Passage Preparation

We generally keep Dirona ready to go to sea at a moment’s notice, and securing the cockpit furniture is typically all we need to do as we get underway. For multi-day passages, we do some additional preparation ranging from provisioning, to heavy weather preparation, to paperwork necessary to bring Spitfire into a new country. Highlights…

May 17 – Waterford, NY

Waterford Canal Welcome Center

“If you want the best the world has to offer, offer the world the best you have.” —Neale Donald Walsch

Another beautiful day in Waterford, although a little warm…in fact it was warmer here than at home in Texas! At least these temperatures won’t last long. We spent the day visiting with people on the dock and riding our bikes. It felt nice to get some exercise after our long days on the boat last week.

Today we took the Black Bridge Trail across to Peeble Island and over to Green Island. From there we crossed the Hudson River and had lunch in Troy. We’ll head back this way on Saturday to visit the Troy’s Farmers Market. Our ride today was about nine miles along the river on a peaceful easy trail. 

The waterfront in Waterford is a popular place for locals to walk, so we’ve met a lot of nice people and there is always something entertaining going on. One lady we visited with yesterday told us her husband had family in Port Lavaca (our home town), today they came by for a visit and Stan realized he use to ride the bus to school with several of his cousins. It’s a small world and we truly enjoy meeting new people.

Another view of our wonderful home this week. You can just see part of the first lock on the left of the picture.

An old railroad trestle that is now part of the bike trail

Troy, NY the home of Uncle Sam

Some of the wild life we saw today…can you find the second deer?

Another one of the many bridges we crossed on our bike ride

The Pokingbrook Morris Dancers. A group of dancer from Albany that practice in different places each week. The group is dedicated to keeping the living dance traditions of England alive. They were very fun to watch.

Our visitors (John and Vicky) brought us this wine cork this evening. John made it…the yellow rose of Texas. It’s beautiful and we love it. Thank you so much. 
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We are staying ashore in the hills behind Lefkas Marina, Greece where Envoy is on the hardstand awaiting repairs to heat and soot damage caused by fire on a nearby boat.

It’s over three weeks since the fire and not much has happened except for a major clean-up so the damage could be properly assessed. The broken windows and portholes have also been removed for repair so that’s a start. These windows are a bit unusual since each toughened glass pane is set into a stainless steel frame which is then sealed into a further stainless steel frame attached to the GRP cabin’s window cavity. All the windows have rounded corners and one is slightly curved as well. The insurance assessor and local contractors tell us that usually the boat’s manufacturer supplies replacements for broken windows but Nordhavn told us they don’t stock these, and in fact haven’t been very helpful at all.

The quote to repair Envoy was received Tuesday and it will take several days to get insurer’s approval for work to start. The contractor says he’ll have six guys working full time on Envoy and it will be completed within five weeks. So our best guess for completion is end June.

Now to Turkey – we’ve heard that lots of cruisers are leaving there, so here’s an update based on our best information.

Turkey has arguably been one of the world’s greatest cruising destinations with great anchorages, spectacular scenery, mostly clean waters, an interesting and different culture and cuisine, loads of excellent well-preserved historical sites dating back thousands of years, friendly honest people, low cost, political stability, reasonable safety, competent technical infrastructure and proximity to interesting Greek islands.

It’s also been a huge tourist destination with 42m visitors during the peak year of 2014, but in recent years some of Turkey’s circumstances have gradually been changing causing many cruisers to leave, fewer tourists arriving (25m last year) and a less certain future for the approximately 1.6m Turks reliant on tourism for employment.

For cruisers the first major change occurred with regulations limiting the time yachts can spend cruising some popular areas along the famed Turquoise Coast and requiring the purchase of a “Blue Card” (an electronic card) to record the discharge of sewage from holding tanks into shore-based or mobile pump-out stations. This card costs 280 Lira (about NZ$115) and although it appears this regulation is not being rigidly or uniformly enforced it’s causing consternation due to both its added cost and the limited number of pump-out facilities available making strict compliance next to impossible. The CoastGuard does board vessels to inspect their documentation and there have been cases of cruisers being fined 1,000 Lira (about NZ$420) because their card hadn’t been used within the last two weeks even when in some cases the local facilities weren’t operational. Other reports say cruisers have to account for grey water waste as well as sewage. Not many cruisers have grey water holding tanks so the whole situation is uncertain and worrying.

Basically this requirement seems to exist just so that authorities can show they’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist. In our time cruising Turkey we never found any areas with sewage issues except where the sewage originated from shore, although plenty of beaches and other areas were covered in serious amounts of general litter.

Thena regulation was introduced limiting the time visitors can spend in Turkey to 90 days in any period of 180 days, making Turkey similar to Schengen Treaty countries. Previously a visitor could get a 90 day visa, exit for a few hours to a Greek island before the completion of 90 days and then return to Turkey and get a new 90 day visa issued. A concession was later made for cruisers allowing temporary residency using their boat as an address, but the process still involves some additional cost and inconvenience compared to the previous 90 day renewable visa system.

Although like many countries Turkey has suffered isolated terrorist incidents and some comparatively minor bombings for many years, sadly this has increased since 2014 resulting in many governments including New Zealand, Australia, USA and UK to step up their travel alert levels. While there have been loss-of-life incidents at tourist areas in some major cities, notably Istanbul, thankfully terrorism does not appear to have hit coastal resorts and cruising areas.

Last July Turkey had an attempted coup resulting in considerable numbers of arrests and the declaration of a State of Emergency. This has recently been extended for three months, but it appears the government does intend to revert to normality soon after that. Meanwhile the government led by President Erdogan recently narrowly won a controversial referendum to increase its powers. Turkey’s post referendum direction remains to be seen, but many people are concerned that it may be more autocratic, less democratic and less secular.

Last year we heard from cruisers based in Turkey that many cruisers as well as charter yacht fleets are leaving. Incredibly, Turkish marinas have reacted by increasing their prices to compensate for the revenue loss caused by reductions in boat numbers. Previously average Turkish marina prices were quite competitive with, for example Greek marinas, but are now more expensive (although in both countries there is a very broad range of pricing). There are many cruisers who don’t concern themselves too much with the local politics of their host country, but nearly all cruisers are budget-conscious and these price increases have further increased numbers of departures.

Many Turkish based and owned boats are registered elsewhere (a surprising number in USA) presumably to avoid Turkish VAT. In an effort to encourage them to fly the Turkish flag authorities have very recently introduced two significant new measures (advised to us by major yachting agency BWA). Boats switching flags to Turkish will be allowed to become VAT-registered by paying a one off charge of one per cent of their insured value and paying a “harbour master’s fee” varying according to boat length but for 12-20 metres length set at 1,627 Turkish Lira (approx NZ$668)

Foreign owned and flagged cruisers can also change to Turkish flag under the same conditions, but I imagine that idea won’t hold much appeal as cruisers tend to move between countries and take pride in their own country’s flag, an exception being larger vessels and super-yachts whose owners mostly register in countries with lenient tax regimes.

We’re just glad that we immensely enjoyed part of several seasons cruising in Turkey during the easier less complicated times.

Here Ya Go —

For those who want a Porsche and a boat. And, it’s only $13M. You better hurry, they’re only making 7.Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

May 16 – Waterford, NY

Waterford Canal Welcome Center

“Traveling is like a drug, forming an addiction that controls your entire being.” —Kiana Azizian

The weather has finally warmed up and the welcome center was alive with activity…boaters washing their boats, school children on a field trip, workings finishing projects before the canal officially opens and locals out for walks enjoying the beautiful day. Stan and I decided to take a bike ride along the old Champlain Canal to visit Waterford’s Museum and then over to Cohoes to see the falls and where the original Erie Canal was located. 

What we do for our birds!

Wow! It has been a busy couple of weeks. Idyll Time is now slowly sailing her way to Victoria, BC. After leaving West Palm, she transited the Panama Canal without incident and headed to Golfito, Costa Rica for a two day stop. Here Sevenstar offloaded several boats and loaded several more onto the Clipper Nassau. […]

Steering Issue

We haven’t had steering issues in the past. Given they can happen anywhere, why the heck would it occur within hours of dead-center on our 2,800 nm trip through the North Atlantic? We have covered a lot of miles over the years and generally have seen pretty good conditions. The weather we’ve encountered has been…

FPB 70: New Build Updates

Berthon now has a fortnightly update on their website for all things FPB construction… Be sure to check out all …Read More

The Erie Canal

Waterford Canal Welcome Center

We have a slip rented in Ithaca, NY on Cayuga Lake for the summer. The map above show the Erie Canal, the Finger Lakes and Ithaca. The only way to get to Ithaca is through the Erie Canal. While we wait for the season opening of the canal we’ll enjoy Waterford. Here’s a little history of the Erie Canal. 

Construction of the Erie Canal began on July 4, 1817, in Rome, New York and was completed on October 25, 1825. This year begins the bicentennial celebration that will last eight years. The original Canal was four feet deep and 40 feet wide, it cut through fields, forests, rocky cliffs, and swamps; crossed rivers on aqueducts; and overcame hills with 83 lift locks. The project engineers and contractors had little experience building canals, so this engineering marvel served as the nation’s first practical school of civil engineering.

Alarms at 1:15am

I bolted awoke at 1:15am to a shrieking alarm. We were 50 miles south of the Grand Banks, in large seas, on passage from Newport, RI to Kinsale, Ireland. I ran upstairs to the pilot house and Jennifer at the helm just said “high bilge water.” Yuck. Better than fire but far from good news….