The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Get a Job!

It's the holiday season and I'm slaving my life away!

That's not a very cheerful message but it's true. At least it's sunny, not -20º C and dark like in Sweden [private joke]. The sun is shining so bright that I feel like running outside and climbing a tree or some damn thing...anything except this work crap.

sunny office
Cluttered work space and Buddha on the window sill
I did go to the marina after lunch. What was supposed to be a fast boat check turned into two hours of gabbing on the pontoon. I was talking to Ryker in the warm sun and, in a wink, we were joined by a group of boat owners. Before long nearly everyone was threatening to shoot or hang the politician they despise most. I'm not kidding.

The boat is fine. Dried the bilges (when it rains they always collect a bit of water from the anchor chain pipe, the loose emergency tiller connection and probably a couple of other places). The battery charger and wind generator are working fine.

An Amel Super Maramu left the port as I was leaving. On the way home I saw it from the Paimogo road going south with all sails up.

I have a huge, I MEAN HUGE, translation for January 21 and it ain't going to be easy.

Well, fuck a duck, as they say in Canada. Grit my teeth and plow into the headwind. Way back when I was still normal, my mother used to say "get a job and stop doing crazy things." Maybe she was right.

Happy New Year.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Sheep on the Road

Ana is on holiday and at home, which altered by routine. As a result, my boat day began after lunch and I didn't even bother taking the laptop. I'm ahead on a translation and don't expect to receive any more work until tomorrow.

Once in a while I cross paths with this shepherd near Paimogo. Today I was able to take a few photographs.

sheep and egrets
There's normally a small flock of egrets following the herd, but I only got two, the others flew away as the jeep approached
It took a while to pass the herd. The dog barked and the shepherd shouted, but the placid sheep couldn't care less. What's the hurry when you're a sheep; some have a milking appointment in the evening - big deal. That was fine by me, I was in no hurry either.
shepherd dog
Does he have an iPhone in his bag?
If I loved my job half as much as this German Shepherd dog loves his, you'd never hear a complaint out of me again, ever!

At the marina I saw Manuel motoring around the port testing his new Beta engine. If you're a faithful reader, you'll recall that his Volvo engine, which was running like a clock, imploded unexpectedly as we were returning from the Algarve this summer. The camshaft broke and everything went to hell. What was destined to be a peaceful 4-day trip turned into an exciting adventure, in a minor way.

I called him on the mobile, he came along my boat, I stepped aboard and off we went motoring around trying all kinds of maneuvers, speeds and all that stuff boat owners get excited about.

The one great advantage of owning a boat is the socializing benefit in the real world, which is a lot better than doing it on Facebook. Hey, I'm on Facebook too, but I can't hear the engine running or feel the wind on my face.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Zen and Tiger Trading Method

The Zen and Tiger Trading Method
How it all began
In 2008 I was a successful translator dreaming about early retirement. I lived in an ocean-side townhouse with a large pool, drove a Mercedes and sailed a 39-foot sailboat. I was debt free and had about forty thousand euros in the bank.
That's the year the global financial crisis swept over the industrialized landscape like cold thick fog. At that time, I was a mere spectator and not too alarmed, like most people living in small countries where palm trees grow. I was an overworked freelance translator who had made a name for myself and my wife was a school teacher, a civil servant with a decent income. What could possibly go wrong?
Undisciplined Thinking
I had never bought or even considered buying stocks. Not that I was adverse to investing or to taking risks, I was simply more attracted to real estate. I had already bought and sold three properties that had contributed substantially to my lifestyle. However, making money in real estate in 2008 would be paramount to flogging a dead horse, and I knew it all too well.
Real estate was dead, but here was a golden opportunity knocking at my door in the form of cheap shares. What a lucky guy I am, I thought. Shares were freefalling as fast as panicky stockholders were running for cover. The herd mentality had taken over and the erratic stampede was raising a huge cloud of dust.

At the time it made sense to believe that stocks would fall only so low, specially bank stocks, much like the notion that housing could only climb so high. I was a firm believer in a linear cost/benefit law. I was dead wrong!
Having obtained a degree in philosophy and having dabbled in psychology, sociology and political science, I fell under the illusion that I could think through a problem from an abstract perspective. I built up this false confidence from my successful real estate ventures. I neglected the fact that the housing market is so easy to predict with reasonable accuracy, when compared with the stock market, that it’s almost child’s play.
If stocks were dirt cheap, it was time to buy. I happily transformed my 40K into a portfolio spread out over utilities, banking, industry and technology. A few months later, I was feeling smug and smart sitting by the pool having a sundowner watching my shares inching their way up the chart and telling my wife how much money I had made on that particular day. That was the life - making money for free; early retirement was now just around the corner.

The Disaster

My short-lived success was what I’ve now come to recognize as a rebound, nothing more. I had bought shares at a fraction of their peak value, patted myself on the back when they rose on a minor rebound and then watched in great dismay as my 40K quickly dwindled to about 20k in a little over a year.

Losing 20K is not the end of the world, but it was definitively a blow to my self esteem. Psychologists say that trading can have the same perverse effects as gambling. They say that addicted gamblers are obsessed with recouping their losses and, to a lesser degree, in urgent need of the emotional high that comes from being dealt a winning hand, even if they lose three times for every time they win.

I say this because when I got over the dismay, I vowed to recoup my losses and even start making some money. At the same time I was well aware of the risk I was running if I allowed emotions to lead me straight to the shipwrecked future of so many gamblers.
To prevent that sort of disaster, I sat down and began writing what I entitled “The Golden Rules for Successful Trading.” I didn’t just pick these rules out of a hat; after all, that kind of stupidity is what led to my initial 20K loss.
I was pissed and ready for a fight. If I could decipher Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” back in my university days, I could surely crack this nut. I donned my rusty academic cap and got down to work. I had no interest in buying “how to” books simply because I had already learned the most important lesson: the market is a dynamic ever-changing force that must be understood intimately.
Perhaps it’s not that simple. What I can tell you is that I wanted to create a new paradigm rather than get bogged down in what everybody else was already doing. I wanted to see the market from a fresh and clear perspective. I don’t doubt the “how to” books have something useful to teach, but to me that seemed like learning to walk by reading about it. That’s a poor analogy, I know, but that’s what I felt and it paid off.
For months I studied the market and, just as important, took notes about news articles and, in particular, about opinions by the so-called experts and corporate executives. I was shooting for an A+ grade and nothing less would do.
The Shocking Truth
You may already know about the shocking truth, but I didn’t. I knew about the real estate market spin, but that’s child’s play compared with the finely oiled machine running the stock market.
The stock market is structured like a knowledge pyramid:

·         At the bottom we find independent investors, the small fish, like me, who depend mostly on the media and financial reports for information;

·         Next, there’s the media made up of three basic types of journalists: Experts who are extremely dangerous because they’re selling an angle; Mouthpieces who are less harmful because they’re mostly repeating what the experts said; and twits who have nothing to say except reporting the day’s or week’s gains and losses.

·         Higher up, we have politicians, famous economists and analysts, rating companies and other highly toxic movers. Just in case you didn’t know, the world’s largest investment bank Lehman Brothers was rated as healthy not long before it collapsed. Wonderful.

·         Lastly, at the pinnacle we have large shareholders, CEOs, CFOs and other ego maniacs who will do pretty much anything to amass more wealth and power, including telling the biggest lies in the world.
Rising Above the Clutter
If you’re reading this book you’ve probably read or heard plenty of headlines that go something like this:
In the summer of 2012: “analysts are issuing upbeat predictions, with at least two saying Apple will top $1,000….based on forecast Christmas orders.” (shares go up);

 Two months later: “Apple is facing increasingly fiercer competition from a number of rivals threatening its forecast sales growth….we must keep in mind that iPhone and iPad sales are Apple’s largest source of revenue and profit.” (shares fall);

Here we have a perfect example of analysts proving that they’re either a pack of dummies or a bunch of liars. You decide, either way it makes little difference. Nevertheless, this is just one of the many excellent scenarios for making money…or losing it, if you don’t follow the golden rules.
Although we’re still in the introductory stage, I now feel compelled to give you a peek at the first Golden Rule: all deceitful politicians, reporters, analysts, economists, rating companies, CEOs, etc. are, in most cases, your best allies.
Yup, you heard me right. It’s a fact. Once you’ve become acclimatized to media clutter, once you’ve learned to listen to double-talk, once you’ve learned to assess the impact of news reports, once you’ve learned to compare reality with the circus show, once you've learned to interpret the clutter to your advantage you’ll have taken your first step toward The Zen and Tiger Trading Method.
I know what you’re thinking: “that name is really kitsch and just plain stupid.” Modesty aside, I think it’s the greatest title ever given to a book about trading. Hopefully, you’ll agree with me by the time you finish the book; ideally, by the time you finish the next two paragraphs.
Zen can have a lot of meanings depending on who you ask and on whether they’re drinking tea or beer when you ask them.  For our purposes, let’s just simplify Zen by saying that it’s attaining “absorption” or a “meditative state.” If you don’t learn to absorb information and to serenely and unemotionally meditate over that information, you may as well stop reading right now. If you do keep reading, we’ll look at this crucial aspect in greater detail further on.
What do tigers and traders have in common? They stalk their prey and strike at the perfect moment; any other time will lead to failure and wasted energy. Either way, a high failure rate will lead to a starving tiger and a broke trader. You may have absorbed and meditated over all the vital information only to strike out by failing to buy or sell at the right time. Timing is everything. All the golden rules will be useless if you hum and haw rather than push that buy or sell button. It’s that simple.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Live On The Margin

As a small-time trader I'm really intrigued about how the bumfuzzle book "Live on the Margin" will perform.

And I'm not talking about book sales, I'M TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY READERS WILL MAKE OR LOSE by applying its investment strategies. If they actually take a leap of faith and invest some of their hard-earned savings.

In my opinion, Patrick Schulte is a really smart guy. He made a lot of money on the stock market (according to him, which must be true because he retired really young) and now he'll make more from this book - at least enough to maintain his slacker lifestyle. Not a bad gig, I'd say.

Also, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that I'm a great admirer of the bumfuzzle crew. I also believe that they're doing a great service to their readers for a whole lot of reasons I'm not going to list here.

But, getting back to the original purpose of this post, two aspects loom large in my mind. First, if you could make easy money simply by following a plan, a method or instructions, there would be a lot of people doing it instead of marching to the 9 to 5 tune. Second, some endeavors, such as playing the stock market, require emotional intelligence - a trait that can't really be taught to any significant degree, I think.

But hey, buy the book, get excited about the "slacker philosophy," spend some time daydreaming, lose a few bucks and break the routine. What's wrong with that?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Scavenger

This blog is turning me into a scavenger...a vulture looking for tidbits to write about.

It will be about 4 months before I sail to Nazare for a haul-out and a gearbox replacement. Then it will be another 2 months before I sail to the Algarve and make my innovative mooring. That's the plan. But right now the blog menu is looking pretty damn thin.

And it's getting worse by the day. This morning, out of desperation, I squeezed the camcorder between the passenger seat and the headrest to film my trip to the marina. Shit, as if that's a big deal everybody is dying to see, right?

Since I drive a jeep and the roads are rough, the short clip was mostly a vibrating mess. I got dizzy just from watching it. I've heard of worse ideas, but not many.

Then I decided to speed it up and to apply Youtube's stabilization option and voilá, here it is.

So yeah, went out to the boat, did some translation work, had lunch and then started the engine. The new, and obviously stupid, thermostat hose also leaked. Gave up and went for a walk.

Came across Ryker on his fishing boat and he said that it wasn't the hose. "two hoses don't leak in the same spot." He told me about the days when he worked on oil drilling rigs and had to find tiny leaks even in pouring rain using compressed air. He said he could find a leak even underwater and that he'd come over later to have a look.

That was good to know, so good I went over to Nigel (the unlucky sailor) who was untangling a big pile of lines on the pontoon. His ribs are much better and he had finally pumped most of the water out of his boat. It turns out that a couple of his batteries were still usable so he bought a portable battery charger and got his bilge pumps going. He also told me somebody stole his electronics while the boat was at dock unlocked and he was in hospital.

Back at my boat, I discovered the famous leak all by myself. Took a strong flashlight to it and by squinting real hard discovered that it's coming from the thermostat gasket right next to the hose fitting. A little persistence goes a long way.

The wind generator is up and running again, but looking like it has been rolling in the mud.
Rutland 913
The Rutland 913 was spinning when I took the picture.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life After Death

It's Thursday, my boat day, and the rain started falling as I drove into Peniche.

Don't ask me why, but I decided to take photographs as I drove into town. Why hadn't I ever though of that before. Here is a good way to enhance the virtual show. There was a slight problem though, the camera's flash was switched on. On my second shot, the FLASH exploded in the jeep just as I saw a police car approaching from the opposite direction. Damn, here I was driving and taking photographs. As we crossed paths, the two policemen slowed down and looked at me but kept going. I could almost sense what they were thinking: "Is that legal?"

Weather in Peniche
Rainy day in Peniche

Port of Peniche
The port and the new Clube Naval building in the completion stage, as seen on the far left

My heart was still beating a shade above normal when I slowed down to a crawl before turning left into the port's parking lot. Just then a guy in an old Mercedes came speeding down the blind curve in the road ahead. He must have thought I wasn't going to stop, put on his brakes, went into a skid and nearly sideswiped some parked cars. Can't you just see the policemen if the guy had hit something..."hey, that's the dude taking pictures, handcuff the lunatic!"

I've been crossing paths with a lot of birds lately. Must be a sign, who knows?

Seaguls population
Seagull invasion
Fernando the electrician and his employee arrived and got to work setting up the charger, AC breaker panel and a power socket. It was too wet to install the wind generator and the through-deck AC socket. Tomorrow, there's always tomorrow.

And yes, there is life after death. After one week without any charge the battery showed 12.72 volts and the hydrometer float reached the 100% charge level. So yes, all you boaters and battery owners, if your battery is on the blink hook up a dinky battery charger without a cut-off sensor and boil that sucker at 14.8 V until it resuscitates. But no more than that or it will die for real.
Ideal batter charge
One week after intravenous shock treatment and it's healthier than ever
And here is the new stuff nicely concealed in the pilot house locker.
AC breaker panel on boat
AC breaker panel on right charger on left

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blackbirds Leaving Me Behind

“To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom”

- Andre Gide

Stole this quote from Alex at Project Bluesphere, but I did pay to download one of his video clips as a way of saying thank you. The funny thing is that although many people are lusting to be in his situation - living on a sailboat in exotic places - they would most likely become bored stiff and miserable within 2 or 3 weeks.

I think I'll write an essay about the above quote someday. For now I'm going to write about blackbirds and fireplaces. It's important because I'll want to read it when I'm 80 and have nothing better to do.

The blackbird migration has begun. At first I thought they were forming a huge flock and getting ready to fly south, but then I realised that dozens of thousands of blackbirds couldn't just have popped out of nowhere overnight.

They've flown from somewhere farther north and stopped for a breather. I'd also guess that they pick up smaller flocks as they fly on their route to some warmer climate. Lucky birds.

Anyway, huge flocks of birds were flying everywhere and all I got was this photograph showing a couple of hundred of them on the wing (I was driving). Obviously, you'll have to take my word for it. It was quite the sight and reminded me of Hitchcock's movie "The Birds".

migrating blackbirds
Migrating Blackbirds
I wish I was going south with them (on the boat of course). Instead I stayed home and lit up the fireplace. The weather changed from a balmy day to a chilly night pretty quick, if you consider 10º C chilly. To maintain the tradition, I once more apologise to all the Swedes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Russians (you bet, I got Russian readers too...or maybe they just look at the pictures and daydream) who are freezing their butts off somewhere in tundra land.

Fireplace and thermometer - 15º C is way too cold for me.

Another fact I have to clarify is that, by looking at this and other pictures, you may suspect that I'm wealthy or a least well off. Nonsense! I got a little deal going with the bank: as long I pay them a chunk of my income every month, they will let me live here. Mighty nice of them; mighty stupid of me. I should be living on my boat just messing around doing whatever I desire. More on that later.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Boat Slavery Blues

It's my boat day, but I'm feeling rather glum and, yes, pessimistic.

Yesterday I received an email notice with some prickly news: "You owe Social Security 1,570 euros." It's a fricking EXTRA contribution for our beloved Portuguese austerity budget, more like a boa constrictor budget. There goes a chunk of my boat budget. 

Almost overnight my rate per translated word plunged 25%, plus I now pay more taxes and social security. But it's all for a good cause mind you. Somebody has to support a plague of endemic corruption at all levels, white elephants and a huge swarm of civil servants, most of whom do f...k all. My apologies to the 20% who work hard or, at least, pretend to.

The seduction of living a minimalist carefree life on Jakatar (at free anchorages) billowed into an exaggerated daydream, or maybe not.

My discontent was fermenting in my head as I drove along the cliff-side road under a miserably dark sky. On reaching Paimogo I was greeted by a rainbow to remind me that I'm alive and healthy and...screw the economic crisis!

Ocean Rainbow
Rainbow on a gloomy day
At the boat, the batteries were bubbling at 14.8 V and the new hydrometer showed a 100% charge, so I disconnected the charger before the batteries got fried. Next, I cut and fitted the new thermostat hose - it's thinner than the old one and buckles at the elbow...we'll see what happens.

Called Fernando the electrician and he said they'd stop by in the afternoon to install the wind generator. I made sure all the bolts and fasteners were ready and then tried to pull the remaining wire out of the mounting pole.

I'll make a long stupid story short and stupid. A long time ago I sprayed polyurethane foam into the pole in an attempt to stop the wind generator's resonating vibration from humming all over the boat and driving me crazy. Now I couldn't remove the old wires or run new wires.

Called Fernando to cancel the installation until I resolved the problem. He insisted I take it to the shop where we poked it vigorously with a broomstick, a steel rod and then a long sharp fish hook, all to no avail. Since the 2.5 m pole consists of two parts joined at the middle with an inner sleeve, we ended up taking a torch to it and whacking it repeatedly with a large hammer. Finally, we separated the parts and managed to get the foam out.

Unfortunately for me, they got a call for an emergency repair on a fishing boat. My generator will have to wait for another day.

Boat Slave Live from Peniche, Portugal

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ocean Crossing Memories Rekindled by Sunrise

A transcendental moment of reflection.
Early in the morning I finished my 30-minute exercise session, opened the skylight and saw this sunrise. I felt like a child again, felt the thrill of discovering something completely new. Before I knew it, I was whispering "Here comes the it comes."

When I crossed the Atlantic I had my share of these transcendental experiences: sunrises, sunsets and nights glittering with millions of stars so bright and vivid the mast seemed to almost graze them. I loved the night shift. On some nights I would be treated to a swirling fluorescent wake trailing from the rudder, so luminescent you'd swear the boat had an underwater floodlight. You can't buy this magic any more than you can hype yourself into living it deeply if that's not your game.

No chart plotter, no radar, no AIS, no shortwave radio, no computer, no roller furler, no automatic pilot (just a windvane with a loose connection) and not even self-tailing winches.

Except for food and water, Jakatar voyaged as lean as a roving monk. A crumpled photocopied chart of the whole Atlantic, a VHF radio, a handheld GPS and an old plastic sextant with a complicated little calculator which I had no clue how to use, those were our tools. In a worst case scenario, even without a compass, I could follow the sun and the stars that I had become familiar with. They would surely guide me to Europe or Africa.

A 3-day storm was followed by doldrums. We were plodding along on a Corbin 39 cutter: strong and steady, with a mast held in place by a forest of thick shrouds, stays and running backstays. The hull was built in 1982 but the boat was launched only in 2000 and all the rigging was new.

We were sailing in the midst of a shipping lane from New York to Europe. Ships at night were our only obstacles; flickering fireflies that would emerge in the dark horizon and quickly become two mast lights as big as the moon. In fact, one night the full moon was suddenly unveiled from behind a black cloud triggering a rush of adrenaline that jolted me out of a semi-hypnotic state as I mistook it for a ship about to run us over.

That was our crossing, now tucked in my memory like a faded magazine article.

The extraordinary sunrise this morning was my muse and inspiration for next year. There's always next year.

Drifter Sailing
The best siesta in the world

Sailing with Women
Saki  the Greek (sorry Saki, forgot how to spell your name) and our three women aboard.

Reading at sea
My brother Cesar, working on his tan and enriching his mind.

Berths at Horta Marina
Jakatar docked at Horta, Azores.
Horta Marina Wall
Karl, the fourth crew member. A brilliant guy with a huge appetite.

Ships at sea
Night is falling, just me and the stars (and those damned ships).

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Amateur Boat Mechanic

Today I decided to solve the thermostat leak, at least to diagnose it. Little jobs like this can accumulate until they become overwhelming. Not to mention that it may take weeks, if not months, to have an out-of-stock part shipped here.

This time I taped paper towels over crucial areas to reveal the source of the leak. It didn't take long to see the results and, luckily, the thermostat housing is not cracked, as I had feared. The culprit turned out to be a wire clamp that had cut into the hose. Woooh, what a relief.
Kubota heating hose
How to discover a leak with paper towels. The towel around the hose got soaked immediately.
Had lunch, with an extra glass of wine to celebrate and went for a walk along the breakwater. I don't know if was the wine, the sunshine, the fact that I had no work to finish, but whatever it was, I decided to sit and enjoy the world around me and to forget everything else. This is what I'm good at doing; it's my mantra and what I'm missing most in life. I was born to be Zen - but not a Zen monk, mind you!

It was warm and I wore a jacket to carry accessories (camera, phone, wallet, keys) and as insurance against a cool breeze that did not materialize. I sat there for nearly an hour (which seemed like a long time - which is good) and admired the serene look of the fishermen who spend hours fishing off the breakwater apparently without a care in the world. Yes, I realize that they probably envy me as I step aboard a 39-foot sailboat, but we all know how that story goes, don't we?
Fishing Boats in Peniche
What could be better than sitting here watching the coming and going of fishing boats?
Something to smile about. Why do photographs insist on making me look bald? That's not what I see in the mirror and mirrors don't lie, as Leonard Cohen said.
Peniche Port Entrance
The blue bicycle
Seagull Beach
Seagull Beach and fish bait cages in the water.
Before going home, I introduced myself to the unlucky sailor who was reading a novel in his cockpit. He's a very polite, soft-spoken man suffering from very sore ribs. It turns out that Nigel is British but lived in Toronto for 37 years until he retired. He fell in the galley against the stove and cracked his ribs when a wave jolted his boat over on its side. That's all I know because I'm not a snoop and this isn't a gossip column.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Corbin Brothers

My brother Cesar also owns a Corbin 39 (center cockpit) called Lapu Lapu, which he built from a bare hull. He also built most of the interior on my boat Jakatar. When cruising, Cesar eats only salted pork, bananas, chickpeas and also oranges to keep scurvy away; and he eats oatmeal for breakfast, but I shouldn't be telling you that.

When we docked in Horta, Azores, after a 23-day voyage from New York, he leaped from Jakatar, ran wildly down the dock and up the street barefoot, wearing a rag resembling a pair of shorts and zigzagging with "sailor's vertigo" as people scrambled to get out of his path. He came to a quick halt at a kiosk where he bough a pack of cigarettes, lit one up and looked around smiling as the nearby policeman slipped his gun back into the holster. I'm kidding of course, about the policeman.

He no longer smokes and bought a new pair of shorts.

Captain Cesar showing off his work of art and his muscles in Port Dover, Lake Erie.

My other brother Luis has a...I forget the make of his boat. It's a great boat but smaller. He's the smart one in the family. That explains why he got a smaller vessel - at a fraction of the price for triple the fun. He used to design sailboats when he was a teenager back on the farm in Canada, so I think I'll blame him for getting us all into this racket.
Luis sailing his boat on Lake Erie with his twin daughters Erika and Michelle who are also nuts about boats. It must be in the genes

My mother is crazy about boats too, so I figure we must be related to Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who discovered the route to India. My father, on the other hand, liked fishing from the beach. That was it, he didn't even like to drink water all that much. We forgive him because, otherwise, he was a good man.

At this very moment Cesar is making his way down from Toronto to Florida (by car) where he has a house near the ocean. He plans to sail the boat down next winter. It's a tough life, I know, you bet, but I'm confident he'll survive another winter without bone-chilling temperatures, snow, slush and all that fun stuff.

I don't want to anger my Nordic readers, and I won't because snow is beautiful. Let's face it, if warm weather and beaches were all that wonderful, the whole world would be living in the Caribbean or at other similar locations. Amen.

This post was going be called "Boat Battery Saga III", but I figured you deserved something better.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Battery Blues

Love your mama
Came across this beauty during a 90-minute fitness walk
Before I start moaning about my troubles, just look at this foreign "hippie" van I came across during our 90-minute late-afternoon fitness walk. It kind of reminded me of Bumfuzzle during their van journeys and the glorious life of individuals who live their lives and don't care what other people think.

But, going back to my "non-hippie" burdens. First thing in the morning, Ana and I went to café Akiacopus. Then I went to the boat.

A little ripple of irritation ran through my skin when I read the voltmeter at 11-point-something. Something is wrong. Either the battery is shot or there's a leak in the system. If it's the latter, by the time I get it fixed, the battery will be sulphated and shot anyway.

I hooked up the little charger again and hung around for a while until I got tired of doing nothing useful. I went home and surfed the Internet looking at solar panels, wind generators and marine chargers. Money, money...that's what I kept seeing on the screen.

It's almost lunch time, Monday, and the charger is still going as I write this.

Gotta call Fernando the electrician and get something going. I can handle the mast paint blistering to hell, rust stains on the stainless accessories, mouldy wood needing varnish...but a dead battery, can't live with that!

Our walk on a windy Sunday afternoon. The beach seems like a ghost town.
Praia da Areia Branca Youth Hostel

Lifesaver's Bar

Foz Restaurant, café and bar

Praia da Areia Branca River
Ana walking ahead while I take pictures

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kubota Has a Drip

We ate baked chicken legs, chestnuts, potatoes, salad an red wine at home with the patio door open and the sun shining on my back. I also had ice cream for dessert.

Then I drove to Peniche to check the boat battery saga. It was only at 11.5 volts, but at least it hadn't gone dead like last week. Go figure. This time I had shut off the forward bilge pump, so maybe it's the culprit, who knows?

Fired up the Kubota to generate some amps. Sure enough, the antifreeze started dripping steadily into the bilge. Tried the paper towel trick to find its source, a waste of time. Should have taped it on before starting the engine, then I'd see where it got wet first.

Ryker showed up. When I went to show him the leak it had stopped. If I ever buy a lottery ticket, I'll be sure to take Ryker with me.

After about 45 minutes of running the engine, the battery seemed to be stuck at 12.58 even after increasing the rpm to 1,500.

I shut off the engine, hooked the dinky battery charger and went for a walk. 

The peaceful sunny morning turned into a dark windy afternoon, just as Windguru had predicted. It's blowing like stink and who do I see teaching his young boys to sail: Luis, of course.
Pinned against the wall by strong wind

Then it started raining and I took shelter in a fishing boat with a couple of locals. Funny how boat owners always have something to talk about. They may have absolutely nothing in common except a boat; that's good enough. Dusk cut our conversation short and we went our separate ways.

During this whole time I was enjoying a good view of Jakatar. Notice how bulkier it looks compared to the blue Wauquiez accross the channel which is only 3 feet shorter.

Shiny Corbin 39

The battery had settled back to 12.27 despite the little charger's herculean efforts to liven it up. I think I'll go back tomorrow morning and leave the charger on all day.

It's 9:12 p.m. as I type and the wind is howling outside.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Boat in Trouble

Some days are nothing but trouble.

With one leg into the companionway I glanced at the transient dock and saw that the unlucky sailor had returned to his boat. Then I saw the sky filled with seagulls and I still had time to take a shot, too late but better than nothing.

A swarm of noisy seagulls tailing a fishing boat.
Ever since the wind generator died, I've developed a habit of checking the house battery voltage whenever I'm at the boat. Today it read zero. Damn, the meter is malfunctioning, I thought. When I switched on the panel, still zero. Turned on a light, nothing. Shit! How could that happen?

Pulled out the switchboard, nothing looked out of place.
Colorful spaghetti 
Got out the 5-amp charger. Let's see, 220 amps at 5 amps per hour and the battery will be charged in 44 hours. Actually a lot longer, but I'm not going to explain why that is. No need to calculate anything anyway because the charger's fuse blew right away. That's because....ah, hell I'm not going to explain that either.

At least the engine's battery was charged (I keep the two batteries separate), so I fired up the Kubota and those amps just loved flowing into an empty battery. When I had it up to 11.00 volts I stopped the engine and drove to Intermarché for a box of wine and a pack of car fuses.

Back at the boat, I changed the fuse on the charger and went to work on a translation as the sky got dark really fast.

But that's OK. I'm cozy in the boat and the battery is charging. Then it started pouring rain and the electricity went out. Started the engine again. That battery needed some serious amps; and I need to figure out what happened.

Called Fernando, the marine electrician, but he was busy all day. Maybe tomorrow. I'm a translator, I have to work tomorrow. You can see the frustration building up, can't you?

Instead of staring at engine gauges, I decided to dry the bilge. On doing so, I noticed that the water was greenish, the color of the antifreeze. Sure enough, antifreeze is dripping from the thermostat housing. It looks as though it's cracked, can't really tell where it's coming from.
Look closely and you'll see a bead of moisture below the fan belt between the two bolts.
Damn, Damn, another problem and my translation is sitting in the laptop waiting for somebody to get working on it.

Wiped the leaking antifreeze with a paper towel to see where it's coming from. Not too easy while the fan belt is turning. Finally, gave up. I'm not sailing anywhere until Spring.

Barely got any work done, the battery settled to 12.0 volts (pretty much empty). Got so pissed I had to write about it.

Another red sunset and a couple glasses of vinho tinto and I'll sleep like a baby.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bic Bilbao Finds New Home

After agreeing with the seller to buy the kayak, I realized it was a 120-km drive either way. The add had said "located in Santarem," but when I called the seller for driving instructions he said it was in "Entroncamento."

Add 45 euros for diesel, 15 euros for road tolls and the the price jumped another 60 euros, for a total of 340 euros.

I got a paddle, a small life jacket and a helmet. I was expecting a funky metal helmet, but it turned out to be just a plastic bicycle thing. Not that I had any intention of using it.

Anyway, the kayak is in good shape and cost me half of the retail price. We also went for a drive to a little village outside of Entroncamento. At this point, I'll jump at any excuse to take a break from translation work.

transporting a kayak on a car
Back home with the new toy.
The kayak, paddle, life jacke and even the plastic helmet was covered in a thin film of diesel dust from sitting in a garage for ages. We took it to the backyard for a wash.

It only weights 21 kg. I weigh 90 kg and do tons of push ups, so I figured I could toss it onto the jeep's roof with one hand. Wrong! It's shape, length and the jeep's height make it bit tricky.

For now it will be stored in the garage until I have time to try it out. That means waiting for a break from work, good weather and calm ocean all at the same other words, probably not too soon.
how to wash a kayak

This is what happens when you live in a house...junk piling up by the day. How much of it will we actually use, need or give away? Got to start thinking about a major cleaning job before ordering the firewood that will also be crammed in here right below the kayak's nose.

This is my garage by the way. After looking at the fancy ceiling trim, it struck me that some readers may think this is my living room. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Transient dock is still full

Yesterday was like living in a cold rainy country somewhere way up north.

But today I woke up to a gorgeous warm sunny day with hardly a breeze in the air.

Got up at 6:30 to finish off a translation, which I emailed to Lisbon, and then roared out of here to Peniche.

When I arrived I was surprised to see the transient dock is still full, perhaps because the 6 knot wind is from the south or, most likely, nobody believed the weather would change so dramatically overnight. The rescued bowman 46 is still here too, empty.

Luis was coming out the gate as I was going in.

"I sleep incredibly well on the boat," he said smiling.

"Last night I said, I'm sleeping on the boat, anybody coming? The kids shouted yes and then the wife came too. They already left. Good thing I stayed longer because I just met a French guy who needs his steering fixed."

Got to the boat, set up the laptop, the boat battery charger and got down to business. Another damn translation for the 20th.

Took a little break before lunch.

advantages of a pilot house
Love the pilothouse except in summer when it's hot (I look like an Egyptian mummy).
After a lunch (pre-made) of octopus rice and salad, I went for a walk up the street past the fort that was once a political prison.

Fort in Peniche
The Fort and the shadow trees.
Turned 180 degrees and took a shot of the opposite side.

Peniche Landscape

Looking north. Can't see downtown Peniche, but it's back there.

Peniche Location

An inlet below those small colourful houses.
Inlet in Peniche

Quaint neighborhood populated mostly by local fishermen.
Ocean view houses

View of the fort and port breakwater in the background, and all the wind generators way off in the distance.
Peniche Breakwater

Driving home. The sky was on fire 1 minute before I stopped the jeep and took this picture. So here it is, imagine it 1 minute before.
Sunset near Paimogo