Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Problem Avoided

As I checked the bow of Reboot today I discovered that the cotter pin that holds the clevis pin that holds the forestay had rusted out.  Fortunately I had another cotter pin and got the rig back together. I am so glad that I discoverd it before the rig came down in the middle of the ocean. Of course I then checked all the other stays and shrouds.


Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Night Life in Rota, Spain

The past couple of evenings I have gone out in Rota. I found an Irish pub (I am still playing with the idea that I should be in Ireland) called O'Grady's (of course.) It is a short distance from the marina and also the library where I use the Internet for free. I should have caught on when I discovered that they don't open until 7PM.  In Rota (like Cadiz) nothing happens before midnight. The clubs close at sunrise. It is quite a shift of experience.

As I have previously mentioned there is a large Navy presence here and O'Grady's has a large military presence. Patrick, the bartender is Irish but married to a Spanish lady. It is fun to watch the Spanish speakers come in and order in Spanglish only to discover he is fluent in Spanish.

There are a group of contractors from Phoenix International. The company specializes in deep sea recovery. They are here in Rota to use their ROV's (remotely piloted vehicles) to recover something (unspecified at least to me) for the Navy. They have traveled all over the world picking up stuff from the sea bottom (down to 20,000 feet. They have some great stories.

On Saturday night I noticed groups of people in their 20's all carrying plastic bags. When I finally left O'Grady's and walked back to the boat I discovered why. The entire marina eating complex (not to be confused with the dock area) was packed with people. You can guess what was in the plastic bags. Now, as Patrick was so unkind to remind me last night it was O'Dawn Thirty in the morning. The line to get into the discotheque was at least 200 people. I guess people must sleep first in the afternoon, then during what we will call the dinner hour and evening, and then go out from midnight to dawn. Must be tough getting up for work.

Patrick in his Hurling Shirt
Sunday I went over to O'Grady's to watch Irish Hurling. No, this is not people in the street in front of the bar. It is an apparently uniquely Irish amateur sport. It has elements of football (you can score by putting the ball over the goal posts); soccer (you can get three points for putting the ball past the goal tender into the net); lacrosse (you throw and carry the ball with a stick similar to a lacrosse stick but it has a solid end rather than a net and, you get to beat the opponents with your sticks!) You can click here for more information. Since my two favorite US sports are lacrosse and hockey it was a lot of fun to watch.

Fair winds and following seas.

Happiness is ...

XO at work
Finding the laundry right out of the dryer...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Naval Base Rota

I walked over to the US/Spanish Naval Base at Rota yesterday. Apparently the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Spanish prevent US military retirees from using either the exchange or the commissary on the base. One can use the mini-mart which is like a small "C" store in the US. So the major reason I came to Rota was a failure. Nice.

I decided to actually go out late in the evening last night since nothing much happens until sundown. Sundown is around 10 pm. I wandered over by the tourist office to find an outdoor concert setting up. Then I wandered down a side street and found an Irish pub. Since I was supposed to go to Ireland I decided to stop in.

While having a burger and a beer I met three Navy nurses from Rota and they adopted me for the evening. They were celebrating the end of tour for one of their number, she was headed to Charleston. The other two have about two months to go.  Navy nurses are RN's which means that they are all officers. They explained that just about all of the men in Rota are enlisted or MD's, and the MD's are all married. So their social life was kind of a bust for their two year tour. We had a lot of fun just chatting, and then at about 2 AM we walked over to a discotheque by the marina. Rota is a small town and everything is small.including the clubs. We stopped in three places and by the third I recognized almost everyone - about 90% US Navy.

I bid the gals good night (the clubs are opposite the marina entrance and headed for bed.

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, July 27, 2012

In Rota, Spain

I crossed Bahia Cadiz this morning and am now in Rota, Spain. I published a number of posts that have gotten lost, once I get free Internet I will post them again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I guess some Spaniards have not forgiven the British

N.R.P "Sagres"

I took some time today to walk down to Cadiz and actually found a free internet spot. After sending off a number of messages I walked down to the Tall Ships festival. I got on a couple of them, in particular the N.R.P. "Sagres", the Portuguese Navy training ship. I discovered that the Sagres was built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg and named Albert Leo Schlageter. She was one of four ships planned of which three were built. The other two were the Horst Wessel and the Gorch Fock. Coasties may recognize the name Horst Vessel. It is the former name of the U.S. Coast Guard training ship Eagle!  A delightful surprise.
I boarded a couple of other ships. Of course with the crowds all you get to do is walk the main deck. Even so it was fun. The most amazing thing is that although they have modern equipment - engines, navigation equipment, and so forth there is not a winch to be found. All the sails are raised, lowered, and trimmed using man (and woman) power. One cadet showed me the blisters on his hands.
Wandering around a bit further I met the Captain of the Amerigo Vespucci. He was with a Spanish Admiral who is the military attache at the Italian embassy in Spain. Being polite I only chatted with them for a minute or two and then took my leave but not before finding out that the Vespucci was headed for the Olympic Games in London.  I decided to see the Vespucci but when I arrived I found a very long line waiting to board.  In fact the tourists had turned out in force and every ship now had a 1 hour or so wait. I decided that standing in the sun was not worth it so I headed back to the marina.
Fair winds and following seas

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In Cadiz, Spain

Arrived just in time for the Tall Ships race. That means finding a berth is proving difficult. In Cadiz today, may have to relocate tomorrow. If so I will go to Rota.

Details of my passage from Cascais, Portugal when I am not on a pay by the minute Internet terminal.

Cascais, Portugal to Cadiz, Spain

Departed Cascais, Portugal on Sunday, July 22 for a two day trip to Cadiz, Spain. From Cassias the trip south to Cabo de Sao Vicente (the sacred promontory) reminded me of everything I dislike about traveling the coasts of New Jersey and Florida. Strong winds, primarily from the North to Northwest which was fine. Very short choppy waves, confused most of the time, that made the ride a pain.  Add almost getting run down near Sines and I was having an attack of the blue meanies.  Turning the corner about 10 miles offshore I could not see the famous lighthouses but as I started heading east everything calmed down. In fact it calmed down to the point where I was bobbing along at 2.5 knots in 1 to 2 foot seas.  About 30 NM from Cadiz I realized that if I did not motor I would be coming in during the middle of the night so I cranked up the iron genny and away I went.  About 10 miles out I was casually scanning the horizon and saw my first fish net.  This was about 8 miles sooner than I had expected. Of course it was right in front of me. It took a bit of driving around before I was comfortable that I was able to recognize both ends of the nets. I am guessing that I had to avoid about 25 of them on the way in. I arrived at Cadiz (Marina Puerto America) without incident only to be told that I could only stay one night as the Tall Ships Race was coming to town. I did discover that in adding wraps to the furler I went too far and could not unfurl the last little bit of the jib.
Once again Reboot and XO are the furthest East they have been.
Dates: 22 July 2012 - 24 July 2012; 2+ days
Voyage Length: 254 NM
Average speed: 4.8 Knots
Hours motoring: 3 (1/2 hour out of Cascais, 2 1/2 hours into Cadiz)
n/a (amazing, but it was a short trip.)
I utilized the VHF to get coastal weather information. The Spanish use the DSC calling feature to alert you when they are doing a broadcast. The first time it happened I though someone was in trouble as that was the only time it had alerted before. But they do routine "all ships" calls. It sounds like the telephone is ringing. It took a minute or two to figure out what it was, so I missed the first broadcast.
When I purchased Reboot it had a 155 Genoa. When I talked to various sail makers about getting a new jib after the 155 tore in the Neuse River they all suggested a smaller jib, either a 115 or a 135. I was very hesitant to go smaller but I took the advice and went with a 135. I now realize that I sail at least 50% of the time with no main and the jib furled to 50% or 60%. If I had someone else on board I would more likely be using a single or double reefed main, but it is much easier to furl the jib when the winds build then to wrestle with putting a reef in the main. Also, the Monitor wind steering vane likes the jib when heading down wind.

Cadiz, Spain

Expecting to only have one night at Marina Puerto America (30 euros) I got up early to head into town. On the way to get some breakfast I stopped in the office and was told I could stay for another day. This was a relief but I was still motivated to get into Cadiz and Roger's great cathedral tour.
(An aside: Cadiz Bay is the site of one of the most, if not the most famous sea battles - the battle of Trafalgar. England won at the cost of Lord Nelson who was killed. But that is a story for October.)
Cadiz is a very old town, founded by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago, settled by the Romans and Moors, attacked by Carthage and Hannibal, destroyed by the Visigoths, settled later by the Portuguese and in 1902 was the site of the signing of the first Spanish constitution. It is much smaller than I expected with a population of about 125,000 and a size of 12 square kilometers. Given that it is an island one would expect that it had not been overrun as much as it has been, each new conqueror just made the walls higher.
I headed downtown - the marina is on the wrong end of the commercial port so it is about a 1 km walk to the town. I carried my camera and computer with me as I was informed that there were several free WiFi sites downtown. Short story I never found one that worked.  The city has a very strong Moorish influence, the streets are very narrow. Everything is shuttered - the kind of thing you only see in bad neighborhoods in the US but is commonplace in Europe. As I was walking down one narrow street it struck me that back in the days of horses and chamber pots (emptied into the street) that this must have been some ripe city. I explored the cathedral, the public market (food) and wandered around unsuccessfully looking for WiFi.
After a bit I decided to head to the Real Club Nautico de Cadiz, located next to the marina and reputed to have WiFi. They did but it was not working. They do have a very nice restaurant that is open to the public so I relaxed and had a bit of lunch.  Realizing it was still early in the day I unburdened myself of all the hardware and headed back into Cadiz to explore some more. Of course that was when I found a public Internet site that is reputed to have WiFi. I rented a terminal for 30 minutes (1 euro) and did my major notifications to my family that I am here safe.
Heading back to Reboot I once again passed the commercial port that was quickly filling up with tall ships from the race. The signs all said that it would be open tomorrow (which is actually today as I write this.)  Before I could go to work on the furler I was offered a beer. Then another beer. Then to come over to their boat. Then we had some wine. Snacked on Ham carved from a haunch. XO came to visit them. More beer, more wine. Great conversation.
They are two Spanish sisters and their husbands (partners?) The one sister works at the Spanish consulate in Tangiers, the other couple live in Milan, Italy. The husband (T.K.) from Milan does ERP implantation consulting at the moment for Shell Oil. We had fun talking shop. They had rented the boat for a week of holiday.
We talked a bit about the economy of Europe and in particular Spain, Portugal and Italy. They indicated that it is really bad with very high unemployment. Greece is apparently a huge mess. They all agreed that one of the biggest problems is political corruption.
As the sun was setting (and so was I) I was told that this had just been the warm up and we needed to go down town for dinner. I was invited to come along, but XO had to go to bed. After all he is only 3.  We hopped into two taxies and headed for the old and non-tourist part of town. We had a great dinner al fresco. I didn't order anything - we had about 4 different courses of local fish and some wonderful sweets for desert. I tried to contribute but was told that the evening was on them. What a treat. We then went in search of music and a nightcap (like I really needed a nightcap - we had continued to drink through dinner) and ended up back at the port. We discovered that the Talk Ships festival had opened.  In we went. The ships were all docked but none were entertaining visitors. At the Italian ship Amerigo Vespucci there was a line of young men on the rail and a gaggle of young women on the shore. There was one "old salt" on the ship - perhaps 50 years old. I yelled up "I have seen this before." He said, "yes, that is why I am up here, it is safe." We had a good laugh. There was a concert going on at the far end of the pier - it broke up just as we arrived.  What to do? My hosts said "more beer of course." We wandered around a bit more and then took a cab home.
This morning, well, what can I say...
I have been granted another day in the marina, tomorrow I relocated to Rota at the North end of the bay. I expect to stop in the Navy base and then plan my trip to Gibraltar.
Off to find a WiFi connection so I can send this and wander the tall ships festival.
Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MSC Maria Saveria MAJOR FAIL

I take a certain amount of comfort in the fact that I have a transmit/receive AIS transponder. Not only can I see the other ships but they can also see me. Coastal Europe has far more ship traffic that I experienced traveling the coast of the North and Central America. As a general rule this is not a problem as the ships alter their course and go around me. I have stopped calling each individual ship as they all tell me "don't worry about it, we have you covered." Even so the AIS has a proximity alarm and if anyone gets within 2 miles of me the alarm goes off. This can be really annoying but, as you will see, a very good thing. I was just south of Sines, (N 37 09.254 W 009 17.871) early in the morning but daylight, 25 knot winds, 6 foot seas. The alarm goes off and I see MSC Maria Saveria heading at me. The closest point of approach (CPA) is 100 feet. I don't worry, everyone else would start turning and the CPA would open up. As they taught me many years ago you don't want CBDR (constant bearing decreasing range.) Well, for the next 5 minutes I am getting CBDR. So I get on the radio and call them. After 3 or 4 fruitless minutes trying to get them to talk to me I realize that they are really close. I jump up from the radio to the cockpit and there they are, A quick tack and I stall Reboot and then start heading the other way. They go steaming blissfully by. I doubt the bridge watch ever realized he almost ran me down.
I will be sending a complaint to the owners, once I figure out their email. Feel free to send them one too, telling them their ship almost killed your friend.
Fair winds and following seas.

Gypsysails Does a Reboot

From my friends Maury and Ginger on Gypsysails:
"What a joke ...
We finally made it out of Hawk Channel ... with the help of a 6 hour sea tow.
Hit a really nasty thunderstorm this AM. Last reading we had was 54 knots of wind .. that was before the TWO flash-booms that blew out our autopilot and the aerometer (the wind speed/direction gizmo), the new isinglass front covers, and caused use to loose our directions in the blinding ( 50 foot visibility) which is when we obviously ran over the lobster pots which fouled the prop but we didn't know it at the time. The dingy then filled with water ( sound familiar???) and started jerking the davits out so we cut her loose. Then another storm hit and started driving us onto a lee reef ... anchor plowed into the grass but would not hold. Pulled it back up and got it cleared and holding ... not an easy task in 30 knot winds as you know. Anchor was holding but I had no propulsion ... engine ran ... transmission good ... shaft connected. Called sea tow. They said that they would be right there within an hour. The phone rang and it was the coast guard ... they had found my dingy on the beach totally torn to pieces.... as though it wasn't bad enough to start with ... they recommended throwing it in the dumpster and even volunteered to do it for me. I readily agreed. USCG stuck with us until tow boat got there. A six hour tow to Miami and as we were being tied to the dock the captain says "wow ... you've got a lot of line wrapped around your prop!" ( NO SH^%)
So tomorrow I check the prop ... can't do it tonight ... another thunderstorm beating on us. The next question ... with just Ginger and I and no autopilot and wind speed/direction do we go up the intercoastal with its 97 bridges ... or do we do the outside with only a few places to pull in???? People are calling us to tell us that a tropical low is developing over south Florida but we can't find that info on the Internet.
Of course this is no where near as complex as crossing the Atlantic.
But then we do not have XO to console us and give us advice."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Toll of Emotional Uncertainty

It is early morning here in Cascais, Portugal and I am planning on leaving today in the general direction of Cadiz. I have those last minute things to do, top off the water tanks, purchase fuel, check with the officials, and then I will be ready to go. Hopefully I will be able to leave in the calm and then get the benefit of the afternoon winds to carry me down to Cabo de Sao Vicente (the end of the world.) Cabo de Sao Vicente is the southwest corner of Portugal. At that point the Portuguese explorers waved goodbye to Portugal on their way to the new worlds.
As I have been planning my next steps, in specific how far into the Med I want to go, and wintering over. I have even considered leaving Reboot for the winter and flying back to the United States. That would be quite an economic hit for me.
I realized this morning that what is driving my thinking is emotional uncertainty, another unexpected consequence of the cruising life.  Even in Canada,Mexico, Belize and Guatemala I was quite secure in knowledge of where I was going. While in the United States I had excellent weather reports, extensive support from web sites and fellow cruisers about marinas, routes, etc., and the familiarly of knowing the stores, language and laws. The cruising guides can be a bit off putting (they make the transit from Florida to the Bahamas across the Gulf Stream sound as difficult as a moon shot) but in general the big question is which 5 star restaurant should the power cruisers chose for dinner in the next port. You learn to take it with a grain of salt. Here the cruising guides share similar concerns - winds, storms, fishing nets, expensive and full marinas, etc. The problem is that after noting such concerns I have no way to gauge their significance. Am I going to get hit by 30 knots at anchor every afternoon? Is it really difficult to find visitor's space in a marina (I have never been turned away in the US.) (The RCC cruising guides published by Imray are excellent by all accounts. There is much more focus on places to anchor than in the US guides.)
All of this leads to the desire to stay put. I have only been in Caicais Marina for 10 days and I was already looking at the monthly rate. and the low season costs (that are about 50% of the high season costs.) This morning I realized these thoughts are just a security blanket to avoid having to put myself into a new situation in a new port. I also realized that this is a much stronger negative emotion than the concerns about actually sailing. Perhaps I have done enough miles to be secure with Reboot and fatalistic enough to know that "stuff happens." One just hopes it doesn't happen to them!
So with that said, if the winds cooperate so I can leave I will be on my way later today.
Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jiffy Furl Battens

As I pointed out yesterday my new batten for my jiffy furl arrived and cost me 90 Euro. Today I unpacked it (actually unwound it) and discovered that I had purchased two battens instead of one. Since they are 20 feet long having the second batten on board was a bit of an issue. Solution, replace the missing batten, remove the batten on the other side that I had so carefully put together yesterday, disassemble it into its short sections, replace with the second new batten.

Ah, the cruising life!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marina Internet - Major Fail

I have noticed in my travels that marinas, no matter how upscale, can't get Internet right. Here at the Marina Cascais there is a very powerful Internet network. It is secure and available only to the marina staff. On the other hand there is a totally useless "free" internet that does not work on any of the docks and is broken about 50% of the time.

As I walked around the restaurant block at the marina tonight I figured it out. The restaurant owners pay the marina to keep their Internet crappy. Virtually every restaurant with Internet was populated with at least 75% of the patrons on the Internet.

So that's my story and I am sticking with it!

SkippeR restaurant, Cascais Marina, Portugal

My first stop after checking in at the Cascais Marina office was the SkippeR restaurant. This turned out to be a real blessing. I was adopted by the staff. They feed me, not only from the menu but made some typical Portuguese dishes for me to try. The ladies in the kitchen also fed me after closing as I kept coming in very late at night. The staff also provided great advice on places to visit. I would never have gone to Sintra if it had not been for Nuno. Another benefit was that they had a good internet connection and were open late in the evening. This let me Skype back to the United States at a time when my friends were awake and not at work. We even had a visit from XO (who had to stay outside but was delighted to be off the boat and able to roll in the dirt in the flower bed. Then of course he had to clean himself for the next three hours.

If you come to Cascais be sure to visit and tell them I sent you. Also, you can like them ("SkippeR Bar and Restaurant") on Facebook.

Lourenco, Nuno, Pedro (Owner), Mega
To be fed well make friends with the cook!

Lisbon - Tram 28 and the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Today I went to Lisbon. It was a typical Roger trip. First, I stopped at the tourist office in Cascais and purchased a Lisbola Card for 18,50 euros. That paid for the train ride to Lisbon (4,60 round trip) admission to the museum (6 euro) and unlimited use of the Metro, Trams, and buses (a good thing as it turned out.) I went to the "must see" Mosterio dos Jeronimos first. I took the train from Cascais to Lisbon. Then I got on the Metro and discovered it didn't go where I wanted. In fact, where I wanted was a train station on the train I had taken to Lisbon. So I got back on the train, only to find out that the reason that I had not figured it out in the first place was that there were express (rapido) and local trains. Of course it was a local stop and I was on the express train. So after sorting that all out I finally got to the Mosterio dos Jeronimous. I kind of jumped the very long line and showed my Lisbola card. It got me in about 30 minutes before I would have had I stood in the queue. I felt badly - briefly.

The Cathedral at Mosteiro dos Jeronimous
The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos was a disappointment. For a "must see" - only a small section was open to the public. A large part of the rest of the structure was taken over by other museums - all that had admission charges (that would have been covered by my Lisbola card.) Overall it just put me in a bad mood. The actually cathedral is beautiful (and free - only the museum charges. And inside if you want to go into the Chapter House that is extra. Not my kind of place.)

I left the Mosterio and headed back to the train. Taking the train back to Cais de Sodre was easy (after a 19 minute wait, yes, I missed the train by one minute.) With my new found Metro experience it was not problem to find Martim Moniz, the start of the Tram 28 line. Of course finding the right place to stand to get on the tram - well that took a while. It included chasing a Tram 28 that was headed for the yards.

Tram 28
The attraction of Tram 28 is that it heads through the Baixa & Rossio sections of Lisbon. This is the old section with very narrow and steep streets (I am not sure if there are any streets in Lisbon that are not steep.) It is intended as a hop on hop off tram that lets you stop at various tourist stops. This means that the tram can be very crowded or fairly comfortable. Since I had to get back to Cascais to pick up parts for Reboot so I could leave this weekend I decided to ride to the end of the line and back again. It was fun, in many places clearance to the buildings was less than a foot. People stood in doorways to let the tram pass. In places the streets are so narrow the the tram tracks overlap. What I didn't expect was the roughness of the ride. By the time we got back to Martim Moniz my back was really hurting from being bounced around.

I got back on the Metro. This time it was jam packed so I used my New York subway training to get myself on board. As the door closed I found myself looking at the most incredible set of laughing blue eyes set in a gorgeous face. The young lady, and yes she was very young and very pretty, was laughing at my skill in getting on board. I said "New York", she said "California." I guess the Beach Boys were right.

I got back to Caicais in time to pick up the parts. A new dipstick for the transmission: 60 euro. Yup, 60 euro for a dipstick. Reminds me of purchasing parts for my BMW 2002 back in the day. Batten for my main sail jiffy reefer: 90 euro. You may remember it only comes in 6 meter lengths. The joys of cruising.

I am trying to decide if I can afford another couple of nights in the marina (at 55 euro a night) so I can make one more visit to Sintra and one more visit to Lisbon. The weather forecast is about the same either way, 20 to 25 knots along the Atlantic coast turning to nothing as I turn the corner. Stay tuned and you will find out what I decide.

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Working - Lisbon (again) - strong winds

I spent all of last night (and I mean until the sun rose) playing Sid Meyer's Civilization V. At that point I decided I should go to bed only to discover that I was still not tired. I had napped in the afternoon. So I got up on the foredeck and added 5 wraps to the jib furling drum. I had noticed when I came in that the last time I had furled it I had used up all the wraps and only got one wrap of the sheets around the drum. The jib is new and I guess that between crossing the Atlantic (which loosened it up) and furling it in a 30 knot wind it got wrapped up pretty tightly.

Encouraged by the highly unlikely burst of ambition I decided to unpack and inflate my new dinghy. It has been strapped to the foredeck in its original packing. Since it had never been inflated it was quite compact. I decided to take advantage of this for the crossing. After pumping up one cell I discovered that I was pumping so quickly that I  was only getting about 1/2 of the air per pump. When I slowed down I got the other two cells inflated in about 60% of the time and with far less effort. I had to revise the tie downs but that was a small price to bad for a true RIB (rigid inflatable dinghy) rather than one with a sectional wood floor.

Encouraged by this ambition I decided to fix the battens in the jiffy reefer for the main sail. They come in four sections and the sections had come apart. After struggling for a bit I did get the starboard sections out of the canvas. It seems that the sleeves that hold the sections together had been taped. When I assembled the sections I did not tape the entire thing together. Then I moved to the port side to discover that I had contributed two of the sections to the Atlantic Ocean. I went to the local sail loft. They told me for 90 euro they would sell me one 6 meter long section and it would be delivered Friday.

I then took the train to Lisbon to the nautical bookstore. For the back story click here. They were open. I saved 40 euro even paying the train fare over purchasing the same books in Cascais. On the way back the train was filled with young people heading for the beach. There are several beautiful sand beaches in Estoril and Cascais that are right at the train stations. This is a popular way to get to the beach,

SkippeR (the restaurant) is closed on Wednesday as all the other restaurants close on Monday. I found out yesterday that it is a small family owned restaurant that has only been in business for about three months. I had an excellent pasta in cream sauce in one of the other marina establishments. It is truely summer in Portugal, it was about 90F inside Reboot.

My lack of sleep caught up with me so I went back to Reboot and took a nap (with XO.) When I woke at about 8 PM the wind had settled in with a vengeance - it was blowing 30 knots (again) in the marina. I walked into downtown Cascais and had dinner at John Bull, a nice if a little expensive restaurant.

Tomorrow my plan is to either go back to Sintra or back to Lisbon and explore.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cruiser Night

There is quite a bit of turnover in Cascais Marina. Last night the slip next to mine was occupied by a Swedish boat. When I got back from dinner they invited me over for a drink. It turned out that it was the Swedish owner, his son (who lives in England) and the son's father in law who is English. Got all that? We had a couple of drinks and lots of good conversation. We were having such a good time that we didn't realize how late it was until the sun started to rise in the cockpit.

I thought I was too old for this.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Do nothing

Every once in a while I believe you have to do nothing. Today was my day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lisbon (sort of), Sintra

Yesterday I took the train to Lisbon to a distributor of the RCC cruising guides as I have no guides for Portugal and Spain. I arrived at the train station and looked for the store. First I headed one way, after about a 1 mile walk I asked for directions and was told it was back the other way. I walked back to the station and continued about 1 mile past it in the other direction. I again asked for directions and was told it was back the other way. Returning to the station I asked for directions again and was pointed in the third possible direction (the River Tagus being in the way of the fourth direction.) After climbing a steep hill for about 1/2 mile I once more asked for directions and was told it was the other way. Arriving at the bottom of the hill but across the street from the station I notice a store front with nautical goods. Not the store I was looking for but I figured if anyone knew where it was the clerk in this store would. So I went in and asked. He looked at me like I was crazy and said "it is right next door." In other words, directly across the street from the station. Then he said "but it is closed until Monday." Totally frustrated I just walked back across the street and got on the train.

I stopped in SkippeR for an espresso. For the heck of it I walked next door into the small "C" store that also has a small nautical section. Would you believe that they had all three RCC cruising guides I was looking for. Now the interesting part. One of the three is actually cheaper than the price in Lisbon. The other two are more expensive, so I will take the train back to Lisbon tomorrow to pick them up. Then just for yucks I went out to the Imray web site and discovered that the mark up to purchase the books in Portugal is in excess of 100%. - in other words more than double the price - and these books are not cheap.  Uggggggggggh.

Palacio da Pena
Today I went to Sintra. Walk - Bus - Bus - Tram - Palacio da Pena. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal. It was used extensively by the Portuguese monarchy until the declaration of the Portuguese republic in 1910.

The Palacio is surrounded by a large park. You need to be a lot younger than I am or a mountain goat to walk around as the entire park is built on a very steep hill. I did a little bit of walking but did not explore as much as I might have liked.

The park is only one the attractions in the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra." Unfortunately each of the major sites is separated by steep hills and long distances, one gets around via the tourist bus. Also each charges admission - it would be quite easy to burn thorough a lot of cash. I also think each site would take a day to enjoy. Since the Marina de Cascais is one of the most expensive in Portugal I don't expect to stay here any longer than when the (unusual - they keep telling me) very strong winds die down and I can finally head South.

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cascais Portugal - Report 1

Spent my first half day on shore in Cascais in depressurization and sleeping. Reboot is at the dock at Marina de Cascais.  Winds are still strong - hitting the high 20's in the marina.

The marina is beautiful but also one of the most expensive in Portugal. It turns out that this is where the America's Cup race was held last year and the marina is truly "world class." The breakwall must be 15 feet high.  There is a large central "technical area" and next to it a block of marina based industries (you know, bars,) OK, chandleries, sail makers, various mechanical technicians, etc.

View Larger Map

I spent most of the day walking around Cascais. This is a beautiful resort town. There are three beaches within walking distance of the marina. The actual downtown area is full of shops and restaurants almost all of which have outdoor dining. I have been adopted by the staff of SkippeR - a restaurant in the marina complex.

I spent most of the evening drinking a half bottle of wine, enjoying a leisurely dinner, and people watching. The family next to me was from the Netherlands and we struck up a conversation. Returning to the marina I heard the sounds of a live band and singing so I went up to the first floor to find a group of IT designers from Outsystems finishing up a corporate event. I was reminded of Neil Stephenson's comment in Snow Crash that Americans do four things better than anyone else in the world:

microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

Listening to them try to play heavy metal music and sing to it was painful. At least they didn't try to cover Door into Heaven. They were, however, a fun group. They had come from Lisbon by sailboat and although most were taking a bus back one intrepid group was sailing back to Lisbon (about 10 NM.) It turned out that they were docked in the next pontoon over from Reboot so I walked back with them and we talked about IDE's (Integrated Development Environments, their product) and sailing. A fun way to end the evening.

A couple of photos:

Big Brothers

The problem with big brothers is that they always seem to one up you.  As Reboot's engine was stuttering into Caicais my big brother Al's engine was also stuttering. The difference is that he and Sally were in their turbo Mooney airplane making an emergency landing at Oshkosh (by gosh.) At least he did not have to contend with the annual EAA fly in.

Apparently we both had fuel problems. With me it was dirty fuel, with Al the fuel pump.

I am glad we both made it to safety.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Voyage Summary - Horta, Faial, Azoes to Cascais, Portugal

Will not repeat my previous post. (see http://blog.sailboatreboot.com/2012/07/thomas-paine-in-cascais-portugal.html) A very hard passage but I made it. They say that women forget the pain of childbirth for the joy of raising children. I will have to ask Diane about that the next time I see her. I really doubt it. Spent the day walking around Cascais - it is beautiful as is the marina.  More in a separate post.

Furthest East for Reboot and XO (I was in Nice on my honeymoon so I haven't made it yet.)
W 09 24.781

Dates: July 2 - July 12, 2012 (Including the day at anchor in Cascais to fix the engine.)
Voyage Length: 1036 NM
Great Circle Distance (overlooking I would have hit a couple of Azores on the way out: 911 NM
Distance lost to weather, tacking, missing a couple of Azores, etc.: 125 NM
Average Speed Made Good 4.9 Kts
Hours motoring (and not so motoring:) 16.5

Lake Worth, FL to Caicais, Portugal
Dates: May 30 - July 12, 2012 - 44 days
Voyage Length: 4129 NM
Great Circle Distance: 3568 NM
Distance Lost etc: 561 NM
Hours motoring: 58.7

1 Hand held VHF radio will not break squelch.  So that is why people don't respond when I call them.
2. Cockpit VHF radio had control knob snap off.  I have to re-engineer the entire mount as it is too exposed.  At least it was the older fixed mount VHF radio.
3. Transmission: discovered it was almost out of oil (my fault, now on the maintenance list.) The oil fill plug snapped and has to be replaced.
4. Engine fuel filters: again my fault - should have paid more attention to draining the water separator bowl and would have noticed how much crud was in the bowl. After my experience coming into Cascais I don't think I will forget this again. At least I learned how to do this so it was messy (very hard not to spill fuel) but pretty quick.

Did he become my buddy. Every time I stopped moving he was in my lap.

1.Thanks to Bill (KI4MMZ) and Fred (W3ZU) who contacted me every night on the maritime mobile service net frequency 14.3 Mhz and kept me sane.  They also passed weather information that was very helpful - I was able to reef down early in a couple of situations that made the trip easier. Also to Bill who I contacted with my engine/transmission problem. He got the scoop from Catalina Yachts which was most helpful, he also got me hooked up with the mechanic here that will order me a new oil dipstick.
2. Was unable to contact Herb (Southbound II) the entire trip.
3. Winlink (airmail) was usable most of the time. Propagation was very weird due to sun spots - but as I got closer to Europe it got easier.
4. Started using the German weather charts via RFAX.  They use a gnomonic (great circles are straight lines) map projection that takes a little getting used to.  Given that so much of the area covered is in the high latitudes it makes a lot more sense than the Mercator that we in the US grew up with.

1. Three beers in a beautiful location improves the mood! Back to Diane and childbirth - I think she was raising Trevor and Spencer when the no alcohol while breast feeding was in vogue. That could be too much information (LOL)


Thomas Paine, in Cascais, Portugal

December 23, 1776 - Thomas Payne:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; ...

Of course Thomas Paine was not talking about crossing an ocean (the Atlantic.) But the thoughts really resonate. It has been about 5 weeks since I waved goodbye to Ed and Claudia (Door into Summer) and headed for Ireland. I have now joined that fraternity of those who have crossed an ocean on a sailboat. In fact, I have joined that more exclusive fraternity that have done it alone. In the vernacular, "good on me." But at great emotional cost. I hit the wall the day before yesterday. I was ready to pack it all in, dump Reboot, and rent the apartment next to Spencer's in Madison (so I could bootleg of his Internet and have him over for dinner on a regular basis.) Trevor - the state income tax laws are easier on me in Wisconsin - don't take it personally; Spencer - is this your idea of hell or what? Sitting in the sunshine in Caicais, Portugal (near Lisbon) in the sunshine drinking my third beer it seems like a dream.

I left the Azores with the intention of heading for Ireland.  I realized that something was wrong as I left Horta,  Faial, Azores. I could not get much power out of the engine. I wrote it off to strong winds and currents as I clawed my way out of the Azores.  Little did I know.  I motored North to pick up the non-existent westerly winds.  Concerned about running out of fuel I turned east waiting out the Azores high so I could turn North.  It never happened.  I spent several days in very light winds heading East.  The ride was nice, I was bored out of my mind as I had not found anything to read in Horta.  Heading North, then East, then North, then East I realized that I could have made port again at the east end of the Azores cutting the distance to Portugal by that amount.  Bill (KI4MMZ) and Fred (W3ZU) told me that there was a wind field to my east, I decided to motor a bit .  I did find the wind field and progressively reefed until I got about 25 miles from the Portuguese coast.

I started the engine as I was once again "0 points free" to head into Caicais.  I was not getting much power and with beam seas rocking a great deal.  All of a sudden the engine died, then caught again in a particularly strong roll.  Of course at the time I was dancing with a tanker that was also trying to get into Caicais.  Well, it caught and I continued at about 2 Kts into port.  The further I got the more frequently the engine would die and then catch.  I arrived outside the marina entrance and decided that in 30 knot winds I did not want to risk having the engine die in the channel.  So I limped across the anchorage and dropped the hook.  Bill had warned me that the winds would be strong and possibly get stronger.  I could not get far enough into the anchorage to really get any shelter without running the risk of loosing power and running into another anchored boat.  So I dropped the hook and sat out the winds very conscious that I had dragged just two months ago and destroyed my rudder.  I just sat there while the wind whistled around me and the halyards banged against the mast.  No matter what I tried to do I could not get control of the halyards.  I desperately wanted to get to shore, but the winds were too strong to launch the dinghy.  So I just sat there feeling very sorry for myself as XO continued to cuddle and demand attention.  Of course the breakwater for the marina was 400 yards to my stern, if I dragged I had visions of Reboot on the marina breakwall.  I took out my secondary anchor and deployed it ready to throw overboard if I started to drag. (This is something I should have done in Garrison Bight. Live and learn.)  Anyway I did not drag and as night fell the winds moderated overnight.  I realized that my loss of power was due to one of three problems - something wrapped around the prop, the transmission had seized, or my fuel filters were clogged.  I checked the transmission and it needed oil.  Then the dip stick fitting broke. But I filled it with oil - at least most of the way.  This morning with lighter winds I changed out the fuel filters and called the marina for a tow.  They hooked up and we powered in, apparently the fuel filter change made the difference.  After checking in they made sure I got to a dock safely. So my mood is somewhat rejuvenated. I am now on my third beer and feeling better.  I also left Horta without smokes - not a great way to quit. They are quite a crutch when I am feeling down.

So here I am, somewhat better.  Will file the official voyage statistics later today.  I realized while sitting at anchor waiting for something to go wrong that I have been crossing the Atlantic for 5 weeks.  I am glad it is over (it only took Columbus 22 days to reach the new world.)

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Azores to Portugal (Cascais - near Lisbon)

Position: 101200Z JUL 12
N 38 57.1
W 011 18.2
935 NM Traveled
5.0 Ave Kts
112 NM Last 24 hours
91 NM to Cascais (105 NM on track last 24)
Distance to Kinsale 772 NM (45 NM more than yesterday!)

1. Very light winds all yesterday. Was surprised that I actually made over 100 NM. This morning winds very light, doing 2.5 to 3 Kts. Prediction was 30 hours to Cascais. Bill (KI4MMZ) told me that there is a wind field closer to shore. Decided to motor for a few hours and see if I could find the stronger wind. Then will go back to sailing so as to not arrive in the middle of the night.

2. I am in the North - South shipping lanes. I have seen (and the AIS has seen more) several cargo ships. The closest has been about 7 miles away. My visual range to the horizon is about 3 NM so I only see the superstructure of the ships.

3. One nice fact of motoring is I have hot water. I took advantage and bathed and had the first shave since leaving Horta. Feels good, there is a point where I find face hair annoying. It just rubs against my lips in a way I don't particularly like.

4. Another beautiful sailing day (so far - remember this is the noon report!) About 20% cloud cover, sun is out, temperature is up about 67 degrees. The kind of day that you want to end at the club or with friends in the cockpit so you can brag about how perfect it was. Well, that is not happening today...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Azores to Portugal (Day 7)

Position 091200Z JUL 12
N 40 00.0
W 013 15.3
823 NM traveled
5.0 Knts. average speed
113 NM last 24 hours
196 NM to Cascais, Portugal (Lisbon) 116 NM on track {adjusted for destination refinement)

1. Despite the very light airs and not a few times banging around with no wind during the night we made good progress in the last 24 hours. It seems silly to admit that I didn't do a very good job of checking the weather before leaving Horta. I never expected 7 days in a row of North winds. Live and learn. I have been tracking a couple of other boats headed to Ireland or the UK and they are not having very pleasant sailing so maybe it is all for the best. According to Jimmy Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" the passage to Ireland should be done in May - June. The pilot charts show the prevailing winds shifting more to North in the July - August timeframe.

2. Today has been that perfect sailing day. Strong enough winds to move Reboot alone nicely, sunny and warm (at least 70F which is as high as it has been for weeks.) The down side is being alone. Solo sailing is lonely and boring on short passages, these last few weeks have been very wearing. I think XO feels it too. He spends all of his waking hours in my lap and my resting hours in my arms.

3. The weather forecast for my Wednesday arrival is pretty strong winds from the North. Fortunately Cascais is protected from North winds so I should be able to get in. Strong North winds mean beam seas so I will be rocking and rolling the last bit. I am not looking forward to it. Hopefully I will be early and the winds will be late.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Azores to Portugal (Ireland) - Day 6

Position 081200 JUL 12
N 40 29
W 015 32
710 NM Traveled
5.1 Knts Average speed (for the entire trip, not the last 24 hours)
113 NM Last 24 Hours
731 NM to Kinsale
20 NM on track
312 NM to Lisbon, Portugal

1. It should be "immediately obvious to the most casual observer" (I think that was the line of Thomas of calculus textbook fame) that Ireland is not happening. The Azores high - which was not being the Azores high when I was trying to get there, but is now just a big blob of high pressure in the eastern North Atlantic - is sitting behind me giving me North winds. Light North winds. In addition to not being able to go North, I am not feeling like I am going much at all. At least the seas have also calmed down. The rocking (of course they are beam seas) is not too bad.

2. I expect to make landfall somewhere near Lisbon. There are a couple of smaller ports within 10 km of the city. I hope to berth in one so I don't have to do the find the expensive marina in the crappy part of the big city routine. I have downloaded some pages from "Noonsite" so I do have coordinates and have been able to look at the charts.

3. I have learned that transits in the mid-latitudes are a bit uncomfortable. The air temperature has hovered around 60F to 65F pretty much the entire trip. In the cockpit in the wind that means bundling up quite a bit. When I rest I have to make sure not to over compensate with too many covers and sweat - then when I get up to check Reboot I get an immediate chill. When I was up in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland I took it for granted that it was going to be seriously cold and dressed the part. Here it came as a bit more of a surprise. In the back of my mind I think of Bermuda and the Azores as tropical, they are not.

Fair winds and following seas...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Azores to Ireland - Day 5

Position 071200Z JUL 12
N 40 57
W 017 54
597 NM traveled
5.1 Knts Average speed
143 NM Last 24 Hours
751 NM to Kinsale
61 NM on track

1. It should be obvious from the above that the plan to go to Kinsale is suffering from the wind direction. The normal wisdom is to head due North from the Azores until one gets into the established westerly flow. Well, I could not sail north to get to the westerly flow and I have not been able to make much North since. The closer one gets to Europe the less likely the flow is westerly and more likely it is northerly. I am just sailing on East. Don't be surprised if I make my first landfall in Portugal.

2. The sun is out today and the winds have moderated. I was in a terrible mood yesterday. I was just being tossed around inside Reboot, it was cold and wet, and the rig was making noises. Well, it always makes noises. But since I was cold and wet and really didn't like these noises at all. Today it is making noises, just different noises. Today with the sun out and not trying to fight my way upwind I am in a much better mood.

3. I do have charts and a NGA guide for the West coast of Europe. The guide is really much more attuned to commercial and military shipping. But I am sure that I can find somewhere to check in. At the moment I have been reading the guide for Lisbon. The problem is that it is too big - kind of like Cork in Ireland. There are private marinas in Lisbon, I just have no data on any of them. So I will pick one at random and go from there. Or harbor control will help me find a spot - not to mention customs and immigration.

Fair winds and Following Seas

Friday, July 6, 2012

Azores to Ireland - Day 4

Position 061200Z Jul 12
N 40 55
W 020 27
456 NM traveled
812 NM to Kinsale
5.0 Knts Ave
136 NM last 24 hours
115 NM on track

1. The wind backed as forecast. Winds are now force 5 and 6 relative. Still close hauled with 0 points free. Heading is much more to my liking, the ride has become most unpleasant. There are far more comfortable places to sit on Reboot on Starboard tack, so of course we are on Port tack and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. It would be nice if the wind would come further west so that I would be more on a reach.

2. Bright sunshine this morning. Overcast much of the rest of the day. The waves are building. After being 2 - 4 feet since the beginning they are now running 4 - 6. With the wind shift the bow now falls off a wave about every minute or so with the resultant crash.

3. Ruing my lack of books. Horta just didn't seem to have a good selection of English language books. Wonder why?

Fair winds and following seas

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Azores to Ireland - Day 3

Noon Position 051200 JUL 12
N 39 52
W 022 53
Distance Traveled 320 NM
Average Speed 4.7 Knts
120 NM last 24 hours
927 NM to Kinsale
65 NM Made Good on Track

1. A quiet but frustrating 24 hours. Am sailing "0 points free" and am now 137 NM East of the great circle route. Winds have averaged force 2 to 3 which has prevented me from sailing in a more northerly direction. Note that my current position is actually south of my noon position yesterday. Forecast for this evening is for the winds to back. If so I will be able to regain some distance North. The up side of light winds and seas is a pleasant ride.
2. I love my Monitor wind steering device for this kind of situation. As the wind shifts the Monitor follows the apparent wind. It prevents me from either stalling (in irons) or not taking advantage of staying as close hauled as possible while not loosing speed. The Autohelm autopilot has a wind steering mode but for NMEA 2000 vs NMEA 0183 reasons it is not functional on Reboot. This is not a major drawback as the Autohelm requires you to confirm any course change of 5 degrees or more. Out here that is about every 60 seconds due to wave action.
3. XO has become my good buddy in spades. Every time I try to do any activity he jumps up in the way and demands attention. It takes a few times putting him in my lap before he gets the picture and moves on. I can't complain, he is also my bunk buddy. Air temperatures at night are about 60 F so having a furry hot water bottle on my chest is a good thing.
4. Downloading the German weather fax broadcasts has become pretty easy. The signals are strong enough that I get pretty good quality. On the other hand I am still finding it difficult to find WINLINK connections (that is what I send this message with.) The good news is that Fred (W3ZU) and Bill (KI4MMZ) still talk to me each evening with the updated weather forecasts.
5. Did have a close (warned by AIS, managed by radio) encounter with the Frontier Island cargo ship last night. We passed about 1.9 NM apart. It still amazes me that in the middle of the ocean my track and that of another ship can pass so closely.

Fair winds and following seas

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Azores to Ireland - Day 2

Noon Position 0412000 Z JUL 12
N 40 22,6
W 025 18.4
Distance Traveled 200 Nm
4.6 Kts Average Speed
972 NM to Kinsale
100.4 NM traveled last 24 Hours
94 NM on track
Waves 2 - 4 feet WNW

1. Light winds for the last 24 hours, mostly force 2 and 3. Wind shift since 0600 has moved wind from West to North. I have changed course from 041T to 90T to keep from having to run very close hauled as I have lots of East to go anyway. This is cost some in distance made good but will result in a much smoother ride. The wind is so light that I am having difficulty maintaining 90T, I am giving up northing. If I tack the winds are so light I give up both North and East. Ugh!
2. Mist this morning, 1005 overcast at noon, clouds slowly burning off. I have noticed in the entire trip that in one day I can go from clear to 100% overcast and back to clear again.
3. Got to talk to Spencer via phone patch last night, it was good to hear his voice.
4. Checked into the UK Maritime Net this morning. They apparently knew about me, probably because Nigel (who did a Chicago - Mac and Bayview Mac with me) is a frequent station heard.
5. Still difficult to get a radio link. The number of WINLINK stations in Europe is very small compared to the US and I am still quite a ways off the coast.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Azores to Ireland - Day 1

Noon Position 3 July 2012
N 39 32.4
W027 13.1
Traveled since departure at 021550 JUL 12: 95.1 NM
4.8 NM Average
1066 NM to go

1. With the help of several people we got Reboot pulled out of the stack of 3 boats. This was made more difficult by the fact that there were three boat raft ups on either side. Just before we started the wind was very favorable to just be blown out, but of course the wind reversed as soon as I cast off.
2. Clawed, and I do mean clawed my way out of Horta. There was an adverse wind and current between Faial and Pico. When I would tack the current would push me back and give up almost all the northing I had made. Once I got out the wind shifted and I was able to get around Sao Jorge and Graciosa without further incident. I did have to run the engine the entire time as the winds were light to non-existant.
3. Quiet day of very light winds from the West. Shut down the engine this morning and was finally able to set up the Monitor wind steering. This makes it both quiet and conserves fuel and electricity. Have spent most of the day just napping (the tension of getting out of Horta was quite wearing.)
4. It is clear that we are no longer in the tropics. Average temperatures in the day are 65 to 70 degrees, at night 60 to 65. I am unpacking clothing I have not worn in a while.

Fair winds and following seas.

Port Visit: Horta, Faial, Azores

We did an unexpected port visit to Horta in the Azores. Weather had kept us so far south that it made sense to stop in as it was only a detour of about 100 NM.

The marina at Horta is truly the international crossroads. People and boats from every country in the world stop here as they transit the Atlantic. The down side is the marina is far too small. Reboot was rafted up with two other heavier boats and we were on the sea wall. Fortunately the weather was benign but I sill had to pump up my fenders on a daily basis.

The most amazing attribute of Horta is the prices. Everything is very inexpensive. Compared to Bermuda it was a wonderful relief. Also the kind of poverty that you take for granted in the Caribbean does not seem to exist in Horta.

The last day I was taken to the whaling museum and the beach. What a beautiful place to go for a swim. I only wish I had found it sooner. Summary, inexpensive, lots of interesting people, great food.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cycling Up - Again

Today I got the laundry done and made the trip to the grocery store.  Tomorrow, unless something changes it will be good bye Horta and on to Kinsale, Ireland