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
We are always being told that, when we get lemons, we should make lemonade and I have – figuratively – been making lemonade for the last few months.
With all our trips in the Med having been cancelled, we had plenty of time for other projects, like remodeling our new home in Punta Gorda, Florida, and replacing the teak slats of the seats in the cockpit of my sailboat with Flexiteak. Still, my mind wanders to where we would have been this week, if not for that bleeping virus.
We had planned our trip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and the awe-inspiring Bay of Kotor. Last week Saturday, we would have left the ACI Marina of Dubrovnik and, after sailing around the fortified waterfront of the old city, we would have spent the night at anchor in the charming small city of Cavtat. The anchorage is absolutely stunning and, although you could dock the boats at the seawall, we prefer to anchor out and enjoy the view. We would then go ashore by dinghy for food in one of the local restaurants along the promenade.
The following morning, we would motor to the customs dock and, while the crew members would now not be allowed to cross the gate, the skippers would take care of all the paperwork with Croatian Customs and the Harbor Master to be cleared out of Croatia and head for Montenegro. Once all the formalities have been done, we are not allowed to set foot on Croatian soil and must go straight to neighboring Montenegro. Fines are very high for violators and the Croats keep track of us on their radar and with their patrol boats.
Our next stop is the small town of Zelenika in Montenegro where we clear customs. We must show all passports and boat papers to Customs and the Harbor Police and, again, in the meantime, the crew cannot leave the quarantine area. Once we have been cleared through customs, we can lower the yellow quarantine flag and raise the Montenegrin courtesy flag on the starboard flag halyard of our yachts. We now are officially in Montenegro and, after a short sail, we end up in the brand new Lazure Marina with its fabulous restaurant. We had the best meal and service there last year for half or what we would have paid in Croatia.
After a restful night digesting all that good food and wine, we leave the Bay of Kotor and anchor outside a blue cave for some swimming and snorkeling with lunch on board. Time to go to our next overnight anchorage in the small Bay of Bigova. The local restaurant, Grispolis, serves great Mediterranean seafood and they offer a free shuttle service from and to our anchored yachts.
Tuesday, after breakfast, we weigh anchor and sail back to the Bay of Kotor. After a lunch and swim stop in the bay of Zanjic with its beautiful Serbian Orthodox monastery on a minuscule island, we re-enter the majestic bay, the largest fjord in southern Europe, and go to our next destination, the super luxurious Porto Montenegro Marina. Our sailing yachts look puny compared to the super yachts of Russian oligarchs, Arab Sheikhs and other multi-billionaires. Still, the docking costs are reasonable and soon we go discover the port with its exclusive shops. If you are looking for Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Rolex, Balenciaga or other expensive items, this is the place. All that window shopping makes us hungry and we leave the marina for a delicious meal in nearby Tivat.
Wednesday’s destination is the walled medieval city of Kotor, the city of cats. It is located at the very end of the bay and towering mountains protect it from every angle. Before reaching Kotor, we make a short detour via the twin Perast islands with the Byzantine church of Our Lady of the Rocks.
The municipal marina of Kotor is quite small, and we have to cross the busy road to enter the main gate but soon we are wandering along in the narrow streets. Cat-themed stores are everywhere and there is even a cat museum. Of course, there are felines everywhere. Thank goodness there are no cats on the menus of the local restaurants but you will have plenty of good Mediterranean and Balkan food to choose from.
Overlooking the city is the imposing fortress of St. John. It is quite a climb to get there but the spectacular view is the reward for the intrepid hiker.
So, now we are Thursday and we have to make our way back to Dubrovnik. No time to waste but first a stop in Zelenika to clear out of Montenegro and then on our way back to Cavtat, under the watchful eye of the Croatian radar system to make sure we do not stop before we get through Croatian Customs.
If we arrive too late in Cavtat, we will have to stay at anchor with our yellow quarantine flag up and we will have to remain on board until we can clear in the morning. If the Customs office is still open, we will be allowed to clear and can then have dinner ashore. We love Cavtat and try to make sure that we can spend that night enjoying a good meal and gelato along the waterfront.
We will hang out most of Friday morning relaxing in Cavtat before our last sail back to the ACI Marina in Dubrovnik where total pandemonium reigns. Before docking, we must refuel the yachts and the only fuel dock is right on the river with many boats waiting in line. If you drift too much to port, you will end in the shallows. It is a zoo with impatient skippers barking orders to their frustrated crewmembers.
As soon as we have refueled, we must find our slip in the overcrowded marina and maneuver the yachts to the dock. ACI Marinas are all over Croatia and are excellent but the one in Dubrovnik is awful. We cannot wait to be at the dock and get out of there as soon as feasible but, that having been said, we leave with unforgettable memories of a fantastic sailing trip.
This is what we would have been doing this week on our last of four weeks of sailing in Croatia and Dubrovnik.
Let us hope that we can do it again next year. We do not need another stinking crisis and it is more fun than replacing the teak on my boat.
Fair winds! Stay healthy and safe.
Capt. Jean De Keyser
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Montenegro-Flag-1024x682-1.jpg6821024adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2020-09-25 16:26:312023-04-25 15:28:08IT IS FRIDAY, WE MUST BE IN CAVTAT
The Krka National Park with its stunning waterfalls has been one of our favorite destinations when we sail in Croatia.
Located upriver from the historic city of Sibenik, it definitely is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. Whereas “normal” tourists travel there by car or bus, we do the trip motorsailing up the river, through a canyon and across a lake before reaching the small village of Skradin with its history reaching back to the Roman times and beyond.
Skradin has excellent marina facilities operated by ACI. You either dock at the marina or take a buoy across the river where the swans will come beg for food.
From Skradin you can hike or bike to the Krka falls or you take one of the gullet ferries.
Hiking through the forest surrounding the falls or when swimming in the cool fresh water with hundreds of small fish darting to-and-fro around you, you do not realize that this magical place was the location of the second oldest hydro-electric plant in the world. It opened on August 28, 1895, only two days after the one at Niagara Falls. Pieces of the old turbine can still be seen there.
It was the brainchild of Nikola Tesla the incredible genius and constant nemesis of Thomas Edison.
Tesla, an ethnic Serb, was born in Smiljanin in what is now Croatia when it was still part of the Austrian Empire. He was the brain behind the development of the alternating current and, when he arrived in the States, he teamed up with Westinghouse.
His invention of the polyphase alternate current was used during the 1893 Chicago World Fair to supply power to the lighting of the show and the functioning of several electric motors.
Tesla died in the United States in 1943 but his final resting place is in Belgrade, Serbia.
History, culture and gastronomy combined with fun flotilla sailing makes for unique vacations experiences.
Although the so-called pandemic has ruined our plans for for 2020, we are looking forward to returning to all these interesting places with old and new sailing friends in 2021.
In the meantime, stay healthy and safe!
Capt. Jean De Keyser
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/TESLA.jpg614474adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2020-08-03 22:05:502023-04-25 15:47:26WHEN SAILING AND HISTORY MEET… MED SAILING ADVENTURES AND NIKOLA TESLA
As they say in the social media vernacular, OMG! It has been since April that I have not written a blog… Time to catch up with the Med Sailing Adventures Team…
So, for those of you who have not followed our Facebook postings, the Admiral went to Peru in March to visit her parents in Lima and to celebrate their birthdays with them. Little did she know that the virus would strike so fast and, before she knew it, she was stuck in Peru with a very strict stay-at-home policy. Meanwhile, I drove to Florida to our house in Punta Gorda. Sick and tired of the cold and the snow.
Being in sunny Florida, while there was still the occasional snowfall in Chicago, helped me a lot coping with the solitude caused by Mila’s absence.
She finally made it back on June 6 and we are now staying on our sailboat in Burnt Store Marina. We sold our house here as we wanted to downsize but have not decided on a new property yet. In the meantime, we celebrated Mila’s half century and our twelfth anniversary and we are enjoying our stay in the marina.
There is something to be said for staying on a boat in a marina. It is so peaceful and we sleep so well at night. The fellow liveaboards are very nice people, always willing to help, and the sunsets as seen from a boat are spectacular.
While I was still in the house here, in solitary confinement and with Mila south of the Equator, my therapy was mainly cooking and enjoying a good wine. I would post what I called food-porn pictures on Facebook but, ever since she came back, I have not posted too many. So here is one to wet the appetite of the ones who are gastronomically adventurous.
I brought our small Weber gas grill on board and prepared a typical Peruvian dish called Anticuchos de Corazon. They are skewers with pieces of beef heart marinated in a spicy mixture made of Peruvian peppers and herbs. It is a finger licking delicious dish. If beef heart makes you a bit queasy, you can also make it with chicken.
Today, we received a notice that the European Union countries will probably ban entry for U.S. citizens and residents for fear that they might re-introduce the virus in Europe. The crazy part is that they will allow visitors from China. Go figure but, in the meantime, we will not be able to return to the Med until 2021. Our trip to the Seychelles is still on for October of this year.
Although we will miss sailing with our friends in the Mediterranean, we are looking forward to 2021. Most of this year’s participants have already committed for 2021. Unless a new plague, revolution or out-of-space alien invasion hits us, next year should be a banner year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
We will probably stay a few more weeks in Florida and then drive back to Illinois to see the kids and the grandkids and all our friends up there. Hopefully, we will be able to do some sailing on Lake Michigan as well.
More news in a few days!
Stay healthy and safe.
Capt. Jean De Keyser and “Admiral” Mila.
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/BSM2-960x720-1.jpg720960adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2020-06-23 21:32:292023-04-25 15:49:35HOW TIME FLIES… AND OTHER NEWS…
It was Monday, September of 2013 and we were docked at the seawall of Komiza on the island of Vis. The weather was great and life was good.
Komiza is this “beyond-adorable” fishing village on the southwestern side of the island. It is located at the end of a large bay and at the foot of the imposing Hum mountain. A fort built to protect the village from pirates is one of the main tourist attractions and houses a fishing museum.
One of our regular destinations in Croatia, Komiza is also my favorite place for excellent pizza and beer in one of the several affordable restaurants on the waterfront. I should also not forget to mention the unbelievable gelato’s…
So, here we were docked at the seawall and next to us was another charter boat with an all-male Croatian crew. They had set up a small grill on the quay and were grilling tiny sausages that smelled mouthwatering deliciously. While they were preparing their food, they were taking numerous shots of a clear liquor from a bottle that contained a fully grown pear.
Needless to say, we had to strike up a conversation. Two of them spoke perfect English and told me that they were high school friends who had left Yugoslavia when, in the mid-nineties, the country was falling apart. Some of them left for the United States, others to Germany or Italy and, after all these years, they had decided on a reunion in their old country, which is now Croatia. As they always had sailed together when they were young, they wanted to make their get-together a sailing vacation.
Of course, we traded many shots of their pear schnapps with ones from our vodka bottle and they had me taste the finger licking good little sausages called Cevapcici (Che-vap-chi-chi). I order them at restaurants when in Croatia and I love them accompanied with ajvar and fries. Sometimes, when I get an uncontrollable urge for them, I will make them here in the USA and put them on the grill or on the plancha.
If you want to get an idea of how good these cevapcici sausages are, but if you do not have a Balkan-style restaurant close to you or (even worse) you cannot accompany us on our next trip to Croatia, here is my recipe.
You will need:
half a pound of ground lamb
about one and a half pounds of ground pork or mild Italian sausage
one pound of lean ground beef
three or four garlic cloves to taste, minced
about one teaspoon salt or more to taste
ground black pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
a dash of paprika
one finely chopped onion
one egg white
Mix all the ingredient in a large non-reactive bowl and let rest for a few hours in a cool place to have the mixture thoroughly absorb all the flavors. Form the meat mixture in little sausage of about two and halve inches long and three quarters of an inch think. Cevapcici sausages do not have casings and are really easy to make.
Grill them on a BBQ or on a plancha griddle at medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, turning them frequently and eat them with ajvar, a typical Balkan spread that you can find in the international food sections of major grocery stores, like Pete’s Market and Caputo’s in the Chicagoland area. If you can’t find it, you can easily make it yourself.
You will need:
six red bell peppers
one medium eggplant
three generous tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
at least three chopped garlic cloves (but more if you really like it garlicky)
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
a dash of vinegar
cayenne pepper to taste (if you like your ajvar hot)
a tablespoon of red wine vinegar
one teaspoon of sugar
Cut the bell peppers and the eggplant in half and put them face down in a hot oven (450F / 232C) until the skins are roasted and blistered. Let them cool down then peel the peppers and discard the skins, scoop up the flesh out of the eggplant and discard the skin. Put all the ingredients in a food blender until well mixed and voila! Your ajvar is ready…
Ajvar is often called the caviar of the poor man. It is healthy and tasty. You can eat it with your cevapcici while dreaming that you are in Croatia, cruising the crystal clear waters with us, or you can also use it as a dip, spread it on a toast, try it as a pizza sauce. Whatever way you use it, you will love it…
More flotilla food stories and travel adventures to follow in my next blog.
https://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Komiza5-960x720-1.jpg720960adminhttps://www.medsailingadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/MSA-Logo-como-objeto-inteligente-1.pngadmin2020-03-09 20:12:262023-04-26 15:31:07CEVAPCICI IN KOMIZA
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