The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Art of Anchoring Like an Idiot

Anchoring accidents
The white boat dropped its anchor on top of the red boat's anchor. Two minutes later they were doing an intimate dance to the music of much shouting. The solo sailor on the red boat was surprisingly patient while instructing them how to disengage their anchor from his chain. 
For about an hour I watched this Portuguese-flagged boat crewed by a large French family repeatedly attempt to anchor on top of other boats, including mine - twice! It was good entertainment that ended when they accidentally dropped their anchor in a open area. Nobody was yelling at them there so they stayed in their lonely spot 30 m from the closest boat. You have to wonder what was going through their minds and whether they had ever anchored before or even had any theoretical knowledge about the art of anchoring.
After a 7-hour trip (350 km on two buses), I arrived in Olhão, Algarve, on a hot day. A confused twenty minute walk through narrow streets took me to the port where I hailed a flimsy water taxi with a 100-hp outboard that took off at full speed along the channel violently punching the choppy water toward where I had left Jakatar at anchor. I had to keep my mouth shut to keep my teeth from chattering.

"I'm anchored about 300 meters directly in front of the marina entrance," I told the driver. But there, in my spot, I saw another sailboat. After recovering from a sudden empty gut sensation, I glanced around and saw Jakatar about 200 m farther east.

The fenders I had left hanging from the sissy bars were all all deployed from the lifelines at nearly deck level to fend off other boats. I also saw some black rubber marks on the hull. I asked the taxi guy if it had been windy. "It blew like hell Sunday afternoon," he replied showing little enthusiasm for conversation. I paid him the €25 and some loose change for a tip and then climbed aboard.

Standing in the cockpit I nearly laughed when I saw that the boat anchored about 50 m behind me belonged to the bald guy who had almost screamed his tongue from his mouth while flailing his arms like a lunatic thinking I was going to anchor in front of him. During the next days I saw only a young couple on the boat continuously "smooching" in  the cockpit and in the water. 

Later, I dinghied over to a nearby Dutch boat, and the friendly couple aboard described what had happened. On Sunday, before the wind piped up, a Spanish boat dropped about 15 m of chain (in 8 m of water!!) and the crew immediately went ashore for lunch. When the wind came, the Spanish boat began merrily dragging through the anchorage pulling up anchors in its path. In no time a bunch of boats, including Jakatar, were doing the bump dance.

Cruisers came to the rescue, as always, and a big black police RIB showed up to muscle boats apart. I forgot to ask my neighbors what had become of the Spanish boat dangling on 15 m of chain. 

I spent a few days enjoying calm sunny days in Culatra in my own company, which hasn't disappointed me so far...except for the odd time.
Anchoring in Culatra
The Faro Ria. Mainland on the right, the island on the left (not visible).
Culatra anchorage
Looking at the island side. I'm relatively close to shore because I only had 35 m of chain and thus prudently anchored in shallow water. Happy to report that my chain ordering fiasco got solved and I now have 85 meters of 10 mm chain, 15 meters of 8 mm chain, plus about 200 meters of one-inch nylon rode and 3 anchors: a 25 kg Kobra, a 22 kg plow and and a FX-11 Fortress.
Restaurants in Culatra
My favorite café in Culatra.
Public transport in Culatra
There's no traffic on Culatra, except for tractors to transport merchandise from the ferry.
This trawler is sitting on the sand dunes way above any high tide. How it got here is a mystery. Somebody was living in it at the time.
Water in Culatra
The water salesman in Culatra. Since I didn't need any, I don't know how much it costs. 

Catamarans in Culatra
This is catamaran ranch at low tide. Some boats have been here for over twenty years and most of them are used as holiday homes by "sailors" from a number of countries. Early this year the town council issued a law to restore the lagoon to an nature reserve and gave boat owners 30 days to remove their vessels after notification or face destruction and removal at their expense. Since about half the boats are still there, it seems that notifying boat owners who live abroad is no easy matter.
Don't miss the next episode about my hilarious fishing exploits while sailing from Culatra to Alvor. 


  1. Looks like a really sweet place.... and water salesmen!
    Man, I don't know how you have the stomach to leave Jakatar sooo far away on anchor! I get nervous if I don't visit my babe every few days and that on a mooring!
    Plus all those anchoring idiots... jeeez! I'm considering hauling out for the summer and be a winter cruiser just because of them!!

    1. It's a sweet place alright...but has its limits and can be hot with little shade except when drinking beer at the café or napping in the cockpit under the canopy. Or maybe because all the women are already taken!!!
      Leaving Jakatar on anchor is easy, if it sinks I don't sink with it. The bummer is insurance doesn't cover anchored boats when unattended.
      Maybe I should be more sympathetic with anchoring idiots. I mean, there was a time long ago when I knew zilch about anchoring and lots of other stuff. But I suspect some boaters just plain never learn or don't bother to learn or care or whatever.

  2. nice! i regret not keeping a log of my travels around Georgian bay. . .some experiences nerve rattling, some to shake your head at, but most others great experiences. . .all thanks to 'finally' and my dad who built her!

    1. A free blog is a great way to keep a "public diary" with pictures and all. It's amazing how we (at least I) forget a lot of details. Owning a sailboat can make the difference between feeling alive or couch crazy.
      BTW, is Finally finally almost finished? Say hi to to Karl - it's been 13 years since we did the crossing!!

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