The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

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....


  1. To be're killing us!
    Picking up/fouling the prop is one of my greatest fears.... especially at night or somewhere real deep in the middle of nowhere, in high seas.... nice pic!

    1. To be continued because it's a long story...more trouble in one day than in all my sailing days for over 20 years.
      Murphy's law finally caught up with me.