Our last task before leaving the Greek island of Kos to make our way to Turkey was to hand in our transit log at the Customs department.
We were not looking forward to this as the last two visits had been excruciating but we gritted our teeth and walked in with our documentation which had already been stamped by the port police the day before.
Thankfully the officious Mr Shouty, as we had dubbed him, who had whipped up an atmosphere of confrontation, intimidation and uncertainty, wasn’t there. Instead, Maria who had interviewed us on our previous visits and the other young lady who had also spoken to us, both came out to see us.
This time they were all smiles and perfectly charming, telling us about their planned trips to Australia and wishing us well
They apologised for what we had been through and told us that we had been “caught in the middle”. Caught in the middle of what, we wondered. Mr Shouty getting one over on his colleagues in Athens who gave us a longer transit log than was required? Or Mr Shouty’s misguided ambitions to try and get money out of us? Who knows.
Anyway Jonathan told them that they were the future of Greece – bright, educated, computer literate and with fantastic English skills.
“Your boss is a dinosaur,” he said (giggles from the two young women). “He can’t use computers, he can’t speak an official language of the EU, and he treats his female colleagues appallingly by yelling out commands while they were talking to clients (us!)”.
We were on a roll now!
“If Mr Shouty worked anywhere else in the EU or Australia come to that, he would be sacked for the way he speaks to you,” I chimed in.
Sadly in Greece, it is almost impossible to be sacked from public service jobs which explains a lot about the crumbling bureaucracy dominated by older people (mostly men) who often don’t have the necessary up-to-date skills to successfully run their departments.
It felt good to have had the chance to say that and judging by their smiles, they didn’t disagree.
We felt so relieved that finally we could leave Greece unimpeded but sad that our memories of the island of Kos would for ever more be tainted by the treatment of the authorities there. We still love Greece though!
The following morning we headed for our last Greek island of this trip – Symi, where we were going to rest for the night before heading to Marmaris in Turkey.
We had a fantastic sail there bowling along with the wind behind us under headsail only. We were going over 7 knots so we were glad we hadn’t raised the mainsail.
We entered the lovely, enclosed, Panormitis Bay, around 4 pm and as we were the only yacht there we could drop our anchor in the very best spot.
Once settled we dropped the dinghy and motored in and tied up right in front of the Venetian style monastery (restored in 1783) which boasts the highest baroque bell tower in the world.
The monastery is dedicated to the Archangel Michael who, we learnt, is the protector of mariners so it felt very appropriate that we should visit this tranquil place as live-aboard cruisers.
The monastery chapel had some amazing artifacts, including a collection of massive chandeliers and an impressive silver icon of the Archangel Michael.
After a walk round the monastery we strolled along the water’s edge enjoying the peace which was only broken by the gentle bleating of goats and the tinkling of the bells round their necks.
The following day we were up and off early as we had been advised by our agent to arrive in Marmaris, in Turkey where we were checking in, by 2 pm to allow time for all the checks etc.
Soon we were delighted to have crossed the border into Turkey! We arrived in Marmaris in good time and managed to locate the customs dock with no problem.
On the way there we messaged our agent to let him know our ETA and received a message to say he would unable to be there at 2 pm (despite the fact that was the time he had suggested) and his brother would come instead.
We were tied up by a couple of customs guys who were intrigued by our flag. They asked where we were from and we told them the boat was registered in New Zealand. “Aah” they said and then went back to other duties. After a couple of minutes they came back and asked again where the flag was from.
“New Zealand – you know, in the same region as Australia “ we said. “Aah yes Australia” they said happy to have identified at least roughly where we hailed from.
At 2 pm a woman came up and handed us latex gloves and masks which we duly put on. She gave us some paperwork to fill in which we were a little puzzled about as our agent had already sent us paperwork which we had filled out and returned.
We were unsure who she was as her English was very minimal and our Turkish non- existent. Eventually we gathered she was there on behalf of her husband who was our agent’s brother.
She asked for our passports and ship’s papers as she would take them to Customs and Immigration for us. In the meantime Jonathan was inside battling with the health form as some of the questions were quite confusing to say the least (correct meaning lost in translation!)
The quarantine official took our temperatures (we had to lean over the side for this as our feet were not allowed to touch the ground until we had passed the temperature test.)
Soon after, our agent’s brother’s wife with very little English returned and said “All done but port police at the marina, I take your papers there”.
At this Jonathan told her very firmly that our papers were to be returned to us and that we wouldn’t be leaving the customs dock until we received them. There was no way that we were letting our passports and ship’s equivalent leave without us!
What if our agent’s brother’s wife with very little English wasn’t who we thought she was? What if she went missing with our passports and ship’s papers?
By this time the weather was blowing up and we didn’t really fancy trying to dock our new-to-us boat in high winds when we still felt such novices. Anyway, we didn’t really want to go into a marina when there were several really good anchorages close by.
Also, as customs and immigration were done, there was no need for her to hang on to our passports so where were they? Oh, they were in her pocket.
So our agent’s brother’s wife handed them over and called someone – our agent? – and then she disappeared. Ten minutes afterwards she returned with our transit log and our ship’s papers and we were free to go – once we had paid our bill.
We did a quick search of the pilot and decided to make for a comfortable looking anchorage in the tourist resort of İçmeler across the other side of the vast Mamaris harbour.
It was about 5pm by the time we arrived and as we approached the anchorage we were amazed and very happy to see that there were three boats already anchored there – and they were all Aussi or Kiwi boats! The most incredible coincidence was that one of them was the OTHER Sunday – registered in Australia with video bloggers Ryan and Brittni and their dog Jackson and rescue cat Finn on board.
Ryan popped by to say hello and later came aboard for a drink that first night. We were amazed to meet him on our first night in Turkey!
Our Corona lockdown buddies in Athens – Silke and Tim from Polykandros – had mentioned the OTHER Sundays to us. They had watched some of the sailing videos Ryan and Brittni had produced and then had been chatting to each other on-line.
It’s a small world but no more so than when it comes to the cruising community!