The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

The Sailboat

Monday, November 3, 2014

Search for Sunken Treasure

"If we weren't all crazy, we'd just go insane." ~ Jimmy Buffett
Yes, it may appear a bit crazy to drive back to Sesimbra for another bungled search for my Rocna anchor and chain - my third try. But wouldn't it be insane to stay home and miss out on the fun.
Sunken treasure
My brother Cesar filling the dinghy. We're fully equipped, including the "rock anchor" in the foreground a small grapnel anchor, a rusty chain to keep the anchor horizontal, etc.
Cesar's partner, Kathleen, went hiking up to the castle while we got ready. You can't beat it - on November 1 it's 23ยบ C, sunny and the calm bay faces a beautiful hillside town crowned by a castle.
Dinghy in Sesimbra
Leaving the port of Sesimbra in search of a Rocna 25. Photo courtesy of Kathleen.
"So where about did you lose it?" Cesar asks as we motored out of the port and into the bay.

"It's hard to say, exactly. I was so busy setting up the backup anchor that I sort of...didn't attention. But it's somewhere between up ahead and half way to the yellow buoy."

"Oh, OK. Hey, we got all day."

We tied the folded grapnel anchor a couple of feet ahead of the hook and then started motoring slowly, letting out line.

I'll be concise. It was hopeless, and we knew it right away. First the traction forced the dinghy to go in circles, and we couldn't even tell if we were actually moving anywhere.

Then we learned to steer by moving the line to starboard or port, that was cool. But it was hard to tell whether the force was just dragging force or if it had caught something.

"Feel something?"
"Yeah, I think so. Stop, let's pull it up."
"Nah, it's nothing, but it felt like it." Over and over.

Then we removed the grapnel and replaced it with about 5 feet of rusty 10 mm chain.

Same results, more or less, and the same tactic: feel something?, pull, nothing, damn, we're hardly moving, I think we're stopped, pull it up, nothing......

After hooking a coat, we removed the chain and used only the hook. That eliminated the friction and gave us a better feel of what was happening down there, like a spider waiting for the web to vibrate. But I suspect it was just bouncing around the bottom and not digging into the sand.

Time for lunch. We decided we needed a powerful magnet, perhaps a metal detector, maybe an underwater camera, a portable fish finder...Damn, I should have taken that diving course so that I could scrub Jakatar's bottom, but which I didn't and that would really be handy now.

I found some good magnets on Ebay. I think I'll order one.
Kathleen having fun while we were working.

Cesar and Kathleen
Bird watching in Sesimbra. Photo taken by Kathleen.
Me and my brother Cesar. If you're wondering, he's fairly tall, I'm extra tall. He also owns a Corbin called Lapu Lapu, so he's like a duck in water, a marina rat and all that stuff. Kathleen's photo.
Fort of Sesimbra

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Minimalism, Essentialism and, now, Boatism

The other day I came across an article about Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

As a devout wannabe minamilist, I clicked on over to Amazon and read the first few pages about some Joe who needs to be an essentialist in order to be productive and successful. Then I read a bunch of reader reviews that pretty much summarized the book. 

Verdict: you couldn't pay me to read it; it caters to the career-ladder-climbing crowd, it sounds conformist and boring and yet it's a best seller. Go figure!

I was disappointed because...I'll be we essentially already know almost everything we kneed to know. The essential problem is that we don't act according to what we know. Because the human race has gone nuts, self-help books get lots of attention by reminding people that they've gone nutty. Reading a self-help book is sort of like masturbating. You knew that, right? 

Essentialism looks something like this river scene. I'm behind the camera.
Boating on the Tagus River
This is a very essential and focused way of doing nothing.
Might as well show you what they're looking at: a fort we visited on a river island.

And because the "Naked Boat" gig is not getting me anywhere, I thought I'd invent an "ism" of my own. That's when "Boatism" popped into my mind.

But then I Googled Boatism and, damn it, even Urban Dictionary already snagged a definition for it, as you can read, and it's worth the read, and, among other things, it says: 

Imagine you're sat on a boat, with everything YOU would want to make the moment absolutely PERFECT. 
This is the Boat of Perfection. 
When you realise how much you love it, become a Boatist." 

~ Urban Dictionary

But I don't care if other people have already coined the word Boatism, I'm going to claim my right to it anyway. I own a boat, I'm a boat slave, I'm a boatist and that's the way it goes. Furthermore, nobody is going to write a book about it simply because boatists are rare and very few souls would ever want to convert from whatever "ism" they're into right now.

Yeah, I had a couple glasses of wine with lunch, but I still mean every word I said, almost.

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.