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Barry's Blog #206 - Making silly mistakes

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Buy a boat they said. It'll be relaxing they said.

It might be just me, but owning a boat and living on it full time is stressful (at times). I should also point out that producing a weekly YouTube video does add to that stress level and we've been putting out a weekly video and these accompanying blogs for 4 years now, non-stop.

Yeah yeah Baz. Where are you going with this?

If you've been paying attention over the last few weeks you may have noticed that I'd been making silly mistakes when manoeuvring into and out of berths at marinas. Two major things were coming together. Tiredness and stress.

Let's talk about tiredness. I live with sleep apnea, you can Google the symptoms and what those symptoms produce to get a better picture of what sleep apnea is. If I typed that information here this blog would be an epic tome.

I have a CPAP machine (you can Google that too) which runs on 220v and when we have access to shore power it helps me get a better and fuller night's sleep. However when we are at anchor I have concerns that the machine's power draw from our house battery bank will eventually lead to the (expensive) failure of those batteries.

We spent a lot of time at anchor this summer and only 16 nights attached to shore power, so by the end of the season I was operating on very limited sleep hours. Think 3 to 4 hours per night of actual REM sleep, which is the good sleep we all need.

Let's talk about stress. Being the captain requires a lot of mental acrobatics and juggling. Watching the weather and wind predictions. Balancing how long we can stay out in remoter anchorages based on food, water and fuel supplies. Deciding which anchorage to visit next and including a plan B, C and D just in case plan A doesn't work out. Monitoring the boat systems and watching for stuff that may be about to fail and doing preventative maintenance. This all goes on every day.

Then there's the added stress that I get every time we come into an anchorage, fuel berth or marina berth. I know I've been doing it for 4 years and there have been no major problems, but I still get nervous tension in my stomach and my stress levels rise.

Combine the tiredness and stress and you get the result of me making silly mistakes in boat handling in tight quarters. Fortunately none of those mistakes have led to any boat damage or injuries.

Here's something that we didn't include in our filming or storytelling this week. When we arrived into Marmaris marina we planned to stay for only 2 nights. We ended up staying for 5 nights because I mentally could not face the prospect of leaving the security of the berth. A chat with Aannsha finally persuaded me to get moving. I really was that debilitated.

So what's in this week's video?

I'm glad you asked. After 2 nights (with electricity) at the restaurant jetty of Keçi Bükü at Söğüt we made the 6 hour hop to Marmaris. We were trying to get back to Kaş without refuelling but some rough calculations showed that even if we included the spare 40 litres (10.6 gallons) that we carry we'd be cutting it so fine that we may run out of fuel or arrive there with only 1 hour of fuel remaining. Not a risk I was prepared to take. Marmaris was our best bet for topping off the fuel tank.

Leaving the restaurant jetty was easy and then Aannsha pointed out that it was Friday the 13th. I raised my eyebrows. What could possibly go wrong?

The 6 hour hop was totally windless and uneventful and we relaxed in the cockpit as we motored past some now familiar coastline along the Turkish coast.

Something we didn't know, but we do now, is that arriving at Marmaris on any Friday is not a good idea because it is charter yacht changeover day. One of the things the charter skippers must do before returning the boat to its berth is to pump out the black water and fill up the fuel tank.

When we arrived at 15:00hrs there were two yachts doing just that at the fuel berth and two more yachts milling around in the fairly big turning area in front of the fuel berth. We joined the queue.

As we waited for our turn, six other yachts joined the queue and suddenly the fairly big turning area wasn't so big. Fortunately there was very little wind so it wasn't too difficult to keep away from the other boats while protecting our place in the queue. There was one boat that tried to queue jump but the loud shouts from the other boats and a waving away from the fuel dock guys soon put them in their place.

After an hour of holding position we finally got onto the fuel berth without incident even though it was a tight squeeze and while we topped off our fuel tank (we planned to pump out the black water at Kaş) I was busy figuring out the best way to leave the fuel berth and weave through the melée of waiting yachts. It turned out that reversing out offered the best option to avoid contact with either concrete or boats.

While we were queuing for fuel Aannsha had phoned the marina admin office and requested a 2 night stay, luckily they had space for us. But before we could go into the berth we had to exit the marina, drop anchor close by and then drop our dinghy into the water and tie her off on the mid-ships cleat. We couldn't go stern to the berth with the dinghy slung up on our davits because it would hang out over the pontoon forcing people walking up and down to divert around it and we would not be able to step off A B Sea and onto the pontoon.

With that task done I radioed the marina for marinero assistance into our allocated berth. The marina welcomed us, advised that they were very busy but the marineros would assist us. As you see in the video there are boats going in every direction. But once again we managed to thread our way through it without hitting anyone. Almost.

As I mentioned the marineros were super busy but I'm a 'slow is pro' kinda guy when reversing down a fairway and in to a berth. We had one marinero standing on our bow ready to tie off the slime line and another marinero assisting in a rib.

As I made the final turn into the berth I instantly knew that I'd turned too early. Normally I would abort the entry, go out and do it again. This time I didn't because I knew the marineros were short on time and needed to go assist other vessels.

When reversing I'm generally only looking in that direction, but I do look to see what the bow is doing every 15 seconds or so. I got really lucky when I did glance forward as I spotted one of our mid-ships stanchions about to be ripped out by coming into contact with the anchor of the vessel moored next to us. The marinero on the bow and Aannsha in the cockpit leapt into action to fend us off while I brought A B Sea to a quick standstill. Disaster averted.

Once we were successfully tied into our berth we thanked the marineros and as you'll see in the video it was definitely time for a beer (or two).

There's plenty more to see in the video, including a trip to the old fort at Marmaris which is also a museum and a visit to the Panarama bar which boasts the highest and best view of Marmaris. But this blog is getting long as it is, so I'll let you discover those by watching the video.

Until next week stay safe and healthy.

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