30 April 2021 – LOCKDOWN blog

Countrywide, Turkey has just entered another serious lockdown to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, it’s an opportunity to catch up on another blog entry.

When in New Zealand five years ago, we had our tanks professionally cleaned. A man came to our boat with a powerful pump, flexible and transparent hoses, and a very fine filter. He spent several hours “polishing” the fuel, and sucking out obvious dirt and debris. It was impressive, and I wish that this type of service was more commonly available. Unfortunately, we have rarely seen this service offered, and certainly not in the past five years. It’s a shame though, because you could pay for the equipment with just the first job!

I have a fuel polishing system installed, and I do use it, and the pickup tubes are nearly at the bottom of the tanks, but the pump is not very strong – so the suction is a bit weak. Nevertheless, due to the near complete absence of proper filling stations (we have been using jerry cans for years), water and debris does end up in the tanks. Unlike many other cruisers, we’ve never had a serious problem with fuel, mainly because I pay attention to this issue.

I frequently run the fuel polishing at dockside, and drain a little bit of fuel/water out of the filters. Since water is heavier than diesel, it sits at the bottom of the tank, and this is where diesel critters / algae grows. Looking back on the tank cleaning service in NZ, it seemed that nearly all of the problem existed at the bottom of the tanks. Therefore, since there was no service here, I decided to make something of my own. I built this system using a heavy duty Ford truck diesel filter and manifold, and a Turkish built 12V fuel transfer pump. The pump consumes 175W at 12V (I use a long extension to the bow battery) and puts out a whopping 2400L per hour. I connect the 3/4” input hose to a “wand” or “plastic pickup tube” that I can move around on the bottom of the tank(s). After about an hour of pumping/polishing and moving the wand around on the bottom, I can thoroughly clean the tank, noticeably picking up tiny bits of dirt and sludge. It’s nothing that would “stop” the engine, but if I left it unattended – it could. The equipment stows away in my engine room – ready for the next time.

A few weeks ago, Diane and I had the first (of two) vaccinations against COVID-19. The vaccine most commonly used here in Turkey is one of the Chinese vaccines, SINOVAC. This vaccine is made from deactivated viral particles, unlike the controversial ones made using mRNA (Moderna, Phizer etc). We are due to get the booster next week. It’s free for all residents.

We normally do our own rope-work, or running rigging as its called, but, we have had a long standing problem with our main halyard – the line that lifts the main sail. Although the masthead sheaves are designed to take 9/16” rope, it seems that every line that we use ends up being frayed at the top. We have gone from 9/16” to 12mm and even 1/2” but the bulk of the eye splice always frays a little, even if protected with an additional Dyneema sleeve. This is what I’m talking about, as indicated with the red arrow.

Inadvertently, this situation was actually made worse when we had a new mainsail produced 3 years ago when we were in Malaysia. The sailmaker made the vertical length of the sail just a few centimetres longer, and the head had a horizontal top, instead of the more traditional triangular head.

We figured that either we needed to shorten the sail (trim the top/head or the bottom/foot) or do something creative with the halyard. After much consideration, we decided that the cheaper option was to simply replace the halyard with a 47m length of 12mm double braided polyester rope spliced to a 3m length of 8mm Dyneema. We contracted the sailmaker to do this, and this is the result.

At the very top is the eye splice connecting the shackle, that attaches to the mainsail.

It remains to be seen whether this will be adequate or not. If not, then the only step left is sail modification. We won’t know if that will be necessary until after extensive sail trials.

A few weeks ago, before the strict lockdown came into place, we were fortunate to have lunch at a wonderful restaurant near the Alanya Castle – with a view “to die for”. This is what will make this country so memorable for us.

On another occasion (actually Diane’s birthday), we had a private dinner inside a small restaurant that was supposed to be closed. Wow, the food was so good.

One afternoon while walking the streets, we came upon this sight. The red arrow on the bottom points to a yellow bag, at street level. The red arrow at the top points to a woman on the third floor apartment balcony. Somebody came by, and dropped something off in the bag – and she is about to haul this up using a rope. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before in the city.

On the same day (maybe), we went through the Alanya museum downtown, and had a stroll through the adjacent park.

We have renewed our contract with Alanya Marina, and will be staying until July 2022. The price is quite good, and we are very pleased with the surroundings. Although we did consider other marinas, this city of Alanya has quite a good industrial area. My favourite shop is the Dere Machine Shop, where I have had many things repaired or fabricated. Good quality and very good prices.

Our boat is based on North American voltage electricity (110V) rather than the 220V used in Turkey. Actually, USA, Canada and Mexico – use 110V whereas “the rest of the world” uses 220V or 240V. I have installed five 220V outlets, but those only work at dockside – not when we are anchored. We have some special appliances (washer, kettle, rice cooker etc) that are 110V (that we can run on solar power when on anchor). They cannot easily be replaced and are often difficult to repair. Our rice cooker, for example, has a “non-stick” surface, similar to Teflon – which is applied at the factory. Now – the pot (unique to this rice cooker) is badly chipped and falling apart.

We are faced with the problem of replacing the rice cooker (110V model is not produced in Turkey), replacing the pot (must be an exact fit) – or getting the pot “re-coated”. For example, an online purchase of a replacement rice cooker is about $ 75 USD for the appliance and another $ 175 USD for shipping/handling/tax. If we can find a company in Turkey that makes these kind of pots, we are hoping that they might be able to re-coat this one. This is one thing that — we’re currently working on.

More of our day-to-day life

3 April 2021

Recently, we had a problem with our Maytag washer. I installed this washer, and built the cabinetry around it a month before we left Kingston in April 2009 – 12 years ago. 

We last had a problem (coin in the sump pump caused a rattling noise) when in Australia 4 years ago. This time, the problem was with loud thumping noises made when spinning at high rates. So, we took the day to essentially “take apart” a large section of the galley, so that we could access the washing machine. The counter and dish racks had to be removed. I even took off the door of the front loading washer, in order to make it easier to move out – and lift up onto our salon table, where I could work on it.

Once on the table, with the rear panel removed, the problem was apparent. This front-loading washer drum is “hung” with two springs – and the motion dampened by two shock absorbers. These two shock absorbers were completely ineffective, and needed to be replaced. 

Much to my surprise, Maytag washing machines are still made and marketed – although just not in Turkey. Here I easily found Bosch replacements, for a cheap price (under $20 CDN for both). I replaced the shock absorbers, but considered the springs to be still good (but I sprayed them with CorrosionX oil). After putting the washing machine back in place, the next challenge was to reinstall the door – and this is where I ran into trouble. It seems that the door with a front loader is a critical piece of equipment, and very sensitive to alignment. After trying for an hour, I gave up and called in the service technician, the same guy who sold me the two shock absorbers. He came and fixed the problem in about 20 minutes. It cost 80TL (under $14 CDN) for his on-site visit and repair, and then I had to pay the marina another 350TL (actually 35 euros) for their “tax”. In this marina, like all marinas in Turkey, all repair work on the boats must be conducted “through” the office. Normally, that means that they handle outsourcing the manpower and parts, and a $50 job quickly becomes a $500 job. In this case, I sourced the parts and labour myself, and had to pay them the day rate of 35 euros to have this technician work on my boat. The fact that he finished the job in 20 minutes and not 8 hours is a “red herring”. I still had to pay 35 euros. Isn’t that interesting?

When we left Canada 12 years ago, we first used a USB cabled external antenna/amplifier to pickup weak wifi signals. A few years later, I discovered IslandTime PC – and bought a fully configured Ubiquiti Bullet and 12V navigation computer. This Bullet worked very well for us, for years. When in NZ, I found that the 5GHz networks had less traffic on them than the 2.4GHz networks, so I bought and installed a Mikrotik Groove, alongside my Bullet. I used the Groove and 5GHz omni-directional antenna for some networks and the Bullet and 2.4GHz antenna for others, flip flopping back and forth from month to month – depending on the network. Finally, when in India two years ago, the Bullet “died in the sun”. So I ordered a replacement Ubiquiti Bullet M2 HP through Amazon – but took delivery in Canada. We had planned to return to Canada in 2020, but because of COVID-19, were unable to. This left dozens of spares and replacement parts stranded in Canada. We have a Canadian friend right here in Alanya who’s son flew from Canada to Turkey for a visit this past winter – and we were very grateful that he was able to hand carry this replacement Ubiquiti Bullet for us. I finally installed it a few weeks ago, and we are back to normal (using the configuration file provided by Bob on IslandTime PC). Thanks Bob. 

After years of living in countries where the toilets are fitted with nozzles or have a hand sprayer nearby – we finally decided to install one in the aft cabin. I would love to install one of these “butt spraying” toilets in our boat, but boat toilets are very different to “land-based” home toilets.

Our toilets are Lavac Zenith vacuum toilets, and it would be way too difficult to drill through the Royal Dalton China bowl to fit a sprayer – so the next best thing is a “butt sprayer”, as shown in this photo.

A few months ago, in order to completely eliminate galvanic corrosion (which seemed to happen more with us being plugged into docks in 220-land and running A/C), I removed two Guest Galvanic Isolators. I reconfigured the existing Victron Isolation Transformer to completely isolate the live, neutral and ground wires. This is a photo of the installed 220V Isolation Transformer.

This past week, I completed the installation of a second identical Victron Isolation Transformer. 

This one is especially for the 110V circuit, something that we won’t connect up for several years – not until we return to “110-land”, North America and much of the Caribbean. Now, I am convinced that I have done “all that can be done” to prevent galvanic corrosion from happening. The only thing remaining is to check my zincs every month, and replace them as necessary.