[Kensblog] Working our way back to port

Greetings all!

Sans Souci is currently at anchor, only about 10 miles from Gocek, where this season’s adventure began. We’ll hang out here for a couple more days, then when we have no other choice, we’ll head into port, and this year’s cruising will end.

The season did throw a few curve balls at us, right at the end…

At the end of my last blog, we were anchored in our favorite anchorage of the trip, near the town of Bozburun. For four glorious days we had the bay to ourselves, and it was cruising at its best.

Then, a couple of boats arrived, and set up camp next to us. The two boats were traveling together, and wanted to anchor side by side. The problem was that there was only room for one of the two boats on my port side. In order to cram in, one of the boats dropped their anchor over mine. I saw it happening, and ran out on the bow to warn the other captain.

He said, “No problem. Leaving early tomorrow morning.” I asked what would happen if I wanted to leave, and he said, “Just tell me. I will help.”

There was no stopping him from dropping the anchor.

I started emailing friends for advice. Here’s what my Turkish friend Alvi advised:


When your anchor is “under” another’s chain, the way to pull it without the other one moving is (In the Greek islands many boats would not move and expect you to do it this way !) to start pulling your chain until your boat is on top of the other boat’s chain. Obviously your windlass will have quite a difficulty at this point as you can’t lift the other boat’s chain (His chain is very tight at this point) and your anchor. What the other boat does is to release a lot more chain and give a lot of slack to his chain so that you can lift your anchor WITH his chain until your anchor is up just below your bow and his chain will be on top of your anchor. At that point you will need a rope, where you attach one end to a cleat on one side of your bow, extend the rope until the loose end reaches below the chain and take the loose end of the rope, under the chain (you will need to use your boat hook to retrieve the loose end), and attach it to a cleat on the other side of the bow. Then you release your anchor a few meters. Since the rope will hold the chain of the other boat, your anchor will go down but the chain will stay in the air. And therefore your anchor will get rid of the chain. Then you release one end of the rope and let go of the chain. And you are free ! It seems complicated but once you experience it it is quite easy. Also, you might be the one who is on top of another boat who wants to leave before you (in many Greek islands, you can’t avoid being in this situation) and then you will have to let go of a lot of chain until the other boat does the same and once your chain is free, then you take the slack back and make it tight again. Of course, you have to start your engines before doing this and be ready to keep your boat not hitting the wall behind you as your anchor will not be holding you anymore until you tighten it again. I hope this makes sense.


Not liking that answer, I emailed another friend, David. I liked his answer a bit better:


It is usually easier to raise your anchor if his chain is over yours rather than under it. Start pulling anchor and slowly ease the boat up so the anchor chain is being lifted mostly vertically rather than in front of the boat. As you pull up his chain will fall off of your chain because of gravity. By the time your anchor starts to come out of the bottom his chain will be past your anchor – I am sure this is now moot since he has already been gone but this has worked for me several times.


David’s answer sounded much better than Alvi’s. Although, at this point, it was all irrelevant. In the morning, my neighbor would leave, my chain would be free, and I’d be free to depart.

As the next morning arrived, my neighbor was still there. We waited patiently until noon. It was the Captain who had fibbed to me, so I decided it was time to speak with the owner. We were watching the weather, and a meltemi was predicted for the next day (a windstorm). When I saw the owner standing on the flybridge of the problem boat, I shouted over, “Do you speak english?” He answered, “Yes of course.”

I shouted back, “What time do you think you’ll be leaving? Our chains are tangled.” He said he wasn’t sure, and I said, 2pm? 3pm? 4pm? He answered, “We’ll be long gone by 4pm for sure.” I did some mental math, and where we were going next, where I thought we’d be safe from the Meltemi, was only a two hour run away. This worked.

As one would expect, at 4pm, instead of my neighbor leaving, two more boats, big gulets, loaded with friends of his, anchored in front of us!

Our perfect anchorage was invaded by a group of: two large boats, and two huge gulets. This was one big group, with at least fifty kids, all of whom were very noisy.

It was immediately clear that our neighbors were not going to leave. Roberta and I thought about going over and asking for help untangling the anchors, but it was already late in the day. The storm wasn’t scheduled to hit until 3pm the next day. We would depart in the morning one way or the other.

Helping us sleep was this email from my Turk friend Alvi:


The forecast looks like the you will have very strong winds (25-30kts) even below Datca line and the winds come head on to where you are anchored. Though i am sure your anchor has a great hold there, i would move…


I wrote to tell him that we were going to move, one way or the other the next morning. This prompted another Alvi email. I think he was worried that I wasn’t getting the message that I was in the wrong place to greet a storm.


You are at very shallow waters and even if the boat whose chain is possibly on top of yours does not move you can easily get your anchor up with the method i have described you and the boat’s crew will help you all the way as they have to yield. it will be a good practice for you to get out of a cross chain situation. And when and if the wind goes up to 30kts, i would not want to be trapped under another boats chain, with three or more boats, med moored and facing their sides to the wind. if anything goes wrong you would quickly run out of options since you are already at shallow waters. My point is, i would get out of that situation as quickly as possible.


Roberta and I did not sleep well that night. I was awake at 5:30am, watching for any sign of movement from the boat next door. At 8am, I saw the captain sitting on the top deck. I shouted across, “I would like to leave now.” “When?” he answered. “Now,” I said. He didn’t seem to be getting the message, so I jumped in the tender and went to his boat.

He greeted me at the swim step and said, “Why do you want to leave?” “A meltemi is coming,” I explained. He said, “Yes. Your boat is fine. If you leave here, you will have a major problem.” I said, “You really think this is a safe place?” … “Yes,” I have been here many times. You are safe here. The wind will stop tomorrow, and we both can go. But, if you really want to go, we can do that”

This rang true, so I went back to our boat, to discuss it with Roberta. We thought again about Alvi’s emails. We had only a two hour run to a safe anchorage, and there was no wind. It was time to leave. Our neighbor’s credibility was not high.

I went back to our neighbor’s boat, and said, “We are leaving now. I need help.” The neighboring captain was actually a really nice guy. Captains are at the mercy of what the owner wants to do. I do believe that both the owner and the captain believed what they said, when they said it to me. The Captain actually seemed to feel some guilt. He said he would be happy to help, and took his tender personally to retrieve my lines to shore. He did mention that his goal was to do this in a way that would not wake the owners.

As I started pulling the anchor, I kept repeating to myself, “Dear anchor, I have always treated you well. This is the time to repay me. PLEASE do not be tangled.”

It didn’t work…

Sure enough, once I was down to 30 feet of chain out. The windlass ground to a halt. No more chain was coming up. My anchor was tied to his chain. The other captain looked seriously depressed. He would need to start his engines to release his chain, waking the boss. To his credit, he never complained, he just rushed back to his boat, sending his helper back with the tender. As he took the tension off his chain, mine suddenly came up. In a minute, there it was! My anchor, and his chain.

We solved it slightly differently than Alvi had recommended. We tied a line from my bow to the roll bar at the end of my anchor. I then lowered my anchor six feet, and his chain fell off. After all the tension, it was no big deal. We were free!

As we exited the bay, we were immediately slammed

For the first hour of our two hour run, we would be into the wind, and for the second hour, the wind would be behind us. The wind was immediately at 25 knots, and then climbed to 35 knots. We were getting bumped around, but it really wasn’t bad. Nordhavns are made for days like this. We took great pleasure in being the only boat we saw. Others were in port and we were having a nice cruise. The only excitement was that the bimini top on Sans Souci suddenly made a very loud noise. One of the supports for it had come apart. With some creative use of duct tape, I was able to stabilize the top.

As we turned the corner, putting the wind behind us, I saw this catamaran heading into the wind. I tried to call him on the radio to see if he wanted some cool pictures of his boat, but the light wasn’t right to get good pictures, and besides, sailors never seem to listen to their radios. He did not respond.

Our expectation was that our anchorage would be calm…

We dropped anchor at a bay called Buzukkale. We had been there on our northbound trip, and had fond memories. We suspected it might be a bit windy, but the weather report showed the winds as only 15-20 knots in the bay, and calming the next day.

Our nice calm anchorage at Buzukkale.

Instead of the anchorage being calm, the wind was running 25-35 knots, and seemed to be planning to stay that way.

Here’s some video I shot. To view the video, click this link:


Video is never quite as exciting as the real thing, particularly when I shoot it. And, in this case, the video isn’t great because the wind stepped on my narrration. I wouldn’t have uploaded it, except that it does show how rough our “protected” anchorage was.

You can also see that I chose to anchor alone, far from shore. Most of the boats you see in the video are stern tied. We probably also should have stern tied, but, as you can see in the video, I didn’t want to try stern tying with such high wind.

The high winds continued for two days, and were consistently higher than forecast. The good news was that we saw the worst of it during our first few hours. Once we saw that the boat held solid at 35 knots, there was no need to stay up all night and stand anchor watch. Most of the wind over the next couple of days stayed in the 20-30 knot range. We wouldn’t be able to swim, but we did tender to dinner, which was exciting.

Finally, after being beaten up for a couple days, the weather report was starting to look cheerier. We had planned a stop at the town of Marmaris, but were now thinking it was time to start heading to our home port. We made a 60 mile passage back to the bay of Fethiye.

The ride was a strange one. We had fairly strong (20-25 knot) winds on our port side the entire time, which the boat handled just fine, although the steering got a little strange. In order to run 90 degrees, I had to steer to 105 degrees, a 15 degree difference! I couldn’t account for it, and spent most of the trip worried. My only theory is that the wind was pushing Sans Souci’s rear harder than the bow. The wind was trying to turn us to port, so I had to steer to starboard.

As soon as we neared our destination, and altered course, the boat returned to normal steering. We’ve seen much bigger winds, and much higher waves, without the same issue, so I’m a bit stumped.

You aren’t there, until you are there

As we were congratulating ourselves for completing a tough-ish ride, we had another minor incident.

Sans Souci has twin engines, whereas the standard version of our boat has only one. It’s a long story, but essentially it comes down to my wanting twin engines for added tight-quarters maneuverability, and for redundancy.

Each of Sans Souci’s engines have the horsepower required to run the boat at full speed. This is normally a good thing, but there is one negative. Diesel engines do not like running at low RPMs for extended periods, lightly loaded. When we cruise long distances, each of my two engines is only running at about 35 to 40% of its power potential. I spoke with the engine’s manufacturer, and they said it would not be a problem, as long as once a day I throttle the engines up to full power for 15 minutes. It’s like letting a lion out of its cage once a day, just to let it get a little exercise. Who wants a grumpy lion?

As usual, I throttled up the engines, which went well. Their temperature went up, from 181 degrees to 195 degrees, as expected. However, when I put the throttles back to where they belonged, the starboard (right) engine was suddenly at 149 degrees. I put it in idle, and the temperature dropped to 123 degrees. This had not happened before, and my best guess was “blown thermostat.” I quickly sent an email to my mechanic saying, “Is it ok to run the engine at such a low temperature? ” He will be here next week, and I only have ten miles left to run. I am more than capable of swapping a thermostat, and have spares on board, but… if Jeff will be here next week, why not let it be his problem? The answer came back, “You’ll be fine.” Right answer.

Sans Souci drops the anchor, for the last time this year. Several times.

Roberta and I are now skilled at stern tying. We back to shore, and tie the boat up, in minutes. Or, so we thought. What we didn’t know what that the boat gods thought we were getting a bit too cocky, and needed a refresher course on humility.

Returning to our favorite anchorage near Gocek, we sought an empty place in the wall, where there were bollards (the bright orange balls, which are somewhat easier to tie to, and more reliable, than rocks.) We found our place, and positioned to drop the anchor. At 200 feet from the wall, the depth was still 250 feet deep! That wasn’t going to work. We nudged backwards until we saw a depth of 150 feet, nervous we were getting too close to the wall, and dropped the hook. However, the wind had blown us such that we weren’t centered correctly to the bollards anymore. So, up comes the anchor, and we tried again. This time we thought we nailed it, and I even swam to shore with a line, but when we tried to tighten, we decided the anchor wasn’t stuck. We were too close to the wall.

We moved the boat to a different location, and nailed it on the first try.

Sans Souci, tied to shore, near Gocek Turkey.

After a few tough days, we are reminded why we love boating.

This is our view sitting in the hot tub, drinking coffee, in the morning. Not too shabby!

Taking the tender to lunch, with Roberta driving. I’m babysitting the dogs.

Tied up at the dock, at the restaurant. Gotta love that water!

This is the market boat. It makes a turn through the anchorage a few times a day. There is also a bread lady in the mornings, and another boat selling fish. I notice one boat at anchor that I’d swear was here a couple months ago when we departed. I could easily envision a summer sitting here quite happily.

An, in closing

Although we’ll be in port starting on Monday, I do expect to do one or two more blogs, to talk about the process of “putting Sans Souci away” for the season.

Although there were some tense moments at the end, this was one of the best years ever on Sans Souci. We will be heading next year to Greece and Croatia, and I’m expecting that the year will be less fun (but, still fun), and that the weather much more of a factor. Roberta read me an excerpt from a book, yesterday, saying that Croatia had the most “unsettled” weather in the Med, and has over 50 thunder storms a year. Ouch. The good news: It will make for a great blog!

On a much happier note, we had an inpromptu gathering yesterday, via speaker phone, of the GSSR partipants (the two boats we crossed the Bering Sea with in 2009). None of us would have dreamed that our boats would become so scattered apart. Seabird (Steven and Carol Argosy) have their boat in Thailand. The Grey Pearl (Braun and Tina Jones) caught fire, and was replaced by the Ocean Pearl, now cruising in Maine. And, as you know Roberta and I have Sans Souci in Turkey, working our way West across the Med.

The topic of discussion, was, “How do we get the team together again?” We had the trip of a lifetime, and would like to find some similar challenge, perhaps one that none of us would consider doing alone. Steven and Braun are hatching an idea that they didn’t want to tell me about, yet. I also gave them some ideas of mine. Gathering in one spot, three boats, which are literally a world apart, is virtually impossible.

But, hey! They said that about us crossing the Bering Sea the wrong direction, and we did it!

Thank you!
Ken Williams

PS If you are new to the blog, check out this page for my books:


6 Responses

  1. Ken
    Just a quick word that we really like your Blog, and that your praise of Turkish waters has brought us to Feiyhe now awaiting our charter to start next week.

    thanks for all the sharing

    ——–Response by Ken — 2012-09-11

    Great! Once you get away from Fethiye, and out on the water, you are in for an amazing time.

    There are a few good, upscale, restaurants, on the waterfront at the west end of the beach in Fethiye. They looked interesting but we were never ever to check them out. We mostly ate at a restaurant, at the east end of the beach, that was the last restaurant prior to the marina — called Iskele. Nice people, good service, and “ok” food.

    You are an easy drive to Oludeniz, which is worth checking out.

    But, as I said, the good times don’t really begin until you get out on the water. Enjoy!

    -Ken W

    PS We just arrived back in Seattle, and already miss Turkey.

  2. Thank goodness for all of us that you both love to contribute to this blog. My wife and I have appreciated it for some time now (since GSSR) and look forward to your further adventures (particularly excited for Croatia next season). Thanks so much, and best wishes to you both.


    PS: bootie sock, ken, bootie socks. LOL

    ——-Response by Ken — 2012-09-02


    I just received an email from another boater cruising in Croatia saying that what Roberta read about the weather is hogwash. They said Croatia is wonderful cruising and we should expect to have good weather most of the summer. Great!

    As to the socks… you’ve caught me! I have now officially given up all dreams of being a GQ cover model. Fashion is not my strongest attribute. Grin.

  3. Hi Ken and Roberta,

    Interesting post as always and enjoyed the Video !

    I’ve been anchored in 35knots on my 25Tonne flybridge cruiser, and it was hard to walk around outside safely, never mind make a Video ! Just shows what an extra 75 Tons will do !

    With each of the three GSSR boats in such diverse and beautiful cruising spots you must be tempted to consider some form of a boat swap/visit program? Since you all know each other well, are all experienced Nordhavn owners, and presumably trust each other’s boating skills, then why not let the each of the three GSSR crews cruise the other two’s boats for a month or so to experience their diverse geographical locations.

    I think it would be a great way to explore the region the boat is in, without having to drive your boat all the way there, and also it would be good to get the perspective of running the other’s boat.

    On the logistical side the joining crews provision the boat and fill the tanks, and the owners would need to develop a set of detailed handover and real world running notes.

    Anyhow if that is too radical just have the others over for a cruise onboard. Either way it would be great to get a taster or refresher of the area !

    Happy cruising.

    ——–Response by Ken — 2012-09-02


    A cool idea, but it will never happen. None of the three of us charter our boats, and all consider the boats like our homes. I’m practical and would certainly consider it, but I’d never sell Roberta on the idea. I remember when we were building our boats I was speaking with another person building an N68 at the same time. I asked Roberta if I could pitch him on the idea of setting the two boats identically and placing one in the South Pacific (or Caribbean) and one in the Med, and just taking turns on the boats. She wouldn’t even consider the idea. The boat is personal to her in a way I’ll never understand.

    Oh well….

    -Ken W

  4. Hi Ken and Roberta and dogs,

    Well, you are complaining about your swivel! Are you substituting shackles? For the crossed chains I was once again thinking of your deck crane. I’d have tied a few feet of rope to the cranes hook and then placed an open ended hook on the rope’s end. Then, I’d hook and lift his chain just before your bow would overrun it. Tying the rope to the Rocna’s bale was good. Rocna also supplies two holes on the far end of their anchor for the attachment of lines or a second anchor in a big storm. They offer various solutions on their website. Those folks would have driven me crazy.

    The video was excellent. When do you use your anti-roll plates for stability at anchor?

    I guess you folks could consider the Nortwest Passage on Oceal Pearl to get them back to the West Coast? I sure would stick with the Med for a few years. I hoe that you visit Dubrovnik.


    ——Response by Ken — 2012-09-02

    Hi Ron!

    I didn’t realize that Rocna had a section on their site with tips. I’ll check it out. The swivel problems seem to have gone away. I received an email from a reader of my blog who advised that the swivel was installed upside down. I mentioned it to the Turkish mechanic who installed the swivel, and I’m not positive, but I think he reversed it while I wasn’t looking. Anyway, the swivel seems to be working perfectly now. I do have a problem gettig the anchor off the boat, in that the swivel is catching a rail, but I’ve got that one figured out, and am currently happy.

    As to the “flopper stoppers” — We haven’t been in a rolly anchorage yet! We’ve had every flavor of anchorage you can imagine: windy, tight, wonderful, crummy, good holding, bad holding, etc, but no rolly ones. The roll happens when you have an anchorage open to big swell. Thus far we haven’t had to contend with that.

    I thought about the Northwest Passage for us. Steven and Braun are together concocting some idea to sell me on. One of Roberta’s and my theories is that the Northwest Passage is on the list. It’s a remote theory though. My #1 guess is that they’ll lobby me to head north to England, Ireland, Sweden, etc. I’m a warm weather guy. Without the incentive of traveling with the other GSSR boats, I’ll never head that direction. It would be nice to do a big adventure again. Without them pushing me out of my comfort zone, the blog is going to get pretty boring over the next few years.

    I just reserved my moorage in Croatia: Mandalina Marina, about 50 miles north of Split. I’m no expert on Croatian geography, so I don’t know where that is in relation to Dubrovnik. We were in Dubrovnik, as tourists, a decade ago, but it will be much different on a boat.

    Thank you!
    -Ken W

  5. Hello, Ken and Roberta

    I have been reading and enjoying two blogs about travel in Turkey: yours and one by Leo Woodland. Both feature unique means of travel: yours by boat and Leo’s by bicycle. I love the notion of seeing a country more closely than a hotel stay in its capital city would afford. I suppose it is a stretch to think that you would have sought out Mr. Woodland’s blog on your own, but he writes well and has your eye for seeing relevant differences in a foreign culture.

    My reference to Leo’s blog begins where he enters Turkey, but there is much that precedes it, since he left from Toulouse, France.

    Being a bike nut as well as s boat nut, I regard the crazyguyonabike website as my favorite magazine for pleasure reading. I have not found its equivalent in the world of boating. Have you?

    http://www.crazyguyonabike…. (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1&page_id=299196&v=k)

    Neal Fridley
    Port Angeles WA

    ————-Response by Ken — 2012-09-02


    Thank you for the link. I read a couple of entries, then got lost and confused on the website. Great writing! I’ll go back and see if I can figure how to register for Leo’s updates. Thank you.

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