One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventureWilliam Feather
Well, it has been a rocky start in our yacht owning journey to say the least. We came to Turkey at the beginning of February 2020 pre-Covid 19. We did everything right in that we went through a reputable yacht broker, discussed boat history in depth with the owner, looked over maintenance and upkeep records, hauled out, engaged a yacht surveyor, checked over what we could see ourselves…and we were ready to move onboard and sail off into the sunset. That didn’t quite go according to plan! We had been living onboard in the marina for 2 weeks, gently going over all the electronics, making lists of changes we wanted to make, getting stuck into the normal upkeep that a steel yacht entails, one of those being some minor rust work on deck. Just little patches that water had crept into and needed attention before becoming a bigger problem. I set to chipping away the layers of paint, and scraping away the rust ready for a coat of rust convertor, undercoat, filler and then paint to completly secure the sites. The chap went to investigate the battery compartments and bilges. He had noted some ‘what looked like’ surface rust on his cursory pre-purchase look over. I was happily working on deck in the late winter sun when I heard a few expletives from below. The chap came up on deck and said stop what you are doing we need to prepare her for an urgent haul out! What!!! Turns out things aren’t always as they seem! We found we had a false floor that was holding the batteries up and below this was about 2 years of water that had been left to sit and slowly do its damage. We initially found a pin hole leak…this was just the beginning. I tried very hard not to panic, my mind was envisaging being at the bottom of the marina by morning, turns out a pin hole leak could take weeks if not months to do some serious flooding. No chance of that happening, we were off to the marina office arranging a haul out as soon as possible.
It turned out this discovery was the just the tip of the iceberg; we required 400kgs of steel plating on the hull, a new prop shaft, replacement fuel tank, engine haul out, anchor locker refit and a new fridge/freezer system. Don’t forget the sandblasting, undercoat, paint and anti-foul to boot. All and all about 18months of our predicted budget has been eaten up by our beautiful boat. We have been blessed however, in that our marine engineer who has been project managing for us has been exemplary. Totally professional, empathetic to our situation and went above and beyond our expectations. Even as much as going to the Provincial Governor with photos of our boat and explaining the situation to have permission granted for his team to work through lock-down periods – all this without us knowing, just to get the job done.
That was four and a half months ago. We have lived out of our suitcases in hotels, an apartment and with some wonderful friends in Kas for a few weeks. There have been some pretty tough times, not helped at all by the Covid 19 pandemic, no option to return home, being in a foreign country with limited local language and a never ending list of repairs that needed to be completed on our ‘dream boat’ to make her sea worthy. There were a few tears, I won’t lie. And maybe a few frustrations and meltdowns on my part too…my heart was breaking for the chap who has had this dream his entire life and he had researched and planned meticulously. He just wanted his boat sorted so he could travel and sail, we didn’t think it was too much to ask. On the up side we have met some amazingly kind people, seen a lot of the local area, learnt about the history and customs and become completely immersed in the local community. We even gained our Turkish Residency! As for the chap and I, we have managed to come through this challenging time stronger than ever, with a new found respect for finding the humour in most situations and looking forward to finally realising the dream.
While we were locked down in our apartment we did a radio interview with a station back home in New Zealand. Lots of fun to do – hope you enjoy it.
We decided to rename our beautiful yacht, Tea Chest. We wanted her to be completely ours, and felt this was a positive move forward and a fresh start. Tea Chest went back into the water two weeks ago to have a pressure test to ensure the welding sites were secure. Once that was completed they started putting the insides back together, electrical wiring, plumbing and carpentry. We were set for a sea trial date. It was a very exciting day, not only were we able to take her out and test the engine we were able to take her out of the marina! With the chap and I we had 7 of the boatyard team with us for the sea trial, engineers, mechanics, the Meister and our project manager. It was the perfect sea trial, calm waters, light winds and a very happy group of people who had worked so hard to get us to this point. The chap took Tea Chest out into the Mediterranean and she performed perfectly. The pull to keep going was a big one, but we turned her a round and brought her, and the team back into the marina for a few more days of internal refitting.
Finally the day had arrived, we were able to move back onboard. She was ours again to make our own and continue what we had started. We have spent the past few weeks cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, unpacking our suitcases (hopefully for the last time), sorting and stowing. There have been a few tweaks along the way, having hot and cold water running from all three points (galley and both heads), connecting the air-conditioning up (a must when inside can hit 40deg), and our new fridge/freezer unit being installed. While all this has been happening the chap has been clearing the deck, sorting ropes, sails, checking bilges, and going through the endless supply of ‘spares’. He has had a grin like a Cheshire Cat and the old sparkle back in his eyes since being back on the boat. I am so proud of how much junk and rubbish has been discarded, well over a tonne! We have donated excess equipment to some local friends and will sell some of the bigger yacht equipment that is surplus to requirements. This part has been a great cleansing process for us both, making Tea Chest our own.
What did we learn? That things aren’t always as they seem and sadly people aren’t as honest and trustworthy as we would like to think they are. I have always held some values very highly; integrity and honesty are two of them…we have learnt to be more cautious, take our time and ask a lot more questions. It hasn’t ruined our plans, it has just made us more wary and our new motto is “Everything is an experience.”
What next for us? Well we are loving life back onboard Tea Chest. We are aiming for a day trip or two next week around the local area and then we will make plans to start sailing/bay hopping along the west coast of Turkey and head up to the Black Sea. Can’t wait to see some new sights, feel the fresh sea air around us and make the most of every opportunity.
Please don’t let this deter you from following your dreams, just be cautious and go in with eyes wide open.
Fair winds my friends and happy tea drinking.
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