On 30 July 2022, the cruising community lost a valued member with the tragic passing of our dear friend Nazer Muhammed Ali. Nazer has been a great friend to all cruisers that stopped at the Cochin India International Marina since it opened with the Vasco de Gamma Rally and even for decades before. My wife Diane and I, as well as hundreds of international cruisers – have been invited to Nazer’s home for a meal and to meet his immediate family. It was there, surrounded by his family and his very modest possessions that we came to really understand this man.
Many cruisers cared for Nazar like family and he remains dear to them. For those world sailing cruisers passing through India, Cochin (Kochi) is a common destination, one of the few ports of entry with a convenient marina. For a very modest fee, Nazer helped hundreds of cruisers to navigate the myriad of Indian bureaucratic requirements on arrival and departure. His fee for this “all afternoon effort” was a paltry 1000 Indian Rupees, about $16 CDN. My experience with agents in other nearby areas, shows that they demand $250-500 for similar services.
With practically no formal education, Nazar spoke and understood five (5) languages, with English being his weakest. He could slowly read English, but only CAPITAL LETTERS. Sadly, not all cruising sailors treated Nazer kindly. I have witnessed the unwarranted, rare but hurtful insults sometimes said of him. Some people saw him as a caricature rather than as a warm and helpful soul. Nazar could make happen whatever you needed, quickly and cost-effectively, accomplishing magic almost daily and with a smile. Through great effort, he got us hard-to-get supplies and arranged hard-to-find technical services. He constantly advised us on navigating Indian culture. He was our personal Tuk-Tuk driver, and frequent tour guide during our 10 month stay. We came to know Nazer and all members of his family, and had lunch in his humble home where his wife Zakeena, where with next to nothing, treated us to a meal fit for royalty. Our’s is a common story, repeated again and again.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, with it’s resulting lack of international sailboat movements, combined with Indian federal and state laws and regulations forcing him to retire his two-stroke tuk-tuk, literally destroyed Nazar’s earning ability. This put a great deal of stress on his heart, which sadly gave out over the past two years. His ongoing medical needs rose, and became unaffordable. Nazar epitomized kindness, forgiveness (of mean cruisers), generosity, resourcefulness, devotion, and Indian pride. He loved his family, his faith, his country, and his clients. We love him. His spirit lives on through all who had the pleasure and privilege to meet him. Our condolences are extended to his family and friends, and to those future cruisers who won’t enjoy the supreme pleasure in meeting him. India lost a wonderful ambassador.
Nazer was an orphan, and his wife Zakeena is too. They were both raised as orphans in a Catholic orphanage. They have no parents, brothers or sisters. Nazer always said the the cruising community was his family. In this photo, Diane and I took him to his first fast food hamburger experience. He was elated.
Nazer is survived by his wife Zakeena, son Nisam, daughter Nis Ni (in Dubai), daughter Tazini (in Canada), youngest son Nizar and several grandchildren. Zakeena is entitled to a state widow’s pension of about $10 per month, and in my estimate – this is less than 3% of Nazer’s former monthly income. Nazer’s burial and funeral expenses have already been paid, through the generous private donation of two couples.
I have created a fundraising page to solicit contributions to meet Zakeena’s immediate and intermediate needs, lessening the distress caused by the unexpected loss of her husband’s income. To that end, I will disburse funds on a regular and as-required basis to Zakeena – until the fund is empty. India in general, is a very poor country, and my belief is that Nazer would have been very proud to know that the Western friends he has made over the years have come together to help provide for his widow, with the strength of Western currency donations.
This blog is a catch-up, of a few events that happened over the past month.
My friend Turgay, his wife Pinar and daughters Petek and Pelinsu visited us for a day. They drove down from Ankara and were on holiday “in the area”. So, we invited them over for a day sail and BBQ mixed grill. The sea state was very light, but unfortunately, there are no photos of our day sail.
But, we do have a few photos afterwards when we had our mixed grill. As always, it was a pleasure to have visitors and to host them for a few hours.
We have taken quite a few custom machine work jobs to our Turkish machinist Iliyas, who owns and operates Dere Turne (the Turkish word for lathe) in the Sanaya. Diane and I were very pleased to be invited to Iliyas’s home to have dinner with him and his family, together with our friends Ahmet and Muze (We really needed them for translation). Iliyas lives in a modest apartment together with his wife and two children. It really was our pleasure to be hosted in a Turkish family’s home.
This selfie includes Diane, but not me.
Here is another item that falls under “improvement”. There is a requirement for a light, at least an “all round” light visible on a dinghy. I rarely see one, probably because it is difficult to fit a light to an inflatable dinghy. Here, I bought a white, all-round light (solar and battery powered) and tasked Iliyas to craft an aluminum mount for me.
The pool is now finally open at Alanya Marina. When we arrived two years ago, one of the advertised features was a pool, but it was unfortunately closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. A few weeks ago, they reopened the pool and we are taking advantage of it, migrating there most afternoons for exercise and relaxation.
This is what it looks like when one of the tourist pirate boats docks right behind us, obscuring our view of the mountains and marina.
When we don’t go to the pool, of course we go to the beach. There are many beaches in the area of Alanya, and this one is only a few minutes (by bike or walking) from the marina.
This is what it looks like at lunch time, when tour boats seek refuge from the waves. Apparently the tourists don’t eat lunch when they’re sea sick. When it’s windy, the bay is packed!
Diane and I finally paid a touristic visit to the Red Tower, an example of a medieval Mediterranean defense structure from the 13th century.
The Red Tower was built by order of Alaeddin Keyqubad I, the Seljuk ruler, to Ebu Ali Reha el Kettani who was a master builder from Aleppo in order to protect the harbour, shipyard and Alanya Castle against attacks from the sea. The tower is reputed to be able to hold over two thousand (2000) men during a siege. There are total of fifty-six (56) crenel windows at facades of the Red Tower, twenty-two (22) spans for pouring hot pitch and water and six (6) gargoyles inline to repel attackers.
Inside, the structure was devoid of furnishing, but it did offer spectacular views, if you were able to ascend the extremely steep stair cases.
Adjacent to the Red Tower is yet another pristine beach and waterfront area.
Another minor issue, our Oster blender blade died (again). This is our smoothie machine! We were unable to find a replacement in the area, so we had our broken one repaired (by Iliyas of course), and it served the job for a few weeks while we waited for Amazon to deliver a new one (and another spare).
Finally, here’s another item that falls under boat improvement projects. We have seven (7) Goiit (French made, and still exists) hatches that I installed new during the building process. Over the years, I have had various failures with these hatches, particularly the closing handles. They are plastic and they break. I have bought new ones, and have had replacements made with a 3D printer, but what I really needed – was a way to stop them from breaking. I came up with this semi-circular aluminum disc (made by Iliyas) to fit over the handles to provide structural reinforcement. Now, I think I’ve got it. These photos are of my prototype. The finished product has cleaner lines.
Last weekend, we took a quick trip to Ankara, the capital of Türkiye- to see my friend Turgay and his wife Pinar (and daughters Petek and Pelinsu).
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 (and daughter Pelinsu) 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!
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.
As I wrote in my last blog entry, we returned to Cairo Egypt because of “unfinished business”, “being tourists”. I booked our trip through Expedia, including flights and our stay at the 4-star hotel (later reduced to 3.5 stars), the Regency Pyramids Hotel. We met up with our friends Steve and Liz from SV LIBERTE on the first night, and had a cheap dinner at a local fast food joint.
You can’t beat the pyramids view from our hotel room.
The view from the rooftop of our hotel was even better.
For background on Egypt, I went to the CIA World Fact Book to get a good summary of how the country of Egypt developed. The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world’s great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 elevated Egypt as an important world transportation hub. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt’s government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty from Britain in 1952. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have reaffirmed the time-honoured place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to meet the demands of Egypt’s fast-growing population as it implements large-scale infrastructure projects, energy cooperation, and foreign direct investment appeals.
With a current population of about 102 million people, the major sources of revenue are from exported petroleum products, the Suez Canal and tourism. It’s main exports consist of natural gas, and non-petroleum products such as ready-made clothes, cotton textiles, medical and petrochemical products, citrus fruits, rice and dried onion, and more recently cement, steel, and ceramics.
I lived and worked in Egypt during the period 1980-1982, in the Sinai, Cairo and Alexandria. I still cannot get over how different, but yet the same – the city of Cairo looks. It is still crowded, noisy, polluted and everything seems like a sandy colour – but there are so many more high rise apartment buildings. The area around the pyramids (the suburb of Giza) is completely built up. When I lived here 40 years ago, it was just sand and dust. Now it is full of apartment buildings and more city. The honking horns never seem to stop. Diane had ear plugs, handy for sleeping in the hotel room, but I neglected to bring mine.
On our first day on the ground, we took a day trip to see some of the local sites. Our first stop was to see the Citadel of Saladin, a medieval Islamic-era fortification built by Salah ad-Din and further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
We then went to the Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali, situated in the Citadel and commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha (Ottoman Empire) between 1830 and 1848. Situated on the summit of the citadel, this Ottoman mosque (or Masjid as the Muslims prefer to say, since the word Mosque is a translation of the word), the largest to be built in the first half of the 19th century, is, with its animated silhouette and twin minarets, the most visible mosque in Cairo.
Most experts and media sources estimate that approximately 90 percent of the Egyptian population is Sunni Muslim (same as Saudi Arabia) and 10 percent is Christian (estimates range from 5 to 15 percent). Approximately 90 percent of Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church. We next went to the Cavern Church. Situated in Coptic Cairo, this church is one of the oldest Coptic churches in Egypt, dating back to the 4th century. It is traditionally believed to have been built on the spot where the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus Christ, rested at the end of their journey into Egypt. They may have lived here while Joseph worked at the fortress.
Next, was the Coptic Church of St Barbara, the place where many patriarchs of the Coptic Church were elected. The first to be elected here was Patriarch Isaac (681-692). The church is dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus, who were soldier-saints martyred during the 4th century in Syria by the Roman Emperor Maximian. Their sacred remains are kept within the Church.
Finally, we went to the National Museum of Civilization. When I lived in Egypt 40 years ago, the only Museum in operation (that I visited) was packed full of mummies and antiquities and they have been working on a modern replacement for many years, and unfortunately, it is not yet open. However, this Museum of Civilization was still a treat, because it is new and very well presented.
Photography of any kind was prohibited, but I managed to sneak one photo of this mummy, without using a flash.
On 3 April 2021, the museum was officially opened by president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, right before the moving of 22 mummies, including 18 kings and four queens, from the Egyptian Museum in a glamorous event termed the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade. I remember reading about it in the news and you can see a short video summary of the event below.
The next day, we visited the Saqqara Step Pyramids behind this walled structure.
Saqqara contains the oldest complete stone building complex known in history, the Pyramid of Djoser, built during the Third Dynasty. Another sixteen Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara, which are now in various states of preservation. High officials added private funeral monuments to this necropolis during the entire Pharaonic period. It remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.
Later, we went to see the museum at the ancient capital of Memphis.
Then we stopped for lunch, again preferring to sample some of the local cuisine.
After lunch, we went to the Giza Pyramid Complex, and then the Sphinx. The Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Khafre are the largest pyramids built in ancient Egypt, and they have historically been common emblems of Ancient Egypt in the Western imagination. They were popularized in Hellenistic times, when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the Ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
Standing at the base of the Great Pyramid, you really get a sense for the size of this historic wonder. I still cannot believe that in August 1981, I climbed to the top (and have the photo to prove it).
We couldn’t resist a historic group photo shot.
Next, we went on to see The Great Sphinx of Giza, commonly referred to as the Sphinx of Giza, Great Sphinx or just the Sphinx. It is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the head of a man, and the body of a lion. Cut from the bedrock, the original shape of the Sphinx has been restored with layers of limestone blocks. It measures 73 m (240 ft) long from paw to tail, 20 m (66 ft) high from the base to the top of the head and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. Its nose was broken off for unknown reasons between the 3rd and 10th centuries AD.
The Sphinx is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and one of the most recognizable statues in the world. The archaeological evidence suggests that it was created by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of Khafre (c. 2558–2532 BC). All the chairs are setup in this photo, as there is a “sound and light” show in the evenings.
On Saturday, we took a flight to Luxor and on the first day, visited the East Bank (Karnak Temple and subsequently the Luxor Temple). Luxor, by the way, was the site of a (Osama Bin Laden financed) terrorist act that resulted in the deaths of 62 innocent people (mostly foreign tourists) in 1997. The terrorists were either killed in the attack or subsequently committed mass suicide in a cave. It is a rare, but sobering truth.
Construction of the the Karnak Temple started around 2000 BC, and finished around 305 BC, as various Kings and Pharaohs put their influence into it.
The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. The deities represented range from some of the earliest worshipped to those worshipped much later in the history of the Ancient Egyptian culture.
One thing that is not obvious is that the level of sand around the temple is quite a bit different (due to excavation) than it was more than a hundred years ago. Here is a photo I took of a very permanent carving, made by some fellow by the name of L. Buvry, evidently from Berlin in 1852. This carving is much more permanent than your average street graffiti artist makes on city walls. I figured it was about 5m high.
Unlike the other temples in Thebes, the Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the pharaoh in death. Instead, The Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the pharaohs of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually (as in the case of Alexander the Great, who claimed he was crowned at Luxor but may never have traveled south of Memphis, near modern Cairo).
You don’t have to look hard for signs that some of these Kings were very serious about portraying themselves as real studs, with almost mystical fertility powers. Have a look on the right to see this man’s penis.
There is a newly reconstructed avenue in a straight line for about 2,700 metres between the Luxor Temple and the Karnak area – lined with hundreds of sphinxes. It is closed to cars, walking only.
Here is something that you often see outside the Western world, but not easily decipherable. In Arabic, it states that the entrance fee for adults is 10 Egyptian Pounds, 1/8 of the foreign entrance fee of 80 Egyptian pounds. Also, the student entrance is only 5 Egyptian pounds, likewise 1/8 of the foreign student price. The entrance fees for all of these sites do mount up.
In the afternoon, Diane and I went for a very pleasant sail on the River Nile on a felucca, a traditional sailboat used in this area of upper Egypt.
It had no motor, a drop centre board, and a very crude sail rig — but it worked. The Captain sailed away from the dock, sailed up river, against the current at a speed of 4-5 knots, and then sailed back to the dock after an hour.
The Nile River is incredibly clean in this area, a far cry from the brown septic stained Nile River that passes through the centre of Cairo. In fact, the whole Luxor area impressed me by being so much cleaner than Cairo.
Diane clearly was not seasick.
On Sunday, we visited the West Bank to see the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. In both cases, the crowds of tourists were starting to build. The Temple of Hatshepsut (the guide referred to her as “hot chicken soup”) is a mortuary temple built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (15th century BC). It is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient architecture with three massive terraces rising above the desert floor and into the cliffs. Across the river Nile, the whole structure points towards the monumental Eighth Pylon, Hatshepsut’s most recognizable addition to the Temple of Karnak (barely visible in the distance) and the site from which the procession of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley departs.
Next on the agenda was a drive to see The Valley of the Kings, as depicted in this topographic view.
This is where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock-cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt).
The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers (ranging in size from KV54, a simple pit, to KV5, a complex tomb with over 120 chambers) – and they are still digging, finding new sites. Since the 1920s, the valley has been famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
We went down (lots of stairs) into only 3 of the available tombs, starting with Merenptah’s tomb.
The tombs of Kings Ramses I and III were also very special.
Later in the day, we took a horse and carriage to the Museum of Mummification. I did not drive.
Unfortunately, although they described the process of mummification, they only had one mummy to show.
Sunday night, we flew back to Cairo, arriving at our hotel after midnight. On Tuesday, we took a day trip North to Alexandria, a city where I lived for a year, 40 years ago. We took the “desert road”, a distance of about 200km on a very good 4 lane highway (4 northbound and 4 southbound). I can’t even say it looks like a desert road anymore.
We saw many “pigeon houses” along the way. Egyptians raise and eat pigeons and pigeon eggs, in much the same way that the rest of the world eats chickens – but they are a different tasting bird. I ate it a few times, years ago.
All along the road, there are farms, industry and cities. Obviously, the development has been due to the use of deep water wells and government incentives.
The streets of Alexandria looked much the same as I remember them, with European style buildings and tram tracks.
We were told that the taxis in Alexandria are all Russian Ladas, with distinctive black and yellow markings.
At a roadside stop, I spotted an electric vehicle charging station, just over Diane’s right shoulder. It is a green post, with an electric cord and lots of dust (which is normal).
Although I never saw very many solar panels, I did spot one roadside vendor on the corniche with this panel.
We visited the Catacombs of Kom el-Shuqqafa, hewn from the rock on the southern slopes of a hill. Thought to date from the 2nd century AD, they offer an admirable example of the characteristic Alexandrian fusion of Egyptian and Greco-Roman styles. Discovered in 1900 (thanks to a donkey falling into them) they are laid out on several levels of sarcophagi and loculi (shelf tomb) chambers. A spiral staircase leads down into the ground to the main rotunda.
We stopped in at the Yacht Club of Egypt. There were lots of local boats moored in the bay, but only one monohull sailboat. There don’t appear to be any docks. I inquired at the office about stopping in with a foreign flagged boat, but due to the lack of Customs and Immigration facilities, this is a complete non-starter. Maybe in the future?
We stopped to visit Pompey’s Pillar, situated on a hill littered with the remains of ancient walls, architectural fragments, and rubble on which Alexandria’s only fully intact ancient monument is left standing. Pompey’s Pillar rises from the ruins of the ancient and famous Serapeion (Temple of Serapis), which was once used to store the overflow of manuscripts from the Great Library of Alexandria.
We stopped by to visit the Ras el-Tin Palace, or Citadel. This was once a summer escape for Egypt’s sultans when the desert heat of Cairo got too much to bear. It’s also the famed location where King Farouk – Egypt’s last king – officially abdicated in 1952 before sailing out of Alexandria’s harbour and into exile in Italy. Today, the palace is used by the Egyptian navy, which means its glorious interiors are out of bounds to casual visitors, but the exterior walls are worth the walk.
We met a family visiting from Yemen that were thrilled to talk with Western tourists. He and his wife have 5 daughters.
Lastly, we stopped by the Bibliotheca Alexandria. This modern facility finally replaced the building and function performed by the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world – lost in antiquity. In the year 272, the buildings of the museum were destroyed in a civil war under the Roman emperor Aurelian, although the educational and research functions of the institution seem to have continued until the 5th century. The rebuilt library was finished in 2002, and has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft). The complex also houses a conference centre; with specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory.
On the last full day in Cairo, we asked our driver Mohamed to take us to the “old” Egyptian Museum, followed by a tour of the City of the Dead. The Egyptian Museum is the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East, and houses the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities in the world. The museum was inaugurated in 1902 by Khedive Abbas Helmy II, and has become a historic landmark in downtown Cairo, near the famous Tahir Square and home to some of the world’s most magnificent ancient masterpieces. I did visit this museum 40 years ago, and my thoughts then were that it was crowded, stuffy and had way too many objects either on display or in the basement.
Although the Kings mummies (and some of the Queens) have been transferred to the Museum of Civilization, there are still many mummies that remain in this museum, together with many other artifacts. The museum displays an extensive collection spanning from the Predynastic Period to the Greco-Roman Era.
While writing this blog, I came across an easy to use Internet hieroglyphics translator. I’m not sure how useful it is, but its an example of new technology helping to understand old technology.
These photos depict some relicts found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb.
As previously mentioned, there are still quite a few mummies in the Museum, although they are probably not Kings.
Among the museum’s unrivalled collection are the complete burials of Yuya and Thuya, commemorating the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under one king. The museum also houses the splendid statues of the great kings Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, the builders of the pyramids at the Giza plateau. An extensive collection of papyri, sarcophagi and jewelry, among other objects, completes this uniquely expansive museum.
Our last visit was to The City of the Dead, a place that I have certainly never been to but was alway curious about. The City of the Dead, or Cairo Necropolis, is a series of vast Islamic-era necropolises and cemeteries situated in the centre of Cairo (great real estate). They extend to the north and to the south of the Cairo Citadel, and separated roughly into two regions: the Northern Cemetery to the north of the Citadel and the older Southern Cemetery to the south of the Citadel.
The necropolis that makes up “the City of the Dead” has been developed over many centuries and contains both the graves of Cairo’s common population as well as the elaborate mausoleums of many of its historical rulers and elites. It started with the early city of Fustat (founded in 642 CE). Throughout history, the necropolises were home to various types of living inhabitants as well. These included the workers whose professions were tied to the cemeteries (for example gravediggers and tomb custodians), the Sufis and religious scholars studying in the religious complexes built by sultans and other wealthy patrons, and the regular inhabitants of small urban settlements and villages in the area. Modern urbanization and housing shortages have led to a large increase in the number of people living in the necropolis zones. Some people resorted to squatting within the mausoleums and tomb enclosures and turning them into improvised housing. Our driver Mohamed told us that the keys and right to use of the family crypts usually passes down from family to family. Some of the people that are living in these family tombs are temporarily occupying the ground floor living space (normally a visiting space for relatives) while the dead are buried below the ground. The tombs themselves were often seen as a better alternative to squatting or low-quality housing available nearby in the inner city, as they provided already-built structures with relatively ample room. From what I can see, they had water, electricity, street lights and even garbage collection.
This is clearly an “occupied” tomb / home, without an external padlock.
There were lots of stray dogs on the streets, as there are in all of Egypt – and this momma was feeding her pups right on the street.
We stopped at a small cafe, a “Dead” cafe, and ate some take out food, primarily Kashary (a kind of macaroni dish with lentils, vegetables and chilli). This is where we bought the Kashary.
This is Mohamed and I eating and what we ate. Diane was also there, but just not in this photo. The food was very good, and very economical.
Estimating the population of the “City of the Dead” is difficult as it does not correspond to just one administrative district in the Egyptian census but stretches across several, with some cemeteries blending into the main urban fabric of Cairo without presenting a clear border between city and necropolis. A commonly cited estimate puts the current population at half a million or more people, and some put it even as high as two million.
The Egyptian COVID-19 vaccination rate is very low, about 30%, although required by law – and yet the number of reported deaths is also very low. It’s suspicious that the actual reported death rate is so much higher in Western countries, and lower elsewhere. When speaking with young men here, they come up with same logic that I’ve heard in many countries. They think that COVID-19 is hardly any more deadly than the seasonal flu. In reality, in a country like Egypt (where the cause of death is rarely determined by a doctor), the published statistics for death “due to COVID” are very unreliable. Although there is free public health care in Egypt, it suffers from long waiting times and very poor services. Most people opt for private health care. Many people that die, just die – and are buried, with no cause of death investigated or reported (as I think is the case in many non-Western countries).
The purpose of our trip was entirely tourism, to see Egyptian sites that we could not see two years ago when we were locked down in Port Ghalib Egypt. We achieved that, but in wrapping up, it saddens me to say that little has changed in the past 40 years, other than the fact that there are more Egyptians, more buildings, more cars and a lot more garbage. Although we did not get close enough for first-hand observation, it appears that the urban planned “New Cairo” city may be a step in the right direction.
This is a photo I took of one of the many canals of the Nile River that are split off in the Cairo area. The current flows slowly from left to right. You can see the pile of floating garbage plugging up the canal on the left side. There is obvious evidence of people dumping household garbage, on a regular basis, into this canal – and not just here, but in dozens of places that I saw. This is not tourist or industrial waste, but simply lazy citizens dumping household garbage in their backyard.
Much to my surprise, I did see garbage trucks in several places in Cairo, picking up garbage from collection points – but they can’t seem to keep up with the demand. Frankly, it astonishes me, and many other Western people that the pyramids and ancient temples were built here nearly 4,000 years ago. Are these local Egyptians really descendants of those industrious, clever people? We stayed in a 4-star hotel in Luxor. At nightfall, I realized that the patio door would not close, and could not lock. Upon closer inspection, I determined that the patio door was actually not installed correctly, and it could never lock. The pin was out of alignment by at least 50mm! The hotel was probably 25 years old, and this had apparently never been addressed before. When I asked to move to another room, they gave me one that was the same, the door would not lock. We finally moved to a third room, which had a locking patio door. Everything in this country seems to be designed by foreigners, built by reasonably skilled contractors and very poorly maintained by local Egyptians. By and large, they seem to have very poor work habits, terrible management practices and lose a lot of their wealth through corruption. Practically everywhere you go, with nearly every encounter with a local Egyptian, he/she has their hand out – asking for baksheesh (a tip). It gets old quickly, believe me. Been there, done that!
This winter was noticeably colder, wetter and windier than last winter. One night our Spreco Silentwind Generator suffered some damage when a rope was caught in the blades.
The generator and blades are 11 years old, so it needed a tune-up anyway. I had to get replacement blades (carbon fibre, balanced and matched) from the USA – together with a replacement nose cone, which inexplicably blew away in the storm. I took the machine apart and replaced the rotor bearings myself, and then thoroughly cleaned the commutator and brushes.
On the recommendation of our taxi friend Ahmet, we took the body of the generator in to get it painted by an automotive painter, and then afterwards had some custom vinyl letters made to show a Canadian flag. The Spreco decals were totally cleaned off with the painting process anyway, but the generator paint job was supreme.
Diane and I reinstalled the wind generator and it is now fit for service.
One day, I realized that although we are plugged into a 32A shore power pedestal on the dock, with most of the cable and switches designed for a maximum of 16A – one critical plug (from NZ) was actually limited to only 10A.
During the winter time, we regularly pull 10-14A from the shore power plug to heat the boat, make hot water and cook. So, I decided to get rid of the NZ plug, and replace the connectors, box and breakers with safer 16A rated connections AND a digital meter (to monitor the KWhr consumption as well).
In the winter time, the wave surge coming into the marina can make it occasionally unpleasant, not unlike all marinas in the Mediterranean Sea. I have to say that this problem in Alanya Marina is trivial compared to some other marinas we’ve looked at, but even with floating docks – the boats can move around a fair bit. Most people use a SS “spring” attached to their stern dock lines, and although we did not use them last winter – we decided to make this modest purchase ($100CDN each) and make use of them this winter. The stern lines are getting old (maybe stretched to their limit), and creak and groan a lot, so the addition of the springs quiets the noise and the movement.
We have had a puzzling problem with our BBQ since we arrived in Turkey. It is getting harder and harder to have our North American fibreglass BBQ tank refilled. Many countries have insisted that we use a tank that has passed their national standards (Australia and NZ are two recent examples) but that can make connecting to the BBQ a challenge. However, here in Turkey, the tanks and valve fittings are very different to the North American standard. So, I simply bought a Turkish tank and valve, and connected my hose to it.
It took me a long time (nearly 1.5 years) but I finally clued in that what I had was one valve AND REGULATOR, effectively putting two regulators in series. The Weber cast aluminum BBQ has its own regulator and not only doesn’t need a second regulator at the tank – but the flame and heat output was greatly diminished by it. Once we realized the problem (by looking at another foreign cruiser’s tank and valve), we easily corrected it by buying a different valve, one that did not include a second regulator.
I finally corrected an error in design of my 12V house bank battery system. I realized a few months ago that standards call for a fuse to protect the battery bank from high current shorts that can ultimately lead to fire. I installed a 225A Blue Sea System Class T fuse, like this one.
The battery bank BMS currently limits charging and discharging current to 150A, so a 225A fuse seemed appropriately sized. I could, if necessary, replace the fuse with an larger one in future.
Now for some plumbing work! We have a very good water filter, situated at the galley sink – Seagull. This system (filer, housing and facet) is made by General Ecology and is quite pricey at nearly $1,000 CDN to replace. The Seagull uses ultra fine micro straining and physically removes disease bacteria, pathogenic cysts like Giardia, Cryptosporidia, and other specific parasites and debris down to 0.1 microns (0.4 absolute). Removing the pathogens also removes the disease toxins they contain and is far more superior to “poisoning” organisms with pesticides and allowing the pathogen residue, toxins and pesticides to remain in the water to be consumed.The problem is that our facet has been dripping for over a year, and there are “no replacement parts” on the market. I figured there must be some ceramic washer or part inside that needs changing, but these parts are not sold, and there is no discernible way to take it apart for service anyway. So, a replacement is necessary. However, I do recall that I originally bought this equipment from Defender, a US chandlery in Rhode Island – so I was certain that the threads are US standard National Pipe Thread (NPT). Why is this important? This system is sold around the world, and although US, Canada and Mexico use NPT threads, the rest of the world uses BSP plumbing connections. I have learned, since leaving Canada, that NPT and BSP threads are not compatible due to the differences in their thread forms, and not just the fact that most sizes have a different pitch. Therefore, since I was certain that the pipe threads were NPT, I was confident and ordered a replacement facet, which cost about $300CDN, delivered and taxed (18%) to Turkey. Thankfully it fit and this job is done.
About every two months, we’re getting a social function in the marina, and things are gradually returning to normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this Valentines Day function, the Tennis Club hosted a small gathering of about 20 live-aboard cruisers for hamburgers and avocado salad. It is pleasant to once again be able to socialize with cruisers of other nationalities.
I’ve been biking and walking a lot, as it is now 11 weeks post surgery, and my knee recovery is going very well. I have most of my mobility back, and am walking/biking without pain. Here, I am out for my daily walk, and a banana plantation worker has just offered me a fresh banana!
We are next headed “back to Cairo Egypt” for what I called “unfinished business”. When we passed through the Red Sea in March/April of 2020, our intention was to stop for a month and visit the sites in Egypt. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and these easily reachable site were then off limits. So, we spent three months in Egypt but really didn’t see any antiquities. Therefore, we decided that the pandemic has eased enough to fly back and give this another try. My next post will focus on what we saw in Egypt, 23 February to 3 March.
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. https://dana-felicia.dk
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.
It was time for a road trip. Looking back to July/August of this year, we met our friends Niko and Marina while cruising along the coast of Turkey. They invited us to visit them in their home in Bodrum. Also, our friends Steve and Liz on SV LIBERTE had just arrived in their winter berth in Kusadasi at the Setur Marina “nearby” – so we decided to pay them a quick visit as well. Our route, including side trips, totalled more than 1500 km.
We stopped for pide along the way. It is similar to pizza and you can have a wide variety of toppings.
Kusadasi is a much larger city than we were prepared for, or really wanted to stay in “long term”. While it was nice to visit, we didn’t think it was appropriate for our interests, as a winter berth. There were just too many shops and restaurants, and much of the geography was all on hills, steep hills. Nonetheless, it was good to stop in and see our friends. So, we headed back to Bodrum, to see what that was like. In Bodrum, we stayed with our friends Niko and Marina in their beautiful 3 story home. Surrounding the home were dozens of fruit trees, and we had fresh squeezed orange juice every morning.
Lording over the seafront of Bodrum, the Castle of St. Peter is a must-see attraction. The Knights Hospitallers of St. John built this structure between 1402 and 1437 (during the crusades), and knights of the various nationalities of the order were entrusted with the defence of particular sections of the walls.
During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the castle passed into Turkish hands and the chapel was converted to a mosque. Today, many of the vast halls inside the castle display various exhibits, including Bodrum’s Museum of Underwater Archaeology. This is the Theatre at Halicarnassus, also known as Bodrum Antique Theatre, a 4th-century BC Greco-Roman theatre located in the centre of Bodrum. The theatre is considered to be built in a similar style to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.
On the Bodrum waterfront, the marina is jam packed, mostly with large and expensive Turkish Gullets. There is no berth that we can afford here.
A tour around the peninsula of Bodrum yields stunning views of the islands in the distance. These Greek islands are very close.
We easily found a Turkish restaurant featuring authentic non-tourist cuisine.
In the area NW of Bodrum, lies Lake Bafa, a vast inland freshwater lake.
Thousands of years before, Lake Bafa was a bay, and lay on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. With the receding sea levels, the lake eventually became landlocked. Apparently, this is an important bird sanctuary in Turkey, a shallow area where migratory birds stay and breed in autumn and spring. Lake Bafa was declared a nature reserve in 1994, but, the changing chemical content and decreasing oxygen levels have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of fish and the ecosystem suffered irreversible damage. Redirection of the Büyük Menderes river away from the lake and the continuing waste of olive oil factories surrounding the area has distorted the natural habitat. Nonetheless, it was very picturesque.
We spent one day touring the ancient city of Ephesus. This city was built in the 10th century BC (1,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ) on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era, it was one of twelve cities that were members of the Ionian League. The city came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.
The city was famous in its day for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), which has been designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It’s many monumental buildings included the Library of Celsus and a theatre capable of holding 24,000 spectators. This is what remains of the Library of Celsus.
Ephesus was also one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation; the Gospel of John may have been written there; and it was the site of several 5th-century Christian Councils. The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD. Although it was afterwards rebuilt, its importance as a commercial centre declined as the harbour was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River. In 614, it was partially destroyed by an earthquake.
Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a favourite international and local tourist attraction, perhaps partly because they are easy to access from Adnan Menderes Airport and from Kuşadası, a cruise ship port some 30 km south of it. In 2015, the ruins were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even buy “genuine fake watches” there.
16 Ephesus Genuine fake watches.jpg
Turkey is covered in ruins, from all ages. Driving on the highway to Ephesus, we passed by the Magnesia Ruins, named after the Magnetes from Thessaly who settled the area along with some Cretans. In earlier times, it was the site of Leucophrys mentioned by several ancient writers.
The territory around Magnesia was extremely fertile, and produced excellent wine, figs, and cucumbers. It was built on the slope of Mount Thorax, on the banks of the small river Lethacus, a tributary of the Maeander river upstream from Ephesus.
We also stopped in to visit the Shrine of the Virgin Mary – considered to be the last home of the Blessed Virgin, mother of Jesus Christ. According to historical records, St John cared for Mary and took her with him, fearing persecution and leaving the Jerusalem area for Asia Minor. Also, the tomb of St John was found in Ephesus. This Chapel was rebuilt upon the original foundations of the house of the Blessed Virgin, dating back to the first century.
Just on the outskirts of Bodrum, you will find the ancient city of Pedasa, where the ancient Lelegs lived during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Lelegs were considered as a separate nation of the Ancient Carya, and they moved to this area after the Trojan War. Their civilization existed during the period from 11th to 6th centuries BC.
Today Pedasa’s ruins are fragments of fortress walls and two internal towers. Several dome-shaped tombs have been preserved in the southern part of the hill. To get to them you have to leave the road and walk quite a bit by foot over rough terrain and steep hills.
There was no shortage of stunning landscape views.
Driving back to Alanya, we were finally able to stop in for lunch at one of these road side restaurants that offer fresh grilled lamb. We had a feast.
It has been three months since I last blogged. We had a holiday, in September and part of October, flying to Austria, Netherlands and finally Canada to visit family. As always, it was a whirlwind trip, and this time a little more complicated because of the pandemic travel restrictions. Nonetheless, we prevailed, and brought back the usual suitcase full of boat parts and other hard to find things.
On return to Alanya, we bought new e-bikes. These are made by Volta, here in Turkey – although I suspect they are actually Chinese manufacture, and assembled in Turkey. We bought identical VB1 models: weight 22.2kg, max speed 25 km/hr, 36V, 8.8Ahr, 250W motor – and a stated range of 30-110km (although in practice, I find it might be more like 35km). These are definitely “starter” e-bikes and were cheap for us to buy (about $710 CDN each) and we are getting a great deal of use of of them.
Independence Day, or Republic Day is a public holiday in Turkey commemorating the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, on 29 October 1923. The annual celebrations start at 1:00 pm on 28 October and continue for 35 hours. Here in Alanya, we noticed that only the government offices were closed, and the shops remained open. At the marina, they threw a small party and invited the cruisers to attend. Since this is the first time this marina has had any sort of public gathering (largely due to COVID-19) restrictions, I thought it was newsworthy. We attended, had free food – and mixed it up with many foreign and local cruisers.
We have had an annoying problem with our Volvo engine, one that has plagued us for the past three years. The engine has an alarm (idiot light) and a gauge to indicate coolant temperature. As the engine gets close to 80C (operating temperature), the idiot light and alarm start to sing, ever so slightly. As it gets just a little warmer, the sound gets louder. Of course, I immediately hop into action with an infra-red heat gun to check the actual engine temperature in a number of places, and it’s never more than 80C. After much deliberation, I decided that the sensor must be defective. This Volvo sensor (ordered through the local Volvo dealer) cost me 150 euros – an exorbitant price in my opinion (but apparently normal for Volvo).
I drained the coolant, replaced the sensor, ran the engine up to temperature – and refilled the coolant to the proper level. Afterwards, I tested the old sensor in a coffee cup with boiled water. Both the new and old sensor are identical, indicating maximum temperature 120C, and operating temperature of 95C + or – 3C. Like a good mechanic, I checked the operation of the old sensor and observed that it triggered at 80C, much too early. It was an easy, although pricey fix – but I’m glad to know the reason for the failure. At least my labour was cheap.
Our HF/SSB radio, an ICOM IC-M802 – bought and installed in 2008 – has had a failing screen for more than a year. We have been in hot/humid environments for so long – that the LCD screen fails. Other screens have similarly failed, and we had to replace of VHF radio – since it could no longer be repaired.
Falling on the advice of my friend Ken Gooding, I undertook the repair myself. I ordered the part from ICOM Canada in Vancouver, and then took the control head and screen apart. This is the start of the process.
This is the end result, after about 1.5 hours of labour – again, cheap – because it was just me. This kind of job is in direct contrast to the labour required to work on the engine, or repair a facet. There are many small wires and delicate connectors. In the end it worked out fine.
I bought a box of carbon water filters the other day on N11.com, a Turkish online site. These filters cost me about $1.00 USD each, an incredible deal compared to West Marine in the US, where they sell for about $ 25 USD. It’s a good time to stock up.
Turning to the engine, the Volvo TMD-31B, I: changed the oil and filter, changed the primary and secondary fuel filters, changed the anode, and adjusted the valve tappet clearances. Next on my list is to work on the ONAN generator, which I haven’t been able to start in a while (not the battery, or the starter….).
We finally left Alanya Marina for a summer anchoring holiday on 14 July (nearly two weeks later than planned). It was our chance to get away from the city, away from the day to day grind, and sample some of the pristine clear water and thousands of beautiful anchorages that Turkey is known for. We left on Wednesday 14 July, and our first anchorage was a 72nm motor-sail West of Alanya, the very protected Ceneviz Koyu.
At Ceneviz Koyu, we met our Turkish friends Tahir and Yonca, who had recently completed a sailing course and were renting a sailboat for the first time, and anchored next to us. This bay was incredibly clean with bluish-green crystal clear waters with several turtles living nearby. The bay is surrounded by cedar trees and there was a constant buzz in the air from the cicadas humming. It was very peaceful – and as an added bonus, there was a good mobile phone signal.
While there, one day we drove our dinghy East to “nearby” Olympos Beach and took a taxi to the tourist attraction at the base of Mount Chimaera. This is a group of natural vents spouting perpetual flames above the ruins of the temple of Hephaistos. Mount Chimaera was the name of a place in ancient Lycia, notable for constantly burning fires, based on methane and other gases emerging from the rocks. Some ancient sources considered it to be the origin of the myth of the monster called the Chimera. The “walk” up the hill in 42C was a bit of a slog. It took about 30 minutes to hike up 1000m, and another 45 minutes to walk down.
As promised, there was a hint of methane gas and fires were burning. It sure was hot!
We took our “go-fast” dinghy twice to the nearby beach about 2nm away, and picked up provisions at the Orange Supermarket. This run used up a lot of gas! The beach was swarming with tourists, it appeared that 90% of them were Turkish.
Our next anchorage was further West at Gokkaya Limani, near “Smugglers Inn”, the only “restaurant” in the area. This bay enjoys cooler, fresh and clean water because of several natural underwater springs. It was humming with activity and chock-a-block with mostly Turkish boats, but a few international cruisers as well. There was actually an enterprising young man with a small covered motorboat, a large solar panel, and a freezer chock full of ice cream. He came around in the afternoon, and one day we tasked him to buy us bananas and yoghurt – and take away our trash.
This is a very well protected anchorage, and other than the wakes from Turkish water sports boats, there was no swell. This, of course, completely died down at night. Smugglers Inn seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. It was more of a local “watering hole” than an inn – so we looked forward to future finds. Our daily routine consisted of swimming, casual walks on shore, reading and relaxing – lots of relaxing.
There were no people on shore, but plenty of goats on a small island.
At this anchorage, we met our Turkish/Canadian friends Nico and Marina on Canadian flagged SV BRACONNIER.
After nearly a week at this anchorage, we finally moved on further West to yet another beautiful anchorage on the Lycian Way. Along the way, we passed these ruins on the hillside near Kekova Roads.
We anchored just SW of Woodhouse Bay, near the Turkish restaurant Yoruk Ramazan.
We had a walk ashore on a rocky, somewhat challenging trail and saw some of the countryside.
After returning to the restaurant, we filled up on cold water, beer and home-made french fries cooked over a wood fire. We returned to this place a few nights later to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary.
Then, we moved again further West to the marina in Kaş (pronounced “cash”), or more accurately, the bay next to the Setur Kaş Marina. This anchorage was also a source of many cold water natural springs. Anytime we jumped in the water to get cooled off, we could see the temperature inversion layers, and feel alternating warm and cold water. It was very refreshing and more invigorating than we had ever experienced before!
After 14 days of anchoring, we timed our arrival so that we could visit the weekly market and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. At Kaş, we went by car with our friends Nico and Marina back to Demre, to see the UNESCO site of St. Nicholas Church, an ancient East Roman basilica church in the ancient city of Myra. This Eastern Orthodox church was built above the burial place of St Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian bishop of Myra, an important religious figure for Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics and the historical inspiration for Santa Claus. Its use dated from its 6th century construction for the state church of the Roman Empire by Justinian the Great.
There were probably about 6 dogs inside, resting in the shade – out of the sun. Nobody bothered with them, and they looked right at home.
While in Demre, we also visited the ruins of Myra: an ancient Greek, then Roman Greek, then Byzantine Greek, then Ottoman Greek town in Lycia, which became the small Turkish town of Kale, and was renamed Demre in 2005. More recently, in 1923 the Greek inhabitants were required to leave through a Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, at which time its church was finally abandoned. There is a lot of history here in this area.
There are several necropoles cut from the rock face, as well as a large, well preserved theatre – all dating back thousands of years.
On another outing, we headed out to see the ruins at Xanthos, an ancient city in Lycian times. Xanthos is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Letoon, the centre of the Lycian civilization. However, when we got there, it was all closed down TIGHT. There have been a lot of forest fires in this area over the past week, and the government shut some of these sites, closed the gates and posted signs in Turkish that the site was closed until the risk of forest fires diminished.
OK, we changed gears and went instead to the ancient ruins at Patara, on our way back to Kaş. Patara (later renamed Arsino) was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia along this coast line. Coincidentally, it is also the birthplace of St. Nicholas in 270 AD, who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre), which we already visited.
In addition to the ruins, this area just happens to have one of the best beaches in Turkey. Of course, this isn’t a photo I took, it was swamped with tourists when we were there!
We did stop by Letoon, to see even more ruins just a few kilometres away. This site is unique because of the discovery of a stone bearing inscriptions in three ancient languages, a decree of some kind. The languages were ancient Greek, Lycian and Aramaic – all dead languages.
If only this thousand year old olive tree could talk ……
By 5 August, we reported to the local government hospital at Kaş and got another COVID-19 vaccination. Over the past few months, we have received two shots of Coronavac / Sinovac (one of the Chinese vaccinations). According to the World Health Organization (and the Turkish Ministry of Health), we were fully vaccinated. However, our home country of Canada does not recognize this vaccine (probably a political issue between China and Canada) so, if we went to Canada for a visit, we would be considered unvaccinated. Therefore, we took Turkey’s offer up for a third shot, a “booster”, this time with BioNTech Phizer. Our hope is to get another Phizer shot in a few weeks time – and therefore be considered fully vaccinated in Canada. After getting this shot, we then started to move slowly back East.
One of things that is new for us, is seeing so many boats dropping anchor, falling back and taking a line ashore. I’ve occasionally seen that before, but here, even in 25 feet of water, I’ve seen boats lay out 200m of chain and fall a long way back to a line ashore, tied to a rock. This can make things challenging when they pickup, as other anchors and chains can become nestled in. This boat, for example, dropped right in the middle of the channel (maybe 40 deep) and took a long line (200m) to an island, or somewhat near the island. His boat was right, smack, in the middle of the channel. I’m surprised nobody snagged it during the night as the line was about “neck high” from the water and no attempt was made to make it visible.
We are now back at Alanya Marina, snuggled into our berth and have thoroughly enjoyed our 6 weeks at anchor along the Turkish coastline. In the past, our usual mode of operation has been to arrive in a country, explore on land and transit through the country as we exit. Well, with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, things are just not the same in 2020/2021 as they were in previous years. Next week, we will fly to Austria to visit family, and then we’ll see what happens next.