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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Amy’s and Steve & Jane Wilson’s visit

We had planned to enter Dalyan harbour for the period of Amy’s visit, and for Steve & Jane’s arrival, but at the last moment were advised there was no room. It’s preferable to be in a harbour when leaving Envoy for several hours at a time, but we anchored in the picturesque bay off the village of Ildir where there is reasonable shelter, water available from a hose at a shore-side hotel, and a dolmus (bus) to Cesme.
The dolmus network is very interesting. They use mini-buses seating about 15, with standing room for about another 10. You can hail them down to get on, and they will drop you off anywhere along their route. There are no tickets – you just pay cash to the driver, a typical fare for a 30 min ride being about $2.50. From the remote village of Ildir there was an hourly service to the regional town of Cesme
We needed to go into Cesme to get a rental car to pick up Amy from Izmir airport. While waiting about 45 minutes for the dolmus a waiter from a nearby taverna brought us out a couple of chairs and a table, then a coffee and a pastry to enjoy during our wait. He refused payment, saying it was “Turkish hospitality” - this is typical of the kindness we encounter from Turkish people.
Driving to Izmir we encountered very heavy rain, and partial flooding of the autobahn. Izmir is a large city with a population of 2.25m, but the autobahn took us directly to the airport. By the time we got back to the boat at 1am the rain had eased, though the RIB was half-full of water. Amy’s visit was absolutely great, and the four days went in a blur. Although the guys at the hotel were helpful with giving us water, their eyes just about popped when Amy came ashore to help with the water, and from then they couldn’t do enough for us. With Amy we had swims, caught up on family conversation, dined well, enjoyed some wines, further explored Cesme, Alicati & Sigacik using the rental car. In Sigacik we were able to visit the weekly market, and then had a great lunch at a small & typical taverna with traditional kebabs. Then all too soon it was time to take Amy back to Izmir airport. When we left Envoy there was torrential rain, so we had to get our full wet weather gear on, and put Amy’s bag in a plastic rubbish sack to keep it dry. This was never going to be a sad farewell as we’ll see Amy in just a few weeks time for Christmas.
After seeing Amy off we picked up Steve & Jane Wilson. It was still raining heavily as we drove back to Ildir, but fortunately eased off while we took the RIB out to Envoy.
As we chatted after dinner the wind picked up, and we had a severe electrical storm with copious thunder and lighting. The wind increased unexpectedly to mid-30 knots with gusts into the low 50s, and Envoy started to drag her anchor. Dragging is unusual as I mentioned in the last posting, and I think this time was due to quite soft mud on the bottom in Ildir, probably combined with only having about 50m of chain out in 8m of depth; for a blow of 40kn+, I would normally put out around 70-80m. Quickly Envoy moved a couple of hundred metres, from 8m to 18m depth, and as the fetch increased the choppy waves grew to over a metre. The heavy rain turned to hail and Steve’s first night back on board (Steve & Jane joined us in 2007) was partially spent getting soaked to the skin on the foredeck operating the anchor winch while I used the engine to take the strain off the anchor chain. Our navigation computer chose this time to play up, and with the poor visibility I had to use radar to get back into a good anchoring position. That night the wind came from all points of the compass, sometimes 5 knots, and sometimes 35, requiring me to maintain anchor watch for a good part of the night – by far the worst night we’ve had during this year. It wasn’t much of a first night for Steve & Jane, but the following day the weather cleared, and mostly stayed that way for the rest of their visit.
We wanted to leave Envoy for a day to go to Ephesus, so moved to a more secure anchorage at Sifne - a larger, shallower bay with more swinging room. Ephesus was great, and a “must-see” for people visiting Turkey. We’d been advised to use a guide to fully explain what we were seeing, and this proved to be very worthwhile for an investment of L90 (about $80). Our guide was a mine of information, presented in a charming manner – his favorite word seemed to be “exactly”, which he used every time one of us made a comment.
I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the ancient ruins you see are little more than piles of rubble, however Ephesus has been quite well preserved. Ephesus was a prosperous city by 600BC, and later became the capital for the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus then had a population of 250,000, but declined after 600AD, when the harbour had fully silted making sea access no longer possible. Nowadays Ephesus is about eight miles from the coast. Ephesus also features the largest ancient Great Theatre – built by the Romans in the 1st century, capable of seating 25,000 people, and still used for performances.
We wanted to take Steve & Jane to Sigacik, and on the way anchored two nights in Alicanti. Here we had yet another gale warning - not as serious as the last one, but the wind shifted from S to N so we had to re-anchor. When we pulled up our anchor, we had a fishing net tangled in the anchor chain, and I had no hesitation in cutting it free our – it is easy to get a fishing net tangled in your propeller.
We had a great farewell dinner in Sigacik; we’ve mentioned before about the Turkish sense of humour – well; we were correctly using the word “Tessekur Ederim” for “thank you”, when the maitre de said we could use a shorter word “ashkim”. So whenever our young waiter brought food or drink we said “ashkim”. Then we noticed some of the other staff and guests were chuckling away. Later the maitre de explained he’d been pulling our leg and “ashkim” actually means “my beloved”.
We had a great time with Steve & Jane who left very early on a balmy morning in complete contrast to their baptism of fire arrival.
We’ll post some photos with Amy and Steve & Jane in a day or two.
We have now moved further south to Akbuk Limani, near Didim, and not far north of Bodrum. During the trip we had one passage of eight hours, covering about 45NM. This was a passage into a southerly wind of 15-20kn, putting up seas of about 1.5m. Apart from our passage to Rhodes in June we have yet to make one with a following sea! A pod of dolphins joined us and swam alongside for 15 minutes or so, jumping and cavorting.
Approaching the Samos Channel (separating mainland Turkey from the Greek Is of Samos) we encountered a classic katabatic wind with thick clouds peeling down from the tops of the mountains on the Turkish coast. The wind came up to over 40kn blowing water off the sea surface and kicking up a 1.5m “washing machine” chop for about 30 minutes until we cleared the channel.
Yesterday we had another gale warning – which is still valid, although we are on the fringes of the gale area with winds in our position only up to high 20s. It looks like a chane to a period of light northerlies within a day or two.
On Monday we meet our last guest – Chris O’Brien, who is cruising to Marmaris with us for two weeks.
Days aboard Envoy this trip: 206
Engine hours and distance this trip: 319hrs, 1,482NM
Technical: Nothing much to report. The C-Map on our navigation computer had a problem – the on-screen chart was somehow replaced by large cubes (probably I accidentally activated a Fn key). Steve managed to find a fix for this within the Display function. We have a spare C-Map program loaded onto a different laptop, and although the chart displays fine, the gps position icon doesn’t show. I’ll investigate further when Chris is here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Activities up to 14 October

I had an email from a business friend – Owen Embling, saying he thought the photos on the blog were great, so I wanted to mention that Diane takes all the photos, and does the first edit, then we sit together and decide what photos to put on the blog. These are generally the same photos as get published in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine with our regular articles.
Turkey is a wonderful country, and we in NZ could learn a lot from the Turks. People smile and laugh a lot, and are courteous to each other – and to visitors. You never see “threatening-looking” people or drunken idiots around, and people go about their daily business without fear of being mugged or bothered. Although the driving is atrocious, there is no road rage or people giving the fingers etc, everything is just taken in good humour. Yes NZ could learn a lot. One negative though is the considerable litter everywhere (similar in Greece), they are not as “green”, as we are in NZ.
While in Gerence Koyu we received a gale warning of Force 7 NE winds. Weather patterns and forecasts are very important when you’re living on a boat, so we monitor the weather in four different ways;
- by what we can see happening “Mark 1 eyeball”
- listening to Greek and Turkish VHF English weather bulletins
- on the internet – checking four main sites
- by Navtex – which receives text messages put out by Coast Radio Stations (we get about 20 per day).
We decided to head back to Eskifoca where there is good shelter from the wind, no swell coming into the bay, and plenty of room. We anchored in 7m with 50m of chain out, but the gale was both short-lived and mild with the strongest gusts around 33kn. Of course the wind would have been much stronger in open waters. This was more like what in NZ we call a “strong wind warning”, issued when gusts are likely to exceed 33kn. An actual gale on the Beaufort Scale requires mean winds in the range 34-47kn, bearing in mind gusts can be around 40% greater than the mean wind speed. At those levels “mean” is the right word!
It is always a bit daunting in gales anchored during night time; the wind seems to howl more, and you obviously can’t see what’s happening so easily. Envoy has good ground tackle – a 40kg Delta anchor with 120m of 9.5mm BBB chain, and very rarely drags, but we do need to be cautious of major wind direction shifts, and we’ve seen these happen during gales. We always set the audible Anchor Alarm on the GPS at 0.03NM, which is 55m. For non-boaties this means if Envoy moves more than 55m from where we anchored, the alarm sounds. In strong winds anchored boats do move around a bit, and if we set the alarm the next step down at 0.02NM, or 37m, it goes off too frequently. We can’t easily hear the alarm in our cabin below, so we bought a Philips baby monitor, and we put the transmitter (the baby end) near the GPS, and the receiver alongside our bed. This works really well, and saves me getting up several times during the night to check that all is OK. However in severe conditions (40 knots+), or in the rare case we are close to other boats in strong winds I doze up in the Pilothouse, where I can keep an eye on the situation.
Estifoca is an ancient town, founded around 600BC by Phocaeans, and now a quaint village. I already mentioned this is where the Commandos have their training centre. Naturally Estifoca has a castle, and this one was originally built by the Byzantines, and subsequently maintained by Genoese, then Ottoman Turks.
We left Estifoca on 10th and cruised back to Ildir. We had arranged to go into the Dalyan Harbour for a few days while we picked up Amy, but on arrival there were told there was no room (despite a booking). So we stayed at Ildir.
In a couple of days I’ll do a post about Amy’s visit and Steve & Jane’s visit, including a gale on the night Steve & Jane arrived – when Envoy did drift!
Technical: Again nothing much to report, so I’m going to talk about bilges.
This won’t interest everyone, in fact probably no one!
All leaking liquids end up in a boat’s bilges. This includes:
1. Seawater - from the Lugger prop shaft stuffing box (intentional), from the Yanmar “dripless” prop shaft, and from any leaks in seacocks, through hulls, sea water hoses, the bow thruster or stabilizer seals. Also in heavy sea conditions a little spray can end up in the bilges.
2. Fresh water – from the Fridge/Freezer compressor (intentional), from the Aircon compressors (intentional although rarely used), from any leaking fresh water tanks, hoses or hose connections, or from an engine cooling system. Note – if there is a leak from the fresh water plumbing system we can tell as the fresh water pump will operate to maintain pressure, if an engine cooling system is leaking we can tell from daily checks of water levels. Also when it rains very heavily some rainwater ends up in the bilge.
3. Sewage – from the toilets, holding tanks, hoses or hose connections if they leaked (not happened so far)
4. Oil – any leakage from the three engines, two gearboxes, windlass, or watermaker
5. Hydraulic fluid – any leakage from the steering system or stabilizers (not happened so far)
6. Fuel – if a fuel tank or hose or connection were to leak (not happened so far)
Envoy has five bilge compartments, one forward - housing the bow thruster and various sea water pumps, one in the aft section of the Guest Cabin, one under the main Lugger engine, one aft of the engine, and one further aft again under the prop shaft. They are connected by a limber hole running the length of the vessel, and water will eventually make its way to the deepest bilge – aft of the engine.
In 2007 Envoy had a “wet bilge system”, and always had about 100mm of water in the bilges, which we pumped out daily to keep the level constant. This was mostly due to seawater coming in the Lugger prop shaft gland as intended. But the problem was you could never tell if the water in the bilge was sea or fresh water, whether it was supposed to be there or not, or the source of the water.
This year we’ve gone to a “dry bilge system”; we’re using containers to collect the water from the prop shafts and the Aircon, and the Fridge/Freezer compressor so the bilges are always dry, and this means if you see water or other fluid in there you know there is some issue. All the bilges have an old towel in them so I can tell if there is any leakage into that particular bilge. I check the bilges daily at anchor, and hourly under way, and if there is water there (which is very rare) I can check if it’s fresh or salt, and much more easily resolve any problem. Also this keeps the three bilge pump inlets free of contamination, and makes it easier to see any thing that drops into the bilge, like a nut or bolt (often an early portent of a pending problem).
So to give a practical example, a few nights ago we heard the fresh water pump activate for a few seconds several times. As no taps had been left dripping this indicates a fresh water leak. When I did my engine room check I found about 2mm of water in the bilge aft of the engine. A taste test found it was fresh – that’s a good start, and it tied in with the fresh water pump running. Going to the forward bilge I found the towel in the bilge was wet – so the leak is into there. I check all hoses in the area, and found a slightly loose hose clamp on the supply to the Guest sink. Tighten it, observe and check, and now all OK.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Map of Envoy's Travels

This is a reminder that if you go the bottom of the right hand column, and click on "Map of Envoy's Travels" you will see a map of where Envoy is, and all the places we've been to. When you get to the map you can zoom in to see the places in minute detail using the + and - buttons, and use the directional arrows to navigate around the map. Point to a blue marker to get some commentary, especially concerning visitors we've had. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of places on the right hand side of the map to be able to see where we are now. This is wonderful technology, and I want to ensure all our blog readers are aware of it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Gulf of Izmir

We now have only five weeks cruising left before we go back into Marmaris marina for the winter. Quite suddenly about two weeks ago the temperature dropped to low 20s day time, and high teens at night. Checking the log for 2007 I see that the same timing happened then. The days are getting shorter, and the sea temp has dropped to 22d, but we’re still swimming every day. We had a couple of showery days in late September, but none since. Many of the tavernas are now shut for winter, and the remaining ones will close by end of October, to open 1 May.
After Don & Kerrin left, we spent a few days anchored off Dalyankoy before heading further north. I found a water tap ashore and took seven empty 30L drums ashore to fill. Believe me this is !*&?#% hard work (read “jolly” hard), as 30L weighs 30kg. I loaded the drums aboard Envoy, and started to siphon water into one of our tanks when shock horror – the water tasted salty (I get a taste when I stat sucking the water through the siphon). All the effort was wasted, and I’d filled 7 drums with salt water, so I had to empty them all and find a new source of water the next day in Dalyan harbour. Lesson: always taste the water first.
After leaving Dalyankoy we went to the small quaint village of Ildir, previously Greek until all Greeks were relocated in 1922. Most of the really attractive Turkish villages are where Greeks once lived. There are still a lot of fish farms around the area, and a lot of people line fishing from small boats.
We cruised up, and across the top of the Karaburun Peninsula to Eskifoca in the Gulf of Izmir. We had a NE wind up to 30 knots with short breaking seas up to 2m on our port bow throwing up considerable spray, but we were nice and dry in the pilothouse listening to music, and drinking tea as we caught up with our emails.
When we arrived off Eskifoca a Coastguard helicopter buzzed us again, just like a few weeks ago. This one called us on VHF 16 and asked us “what we were towing in the water”. We explained about our stabilizers and the CG seemed happy, but about 15 minutes later a CG RIB approached us. As we headed to our anchorage they circled us and took some video camera footage. After our anchor was down they came alongside and two officers came aboard. They were perfectly friendly, and after I explained about our stabilizers, and raised one of the birds from the water for them to see they happily departed.
Eskifoca is a great spot; it has a Genoese castle, and like Ildir narrow cobbled lanes and many architectural remnants of the former Greek residents. It’s also a military town with a major Commando training centre for the “blue berets”, and immediately behind Ildir is some rugged hill country the army uses for assault training. All day and into the night you can hear small arms fire as the soldiers do their target practice.
We couldn’t find a water supply on the quayside – the taps were all locked, so I asked a fisherman about water. He couldn’t speak English but went off to find someone who could (sort of). I explained that I wanted to bring some containers ashore and get 300L of water, and they wanted to charge me L50 – about $50. The price for bulk water is about $0.50 per tonne, and this was my first experience of a Turk trying to overcharge. They were friendly, and I offered L5 before we agreed on L20 – still a rip off, but what’s twenty bucks to replenish your water supply. They were baiting a 300 hook long-line, and said on average they land about 5kg of fish per setting of the line. Back home we’d be disappointed with a catch like that on our 20 hook long-line. Envoy has intermittently towed a lure around, and had a couple of strikes but nothing caught so far.
We cruised south down the Gulf of Izmir. Parts of the Gulf are a military zone and a warship was patrolling around two islands which boats are not allowed to approach.
We anchored in a sheltered bay called Gerence Koyu, and this time we didn’t have our paravanes out. Small fishing boats passed close to us, and gave us friendly waves as they came in and out of the bay. About two hours later a Coastguard RIB came into the bay, circled us taking photos, returned our wave, and then roared off. Envoy must be the most photographed boat in Turkey.
There are very few cruising boats around, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve only seen three yachts.
Amy arrives next Thursday, and we plan to cruise south back to Dalyan to meet her. From here back to Marmaris the route is all south and east, so we’ll be heading into slightly warmer weather with the wind and seas behind us.
Days aboard Envoy this trip: 185
Engine hours and distance this trip: 273hrs, 1,280NM
Technical: Again nothing much to report, in fact since leaving Marmaris 1 June we’ve only had one major issue – the gearbox. When we get back to Marmaris we have to get the HRO watermaker and the Naiad hydraulic stabilizers working again. I’ve checked with the service guys, and the parts will be there.
We now lift our smaller RIB out of the water suspended against our stern using the boom winch. This RIB only weighs about 50kg all up, so there’s no strain on the boom or winch, and it’s a big advantage to keep the RIB out of the water overnight and when cruising as opposed to lifting it onto the foredeck. Our friends Steve & Jane Wilson arrive in a couple of weeks, and Steve’s an engineer so I’ll get his help working out whether it’s safe to lift our larger (350kg) RIB out the same way.