Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Enjoying life back in Fethiye

 Thursday, 13 February 2014

Only a tiny bit of snow left up there
The flights back to Turkey from Houston were uneventful.  No crying babies anywhere near us and no turbulence or delays.  A Turkish friend was supposed to pick us up at the Dalaman airport but his grandmother died that day, so he could not make it.  He was gracious enough to arrange a car service to bring us back to Fethiye.  Transport was smooth and quick and there was no lost luggage and no hassles with Customs.  Luggage was checked through to Dalaman so we did not have to deal with claiming it in Istanbul and moving it to the domestic terminal and re-checking it again.  Customs in Dalaman sends every bag and carry-on through a scanner; their only questions were about the Jordan series drogue in one bag and the new spare manifold for the Onan generator in another bag.  We explained what those were and no duty was required to be paid.  Weather was clear and totally still when we arrived back at the boat.  We man-handled the four 50-pound duffle bags onto the deck of BeBe and down inside the saloon, along with our two overweight carry-on bags and our two overweight backpacks.  Got it all unpacked and about 75% stowed away before we fell into bed exhausted.  And then the rain started.  Very thankful that it waited until all that luggage was down inside the boat before the skies opened up.
Juxtaposition of palm trees by the seaside and snow on the nearby mountaintops

No windows!  So, of course it will rain!
Taped up; ready for rain.
The rain cleared long enough the next afternoon to allow us to walk to the nearest supermarket and buy a few essentials to re-stock the empty fridge.  Then more rain for another day.  Cleared up bright and sunny so I went to the weekly Tuesday Market and stocked up on veggies while Bill met with a 'glass' guy from Marmaris.  I returned to find the windshield panels removed from BeBe.  Yep; we are getting new windshield panels.  Both windshields were beginning to show the first cracking of crazing.  You know it is only a matter of time before it would be impossible to see clearly through those windshields.  Might as well replace them now as it would just cost more later.  We had been told years ago that these panels were Lexan, but the 'glass' guy expert assured Bill that the original ones are Plexiglass rather than Lexan.  The Lexan would be clearer but would scratch easier.  So Bill told him to replace with exactly what was there originally.  Salt water scratches everything badly enough; do not want something that will not hold up well to salt spray.  

It is a 2-person job to mount the windshield that opens.
Looking at an Amel 54 docked next to us I noticed that their windshield panels are tinted.  Bill called the 'glass' guy, who fortunately had stopped to eat lunch in Fethiye before returning to Marmaris, and told him that we wanted the new panels lightly tinted.  He returned to BeBe and we selected a color tint.  Also removed the side panels.  Those did not need replacing because those were not crazed by the UV damage over the years, but it would look strange to have tinted windshields and clear side panels.  So all four panels are being replaced.  A couple of hatches are slightly crazed but we opted not to replace those yet.  The crazing on the hatches is not bad enough that it bothers either of us; so that can wait a few more years.

One filthy once-white fender.

While we were gone they changed the boat docked next to us.  The one there now is another Amel 54.  It has a stainless steel trim down the center of the rub rail.  When we left there was a narrower boat docked there and the fenders were not even touching the other boat.  Now our fenders are squeezed too tightly.  Look what that stainless strip did to our fender!  I am so glad we removed our new fender covers.  Would have hated for that black mess to have gotten on our new covers.  Hopefully I will be able to scrub off the black markings.  

Market day = $8.36
Biggest splurge were the 2 avocados and
flat green beans.  Just beginning season
so those were expensive.
2-liter bottle cold-pressed, unfiltered
homemade olive oil = $9.16

Today was a very enjoyable day.  We walked all over the old town area and shopped.  Did not buy much of anything except one of those poor-quality rolling shopping carts to make shopping the weekly produce market easier, but we enjoyed comparison shopping for possible new dishes and assorted things.  Ate a delicious typical Turkish lunch in the 'local' area; hit the supermarket again; and returned to BeBe very late afternoon as the clouds began to darken.  

The main purpose of this shopping expedition was to find something to cover the empty windshield spaces.  Because there is 90% chance of rain predicted for tonight and tomorrow.  
Figures, doesn't it?  Was sunny until we removed the windshields, so now it will rain.  We quickly taped up plastic to cover the openings.  So we have done what we can.  If that stuff gets wet, then it just gets wet. The new windows should be installed early next week.

Windshield installation
That will pretty much end all the updating or improvements we have wanted for BeBe during this eighth year of cruising.  The boat is now 11 years old and it was time to do those few things we have had done since last July.  The only thing left on our wish list is new anchor chain.  That presents a bit of a problem because the pitch of the links on the chain sold in Turkey will not fit out windlass gypsy.  Our gypsy fits the link pitch of the chain sold in France.  We have no plans to visit France and there is no way we are paying to ship 100-meters of chain to Turkey or any other country.  The option is to replace the gypsy with one that will fit the pitch of the links of chain available here.  We are mulling that over.  Still have 2 1/2 months to make that decision before we depart Turkey for the final time.

Snow covered mountaintops around Fethiye Bay

When we arrived back in Fethiye just 5 days ago there was snow on the mountaintops all around the area.  It was beautiful with the calm huge bay and green trees at sea level and the white mountaintops in the background.  Today most of that snow is melted.  That happened quickly!  

More snow around Fethiye.  This has been an
extremely mild winter.  Normally much more snow.

This winter has been extremely mild.  One could easily be lulled into thinking it is time to start sailing again.  (But we will wisely wait until mid-April and be certain that winter is really over.)  We remember freezing our tushies off in Cyprus in February and March 2012 and that was considerably farther south than here, so surely it will be getting cold a few more times this winter.  

View as we walk into town. Most winters there is
much more snow up there.

But for now this weather is perfect with 64F daytime and 50F overnight.  Perfect.  Rain and all.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

New windshields and side windows.
Ignore the dirty streaks on coach roof; have not yet
cleaned outside boat since we returned.

The new windshields and side glass panels were installed yesterday.  We are very pleased with the quality of the workmanship.  Very, very pleased.   We had been hesitant to have the windshields replaced because the port side panel is a bit tricky since it opens upward. The port side windshield in front of the helm required cutting a channel into the Plexiglass that then holds a gasket.  This gasket keeps the water out when the windshield is in the closed position.   Hope these panels hold up as well as the original ones did for 11 years.

New tinted windshields and side windows

Here is a link to the website for the company that did this work on BeBe.  The owner is the man who did the work.  This company is located in Marmaris but he will drive to reasonably close locations like Fethiye when he is not too busy, like during the winter season.  His English is excellent.

Uh-oh!  We have no windows!
Not really.  This is looking through the new windshield.  So clear!
We  are going to enjoy these new tinted windows.

Friday, February 7, 2014

As the old song goes: Galveston, oh! Galveston....

Tomorrow evening we board Turkish Airlines flight direct from Houston to Istanbul.  It is again time to return to BeBe.  We enjoy our trips to Texas but always look forward to being back on the boat!  This is the first time we have been fortunate to score a direct flight to Istanbul.  It will be wonderful not having to go through Frankfurt or Newark or Chicago.

The month of January whizzed by!  Seems like Christmas Day was only a couple of weeks ago.  

Elisabeth (BeBe), Zachary, Damien & Bill
Bill's brother, John, had us to dinner several times.  Always a pleasure.  One weekend we visited long-time friends Donna & Bruce at their beautiful country home.  Donna has become quite the gardener.  She gifted us with homemade grape jelly -- made from grapes she grew!  It was delicious!  Donna also gave us a jar of jalapeño jelly made from peppers she grew.  Her garden was quite prolific this year with half-dozen types of tomatoes and all kinds of other delights.

One day we took the 3 grandkids to see the big dinosaur exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  A good time was had by all.

Tara Winery.  Tara Bed & Breakfast house in distance.

One week we made a trip up to Mabank, Texas, to visit long-time friends Bob & Barbara and very much enjoyed catching up with them.  Also enjoyed some primo barbequed baby back ribs!!  And they introduced us to the best fried pies in the world!  These were so good that we bought a dozen assorted flavors of frozen pies to bring back to Houston.  A high-calorie decadent treat.  But, who cares!  Cannot buy fried pies just any old day or place.  Enjoy them while you can.

Judy & Bill at Tara Winery.  Ever so slightly tipsy.

One day Barbara drove us to visit the Tara Vineyard and Winery.  That was an especially fun day!!  I think Bob secretly regretted not joining us this day.  We each did a 'flight' of 7 wine tastings.  Not one of us did the 'swirl in the mouth and spit' deal that one is supposed to do at wine tastings.  We drank every single little glass,  Which resulted in 3 smashed people eating lunch at the winery...each of us with another glass of wine.  

Bill & Barbara at Tara

Bill & Barbara at Tara

Bill and our tasting host at Tara

But by the time our leisurely lunch was finished we were fine to drive back to Mabank.  Bill and I bought 3 bottles of red wine from Tara which were in the $32-$45 bottle range.  The Carriage House was especially good.  We need to visit this winery again the next time we visit Texas.  

George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas
Leaving Mabank we drove just a bit farther northwest to visit the new George W. Bush Presidential Library located at the SMU campus in Dallas.  We had visited his dad's library at the A&M campus in College Station during our last trip to Texas, and we wanted to compare the two.  #41 had much more land space upon which to build his library than #43 was able to get at SMU.  Guess that is to be expected since SMU is in the heart of Dallas and land is at a premium in that area.  We enjoyed this library; it is much more interactive than the other presidential libraries that we previously have visited. 

The immigration plan that should have been implemented.

Sign in the library, quoting then Gov. Bush.

Replica of Oval Office 
Replica of Oval Office
There were two sections that we enjoyed more than the rest.  One was the tiny theater showing videos of President Bush being self-deprecating in various press interviews.  The man has a great sense of humor.  The other sections that we particularly enjoyed was the tiny area where audio clips of former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice were played over various video clips. 

Replica of Resolute Desk

One quote from Sec. Rice hit home with me:  "If you were in a position of authority on 9/11 then every day afterward was 9/12.  You would do everything within your power to prevent another attack."  We Americans have exceptionally short attention spans.  That is one of our worst faults, and we really do need to remember 9/11.  I appreciate Sec. Rice's comment and think we need to remember that as our country moves forward.  

Layout of White House
Note upper left.  When did USA have a Queen?

After a few hours at that library we drove down to College Station to visit with Bill's youngest brother, Theo, and his wife, Teresa.  We saw them on Christmas Day but with 23 people celebrating Christmas that day there was little opportunity to quietly chat with them.  We enjoyed the weekend at their home catching up with each other.

One week we drove down the Texas coastline to Corpus Christi.  We have been searching for a place to buy a house that would be suitable for our eventual retirement from cruising.  We are nowhere ready to stop cruising but know that eventually we will reach a point when we can no longer live on a sailboat.  We are not getting any younger, and we realize that. 

Intercoastal Canal near Port Aransas

Last summer we checked out real estate from Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Pennisula westward to West Beach on Galveston Island and realized that the entire area was now out of our price range.  This time we checked out from Surfside all the way down to Corpus Christi.  There were a couple of communities that would suit our retirement, but it all came back to "why live somewhere that is a 5 to 6-hour drive from Houston."  So we decided to focus on older properties in Galveston that we could rent until we are ready to become CLODS (Cruisers Living On Dirt).

Drilling platform under construction near
Corpus Christi

There was a home for sale that we really wanted to see, but the tenant always had a reason not to let a real estate agent show us that house.  So we never got to see the inside of that house that was our first choice.  Maybe we would have hated the interior; who knows!  But while driving the area we discovered another small house in the next block on the same street.  And it turned out that the listing agent was my cousin!  Small world.

This purchase was rushed.  Unbelievably rushed.  But the title company was able to process the documents quickly and we signed the contract today.  And will sign a contract with a property management company tomorrow morning.  Then fly back to Turkey tomorrow evening.  The sellers are out of town and will sign their documents on Monday, so the sale is not complete just quite yet.  The title company has our money and there is no reason to think that the sellers will cancel out at the last minute; they are motivated to sell quickly because they have a mortgage and want to be free of this property ASAP.

Our 'new' little home in Galveston
Bottom line is that we are (almost) now the (proud?) owners of a small house on Galveston Island.  It is located less than 2 blocks from UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch).  This should be a desirable lease property for a couple of students at UTMB.  Or a couple of nurses who want to be roommates.  Or an intern with a small family.  This is an older home -- aren't they all 'older homes' in Galveston? -- and it is small at just under 1300 square feet.  It was completely re-done in 2006 and 2007, and has crown molding throughout and granite counter tops in the kitchen, Hardiplank on the exterior.  A cute little old home in the typical Galveston architectural style.

It will be perfect for us when we eventually retire.

Added 7 Feb 2014:  Forgot to mention that our new little house is also only about 3 blocks from the Stewart Beach.  This is one of the reasons we focused on Galveston for a retirement location.  The sea has been such a large part of our lives.  Cannot imagine living anywhere that we could not see the ocean.  Or, in this case, the Gulf of Mexico.