It was Sunday, mid-January 2022, and the yacht brokerage company that I work with in Burnt Store Marina was closed but one person got my name and phone number and called me to ask if I would be interested in selling his yacht. I answered that I would be there in five minutes.
When I arrived at the office, a young man in his forties introduced himself. Let’s call him Louis. He struck me as very weird. He looked like the banjo boy from the movie Deliverance all grown up. Very weird vibes…
Louis told me that he had bought this yacht the week before from another broker, whose name I will not mention. He wanted to escape the Apocalypse (no… I am not making this up). Louis, who does not know the first thing about sailing and sailboats had decided to buy a $400,000.00 super sailing yacht to escape it all because he was convinced the Government was after him and that the Apocalypse was about to happen.
The yacht had been owned and kept at the dock of a gentleman who had done a circumnavigation on her and he wanted now to buy a power boat. He hired the broker to sell her and then came Louis who bought her at $500.00 below the asking price. Apparently, a cash deal.
The seller wanted the yacht off his dock, but Louis did not know how to handle this boat and finally the broker and the seller moved her to the transient dock of Burnt Store Marina, here in Punta Gorda, and that is where Louis found me.
As this whole deal stunk to high heaven, I started asking him questions about his plans, where he was from, how he was going to learn to sail, etc. I figured that either he must have inherited a large sum of money or gotten some other kind of windfall. I understood that he is on disability following an accident. He kept on ranting and raving about the apocalypse, and it was obvious that this guy had a mental problem.
What I did not understand is how a broker could have such a lack of ethics to sell a very expensive yacht to a person who, under normal circumstances, should be institutionalized. How in the world can you tell a person with a mental disability that it is OK to buy such a yacht and take his money? This is so flagrantly unethical and it almost reeks of abuse of a mental patient. Like stealing candy from a baby. Two friends of mine who hold degrees in psychology had quickly diagnosed poor Louis with paranoid-schizophrenic disorder and he definitely should not be on the loose. This guy is a danger to himself and his surroundings.
What made it even worse is that Louis, who by now was aware that he would never be able to sail that yacht, called the selling broker and asked him to put his boat back on the market, one week after he had bought her and this at the same time that he was asking me to sell her.
So, the yacht was sitting there at the transient dock of the marina, but Louis does not have insurance and the marina wants him out by the end of January. No slips available anywhere in southwest Florida. Louis is in a monumental pickle, and I suggest that he bring the yacht to a haul-out and storage place where she will be safe until he figures out how to handle all this. He tells that to the broker who scares him by saying that I have no yacht broker’s license or bond (not true) and that, if he hauls the boat and stores her on the hard, the sun will destroy his yacht in the shortest time. Louis panics and, in his state of mind, there is no way to reason with him.
I told him that, under the circumstances, I could not be of any further assistance. Before I left him, he asked me to check the A/C outlets. When I climbed on board, he pointed to a big shiny stainless-steel object and asked me what it was. I explained the use of the winch for him… Hopeless…
I went below to check on the A/C outlets, I saw the door to the head open. I asked him if he was using the head on board or if he used the marina facilities. He was filling up the waste tank and had no clue how to empty it.
The craziest part of all was that, when I asked about the British standard outlets, he knew enough about the story of the yacht to tell me that the seller had bought her in Barcelona from a previous owner who was a British Doctor and who had brough the yacht from the States to the Mediterranean. I knew right there that this yacht originally came out of our marina. The previous owner of my old charter company here had sold that yacht to this Doctor right at the time that I bought the charter company and I remember her at our dock. “Pelican”, although under a new name, was still as beautiful as in 2007 and impeccably maintained. It is a very small world, indeed.
Last I heard is that she might already have been sold again, and that Louis had left in his car for Montana where he is looking for a place to survive the Apocalypse. I never checked if he had a banjo…
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Apocalypse-1.jpg600800adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2022-02-02 15:17:482023-04-27 17:29:40THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING!
Post-pandemic life is starting to become more or less normal again.
After an exciting cruise in the Gulf of Fethiye in Turkey, we came back to the USA for two weeks and were on our way back east to Italy for the ASA Tuscany cruise.
Getting up on June 29 at 04:00 to catch a 07:00 flight from Ft. Myers to Dallas, for our connection to Rome, is not exactly my idea of fun. I am not an early morning person, and the attitude of the TSA agent did not help to get me in a good mood.
What is it with TSA agents in the States that they must show off their “power” by shouting and yelling? You do not see that in other countries. We had this tattoo-covered guy standing in front of the luggage scanning machine barking “90 degrees, turn the trays 90 degrees” while not making eye contact.
What an image we must project to foreign tourists visiting our country…
After spending the entire flight from RSW to DFW asleep, we had a five-hour layover in Dallas. We took the Skytrain from Terminal A to Terminal D and had an overpriced and mediocre airport breakfast there.
Before we left our house in Punta Gorda, I could not find my noise-cancelling headphones and, as there is no way that I was going to spend thirteen hours on a plane with screaming kids without being able to cancel them out, I ended up investing in $150.00 Skull Candy Bluetooth headphones. It ended up being a great investment with that raging rug rat (RRR) two rows behind me.
The flight time between Dallas and Rome was spent sleeping and reading Tom Clancy’s “Locked On” novel while drowning out the RRR’s screams.
I am still amazed at the senseless mask regulations on airplanes. In order to be allowed to board the plane to Europe, you must show a negative COVID test which means that everyone on board is “healthy”. I would assume that many are also vaccinated. The air on the plane is cleaned and renewed every few minutes. Why the face pampers, as I call them? On top of that, the virus must be the dumbest thing alive not to take advantage of the fact that we all take our masks off for over thirty minutes during dinner and breakfast on board. Call me a rebel, if you wish…
The thump of the wheels at touchdown in Rome pulled me out of my uncomfortable sleep.
Getting through immigration and customs in Italy was a non-event. We had filed our negative COVID test results and our European COVID tracking documents electronically.
We collected our luggage and headed for the train terminal, bought our tickets to Follonica, the closest station to Scarlino, and boarded a super clean and fast train to Roma Trastevere station where, half an hour later, we got on the connecting train to Pisa. Two hours later, we arrived in the small station of Follonica and, after a short taxi ride, finally reached our hotel, La Darsena, in walking distance from the charter base. It had taken us over twenty-four hours to make the trip, door-to-door and, after a quick shower, we crashed for a good four hours of sleep.
The following morning, Thursday, we had breakfast at the hotel and went for a walk to the marina.
Except for one or two unbooked sailboats, the charter base was empty. Business must be good.
Back at the hotel, I spent the rest of the day taking care of answering emails and booking yachts for our flotillas in Croatia and the Seychelles while the Admiral was, doing bookkeeping, arranging for payments of the charter boats, and doing other administration tasks.
We took a break for lunch and found this small fish store that doubled as a takeout restaurant with a few tables outside. The food was amazing, and they had an impressive choice of the freshest fish.
It was so good that we returned the following day for more.
Across the street from the fish store, there is a trail that goes into the national preserve of the Maremma. This part of the country is a mixture of agricultural fields, forests and swamp and is home to the Butteri, the Italian version of cowboys who herd their longhorn cattle there. The only other place in Europe that I know where they have these “cowboys” is in the French Camargue.
We hiked for a few miles on a boardwalk in the swamp to a blind from where we could spy on the local birds, after which we headed back to the hotel for more work on our laptops and a short siesta.
That evening we had a delicious dinner in one of the restaurants in the marina.
Well rested on Friday morning, we had breakfast at our hotel, checked the emails and went for another walk to the marina for some shopping in one of the local stores.
Scarlino marina is a modern and luxurious place, home of several excellent eateries and pricey shops.
There are three or four charter companies here and they have a well-equipped boat maintenance and yacht storage facility. It is only a few hours sail from our first destination, Porto Azzurro on the island of Elba.
Friday night, we had dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Il Veliero, with our Boat Mates, Bob and Cathy from Lake Tahoe.
I introduced Bob and Cathy to my favorite dish, Tagliatelle al cinghiale or tagliatelle pasta with wild boar. Lots of tagliatelle but not much boar…
Many Prosecco’s and a few wine bottles later, we headed back to our hotel, a fifteen minute walk.
Saturday morning, after our breakfast buffet at the hotel, we packed our stuff, checked out and schlepped out luggage from the hotel to the marina where we had to wait until the afternoon to get checked in on our yacht, a Sun Odyssey 479. Spacious and comfortable. We did our provisioning at the well stocked supermarket in the marina and, when getting back to the boat, we were told that she was ready for us to board and get settled.
Having verified during check-in and vessel orientation that all the systems on board were working, we dropped the lines for our 18NM crossing to Porto Azzurro on the island of Elba. Wind on the nose and motorsail all the way.
We had sent an email to the local port authority asking for a berth for the night but, when we arrived there, all dock spaces were taken, and we ended up at anchor at the entrance of Cala di Mora. There were already lots of boats on the hook and we had to do quite some maneuvering to make sure that we would be safe for the night. Secure at anchor now, this called for a celebratory drink of wine after which we got in the dinghy and went to shore to have dinner at our favorite place, our friend Umberto’s Pegaso restaurant on the waterfront.
We were received with open arms after the long 2020 absence. My favorite food that night was the marinated anchovies followed by a Pizza Mediterranea with mussels and more anchovies. A half-liter of beer helped wash down my meal. I wish I had some poetry talent in me so I could write an ode to the humble anchovy, one of the greatest gifts from Poseidon, God of the seas. Umberto came to sit at our table for a chat and shared his best grappa with us. This after dinner drink went down very smoothly and, if I had consumed a few more, maybe I would have made an attempt at poetry.
Back to the boat in the dark for a well-deserved night of sleep. And end of day one.
Sunday and our destination of the day is Portoferraio, a lovely city where Napoleon lived in exile for a short period of time before having the bad idea to return to France, raise an army again and then finally be clobbered into submission at Waterloo.
The locals still keep him in their hearts because he helped make – albeit unknowingly – Elba into a major tourist attraction. During his stay he even gifted the island with its flag, which they still use today. A white background with a diagonal red stripe in which there are three bees, Napoleon’s animal symbol.
Again, there was almost no wind and we had to motor most of the way to Portoferraio. We decided to stop for a lunch and a swim in the bay of Calvo. A colorfully painted Moby ferry was docked unloading and loading cars and passengers.
Before our trip to Italy, I had bought a drone and I had spent quite some time, prior to the trip, practicing flying and maneuvering it. So, now was the moment to put that practice to work. I put the drone on the swim platform and off it went towards the Moby ferry when I realized that it was not taking pictures.
I turned the drone around and tried to make it land again on the swim platform. Easier said than done and I had no other choice than to try to grab it by hand. HUGE mistake… Those little props are deadly weapons and they cut deep in my fingers. Blood splattered everywhere on deck… It was a painful mess.
Fortunately, Damien the possessed demonic drone finally stopped, and we almost threw it overboard.
Mila had to dig up the first aid kit and started bandaging my fingers. It would take a good week for them to heal completely. After having turned my fingers in mummy-like bandages, she now had to clean the blood from the crime scene. Needless to say, I was of no bleeping use for the rest of the day and would not be handling any lines for most of the rest of the trip.
Damien was returned to his bag. We may give him another chance in Sardinia. Maybe taking off from and landing on a catamaran will be an easier job.
We weighed anchor in Calvo and headed for Portoferraio.
Its waterfront is very colorful and picturesque and, once you get through the main gate by the port, you enter the old city. Right there, on the left-hand corner is my favorite gelato place. Just great ice creams… So many flavors and so little time. I needed a big one for medicinal purposes after my drone disaster.
Later that evening, we had dinner in a trattoria next to the main gate. You just cannot get bad food in Italy.
We wandered back, along the waterfront to our yacht. During the day this is a busy street with a lot of traffic but, after six o’clock or so, it is for pedestrians only. Plenty of ice cream-licking people watching the diners sitting at the terraces of the restaurants and vice-versa.
We pulled in the gangplank of the boat and went to sleep but not before a last drink, again for medicinal purposes only, of course.
Monday morning, after some provisioning and after withdrawing money from the local ATM, we paid our docking fee and pointed our boat to our next port of call, the island of Capraia, 26NM away on a 303 heading.
The island is a national park and only has one small fishing port that is increasingly becoming popular with cruisers. You have the fishing port, and you have the village with the fortress overlooking it from the other side of the small bay.
There are a few restaurants in the fishing village of which two are really good. Surprisingly, there is only one restaurant in the hilltop village. Mila and I had taken a small bus to the upper village (Euro 0.80 R/T) and wanted to have dinner there but there was no table available without reservation.
Back to the waterfront… Same story. We only found one place where were given a table inside and the food was good but not that great. Beggars cannot be choosers.
Meanwhile Bob and Cathy who wanted to have a romantic dinner, just the two of them, had a delicious meal at a place where they had made a reservation. Oh well…
We awoke a bit late on Tuesday and Bob and Cathy had decided to walk from the lower village to the upper and back. A good way to shake off some of the sea leg stiffness. When they came back, we sailed to our favorite swimming anchorage on the island, Cala del Moreto, on the southside of the island just behind Punta del Zenobito. On the eastside of the point there is this strange geological phenomenon where two different type of rock meet. One is dark red from the iron ore and the other looks greyish like your average granite. Imagine the forces of nature at work here millions of years ago when these islands were trusted up from the bottom of the sea.
Refreshed after our swim, our next destination was Marciana Marina, 20NM away.
A bit of wind to start, then motorsailing again… We will have to sacrifice one of the crew members to Aeolus, God of the Winds…
When we arrived at Marciana Marina, and notwithstanding our previous emails requesting a reservation, there was no space at the docks. Fortunately, they have a very nice anchorage near the entrance of the marina. We dropped the hook, opened a bottle of white wine and watched the show of all the boats coming in for docking and anchoring. Quite a show… This was amateur hour. It is amazing how many sailors have no clue about anchoring.
Bob and Cathy went ashore with the dinghy looking for a Wi-Fi connection to reschedule their travel plans to Corsica. Mila and I stayed on board and watched the clown show.
That evening we had dinner in our favorite restaurant in Marciana Marina, Affrichella, located on a cute little square behind the main church, then back to the boat for a well-deserved rest.
Wednesday morning, 06:15; a loud bang against the boat made me jump out of my berth and go topside where I saw a 46’ Jeanneau clanging its anchor against our starboard aft pulpit. I had noticed this boat come in last night and anchor out on the forward port quarter of our boat. I had my doubts about their decision to anchor so close to us and here they were after their anchor had slipped.
I tried to push their boat away with my bandaged fingers and put a fender between us.
Mila came up first followed by Bob. The neighbor’s chain was now under our hull. I told the skipper of the other boat to release more chain to free our hull and moved our forwards, until we were free, then told them to raise their anchor and get out of there.
They finally motored away and dropped their anchor about 200m from our boat. I saw that our pulpit had been damaged and jumped in the dinghy to get their insurance information because they had damaged the pulpit.
They may have screwed up their anchoring, but they were friendly folks and gave me all the info I needed to pass on to my charter company. They will solve it…
Of course, no more sleep after this. We had planned to stay another day and go to the top of Monte Capanne, the highest point of the island but clouds were rolling in and Bob and Cathy said that they preferred to go back to Porto Azzurro as they had so much enjoyed Umberto’s hospitality and cuisine.
So, Thursday morning, we sailed back to Porto Azzurro. We had some really good winds and truly enjoyed the ride. I had made sure that we had a place at the wall this time.
On the way, we passed Calvo again where Damian the Possessed almost amputated my fingers.
The colorful Moby ferry was at its jetty again, but we easily resisted any temptation whatsoever to stop and take the drone out. Onwards to Porto Azzurro…
We arrived in the port basin and called the harbormaster for our dock assignment.
He could not find our reservation and we had to bob around for about fifteen minutes before we finally got our yacht at the wall.
As soon as we had settled in, we walked to downtown and made reservations at Pegaso.
Millie and I walked around a bit, then sat down for an Aperol Spritz at a café on the main square.
Life is good.
At 19:30, we showed up at Pegaso’s for a delicious meal and, yes, we ate basically the same thing as last Saturday. Umberto was running all over the place. This guy is amazing, a real human dynamo, supercharged, but he found the time to sit down with us to chat and have us enjoy two grappa’s each for the guys and limoncello for the ladies. We then went back to our boat for our last night before returning to the base.
Early on Friday, Bob and Cathy went for a last walk and we then dropped the lines to return to Scarlino but, first, we had to go to the marina of Punta Ala because the fuel pump in Scarlino was broken and we had to return the yacht with a full tank. .
We had a great sail all the way, clocking over seven knots. What a way to end this cruise!
After having refueled in Punta Ala, we went under jib only for the last five miles to Scarlino. Even with the headsail only we still reached over five knots.
We parked our boat for the last time and made arrangements for Bob and Cathy to get a taxi to the train station. They needed to go to Livorno to catch the ferry to Corsica. We will see them again next week in Sardinia.
Mila and I stayed on board for the night and got checked out the following morning.
Dragging our heavy luggage for half a mile under the blazing sun to the hotel was no fun and, after check-in, Mila immediately started taking care of the laundry while I checked all the unanswered emails.
Around 13:30, we went for lunch to our favorite little fish store. Back from lunch, Mila started working on accounting and administration while I took a two-hour nap.
A few more hours of working on the computer and then dinner at a small deli around the corner from the hotel. A bottle of delicious local red wine, a wild boar mousse, a selection of tasty local cheeses made for the perfect finale of our stay in Tuscany.
Next stop Sardinia.
Join us in September of 2022 for our next Tuscany flotilla.
Capt. Jean De Keyser
July 10, 2021.
On July 11, we took the Moby ferry from Piombino to Olbia in Sardinia.
Many of the Moby ferries are highly decorated, inside and out with Loony Tunes and other popular characters like Batman, etc.
We were on the Moby Aki where a large fiberglass rendition of Sylvester the Cat welcomed us at the reception desk.
The ferry carried cars, commercial trucks, campers and motorbikes as well as regular pedestrian passengers. Most of the passengers hung out on deck or in the restaurant and bar areas where there were even playgrounds and arcades to keep the kids busy.
We had decided on renting sleeper seats in a special quiet area of the ship and, from the portholes, we could see, during the passage, our sailing grounds off Elba.
The ship got even close enough to Montecristo so we could get some decent pictures. No Count of Montecristo to be seen. The island looked pretty desolate and rocky but, if you want to learn a bit more about its very interesting history, you should check out the Montecristo Wikipedia page.
After a five and a half hours, we finally arrived in Olbia and took a taxi to the apartment we rented for a few days. More information on our stay to follow.
Capt. Jean De Keyser
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Portoferraio-260x1461-1.jpg146260adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2021-07-13 13:06:062023-04-25 15:10:05OUR ASA TUSCANY AND ELBA CRUISE WAS A BLAST!
After a thirteen-hour long flight from Miami to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, with screaming kids in the row across the aisle from my seat, we arrived in what I would call the hair implant capital of the Middle East.
Nowhere else have I seen so many men walk around with partially bandaged heads following a hair implant surgery. They were at the airport and visiting tourist attractions. They were everywhere. Somehow, I prefer to remain bald… Bald is beautiful and way less painful…
We took a taxi to our Airbnb in the Taksim Square area. The house was located in a small alley at the bottom of some streets from the main drag. It looked a bit like Montmartre in Paris.
Independence Avenue with all the luxury stores was nearby and, although there was a COVID lockdown in effect with all restaurants closed for sit-down dinners, we found one that let us come in for a delicious dinner. Someone must have greased the hands of the local lockdown enforcers.
An adorable little red tram runs from one end of Independence Avenue to Taksim Square on the other end.
The following morning, we visited Taksim Square and took a cab to the Fatih neighborhood to visit the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi museum. As soon as we got out of the taxi, we were accosted by a nice local guy who showed us to the door of the Blue Mosque. He insisted that he was not a guide and did not want any payment but, if we could, please, visit his small store in the nearby bazaar.
The Blue Mosque was a disappointment because they were doing major work inside and we could not see the famous ceilings. When we left the Mosque, our guide was there to take us to his “small shop” which turned out to be a modern and beautiful oriental carpet store with literally hundreds and hundreds of colorful hand-knotted carpets. We were invited to sit down, drink a welcome tea and, about one hour of negotiating later, we were the proud new owners of a gorgeous silk carpet.
Next stop, a rooftop restaurant with a view over the Bosporus and with a huge menu of seafood and excellent wine. After having enjoyed this delicious meal, we headed for the Topkapi palace, historic home of the Ottoman Sultans. They sure lived in the lap of luxury and surrounded by unbelievable beauty and I don’t necessarily mean the Harem…
Last stop of the day was the Hagia Sophia. This used to be the main cathedral of the Orthodox Church, became a mosque, a museum and, recently again, a mosque. It is huge and, when it was a church, must have been stunning inside.
That night, we found another restaurant where we could eat inside. By now, we were getting more familiar with the Mezze or Turkish appetizers, like smoked eggplant bites, marinated seabass, stuffed grape leaves and more. Not much room left for a main dish but enough to eat a few decadently sweet Baklavas.
The following morning, we had to get up at 4:30 AM to get our taxi to the other airport of Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Asian side of the Bosporus for our flight to Dalaman from where we took another cab to Fethiye where our charter base is located.
It was an hour-long drive from Dalaman to our hotel in Fethiye and we were impressed by the modern infrastructure of the roads and bridges. The road was lined with colorful flowering bushes like Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Oleander. No palm trees but lots of Mediterranean pines, olive and citrus trees.
We were booked for one night only at the Unique Boutique Hotel in Fethiye but, next trip, we will make sure to stay longer. It was absolutely beautiful with super friendly staff and a great restaurant.
The room was tastefully decorated in a rustic Mediterranean style with an unforgettable view from the balcony of the marina and the bay.
We met our crew for dinner, Arthur and Khristina from Indianapolis, our friends, Casey from Cape Coral and Eric from West Palm Beach. Our last crew member, Julie from Chicago was arriving the following day late, due to some confusion with the airline bookings.
It became immediately obvious that we were going to have a great week together. We immediately sensed a great chemistry among us. Many hours later and after many Rakis, the national drink, similar to the Greek Ouzo and the French Pastis, we retired for a well-deserved rest.
Saturday morning, we went to the marina to do our provisioning and to get checked in on the yacht.
All went smoothly and, in the early afternoon, we sailed to our first overnight stop, Kapi Creek. Winds were in the 20 knots, and we were flying on board of our chartered Bavaria 50. Kapi Creek is a well-protected anchorage with a restaurant that, due to the lockdown, was closed.
There was no docking space available, and we had to anchor out with stern lines to the shore. The dockhands from the restaurant came to help us put the stern lines out and told us that, for around $20.00 per person, they could deliver dinner to the boat. Thirty minutes later the dinghy reappeared with an unbelievable spread of food that we enjoyed on board with plenty of local wine and Raki.
The following morning, Ismael, one of the employees of the charter base, showed up in a RIB to deliver us our last crew member, Julie, and soon we weighed anchor for a second day of sailing. Not too much wind to start and we had to motor sail for a few hours, after which we only needed the genoa.
At the end of the day, we sailed to Göcek, the other main city with marinas in the Gulf of Fethiye. We called on CH 73 and got a dock for the night. D-Marina is a modern, well-equipped place and host to multi-million yachts of Russian oligarchs and Middle Eastern millionaires.
Göcek is a vibrant small town with a charming tourist shopping area with plenty of restaurants. As these were still closed, we had again a festive takeout buffet brought to the boat. Wine and Raki were served abundantly…
On Monday morning, after a late and leisurely breakfast, we headed west in the bay of Fethiye again for some brisk sailing and, around lunch, we anchored in the crowded Tomb Bay where we could see antique Lycian tombs carved out from the cliffs. Holding was bit risky, and we decided to sail to the anchorage of Kucuk Kuyruk.
The wind was blowing and after several futile attempts to anchor with stern lines to the shore, we started looking for another place to spend the night. We finally found Cigdem Koyu a tiny bay with a narrow entrance and opted to secure the yacht across the mouth of the bay with a bow line to one side of the shore and the stern line to the opposite shore. Even though we were mostly out of the wind, it made for a rolling night. We had dinner on board, courtesy of our lovely female crew members.
Our participants started emerging from their cabins around 08:00 and we enjoyed a nourishing breakfast while watching the goats climbing over the rocks on the shore. What a peaceful scene. Breakfast over and dishes washed and stowed away, we started sailing again, enjoying the 15 to 25 knot winds, courtesy of the Meltemi.
June 1st and the lockdown in Turkey is officially over. Restaurants are open again for sit-down service and we voted to spend the night in Wall Creek, home of the waterfront Adaia restaurant. We docked starboard to dock, squeezed in between a Jeanneau 469 and a Lagoon 420. Capt. Casey expertly docked our Sail Sirius in between these yachts. We immediately made 8 o’clock reservations for dinner and struck up a conversation with Lola, a Russian crew member on the neighboring Lagoon. She told us about some submerged ruins on the other side of the bay. Five of us set off on a discovery expedition to the ruins but I had to give up when my old ankle injury started acting up. I will try again next year…
Dinner that evening was delicious and the service excellent. The fusion of Mediterranean and Near Eastern cuisine makes for an interesting but tantalizing gastronomy.
Wednesday midpoint of our trip. Let us make the most of our sailing as we only have two days left after this. Fortunately, the Gulf of Fethiye is close to 70 square miles and counts hundreds of small bays, coves, inlets, and islands to make it the perfect sailing playground. We left Wall Creek for another day of spirited sailing with plenty of tacking and jibing and docked for the night at the restaurant in Sarsala Creek. It was not as luxurious as the previous place but the view from the hill above the restaurant made up for it. Spectacular…
That evening we splurged on Mezze and more Mezze and on a delicious lamb dish.
We had hoped to have shore power and water at the dock, but the restaurant did not offer these facilities so we opted to spend our Thursday night again in Göcek where we would also have access to Wi-Fi. The restaurants in town were open, but Eric and Julie offered to cook on board and went shopping for food. They prepared a delicious meal with, again, generous quantities of wine and Raki.
A local cat climbed on board in the hope of getting some food scraps. Needless-to-say, after such a great dinner, we spent a blissful night.
Our last day has arrived and we need to be back at the charter base by 16:00 but, first, a hearty breakfast at a local eatery in Göcek with plenty of Turkish coffee and some more, final shopping. We left the marina and raised the sails but, in between some of the islands and the mainland, the winds were too squirrelly, and we had to wait until we got out in the main Gulf area to really get good winds and off we went towards Fethiye. It made for a very enjoyable sail, and, with a tinge of sadness, we dropped the sails to enter ECE Marina, our base in Fethiye where we pumped out, refueled and got back to our slip. An hour later, a male nurse came on board to perform the COVID tests that we needed to be able to fly back to the States.
A last dinner together is always a bittersweet occasion, but we celebrated it at one of the top seafood restaurants in Fethiye, Hilmi, on the waterfront. This place was amazing. They had an unbelievable choice of Mezze, and the fishes in the cooler counter were so fresh that they still seemed alive. We chose to limit ourselves to a large selection of Mezze and desserts and to skip the main entrees altogether. From our vantage point, we enjoyed a spectacular sunset. With dinner over, we crammed into a taxi and returned to our yacht for a last night aboard.
The “Admiral” and I had to get up at 03:00 the following morning to catch our flight to Sabiha Gökçen Airport. From SAW, we had to take a bus for the one-hour long transfer to Istanbul International.
We had to wait to get our negative test results by email before we could check in and get into the duty-free area. IST is an unbelievably modern and beautiful airport with all the most luxurious duty-free fashion shops. I do not know of any airport in the USA that could compare to this one.
Fourteen hours later, we landed in Miami, breezed through customs, got our car back and drove three hours to our home in Punta Gorda. We travelled twenty-four hours, door-to-door…
Exhausted but with unforgettable memories, we crawled in bed.
We will return next year!
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/IMG_0437-960x720-1.jpg720960adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2021-06-09 18:30:532023-04-27 13:25:38TURKEY IS TOPS! Our 2021 ASA Sailing Trip
Sailing is one of those activities that always let you meet and get to know interesting people. Our friend Dennis and his lovely wife, Bise, in Vis are two of them.
We got to know Dennis when we docked for the first time at the island of Vis in Croatia, over eleven years ago.
We brought our chartered Jeanneau 49i sailboat to the quay, stern first, for a Mediterranean mooring and threw Dennis, who was the dock hand on duty, our stern docking lines. He gave us the lazy lines that we would attach to the bow cleats. There was a very short stone finger pier on the port side of the yacht and one of our crew members got in an argument with Dennis because she insisted on having a spring line to that finger pier.
Dennis kept on saying that it was not necessary and that with the stern docking lines and the lazy lines at the bow we would be just fine. With the fenders along the side, the yacht was totally secure. No overkill required…
The discussion became more heated and, as captain, I had to tell the crew member, who is a dear friend of mine, to tone it down. Once we were safely docked, I gave Dennis the boat documents, as is customary in Croatia, and apologized for the ruckus. He was very gracious about it and we chatted a bit. He mentioned that he and his wife had started a small Konoba or restaurant in their vineyard in the mountains of the island. Would we be interested in going there?
When it comes to food and wine, you can always count me in and we made arrangements for him to pick us up a bit later.
About one hour later, we boarded a beaten up van and headed up the mountain. The road zig-zagged up allowing us to have a great view over the harbor and the city below. We arrived at the vineyard and had to hike our way down from the road to the small establishment that they had recently opened and were welcomed by Dennis’ wife, Bise, a jovial Croatian women, and by her little daughter, Marina, who must not have been more than four years old and by Bise’s sister Dinka.
We were treated to a phenomenal traditional Dalmatian meal. Zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and then deep fried, shark carpaccio, marinated sardine and anchovy fillets, local cheese and more delicious appetizers followed by a fabulous lamb stew dish called Peka. Big chunks of lamb with vegetables and potatoes are put in a deep round dish which is then shoved into a very hot hearth and covered by a heavy steel dome covered with hot ashes. After two hours, one of the most delicious lamb dishes you can imagine is served with a never ending supply of Dennis’ own white and red wines. Let us not forget the home made brandies infused with a variety of herbs…
Over the years, Konoba Magic (pronounced Magitz) has grown and has become one of the more popular restaurants on the island. We return religiously every year with our flotilla crew members. It is an annual gastronomical pilgrimage for us and we are always welcomed with open arms by Bise, Dennis and their parents. The restaurant is family operated and Maika (or grandma) is the Chef in the kitchen. She prepares all the meals from scratch while Juraj tends to the fire in the open hearth and makes sure that the Pekas are kept covered by the hot embers.
Dennis and Bise have become very successful and have benefited a lot financially thanks to their hard work. Dennis does not work as a dock hand any longer. We follow them on Facebook and are always very happy for them when we see them spending their winters in exotic places like Thailand and South Beach. When we first met them, their English was quite poor. Nowadays, we hear them discuss their menus in Italian, German and English with their ever increasing number of happy customers.
Dennis is a great guy and he will gladly share his knowledge of the fascinating history of the island. Vis has always been very strategic real estate during its history and especially during WWII and the post-war Tito years, when it was off-limits to outsiders. It is replete with abandoned fortifications, hidden tunnels and a formerly top-secret torpedo boat base. Dennis can tell you all about these places, but the history of Vis goes way back to even before the Greeks and the Phoenicians and you will readily find remnants from Roman and Byzantine times. Vis was also the setting for the “Greek” island in Mama Mia II.
The Wikipedia page is a must-read and is chock-full of interesting facts about this scenic island and its fascinating history.
If you ever go to Croatia, make it a point to go to Vis, either on a sailing yacht or by regular ferry from Split, and go look up Dennis and Bise at Konoba Magic. Tell them that we sent you and not onnly will you be treated like royalty but you will go home with an unforgettable memory of a unique gastronomic experience.
Capt. Jean De Keyser
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Dennis-960x720-1.jpg720960adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2020-02-17 14:49:132023-04-26 17:27:45DENNIS THE MAN FROM VIS
I had forgotten to change the hours on my iPhone and the alarm went off too late. Quick shower and headed for breakfast even though breakfast serving hours were over.
In a bind, a toast with Nutella and coffee will do. After all, I have enough reserves.
It has become a morning ritual now; after breakfast, up to the bridge, chit-chat with the crew a bit and send my Spot position. The “Admiral” had sent me an email saying that she had not received them yesterday and I sent a second one ten minutes later. My iPhone, although in airplane mode (or ship’s mode?) and without any cellular connection whatsoever, keeps its GPS working and it shows that we are at 41◦7.600’N and 55◦24.723’W.
Looking at the chart plotter, I noticed the AIS signal of the MV Maersk Batur, a large container ship. The AIS on the screen shows all the useful information of the vessel, like length, origin (Algeciras) and destination (New York), speed, heading, and range (about 12NM abeam our starboard). I could clearly see her at the horizon.
We are going at about 17.5 knots heading straight for the entrance of the Channel and the ETA in Antwerp, according to the ship’s computer is September 10 at 07:33. The Captain says we are expected to dock on the 11th at 06:00.
The weather today is overcast but the seas are calm, and it has rained during the night.
Back in my cabin which I think must be the only smoke free zone on board.
All these guys smoke like chimneys, in their cabins, in the mess, on the bridge.
Lunch today was delicious pumpkin soup followed by a rather tough piece of steak covered with garlic, mashed potatoes and eggplant. A tiny piece of pie concluded the meal.
It looks like this ship may be part of a relief mission of sorts to poor devastated Belgium that has been severely affected by a too hot summer. As a result, the typical Belgian fries (don’t you ever call them French fries in my presence) are getting in short supplies. Thankfully, we have several reefer containers on board filled with frozen fries. I don’t anticipate that we will be received as hunger liberating heroes when we dock but we can always fantasize…….
The afternoon was spent taking a nap first, then finishing my first book, going up to the bridge to check things out and then I started reading a John Grisham novel, The Last Juror.
During dinner Captain Aleksandr informed me that he had received a message from the agent in Antwerp telling him to inform me that I would have to present myself at the immigration office there. I told him that I had already made all the arrangements for my arrival. He also said that on the next westbound trip to Chester, PA, there will be a young Dutch woman as passenger. She will take over my cabin, which is the only passenger accommodation on this ship
We talked a bit about shipping legends like women or soldiers on board bring bad luck, never allow someone to stand near the ship on the dock with an open umbrella. He was not aware of the superstition that bananas on board also bring bad luck.
The Captain also told me about his life of four months on a ship followed by four months off, back in Croatia, and how he was so happy to work for Independent Container Lines. He had skippered ships for large corporations like MSC, Maersk, Cosco, but felt that ICL was by far the best company to work for.
20:30 Hours and I have sent out my last position of the day. The water is totally flat out there, but the air is getting colder as we make our way further out in the North Atlantic. The AIS on the chart plotter shows a cluster of vessels about ten twelve miles away but we cannot see them. The watch officer tells me these are fishing vessels on the New Foundland Bank.
My big mistake last night when I was on the bridge was to have a cup of coffee before heading back to my cabin and I paid for it with a fitful and restless sleep.
During the night I had the impression that they were revving up the engines and, at one point, the noise was very loud. Yesterday the ship switched from expensive low sulfur fuel to regular fuel. Because of environmental regulations only low sulfur fuel can be used in coastal and near coastal waters and, in order to save costs, the engines are not pushed at maximum performance. Once the switch to regular fuel is done, the engines are revved up to gain more speed.
We are now cruising at 17.5 knots COG and have about 3 knots of current against us.
Overnight, we entered another time zone, two hours ahead of Chicago time which meant getting up earlier for breakfast. Poor Emilio, the cook, must also have been suffering from a bad night as I only got a hot dog for breakfast. Thank Goodness there is always Nutella to fall back on.
I already sent my Spot position out for the morning and checked my emails. The “Admiral” confirmed that she does indeed receive my Spot positions.
One of my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Wheaton, IL, also receives the position and shares it with all the other members on a daily basis.
Current position as I write this is 39◦24.938N and 63◦14.799W.
Back from breakfast and the bridge but really tired from that lousy night, I decided to go back to sleep and woke up right before lunch, which consisted of some watery vermicelli soup followed by a rice and meat dish. The meat reminded me of a bastardized version of Mila’s delicious Peruvian lomo saltado.
Back to my books and computer for the afternoon and time to think about doing the laundry.
Laundry done, I go up and down the stairs a few times to keep in shape followed by some more reading, trying in vain to access my emails and, after giving up on that, I go down for dinner.
What’s happening, Emilio? Some dried out pieces of pork on a skewer with some potatoes swimming in olive oil? It may end up being a forced diet after all. I will have some salad and an orange, thank you!
Up the stairs to the bridge for the last Spot transmission of the day and a brief evening chat with the First Mate who wants to know everything about hiking the Inca Trail, which is on his bucket list. Having hiked the trail twice and being a regular visitor to Peru, where my lovely wife, “The Admiral” is from, I was able to share lots of useful information. Back to my cabin trying to check my emails again and finishing the last few chapters of my first book of the trip.
I have been swearing and muttering all afternoon long because of the unreliable internet connection that prevents me from getting and sending emails.
Finally, around 23:00 local, I was able to get my messages.
The alarm on my iPhone woke me up at 7:45, after a very restful night.
A quick shower later, I went down to the mess for breakfast. Again, two eggs sunny side up with a nice slab of bacon followed by a toast with Nutella. The first mate joined me for breakfast and had a special dish made with lots of veggies.
It looked that appetizing that I asked Sergio to make me one for tomorrow morning.
After my second cup of coffee (instant Nescafe but OK), I went up to the bridge to send my position on the Spot. The captain was on the bridge and showed me the weather forecast for the next few days. Maybe some more wind and bigger seas in three days from now but really nothing to worry about. The computer model showed the tropical storm in the mid-Atlantic that was moving NE from the Cape Verde islands, but it would probably fizzle once it gets further north into colder waters. No effect whatsoever on us.
I checked the emails this morning but no response from the “Admiral”. It was 10:00 Chicago time and knowing her, she might still be asleep late on a Sunday.
I will check again later but, while I have a connection, I sent her another update and wrote an email to the children and to my friend and business partner, Maria, in Antwerp to tell her that I am still expected around 06:00 on September 11. She will pick me up at the ship, bring me to the Marine Police in Antwerp to clear immigration and, the following day her boyfriend, Bob, and I will be driving to Italy to join the flotilla.
The emails have been sent and it is time for my routine to go up and down the stairs a few times for my daily on-board exercise and then back to the cabin to read a bit before lunch.
Emilio had a nice pea soup waiting followed by sautéed potatoes and chicken wings in a creamy tarragon sauce. As a side dish there were asparagus spears rolled into a slice of ham followed by a slice of cheese and oven roasted to melt the cheese. Delicious! I will try to duplicate this at home.
The Captain was there for lunch together with the First Mate and one of the engineers. We had a bit of small talk about the ship and other light subjects.
The server, an always smiling Filipino, brought dessert…. Ice cream on which he poured real liquid Belgian chocolate. Dear “Admiral” would have a fit seeing me indulge. I don’t think that diet thing will work on this trip. The Captain said that this was Emilio’s first stint on this ship.
Apparently, the previous cook’s food was not very popular and, because of his reputation as the best cook in the company, the announcement that Sergio would replace him was very well received by the officers.
Time to go back to the cabin and see if I can connect to the Internet and then the afternoon nap.
I finally figured out how to download the pictures from my iPhone to my new Windows laptop. I kind of regret my MacBook Pro. So much easier to work with.
I spent most of the rest of the afternoon putting together video presentations of my trip.
Six o’clock and it is time for dinner. Emilio has prepared a light meal of broiled seabass accompanied by a Mediterranean (of course) salad. No rice, no potatoes.
After dinner I head back up to the bridge where I spend an hour chatting with the Luka, the First Mate, who’s watch ends at 20:00. He will be back on at 04:00 tomorrow morning. He explains to me the display showing all the ships functions and all looks clear. Nothing at all on the radar and we have over 14,000 feet of water underneath us. Spot position sent. I still have not received any confirmation from the heartland that they are actually receiving them.
Time to go back to the cabin, check some emails, play with the computer and read my books, then crash for the night.
Breakfast is served in the officers’ mess from 07:30 to 08:30 and I went down the four decks to get whatever I still could get. Emilio, the Croatian cook, told me that I could come and eat whenever I wanted and prepared me a nice omelet with bacon. I toasted some bread and found my preferred contraband on board, Nutella! Thank Goodness, I can burn all these calories off by running up and down the stairs. Well, maybe “running” is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still a good exercise.
The sea is totally calm and there are puffy clouds. We are on a 055.8◦ course going about 15 knots SOG and paralleling the coast but without sight of land. Tomorrow morning, around 09:00, we will turn further east and head 068.7◦ towards Europe.
The Third Mate, Edwin Borbon, a very nice Filipino guy, is standing watch by himself and happy to shoot the breeze with the only passenger on board. He will be showing me the ship and guide me through the safety briefing after lunch when his watch is over.
I stand on the outside bridge and activate my Spot to send the second position to my wife and friends. Last night, before our departure, I did send the first one as a test.
Until now, I have seen only one cargo ship in the far distance and a smaller powerboat, probably fishing, about six miles away.
Time for lunch and I descend the eight flights of stairs to the officers’ mess where I meet yet another Croat officer, Engineer Vedran Francickovic. The menu consisted of hearty soup followed by chicken breast with boiled potatoes and a “medley” of Mediterranean vegetables drowning in a pool of olive oil.
Time to go back to the bridge to admire a bit more the view from up there before I have to meet the Third Mate for my security briefing. The officer standing watch is only too willing to chat. During the day the watches are four hours long and only need one person (talking about single handed sailing a huge cargo ship) and it gets a bit boring. At night, two people are on the bridge to keep things safe.
Two small speed boats are about two miles away, probably fishing, but they remind me of the picture of the Somali pirate boats in the Captain Phillips movie.
Thank God we are far, far away from any pirate infested waters. A bit later a large pod of dolphins appeared on our starboard side, about half a mile away, swimming in the opposite direction. From high up here, we get a great view of them.
One o’clock and time to go down to the first deck for my security briefing.
We go over the sound signals (general alarm: seven short blasts, abandon ship: repeated one short blast followed by a long blast), my position at the muster station (number 22) in case of an alarm or evacuation, the location of the firefighting equipment, of the life rafts and of the life boat. He then shows me the rest of the amenities on board. We even have a (very) small swimming pool aboard in the hobby room. They fill it up with sea water but. when empty, it doubles as a small basket ball court with only one hoop.
The rest of the hobby room is filled with a ping pong table, a stationary bike, some weights and one single pair of boxing gloves (go figure).
Time for a nap. The previous long night has me still exhausted and a two-hour sleep gets me ready for the five-thirty barbecue event on the aft deck.
The smell of the grill five decks below seeps into my cabin and wakes me up.
When I get there, the Filipino crewmembers are already putting their food on the grill while the Croatian officers and the only Ukrainian on board, the Third Engineer, are having beers and smoking cigarettes. I join them for some small talk and wait for the Filipino crowd to thin a bit around the grill, then pick-up a T-bone steak, a hot sausage and two skewers of veggies and start cooking.
The meat is of really high quality and absolutely delicious. The Captain finally also shows up for dinner but sticks to himself.
After a few beers and a small piece of pie, I climb back up to the fifth deck and my cabin to digest and to write down some more of my impressions. I already sent my Spot message out to the satellite while the food was grilling.
I am finally able to connect to the Internet and received an email from my “Admiral”, Mila. The Internet connection is extremely slow and it takes several minutes for the typed answer to be transmitted. We will see tomorrow if she gets the message. I am also not sure yet that the Spot transmissions have reached their destination.
Back in June of 2018, while sailing in Croatia during our annual flotilla, I noticed that my peripheral vision in my right eye was getting limited. The following week, back in Chicago, I had to undergo emergency surgery for a detached retina.
Part of the surgical procedure consisted in putting a gas bubble inside the eye ball to keep that retina back in place after it had been reattached with a laser.
As a result, I was not allowed to fly until that bubble has resorbed itself because, at higher altitudes, it would expand and could cause permanent damage or even blindness.
This problem forced us to cancel our annual flotilla in Mallorca, but we still thought it would be possible to fly to Italy for our first Tuscany sailing flotilla starting on September 15. That was not the surgeon’s opinion and he told me that, under no circumstances, should I be flying. Twenty-one friends and customers had booked and paid already and there was no way we would let them down. The solution? Go the old fashion way and cross the Atlantic on a ship.
Here is the story of that crossing. I hope you will enjoy reading about my experience as much as I did when doing that crossing.
After a very tedious and exhausting drive from Chicago to Wilmington, NC, and after dropping off the rental car at the local airport, I finally reached, around 13:00 hours, my destination for the day, the Port of Wilmington, where I found the Independent Pursuit of ICL Container Lines in full loading operations mode.
Two large container gantry cranes where picking up containers from trucks and loading them aboard the vessel as local longshoremen secured them in the holds and on top of the hatches.
After being invited up the gangway while two Filipino crewmembers hauled my heavy suitcase on board, I was introduced to the First Mate who took my boarding papers and passport after which I was shown my lodging accommodations, called the Owners Cabin. It is quite large with a desk, table and two settees, a double berth (very comfortable) and a bathroom or head, complete with shower and vanity. Strangely enough, the smell of the head on such a large vessel is extremely similar to the one on sailboats. Must be the sea but thank God for lemon scented air spray.
The Chief Officer, Luka Bjelic, showed me the bare essentials I needed to know to pass the afternoon on the ship while she was being worked. He introduced me to Emilio the cook and told me where I would have my meals with the Captain and officers in the mess.
Unpacking and getting organized the cabin done, I watched the loading operations through my cabin porthole and from the bridge until it was dinner time, around 17:00.
No sign of Captain, Aleksandr Valentin, yet. He was sound asleep in his cabin after a long night of bringing the ship to berth. My dinner “mate” was the Chief Electrician, Hrvoje Balent. who mentioned that all the senior officers on board except for the Third Mate are Croats. Needless to say, we found a lot in common to talk about sailing in Croatia, the food, wines, etc. By the end of the meal, the Captain showed up and introduced himself. A very nice guy with a firm handshake, he welcomed me warmly on board of his ship.
After dinner, I continued to watch the never-ending line of trucks bringing containers alongside the ship and the crane picking up the boxes and putting them deftly in place in their slots. It is a fascinating and mesmerizing show.
As this trip was going to be with very little access to wi-fi, I overdosed a bit on social media sending pictures on Facebook, emailing and texting my wife, Mila, friends and kids before starting my eleven-day social media detox program.
At the time of booking this trip, the departure time was scheduled for 19:00 but, with the slower than expected pace of loading the ship, it was pushed back to 23:00 and finally we left at 00:45 on September 1.
When I saw that the last containers had been loaded and the crane was being moved, I headed for the bridge where preparations for our departure were underway. The captain was on the bridge with two pilots. One was the dock pilot who would assist in pulling the vessel away from her berth and guide the tugboat and the second pilot was the river pilot who would guide us through the maze of buoys and markers on the Cape Fear River to the open sea where he would be picked up by the pilot boat.
The Cape Fear River is long, narrow for large cargo ships, and it snakes its way with several twists and turns towards the Atlantic. Halfway down the river, I called it the night and crashed in my berth. At first, I thought I would not be able to sleep because of the constant drone of the engine but it proved to be a powerful lullaby and I was out until well past 08:30.