The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bottom Cleaning

In keeping with my new commitment to spend less and live more, I've been contemplating bottom cleaning vs. hauling out and painting.

It costs serious money - not to mention the hassle - to haul out a 39-foot boat. With that in mind, I did a bit of research for ways to extend haulout intervals to 2 or 3 years and still keep the hull reasonably clean. It's a bitch sailing to the Algarve and back with a dirty hull. Fuel consumption increases just as dramatically as the drop in speed.

Diving and scraping is good exercise, but not very practical without scuba diving gear.

Here's my research results:

1 - the Hulltimo Pro robot. Awesome but expensive.

2. The Hulltimo Smart robot for 2,290 euros. Didn't bother reading the warranty. It would have to run trouble-free for a long time before it paid for itself. Another downside is that everybody at the marina would want a free cleaning. Nah.

Hulltimo Smart
Courtesy of Hulltimo.

3 - Scrubbis, for 88 euros (limited special price). Now that sounds appealing to a cheapskate.

Courtesy of Force 4 Chandlery

4 - I could make my own scrubbies, but it would probably take a long time and fall apart as soon as it touched the hull. Something to think about lying in bed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Maximizing Time, Minimizing Expenses

Minimalism and not giving a hoot about a "delusional materialistic life" has never felt so sweet. It's about time I put on the Kerouac hat I discarded some twenty years ago when I made the foolish mistake of switching to a "normal" life.

In keeping with my serious commitment to maximize my time (LIFE) and to minimize expenses (WORK), instead of paying over 800 euros for a new self-tailing winch, I decided to buy two small second-hand Barlow 20 winches on Ebay. 

On my trip from Sagres to Sines, Portugal, my Barlow 24 halyard winch seized. Later, when I dismantled the winch, I found a broken pawl, a failed bearing and, amazingly, a missing part whose name eludes me. Incredible, Barlows are so good they don't even need all the parts to function for 14 years.

Here's my winch setup. The barely visible winch near the bottom right corner is an Arco 43 2-speed.
Barlow 26 winches

And here are the Barlow 20 winches I just bought on Ebay from the US (300 euros including shipping and nasty import duties).
Barlow 20 winches

I'll install this matching pair on the coach roof, mount the bronze Barlow 20 on the mast for the topping lift and use the Arco 43 to replace the failed Barlow 24.

The Arco gives me more muscle for the halyards, I will have a pair of matching winches on the coach roof - instead of the current ridiculous mismatch - plus an extra winch for the topping lift. And I SAVE over 500 euros for my next trip to the Algarve. Minimizing is the way to go.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Retire Early, Stop Worrying and Die Poor

Warning: this is an X-rated post. You must be over 50 to really appreciate it.

I've been feeling a bit disjointed since our cat died. It's as though I'm floating around no longer held in place by gravity. In other words, suddenly I don't give a shit. 

Maybe it wasn't the cat after all. Maybe - just maybe - it was the flaking paint on the mast that triggered it. I got all disconcerted and hyped, grinding my teeth about the stupid mast until I blew my last middle-class fuse. Consequently, I decided to scrape the mast and leave it ugly (sort of). It felt good, really good to solve the mast problem simply by not caring about what others would say and are saying.

Not caring what the neighbors think is serious business - it might take you to beautiful places populated by beautiful "losers." Suddenly you look at the real you in the mirror and wink because now you have a secret.

looking in the mirror
Why did I lash a mirror to a boat hook? To check the propeller, a cool trick. And yes, the prop is covered in barnacles.
Anyway, that led me to thinking about retiring early, not worrying and dying poor. Think about it, why would anyone want to die rich? What's the purpose of that? 

I've heard the argument that when you're "old" you need more money for health emergencies, home nursing, a fancy room in a retirement home, bla, bla, bla." What's the sense of sacrificing the good years to have better dentures when your teeth fall out and a fancy wheelchair when your legs go rubbery, your knees freeze and your pecker doesn't chirp anymore? 

My mind is made up. It's not going to happen overnight, but it's coming and there's no way to stop it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Scared of Heights? Climb a Mast.

Yesterday I was up the mast again, and I was having so much fun I didn't want to come down.

After 3 hours of pure satisfaction, I returned to deck level but only because I was hungry and thirsty.
Top Climber
Learning to love heights, but not mast corrosion.
And the view gets better the higher you go.
Climbing a mast
Did you ever notice how boats look better from an aerial view.
While I was up there taking a break from scraping it occurred to me that the only way to overcome apprehension (or overcome fear) is to simply do whatever makes you apprehensive. 

Can you remember berthing your first boat for the first time, anchoring for the first night, not to mention losing your virginity? (Did I just say that? Can't take it back now.) As you do it more and more, it becomes more enjoyable without any of those annoying sweaty-palm jitters. So, if anything looks intimidating just do it.

Consequently, I'm now feeling affectionate toward the mast I previously hated. I figure I can paint it while it's up. Only the first 20 feet need to look nice and smooth; above that height, I can slop the paint on with a broom. Who's going to know the difference?

If I had a carbon mast like this skipper, I'd have nothing to do.
He told me he also has a TopClimber. The first time he tried it, he struggled to get a couple of meters off the deck and then got stuck unable to go up or down. A crew member had to lower the halyard. That's what happens when the halyard isn't really tight.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More Mast Maintenance

The future is so bright I think I need shades! 
Maybe it's the sunny balmy weather we're having that's making me feel rejuvenated and all gung-ho.

I've reached a personal victory - I no longer agonize about painting Jakatar's mast. I'm like the hipsters living between Queen Street and College Street, Toronto, who let their lawns grow wild. But I don't feel hip, I simply don't care. 

I care about the mast's integrity, about having a safe comfortable boat, about enjoying life...but not about whether the mast looks perfect. I don't look perfect, not by a long shot, so why would I worry about the mast? Better stop before I start a new religion.

Climbing the Mast
Made it to the first spreader...looking like I'm afraid of heights. But, in fact, I'm only afraid of falling. The line tied to a halyard near my right arm is attached to a harness. It slides up and down and would prevent a free fall.
I got as far as standing on the spreaders to scrape as far as I could reach. Three more trips up the mast should do it for this year. I also want to place boots on the upper spreaders and install a deck light to replace the one that fell off years ago. I've had the spreader boots and deck light in a box for years, it's about time I got the tomatos to start going aloft.

My plan is to give the mast a yearly scrape until it's bare aluminum again and then maybe coat it with Nyalic

Corbin 39 deck
The topclimber comes with a nice tool bag that also advertises their kit because everybody loves to gawk at a mast climber. I got giddy from all the admiration from at least 3 or 4 onlookers.
Aerial view of Peniche
I'm only one third up. I can hardly wait for the view from the top.
While scraping away, I looked up and thought, "shit, that's gonna be really high at the top." Then, on second thought, "hahaha, it makes no difference, either way it would be "splat and goodbye."

So, if this blog isn't updated in the future, send flowers.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Corbin 39

"I was looking for a boat that could take me safely and comfortably around the world," wrote Marius Corbin, the founder of Corbin les Bateaux Inc. in 1977. The company built 199 Corbins until 1990 and then closed.
Corbin 39
At the Nazare boat yard

Nazare boat yard

See end of page for a video of the interior.

I bought my unfinished Corbin in Ontario, Canada, while living in Lisbon, Portugal. It's a long complicated story that I'm not about to tell.

Three summers later I found myself motoring through the Erie Barge Canal, with its forty-odd locks, the mast lashed over the deck. Then we entered the Hudson River where we stepped the mast at a do-it-yourself place with a hand-cranked crane. After that, we tied up in New York for two days and pushed off into the Atlantic without even checking the weather forecast. I mean, we hadn't checked the weather forecast ever, not even back home.

What I'm saying is that the Corbin 39 is the perfect boat for foolish sailors. It's built like a tank and can take a lot of punishment. Good thing too, because one week later we were riding 8 meter waves with only a reefed stay sail and moving pretty good.

Today I can't help smirking when I read the equipment list of cruisers about to embark on their first adventurous ocean crossing. In comparison, we had four handheld GPSs (each crew member brought his own), a photocopied chart of the whole Atlantic, a wind generator, an epirb, a liferaft, a VHF radio, a windvane that worked great until the emergency rudder fitting got sloppy, and a radar reflector.

No autopilot, no fridge, no radar, no way of receiving weather information, no roller furling, no self-tailing winches, no dodger, no bimini - it was mostly naked.

About the name "Jakatar"

My brother and I were having breakfast at the local greasy spoon near the marina in Port Dover, Canada, when the talkative waitress asked us, "where you boys from?"
I wasn't quite sure whether she meant town or country, but probably town since neither of us has an accent.

While I was thinking about the answer, my equally talkative brother says, "we're originally from Portugal, sweety."

"Oh my, you're a couple of Jakatars."

"And what's a Jakatar?" I asked.

"I'm from Newfoundland," she went on. "In the old days a lot of Portuguese fishing ships came to Newfoundland to fish for cod. And you know what? They were mostly young and randy and, of course, they'd come ashore and knock up some of the local girls. Everybody would call their children Jakatars. But you know what, it also means a lot of other nasty things I'm not going to tell you boys about," she winked and moved on to the next table with the coffee pot.

I hadn't named my boat yet, and this was a sign. And hell yes, I've seen worse names on boats.

And, lastly, here's a boring video tour of Jakatar's interior. I seriously need to edit it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bare Aluminum Mast

The time has come to strip the flaking paint from the mast - all 51 feet of it - while the mast is up!

That's why I bought a Top Climber. It really works, but I still need a bit of practice before I'm as fast as this guy.

I had already scraped the bottom as far as I could reach. Now I actually got into the Top Climber for about an hour and scraped to the lower spreaders. One third down two thirds to go. I'll try not to forget the camera next time. And what a mess of paint flakes all over the deck.

flaking paint on mast
Stairway to heaven.
I've decided to just leave it ugly. I'll take ugly over the hassle of unstepping it, painting it and stepping it again. That's what I did in 2007, and it was absolutely no fun, a waste of time and expensive. Maybe I'll paint it properly, or have a professional do it, when the time comes to downsize.

For those not familiar with aluminum and paint, if paint starts to bubble and flake and you don't scrape it, the water trapped between the paint and the aluminum will begin to cause corrosion and pitting.

Changing the topic, we now have a beach and a drydock at the marina. This is what happens when storm after storm dump tons of sand into your pool.

marina dredging needed
That's pretty shallow, I'd say.
marina beach

I've also started contributing to Cruising Wiki. I've almost completed the section about Peniche.