Thursday 4th February 2010

Today was the crazy culmination of a week of minimal amounts of sleep and maximum amounts of work.  We have completed most of the jobs on the list over the last few days and today we are flying out, after I’ve completed installing the ensuite vanity basin.  I must confess, I cut it pretty tight getting to the airport – Brad and I finished the bathroom, then I quickly got changed, loaded everything into the cars and headed to the airport.  On the way to the airport there was one quick stop I needed to do – we’d been told the night before by Jim and Carola onboard Koza (in Turkey) that we would do well to purchase an EPIRB in Australia before getting to Turkey.  There were two reasons for this: firstly in Turkey they were nearly three times the cost of Australia, and secondly, EPIRB’s purchased in Turkey are programmed to alert the Turkish coast guard rather than the Australian Maritime Authority.  Nothing against the Turkish coast guard, but I would much prefer a rescue co-ordinated by Australian authorities.  Our quick detour, took a quick turn for the worse when we ran into road works.  Yes, where would Adelaide be without road works.  We finally arrived at the shop and raced in, however not before realising that our backpacks containing wallets, mobile phones and all ID were sent to the airport in our friend’s car.  We had to ask the shop if they would be prepared to let us pay with a credit card via phone order, then while Cheryl used the shop phone to call my father and get his credit card number, I raced through the store to look at the EPRIBs.  My decision was made easy as there were only two EPIRBs in stock – I bought both of them.  One for us and one for Koza.  Back in the car and off to the airport.  At the airport we said a sad farewell to our great friends and family.  My mum, Cheryl’s mum, Brad and Jo, Daniel and Leanne.  Daniel was working, but he made a special effort to come and say farewell anyway.  We are so blessed with such good friends.

Onboard the airplane, we all took a sigh and started to relax as the rush of the last couple of months slowly was left behind us.  First stop, Singapore then onto London.


Sunday 7th February 2010

We got up early today and said a sad goodbye to my cousin Lisa and her new husband, Mark, then flew from Gatwick to Izmir in Turkey.  After arriving in Izmir, we went through immigration and realised we needed cash to pay for our 3 month visas, of which we had none!  There was a small panic as we approached the visa man to then have to tell him we had no money only credit cards.  He frowned, held our passports, then gestured for us stand in the naughty corner for what seemed like ages.  Eventually after everyone else from the plane had cleared through, an official looking lady came to escort me through customs.  She looked at Cheryl and the kids and in a thick Turkish accent said “Stay!”.  She looked at me and said “Come”, then proceeded to take off at a great rate of knots with me in close tow.  Through the customs we went, past the baggage claim and around the security.  We stopped at the doors to the airport in front of an ATM where she said “Here” and stood close by as I tried to withdraw money.  Now the problem I had was I didn’t know if this machine dispensed Lira or Euros.  Once I put in my card, I realised that it dispensed Lira, but the immigration man had quoted Euro for the visas.  I turned to my escort and asked her is she could help me calculate how many Lira there were in a Euro, but this was met with a grunt and a firm “No”.  At this point, I had no idea if there were ten Lira in a Euro or a thousand.  I knew I needed 80 Euro for our four visas, so figuring this was somewhere around the middle of a standard withdrawal, I took a stab and of the withdrawal options of 20, 60, 120, 240, 500 and 600 Lira I figured the 240 option should put me close.  We proceeded back to immigration and I was relieved to find out that my family and our passports were still there and that the euros were happily accepted.  Leaving immigration, we proceeded to collect our bags, and look for an airport trolley.  Most places we went to the trolleys were free, however here we had to pay for each trolley.  Now if you know me, you will know I hate paying money for things that I think should be free – and airport trolley hire is one such case!  Most places we went to, with all our bags, we used two pretty heavily filled trolleys – but not here.  No way.  If I had to pay for a trolley, I was only getting one trolley and all my luggage was going on one trolley.  If you have ever seen the foyer scene in that movie where the bell hop is loading all the bags onto one trolley, while mumbling to himself about all the luggage he has ever moved and it has always fitted on one trolley, that was us.  Four oversize duffel bags, four backpacks, two camera bags, two fishing rods a guitar and my portable NAS all went onto one luggage trolley.  We got to customs and as we were late, noticed that the “Something to Declare” queue was closed.  We stood out the front of the “Something to Declare” for a few minutes expecting someone to come over to open it up for us.  We had been told quite sternly by the Turkish Consulate that we had to declare the medicines and drugs that we were bringing into the country, as some are restricted and we could face quite high fines if we brought them in without declaration.  Eventually we were beckoned to the “Nothing to Declare” by a lady working at this checkpoint.  She looked at us and said “Nothing to Declare” to which I replied “no, I have something to declare”.  She replied with a stronger “Nothing to Declare!” At this point I was feeling a little unsure, so I replied “I have some medicines I have brought with me, I need to declare”.  She looked upset with me and asked “For you?”  I said “Yes” then looking like it was all too hard, simply said “Go through!” and that was that.  Off we went with our overloaded trolley, to find our driver standing out the front with a sign and our name on it.  We waved and said hello, however it was clear he didn’t speak English, but felt that it was his duty to push our overloaded trolley for us.  I tried to tell him no, and express that I was happier pushing it myself, but he would have none of that.  He took over and pushed our trolley out the door, then the inevitable happened.  As he was going down the short ramp to cross the road, our trolley tipped forward and spilled four bags, two backpacks, two fishing rods a guitar and a NAS over the roadway and there we were – standing in the middle of the road trying to reload all our belongings back onto the little trolley, with the assistance of a guy who couldn’t speak English.  Welcome to Turkey!

Monday 8th February 2010

Checked out of our two motel rooms today and took the plunge to move aboard our yacht.  We might not be totally prepared yet, but we aren’t any worse off than we would be in the hotel room.  Cheryl went shopping for supplies then came out with Adelina while Nick and I caught a taxi with all the bags, guitars, computers and other goods.  Just after the taxi dropped us off, the heavens opened and we got rained upon.  Nick and I spent the next 20minutes in the rain, running all our things from the marina to the yacht.  At the end, we were thoroughly soaked, but excited to move aboard our yacht.

It's sad that my first entry is an upsetting entry, but today I heard that a good friend of mine at GPA passed away on the 4th February. He was only my age and died of cancer. Not that long ago he was in remission and things were looking good after his chemo. Then is came back suddenly and he had to undergo more chemo. I remember chatting with him about six months ago and we were talking about our dream to go sailing. We were discussing the fact that life can be so short and as you never know what's arount the corner we'd decided that given the opportunity we would rather live our dream now, than later – life can be so unpredictable. It is sobering to have someone close die so suddenly. I'll miss him, as will everyone at GPA, but what I take away is that I've made the right decision to spend time with my family and make some memories that will last a lifetime. Farewell Andrew Ursini, my friend, it's been a pleasure and a privilege working with you.

Tuesday 9th February 2010

Went into Marmaris today to get some food and things for the yacht.  The fridge wasn’t working, so I spent the latter half of the day trying to get it working.  I was chasing the 220VAC wiring for the fridge, trying to work out where it went to.  The wiring to the fridge was an absolute dogs breakfast – I don’t know who did the wiring, but it was so sub-standard that I was mentally adding it to my list of “one day” jobs when a wire I was tracing pulled out from the back of the compressor unit and that “one day” re-wiring job turned into a “need to do it now” job. 

Cheryl spent most of the day setting up the bedrooms and making the boat a home.

Wednesday 10th February 2010

Went into Marmaris today to get some junction boxes, electrical wire, screw drivers and BP’s.  After spending an hour or so walking the streets, we happened upon an electrical store that sold me the nearest they had to junction boxes and BP’s and I went back to the yacht to rewire the fridge.


Thursday 11th February 2010

Got the fridge working, only to find that the stove doesn’t work.  It looks like the knobs are seized from lack of use.  I pulled the valves to bits today, with some help from Jim on Koza.  We cleaned all the parts and put it back together again and the valves now turn easily.  I tried lighting the stove, but discovered we’re out of gas.  I found the gas locker and was pleased to see we have a spare gas bottle, only problem is, that was empty also.  I checked with the store here in the marina, figuring it would be convenient; turns out they can fill the 3kg bottle but at 22 lira I decided we could live without for one more night.


Friday 12th February 2010

Today I smuggled the gas cylinder onboard a bus into Marmaris.  Technically you’re not allowed to take gas bottles on the bus, but since it was small and I had no other way of getting it into town, I figured if I hid it in one of Cheryl’s Woolworths bags, then nobody would notice.  I got into town and had it filled for the much more acceptable fee of 11 lira.  While in town, Jim and Carola from Koza showed me around the “working” part of town, where prices are about 25% of marina prices and the guys can manufacture just about anything you could want.  What they lack in fancy workshop, they more than make up for in skills.  The only thing to remember is to haggle.

I went into the post office to check on the progress of our three packing boxes we sent over via Australia Post sea mail back in November.  Sadly, there were no packing boxes and no record of anything for us arriving.  We’ve been hearing all sorts of horror stories about packages just not turning up, or being intercepted by Turkish customs who seem bent on charging exorbitant fees for anything coming into their country.  Technically, since everything in our boxes belongs to us already and is second hand and to be used only by us, there shouldn’t be any taxes or fees, but one never knows.  If it’s not here in another month, then I’ll start getting worried.


Sunday 14th February 2010

Went out on a trip today with about four other yachties.  Between us we hired a mini-bus and a driver and we all went out to watch a traditional Turkish event – Camel Wrestling!  Now I have to tell you, this is as big an event as grand final day in Australia.  There were over 150 camels competing and all of them were elaborately dressed.  At the gate where you went in, you had the opportunity to buy a small bag of scented salts.  At first inspection this seemed like an unusual thing to be purchasing, however once we were inside and we smelt the odour-de-camel, we realised that perhaps a bag of scented salts might well have been a very good purchase.  It’s hard to actually describe what camel wrestling consists of, but if you could imagine a scene a little like an amphitheatre, with all the spectators standing and sitting around the outside on various levels, drinking, smoking, eating and listening to a troupe of musicians who wandered around then you have fair idea.  Two camels are led into the centre of the arena and are introduced to each other by their handlers, who then un-tether them and try to push their camel into the other, until they start wrestling.  The scene reminded me a bit of a school yard bully who would stand behind you and push you into someone else, hoping the person you crashed into would then retaliate and start a fight with you.

Now if you’ve never seen a camel wrestle, I have to confess that it’s a very unusual sight.  Basically they try hook a foreleg with their head, then push the camel over.  Once a camel is pushed over, the one on top (the victor) is quick to lie across his opponent’s head, thereby pinning him to the ground until both camels are harnessed and pulled off each other by approximately 20 men.  The winner is announced, and both are led from the arena, to be replaced by two new worthy adversaries.

While I can’t say that I will ever be a fan of Camel Wrestling, it was definitely something that was good to experience.

Now besides the camel wrestling, there were two things that stuck in my mind from this day.  Number one is the three wandering musicians, who were playing a drum and two funny wooden trumpet type instruments, that sort of resembled clarinets.  Cheryl my beloved wife, as she admitted later, was the instigator and beckoned them over to play for me.  They started nice enough - although it seemed like each of them was playing his own tune.  All was fine until one of the wind instrument musicians (and I use the term “musician” loosely) wandered over and started playing in my ear.

He got closer and louder and then even closer and even louder.  Not wanting to appear rude, I turned my hear away a little, so as to preserve some hearing in my ear. Next I realise, he’s moved around me and is playing even louder in my other ear!  Try as I might, this guy just wasn’t going to leave me until his song was done.  I had my hands over my ears, my jacked pulled up over my head and my head down on the table, but still he played.  I could almost feel the drool of his instrument in my hair he was that close. 

In my mind I was thinking that he’s probably playing, hoping I’ll pay him to go.  Now Aussies don’t respond well to this bullying, and I wasn’t going to pay, so I suffered to the end.  I later found out that it’s custom that after drinking a few rounds of a local drink called RAKI, the sensation of the alcohol is heightened by some guy blowing a trumpet in your ears.  Each to their own, but personally I can think of better things to do than have some guy blow the wax out of my ears with his trumpet, while I enjoy a drink.

The number two thing that will likely stay with me occurred while we were walking back to the car.  We heard a bit of a commotion and saw two guys almost dragging / carrying a third guy between them.  He was looking very pale and he was covered in blood which seemed to be coming from under his jumper and down his right arm.  They had put a tourniquet on his arm, but he was not looking good.  As they were trying to walk him to a car, he was getting weaker with every step until they had to stop and sit him on a car bonnet.  One guy stayed with him, while the other ran to bring a car.  The man was barely conscious and his friend kept slapping his face and trying to talk to him to keep him awake.  I’m not sure what happened, but it looked like he was either kicked by a camel or had one fall on him.  Either way he wasn’t in a good way.  Being an ex-ambo I wanted to get involved but as I couldn’t speak Turkish, I didn’t have any first aid equipment in my backpack and having been contaminated with bloods once in my life already, I wasn’t too keen to get involved without some gloves and a face shield.  So I stood for a minute in indecision, wanting to help, wishing I had brought at least basic first aid equipment, but also wondering if I would even have been permitted to help him.  To my relief about a minute or two later a ute arrived, onto which they bundled him, then took off to the main road – heading to the nearest hospital I presume.


Monday 15th February 2010

Cheryl went into town today and bought up big on some galley stuff and various writing materials for the kids home schooling.  I started the morning with a couple of hours of home schooling for Chelsea and Nick in the marina library.  We did some maths and for a first lesson, I didn’t think I did to badly.  After that I tried to organize how we’re going to get some equipment we want to purchase from the USA into Turkey without paying ridiculous taxes on arrival.

The highlight of today was that we got moved from “Hotel Pontoon” to “Oscar Pontoon”.  Since we got here, the yacht has been moored in probably the worst berth in the windiest pontoon in the marina.  I asked if we could be moved a couple of days ago, and cited that I was worried about my two young children falling off the yacht ladder in the rough seas and winds.  I never heard anything back again, so as I went to the office today to see about extending our stay one more month, I asked again.  The lady on the desk made a call on the radio and then said “Yes we know about this – you want to be moved, the men are at your yacht ready to move you now if you want to go there immediately”.  This was a little fast for my liking, so I raced back to the pontoon and sure enough two men in a dingy were circling the front of my yacht starting to release the lines.  I quickly jumped onboard and told them to stop.  I asked them where the new berth was, so they took me in their dingy to visit the new spot.  I kind of figured that I couldn’t get a worse berth than the one I was currently in, but I wanted to check all the same.  When I got back to the yacht, I sent the guys away for 10 minutes, sighting that I needed to disconnect my power and get ready for the move.  Truth was I needed to try to find the keys for the engines, as to this point we had never started them.  I sent Nick racing down the pontoon to Koza, to ask if Jim would be willing to come onboard and help us with the move.  2 minutes later both Jim and Carola turned up and helped us move.  Five minutes later and I’ve started the engines for the first time, and am carefully maneuvering Connect4 out of our berth and around the back of the marina to more sheltered waters.  I have to say, while there was one or two tense moments, the move went quite well and I managed to turn our yacht around and reverse park her into her new berth without losing any paint.  My first drive in Connect4 – how cool was that.

Saturday 20th February 2010

We got the new names made for our yacht and after scraping off and cleaning the old names, we set about putting up our new identity “Connect4”. So this is officially the end of our radio calls where we've had to identify ourselves as “Connect 4 currently named Hot Lips” Yay !!! Now we're offically “Connect4”

Sunday 28th February 2010

You know, just when you think you're getting the hang of living in another country and you start getting cocky, you get thrown a curve ball. Now we'd like to think that we've done pretty well and learned the basics of the language, and we've learned to watch out for scooters riding down the footpath, and we've learned that the first price offered is never the final price, however today we were reminded that surprises to our day do still occur. Yesterday Cheryl went out shopping for some more

groceries and came back pretty proud of herself. She'd patiently walked up and down the aisles with her Turkish-English book in hand and carefully read and interpreted each ingredient to make sure it was the right one. She came home very happy because today she had found ingredients to make a nice spaghetti bolognese for dinner. Something we'd all been looking forward to for a while. So tonight, my darling dutifully set about making spaghetti for dinner. All was progressing well and the sweet aroma was beginning to fill our tiny house, making us all feel hungry. Tonight was going to be a night to remember. About this time, a squeal was heard from the galley (kitchen) – much to our horror that can of chopped tomatoes that so carefully had been interpreted turned out to be no other than tomato paste !!! Tonight our spaghetti was to be lacking our cherished canned tomatoes. It appears the Turks love their tomato paste, as we've since discovered that you can even buy it in 2kg cans.