26 July 2012 | Lakka, Island of Paxos
24 July 2012 | Gouvia Marina, Corfu
23 July 2012 | Gouvia Marina, Corfu
20 July 2012 | Porto Montenegro Marina, Tivat
01 July 2012 | St. Paul, MN
14 May 2014
We've been out at anchor for the past ten days, the most recent five of which were spent near Marmaris, in the bay just N of Yacht Marina. Our new friends Johan and Elly helped organize a concert for cruisers at the marina and we wanted to be here to watch their performance. The extended time here in Marmaris also allowed for several trips into town on the Dolmus (Turkish mini-bus) to explore and purchase a handful of spares that we needed onboard.
We had an encounter with the Turkish Navy last week while we sailed here from Eckincik. There is a large naval base nearby and five destroyer class vessels were engaged in what sounded like "shooting practice". Although we were traveling outside the restricted area noted on the charts, the Turkish Coast Guard advised us to head even further South "for your own protection". With lots of thunderous booms reverberating in our ears, we eagerly heeded their advice.
During that exchange, I noticed poor reception with our primary VHF radio. We've had intermittent issues with either the VHF or the AIS transceiver for the past two years despite several service attempts by Raymarine personnel. So I opted to have two new VHF antennas installed yesterday --- one at the masthead for the VHF radio and one on the pushpit antenna stand for the AIS. We found corrosion at the masthead antenna connector which was the probable cause of our radio communication issues. With the new secondary antenna on the pushpit, we now have redundancy which is always a good thing for critical systems on boats.
We're leaving Marmaris today and heading SW towards the Datca Penninsula. We enjoyed spending time there last Spring while Tyler was with us and want to revisit a few of our favorite anchorages there. Peter and Ty arrive in 11 days so we'll be heading back towards Gocek by early next week to prepare for their arrival.
02 May 2014
Chris and I unintentionally overstayed our Turkish travel visas in 2013. We purchased a 90 day multiple entry visa when we arrived in April and then another one when we came back in early September. We didn't know that you can only purchase one of these in a 365 day period and we learned that lesson the hard way after enduring a 14-hour delay when trying to clear out of the Istanbul airport last November. They were happy to sell us the second visa in September, but it wasn't any good and we ended up paying a fine of about $200USD each for staying here too long.
The solution for 2014? Purchase a 1-year residence permit. Sounds simple, right? Only if your definition of simple includes spending two days navigating the streets of a foreign city trying to hunt down various officials with documents or stamps that we needed. And this was the streamlined and simplified process which just went into affect on April 9th, intended to ease the burden on foreigners seeking residence status in Turkey. Here are the steps we had to take:
We arrived at the Police Station in Fethiye at 9AM on Monday, April 21st. The official there gave us a list (available only in Turkish at the time) of the documents that were required. It included the following:
- Copies of our passports, signed and stamped by a Turkish notary
- Proof of residence, either a rental agreement or, as in our case, an annual contract with a marina.
- Turkish Tax ID #'s for each of us
- Proof of health insurance, translated into Turkish
- Copies of bank statement
- 5 color passport photos
- Application form stamped by the local "Muhtar" in the town or municipality where we intended to reside.
- Multiple color copies of the above
After a few hours of walking around Fethiye trying to gather the items on our scavenger hunt checklist, we were introduced to Yakup, an english-speaking translator and notary. Yakup makes a nice living helping foreigners like us navigate the Turkish bureaucratic maze. Where do we get tax id #s? How do we prove that we have health insurance? What is a Muhtar and where do we find him or her? Yakup provided excellent advice on these questions and more! (He can be reached at +90 539 835 1922.)
My ride on the back of Yakup's scooter to the Tax Office was "exciting" to say the least. Once there, we had to pay 170TL (about $85) per person for our Tax ID #s, along with another 50TL each for the Residence Permits. And like every good bureaucracy, it took four people to do the work of one: Person A provided the Tax ID #s, Person B entered the info for our Residence Permits, Person C tallied up the bill and accepted my money and Person D issued the receipt. Since none of these people spoke english, I would probably still be there today without Yakup's help.
After that it was off to purchase health insurance. Of course, we already HAVE perfectly good international health insurance but since Blue Cross / Blue Shield doesn't issue policies written in Turkish, our option was to either pay a translator to translate our BCBS policy or just purchase a cheap Turkish policy. We took the path of least resistance and shelled out another 90TL for the Turkish policy. I have NO CLUE what kind of coverage it offers (how much can you really buy for $45USD?) but I now have a 1" thick policy binder written in Turkish that will satisfy the faceless bureaucrat who reviews all of this.
Our last step in this little adventure was to have the local "Muhtar" sign and stamp our application documents. The Muhtar is an elected official who represents the city or municipality at the provincial (regional) level of government. Since we were in Fethiye we assumed that the Muhtar there could perform this function. But when we returned to the Police Station on Tuesday morning to present all of our documents, we were told that we had to see the Muhtar from Gocek because that's where our "residence" is. (Our contract with the marina is in Gocek.) Gocek is 90 minutes (each way) by boat from Fethiye but we didn't have any choice so off we went. Two hours later we were anchored back in Gocek and hopped in the dingy to go find the Muhtar. We arrived to find his office empty but a helpful colleague reached him by cellphone and told us he was in ... (drumroll please) .. Fethiye, of course! With a few hours to kill until his return, we headed off in search of lunch and a glass of wine! When we returned later that afternoon we found the Muhtar in his office furnished with a small desk, a cot (which probably gets more use than the desk) and a barber chair (shave and a haircut anyone?) On the wall was the obligatory framed photo of Ataturk (Founder of the Turkish Republic) and a nice four-color campaign poster of our man Mr. Muhtar. His english was limited (but still better than our Turkish) and he apologetically explained that he didn't have the stamp that we needed on our documents. Apparently he was just recently elected and someone from the Ministry of Official Stamps hadn't issued his just yet! So he signed our documents and sent us off to make three copies and take them to the local Gendarme who actually HAD a stamp. The Gendarme's office is surrounded by iron gates and guarded by machine-gun toting young men dressed in military garb. After being ushered upstairs and waiting for a few minutes, we presented our papers to the man who appeared and they were promptly stamped! Yeah!! It was now around 2:30 pm and we had to get back to Fethiye before 5:00 pm because government offices were closed the following day for a national holiday.
We made it back to Fethiye by 4:15pm and had arranged to meet Yakup at the Police Station by 4:30 to present our paperwork. But as luck would have it, the Turkish Coast Guard came alongside just then and asked to inspect our boat. I was beginning to think we were cursed because this was the first time in four years of cruising the Med that we've been inspected! Thankfully, all of our paperwork was in order and their visit took less than 10 minutes once I explained our 5pm deadline.
So now we wait. Our applications have been accepted by the police in Fethiye and have been sent off to Istanbul or Ankara for further review and processing. Once approved, the Residence Permits will be mailed to us at the marina in Gocek. I have NO copies of any of these materials and am trying not to even think about we'll do if our application or the permits get lost in transit somewhere.
20 April 2014
And so begins another season onboard Interlude...
Chris and I have been back in Turkey since April 9th, mostly doing Spring boat projects and settling back into the relaxed pace that we enjoy so much when we're out here.
We finally left the marina in Gocek late yesterday afternoon after waiting much of the day for the rain to subside. Our destination was Ciglik Koyu, a small bay that we discovered and stayed in for several days last Fall. It offers great protection, crystal clear water and fabulous scenery. And other than 1-2 day tripper boats that visit for a few hours each afternoon, the place the usually secluded. The only disappointment was that the rocky beach was littered with plastic trash. So I got up early this morning and went ashore to do a little "spring cleaning". Filled an entire black garbage bag full of stuff and the beach now looks MUCH better!
We enjoyed a leisurely two-hour sail to Fethiye today and we're swinging at anchor in the large bay just west of the city. There are only about 6-8 other cruisers out here with us tonight, a pleasant contrast to the 30+ boats that are usually here later in the season.
Our plan this year is just to hang out in this part of Turkey again. No destination, no timetable, no worries. We'll be here until early June and then be back in between September & early November. We have three weeks booked with family & friends and we're looking forward to introducing them to this part of the world.
All for now. Happy Easter everyone!
The dreams that you dare to dream...
09 June 2013 | Kekova Roads
Dan 30 degrees C, 1008 mb, 20-25 kts wind at anchor
It was nearly 13 years ago that I first began to dream of sailing to faraway lands with Chris & Tyler. Sell the house, the cars and the business, ditch the suits and ties in the nearest Salvation Army dumpster, buy a sailboat and head out for a few years to see the world. I figured we could homeschool Tyler and that he'd learn infinitely more from the experience than he would in elementary school or junior high.
Although the details and the timing evolved considerably in the years since then, the basic dream stayed alive. Things began to fall in place in mid-2009 when I sold the business and retired 18 months later after a fulfilling but exhausting 20 year run. Buying a boat in Croatia was never part of the plan, but I was captivated by the Discovery 55 and there were only a few quality used ones for sale at that time. It didn't take long before we learned that Croatia was an outstanding cruising ground so why NOT start our journey there?? Besides, the Greek Islands weren't very far away and beyond that we'd have access to the entire Mediterranean Sea! Sign me up... adventures ahead! Thankfully, Christine and Tyler were willing to partake in what was at first primarily my "thing".
With that brief retrospective, it is probably easy to understand how difficult it was to see Tyler fly home recently to begin his summer job as a YMCA camp counselor. Since his collegiate life begins this Fall, this departure signifies the end of a long-held dream, much of which we've been blessed to have realized. We haven't crossed any oceans yet, but we did sail in places Homer wrote about centuries ago. We've visited Athens, Istanbul and Rome and seen ancient cities like Delphi, Corinth, Ephesus, Knidos, Caunos and Halicarnassos (modern day Bodrum). We've become more familiar with Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations and been introduced to more ancient people like the Carians and Lycians. More importantly, we've had the unique opportunity to live in close quarters together in an environment which requires teamwork, patience, communication and resourcefulness. And we have genuinely enjoyed being together despite sharing less than 275sf of living space nearly 24x7. Who would have thought???
Christine and I return home next week to enjoy the summer months in MN/WI with plans to return to Interlude after Tyler is settled at St. Olaf College this Fall. Beyond that, nothing is certain. We may hang out in Turkey for a few more months (there is still SO much more to explore here) or we may try to get as far West as Malta for the winter. I'm hoping for a burst of inspiration to help chart the course and crystalize the vision for this next chapter. Will Interlude cross the Atlantic to explore Caribbean waters for a while? And might she someday experience landfall in the South Pacific? Whatever lies ahead, it will be hard to top the experiences and memories from these past three summers. As I reflect on these, I'm reminded of the first few lines from one of my favorite tunes:
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Back in Fethiye
25 May 2013 | Ece Saray Marina, Fethiye
We arrived back in Fethiye earlier today after two bumpy and windy days coming N from Kekova. We're going to leave Interlude here at the marina while we join a jeep excursion to Salikent Canyon tomorrow or Monday, then we'll head back out for two nights at anchor before returning to Gocek to meet Marnie and Andrew who arrive on Wednesday.
I've added a few recent pictures from our trip down to Kalkan, Kas and Kekova during the past 10 days. More details to follow...
Onboard Maintenance Log
18 May 2013 | Kas
This post may not be of interest to most readers. But I know there there are a handful of folks reading this who are hoping to embark on an extended cruise sometime in the coming years. And since I'm frequently asked about onboard repair/maintenance expectations, I thought it might be helpful to share the following list of projects we've completed over the past 30 days. Items followed by an asterisk were hired out and the others I completed myself:
- Replace zinc anodes before launch
- Install new socket for passarelle in lower transom step* (MAJOR improvement!)
- Install new VHF handset and speaker at helm*
- Install high water bilge alarm*
- Send EPIRB to Istanbul for mtce inspection & battery replacement
- Fix loose connection on forward head flush switch
- Design and rig new system to lift/lower passarelle
- Make custom rope harnesses with eye splices for lifting dingy on davits
- Replace anchor swivel (old stainless bolt was bent and had to be sawn off)
- Replace broken electrical connector to anchor windlass
- Install new cockpit supply kill switch at helm station*
- Repair leaky refrigerator compressor*
- Caulk around perimeter of cockpit chart plotter
- Repair failed seawater pump for air conditioning system*
- Replace check valves on forward head grey water pump
- Replace furling line lead roller on deck.
- Fix shower door track in aft head
- Remove failed masthead anchor light; test and order replacement unit
- Troubleshoot helm chartplotter data master alarm: test cables & upgrade software*
- Replace anchor windlass foot switches
- Replace springs on companionway washboard
- Replace transom shower hose
- Epoxy new wood base for repositioning water maker primer pump in engine room
- Make custom dinghy painter with two double-braid eye splices and caribiner
- Troubleshoot VHF and AIS transmission issues (ongoing)
All things considered, this has been a manageable set of projects for us. No show-stoppers at all. I typically spend 2-3 hours / day on these kinds of projects which includes the time spent shopping for necessary parts & materials. Sometimes these shopping excursions turn into fun little scavenger hunts, taking us to places that we wouldn't otherwise get to see. For instance, when we needed a 24x30cm piece of wood to reposition the watermaker primer pump, Chris and I hopped a dolmuş (a Turkish mini-bus) to the sanyaii which is the industrial section of Fethiye. We wandered for a few blocks passing auto repair shops, junkyards, welding shops, etc. until we found a lumberyard. They only sold large bulk lumber but directed me to a "furniture shop" a few blocks further down the road. Eventually we found what clearly was a workshop and, although I didn't see any furniture being made, there were a few guys in there with large table saws. The man who helped me didn't speak english but I was able to convey what I needed and he was eager to help. (The Turkish people in general are extremely friendly and eager to please.) We scrounged around and found a suitable piece of wood, then he cut AND sanded it for me. Total cost: 5 turkish lira (about $3.00) plus 2 lira each way for the dolmuş rides. In the end, we had a memorable excursion along with a nice improvement to one of our onboard systems.