[KensBlog] Our first cruising in Turkey!

Greetings all! 

Roberta and I are currently in Gocek Turkey, on the boat!

Note: Click on the pictures to make them bigger

After cruising many thousands of miles the past few years, we decided to relax this summer, and spend less time on the boat. That said, we really had no option. Wehad some family issues to deal with, and have two new puppies who needed to do some growing, and get through their various shots, before we could take them on the boat. 

Getting to the boat was an adventure in itself… 

For flying, the dogs each have a little carrier bag. We’ve also found that restaurants in Europe almost always let us in, with the dogs, when they are in their little suitcases

Some airlines allow dogs to travel inside the plane with you. We were able to get a Delta flight which permits dogs, from New York to Nice, France.

We spent the month of August in a rented house in France, just outside Monaco. I summarized our time in France by telling people that I believe it is physically impossible to be any lazier. It was perfection.

From France we drove through Italy, with stops in Venice, Tuscany, Sienna, Rome and Bari, and took a ferry to Greece…. 

Our ferry from Bari, Italy to Greece, was actually quite luxurious. Although it seemed to primarily be oriented towards moving large trucks, there were a limited number of cabins for passengers. The trip took 18 hours, and we had a sleeper cabinthat allowed the dogs to stay with us. It was a very nice trip, and even had wifi!


*One of the best things about Europe is their relaxed attitude about dogs. Here we are in Italy, across form the Parthenon, with the dogs enjoying dinner.

I was curious to see Greece, partially to see the effect of their economic crisis. A cab driver told us that the official estimate of unemployment was at 16-20%, but that he believed it was much higher. We saw graffiti everywhere, and I noted on the menu that the VAT tax (their national sales tax) was rising atsuch a rapid space that the percentage was changing faster than menus could be printed. 23%! Ouch.

Our departure from Athens was made particularly interesting by the daily appearance ofthousands of protestors, and riot police. The streets were blocked each day, and our hotel surrounded. We weren’t sure we would be able to leave to catch our ferry. The protest finished, peacefully, as we were starting to plan a departure on foot, sneaking our way through the crowd to wherever a taxi might be found.

Hopefully Greece will resolve its problems. At a minimum, hopefully ALL other countrieswill learn from their experience. 

After coming all the way from the US, on a combination of planes, ferries, and cars, we finally hit our first issue with the dogs…

The ferry to Turkey didn’t want the dogs inside the boat.They almost refused us, which would have been a disaster. After a flurry ofdiscussion amongst themselves, they agreed to allow Roberta to sit OUTSIDE  the ferry,with the dogs, and me to sit inside. They relented after a few minutes, allowingme to accompany Roberta outside the ferry, on the tiny port stern deck. It wasn’t a big deal, and only a short 1 hour trip. Overall, the trip to Turkey was tremendous.The ferry crew was very nice and brought water for the dogs, and Snicker barsfor each of us.

Our arrival to the boat was perfect. The boat was spotless clean. Roberta pointed out that it had been over a year since she had last seen the boat. I was here in Turkey, in May, to offload the boat from the freighter that delivered it here from Hong Kong, but Roberta did not accompany me.

One of the popular definitions of world cruising is, “Working on boats in exotic places,” and Sans Souci met this goal.

Although the boat was very well taken care of in the off season, boats don’t like to sit. Boats are happiest when they are being used.

In the days prior to our trip I was alerted that our shore power system (called Atlas) had stopped working.  I hired a local Gocek-based boat maintenance company to watch over my boat during the off season (Emek Marin) The Atlas is critical in that without it, shorepower cannot reach the boat. It is a complicated, and expensive device. Within minutes of looking at these PDFs (Sans Souci Atlas (Part 1), Sans Souci Atlas (Part 2)) I knew that something major was wrong, and it was time to bring in the experts. I arranged to have an Atlas expert flown in from London.

This circuit board needed replaced, and was buried deep within the Atlas

I will never know how or why, but some sort of electrical event must haveoccurred during our absence. My best guess is that the shore power went out, andwhen it came back on, a circuit board on the Atlas fried.Something sent a surge of electricity throughout the boat, killing many other electronics as it went. Perhaps it was the Atlas dying, or perhaps there was a nearby lightning strike.Something electrical happened on Sans Souci.

The list of electrical problems on Sans Souci is very long. Every GFI electrical outlet on the boat was tripped. We have aKaleidescape media system (essentially an online video jukebox). Three of the $2,500 players are dead. Two pumps on the hot tub arefried. An uninterruptible power supply is dead. The davit remote control failed.

I doubt it was lightning, although, perhaps it was. There was a boat a few slips away that was hitby lightning…

I’ve been thinking about lightning because THREE Nordhavns were struck by lightning this year. Click here to read a report that one Nordhavn owner posted on his blog, about one of the lightning strikes.

As bad as this sounds, overall, things are in very good shape aboard Sans Souci. I asked Jeff Sanson, fromPacific Yacht Management, to fly to Turkey, in anticipation of our arrival, to make sure everything on the boat was perfect prior to our arrival. Jeff had a couple of busy days, working with RizaCagdas, the local boat caretaker, but most repairs were already complete when we arrived.

One of the projects I gave Jeff, to have complete before we arrived, was to fuel the boat…

I had let the boat run almost dry, when in Hong Kong, at the request of the freight company, who wanted the boat as light as possible for transport. I had been advised that I could save a couple of dollars per gallon, by clearing the boat out of Turkey, and then fueling the boat, with the boat still in Turkey, but with its status changed to an international boat transiting Turkey. The boat would then need to go to Greece, and clear in, stay a few hours, and return to Turkey. Sans Souci takes a lot of fuel, so this was tempting, but I decided it was too complicated. I did this in Japan, and it created more complexity than was justified by the money it saved.

As it turned out, I’m very happy that Jeff had the pleasure of fueling the boat,not me. I was in Greece at the time, but speaking to him hourly by cell phone. After several hoursof fueling had passed I said to Jeff, “If you don’t hustle you will have to return to port after dark.” In extreme frustration Jeff responded, “Ken, I can p** faster than this station can pump diesel!”

To test the systems we decided to do a small, overnight, shakedown cruise, and take Jeff along.

Leaving the dock was much simpler than expected….

In Europe boats generally Med Moor. Roberta and I have some experience with Med Mooring, from when ourprior boat was based in France. However, the last time we Med Moored was over five years ago, and the technique varies from country to country, and even marina to marina.

The concept is very simple. If you’ll forgive my lack of art talent, the diagram above gives the overview. “C” and “D” on this diagram represent lines, which hold the bow of the boat, and extend to the basin of the marina. Here in Gocek, the bottom of the marina is over 80 feet down! Lines “A” and “B” extend aft to the dock. To leave the marina I backed up the boat, while someone on the dock threw us lines “A” and “B”. I was worried that I’d immediately be sling-shotted forward, but it wasn’t that bad. I crept forward, while Roberta untied the bow lines, and tossed them overboard, into the water.We were free!

We selected an anchorage only about seven miles away…

I haven’t seen enough of Turkey to make generalizations, but the American definition of an anchorage, and the Turkish definition, are quite different.

As I idled my way into different bays, I noticed that all of the boats were Med Moored(backed up to shore, rather than anchored in the middle of the bay.) The bays were deep! The first bay I entered averaged over 500 feet deep. On my chart the depth was supposed to get to 60 feet, close to shore, but as I practically touched shore, I was still in over 100 feet of water, and couldn’t find anything shallow enough to anchor. There were plenty of boats in the bay, all with their anchor dropped in over 100 feet of water, and backed to shore, and then tied. Most had a single anchor down in the front, and a single line holding them to shore at the back. The larger boats had run two or more lines to shore, and tightened the lines sotight that they were solidly locked in place.

I noticed another bay with depths of 80 to 120 feet. I knew that I should try“med mooring to shore” like everyone else, but wanted to watch others do itbefore trying myself.

My first reaction was, “They must know something I don’t.” But, what? I studied the charts (paper, Nobeltec and Navnet 3d). Nothing was indicated anywhere. The depth in the bay was just over 100 feet, which was deep for anchoring, but the weather forecast was clear, so I dropped the anchor.

I’ve seen a lot of American flags on boats in Turkey, but not a lot of Americans. For tax purposes, some Turkish flag their boats American (or, so I’ve been told)

No one seemed to care, and I heard no alarms, so I relaxed. It was now a waiting game. I wanted to watch other boats come and go.

We had noted that some of the boats were held in place, at the bow, by orange mooring buoys.

There are a couple of problems with Sans Souci and mooring balls; 1) Sans Souci’s bow is about 12 feet off the water. Capturing a mooring ball isn’t easy. If I use one I’ll need to put Roberta on the aft swim platform, and backup to the mooring ball, have her attach a line, then walk the ball to the front of the boat. And, 2) I’m not sure how well the mooringballs are attached to the bottom. Sans Souci weighs 120 tons, and Turkey can have strong winds. Until I see some other large boats using the mooring balls, I prefer to trust my anchor.

I had assumed that the boats were tying to shore via lines to trees. However, when I looked through binoculars, there were cleats, and mooring posts scattered around the bay! Very handy.

[Note: James and Jennifer Hamilton wrote a good article on stern tying in the Pacific NW, which can be read by CLICKING HERE.]

I watched a couple of large boats moor, and was surprised at how far out they dropped their anchor. It’s impossible (at least for me) to accurately measure distances from on a boat, but it looked likethis boat, in the picture above, went at least 300 feet from shore to drop his anchor, then backed toward shore. In the picture above you see the tender being sent to shore to place the stern lines. Once placed, and windlass-tightened, this boat pulled forward so that the stern lines were tight.

I asked a local Turkish boater about why the boats don’t just anchor in the middle of the bay. His response wasn’t as interesting as his confusion about why I was even asking. He clearly felt the preferred, and ‘normal’ approach to anchoring was to attach to shore. He felt that dropping anchor without attaching to shore would mean spinning in circles, and lead to passenger seasickness, and discomfort. I asked about wind, and he responded that a boat should not be left unattended, attached to shore, for long periods, as winds can come up, and create a problem.

Once at anchor, we dropped the tender for some exploring.

I try not to form opinions on cruising grounds too quickly. It always bugs me when tourists visit a country for a few days, and think they have seen the country. Part of our cruising goal is to spend enough time in various countries to see them from the ‘inside’. So, with that caveat, I’ll say that there are already some things about cruising Turkey that are quite appealing.

Here are a few criteria for determining if a place is good to cruise (at least, this is my list):

– Access to repair facilities
– Interesting coves and bays to explore
– Warm water!
– Pretty beaches
– Clean, clear, water
– Towns with good services/facilities & grocery stores.
– Civilization nearby, if you want it, but a world away if you don’t
– Beachfront restaurants
– Long cruising season
– Minimal bureaucratic hassle (getting the boat in/out of the country, getting us in/out of the country, dog quarantine issues, visa issues, getting parts into the country)
– Safety
– Calm cruising conditions
– Friendly people
– Easy to communicate

Thus far, Turkey is scoring well on all fronts, but with one night at anchor, I am far from an expert, so, we shall see. I did like that we cruised three bays, and saw three beachfront restaurants, and felt that we were in the boondocks, while really only a tender ride from a ‘big’ city.

Several vendors dropped by the boat; someone selling fish, someone with ice cream, and this lady with breads. She didn’t speak much english so we just pointed. We got some amazing freshly baked bread, and some orange-flavored cake that completely disappeared in minutes.

And, speaking of tender rides…

During our first night at anchor, after dark, as we were sitting on the aft deck having dinner, tenders kept whizzing past at maximum speed. We were passed by at least ten tenders doing over 20 knots, including one that looked to be doing 40 knots. We were in the bay at St Tropez,France, one night several years ago,when a tender smacked into the side of a boat at anchor (fatally). Given that the local boats aren’t accustomed to seeing boats anchored away from shore, and I was sitting in the center of the bay, I lit Sans Souci like a Christmas treefor the entire night. Jeff speculated that we were seeing the crews from the various boats heading into town to ‘hit the bars.’ He may have been right. I have no idea…

Sans Souci’s crew, in their uniforms, ready for action

And, speaking of crew…

As is common in Europe, essentially every powerboat around us has professional crew. I’m sure there are a few other owner/operators here, somewhere, but I haven’t seen them yet.

And, speaking of warm water…

Pictures do not do justice to the water. It is absolutely perfect. Blue, and clear.

The water temperature is 83.5 degrees! Think “bath water” only cleaner.

However, Roberta’s and my first swimming experience was not perfect. Jeff said, “Let’s swim!” and dived in the water. Roberta and I went to throw on our swim suits, and by the time we reached the swim step Jeff was drying off. He said the water was great, and we should dive in. When I looked down, it was wall to wall jellyfish! They were small, only about 6 inches each. My first thought was, “I’m not going in there.” And, my second thought was, “Oh cr^p. I’ll be cleaning those out of the sea strainers later today.” Was this a problem everywhere in Turkey? I doubted it, because we had seen many swimmers. A couple of hours later, I checked the water again, and didn’t see one jellyfish. It was apparently just a school of them, who had dropped by. We were busy working on the boat, so the opportunity for a swim had passed. But, next week, when we are cruising for real, I plan to spend plenty of time in the water.

And something else nice about the warm water…

Sans Souci’s upper aft deck lockers are full of survival suits. The big bright red gumby outfits, that will save our lives if we ever have to jump overboard while at sea. In 83 degree water, a life jacket will keep us floating, so the survival suits can be stowed. They are now in the chain locker, where they can be forgotten for a few years, and valuable storage space can be reclaimed.

And speaking of bureaucracy…

Turkey is not an EU country. The currency here is the Turkish Lira, not the Euro. Turkey is in the process of becoming part of the EU, but it’s a long, complicated process, and may or may not ever complete. The EU itself is a bit of a mess, and whether it is likely to add members, or lose members, depends on who you ask.

I mention this because one topic that has been on my mind is something called “The Schengen Treaty.” It is a treaty signed by many of the countries that are part of the EU, including those countries we plan to be cruising over the next few years. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but succinctly put, Schengen limits non-EU citizens to only being within the EU to 90 days out of each 180 day period. For us, as cruisers, who want to be on our boat four to six months a year, this is a major problem. I know of several cruisers who have altered cruising plans and gone elsewhere, rather than fight Schengen. I’ve also heard of cruisers being fined because of Schengen.

We’re still a year or two from entering our first EU country (Greece), so this is not currently a problem for us. However, next year, or the year after, it will be a factor. I’ve spoken with lawyers, and other cruisers, and there is no consensus as to what a solution might be.

Amusingly, the one thing most everyone agrees on is that, “It won’t be a problem.” There is agreement as to what Schengen says, but disagreement over whether or not it is enforced. It seems to vary with the country and the official.

I’m compulsive on trying to follow the rules, and can’t imagine being in a country illegally. My current plan is to apply for a long-stay visa, and see if that works. I spoke with an attorney who was firm that this would not trigger residency for purposes of VAT tax (basically a sales tax on importing the boat). Whether or not this strategy works. I do not know. Things are changing rapidly, so hopefully this will be a non-issue, or someone else will have found the solution, by the time our boat reaches the EU.

This email excerpt from another cruiser summarizes the situation well:

 “…about the dreaded Schengen. [] and I have been lucky as we both have NZ and EU passports
so have been travelling on our EU ones.

However we know heaps of ‘foreign’ passport holders and no one has had trouble at all.  The main problem in Europe is finding someone to actually check you in if you arrive by boat,
so 99% give up after the first couple of attempts., and just float around.

I have asked boats here with us in Rabat (Australian and American)  their experiences and all said no problem on the boat, the problems
occur if you leave the boat and want to fly out as you do not have an  entry stamp and the airport officials do not know what to do with

It sure is a real grey area and all countries seem to have a different  interpretation of it but none really seem bothered enough to even
think about enforcing it. Still – that is now, and things change so quickly. You do need to check in to Greece, we never checked out of
there, but otherwise the only others that require checkin are non-EU anyway; Croatia, Montenegro, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia.

Good luck, and hope you can fly under the radar!!!…”

And, as Roberta and I were pulling anchor to return to port…

I noticed that the anchor windlass felt wimpy. I tested the thrusters and they were very weak. To pull the anchor I had to increase the throttle on the engines. Something didn’t feel right.

As we were running back to port, I experimented with the two different engines, independently, to see if one engine or the other was producing less hydraulic power. I noted that the stabilizers were complaining of low hydraulic pressure, and soon discovered that the hydraulic pump on the starboard engine wasn’t working at all.

An engine room check showed that there was no fluid in the bilge, and the hydraulic oil tank showed as full. I’m taking this as good news, and am certain it is nothing more than something messed up electrically. I’m pressing the button, but the hydraulic pump is not engaging on the starboard engine. No problem. I’ll figure it out.I just hope it doesn’t create a delay for us.

This would mean my first return to port, and Med Mooring experience would be without thrusters. With twin engines, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem, but it certainly adds complexity.

Med Mooring was simpler than expected. A tender from the marina passed us a single bow line (which the tender had retrieved from the bottom of the marina basin.) This was attached at the bow, and kept the bow steady. We then backed to the dock and attached a couple of stern lines. The marina tender then handed up the other bow line, and we started the process of putting ourselves into position.

Sans Souci’s stern needs to be approximately six feet from the dock. Any closer, and the boat runs the risk of bumping the dock in high-winds. Any further, and the gang plank (passarelle) won’t reach the dock. The bow and the stern lines need to be taut. Because nothing is holding the boat on the sides, the boat can move in high wind. Thus, the lines need to be as tight as you make them.

To tension the lines, I used the windlasses. However, once the lines are taut, the lines should not be left on the windlass, as it can be tough on the windlass.

I’m not sure of the proper technique for removing a line from a windlass, so I’ll describe the technique I use…

The trick is to move a line, which is under heavy pressure, from a windlass, to a cleat, without allowing the line to go slack. For this, I have a special knot I use, which usually works to keep a line secure long enough to move it from one place to another. The picture above shows what I do. It only takes a minute, and a smaller piece of line, with which to wrap the larger dock line.The small line is then secured to some cleat while the larger line is untied.

Roberta and I will use the next few days to get the boat provisioned and ready for cruising. We currently have no idea where we are going, but only havethree weeks, so we aren’t going far. Also, our GSSR friends (Grey Pearl and Seabird) will be joining us next year, so we want to save much of the exploration for when they arrive.[Note: Grey Pearl, and Seabird, are also getting underway this week. Watchhttp://www.seabirdlrc.com, andhttp://greypearl.talkspot.com forupdates on their progress]

Lastly, please accept my apologies for the length of this blog entry. It hasbeen a while since we’ve been on the boat, and I’ve gotten lazy about blogging.There was a lot to get caught up on. Expect more, but shorter, blog entries, inthe future.

Ken Williams
Sans Souci, Nordhavn 68

PS The anniversary of 9/11 was a couple of weeks ago, and I was sent a video which I had never seen, and found interesting. It shows how the New York boating community came together on 9/11 to spontaneously evacuate nearly 500,000 people (reported) in around 9 hours. In the video (narrated by Tom Hanks) they point out that the evacuation was larger than the WWII evacuation at Dunkirk.


11 Responses

  1. Tom sounds like a socialist in it pure form and Thank God the Great Country of the USA is not Socialist yet? I would hate to think we would end up like Europe/France/Greece but we are heading down that road with People/Politicians that think like Tom here. Absolutely crazy thinking, here Roberta and Ken work their tails off to build an incredible business so they can live the “American Dream” but you suggest to give it all away? Typical socialists point of view from someone that can’t make it in the real world. WHY would any entrepreneurial person be motivated to do what they did in business if it was to give it all the “the government” and redistribute the wealth?
    EVERYONE is responsible for themselves (NOT the GOVERNMENT) We as a people are responsible for those less fortunate (NOT the GOVERNMENT). They are there to Govern, NOT lead, it is people’s Best Thinking like tom’s that got the US into this mess we are in.
    KEN AND ROBERTA you are to be Saluted and admired and a Inspiration to all of us Entrepreneurs trying to make our mark our there.

  2. tom, ken and roberta are self made american entrepreneurs, you know, the ones that contribute to the wealth of america not ex bank CEO’s. show a little respect. jon

  3. Been following your journey for awhile..very interesting.
    However, I’m not sure why you wealthy Americans are spending
    your cash in Europe?
    With the economic climate in the U.S.A., I would think you
    would be boating in the states, you know, helping out American
    Better yey, perhaps you should consider selling your yacht,
    and giving the cash directly to President Obama so he could
    “re-distribute” the wealth?.

  4. A co-worker was in SW Turkey the week before your arrival and he reported about a huge thunderstorm that he “hasn’t seen before”. The hotel lost power and they had to start a huge generator to repower it. I saw it live on the internet. The whole SW was covered with dots that represent lightning strikes.
    Live lightning in EU and the whole Med: http://www.blitzortung.org/ (http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en) I guess you got a surge from shorepower.

  5. Thrilled to see you on-line again Ken. I have read your blog for some time but never commented. I do so enjoy living vicariously through your words since my inland lake 18 footer is quite a different experience! I look forward to more posts.

  6. Ken and Roberta-

    Glad to hear you’ve reunited with Sans Souci and will continue cruising. I’m excited to read about your travels in Europe. Missing Shelby but excited to see how the new dogs will fare on the boat. Safe travels. Write often. We’ll be reading.

  7. Ken and Robertta:

    A special thank you for the link to the “boatlift” video. A true testament to the camaraderie and value of the boating community. All the best.

    George and Pam
    M/V Ocean Lady

  8. Hello Ken,

    And speaking of bureaucracy…

    What is the problem with the “Schengen Rules”? If you want to stay longer than 90 days in the EU you only have to ask for a visa. I thing the cost are not as high as in the US – 140 US$.

    And even the visa-free entrance is much easier than the proceedure at the US-Border. Do you thing we need a special “Lex Americanus”?

    If you are interested about US immigration rules: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/)

  9. Great to have you back! Regarding the low hydraulic power, if this was an automobile system my suspects would include air in the system: and a breakdown of the fluid. Can it/should it be bled?

    By the way, I’d call your windlass-line-moving knot a prusik.

  10. I’ve been following your blog since I discovered it more than a year ago. I am happy to see that you are back at it again and the dogs look wonderful. Patiently waiting for more, Thank you.

  11. Well, I read (and enjoyed) the entry despite the warning at the top. The stern tying that you wrote of sounds just like what we do a lot of in the PNW. I’ve used stern ties in a couple of different circumstances. First, in some very small anchorages, there simply isn’t room to swing. Sometimes there are too many other boats around and sometimes there are natural obstacles like rocks. Second, in some anchorages that are steep and deep, a stern tie maintains pressure on the anchor and keeps it from dragging into water that is too deep.

    James and Jennifer Hamilton have a good article on their site about stern tying. http://www.mvdirona.com/Tec (http://www.mvdirona.com/TechnicalArticles/PY_JUL04_72-75_SEAMAN.pdf)

    Safe travels!


    Thank you! You may notice that I stole your link for the final version of my blog entry…. I’m just waiting for Roberta to proof-read so I can send it out. I’ve spent the morning studying hydraulic diagrams. It’s the system on the boat that I’m the least comfortable with, so this is being a valuable learning experience (whether I like it or not).

    -Ken W

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