The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Walking is Healthy

Have you ever felt stuck?

Like sitting on a hot rolling sailboat in the middle of an ocean for a week with no wind and an almost empty diesel tank. That's how I feel now after being deprived of my jeep for nearly two weeks; all this frustration because of one tiny engine part.

Because I'm not in the middle of an ocean, I went for a walk this morning - for a purpose, mind you. 

It's one of those calm sunny mornings that completely transforms your mood the second you step out the door. Let's face it, getting out of the house is a "numero uno" purpose in life. No question about it.

First I walked into town to get some cash at the ATM; then I walked to the farm to pick some tangerines, oranges and lemons - winter fruit.
Lemon tree
Before the storm, this lemon tree had lush green foliage and the lemons were hanging where they should be.
The tangerine tree held on to its leaves and tangerines, looking like a decorated Christmas tree. The orange tree was naked with one fallen and wrinkled orange stuck in the bare branches.

Fig trees
Bare fig tree branches overhead, vines and chestnut tree in the center
What's so exciting about that, you may ask? 

Not much, I admit. But it sure beats sitting at home waiting for a translation, surfing the Internet out of boredom or shoveling snow in Sweden. [I love teasing my Swedish friends and love it too, right?]

Silver Coast in Winter
I was going to walk along the beach on my way back but the tide was too high.
So now I'm back in the damn house again waiting for Apple shares to drop. The lemons fell, why shouldn't apples?

In a post about Apple, I forecast that its shares would drop to $285 within two years. Stupidly, I forgot one major fact: Apple has $137 billion in cash (no, that's not a typing error - 137 billion). Consequently I'll have to change my forecast to $315 per share. You may argue that 137 billion divided by its shares does not equal $30. But it's not that simple, and I'm not about to write a 10-page treatise on the subject.

If you think that's "quacky" listen to this: about seven years ago I bought a Sony 27-inch flat-screen TV for €1,750...yeah, I know, I'll blame it on Ana and hope she doesn't read this post. Today, you can buy a similar quality TV for €400 or less. And we're not even factoring inflation into the price.

That's what will happen with smartphones and pads. They'll be facing the same price guillotine all other electronic devices have faced in the past. Chop! Chop! Smartphones for 99 bucks. And where will Apple get its hyper profits then? Remember, I said 2 (two) years.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Summer and Winter

The Sun is back, so why not go for a walk down to the beach.

This place really is two worlds: summer and winter. Here's what Praia da Areia Branca looks like on a typical summer day.
Portuguese Coast
Low tide, not too crowded, lazy warm days.
Because of the January storm damage, this is what it looks like today.
Damage repairs - and no dogs allowed either!!
Almost deserted boardwalk (...stonewalk).

The fence on the left is where the cliff drops 50 m and where the ocean is undermining this road. If you park where the yellow stripes are painted you risk losing your car in a spectacular free dive.
That's Peniche in the background, looks so close but is quite far when your jeep has broken down

A typical winter day. I have no work this afternoon so why not go for a leisurely walk. Yes, yes, I know, you can hardly stand the adventure of it all and will return tomorrow for more action...uh, boredom.

No boat visits, no jeep, no action - haven't even tried my kayak yet. Well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do even if it's boring. Maybe I should keep quiet until I have something worth writing about.

Wait, there's more boring stuff. I found a Youtube flick about the surrounding area. The beginning is tacky, but it gets better.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

To Apple or not to Apple

I've been stuck at home all day jeepless (still waiting for a part), doing a translation and cleaning up the post-storm debris in the yard.

I haven't gone to the marina to check on Jakatar for over a week and I'm getting cranky with this stay-at-home, non-mobile life. As a result I got somewhat obsessed with Apple shares. Makes perfect sense, right?

Apple shares price
Apple's demise...uhhhm, an iPhone would have probably taken a better picture.
It's 18:00 and I have an Apple itch to scratch. I hate to sing the "anybody could see it coming" iTune, but I did see it coming. If you don't believe me you can ask Joe. We talked about it by the beach not that long ago when Apple was still up in the sky.

Lineups of screaming Apple fanatics salivating to get their hands on the latest Apple release are history. In fact, those newscasts killed the Apple "cool" factor. Like hey, do you want to be seen as just another hysterical Apple groupie? Let me reword that: if you own an iPhone or iPad, you may be mistakenly associated to a hysterical Apple groupie.

The Incredible Fact
Apple is (sorry, was) the world's top company by capitalization. And how did it get there? Selling Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, iTunes and other fun stuff...expensive stuff. Where I'm living an iPhone 5 not tied into a mobile provider's service scheme costs 1,099 euros at a discount store (Staples). The most expensive Samsung, despite being much larger, costs 789 euros, and that's because they're riding piggyback on Apple's hyper-inflated prices.

Let's see, 100 of these beauties would cost you as much as a fancy 2-bedroom apartment near the beach. Now, you could argue that a handful of Rolex watches or gold rings would cost you just as much. You could, except that Rolexes are for the wealthy and that's why Rolex - or whoever makes the watch - will never be a really huge company. It's a question of numbers; if Rolex dropped their prices to boost sales, they'd be competing with Timex.

Clarity vs Hype
Imagine a sailor that has been lost at sea for the last 3 years and, on getting back to terra firma, is told that the world's richest company (Apple) got that way mainly by selling really expensive mobile phones. He'd think that a) Apple had a monopoly or b) the world had gone nuts. I'll go with b.

Why has the world gone nuts? Simply because in the near future you'd have to be nuts to pay 1,000 euros for a good smartphone, just like you'd have to be off your kilter to pay 3,000 euros for a decent laptop today (that's why a good laptop costs about € 600).

So, it's safe to say that Apple is huge because it has fantastic products, incredibly high prices and little competition, UNTIL NOW!

The million dollar question is (a drum roll now would be nice) how low will Apple shares fall?

Here's my magic calculation formula (and it's got to be fast because Ana just started making dinner - but that's OK because I'm at my best under pressure):
  • iPhones provide 50% of Apple's profits - so subtract 25% for lower sales;
  • Prices of most iPhone models must be slashed by about 40% to compete with newcomers - so 40% on 50% of total profits = 20% drop;
  • The iPhone groupie craziness (not to mention ownership saturation) is going to level off in developed countries, the main market for expensive units - subtract 20%;
  • Apple is losing its cool factor (it's much cooler now to whip out a larger Samsung from your pocket) - subtract 15%;
  • Apple will always have good products - add 10%;
  • Apple will continue to be innovative - add 10%.
Any unknown factors will probably balance out in the end.

Apple's profits will fall 60% over the next two years according to my formula (- 25%, -20%, -20%, -15%, +10%, +10).

Conclusion $700 per share is about right for its current profits (a fair price if Apple could maintain sales and profits, if it had no competition charging up the alley).

Take 60% of profits and you have a FORECAST SHARE PRICE WITHIN 2 YEARS OF $280.

$280, take it or leave it.

I may be wrong, but I doubt it. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Saturday Storm

Manuel called me Friday evening - I could barely hear his voice over the whistling rasping wind and banging noises.

"It's blowing like hell here and it's gonna get a lot worse tonight," he shouted into the mobile.

"Yeah, it's supposed to hit 45 knots," I shouted back from my cozy office.

"Windguru says gusts will reach 65 knots early this morning!"

"65 knots," I repeated, not shouting anymore, as my stomach tightened. "Shit, my jeep broke down yesterday. I'll borrow Ana's car and pop over before it gets dark."

"Don't bother, I'm on your boat right now. Everything is OK. I untied two sail sheets and tied them to the cleats on the pontoon. You're only tied-off to the fingers, and they're heaving up like crazy. If they snap at least now you're tied to the pontoon."

I thanked him and went back to my emergency translation.

I shot this video Saturday morning at Praia da Areia Branca after the worst had passed.
In the morning nobody called from the marina, so I figured Jakatar was still in its berth and floating. I kept on working.

Then the power failed in town and I couldn't work anymore; I asked Ana to drive me to the marina.
Storm in Peniche
Look at the waves in the hills charging the beach. The foam on the far right is from a wave that crashed over the breakwater.
Breakwater in Penich
Huge waves coming over the breakwater and all I got was this barely visible white spray (in the center) just before getting into the car.
I guess I'm an amateur blogger: I timed a fast dash to the gate to avoid waves crashing over the breakwater; was on the boat that was heeling and bouncing around like an enraged bull; had a perfect view of the massive waves steamrolling toward the beach - and only remembered to take pictures when I got back to the car. What an idiot!!!

Don't go away, there's more.

Back home, there's still no power by 5 pm. Trees have fallen over power lines and everything is a mess. I got a job to finish, the deadline is covered by a bank guarantee and I'm starting to get jittery.

What to do, What to do?

There's only one thing to do. I made a bunch of sandwiches (actually Ana did), packed the laptop and an extra blanket. Then Ana drove me back to the marina where I would spend the night and the next day working in the boat. Amazingly, there's power at the marina.

Just as I was settling down to work in the boat that's rolling and jerking violently at the dock lines, Ana calls. "The power is back."

What a life.

News report: Peniche had the strongest wind clocked at 140 km/h; Nazaré had the largest wave (measured by a wave-measuring buoy) of 19.2 meters.

That's enough excitement for now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Silver Coast Weather Report

The weather report for today goes something like this: grey, oppressive, useless and uninspiring with rain expected later. Pretty much the same for tomorrow.

I'm chained to the computer, the house...the work. WORK, that's a dirty four-letter word if I've ever seen one. And when the pay is bad, it's one of the dirtiest words I've ever heard!!

As I sit here picking my brain for something to write, I just realized that a blog (or at least a post) reflects the quality of one's life. OK, I promise that this is temporary. It won't be long before I'm sailing or, at the very least, hanging upside down in the boat's engine compartment changing the gearbox.

When I arrived home from lunch, the garden felt so peaceful and soothing that I took these pictures. I thought about my niece Erika who just arrived at some lonely town near the Arctic Circle for a teaching gig and thought, "this ain't so bad." And it wouldn't be if I hadn't been working for 22 days straight from the moment I get up until I go to bed. I don't even dare tell you what I'm translating.

decoration pumpkins
The Three Pumpkins

Villa in Portugal
Looking toward the street
Hanging pumpkins
More pumpkins

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anchoring in the Algarve

I had a bright idea last night. If I write it in stone here, I'll probably feel committed to carrying it out. Sounds good in theory, as usual.

If you've been following my story, you'll know that I'm planing to transport a multi-part mooring to Alvor this spring. The whole affair is described in Temporary Mooring in Alvor.

Before I had my bright idea, I was working on a miserable translation assignment and my eyeballs were about to pop out of my head. Enough is enough. So I surfed the web looking for some entertainment (TV just doesn't do it anymore). I began reading a heated discussion in a forum about anchors and anchoring techniques. Let me tell you, anchoring is a hot topic, very emotional stuff that is taken very seriously.

Suddenly I was looking at a photograph of a Rocna anchor filling my computer screen; ugly and mean-looking like a primitive weapon. I like it.

So off I went to the Rocna site where I watched a demonstration video and was quite impressed. I like the way it bites immediately and rotates during a wind/tide shift while remaining buried.

So, for example, if a dumb-ass boater were to snag my anchor chain with his lousy inferior anchor, it would take some force to pull the Rocna out and, if it did pop out, it would reset almost immediately. Pure genius! They should call it the iAnchor.

The same thing goes for the Manson Supreme anchor, which is pretty much a copy in disguise.

Rocna anchor
Rocna Anchor

So, I asked myself, why go through all the hassle of building a mooring when I can have an anchor that does the same job. Even better, it's like having a mooring wherever I go.

With the mucky bottom in Alvor and Culatra or sandy bottom in Sagres and Portimão, this anchor will bury itself up to the tomatoes, as we say in Portugal.

The downside is that a 25 kg anchor plus shipping from the UK will set me back 750 euros.

This means unplugging from the rat race 750 euros later than I had planned...what a life of compromises.

PS. If you're reading this and I find you anchored in my favorite spot in Alvor when I sail in, you're in big trouble!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Ideal Cruising Sailboat

There's a blogger over at Boat Bits who has quite a following even though 90% of his short but entertaining posts are about finding the perfect VolksCruiser - a cruiser for ordinary folks, you know, people on a tight budget, tightwads, whatever you want to call them. People like me.

Here's my boat, Jakatar, a Corbin 39 - voted the top cruising boat in its range by Cruising World Magazine a number of years ago.
Cabo Espichel
Sailing Past Cabo Espichel going to the Algarve. Damn, that's a tall mast. No wonder raising the sail is sweaty work.

Anchoring in Alvor
Anchored in Alvor, Algarve (pre-roller furling days). Installed an Alado furler in 2011.
Travelift in Nazare
Modified keel, skeg hung rudder, built like a a killer whale.
That's a genuine cruising boat, and it has served me well in all kinds of sea conditions, including a nasty storm.

The truth is that I like almost any type of boat: 56-foot luxury yachts, old wooden schooners, sleek sailing machines, fat motorsailers, crusty rowboats and, yes, get my drift.

It's been said a million times, but I'll say it again with a new twist: the perfect sailboat is the one tailored to your needs, EVEN IF YOUR NEEDS BOIL DOWN TO SPENDING THE NEXT 10 YEARS FIXING HER UP AT THE YARD OR TINKERING WITH SYSTEMS AT THE MARINA, YAPPING AND DREAMING ABOUT CRUISING BUT NEVER ACTUALLY SAILING ANYWHERE.

YOUR NEEDS!!!! THAT'S WHAT REALLY MATTERS. Make sure you scratch the right itch; wouldn't it be silly to have an itchy arm only to find yourself compulsively scratching your leg. Need I say more?

For example, here's the ideal coastal cruiser for single handed multi-leg sailing down the Portuguese coast to the Algarve and surrounding area.

Pleasure machine
Maybe the inmast furling is not a good idea, but the build and design is a tried and proven pleasure machine FOR COASTAL CRUISING.
Here's the ideal boat for day sailing or weekends.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 26
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 26. Shall we go sailing this afternoon and forget about her until next week.
Now I have to get back to work. These translation deadlines are killing me.