September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye

September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation

September 1, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing

August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez

August 1, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind

July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap

July 1, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec

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

June 1, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua

May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising

May 1, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica

April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There

April 1, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama

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

March 1, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal

February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal

February 1, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific

January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week

January 1, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef

December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2

December 1, 2011

November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise

November 1, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question

October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers

October 3, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World

September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come

September 1, 2011
Sailing for Humanity

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

August 1, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish

July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books

July 1, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas

June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala

June 1, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise

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

May 1, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala

April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas

April 1, 2011
At Last in the San Blas

March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon

March 1, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!

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

February 1, 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 1, 2010
Stuck in Curacao

November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing

November 1, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks

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

October 4, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal

September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing

September 1, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea

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

August 1, 2010
Bonaire Diving

July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire

July 1, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles

June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent

June 1, 2010
Right Place, Right Time

May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle

May 1, 2010
To the Grenadines

April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon

April 1, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II

March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1

March 1, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing

February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations

February 1, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands

January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa

January 1, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............

December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing

December 1, 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 1, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise

September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles

September 1, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well

August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca

August 1, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca

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

July 1, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia

June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa

June 1, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails

May 15, 2009
Into Africa

May 1, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia

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

April 1, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles

March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling

March 1, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports

February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta

February 1, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2

January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1

January 2, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time

December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear

December 1, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend

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

November 1, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz

October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman

October 1, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins

September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta

September 1, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story

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

August 1, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians

July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca

July 1, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe

June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece

June 1, 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 1, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget

March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi

March 1, 2008
Home Sweet Home

February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising

February 1, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World

January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free

January 1, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free

January 1, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni

January 1, 2008
About Feel Free

January 1, 2008
Voyage Itinerary

April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living

By Liz Tosoni

36 09 05 N, 28 18 32 E

After a month cruising along the southwest coast of Turkey, and the small Greek island of Simi, soaking in the scenery and general Aegean ambiance, it was time to think about winter boat jobs: enclosing the cockpit to capture the sun's warmth and keep out winter winds, disassembling and greasing winches, inspecting and refurbishing sails and rigging, repairing genset and other gear, sanding and varnishing, reupholstering, just to name a few.
Let the chores and projects begin, now that Feel Free is safely tied into her winter marina berth

It sounds pretty sexist but onboard work does tend to break down into “blue jobs,” such as those related to safety, power, and mechanics; and “pink jobs,” such as those to do with beautification, comfort, and nourishment. This is just how things have naturally evolved over the years, even though I (Liz) never dreamed they would when we started out. The season's first storm has already come and gone and more are on the horizon, so we made a run for our chosen marina: Marmaris Yacht Marina.

We had to figure out a way to get from boat to dock. Ergo, the plank

Mediterranean Mooring

Coming into Yacht Marina, our welcoming committee consisted of two professional, able-bodied chaps in a RIB with a large outboard on the stern. One fellow immediately boarded the boat while the other proceeded to our spot on the dock. Almost all boats go stern-to the dock. When Feel Free was successfully backed into mooring position, the newly arrived crew took the “slime line” (a small line attached to the main mooring line) and led the line forward, securing it to a bow cleat.

Rather than relying on one mooring per boat, a series of moorings are joined by a line of 6-inch link chain to which the mooring line is secured. After you see the arrangement on the bottom, you need not lose a minute of sleep for fear of dragging this mooring.

Believe it or not, in all our years of cruising, we've never needed the proverbial “gang plank” but now, as we lay comfortably on our mooring, we couldn't help but notice that our stern was almost two meters from the dock. Since I (Tom) had no plans to drill holes into my surfboard and use it as a passarelle as they call it in these parts, the first matter of business was to scour the boatyard for a discarded 2x8.

You can leave your boat in the marina, on the hard, propped up by logs

Abandoned planks were in abundant supply, so it was only a matter of drilling holes in a nice one and securing it to the boat. On the dock side, the plank also was drilled to take some lines that we led to the arch at the stern of the boat; this will enable us to raise the plank at night, when we’re away from the boat, or when the water gets so choppy that the passarelle would otherwise start banging on the dock. Our solution to Med mooring is simple and functional, yet as we walk the docks we see countless other ways to accomplish a clever passarelle, some of them being engineering marvels.

More sophisticated gangplanks, such as this nifty passarelle, were used on many European boats.

A Case For Cruising Turkey Over the past 40 years, the Turkish yachting industry has grown by leaps and bounds and 21 first-class marinas now dot the scenic coastline, from Istanbul in the north to Antalya in the south. Since our arrival in the country in June 2007, coming from the Red Sea, we've managed to check out a few of them: Kemer, Finike, Fethiye, Marti, and Marmaris. Each one has its pluses and minuses, so why did we choose this one?
The Marmaris Yacht Marina is vast, and has all the amenities we were looking for, at a great price

1) Price -- Marmaris Yacht Marina has the lowest rates in Turkey and probably the entire Med. (Netsel Marina, also in Marmaris, is considerably higher, but it's immediately next to the town.) Following are the rates for a yacht of 13-14 meters at Marmaris Yacht Marina: -Daily mooring: 20 Euro or $29 US -Monthly mooring: 151.7 Euro or $220 US -Six-month mooring: 900 Euro or $1,314 US -One year mooring contract: 1,806 Euro or $2,636 US At approximately $7 US a day, moorage fees are pretty hard to beat anywhere.

We are finding all the hardware we need here. In fact, the selection is the best we’ve seen since leaving San Diego.

2) Location -- Marmaris is a large natural harbor, scenically splendid, known as the pearl of Turkey. There's a 16th Century citadel on a hill just behind the harbor. The surrounding hills are covered with a carpet of pine trees. From the marina, it's a 25-minute “dolmus” (local bus) ride to town. There's good hiking, with pleasing panoramic views of the area. Dalaman airport is just over an hour away.

Winds pick up from the south later in the day to 25 knots and honk all night long. We’re up and down like yoyos checking to make sure we aren't dragging or swinging into the other boats nearby that are tied to moorings with stern lines to shore. Morning dawns grey and uninviting with winds still strong. Yawning and tired after a restless night, we decide to spend the day, reading, writing, hiking, even though it might be smarter to take advantage of the southerlies to carry us to Marmaris. Soon enough…

Turkey is world-famous for it’s ancient steam baths, known as the hammam.

There's room for 1,000 boats on hard stands (boats are propped up with logs) and 650 in the water. It's like a miniature boat city really, a maze of boats of every description, with two TravelLifts (330-ton and 60-ton) -- lots of room in the inn. Compare that to the western Med where prices are usually sky high, especially in the summer months, and spaces fill up early in the season.

4) Boat parts -- There's a section of Marmaris town that's completely devoted to yachts, with every shop you can imagine. There, you can find everything you need from electronics to liferafts to refrigeration to rigging to upholstery. When we first set foot there, we couldn't believe our eyes. Not since San Diego have we seen such a wide selection of boating goods and supplies. West Marine is also being set up in Turkey. The first one will be in Istanbul in May 2008.
Liz was inspired by the beautiful carpets and textiles of Turkey, and reupholstered Feel Free’s main settees.

5) Social Scene -- A large and friendly international liveaboard community is found in the Marina, with boats hailing from all over the world. A host of activities, social events, and programs are organized throughout the winter: daily hiking (0730); visits to the “hammam” (Turkish bath); Turkish, German, and French lessons; seminars on various topics; quiz night; Kids' Club; exercise classes; organized festivities at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year; outings to places of historic and cultural interest; beading lessons, and so on. Every year in February, a trip to Istanbul for the Istanbul Boat Show is planned, sponsored by the Marina owner, including welcome party, boat cruise on the Bosporus, meals and complimentary jacket. Participants only pay for their hotel plus a small fee for the bus fuel.

Our German marina friends from the sailboat Odin, dressed in their Christmas finery

6) Good repair facilities and shopping -- Because of the long tradition of wood-boatbuilding in Turkey, carpentry, painting and upholstery are particularly good. It's nice to know that professionals are on hand if you need them. A weekly market offers tables overflowing with all manner of colorful and delicious produce, cheeses, olives, dates and figs, nuts and oils, and all things for which Turkey is famous -- pastries and breads, local souvenirs, as well as carpets, clothing, bedding, shoes and leather wares.

Everywhere you go in Turkey, you can enjoy the age-old art of carpet making

There are also a number of regular grocery shops and large and small supermarkets in town. The other day, I (Liz) was aghast when I discovered my change purse with cash and credit cards missing from my pocket after spending a couple of hours in the market. Trudging back to the market, heavily laden with all my purchases, I thought “this is a long shot but I've got to try.” First stop was the garlic stand. “Merhaba. I lost my purse. Did you find a purse?” I nearly cried when the young man replied, “Is this your wallet?” “Yes!” I quickly replied, totally surprised. “What is your name please?” He checked my name against the one on the credit card and handed it back to me. He’d already reported it to the police. My face was beaming as I walked away, thinking this was just one more reason to love Turkey.

Turkey is one of the most beautiful cruising grounds we’ve visited so far.

A Few Negatives
Of course it can't all be good. There have to be some disadvantages, you say, and you're right. Our biggest annoyance about life in Marmaris town and Turkey in general, is the age-old custom of bartering. You feel as though you can never browse in peace. When you ask for the price of something, you know that the price they quote you is far above the price the locals get charged. Sometimes, it's twice or three times as much!

It helps that it’s winter, when the tourist population is small. We don’t have to haggle as much about the price of everything

Marmaris is a tourist town and touts abound. Sometimes it helps to say: “I'm not a tourist. I live here.” It’s a game and at first it can be fun, but when you live here, it gets a bit tiresome. Actually, though, we've noticed that recently, the behavior is different. The sales people seem to realize that if you are here in the cold months, you mustn't be a tourist, and there isn't the hard sell. They likely enjoy a rest from the game themselves during the slow season. Another irritation is having to exit the country every 90 days to renew your visa. The boat is welcome for 18 months without leaving, but the individual has to depart and have the passport stamped in a foreign country every 90 days or face a considerable daily fine. This can be expensive and time consuming. Turkey has her share of problems both political and economical, but when you’re a guest, it feels as though you’re sheltered from them. The foreign media scare people off and give a wrong impression of this welcoming, safe, friendly place. It's become our new “home away from home.”

We need to leave the country every three months in order to renew our visas, so we take the ferry to Greece.

We were on an inland trip in Konya, walking back to our inn, when a man stopped us in the street to ask if we had somewhere to stay. When we told him yes, we did, thank you, he said if we didn't have a place, he would like to invite us. “I am Kurdish. I have a home. You can stay with me and my family.” He wanted to let us know that ordinary Kurdish people are good. They get a bad wrap in the press and maybe he wanted to educate us. That's the thing about cruising and traveling; it's a kaleidoscope of surprising stories. Wintering over in Marmaris Marina allows us to tackle our boat projects in earnest as well as get to know the people and countryside of yet another fascinating landfall. We’re very happy to be here.


Along with our new group of international group of friends, in formal attire no less, we celebrate New Year’s Day with a dip

The meltemi is a fierce weather system well known in this region. It’s nice to be snug and safe in the marina when they blow