The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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The Sailboat

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.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Tara comes to Peniche

A legendary boat built for extreme conditions, Tara is the platform for high-level scientific research missions. Website
Luckily, I and my entourage were invited to take a tour aboard in the morning before they laid out the gangplank for the public in the afternoon.

It's an amazing ship and the French crew were super friendly. Another benefit was that it made my boat look small, so maybe I'll stop bitching about owning an oversized boat, maybe but I doubt it. Here's Tara leaving Peniche.



schooner Tara
Uhhhm, Ana never looks this happy when she's on my boat. Maybe size does matter!
Tara the ship
Tara's galley.
Aluminum schooner
Checking out the work bench down below. I have to stop looking so "out of it" in photographs, maybe I should start drinking coffee again.
Tara expedition schooner
A big bad-ass bare aluminum schooner designed for ramming icebergs. No paint (except the orange square) and no varnish.
Unpainted aluminum
My brother Cesar deep in thought.

The entourage before lunch at the "O Sardinha" restaurant. Kathleen, Cesar's partner, took all the pictures.


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 really...pay 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 blunt...today 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: 

"Now... 
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.