Saturday, 19 May 2018

This crazy world and life's frustrations with pleasant times also in Fethiye

Horrors - it's at least a fortnight since our last blog, but that is about to remedied. First of all, some comments on the world we live in -
We are often given to thinking that if there is some extraterrestrial being or beings that created the human race here on Earth, they would either be pulling their collective hair out or having a huge laugh at how their experiment could have gone so wrong! It's amazing actually how we have survived so long.
We have the increasingly disgraceful spectacle of the political establishment in the world's so-called foremost democracy doing their damndest to topple a legally elected leader, who is achieving great things, which of course undermines the very same political establishment (the Washington "swamp") and drives them ever onwards with increasing desperation in their attempts at political sabotage. And all at the expense of their country, of which they don't appear to care about in any way whatsoever.
Donald Trump has achieved what no President in 40 years has managed to do and that's to force a showdown in person with the North Korean leadership. Not to mention the (so far) cordial discussions between the two Koreas. He deserves the Nobel Peace prize for this remarkable achievement, but will probably not be nominated, as the Nobel Committee is politically left leaning. They gave it to Obama, but now nobody is sure what for actually. But we doubt that Trump will be too worried about that - he'll be concentrating on breaking North Korea's nuclear ambitions once and for all and also with the added benefit of bringing an improvement in living conditions to the people of the DPRK - that's a misnomer if ever there was one!!. But as an afterthought, how can you negotiate with a lunatic who says on the one hand that his aim is denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the other hand says that he won't be told by the US or anyone else for that matter to give up his nuclear toys? It's a tough call for Trump - if indeed the Singapore meeting ever happens.
Then there's Iran. Jim often recalls the remarks of a director of a notable Auckland meat export company that Jim worked for in the late 1970's when the company was exporting large quantities of NZ meat to Iran. He said that the average Iranian would cut their grandmother's throat for sixpence and of course right now the stakes are much greater than sixpence. We have no doubt that President Trump is absolutely correct in withdrawing from that poisoned deal and will in concert with Israel prevent Iran from covertly developing nuclear weapon capability under the former umbrella of a flawed agreement.
Not so sure about the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, but once again Trump has been pilloried as being responsible for the deaths of aggressively rioting Palestinians. The fact is that there would have been no deaths if they hadn't rioted. There are always peaceful ways of conveying disagreement. 
Then there are presidential elections coming up in June here in Turkey and also in Colombia. We are about to apply for a 1 year residency in Turkey and so are wondering what would be the effect if the incumbent is defeated as some are predicting. Very unlikely and we have been assured that there is no cause for concern, but there may be some unrest and we may need to do a midnight flit to Greece (Rhodes is only 43 miles away) on the boat - let's hope we are back in the water by then! Colombia is an open book and we have very little idea of the respective merits of the candidates. Suffice it to say that they all have considerable political baggage - some much more than others. But overall we have faith that Colombia will never return to the anarchy of the past and will continue with the massive strides that they have made to date. 
Another political development that has riveted our attention due to our time spent there on Langkawi Island, is the stunning upset in Malaysia. The 92 year old Dr. Mahathir and his multiracial party have triumphed over many years of cronyism and out and out corruption. He may have been involved in some of that in the past during his 22 previous years as PM, but former PM Najib and the 1MDB scandal take the cake. There are some 3 - 5 billion US dollars missing from the so-called state owned sovereign wealth fund (1MDB) which was established by Najib and it is to be hoped that eventually the government succeeds in recovering the lost and stolen funds, which undoubtedly the former PM, Najib, his political cronies and some of his family are up to their crooked necks in misappropriating. At one stage USD700,000 landed in one of Najib's personal bank accounts; he claimed that it was a personal political donation from Saudi Arabia which at the time the Saudis denied. Apparently his wife had a predilection for expensive USD20,000 handbags, according to a newspaper report from Malaysia. The report actually said "USD200,000", but we can't believe that would be true! Even a PM's salary doesn't provide that sort of purchasing power. These stories would never have seen the light of day during Najib's tenure as the paper would have been shut down and the journalists thrown in jail.
There are many other people in Malaysia from the former PM down who deserve to be thrown in jail. Let's hope this is a true watershed and that at last Malaysia can progress as it should in the world.
In Australia we have the cricket cheating scandal which possibly surpasses even the underarm bowling incident of a few years ago. And Australian Rugby have just been quoted as saying that they need to increase their level of cheating to effectively counteract NZ's continuing dominance in that code. At least we're forewarned! And the Australian finance industry Royal Commission of Inquiry which continues to expose shonky and downright illegal actions by finance companies and the big banks - who all also operate in NZ. But at least NZ has a far stricter regulatory framework which hopefully will curb their worst excesses.  
New Zealand by comparison seems quite benign, although not without some serious headwinds ahead. Costs are already high in NZ and with oil now tipped to hit USD140 per barrel, the economy will be severely affected. Then there has been a resurgence of the "dirty politics" first experienced under the former National Government with all sorts of political innuendo being pedaled by political low-lifes. The latest apparently have been a series of deliberate rumours about the PM's partner being investigated by the Police. This prompted the necessary and unprecedented Police response that there is and has been no such investigation. Then there's the cow disease which is endemic in all but 2 countries in the world, and which has just recently developed in NZ. There is a scheme afoot to slaughter all affected stock which would just about wipe out 100% of NZ's dairy industry - not to mention the export meat industry as well. Let's hope wiser heads prevail.
Where is all of this taking us? It's a worry.  
In the meantime though we shrug off all these concerns and are getting on with life here in Fethiye - dealing with the usual boatyard frustrations. The yard work is moving very slowly as they are very busy with mainly antifouling other plastic boats and getting them in the water ahead of the summer just starting. But things are starting to move at last. However, the lack of safety concerns us with dry antifouling being sanded with no protection such as masks or overalls whatsoever. The owner of the yard proudly showed us a respirator but it is never used!! He has said he feels sick after a bit of sanding or painting - Duh! In the meantime though we are getting on with our share of the work with sanding and painting the insides of the bulwarks, the caprails, coachroof and coamings The rudder still has to be re-fitted back onto the boat. Needs about 4 people to lift it!!.
We re quietly getting on with our jobs but getting not a little frustrated that yard jobs are taking so long. All the hull sanding has now been done thank goodness, but things have sputtered to a stop once more. Apart from our own smaller jobs, we need a stainless steel plate (forrard port side) removed, cleaned up and replaced, the pulpit modified to allow access when "Med moored", the rudder and associated fittings replaced and all exterior painting completed. It's like pulling teeth.
Then there is the saga of Jean's 2 boxes of health products from I-Herb in California. You absolutely would not believe the run around we have had spanning at least 12 visits to the Post Office and Customs over the past 3 weeks. It culminated recently in a visit to Customs to get the final declaration to enable us to take delivery from the PO. The head sharang told us that he could not issue the declaration because the doctor's prescription had incorrectly specified a couple of quantities - a 1 instead of a 2 for instance. So the head Customs guy whose English was only about 30% came with us in a local bus to the PO to inspect the packages and carefully write down the quantities. Then the next day Jean had to visit the doctor again to get another "correctly" worded prescription which she then took back to Customs. An hour and a half later the declaration was ready. During this time Jim was working on the boat. Then it was back to the PO to collect but another hiccup because the PO computer system crashed. That took almost an hour with Jim double parked with the hazards on and now, 3 weeks later, we have the items worth all of USD200. And we had to pay 20% duty. What a palaver!!!
Meantime we are about to make application for our 12 months temporary Turkish residency. We have an immigration consultant doing that for us so all should go smoothly. The cost in total including all fees and his charges amount to TRY1238 for both of us - that's NZD405 - and that works out to NZD1.11 per day over 12 months so not too bad.
Another thing which is working for us is that the Turkish Lira is heading south in a big way. 3 years ago NZD1 was buying TRY0.85 and now the Kiwi is buying TRY3.10 and that's a decline in our favour of 265%. That's in spite of a corresponding recent steady decline in the Kiwi itself. But marinas and boatyards which constitute the majority of our current expenditure right now get around that difficulty by quoting and charging in Euros and the Kiwi isn't doing so well against the Euro! 
Just as well we're not still in Malaysia; there we had been buying up to MYR3.30 and right now it's MYR2.72 - a decline of 18% in 6 months. Main reasons for that are that Malaysia has oil and gas and with the political changes as well, the strength in the Ringgit will no doubt continue. The Colombian Peso is another currency we watch closely. It has appreciated against the Kiwi from COP2100 to COP1981 = NZD1 from when we were there last year. That's a movement against us of almost 6% - still we're not there at the moment. And the apartment which is always quoted in COP will have increased in value relatively. The main reason for that is that Colombia has much oil and is the beneficiary of the increased oil price. In addition real estate in Medellin is continuing to rise with increased expat demand - mainly from North America. Our apartment has now been let for 2 months but we cannot access the rental income as it is being paid into a COP account we have with a local finance house. Anyway, it will be a bit of a nest egg building up for when we finally get back there.
Our health has been somewhat indifferent of late. We have both had sore necks and shoulders which has made working a bit of a trial. Not sure how all that has come to pass but we both went to a recommended local doctor who used a TENS machine on both of us. This is an electronic massage machine and the effects were not wonderful. Incidentally you can buy the most expensive of these machines for about TRY340 and he charged us TRY300 for 30 minutes! We won't be going back there any time soon. Jean has since found a Turkish esoteric masseuse who was much better and Jean has improved. Jim seems to be improving regardless of any treatment.
But it's all been a bit of a trial with the work we have been doing - however, the sanding which is the most strenuous is all done now.
The weather is noticeably getting warmer now with afternoon temperatures in the high 20'sC and we are constantly told about the summers (July/August) which can reach 50C!! Still it gets cooler at night unlike the tropics where the temperature is a constant 30C for 24 hours and humid as well. At least here the humidity is relatively low. And the high temperatures are only for about 2 months - not 12!! 
Apart from all that, life remains pleasant here staying at the Anna Apart Hotel out at the southern end of Calis Beach which is only a 10km drive to the boatyard. And the markets remain sources of wonderful fresh food.
Hopefully in the next blog we'll be able to report that we are back in the water again and at the Ece Saray Marina. There we will be "Med mooring" with the bow into the pontoon and the stern secured to moorings out in the water. Hence the need to modify the pulpit.
Today we went to the boatyard early but ended up only washing the boat down as the weather is looking threatening with the possibility of rain - and in fact we have since had some drizzle - not good for wet paint!! So we repaired to the Mulberry Café for breakfast (bacon and cheese omelette) and then we intended to go back to the Mulberry Café to watch the royal wedding which starts at 2pm.Turkish time. However, we found that the bar at the Anna was also showing the wedding live so we settled down there with 2 glasses of white Turkish wine each, a bottle of water and a plate of chips and 3 people from Northern Ireland. Very British!! Wonderful to watch and a great spectacle as expected, although one can't help speculating on all the undoubted undercurrents of feelings in the Royal Family and also feeling so sad that Diana could not have been present.
Not much more news because life at present is mainly eating, sleeping and going to the boatyard! Can't wait to get back in the water.
Cheers and lotsaluv from us here in Fethiye, Turkiye.....................
Jim and Jean


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Fethiye, Turkey - and politics

We are settling into our life here well. Tiare is sitting well at the Yes Marina and we are continuing to get her back into sailing trim. We have been told that it could be another 3 weeks before we are hauled out (approx. 25/04) so we have made the decision to take advantage of the fact that we are not living on board to undertake some varnishing - particularly around the galley and fridges. A golden opportunity. Then in 3 or 4 days we will move back on board and save some accommodation costs.
Fethiye is very busy and parking almost impossible. So, if we feel like lunch at a café anywhere it will be a matter of getting a Dolmus small bus instead of trying to drive the car.
Jim has had a sore lower back ever since one of our anchoring forays off Ao Po waiting to be loaded and so we contacted a massage therapist who had been recommended to us. He came to the Anna Hotel and gave Jim a deep tissue massage which was exceedingly painful but has eased the back and neck considerably. Next is to find a Turkish bath where we can soak in hot water. We also went to a chandlery (the only one in Fethiye) and bought 2 new 12v fans as the others had packed up. Good brand and way cheaper than anything in SE Asia - or NZ for that matter. We'll need those in the summer. Also the Imray Greek Waters Pilot by Rod and Lucinda Heikell. He is a New Zealander who has been sailing the Med for years and the guide is packed with information. Lots of reading, passage planning and studying to do.
In addition new horizons every day. We had a light lunch at a café (one of about 6) on the waterfront roughly halfway between the town and where we are staying at Callis Beach. Only TRY28 - that's NZD9.50) for both of us. Food here is so good and incredible value. There was a gentle breeze blowing in off the Aegean which made it all very pleasant.
We have been amazed to read (10/04) in the NZ Herald of news of the storm which has been pummeling Auckland - 70-80 knot winds by all accounts. This time not a tropical ex-cyclone, but a rip roaring southerly which has brought tornadoes and destructive winds. By comparison Fethiye seems quite benign and is very sheltered. Where Tiare is berthed it is virtually landlocked. The spring weather is wonderful - cloudless but brisk mornings which warm up during the day and then sometimes light showers in the evening. Still some snow on the higher peaks visible from the town.
We found  a Turkish Bath House near here and so we decided to go there as part of the back treatment. Jean has been using her healing skills to great effect as well and so off we went. First, they put you in a sauna for a minimum of 15 minutes and that is all we could stand. It was HOT! Next we went into a large room with marble slabs in the middle and marble arches all around. There were a series of scrubs and being doused with warm water. And a massage which in Jim's case was fairly painful, but it has helped no end. The back ailment is at least 75% better. Lying on the marble slab appealed to our sick sense of humour as possibly the next time that happens we might not be compos mentis!
More Fethiye experiences - a few days ago we drove for one and a half hours north to Mamaris where we had lunch at the Netsel Marina's Pineapple Restaurant. We met Adelina there whose acquaintance we had made back on Phuket when she was visiting at the same time as our stay there. We passed a very pleasant 3 hours or so. The road north is a monument to road building - 2 lanes and sometimes 3 in each direction and over quite mountainous terrain with steep grades. Turkey is NOT a 3rd. world country. And all on the WRONG side of the road! We came away however feeling pleased that we were in Fethiye as Mamaris which has been a yachting hub for very many years, is highly commercialized and not very interesting. Bit like comparing Gulf Harbour or Tutukaka or Marsden Marina with the Town Basin in Whangarei.
There's another similarity with NZ - and unfortunately that's pine tree pollen. Parts of southern Europe are covered in a Mediterranean-type pine which sheds pollen in the spring and that's playing havoc with Jean's allergic reaction. Anyway, she has some anti-histamines and a puffer and the pollen doesn't seem quite as potent as it is in NZ.
Yesterday (16/04) was a red letter day because we moved back onto the boat. We had taken pots and pans off the boat earlier so we packed everything up again and moved it all onto the old girl again. A great feeling to be "at home" again in foreign waters. The climate is great - cold mornings with almost no wind and then around midday the wind increases which counteracts the afternoon temperature increase. Cool nights and we now have a duvet on our bed courtesy of Lorraine and Graham of "Lorrigray" back on Langkawi. They've cruised the Med. before and understand the climate here!! 3 am here is quite cold at the moment.
We were working on the boat and then went into town to get a couple of things at the chandlery. You can't park for love or money so we took a local Dolmus (Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter, etc.) and after we got off we walked through a small craft market where a delightful couple from eastern Turkey were setting up a small shop selling Turkish carpets etc. His first comment on seeing us was "are you off a boat?". Must have been the slightly ragged clothes and the careworn look! He said we didn't look like tourists which we took as a compliment. They offered us cups of Turkish tea which we had had many times before and which are very refreshing. We're looking for a floor covering looking ahead to the 2018/19 winter so we'll be back. They have very hard wearing flat weave carpets which are cheap and which could be suitable.
On that note, we have discovered that the Turkish coffee myth is largely that. Turkey does not grow coffee so all is imported. The legend has grown around the very strong coffee, but it's all how it is served. By comparison tea is the national drink and is invariably served with and after meals. It is lovely and the Turks drink it all the time. It is grown around the Turkish coast of the Black Sea. 
We've been having the usual visits to markets with all the array of delicious food. And patronising the Mulberry Café which is an absolute Brit hangout in town - as are many cafes and restaurants up at Callis Beach and no doubt other places. Many of them have things like "bacon butties" on the menu - so boring and unhealthy!!
Then another red letter day - yesterday (25/04 - Anzac Day - don't mention Gallipoli!) when we hauled out at Levent's boatyard - only 0.2 of a mile from the Yes Marina. We spent the best part of an hour tootling around the bay while Levent observed our water leak in the stern. He took photos and has a good handle on what could be causing it. Then the haulout which can be best described as a bit hair raising. They operate a 4 wheel drive machine a bit like a travel lift with 2 straps but it doesn't have the high framework of a travel lift. It also goes down a very steep ramp right into the water and you float between the 2 steel beams each side and on top of the straps. Then they haul the straps in tight to hold the boat and drive it out of the water. But because the straps only come up to about deck level, they don't do a good job of holding the yacht upright! So we tied the base of the mast to each of the steel beams to stop her falling over. Still, she couldn't fall too far as she would be stopped by the beams, but it certainly would not be a good outcome. Anyway, she was successfully hauled and yours truly stopped biting his nails! She was water blasted and as part of that one source of the leak was immediately apparent. There is a bronze plate above the top rudder pintle and it does not fit to the hull tightly so that is definitely one. More on this to come.
However, the more we delve into immigration issues (mainly in the EU), the more we realise that we have a problem. We had originally intended to sail west through Greece during the summer - possibly starting towards the end of June, but after reading the Greek Waters Pilot it is becoming apparent that this may not be a good strategy. The Meltemi blows very strongly, often over 30 knots for prolonged periods, from the NW - W during these months and this is exactly the direction in which we would be sailing. So, as we won't be ready until June after the haulout etc., it makes more sense to stay in Fethiye. The ECE Marina which is much bigger than Yes, has excellent long term rates (under NZD20 per day and including power and water) and we could probably be staying for 11 months. Then we could sail in the spring (around March) of 2019. We would need to apply for temporary residence in Turkey and can get up to 2 years. So, it's becoming more and more of a no-brainer. The other issue for us is that as NZ has visa waiver arrangements with the EU for holders of NZ passports. This means that, although we can only stay for 90 days in any one EU country at a time, at least we can stay in the EU by keeping on moving but we can only return to a country after the expiry of 180 days (6 months). But when you have a boat to also deal with, this constant moving becomes quite difficult and tedious. So, we can only get 3 months each in Greece, Malta and Italy.  In our case, if we left Turkey before mid April 2019, we could make enough westing early enough to avoid the worst of the Meltemis but of course that's now 11 months away. Then when we get to Sicily we would have to leave again after 3 months and the only logical destination from there is Tunisia which may be OK but we would have to stay there for 6 months before returning to Sicily. At least going to Tunisia, resets the clock - not only for us but for the boat as well. So, it's all a bit fraught and so subsequent travelling needs to be balanced against seasonal weather patterns and pesky visa requirements.The yacht can stay in the EU for up to 18 months as a non EU registered vessel, but, unless we keep moving with a maximum of 90 days in any one place, we cannot. We did think that we could have sailed to Sicily this year, but as we've had to haul out which means a later departure from Turkey, and after reading the Greek Waters Pilot, it does not look like a viable strategy. So, it looks like over-wintering in Turkey with possibly a trip on the side to Medellin around October or November. Jean could possibly, as part of that, be in Miami (insurance notwithstanding!) for Carter's 5th. birthday in October. It was only 5 years ago when we received the news of his birth one night when we were in the Java Sea heading for southern Malaysia. So much has happened in such a short time.
Anyway, meantime the rudder has been taken off the old girl and there is wear with the top shaft where it passes through the hull. And the so-called re-packing of the top gland at Krabi was a joke - another example of the woeful lack of engineering expertise at that place back in 2014. So, once she is back in the water, we will concentrate on marketing the old girl for sale and enjoying life in Fethiye - which isn't difficult! The bronze fitting has been sent to Istanbul - either for re-manufacture or repair. We aren't sure which at this stage.
We've been going to the yard on a regular basis and were there at 0830 this morning to do some more sanding of the caprails and bulwarks. Still lots to do but we're making progress. We've already sanded and undercoated the boom. There are also the cabin coamings and coachroof to do so we will be busy. Some of it hasn't been done since NZ so a bit of deferred maintenance. WE bought some material used in building to cover the decks for protection against boatyard workers' dirty shoes which they won't remove and of course the sun. It's now getting up to close to 30C in the afternoons so summer is not far away. 
The Anna Hotel is comfortable but some frustrations. We have a 2 hotplate cooker but only 1 works. The solution as far as the guys who run this place is to swap with another room - never mind that there will just be other complaints in the future! We priced a new cooker the other day in a store similar to Mire 10 and it was 147 TRY (NZD51) so it wouldn't be difficult  to replace all of them but the Turks don't seem to think that way - at least not here at the Anna!! Anyway, we've now got one with 2 plates working - no doubt at some other unfortunate guest's experience in the future.
Well that's another fascinating tale of our latest doings for your delectation. There will be more to come....................
Cheers and lotsaluv from us at Fethiye, Turkey.......................................
Jim and Jean

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The arrival Fethiye, Turkey

Hi to all - as always we hope this finds you in the pink. Today (05/04) is the start of day 8 in Turkey. We have been googleing the m.v. Annegret all the way from Phuket and she is now just entering the southern part of the Suez Canal so not far away now. We have in fact been given April 8th. as the ETA Fethiye. Since we arrived in Fethiye (which is about 500 miles south of Istanbul on the south coast of Turkey) we have contacted Sevenstar's agents here and given them the Thai Customs clearance documents as well as our NZ ship registration, Jim's NZ Coastguard certificates (which they were most impressed by!), and our insurance certificates.  Much stricter requirements here than in Asia.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The first thing we must report is that Jean's brother, Keith, is much improved and in fact back home. He was incredibly lucky as apparently the first heart attack occurred in the doctor's surgery where of course everything was on hand to treat him. He was then choppered to Auckland Hospital where there were stents inserted and now back home again. It could easily have been a very different outcome.
We first flew from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur on Malindo Airlines - one and a half hours, an excellent flight and far better than Air Asia in the past. Don't know why we hadn't tried them before. But all the way to KL the haze meant that we could barely see the ground - industrial pollution from China. Another very good health reason to be leaving SE Asia. We have of course commented on this in the past. Thailand's Phang Nga Bay just east of Yacht Haven has some of Thailand's best maritime scenery, but you can't see it until you get close and then it's shrouded in this haze. And the water is not clean either. Thailand is justly famous for its Karst limestone island scenery but it's all being ruined by pollution - lack of proper sewerage treatment, agricultural run-off and of course the industrial haze. It's tragic and covers most of SE Asia. We read somewhere recently that SE Asia is responsible for some 60% of maritime plastic waste floating in the sea worldwide. There needs to be a drastic sea change in basic attitudes but we don't see it happening anytime soon. Our friends, Drew and Kat on Langkawi are making valiant attempts in this regard, but they have an uphill battle. All power to them.
We flew out of KL on Turkish Airlines still on an overall Malindo ticket as that was the most economical way to book the flights. Seems ludicrous that, rather than booking direct with Turkish Airlines, booking through a partner airline is the way to go. However, as a result we also managed to get the appropriate number of Turkish's Miles and Smiles airpoints, so a double bonus. Had 2 aisle seats opposite each other which weren't too cramped. 10 hours to Istanbul and good flight as Turkish always is. Night time flight so managed to sleep with our new neck cushions which was good. Watched "The Darkest Hour" which was a bit of a tear jerker and we hadn't realized just how close Britain came to virtual surrender to Nazi Germany in 1940 - if it hadn't been for Winston Churchill. He was hated and vilified by much of Britain's political establishment and even initially greatly distrusted by the King, but he saved Britain and indeed the rest of the world. History would have otherwise been very different. Senior members of the ruling British Conservative Party - notably Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary and the former PM, Neville Chamberlain, were all for a negotiated peace with Herr Hitler. Churchill's rhetorical comment was "how do you negotiate with a tiger when your head is in its mouth?" When Churchill then asked if they would like to see the Swastika flying over Buckingham Palace, certain people were suddenly galvanized into reality!! Shades of Donald Trump - similarly and relentlessly vilified but he is belatedly doing whatever is necessary to re-establish America's commercial and military dominance which can only be in all our interests. Consequences of  a necessary trade war are a price that must be paid. At least it won't be as bad as the London blitz and everything else that occurred during the course of WWII.
We flew into Istanbul just after 5 in the morning local time and had the usual seamless ride through Turkish Immigration and Customs. Ataturk International Airport is a very major hub and could teach some other airports a lesson in efficiency. Soon at our usual haven, the Steigenberger Airport Hotel. After the usual sumptuous Turkish breakfast, we slept for a few hours and eventually made our way down to an early dinner. Then more sleeping. The weather in Istanbul was freezing, cloudy and bleak - 8C and strong northerly winds straight off the Russian Steppes! Bit of a shock after 35+ in Thailand! Fortunately we had sufficient winter type clothes but we are limited in that regard after 4 years in the tropics and our usual policy of travelling light. Jim's Merino wool jersey that Linda had kindly posted from NZ to Yacht Haven was a godsend.
We had one full day in Istanbul the day after so we went to an area where there are 2 shopping malls - heated! Our main focus was to get Turkish Sims for our phones which we did through the local Turkish Vodaphone which had been recommended by the hotel. Our numbers are Jean +90 5469151339 and Jim +90 5469151343.
Had a very good lunch in one of the malls and then back to the Steigenberger for more R & R. Still very tired after the events of the past few days.
The next day we were up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for our one and a half hour flight to Dalaman which is the airport for Fethiye. The flight wasn't until 1340 but the smaller (mostly domestic) airport at Sabiha Gokcen is much further from the city than the main Ataturk International Airport where we had flown into from KL. So we hopped into a Fiat taxi at 1000 and just as well because the traffic was horrendous. For at least part of the way it's also the main route to Ankara and was heavily clogged with so many trucks. Our driver spent most of his time on the motorway shoulder and passed miles of trucks - otherwise it's doubtful that we would have made it in time. He was great. The usual massive security which is endemic at Turkish airports since the terrorist attack at Ataturk some 2 years ago - bit of a trial taking the laptop out and watch, phones, coins and belts off but all in a good cause.
The flight south was great on Pegasus Airlines. We had exit row seats so plenty of legroom and the scenery was spectacular. Reminded us of a flight from Auckland to Christchurch with rugged mountains and many snow-capped peaks. Soon into Dalaman and onto a large modern bus for Fethiye about an hour away. Great road - 2 lanes in each direction. Can't quite remember but a very cheap trip - only TRY20 each which is NZD14 for both of us. We had booked a room sight unseen at a guesthouse out of Fethiye (the Anna Apart Hotel) on the net so were a bit apprehensive but after a cheap and short taxi ride we were agreeably impressed. Room is small but spotlessly clean. There is a bar/restaurant staffed by friendly people who speak reasonably good English and the distance to Yes Marina where the boat is going to be is only about 10 kms. The hotel is on a main road so a bit noisy but it's near Callis Beach which reminds us a bit of Orewa (similarly flat), although smaller. It's an enclave of Brits - many live here permanently, but also many left since the coup last year and real estate is CHEAP! Around the equivalent of NZD100,000 for a very attractive stand alone villa with a pool. But we feel that there is a pervasive feeling of suppression - probably from the Muslim religion and not least the dictatorial government that has sprung from the coup. Locals are reluctant to talk about politics and there is always a feeling of looking over one's shoulder.
But the people are great and we negotiated a move into a slightly larger apartment still at the Anna with its own cooking facilities - very basic but we can buy food and prepare it ourselves which will save money.  Only TRY80 per night which is NZD28. It's still the off-season but by the time full season arrives we should be back on the yacht. We've been to 2 markets so far and the range of food and goods is mind boggling. Fantastic fresh food and just about everything you can think of. They even grow their own Kiwifruit - at least as good as anything seen in NZ and they call them Kiwis without the faintest idea where the name comes from or indeed where NZ is! So much that is familiar from NZ including loquats, brussels sprouts and all manner of wonderful fruit and veges. And the tastes and flavours which we have largely lost in NZ are to die for.
We hired a car for one day to ease getting around to the port agent etc and also to familiarize us for driving on the wrong side of the road. We have to get used to this sometime as Colombia also drives on the right. Now we have hired a car from another agency which is cheaper. It's a small Renault and is only 75 TRY per day (NZD26) and fully insured. It's manual which is a bit of a challenge as one keeps reaching for the shift with the wrong hand!! But at least the driving here is not murderous as it is in Thailand. Generally locals are courteous but easily get impatient with our slow but steady progress! When you're driving on the WRONG side of the road and don't know you're way around it pays to be a bit slow and steady.
We've been slowly getting more familiar with things and where things are and even found a café in town which is owned by a Brit and is a Brit hang-out. We tried the fish and chips but they were a bit of  disappointment. Fethiye is a lovely town and very picturesque with 1 large marina (Ece) and 2 smaller ones. We prefer Yes Marina and we have met the key people there. They have said that they would move a boat so that we could have an alongside berth due to the difficulty of us getting on and off the stern or bow if we "med moor" stern or bow to. All seems to be on track for "Annegret's" arrival on the 7th. We keep tracking her progress on and she is making good progress and on time.
Imagine our chagrin therefore to be told by Sevenstar that they had not yet received the balance of the freight payment. We had organized a wire through our NZ bank and thought that all was in order. However, when we looked into it yours truly had misread a digit of their account number with Deutsche Bank in The Netherlands and of course the payment hadn't been received. The only excuse was that the payment was done when very tired after the 10 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur - but no excuse - only a reason. Anyway, it turned out that Deutsche Bank had returned the funds as there was no such account number - thank goodness. So, after a 3 am (Turkish time) call to ASB in Auckland, it was all sorted. ASB was to re-send the funds and Sevenstar accepted that as we had built up a rapport over a few years and they felt they could trust us!
Anyway, today was the redletter day as forecast. We thought we were to meet the port agent at his office but it turned out to be the Harbour Master's office at 0745 and so we drove into town. Duly met up after that little bit of confusion and were then taken out to "Annegret" which we'd already seen at anchor. Had to climb a vertical rope ladder up the ship's side, which was something of a trial due to the knees!! "Persephone" was to be 1st. to be discharged, followed by another monohull and then us. The first 2 were splashed in the morning and then it was lunchtime. Had a very interesting conversation on board with the British Loadmaster who comes out from the U.K. specially for the unloading. Turns out he is the owner of a clinker built dinghy which had been built as a jolly boat by the Royal Navy in the 50's. He's restored her absolutely authentically - even with a Seagull outboard motor!! Reminded Jim of his clinker sailing dinghy "Tiare Taporo II" built for him by Percy Vos in 1966 and which also at one stage had a Seagull! Now on permanent loan to the Auckland Traditional Wooden Boat School - now in their new premises on Te Atatu Peninsula.
Jean had with usual foresight prepared some great sandwiches which were consumed with gusto and then the crew swung into action. Used the forrard crane port side and the straps were duly lowered down each side. As they took the weight, the supporting chocks were  removed and she was swinging free. Then up and over the side until the deck was level with "Annegret's" well deck where Jean and yours truly were waiting. A precarious exit over the ship's rail and onto TT3"s deck and then we were lowered to her natural environment. What a great feeling to now be in Turkish waters. Jim had already been on board in the morning to start the engine as we have the ability to run the engine out of the water using as cooling water a sink full of fresh water in the galley. So we knew there was no problem with the engine and sure enough once again she started first push of the starter button. A great engine, this 54 yr old Ford. The straps were removed and we said goodbye to "Annegret" and her crew and headed into shore towards Yes Marina. Tried repeatedly to raise them on the phone but to no avail! Talk about frustrating as we had only talked to them the day before. Eventually someone answered the phone and it transpired that our contact was off for the day and he hadn't moved the yacht that he had promised to do. However, by luck there was another alongside berth free and we thankfully tied up there. Totally knackered at this stage. The boat was surprisingly and thankfully very clean down below, but on deck and everywhere on rigging and stanchions etc there was a coating of damp Sahara muddy dust so that will be the priority - cleaning the topsides and deck. But we have to say we have been agreeably surprised by everything. We left her tied up at Yes Marina and then had about a kilometer walk back to the car at ECE Marina. Drove out to Callis Beach area where we had a very welcome beer and late lunch and then back to the hotel where we have crashed. However, Jean has managed to do the washing - as you'd expect!! She even has a washing machine which, although temperamental, sure beats doing it in a bucket on the marina!  
This morning we went to the local Sunday market with a trolley we had bought a couple of days ago and it almost felt like being back in Whangarei - except for the prices and the array of food and other goods such as clothing, etc etc. Then after an abortive attempt to find an environmentally friendly detergent (because it's definitely frowned upon here to put anything in the water - even soapsuds!), we went to the boat. However, plain water removed 90% of the dirt which was Saharan desert mud mixed with salt water  - gluggy but fairly easy to clean off with a good pressure hose and fresh water which we had. The old girl is looking much more her old self and now with biminis back in place. No need for full awnings at this stage as it's nowhere near as hot as Thailand. Today has been cloudy and even some spits of rain, but this evening looking much more threatening. A bit of rain won't be any problem. Next priority is to organise the haulout. The boatyard owner, Levent, will be coming to visit the boat and to discuss what is required.But it's all happening and we are so much relieved that the shipment has been so easy and seamless.
Had a chat to the old girl today and asked her how the trip went. She didn't say much but we had the distinct impression that she found it all quite boring and that she was mightily relieved to be back in her natural medium. She was very pleased to see us again as we were to see her. It's a long way from Evans Bay, Wellington in 1978. And she's in the prime of her life - which we cannot say for ourselves!!
We are sitting here in our apartment cooking lamb chops and mushrooms and veges, so this seems to be a good time to bow out - for now. And wonderful cheap Turkish red wine. Tomorrow is a new week and a new chapter in our Mediterranean adventure. Plans are to stay in Turkey for around 2 months and then make our westing towards Sicily. More to come...................
Jim and Jean
Anna Apart Hotel
Callis Beach
Phs. +90 5469151343 and +90 5469151339


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Photos of the loading of TT3 on board m.v. Annegret Thailand March 2018

The leaving of SE Asia

We have mixed feelings about leaving an area where we have been for the last 4 years. We have cruised on the yacht between Langkawi (Malaysia) and Thailand several times and have also been to Singapore and Viet Nam. We first arrived from Australia and Indonesia at Danga Bay, Johor in southern Malaysia in November 2013. We visited Singapore a few times while there and also spent time back in NZ, and then sailed north via Port Dixon, Port Klang, Pangkor, Penang, Langkawi - and finally Krabi where we hauled out in May 2014
We've had variable experiences in SE Asia in hauling out - to put it mildly! - but overall with the people we've met and places we've seen, the SE Asia venture has been definitely worthwhile.
But now sadly it has come time to leave. Due to advancing years (71 at last count!), we decided to try to sell our faithful old girl, but alas in SE Asia there is zero interest in wooden boats - even old classics like ours in good condition. So, we made the fateful decision to ship her to the Mediterranean. We were influenced in this decision by the fact that shipping costs generally have reduced lately and the thought of taking on the pirates in the Gulf of Aden is not appealing. The other alternative to go around the bottom of Africa has no attraction for us as again we think of our age with the attendant lack of stamina for such a demanding voyage. The old girl would be more than capable, but us - not so sure. It's a long and hard passage.
On 21/03 after discussion with the shipping company, we decided to leave Yacht Haven and proceed to the loading area. The heat up here is now becoming stifling and we were glad to finally be underway and get a breeze across the decks - which we have been religiously soaking in salt water which does wonders for the teak. We've kept our bedsit as we will come back there once the yacht is loaded on the "Annegret". Had a quick trip down the channel from Yacht Haven with the ebbing tide giving us a good push! Soon the "Annegret" came into view about a mile further south and we dropped anchor in the lee of Koh Naka Noi. "Persephone" (a monohull) and a very large (82') ugly catamaran were already there. Not sure of the loading sequence, except that we are no.10 out of a total of 11. It appeared that there were already 5 - 6 boats loaded. We'd obtained 2 pizzas from Phen when we had lunch there before we left and they were delicious. In fact we cheated and had a couple of slices on the way down! Not to mention a bracing whisky each since it was already past 5 - the drinking hour! Missing the lack of aircon, but at least there's a cooling breeze. We can't sleep forrard on the V-berth because it's covered in boat detritus which normally lives elsewhere.  So, we're having to sleep on the narrow saloon settees but they're habitable if you remove the backing cushion. Then there's just enough width! Freezer's been off for a couple of days so there's no ice for the whisky! Have to drink it neat!   
22/03 - woke early then went back to sleep to only be woken again to Chris (the 7Star rep) calling out "good morning!!" from his dinghy (RIB) alongside. He'd gone by the time we roused ourselves but no matter. We do have phone contact. The large ugly cat departed the anchorage early on and proceeded to be loaded, but by midday still had not been lifted. Big problems - these big cats and of course they delay the whole process for everyone else. But we can't complain too much as it's a great opportunity for another experience and the cost isn't excessive. Chris came back later with some coffee, ice and Singha beer, so it's not all bad. But it now looks like tomorrow as there's another large cat to be loaded and they're much more problem than monohulls. We haven't any ability to keep ice since the freezer is turned off, so we had to have a couple of whiskies around midday so as not to let the ice go to waste.
However, the heat is becoming unbearable and to add salt in the wound the large cat. returned to the anchorage, having taken the whole day when other boats could have been loaded only for the ship to say they couldn't do it. Apparently there is a scheme to modify something or another and they will try again tomorrow. However, in the meantime we cool our heels and baking in easily 35C. We have now told 7star that we will be returning to the marina (either Ao Po or Yacht Haven) tomorrow and will await their next call. The current situation is ridiculous and we have a nice air conditioned bedsit which we're paying 800 Baht per day for awaiting. YH is an hour and a half away but that's OK. And the weather is expected to blow up over the next few days so that would only add to our woes. We could easily be swinging around a very hot anchorage for the next 4 days, but that's not going to happen. Incidentally the owner of the large ugly cat. is a Frenchman - 'nuff said!!
23/03 - WE ARE NOT HAPPY!. The French cat. proceeded again to the ship and they took an age to even lift her clear of the water. At that stage after numerous discussions with 7star we upanchored  and moved into Ao Po Marina which is close at hand. This was at the insistence of 7star who wanted us close at hand. They told us that another cat. ("Billaroo") would be loaded after lunch and that we would be no. 2 on the 24th. In fact the cat. was not loaded, so we feel we are getting a runaround. We wanted to go back to Yacht Haven which is only 45 minutes further away and well within any notice period to get back to the anchorage but 7star (Chris) was insistent and so we made the ill-fated decision to go into Ao Po which is THE PITS. Overpriced to hell, poor internet (even when we use our own device), and substandard and grossly overpriced food in the restaurant. And to cap it all off, after we had had a very pleasant hour having happy hour drinks with Sue and Andrew off "Settlement" and another Aussie couple from Broome, WA, when we were walking back to the boat the power went off. We came into Ao Po specifically to make sure that our batteries remained topped up but now we face the prospect of losing 25% overnight and having to run the engine again from 0600 tomorrow to make sure that the batteries are as topped up as they can be before shipment. We'll say it again - Ao Po is THE PITS - over NZD60 for one night's berthage. Yacht Haven at over NZD40 was bad enough but this place takes the cake. We have wrapped up our solar panels in preparation for they are not functioning. To cap all that off, the weather forecast for tomorrow is terrible and if it all comes to pass, we won't be loaded then. Then what do we do? Go back to YH which is definitely within adequate notice of shipping, despite protestations to the contrary? 
If it hadn't been for the French cat., we would have been loaded by now as well as all the other smaller boats and "Annegret" would have been underway instead of incurring somewhere between USD15,000 and USD30,000 per day swinging around her anchor. You do have to wonder sometimes.
A highlight of today was the Happy Hour spent with Andrew and Sue and their 21 yr old son, Ben. Apparently Ben turned 21 yesterday - CONGRATULATIONS!!. Reminicsent of Jim's 6 months in the Cook Islands in 1968 when he was 21!! 'Nuff said. Andrew and Sue and Ben are planning to take "Settlement" back to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays and will be leaving in a few weeks. We wish them all the very best for the voyage.
24/03 - the day dawned overcast which at least keeps the sun away. But if we felt yesterday was  a disaster there was more to come. We were persuaded to go again to the ship and they came out in a RIB to pre-sling us about 200 metres from the ship. Then it was a matter of motoring back to the ship with the slings rigged around the hull. Unbelievable how much it slowed us down, but when we came alongside the sea state was such that we nearly contacted the ship's side with our starboard spreader and the diver who was in charge of operations on board, made the call to abandon the attempt to sling her aboard. We agreed wholeheartedly and motored away some distance while the slings were detached. Then back to the anchorage feeling most disgruntled because the call to load us should never have been made. The weather was supposed to moderate somewhat and we were called back to the ship again. It's only about a mile from the anchorage off Koh Naka Nai and it's a stretch of water we have come to know very well!!!  
But when we got there the last catamaran was still in the slings and it appeared that the slings were too long to get her fully up onto the deck. So, she was lowered back into the water to take the weight off so that they could be shortened. A chapter of errors all around and in the meantime we just cool our heels. So, we left again and went into Ao Po for another overpriced night. The weather was expected to blow up again overnight and sure enough it did. In spite of Chris's (7star) assurances to the contrary!!
25/03 - we were up around 0400 looking at the wind speed and noted that it was increasing. Only up to 15 - 16 knots, but that's more than enough to kick up enough of a sea to make loading dangerous and untenable. Chris was not to be persuaded by us, but when he came alongside in the marina he had the Loadmaster and the diver with him and they wholeheartedly agreed with us. So, it was agreed that we'd wait in the berth and see what happened with the wind. It was forecast to die down later in the afternoon. In the meantime we had a swim in the pool which is Ao Po's best asset by far! It's a large black tiled infinity pool and surrounded by attractive vegetation with an outlook over the marina. There are random white tiles which give a shimmering effect. Very clever.
Then another order to return to the ship which we received with some scepticism but we left again with full water tanks and batteries. Dawdled down there to give the wind maximum time to reduce (which it was doing) and for the sea state to reduce. By the time we reached the ship at 3 knots things had settled down. The slow trip down gave us enough time to once again remove biminis and generally get the old girl into correct trim for the voyage. We went straight alongside and were secured against large ship's fenders while the slings were once again fitted and preparations for the lift began. We had time to run fresh water through the old Ford and generally organize ourselves without rushing around too much. Then it came time to say goodbye to the old girl and wish her a good voyage. We got off into Chris's RIB and watched the lifting process. We'd been used to seeing her lifted on travelifts but this was slightly different inasmuch as it was much higher and they use a single crane spreader system, rather than the twin lift system of a travelift. They kept the spreader above mast height so we didn't in the end need to remove the back stay. We had removed the boom topping lift, but of course that wasn't necessary either. Still, not too difficult to put back - just time and what else would we be doing in any case?!! Finally the old girl was swung into place and they were to put 3 supports under the hull both sides plus numerous strap tiedowns fastened through our mooring Panama leads. So, all the boats are secured the same way so they should be secure. The ship travels at 18 - 20 knots so there should be a constant cooling breeze. We wished her well - she's probably relieved to just sit there and for once let everyone else do the work of getting from A to B.
Though we were pleased and relieved that TT3 was finally loaded and with a minimum of fuss and stress when it eventually happened, we feel that we were not treated well through the whole process. We made 3 visits to the "Annegret" - one of which nearly resulted in a serious accident and which with proper knowledge and forethought should never have been initiated in the conditions. And we also had to wait while aborted efforts were made in respect of 2 other boats - catamarans. This meant that the ship took 4 days to complete loading, whereas all should have been completed in 2 days. Delays involving other boats meant that by the time we were due to load the weather became a vexing problem. The ironical fact is that, although there were delays with other boats, by the time it came to our turn, all went without a hitch and we were loaded in record time. The one good thing to come out of this is that TT3 has spent almost no time sitting on a hot steel deck in the blazing sun. Once the ship began moving, there would be cooling breeze over the deck. And the total voyage time is only 14 days.  We must also though make mention of Chris and his wife who were tireless in providing gourmet sandwiches and cold beer and water- all at no cost while we were at anchor.
Chris brought us back into Ao Po where we had a couple of Mango Lassis and a plate of French Fries as we were ravenous. Two cold Singhas courtesy of 7star on the way back in from loading. Collected our Thai clearance documents for the boat from the office - they had been organized by 7star through a local Customs agent. Very efficient. Then a taxi back to our bedsit near Yacht Haven feeling totally drained and exhausted after all the stop/starts of the last 4 days. Dinner at Phen's - far nicer than anything at Ao Po and a fraction of the cost. Jean went to sleep at the table.  Then to bed and instantly asleep!
26/03 - checked the position of "Annegret" - she's well out into the Andaman Sea on her way to the bottom of India. Hope TT3's enjoying the ride. In the meantime last night we booked flights to Istanbul via KL. And accommodation in Istanbul for 2 nights. Then we will fly to Fethiye (Dalaman Airport) to suss out the marina and also hopefully any suitable boatyards. Hope there's some English spoken because our Turkish isn't up to much, but maybe we'll improve!
Hired a car this morning to go and pay the final bill at Andaman Electrical and had lunch at MK Restaurant - always a faithful standby. We feel quite surreal here right now knowing that tomorrow (the 27th.) we fly out of Asia for good. Malindo Air to KL and then Turkish Airlines to Istanbul. Dinner at Phen's again tonight and for Jim the last of the prawncakes! Very sad to say goodbye to Phen for the final time.
Just a few minutes ago (1500 local time) Jean received an upsetting message from her nephew to say that Keith (her brother - the 74 yr old sheep shearer from Wellsford) has had a serious heart attack and has been taken by helicopter to Auckland Hospital where he has had stents inserted, but remains in a critical condition. Keith is a lovely person and Jean's closest sibling ( Keith always referred to Jean and himself as "the last of the Mohicans") and has always been most hospitable to both of us. It causes even more of a helpless feeling being so far away but we can only hope for the best.
Attached photos - the first photo is of the gang at RLYC Langkawi when we were leaving and the second is of Sue and Andrew of "Settlement". We sailed with them off and on through Indonesia in 2013 and they are now hauled out at G & T Boatyard at Ao Po pending a return to Australia in about 2 weeks along with their 21 yr old son Ben - who is there "to supply the muscle"!! All the other photos are of the  lifting operation and towards the end Chris and his wife from 7star who brought us back ashore and who had supplied all the necessaries while we were vexingly swinging around the anchor.
More to come after we arrive in Turkey............
With lotsaluv from us,
Jim and Jean