Return to Marmaris, And The Budget


By Liz Tosoni and Tom Morkin

Keci Bucu, Turkey, and Simi Island, Greece
36 49.05N, 28 18.32E

FROM LIZ: Such a sweet spot, Simi. This Greek isle, deeply indented with numerous anchorages, looking like a jigsaw puzzle piece on the chart, is a mere dozen miles away from mainland Turkey and too enticing not to visit. From seaward, it appears grey, rocky, precipitous, barren. As you get closer though, patches of green pine forest, colorful houses seemingly clinging to the steep hillsides, goats and isolated white hermitages nestled in caves high above sea level begin to make their appearances. It was once famous for its sponge diving, the divers being known as the best in the Aegean. Shipbuilding was also a major industry of the past, and the well-crafted, well-cared-for caiques attest that the traditions have been passed on.

Simi, just off Turkey’s mainland, is a fusion of the Greek and the Turkish

Rod Heikell in his excellent cruising guide, Greek Waters Pilot, writes: "Discovering Simi is like discovering an exotic plant in the desert." How true that is. Tom and I have thoroughly enjoyed our two visits here, meeting up with old cruising friends, hiking up and down the ridge from Pethi Harbor to get to the main town site, visiting museums and monasteries, talking to the friendly but reserved locals, sampling the food, attending the Independence Day parade, and stocking up on wine and fuel -- less expensive than in Turkey.

Stopping in three of the many bays gave us a chance to see the island from different angles. Panormittis is an almost landlocked bay on the southwest corner and, not surprisingly, was used by ships in the old days to weather out storms. It was a delight to hear the gentle ringing of the monastery clock tower bell upon our arrival there.

We enjoyed the Independence Day parade

At the head of small Thessalona on the eastern side, a magnificent rock face rises high above the water, embracing the bay. What a peaceful locale for the pure white hermitage to be found on shore. Pethi, just southeast of the main harbor, is a busy, picturesque, deep inlet with a few restaurants and tavernas lining the waterfront. Muted rusts, ochres, teals, jades, and creams are the colors people choose to paint their homes, perched as they are, one on top of the next, up the steep sides of the bay.

Lovely as it is though, we have to make a move. More severe weather is approaching, we've already weathered the first storm, and each day the temperatures, both air and water, get a little chillier; skies are grey. I guess that's the price you pay for cruising outside the summer months in the Med. You get the pleasanter temperatures but also, unpredictable weather and winds. We agree to an early start and head out of Panormittis at 0800 with mainsail up.

Panormittis Bay with its dramatic monastery

"I don't want to sound like a total whinger …” -- Aussie expression for whiner and complainer – “but... okay, maybe it's just a funnel effect," says Tom about half an hour out. We were hoping for nice southwesterlies or westerlies to help us along, winds characteristic for this time of year, winds we've experienced for the last month or so. NOT. Guess what we have -- an easterly, right on the nose! "Let's just tuck into Serce again,” I suggest. “We'll be there in an hour, rather than motoring all the way to Marmaris," which was another 30 or so miles away.

"Good idea," pipes Tom.

On the way, we pass by a pretty little bay, Bozuk Buku. With binoculars trained on shore, we view something quite intriguing. Blending into the rocky headland at the entrance, a massive, ancient Hellenistic stone citadel, preserved virtually intact. We talk about anchoring in the bay to explore the ruins but decide against it when we see the many moorings, little room for anchoring, and restaurant owners waving at us to give them business.

Serce Limani is large, sparse, and fjord-like, just 1 1/2 miles north of Bozuk Buku. We once spent a night there, so we know the approach. After dropping the hook, Hassan, from Captain Nemo's restaurant, rows by for a friendly chat. "Hello mister. Hello lady. I remember you, your boat, Canada flag. I can help to tie the rope to rock." We decline the offer of help as we want to wait till later to decide whether it’s necessary.

Charming Hassan hopes for a wife

We chat with Hassan for an hour though, learning all about him and his wish to find a lady to marry. "I have good heart, I am strong, I have big muscles, I am clever, I want to be a father, but, I am not rich. Ladies always ask 'how much money do you have?' so I can't find a wife." All is said with such a good sense of humor. Anyone interested in a match with a Turkish restaurateur, let us know!

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…

Traditional caiques are still the boats of choice for local Simi fishermen

FROM TOM, A FEW DAYS LATER: We're back in Yacht Marina in Maramaris, after our one-month tour, and as is our custom, we ask ourselves how much money we've spent over the month and year to date. It’s an easy matter to know how much we've spent as all our ATM transactions, cash advances, and so on, are paid through one account in Canada that can be accessed on line. Regardless of how many currencies we've been using, at the end of the month we know how much that month cost us in Canadian dollars.

Friends from the Yacht Marina in Marmaris help us guide Feel Free into her winter slip

In a previous log, we wrote about how happy we were to be back aboard Feel Free after our three-month motorcycle tour in North America. Now that feeling is reinforced as we discover that our expenses for one month on the boat are one-third less than the average monthly expenses while back home in North America. This includes stocking up on enough fuel and wine to carry us through the winter. There’s no doubt about it, for us living afloat is less expensive than “dirt dwelling.”

During our past two summers in Canada we were utterly amazed by how much money our land-based friends and families spend. We’re not alone in this opinion. Almost all our cruising friends say the same thing after returning from their trips home, be it France, England, Australia, New Zealand, or North America. Liz and I ask ourselves, "Did we spend money like that when we were doing the old 9-to-5 back in the 80s?" We think the answer is Yes. And then when we decided to go cruising in 1982, our spending habits changed dramatically. We had a goal and began saving like we never had before.

Liz displays Chinese money, and hastens to remind us that it’s not really as much as it looks

I think it’s safe to say cruising long-term changes, among other things, your spending behavior. Firstly, most of us quit our jobs along with associated regular paychecks. Many of the work-related expenses disappear when you sail away: car, wardrobe, education, entertainment. Few cruisers need to spend money on children and related expenses. Other household expenses -- rent, mortgage, property tax, home insurance, cable, phone, furniture, appliances, home renovations -- become a thing of the past.

In return for relinquishing all or most of the above expenses, cruisers take on a whole different set of expenses: boat and boat gear, boat insurance for some (but not us), marinas (sometimes), haulouts, and so on. Clearly, these cruiser-related expenses are significant. However, I wouldn't want to trade our monthly expenses with those of our land-based counterparts.

Simi is an architectural gem, with beautiful houses, tavernas, and shops lining the protected harbor

Financial planners will tell you that you should have a retirement income that equals 75% to 85% of your working income to maintain your standard of living. In that case, if Jane and John Doe made $100,000 a year, they'd need $75,000 a year in income to retire on, according to the conventional wisdom. Unless they went cruising, in which case they'd probably spend a third to half of that amount if they lived on the budget that we and many of our friends do. In fact, in our case, it would be at the lower end of that range.

Liz has written two articles on budgeting while cruising, one being published in 1990, the other in 2002 (both in Australia’s Cruising Helmsman magazine). The first tracked our first five years from 1985 to 1990. During that time we averaged about $10,000 a year. Remarkably, that amount didn't fluctuate that much from year to year. During that period, we sailed from Vancouver to Fukuoka Japan via the south Pacific and Australia. There were no expenses for trips home during that period, and we didn't have boat insurance.

A sponge shop in Simi

In the second article in 2002, she tracked the numbers from 1996 to 2002. Not surprisingly, our spending increased for a number of reasons: we got a bigger boat, we had more money so we spent more and of course, the cost of living increased. The average annual expenditure was up to $17,000 US or about $1,400 per month. During that period, we sailed from Vancouver to Mexico, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, and Australia.

IWe've gotten a little slack in our bean counting of late, but a rough estimate for the eight-month period during which we sailed from Malaysia to Turkey would be about $17,000, or $2,125/month. That bill reflects a $5,000 bill to overhaul our 37-year-old engine, and a haulout. Now that we’re in the Med, barring any unforeseen boat expenses, we’re cautiously optimistic that we can comfortably manage on $2,000 a month. We'll keep you posted on that.

Feel Free is dwarfed and protected by the cliffs at Thessalona