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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FIRST SQUALLY THUNDERSTORM OF THE YEAR

I forgot to mention in the last update that here in the Med we get a lot of quite violent thunderstorms (far more than we are accustomed to in New Zealand), especially during Spring and Autumn. These are nearly always accompanied by strong winds, significant shifts of wind direction and rain squalls, so we take them pretty seriously - in fact the only time Envoy has dragged her anchor was during a thunderstorm with 55 knot gusts in 2010.
Before leaving Turkey’s Bozburun we encounter our first of this season. It was soon after sunset, and Envoy is one of about 15 boats anchored off Bozburun village. The boats are reasonably well spread-out, and none very close to us. As we hear the last Muslim call-to-prayer of the day from the Mosque’s loudspeakers, we also hear the first thunderclaps echoing through the rugged hills behind Bozburun. At this stage the wind is less than 10 knots, but we wonder if it will dramatically increase as we’ve sometimes experienced before. The thunderclaps are getting louder as the spire of Bozburun’s Mosque is illuminated by lightning. We put on one of our favorite CDs – Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook as we watch the spectacular display.
We see a heavy rain squall approaching across the bay, and the wind ramps up to 25 knots. Our GPS position alarm starts an urgent beeping, warning that Envoy has moved a little. I had only set it for a distance of 0.02NM (120 ft), and I’m confident it only sounded because our anchor chain is fully stretching-out with the increase in wind, so I re-set the alarm. I check how much anchor chain we have out – 60 metres (197 ft) for a depth of 16 metres (53 ft), and realise this won’t be enough if the wind picks up dramatically. Suddenly we hear one yacht urgently calling another, “Stargazer ….your anchor is dragging … you’re going to hit us”. Di and I watch as the two yachts collide and they appear locked together. They are well clear of Envoy, and there is nothing we can do to help. We see figures on both decks, illuminated by lightning, working to resolve their problem. Eventually they separate, and we watch Stargazer motor away to re-anchor, and breathe a sigh of relief when she anchors nowhere near us. We drink tea as the wind continues up to 30 knots for another half-hour, fortunately without any change in direction, and then quickly abates. Normality returns as the sea returns to glassy calm once again, and another mini-adventure in the cruising life is completed.
At Symi Island’s Pedhi Bay we met some American friends, Patrick & Chrissy, aboard their Nordhavn 46, “Frog Kiss”. This is a famous vessel as it’s the first Nordhavn passagemaker ever built. She’s in great condition with several innovations, and Patrick & I spent an interesting time comparing our vessels. Frog Kiss is now for sale. Apparently there are six N46s for sale worldwide, but Frog Kiss is the only one located in the Med.

Frog Kiss and Envoy in Pedhi Bay, Symi



Nordhavns age well, and of course as time passes equipment gets progressively updated, for example Envoy’s hull and main engine are 22 years old, but there is very little else aboard pre-2000, and Envoy looks in better condition than many five year-old vessels.
Moving from one country to another generally involves communication hassles. Our Greek phone and my internet was no problem, but Di had to buy a new USB plug-in and SIM card with the Greek company Cosmote, as that was the only one in stock in Symi. They won’t sell the SIM cards separately, and claim that in any case they won’t work unless bought as “a package”. All is working OK now.
While in Symi we also took on 1,340 litres of diesel for Euro 1.60 (NZ$2.69) per litre (US$7.80 per gal), which will last us several months.
We’re now at the island of Tilos, the first time this year we’re in new territory.
TECHNICAL
Nothing to report
LOG
52 days aboard, cruised 132NM for 25 engine hours



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MED MONSTERS OF THE DEEP

Several days ago another Nordhavn came into the bay we were anchored in – the first time in over three years of cruising. This was a Russian-owned, three year-old, 85-footer, with five full-time crew, and powered by twin Detroit diesels. Cruising at 11 knots she only uses 35 litres/hour of fuel, but we can only imagine the costs of running a vessel of that size, and paying five salaries.
Nordhavns were originally conceived as Passagemakers, but now Nordhavn seem to be also diversifying into the category of super-yachts or expedition yachts. There is no finite definition of “Passagemakers”, but they are generally considered to be ocean-capable vessels in the range of 40-70ft, able to be operated by a cruising couple. In most cases vessels above about 60-70ft are beyond the typical cruising couple to manage and maintain without crew. Here in Turkey we even see boats of about 50ft with professional crew.
We arrived in one of the beautiful anchorages near Bozburun, with only two other boats there, and a boatman rowed up to us in a small dinghy offering fresh produce and home-made clothing for sale. We bought some honey, nuts and apricots but passed on the Turkish-style clothes. This is always a process rather than a transaction, and we spent half an hour talking with the boatman about the qualities of his produce, his life and family, and our life and family. I can’t imagine doing this ashore, when things always seem to be hurried, but it comes naturally in the cruising life when there is plenty of time to talk, and to really listen. We always try to buy something to help the local people support their families.

This Turkish boatman sells produce and clothing to visiting cruisers


We’ve now cleared-out of Turkey and anchored at Pedhi, on the Greek island of Simi.
With the help of the Greek yachting agency – A1 (who’ve always been very helpful on a whole variety of issues) we managed to clear-in as Captain & Crew in transit, which means we have up to six months in Greece, rather than three, and the Schengen Treaty does not apply. From here we’ll leisurely cruise through various Greek islands towards Santorini, where we meet our daughter, Amy, on 2 June.
Di has been reading the autobiography of an Australian who fought at Gallipoli in WW1.
Sometimes the off-duty soldiers were allowed to have a swim, and mysteriously the occasional soldier didn’t come back out of the water. One day the author was enjoying a swim, when he suddenly heard another soldier shout a warning to him. He turned around and saw a very large eye looking up at him from under the water. He was a strong swimmer and quickly managed to reach the safety of a nearby jetty, then seeing that the eye belonged to a huge squid, with a body about a metre wide and long tentacles trailing behind. That was the last time they went swimming at Gallipoli. Checking this out on Google, there have been two findings of giant squid in the Med, but many more than that in New Zealand, so we feel quite safe in the water.

Laurie hard at work testing out the BBQ


TECHNICAL
We’ve installed our two new Deka AGM batteries for the 24 volt bow thruster bank, although it was quite a mission to maneuver batteries weighing 59kg each into the confines of the anchor chain locker.
With Envoy’s large fuel tanks and low consumption, we only refuel about three times a year, but we need to do so shortly so we’ve been thinking where to do this. Sometimes Turkey is dearer than Greece, but currently they’re similar in price. Here in Turkey it’s Lira 4.20 (NZ$3.00) per litre which is US$9.12 per gallon. It’s not only the price to consider though, but the quality. Nowadays most of the diesel sold for on-road use contains bio-diesel, and this is definitely not recommended for marine engines (although an exception is commercial vessels using high fuel volumes and modified for use with bio-diesel.) Bio-diesel has a far shorter storage life, and has high solvent properties, which reduces the life of seals and hoses. We’ve been advised that marine diesel sold on the Greek island of Simi is bio-diesel free, so we’ll refuel here.
LOG
Will update in next posting.





Tuesday, May 08, 2012

THE SPY CONNECTION AND ENVOY WINE

We left the marina last Thursday for a four day cruise around the very picturesque Marmaris Bay local area in great weather, and plenty of swimming.On our first day out we launched our large RIB, weighing 350kg, from the boat deck using the boom winch. We’d no sooner got the RIB into position over the side, level with the boat deck just over two metres from the sea, when a stray line caught on the winch’s clutch release and pulled it out. To our horror the RIB then plummeted two metres in free-fall, hitting the water with a great splash. It landed so perfectly that any observer might have thought this was normal! Fortunately no damage was done but it could have been nasty if the dinghy had been in a different position, like half-way over the stainless steel rails, when the clutch released. We’ll certainly make sure that doesn’t happen again.
While ashore at a beautiful village called Turunk we met Orchun, the manager of a family-owned taverna. He goes snorkelling at night-time to catch crayfish and octopus, and to spear fish. He says there are plenty around in 3-4m of water.

Laurie with Orchun and the crayfish he caught while snorkelling. Background is Turunk village



The next day we did our first ancient ruins exploration of the year, checking out the 3rd century BC Rhodian fortress of Amos. It sure wasn’t crowded – we were the only boat anchored in a large bay, and there were only four other people exploring Amos.
We got our money back for the non-delivered house batteries, and the bow thruster batteries are due to be installed in two or three days.
While back in New Zealand and touring the South Island’s Blenheim area, we visited the mysterious Waihopai Valley, otherwise known as Spy Valley, and so-called because there is a large satellite communications tracking station nearby, run in conjunction with the US. This facility made the news about three years ago when a trio of misguided “pacifists” broke into it, caused over NZ$1 million (US$0.8m) of equipment damage, and then somehow escaped conviction, despite admitting doing the damage.
Here is the home of family-owned Spy Valley Wines, who craft a great range of premium wines marketed under the “Envoy” label. Envoy means messenger, representative, or chosen messenger, and Spy Valley Wines chose the Envoy brand to mean Message of Land and Time. They explained that to express the true character of the site and variety, a key component is time, and they never rush Envoy. That’s very much like ourselves, as we’re never in a hurry with Envoy’s 6.5 knot cruising speed.
Spy Valley produce most of the classic wines of this famous wine-making region; sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, gew├╝rztraminer, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Here we discuss Envoy wines with Spy Valley’s Tracy McKean.



This spy connection also reminded us of when the Turkish Coastguard boarded Envoy last year because they were curious why she has so many aerials (11 plus two radomes). Envoy often attracts Coastguard’s attention because of her unusual, and slightly military-look.
Spy Valley Wines widely export their Envoy wines, and their niche market is restaurants. If you ever see this wine we suggest you try it – we certainly think it’s great.
Coming back into the marina we noticed this large motor vessel - whoever designed this obviously has no taste at all! Different boats for different folks.



TECHNICAL
The Water Maker has been modified as described in last blog, and all working well.
LOG
Spent 39 nights aboard since arrival, and cruised a mere 42 miles for 9 engine hours.