I predicted last week that we'd have a rough night on Sunday because of the anchorage we were aiming for. It would have been nice to have been wrong.
We arrived in Kuşadasi around 1 pm after a smooth cruise from the bay we'd been hiding in. At that point, the anchorage was still OK, but by about 2 pm, as predicted, it started to get a lot of swell. No worries! We headed to shore, pulling Tilly up onto a small beach and spent most of the afternoon wandering around and enjoying the shops.
We popped into the marina to check on the haulout for Monday morning, and when we told them we were anchored out, they said we could enter the marina after midnight if we wanted. They wouldn't let us come in sooner without paying an extra day, but anytime after midnight would be fine! We had dinner on shore, and at about 7 pm, as it started to get dark, we decided to head back for the boat.
What an adventure! The swell had continued to pick up, and something we hadn't thought about was how we were going to launch the tender from the beach into breaking waves. On the first attempt, we were completely swamped, and Karina badly bruised her leg when she tried to hold the tender back from getting pushed in. We took stock and decided that the only way we were going to make it happen was to get wet. So off into the surf we went, running the tender out beyond the break line and then jumping in at about waist/chest height to get on board. We had quite an audience on shore, as everybody was strolling along the foreshore, watching us fight the waves.
So far, so good. With Karina bailing (scooping the water out of the dinghy) like crazy while I tried to avoid the swell tipping us over, we made it back to Matilda. It's here that we found problem number two. When the swell is pushing in like that, the back of the boat is raising and lowering by over a metre or more, which makes getting back on board the boat risky and somewhat dangerous. We have a big swim deck that sticks out at the rear, and the last thing you want is to get trapped under that.
Still, we were there, we timed it, and we made it back on. Then, it was hauling the tender up and collapsing back inside the boat. I think at the end of the season, we're quite used to the swell now, so neither of us got seasick, but it definitely wasn't comfortable, and it's never nice to be only able to move around the boat by holding on to things! Nothing for it but to watch TV and then head to bed early.
At midnight, I was still awake, clinging to the bed, but Karina felt fine, and we decided that moving in the dark was more dangerous than just staying where we were. By the next morning, the swell had finally settled to something a lot more manageable, and we called the marina to check on the haulout readiness.
They were ready on time and asked us to head in; then, as we headed for the travel lift, it seemed they were not, in fact, ready, and we had to pull up and wait at the fuel dock for about thirty minutes or so. Other than that minor hiccup, we were smoothly out of the water not much later after that.
And so begins a week of boat work and life on the hard. We met with Zafer, the contractor who is handling all the bimini and solar upgrades, as well as Türget, the owner of the paint shop, who is doing the new bottom paint and some gel coat repairs. They have been excellent to deal with, and the work has gone a lot more smoothly than we expected!
More on the work in a moment, but once the meetings were out of the way, we headed off to an apartment for the week. We debated where we wanted to stay for a while, but in the end, decided that somewhere close to the marina with views and a pool would be a good option. We're glad we made that choice, as the apartment has been excellent. We're sitting up on the side of a hill, with a view of the bay and the boatyard, as well as an infinity pool on the roof, which we've been swimming in several times this week.
So what's been happening to Matilda? Well, quite a lot, actually!
- New anti-foul. The old anti-foul was wearing thin, several spots were exposed, and the rudders were showing bare metal. Everything was sanded back and cleaned as needed, all the barnacles were removed, and there are now three coats of anti-foul. The rudders and props were stripped back to bare metal and properly primed (which has been an issue in the past; there were several layers of the wrong primer for the aluminium rudders). The anti-foul line was raised by about 2 cm all around the boat as the waterline is higher (possibly because our new water tanks make us sit a touch lower).
- Gel coat repairs. Our favourite word for the week was "delete, delete". Over time, boats attract "stuff". Systems that are added then go obsolete. Often, these are not removed because you then need to patch and paint to hide the damage and holes left behind. We removed two old GPS antennas, an old NavTex system, an old TrackVision satellite TV system, and an old speaker. There were lots of areas where the biminis had been attached to the arch, some damage on the rear of the swim deck (which hadn't been repaired properly two years ago), the scratch from the pump out in Ayvalik, and so much more! It's all fixed and looking great.
- New stainless for the biminis. The way in which the biminis work has all been re-engineered. Instead of attaching permanently to the radar arch, they've been reworked so they now stand independently. They've been strengthened so that we can use them in stronger wind conditions now.
- New solar panels. We previously had only 400 watts of solar, which frankly didn't work, and according to Zafer, had probably never worked as it was wired in incorrectly and with the wrong cable. They were also too high and couldn't be folded to allow the arch to collapse. We will shortly have 1200 watts of solar, mounted just above the rear bimini, out of sight and collapsible so we can drop the arch. A big plus is that now, looking rearward from the boat you won't see the solar panels anymore - it's much cleaner! This will also mean reconfiguring the way the passerelle works.
- Moving the air conditioner. The air conditioner that we had installed two years ago was undersized and never worked well enough to cool the boat. We decided to bite the bullet on this and have it moved into the rear cabin. Now, it should be able to effectively cool just this one room, at least well enough to save us on the 35C or more days. We can always add more units if we really want to cool the main cabin, but this (surprisingly small) change will give us some utility from the existing investment.
- Polishing! Karina and I have been using the opportunity while Matilda is on the hard and we have access to mobile the scaffolding to polish all the parts of the chrome that we just can't reach while she's in the water. We also dropped the anchor, cleaned the anchor locker and added a "bitter-end" (attached the end of the anchor with rope to the boat so that in an emergency, you can cut the rope to free the anchor) and some new anchor chain markers.
Matilda is really looking shipshape! We're excited to launch her back into the water again on Monday, and then we're going to be heading south for a couple of weeks while we wait for the bimini canvas work to be completed. Then, it will be back north to Kuşadasi to get those fitted, then off home to Mytilene on Lesvos for our winter berth.
Ultimately, we didn't have to make all these changes just yet, although they are things that we have wanted for a while. But with the canvas on the bimini's continuing to tear, it made sense to do the reengineering now and fit the new canvas to the new design. We are really happy we have gone ahead as there's a lot of needed patching to keep the boat looking great, a better solar system and most importantly, we're going to be able to use the arch as designed to reduce our airdraft and make the most of some of the canals through Europe in the next couple of seasons.
Until next time,
Tim & Karina