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Monday, October 31, 2011


Just before Chris arrived we had a cold spell with temps down to about 15d, and as we cruised south from Sigacik we encountered a classic cold front with low cloud, lightning, thunder and squally showers. Since then it’s warmed up again into the low 20s with a sea temp of 22d.

Classic cold front passes across Envoy’s bow

While having a walk ashore at Kazikli Iskelesi we noticed a couple of tethered sheep, and a Turkish man told us they were his, and he was fattening them up for Kurban Bayrami. This is a highly important holiday festival for Turks - lasting about four days when the head of a family provides a beast to sacrifice, and for his family and friends to feast upon. According to Lonely Planet about 4m cows or sheep are eaten every year at this festival.

This sheep is being fattened for the festival of Kurban Bayrami

Nearby was a very rough floating platform, which a fisherman and his wife used for sleeping, with their boat moored alongside.

A home away from home

Once you get away from the tourist resorts to where real people live and work, most of the Turkish women dress quite traditionally.

This picture shows a typical Turkish lady selling her goods in a market

This picture shows the new (news reporter on the left), and the traditional (lady with headscarf on the right)

There are many barbers to be found everywhere in Turkey, and I generally pay a very reasonable Lire 12 (about NZ$8). The slightly scary part is where they use a lighted taper to burn the hair from your ears and nostrils!

Here I enjoy a haircut with a traditional razor

Like most of the year, there have been very few cruising boats around, but one day near Altinkum we anchored in a bay where a yacht, Wight Egret, flew the British flag. The next day I went over to meet David & Beverley Evans from the Isle of Wight, and invited them over for a beer. We had a great time and ended up going out for dinner a few days later, the first time we’d socialized with anyone since Sharon & Doug left six weeks ago.

Diane, Laurie, Chris, Beverley & David together for dinner

While in Didim marina we noticed a “Sailors Pub”, so in the late afternoon decided to go and have a drink. We asked the waiter for a beer and a shandy, only to be told they don’t serve alcoholic drinks. We found this highly amusing and feel sure they wouldn’t attract too many sailors. Fortunately they had another bar nearby which did serve beer.

Didim marina’s pub with no beer

After a couple of days around Altinkum with Chris we headed further south to Bodrum, and moored stern-to the dramatic looking Castle of St Peter to spend a few days watching the remaining two RWC matches. In the 15th century the Ottoman Turks gave the Christian knights the opportunity to leave peacefully with their possessions, and they wisely accepted.

Envoy moored to the Castle of St Peter, Bodrum

One day we took the 90 minute ferry trip over to the Greek island of Kos. Here we collected two alternators for the main engine – one new one ex US, and our old one repaired in Piraeus.

Chris & Laurie enjoying an ice cream in Kos

On the return ferry trip the ferry seemed to go rather close to a container ship

More about Chris’s visit on the next post.

All going well and no problems, but just one unusual event.
Envoy has a Northern Lights genset M753 used in conjunction with a Freedom Combi inverter / charger. After an engineer at Didim Marina installed a new fresh water circulating pump on the genset something electrical has somehow changed.
Previously I would start the genset, turn ON the Battery Charger breaker and the batteries would start charging.
Now when I start the genset and turn ON the Battery Charger breaker nothing happens. But if I turn ON the Refrigerator breaker, the fridge will run fine, and then the Battery Charger will work too. Nothing happens unless the Fridge breaker is ON first.
This is not a major problem, but it means I can’t run anything from the genset unless the Fridge is ON too.
Obviously in changing over a water pump nothing electrical has been changed (the only electrical aspect to the job was to remove and replace the temperature sensor wires), so this is a bit of a mystery.
LOG (to 22/10/11): 172 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 2,007 NM cruised for 413 engine hours.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Our last visiting friend for the year - Chris O'Brien arrives today. Just happens to be the coldest day so far at 15d due to a front coming through - yet another gale warning. Will get back over 20in a day or two.
Our cuts are healing and we hope to get the stitches out tomorrow.
A Turkish gentleman has left a comment on the last posting that if we paid that much money it must have been a private hospital. In fact it was the Didim Public Hospital.
Going ashore in Turkey and Greece is always a bit of an experience, and even mundane things like grocery shopping or having a coffee or a beer can become exciting, especially away from the main tourist areas. We saw an interesting-looking café in Sigacik partially built into the crumbling walls of the medieval castle. It had a décor reminiscent of Gaudi, with basic wooden furniture, the floor being a mosaic of broken pottery, and decorated with marine artifacts and shells. We were the only customers and the owners made a real fuss of us as we had our cup of Nescafe at Lire 2 (NZ$1.40 each). They couldn’t speak any English, but they showed us the huge pumpkins they grow in their garden behind the café. They also showed us an article about their café in a tourist guide, and the owner pointed to a photo of himself. His name was Captain Pasha, a retired sailor, and that explained the nautical flavour of the café.

Captain Pasha’s café in Sigacik

Rustic interior of Captain Pasha's cafe

Nearby was a derelict, rust-streaked, steel-hulled yacht, and we found out the Greek owner had been suspected of using his yacht for smuggling, so it had been impounded. The owner is still fighting a legal battle to get it returned five years later.

Derelict yacht impounded in Sigacik harbour for suspected smuggling

We often see tractors with trailers carrying people and goods around

Herd of goats on the road in Sigacik

Sadly Turkey has a major litter problem despite the provision of numerous rubbish bins

We saw this tortoise crossing our path

Sunset on Envoy in Ildir harbour

Envoy at anchor in Ildir

View from Envoy of Ildir. In ancient times there was an acropolis on the hill

After an early morning swim we left Sigacik in a cool 20dC temperature with dark grey skies, thunder and lightning bolts. All the previous night the sky had been growling with distant thunder, and the portholes illuminated with lightning. This was not close-by, but kept our attention as we know too well how a thunder storm can quickly whip up violent, unpredictable winds.
Five hours later we anchored in Port St Paul, where a boat carrying St Paul is believed to have stayed. This is not in fact a “port”, but a sheltered bay, and once again we were the only boat there.
Later we saw a large Coastguard patrol boat passing outside the bay. It was around 25m long, with a large cannon on the fore-deck, and machine guns on the bridge. It stopped about 200m from our position and the crew seemed to be looking at us. Then we saw them launch their RIB, and soon it was speeding towards us carrying three crew. Their leader, wearing a pistol in a holster politely asked if he could come aboard – who were we to refuse! He wanted to know why Envoy has so many antennas.

View of Envoy’s antennas and radomes

To explain, Envoy has a total of eleven antennas for 3 x VHF, 1 x SSB, 1 x Navtex, 4 x GPS, 1 x Weather fax, and 1 x Satphone. She also has radomes for the 2 radars. We explained that Envoy is an ocean-going vessel and described the function of each antenna. They still seemed mystified, but must have been satisfied that Envoy wasn’t a spy-ship, and after checking all our documentation they left us.
For the last week we've been anchored off Altinkum as they have many sports bars, and we were able to watch some Rugby World Cup matches. Altinkum has a great sandy beach and attracts mostly British visitors. It is south-facing so provides good shelter from the prevailing northerlies.
One day we saw a seagull on the water that was unable to fly, and decided to investigate. We took the RIB over and discovered the seagull had a long-line hook in its mouth. We weren’t able to remove the hook, but cut the monofilament very close to its mouth and saw it happily fly away. Hopefully the hook will eventually drop out.

All is still going well. The fresh water circulating pump on the generator, which was repaired with cold weld, lasted for about 70 hours before it failed again. We used an engineering firm in Didim Marina to install the new one that we’d flown out from US. It’s a difficult job due to very limited accessibility, and it took 2 engineers about 3 hours to do the job. They also patched up the failed one for use as a short term spare.
I’m going to talk about cosmetic maintenance.
The most important thing to do in maintaining your stainless steel, gelcoat and varnished teak in good condition is to regularly wash all the salt off with fresh water. Many days we don’t take any salt spray at all, but on the days we do we always wash all the salt off after anchoring, except for the hull topsides.
Every couple of weeks we spend about two hours going over all the stainless steel with a product called “Miracle Cloth”, and this gets rid of any blemishes or rust stains, and brings it up nicely.

Diane polishes stainless steel bow rails with Miracle Cloth

To get stains off gelcoat and most other substrates we use “Power Sponge” – a sponge made up of melamine microfibres, and it’s amazing to see the difference this makes compared to a normal sponge. This also works well on stainless steel.
Our windows are coated with RainX, and this is great for keeping them clear of spray (we never use the pilothouse windscreen wipers). To get any salt residue off the windows we only need to use fresh water with a lamb’s wool mitten.
When we purchased Envoy all of the exterior teak was varnished. We’ve now stripped the varnish from some areas and gone for the natural look. In other areas we’ve maintained the varnish, and find this needs to be re-applied annually. It’s not a big job – we just wash the teak, lightly wet-sand it, wash it again, wipe it over with thinners, and then apply two or three coats of Epiphanes over consecutive days without sanding between coats.
LOG (to 2/10/11): 152 days aboard since leaving Marmaris, 1,913NM cruised for 393 engine

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Normally our blog is about 1-2 weeks behind real time, but unusually we’re going to report on events of today.
We have been close to the small Turkish seaside town of Altinkum, north of Bodrum for the last couple of weeks, and a major reason for this has been to go ashore and watch the Rugby World Cup in one of the many sports cafes with satellite TV. Altinkum has a great sandy beach facing south that we can anchor off, sheltered from the prevailing northerly winds.

Altinkum’s superb south-facing sandy beach on a usual day with Envoy anchored in the background

A few days ago the forecast showed a southerly gale approaching us with winds expected to be Force 7-8. There is nowhere to anchor close to here sheltered from the south, so we opted to shelter in the very good Didim marina for a few days, then we’d be able to go ashore and watch the rugby.
Yesterday we prepared Envoy for the blow with extra lines, as Envoy is facing south directly into the gale. Even though we are in a marina, there is about 150m of unprotected fetch between us and the sea wall, while Envoy’s stern is secured to a floating pontoon.
At first light the wind came up to about 35 knots. Our two bow lines stretched, and the sea was quite choppy, even inside the marina, but all seemed OK.
We went to a waterfront café, but with the gale and heavy rain the TV system wasn’t working due to power outages and no satellite reception, so we sat down to have a coffee.
The sea where we had been peacefully anchored just days before was now a mass of large breaking waves and white water. Then the lightning and thunder started, and the wind noticeably strengthened further as chairs, tables, umbrellas, signs and small trees started to blow away.
Suddenly there was a terrific smashing sound and the café’s two plate glass windows facing the sea were blown in. Di & I were the café’s only customers, and we were showered in shards of broken glass, ranging from small to rather large pieces.

Photo of the table where we were sitting after the plate glass window had blown in. In the background note the rough sea

Di received a nasty deep cut to her left arm and a lesser cut to her right elbow, as well as several abrasions on her hands and arms. I received two cuts to my right ear as well as abrasions to my head.
The café staff administered first aid with serviettes and towels to stem the bleeding, and then the owner used his car to take us to hospital. Di needed six stitches and I needed eight. We were very lucky – some of the larger shards of glass could easily have inflicted very severe injuries.
The hospital was efficient, and we were treated quickly and professionally – for a cost of L694 (about NZ$485).

Di with bandaged left wrist and right elbow

Laurie with bandaged right ear

By then the wind had abated considerably and the café owner then took us through the town strewn with debris to another sports café to watch the All Blacks defeat Argentina for a spot in the Semi-Finals. He told us this was the worst wind he’d seen having owned the café for 20 years. In the marina the wind peaked at 60 knots.
All is fine with Envoy, and we’re going to need to stay around here for a few days as we need to make follow-up visits to the hospital.