Sunday, May 30, 2010


Passage to Cyprus
We sailed for a couple of hours with about 10 knots following wind, sailing at about 4 knots. As is typically the case here, by late afternoon the wind started to die. As we had to reach Girne at an exact time, we had no choice but to turn on the motor. In the open sea waves began to build up. As we latter learned, there was a gale that passed by earlier, resulting on large 1-2 meters rollers. Motoring without sails, the boat rolled heavily and it was quite uncomfortable. We took 3 hour watches. The challenge of a large convoy of boats sailing together is the risk of collision at night. At one point we passed by a boat that was off course and had to take evasion action to avoid certain collision. We were wide awake after that!

The final challenge for this passage was to dock our boat. Given the large number of boats, they all have to be docked in a tight pack, according to a strict schedule (which we completely missed due to the engine failure). In our case we had to dock stern-to, and dropping the bow anchor at the exact right moment. The directional control of the massive boat going in reverse is minimal, and I had a hard time backing it properly. After about 4 tries I finally got it right. This was in full view of about a hundred people who had completed their docking procedure with minimal fuss. Oh well, more learning for a newby and John (crew from La Limbara) became our instant hero! He offered to stay with us after the engine problem, but his biggest help was in dealing with anchoring. That’s the beauty with the EMYR, everyone provides on-going supports. The day ended with a reception in Castle by His Excellency the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Eliza was the flag carrier for Canada.

May 26

Instead of joining for a day of tour to the Lefkosa and Nicosia, we thought it might be a better idea to stay put and check out the engine and possibly, other issues. The conclusion of the engine problem was that it was our own fault – we let the tank run too low, and with the sloshing and heeling, air go into the fuel intake. The only conclusion that would come to mind is never try to be cheap --- always fill up the tank!

We spent the afternoon touring the town harbour. This trip had put a heavy toll on Ben’s wardrobe and he’s badly in need of new shorts and sandals. So the next on the agenda was to go for bargain hunting. To make sure that we have sailor’s good luck with our boat , we decided to invite some of our new friends to join us for a proper name change ceremony. --- cookies and Bruts were in order.

May 27

We signed up for a full day tour to Magosa-Famagusta, which took us through the 16th century Venetian fort, and through it’s massive protective walls into the fascinating architecture and narrow streets of the old town. We visited the Othello Tower. We also visited the gothic style St. Nicholas Cathedral built from 1298 to 1326 and converted to a mosque. Along the way, we stopped to visit St. Barnabus Monastery, where we saw icons and an archaeological museum with artifacts dating as early as 700BC. We also visited a Roman ruins at the ancient city of Salamis, just north of Famagusta. The tour ended at 5:30pm, in time for us to prepare for the next event --- the Pirate Party!

Everybody was in the party spirit and dressed accordingly. Many sailors were well prepared for the event and were in full private costumes. The buses stopped just outside the Kyrenia castle and we paraded through the harbour to the Dome Hotel and Ben was the designated flag carrier. It was buffet style dinner and we sat with the crews Manca and Lord Anthony. Highlight of the evening, in Ben’s opinion, had to be the belly dancing performance.

May 28, 2010 – departure date to Mersin
We got up early to get ready for the name change ceremony. At 9am, Manca, Enrica, Gemini, Osso gathered up and witnessed Ben’s “speech”. Everything went according to plan …. and we all enjoyed our morning champagne with cookies. Red Shoes missed the event and was very apologetic. We got invited to have a drink on their boat!

Today we are departing Cyprus and will visit the next port in Turkey - Mercin. In preparation for our departure, Ben stayed with the boat while Susan and I went grocery shopping. Ben should be happy, Eliza found Heineken.

The slow, agonizing wait of getting depart and fuel began at 11am and at 4pm, we’re still sitting, waiting. Seventy yachts, tightly rafted together, had to depart in an orderly fashion without fouling anchor or damaging hulls. Each had to take their turn to go to the fuel dock. All this happening in a busy ferry harbour! When was the turn for our row of boats, everyone found that their anchors were stuck. Apparently we all dropped anchors at where the bottom was all large rocks. What a sailor’s nightmare! One boat tried to force the anchor out by motoring in full speed, and ended up breaking their anchor shackle and lost their anchor. Finally Escapade skipper donned full driving gear and dived into the water to set everyone’s anchor loose, one by one. She’s an angel!

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EMYR - Turkey and Cyprus


The Alanya Marina is located about 30 minutes walk from the city center. It’s a wonderful new marina with first class facilities, including a beautiful restaurant, nice washrooms, tennis courts, a gym, and a small grocery store. We registered with the EMYR organizers and received our rally package, which included detailed information on the rally, T-shirts, carrying bags, flags…this is just like another business convention! We further met up with our designated group and were introduced to other group members. There were over 70 EMYR yachts at the marina, with many different nationalities. The boats docked next to us are Italians, and Australians.

The next night there was a formal reception and dinner held at the marina restaurant, with the Alanya mayor giving a speech. The setting was beautiful and the food very good. Table arrangement was by group and we sat with Algeria, Hex-On, and Rumpus. The evening ended after an hour of dancing with music played by a live band.

We took a taxi and visited the city center, a very well developed tourist area. The main attraction is the Alanya castle, which was built in 1225 on a great rocky promontory that juts out into the sea. The weather was wonderful, about 27C under a bright (almost too bright!) Mediterranean sun. We took the hour walk up the hill to the castle and were rewarded by a splendid of the old harbor.

On the last day (May 24th), an entertaining polo ‘contest’ was organized by local live-on-board yachties with the EMYR sailors. The idea was for participants to row their dinghies and to get a ball into a designated dinghy. Both sides are free to tackle and block at will, which resulted in much ramming and people jumping into the warm harbor water. It was great fun.

In the late afternoon, after receiving instructions on the procedure to reach our next designation, Girne in Cyprus, we prepared for sea and took off at 4:30PM, in order to traverse the 100 mile distance and to reach our destination on the next day in day light.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Sail to Alanya

Against all odds, we actually managed to depart Marmaris on May 20, on schedule, for the 200 mile trip to Alanya, where we will join the EMYR group. After a last-minute boat issue was resolved, we loaded up with groceries for the next several days, including some bottles of wine on sale at the marina grocery store. Then we dropped our lines at slip number 31, probably for the last time. The weather called for force 4-6 in the open sea, with ‘some rough patches’. Heading out of the Marmaris Bay we had some nice gusts. By late afternoon, it was blowing steadily at 20 knots on the beam, and with the genoa and mizzen up, Three Rivers was sailing at 7 to 8 knots. Under a beautiful blue sky, the Mediterranean Sea was a brilliant turquoise blue, sparkling with white caps. It was a great ride, until the waves began to build up and the wind shifted to a dead run, and it became extremely rolly. Things were flying around in the boat, and we weren’t able to hold down our food. The first night turned out to be a tough one.

The wind died at around 9:00PM so we had to turn on the engine. The smell of diesel certainly did not help our upset stomach! We took turns on three-hour watches, more or less. The sky was lit by a quarter moon, with plenty of stars, although not much more than what we see in Ontario when we go camping. The sea was empty, with no other ships in sight. It was a bit boring, until we came close to a fast-moving freighter and had to change course to avoid disaster. We were fully awake after that1

Day two was more of the same. The wind picked up in the afternoon and we had a great sail, and then evening was motoring time. In the afternoon we had two dolphins playing by our boat, and several swallows landed on our boat and refused to leave. One even flew into our cabin!

On Saturday May 22 7:00AM, right on schedule, we arrived at Alanya. The city fortress rises dramatically under the rising sun, with low-lying clouds and morning mists, it was a dramatic scene, heightened by our joy of arriving at our first port. After some waiting, we were directed to our slip, and then promptly met up with the EMYR group. The rally begins!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Marmaris – A new Three Rivers

Marmaris – A new Three Rivers

Our journey started in Marmaris, Turkey, where we bought our sailboat. She’s a Nauticat 43, built in Finland in 1986. We renamed her Three Rivers – after our Ho family’s siblings of three. The NC 43 is a pilothouse boat, with a good balance of comfort and performance that we are comfortable with. We spent a month refiting her and learning about the complex boat systems. Marmaris is a popular yachting center, with excellent boat services and facilities. The Marmaris Bay is a large bay surrounded by hills and is well sheltered, perfect for learning boat-handling on our new boat. We then signed up to participate in the East Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR), which has an international coast portion that starts in a month after our boat purchase. That portion of EMYR visits ports in Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt, with plenty of sailing and site seeing. All the sailors who had taken part in the EMYR reported they had wonderful experiences and highly recommended it. After a month of frantic activities of boat work and registration paperwork, we were determined to get going, ready or not...

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Three Rivers Cruising Blog