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Winter Excursions and Work

February 4, 2014

I decided it would be a good idea to post an update now as we have been busy with excursions, walks and boat work.  The next couple of months will be consolidation and then getting the boat hauled out (booked for 3rd March) for a couple of weeks.  That will be hard work as usual and no time for slacking off.

Snow on the mountains close to Kas

Snow on the mountains close to Kas

At the same time, I am a bit stuck for things to do, as Brian is completing the major overhaul of the electrical control panel which precludes much other activity in the boat!  It is windy and dull too, so a good time to update you on our adventures.

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We had a great Christmas, having arranged with our friends Colin and Carol to house sit for them while they spent a week in the UK.  This of course means feeding Ziggy the dog and the multitude of cats, some of which are house cats and some are not!

It also means that we can work on the boat to do things that we can’t do while on it – in this case it was to repair the toilet base fixings and put new hinges on the toilet seat.  The latter was not a simple task – the old hinges had been fixed with iron screws which were completely rusted in.  They had to be drilled out and the resulting holes filled with plastic wood for the new screws to hold to.  At the same time we decided to re-paint the seat.  The first effort with gloss paint brushed on was not particularly aesthetic – a good thing I had only tested it on the underside of the seat.  Then John Douch (Petronella) told us that he had used car spray paint for the same job very successfully.  Of course the spray paint then melted the gloss I had put on – so Brian spent a while peeling it off before disappearing into Colin’s woodshed to complete the job in several layers.  It looks much better!

The toilet is held to the floor with four big bolts into the underneath layer of plywood.  Over the years water had seeped down and the plywood had become sodden and spongy in a couple of places – hence the problem.  The whole base of the toilet/shower area is a single moulded plastic form glued on top of the plywood, which is impossible to remove without dismantling half the boat.  So after a good deal of consideration, Brian made big holes around the original bolt holes and dried out the plywood over a couple of days.  I found a big tin of 2 part liquid epoxy in the chandlery.  Stainless nuts were placed in the bottom of the new holes and new bolts wrapped in teflon tape screwed into them.  Then we mixed and poured the epoxy into the holes.  Voilà – after extracting the bolts we had a very secure fixing to replace the toilet!

At the same time we managed to finish making two batches of green tomato chutney (one hot, one not) and early in the New Year I made the final batch of pear, ginger and apricot chutney which was so successful last year.  A few pots have been distributed to friends and neighbours already, but we have plenty now for another year.

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Great place for Christmas

Christmas day was great fun.  John, Jeri and I had colluded in getting Gill a sewing machine for Christmas.  I supplied the advice on what type to get, Jeri bought it from a big Turkish on-line store and took delivery, then we secretly took it up to Colin’s house for Christmas day and wrapped it up.  John and Gill’s daughters had come over for Christmas and they and John conspired to bring Gill to Colin and Carol’s house at lunchtime on Christmas day.

As I lit the wood fire and prepared snacks, Brian returned to the boat to collect a few odds and ends.  It was windy and cold.  He spied Bert and Aagje on their boat Boya looking miserable (they had returned to their boat from the Netherlands for a couple of weeks), so brought them back to the house for warmth, drinks and company.  So we had a house full once the four Douches arrived!  We directed Gill to the pile of presents we had collected (I had added a few for the rest of the family) and watched as she opened the big box – she was delighted and amazed that we had managed to keep the secret so well! In return the Douches had bought us a very pretty felt pot stand for our teapot!  Aagje gave us a set of wooden tulips too – we donated three to Colin and Carol and kept one (the red one of course) for Alixora – location to be decided.

And a huge kitchen to play in too

And a huge kitchen to play in too

Jenny and Emma (Douch juniors) had brought a pile of goodies with them that we had had sent to them in the UK – some proper “business cards” for us and some electronic goodies for Brian.  I got a set of small pliers wrapped up for my present!

Everyone admired the huge house (mansion) exclaiming on our good fortune to stay there.  However it does take a while to get used to having to walk yards from lounge to kitchen, climb stairs and corridors to get to bed and so on.  The boat is compact in that regard, if nothing else!

Bert and Aagje stayed for Christmas dinner (roast rib of beef) and overnight, but by midnight Bert’s allergy to cats had resurrected itself and he walked back to the marina – it took him an hour and a half.  Poor Bert.  The rest of the week was uneventful after all that excitement.  It remained cold and windy, one day raining so much the marina road flooded and the car barely made it through the water.  I spent that day in full wet weather gear out in the cockpit scrubbing old silicone off the toilet base and generally polishing it up.

Colin and Carol returned on New Year’s Eve so we cleared out before they arrived.  I managed amazingly to stay awake and went down to the old harbour where the walking group had arranged to meet.  We stood on the balcony of the restaurant where they had had dinner and had a good view of the fantastic firework display at midnight.  Brian stayed home with the beginnings of the cold that has been going around – he was laid low for a few days.

While we had been in the house I had taken all the saloon seating to the local upholsterer to refill with new foam so we were able to put them back in when we returned and now rejoice in firm cushions.

After that we decided to insulate the forward cabin roof and sides.  We had had a sheet of rigid foam insulation hanging around making a nuisance of itself for a while.  The task involved taking down all the wood veneer plywood linings from sides and ceiling, then fixing insulation to the gaps between.  As these are irregularly shaped and vary in depth it was quite an exercise. It was finally finished when I brought some new flexible engine insulation (foam with aluminium foil on one side and sticky on the other – much easier to fit) from Fethiye.

Inlet off Gokkoya bay, Kekova

Inlet off Gokkoya bay, Kekova

The Sunday Walk after New Year took place on a lovely warm day, along a fairly short route from Demre to Ucagiz, on the Kekova Roads bay.  Unfortunately our friend Ann (Sailaway) who had come for the first time fell and hit her head badly within the first kilometre.  She was patched up and I stayed with her to make sure she was OK as she stoically continued to the end.  She had stitches in the gash on her forehead when we got back (the tourist doctor, Munise, is the organiser of the walks so was on hand) and then an X-ray of her nose – which had a hairline fracture.  There wasn’t much to be done about that – Ann declined the offer to go to the hospital in Fethiye to have it checked out!  The bruises took a couple of weeks to subside but she is fine now.

The following week the organised walk involved a long bus ride, so we decided to go to Kyaneai instead (having driven up to the ruins a couple of years ago) and took John, Gill and Ann along.  This time we left the car at the beginning of the forest track and walked. It was about an 8 km round trip, so a good outing and no rocky bits for Ann to fall on!  Brian and I explored further than we had been able to before.  We all ate our lunch sitting in the ancient theatre – very scenic.

Lunch in the ancient theatre

Lunch in the ancient theatre

Gill and I organised a day trip to Fethiye and Gocek.  This wasn’t a girlie day out by any means.  We were armed with various lists of things to get and organise – a copy of Ann and Kevin’s dinghy cover to be made and Petronella’s to collect, electrical connectors, switches and insulation, new lifelines etc.  I took our hob pan support grill to see if we could get a stainless copy made.  The old one was chrome plated iron which had lost its plating and was rusting away.  We were successful on most counts and our new grill works very well – it cost about £15!  And Gill and I had a very nice lunch at West restaurant in Gocek too so we were very pleased with ourselves when we returned and delivered the booty.  I had also picked up some pork and bacon in Fethiye, so that made a change.  Gill and I bought fish from the market too – they packed it up in ice so it would stay fresh on the journey back.

View north from Kyaneai

View north from Kyaneai

As an example of the amazing generosity and trust of many businesses we deal with in Turkey, the yacht upholstery place (Akcabeller, where we have all now had our dinghy covers made) let me take a huge reel of red UV resistant thread away with me.  I wound a couple of hundred metres onto some spare bobbins I had, then took it back when we returned two weeks later!  They had also fixed the blind that cuts out the light from the forward cabin hatch, and didn’t take any payment for it.  On the other hand, they will happily charge you whatever they think they can get if you can’t be bothered haggling with them!

Early in the new year, Setur Marinas advertised an organised trip to Istanbul during the last week of February.  This is to catch the boat show, but they have also booked a guided tour of the old town and monuments.  We decided that this would be an ideal way to see Istanbul so have booked our place and Umit, the marina manager here booked flights for us as well at a very reasonable rate.

Gill and John left for the UK and then 3 weeks charter and hotel in the Caribbean with friends, having invited everyone they could think of for dinner at various times during their last week.  We returned the favour on their last night so they didn’t have to worry about leftover food etc.

The next day Brian and I went to Patara beach to see if we could spot any interesting birds.  We managed to see a lot more of the ruins too, and saw a marsh harrier, various small brown birds which we couldn’t identify, and possibly some pipits, again of indeterminate variety.

Huge ruined granary at Patara

Huge ruined granary at Patara

The Turkish countryside here is mountainous with flat valleys in the uplands between the hills.  The Turkish word for these flat valleys is a Yayla. The larger ones are cultivated with cereals, and often a few greenhouses on raised berms for the ubiquitous tomato, cucumber and courgette production.  During the winter many of the yaylas become waterlogged with great pools forming in the fields.  The local population just accept this and make sure they have suitable vehicles for getting around – tractors mainly.  The floods will bring more sediment from the mountains and increase the fertility of the fields.  Somerset might learn a lesson!

Yayla

Yayla

Farm buildings and tractor

Farm buildings and tractor

Brian started to work on improving the wiring on the control panel in earnest.  I spent a few hours fruitlessly hunting for 8mm M4 screws to assist the work.  I also began to work out a “holiday” itinerary to visit some of the bird and historic sites that we hadn’t visited before.  The plan was to take our spray hood to Akcabeller to have a copy made, do a bit more chandlery shopping in Gocek and Fethiye, then spend a week on tour, returning to collect the spray hood on the way home.  Tunahan, our friendly car hire chap had promised to let us have a better car if we were going on a long trip, so I booked that (a very nice diesel Renault Clio).  Then Steve and Deidre on White Star decided they would like to come along for a couple of days to Fethiye and would rent our old car while we were away.  When we arrived at Tunahan to do the exchange, he told them to just keep the car while we were away at no charge as he wouldn’t be renting it out anyway.  What a fantastic offer!

We set off in convoy on 22nd January, going to Gocek first for the chandleries and to run an errand for Gill & John.  Steve and Deidre arranged for a new guard wire and some brackets to be made and delivered back to Kas, we picked up a few more bits and pieces for the electrical work (yes, those 8mm M4 screws) plus a rather expensive new LED switched cabin reading light to replace one that had broken, and then had a good lunch in West restaurant – you can see a pattern developing here!  We need to get West to open an outlet in Kas I think.

West's strawberry and fresh lemon sherbert - yum

West’s strawberry and fresh lemon sherbert – yum

We dropped in to Akcabeller in Fethiye in the afternoon, returned the thread, picked up Ann and Kevin’s new dinghy cover and our blind, and enquired about getting the new spray hood.  Unfortunately, despite having the old one to copy, they felt that they would need to have access to the boat to do fittings.  As it is an hour and a half journey each way this wasn’t feasible, so we had to abandon that plan.  This also meant that a return trip via Fethiye wasn’t needed, so the anticipated pork fest was abandoned.

We managed to find the battery shop recommended to Steve and he was delighted to get just what he wanted.  Then wended our way to the wonderful Yacht Classic hotel for the night where we relaxed and had a good dinner after admiring the new cabins and swimming pools that they had been working on last year.

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Yacht Classic’s New cabins and pools – looking very smart

The next day we went our separate ways – we bought a new fender as the valves on a couple of ours are beyond repair, and found precisely the electrical cable that Brian had been searching for.  Strangely we discovered this is only to be found in automotive electrical repair shops – not in ordinary electrical shops or yacht chandleries!  Now we know…

We set off for Koycagiz, at the head of the big lagoon that leads inland from Kaunos and the rock tombs there which Jessica, Mark and I had explored by boat in 2012.  After lunch in the town centre we drove down the west side, keeping eyes peeled for marsh birds.

Koycegiz Lagoon

Koycegiz Lagoon

Those we could identify were tufted ducks, and a few smaller brown unidentifiable ones, but the area was rather barren.  On finding the Panorama Plaza hotel, which had a glowing write-up, we found it to be cold, we weren’t really expected and the booking for dinner had been forgotten.  However we were uninspiringly fed eventually.  The next morning we had to wait half an hour before even being brought tea and breakfast!

Tufted ducks

Tufted ducks

We set off promptly to go to our next destination of Bafa Lake and Miletus.  The weather forecast had been a bit ominous for the following day, so we headed straight to the ruins at Miletus and wandered around for a few hours – the only ones there apart from sheep, goats and the site workers.  The theatre is enormous, as is the rest of the site.

Miletus theatre

Miletus theatre

We were amused to find that the intriguing low pitched chirrups came, not from some strange water bird, but from a gang of turtles perched on the ruins of the agora which has sunk beneath the water table.

Singing Turtles

Singing Turtles

Agora and temple

Agora and temple

Later, Brian spied a woodpecker as it hunted for insects just before we ventured into a ruined temple.  Possibly a Syrian one (the woodpecker, not the temple). Miletus used to be a harbour, but the whole area has silted up and it is now some miles from the sea.  It has a lot of history that you can find on Wikipedia.  Brian noted that we were about 17 miles from Pythagorio, Samos!  A tour of the dykes and fields around the site didn’t show up any further interesting birds though and the clouds began to gather.

We set off towards our next hotel that I had booked for two nights, hoping for a better reception.  After splashing our way up a country road we found Silene Pension where we were welcomed enthusiastically and offered a very nice room overlooking Lake Bafa.

Lake Bafa

Lake Bafa

The heating worked and the communal dining/lounge area had a great wood stove that pumped out constant warmth.  A trio of Japanese young men were there too – buried in their iPhones most of the time – and were rock climbers.  The evening dinner exceeded expectations, with great mezes, good food (I had a very nice trout) and fruit for dessert – what a difference.  Breakfasts were similarly excellent.  Tea and coffee was constantly available on a self-service basis.  We retired full and content.

The next day dawned a bit cloudy, but brightened up and we thankfully abandoned the car and set off on a walk aiming at the headland around the corner.

Ruins among the reed beds

Ruins among the reed beds

Small fishing boats had set off as we watched from our balcony.  The locals herded their cows, sheep and goats along the muddy road and chickens clucked below us.  We noted the sensible attire of the workers – big wellies and woolly hats.

Lake Bafa is a nature reserve, and although mid-winter isn’t prime bird watching time we were thrilled to see all kinds.  Again, lots of small brown birds, but the resident flamingos were there and hundreds of coots that splashed off in a great hurry as soon as they saw you.  Herons perched on ruins on the small islands.  Buzzards (long legged we think), a couple of kingfishers and another marsh harrier.

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Long Legged Buzzard?

Western rock nuthatches bobbed about too along with scores of sparrows, chaffinches, goldfinches etc.  The sun shone, we cast off all the warm clothes and got sunburnt!  Eventually after negotiating our way through the muddy lanes we managed to get to the rocky peninsula, almost to the end before being cut off by a small stream that we couldn’t cross on the shoreline.

Waterfall, Lake Bafa

Waterfall, Lake Bafa

The east side of the lake is surrounded by weird smoothed rock formations.  There are ruins to explore (but we didn’t) and a fine mixture of pasture and orchards on the small areas of flat land between mountains and lake.  We scrumped some oranges (bitter) and tangerines (sweet) to augment our rather frugal packed lunches.

Weird Rock formations

Weird Rock formations

After finding an alternative route along the beach close to the flamingos we returned happy to the hotel for another excellent dinner.  We were sad to leave the following day, but had a long drive to Pamukkale, our next stop.

It was a rainy day but an interesting drive up the fertile valley that runs all the way from Miletus to Denizli. The reason for the proliferation of ancient towns was made obvious.  We arrived at Ozbay hotel close to the entrance to the Pamukkale travertine terraces.  Again it was welcoming and very warm – radiators in all the rooms no less.  A restaurant cum social area offered free tea and coffee and each room had a kettle and drink supplies. Wonderful! Brian found that the internet connection was excellent so as it was wet we spent a lazy afternoon browsing the internet, uploading new applications to his new android tablet and generally relaxing.  Dinner that night was good too and we slept well after our excursion of the day before.

In the morning, after a good breakfast, we headed up towards the travertine terraces as instructed by the hotel manager.  We didn’t know that to cross the terraces as he had recommended we had to remove shoes and socks and wade!

Misty walk up the travertine terraces

Misty walk up the travertine terraces

However the water running down the slopes was mainly (not always) warm – the hot springs are a feature of the region.  It took about ½ an hour to clamber up the rough ledges. The day had started very misty, but it slowly cleared and gave some wonderful effects of the sunlight glinting off the pools formed by the calciferous water that has built these wonderful white terraces over thousands of years.

Reflections off the pools

Reflections off the pools

The water steamed gently in the cold air.

Steam rising

Steam rising

Finally we reached the top, put on our shoes and socks and as the clouds and mist cleared we set off to explore Hierapolis.

The ruins are extensive – we worked out a route from south to north in a big circle, veering east up the hill past the theatre (very impressive when you see the inside) and up towards the St Philip temple and mausoleum.

Hierapolis theatre

Hierapolis theatre

Then we headed across the hills past numerous tombs and another theatre that has not been excavated. The panorama of the ruins below us, with the travertine terraces and then the valley was stunning.

View from the slopes down the valley

View from the slopes down the valley

We headed down to the north end of the ruins, then south along the main ancient thoroughfare.  Again we were surrounded by hundreds of big and small tombs, including a few tumuli.  The dead were laid on benches inside, and the tombs were re-used over the centuries.  I guess the bones of the previous occupants were shovelled below the benches, or placed in ossuaries.

Tomb with bench

Tomb with bench

We spied a pair of western rock nuthatches building a mud nest in one of the crenellations in a pillared parade – I don’t know how long they will be allowed to stay!

Nest building nuthatch

Nest building nuthatch

The excavated fountains and other municipal buildings along the route were extraordinary.

Fountain alley

Fountain alley

The site continues to be excavated and they have provided excellent computer generated pictures of how the buildings used to look. A rare and valuable aid.

Northern Gate

Northern Gate

We stopped for a snack lunch at the outdoor café, but then found we could have had something more substantial at the Ancient Pool café, having discovered that the museum which would have been our final destination was closed on Mondays.

Ancient Pool, with bathers

Ancient Pool, with bathers

Eventually we tired and wended our way to the south entrance, deciding that we didn’t want to venture down the wet terraces again.  The route back to the hotel behind the terraces was interesting.  The hard water overflowing from the main site built up narrow winding banks above the base rock and ran along the top – opposite of the usual gouging a path downwards.  It looked artificial.  Well, the whole place looks artificial!

More terraces

More terraces

Tuesday was cold and looked wet, but we piled into the car and drove to Aphrodisias, retracing our route of a couple of days before.  There is a geothermal power plant on that road, looking very shiny and new.  Looking it up I found it was completed and opened only last year.  As well as generating electricity, it heats some of the surrounding villages and also manufactures dry ice.

Courtesy of my sister, Jessica, we had an illustrated book on Aphrodisias which we had read before setting out.  It was fascinating again to see a huge site created by Romans and then enhanced by the subsequent generations and invaders.  The founder, Zoilus, was a slave of Julius Caesar and manumitted (freed) by his son Octavian.  Zoilus was a native of Aphrodisias, returned to build the city and supported Octavian against Mark Anthony.  This ensured its continuing prosperity.

Tetrapylon Gate, Aphrodisias

Tetrapylon Gate, Aphrodisias

Again we roamed the site, this time from the north with lunch on the terraces of the massive stadium, veering west and then south, attempting to see all the ruins.  The rain held off – we were lucky.

Stadium

Stadium

The Agora was huge, with an adjacent public meeting area with an enormous pool in its centre.  They are just excavating the pool and you can start to see its dimensions.

Public area with huge pool

Public area with huge pool

It was interesting to read that some areas had started to flood during the construction, so they just made a feature of it!

Flooded area, made into a feature!

Flooded area, made into a feature!

The pillared sanctuary has been partly restored to give a small sense of the wealth of the place.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Eventually it was time to leave, but we did manage a tour of the museum to view the statues on display.  Aphrodisias was a centre for sculptors, hence the proliferation of stone ornamentation and statuary.

This was the last day of our “holiday” – we decided to head for home the next day, via Salda Lake which is an alkaline lake with some unique birdlife and “hydromagnesite” sedimentary rocks.  When we got there it was blowing hard, the ferruginous pochard (ducks) had gone into hiding and we just saw a couple of ravens flying over the road.

Salda Lake

Salda Lake

We were  pleased to get back to the boat – although it means getting back to work.  As mentioned, Brian continues to improve the wiring in the control panel.  As there was a lot to report, I decided it would be a good idea to get our last month’s events written up.

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