Cruise of the Envoy – a good year

by admin

After a scary night dragging her anchor in a 50 knot thunderstorm, envoy continues south to complete her cruise.

PMY’s last issue finished with Envoy in Turkey’s Ildir harbour, dragging anchor at night in over 50 knots of wind, with hail, thunder and lightning all around her.

Although Envoy had been anchored in the same position for several days without problems, the unexpected strong gusts caused her to drag about one hundred metres, and from a depth of 8m to 18m. With the increased fetch further from shore, the choppy waves grew to over a metre as we quickly started the engine to control our drift. This was the first night aboard for our friends Steve and Jane, who had flown non-stop from Christchurch, and Steve (who has considerable boating experience) spent it getting soaked to the skin on our foredeck operating the anchor winch, along with Diane holding a spotlight for him while I eased forward under power to take the strain off the chain. With lights ashore and the beams of our spotlights obscured by the hail, there was little to indicate our position, andt then I noticed the depth shallowing. 

Our navigation computer chose this time to play up (possibly caused by the lightning), and wouldn’t show our position on the C-Map chart, so I needed to use our radar to guide us back into a safe, sheltered anchoring position — it was a tense wait for the radar to warm up to use transmit mode. After safely anchoring again, our adventurous friend Steve said he thought the whole experience was great and exciting — a feeling not shared by the rest of us.

That night the wind blew from all points of the compass at up to 35 knots, requiring me to maintain anchor watch. This was the worst night we experienced during our 2010 cruise, but fortunately for Steve & Jane the weather cleared the following day, and remained fine for the duration of their visit.

Envoy has rarely dragged anchor, and I think this incident was due to the soft mud bottom in Ildir, combined with only having about 55m of chain out in a depth of 8m. For a blow of 40 knots or more I normally lay around 70-80m of chain.

On doing some further research, Envoy’s anchor chain at 9.5mm diameter is marginal for a vessel of her size and when it’s time to replace it we’ll move up to 12mm.

Ancient Ruins at Ephesus

We wanted to leave Envoy for a day to visit the ruins at Ephesus by rental car, so moved to a more secure anchorage at nearby Sifne – a larger, shallower bay with more swinging room. We were the only boat there, and laid plenty of anchor chain to keep Envoy secure in  our absence. Many ancient ruins you see around the Med are little more than piles of rubble, and you can easily get “ruined out” after seeing a few sites. Ephesus however has been well preserved, and is a Turkish “must-see”. At the site’s entrance is the usual collection of restaurants and souvenir shops, and one struck our eye with a sign saying “Genuine Fake Watches.

” We’d been advised to hire a guide to fully explain the ruins, and this proved to be good value for an investment of Lire 90 (about NZ$80), as our history graduate guide was a mine of information presented in a charming manner. Ephesus was a prosperous city by 600BC, and later became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus then had a population of 250,000, but this declined after a thousand years, when the harbour silted up, making sea access no longer possible (nowadays Ephesus is about eight miles from the coast.)

Ephesus also features the largest remaining ancient Great Theatre – built by the Romans in the 1st century, capable of seating 25,000 people, and still used today for live performances.

Down Turkey’s West Coast

On the way to the fishing village of Sigacik, where Steve and Jane would leave us, we anchored two nights in Alicanti, one of Europe’s major windsurfing areas. Here we had yet another gale warning! This proved to be not as serious as the previous one, but the wind shifted from south to north, so we had to re-anchor.

When we retrieved our anchor we had a long fishing net tangled in the anchor chain, and I had no hesitation in cutting it free as the wind was blowing the net back on us, and it could easily have become tangled in our running gear.

After saying farewell to Steve and Jane we cruised further south to a sheltered bay called Akbuk Limani in the Gulf of Korfezi, and not far north of Bodrum. We had one passage of nine hours, covering about 45NM into a southerly wind of 15-20 knots putting up seas of about 1.5m as a pod of dolphins cavorted alongside.

Approaching the Samos Channel (separating mainland Turkey from the Greek Island of Samos) we encountered a classic katabatic wind, with thick clouds falling down the Turkish coastal mountain tops. The wind increased to over 40 knots, blowing sheets of spray off the sea and kicking up a 1.5m “washing machine” chop until we cleared the channel.

An Indian Summer

We were now into late October, and the usual idyllic Med weather had finished with the passing of September. We sat out a further gale warning in the sheltered Akbuk Limani for a few days, and then headed further south to anchor off the quaint village of Torba in perfect “Indian summer” conditions – blue skies, no wind, glassy seas, temperatures in the low 20s, and here our friend Chris joined us for the cruise back to Marmaris.

How quickly you forget the strong winds and rain – now we were back to swimming every day and BBQs at night. This confirmed our decision to keep cruising until mid-November was the right one, and we’ll do the same this year.

From Torba we cruised south and east around the Bodrum Peninsula to Bodrum, and anchored again off the spectacular St Peter’s Castle. By now the holiday season was long over, many shops and restaurants were boarded up for the winter, and fresh supplies were harder to obtain.

Chris is a self-confessed “geek”, and very knowledgeable about computers, cameras, mobile phones, stereo systems etc. He likes to be busy, and is very practical, having the nickname “MacGyver” due to his fix-it capabilities, and helped us out on a whole range of maintenance jobs. Chris gave us an amazing Cree brand black aluminium LED torch. Although it’s only 105mm long, and powered by 3 x AAA batteries, the 190 lumens of light it emits is brighter, with a longer range than our large spotlight powered by eight D batteries. It also has 3 power settings plus 5 zoom options for different conditions – a must for boats. We joked over our evening Efes beers about Chris being a “Geek bearing gifts”.

We spent a few days anchored near the well-known Marti Marina, as this is a very sheltered anchorage and winds of 20-30 knots were forecast. The winds never eventuated though, and we got only a few gusts up to 18 knots. Having a drink at a shore-side taverna, we met a British guy who’s been living alone aboard his well-maintained yacht alongside the taverna’s jetty for 12 years without moving. This seemed a shame to us, with so many delightful places along this coast to cruise and explore, but you do meet some unusual people when cruising.

We moved on to Bozburun – a small, charming village where large numbers of Turkish gulets (charter boats) were laid up for the winter. We inspected a gulet under construction on the shore, and thought the Turkish boat-building methods quite primitive compared to those in New Zealand. Chris and I took six 30-litre water containers ashore to fill – for the last time! This year we should have our water maker operational, and we hope that hunting for water, and lugging heavy containers to fill Envoy’s tanks will be a distant memory.

Cruise of the Envoy Returns to Marmaris

We thought about briefly visiting the nearby delightful Greek island of Simi, but the bureaucratic requirements are too great. We would have needed to clear-out of Turkey, clear-in to Greece, and then do the reverse. Many sailing yachts do such visits without observing these formalities, but Envoy is unusual and conspicuous and regularly attracts Coastguard’s attention, and we didn’t want to risk having improper documentation.

We moved on to Bozuk Buku – the site of the ancient city of Loryma – and climbed up a hillside overlooking the bay to inspect the ruins of the mighty citadel constructed 2,300 years ago and still largely intact. It defies imagination how people with primitive tools were able to cut massive blocks of stone, transport them up hillsides, and set them so exactly that gaps between the stones are barely discernable. Bozuk Buku was our last destination before on Monday 15 November we berthed in Marmaris Yat Marin marina for the winter. It was great to see there the first of the many Nordhavn passagemakers built – “Frog Kiss”, a Nordhavn 46 like Envoy.

This marina is said to be the largest in the Med, and one of the largest single marinas in the world, having 650 berths, and 1,000 hardstand spaces. Despite reduced occupancy, due to increased costs in Turkey and the global economic situation, they are still expanding, and are installing a new 1,000-tonne travel lift in 2011.

The marina has great facilities, and many activities organised – both by the occupants and management – and every day a VHF radio net advertises these. Diane and I partake in some activities, but mainly prefer to do our own thing. Most technical services are resident there, and they have to pay the marina operators a commission of 15% of their charged-out labour – of course this means the boat owner pays in the end. External contractors entering the marina have to pay the operators Lire 30 (about NZ$27) per day, even if only coming in for half an hour, and this is a real bone of contention among the cruisers.

End Envoy’s 2010 Adventure

The weather in Marmaris stayed surprisingly warm and fine, and only in early December started to be wintry with temperatures under 20°C, though the sea water temperature was
PPBstill 21°C. We departed from Marmaris in mid-December, leaving Envoy on the hardstand under her full storage cover for protection during the winter months.

We had spent 234 days aboard, cruised 1,782 nautical miles, and logged 361 engine hours. There was no sadness about our departure; we’d had a great time, had plenty to look forward to back in New Zealand, and would be returning in early April.

During 2011 we plan to cruise north to Ayvalik, exit Turkey westward to explore the Greek Islands of Lesvos, Limnos and Thasos, cruise the Macedonian area known as the “Three Fingers”, and then the Northern Sporades and Evia, head back east to Turkey’s Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara, possibly enter the Black Sea, and then head south to Marmaris for a last winter there before we head west. PPB’s next issue will cover the costs involved in living on a passagemaker, some of the technical issues of the 2010 cruise and our return to Marmaris in 2011. Hopefully, getting Envoy ready for sea this year will be simpler than last.

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