September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye


September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation


September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing


August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez


August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind


July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap


July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec


June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico


June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua


May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising


May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica


April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There


April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama


March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money


March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal


February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal


February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific


January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week


January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef


December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2


December 01, 2011
AWAY to the ANDAMANs


November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise


November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question


October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers


October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World


September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come


September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity


August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work


August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish


July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books


July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas


June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala


June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise


May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now


May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala


April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas


April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas


March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon


March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!


February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2


February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1


January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude


December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane


December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba


December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao


November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing


November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks


October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe


October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal


September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing


September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea


August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao


August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving


July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire


July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles


June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent


June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time


May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle


May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines


April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon


April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II


March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1


March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing


February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations


February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands


January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa


January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............


December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing


December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco


November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med


November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone


October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol


October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise


September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles


September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well


August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca


August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca


July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast


July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia


June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa


June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails


May 15, 2009
Into Africa


May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia


April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy


April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles


March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling


March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports


February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta


February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2


January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1


January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time


December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear


December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend


November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise


November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz


October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman


October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins


September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta


September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story


August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians


July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca


July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe


June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece


June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey


May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey


April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living


April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip


April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget


March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi


March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home


February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising


February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World


January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free


January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni


January 01, 2008
About Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary


March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi

By Tom Morkin

Keci Bucu, Turkey, and Simi Island, Greece
36 36.9N, 27 51.7E

Sailing in Turkey in late October has a couple of advantages over the summer prime time. Not only are there fewer boats, the persistently strong northwest winds that plague Greece and Turkey are finished. This Meltemi and much of the strong northwesterlies experienced in the eastern Med in the summer, result from the usually large Azores high in the eastern North Atlantic, and the predominantly lower-pressure system that takes up residence in the regions of Pakistan and India. The clockwise flow from the high produces northwest winds in the Med that are amplified by the counterclockwise flow around the low. This makes Turkey and Greece the ham in the ham sandwich.


The beautiful pine-clad anchorage of Keci Bucu, where we’d rest for a week

Come the northern autumn, both the high and the low break down as does the Meltemi. The down side of this for us is the lack of predictability of the wind direction. The truly strong winds in the fall and winter actually come more often from the south, a fact Liz and I have to keep in mind when seeking an overnight anchorage for Feel Free.

Keci Bucu is a pearl of an inlet. Running from north to south, its steep, green, pine-clad shores are a rarity in this otherwise grey and rocky region of southwest Turkey. Almost halfway down the length of the inlet is the centerpiece, an ancient Byzantine fort perched high on a small island. Strangely, this little island is home to hundreds of rabbits and not much else -- certainly no people. The locals seem quite happy about the rabbit infestation as daily we see charter boats stopping on the island's shore with food scraps. In addition to the ubiquitous droppings, the countless holes dug by the rabbits make walking around this rabbit ranch an eyes-wide-open activity

Feel Free rests at anchor near the dramatic Byzantine fort built on the island that is the centerpiece of Keci Bucu

Since getting back to Feel Free from Canada, Liz and I wanted nothing more than to spend a week or two just being peaceful on the boat. For three months, our motorcycle trip across central and eastern North America kept us in perpetual motion -- six provinces, four states, about 45 campsites, homes of five sets of friends and family members. It was a fantastic trip but a lot of time was spent packing and unpacking, making and breaking camp, and moving. Now we so wanted to be still. At the end of the summer, cruising friends in Turkey asked if we wanted to share a rental car and travel together around the country upon our return. “Thanks,” we politely replied. "Thanks. But no, no, a thousand times no thanks!"

Immediately after the hook was down in Keci Bucu, we knew this would be home for at least a week. As if this glorious natural setting were not enough, we had the amenities of a modern marina, Marti Marina, half a mile away with its small chandlery and grocery store. But the real piece de resistance was discovering that we could connect to their wifi hot spot, catch up on our email, and surf the net from the comfort of our own boat. A British family of four was to be our very convivial neighbors while in the bay. Caroline and Richard were home-schooling their precocious 13-year-old Christopher and 12-year-old Henry six months of the year aboard Mianda and then they spent the rest of the year in their home in France.

Liz on our motorbike in Newfoundland, with an iceberg in the distance.

Days went by as we sanded and painted the side decks, rebedded a leaky port, traipsed through the old fort, daily circumnavigated the small island with mask and fins, and most enjoyably got in some serious slumper time in Feel Free’s boat slumper. A gift from fellow cruisers years ago, this hanging chair is hung from the arch on the stern or with the spinnaker halyard at the bow, has proven to be one of the best alpha-wave generators my world has ever known, and has been dubbed the Number One comfort station on the boat. As I constantly tell Liz, "Slumper time is not wasted time and certainly isn't counted against me when my allotment of days in this life is assigned. It may even increase them."
Tom relaxes in his slumper chair, hanging from the main halyard – the best seat in the house.

We experienced our first Turkish gale in Keci Buku. The weather forecasters totally missed it and only by luck were we not on a bus trip and hours away from the boat when it hit. While waiting for the bus to take us to Marmaris, we met an Irish couple from the marina. I confidently explained that my two favorite weather websites – www.weatheronline.com and www.windfinder.com -- both predicted southeast winds to 20 knots. "That's interesting," said the couple. "A local charterboat skipper just came into the marina because the local Turkish radio report is forecasting a gale in a couple of hours." So, who to believe -- a computer-generated weather model created thousands of miles away, or the locals?

We scrapped the Marmaris trip. Three hours later, just as we were thinking we should’ve believed the computers, the southeast wind filled in and down went the rest of our 300 feet of 3/8-inch high-tensile chain connected to the 66-pound Bruce anchor along with a 40-pound kellet, or "angel" as the Brits call it. Basically, it's a weight secured to a line and attached to the chain in such a way that it can slide along the chain to rest on the bottom. Before the force of the wind can even straighten the chain, it must lift the kellet – this is handy also when anchored in close quarters because it limits the boat's swinging room.

Sure enough, as dusk approached, we were looking at gusts to 51 knots and spume lifting off white water. After seeing a dinghy and outboard on the boat behind us turn turtle from the wind, we quickly ballasted ours with two five-gallon jerry jugs of water. Reports from the marina where boats were breaking free and pounding against the concrete docks, and chaos reigned supreme, made our lot easier to take. In total, the storm lasted no more than six hours and by 10 p.m. there wasn't a puff of wind. We caught the 10 a.m. bus to Marmaris the next morning.
Tom sits back and surveys his world, after a day of boat maintenance.

Our plans for two months of cruising through October and November may have been a month too ambitious. Already it was hard to see how to fit in everything we wanted to do. Definitely first on our agenda was to go back to Simi for the Greek Independence Day celebrations, meander the streets, visit the museum and, last but not least, do a final stock up of cheap Greek wine. Within days, we set out.
The spectacularly picturesque island town of Simi wraps around the protected harbor.

The first matter of business after the hook was down in Simi was to go wine shopping. We purchased 50 liters of boxed red and white wine at 6 EP (US $1.68) per liter. One of the 10 cruiser commandments is: “Thou shalt buy in quantity whenever thou seeest a deal.” Making the deal even better still, the dealer delivered the wine to the dock so there was no schlepping!

In the Med, it’s critical to watch the weather, and we get our information from several sources. One is the Med Net on SSB 8122, which is cruiser-maintained and among other services provides weather information for the entire Med. The five-day forecast is given for no less than 10 regions. The five-day forecast for southwest Turkey sounded benign so we decided to take our time returning to Marmaris. So, our plan for that day was to do 20 laps around the boat, visit the museum, attend the Independence Day parade, have lunch, head back to the boat, take another swim, splash some black paint on our two opening ports on the hull, listen to NPR and BBC on our World Space satellite radio, get started on that now-substantial amount of wine on the boat, have dinner, read, sleep. And people ask, “What do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?”””

Seriously, many people, almost exclusively nonboaters, do wonder why we don’t go bonkers. “All that time on your hands,” they say, “how do you spend it? How do you keep entertained?” Well, for starters, we don’t have as much free time as many people think. Unfortunately, many of the same regular chores cruisers and land dwellers must do tend to take much more time for the cruiser. From an efficiency point of view, cruising isn’t.


No more whining about not having enough wine aboard. Now the problem will be where to put it all!

Take shopping, for instance. We usually need to take buses. We often don’t know where the bus stop is or where to go to shop for whatever it is we want to buy. We often have trouble getting directions. We often don’t have the right currency and have to go to a bank and we usually don’t know where the bank is. When we get to the grocery store, we don’t know what to buy because we can’t read the labels. Two weeks ago I was sent out for a liter of milk for our morning cereal and coffee. I returned with buttermilk. Close but no cigar! Once all the questionable food has been purchased, often bags and bags of it, you’ve got to get it back to the boat, usually via a bus that stops way too far from where you’ve tied your dinghy, which may be way too far from where you anchored your boat. You get the idea. It’s not just a matter of jumping in the SUV and slipping over to Safeway and back. It all takes so much more time.

Taking on water can literally take hours. In Aden, Yemen, last March, it took us over six hours to take on fuel over a two-day period. Just checking in and out of a country can absorb the better part of a day. A good friend of ours spent four days checking into the Andaman Islands of India, and he wasn’t allowed off the boat the entire time. And of course, dealing with breakdowns in foreign countries can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating. Occasionally though, it’s uniquely satisfying. Chasing down a welder or a machinist to fix that all-important widget takes you off the tourist track and puts you in the real Mazatlan, Papeete, or Phuket. Your interactions with these folks are a whole different ball game from the interactions you have with the server at the beach bar on hotel row -- different, and almost always more satisfying. However, it usually eats into your day.

So, let’s just say we don’t have as much free time to get bored as many think. Speaking of time, it really does fly, and I’d better go. Liz and I are here in Simi to see the Greek Independence Day parade, and we don't want to miss it!