Trip Reports

Rock On (31-May-2002-07-00):
8:00 AM local time, Friday, May 31 (0500 May 31 UTC) 36 10 N 029 39 E. Temp. 74, Humidity 69%, Cloud Cover 5%. Anchored with a stern line to shore in Bayindir Bay, near Kas, Turkey.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

Southern Turkey is an area of strong earthquakes and is of considerable interest to the geologist. On our drive through the Taurus Mountains, I puzzled over a valley that starts at about 2500 feet and on its seaward end terminates at Finike, which has the unmistakable "U" shape of a valley carved by glaciation. I puzzled because, at latitude 36N, which is about even with San Luis Obispo, we were quite a long distance south of the southernmost terminus of the northern European ice sheet during the Pleistocene. Surely, in the mountains nearby, which rise to over 12,000 feet, there were glaciers; but not at or near sea level. To clarify this I consulted Hassan Ozturk, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Antalya. (The last sentence is a lie. The Captain had no such conversation, and as far as I know the school is also a fiction-Ed.) The good professor didn't know what to make of it, either.

As we sailed along the coast heading west from Finike, we observed a bathtub ring where there was no vegetation, along the shore to a height of fifty feet or so. Since the oceans have risen an average of about 300 feet since the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago when there was no San Francisco Bay and the nearest seashore was at the Farallons, it doesn't seem likely that in recent history, geologically speaking, the sea has fallen around Finike. So the Captain thought that maybe the sea level has dropped and this accounted for the lack of vegetation; but Ship's Marine Biologist Terry Shrode, who did his post graduate work in the flora of the littoral zone, thinks that the height of waves and spray from winter storms is the reason for it. This is a better theory, the Captain would be most obliged if you didn't share that with Mr. Shrode.

Whether or not they make the plants stop growing, the earthquakes and land movement in these parts, and the rise of the Taurus mountains, is accounted for by the fact that both the Arabian Plate and the African Plate are heading north to get out of the terrible heat and dust in those regions, and because they have no ski areas. The resultant subduction zone in the northeastern Mediterranean and extending east into Asia has created the Alps, the Taurus Mountains, and the Caucasus Mountains, and also volcanoes like Vesuvius and Aetna. All this has happened to the consternation of archaeologists, who find their precious pottery everywhere shattered into a thousand pieces by nature's reckless shaking and grinding. But on the other hand they've uncovered Pompeii, where they were thrilled to find people who were ossified just as they cowered in agony, choked to death by the gas from an eruption at Vesuvius that soon entombed them.

It's an old story to us folks from the west coast, especially those of us whose memory goes back 30 million years or so. Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. St. Helens, and volcanics that remain in Sonoma County, have all been produced by just the same process, and the same type of subduction produced the granite of the Sierra and then uplifted that fine mountain range where you can pay a lot for a lift ticket at Squaw. The stuff we live on back home in Marin County is ancient seafloor scraped off as the seabed to the west committed subducticide, just as the limestone of the Taurus Mountains, now up there at 12,000 feet, used to be at the bottom of an ancient body of shallow water. (You kids at home can identify limestone on your next hike by taking along a little vinegar. If you see a pale rock, pour some vinegar on it, and if it fizzes, it's limestone.) But now, a strike-slip fault splits California in half, and our Pt. Reyes Seashore has scooted up the coast from LA, sometimes diving below sea level as it rubbed its way along the San Andreas Fault. The motion of the Pacific Plate, which tended eastward in the past, has turned north, and it is this motion that produces earthquakes like the recent one at Loma Prieta. Likewise, various faults in Turkey, where the African Plate, the Arabian Plate, and the Eurasian Plate come together, produce those pictures you see on TV of people picking up the rubble of stone houses in mountain villages hereabouts. Just as twisters in the US always hit trailer parks, earthquakes in Turkey always hit unreinforced, stone and mortar buildings. They are both video-related phenomena. Most of the stone houses have by now been replaced by modern structures, and when the last one is destroyed, there will be no more earthquakes on TV from Turkey.

PS to Dave Tolmie: Above palaver is dedicated to you, my friend.


We're back up to five boats lost in the Red Sea, not counting the dismasting and consequent stripping of a catamaran. That means that about five percent, or one out of twenty boats, that came up the Red Sea will not sail again on any others. I'm sorry about the shifting details, but when a boat sinks, the crew has no radio to communicate with other sailors, and doing so is at any rate not a high priority when their lives have just been blown to pieces. So all the stories come bit by bit from other sources.

We talked to Francis of Okiva on the radio the other day, and Paul today. The boat's in Cypress and they intend to sail to Rhodes and then Athens, where we will definitely plan some kind of tea party. Remember, at one time or another it was a toss-up whether either Okiva or Maverick would make it to the Med this year.

To follow up once again on the high-strung guitar tuning: It turns out that indeed there are two schools of thought. One, held by the Captain, is that the bottom four strings are tuned up an octave; the other, practiced by the rest of the music world, is that the bottom three strings only are affected. Music business professionals, the producers, studio cats, and engineers, have written to give us the facts. I suppose I could discount the guys from LA and San Francisco, but Stephen Fishell, producer to the stars, of Nashville, Tennessee, threw his weight behind the three-string view as well. All I can say to Paul Rogers, who asked this question in the first place, is that the Captain has used the four-string tuning on all his recordings that require this instrument, and the results speak for themselves. Do you want to throw your hat in with tradition, correctness, and style, or do you want to sail with the Captain to distant shores, seeking that extra dram of jingle-jangle? I think you know what to do.

Next report from this location: Beneath The Waves

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