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Living in Rhodes Part III

Another busy time, but now calming down a bit.  Christmas was fairly low key – a family time for Greeks so not much in the way of events.  The actual day was lovely, so I enjoyed a walk on the beaches that we had visited with Mara.  The rock formations were really weird.

Limpid pool

Rhodes was decorated with pretty lights on the streets and a small Christmas fair was set up in the square near Mandraki harbour.  I visited, but all the stalls were just serving fast food – burgers and sausages mainly!

Greek systems continue to both thwart and amaze us.  Just before Christmas an order from Amazon arrived, message sent to my phone from the Greek post office (ELTA) with the address of the post office for collection.  After carefully checking the address and code of the post office I was intrigued to find that it was in a small town on the west coast called Kremasti.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I set off in the car on a lovely day to find this office.  On arrival having admired the scenery on the way and a pretty town, the parcels desk was free – long queue at the other counter!

“Sea Glass”

The helpful lady took my phone and looked up the parcel information – oh no, not this office, the one in the main town!  Ah well, it was a nice day for a drive back along the coast!  Eventually I found the main post office and the parcel, overlooked by a couple of pigeons roosting on the light fixtures in the parcels depot. I treated myself to a large coffee and muffin at Starbucks – handily next door – as a reward.

Wonderful views of the fortifications

The parcel was a couple of “tower” style multi socket extension cables that accommodate multi-national plugs as well as a couple of USB sockets.  They are brilliant and save us changing all our plugs to the continental two pin variety.  On the negative side, another order for something similar but a different style never arrived.  Amazon kindly refunded the price when I had given up waiting.

The moat, never tire of it

On the subject of Amazon, I had been using the Italian version (no Amazon in Greece).  But now I find that Amazon.de has an English version so will use that in future.  Parcels seem to get routed through Germany anyway.

Flower

Having more or less got ourselves furnished my mind wandered to the boxes of “stuff” we had left in my sister’s house in Broadstairs.  I contacted Nomad again for a collect, pack and delivery option.  It was expensive but cheaper than trying to do it ourselves – and less hassle for everyone.  We arranged a date for collection in January to fit in with Jessica’s schedule.  The guys arrived, extracted everything they could find and that Jessica had put out and put 17 boxes on a truck headed for Greece.

Where will we put it all?

Two weeks in transit, and it all arrived on Tuesday 6th February!  It was amazing to unpack things that we hadn’t seen for 9 years – some of which we had forgotten about completely!  Our pride and joy stereo system is great to have back, Brian was really pleased to find the big chopping board he had made, and we are enjoying having pictures to hang on the walls.  Lots more things that we are really pleased to have back and Jessica is probably pleased to have got rid of it all at long last!

Unpacked and ready to play loud music!

Between Christmas and New Year I put a lot of effort into finding a 2nd hand car to buy.  Vehicles are really expensive here, so even an old banger is quite an investment.

How to sell a car in Greece

I found a few cars through the Facebook (ugh) Rhodes buying and selling site and made arrangements to see some.  Also people stick yellow “for sale” signs on cars and I followed up with text messages to a couple of those.  The hunt narrowed down to a Hyundai Accent – 200K kilometres and 12 years old but quite nice.  A bit bigger than we had wanted.  I went to see it in the garage (after more misdirection) where it was being serviced.  The mechanic asked if I spoke French – so we continued the discussion in French! That upset my Greek head a bit.  He had a full maintenance history on the car so it looked good.  I continued the dialogue with the young man selling it.  Then I found out that it had been owned (and therefore taxed) by his mother who had recently died.

French speaking mechanic

This caused a furore with all my kind advisors – Seich cars who we had been renting from and Tsampika the insurance lady!  Eventually it all fell through as he couldn’t sell it until the probate had been sorted out and the car had been transferred to  him (the son)!   Very sad about his mum and he didn’t know about not being able to sell the car.

So I got back onto the internet and finally found another smaller car, Fiat Panda.  Again 200K km, and 12 years old, but a pretty metallic blue colour and black alloy wheels!  I went to meet the guy (Moustafas and his girlfriend/partner Maria) and they gave me the key for a test drive!  It felt and looked fine.  Moustafas needed to sell it in order to buy a van for his decorating business.  With lots of help from Seich, who checked it out, got the price reduced and then fixed suspension, brakes and tyres for me, I bought it.  Savi Seich(?) also made sure Moustafas had all the correct tax papers.  We went to the KEP (Citizens Advice Bureau) to register the exchange, paid at the bank, back to the KEP, got a temporary ownership document and only then did I hand over the dosh! So all that took until nearly the end of January. Now I have the proper green card too.  Tsampika arranged insurance.  It is the car that is insured (with a named owner) so anyone can drive it.  Quite cheap too – compared to the UK.

My sporty new car! 2nd childhood?

I found out later that the young guy had managed to get a van from Seich! What goes around comes around on a small island like this.  I guess I might have twigged, with a name like Moustafas and that Seich is a Turkish family business.

Phew – all that took an inordinate amount of time trailing around and going square eyed on the computer.

Old city gate

After Christmas I decided to check the cinemas as “The Last Jedi” had just been released.  Sure enough, one of them was showing it, so I went along to see it.  I think the reviews were right – a bit patchy, 3 stars out of 5 probably.  Good fun though!  There were only about 30 people in the theatre, which is walking distance from here.  I should keep a look out for other films I might like to see.

The road to the cinema

We did consider subscribing to Netflix but haven’t got round to it yet.  Just finding a couple of hours to sit and watch a film seems too indulgent at present!  What with Greek homework, browsing the internet, emails, doing admin stuff etc – time seems to fly by.  Brian spent several hours trying to fool BBC iPlayer that we were in the UK, but to no effect. Especially as we don’t have a TV license!  But even the commercial stations won’t let us in.

Poinsettia tree

I may have let myself in for a bit of extra work though.  Last weekend there was a meeting by the group that organised the old city tour last year.  It was basically a coffee and chat session, but with a presentation by a guy (Panos) representing a new electricity supplier – Watt & Volt, would you believe!  Anyway a) I decided to offer to help out with the group, and b) got a quote for electricity as our electricity bills are fairly hefty.  They came back with a good offer, which I am about to sign up for.

Hibiscus bush covered in buds

On 6th January (Epiphany I think) it was the annual “throwing the cross into the sea” event.  I had missed it last year, so made an effort to go and look.  It was a lovely warm and sunny day.  But by the time I got to Mandraki harbour  it was packed with people lining the harbour walls, so I only got glimpses of the ceremony.  Essentially though, a church service, then a pile of priests in fancy getup go to a platform on one of the stone jetties and do a lot more chanting.  Then one of them throws a (wooden?) cross into the sea.  Meanwhile a gaggle of lads had disrobed on the bow of the local lifeboat (brr) and at some point had jumped into the sea and gathered off the priests jetty.  One of them presumably caught the cross – bringing good luck for him and associates I guess for the year – and clambered up onto the platform to give back to the priest.  Lots more chanting, then the band started up and they all paraded off back to the church!

Thousands of people lining the harbour

Antonis (landlord) who has a boat in Mandraki and is a member of the yacht club had invited me to the club after the ceremony.  I wandered in that direction and found Antonis, Vaso and Anthi (wife and daughter) and a group of other people.  Free tea and cakes, but also two huge square cakes with Happy New Year in icing on them.  Ah – I remembered later – the cakes had a coin buried in them again for luck for the finder.  The priests then turned up at the club, got regaled in their regalia again and chanted over the cakes.  One priest cut the cakes into small pieces, while the yacht club commodore (?) started his speech.  I counted the number of pages in his hand and gently sidled away!

 

I rounded off the afternoon with a lovely walk through the moat and a coffee and cake at the Swedish café near our house.

Coffee and cake at the Swedish cafe

I have wandered through the alley ways between our house and the old town now, so know my way around a bit more.  It is fascinating and much closer to the old town than it seems!  We have heard nothing from the owner of the house we were looking at before Christmas, so I started making a note of others I came across and have been making a rather desultory effort to look into them.  There are a couple of neo-classical mansions opposite each other that look interesting, but one is a wreck although it is listed as it has classical painted wooden ceilings. It also has a single storey addition with a small garden that belongs to the church behind! Hmm.  The other isn’t for sale but looks deserted….. The estate agent is looking into it – some time.

Neo Classical wreck for sale

In conversation with Areti, my Greek teacher, I was educated about why so many people here are so stuck for money.  Apparently, until the fiscal crisis here, anyone who worked built up a state pension.  However they could retire at any age and take a large part of their pension in a lump sum, but also still be paid a pension for as long as they lived, in some cases equating to their final salary! Ah. So they would buy a property with a bank loan, assuming that they could pay off the loan with their lump sum when they retired.  Now, of course, the rules have changed, and the lump sum has been cut by 80% and monthly pensions similarly! Oops.  Needless to say this conversation was in English, prompted by my Greek exercise in which I said that someone who had retired was still quite wealthy.  She didn’t understand – what do you mean? Here people who retire are (or were) more wealthy that when they were working she said!!

The house over the street

We are slowly fixing things around the apartment.  We filled a few of the bigger holes in the walls and found some leftover paint to match a few of the more obvious fillings.  Brian is now sanding door jambs, surrounds and doors where the enamel type paint has fallen off or is cracked.  He is filling the gaps, then priming and painting with gloss that we have mixed to approximate the original cream colour.

Flowers

I managed to get hold of some large spherical Chinese paper lampshades from my unfavourite shop, Jumbo, as we had bare bulbs in most of the apartment.  Some of the light fixtures were just wires sticking out of the ceiling, so I got the ladder out and connected a couple of bulb fixings.  Brian stood at the circuit breaker board, turning everything off, while I plugged the wires into the “chocolate block” fittings (yes, very Greek).  One of them took four goes to get the right connection, without it tripping the whole apartment! Neither of us have yet worked out why it made a difference which way the live and neutral should go!!!  But now we have light (LED bulbs) everywhere, and it is a lot better.

Two of the animals next door. No, they don’t quite fit!

My study is becoming more business-like, now with a book case and a proper office chair. The balcony outside this room also serves as the clothes drying area, with washing line draped around the railings.  However I note that it is frequently the least windy area of all the buildings around!  Other people’s washing is flapping nicely in the breeze, while mine just hangs limply, taking a long time to dry if it is cold and humid.

From the beginning of February the weather has perked up.  It rained quite a lot in January, but now the bushes and trees are starting to flower.  The yellow trefoil like weeds are in full bloom as are the dog daisies in the Hellenic fortifications at the end of our street, and a very pretty orange flowered shrub in the hedge around the municipal gardening depot.

Flowers in the hedge

I have started going to the Wednesday and Saturday market for fruit and veg more regularly, dodging along the pavements around the trees. The pavements are fairly narrow in the first place, but then they plant pine and other trees in the pavement that get so big that it makes it very difficult to navigate sometimes!  Most people just walk in the road.  I noticed this first in Leros, but it is endemic to all these islands!

Moonrise

Early in January I made use of the health insurance we took out to fix a minor infection that was lingering.  I had to visit a doctor on the insurance company’s list, about a mile or so away.  In contrast to the UK, there are doctors’ and dentists’ on almost every street corner – often in clumps of medical practises of every description.  Of course, the ones near us aren’t on Tsampika’s list!  I was sent for a few tests at the fancy medical centre.  It is almost empty and very posh!  Again, due to austerity, Greeks now have to rely on the free public health service when in the past they took out private insurance.  It is strange walking around an almost deserted hospital!

The moat, never tire of it

I did find another accountant – recommended by Rosemary, wife of the A1 shipyard owner.  I showed them our tax registrations which were noted to be incorrect – we should be shown as UK tax registered and also as married!  I had applied for a copy marriage certificate from the Gov.uk site which arrived and is being translated.  Now I am waiting for certification of UK tax residence from the same, and Mr Kasekas Jnr (Fotios) or his mate Tsanoikos will sort it all out for us!  Fotios studied finance at Salford University (where I worked for a couple of years)!

St Dimitri of the Myrrh – church near to our apartment

I am also having to get certified proof of identity sent to some financial organisations so we can get access to funds that have been sitting there for 20 years, in order to replace the significant sums we had to spend getting Butte Farm back into shape.  Something to do with money laundering! This is a real pain, but the accountant seems happy to put his moniker on our documentation so I can send it off.  Of course, this all takes time and now the markets have tanked – hey ho.

That is about it for the moment.  Nothing much more to report, and no significant plans for the next month or so.  I had better get this finished and get back to my Greek homework.  I have just started book 2! Wow!

Arabic fountains hide in strange places

 

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Making a home in Rhodes II

A busy month since the last communication in November.

Blue skies and beaches – life on Rhodes

My first panic was caused by booking my first Greek lesson of the winter.  Only a week to go and I needed to get back to where I had left off last April.  I started from the beginning of the text book again and was horrified at the amount I had completely forgotten and spent a good part of every day for a week trying to catch up.  Areti, my teacher, was very sympathetic and reassured me that I was not the only one to have this problem!

 

Small mosque – Rhodes town

I am still trying to work on the future tense which sort of stands in for the infinitive in English, so is quite important.  However it would be good to move on to the past tense – it is a bit limiting to only be able to converse in the present and future!

That said, I did manage to have a (very) stilted conversation with the lady in the shop who finally managed to obtain a couple of bent wood armchairs for our sitting room.  She had managed to get them from Athens after about 2 weeks of trying.  She called me yesterday (Sunday!) to say they had arrived.  She speaks a little English but gave up after a while.  I eventually deduced that she was saying that they were flat pack, and did I want someone to make them?  I then stuttered that we could “make” them ourselves – handy that the word for make sounds like “fix”!  So all was well and we now have two quite comfortable chairs as well as a settee.

Flowers in our front garden

So how come the shop was open on Sunday?  It turns out that many of the supermarkets and larger shops open on Sundays just before Christmas – normally everything is shut.

I have had to explain to several people that we have been living on the boat for 8 years, with limited space and resources.  So we had no furniture, no Christmas decorations, no appliances to speak of and so were starting our lives again from scratch as it were!  And getting ourselves sorted out with residency in a different country.  Hence the last two months has been a constant stream of buying stuff and getting ourselves sorted out administratively.  Also finding that technology has moved on – we are very impressed with the new LED light bulbs that are now available.

My study

But in between all that, Susie and I had an exciting but exhausting couple of days out.  In the last blog I mentioned that we had acquired a lot of furniture from one of Areti’s pupils who was moving back to Sweden.  I didn’t mention that their apartment in the Old Town was next door to Susie’s, and I only later found out that she and Micke were hoping to move there and got the go ahead that weekend! So we had taken all the furniture from the apartment that they could have used.  Oops.

She and Micke only have a scooter for transport, so when I offered a ride to the big shops out on the main road she was happy to come along.  It was great fun – we hit the big DIY store, then checked out rugs at the shop whose owner (Maria Epiplo) had pointed me in the direction of our new apartment. I got a large “throw” that is now pinned to the wall in the sitting room and cuts down the echoes.

IMG_20171205_142130

New Carpet and throw on the wall

After that we headed to Kalitheas where we had lunch in the sunshine, then checked out some 2nd hand stuff being sold by a lady who is moving to Thessalonika.  She is a seamstress, specialising in clothes for professional dancers! Wow.  Susie managed to snaffle loads of stuff, much of which wouldn’t fit in the car.  I had an appointment nearby the next day to see Zambeka – the Axa insurance lady, so could pick up the balance then.

We unloaded all Susie’s purchases then back to our apartment where I gave her back a bathroom cabinet that belonged in Susie’s bathroom (I still feel slightly guilty) having acquired a nice wooden bench from Kalitheas.

Snow on the mountains in Turkey

Then back to Susie’s to deliver it and a quick beer at their “local” before collapsing back home!

The following day I went to see Zambeka in her office in Faliraki – an awful “resort” town that is deserted in winter.  She spent a long time explaining the different types of insurance that we could take out.  I felt that what she was offering sounded really good.  Many ex-pats use her and the products that she has recommended for us.  So we now have basic health insurance and house contents insurance for a very reasonable €300 each annually.  It took a couple of weeks for the policies to come through (all in Greek of course) but Zambeka was careful to explain everything and we are now set.  The health insurance includes a full annual medical checkup – something I have never had before.  What a good deal.

Then I collected the rest of Susie’s acquisitions and ferried them to her new apartment. Still feeling guilty!

The trip to the DIY store had resulted in curtains for my study and Brian’s workshop, which went up and look nice.  I managed to negotiate the IKEA online website in Greek (see, I must be improving) and ordered a daybed – two stacking beds that can be taken apart for visitors.  Very neat.  There is an outlet here that acts as a delivery point for IKEA.  They called a week later to say that the bed had arrived and would be delivered in an hour or so.  It turned up in a falling apart bedford van – the back door held up by a broom stick!

Stacking IKEA bed – brilliant

It took Brian and I an hour and a half to put the first bed together – then we found the instructions in the 2nd box.  It fits in my study very nicely, so when I get tired of working at my desk I can retire to the couch!

All the furniture and much of the goods in the online stores and DIY stores that I have seen so far is all made in China, including our new armchairs.  It is all a bit tacky and may not last long.  I am still looking for bookshelves.

I had acquired a long thin set of shelves aka a spice rack from Kalitheas, Brian painted it white and it fit very nicely in the kitchen, giving us a bit more storage space. Heavy duty and not Chinese!

In between all that we have had various meetings to progress our possible acquisition of the house off Kapodistriou street.  We have met with surveyors (Kostas and Vassileios) at the property and they have given us a quote for fixing the essential issues of the roof and masonry.  We got access to the huge basement and found that there is a space and plumbing for installation of central heating – necessary for the large sitting/kitchen area.

We met a lawyer (Maria-Christina) who has now looked at the property documents.  Vassileios had found these in folders at the house! Many of them are on forms in Italian – legacy of the colonial occupation until the ‘40’s.

Italian property form!

After our meeting with the lawyer we went to Marks & Sparks to get new underwear for Brian.  The Chinese shop versions just fall apart after a year.  At the checkout the lady wanted us to ensure they were the right size – I pointed to Brian who was hovering nearby.  The two women peered over the counter, sized him up and decided that they would be OK!  We were in fits of laughter all day after that, Brian being most embarrassed.

In the middle of these meetings, I joined Mara and Susie for a cycle ride out to a beach near one of the big resort hotels – not far from the shipyard.  We left the bikes at the top of the hill and walked down to the beach where Susie was intent on collecting “sea glass” – small shards of glass that have been worn smooth and translucent by the waves.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and we sat on the pebbles chatting, picking up hundreds of pieces of glass – this beach is renowned for it.  Elisabeth joined us having driven down.  It was the first time we had met since last May, so we managed to do a bit of catching up.  We wondered why this beach in particular had so much glass on it.  Elisabeth found out later that the town rubbish dump used to be on the site of the hotel!

Down on the beach collecting sea glass with Mara

All of a sudden it was December.  Another outing was mooted with Susie to hit Jumbo – a huge store with very cheap and cheerful goods.  I couldn’t believe the quantity that Susie managed to load up into her trolley! I managed to get some Christmas decorations and some sticky pads to stop rugs sliding around (the only thing I had gone there for) and a couple of new cushions.  By the time I had wound around all the aisles I had had enough – awful shop really.  I escaped to the kiosk outside for a coffee and chocolate croissant in the sunshine – eventually joined by Susie.  We headed to Faliraki and found “the British Shop” but they had run out of crumpets.  Then to Lidl to pick up some Cheddar and Stilton cheeses and another huge trolley load from Susie!  It was a bit hairy getting to her apartment as the main road round the old town wall was being resurfaced, so I had to squeeze in through one of the old gates – eek.

OMG – No more shopping!

I had ordered some cotton rugs from Maria Epiplo which arrived and I collected.  They are lovely very thick woven cotton – made in Greece by the only remaining factory.  Apparently there used to be a thriving industry in these, but now much reduced.

Quiet on the beach in town – diving board in the background

I am still working on finding an accountant.  Various things need to be sorted out – not least to change our marital status with the tax office as they have us down as single at present.  For this I need a certified and translated copy of our marriage certificate!  The one I have is not sufficient apparently.  Hmm.

Another exciting event was to get bank accounts opened at Piraeus bank.  It all went remarkably smoothly.  We got debit cards immediately, a bank book each and I registered for internet banking, which Piraeus bank provides in English, as well as an app on my smart phone.  I set up an account with a money transfer company, so we now have money in our Euro accounts.  Amazing!

Farmer’s market

A spurt of enthusiasm made me head to the fruit and veg market last week, where I bought ingredients for chutney.  The last batch we made on the boat must have been four years ago!  I even found green tomatoes.  I am now checking the 2nd batch every quarter hour as it simmers away.  We had found our large preserving pan (really a lobster pan I think from our time in Montreal) at Butte Farm and put it in with the shipment to Rhodes.  It is wonderful to have all the facilities now to cook and do stuff like this.

A call from the shipyard invited us to their Christmas barbeque.  It was good to see the workers in a more relaxed environment – the chief travel lift operator was a wizard on the grill!

Experts at the grill

I chatted to the boss and his English wife – also Rosemary.  I also spoke to Mara’s partner Ali.  He has acquired (the previous owner kind of gave it to him?) his own boat which he sailed to Rhodes from Marmaris last week.  It is a small gulet, very pretty but needs quite a lot of TLC after being ignored for a few years.  We went to have a quick look at it before I left.  He is very proud of it!

Ali (right) and friend at the BBQ

Ali’s new boat

Last week we put up the Christmas lights on our front balcony.  I put the baubles (Wesley bobs according to the resident West Yorkshire person) in a large glass bowl, then went to hunt for a Christmas “twig” – a Smith family tradition.  That is now installed with Wesley bobs and lights and looks very pretty.

Christmas twig

Crimbo lights on our balcony!

Settling down in Rhodes

View of Nisyros crater walls

It is quite amazing that it is only 6 weeks or so since we flew back to Kos and relaxed on Alixora for a week.

We planned to take a short cruise round the southern Dodecanese islands before heading to Rhodes, starting in Nisyros, a volcanic island.  The reports said that the harbour in Paloi had been improved and friends confirmed that it was an excellent place to explore.  After a final stop at the wonderful ice-cream shop on Kos harbour front and Brian making a huge stew to tide us over a potential lack of places to eat, we set off on 18th October (a month ago).

Palion, Nisyros

It was a calm day, just enough wind for the genoa, and arriving in Paloi found the municipal harbour fairly empty and water and electricity on tap – amazing.

Palion harbour

There were lots of restaurants to choose from and the first night we treated ourselves to a kind of mezes of tzatziki, gavros (little fishes) and deep fried courgette flowers – very nice!

Gavros and chips

We arranged to hire a car the next day, which was delivered with panache at the requested hour of 10am, and offering a special discounted price of €25.  We visited Emborio, a fairly dilapidated village on the top of the crater wall.

 

Interesting construction

It was all closed up, so being coffee time we headed to the other side of the crater to Nikia for a frappe and a visit to the Volcano museum.  The small square where we had coffee was very pretty with a small church and lots of goings on.  I could even understand some of the Greek!

Coffee stop

The museum was really interesting and taught us a lot of things about volcanos, and the activity in this part of the Aegean.  A mandatory video as we entered was amusing with funny computer generated pictures of eruptions to illustrate how and where all the islands were formed!  There were examples of all the volcanic rocks including obsidian, which I had never really seen before.  Very glassy and smooth – a bit like the flint at home.

Vulcanic activity chart

We had picked up a couple of pies, so headed to the crater for lunch and an explore.  Having declined to head down into the main crater – you could see it perfectly well from above – we went up to the smaller ones.

Nisyros main crater

They were worth the hike and there were lots of steaming vents surrounded by pure sulphur deposits.  Later this generated a few hours of research to find out how pure sulphur can come out like that – and we found out a lot about sulphur too! Eventually we decided that it just sublimes from the hot gases.

Steam venting from crater

Heather on the rocks

After lunch we moved on to Mandraki and the imposing and ancient castle – which again was the subject of futher research to find out the progress of moving from polygonal stones to square(ish) ones over the centuries.

Mandraki Castle

Mandraki, Nisyros

We passed orchards of oak trees with huge acorns – which also grow wild.  Didn’t find out what they were used for.

Huge acorns

After a further day of chilling out, we checked the weather forecast which predicted a storm on Tuesday 24th October.  Hmm.

Palion, Nisyros

So our planned gentle cruise got cut short and we headed for a night at anchor in Panormitis bay in Symi,

Panormitis Bay at sunset

then Rhodes on the 22nd  (avoiding large tankers along the way) where we tied up at the marina for one night then headed down to the A1 shipyard ready to be hauled out.  The predicted storm was the following day, so we made sure we were tied up well to the quayside.

John Tsitses, the manager said we would be hauled out on Wednesday – the day after the storm.  It isn’t advisable to take sails down when on land as you have to let the genoa at least fly free which isn’t good for the boat on a cradle!  So we got busy and took the sails off.  Fortunately there was a fairly clean large concrete apron just next to us, so we managed to get them laid out and folded up reasonably well – they are very heavy and unwieldy. Having stripped our bed, we stuffed them into the front cabin.

I had contacted the car hire place we had used before and we had also popped in to the apart-hotel we had been in last May and booked a room.  The car was delivered at noon with many welcoming hugs and we loaded essential gear into it.

While we were sorting things out, with many cups of coffee, we watched a huge day trip cruise ship being hauled out – all the slings in use.  It just fitted into the travel lift.  We then watched a smaller wooden day trip boat called Free Spirit backing into the haul out slip.  They got it wrong a few times but eventually managed to get there – not easy with these long keeled heavy boats with big wooden rudders on the back!

After getting in some shopping, dropping off the washing and paying for the car for a couple of weeks, we headed back for welcome showers and a relax.  That evening we went to Perché No, the pizza restaurant, and again were welcomed back warmly!

The storm broke during the night – we were called at 9am by John Tsitses to reassure us that Alixora was fine – the south wind was pushing us off the quay so no worries about chafing.  But, he said, another boat “had gone sailing away”!  We went down to the shipyard and put more ropes on and noticed that Free Spirit wasn’t in the slip anymore – oh dear! We later saw it stranded on the rocks in the bay just north of the shipyard.  I have written a little ditty about it and will circulate with pictures.

It was certainly a foul day, flooded roads etc.  We got our wellies and raincoats out!

The next morning we got the call to be hauled out, so sped back to the shipyard, untied all the ropes, clambered aboard and steered into the slip – no doubt taking the slot now vacated by Free Spirit!  Alixora was lifted with no problems – her bottom was very clean – even the propeller which Brian had coated in Velox antifoul we had purchased in Italy.  It had been recommended by a guy on the Cruising Association site and certainly seemed to work – despite over 2 months sitting in Kos marina!

We had chatted to another English couple, William and Margaret, who had booked to leave their small boat in the marina for the winter.  Hmm. We gave them what advice we could and they did move to one of the more sheltered areas of the marina. We went out to Perché No with them before they left.

The next few days we spent most of our time on the boat, tidying up and moving more stuff to the hotel as we found necessary, as well as watching the rescue efforts on Free Spirit!

Meanwhile, as I mentioned in the last blog, I had put feelers out for an apartment to rent.  I had had one response directing me to a guy called Antonis Ghykas who might be able to help.  Also my friend Mara had been looking for us (thanks Mara!) and found a few houses for sale that might also rent.  I met up with Mara and called the estate agent – Jasmine.  We arranged to go and see the house Mara had seen – this only two days after we had lifted out!

The house we saw had been built between 2002 and 2005, and never lived in.  It is at the stage between first and second fix – walls plastered and floors finished and huge!

Possible new house?

It is in the workshop district near the old town and the ferry port – not where we had thought of looking but actually an ideal place.  And it has a huge basement  (140 m2) for a workshop and storage – amazing.  The owner has fallen on hard times and now wants to meet us – we are definitely interested to buy it but prepared for a long wait.

Possible new house?

The same day I then got a message from Antonis to go and see the apartment he had for rent.  This time it is further south, but still in Rhodes town – not far from my Greek teacher’s house and not that far from our old apartment.

We met Antonis and saw the apartment which is above a basement apartment.  Again it is huge with 3 bedrooms, a large sitting room, kitchen and two bathrooms – fantastic and just what we wanted.  And unfurnished, so we would have to furnish it completely ourselves.  The rent is only a little above what we were paying last year, and the contract is for 2 years minimum.

Sitting room, as it was when we visited

So after a celebratory beer at the Dot café overlooking the beach we decided to go ahead and I sent off all the electronic copies of the documents Antonis needed.  The building is owned by his uncle and he seems to manage it.

The next day we got a call to look at another house – again for sale and not rent.  This time it was close to the shipyard, up the hill.  A very nice house on about 4 levels, and to be sold fully furnished.  Not really our style, so we thanked the lady (now moving to Athens) but left our contact details.

Kitchen

Kitchen interesting curve

We measured up the apartment that weekend and decided on how to lay it out – our bedroom at the front, the two rooms at the back for his and hers study and workshops.

My study

Brian’s workshop

Bedroom

The black marble floor in the sitting room looked very worn with a few holes and strange white deposits I could not remove.  Antonis arranged for it to be re-polished, sharing the cost.  And he arranged for the hot water to be routed to the small 2nd bathroom which we now use as a shower room – perfect.

So within a week we had secured long term accommodation as well as finding a house to do up in our spare time! Wow.

Without going into the gruelling detail of poring through the local 2nd hand advertisements on Facebook, looking in the large DIY and furniture stores and hunting down appliance suppliers, we have managed to get ourselves sorted out.

With the marble floor being polished we could not move in, but did manage to get a 2nd hand washing machine and a bed delivered.  Unfortunately the bed was a bit of a bad buy, sight unseen apart from a photo, but Brian did an amazing job sorting it out.

When the floor polishing people arrived, we had cleared the sitting room and watched with amazement as they brought in huge machines to grind and polish – mostly with water but there was a bit of dry sanding done – lots of mopping up afterwards!

Also I picked up a 2nd hand corner sofa, and at the last minute found a guy, Michaelis, to move it for us from a town on the other side of the island.  We used him again to collect a whole pile of stuff from another contact from my Greek teacher.  I don’t like Facebook, but it has its uses!

We splashed out on new kitchen appliances which were delivered in short order and an air conditioner/heater installed.  The guys who did that kindly moved the washing machine from the sitting room into a small utility room as well as helping enlarge the hole for the water drainage!

 

We got the rental agreement signed and I had to go to the Electricity office to register as a new user.  Then Antonis got us connected up – it transpires he works in IT for the council.  He has also put a broadband router into our apartment to share his high-speed connection – we are sharing the minimal cost!  Wonderful.

So over the course of about 10 days we gradually moved things either purchased or from the boat into the apartment, then moved in from the hotel on Friday 10th November.  We also cleared out all our storage from The Workshop – amazing how much was there as well as all the tools we had had sent from the UK!  And then had to find somewhere to put it all.

But our apartment has a huge amount of built in storage – just not all in the right places!  A large shelving unit in the hallway, and a hanging space.  Brian’s workshop has a massive cupboard with drawers where he is slowly filing all his tools, sandpaper, etc, plus a hanging space which is now filled with planks of wood!  My study has no built in storage, but did have a wardrobe with shelving and a small set of drawers which is perfectly adequate.  Our bedroom has hanging space, drawers and shelving.

Brian’s workbench

My work table(s)

In the small utility room there is a crawl space that extends the length of the hallway – about a metre high into which we can put stuff from the boat if we want – like fenders and other non-perishable stuff.  Possibly the sails if we can get them out again!

The kitchen was the least well equipped, but a set of plastic shelving from the DIY store has solved most of the problems, Antonis gave us a fridge freezer and we even have a microwave oven!

The entire apartment is tiled with what they call “engineered” marble – chips set in a resin base.  The walls need work, with holes where shelving has been removed, but that will wait!  The place echoes a bit so we need more soft furnishing and rugs!

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We have 3 small balconies – all rather narrow but fine for sitting out.  The back gets some sun in the morning but the front of the apartment (sitting room and bedroom) gets more from about midday.

View from the rear balconies

The area is very lush with lemon and orange trees in the back garden (we are allowed to pick them!) and many other shrubs and trees between the houses.  Most of the apartment blocks are 3 storey, so not too high.  The road is very quiet and the neighbours are all very friendly.  It is a fairly multi-cultural area – the lady next door is German and her husband is Norwegian, the lady downstairs is Dutch.  Antonis and his family live above us and a further young family live on the top floor, both Greek although Antonis speaks very good English as does the chap on the top floor.

There are a lot of pet dogs around that create a bit of a din from time to time, and Margharita and Roy (?) next door have a very loud parakeet that wakes up in the afternoons!

I did have a day off.  On Sunday 12th November I joined in a Heritage walk around the old town visiting all the mosques and being able to go inside one.  It was organised by TESA, the English Speaking Association.  Members are from all nationalities, but they have a series of events that we can attend, coffee mornings etc.  The guide for our walk was extraordinarily well informed and voluble, so much so that all the information has pretty much leaked from my head!  But it was really interesting to note that the original churches were converted to mosques, then back again over the course of the various changes of rulers!

I didn’t know that a bolt of lightning hit an ammunition store near the Master’s Castle in 1856, blowing it and a large amount of the surrounding property to smithereens Hundreds were killed.  The Italians who took over in the 1920’s then rebuilt to what they thought was the appropriate design!

The guide explained that researching the history of Rhodes is made very difficult, not only because of the many different languages in use over the centuries, but also that they are in different scripts – Arabic of various kinds, Greek, Latin etc.  He said that very few scholars can actually cover all the records because of this.  So much to find out still.  The organisation he belongs to is called Riches – specialising in researching and protecting Rhodes history.

So here we are, still settling in and a few things yet to buy but almost sorted out.  The weather (apart from the occasional storm) holds fair with temperatures hovering around 20°C during the day but cool at night.  We have fan heaters for the smaller rooms and the new air conditioner heats up the large sitting room rather efficiently!

Airconditioning/heating going in!

Yesterday I baked a cake in our new fan oven.  We are still coming to terms with the idea that we now have a permanent base, can leave things here when we set out sailing again, and even have the space to have people to stay!  It is all a bit overwhelming at present and I still have to sort out the more mundane aspects like health and contents insurance! But to have got this far in only a month is quite incredible and we feel very lucky.

Maltese Falcon anchored off Rhodes

 

Turkey, Kos, Glossop, Kos

The last words of the last blog, back on 18th July were: Over the next few days we will slowly meander down to Datça, sign out there and sail to Kos ready for our flight to the UK.  So it may be a while before the next episode and a different set of topics.  Worse – do we have enough warm clothing for Glossop in August?

Rainbow in Glossop

And no, we didn’t have enough warm clothing for Glossop!  But back to the end of July.  We managed to get away from Marti Marina after a frustrating wait to get fuel and a black water pump out for the record on our Blue Card.  We had to hang around for a large motor yacht to be serviced, then the staff all went for lunch!  Eventually we managed to tie up to the pontoon ourselves and the attendant returned from his lunch.

Marti Marina gardens

We enjoyed a pleasant sail out in the bay before heading in to a new restaurant called Neighbours at Kuzbuku Koyu– run by the same lot as the eponymous one in Marmaris.  It was very pleasant, quite smart, and the food was great.  When trying to find the toilet and shower block we mistakenly climbed an extra set of steps and found ourselves looking at a row of small but very well equipped hotel type rooms – so not only a dock and restaurant but a pension as well.

The first night we were there I felt a strange vibration through the bow line (this dock had laid lines) about 2am. It was as if someone had driven a boat over the line.  I got up to check if anything was there, but saw nothing, so went back to bed and sleep.

The next day we saw the news of the major earthquake that had hit Bodrum and Kos.  We were only 40 miles away or so from Bodrum (as the crow flies), which explained the strange night time event.  The restaurant staff didn’t seem perturbed, so I don’t know if they felt anything!

We spent a couple of nights there and then headed for Datça to check out tying up at the main town quay as usual with the anchor out the front.  No progress on the new marina that has been started at the end of the bay!  Somehow we managed to spend four nights there, keeping an eye on various people who came in next to us and potentially crossed our anchor – but no problems.  However one small motor boat came in and caused all sorts of damage to another motor boat. The driver was either drunk or completely incompetent.  You could only watch in horror. They were sent away and banished to the other side of the harbour with the fishing boats.

Datca

Then we set off for Knidos having got our transit log cancelled and passports stamped for exit.  We were allowed one night in Knidos (no sign of earthquake damage there either), then headed for Kos on 27th July, ready to make the boat safe for our stay in the UK.  Kos marina staff are so good – they nudged us into position expertly as usual and we tied up with no problems.

Knidos

We kept our phone and tablet on the Turkish sim cards as the signal is good and we had plenty of credit left!  We made contact with Pierre Dumont who provides boat safekeeping services which is a requirement here if you are not on the boat for any length of time.

The boat was washed, cleaned inside and out and all the external trappings removed and stored inside.  I took a huge load of washing to the marina laundry the day we were leaving, asking Pierre to collect and put it back on the boat – which he never did.  He did collect our old main sail though which we had kept in case we could get the VAT on the new sail back in Datça.  Unfortunately the customs office there wasn’t equipped to do that, so we missed out.  We could have gone to Bodrum instead, but the price of the marina there would probably have cancelled out any benefit!

The harbour light – should be vertical!

We had to get a new DEKPA as well, so hired bikes and headed off into town to the Port Police.  The process was fairly straightforward, but it took a long time to queue at the bank to pay the tax – should not have done it on a Friday afternoon!  We toured the town and checked out the damage caused by the earthquake. It was considerable around the old harbour, with big cracks and subsidence.  All the big ferries were redirected to a port on the other side of the island as the ferry quay was badly damaged.  Now we are back two months later we can see the ferries back at the quay, so will go and investigate next week.

More destroyed pavement

The dinghy was cleaned, packed up and tied up on the front of the boat, and we enjoyed a few evenings at the local pita gyros café soaking up what might be our last rays of sunshine for a while!

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On 1st August we flew into Manchester airport and got the train to Glossop, pitching up at the Travelodge in the centre of town around 6pm (8pm our time).  We headed to the Wetherspoons pub next door and enjoyed real beer and I had a steak & kidney pudding!  It was raining.  We slept well!

Gardens

We had found out that our tenants had asked to not vacate the house until 4th August, so that gave us a few days to get ourselves sorted out.  The local car rental place didn’t have a car available until the following week, so I had to schlep into Manchester to get a Europcar hire for a few days.  I have to say that the standard of rental cars in the UK is somewhat higher than those in Greece!  Both vehicles we had were great, with plenty of power.

Eventually we managed to get access to the house.  It had been stripped bare – there was nothing left in it, even down to toilet paper!  But there was plenty of junk left lying around in the garage and cellar which we slowly got rid of.

Brian’s table saw

We managed to get some basic furniture sorted out from the local furniture charity shop, and our friends in the village kindly lent us bedding, crockery and cutlery and pans!  It was interesting working out the minimum of consumables that we could live with!  And we maxed out on the fantastic pork pies from the local butcher.

We went through with the rental agency to note damages etc.  It was sad to find that there was so much black mould around many windows, and that the wooden flooring had been damaged in several places.  One of the issues we had had over the previous 6 months was that water had managed to get in through the French windows in the kitchen area, damaging the wooden floor there.  We had claimed that on the house insurance and they agreed that it could not be patched, but that the whole area would need replacing!  The tenants did not want this doing while they were in residence so it was scheduled to start as soon as they left.

Kitchen

When the joiner arrived to start work, we agreed with him to continue to replace the rest of the wooden flooring as women with stiletto heels and dogs with claws had pretty much wrecked the floor throughout.

Meantime, Brian’s sister and her partner had arranged to visit, which was great.  Eddie is a self employed gardener, so they set to and stripped away all the ivy that was growing over windows and into gutters – excellent.  It was lovely to see them and their work was much appreciated.

My sister and her husband also came to visit, and my sister also came for a few more days later on, doing a stirling job with sanding down the bench top from our porch, and painting the fence, as well as finding Bugsworth Basin – a restored canal warehousing and shipping area in the middle of the Peak District. An extraordinary industrial history find.

Bugsworth basin canal

Our biggest problem was to resolve damp issues.  What a palaver.  We eventually got one quote for full waterproofing with pumped drainage – which was well beyond our means.  So I found another local contractor who seemed to be competent and we agreed a more conservative approach, essentially re-doing what had been incorrectly installed six years previously.

Old damp proof membrane

However this still mean tearing off  large areas of plaster and plasterboard and cutting a channel between the floor and wall in one room to allow water to drain away.  It was pretty obvious to us that the previous work had been substandard – but two sets of surveyors who had been to the  property the previous year were adamant that it was all just condensation!  The overseeing contractor had then put in some ventilation systems, which were pretty ineffectual.

Damp running on the floor from the membrane!

We were pleased to be there when the work was being done – we were able to pick up on errors and get things done correctly!

So what we had hoped would be a 3 or 4 week stay to get the house sorted out turned into a two and a half month 7 day a week major renovation effort!

We wanted that tree cut down since ever!

What did we have done?

  • Whole house repainted inside and out
  • Extensive damp remedial work
  • New tiling in bathroom
  • Entire ground floor wooden flooring replaced
  • Replace clouded double glazing units – including two of the panes on the conservatory which had to be done by specialists!
  • Exterior stone terraces restored and repointed
  • Stone roofs repaired (garage and house) and ridge repointed
  • Tear down and replace a chimney (found to be cracked when the roofers were up there)
  • Bare flower beds covered with bark chips
  • Large tree cut down and overgrowth trimmed
  • New wooden and plastic gutters sourced, painted, installed
  • Wood burning stoves certified and one of the chimneys cleared of lots of birds nests!
  • Central heating boilers serviced and certified
  • All the carpeting deep cleaned

    Harold (right) and Tim – Finished the new chimney

All the contractors who did the work were great, so we have made a lot of new contacts if we need them.

We are retaining the small cottage next to the main house. It is rented to a guy who has been there 5 years and is keeping the place very nicely.  We have taken it over from the property agency, so he can get any repairs done directly and we can reimburse him – it will work out much better.  He is a DJ and works on developing funk soul with contacts in the States – as well as spending a lot of time in London.  Fascinating guy – he has given us a couple of CD’s of his music too.

The Stables, Glossop

And of course we had a lot of work to do ourselves. The first week we were there the weather was fairly good, so we got onto the garage and kitchen roofs and cleaned off the moss and dirt that had accumulated.  After that it deteriorated, with rain most days and quite cold.  No we didn’t have enough warm clothing! So Tesco got raided for extra gear for working in.  Brian found a great working shirt in one of the many charity shops in Glossop.

I scrubbed and cleaned off all the black mould around the house.  Fabric blinds had been put up at many windows that had got mouldy as well, so those came off.  We managed to get a ladder into the conservatory and spent a long time cleaning off water stains from the rafters and black mould from the skylights, clearing out moss and dirt from the openings.  We repainted the rafters with natural decking oil.  They look much better.

Conservatory

Brian was really pleased to find that the tools he had stored away behind boards in his workshops were still there.

We both worked hard at cleaning, re grouting, clearing out old silicon and replacing it in the three bathrooms and repairing the damages to pipe boxing.  The standard of repairs carried out over the 8 years we had been away was appalling, with no attempt to replace things like cap covers over screw heads and cleaning off old sealant before putting in new, etc.

Brian repointed outside the house where big gaps in the stone work would have exacerbated the damp issues.  He spent a few evenings cleaning the stone terraces too with the pressure washer.  They look great now!  He tidied up all the wiring in the cellar and garage, replaced outside lights, etc.

The list of things we did could go on – we were so tired by the end!

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Finally we saw light at the end of the tunnel and booked our flight back to Kos for 11th October.  I organised a final window clean and cleaners to come in and clean the whole house.  They will keep it clean while it is empty, waiting for someone to buy it!

Locking the door – last time

We had also made contact with our great friends Gill and John, who were back in the UK after selling their yacht Petronella to an American couple.  It was great to meet up with them for an hour or so as they passed Manchester on their way to Cumbria to see friends there.

We talked boaty things – a nice change from house things!

Gill & John

Our friends in Glossop, Chris and Sue, came and took us out to dinner a few times too – that was great to find out what was happening in their and their children’s lives.  The latest news is that their youngest son is getting married in January, so Sue is busy with preparations!

We moved out of the house on 6th October, back to the Travelodge, while the charity furniture shop came to collect all the furniture we had bought off them on arrival!  Notably they took the huge LCD TV that we had bought back in 2003 for £2,300 and was one of the only things that had survived the tenancies! Wow, we must have been feeling rich….. Jessica and Mark had brought up a box of our files including house deeds and all the invoices for the renovations that were carried out in 2002.  Most of them went in the bin, but it was interesting to see what we had done and who the suppliers were!  Some of the specialist suppliers details we have left for the potential new owners of the house.

Having got back to Kos, I just felt wiped out – Brian too to a lesser extent.  We spent 3 days recuperating! Now we need to wash the accumulated salt and sand off the boat, plot a course, check the weather and head in a Rhodes direction!  Brian has taken the rented bike and gone down the coast to see if there are any migrating birds.

I have put feelers out for accommodation in Rhodes – to rent for a couple of years or so – to give us a year round base.  That will be a different experience!  And it will be great not to have to keep everything on the boat, although this past summer we did take advantage of a storage facility in Rhodes where we left our winter gear (oops) and excess items.

It had been quite windy until our penultimate day in Kos – but sunny and warm! What a difference.  When we arrived we found them erecting a huge stage and seating area opposite our pontoon.

The grand stage for Anastacia – a one hour gig!

We eventually found out that it was a private event for Microsoft employees (possibly).  It was extraordinarily extravagant – the catering included spit roasted piglets!  Lots of dressing up as Greek gods and bit of acting by a Greek dance team, and then the “act” was announced – it was Anastacia, a country rock artist from Chicago.  Her set only lasted about an hour and wasn’t very inspiring we thought – a huge amount of effort for not very much. At least it was all over at a reasonable time – not like the usual Greek event that goes on until dawn. It was all being dismantled again overnight.  What a waste of money.

Greek Actors or Players at the Kos event

The next blog should find us in Rhodes (from where I am posting this on the WordPress site), and I will be able to update you on how we get on starting to make a base for ourselves once we have a permanent address, including getting onto a health system, taking out proper phone contracts, getting a Greek bank account and all those exciting things!  No doubt it will be tortuous, but we expect that. We might even go as far as buying a car and all that entails.  Hopefully if we have transport we will be able to join the winter walks that we missed out on last year.

And of course I shall resume my Greek lessons – my homework has been sadly ignored for the last month or two.

Γεια σας!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loitering on the Carian Coast

We finally managed to get away from Marmaris!  It had been quite windy when they fitted our new mainsail.  When the wind died a few days later, we tried to raise it ourselves. We found that the new “gate” that covers a gap in the track that lets you release the sliders that hold the sail to the mast was too fat to allow the bottom sliders past it.  They had fitted the new gate after putting the sail on and lowering it – so hadn’t checked it themselves!  The sliders are new with little wheels on – very posh but obviously a bit too fancy!

Approaching Gocek Bay

A call to Bariş and a guy came to check it out.  He took the gate away to be filed down, but it still didn’t work.  A second effort similarly resulted in failure.  Bariş then came himself, and ultimately we agreed on a not ideal solution – to refit the old sliders where they need to go over the gate.  This was done – but all of the toing and froing took another week. Additionally they rejigged the lazy bag lines removing the old supports that had plastic covers that had become brown and sticky.   By this time it was as cheap to stay in the marina for the month so that is what we did. Brian fixed a lot of bits and pieces and I pottered around.  We spent a lot of time giving the decks and stainless steel a really good clean, removing all the small bits of iron swarf that get stuck into the plastic and make brown stains.  The swarf happens when anyone is angle grinding mild steel or iron near the boat – invisible at the time but slowly makes an appearance!

Bay at sunset

Around this time I was in frequent communication with our letting agent to deal with the arrears the tenants in Butte Farm (our house in Glossop) were building up.  This had been going on since January.  The house has needed a lot of repairs doing as well – which we suspect are partly the result of lack of care.  As we had decided that we would like to make Rhodes our year-round base, we agreed that we would give the tenants notice and put the house on the market. I booked a flight from Kos to Manchester for 1st August, the tenants moving out on 2nd – so we will see what needs to be done.  Alixora is booked into Kos Marina (with a bit of pleading as they initially said they were full) for a month from 27th July or thereabouts.

Since we left Marmaris we have just been pottering around the coast with the aim of signing out of Turkey at Datça around 26th July.  I have not kept my hand-written diary up to date so I have to rely on our boat log to remind myself where we have been.

After making a list of vital things to buy in Turkey (like Porçoz – which is now called something else but is essentially dilute nitric acid for cleaning kettles and other things) and raiding the shops in Marmaris, we set sail again on 22nd June.

As Kos is not very far to go, we headed east first.  Ekinçik was the first stop – anchoring in a small bay surrounded by woodland and tying the back of the boat to shore.  Hmm – first time in a while actually anchoring and first time taking lines to shore in ages!  But we managed and settled in for a comfortable and very quiet night.

More boats and mountains

From there we headed to Goçek bay where we hoped to find a buoy to tie to.  But we had forgotten that it was the end of Ramadan, and that everyone was celebrating Eid!  Oh no.  The bays were full of yachts and motor cruisers of all sizes.  Also where all the small bays used to have plenty of buoys to tie to, many seem to have disappeared and boats were anchored in the very deep water.  We didn’t want to do that. After cruising around a couple of bays, we headed for one of the restaurants with jetties that we had been to before.  Wall Bay was close so we went there and were directed in alongside the wooden pontoon – so far in that we raised a bit of mud as we backed up to the end.

New Wall Bay restaurant

Then we found that Wall Bay was no longer the slightly ramshackle collection of shaded tables with dodgy toilets and a shower in a hut.  Total transformation into a 5 star resort!  Very fancy pergolas, smart table settings, a bar with Haitian straw draped around it and a huge open air lounging area with cushions covering it.  Then further up the hill, a lounge in an amazing glass and stone building, and toilets and showers with gold taps and drench shower heads – all in marble and teak – with proper terry towels set out to dry hands.  Extraordinary! With smartly uniformed staff to go with it all. Oh, and piped music along the pathways, the speakers hidden in artificial rocks!

Posh food at Wall Bay

Another British boat was there and a brief conversation revealed that all this work had been carried out over the previous winter – everyone was astonished.  And all the materials had been carried in by boat – no road access, which is one of the attractions of the small restaurants around here.

Of course the prices of food and beer were indicative of the new ambiance…

We had been managing to sail, trying out the new mainsail.  We found it really hard to get it tight and have been working on solutions since then – it must go higher than the previous one and so the channel at the top of the mast is probably a bit rough and dirty.  It has been getting better, but still a lot of huffing and puffing at the end of the travel.  Brian has now adjusted the knot on the shackle that pulls the sail up, which we have yet to try out.

Lots of boats – Gocek Bay

After a couple of days enjoying the luxury of Wall Bay we headed out to sea for a short sail, then back in towards Goçek Town. As we approached we spotted a buoy on one of the islands close by and managed to pick it up, tying back to shore.  The long lines that we use are now nice and clean thanks to being dunked in the water a few times!  They had been really dirty and gritty as the locker they reside in collects all the muck from the deck when we wash it.

Gocek Bay

Needing to stock up on provisions, we stopped next in D-Marin marina, a rather posh place but very pleasant and spent a few days there, washing salt off the boat, shopping etc and eating out at shady restaurants.  It was here that I gave myself a good talking to, and got out my Greek text book once more!  I dropped an email to my teacher, Areti (Αρετή) who promptly answered, asking me to send her a weekly report of what we had been doing (yes, I am just starting past tense) in Greek of course! I explained that to write text in Word, I needed a 240V power supply for the computer, so it would be a bit hit and miss.  Good excuse anyway! It is also helpful to have a shady and breezy restaurant to work in – the boat is just too hot.  I can do emails in Greek, but proper documents are hard to do on my phone.  I daren’t use Brian’s tablet – he would get most confused!

D-Marin waterside village

We have managed a couple of exchanges – it was really hard to start with as 2 months not studying at all meant I had forgotten much of what I had already learnt.  I am trying not to let it slip again.

D-Marin, Gocek

From Goçek Town we headed down again to Tersane island, where a small restaurant is tucked into a sheltered bay with jetty of course.  Here I had the second (and subsequent) swims of the year – the water was a lot warmer and beautifully clear.  By this time (early July) the weather was set in for the summer heat.  All of a sudden our clothing is reduced to minimal and cooking on the boat is not a comfortable experience.  Many of the Mediterranean countries have experienced a heatwave, including Turkey, for the past two weeks – only breaking this week.

Tersane Island restaurant

At Tersane we were re-introduced to “crumpet bread” – huge flat round loaves with the density and consistency of crumpets.  They are hand made at the small restaurants and cooked in wood fired ovens every morning.  They are so big that one would last us 4 days – but we usually get fresh every couple of days.

Hmm, can we eat all this?

From Tersane we returned to Ekinçik and from there onwards to Çiftlik.  This is the other side of Marmaris bay.

In retrospect we should have delayed this passage – the wind picked up (on the nose of course) and it was quite uncomfortable towards the end with 2 metre waves at one stage, coming from all directions.  We took turns steering – the autohelm struggled in those conditions.  The dinghy flipped over, then back again as we rounded the corner. However tucked in the bay behind the protective island it was lovely and calm.

We circled for a short rest, I was steering, – then Brian was about to settle down but I suggested that ropes and fenders were perhaps needed before we could tie up!  He grumpily left me to steer and the restaurant we had picked out indicated they wanted us to tie up alongside! What a treat.  After sorting out the requisite bits, Brian left me in charge while he stood ready with ropes, and I actually parked the boat myself! Wow!  I know I have the ability, but our work division usually means that I am the ropes and fenders person.

Çiftlik is a popular stop for yachts and boasts four restaurants with jetties.  It is also accessed by road so the beach (with sunbeds and umbrellas) is always busy.  But as it is mainland and road accessible, it has mains power too, so we plugged the boat in and I took the computer on land and did my Greek homework at a comfortable table in the shade.  Mini-markets at each restaurant were handy to stock up with fruit and milk as well as the ubiquitous crumpet bread.

Having been parked in Marmaris for a month, the dinghy had accumulated a lot of coral worm and slime on its bottom.  We took it over to a quiet part of the beach, removed the cover that had rucked up after its rotation out in the waves, and gave it a good scrub, watched curiously by a small girl who asked a lot of questions – in Turkish!

I don’t know why we decided to move on three days later – we had the most horrid trip again with 20 to 30 knots on the nose but the waves weren’t quite so bad.  Should have waited another day!

Bozzukale pontoon

But we made it to Bozzukale and again breathed a sigh of relief as we got into calm water in the bay. We tied up at Ali Baba restaurant as we have in previous years, and remembered that the toilet is a good hike half way up the hill!  On top of the hill are the ancient Loryma fortifications – it is a prime position opposite Rhodes so commanded the strait.  Having climbed the hill before, in cooler months, we were not desperate to do so again in 40° heat.  Conversely a dunk in the sea was wonderfully cooling.

A couple of days later we headed round the corner to Sogut – we had never been to that particular bay before but a particular restaurant was recommended on our Cruising association website.  We found the jetty for Captain’s Table eventually.  I had called the day before to secretly organise a cake for Brian’s birthday!  I wasn’t sure if they had understood, but when we tied up and Brian was out of the way, a bit of sign language and nose touching indicated that it was all arranged!

Ex birthday cake

We enjoyed a beer on their terrace, followed by dinner and then the lights went out and the cake arrived complete with candles and sparklers and a taped “happy birthday” song!  Stupid me – I didn’t take a picture of the procedure until the cake had been eaten! Brian was urged by the restaurant staff to blow out the candles, and we all had huge slices of very good chocolate cake.  We shared a slice with an English chap called Adam.  He revealed he runs a design studio in Chichester and was returning there the next day.  He has a house in Sogut, high on the hill overlooking the bay.

The next day we saw him again, in the company of an elderly American gent who went out in Adam’s small motor boat for a spin.  He and his wife also live in Sogut and we had a short friendly chat.

While we were idling away another hour or two, Brian noticed one of the small fishing boats coming in with a herd of goats on board!  This time I did snatch up the camera, but wasn’t able to zoom in on it before it disappeared behind a neighbouring yacht. We were sorting out the boat for departure so didn’t see how they got the goats off the boat!

Goats afloat!

Next stop was Bozburun, where we had hoped to tie up in the small harbour.  However on arrival it looked full, so we anchored in the rather deep bay outside and prepared the dinghy with the outboard, heading in to check the place out.  It was a lot more lively than our previous visit some years ago! A couple of other British boats also anchored near us and we chatted to Sally who swam over to see us. Their boat is a dual mast “junk rigged” Scottish yacht called Ron Glas (little seal).  She told us the history – it is a kind of teak plywood construction covered in tough plastic and was built for the first cross Atlantic races in the early 20th century.  The man who built it designed the first windvane steering systems along with a group of sailing friends who all ganged together after the 1st world war to work at what they enjoyed.

Bozburun

We had seen them sailing in – the junk rig with red sails was very pretty! However we have noticed that there are very few foreign flagged “owner occupied” boats around.  Mostly we see Turkish people on the boats – either chartered or owned. Bozburun was the exception, with a French boat and a German one as well.

We re-provisioned in Bozburun and stayed three nights, enjoying the ambiance.  We managed to eat cheaply too, selecting small pide (like an oblong pizza but with meat and veg toppings) restaurants.

The restaurants with jetties make their money with the dinners they serve, so they tend to be a bit more elaborate with mezes and main courses of various types.  It was nice to have a simple change.

I realised that our favourite bay restaurant was just around the corner at Dirsek Buku!  So we left Bozburun and headed all of 9 or 10 miles to their jetty.  The bay was full of boats at anchor and tied to the shore, but there was just space for us on their quayside.

Dirsek Buku

The water there is so clear it is fantastic.  Warm too – so plenty of opportunity to drop in the sea to cool off.  The food was excellent as usual.

Baby goat – not for dinner!

However we only stayed one day (collecting our crumpet bread in the morning of course) and headed another very short hop to Selimiye.  We had a good sail too even though it wasn’t far – we did a bit of a detour out into the gulf and back.  The public quay was packed, but we knew we had been to a restaurant jetty previously although couldn’t remember the name and couldn’t see any familiar names on the map.  We ended up at the Sardunya, where we had to drop the anchor and tie up – normally they have laid lines to tie to the front of the boat.

Cat snoozing on a log in the shade

It turned out to be a rather posh place and the food was pretty poor.  But before eating we had walked along the quayside (lined with small restaurants, ice cream parlours and cafés) and found the Aurora restaurant and quay – the one we had forgotten!

So next day we went out for a play in the bay and returned to the Aurora restaurant run by a Swedish/Turkish lady Suzan and her husband.  It has a lovely tree shaded seating area, excellent food and electricity and water on the jetty as well as outlets in the seating area.  Perfect.  I lugged computer and Greek books on land and spent most of one day working on another homework exercise and reminding myself of what I had forgotten.

Aurora shaded bar

I asked Suzan what she was experiencing commercially.  She told me that a huge number of yacht charter companies (that cater for foreigners) have taken their boats to Greece, Croatia, and other places and that many private boat owners are also avoiding Turkey. She normally does good business with return customers and charter companies in May and June – but this year she had no customers in May at all! It goes without saying that she is not happy with the current political situation and patriarchal resurgence.

We had meanwhile been keeping an eye on the weather and saw high winds forecast for a few days.  So we high tailed it here to Marti Marina and have been placed alongside an outer pontoon – as far from the showers and toilets as it is possible to be!  It is a very posh (and eye wateringly expensive) marina – but I notice that they are not maintaining it as well as it should be – another victim of the drop in tourism perhaps although the marina is full of boats.

Quiet pool outside toilet and shower block, Marti Marina

Over the next few days we will slowly meander down to Datça, sign out there and sail to Kos ready for our flight to the UK.  So it may be a while before the next episode and a different set of topics.  Worse – do we have enough warm clothing for Glossop in August!

 
 

A short experiment

Whiling away an afternoon swinging at anchor outside Bozburun, I wondered if I could download WordPress as an app on my phone. Yes, it turns out. But typing in text is somewhat more laborious than being able to touch type on the laptop! Hmmm, you say. What about a Bluetooth keyboard! 

Float a Goat delivery, Sogut

Adding photos is a lot easier though, as they are on the same device. However being able to crop and otherwise improve them is another project! Otherwise I would have been able to crop down to the small skiff with the goats in it! It was a quick snapshot with no time to zoom. More research required.

Anyway, we have slowly sailed this far and aim to get to Datca where we sign out of Turkey before returning to Greece on 27th July. 

Bozburun

Cruising again

Since the last update we have been very busy getting the boat ready for the summer season. At the beginning of May we realised that we would need a few more weeks, and that our apartment lease would run out in the middle of the month. Unfortunately, when I called our landlady Maria, she said that they had already booked someone else in to the apartment from 11th May!

Cruise ship ahoy – Rhodes

Oh no. So all efforts were put into moving more winter gear and surplus boat bits into storage, and then taking stuff we needed from the apartment to the boat and hauling it up the 12 foot ladder. I hired a car for a few weeks which made it easier all round. I booked a suite in an apart hotel not far from our apartment, and we moved in there on 9th May. Of course I had to clean the apartment and get all the washing done too – but a very convenient laundry was close by with very reasonable rates.

Weird holographic lighting effect!

Having moved to the hotel, it was rather nice having the place cleaned for us on a regular basis with clean sheets and towels too! We could have cooked basic stuff on the two-ring hob, but in the end decided that it was easier to eat out – lazy I know. Our favourite eateries were surprised to see us slightly more frequently that had been our habit before! Not only that, but the hotel had excellent wi-fi, thus saving us some money on our 4G subscriptions. I even managed to set up a new Skype account on Brian’s android so that we could converse at a distance – if he remembers how to use it!

Propeller ready for antifoul – some from last year still there

On the boat, Brian set about washing all the ropes that had been hanging there for the winter. A day or two after he had finished, a huge storm set in and covered everything in salt and sand again! How depressing. However it washed off again fairly easily. The water pressure in the shipyard is so high that it regularly bursts the plastic fittings and joiners – it was a long stretch from the pillar to the boat, so we had at least one join and it was prudent to hike over to the tap and turn it off as often as possible!

Propeller antifouled

We had asked for an engineer to help us remove the timing chain case cover. It had a small hole in it that had been made by a piece of that water pump collar that broke at the beginning of last season! It had only been made a month or so before we arrived in Rhodes, so we had not had a chance to do much about it until the boat was out of the water.
Eventually a man turned up with a friend to interpret. He and Brian discussed what had to be done and he returned with the appropriate tools to pull off bushes etc. Once the cover came off about three small pieces of metal fell into the pool of oil and water that had gathered during the operation – the remains of that water pump collar. On inspection of all the cogs and gears inside, it was apparent that nothing apart from the case had been damaged – the engineer crossed himself and offered thanks to God! He took the cover away for welding and returned a few days later to put it all back together again. Good job well done, and all for €50! (Except Brian had to put the pulley belt back on in the right place afterwards- good job he checked).

Moving the wrecked hydrofoil

I organised a platform on wheels that arrived eventually after the previous boat owner had finished with it. I could climb onto it and clean and polish the hull – that took a few days. We patched up bits of the white and red stripes, not as much work as usual. Brian painted primer over the deeper scratches in the antifoul.

Preparing for hull antifoul

We ordered the antifoul. Brian had cleaned up the propeller and put the special Velox antifoul on, as it seemed to have worked well last year. After I had polished and we had patched the stripes, we taped where the antifoul would go and were ready. Once the hull antifoul arrived Brian put a coat at the water line, then we spent the next couple of days in the sunshine putting on two coats – managing to do each side in the shade as the sun moved over! It was warm work.

We watched with awe as Ali made and fitted a new rudder and changed the back of the keel layout for Vesta while we messed about with Alixora.

Vesta’s new rudder – in progress

The weather was quite variable – some days hot and sunny, other days colder and cloudy, with a few days of torrential rain and thunderstorms thrown in. We were unprepared for the few days of very hot weather in early May – siestas were necessary! Shorts were retrieved and we sweltered. Then it got cold again – relief.

Oh, that’s how the pipes go!

On 19th May we organised for Alixora to be put back in the water. It was a horrid wet morning and as we had to put final coats of antifoul on where the cradle supports had been, we had to wait for the rain to stop, which it did finally. So our launch was delayed by an hour or two – then when we checked all the pipes and inlet valves Brian found a small leak where the new speed log paddle wheel went.

Tiny Alixora, huge travel lift. Vesta’s finished rudder on the right

Oh no. The boat was still in the slings and so we were hauled out again – the water seeping away immediately! After some discussion with the senior travel lift operator, Brian took off the sealing nut inside the boat and put rubberised sealant around the tube and tightened the nut back down, squishing the sealant in. There was no sign of any cracks on the outside of the boat. Of course, to get the sealant to stick he had had to dry the area out, so we had to get electricity to operate the heat gun……and so it goes!

Back in the water – then out again!

Meanwhile another boat owner had been waiting for his own launch and was getting very irate! So after an hour we were lowered back into the water, Brian nervously checked the repair and it held, so we were OK to go. We headed round a large fishing boat that had been tied up alongside and snuck into a small gap in front of it. Everyone had been waiting for that fishing boat to go, but they were working on some electrical problem…
We were back in the water, alongside the quay, easy to step on and off – wonderful. Then the process of sorting everything out – getting the genoa back on, cleaning inside and outside the boat, re-organising everything to make space, getting the navigation gear working and set up, making sure our VHF hand held radio was charged up – all that sort of stuff – as well as bringing the remainder of our stuff from the hotel bit by bit!
And I had to pay for the lift out and in and the time spent on land. Poor credit card.
Finally, finally we were ready to go. I had taken my bike to the storage room, which had been filling up nicely. Loads of space on the boat now! Brian took his bike down too and I organised for the car to be collected from the ship yard – what service.
We arrived fairly early for us – about 9am on Wednesday 24th May, loaded the last of our stuff onto the boat and started to prepare to set sail – trying to remember what everything did!
The wind was blowing just the wrong way – but after a lot of discussion with the chaps in the yard, they put a rope on the bow to the front of the boat in front of us and with a bit of engine assistance hauled us round, pushing the back of the boat away from the quay, until we were clear of the big trawler and the sunken wreck on the other side! We spent an hour doing the usual tidying up, putting fenders away, having a cup of coffee and reflecting on our fortune in getting out of that tight spot without any damage. A few annoying moments when our navigation software stopped responding, but Brian had cleaned up the new computer so it rebooted and worked again quickly. We had forgotten to dig out the adaptor for 12V power for it, so he rigged up the invertor on a temporary basis until we could find the right bit of kit – buried somewhere in the wires collection!

Marmaris bay coastline

Then we put up the main sail, let out a bit of genoa and lickety split were sailing at 7 knots in a lovely beam reach and little swell – perfect! On reaching the peninsula south of Marmaris the wind backed to follow us and dropped, so it was back on with the engine – but had had an excellent 2 hours sailing.
I had arranged for an agent to meet us at the customs quay to book us into Turkey. We found the quay – a man stood on it and waved. I had had to post a query with the Cruising Association to get some hints of where to go! We tied up and waited for the agent who arrived about an hour later. Potentially we had no internet or phone access by this point – but I had purchased a “roaming” add-on before leaving Greece that seemed to work – in a fashion – so we did manage to communicate.

View from Alixora

We were processed and set off for Netsel marina round the corner, being shown to a good berth on the end of a pontoon near the facilities and shops. The usual hassle of hauling up a long and muddy laid line, but the marina rib was on hand to give us a push in the right direction.
After a slight misunderstanding of where to collect our boat papers from the agent, we were booked in for an indeterminate period, got our electricity hooked up and set off for a beer at Scorpio’s bar on the front. Most welcome. We splashed out on dinner out and then returned to sleep soundly – the first time on the boat since October. Wonderful. The first week on the boat (until now) living out in the wind and sun has made me very sleepy – more siestas! I think I am recovering now.

Castle in the background – our view

For the past few weeks Brian has been suffering from a pulled ligament in his knee, making any leg twisting very painful and making him limp along rather slowly. In true male stoic fashion he just rubbed anti-inflammatory cream onto it and poo pooed any idea of getting a supportive brace. A couple of days after arriving here I went on an exploratory mission to remind myself where everything was. I saw a pharmacy with surgical supports in the window and bought a knee brace, brought it back, and the sceptic now says it is working wonderfully. He is certainly walking a lot more easily. Stoics – ha! Mind you – pot calling kettle….

Sail nearly up

We had come to Marmaris to get our new main sail and new sail cover. The sail arrived on Thursday and was all expertly fitted. UK Sails also offer a rigging check which we needed as the forestay had been taken off and all the rigging loosened when they repaired the front fairlead. The guy came to do that on Monday, scampering up the mast, making us very jealous.

Now how does this go?

Meantime we bought Turkish sim cards for the phone and tablet – the guy in the shop knew exactly what we would need and the whole process was extraordinarily straight forward. Excellent and much better value than the Wind accounts we use in Greece. The marina has rather poor and intermittent wi-fi, but we go to the Scorpio bar most evenings before dinner (now cooking on the boat) which has wi-fi so we can save a bit on big downloads if we need to.

New Sail!

Marmaris is a fantastic place for yachts people – there is a street filled with chandleries that we have taken advantage of. Our fenders used to have a mixture of tatty ropes to hold them onto the rails – now these have been replaced by smart new matching (purple?) rope. Next we need to find some non-slip tape to tidy up some of the tape on the deck and so on. We also caught a calm hour to check that we could raise our new sail ourselves, and found a glitch that will need to be sorted out this coming week.

New lazy bag installed

The mosquito nets that I had made last year were looking decidedly sad. I had spent some hours trying to work out the best way of making them stay in the port openings using springy strips of plastic or metal. Eventually the simplest method came to mind – doh! Good old duct tape, it doesn’t look too bad and if it flakes off in the heat, I can just replace it! And my cunning plan for the net for the forward hatch came into fruition – and worked, amazingly.

A UK flagged yacht called Spicy Lady arrived a couple of days ago. I introduced myself and found that they were the only liveaboards in Kas marina this past winter, but had been there 2-3 years, arriving after we left. Elaine and Mike know several of our friends, and were able to catch us up on local news. We will keep in touch as we are going to be cruising in the same area.

More canal

When we eventually get away from Marmaris, the tentative plan is to chug around the coast-line, west and north, until we have to leave Turkey at the end of our 90 day visa allowance, or a bit before.

We can apparently reclaim the VAT on our new sail and bag at that point – possibly! Then across to the Greek islands and back down towards Rhodes. That all may change – but for the moment it is the primary plan.

Octopus – scary!