Well we're now officially on our way home. We've just left Cold Water Bay in Turkey which is the furthest east we'll be on this whole trip, it's all westwards from this point on.
I don't think I expected Turkey to be just so beautiful. The waters are deep azure blues and turquoises, the steep cliffs and deep gorges are spectacular. We love the deep water close to shore so that we can anchor with a long line ashore which keeps us from swinging on our anchor. Cold Water Bay itself was a very fantastic spot, we anchored opposite the busy part and had the most perfect little bay all to ourselves with high cliffs clear water and a smell of pine trees in the air. We anchored in the middle and you couldn't have fit another boat either side. The peace is only broken by the local boats who keep visiting to try and sell you things (at exorbitant prices) or invite you to their restaurant ashore (often a great experience).
Before Cold Water Bay we stopped for two nights in Fethiye to provision and get some other jobs done. The marina was expensive but we managed to get the password to their wifi without staying. We're getting very good at sourcing free wifi, sometimes though it takes a coffee ashore to get the right password from a cafe then unknowing to them we use our long range aerial on the boat to stay connected from our anchorage (unfortunately we managed to anchor immediately off the local mosque, The haunting call to prayers is blasted over megaphones at high volume all hours of the day, at least you certainly know you're experiencing another culture).
While in Fethiye we also had a Turkish bath, we checked out a very traditional venue in the town but the smell kinda put us off so we opted for the "westernised" version in the Marina resort. It was quite an experience, you lay on a very hot marble plinth and get an extreme exfoliation (after which you can see bits of your skin all over the marble surface), next you get absolutely smothered in soap foam followed by a very slippery but rough massage. We were done by a fairly wirily young woman and it was obviously quite a workout for her as you could hear panting for breath!
Throughout Turkey we keep seeing the most fantastic range of Gullets (local cruise boats that take people on short cruises and sight seeing), I keep forgetting to take a photo but some of them even have water slides from the top deck through the hull and out the side, they look great fun. The gullets captains have the reputation of being quite aggressive over the best spot in an anchorage though (last night one dropped their anchor over ours and then just told me not to worry they'll be going in an hour and we can re-anchor then... friggers!). We do try and avoid them because they charge around at high speed playing loud dance music.
We've about two more weeks in Turkey and now we're going to head in the direction of Bodrum and visit the many small anchorages along the way. The weather is perfect, we've been swimming a bit and the winds are very favourable. Mikes been spending more time behind the wheel and did a fine job berthing us at the last marina.
Mike and I wish a very happy birthday to Emily, Georgia, Anna, Harry and Tina!
After leaving Marmaris marina and completing our long list of jobs, we decided to slow the pace down and start our cruising experience for real. We don't even mind if we're only sailing at 3kns now. We have been enjoying some lovely little anchorages, without wifi connection (I couldn't get my daily news fill) and with fantastic weather.
Our first anchorage was a little bay called, Ekincik, where we successfully tied our new long line from the stern to the trees to stop the boat moving around. It's a very Turkish system but a great idea and easy to achieve when the edge of the water has a 5-10 meter drop. From Ekincik we hired a small put-put boat to take us up the Dalyan River to view the ancient city of Caunos and the Lycian tombs carved into the rock. We even rolled around in some mud and fed crabs to sea turtles.
Next was Wall Bay (thanks Jack for the recommendation) where again we lounged around, had our first swim in the Med, read our books and had long lunches. I think this is more like what the next 18 months will be about rather than the previous month of trying to avoid force 7 winds.
This morning we (I) spent time practicing single-handed sailing and man overboard maneuvers. I think Hugh was impressed though if the fender we used to simulate him were real, he would have concussion at one point.
We're in Fethyie now for provisioning and wifi. Tomorrow we're off to Cold Water Bay, which will be exciting as this is the further point East we will go on this trip (the furthest point away from Sydney). After that it's all one way home.
05/07/2011, Marmaris, Turkey
Summer is finally here!
The weather is warming up (25 degrees today) so it's finally comfortable to be in singlet and shorts! Clear sky and light winds. Haven't been swimming yet but hopefully soon.
We've been in the Netsel marina in Marmaris for the past week, this place is brilliant. Finally we found somewhere we could get all our jobs done and buy a lot of the equipment we couldn't find in Greece. There is not just one good chandlery (shop for boat spares) but a whole district of them! Our bikes have been getting a workout ferrying shopping back and forth from the town and around the marina. For once the list is getting shorter rather than longer. We finally bought ourselves some quality wet weather gear though we don't really mind having no need for it now :) We even bought some big cushions and sun-beds for the deck in anticipation lazy days lying the in sun.
We also bumped into Jess (photo) who did the skipper course with me back in Sydney. Jess is working on a flotilla yacht with a young Skipper called Jack who was here last season. Jack has been a great help with advice around our boat and also we some local knowledge and tips for where we'll be heading next. Jess's boss John too has been a wealth of knowledge and even took us all out for dinner last night to a good local restaurant which was lovely.
Marmaris is a big base for the charter boats and it's really set up well, the marina is expensive though. Mike and I didn't even ask the price (everywhere in Greece was either free or six Euro's per night). Yesterday we went into the office to pay and were a little dismayed to hear that all this connivence was coming at a cost of 76 Euro per night :(
Our plan is to cruise within Turkey between Fethiye and Borum for the next four weeks. Promise to bring out the camera again this week. It's a very different feeling now we're not battling bad weather!!!
I just wanted to say thank you for all my birthday wishes. It's great to hear from you all when on the other side of the world.
Mike and I have had a less than relaxing day and night, we docked in Simi just ahead of yet another force 7 that blew on our beam all night and most of today. We're tied stern to the quay with our anchor out front and basically we couldn't leave the boat for fear of dragging back onto the quay or another boat. I've been fidgeting with lines all day but we're through the worst of it now. Mike's in great form though, as he reminds me there's no point in both of us worrying :)
Tomorrow the wind is set to ease so we'll go ashore and have an explore.
Happy Birthday Hugh (33 on Wednesday) from your family, friends and Mike. We wish you a fantastic year ahead and may all your dreams and wishes come true.
Santorini was a great place to spend Easter weekend. At midnight on Saturday night, we joined the locals in their square to celebrate their traditional Easter blessing and thanksgiving for the end of lent. We were told that during prayers they will light candles and set off fireworks. We were half dosing sitting on a wall waiting for the fireworks when someone hurled a homemade device just past our heads that shook the ground and us with it. It was game on for the next thirty minutes or so with people running for cover as the locals set off what had to be the biggest homemade gunpowder bombs we had ever seen and heard. They were literally the size of footballs and left fire in their trail. As Hugh said, "it's funny to see one side of the small square with the priest trying to say prayers and only ten meters away what looks like hoodlums with no law and order". Yet it was all condoned, cheered and was rather funny. After the fireworks, we went for the traditional feast but unfortunately we failed to finish it. We were going well until we got to the distinctive looking lambs offal soup.
We stayed in Santorini until Monday morning then had a lovely eight hour sail (54nm) to Astipalaia. A quiet little Island on route to Rhodes. What strikes me most about sailing around the Greek islands is the lack of other vessels. Perhaps its the time of year but on that long trip we only passed one ship in the distance. At marina's or anchorages we are generally alone or one of a few boats. It rather pleasant as room is not an issue but surprising nonetheless.
Today, Tuesday, we are motor sailing all the way to Simi, another small island on route to Rhodes. This trip is our longest yet, eleven hours with little wind. It's nice to have calm seas for the first time since we set off from Athens so we can sit out in the cockpit, read our kindles and enjoy the surrounds. We actually transited through Turkish waters for a while.
This is simply stunning, the sun has finally come out, it's warmed up and we're floating in the clear blue water of the Santorini caldera looking up to the white walls and blue roofs of Oia... I need to step back a couple days though because we've travelled quite a bit since we last spoke.
After Paros we headed to Ios which turned out to be a great idea because finally the day of force 7 came and we had superb shelter. The wind howled and howled but we felt very safe because we'd doubled up all our lines again and the port offered complete shelter form the north. Mike is becoming an expert at reading all the weather sites and helping to decide when we'll move or not, certainly Thursday was a day to stay put!
Ios itself wasn't much to see because it's still very much the off season here. You certainly get the impression it's a party island but it was very cold and very few people were around. We did a bit of bike riding but with frequent rain we spent a lot time inside. Fortunately with our super strength WiFi aerial we can always find a connection so even in bad weather we can be productive researching our next legs and buying yet more equipment online.
When the weather cleared somewhat on Friday we set off for Santorini, again it was a rough crossing but what a fantastic experience to enter the famed caldera of Satorini by sea!
Santorini (Thira) is one of the most famous of the Greek islands, you'd recognise it from Greek postcards of the white churches with blue roofs perched along a cliff top. It is what remains after a giant volcanic eruption that has left a huge flooded caldera. We sailed right into the caldera from the north under the small village of Oia with spectacular views from below.
We found a mooring under Oia and used the dinghy to get ashore. We were presented with a staircase that rose for hundreds of meters but the reward at the top of Oia was well worth it. Oia is an amazing place with stunning vistas on almost every turn. It was special as well to be able to sea Whippersnapper floating far below. Oia is famous for the most beautiful sunset in the world and we think they're probably right. It is still early spring here though and once the sun sets it's very cold, around 12 degrees! One minute you're sitting in the sun in a t-shirt the next we looked like we were about to go skiing.
To be honest most of this trip so far has been cold, we've both wardrobes full of singlets and shorts but almost everyday we're in the same long pants and hoodies, Mike is still sleeping in full thermals! Can't wait for the summer heat.
Easter is a big deal in the Greek Orthodox church, tonight there are celebrations in the streets followed by a midnight meal to mark the end of lent. We've a booking at midnight so here's hoping we can stay up that late!
It's force 6 now and forecast to stay like this with some force 7 until Friday.
This strong northerly wind in Greece is called the Meltemi, it is a little early for the summer season and they say it can easily blow for up to a week. We were going to wait out this bad weather in Kythnos but we saw a quick weather window on Sunday and sailed 6 hours towards a bigger island and some better shelter. Now we're holed up in Paros with a few other cruisers to await better weather.
We're feeling very secure with doubled mooring lines front and back but the howling sound of the wind is a little unnerving (for me that is, Mike is totally relaxed). It's fun being with a crowd of other cruisers though, we have a couple Greek yachts, two French yachts , a Belgian yacht and a Czech charter boat.
This one little French yacht is tucked in next to us and it must be no more than half our size, the top of it's cabin is no higher that our deck! The young couple on board have been sailing in the Med for a year already and plan another 8 months. Mike and I feel like we're lauding in a castle next to them so we plan to extend some hospitality today, hopefully a game of cards.
Late last night the Czech charter boat came in, we've all heard stories about the follies of inexperienced skippers and crew but I'd be surprised if in the remaining duration of our trip we see such a near disaster as this.
It was dark and still very windy, Mike and I saw the this 45 footer motoring close to the pier so we went along to help with lines. They were attempting the shallow end of the pier close to a corner. Normally the operation would have them reverse slowing into the dock, fix stern lines and then quickly run the lazy anchor lines forward to secure the bow. To make it easy for them I was on the bow of the windward yacht (already moored) with the lazy line in hand to pass to their bow-man. They came in normally, using the bow thruster to keep the nose into the wind then as they got closer to the dock they appeared simply to let go of the controls. The bow quickly veered downwind and the stern then slammed into the boat I was standing on. The only thing that then stopped them smashing their bow on the stone pier was that they then ran aground! By this time is was apparent none of the crew spoke english or knew what they were doing. Somehow we were able to straighten them up and as none of the crew seamed in the slightest bit interested in taking the anchor line I boarded them and run it up front. By this time there was a fair crowd and one man who was able to get a few words to them. Mike and I watched in horror as the charter skipper then decided to winch his yacht to windward from the yacht he'd just hit. The forces on this much smaller boat must have been immense but to our surprise it worked with no further damage and they were floating again. Being unable to communicate with them we left the circus very glad they were not going to be our neighbour on the pier!
04/16/2011, Kythnos Island
And we're off - Greek Island hopping on route to Turkey
The first week was great to get to know our new home (and wow how quickly we made Whippersnapper our home). I don't think there is a millimeter of space left where Hugh hasn't stuck his head or examined what's what. He is in his element with his toolbox in hand fixing things up the way we want them. A lot of our prior research and online purchases turned out to be great and although the list of modifications is still growing we're feeling well set up.
As the second week started we were itching to go sailing to test out Whippersnapper but were told that we couldn't leave the marina until we had hardcopies of our Australian registration papers. Way too many rules for two young guys on holiday wanting to go sailing so we christened Whippersnapper early on Tuesday morning, dodged the Port Police and snuck out of the marina for our shake down cruise.
With blue sky and a steady 12 knots of wind we had a perfect day of sailing. We took out all the sails, including our new special furling gennaker and found Whippersnapper has a fair turn of speed. Then we laid back and enjoyed the day (check out the pictures to see how the modern day skipper sails!) Life couldn't be better until we got a 42kn force 8 wind on anchor that night, just a little reminder for us about the serious side too. We slept with the iPad for two nights with its anchor alarm on to alert us if we were dragging. Who said the Med doesn't get bad seas, oh yes Hugh when trying to persuade me to go â˜º
Friday we were back in Athens to get our final papers, provision the boat and say our goodbyes to Panos and the team. Panos has been brilliant helping us through the minefield of Greek bureaucracy and the team at Vernicos Yachts fantastic in helping us prepare the yacht.
Friday 5pm we left Athens heading for a port called Sounion, a handy 3.5hr journey. Hugh and I smiled at each other, as we knew it felt different now, this is really the start for us. We set anchor just under the Temple of Poseideon (built around 444bc), which was lit at night, a great way to fall asleep looking out of the cabin porthole at a wonderful site.
Today (Saturday) we have arrived at a beautiful little island called Kythnos. We were lured here by the 54degree hot springs and to escape the upcoming force 7 weather. The springs are closed but the island is not disappointing. The strong winds are forecast to continue so we may be here for a few days.
Well we're still here, no movement, haven't even left the dock.
We did receive the required Greek paperwork but only by 4pm Friday Sydney time so our hope is to receive our rego from Australian on Monday now.
It's not all bad actually because we've been kept quite busy so far with many jobs. I think even if we could go for a sail we'd be delayed try to get various works done. It's a little bit like "how long is a piece of string", you start one job and another becomes apparent before you finish the first. We are trying to get as much done here as possible.
The Greek workers are also a little amusing, they all seem to have very long and heated discussions about the best way to achieve something without actually spending much time achieving it. Mike and I spend some time bemused while they shout at each other about what is required worried inside that something is about to cost us $1000 when someone will finally turn to us and translate "it's going to be very expensive... we think almost as much as $40."
That said though we had 3 guys from Raymarine (navigation systems) on the boat for 9 hours and they're coming back again today! Our radar is not woking and we are worried because if it is the actual unit it will be expensive but so far we're still hoping it's a connection problem.
The photo above is typically what our boat looks like now, we had it all nice and organised but now it seams we've pulled apart just about all of it.
We're also suffering withdrawals from superstores like Bunnings and Whittworths. All the stores here in Athens are very small and poorly stocked. We're constantly thinking oh we need a such and such which we know would be very easy in Sydney but it's near impossible to find anything useful here.
I'm making it sound frustrating but don't feel too sorry for us, we're having an absolute ball :)
Oh and Phillip we installed the BBQ yesterday and the mount is perfect thank you!
04/05/2011, Alimos Marina, Athens
Well we're here in Athens, we arrived Friday lunch time and after dropping 92kg of luggage into our hotel went straight to meet with the broker, Panos. Our yacht was stored on the hard (out of the water on land). It was fantastic to finally see it in person and know that it is what we paid for (despite being covered in dust)!
Conveniently we'd ordered some folding bikes online and over the weekend they've been great. It took some time getting used to the "Urban Lite", not quite the high performance kit I'm used to which led me to rename them "Urban Shite" but they've since been forgiven. We've been riding around loads, to and from the hotel, supermarkets, restaurants, the brokers office and the yacht. On Saturday we rode into Piraeus and along the coast which was great. Every few hundred meters there would be another marina full of huge yachts and interesting things to look at.
Monday the boat was launched into the water, it was a bit tense watching our boat swinging around like a toy but we were grinning from ear to ear.
Now we're happily afloat in the marina, the boat is all cleaned up and absolutely brilliant. Last night was our first sleep aboard and despite it being very cold we were thrilled. The boat is in almost perfect condition. We're most impressed with the interior right now (to cold to be on deck), it has very cool lighting and is quite luxurious. There are a multitude of systems onboard, it's quite daunting at times but we'll be on top of it all soon enough. Amazing to think this is going to be home for the next 20 months.
Despite all this excitement there is some bad news... we can't leave the marina, not even for a quick sail! Although we're busy not being able to use the boat is like torture. Basically we're waiting for a document confirming our yacht has been deleted from the Greek shipping register, without this we can't get our Australian registration and without our Australian registration we can't get a Greek transit log, no Greek transit log means no sailing. We're hoping to have the deletion document by the end of this week but who knows, as Panos said... welcome to Greece.
It's amazing how a few simple words can change your life as they did for us on the 28th April 2010 at 1.14pm, when Hugh had the foresight to send an email with the subject Long term goal 3-7 years asking:
Think I'd like to take a year off and sail around the world, will you come with me?
Eleven months later we are only a week out from starting our adventure. I'd be lying if I didn't say we're a little excited. Planning for the trip has been great fun. We exhausted multiple spreadsheets, budgets and on/off moments until we knew around Christmas that the financials might actually work.
While the adventure will be priceless, for fun or for the challenge, we plan to do the trip cost neutral. Ask us in two years if that transpired.
We have been busy doing courses, selling belongings and buying equipment with parcels arriving both in Athens and Potts Point every other day. Items include folding bikes, remote controlled autopilot (uninterrupted sun baking on the foredeck while boats pass by) and even a washing machine.
Why wait 3-7 years when we can have much more fun now. Goodbye friends, family and Australia - we will miss you.
After looking at what feels like hundreds of yachts online and some examples here in Sydney over the last six months... we've done it.
Meet "Alithia" a 2009 Beneteau Oceanis 46!
Click on the link to our gallery to see some photos in the album "Alithia".
The contracts are exchanged, a deposit paid and a settlement date estimated to be mid March.
We had a fairly good idea of what we wanted and when we came across this yacht online it seamed too good to be true, all the ducks aligned. We'd found a very young boat with loads of kit and an owner willing to negotiate. Our currency was strong and the timing perfect.
We had it surveyed more just because we couldn't be there in person but the results show it's in excellent condition - understandably as it's less than two years old.
We choose an Oceanis 46 because it is a very popular boat and established cruiser, we'll have loads of room onboard and it should be a very comfortable passage-maker.
We plan to rename Alithia, Whippersnapper.
Now the fun task of the fit out begins. Alithia already has a great inventory including some big ticket items like, teak decks, a diesel generator and air-con. We plan to add a few extras including a water-maker, an SSB radio, sat phone, more sails, and numerous bits of safety equipment. We've spreadsheets of all the extra equipment we'll need and I'm having a field day finding all the best prices online.
Well it's really going to happen! After months and months of research, numerous courses, and long distance negotiations we've bought a yacht in Athens and we are planning to fly out early April.
The full plan in case we haven't told you already...
Starting in the Eastern Med we're going to sail all the way home to Sydney in a continuous westerly direction (the trade routes), it will take us approximately 20 months all up. It's a little like a circumnavigation without the Indian Ocean.
It's going to be a huge adventure and a massive lifestyle change, we can't wait.
The basic itinerary (almost certain to change) is;
April 2011 Greece > Turkey
May 2011 Turkey
June 2011 Turkey > Greece > Croatia
July 2011 Croatia
August 2011 Italy > Sardinia, Corsica
September 2011 Balearic Islands (Spain)
October 2011 Costa del Sol (Spain) > Gibraltar,
November 2011 Canary Islands > Atlantic Crossing
December 2011 Atlantic Crossing > St Lucia
January 2012 Caribbean Windward Islands
February 2012 Caribbean Leeward Islands
March 2012 Caribbean Sea, Columbia, Panama
April 2012 Panama Canal transit > Galapagos Islands
May 2012 Pacific Crossing
June 2012 French Polynesia
July 2012 Society Islands > Tahiti
August 2012 Cook Islands > Tonga
September 2012 Fiji > Vanuatu
October 2012 New Caledonia
November 2012 Sydney
For the Atlantic crossing we'll be taking part in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which is organised by the World Cruising Club (http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/).
We hope to make this blog a place where you can come to catch up on our adventures and check out some photos. There will also be maps on which you can follow our progress.
Below are two blogs of yachts who have just completed a similar journey. We've been emailing the crew of both for some time now. Brad and Kat on Ghost and the Dransfield family on Nika have all helped enormously in the inspiration and planning of our trip.