Frankie in the Med !
Tenzing and Edmund !
Princess Caroline took this photo!
Marie and I are close longtime friends of Laurie & Di and have spent much time boating together in New Zealand. Laurie and I have enjoyed boating for almost 30 years and enjoy nothing more than discussing boats, along with fishing and rum-and-cokes (no ice for Laurie)!
Consequently when Laurie announced his intentions of purchasing a boat and travelling the Med we were enthralled and closely followed his purchase decision. I can say that the vessel he has chosen - 46' Nordhaven - is a superb cruising boat. We spent 2 weeks on Envoy with Laurie and Di and Laurie's son John and it was both a wonderful experience and a real thrill to be invited along.
Marie and I went to Istanbul first for 6 days and thoroughly enjoyed exploring this ancient city - a bit like Rome but without the Italians! Lots of history, carpets and cats! We did a day trip up the Bosphorus and this was very enjoyable - recommended Laurie must take Envoy on this passage and into the Black Sea.
We flew to the seaside port of Bodrum to join Envoy and this was our first view of the Nordhaven. What a fabulous design for extended cruising. 2 staterooms - both with toilet and shower facilities, water maker, washing machine/dryer, DVD systems, huge library of wonderful reading material - give me the winning Lotto numbers!!!!
We cruised for two weeks down the eastern coast of Turkey as far as Gocek and had a side visit to the Greek island of Simi. I was absolutely amazed at the coastline of Turkey. Somehow we believed that any coastline on the Med would be populated with hotels and apartments everywhere. What we found in reality is the most beautiful stretches of coast that are untouched and essentially "wild". The terrain is very much like our Great Barrier Island here in New Zealand. Beautiful coves to anchor in and superb clear, blue, warm water that we have seen in photos but never believed existed in reality. We thought all those pictures of the blue Med were touched up - it really is as blue and beautiful as a postcard!
Laurie & Di are wonderful hosts and we felt very relaxed. It is very special when the guys and their wives all get along so well and it was a real bonus to have their son John with us. John is the same age as my eldest son Tony and they have grown up together from babies. John is a great guy and a full-time First Mate on Superyachts, so the Cranfield family now has three generations of mariners. John had this huge book of Su-Do-Ku "puzzles" and is a real expert. He showed me how to "play" it and it was really interesting for the logic part of the brain - I'm now trying to do these each day in the NZ Herald. Not so successful was the men playing the ladies at cards - They cleaned us out at 500 on a regular basis!
Life on Envoy seems so natural and relaxed. Laurie (The Admiral) tends to the ship every day with course/destination planning, log recording, weather information, blog notes as well as engine checks, water checks, charging monitoring, freezer temp monitoring, holding tank emptying etc! Envoy is incredibly stable with active stabilisers when under way and a displacement hull at rest - there was no rocking or slap-slap at night and we could have been on land. The coastline is so pretty and enjoyable that you could spend months exploring it. This is where the water maker and washing machine are essential and fuel is the least problem. With Envoy's massive refrigerator and separate huge freezer there is ample room to store supplies. Thus fresh water becomes the critical item. I have never tasted such pure water as that from the water maker and together with the washing machine, they virtually eliminate the need to regularly reach a port for water and supplies. I see Envoy as a true "home on the water" with every comfort of our land-based homes.
Laurie guided us to many places with ruins and it was great to go ashore and explore these. We never ceased to be amazed at the extremes of engineering feats for that period of time so long ago. Also the simple Tavernas located along the coastline were fascinating to us. We had a great night at the Ali Baba restaurant with owners Barbaross and his wife. Surprisingly the Med still has good size fish and we dined on a nice whole grilled fish with salad. We also caught 4 Bonito trolling and Marie revelled in landing some of these. I love filleting fish and these were superb to fillet. They were great eating and we had a true feast on these, always assisted by several bottles of white wine followed by several bottles of Italian red! Di and Marie excelled at dinner time and I can say the meals on Envoy were 5 stars!!!
We also visited the small Greek island of Simi. This amazed me as it is virtually all rock with no water or vegetation. Fresh water is brought to the island on a continuing basis by two rather dilapidated water tanker ships. These simply unload and return for another cargo of water - all year round. The island comprises habitation at two beautiful small ports, separated by a tall, wide ridge. The villages are simple plaster houses with a mix of well-kept homes among dilapidated or abandoned dwellings. The tide in the Med is virtually nil - about 30cm max - and therefore you have these houses and shopping strips at sea level, with boats parked along the waterfront. What an idyllic setting. We sat in the sun and enjoyed a lovely lunch. Later, Laurie and John and I did a climb up to a peak on the island. It was a fantastic view and a great experience. We had a nice dinner at a waterfront cafe at Simi, along with 15 cats - 3 generations from kittens to grandma and grandpa cat!
We experienced two beautiful meals ashore during the cruise - "My Marina" at Ekincik and "The Marina Restaurant" at Gocek. These were first class meals and absolutely superb, along with the setting - truly world-class (thank you John for Gocek).
The journey with Laurie, Di and John on Envoy was a wonderful experience for us. What a great way to see the Med and experience these destinations by sea instead of flitting from hotel to hotel as most do.
To the Admiral and Lady Envoy, sincere thanks for the opportunity and the hospitality - we loved it. To Johnny - I'm still struggling with Su-Do-Ku but my brain is getting faster!
Very Best Wishes,
Love Frank & Marie.