The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

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


  1. D'oh... and I thought this post was going to be victorious. I wish I had some useful advice.
    Magnets.... hmm. Still rooting for y'all. Beautiful weather eh!?

    1. Like they say, "it's more fun searching than finding." Well, maybe not in this case. How did you guess "Magnets?" I already ordered one on Ebay. I won't give up until it's no fun anymore...think of it as going fishing.

  2. All you have to do is go into the bay in your boat and anchor again. If your like us you always seem to find old chain when you lay your anchor.
    We have also found that if you can find a dive school nearby they will look for it for you as an exercise.They are usually very helpful.
    I know it is too late now but we paint our anchor roll bar yellow which makes it easier to see underwater. I hope you do find it.

    1. Mark,
      I guess two "young" salts think alike. I did everything you suggested except for the yellow roll bar - I like that.
      I hired a diver for one hour (100 euros), I tried to talk the friendly dive school supervisor into organising a "treasure hunt" as part of a class (I offered 200 euros to the finder), but he didn't go for it. I suspect the problem was the location, "somewhere between up ahead and about half way to the yellow buoy," is a large area in about 10 m of water.
      "Press the MOB button" is engraved in my mind forever!! Along with not using a cheap Chinese shackle to secure the bitter end...and what a bitter it was. haha
      And yes, I just received my magnet in the mail.
      Hope the weather is better in Malta than in Portugal right now.

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