Winter has again flown by so quickly, we have been at the dock since mid November and upon arrival it felt like we had so much time to do all we wanted but time goes so quickly, and we are now planning our last few weeks at the marina before setting sail again (with still a bit to complete!).
Our biggest project for the winter was to build a hard aluminium dodger (spray hood) over the companionway hatch (where we enter/exit the inside cabin of the boat). This provides shelter when sailing for whomever is in charge of the boat, and provides protection for a lot of our critical control instruments, lines and winches. This has been on Phil’s to do list as a major project since buying the boat, but always with the caveat to do it properly and look like it came with the boat rather than an add on. The canvas dodger was already a few years old (we think at least 5) when we brought the boat and had been repaired already (and a lot more since in our 7 years sailing). I have replaced two of canvas panels and reinforced seams again in 2018 and then replaced the ‘plastic clear windows’ with new plastic and then later sail cloth when a hail storm shattered them all in 2020. Realistically it has been on its last legs for 3 years now, we could no longer open any of the window panels it was all so very very fragile and held together by hand stitching, and haven’t been able to see out of the windows for the last two years. We had heard Turkey was the place to do this work, with great tradesmen for the job. Within a week of docking for winter, we had sourced some fluted plastic sheeting to begin ‘mocking’ up the shape and design we wanted before getting in the professionals to quote for the build. Phil spent two weeks building a frame and template and shaping and changing and refining the hard structure he wanted, then we made windows out of cardboard and placed them, changing sizes and shapes until we settled on what we wanted – we were really pleased.
Then we went out to the recommended skilled tradesmen to get quotes for the work. This is where it didn’t go to plan. We had a few visit the boat and they all admitted they couldn’t do the job justice. They could build it in aluminium (like the boat) but the materials they can source isn’t the high quality marine grade aluminium. The existing aluminium arches and structure on the boat are all finished round and to the highest quality (can’t tell they are welded), and we are thankful to the specialists for being honest and telling us they couldn’t do the work to that standard. The reasons being it would have to be built off site which is a challenge and a risk of not not fitting well, and welding and work on the pontoons is not allowed due to fire risk. We can attest to that as there have already been 3 boat fires since we have been here. This was all a huge disappointment to us but on the bright side they were honest that they couldn’t produce what we wanted which is better than them taking on the job and us being really unhappy with the result. With our bubble burst it was back to the drawing board and we are looking to get a new canvas dodger built.
We also were on the hunt for a new dinghy after our much loved hard bottom Caribe dinghy had its last ride in Malta in June last year. We had brought (for a carton of beer) a second hand inflatable soft bottom replacement dinghy off our friends Andy and Karina on “Tartuga” in Malta, who had upgraded and wanted to offload it. It had been great through Malta, Greece and Turkey but we wanted a hard aluminium bottom dinghy and had been searching Malta, Italy, Greece and Turkey for one over the last 6 months without success. We knew the exact brand and model we wanted just couldn’t find it! We kept being told new shipments for dinghy’s don’t arrive until April, ready for next summer. So imagine our delight when walking in the industrial area of Marmaris we happened to spot a shop which had a Highfield dinghy flag flying out the front. We went inside and spotted a big Highfield (too big for our boat). We told the guy in the shop we were looking for a Highfield Ultralight UL260 (2.6 meters long), he replied “I think I have one in a box unopened out the back”, well did we get excited! The big one on display had sold and was being collected in a week and he said once it was taken out of the shop he would unbox the UL260 set it up, inflate it and give us a call, and furthermore he promised to hold it (not sell it until we had seen it). A week later we were the proud owners of a new Highfield (Australian company) dinghy.
We have had great company in the Marina all winter with a great live aboard community here. There are around 10 other boats with great people on board who we have enjoyed getting to know. We have a weekly get together each Friday night in the bar/restaurant, and often have a beer or hot drink together during the week to discuss boat works/problems or check in on each others projects. Six of them live past us in the marina and stop at our boat to sing us a song on their way home from the pub (drunk) of a weekend – it is quite amusing. They are known as the drunken sailors choir as the first song they sung us was “what shall we do with a drunken sailor”. A note went out the sailing group advertising the choir along the lines of “Drunken sailor choir, meets Friday nights around 11pm outside Red Roo, new members welcome, no previous singing experience necessary”.
Many, many winter jobs were completed over the weeks in the marina, things such as preventative maintenance on major systems, some systems shut down for winter, sewing jobs including a new series drogue deck storage bag & gennaker sail deck storage bag, intensive cleaning inside the boat (every cupboard, locker and nook & cranny cleaned and inspected for mould or any water residue, water tanks cleaned and flushed, fuel tanks cleaned, sails washed, dried and folded and packed away for winter, engine service, oil change & impeller change, gearbox service, propellor maintenance, anode replacements, anchor chain regalvanized, all seacocks cleaned, galley sink drainage pipe replacement, bow locker clean, backstay sheaves inspected and replaced, inspected and maintenance where required, toilet service, rigging inspection, . The big shopping list gets taken to town each time we go, looking for specialist bits, or items to replace used things, or spares that need to be ordered, etc.
Just before Christmas we became offical residents of Turkey (temporary residents). We have offical residency documentation and identity cards. As a tourist we were only allowed to stay for 90 days, which wasn’t quite long enough over winter, but we were able to apply and pay for temporary residency and choose either a 6 or 12 month stay. We chose six months and are now able to stay until the end of May with all the benefits associated to natural citizens, including health insurance and tax numbers etc. This also allowed us to get our COVID Vaccine booster shots which we are both very thankful for.
We celebrated Christmas twice, our American friends on “Sweetie” whom we celebrated Christmas with in Morocco in 2018 hosted Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve (apparently that’s how they do it in the USA), it was a great evening as it was with the crews of Sweetie (USA), Caffe Latte (Canada), Tartuga (Canada) and Pharea (Brazil) whom we had spent last winter with in Tunisia. It was a reunion of sorts and just like being with family, and the typical Christmas feed – we all brought dishes to share and we of course had WAY TOO MUCH excellent food! Then on Christmas Day we had the Marina Christmas Party, here at the marina pub and restaurant. Complete with local musician to sing and DJ for us into the wee hours as we danced, drank and danced some more.
The New Year saw us both go to the private hospital for full thorough medical checks. Can you believe in one day we had blood taken and tested, urine sample tested, ECG heart monitor test, chest x-ray, abdominal ultra sounds, prostate check for Phil, mammogram and pap smear for Maree and then saw the following specialist Doctors with all our test results; General GP/Surgeon, Dentist, Optician, Urologist, Internal Organ Specialist, Neurosurgeon, Ear Nose & Throat Specialist, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Cardiac Specialist, Dermatologist (for skin cancer check) and for Maree the Gynaecologist. All this for $350 Australian Dollars. I am pleased to say we both passed all our tests (without studying!), although we got a few reminders about ageing and how we may not be doing it gracefully.
Time flew by and soon enough it was January 19 our winter haul out date. We took Red Roo around to the slip and the boat hoist wrapped slings under her belly and lifted her out. Always a nervous day but the professionals here know what they are doing. They lift boats all day every day, many of them HUGE. Our neighbour on the hard is “EXTREME” a 40 meter sailing super yacht, with 3 decks (three levels) 6 staterooms, and 4 crew cabins, it caters for 12 guests and 7 crew and is currently for sale for €7.9 million Euros. They have people doing their maintenance, Red Roo’s maintenance work is all done solely by us!!
Once out of the water the weather turned foul again, and living on the boat out of the water is a little harder and a little bit less pleasant so we took the opportunity to go on another road trip with Yo & Jean.
We hired a car and took a week to drive east along the coast. Our hire car guys asked where we were going and were pleased to hear we were travelling along the coast as all the inland roads and highways were covered in snow and dangerous. We actually had to adjust our plans as one of the attractions off our coast road was inaccessible to due to snow, 6 days later on our return journey we were able to visit when the snow had almost but not quite cleared.
Kayaköy (Ghost Town). A Greek settlement in Turkey established around 1860 and abandoned due to the population exchange in 1923 (when the Greeks were sent back to Greece and the Turkish living in Greece were sent back to Turkey). There were 14 chapels, 2 churches, 2 schools & a customs house and 760 houses. The houses although close together do not cover each other in regards to daylight and shade, most houses are 50 m2. They were all built on the hillside on natural ground levels.
Fethiye Region, the sign at Fethiye, a coastal beach along the highway, Saklikent Canyon/Gorge, The Lycian Way Hike (outside of Antalya).
House Tombs (burial chambers) at Fethiye and Myra, dating from the 4th century BC.
Lycian Ruins at Xanthos & Myra
Chimera, it took us two attempts over two days to find the fire in the rocks, natural gas escaping from the rocks which keeps dozens of small fires burning constantly on the rocky hillside. We did test the theory by extinguishing one which sure enough reignited after a couple of minutes. We also toasted hotdogs and marshmallows.
Kekova – The Sunken Village due to an earthquake now all underwater.
Once back at the marina in Marmaris it was time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. We had a BIG job in front of us. We were going to polish the boat and hopefully bring Red Roo back to Red! She was suffering severely with white oxidisation from sun exposure turning her red sides white. We had been approached by several contractors whilst in the water and whilst being hauled out to do this work for us. One came and looked and told us we couldn’t sand and polish it out, the whole boat would need to be stripped and repainted and they would do it for €15,000 Euro, the other group approached us telling us they use the best products and can do the work cheap and really good, they took us to look at a dark blue boat they were polishing. We told them we didn’t think their products would work and that it needed to be sanded, they disagreed and offered to do a test patch to show us how good they work. They did a small A4 size patch about 10am and by the end of the day you couldn’t even see where the patch was, it was back to faded red with white. These people then watched in amazement and visited us daily to see the transformation of ‘white roo’ back to ‘Red Roo’ then they asked how we did it.
It was a long 7 step process;
It took us two weeks, 14 days to do the boat, with a rest day every 4th day which was timed well as it usually rained every 4th day! It felt slow and hard as we were only completing 2 meters along the boat a day working from 9am – 5pm, but really looking at the process we were doing on that 2 meters which was 7 layers, we were actually completing 14 meters a day. I am sure you agree the hard work was worth it. We both worked the entire time, we had hired two scaffolds one set up on each side of the boat. Phil would sand one side while I polished the other, then we would swap as we worked our way down both sides. The stern took three days in itself to finish as so much of it was hand work around the corners and fittings and boat name decals. I congratulate Phil as he had nutted out our strategy and approach over the last few months of cruising last year by doing test patches of all sorts on the hull and seeing how they lasted. Regardless of the test patches it was a brave move to take the sander to the boat with the risk of taking all the paint off, but knowing we had to sand off the white to get the red back.
Our reward for finishing the top sides polish was a very timely one day trip with 5 others from the marina to go skiing for the day. A 2.5 hour drive from the Marina to the ski centre at Nikfer Bozdag Ski Field near Denizli saw us enjoy an incredible day on the slopes. Maree having only ever cross county skied once before in Alaska, spent the day on the learner slope and taught herself to ski, only falling twice! Phil and the others (all very proficient skiers) spent the day up in the hills, first taking the chair lift up to the top, but with limited visibility due to low clouds were skiing flag to flag (not enjoyable) so spent the morning on the t-bar slope before mid afternoon when the sun broke though to reveal the most amazing day! Phil, Jean and Yo were off and cutting up some fresh untracked powder down some cool slopes. They were the first to ski down two great hills, I must say it was amazing to watch them coming down so gracefully throwing up snow each time they turned. Again Turkey turned it on for us and we had an amazing day out, and talk about value for money, it was a great deal. We arranged it through Outback Travel which is run by a Turkish Man who worked in tourism in Australia for 30 years before coming back to Turkey to run his travel business, he was thrilled to arrange this outing for 5 Aussies and 2 Canadians. We had a driver, a tour guide, a Mercedes Van, were driven 3 hours to the snow (stopping for breakfast on the way, included in the deal), a day skiing and also included our evening meal on the return drive home all for equivalent of $65 Aussie dollars each. Phil carries his skis on the boat so didn’t need to worry but it cost Maree an extra $8 to hire ski’s, ski boots, a helmet & poles. The unlimited lift ticket for the day cost us $15.
Talking dollars and how cheap our day out skiing was, it should be said it is all relative. It was a municipality run ski centre and therefore affordable to the average Turkish family. Still very cheap for us but not so much for most Turks who overall have a very low income. Whilst it is a relief for us to be able to live cheaply and enjoy fabulous cheap fresh food at the market, it is only because of the low incomes here for locals that it is all so cheap. I can buy two weeks worth of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat for under $40 Australian dollars (a bunch of coriander is 25 cents, a kilogram of chicken breasts $3.50, potatoes 60 cents a kilogram). Also their currency and dollar (the Turkish Lira) is very vulnerable, and since we arrived in November it has been up and down, in fact within 6 days it went from +21% to fall to -17%. When we arrived we would get 10 TL for every 1 Aussie dollar and in the few months since it has gone from 1 Aussie dollar buying you 7 TL to 12 TL. When we arrived a bus ride from the marina into the city was 4.5 TL (around $0.45 cents) and it is now 13.00 TL (around $1.30).
Whilst we have lived cheaply and therefore been able to afford to tour inland and see a lot of Turkey we have also done our bit to boost the local economy. We have dropped a lot of money in Turkey, buying a brand new dinghy, new canvas work on the sprayhood/dodger, a new custom made (custom shape) bed mattress for the master cabin, a considerable sum spent of the materials to sand, polish and paint Red Roo, full service and overhaul on the dinghy outboard motor, and the cost of a six month marina contract to allow us residency in Turkey.
In finishing this post and to explain the title, we have now been in Turkey 3 going on 4 months and the only words we are proficient in are “merhaba” (hello) and “teşekkür ederim” (thank you very much) – this is by far our worst performance yet in learning the local language. Luckily for us most Turkish folk are very good at English.