It was such a relief to wake up on our catamaran Sunday and realise that we were safely in Turkey and had nothing pressing to do, nowhere we had to be – and yet free to travel virtually anywhere up and down the coast!
After being locked down in Athens for almost three months because of Covid 19, then being told we had to leave Greece when we tried to extend our time there, and having to rush through the islands to avoid fines for overstaying, we ended up actually feeling relieved that we had escaped the clutches of Greek bureaucracy.
We woke up that first morning in Turkey really luxuriating in the feeling that we could just take our time to relax and recuperate from the relentless schedule of the last few weeks.
However, there’s no peace for the wicked! On our first morning while I caught up with a few jobs on board, Capt’n Birdseye took up a kind offer from Ryan (from the OTHER yacht named Sunday!) To take the dinghies from İçmeler where we were anchored, to Marmaris, so Ryan could show him the area in which all the engineering shops, suppliers of “boat bits” etc were situated.
Jonathan came back very happy as he was able to buy a bunch of stainless steel shackles for the equivalent of seven Australian dollars! Ryan also showed him a good place to eat where he had a doner kebab, chips and a drink for only three dollars. Excellent value!
Later that day we met Ryan’s other half, the delightful Canadian born but now Australian resident, Brittni, and the lovely crews of Salacia Star and Coastline.
These three boats had met enroute to Turkey and had spent lockdown together going through lots of adventures with many ups and downs. Look out for them on Facebook and YouTube!
We also had a great catch up with our old pal Phil Shand from Paseafique who we first met five years ago on the Sail to Indonesia rally and who we had last seen with his wife Lesley (who is stuck in Melbourne due to Covid 19) in Thailand, over two years ago.
After dinner that evening we had a surprise delivery of choc ices dropped off by Brian from Coastline. Such a thoughtful gift!
The next few days passed in a blur of making water, socialising and some rest and relaxation.
One day we took our dinghy up one of the two canals that run perpendicular to the beach at İçmeler. It was such a pretty ride and we easily found somewhere to tie up the dinghy before having a meander on foot around the area.
Walking down a side street we saw a lovely looking cafe/bar with lots of cool greenery around it.
I don’t think it was really open but the owner, a well travelled and erudite Turkish man in his 60s, called Özer, welcomed us in anyway.
He kindly refreshed us with some water melon that he had just received from a friend who had grown it in his garden. Delicious!
Over a beer we chatted and heard Özer’s tales of working as an engineer in the oil industry in many different countries over the years and about his time living in Canada.
The guys from the three Aussie/Kiwi boats had highly recommended the massive “English” breakfast served very cheaply at a cafe called – rather incongruously -“Florida”. Quite by chance we stumbled on Florida and Jonathan was persuaded in by the mention of fish and chips!
We had a little speed wobble when the waiter took our temperature with a digital thermometer and found Jonathan’s was over 38 degrees! He wanted to send him to hospital! It took us a minute to realise Jonathan’s forehead was extra hot from wearing his hat pulled well down as we walked along! Another check – this time on his neck – returned a normal reading!
One of the downsides to being anchored close to a beach lined with hotels was that there were a number of speed boats whizzing around in the anchorage, many of them towing scaring looking “rides”.
Some of the operators seemed to delight in heading straight for one of the anchored yachts at high speed and only veering away at the very last moment. I was terrified that one of the rides was going to end up slamming into the boat – thankfully that didn’t happen while we were there.
After the very welcome rest and some reprovisioning (so much cheaper than Greece!) we decided to head over to take a proper look at Marmaris and to meet up with some more people we had met first on the Sail to Indonesia rally, Bill and Natalia from Island Bound.
Over a good long coffee catch up Natalia offered to show me a really excellent handmade shoe shop while Bill took Jonathan to register for what used to be called a “Blue Card” but was now just a piece of paper with a barcode.
This is a necessary bit of kit when staying in Turkey as it is used to record the dates and amounts of “black water” that has been pumped from your holding tank(s). You can empty your tanks if you travel several kilometres out to sea ( and your log verifies this) but apparently you can get fined for not having them emptied frequently enough at pump out stations.
Marmaris is quite a charming town with a pleasant old quarter, a castle and a very modern seafront with some engaging sculptures and a really nice vibe.
Bill and Natalia took us to a wonderful restaurant down a side street – how they discovered it I don’t know! Our waiter suggested some dishes and brought us a delicious meze to share before our main courses arrived.
After a few days in Marmaris we were sufficiently recovered from our dash through the Greek islands and decided we would set off to explore the wonderful sailing grounds of Turkey.
Before we left we decided to fill up with diesel and have our first “pump out”. The guy at the fuel station in Netsel Marina told Jonathan to “arrive around 9 – 9.30” and we arrived a few minutes after 9.30.
There was one boat before us that we had seen tie up about ten minutes earlier. We thought that he would be another ten minutes tops but an hour later we were still waiting!
Eventually, we were able to go alongside and after calling out for several minutes, someone came to catch our lines. It took us almost an hour to fill up with diesel, fill our jerry cans with petrol for our outboard and have our tanks pumped out. The attendant wandered around very, very slowly until a big motor yacht came in and suddenly he was buzzing around it being Mr Efficient!
Eventually, we pulled out of Marmaris, heading south towards a new chapter of our cruising life.