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Barry's Blog # 63 - Storm smashes Kaş harbour

Out of the corner of my eye I watched as the harbour master zipped along the quayside on his scooter and upon noticing Aannsha and I standing in our cockpit he quickly jammed on his brakes and deftly wheeled around to come to a squeaking halt at back end of A B Sea.

"It's not going to be safe to be here." He said with a concerned look on his face.

We'd known for 2 days that there was a large weather front coming east across the Mediterranean and we were in the cockpit doing our last minute preparations of checking our mooring lines and battening down the hatches and anything else that could come loose.

"Three large gulets have already been relocated to Kaş marina by their captains and the coast guard are moving their vessel there this afternoon too." He quickly added.

Thanking him for the warning, we hurried down below to check the latest weather forecasts. It didn't look good and if the coast guard were bugging out we reckoned that we should too.

To walk from Kaş harbour to Kaş marina takes just 15 minutes. If the sea is dead calm and there's no wind against you it takes just over an hour, at 6 knots of speed, to get there by boat.

It was 1.40pm Monday afternoon and the forecasts were predicting the wind to start building by 8.00am Tuesday morning. Here is where several thought processes converged.

If we left the harbour at 7.00am on Tuesday (first light) we'd 'hopefully' get safely to the marina by 8.00am. However if the wind gods decided to deliver their cargo earlier than predicted it would be a hell of a trip because we'd be beating into the wind and waves and it could take us two or three hours to complete the relatively short journey. But if we untied the lines and left on Monday afternoon we'd have a very pleasant 1 hour trip to the marina and be all safe and secure by the time the weather front arrived on Tuesday morning.

If you regularly follow our blogs or YouTube videos you'll know that we generally stay out of marinas because they are so expensive. The question therefore was; do we play it safe and pay for an extra night in the marina or do we take a chance and reduce our marina bill by 1 night. We decided that the cost of repairing any damage to A B Sea would far outweigh the cost of an extra night at the marina and so the decision was made to ready A B Sea for the short trip to the marina. We untied the lines and exited Kaş harbour at 2.30pm on Monday 14th January.

The 1 hour trip to Kaş marina was very pleasant, dead calm seas, sunny skies and A B Sea doing 6 knots at 1,400 rpm with her Gori folding prop in overdrive mode. As we approached the marina pontoons we radioed the marineros who came out in their rib to pick up a line from us so that they could attach it to the lazy line at our designated slip on pontoon B. Surprising myself at how well I managed to reverse in between the two yachts either side of us on the pontoon, we had A B Sea safely put to bed by 4.00pm and celebrated with a cold beer.

The rain came first, the wind followed later

Tuesday morning at 3.00am I was rudely awakened as a deluge of huge raindrops battered the decks above me. As I lay in bed snuggling deeper under the covers I was quietly thankful that we'd left the harbour when we had. Cold and wet is not my idea of fun. As dawn broke the winds began to arrive and both the wind and the rain continued to build with fluctuating ferocity all through Tuesday and well into the night.

We went to bed at 9.45pm and as I always do whenever there's a big weather front passing through I slept with one ear and one eye open. At 11.30 pm there was an unusual thud at the back of the boat that brought me fully awake. You get used to the creaks and groans of the docking lines and the somewhat rhythmic motion of the boat as she's moved gently around by the wind and water. This thud didn't fit the pattern. I got up and put my foul weather jacket on, climbed out into the cockpit and saw that the strong wind had stretched the lazy line at the bow to the point where the stern of A B Sea was hard up against the pontoon. That's not good.

Aannsha was also out of bed at this point and I asked her to pass me the handheld VHF radio so that I could call the marineros to come and assist in tightening the lazy line at the bow to pull us forward and away from the pontoon. There was no response to two radio calls, so I decided to walk to the marineros office which is located at the end of pontoon H. Aannsha thought it best to switch on the engine and gently power us forward against the stern lines to keep us off the pontoon. I left her to do that and went in search of the marineros. If I'd had their phone number I could've called them but I hadn't made a note of it. Also in hindsight it would have been quicker to walk to the gate security office and have them phone the marineros, but we all know how useful hindsight is.

Eventually I found the marineros and we headed back to pontoon B, climbed aboard A B Sea and within 10 minutes between the three of us we had reduced the slack on the line at the bow, resecured the stern lines and A B Sea was once again sitting safely in her slip.

Intrepid explorer and camera woman

As I mentioned previously it's just a 15 minute walk between Kaş harbour and Kaş marina. But weather and wind wise they could be worlds apart. So when Aannsha suggested that we walk to the harbour to get some video and pictures to see how bad it was, I declined the invitation as I thought, based on what we'd experienced in the marina, that it would all be a non-event. How wrong I was and it was great that Aannsha, armed with a camera, followed the prompting of her little inner voice and went to have a look.

As you'll see in this Saturday's YouTube video (January 26th 2019) Kaş harbour took quite the beating and was smashed by huge waves constantly breaking over the harbour wall. The swell coming in through the harbour entrance was brutal and small parts of the harbour area were awash with seawater. Fortunately no vessels took any major damage and none of the gulets up on the hard were knocked off their stands which is testament to how well they were secured. At Kalkan harbour a little way along the coast a couple of vessels sank and three gulets were badly damaged when they were knocked off their supports on the hard.

It's almost over

By Wednesday mid morning the weather front had mostly passed us by, however the forecasts still showed that strong wind gusts would continue into Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It was at this point we could've paid for our 2 night stay at the marina and then just dropped anchor a few hundred metres away in the bay while we waited for the seas to calm down before heading back to Kaş harbour.

But we'd been at anchor in the marina bay previously when big wind gusts were blowing and it wasn't pleasant and certainly not conducive to getting any sleep. So another executive decision was taken and we stayed for a third night in the marina.

Thursday morning we awoke to fair weather, checked the forecasts and decided that although the wind and rain had all passed by it would take another 24 hours for the sea state to calm down and we didn't want to attempt the narrow harbour entrance if there was still a big swell. However the wind had calmed enough that we could leave the marina and safely spend Thursday night at anchor in the bay and that's precisely what we did after paying our invoice and slipping out from our pontoon berth. Our 3 night stay at Kaş marina cost us 1,016 Lira. For comparison, we pay 1,000 Lira to stay for a month in Kaş harbour. Now you can understand why we tend to shy away from marinas.

Our night at anchor was dead calm, we slept very soundly and on Friday morning we upped anchor and motored over to the fuel dock to top off the diesel tank and empty our black water tank. We'd also arranged for our friend Jim Furness, from SY Acheron on pontoon B, to come on board with us to enjoy the short trip back to Kaş harbour.

Much like the trip from the harbour to the marina the return trip was just beautiful, sunny and calm. At the harbour entrance I decided to reverse in and slide easily into our berth but just after I'd lined up the stern of A B Sea with the harbour entrance our malfunctioning autopilot decided to magically engage and lock both the steering wheels, I therefore had no control over our direction. With a short expletive I asked Aannsha to go below and turn off the switch that powers the autopilot and log speed indicator. As soon as she cut off the power to them I instantly had control of the rudder. Crisis averted.

We had previously arranged to phone Smiley when we were 5 minutes away from entering the harbour so that he could be available on the quayside to catch our stern lines, secure them and throw the lines back to us. After several failed attempts to reach him we concocted plan B, which was that I would get the back end of A B Sea as close to the quayside as possible, Aannsha would lower the passerelle and Jim would pass from the boat to the quay to handle the lines. Plan B worked quite well until it got to the point of picking up the lazy line with our boat hook. While we'd been out of town the small fishing vessel next to us had borrowed our lazy line as extra security during the storm. There were no other lazy lines available.

Before I get into plan C, let me just explain what a lazy line is for those that don't know. In Kaş harbour there is a huge ship's chain that lays on the bottom in the middle of the harbour and runs the full length of the harbour. Vessels on the opposite side to our berth come into the harbour, get as close as possible to our side and drop their anchor, then reverse back into their designated berth. At some point their anchor makes contact with the big chain on the bottom and that secures their bow and they then pass a couple of stern lines to the quayside and that's them securely parked up.

On our side of the harbour there are thick ropes which are tied at one end to the big chain on the bottom and then secured to the quayside with a smaller diameter rope that you can get hold of to pull up the free end of the thick rope which is then tied off to a bow cleat.

Back to plan C

We were secure to the quayside with two stern lines, but had nothing to secure our bow. Plan C was that we'd send Jim off to either find Smiley or the harbour master to get them to un-borrow our lazy line from the small fishing vessel next to us. Meanwhile we'd keep our engine running with the throttle in slow ahead to keep us off the quay. We'd also have our bow thruster to keep us from bashing into the vessels on either side of us. Gotta love a bow thruster.

Fishing boat that borrowed our lazy line

Just as Jim wandered back with nobody in tow and explained that he couldn't find Smiley and the harbour master's office was closed, one of the crew from the big gulet on our starboard side assessed our plight and jumped aboard the fishing vessel, released the borrowed lazy line and passed it off to Aannsha who immediately took it forward, pulled up the thick rope and securely tied it off to our port bow cleat. Crisis over.

Constant vigilance

When you are a liveaboard you are always on duty 24/7 and when the shit hits the fan you have to be ready to think fast and act quickly. It's possible that some of our readers and viewers look at what Aannsha and I are doing and dream that they were doing it too, but it's not for the faint hearted.

A part of why we write our weekly blogs and produce our weekly videos is to show the good, the bad and the ugly alongside the fun, the excitement and the adventure, so that anyone considering doing the same thing can gain a little more insight as to what the reality is like. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what we're doing and I'm so glad we made the leap of faith to become liveaboards. But rose tinted glasses have no place in your life when you live 24/7 on a yacht.

As I put this final paragraph together the rain, that's forecast to be relentless for the next 7 days, has just begun pelting down on the decks of A B Sea. The wind, which is predicted to gust up to 33 knots (61km/h) is picking up speed and as I look out of the window opposite my computer all I can see is the high side of the big wooden gulet berthed next to us getting closer and closer.

I'm going to get my foul weather jacket on and go out into the wind and rain to check our mooring lines (again) and check the positioning of our fenders. I'll let you know how it all goes next week.

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