31 December 2021 – Year end at Alanya Turkey
As the year draws to a close, it is useful to consider what happened, and how that influenced the yachting and cruising community. In short, the world-wide pandemic (COVID-19) struck in April 2020, and continues to greatly influence our cruising lifestyle. All countries closed and opened, sometimes with little notice and always assigning the same restrictions to sail-in cruisers that the fly-in tourists have to follow (which is impractical). As I write this blog, some countries continue to remain closed to arriving yachts, the most notable in our immediate area being Morocco. Morocco is right “in our path” as we plan our Westbound passage through the Mediterranean and back to the Caribbean. We had always planned to spend 3-5 years in the Med, but not necessarily all in the Eastern Med. Nonetheless, with the regular expected immigration issues (90 days in, 90 days out) in the EU (the Schengen area), and the sometimes extraordinary pandemic restrictions, we have decided to postpone moving Westward for at least another year. Greece only opened up to visiting yachts in July 2021, after being closed for more than a year!
We didn’t sail “far” in 2021, but we did see some beautiful cruising grounds in Turkey.
Since winter was coming, I decided to revisit our Ardic diesel electric heater.
We last used this heater when in New Zealand five years ago. At that time, it had remained dormant for seven years, and was previously used when we exited the St Lawrence Seaway in May 2009. Five years ago, I changed the glow plug and all was well.
Since we were dockside in New Zealand, we preferred to use a small electric heater though, because of the diesel odour. Nonetheless, with time on my hands I decided to try and reincarnate this appliance. I again changed the glow plug, and also the diesel pump. I did get it started, and it ran for 10 minutes – but the original diesel pump had a small, but meaningful leak. I obtained a suitable replacement but it still needed an adaptor fabricated so that it would fit the fuel line hoses – thankfully, this is quickly and cheaply done in Turkey at a machine shop.
However, I still couldn’t get it to reliably run after changing the fuel pump, so I abandoned this project and relied instead on the little electric heater. Maybe I will revisit it in the future? In the meantime, we use our little electric heater.
Next on the list was the SSB Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU) ground. When I installed this radio a long time ago, I connected the ground of the ATU directly to a bolt fastened to a steel frame (steel boat). However, although this gives a great ground and a solid signal, it also introduces the possibility of corrosion, at least when the radio is operating. Although I’ve always felt this phenomenon to be trivial, I decided that “with time on my hands”, I would solve it. Following the advice of my friend Ken Goodings (formerly on SV Silverheels 3 in Grenada), I fabricated a replacement RF ground cable with a DC blocking network. I made this by soldering two small capacitors in parallel, giving a capacitance of 1.4F at 800V.
This photo compares the old ground wire to the new one.
We have all French made Goiit hatches and port lights (23 in total). Although this company still exists, these particular hatches and their replacement handles – do not. Since I like carrying lots of spares, for every conceivable failure, I decided to get some replacement handles locally made by a 3D printing company. I paid 2550 TL (about $250 CDN) for 6 printed handles. This photo shows the printed handles next to the originals. They look even better in person, and I’m sure will be a fine replacement, when the time comes.
My EchoTech water-maker had two gauges that needed to be replaced. Both were somewhat specialized for seawater, with SS316 components – but the real issue was the 1/4” NPT (national pipe thread) threads. In this case, these gauges are not available outside the North American market. EchoTech was happy to supply them from Trinidad, but I wanted to avoid using another courier service through Istanbul. So, I asked my nephew Mark Ceelen, who lives in Rocky Mountain House Alberta – to buy them for me and send them to me by post. This worked out great, and I’m indebted to Mark for his help in acquiring and posting them to me. However, I did pay sales tax in Canada, and then again in Turkey – which I think is unfair, but not unusual.
Another small job was to install a small yellow LED light to indicate when my spreader lights are on. The mimic never came with this idiot light, but I’ve always wanted to have it.
Although we have great batteries (400Ahr LiFePO4), great chargers (100A and 80A), and great monitors (Victron BMV-712 and Balmar SG200) – I would like to be able to monitor and impact on the State of Charge (SOC) of the battery bank remotely (when we are not on the boat). This is more difficult than it sounds. I solved it by installing a Wyze wifi camera, and a 220V smart plug receptacle. Using an app on my iPhone, I can access my camera and view both SOC meters by tunnelling through the Internet.
Then, if the charge state is low (due to several days of cloudy, rainy weather), I can use another app to turn on a charger that is connected to my Smart Plug. I even have a 220V lamp that can connect to the other Smart Plug receptacle, so if necessary, I can illuminate the SOC meters. It meets my requirements, and the cost is low!
A few weeks ago, we were invited aboard SV Dana Felicia for home cooked (Diane cooked) pizza with Sven, and Pam/Eric. Sven had been sailing around the world on his custom aluminum hull cutter since 2007. He has a lot of miles under the keel and was a fine host.
Finally, the most recent and probably most significant thing to recently happen is that I had another Total Knee Replacement (TKR) done. When in India three years ago, I had my right knee replaced at Aster Med City, a private hospital. The prosthesis is a US made model, by Depuy. Since I went through physio myself, the process was still fresh in my mind.
On 2 December, I went to Baskent University Hospital here in Alanya (about 10 minute taxi ride from the marina) for a dermatologist checkup. After the checkup, I inquired with the International desk if I could make “an appointment” to see an orthopaedic surgeon. The reply was that – at that moment, I could be seen directly, no appointment necessary. After more X-rays and another consult, the doctor suggested that I get a TKR, and that he could do the surgery the following week, on 6 December. I couldn’t believe it!
The Turkish Lira has fallen quite a bit over the past month and the total cost of the operation was a mere $4,900 CDN comparing very favourably to what I paid for the same operation in India ($7,200 CDN) three years ago. These are “bargain basement” prices, no insurance – full cost. At this price, it just wouldn’t make sense to fly back to Canada to get a free operation, particularly with the pandemic in full swing, and the historic wait-times in Canada. Who can see a surgeon on Thursday, and get the operation the following Monday?
The hospital intake, nursing care, cleaning and even the food were just fantastic, first class. As I write this post, I am on day 25 post surgery, and had the 36 staples taken out this morning. My recovery is going very well, and I continue to do my physio exercises five times per day. It’s a long road to full recovery, but I remember it well.