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Azure II
Family Cruising
Ephesus
08/09/2011

We journeyed to Ephesus - touted to be the best preserved Roman ruins in the eastern Med, home to the Artemis temple - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Driving over the hot, steep hills w/ Uncle Gary and Jessica, the mini van overheated - but we made it and spent two days near the town. What's left of the 2000 year old city was incredible and imagining life back then made us appreciate ours even more - e.g. take the toilets. We miss flush toilets on the boat, but they didn't care in the ancient days. In fact still preserved at Ephesus, are a long row of marble seats that were the social center for the men. The slaves got to be seat warmers so the guys didn't get cold when doing their business and fraternizing. Those were the days.

Even though Leo has made it clear that he as seen enough old rocks and famous places, he managed to entertain himself climbing around and finding secret caves and entrances. RJ, our resident expert on ancient history, admired the sites but found those at Pompeii more impressive. I was thankful we had an excellent guide to shuttle us around and provide informative descriptions of the various ruins. Currently we're back in Marmaris, enjoying being tourists at Uncle Gary's hotel. We'll be packing up the boat and in two days we all fly to Istanbul - the last stop for the boys and I before returning home!

Zip-line mishap in Turkey
08/03/2011

I suppose it was inevitable. Visiting a hospital in a foreign country. Given that we have a frequent visitor card at the Alameda Hospital emergency room, it was just a matter of time. Our extensive experience in setting up ziplines went awry. Bummerville it had to happen above jagged rocks - the kind of rocks that you can barely touch they are so sharp. But, they have set these up often and then Leo dared to go and it was fine. I was relieved and Uncle Gary was impressed. RJ was next and jumped off. He was starting to zip toward the water, but before he got close the thin line used to pull back the zipline got tangled in the jagged rocks making for a forced stop. Slow motion. RJ falling like a skydiver, arms outstretched, directly onto the evil rocks. He bounced and then lay there. I dove in the water to get over to him. RJ said some bad words - yay - he was talking! The gullet boat next to us came w/ a dinghy. They had two doctors on board. Gingerly we loaded RJ into the dinghy and went to their boat. They examined him and pressed around to check for internal injuries or broken bones. RJ was unable to stand and had scrapes all over and a big gash on his leg. We needed to get to a hospital. We could take an ambulance which would take about 1 1/2 hours or our boat which would take four hours. It didn't appear that there were internal injuries, maybe broken bones, so we took the latter route. We motored Azure II to the anchorage, loaded RJ in the dinghy, carried him to a taxi and then off to the hospital.

We could go to the "English" hospital or the public hospital. The taxi driver recommended the public hospital, more doctors, less money. I went back and forth and decided I would start w/ the public hospital and if it seemed like we would wait forever or it was unacceptable for any reason, I would go the the small tourist hospital. (We have catastrophic insurance - I was hopeful that we wouldn't be using it.) Maramis Hospital looked like it was built in the 60's and not updated since. There was no fancy entrance, not really even a waiting room, just a few semi injured Turkish people standing around a hallway and desk. There was no fluency in English, but a few people could get by and all were kind. We were seen w/in 10 minutes, x-rays taken and analyzed by the orthopedic w/ in 30 minutes . They said no broken bones, wrote a prescription (they couldn't explain in English what it was, but I suppose pain meds), and sent us on our way after paying 160 Turkish Lire (about $100.) It was now 9:00 pm at night - it was a long day. I had the x-rays and used the VHF radio to catch our ride back to the boat. We decided to wait until morning and see how everything was before possibly going to another doctor. It's been four days now. RJ can finally put weight on his most injured leg and his scrapes are healing as well. I couldn't write this until I knew he was getting better. Whew - we were soo lucky.

Marmaris, Turkey
07/27/2011

We're hanging out in the tourist town of Marmaris, Turkey. The bay is huge and gorgeous and half of it is extremely developed w/ hotels. Fortunately, one can get away from the concrete jungle by going to the east end, next to the marina. We've alternated b/w marina living (pool, restaurant, market) and anchoring. One day we even anchored in front of the hotel strip, swam to shore and joined the mostly British tourists at the beach front water park. We had a blast, but we were happy to scoot back to our peaceful spot. Today we're docked at the marina which is massive and completely full w/ close to 1000 boats, but not that many people. It seems many sailors leave their boats here for July and August and go home to escape the heat. Proving that spontaneity is alive and well, last week Uncle Gary (Rodney's brother) decided that it's a splendid time to join us and he arrives tonight. And as the kids say, something exciting always happens when Uncle Gary comes to visit....what will it be this time?

Gocek/Fethiye Turkey
07/18/2011

Greetings from Turkey!
In the 1923 Greek/Turkish resettlement the islands were handed to Greece. But the Turks have the amazing coastline - the cote d' azur of the Aegean. We've been sailing around for a couple of weeks and have visited the towns of Gocek and Fethiye and the gorgeous bays in between. This area of Turkey has quite a different feeling than Greece. There are green hills w/ pine trees that go down to the water. Everywhere we go, there are large wooden sailboats called gullets for vacationers to spend a few days discovering the coast. The numerous amazing bays make for popular charter territory and 'tis the season so lots of boats around. Curiously, it seems every other boat has an American flag - registered in Delaware w/ no Americans aboard. Strolling and swimming you'll see ancient ruins , mostly unprotected, and a bit more sea life than Greece, but still not much. Turkey is a Muslim country and the call to prayer through loudspeakers that occurs every five hours in the towns is somewhat startling - sounds like a mix of groaning/singing, but we haven't heard it in the small bays. And someone turned on the heat switch- they said it would be hot in Turkey and they were right - it's crazy hot! Our thermostat got up to 121 degrees! Definitely we need to be by the water to jump in and cool off.

In the beautiful bays there are no stores or shops. Occasionally however, there are waterfront restaurants w/ a small dock. You can moor for free if you dine. We've been to a couple of these slow food eateries and they have been fabulous - not inexpensive, but locally grown and organic - village style. They also make fresh bread available in the mornings - delicious. Most of the time we've been med mooring and not going to a "dock." While Rodney and RJ work the anchor, Leo and I have been swimming to tie stern lines to rocks or trees (turkish med moor)- the splash to shore hasn't bothered me at all b/c it is so hot!

Turkey is wonderful place to enjoy the remainder of the family time we have left on the boat. We'll be here until the boys and I return home in mid August as it's time to reenter school! Meanwhile, Rodney and crew will set sail to the Canary Islands returning home in Oct. We'll leave the boat in the Canaries for two months, which is the last stop before crossing the Atlantic to sell the boat in the Caribbean (Rodney and crew return in Dec for that passage.) Wild to think about our trip winding down....but back to the present - it's Rodney's birthday today!!

Photos Here

Here's RJ's latest video featuring homemade ziplines and jumping out of tall trees.

Simi - The town
07/11/2011

Our last Greek Island? Simi was a safe place to sit out the big wind, although we didn't sleep well for two days as we had 40 knot gusts whipping through the rigging. One of the nearby boats drug anchor and washed up on the beach - but was able to get pulled off w/out serious damage. Eventually, when the winds subsided, we cruised from the missionary bay to the town. The houses by the town of Simi looked like little Parthenons in ice cream flavor colors. This was one of those med moor to the quay towns which I find to be fun, but it comes w/ all the potential anchoring challenges like crossed and tangled anchors. As it turned out we were moored b/w two other catamarans, one from Belize (Mojito) and one from New Zealand (Solmaria) - both w/ teenagers aboard! We all hung out for the night and had a grand time - kids on one boat, adults on another. It seems all the kid boats we meet are going in different directions, but it's great to connect and share experiences even for a few hours. Nearby was an amazingly clear water anchorage and adding to the international flavor of the island, we met folks from Romania on Rosa. They had two kids similar ages and were on a fabulous mega sailboat. The boys got treated to jet ski rides, tubing, fancy snacks and now can find Romania on a map. Looking out, I can see Turkey from my window- that's next!
Photos here

Simi - The Monestary
RJ
07/05/2011

RJ reports on Simi Monastery:
One of the most interesting rituals we have experienced on our trip is the act of making an offering. Many people travel to various Greek Orthodox monasteries to give these offerings and hope for their prayers to be answered, just like in Ancient Greek times.

We first experienced this act while touring a large monastery in Simi, Greece. Eventually we made our way to the chapel part of the building and saw a small room decorated with extremely detailed woodwork and about 6 or 7 paintings protected by glass. People would come in to this room and cross themselves multiple times before kissing one of the paintings and sometimes leaving a small offering. Most of these people went to the largest painting of Saint Michael, the patron saint of Simi Island and of this monastery. It was 7 feet tall. The most popular offerings were gold chains, crosses, or very thin plates of various metals with a boy, girl, or a body part someone wanted healed stamped on it. We even saw one lady set down a model sailboat in front of the large painting, as St. Michal was the saint of sailors. Before placing any of these offerings, however, they must be checked and approved by one of the two men overseeing the room.

Another part of the monastery was a museum, which held some of the best offerings. Entering the museum, you see a roped off area holding all the model sailboats, about 50 total, that were ever offered at this particular monastery. These ranged from old sloops to modern sailboats. The next rooms held an extreme variety of objects, such as 4 elephant tusks carved with scenes of the lives of African people, and ornate swords with golden thread inlayed in the scabbards. There were also many modern offerings, such as trophies ranging from soccer awards to sailing races and even a trophy for bodybuilding. While we have witnessed many odd rituals, the act of offering is definitely one of the strangest we have experienced.


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