In just a couple days Roberta, the doggies, and I, fly to Turkey to start this year’s cruising.
Last year, I predicted my blog would be boring, and I delivered on that promise. This year, I’m predicting the blog will be exciting, and I hope I’m wrong. I’ll talk later in this blog entry about those things which have my stomach in knots.
But first, I have some dull logistical things to cover…
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I’ll be experimenting this year with Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/kensblogdotcom) and Pinterest (#kensblog), neither of which I’m an expert at, so .. no promises. It will be a learning experience.
And, with that said, let’s look at this year’s cruising plans…
Summer 2013 Plan: Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia
Our big picture plan is to work our way slowly west over the next few years, staying longer where we’re having fun, and moving quickly when we aren’t. That said, we do have a plan for this summer, which starts in Turkey, and finishes in Croatia, with many stops along the way.
I’m very happy to report that…
In 2009 we crossed the Bering Sea in the company of two other Nordhavn boats; Seabird and Grey Pearl. It was the trip of a lifetime, and our hope is to someday reunite the three boats for another big adventure.
Sans Souci, Seabird and Grey Pearl
Happily, I can report that we are now 2/3rds of the way to accomplishing that goal. Our friends Steven and Carol Argosy (Seabird) have been cruising in Thailand, and made the decision to ship their boat to the Med. I’m sure it was a tough decision. From what Steven says, Thailand is a near-perfect cruising ground, with light winds, calm warm water, great diving, beautiful beaches, low prices, etc.
I was a bit of a bad ambassador for Med cruising. When Steven and I would speak, and he would ask about cruising in the Med, I felt under pressure. I wanted to say enough good things that he would join us, but not so many that I’d promise more than the Med could deliver. The Med is a terrific place to cruise, but it does have its challenges. The season is short, the diving mediocre, the prices high, the regulations overwhelming and the winds a nightmare. All of that said, what the Med lacks in some areas, it more than makes up for in others.
Here you see an example of the kinds of emails we were exchanging:
From: Steven Argosy
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 3:57 AM
To: Ken Williams
Subject: Re: Croatia
I will miss this area, but I am sure turkey and Greece have equally good spots. Hope there is some diving over there.
From: Ken Williams
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2013 7:03 AM
To: Steven Argosy
Subject: Re: Croatia
Do all the diving you can, because in all the years I’ve spent in the Med, I can’t remember ever having a positive diving experience. I’m amazed whenever I see fish on a menu, because, where did they catch it? I haven’t seen any swimming.
Cruising the Med is a little like when we were cruising in Japan, with water that has been fished for thousands of years, and there aren’t a lot of the critters left swimming. I think of it as a dead sea.
Just as overall, we had a great time in Japan, there are good times to be had in the Med, but most of the fun will come from events ashore, and from the few good anchorages we find. We’ll meet some good people and lots of interesting people, and see a lot of history and cultures up close.
But, boating-wise, you are in as good as it gets. I am very jealous.
|Seabird lifting onto the freighter in Thailand
|Seabird, being lowered into the water in Marmaris Turkey
When Roberta and I transported our boat to Turkey we “cheated” and loaded it onto a freighter, forfeiting our shot at a circumnavigator merit badge. Steven and Carol had the same hesitation about tangling with Somali pirates as we did,and elected to also load their boat onto a freighter, using the same company we did; Seven Stars.
Steven and Carol flew to Turkey ahead of their boat, to explore Istanbul before working their way south to Marmaris to meet the freighter carrying their boat.
When the freighter arrived, they were invited onboard to unload Seabird. After hours of waiting they received word that the unloading had been canceled. There was too much wind. It would be too dangerous to have Seabird dangling off the side of the freighter. Unloading was rescheduled for a couple of days later when the winds would hopefully subside.
Then, the next morning I received this email from Steven:
“… Well, you won’t believe this one. My cell phone rang at 1am this morning. It was our agent, and she told us that she was picking us up in 5 minutes because the straps were on the boat and they were launching her right away! We jumped out of bed, still sleepy and rushed over there. The winds were still blowing at 20 kts. They lowered us into the water and Carol and I had to climb down a rope ladder on the side of the ship to the boat, which was moving around in the dark with a 3+ foot chop. We then had to go to the marina in the dark and med moor for only the second time. It was a hairy experience that I hope not to repeat. Anyway, we are all tied up and back in the hotel. It is 5:30am and I am going to bed!
And, while I am talking about transporting boats by freighter…
Check out this article about Yachtpath, another yacht transport company:
I’ve never been a big fan of Yachtpath, having spent nearly four years in litigation with them after a botched delivery of my boat. Theoretically, I won the litigation, although the real winners were the lawyers.
Yachtpath’s failure was a huge disaster for dozens of boats, who happened to be in transit when Yachtpath failed. Their boats were impounded on arrival! I spoke with several owners who were devastated by the loss of their boats. In order to bail their boats out, they had to pay for the transport AGAIN, after having originally paid Yachtpath for the shipping. In some cases this wasn’t enough. I spoke with one yacht owner who couldn’t pay even though they wanted to. Their boat was impounded in Vancouver, and couldn’t be released until ALL owners paid the freight fee. One owner wouldn’t be enough. And, there were impound fees to be paid! A very sad, and expensive, turn of events.
As to my boat, Sans Souci…
At the end of last season Sans Souci was put “on the hard” for storage.
|Caption: Sans Souci, hauled out for storage
My belief when putting Sans Souci away was that nothing would happen with the boat for the next six months. I liked the idea that I would have six months of nothingness with respect to the boat, as did my checking account.
However, that was not how it turned out…
I hadn’t thought it was possible to even go onto the boat. I left Turkey with a list of offseason projects, but I had thought they would be done after the boat was unwrapped at the start of the season. That’s not how it worked out. Instead, there has been work going non-stop since I left the boat.
I’m not complaining, and am quite happy with how it turned out, but it was unexpected. Somehow the local mechanics were able to find a way to get access to the boat, and get work done.
I swapped maintenance companies in Turkey at the end of the season, to a company called Moda Yacht. Some maintenance companies are reasonably priced, and do good work, and others charge a fortune while doing poor quality work, or worse. For example, there was a 75’ Nordhavn which sunk in Mexico when a local mechanic used the wrong type of hose and fittings for some critical plumbing. Moda Yacht was a new company to me and I didn’t really want them touching the boat without supervision.
My regular mechanic, Jeff Sanson stayed behind in Turkey, after Roberta and I left, to work with Moda Yacht on putting away the boat for the season. Jeff had great things to say about them. So, when Jeff and I started discussing projects we decided to have some work done. As confidence in Moda Yacht built, one project became another project, and that became a long series of projects. I can’t imagine how they were able to work on the boat, from inside the shrinkwrap. It must have been miserable working conditions.
The project that started the ball rolling was one that has been on my list for years.
I’ve had a deck drain that has never drained correctly. It’s not a big deal, but has been frustrating. Various mechanics have tried plunging it, snaking it, and even shooting compressed air into it. I thought this might be a perfect project to test Moda Yacht, and they rose to the occasion. This is the PDF I got back: [CLICK HERE]. They are Turkish, so ignore the occasional typos and misspellings. The bottom line was that I liked how they think, and we kept them busy throughout the summer.
Some of the projects done were:
- Replace the tube on the tender, and clean it
- Figure out, and resolve, a grey water leak that I’ve had for years
- Pressure test the fresh water system, and replace a valve that has been sticking
- Move the backup grey water pump (it was in a place where I couldn’t get at it, making maintenance impossible)
- Clean the bilges
- Clean out the grey and black water tanks
- Fix the underwater lights (one bulb not working)
- Add an electric valve so that I can press a button and route grey water directly overboard, or into my grey water tank, according to the situation
- Replace burnt out LEDs in the electric panel
- Get the bottom ready for bottom painting
Here’s something unusual…
|An electric motor for the tender?
Sans Souci has two tenders: a big tender (15’) and a little tender (8’.) Our original thinking was that we’d drop the little tender when it is just Roberta and I, and use the big tender when we have guests. Our goal for the little tender was that it would be as light as possible, so that we could easily drag it onto beaches. Therefore, I went with a tiny pull-cord outboard motor. In actual practice, we’ve discovered that we never use the little tender. Once a year I drop it in the water, only to discover that the stupid pull-cord won’t start the engine. Engines like to be run, and they clog up when rarely used. It takes just as much effort to drop the large and the small tender, but two tenders require twice the maintenance of a single tender.
I thought about cutting back to a single tender, but it’s nice having two tenders, so that I have a backup. After doing a little research I found the Torqueedo electric motor. It’s perfect for my use. It is fast to charge, and light enough to be stored in a closet. It will only run for a couple hours, but that’s more than enough to make most runs. We’ll see how it actually works, but my hope is that it will need no maintenance, and that it won’t complain about being rarely used.
A review of my new motor:
And, here’s something for the boat-geeks…
Each year, I send the oil from my boat’s engines out to be tested. There are four different diesel engines; the two main engines plus two generators. My test results can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.
I’ve been saying that I believe this will be an exciting year for the blog. Why?
I’m never completely comfortable when going someplace new for the first time, and this year we will be cruising places that are unfamiliar. We have cruising guides, and other boaters to talk to, but it’s still tricky going places for the first time. We have at least four new countries we’ll be visiting (Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia). This means four different countries to clear in and out of, and four sets of authorities to deal with.
The biggest concern for me is always: the wind. There’s a lot to be said for “local knowledge.” Everywhere we go we’ll be going for the first time. We’ll be at anchor most of the time on small islands, in anchorages we’ve never seen.
It’s not wind at sea that I worry about, but wind at anchor. I suspect that most people when thinking about world cruising think about the danger of being out in the middle of the ocean, and a huge storm comes up. In reality, large storms are best handled before leaving the dock. If there is a risk of a large storm, the right answer is: Don’t go to sea.
The bigger problem that I’ve had is dealing with the reasonably frequent 25-40 knot winds that we encounter in the Med. Locals know where the good places are to anchor, we don’t. Locals know which direction the wind comes from, what the bottom consists of, the best places to hide, what the weather patterns are. We know none of that. Crusing guides give some information, but I’ve known them to be wrong, incomplete, or out of date. The wind can sometimes do funny things when sitting at anchor. If you pick the wrong spot, the surrounding terrain can become a funnel, and the wind can literally stack up, then come shooting down the hillside. What might be a 40 knot wind elsewhere can suddenly be a 60 knot wind where the boat is sitting. And, the problem with being at anchor, is that you are close to shore, so there isn’t a lot of time to move if anything goes wrong.
There aren’t a lot of marinas along our route, and those that do exist are mostly too small for our boats to enter. Plus, on my boat, we have an extra challenge. Roberta had shoulder surgery this winter. She can’t help tie up the boat. Entering marinas, if there were any, is a huge challenge for us. Ultimately, my biggest worry is always arriving at an island after a long run, fatigued, and finding no good place to anchor. When the wind is high, it only takes one mistake…
Actually, I’m just being paranoid. I know we’ll have a great time. But, over time I’ve found that agonizing over what can go wrong, and making sure I’m over-prepared, has served me better than when I’ve done the opposite.
Although this year will have technical challenges, the real excitement will come from the places we’ll be visiting. It has always been a dream to cruise the Greek islands on our own boat. After Greece, we will enjoy adventure of a different sort, as we head to Albania, a former communist country, which was effectively closed to the world for fifty years. Then, in Montenegro and Croatia we’ll find hundreds of islands to explore as well as medieval castles and towns to visit. Croatia will have an extra level of interest, in that we’ll be arriving within a week or two of their joining the European Union. My guess is that the entry and customs procedures will still be evolving.
This will be a year to be remembered.
Here’s a book worth checking out…
From Family to Crew – Book about an Australian family acquiring an N62
There’s a new book out, written by an Australian reader of my blog, who purchased a Nordhavn 62. There’s always a big gap between “the dream” and “the reality” of cruising. The books chronicles his, and his family’s experience, as they buy the boat, take delivery, and plan their initial cruise. Entertaining, and educational, plus 150 pages of color pictures. If interested: http://pendana.net/order_book_now
Over the last few months we’ve been accumulating stuff to go to the boat; spare parts, electronics, and more. I knew there was a lot, but when it came time to ship it, the shipment weighed 1,100 pounds!
Normally, Roberta and I take a TON of stuff with us on the plane. Although we keep a full set of clothes on the boat, there always seems to be spare parts and other stuff that needs shipped.
Above you see that our shipment of parts for the year just arrived at the boat in Turkey. This was exceptionally good news. I always agonize when shipping anything that it will actually arrive. Clearing customs can sometimes be an extreme adventure. Also, interestingly, I can see in the picture that it looks like the shrink wrap may be off the boat Yay!!! The boat will have a fresh coat of bottom paint, and be back in the water by this weekend.
That’s it for this installment. My next blog entry will be from Turkey!
PS Here’s an “interesting” email I received from a boater who almost lost their boat during hurricane Sandy.