Monday, April 15, 2013

Marina Rats In Marmaris

We seem to be natural marina rats. Although hanging out in marinas is not why we're out here a good marina does have its allure. And Marmaris Yacht Marina, in some ways, is a fantastic marina. The shear number of boats is amazing. There are probably 1500 boats on the hard and another 1000 in the water.
Marmaris Yacht Marina
 There are super yachts, power and sail, everywhere we look. The place has a "control tower" at the end of every dock just to keep track of things. There are at least three travel lifts, the largest being 550 tons, the largest I've ever seen. There are all the amenities one would expect and the usual services. In general the quality seems high and the cost of the marina is reasonable even by North American standards. By Mediterranean standards its very cheap.
Dawn off load in the rain
Obviously our ship did come in, just a day late. However, the timing coincided perfectly with the arrival of some heavy weather and 40 knot winds made unloading impossible for a couple more days. Finally we got a call from our Turkish agent at one o'clock in the morning to "come to ship in 15 minutes, we unload you in 30 minutes". So we staggered around and got dressed, it was still raining, and then thought about it a little. Hmmm, off load from a strange ship to a strange port a boat which hasn't been started or had systems checked in a month and proceed across a strange bay to a strange marina without charts at night in the wind and rain. Sounds like some flight operations I've heard proposed by people who weren't doing the flying. So I called them back and told them we'd be available when it got light. Thank you. Come morning it was still raining but we got the boat off the ship without undue difficulty, just the usual worries, and made our way the few miles over to Marmaris Yacht Marina.  Deed done.
Wanna buy some Jerry cans?
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Sevenstar Yacht Transport to anyone contemplating shipping their boat. . They were honest and responsible and their load masters we're very concerned about taking good care of the boats on board. No one we know has had any problem with Sevenstar and there are  real horror stories  about some other shippers.
Marmaris sunset
So we're here getting things sorted out for the cruising season to come. The weather is generally lovely with sunny days in the seventies and cool nights. We're actually sleeping under blankets, not something we've done on the boat in years. We've had a few days of rain, it is springtime in the Med, but its very nice. We have several good friends from past years who are here getting ready for their season and the yachtie community is as friendly as ever. The social scene is great fun. We're  getting to know Marmaris and liking it.
Local veggie chow
Boat systems took a little hit after being secured on a ship in the heat of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The exterior was dirty but not as completely grungy as I had expected. Our refrigeration and inverter died on the first day. The fridge just needed coolant added, we hadn't had to touch it in six years, now it's working fine. The inverter may or may not be fixable. Maybe we'll find out today. We had developed a leak around the mast deck seal but the massive use of silicone sealer has prevailed and the leak seems to have been defeated. Our sails are in at the very nice UK Sails loft getting a going over. I have constructed an amazingly cool passerell (a boarding plank and the symbol of the Mediterranean based boat) to get on and off the boat when we're Med tied, which is always the case in these parts. 

Janet's nemesis, the passerell 
We've got a few more jobs to do but things are proceeding well. So for now we take a shuttle bus into town and prowl Marmaris. We eat local. We are never short of baklava. We listen to soulful Turkish music on FM and we have a happy hour with friends almost every evening. It's all very nice and,  although we are not yet "cruising", the fun has begun!

Love to all,
Bill & Janet

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Asia Again, First Impressions of Turkey.

It's the 4th  of April and where's our boat? Delayed a day is 'where' and we're not really surprised. We're in Marmaris, Turkey and this is not another hardship post. Marmaris sits nestled deep in a picturesque Mediterranean bay, almost completely enclosed by mountainous terrain. The town stretches along a beach for several miles.

Ataturk statue on the Marmaris waterfront
  We're told the resident population is about thirty five thousand but at the height of the "season" its about three hundred thousand! This time of year, before the temperatures rise and the tourist hordes arrive, it is a lovely place. There are three marinas in the bay and two of them are the largest I've ever seen. There are supposed to be over five thousand yachts based out of Marmaris at any given time. As a result just about any yachting need can be accommodated. If they don't have it in the shops they can make it or order it. In general things are very well organized. We've been here three days and have some of the lay of the city. I had picked our hotel hoping it would be a good location and it was even better in that the shuttle buses to the marinas are within a two minute walk and the best hardware store in town is across the street.
Infinite variations on Baklava
There is good baklava on every corner and a wonderful fruit and veggie market a few blocks away. We have very good yachtie friends from previous years here and we've already met others. This is shaping up very well.

The trip over was typical non-rev travel. We caught an 0600 flight from Arcata to SFO and then couldn't get on any flights up to SEA. So we took a taxi over to Oakland where an Alaska Airlines flight had seats available to SEA. We spent a nice night  with Rod and Terri Fisher at their beautiful home  in Gig Harbor. 

Rod, Terri and two old dogs.
Got into World Business Class (yippee) to Amsterdam on DL, and had a bit of a struggle finding a standby seat on any flight out of AMS to Istanbul. But we got lucky and the last KLM flight, which was overbooked by three, got us on and we arrived in Istanbul about 0200. Tired but happy, as they say. 
The Bosphorus from Topkapi Palace
 Istanbul, Constantinople, Byzantium, are there  names for any other  city that conjure up as much history? The Bosphorus strait divides the city and separates Europe and Asia. Hagia Sophia was built by Justinian in the 6th century, on the grandest possible scale, to be the greatest church in Christendom. It became a mosque with the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century and a museum with the coming of Ataturk and the secular state of Turkey in the 20th century.  

Hagia Sophia
The Blue Mosque

Dome of the Blue Mosque
Our hotel was in Sultanahmet, the oldest part of the city, within a few hundred yards of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, the major-major tourist sights in town. So we did all those places and the usual tourist stuff, which in a city like Istanbul, really does have to be done. We each had great Turkish baths. We did a Bosphorus ferry tour and walked the streets of Sultanahmet and the Bazaar district.
A Huge Bazaar

Our Street

Old Sultanahmet
  These parts of the city are amazingly active and the streets are full of people. I think only Hong Kong, in my experience, has seemed as busy once the day gets going. We ate a lot of good basic food, almost always followed by tea and baklava. To finish off the stay we had a lovely rooftop dinner overlooking the Bosphorus with a very affectionate but demanding cat under the table.  The restaurant cats of Sultanahmet  fare very well.

The trip down to Marmaris was simple enough. We had tickets as "real people" on Pegasus Airlines to Dalaman and we used an A2B shuttle for the 100K ride over to Marmaris. So now, after a week,  we're over the jet lag and about as "back to normal" as we ever get.
Waterfront Marmaris
 Our initial impressions of Turkey and the Turks are very positive. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful. English is common. Istanbul is modern and very busy. Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports are sparkling new. Marmaris is equally bustling  and there is construction everywhere. The quality of work is far above what we've become accustomed to seeing in most of SE Asia. Turkey seems to be booming economically and the Turks are very industrious.  I will say we've seen only a little of the country so far but  I would be surprised if this is not born out further. Again, from what we've seen so far, there is almost no evidence of fundamentalist Islamic cultural pressure. People seem very much oriented towards the west.
Veggie market in Marmaris
 The Turks themselves are an impressive people. The men are big and hearty  and most of them, at whatever age, never seem to have lost a hair off their heads (sigh…). The younger generation of women are very attractive and casually western dressed. They tend to have dark hair and eyes but there are plenty of blue eyes mixed in for a little surprise. People are look heathy and active and there's little obesity. They do smoke those cigarettes, though. Janet is delighted to see so many cats. And the cats are almost all very sleek and healthy looking. They're also very tame and willing to let a stranger be friendly. Janet can get her cat 'fix' and these cats are obviously not abused by anybody. Speaks well for the people and culture when  the animals are well cared for.

Another cat gets love.
So the boat is supposed to be here tomorrow, the 5th. We may get unloaded late in the day but I have doubts about that, more likely the 6th. We'll take it over to Marmaris Yacht Marina and get to work on the red Sahara Desert sand that we're told will have coated everything coming up through Suez.


 6th of March

………..the ship got in about 1730 the 5th and there was no time to begin unloading. This morning they got two boats off but the wind built up to over twenty five knots directly on the beam and "operations were suspended". Fair enough because the last boat to come off did have problems. The wind is forecast to build up to forty knots tomorrow. If so we won't get off then either. Patience is a virtue, people have told me that all my life. Oh well…..

Our Ship Comes In...    

.....with Airstream still aboard.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet
Photos: As always, photos by Janet