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Turkish Coastal Cruising

June 24, 2013

It seems longer than the 5 weeks or so since the last post, but as I am sitting here in Ayvalik marina feeling very sorry for myself, recovering from a bad cold and cough, it seems like a good opportunity to put up another episode of our travels.

It seems as though we are a long way from Marmaris, where we finished putting the boat back together and set off a day or two after the last time I sent this out, , but remembering to take a few pictures of the town where I had discovered a secret area of ancient remains.

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Sculptures along the seafront

Our first stop was Ciftlik – a bay with restaurants and jetties where we tied up, I had a swim and we had a very good dinner out.  In retrospect we should have taken more advantage of these facilities while we were in the southern Aegean coastal area!

However the forecast was looking a bit rough, and we wanted to get on fairly quickly to somewhere sheltered.  Symi is a Greek island in the Datca bay area and has a lovely bay and anchorage well sheltered from the wind.  The passage there (26 Nautical miles) was more speedy than expected on a great beam reach!  We notched up over 7 knots at times which is very speedy (and a bit scary) for us.  By the time we reached Pethi bay we were down to a handkerchief of sail on the front.  A fairly small opening into Pethi bay was guarded by a rock and some rather large surf, but we made it through into calm waters (relief) and managed to get the anchor stuck in , put the dinghy motor on and went ashore.  An old but nicely maintained yacht called Open Return caught our eye – we had seen it at anchor the previous year a couple of times.  It was tied up to the small quay so we went to say hello – the oldish man on board had also suffered the storm outside and seemed to be single handing.  The next morning he was anchored on the other side of us and a small cargo ship was tied up alongside the quay.  That must have been an early morning shock….

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We had a taste of elevated Greek prices – a coffee and a beer cost us €7.30 – ouch.

The next day we were heading north and as far as possible west along the Datca peninsula.  Again there were strong winds and we reefed the mainsail, but still achieved over 7 knts a couple of times. The wind was more north than west, so we decided that Datca itself was our only feasible destination.  The town quay is nice enough if a bit noisy, and there is a charge for using it as well – a bit of a ripoff.  It proved to be a popular place to hide – we were quickly surrounded by other yachts and our anchor chain was crossed by several for the three nights we stayed there including a Neilsen flotilla. Finally we left on Monday 27th May.  First we had to ask a huge gulet to move, as he was parked across us completely.  Then we set off but found two of the Neilsen boats’ anchors and had to get their flotilla support guy to come and retrieve them from our chain!  He was most apologetic as he had thought he had been careful to miss our chain when he set them the previous day. No harm done and it was nice to have someone to sort it out.

We had anticipated stopping at Knidos (ancient harbour surrounded by ruins) but the wind was lighter than predicted and we decided to continue to Kos – careful to change from Turkish to Greek flag on the way!  We admitted to coming from Turkey and this precipitated a significant bureaucratic shuffle around the ports to fulfil entry requirements.  Kos marina has a port authority officer, who is only authorised to stamp our transit document.  She filled out a crew list and sent us off to the customs office in the middle of town, next to the old port. It took a while to find this, and were then berated for not having had our form stamped by passport control!  Where is that? we asked – back at the other end of the port. But he filled out the form anyway, and we dutifully went to the passport control office (says Port Police on the door) and got that bit filled in.  Then back to the marina officer to get our transit document stamped and another €15 for the privilege! We had to go back to the Customs office the next day to get the receipt for the fee we had had to pay to them (€30).

DSCF2180On our travels we kept bumping into another yachting couple – eventually finding out that they were on their 5th office trying to get a new transit log. The Greek ones are a big document with lots of boxes to be stamped every so often when you are in a port with appropriate offices – they say about every month.  Once your document is filled up you have to get a new one.  This proves difficult as I think reprints have succumbed to the national austerity programme!

After all this I succumbed to the beginning of the lurgy that seems to have followed us since – initial sinus problems I think – and stayed in bed for a day while Brian pottered around the boat and researched depth sounders.

DSCF2182Our depth sounder has been behaving erratically for a while – often at the most inappropriate time such as when we were in shallow water hunting for a good place to anchor. After much experimenting, taking it in and out of its oil filled reservoir (at least it is an inboard thing – sends pulses through the hull), we decided that perhaps they just wear out.  There is a fair amount of scarring on its sensing surface, in a pattern that suggests that the plastic just wears where the sonic pulse goes out and comes back.  Eventually we decided to get a new one and hunted in Turkish shops without success.  Gill and John were in the UK for a couple of weeks, so in the end we mail ordered a new one to be sent to them and it has now found its way to Ayvalik and has been installed. So far it works!

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No-one getting fuel at the fuel dock that day!

Since leaving Marmaris, where there was a bit of a heat wave, the temperatures cooled off again and in the wind it has been quite chilly as well as being cloudy.  We dug out our warmer clothes and trousers again for sailing and wrapped up in the wind! It has only got hot again in the last few days, so we are back to shorts and vests.

By Thursday we were ready to leave again  – reprovisioned and full of water and topped up with diesel.  After lunch the wind moved around and we were able to turn the engine off.  It is fantastic now with our new solar panels not to worry about the drain on the batteries when we are sailing and anchoring.

We headed up to Didyma – or Altinkum – where we anchored off the main town beach.  It was a bit noisy as we had selected the main disco area, but not too bad.  We can both sleep through most things! This was just a stopping point so that we didn’t have such long passages.  The next stop was back in Greece in a bay where we had been before on Agathonisi.  So we were just zigzagging up the Turkish coast, using Greek islands as stopping points where convenient.  We found too that if we were in sight of the Turkish coast, our Turkish internet dongle worked fine!

The start of June had a spurt of strong winds, so we headed north to Pythagorio on Samos, where we anchored in the bay for a couple of nights.  It was very bumpy and there were quite a lot of boats there, so it was a bit nervewracking hoping that we would all swing in the same direction at the same time!  All was well though.  We went ashore in the afternoon for bread and milk, being very pleased that Pythagorio shops stay open on Sundays! This is a major consideration as we dot about – Greek opening hours are somewhat restrictive compared to those of Turkey.DSCF2189

We were up very early the next day as a trio of women on a Turkish yacht were leaving at 6am and were worried that we were across their anchor.  We weren’t as it happened, but we had to be up to make sure!  Relieved, we went back to bed, then up and left a couple of hours later.  We were getting quite short of  provisions by this time and were in need of some land based activity.  Kusadasi is close to Ephesus, that I had wanted to visit.  It wasn’t very far from Samos to Kusadasi and the wind by now was very slight, so we had to motor all the way.  The marina has all mod cons, I managed to get a big load of washing done, Brian washed yellow dust off the boat and I did a few administrative jobs.

We caught the bus to Ephesus which was packed with tourists, but even so was extraordinary.  It is a huge site and some has been restored quite well especially the main attraction of the library façade.

Here are a selection of pictures taken at Ephesus

We managed to trudge around the site for a couple of hours, then caught the bus into Selcuk, the town nearby.  That also had a few good ancient buildings, but we were morDSCF2241e interested in the beef sandwiches that were on offer at the pavement cafés!   We wandered around the town after satisfying our hunger.  The demonstrations in Istanbul had started by then.  A small group of people with Attaturk Tshirts and national flags were gathered in the square by a park. The municipal café in the park was shut, and they were broadcasting uplifting music.  The majority of the demonstrators there were quite middle aged and traditional looking, so don’t imagine that it is a youth thing.

We returned to Kusadasi tired and footsore, but pleased we had managed to see the sights.  On our return, we spied a yacht called Sabbatical3 – an American couple who had been referred to us by email for some advice on Kas marina.  We chatted for a short time which was nice.

DSCF2242By this time it was the end of the first week of June, so after provisioning and sorting the boat out we set off north again, keeping to the Turkish coast.  There are big bays around but not much in the way of shelter so we were keeping a close eye on the weather.  The first trip was just 12NM to what looked like a nice spot – however it was full of day trip boats, so we headed to the next bay and settled in for the evening.  The next day we headed to Teos which has ruins but is also lined with tourist developments.  It was 19 miles, wind on the nose and Brian had now developed this cold so we motored all the way and anchored off the beach. The depth meter was not working at all that day, so we had to make for areas where the charts were very detailed in order to anchor “blind”.

DSCF2246On the way we passed the next headland and some interesting rock formations on the island attached.   A yacht and some day trip boats were tucked into the small inlet on the headland, reputed to have hot springs.

We spotted dolphins on this trip and one or two others during the past month.  One day we saw a small swordfish leaping out of the sea several times, and a falcon swooped by too. Every day we see shearwaters – Cory’s and Manx – gliding above the waves on the lookout for food. Brian wonders if they are just shortsighted so have to keep close to the water!

We spent a day relaxing at Teos – it was very windy and nothing ashore looked particularly interesting so we didn’t bother to explore and Brian was feeling rough.  From there we headed up to what was billed as an enchanting anchorage – only to find it was full of fish farms and the next bay was too.  As we sailed (motored) past you could see there were passages through the marker buoys, but we felt we might as well carry on to the next free area at Agrilar Limani.  Again this was covered with tourist developments and hotels, but a pleasant enough anchorage and calm waters despite a strong wind down the valley.  It is a favourite spot for windsurfers. Strange white cliffs at the entrance.DSCF2248

Our next target was Dalyankoy – supposed to be a small harbour, very sheltered, as winds were forecast to pick up.  A 21 mile motor – this time with the wind behind us, but not enough.  So it was quite relaxing, until we got to our destination and prepared the boat for mooring in the harbour.  We edged in and found that it was packed with motor boats and yachts with absolutely no space for visitors.  We turned around and headed for a couple of bays further south which looked nice – but these also were packed with motor boats at anchor.  Giving up we went up to the north of the harbour, anchored, prepped the dinghy and went ashore looking for supermarkets.   These we found – relief – and went back to the boat.  The wind by now had swung round 180° and we were too close to the rocks, so we took up the anchor and went into the bay closer to the harbour.  What a day!  By this time I also had developed the cold Brian had caught, so we weren’t a very cheerful couple!DSCF2258

The next day neither of us felt up to doing much even to the extent of not wanting lunch.  However we managed to go ashore in the afternoon and revived ourselves with nice icecream at one of the cafés before raiding the shops.  Our provisions from Kusadasi had lasted for 5 days which wasn’t bad.  Dalyankoy is a strange town, with posh restaurants on the harbour front and then a line of shops.  The whole place is empty so not many full time residents, just people who come down from Izmir or Istanbul to their holiday homes.

That night the thunderstorm which had been threatening all day decided to break at 1.30 in the morning.  Brian checked that the anchor was holding and I put the computer in the oven and went back to bed!

We wanted to get away from Dalyankoy as we could see the meltemi being forecast for the beginning of the following week.  An early start saw us on the way to Karaburun – a small bay on the tip of a very barren peninsula.  The wind was quite favourable for a while so we just put the jib up to help us along, then the main sail – but as soon as that went up the wind died, then turned to the north – on the nose again!  Having looked at the direction of the wind, we decided to give Karaburun a miss and carry on to Bademli – sheltered coves on the far side of the bay.  So it was a long trip, 42 miles, sort of close hauling but with the engine doing most of the work.  We snuck  into the shelter of Bademli lagoon, and tried to anchor where indicated but found that the anchor just slid through without gripping.  When I pulled it back up it was solid with mud and weed and took a while to clear it all off. We headed further north to where other yachts were anchored and managed to get a good hold.  By this time it was 7.30 – a very long day for us especially as we weren’t feeling too good still and had been up during the night with the thunderstorm.

So we stayed at aDSCF2260nchor in Bademli for three nights, just resting, sleeping and reading in between sniffles and coughs.  It was a shame not to go ashore to explore, but we have to stay in this area for a while as mail is awaited, so we hope to go back there for a better look.  There are hot springs in the lagoon and a village and restaurant in the bay at the top.

The forecast meltemi was approaching, so we eventually picked ourselves up and motored 25 miles up towards the islands and peninsula around Ayvalik.  Gill and John were sending the new transponder to us at the marina.  The first night we spent at anchor in avery nice and isolated bay outside the main harbour, then headed for the marina and tied up here on Monday 17th June – two weeks before we really needed to be here but after 10 days at anchor!  I retired to bed again for the rest of the day, and feel better to be within reach of dry land.  The meltemi did indeed arrive and has blown at more than 20 knots for a solid 5 days, only dying down slightly last night. DSCF2274

We have managed to explore the town a bit in between resting and staying in bed – it is fascinating, with a glitzy strip along the front, then cobbled streets and derelict buildings behind.  It looks mostly Greek architecture, and about 40% of the buildings are derelict or actually ruined – what a shame.  The outer parts of the town look very poor, so this seems to be quite a depressed area despite the marina and some tourism.  The marina is packed – very little space for visiting boats.  A helicopter landed at the end of the breakwater yesterday, disgorging visitors for a motor yacht on the quay. That livened up the day!

We are going to stay here until I feel fit to go (Brian is now pretty much recovered), then mooch around the outer bays and go back down to Bademli, possibly calling in at Mitilini, Lesvos (just across the channel) for a pork fest and camping gaz refill!

Once our mail has arrived we plan to carry on north, ending up at Port Lagos on the Greek coast east of the Halkidiki peninsula.  There we hope to leave Alixora for two or three weeks and head inland for an explore – then back down the Greek islands to Samos by early September.

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From → Greece, Turkey

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