03/09/2012, New Zealand
We are currently at anchor with our friends on their boat Idyll Island a Voyage 440 Catamran, up in the Bay of Islands, one of our favorite areas in New Zealand. Cathy and Derek are Canadians who we met in the Caribbean; when we headed east they went west so it has been a while since we were last together . We are with them for a weeks sailing and have had either no wind or way too much, 40 knots due again tonight with more rain. The first few days however the weather was kind to us, which was lucky as we were guests at a wedding in Russell the third day on board. We had a magical day that went on late into the evening and felt honored to be two of the thirty guests, having not seen the wedding couple for three years. Since then we have enjoyed sharing stories of life afloat, reliving memories of times together in the Caribbean and generally slowing down.
Before we left Australia we spent some time down in Coffs Harbour and also visited family and friends in Brisbane, NSW and Melbourne. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and although the weather most of our trip was unseasonably wet, we had some fine days and a lot of fun.
When we were at Coffs Harbour we stayed at a family resort for a week and looked after our great niece and nephew for a while as our niece was moving. It was terrific to have prime time with them and they were both a delight. Our niece, and also sister-in-law and husband, also joined us the last few days so a great time was had by all. From there we went back to Coomera via our niece's new home which is just perfect for two young kids, especially having a pool which we all enjoyed. The national parks around Queensland and New South Wales are fantastic, I so love the tropical forests and we think the names like Ugly Gully, Rotten Gully, Undone Creek and Russell's favorite Bold Knob were great!! Fair dinkum as the Ozzies would say.
We spent a few days in Brisbane with old friends and had a wonderful time taking in the terrific galleries and checking out down town. The river is a very focal part of the town and we love the way that they have walk ways and bridges so that everyone can walk and bike to work. While we were in Australia there was a lot of flooding, but luckily Brisbane did not suffer like a few years ago.
Before we left we went to visit our cousin John and his wife Kate down in Melbourne. John was a supreme court judge in Hong Kong and has just retired. They bought a 10 acre property south of Melbourne, on Mornington Peninsular, which they have extensively remodelled - it is gorgeous. There are a lot wineries in the area and they have a vineyard, an olive grove, a huge 40 year old orchard, plus a larg shed, etc.. to enjoy. We loved the area and even got to play golf on one of the 14 courses on the pensinular. Melbourne has changed a lot since I lived there at age 20, but it still has held its charm and they have retained a lot of the old buildings and facades amongst the skyscrapers. It has more culture then any other Australian city and I can understand why John and Kate have made it their home.
Next we flew to Christchurch in New Zealand and headed down to Timaru where Russell grew up and where his mum still lives. We stayed with Grant and Mary (Russell was their best man about 35 years ago) and I have been adopted into Mary's girls group so it was great to have some "girl" time. With the guys they are a fun crowd and we managed to have some excellent evenings together before heading down to Wanaka and Queenstown on a road trip with Russell's Mum Gypsy. The south island of New Zealand is spectacular, especially the lakes which are the most amazing turquiouse. The area is vast and as there are so few people it is uncrowded and very peaceful. The pictures in our gallery do not do it justice, but we hope that they will give you an idea of how beautiful New Zealand is. We are also amazed at how much wild life there is here, sadly though one sees a lot of road kill. We had a fantastic trip, Gypsy was a delight and managed really well having broken her neck a year ago. Special memories which we will treasure.
Russell caught up with a group of his old friends in Christchurch before we left for Auckland, it was a fun night. Sadly Christchurch is much worse from the earthquakes they have had then we realised. The main town centre is blocked off about six blocks each way and they are having to pull down everything - it looks like a war zone. While we were there we heard that the cathedral is also having to come down, it was the heart of the city. No construction is going to start until the earthquakes stop, there were about 8 quakes over 4.0 mg in February, so everyone is in limbo. Brick buildings have suffered the worst, two of Timaru's finest churches have been condemmed and it is about 100 miles south of Christchurch!! It is so sad.
There is nothing like being in New Zealand though, even when it is wet and windy. The people are so friendly, easy going, and have the most amazing sense of humour. We love the antipodeans and feel fortunate to have so many friends and family here. Where else would you find a stream called "Hungry Creek"? Hope this finds you all happy and healthy. Enjoy the photos.
01/24/2012, Coomera, Australia
Oops looks like it has been a VERY long time since I last wrote our blog.
We are currently in Coomera, about an hour south of Brisbane, staying with Russell's older sister Yoga and her hubby Boop. Edwin called him Boop when he first met him at 18 months of age and the name stuck :) Sadly the weather has been very wet, so we are turning into prunes rather than the healthy tanned nomads we had been hoping for. Still life is beautiful here and we are enjoying spending time with family.
December seems a long time ago and came way too quickly. We managed to get Ta-b onto the hard and tucked up for the winter, at the same time enjoying Marmaris; while seeing old and making new friends. It has become a special place for us, in a way a home away from home and we look forward to our return. Sadly we have just found out that Turkey are going ahead with their new Visa rules; which they have managed to avoid up until now. It means that we will not be able to spend as much time in Turkey because from 2 February we will only be allowed into the country for 90 days out of 180 unless we become residents. Will make for some fine tuning on our sailing plans.
Leaving sunny Marmaris mid December we went to Istanbul for a couple of days and then onto England for a long weekend to catch up with family. Not long enough, but we wanted to get to Vancouver to see the kids for a bit before Xmas and I am going back for a couple of weeks on my way back to Marmaris.
We house sat again for our friend Ken, whilst in Vancouver, which worked very well for all of us. It was lovely to be back in our old neighbourhood, I kept bumping into people I knew and it was an easy walk to socialise of an evening with old friends. It was a busy time, out every night and catching up with the kids as much as we could, fitting in as many appointments as we could during the day and of course Otis the dog to walk twice a day. A week up at Whistler with the kids coming and going with friends after New Year was also a lot of fun.
Then it was off to Auckland. We caught the Wednesday direct flight which is 14 hours, but so much better than having stop offs all over the place. We had a long weekend layover with Russell's younger sister Jillie (left on Wednesday, but with time change do not arrive until Friday - not sure where Thursday went) and managed to do a lot in a very short period of time. New Zealand and Auckland are two of my favorite places and they did not dissappoint.
Finally we arrived in good old Oz - yet again another place dear to my heart. Having family here certainly makes a difference, but I love the vastness of the place and the tropical rainforests just minutes from where we are staying in Coomera up in the hinterlands and nearby national parks are magic. The wild life is amazing too and the birds on the feeder are so brightly coloured I could watch them for hours. However, I am not used to the rain - every time I have been here before it has been warm and sunny. I suppose they have to get the lushness from somewhere, but it is a tad early this year - not in our plans!!
We are due to go down to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales for next week, just hope the weather gets better as we are taking our great niece and nephew with us. So keep your fingers crossed for us and hopefully I will be able to add some more "sunny" pictures to the blog next month. In the meantime, take care everyone, have fun - love J&R
11/09/2011, Marmaris, Turkey
Summer has not ended after all - phew! I have been waiting for a cloudy or rainy day to update our blog, but the forecast is for warm and sunny days for the next week, so I can linger no longer.
We survived the last Meltimi; which lasted three days and were thrilled when Russell's sister and hubby (Yoga and Boop - great names eh) eventually arrived on board. They have been couch surfing around Europe for the summer and had some fantastic stories and photos to share about their adventures with us.
A wonderful way to meet the locals and experience the community first hand, they stayed with some amazing people. Sadly the day after they arrived Yoga had a nasty fall on the dock and had to go to hospital, she ended up having stitches on her shin and had to keep her leg up for at least a week.
After a second visit to the hospital, and an all clear for Yoga, we left to go south, putting a rain check on touring around Ephesus as Yoga was told to not walk for two weeks. The weather luckily improved, but sadly we had no wind at all and ended up motoring for the ten days we were away - not cheap, but it was worth every penny as the Lycian Coast is gorgeous. We spent most of our time exploring Skopea Limani and Fethiye and came back via the Dalyan River area.
The numerous bays are generally uninhabited, although some are home to the occasional small restaurant. We visited Tomb Bay; which takes its name from the ancient rock tombs embedded in the hillsides surrounding the bay and then went onto Gocek before heading to Fethiye. Fethiye is delightful with a very low-key bazaar; which we thoroughly enjoyed - one could have spent a fortune easily on some of the beautiful plates, rugs, jewelry and handicrafts. We also loved the fish and vegetable market and had a wonderful evening there at a family restaurant celebrating Yoga's birthday. Here you can buy fish directly from the man who caught it, and then you take it to one of the market restaurants that cook it for you adding salad and garlic bread for 6 TL. Our restaurant helped us chose prawns for a starter and then two big bass to share, all the time making sure we got a cut price and he only charged us 5TL each plus a bottle (or was it two?) of cheap local wine and we were set - yummy.
We then went to Ruin Bay; which is named after the semi-submerged ruined buildings that line the shore and are reputed to be the remains of one of Cleopatra's bathing houses. We had a beautiful walk ashore, by now Yoga was up and about and we just loved the place. Then it was onto Tersane Adasi; which also has ruins ashore (which bay doesn't around the area) these ones possibly of an ancient shipyard. We thought it amusing that they use these old ruins for chicken coups and storage, recycling is good I suppose.
We headed back to Fethiye to see the BIG game. We had been following the world Rugby and had to watch the final between the All Blacks and the French. Our friends on Midi met up with us there and after a night of catching up on board Ta-b we all went ashore the next morning to a bar that we knew was showing the match. There were quite a few people there and what a game, nail biting, I could hardly breath in the second half. Tad close, the French played really well, but the All Blacks defended extremely well and won 8-7 and we left the harbour playing the Harka full belt. Must admit we had been playing it a lot, but this time it was extra special.
We had an agenda, hell we hate them, but we wanted to tour the Dalyan River on our way back to Marmaris and there was a plane to catch. Did what we never do and ended up anchoring in the dark, not many places to go between Fethiye and Ekincik, but we were fine as there was no wind and we picked a good spot. Next day we were up early to get to Ekincik and our tour boat; which was picking us up in the morning.
What an awesome trip we had. We had a boat to ourselves with a lovely driver who was the typical charming Turk and as always ready to please. The estuary used to be a huge bay and is now a maze of rivers between reeds, very peaceful with magnificent views. We stopped off at the ancient ruins of Kaunos (yes more ruins) that are stunning and hardly visited, before heading up river to the little town of Dalyan where we had lunch on the river overlooking the major tombs. These big tombs for the kings took 300 men 8 years to build and are pretty impressive carved into the cliffs. On our way back we stopped at one of the crab boats where they proceeded to lure huge endangered Loggerhead Turtles to the surface - stunning. This area is a treasure kept unspoilt because of these amazing creatures, we just loved it.
Back to Marmaris we said a sad goodbye to Yoga and Boop, thankfully we are seeing them again in January. It was wonderful to have them on board and now it is just a matter of when they will visit us again, would be fun to share the Caribbean in a few years.
So back to reality and getting the boat up to snuff. We headed into the Marina and started on the "to do" list tempting as it was to keep cruising, but the nights are getting cooler and we are ready to stay put for a while. This year we are at Yat Marin which is outside of town, we need to put the old girl on the hard so we can do some work that we can't do in the water, which we were unable to do at Netsel. It is not far into town and if we do not take our tender there is a regular bus (Dolmus they call them here). The community is quite lively and there seems to be something happening every night including happy hour from 6 to 7.30 pm each evening!! We lift on the 21st November and leave on the 8th December (yes we live on the boat high up there on the hard) back to Vancouver for Xmas/New Year before going down under to visit family and friends who we have not seen for a while.
I have added a few photos that I missed out last blog and would like to thank Yoga and Boop for some of theirs; which I have included. They took nearly 1000 when they were with us - yikes - I must start taking more. Enjoy and hope to see you soon.
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.