[KensBlog] Good times, and some not so good times

Greetings all!

Roberta and I are now in Bodrum, Turkey..

This shows our journey so far. We’re slowly working our way north, and have covered just over 300 miles of coastline.

Roberta and I have had a good week, but not a perfect week.

As we work our way north and west, we are now in an area which is more exposed to the meltemi winds (high winds that last fordays). The winds aren’t really that bad, and are so pervasive in the summer that most of the boats around herejust ignore them and continue about their business. The gulets (chartered boats carrying tourists) don’t slow down. Theymay change where they anchor, in order to get better protection from the wind, but they don’t sit still.

Sans Souci is a very rugged boat, and probably one of the most seaworthy cruising these waters. So, with all that said,one would think that Roberta and I would not be affected by the wind at all. Well, that is not completely true.Boaters that are based here in this part of Turkey, and who routinely cruise these waters, know the drill. This is theirhome turf. They know where to anchor to avoid the wind. They are accustomed to entering the marinas in high wind.They’ve been Med mooring all their lives and, to them, it is natural. Roberta and I are by no means beginners, butwe are not so experienced that there isn’t more to learn.

Sans Souci, Med Moored, in Kucuk Cati

I mentioned in my last blog update that we anchored in a cove called Kucuk Cati. It was a tight location with not muchspace to maneuver,and anchoring was trickier than usual.

  1. The chart was wrong. I didn’t have much information about depths in the bay, and my chart plotter was showing the boat as driving on land (the chart wasn’t correctly positioned)
  2. The wind was high, causing ripples on the surface. This inhibited my ability to see rocks beneath the surface
  3. I’m relatively new at Med mooring (tying stern-to rocks).
The bottom line is that we did most things right, but erred in our choice of a location to anchor.

Sans Souci, stretched across the back of the bay, with our anchor out in front, and a line tied to shore in back. Note the direction of the wind and current. Wind and current on the boat’s nose is much less a problem than wind and current on the side (beam).

As you can see in the picture above, we anchored with our side to the wind. For some reason, while anchoring,I convinced myself this was not a problem. I had figured we were at the back of a well-protected cove, andthat hardly any wind would penetrate.

Once the wind started blowing, we were constantly rocked side to side, and miserable. Something had to be done, and there wastoo much wind to try to re-anchor.

Sans Souci, anchored at Kucuk Cati, after I loosened the stern line. Much better!

As a short-term fix, I loosened the stern (rear) line, that was stretching us across the back of the cove. This caused thebow of the boat to point into the wind, solving the problem. It put us closer to the reef, on our east (starboard) side,but unless our stern line let go, there was no way we could get to the reef. I doubled up the stern lines, for added safety,and settled in to wait out the weather.

This is how I should have tied the boat. This particular cove looked too tight when I entered the bay. I didn’t think there was any way that Sans Souci could fit. However, shortly after we tied up, I watched a large gulet tie for the night in this location and realized that we could have fit easily.

Another reason I ignored this cove was that I didn’t see any rocks on shore to which to tie my lines. The gulet solved this by running very long lines to the trees, up the hillside. Whereas the gulets have 20-year-old crew memmbers, I have only me, and I’d confess that I’m not as athletic as the young crew guys. They make it look effortless to scale rock walls, or trees, to find a place to tie a line. Oh well.. thirty-five years from now they’ll be my age, and I suspect they’ll also find it isn’t as easy as it used to be.

The bottom line: We were tied down in a wonderful location, unable to move, for four days. To our delight,the gulet that tied up just after us disappeared the next morning. We had three days of privacy.We had the place to ourselves.

I don’t want to make the wind seem any worse than it was. It was high, but wasn’t stopping us from having fun.I was 99% certain we could pull the anchor andgo elsewhere, or re-anchor safely. But, given the proximity of the reef, and the wind pushing us towards it, and, especiallygiven thatwe liked our little cove and were having a great time — we decided just to wait it out.

For three days, we swam, hot-tubbed, barbecued, sipped adult beverages, played with our computers, etc. We werenot suffering.

Finally, a morning came with no winds, and in minutes we were back at sea.

Our next stop was a small bay only a three-hour-run away, called Cokertme, across the Gulf of Gokova on the north side.

The bay at Cokertme. Large, with plenty of room to swing at anchor. There’s a few restaurants along the beach — and that’s about it.

Cokertme is a large well-protected bay. I wouldn’t call it particularly pretty. Boats anchor there tohave a place to hide from the winds, or as a mid-stop in the Gulf of Gokova — not as a destination. There are a number of restaurants lining the beach (four or five,I think), each with a dock that holds 10 to 20 boats. As boats enter the bay, someone from each restaurant runs to theend of their dock and waves madly, trying to guide each arriving boat to that restaurant’s dock. I ignored therestaurant docks, knowing that Sans Souci, with its heavy weight, and broad sides, would easily rip apart any oftheir docks in a high wind.

Once we had the anchor dropped, I wanted to take the tender and go visit the restaurants. My mission was to select onefor dinner. My other two objectives were to 1) grab lunch and, 2) find someone who would take our full trash bags.

I tendered to the nearest restaurant, ordered lunch, and was waiting for my food when Roberta called my cell phone,from Sans Souci. “Canyou come back to the boat right now? I’m worried we might be dragging anchor.” That’s the kind of call that gets yourattention! I wasn’t sure what to do, in that I had just ordered lunch minutes before.I chased down the waiter, and tried to explain that I had to go, and needed the check.However, he wasn’t understanding me.I decided to just put 50 turkish lira ($25 USD) on the table, and dash to the tender.

Whenever Sans Souci drops anchor, I place a circle onto the chart, based upon calculations of depth of anchor to amount of chain out. As Sans Souci moves, a blue line is traced on the chart. It’s like playing with crayons. Coloring outside the lines is a bad thing.

As I was tying the tender to the swim step of Sans Souci, the waiter appeared behind me in his own tender.He thought there must be an emergencyof some sort. I was still on the swim step, but could see no sign that the boatwas drifting. The waiter had the 50 turkish lira in hand, and tried to give meme the lunch money back, and I wouldn’t take it.Then he said, “Will bringyour lunch. 10 minutes.” I was in a hurry to get upstairs and find out if the boat was drifting.I was no longer in the mood for lunch, and told him. “No worries. Keep money.Don’t bring food. All ok.” He left in total confusion.

Once upstairs, I quickly realized all was fine. The standing orders on Sans Souci are that if there is any doubt,call me. Roberta was right to alert me if she had any doubt, and luckily it hadbeen a false alarm.

This is when she said, “Is that our tender drifting away!???”

In all of the confusion of talking to the waiter, dogs on the swim step barking,Roberta rushing me upstairs, me worried about Sans Souci, etc.,the tender had gotten poorly tied. In 30 years of boating we’ve never mis-tied a tender, but .. now, we had. I dashed downthe stairs, peeling off shirt and shoes as I went, and dove into the water.

The winds were calmer than they had been, but still in the 15-20 knot range, and strong enough to move a littletender very quickly. I had trouble keeping up with it! What started as a 50-yard swim quickly became a 100-yard swim. And,as I reached the tender, I suddenly realized I hadn’t thought through what to do once I got there.Someday, try to swim as fast as you can for 100 yards,then try to get into a tender from in the water – without a swim step to help you! It’s tougher than it sounds. My alternative was to try to swim backwards,towing the tender,upwind, to the boat, whichwas getting farther away rapidly. My first few attempts to get into the tender didn’t go very well.

I heard a noise behind me, and turned around. It was my new best friend, the waiter, in his tender.He motioned for me to throw himthe line to the tender, which I did, and he took off pulling the tender towards the boat. I quickly grabbed a handle on thetender, and bodysurfed my way back to the boat. Once back at the boat, while retying the tender, I asked Roberta to grab a 20Turkish lira note. The waiter refused to take the tip, and seemed very serious about it, but I was firm, and he finally relented.

In case you are wondering, I decided to have lunch on Sans Souci.

“Did you identify a restaurant for dinner?” Roberta asked. The waiter had come from a restaurant called “Rosemary’s” so I said,”I think we have no choice. We’re having dinner at Rosemary’s, and I plan to eat there this time. Besides, he also said he would take our trash!”

One of the restaurants on the beach had this as their sign. I thought it was funny that their sign advertised “Slow Food.” I wonder if this works at bringing in customers.

Waterfront dining at Rosemary’s restaurant in the bay of Cokertme. I was told that the restaurants in this bay will deliver dinner to your boat if you ask, but since I don’t speak Turkish, I didn’t want to try.

Welcome to Bodrum!

After only one night in Cokertme we were ready to move on. Our next stop was Bodrum, and it is a major town.The doggies hadn’t been on land, other than our brief dinner at Rosemary’s, in nearly a week. Civilization sounded good!

Sans Souci, anchored in front of Bodrum Castle – from medieval days, built by the Knights of Rhodes. We were warned that the anchorage would be in front of the “party zone,” and to expect lots of loud music, light shows and action, throughout the night.

Bodrum, called Hallicarnassus in ancient times, somewhat reminded me of where Roberta and I live in Mexico (Cabo San Lucas),in that there are two Bodrums: There is the tourist town, full of extreme nightlife where tourists go to party all night, souvenir shops, and so-so restaurants, cafes and bars. Then, there is the other Bodrum, less obvious to run-of-the-mill tourists. This other Bodrum is quite upscale, with excellent restaurants, amenities, and a very livable, beautifulcommunity.

There’s another thing about Bodrum that I’ve noticed, which is different from other places we’ve visited previously…

As we’ve moved north, where the winds seem stronger, we’ve seen fewer chartered sailboats. Further south, most of theboats around us were small, chartered sailboats or smaller gulets, loaded primarily with French, German or British tourists.Here, 90% of the boats we see are large, beautiful gulets.Whereas further south there is less wind, and the bays and coves are closer together for good anchoring, we’re now in anarea which isn’t quite as easy for cruising, and distances to get from one place to another are farther.

We’ve seen two Starbucks already in Bodrum, including this one on the waterfront, next to the castle. How many Starbucks allow you to tie your tender in front? Roberta is very happy.

As we were tying the tender, I noticed a topless lady standing nearby on the beach, and another lying a little further down. I’ve seen a lot of casual dress (and less) at anchor, but it was unusual to see this in the heart of town, in a Muslim country.

There are two Bodrums; the wild and crazy tourist town, and the more sophisticated, upscale community.

Hiking around town not far from the castle, we passed a Spanish restaurant (La Pasion) located inside a beautiful courtyard. We were in the mood for something different and reserved a tableimmediately. We asked if they would take the dogs, and they said, “No problem.” Dinner was excellent. We enjoyed various tapas and shared a wonderful beef paella!

And on a completely different topic…

I will sidetrack for a second and mention our tender. We use it to go back and forth to shore, often severaltimes a day. We have two, but I don’t really like the little one, and consider it our emergency backup.

Sans Souci’s tender has been through a lot, and is starting to show it!

The tube to our tender looks like it has been through a war. It was gaffed (stabbed) in the Aleutian Islands andhas had leaks repaired several times. I’ve seen hippies with fewer patches on their jeans than our tender!Over the years, various lifting accidents have ripped off the radio, and pulled loose the chrome handles. The straps on thebimini top have been replaced several times, and the tie downs for the bimini top seem perpetually to crumble apart withrust. Through all of this, it has never failed to start, or get us where we want to go.

Last week, I started exploring what it would cost for a new tube. Jeff, who works on my boat in the off season, said, “Ken.That tender has been through hell. There’s only about a $3,000 or $4,000 difference between replacing the tube and gettinga whole new tender.” The comment caught me off guard. I still think of Sans Souci as a ‘new’ boat! I have mylocal Turkish repesentative looking for a new tube for the tender now. I don’t know if we’ll get a new tender, or justa new tube. I was thinking just a new tube, but…maybe Jeff is right. This tender has a lot of miles on it. If we do replace it,I would like to try something different. I’m tired of dealing with inflatable tubes, and may explore other options,but Roberta has a good point in that the tender (An AB Inflatables, 15DLX) hasbeen reliable and solid – and is not so heavy; her and I have no trouble lifting and lowering it ourselves (using the davit) to/from the bow.

I recently installed a new swivel on my anchor and it already has failed.

And, as long as I’m talking about technical issues, I should mention that my new anchor swivel, intended to help theanchor rotate into the correct position for retrieval, and installed just a few weeks ago,is already flaky. At my next opportunity I’ll do what I should have done a couple weeks ago, andeliminate it entirely. It kinks when bringing up the anchor, and the anchor is backwards when I’m trying to getit lifted onto the bowsprit. The anchor weighs 350 pounds, so twisting it to the right position using a boathook (a longaluminum pole with a hook on the end) isn’t easy.

A Very Blustery Day

Our respite from the meltemi winds was unfortunately short-lived. On our second day in Bodrum the wind started picking up, andeach day has been worse. Our next passage will take us 40 miles north to a marina called “D-Marin Didim.” I’m not as worried aboutthe wind here in Bodrum, or the passage to Didim, as I am about our arrival into the Didim marina. Robertahas a sports injury to her right shoulder (impingement syndrome) which has limited her ability to assist in mooring. Because of pain, she has difficultyworking the lines and hauling around fenders. So, she’s mainly been maneuvering the boat while anchoring, coming into/leaving coves, bays, etc. And positioning and holding the boat while stern-tying. (She’s getting good at driving the boat!) We’re newbies at Med mooring in ports and marinas, anddoing so with only two of us is difficult. With Roberta’s ability to work lines severely limited, and with high winds,I’m not sure we can get into the Didim marina. Our plan is to stay in Bodrum until the winds calm, which should be in a day or two.

Our third day got off to an interesting start. In the pictures above, I noticed that the smaller of the two boats was drifting to the larger gulet. And, both seemed to be drifting towards Sans Souci.

To prepare for the forecasted high winds, Roberta and I re-anchored the boat. Our anchor was well set,but we were in the thick of the action, with too many boats around us. Thus, while things were still relatively calm,we chose a location away from other boats, and dropped the hook. With 20/20 hindsight, a location upwind of other boatsmight have been the better choice, because within minutes of dropping anchor, I noticed two boats driftingour direction! In the pictures above, the smaller boat was pulling his anchor, when instead of his ownanchor coming up, the anchor of a nearby gulet came to the surface, tangled in his anchor chain. This left bothboats drifting, umbilical-corded together.

I have always wondered what would happen if this ever happened to me, so I watched as they worked it out.The process was actually simpler than I expected. They tied the gulet’s anchor to the bow of the smaller boat,and lowered thechain back into the water. This took the weight off the anchor, and allowed them to work, from a tender, to untangle the chain.Once untangled, they were able to lower the anchor back into the water, and the two boats were separated. It took about an hour.Had it occurred an hour later, when the wind became higher, someone would have had a bad day.

As night arrived, the wind picked up strength. Whereas we had anchored away from other boats, dozens of new boats arrived to fill any gaps. By nightfall, we were surrounded on all sides by boats. What is surprising is that the boats you see on this radar display are constantly coming and going. During the day, it seems like every 10 minutes, another boat comes or goes from this anchorage.

And, most annoyingly, the action doesn’t stop at night. There are huge boats that are essentially floating dance floors with blaring music, that circle the anchorage at night. There are also “booze cruises” which seem to take pleasure in zig-zagging at high speed through the boats at anchor. I am constantly worrying that one of them will snag our anchor chain.

As Roberta and I settled down for the night to watch television, I thought I noticed motion out the window.I paused the TV, and stepped outside for a better look. There was an unlit boat (Roberta and I called it the ghost ship)moving silently through the otherboats. It was too dark to actually see it. All I could see was the silhouette of the boatagainst the anchored boats behind it and the pulsating disco lights on the shoreline.The boat seemed to be gaining speed with the wind, and was heading directly toward a 120’motorsailer anchored next to me. There was over 25 knots of wind, with gusts over 30. Wind-force isexponential, not a straight line. Remember your highschool physics?, and the old E=MC squared formula?In other words, a 20 knot wind is far stronger than that of a 10 knot wind, and a 30 knot windis no fun at all. The boats in the anchorage weresailing back and forth, on their anchors, as they were pushed back and forth by the wind. One power boat,anchored in front of me, was sailing back and forth in a wide arc, as though it were running at full speed; left, right, left,right…

My first reaction was, “Why doesn’t that gulet have on any lights?” And, my second reaction was…

“Oh crap! I bet heis dragging anchor!”

The lack of lights and steering indicated that no one was at the helm.The motorsailer had apparently noticed the potential for a collision, because suddenly their tenderlit up and was rushing towards the ghost ship. Minutes later several other tendersalso started racing towards the ship. It passed between Sans Souci and the motorsailer still with no apparent life,and was headed towards open sea.

I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but while the ghost ship-gulet was circled by tenders, lights appeared in itsmasts. I don’t know if the crew woke up on their own, or if the other tenders somehow woke them, or if the problem had beenmechanical, rather than an anchor that dragged. In any event, I am amazed that no one was hurt.

Once the lights appeared on the gulet, it was able to maneuver back to the anchorage and drop anchor for the night — right infront of us! The odds weren’t good that it would drag anchor twice in one night, but then again, we already knewhis anchor wasn’t the best. And, to no great surprise, as soon as his anchor was down,he turned out all lights on the gulet, and it was dark again.

This is the “ghost ship” seen in the light of day. It’s not nearly as frightening with the lights on!

The gulets are somewhat a modern invention. Although they look like they have been around for thousands of years, and are loosely based on ancient ships, the gulets as they exist today, date back only to the 1970s. They were designed to carry tourists, and appeal to tourists. Although they all have sailing masts, I can’t remember ever seeing one sail, and suspect that many of them couldn’t sail if they had to.


As I type this, we are still sitting at anchor, waiting for a clean weather report for our trip to Didim. It’s a town nearsome of the key historic sites in Turkey, like Ephesus. My guess is that we are stuck for the next three days, but,as usual, even though I whine about the weather, things aren’t so bad. In fact, both Roberta and I have said that weare very impressed with Bodrum, and understand why it is so popular. If we lived on thisend of the planet, this is a town we could live in. There’s good weather, great restaurants (we’ve dined in three now),worldclass boating, great people, and plenty to do. Once we are safely tucked into the marina at Didim, we plan to drive – by car! — back here in order to visit the many historical sights that Bodrum has to offer.

Reader Mail

Email from Nicholas M

Hi Ken and Roberta !

Stop apologizing on the length of your blogs ! They are just amazing !

I’m 33, and reading your stories literally makes me drift away to Turkey !

I think you had me with boating now. I never considered boating as a hobby/way to go on vacation before I started reading your blog. Maybe I’ll consider trying it to see if I like it or not, when the kids will be old enough to follow us.

I’m a private pilot, I like reading your comments on the weather. I do understand what a gusting 27 knots wind is ! Navigation is very similar. You move through moving waters, I fly through moving air. Heading, currents, waves, winds also apply to flying. You can have shallow waters, I can fly too low near a very high antenna. Results may vary however ;P

I’ll be in Corsica in August for a week. Lots of boats there. Do you plan ever going to Corsica or Sardegna one day ?

Have fun in Turkey, I wish you guys the best.

P.S. Does Turkey produce some Wine ? how is it ?

Nicolas MCanadian follower

Response from Ken — Nicolas, Yes! We are working our way towards Corsica and Sardinia. Realistically, it willbe a couple years before we get there. And, as to wine, we’ve been quite impressed! We’ve been drinking thehigher-end, but stillfairly inexpensive (about $40-50 USD per bottle) Turkish wines, usually Cabernet/Merlot blends. There are foreign winesavailable here, but they are heavily taxed (at least double the normal price), and not worth the steep premium.

Email from Steve L

Loving your blog! Can’t recommend Symi enough. You are so very close. Steve L

Response from Ken — Steve, we decided to put off Symi, and all of Greece, until next year. It was painful tocruise past Symi and not be able to stop, but I didn’t want all the hassle of clearing in and out of Greece.

Email from Cody M

[…] I was reading your blog and it’s not a big deal or anything but I just wanted to inform you thatsome states in the US do require a license to operate a boat. Being a resident and boater in Oregon,I know everyone in Oregon needs to take a sort of test before you’re handed your license.I’m pretty sure you need one in Washington as well. The government were rolling it out slowly to peopledepending on their age. I’m pretty sure everyone in Oregon has to have one now to operate a boat.Washington may not have rolled it out completely yet, though.Anyways, like I said, it’s not a big deal but I just thought I’d bring it to your attention.

I hope to be in your shoes one day on my own Nordhavn and cruising the world.

Happy cruising! -Cody

P.S. Everyone under 40 years old operating a boat with at least 15hp motor must have a boater’s license. http://www.boaterexam.com/usa/

Response from Ken — Cody, this is the first I’ve heard this. It’s great news!

Email from Pascal L

Why can’t I see any pictures in the blog?

Response from Ken — Pascal, some email programs remove all pictures from emails, such as thenewer versions of Outlook. This is to protect your computer from attackes by hackers. There is usually a wayto see the pictures, for instance, on Outlook, usually all you need to do is click on the warningmessage at the top of the email. If this doesn’t work, you can always do it the easy way — go to my website:www.kensblog.com and click on the first blog entry.

That’s it for this week!

Thank you!
Ken Williams

PS There are no 360 view pictures this time. I took several, but none were good enough to post.

As a reference for future cruisers, here’s a map to the locations in this blog:

View Kensblog – Gokova to Bodrum in a larger map

2 Responses

  1. Ken, is everything ok? You haven’t posted in awhile. Has Roberta thrown you overboard? Have you hit a rock? Run out of wine? Need bail money? 🙂 please post soon with pics!

    *****Response by Ken – 2012-08-11 *****

    Dan, Thank you for asking … but, the only problem is I seem to have caught a horrible disease, called “laziness.” I’m trying to shake it off today, and start writing. With a little luck there’ll be a new blog entry later today! (Sadly, not a great one, as not much has happened)

    -Ken W

  2. Hi Dad,

    “Slow Food” is a real thing. It’s quite popular, actually! It means … a mellow good time, with excellent quality food, by people that care (and are in the know!). I recommend you eat anywhere promoting “slow food”. It’s the good stuff!

    I don’t know if this is what your particular restaurant meant, but … it’s a good thing and fun to share.  So … here ya go!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org… (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c0/SlowFood.png) “/>

    Slow Food is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. More … > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food)

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