Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer has arrived

All I can say is that I am very thankful the humidity isn't 80% like it might be back home.  The heat in this part of Turkey is every bit as hot as Houston, Texas, although not quite as humid.  We are sweltering today.  The wind makes it feel like we are in a convection oven.  BTW, the interior temperature was 98F at 15:45  and the outside temp in the shade was 103F.

Counting the hours until evening when the temp should decline.

A see-through plastic dinghy (or washtub)

Recently I mentioned the tiny dinghies used by most European boats.  This one wins the prize.  It looks like a plastic washtub.  It is such thin white plastic that you can actually see through it from across the anchorage.  I would not feel secure motoring about in such thin plastic.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just sitting

Our  anchorage neighbors: the Turkish Coast Guard 
Haven't been doing too much for the past week.  We stayed 2 nights at the hotel dock and then moved to the adjacent anchorage near the Coast Guard dock.  There have been reports of 2 boats being broken into in the far more isolated anchorage across on the northern side of this bay.  Small amounts were stolen each time.  That is one reason we won't be anchoring over there.  The other reason is that whatever is built on that beach plays VERY LOUD music, sometimes very late into the night.  I cannot imagine why anyone would want to anchor over there.  

The weather has warmed up considerably.  The hottest yet this season has been 92F inside the boat.  But, unlike our home Texas, it cools down nicely here during the night.  There is not a hint of breeze during the mornings.  Sometimes we awaken to glassy water that mirrors the clouds.  But each afternoon around 14:00 or 15:00 the wind picks up nicely from the west for a few  hours.  Amazing what a difference that wind makes in cooling off the interior of the boat as well as the cockpit.  I love the late afternoon breezes.  However, the late afternoon is also the time that boats arrive to dock, and that provides our afternoon entertainment.   Watching arriving boats set anchors is also entertaining.  

One would think that by the time boats reach Turkey that those sailors would know how to set an anchor.  Apparently not always true.   It is funny sometimes....... as long as they are not anchoring close to us.  Some boats anchor 4 or 5 times before getting a set they are happy with.  I do not understand why they have such difficulty.  The sea bed in this entire bay is mud...... really good solid-holding mud.  It grabs your anchor really well.  Honestly cannot figure out what the problem is for some of these guys.

Since arriving in Fethiye we have chanced to meet up with people from several boats that wintered with us in Northern Cyprus.  Two boats are here now; the others have already moved on.  Also chanced to meet up with an Australian boat that transported on the same ship with us from Maldives to Marmaris last year.

Yesterday we picked up our 1-year Residents Permits from Immigration.  We were surprised and disappointed to learn that rather than using the date of application for the residents permit as the beginning date, instead they use the date of first arrival in Turkey as the beginning date for the 1-year resident permit.  We submitted the application for the 1-year resident permit on 30 May 2012, fully expecting to receive a visa permit allowing us to be in Turkey until 29 May 2013, which would provide us ample time to haul out for routine anti-fouling next May as soon as the weather is good enough.  

We arrived in Tasucu on 4 May 2012, and the Fethiye immigration authorities used that date as the beginning date of our 1-year residents permits.  So we must depart Turkey by 3 May 2013 or apply for another 1-year residents permit, which we do not want.  Our best hope is that spring weather will be warmer and drier than normal next spring so that we can haul out the last half of April and meet our departure deadline of 3 May 2013.  We have been told by other sailors that the immigration authorities in different ports are interpreting the residents permits beginning dates differently; but this was our experience here in Fethiye.  So, future visiting sailors should plan their arrival and departure dates carefully.  

Last week there was a 6.1 earthquake nearby.  Two news agencies reported the epicenter location slightly differently.  One news report stated that the epicenter was slightly south of Rhodes.  Another news report placed the epicenter in a Turkish town near Fethiye.  Either way, the epicenter was between 30 and 50 miles from us.  We were aboard and down inside the boat when the quake happened.  This is the third time we have experienced an earthquake......first was a major quake in Tonga 20 miles distant, second in New Zealand at maybe 100 miles distant, and now in the Aegean Sea.  Each time it has felt like when a car drives over many small speed bumps placed closely the ridges in the pavement when approaching a bridge.  Another friend described it feeling like a freight train went beneath the boat.  That is also a good description.  Bill once described it as feeling like the water around the boat was popping popcorn, sort of rapid tiny bounces to the boat.  All the dogs nearby began to bark just before we felt the quake.  Bill and I instantly looked at one another and said "earthquake" in unison and then scurried up into the cockpit.  I watched the water in the bay for about 1/2 hour and saw no evidence of a coming tsunami.  Then there was an aftershock.  And that was the end of it.

Yesterday another friend emailed us another news article about this earthquake.  Seems that 59 people were hospitalized here in Fethiye because of the quake; some of whom were British tourists.  Two people had heart attacks because of the stress; most were hospitalized for mental trauma; and more than a dozen were hospitalized for injuries sustained when they jumped off hotel balconies and out of windows during the quake.  WHAT!!!!  This was barely a little rumble here in Fethiye.  It would have taken a hell of a lot more than that to induce me to jump off a hotel balcony to break my legs, arms or back.  And mental trauma?  For this little shaking??  People in California would be laughing their heads off at that.  To be fair, in 1999 over 20,000 people were killed in a major earthquake in far northwestern Turkey.  And there was a bad earthquake last fall in far eastern Turkey that killed many people.  But the small rumble in Fethiye was nothing to get excited about.

UPDATE 16 June 2012:  I now know why people were so frightened by the recent earthquake.  According to our guide book, the entire city of Fethiye was leveled by an earthquake in 1958.  The only things left standing were the ancient Telmessos ruins located here.  The book does not state how many people perished in the 1958 earthquake, but one must assume there was a substantial human toll.

Just before sunset we looked up to see 8 large gulets bearing down on us.  Each dropped anchor and backed quickly to the outer pontoon of the neighboring large Ece Satay Marina.  No idea why they all moved over here so abruptly.  Next morning, they weighed anchors and left just as quickly.  BTW, be careful anchoring near any of these large gulets.  They normally lay out 400 to 500 feet of anchor chain, sometimes more.

All is fine.  And we are enjoying Fethiye very much.  Looking forward to the arrival of 2 of our grandchildren next week and wondering what we will find to do to keep them from getting bored.  Kayaking, swimming, polishing stainless steel, reading and talking.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A few days at anchor & a mishap returning to dock

Boynuz Buku -- we are anchored down in center
After submitting our application for the Turkish Residency Visas we decided rather than stay here and wait for our passports to be returned it would be more fun to get out of Fethiye and check out some of the dozens of anchorages in large Skopea Limani.  The day we left Fethiye winds were good and resulted in several hours of delightful sailing.  Those good winds also had made our planned anchorage much too bouncy for our tastes.  So we motored up through the Gocek area and back down the western side of Skopea Limani.  BTW, the word limani means bay.  And Skopea is one enormous bay and a great sailing area.  Reminds us a lot of the BVI, although totally different.

Boynuz Buku -- restaurant dock 
It was too windy for us to feel comfortable attempting anchoring close to so many boats and tying a stern line ashore, so we continued to Boynuz Buku on the western side of Skopea bay.  This is a very long and fairly narrow bay with several small coves on either side for the usual anchor with line ashore, but also is the only anchorage in the area that has depths and space for boats to anchor and swing.  Much more our speed.   There were half-dozen boats already there, leaving plenty of room for us to also swing on anchor.   A couple more boats arrived after us; then everyone who arrived after them docked at the restaurant dock at the end of the bay.  

Boynuz Buku -- cove on side
We dropped anchor at 36.42.67N  028.53.78E and stayed in that one spot for 3 nights.  Never went ashore because the only thing there is the restaurant and we preferred to eat on the boat.  Plus, there were swarms of gnats at sunset and sunrise each day.  My immune system reacts hyper-actively to those insect bites, so we would close up the boat during the worst bug times each day.  The last thing I wanted to do was go ashore and get eaten alive by gnats.  We read books and took the dinghy around to check out some of the stern-to anchorage areas of Boynuz.  Really laid back for a few days.

Starboard neighbors in Tomb Bay
Next we motored a whopping 4 miles to Tomb Bay.  The depths in this bay are far too great to allow for swinging on anchor so it was time to do that stern line ashore that I hate so much.  Luckily there was plenty of space between the boats already anchored that we had plenty of room to swerve back and forth in the process.  Neither of us was happy with where we had to drop the anchor.  We were careful to not drop over where it appeared that the other yachts had dropped their anchors.  In order to not lay on top of their anchors and chain, we were forced to lay out less scope that we would have liked.  But the short scope we ended up with was sufficient to hold us steady for the 2 nights we stayed there.  Less than 3:1 scope.  Yikes!!!

Little bollard in center to tie stern line.
Hard to see these little things!!
Most of the anchorages in Turkey are very deep.  The sea bed slopes dramatically from very deep (often in excess of 100 meters) to shallow (2 to 5 meters) within about 3 boat lengths.  Wind direction often switches at night.  You can imagine what happens when a boat that is anchored on such a steeply sloped sea bed points into the opposite direction when the wind switches.........that anchor has no dirt or sand to dig into as the boat floats into the deeper water.  Thus the necessity of using a long line ashore from the stern of an anchored boat.  To keep the boat pointed in the same direction when the wind changes.........keeping the anchor firmly dug into the upward slope of the sea bed.  When in Marmaris last year we bought a long webbed nylon line mounted on a wheel that feeds out on the stern of BeBe to use in this type anchoring situation.

One of our neighbors in Tomb Bay.
Note triple rock tomb in front near top of forward mast .
We dropped anchor in Tomb Bay at 36.41.67N  028.51.93E and backed toward shore.  I hate backing that close to shore.  You just never know when a single rock might be just beneath the water that could cause serious damage to the rudder.  But this is the Turkish way of anchoring; and we are in Turkey; so we do it their way.  I dropped the anchor using the controls at the helm and backed toward the shore between 2 boats while Bill got in the dinghy and took our stern line ashore when I got us positioned close enough.  Bill had taken the dinghy close to shore earlier as I circled the bay, and he had located a bollard on which we could tie off.  In the past boats tied off to trees or rocks.  You are not supposed to do that anymore.  The Turkish government has installed small bollards in many bays and that is what you are supposed to use.  This is an effort to prevent further damage to trees.  And tying a rope or nylon webbed strapping to a rough rock is never a good idea.  If winds picked up a rope could chafe quickly if tied to rough rock.   Tying off to a smooth metal bollard eliminates damage to trees and eliminates the possibility of chafing through a line.

Our stern line.  Pretty water.  Tomb Bay
Whew!  Glad that was over.  We managed this just fine.  Didn't embarrass ourselves at all as the others watched our anchoring maneuver.  Just wished we could have laid out more scope on the anchor chain.
Just before sunset a charter yacht arrived with 8 German men aboard.  They attempted to anchor off our port side.  Totally mishandled that.  Tried again.  This time 1 of the men swam ashore with a very long rope and attempted to tie off to a rock.  He could not do it.  I have no idea what his problem was; but he could not tie that rope around a big rock formation.  
Looking out of Tomb Bay.  Rope swing on tree.

Another man swam ashore to help him.  Now BOTH of them could not tie the rope around the rock.  As the charter boat got closer and closer to BeBe.  I dropped all our fenders on our port side as protection.  They came within inches several times before finally giving up; moving forward and attempting once again to drop the anchor and back next to us.  Nope; just could not do it.  I could not understand why he was having such a problem.  The helmsman seemed to know how to handle a boat quite well; he simply could not back up toward shore.  Bill took our dinghy and picked up the 2 men ashore and their long rope, and delivered them to the charter boat as it circled the anchorage.  Eventually that boat managed to anchor a short distance away next to a large motor yacht......... after 3 anchoring attempts in that location.   Entertainment for the afternoon.  Eight German men anchoring a charter yacht -- successful after only 6 failed attempts.  Made me feel pretty good that we did it on our first attempt; and we had only 2 people aboard to handle the process.  They had 8 people and couldn't do it.

Triple Lycian rock tomb at Tomb Bay
I liked Tomb Bay.  Down in the corner there are some ramshackle docks where most of the charter yachts docked for the night in front of Nomad's Bar and Restaurant.  BTW, Nomad's also offers haircuts and massages.  You can eat, drink, get prettified and feel relaxed all in one place.  And nothing else is there, except Nomad's.  

Rock tomb down low

On the mountainside there were several Lycian rock tombs visible.  An adventurous person could hike or climb up that mountainside and check out the rock tombs.  I was happy just looking up at them.  BTW, I assume these were Lycian rock tombs.  These could have been Carian.  We are now at what was the border between Caria and Lycia during ancient times.  From where we were anchored we could see 2 separate tombs at lower elevation and a triple tomb higher up.  I believe there were more tombs on the farther side of the mountain on the opposite side of the bay, but those were not visible from where we anchored.

We stayed in Tomb Bay for 2 nights.  We liked it a lot and will return this summer.  

Typical tiny European dinghy
This guy in this tiny dinghy went around the bay several times each day collecting anything he saw floating in the water.  Like plastic bottles and junk like that.  We get a kick out of these ultra-tiny dinghies that are so popular with European sailors.  Our dinghy is probably 3 times the size of this tiny thing and will hold 6 ample-sized adults.  Guess this guy never has a friend sail with him because this little dinghy does not look like it would hold another person.  And they all use very small outboard engines.  We want an outboard and dinghy that is capable of propelling BeBe in case of emergency.  Our 15-hp outboard and dinghy are what saved us from being washed onto the rocks at Martinque several years during an emergency where our main engine could not be used.  Something to think about when deciding whether to have a small dinghy that you row or a substantial size dinghy and outboard capable of carrying several people through choppy seas and being able to move your bigger boat.  Another thing we find strange is that the majority of yachts here in the Med fly very small ensigns (their country flags).  According to Reed's Maritime Flags, an ensign for a yacht should be 1-inch long for each foot of yacht length.  Most European yachts here fly ensigns that are far too small. A 45-foot boat typically flies an ensign that is 24-inches long.  It looks silly.

Next we motored a few miles to the bay called Sarsala Koyu.  Someone familiar with this area had suggested that Sarsala would be a very convenient location to use for meeting someone at the Dalaman airport.   Supposedly the airport is only 20 minutes from Sarsala.   We did not go ashore but it did not appear that there would be any taxis or rental cars available in Sarsala.  There was no commercial activity there at all, just some dirt roads with a few parked cars.   There are red mooring balls placed all around the edges of the bay.  Rather than drop an anchor and back up to the shore, here you must pick up a mooring (no pennants on these moorings) and then back up to the shore and take a stern line to tie off on a bollard.  I guess we could manage that but it would be difficult with only 2 people onboard.  I think we will wait until the grandkids are with us to attempt this procedure.   Bill can get in the dinghy, feed a line through the mooring eye and hand the line back up to the kids to cleat off on the bow while I man the helm; then they can help Bill with the stern line.   Extra hands make some things so much easier.

Since we did not want to deal with the mooring/stern line in Sarasale Koyu........ and since the winds were perfect for sailing back toward Fethiye........ we changed course and set off in that direction.  Enjoyed a perfect day of sailing.  Even saw a couple of places to anchor that are not shown in our guide book that we plan to try later.  In Fethiye bay we anchored for the night.  The next day we moved to the dock at the Yacht Classic Hotel.  This was Bill's 65th birthday and he wanted to celebrate at the hotel restaurant.  It was a lovely evening and the food was better than anticipated.  As was the wine, resulting in both of us drinking too much of it.

The boat traffic to and from this dock gets very busy at certain times daily.  Many Sunsail charter boats spend the night here.  The deal is that you pay 30 to 40 Turkish Lira for the electricity and water.  If you eat dinner in the hotel restaurant then the dock mooring is free.  If you do not eat dinner in the hotel restaurant then the dock mooring costs 1 Euro per foot boat length (plus the 30 to 40 TL for electricity and water).   This arrangement makes this hotel dock quite popular with charter boats.  As soon as one leaves the dock it seems there is another arriving to take its place.  We had texted the manager the previous day requesting berth for a night.  Bill sat in the cockpit all morning waiting for a space to become available on the dock for us.  Shortly after noon Mehmet, the dock manager, came out and said that a boat would be leaving soon and he would come out and guide us to the space.

When Mehmet headed out to get us Bill got in a big hurry to weigh anchor so we could follow Mehmet to the dock.   This led to our first mishap of the sailing season.  In his hurry, Bill forgot about the anchor snubber.  He brought up the anchor and the snubber fell away from the anchor chain, as usual.  But he forgot to pull up the snubber line and left it dangling about 8 meters in the water.  When we arrived near the dock and turned the boat to back up, we activated the bow thruster......... and instantly sheared off the propeller for the bow thruster.  Henri Amel designed this bow thruster with a nylon hub and nylon screws.  If the prop becomes fouled with a rope or whatever, the prop shears off rather than damaging the bow thruster unit.  I am not certain but I think that Henri Amel designed the first retractable bow thruster to be used in yachts.  It works exceptionally well.  (Such a shame that the Amel factory now uses an off-the-shelf bow thruster in the Amel 54 and the new Amel 55.  The one designed by Henri Amel is superior to the one now installed in the new boats.)

Bow Thruster motor separated from shaft
Without a functioning bow thruster, this boat does not back up easily.  In fact, it is darn near impossible to back up accurately without a bow thruster.  The rudder is small and the skeg is large; and the main prop is located at the rear edge of the keel, a long way from the rudder.  It is difficult to get enough wash across the rudder in reverse to steer the boat accurately with the rudder.  With the bow thruster Bill probably could parallel park this 53-foot boat in a 60-foot space.  Without a bow thruster it is darn near impossible to back it up and place it within 25-feet of where you want it.  Bill was not a happy camper trying to back this boat to the hotel dock in 15+ knot crosswind without the bow thruster.  Mehmet came to our rescue and used his RIB to push BeBe to the correct position.  We carry a couple of spare props for the bow thruster but have never had to use one.  This was the first time we had sheared a prop.

Bow thruster dropped for repair.

Henri Amel also designed this bow thruster to allow maintenance without having to haul the boat out of the water.  We should be able to replace the prop while BeBe was docked.  We put the thought aside and enjoyed celebrating Bill's 65th birthday.

Rope attached to dropped bow thruster.
Towel and bung to keep sea water  from splashing up
in case of a wave.

This morning Bill pulled out a replacement prop with new nylon hub and nylon screws, and the special tool supplied by Amel that would allow us to effect repairs in the water.  Bill wasn't sure whether we should drop the bow thruster and bring it up to replace the prop (as per Amel instructions) or if he should kit-up with scuba gear and do the work underwater.  After much discussion we decided to follow the Amel instructions.

Replacing the bow thruster prop and hub.  Special Amel tool attached
to end of the shaft of the lower unit.

It worked like a charm.  The process could not have gone smoother or been easier.  Bill placed a clamp around the shaft of the bow thruster to keep it from falling.  He used white liquid paper to mark the shaft alignment to the motor and disconnected the 10-hp motor from the top of the shaft.  He placed the Amel-provided special tool into the top of the bow thruster shaft and tightened the set screws securely.  He taped the tool/shaft connection to prevent water from entering the shaft.  He got into the dinghy and I lowered the bow thruster using the long line attached to the special tool screwed into the shaft.  

Replacing collar to prevent motor from going too far down.

Bill used a boat hook to retrieve the bow thruster and pull it to the dinghy.  He removed the sheared hub and replaced it with a new one and screwed the new prop into place.  He replaced the tape to make sure the water would be sealed out; and lowered the unit back into the water.  I pulled the line back up through the compartment and the shaft came right into place.  We were wearing our head phones and Bill directed me to turn 20 degrees clockwise, etc., until the thruster looked to be in alignment; and I pulled it up into place.  It worked perfectly!

All fixed!!  Just need to replace the cabinet lower panel & leather cover.
Bill reattached the shaft to the motor and placed the collar into place to prevent the motor from going too far down.  And we were done!!  This was so simple, thanks to Amel.  A few Amel owners want to change things on their boats.  This is always, always, always a bad idea!  Every little thing on these boats has been designed for specific reasons.  Change anything because you think you know better than the original designers, and you are asking for future disappointments and future failures.  

We are so happy about this simple repair that we are staying at the dock another night to celebrate again.  But neither of us will be drinking wine tonight.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Extended Turkey Visas for Yacht Owners and Crew

For our cruiser friends that are interested in what is happening today in Turkey regarding Visas.  On 14 May 2012, Turkey changed its Visa rules to better accommodate people arriving in Turkey via yachts.  I have written a summary of the application package/process that we experienced in Fethiye on 30 May 2012.  It is likely that things will vary in different ports and at different dates.  At the bottom of this posting, I included the notice of this change from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior.

The following was our application package for a 1 year residence visa:
  • Special clear plastic binder that all of the following was bound into with a fold-away clip. (bought at a office supply store...the passport police insisted on this)
  • Application form, typed and signed (1 copy each).   We had to hire someone to type the application form (can't be printed) that was 15 lira each.  We found a travel agent who typed the form for us. Update: Across the street from the passport police is a travel agency with "RHODES" painted in green on the window.  Phone +90 252 612 40 15 (  They typed our application form...bring them the blank form from the passport police.
  • 6 new passport photos (The passport police did not like what we had and we had to get new ones which had something written on the bottom of each photo in Turkish...this could have been the name of the shop...I don't know, but the photographer knew what we needed when we told him passport police Residence Visa) 10Lira per person for 8 photos...need 6 on the application
  • Receipt of $80USD Turkish Tax paid and paid in Lira..(paid 148 Lira each, which is close to $80USD)
  • 1 color copy of Passport Photo page and adjoining page 
  • 1 color copy of your current Passport Turkish Visa page
  • 1 color copy of Transit Log front sheet with a Fethiye Harbour Master's stamp (we checked into Turkey at Tasucu.  The Fethiye Passport Police wanted Fethiye's Harbour Master's stamp...this confused the Harbour Master, but he finally stamped a photo color copy of the first page of the log for each of us.  BTW, he only stamped the copies we brought him, not the original.
  • A mailing address in Turkey where they can contact us...we gave them the Marina address where we will winter.
  • A 1 Year Residence Visa fee of 172Lira each paid to the Passport Police...this was confusing.  The passport police said time and time again that the cost was $80USD, but when we paid the fee, he collected 172Lira...possible translation problem, but the sign on the wall said 172 Lira for 1 year residence visa.  BTW, I think you can buy up to 3 years if you want.
Total per person was just under $200.00 including taxi, copies, etc.

***************UPDATE 13 June 2012********************

We just received our 1 year Turkish Resident Visas and were surprised to learn that the starting date of the 1 year period is the first date we entered Turkey which was May 4, 2012, rather than the date of application or issuance date of the 1 year Resident Visa.  This will likely be an issue for us.  Had we known that this was the situation, we would have applied for 18 months.

Hope this helps folks following us.

Update 2014:

It is our understanding that Turkey has changed rules for residence permits yet again, and that now these are available only for a period of one year.  And if one stays out of Turkey for more than 90 days that the residence permit is no longer valid.