Monday, 10 December 2007
We are now safely (we hope!) moored in Club Nautic, San Antonio, Ibiza. There's no one around us on the pontoon so we have a fantastic view across the bay. We are hoping to manage a few day sails over the winter, especially with the family at Christmas.
Merry Chrismas and a Happy New Year to everyone we know.
Lots of love,
Michele and Nic
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Monday, 27 August 2007
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
New Spanish mobile number: +34 64 88 03 969
We are based in Sidi Bou Said, just north of
We have taken delivery of our new 55kg Spade anchor. We were keeping our fingers crossed that it would fit on the bow roller and miraculously, it does! Hopefully we can look forward to drag free anchoring in future.
Sunday we went into
Despite being an affluent suburb of
The weather looks promising on Wednesday afternoon for our 450 mile passage to
Saturday, 28 July 2007
We could get no response on the radio from the marina at Sidi Bou Said so on arrival we moored alongside in the only available berth, just near the entrance. It was not long before someone came along and wanted us to move to another berth, much further into the tiny harbour. We were directed into a dead end and a berth far too small for Irony. As Nic tried to manoeuvre us in to the space we were hit with 25 knot crosswinds. Just to help matters, I couldn’t get the marinero to turn the rope I threw him around the bollard, he tried to hold on to it himself! We finally tied up but our stern was well into the already narrow channel. They decided we should go back to the original berth! Our departure was no less dramatic because, as Nic tried to reverse out, he was faced successively with 3 boats blocking the channel and showing no signs of moving until we gesticulated violently at them and shouted in French. Nic did a magnificent job getting Irony into position attracting much praise from other boats who were all thankful they weren’t in our place!
Friday, 27 July 2007
On 26 July we set out late afternoon for
Take 2 the next day! Still NW headwinds but less strong with more moderate seas. We were forced to tack, adding about 35 miles on to our 90 mile journey and a lot of hours. Altogether an uncomfortable and tiring passage.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
We checked out of Mgarr, Gozo on 23 July and took on some duty free fuel. Unfortunately a grain ship was being unloaded near the fuel quay and the wind was blowing in our direction. We’ve been severely sanded before but not “grained”.
Once again we experienced no wind or headwinds on our overnight sail to Pantelleria. High NW winds prevented us from visiting the harbour and limited us to one anchorage on the SE of the island, Dietro Isola. The scenery was spectacular and the snorkelling very good if blighted by too many jellyfish for comfort.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
We have had a fantastic time over the last couple of weeks anchoring around
In one anchorage, a bay almost entirely enclosed by high cliffs, a motorboat came alongside and told us they were sinking. A helicopter then began circling and dropped a man into the water. After a discussion with the captain he was hoisted up again and they left. Nic ended up ferrying the 18 passengers to shore in our dinghy and lent them a pump together with assistance. In the meantime a police boat arrived and left, shortly followed by the coastguard who seemed more interested in paperwork than any practical help. Several hours later, when enough water had been pumped out of the bilges, the motorboat managed to get an engine running and head home.
Friday, 13 July 2007
We managed to visit an incredible site called the Hypogeum. Dating from 3600 BC, it is a underground temple and burial site and predates the Pyramids and
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
The first night we were flying along at 8 knots. In light winds we flew our cruising shute the second night but then we lost the wind entirely and ended up motoring in dead calm. We didn’t really get any serious wind until we were approaching
The trip was not without its dramas – a water alarm went off 200 miles from land. The cause was a split in the exhaust gooseneck leaking into the stern steering compartment – unexpected as this was a new Vetus part less than a year old.
We arrived in
Saturday, 30 June 2007
We left the western end of
We finally anchored in
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
We have spent the last few days reading and relaxing. When the weather permits we will set off for
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Our series of unfortunate events continued when we were leaving Latakia - we had a problem with the engine idle. A part Nic had welded in Rhodes had cracked again. This delayed us for an hour while the part was taken off and welded.
On route we were sailing at over 7 knots with 4 sails up and a large ship heading our way when we lost the autopilot and steering! Nic had to reattach the hydraulic arm to the steering while I tried to remain calm! Hero that he is, he sorted it out before we got into any danger and Irony brilliantly held her course to wind.
We plan to anchor here for a few days, recover from our ordeal and decide what to do next.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
It was at least 2 hours before the marina staff arrived at our boat with a group of officials. They informed us that we would have to leave immediately. The officials were reluctant to provide an explanation. After we pressed the most senior man to give a reason he said that we had not radioed the port when we entered Syrian waters. We told him that this was not correct; Nic had contacted the port 5 times on our approach. This was never mentioned again.
We discussed the situation with Maissa from the marina. She assured us that we had done nothing incorrect or illegal. We also tried to explain to the officials that:
- We had fulfilled their instructions to sail to a Turkish port to obtain the paperwork they wanted.
- In doing so we had experienced a difficult return passage to Latakia.
- We had no more than 1 or 2 hours sleep in the last 32 hours.
- We had not eaten since 21:00 the previous night.
- Our next planned port of call was
, almost 500 miles away (a minimum of 5 days and 5 nights continuous sailing). Alexandria, Egypt
- We would need to refuel for such a long passage.
- We had no weather information.
- We did not have enough food and drinking water on board for a long passage.
- We had made no passage plan to such a distant port.
- We had still not had the opportunity to make necessary repairs to the boat that were outstanding when we arrived in Latakia on 7th June.
For all of these reasons to depart immediately would put us and Irony at risk. The officials were utterly unsympathetic and insisted we leave immediately unwilling to consider the dangers in such a situation. Nic told them we would require an extra crew and compensation for their sending us on a three day, 200 mile round trip when we were already exhausted and now wanted to send us out again .They laughed and said that we had entered illegally (blatantly untrue) and therefore had no rights. The discussions continued and a vehicle was brought to the quay and we were advised that if we did not leave the situation would “escalate”. The implication was that we would be arrested.
We continued to ask what we had done wrong. The next reason given was that we had not notified them of our arrival 24 hours in advance. This was also untrue; we emailed the Syrian Yacht Club on Saturday evening and have a reply from Maissa welcoming us again to Syria! Apparently Maissa did not manage to get the required form to the officials until Monday morning, their fax was broken which they did not deny. Clearly this was not our fault.
We also continued to ask why we were instructed to make a 200 mile round trip to
We telephoned the British consul in
I asked to speak to the person giving the directive for us to leave, requesting the opportunity to put our case to him face to face or on the telephone as a reasonable man. I was refused, he was too important.
Finally we persuaded them to bring a tanker to refuel. The marina office provided some weather information which showed that the wind was not favourable for us to reach our next port of call. 2 guards were posted by our boat.
Eventually I managed to speak to the Syrian Consul in
We left Latakia on Tuesday morning 12th June,
It is now obvious that we were never going to be allowed entry. It is quite dishonest and disgraceful that we were not advised this on our first arrival. To tell us to make a 200 mile journey under false pretences is dishonourable and dangerous.
We cannot find words to express our outrage at this experience. We have been planning our visit to We have been treated as if we are a commercial ship not a pleasure craft, our crime was anchoring and not obtaining receipts! It would appear that the underlying problem, despite our written assurances to the contrary, was that we might have taken our boat to The irony of the situation is that we could take our boat to
We cannot find words to express our outrage at this experience. We have been planning our visit to
We have been treated as if we are a commercial ship not a pleasure craft, our crime was anchoring and not obtaining receipts! It would appear that the underlying problem, despite our written assurances to the contrary, was that we might have taken our boat to
The irony of the situation is that we could take our boat to
Monday, 11 June 2007
Unfortunately we soon encountered high waves again and 30 knot headwinds. We tacked our way across and arrived into the marina, completely exhausted from lack of sleep at about midday.
Saturday, 9 June 2007
We had a fantastic sail 95miles across to
It goes without saying that we are going to contact everyone we can think of to complain about this debacle. They are completely mad to send us off on a 200 mile round trip for a rubber stamp. There is absolutely no problem with issuing our visas and allowing us to travel in the country, the only problem was with Irony sitting on the concrete pier for around 7 days! So much for encouraging tourism in
Friday, 8 June 2007
Once moored we started the check-in process and that’s where the problems began…
Our last port of call was
The negotiations went on all day long and by the afternoon we had a posse of around 10 people next to our boat. The problem was not with us, they were happy to issue our visas and let us enter the country, the problem was with Irony! The marina staff, immigration & customs officials etc were all touchingly helpful and friendly. They did everything in their power to sort things out. Unfortunately they could not persuade the higher power (we believe it was the harbourmaster) to concede. We presented receipts from Mandraki marina, showed our track on the laptop of our passage, etc etc. All to no avail.
We were told at around 15:30 that we would have to leave by 18:00, sail to Iskenderum in
We refused to leave without fuelling, as we did not have sufficient fuel for the journey, to be told it was too late in the day. This resulted in further hours of negotiations. An engineer came on board to check on the fuel in our tank and to calculate our fuel consumption (basically calling us liars). Finally they brought a tanker in and we got 200 litres (approx $0.175/litre!!!). By this time it was around 22:00 and they still were insisting we leave. In exhaustion and stress I broke into tears as we were about to start the engine and depart! Nic said all the men on shore were devastated and this prompted the next attempts to resolve the situation. They got Nic to radio Latakia port control to request remaining until daylight. By this time the uncompromising official must have gone home because they allowed us to spend the night.
The next morning we threw our lines just before 09:00, feeling somewhat better for some sleep and some food.
Thursday, 7 June 2007
Monday, 4 June 2007
This morning we visited a fabulous cave in Gokkaya Limani with the dinghy. We then made our way around to Finike. On the way we passed an enormous turtle (his shell was at least a meter long) swimming on the surface. We set off for
Sunday, 3 June 2007
Thursday, 31 May 2007
We had a cracking sail from Lindos to Kekova…20-25 knots of wind (peak gust recorded 43 knots!). There were some good sized 3/4m waves but Irony took them in her stride. On arrival we couldn’t get the genoa furled in. We had to anchor with 80 sq m of sail flapping. When I winched Nic up the mast he discovered that a whole part of the mechanism was missing. He has ingeniously managed to fix this now by cutting up a plastic breadboard! The repairs have, of course, delayed our departure to
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Friday, 25 May 2007
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Sunday, 20 May 2007
At the end of the quay a catamaran sank - the anchor didn’t hold and the boat was being thrown against the concrete. The English owner has flown back the UK without leaving a key or telephone number making it impossible to get into the boat to start the engine and reset the anchor. A hole finally opened up in one of the hulls and the boat started going under, putting the neighbouring boat in peril. Terrible to see a boat lost to negligence on the part of the owner.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Unfortunately my little finger (left hand thankfully) was badly damaged and I have lost the first section but the surgeon has tried to rebuild a finger tip shape. All very Nip Tuck! There are stitches in the next 2 fingers too and my hand is bandaged and unusable. It brings a whole new meaning to single or short-handed sailing!
Since the stitches don't come out for 2 weeks we are going to delay going to Syria until after that. Current plan is to head to Kekova and take it easy. There we will be within easy distance of the hospital in Antalya which has a good reputation and a plastic surgery department.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
We plan to leave Rhodes tomorrow evening and sail overnight to Kekova on the southern Turkish coast. We will probably spend some time anchored around there and then do our check-out from Turkey at Finike. We then have a 275 mile sail to Lattakia in Syria. The Syrian visas we obtained in London run out on the 14 May so we have to arrive there on or before then.
Thursday, 3 May 2007
FOR PICTURES OF OUR HAUL-OUT GO TO http://picasaweb.google.com/Ironylondon/200704HaulOut
We are back in the water finally after two weeks, a huge relief. Great to be out of the dirty yard and back to functioning loos. It was a nerve-wracking experience going back in on the sled. Once it starts heading into the water the boat slides backwards with a massive whoosh! The stern anchor was under water. There is a nice tradition there of providing baklava for everyone in the yard when you are launched so we got 2kg of it. There have been almost daily boat launches so I am surprised we aren't fat by now.
I am writing this from anchor in Marmaris Bay. We are going to spend tomorrow doing our final errands in town. Tomorrow night we are trying to meet up with some friends who are arriving from France who we haven't seen since last year. Then, all being well, we will sail to Rhodes on Saturday in convoy with another boat. After fuelling up and provisioning we will head off east for Syria. Our visa validity runs out on 14 May so we have to try to get there by then.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Work progressing here but at the usual slow pace. Nic was trying to finish off sanding Irony's bottom Tuesday and they ran out of water! It has to be brought in by lorry from a spring, not an aspect we were aware of. Very annoying because, as you will see from the attached pic, it's a horribly messy job he's been doing for 2 days and was hoping to put to rest yesterday so we could get on with the painting.
Our proximity with the local wildlife here is possibly a little too close for comfort, I was just about to walk into the loo and something moving under the sink caught my eye...it turned out to be a snake! Although skinny it was at least 2ft long, bright green and very active! I now have to go in there beating a stick around to make sure the area is clear. I am only glad I spotted it before I sat down on the loo.
Our schedule has slipped so, allowing for paint to cure the requisite number of days, we are not going to be back in the water before Wednesday.
Monday, 23 April 2007
Just in case you thought we were having too much fun...we are now hauled out at a boatyard called Pruva. Good view across Marmaris Bay but limited on civilised facilities.
Instead of coming out on a travel lift we have come out on a "sled" which is a new experience. It's a metal contraption which slides into the water. Once the boat is cradled in it, it is slowly winched up on to the shore. The rest of the journey to our resting place was on greased planks. Quite an operation to lift our 26 tons but they are very used to it and lift out much bigger boats than us. The method is advantageous to the way Irony is built - less stress on the hard "chines" along the hull so the paint doesn't come off on the weld lines.
Hopefully we will be back in the water by next Monday at the latest. It's not a pleasant experience - the loo and shower are VERY basic. I have a key to one area so I don't have to share with all the boatyard workers but I do share with some very large spiders! The shower comes out at a dribble and there is no light so we have to grope around by torchlight after sunset. Everything is filthy from all the work going on and because we are out of the water, we have no water or drainage on board. This means any water used has to be taken down the ladder in a bucket. Peeing at night is via a funnel into a bottle which as to be emptied the next day. Oh joy!
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
We had to take the engine shafts to Izmir, around 300 km from Marmaris, to have some modifications done which were not possible here. If we were very luck and got the shafts to the workshop before 9am they had promised to d the work in one day so it seemed like a good idea to extend the trip to visit a couple of sites we really wanted to see before we left Turkey. We ended up having 5 other friends join us (strangley enough they were all people we met first in Tunisia!) and hired a minibus for 180 euros for 3 days.
Off we set last Tuesday at 4am and found our way to the workshop which was located just outside Izmir. No one spoke a word of English so negotiations had to be done via mobile phone with the workshop we had been dealing with in Marmaris and sign language - somewhat worrying for such an important job. Anyway, they assured us the work would be finished by 5pm.
We headed into Izmir, a large coastal city with a huge population. The waterfront has been developed since Nic & I passed through over 10 years ago and is far better than we remember it. We spent the day exploring the bazaar, getting some dive tanks certified and various other errands. Nervously we returned to pick up the shafts and discovered they had decided it was best to turn new ones instead of modifying the old ones - all in a day!
From Izmir we drove to a small town called Selcuk, our best option for the night. It was late when we arrived but we found a sweet pansiyon for the equivalent of around £12 for double room including breakfast. The next morning we drove up to a village called Sirince which Nic and I have visited before but the others hadn't seen. It's very picturesque and was worth a short stop to wander around.
Our next stop was Pammukale ("Cotton Castle"), a natural wonder caused by a hot spring bubbling up over a plateau, cooling and depositing calcium carbonate. What we see now has been accumulating for millenia creating white travertine (hard chalk) terraces. The therapeutic properties and bizzarre appearance of the springs were know about for thousands of years before atown was founded here in 2nd century BC. The town, Hierapolis is mentioned in Paul's Epistle to the (neighbouring) Colossians and Philip the Apostle is thought to have been martyred here with his 7 sons.
After walking up through the travertines we bathed the thermal baths - the sacred pool of the ancients bubbling up from its bottom at 35C over marble columns and capitals. It was amazing experience, a bit like swimming in warm soda water. There was an extraordinary refraction effect in the water which made us all look like distorted dwarves.
The next day we drove to Aphrodisias, one of Rome's most cultured Asian cities and earliest occupied sites in Anatolia. There was a fertility cult there since Neolithic times culminating in worship of Hellenistic Aphrodite. It didn't develop from a shrine to a town until the 2nd century BC. It later became a Christian site and was finally abandoned in the 13th century. The ruins are magnificent including a 30,000 seat stadium, one of the largest and best preserved and the site of gladiatorial games until the 4th century.
It was a full but interesting and enjoyable 3 days. We are now back in the marina and Nic has re-installed the shafts and we are mobile again. We are planing to leave the marina tomorrow and spend the night at anchor. On Friday we will be taken out of the water on a sled (new experience and probably the subject of my next email!) at a "marina" (small, basic and very Turkish) nearby. We are hoping to get Irony's bottom scraped and repainted and be back in the water in 7-10 days.
With luck we will sail over to Rhodes for Nic's birthday on 1st May. Once we have provisioned we will start sailing east along the Turkish coast to Syria.