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Sunday, April 29, 2012

OUR FIRST UNEXPECTED PROBLEM

Here is a great view we get during our morning walks.




Now we do have an unexpected problem – with the water maker (see under Technical) – so our departure has been held up for a few days until about the middle of the coming week. But meantime we’re happy here in Marmaris – the weather is sunny and 27d, and we’re having time to catch up on a lot of things. We have ample time to do long daily walks on nearby Heaven Is, from where we get great views across Marmaris Bay. A couple of times we’ve also seen tortoises by the roadside.

Marmaris elected a new mayor last year, and since then major reconstruction has been taking place in this pretty resort town. The major supermarket, located on prime real estate in the town centre, had apparently been built without planning approval, so this five-story concrete building with adjacent multi-storey car park has been demolished, and a new park is being put in its place. Many roads have been upgraded, and different statues erected.

This octopus is one of the many new decorative statues gracing Marmaris



I have mentioned previously that Turkey has changed its visa rules for visitors so that now visitors can only stay for 90 days in any 180 day period. This is crazy, as it’s bound to deter the cruising community from visiting Turkey for lengthy periods, and especially from wintering over. There is a way around this. If you have an annual contract with a marina, then you can apply for and generally obtain a one-year residency. Some New Zealanders we met here have just done that at a cost of about 750 Lira (about US$416), including agent’s fees, so it’s an expensive option that previously wasn’t necessary.
TECHNICAL
An electrical contractor fixed our forward reverse-cycle aircon unit. It was simply a corroded wire in the control system.
I cleaned the intakes for our three bilge pumps and tested them OK, along with our high-capacity portable 110V pump. Good to know they all work if needed!
The Naiad hydraulic stabilisers have been tested and are running fine.
Delivery of our new batteries continues to be an issue. Now we’re told the batteries for the 24V bow thruster bank will be available about 9 May, while those for the 12V house bank are indefinitely held up in Customs, so the supplier is returning our advance payment for these ones. Actually our present house batteries are holding up quite well for their age of seven years, although they do need replacing, and we’ll do this either in Greece or Croatia. The issue with them is that when anchored, even when we use our genset for an hour so during the evening, they still discharge to about 12.2-12.4 volts (ie 50-60% of full charge) by morning. Also a battery load tester has found them to be deficient. Of course whenever the main Lugger engine is running we’re also getting all three battery banks charged, and on Envoy with a dedicated generator as well as the Yanmar wing engine that can be used as a generator, it’s not a major problem.
I re-commissioned the water maker, which is normally simply a matter of flushing out the membrane storage chemical solution with seawater, and changing the filters, but it didn’t work properly – the salinity was too high. Seawater contains about 35,000ppm of salt, while drinking water should be something like 50-100ppm. The upper limit for drinking water is 500ppm, while we were getting closer to 600 and this level makes your lips feel slightly salty.
A water maker technician checked the system over and found nothing wrong, leaving only the possibility that the two high-pressure membranes we bought new last May have failed. He changed the arrangement of water hoses to test each membrane individually, and found that both are not performing. Why? – we don’t know, as they should last several years – it’s another of Life’s Unsolved Mysteries. The membranes we have are difficult to get and very expensive at about Euro 1,730 (US$2,250) for the pair. So we’re going to change the system from two membranes to one larger membrane of a type which is easier and cheaper to replace. The conversion will include the high-pressure membrane tube, its Kevlar outer casing, and a new controller, but then future replacement membranes will be only(#!$?) Euro 425 (US$550) to replace and are widely available ex stock. So this is happening early in the coming week.
LOG
30 nights aboard since arrival.

Monday, April 23, 2012

BATTERIES DUE IN A FEW DAYS AND THEN WE’RE OFF

With this posting I'm having problems with spacings for paragraphs, photos and photo captions. On Wednesday morning we had a southerly gale here with winds up to about 50 knots. The normally flat-calm sea to the south of the marina raged with breaking 2.5m-high waves as far as we could see, putting up considerable spray onto the road sheltering the marina from the open sea. We put out extra lines and had no problems, and the front passed over in about three hours. Envoy’s new batteries have now cleared Customs, and should arrive early in the coming week, so we plan to get them installed and leave Marmaris later in the week. Diane and I are very fond of cats, and we’re sure they must know this because they always seem to find us. Currently we’ve got one cat visiting us regularly for a feed (we’ve bought some cat food) and two others keep trying as well, but our regular guest cat chases them off. Some people here don’t like this, saying we’re encouraging the cats to come onto the marina pontoons. But too bad - the fact is the cats are there anyway, and we don’t like to see them hungry. Apart from that we’d rather have cats in the marina than rats or mice (not that we’ve ever seen any). Hungry cats always seem to find us, and are never disappointed
I’ve mentioned several times about the friendliness of Turkish people, and here’s another example. I went into an electrical supplies shop, and spent only 10 Lira (about US$6), and they insisted I stay and enjoy a cup of Turkish tea. This happens very often, and there was no attempt to try and make me spend more - it was simply a typical expression of Turkish hospitality. Shopping here is an interesting experience with the different markets, bazaars, spice shops etc, and Diane is proving to have excellent negotiation skills. She is always very polite, never insulting or denigrating of the goods offered, but knows what she wants to pay. This goes down well with the Turks, who love to negotiate with genuine buyers, and most times you can strike a good deal. Diane wanted to buy a new handbag, and the one she liked was offered at 175 Lira (about US$97). However Diane was convinced it was only worth 50 Lira (about US$28), and said that was all she wanted to pay. After a few minutes haggling, including Diane leaving the shop and the owner calling her back, that’s exactly what she paid! In reality this was an exceptional case and more typical discounts are in the order of 25-35%. In another shop we wanted to buy some coloured-glass candle holders. We were told the price was 15 Lira (about US$8) each, but we bought six of them for 10 Lira (about US$6) each. Buying some hot chilli paste in a spice shop
For 15 Lira you can fill a box with your own selection of Turkish Delight
Here in Turkey they of course have excellent hand-made carpets. These are really works of art, and made using all natural materials – hand-spun wool and natural dyes made from plants. They are hand-woven on looms by Turkish ladies, who would generally take four to six months working several hours per day to produce. The carpet tufts are individually knotted in place, and quality carpets have something like 250,000 to 400,000 knots per square metre. Most carpets are made for general use, and are expected to be able to be used for something like 100 years, passing from one generation to another. This type of carpet (the size of a large mat) would typically cost something like Lira 2,500 (about US$1,385) to Lira 4,000 (about US$2,216), but can cost considerably more for especially intricate designs, or for additional knots per square metre. Of course a buyer must be cautious to buy a genuine Turkish hand-made carpet, and not a Chinese machine-made imitation. The silk carpets, designed only to be displayed as wall-hangings, can cost in the many tens of thousands of Lira. We bought a carpet from a Government-certified shop that had over 20,000 of them in stock. Buying a carpet here is a process, not just a purchase, and involves drinking tea, looking at carpets, hearing of their history and of the meanings of the intricate designs. It is possible to negotiate, especially late in the season when the sellers want to reduce stock, but at this time of year they are not very negotiable. Our salesman, Birol, descended from generations of Anatolian nomads, who were here in Turkey before the “Turks” themselves. Although his parents live in a house nowadays, Birol says they still prefer to pitch their marquee and live in that during summer. It’s a good story anyway! We bought a really nice carpet from Birol, descended from Anatolian nomads.
A quality carpet should last approx 100 years in normal use as a floor covering, and because the carpets are so hard-wearing, “new” carpets are defined as being less than 20 years old, while to be an “antique” it must be over 250 years old. TECHNICAL AND MURPHY’S LAW We get Envoy's hull professionally polished annually - see the gloss. Not bad for over 20 years old
One day last October we suddenly found our Northern Lights genset would only pass 110V current through to the inverter, battery charger or water heater if the refrigerator and freezer were on. When they were on, everything else worked fine. In other words the genset needed a heavy current draw to make it operate. This didn’t stop the ability to use the genset, and when it’s running we mostly want the refrigerator on – but it was “one of life’s unsolved mysteries” and annoying. Coincidentally this change happened on the very same day that we replaced the genset’s badly-corroded fresh water circulating pump for a new one, and we were racking our brains trying to work out what might have happened during the changeover to cause this new problem. While we had mechanics aboard servicing our Yanmar wing engine, I told them of the problem and one of them said it would almost certainly be caused by faulty capacitors. He says these can often fail after a few years of service (I don’t know how old our capacitors were, but at least 6 years). Envoy’s previous owner Wayne Davis had maybe foreseen this, as he had placed a spare set on board, and when these were installed – problem solved immediately. When the two capacitors were replaced with new ones our genset problem was solved.
The Murphy’s Law aspect is that the problem had nothing at all to do with the installation of the water pump – just coincidence that it happened on the same day – what are the chances of that? Not much more to do now – install new House and Bow Thruster Battery Banks, run and test Water Maker (fingers crossed on this one), test Bilge Pumps, and that’s about it – Envoy’s “To Do List” is about as short as it’s ever been. LOG 23 nights spent aboard since arrival. No miles cruised yet, but that’s about to change.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ENVOY ABOUT A WEEK AWAY FROM CRUISING

Things are going great as we complete our second week since returning to Marmaris. Our only hiccup is that the eight new “Deka” batteries, imported from USA for our
12V house and 24V bow thruster battery banks are held up in Customs, and nobody can tell us when they will get through. Of course we still have the old ones installed, so we can cruise, and we’re going to be ready to leave in about a week. We had then intended to spend about a week cruising around here, so we could come back to get the batteries. But if they are going to be much longer than two weeks we want to cancel our order, and get our payment returned (this might not be so easy).
In the worst case we’ll have to cruise in this general area (which has plenty to offer) until they arrive - but let’s wait and see.
WHO READS THE ENVOY BLOG?
Our Blog was established in 2006 to keep family and friends updated about our Med cruising. By late 2007 readership had expanded well beyond that, and nowadays even more so. The large majority of readers are from North America, then (in order) New Zealand, UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Greece, South Africa, Russia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Guadeloupe, India, UAR, Sweden, Slovenia, Indonesia and Roumania.
TURKISH LIVING STANDARDS
We are using a contractor, Ali Cam, here at Marmaris to organise some of Envoy’s required work, and a few days ago he invited us to his apartment for dinner.
His wife Burcu had prepared a delicious meal, and during a relaxed evening were able to find out more about typical economic life in Turkey.
Ali told us that typical wages in the marina for a six-day week are Lira 2,000 (US$1,170) per month for yard-hands doing polishing and anti-fouling, and up to about Lira 3,000 (US$1,760) per month for master tradesmen. This is net, in the hand, after tax.
The employer also pays medical insurance, provides daily lunch and transport from the town centre to work and back.
Burcu was working in a bank until recently, where the hours were 9am to 7pm, with half an hour for lunch, and she was earning Lira 1,200 (US$680) per month.
Typical rent for a family apartment here seems to be about Lira 500 (US$280) per month, while power, water, lpg, and phone would total about Lira 200 (US$113) per month. Food is fairly cheap here, especially fruit and vegetables in the markets, but meat is expensive. Burcu said a typical small family would spend about Lira 250 (US$140) per week for food and household supplies.
A reasonable quality family apartment can be bought here for about US$165,000.
This is all relevant to western, coastal Turkey. In central and eastern Turkey it is quite different, mostly with small farms providing a subsistence lifestyle and considerably lower living standards.
Unemployment rates are quite high in Turkey – probably about 15%, and Ali said the level of government benefit paid to the unemployed is extremely low, and in any case only paid to people who lose their jobs after working for at least two years.
We have observed Turkish people to be happy, cheerful, friendly, helpful, polite, curious, hard-working and honest, and during the many months we’ve now spent in various parts of Turkey we’ve always felt totally safe, and never seen any form of anti-social behaviour.
TECHNICAL
I have yet to meet a fellow-cruiser who says his boat is perfect and nothing needs doing.
Cruisers do varying amounts of work themselves ranging from virtually nothing to nearly everything, but no matter what skills they possess everybody needs help with some specialist jobs. It’s easy to see how costs mount up with jobs done by contractors here at Marmaris, as they have to build in a 16% “commission” for the marina, and 18% VAT, so only two thirds of the money we spend is “effective”.
Don’t read on if you’re not interested in technicalities!
When we return to Envoy after leaving her for the four months of Med winter we combine re-commissioning after her winter lay-up, with annual maintenance, and with any other jobs that need doing from the previous season.
Apart from a complete polish of the hull and topsides gelcoat, and antifouling, there’s been quite a lot happening, and we’re now about 80% through the total work list.
- All equipment tested except the stabilisers and water maker, and everything working except for the forward aircon
- The main Lugger engine’s dry exhaust system re-conditioned, coolant replaced,
two suspect-looking main water cooling hoses replaced, secondary fuel filter replaced, propeller shaft alignment checked
- All other below water level hoses visually checked and some replaced
- The engine room’s automatic fire extinguishing system checked and certified.
All other extinguishers visually checked. Engine room hot-air extraction metal ducting replaced
- All 21 seacocks inspected and operated. One dismantled and serviced.
After launching seacocks opened one-by-one while I checked for leaks in the seacock or downstream. In several cases pumps fed by seacocks had to be bled of air
- For all three engines and the Naiad stabilisers, vee-belts that were loosened for the winter had to be tightened and for the Wing engine and Genset they were replaced
- The Yanmar wing engine’s prop shaft pulled for inspection and lubrication of the shaft seal, then re-aligned. MaxProp folding prop lubricated. Also leaking vented loops modified, water leak in exhaust box epoxied, vee-belt pulleys removed, de-rusted and painted (rust caused by sea water leaking from vented loops), sea water circulating pump checked and impeller replaced, vee belts replaced, zinc anodes in cooling system replaced, cooling hoses checked, fresh water cooling system header tank removed and cleaned, exhaust riser removed and cleaned, secondary fuel filter replaced, roller bearing in 110V generator mounting replaced
- All external zinc anodes inspected and several replaced
- The hydraulic pump for the Naiad stabilisers modified to enable easier adjustment of the three vee-belts using a bolt that can be tightened to increase belt tension (up to now it’s been extremely difficult to get any tension on these belts)
- Re-install RIB’s start battery which was removed for charging during the winter, fully service Yamaha outboard, replace spark plugs and the complete sea water pump
- Envoy’s storage cover, which was ripped in places, has been repaired, as has the RIB storage cover
- Domestic fresh water system water strainer removed and cleaned, filters replaced, accumulator re-charged
- All batteries that were removed for winter from flashlights, clocks, timers, remotes etc tested and replaced
- Shorepower cable’s connections all re-made
- Bow Thruster propeller nut was cross-threaded and was re-machined to fix
- Windlass gearbox oil leak fixed (supposedly fixed in November but still leaking)
- The newly re-galvanised anchor chain marked for depth, and stowed
- An outdated lpg bottle replaced
- 2 armchairs substantially re-upholstered
- The swim ladder extended in length to make it easier to climb out of the water (as we and our visitors get older!)
- 70 litres of engine oil procured and stowed
- 6 x 30 litre water containers procured and stowed
LOG
Still in Marmaris and 15 nights aboard so far

Monday, April 09, 2012

“ROGUE” WAVES & ENVOY NEARLY READY TO LAUNCH

We are both well here in Marmaris, Southern Turkey - the weather is mostly fine and sunny in the low 20 degC, and progress getting Envoy ready to launch is on schedule..
ROGUE WAVES
This paragraph about the sea from a Clive Cussler novel appealed to me:
“Most of the time, the oceans appear to be at rest. Un-ending waves no higher than the head of a German shepherd give the image of a sleeping giant, the surface of his chest slowly rising and falling with each breath. It is an illusion that beguiles the unwary. Sailors can fall asleep in their berths with clear skies and calm seas and wake up to a frenzied sea that quickly sweeps over thousands of square miles engulfing every vessel in its path”
We’ve recently seen the term “rogue wave” used very loosely, particularly by the media. The use of this term could imply that such waves are unexpected or unpredictable, whereas this is not the case at all, and waves of about double the average wave height are entirely predictable.
Because our minds mostly register only the larger waves we see, and not the smaller ones, wave height is usually calculated not as the “average height”, but as the “significant wave height” – that is the average height of the highest third of all the waves (i.e. the ones our minds register).
To give an example, in a sea state where the true average wave height is 4m, the significant wave height (the height the mind registers) is 6.6m.
As the wave trains roll across the ocean, the peak of one wave eventually synchronises with the peak of another, and the resulting wave can be much larger than either of the two waves that coincided. The UK’s National Institute of Oceanography determined that:
- About one wave in 23 is twice the average height – that means in the above case 8m
- About one wave in 1,175 is three times the average height – that means in the above case 12m
- About one wave in 300,000 is four times the average height – that means in the above case 16m.
In practical terms, if we are cruising along in waves of 6.6m or about 21ft significant wave height (which I believe could be quite challenging), then the true average wave height is 4m or about 13 ft, but we could encounter occasional much larger waves up to 12m or about 39ft. If we are unlucky enough to strike that one wave in 300,000, it could be 16m or about 52ft.
I understand that the largest wave ever scientifically recorded at sea was one of 34m (112ft) in 1933 by the USS Ramapo in the north Pacific.
However it’s not all bad news – if you take a wave period of 10 seconds, which is typical in rough seas, that means 6 waves per minute, 360 waves per hour and 14,400 waves per day. So the chances of meeting that one wave in 300,000 are very remote, particularly as these encounters of the wave trains are transient, occurring in one place for a short time, and the resulting giant waves don’t travel much distance.
It’s also worth noting that according to the book “Perfect Storm”, the energy generated by waves does not increase linearly, and waves from a 40 knot wind are likely to be 17 times “as violent” as those from a 20 knot wind. The energy created by waves is huge, with impact pressures typically 250 to 1,150 lbs per square foot, while up to 6,000 lbs is possible from very large breaking waves.
The incidence of very large waves is quite limited statistically, and one study reported that for the open oceans in general, 80% of the time wave heights (not sure if they meant “average” or “significant”) are under 3.7m (12ft), 90% of the time they are under 6m (20ft), and that to encounter waves above 12m (40ft) is extremely rare. This partially explains how many cruisers travel thousands of ocean miles over many years and don’t ever encounter dangerous rough seas. Another part of the explanation is planning their cruise according to weather forecasts.
All of the above relates to waves generated by wind (force) blowing for a period of time (duration) across hundreds of miles of open sea (fetch).
Another entirely different source of large waves is seismic activity or landslides into the sea. These events have historically caused waves much larger than the largest waves caused by weather.
LIVING IT HARD
We’ve been back aboard Envoy over a week now up on the hardstand. We’re fortunate here, as many marinas don’t allow you to live aboard while the boat is out of the water, but it’s an unusual way of living. Firstly everything has to come aboard up a ladder. We have to use the marina toilets and showers, we do dishes in a bowl in the sink, empty the bowl into a large bucket which is emptied twice a day, and use a “chamber pot” during the night which is emptied into the marina toilet every morning. Diane still thinks it’s a huge joke when she passes the pot down the ladder to me, promising not to spill it over my head! Cars drive around us and the travel lifts are constantly moving boats.
During the day the boat is a bit chaotic with different contractors coming and going, but progress is steady with no unexpected issues so far. The most time-consuming job is getting Envoy’s hull and topsides cut and polished. This is a job we choose to have professionally done annually to maintain and protect Envoy in top condition. There’s a lot of gelcoat surface area, and it took two guys six days including during Easter, which is not celebrated in Muslim Turkey. Envoy’s gelcoat is gleaming, looking more like a 5 year-old than 22 year-old vessel. At a cost of NZ$1,240 (US$1,020) we think it’s money well invested.
Tomorrow Envoy goes back in the water.
If you don’t use a car for several months you just jump in it, start, and drive away. Not so with a boat because you normally combine annual maintenance with your winter haul-out. Although I mentioned in the last blog this is all “routine”, it’s still comprehensive, and on the next blog I’ll go into that in some detail.

Monday, April 02, 2012

BACK ABOARD ENVOY ON MARMARIS

We had a long, but event-free journey from Auckland, and arrived back in Marmaris, southern Turkey, on Saturday morning, finding that everything aboard Envoy, out of the water on the hardstand was pretty how much we’d left her four months ago - clean, dry, and so far no surprises.
As I filled in Envoy’s log on Saturday for the first time this year, I noted that was our 744th night aboard Envoy since we started our Med cruising.
The coming week will be hectic as we work to complete all out-of-water jobs before Envoy is launched on the 10th. After that we’ll still have plenty of routine annual preventative maintenance jobs to do, but no time schedules to meet and no pressure.
The first two nights aboard we still had the full storage cover over Envoy, and it’s a bit like sleeping in a tent as it’s dark and you can’t see outside, so it was good to take off today.
World oil prices have risen about 15% this year, and with the rising cost of diesel we’re very happy to own a very economical full-displacement vessel. Diesel costs about NZ$2.79 per litre here, while petrol costs about NZ$3.12 per litre! For our North American readers that’s gasoline at about US$9.72 per gallon. This year we expect to cruise about 2,400 miles and use about 3,200 litres of diesel, including for the generator. We like to keep our fuel tanks more than half-full both to reduce condensation in the tanks, and so that if any major problems develop in a country or region we can just point Envoy in another direction with enough fuel to cruise over 1,000 miles.
TRAVEL
When travelling to the boat from NZ there is always lot of “stuff” to take with us. This is mostly spare parts etc for the boat, but also items that are difficult to obtain in Turkey, like re-sealable plastic bags. Our family and friends help us out a lot by bringing stuff over for us when they visit, but this year we had to bring over 30kg of parts and heat insulation just to re-build the Lugger engine dry exhaust. Travelling economy class Korean Air was great. The standard check-in luggage allowance is 20kg each, plus cabin baggage of 12kg each, plus a laptop, briefcase or handbag. We made a special request to Korean Air to allow us an extra 10kg each of check-in at no extra cost, to which they agreed, and that meant that in total we carried about 95kg between us. We had a nearly 12 hour flight to Seoul, with a complimentary overnight stop in an excellent 4-star airport hotel. Next day another nearly 12 hour flight to Istanbul, where we’d booked an airport hotel for our short stay – arriving there at 9.30pm and leaving at 5am.
Turkish Airlines (part of the Star Alliance) were also great. For our one hour flight to Dalaman - they only charged us about NZ$41 for our 20kg of excess check-in baggage and allowed us aboard with all our additional cabin baggage. Some airlines are just anal about cabin baggage, making their customers really p’d off.
Weather here is cloudy with some showers, daytime temperature in the low 20’s, and night time about 14.
TECHNICAL
An engineer, Yilmaz, spent the whole of today re-assembling the Lugger engine dry exhaust system using the parts we brought from NZ, and all went well. While the engine was drained of coolant we checked the cooling system hoses, and replaced the two main ones which are at least six years old and showing signs of surface cracks and reduced flexibility. The last thing you want is a cooling system hose failing at sea.