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.
Definitely a place that sent a few delicious shivers up my spine!
We wandered away from this overgrown and mystical part of ancient Olympos and found ourselves in a paddock full of glorious spring flowers including a mass of vibrant red poppies.
Soon we were amazed to find that we had entered another part of the city – just as intriguing but with a completely different atmosphere.
Here were Roman temples, early Christian Churches and a Bishop’s palace.
All the buildings were in a poor state of repair but the presence of a large crane gave us hope that restoration work was in progress.
The remains of the Roman Temple, such as they were, still enabled us to imagine the grandeur of the front facade of the Roman temple. Built in the first half of the second Century AD, to honour Emperor Hadrian, the temple had an impressive facade made out of cut stone blocks.
After a lovely wander through the ruins we found a small restaurant open only for “takeaways” (due to Covid restrictions) but who allowed us to sit in their garden while they prepared some delicious gozleme for our lunch.
We arrived back to our respective boats and had a couple of hours of relaxation in the beautiful surroundings before a sumptuous roast dinner on Catabella.
We would have loved to stay longer and explore Olympos a little bit more and also try and find the Chimaera at the other end of the beach that we had motored to on our dinghies. The Chimaera consists of two outcrops of volcanic rock where escaping natural gas is permanently alight. Homer described this phenomenon as “a fire breathing monster part lion, part goat and part snake”. I really want to see that!
Alas, lockdown was starting at 6 pm and we had to get back in time to collect the dress, long pants and shorts I was having made by the local dressmaker from fabric I had picked up at the market for less than 10 Australia dollars.
Adalet, the dressmaker, had rustled these up in just a couple of days and we were anxious to pay for them before lockdown as she wouldn’t be earning much, if anything, during the 17 days when everyone was having to stay home.
The journey back to Finike was once again gorgeous with calm seas, no wind and no swell.
The peak of the majestic Mt Olympos was still visible but the lower slopes were encased in a circle of low thick cloud – very atmospheric and a sight that will remain in our memories.
We arrived in good time to go to the dressmakers and stock up on wine (supermarkets are not allowed to sell alcohol during lockdowns) and be back in time for “pre-lockdown drinks” on C-arm with some of our yachting compatriots.
It was so great to get away – even though it was only for two days – as we felt thoroughly rejuvenated and ready to face lockdown with reasonable equanimity.