Checking out the fish in the Aquarium

It had been two weeks since I touched down in Bodrum with the intention of getting Esper ready for a season of sailing. In that time we had managed to take her out once, a quick motor from Yat Lift to the marina, a grand total of two kilometres! After getting her into the marina I had been itching to get her back out for a proper sail but the weather just hadn’t allowed it. It had been blowing up to Force 8 with some very cold winds, so Liz, Chris and Duygu left Turkey last Sunday with just that one 20 minute trip under their belts. I was determined to get Esper out this week to make up for it.

Chart showing The Aquarium within the context of other areas mentioned in the Turkey logs
Chart showing The Aquarium within the context of other areas mentioned in the Turkey logs

aquarium-boatsEventually, on the Tuesday of the first week in April, the weather appeared to turn for the better. The cold northerly winds (the meltem) had dropped and the general temperature seemed to climb back up to what it was like a week previous. On that day I met Nilgun for lunch and bumped into Jon from Centurion Yachting. He was accompanied by one of his new skippers for the season, Teddy, who had recently completed his Yachtmaster. Despite explaining that they had a fair bit of work on over the next few days I managed to convince them that they needed to come for a sail on Esper. It didn’t take much convincing.

I awoke Wednesday morning with a few dull aches and pains. On a whim I had decided to join Bilge at her Latin dance class the night before and I’d forgotten it had been a few months since I last went dancing. I’m determined to master the quick step though! A coffee injection later and a cursory glance at the weather forecast confirmed my suspicion that today looked like a nice, gentle day for a sail. The morning started off quite sunny but overall it was a little cloudy. This didn’t stop me catching the sun though (must remember that Factor 30 next time). I spent the first couple of hours making good the boat, stowing everything away (read cramming as much crap in the cupboards as possible and padding them out with cushions) and generally walking round the boat inspecting things, making it look as if I knew what I was doing. The photograph above was taken from the deck of the boat – not a bad view, eh? My next door neighbour Mustafa, who works as a skipper aboard the motor boat Canary, appeared, so I invited him along for the trip. Actually, what happened was I asked him if he too was going out to sea today. He misinterpreted me as asking him if he’d like to join us and yes, he’d love to come. It didn’t matter though, I had already invited him to join me sailing one day anyway, so today seemed like as good a day as any.

aquarium-gangplank1The great thing about Bodrum marina is that you always VHF when you are entering and leaving and they send a pilot boat out to help you with your lines. Most of the boats here are stern-to, which means you use a gang-plank to get off the back as the bow is tied to an anchored line (photograph on the the right shows Esper’s gangplank off the back of the boat). Anyway, we were off and our first port of call was the fuelling depot. Esper’s tanks were almost empty so I chucked 150lt of diesel in. Unfortunately marine diesel isn’t cheap here like it is in Europe so I ended up paying petrol prices for this. It wasn’t until afterwards that Mustafa pointed out it’s worth fuelling up on Kos (it being part of Greece and therefore within the E.C.). The other problem with fuelling up here is that the credit card machine didn’t like my cards, so Mustafa and I had to head back down to the marina to pay. It’s not a very interesting point really but I thought I’d include it in there so when I look back on this log as an old man I’m prompted to remember the first time I filled up my first boat with fuel. Hehehe.

aquarium-boysRight, quick motor out, main, mizzen and genoa up and bang, we’re cruising at a whopping 2.5 knots! Michael Finnegan’s whiskers would have been perfectly safe in this paltry five or so knots of wind! We got the stay-sail up and managed to pick up almost half a knot. We were aiming for a popular anchorage called The Aquarium, just further west along the coast from Bodrum near the town of Bitez. With a north-westerly it meant we had to Taçk a few times on the way but we learnt that it was actually easier to Taçk with the stay sail up as it helped the genoa change sides easier. We also played with the mizzen and its boom too, repositioning it by shackling it to one side of the boat. The sails looked a little grubby in places so a note has been made to clean them.

This little jaunt also allowed us to try out the B+G autopilot. It appeared to be working ok, though it did sound rather laboured. Jon explained that it could need its oil changing/topping up, so that’s going on the list of jobs.

To get our line of approach right we continued past The Aquarium and started to pick up more wind as land mass started dropping away. Before we knew it we were up to seven knots, which I didn’t think was that bad considering the gentle breeze we were playing with. We eventually tacked back towards The Aquarium with the aim of playing with the anchor.

Local residents criticise our anchoring techniques
Local residents criticise our anchoring techniques

The Aquarium, so called because of the abundance of fish in this area (apparently), is a nicely banked bay. We took just two attempts at anchoring here, though we did have fun and games with a twisted chain which caused a slight annoyance. After our successful second attempt I went up to the bow to have a chat with Jon about interesting anchor-related facts, and as we did I managed to break something off the windlass. It was only an aluminium hinged cap to keep the rain out of the anchor well but it’ll probably cost a pretty penny to sort out. Add that to the list of jobs too. Hmmm, at this rate I’ll be working on the boat more than I’ll be sailing it. “Welcome to the world of boat ownership” I hear seasoned boat owners snigger.

Despite the overcast sky it was a nice little taster for what we’ll hopefully be doing all summer – sailing up to a secluded bay, dropping anchor, kettle on and sit back and relax to some nice tunes. There’s just one thing wrong with that last sentence: the words ‘secluded’ and ‘summer’ are not used in the same sentence in Bodrum. I’ve seen how many gullets there are in the boat yards and if even only half of them are out this summer it’s gonna be a race to see who can get to the anchorages first.

aquarium-teachAnd that’s it really. We motored back because Jon insisted he had to do at least an hour’s worth of work for the day but it was, as it always is, an absolute joy to be on the waters aboard Esper, sailing or motoring. I don’t like talking about the knocking noise we get when the motor is revved anything between 1800 and 2500 rpm, but that’s a job Yat Lift are still to sort out. They think it is the flexible coupling not tightened up correctly. I hope it is too. Anything more and it could mean lifting Esper back out again and, to be honest, I’m quite happy where she is: in the water!

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