Archive for October, 2010

31 Oct 2010

Real Food

2 Comments Living

Fresh Veg

We easily forget the value of what we eat, we religiously buy the green tomatoes or treat ourselves to the red baubles that are ‘Supermarket’s Finest’ range. How lucky we are to have such a diverse selection of produce created for our ever demanding society, quick food for people on the go….. hah!

Aware that we are drifting off the path nature might have intended people buy carrots with mud on them because they appear more natural (they are actually the same) or spend extra on the new fad ‘organic’ food. Consumerism … shifting patterns … must stop .. blabbing ..

Anyhow, where I am staying there is a lady who sells her veg for 50c. Pomegranates by the kilo for 1 Euro. She is 88 years old, I would love to grow to that age and be that active.

25 Oct 2010

On the Hard

4 Comments Contessa 32

It’s been one week and I have pushed her to the edge and broken everything I could, she has shown me her human weaknesses and made me giggle in delight as she defied the wrath of Poseidon. Now it’s my turn to look after her and set her right for crossing the Atlantic. I have professional riggers, sail makers, electrician, painters and surveyors available to help me make the right choices.

As I am a cheap skate, every penny I spend now means less time on the water, as such I went for the cheaper option of getting the Contessa out of the water. You can either get a cradle to lift you out or a tractor —– NEVER use a tractor!

We ended up grinding the keel on the slipway, they couldn’t give a hoot, I silently wept.

Now it’s action time ..

Dave is heading to the Canaries on the 16th of November in his 26 footer, so this is my deadline to get the boat ready. I have so much to do in so little time, it’s like being at work again except it’s my money and the reward is far greater – strange that.


  1. Tidy up the rigging, replace the forestay, create an inner forestay (furling genoa isn’t going to get me back East across the Atlantic) for hanked on storm jib.
  2. Water proof the boat, 2 leaking windows
  3. Fix the vibration in the prop shaft – replace the bushes
  4. New liferaft bracket.
  5. Overhaul the electrics
  6. Oh .. learn to sail.

I will take photos as I do the jobs, hopefully it will help others with similar boats.

I am doing this all on a tight budget! My aim to to make those big spender choke on their GnT’s.

Unknown Territory

24 Oct 2010

36 Hours – knock yourself out!

4 Comments Sailing

We had left Sesimbra around 16:00 on the 22nd and planned on doing a non stop to Lagos, we were motor sailing and as I had to get used to sailing on my own Dave announced he was going to sleep, wake him up in the morning …..

Other than the lobster pots all was plain sailing, the moon was out but covered by clouds. Around 21:00 the wind picked up, then engine was turned off and with just the 150% genoa we were making 5 / 6 knots downwind in a 1 meter swell.

Dave shouted out that he was not comfortable, the swell hitting us from the aft starboard side making the boat roll, so I set the swell directly behind us reefed in the genoa and went to sleep for an hour.

I would like to say it was that easy but I was worried and up and down like a yoyo, there were dolphins  outside who kept me amused for a good hour, their chirping was comforting to hear when in the cabin however the sound of a sail flapping due to a wind shift or the lack of wind  kept me in the cockpit every almost every hour.

I was woken up to the boat rolling with no wind, so started the motor to at least make the ride a bit more comfortable and had breakfast with the dolphins, Dave woke around 10:00 as the wind picked up.

As most of the crossing to the West across the Atlantic is downwind we rigged the sails up for just such a scenario.

I should point out that so far neither of us had used the tiller, the ST 1000 autopilot had handled everything including downwind sailing in 3 meter swell in 15 knots. Never sailed with an autopilot before, will never sail without one from hence forth, why hold the tiller when you can hold a book?

We even tested the autopilot beating into the wind and swell, again it did so with no problem in 25knots and full sail! The furling genoa broke so we couldn’t reef it 🙁

We had Dolphins with us for pretty much the whole journey, lying on the bow I could touch them as they rode the bow wave.

Got to Lagos around 21:00 we were doing a solid 6.5 / 7 knots maxing at 7.4!! We even hove to with full sails out when the liferaft broke free of it’s mounting bracket. … now that was an experience!! Weather helm was next to nothing, this boat is a machine!! No wonder a Contessa 32 was the only yacht to finish in the fastnet of 79.

22 Oct 2010

Released – Why thank you Sir!

No Comments Sailing

Well, not sure where to start….

We managed to reverse and crash into our berth last night, hadn’t thought to consider how we were going to slow down our reverse momentum 🙁 After the boat was frisked, we were told to pick up the boat papers and passport the following day from the Captain’s office but first we had to go to the Marine police – oh and the captain goes for a three hour lunch at 13:00 so be quick they said.

We sat down with the fishermen and calmed our nerves frayed by paperwork and bullshit, finished the night off with a bottle of red and a curry.

The Engineer my old man had found was here at 09:30 and fixed the problem in 30 minutes. The cable was lose and not engaging the clutch correctly …. so simple, we had tried forcing the gearbox lever across but hadn’t thought to remove the cable which was restricting it’s movement.

We then went and bought new fire extinguishers and brought them to the Marine Police, the RYA had faxed across proof of my sailing competence (was impossible to make out my face in the fax). The police just shoved the piece of paper into a drawer, no doubt to be lost and forgotten. Police man called their Chief, who arrived 30 minutes later with an Engineer, they wanted to see the boat and proof that she was fixed.

Having proved she was fixed we went to his office. He was very kind and allowed us to park in his spot and treated us with the utmost respect. Bit of friendly banter ensured that the sum he plucked from the sky for his time would be lower than that of a scowling resentful Brit.

Having paid the 20 euro charge and shaken hands we took a photo, he surprised me by asking for a copy of the photo and provided me with his email address. You see they need to justify their jobs and to have a photo of a sailor who is grateful for a wasted 24 hours jumping from office to office and spending 100 euros on crap allows them to indulge in their self importance. No diggity he will show his wife and friends with pride that sailors are thankful for his efforts and deserves to remain chief .. no doubt it will end up in the office we were waiting in.

Will I send him the picture ….. ha … of course I will, what can I say I am vain.

Was a great learning curve, albeit a time wasting and expensive one.

I blame the EU!

Next stop non stop to Lagos, 20knt winds are expected.

21 Oct 2010

Yarrrgh – we be boarded … by the police!?

7 Comments Sailing

As I had my head in the engine compartment Tom Cruise and his bureausexual partner in crime turn up on a black sphincter shaped rib of bureaucratic passion.

You see Mr Jones and friend had been speeding along the coast, to the tune of Danger Zone enjoying the tussle of the wind in their hair when we stumbled into their path. Taking on the role of the Marine Police and looking suitable convincing with their Ray-Ban glasses and hip mounted firearms we took on the role of drug traffickers and Dave having no ID whatsoever and a darker shade of black assumed the pat down position.

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20 Oct 2010

Departing Lisbon

No Comments Sailing

Good news she floats ….

Dave has not slept on land for a good 9 months, having a double bed in a Hotel on terra firma was unsettling and he was glad to be back on the yawing deck of a rolling yacht.

Over breakfast at the hotel I had my first lesson, knock as many of the complementary items (anything not encased in glass) into your bag. These store well and keep for years … oh and they are free.. loving this life more and more….

Spent all day cleaning the boat and headed up North to a little bay called Cascais, no wind so we motored. Once there fate played its hand again. First day out on the Contessa 32 and we anchor up next to a Contessa 26 with a young French couple who are doing the same as me. They had already sailed from the UK and were waiting for favourable winds to undertake the next step to the Canaries.

They came on board and David coaxed by offerings of red vino imparted all the usual advice only a sailor could appreciate.

Contessa’s are the sex! – the Contessa 26

Tall Ships leaving Lisbon.

Tall Ships in Lisbon

Dave, the dude, knows all about living aboard and solo sailing.

19 Oct 2010

First Stop – Lisbon

No Comments Uncategorized

I was anxiously awaiting the opening of the boarding gate for the Easyjet flight to Faro, my bag was well in excess of the enforced 15kg max. As it turns out the lady who didn’t even look up when checking my passport barely blinked when my bag came in over twice the limit. Despite the elation of not having to pay or even split the contents into separate bags I was silently resentful that my feat of carrying an Indian carry all with no handles went unrecognised.

I settled into the middle of three seats, clearly a move the couple would come to regret as my well travelled unwashed self penetrated the barriers formed by their imposing Eau de Toilette. I surely hope they came to regret leaving that seat free and hope it was because they had a lovers quarrel and and not because they were selfish gits looking for more leg room.

Upon arriving in Faro I was met by my Father and the legend that is Dave who would be helping me sail the Contessa from Lisbon back past Faro to Portamao.

The drive up to Lisbon (80kph) took as long as my commute across London and as long as the flight to Portugal (650kph), the journey back would take five days at a leisurely (5kph).

10 Oct 2010

Introductions Please -Marelanja

2 Comments Uncategorized

Been quite a week, flew to Rome to view a 26′ Contessa. Like all boats it was not as described in the shiny brochure but there was no denying her build quality and upkeep.

I was going to buy it on Wednesday, everything was set, paper work was filled out … then out of the blue a phone call from a broker describing a Contessa 32 for sale in Lisbon, owner was desperate to sell. Fate intervened, surveyor was dispatched post haste to Lisbon to see if it was as good as described, everything came back positive price was too good to resist so the sale ensued.

So in the space of 24 hours I had unexpectantly aquired a boat over twice the size, the fact that it was in Lisbon would allow for cheap visits and a much simpler sail to Alvor where I had already planned to fit her out for the Atlantic….