The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Emergency Tiller

Corbin 39 cutter
The last time I went sailing, it was still warm, almost.
It wasn't very cold for winter. I was out at the  boat and the wind billowed under my coat and up my back as I bent over the chain locker fiddling with the drain hoses that get clogged with chewed up crab shells dropped by seagulls on the deck and by other debris blown from town over the marina.

My back got stiff, as I knew it would, and I was feeling lazy anyway, so it was a perfect day to mess around doing nothing special.

I remembered that I had promised Peter over at "Sailing Zoot Allures" to try the emergency tiller without disconnecting the hydraulic cylinder. A good thing I did too because the hydraulic steering selection knob was frozen on the "no feedback" position. Better to discover it tied to the marina than floating on the ocean during a steering failure with a rocky lee shore. 

emergency bypass
"No feedback is" the default selection of my Wagner hydraulic steering. Tried feedback a couple of times but it feels like the rudder fights back.

I sprayed it WD40 without much conviction other than it would make me feel better for doing something. Waited a while and then tried turning it gently with large vice-grips. It came free and I sprayed it some more and then exercised the knob for a while. 

After switching it to emergency bypass, I snapped the emergency tiller on. The tiller flowed back and forth using one finger.

Yes, I know, the boat is standing still and there's no pressure on the rudder. With that in mind, I fired up the engine, warmed it up, clunked into forward and gunned it. The large 3-blade prop is right in front of the rudder and the propeller wash looked like a stormy river flowing back from under the boat. I tried the same one-finger trick and it was a piece of cake. Of course, there was no weather helm or heeling but, still, I was steering with one finger pushing a stubby tiller attached to a barn-door rudder.

And to cheer you up after such a gloomy post, here's a Sailjet 40, the fastest motorsailor ever built. Don't let the sails fool  you, it's a speedboat. This is radical. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, but it probably does.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tara comes to Peniche

A legendary boat built for extreme conditions, Tara is the platform for high-level scientific research missions. Website
Luckily, I and my entourage were invited to take a tour aboard in the morning before they laid out the gangplank for the public in the afternoon.

It's an amazing ship and the French crew were super friendly. Another benefit was that it made my boat look small, so maybe I'll stop bitching about owning an oversized boat, maybe but I doubt it. Here's Tara leaving Peniche.

schooner Tara
Uhhhm, Ana never looks this happy when she's on my boat. Maybe size does matter!
Tara the ship
Tara's galley.
Aluminum schooner
Checking out the work bench down below. I have to stop looking so "out of it" in photographs, maybe I should start drinking coffee again.
Tara expedition schooner
A big bad-ass bare aluminum schooner designed for ramming icebergs. No paint (except the orange square) and no varnish.
Unpainted aluminum
My brother Cesar deep in thought.

The entourage before lunch at the "O Sardinha" restaurant. Kathleen, Cesar's partner, took all the pictures.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Search for Sunken Treasure

"If we weren't all crazy, we'd just go insane." ~ Jimmy Buffett
Yes, it may appear a bit crazy to drive back to Sesimbra for another bungled search for my Rocna anchor and chain - my third try. But wouldn't it be insane to stay home and miss out on the fun.
Sunken treasure
My brother Cesar filling the dinghy. We're fully equipped, including the "rock anchor" in the foreground a small grapnel anchor, a rusty chain to keep the anchor horizontal, etc.
Cesar's partner, Kathleen, went hiking up to the castle while we got ready. You can't beat it - on November 1 it's 23º C, sunny and the calm bay faces a beautiful hillside town crowned by a castle.
Dinghy in Sesimbra
Leaving the port of Sesimbra in search of a Rocna 25. Photo courtesy of Kathleen.
"So where about did you lose it?" Cesar asks as we motored out of the port and into the bay.

"It's hard to say, exactly. I was so busy setting up the backup anchor that I sort of...didn't attention. But it's somewhere between up ahead and half way to the yellow buoy."

"Oh, OK. Hey, we got all day."

We tied the folded grapnel anchor a couple of feet ahead of the hook and then started motoring slowly, letting out line.

I'll be concise. It was hopeless, and we knew it right away. First the traction forced the dinghy to go in circles, and we couldn't even tell if we were actually moving anywhere.

Then we learned to steer by moving the line to starboard or port, that was cool. But it was hard to tell whether the force was just dragging force or if it had caught something.

"Feel something?"
"Yeah, I think so. Stop, let's pull it up."
"Nah, it's nothing, but it felt like it." Over and over.

Then we removed the grapnel and replaced it with about 5 feet of rusty 10 mm chain.

Same results, more or less, and the same tactic: feel something?, pull, nothing, damn, we're hardly moving, I think we're stopped, pull it up, nothing......

After hooking a coat, we removed the chain and used only the hook. That eliminated the friction and gave us a better feel of what was happening down there, like a spider waiting for the web to vibrate. But I suspect it was just bouncing around the bottom and not digging into the sand.

Time for lunch. We decided we needed a powerful magnet, perhaps a metal detector, maybe an underwater camera, a portable fish finder...Damn, I should have taken that diving course so that I could scrub Jakatar's bottom, but which I didn't and that would really be handy now.

I found some good magnets on Ebay. I think I'll order one.
Kathleen having fun while we were working.

Cesar and Kathleen
Bird watching in Sesimbra. Photo taken by Kathleen.
Me and my brother Cesar. If you're wondering, he's fairly tall, I'm extra tall. He also owns a Corbin called Lapu Lapu, so he's like a duck in water, a marina rat and all that stuff. Kathleen's photo.
Fort of Sesimbra

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Minimalism, Essentialism and, now, Boatism

The other day I came across an article about Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

As a devout wannabe minamilist, I clicked on over to Amazon and read the first few pages about some Joe who needs to be an essentialist in order to be productive and successful. Then I read a bunch of reader reviews that pretty much summarized the book. 

Verdict: you couldn't pay me to read it; it caters to the career-ladder-climbing crowd, it sounds conformist and boring and yet it's a best seller. Go figure!

I was disappointed because...I'll be we essentially already know almost everything we kneed to know. The essential problem is that we don't act according to what we know. Because the human race has gone nuts, self-help books get lots of attention by reminding people that they've gone nutty. Reading a self-help book is sort of like masturbating. You knew that, right? 

Essentialism looks something like this river scene. I'm behind the camera.
Boating on the Tagus River
This is a very essential and focused way of doing nothing.
Might as well show you what they're looking at: a fort we visited on a river island.

And because the "Naked Boat" gig is not getting me anywhere, I thought I'd invent an "ism" of my own. That's when "Boatism" popped into my mind.

But then I Googled Boatism and, damn it, even Urban Dictionary already snagged a definition for it, as you can read, and it's worth the read, and, among other things, it says: 

Imagine you're sat on a boat, with everything YOU would want to make the moment absolutely PERFECT. 
This is the Boat of Perfection. 
When you realise how much you love it, become a Boatist." 

~ Urban Dictionary

But I don't care if other people have already coined the word Boatism, I'm going to claim my right to it anyway. I own a boat, I'm a boat slave, I'm a boatist and that's the way it goes. Furthermore, nobody is going to write a book about it simply because boatists are rare and very few souls would ever want to convert from whatever "ism" they're into right now.

Yeah, I had a couple glasses of wine with lunch, but I still mean every word I said, almost.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sailing North along the Portuguese Coast

The title should read "motoring north...." Everybody knows that sailors motor a lot.

In Sagres we hauled anchor and left before sunrise.
sailing near Sagres
That's me delivering a Bavaria 32, photo taken by a buddy boat.
You need to get up early to motor 65 miles to Sines and to arrive on time for dinner at the "Adega de Sines" taverna.
Photograph kindly stolen from Iberimage. Taking pictures everywhere I go isn't my thing.
Manuel actually sailed part of the way, tacking back forth just for fun.
Manuel on "Mil Milhas" which means One Thousand Miles, since he likes to log at least 1,000 miles per season. Notice how he straps his RIB on the transom. Very handy.
I unfurled the genoa (as I said in the last post, the furling mainsail sucks) to get a bit of pull. According to my calculations, I didn't have enough diesel to reach Sines. Even when bearing off 10 degrees the genoa mostly fluttered in the headwind, so I furled it tight and swore not to play with it again until the wind changed direction or I ran out of fuel.

These modern boats kill me; they come with such tiny fuel tanks. When I fill up Jakatar, I have enough diesel for a year.

Anyway, I opened the lazaret and sure enough I saw a 20-liter jug the owner had failed to mention. I also found a funky manual fuel transfer pump that sort of worked but splattered diesel all over the place. So now I had enough diesel and didn't have to worry about arriving at midnight after a long series of tacks.

dolphin watching in Portugal
A large dolphin pod swam with me for a long time. No matter how hard I tried, I could never photograph more than 3 or 4 surfacing at a time.
We hit the marina in Sines (only about 14 euros per nigh for the Bavaria), checked in, showered and hurried up the steps on the cliff-side stairway but were too late to eat at our favorite taverna. They were dousing the coals as we arrived; we went to another place that was even better and almost as cheap.

Port of Sines
Leaving Sines before lunch time with the anchorage in the background. Next stop: a 30-mile hop to Sesimbra where Jakatar and I battled the devil not long ago.
Once in Sesimbra, the plan was to anchor, sleep, get up fairly early and search for my Rocna and chain with both dinghies by dragging small hook anchors back and forth. Nothing came of it. But I'm planning on going back with a better drag hook.

Anchoring in Sesimbra
Arriving in Sesimbra as the sun sets.
In the morning we also had breakfast in town: a huge plate of toast floating in melted butter plus coffee.
Then we went for more diesel. Oh yeah I forgot, I already ranted about small diesel tanks.

Diesel in Sesimbra
Manuel loading his diesel jug. Notice the freshly baked bread on the dinghy seat. 
After all these tasks - that make cruising so much fun - we motored 22 miles to Cascais where we anchored.
Cascais anchorage, another night, another taverna (real restaurant here).
Bought more diesel and the next day we MOTORED to Peniche, and that's it. Delivery accomplished.

Sort of felt strange motoring by Jakatar into the marina. A thought occurred to me, "Jakatar, you've got the best fuel tanks in town."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Boat Delivery Job

Delivery job? Let's call it a "boat delivery holiday." Let's call it Life. It gets a bit boring being dead all the time.

When sailing (or motoring), I'm REALLY on holiday. It's my freedom time: no translations, no errands, trips to the supermarket, no grass to cut, no interruptions except for the mobile phone...I'm on the water and I can sing and whistle as I please. I gaze at the water and sky until there is no past or future worth caring about. You just don't care, and that's beautiful.

Boat delivery job
The real me - Floating in my element.
After a five-hour bus trip from home I found myself near the Lagos boatyard eating grilled sardines at a restaurant patio with David and Manuel. We then walked over to the Sopromar boatyard to leisurely check out a real boat show at the yard. 

Anyway, the plan was to sail to Sagres before dark where we'd anchor for the night. So, at about 4:30 we walked back to the marina in the heat and rising north wind. Manuel, whose boat was docked at the reception berth and ready, left immediately.

I went back to David's boat, a Bavaria 32, where I impatiently waited until 6 while David and his girlfriend packed and re-packed a million things. My forehead must have slowly become more deeply furrowed as I realized my nice sailing-only trip to Sagres was being decimated by baggage - all the crap we pack and don't need. Finally I helped them carry a ton of bags to the car and they were gone. I hightailed out of the marina on my first 14-mile leg. It was blowing stink by now (if you've ever been to this part of the Algarve in summer you know what I'm talking about).

The Bavaria has a useless furling mainsail, which I didn't even bother look at. After turning east at Ponta da Piedade, I unfurled 2/3 of the genoa and kept the engine at about 2,000 RMP, making my way between the fish farm and the cliffs.

Motoring with wind is cheating but I wanted to reach Sagres in time to have dinner at a taverna in town. If I sailed only, I'd be late. This way, I got a nice steady 7 knots without heeling much and without being scorned for motoring only on such a hard beam reach. With the engine going, it meant that I had to keep a sharp lookout for fishing buoys. The last thing I needed was a second nightmare in one season.

I made it into port just as the sun was going down, anchored, tested the anchor hard, fell in the dinghy with the engine on top of me while transferring it, scratched my shin on the propeller and got my pants greasy, and then picked up Manuel at his boat. We tied the dinghy off at the old pier, climbed the rusty latter, getting dirtier in the process, walked up the hill into town and entered the taverna dirty, wild-haired and  hungry. That's when a cheap roasted chicken meal is like a feast.

The journey had hardly began and I was already a very happy boat slave.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Treasure Hunt for a Rocna Anchor

My last 3 posts described:
1) how I fouled the propeller on my way to Sines;
2) how I dove under the boat, cut the boat free but failed to cut all the lines;
3) how I lost my Rocna 25 anchor and chain in the bay of Sesimbra;
4) and, how I finally managed to anchor with an heavy - but nearly useless - spare anchor and fouled the prop once more big time.

The next morning, as the sun  broke over the hills, I dove under the boat again and found a huge mess of old nets and lines wrapped around the prop and shaft. A bit scary when you think that I could easily get entangled and, like, die for real. But I didn't want to die just yet so I went at it very gingerly trimming away the nets making sure my legs were always out of reach.

Port of Sines
A quiet corner in the Port of Sesimbra. I actually took this shot during a boat delivery from the Algarve shortly after my worst trip ever.
Anyway, I got the propeller cleared, re-anchored closer to the port, went ashore and contracted a professional diver. The diver had a great technique: he dropped a weight on the bottom attached to a thin line on a reel and swam in circles increasing the radius by 5 meters at every full turn. After one hour sitting in the dinghy watching his bubbles getting farther from the center, I saw him pop up and shake his head..and it's my fault because I got confused as to where I lost the anchor. One hundred euros for the diver's exercise session. He tried hard, but no cigar. 

The next morning I moaned and groaned hauling in the 3/4 nylon rode only to find that the stupid anchor was caught on a rock. I let out some line, cleated it, turned the boat around and gunned it in reverse. What a spectacle, when the line went taught the bow dipped low and, when the anchor broke free, the bow shot up like a trapeze artist. 

I was free and proceeded to motor against the wind for 22 miles to Cascais, eyes bulging wide on the lookout for buoys. 
Cascais Marina
Spent two days at the Cascais Marina. At least no anchor was needed
In Cascais I booked into the marina for 2 nights, drank the bottle of wine the marina receptionist gave me and slept feeling like I had watched a B-rated adventure movie.

The next day, I took the train to Lisbon bought 10 m of chain for the Fortress and lugged it back in a rucksack all the way from the train station to the marina. That called for another bottle of wine. When the chips are down, the bottles are up.

I limped back to Peniche where I got a call to deliver a boat from Lagos to Peniche. I immediately said yes. I'd be damned if a summer of my life was going to melt away without me sailing to or from the Algarve.

Sailing is not a sport, it's a masochistic ritual and an addiction; you don't need balls to sail, the thrill of escaping every-day nonsense and immunity to boredom are enough.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lost Rocna and chain plus further agonies

Continued from Part I and Part II

Better finish telling my ill-fated voyage before readers start yawning, especially me. 

Anyway, there I was in the bay of Sesimbra with a fouled propeller letting out my chain with the manual SL 555 windlass. I tightened the clutch when I thought I had plenty of scope; then I decided, "ah what the hell, I've got no engine so a few more meters won't hurt."

I released the clutch, the chain clattered over the gypsy, snaked out of the hawser pipe and disappeared into the water with a sickening splash. Gone! I stood there on the bow looking at the hawser hole and at the ripples in the water not feeling anything in particular. I was numb, dumbstruck...WTF!

Since I had changed the chain end over end this spring, my first nauseating thought was that I forgot to shackle the bitter end. But I did, I was sure I did. My stomach was tightening and my tomatoes were drooping. 
shackle breaking force
This cheap (probably Chinese made) shackle ruined my trip.
Chinese stainless steel
Corroded, rotten stainless crap. 
I lunged for the Fortress FX-11 linked to 3/4 inch nylon rode in the port sail locker, cleated the end and threw it overboard.

Second Mistake

The Fortress FX-11 weighs 3 kilos...tied to a 3/4 nylon line. What a fucking laugh, it probably never even reached the bottom. Typical useless backup nonsense. 

I should have immediately pushed the MOB (man overboard) button to record the site of the sunken Rocna. Jakatar was slowly drifting out to sea and I had all the time in the world to set up the 25 kg anchor secured down below in the dungeon.

Gotta finish writing this before I fall asleep. So I pulled in the Fortress that was happily bouncing on along the seafloor at the end of a huge nylon line, stowed it, dove into the dungeon below, unsecured the ugliest (also probable Chinese) anchor I've ever seen - damn heavy though - and substituted the Fortress with this huge hunk of metal.

Meanwhile, the wind was stiffening and shifting north, blowing almost straight from the bay. Two hours later and on the third attempt, I finally managed to sail in and anchor in an acceptable location not too close to the rocks.

I immediately dove in, cut the lines and removed the jug stuck on the propeller, started the engine, tried the transmission and everything looked good. 

I noticed that I was dragging slowly; so when night fell and the wind died down I decided to move closer to the port, closer to where I had lost the anchor. 

With the engine running, I slowly pulled in the line with the windlass drum, working up a sweat and completely fatigued on this hellish day. When the anchor was dangling out of the water I engaged in forward and began to move...very slowly for some strange reason.

"Fuck! the transmission is shot...what else could go wrong," I was thinking when I heard the same Cacklunk noise and the engine died. Shit, shit, shit, lines in the propeller again. Yup, the anchor had fished up old lines and nets that were just dying to wrap themselves around the propeller and shaft.

I let the anchor down before realizing that the boat wasn't going anywhere and that, in any case, I'd have to free the anchor. Except now, I could hardly lift the anchor above the waterline and, after failed attempts, I lashed a kitchen knife to a broom handle and slowly cut the lines and net.

I was pooped, drank two glasses of wine, ate some cookies and went to bed feeling downright disgusted.

Another urgent translation came in just now, I'm taking the bus to the Algarve on Friday morning to crew for a friend returning to Peniche or maybe bring up a boat on my own. So, you guessed it, hell in Sesimbra will be continued.....there's still a lot more fun to come. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

The ill-fated voyage of Jakatar - Part II

Continued from Part I

I threw the lifesaver overboard and slowly descended the ladder with the cutting knife dangling from my wrist. When my feet were immersed in the cold water, instead of shivering about it - like I usually do - I immediately dropped myself into the big blue ocean.

I dunked the goggles, drained them, slipped them tight over my face and dove.

First Mistake

I cut the the first thing that came to hand - the rope rising from the bottom. What an idiot! I had just set the boat free and now it was moving. I came up for air, held on to the ladder and thought, "If the boat is moving so will I, I'm a good swimmer." I realized the lifesaver would be no help; it was downwind and floating faster than the boat. "I'm a good swimmer," right!

After a few deep breaths I dove again. The three or four turns of rope around the shaft and the plastic buoy impaled on a propeller blade were clearly visible, but I couldn't reach them in time. I dove again, but it was no good and I climbed aboard swearing.

At least I was free now, free to unfurl the genoa and sail in the light breeze toward the bay and port of Sesimbra.

I slowly sailed about 7 miles to Sesimbra feeling fairly calm. I didn't even take the wetsuit off. The plan was to anchor in the bay, finish the rope-cutting job and keep sailing to Sines.

On approaching the bay, the breeze picked up and I began to furl the genoa slowly, occasionally pressing the autopilot's -10 button. The boat skimmed the water close-hauled toward the beach. The depth sounder read 20 meters, 15 meters, 12 meters...then I turned the bow into the wind, hurried forward, released the big Rocna to the sweet sound of chain rattling over the windlass drum.

It was almost too easy. 

I hadn't yet discovered that I really wasn't solo sailing, that Murphy and his law had sneaked aboard in the Cascais anchorage. I was about to fight a long exhausting battle with Murphy in this bay. 

To be continued

Monday, August 11, 2014

The ill-fated voyage of Jakatar - Part I

I spit overboard and watched my saliva bubble bobbing in the waves quickly drifting away from the boat.

Ten minutes earlier, I had been looking at another sailboat through binoculars when I heard a loud rattling noise, felt the boat shudder and heard the engine die. A few feet away to starboard, a blue plastic jug confirmed that I was in deep shit.

I didn't have to look to know that Jakatar's propeller shaft was fouled by a thick pick-up rope for a fishing net. I was now forcibly anchored to the seafloor about 2 miles NW of Cape Espichel.

I had only one option, but I didn't like the speed at which the spit had drifted away, I didn't like how the waves were heaving the boat up and down, I didn't fancy diving in, and I was alone.

Only a few hours earlier - on the second day of my trip - I had crossed the Tagus River mouth without a care in the world. Even a Chinese freighter steaming straight for me failed to rattle my good disposition. I was going to the Algarve on a beautiful sunny day.

Tagus River Ship Traffic
These two were anchored, but the one below, a Chinese freighter was moving my direction.
Shipping Lane in Tagus River

I dug out my wet suit and knife and smiled one last time.
Dangerous diving
The smile doesn't look very authentic, but then it never does. 
If I got swept away by the current, if I got my head smacked by a bouncing 11-ton boat or if I got entangled in the line, this would be a fitting picture to remember me by. If I disappeared, the fishing vessel would come to retrieve the nets and this photograph would look great in the evening news and the next day's papers. 

I'm writing this post so, obviously, I made it back aboard.

If I had known what was coming next, I would have never smiled.

To be continued....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sailing south...soon

The race against time continues, but I'll be sailing south soon - the latest on August 2, me thinks. 

Thursday afternoon I drove out to Peniche with my newly acquired Barlow 28 winch. It's heavy, I tell you.

Changing the bearings on the Rutland 913 wind generator was the priority. No way I'm going to run the engine to charge the batteries. Besides, I'll be leaving the boat anchored in Culatra for a while, and I need power for the anchor light. The LED bulb I'll be using won't draw much power, but the house battery is going on 7 years and not holding its load so good any more.

Rutland 913
Ready for the beheading.
I lowered the post, pulled out the turbine, cut the wires and then called Fernando the electrician. He's too busy, way too busy, so I called Luis the mechanic. Luis loves to fiddle with new gadgets so he told me to bring it on over.

Next, I dismantled the Barlow winch. It was all dried up and gummy but the gears and bearings are in great shape - must have been owned by a non-sailor. I removed the part I needed, stuck it in the other winch and installed it. 
Barlow winches
The winch operation. Nurse, hand me allen key no. 8.
Like solo sailing, solo maintenance also requires a certain ingenuity. How do you hold a nut inside the boat and turn the screwdriver on deck?
Vicegrips for boat maintenance
Vicegrips, a solo sailor's best friend.
On the way home, took the wind generator to Luis' shop and wrote down the URL for a Youtube flick for him to watch. 

Why didn't I do it myself? I already did it once years ago, but it took me all  day and I'm busy.
I crave the day when I'm not always so fuckin busy. It better happen soon.

Your boat slave...better a boat than a car, but that's just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Multicolored Cats, Cheap Barlow 28 Winch and Getting the Ship Ready

I have exactly 15 minutes to write this post. That's how life is now - I'm a dog chained to a time leash!
multicolored cats
Did you know that, except for rare exceptions, only female cats have 3 colors. Here's our new Roni and Pati in the yard.
I'm not going to bore you about the new kittens, other than to say that they have consumed some of my free time (or, should I say, unfree time).

In the last regatta one of my big Barlow 28 genoa sheet winches gave up. All it needed was a sliver of bronze braised on to keep a pawl from slipping out. That would take more of my unfree time, so I had a look on Ebay and - low and behold - I found a used Barlow 28 on auction. Hold your breath. I bought it, delivered to my door yesterday, including customs charges, for a total of 70 euros. I think I deserve a break now and then.

The PLAN. The plan is/was to sail out of Peniche to the Algarve on July 22/23, with the usual three stops at Cascais, Sines and Sagres or Alvor. After getting drunk in Alvor watching the crowd of British women walking up and down the narrow streets, I'll sail to Culatra, drop my big Rocna anchor, hang out for a while and take the bus back home to take care of business.

This plan implies doing a few tasks first: rearranging my winch setup; installing new bearings in the busted wind generator; buying a LED anchor light; scraping the obscenely dirty propeller; and a few other things I can't recall right now.

If that plan falls through, I'll be leaving on August 2. Ana's birthday is on August 3. Ouch! No matter how hard I try, life just keeps getting more complicated. Damn!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Regatta in Peniche

Regatta in Peniche
Jakatar on the upwind leg. Photograph taken my Manuel.
I called Manuel on channel 9. "What's the starting time? Over."
"Jakatar, in fifteen minutes at exactly 10:45, over."

Zé, a ship captain and sailor had an idea: "Why don't we sail exactly seven and a half minutes south, then tack and go full speed toward the starting line."

It sounded like good a plan. We started in last position.

The warm sun tinged the ocean to a deep blue, and the wind was a nice 12-15 knots. I was at the wheel with all three sails up doing 6 knots, even with a dirty bottom, and I didn't answer the phone when it rang and rang in my pocket.

By the time we rounded the first buoy west of Cape Carvoeiro, I had passed two Bavarias, a Beneteau First, and a heavy Swedish boat whose name I can't remember right now.

On the downwind leg, we eased out the 475 square feet  genoa and soon Jakatar was hitting 7.4 kt with the wind abaft the port beam. We passed another Beneteau First, and started closing the gap on the seven boats ahead of us.

I was happy as a lazy dog sunning his hide. This meant I didn't have to scrape the bottom before sailing to the Algarve. Nine or ten dives to clean the propeller should do. I'll scrape the bottom down south in the Culatra anchorage where the water is warm and shallow.

On the upwind leg, the fowled bottom made catching up impossible.

We finished 8 in a fleet of 15. I might have come in the top places with a clean bottom, but that's probably just bragging on my part.

When the gang was finishing lunch back at the club, I realized I hadn't taken a single photograph out on the water. Luckily, my friend Manuel emailed me some high quality pics.
Sailing in Peniche

Dining in Peniche
The post-regatta lunch. Am I going bald or what?
Arriving in Peniche
Funny how the two lasers (one on each side) can really fly. That's when the question comes to mind: do you speed or comfort?
Bavaria 32 in Portugal

Port of Peniche entrance
It's over.

PS. One post without complaining about work! I'm impressed with myself.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Spring that Needed Viagra

Drove to the boat thinking about a new gig writing short articles for a website. Sounds like fun but it's real work and not much boat money. Even if I worked all day pumping out articles, I'd starve. I guess that's why some activities are called gigs instead of work. Here's my first article.

Anyway, having recovered from my Berlin cold and the consequent laziness bug, I got to the boat ready to strike something off my bucket list. Walking down the pontoon in long purposeful strides I noticed that Nigel the unlucky sailor had finally left for England where he plans to sell his Bowman yawl which is already listed on yachtworld.

During Nigel's 18-month stay in Peniche he had the boat hauled out at the shipyard where the yard's highly professional workers ironed out some bugs. These guys build and repair huge and small ships and anything in between, so his boat should be in fine shape. I was saying, at the boat I ran the engine in gear for a while, shut it down and then changed the oil and filter. Hardly spilled any oil this time.
Changing the oil on a boat
Used the bag-over-the-filter trick to remove the filter with only a few spilled drops.
Kubota oil change
My highly complex oil removal kit. Cut the top part of a 5 liter water bottle, tie two garbage bags to it, slip it under the engine and unscrew the drain plug. Obviously you need a certain amount of space under the engine for it to work.
What I like about this oil-change method is that it removes practically all the old oil. I know it because even after running the engine for quite a while it remains nice and clean.

After lunch I attacked a big winch.
Servicing a Barlow 28 winch
No way any parts were going to fall in the water with this big bucket over the winch base.

Barlow 28 winch parts
All the bearings in the order I removed them so I don't forget the sequence. If I screw up, I'll know it when I open the other big Barlow 28.
I had a hard time removing the plate holding the sprockets in place. Lot's of WD-40, a screwdriver and some tapping with a hammer got the job done. 
Each gear has two pawls. The spring on one pawl was in need of some Viagra. I tried fixing it with pliers, without much success. As I fitted it one last time to the pawl, the damn thing went "ping" and disappeared. Ain't that a bitch - it didn't have enough thrust to erect the pawl but it had the balls to fly out of sight, sneaky bastard.

Luckily I have the springs from the failed Barlow 24 that are the same size. Next time I'm going to fit the springs and pawls inside a clear plastic bag. I cleaned the winch parts with old outboard engine gasoline but didn't have time to reassemble it. It won't be long before I'm sailing instead of playing with springs.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lazy Life vs. a Lazy Mind

On returning from Berlin with a nasty cold, I spent a few days at home with my head wired to the computer. Then I got a translation assignment - a three-day job that I somehow stretched to 5 lazy uninspired days.
When I finally visited the boat I accomplished exactly what you see in the two photographs below.
Applied the new trick for removing the winch cap.
Removed the winch cap (on both Barlow 28 winches) and then screwed them on again.
I also ran the engine in gear for 15 minutes. 

I didn't clean the winches because I'd need some diesel in a jug. The gas station is 2 km away, so I'd need to get the jug, walk to the jeep, drive 2 km, pump some diesel into the jug, pay for it, drive back and lug it to the boat. That's a lot of work, at least 30 minutes worth. After taking all these major hassles into consideration, I realized wouldn't have time to clean both winches...better leave it for another day. A fine example of the lazy mindset - taking the path of least resistance always wins.

My mind has been stuck in this mode for 2 weeks. Being lazy and going fishing, going for a long walk or sitting under a tree reading a good book is good. Being lazy and doing nothing sucks. 

Sailing season and house rental season are just around the corner, and I have a million things to do. Gotta snap out of it before it becomes a habit. 

PS Just got two translation jobs for the weekend. Maybe I'm getting lazy because I'm living a dog's life.