Kemer to Fethiye, across to Crete and through the Corinth canal - postcard from Mags
We pottered first along the Turkish coast as far as our favourite area around Fethiye and Gocek. In Fethiye we met up with old friends John and Bea and spent a pleasant day with them visiting their house and the surround countryside. We sat on their terrace and saw some of the delightful painting that Bea has done to add so much charm.
A cart handpainted by Bea tucked into the corner of the garden
John is an engineer and their jeep definitely takes some sort of gift to drive if not full engineering qualifications. In particular finding the right gear, or any gear takes skill. We were delighted to meet our old friend Rover the dog who last year had been a stray who had adopted as his home the croquet club that John and Bea run and which is such a feature of many people's holidays. We had been sad to meet Rover there last year, a friendly dog without a home. John and Bea already had two dogs, many cats and a donkey so weren't ready to take on another dog. They were looking for a home for him but through a set of circumstances he eventually joined their family and a nicer friendlier chap you couldn't meet.
Further transport with character
We also met up for lunch with friends from Kemer John and Jan of S/Y La Gabriella and spent a happy afternoon with them browsing around Fethiye and looking in chandleries.
Proud owners of a new floating line
From Fethiye we sailed over two nights across to Crete where we tied up first in the marina at Ayios Nikolaos. It was Sunday morning and the harbourmaster told us to relax and worry about our ship's papers and official entry into Greece on Monday. The following day we started the tour around the officials (quite bureaucratic). We were sent first to Customs where Barry was interviewed by four officials, all women, who were furious we hadn't come on the Sunday. I was outside the office and from the noisy reception Barry received I was convinced he would be thrown into jail. Suddenly things calmed down, laughter, all was well, they found we came from the UK and so were part of the EU. "No problem sir, no need to see us, have a good trip!". We were off on the rounds with the papers in baking hot conditions. We were very badly advised and incorrectly directed. We went first to the Harbour Master who sent us on to the Port Police where the required person was not available and we were asked to return the next day. The following day we turned up only to be told that we were missing the crew list which must be on the official paper provided by and stamped by the Harbour Master's office (why hadn't they said?). The walk from harbour office to police station took us past the hospital so we felt that should we expire en route we wouldn't be far from medical aid. We did the trip in all 4 times, 3 times more than was really needed. Everyone though was delightfully friendly once we had conquered Customs.
A minor mishap occurred further up the coast in the small harbour of Milatos where on lifting the anchor we were in danger of impeding a small fishing boat puttering out of the harbour. Barry gently went astern as the fisherman waved at us in a friendly way. As we ground on to the rocks at the harbour entrance we understood why the fisherman had been waving! He simply threw up his hands and motored off! And we were stuck. We put the dinghy over the side. I rowed across to the other side of the harbour entrance with a long line and, closely supervised by three elderly gentlemen who obviously were enjoying the spectacle, we hauled ourselves off on a powered winch and left with as much dignity as possible - although my knees were knocking when I got back on board.
We were visiting Crete to meet up with brother Martin and his wife Sue who have bought a retirement place there. We had a good time with them exploring their new home area and then they joined us sailing up the east coast of the Peloponisos. We dropped them off in Poros where they took a hydrofoil to Athens and then a ferry back to Crete all of which went very smoothly and they were home by supper.
Seeing Crete with Martin and Sue
We were pretty chuffed about how well the boat was going. We had always theorised that an unattended boat would deteriorate fast. After two years of good winter maintenance and two summers living on board when we could put things right as they went wrong we felt we had got the boat into a very good state. I wrote this to someone in an email but I spoke too soon! After passing through the Corinth canal and heading towards Ithaca in the Ionian, an intermittent niggle that had started when Martin and Sue had been on board became a major problem. The auto-pilot kept displaying an error message "drive stopped" and refusing to steer. In the end we had to steer by hand and even then we found that the steering felt very stiff and graunchy. We were so concerned that Barry got out the emergency tiller (I polished it up!) and we changed our plans and sailed to Lefkas instead of the bay that we thought we would anchor and swim in. Lefkas has a marina and technical services to assist. These technical people discovered that the bearings in the steering box were rusted through having sat in water for a long time. We have no idea how the water got in there; it must have been before our time. So the engineer rebuilt this box. An electrical engineer repaired an alternator problem and we were ready to set sail again. This of course had set us back a couple of days but we still thought we had just enough time to get up to Split in Croatia to meet our friends Roger and Merril. Half-an hour out from Lefkas there was the dreaded beep from the auto-pilot with the message "drive stopped". The instruction book didn't really help so we hand steered to Corfu where fortunately there was another marina with technical services available. Giannis the electronics engineer came on board to check through the problem and eventually agreed with Barry that we needed a new course computer. (This is essentially the brains of the auto pilot.) So this was ordered from Athens and a couple of days later installed. All the time, of course, we were counting the days needed to get to Split. We eventually set off cheerfully with just enough time to get to get there only to find that although the auto-pilot now worked it worked far too hard, turning the wheel in an exagerated way. Also if you pressed the 2 buttons to tack, instead of turning the required 90 degrees it turned over 180 degrees and then lost its bearings and beeped to tell us it was in distress. By this time the boat had done a 360 degree turn. I don't know what other boats thought of us as we wandered round in circles. However, there was no more time to turn round so we hand steered the 203 miles to Dubrovnik, checked into Croatia and sailed to Split to arrive just 4 hours before Roger and Merril.