My very first regatta!

At 0830 I arrived at Oeiras’ marina, so we could prepare everything in time, because the COMM regatta (merchant navy officers’ club) would begin at 1100.

I participated in this regatta with a colleague and a professor of ENIDH, Captain Mesquita and two other members of the David Melgueiro organization.

As I mentioned in the title, this was my first regatta and I was not an active participant, I was only a supporting member. I never had the opportunity to learn sailing before, so I accepted the invitation to go and took the chance to learn something.

Before the race started, the captain told me I would be the bow lookout, because the Genoa (the sail on the front of the sail ship), would cut the vision to the side (starboard or portside) to which it was directed. I would also be helping this same sail change sides and check if it was not stuck on anything.

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I was the photographer as well, as you can see ???? My cellphone almost fell in the water a couple of times, but it was totally worth it! Next thing I’m buying is a GoPro so i can record and photgraph everything without fear haha.

There was a strong north wind, so we had a big angle of list (the ship was on it’s side) and it was super fun, because it really gets the adrenaline pumping. I’m really sorry I didn’t photograph those moments ☹.

The regatta started at 1100 and went as follows: Belém- Alfeite- Belém. At the beggining of the regatta we were the first ones in our class, which was B, but during the race we were supposed to circle a buoy (buoy nr. 3) but our team thought that buoy was further ahead, so we went to a different buoy and lost lots of time.

We ended the regatta in 4th place, but nobody really cared since the important ting was to have fun while participating! ????

Pilot boarding the SMM (video)

In this video we can see a pilot from Cadiz’s port getting on to the ship Santa Maria Manuela.
This was recorded during my trip on the SMM which you can read all about at 😉

What are pilots?

Entry into and exit from ports is the most difficult task, in terms of navigation, for vessel officers (at least of big sized vessels).

Pilots (sea ones) are experienced professionals (usually former masters), who have full knowledge of the port where they work, and will therefore assist ships that are entering that port.

They move from the port to the ship in which they intend to enter through a boat which is called a pilot boat. When they embark they share their knowledge with the captain/master about that area, such as: the shoals, the weather in the zone, the coast lines, how to maneuver, etc …

I think becoming a pilot is a great work option to any deck officer who can no longer live at sea for some reason, since it allows the person to keep working on ships and still live on dry land. 🙂

My Academic Week

This weak was a busy one! And when you have a lot to do and don’t want to miss anything, your body is paying for it for sure xD

At 2000 (8 o’clock pm) of the 15th, our astronomical navigation class’ teacher told us that the night class was cancelled due to bad weather. I was super excited about the class so I was a little disappointed but not too much since it meant I could go the serenades that happen during the academic week (explanation time: the academic week or semana académica as we call it in Portugal, is an event that lasts a week and its meant to celebrate university students, there are lots of concerts and hang-outs and we all get to be dressed in our cool academic suits, same ones I wear when i’m singing with the Tuna (check that article 😉

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Port of Sines and Tugboats

It was in the scope of our Physics-Chemistry class that we went on a field trip to the Port of Sines, since it is the most significant merchant port in Portugal and the one who moves more cargo annually. More than 50% of the maritime cargo that moves nationally goes through there. As far as energy products are concerned (fuels and such), that percentage goes up to 74 %.

Due to its strategic location and depth of waters (28 meters), its able to welcome any kind of existing ship and move any kind of cargo. Sines is in the TOP 100 worldclass container ports.

In the beginning of the tour we attended a lecture about the port where the lecturer assured us that they would keep betting on the expansion and competitiveness of the port. After that we went on a bus tour to visit all the shipping terminals.

Despite all the interesting aspects of our morning, the best part of the visit was after lunch, when we were given the chance to board and visit one of the most powerful tugboats we have in the country. Tugboats are extremely powerful boats, whose job is to assist ships when they break down or when manoeuvring in the port. This boats can also be used to fight fires and provide other kinds of assistance.

When visiting the tugboat, we started in the engine room, where we were informed that the ship has a 5000 horse power Rolls Royce engine. After that we went up to check the crew’s quarters. When we arrived at the bridge, we were shown all the controls and we learned how to manoeuvre the tugboat.

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All of us were given a chance to manoeuvre it and when it was my turn, I obviously loved it. They are so flexible and manoeuvrable, they can turn 360º and start moving astern quite easily and in no time.

At the end of the visit we still went to the fire station and to the port’s VTS building (vessel traffic services).



My tall Ships 2016 experience

The Tall Ships Races is an international regatta that brings together several sail ships/tall ships of all categories (they are classified according to their size and some other aspects).

The race had its first edition in 1956, born from an idea formulated in 1954, by Portuguese ambassador in London Dr. Pedro Theotónio Pereira and lawyer from London, Bernard Morgan, with the objective of preserving all the big sail ships that lost popularity with the arrival of the new big modern ships.

Thanks to the race’s giant success, it kept going annually to this day.

The 2016 edition started at June 7 in Antwerp, Belgium. The first leg of the race started at the 10th, and at the 21st the ships started to arrive at Lisbon, Portugal, and were open to the public for visiting until the 24th. I went to visit them with my family and best friend that Saturday morning (the 24th).

We visited all the tall ships we could and obviously I showed them the one I’d be sailing on, the Santa Maria Manuela.

I boarded at 1000 (10 o’clock am) of the 25th and we were presented to the captain who welcomed us on board, explained us the safety procedures and explained to us all the activities we would be participating in while on board.

We left the docks at 1300 (one o’clock pm) and headed towards Cadiz, Spain.

That is one of the most beautiful images I ever recorded in my memory, seeing Lisbon from the sea, while surrounded by dozens of tall ships, it’s simply amazing.

Day 1:

Our first day passed in a hurry, with the emotional nautical parade in the Tejo river, settling in our accommodations and the hoisting of the flags.

We were divided in groups and a shift, which at sea we call watch.

A watch lasts for four hours, with an eight hour break between each watch.

My watch was from 4 to 8, both in the morning and in the afternoon.

On each watch I had different jobs every hour, and that allowed us all to experience every job there was on board, such as: working the helm, working in the bridge (the ship’s control room), stand watch, cleaning the deck, etc…

Day 2:

The second day was the worst of all for me, not only the weather was terrible, I was also pretty annoyed with my cell phone.

It decided all by itself to erase almost all the pictures I had taken so far and since I was out of reach of any internet or cell service, not even the “cloud” could save me this time.

I couldn’t call anyone either to vent about what happened or blow off some steam, so I had to go annoy my ship/class mates.

On a positive note I confirmed that I don’t get sea sick, that was nice.

Day 3:

The third day was amazing, the sun was out and warm and the sea was smooth.

I didn’t even go to my cabin the entire day, I only took a little nap on the deck under the sun, which was great because otherwise I would have missed the sea turtle and dolphins that passed us by.

In the afternoon I climbed one of the main masts of the ship.

That night we arrived at Cadiz, but we had to wait anchored until the following morning so the port pilot could help us berth at the docks.

As soon as we were allowed to leave the ship we took the chance to enjoy the most we could of the city, since the very next day we would have to leave at 1500 (three o’clock pm).

We toured the city, went to the beach, visited the clubs and at night we went to the party in honor of our arrival.

Ignoring our need for sleep, we still went to the beach in the morning, before our departure.

Last thoughts:

I loved this experience because it was my first ever trip on a sail ship.

I had the opportunity to try working in a 4 hour watch system; watch the amazing sunsets and sun rises at sea; got to know my classmates in different way; I lived without any means of communication for 3 days (which wasn’t as bad as I was expecting); and it made me want to go back to my classes with a strengthened love for my university degree.

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