Monday, 10 December 2007

Now in the marina

Hello everyone

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

Latest plans

September involved a couple of visits to London. Committments with our flats there mean we are going to have to delay crossing the Atlantic this winter. We will remain based in Ibiza and are hoping to carry on sailing until mid November if the weather permits.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Family Time

Full-on family fun...

Unsettled weather

It has been a strange August...we have experienced incredibly unsettled weather over the last few weeks. Recently, anchored in Cala Jondal, we woke up to an enormous swell from high winds. We were contemplating moving to somewhere more sheltered when we saw a series of waterspouts marching across the entrance to the bay! In all we saw about 10 - large and well developed - needless to say we stayed put!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Now in Ibiza

Arrived in Ibiza on Sunday 5th August. We are anchored in Cala Bassa and having a lovely time catching up with family and friends.

New Spanish mobile number: +34 64 88 03 969

Sidi Bou Said

We are based in Sidi Bou Said, just north of Tunis, on Cap Carthage. It is a unbelievably picturesque spot – turquoise sea stretching out over shallow sands, a fertile green hillside with a gorgeous village perched on the top. The houses are painted white with blue balconies and doors and adorned with luscious bougainvilleas.

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 Tunis and visited the Bardo Museum. An old bey palace, many of the rooms are galleried and exquisitely decorated with high painted and gilded ceilings. It houses a huge collection of Roman mosaics. There is also a fascinating exhibit from a Roman shipwreck – the contents of a 40m ship destined for Rome and filled with 2nd -1st century BC furniture and artefacts (including huge marble columns) for a very rich man’s house. He must have been devastated to lose it all.

Despite being an affluent suburb of Tunis and obviously a playground for the rich, there is no internet access in the area. To get online to check the weather and emails, we have had to climb the 365 STEEP steps up to the village from the marina, take a train (after a considerable walk to the station) three stops to the town of La Marsa down the coast and a further trek! Our consolation was a delicious Lebanese lunch at a restaurant on the waterfront.

The weather looks promising on Wednesday afternoon for our 450 mile passage to Ibiza. More news from there.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Mooring Dramas

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

Pantelleria to Tunisia

On 26 July we set out late afternoon for Tunis, hoping the NW winds were turning more northerly. We met unpredicted 25 knot headwinds and a choppy sea. Just off the coast we had a major fuel leak with a failed float that Nic had to repair. Finally, about 10 miles into the journey we decided to turn back.

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

On to Pantelleria

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

Rescue operation in Gozo

We have had a fantastic time over the last couple of weeks anchoring around Malta and Gozo in some stunning bays. The snorkelling has been excellent. We also caught up with some friends, Simon and Martin, who live in Malta and whom we haven’t seen since our last visit 3 years ago. Gozo’s coastline is particularly memorable, lined with huge caves which we explored by dinghy, some stretched back 100 metres. There is also an incredible inland sea, reached through a narrow but very high cleft in the rocks. Once through it opens up and is bordered by fishing huts, quite a surprise.

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

Cultural Highs

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 Stonehenge. They only allow 80 people in per day and it’s booked up for a couple of weeks in advance. We decided to chance our luck, turn up and hope for a cancellation. We had bit of a wait but were successful. The complex is an amazing construction, especially considering its age, consisting of 3 layers with beautifully domed rooms and massive construction. Well worth the effort.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


After a couple of days at anchor in El Hofriet Bay we made our way into Valetta and are currently moored in Manoel Island Marina. It has given us a chance to get on the internet, wash the boat and do some sightseeing. Abramovich's enormous yacht is here in the marina complete with helicopter and a countless number of varying toys and tenders.

Our first night there was a local festival centred around the church by the marina. A statue of the Virgin Mary was paraded through the streets accompanied by a large amount of fireworks. This was just one of numerous such celebrations that take place all over the city all through the summer.

Today we visited the spectacular St John's Cathedral. Built by the Knights of St John in the 16th Century, the interior is one of the most elaborately decorated churches we have ever seen. It is also home to 2 fantastic Caravaggio paintings which were a joy to see. There also happened to be an exhibition of the Chinese terracotta army here which was fantastic to have the opportunity to see.

We will return to anchor tomorrow and make our way north to Gozo and then on to Pantelleria or Sicily (depending on wind and weather) before heading to Tunis to collect our new Spade anchor.

typical architecture in Valetta

local buses

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Cyprus to Malta

From Kores Bay we made our way around the north of the island to spectacular Lavrakas Bay. It is completely isolated, a stretch of golden sand ringed by high cliffs of sedimentary rock formations reminiscent of Arizona or Colarado. We had a fantastic walk following a gorge through some incredible scenery. Sadly there was too much swell to linger for more than a day in the bay so, at about 17:00 on Saturday 30th, we set off to Malta.

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 Malta on Monday morning when we had to battle our way into the anchorage with a 25 knot headwind.

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 Malta on 4th July and anchored in El Hofriet Bay to relax before heading into Valetta for water, repairs and to order a new gooseneck!

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Crete to Cyprus

We left the western end of Cyprus on Saturday 23rd and started out towards Crete. For 5 days, contrary to the weather forecasts, we had headwinds in varying degrees of force necessitating a looping southerly course and an extra 75 miles on our track.

We finally anchored in Kores Bay on Gavdos at the western end of Crete and the most southerly point of Europe. The island is pretty isolated and barren with only about 6 families living on it all year around. There’s no shops, no internet and most places have no electricity, only generators. There are some lovely beaches and the water is crystal clear. Unfortunately we were battered by constant high winds – exceptionally dry and very hot, a bit like being assaulted with a giant hairdryer. Everything, including us, was completely desiccated! The anchor, pinned under a rock, worked so hard the shank was bent.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Syrian Saga

For a full account of our outrageous treatment in Syria, please visit:

Our next plans

We have spent the last few days reading and relaxing. When the weather permits we will set off for Crete, a journey of about 400 miles which should take us about 3 days and nights. From there we will sail to Malta, another 550 miles, and then on to Tunisia. Once we have taken delivery of our new Spade anchor we will head to the Balearics, hoping to arrive the beginning of August.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Refuge in Cyprus

We are now in Larnaca, Cyprus after another 24 hour sail into headwinds.

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

Dishonesty in Syria

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 Alexandria, Egypt, almost 500 miles away (a minimum of 5 days and 5 nights continuous sailing).

  • 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 Turkey for exit papers if they were still going to refuse us entry. They said it was our choice. This is utterly inaccurate. Maissa confirmed they were lying but nothing was documented. The 10 or so officials present quite clearly told us on Thursday 7th that we should go to Iskenderum in Turkey and return with exit papers. Nic made a point of confirming it several times with several officials because of how ridiculous it seemed. It was not our idea to make a journey of 200 miles to get a rubber stamp. Despite our 3 day trip to comply with their requirement no one ever asked to see the exit paper we obtained in Mersin!

We telephoned the British consul in Damascus who told me they were unable to help as they did not have an office in Latakia. The marina brought their lawyer into the discussions, to no avail.

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 London, Mr Loutfi, and explain our situation to him. It was only his kind intervention that resulted in some humanity being shown and we were allowed to stay the night and they offered to get us provisions.

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 Syria for some time and had obtained our visas at the Syrian Embassy in London in February this year. We have long been looking forward to exploring the country. We certainly did not expect to be treated like criminals and liars especially after having made such an enormous effort. We are very sad to be left with the impression that the Syrian people are not honourable and do not keep their word but worst of all they have no regard for the safety of a ship and her crew, contrary to all international norms.

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 Israel after leaving Rhodes. This is utterly ridiculous and paranoid as it is almost a 600 mile direct passage and inconceivable for us to undertake with Michele's injury.

The irony of the situation is that we could take our boat to Israel where we can travel overland to Jordan and can enter Syria from there.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Back to Syria!

We left Mersin on Sunday morning and sailed about 32 miles to Cape Karatas. It's a protected area - just miles of sand dunes and turquoise water with depths of 5-10 m several miles out. We dropped anchor for a rest and some dinner. At around 9pm we set off on the final leg back to Latakia.

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

Back to Turkey!

We had a fantastic sail 95miles across to Mersin (we decided this was a preferable destination to Iskenderum and only a further 10 miles distance). There were 2 to 4m waves but we had enough wind to make it a comfortable point of sail. We are anchored in a huge commercial port and it took several hours to get the paperwork we need. Not a single one of the officials we saw had ever seen a Turkish cruising log before! We will return to Latakia tomorrow. We are still incredulous of the whole situation.

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 Syria!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Paperwork nightmare!

Once moored we started the check-in process and that’s where the problems began…

Our last port of call was Rhodes harbour and, as we were an EEC boat in EEC waters, we had not formally checked out. This was unacceptable to the officials – they had to have some sort of stamp. It would appear the concern is whether the boat might have been in Israel.

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 Turkey, check in and check out, and then return. This would be a 170 mile return journey (around 18 hours of sailing each way). Needless to say we were not happy about being forced out at night on limited sleep after just having completed a 3 night passage to get there. Additionally we would be leaving with no weather information.

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

Dolphin with strange parasitic fish attached.

Our crossing to Syria

We made reasonable time on the first half of our passage to Latakia, the main port of Syria, but were then totally becalmed off the northern coast of Cyprus. The timing meant that we were not going to be able to arrive off the Syrian coast before dark (as required) on Wednesday night. We therefore spent the day becalmed, drifting along, swimming and relaxing.
We saw lots of dolphin along the way – in groups of 10-15. The last pod that came to play seemed to have some sort of strange parasitic fish attached to them up to 2 feet long (see photo). They were a different species, much smaller than the usual bottle-nosed variety we normally see. Any marine biologists among you may be able to tell us more about this.
Wednesday evening the wind picked up and continued on the final leg. It was a rough passage the last 70 miles across from the tip of Cyprus. As we approached Latakia at about 08:30 the winds were 20/25 knots making our final mooring in the “Syrian Yacht Club” (basically a concrete quay in a tiny fishing harbour) an interesting arrival.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Nic swimming on our passage to Latakia

Monday, 4 June 2007

Leavıng for Syria

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 Latakkia, Syria just after 6pm. We have around 275 miles to cover and hope to arrive on Thursday.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Anchored in Gokkaya Limani

After a Sunday lunch at a restaurant we frequented when we were here last year, we motored around to Gokkaya Limani. It’s a stunning anchorage. “Stumpy” the finger is healing well now but it’s still too soon to be immersed in water so my swimming is with a lifering!

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Sail to Kekova

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 Syria but it’s a beautiful spot here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Leaving Lindos

Heading off from Lindos this afternoon for Kekova on the south Turkish coast. "Stumpy" healing well and out of bandages.

Friday, 25 May 2007


Now anchored in Lindos with stunning surroundings and lovely weather. Bill & Pixi from S/Y Intsomi sailed down to visit us for a couple of nights which has been great fun. My hospital visit went well yesterday. They asked to see me again next Thursday to take out the stitches but we are going to try to head off the beginning of next week if it's all healing well. Doctor Nic will take out the stitches!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Medical Update

My little finger is healing slowly but there is still a dead patch on the tip. They took out a couple of stitches yesterday and want to see me again on Thursday. My other fingers are much better; 4 of 5 stitches now out of my middle finger. We are hoping to sail down to Lindos (30 miles south of Rhodes) tomorrow and anchor there until I get a final discharge from the hospital, hopefully Monday.

Sunday, 20 May 2007


Rhodes harbour is one of the worst places to be in a southerly storm and, for 24 hours, that’s exactly what we had. It was blowing steadily Force 6/7 but as each front came through we were getting prolonged gusts of Force 8/9. We had to keep the engine going for around 12 hours to keep us off the quay and also deployed our fisherman anchor to take the pressure off our stern anchor.

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

Still in Rhodes

We are still in Rhodes...when we went back to the hospital to have my injuries checked the surgeons were concerned with a dead patch of skin on my little finger tip. They decided to admit me and I spent 2 nights in hospital being pumped full of antibiotics. Fortunately I did not have to have a further operation, which they were threatening, and I am now back on the boat. The check-up yesterday was ok and they have asked me to come back in again on Monday. Hopefully we might be able to get underway by the middle of next week. My other 2 damaged and stitched fingers are healing really well. All very frustrating but the weather is fantastic and Rhodes town is beautiful so we can't complain too much.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Accident & Emergency

Well, plans can change quickly... on leaving Rhodes harbour I managed to catch my fingers in the anchor winch. The result was a lot of blood and the tip of my little finger ripped off while we were still hanging on the anchor! Poor Nic had to get the anchor up, redeploy it and remoor the boat. Meanwhile I bandaged up my hand and went up front to throw our lines ashore. The rest of the day was spent in hospital - not quite what we had foreseen that morning.

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

Off to Rhodes

We left Marmaris yesterday at 6am and had a lovely trip over to Rhodes with a champagne breakfast to celebrate the renewed start of our travels. The day was spent fuelling and provisioning. Today we are getting on with preparing the boat for our trip to Syria.

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

Back in the water


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

Nic's Birthday

Sadly still our the water for Nic's birthday so it was a day of work. We did meet up with friends for a birthday dinner in the restaurant at Yacht Marine. In the meantime the painting, varnishing etc continues.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Haul Out continues

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 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

Haul Out at Pruva

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

Road Trip 10-12 April 2007

Time for a bit of a travelogue after our excursion last week, for pictures visit

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.