On arriving in Greece four days ago, as we were parallel parking our 17 meter (with bowsprit) Purrr into a 20 meter spot, between a Lagoon 450 and a 65 Ton wooden Gullet, in a 25 knot breeze that couldn’t make up its mind which direction it wanted to blow, I heard the pilot boat operator yell “too slow, faster, faster!” ….Purrr didn’t feel a thing, and neither did I, but I might have heard something, and the pilot boat operator claimed that the aft end of Purrr made contact with the Lagoon’s port bow as we were slipping past! Shit might have just happened!!
The Lagoon’s owner, a Turkish man living in Turkey without a local representative (a no-no!), sends two (very opportunistic) crew, from Turkey, to inspect the damage.
As amazing as it sounds, Purrr’s alleged little “kiss” allegedly cracked the front edge of the bow to the degree that it cracked right through the hull! More like a full-fledged catfight than a kiss! Yet not sure how we explain that no one, not the marina’s repair technician or the Lagoon crew could find even the smallest mark on Purrr. I always heard that Lagoons were, hmmm how should I word this?… “lightly” built, but this was crazy!
Pierre, the first hero of our story, and the marina’s fiberglass repair technician, quoted a whopping 300 euros to repair the damage, after which I took a very reluctant 3 seconds to offer to pay the full cost of the repair (without accepting any responsibility of course) so as not to get insurance, port police, etc. involved. Pierre said he was sure the Lagoon crew would be very pleased about this, he would convey this to them and that he could do the repair first thing the next morning so we could be on our way as planned later that day.
The next morning on arrival of the two Lagoon crew, we immediately attempted to discuss our little situation with them but they wanted nothing to do with us, in fact they were outright miserable and essentially told us to get lost. So, somewhat relieved at the cost at least, off we went to have a wonderful afternoon touring Kos.
We returned later that evening to one very upset Lagoon crew, who had, it seemed, missed his ferry back to Turkey and therefore was faced with spending a night in Kos! Why did he miss his ferry? Because he wanted to extract a ransom from us of course, in addition to the repair bill! He claimed the owner would not be paying him anything for coming over, so we needed to pay more than just the repair! He actually expected me to believe that the owner of a ¾ million dollar yacht wasn’t going to pay him to inspect his boat!!
As you might imagine, our conversation got a little heated. On hearing the commotion, the second hero of this story, Malcolm (skipper of the 65 ton Gullet in front of us and an expat Arminian Canadian living and working in Turkey for the past 15 years), decided I needed saving, and almost literally jumped into the picture. I owe a great deal of thanks to Malcolm. Not only did he expertly help me deal with the Lagoon crew, he also quite possibly kept me from landing in a Greek jail!! When all was said and done I had agreed to pay the scumbag, I mean Lagoon crew, another 100 euros in ransom. And, you may have noticed there was only one Lagoon crew; crew two we were told, was passed out drunk in his hotel room! We never did see drunken Lagoon crew again!
Next afternoon, after the repair was completed (yes, grinding and preparing, laying fiberglass, applying gelcoat, sanding and polishing, all done in about 4 hours!), we all met to settle up in the office of the third and most wonderful hero of this story, Antonis, the marina manager. Lagoon owner was to email a release to Purrr and the marina, and Purrr would pay repair and ransom. At least that is what was supposed to happen! All was well until Antonis tells us he is very glad that everything got settled for 350 euros (I thought it was 400!)! The lone remaining Lagoon crew had told Antonis the previous evening, before we had returned, that the full cost the owner would agree to, was 350 euros! Seems between then and when he met me on the dock he figured he’d try me for another 50! When Antonis heard this I think he was even more upset than I was! As far as he was concerned they had agreed to 350, and Mr. Buehler should and would not pay one cent more!! Needless to say, the crew was most unhappy about this, and after a telephone call to the owner, he reported to us that the owner wouldn’t agree to anything less than 400, even if it means calling the port police and getting insurance involved! Our hero Antonis then does something amazing! He very nicely informs the scumbag to tell his owner that 1) a yacht berthed in a marina in Greece must have a representative on board at all times, and because he didn’t have such a person on board, technically he would not be able to claim damages, and 2) even if he did win a claim, he would never be permitted to re-coup travel expenses (ransom) because of #1 above, and 3) if he didn’t like Mr. Buehler’s very generous offer, he would need to come to Greece himself immediately to remove his yacht from the marina, and no there would not be a refund of the remainder of the paid in full winter berthing!
Needless to say we settled for 350 euros!
We were prepared and offered to pay the 400 even after we found out about the 350 agreement just to get rid of this, but the manager was adamant that no one was going to blackmail anyone in his marina! Hats off to him. We wish there were more people like him in this world! And BTW, all of the Kos staff we met were wonderful. We highly recommend Kos Marina to anyone, and hope our travels will take us back again next year!
In the end, it seems the Lagoon crew was playing the owner off against us. He had told the owner that he had to pay for a hotel (which was a lie because the Marina gave them a room for free) and that he personally had paid a 100 euro deposit on the repair, which he hadn’t. This is why the owner was adamant to get 400. So the crew was trying to extract money from the owner at the same time as trying to extract extra from us! We had sent a one-page clarifying letter to the owner and the whole thing was over in minutes, with a very nice letter of appreciation from the Owner to both us and the marina!
So after an extra (no charge from the marina) day in lovely Kos, and an incredible dinner, recommended by Antonis, in what might be the best restaurant of our whole trip to date, off we went to our own private anchorage in a spectacular bay on Pserimos Island. Not two hours later during dinner, Sue broke a tooth on an olive! So back to Kos Marina we went!
One tooth temporarily repaired, another night on the town, a sightseeing excursion to Asklepion, the place where Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine was to have studied, and we were back to our beautiful private anchorage!
Never a dull moment Purring along!
Since our good friends Frank and Dian left us one short week ago, we managed to find one of the nicer, and certainly more interesting anchorages. We explored a small, not-so-touristy town and “landed” where we are today, on the hard in the largest marina we’ve ever been in yet, perched (uncomfortably) on stilts 10’ above what looks like to be about a 10 acre concrete yacht compound. We feel very small nestled among 15 or so superyachts and 30 or 40 various others. We are here for some unplanned but much needed “scheduled” maintenance and it seems, for Sue to entertain the yard workers as she tries, fighting physical against psychological forces all the way, to force herself up and down the 8 or so foot high ladder to get on and off of our boat!
After our friends left, we slipped away from the (very small) Mandalaya Marina (there were only 3 other boats when we left!) looking for a nearby comfortable anchorage where we could do nothing at all for a few days. This was the first time since moving aboard in Tunisa this past April that we had no one coming and nowhere to be for the next month and a half. This is going to take some serious getting used to time!!
One thing we found lacking here compared to the Caribbean, is a good cruising guide. The books we have are geared at giving you what you need to keep you alive (not a bad thing), and they have most of the pertinent information about how protected an anchorage is and type of bottom etc., which don’t get me wrong, is important to know (I haven’t found an anchor yet that will dig into a sheer rock ledge). They even tell a little about the towns and their harbours, but they do not describe nearly all the potential anchorages in an area, nor do they talk much about what kind of anchorage it is, like is there a beach, is it lined with beach clubs, or is it completely secluded, neat things to see and do in the area, etc. So we end up having to poke around ourselves sometimes, relying on more years of experience than I care to admit reading charts looking for good anchorages. It certainly paid off on this occasion. We stuck our nose into a couple of places that were not at all pretty before we found what would be our home for 4 nights/5 days, a nicely protected, unnamed bay behind Ziraat Ada (island), about 2.5 miles NW of the small town of Gululuk (at N37⁰ 15.244 E27⁰32.551).
It turned out to be a spectacular anchorage that we had all to ourselves the whole time we were there. The region is quite remote (compared to other places we’ve been), hilly and wooded to the water’s edge and relatively mountainous in the background, miles of area that is virtually uninhabited save for a few fish farm supply depos along the shoreline, and of course the ever spreading vacation village outcroppings that seem to be being built everywhere! We had spectacular views out over several miles of water (not typical in well protected anchorages) that lit up at night with the Town of Gulluk a few miles away in one direction and a shipping port for Emery ore (the abrasive rock used in sandpaper that Turkey and Greece are the world’s major suppliers of), off in another. There was always a freighter anchored in the distance giving the anchorage another, completely unfamiliar feel.
We did almost nothing for 5 glorious days other than swim (warmest water yet!), walk through the town, play scrabble and cards, edit pictures and write a little. It was awesome, and very hard to leave!
On the 4th day, when reality started returning and I started thinking about things that needed doing, I remembered that we had a little maintenance item that needed attending (I had been pushing it off for a month or so) on one of our Volvo Sail Drives. Sail Drives are part transmission and part drive shaft. They are the drive train part that takes the rotational energy from the engine and turns the propeller, which is attached to them. Sail Drives are used on catamarans and other boats where it is desirable to place the engines as far back in the boat as possible. They bolt onto an engine and go straight down through the hull of the boat, sort of like an inboard/outboard. Without them working properly we can’t do all kinds of cool stuff like go forward and backwards! So I looked up the nearest Volvo dealer who just happened to be in a marina not 15 miles from where we were anchored. He knew right away what we needed and told me it was an easy little job that would cost less than $300 (CDN – I’ll use CDN everywhere to keep it simple), which brought a very large smile to my face, until he added that the boat had to be out of the water for the work to be done, which deflated my smile faster than a popped balloon! So I called the marina to find out how much that would cost, and was very excitedly informed that we were very lucky as they were right in the midst of a promotion! We would get 15 days of free dockage with every haul out, which immediately caused an involuntary contraction in my sphincter! You see, I already knew that the cost at that marina for us to dock for one night was $210 (which is why we don’t do marinas very often!), and they were offering 15 nights for “free” with our haul-out! So in a matter of about 10 minutes I went from a $300 to almost $3,000 to do a 2 hour repair!!
But we really did need to get the repair done. If there are two things I learned in 35 years of operating trucks (with diesel engines and all kinds of mechanical stuff on them) don’t skimp on the preventative maintenance, and don’t hold off on a repair once you know it needs to be done! It can only get much more expensive if you wait! And, since it is not easy for us to find marinas that have facilities capable of lifting a boat as wide as ours (width is our problem, not weight or size), and since this marina is truly quite a good marina to come for a repair because it was one of the few “super-yacht” marinas around, and therefore has almost every type of service a yacht owner could dream of, just waiting to help him/her part with their money! And since we had a few other things that we wanted to get done that required a haul-out anyway. And since we wanted to see inland Turkey for at least a week which meant we needed a marina to keep our boat in while we take off in a rental car…. We figured “may as well” bite the bullet.
1 yacht + 1 yard with every kind of service + the onset of “may as well” syndrome, can only = expensive, or worse, very expensive!!! If one needs to do these things sooner than later anyway “may-as-well” amortize the haul-out costs over a few other to-do list repair items. I was starting to feel better, hell, if I could come up with enough projects I could argue that the haul-out didn’t really cost us anything!!! Wait a minute; I’m beginning to sound like Sue does when she finds a Nine West shoe store that has a sale on!!!! 🙂
So now I start looking to see what other preventative maintenance might be needed and find that in addition to the small ($300) seals, the main sail drive through-hull seal (the fittings that allow the drives to pass through the hull of the boat and that keep the ocean out and engines nice and dry inside – there’s a no-brainer PM) should be replaced every 7 years – hmmm, let me see, our boat is a 2008 + 7 = another $3000.
In addition to the sail drives, we had two through-hull valves that had started leaking… Yup, you guessed it — “may as well” replace all 5! The through-hull fittings are the connecting fitting that allow the inside of a pipe to gain access to the ocean – without of course allowing any of the ocean to spill inside the boat!! On our boat we have 5, one for each of our three head (toilet) holding tank discharges (the pipe that is connected to our holding tanks that allows us to dump our holding tanks when we are at sea – as opposed to keeping them open in an anchorage and discharging directly!), one for the water intake for the generator and our anchor and deck wash system (our seawater garden hose on deck) and one for the water intake for the water maker.
The water maker is one of the best inventions ever for cruisers, right up there with GPS. Without it, I’m not sure we would be cruising. It takes water from the ocean (that comes into the boat through one of our 5 through-hulls) and turns it into wonderfully fresh drinking, and showering, and washing water at a rate of about 140 liters per hour. In years gone by we had to go to a marina or town dock periodically to fill our water tanks. As you can imagine, that is very awkward and limits your ability to stay out at anchor incredibly, not to mention that it forces rationing! On Purrr we have never rationed water. We take showers as long as we like and as often as we like, and we even have the ability to switch our deck wash hose from seawater to freshwater and rinse the salt of the boat after a long or wet sail, which we have done numerous times. When it’s just Sue and I on board we seem to be using about an hour per day of water-making. And we have the added bonus of knowing that our water is always clean and drinkable. In fact we will not fill our tanks with water that we didn’t make ourselves.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is the bottom paint. Every two years a boat must have its bottom (the part that is always underwater) painted. Purrr’s pretty little bottoms were painted a year ago last April, so while we are out “may as well” give the bottom a coat of paint too! And, we had a minor repair to the dinghy to do (we are liking our new 18hp engine even better than we liked the 25!), and a few other minor odds and ends, all of which we hope to have done so we can be dropped (figuratively speaking) back in the water by Monday. I purposefully didn’t add up the cost of all of the above yet because I didn’t want to start crying!
Seriously, although I have not done my accounting yet, I am still fairly certain that the cost of these repairs, plus all the others we’ve done along the way this year (many of which are multi-year maintenance items, just like putting a new roof on your house), are going to come in at a very similar operating cost as we had/have with our house. In fact I think, once we are all settled in (after we get the new-to-us boat bugs out, we will be cheaper annually.
Enough of the technical stuff, and on to the best part of this whole adventure….. Suzie’s ladder adventures! Just when she started getting used to walking across the passerelle (the boarding plank used to get from one’s boat to the dock!), we go and put Purrr on a concrete pad 8’ above the ground, which yup, requires a ladder to get up and down! Not a problem at all for 99% of the population, but since Suzie is in the top .1 percentile of petrified ladder climbers, she has had quite a time of it the last couple of days! To add to her pain, the first thing the work crew did is cut out the valves for the heads, rendering them completely unusable, so poor Suzie has to climb down and up the ladder every time she wants to go anywhere – including the bathroom! On her second attempt yesterday, she was having such a hard time (which I couldn’t help her with because I was above photographing the events for the family album) that a painter working on a superyacht about 100 yards away came running to her rescue!! That was almost worth the cost of the haul-out right there!
So, the work is progressing and Suzie is planning our road trip next week, and although life is a bit different, all is good aboard sv Purrr.
Reprint of a Facebook post I did on September 9, 2015. Slight edits, now that the frustration of that day has worn off a bit!!!
We had an unusually exciting day today, even more so than usual. I’m not going to bore you with all the details – it would be too painful!!
03:00 Sue wakes to an unfamiliar sound. I assure her that it’s just the rising chop slapping on the dinghy that is floating just outside the boat about a foot from our heads, and turn around to go back to sleep.
03:00:15 I jump awake at the realization of what I had just said! I had forgotten to raise the dinghy on the davits before going to sleep, which means I left it tied to the end of the two ½” hoisting ropes sitting in complete darkness – because the thing I do right after hoisting our dinghy is turn on the cockpit lights for the night, and of course since I didn’t hoist the dinghy, I didn’t turn on the lights either. So our dinghy was floating behind our boat in pitch darkness! “WAS FLOATING” being the key words here!
03:01 I am in the cockpit with lights blazing staring at a void where our wonderful baby Purrr was supposed to be resting! Our dinghy was gone – stolen. Ropes and lock cut. Amazing how uncomfortable it feels to be anchored in the middle of a bay with no way to get to shore, except swim!
04:00, after an hour of slapping myself silly for forgetting to hoist the dinghy – for the first time every – I call it in to the coast guard, who tell us to stay put, they will send someone first thing in the morning. It wouldn’t be so bad had it been a “Martini” night, but it wasn’t, we hadn’t had a single drink! The anchorage was not the greatest holding and the weather unsettled – either one of those alone would be an alcohol deterrent! Nope, I had nothing/no one to blame but myself!
07:00, as the bay gets light we spot our now naked dinghy (stripped of its heart, soul and muscle – it’s engine, gas tank gone) bouncing on the rocks along the shore about 200 meters away.
12:00 we give up on coast guard (I’m sure they have much better things to do) and raise anchor to head closer to town so we can paddle (since our dinghy is too large and not meant to be rowed, so not even equipped with oars) to shore to make a police report, so that we have at least one hope in hell to have our insurance provide a little misery relaxant!
12:10 our anchor chain, at the hands of a somewhat pissed off skipper (in other words, a skipper that wasn’t paying proper attention), refuses to fall nicely into the locker, gets jammed, bends the 1/2″ thick stainless part that is supposed to guide the chain into the locker and then instead of dropping nicely into the locker, insists on binding itself up on the windlass like the windlass was Houdini just before his last jump into a tank. This of course renders our anchor even more useless than our dinghy!
12:30 – 13:30 circling the town harbour hoping someone will notice the predicament we were in, although how could they, our boat looks perfectly fine, and have mercy on us and leave the town wall so that we could have a space to tie up. Fat chance!
13:45 We squeeze between two giant earth mover tires (each one enough on its own to change the colour of our boat from white to black forever!) and tie up to a dock in the commercial harbour right across from the largest fishing trawler I have seen to date. No sooner did we have Purrr affixed to the pier when we were assaulted by a less than wonderful aroma of fish guts, empty beer bottles and rotting lunch bag leftovers. Since the alternative is to head to sea and set the autopilot to turn tight circles while we take turns sleeping and watching for freighter traffic, a smelly fish wharf didn’t seem so bad after all!
14:00 we find the first ray of sunshine (for me that is – since Sue had been quite occupied and feeling much better it seemed judging by her smile as she photographed the 20 or so bare-chested fisherkids that were working/showing off on the nets and posing for her pictures on the dock beside us), and as it turned out our savour of the day – Emrah Tasli. Emrah is a very nice young sailing instructor that worked for the Foca sailing club, and either Emrah took serious pity on us, or he just thought hooking up with us for the day could be better than anything else happening in Foca, and he didn’t want to miss any of the excitement!! Either way, he became our guide and savior of the day.
14:15 Emrah delivers us to the local stainless magician, who perfectly straightens the 1/2” thick piece of stainless, a part that is ironically if not appropriately, called the “breaker”, in less than 5 minutes! Our Breaker insisted, on several occasions now, to live up to its name, and bend/break itself into the shape of a hockey stick (for those of you that don’t know hockey, think check mark!) when it was supposed to stand proudly at attention and guide our anchor chain through the deck into it’s locker! (as long as the skipper pays proper attention, it will keep working nicely as it is supposed to, until the winter when we can do a proper repair!)
14:45 Emrah delivers us, and introduces us to the “highest police official” in the town, who by the way was all business. And since being an avid sailor himself and feeling sorry for our plight, he put at least 4 of his finest police officers on our case.
15:30 After almost an hour of statement taking and questioning by several of Foca’s finest, Two more of Foca’s finest, including one plain clothed CSI agent, delivered…. escorted us back to Purrr to inspect the crime scene and dust for fingerprints (seriously!).
18:30 Police, CSI and Emrah departed, and windlass monster tamed and ready to Purrr once again!
19:00 We untie and slip away from the fishing dock, and the many smiling young men, to head back to the scene of the crime for the night. At least they can’t steal our engine tonight!!!
01:00 (+1 day) We are finally about to go below to sleep! After spending 1 hour (19:30 – 20:30) peacefully at anchor; and the following 10 minutes (20:30 – 20:40) listening in amazement as the wind goes from about two knots to almost 30; about 3 more minutes (20:40- 20:43) looking at each other in amazement as we realize we are dragging our anchor and not so slowly drifting into deep water, in the same general direction the migrants would take; we then take at least 2 hours (20:43 – 22:45) to make four unsuccessful attempts (in 30knot gusts and complete darkness) to re anchor, each time lifting up enough seaweed to keep a chain of sushi restaurants supplied for 6 months – do you have any idea what it takes to clean 300 lbs of mud and seaweed off an anchor hanging 4’ beneath you with wind howling and the waves slapping against the hulls as your partner (very calmly and patiently I might add) steers the boat in circles!?!; another hour and a bit (22:45 – 24:00) motoring in no-moon-whatsoever-pitch-black-darkness (thank you radar, GPS and chart plotter!) around and between three deserted (so not even any shore lights to guide us) islands to anchor in the one place that we knew had good holding – the middle of a relatively narrow channel in front of a giant sailing resort that all the fishing boats and day-trippers in Foca use at least 3 times per day it seems, and that happens to be smack dab in the middle of the racing course that all of the resort dinghies, catamarans and windsurfers start using at 07:30.
At the end of it all – we have our Dinghy, we have two good prospects to get a new motor by early next week (if not before), our windlass is working better than it ever has, our anchor is firmly on its way to China (which means we are not going to drag it all the way to Greece, and can sleep!), We have a copy of a police report, we made a new friend, the boat is barely rocking – just enough to be pleasant, We have our running lights on, a red strobe flashing and the cockpit lights on, which make us look like a mini cruise ship, and the forecast is still saying that this wind will start to calm down any minute now!
I’m pretty sure that today is not exactly what we were thinking when we decided to live on a sailboat, but I guess all in all, it could have been a lot worse!!
click on the pics to see more…