Trip to Ankara, Türkiye

25 June 2022 – Trip to Ankara, Türkiye

Last weekend, we took a quick trip to Ankara, the capital of Türkiye- to see my friend Turgay and his wife Pinar.

Since the rental car price was quite expensive (apparently required an extra insurance cover just to drive 525km), we decided to try “the bus” (a private bus line). The buses are all very modern, and we booked through an online app called BusBuddy. Many options were available, for timing and stops. Unfortunately, what should have been a good experience (nice bus, clean, comfortable) turned into an uncomfortable experience because the A/C was completely ineffective. Why? On 3 out of 4 “legs” (and 2 different buses) our driver was a chain smoker who drove with his window down, and the A/C running, which actually made the A/C completely ineffective. What should have been a comfortable 22-25C cabin temperature was a humid 32-36C cabin temperature – caused by an inconsiderate addict. I took photos, and complained on the bus, at a major bus stop, and afterwards online. Lesson learned – next time, take a different bus company and check their policy beforehand.

On arrival in Ankara, we stayed 3 nights at the Occidental Hotel. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and economy of this hotel. Occidental, by the way, is the opposite of “Oriental”. It means “coming from the West”. We even got a Seniors Discount.

Turgay and his wife Pinar picked us up at the hotel and first took us to the Anitkabir (Atatürk Mausoleum), Ankara’s most visited attraction and Turkey’s most important modern pilgrimage site. Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal) was the founder of the modern state of Türkiye.

As well as the actual mausoleum, with its lavish use of marble, the site is centred round a vast plaza and contains a large museum complex. It contains both exhibits on the War of Independence, led by Atatürk, which resulted in the birth of Turkey as a modern nation, and many displays focused on Atatürk’s life.

Outside, there are excellent views across Ankara from the arcade that edges the plaza. The mausoleum itself is decorated with gilded inscriptions of Atatürk’s speeches. Inside, a cenotaph stands above the placement of Atatürk’s tomb. Visitors entering the mausoleum should respect the atmosphere of somber reverence inside as Turks pay their respect to the founder and first president of their modern nation.

This photo shows the detailed restoration of Atatürk’s 1935 armoured Lincoln. This car was lovingly restored after 2.5 years of effort in 2018, and is a testament to Turkish craftsmanship.

In the afternoon, we had a walking visit of some historical, restored area of the city, where we came across a fortune teller using a rabbit. The rabbit is presented with a plate of “paper fortunes” and selects one for you. The streets and shops were charming to walk through.

Later in the afternoon, we did a walking tour of the Citadel and it’s surrounding neighbourhood.

The citadel (Kale) area dates from the Byzantine era and is ringed by impressive fortifications raised in the 9th century. Inside, narrow cobblestone alleyways are rimmed by creaky Ottoman-era houses, some of which have been painstakingly restored in recent years, though others are slowly slipping into various levels of dilapidation. The main attraction inside the inner walls is the Eastern Tower (Sark Kulesi), which offers vistas that span across modern Ankara from its historic ramparts.

Stopping for tea in the afternoon, I took a photo of this very large teapot that was used by the cafe.

In the evening, Turgay and his wife hosted us to dinner at a very popular restaurant in the downtown core of Ankara. It was VERY tasty, and there was no way we could finish all the food they brought us.

Sunday morning, we went out for a Turkish breakfast, again at a very popular spot. Again, the quality and quantity of food – did not leave us hungry.

Later, we went to a surprisingly crowded shopping mall (Sunday afternoon). Turgay wanted to show me the fishing equipment in Decathlon, but, always on the lookout for something different – I came across this children’s play area. Here, the parents pay for their children to strap in and hop up and down in this bungee thrill ride. First time I had seen this.

We made our way back to Alanya the next day, and are extremely grateful to Turgay and Pinar for showing us a good time in Ankara!

Transom Door Frame Repairs

5 June 2022 – Alanya Marina, Türkiye

It has been 3 months since I last wrote a blog entry. A lot has happened, as we get ready for a summer of cruising away from our dock in Alanya Turkey. We did manage a one-week trip to Austria to visit Raoul, Amelia and Thorsten – but otherwise, we have been in Alanya.

A few months ago, we contracted through the marina to get new dinghy chaps made for our 11 year old Zodiac dinghy. The shop in Antalya also did a number of small repairs and we are very pleased with the results. Our 11 year old dinghy has been given a new lease on life.

I cleaned out our diesel tanks again, this is getting to be an annual event – best done when the diesel levels are low so there is less fuel to pump from tank to tank.

We hauled out for an anticipated period of 2-4 weeks, but it actually took 5 weeks. There were basically three jobs to do:

1. Replace two instrument sensors.
2. Touch-up rust spots on the deck; and
3. Repair rusty area in the frame around the transom doors;

I have no photos for the instrument sensors job but can offer a simple explanation. Last year, when we left for our sailing holiday away from dock, I had to replace the depth instrument. After nearly 20 years of service, our Raytheon ST60 Tri-data (depth, speed, water temperature) finally failed (the depth portion). At the time, I wasn’t sure why, but I had cleaned the contacts and done all the usual things, but it wouldn’t reliably work. I bought a new Raymarine i50 Tri-data, but only changed the instrument (and this worked) – leaving the sensors (two of them) to change in the future. Well, fast forward to this period, and I replaced both sensors (which has to be done with the boat on the hard) – and they now work correctly.

I also have no photos to support the second job, touching up of rust spots on the deck – since it’s a routine job. I had to use tools to dig down to bare metal in a few places where rust was hiding it’s “ugly head”. After many coats of epoxy, and polyurethane, the repaired areas are nearly imperceptible – and the deck looks like new again.

The last job was a big one. When I originally built the boat, I made a mistake (Oh my gosh) at the stern with the transom door lockers. Initially, I surface mounted the Stainless Steel hinges on the steel doors and frame. By the time we got to Columbia (2014), I realized that the best way to recover from this was to ditch the big hinges and steel doors, and fabricated fibreglass doors with smaller, bolted-on hinges. The reason was that I could never really completely weld those Stainless Steel hinges, and the door behind was disappearing in rust. With my new configuration, the doors were repaired, but the transom framing material still suffered, again – because I had failed to originally completely weld the frames on the inside. As the doors and imperfect gaskets leaked, year-by-year, the frames were rusting. This time, when we hauled out – I was determined to fix this last area “once and for all”.

The first step was to hire two local guys (with a MIG welder, grinders, lots of energy and very flexible bodies) to cut out the offending rusting frames. I considered doing this job myself. I could cut out the bad stuff, but I would have to source replacement steel AND overcome the difficult part of welding on the inside of the lockers. The inside HAD to be welded, and well-painted in order to avoid what happened the first time around.

These two guys worked hard in the sun, cutting out about 6” of steel around the door frame, and then replacing it with LASER cut steel found in the local industrial area. I was amazed that this machine was even available in Alanya – but it was.

After replacing the steel and tacking it in place, I was very pleased to see the welder crawl into each of the transom lockers and MIG weld the replacement steel. The other guy did a thorough job of grinding and cleaning up the area – for my subsequent painting.

I spent nearly two days watching these guys work. It was a challenge.

I painted on six coats of epoxy (inside), and eight coats of epoxy (outside). With a steel boat, many layers of epoxy are key to keeping rust away in this salt water environment.

I then finished it off with many coats of “properly mixed” Jotun Jade Mist Green Polyurethane.

I don’t have any paint spraying equipment, so I had a paint shop (again, in the Alanya industrial area) insert “my” mixed paint into their cans. This is a service offered by BEST, where they have “empty” spray cans (filled with compressed gas only) ready to take acrylic (normally) or in my case – mixed polyurethane. So, I spray painted the transom area with “spray cans”, and the result turned out wonderful.

To get these spray cans filled, I first mixed up a small (1500ml) batch of polyurethane paint (two part, plus a small quantity of thinner) and brought it to the paint shop. The owner poured my paint into his container, positioned over the “empty” spray can.

Then, he pressed the paint down into the spray can, where it joined the compressed gas already there. I don’t know for sure, but I think the compressed “gas” was not “air” but an inert gas, probably nitrogen. I believe this because the mixed paint only has a pot life of 6 hours in an air environment, but 5 days later – the paint can still sprays.

This is the END result of the transom. The bad steel has been cutout, new steel welded in and painted – and I have fit new gaskets. The doors are now watertight.

While we were on the hard, I took the opportunity to fix another old problem. I have an anchor chain snubber that is attached to a chainplate, just at water level. This effectively lowers the chain “effort”, but over the years, I realized that it makes noise and wears, because the fit is too sloppy.

This is the end result, after I had two purpose-built washers made by a local machine shop.

Also, as we have come to know many of the Turkish people around us, we have befriended Umut, who owns a steel motor yacht. He owns a banana plantation and has been dabbling in hydroponics, as a way to dramatically increase the yield and shorten growing time of wheat. This is Umut and his latest invention.

We launched on 4 June, just as a rally of 35 sailing yachts visiting from Israel arrived. The docks are full – and there are many Israeli flags flying at their sterns. It is great to be floating again, and preparing for our next summer anchoring holiday.