The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Brits in Alvor

2018 marked my 16th round trip to the Algarve. On this trip, I anchored in Cascais and Sines, bypassed Sagres, and arrived at Alvor 3 days later just before dark. The usual routine.

Dock in Peniche
Leaving Peniche on July 24 wearing winter clothing!

Arriving in Alvor at sunset.
I was anchored on a windy day in Alvor when I heard a guy with a British accent yelling "how much chain have you got out?" Curious, I popped my head out the companionway to see what the fuss was all about.

A British-flagged Hallberg Rassy 36 was motoring nearby with 4 crew members all wearing inflatable lifejackets shouting insanely toward the big catamaran. "How much chain do you have?" they repeated.

The German catamaran owner, who's been here for many years and has surely witnessed more anchoring blunders than most, didn't even bother to come out. 

The agitated Brits motored back and forth, at one time nearly running aground in the shallows, to finally anchor in front of the catamaran sailboat where the anchorage turns into the entrance channel. I was anchored in front of a small sailboat to the right of the catamaran motorboat shown below.



I assessed the situation: Brits sailing a Hallberg Rassy and wearing inflatable lifejackets - probably nutty but definitely experienced old salts. Unconcerned, I went down below and started making lunch.

Later, while eating in the salon, I heard the anchor chain rubbing loudly on the bow roller, as it does sometimes, and kept eating until I started hearing strange thumping noises.

Up on deck, I saw the Halberg Rassy broadside to Jakatar's bow, but not touching it, and no salty Brits aboard, so I quickly placed some fenders up high along my hull.

On closer inspection, I saw that my chain ran under the Rassy in front of his skeg, like a travel lift sling. It seemed that my trusty 25 kg Kobra anchor was holding both boats firmly in the strong breeze. 

Now I had a dilemma: a) I could wait for the Brits to return and hope they did so before the wind picked up as it does in the afternoon; or b) I could try to extricate myself and risk having the Rassy pick up my anchor as it passed by, which would cause both of us do drag. 

I chose choice "b". If it fouled my anchor I could always start the engine and drag the other boat around the anchorage until he let go or, as a last resort, use my backup 45 lb CQR anchor. 

So I let out about 10 meters of chain hoping it would sink to the bottom and release the Rassy to drag happily across the anchorage. But not luck.

At a glance this looks like one single boat, but it's actually me and my lunch date.
Instead of being released, it pivoted and lay abreast of Jakatar against the fenders, still hooked by the rudder skeg.

Having let out more chain, I was now nearly on top of a small sailboat moored behind me. What to do, what to do? I swore at the not-so-salty Brits who were obviously ashore feasting on beer, fish and chips and probably still wearing their lifejackets just in case. Swearing didn't help, so I started the engine and, without any other alternative or better idea, I put Jakatar in gear gunned it and dragged the dam Rassy forward with a wicked smile on my face.

When I stopped, the anchor chain went slack, fell to the bottom and the Rassy started moving downwind again. I held my breath until I was certain its anchor had not picked up my chain. 

Whewww, see you later, nice knowing you. Then I heard the German guy on the cat applauding, giving me the thumbs up and saying that he had been hit too. 

The Rassy dragged all the way to the marina and stopped within an arm-length of an expensive  looking motorboat tied up to the outer pontoon. Never saw the Brits retrieve their boat. Too bad because I'd be willing to give them a free anchoring tutorial.

At least it didn't end up like the old tugboat below that belongs to a British sculptor who's been here for about 10 years. Probably skipped town after his boat sunk. Anybody want a free tugboat?


Next stop, Culatra.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sailing to the Algarve for the 16th Time

I sailed out of Peniche on the morning of July 21, 2018, headed for the Algarve, for what I believe to be the 16th round trip. It just keeps getting better.

After a number of years of solo sailing, this time I had two crew members aboard and was shadowed  by a buddy boat, a Bavaria 32.

The youngest crew member, slept 90% of the time in the pilot house and was incredibly cheerful about it. The older crew, who's already owned a motorboat and two sailboats, alternated his time between fiddling with his newly purchased super expensive smartphone and soaking up the scenery.

I'm always content sailing out of range of land-borne hassles, escaping from work and barking dogs.

Motorsailing headed for Cascais with the crew. 
I've never motored so much as this year - 95 hours to be exact. Since I never use the engine to charge the batteries (although I run the engine while anchoring, raising sails etc.), this translates into about 400 miles of motoring or motorsailing. The wind was either not there, not strong enough or on the nose.

Good thing I dove on the propeller before departing and scraped it almost to perfection. Haven't hauled out in 2 years but the bottom is not too dirty yet.

I'm going write a series of short posts about the trip. It's the 16th, but there's always something new as I get older.

I think I'll also include a post on how to anchor (properly). Long ago, when I first started sailing, I knew nothing about anchoring, but at least I was curious, cautious and timid. What I now see over and over is a minority of sailors who don't know how to anchor but are cocksure, careless, stubborn and dangerous. Yes, I got hit again.

I also have a plan brewing in my head, but don't hold your breath.





Monday, April 16, 2018

The Stoical Sailor

We've had nothing but rain, strong wind and dark skies for weeks. What's a man gonna do?

To cheer up, I purchased an online book called “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.” Maybe I should lend the book to the owner of the boat below. On second thought, this is the third time the boat has sunk, so maybe the owner is already a stoical guy.

sunken boat

I lay down on the pilothouse settee, sheltered from the rain, switched on the tablet and began to learn about attaining "stoic joy". 

The Oxford dictionary defines stoic as: "person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining." This, by the way, is also a good definition of a sailboat owner!! 

On the other hand, Stoic, as defined by ancient Greeks and early Romans, is a totally different game. But then again, I have a degree in Philosophy so I have a penchant for dabbling in useless ideas when the weather prevents me from doing boat work.

A baby wave coming over the breakwater later in the day.
The first step in attaining stoic joy is to practise Negative Visualisation. This technique helps you to appreciate what you already have instead of constantly dreaming (or complaining) about what you would like to have. 

Negative visualisation requires imagining a potential misfortune. First, I imagined having arrived at the marina to find Jakatar sunken. But that didn't work too well because a sunken Jakatar was simply beyond my imagination. Not because it would be the end of the world but, rather, since it seemed highly unlikely.

On the second attempt, I imagined having a car accident on the way to the marina and waking up confused on a hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and immobilised by multiple fractures. Unfortunately, an all-too-real experience for many people and not too hard to imagine.

Instead, here I was calmly reading a book in a sailboat, not even working on a weekday. How in the world did I get so lucky? Comparatively, all my troubles (yes, I have them too like most people) amount to a heap of nothing. In fact, if Jakatar had sunk at that very moment, it wouldn't have been that bad. I would still have a car and a house. If the car broke down, I could walk, and what a pleasure it is to walk along a coastal road whistling and kicking pebbles. If the house burned down, I could buy a camper trailer, park it down by the beach and probably be all the happier for it. OK, that's enough stoic joy for today.

For a more detailed and entertaining description of stoicism, check out Mr. Money Mustache. The Mustache blog is worth its weight in gold (does an electronic blog weigh anything, I wonder?).


Guest dock in Peniche

Two days before the storm Felix hit, I moved Jakatar to the transient dock for better protection from the forecast 10 metre waves. 

During the storm, one of the two support bolts on the rusty finger of my slip broke and its barnacle-encrusted concrete float went belly up. It would have given Jakatar a permanent gouge job. Good thing I moved. What stoic joy!!!!

Transient dock in Peniche
Jakatar at the transient dock.
I had to leave the boat at the transient dock for about 2 weeks until the marina staff built a new dock finger for my slip.

Stay tuned as I embark on a new chapter of my life called "The stoic joy of boat maintenance." Just kidding, I think.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sailing in the Algarve, One More Time!


Anchoring in Culatra
In Culatra on the kayak, taken with my cheap Rollei action cam.
In the early morning of July 22, I untied the lines and sailed south solo.

I sailed - using the sails - most of the way, in real sloppy seas most of the time. On the way, I anchored in Cascais, Sines, Alvor and Culatra. No marina for me. I did enter the Albufeira marina, but only for diesel and water.

If you're planning to enter Alvor's inner anchorage, you'll need a rising tide to get in. The channel is a mess - and if you follow the buoys, you'll run aground good and proper. I saw a guy standing in water to his waist next to the green buoy!! No wonder hardly any boats venture into the anchorage anymore. The place is filled mostly with boats hanging on moorings, many of which are semi-abandoned.

Alvor channel

Anyway, I bought a Rollei action cam to film something interesting. That "something interesting" was possibly the fiercest conditions I've ever experienced sailing from Sagres to Lagos on a hot summer afternoon. 

On reaching Martinhal Beach, the wind came blasting from the hills like a sledgehammer, and I kicked myself for not putting in the third reef. With three reefs, I could have had a decent sail to Alvor. Instead, with 2 reefs and the stay sail, I got a forced workout at the wheel doing 7+ knots, dodging a labyrinth of the usual lobster pots, with the odd wind-driven chop slapping the hull, spraying the deck and getting me wet.

I was facing 14 miles of excitement and my Rollei action cam was somewhere down below doing nothing. Little details like that really piss me off. You had to be there, and you could have been there by watching it on film. Got wet and excited and nothing to show for it.

On the way to Sines, I had an encounter with the ship. I was sailing, and he was approaching land going into Setubal, probably to pick up a load of cars.

Ships going to Setubal

 I had to change direction to avoid it, even though I had the right of way. Size matters.


One lazy day in Culatra, hanging out on the boat, I had the privilege to witness another anchor dragging fiasco when the breeze picked up to a whopping 15 knots.

A young (by cruiser standards) British guy on a big modern boat and I went to the rescue of three boats dragging as though they had a brick for an anchor.

In one case, we were about to board a Spanish boat, when a barking dog charged through the companionway followed by a naked woman. She was having a siesta while the husband was at somebody else's boat. She popped down below to put on a T-shirt and shorts, came back out, started the engine and, motored around aimlessly dragging the anchor along the bottom until her husband arrived.

Later, I saw what could be my future sailboat going by. It looked really small from a distance, probably even more so up close, in an anchorage full of cruising boats.

sun fast 26
Sun Fast 26. Could it be the one?
Bigger than the funky boat below. I was really curious to see the owner, and he was around because the boat moved a few times. But no luck. He/she either used it only to sleep or spent all the time sleeping down below in the tiny cabin.

Olhao anchorage

After 15 years of sailing to the Algarve, I'm beginning to feel repetitious. Instead of changing the destination, I think I'll change boats.