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Thursday, May 26, 2011

ENVOY CRUISES TO ALACATI

As I write this we’re cruising 50NM from the Samos Strait to Alicati, near Cesme. 50 miles in one day is a bit longer than our usual routine, and takes us about nine hours, but with Envoy on autopilot there’s nothing we need to do except keep a lookout, and do hourly engine-room checks. This will put us in the right area to meet our first guests, Morris and Gail on 2 June.
The Samos Strait is under a mile wide, and separates the Greek island of Samos from the Turkish mainland making it the closest point Turkey and Greece come together except for their land border near the Black Sea.
We started our journey this morning in still and misty conditions. The normally sparkling turquoise sea was as grey as the mist, making the horizon difficult to detect. So far since leaving Marmaris we’ve not used our paravane stabilisers at all, and again today the sea is glassy calm with the wind under two knots. A cruise ship – the Star Princess has just passed close by (photo to be posted shortly), and it’s wake provided a change from the flat sea. There are very few boats around, and the only other boats we’ve seen in three hours are two Greek fishing boats. All day yesterday, when we cruised 33NM we saw only Coastguard and Navy patrol boats. One of the Coastguard boats called us on VHF to check our name and destination.
The weather has still not settled into summer, and yesterday we even had a brief shower, but the temperature is now in the mid 20s and sea water 21d.
TECHNICAL
Our parts for the water maker have finally arrived in Marmaris, and the engineer is re-assembling our unit in the workshop today, and driving to Alicati tomorrow to meet us and install it. This will be very welcome, as it’s a bit tough on the body obtaining water using jerry cans, although to make it easier we’ve only been filling the 30L containers to 25L. If the water maker works OK we’ll definitely be celebrating!
Our Naiad stabiliser control system has now been tested by Naiad in Holland, and an engineer from Holland is going to meet us in Greece mid-July to get our Naiads operational again.
While anchored off Altinkum’s Didim Marina we got three problems rectified.
All last year we had occasional problems starting our Northern Lights generator. I assumed this was battery-related (as it was with our main Lugger engine), but this proved not to be the case, and this year the starting issue became more common. I checked all the obvious (to me) things like connections to the battery isolating switch and starter motor, but with no improvement, so got a diesel engineer to have a look. Within five minutes he went into the electrics inside a protective box, and found a relay had loose wiring, probably shaken loose with constant vibration. So this was an easy fix.
Our guest head – a Vacuuflush has been playing up again. The bowl did not always hold water, causing the vacuum pump to hunt, and the pump that sends waste into the holding tank had a failed piston and seal. This was all fixed OK too, mostly using spare parts we had on board.
The other job was simply a replacement of the faucet in the main head sink, as the hot water flow had reduced to a dribble.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed our hot water tank had signs of a very minor water leak. The water is heated either by the Lugger engine’s heat exchanger, or electrically using the generator or wing engine. I noticed the leak only occurred when running the Lugger. We belong to the Nordhavn Owners Group, where members exchange information about technical and other matters relating to Nordhavns. I put out an enquiry regarding our leak, and got a reply advising that the coolant level in the Lugger engine may be too low. I topped it up, and after about a week so far so good – the slight leak has gone. I don’t quite understand how this fixed the problem, but it did.
Log: 23 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 203NM cruised for 50 engine hours.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Relaxing ashore at Turk Buku



Checking our navigation on the MaxSea system. Envoy's position is the red blip on-screen


Diane doing her lifejacket drill


Envoy anchored in a quiet bay at Pirensun Koyu - note resorts in background


Camels coralled in a disused tennis court


Camels resting, awaiting riders at Camel Beach

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Envoy arrives at Didim

When starting cruising again we always make sure we do the basics like testing bilge pumps, man overboard drill and lifejacket drill. Everybody must know where to find their lifejacket, how to put it on and how to inflate it. It’s all too easy to think “we’ll never need these”, but I’ve seen too many unlikely situations happen to believe that.
I recall an incident one fine Saturday morning where a brand-new forty foot motor vessel was on her maiden voyage. Only about a mile from Auckland’s Half Moon Bay Marina she hit a well-marked rock, and was quickly awash to her gunwales. When we arrived on-scene the occupants were waist deep in water drinking beer, as if in some macabre celebration of their own incompetence, and without a lifejacket to be seen.
It’s warmed up during the last week to mid 20s, with sea water at 20 making swimming conditions pleasant. No more need for parkas and jeans.
We went ashore for a walk at Camel beach, near Bodrum, and like a lot of Turkish resort areas it’s pretty scruffy with poor quality, pot-holed roads, few footpaths, and badly maintained properties. Although they provide plenty of rubbish bins here, nobody seems to use them as the roadsides, grassy areas and beaches are strewn with litter.
In some areas the Turks have over-provided facilities in expectation of tourist numbers that haven’t materialised, and some resorts have been mothballed. Here at Camel Beach is one of those, complete with a large fenced-off area that originally was four tennis courts. Now the bar and dressing rooms are locked up, and the courts are overgrown and now used for corralling the camels! I’m sure this is not what the original architects had in mind!
We spent a few days cruising around the north side of the Bodrum peninsula and today we’re heading further north to Didim. Still no news of our water maker parts arriving.
We mostly cruise at about 1400-1500 rpm on our Lugger, 6 cylinder, 143hp, 6.8L, normally aspirated (i.e, non turbo’d) diesel engine, and this gives us about 6 knots with a fuel economy of about 8L/hr. If our paravane stabilisers are in use our speed decreases about 10%. This rpm range (although commonly also used by other owners to achieve good fuel economy) is a bit low, as the engine is under-loaded and doesn’t reach full operating temperature. It’s recommended (in Passagemaker) that diesel engines be run at about 75% of max rpm for 75% of the time. Failing this it is recommended that the engine be run at about 75% of max rpm for at least half an hour after reaching normal temperature, and again for at least half an hour one hour before switching the engine off. Running for periods at higher rpm, and consequent higher temperatures, reduces soot & carbon build-up, keeps the injectors cleaner and reduces condensation within the engine. Incidentally for this reason it’s not a good idea to run your engine for a few minutes when going down to your boat on the marina during periods of non use. It’s no problem for a diesel engine to be left unused for several months at a time with clean oil.
So why am I saying all this? Because on our cruise towards Bodrum we increased the rpm to 1800rpm, and above 1700rpm felt some heavy vibration – everything on board was rattling. At the same time the autopilot went a bit haywire, and we started going off course about 20d from side to side, leaving an “S”-shaped wake. As mentioned in a previous post we checked the engine vibration levels before leaving Marmaris and they were great - I mean virtually no vibration at any rpm setting. When we reduced rpm to about 1500 again all was OK. After a couple of days at anchor near Bodrum sitting out a gale warning we motored to anchor off Bodrum, and this time there was no vibration at higher rpm at all, and the autopilot was fine too. I can only guess that when we encountered the vibration there was something like a plastic bag or piece of fishing net on the propeller or rudder, and when we anchored it dropped off. Another one of life’s unsolved mysteries.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FOLLOW BY EMAIL added to Blog

We’ve added this blogger feature, so now by entering your email address you can receive all future blog updates by email, without the need to look up the blog.
Cool eh!

ENVOY HEADS NORTH-WEST UP THE COAST OF TURKEY

We left Marmaris on 4 May and headed to Bozburun for a few days, where the village is pleasant, and there’s good shelter – needed as there was a Gale Warning of Force 6-8 winds. In our location the wind didn’t get above about 23 knots, and we spent some time cleaning up Envoy from the marina dust, and moving into cruising mode.
The weather still hasn’t settled yet, currently low 20s, cloudy and with cool winds. We’ve started daily swimming, but in a chilly 19d.
Nearby is the Greek island of Simi. Cruising boats have been known to call there without checking out of Turkey to buy bacon, pork, ham, nice cheeses & yoghurts - all of which hard to get in Turkey, plus spirits and wines where there is a larger and cheaper selection.
We met Alan & Jean Ward from the NZ yacht Tuatara. They are a retired couple from Hamilton living their dream and doing a westward circumnavigation. They plan to return to NZ end of 2013, and then circumnavigate NZ.
We also met some Australian friends, Simon & Bronwn, who are visiting friends Rob & Kerry on their yacht Pablo Nuruda. Rob & Kerry have spent nearly 10 years cruising the Med, and are now on their way back to Australia via the Atlantic. We first met them in Melbourne through Simon & Bronwyn before we bought Envoy, and they provided a lot of useful information about the cruising life. Up to now we haven’t carried charts for navigation, relying solely on our electronics, but we came to a good arrangement with Kerry to buy her charts of Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Italy & France. It’s always a good back-up to have a paper chart in front of you (see Technical).
Yesterday we did a nine hour cruise, and anchored off Baglar Koyu, otherwise known as Camel Beach – and yes there are two camels on the beach. This is about five miles west of Bodrum. From here we just keep heading NW.
TECHNICAL
There’s “never a dull moment” on this subject.
Naiad have been in touch re the stabilisers, suggesting they may send an experienced Naiad engineer from Holland to meet us in Greece in July to install the new control box and calibrate the system, so this sounds promising.
I’m going to need to replace the pump that supplies sea water to cool the Naiad hydraulics as the current one is leaking. Fortunately we can fit our spare, and can then get the replaced one rebuilt.
We’ve had a little fresh water in the bilges and seem to have a slow water leak in our aft fresh water tank. Last year we replaced our two forward tanks, but not this one, which is located under the cabin sole in our sleeping cabin. I’m not greatly concerned, as the leak is slow so we can still use the tank, but next winter we’re probably going to need to repair or replace it. Envoy is 21 years old, and now we’ve had problems with all three water tanks, and one of the four diesel tanks.
We’re expecting to hear about water maker parts any day.
On leaving Marmaris I noticed our Northstar GPS wasn’t working properly. This is one of three GPS units that can supply data to our MaxSea laptop-based navigation system. I think the problem is antenna-related, and checking this with Northstar.
A couple of days ago I had problems with our Raystar GPS – it would not provide position information to the MaxSea. After thinking on this for a couple of days I found that a toggle switch that should be in the DOWN position had been accidentally flicked to the UP position, and when this was corrected all was OK.
Our current thinking is that we’d like to fix the Northstar, but also buy a separate GPS/Plotter, so that we have a totally separate system to the MaxSea. Ideally we’d like to find a portable GPS/Plotter that plugs into a 12V power supply, and interfaces with a laptop (to give us a larger screen size) - if anyone can recommend one please do so. Now we have the charts too if all else fails, and can use one of our three still-working GPS units to give us a lat/long to plot on the chart.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

ENVOY LEAVES MARMARIS MARINA

We’ve just had a great three days with our daughter Amy, who flew in from London to be with us for my birthday (I’m counting backwards now!). Amy will join us again in August for a week. While Amy was here we got a rental car, and used the opportunity to stock Envoy up with groceries etc. The car was cheap at L50 per day (about NZ$42), but petrol is so expensive here that the 1300cc car cost L190 (about NZ$158) to fill up with 45L of petrol.
It’s getting a little warmer – now in the low 20s, but the weather hasn’t settled, and lots of boats have delayed their departure because of that. This has led to a shortage of berths in the marina, and the travel lift is now only launching boats that have an imminent departure date – making quite a few people p’d off.
Tomorrow we do some final shopping, and leave the marina on the start of our 2011 cruise – heading north to meet our first guests Morris & Gail somewhere near Izmir.
TECHNICAL
Today we had a sea trial with a couple of engineers aboard from Demir Marine. This is the very first time we’ve had engineers aboard Envoy under way. The objective was to ensure they were happy with the alignment of the prop shaft with the gearbox – we don’t want a repeat of last year’s gearbox problems. Anyhow Yulmaz is a competent engineer, and he said there was very little vibration, and all is good – so here’s hoping he’s right!
We’ve had no progress with the Naiad stabilisers. The new electronic control system was installed, but the hydraulic system would not centre the fins, and after several hours of experimentation I said “enough is enough”. I spoke with Naiad USA, and they said they would never get this kind of work done except by a factory-trained electrician. We had a competent, and well meaning electrician who’d never worked on Naiads before, and had little information supplied to him. This is not a major issue as last year we cruised safely and comfortably relying on our simple paravane stabilization system, and we’ll do the same this year. The new control system was going to cost over US$4,000 so I just said disconnect it, take it out, and when we can get a factory-trained electronics person to install it, and then if it works, we’ll pay for it.
The relay for the inverter I mentioned in the last post didn’t work – it couldn’t take the high current the inverter puts out. Actually all I wanted was the present isolator switch to be moved from under our bed, where it is obviously hard to access, to the outside of the bed, where I could access it. The electrician recommended the relay – who am I to disagree? Anyway his idea didn’t work so we’re back to my idea which is now working fine.