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Last excursion, winter jobs and Socials

December 20, 2013

It is hard to believe that we have been in our winter home for two months already. When I look at the list of jobs we have accomplished already it doesn’t seem so bad – we have been busy!

View from Alixora - our winter quarters

View from Alixora – our winter quarters

Having said in my last blog that I would update you on sightseeing tours I fear that expeditions have been set aside while the jobs have been carried out. However the winter walks started again a couple of weeks ago so we have been able to see a bit more of the countryside.

A fair number of yachties were around until early December with the numbers slowly decreasing as they left for their various countries – Norway, Switzerland and the UK among those we know of. A Dutch couple have just returned to their boat for a couple of weeks, and a Canadian couple arrived last week to stay the winter. So we do have more company than the last two years! The Canadians, Steve & Deirdre, turned up in Kas as their first port in Turkey and the first time in Turkey ever. I took Deidre shopping around Kas a couple of days later, and she ended up buying far more than planned – the shops were so enticing! I had to drag her back to the marina as lunch time approached.

Brian’s trip to the UK was successful in all respects. He arrived back laden with electronics, spare parts and my new M&S knickers! His friend in the Physics department had acted as postman and had accumulated all the bits we had ordered over the internet, including those archeology books I mentioned. However having inspected them, they cover all the south coast of Turkey except the bit around Kas! Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed.

Dinner at Jimmy Joker - lamb shank stew!

Dinner at Jimmy Joker – lamb shank stew!

A couple of days after Brian returned, we were invited out to dinner at Jimmy Jokers restaurant. It is a chain of branded eateries, but the local managers seem to have a free hand. The special we were invited for was lamb shank – and it was very good. The weather stayed warm so we were comfortable eating outside.

Village house with washing

Village house with washing

Vicky and Graham rent a flat in Kas while Graham renovates his lovely boat Charlotte – he has been working on it for some time and it looks great! Vicky and I conspired to try to get some organised social life going in the marina. Most marinas have a room where yachties can go to meet, read, watch films etc. However in Kas the designers forgot to create anywhere like this, and despite another meeting with the manager (Tuncay) we were told there really wasn’t anywhere suitable. However he suggested we work with the two restaurants to get something set up. Our first stop was Meymekan who agreed to bring their “happy hour” forward so that we had enough time afterwards to get back to our respective boats and make dinner! Thursdays were set as the “social” happy hour get together. This was successful for the first few weeks, but has now dropped off.

The other restaurant is called Vati and has a very nice upstairs room which would also be suitable for events but we have not got any further with that one – there are really too few people yet to get anything going.

Moth hanging from a fender in the marina

Moth hanging from a fender in the marina

The weather stayed warm and sunny right through to the middle of November. However with colder nights in mind, one of Brian’s first jobs was to route our 240V electricity supply to the forward cabin so we have somewhere to plug in the electric blanket! It turned out to be fortuitous for the next major project.

Having decided to go out for a few days final sail, there was a mission to get a pumpout facility for our black water holding tank. Turkey has instituted a requirement for all black water to be pumped out at dockside stations, instead of into the sea and have a “blue card” system to police it. This is slowly becoming feasible as more pumpout stations are set up. We had previously been restricted to emptying our holding tank out at sea as we had no deck access to the tank. This was a major project. The only place to take the pipe from the holding tank to the deck was through our “wet cupboard” – a floor to ceiling cupboard forward of the main saloon. We use it for hanging our coats and wet weather gear, and then stuffing various odds and ends (including paint tins and my sewing machine) in and around the back. The work to get the pipe up through this cupboard meant we could think about putting shelves at the back and under the hanging area, including a strong support for the sewing machine which is very heavy. At the same time, Brian was able to re-route a lot of electrical cable and water piping to make the space under the seat more efficient.

New pump out piping and rearranged cables and pipes

New pump out piping and rearranged cables and pipes

He also moved the water pump down to the base of the cupboard, so it makes a lot less noise now. From start to finish it took us 8 days, with almost daily visits to the hardware store for more components. For example, we realised that to prevent the on-shore pump from damaging the manual pump’s rubber flanges, we needed a valve between the new pipe and the manual pump. With the size of the tubing this turned out to be fairly major!

Another unforeseen issue was that the breather tube from the tank was kinked right at the exit to the outside in the forward cabin so had to be fixed (necessitating me working from the dinghy to remove, clean and refit the exterior fitting) and the tank end fitting broke too! And all the headlining in the forward cupboard and the wet cupboard fell off and had to be cleaned and glued back in place you get the picture!

By the time we had finished another two weeks had gone by, punctuated by our first good storm – thunder, lightning, torrential rain and strong winds. Our saloon windows have started leaking again too – another job for the list.

Kekova bay castle

Kekova bay castle

By Tuesday 19th November we were ready for our last sail. We set off towards Kekova Roads, but as usual the wind was on the nose and the waves were quite high, so we ducked into Kekova bay itself and motored around to Gokkaya bay at the far eastern end. We had intended to head round towards Finike, but the following day there was no wind at all!

Gokkaya Bay - windless

Gokkaya Bay – windless

After all our hard work, it was too tempting to just rest at anchor for the day, sunbathe and do a bit of exploring around the bay. The forecast then looked poor for the Friday, so we headed back to Kas, tied up, filled up with diesel and pumped out our holding tank with bated breath! It worked perfectly and now we have an entry on our Blue Card – wow!

The rain arrived as forecast, so from 23rd November it has been getting progressively cooler – then Storm Alexa arrived last week! It was cold – about 5°C at night – and very strong winds and rain one night and day. We lost yet another cockpit cushion, despite having rescued one that had escaped earlier. Ah well. One night we had two fan heaters and the diesel heater going at once. Thank goodness for our electric blanket – lovely warm bed to climb into!

Gill & John on Petronella arrived back in Turkey on 23rd after a month in the UK so we treated them to roast lamb and strawberries and cream! The melon season is virtually over, but the oranges are now coming into their own, along with tangerines, strawberries, pears, apples, local bananas etc. The green cabbages on sale are massive, but there is always spinach, red cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, different root vegetables and salads. One day we bought some black carrot type roots – which is what they were! We had purple stew for a few days – very odd. Having grown our own Jerusalem artichokes we avoid those – a pain to peel and not that tasty.

Having said it was getting cooler, we still get the occasional warm day. Gill dragged a few of us out at the end of November for swimming and a picnic lunch on the beach opposite the marina. It was a bit breezy but the water temperature was surprisingly tolerable!

Lunch on the beach after our swim

Lunch on the beach after our swim

The boat has been “winterised”. Mainly this means we have stuffed dusters into the dorade vents to stop draughts and put the insulating mat over the companion way door! Other tasks included getting the dinghy out of the water, cleaning it thoroughly and putting it away. The makeshift seat came off and was sanded along with the gangplank which had developed flaky varnish. The former has been oiled and the latter is currently on its 5th coat of varnish. The outboard motor has been run with fresh water, the petrol tank emptied. The cruising chute has been removed from its place under the seat in front of the mast and together with the packed dinghy has been stored in Gill & John’s storage locker in the marina. We have mooring lines in all appropriate places to stop us moving too far sideways and to even out the strain. The boom has been raised so rainwater runs back down to the mast end. And that is abou it! Some people take all their sails off, but we have no storage place for them and they don’t seem to suffer that much as they are wrapped up in place sufficiently to not be too damaged.

Marina view to the east from Alixora

Marina view to the east from Alixora

I managed to acquire the task of ordering photovoltaic panels for friends on Blue Talisman and Petronella at the end of November through the company we had dealt with last May. My “friend” at TeraSolar answered my email, having ignored one from John on Blue Talisman, so it all escalated from there. I got all the specifications, ordered the panels and then found that payment again caused a problem – even John Needham’s Turkish credit card didn’t work. However the marina manager here was really helpful, phoning my contact and providing his own credit card information which did work. We reimbursed him in cash and the panels turned up a few days later much to everyone’s delight! Whew – that was a relief and I got a beer or two out of it.

The walking group stopped for tea break

The walking group stopped for tea break

We had gone out for a meal (rare occurrence for the inhabitants of Alixora) with John & Gill one night to a very pleasant restaurant in the old town. On our way back we met Dave Crann, the professional hiking leader, who told us he had agreed to start the Sunday walks the following week – much to our delight. So we set off on the first of the walks – a short hike along easy but very muddy tracks up in the hills to the north of Kas from Semsi to Sutlegen. As we were walking at 4,500ft it was freezing cold (-2°C) but bright sunshine and a great start to getting fit.

DSCF2688The second week we headed east to a walk around Sidyma – an ancient site which has been largely ignored but full of Roman remains. Again it was fairly easy going and again a lovely day. Somehow Sundays always seem to attract good weather – and it was a lot warmer this time.

The Canadian couple – Steve and Deidre – who had arrived the previous week on their boat White Star (and who we had persuaded to stay here for the winter) came along on the walk. I had obviously not explained it properly and they were surprised to find it was a whole day outing but thoroughly enjoyed it. We renewed acquaintance with several people who we had met on the walks last year – many of them Turkish with little English so our conversations remain a little stilted!DSCF2676

We have discovered that the main gas supplier in Kas will no longer fill our European Camping Gaz bottles. To make life easier we have now switched to Turkish bottles which are on deposit instead of having to buy them. However we found via some contacts in Finike that the chandler in the marina there will fill any bottles – I guess he has a friend who has set up a private refilling system in his shed! So John D , Brian and I set off for Finike one bright sunny day to refill both Petronella and our old bottles, and to meet up with Jimmy and Lyn who had stopped in Kas for a few days previously and had carried out the research on gas for us. We met up for an excellent lunch – mezes of roast tomatoes, onions and peppers with puffed up flat bread, then Turkish pizza (pide) and a soft drink all for about £4 each. The sun was shining and we enjoyed the trip. The chandler got our bottles refilled and back to us by 3pm and we headed back to Kas – a very fruitful day. Having wandered around Finike we all felt that we preferred Kas as a town! The marina in Finike has a very vibrant liveaboard community however, so we were a little envious of the facilities that have been developed for them. DSCF2679

One of the boat jobs this winter was to renew the shafts that the steering sheaves (big single pulleys) rotate on. There are two sheaves, one each side of the steering wheel down in the nether regions of the boat, and they take the cable from the steering mechanism turning it 90° to go to the big semi-circular quadrant that turns the rudder. Sounds complicated but is actually fairly simple! The aluminium bearings or shafts have got a bit worn over the years so the sheaves rock a bit and it seemed sensible to replace them. Getting them out is relatively easy, but as Brian removed the access panel, this caused all the headlining in the cabin to fall off! It had been hanging loose for some time I have to say.

The headlining is a vinyl leatherette fabric backed with dark grey foam and stuck to the fibreglass interior of the cabins, cupboards etc., frequently held in by wooden battens and wooden panels. The foam is now disintegrating so all over the boat we have rather saggy bits of this vinyl. It has been so well made however and is so intricately tailored that getting it replaced would be a really major job and beyond our own capabilities. So we scrape the foam off (very messy and dusty) both the lining and the fibreglass.

Tea time again

Tea time again

This itself is a fairly major exercise as bits of it remain quite well stuck and it clings to the fabric backing of the vinyl! With a big tin of contact adhesive, we paint it on both the vinyl and the fibreglass, leave it for the requisite 15 minutes or so and then press and hammer it into place. In confined spaces we have to come out for air quite frequently! Once back in place it looks fine, although the base of fibreglass makes the surface rather more knobbly than it was with the foam backing. Notwithstanding, at least it is held in place and not dropping on our heads and leaving grey dust everywhere.

So Brian spent at least 3 days sorting that out, and I made the first batch of chutney to replenish our stores.

Sunset over Kas Peninsula

Sunset over Kas Peninsula

Having removed the sheaves, we were about to set off to the engineer up the road, but found that he is having operations on his knees and won’t be back for a month. With this news, Brian has put the manual steering gear in place to stop the rudder swinging around!

Other minor tasks, which turn into major ones of course continue to be completed. Our friend Jeri offered her workroom as a sewing area so I took the sewing machine up there. First job was to patch our dinghy cover where the fabric had worn through by rubbing against rough harbour walls. As soon as I unpacked the sewing machine I found that the motor had come adrift of its clamps.

Broken motor bolts

Broken motor bolts

The nylon bolt ends had sheared off (probably when I trundled the machine to the car). Amazingly the local hardware shop had 4mm threaded steel rod which we needed to replace the bolts. A day later it was all fixed, no thanks to me who had forgotten to make diagrams of the motor before I took it all apart! But the machine is now back on the boat and I think will stay here.

Old columns now supporting the tree!

Old columns now supporting the tree!

It was tested out and worked fine today (21st December) to sew up Steve & Deidre’s boat cover where the stitching had rotted – as usual it turned into a bigger job than expected!

We continue to enjoy the wildlife in the marina. Black redstarts are quite common, along with multitudes of wagtails. I looked up the latter and they are properly white wagtails – the main genus of which the pied ones are a sub species and unique to the UK. Great tits are exploring the gaps in the end of booms – presumably checking out good nesting places. Occasionally we get goldfinches coming to eat the seeds of the marigolds in the marina flower beds.

Carved stone roof

Carved stone roof

The local duck population (domestic type) has expanded and sometimes wake us up demanding stale bread. However the marina staff have now put out a feeding station for them so they are less vocal. A wild mallard arrived one day, but we haven’t seen it recently. The fish circle, polishing off the crumbs of the duck food. We see a few tuna and garfish, but mostly they are grey mullet that feed off the weed growing on the pontoons and boat bottoms.

Technical Section

This is for those who really want to know more of the technical stuff that Brian has been working on in between all the other jobs! However as I get little input this is what I understand so far….

The internet is great for finding out how to mend broken electronics! Brian ordered and brought back a new screen for his Kindle that he had sat on a couple of years ago. Following detailed instructions, the Kindle was dismantled and put back together with the new screen and works fine again! However since he had bought an Archos tablet to replace the Kindle, I don’t know how much it will get used now. But the Archos had its own problems – the power socket came loose and therefore we couldn’t charge the tablet. So again the internet came in handy and it was taken apart and very fine wires soldered to the connectors inside and a regular USB socket attached with a nifty bit of arrangement on the back. While doing this, he felt that some improved magnification would be handy for these types of job! So he ordered a magnifying head torch which arrived later and helps a lot! It has been much admired. We await delivery of replacement micro USB sockets that will repair the Archos to full functionality. However he bought a new Acer tablet anyway, so I can play with the old one – not much progress there so far.

Electronics workshop

Electronics workshop

We cleared the chart table (normally the computer station) and his electronic kit is arrayed on it. The wiring behind the control panel had already been stripped of redundant lengths, but even more has now come out and connections tidied up! Part of Brian’s purchases included a neat little amplifier chip – our music was played through the computer to standalone speakers, but when running on the 12V power supply there was a horrible buzz that we couldn’t get rid of. So Brian has built an amplifier that sits below the control panel, with output to the existing built in speakers. These, we found, were getting a bit old and fuzzy, so he brought new speakers back to fit in the existing mountings. Somehow, it all connects up and we have yet another pair of speakers to store somewhere! He has built a switch to swap the speakers between the amplifier and the existing FM car radio, LEDs to show if it is on/off etc. The new speakers are loud and playing music from the computer is now buzz free even on 12V supply.

Control panel - wiring much reduced

Control panel – wiring much reduced

The next task is to work on the control panel itself. It consists of 2 tiers of electronics, with relay switches that are beginning to fail – not surprising after 25 years. Brian plans to replace the relays with mosfets (possibly) which will save a lot of power as well as make it more reliable. What is a mosfet you ask? It is a metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET) and is a transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. OK I copied that from Wikipedia, so you can go and look at the rest of the info yourselves!

New amplifier and wires

New amplifier and wires

Another plan is to construct busbars (a strip or bar of copper that conducts electricity within a switchboard, distribution board, battery bank or other electrical apparatus). At least one will go behind the control panel to take all the negative wires. Another one or two for the battery compartment to replace the array of plastic connector boxes. I will report on progress in the next episode!

So that is all for now. We hope you all have a good Christmas & New Year!

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