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Wahba Crater Trip - April 2012
Graham
20/04/2012, 700 km West of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

It's been quite some time since I had anything to add to 'The Blog', as to be quite honest, I am simply working flat out here in Saudi! However, we have finally managed to get away from it all last weekend and went off on a small camping expedition to the Wahba Crater, about 700 km west of Riyadh, towards Jeddah. Departing Wednesday afternoon, it was a heck of a long drive after a 5 am start and nearly a full day's work, and the last 3 hours driving in the dark was a bit of a challenge, especially the 10 km 'off road' near the crater, in the dark, in the rain, with the thunder and lightning...reminds me of the Atlantic Crossing in 2008! Anyway, arrived, set up camp, cooked dinner, went to bed, and set off at 9-30am on Thursday morning down into the Wahba Crater, a spectacular sight in Saudi, formed from volcanic activity beneath the earth 'a few years back'... Some photos are here which I hope you enjoy. You can read all about the crater by typing in the name to Google. There were twelve of us in all, spread across six cars and tents, no casualties, and a great time was had by all, although a few people were starting to wish that they had spent more time in the gym before going! Hard on the knees going down, and hard full stop coming back up in the heat! So there you have it - proof that we actually still alive!

The Bosphorous Beckons...
Graham
11/06/2011, Istanbul

After 6 months of working flat out, I realised that I still had 6 weeks holiday to cram in between now and November. Remembering the old addage of "use it or lose it", I fired up the web, looked for a cheap holiday away from Saudi and therefore away from the phone, and hey presto, here we are in Istanbul. What a place. This has been on the visit list for a few years now but for some reason, never made it to the top. We are staying in a small place called The Legend Hotel in the heart of the Old City; a great location with about 1,000 + restaurants, or so it seems, within walking distance. If you are a vegetarian, I would recommend visiting a different country, but if you like meat, meat and more meat, get on a plane and come here! The smells and sounds of sizzling kebabs make it hard to get through the day on only 3 meals, and the local tea shops provide a great social gathering place for locals and travellers alike, with a cup of local tea at about 40 pence. The architecture here is incredible; a trip into the Hagia Sofia with its stunning mosaics and paintings, followed by an afternoon in the Grand Bazaar with its 4,000 shops selling everything you could possibly think of...Inclement weather today, but so what? A mile walk to the ferry terminal, onto a ferry across the Bosphorous to...Asia...and another mile walk to check out the marina for future potential as a wintering spot for Quasar IV in a few years time. A wander back through a student demonstration, another ferry, a trip to the Hodja Pasha Cultural Centre to book a ticket for a traditional Turkish dance evening, tea in the tea gardens near the hotel, followed by a 1 hour kip and a thirst quenching Efes beer, one of our favourites from Northern Cyprus days. Time for dinner in the roof restaurant overlooking the Blue Mosque now. I feel a kebab coming on.....

Ships of the Desert
Graham / Very hot!
03/06/2011, Riyadh - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

We're back!! But not on QUASAR IV at the moment...The only ships we see are the Ships of the Desert above, the camels that are roaming everywhere we go, always curious to know what food you may have hidden away in your pockets. Life and working in Riyadh is certainly different to sailing the oceans, but it does mean that we can get QUASAR IV sailing again in a reasonable time frame which would have not otherwise been possible. She's parked on a hardstanding at the moment near Portsmouth, no doubt collecting dust, awaiting The Big Adventure Part II, which is beginning to shape up now. I started looking at the plan to refurbish the boat, and given the large number of jobs that need doing, went for the Microsoft Project option on the PC to try to keep track of it all. After Planning Day 1, I realised that I could not find a big enough piece of paper to print out the plan, so it's now back to the tried and tested 'cuffing it on the back of a fag packet' approach which has always worked well in the past! Despite our 13,000 Nm trip, the boat is in good structural condition, but is certainly looking tired at the moment. So, new upholstery, fix the roof lining (well it is a Westerly!), fix the generator, fix the autopilot, fix the leaks, fix the roller furlers, overhaul the engine, fix the gearbox, fix the Eberspacher, fix the fridge....etc, etc, which brings back fond memories of our 4 months in Port Solent Marina over winter 2007 getting ready for the first Big Adventure. This time, we hope to get the work done more quickly as we know the boat inside out. Timeframe? Well, could be 3 to 4 years away before we set sail again, unless we come up with another money-making plan very quickly. Bearing in mind that B.O.A.T. stands for Break Out Another Thousand, I'm working on it...! In the meantime, please enjoy our updated Photos from Riyadh in our gallery

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