10/11/2011, Marmaris, Turkey
Sadly it looks like our life of warm, sunny, summer days is coming to an end for as I write this we are sitting out a Meltimi which has brought us up to 48 knots of recorded wind and what seems like four months of no rain in one day. Not that we are complaining as we have had a fantastic summer and it waited until our last guests left last week. However it has meant that Russell's sister and husband are stuck in Rhodes as the ferries are not running, our fingers are crossed that they will arrive tomorrow although there looks like there will be no let up for three days. They are with us for a couple of weeks and we are planning on taking them south to an area we have not explored yet, weather permitting.
We have had great fun with guests on board recently. Kim and Cam West came from Vancouver for a couple of weeks and we explored Hisaronu Korfezi and Bozburun peninsula with them. We met them in Kos and after a night in Bodrum, and the Aquarium with its great snorkeling, we headed down to the ancient harbour of Knidos with its impressive, well preserved ruins. We next stopped at Hayit Buku and had Ogun's famous wild boar for dinner beside the water, what a treat. From there we went to Datca and Kuruca Buku; which is a holiday resort for retired Turkish people - delightful. We decided to pop over to the Greek island of Simi; which lies in the middle of the gulf and hide in a little bay outside of town. What a charming place, we enjoyed a typical Greek lunch and Cam fulfilled a life long dream of sitting at a quayside bar, helping people with their lines and people watching all afternoon with Russell while Kim and I hiked up to the Chora (main town) and delighted in the amazing vistas and quaint cobble stone streets.
From Simi we went to Keci Buku, a large beautiful bay with a good road and only half an hour from Marmaris. On our arrival (thankfully after we had got ourselves all tied up) we got our first rain since May, apparently it was the most Cam has ever seen so quite the experience. The next day was market day in Marmaris so we rented a car and spent the day re-provisioning and showing Kim and Cam our winter home. We were treated to some wonderful scenery and were staggered at the amount of beehives we came across, this area is were the Turkish pine honey comes from - yummy. Moving on we were treated to some wonderful Byzantine ruins when we anchored at Kizil Ad just outside of Bozburun and as is often the case had to share the beach with the local goats. We have found the water in the Dorian Coast crystal clear and a warm 28 degrees, so we have enjoyed a lot of snorkeling. Our last stop was Bozuk Buku where we ate on the beach at Bekir's restaurant and bought bread and tops from Jaylan one of the boat girls. The Byzantine ruins on the peninsular here are huge and make for a fun walk.
Our last night with Kim and Cam was Tuesday night in Marmaris and so we introduced them to our cruisers lively night out at the Pineapple restaurant - always a great time. It was sad to say goodbye to such great crew (they did the first leg of the Atlantic with us, St. Martin to Bermuda and will be crossing back with us when we return Nov'13) we had a really, really good time with them.
We had a couple of days to get the boat cleaned up, laundry done, etc. before our old friends (I have known Caroline since I was four) Simon and Caroline from England arrived. They were only with us for five days, but we made the most of it and took them down to Bozuk Buku; which was as far as the weather allowed, as there was not a lot of wind. More walking of ruins ashore, snorkeling, wakeboarding, dinner at Bekir's on the beach and generally chilling out.
Our last night we had a fantastic fish dinner on the waterfront of Marmaris and did what the Europeans do so well, people watched. There were two cruise ships in town (most we have ever experienced) and to be honest we were shocked at the type of English we saw. Firstly Turkey is a Muslim country and although Marmaris is a holiday resort I tend to cover up to a degree, not the people we saw. There were guys eating without shirts on and girls in bikini tops. That was not the half of it; the obesity was mind blowing, massive tattoos and piercing on old and young, and some really weird haircuts. We thought the Americans were big, well England is due to have a huge health problem, probably 75% of the people we have seen recently are excessively overweight.
The Turkish on the whole are very healthy, a lot do not drink, most eat mainly vegetables as they cannot afford meat, and as they mainly walk or pedal everywhere they are fit. They also work amazingly long hours and take pride in their profession whatever it is. We have a lot to learn from them.
I have added some photos, more will be coming when I get a stick that Cam is sending to me with their 1,100 photos on it. He became our designated photographer and I got a tad lazy when they were on board. Enjoy and do let us know how you are doing when you get a chance.
Time to update our blog. I planned to do it a couple of weeks ago and the thought was there, but as usual I lost track of time. Writing inspiration is a bit slow too.
Sailing south from Lesvos, through more Greek islands that we had not visited on the way up, was a delight. The winds were perfect normally coming from the NW, and even better often during the afternoon, from the West at an average of 15-25 knots. We found some gorgeous anchorages and enjoyed exploring ashore and sampling Greek food, and wine; which was served in tin jugs a kilo at a time (6 euro) - happy days :) One of our trip highlights was a group of more than 30 dolphins playing around our bow; while we sat on the trampoline enjoying their fun for a good half hour, the most we have probably ever seen at one time. A wonderful experience.
We loved Patmos and some of the anchorages were stunning, as is the Chora with its monastery in the main town. It was in Patmos that we met up again with our friends on Fabuloso having a memorable night out together, before meeting up with our friends from England the next day.
We had a wonderful week with Philippa and Richard, lots of laughs and reminiscing, although the time went way too fast and it was sad to say goodbye when we arrived in Kos. They are both looking forward to coming back on board in a couple of years time for some night sailing, when we make our way across the Med on our way to the Caribbean. They were terrific crew and we had a lot of fun together.
We took them to Lipso and Leros, two of our favorite islands before heading down to Kalimnos, Pserimos and Kos. Six islands in six days; which is easy to do over here and we even had a layover day in Pandeli in Leros, a real gem. The weather continued to be just perfect with good winds and warm, sunny days. We even had a chance to wakeboard and must admit Philippa and Richard were terrific sports trying out our board for their first time ever.
In Kos we checked out of Greece after watching the first match of the World Rugby where New Zealand had a fantastic victory over Tonga. We left in style as there was a New Zealand boat just down from the dock from us and so we played the Harka (with full body movements - getting quite good) at full volume for them as we motored out of the Harbour. So we moved back into Turkish waters full time and it is great to be back with such happy people who go out of their way to help us in any way they can. The water we have also found is a constant 28 degrees; which makes me truly happy. After a night at the Aquarium anchorage, visiting my fishie friends it was time to move to Bodrum to get the boat ready for our next guests and catch the next rugby game.
While in Bodrum we met up with old and new friends, I got rid of some of my tan at the local Turkish bath (always a treat) and we did a visa run to Kos where we met our friends Kim and Cam from Vancouver. They are with us for two weeks and we are taking them around the Dorian coast and into Hisaronu Korfezi and Yesilova Korfezi, an area that we have not explored much.
Pictures tell a better story then my words, so enjoy the gallery. Hope this finds you all happy and healthy.
08/07/2011, Lesvos, Greece
Merhaba; or should I say Kalimera as we are currently in Lesvos/Lesbos, Greece. Gosh life can get confusing as they can have up to three different names for a place here, and then juggling between languages keeps us on our toes.
Aeolus, the god of wind, amazingly, has been with us all the way up the coast and we have enjoyed some spectacular days of sailing, normally the wind would be against us at this time of year and having stayed near the mainland we have also avoided the heavy winds and meltimis that occur in the summer months. The clear, sunny days have not been too hot; we had been advised July and August would get horrendous; which is why we headed north - a good decision. The icing on the cake is that there are also hardly any boats, except fishing, and even in the main towns there seem to be no charter boats and only a few international boats like ourselves to socialize with. Very few tourists too, although we have been told that it has been a very bad year for tourism.
We have found that Greece is quite different from Turkey. To begin with the language is more familiar, very like Italian with all the energy and yelling that goes with it, much easier to learn being Latin based. In Turkey the shops never seemed to close, and they hassle you the whole time, although we must look like locals, as we do not suffer much. In fact I kind of miss it J In Greece the shops are open in the morning, and some days they open again from 6-9 pm, however Sunday everything is shut! There is also a lot of Gypsy beggars and people selling trinkets in the bars and restaurants. They also charge next to nothing to tie up alongside the town quay and sometimes you even get electricity and water free, no wonder Greece is going down the drain.
Getting free water has its advantages as we have found in the Med that Ta-b gets horribly dirty and needs constant cleaning. Even when it rains the water has dust in it, and we have sand everywhere afterwards. The seawater is also very salty, much more than the Caribbean, and often we have thick salt to wash off as well. I love going swimming as often as possible, the water is not quite as warm as I would like being 25-27 degrees; however I find the salt helps me float although it can be tough on the eyes and one really needs to rinse off each time.
We have been very fortunate to find some beautiful anchorages, and have had them all to ourselves, but sadly there is a lot of garbage/rubbish on the beaches; which tends to ruin our walks and trips ashore. There are also the horrendous developments, huge ugly cuts into the hills with condos, hotels and houses; just left unfinished. What a waste. This area is so stunning, but the Greeks and Turkish seem to have no sense of design, although we have found some of the older buildings have a lot of character.
One of the highlights of our journey was an evening spent with a wonderful Turkish family, who invited us ashore and shared their beautiful home with us. We ate, drank, sang and danced the night away with a lot of laughter and were given a huge, hand painted, antique platter as a gift before we left, plus a big oregano/basil plant to stop any mosquitoes. Their generosity was overwhelming and we were blown away. The Turkish have huge hearts, we have lots to learn from them.
Each place we have been too has had its own character, not sure how many islands we have visited, but we have enjoyed them all. There is so much history to absorb, ruins to visit, villages to explore, people to meet, languages to learn and yes boat to keep clean with sailing too. People have said don't I get bored, not a chance. I have put nearly 50 pictures in our photo gallery (bit overkill, but I could not work out which ones to leave out) with details of each one for your information. We are now going to work our way south again, we have friends arriving beginning of September and we hope to be near Kos for their arrival. Have a fantastic summer, miss you all and thanks for keeping in touch.
07/04/2011, Salih Adasi
Are we ever going to get North I ask myself. As I write this we are anchored in the Aquarium (aptly named for the amount of fish in the bay) just outside Bodrum. We have returned here after riding out a Meltimi (a summer wind that lasted two days and reached 35 knots) in Gumsuluk, a delightful little cove about half a day north of Bodrum.
Why have we returned to Bodrum? Well after a few weeks of fighting with the batteries, and checking everything, we are resigned to the fact that they are (in the wonderful Australian, often used, word) buggered. They are only supposed to last five years and we have had them since we bought Ta-b, so we are not totally surprised, although we were hoping they might last the summer.
Ooops I can't believe how long it has been since I wrote this blog, my apologies; time seems to get the better of me on board. We have also been a tad busy.
We left Marmaris eventually on the 18th May, plan was 21st April, but with boating we have found agendas never work. However, we had to get to Bodrum quickly as we had guests arriving. So we headed straight towards Datca so that we could be there for their Saturday market; which proved to be fantastic and spent a few days doing last minute prep work on Ta-b while meeting up with some of our cruising friends. With no favourable wind we ended up motoring the whole way to Bodrum, stopping on the way at the ancient harbour of Kindos.
In Bodrum we spent a couple of days stocking up the boat so that we would be ready to go into the Gulf of Gokova; which is a bit off the beaten track. When our guests arrived the heavens opened and we had a massive squall come through, another boat dragged nearly hitting us and took up our anchor, so as Russell brought them aboard totally drenched, it was interesting (stressful?) as we had to up anchor and sort out the mess. As they were all smiles and ready for the "adventure" we instantly knew they were going to be great crew.
The Hoare family had never been sailing before and we really enjoyed sharing our life aboard Ta-b with them. Luckily we had great weather from Day 2 and a wonderful sail across the Gulf, nearly got to 10 knots (clocked 9.9) so a perfect start. We popped back and forth across the Gulf, but only had good wind for a few days otherwise we had to motor or motor sail (not something we normally tend to do). We did a lot of snorkeling, kayaking and also had a ton of fun with our inflatable kneeboard and by the end of nine days everyone had got into "chill" mode. On leaving we were told that they had had the best holiday ever and being on board had exceeded their expectations, so sounds like we did a pucker (one of Russell's favorite words) job.
While we were in the Gulf of Gokova we went into English Harbour onto a restaurant dock. The dock boy messed up the mooring lines and before we knew it we were down one engine (lots of wind, no steerage, no panic - I helm). Once safely tied up, the offending line was cut off and it looked like our prop was okay, but no such luck. By the time we got to Cleopatra's Island we were down one engine and we knew that we would have to put the old girl on the hard (out of the water) to check out the problem. Managed to get back to Bodrum okay (interesting when you can only go to starboard until you have way - speed up) and then spent four days on land fixing the problem, cost a bomb, but not quite enough to claim insurance. If being on the hard is not hard enough (like the pun?) I got sick. Had to go on antibiotics (yup that bad as I do not do antibiotics) and had a violent reaction to the first lot I was given, holy .... I was not well.
Thank goodness for Turkish Baths, found a great one in Bodrum and for 50 TL ($30) and I was able to sweat/scrub/soap and massage all the nasties out of me!!! That and all the amazing local fruit and vegetables that we get from the market (must be organic as you can really taste them) got me back on my feet. Talking about markets, Turkey hardly imports anything and therefore all their produce is fresh, local, in season, and cheap. Currently we are buying cherries, peaches, apricots for 4/6 TL a kilo and tomatoes, cucumbers, and other veg for 1 TL a kilo. You can also buy cheese, olives, nuts and dried fruit from the market very cheaply (great sundowner snacks).
Anyway once Ta-b and I were back on our feet we went back into the Gulf to chill with our friends Dick and Marian from Vancouver who have a boat based in Bodrum. It was fun to kick back and get to know another Kiwi boat Tangerine; that they are friends with, before looking at heading north before the weather gets too hot.
We popped over to Kos in Greece to sort out our visas and transit log for a few days (long bureaucratic story) a lovely island, which we really enjoyed. The Meltimi slowed us down; which in the circumstances is probably not such a bad thing as it has been an easy run back to Bodrum. In fact today we had a fantastic sail from Gumsuluk with just the genni out, nearly clocking 10 knots and surfing some of the waves - great fun.
The weather has been very kind to us; most days are sunny and warm with a gentle wind; which keeps us from getting too hot. The snorkeling has proved to be the best since we have been in the Med and I am enjoying checking out my "fishy friends" on a daily basis; while making sure the anchor is secure. Recently we are finding anchorages are getting more and more day-tripper Gulets (good looking party boats), but they only appear for a few hours and then disappear which works for us. We understand that in July and August this is not the place to be as it gets very hot and crowded, so that is why we are planning on moving north. In the meantime we feel very lucky to be able to enjoy this amazing coastline at this time of year.
We hope that this finds you all happy and healthy, will try and update blog more often (no promises), photos in gallery for you to enjoy - hugs JR
05/10/2011, Marmaris, Turkey
We hope to leave Marmaris this weekend, have had to wait for a new windlass (thingy that helps pull up anchor) yup more boat $$, but we are nearly on our way. Wow what a fun and busy time we have had the last couple of months or so, it will be sad to say goodbye, but good to know that we will return for next winter.
Apart from boat projects, crazy social life and getting to know the area we have also been on a few trips which Gwen, our wonderful local guru of knowledge, arranges for us cruisers.
Our first trip was to Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, a beautiful natural world heritage site in southwestern Turkey. The city's hillside is covered with bright white, smoothly flowing, stone and travertine terraces which are created by heavily mineralized springs that trickle down the slopes. The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white "castle" which is in total about 8,860 ft long, 1,970 ft wide and 525 ft high and can be seen from miles away. It must have been quite luxurious in its day and the museum there had some lovely engraved tombs and artifacts. We stayed in a hotel close by and thoroughly enjoyed the inside/outside spa pools feed from the local springs.
We visited various other places on our way there and back. One of them was the Greek-Roman city of Laodicea and another a huge rug factory. There were 69 rooms full of carpets and the staff shared with us how each type is made and the history behind the designs - it was fascinating. A few of our small group of 12 bought some, after the ritual haggling, but sadly we decided Ta-b could not accommodate any more rugs.
At the end of March we went to Capadocia via Konya passing through the spectacular Lake District on our way. The trip was magical. Konya is the original lodge of the whirling dervishes and a very religious city. The Mevlana Museum and Mausoleum there with the tomb of Rumi was very educational with objects like gold-engraved Korans from the 13th century and among the fabulous ancient prayer rugs there is the most valuable silk carpet in the world.
Capadocia was breathtaking and much larger than we had thought. We visited Uchisar Castle a natural skyscraper which provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area, Cavusin old Greek village, Devrent Imagination Valley with its animal shaped chimneys, Pasabagi with its triple fairy chimneys, Love valley with its phallic chimneys and Monks valley. The Goreme Open Air Museum contained the finest rock-cut churches with beautiful frescoes.
There was so much to see. We were treated to a pottery demonstration in Avanos, the center of pottery since the hitites and bought some beautiful hand painted bowls, had an amazing Turkish night with whirling dervishes and fantastic local entertainment, plus all you could drink (yes a good evening for all). Restaurants in caves, shops in caves and yes we even stayed three nights in a cave hotel and were given the honeymoon suite, which we shared with our friends by hosting evening cocktails.
So what more could we see? Well on our last day we went to Derinkuyu underground city. There many huge underground cities in the area and Derinkuyu is the deepest with stables, cellars, storage rooms, churches, etc.; with an underground river running at the very bottom. It was surreal.
Apart from our time off the boat we have enjoyed getting to know Marmaris and the locals, many who have become friends. The Turkish are some of the most delightful and trusting people we have ever met. The other week I was given three cushions to bring back to the boat, to check out, no money exchanged just a smile and see you soon - amazing. They are such a happy race that look after one other and who really work hard. Mind you they have no idea of safety. A one-way street - what is that as a car comes towards you while you bike along the narrow area with people on the road darting in and out. Helmets, no one wears one, not even on a motorbike that more often then not has a family of four on board. Haggling is part of their culture too, we start at 50% off the asked price and everyone has fun over Turkish tea or coffee that the vendors all over the place balance on swinging trays. Always "you're killing me" is said by them or us; with big smiles when the deal is done, hands shaken with appreciation that we bargained well.
The social life here has been crazy, mind you we have been working hard so the nights are for fun. Recently we had a big St. George's day bash, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day aboard Storm Vogel a beautiful 74' yacht (the first Maxi built, 50 years old on Monday and the boat in Dead Calm); which is skippered by a 26 year old kiwi friend from Russell's home town of Timaru (boat builder who has made us a custom wakeboard), weekly happy hours, onboard entertaining and so it goes on. I have even found time to work with my NuSkin business; which is going very well, however we are hoping life will be a bit quieter once we leave.
I could write so much more, but I have nearly filled two pages; which is enough. Instead we look forward to sharing our adventures with you in person. We attach lots of photos in our gallery (we were asked for more) and will try and update our blog more often now that we are able to kick back a bit. Hope this finds you healthy and happy - enjoy.
When the sun shines in England it is very special, today is one of those days - yippee. At this time of the year, sadly, it's sunny only a couple of times a month. Otherwise we have found that the weather is grey, damp and (although not that cold) we feels it in our bones - yucky. Although I am getting used to it I must admit I am really looking forward to getting back to the boat; which we feel is now very much our home. Russell is already there, taking a few weeks to do boy/blue/messy jobs while I spend some extra time in England with my Mum and family.
Since leaving the boat in mid December we have been on a social roller coaster. Getting back to Vancouver we found that trying to cram a years worth of seeing friends and family into 3 weeks over Xmas/New Year was a real exercise in organization. We feel we did really well and it was wonderful to see so many dear friends, some of whom we had not seen for quite some time. Thank you everyone for making it work, and to those we did not see let's make sure that we get together next time we are over. Whilst our social agenda was packed we also found time to walk the dog we were looking after a couple of times a day, visit Doctors, dentists, eye specialists, etc... so we are now confirmed fit to go off sailing for another season. The weather was kind and we loved the sunny days with the hoare frost; which was spectacular.
We had a wonderful week ski-ing in Whistler with Amy and Edwin (boarding of course for them) after New Year. Russell has at long last given the reigns over to them as they proved that they can now out ski/board us ..... just. The kids both love the mountains and Edwin is planning a third trip to New Zealand this summer to go boarding in Wanaka again. They both have their season's passes to Whistler and are also able to board the local mountains for free, Amy through her part time job at Showcase, where she has worked for several years, and Edwin through his contacts. Amy is studying hard at Langara and hoping to transfer to UBC in the near future and Edwin is still working at Finest at Sea where he is now second in charge and getting paid very well. They are delightful, fun, interesting and independent young adults, and we treasure our time with them.
We arrived in England mid January and decided, as we had use of a car, that we would drive around the countryside and visit as many old friends as possible. Over a ten-day period we put 1000 miles on the car and had a terrific trip. We were exhausted at the end of it, however, we had a ton of fun and enjoyed lots of laughter and reminiscing. The countryside is beautiful with lots of quaint villages heaped in history, there are many terrific gastro pubs (gourmet food) to chose from and it is very green - the rain obviously helps. I must admit however we were not used to all the rubbish/garbage that could be seen all over the place, even way out in the sticks beside the roads (translation middle of nowhere). It was a shame and hopefully will be addressed soon.
Russell and I visited Istanbul in December - what a city, it really does have a lot of charm and we both loved our time there. Can't wait for our next visit. We have planned a trip to Capadoccia with a group of friends in March; which we are really looking forward to. It is an area towards the center of Turkey with volcanic mushroom shaped chimneys and underground cities dating back to the Bronze Age.
We leave our berth at Netsel on the 21st April and then the idea is to head North up the Turkish coast until it is cool enough for us to travel back down to Marmaris via the Greek Islands. If you think you may be in the area, please let us know as we always enjoy visitors and it would not difficult to find us. I apologise for the lack of pictures and will rectify for the next blog. Thanks for reading our blog we enjoy sharing them with you.