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SE Asia to Turkey 2008

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 04, 2008 04:00 PM

Published: 2008-12-04 16:00:38
Topics: Red Sea
Countries: Cyprus , Egypt , Eritrea , Israel , Malaysia , Maldives , Oman , Turkey , Yemen

SE Asia to Turkey 2008
Sarah and GB Bucknell, SY Djarrka, Norseman 447.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE SE ASIA - A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT . . .

  • Install an AIS unit available at milltechmarine.com. We have the SR161 and found the ship transmissions seen on our Radar and chart plotter extremely helpful for collision avoidance. Since we can now call a ship by name our VHF answer rate has gone up to about 95%.
  • Zoom in on interesting anchorages in Google Earth to build your cache for later use when off line.
  • Obtain a high gain Wi-Fi antenna.
  • Ship gear & guides into Malaysia. Turkey is not duty free. Egypt is prohibitive. We used land guides to Egypt, Israel and Turkey. Cruising guides we used were Turkish Waters and Cyprus Pilot and the Red Sea Pilot- the latest editions. Since many of the areas are so foreign and the names are hard to pronounce page numbers were referred to in the Red Sea Pilot and in the Cruising the Turkish Coast on the net to convey one’s whereabouts. Most everyone had the latest edition leaving the folks with old editions to wonder where the heck their friends were anchored or were heading.
  • All cosmetics, lotions, soaps and most food items are less expensive than in Turkey. It is said that Turkey is inexpensive and it is compared to the rest of the Med, but not compared to SE Asia.
  • Stock up on a few litre bottles of water to throw to passing thirsty fishermen. One clever cruiser had little gift sacks prepared with water, chocolate bars, cookies, tea bags and sugar.
  • Start an HF Net
    We used 8122 at 8am local Thai time. There were plenty of complaints about this frequency but it worked OK. We did not know it at the time but it is the freq. for the Med Net that begins in April at 0530z. By the time we reached Egypt the net was beginning at 0500z, sometimes it over ran and the Med Netters could hear us and politely asked us to stand by. It was fun to hear the Med Net since we knew a few folks on it. Listen up for us in April!!!
  • Update sailmail/winlink stations accepting email. We used winlink stations ZS5S in the Indian Ocean and OE4XBU in the Red Sea, they had beams pointed towards us.
  • Buy 20’ of chain for stern tying to rocks in Turkey. Chafe gear for lines used to tie to trees is necessary to avoid damaging trees. One can be fined for damaging trees. A 200ft line is necessary too.
  • Holding tanks are required in Turkey so sort out any holding tank problems. Spotter helicopters are on the lookout for offenders.
  • Buy Marlboro's for baksheesh in the Suez Canal-- we bought in 3 cartons in Malaysia for 45 RM each. I saw them on the street in Hurghada for 10 USD/ carton. Maybe they were knock offs. We had one carton left when we arrived in Turkey.

WEATHER
http://www.buoyweather.com/index.jsp - we made good use of this service from winlink.

Indian Ocean/Red Sea/Med
http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/marine/weather
http://windguru.com/int/index.php?lang=eng

East Med/Turkey
http://www.meteor.gov.tr/2006/english/eng-main.aspx

FUEL
All prices are per litre in USD in 2008.

Maldives - 1.50
Salalah - 0.35
Aden - 0.78
Suakin - 0.70
Pt Ghalib - 1.15
Hurghada Marina - 0.35
Abu Tig Marina - 0.33
Ismailia - 0.17

In Hurghada and in Abu Tig the workers moonlight. They buy it at the pump, double the price and conveniently deliver it right to your boat in their own dirty cans. In Ismailia you are schlepping it in yourself if you can get past the guards.

Israel 8.00 USD/gallon
Cyprus 6.20 USD/gallon
Turkey 10.00 USD/gallon
Greece 6.40 USD/ gallon in October 2008 and falling

WATER
Our 12 year old watermaker is just the right piece of equipment for us. We own it already and we haul water when it is convenient to give it a rest and top up the tanks. Water was available in a few areas. We hauled it in Uligan from the shower building. In Salalah we hosed it right into the dinghy from a tap near the “washroom”. It was available in Aden at the dinghy tie up dock. Stardust got water through Mohammed in Suakin. Pt Ghalib, Hurghada, and Abu Tig all have water at a small charge. Ismailia and Israel had free water. In Turkey there are water taps in most areas, all free. My favorite was the cold water at the road side stand just up from the Coast Guard Station in Fethiye, it comes from the Saklikent Gorge, it is almost as cold as the water from our fridge and is easy to fill open buckets in the dinghy with a 50’ hose.

INTERNET
Internet was available in Salalah, Aden, Massawa (very poor connection on our visit), Pt Sudan, Pt Ghalib(at a good expense), Hurghada(Wi-Fi), Abu Tig(Wi-Fi), Pt Suez, Ismailia, Israel(Wi-Fi) and Cyprus. There is Wi-Fi throughout many anchorages in Turkey.

PASSAGE NOTES

Malaysia to Uligan, Maldives
January 17th 2008, 1253nm, 10 days, 30 hrs of motoring.

We left Langkawi in a good wind and we experienced squally weather with occasional winds up to 35 knots for 300nm, as did most others. The shipping traffic was very heavy and gave us good practice using our new AIS SR161 from milltechmarine.com. I would not be without it ever again.

We stayed 50nm off Sri Lanka to avoid shipping and we also avoided reported aggressive fisherman off that coast.

We arrived in Uligan, Maldives on January 27th. Anchored outside the fleet at 7º04.9 N x 72º55.0 in 60’ amongst coral. As a few boats left we moved in to a nice sandy spot in 15’. It was very nice to be anchored in crystal clear water. The snorkeling next to the boat was only ok, nice fish and worth getting wet but the coral was pretty dead. We found an excellent snorkel spot with 150’ vis on the SE end of the island, lots of live coral and many fish, turtles, rays and even a shark. The current was a little strong to swim against so we drifted it with the dinghy a few times.

Officials come out to the boat and they are the nicest we have seen anywhere. Cost is 50 ruffia (4 USD) for the first 14 days and 50 ruffia / day there after.

Went on a day trip (20 USD pp incl. lunch) for snorkelling and we visited a school at a nearby island. The snorkelling was very good and it was a fun day with the group of cruisers.

We attended 2 buffet dinners (10 USD pp) ashore and the food was really good, another fun thing to do with the group.

Some fruits and veggies were available at the little store around the corner from the landing dock and other stores in the tiny car free town.

Because friends had had laundry done and reported that it came back damp and soapy I did my laundry by hand in the shower near the above little store. I borrowed a huge tub at the nearby well for the big stuff and brought my own buckets. Water is available for the taking at that location.

Fuel was available at almost 6 USD/gallon. We didn’t buy any and we didn’t get bitten from this decision. We only motored 3 hrs on the next leg.

The folks who went to Sri Lanka had a brilliant time, they raved about the sightseeing.

Uligan to Salalah, Oman
February 5th 2008, 1256nm, 9 days, only motored 3hrs.

We set out from an extremely rolly anchorage in 15 knots of wind. It increased to 25 from the NW and we could not hold the course. This continued for the next 5 days and then the wind finally lightened and went NE and we were able to sail in. It was pretty miserable but our trip was better than the few boats that left 5 days previous.

Salalah was a pleasure. Customs officials come out and check you in and then you go into immigration. The 2 fees we paid on our credit card amounted to 70.38 USD. They no longer took cash. We did the check in ourselves w/o an agent.

We were lucky that it never blew up in that anchorage because the bottom is too soft to hold boats in a blow.

Friends on Stardust and Ascension already had a car and we talked them into letting us in on the split so we always had wheels, a necessity if you want to see something besides the Oasis Club.

At our request the Oasis Club put on a barbeque for the cruisers in the anchorage. Internet is available there and in town.

We enjoyed the Land of Frankincense Museum and archeological site just outside of town.

Lulu’s is a fine grocery store and we stocked up on canned humus and fresh roasted spicy chickens, pistachio nuts, cashews, yogurt, fresh stuff, McVitie’s ginger cookies and ho hum mozzarella. There is a Lulu’s in Aden and it is bigger but horribly crowded and really not quite as well stocked, so if you see something there don’t count on getting it in Aden. I did get the spicy roasted chickens, baklava and Turkish delight in Aden though. Supplies in the countries after Aden until Egypt are limited to fresh stuff, for example, we had a hard time finding bug free flour in Suakin and Pt. Sudan.

There are many laundries in town and we were very pleased at the service. Aden has a good service too and after that there is only Massawa and Suakin and there isn’t enough water there for it to be done properly. Everyone seemed to be re-doing laundry done there.

We bought diesel fuel at 0.38 USD/litre. It was 0.78 USD at Aden unless you could figure a way to sneak cans in through the gate at 0.17 USD. One boat said they needed gas for the dinghy and brought in diesel instead.

Salalah to Aden, Yemen
Februrary 21st 619nm 6 days motored 45 hrs.

We formed a 4 boat convoy and sailed out together in a sand storm. We stayed together loosely and closed up formation further into the Gulf of Aden at longitude 48 until Aden. We stayed 30nm off the Yemen coast and had no problems and did not see any pirates. We registered with the UK Royal Navy’s Maritime Trade Organization via e-mail, ukmtodubai@eim.ae. We submitted noon position reports to them, and one of our group had a sat phone with their number in the memory. Please see pdf document “here” - link “0001-UKMTO.pdf” for instructions. We broke all the rules and ran lights and talked on the VHF using 21a. The formation was a real challenge. With 4 boats there were 4 ways of doing things and each of the boat’s quirks (slow speed, wandering self steering, poor VHF signal, bossy skipper etc.) were tolerated by all. We did OK and were still friends at the end.

There are men ashore in Aden anxious to help with various services. We used “Irish” for laundry and were very happy with the cleanliness, the last good place ‘til Pt. Ghalib. We found the taxi drivers to be overpriced. A man named Celine (sp) took us on a day tour. It was very enjoyable; we watched sesame oil being made, henna painted camels, ancient water catchments, forts, ruins and monasteries. He charges 5 USD/ hr. Well worth it.

There is a decent restaurant across the street called the Golden Falcon.

The big mall at the other end of town has a Lulu’s, Baskin Robbins and internet café among many other stores. We found a photo shop to do the many passport photos we have needed in countries requiring them for shore passes and the like. Lulu’s is best visited in the morning as it is a complete mad house in the pm. We stocked up on roasted chickens, Turkish delight and baklava in the bakery section. Stock up here on everything except fresh produce until Egypt. Massawa and Suakin and even Pt. Sudan have only little stores with a small selection of things. The veggie and fruits are adequate, though.

Aden to the Red Sea – Mersa Dudo
March 1st, 230nm, 48 hrs, motored 10hrs.

We had a very good trip up through Bab El Mandeb, it can be very windy and we only had 25 kts behind us. We slowed down to arrive at Mersa Dudo at daybreak. In hindsight I would continue on to Anfile Bay or Howakil Bay, Mersa Dudo was very windy from acceleration and didn’t have too much to offer. We did enjoy an interesting hike across the crater, and a beautiful hoopoe visited our cockpit for an hour. Light northerlies were predicted for about 4 hours and we figured we could duck behind one of the outlying islands if it got dicey; this was an OK idea in theory but probably not very doable in the dark.

I will address our Red Sea Plan of Attack.

We had read that it is an excellent place to cruise and thus started out treating it like a cruising/ snorkeling destination. We quickly learned that during the good snorkel weather we wanted to move the boat. We became more concerned with avoiding the northerly winds than having fun snorkeling. Our Red Sea transit was of the beat feet nature. In actual fact, we only had 2 hrs of 25 knots of wind on the nose, coming into Sharm Luli in southern Egypt. We paid very close attention to the weather forecasts. We used BuoyWeather.com. It is very helpful because it gives the wind speed and direction 4 times in a 24 hr period when a specific spot is requested. Grib files do not give an accurate view unless forecast times requested are for every 12 or 6 hrs at least. Wind info. once a day gives a very slanted view since during a 24 hr period the wind fluctuates from light in the night to sometimes heavy in the afternoon. One can request a spot forecast from the grib files, just click on the circle with the cross above the blue rectangle in the grib request map window, it also gives the wind speed and direction 4 times a day indicating the diurnal increase and decrease of the wind. Informative sites on the web were weatheronline.com and windguru.com.

Mersa Dudo to Pt. Smyth
March 6th, 153nm, 27 hrs, motored 9 hrs.

Pt. Smyth has an easy entrance through a reef and it is fairly well protected from the SE winds. We only stayed here a day. It was a wee bit windy and murky for snorkeling and we wanted to get to Massawa to relax in a good anchorage.

Pt. Smyth to Massawa, Eritrea
March 8th, 32nm, 5 hrs, motored 1 hr.

We waited until the south wind came up and sailed a few hours. It is a nice calm enclosed harbour. We were going to take the bus to the capital but as we arrived 2 cruising boats leaving called on VHF and reported theft from swim aboards the previous night. So we just checked in for the allotted free 48 hrs and did a little exploring ashore during the day. It was fun walking around and having a few meals ashore. It is very poor but we found the people welcoming and we enjoyed it. Loud music from a high school graduation celebration caught our attention and we were invited in for the dancing, the Eritreans really know how to rock out. 2 boats in the fleet wanted fuel and spent 2 days getting it and said never again. We bought a few fruits and veggies at the open air market.

Internet was available but did not work during our visit.

Massawa to Shubuk
March 11th, 255nm, motored 6hrs.

Checked out the Mintaka anchorage and gave it a miss, ended up anchoring off Jezirat Durwara. Electronic charts were way off here. Took the dinghy around to Long Island and had a look at the beautiful pink flamingos and osprey nests.

Shubuk to Suakin, Sudan
March 13th, 39nm, motored entire way in light northerlies.

Suakin is another protected harbour and extremely picturesque. It is an expensive stop because of the check in fee(140 USD total) but it is important to have full fuel tanks leaving here (0.70 USD/litre), next easy fuel stop is Pt. Ghalib (1.10 USD/litre). From now on motoring in light northerly winds is probably the best it gets, not too many more southerlies. It is very poor and the food ashore is limited. Good fruits and veggies but we found the restaurants weren’t too good. We shopped the veggie market in town to check the inventory and then went in to Pt. Sudan by bus for the day. The market in Pt. Sudan is good and fun to see especially the ladies selling peanut butter from atop their heads. We didn’t find a regular grocery store. There is excellent internet at the Palace Hotel.

Suakin to Pt. Sudan
March 20th, 34nm, motored whole way.

This was a convenient overnight stop. It is a busy and noisy port but very protected. We were not approached by the officials and we did not go ashore. We did not want to pay the reported very high check in fees so we were off at daybreak.

Pt. Sudan to Marsa Fijab
March 21st, 30nm, motored whole way.

Nice and protected here and we went snorkeling to find some pretty fish life but lifeless coral.

Marsa Fijab to Kohr Shinab
March 22nd, 100nm, motored all but 3 hrs.

Kohr Shinab is a very nice protected bay. Did the hike up the hill and boy was it hot and dry, but very beautiful in a desolate way. The snorkeling at the entrance of the channel was exceptionally good.

Kohr Shinab to Sharm Luli, Egypt
March 24th, 245nm, motored all but a few hours.

Here is where we jumped Foul Bay. We had a great weather window for this. We only experienced 25 knots on the nose towards the very end of this leg. It was very unpleasant motoring into it but didn’t last very long before we were safely anchored in this extremely protected bay, our first in Egypt. There is a small army post here and the young officials came out and gave us a visit, we gave them a crew list and that was about all, we did not check in. They were very polite and asked that we come in to their post; we did that and took them some tea and sugar. We spent 4 days here waiting for the wind to subside. We were allowed to hike around the area. We attempted to snorkel because it was clear and the coral looked pretty but the jelly fish with tentacles were too thick. My hands were stung miserably from just handling the dinghy painter.

We passed Dolphin Reef at 2300 and it was a shame because we missed a swim with the dolphins. The folks who had the fortune of stopping there raved about it.

Sharm Luli to Pt. Ghalib
March 28th, 71nm, motored whole way.

We were very happy to get to Pt. Ghalib (pronounced gallop). We tied up to the customs dock and checked in. We asked for a 2 month visa. They only gave us 1 month, which is what they gave everyone, no matter how many months were requested. Luckily, we realized it before there was trouble. Extending it in Hurghada was very cheap (23lbs- a few dollars) and easy, just a little time consuming. We had Mohammad at Abu Tig Marina write the name and address of the immigration office in Arabic for the bus driver, which made it easy to find. But for the boat, make sure you get clearance for your whole stay in Egypt as extensions are difficult/ impossible.

We moved over to the regular dock and tied up for what was to be a week, we were disappointed that there was no water at the slips. The internet there was shockingly expensive. The slip fees for a week were about 100 USD. When we arrived quite a few folk were off on a trip to Luxor. As the crow flies it is shorter to go to Luxor from Pt. Ghalib than Hurghada but one must go to Safaga to join the required convoy anyway so it makes it just about the same distance. In regards to touring Egypt, do consider getting the boat to Ismailia, leaving it there and taking the 8lb. 2hr. bus to Cairo and organizing everything from there. That way you have all of the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez behind you. We did Luxor and the Nile from Abu Tig Marina and it was OK but we were very lucky on the Gulf of Suez with the weather because we were still very early. Don’t be tempted to think you have totally made it once you reach Hurghada or Abu Tig, the Gulf of Suez can pack a punch.

Another reason not to leave the boat at Pt. Ghalib is the dock set up. We and others had cosmetic hull damage there. The full moon tide came in and the fixed concrete dock was so low that our fenders popped up and the concrete dinged the hull. They do have Med style mooring which would solve that problem.

Pt. Ghalib to Hurghada
April 5th, 120nm, motored whole way.

http://www.hurghadamarina.com/

Eight of us set off and motored on up to Hurghada, it was an easy trip in light north winds. We were bound for Abu Tig where we had a reservation but we decided to stop at Hurghada for a few days first. The entrance was well marked by red and green buoys on the sea wall and easy to find. It was our first Med style mooring. We were helped in by competent marina staff in an inflatable. They passed us the stern mooring line, and the bow lines were thrown ashore to cruisers. We climbed off and on the quay from the bow. Passerelles (boarding ladders/planks) are not provided. The quay was tall enough for us to climb on and off without too much ado.

Hurghada Marina is conveniently located in downtown Hurghada near all the shops, phone stores, restaurants, chandlers and tourist shops. The marina fees were 20 USD/day and 300 USD/month, it was a flat rate for a monohull. We organized our Nile River cruise from one of the many tourist shops. It was about 260 USD for 4 days, 4 nights (one at a hotel) and lots of tours. We spent an extra 2 days at Luxor going to a few places that weren’t included. We arrived back at Hurghada from this trip at 11pm and had to get ourselves out to Abu Tig. It was a bit of a hassle so we recommend Hurghada Marina for that, and a few other reasons- it is nice to be in town, there is free Wi-Fi, and there is less sand on the boat during sand storms. The heads were nicer at Abu Tig and the office personnel were very nice. But all in all we both would go with Hurghada.

We got a sim card for the mobile phone and had fuel delivered to the dock in cans. Price was 0.35 USD/ litre.

Hurghada to Abu Tig
April 10th, 17nm, motored whole way.

http://abutig-marina.com
info@abutig-marina.com

We made our reservation at Abu Tig in December of 2007. They require their form to be filled out and faxed so we did it from Royal Langkawi YC. We paid for a month and we ended up getting a refund from them since we only stayed 11 days. They do fill up so a reservation is needed. The marina fees were 20 USD/day and 300 USD/month, it was a flat rate for a monohull. We were planning to loll around in the luxury of the marina and its peaceful surroundings but a very good weather window opened for the trip up the 175nm of the Gulf of Suez and we took it.

We enjoyed our time at Abu Tig. It is a resort and very sheltered from the rest of Egypt. The pleasant but slightly sterile new tourist town of El Gouna is a long walk, short bus ride from the marina. Hurghada is easy to get to by bus during the day, about 45 minutes or so.

Internet connection was extra, about 80 USD for a month. It can be shared, but not used at the same time.

We had our mail sent there, a first since Malaysia.

Abu Tig to Port Suez
April 22nd, 174 nm, 28 hrs, motored whole way.

Just 12 knots of northerly winds was the most we saw on this straight motor job. This trip can be pretty windy and we felt very lucky to have it so easy.

We were happy we used Felix Maritime Agency as our agent for the Canal transit.
http://www.felix-eg.com/
felix@felix-eg.com

We had made contact via e-mail and so as we approached Pt. Suez they called us on VHF and our mobile. They were on hand at Pt. Suez to help us tie up to the bow and stern moorings. We bargained hard to get diesel at 0.50 USD/litre. The measurement for the canal transit is a farce. But it will hopefully be your last farce in Egypt. We paid 214 USD for the boat ( it is 8 USD/ton and the measurement is done by the Suez Canal Authority on arrival). Our agent prompted us to give the measurer a 10 USD gift to get a low fee, it was worth it. We were initially quoted a much higher fee than the 214 USD, we went to the Suez Canal Authority office and had it reduced, it took 20 minutes. Port Clearance was 40 USD and Agent Fees were 80 USD. Some people negotiated and paid a little less.

The moorings were 14 USD/night and there is no reason to hang about there. We looked for a restaurant and did find an adequate one in a hotel.

The Prince is another agent who was popular. We didn’t use him because his business practice of clearing people out in Pt. Suez and charging 20 USD/passport annoyed us. If you clear out in Pt. Suez you cannot go ashore in Ismailia. Some people do not clear out of Egypt. It doesn’t seem to be a problem when entering Israel. We were issued a port clearance for the boat.

Port Suez to Ismailia – Suez Canal Transit part 1
April 26th, 45 nm, arrived at 1800, motored.

Our pilot came on board and off we went. He was nice. We fed him lunch and had sodas for him. We tipped him 15 USD and gave him a few packs of cigarettes. There were no issues with him. We let him steer, though we watched him very carefully. Pilots have run into the posts and of course they aren’t responsible.

We uploaded a route so we could tell how far and how long until our arrival. It was a pretty boring day.

It was alot of fun pulling into Ismailia. Lots of familiar faces and we were almost done with Egypt and that whole faze. The slip fees were 15 USD/night, one week for the price of 5 nights. We stayed 2 weeks.

Ismailia is a very nice town. Most of the taxi drivers are fair. There are good restaurants, (Nefertiti on Sharia Thawra) and a nice grocery store called Metro. Internet cafes are available in town. We snuck diesel in at 0.17 USD/litre. After 5pm was recommended. We bought extra cans to toss later because fuel in the Med is 6-10 USD/ gallon. We also topped up a propane tank.

The water was free so we washed off alot of Red Sea dirt. A hot water washing machine is available for 3 USD/load. Wonderful!

We took the 2hr bus ride to Cairo for a few days. I do suggest you have someone at the marina write down the marina address for the cabbie so you can find your way back.

Ismailia to Ashkelon, Israel – Suez Canal Transit part 2
May 5th, 188 nm, 29 hrs sailed and motored.

The pilot came at 0600 and we were off again. It was another boring trip until the end when we needed to discharge the pilot. We were told not to let the boat take him off because they would ram us. It was a hassle warding them off. The driver of the pick up boat wanted to take our pilot off and we refused to let them near. GB got the boat hook out and threatened them, in retrospect it was hilarious. We finally got away from them and dropped the pilot at the Port Suez Yacht Club. We were told that was a no no, but we did it quickly and did not have any trouble. No one in the fleet reported any trouble from the pick up boat and it was probably silly to not just let the boat take the pilot off.

We were in the Med! We felt relieved and very excited. We whooped and hollered and screamed goodbye to Egypt. We put the sails up and settled in for a nice sail.

The Israeli navy started calling us when we were 50 nm’s out of Israel. Their transmission was poor and when we could hear them clearly we answered, we were about 30nm’s away at that point. We informed them we were bound for Herzliya but it was not to be, they would not allow us to go there. The navy informed us that the officials would only be at Ashkelon. So we changed our course a little and headed for Ashkelon. We had heard so many good things about Herzliya so we felt disappointed.

http://www.ashkelon-marina.co.il/

After we were in Ashkelon for a few days we rented a car and drove to Herzliya to have a look to see if we wanted to move. It is very nice and surrounded by a mall filled with restaurants and shops. It seemed expensive and impersonal so we decided to remain at Ashkelon. We had settled in there, the free Wi-Fi worked, we liked the marina staff, the nice clean town and friends since the Galapagos Mattie and Henry of 2 Extreme were there. There is no reason to make a reservation, the entire 70 boats in the EMIR rally came in and there was still room. The only problem was the Gaza Strip. It was said that the marina would never be shelled because the water desalination plant is in line with it and the Palestinians would not want to cut off their water supply. A mall about 5 miles away was hit by a rocket when we were there. It was little unnerving but better than a gale at sea.

One cannot sail on a direct route from Pt. Said to Ashkelon. You must give the Gaza Strip a wide berth. The Israeli navy will provide a waypoint to leave to starboard.

We visited Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat and Petra Jordan by bus from Ashkelon. It was easy and very enjoyable. A swim in the Dead Sea is a unique experience. A “must do” in my book.

We got a sim card for the mobile phone at the mall.

It cost us 140 Shekels to check out of Israel, about 40 USD. We did not have our passports stamped in or out so we could enter Arab countries later.

Israel to Famagusta, N. Cyprus
June 11th, 215nm, sailed and motored 35 hrs.

We watched the weather for a crossing to Finike in Turkey, day after day the weather sites showed moderate to strong winds from the west, the direction we needed to go.

Hillel, the marina manager at Ashkelon, recommended Famagusta in Northern Cyprus. It looked easy and good so we went there. We loved it. We anchored just before dark. A young man in a local boat came by to ask if we were OK and he welcomed us. The next day we and our friends Mattie and Henry of 2 Extreme were asked to come alongside the quay because we were in the way of the commercial traffic. We tied up to the quay and it was very dirty and oily but we survived with the fender board in place and it was very nice to be able to walk off the boat. The officials came and checked us in, kept our passports and issued passes. A few days later they came and checked us out and no money changed hands for the tie up or the paperwork.

On our way to Famagusta we were approached by the Southern Cyprus Coast Guard. They escorted us for a mile and called us on VHF Ch. 16 to ask our particulars. They asked our destination and after we told them Famagusta they informed us that if we went to Famagusta we would be black listed in Southern Cyprus forever. Oh well. I guess we have been at this a long time because we weren’t upset at all. One should not enter Southern Cyprus after being in Northern Cyprus; there are rumors of fines and imprisonment.

The old town is very picturesque and pleasant. We wandered around and soaked up the ambience. We took the bus over to Girne and did some sightseeing at the castle there, great fun.

A fuel truck happened on the quay and we took on a little fuel, we were thrilled to pay 6.20 USD/gallon. Pitiful. It was more than 8 USD in Israel. Hillel told us it would be cheaper in Cyprus and he was right. We topped up because diesel in Turkey was reported to be 10 USD/gallon.

Famagusta to Mersin Turkey
June 15th, 114nm, sailed and motored 22 hrs.

We entered Turkey at Mersin, it is over 200nm east of Finike where most go to check in. We went to Mersin to take advantage of the short bus ride to Cappadocia. It was an amazing trip and a wonderful introduction to Turkey, another “must do”.

We have been in Turkey 5 months now and we love it. The people are friendly and interesting. The countryside is pretty and the food is exceptional.

The harbour hopping from Mersin all the way out to Bodrum was splendid. We did some motoring in the “Motorterranean” and improved our light air sailing skills going west with the morning northeast wind. Some of our favorite places were Tasucu, Cineviz, Kekova, Kas, Fethiye, the beautiful anchorages in Scopea Limani, Bozburun, Datcha, English Harbour and Cleopatra’s Beach. Many of them had Wi-Fi so stick that antenna out. If it is locked and you can determine a name just go ashore, find the establishment, have a drink and ask for the code.

There were very few cruising boats between Mersin and the Finike area and we really had a good time in all the little anchorages along there. We felt like we were seeing the real Turkey. We never completed a walk along the road to a town, a friendly Turk always picked us up.

Phones in Turkey
Alot of people had to buy a new phone here in Turkey. We had our 4 year old US Nokia formatted and re registered using TurkCel at a phone shop in Bozyasi and it continues to work. We visited at least 5 shops before we found one that had knowledge of putting a sim card on a foreign phone. A friend borrowed my 5 year old Australian Nokia phone and had it registered in Marmaris and it worked also, though it was possibly a different process that my phone underwent. It depends on the level of competence and understanding at the shop where you buy your sim card. It is a mystery. If you take a phone into a shop and they don’t do anything special and merely install a sim card it will work for a couple of weeks, possibly one month, and then your service shuts off and you are off to the shop to purchase a new phone for 60 to 100 YTL.

It is November 2008 and we are now settled in our winter home in Marmaris at Netsel Marina. It is marvellous weather for cooking and eating soup. I kinda like it. Life is really good here, we are having a great time. Most people go into a marina by November 1st for the winter. The summer is hot and the cruising in the fall is wonderful.

Sarah and GB Bucknell, SY Djarrka, Norseman 447.

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