Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The past 2 weeks have been uneventful.  Uneventful is a good thing.  

We are enjoying a nice, quiet time doing nothing.  Bill moved the "television" with DVD player and speaker system into our aft cabin, and we enjoy lying in bed watching movies in the air-conditioning each evening for a couple of hours.  Then read books.  That has become our evening routine -- also going out for dinner at least once each week.

One day we made a car trip to Nicosia with the German couple, Tati and Hoenning, who share in the car rental arrangement with us.  They showed us the way to the border crossing.  We bought the mandatory insurance for the car to be driven in Southern Cyprus.  Others in the marina had said this was expensive, but it costs only 25 Euro per month.  And that is for the vehicle, not per driver.  That is hardly what we would consider expensive.  Try renting a car in Houston with a foreign drivers license and buying insurance to allow you to drive into Mexico.  IF that can be done (seriously doubt it), it would certainly cost more than $35 per month.

Hoenning then drove to a large shopping mall that is adjacent to a large Ikea.  The mall also contained a Carrefour supermarket.  Know where we will be doing major provisioning in the future.  On the way back to the border crossing we made a detour to a store called Lidl.  Lidl is found in Germany and carries some products that Europeans enjoy.  Tati and Hoenning found the Swedish pickled fish in little jars that they had been searching for.  We found packaged pound cake which is a treat.  It is still too hot to bake anything on the boat.  And bakery cakes in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are not like cakes in America.  Their cakes are far too sweet and have an unpleasant texture.  We sometimes miss little treats like good cakes.  Not something one wants often, but something missed when it is not available.  The big find at Lidl for us was the very good ham sold there.  We will absolutely return to Lidl when it is time to provision the boat before heading to Turkey late next spring.  We will want to stock up on pork, bacon and ham since those items are difficult to find in Turkey.

UN building inside the Green Line
Last Saturday Bill and I made another trip to Nicosia -- on our own this time.  It is a long drive so we planned to spend the entire day on this trip.  And all day it was.  We made two wrong turns before we found the border crossing.  There are no signs pointing the way and the maps don't indicate any of the crossings.  Cyprus is divided by the Green Line and even today is guarded by UN troops.  What a waste of UN assets.  There are only a few places on the Green Line where crossing is allowed.  But it really is a joke these days.  There are lots of people who live on one side and work daily on the other side.  There have been no shots fired for a couple of decades.  Wonder how long the UN is going to continue to spend money 'guarding' this Green Line.  BTW, the UN building inside the Green Line at this border crossing appears very long since abandoned.  Cameras are prohibited in the area of the Green Line but cell phones are allowed; hence, this poor quality photo.

After the border crossing we turned left instead of right.  We drove about 5 miles before deciding this was definitely the wrong direction.  So we backtracked to the border crossing and went the other direction.  Success!  We drove straight to the same shopping mall.  This time I took notes.  It is a good distance to this mall but now we have good directions for the next trip.  

Bill had suggested we see a movie.  Haven't seen a movie in forever.  I think the last movie we saw was in Malaysia with Bill and Amy on S/V Estrellita.  A long time ago.  And more than 5,000 NM away.  Unfortunately, all the movies showing were like kid movies.  Nothing appealed to either of us.  The theater was next to the food court so we decided to eat lunch in the TGI Fridays.  Whoops!  Nope! Not after perusing their menu.   We placed the menus on the table and walked out.  This restaurant was packed and had a line of at least 20 people waiting for tables.  How can these folks spend this kind of money?  A burger on the menu was 14.80 Euro and a soda/Coke was 3.80 Euro.  So a single burger and drink costs 18.60 Euro, or just over $26 USD.  Are they crazy?  Are TGI Fridays priced this high back in the US?  It has been years since we had visited a Fridays, but I know prices were nowhere near this ridiculous back when we used to eat there once every month or two.  $26 for a burger and a Coke!!  Out of our price range for a casual lunch.  We don't spend $52 for lunch unless it is something special; not a simple burger and Coke.  Yet these Cypriots were lined up and waiting.  They have a different money value than we do.

Expensive pecans!!!
The only items on our shopping list were sandwich bread and new speaker headphones to use with Skype.  Bill found the headphones right near the food court.  Like this one-stop shopping.  We browsed through Carrefour for the bread.  While browsing Bill noticed small bags of unshelled papershell pecans and had to take a photo for our grandson, Zach.  There are several pecan trees in Zach's yard and he collects the nuts whenever he wants his dad to cook something special.  Hey Zach, bet you wish you could sell those nuts over here.  At the price of 6.56 Euro ($9.18 USD) for a bag no larger than my hand, Zach could make a small fortune.

We walked to the adjacent Ikea.  Man, it has been years since we have walked through one of those stores.  My big purchase there was a package of flexible acrylic cutting sheets and two silicone trivets.  Bought the cutting sheets just because this is the first time I have seen them outside the USA.  They are not quite right (the ones sold in the USA are much better), but they will do.  The silicone trivets are to place beneath things on the galley countertop to prevent sliding when underway.  We did not need these things but I bought them anyway.  Gosh, I feel just like an American consumer again.

We stopped at the Lidl store and stocked up on bottled drinking water.  I do not care for the taste of the water at the marina.  Their desalination facility does not produce the same quality as the desalinator on our boat.  We are no longer using our watermaker because there are too many occupied boats in the marina now, and I am certain that not everyone walks up to the toilets every time they answer nature's call.  We filled our tanks with water from the dock.  It tests within WHO guidelines, but I don't care for the taste.  Our watermaker produces potable water with TDS of just over 100.  The marina dockwater has TDS ranging between 360 and 490.  That is safe to drink, but it doesn't taste as pure as what we are accustomed to drinking.  

Finding the border crossing from the south side by reversing my written directions was a breeze.  In Lefkosa (the Turkish name for Nicosia, just to confuse people as much as possible), Bill snapped a photo of this building.  Democrats are everywhere now.  Wonder if Democrat means the same thing in Northern Cyprus as it does in the United States?  Probably not.  I looked it up when we got back to the boat.  The words translate to Democratic Youth Movement.  Not sure what the bee symbolizes.

Along the roadside today out in the countryside there were young boys holding up plastic bags as we drove by.  They were obviously trying to sell something; but what?  It reminded Bill and me of when we were children in Beaumont, Texas.  Young black boys would stand on the side of the road and yell, "dewberries" -- actually sounded more like "dewwww--berrrieees." 
My older brother and I would also go to the drainage ditch off old Florida Avenue and pick dewberries and sell these in the neighborhood.  But I think we sold too cheap at 25 cents for a half-gallon container.  I think the young black boys were smarter than us and demanded higher pricing.
Sheep crossing
Anyway, what were the boys holding up the plastic bags trying to sell?  Took awhile but we finally figured it out.  Olives!!  They were selling fresh olives just collected from the olive trees all out in the countryside.  We didn't buy any because I have absolutely no idea what one does with fresh olives.  Put into a brine?  Press into oil?  Cook in some way?  Don't know.  Won't be trying any fresh olives.

The other thing we saw while driving in the countryside were lots and lots and lots of sheep and goats.

Cleaning plastic bags out of the cabinet
One day I decided to clean out the bottom section of one upper cabinet in the galley.  This is to the right side of the stove.  Frequently used spices and a cereal container are on the top shelf, and the bottom section is a catch-all.  You know how every kitchen has a drawer where junk is accumulated.  That is the lower section of this cabinet.  It really is a small space.  Inside I found plastic bags, and more plastic bags, and even more plastic bags.  Every time I buy produce at a supermarket I toss the plastic bag into that cabinet.  These bags are used to dispose of garbage like onion peelings, carrot peelings, etc.  Stuff that I won't place in the big trash container beneath the kitchen sink because that doesn't get emptied daily.  Bill was shocked that so many plastic bags were stuffed into such a small compartment.

Which bank issued your credit card?
This last photo is one taken in Famagusta a few weeks ago.  We stopped at a service station (gas station) to stock up on oil for future engine oil changes.  On the cashier's counter there was a lazy-Susan covered in credit card processing machines.  The cashier was the owner of the station.  I asked her why so many machines.  She said many customers want to collect points with their credit cards and that the banks only give points if the card is processed on their own machine.  So she has machines for all the local banks.  And, no, she does not pay merchant fees for either machine rental or processing.  At first glance, I thought they were behind the times because of so many machines.  On second thought, I think this might be the way to do it.  I certainly hated paying all those merchant fees when I owned a business in Houston.  Bank competition here is so strong that they can't gouge the merchants or the consumers like is done at home.

The electricity is still not restored on the floating docks.   I am afraid it might be quite some time before electricity is restored to all of the docks.  This week the police stopped repairs on the dock where the accident happened; stating that their investigation was not yet closed.  This makes positively no sense because the wiring has already been removed from that dock.  There is nothing left as it was on the day of the accident, so it begs belief that the police have any further investigating to do on that dock.  But when police say stop; you stop.  So there will be no further electrical repair work on that particular dock -- which just happens to be the dock to which BeBe was assigned for permanent berthing.  Hopefully, the electrical re-work will continue on the other docks and boats can be reassigned to those docks with functioning electricity and water.  Others are more concerned with this than we are.  It is fine out here on the breakwater wall.  And out here we have 63 amp electrical service rather than only 15 amp service, so I don't have to worry about blowing a breaker by turning on the microwave while the a/c is running.  Also, a friend plans to visit us next month and it will be easier to go out for a few day sails from this wall than it would be from the dual-bow lines med-moored to the floating dock. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

52 year old Weller Soldering Gun still working

My kids know this story.  When I was 12 my mother bought me my hearts desire...a brand new Weller Soldering gun.  By the age of 12 I had already been repairing radios, stereos and TV's.  I had a dream to build a Heathkit Ham Radio, but never got the money.

I used this Weller Soldering gun thousands of times over the years.  Although I have replaced the tip, I have never had to repair the gun.  Yesterday I attempted to use this gun because I needed to cut some 12mm nylon line.  Originally Weller did not make a line cutting tip for my gun...but in later years added a line cutting tip (apparently Weller knew I was sailing at this point).  

The gun  would not would not come on.  I used to be able to hear the transformer's hum when I pulled the trigger...these days I have to hold the gun near my ear to hear the hum.  The hum has either lessened or my hearing in the last few years has "lessened."  I pulled the trigger and held it near my ear...nothing.  Then the ultimate test---I wet my finger and touched the tip...nothing, nada.  Judy knows this soldering gun as "the soldering gun my mother bought me when I was 12."  So, I said, "Judy, you know the soldering gun my mother bought when I was 12?"  Judy: "Yes, I know it well!".  I said, "it has quit...I am not going to work on it now, but I will fix it tomorrow.  Judy: "Yeah, sure!"

Well, today is tomorrow and I took "the soldering gun my mother bought me when I was 12" apart and discovered the problem.  A broken wire!  This wire needed to be partially replaced and soldered into place for a permanent repair.  I know what you are thinking...Nope, you are wrong!  About two years ago while shopping in a Singapore electronics store with me, Judy said, "you know that soldering gun your mother bought you when you were 12?"  I said, "er, yes."  Judy said, "that thing is over 50 years old and will surely soon should buy something just in case."  I hated to admit that "the soldering gun my mother bought me when I was 12" would ever fail, but agreed and for $4.00 bought a cheap soldering iron which was made in China.  When I asked the guy if he sold additional tips for when the original tip wears out, he laughed at did Judy.  He dug around and found another slightly used tip and gave it to me, NO CHARGE!

So, armed with my soldering iron that Judy made me buy when I was 62, I repaired "the soldering gun my mother bought me when I was 12."

The soldering gun my mother bought me when I was 12
Note the line-cutting tip

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

WiFi - Something new?

We are at Karpaz Gate Marina in Northern Cyprus.  

I had a problem with our main computer and its external USB WiFi adapter receiving the marina's WiFi signal.  I had no problem with my Apple iTouch receiving the signal.  I have been trying lots of things and finally opted to replace the WiFi adapter with a spare.  My old USB WiFi adapter was bought in the US 5 or 6 years ago and the spare bought in the US about 1-2 years ago.

Magically, the new USB WiFi adapter found the marina's access point.  I looked a little closer and determined that the marina's access point is using channel 13.  This is a new channel and generally not used in the US because of low power restrictions placed on the channel.  I assume my older WiFi adapter was not made to receive channel 13.

So, there you are more thing to think about.  It is beer-thirty here in Cyprus, so that is it for the day.


On the wall

Northern coast of Cyprus
On our final day with this first rental car we opted to drive west along the northern side of Cyprus towards Girne.  The map indicated a road following the coastline but others had warned us that the road is not marked.  Sure enough, there was no road sign for this road; but it was easy enough to find.  At the first roundabout we encountered we turned north rather than taking the road to Famagusta on the southern side.  This put us on what appeared to be a brand-spanking-new very nice road across the mountains.  It appeared that work was still in progress; there were no side barriers on steep drop-off curves and no lines painted down the center of this road.  And no road signs whatsoever.

Northern coast of Cyprus (lots of large caves)
 Soon we could see the sea on the northern side.

We followed that for an hour or so and then turned around because I was nervous about how much fuel remained in the gas tank.  There was absolutely nothing on that new road and it was not an area where one would want to run out of gas.  We saw only 3 other cars.  The scenery was beautiful and we will drive that route again in the future.

"Fun Park" (Campground?)

At one very isolated spot there was a collection of shacks on stilts built out right on the cliffs of the shoreline.  A sign called this a "fun park" and it looked like places for basic camping -- raised up off the ground.  Not sure why it is called a fun park rather than a campground.  (But then why are fried shrimp  called fish stew?)   Gorgeous views, but I am not into camping without shower facilities.  And Bill doesn't believe in camping without an RV complete with air-conditioning and heat,  microwave oven and television, as well as hot showers.  So don't think we will be utilizing any of the fun parks on Cyprus.

Fun Park

Then we decided to turn in the rental car early because we knew we would not be getting out again that evening.  This worked well as the marina receptionist could drive the car back to her village and return it for us when she finished her work day.  All in all, renting a car for 3 days every month or so would work well during our stay here for the winter.

However, the next day another cruiser dropped by and inquired if we would be interested in sharing a full-time rental car.  The car rental company will allow 3 named drivers on a contract, and 1 of the current partners in their rental agreement was leaving for at least 6 months for medical reasons; so they were looking for a replacement partner to share in the rental agreement.  We understand that this rental agreement includes the special insurance to allow us to drive the car in both Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus.  Count us in!!  This sounds like a great arrangement.  We don't know how frequently we will want to use the rental car, but this affords us an opportunity for wheels more often than only 3 days per month.  With the bonus of allowing us to also visit Southern Cyprus if we want to.  We will know later this week if this arrangement will happen or not.

Karpaz Gate Marina
On Monday a sister-ship Amel moved off the breakwater wall where they were connected to electricity and water and returned to their normal assigned berth.  The owners are returning to Chile until next March or April.  Bill and I think that power will not be restored to the docks for at least another month, so we moved out to the breakwater wall to enjoy the luxury of electricity and air-conditioning until that happens.   We are now docked on that long wall, down near the entrance which is on the left side and out of view in this photo. The marina anticipates restoring power to the docks in about 2 weeks, but for a number of reasons we believe the actual time period will be at least a month or more.  

Karpaz Gate Marina
They are re-routing the water supply from the conduit channel to run down the center beneath the docks.  A type of sheathing has been ordered to shield the electric and TV cables that will remain inside the conduit channels along the edges of the docks.  The sheathing will protect the cables from abrasion caused by the aluminum panels that cover the conduit channels.  Until that sheathing arrives, the job cannot be completed.  Government approval of the repair solution is still pending.  I am certain that power will not be restored to the docks until all the repairs are effected and the governmental authorities sign off on it.  Governmental authorities are the same everywhere; delays will happen.  In the meantime, we can enjoy air-conditioning when wanted and will not have to run the generator twice daily to charge the batteries.  The trade-off is the long walk around to the toilets and showers and restaurant/bar.

BeBe in her assigned berth
BTW, Bill sent a photo of how the electrical cables are routed through the conduit on these docks to a friend who has built 7 marinas in SE Asia.  He responded and said that they also build the docks exactly the same way.  To me, this still does not excuse not grounding the docks in the first place; something that any electrician at home would certainly have done.  And absolutely something that any building inspector at home would have checked before allowing anyone on the docks and signing off on the job.  

On a positive note, however, the laundry facilities are now operational and open for use.  Nice, new machines and not outrageously priced at only 2 Euro per load.  Now I won't be polluting the marina water by doing laundry aboard and discharging all that soapy water into the ultra-clear waters of this new marina.  I hope that the toilets and showers right next to the new laundry room will open soon.  That will cut our walk by more than half the distance.  I very much prefer to shower on our boat, but that discharges soap and shampoo directly into the marina waters; so we both normally use the marina showers to do our part to keep the marina waters clean.

Fish and chips for the third consecutive Friday night were delicious yet again.  This time I paid more attention to the batter since a friend had asked about it.  Silly me!!  They use a regular beer batter, just like I use when we catch Spanish mackerel and fry it on the boat.  Only difference is that I add a very generous dollop of Old Bay Seafood Seasoning and a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper to "kick it up" as Cajun chef Emeril Lagasse would say.   Mix flour and Old Bay Seasoning (or Zatarain's if you prefer).  Beat eggs and add to the flour mixture; mix well.  Add beer until medium-thin batter results.  Toss in fish fillets which are at room temperature, not cold from the fridge.  Coat well with batter.   Remove each fillet with a fork and let excess batter drip off.  Drop into hot oil, enough oil to cover the fish.  Don't crowd and cause the oil to drop too much in temperature or the fish and batter will absorb too much oil and be greasy.  Doesn't get any better.  (Okay, Candy; now you know how to cook British Fish and Chips.  Their chips are nothing but plain ole French fries.)

Tomorrow night we plan to try the 'barbeque' at the marina restaurant.  We know this will not be real barbeque.  It will be a selection of grilled meats.  Very definitely not what we Texans know as barbeque.  Last Wednesday there was a guy playing guitar during the barbeque special.  We were walking back from the showers just as he started to play.   He sounded nice and the evening weather was perfect and most diners were sitting outside.  We are hoping for the same experience tomorrow night.

Veggie delivery
While visiting the Old Venetian Walled Town in Famagusta the other day we saw several produce vendors driving around the city.  They would drive a block or so and stop for about 15 minutes, allowing local residents to make their fresh produce purchases without having to go to a market.  Very nice and convenient.  I wish a produce vendor from the nearby village of Yenierenkoy would visit our marina once per week.   But there are not nearly enough people berthed here yet to warrant such a thing.  Maybe as more people arrive it will provide incentive to some enterprising vendor to attempt visiting the marina once weekly.

We have heard from 2 separate  friends who might come visit in the next 2 months.  Hope 1 or both makes it here.  They probably will be bored but hopefully we can at least go sailing for a couple of days during each of their visits.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Another anniversary

Celebrating 42 years of married life
Bill and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary on 6 September 2011.  It has been a long time since that hot Saturday on a Labor Day Weekend in 1969, that momentous day in St. Ann's Catholic Church when we stood and kneeled before Father Pucar and exchanged vows.  We have such an easy anniversary date to remember, whether using American style of dates or the style used by the rest of the world.  9-6-69 in America and 6-9-69 everywhere else.

We hired a rental car for 3 days, not just to celebrate our anniversary but also to see a tiny bit of this island and to find where we will be shopping for the next 8 or 9 months.  The first day it was just the 2 of us exploring; the second day another yachtie couple joined us.  

Today is the 3rd day of having the car and we haven't decided exactly where or what today's adventure might be.  As yet the only thing we have planned for today is to take a couple of jerry jugs to replenish diesel used to run the generator for charging batteries, making water and operating the washing machine.  The main tank should be left as full as possible in order to prevent condensation causing moisture inside the fuel tank.  We had bought 2 jerry jugs in Girne to re-fill the main tank for diesel used to get from Girne to Karpaz.  We were not prepared to run the generator 2 - 3 hours daily because of the electrical problem in the marina, so we now need a few more jerry jugs so that we can continue to top-up the main fuel tank and prevent that dreaded condensation inside the tank.

St.Peter & St. Paul Cathedral; Old Venetian Walled Town
The receptionist in the marina office delivered the rental car to us Tuesday morning.  She lives in the same village where the rental car company is located, so she kindly offered to deliver the car to us when she drove to work this day.  Another yachtie had provided us with maps of the major cities in Northern Cyprus and a tourist brochure.  We pulled out of the marina and turned right -- with no idea of where we were going.  Because of insurance requirements of the 2 countries, this rental car is not allowed to enter Southern Cyprus, so any exploring we did would have to remain on the Northern side.

Rear side St.Peter & St. Paul's

The nearest village west of the marina is called Erenkoy.  It is also called Yenierenkoy.  All the villages and towns in Northern Cyprus have at least 2 names -- their old Greek names and their newer Turkish names.  This really makes reading maps and road signs challenging when driving as the 2 often use the different names interchangeably.  By the time one figures out what a sign means, you have made the wrong turn or passed the turn you should have made.  Getting around is easy though; there aren't a lot of roads and it is an island after all.  Hard to really get lost on an island.

According to the tourist brochure, civilization in Cyprus dates back 9,000 years.  The island has been occupied by a succession of peoples from Europe and Asia.  In the 8th century B.C. it was part of the Assyrian empire, then the Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian empires.  In 58 B.C. the island was seized by the Romans.  Richard the Lionheart settled on the island in 1191 A.D. during the third Crusade.

typical street in Old Venetian Walled Town
Then, after selling the island to the Knights Templar, he permitted Guy de Lusignan to buy the island.  (Richard sold it twice?)  Cyprus remained in Lusignan possession until captured by the Venetians in 1489.  From 1571 to 1878 the island was ruled by the Ottomans until they leased its administration to Britain.  Britain annexed Cyprus in 1914.  British colonial policies promoted ethnic polarization, as citizens identified themselves as either ethnic Greek or ethnic Turkey, with both groups identifying even more strongly with their own island of Cyprus rather than either Greece of Turkey. The British applied the principle of "divide and rule", setting the two groups against each other to prevent combined action against colonial rule. Independence was granted in 1960.  But after Greek Cypriot and Greek military coup in 1974, Turkey was 'forced' to intervene to safeguard the interests of the Turkish Cypriots.  The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983.

Remains of St. Nikolas Cathedral in Old Town
The TRNC continues to be the country that does not officially exist.  Turkey is the only country that recognizes the TRNC.  NATO and the EU continue to insist that Northern Cyprus does not exist and that the entire island belongs to Greece after the Greek military coup in 1974.  There is a Green Line separating North and South.  No shots have been fired in Cyprus in decades.  Tourists are allowed to freely cross the Green Line and travel both North and South sides of the island; but citizens of the 2 countries are not allowed such free movement between South and North.  We have met several UK citizens who are residents in South Cyprus.  They are allowed free movement between North and South because they are citizens of the UK and merely residents on this island.  However, Greek citizens and Turkish citizens of the respective South and North are not allowed this free movement.  And yachts that visit Northern Cyprus are prohibited from then visiting Southern Cyprus -- the authorities in Southern Cyprus claim they will seize your boat if this is attempted.

A building in Old Venetian Walled Town at Famagusta -- note holes from artillery in 1974 civil war

St. Nickolas down the street
It takes about an hour to drive to Famagusta on the southern coast of Northern Cyprus.  The city's new Turkish name is Gazimagusa, but everyone still calls it Famagusta and it is considered the historical capital.  In the center of the city near the seaside stands the old walled town.

The town of Famigusta was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Arsenoe, which itself was built to replace the ancient city of Salamis after being sacked by Arab raiders in 648 A.D. Arsenoe eventually grew into a small fishing port.  In 1291 A.D., after the fall of Acre, Crusaders began to settle in the town; bringing with them the vast wealth they had accumulated during their conquests of the Holy Lands. 
Remains of Old Venetian Royal Palace
This resulted in creating Famagusta into the richest city in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time.  To proclaim the superiority of Christianity and to appease God for their sins, the inhabitants built churches all over the city.  At one time there were 365 churches in Famagusta; one for each day of the year.  Later, conflicts between the Venetians and the Genoese in the city, coupled with the increasing amount of resources and energy spent on defense against a probable Ottoman invasion, seriously hampered trade and the further development of the city.

St. Nickolas Cathedral

In 1571 the Ottomans took the city and Famagusta, no longer having any strategic or economic importance, reverted to the insignificant port town that it had been in the past.   During the British rule from 1878 to 1960 much of the architectural heritage of Famagusta was lost when stone was taken from many historical sites to build the Suez Canal.

Claire, Peter & Bill in Old Town Famagusta
Yesterday we returned to Famagusta accompanied by Claire and Peter, fellow yachties berthed in Karpaz Gate Marina and also former residents of Southern Cyprus for 5 years.  Claire and Peter showed us where the bus departs from Famagusta for our future use to/from the marina.  Then we drove into the old Venetian walled town area.  This reminded me somewhat of the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia; but not nearly as economically vibrant and with only a fraction of the number of tourists that fill Cartagena.  (LOVED Cartagena; gotta go back one day)

We walked around only a short distance; then settled at a sidewalk cafe for lunch.  I had a fabulous halloumi cheese salad.  Previously I have only eaten haloumi cheese brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and black pepper and fried.  It does not melt and this traditional Cypriot cheese is very distinctive.  The salad was simply shredded lettuce with chopped tomatoes and onion, topped with finely shredded halloumi cheese with a few olives sprinkled around the edge.  It had no dressing and none was needed.  It was delicious.  Now I know a new use for halloumi cheese.

We then walked a short distance around the interior of the walled city.  The hot afternoon temperature was not conducive for a longer exploration.  Soon we were back in the car and back to the marina.

Grilled entrecote
Last evening almost all the yachties gathered in the marina bar for drinks.  It was fun and enjoyable to meet more of the other folks planning to spend the winter here.  BTW, we ate dinner in the marina restaurant on our anniversary Tuesday.  Bill enjoyed a steak and grilled vegetables.  It was delicious, perfectly prepared and more than he could eat.

Fish Stew???

I opted for "crispy calamari and fish stew" -- mainly because I love calamari and had no idea what this dish might be.  I usually try the unfamiliar in restaurants.  When the waiter delivered my meal, Bill and I looked quizzically at one another.  Bill said, "The menu said fish stew."  The waiter smiled and pointed to the 2 fried prawns nestled in the center of the fried calamari rings.  He nodded and said, "Yes -- fish stew."  I think something is lost in the translation of the word stew between English and Turkish.  It was served with a lemony olive oil filled with herbs for dipping which was very delicious.

Some of the other yachties had complained to us that the marina restaurant is expensive.  I beg to differ.  By rolling the 2 for 1 happy hour into an early dinner, we enjoyed 3 large glasses of excellent red wine, 2 large beers, an appetizer of mixed olives and various breads, a salad for 2, Bill's steak and grilled vegetables and my calamari and "fish stew" -- all for a grand total of 101TL or $56.90 USD.  All beautifully presented and delicious.  A bargain in my opinion.  Sure, there are less expensive meals to be found locally; but not as nice as this.  Chalk off another cruiser rumor.  This marina restaurant is not at all over-priced for what they serve.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nothing much happening

That blog title pretty much sums it up.  Been here for 10 days and nothing much is happening.  Still no electricity on the docks, which means there also is no water on the docks as these are both controlled together by a master control unit in the marina office.  Thankfully, the water is this marina is exceptionally clear and clean and there are very few occupied boats, conditions which have allowed us to run the watermaker as needed.   

Construction of the building that will house the mini-market and the laundry is complete.  The gondolas and other equipment for the mini-market are on site and the washers and dryers for the laundry are also here.  The contractor needs to finish a few interior items in the building (like the air-conditioning......a very important and much needed item in this climate) before the building can be turned over to the marina.  That should happen next week, so hopefully the mini-market and the laundry facilities will be operational within 2 or 3 weeks.

The best guess on restoration of electricity to the docks is "mañana" -- which as we learned in Venezuela does not mean tomorrow.  Mañana means "definitely not today."  

The so-called electrician is working ever-so-slowly on the docks.  He is installing grounding straps between each section of the pontoons and electricity pedestals, and he is almost finished with that part of the work.  They removed all the aluminum panels covering the wiring conduit for all the docks.  There were several areas of chafe through the insulation on at least one of the large wires.  That (those) chafed wires obviously will have to be replaced.  And that just happens to be on the dock where we are now berthed.  I do not think any electricity will be restored to any of the docks until the job is complete and inspected.  My best guess is another 2 weeks, but who knows.

BTW, we were informed by a local restaurant owner that it is normal here to NOT earth or ground the electricity when constructing homes or buildings.  He is from the UK (there are a lot of UK residents in Northern Cyprus) and owns a newly constructed home nearby.  He had a friend who is an electrician in the UK re-wire his new home and his restaurant so that everything is properly "earthed" or grounded as we would say in America.  I find it amazing that anyone anywhere would install anything electrical and not have it grounded.  In fact, I find this so amazing that I must doubt the veracity of the statement.  

At any rate, the electricity on the docks were not grounded and this fundamental error cost the life of a hard-working young man.  His widow visited the marina one day last week with her family to see the place where her husband died.  It was so sad.  And his death was so preventable!  I know what would happen in America -- the electrician would be sued; the project contractor would be sued; the dock manufacturer would be sued; the electric pedestal manufacturer would be sued; the marina management would be sued; and the developer would be sued.  One or all would pay dearly for their part in causing (or not preventing) the death of this young man.

The marina moved all the occupied boats that need electricity to the breakwater dock.  That is the only part of the marina other than the office and restaurant that currently has power.  About 5 boats moved out there so they could enjoy air-conditioning.  We have the built-in generator so we opted to stay on the regular docks.  It is a very long walk to the showers, restrooms, restaurant or office if you are berthed way out on that breakwater wall.  We prefer to deal with the heat rather than move out there.  The dockmaster moved us to our 'permanent' space a couple of days ago.  

Other than this electrical issue, this appears to be a first-class marina.  A huge amount of money is being poured into this project.   We have never seen a breakwater constructed so sturdily.  Shouldn't ever have to worry about bad northerly weather damaging yachts berthed in here!  The marina is extremely well-protected and sheltered.  The entrance involves a reverse dog-leg, with high breakwater walls on both the northerly and the westerly sides.  One could not envision a more sheltered marina.  Even if at the moment there is not much for entertainment in the area for liveaboards, this still would make a superb place to leave a boat for the winter.

We enjoyed properly prepared Fish & Chips at the local Brit restaurant both Friday nights since our arrival.  It is prepared from frozen cod, of course, and it is cooked to perfection.  A real treat since we have not had any form of seafood since arriving in the Med other than fried calamari a few times.  We have missed having fish.  This isn't fresh; but it is good nonetheless.  They had to explain 'mashy pease' to us; having never seen this before.  Mashy pease taste okay -- sort of like solidified split-pea soup -- but we both prefer normal garden peas.  We had never been served fish & chips with peas before, but apparently that is the traditional British way.

It has been too hot to think about doing any of our planned boat chores.  No hurry since we will be here so long.  Might as well wait for cooler weather.  We will be very glad to when dock water is restored so we can wash off all the salt topsides.  That is the only chore bothering either of us so far.  No one likes being on a dirty salty boat.  

Our time thus far has been spent reading books, watching DVDs and playing on the computer.  One of the marina workers had a cable made that will work with our "TV" so when electricity is finally restored we should have TV on the boat.  I understand we will receive about 25 channels, the only ones in English being BBC and CNN.  Guess that will be better than nothing although I would have liked something more entertaining other than just news channels.  Bill fell in the water (don't ask) with the iTouch in his pocket; so it instantly died.  He immediately filled it with alcohol and then submerged it in a sealed container of rice for several days.  It now turns on again and apparently works except for the touch screen -- which means it doesn't work since the touch screen is necessary to do anything with this device.  He was disappointed because he enjoys using it for mobile internet access when off the boat.  I was disappointed because that meant no more music until our visit home in December when we can get a new one.  I can't go 3 months without music!!!!  But Bill saved the day.  He loaded a few gigs of music on a USB thumb drive .  It is plugged it into the front of our JVC radio and music again plays at the nav station and in the cockpit.  I am a happy camper again.  Plus, this music is not our normal iTunes library; so it is a nice change of pace.  Mostly jazz, but a nice mix.

We have reserved a rental car for 3 days this week so we can explore the island a bit.