After a long stay in Marmaris, we had to bid the city goodbye so that we could travel to Gocek, Turkey, a small, seaside tourist town about 60 miles west east of Marmaris.
It was our first journey in Turkish waters and would be a good shakedown cruise for Seabird after having come from Thailand in April. It was not much of a trip and the charts turned out to be very accurate. It was thankfully an uneventful trip.
Turkey is definitely not Thailand as far as prices. In Marmaris, the slip price was almost $4000 USD for the month. In Thailand, we could stay 6 months for the same price at the best marina in Phuket! Upon arrival in Gocek, I longed for the days of Marmaris pricing. Here, the price was $4200 for 23 days! On top of that, where in Marmaris, electricity (only 16 amps of power though) was included. Here in Gocek, it was extra. It is a wierd system, one that I have not encountered before. They give you a small electronic disk, about the size of a quarter, and load it with how much power you want to buy. In my case, I bought 100 Euros, not knowing how much I would use. After you plug into the dock, you wave the disc in front of the digital readout on the meter and 100 Euros appears! As you use power, the amount goes down, eventually shutting off unless you re-up at the office!
Fortunately it was cool enough and we did not have to use the air conditioning more than a few hours for the entire stay. Ken and Roberta, on Sans Souci kept theirs on all the time last season. I think he told me that his electric bill was more than the price of the slip. Gulp!!
Speaking of Ken and Roberta, we were thrilled to catch up with them again! A few days after we arrived, Ken and Roberta flew in from Seattle with their complimentary crew of 4 mechanics to finely tune Sans Souci for the trip. We have not seen them at all since they left Hong Kong with their boat three years ago.
Nothing has changed with them except in Dogland. They now have two little pups they travel with.
Over the next week we all scrambled to get our boats ready for this years cruise from Gocek, through the Greek Islands and up to Croatia, where we will put Seabird and Sans Souci to bed for the winter.
Meanwhile, Gocek was fun. It is really a sleepy little town with lots of restaurants for tourists. In the winter, it just closes up. If you could see a 3D map, you would see that it is surrounded by mountains with only one or two entrances.
Preparing for the cruise
Seabird was actually in pretty good shape for the cruise. We had a few minor items to fix like the outboard motor, which needed to be tuned and some leaky plumbing, which Doug, one of Ken’s guys fixed in about 5 minutes. Ken had quite a few more items of electrical nature. It seems some electrical surges over the winter did some expensive frying of his equipment like the radar, a few home entertainment pieces etc.
On the last big trip with the three boats going from Alaska to Japan, we found it very helpful to have the same charting system. We all used Nobeltec Admiral and it worked out very well. It is a great, reliable system, but it is being phased out in favor of a new system, Nobeltec Odyssey. It is a completely different system with a completely different interface and is taking some getting used to. I was one of Nobeltec’s first customers in 1997 and basically used the same system for 16 years! So far I am impressed, but definitely still learning.
We were supposed to stay in Gocek until June 1st, but everything was completed early and we left Gocek on May 27th. Being that the slip was so expensive, I asked for a refund for the days that we were not staying. “No”, they told me without much explanation…. Well, ok, now it was 4200 Euros for 19 days….
The first part of the cruise was uneventful and it felt like Sans Souci and Seabird had never parted ways. Missing was the Pearl, Braun and Tinas boat. May the force guide them to the Med….
About halfway to our first stop I heard on channel 16:
“Seabird, this is Turkish Navy calling”
I responded and found out that they were conducting excercises in the area. Not just some small area, but an area of about 40 square miles with live fire from ships, helicopters and submarines. Needless to say, they wanted us out of the area. After several conversations between them, Sans Souci and us, we determined that they wanted us to head way south, which would have screwed up our plans to arrive in Bozborun, where we planned on checking out of Turkey and getting fuel for Sans Souci. We decided to play dumb and head west instead, although after a few miles we called them to ask if it was ok to continue that way.
“No, not ok, now must travel north and stay only 1000 meters from coast”
At that point we were kind of trapped and more and more warships were coming around.
Then came the Submarine
It is a good thing we were Friendlies. We were trapped like rats. After a brief discussion with Sans Souci, we decided to be more cooperative and we beelined for the coast and meandered back and forth to stay out of their way. At that point, we determined that we could not make Bozborun before sundown, so we sneaked into a small, pretty anchorage called Ciflik and called it a night.
In the morning, hauled anchor and headed to Bozborun, were we dropped anchor and Sans Souci waited to be called in to get fuel. Ken had arranged for an agent to clear us out of the country and arrange for fuel. Fuel in Turkey is nearly $10 per gallon at the pump and Ken needed about 2300 gallons. If you are leaving the country, the price is about $5 per gallon, so you always arrange to get it upon checking out. Unfortunately, if you say you need about 2300 gallons, thats how much they show up with and if it is too much, they force you to take it anyway, even if they have to put it into 5 gallon containers and drop it on to your back deck. Evidently, the fuel is logged as export and cannot be returned or given to anyone else (like me, for instance). Fortunately, Ken squeezed all but 1 Litre into his tanks but they made him take that last litre in a container!
One other interesting note: when arriving in Turkey, you are supposed to get a “Blue Card”, which you present to whoever pumps your waste tanks out on shore. You then go to the office and they log the pumpout into a national database. you need to have at least one pumpout every 5 years or you get a $1700 fine. We had no issues because we pumped out many times in Marmaris. When you leave the country, you present the blue card and if you have not pumped out, they nail you!
I asked Ken if he had one and he responded “whats a blue card?” Actually, there was no reason for him to pump out as he holds a vast amount of waste and traveled with the boat extensively the last two seasons where he could legally pump out the waste offshore. Never-the-less, if you dont have one, they fine you. At the last minute, before leaving Gocek, he got one and we found out upon checkout in Bozborun that they actually take the cards and check to see if you were legal. Ken presented his shiny new card and had no issues, fortunately.
We departed Bozborun about 2 pm for the Greek Island of Symi, where we were to spend a few nights and clear customs. Clearing into Greece clears us into the EU, which I will get into in another blog. It creates potential problems on its own, believe me!
Symi is a charming island only a few miles off the coast of Turkey.
We arrived late in the afternoon into the harbor and had to Med Moor, which we had only done once or twice before. In Marmaris, you had a marina staff to hand you a mooring line, which you tied to the bow and they guided you back into the wall, where you tied your lines and deployed your Passarelle (gangplank).
Here, there was no such help and you had to actually drop your anchor a few hundred feet out from the pier and back down to the pier and tie your lines. It is during this process that I realized that my port side steering station was broken and unresponsive. I have another one on the starboard side, but unfortunately, I had to back down next to Sans Souci, who was on my port side. Being on the starboard side, I could not see how close I was to his boat backing in and, even though I like to think I know how to handle a boat, but with only Carol and I on board it was difficult as I was driving and Carol could only be in one place at a time. She really needed to be deploying the anchor, fending off of Sans Souci, and throwing stern lines to the dock, all at the same time!
We did make it in, but it was not pretty. We decided not to deploy our Passarelle as we could hop over to Kens boat and get off from there.
In looking over the town, it was simply breathtaking.
We all went out for a nice dinner on the quay near the boat and planned our long walk up the hill in the morning.
We returned to the boat and retired early. About 5 am I thought I heard a crunch. All boats make noises but you get used to them and you know what is not normal. I peeked outside and everything looked ok. About 7:30, the winds started picking up and the boat would surge back and forth until there was no doubt about the loud CRUNCH I heard. Interestingly enough, it was not rough in the enclosed harbor, but the wind was very strong! The boat was now taking the sag out of the anchor chain and the swim platform was hitting the pier. I ran up to the bow and deployed my “emergency” manual anchor retrieval device, using that as I did not have time to start and engine and the hydraulics to tighten up on the anchor.
Ken was having the same problem and started his hydraulic windlass to pull in his chain to take out the slack. Above, Jeff snapped this photo of me desperately trying to pull our chain in with my giant lever!
It wasn’t enough. we kept surging back and hitting the wall, each time doing a little more damage. I ended up starting an engine and the hydraulics so that I could pull in the chain faster. The weather was getting worse by the minute and we were seeing gusts up to 40 knots in the basin, with the boat pitching back and forth and side to side. Now, Carol noticed that we were actually pulling the ring anchor from the dock too! At that point, I told Ken that we had to leave or risk serious damage to the boat. We hastily got the boat ready, only to find that there was no one to cast off the lines. Just as we were preparing to leave the lines at the dock, Carol found someone to untie them and we proceeded to pull the chain in and leave the pier.
Ken was not so fortunate. As he was preparing to leave, a charter sailboat had tangled his anchor in ken’s from across the way. While they were trying to untangle it from the sailboat end, Ken did his best to keep the stern of his boat off of the pier, with the winds gusting even higher. It took him nearly 45 minutes to get it done and away from the dock.
We could now proceed as planned, if we indeed had any…. We really had not given much thought to where we would go at that point. Once Ken was out of the harbor, we had a brief discussion over the VHF and decided to try a harbor called Panormita, which had a small boat harbor and was well protected from most winds. It was a great idea, but it was the same idea that 40 other boats had too, and their was no room for us. The weather was getting snottier by the moment and we scrambled together another plan to anchor out in the large bay, to the lee side of the land, near a large cliff.
the water was 80 feet deep and the winds were howling. Normally, I like to put down a minimum of 5:1 chain to depth ratio, but in these winds, I would prefer 8:1, which I did not have. We ended up putting out 350 feet of chain and sat waiting for the winds to die down. Fortunately, they abated late in the evening so that we could get some sleep, but UNFORTUNATELY, the winds dying down allowed the big rollers to come in. It was not dangerous, but made it impossible to sleep on either boat.
All four of us with red, sleepy eyes, looked forward to leaving in the morning, first light. We did just that and headed for the Island of Tilos, our next stop and a pretty anchorage called Eristos Cove. We arrived there only to find it just as rolly as the one we left. We had yet another discussion and decided to play it safe and head to ANY harbor that was away from the wind, which we found in a cute little harbor on the opposite side of the island in the town of Livadia.
It was still windy, but with no fetch, it was very calm. We had found the perfect anchorage. Needless to say, we slept like babies that night!
In the morning, the winds were gone and the sun was shining. After having lunch at a local cafe (whos owner happened to be from Queens, NY!) we rented a motor scooter to tour the island, which is basically one or two roads. We followed the signs to the monastery, which took us up this windy mountain road, with no guard rails up about 2000 feet! As scary as it was going up, we realized that we had to come down and had not really tested the brakes! Happily, they worked!
On day 2, Ken and Roberta rented a car to kind of backtrack our route on the scooter. We got about halfway up the mountain and decided to turn back. The road was looking awfully narrow…
This morning, we were supposed to leave for our next island, Astypalaia. While waiting for the alarm to go off, Ken called us on the VHF and said that it looked like we would be heading into 40kt winds. We could certainly do it, and we have faced worse, but we were not in a hurry, so, back to sleep we went. The idea was that if it calmed down by 11am we could still do it. And it was supposed to…. but it did not…..in fact, the winds got worse and I noticed that Sans Souci was starting to slip back in the wind, reaching 55 knots in the harbor! It seemed impossible that he could be dragging anchor as he had 250 feet of chain tied to a 350 lb anchor in only 30 feet of water. I called him on the radio to tell him and he let out another 100 feet and fortunately, it stuck. Seabird held firm and I am not sure why. We use a snub, which is two ten foot lengths of heavy nylon line with a hook on the end attached to the chain just below the waterline and it may just take up some of the shock, where chain only does not. Anyway, we are all secure again and the wind has subsided. Tomorrow we will try again to depart at 6am….