The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Monday, May 27, 2013

Boat Filming Techniques

I've had a lot one request to shoot a video of Jakatar's interior. What's so special about it? Not much. Despite that humble fact, the video is truly amazing crappy. If you can force yourself to watch it until the very end, you may have what it takes to cross an ocean on a really slow sailboat under constant rain.

I was planning on adding a voice-over narration at home. Since Windows Moviemaker doesn't have that feature, I used subtitles and really boring music.

If you can watch this you can watch anything! And please, do not get distracted by all the electronic gadgets.

The sailing community is full of eccentrics, but none like the transient sailor who arrived in Peniche the other day. He walks into town wearing an inflatable life-jacket (crotch strap, harness...the works), sits down at a restaurant, eats a meal very well irrigated with wine and then wobbles back to his boat grinning like mad all harnessed up.

Moving right along. After having been tied up to the dock for about 10 years, the Norwegian tank, Bonanza, sailed motored against the wind headed to Norway. I hear it's cold up there, but Norwegians seem to like live with it...seals do too.
Sailing to Norway
That's Bonanza on the right getting ready to head north.
A boat parked at the transient dock got me thinking about the classic vs. plastic controversy that usually rages in the community of highly opinionated boat owners. Although the new plastic boats make a lot of sense from a maintenance and simplicity perspective, they just don't cut it when it comes to setting one's wanderlust hormones on fire.
Classic Plastic
The beauty and the...hmmm...plastic tub facing it. Sophia Loren meets Twiggy.
My trip to Nazaré is being delayed by weather, ocean conditions (going north with an unreliable transmission), work and other hassles that must be attended to.
And one more thing. The blue stripe on my boat gets very hot in the sun and, as a result, the underlying gelcoat is crazing badly. Ryker brought this to my attention. I must be going blind becaused I never noticed it.
Went to a large Aki hardware store thinking they'd have a huge selection of paints (and they do - interior paints). The smallest can of exterior paint comes in a 5-litre can. Makes sense, right? Who's going to paint a house with 1 litre? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Boat Maintenance for Dummies

I have friends whose sailboats look shiny and tidy rain or shine. My boat, on the other hand, is a perpetual disgrace. I'm always fifteen projects behind and no hope of catching up. It just occurred to me that the boat owns me; it's a 39-foot, 11-ton parasite and I'm the host that keeps it alive and floating.

If I had more time, more money or six muscular arms equipped with power tools, brushes and scrapers - and wings to work on the 51-foot mast...But MORE TIME is the only realistic goal to shoot for. I'm working on it.
mast painting
I'm in the process of scraping the flaking paint to prevent corrosion caused by salt and water trapped in paint bubbles.
My mast has a bad rash. It's taken hold mostly on either side of the sail track which I painted in 2007. Let me bore you with my existential experience six years ago when I unstepped the mast, sanded all the bad spots, degreased it, washed it and, under ideal conditions, applied International's two-part etch primer. 

The instructions said something like this: "once applied, the etch primer should change from bright yellow to dark yellow within about 30 minutes. If it doesn't, it hasn't catalyzed and must be sanded off to the bare aluminum and redone."

Guess what? After staring at it apprehensively for 40 minutes, it remained exactly the same shade of yellow as when I applied it, exactly the same! I stood there feeling as if I and my yellow-streaked mast were the only two objects on earth - nothing else in the universe mattered except me and the stubborn yellow etch primer. 

I read the instructions at least ten times, stared at the yellow color until my eyeballs were ready to pop out. What's going on!!!! What am I going to do now?

I did what imbeciles and idiots do; I convinced myself that it couldn't be true. I even whipped up a used-car-salesman theory: it didn't catalyze because I had sanded the aluminum powder coating and that's what the etch primer was supposed to react with. It'll be OK. What an idiot!

Did I tell you my mainsail cover's zipper was thoroughly destroyed by this winter's strong winds.
mainsail cover
A creative way to live without a zipper.
Is that rust on 316 stainless steel? A new meaning for stain-less, since it could also stain-more, but I doubt it.
corrosion on 316 stainless
Stainless. Why is it stained again? I cleaned it last year.
Then there's the dungeon. I always keep this door closed, and if a guest asks me what's in there, I say "a boogeyman, don't open it!"
Boat equipment
Simply disgraceful.
I removed all the junk to measure the anode bolts so I can buy a replacement before the haultout. I have a huge anode bolted to the outside of the hull which is connected to nearly all metal parts via a thick copper cable running through the bilge and branching off everywhere, terminating at a grounding plate near the mast support. 

I've been told this is bad, and I've been told that it's good. I figure it's "better than worse".  Americans seem to favor bonding all metal parts, Europeans have a more laid back approach and tend to believe that bonding will launch all your metals into a galvanic corrosion war. I was educated in Canada, so what would you expect me to choose?

Boat cleaning tricks
I removed everything to get at the bolts under a removable plywood floor.
Anode bolts
7-inch gap. Digital cameras make everything look so filthy.
Then I put everything back just the way it was. What else would I do? Remember, I got no time - I'm an overworked translator.

Now here's the final touch. The exposed chain is so rusty that I'm trying to conceal it in a rag. I guess I'll have to change it end over end at Nazaré, get the rusty part in the chain locker attached to a U-bolt and bring out the shiny galvanized end for my shiny new Rocna anchor. 
Tiger Manual Windlass
My manual Tiger windlass is also in desperate need of some TLC. Even the lock by my foot is rusty - there's just no end to this mess. Plus, there's another boogeyman in the starboard sail locker - a dinghy that looks like it was salvaged from  a garbage dump.
Corbin 39
The secret is not to zoom in on anything specific and, voilá, it looks presentable, sort of. Maybe that's why I like anchoring in the Algarve - I don't have to put up with highbrow marina neighbors sipping cold cocktails in the large luxurious cockpits of their shiny production boats looking down their noses at me (my boat, I mean - I still look respectable).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Visiting the Algarve

Albufeira Beach
Albufeira Beach - the manicured look.

All of sudden I decided we needed to drive down to the Algarve. I needed new flares, some mast paint primer, a shackle and whatever else I found irresistible to blow my hard-earned money. Obviously, it was merely an excuse for a change of scenery.

I've been sailing to the Algarve for the last 10 years, so I thought it would be fun to drive down for a change. Let me tell you, there's no comparison: no fishing nets, no lobster traps, to howling winds near the capes, no rolling motion, no work raising and lowering sails. Right!

The Ayamar shop run by a Dutch couple where I had reserved the flares closed at 1:00 pm Portuguese time and did not reopen in the afternoon. That's why we got up at 6 and drove non-stop to Ayamonte on the Spanish side of the river.

When we arrived in the outskirts of town, the road was restricted to one lane, traffic was being stopped by police at intersections and there was a huge traffic jam as far a we could see. Cyclists in tight colorful spandex were zipping by on the closed lanes on fancy bikes.

The shop is smack downtown opposite the marina. My body temperature began to rise when it hit me that we might not get there on time. But we did.

Ayamonte Marina
Ayamonte Marina opposite the Ayamar Marine Shop.
The friendly Dutch couple had the Interprotect primer I wanted but only in a 2.5 l can, so the husband convinced me that Perfection paint was just what I wanted.

"See," he pointed to the can, "it says undercoat. It's better than Interprotect, that's why it's more expensive."

Forty-nine euros for a 750 ml can. And guess what? It's not a primer - it's an undercoat to be used after the primer. Lesson learned: undercoat is what you wear under your coat and not against your body. Won't forget it in the future.

During the rest of the weekend trip we did what non-boaters do when on holiday.
Praia da Oura apartment
View from our studio apartment in Praia da Oura, Central Algarve.
Albufeira holiday
What's there not to smile about. Plus, I don't have to worry about the jeep dragging anchor!
Downtown Albufeira
Albufeira has mostly English names, English breakfast, English beer, get my drift, right.
Salema restaurants
Having lunch in Salema - Western Algarve - one of my favorite places. If it only had a bay to anchor, although you can anchor off the beach in good weather.

Boats in Salema
The Salema fishing fleet.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Micron Extra vs Plastimo Classic

It could - and should - have a been a good day despite the cool and rainy weather for this time of year. The plan was to fine-tune a small book I had just translated and to pressure wash my dirty boat before sailing to Nazaré next week.
Fishing nets in Peniche
Fishermen sorting out their nets or whatever they do...later in the day some of them were sitting on the ground mending holes.
The marina gate was half open - a bad sign. And, just as I suspected, there was no electricity. So, there I was: laptop and lunch bag in hand, the power washer in the jeep, eager to get the ball rolling. But there's no power. Checked the breakers in the panel by the boat - all of which were pointing up and functional.

I then checked the main switchboard by the gate; the breakers were all down and dysfunctional. What you do is switch on individual sectors until you find the one that's tripping the system, being careful not to touch any exposed wires and getting fried in the process.

No luck. Click, click, click...none of them would stay up. Tried different combinations. Nothing. Damn it, don't tell me I have to drive back home. I couldn't go back to my office, I live for my boat day. How anybody can live without the hassles and expense of a naked sailboat is beyond me!

Instead, I went to pick up my Plastimo Classic antifouling paint at Luis' shop. Yeah, that's right, I'm going with cheap paint this time. It might be a stupid idea when you calculate the cost of hauling out, but I'm willing to take a chance on being stupid this year. I normally spend big bucks on International's Micron Extra paint and haul out every two or three years...which also entails lots of diving to scrape growth off the hull and propeller, not to speak of sailing slower after the first season no matter how much you scrape. We'll see what works best.