The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sagres to Sines

The Beliche anchorage got a bit rolly when the wind died down at night. If there's one thing I hate, it's trying to sleep in a rolling boat. Maybe I wasn't rocked to sleep when I was a baby, I don't know. I got up at 6:00 anyway feeling a bit disgruntled, had breakfast and pumped the perfectly clean anchor up for the 58-mile leg to Sines.

After motoring past the very imposing Cape S. Vincente, a land breeze kicked in from the east. What luck! I pointed Jakatar into the wind, put the main halyard on the winch and, what's this?...the old Barlow winch wouldn't budge an inch. It worked fine in slow speed, but that would take forever to raise the sail. Pointing into the wind meant heading straight to a rocky shore. Time to think.

My boat may be naked, but it's got plenty of appendages. In no time I had a snatch block on a cleat redirecting the halyard to the genoa winch. And they say you can't teach an old boat new tricks.
snatch block solution
An old trusty snatch block and I'm in business again.
So I raised 2 sails, unfurled the genoa and began happily sailing north, a rarity this time of year. Happily that is until the wind stiffened, the boat heeled and I began hearing noises down below. Down below, all I saw was a plastic water bottle rolling back and forth making a racket; I always (almost) stow everything securely. Storage is one think I don't lack.

Time to put in a reef on the main; something I haven't done in a while. Here's how it goes: sail close as possible into the wind without the genoa flapping (the staysail is boomed and couldn't care less); push the autopilot button; ease the main out until it starts flapping; release the main halyard to a pre-marked distance; pull in the first reef line on the luff (yeah, I know, this is boring); pull in the leech reefing line; and, finally, tighten the halyard again.

It didn't go as smoothly as I described, not by a long shot. But like I said, I hadn't done this in a while. When the wind piped up some more, I got a chance to redeem myself by putting in the second reef in three minutes flat without leaving the cockpit.

Reefing the main
Two reefs in by now and the genoa rolled in a bit.
After a few hours of flying at over 6 knots, the damn wind started to shift north and weaken. Back to motoring until I reached Sines at about 6:30 pm and headed straight for the marina, took a hot shower in the posh facilities (only 23 euros per night). At the reception I also discovered that I could anchor off the beach for 12 euros and get a gate and bathroom card.

Hungry, I hurriedly climbed the long steps up to town, walked past the fort where Vasco da Gama was born and headed straight for Adega de Sines, one of the oldest, most charming and cheapest restaurants you'll ever find.

I sat on a stool at one of the long tables and the plump waitress with the perennial smile immediately came over.

"The chicken is all gone."

"What else you got?"

"Everything except the chicken."

This meant five other dishes posted on a blackboard at about 6 euros apiece. I ordered grilled turkey breast and a jar of red wine. After dinner I wandered around the narrow streets before heading back to the boat for a deep sleep.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Culatra to Portimão and Sagres

At 6:45 I worked up a sweat on the manual windlass to raise 45 m of chain. The Rocna anchor emerged from the bottom like a huge shovel filled with black mud. Since there was no wind I took my time cleaning it with a broom stick before bringing it all the way up.
Then I motored out in the falling tide to the fast-flowing channel, into the turbulent waters near the entrance and out into the open ocean where I set a course between the sandbanks and the fish farm. 
The Naked Boat
I'm all set. Got my logbook, line-handling gloves, coffee, harness (yellow) and knee pads. Sometimes I use knee pads because I use my knees a lot to gain leverage. Look a bit funny with tanned legs and white knees!
Motored for a while, then sailed for a few hours until speed fell to 2.5 kt, at which time the motor was summoned to do its job. I don't mind sailing slow, but I wanted to reach Portimão before dark, which I did.
Grottos in Portimão
Plenty of amazing cliffs and grottos near Portimão.
I threaded my way through the anchorage and then settled on a spot about 70 m from a Dutch boat.
As the chain rattled, I saw the Dutch skipper pop his head out. I couldn't see his face clearly, but I knew he was frowning. And to prove me right, he immediately jumped into his dinghy and zipped over.

"Do you speak English?"

"Yes I do."

"OK, a little bit, good."

"Ah...I have 50 meters of chain and the current makes boats go all over, not the same understand," he said slowly drawing circles with his arms. 

I had already seen that, that's why I was 70 from him. "Where is your anchor?" I asked.

"I don't know, the boat goes everywhere," he said repeating the swirling gestures.

"OK, I'll move some more," I told him. He smiled and left.

At slack tide the wind aligned the boats with their anchors and I was so far from the Dutch guy it was embarrassing. 

The problem with anchoring near the port entrance when you have a dinghy with 2 hp is the distance to town and the fast boat traffic at night. In all these years I have never discovered a good place to dock the dinghy anyway, except way upriver. Don't really care, Portimão is not on my favorites list anyway.

More mud on the anchor the next morning before I set sail in a stiff easterly wind.

Large genoa
It's only 20 miles to Sagres so I unfurled the genoa and got 5 to 6+ knots from that. Why bother with more sails to get there a bit earlier when you're having fun.
Towing a dinghy
My new HonWave T20 dinghy towed with a bridle (according to instructions).
The easterly wind was building substantial southeast waves that were rolling into the Port of Sagres and breaking on shore. The fishing fleet is tucked in the relatively protected southern corner of the port, but the anchorage, on the northeast side, is too exposed. 

The next anchorage - Praia da Mareta - was also a rolly mess so I headed for the last and very large Beliche bay that is nicely protected. 

I had my usual glass of wine after anchoring, which failed to appease my disappointment of being stuck on the boat for another day. My planned grocery shopping, walk about town and grilled fish for dinner were shot. At least the view was good. 
Anchoring in Beliche
Anchored in front of the Beliche beach.
Beliche anchorage
Soon I was joined by two and later three boats. Normally, nobody anchors here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dinghy on Wheels

I'm short on time so I'll just go ahead and ramble until I'm tired of it.
Sailing in the Tagus River
Snapped this shot from the bridge over the Tagus River (called Tejo in Portuguese). 
I had left Jakatar anchored in Culatra - for the second time - and drove home. Going home meant, translation work, moving guests in and out of the 4 units, cutting and irrigating the grass and a bunch of other useless hassles called PRODUCTIVE RESPONSIBLE LIFE.

I also bought a new dinghy, a 2-meter Honwave T20 with a slatted floor. Now I had to get this dinghy back down to Culatra by bus, which involved changing buses in Lisbon, walking more than a kilometer from the bus station to the ferry dock in Olhão and then lugging it to the water. 

It weighs 27 kg and comes in a backpack-like bag - no sweat, right? Wrong. It's a big clumsy backpack that's nearly impossible to lift off the ground onto your back. Solution: wheels. I bought a cheap aluminum hand cart.
hand cart on a bus
At Lisbon's Sete Rios bus station. The bus luggage limit is 20 kg, but the drivers didn't get a chance to pick it up.
It was hot in Culatra. I spent an hour and a half waiting for the ferry sitting on a bench under a palm tree eating cookies and drinking water. The last time I was here I kayaked to the boat; this time I didn't feel too confident about rowing a flat-bottom dinghy that far.

Bought the 1.80 € ticket and enjoyed the ride along the marked channel. 
Catamarans in Olha
If it weren't for the marina problem, I think I'd rather get a catamaran.
Got off the ferry and argued with myself on whether to head straight to the café for a cold beer and a bite to eat or to inflate the dinghy and row out to the boat. I made to wrong decision, of course.

Fishing in Culatra
I thought about inflating the dinghy on the patch of sand on the right. This is where I previously landed the kayak. Decided against it because of all the junk between the sand and the water. The café is in the background where I should have had a couple of cold ones first.
The fishing marina's pontoons are about as cluttered as what you see above but, after exploring a bit, I discovered a nice open space on the last pontoon. 
Culatra marina
The fishing fleet of Culatra.
The dinghy rowed quite well over the flat water of the calm lagoon. Before I knew it I was stepping aboard Jakatar happily floating just as I had left it. 

Immediately rowed back to shore, had a frosty cold beer, walked about a bit and then went grocery shopping. Yes, Culatra has not one, but two grocery stores.

Houses in Culatra
I never get tired of looking at these small but well kept houses. You won't find any lawns here.
I had planned on having an early dinner at my favorite café/bar/restaurant but the woman regretted to say that, although she'd gladly make me something, her husband and boys had run off for the afternoon and she was serving drinks all by herself. Typical.

I had to dismantle the old deflated dinghy lying on the deck, stow it in a sail locker, get the sail covers off, organize all the sheets and halyards (I have at least 17 lines running back to the cockpit), mount the chart plotter and generally get the boat ready to sail off early. All this before it got dark. 

With that in mind, I rowed to the boat, made a tomato, onion, pepper and egg concoction, drank a bottle of wine and had a good time lying in the cockpit drinking tea with my mind as still and unperturbed as the moonlight reflecting off the lagoon. Don't you love that, a bottle of wine will have even a sloth thinking he's poetic.