26 - Tomorrow You Die!

It sounded like lorry dumped its load of wind chimes on us. I sat bolt-upright, pressed my face to a cockpit porthole and watched a pair of gnarled feet -- with silver-painted toenails -- stomping and kicking about a pile of scrap metal.

Meg Aitken at an ATM in Marmaris Turkiye photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-1] Meg at an automated teller, keeping up the cash outflow. Netsel Marina, Marmaris, Turkiye

I popped the porthole. "Bollocks, Harvey! What is this rubbish?"

"Your windvane!"

"Are you mental?! This isn't a bloody cottage. Take your minging wind vane and let me get some sleep."

"Nope! It's on your equipment list. You okayed it, dingbat. You're paying for it!"

Elena Vaytsel studying at the table photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-2] Elena studies sailing, geography, and meteorology.

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Oregon Jon rode up on an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny, folding bicycle -- popular among boat dwellers, and better conversation starters than leashed, exotic pets.

"Still planning to be gone by the end of June?" He asked.

"Damned if I know! Harvey dumped a wind chime in the cockpit."

"Wind chime?"

"Maybe, a weather vane. I don't know. It was heinously early." It felt good to whinge to someone. "I mean, for the love of dog! Who puts wind chimes on a sailboat?"

"Someone wanting to piss off the neighbours, I suppose."

"Aye, bloody hysterical, if it wasn't on our boat." I said. "That Aussie berk claims it's on his list of essential equipment, and I supposedly okayed it."

"Equipment list, huh? Mind if I take a look?"

"Thought you would never ask!"

Meg Aitken with Visa card photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-3] Meg wields the Visa card with practised skill.

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"First off," Jon pulled a steel cricket bat from the odds and sods piled in the cockpit. "What you have here isn't a wind chime, it's a windvane."

"I don't care. I don't want it on top of the mast."

"A windvane doesn't go on the mast. It goes on the transom." He looked at the back of our boat. "Which might be a problem. You don't really have a transom. You have a swim platform. Nice to have on a sunny day, but a waste of space offshore. And nothing you can bolt a windvane to."

"No way that pile of rubbish is going to lay waste to our swim platform! It is one of the few things on this plastic scow giving it even a modicum of acceptability."

"Jesus, Meg." Jon pulled off his baseball cap, scratched his head. "I've got a windvane on my boat, most of the cruisers do." He looked at me for any sign of comprehension. "It's a good thing to have. It steers the boat according to the wind."

"I thought the rudder did that."

"It does, but a windvane turns the wheel to keep the boat at the correct angle to the wind. It is really called a 'windvane self steering system.' It is like an autopilot, but it works with mechanical energy instead of electricity."

"But we have an autopilot. At least, I think we do."

Jon handed me the cricket bat, took a look at the instruments on the helm. "Yup, you've got an autopilot. But they use a lot of electricity, and they break down. Personally, I think a windvane is essential for what you two are doing. I don't know about this one." He picked up pieces of short, bent, steel tubing, ran his finger around the insides. Shook out dirt and rust, pointed at some sizeable barnacles inside the steel tubes. "Looks kind of like it came off a wreck, got polished up, and delivered to you."

"Sold to me."

"Uh huh, what did he ask for this relic?"

"Twenty-five-hundred."

"Dollars!?" It was the first time I heard Jon raise his voice.

"Pounds. But get this, I cut a deal. He agreed to take euros."

"I just bet he did." Jon gave me the kind of look a kid gets from a grown-up, telling her the family dog went to live on a farm -- forever. "I better take a gander at that asshole's essential equipment list."

One by one, the marker Jon wielded skrieeked through list items. Pages flipped. Jon groaned, slapped his forehead a couple of times. Finally, he flipped the pages back and read through it again. Elena slurped tea, and I waited with bated breath for his verdict.

"First off, you need to get a bigger boat. I suppose, you've gotten the things you've checked off?"

"Ordered and paid for, but haven't gotten." I explained my deal with Harvey.

Jon sighed. "I hope you have receipts for everything." I didn't. "Have you checked your credit card statements? This guy sounds like a crook."

complete fail amateur radar arch photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-4] Harvey's radar arch. A complete fail and a stunning setback for Elena and Meg.

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"The arch is here. Lenna, it's here! Harvey's arc de triomphe. Can you believe it!? Maybe it's all going to be OK after all."

An open lorry inched along the seawall. A couple of men on the back and a web of strapping held a wobbling, steel frame in place.

"That's the template, right?" I asked nervously.

"No, dingbat! It is your radar arch."

Elena vaulted below deck, yelling, "Meg, I do not want that awful thing on our boat."

Harvey was full of assurances. "Look, I am a professional. You'll be the envy of the boating world!" It sounded like, "The ein-vee of the biting world."

"Oh aye, this majorly bites!" Then I asked the blokes manoeuvring the arch off the lorry, "Please, please, please do not put that thing on our boat. Pleeeeeeez!" It was threatening to fold up under its own weight, as it was.

They stopped, stared at Harvey. Harvey yelled at them to carry on. To me, he cooed, "It needs a few more welds, some reinforcing, that's all. I know what I am doing."

"Lenna will kill me. Can't they just take it away? I'll pay for everything. No hard feelings. Give me the kit I already bought. Let's just call it, 'done,' and go our merry ways."

"Don't fuck with me! I'm finishing the job. If you don't like it, you can yank it off. I don't care. But relax, Meggy, if you don't let me finish, you're not getting out of Turkiye on time. Your Sheila goes back to Mother Russia. Think about that before fucking with me."

Meg Aitken suggests cross bracing the radar arch total fail photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-5] Meg (hands in the air, burgundy top, bizarre hat) explains to the professionals, and startled bystanders, how cross bracing might be a good idea.

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It didn't fit. No big surprise there. The locals he hired, tried twisting, stretching, pounding and cursing the contraption into place. None of that worked. Finally, Harvey yelled, "Cut the fucker!"

Molten steel hissed and sizzled into the water. Globs of it left cigarette burns in the decorative, teak finish. The equipment arch's mounting plates were severed, bisected, slammed down wherever they fit. Holes were re-drilled with a Nightmare-on-Elm-Street power tool. Our deck was turning into Swiss cheese!

The wobbly struts needed reattaching. That's what welding is for, aye? Maybe, when what's getting welded, is not on a flammable, plastic object like a Beneteau.

The Turks welded one spindly strut at a time. When the smoke billowing from the deck became alarmingly dense, they left it to cool and moved onto the next weld. Good idea, until the deck burst into flame.

A flurry of hat waving, Turkish cursing and the discharge of a fire extinguisher put the conflagration down. Or so we thought. It was hard to tell. A carcinogenic stench and ominous crackling from under the plates was not an encouraging sign. I wanted Harvey's concoction off the boat. In the very least, I wanted to make sure the yacht we were living on wouldn't gas us or burst back into flame.

The Turkish stainless-steel installers refused to budge. Harvey was nowhere to be seen. Elena, sensing an incendiary situation in the offing, ran to get Erdem.

Erdem spoke with the steel fitters. Then he told me they hadn't been paid for the materials and wouldn't remove the arch until they were. They didn't give a rat's arse about the styrofoam, or balsa wood, or paper mache, or bubble gum core smouldering away like a coal mine fire. Okay, maybe it's not bubble gum, too expensive, I suppose. But what I'm saying is, I have no idea what they put between the layers of plastic to make a yacht. But I do know, it burns! That it was, in fact, still burning as we spoke, worked in the Turk's favour by strengthening their bargaining position.

"What do you mean, they haven't been paid? I've given Harvey thousands. In cash.

More Turkish, this time punctuated with erratic gestures toward Harvey's old gulet. "No, they have been paid for nothing." Erdem explained. "They borrowed the steel from a relation, with the understanding that they will pay for it when you paid to them."

We scraped together just enough cash for the Turks to pay their relatives. Crikey, were they relieved! Turns out, they were also really embarrassed. We combined forces to remove the epic, radar-arch fail, and hide it in the bushes behind the men's toilets and emergency generator shed.

Radar arch epic fail photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-6] Harvey's epic, radar-arch fail puts Meg (burgundy top, weird hat, right) and their boat, centre-ring in the marina circus, yet again.

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Nadia, one of Sinem's besties, ran a marine technical service from a cluttered office near the marina. She appeared to have a network of friends, relatives, connections and favours that defied human comprehension. There was nothing, she assured us, that she couldn't accomplish in the few weeks we had left.

First things first, she dug a telephone from the debris on her desk, hit speed dial, and a young lad showed up with a couple of silver tea platters dangling from a shoulder yoke. Tea is an essential service in Turkiye. Nothing gets done without it. Transacting business; welding steel; playing backgammon; putting a yacht together at the speed of light, one rings or calls out, and almost instantly, a wee bairn shows up with tea, sugar, spoons and wee, glass cups on swinging silver trays.

epic radar arch fail photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-7] The builders, embarrassed by Harvey's epic design fail, helped hide it in the bushes behind the emergency generator shed at Netsel Marina in Marmaris.

"We need all your equipment that Harvey has. Get it or tell us where we can pick it up. By the way, how much did you pay for that windvane?" Nadia perused Harvey's glossy, printed list.

I told her, through gritted teeth.

Sinem laughed herself into a snorting fit. Nadia rolled her eyes, picked up the phone and called the yacht immolators about the solar panels. "Not good. Harvey took them when you fired him."

"I fired him!? Bollocks! He set fire to our boat. Now the bampot's holding our solar panels hostage? Well, that's just, bloody brilliant."

"Maybe more than that. Maybe everything of yours. You need to try to get it. The police might be, hmmm, helpful."

Elena and I showed up at Harvey's gulet. A Russian game show blared on a big-screen TV. His girlfriend, slouching on the sofa, glared menacingly at Elena.

"You and your Turkish friends think you can screw me!" Harvey snarled like a band-saw cutting glass. "Think again. I am a highly respected consultant in the marine industry."

Elena backed away from Harvey's girlfriend. I tried defusing things. "Harv, buddy. Come on, this is Meggy you're talking to. I know you're the best. We just need to get going here. You're talent's wasted on our piddly, little boat. The shipyards need you, man. Tell you what, keep everything I've paid you, you've done enough, and we'll call it square. If you can just let me have the stuff I've already paid for--"

"Fuck you, lady! Just try to get any of that equipment. It's payment for my time and expertise. Nobody fucks with me, bitch. Nobody!"

pile of money and laptop photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-8] Some of the thousands of dollars Harvey hoovered up.

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Nadia thought she could re-source the gear, but it would take quantum headroom on my credit card. I logged into my account to check the balance. Maxed out! I stared in shock at purchase after purchase I knew nothing about.

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Elena Vaytsel at the Marmaris police station photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-9] Elena loiters outside the Marmaris police station.

At the police station, certain keywords: marina, big old gulet, eccentric Australian, and Russian girlfriend piqued the coppers' interest. We were whisked into a manky meeting room. Tea was served, and an English speaking lawyer with dark eyes and fiery red hair showed up. When tea was done, one of the officers spoke to the lawyer in Turkish. He translated and the questioning began.

They showed us photos of Harvey's gulet and maps of the marina. We pointed out its location. My questions about equipment were ignored. Then there were more pictures of people. Most of them were rough-looking types that neither of us recognised. The cops flipped through their special albums until they got to Harvey's girlfriend. They were bloody mug shots!

Binders slapped shut, the cops left, and we sat there with the red-headed lawyer. Eventually, an officer popped in to chat with the lawyer in Turkish. They hugged, shook hands and told me, I would get my possessions back in a few hours. And that's that. We were free to go.

planting onions in Marmaris photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-10] With not a lot else to do while Harvey fritters away precious time, Meg plants onions.

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The lawyer rang before we were back on our boat. "Was Harvey on the gulet?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess so." We had just walked by his boat and overheard him screaming at someone about being the captain of the ship. Frankly, I think the whole marina heard him.

"Was he armed?" We didn't think so. "Was his girlfriend there?" No way of knowing. Then again, we'd never seen her outside the gulet. After some muffled Turkish dialogue with someone on his end, he told us to stay below deck and out of sight.

Several police cars and a van blazed along the seawall and took up positions around the gulet. Then everything was unnaturally quiet. Elena couldn't stand it and just had to stick her head out a hatch to gawk at Harvey's girlfriend being led out in handcuffs. Surrounded by police, the Russian raised her head, locked eyes with Elena and screamed, "Zavtra tebya neh zheet!" Tomorrow you die!

Elena Vaytsel and Meg Aitken aboard their boat photo elenameg.com

[Image 26-11] Elena and Meg, making it work, one way or another.

[[ updated Apr 24 15:47 GMT ]]