip to Sagres was being decimated by baggage - all the crap we pack and don't need. Finally I helped them carry a ton of bags to the car and they were gone. I hightailed out of the marina on my first 14-mile leg. It was blowing stink by now (if you've ever been to this part of the Algarve in summer you know what I'm talking about).

The Bavaria has a useless furling mainsail, which I didn't even bother look at. After turning east at Ponta da Piedade, I unfurled 2/3 of the genoa and kept the engine at about 2,000 RMP, making my way between the fish farm and the cliffs.


Motoring with wind is cheating but I wanted to reach Sagres in time to have dinner at a taverna in town. If I sailed only, I'd be late. This way, I got a nice steady 7 knots without heeling much and without being scorned for motoring only on such a hard beam reach. With the engine going, it meant that I had to keep a sharp lookout for fishing buoys. The last thing I needed was a second nightmare in one season.

I made it into port just as the sun was going down, anchored, tested the anchor hard, fell in the dinghy with the engine on top of me while transferring it, scratched my shin on the propeller and got my pants greasy, and then picked up Manuel at his boat. We tied the dinghy off at the old pier, climbed the rusty latter, getting dirtier in the process, walked up the hill into town and entered the taverna dirty, wild-haired and  hungry. That's when a cheap roasted chicken meal is like a feast.

The journey had hardly began and I was already a very happy boat slave.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Treasure Hunt for a Rocna Anchor

My last 3 posts described:
1) how I fouled the propeller on my way to Sines;
2) how I dove under the boat, cut the boat free but failed to cut all the lines;
3) how I lost my Rocna 25 anchor and chain in the bay of Sesimbra;
4) and, how I finally managed to anchor with an heavy - but nearly useless - spare anchor and fouled the prop once more big time.

The next morning, as the sun  broke over the hills, I dove under the boat again and found a huge mess of old nets and lines wrapped around the prop and shaft. A bit scary when you think that I could easily get entangled and, like, die for real. But I didn't want to die just yet so I went at it very gingerly trimming away the nets making sure my legs were always out of reach.

Port of Sines
A quiet corner in the Port of Sesimbra. I actually took this shot during a boat delivery from the Algarve shortly after my worst trip ever.
Anyway, I got the propeller cleared, re-anchored closer to the port, went ashore and contracted a professional diver. The diver had a great technique: he dropped a weight on the bottom attached to a thin line on a reel and swam in circles increasing the radius by 5 meters at every full turn. After one hour sitting in the dinghy watching his bubbles getting farther from the center, I saw him pop up and shake his head..and it's my fault because I got confused as to where I lost the anchor. One hundred euros for the diver's exercise session. He tried hard, but no cigar. 

The next morning I moaned and groaned hauling in the 3/4 nylon rode only to find that the stupid anchor was caught on a rock. I let out some line, cleated it, turned the boat around and gunned it in reverse. What a spectacle, when the line went taught the bow dipped low and, when the anchor broke free, the bow shot up like a trapeze artist. 

I was free and proceeded to motor against the wind for 22 miles to Cascais, eyes bulging wide on the lookout for buoys. 
Cascais Marina
Spent two days at the Cascais Marina. At least no anchor was needed
In Cascais I booked into the marina for 2 nights, drank the bottle of wine the marina receptionist gave me and slept feeling like I had watched a B-rated adventure movie.

The next day, I took the train to Lisbon bought 10 m of chain for the Fortress and lugged it back in a rucksack all the way from the train station to the marina. That called for another bottle of wine. When the chips are down, the bottles are up.

I limped back to Peniche where I got a call to deliver a boat from Lagos to Peniche. I immediately said yes. I'd be damned if a summer of my life was going to melt away without me sailing to or from the Algarve.

Sailing is not a sport, it's a masochistic ritual and an addiction; you don't need balls to sail, the thrill of escaping every-day nonsense and immunity to boredom are enough.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lost Rocna and chain plus further agonies

Continued from Part I and Part II

Better finish telling my ill-fated voyage before readers start yawning, especially me. 

Anyway, there I was in the bay of Sesimbra with a fouled propeller letting out my chain with the manual SL 555 windlass. I tightened the clutch when I thought I had plenty of scope; then I decided, "ah what the hell, I've got no engine so a few more meters won't hurt."

I released the clutch, the chain clattered over the gypsy, snaked out of the hawser pipe and disappeared into the water with a sickening splash. Gone! I stood there on the bow looking at the hawser hole and at the ripples in the water not feeling anything in particular. I was numb, dumbstruck...WTF!

Since I had changed the chain end over end this spring, my first nauseating thought was that I forgot to shackle the bitter end. But I did, I was sure I did. My stomach was tightening and my tomatoes were drooping. 
shackle breaking force
This cheap (probably Chinese made) shackle ruined my trip.
Chinese stainless steel
Corroded, rotten stainless crap. 
I lunged for the Fortress FX-11 linked to 3/4 inch nylon rode in the port sail locker, cleated the end and threw it overboard.

Second Mistake

The Fortress FX-11 weighs 3 kilos...tied to a 3/4 nylon line. What a fucking laugh, it probably never even reached the bottom. Typical useless backup nonsense. 

I should have immediately pushed the MOB (man overboard) button to record the site of the sunken Rocna. Jakatar was slowly drifting out to sea and I had all the time in the world to set up the 25 kg anchor secured down below in the dungeon.

Gotta finish writing this before I fall asleep. So I pulled in the Fortress that was happily bouncing on along the seafloor at the end of a huge nylon line, stowed it, dove into the dungeon below, unsecured the ugliest (also probable Chinese) anchor I've ever seen - damn heavy though - and substituted the Fortress with this huge hunk of metal.

Meanwhile, the wind was stiffening and shifting north, blowing almost straight from the bay. Two hours later and on the third attempt, I finally managed to sail in and anchor in an acceptable location not too close to the rocks.

I immediately dove in, cut the lines and removed the jug stuck on the propeller, started the engine, tried the transmission and everything looked good. 

I noticed that I was dragging slowly; so when night fell and the wind died down I decided to move closer to the port, closer to where I had lost the anchor. 

With the engine running, I slowly pulled in the line with the windlass drum, working up a sweat and completely fatigued on this hellish day. When the anchor was dangling out of the water I engaged in forward and began to move...very slowly for some strange reason.

"Fuck! the transmission is shot...what else could go wrong," I was thinking when I heard the same Cacklunk noise and the engine died. Shit, shit, shit, lines in the propeller again. Yup, the anchor had fished up old lines and nets that were just dying to wrap themselves around the propeller and shaft.

I let the anchor down before realizing that the boat wasn't going anywhere and that, in any case, I'd have to free the anchor. Except now, I could hardly lift the anchor above the waterline and, after failed attempts, I lashed a kitchen knife to a broom handle and slowly cut the lines and net.

I was pooped, drank two glasses of wine, ate some cookies and went to bed feeling downright disgusted.

Another urgent translation came in just now, I'm taking the bus to the Algarve on Friday morning to crew for a friend returning to Peniche or maybe bring up a boat on my own. So, you guessed it, hell in Sesimbra will be continued.....there's still a lot more fun to come.