12 December 2018

Milly Finds Winter Home In Finike

Our winter view from Milly's cockpit/sunroom.  One of the best parts about being here is our phenomenal natural setting.  Makes me smile!
Milly essentially becomes a house for the Mediterranean winter - a floating one.  We are now tied to a dock in Finike on the south coast of Turkey.  TomTom is tucked away, water maker is pickled, screecher is dropped and stored, enclosure is secured, Christmas lights are on.

Finike is the warmest climate we can expect in the Med, apart from Cyprus and Israel where we hope to spend the latter months of the season.  The sea is warmer in the eastern Med so although at the same latitude as Monastir, Tunisia, last years wintering spot, it is a bit warmer.  And, unfortunately much wetter - so far anyway.  The rain has brought snow to the nearby mountains which makes a beautiful backdrop on clear days.
Thousands of orange trees heavy with fruit lined our bike route.

Finike is a small port town surrounded by citrus orchards.  Further along the coast are innumerable greenhouses full of tomato plants.  Very friendly, welcoming locals with a lively cruising community. We're busy with hammam and symphony outings, barbecues, coffee mornings, music nights, Turkish lessons, bike rides and we've only been here a few days.

It's bound to be a fun winter exploring a stunning country and culture with friends.  We're looking forward to it.

26 November 2018

A Good News Post - One Day Cruising Turkey

Milly tied to shore.  No neighbours.  Idyllic!
After Boras, Meltemis and Tornados, it's time for a "perfect cruising day" post.

We're in Turkey for the winter, cruising along the coast to get to our winter marina.  The coast is spectacular - very high mountains plunging into the blue sea and dressed in pine green over orange or silver rock.  We started with a downwind sail from our peaceful, post-tornado anchorage in the misty morning.  Anchored with a line to shore in a secluded, long rock lined cove, reportedly packed with boats in high season.  Today empty, Milly being the only occupant.  Hike up, up, up a rough lane with a view of the bay on one side and pine forest on the other.  Eventually we came to an ancient ruin (still) standing on a hill overlooking a narrow agrarian valley with small fields and smaller sheds, the only sign of human development.   Only the sounds of sheep/goats, birds, donkeys braying, and roosters, wind in the trees and gravel beneath our feet.  No power lines in sight, no car or truck motors.  Nothing but the sounds of nature.  We even spoke quietly.  Back down to the boat in the heat of the sun.  Even a quick dip in the 22.5 C water.

Peace restored after our adrenalin pumped tornado experience.

The coast is beautiful from the sea - always.

Oh yeah!  My first real hike without crutches.  I am forever - I hope - grateful for mobility.

Ancient Lydae.  Roman and Byzantine ruins.  Unimaginable to be in a country where aged ruins are a dime a dozen, lying on an isolated hilltop to be viewed only by a few who happen by.  

Looking down our "bay".  Glorious!
November 23, 2018
Kizilkuyruk Koyu
N36.37' E28.52'

21 November 2018

Twister Terror

The second of two tornados clocked at 147 knots as it roared through the marina and pummelled the poor boats there.   Only about 600 m away, we could see large pieces of debris flying into the air.  And then it came towards us!

One of the most common questions I get from landlubbers is if I am ever scared and I have been able to honestly respond 'No".  Until today....

Peter and I got up to another dreary grey day (the 5th).  Rain pelted down in fits and bursts.  Storm cells came marching past with close enough lightning that we went through our usual routine of putting all electronics in the oven.

Then, just after 1 p.m., Peter yelled at me to come and see this, "Quick, it's scary."  Over and touching down on the marina was a huge, chaotic cloud swirling.  As we watched it began to move toward us, like a big steam roller on it's side.  Absolutely terrifying!  It came closer and closer.  Peter was preparing to turn on the engines to take pressure off our anchor.  All I could imagine was all the stuff on our boat - canvas, enclosure and two heavy bikes - becoming flying torpedos.  I yelled at him to get inside.  We both watched from the portlights as the twister came toward us, obscuring everything under it as it came.  The small sailboat that we had thought was a little too close for comfort over the last few days disappeared briefly as the outside of the tornado swept by on us.  We could feel Milly shuddering and lifting.  As quickly as it came, it passed and dissipated on the mountains behind us.

What I really needed was a video.  I didn't gather my wits enough to pick up the camera until it was well passed and dissipating but we could hear the trees cracking and see the cloud swirling UP.  So wild!

We scanned the anchorage aan saw that a 16 m or so day tour boat - somebody's source of income - was capsized.  As Peter picked up the VHF to alert the marina, a dinghy came out but it was too late. With a hiss and bubbles frothing the big boat sank within about 5 minutes of capsizing.  So sad.

The stern of the tour boat as it sank from view.
The coast guard got to the sinking point within another few minutes and put two divers in the water, probably to ensure no one was on the boat and perhaps to mark it with a buoy.  As the divers were down another tornado appeared bearing down on the marina.

This one was a well-formed, defined twister.  It roared like a train.  Debris was sucked up into it.  And then it came toward us and the small dinghy coast guard boat.  Somehow the two guys on top communicated to the guys below.  We watched as they levitated - adrenalin can do that - into the boat and sped off just in time.

Again I watched from the port light, yelling at Peter to get inside.  But he was watching.  It doesn't come too fast - there is time for him to walk the 8 feet into the cabin.  So we watched.

It was already dissipating when I got the courage to come outside.  That is not more than 100 m away from us!
 Within minutes of the second passing and along with a couple of other boats in the anchorage, we decided to leave!  We thought we were on a squall/tornado line that had been marching along all morning.  We weighed anchor and moved 5 NM away to a calm, sunny bay.

So strange, so very scary.  We were helpless.  All we could do was watch and hope....
On our way to blue sky while enormous, dramatic clouds still hung over our old anchorage.

We were very lucky.  Not so the owner of the tour boat.  We have since heard from friends that several sailboats in the marina were thrown off their dry dock stands and "thrown about".  A pontoon was ripped off the sea wall.  A floating motor yacht was heavily damaged and a sailboat is taking on water.

Another friend has sent this youtube clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go3ZX2P6df0  Milly is the catamaran seen as the boat sinks.

Apparently, this is the first tornado that has hit the marina in 20+ years.  And it was not just one, but two!!

New anchorage.  Safe and sound and shaking.

19 November 2018

Boat-bound, Three Days of Grey

The day we arrived showed copper earth tones on the hills clad in green pines with beautiful blue sky.  But the forecast was not good and proved to be accurate.

Same view today, day 3, when it is a bit brighter.  
Working on Day 3 of gloomy weather.  Wind that is blowing too fiercely, rain that is coming down in actual sheets, even the occasional lightning bolt, have kept us tied to the boat.   First day was so cold and wet that we sat in jackets in our saloon den.

What do we do to keep boat fever at bay?  Read about Turkey, make water, use water by doing laundry, escape to our novels, cook, wash the floors, read the news online, solitaire, read, clean the stainless when it isn't being rinsed by rain, crosswords, a bit of yoga, read some more, watch a movie, eat, think about boat jobs.  The day is full!  Luckily we both like reading.

The sun shone occasionally yesterday to allow laundry to dry within 24 hours.
We are at anchor in Marmaris Bay, Turkey.  There is a large, protected marina within 20 meters but it is totally unappealing.  Instead, within the huge bay, we have tucked into a protected - from the waves, at least - cove with a number of other boats.  As the wind blows and gusts, we all swing like crazy on our chains, sometimes out of sync which brings us a little too close for comfort.  Seeing someone leave their boat for a quick excursion is a real event.

The marina is packed full of 600 boats at dock and a couple of hundred on the hard.  Instead of joining the forest of masts we elected to have a view of the gray bay instead of a next door neighbour within a meter of our port light.  

We hope to go for a walk today, if we can bear to leave our books.  Tomorrow we may even get to Marmaris.

Monday, November 19, 2018
At anchor in Marmaris Bay, off Pupa Yat Hotel
N36.49.6' E28.18.9'

15 November 2018

Argostoli to Athens - Two Weeks with Friends

On our way from Argostoli, Kefalonia, our safe harbour during the medicane, "Zorbas".  Seas were a little confused but it was good to be moving.
286 NM
2 pods of dolphins
9 night stops
2 UNESCO sites
1 medicane
1 birthday
1 canal

It's always rejuvenating to have friends aboard.  Comments from new eyes on holiday allow us to revamp our appreciation for the lifestyle we have chosen.  And this was an extra special visit for me:  Two of my oldest and dearest childhood friends - one since age four and the other from grade three.  I missed their walks but they kept my ailing ankle in repose, carrying tea, washing every dish, making meals,  doing almost daily grocery shopping and taking us out to a sumptuous birthday dinner.  They even hauled dock lines under the duress of high winds.  Some holiday!
Lee suffered from an eye irritation for a few days and became our own pirate,  Paula had a stomach upset for a night or two and I with my ankle gave Peter a good dose of medicine.  Our smiles never wavered and all were successfully treated.

Working in the galley always more fun with a crew.
They worked but also played and relaxed.  This time during a swim and lunch stop en route.

Second stop on the mainland at the village of  Astakos left no time for pictures.  A tight spot between boats on the town wall and a strong wind on the beam made med mooring a touch and go process.  I gave the helm to Peter and hopped to the bow to manage the anchor and Paula and Lee were on each sugar scoop to toss the lines ashore with the hope that someone would be there to catch them.  With a few tense moments, each of us managed our jobs and Milly was safely squeezed in place.  Shortly afterwards, a charter boat attempted the same but without similar results.  They dropped their anchor out of line with their berth, weren't prepared with their lines and couldn't manage to reach the dock without lying across the top of our neighbour's bow - much yelling!  On trying to retrieve their anchor, they hooked our chain and proceeded to pull it up, not knowing how to get it off their anchor.  Our neighbour, while shaking his head in dismay and wonderment, shouted directions in German.  At a snail's pace and with the aid of boat hook and line they were able to drop our chain.  Over the long time that it took - or so it seemed - they cruised back and forth in front of our bows - granted the wind made sitting still difficult.  More shouting - much of it from me, I have to admit.  Finally, after our chain was dropped, we realized without surprise that our anchor was no longer holding and we were drifting onto our other very patient neighbour's boat.  And so we had to repeat our whole docking process, releasing lines, weighing anchor, dropping anchor reversing into tight spot, throwing lines, etc.   Through it all, Lee and Paula, working under duress, were calm - or seemed so - and managed their jobs magnificently!  Never a dull or predictable moment on a boat!

Completely different than the last many months of mountainous coastline, Mesolongion in the Gulf of Patras, offered something completely different.  Situated in a huge salt marsh, the small, round harbour and anchorage was reached by a dredged canal over two miles long and edged by small fishermen cottages on stilts.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for our view of this majestic bridge dividing the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth.   A beautiful feat of engineering.
The entrance to Navpaktos' medieval, walled and tiny harbour was dominated by the Venetian castle on high.

Minute harbour was charming surrounded by trees and a square.

From charming and protected Galaxidhi on the Gulf of Corinth, we rented a car for a day trip.  From the rise of the coastal mountains we saw beneath us a sea of olive trees.

Magical Delphi, an incredible site in a magnificent setting, was considered to be the centre of the earth by ancients. Besides the setting with a backdrop of soaring peaks and lush deep valleys which was awe-inspiring enough for religious inspiration, there was also a chasm that apparently emitted trance inducing vapours.  A prophetess, over 50 year old woman, sat over the chasm on a tripod and uttered prophetic mutterings which were in turn interpreted by a priest.  The priests were better informed then others at the time, being able to gather political, economic and social information from their web of connections throughout the ancient world.  And answers were most often ambiguous so that no matter what happened in actuality, the answer was correct.  At it's peak, in the 6th century BC, the oracle was perceived as the most truthful in the known world and brought people with questions and offerings from far and wide. 

The Treasury of the Athenians (490 BC) was an offering to Apollo after  the battle of Marathon was won and then housed dedications made by their citizens.

The serpent column.  The original, taken to Constantinople in 324 AD, stood 8 m high and was topped by the heads of three snakes now broken off, a golden tripod and a bowl.  Stunning work of art.

 The Temple of Apollo from the 4th century BC. Originally the site was dedicated to Gaia or Mother Earth and Poseidon.  A serpent and son of Gaia lived in a cave nearby and communicated through the Pythian priestess.  Apollo, who arrived in the shape of a dolphin - hence the name, Delphi - killed the python.  In commemoration, the Pythian Games were held afterward.

A hike/crutch up a steep path paved with stones polished by a few thousand years of human footsteps brought us to the stadium where teams raced from one set of markers to another while those on the stone benches cheered them on.  I came here in 1982 on a backpacking tour.  Then we could enter the stadium and sprint to the finish line.  Now entry is forbidden.  A guard sits to oversee.  Great that they're protecting antiquity but sad that they have to.

Milly's crew

Who wouldn't enjoy a play in this setting?

Byzantine Osios Lukas monastery in another inspiring and  remote setting.  

It sat on a terrace of a mountain slope with a wide looking over a wide lush valley.

Not one of our more scenic stops.

First sight of the Corinth Canal.

We had to wait almost three hours for our turn as this lame freighter was tugged and pushed through the canal ahead of us.

Freighters get the privilege of going first followed by a procession of sailboats called by the parade master one-by-one to get in line.  Even though we were second, the wash from the freighter in the narrow passage kept Peter busy at the helm and swept the boat in front of us from side to side.

The parade was watched by walkers who congregated on the final bridge at the end.

A tight squeeze. 
We could see the Acropolis as we crossed Saronikos Kolpos toward Athens.  The little arrow is Milly, safe in a snug, free anchorage in Glifadha, just south of Athens.  Lee and Paula caught a taxi from here to the airport and Peter and I stayed for about ten days with visits from Tom and his training partners and into the city.
Thanks for coming, Lee and Paula!  Your beds are waiting for a return visit soon, we hope!

The crew!  Sad to see you go but excited to welcome you back

Sept 27- Oct 10, 2018.
Argostoli, Kefalonia - abandoned marina
Katelios, Kefalonia - at anchor
Astakos - town wall
Mesolongion - at anchor
Navpaktos - at anchor
Galaxidhi - town wall
Kiato - harbour wall
Kanakia, Nisos Salamis - at anchor
Glifadha - at anchor

4 November 2018

Kythnos - Quick Stop for a Cure

After a exploratory crutch/walk around the village, we stopped for a thermal plunge in therapeutic waters - espoused to cure arthritis and "gynaecological problems".  We had neither but it was worth steeping for awhile for a pain in the ankle.  Did it work?  Well, it sure didn't hurt!
Church at the site of the thermal spring was all dressed up to celebrate something or other.  The scalding waters ran about 500m from the spring to the seaside where it mixed with the now chilly Aegean.  The aqueduct through which the water ran was lined with all kinds of colourful growth that flourished in the heat.  

Toronto 8,172 km away, rated a mention...
...as did this!  The owner of the restaurant had lived in Toronto and was clearly a fan.  Signs of home.

26 October 2018
Loutra town wall,
Nisos Kythnos
N37.23' E24.53'