We have decided to sell our beloved George Buehler Trawler, LeeZe. The blog posts on this site are some of our adventures during our time cruising and meant to shed some light on the cruising life. Enjoy our posts and please contact us for more information on the places we have been or information on our George Buehler Trawler in Çanakkale. The complete collection of our travel blogs can be found here: http://whereisleeze.blogspot.com
2015-06-17 We left Çanakkale, Turkey yesterday and anchored over night at Kapatepe, the port where the ferries from Gokceada discharge their people. And that is all that is there. One restaurant shoreside to handle those waiting for the ferry, and a bunch of fishermen
Underway this morning at dawn for Alexandroupolis, Gr, a 43 nm run. LeeZe was fine, and the seas were calms. A Turkish Coast Guard Ship comes alongside and asked me who I am, and where I am going, we provide answers, and he departs. Guess he was satisfied. (He also probably scanned us with his infrared scope to verify that there was just two of us on board.) Had some dolphins frolic with along the way and we get into Alexandroupolis at about 1300 and moor side to.
Start the check in process and by 1530, we are done, having NOT done steps we did the last two previous check-ins. (We think they will catch up with us.) Hooked up shore power, water, satellite TV and had dinner. By 2030, a t-storm started up that literally by wind alone had LeeZe rolling about 5 degrees. Still IP as I write this.
We are here in Greece during what should be interesting times. The lady that gave to us our transit log says we are the 6th boat to check in this year, and from her mannerisms, that is too low a number to be “normal.”
We are moored along a quay that is used to load trucks and cargo as there is no city wall to tie up too. We hope they will move us to a nicer part of the port but am clueless if that will happen.
Now 2155 and the rain is tampering off. Probably.
But as usual, there were some chores to be done before departure.
One event that did not happen this year was that Mom never came to visit. We missed her not coming!
Our Tender: Every Fall, after fogging the 2-stroke engine, I left the tender on the boat deck, clean it up all nice and stuff, cover it, and tie it down. This Spring, when I uncovered it, it was FILTHY!. No clue why! Check the cover for holes and found none. Maybe I put the cover on wrong or something. So, cleaning it took a day+, with pressure washer, scouring powder, soap, and grit. Ugh.
Then, when my neighbor was gone, we dropped it into the water along side. (OH yes, at first the hoist would not operate. Electrical issue. Then, I remember a C/B that I left open because I could not find an electrical outlet that it controlled. (I completely relabeled all electrical breakers on board over the winter since some were wrong from the yard and some were labeled in ways that was just plain embarrassing.) Turn that breaker on, and now the hoist works. (I later go to the label shop and get them to engrave the label!) Now the moment of truth. With the fuel tank full, new spark plugs installed (last year engine would not start because I had forgot to connect the wires to the plugs) drain plug installed (forgot that two years ago and had a bit of a scare as the tender filled up pretty quick) etc etc etc, pull to start the motor. Nope, nada, not a chance! Ain’t cooperating, being a PITA, etc. etc etc. (This happened our first full season in Mersin, and at that time, I had failed to fog the engine correctly the previous Fall so the repair was over $150.) After numerous pulls, and still no success, the memories of Mersin flood back. So, take a breather and look into the box I have where I keep tender accessories, and what do I see? I see me being stupid, dumb, idiotic, an imbecile. There staring right back at me is the red “key” one has to install on the arm of the motor because it prevents the “dead man switch” from letting the engine run.
So, slapping me about, I install it and the first pull, the motor starts. Relief. Take it for a short joy ride, all is well, bring it back along side, lift it back up to the boat deck, cover it up, tie it down, and done for that day with that chore!.
Changing the oil and fuel-water filters: So, LeeZe’s Iveco engine needs about 20 liters of oil per the manual. There is a mechanical pump built into it and unlike in previous years, started this chore when the March winds were still blowing. Getting the first 15-16 liters out is easy; (including the sample) maybe not so hard is a better choice. You pump and out comes the oil. Fill 5 liter empty water bottles and all is going smoothly for the first 3. The next one, well, out comes two liters. Before draining I was down ½ liter or so so, in my mind, I need to get two more to come out. By this time, Zehra has a chore I need to do so we go do that.
The next morning, I decide to tacking the oil change again. This time, looking at the filter, and realizing that it is upside down, and probably full of oil, I punch a hole in its top and hear the rush of oil flow. Pump again and get another liter plus. Putting oil pads around the oil filter to catch any drips take off the old and install the new, but not tight as I am thinking that maybe with the fill cap off and the oil filter not tight, more oil will drain down.
Meanwhile, remove the four fuel-water filters and install new ones. The ones from the SEPARS filters do not look so bad, especially the starboard one as that is what is used during fuel recirculation ( some 200+ hours this past winter alone).
After installing those filters, I can test the integrity of the fuel system by running the fuel record pump and low and behold, the last filter on the engine is leaking diesel fuel like a sieve. I am not using original IVECO filters but substitutes that Iveco of Marmaris sold to me. which were different from the substitutes that Iveco from Izmir sold to me two years ago. So, after much sleuthing, I come to the conclusion that the Marmaris filters are wrong.
Go into town and talk to my “oil man” who gives me another make and mode to try. This also leaks, so I am back to him for another one, which also leaks. Finally, I ask him to special order the same make and model that was on the engine. He says they are very expensive and that is why he usually does not stock that brand! I ask him to get me four from Istanbul, which he does, and he charges me about $5.50 for each. (The ones on his shelf are less than $3 each!) Install the “expensive ones” and no leaks!
Meanwhile since the above fiasco took days, I was able to pull out some 19 liters of oil.
So, now, I tighten the oil filter and ponder how to get the oil from the 14 liter can out of the can and into engine. I have a hand pump but it is too small and too slow. The can is too heavy to hold above the engine and pour, so in the end, I transfer the oil from the can into liter bottles which I then transfer to the engine. Note to self: Next time dummy, buy oil in smaller jugs!. Finally got the oil in, and start the engine. All is well, stop, refill (oil filter took a full liter!) and restart, run until warm, check transmission and shut down.
Hull Cleaning: Asked around and found that there is a place up stream from us that will take LeeZe out of the water and pressure wash the hull and put her back in. The waters in the straits are filthy and hull growth is a serious issue. But he wants well over $1000 so ask around and find two divers willing to do it for 1/3 of that. They even provide a before and after video just to show you what they cleaned. They came, and took about 8 man-hours to clean LeeZe. Next year we are scheduled to paint but the divers reported that after cleaning, the paint looks pretty good soooooooooo maybe we can delay a year. Will decide later!.
So, due to weather, there was no good day to do a a seat trial. I know I should have but we ended up departing that morning a little earlier and instead of going to our first stop, we meandered around the marine for a hour JUST in case. But there was no need to return so we did move on.
2015-06-23: We are along side the wall, a big rubber tire messing up the hull paint, but the authorities are clueless to resolve. I cannot move forward as there is a sailboat present. Cannot move back because a big ship is coming (heard that for the last 5 days… still no ship!). Can’t remove the tire as it is just too darn heavy.
But I take the good weather to pull 100+ meters of 13mm anchor chain out of the locker and lay it along the wall. Once out, washed it down, verified the paint markers at every 20 meters of chain (two were wrong), spray the entire chain with galvanizing spray paint, and then remark the 20 meter points.
That took the better part of the day and by 1800, was slowly reloading the anchor chain into its locker.
Town is typically Greek. On Sundays, only cafes and restaurants are open, with the exception of two tourist shops by the ferry dock. After 1 PM on Saturday, nearly all shops are closed. Many are also closed Monday and Wednesday evenings so they can be open on Saturday Morning.
All seem to close around 2PM and reopen at about 6-7 PM. All then close between 9-10 PM.
On Sunday afternoon, we found the young people filling up the cafes along the beach, ordering expensive euro coffees and talking. There is at that moment no word about any resolution to the financial crisis currently IP (aka Grexit) and to us, they are acting as if all is normal.
Also on Sunday, the Greek coast guard vessel comes back from the night out with what appear to be refugees on board.
There appears to be about 10, and after tying up, a fancy Greek Government bus shows up and the people get on that. From their looks, they look scared and frighted. Not one was smiling, (at least from what I could see.) The newspapers every day have stories about refugees being pulled from the waters between Turkey and Greece, many being found dead, etc etc. Kos, the Greek island near to Marmaris is overrun with them. Many are fleeing from Syria
Monday, it rained a light rain from noon to well past midnight, which helped wash down LeeZe.
2015-06-30: Since my last entry, the Greeks have been either unable or unwilling to resolve their debt / loan issues with their EU counterparts and the IMF so a vote will be held Sunday to ask if the people if they should accept or reject the latest offer proposed. In the meantime, the country closed their banks and limited ATM withdrawals to no more than 60 € a day.
This all happened over the weekend. So, last Saturday night, we went out for dinner and our customary walk. Restaurants were full and people were out and about. I suggested that this was their way of saying a last “hurrah” to the life they knew. Sunday’s walk found much of the same, but with the ATM restrictions in place, standing in long lines at the ATMs that have euros has now become a thing they must do. We had dinner and Zehra posed in from of the city’s restored lighthouse.
Monday, again long lines, very long lines in the morning. Even lines at 10 PM when I joined one to see if my debit card worked. It was Monday so judging crowd size is hard as Mondays is typically not so many out, but we conclude there are fewer out than customary. One waterfront fish restaurant of many was busy, and of the cheaper fast food places, only one or two were busy. Some cafes and bars had some customers, but most were quiet.
Oh and yes, my debit card did work and I was able to get the max I am NORMALLY allowed so the 60€ limit does not effect me. (Did hide this from the people standing behind me as I did not want to draw attention that I had a different /larger limit!)
On board, the ship aft continues to run its generator loudly and I continue painting the aft deck. A sailboat came in in the afternoon for a crew change and water so I lent him my hose. Some man who claims he comes from the Port was quite ANGRY with me for doing that because I come to learn that the Port changes a 25 € fee to open the electrical-water supplies and then some more based on what is used. So he was angry because I let them use “my” water. When we checked in, we were told utilities were included so will resolve this when we depart.
2015-07-02: I am here in Alexandroupolis, Gr and have seen only “no” handouts on the street. The restaurants and bars are full, and people are happy, so it appears that they are not concerned about Sunday. There are long lines at the ATMs (even at midnight!) but even that has just become a chore people now add to the list of chores they do every day. The lady at the hardware store says she will vote no because she believes that the EU really does not want Greece to give up on the Euro so another sweeter offer will come. She absolutely believes that the drachma is not in Greece’s future, but if it does come, all Greeks will be much better off.
2015-07-03: Someone commented “These people look like the passenger on the Titanic sipping their drink oblivious to the coming disaster.” Wed., I would have said that seems to be true but yesterday, it appears they now realize (to continue with the analogy) that the cold water lapping at the bottom of their shoes indicates the ship is sinking. Yesterday, the ATM limit for Greeks went DOWN to 50€ (from 60). The restaurants, bars and cafe along the waterfront were NOTABLY lacking in customers. The restaurants in the “alley” next to the port, which are always cheaper than the waterfront ones, (but none serve fish!) had probably 70% less customers on Thurs. compared to Wed., when we ate there. More ATMs were empty and those that were working had long lines, even at 10PM, when I took my money. (I took because sometime next week, Greece may actually run out of Euros to dispense!) So, it appears they realize something is happening. How bad it will be if they vote “No” they cannot comprehend! Our plans are to move to Kavala on Sunday to arrive Monday. Today we paid for our 18 days here @ Alexandroupolis (~116€), went for a walk, and then came back to LeeZe.
2015-07-04 Happy Independence Day America! Here is not so festive. Per an observation I made on a WSJ article: I am here in Alexandroupolis, Gr and was out this morning shopping. It appeared that the supermarkets were more crowded than last Saturday, and the items in most peoples’ carts seem to indicate that they were buying items to stock up just in case. (The oldish lady in front of me had numerous packages of macaroni and chocolate items.) I did see credit cards in use, but those stores made their use difficult. The cafes were FULL, as were the lines at the working ATMs. (Not as many working as earlier in the week.) The cafes had lowered their prices across the board. I talked with one youngish lady in a market and she will vote no, even though that means that her kids will be paying the price for the country’s actions when they are old enough to enter the job market. She said that there has been too much pain and it has to stop. But then went on to say that a “No” vote will not end the pain, only make it last longer. I also spoke with a Greek Port Authority (Coast Guard type) person who said the Greece has been around for 2000 years, and will survive this, regardless of the level of pain inflicted by others. But he also admitted that the previous governments and the people that elected them are the cause, for which we all must have to pay for. He said he does not plan to vote tomorrow, but his co-worker, a female, did chime in that she will vote yes tomorrow, because her child needs her to.
After shopping, did stop by the port police to get the outbound stamp. Per everyone we talked to with the Port Police and Port Control and the Greek Coast Guard, our stay and fee includes electricity and water. However the Port Authority, last week and came by and say “oh No, not true. We charge 25€ to OPEN electricity and water and then a fee of 1€ per Kw used and 4€ per 1000 liters of water used. Well, no one giving me my outbound / exit stamp said anything about this and I did NOT raise the topic. I consider those charges to be a rip off. The commercial freighter behind me is using 380V / 3 phase electricity (had to– his decrepit generator that made such a loud racket that we nearly departed a week ago, but it broke) must be paying those charges.
The Port Authority did report that a private yacht marina is being built just to the NE of the commercial harbor but right now, all there is is a sea wall and there is no money to finish. We heard this story in Chios, Samos, and Rhodes so it must be a “greek thing!” One last walk tonight and we depart toward Kavala tomorrow, weather permitting.
Note that we plan to be at anchor tomorrow night and enter Kavala on a Monday, a weekday when there probably is more support for us to moor. Also, if there is a decision on yes or no vote, and the people get angry, we would like to have some water between them and us. Prudence seems to dictate this decision.
2015-07-10 We have been here in Kavala since Monday. For would-be boaters that are consider visiting in the June-Oct period, the inner harbor is occupied by yacht club members and charter boats and the corner seems to be reserved for the daily fishing boats that go out at night and come in the next morning. As you enter, with the inner harbor dead ahead, there is a quay wall on the west side facing south that has in some places steps coming down from the wall.
These spots are usually reserved for Kalava people who cannot get a place in the inner harbor. This quay is way over two meters high above the water line so the steps are all but a necessity. Med moor is the only way possible to moor to this wall. There is ONE shore power pod every 150 feet or so and then there are no more. On each pod is one power outlet (16 amp) that you feed a 50 euro cent coin in one at a time to get 2-3 Kw of electricity. Water is the same way. There are two outlets, and the same coin gets you 10 minutes of water. As this wall runs west, there are no shore power pods and no steps. There is also a wall pointing south as one comes in that has no services what so ever. So, with the high wall, the poor electrical and water supplies, the sparsity of said supplies……… this place is NOT friendly to yachters. The man that runs the port, Gregory did say that there are plans to put in floating docks but given the monetary crisis, one should not hold one’s breath. (BTW, plan to arrive at THIS port M-F, 0800-1500. Outside those hours, the Port Authority people on duty will advise you to wait until the Port Control office opens on the next business day.)
If one needs shelter from a storm, on the far west side of the harbor is a storm anchorage that has good holding. With the arrival of two to three ferries a day, I think anchoring anywhere in the vicinity of the inner / outer harbor is just not in the cards. One could ride out a storm anchored there, but I think you would be told to move if you wanted to anchor for a few days and see the city.
Gregory goes OUT of his way to accommodate you if you plan to spend some time here. He got us metered electrical and water supply and told us that the spot we are in is “owned” by someone but that person has yet to put his boat in the water. We may have to move. Gregory did say that we PROBABLY could take one of the fishing boat spots in the inner harbor, but then he retracted that saying we just might piss them off. He implied that they use the spots without paying but I am not 100% sure. We tried to moor in the inner harbor and were consistently, and quite dramatically waived off, even though on the VHF, we were told to moor there.
Kavala itself: Well, the view of the old city to the east of the inner harbor, behind a quite substantial fortified wall, with a reasonably restored castle / fort protecting the old city from marauders is IMPRESSIVE! Walking that area takes one breath away, literally and figuratively. There is a “train
to help you get up most of the way to the castle. The view is breathtaking!
The city’s tourist office is quite helpful and answers all one’s questions. Up from them is a food shopping area, consisting of a huge supermarket on the first floor and above it, a fresh fruit, vegetable, meat chicken cheese etc etc market that is open 6 days a week. First we have every seen this and it seems to have reasonable prices with good to great quality. Dining out prices APPEAR to be higher than Alexandroupolis.
Services: There appears to be a shipyard to the east of the port and in the old city, men who work with their hands making nearly anything one could need are all around. Stuff I could not find in Alexandroupolis I found with ease here. But, for the record, the hardware stores in Alexandroupolis are far superior than the ones here.
2015-07-19 So it looks like we might get a guest soon so we are sticking around. Yesterday, we went to Thessaloniki by bus since a review of the facilities there indicates that the marina is so far out of town that for an extended stay, we would have to use busses to get into and out of town. The city has a city wall, but it is open to the sea, and because of the absence of boats, they probably do not allow people to tie up to it.
Plus, it has no services. Thessaloniki has stores that we have yet to see, and on Friday, nearly all stayed open during the 1500-1800 period. Many were full, at least those running significant sales. Those not were not full. I would estimate that 50% of the store fronts are closed. We visited the castle on high and walked down to the water front. There is a commercial port that seems to have seen better days. One might be able to moor there, but all the gates we saw were closed and locked, so access may be a problem. The marina is to the SE and may be 10+kms outside of town. Did not see it. There was no indication of riots like those reported in Athens the previous night. The city is much more expensive than Kavala.
Saturday, the government announced that the banks will be opened on Monday for some business. Given that they were closed three weeks ago, that seem to bring a sigh of relief. The crowd along the waterfront Saturday night were festive and alive. Or so it seemed to the Saturday night a week ago. Even the carnival with the rides was bustling. Today, I saw no one waiting at an ATM to make a withdrawal, something I had not seen in the last 3 weeks. Today was not as festive as yesterday, but even the retirees that were sitting on the waterfront’s benches seem to have some smile to them.
2015-07-21 So yesterday was the first day that banks were open after 3 weeks of being closed. Took a bike run to buy bread in the morning and each of the three major bank branches in town were packed to the rafters with people. ATM lines were also long as many banking restrictions still remain. Had to move LeeZe last nighttime space to port which we did, but got the word just before dinner and after my shower. With some help from ashore, got most of the work done by 2200 and resolved to finish the work today, which we did. Took ANOTHER shower and went out for ice cream in lieu of dinner. Today, cleaned up, made an adaptor that allows me to plug my 50 meter shore power cord into LeeZe as it really is only an extension cord. washed aft deck, loaded water (source was 100+ meters away so had to run all my hoses just to get it onboard!). Finished up just before dinner and mustered every ounce of remaining energy just to get to the shower. No walk tonight! Zehra went alone. Just nothing left in me tonight.
It turns out we should have moved a long time ago. Having the passerelle lined up with a sloping ramp of a not-in-use ferry loading dock is much safer and easier to us than lining up the passerelle with the bottom step of a 5 step staircase that one can only use when the boat is not being jostled too much.
It appears that the everyday mood of the Greeks is improving. No scientific process followed. Just observing. What is STRANGE is the fishermen that use to come and fish by us every night stopped about 5 days ago and have yet to restart. Had a talk with the Captain of the 25+ meter fishing boat moored next to me. In a nutshell, they go out 6 nights a week, 11 months a year, catch MAYBE a half of ton to a ton of fish and sells that to the local market for between 2-3 euro a kilo. After expenses, the owner takes half and the crew gets half. Backbreaking work and from what I can see, safety precautions are not a priority. The men wear flip flops, handle rope with their bare hands, and wear no eye protection.
2015-07-25: Guests from Turkey arrive: Zehra’s sister and her husband. They were in Ankara when Zehra’s Mom decided that she wanted to visit a relative in Istanbul. So, they drove Mom to the relative, left Mom and took an overnight bus to Kavala that got them here at 0730, bone tired and exhausted. While MANY Turks drive here, apparently to get across the border one needs to have European Insurance and an International Driver’s license, which may be a PITA to get, especially on short notice.
Our guests settle in and there is more happening now: More food to prepare, more shopping to be done, more time at the beach, and of course, the dishwasher is getting a workout. No problem! All are happy.
2015-07-29: We depart Kavala for the island of Thassos.