We had an amazing time travelling round England visiting our family. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit lots of friends as well but we are really hoping some might visit us on the boat somewhere in Greece Albania or Montenegro this year.
Before we left Ramsgate for Dover to catch the ferry we tried to empty our chemical toilet at Nethercourt Touring Park, a nearby camper van stop. The owner – who was cleaning up the grounds when we arrived – came to greet us and was very pleasant however, even though we offered to pay, he wouldn’t let us empty the black water. It made no sense at all as the site was all set up for this purpose and a little bit of cash should have been welcome as the site was all but empty.
Feeling perplexed we left for Dover and tried at Hawthorn Farm Camping Park in a nearby village called Martin Mill just four miles from the port.
This time the proprietors were much more welcoming and amenable. They also refused any payment and instead invited us to put the cash in a charity box which we were glad to do.
We arrived in the centre of Dover late in the afternoon and seeing a ferry from the same line as we were booked on that was preparing to load, decided to try and see if we could catch that one rather than wait for the ferry we were booked on early the next morning.
We went through passport control fine but when we got to the check-in booth we were told that because we had bought our ticket via an on-line seller, not directly through the ferry line, we weren’t able to change our ticket without a hefty penalty. So we had to be syphoned out of the boarding line and discreetly let out of the security area by way of a side gate!
In the end we were glad we stayed in Dover that evening as the weather was sunny and quite warm and we really enjoyed a lovely walk along the seafront.
At 7.30 the following morning we were in the ferry queue once again but this time we boarded with no issues.
After a smooth crossing we drove from Calais and arrived at our daughter and son-in-law’s home in mid-afternoon. Spring is such a great time of year to visit the Netherlands!
The village where they live – Pijnacker – looked at it’s spring best – with golden daffodils everywhere, lambs gambolling in the paddocks and blossom decking out the trees.
Bunches of flowers are also very plentiful, beautiful and cheap in the Netherlands at this time of year and our daughter who also loves flowers certainly takes advantage of this!
We were so lucky to have fabulous weather during our stay so enjoyed some lovely walks including one to a cafe with excellent apple pie – another wonderful Dutch indulgence!
All too soon it was time to return to Turkey to prepare our catamaran S/V Sunday for the forthcoming sailing season.
It was quite a culture shock coming back to the marina in Tuzla near Istanbul – not in a bad way but life is different here in many small ways.
We saw an example of this on our first day back – there was a truck delivering milk to some cafes and homes along the seafront in Tuzla (and also collecting empty water bottles). Milk deliveries aren’t unknown elsewhere but I doubt if you’d see this kind of delivery in too many places nowadays.
First the milkman poured the milk directly from the milk churn into a plastic bag. Then the ladies living in the apartments above the cafe let down their buckets – each tied to a long length of string – and the milkman popped the bags full of milk in the buckets. The ladies then hoisted the buckets up, retrieving their milk.
Quite different to the milk deliveries we are used to!
It was great to be on board Sunday and to meet up again with Sue and John on our buddy boat Catabella.
We immediately got down to planning our route to Greece and a where we would go once we were there which will – of course – change as we go but gives us a vague sense of being in control of our lives!
With various family members and friends coming to visit on both boats the plan at least gives us some idea about where we can pick them up and drop them off.
It was really very cold when we arrived back in Turkey (“Freezing” as they say in England) so we were kind of looking forward to having a few nights in a cosy AirBnB while our boats were hauled out of the water for maintenance.
The first unit was very conveniently located with just a short walk to the haul out area and clean and tidy although the hot water was somewhat temperamental! Never mind, the heating was very effective – too hot in fact, with no way of turning it down. However, it was great to have somewhere to return to each evening where we could relax and keep warm. The second unit we hired was another story altogether – but first, the haul out!
We had expected the boats to have significant weed growth on their hulls below the waterline as it had been two years since we had last applied anti foul and the water in the marina was very fertile – it was full of weed with huge mussels growing on the rocks close to where we were moored.
Nothing prepared us for the sight of Sunday’s bottom when she was hauled from the water! We have never seen anything like it – we had a complete reef under our boat – we honestly wouldn’t have been surprised to see Captain Jack Sparrow emerge from the curtain of weed!
As well as cleaning all the growth off and applying anti foul (which we thankfully paid someone else to do) there were many jobs to do while Sunday was on “the hard”.
One of the largest projects was the replacement of three out of four of Sunday’s large cabin windows. Regular readers will probably remember that we lost a window last year in a nasty sea when we fled the castle anchorage at Kusadasi after a huge swell swept in. (https://saltytalesfrombalihai.com/2022/06/21/inundation-aboard-sunday-as-window-drops-out/)
Jonathan had replaced that window with some difficulty at the time (as he had to do it from the dinghy while the boat was in the water) and he was determined to replace the other three while we were out of the water (much easier!)
He did a really fabulous job and as well as being much safer, the new windows are now really smart and modern looking and it has made the cabins much lighter.
Another project was to clean the two engine props to perfection before applying prop glide – a special (and expensive) product that (in theory) stops the propellors from getting covered in barnacles and other sealife.
The agents for Prop Glide came to instruct us how to apply it. Jonathan and John thought it sounded fairly straightforward but asked if they could quote for one of their experts to apply it. The quote came back at a mind boggling 2,000 US dollars (around 1850 Euros!) Of course the skippers decided it would be better to do it themselves!
It poured with rain one day and not much work was done at all. At least John on our buddy boat Catabella was able to bring his son’s boat Sea Pony around from the marina without interrupting any work.
During all this activity we had to move apartments as the one we were in had been booked previously for the weekend. The new place sounded fabulous – high on the hill looking down to the boatyard and marina, lovely views and spacious – but it was a real disappointment.
Again it had dodgy hot water (it worked sporadically) but the worst thing was that the kitchen was a mess with washing up on the draining board, dishwasher full and the dishes in it not properly cleaned, a heap of empty plastic bottles on the floor, the rubbish bin not emptied and so on. The bathroom had a broken toilet seat, a scummy shower held together with sticky tape with a mop and bucket inside it and absolutely no toilet roll!
The views were glorious but the place was uncared for – holes in the wall where switches should have been, lights precariously hanging from a thread and the internet box dangling from the ceiling.
Our host’s father came round and cleaned up the kitchen and toilet roll arrived by courier so things improved and the host gave us an extra day free of charge as compensation so all was good in the end!