We end our Turkish coastline journey soon after we reach Gocek, calling into some fabulous little coves, inlets and bays. We in fact retrace our outgoing route bringing us to the end of our travelling season, some of which we sail alongside our friends and enjoy many evenings with them in these beautiful places. Once back in Akbuk, we invite our friends Lee and Larry to sample life in our home town, they must take Sea Dreams to a marina for some repairs, therefore Didim marina was an easy option. Their season finishes soon, which will signify their return to New Zealand for a few weeks. On their return, we shall hopefully catch up, perhaps in Leros, the Greek Island where their boat will be winterised. We spend our last few weeks getting Kejstral clean, emptied and weather tight as we have no idea how she will fair, alone in a fishing harbour in Turkey.
Our 2017 season begins!
We have spent a few weeks back in the UK catching up with family, friends and some work, the weather was surprisingly good for our stay which makes the experience somewhat easier to handle. It was great to see everyone again and have Christmas with our family, but the time has now come to travel back to our home in Turkey.
Our house in a Turkish winter survives pretty well, these buildings are not as well designed as the British buildings, as you know Turkey has a very dry hot long summer and the homes are designed around this weather, when it rains here, the effect can be disastrous for the less well built, as foundations and damp courses are rather minimal, if even remembered or included by the architect! Fortunately we had a good relationship with our builder, and had great involvement in the planning and construction of our house. It weathers well and requires very little maintenance when we are away on our travels.
Kejstral our 36 ft Jeanneau sun odyssey sailing yacht, on the other hand is an unknown, we have left her for the first time in the harbour, under the supervision of our friends and the harbour security. There happens to be CCTV cameras which we can check too. Whilst in the UK, Kevin noticed that Kejstral seemed a little too close to the harbour wall, the wind was pushing her towards this structure, yet the anchor line didn't seem to be adequately holding her. He contacted our friends to ask them to check, only to find that the anchor line had snapped, or more likely, been driven through by a neighbouring boat. Within an hour or so, a diver had been employed, new rope had been purchased and Kejstral was once again secure. One of the dilemmas of leaving her in a harbour rather than a secure (costly) marina. A decision we may have to make for next winter, harbour at risk or marina at a cost.
Despite her bid for freedom, Kejstral has faired well. On our return, we hurried down to check out our boat, dusty, dirty on the outside, yet pristine and clean within. We expected some damp or perhaps mould inside, even though there are vents for airflow. Our previous boat managed to develop a mould issue over winter due to inadequate ventilation. We did leave a dehumidifier in the salon which absorbed any moisture from the atmosphere, it seemed to help as there was a good volume of water collected.
Now all we needed to do was set to work with the cleaning, repairs from last year and purchase the required ropes and chain for this year's adventures.
Kevin tackled the outside hosing off then scrubbing of decks while I, the inside. It doesn't take long to transform her back to our lovely pride and joy. With gleaming bits gleamed and wood polished, chrome buffed and rusty bits derusted, we were ready for the repair work. The spray hood had stitching come adrift around zips, this required maintenance, but hand sewing would not be sufficient for the pressure and weather it has to tolerate, so off to the sail repair guys. We have used the company on a previous occasion to make winter covers for our old, smaller boat. They did a fabulous job and at a good price, therefore we sought out their help once again, we were not disappointed. In addition the sun shade, a necessity in 36 degrees, required a little titivating and new elastic straps. We also asked them to expand the shade size as that was one problem last year. Spending every day in hot sun can sound brilliant, however, it can be thoroughly draining, the shade is a glorious relief, ours just wasn't quite big enough.
The inside tasks were engine related mainly, every year a full service must be completed, before Kejstral is abused for another season! Fortunately Kevin has been a mechanic, therefore has the ability to tackle this challenge. The hardest part was locating each of the parts. Having checked out the part numbers, taken numerous pictures and noted all specifications, we go armed for the task. Remember, we are in Turkey, our language is improving, just not adequate to speak mechanics and Turkish! Our regular chandlery is great, the lady speaks perfect English and does her up most to assist, they just do not hold the parts for our Yanmar engine. We even had trouble finding everything from her suppliers lists, we had to search further afield. The local marina in Didim did have the appropriate filters and belts, therefore within a two week period, fuel, oil and air filters had been replaced, fan and alternator belts refitted and impeller renewed. New oil, 4 litres of clean fresh lubricant was poured into our almost pristine little engine, before she was ready to go for another year.
Then came the new inverter, this wonderful piece of kit converts 12volts DC to the 220 240 Volts (what we usually use in our homes), meaning that our electrical items can be plugged directly in for power, rather than using the equivalent of the cigarette lighter power point in a car. It became a problem when trying to power a razor, laptop, hairdryer and other items, on our travels last year. You may say" why should you need those items on a boat?" Imagine travelling for 5-8 hours with no communication, unshaven (Kevin obviously) with wet hair which becomes a frizzy mess when not dried or straightened (me obviously) Once arriving at said destination in a quiet bay on a dark night with nothing to keep you entertained....... That's why we needed a new powerful inverter, the one currently fitted is a pretty useless 300 watt little piece of nothing, it hardly allowed the electronic tablets to fully charge, let alone my hair appliances. We purchased a 1500 watt inverter in the UK, when it was delivered, we were a bit surprised at its weight and size. It had to be transported back in our suitcase, well Kevin's, (mine was full of pretty news bikinis and flip flops). Hmm this could be an issue with customs too, hadn't thought of that one! Apparently customs are not interested as long as it is scanned and stored as hold luggage, excellent. Once safely transported across the 2000 miles, we then needed to install it. I say we, actually, I had nothing to do with this job, other than to state" you can't put it there, and will my straighteners work?"
Kevin spent a few mornings on board, (still in the harbour) fiddling, he is great at that. He did do a perfect job of fitting the amazing box of tricks, unfortunately it didn't behave as it should during it's first test. By this, I mean, it blew up my hair straighteners with the first plug in, I wanted a new set anyway. However, within a day or two he realised that instead of attaching the inverter through the electrical panel, where everything else is controlled, it should in fact be directly wired into the battery pack, therefore allowing a greater power source to drive the machine. Hey presto, everything works now, including my new straighteners!
Some of our many purchases had to be two new stern lines and an extended piece of chain for our anchor.
On our journey last year around Turkey mainly, we found that some of the most beautiful bays for anchorage were rather deep, we hadn't realised just how much of a problem that could become for us. When dropping anchor, the depth of water we are sitting in must be multiplied by around 5, therefore, in 5 meters of sea the chain length deployed should be somewhere around 25 meters. This will give the weight of the anchor a chance to nestle into whatever lies on the seabed, then a hefty piece of chain sitting nearby, will stop it from dragging across the seabed as the wind buffets us around. Equally, it allows for the boat swinging around the anchor point, without dragging. Our issue with Kejstral was, she only had 60 meters of chain, this then limited the depth we were able to anchor in safely. It also proved a problem when reversing onto a harbour or pontoon, if you can imagine, driving backwards, then trying to judge where exactly 60 meters of chain will have to be deployed, in order for us to actually reach the pontoon without running out of chain! This did occur twice during our summer last year, we wouldn't want it to happen again this year. Rather embarrassing when the boat suddenly stops abruptly at about 10 feet from the pontoon, it is a little bit too far for our gangplank to stretch! So, more chain 40 meters, was ordered with the links to attach it to our current 60 meters. Our boatie neighbour kindly assisted Kevin in welding the two sections together, thankfully he knew how to weld chain links properly, imagine that coming undone on a windy dark night! Next item on our seemingly endless list was rope, finding the correct type for the workload is more tricky that I thought. I assumed that any type of strong long rope would suffice, shows just how little I knew......before last summer! Whilst in the harbour of Datca we were tied stern to, therefore our back end was reversed towards the wall. We have two stern lines holding us safely, with the anchor out in front, with this secure 3 point fixing, we should stay fairly still in the water. That is, if the wind is subtle and there is a gentle swell. On this occasion, we had 40 knot winds and a 2 meter swell, yes we were unmoving, but now picture the strain on our two stern lines. As the wind pushed us closer towards the wall, the swell would slap waves against that same wall and pull us back towards our anchor. This constant push, pull scenario with such a ferocious force, tore at our ropes and caused fraying where they were tied to shore. It also put enormous strain on the chrome cleats on either side of the stern. We actually enlisted the help of two scooter tyres to attach to each rope acting as spring devices, it worked brilliantly during this pretty frightening weather. When looking for replacement ropes, they must therefore have a degree of spring in them. Additionally, our older ropes were the twisted type of proper old fashioned ridged course material. This ridged effect when pulled through or round cleats, makes an awful grating noise when the boat is rolling around on a pontoon or harbour.
Our new set are plaid, therefore have no ridges and they have a slight spring to them. They also have a smooth outer layer, much easier to hold, pull on and less lightly to burn our delicate little hands. We took a drive into Yalikavak for our ropes, as our other requirement was a set of replacement door locks for cupboards, some had become faulty with general wear and tear. This is exceedingly unhelpful when we are sailing, as the wind picks up speed, Kejstral heels, or tilts to one side. It isn't much fun to see pasta spirals and washing up liquid fly through the air in the galley below, when you can not possibly reach out and stop the chaos. The locks are relatively cheap and easily replaced, trying to find them is not quite so straight forward, Yalikavak had a good stock. They also stock a huge range of fibreglass and chrome cleaner /polishing kits, and rust removal agents, but they come at a price.
The last task for us was to repair Zoe, our tender. She worked extremely hard last summer, and accrewed some scars because of this. The inflatable tenders take so much strain from being towed behind our yacht, then we whizz them around shallow bays, inadvertently scratching and scraping their bottom and sides. The rings that are fixed for tying ropes, become worn and rip over time, this was why Zoe had to be sent for repair. The job takes time, glue and the skill of someone adequately knowledgeable about these inflatable workhorses, we did not have these qualities.
Having completed our workload, we are pretty keen to get out on the water again, we now rely on the ever changing March weather here in Turkey!