[Kensblog] Coasting Along in Turkey

Greetings all!

Roberta and I are now working our way northwest along the southern coast of Turkey, moving from anchorage to anchorage.

A few photos…

Approaching a narrow passage.

This was at about 6:30am. Generally, when we move the boat, we like to get underway as early as possible and be anchored by noon. The wind comes up every afternoon about noon and lasts until around 6pm.


I’m not 100% certain I have this one figured out. A Turkish delicacy? Nah… my current thinking is that this barrel is for dumping used oil.


Our friends, John and Gloria Buchan, visiting us here in Turkey. For John’s birthday we decided to take them to a fancy restaurant (allegedly frequented by the ‘rich and famous’) on the hill above a marina, simply named “My Marina” in the Bay of Ekincik.

Everything is so casual on a boat, that the ladies were excited about the opportunity to wear dresses for dinner.


The birthday dinner, and view of the bay from the restaurant. Sans Souci can be seen WAY off in the distance!


We took the tender into dinner, but then had an interesting ride getting back to Sans Souci. This  picture was taken inside the marina – before we had exited it — and shows how dark it was.  I had my chart plotter, with a track on it, showing the path I had navigated to get to the restaurant, but the darn screen was so bright it blinded me. I tried to dim it, but couldn’t figure it out. So — I had to pick between blindness or driving in the dark. The biggest problem is the sailboats, who often are unlit.


This boat showed up offering tours up the nearby Dalyan river to ancient ruins (Caunos). John and Gloria took the opportunity and visited the river town of Dalyan and explored the ruins of Caunos and saw the Lykian tombs in the Cliffside. The following are a few of their photos. ($150 for the day)


After John and Gloria returned from siteseeing, John and I spent the afternoon scuba diving. It was just a practice dive, so we didn’t go very deep. You’ll note that we aren’t wearing wetsuits. I checked the water temperature, and at 25 feet of depth it was still 80 degrees fahrenheit.


On a completely unrelated topic, I’m including these pictures that were just sent to me by another cruiser. They are from Horta, in the Azores, a popular stop for boats crossing the Atlantic. It’s a tradition that each boat arriving in Horta paints a little sign card as a souvenir of their voyage. The original Sans Souci (our Nordhavn 62) had crossed the Atlantic in 2004, and here you see that our name is still somewhat there…. (top right corner in the left picture). Too bad they didn’t find the spot where Roberta’s mom, Nova, had painted the old Sans Souci logo. We wonder if it’s still there.

A couple of 3-D photos…

I’ll close out the photo section with a couple of 3-D photos from at anchor, tied to shore. One showing theview from the fly bridge (hot tub deck), and one showing our favorite place to dine, on the upper aft deck. [Note: If youhaven’t already figured it out, if you put your mouse on the picture and drag around, you get the 3-D view.You can also zoom in and out with your mouse wheel.



My last blog entry had a 3-D picture of the boat which triggered several emails from readers.Apparently in one of the pictures it looks like the boat’s railings have a big gap in them. This was anartifact caused by the stiching together of several photos to create the 3-D view. The photos don’t always line up,and I am not very good at standing still while shooting. This week’s photoshave even more grievous flaws. If you lookclose at the second photo you’ll notice that my sloppy photography accidentally amputated the head of oneof your guests. Our friend Gloria would like you know that she does, in fact, have a head!

A few other notes on the second photo: 1) At the back of the boat, you can see a green mat on the floor. This is the dog’syard, which can be quite dangerous to step on barefooted. And, 2) Stretching along behind the bench seating you see a spring-shaped hose. That isthe hose used for washing off the dogs’ “yard.” Lastly, 3) Youmay have noticed the yellow wading pool. That was an experiment to see if the dogs would play in it on hot days. Despitewhat I thought was a good idea to put treats into a bowl, floating in the center of the pool, the dogs didn’t “get it” and refused togo in. We finally gave up on it.

Reader Mail

Here are a few excerpts from my mail-bag. If you’d like to write me, I can be found at: ken@kensblog.com. If you’d likeyour email kept confidential, say so — or, it might wind up here!

My last blog entry mentioned that Roberta and I had looked at other boats, besides Nordhavn, prior to purchasing our current boat.This triggered LOTS of email asking what else we considered.

Our preference from the beginning was to buy a new Nordhavn. We wanted somethingslightly bigger than our Nordhavn 62 (N62), and decided to trade up to a Nordhavn 64. However, within hours of our sale closing onour N62, we started missing it. The N62 has a very cool look (aft pilothouse and long bow), and the N64 has a more conventional style (forward pilothouse with shorter bow). Nordhavn sells a larger boat, the N76, which has the look we like, but when we visited one, we decidedit was too big for us. Thus we canceled our order for the N64, and started looking elsewhere.


Nordhavns N62 and N64. Very effective ocean-crossing machines.

We got serious about two other boats:

1) Northern Marine. They are great boats, but literally while we were in the contract phase,I received a call from a friend encouraging me to tread carefully, because something bad was happening.They had a huge layoff days later, and then slid into bankruptcy. I narrowly dodged a bullet. Mybelief is that they are back in business, but I haven’t tracked them. [Note: Here’s something fun,and never before seen: This isa picture of the Northern Marine 68, that was never built, complete with Roberta’s handwritten commentary –CLICK HERE]

2) After Northern Marine, we decided to go the custom, aluminum trawler route.We were talking to a company out of Florida that manufactures super yachts about doing a boat for us — a 68-footer –and once again we reached the level of contract negotiations. They were waiting to start a huge project andhad some extra people who could do our boat as filler between projects. It was going tobe expensive, but would have been an exceptional boat. This is when Nordhavn’s president (Dan Streech) calledand asked what it would take for us to buyanother Nordhavn. We explained our dilemma. Dan agreed to build the N68, and that was the birth of the model…which has gone on to be a big success for Nordhavn!

Here’s an excerpt from an email, from Bob A, about my “anchor swivel” issues: “…As for the anchor swivel–I doubt if it had any effect. The weight of the anchor, and boat will allow some twist in the chain, and it will still properly set. We tried a swivel for a few months, but found under heavy loads it did not swivel, plus no difference in setting. There was a slight difference when pulling the anchor up to its “locked” position, but letting the anchor dangle down a few feet below the pulpit allowed the chain to straighten.We started off carrying a large CQR and Danforth. In Turkey, we had the same problem setting that you described. I began diving on the anchor and each time I found that the grass roots were so thick that even the large CQR was not crushing them. I would take an axe and cut the roots, then roll the CQR into the place where it could start penetration of the sea bed. I have not used the Rocna, but have purchased a Manson Supreme which is close enough. I suspect that the same problem we had with the CQR is affecting the Rocna.We had a fisherman-type of anchor hand forged in Bodrum. That was the end of the problem. It was not galvanized, the end of the arm, past the flukes (called the “bill”)–actually was formed of the same steel bar as the arms, and were about 6″ long beyond the palm. We kept the flukes and long points of the “bill” sharp, so it would penetrate and cut the roots. Having a sailboat with a bow sprite made securing 3 anchors properly easier than on your vessel. We had the Danforth on one side of the Bow Sprit, and the CQR on the other side–near the bow. The fisherman went thru a 3rd roller which we had fabricated toward the outer end of the bow sprite. We were able to leave the stock in place for every day use, and then folded it along side the shank when underway for any long period of time. …”

Here’s an excerpt from an email, from Alvi M, about anchoring in Turkey: “…I used to have a plough-type anchor and had a lot of problems with setting and dragging. Then I read about the Ultra anchor (which I later discovered that it is a Turkish company manufacturing them) at Nordhavn site and after visiting them at an exhibition and understanding how it works I changed my anchor to Ultra. The result is unbelievable as the anchor sets almost immediately and I never had an anchor drag problem even at very difficult or tight locations. I would certainly recommend it.Med mooring is the “way” to anchor at Turkish coasts and Turkish cruisers are not used to boats floating at anchor. So even if you arrive before a boat to an anchorage, the newcomer, if he would med moor would easily disregard your “circle” not because of poor yachtmanship or rudeness but we are not used to this. There are lots of cruisers who would like to anchor without med mooring but they simply anchor well away from those who med moor.I read your concern about the side wind when med mooring and it is a very sound concern as my boat also has a lot of windage, but the winds in the bays are usually quite consistent as the strong winds are westerlies. When we pick a mooring location we observe how the wind blows in the bay and pick a mooring location where the wind blows right behind the boat when the boat is med moored. And hence the ropes take the load and I have never experienced the wind shifting to the side of the boat. The worst that happens is that in the early morning the winds might reverse (from coast to the sea) and then the wind would blow directly from the front and your anchor will take the load. There is also the additional benefit of the wind breeze coming from aft of the boat as it is quite hot there.As a side note, I remember that you will go to Symi and if you decide to moor at the main harbor I would caution you that it is the worst mooring place that I have ever been as all the boats med moor using their anchor on boths sides of the bay. You end up with lots of cross anchors and when boats start to leave the next morning it becomes a total chaos. Therefore if you are still planning to go there either stay at anchor outside the main harbor (but you might have strong winds) or go into the bay before 10am and make sure that you get a spot deep down the harbour (the shallow part) where only small boats reside and hence you will not have other boats setting anchors on yours….”

And, lastly, something serious!

I mentioned that I was going to try to filter more culture into my blog this year. My intent at the time wasto write about the history of Turkey, and I might still do that. However, I must admit that my personal interest ismore in modern Turkey, and particularly the economy. I always think that there are lessons to be learned bystudying what has worked, or not worked, in other countries. Thus, I’ve been interviewing locals about Turkey and trying toget their perspective on it. As a tourist, the Turkey we see it not necessarily representative of “real Turkey.”

Theoretically, I could look Turkey up on the internet, and learn more than I could ever want to know. But,I always believe that individual opinions are far more interesting than just looking things up in the encyclopedia. So,anyway, here is an interview I conducted with one well-informed, Turkish gentleman, who prefers anonymity,which I hope you’ll find as compelling and informativeas I did.

Q. I’d like to understand how healthcare, welfare, education and other government programs work in Turkey. What can you tell me?

A. I would like to underline that Turkey is a developing country and therefore on almost all groundsthe service rendered by the government is of poorer quality compared to the US or Europe but the trendis certainly upwards and in a quite significant rate. The GDP is around 10,000 USD and just a decade agothis number was around 5,000 USD, and last year Turkey grew 8.5% annually, just short of China.Also, there is a significant difference, in terms of GDP allocation, government services, culture,between western part of Turkey and the Eastern part of Turkey. Obviously the western part is much more developedcompared to the Eastern part. Just to quantify the difference the GDP in Istanbul, Izmir is around 13,000 USD(country average 10,000 USD) and the GDP in many eastern cities is around 5-6,000 USD and farther East this numbergoes down to 3,000 USD !

Healthcare used to be terribly bad, until 4-5 years ago but today healthcare is considered to be thecurrent government’s best achievement and where they get most of their votes. When a person is employedby a private company or the government that person, in Turkey, receives a NET SALARY (Unlike US or Europe)and the employer pays the government, monthly, the tax for that employee and an amount for contribution tothe healthcare and retirement system. And the employee is entitled to get free healthcare from all governmentinstitutions (hospitalsetc) and also from private hospitals with some minor additional charges.The biggest change the current government did was to include the private healthcareproviders to the system and hence improve access of a low-income employee to a good healthcare.Also, private hospitals had the right to refuse to treat an emergency if that person could not show fundsfor the treatment and government hospitals could refuse an unemployed person (hence no healthcare contribution)in an emergency situation. Now, all and any hospital has to treat an emergency situation regardless of that personsfinancial or employment situation. Costwise, the contribution to healthcare and retirement system is around 8% ofthe salary. Those who have average or above average income also go for private insurance to get a full servicefrom Private hospitals. For example my insurance costs 2500 USD annual for the whole family but it only includescases if any of us is hospitalised.

Education is also improving. A decade ago only five years of education was mandatory but today it is 12 years.And all Turkish citizens are entitled to free education for those 12 years. The average quality of public schoolsis still very low compared to US or European standards. Also, if any students chooses to, he can go to publicunivercities which are also free. But, we do not have enough univercities to accomodate for all the high schoolgraduates who wish to continue. The sector for private univercities is growing very fast but this trend hasstarted barely ten years ago. And of course they cost money, though much less than the US.

Q. What about immigration? I haven’t sensed much of a foreign immigration problem, yet Turkey is near countrieswith poverty issues.

You are right that Turkey does not have a big immigration problem (though Turkey is used as a passage for illegalimmigration to Europe from poorer neighbouring countries) and I believe (and this is my opinion) the reason is thatTurkey still has a lot of cheap labour force who are willing to do low income work and a growing population to feedthis labour force.

Q. How do taxes work? Are there corporate taxes, personal income taxes and asset taxes?

A. Corporate tax is 20%, and income tax is between 20-35% based on your income. Property tax is also between 20-35% butif you own the property more than 5 years then there is no tax. Also, if you own the shares of a company more thantwo years and sell the company there is no tax on the sales value. But, as I noted earlier we have a different taxingsystem, where the employee gets a NET SALARY and the tax is payed by the employer to the government. And therefore,we do not have a culture of receiving a salary and then paying an income tax the next year. Also, 30% of theworkforce is undeclared (the employee is not declared to the government and hence no tax) and many small businessesor private endeavours (doctors, lawyers, taxi drivers etc) avoid paying taxes. And hence there is a huge amount ofuncollected tax on the income level. In order to hit its budget objectives and cover this shortfall, the governmenttaxes heavily on the consumption part. The main revenue items for the government as taxes is fuel(around 10 USD per gallon !), cars (average tax is more than 100%, and on the higher end a jeep cherokeecosts 100,000 USD to purchase), tobacco etc and VAT is 18% on most items. I believe 70% of the taxesare collected from consumption and less than 10% is collected from corporate and income tax.

Q. Does everyone serve in the military?

A. Every Turkish man has to serve military.

Q. My perception, from the small bit of traveling I’ve done in Turkey, is of a very large middle class;not much poverty, and not too many super-wealthy.Is that a fair statement?

A. As I stated earlier there is a huge difference between the parts of Turkey you havebeen to and the places you have visited as a tourist and the eastern part of Turkey. Compared to the developedcountries, we have a much lower middle class (which is improving a lot during the last decade) and the differencebetween the poor and the rich is quite big. We do have a lot of super-wealthy and too many poor people living belowor at poverty level. Again to quantify this, 24.6% of the population is living below “hunger line” meaning they earnless than 950 Turkish Lira/month [Note: approx. $420 USD] as a FAMILY and 18% of the population is living below poverty linewhich is 3000 TL/month [Note: $1,500 USD]. Therefore, though you have not seen this there is a huge part of the population living apoor life. One of the reasons for this is considered to be, the fact that women in Turkey are not in labor force.Turkey has the least number of women working in the developing countries (OECD countries) and this isdue to its conservative way of living where the women stay at home and take care of the children etc.

Q. What are the key drivers of the economy in Turkey?

A. The main drivers of the economy is tourism, textiles, manufacturing (moreassembling) of cars, local construction (due to conversion from brick and mud houses to concrete houses andpopulation growth this is huge !), construction projects at neighbouring countries (This huge business forTurkish construction companies) and other various industrial productions.But, Turkey still runs a huge current account deficit (number three in the world,US being number one) and this is percieved as the weakest part of the Turkish economy.The main problem is that though we have a significant production/manufacturing industry for export,most of those productions are very low value added like just assembling of cars or manufacturing textilesfor known brands in Europe etc. Again just to quantify Turkey’s export is around 150 Billion USD per yearand it is estimated that we need to import more than 70% of this export value. Also, though we are veryclose to all those commodity rich arab countries and Russia, for some reason, Turkey has to import allthe oil and natural gas which is a huge burden on the economy.

Q. What do you think about Turkey’s future? Where is Turkey headed? Turkey has been planning to join the EU next year.Do you think it will happen?

A. I, personally, am very optimistic about Turkey’s future. The current government is doing a very good jobeconomically and consequently in many other services (healthcare, education etc). Turkey has become a very goodattraction point for funds neighbouring Turkey due to its political and economical stability. Also, Turkey’s netdebt is at 38% of GDP which is extremely low compared to many developed countries and we almost have a balancedbudget ! As far as accession to EU is concerned, I used to believe that we should do everything to be part of EU,but now, we are certainly better out of EU and many people around me share this opinion. Also, the political willto join EU is not there anymore though they would say otherwise. In the long run, I have my doubts if Turkeywill ever be part of EU. Many EU countries do not want Turkey to join EU, as it is mostly a conservative muslimcountry and have a very different culture and way of living compared to Europe. And on the otherside, as faras Turks are concerned, we are better out of a sick Europe than in.

Q. Is there anything visitors to Turkey can do to be “better tourists?”

A. Well, the expection of Turkish people from tourists is simply spend more !I believe you are doing a very good job there but statistically speaking Turkey is a very cheap touristdestination and the average income from a tourist is much lower compared to many European countries.But, this is just economically speaking. I would not be able to say anything about you or anyone elseshould do to be “better tourists” and I believe Turkish people should be better “hosts” rather than touristbeing “better tourists.” At the end of the day you are the guests here and the Turkish culture is very welcoming toguests. We even have saying that “guests are sent by God” and therefore treated as such.

Q. Any last thoughts?

A. As a closing statement, I can add that, based on my experience (maybe I am wrong), many tourists who have notbeen in Turkey has the impression that Turkey is an arabic country. But, as you have experienced personally,this is not the case and actually Turkey is a very accommodating country which has great respects to different cultures,races and religions (And I can say this as a jewish family living in a country where 99%+ of the population is muslim).I believe one of the greatest disadvantage of Turkey (not having oil, gas or other commodities) turns out to be thegreatest advantage for us living in this country. Turkey has to stay integrated to the democratic and developedworld to sustain economically and this is the main driver for the country to be part of the civilized world.

Thank you!
Ken Williams

4 Responses

  1. Hi Ken & Roberta!
    Great post. I enjoyed reading the interview from the very informed anonymous gentleman about Turkey. To eliminate PhothoSynth croping, I suggest using a tripod and making sure to overlap the pictures (about 10-12 shots for a 360 view). Also, make sure to take all pictures at the same time, otherwise they will have different light exposures. Thank you for sharing and happy cruising.

  2. Great post, Ken! I love all the photos and would love to see more. I especially love when you tell us about the economy, healthcare, taxes, etc for each country you and Roberta stay in, from a local’s viewpoint.

  3. Ken and Roberta, THANK YOU so much for sharing your adventures, your lives, doggies, and lovely yacht with me! Whenever I see an email from “KensBlog,” I always get “butterflies of anticipation” at what I’ll find. This entry was so much fun and insightful, too. Sprinkled with events, photos (LOVE the 3-D as it makes me feel like I’m right there with you!), questions, and interviews, it is a “keeper” which I will return to again and again. (Question: Do you have an underwater camera? We have the Canon “PowerShot D10” which works well.)

    Turkey has always appealed to me and reading about your time and experience there makes me want to go even more. The people, the country, the culture seems to be calling me.

    I appreciate you including your sweet dogs and THEIR life on the boat as we plan to make Annie, our Jack Russell, a part of our dream to be on the water, exploring the world, on our Nordhavn. Know that you have elevated and inspired me!

    Warm regards…


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