Tenaya's Journey From
Thailand to Turkey
19 July 2014
It was an April Fools' joke, we just didn't know it yet. The big ship swept Tenaya off her keel and promised to take her back to Antwerp if she could get to Phuket by April 1. Somali pirates threatened the Red Sea route and we didn't really want to sail around South Africa, so this was the ideal solution. Although we were two-thirds of the way around, we had not set out to circumnavigate the globe.
We left Palau, blasted through the Philippines, spent two weeks exploring primary rainforests in Borneo, picked our way through the coral-strewn Sulu Sea, marveled at the number of ships in Singapore and sailed four days non-stop up the Malacca Strait to arrive on time.
In searing heat under the blazing sun, Jim and I pickled the watermaker, took off the windvane, packed up the jib, stored the inflatable kayak, took out the log and gave away our four jugs of diesel and all of our petrol.
With a load date of April 15, Tenaya was ready 10 days early. We notified Michael, the Peters and May shipping company rep, that we were going to Angkor Wat for a few days. He said not to leave; the load date had been pushed up and we might load as early as April 10. So, we stayed. And waited.
On April 29 we received an apologetic message, this time from Simon. Peters and May had nominated a different vessel which would leave May 28-30. They offered a full refund if we wanted to jump ship, but we stuck with them because we wanted to go to Antwerp. Sevenstar, the alternative, was only going as far as Turkey. Jim repaired the air conditioner and we settled in.
No biggie. Other yachties' blogs had warned of delays. We were making friends, hanging out with Bruce and Alene who were refitting Migration, working out in the gym, learning to prepare Thai meals and having fun. We were not prepared for the message we received from Simon on May 7:
Jim, Thanks for your commitment however we have recently had a further two cancellations including the largest of the yachts. With this in mind we no longer have sufficient revenue to make the sailing a reality and rather than drag our remaining clients though another embarrassing period of uncertainty we would rather simply cut our losses, refund all monies and allow you to make alternative arrangements.
They bailed, just like that.
Neal and Ruthie aboard Rutea suggested they be renamed Peters and Maybe not.
Sevenstar had already approached us and we had turned them down. Now, the only space available was below deck. Not wanting to remove the mast, we declined again. Perhaps we would stay in Thailand and ship the following year. That would be pretty cool.
A few days later Sevenstar offered space on deck aboard the last of three transports from Thailand to Turkey. We accepted and Tenaya was booked to Istanbul.
Chris, who works for the Sevenstar agent in Thailand, owns a charter business in Phuket. He has a knowledgable crew of captains, divers and helpers. He said to be out at the big ship, anchored three miles from Ao Po Marina, at 0800 on May 29.
We jilled about for half an hour while they built the cradle on deck to hold Tenaya. Two men came aboard and, with the help of two divers, positioned two large, orange straps around the hull. The current would have made this job impossible had we been tied to the big ship.
Once the straps were in place, Jim steered Tenaya over and we tied up to the Da Cui Yun homeport: Hong Kong. This vessel is different than most bulk carriers because it has its own cranes.
The backstay and topping lift had to be removed so the crane's crossbar, which would attach to each side of the strap closest to the stern, could reach the proper position near the mast.
The divers went back in the water to be sure the straps were set properly before the crane lifted Tenaya out of the water.
The higher Tenaya rose, the stranger I felt. We are supposed to look up at her keel and see fish, not birds.
We were confident all would go well. From the beginning, Chris and Marieke answered all our questions and explained what to expect and how to prepare. The ship's crew had been working together longer than most, Chris said on loading day, and Sevenstar had flown in their own rigger and loadmasters. Tenaya would be fine.
Two yachts ended up being transported inside the big ship. Maggie Drum and a 46' Najad. That was a first for Chris, and a lot more work. The owners of Maggie Drum had left Phuket for England after Peters and May assured them they would take care of getting the yacht on the transport ship. When they bailed, Duncan and Caroline were left high and dry.
Sevenstar came to their rescue as well. Chris had his guys take Maggie Drum to another marina, unstep the mast, package it up, and return it to Ao Po. In the end, it worked out fine. Maggie Drum and the Najad had their masts restepped together at Atakoy Marina in Istanbul. Two days later, they were on their way south.
Tenaya's solo voyage, in company with ten other boats on the Da Cui Yun, was scheduled to take three weeks. Jim and I spent a few more days in Phuket at Bruce and Alene's condo before taking off on land travels in Laos, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
We caught a glimpse of Tenaya coming up the Bosphorus on the Da Cui Yun. Boy did she look small. We were on a hotel rooftop terrace with Malcolm and Bev whose boat, Chappie, was also aboard. The date was May 29, one month to the day since we'd last seen our floating home.
The agent drove us to the dock where we waited with the crews of Chappie, Maggie Drum, Diesel Duck, the Najad and one other boat until they allowed us to board. Up the fixed stairway we went. I grabbed a wire line instead of the handrail and a thick coating of grease squeezed between my fingers. A Chinese crewman chuckled and gave me a cloth glove. Not sure if I was meant to wear it or clean with it, I spent the next 15 minutes wiping.
Tenaya sat snugly between Chappie and another small sailboat, behind a large powerboat. Cradles were welded to the deck, chains kept them in place. Six straps on each side connected each boat to the deck. Aside from a dusting of dirt and barnacles baked on her bottom, Tenaya looked fine and quite secure.
Chappie was unloaded first, then Tenaya. We were told to go aboard and undo the backstay. Jim and I were excited to climb over the lifelines after so much time away from her.
The poor thing, now she looked weary and bedraggled. My emotions swung like a pendulum. First, she was absolutely filthy with red dirt everywhere. Bad. The dodger was still intact. Good. I couldn't see out of the windows. Bad. Her fenders were tied nicely in the cockpit. Good. The outboard was still attached. Good. As I was assessing it all, Jim pointed to the aft deck, "Yuck, what is that?"
Big blogs of black grease had oozed from the crane and splattered like massive bird droppings across the deck, soiling both the fiberglass and the teak. Whoever is in charge of greasing the big ship - I do not like you.
When it was Tenaya's turn, the loadmaster told us to get off of her. We watched from the big ship's deck as the crane brought the two large, orange straps to her stern. Workers on both decks positioned and fastened them. They released the chains and straps, and in no time, she was airborne.
She settled into the water next to the agent boat which is very much like a pilot boat, red and stout with tires all around. It acted like a giant fender between the big ship and us. Good thing, too, because when ferries went by, which was often, they kicked up a steep chop that sent us each bouncing in different directions.
Climbing down off the Da Cui Yun was more exciting than coming up. I would have jumped in a heartbeat. Seriously. That would have been fun. The rope ladder wasn't. It was scary, like the first step when rappelling off a rock face. "Just hang onto that post as you go over," said the Kiwi loadmaster. Right. It wobbled like crazy. "Try the other one," he suggested. It wobbled too. "Ah, you'll be all right," were his final words.
To sail in Turkish waters, the captain must produce a Certificate of Competency (Europe) or your country's equivalent. Ours are stored on Tenaya. In eight years of sailing, nobody has ever asked to see them.
So when the agent wanted them, we explained our predicament. He needed to show customs that someone was certified before we were allowed to board. That meant we had to hire a skipper to go with us to the marina 20 miles away. This guy did nothing for the US$200 we paid except track grease around the deck and re-tie my tidy docklines into a jumbled, overdone mess once we were berthed.
But we are finally back on Tenaya and, I must say, it's really nice to sleep in our own bed. I've washed down the deck twice. Soft Scrub with bleach got the grease off pretty well, but I can't imagine it was good for the teak.
We are hoping like mad for it to rain buckets and rinse the rigging. The water pressure on the dock is astounding so hauling up a two-part hose will only succeed in blowing out the joints and sending our expensive, non-potable water everywhere. It already shot the nozzle overboard.
There must have been some big waves and high winds during Tenaya's trip because there were snail trails of salt down the mast support, aka the stripper pole. When Jim opened up the ceiling, all the wires for the electronics on the mast were covered in salt.
So far, every project has ended in failure. In Thailand the generator died and the auto flush on the watermaker had to be bypassed manually. Jim wasn't worried because they could be fixed in Antwerp or Holland. We were going there, remember? They speak English better than we do.
Now the manual bypass won't work on the watermaker. Jim re-routed the tubing directly to the membrane housing so it is working, albeit with much less output than normal. We're hoping the local Spectra guy can come have a look.
The technician came to work on the Mastervolt generator. He doesn't speak English because, well, we're in Turkey. Our Turkish is limited to merhaba, hello, tesekkurler, thank you, and su, water. Jim watched the man try all the things he'd already done to no avail. We have no idea what the man said as he packed up his tools and left. He has not returned.
West Istanbul Marina is 60 kilometers from the city center. It's quiet, inexpensive, uncrowded, and has unlimited free high-speed wifi. There is a fish restaurant at the yacht club, a cafe, a tiny convenience store, a laundry service and a several-times-daily shuttle into town 15 minutes away.
The marina provides the best docking assistance we've ever seen. Each time a boat enters or leaves their Med-moored space, a RIB (maybe two) with two guys aboard, makes sure the yacht gets in or out. One helper steers and positions the RIB so the other, who has the anchored bow line in his hand, can hop onto the bow and secure it. The RIB acts like a big, mobile fender and keeps the yacht away from other boats. All the captain has to do is reverse into the pontoon. Sounds easy, right? You'd be amazed.
Technicians for Volvo Penta, Yamaha and various marine services are on site and a man speaks English very well in the chandlery. So far, he's either had in stock, or been able to order, everything we need. Jim surprised me with a toilet seat. I was thrilled! Only another liveaboard yachtie will appreciate the happiness of finding the exact item to replace grungy and broken with shiny and new.
The Stars and Stripes are all over this marina. We were excited because we thought all the Americans were in the south, in places like Kemer, Marmaris and Cesme. A closer look reveals Delaware painted on the sterns. Only one says Wilmington, DE, one spells it with an 'e' instead of an 'a' and there is a Daleware. It's a tax avoidance thing.
Jim and I are back in Europe, where the favorite answer is No. I'd forgotten that.
"Can I swim in the pool?" No. "Can I join the fitness club?" No. "The sign says there is a laundromat. Can I use it?" No. "Is there a place we can store our windvane?" No. "Are any of these plastic containers in the fridge yogurt?" No. "Can you order yogurt?" No.
Knowing up front is better, I suppose, than being told Yes and then Nothing happens. That's how it is in Thailand.
I miss the easy-going, helpful attitudes in New Zealand and Australia. Even if something wasn't completely allowed, they would just say, "Oh, it's all right," or "No worries, mate, go ahead."
That said, we are happy to be back in Europe. Coming to Turkey was unplanned, but has been a great experience so far. And Istanbul... We love this city! Check out our previous page and you'll see why.
Would we recommend Peters and May? No, but you've probably figured that out.
Would we recommend Sevenstar? Absolutely.