On April 17th I departed our home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, bound for Marmaris, Turkey, where I would be meeting our boat, Sans Souci. It was to be a quick trip. Sans Souci would be arriving via a freighter from Hong Kong. For the past month I had been tracking its progress on the internet many times a day.
Arrival was forecast in Marmaris for April 19th. I have transported Sans Souci previously with other shippers, and there have always been delays. However, this time, I was shipping with Seven Stars, and having very good luck. They contracted to pick up my boat on March 15, and surprisingly, they beat that date by one day. The cost to ship Sans Souci wasn’t cheap; around $95,000, including freight insurance. This may sound like a lot of money, but the alternative would be to run it on its own bottom 8,000 nautical miles (nm), some of it through pirate-infested waters. Overall then, a great deal.
Throughout the flight to Turkey I agonized over my poor planning. The freighter was slated to arrive on April 19, and I would be arriving in Marmaris at nearly midnight on the 18th. What would happen if the freighter arrived early? Would my boat be tossed into the water, or kept on board until the next stop, wherever that might be? I had always assumed there would be delays, and that booking my flight to arrive at the last possible moment to our boat’s arrival was actually fairly clever. Now, I was looking at the internet, and could see that Sans Souci was sitting just a few hundred miles from Turkey, anchored at a port in Egypt. To reach Turkey I needed to change planes three times. One delay on any of the flights, and the boat would arrive before me. Argh.
Adding to my stress, as I flew to the other side of the globe, was the situation in the Middle East. I’m a software developer who has never spent much time in the Middle East, and has never been to Turkey. Friends assured me that Turkey is ‘different’ than other countries in the region, and that the violence that seems to be spreading throughout other parts would be a non-issue in Turkey. That said, explaining to a paranoid individual that there is nothing to worry about, accomplishes very little.
Roberta did not accompany me on this trip. She remained in Mexico. Instead, I was traveling with my friend, Jeff Sanson, a captain, who manages all the maintenance on my boat. Jeff had overseen the loading of Sans Souci in Hong Kong, and is the kind of versatile guy you want around if anything goes wrong. I was 99% certain all would go smoothly in Turkey, but the other 1% is why insurance companies exist. Jeff would be my insurance policy for the trip.
As I was passing through the airport in Istanbul to change flights, I noticed a Vodafone booth. In Hong Kong we were able to enjoy unlimited high-speed internet, throughout the boat, by using a Vodafone 3G USB dongle. On Sans Souci we have unlimited high-speed internet via satellite (VSAT.) I’m a major fan of VSAT, but I suspect the company who provides my VSAT service (KVH) is a little less enamored of me. In fact, a couple years ago, I phoned VSAT tech support and asked, “My contract says I have unlimited internet, but is there some maximum usage where you might kick me off?” Both Roberta and I work primarily on the internet, and because we tend to have the boat outside the US, we rely on the Internet for our news and television. I track how many gigabytes we use during an average month, and the answer is that we consume around 50 gigabytes per month. I gave this number to KVH, and they countered with their definition of ‘unlimited’ as closer to 2 gigabytes. Hmmmm. I phoned a few weeks later, and spoke with a different customer support rep, who gave a better number, of twelve gigabytes. This was better, but still left a gap. I want to maintain good relations with KVH, so I ‘fill in,’ where possible my thirst for bandwidth with Internet from a 3G dongle. I have a special router on board (a Peplink 580) which allows me to easily share this connection around the boat. Anyway, to make a long story short, I easily purchased a 3g dongle. In Hong Kong, the dongle purchase had been difficult, and in Japan it had been nearly impossible.
I really didn’t know what to expect of Marmaris. I had done some googling and knew that it was a tourist town, primarily packed with British and German tourists. I also knew that it was the yachting center for Turkey.
I chose a hotel in the center of town, walking distance to the Marina. Jeff’s and my arrival was at midnight, and I had warned the hotel to expect our late arrival. The hotel was disappointing. It didn’t matter, as within eight hours I would be retrieving the boat, and setting sail (actually motoring) aboard Sans Souci for Gocek.
As Jeff and I were checking in, a tall stranger approached the desk and started speaking in Turkish. I had no idea what he was saying, other than it seemed to be interfering with my check-in. It caught me by surprise when I realized that he was discussing me. The desk clerk translated for the tall stranger, using a substantial subset of the few English words in his repertoire. “Boat papers” he said. Huh? I asked ‘what boat papers?’ and ‘who was this stranger?’ which accomplished nothing. Our desk clerk had exhausted his English vocabulary, the tall stranger had no English vocabulary, and even if I had a Turkish vocabulary, which I don’t, I was too exhausted from the thirty-one hour trip to use it. I did have an agent in Turkey, so perhaps this person was from my agent. In any event, the boat papers were on the boat, so whoever he was, he would need to go away empty-handed. “On boat,” I said. This was obviously the wrong answer, and both the desk clerk, and the tall stranger, seemed very disappointed. On the other hand, other hotel staff, who seemed to emerge from nowhere, were greatly amused by the discussion. When you work the graveyard shift at a hotel, thrills are hard to come by. We attracted quite a crowd, The tall stranger, wasn’t going to give up. “Passport?” he asked. The conversation was going downhill. I was not giving anything to anyone who I did not know, even if I suspected they were indirectly working for me. The tall stranger left unhappy, and empty-handed, while I went up the too-skinny elevator to get some sleep on my similarly skinny, and rock-hard bed.
On waking, at 7am, I immediately checked my email, and found this from my agent in Turkey:
| ” Dear Mr Ken
I have received a message from M/V FRAUKE agent saying ETA Marmaris is changed as follows
ETA MARMARIS OF M/V FRAUKE 21.04.2011
please be advised”
Needless to say, I was not shocked. I looked on the internet, and the freighter was still anchored off of Egypt. I had booked my flight home from Turkey for the 23rd, so the schedule delay would not be a huge issue, and I would have a couple days to explore Marmaris. No problem.
The agent did confirm that the tall stranger was indeed there, in Marmaris, on my behalf. It was this person, whose name I never did learn, who would handle the local customs clearing for my boat. I was given the local agent’s email address and forwarded him my boat’s registration papers, and a copy of my passport. My agent also asked that I go to a notary to produce a Power of Attorney authorizing the local agents to clear my boat into Turkey.
Riza, from Emek Marin in Gocek, who I have contracted to look after my boat when I’m not aboard, was in Marmaris. He offered to drive Jeff and I to a notary. This turned out to be a time-consuming process, but fairly painless. My agent was insisting that it was somewhat a futile effort, because my boat could not be cleared into Turkey without the original ship’s registration, which was on the boat (which was on the freighter).
Marmaris itself was both a pleasant surprise, and a big disappointment. I had heard that Marmaris was a fun town, with tourist-lined beaches, and wild nightlife. Well… the beaches were there, and the night clubs, but the sun and the tourists were not. Jeff and I felt we had the town to ourselves. The restaurants were open, to get ready for the tourists, who would start arriving May 1st, but as Jeff and I walked along the quai, past perhaps a hundred restaurants, we knew we’d be breaking 99 hearts. Only one restaurant was going to get tourist revenue, and it was up to us to decide which one. Ultimately, it didn’t seem to matter. They all seemed to have the same menu. Menus were long, but concise documents, with only one line given to each dish. All bases seemed to be covered with everything from Fajitas to Curries appearing on most menus. The food was very good.
Only my compatriots on the GSSR could understand my elation at seeing a West Marine. In Japan there were essentially no marine stores. To be fair, I’m sure they do exist, but in cruising 2,000nm through Japan, we never saw one. Marmaris is a boater’s paradise, with a huge marine industry. West Marine is only one of many chandleries.
On the morning of the 20th, my agent sent this email:
| ” Dear Mr Ken
M/V FRAUKE Eta Marmaris 23.04.2011 saturday.
Due to weekend Holiday we have to pay overtime for customs formalities to clear your boat
Ouch! There went my flights home. I rebooked my flights for the 26th, knowing there was a chance this might not be there last rebooking. A look at the internet showed the freighter with my boat still at anchor in Egypt. Why? I didn’t know, but I did know it was time for a new hotel, and made the swap.
Given that we had time to kill, Jeff and I decided to drive the two hours to Gocek to see where the boat would be moored.
When my quest for a place to put Sans Souci began, Turkey was a complete unknown to me. I knew what I was seeking, but I did not know what Turkey had to offer. Turkey is a reasonably large country, with a population of 85 million, the sea on three sides and over 5,000 miles of coastline. Which of the 100s of marinas to pick from would be ‘right’ to base our boat?
Gocek was selected because it matched well against the list of ‘needs’ I put together. I was seeking:
– Good electricity (plenty of available current, reliable)
– International restaurants
– Close to the good cruising
– Charming, quiet, fun to ‘hang out’ in
– Upscale (not just the standard ‘tourist town.’)
– Good marine services
– Availability of someone to watch over my boat during the off season
– Caters to larger power boats (For instance, some marinas service primarily sail boats, so the marine stores don’t really have the parts I need)
– Access to a large Costco-type store (Gocek is near Fethiye, that showed as having a Carrefour, a megastore)
My information about Gocek came primarily from the Internet. I had prepaid six months of moorage, so, whatever it was, it was, but I was very curious if I had chosen wisely.
The town immediately felt right. I went straight to Emek Marin, to visit Riza, who will be caretaking Sans Souci, when Roberta and I aren’t in Turkey. He took Jeff and I of a tour of the town, and all of the five marinas. The town itself had the charm I was seeking, and all of the core services I sought; restaurants, banks, pharmacies, groceries, gas, etc. It was small, perhaps a quarter mile from one end to the other. The number and size of the marinas felt disproportionate to the town’s small size. My sense was that Gocek is a town that revolved around the summer cruising season.
The town of Gocek has five marinas
The marina I selected is about 20 minutes outside Gocek, in the boondocks. I suspect Riza wanted to sell me on swapping to a marina closer to his office. I wanted him to perform daily checks on the boat, and this wasn’t going to be easy. It would be easier for him, and cheaper for me, if I’d swap to a close-in marina.
Riza strongly recommended the in-town municipal marina, which did actually have one major asset. One of the docks was a side-tie, which is quite rare in Europe. Essentially all marinas require something called ‘med mooring,’ which is a rather complicated way of parking the boat. Instead of having a dock to tie to a line is run from the basin of the marina to the bow of the boat, and from the back of the boat to the dock. The boat floats about six feet off the dock, and a gang plank (called a passarelle) is used to get to shore. Effectively all power boats in the Med have professional crew. Roberta and I are quite unique in running our boat ourselves. The process to med moor when you have crew is much simpler than when you don’t. On a crewed boat the owner says, “Let’s go into that marina.” And, it happens. On Sans Souci, Roberta and I have a lot of work to do to get successfully moored. A side-tie is much simpler. The bad news was that the side-tie s already reserved for at least the next six months. Oh well.. it was a good idea.
The Gocek Exclusive Marina, where Sans Souci will be moored for the next year
Our marina, called Gocek Exclusive, is a funny-looking affair. There are only two curved docks, each holding about 50 boats, half on one side of the dock, and half on the other. The docks seemed perfect, although the med mooring looked much tougher than I remembered it. I had serious doubt that Roberta and I were going to be able to pull it off, yet I knew that we would have to find a way.
In med mooring, there are no finger docks. Boats hover, about six feet off the wall, and use gangplanks to reach the dock
In med mooring, the bow of your boat is attached to a concrete block on the marina basin
One reason I wanted to check out the marina was to see what kind of crud boats were collecting on the bottom. This boat hadn’t moved in six months. As you can see, it did collect a fair amount of crud. Darn. Note how clear the water is!
One of the two docks at Gocek Exclusive seemed to have bigger boats than the other. Neither had small boats. On the ‘small boat’ dock the average size was probably around 80 feet, and at the large boat dock, the average size probably exceeded 100 feet. About half of the docks were empty, but Riza assured me that within a few weeks, they would be packed. I puzzled over this phenomenon. In the United States, my boat is typically considered large (Sans Souci is 68 feet long). Between the five marinas, I had seen 50 or more larger boats than mine, and this number was sure to triple when the season began. Where does all this money come from? The answer, at least to some extent, is ‘Russia,’ but many nationalities were represented, including other boats from America.
Having seen Sans Souci’s new home, I wanted to visit the marina office to speak with the harbormaster. There were three details I wanted to work out:
1) I had been told that pumpout would be impossible at the dock. Roberta and I would need to take the boat to a pumpout station every few days, as the grey and black water tanks filled up (grey water is from showers, sinks and the washing machine. Black water is… nevermind). The med mooring process is too difficult for Roberta and I to be doing every few days. This was not going to work. Riza’s family has been in Gocek for decades, and having him as my ally worked miracles. After convincing the harbormaster that my boat really is tough to med moor, and I have no crew, he relented and agreed that a pumpout boat could visit Sans Souci at the dock.
2) The electricity pedestal at Sans Souci’s slip is terrific. I have my choice of 63 amp triple phase 380v electricity, or 32 amp single phase 220v electricity. Summers in the south of Turkey can be over 100 degrees. I wanted no limits on my ability to run air conditioning, so I asked if it would be possible to use TWO of the 63 amp outlets. This was a shot in the dark, and truth be known, I suspect I could run quite happily off one outlet of 63 amp service, but I’m thinking there will be days when I want maximum air conditioning, in addition to the ability to run the watermakers, and the washer/dryer. I have done years of power management, and know how to work around power limitations, but there’s nothing wrong with having access to plenty of power. Having said that I am betting I have just thrown all the sailboat readers of my blog into some sort of convulsions. My apologies to sailboaters everywhere, but Sans Souci is a powerboat. Anyway, to my surprise, the marina said, “No problem.”
3) Even though Sans Souci is tiny compared to many of the boats at Gocek Exclusive, Sans Souci is not a small boat. Sans Souci had been assigned to the ‘small boat dock’ and I wanted moved to the big boat dock. It seemed a slightly sturdier dock to me, and if Sans Souci was going to be tied to a dock, I wanted it to be as solid as possible. This made no sense to the harbormaster, but I explained that my boat is tall, with much windage, and as a trawler, it is very heavy. Most of the boats I saw at the docks were “go fast” boats. They are large, but kept as light as possible. This allows them to pop out of the water and attain high speeds. There were 100 foot boats on the docks, capable of 40 knot speeds, that weighed half what my boat weighs. Sans Souci is an ocean-going boat, made for long-distance cruising, under tough conditions. The harbormaster wasn’t buying my arguments, so I summarized by saying, “I’ll try it your way, but you should understand that I am more concerned about your dock than I am my boat. If we get a 50 knot wind, there could be a problem.” This he understood, and Sans Souci was reassigned.
Jeff and I returned to Marmaris feeling it had been a great day, and Gocek was going to be perfect.
To kill time the next day, we decided to go to Rhodes, in Greece. This sounds like a bigger deal than it was. Rhodes is a short distance from Marmaris. We took a high-speed ferry that had us on Rhodes in under an hour.
Because we were swapping countries, I had to check out of Turkey and into Greece, which wasn’t supposed to be a problem. However, when at passport control in Greece, things suddenly took a nasty turn. I presented my passport, and after staring at his screen for a few moments the officer asked me to step out of line. I waited for everyone else to clear into Greece, and asked “Is there a problem?” He responded by asking if I had ever been to Germany. I said, “Not recently,” and he said, “Just answer yes or no.” I didn’t like the look on his face and peeked over his shoulder at his monitor. I saw my name, “Kenneth Allen Williams” and a birthdate in 1954. That much was right, but I was born in October and this other ‘bad’ person with my name was born in February. I pointed this out to the officer, who was annoyed that I was looking at his screen. Oops. His eyes moved back and forth between my passport and his screen several times over the next few moments, and he then stamped my passport and sent me on my way. I had the feeling that this could have gone poorly.
Rhodes is an island about 65 miles long. Jeff and I rented a car and spent the day just being tourists.
One interesting note from Rhodes… I was looking for interesting bays where I might be able to ‘drop the hook’ for some quality anchoring for when Roberta and I are on the boat. We discovered a bay that looked perfect. It had all the elements I look for: a pretty beach, beach-side restaurants, good protection from the wind, etc. I asked a local restaurant owner if boats ever dropped anchor in the bay. He said yes, but that I should speak with the local police department to get permission. The police office happened to be connected to the back of the restaurant, so I decided to drop in. The officer was very nice, and said that he had seen boats as big as 150′ in the bay. He showed me where to anchor. In reality, it will probably be at least next year before Roberta and I make it to Greece. There’s a lot of Turkey to explore.
That said, we might go to Greece sooner than expected. Fuel is nearly nine dollars a gallon in Turkey!!! I haven’t verified this, but was told that as a foreign boat, if I clear out of Turkey, and then get fuel, I might be able to avoid Turkish taxes. I would then make the run to Greece, and return to Turkey a few days later. Saving $3 or $4 a gallon on 3,000 gallons of fuel is real money. And, there are worse fates that having to anchor in Rhodes for a few days.
Back in Turkey, I realized that we were now down to 24 hours prior to Sans Souci’s arrival, and I hadn’t received notification of another delay. Perhaps something really was going to happen?
Seven Stars, my shipper, had suggested that I contact Seven Star’s agents in Marmaris, to verify that all was on track with customs clearing. I wrote to Seven Star’s agents, who wrote back asking for copies of all the standard paperwork, passports, crew list (Jeff and I), a list of all electronics on the boat, copies of ship’s papers, etc. I’ve gotten very good at filling out all these forms, and responded immediately. I was surprised that my agents hadn’t already provided all of this information.
That’s when things went a little wacky…
Seven Star’s agent called me to ask if I had given any papers or money to my local Marmaris agents. I said, “No, but I have provided electronic copies of all my papers to my agent in Istanbul, and given him $3,000 for the clearing fees.” This answer seemed not to work well. The Seven Stars agent, whom I will call “A” said he needed to call me back. A few minutes later he called back and said that he thought I was paying too much, and that he could do the clearing for me. I pointed out that I already had an agent and didn’t need help. I suggested he contact my agent, whom I will call “M” in Istanbul. This triggered many more phone calls, with the final result being me having two competing agents, Mr. M and Mr. A. I do not want to imply that either Mr. M or Mr. A did anything wrong. I have cause to believe that both are good people, but the evening ended with Mr. A contacting me to say that all of my paperwork had been filed, and that I should pay him $1,600. I had never asked Mr. A to do my clearing, and was caught by surprise. This prompted angry correspondence from Mr. M and a reminder that he had the Power of Attorney on my boat appointing him as my agent. I told both Mr. A and Mr. M that I would be at the docks the next morning at 8am, on April 23rd, to sort the whole mess out.
As I went to bed, on the night of the 22nd, stressed out about the whole mess, I checked my email, only to see the freighter was still at anchor in Egypt. Would it really arrive in the morning?
When I woke, and looked at the Internet, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The freighter with Sans Souci was approaching Marmaris. Jeff and I headed for the docks, where I knew my two competing agents would be waiting. Everything was locked up at the commercial terminal when I arrived, so none of us could get to the freighter. We were quite a group. Mr. M had sent three people, including the tall stranger. Mr. A was there, with an associate, as well as Jeff and I. After everyone shook hands, we seemed to pretend that nothing was going on. Everyone sat a few feet apart, and between glaring at each other, we made small-talk. There’s an old expression that I felt should apply, “You gotta dance with the one that brought you.” Irregardless of anything, I had started the process with Mr. M. The other agent, Mr. A had interjected himself to the process. I liked Mr. A, and wanted to use him, plus there’s a lot to be said for paperwork already filed. I couldn’t imagine suddenly firing Mr. A (who I never hired) only to explain the mess to customs and start new paperwork with Mr. M’s team. But, that’s what I did. It was decision time, and I went with Mr. M. I approached Mr. A with my envelope of money, and offered it to him anyhow. To his credit, he refused to accept the money.
Before I could push the ball farther down the field with Mr. M’s team, word came that we could go to the freighter. Show time!!! I practically ran to the freighter. I wanted to see Sans Souci!
The unloading process went slowly, but not that slowly. It was fun watching the workers disassemble all of the ties and supports holding her on deck. I hadn’t thought I would be allowed onto the deck of the freighter, but there I was. After about four hours, Sans Souci was in a sling, and being dropped overboard.
Sans Souci was only one of many boats loaded onto the freighter. The Seven Stars representative mentioned that their business had been booming, and that he had over 100 port calls scheduled in May. Two things are driving demand: 1. Higher fuel prices. He mentioned a 130 footer which chose to be transported, even though it was only a four-day run. With fuel prices so high, transporting boats becomes the wise decision. And, of course, 2. With pirates in the Indian Ocean, transporting the boat on a freighter is safer.
Workers, removing the straps that hold Sans Souci, and applying the sling that will lift her off the deck
Sans Souci being lifted into the air, with the town of Marmaris in the background
I had come to the freighter ready to jump onto Sans Souci and head for Gocek. Jeff and I had our bags and were ready to go. That said, I hadn’t checked out of the hotel, because I knew there was a chance that the loading or clearing might take too long, and it would be too late in the day for departure. At one point, our hotel called to say, “You appear to have checked out, you owe us for all the diet cokes from the mini bar.” I responded, “No. We will be back tonight.” I had no idea if I would be returning to the hotel, or headed for Gocek, but wanted to have options.
The drop-dead time for departure from Marmaris to Gocek was 2pm. If our departure went beyond this time we would risk arrival in Gocek after dark. Gocek was 50 nautical miles, or a six hour run, east of Marmaris. Although Sans Souci was in the water at 2pm, our paperwork was not ready. Worse, I really had no idea what was happening. Jeff and I were sitting in Sans Souci, in the water, lashed to the side of the freighter. We couldn’t seem to get anyone on the phone, and we couldn’t get off the boat. We were physically trapped.
I assumed this meant we were returning to the hotel, but Jeff said he thought we could arrive in Gocek after dark. I tend to be conservative, and have as a core belief that it is wrong to arrive in strange marinas after dark. There is too much that can go wrong, and we would be med mooring. Jeff’s a confident guy, and his optimism started to rub off. Somehow I went from “No way in heck” to “Well…I will give it thought.”
Meanwhile, we had problems to solve. We needed to use the time waiting for customs clearance to get the boat ready to go to sea. Boats are happiest when running. Sans Souci had been sitting on a deck for a month, without power. We had to get everything running. The first thing I noticed was that the house battery bank was low. The generator batteries were fine, so I had a way to get power, but why was the 24v house battery bank low? Sans Souci has multiple battery banks that serve multiple purposes. They are isolated from each other so that a problem with one set of batteries doesn’t create complications elsewhere. In this case, I could use the generator to recharge the batteries, so it wasn’t a big deal, other than being a mystery that I would want to solve sooner or later. [Note: Jeff and I did resolve this]
The bigger issue was that the inverters wouldn’t work. The inverters take 24v electricity from the batteries and turn it into 110v. I fiddled with the LCD panel for the inverter for half an hour before deciding that perhaps it was time to look at the manual. Two minutes later the problem was solved. I have four inverters and a central brain that ties them together. The brain had somehow come disconnected from the inverters. I just needed to tell the brain to go look for the inverters, and bingo — it worked! In any event, with the generators working, we weren’t stuck. I had plenty of electricity.
The real issue was that we had no electronic charts for Turkey. I had bought paper charts, and had worked on my ipad to work out a route, but we really needed electronic charts for the boat’s two electronic charting systems, Nobeltec and Navnet 3. Jeff had brought with him the charts for both, so I started loading them in. Something went wrong with Navnet 3, and I gave up. Nobeltec also threw us a curve ball. The charts installed correctly, and Nobeltec said it had the charts, but no charts would appear. I’m fairly computer-literate, so this was most distressing, and somewhat embarrassing. I wasn’t too worried though in that I did have the paper charts, and was able to plot a course in Nobeltec, based on manual entry of points. We had enough to get by.
Finally, I was able to speak with my agent, Mr. M. He said that I would need to check into the local marina, and give them some money before I would be allowed into the country. He was proceeding with my paperwork, but things were going slowly, and being further slowed by some confusion over the dueling sets of paperwork for my boat. The only way to enter the marina would be to literally move the boat into the marina and med moor it. The marina said they would send us a tender to follow into the marina (Netsel Marina), and that they would help us with the lines. The marina staff did an excellent job, and within 15 minutes Jeff and I were on land with Sans Souci properly tied up.
At the marina office, Mr. M’s local representative showed up with all of our paperwork. The marina did some paperwork, and suddenly we were told, “Welcome to Turkey!” We had done it. Sans Souci was in Turkey!
I phoned Riza in Gocek to ask about arriving at night at the marina there. He said that the marina staff would be waiting for us, and that we would have no problem. Jeff and I had already inspected the marina, and were in the mood to get moving, so … let’s go!
The six-hour run to Gocek was anti-climatic. I hardly remember the actual run, and can’t explain why I didn’t take a single picture. Jeff and I kept busy driving the boat, doing engine room checks, and solving the chart-plotter issues. I finally figured out that I needed to completely remove all charts and start fresh.
We had calm seas all of the way to Gocek. We had a four- to six-foot seas hitting us on the beam, which Sans Souci’s stabilizers laughed at. We were quite comfortable. We were the only powerboat that we saw.
The final approach to Gocek was tricky. The Gocek Exclusive marina is new, and not yet on charts. I don’t remember if there was a moon but it was around 11pm, and very dark. I phoned Riza, who was waiting on the dock, and he called the marina, to send a tender to guide us in. Meanwhile, a large sailboat, friends of Riza, in the marina lit up their giant sail for us, in bright blue, to help us find the marina. We were asked to come between the red and green entrance markers. I could see two different sets, and neither made sense. Normally, the rule of thumb is “red right returning”, meaning that if you are returning to port, the red light should be on your right (starboard) side, and if going out to sea, it should be on the left (port) side. These were reversed, and seemed wrong. As I was studying the lights, a tender shot through them on its way to us. A moment later a second tender came rocketing at us from another direction.
Riza explained that one of the tenders were friends of his, and the other was the marina staff. They would guide us to the dock.
I slowed to a crawl as we approached the dock, and as I was talking to Riza on the VHF radio, he said “I am on your boat.” What?? How had he gotten onto the boat? Apparently, his friends with the tender had gotten in close and he had jumped onto Sans Souci, as had others. We had at least four people, plus Riza, running around the boat. The boat was a mess from sitting on the freighter for a month. I really didn’t want to make a bad first impression, but … oh well.
Riza was speaking with the marina tender via his handheld VHF radio. They asked me to wait while they picked up the mooring line from the dock. It was clear we had become a bit of an attraction. I had lit up Sans Souci with our powerful deck lights, so I could see what was happening. Meanwhile, the marina had come to life as everyone wanted to see the “new (funny-looking American) boat” on the dock tie up for the first time.
I wanted to watch every detail of our arrival, but really couldn’t. My vision of Jeff and I practicing med mooring was not to be. Jeff was at the bow with a whole collection of Italians, who had appeared from nowhere. I was at the helm, speaking with Riza on the VHF. Riza was somewhere, but I wasn’t quite sure where. He was translating between me and the marina, who wanted me to line up for the med mooring process. First they wanted me to approach their tender with my bow, so they could pass to the Italians a line that was anchored to the bottom of the marina, and that would hold my bow. Suddenly the call came that we needed to start the process over, and that I should get out my 30 meter (90 feet) dock lines. I had none this long, which created more complication. Several lines were tied together, which solved this problem, my bow was attached, and I shifted to the stern to drive the boat. I backed all the way to the dock, and lines were tied to the dock. We spent some time tightening the lines, but that was it. Sans Souci had arrived!
When Roberta and I had had our prior Sans Souci (a Nordhavn 62) in France, I don’t recall a marina tender ever assisting us with our lines, and I can’t imagine a marina that would have their staff hang around until 11pm on a Saturday night to help work our lines. I was quite impressed!
Just as quickly as all of the people from surrounding boats had flooded onto Sans Souci to help us, they started flooding off. I rushed to thank everyone.
Riza then said, “Let’s go get dinner.” Dinner? It was nearly midnight. I liked the idea, but how? Riza said the restaurants were open late. Don’t worry. So, into town we went. He took us to a restaurant in the center of town that was extraordinary. It was outside seating, on the quai, with a young, hip, fun crowd of all nationalities. I recognized one table as the young Italian crew that had helped us bring in Sans Souci. They were well into their dinner, so after stopping by to say, “Thank you” again I asked the waiter to put their table’s check on mine. This led to the entire table coming to join us at our table.
When I think about the most memorable moments from my time in Turkey, that dinner is amongst the highest ranked. We became a large group. Riza mentioned he had a girlfriend, so I asked him to invite her to dinner. He answered that his girlfriend was planning dinner with her friend, so I suggested he bring her along too. Riza’s girlfriend spoke only Russian and Turkish. Her friend spoke only Russian. The Italians, spoke Italian, Riza Turkish and English, and Jeff and I spoke only English. In total there were ten of us, and it was a raucous group. Everyone was in a good mood, with funny stories flying in from every direction, and in every language. It was a very fun evening…
I later asked Riza whether or not it was controversial that he, who I assumed to be Muslim had a Russian girlfriend. He looked at me like I was from the stone ages. “Why would it be?” he asked. I wasn’t sure if it was politically correct to have even asked the question, so I dropped the subject. Jeff decided to dig the hole deeper by asking whether marriages are arranged by the parents in Turkey. I figured the answer would be no, given the prior response, but Riza said “Of course!” Jeff asked, “What if you don’t like the girl your parents pick?” The response, “You learn to like her.”
Anyway.. I digress… So, back to boating….
Jeff and I spent two days with Riza, training him on the boat. Roberta and I will not be to the boat for three months. During that time, Riza will need to see that the boat is washed, the interior kept clean, the engines run periodically, the generators started from time to time, the bottom wiped down as needed, and a diver under the boat to keep the thru-hulls all open. I also had a list of maintenance projects for Riza. Jeff went through the boat prior to it departing Hong Kong, so there isn’t much to do, but with a boat, there’s always something. Boredom will not be a problem for Mr. Riza.
And, so, Jeff and I left Gocek to head home. The flights had worked out that we needed to spend the night in Istanbul. I really wanted to save tourist activities until Roberta is with me in Turkey, but it was impossible to resist going into town touring around. In addition to the standard tourist attractions I wanted to see the Bosphorus. It’s a narrow river which connects the Med to the Black Sea. It is also the dividing line between two continents: Asia and Europe. Istanbul itself spans both continents.
In Instanbul, we stayed at the Hyatt hotel. As we were in the taxi entering the hotel, a hotel employee came to the car and started passing something under the car. He then had the taxi open the trunk, and had a look around. Jeff asked me what was happening, and I didn’t want to answer. The person had a mirror on a long stick, and was looking for bombs under our car. Entering the hotel, we had to pass through an x-ray machine. It was the first reminder since I had been in Turkey that there is violence in surrounding countries. As to Turkey itself, I felt safe everywhere, and everyone was incredibly nice to us.
The other two GSSR boats, Seabird and Grey Pearl, are cruising now in Asia, but our group will reunite in 2012. I have heard that the Black Sea represents miserable cruising. It’s windy, there aren’t many ports, and there isn’t much to see. That said, it would be amazing to take our boats into the Black Sea, and as I stood on the banks of the Bosphorus, looking at waters flowing too/from the Black Sea, I could easily envisioning our GSSR group as wanting to take the challenge.
The Bosphorus looked more navigable than expected. It was wide (over a mile across). The currents looked high. From shore it looked easily 4 to 5 knots, but all boats were going the same direction. Anyway.. it’s best in boating not to think too far ahead.
And.. that’s it! This is the last blog for a while. Don’t forget to check Grey Pearl’s blog (http://greypearl.talkspot.com) and Seabird’s blog (http://www.seabirdlrc.com) for word of their adventures.