Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Last Chapter, goodbye to summer.

Awatea had a number of guests in October including John’s brother Robert and his wife Ellen from Australia. Mark Bartlett from New Zealand and Sharon Fraser from China. Awatea sailed over 3000 nautical miles this summer visiting a number of countries.


This brings us to the end of another truly magnificent summer season in beautiful Turkey. Last but not least, thanks to all who make thisTurkey sailing a great success; see you guys in our next Chapter ~ Croatia!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Friends from Singapore joining Awatea

Sunday 9 September 2012
Athi, Brian, Graham (scribe), Nai and Walter travelled to Istanbul SAW airport (memories of traipsing endlessly in the heat across derelict but strangely new terminal buildings for a free CIP coffee) to catch the early evening flight to Dalaman. Earlier discussions had established that we were all new to yachting and sailing. There was a certain amount of apprehension expressed at being trapped on a small ship for five days under unknown conditions with Captain Queeg. More anon. Once safely arrived at Dalaman in the gathering darkness, we took Captain Queeg’s, sorry, John's recommended Merc 8-seater and driver for a very good transfer to Fetheyie. This was certainly worth the extra over the bus. We arrived safely and joined the good ship Awatea at the Classic Yacht Hotel marina, arriving at about 9pm.

After greetings and refreshings, an excellent late dinner was enjoyed in the hotel restaurant with a toast to "absent friends" as we keenly missed our other host, Woei Haw (Desmond), who was still stuck variously in Cyprus, Malaysia and Singapore with Turkish visa issues and so couldn’t be with us .... damn it. 

(Late post script … finally his visa was all sorted out OK and he and John returned to Turkey together on 29 September after a few days in Singapore.)

Monday 10 September 2012
Capt J and Graham joined Sarah, John’s good acquaintance from the East Med Rally earlier in the year who was moored nearby at 7am and went for a 90min brisk walk round the bay.

This was followed by breakfast on board as the rest of the laggards had surfaced by then. 

After clearing away, the whole ship's party walked into town for some shopping and sight-seeing, eventually being dragged away to get back on board ready for departure, which was achieved about 2pm.

Once we had motored out of the bay, we had an exhilarating sail in perfect conditions for the late afternoon, finally arriving at a bay close to St. Nicholas' Island, where we dropped anchor for the night. 

An excellent Thai dinner from our two chefs Athi and Nai - chicken green curry, omelet, steamed rice  and salad - was enjoyed with suitable libations (grog for the Captain, of course and G&T for the more discerning passengers.) Walter introduced us to his collection of Schnapps, purely for medicinal purposes so as to settle the stomach. 

The stay was mildly marred by a plague of wasps, which brought out the more blood thirsty and cruel elements of our more usually mild captain and crew. The swell rocked us to sleep in berths and on deck, although sound sleep was marred by the crying of the boom as it also rocked from side to side.

Tuesday 11 September 2012
At 7am, Graham bought the wrong bread and received much abuse. Later on, Thai cooks provided a full and excellent breakfast followed by a set of highly civilized cappuccinos for all, constructed (it's the only word) by John. The facilities on board lack nothing! We then motored south to look closely at the archeological ruins on the island without paying landing fees, then we headed on to view the Blue Lagoon beaches, bodies and busyness and the foolhardy hang gliders descending from the impossibly high peak above us. A tout in a dinghy provided useful data on the sport ... forty minutes flights after a forty minute truck trip to the mountain top for about TL100, flying in tandem with an experiences pilot, very very safe and fully insured. 

We love that contradiction, but it must be good to know that you're fully insured when falling from 6,000 feet or so with no parachute. We then partly retraced our steps to Cold Water Bay where we anchored with the help of the smiling and handsome single-handed assistance of Agung inhis dinghy. Once all secure we had a huge mixed salad lunch, once more courtesy of our Thai chefs. The afternoon was spent digesting, swimming and watching the cliff divers from the various noisy tourist boats that backed into the bay close to us for about 30 minutes at a time. 

Nai represented Awatea magnificently by diving twice from ever-higher points on the cliff, much to Walter and Brian's concern, alloyed with justifiable pride. [photos] The upper fresh layer of water from a spring was surprisingly chilly compared to the underlying salt water, making for an interesting swim. In the evening our single-handed ferryman took us ashore, landing by his tented home on the small beach under an olive tree. We puffed our way up the path to a magnificent hidden restaurant, Ali's Place, doing a roaring trade from the 14 or so yachts anchored below. The roaring fire alongside the barbecue took the cooking fumes and smoke skyward very neatly rather than having them drift across the diners. A clever concept. We all enjoyed some very good Turkish tucker (see, I can speak Oz - just a little) that was complemented by a very good red wine. 

The lamb meatballs were great, as was the skewered mixed grilled meats. Our Thais talked with the Thai waitress, who was the sister of the owner's wife. Confusingly were told about food being available for breakfast once the kitchen opened next morning, rather than the hoped-for invitation for a complimentary meal.  But that was tomorrow’s problem. Tonight, the ferry trip courtesy of Agung back to Awatea went without incident and the usual nightcaps were taken once on board. This proved to be a brief interlude for your sleepy scribe who left the others imbibing and retired to an excellent night very shortly after taking his first sip of single malt while the others forced down their purely medicinal schnapps of a various flavours.

Wednesday 12 September 2012
Awatea is two years old today ... Happy Birthday.

Ever optimistic where food is concerned, we summoned Agung once more for a lift ashore to once again ascend the path to Ali's restaurant under brilliant blue skies with a lovely cooling breeze and increasingly wonderful views of the bay and the moored yachts through the trees. 

Our hopes were realized and the breakfast was both adequate and complimentary and was enjoyed in the most magnificent of settings despite a recalcitrant toaster. On the walk back the donkey posed for its photo very nicely.

Back on board, we had coffee then prepared to cast off with a bit of a wait for Agung, who, after releasing our ropes, beamed to receive his reward of a couple of beers. We motored away from Cold Water Bay then raised the sails and tacked out in a freshening breeze and another stunningly gorgeous day. Once round the point on a long close-hauled tack across Fetheyie Bay the breeze increased to let Awatea show her paces for a couple of hours of exhilarating sailing in fabulous conditions. Our Thai chefs Athi and Nai managed to whip up a great lunch of steamed rice, fried minced beef with basil leaf and salad despite the problems in the galley due to tacking and a reasonable swell. Walter was torn between his new love of continuing to steer Awatea or handing over to John so he could follow his other love ... eating lunch.

Sailing got a good bit more exciting when we passed through the narrow channel between the mainland and Domuz Island, tacking furiously into the headwind. Most of the passengers had never come about so often in years. The other yachts making the passage all dropped their sails and motored but through but the skill and bravery of our Captain prevailed and we burst through under full sail. 

Once in the enclosed waterways the wind was very variable, first screened and then funneled by the hills and valleys. At one point we sailed into a squall that hit the sails before the ship had a chance to heel over and we got a shock as there was a big "bang" from the fore deck area. On investigation we found that the genoa car holding the foresail had partly failed. (That’s the bit at the back bottom of the sail where it fastens to a track in the deck, allowing the foresail to flip from side to side for ach tack.) We continued on mainsail only to Ortisim Bay where after a false start with a dragging anchor we finally moored up stern to shore, with thanks to Nai for his efforts to swim the line ashore each time. We moored a few tens of meters from a gullets (local chartered holiday boat), from which a Turkish crew member shouted a confused message having seen us showering on deck that we shouldn't pee in the water. Hah! As if we would. We suspect that the deck hose water had confused the poor man.

The damaged genoa car was found to result from a stress corrosion cracked stainless steel alloy shackle that had cracked almost 80% across before the added stress of the blast of wind on the vertical sail snapped the remaining metal. We reflected soberly that it was a bloody good thing that it hadn't failed while tacking up the narrow Domuz channel or things could have been disastrous. That called for a drink; sober reflections are not good.

Dinner was a magnificent Thai meal once more – this time of Penang Curry chicken, Tom Yam seafood soup, omelet, steamed rice followed by fresh fruits and another set of Walter's schnapps to settle our stomachs.

Thursday 13 September 2012
A convivial full breakfast was enjoyed early and then all cleared up as we prepared to release the stern line, courtesy of the great white whale (your scribe took to the waters early today) and then weigh the anchor (about 12 kilos without chain) ready to head back to Fethyie for our last night together. The damaged genoa car prevented sailing, so it was steady motoring under great conditions. We admired several of the other craft on the waters close to us, particularly one good-sized magnificent two-masted yacht that performed some odd manoeuvres around us. We responded by giving them a turn ourselves, but without any apparent effect. We were surprised by how small Awatea’s turning circle was. She seemed to do 360 degrees in little more than her own length. Leaving a crop circle on the surface of the sea behind us, all too soon we were entering Fetheyie Bay. John became increasingly apprehensive as mooring time approached. The Classic Yacht Hotel jetty was pretty busy, so we had to reverse into a narrow single gap with the stiffening wind on the beam and lots of onlookers. His apprehensions proved ill-founded as he skillfully handled his craft and commanded the crew. Oooh … so masterful! And there we were, safely back where we started. While the crew washed down the topsides and tidied up, your scribe took a walk to Swirling Eddie’s ships chandlers to get spare shackles modified to repair the genoa car. These were delivered within 3 hours and Walter and Graham effected the repair in the early evening. We’ve heard since then that it all seems to work ok, which makes it all rather satisfying.

Once the ship was ship-shape, it was showers and change into shore rig and off into town for a shave and haircut (for some) and shopping for others before returning to pack and freshen up before our pre-prandial drinks followed by another excellent dinner at the hotel and a relatively early night for most of us. Our two younger Thais headed back into town to explore the nightlife and only returned in the early hours.

Friday 14 September 2012 
We were all up early this final morning for showers onshore and coffee and tea on board before having to gather our bags on the jetty and finally set off to the front of the hotel and the waiting transport to the airport that duly turned up on schedule at 7.20am. All the five newbies to yachting were really sad to be leaving and universally declared that five days just wasn’t enough and that we all want to come back to do lots more for at least 3 or 4 weeks next time. Our sincere thanks to Captain Johnnie for looking after us so well and for allowing us to sail on his wonderful ship and home, the Awatea!

Back to Turkey, Andre's birthday and Melly & Nick Visit

Back To Turkey 
The time has come to say goodbye to Israel and depart on our journey back to Turkey. Doug and Sara were welcomed onto ‘Awatea’ as crew to replace Robert for this long leg of our trip. John’s intention was to sail to Crete, but headwinds made this impossible. So the course was set and it was off to Monastery Bay in Northern Cyprus.

Whilst in Haifa a new AIS system was installed, and in Herzliya a new lazy jack system was fitted and the engine serviced in preparation for the trip back.  All that was left was to provision the yacht and it was all systems go.  We checked out of Herzliya at 1315 hours on the 1st July – a long time since beginning the EMYR in Istanbul back on 23rd April.  The winds were favorable and we were sailing at 8 knots for most of the afternoon. However that evening the wind came around to the North and we started to motor. The AIS system that was installed in Israel is working well. 
We arrived off Monastery Bay at 0500 hours on the 3rd July. Weather conditions were not good as the wind was blowing into the bay, causing a considerable swell.  It was not suitable to anchor so it was decided to carry on to Karpas Gate Marina – very disappointing as we were all looking forward to having a couple of days at anchor and enjoying the opportunity to swim and relax. We sailed around the North Eastern point of Cyprus and as we headed down the coast towards the marina, the wind started to get stronger and a swell started to build up.  All in all not the most pleasant conditions, and by the time we arrived at the marina at 0930 hours the wind was around 35 knots and the sea was crazy.  It was good to be in the shelter of a safe marina.
Next day was a short hop to Girne. Not a breath of wind so we stopped in a bay and had a swim before arriving at Delta Marina mid afternoon. We spent a few days in this lovely city and also caught up with Kath & Dave who have made this delightful town their home. One of the evenings we went to their place to have dinner.  Dave had caught a large tuna on the trip back from Israel, and we had delicious tuna steaks cooked to perfection on the BBQ, with lovely salads and potatoes.

Woei Haw had flown across from Turkey to join the yacht for a few days. John, Derek & WH decided to hire a car and visit the South of the island. Dave organized a car for us as not all hire companies let their cars go across to the south, and on Friday we had to do a trip across the border into Nicosia to arrange the insurance and tax required by the Greek Cypriot authorities. Kath came with us and we took the opportunity to stock up on a few items not readily obtainable in the Turkish north. On Saturday we drove around the coast to cross over into the south at a small check point, rather than going back through Nicosia.  Unfortunately this was a lot easier said than done as we were held up at the boarder for 1.5 hrs. Apparently we required our passports to be stamped and they were not able to do so, as were not an immigration check point. Finally after much toing and froing, numerous phone calls and faxes and finally approval from someone, they let us through. We spent a nice few days exploring the southern side of the island. It’s rather sad, as technically the North and the South are still at war and there is still a lot of bitterness! But nice to be able to enjoy some pork!!!

We checked out of Northern Cyprus at 1125 hours on the 11th July heading for Turkey which we could see in the far distance. There was no wind and the sea like a mill pond, so we motored until a lovely breeze set in around 1800 hours. Sara made some beautiful garlic prawns for dinner, and we sailed all through the night to reach Alanya at 0700 hours.

We stayed several days here as we applied for resident permits. This proved to be frustrating as the bureaucracy in Turkey is unbelievable. However, within a couple of days we had all the necessary paper work completed, and ready to be lodged. We sailed to Side for the weekend with our friends Sarah & Neville from ‘Taralee’. It is a beautiful coastal resort area approximately 15kms east of Antalya, and was an ancient Greek City with many historical sites including colossal ruins of an amphitheatre, the agora and Roman baths.  Dinner on the Friday night was a BBQ on ‘Taralee’ and Saturday night a fantastic seafood feast at one of the many restaurants ashore.  We had an enjoyable time – lots of laughs and drinking, including an impromptu “swim up bar” at the back of their catamaran. The weather was very hot and humid - 35deg at 0600 hours in the cabin!


We sailed back to Alanya for a few days and we lodged the paperwork for the resident permits. It was then time to leave and make our way further west. We arrived in Cineviz Lamini after dark. This is a fantastic sheltered bay with high cliffs on all sides. We spent several days here enjoying the surroundings. The weather was hot, so lots of swims and a nice relaxing time. We had dinner at a very basic little restaurant at the end of the bay the first night and the menu was fish or fish, which as it happened was very nice fish.  It was cooked in front of us on an open fire and accompanied by salad and freshly cooked chips done in a big cauldron on the fire.  The next night Doug cooked us the All American Hamburger. They were very nice however we all got hit by a really nasty bout of food poisoning during the night and were all sick for 48 hours! Not that we are blaming Doug’s burgers – but have no idea what brought it on.

After we had mostly recovered we set sail for Finike, where Sara was meeting up with her uncle on a Nicolson 42 which he is planning to sail back to Australia this year. Once again there was no wind so we had to motor. After a day here it was onto Kekova Roads, which was only 26 miles away. This place is so special.  We spent several days in and around the area catching up with other yachties, and a Kiwi couple Joe & Annabelle from Tauranga. The weather was just great, hot and sunny with water temp of 28 deg. Talk about paradise!!!!
Kas was our next port of call. We stayed here for two weeks as the marina which is stunning, was having a special. It was also the start of the Olympics in London, so watching that was a must. Several days and nights were spent at one or another of the local bars glued to the television.  We also had to hire a car and drive back to Alyana to collect our residents permits. Thankfully they were ready and waiting for us, and we are all allowed to stay in Turkey for 12 months. We drove back to Antalya and stayed the night in the old quarter at a superb little boutique hotel called Alp Pasa, an Ottoman-style mansion dating from the middle 18th century. 

In the morning we drove out to the ancient site of Aspendos, about 44 km from Antalya and known for the best preserved Roman age theatre of the Mediterranean World.  It is one of the most magnificent structures of it’s period, and could accommodate 7000 – 8000 people.

Woei Haw had to leave Turkey as his permit had expired. He had applied for a work permit but this didn’t come through. So he went to Cyprus to run his business.
Kas is a great town with the best marina in the Mediterranean - fantastic swimming pool, great shops and restaurants etc. We did a couple of day sails out with friends which was very enjoyable, and John is thinking of wintering the yacht here as the price is right!

It was time to depart this delightful town and we sailed to Kastelorizo, the easternmost island of Greece, and about 2kms from Kas.  


We were joined by Andre and Tyna and their daughter from Tyna Two’ and had a delightful lunch at a lovely restaurant on the quayside.  After lunch we took a small boat to see Kastelorizo’s own "Blue Grotto", a seacave with electric shades of blue when the sun outside shines into openings below sea level and hits the water just right.  

The entrance is a small gap at sea level and we had to get right down in the boat to pass through.  Once inside it is like a huge Cathedral, just amazing!  We took the opportunity to dive in and float around looking up at the ceiling of the cave, which was surreal. 

It was back on the westerly course again and we anchored off St Nickolas Island for several days. Our friends from ‘Taralee’ were also there so a few fun nights were had.
Our destination was Fethiye, which was to be ‘Awatea’s’ home for the next three weeks. Doug and Sara left the yacht and John’s friends Mellissa and Nick joined the crew for the next two weeks. They are most welcome guests as they brought an icemaker for the yacht! John is wondering what they will bring next year!!


After a perfect week sailing around the Gocek Bay area, and anchoring in some absolutely beautiful bays, we experienced a major problem with the anchor winch, so returned to Fethiye to have it repaired.  John, Mel & Nick had another week cruising the bay area, and no sooner had they left and the next guests were arriving.  Derek had decided to leave ‘Awatea’ and spent time catching up with friends before meeting up again in Fethyie for Andre from ‘Tyna Two’s’ 60th birthday. 


It was a great function at the Yacht Classic restaurant with quite a lot of the EMYR crowd meeting up for the occasion.  A couple of days after the party we sailed ‘Awatea’ to her new winter home in Kas.   

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

It was up with the sparrows as an early start was the order of the day for a land trip into the Kingdom of Jordan.  It was also a sad farewell to Robert as he was flying back to Australia later in the day.
John had organized a five day trip for anyone that was interested. There was eight of us in all - Suzie &  David from “Kookaburra”, Andrew & Shirley from “Amazing”,  John & Derek from “Awatea” and  Doug and Sara who have been crewing on  different yachts during the latter part of the rally.  
It was a 5 hour bus ride from Tel-Aviv to Eilat, Israel’s Southern most City located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, where we were to cross the border into Jordan. The countryside was visually stunning as the bus made it’s way down towards the Dead Sea, and then along the valley floor onto Eilat where the temperature was 45deg!  A short taxi drive to the border crossing, and after completing the departure formalities for Israel, walking across “no man’s land”, and then the arrival formalities for Jordan, all without any problems, our tour group was in the Kingdom of Jordan within an hour after arriving in Eliat.
We picked up the two rental cars that John had booked, and left the city of Aqaba and headed for the ancient city of Petra. The drive was good on excellent highways with some of the most dramatic natural scenery in the Middle East.  Seemingly inhospitable desert and big barren mountains, all under a deep blue sky makes one wonder how people can live in such a harsh environment. We arrived at Petra and checked into the Marriott Hotel – absolute sheer luxury after 4 months on a sailing yacht.

That evening we did a tour of Petra by Night.  To visit Petra during daylight is awe-inspiring; to experience it at night by the light of 1,800 lanterns (actually brown paper bags half filled with sand and a candle in each) is truly out-of-this-world! We walked through the canyons following a candle-lit path to the Treasury (Al-Khazneh) and listened to the haunting music of the Bedouins, while sitting on mats and drinking tea they brought around.  It was truly a stunning and unforgettable way to see one of the “New Wonders of The World”.

Next morning was amazing yet again. It was a day spent exploring this stunning city and nothing really prepares you for this amazing place. It has to be seen to be believed.  It is a vast, unique city, carved into sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled here more than 2000 years ago, turning it into an important junction for the silk, spice and other trade routes that linked China, India and Southern Arabia with Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome.

Entrance to the city is through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1km in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring, 80m high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colours and formations of the rocks are dazzling. As we reached the end of the Siq we were back at the Treasury, a massive façade 30m wide and 43m high carved out of the sheer, dusky pink rock-face and dwarfing everything around it.  It was carved in the early 1st century as the tomb of an important Nabataean King.  

The Treasury is merely the first of the many wonders that make up Petra. There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings - unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife and 500 have survived, empty but bewitching as you file past their dark openings. 

Here also is a massive Nabataean-built, Roman-style theatre, which could seat 3,000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets, and high above, overlooking the valley, is the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery – a flight of 800 rock cut steps takes you there. The thought of all those steps was all too much, so most of the crews took a donkey ride up to the Monastery, the most impressive building of the entire complex. 
Reaching 50 metres into the air, it is also the largest in all of Petra. The poor donkeys had to work so hard carrying their portly cargos! But the views at the top were breath taking! That evening dinner was a traditional feast in a Bedouin Tent with food cooked in the ground, and authentic live music. 

We left Petra after breakfast for the long car ride to Amman via the Kings Way. We stopped off at a number of Crusader Castles, usually built on top of hills with great views over the land. Lunch was at Karak, the magnificent Crusader fortress town. The Kings' Highway winds through the picturesque, shallow Wadi Wala valley, then plunges 600 meters into Jordan's miniature Grand Canyon, the Wadi Mujib which was spectacular.

We arrived at Amman without a decent map and we were using John’s iphone for directions to the hotel, which was fine until it ran out of power! Amman is a large Arab city and driving is somewhat different to what we are used to! Five lanes of traffic on a three lane road, and cars coming at you from all directions – aaahhhh!!! However with our very limited map, lots of valuable input from the passengers and some fortuitous luck, Derek managed to get us safely to the hotel. It was a long drive so after a few well deserved beers, we all had dinner in the hotel.
Next day after breakfast we drove to Jerash, located 48 km north of Amman and nestled in a quiet valley among the mountains of Gilead, and which boasts an unbroken chain of human occupation dating back more than 6,500 years. 

It is the grandeur of Imperial Rome being one of the largest and most well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the World outside Italy To this day, its paved and colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theaters, spacious public squares and plazas, baths, fountains and city walls pierced by towers and gates, remain in exceptional condition. We had a late lunch at Jerash and returned to Amman and our hotel. That evening we had dinner in an up market part of town at the Wild Jordan Café, overlooking the energetic downtown and offering a unique panoramic view - which as it happens was an ideal location as we were treated to some spectacular fireworks which were in honour of the King of Jordan’s son turning 18 years old.
Next morning we were up early at 5.00am (even before the sparrows) for the long drive to Wadi Rum and then across the border back to Israel and the long bus ride back to the yacht.
We arrived at Wadi Rum at 09.00am and had a good basic breakfast before setting off on a 2 hour tour of this “Land of T.E. Lawrence”.

Our tour guide was an 18 year old Bedouin lad, and our transport was a very old Range Rover running on only 5 cylinders!  Wadi Rum is also known as ‘The Valley of the Moon’, and is the place where Prince Faisal Bin Hussein and T.E. Lawrence based their headquarters during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in World War I, their exploits woven into the history of this amazing area.
It was back on the road for the 70km run to Aqaba to drop off the rental cars and cross the border back into Israel, and get to the bus station before 3 pm! Jordan is a truly magnificent country to visit and a definite ‘must see’! Words just don’t do it justice! We arrived back on the yacht at Herzliya at 8.00pm and headed out for fusion food at one of the many restaurants at the shopping complex attached to the marina.  All in all a memorable way to finish our time in this part of the world.