Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arrived, Off-loaded & at anchor!

Very brief update.  S/V BeBe was off-loaded at 16:30 on Saturday, 30 April 2011.  Totally uneventful and smooth process.  SevenStar did a marvelous job for us!

Now at anchor and loving it!

More later.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Our yacht was NOT  damaged while being loaded onto the transport ship!

We have heard from 3 people that they had heard that our yacht was damaged while being loaded onto the transport ship in Male.  This is bullshit!  This is just yet another case of the wild rumor mill of cruisers.  It is not true -- as is so often the case when cruisers tell one another "facts" that they have heard repeated by others.

I know where this rumor started.  It started when one or two members of the Blue Water Rally yachts that are in Salalah still awaiting transport via Dockwise emailed well-intentioned comments to some of their friends.  Gosh, those folks really have my sympathies!  They are in such an awful situation there and I hope their transport ship arrives soon.

We had emailed photos of BeBe being loaded aboard the transport ship in Male to a friend who owns a boat exactly like ours.  Seeing photos of how the Amel yachts can be lifted from the deck level lifting points rather than by the usual straps beneath the hull would help our friend decide whether he wanted to go this route when his yacht is (hopefully soon) loaded onto the Dockwise ship; or if he wanted to deal with the very difficult job of removing the triadic stay and use the usual straps beneath the hull.

Included in these photos were images of a few scratches BeBe received when the lifting cables began to swing while being removed when the ship started to roll.  Remember, we were loaded on the transport ship while it was at anchor in a rolly atoll, not tied to a wharf.  These few scratches from the swinging lifting cables could hardly be considered damage to our yacht.  These are minor scratches in the gel coat and will be buffed out during our haul-out next week.  It is not at all a big deal and we are not concerned about it in the least.

The lifting cables were well greased.  As they swung across the deck on BeBe the cables left grease marks.  We scrubbed these off before we got off BeBe after she was loaded.  We did not want the grease to dissolve all over the deck in the intense heat going up portions of the Red Sea.  We wanted the decks clean to begin this voyage.  Again, this was not damage; it was just a mess to clean up.  Not a big deal at all.

Yet emails have been sent to cruisers in other countries stating that our yacht was damaged during loading.  These rumors have gone full circle and now cruisers here in Marmaris are telling us that they have heard about our yacht sustaining damage while being loaded in Male.  NOT TRUE!!!   Emails also have circulated that other yachts were damaged during loading.  No one, not one person whose yacht was loaded on the same transport ship with BeBe, has mentioned receiving any damage to their yacht during loading.  These are just more rumors!  To our knowledge, not one single boat sustained damage during the loading process.

The BBC EVEREST will arrive in Marmaris sometime tonight.  In fact, it is possible that she is already docked at the Customs Wharf as I type this.  All owners or captains of yachts aboard this transport ship have been requested to meet on the ship with the agent tomorrow morning (Friday 29 April 2011) at 0900 to receive the off-loading schedule.  

This means we should be back aboard S/V BeBe within a day or two!!!  They hope to off-load at least 5 yachts tomorrow and the rest over the weekend.  I doubt BeBe will be one of the first 5 yachts to be off-loaded, so we probably will not splash until Saturday or even Sunday morning.

We fully expect the off-loading to be as non-eventful as the loading.  We would be very shocked to sustain any damage to BeBe or any of the other yachts during this process.

Added 4/29/2011:
Had a request for photos of this alleged "damage" to BeBe when loaded on the transport ship.  Here they are.  You be the judge.

cable grease on winch cover
cable grease on turnbuckle cover
cable grease on gelcoat
cable scratches on gelcoat
cable scrapes on spinnaker pole
cable grease on lower lifeline
cable scratches on gelcoat
cable scratches on gelcoat

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


And this is what it is all about!

Marmaris bay
We flew from Istanbul to Dalaman -- the nearest airport to Marmaris.  Bill had arranged a car and driver to collect us at the Dalaman airport and deliver us to the apartment we had rented for one month at Sun Apart.  The transport ship was supposed to arrive around 5 May but the ETA changed to 29 April.  That allows us a bit more time to get the haul-out done.

View of apt pool & bar from our patio
The apartment is very basic, but kind of large.  We have 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 living room with 2 sofas, a small eating space, a very basic kitchen with a 2-burner hot plate and a dorm fridge, and 2 patios.  The kitchen comes equipped with a toaster and an electric hot-water carafe for making instant coffee or tea.  This apartment is a 3rd floor walk-up.  It is really basic, but it serves our needs and is a reasonable price.  We plan to stay here while BeBe is hauled out.  Hopefully, the haul-out will be completed before our apartment rental period is up in mid-May.

The mountains surrounding Marmaris are striking.  This is a beautiful place and it is easy to see how cruisers get sucked into staying in Turkey for years.

One day we stopped for a Doner Kebab at a small place in the Covered Bazaar.  The owner was a hoot!  He had a really long knife that he sharpened between every slicing of the vertically skewered meat.  He was really putting on a performance for us.  He told us he wants to be as good looking as Tom Cruise.  Where did that come from? 

We have thoroughly walked this town of 28,000 people -- with hotel beds for over 100,000.  This is a big tourist destination, especially for people from England.  There are very inexpensive flights and hotel packages from Manchester to Marmaris.

We have figured out the Dolmus bus system -- at least to those areas we need to visit.  We took the Dolmus out to Yacht Marine to visit fellow Houstonians and fellow Amel owners, Jan and Craig on S/V LONE STAR.  Jan and Craig have a newer model Amel 54.  It is quite an upgrade from our Amel Super Maramu 2000.  But I love our boat and have no desire for an Amel 54.  We returned a couple of nights later and enjoyed a delicious dinner aboard LONE STAR.  We were glad to have the opportunity to cross paths with Jan and Craig; we were afraid they would have already left Marmaris before we arrived.  They are headed to the Caribbean in this year's ARC in late November.  In fact, they departed Marmaris within just a few days after our arrival to begin working their way westward through the Med.  We wish them fair winds.

The city of Marmaris recently completed completed renovating the promenade along the seaside.  It is gorgeous!!!

The entire area along the water along the area known as Old Town has been re-done.

All the restaurants and businesses were forced by the city to move back to their original property line.  These establishments had encroached farther and farther to get closer to the water, making the promenade narrower and narrower.  People tell us that it looked old, dirty and congested.

Today it is as nice as one could imagine.  This is the way every seaside city should be.

BTW, I went to a local hair salon for a cut and brown low-lights.  I confirmed 3 times that I wanted brown low-lights.  They never showed me a swatch color selection for the shade of brown to use.  So I was worried about what color they were actually using.  When the foils were removed and my hair shampooed then I saw the mirror and quietly gasped.  My hair is now blonde.  I have never wanted to be a blonde.  This is going to look ridiculous as it grows out until it is long enough to chop it all off.

It hasn't all been sunny days and blue skies since we arrived in Marmaris.  Some days have been quite cold -- at least to those of us more acclimated to equatorial temperatures.  For the first week in the apartment we did not know that the air-conditioner was also reverse cycle heat.  Bill finally convinced me that it was and he rented the remote control from the apartment office -- at 4 pounds per day.  Prices in this part of town are quoted in British pounds because 99% of their tourists come from England.

Final bits of Istanbul

Turkish Coffee

Should I taste it?
After completing all sight-seeing we were going to do, we decided that we could not leave Istanbul without sampling Turkish coffee.  Bill wasn't too sure about trying this thick coffee, but it was his idea so he had to drink it.  Turkish coffee is served sweet.  It is so thick you would almost think it is fudge that hasn't yet hardened.  The silver containers with lids are small glass of iced water.  You drink only about 3 small sips from the tiny coffee cups.  The rest of the coffee in the bottom of the cup is like mud.  No way you can drink that thick mess.  Then you sip the iced water to help remove the residue of the coffee powder that thickly coats the interior of your mouth no matter how carefully you sip that coffee.  Actually, it did not taste bad.  Just not my favorite coffee.

Sitting strange
This cat caught our eyes as we walked down a street in Istanbul.  It looked like it was sitting straight up on its rear.  It moved just before I snapped the photo, but you get the idea of the position it was in when we noticed it.

And this was my favorite corner building.  Can't explain why.  It just was.  A man inside sold drinks to pedestrians.

Hotel street
Narrow Hotel street
The streets in this old section of Istanbul are very narrow.  But the street beside our hotel was ultra-narrow.

Walking through this bustling part of Istanbul was always good for people-watching.  There was lots of pedestrian traffic at all hours of day or night. 

The light rail tram tracks ran down the street right next to the pedestrian sidewalk.  And guess what, fellow Houstonians, not one person was hit by the train.  And not one car ran a stop light or stop sign and was hit by the train. 
Typical pedestrian traffic beside tram
2 sets train tracks; no accidents
These people used common sense and stayed out of the way of the train.  Something that Houstonians apparently still have not learned to do downtown.  Note the train tracks on each side of the narrow street and how close they run to the pedestrian sidewalks.

Springtime tulips
These flowers at a tiny corner restaurant near our hotel were a bright spot on a cold, dreary, gray day.

And on this corner the tulips looked like they would burst forth in full glory in a few more days.  This spot would brighten anyone's day.

Water pipes

And surely everyone knows about the famous water pipes so popular in Istanbul.  The tourist guides stress that everyone simply must try a water pipe in one of the many smoking bars in Istanbul.  These are not bars as we might think.  They serve coffee and water pipes and various tobaccos to smoke.  We skipped this treat.

And, last but not least, one of my favorite things we discovered in Istanbul.  Maybe this is common in some cities, but it was new to us.  At a few intersections there was a tiny cubicle where sat a police officer.  He controlled these things that would go up and down in the street.  When down, the street was flush and traffic unimpeded.

Barriers in up position
Barriers in down position
But when someone was speeding up the street, the officer could push a button and these barriers popped up.  Now that is a drastic way to cut down on speeding and running traffic lights!  These barriers were also used to block off certain streets during high traffic periods.  Or when they simply wanted to have pedestrian only traffic for a period of hours in a specific block.

Topkapi Palace & Harem and the Archeological Museum

Topkapi Palace entrance
On our final day in Istanbul we visited the Topkapi Palace.  The first entrance was less than a block from our hotel, then up a steep cobble stoned street to the real entrance to the palace.  We purchased 2 tickets for the main entrance.  Once inside, we rented 1 audio guide to share and purchased 2 tickets for the Harem -- which was really the only thing we came to see here.  So just to gain entrance to the one Palace area that we wanted to visit cost us 80 Turkish Lira for 2 people.  This was a tad expensive in my opinion just to walk around an old building.  But I came here willingly so should not complain.

Topkapi Palace is so renovated that it is difficult to imagine how it must have looked during its heyday.   Certainly the paved walkways throughout the grounds for tourist pedestrian traffic did not exist.  And some of the buildings are quite obviously not original to the Palace construction.
Harem building exterior
Harem building
We went straight to the Harem on the left side of the interior grounds.  I wanted to see what a real sultan's harem really was like; Bill was just humoring me this day.  He had already had enough of sightseeing; both of us had aching legs from walking around the steep cobble stoned streets and walkways.  I promised Bill we would see only 2 easy places today.

Harem courtyard entrance
Inside the first courtyard upon entering the harem the walls were covered in ornate tiles.  The columns had gold trim at tops and bases, and gold Turkish writing above the doorways.  This area was guarded by numerous eunuchs at all times.  To the side was an exit used only by the sultan when he wanted to go horseback riding alone. 

The courtyard entered into another room with a large fireplace.  This room had doorways off to the right that supposedly led to the sultan's quarters quite some distance away.  This was barred entry to tourists.  Another doorway led to a large courtyard which was often used by the "mother" or most important wife, as well as whichever other wives she chose to accompany her.

Food counter
To the left was another doorway which opened to a long narrow hallway.    This hallway had a stone counter all along the left side, with drain holes in the stone floor in several places.  This is where the meals for the harem were delivered. The holes both in the marble counter and in the floor must have been for washing the dishes.

Harem women's courtyard
From the end of the hallway we entered the courtyard for the harem women.  The sultan kept 300 to 500 women in the harem.  I cannot imagine how 500 women lived in this size building.  They must have been sleeping on top of one another.  Only women who produced a male child were allowed a room with a window opening into the women's courtyard.  No woman was ever allowed a window opening elsewhere.  The courtyard was guarded at all times by many eunuchs.  The sultan protected his harem women (or "wives") at all times.  Sounds to me like they were treated as slaves at all times, but that is a current era western woman's idea.  I really cannot think like an Islamic woman living in the middle ages.

One of many ornate fireplaces
Fancy tiles on walls & ceiling
The women's courtyard led to the right into a very nicely appointed room.  There were 2 fireplaces, one on either side of the room.

Mother-of-Pearl inlaid window covering

No clue what this is
And the walls and ceiling were uniquely tiled.  The doors and window doors were heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  I don't know what you call these things--they look like doors inside the windows and were throughout the Palace.   I think these probably were to help to keep out the cold and wind during winter months; after all, they did not have double-paned insulated glass windows in those days.

First Wife's sleeping chamber
I have no idea what this recessed alcove space with steps was used for; but there were a lot of these located throughout the Palace.  No signs on any of them and the audio guide did not mention them.  Since we did not spring for a personal guide, there was no one to ask for an explanation.

The room opened back to the right into "mother's" or "number one wife's" courtyard.  Before the courtyard there was a room with yet another fireplace, this one made from copper.  The number one wife or "mother" also had a private sleeping platform in her private room.  The sleeping platform was topped by intricately molded or shaped copper.  We were told that sometimes the sultan visited this bedchamber rather than ordering the first wife to his chambers.

View from First Wife's courtyard
This next led into the courtyard.  Today the view across the Bosporus River onto the European side of Istanbul is considerably different than it must have been in years gone by.  The Topkapi Palace was the official and primary residence in the city of Istanbul (Constantine) for the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of their 624-year reign.  Sultans lived in this residence from 1465 until 1856.

Fancy tiles & stained glass windows for the male children's suite
Bronze fireplace for the boys

Next we were led into the princes' suite of rooms.  As is common in all Islamic culture, the males get the best of everything.  These little male darlings had the most elaborate tiles and fireplaces of any place in the Palace open for public view.  The sleeping platforms were spacious and elaborate.  The fireplaces were beautiful.  The tiles intricate.  There were seating cushions wrapping completely around the day room.
Princes' day room

Deposed sultans lived down there
The princes' courtyard was much larger than their mothers' and far more open to the world.  It was higher in elevation and afforded larger views.  This courtyard also looked down upon a very large pool -- now empty.  The audio guide did not specify if this was a bathing or swimming pool or what.  We saw no method of filling this pool with water.  And no method of draining the water.  Obviously, given the years this was built, there was no method of circulating water in this pool.  Having owned several homes with swimming pools, I cannot imagine how nasty this would have been filled with water.  Maybe the whole thing was filled with slimy lily pads.  The courtyard also looked down upon the "quarters" where deposed sultans lived.  Or imprisoned would be my description.  At least they still had their heads.

And that completes the tour of the Harem.

Small corner of Topkapi Palace
We sat on a bench and watched people for awhile.  That is always fun.  Then we wandered to a building in the rear left side of the Palace grounds.  There are quite a few buildings on this property.  Since we did not rent an audio guide for the entire Palace (just for the Harem), we did not know the layout or identity of the various buildings.   Turned out it was a building full of religious historical things.  Sorry, but we did not believe most of what was displayed.  Moses' staff; Ark of the Covenant; The Prophet's footprint in stone from which he leaped to Heaven (where he negotiated with God -- God wanted men to pray 35 times per day, but The Prophet talked God down to "a more reasonable number" of 5 times daily.  Does anyone else get the irony of that claim?  This is God we are talking about.  God knows everything.  God would have known how the negotiation would end before it started.  So The Prophet shouldn't get points for this.  Logic does not follow.)  There were lots of relics of The Prophet's hair and many other such things.  This building was very crowded with reverent tourists but we just could not take this stuff seriously.  We breezed through that big building in record time.

Long line to see the Treasury
We wanted to see the Treasury.  But the queue was far too long for us.  We were not standing in that line for over an hour just to walk through the Treasury.  Instead, we walked through a smaller building showing exhibits of sultan's clothing over the centuries.

Then we found an exhibition of carriages used over the centuries.

And that was enough of Topkapi Palace for us.

Streets that cause aching legs
We returned the Harem audio guide and searched out the exit.  Down the street again and we found the Archaeological Museum.  This museum was highly recommended by the guide we used at the Hagia Sophia.  He was right.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Archaeological Museum.  The oldest item in the Egyptian section was over 12,500 years old.

Egyptian with man bag
One wall carving caught Bill's eye.  Even in very ancient Egyptian times, men apparently carried "man bags."

Enough was enough.  We looked at marble statues until our eyes were glazed over.  After 3 floors of artifacts and statues, we were done.  We were so over-done.  And we had completed only one building and 1/2 of the second building.  There were at least 3 other buildings that we never entered.  We were just too tired and our legs ached too much.  One could spend a week appreciating this museum complex.

We had hoped to see the Dolmabahce Palace during our time in Istanbul.  It supposedly makes the Topkapi Palace look like a slum.  But friends said they waited in line almost 3 hours just to get inside that palace.   We are not standing in line 3 hours for anything -- ever!

We cried Uncle and gave up on sightseeing.

As always, click on any image for larger view.