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Sunday, June 26, 2011

We load supplies for Morris & Gail's visit in Foca. Groceries are about the same price in Turkey as in NZ. A separate trolley contained the beer and wine!

Morris buying fruit in Foca, Turkey where fruit is varied, fresh & cheap

Photos from Turkey

Ship at the end of its life awaiting break up for scrap. In the background are ships ashore

Morris trying to catch fish by trolling - no luck, but you've gotta try

Fisherman selling his wares in Candarli. Thousands of commercial fishing boats venture out daily in the Med

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Castle being renovated at Candarli

Morris, Gail & Laurie having a cooling ale in Candarli

Four out of the five boats at anchor in Foca are from NZ

Eating the small fish Morris bought

Tanker refuelling Envoy with 750 litres of diesel at Mytilini

Gail & Diane enjoying natural hot pool at Bademli Limani

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


From Ayvalik in Turkey it’s only about 20NM to Mitilini on the Greek island of Lesvos, and here we cleared-in using our friends from A1 Yachting as agents. A Greek Transit Log costs Euro 100, and we also had to pay Euro 30 to the Port Police, Euro 30 to Immigration and Euro 165 to A1. We moored stern-to the town quay which is both atmospheric and supposedly cheap at about Euro 7 per night. A1 charged us Euro 48 for three days, and when I queried this they said the extra Euro 27 was paid as a tip to ensure we obtained a berth. This was strange as there were plenty of berths. We were also charged a hefty Euro 50 for “mooring assistance” for ten minutes assistance on arrival, and none on departure.
One of Mitilini’s main roads passes along the quay so we had lots of noisy motor scooters and considerable pedestrian traffic close-by. Several Australians of Greek descent living in Lesvos noticed our NZ flag, and stopped to say hi to us, and give us tips about things to see.
Lesvos is a beautiful, largely unspoiled island, and of course is famous for being where lesbianism was originated by the poet Sappho in about 600BC. We had read that lesbians from around the world converge on Lesvos, like Muslims to Mecca, and this was very apparent.
In Mitilini we bought our first diesel of the year paying Euro 1.48 (about NZ$2.69) per litre for 750 litres. There is no fuel dock, so the diesel gets delivered by tanker.
We anchored off a small village called Tsonia, and all was peaceful until about midnight when the taverna ashore started playing really high volume music, which lasted until 4am. The Greeks sure know how to party, and we now know a few more Greek songs.
We moved to Sigri, anchoring in a bay overlooked by the picturesque remains of an 18th century Ottoman castle. Sigri is famous for its Natural History Museum, and displays of ancient petrified tree trunks. We found that in prehistoric times, Greece, the Greek islands, and Turkey were all joined to Africa, and even after they separated African mammals roamed the islands. About 20 million years ago intense volcanic activity took place on Lesvos, decimating the forests and eternally preserving many of the tree trunks.
In Sigri there was a very slight swell in our anchorage, so we were able to demonstrate our “flopper-stoppers” to Morris & Gail – it is remarkable how they cushion the rolling motion.
At this stage Diane & I had cruised nearly 500NM, and the sea conditions had so far been so calm that we’d not needed to deploy our paravane stabilisers. This changed when we cruised from Sigri to Mithimna in a 20 knot wind and approximately 1.5m choppy sea. Envoy was going well heading into the seas at an angle of about 30 degrees, but when we needed to change our course and Envoy became parallel with the waves we rolled quite severely, and certainly needed the stabilisers. While Morris held Envoy’s bow to the waves Diane and I winched the “birds” over. They took effect immediately and made for a comfortable trip.
Mithimna is an absolute gem of a harbour, with loads of character, interesting cafes and shops, and of course the inevitable hill-top castle. Most of these castles are on strategic hills that have been fortified for thousands of years, with new civilizations adding to them over time. The fortress of Mithimna is known to have been restored by the Genoese in the 1370s, and taken over by the Ottomans in the late 15th century.
There was no safe anchorage nearby so we berthed in the harbour for a cost of Euro 6.50 per day – with no “mooring assistance charges”. A local stray cat befriended us, and was probably the luckiest cat in Mithimna after Diane had fed it a few times.
Morris & Gil were departing from Mitilini, about 90 minutes drive from Mithimna, so Morris hired a rental car for the last day, and we toured the island and left Morris & Gail to catch the ferry. There are many beautiful mountain villages in Lesvos’s interior, and this made a perfect end to Morris and Gail’s stay.
The next day we made an early start for the 35NM cruise NW to Limnos –the island of the Amazon warriors - to meet Ian & Patsy. The forecast was for 20 knot NE winds so we started off with our stabilisers deployed, and this proved to be a good decision as we had 1.5-2m breaking seas on our beam most of the way handled comfortably. We had to pass across the track used by ships coming from or going to the Dardanelles – to Istanbul and the Black Sea. We monitored them closely on radar, and in one case had to alter course to avoid a tanker approaching us from starboard, requiring us to give way.
Our fresh water system has a problem – the water flow suddenly reduced by about half. We’re working through this, and suspect there’s a partial blockage between the water tanks and the 12V pump. We don’t think it’s a pump problem as we can select either of two identical pumps, and the problem is the same with both of them.
LOG (to 15/6/11): 43 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 554NM cruised for 117 engine hours.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This post covers events up to 5 June, and we’ll post relevant photos within a day or two.
Summer is doing it’s best to arrive, and although the weather hasn’t settled we’ve had temperatures in the mid 20s to low 30s, with the sea mostly about 22d but up to 25d.
We met Morris and Gail, our first visitors for 2011, in the Turkish town of Foca. Our NZ friends Bruce & Leslie arrived there aboard Midi, and amazingly there were also two other NZ yachts there – Silver Fern & Largo Star. It was a real Kiwi anchorage shared with just one Turkish motor yacht.
After replenishing our supplies in Foca we cruised north to Akca Limani, and on the way passed an area where the Turks break-up ships for scrap metal. We counted 27 ships either ashore or at anchor including the British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. According to the Internet she would take eight months to break-up.
Akca Limani is a sheltered, shallow harbour about 2NM across, with maximum depths of about 6m. We entered using the southern entrance with a depth of only about 3m, and there is a northern entrance with reported depths also of 3m. Morris & I thought the water looked much shallower, so we explored it using the RIB. Sure enough we found it was only about 1.5m deep with many rocks, so we decided to exit using the southern entrance again On arriving at our next destination of Candarli, a small Turkish Coastguard patrol boat roared into the bay, and came alongside. The two occupants came aboard, and after checking our passports and Transit Log, told us they’d had reports of us acting suspiciously with our RIB in Akca Limani. I don’t know what they thought we might have been doing, but after we explained that we were simply checking the depths they were satisfied, and confirmed that the northern entrance was indeed dangerous.
Morris is keen on fishing and while ashore at Candarli we bought some new trolling lures. These have so proven unsuccessful, but Morris also bought some small local fish for dinner. Small is the operative word here, as 10 whole fish weighed 1.5kg before cleaning, and they were similar to NZ sprats or small yellowtail. Morris and I cooked these whole (they were far too small to fillet) wrapped in foil on the BBQ, and although they were tasty it was very hard to remove the bones from the flesh. We definitely prefer NZ snapper.
Morris is a very experienced boatie, and helped me greatly, including anchoring duties. He had the bad luck to strike a couple of the muddiest bays we’ve ever encountered, where the anchor chain was so caked with sticky mud that it looked like a cable. Gail had also volunteered to flake the chain into the anchor locker, and ended up with very muddy hands.
Further north we anchored at the sheltered and delightful Bademli Limani. Here are natural fresh hot water springs along the shore, and some hedonistic souls have built stone baths around some of them. Of course we had to go and enjoy our evening drinks in the hot springs.
Our last Turkish port was Ayvalik, where there is a series of almost land-locked and very sheltered bays. Here we cleared out of Turkey – visiting the Port Police, Customs and Harbour Master, taking nearly five hours but costing only nine Lire (about NZ$7.50). I had been told it was necessary to use an agent to clear out, costing in the range of Euro 30-50, but this proved not necessary.
Our guest head is working fine, but the vacuum motor re-charges about every 30 minutes, and should not be doing so more than every approx 2 hours. This indicates one or more of the duckbill valves may need replacing. We’ll do this later because at the moment we get around this by turning the power to the head off after each use. I’m reluctant to pull things apart right now in case we break a pipe fitting or similar.
LOG: 33 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 392NM cruised for 86 engine hours.

Friday, June 10, 2011


We are now in the Greek island of Lesvos with Morris & Gail. All is going well, and I’ll advise more on this in a few days.
Since we posted an article on our blog in early April about the costs of cruising , I’ve had a few off-line requests to advise our views on the actual dollar costs of cruising – so here goes.
In general we find that actual living costs such as food, beverages, household supplies and personal spending are about the same when cruising as when at home, and the cost of owning a boat in the Med in terms of maintenance and insurance is also similar to New Zealand. What bumps up the cost is the travel to and from your boat, meeting regulatory requirements when moving between countries, sightseeing and associated costs ashore – particularly rental cars and accommodation, and the fuel cost resulting from cruising longer distances.
A recent Seven Seas Cruising Association newsletter advised of an American couple cruising on a modern 53ft sailing yacht, who originally estimated they could cruise on a budget of US$35,000 (approx. NZ$44,000) per year. They describe themselves as frugal by nature, and rarely ate ashore or went into marinas. They kept detailed day-by-day records of spending, and their reality was an average cost of US$43,000 (approx. NZ$54,000) per year over a period of four years up to April 2010, cruising the Caribbean, the Pacific, New Zealand and South East Asia. But that was over a period which ended over a year ago, and everywhere costs have significantly increased since then. The Med is no longer a cheap place to cruise, and most people are not frugal, so our advice to any intending cruiser would be to budget to spend not less than NZ$90,000 (approx. US$72,000) per year, not including any costs incurred back home.
I can imagine some readers thinking “that’s far too high an estimate”, so let me elaborate. That includes allowances of NZ$10,000 for diesel, lpg and petrol for your outboard, NZ$20,000 for repairs and maintenance, NZ$15,000 for all insurances, winter berthage and meeting regulatory requirements, and NZ$7,000 for return travel for two. That’s a total of NZ$52,000 (US$42,000) before you tour your first castle, eat a kebab or drink your first Efes (Turkish beer). Bear in mind too that a major technical problem could blow the $20,000 r & m figure out the window.
Most importantly we’ve used our water maker five times now for a total of about 17 hours, and all is good. As an example of costs, this was about NZ$5,000 to repair. No other issues to report.
LOG: 38 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 437NM cruised for 95 engine hours.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


We arrived at Foca, about 320 NM from our departure point of Marmaris on 1/6. This is really great, as firstly it’s here that we meet Morris & Gail, and secondly everywhere from here on is new territory for us.
We’ve been cruising loosely in company with NZers Bruce & Lesley Tebbutt from Kawakawa, who have a beautiful sailing catamaran called Midi. Like us they enjoy playing 500, and we’ve had some good contests with the boys winning of course. We’ll cruise further north together to Ayvalik, then we head west to the Greek island of Lesvos, and they head up the Dardanelles. It seems that we have similar plans next year of heading towards the Adriatic.
We went into the marina at Alacati for a couple of days to allow easy access for the engineers fixing our water maker. The cost there is Euro 80 per night including power and water. On Saturday night we went into the very pretty town of Alacati for dinner, and while waiting for a bus, some guys stopped and gave us a lift. This happens quite regularly, including a couple of days later when an old sewage pumping truck stopped, and Diane & I jumped up into the cab for a ride to Cesme. I doubt that I’d be getting lifts if Diane wasn’t with me! Alacati has probably got a bit too trendy and expensive now, and I noticed a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc on the wine list for TLK120 (about NZ$100). I’m not going to go into details re Alicati & Cesme as they’re well covered in last year’s blogs.
While we were in Alacati three engineers drove up from Marmaris with our watermaker. It’s quite a distance and the drive took them six hours. To recap, last year we had to cruise without our water maker, because it needed new high pressure membranes, and the delivery time was very long. The service agent then ordered them to arrive in Marmaris early this year, but they ordered the wrong size. So finally we have the right size.
Two of the engineers installed our unit, while the third one watched, until tiring of that he had a sleep in their car. The installation seemed to go OK, and we made fresh water for two hours. We said our thanks and goodbyes, and the guys left to drive back. Then about 30 minutes later, I noticed water starting to leak from the water flow control housing. I phoned the engineers, and they came back. They stripped the leaking housing and checked the seals, finding that four of them were defective – two were old and flattened, while two had physical damage. As the engineers couldn’t speak English I didn’t find out how this happened, but think it happened during re-assembly of our unit in Marmaris. Then we ran it for a further two hours and all was OK with the guys finally leaving about 7pm for the long drive back. Since then we’ve used the unit twice for a total of six hours, and so far so good. This is absolutely great for us, as it’s quite a pain finding and getting water, most of which is not drinkable.
LOG: 28 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 320NM cruised for 71 engine hours.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Di standing by a runabout with three 220hp outboards - small boat, lotsa engines!

Jars of pickles stored in the open outside a Taverna

The wake from the Sea Princess provided a change from the glassy calm conditions