Settled in Portugal, I develop the professional side of the vilain project. I arrived, struggled, hit the bottom and then bounced back. Things actually happened on my little yacht!
It had been three months since I had published my last article. I do my best to publish regularly again. To my defence you will see that I had really had other things to do!
The end of the journey
After passing Cape St Vincent I had a hard time stopping travelling. If Øya and I had physically arrived, I continued to project ourselves ahead. I wanted to pursue our journey and cross to the Canary Islands or Madeira.
Even if Algarve is definitely a beautiful area, most boats are just passing by. This place is for these crews a simple step in their travel to the Caribbean.
It was hard to resist the temptation!
Accepting the difference
There are several profiles of people one meet on the sea.
- Those who have saved money and waited years to make their journey. After their unpaid leave they will return back home and to work with the head full of memories.
- Others are hitch-hikers looking for a boat to cross the ocean and cheapest as possible.
- Rarer but still present, there are the hippy-like nomads who live on board their boat in a very modest way, always at the anchorage and pay for the maintenance of their boat by finding small jobs.
One is no better than the other, each has his own style and their great thing in common being that all of them are sailing!
So you’re going crossing too, right?The others
The programme of holiday-makers has a start and an end, which is not my case: I have a professional project to build, and this is the rule #2 of the project: work on board.
So it can sometimes be difficult to resist the call of the sun, shells and aperitifs on my neighbours’ boats. Mark the difference, leave the anchorage to go to the marina even if everybody including myself find it lame. This is indeed on the road to freedom: following the guideline that I have planned and knowing how to refuse tempting opportunities. I have to mind the long term.
In fact, it is a question of affirming my objectives. That’s why I defined rules.
Now that the project is well underway, it is interesting to take a step back on its progress: I learned to sail in 2019, got a boat and sailed in 2020.
On the other hand, I wanted to stabilize my professional situation in 2020, I must admit that I failed on this point.
I haven’t communicated much about it but it has nevertheless kept my mind busy since the fall of 2019. A small assessment is necessary because everything is bound together.
- February 2019: I had savings of 24,000 euros as a starting investment. Between my training instructor, the purchase of the boat and all these little things here and there, there’s only 350 euros left today.
- France is a wonderful country that granted me social helps, allowing me to hold on until June 2020. Without this help my project would have gone much differently.
- February 2020: I found a customer. But after 10 days the lockdown interrupted my mission. Although it was originally planned to last two and a half months, it has nonetheless paid my life raft. I wouldn’t have left without it.
- May 2020: I sign a part-time contract, 100% in telework with a Norwegian company. I earn between 200 and 800 euros per month, which is enough to free me from the social helps.
- August 2020: I cancel my ambition to spend Christmas in Martinique: this requires “just-in-case” savings and the boat must be completely ready for the big crossing of the Atlantic ocean. So I changed my destination to the Algarve with the non-negotiable aim to fix this resource problem.
- September 1st, 2020: online job interview while at the anchorage of Castro Urdiales in the north of Spain. It didn’t work and I continued my journey to Portugal while working in telework with the Norwegians.
- Since October 2020 I am in the Algarve, I stopped sailing to run my self-business so the 2021 season can happen.
So we must be lucid: it is the nerve of war that has finally influenced my program the most!
Nevertheless, I still did some very nice things and I learned as much as I could. At my humble level as a beginner’s small sailor, I think I still optimized this pandemic year very well.
Not everything went according to plan, I managed to delay the deadline, but I still hit rock bottom…
Hitting rock bottom
Just because we prefer to show what is good on Instagram does not mean that everything is rosy. It’s no secret and definitely not a taboo for me. All is not so bad, I who went on an adventure, here I am served!
Early November 2020, even if the Lagos’ marina is pretty and a good place to work, it is very expensive. So I have no choice but to leave it and go back to anchor.
Everyone says it is beautiful and that it is a great shelter.
As it is a lagoon with little depth I ask advice to those who have already been there. I moor at the anchorage by the entrance for the night and enter in the early morning during the rising tide.
I follow the indications given to me: the sandbank is starboard, the red buoy is actually green but very rusty. I move cautiously, gently despite a growing bad feeling. The depth probe indicates 2.5m, it is very little! I realize that I have not prepared anything: I have no paper card, no alignment. I’m actually completely wrong, but it’s too late!
The second after the probe turns to 1.5m and the boat stops. It stalls gently but certainly against the sandbank on port. It’s hard to admit the harsh reality: I’m here, stranded in the middle of the lagoon! I can already imagine Øya lying on the left flank at low tide among the fishermen on foot… What a fame!
✔️ First stranding
And probably not the last…
Anyway, I observe, I understand: the tidal current pushes me against the sandbank, that’s what blocks me. Theoretically the current will reverse when the tide starts to come down, so I should be able to clear myself at that time. I didn’t want to wait passively and I saw that there was a little more depth at the back than in the front. So I put blows accelerator in reverse like never before. For long seconds and in a cloud of smoke the boat finally begins to rotate slowly. I finally manage to get out of here.
It’s 8:30 am, I’m going back to where I came from and I’d stay there wisely waiting for the sea breeze to reach the river of Portimão a bit further.
Of course, I got over it and it probably happens to good people too, but I would have been fine! You will notice that I did not take a picture.
Formidable, I who do not have the penny I will be able to settle there for a while and continue to develop my self-enterprise. It appears that there is a water point with a free shower next to the anchorage. I’m happy to start a new page of my story here!
The fisherman’s hut
Indeed, the anchorage is located in front of the entrance to the fishing harbour of Portimão. At the back of the harbour, there are public toilets with a water tap and a rusty shower. Next to this small building is a bar where the terrace is filled with drunken fishermen as soon as the sun rises. So here’s my water point and my shower, after all the main thing is that the water is freshwater.
Once, a stumbling fisherman went into the shower stall while I was getting dressed. Because the door does not have a lock of course. “Good morning, the Turkish toilet is next door…”
They are nice, but a little special.
To go to the “water point” I have to row, row, row for a long time. The fishing port is all in length. As I lost one of my two oars, I row with only one, it’s even more painful and tiring! People have been watching me from the throw, I’m sure they’re judging me!
One time, I realized once arrived that I had forgotten my cans to carry the freshwater. It put me in a bad mood!
Another time, I came face-to-face with a dozen stray dogs barking and showing very aggressively. I slowly went back with my empty cans, “we’ll be back during the day time”!
I invested in a scooter to optimize my travels ashore. It’s not luxury because my industrial area is a bit far from everything. I choose the one that does not have shock absorbers because in my opinion it is “an unnecessary complication causing problems”. Very fair, except that the streets of Portimão are either paved or poorly paved. All cases the scooter is really uncomfortable and makes an incredible noise and vibrations!
So know it, if one day you plan to do your shopping by scooter, opt for the full-option without hesitating a second!
My neighbour’s dinghy
My mooring neighbour has a nice dinghy, with its pretty outboard motor it’s already outboard and moving full ball! He crosses the river to park directly in the city centre. In 5 minutes it is on the other side
One day he related me that there are rats from the unauthorised rubbish tip that is just behind the beach. Sometime they swim until the anchors’ chains of the boats and they climb on board. Since he had found one gnawing cables behind his electric panel, since he put a plastic bottle around his chain. I put one on, too.
The final straw
To top it off, I realized that my solar panels were no longer producing enough electricity. A month before the winter solstice there is actually little sun, it is normal.
For this reason, I started going to the little restaurant which is right next to the diesel dock for fishing boats. Yes, until January 15, bars and restaurants were open in Portugal. That’s good because the diesel dock is right at the entrance to the fishing port, I am there in a few strokes of oars. A flash of lucidity strikes me when the waiter brings me my second beer: at this pace I will quickly confuse the toilet and the shower. It’s a trap !
The circle is complete, I have to leave this place, quick!
I have to be lucid: this is the worst context to start a business. It doesn’t make any point, I’m wasting time and energy. I can’t get my business moving forward or anything for that matter. One day, I would certainly have the experience and the necessary equipment to work efficiently from the mooring. This little one-month trip in the river made me realize that this is not yet the case.
The marina of Portimão
I moved to the marina of Portimão even if I had to spend 50% to 75% of my Norwegian salary. I also bought a first-price surfboard and I enjoy the waves, because if I can’t afford to visit the country side then at last, that’s something! In fact, I really felt the need to let off steam physically to avenge all these failures.
Here, the showers are hot, the water is flowing, the waves are 200m away and my scooter runs very fast on the bike paths that lead straight to the supermarket!
In short, I finally have a decent environment. All that remains is just to settle my finances.
These adventures are tiring at the moment, but they become funny anecdotes once passed. I was able to regain energy, forget the logistics problems to get back on a good footing.
I could do like the “hippies of the seas” and find punctual jobs from time to time. Not for me!
My job as a developer is a passion and I need to practice it. I need to contribute to interesting and concrete projects where you have to take up technical and team challenges.
After all, it’s not only the boat in life.
It’s a life project, it’s about being happy all the time.
I never wanted to quit my job but only practice it with a lifestyle that makes me happy. We computer scientists, whether we are crammed into an open space or locked down in an apartment, in any case we use an online chat with our headphones on the ears to communicate together. So doing the same thing in a big city or thousands of miles from the office on a boat… It doesn’t change anything.
The whole thing is to find the projects that are in tune with this mindset. I’m not worried anyway, because I’m sure of myself: I’m right.
I’ve tried three times to start a freelance activity, and it’s far from easy.
The first time I was 17 years old and the advisor of the Chamber of Commerce of Nîmes had recommended me to take my baccalaureate first. The second I was still in engineering school and I had not managed to find enough projects. Now it’s the third attempt and I’m clearly intend to go all the way and correctly and nevertheless successfully.
It’s always good to learn from our mistakes, so I decided to take a course with Ambroise Debret to fix my previous mistakes.
To pay this course, I made the bet that it would be effective enough for me to pay it back. Spending money that I don’t have is really not something I like, but you have to know how to get out of your comfort zone to get unblocked from such situation.
I sold my bike during my visit to France at Christmas, just in case my bet fails again. Except my boat, I really don’t have much left! Well I do: my scooter…
And one day, everything unlocks! Thomas, a friend of the university to whom I had spoken about my project in 2019, put me in touch with the customer who needs my skills!
The project is exciting and the team very friendly: this is the ideal project!
Suddenly the horizon clears, I will work, live properly and the summer 2021 seems sunny. I can finally move forward!
And above all… Order a beautiful dinghy worthy of the name!
There is not a second to lose, there is work to be done and the days are already getting longer!
As a guide, I have two targets for 2021: the Balearic Islands and the Old Port of Marseille, around that we will find much things to do to have fun!
Reasonable people have too many doubts too many worries, so fewer memories in their bags at the end of their lives.Mickey 3D