The early morning peace at our anchorage outside the Turkish Riviera resort town of Marmaris was shattered by the blaring of horns, tooting, sirens and loud music very close by.
A fire boat was spraying water and several vessels were moving in procession with a large Coast Guard ship leading the way.
We weren’t sure what the celebration was and wondered whether there was an important dignitary aboard the Coast Guard vessel.
In the midst of all the hubbub, a group of around eight JetSkis appeared with riders holding outsized Turkish flags. They put on a display of what can only be described as motorised version of synchronised swimming! That woke us up!
Since dropping off our boat buddies Sue and John from S/V Catabella at Dalaman airport and the lovely day out we had in the car, life on board had been pretty uneventful.
We had planned a stop in Marmaris to do various boat jobs and get a few things organised. Marmaris is heavenly for yachties as it has every conceivable boat orientated business you can imagine.
We ticked off quite a few items from our list and decided to shelve a few others (like buying a new bar fridge) for later. A plan of buying a fridge in Germany and bringing it back in the campervan in the winter was beginning to form in our minds.
One evening, after a busy boat job day we decided to go for a meal and wandered into the very charming area round the base of the castle.
This part of Marmaris has retained the character of a traditional village with narrow, cobbled laneways and whitewashed stone houses covered in bougainvillea.
We sat down for a cold drink at a lovely shady restaurant called Gorya and ended up chatting to the owner and then staying for dinner. We asked her to choose some meze dishes and then she recommended a couple of main courses. We ended up with an absolute feast! There was a very good singer performing that evening so we were serenaded as we ate!
This little area around the castle was so nice that we returned to explore it a bit more thoroughly and to go into the castle and small museum.
First built by the Ionians (1044 BC) and later on repaired during the era of the Alexander the Great in the 4th Century BC and again in the 15th Century by Suleiman the Magnificent, the castle was almost completely destroyed by French cannon fire in World War 1.
Fully restored in the 1980s the castle grounds have a few exhibits scattered round and lovely cool gardens to enjoy.
There were fabulous views over the bay and the small museum was interesting.
We also met up with Natalia and Bill from Island Bound at our favourite restaurant – Memet’s. We first met these two on the Indonesian Rally in 2015 and last saw them almost exactly a year ago when we had just arrived in Turkey and they introduced us to Memet’s. It was great to catch up again.
Our anchorage outside Marmaris was extremely comfortable and much cooler than being cooped up in a marina. Even though we could have used the “free” four weeks in the Netsel Marina we get as part of our 12-month contract with Setur Marinas, we much prefer to swing at anchor.
We did pop into the marina most days to check on S/V Catabella as we weren’t at all impressed by the way the marina workers had tied her up. Instead of attaching her bow line to an anchored line, they just tied it up onto the yacht next door! There was loads of space next to Catabella so there was no excuse really.
As anticipated, the wind changed and all that was stopping Catabella from banging against the dock was her small strategically placed ball fender.
After “a quiet word” with the office, Catabella was properly tied up.
There’s such a difference between Finike where the staff constantly patrol up and down the wharfs to check on boats and Marmaris where it appears that this is not the case at all.
Anchoring out was a better choice for us although there were a few days when it was very rough and riding in the dinghy to and from land felt precarious – and climbing on and off the boat even more so!
It could also be quite noisy – three or four mosques doing the call to prayer at the same (but with a few seconds delay so the high volume chorus just sounded like a jangled, out of time cacophony of sound). Worse were the high volume “beats” emanating from the tourist boats – many of them with towering “Pirates of the Caribbean” themed fibreglass infrastructures with massive sound systems to match.
At night the noise from the Clubs and Karaoke Bars drifted across the water but fortunately they didn’t keep us awake after a busy day.
After our exciting Med mooring experiences in the Göcek National Park we left for Marmaris and were looking forward to the sanity of swinging at anchor.
We left early (for us!) to take advantage of the relatively light winds and smooth seas as it was predicted that the wind (which at this time of year is mostly against us) would start blowing a lot harder around lunchtime.
The National Park area was beautifully serene as we motored out towards the open sea. Once on course for Marmaris we had a very good trip and even managed to sail for a while which was lovely!
It was fantastic to be at anchor once again in the bay off Içmeler, a resort area within the massive harbour of Marmaris.
This was where we anchored when we first arrived in Turkey almost exactly a year ago and it was great to be back!
One of the things we enjoyed during our first visit was taking our dinghy up a small canal to a great little cafe called Florida that specialises in catering to the needs of English residents yearning for some of their favourite meals!
Don’t get me wrong, we love Turkish food, and we eat really well on board with lots of fresh salads and vegetables but just occasionally it’s fun to have that good old favourite – a generous helping of fish and chips – complete with HP sauce and mushy peas if that’s your heart’s desire.
The cafe also does an amazing full English breakfast and even a Scottish breakfast – complete with a potato scone and black pudding! Like so many businesses they are really suffering due to Covid so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to pay a visit.
After a beautiful moonlit night we woke up to a really oppressively hot day. We’d had a couple of shockers in the previous days when the Mercury hit 40 plus degrees celcius (104 plus degrees Fahrenheit). This day it felt like someone was blowing us with a hairdryer on full heat! I said to Jonathan in passing that it reminded me of Australian bushfire weather.
Later on that day we heard a helicopter fly over us at very low altitude. We popped out to have a look and realised it was scooping up water from the ocean in a big pouch hung below. This could only mean one thing – fire!
There was a big column of smoke on a nearby hillside and as we watched, it began to spread at an alarming rate right before our eyes!
John on our buddy boat S/V Catabella had been a member of the Bush Fire Brigade in Australia and he was concerned about the speed and direction of the fire. The last thing we wanted was to be showered with embers!
So we upped anchor and made a bolt for it to a bay just around the corner called Turunç Bükü. Once there, we were safe from the fire although we could still hear the helicopters hard at work for quite a time.
After a restful night we set off for Marmaris as Sue and John had managed to secure a berth at the Netsel Setur Marina.
Almost all the marinas here in Turkey are very full due to Covid but yachties with an annual contract with Setur Marina are entitled to stay at each of the marinas in the Setur Group for 30 days.
Unfortunately in some cases people are still finding it difficult to book a berth, even with a contract. This can prove very stressful if like Sue and John, you have a plane to catch! Luckily they were able to make a booking at the last minute but we had all sorts of contingency plans just in case.
On our way to Marmaris we passed where the bushfire had been and saw how close it had got to hotels on the coastline. Thank goodness the helicopter pilots swung into action so quickly and efficiently.
With Catabella safely ensconced in the marina, we went for a celebratory meal at Memed Okabasi – a wonderful traditional Turkish restaurant where the food is delicious and very reasonably priced.
Rather than getting a taxi to the airport the following day, Sue and John suggested that they would hire a car and in return for dropping them off at the airport we could use the car for a bit of sightseeing for the rest of the day.
It was still extremely hot so it was blissful to be in air conditioning for a day! Having farewelled Sue and John at Dalaman Airport we headed back towards Marmaris and then onwards along the peninsula towards Bozburun.
But first we stopped for breakfast at one of the many cool and shady gözleme stalls that lie along the D400 highway (a gözleme is a savoury Turkish stuffed flatbread). This road starts at nearby Datça and ends 2,057 kilometres later at the Iranian border!
These roadside stalls are like oases, with an abundance of cooling, shimmering, water and delicious snacks to delight travellers who stop to rest there.
We noticed that nearly all the stalls have overhead standpipes from which water gushes freely. Many of the stalls also have fountains and little streams which deliciously cool the air.
At the stall where we stopped we saw that next to the fountain was a pressure valve which suggests there was an underground aquifer below where the water was under pressure and bubbling up to the surface.
Suitably refreshed, we started off again, bypassed Marmaris and took the scenic (and extremely winding) route to Bozburun.
What a drive! Glorious views, hairpin bends, up steep hills, down even steeper hills. Eventually we arrived at Bozburun, a small seaside town famous for its thyme honey.
We managed to find a spot to park on the small but lovely harbour, and were very happy to see boats at anchor here – no need to Med moor here, thank goodness!
There were a few little restaurants open but it was extremely quiet on the whole, with hardly any tourists around.
A late lunch started with a delicious meze followed by wonderful fresh fish. We felt very full and very fortunate!
We thought Bozburun was a delightful spot and are very much looking forward to visiting again soon – next time by sea!
I’ve ranted about “Med mooring” before and I know in very deep and crowded anchorages it is a necessity but I will continue to absolutely abhor this way of securing our boat!
For the uninitiated, Med mooring is where you anchor in (usually) very deep water and then reverse towards land, stretching back on your anchor chain. Because it is so deep it can take several attempts to secure the anchor.
Then, one of you takes the dinghy (or some people swim) to shore with a rope or webbing while the other person keeps the boat in position using the engines while simultaneously feeding the line out to the person in the dinghy.
After what seems an eternity of watching the person (in our case Capt’n Birdseye) slipping and sliding on rocks while trying to tie up, the wind gusts send you hurtling dangerously close to the beautiful gulet next door. It is the stuff of nightmares.
THEN what can happen – does happen! We had been for a beautiful walk – all was calm, all was peaceful – but arriving back from our tramp we found that the wind had whipped up in beautiful Seagull bay putting all the boats under strain and testing everybody’s anchoring and tying up skills.
As we motored back on our little dinghy we saw a catamaran like ours in trouble – their anchor hadn’t held and they had to let go their lines and try to re-anchor and retie their ropes. They gave up and left the cove.
Two super yachts were revving the heck out of their engines and made a break for it to another anchorage.
We seemed to be holding well but the good captain was concerned about our webbing strap which was tied up to a post on shore. A tree had fallen close to the post and he was concerned that one of the branches was chafing against the strap.
He prepared another length of rope and was about to go and check when PING the strapping broke! Fortunately we had another line out and there wasn’t another boat to bang in to but we were being blown close to some very hair raising rocks.
Soon Jonathan had secured a replacement line but we were still sitting at an angle and it all felt very precarious.
Suddenly – out of nowhere – two angels appeared! Two Turkish sailors who had been tied up close to us at Finike marina had been on a dinghy ride and caught sight of us. They told us that there was space in the cove where they were moored – just ten minutes away – where it was sheltered from the wind that was sweeping into our bay.
With the help of our two angels – Cüneyt and his partner from S/V Lagon – we managed to untie our lines and pull up our anchor.
They then went over to S/V Catabella to see if they needed any help – it was so good that they did this because Sue and John on Catabella had two nasty incidents with their anchor.
First of all they snagged a great mess of fishing net which our rescue angels cut away and then the anchor caught on a rope. Who would have thought it was possible?!
We were very sad that we had to move from Seagull Bay as we had just met the delightful Yusef who – with the new proprietor of the restaurant – had done an excellent job of getting the place shipshape and working well.
We had promised to come to have a meal at the restaurant that evening and instead, we had to run away!
Our heroes guided us to the new spot in 22 Fathom Bay where we were skilfully assisted in by their sailing companions on S/V Mr Oka and S/V Ulgen (who, again, we knew from Finike marina.)
It was such a help to have all those extra pairs of hands and simply wonderful to be in a quiet sheltered and really beautiful spot. However, our peace didn’t last long!
A small “super yacht” drove into the cove and dropped its anchor exactly where all our anchors were laid with the intention of backing in directly opposite us.
The skipper soon realised that the cove was too small and started to pull the anchor up.
Next thing we knew their anchor had snagged Mr Oka’s chain. After much gesticulating and people whizzing around on dinghies the chain was released and the super yacht beat a hasty retreat without so much as an apology – let alone sending a crew member to assist in reanchoring/tying up.
No sooner than Mr Oka had resettled than we discovered our anchor had been lifted too!
So we also had to go through the same anchoring/tying up process again. Argggh! No wonder we hate Med Mooring! We are eternally grateful to our Turkish friends however, for stepping in to help us and the crew of S/V Catabella!
It was time to move on from Kas so we fuelled up, emptied our holding tanks and left town!
As we motored past the beautiful little Bed and Breakfast where we had enjoyed a delicious spread the previous day, we were amazed to see the figure of Aysun, the very generous owner who had presented us with the wonderful breakfast. She had been waiting to wave to us and of course, we waved madly back and reflected once again on the wonderful generosity of the Turkish people.
Our first stop was Kalkan where we had visited on our road trip a few days earlier. We had promised to return to the Doy Doy restaurant for dinner after chatting to Farouk, the owner’s son and hearing how desperate they were for the English tourists to arrive.
We (Sue and John from S/V Catabella and the two of us) had a wonderful meal and great service and can highly recommend Doy Doy restaurant to anyone visiting Kalkan.
The only problem was that the village was about a 20 – 25 minute dinghy ride to and from the anchorage (We only have a 6 horse power motor on our dinghy!). This was fine on the way there but less so on the way back in the pitch dark.
We had an issue getting our motor to start (which is really most unusual) and all the way back we felt a little nervous that the engine might stall leaving us bobbing about like a cork in the middle of the bay.
Sue and John shone their powerful beamed torch to guide us in and we knew they would be there to rescue us if we needed it! That’s one of the many advantages of travelling with a buddy boat!
We set off again the following day for one of our favourite spots – Fethiye. We even managed to get a bit of a sail in !
As always, we loved wandering through the bazaar in Fethiye, going to the fish market, visiting the chandlery (and chatting to the parrot there) and wandering round and soaking up the atmosphere.
Sue and John had their second vaccinations while we were there and we went with them to the hospital to try and find out why Jonathan still hadn’t got the “green light” to have his first. Asli, the very helpful young woman at the hospital suggested we contacted the medical practice where we were registered to see if they could suggest a way to hurry things up.
It seems there was a bit of an admin. error at the doctors and Jonathan wasn’t properly registered. It was a relief to hear there was a fixable reason for the delay and with the help of Aylin (otherwise known as the Marina Angel to Finike Marina residents) he was duly registered.
On one of the days in Fethiye we went to say hello to Ryan, the friendly spruiker at the juice bar we had frequented when we were last in Fethiye.
We were able to leave our dinghies outside the juice bar where Ryan could keep an eye on them. We were also helped by Captain Murat of Smile Boat Tours. Such a lovely fellow who, while helping us up, decided he was going to put a piece of carpet on the quay to save our knees!
We had a very good traditional Turkish lunch at Mozaik Bahçe – again, it is very highly recommended to anyone visiting Fethiye.
We spent our last night in one of the marina restaurants – it was lovely to gaze over the yachts and watch the lights sparkle on the water as the sun went down.
The next day we motored to a gorgeous bay between Fethiye and Göcek called Ciglik Koyu. We had visited this peaceful and picturesque spot in 2020 when my sister Julia was staying with us, and it is now a favourite of ours.
We had a great few days swimming, walking, people watching and doing an Emu Parade (rubbish pick up).
It was a very relaxing time but as Sue and John were soon leaving to meet their son and partner in Greece, we needed to leave for our next destination- Gocek.
After a night in the noisy town anchorage in Gocek we moved to Seagull Bay in the Gocek National Park.
After going through the normal nightmare of “Med Mooring” (more of that in my next blog!) we went ashore to the newly renovated restaurant in the bay.
We met a delightful young man called Josef who was helping the new owner turn the property from what was – on our last visit – a ramshackle but interesting place, into a proper going concern.
Before embarking on a lovely walk up the hill and over to the ocean side of the isthmus, we promised Josef we would come back that evening for a meal.
During our walk we came across a small group of cottages and stopped to look at a little goat that had curled up in the hearth of a big outdoor oven (was he tempting fate or what?!) when we were greeted by a delightful man called Murat.
He invited us in to his house for çay made from sage, handpicked on the hillside nearby and sweetened by divine tasting honey.
We chatted about weaving carpets, his goats, the number of families who lived nearby (about 25 and maybe 30 in winter) and we asked if they had honey to sell (which they did).
Murat also carved some really lovely spoons out of olive wood, camphor, sandalwood and cedar. Of course we bought some of those too!
Chatting to people like Aysun, “Ryan”, Captain Murat, Josef, Seagull Bay Murat and his wife, is one of the main reasons we travel. These encounters may often be brief but it is always so interesting to get a window on someone else’s life and to try to understand a little bit about them as individuals as well as about Turkish life and culture.
Lockdown in Turkey has meant we haven’t been able to realise our plans to travel – during the cooler months – to various locations inland. There are so many wonderful places to explore in this amazing country so it has been slightly disappointing.
Restrictions have been loosened now however, and we are back travelling over the water. This is just wonderful but the urge to explore some places of interest on land was still there so while we were anchored in Kas we decided to sneak in a quick road trip – just for the day – with our friends Sue on John of S/V Catabella.
We hired a car and drove first to Kalkan – only just over half an hour from Fethiye. Kalkan was an old Greek fishing village which became part of Turkey in 1923 during the Greek/Turkish population exchange. Now it is a thriving, sprawling, town, a haven for tourists, especially from Britain.
The old fishing port still maintains its Greek character, with narrow, paved or cobbled lanes, a profusion of bougainvillea and small and simple whitewashed houses.
We had a lovely time browsing in the shops – empty of people but not of tempting purchases – and admiring the wonderful view of the sparkling sea.
Apart from seeing the old village, the reason for stopping at Kalkan was to find a suitable spot for a nice cup of coffee.
The good news is that we found the perfect spot – the Doy Doy restaurant which boasted glorious views and every coffee choice you could wish for. The bad news was that the coffee machine had broken down!
Faruk, who welcomed us in, and who turned out to be the son of the owner, was mortified and insisted on us sitting down anyway for free çay. When you consider a cup of tea in Australia costs between $2.50 and $4.00, and the fact they have had no customers for months, this was so generous.
Next on the itinerary – the ruins of the Lycian city of Xanthos. This fascinating city, which was once the capital of Lycia, is perched on a hillside with extensive views of the surrounding countryside.
The city has played a prominent role in understanding Lycian history. In the 19th Century stone carvings were discovered in both Greek and Lycian which led to the unraveling of the Lycian language for the first time.
It is also famous for its funerary art but very sadly, many of architectural and sculptural pieces were taken to England in the 19th century, by the archeologist Charles Fellows. Among these artefacts were the Monument of Harpy, the Tomb of Payava and the Nereid Monument. These remain in the British Museum to this day.
Due to Covid there were very few other tourists there so we were able to spend a pleasant time wandering around the ruins undisturbed.
The peace and quiet belied the city’s violent past. When invaded by the Persians, rather than be captured by the invading forces, the Xanthosian men gathered their women, children, slaves and treasure at the acropolis and set them on fire before taking their final doomed defensive action.
In 42 BC the people of Xanthos again used murder and suicide to avoid being taken in the Roman civil wars.
The amphitheatre with its 2200 person capacity was very atmospheric and had spectacular acoustics. Built originally in the Hellenistic Period, it was renovated in Roman times.
From Xanthos we headed to the popular beach resort of Ölüdeniz.
The first thing that struck us about this lovely spot on the “Turquoise Coast” is that it was full of cars! It really was very busy and the little car park we used was chock full!
The second thing we noticed was that the sky was absolutely filled with colourful paragliders soaring and dropping like gorgeous mythical birds.
Apparently, Mount Babadağ which towers above Ölüdeniz, is regarded as one of the best places in the world to paraglide from. This is due to its unique panoramic views, stable weather conditions, and because the mountain has incredible thermals.
It was quite a sight to see the scores of paragliders floating gently in the sky, soaring upwards when they caught an air current and meandering slowly downwards and turning to land perfectly at a special spot in the middle of Ölüdeniz.
After a quick lunch in a waterfront cafe we decided to walk to the famous Blue Lagoon – we almost made it but were put off by all the commercial activity we could see in the distance – sun beds, cafes, craft of all kinds for hire and hoards of people.
Time was marching on and we had one more place to visit so we decided to turn back, leave the crowds behind and find our car.
Just 20 minutes later, after travelling along a rather bumpy road on which we had to make an emergency stop for a slow moving tortoise trying to cross the road, we made it to the ghost town of Kayaköy.
This haunting place was once home to Greek-speaking Christian subjects, and their Turkish-speaking Ottoman rulers. The townspeople had lived in relative harmony from the end of the turbulent Ottoman conquest of the region in the 14th century until the early 20th century.
Then in 1923 following the Treaty of Lausanne, the town’s Greek Orthodox residents were exiled and Muslim people exiled from Greece were settled there. The new residents found the land in Kayaköy inhospitable (and too full of ghosts!) and soon decamped, leaving the hillside village abandoned for a second time.
I am currently half way through “Birds Without Wings” by Louis de Bernières – set largely in the village of Eskibahçe which is based on Kayakoy. It felt strange being in the village after imagining the place in my head so many times.
It wasn’t hard to visualise the little children in the story, Christian and Muslim, running together through the maze of little lanes that twisted around the houses, past the old men playing backgammon outside the coffeehouse, past the women of the village gossiping at the well.
How poignant it was looking at the empty houses and the abandoned churches, shops and other civic buildings. It all felt such a waste – all that meddling in people’s lives – people who had lived amicably side by side for generations suddenly uprooted from all they had known. And for what?
We managed to get ourselves a little bit lost on our wanderings and ended up returning to our car via a rather circuitous route.
On our way we met a camel giving rides to tourists and then came upon its mate and baby along the way.
We arrived back in Kas late in the evening to find the Oxygen Bar in the marina buzzing with people listening to the live music. No masks in evidence and social distancing seemingly completely forgotten, we decided to sit at an adjacent restaurant/bar to listen to the last few numbers of the night.
Later we had a delicious meal at Vati one of the marina restaurants. After we had finished our waiter brought us – as a gift – a plate of fresh fruit and four shot glasses with a cocktail shaker containing a very shocking-green potion. It was a fun way to end the evening.
The next day we once again experienced the generosity and hospitality that is so typical of the Turkish people.
Sue and John invited us to join them for breakfast (kahvalti in Turkish) at the house belonging to Aysun, a short dinghy ride from Kas marina.
Aysun runs some wonderful bed and breakfast cottages in which Sue and John had stayed the previous year.
The property is situated on the peninsula opposite Kas marina and is perched high up on a hillside overlooking the water.
We arrived at the small jetty and private beach and after tying up our dinghies walked up the prettiest flight of stairs to a shady balcony where we were warmly greeted by Aysun.
In the middle of the deck overlooking the water, was a table groaning with the most fabulous spread imaginable.
There were black and green olives from the garden, apple jam, fig jam, chili paste and quince preserves all made by Aysun from produce grown on the property. The honey came from their neighbours up the hill. The tomatoes and cucumber came from the family farm. There was also menemen – the Turkish version of scrambled eggs – delicious salty white cheese, Börek – thin sheets of dough, filled with cheese and vegetables, fresh bread and other delicious treats.
We ate far more than was good for us and chatted to Aysun who continually topped up our cups with çay.
What a hostess Aysun was and what a paradise she shares with her many guests from around the world! We felt sure that this would be the perfect place to stay and immediately thought of family members and friends who would just adore it. To our consternation Aysun refused any payment – she just loved it that John and Sue had returned to visit her. So very generous.
That evening we had the first rain in months. It was so refreshing and such a novelty to hear rumbles of thunder and the sound of the rain drops hitting the water surrounding us.
The sky looked very threatening but apart from the downpour and a few rolls of thunder, there was no really rough weather to contend with and as if to reassure us, a beautiful rainbow appeared over Kas before the rain finally stopped.
Arriving at Uçağız, the small fishing village in the heart of the landlocked bay of Kekova Roads felt a little like visiting an old friend.
We have anchored close to the village more than half a dozen times and always feel so comfortable and welcome when we go ashore.
Covid has really hit this little village very, very, hard. For too long the restaurants have been closed, the tourists haven’t visited to take trips on the beautiful gulets and every shop and business owner has been doing it tough.
We tried to do our best to make up for this by spending money where we could – buying some fruit and vegetables at the little greengrocers, eating gözleme one day for lunch etc. (We never tire of watching the gözleme making process!)
We also ate twice at our favourite restaurant – Hassan’s – on the waterfront. The second time Sue and I had lobster which was beautifully cooked and tasted absolutely wonderful!
Yachties have been frequenting Hassan’s restaurant for many years and his fame as a fish chef extraordinaire is legendary. It was so special having our first lunch out since lockdown restrictions were reduced, at this legendary spot.
At our first lunch there we (Jonathan and I and Nikki who had been staying with us and Sue and John from Catabella ) were joined by our friends from Finike Marina Jill and Shelley who live aboard their beautiful Catamaran Eucalyptus (yes, they’re Australian!)
They came by taxi on this particular day as they were in the process of having some work done on their boat.
We had a fabulous lunch and afterwards we walked through the village marvelling at the gorgeous array of flowers on display. This is such a fantastic time of year to visit Turkey!
Eventually we ended up once again at Jonathan’s most favourite shop – The Antique Carpet and Kilim store.
We had already spent considerable time (and some money) the previous day looking at the gorgeous rugs. We had bought a lovely runner which will grace some lucky floor one day.
Once again, the ever patient proprietor and his mentor, pulled out all sorts of beautiful works of art for us to see. Several among us were tempted but wanted to take measurements and decide if a sailing yacht was really the place to have antique rugs.
Our visitor Nikki who had sailed with us from Finike and spent almost a week aboard with us, went back with Jill and Shelley in their taxi. It was sad to see her go but she has her own boat that needs her attention.
During our stay in Uçağız we had some incredibly windy weather. It was so blowy that we had to postpone our lunch with Jill and Shelley for a day as it was just too rough to dinghy in to the restaurant.
It was the kind of weather that flummoxes even experienced yachties. Jonathan gallantly went to the aid of former fellow Finike marina residents who unfortunately caught their dinghy painter (rope) in their propellor while trying to anchor.
The wind was blowing nine bells and the poor skipper had to cut away the dinghy and dive down to free the propeller. What a drama but fortunately Jonathan was able to retrieve the dinghy and bring it back to its owner.
During this window of blowy weather I decided to try my hand at a popular Turkish dish Tepsi kebab (tray bake Antakya). It looked and tasted delicious but we were sadly unable to share it with Sue and John on Catabella as the weather was just too rough for them to launch their dinghy.
After a wonderful few days it was time for us to move on to our next destination – Kas.
This lovely spot also feels a bit like home as we have spent quite a bit of time here both this year and in 2020. However we have realised there are always lots of new things to find even if you think you know somewhere pretty well.
Thanks to Nikki we have discovered the Muhtar supermarket which has lots of goods that are difficult to find in Turkey including cans of coconut milk, green curry base, Marmite and marmalade!
I now have several months worth of coconut milk in my stores!
We also found a delicious pide restaurant, a new wine shop and a restaurant called the Corner store recommended by Nikki where we had a delicious lunch one day.
Although we have a contract which allows us to stay at all the Setur Marinas in Turkey we had already exceeded the 28-day limit at the Kas facility which is why we anchored in the sheltered cove near the marina hard standing.
We usually prefer to anchor anyway as it’s cooler, quieter and normally more relaxing than being in a marina berth.
Strangely we had two instances during our stay which definitely weren’t relaxing. Both times it was – despite perfect conditions – due to boats coming into the anchorage that failed to anchor correctly.
Instead of laying their anchor by reversing slowly once it was dropped, the skippers just slung the anchor over and didn’t even stop to check it had set correctly.
The result was that twice we had other yachts drift so close to us that we could almost step onto them from our boat!
One yacht owner quickly realised that he was too close and pulled up some chain and ensured his anchor was set. The other seemed totally unconcerned and didn’t do anything until Jonathan made it quite clear he wasn’t happy with his anchoring and wasn’t wanting to be woken up at 3am with his boat banging into us!
Fortunately discretion being the better part of valour, the other skipper decided he wouldn’t want to be banging into our boat at 3am either so he hauled anchor and actually did a decent job second time round.
Despite these couple of hiccups it was great to be back on anchor in Kas.
A week after full lockdown in Turkey finished and Covid restrictions had begun to lift, the engineers at Finike marina started to put our hydraulic passerelle (gangplank) back together.
For many weeks it had been propped up with an ingenious steel bar (which we hadn’t asked for but appeared after they had removed the hydraulic system) and then later, a rather large log.
All that had been wrong with it was a slight leak of hydraulic fluid. It needed a seal (or what turned out to be a number of seals) in the hydraulics replaced. Seemed simple enough but the replacements had to be flown in from Istanbul and because of the lockdown, deliveries were severely held up.
It was so good to have it fixed finally and not to have to struggle to get aboard with the passerelle sticking up at a perilously high angle when the tide was low. At last we could walk the plank!
We were rather shocked at the bill – we were verbally quoted a sum for the work and then when it came time to pay, the bill was double the quoted amount. Eventually it was reduced to the original sum but it left an unpleasant taste in our mouths.
Note to self: get written quotes and warn the contractor that unless extras are discussed as they occur and signed off, they will not be paid! Not that there was any extra work done in this instance but still….
Maybe there is an expectation that customers will “bargain” when they receive a bill and thereby a mutually agreeable price reached or perhaps the contractors here in Turkey think we are all fabulously wealthy and can afford to pay elevated prices. Either way, being charged over and above what was agreed doesn’t sit comfortably with us.
Other jobs to be done before we left included a pump-out of the black water (toilet) tanks, a service to our large in-house generator, lots of food shopping and last minute games of Rummikub aboard S/V Eucalyptus!
At last, after almost exactly two months in Finike marina we cast off our lines and left to feel the wind on our faces, swing at anchor and enjoy some more sailing adventures.
We left Finike Marina on Thursday 27 May heading for one of favourite spots – Kekova Roads.
Leaving with us were our buddies Sue and John on Catabella and aboard Sunday was our new neighbour at Finike marina, Nikki from Destination Anywhere.
Nikki had quickly become a good friend since arriving at the marina during lockdown and we invited her to come along for the ride, as she is currently on her own and her very large (and beautiful) Beneteau is hard to sail singlehanded.
There was very little wind so we motored to our first anchorage, and as we slid through the beautiful clear water a mist settled around us which created an eerie atmosphere.
Fortunately the mist lifted as we approached Gökkaya Limamı and we were very happy to see that Catabella was safely anchored in an excellent spot and that there were only a few boats in the anchorage.
Gökkaya Limanı is a beautiful sheltered spot surrounded by a group of small islands which gives the bay a fiord-like appearance.
Aah! It was so good to be at anchor again! After a lovely (cool!) first swim of the season, in the clear blue water, we had a celebratory barbecue aboard Sunday and late in the evening we were treated to the most glorious full moon.
The following day Sue and I taught the others how to play Rummikub (taught to us by Jill and Shelley on S/V Eucalyptus) – a fun game that apparently originated in Israel but is very popular here in Turkey.
We had more swims that afternoon and had a delicious curry night on Catabella.
The following day we took our dinghies to explore the beautiful cave on the south side of the small and uninhabited island of Ashil Adasi.
Inside the cave there are rocks lurking under the water like Captain Cook’s Crocodile while high up in the roof of cave tiny little bats squeak loudly and irritably at being disturbed.
The bats were starting to dart around in the dark – too close to our heads for my liking – so we headed out to explore the promising sounding “Smuggler’s Cove” just a short dinghy ride away.
At the mouth of the cove was a motor yacht anchored but as we made our way along, the cove started to narrow and the water became too shallow for a yacht to anchor in.
Then we saw a building that could possibly have been a pirate’s den, a smuggler’s lair or was it a bar?!
A notice proclaimed that “Pirates Only” were allowed and the guy who greeted us definitely looked a lot like a pirate! He offered us cold beers, coffee and çay but there was no food available (due to lockdown). It was lunchtime so we decided to return back to our yachts for lunch rather than go ashore.
The following day we decided to see if we could walk to the bar along the rough track that the goats take each morning to find new things to eat.
It was a very pleasant walk with lovely views and strenuous enough to make us feel we deserved a cold beer at the Smugglers Inn Pirate Bar before walking back!
Thanks to Nikki and Sue for additional photography!
Thinking about what to write in this week’s blog there didn’t seem much news to recount but on second thoughts, there have been at least three events of importance this week.
The first is that Turkey came out of full lockdown which means we can walk freely, get boat work done (our gang plank – aka our passarelle has been waiting for new seals for weeks) and postal and courier deliveries can get back to normal.
There are still lockdowns every weekend which means we can only sail during the week and can’t wander around town or go for long walks at weekends although food shops will still be open.
The second big event is that yesterday we received our Turkish temporary residency cards! This is such a wonderful relief at a time of travel restrictions and closed borders due to Covid.
Last year, in contrast, we arrived in Greece just as the country was about to go under total lockdown. We moved onto our boat on March 17 the day lockdown began and from then on were confined to the boat and the marina surrounds for almost. three months.
There were barriers placed across the harbour entrance to ensure no one tried to sail off into the blue yonder (there were 1,000 charter yachts moored there and a tiny handful of cruising yachts – us and the Whittaker family on Polykandros to be precise.)
When our three months Schengen visa free period was up we were not allowed to extend our stay despite the circumstances. The Immigration official banged on her desk and shouted to Jonathan – who has a New Zealand passport but hasn’t lived there since 1984, “You go back to New Zealand and your wife must go back to Australia” (despite there being absolutely no flights!)
In contrast, in Turkey it has been very easy to apply for one-year temporary residency and with the help of Finike yacht agent Samet Gölgeci and travel agent Tarik Toprak, the process was easy.
We feel so grateful to Turkey for giving us the security of somewhere to stay while the world continues to be unsettled – unlike our home country, the hermit kingdom of Australia, where the government has made it nigh impossible for us to return.
The other important milestone was that I was called in for my first Covid vaccination. Unfortunately Jonathan is still waiting for an appointment but hopefully it will be his turn soon.
Having had a very mild dose of Covid late last year in the Netherlands I wasn’t too anxious about getting grievously ill with the virus even if I caught it again but I really do believe that it is each person’s duty to think about the good of others before their own needs and desires.
It’s all very well for people to decide they don’t want to be vaccinated – for whatever reason – but in order to get ALL of our lives back to normal we need to have the majority of the population worldwide vaccinated – ASAP.
In the UK more than 37 million people (55.9 per cent of the population) have received at least one dose. Now the country is out of lockdown and Covid cases and hospital numbers are way down.
So for those anxious about having a vaccine – look at the numbers. The vast majority of people in the UK who have been vaccinated have had no harmful side effects. In contrast, the small number of people who have ended up very sick in hospital and in some cases, dying, with Covid have been unvaccinated or have caught Covid before they were vaccinated or before their immunity had built up.
In Australia people are being very slow to be vaccinated partly, I believe, because they feel that they have “beaten” Covid. Well they haven’t!
The Australian government has announced that the borders with the rest of the world will remain closed until mid-2022. There is no way the country will open even at that stage unless people go out and get vaccinated.
For those, like us, who have family in Australia (and dear friends of course) it seems a hopeless situation. We sometimes wonder if we will ever see them again.
And just by the way, the Astra Zeneca vaccine is being provided at NO profit. Additionally, for those worried about blood clots it’s estimated this syndrome occurs in just six people per one million people vaccinated, on average, with the risk even lower for those over 50. This is about the same as your risk of serious injury from being stuck by lightning in a year in Australia.
Anyway! Apart from those important events, the passed week has unfolded pleasantly with 7.30am yoga sessions (a miracle that I’m even awake at this time!); Scrabble or games of Rummikub in the afternoons; movie nights on S/V Catabella with a big screen, complete with popcorn and choc ices; farewell coffee and cake on S/V Liberte with Liz and Steve who we first met in Borneo, and drinks on other boats and on the dock.
Yesterday we had a communal “casting off” party for all those leaving the marina this week. It was organised by the Turkish sailors who kindly invited us along to their celebration.
We all took salads and other things to share and the local people organised large “tray kebabs” for everyone. The food was spicy and delicious and we had a lovely afternoon eating and drinking together.
I have also been introduced to the delights of a Turkish spa this week by Sue of S/V Catabella.
Before our massage we were taken into a steamy marble-lined room with two slabs on which we were to lie.
Beforehand, hot water was sloshed over the slabs so it felt comfortably warm to lie on.
Then we were scrubbed from head to toe with what can only be described as one of those old fashioned pan scrubbers. While slightly excruciating it was also invigorating and strangely relaxing. At intervals we were rinsed by bucketfuls of hot water being sloshed over us which felt lovely.
After the scrub came the bubbles (not the alcoholic kind!) applied with what felt like a deliciously soft chamois, followed by a vigorous hair wash. Then after a quick dry off it was time for a wonderful but pretty conventional massage.
Now lockdown is over we are slowly getting ready for our departure this coming Thursday. We can’t wait to out into the blue yonder again! One such task was to find a way round the strange phenomenon of having our telephone blocked.
For some reason, after three months in the country, phones that are foreign made are somehow “disabled” by the Turkish government, regardless of whether you have a Turkish SIM or whether you are a temporary resident.
To get around this rather strange situation we have bought a small portable wifi hub with which we can “hotspot” using our disabled phones (apparently they can still do this!). We have also bought a tiny little Nokia with which we can receive an sms from our bank or credit card with a security code to complete a transaction. Hopefully this will work!
Not many photos this week but hopefully my next blog will be full of fabulous shots of blue seas and glorious landscapes!
A full lockdown began in Turkey on 29 April in an attempt to get Covid cases down before the tourist season begins in earnest. Tonight (Sunday 16 May) we have heard that restrictions will start to be lifted at 5 am tomorrow (Monday).
The aim of the full lockdown was to get cases to around 5,000 a day instead of the almost 62,000 reported on 21 April.
The vaccination program has been going well – on 21 April more than 12.5 million people had received at least their first dose (about 15.4 per cent of the population.)
Now, as we near the end of lockdown, cases have dropped to around 11,400 and over 14.8 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine (18.1 per cent of the population.)
Rather than stay out at anchor during lockdown we decided to go back to Finike Marina as we had various boat jobs to complete and appointments organised.
The lockdown rules said that we could only leave the marina to do food shopping and even then we were, strictly speaking, only allowed to walk to the nearest supermarket. It seemed that even a walk outside of the marina for the purpose of exercise was not allowed.
Fortunately the marina includes four jetties and a reasonably sized area where the offices, shower block and laundry are situated, so we have been able to walk around to get some exercise.
Behind our new mooring spot over near the sea wall the fencing is topped with razor wire so sometimes it feels a bit like we are in a prison exercise yard while we watch people stroll or power walk past to and fro in the mornings and evenings!
The rules around socialising are a bit vague and apply only to residents rather than those on a tourist visa. Basically there is a 24 hour a day curfew but of course, in the marina it appears that there is no expectation that even those with temporary residents cards should stay aboard 24 hours a day. This would be impossible to achieve anyway as we have to use the facilities at the toilet/shower block and visit the office for various reasons, for example to collect mail or parcels.
Some people have refrained from having other people aboard their boats and kept themselves to themselves during this time while others have mixed with others in a reasonably low key way.
It has been the holy month of Ramadan which ended with the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations on 12th May 2021.
This is a time of great joy and is normally marked with huge get togethers, feasting and the giving of gifts to children. The lockdown has meant that many family celebrations have been cancelled throughout Turkey but yesterday (Saturday) around 30 Turkish marina residents and some friends and family held a low key open-air Eid celebration in the community garden.
The past two weeks have gone by quickly. I have been joining two other ladies for a game of scrabble every afternoon and in the last week we have sometimes played a new (to me) game called Rummikub with friends from another catamaran instead.
Early morning yoga has also begun over the last week. I have to admit, arriving for a 7.30 am start has been a challenge for me but I can honestly say I feel so much better which has been a great incentive to get up in time to attend. Since it is probably against lockdown rules I won’t mention the name of the person who has been leading us but all the participants have really enjoyed the sessions and definitely feel the benefits!
In between the yoga and the games sessions, there have been plenty of other things to occupy our time.
Jonathan has done some maintenance such as greasing the anchor windlass, removing and renewing sealant in various spots and other jobs. We have put all our winter clothes away because the weather is now deliciously warm (but not too hot!)
I have been trying out more new recipes and we have both been studying a language on-line ( Jonathan French and me Turkish).
One of the ladies on the dock we were on previously was writing an article for a Turkish yachting magazine and so one day all the occupants from the boats on her dock gathered for a photograph to be taken.
I have continued to take photos of things I see on my walks round the marina that catch my eye – beautiful flowers, yachts named after birds or animals, etc.
One night we had a wonderful birthday celebration for one of our fellow yachties and another evening we had a pizza and film night.
Last weekend was Mother’s Day (a different day to the UK) and I was was wonderfully surprised to receive to big bouquets of flowers and lovely messages from my two beautiful children.
Lockdown has whizzed by and hopefully we will be out of the marina and back at anchor very soon. Unfortunately we have to wait for an oil seal to be delivered for our electronic gangplank (passarelle), a pressure washer that has got stuck somewhere due to the lockdown to be delivered, a credit card and our residency cards that also should have been delivered and for me to be registered to go in the queue for a Covid vaccination (Jonathan is now registered but there’s been a slight complication with mine.)
Hopefully all these items will be ticked off the list quickly so we can once again drop the lines and start enjoying sailing and dropping the anchor in gorgeous spots on the wonderful coast of Turkey.
This week we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on board our very comfortable Lagoon 420 catamaran in Finike Marina, Turkey.
Such a contrast to our tiny (28 foot) traditional cutter rig timber cruising yacht on which we spent our first wedding anniversary in 1987 in Ballina, New South Wales, Australia!
Although there wasn’t room to swing a cat in our little boat we loved it and had some great adventures in her in the Coral Sea, the highlight of which was an extended visit to Papua New Guinea.
In the intervening years we have had some wonderful anniversaries in fabulous places but it was particularly special to be celebrating our 35th on board once again.
Due to Covid lockdown restrictions we couldn’t go out to celebrate so we did the next best thing and ordered a lovely home delivery meal of fresh grilled fish, chips and salad (a loaf of bread came with it too!) – washed down by a very pleasant Turkish wine of course.
Talking of food, we have discovered that the fruit and vegetable shop we found on our first visit to Finike in August last year, not only delivers to the marina but also can buy herbs and other produce not normally found at the local market and shops.
This week he gave me a “menu” of goodies he could procure at the wholesale market in Marmaris and we ordered lots of fresh herbs, some fennel and “American” style capsicums, as well as some of the other “normal” fruit and vegetables.
We have been in Finike for over a month now and have been itching to get out and about and swing at anchor for a while. John and Sue on the catamaran Catabella felt the same way so we planned a short to trip to an idyllic little bay north of Finike called Çineviz Limani.
The day before our departure we heard that Turkey was going into a full lockdown for 17 days in an attempt to decrease the number of Covid cases before the summer season begins. This meant we had to go out for the whole lockdown or for only two days.
Sadly we had appointments and various bits of work scheduled in the following couple of weeks so we had to choose the two-day option.
Leaving the marina at Finike is very simple as one of the marina workers comes alongside in a dinghy to assist you and instruct you if necessary.
As we slid through the water on our way out we passed S/V Catabella as Sue and John dropped their lines.
What a great feeling it was as we motored out of the marina! It was a sparking morning with scarcely a ripple to disturb the glassy surface of the water.
We headed out as far as the fish farm just a short way off shore and then turned north for the four hour trip.
Unfortunately the sail we were looking forward to didn’t eventuate as there was just no wind at all although about an hour before journey’s end we did roll out our foresail hoping to catch the few breaths that had begun to whisper across the water but had to give up and roll it back in fairly quickly.
The coastline in this part of Turkey is rugged, wild and imposing and we enjoyed spotting the many caves in the limestone cliffs – lots of places for pirates to hide!
As we approached Çavuş Burnu to start the approach to our anchorage – Çınevız Limanı we had spectacular views of Mt Olympos (Tahtalı Dağı).
We were fortunate to have such a clear view of the whole mountain as apparently the peak is often covered by clouds, particularly in summer.
After we had settled John and Sue came over for gin and tonics and fish cooked on the barbecue. Lovely!
We couldn’t have been happier with our anchorage. Sunday and Catabella were the only yachts there, the sea was calm, there was no swell, the scenery was fabulous with awe inspiring cliffs dropping sheer into the sea. Bliss!
That night I looked for the full moon – it had been so bright the previous night in the marina but in the dark anchorage it was even more magnificent – a great silver orb reflecting like a lantern on the stillness of the calm seas surrounding us.
This is what you miss staying in a marina – the magic spun by being on your own in an isolated spot where you can feel that the moon is shining just for you!
The following day, after a relaxed start we took our dinghies over to Cirali Limani, the beach where the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Olympos can be found – about two nautical miles from where we were anchored.
Both the guidebook and the sailing pilot were rather lukewarm about the ruins of Olympos (established around the 4th Century BC) saying they were “much overgrown and in a ruinous state” but we were absolutely enchanted!
Yes, the ruins were set amongst overgrown trees but that really added to its charm.
It reminded me a bit of Angkor Wat in Cambodia – a little mysterious and with an atmosphere that made you feel that you might walk along a passage or turn a corner and suddenly find yourself in another time with people in strange clothes and speaking a completely different language.