September 3rd, 2011 browsing by day


Saturday Sep 3rd. Kastje naar de Muur en weer terug naar het Kastje

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

It’s what the Dutch say when you get the Royal Run Around. Literaly meaning from the cupboard to the wall. And I was tempted to use the “what a difference a day makes”. Two bad days one good one, so far. But let me start at the end. I am now legal and cleared in. But of all the fourty odd countries I have done this on this voyage Turkey deserves the highest mark for how to make a cruisers clearing in an unforgettable experience. They have traded the top spot long re(- and de-)served for American Samoa.  The easiest clearing in  I ever did was coming back into the USA. France is next for a reward, when I finally got a hold of a custom official on the telephone on landing in Bretagne, he told me that I did not need to bother. Except for pictures I have no proof that “Fleetwood” was ever there.

I walked up over the hill from Kumkapi through the old part of Istanbul, through the Kashba/Bazaar. Early in the morning, great experience, narrow cool shaded alleys. Men drinking their tea or smoking a water pipe. Shopkeepers opening up for business, smells of all the different spices and sweets. My first stop was at the Chamber of Shipping to get my Transit Log, $ 60. This document needed the stamps, of the Health Department, Police, Customs and the Harbor Master. The last was just a block from where I got the log but, no, that had to be the last stop. The next one was about 10 blocks away at Health. Lots of questions to fill out again on their form. The only one that had something to do with health was, if any body had died aboard on the way in or if any crew/passenger had a contagious disease. No physical exams. Then for Police, or was it Customs, they insisted that I was moored in either the Atakoy Marina, where it was just too dear for me, or across on the Asian side  where “Stella Maris” paid 30 Euroes for their 32 foot boat. I told them that I was anchored at Kumkapi and they told me to get a letter from the nearby marina that I was actually there. That just was no option to try find someone to write a letter for a boat anchored outside who is not paying them any moorage. There happened to be an Englsih couple, Andy and Louise who were going through the same agony and parked at the Atakoy Marina. So, I ended up tagging along with them and acting as if I was still moored at Atakoy. There was a customs office and a border police office right next to the Health department and I was hoping to avoid having to go the 7 odd miles back to Atakoy by asking them to stamp the transit log. But after a lot of back and forth they told us to go back to Atakoy. Then we get some poor country boy taxi driver who probably arrived in Istanbul when I did. He  gets totally lost. Then wqhen we finally get to the Border Police station near Atakoy he tells us he cannot help us without having a visa in our passports. So guess where he send us back to? Back downtown to the same customs/immigration officers whohad sent us to Atakoy…. An hour and a half and $30 taxi fares wasted. Then we sit and wait for the officer to come off the large cruise ship. $ 20 for the visa stamp, good for 90 days. Back to Atakoy. First Police then another taxi ride into the marina. More papers. Fortunately the sweet desk lady at the Marina has mercy on me.  Now we get a race car driver who does know his way around Istanbul, back just in time at the Harbor Master. Dandy, dressed in Navy whites, pressed slacks. But he just wanted to see if he could get me angry. He succeeded. I was to have a operator’s license. I showed him in my passport the forty countries I had been and then had fortunately also enough clearing papers on me to show that “Fleetwood” tagged along. Where no one had ever hassled me on a drivers license. Most EEC boaters have one. Then I wished I would have had a video camera along. The Taxi driver deceided to wait for us two, Andy and I, Louise had stayed behind at Atakoy. We needed to have a photocopy of our vessel registration and of the drivers license. Dandy Dude decided that UI use my passport instead. But he did not want to use his copy machine, so out the door we go down the street to the shop he directed us to, the taxi driver marching along. The copy shop keeper sits there next to his two machines and tells us, sorry, they are out of order and points us to the next shop, a block away. The taxi meter is ticking… We get to this shop and the very same scene is repeated, the machines do not work. As if they have rehearsed this just for us. The third try is a charm and we get our four copies for 60 cents. Back to the white mariner. So, after all this agony and hassle, $90 worth of fees and $60 in taxi fares, I am a legal resident for the next 90 days.

I decided to leave my European anchorage at Kumkapi and cross over to the Asian side where “Stella Maris” and Kirsten Jayne” are in Fenerbhace Bay. It is less rolly but I like it better here back at Kumkapi. I can put up with the incoming purse seiners and be just a short walk from the old Istanbul and could not get any wireless connection there last night. And it is a long row and then a half hour walk to the ferry terminal to get to old Istanbul. Keith and I got together with Inge and Wolfgang. We had run into each other during the day at the health department.  Inge and Wolfgang had to still finish up with the Harbor Master back on the European side and Keith had only done the Health department and is trying to wrestle through the remainder today.

There is a very well stocked fresh fish market here on shore and a number of fish restaurants. I bought Calamari and stir fried them for dinner. That’s another advantage here, the shops are all just across the waterfront causeway. There are a number of old Roman Catholic churches here and I plan to attend mass at one of them, tomorrow. This evening I will do some more explorations, the Blue Mosque and the Sultans Palace are all up on the hill here, near me.