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Thursday, February 19, 2015

LOOKING BACK ON SIX YEARS OF LIVING THE DREAM - CRUISING THE MED (Part 5 of 5)

Envoy is currently at Lefkas Marina for the winter.
This is the last of a five part summary of Envoy’s six years Med cruising to date. The full article will shortly be published in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine.

How much does the live-aboard life cost?
Expect living costs such as food, beverages, household supplies and personal spending to be about the same when cruising as at home. Most other major costs including annual air travel to and from your boat, winter berthage, fuel, insurances and communications can be easily checked and budgeted for.

Many costs, such as winter storage, can be checked online and budgeted for


Over six years we have found repairs and maintenance to be our largest cost averaging about six per cent of the market value of our boat. This includes planned maintenance like oil changes and anti-fouling as well as the unexpected. The more you learn about your boat, the more you can do yourself to help reduce maintenance costs.

We have found repairs and maintenance to be the largest single cost

Have our early ideas and views changed and what would we do differently now?
We are very satisfied with our Nordhavn 46 and when we purchased Envoy we had thoughts about cruising home to use her in New Zealand, but we’ve since decided to eventually sell Envoy with all her equipment in the Med.

If doing the same again we’d look more closely at semi-displacement mono-hulls and displacement catamarans, and we’d bring a lot less with us from New Zealand as nearly everything is available in the Med.

Envoy has proven a great vessel for our Med adventures to date


Initially we were reluctant to leave Envoy unattended and explore inland. This was a mistake and we now readily do so, particularly to share this experience with guests.

Would we cruise the Med like this knowing what we know now?
Absolutely – this has been one of the most truly amazing episodes in our lives. Our great experiences will be remembered long after costs have been forgotten.


Advice for anyone planning to live aboard in the Med
If you think cruising and living aboard in the Med (or anywhere for that matter) is for you, make your plans now – life’s time clock is ticking! Your biggest decisions will probably revolve around work, finances, what to do with your house and buying your boat. Don’t let life’s minor issues (e.g. what to do with the cat) stop you.
However we need to mention one area of practicality – it’s rare to meet long term cruisers in their prime working years or with school-age children.
Do your research by reading, visiting cruiser’s blogs and talking with live aboard cruisers.
Buy a boat which is well equipped for long periods of comfortable living aboard. Have your boat professionally surveyed and ensure she is financially unencumbered before purchase. Spend some time with the boat’s previous owner to start developing a detailed knowledge of her operation, systems, maintenance and spare parts requirements.
Familiarise yourself with relevant regulations - the Schengen Treaty currently limits visits by New Zealand passport holders to three months in each country and Australians to three months in the total of all countries. If you buy a boat which is non-VAT paid you may wish to avoid the need to pay VAT; for example Envoy is New Zealand registered and can remain in EU waters up to 18 months at a time without paying VAT. Before the expiry of the 18 month period it is only necessary to leave EU waters for a few days, and the 18 month clock is re-set. These are complex issues and specialist advice should be sought for each set of circumstances.
Turkey, Croatia and Albania now require cruisers to use agents for clearing in and out. Even where not required it’s often a good idea to use agents as they offer excellent advice on how to extend your stay and to minimise your obligations as mentioned above.
Participate in repairs and maintenance to reduce costs and expand your knowledge.
Don’t rely solely on cruising guides but do your own exploring to find your own special places. Leave your boat to explore inland by bus, train or rental car.
Don’t plan to visit every stretch of coast and every bay, but be selective and spend quality time at the places you visit to enjoy them fully, not superficially.
Anchor as much as possible as Med casual marina prices are expensive, typically 60-130 Euros (NZ$97-210) per night.
Have full internet access onboard to stay in regular contact with friends and family, for weather forecasts and technical information, and use a system like Rebtel to minimise your ‘phone costs.
Enjoy times with guests while sticking to your own cruising plans and expect your guests to come to and leave from where you are located at that time.

Where to now?
We don’t yet know where to from here, except to say that we have no plans to cruise beyond the Med and sometime within the next few years we’ll again be regular cruisers back in New Zealand.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

LOOKING BACK ON SIX YEARS OF LIVING THE DREAM - CRUISING THE MED (Part 4 of 5)

Envoy is in Lefkas Marina, Greece for the winter until April.
This is part four of a five part summary of Envoy’s six years Med cruising to date. The full article will shortly be published in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine.

The Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea is so far our favourite cruising area incorporating the east coast of Greece, the north coast of Crete, the many Greek Aegean Islands and the east and south coasts of Turkey. It does not include the Dardanelles or the Sea of Marmara, where in our opinion areas of interest such as Canakkale, Gallipoli and Istanbul are best visited by land possibly leaving your boat at Ayvalik.
Time required – at least two seasons.

Map of the Aegean Sea bounded by Greece and Turkey

The prime cruising regions here are the fabulous Greek islands and the stunning Turkish south-west coast. The Greek Aegean Islands comprise the Sporades in the north, the Dodecanese in the south east, the Cyclades in the south west (Santorini with its steep cobblestone paths and whitewashed buildings with blue shutters epitomises your vision of a Greek island) and Crete in the south where the whole of its north coast is worth exploring. Most of these islands have interesting natural and historical features to view inland.
The prime Turkish region is from Bodrum to Antalya including the famed Turquoise Coast.

Simi is one of most beautiful Greek islands of this region


Diane and daughter Amy enjoying a swim while anchored off Bodrum's St Peters Castle

Envoy moored stern to shore in Turkey's English Harbour near Bodrum

Local Turks offering traditional pancakes

Picturesque Kalkan taverna

Envoy anchored at Greek island of Kastellerizon close to Turkish coast

It is worth taking the time to venture inland to visit the unique landscape, underground cities and cave churches at Cappadocia, accessible by a full-day bus or rental car trip from Turkey's south coast.
In our opinion secondary cruising areas are western Turkey northwards from Bodrum to Ayavalik (take a trip inland to see the stunning ruins of Ephesus), the northern Aegean’s peninsulas known as “the Three Fingers” and Greece’s east coast.
Few cruisers venture east of Turkey’s Antalya except to visit Cyprus or to pass into the Red Sea. Similarly few cruisers visit the African coast, and those who do mostly visit Tunisia or Morocco to buy cheap fuel or to winter at low costs.

Some of our great and not so great moments 
Our great times are experiencing new countries and their cultures, cuisines, customs and histories, particularly when sharing this with visiting family and friends. It’s also great meeting many other cruisers and local people, some of whom have become new friends. We love being aboard Envoy for long time periods, not being bound by schedules and all the time learning more about boating in general, Envoy, the sea and weather.
As Diane says, “it’s amazing to visit coastal ruins like those at Knidos in Turkey and walk where Julius Caesar once walked; to view the scenery from Envoy at anchor and realise that people have been looking at this for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years”.

Knidos in south-west Turkey is surrounded by easily accessible ancient ruins

Naturally we miss family and friends, but we’re home for four months of the year during the Med winter.
Of course we have not such great moments too! One day ashore in a Turkish taverna during a fierce storm a plate glass window implodes on us, showering us with shards of glass and requiring us to go to hospital for multiple cuts to be cleaned and stitched.

Laurie in Envoy's saloon with bandage covering stitched ear

Twice our smoke detectors have sounded and we had smoke billowing from our engine room making us fear a fire. Once this was caused by hot smoking grease being pushed out of a failed hydraulic pump seal and the other time our engine’s alternator failed and red-hot sparks emitting from its case starting a small fire that we quickly extinguished.
One night an unexpected storm whips up 55 knot winds causing our anchor to drag. Hail soon follows making vision extremely difficult, and our chart plotter chooses that moment to play up. Fortunately we are able to retrieve our anchor and carefully make our way back to shelter.
In Greece we’re cruising down a narrow channel busy with local tripper boats and small ferries. One ferry approaching us from ahead on our port side suddenly turns to port across our bow just metres ahead of us. We instantly react with full reverse power narrowly missing the ferry as her unknowing passengers give us a cheery wave.
We also have character-building frustrations such as solving onboard technical problems and dealing with not always helpful foreign officials and their bureaucratic regulations. ………… continued next posting