Monday 1st March 2010 – Friday 5th March 2010

This morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day. There wasn't a breath of wind and the marina was so calm that you could see the reflections of the yachts in the water. This was a perfect day for a climb up the mast to check the status of the wind instruments and anchor light. I'd just bought a new bosun's chair for such an occasion, so after breakfast Cheryl was strapped into the harness and the bosun's chair and with a little help from Erik on Mehari, was deftly hauled up the mast to take photos of the top of the mast. I would love to have had the opportunity to climb the mast, but given Cheryl is lighter it made sense for me to haul her up the mast, rather than have her haul me up.

Today we also had the sail maker bring back our sails. Since there was no wind, it was the perfect opportunity to run up the sails and check the track system as well as the reefing. This was the first time I'd raised the sails on our yacht and I was a little unsure what to do, so I made the most of the opportunity and watched closely as the sail maker raised and reefed the sails, all the while trying hard not to look like I hadn't a clue. No doubt after we've been out sailing for a little while we'll look back and laugh at how easy it is, but right now the mast base just looks like a whole nest of ropes (sorry sheets) cleats and blocks. Most sails are fairly boring; being functional they are normally fairly plain and purpose built, however the most exciting sail of course is our kite. It's a large bright light weight sail that we can fly in winds of up to about 10knot. I think when the kite was invented, they agreed that the brighter and bigger the colours the better it would be.

Here's a picture of us running up the kite. Can you imagine how cool this will look as we sail along the coast. Note the nice new sock at the top of the kite. Our old sock, which is used to douse the kite consisted of a long length of canvas with a huge zipper that ran the length of the sail (top to bottom). Sadly the bag was badly worn and the sail maker offered to stitch in a new zip and add some more patches for the sum of around 200 euro. He then showed me a new “sock” system that pulls down over the kite and convinced me that the new system was much more effective and easier to use. I had to agree that trying to get a bag around the kite and then zipper it up, looked much harder than just pulling the sock down over it. The sock system was offered at 700euro, so I quickly declined. Way too expensive! I offered that should he come across a second hand sock system I'd be much more interested. New is too expensive. After a little talking Turkish between his associates, he then offered me the just demonstrated “second hand” sock for the pricely sum of 160euro. So with a new zipper and a couple of patches costing 200euro, it was a no brainer. Now although we're keeping busy readying Connect4 for cruising we're still making a point of seeing some of the sights around Turkey. This week we went on a trip to Capadoccia to see the Fairy Chimneys and some of the historic sights around the area. In particular we were looking forward to seeing the Underground City that housed up to 35,000 people at various times in history, generally during times of attack. We checked the lines on Connect4, made sure she was securely tucked in,said a tentative farewell then hopped onto the overnight bus to Goreme with Jim and Michelle from Wind Machine and a lovely dutch couple who were visiting friends on Apparition. Being all of 6'3” I'm no fan of bus travel, and I must confess that an overnight bus trip impresses me even less, however we made the trip and arrived to an absolutely beautiful morning. We checked into a fantastic little hostel that is set back into the cliff, so our room was mostly cut out of rock and hence underground. We grabbed breakfast, a couple of hours sleep, then went off exploring the fairy chimneys with a walk through the valley of love. The fairy chimneys are amazing structures that stand out of the countryside like huge smurf houses. Everywhere you look there are these strange structures imposing on the landscape; everywhere you look there are doors and windows cut into the sides of the chimneys and nearby cliffs and hillsides that have been houses to people at some stage or other over the last 2000 years or more. The scenery was breathtaking as we walked through the “Valley of Love”, so named because of the phallic shapes of some of the chimneys.

Amazing "Fairy Chimney's" near Goreme, Capadoccia. Formed initially by volcanic activity, then sculpted over time by wind and water, they have formed these awesome & unique columns!! (These ones would have been about 50m high!!). Some look so gorgeous, while others kind of make you wonder if they were cut out just as a joke!

Now here's an interesting sight. We came across this “Pot Tree” out the front of a group of shops. It was certainly something different.

Goreme Open-Air Museum. A large area famous for it's many spectacular rock-cut cave churches. You can explore the churches and see the incredibly preserved paintings and "frescoes" on the walls & ceilings. The oldest churches here date back to around the 4th century. The churches were initially decorated with geometric designs that symbolized the stories etc of their faith. (They were in hiding from persecutors, and practicing their faith in secret, so needed to be cryptic). Around the 8th century, the geometric symbols were "plastered" over with a mixture made from crushed pigeon-egg shells, clay & ground straw. On this new smooth, white surface they painted brilliantly coloured frescoes of biblcal scenes all over the walls and ceilings.

While in Cappadoccia we took a tour and went to see the famous underground city in Derinkuyu. This was an incredible place to visit.

This is an enormous maze of tunnels and rooms that span over 9 different levels underground; more amazing is that they are still discovering more parts of the city. We saw rooms that were set aside for food preparation and cooking, schooling, churches and even a morgue. I found it amazing the way that they engineered the whole city so that they were all provided with fresh air (no vent fans or blowers back then), water via an underground well, just in case attackers poisoned their surface fed water supply, and a labyrinth of narrow passages, complete with moving rock doors that could be rolled across the passages to prevent enemy access into the city, but designed in such a way that the people inside the city could still attack the enemy while they were in the passages.

Probably the highlight of our trip to Cappadocia, I personally think, would have to have been seeing the Selime Monastery. After a couple of days looking at buildings cut into the rocks, you can get a little blasé about the uniqueness of this place, however regardless of the number of rock buildings you see, the Selime Monastery takes your breath away. I think we could easily have spent at least half a day just walking around this huge monastery and exploring the rooms and passages inside. There are many rooms and passages that you can walk through and they provide you with an incredible idea of what it would have been like to live in the Selime Monastery. Once again, the engineering that would have gone into this place, given the tools and the knowledge back then is just mind boggling.

Perhaps one of the things that made this visit so memorable is the adventure Nick and I had while here. Do you ever dream of finding a secret passage that takes you back in time, or perhaps finding a staircase that takes you to some place nobody else has ever been to in a 1000 years? Nick and I were walking around the base of the Monastery, and Nick being Nick was wanting to pop into every little nook and cranny. He climbed over a particular pile of fallen rock and excitedly exclaimed that there was a tunnel behind. I gave him permission to have a little explore, figuring that in 30 seconds he'd be back saying it didn't go anywhere. A few seconds later there was a squeal of excitement as he yelled for me to climb in and come see the cavern and the ladder he'd found. I quickly climbed over the rubble pile and joined Nick at the back of what looked to be a semi submerged cave measuring approximately 5m wide and about 2m high. At the back of the cave was a ladder propped against the wall which lead to a small opening at the top of the cave ceiling. Now Nick was all keen to go explore, but trying to slow him down a little I cautioned him, that as much as it would be fun to go explore the hole at the ceiling of the cave, sadly we wouldn't be able to because we didn't bring a torch and it would likely be really dark and dangerous without a torch. Next second, boy scout Nick has produced a torch and is making his way to the ladder with “Come on Dad – I've got a torch, we can go explore now!” What do you do? Up we went, climbing the ladder, Nick in front, me behind, torch in my mouth as we climbed. We got through the ceiling and were into a small staircase that went up on a sharp angle enough to ensure that any slip wouldn't be arrested until they hit the bottom. While the steps were wide, the tread was small, worn and slippery with dust. I could tell these stairs hadn't been climbed in many years! The only thing of comfort was that at the side of each step there was a little hole the size of a tennis ball, which afforded us a hand hold as we slowly worked our way up the inside of the mountain. After climbing up for probably around 100m we emerged into a small cave which had windows cut into the side and gave us an awesome view of the countryside around us. Sad to say, there was also a section of floor in this cave which had dropped away and would have been a nasty fall had either of us slipped into it. It kind of made me wonder about the integrity of the rest of this floor we were standing on. In another corner of the room there was another set of stairs carved out of the rock, identical to the first set. We started climbing. Up, Up and Up we went for what seemed like forever until we came out onto the front face of the Monastery and into the beautiful fresh daylight. The stairs continued up the front face, possibly to the very top of the rock, however I decided to call a halt at this point as there was nothing to stop us falling (to our deaths) should we slip off the side of the steps. With the steps only being approximately half a meter wide this was a distinct possibility. As we looked around and took in the sights from this point, the view was amazing. With our bird's eye view everyone looked like little ants walking around far below us. Sadly our time was limited and after a short look around we had to start making our way back down again, as the tour bus had to move on. We descended the first set of stairs ok, but about two thirds of the way down the second set of stairs, disaster struck – I dropped the torch! As soon as it slipped from my mouth I knew we were in trouble. As I watched it fall down the century old rock stairs, tumbling end over end it smashed in a flash and a chorus of broken glass then Nick and I were stuck in a tunnel in pitch black! We both stayed perfectly still for a minute as we regrouped our senses and I made sure Nick was ok. We waited a minute to let our eyes try to adjust to what little light there was in the tunnel, then we started down very slowly, feeling each step, each foot hold, each hand grip. Nick stayed inside the protective cocoon made by my arms and legs – I found that if I stretched out a little, I could push my back against the outside of the tunnel as I made my way down, hence making my footing surer and ensuring that if Nick slipped I could catch him without falling myself. Slowly we inched our way downwards in near pitch black, feeling our way, knowing each step successfully negotiated was a step closer to ground. I would take one step down and one hand down, then Nick would take one step down and one hand down. Then we would repeat it all again. As I stepped down again for what seemed like the thousandth time, my foot failed to find a step and as I waved my foot around in space, trying in vain to find the next step, I was quietly praying that in the dark we hadn't taken a wrong turn and gone down a stairway that led into a collapsed section of the ruin. Think clearly, we came up a ladder at the start, perhaps if I reach down a bit more and closer to the face there might be a ladder. The feeling of the ladder under my foot never felt so wonderful. Nick and I slowly climbed down the ladder, onto firm ground, out of the cave and into the bright sunlight once again. How good it felt !!! What an adventure !!

Friday 12th March 2010

Some of the cruisers from the marina organised a life raft demonstration day today. There were two life rafts that were inflated in the swimming pool. This was an excellent opportunity to actually see what it looks like when a life raft is inflated and for those wishing to brave the cold water, an opportunity to get a feel for what it is like to get into the life raft. We'd heard that sometimes you have to ditch your life jacket in order to be able to get into the life raft – a thought that didn't appeal to me in the least.

As we figured we may never have another chance to practice getting into a life raft, pardon the pun, but we “jumped” at the chance to have a trial run and see how we all did. Nick and I tried with a life jacket on, while Cheryl and Chelsea decided to try without a life jacket on. Nick did really well; I told him that he may need to remove his life jacket before getting into the raft, but if he did, to make sure he hung onto it so he could put it back on once inside. I found the life jacket wasn't such a hindrance as the fact that the life raft seemed so high up and I was so low in the water. There was a “boarding ladder” but it was so high I couldn't get my legs up to it. In the end I just pulled myself in by my arms. Chelsea came in next, followed by Nick and then Cheryl. The water was freezing cold, but the chance to trial a life raft was invaluable.

Saturday 13th March 2010

Today we are leaving on our much anticipated journey to Izmir. We're going to IKEA to get some much needed storage solutions, as well as taking an opportunity to visit Ephesus, Corinth and Pamukkale. As we're planning to purchase quite an amount of storage boxes and things for inside the yacht, we hired a car for the trip.

Now over here, everything is backwards, as they sit on the left hand side of the car and drive on the right hand side ... actually perhaps I should rephrase that. They are meant to drive on the right hand side. In reality, anything goes, and it's not unusual to come around a corner and see two cars side by side, both vying to overtake a truck, taking up the whole road as a bus thunders towards them. I speak from experience as I've been on that bus. I must confess I was pretty hesitant about driving here. Cheryl arranged the car hire and I went into town with Eric (Mehari) to collect the car. Whenever anybody in the marina gets a car, it's an all in share, since there's always somebody that needs to collect something big from town that won't fit on the Dolmoş. Now I must clarify things here, because Eric is from the USA, so he's used to sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving down the wrong side of the road. But as for me, I climbed into the car and sat there for a minute trying to get used to the gear stick being on the wrong side and the mirrors being backwards. Eric had a chuckle as pulled out into the traffic and turned on the windscreen wipers rather than the indicators. First stop was the petrol station, where you actually get full driveway service. For some reason (and I think it's a scam) they give you the car empty and you are expected to bring the car back empty. Now the petrol station was a bit of a shock - our car was only a small Fiat, but it took 200TL (AU$150) to fill the tank. As a bit of a guide, we paid 180TL to hire the car for 4 days! Petrol is so expensive here, no wonder everyone drives scooters.

We set off early to get to Izmir, a 4 – 5 hour drive east. After I got used to being on the wrong side of the car, and on the wrong side of the road the drive was pretty easy going. Cheryl navigated well and we arrived in one piece. Once we got to Izmir, we made a bee-line for IKEA so that Cheryl could buy the much excitedly anticipated items. We all walked for what felt like 15 hours, as we searched for the elusive box, tea towel and knife set, all the while Cheryl was coaxing us along with the promise of the world famous IKEA meat balls at the end. We finally got out of the store and sat down for our much awaited meat balls. But Ugh! – they tasted terrible. They were nothing like the meat balls IKEA in Adelaide makes. I must say I was sadly disappointed.

Sunday 14th March 2010

We awoke to the sound of a call to prayers played out repeatedly over loudspeakers all over the town. Unfortunately our motel was very close to a mosque, so we heard it all very clearly and repeatedly. We had a complimentary traditional Turkish breakfast at the motel, which if you've never had one, consists of cold cucumber, sliced tomato, olives, bread and a cup of chai tea. There is no juice of any kind served and if you don't fancy tomato, cucumber or olives for breakfast, then you're going to go hungry.

After breakfast, we set off back to the large shopping complex adjacent to IKEA. There we bought some more things for the yacht. Chelsea bought herself an MP3 player and I bought a car stereo for the yacht, so that we could have radio, CD and MP3's on the yacht. Since the stereo also has an AUX input, we can plug in the MP3 player, or the laptop when we are watching movies (for that “drive in” kind of feel).

Once we had spent all our money and filled our tiny Fiat to the brim, we headed off to Selçuk to stay in a quaint little hostel, where we ordered a pretty bad pizza and watched the end half of a pretty poor movie.

Monday 5th March 2010

After another traditional Turkish breakfast of cucumber, tomatoes and olives, we checked out of our hostel and left Selçuk for Ephesus, an ancient city that is mentioned a number of times in the Bible. We walked down the main street, the same street the apostle Paul walked 2000 years ago. To walk among the ruins of the city and to see how the people of Ephesus lived was an incredible privilege. Many of the building walls are still standing and if you pause for a minute and pretend you are living 2000 years ago, it's easy to see and feel what life in Ephesus would have been like.

We visited the city's amphitheater which was built in the Hellenistic period of the 3rd century BC and held a capacity crowd of 24,000 spectators. The theater is over 158 meters in diameter and when one of us stood in the centre of the theater stage and spoke, you could clearly hear them right up on the back step of the theater. When I think back to 2000 years ago, for some reason I assume that the people were pretty simple, however to see the engineering design and the architecture that went into building a structure like this, that is so acoustically correct is mind boggling. From the amphitheater you could look down “Harbour Street”. Harbour Street or Arcadiana as it was called back then was a street approximately 500 meters long that ran between the amphitheater and the harbour. It was built in the 1st century BC and was lined with shops on either side.

One of the most amazing structures we saw in Ephesus was the Library of Celsus. This library was a huge three story building that was built between 117 and 120AD for Julius Celsus Polemaenus by his son as a monumental tomb. It was revealed by excavations in 1904, and was restored between 1970 and 1978. The interior of the library consisted of a large hall that was filled with books which were available for all the people of Ephesus to read. There were statues in the niches of the facade which symbolised the virtues of Celsus: widsom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), destiny (Ennoia) and virtue (Arete).

As we walked along Marble Street, which ran between the Celsus Library and the Grand Theater. The whole street was paved with blocks of marble in the 5th century and given it's age has weathered exceptionally well. There were many houses and shops along this road, carved into the marble is the outline of a woman, a left foot and a heart – now-a-days we would mark her house with a red light.

No city is complete without a communal toilet, or The Latrina as it is called. The Latrina was built in the 1st century AD and consisted of a four sided building with rows of toilet seats along each wall. The toilets were common, in that both men and women shared them simultaneously and since there weren't any partitions between the toilets, there wasn't a lot of modesty. Water flowed under the toilets to take any effluent away and in the middle of the building was an ornate square pool. The floor was paved with beautiful ornate mosaics and we were told that often there would be some musicians playing relaxing music by the square pool so that people making use of this facility could enjoy music while they sat and pondered! These guys had it all! While many cities were struggling just to get enough food to survive, this city had time to build amphitheaters, libraries and bath houses.

All in all, the trip to Ephesus was pretty amazing. Just to walk the streets of a city that is over 2000 years old; to see the inscriptions to Caesar Augustus on the library façade; to read the Greek engravings on the walls of the temples and remember that we still use their alphabet in mathematics and physics, things they invented and to get a feel for what life must have been like for them is amazing. I hate to admit it, and I know I'll get laughed at, but before we came to Turkey I really had no idea where Ephesus or Corinth were – I thought they must have been places in Israel. I certainly never would have thought they were in Turkey! What a lesson I've learned.

After spending most of the day exploring and looking around Ephesus we reluctantly left our “trip back in time” and climbed back into our little car, loaded all the goods around the children again, then set off for Pamukkale, a magical town that literally means “Cotton Castle”.

Tuesday 16th March 2010

After another Turkish breakfast, we quickly packed up and left our quaint B&B to explore the snow white mountain that Pamukkale is renowned for. Although it's possible to drive to the top of the mountain, we opted to park our car at the bottom and walk up, as this gave us an opportunity to explore the many snow white pools that cascade down the mountain. The reason the mountain looks like a snow field is because springs deep underground bring warm water rich in calcium to the surface. Once the calcium reacts with the air it turns into calcium carbonate which is a white, insoluble substance. This is deposited over the surface where the water runs, and over the centuries has turned the whole mountain a fairy tale white.

As we walked up the mountain, we had trouble comprehending that we weren't actually walking in a snow field. Everything looked so surreal as we waded through the various pools of water and stirred up the calcium carbonate, leaving clouds of white dust in the rock pools that seemed to magically spring up with every step.

At the top of the mountain, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Pamukkale pools, as well as an amazing panorama of the nearby countryside. At the top of the mountain, the spring water is approximately 38 Degrees C and is perfect for bathing worn out feet. In order to protect the white of the mountain, once you start climbing, you have to remove your shoes and walk bare-footed up the mountain. The calcium carbonate is pretty sharp and hard underfoot, so by the time you've walked to the top, well, lets just say, it's like spending an hour scouring your feet with pumice stones.

At the top, we explored the ruins of Hieropolis, an ancient city that was probably the first place in the world to have running hot water on demand! It looked to be a beautiful city that was modern in so many ways. There are still some archaeological excavations happening in the city and I was amazed to see a stack of old clay water pipes that dated back some 2000+ years. Looking at the pipes, they didn't look a whole lot different to our current sewerage and water pipes back home in Australia. To think this city had the technology to make underground water pipes that have lasted 2000 years is pretty incredible. Imagine that, hot water right to your house – that's something we don't even have on Connect4!

We left Pamukkale and started our drive back to Marmaris, but not before doing a quick stop in on the old Biblical city of Laodicea. There wasn't much left of the city, and as we were running short on time, we elected not to pay to go into it; rather we just stopped at the top of the hill, had a little look over it then left to head back to Marmaris and Connect4.

The drive back was uneventful, with the exception that Cheryl noted I was driving more and more like a Turk. Where at the beginning of the journey I was pulling off the road to let all the traffic past me, now other drivers were pulling off the road to let me past. I'm not sure if that was a compliment to my ability to integrate into Turkish mannerisms and culture or a cheap dig at my driving – either way I was a lot more relaxed driving back than I was driving out.

We arrived back at Connect4 just in time for bed, weary but satisfied with our most recent of adventures.

Wednesday 17th March 2010

When we picked up the car, we were given the car empty of fuel and were meant to bring it back empty of fuel. This I feel is a bit of a scam, as not knowing the car I have no idea how many more miles I will get once it says it's empty, and at the price we paid for fuel, there is no way I was going to bring the car back with anything more in the fuel tank that what is absolutely necessary. Call me tight, but my final fuel up was carefully calculated so that when I got back to Marmaris I would have only just enough fuel to take the car back to the depot and nothing more … then Cheryl asked if it would be possible to do a quick run into town (a mere 8km each way) to collect a couple of boxes of heavy food from a bulk food outlet. With a slight degree of concern we set off and coaxed our little Fiat towards town using minimal revs and gentle driving techniques. We duly loaded up with all the food we could fit into the car, then took it back to the marina. We unloaded the food, then I set off again to town to return the hire car. Now by this time the fuel gauge had dropped below the empty mark and I was worried that at any moment the fuel gauge was going to drop off the instrument panel and fall at my feet, so dire was our fuel situation. I again set off for town, but this time with a with a very large concern that I may soon be pushing my little Fiat. I must say that once I was close enough to the car rental place to be fairly confident that I could almost coast the rest of the way, I began to feel guilty that I was actually returning the car empty. I know they said to return it empty, but I sort of had a feeling that they really meant low on fuel, not empty empty. Well I arrived out the front of the car rental, glad that I made it back without having to push the little Fiat the last block or two. I handed over the keys and said my thank you and goodbye's and headed for the door. I was just about to exit the building when the man behind the counter stopped me and asked if I would like a ride back into town. I almost accepted, but then realised that the car he would likely take me to town in would be our “running on vapours – exceptionally close to empty” Fiat. I thanked him for his offer and declined politely saying that I would prefer to walk, as I wanted to look in on a few shops along the way; then hurried out the door. I was no more than a couple of blocks away, walking back to town, when a smiling Turkish man driving my little Fiat pulled up and in very sparse English offered me a ride into town. I tried again to decline, but he was persistent, so with trepidation, I reluctantly accepted his offer and hesitantly climbed into the car. This man was obviously the assistant to the car rental company, whose job it was to take the cars out and wash them, ready for the next customer. I sat there in awkward silence just waiting for the little Fiat to commence the ritualistic splutter and shudder that precedes the final engine out. Every time he took his foot off the accelerator it felt like we were out of fuel. I sat there willing our little Fiat to just make it to the main street of town, so I could get out and run off before it ran out of fuel. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the shops; I thanked the driver then hopped out quickly before it exhausted the last few millilitres of fuel and gave up totally. The driver smiled and waved as he set off around the corner – I walked the other direction, then turned back for one last look just before I disappeared around the corner; just to make sure he hadn't run out of fuel clearing the intersection.

Friday 19th March 2010

When we bought our yacht, she was very sparsely equipped with electronics, and of what little electronics were onboard, the owner removed for his new boat around the time of sale. When we moved onboard the only piece of equipment that was of benefit to us was an old VHF radio that I think was original equipment when the yacht was first built – and even that looked like it was a hand me down! I think I saw “SY Noah's Ark” etched on the back of the radio when I removed it. One of the big jobs I've had in the back of my mind is that I've got to replace (I use the term replace loosely) the electronics before we set sail. I priced most of my goods before we left home from a large mail order supplier in the USA called “Defender”. My plan had been that if the goods were too expensive to purchase in Turkey, then I would order them from the States and get them sent over. We are termed a “Yacht in Transit”. This means that as we don't reside in this country, we don't pay taxes in this country, so are able to import goods for the yacht without paying the import and local taxes. Turkey is such a country that acknowledges the “Yacht in Transit” status, however in reality many people end up paying so many “other” fees that really they have been taxed anyway. To give you an idea, some Australian friends of ours in this marina recently imported a propeller from the UK. The propeller cost them around $3000.00 to buy, but by the time they got it through customs and it arrived on the yacht, the cost was nearer to $5500.00 – nearly double the cost! The cost of my electronics for the yacht was about $9000.00 from the USA, but was nearer to EUR14,000.00 ($20,000) to purchase locally in Turkey. I hate paying fees for things I shouldn't have to and I hate paying more than I have to, so after about 5 weeks of asking, calling and trying to find people who have imported without taxes I was finally put onto a local guy who used to work for Customs and now works part time as a customs clearing agent. He was the first person who actually sounded confident that he could import my goods for me as “Yacht in Transit”. His charge was a very modest USD250 plus an additional USD500 which would cover the cost of a Customs approved UPS truck from Istanbul Customs to Marmaris Customs, small handling charges and a few payments to particular people (read bribes). He said that once the packages were in Marmaris customs, he would clear them and they would be available for pickup. Comparing the cost of purchasing locally, against the USD750 I decided to risk it. I Skype called Defender who had been waiting for me to progress my order and they advised that the goods would be likely in my possession within 4 – 7 days. Wow that is so quick. Got to hand it to UPS – one thing they do well is move goods quickly!

Tuesday 22nd March 2010

Out one piece of electronic equipment (the VHF radio) continued it's slow death today with the handset speaker failing to work. The radio has a telephone style handset that you unclip from the magnetic base when you want to talk. When the handset is left in the cradle, all received transmissions are put through the loudspeaker, but when you pick up the handset, the loudspeaker is muted and you only hear through the speaker part of the hand set. Today the handset speaker decided that it had had enough and stopped working. Now when we want to talk, we have to pick up the handset, say what we need to, then quickly hang up the handset again in the cradle so that we can hear the other side of the conversation through the loudspeaker. This makes for a very frustrating conversation. I can't wait for my boxes of new electronics to get here.

Thursday 24nd March 2010

Whoo Hoo it's Christmas in Marmaris. When we bought the yacht, we quickly realised that there was no way that all the things we wanted on our yacht from home would ever fit in 4 x 20kg bags for the flight over, so last November we packaged up three large boxes of things from home and sent them ahead of us to Turkey via sea mail. We considered sending them air mail, but Australia Post Sea Mail was by far the cheapest option at around $550.00 for the three boxes. Still hugely expensive, but cheaper than any of the other options.

When we arrived in Turkey we were told by many people that we were very foolish to send them, because customs would open them and they would likely stay lost for months and months in Istanbul customs. If we ever got them, then we would be taxed severely and would have to pay import tax in addition to warehouse tax, transit tax, customs charges and the list went on and on. We were advised that as we had insured the goods, the declared insurance value (replacement value) would be used as the basis for their tax calculations. For weeks we watched the slow movement of our boxes via the tracking number on the web and when we saw they had indeed arrived at PTT (Turkish Post) Cheryl rang to ask if we could collect them. We were told that we could collect them Thursday because that is the day the customs officer is at the post office, handling the imported goods.

So, today we went along to PTT to see the customs officer, not sure if we would get our boxes, or how much we would have to pay. When we arrived they took my passport, then brought out paperwork for me to sign (all in Turkish). Not having seen any boxes yet, I wasn't sure what I was signing, but what can you do? I signed the paperwork, they noted all the details of my passport and visa. The man walked off from the counter, then two minutes later returned with all three of my boxes. Total fee to be paid 6.15TL (approximately $5.00). We gladly paid the money then as quickly as we could, took the boxes before someone realised we perhaps should have paid more.

Tonight, we sat around in the saloon, excitedly opening each box and removing the contents. We had Leggo, Polly Pockets, books, Tupperware, my beloved cruising bible “World Cruising Routes” by Jimmy Cornell and there was even a 500g tub of Vegemite. Now that was something to get excited about!

Wednesday 30th March 2010

Today I received a call to inform me that my imported electronics order was at Marmaris Customs. I was carefully informed that I had to present myself at the Customs house at 3:30pm Thursday, to bring my transit log, ships papers and passport and if I wasn't there by 5:00pm then Customs would charge me an additional warehousing fee. I checked all my papers carefully and prepared everything for tomorrow.

Thursday 31th March 2010

I must confess, I didn't sleep much last night. I think I was laying awake excited to finally be getting my electronics order, but wondering just how much out of pocket I would be for the experience of bringing them into Turkey. Chelsea and I caught the Dolmoş (small bus) to the customs house and arrived at precisely 3:25pm. The Turkish people (especially the officials seem to love children, so I figured it might help my case) I called my agent from the carpark, who told me to turn around and look towards the water. I did so and was informed by him that the pallet of boxes sitting by itself on the side of the driveway was my five boxes from Defender, but not to touch them as they had to remain sealed until inspected by customs. He asked me to wait while he cleared some paperwork, then he

came out and collected my ships papers. I was given a couple of official looking papers, which were then turned over and I was instructed to write “I Accept” then to sign the back – who knew what I was accepting or signing, but again, what can you do? He then asked me to wait and wandered off. About 20 minutes later my agent came back and explained that an officer would come out soon to open each of the boxes and inspect them, to ensure they were what I declared was in the boxes, then another officer(s) would accompany me to the yacht to ensure that the goods were indeed loaded aboard my yacht and that I would be responsible for their taxi fares there and

back. My agent left me again, then came back 10minutes later, looking stern, he said “Come with me”. I left Chelsea guarding the boxes and meekly followed my agent into the customs house. There I was presented to an official looking officer who had all my papers. He asked where I was from and where my boat was from, I answered politely, all the while thinking “here goes my bank balance”. He looked me over for a minute as I stood there trying to look my most honest and politest; then he looked down, picked up a pen and scribbled a few sentences on my transit log. He made a few more stamps (they really love their stamps here I've noticed) then scooped up all my papers and handed them back to me in a mixed up pile. I said a polite “Tesha-coula” (thank you) then backed out of the room with my agent. He never said a word as he escorted me from the building, but when we got back to the boxes and Chelsea, he laid out my papers onto of the boxes; pointing to my transit log he said “this writing and signatures here means 6 officers have inspected your boxes and agree that they are equipment for yacht is as you have declared. This here means the officer has visited your boat and has confirmed that he has sighted your equipment onboard. Here are your papers, please take your pallet and do not leave any rubbish here”. I looked at my agent as it sunk in what he had just said. I smirked a little as I said “Turkish Officials are very efficient – thank you”. He grinned a knowing smile and then waved over a “Taksi” for us.

As our Taksi drove us back into the Marina with our five boxes, I was grinning from ear to ear. Most of our friends in the Marina knew the gauntlet I was running trying to import goods without paying taxes. As we drove through the marina yard I was grinning and giving the “thumbs up” to my friends as my five boxes and I were delivered to our yacht. Christmas has come twice to Connect4 this month.