New York Times - Ships and Shipping

Friday, 31 August 2012

La fragata está en Casablanca
Es la primera vez que el buque escuela amarra en el puerto marroquí desde 1989.
Casablanca – La fragata ARA “Libertad” arribó ayer al puerto marroquí de Casablanca, donde fue recibida por el embajador argentino en el reino de Marruecos, José Pedro Pico; el ministro Pablo Piñeiro Aramburu y el cónsul Darío Mengucci.

El comandante de la fragata, capitán de navío Pablo Lucio Salonio, hizo una presentación ante la prensa local acerca de la historia del buque, que realizó su primer viaje de instrucción en 1963 y que dos años después dio su primera vuelta al mundo.
Durante los próximos días en Casablanca sus tripulantes recorrerán la Escuela Naval con sede en la ciudad, además de visitar a diversas autoridades locales.
Fuente: Gaceta Marinera, Argentina

Baltic bliss: Cruising the Baltic on the Saga Sapphire

From crazy golf to Mozart, try a cruise that caters for everyone
By John Honeywel
View over the Warnow River to Rostock
View over the Warnow River to Rostock
It's not often you get the opportunity to inspect the works of great artists like Rembrandt, Rubens and Leonardo da Vinci without having to elbow aside all the other tourists.
So an after-hour's visit to revel in the treasures of St ­Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum was a delightful extra treat while our cruise ship was in town.
See the treasures of St Petersburg's Hermitage
See the treasures of St Petersburg's Hermitage
While we admired the masterpieces we were ­serenaded by the State­ ­Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg playing an hour of ­familiar favourites, ­including the Overture from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, the ­Intermezzo from ­Cavalleria ­Rusticana and Faure’s Pavane.
This feast of civilised culture was served up during a Baltic cruise on the ­elegant Saga Sapphire, the latest vessel to join the fleet operated by the British company specialising in holidays for the over-50s.
Hit the high seas on Saga Sapphire
Hit the high seas on Saga Sapphire
But you don’t need highbrow tastes to enjoy the ride. If you’re happier with crazy golf, fish and chips with mushy peas and a pint of beer, all that’s ­available back on board.
The Sapphire has been designed with a host of quirky features, ­including traditional seaside-style attract­ions, in an effort to attract passengers nearer Saga’s minimum age of 50.
Cooper’s Bar is themed around comedian Tommy, with his trademark fez adapted into lampshades and some of his funniest one-liners embroidered into cushion covers.
In the Drawing Room, which ­doubles as a ­panoramic lounge ­during the day and a smooth nightclub in the evening, the decor ­includes lamps made from cameras, ­musical ­instruments and leather boots, armchairs advertising a Beatles concert in ­Abergavenny and even a serpent mural carved from a tree root.
John on board the Saga Sapphire
John on board the Saga Sapphire
The ship, though new to Saga, was built 30 years ago as the luxurious Europa. With a combined cost of ­purchase and refurbishment at ­£67million, she will ­become the fleet’s flagship next year following the ­retirement of the much loved Saga Ruby.
In a break with cruise tradition, there’s open seating in the Pole to Pole restaurant, allowing passengers to arrive for dinner when they want and sit where they like.
Diehards who prefer a fixed time and the same table every evening must make a special request.
There’s waiter service in the ­Verandah casual restaurant too – on most ships this would be a buffet. Tables must be reserved in advance for the Asian fusion ­speciality East to West restaurant, but there is no extra charge.
Cabins have been decorated in bold ­colours ­reminiscent ofa ­modern ­boutique hotel and there’s plenty of space to relax. The aft swimming pool has been removed to ­create more deck space, and there’s lots of room to lounge around the midships pool and the sundeck above.
Indoors, the spacious Britannia Lounge is the venue for afternoon tea and evening concerts featuring visiting musicians and ­comedians, and the resident troupe of singers and ­dancers. It all seemed to be ­proving very popular with the 700 or so ­passengers on my trip, many of whom would have only recently have reached the qualifying age.
Taking the smooth ­service for granted, they liked the spacious cabins, most with full-sized baths, and the value for money compared with many ­other cruise lines.
The basic brochure price may be higher with Saga, but taking into ­account the fact that tips are ­included and it’s just £2.80 for a pint and £3.20 for a glass of wine, they realised their holiday pound goes further.
Which also meant they could be more adventurous when it came to shore ­excursions. From Warne-munde, Germany, some joined the day-long trip to Berlin, while others took a boat trip up the river to ­Rostock.
Among the usual sights, such as the intricate 15th Century ­astronomical clock in the Marienkirche cathedral and the ­remaining watchtowers on the city’s medieval walls, we also gained an insight into more recent history in the form of the interrogation centre and prison used by the Stasi, the feared East German secret ­police.
Most people were easily able to take the leisurely walk from the quayside in Tallinn to the narrow streets and open squares of the old town, one ­enjoying ­herself so much she ­arrived back at the ship a full hour after we should have sailed.
Luckily the ­understanding captain waited for her, an extra service unlikely to be afforded by other cruises...

Get there

Sixteen-night Baltic cruise on Saga Sapphire sailing from Dover on Sept 10, 2013 starts at £1,983pp if booked before Sept 30 this year. The price ­includes UK ­travel to the port, cancellation cover insurance, onboard tips and all meals.

 Source: Daily Mirror, UK.

Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta entrants in Liverpool

Eleven tall ships have arrived in Liverpool for the inaugural Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta.

Johanna Lucretia
Johanna Lucretia is open to visitors in Albert Dock, Liverpool

It marks the end of a five-day race from Dublin to Liverpool, organised by Sail Training International, which teaches young people sailing skills.
Liverpool councillor Wendy Simon said it was "spectacular" to see tall ships sailing on the River Mersey.
Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta chairman Knut Western said Liverpool had given the ships a "memorable welcome."
The fleet visited Liverpool as part of the Tall Ships Race 2008 and the Irish Sea race is designed to give young crew members training in sailing and navigation.
Mr Western added: "For the race half of the crew must be aged between 15 and 25.
"They learn from the experienced crew members and we see them develop to become confident, independent individuals."
Matt and Ben Giblin
Matt Giblin, 22 and his brother Ben, 19, from Ormskirk, raced on the Johanna Lucretia
Two brothers from west Lancashire are among the 13 crew members on board the Johanna Lucretia, a UK entry into the race.
Ben Giblin, 19, and his brother Matt, 22, from Ormskirk, sailed together for the first time in the race, which started in Ireland on Sunday.
The brothers learned to sail dinghies at their local sailing club in Southport.
Ben said: "It was tough, the weather was bad at times, but it's been lots of fun.
"I worked the alternative watches to my brother, we were doing four to six hours on and breaking just to eat or sleep."
Matt said: "It was amazing to arrive at the end of the race in Liverpool, seeing the off-shore wind farm, and the skyline. I was looking for Seaforth and our grandad's house."
Crews of the ships will parade through Liverpool from 14:00 BST and on Sunday the ships will take part in a Parade of Sail starting at Albert Dock at 10:30.
The ships are open to visitors at Albert Dock on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 to 17:00.
Ms Simon added: "The tall ships are always welcome visitors to our city.
"I'd encourage as many people as possible to give the ships an unforgettable send-off on Sunday - it really will be a spectacular sight to see the tall ships proudly sailing on the River Mersey."
Source: BBC, UK.

Rush of Asylum-seekers before crackdown

A wooden boat which is believed to have had up to 180 asylum seekers on board floats on the waters off Christmas Island, Australia. Photo / AP
A wooden boat which is believed to have had up to 180 asylum seekers on board floats on the waters off Christmas Island, Australia. Photo / AP

About 150 people were aboard an overcrowded, wooden fishing boat that sank off the Indonesia coast as it headed for a remote Australian island. Only 54 people had been rescued by Friday morning, and one body had been recovered, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. The captain of one rescue vessel believes he saw bodies in the water.
The emergency was the latest created by a growing human smuggling trade in which thousands of would-be refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka attempt dangerous sea voyages from Indonesia to Australia.
Australia's centre-left Labor Party government announced plans this month to deter future arrivals by deporting new asylum seekers who arrive by boat to the Pacific atoll of Nauru or to Australia's nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea. The government says they will be held in tent camps for as long as they would spend in refugee camps if they had not paid people smugglers to take them to Australia.
The new approach will begin when the Nauru camp opens in September, but meanwhile the rush is on. More than 1,900 people have arrived in Australia in August - the highest monthly total on record - in hopes of accelerating a refugee claims process that can take years.
The numbers have been steadily climbing: More than 9,800 asylum seekers have arrived this year, more than double the total for all of 2011.
"People smugglers are running a closing-down sale," Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said. He predicts asylum seekers will stop paying people smugglers $10,000 or more to transport them more than 400 kilometres from Indonesia or Malaysia by boat if they are not guaranteed that they will be accepted by Australia.
A previous conservative government established camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea a decade ago as part of a policy that slowed boat arrivals to a trickle but was condemned by human rights groups as cruel.
A Labor government closed the camps after winning elections in 2007, a year when only 339 asylum seekers arrived by boat. As the numbers have grown, the influx, and the deaths of would-be migrants at sea, have angered many Australians.
No asylum-seeker deaths have been confirmed since the policy change was announced, but more than 300 have lost their lives making the perilous journey across the Sunda Strait between Indonesia and the Australian territory of Christmas Island since December. More than 90 of them died in two boat accidents that occurred within a week of each other in June.
Authorities also fear the worst for 67 asylum seekers who have not contacted family or friends since they left Indonesia on an Australia-bound boat in late June.
In the latest incident, a boat reportedly carrying 150 asylum seekers sank off the main Indonesian island of Java on Wednesday.
The crew of a merchant ship taking part in the search, Liberian-flagged APL Bahrain, spotted survivors in the water early Thursday 75 kilometres southwest of Java and rescued six, Clare said.
"There are grave fears for a lot more," Clare told reporters.
The Bahrain's captain, Manuel Nistorescu, told the Fairfax Media website that he was about to abandon the late-night search when he heard whistles and yelling from the dark water.
Nistorescu said the six rescued, all Afghan men, appeared to be in good condition and had been in the water for almost 24 hours. There were also women and children aboard the asylum-seeker boat when it sank, he said.
He added that he believed he saw bodies in the water. "I think I saw some of them dead," he said.
Other merchant ships, Indonesian government ships and Australian military boats and planes also were involved in the search.
Indonesian search and rescue official Sunarbowo Sandi said that an Australian navy patrol boat and other merchant ships later retrieved the other survivors. He said six of them were hurt and in critical condition.
"High waves are hampering our search and rescue efforts," Sandi said.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said all the survivors will be taken to Merak, 120 kilometres west of Jakarta, for medical treatment.

The distress call was received by Australian authorities early Wednesday by satellite phone from someone aboard the missing boat requesting help. The person said there were 150 people aboard and the vessel had engine trouble. The boat was then 15 kilometres off Java, officials said.
Indonesian authorities initially searched with two boats and a helicopter but found no trace of the boat by late Wednesday.
The merchant ship found the first six survivors after Australia expanded the search area.
- AP
Source: The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, New Zealand.

A la caza del gran tesoro pirata

Por primera vez en 18 años, una expedición autorizada buscará en una isla de Costa Rica un botín millonario escondió en 1820; es el que inspiró La isla del tesoro y Jurassic Park
El 22 de octubre de 1820 William Thompson recibió una orden de la Corona española. Perú vivía los albores de la guerra de independencia y Lima ya no era un lugar seguro para las riquezas de la madre patria. Así que el capitán inglés fue encargado de zarpar rumbo a México y de llevar consigo 24 baúles. No le dijeron qué contenían. Pero debía de ser algo valioso, ya que un grupo de oficiales del reino también subió a bordo para acompañarle.
Pero, más que taxistas de un tesoro, Thompson y su tripulación escogieron ser dueños. Y los oficiales acabaron en el mar. No era para menos: las cajas contenían monedas de oro y plata, diamantes, joyas y una enorme estatua dorada de la virgen. Demasiado evidentes para lucirlas por los siete mares. Así que Thompson dirigió el timón hacia la isla costarricense de Coco para esconderlas. Al zarpar de nuevo sin embargo el capitán y sus marineros fueron capturados por un navío español y ejecutados. Todos, salvo Thompson y otro compañero, que deberían llevarles hasta el tesoro. Pero nada más desembarcar el británico despistó a los españoles con un mapa falso y se volatilizó en la selva. Y, con él, la ubicación del tesoro de Lima.
¿Leyenda? ¿Verdad? Tal vez ambas. Decenas de estudiosos han confirmado a lo largo de los siglos algunos elementos de esta historia. Y desde luego debe de creérselos Ina Knobloch: esta bióloga alemana liderará una expedición internacional que hará rumbo a la isla de Coco en busca (también) del legendario tesoro. Será la primera autorizada por el Gobierno de Costa Rica desde que en 1994 se prohibieran estas misiones.
"Probablemente vayamos en enero o febrero", asegura Knobloch. Será la cuarta vez que la bióloga desembarque en Coco: se quedará 10 días, porque una misión prácticamente autofinanciada no da para más. De todos modos, desde su primera visita en 1988, la alemana ha sido hechizada por una isla cuyas historias ha estudiado durante 20 años, viajando por medio planeta y hablando con los expertos en la materia. Tanto que hasta ha escrito un libro, El secreto de la isla del tesoro(que se traducirá pronto al español) donde relata su búsqueda.
En el fondo, la obsesión de la bióloga es comprensible. Pese a una superficie de tan solo 24 kilómetros cuadrados, la isla acoge una mezcla asombrosa de Historia, naturaleza y literatura. A 500 kilómetros de Costa Rica, desierta si se excluyen su flora y su fauna, Coco fue declarada patrimonio de la humanidad por la Unesco. Hay especies animales que solo viven allí. Y es la isla en la que se inspiró Michael Crichton para su novela Parque Jurásico. De hecho, el autor escribió parte del libro en el islote, que también aparece en el filme.
¿Más? Se dice, y Knobloch considera probado, que La isla del tesoro de Robert Louis Stevenson era, precisamente, Coco. Una práctica, por otro lado, frecuente en medio del mar latinoamericano: como remata Jonathan Franzen en un reciente relato publicado por el New Yorker, otra isla, la chilena Masafuera, inspiró a Daniel Defoe para Robinson Crusoe.
Y luego, no se olviden, está el tesoro de Lima. Para encontrarlo, la expedición de Knobloch cuenta con un despliegue tecnológico digno de Minority report. Un helicóptero permitirá mapear la isla desde el cielo; y para mirar bajo el suelo, "hay una máquina que excava huecos minúsculos pero muy profundos donde introducir un robot serpiente que observe las grutas", explica Shaun Whitehead, un explorador británico miembro de la misión.
Las grutas parecen ser la clave de la búsqueda. Tras sus investigaciones, Knobloch ha concluido que, si el tesoro está en la isla, debe de hallarse en una de sus cuevas. Fuertes del conocimiento de la alemana y de los instrumentos de Whitehead, los 15 miembros de la misión cuentan con cierta ventaja respeto a las anteriores expediciones. Porque una riqueza legendaria es un canto de sirenas y decenas de cazatesoros han acudido a Coco en busca del escondite del capitán Thompson. La mayoría se fue de vacío. Pero unos pocos se llevaron una recompensa en forma de monedas de oro y plata.
Seis, en concreto, fueron el botín que cosechó August Gissler. Este alemán se pasó 19 años, de 1889 a 1908, viviendo en Coco, hasta el punto de que Costa Rica le nombró gobernador de la isla. Ni así, sin embargo, pudo encontrar el tesoro de Lima. Pero, como en toda leyenda no puede faltar la maldición, justo cuando Gissler afirmaba saber dónde estaba el botín el destino le quitó de en medio. En una fiesta en Nueva York, antes de la nueva, y definitiva expedición, su mujer se encendió un cigarrillo. "Como sus guantes habían sido limpiados con gasolina, se incendiaron. Murió quemada y Gissler juró que jamás volvería a la isla", cuenta Knobloch, que oyó esta historia de la boca del sobrino nieto del protagonista, Richard Gissler.
Tal vez el alemán hubiera encontrado el tesoro. O tal vez no. Si dos indicios hacen una prueba, cientos de misiones fracasadas hacen la fuerte sospecha que el botín pirata no exista. "Es una historia atractiva, pero sin elementos científicos. Nunca se ha encontrado nada. Parece una leyenda", asegura el exdirector del museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática, Rafael Azuar.
Aun así, para Knobloch y Whitehead, la misión tiene todo el sentido del mundo. "El tesoro sería un sueño. Pero el objetivo es sobre todo arqueológico y biológico", relata la alemana. Estudiar las especies animales, coger heces para analizarlas, investigar historia y morfología de Coco son razones más reales y asequibles que el botín de Thompson. "Quiero que sea la primera de muchas investigaciones. Y quiero abrir un museo sobre Coco", añade Knobloch.
Sobre todo por la pasión de la bióloga, y por la garantía de que la salvaguarda del ecosistema será prioritaria, el gobierno de Costa Rica ha autorizado la expedición. No lo hacía desde que un decreto firmado en 1994 por el ministro de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, René Castro Salazar, prohibió toda misión y sentenció que "el tesoro de la isla es su biodiversidad". "Llegaban decenas de exploradores. Y no todos cuidaban el patrimonio de Coco", explica Castro Salazar, que hace dos años volvió a ocupar el mismo cargo.
De ahí que hoy haya un cupo de 3.000 visitantes al año y la única población estable sean guardaparques y voluntarios que se turnan cada dos meses. Y que luchan contra el acoso que Coco sufrió y sigue sufriendo por parte de cazatesoros y pescadores ilegales. "La posición del Gobierno es que, incluso siendo plausible que el botín se encuentre allí, hay que defender la isla", relata Castro Salazar. Porque tiburones, cascadas y árboles valen más que 24 cajas llenas de oro. O, bueno, por lo menos existen.
Fuente. La Nación, Argentina.

Extreme Sailing Series: action-packed start in Wales

Helen Bowley

    Red Bull Sailing get up to speeds of 30mph whilst Team Wales dismasts
Extreme Sailng Series 2010, Cardiff day one

Gusty conditions on Cardiff Bay ensured that the opening day of Act 5 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff delivered an action-packed day for the nine Extreme 40s. Austria's Red Bull Sailing Team blasted round the tight courses, reaching speeds of 25.4 knots (29mph) relishing the conditions that put Roman Hagara's men at the top of the rankings at the end of day one. "This was racing on the edge up to 25 knots of wind but we never lost control of the boat. It's nice to be in first place but there are still three days to go. We have to focus and to concentrate and we can win," said Hagara.

For local entry, Team Wales, skippered by young Welshman Dave Evans and with Team GB 470 Olympic silver medallist Hannah Mills calling tactics, the day ended in drama when the 62ft mast came crashing down. A component failure in the rig caused the mast to fall but it remained intact and the team expects to be back on the water today.

The day was about good boat handling and minimising mistakes. Oman Air and GAC Pindar did just that to end the day in second and third respectively. "It was a wild day, things happened quick and it was some of the tightest courses and some of the strongest wind we've had and that made it pretty exciting," said US skipper Morgan Larson. "It was kind of hectic, there were tight corners, it was gusty, shifty, and basically we're happy to have got through that day without any damage. The racing today was tactical, but boat handling was really the key today, that is really what got us through, sharp boat handling by all the guys."

The fleet were joined by a host of sports stars. Ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan joined Andrew Walsh's team on GAC Pindar, while some of Britain's top sailing talent including Team Volvo sailors and Olympic silver medallists Luke Patience and Saskia Clark, 2008 Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison and Team GB match racer Kate MacGregor traded in their dinghies for Extreme 40s.

Extreme Sailng Series 2010, Cardiff day one   Extreme Sailng Series 2010, Cardiff day one
Extreme Sailng Series 2010, Cardiff day one   Extreme Sailng Series 2010, Cardiff day one
The event officially opens to the public today with thousands expected to descend on Cardiff Bay to witness stadium style racing for the first time. All the action will be streamed live with expert commentary from sailing expert Richard Simmonds from 1500 local time.

RESULTS after Day 1 (8 races)

Position / Team / Points

1.Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 55 points
2. Oman Air (OMA) 50 points
3. GAC Pindar (GBR) 50 points

4. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 44 points

5. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 43 points

6. Alinghi (SUI) 39 points

7. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) 36 points

8. ZouLou (FRA) 22 points

9. Team Wales 20 points

Source: Yachting World.

Se desarrolló el Viekaren XII
La finalidad de la ejercitación fue continuar acrecentando la interoperabilidad entre buques y hombres de las Armadas de Argentina y Chile.
Ushuaia - Entre el 25 y el 29 de agosto tuvo lugar en aguas del canal Beagle el Viekaren XII, ejercitación naval entre las Armadas de Argentina y Chile.

Participaron los buques PSG “Sibbald”, LSG “Alakalufe” y LSG “Hallef”, por la Armada de Chile; y el aviso ARA “Gurruchaga” y las lanchas patrulleras ARA “Baradero” y ARA “Concepción del Uruguay”, por la Armada Argentina.

Se sumó además un helicóptero naval que presta servicios en Puerto Williams y una aeronave de ala fija de la Fuerza Aeronaval Argentina.

Con la participación de estas unidades navales y aeronavales con asiento en Ushuaia y Puerto Williams se simuló el siniestro de un buque. A partir de allí se pusieron en acción ejercicios de búsqueda y rescate, de salvaguarda de la vida humana en el mar, de control y combate de la contaminación y de control de tránsito marítimo, entre otras ejercitaciones. 

El Viekaren (“confianza” en lengua nativa) es un ejercicio que se desarrolla anualmente en aguas del canal Beagle y, en honor a su nombre, contempla entre sus objetivos incrementar el grado de interoperabilidad y contribuir a aumentar las relaciones entre ambas Armadas, tomando como base las experiencias obtenidas en años anteriores. 

Su origen se remite al 8 de abril de 1999, oportunidad en que las Armadas de Argentina y Chile acordaron realizar cada año un ejercicio, circunscripto al área austral, definida en el Tratado de Paz y Amistad de 1984, rotando anualmente la dirección del ejercicio entre el Área Naval Austral (Argentina) y la Tercera Zona Naval (Chile).

Sus positivos resultados fueron evidenciados tras las experiencias recogidas en las reuniones de la crítica final que desarrollan los componentes de ambas fuerzas militares luego de más de una década de ejercitaciones combinadas.

Así lo expusieron en conferencia de prensa, realizada en el Comando del Área Naval Austral, el jefe del Estado Mayor del Área Naval Austral, capitán de navío Edmundo Vitaliano Vives; el jefe del Distrito Naval Beagle, capitán de navío Jorge Montenegro López; acompañados por la subsecretaria de Relaciones Internacionales del Gobierno de Tierra del Fuego, Carolina Lavori; el secretario de Seguridad, Daniel Facio; y el cónsul de Chile en Ushuaia, Francisco Gormáz Lira.


Puesta en práctica

Durante el desarrollo del mismo se hicieron diversos ejercicios que permitieron incrementar la capacidad de respuesta combinada ante una emergencia real que se pueda desatar en las aguas compartidas.

Entre ellos se destacó la asistencia a un buque en emergencia que se materializó mediante un remolque efectivo; rescate de náufragos desde una balsa; evacuación de un herido mediante el helicóptero Bolkow UH 05 de la Armada de Chile; apoyo en combate de incendios; contención de derrames de hidrocarburos; y una aeroevacuación médica desde Puerto Williams hacia Ushuaia mediante una aeronave B-200 de la Armada Argentina.

Participaron en total seis unidades navales (tres de cada Armada), dos unidades aeronavales (una de cada Armada) y un total de 400 efectivos.

Fuente: Gaceta Marinera, Argentina

Thursday, 30 August 2012

An enchanting cruise of the outer Greek isles

A week on a gulet, or Turkish sailboat, means pampering and the freedom to do whatever you want, away from tourist centers. The gods are surely smiling down.

By Amanda Jones

Exploring Greece's outer isles by Turkish gulet gives you the freedom to set the course.
The 62-foot gulet, Timer, catches the wind on its cruise of Greece's Dodecanese Islands. The boats allow access to even the smallest islands.
PSERIMOS, Greece — "Our boats are for people who don't like crowds," Muhammet Okumus, our captain, tells me. "Even though there can be six or so gulets in a bay in summer, the places we go never see cruise ships."
He's right. It's easy to be basking in the solitary glory of an Aegean inlet and suddenly feel territorial when another guletwith all of eight passengers pulls into your bay.
Okumus pulls out a map and asks me, "Where do you want to go next?" I cannot remember ever being asked that on a cruise.
Gulets are traditional Turkish sailboats that have plied the Aegean and Mediterranean for thousands of years, originally as trading ships and now as private charters or small-group excursion boats that explore the southern coast of Turkey and the Greek islands. These days, it's an affordable, customized way to reach the outer Greek islands, which see far less tourism than do the better known spots such as Mykonos and Santorini, where cruise ships dock.
Unlike the monster cruise ships, these vessels house as few as four and sometimes as many as 20 passengers. They typically have elegant polished mahogany interiors, Turkish rugs and tall masts, and they come with a captain, a cook and a first mate in charge of cleaning and serving drinks. Because they stay mainly in calm waters, they rarely hoist the sails and will motor for the most part, although if you request it, the sails will go up in a wind.
In July 2011, during the peak of tourist season, I joined friends on a gulet leaving from the harbor at Bodrum in southwestern Turkey. We had booked through Southern Cross Blue Cruising and were on the smallest of its ships, the 62-foot Timer. There were six of us onboard, and for $2,000 a person for the week we were fed lavish meals, served cocktails on deck, taken wherever we wanted to go and spent as much time on shore as we liked.
The six cabins on the Timer were small but perfectly adequate, with two shared bathrooms. If you are willing to pay more, many gulets have lavish staterooms with en suite bathrooms.
Because I had sailed along the southern coast of Turkey before (well worth doing), this time we headed to Greece's Dodecanese Islands, an archipelago that gets few tourists and has no thrashing nightclubs. Here, locals live as they have for centuries, herding goats, diving for sponges, fishing, going to church and farming. This is the Greece we wanted to see.
We spent the first night anchored at Orak Island, a forested Turkish island with sheltered bays and turquoise water. "Dive in," Okumus said as soon as the anchor dropped. "Hors d'oeuvres whenever you're out." The water was calm, warm and clean, and the tiny beach was a lovely place to sit and watch a huge sun melt into a deserted stretch of mainland.
After a cooked breakfast the next morning, we began the 21/2-hour sail to Kos island for customs entrance into Greece. Although it is only 21/2 miles off Turkey, Kos is a Greek island (a sore point for the Turks), and it gets typical Greek isle levels of tourism. The harbor is lined with restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and souvenir shops. But it also has a castle, an old mosque and the rambling ruins of the world's first medical school founded by Hippocrates (460 BC-370 BC). Although I do not suggest lingering in Kos, it is a fine place for a Turkish-influenced Greek dinner overlooking the lighted ruins.
On Pserimos, the first of the northern Dodecanese Islands we reached, we encountered a lovely arc of beach, a village with a couple of tavernas, a few houses, hundreds of goats and three Orthodox churches. This was old-style Greece, so we took the dinghy ashore and walked through the dusty streets to visit one of the churches. From the outside it was plain adobe. But inside it brimmed with riches — silver candelabra, crystal chandeliers, velvet drapery and oil paintings of saints. The glaring difference between life outside the church and within suggested that this tiny sanctuary was an opulent escape for this sleepy Greek town.
Taking a seat at one of the beachside tavernas, I watched the scene as the end of the workday approached and men flooded in for an ouzo. They had brick-hard faces from working in the fields or on the sea. Even the waiters seemed grim and reserved, until they broke into smiles and offered "Greek" coffee (which, of course, is Turkish) or went out of their way to walk you to where you were going.
Kalimnos, the next island, looked rocky and impenetrable until Okumus veered starboard toward a cliff and the entrance to a narrow harbor came into view. We sailed up the narrow channel leading to a fertile valley and the enchanting town of Vathi, where we immediately went ashore to have a drink at the local taverna.
"You like ouzo?" the bartender asked, one of the few islanders who spoke English to us. "I make my own. Very good. You try. No charge." Then he pulled up a chair and sat with us to watch our reaction. His ouzo tasted like wild herbs. I imagined it tasted of the arid hills that surrounded his bar. I grinned at him and he seemed pleased.
In between islands, life on board was so relaxing that I could feel my longevity increasing by the second. We would attach our iPod to the boat's sound system, have the first mate pour us a drink and then lie under the canopied cockpit or on mattresses in full sun on the top deck. Sails between islands were never longer than a couple of hours at most. Once at our destination, whether we were berthed in a small harbor or anchored in a bay, we could go ashore to hike or explore, staying as long as we liked. If the boat was anchored, we had only to stand on the beach and wave our arms and Okumus would fetch us with the dinghy.
The menu on board changed daily and included fresh salads, vegetable mezzes and fresh fish. A single fish can cost upward of $100 (that's not a typo) in a restaurant on a popular Greek island, but they are plentiful in the country's far eastern islands and the waters of Turkey. Our chef knew how to cook them flawlessly in his tiny galley. He'd go ashore and buy the fish or calamari from the fishermen, who returned to shore in their brightly painted wooden craft around noon, having been out since 4 a.m.
The harbor at Lipsi island was lined with such fishing boats, bobbing around the waterfront with their nets spread out to dry. Lipsi town looked quintessentially Greek: It had a cluster of whitewashed buildings with blue doors and the imposing Agios Ioannis Theologos (St. John Evangelist) church on the hill above. It also had a very cool vibe, and it paid little heed to tourism.
The food, served in tiny tavernas and cafes, was delicious. Islanders produce wine and cheese and raise sheep. They also make medicinal thyme honey, said to have excellent antibacterial properties and used since the time of Hippocrates to dress and heal wounds.
The town was charming: donkeys tied up in front of tiny churches, men with huge mustaches on mopeds, old women in black dresses and baggy stockings sitting outside their homes, fishermen mending their nets, retired sponge divers selling enormous sponges in the plaza.
Wandering about town in the early morning, I bought a jar of thyme honey from a bakery. As I left with my jar of amber "medicine," the owner said, "Stop!" She ran over smiling, handing me a gift of a loaf of cinnamon bread hot from the oven. The day before, as I had left a café, the owner had given me a bunch of basil and thyme, and that morning a sponge seller had gifted me with some of his bounty. No wonder it was my favorite island, though I worried about how the alarmingly generous Dodecaneseans would make a living.
We also spent a night on Leros, a fertile island with a Venetian castle and four ancient windmills used to grind corn during the Venetian occupation of the island before the Ottomans conquered all of Greece.
On the final evening, we stopped once again for a swim in the turquoise waters of Pserimos. As I dived off the deck, I thought about how a trip like this, with a boat and a bay to oneself, is becoming a rarity.
But for now it remains the perfect anti-cruise cruise.
Source: Los Angeles Times, USA.

Skipper of US Navy ship removed from job after collision with oil tanker near Strait of Hormuz

By Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. — The skipper of the USS Porter has been removed from command after his ship collided with an oil tanker just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic relieved Cmdr. Martin Arriola of command on Thursday.
The collision earlier this month left a breach about 10 feet by 10 feet in the starboard side of the USS Porter, a Norfolk-based guided-missile destroyer. No one was injured on either vessel.
The Navy says Rear Adm. Dave Thomas reassigned Arriola to the staff of Naval Surface Force Atlantic because of a loss of confidence in Arriola’s ability to command.
Porter’s new commanding officer is Cmdr. Dave Richardson, the former executive officer of USS McFaul.
The USS Porter is undergoing repair in the United Arab Emirates.
Source: The Washington Post,  U.S.A.

Una fragata argentina en el puerto de Casablanca

AIN.- En el marco de su 43º viaje de instrucción, el buque escuela de la Armada Argentina "Libertad" hará escala, del 30 de agosto al 3 de septiembre, en el puerto marroquí de Casablanca.

Libertad, que efectuará su octavo viaje a Marruecos, es una fragata con tres mástiles y 27 velas con una superficie de velamen de más de 2.977 m2 de 51 metros de altura y con propulsión asistida a dos motores diesel, informó Fidpress.

Construida en los astilleros del Estado argentino (AFNE) en Rí¬o Santiago (provincia de Buenos Aires), la Fragata ha recorrido, desde su entrega, más de 800.000 millas náuticas alrededor del mundo.

La Fragata Libertad tiene como misión completar la formación profesional de los Guardiamarinas, contribuyendo al incremento de sus conocimientos marítimos e integrándolos a la vida en el mar. Asimismo contribuye a la política exterior representando a la República Argentina en los puertos en los que recala, donde difunde la realidad geográfica, cultural y productiva de su país. 

Por otro lado fomenta las relaciones navales internacionales, estrechando los vínculos profesionales y de amistad con las Armadas de otros países. En los treinta y cinco viajes de instrucción realizados hasta la fecha ha visitado 58 países y más de 400 puertos extranjeros.

Fuente: AIN / Agencia Islámica de Noticias.
Infantes de Marina exploraron Isla Gable
Continuando con el adiestramiento especifico, el BIM4 realizó una operación anfibia de alcance limitado, desembarcando del aviso ARA “Gurruchaga” en la Isla Gable. 

Ushuaia- El Batallón de Infantería de Marina N° 4 realizó una intensa actividad de reconocimiento en la Isla Gable. Esta actividad se enmarca en el Plan de Dominio Geográfico que la Fuerza de Infantería de Marina Austral efectúa periódicamente en toda la Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. 

La Isla Gable, ubicada en el canal Beagle cercana a puerto Almanza, tiene una extensión de 8 kilómetros de Este a Oeste y 4 kilómetros de Norte a Sur; en esta oportunidad fue explorada en toda su extensión por la Compañía Juliet del BIM4, relevando datos de interés para el reconocimiento del terreno. 

Las secciones desembarcaron el pasado 20 de agosto en tres playas distintas e iniciaron sus desplazamientos para obtener información de todos los puntos importantes de terreno durante más de 30 horas. Simultáneamente, otra fracción embarcada en la Sección Botes reconoció todos los accidentes costeros notables a lo largo de la costa Norte, a través del paso Guaraní. 

Tras soportar una fuerte nevada durante la noche y ser reabastecidos en distintos puntos de la costa completaron su tarea al día siguiente y reembarcaron en forma nocturna en el aviso ARA “Gurruchaga” quien los trasladó nuevamente a Ushuaia, arribando al mediodía del 23.

La isla se halla en el área que era recorrida y habitada por los canoeros yámanas, sus primitivos habitantes. Para el mundo occidental fue descubierta por la expedición británica del HMS “Beagle” en 1830 al mando de Robert Fitz Roy. El 29 de septiembre de 1886 el gobierno argentino cedió 8 leguas al misionero Thomas Bridges, quien creó la Estancia Harberton, primer asentamiento rural en la zona. 

Esta operación contó con el apoyo invalorable de la Agrupación Lanchas Rápidas del Área Naval Austral permitiendo el traslado, patrullado y posterior repliegue de la unidad. Con ello, una vez más, el adiestramiento integrado de los hombres consolida el nivel táctico-operativo de las unidades de la Armada Argentina. 

Fuente: Gaceta Marinera, Argentina.