Blog Number Two: The Preparation Propagation
20 October 2021 | Peninsula Yacht Marina
Alison Gabel | Weather Today: Really nice!
We're six weeks from our proposed departure date, and deep in the throes of getting it all ready. The British 80's band The Fixx nailed it in their song "One Thing Leads to Another" ... and another, and another, until the one thing you thought you were trying to get done has propagated into at least 3 other tangent issues, and by the way, you're never trying to get just one thing done, so 6 things lead to 18 other things and pretty soon you're wondering if you'll ever leave town.
But, we've done this once before, and we did leave town, so I'm sure we will this time, too. But it is a bit like swimming in sludge. All that said, we're still happy knowing WHY we're swimming in sludge - and when we have time to stop and realize it, we're pretty excited.
Of late, our issues have included discovering (as SO many other sailors have recently discovered) that our insurance isn't going to cover us for the adventure we plan to have. The marine insurance industry these days is totally insane. Lost its' mind. Gone bonkers, and now, we're making calls. Lots of them, to people who are either trained to frustrate the crap out of you, or simply don't return your call. We're also busy with funner things like finalizing the last details of settling my mom's trust, continuing our tug-of-war with Merrill (Lynch must have retired) for some money of my mom's they don't want us to have, selling our 50hp Honda outboard and getting my little turquoise runabout ready to go into deep storage for a few years, finishing the new sail installation, ordering and installing safety equipment, and most importantly, trying to stuff all the myriad things we think we need into small holes on the boat. And that's just a mini-list.
We did manage to sneak off for 5 days to attend the Annapolis Boat Show last weekend, wow, that was a great idea! We had a wonderful time and besides getting to see some dear friends and buying lots of little needies for the boat, we discovered this important fact: this Seawind 1160 is pretty cool! She's lacking in storage space, I must say, but we can overcome that. What she does boast is a beautiful main salon (living room) with a huge settee (couch) and a unique swiveling dinette (table) all of which opens to a spacious cockpit (back deck) with wonderful views. Her galley (kitchen) is larger than most of the galleys on boats 10-15' larger, and her cabins (bedrooms) are equally comparable. In exchange for the limitation of storage space, we gain maneuverability, single-hand capabilities (one or the other of us can sail this cutie all by ourselves if need be) and an overall lower profile out there in the wilds. So we're happy. We do have boat envy when we clamber around on the 50' yachts, but we have to remember: those show boats, with the 3 perfect throw pillows and the single flower arrangement on the table are lacking real life: no backpacks, computers, note pads, pencils, headsets, or dishes litter the space, no clothes crammed in the 2' of closet space, no shoes ... (oh, the shoes!) strewn about, and no hanging mesh baskets of produce swinging from that weird spot in the galley. So when you factor all that stuff back in, the big boats win on the closet space, the shoe storage, and maybe a much bigger forward deck (a blank white canvas for birds to poop on) but we're pretty comfy on this boat.
Today I'm going to send our old mainsail to a company called Sail Bags that will turn it into just that: bags made from sails. I like it when things don't get wasted. I'm also going to start the process of figuring out how to secure our folding bikes when underway, and Allan and I are going to cut a big hole in the installed-but-not-used gray water tank under the galley floor, so we can gain a lot more sneaky storage space.
We're ordering stuff like mad and shipping it to our mail handlers, Allan's brother Mark and his wife Pam, who, according to a recent text from Mark, are only charging us a 35% handling fee for the service. (That was a joke, I think, I'll straighten that out with Mark this afternoon when I see him ...) (I'm pretty sure I can buy him off with some candy corn.)
Okay, so that's just a tiny bite of the meal we've ordered, but it's all good. We're retired! There really is no rush. We don't HAVE to leave on December 1st. At the latest, we can leave on the 3rd, so phew, no worries.
We're Back! Welcome to Fly Aweigh II.
02 October 2021 | Channel Islands Harbor
Alison Gabel | Fabulous
Today is a big day. Big, scary, exciting, sad, happy, questionable, fluid, solid. Today (September 30, 2021) marks the official start of a new phase in our lives. Today we moved out of our home and onto our boat, a 2008 Seawind 1160. In December, weather and Covid permitting, we set sail again to explore new territory and revisit old favorite places. And while things are going just as we'd planned, I have to admit, it's weird.
It's weird to think that we've sold the house in which we lived for 19 years and moved onto a floating tiny home. Weird that we're leaving the neighborhood we've come to love, saying goodbye to old neighbors and some great new ones, and lots of dear friends. Weird to think we'll no longer sit in our comfy Harry Potter Chairs by the fireplace, rehashing the day and making plans for the next, or sit on our deck at sunset and watch the great blue herons fish. No more washer and dryer conveniently located steps away in the garage. And no more big fridge - our tiny boat fridge will not accommodate my giant pot of soup, from which we nosh for a week. I need to reestablish my galley-savvy and think small. No more easy grocery storage in the pantry and the overflow shelves in the garage - it's back to removing all cardboard packaging and re-labeling food stores with one of the most important tools in life, on land or sea - the Sharpie pen, then stow the food in strange and hard-to-reach places. And mostly it's weird to think that at 63, I'm actually choosing a difficult life over the cushy sweetness that was our home.
But like so many people these days who are opting for small-space lives, whether it be a tiny home, a motor home, or a boat - we're trading convenience, routine and comfort for new adventures, and that's exactly what we're looking forward to. Unlike the last time we went cruising in 2009, when we escaped for only 2 years and ended up in Australia, we have unlimited time before us to explore as much or as little of the world as we want, and can return when we want. Not having ties is a heady feeling, and one we're grateful to experience.
A bit about the boat: s/v Fly Aweigh II was built in Australia. She's 38 feet long plus an extra 3 on the stern hulls, a modification made by the first owner, which gives us great swim steps on either side and adds a bit of length (= speed) to the waterline. So, really, she's 41' long, over 21' wide, with a small-condo feel. She has 3 sleeping cabins, but is a bit lacking in storage, so one of them will be conscripted for that job. She's very energy independent, with 945 watts of solar supplying the lithium battery bank with 800 amp hours of juice. This means we can have an electric dive compressor to fill our scuba tanks wherever we want, and we rarely need to plug in to shore power. She has a small water maker, and we'll see in the next few months if that needs to be upgraded. She's equipped with a reverse-cycle air conditioner/heater, which we've tested and find adequate to take the edge off of cold or hot weather, but we might add a diesel heater if we take her to higher latitudes.
We're splurging on new sails from our sailmaker friend Jamie Gifford on s/v Totem, and a new dinghy and motor since the dinghy is the car - we'll be very dependent on that little boat and want good comfort and reliability. (We went with an AB flat-bottom aluminum dinghy and a 15hp Tohatsu outboard.)
What else: well, I guess we'll figure it out as we go - we have lots of projects to complete before we launch. But with these Covid variants, who knows what the future holds, even 2 months from now. Maybe we'll delay our departure, or maybe we'll never even leave! If that were the case, we'd enjoy our Channel Islands and local sailing, fly our airplane, and hang with family, so it's all good, although the blog might be a little boring.
We're grateful to the buyers of our house for letting us stay 2 extra months to give us time to get through the memorial service we had in early August for my mom, who left Planet Earth at the end of May, and to also get some work done on the boat that would be difficult if we were living aboard.
And so, I officially mark this as the beginning of The Further Adventures of Allan & Alison Gabel on s/v Fly Aweigh II. And while it's trendy (and potentially lucrative!) to have a YouTube channel these days, we're camera-shy and also a bit lazy, so we'll stick to this blurb and a nice photo gallery, and hope to have a decent readership with whom to share. I do have a YouTube channel to post the occasional wildlife or adventure video, but it will be sparse offerings.
The last time we did this, in 2009 on Fly Aweigh the 1st, I set up the blog (a new-ish concept 12 years ago) just so I could write to my adventurous, yes-girl mom, who loved sailing and always hoped to do some real cruising, who relished any new experience, especially if it involved water, digging in the dirt, or buying hand-loomed fabrics at small foreign markets. She's the reason I learned to sail, she taught me to love the water and all of its' creatures, and she's the reason I'm even here - on this boat, and in this world. So I dedicate this blog to her, the immortal Margy Gates.
And so it begins. To you, Mama.
09 May 2014 | Ephesus, Turkey
I admit, I'm actually having a difficult time getting around to writing this blurb about our trip to Ephesus, because it was so cool. I'm sure that makes sense. Sometimes the words that come out after such an experience are so full of flourish and superlative, it sounds almost idiotic.
So. Ephesus: Amazing. Expansive. Eye-popping. Magnificent. The scale of it all is a bit unfathomable, like so many of the ancient civilizations around the world that are only partially unearthed: we see but a fraction of the picture, and to imagine how it looked in it's heyday is quite a mental task, especially these advanced cultures with underground plumbing and big libraries and stuff.
Underground plumbing! Steam baths! Gender-separate loo's! Like most Roman and Greek cities of it's time, the bath was an important part of the culture, and was located near the entrance. This meant all the visitors to the city arrived clean. Our guide told us that newcomers were also sent to the hospital for a checkup, to be sure they weren't importing communicable diseases. How lovely! If they weren't all so aggressive and full of the urge to conquer each other, I'd say parts of that ancient realm definitely had it going on.
We apparently started at the wrong end of the site, near where all the tourists end their walk downhill through Ephesus, which, it turns out, was a good thing. We hired an official guide at the exit gate, (there are plenty of unofficial guides who want to drag you off to carpet store after) and he shared his knowledge all the way up and around to the upper gate, where we paid him and parted ways. After a cool glass of fresh-squished pomegranate juice in the shade and a visit from a friendly pregnant kitty, we started back down, this time at our own pace, augmenting our knowledge with the Lonely Planet Guide. We spent about 30 minutes in the Terraced Houses, an add-on to the base ticket price and well worth the extra $7.50.
Six of the thousands of terraced houses have been excavated, and are still in the process of detailed reconstruction. The entire complex of rooms and houses is protected by a huge structure built about 15 years ago, and has people throughout working on restoration. When you see someone with what looks like a dental pick working meticulously on a 1" square of tile, you get a sense of the massive job of restoration it would take to put Ephesus back together. So far, about 20% of the city has been excavated. In the spaces between structures that have been reconstructed - the amphitheater, library, baths, etc., there are piles and piles of neatly stacked building components: Doric, Corinthian and Ionic columns, pilasters, lintels and doorways, blocks and pavers, plaques, tiles, and more. It was a kick for a yard sale junkie like me, with the feel if a salvage yard: wander through and take your pick!
At it's height around 0 (that's somewhere between BC and AD) Ephesus had over 250,000 people. Driving back to Marmaris Harbor that evening, we passed through a town that listed its population as 62,000. Looking at how spread out that town was, I realized how extensive Ephesus must have been. In the terraces we saw 6 homes that might accommodate a total of about 25 people; that leaves 249,975 residents, slaves, and transients that lived in palaces, homes, and apartments.
It's all quite extraordinary, and somewhat humbling when you realize how many ancient cultures like this are gone, buried beneath millennia of dust. Where will we be in 1000 years? Will anyone marvel at our libraries and plumbing systems, or the staggering number of McDonalds and Starbucks they find under it all?
By the time we wandered back to the bottom gate, it was nearing 5pm. Most of the tour busses had loaded and left, and we almost had the place to ourselves, leaving us a few minutes of quiet to sink our minds back 2000 years and see Antony and Cleopatra (who visited several times) arriving while shoppers wandered along the wide marble street, shopping for silks, spices, and other goodies.
It's definitely the kind of place you could visit several times, and because we went up and back, we've already seen it twice!
(We are standing in front of the magnificent library in the picture above, which literally takes your breath away the first time you see it.)
Tomb Bay, Turkey
03 May 2014 | Tomb Bay
What are we doing in Turkey?
For one thing, we're eating extremely well. Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables were so prolific in today's farmers market, Allan and I were in anti-oxidant heaven, with long rows of Turkish women in colorful scarves and floral dresses displaying a rich bounty. And we're especially enjoying the fresh-squished pomegranate juice, available all over Turkey this time of year.
But we're actually here in Turkey because our sailing friends Michael and Gloria are here, and their raves about cruising the Turkish Mediterranean last season convinced us to come and join them this season.
We flew into Istanbul direct from Los Angeles on Turkish Airlines, and arrived at our charming hotel, on a winding charming cobblestone street in a charming neighborhood with a view of an old ruin of some sort just out our windows across the street, and the Mediterranean ocean a few blocks away. We were sort of, well, completely charmed. I had no idea what to expect, but it wasn't quite that.
We had dinner around the corner at a restaurant with a marvelous view of the Blue Mosque, which is, like so many beautiful and important buildings and structures in major cities around the world today, lit with an array of lights that made it look right out a movie set.
The next morning, on the recommendations of multiple friends as well as our Lonely Planet guide book, we set off in the rainy morning to tour said Mosque, as well as the Basilica Cistern, the Haggia Sophia, a 5th century Byzantine church which was later converted to a Mosque, and is now a museum, and finally a visit to the infamous Grand Bazaar.
The first two things were fabulous, the Haggia Sophia was good but I was getting a bit tapped-out by then, and the Grand Bazaar, updated in recent years, is too 21st century for my tastes, with neon lights and a McDonalds, and feels more like a mall these days than a crowded, fascinating old Turkish bazaar. But we took some cool pictures of the old stone walls and ceilings in parts of the Bazaar, as well as some fun belly dancing costumes, and could sort of imagine what it might have been like 75 years ago, or even 25, before Istanbul began a long overdue overhaul.
We ended our day at a terrace restaurant, of which there are many in Istanbul, taking wise advantage of the city's many fascinating views. We wound our way up narrow spiral staircases to the 4th floor (followed by a waiter, laden with a big tray of food - up and down four floors again and again - good exercise, that job!) Bundled up in our down jackets, we drew the table close so the tablecloth kept our legs warm from wind and chill of the brisk evening, and watched the sun sink behind one of the many Mosques in the distance while huge ships sat at anchor in the bay.
Up the next morning for a flight to Dalaman, on the southwestern coast. Michael and Gloria had arranged for a taxi driver named Feris to meet us, and there he was, holding a sign with our names, (spelled correctly!) on a big sign. Off we went, and after a short while Feris took a detour into a narrow road that deteriorated into old paving and finally gravel, and we began to wonder if perhaps we were being abducted, as our GPS (love this modern world, at times!) indicated the marina was off in a completely different direction. But soon enough we began to glimpse the sea, with sailboats and big yachts in the idyllic bays, and we realized we weren't headed for the big marina after all. Sure enough, we got to the dirt parking lot and there were Michael and Gloria just climbing off the dinghy. Gloria rightly chastised me for not reading her email thoroughly: she had completely briefed us the day before on the winding dirt road and every aspect of what to expect.
After a fantastic lunch along the water at a wooden table set under a blooming tree on the lawn, we headed off to Michael and Gloria's Beneteau Custom 50, Paikea Mist, shore-tied in a little corner of the bay, and off on our Mediterranean Adventure.
As I write, we're now anchored in picturesque Tomb Bay, sipping white wine while the late afternoon sun makes the trees and flowers seem transparent and aglow. The sun is glinting off the water just astern in a way that seems unreal, enhanced, and our little spot, nestled up against the shore reminds us of a set for a summertime Shakespeare play. Tomorrow, after a breakfast of granola, sweet berries, crisp, incredibly fresh walnuts, rich yogurt, and giant plump raisins we'll hike the hills to one or two of the Lycian tombs.
Our planned itinerary takes us to a few more spots M & G know of with some good hikes planned and one day hiding out from predicted 40-knot winds. Tuesday Allan and I will rent a car and spend a day at Ephesus, one of the best Greco-Roman ruins, located along the coast, and return to Paikea Mist that evening. We'll fly back to Istanbul next Saturday for a few more days of city time, then home.
This all feels completely comfortable to me, perhaps because the climate is very Californian, and the produce meets the needs of a mostly vegan very well. I can see why Michael and Gloria love this part of the world.
Last Day in Indonesia
20 September 2012 | Medona Marina, Lombok
Greetings from Medona Marina on Lombok Island, once again. I’m sitting in the marina’s seaside restaurant, hoping my battery holds on long enough to write this blurb, while the breeze flows through the open-air building. Clumps of cruisers sit about, talking, reading, writing on their laptops, gladly partaking of the free, high-powered Internet service.
We spent a few days on Gili Air, and since “gili” means islet and “air” means water (go figure) we were on a little water island. But really, it was a delightful spa/resort destination in the Indonesian style. Small town with a narrow dirt/sand road running down the middle, too small for cars but serviced by itty bitty horses with bells and fancy head dresses pulling little carts carrying locals, tourists, and bundles of huge bamboo. Small bungalows dot the land side, ranging from backpacker inns to high-end honeymoon escapes, and there are scads of fabulous beach bars and restaurants with the best, freshest tuna skewers for $5. Not to mention Indonesian curries and all varieties of Asian food. We even had a hamburger, although they reminded us they’re Muslim, so it’s not a hamburger, it’s a beefburger.
Every morning and evening, the small hand-made fishing boats motor out, their old outboards rattling by, plop-plop-plop-plop, long fishing nets neatly piled in the narrow boat, fishing net sticking up out of the back, one lone fisherman in his conical woven hat settled low in the boat, almost like he’s molded right in. They look like big water bugs with their with stabilizing bamboo or PVC pontoons reaching out from either side to glide on the surface. I believe their catch goes right to the local restaurants, which explains why the fish is so fresh and fantastic.
Gloria and I splurged some rupia ($) on hand, foot, head, and back massages, as well as 90-minute facials, quite lovely. Meanwhile, Allan and Michael went on one last dive before the borrowed dive gear is returned to the Ulf, who graciously loaned it to us. This morning we pulled anchor and waved goodbye to Gili Air, and are now back on Lombok Island, a short 3km hop across calm water.
Allan and I fly home tomorrow, sadly, and have one last night here. As timing and fate would have it, tonight is a huge party here in the marina, one of several held throughout Indonesia for the cruisers who joined in the Sail Indonesia 2012 Rally from Darwin to Kupang a few months ago. They’ve been setting up hundreds of chairs under large tents, with banners, booths, and what promises to be a large spread of food.
Next morning: Well, an interestingly small event for the hoopla that surrounded it. There was a slew of police, the area was sealed off to incomers until the dignitaries arrived, dancers and musicians were dressed exquisitely in traditional Indonesian garb and it looked like the women had spent half the day layering on their makeup. Not sure how some of them could blink with all those lashes. It was a very large group of performers, but as it went, Gloria and Michael returned from their trip to town, laden with groceries just as the festivities were beginning. So we joined them for a quick trip back to the boat, and also agreed that we needed to re-anchor as the boat was a bit too close to some rocks and coral. We could hear the drums starting up, and had confidence that we’d make it back for the second half of the show. But it turned out to be a very short performance, maybe 15 minutes, and we missed it completely. All that makeup for a flash-in-the-pan show – we were a bit surprised. We arrived in time for the boring official speeches, and then they announced that the buffet was ready. In all, the event lasted maybe 2 hours. By the time we’d eaten, it was dark, and all the local vendors in their delightful fabric booths selling jewelry and ikat fabrics and clothing had to pack up. So it seemed like a lot of buck for no bang. We did hear that the night before they put on a blues night that was so fantastic, everyone was raving about it. We were in Gili Air and missed it, but perhaps they were all spent! Worn out! The Blues took it out of them … but so it goes.
We don’t leave Indonesia disappointed – we leave it rather, full of curiosity. It’s a beautiful place, with incredible variety in the land, the sea, the animals and the people. We’re glad we had this chance and we’re grateful to Gloria and Michael for making it so amazingly wonderful for us and sharing 11 great days on Paikea Mist.
Calling EVA Air
17 September 2012
Changing our tickets home ... we need more time!!