Saturday, 27 April 2013

Two more sleeps

Depending on who you are, you'll latch onto different things in this photo. Boating types will go straight to the whiteboard. Yes, most jobs are crossed off - and more since the picture was taken a few days ago. Only two sleeps left till we leave the dock on Monday. I took the photo because I liked the way the flowers pick up the pink in Claudia's drawing. I love this drawing. Pops gave it to me as a birthday card.

Mostly I succeed in keeping myself from becoming sentimental about what I'm missing back home.  For example, last week I missed helping my mum host a big crowd of tree people who came to visit her farm during the national farm forestry conference which she helped organise this year. She can manage perfectly well without my help, of course, but I would have loved to share her triumph, her "swansong", as she called it.

But yesterday was an especially tough one. I missed Claudia's debut at a city art gallery in a group show. She sent me through photos of her hung work (below) and I called her, of course, but the price we pay for doing what we want and need to do can seem very steep at times.  She told me it was a sweet night at Miller's Point, under the biggest yellow moon she's ever seen hanging over Sydney, with her friends and "a portion of her family"at the gallery to support she sold three drawings. Go Pops!

Moving on, as they say.

It's not all been spring flowers and iced drinks here on Enki, even though the fast-warming weather would suggest as much. Here's Alex looking as dark as he has been feeling this past week. He does dark very well - I call it moody Hungarian.

He had cause to glower. We've had fuel problems again. No need to go on about it, but for reasons which we, nor anyone else we consulted, can make sense of, the fuel in our tanks was still cloudy a week after being "polished", i.e. pumped through a set up on the dock and recirculated, which should filter out any "crud". Normally, the fuel clears after 3 to 5 days - polishing aerates it, and the bubbles subside, we were told. But our fuel stayed cloudy (for those who are thinking the obvious, there was no water in it). Mysterious.

So, we've emptied the (newly-cleaned) tanks and sold the fuel at a discount to a bloke with an old car. Old diesel engines aren't nearly as fussy about what you put in them as is our Volvo D3. She's a modern princess who chokes on the slightest suggestion of impurity. Tomorrow we'll fill up at the marina fuel dock and hope for the best - again.

The Marmaris waterfront is full of people gazing at yachts at anchor or under sail in the bay. I bought more internet credit yesterday, and Figen, the young manager, just about cried when she found out we were heading north to Cannakale on our own boat. "It's my dream," she said. I've heard that often in Marmaris. "It's my dream too," I told her. I wished I could re-assure her that her dream would come true one day.

Young people in Marmaris have probably always been drawn to the sea, by choice or necessity. It's a port town and has been forever - the ancient Greeks called it Physkos. Mass tourism has disfigured a lot of the shoreline, but commerce in the old town is still hugely dependent on boating. That's one reason we've enjoyed staying here over winter.

Talking of old, we went to a surprise birthday party at Pineapple on Thursday. Joan turned 88 - that's Joan of Fafin II on D dock. I am sure I don't want to be living on a boat when I'm 88, but she and her husband Bill make it sound like the best life in the world. I suspect they've always been like that though. Bill had to head back to hospital after the party. He wasn't in great shape, but he was there, and Joan, as Alex suspected, is still a dancing queen.

We plan to bring Enki back to Marmaris again next winter. It's a safe place to leave your boat in the water and, we've discovered, a very pleasant place to hibernate between Mediterranean cruising seasons. Who would have thought?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

How we remember...

Back home now, it's the tail-end of Anzac Day. The morning will have been filled with patriotism and marchers. By early afternoon the booze will have kicked in. If we were in our house, we'd be hearing a roar surging from the pub crowd watching two-up in the Sackville pub's driveway. And all this because of what happened in Turkey.

I had the oddest experience a couple of days ago. I was walking along a shopping street towards the main square in Marmaris, vaguely heading for the arts and cultural centre which I meant to visit before we leave the marina in a few days. I knew it was a public holiday, Children's Day, whatever that meant. Sounded a bit saccharine to me, like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Ahead of me I could see the square. It was packed, and someone was addressing the crowd from a stage rigged up the day before. Better walk around it, I thought. I'd seen children dressed up in their new clothes, with their parents, and flags and balloons....

Then the speech stopped, and music came over the speakers. I had a delayed reaction, my mind elsewhere as usual. Then I heard it. The Last Post. Everyone around me was frozen in place by the lone trumpet, arms hung down by their sides, looking straight ahead, blankly, in respectful silence, like soldiers on parade, except they were citizens scattered on a footpath and standing up from their seats at cafes. Young women, children, men, everyone was still, and attentive. I was still among them. Then what I presume is the Turkish national anthem started up, and they all sang. It was very different from back home. You could feel the pride, but it was as much private as communal.

I decided not to walk around the square but through it, and I stayed a while, watching the children on stage - everyone there had a child, and I felt very conspicuous alone, so obviously a foreigner, photographing the tiny tots. But I stayed anyway.

I've just looked it up. April 23 is the day the first Grand National Congress opened in Ankara in 1920, at the beginning of the War of Independence. Because Ataturk - or Mustafa Kemal as he still was then - dedicated the new Turkish republic to children, Turks celebrate April 23 as Children's Day as well as National Sovereignty Day. Apparently in Ankara children are given the run of parliament for the day. They "govern" the country - a nice thought.

In Marmaris, they were dolled up, some had their faces painted, and in the square, troupes of little stars came onto the stage to perform for the cameras and crowd. A couple of small boys in dark suits and bow ties did the Gangnam Style dance, and the family crowd went wild, clapping and dancing along.

Further down the road, by the water, Ataturk's statue was festooned with flowers like a school Flower Day competition entry. It was very Turkish. And a million miles from the tragedy of Anzac Day.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Turkish works

Sinemaya gitmeyi seviyorum

In Marmaris, where the movie offering this winter has been very pedestrian, I can't imagine a situation where I'd want to say, as above, "I like to go to the cinema". But the excitement of being able to construct a sentence with a noun, a preposition and two verbs is...almost better than being afloat. And being afloat again after five days in the yard is pretty damn good.

View from the back deck
She's got a big belly to cover in anti-foul

New letterhead

Alex and Mehmet - overseers

The best thing about hauling out is re-launching. Nobody likes being on the hard, even if the work done there is done well, as ours has been. Mehmet Guven (above) and his wife Seval turned it around efficiently and pleasantly. See that shine, watch Enki go.

Hussein's polishing rag is a wad of kapok

Shiny boats, like shiny cars, go faster - they say
But back to speaking (or rather, learning) Turkish.
Our friend Agnes, who speaks five languages well, claims you need 50 words to get by. When in Portugal, you pull out your 50 words of Portuguese, when in Greece, your 50 words of Greek etc. If you speak English, you're way ahead because English is not only the language of the sea but it's also the language of the internet (there's also Google Translate to get you out of a serious linguistic hole, as we discovered in Sicily). So why bother with the fiendish twists and turns of Turkish grammar?

I don't know. Because it's fun? Now, when I go to the market, I can mostly make myself understood, give or take the occasional blank look. Bir tane taze sogan lutfen - one bunch of spring onions, please. How's that? It's much harder to understand what's said to me, but I've learned to say tekrar lutfen (please repeat). I get a buzz out of recognising written words and that's happening more and more.

Language reveals itself in stages, but there are breakthrough moments. This morning was one of those. Zehra, who isn't a teacher but one of us, a boater and a Turk (those two are not often one and the same), decided that the time had come to introduce us to verbs. Not just a few useful phrases which include verbs - like "I don't understand Turkish" and "Do you speak English?"-  but a cluster of common verbs in their infinitive forms. You can do so much more in Turkish with an infinitive at hand, it turns out.

Yapin! (please do it - from the verb yakmak, to do)
I'm not saying it's easy, but Turkish has its own logic, and when you get the logic, then the language becomes seductive. The scattergun approach of the tourist phrase book is completely useless to me. I can't hold onto random words.  If you give them to me in their barest form, like roses pruned right back to their root stock, I start to see how words grow and blossom into the extravagant forms that constitute conversational Turkish.

Sogak bira icmeyi seviyorum

"I love to drink cold beer."

That sentence definitely has a future once the unstable weather of April has passed through.

Sicak kuzu ve beyaz pilav yemeyi seviyorum

"I like to eat warm lamb and spiced rice".

I've been playing around in the galley, using a cookbook called Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen, written by an Englishwoman called Angie Mitchell Sunkur who, I believe, is married to a Turk and lives in Bodrum. A couple of nights ago I made her lamb shanks and spring greens recipe (Terbiyeli kuzu kapama). The shanks are cooked on top of the stove (I used the pressure cooker) in a broth and covered with lots of spring onions, lettuce leaves and other spring greens (I used beetroot leaves), garlic and dill.

Alex wasn't convinced by the lamb, but then he has bad childhood memories of boiled mutton. I enjoyed everything - kuzu, pilav ve fava.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Core business

Enough of tulips and blossoms. Let's get on with boating. The season won't wait for laggards.

Last week, before bad weather interrupted play, we were on a roll. Ergun, from Erinox, put the finishing touches to the stainless work which allows us to use our Simpson davits to lift the dinghy with the outboard motor in place (how this wasn't achieved in Port Napoleon where the davits were installed is something we've tried to forget). He also made a protective stainless cage for the dump load resistors, gadgets which keep the wind generator from overspinning (are you still with me?). Alex spent a day prepping for the installation of the D400 wind generator and 24 volt solar panels, drilling and threading electrical cables through small spaces. Then Ramazan gave us (well, figuratively speaking - at 30 euros an hour) a very long day and in theory Enki's alternative power sources are wired to their regulators and dump load resistors and we have power to burn. In theory.

The first shipment of boats has arrived from Thailand
On Friday, we called a lay day and walked around the town, primarily to loosen up the joints in Alex's irascible back. One day we'll get to the new Arts and Culture Centre, but our usual scenic route takes in such delights as Omer's Anfora chandlery (to pay him for Volvo engine oil and coolant, and to confirm that he would deliver our re-galvansied anchor chain to the boat once it was lifted), Marlin Yachting (to buy new zinc anodes), West Marine (to look for navigation charts for northern Greece - what were we thinking?), the bank, Rashit's Anil Marin (to pick up and carry back to the boat very long battens which will stiffen the bimini he has made to shade the aft deck)....and on the way, we met some friends and chatted. The pace is picking up in Marmaris.

Dale and Rick, winter friends from Netsel 

On Saturday, Enki was lifted to have her bottom cleaned, fresh Hempel Olympic anti-fouling applied and her hull polished. I'm not sure if I mentioned that at the Netsel marina Christmas lunch I "drew" as my gift a free hull polish, donated by Guven Marine. It's time to claim it. When Seval Guven (who is Dutch-born) saw the growth on Enki's bottom as she exposed her undersides to the air, her face fell. "It's much worse than usual," she told me. Perhaps, but others say that marine growth has been especially bad this year. Mehmet Guven and his team seemed to have no trouble scraping it off, I have to say.

What Enki grew on her bottom over winter (and below)

Traditional Turkish hard stand construction

That was a couple of days ago. Since then we've had huge winds and now heavy rain. It's spring time. Good for the tulips, but not so good for boatwork. Enki is propped up in the yard on thick wooden poles secured in place against her hull with chocks (above). The poles are made stronger by connecting wooden struts, quickly banged into place before the travel-lift straps are removed.

Two hours later, the hard stand is finished and the bottom muck cleaned off
We had kittens when we first saw this hard-stand arrangement in Turkey in 2011. We said then that we'd never leave our boat in a marina which didn't use solid metal frames. Well, at Netsel, there's nothing else on offer. Boats much bigger than ours are supported by the same method. I think they may have lost some over the years, but they don't talk much about that.

Omer man-handles our chain out of his Fiat Doblo, every Turk's car 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The rites of spring

Wildflowers at Hierapolis
Yesterday it was our turn to be ticked off by the marina staff for flying a sub-standard Turkish flag. We'd heard of others who'd had their faded and/or ragged courtesy flags lowered and tossed onto the pontoon. No ambiguity about the message. Turks take respect for their flag seriously, and its red should be as vivid as field poppies or young blood - not dried blood, as ours was. No problem. New flag hoisted that afternoon, with due respect.

Refreshing the flag is probably a seasonal rite here, as much as lifting your boat to have its bottom cleaned and its hull and topsides polished. We're due to be lifted in four days. The yard gets busier and busier. We've locked in tradesmen to clean the fuel tanks (remembering last year's drama) and "polish" the fuel, and to tune the rig which was new last year and has stretched. Alex is a fair way towards getting the solar and wind power up and running, and of the few jobs that remain, most are straightforward. Except, of course, we're talking about a boat...straightforward does not seem to exist in the boating vocabulary.

Ed and Sue Kelly (right) at the northern entrance to Hierapolis
To keep a sense of perspective, you need to get out among the ruins. Remember how fleeting life is? Back in the 1st century BC, the citizens of a luxury spa resort called Hierapolis thought it was really important to have a solidly-built house in which to rest their (dead) bodies. On Sunday, with Ed and Sue Kelly, we walked through fields of wildflowers and shattered stone mansions which are what remains of their illusions after earthquakes and centuries of pillaging and weathering have done their work.

Hierapolis tombs - they are spread along a 2km road

Hierapolis (about three hours north of Marmaris, near Denizli) had one of the biggest graveyards in Asia Minor, not to mention a huge marketplace and grandiose baths. On the first day of spring, hang gliders floated over its scattered ruins and the limestone terraces of Pamakkale which cascade down from Hierapolis in spooky mimicry of a glacier....and everywhere there were people, and life was good for them, and for us.

Local tourists at Hierapolis

Paddling on the travertine terraces

Turkey is so chock full of ruins that you can get a bit blase about yet another ancient city. But not one place we've been to thus far has failed to astonish us at some point. The warm mineral waters at Pamakkale which were (and still are) reputed to be therapeutic are certainly lovely to dangle your feet in, and the icing-sugar terraces are one of the marvels of Turkey. But Hierapolis's city fathers, who came from the very splendid city of Pergamon further to the north, built the most amazing theatre which Italian archeologists are restoring - and that's what took us by surprise, even more so than the often-photographed terraces.

Hierapolis theatre now (above) and as it was in 1955 (below)

A statue of Triton, taken from Hierapolis theatre

While we were on the road, Kevin and Mei slipped away on Whisper HR, the first of our Netsel marina winter crowd to set off cruising this season. They're headed towards Croatia, and then perhaps Italy next winter. We've enjoyed their company but we're learning that what you say is not "goodbye" but "see you down the track".