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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gulf of Gokova with Steve & Jane Wilson 21-24/8 and Amy 25-29/8

Photos – Steve & Jane and Amy are going to post some photos onto the blog relating to this commentary.
We’ve now been in the Gulf of Gokova for about a month and that has suited us well as there’s plenty to experience here and we really did want to spend more time in one general area, get to know it pretty well and “sniff the roses”.
This Gulf is roughly 40 miles from West to East and varies from 20 miles to 5 miles from North to South. It is bordered by the Greek Island of Kos to the West, Bodrum on the Turkish mainland to the Northwest and with interesting and quite isolated anchorages, particularly on the Southeast coast.
Steve & Jane Wilson from Christchurch arrived on the evening of 20/8 having flown in from Canada where Steve had been competing in a gruelling mountain biking event which crosses the Rocky Mountains. We half expected Steve to be carried aboard but he was remarkably well, albeit looking forward to a more relaxing time with no training or competing.
On Tuesday we left the marina and anchored under the walls of the imposing Castle of St Peter for a first swim in a water temp of 26d, the warmest sea temperature that Steve & Jane had swum in. We then had a journey of several hours to English Harbour, mentioned in the last blog entry. We moored stern to shore in the perfectly sheltered bay and during our first of many swims Steve said he could see a cannon ball on the seabed. To belay our sketicismSteve prodded this with his foot and found it was made not of iron but of unfriendly sponge and Steve had a slight tingling sensation in his foot for the next few days. The next day we moved on to the Snake & Castle Islands where Cleopatras Beach is located. There were only a couple of boats anchored overnight in this enchanting anchorage and we all had a snorkel around the ancient harbour to see the considerable amount of pottery remains scattered across the sea bed. We were also surprised at the number and variety of small fish along with some “sea cucumber” and some snake like sea worms which grow to about 400mm long and traverse the sea bed. We had a BBQ on board and after the boys cleaned up the girls at 500 we had a wonderful midnight swim under the moon and stars before going to bed.
On Thursday we went ashore early to explore the ruins on Castle Is before the crowds of day trippers arrive. There was hardly anybody there and after looking over the approx 2,700 year old ruins we had a swim at Cleopatras Beach with only a dozen or so other people in the water. An engineer among us tried to convince us that this sand was not brought over by galleys from Egypt on Cleopatras orders but was the product of some local geological process, however we prefer the original story. When we returned to Envoy there was a large number of Gulets anchored in the bay, one so close that our stabilizing “flopper stoppers” were almost under his hull. Di yelled out to the Gulet skipper who had a look but was totally unconcerned.
We explored the Northeast coast including Akbuk Limani and Oren where there is a very large power station using locally mined low grade coal before anchoring for the night in Cokertme. For the 3rd time we had dinner at the very special Hassan’s restaurant where the atmosphere is fantastic, the food is exotic and the live Turkish folk music provides an intimate background.
We asked for the best Turkish red wine available and were served “Dikmen” which was a great red and which Jane & Di thought the brand name appropriate to the drinkers ! On Friday we went ashore for a look around Cokertme and the time came all too soon for our return trip to Bodrum where we had farewell drinks on board, a great dinner ashore and a walk along the very colorful and busy Bodrum night waterfront.

Amy arrived from London early Saturday morning eager for some sunshine and fine weather after a so far non existent English summer. She was not to be disappointed as the weather here is still great with clear and mostly cloudless blue skies, temperature in the low 30s and sea about 27d.
We started off again with a swim under the Castle of St Peter and its impossible not to enjoy this experience. We then headed to Cockertme and had a rest in preparation for a big night at Hassan’s. Every night there has its own special features and on that night the restaurant was not so busy and there was a Turkish birthday party in progress (they sing Happy Birthday with the same tune and Turkish words). So about 11 pm the two singer / guitarists came off stage and joined the birthday party group in an impromptu jam with one of them playing the flute and several singing. We had such a great time it was 2am when we went to bed. The next morning Amy & Di went to see “the carpet lady” and then we set off for English Harbour where we moored in the same spot as we had with Steve & Jane. Now we had to be careful of a few Compass Jellyfish floating around. These are a brown jelly fish about the size of a dinner plate across and can sting although not dangerously but best avoided.
This is the first time we’ve seen anything in the water you need to be careful of. We went ashore to a taverna for drinks and then had a BBQ on board.
On Monday we set off for the Snake & Castle Islands and we did a snorkel around as we had with Steve & Jane but this time had to avoid a few Compass Jellyfish.
Shortly after 1800 the last gulet departed and we had the whole anchorage to ourselves. As with Steve & Jane we went ashore bright and early and were virtually by ourselves, in fact at one point we were the only swimmers at Cleopatras Beach. While ashore we saw quite a large tortoise – the first one we’ve seen so far on this visit.
Later in the afternoon we arrived at a beautiful bay called Alakisla Buku.
Very clear water, sheltered, a nice sandy beach and only a small fishing boat at anchor there. It was so nice that we decided to have some nibbles and drinks ashore and we had a beautiful 3 hours or so doing just that and we thought of Alistair Ward who had given us the beach blanket and Frank & Marie Curulli who had given us the going ashore backpack which we were using.
On Wednesday we got back to Bodrum Marina by 1030 and Di & Amy went for a look around the bazaar so that Amy could practise her bargaining skills. Then after a wonderful 5 family days with Amy it was time for her to go but with all of us keeping in mind that she’ll be back to see us in Marmaris for Christmas.

We have now left Bodrum and are heading SE about 200 miles to Antalya where we will meet Brian & Carol Restieaux and cruise back towards Marmaris. It is now confirmed that we will winter over in Marmaris Yacht Marine marina.

Miles covered 2510 in 176 days on board with 510 engine hours.

Technical: mostly going well and no major issues. After Amy’s departure I repaired the oil leak from the gearbox cooling pump hose. I’m always reluctant to do such jobs either away from marinas or when people are about to join us in case of complications so this was the ideal time. I now had the correct 21mm spanner to do this so took the fitting off completely, cleaned it up and then secured it using Loktite. Not leaking yet after 4 hours so fingers crossed.
Our fuel transfer pump seems to be running very slow. This is the pump which transfers fuel from tank to tank and filters it at the same time.
Brian is bringing a spare pump to Antalya so we have this one covered.
Our water purifier’s u/v tube has become disconnected from the power wiring. I’ll need to check if there are polarity issues with this before reconnecting. We’ve got a sea water leak from the pump which circulates cooling water around the hydraulic oil for the stabilizers. I have a spare pump on board so can replace this.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Photos taken during Ian & Patsy's stay

Crowds at Cleopatra's beach on Castle Island - see out of bounds sand section as mentioned in text below.
Our anchorage at Castle Island - see text below.



Cleopatra's Beach

Ian & Patsy Ristrom from Christchurch joined us on Friday 10th at our spectacular anchorage under the Castle of St Peter, Bodrum. This castle was built by Crusader knights from Rhodes in the early 15th C. Later when the resident approx 200 defenders were confronted by many thousands of Turks they sensibly left peaceably without resistance.
We set off for a bay with the exotic name of Amazon Creek about 25 miles East. We had a brisk 20-25 knot wind on our starboard quarter with a 2 m following sea so Ian & Patsy found their sea legs pretty quickly. As happens, the creek did not meet expectations and the wind was funneling in there so we moved to a bay called Bayuk Cati. Here we had a great first night. We tied to shore in
2-3m deep clear water of 28d and not another boat in sight. We swam during daytime and after dinner by starlight. Another thing – not a mosquito or any flying insect to be seen and this seems common. Of course nothing in the water to worry you either. It was interesting to hear news from NZ and also of Ian & Patsy’s travels through Europe prior to joining us. The next day we cruised to a large bay with many small coves called Degirmen Buku. We secured ourselves to shore at a cove called Okluk where several tavernas are located and had a great meal ashore at a restaurant which had no menus but displayed options in a refrigerated display case which an unexpectedly dignified maitre de explained.
On Sunday 12th we cruised a short distance to Sehir Adalari - the Snake & Castle Islands. Here we anchored in a lagoon surrounded by 3 islands and the mainland but which was still open to the NW so until sundown we had quite a chop coming through the bay. This island group has considerable historical interest and some ruins to explore. Only 50 metres from the boat was the underwater remains of the old jetty and I snorkeled around there and was able to see the remains of quite a lot of pottery jars fused into the stone of the jetty. The area was originally part of the Rhodian confederacy and then occupied by the Romans in 129 BC. You can still see the remains of a theatre which held 5,000 people, various temples, houses, tombs, defensive walls etc.
On Castle Island is a once beautiful sandy beach about 50 metres wide with clear blue water. I say “once beautiful” because now there are hordes of day trippers who come over by ferry from the mainland and invade the surrounds with their numbers, deck chairs, umbrellas, loud disco music and ice cream stalls. The sandy beach itself is deserted though as its fenced off from the public with a security guard in a tower at each end to ensure nobody goes on it. This beach is composed of sand imported by galleys from Egypt by Cleopatra so that she could enjoy the beach during her time here with Mark Anthony.
The sand has been analysed by one Professor Tom Goedike and confirmed as being not of local origin but as coming from North Africa. Amazing to think of the effort which would have been expended to bring over many hundreds of tonnes of sand ! That evening we saw a 62 ft catamaran flying the Australian flag so made ourselves known and later went over for a few beers.
The cat is fantastic – built in Poland and sailed to the Med by the owners Roy & Janice - South Africans who had emigrated to Brisbane.
On Monday we went back to Degirmen Buku and anchored off a cove called English Harbour, so named because during WW 2 it was used by the English Special Boat Squadron (SBS) as a base of operations. The SBS was a marine version of the SAS and mostly used local caiques for their operations.
There is a book about them called “Improvise & Dare” by John Guard which would be a good read. We had a few drinks ashore and had some funny times with language. Patsy had a glass of white wine and Ian was trying to find out from the waiter what type of wine it was. Ian got into more and more trouble and eventually the waiter bought another full bottle which he thought Ian had ordered. Needless to say we did manage to polish it off. You have some funny situations and they are all the more enjoyable with 4 of you.
On Tuesday we headed for Cokertme (where we previously went to with Sharon & Doug) and Ian & Patsy were able to see the carpet making and enjoy the traditional café including a look into the very traditional kitchen.
While we were there someone managed to set a rug on fire and we saw a lady running across the yard with a burning rug which got thrown into a water trough. That night we were well looked after by Hassan, Mayot and the team at the restaurant and enjoyed the live music.
Wednesday 15th came all too soon and it was time for Ian & Patsy to depart by Dolmus (bus) back to Bodrum about 1 hour away, but not before we saw quite a few fish swimming around Envoy. There were fish which looked like Piper being stalked by large fish about the size of mullet.
It was great to have Ian & Patsy aboard - they are real “water babies” and a lot of fun.
As I write this we are again anchored off English Harbour which has turned out to be a favourite area. We’re going to stay around here until next Monday 20th when we have Steve & Jane Wilson from Christchurch joining us, followed by Amy on Saturday 25th. Then we are going to head South West in the direction of Antalya to meet Brian & Carol Restieaux somewhere around there and enjoy a cruise with them back to Marmaris. We are currently thinking that we will winter over on the marina in Marmaris or somewhere nearby from mid November.

Miles covered 2298 in 162 days on board with 454 engine hours.

Technical: all going well, touch wood !
Gas bottles are an issue over here. When we bought Envoy she had 2 large bottles suitable only for USA plus 2 supposedly suitable for Europe.
However we were unable to get the European ones filled in Italy.
These bottles take up considerable storage space measuring about 2 ft high and 1 ft in diameter so we tossed out the USA bottles and bought 2 bottles suitable for Italy. We found these could be refilled in Greece but not in Turkey.
Also the “European” ones it turns out are Spanish. So here in Turkey we had to buy an additional 2 gas bottles and we now have 6 on board hopefully suitable for most parts of the Med.
I have just completed oil changes on the main engine, wing engine and Genset. On Envoy this is quite easy and there is a reversing oil change pump with a manifold which can connect the pump to any of the 3 engines.
It’s a simple matter of removing the old oil filter, pumping out the old oil, fitting the new filter, pumping in most of the new oil and then fine tuning the oil level against the dipstick.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cruising in Turkey

Well we are back “on line” again. Thought we had a computer problem but saw Vodafone in Bodrum today and we had simply used all our prepay on the SIM card – probably due to downloading photos. Incidentally Vodafone coverage is great here and there’s hardly a bay where you can’t get coverage booming in.
My last update mentioned the cloudless days – well since then we’ve had several days with a bit of cloud so I spoke too soon. When describing weather, the degree of cloud cover is described as “eighths” – you look at the sky, roughly divide the area into 8 and say how many of those bits of sky have cloud.
So we had one to two eighths of cloud the for a few days but now its back to cloudless – I’m sure you’all back in NZ will feel really sorry for us ! A feature of Turkey is their amazing nationalism expressed in flags of Turkey everywhere – on mountains, trees, buildings and of course boats. Even the smallest dinghy or tender will have a Turkish flag.
Another thing we’ve found in Greece & Turkey is an absence of mosquitoes and sand flies. Mostly you can sit outside without any problem. We did have some mossies in Piraeus and then for a few days we did have a lot of flies but in the main, flying insects are not an issue.
It also has been much less crowded than we expected. Most of the boats we currently see are Turkish and then most common (here in Turkey) would be Greek, German, British, French, Italian, American and then a smattering of Swiss, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish. In the while time we’ve been away we’ve only seen 3 NZ and about 7 Australian boats.
In Turkey there is a large number of what are called “Gulets”.
These are wooden two or three masted vessels of about 70 -120 feet which look like pirate ships and are charter vessels, usually having a whole mixture of people on board. Although they are yachts they rarely sail and their skippers have little regard for the common courtesies of boating. They travel everywhere at full throttle and worst of all are likely to anchor so close to you that you feel intimidated by their size and proximity and end up moving. Of course it is “their country” but they could show a little more regard for others particularly as the anchorages are rarely crowded and there’s plenty of room.
My brother Charles warned us of this and he was dead right.
After Sharon & Doug left us in Bodrum our next stop was Knidos – a beautifully sheltered small bay surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city. This city was established in 360BC and was known as the City of Aphrodite due to a naked statue of her done in the 4th C BC. Naked statues of men had been common but this was the first naked statue of a female. Although the existence of this statue is well proven its current location is unknown except for the plinth on which it once stood. Knidos has a considerable area of ruins and wandering around the ruins its easy to imagine what the city would have been like.
We then headed East to Datcha, a pleasant small town with a nice waterfront, plenty of tavernas and some shops. Actually Datca is where the founders of Knidos lived before they built Knidos. Little to see of historical interest here but nice just the same with North & South bays separated by a narrow isthmus. We departed Datca Mon 30th and saw dolphins leaping out of the water – what a shame we never saw any during Sharon & Doug’s stay.
That night we anchored at Kuruca Buku - nothing amazing but a nice sheltered bay with clear and clean water, trees coming down to the shoreline and nice tavernas ashore to check out. The following day we explored a long narrow inlet called Bencik but decided to keep going and evening found us further East at Kuyulu Buku which was in fact quite similar to the previous night’s anchorage. The next day was really interesting as we went into the inlet of Keci Buku.
This inlet has the ruins of a Byzantine fortress on an Island as you enter and the very nice Marti Marina to port. We spent a pleasant day and evening at anchor behind the island under the ruins.
Thurs 2nd we moved to Selimiye and the next day to Bozburun. The latter is very interesting as you pass through quite narrow channels which were once protected by fortifications – now just ruins. We had a good look around using our dinghy and the harbour frontage here is also really nice and we had a good explore followed by a drink or two in a nice taverna. We stayed the next night at a particularly nice place – Bozuk Buku. This harbour is only accessible by sea so is fairly quiet and is dominated by the ruins of a Hellenistic Fortress on the hilltop close to and overlooking the harbour. This fortress and associated ruins are what remains of ancient Loryma, an outpost of the Rhodian empire (the island of Rhodes can be seen in the distance). Beneath the fortress tucked into a small bay is a makeshift jetty and Ali Baba’s “restaurant”.
This is rustic in the extreme and Diane & I discussed how sadly such a venture could not exist in NZ. The jetty would never get planning consent and use of seabed consent and the structure would not pass Health & Safety regulations. The family owned business was fronted by a guy with the unlikely name of Barbarossa and is open all year around. We asked where they lived and he said their house was a few hundred metres behind the restaurant. Later Di and I walked up there and it was primitive in the extreme. They had a couple of shacks made out of driftwood, hessian and corrugated iron.
Envoy is an unusual vessel and always attracts a lot of attention in marinas, harbours or at anchor. People often cruise slowly around us in their dinghy looking at Envoy and sometimes asking questions. In this way we met a charming Turkish couple Ilkay & Meta. They invited us aboard their 17.5m planing launch powered by twin 750 hp Cats. This was supposed to be for a drink but turned out to be for dinner. Their launch is a well appointed boat and as Ilkay has retired and has some back problems he employs a permanent crewman. The cost is about NZ$1200 per month and he works for Ilkay full time, all year round helping on board and maintaining the vessel.
The use of paid crew is quite common here, even on relatively small vessels and you often see either Turkish or Sri Lankan crew. Ilkay mentioned that when he bought the boat in Italy he spent 3 months cruising it back to Turkey and used 40,000 litres of diesel. An interesting comparison is that we’ve spent nearly 5 months cruising and so far used about 4,000 litres with our single 143 hp. However lkay and Meta do get to travel at 25 knots or so.
Ilkay & Meta live in Istanbul and are well connected, Ilkay being the Chairman of Lloyds Turkish agent. Interestingly he mentioned they recently had Winston Peters at their home for dinner and that they found him to be very charming, urbane and interesting – a small world !
Sun 5th & Mon 6th we stayed in an unassuming bay called Kargi Koyu.
Nicely sheltered and we basically couldn’t be bothered to move so stayed two nights and did some cleaning up and maintenance (as well as plenty of swimming).
We are now back in Bodrum, anchored beneath St Peters Castle and getting organized to meet Ian & Patsy Ristrom on Friday.
In the last few days we’ve seen small yachts called “Tramp” (the name Brian gave to our Markline 700 when he bought her from us) and “Harmony” (the name of our Markline 800 when it was formerly owned by Frank).
I meant to mention before that around the Greek Islands you see a lot of outboard powered rigid inflatable boats, about 7-8m in length with very large canopies installed for sleeping under. People use these to go from bay to bay, mostly eating meals ashore in tavernas and just using the RIBs for travel and sleeping – looked like a great idea.

Miles covered 2040 in 143 days on board with 400 engine hours.

Technical: The navigation computer problem (cursor jumping around the screen) has been solved by my friend Peter Mott. He explained that the computer must be turned on before theGPS and not vice versa. Simple as that. Envoy has a cockpit canopy that we never got around to putting up.
Well we now have and what a difference – really cools down the cockpit and makes the area useable during the day – should have put this up weeks ago.