The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catching Conger Fish

I finally bought my fishing tackle at Decathlon - a collapsible pole, reel, landing net, lines, lures, hooks, floats, sinkers and a pail - all for about 80 euros. Top quality material, as you can guess from the price.

It took me a whole afternoon to spool the line onto the reel. Tip number one: when spooling the line, the reel must be under the pole and turned with your left hand. My first catch was our cat that walked into my office and into a mess of line on the floor. Before I realized it, it was all tangled, started going nuts and I had my first big game adventure before I even left the house.

Next, I practiced my casting technique in the yard. On my first try the damn sinker went right over the fence and into the neighbor's yard, scaring the crap out of her dogs. Then I overturned some decorative rocks and caught half a dozen worms. That's it, I was ready for some action.
Fishing in Portugal
My collapsible pole and bucket at Paimogo beach.
 Some things in life are downright puzzling. For example, when I opened my pack of hooks I couldn't believe what I was seeing - they had no holes for tying the line, merely a flattened head. But I'm sure there's some logic to it. 

Plan B: I used a small lure and put a worm on its hook as an added attraction. It looked like a small fish with a long poo coming out of its arse. 

I tried casting from different rocky outcrops, but nothing. The tide was low so that didn't help either. Finally, I lost my sinker and lure on a rock and gave up.

Instead of catching fish, I got a good look at what lurks in these rocky bottoms. 
Catching conger fish
While I was playing with my pole, a young diver speared two monster conger fish.
 The real test will come when I go fishing on the boat, and I have some real good (expensive) lures for that.
Paimogo restaurant
This was once an interesting fish restaurant. The local authorities closed it down because the cliff behind it will come crashing down sooner or later. It's been about 15 years and we're still waiting for the big event.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Unloved Winches

As I wrote in a previous post, my Barlow 24 halyard winch totally seized on me. Luckily, I have 6 winches and quickly rigged an alternative with a snatch block that kept me going.

I finally got around to pulling both Barlows out for servicing. As you can see, it wasn't a pretty site. When was the last time you serviced your winches? You may ask me. I can't remember. 

The main problem - besides rust and thick grease - was a broken pawl, and the inner roller bearing was...how shall I describe it...lopsided. The pawl would be easy to replace with a Lewmar part, but the bearing makes repairing it more trouble than it's worth. I'll keep one winch and use the other one for spare parts.

Barlow 24 winch parts
Barlow 24 winch sabotaged by a careless owner.
Barlow winch pawl
A broken pawl.

Barlow winch repairs
"Almost" clean using diesel and a toothbrush.
An equivalent self-tailing winch will cost about 800 euros. I could buy a used car for that much. Why hasn't somebody started making winches using a 3D printer? When are the Chinese going to start manufacturing disposable winches? Why did I buy a 39-foot boat? It ain't easy being a boat slave, I tell you.

I'll be looking for one on eBay. But it has to be purchased within the EU or the ridiculous and somewhat arbitrary import taxes will most likely negate any advantage of buying a used...a used anything, pretty much.

On the bright side, I'm looking forward to having my very first self-tailing halyard winch. Two years ago I succumbed to a roller furling genoa, now a ST winch. What next? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Docking Single Handed

I was cranking the windlass in low gear watching the 8 mm line getting thinner under the tremendous load. 

"A little more," Ryker said hanging over the side ready to tie off the next section.

I pumped the windlass handle once more and - snap - the line broke. The two sections of dangling chain we'd already raised splashed back into the water. 

"Hell," I said as we both stared at the broken line.

We concluded that the bottom chain must be snagged on something. My windlass had nearly reached its rated pulling force of 500 kg; there's no way a chain buried in the mud could offer that much resistance.

We motored back to the marina without having checked the shackle and swivel linking the riser chain to the thick bottom chain. In the end, it wasn't that important anyway. Ryker doesn't use the mooring; it's merely a backup in case he buys another boat or whatever.

I had my camera in my pocket for a shot of the shackle and swivel attached to the 22 m studded ship's chain. One picture would have been better than this whole explanation. Better luck next time.

Back at the marina I got to work on my invention for docking single-handed, or with a crew for that matter.
Docking single-handed
Should I patent it?
All I have to do is stick the light-weight vertical pipe in the bottom one, and that's it.
In theory, when I approach the slip I can grab the line and tie if off at the midships cleat. If I'm not close enough to grab it by hand, I can easily pick it up with the boat hook. After I'm done the vertical pipe can be stored in the boat until next time.

It's made of plumbing pipe and a stainless lifesaver holder I already had lying around. The hook is screwed into the pipe and taped for good measure. The whole thing cost 7 euros. Feel free to copy the idea. No, I don't have a "donate" button.
Fender step
I've seen dirtier fenders, but not many!
I had quite an appetite after all that hard work. I'm not sure why, but some people have this thing about food. For your benefit here's what was left of my lunch when I remembered to photograph it. I tell you, I'll have to start wearing the camera around my neck!
Meals aboard
The chicken was really golden and delicious.
  After lunch I tackled the winch that seized on my trip up from the Algarve. I haven't serviced the winches for years. Believe me when I say that I'm embarrassed to have allowed the winches to reach their pathetic condition. Simply disgusting.
Barlow 24 servicing
Set up a little barrier to prevent those jumping-jack springs from popping overboard. Wasted time - all the parts were cemented in place by the goopy mess. 
Long-term marina rental in Peniche
You'd think my French neighbor is having a yard sale.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Octopussy has Arrived

Another sunny day without work. As long as I can pay the bills, I'm happy.

Catamaran in Peniche
A catamaran called Octopussy.
Does this skipper have any women aboard? If so, how do they feel about sunbathing on a boat called Octopussy. I realize that it's the title for a James Bond movie; nevertheless it gives you a funny tingle the first time you see it. At least it gave me a funny tingle, maybe I'm biased toward certain words!

I Googled "Octopussy" and found it on Facebook. At one time it was based in Greece and had a huge octopus painted on both hulls. Have a feeling that it must have changed ownership - but not the name.

Checked out the steel boat up closer. It may have some style, but it rusts - looked prettier from a distance. Later, the owner started grinding steel on deck. Good thing the wind was blowing the shavings away from the marina. Have you ever had steel shavings embedded into fiberglass? Hopefully not.
A wind generator without blades - one way to solve the vibration problem.
While I was there, I snapped this picture of Jakatar.
Corbin 39
It really does look naked and dirty.
The humidity in the boat dropped to 63%. That's closer to what I had in mind. Don't want it to get too dry or the woodwork will start shrinking, and who knows what will happen.
Humidity reader

Had a leisurely lunch with red wine. After doing the dishes, I put on my 3-euro sunglasses and walked to the end of the pier. My original plan had been to take a walk through the narrow streets in town, take some pictures and give readers a sense of what Peniche is all about. That will be my next project on a sunny day.

Haven't you seen enough ocean water and boats, you may ask? No.


That's my foot, by the way.
I sat here for about 45 minutes watching boats of all sizes and colors coming and going. The sunshine, the rhythmic gurgling of water and the inner peace that comes from not being in a rush really do have a strong soothing effect. I call it "escaping from life's constant chatter."

Sitting there I got the bright idea of buying a fishing pole so that I can stand, sit or lie down anywhere near the ocean pretending that I'm fishing. I'm in need of some variety as long as it's spelled s-i-m-p-l-i-c-i-t-y. Yeah, that's it.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Life of Horatio

Anchored in Alvor - July 2013.
This summer I was fortunate to be anchored in Alvor, among other places. I'm now back to "real" life. I tell you, real life wears thin pretty fast when your heart is in Alvor, Culatra, Sagres - anywhere with a good anchorage, palm trees and cafés.

"Real" life is what most of us do nearly all the time - as opposed to what we dream of doing. Once you've indulged in what really makes you come alive, real life can get a bit tedious.

You see, although I had an enjoyable day on the boat, I don't really have anything exciting to write about. I'm just your average Horatio, a sailboat owner, a translator, a holiday home renter and occasional small-time adventurer living in Portugal. 

Well, in a worst case scenario I'll have a few laughs reading this narcissistic crap when I'm 80. Really, I'm serious.

But when you have nothing exciting to say, you borrow somebody else's stuff direct from Youtube.

This is what I should have been doing when I was 24 instead of founding a greenhouse construction company and a greenhouse farm in Portugal immediately after I realized I'd never be a writer (which I knew all along - the writing delusion was merely a good excuse to delay Real Life).





Searching for something to say. As I worked on a small translation after lunch, I photographed myself with my new Samsung Laptop. Since I'm not exactly the handsomest dude in town, less pixels work to my advantage.
I'd rather be here, one of the most fun sailing adventures without an engine on a friend's boat.
best sailing hat
Motoring against a light breeze just before the engine died.
Enough philosophizing and back to real life!

I arrived at the marina at 8:30 and performed my ritual: checked the battery charge with a cheap digital voltmeter and looked into the bilges for rainwater that sneaks in through the emergency tiller pipe, the anchor chain hawsepipe and the mast step. 

The dehumidifier, timed to run about 12 hours per day, decreased relative humidity to 70% from the usual 85%. Not as good as I had hoped; I changed the timer to 14 hours per day. 

Next, I managed to finish the job of replacing the heat exchanger zinc. I also re-arranged the fenders and added another dock line in preparation for winter. Then I had lunch. 

Another ritual is my after-lunch walk. It was threatening to rain so I walked around the marina, ran into Ryker, talked about boat stuff, and then returned to Jakatar to find a small urgent translation and a larger document for next Tuesday waiting in my mailbox.

Now that wasn't so painful was it? How was your day in real life?




Friday, November 1, 2013

A sunny day in the sweatshop

I had a hat-trick day: 1) it was my boat day; 2) it was a gorgeous sunny day; 3) and I had no translation work - not one single word to be translated.

The previous week when I ran the engine I noticed that the transmission was vibrating more than  it should. So, instead of going for a sail, I got down to business and dug out my underwater camera kit.

Setting up and using my cheap and nearly useless black&white Chinese Ebay version of what you see below would have been sufficient material for a post in itself. For some strange reason I always forget to photograph the good stuff! A bad habit that needs to be fixed.


I lashed the camera to the boat hook, slid it into the water and managed to see that nothing was wrapped around the propeller just before the screen went dead - for ever I fear. I suspect water seeped into the camera casing.

Why didn't I dive down for a close look? Because the police boat is nearby, and diving anywhere in the port is absolutely illegal unless you're an authorized diver working with an assistant.

Since the propeller was good, the alignment had to be off. I spent the next two hours on my knees and forehead aligning the propeller shaft to the transmission, and I'm happy to announce that it's almost perfect. Running in gear the engine and transmission are rock solid.

I still had enough time to change the heat exchanger zinc before lunch...then I'd go out for a short sail, I thought. If I were smart, I would have removed the exchanger's end cap and would have seen that the zinc pencil was still in good shape, still erect and doing its job. I'm not going to bore you with the grunting and sweating required to remove that stupid stubborn zinc. Somehow it welded itself to the sleeve fitting, and the result is illustrated below.
Heat exchanger zinc
Notice that the wrench handle clearly says "professional". A professional tool in the hands of an amateur can do wonders.
Anyway, the zinc stick snapped. That means I was left with a plugged zinc hole; which called for more grunting, sweating and expletives while working on my knees and forehead, with my arms down in the engine gutter. I had the hole almost cleared when I suddenly ran out of grunts, sweat and expletives. To hell with it; I screwed the little stub back on and took a deep breath. Enough is enough!
Heat exchanger setup
Easy to look at, not so easy to work on with both hands - thus the knees and forehead technique.
Ran the engine in gear for a while, had lunch, and went for a walk.