Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure
We're born Zen-like and slowly erode to Zero

The Sailboat

Monday, April 21, 2014

Visiting Berlin

We left our quiet beach town to visit the big city of Berlin and a German family with whom we have become very good friends. In life you may be lucky to meet some of the best people the world has to offer - that's them.

Two shady characters in Berlin.

This is a boating blog, so I made a point of going on a canal boat trip.

I didn't see any beggars or derelicts walking around town, but I did spot this rudimentary studio apartment from the boat. 

Ana listening to the tour guide box. The boat had about 6 passengers. Now, if you estimate the cost of diesel, the captain and the stewardess I'd say they lost more money on this 1-hour trip than I lose on my boat during a week.

Never did figure out what exactly these roosters were protesting about, although it's pretty obvious that it was about inhumane chicken breeding/raising practices.

This the famous dome build over the parliament building. That's me taking a photograph with our friend on the left and his lovely daughter on the right.

This tower made of mirrors also functions as a heat capturing and ventilation mechanism. It's also great for combing your hair.

Berlin is a flat city swarming with bicycle riders.
One evening we walked through a gate and into a maze of courtyards with funky establishments. We drifted into a dark bar where the decor and clients created an ambiance of "we're not misfits or weirdos, but we don't give a shit." And suddenly I was back at Grossman's Tavern or at the other bars I frequented in Toronto in my former life. 

It was a very enjoyable trip. The only down side is that I caught a head cold on the last day while riding a sightseeing bus. It was a whopping 12ยบ C and the bus driver peeled back the bus roof. An hour and a half later my head was frozen. Everyone else seemed fine, including Ana. Further proof that I'm allergic to cold.
The bus tour that gave me a magnificent head cold.
Flying back with a stuffed up head, I dozed off and, on waking up, saw people moving their lips but couldn't hear anything. I also realized the jet engines were silent. A bit scary. I snapped my fingers next to my ear and heard a faint sound. What a relief, I'll still be able to hear fog horns on the ocean.
I'm still a bit groggy and staying home. Jakatar will survive without me for a couple more days.

My next trip will definitely be on Jakatar down south this summer.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Deceptive Barlow 28 Winches

I ran off to the marina intent on servicing my primary Barlow 28 winches. That was the plan.

Instead of placing a cardboard box over the winch to catch any of those jumping-jack springs from diving overboard, I devised a more substantial and fail-proof contraption.

barlow winch service
Our firewood transport bucket was sacrificed for the job. I cut the "symmetric" whole with a sharp chisel. Now, you may say, "that's a hell of a big hole." But look at the next picture.
servicing barlow winches
It was an optical illusion. After rounding out the jagged edges with a knife it was a perfect tight fit and wouldn't budge even when applying some force to it.
So far so good. Next, I cleaned the accumulated gunk in the winch handle hole with paper towels and...what's this? No retaining bolt, nothing but a smooth concave cavity. I cleaned and checked the other winch - same thing! My smaller Barlows have retaining bolts. That's how you get the drum off.

Sat down, took a couple of deep breaths and looked at the view.

Mooring in Peniche
The transient dock is full already. The sailboat Capella was here last year. I helped the owner of the Lagoon catamaran dock earlier this week (either this or another one). That's one big floating apartment. Ugly may be too strong of an adjective, but a beauty it ain't. But I can see it's advantages, price not being one of them.
Oh yes, back to my winch dilemma. Next, I cleaned and inspected  the two small wholes at the top which revealed nothing useful. My only option would be to unbolt the winches, base and all, from the boat and take them to a machine shop and let somebody smarter than me figure it out. 

Then it occurred to me: "how the hell did I service them last time, years ago?" Answer: "I haven't got a clue." That's why it's important to keep a blog-log.

Then the office called me to say I had a small translation in my mailbox for today. Yes, I'm still working. Broke out the laptop, finished the translation and then went home defeated and moaning about how much two winches of this size would cost. At this rate I'll never break free. Damn boat!

Just to show you what a fool I am, it took me 15 minutes to solve the winch mystery on Youtube. Those two small holes are used to spin the cap off and, presto, the drum is free to slide up. How anybody survived before the Internet is a mystery.

Here's the enlightening video. Although it's a Barient 28 winch, the drum removal process is the same. It even shows a nifty trick on how to remove the cap without the two-pronged tool to fit the holes.


There's no end to this boat slavery.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bottom Cleaning

In keeping with my new commitment to spend less and live more, I've been contemplating bottom cleaning vs. hauling out and painting.

It costs serious money - not to mention the hassle - to haul out a 39-foot boat. With that in mind, I did a bit of research for ways to extend haulout intervals to 2 or 3 years and still keep the hull reasonably clean. It's a bitch sailing to the Algarve and back with a dirty hull. Fuel consumption increases just as dramatically as the drop in speed.

Diving and scraping is good exercise, but not very practical without scuba diving gear.

Here's my research results:

1 - the Hulltimo Pro robot. Awesome but expensive.



2. The Hulltimo Smart robot for 2,290 euros. Didn't bother reading the warranty. It would have to run trouble-free for a long time before it paid for itself. Another downside is that everybody at the marina would want a free cleaning. Nah.

Hulltimo Smart
Courtesy of Hulltimo.

3 - Scrubbis, for 88 euros (limited special price). Now that sounds appealing to a cheapskate.

Scrubbies
Courtesy of Force 4 Chandlery

4 - I could make my own scrubbies, but it would probably take a long time and fall apart as soon as it touched the hull. Something to think about lying in bed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Maximizing Time, Minimizing Expenses

Minimalism and not giving a hoot about a "delusional materialistic life" has never felt so sweet. It's about time I put on the Kerouac hat I discarded some twenty years ago when I made the foolish mistake of switching to a "normal" life.

In keeping with my serious commitment to maximize my time (LIFE) and to minimize expenses (WORK), instead of paying over 800 euros for a new self-tailing winch, I decided to buy two small second-hand Barlow 20 winches on Ebay. 

On my trip from Sagres to Sines, Portugal, my Barlow 24 halyard winch seized. Later, when I dismantled the winch, I found a broken pawl, a failed bearing and, amazingly, a missing part whose name eludes me. Incredible, Barlows are so good they don't even need all the parts to function for 14 years.

Here's my winch setup. The barely visible winch near the bottom right corner is an Arco 43 2-speed.
Barlow 26 winches

And here are the Barlow 20 winches I just bought on Ebay from the US (300 euros including shipping and nasty import duties).
Barlow 20 winches

I'll install this matching pair on the coach roof, mount the bronze Barlow 20 on the mast for the topping lift and use the Arco 43 to replace the failed Barlow 24.

The Arco gives me more muscle for the halyards, I will have a pair of matching winches on the coach roof - instead of the current ridiculous mismatch - plus an extra winch for the topping lift. And I SAVE over 500 euros for my next trip to the Algarve. Minimizing is the way to go.