Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Pictures Taken in Istanbul

A few pictures I took while in Istanbul. I've got loads more aswell as videos. Just trying to figure out how to get them directly from the Picasa files where I can do wonderful things to improve the pictures to the blogsite. This may take awhile but I think I prefer Picasa over Webshots.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Istanbul - Talk about Culture Shock

Though this isn't Moondancer's adventure its the best place to post my latest journey and as I'm languishing in Sultanahmet, Istanbul with weary legs from walking a few miles before noon today I've decided to take this time to post a blog. Wish I had the log for the 12 day voyage to help jog the memory.
This was a delivery aboard a 57' Jeanneau - very roomy, brand new on its way from one boat show to another and then on to its new owner. This boat had 3 cabins, and as there were 2 females aboard we shared a room with 2 beds. Had to build a heavy duty bolster down the middle to keep us from rolling onto the floor depending on the heel. Actually the heel was mostly in my room-mate's favour, not mine so the bolster was an urgently needed device, after the first 2 nights of me sleeping around trying to find somewhere to sleep - sleeeeeeeep; a most precious skill which I seem to lack in almost all circumstances unfortunately.
The trip started at the Genova boat show, we arrived very late from our different parts of Europe and had to go through all kinds of antics to actually get onto our boat. This very large boat show - billed as the biggest in Europe was shutting down as we arrived and had already removed some temporary floating dock, which actually meant that the only way we could access the boat was to swim across a 60' span of water balancing my 80lb luggage on my head. This after travelling all day and walking a couple of miles pulling said luggage didn't go over too well. So we found someone who found us a dinghy with an outboard to use as a ferry. Good.
That could get John and I over the water but we had to go back and find the rest of the crew who were arriving later, and we had to find food, so we stashed our bags on the boat and went looking for the others knowing that we now had a way back.
We met them at the entrance to the marina and all took off in search of food.
Now that I've started writing this I remember that there are too many stories in this story, so I'll try to stay on track. There was only 1 restaurant within walking distance while the other 2 members of our team, Skipper and Kat (Kadri is the other female crew and the skipper wishes to remain nameless)dragged and carried their respective 100lbs of luggage. The restaurant was a ridiculously pompous affair which made us all feel like very hungry paupers wishing for a Pizza Hut.
So we ate, got back to the marina and the impassable but for our makeshift ferry docks to find you guessed it the makeshift ferry was gone to the other side. So after walking long distances in search of another way around we gave up and nicked another dinghy without a motor and punted across ferrying crew and baggage - finally we got our heads down for a sleep.
We had 10 days to get from Genova to Istanbul in hopes of getting the boat in time for the Ist. Boat Show on the 20th Oct. and my cheap flight back to Malta - Air Malta only flies twice a week to Istanbul at a very reasonable price - the flight was on the 20th. That's why I'm here in the basement of the very cheap hostel that I'm staying in. One thing that I've learned about yacht deliveries - there is always something that will happen to cause delay so never book the return flight.

The skipper had the same idea of route as I had hoped for which really pleased me - south with a bit of east from Genova - stopping at Capri for fuel and a bottom cleaning to speed us up, through the Messina Straits, which were much nicer than the last time I went through. On up to and through the Corinth Canal which is a remarkable though primitive 6km gouge through land separating mainland Greece from the Pellaponese (probably not spelled right) then down a bit until turning the corner into the Aegean (several warnings about how rough that would be - and it was) and then through the Dardanelles into the beautiful sea of Marmar up to Istanbul and the Bosphorous.
We did get to sail a bit - but mostly motored which was to be expected considering the time constraint. We basically had to keep going at mostly 8kn to make up for fuel stops and the times when headwinds just prevented us from doing that. No crashing through waves - sometimes we actually cut the revs down to a motoring speed of under 6 knots to prevent the crashing. (I mock only because in Moondancer we would feel really chuffed to do 6 knots - and that would have to be with a following wind).
The trip was not without a couple of dramas - in the Gulf of Corinth we were repeatedly hit with 48 knots of wind, hail stones that hurt when they hit you which were all happening in conjunction with vicious lightning and thunder. Motoring into that was not desirable and it was too much for autohelm or hand steering, so we waited it our just idling around at the mouth of the gulf doing 2knots in circles keeping out of the way of fishing trawlers who still fished in spite of it.
In fact lighting and rain were pretty routine at night. Though some of the days were bright and sunny each evening the clouds moved in - all thundery towering imposing looking clouds.
We pulled into what was to be our last fuel stop before the Aegean in Greece (I'm sorry to say I've forgotten the name of the place for now), fuelled up from a funny little tanker on the back of an ancient pick-up truck, got some provisions, I picked oranges from trees that lined all of the streets in the town, bought Greek Gyros cast off our lines to find - Uh oh quick tie back up again - we called to walkers on the wall to catch thrown lines and in we came. The engine would not keep running in gear - we speculated bad fuel as we'd just refuelled, then clutch, then fouled prop. This all happened at dusk so we opted to stay the night and dive under the boat in the morning - actually Kat dove under the boat and sure enough we have a whole fishing net wrapped around the prop.
We found a couple of local divers - not pros, but guys who liked diving. One of them was a physics Professor who was working on his dive master. They cut the net off which took about half and hour with 2 of them working on it and by noon we were on our way again - with due warnings about the Aegean.
We had also been doing regular weather checks and knew what to expect.
It took us that day and night to get around the bottom of whatever that part of Greece is called and around the corner into the Aegean early next morning. For the next 2 days we rolled from side to side in a following sea in 30 - 40 knots of wind. Thank God that was not on the nose.
Coming through the Dardanelles at night in heavy traffic took all of us on watch and the skipper hand steering - in pouring rain and of course the prerequisite lighting and thunder.
Once through we were rewarded by the beautiful relative calm of the Sea of Marmar which reminded me alot of British Columbia's Desolation Sound - similar looking land and waterways. The shipping lane was predictable and hazards were well marked - so the pressure was off. We also enjoyed our second visit from a large school of Dolphins who stayed and played with us for awhile - always very uplifting.
We came into the vicinity of Istanbul after dark, no rain and thunder now - and no autohelm. It quit about 3 hours out. But that was ok we still know how to steer with our hands. We came into Marinturk about 11.30pm - they were expecting us and sent a tender out to guide us in.
We were very glad to be in, and set about putting our belongings together before we retired for much desired sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep.
We were a good crew - we all got on well together and everybody pulled their weight, even John who was really guest crew getting in a few more miles while heading home to Turkey.
Everybody but I had flights booked home for the next day from the major airport in Istanbul which is on the European side of the Bosphorous. So somehow Kat and I had to get from one side to the other in a country where not only do they not speak the same language but their alphabet isn't even readable (by us).
Lucky for us the owner of the yacht delivery company was there and was going back himself at the end of the day - we accompanied him lugging our tons of luggage through the streets (actually he was now lugging my 80lb bag - with wheels) until we found the tiny bus which took us for the next one and a half hours to the ferry to cross the Bosphorous, where we had to buy a token (all instructions in Turkish of course), run to the turnstiles, and run on the ferry just before it pulled out. Cross the Bosphorous then lug and walk another distance to this hostel called the Dong Yang. If I didn't think that Istanbul was extremely foreign before its certainly been reinforced by the fact that most of the other inhabitants of this hostel are Orientals - not sure where from - some of the young men look like Genghis Kahn or Hannibal.
I'm in a district of Istanbul called Sultanahmet and I am being very careful about where I venture because the City is enormous and I will most certainly get lost if I don't leave a crumb trail. So I've already walked a hundred miles in the last couple of days - not dragging luggage - and will do a hundred more before I head home on Monday morning.
Not sure how successful I'll be with photographs but I've got lots and will try to post them on this antique computer - if not I'll do it when I get home.