The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Brits in Alvor

2018 marked my 16th round trip to the Algarve. On this trip, I anchored in Cascais and Sines, bypassed Sagres, and arrived at Alvor 3 days later just before dark. The usual routine.

Dock in Peniche
Leaving Peniche on July 24 wearing winter clothing!

Arriving in Alvor at sunset.
I was anchored on a windy day in Alvor when I heard a guy with a British accent yelling "how much chain have you got out?" Curious, I popped my head out the companionway to see what the fuss was all about.

A British-flagged Hallberg Rassy 36 was motoring nearby with 4 crew members all wearing inflatable lifejackets shouting insanely toward the big catamaran. "How much chain do you have?" they repeated.

The German catamaran owner, who's been here for many years and has surely witnessed more anchoring blunders than most, didn't even bother to come out. 

The agitated Brits motored back and forth, at one time nearly running aground in the shallows, to finally anchor in front of the catamaran sailboat where the anchorage turns into the entrance channel. I was anchored in front of a small sailboat to the right of the catamaran motorboat shown below.

I assessed the situation: Brits sailing a Hallberg Rassy and wearing inflatable lifejackets - probably nutty but definitely experienced old salts. Unconcerned, I went down below and started making lunch.

Later, while eating in the salon, I heard the anchor chain rubbing loudly on the bow roller, as it does sometimes, and kept eating until I started hearing strange thumping noises.

Up on deck, I saw the Halberg Rassy broadside to Jakatar's bow, but not touching it, and no salty Brits aboard, so I quickly placed some fenders up high along my hull.

On closer inspection, I saw that my chain ran under the Rassy in front of his skeg, like a travel lift sling. It seemed that my trusty 25 kg Kobra anchor was holding both boats firmly in the strong breeze. 

Now I had a dilemma: a) I could wait for the Brits to return and hope they did so before the wind picked up as it does in the afternoon; or b) I could try to extricate myself and risk having the Rassy pick up my anchor as it passed by, which would cause both of us do drag. 

I chose choice "b". If it fouled my anchor I could always start the engine and drag the other boat around the anchorage until he let go or, as a last resort, use my backup 45 lb CQR anchor. 

So I let out about 10 meters of chain hoping it would sink to the bottom and release the Rassy to drag happily across the anchorage. But not luck.

At a glance this looks like one single boat, but it's actually me and my lunch date.
Instead of being released, it pivoted and lay abreast of Jakatar against the fenders, still hooked by the rudder skeg.

Having let out more chain, I was now nearly on top of a small sailboat moored behind me. What to do, what to do? I swore at the not-so-salty Brits who were obviously ashore feasting on beer, fish and chips and probably still wearing their lifejackets just in case. Swearing didn't help, so I started the engine and, without any other alternative or better idea, I put Jakatar in gear gunned it and dragged the dam Rassy forward with a wicked smile on my face.

When I stopped, the anchor chain went slack, fell to the bottom and the Rassy started moving downwind again. I held my breath until I was certain its anchor had not picked up my chain. 

Whewww, see you later, nice knowing you. Then I heard the German guy on the cat applauding, giving me the thumbs up and saying that he had been hit too. 

The Rassy dragged all the way to the marina and stopped within an arm-length of an expensive  looking motorboat tied up to the outer pontoon. Never saw the Brits retrieve their boat. Too bad because I'd be willing to give them a free anchoring tutorial.

At least it didn't end up like the old tugboat below that belongs to a British sculptor who's been here for about 10 years. Probably skipped town after his boat sunk. Anybody want a free tugboat?

Next stop, Culatra.


  1. What a mess!I.m starting to think that the summer is the wrong time to cruise. Too many boneheads. Jeeezz!
    Are you being "droned"? I had one flying over my head this summer and, I swear, if it had got close enough, I'd whack it into the sea!

    1. That's why I'm planning on going south in May next year, if I can pull it off. Never had drones flying overhead, just seagulls and they're pack one stinky missile!!!

  2. Great blog as always, please don't stop :) The artist officially gave the boat away unseen in a bar so he is no longer the legal owner. As to the sinking I heard a story of displaced sand being the culprit. Artist was given a boat and he now lives on the hard.

    1. When you think about it, the artist's former/half-sunken boat is a charming landmark, why else would it be photographed so often. The "story" about him giving it away unseen in a bar, sinking due to displaced sand and him living on the hard sounds like something straight out of a Joseph Conrad novel...except there are no boats on the hard in Alvor. I met him once a long time ago and he's a very talented artist - not because I met him, but because he is.

  3. Hello, Is everything alright with "Zoot Allures" ? Luis in Toronto.

    1. All is fine...Zoot Allures is drying on the hard. I'll write a post over the holidays.

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