The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Visit by Captain Joe Aston

Captain Joe Aston
Captain Joe Aston and s/v Anna M putting the squeeze on Jakatar.
The mobile rang Saturday at about 11:00 while I was pounding the keyboard working on a translation with a tight deadline. It was David.


"I'm at the marina and it's nearly blowing a storm here."

"Yeah I know, I can see the whitecaps from my office window."

"There are two big boats - I mean bigger than yours - tied up to Jakatar, and the wind is squeezing the crap out of your fenders."

"Why aren't those idiots at the transient dock?"

"It's crowded with smaller boats...besides, your boat is the perfect dock."

He assured me that, other than the flattened fenders, everything was OK.

I thought about the sign "Private, No Parking" hanging from Jakatar's rail and my stomach began to tighten. But I had a job to finish. The clock was ticking and I didn't have time to drive out there, shake my fist and call them a bunch of yahoos.

cozy threesome
The Brazilian Bellatrix was also involved in the cozy threesome until the marina staff pulled her across the entrance channel.
In the afternoon the club's vice-president also called me. He told me the same thing as David and said he had called the marine police. These skippers - Brazilian and Irish - were blocking the marina entrance and putting too much pressure on dock fingers not built for three boats in 45 knots.

Crowded marina in Portugal
The happy ending...I hope.

The vice-president called me later. They had pulled the Brazilian a few meters across the entrance channel an tied it alongside the Wauquiez sailboat on the transient dock. Joe, the Irish guy, refused to move. He claimed that in storm conditions safety was more important than rules. The police noted his name and vessel and told him he'd be responsible for any damage.

This morning I finished the translation and drove to Peniche. The wind had abated to about 25 knots. All seemed well and I didn't bother knocking on the Irish fellow's boat. What for? What was I going to do...and what could he do. Well, he should have placed a couple of his fenders between my boat and the dock to distribute the pressure. But that's something only really considerate people do; most people don't give a damn about others even when they're trespassing. That's the world we live in - take it or leave it, no sense whining about it too much.

I came home, Googled around and found out that Joe Aston is a sailor with an interesting, if not eccentric, background. Here's some information I dug up:

Anna M is licensed for 7 passengers, and Skipper Joe Aston has an Irish Sailing Association endorsed ticket for taking passengers to sea. Fiona [his wife, I presume], who is registered with the Irish Society of Homeopaths and holds an ITEC qualification in Indian head and holistic massage, offers these treatments from Horseshoe Cottage. Joe is a writer who has just published his first novel, Wavedancing, and with Anna M has featured in the film The Return of the Humpback Whale and the photographic book The Islands of Ireland. Buy Wavedancing diret from Joe or via AmazonHe runs the Gannetsway editorial and translation services. 

I also read that he was a goat farmer, a journalist and a couple other things I can't remember now. I have short memory.

Here's a video of Anna M and Joe sailing in rough weather. Have a good trip Joe, just don't scratch my boat on the way out.


  1. I don't think you should raft up in such a case unless it is a true emergency, which this does not resemble. I also think a halfway competent skipper would carry sufficient fenders and boards to minimize potential damage. Joe just sounds like an asshole to me, "Captain" or not.

  2. While spending this winter in Peniche (taking care of the norwegian ketch "Bonanza") I have seen this situation and it was a lot worse in the beginning, with the Brazillian completely blocking the entrance to the harbour with his bowlines. Part of the situation was created by a French boater on the transient dock who refused to move his boat to create space.

    1. Although, unfortunately, I never met you at the marina, it's good to hear from you. If you ever visit Peniche again, knock on Jakatar.
      Yeah, that was a messy situation, but luckily no damage was done.
      I'm curious to know if Bonanza had a good trip back to Norway (I assume it was sailing back home).

  3. Bonanza made it back to Norway. I had some contact with the owner and followed their progress on They did encounter all the problems you can expect from a boat that has been on the dock for some years (and a lot of unexpected ones). Normally I come to Peniche at least once a year, but I am not sure if I can make it this winter. I had a closer look at Jakatar last winter and loved the flush deck layout. Lesser impressed by your mast. Aluminium masts are made from extruded aluminium. This material contains some zinc and magnesium to help in the extrusion process. Its these materials that get eaten away by the salty environment and give this cauliflower appearance . In your case I would start looking for a company that can re-anodize your mast. The process should not be to expensive but due to your location and the large size chemical baths needed I am afraid it will be hard to find a company that could serve your needs in Portugal. I think you could have more luck in Spain (some hi-tech metallurgic stuff going on in Vigo).

    1. Good to know that Bonanza made it safely.
      The mast is painted, not anodized. The paint is flaking because when I re-painted it in 2007 (as explained in the post "Boat Maintenance for Dummies"), the International etch primer didn't react with the aluminum (I suspect it's shelf life had expired) and thus did not get a grip. Consequently the paint is beginning to peel off, and I'm in the process of scraping the worst parts while the mast is standing.
      Thanks for the idea about Vigo, anodizing instead of repainting sounds good to me.

    2. I saw it was painted but didn't realize it was factory painted to start with. If you plan to repaint I advise you to prime with a zinc-chromate primer. This is about the only stuff that really grips on aluminium and is used mainly in the aircraft industrie. But hey, isn't a sail considered to be an air foil?