The much anticipated arrival of Seabird aboard the ship Thorco Svendborg came, finally, on Friday,April 5th. It was supposed to arrive at 2pm and Seabird was to be unloaded at 6pm, but somehow, the ship did not show up. I mentioned in a previous blog that we could track the ship’s AIS (Automatic Identification System) through www.marinetraffic.com. In looking at the track, all of a sudden, about 10 miles from Marmaris, it took a direct 90 degree turn to the right. It stayed that way for about 3 hours and the speed dropped to 1 knot. Only after it arrived, we found out that the ship had lost all power and was drifting sideways during that period.
This is an “after the fact” representation as I remember it. The original course was lost after I logged out a few weeks ago.
Carol and I had gone to the pier next to our marina to wait for the ship. Around 5pm, it finally arrived.
Although we had a high level of confidence that Seabird was still aboard, we were still craning our necks to get a glimpse to make sure. As it pulled closer, we could see her proud exhaust stack nestled among the sailboat masts aboard the ship. The ship then slowly pulled up next to the pier and settled in. It was late in the day and we now had no illusions that the boat would be unloaded on that day.
Saturday morning we came over at 8am to start preparing the boat for unloading. We needed several hours to get it ready including uncovering the exhaust stacks, turning on all of the power and readying the boat with lines and fenders so that when it was launched, there would be no damage and no delay in departure. We did our part, but the weather was not cooperating. They had launched only one boat before the wind started picking up. The loadmasters were watching the wind very carefully and told us that when it hit 25 knots, operations would be suspended. We got our trusty hand held wind meter out and it was showing 15-20 knots, but the load masters were not impressed and shut down operations when it got close to 22 kts. I think they were being justifiably cautious to avoid any damage to the boats, and they made the correct decision. The only issue was that Sunday was predicted to have 35 knot winds, and with those conditions, there would be no chance that Seabird would be unloaded until Monday. At this point, we were just plain tired of staying in hotels and really wanted out own bed again. Disappointed, we left the pier, resigned to a few more days in the hotel.
Sunday was as predicted, with gusty winds approaching 35 knots. No chance of them unloading whatsoever. Monday was predicted to be less windy, but very rainy. Yuk! Going through the Suez Canal had left Seabird with fine, grainy sand all over it and the rain would just turn it into a muddy mess.
Carol and I were still asleep when the phone call came. I suspected that it was our agent saying they would unload our boat soon. It was still dark out and so I suspected it was about 5:30am. She told us that the boat was in the slings and they would be launching her in the next 20 minutes, so we needed to get there right away. Thanks for the notice! Anyway, I happened to look at my watch and I thought it may have stopped, because it showed the time at 1:05 in the morning! I asked Nadide, our agent, what time it was and she confirmed that it was indeed 1:05 am. My excitement about launching then shrank like a punctured balloon. I said “you’ve got to be kidding, right?” She said “sorry, not kidding”. I jumped into the shower to wake up and transported a very groggy Carol and myself to the pier.
We jumped on board and started readying the boat AGAIN! There was one task that I was not looking forward to and that was climbing up the mast in the dark to uncover the exhaust stacks. It was raining and the boat was all grimy and slippery. On top of that, the wind started picking up and it was blowing about 22 knots again! The loadmasters told us once again, that if the wind reached 25 knots, they had to shut down again. Ugh…… One thing was for sure: If the wind stayed where it was, they were launching the boat no matter what and I had to start it up and leave. To do this, the covers had to be removed from the exhausts. We did it….but I recall thinking that it will be a priority for me to come up with a better method for covering and uncovering my exhaust pipes!
Now the boat was ready and so were the loadmasters. They lifted Seabird up, swinging her over to the side of the ship and lowered her into the water.
When we loaded her in Phuket, the ship had a set of stairs leading to the water, where an inflatable boat took you from and to your vessel. It worked out very well, but they did not have that here. What they did have was a wobbly rope ladder hanging off the side of the ship to the even more wobbly boat. Carol caught me on camera climbing down the ladder. The camera did not catch my unhappy face.
The wind was still blowing and as Seabird pitched in the waves, I did not relish the idea of Carol and I climbing down the ladder, but we had no choice in the matter. I climbed down first and when I got to the bottom, the boat was moving to and from the ship. I waited for it to get close and kind of jumped over to the boat. Carol has shorter legs and was a bit uncomfortable, but she was determined to get aboard. With only a little bit of help from the load master and a good stretch and a jump,she got aboard safely.
I got to the controls, turned on what needed to be turned on, went downstairs to the engine room and switched on the battery switches for the engines. After I returned to the helm, my worst fears came true. I turned the keys and nothing happened! Crap…. I hustled down stairs again and realized that I had turned the switches on previously, but did not remember and when I went down a few minutes ago, I simply turned them off!! Old age is finally setting in….
Back at the helm, I turned the keys and everything started as planned. We left the ship behind and cruised around in the dark for 15 minutes while Carol got lines and fenders in place. We knew we were going to Netsel Marina, but did not know what slip was ours.
For those of you not familiar with Med Mooring, it is what they do in the Mediterranean, just about everywhere. Instead of “normal” docks and finger piers with pilings to tie to, they have mooring lines anchored about 100 feet off of the pier. You grab one (or in our case, we were handed one by the marina staff in a small boat) and back into the pier, stopping about 6 feet away. After the stern lines are secured to the pier, they tighten up the mooring lines. You then back down to put tension on them and they resecure the stern lines. All this would have been a fun and exciting adventure for us except for two things: It was dark,in an unfamiliar location and we were both dead tired. Thanks to a very efficient marina staff, we accomplished the task with minimal aggravation. The other issue is how to bridge the gap from the stern of the boat to the pier. We have what is called a Passarelle.
It is basically a glorified aluminum gangplank attached to the stern of the boat with the other end placed on the dock. That end has wheels on it.
Once the passarelle was secured, we connected the electricity to the boat and headed back to the hotel for some sleep.
Three hours of sleep later, we were both awake and just plain anxious to get back to Seabird and clean her up. A local company, Guven Marine, contracted with us to have a crew give it a good wash down. In Phuket, that meant $30. In Marmaris, it meant $250! On top of that, it is illegal to drain any suds or soap in the water here, so you can only use fresh water to wash the boat. Otherwise it is a $1500 fine. The boat actually came out just great. The guys worked hard and did a good job. By the way, the ban on soap includes Showering, dish washing and clothes washing. Go figure…sniff, sniff..
Soon the boat was clean and sparkling again. It now was nice to be here, back in our home. We were a bit disappointed regarding the technicalities on the use of soap, but we soon found out that it extended to many other areas….like the cell phone…which is for the next blog…