Our adventure travelling north from Didim to Istanbul had been pretty uneventful so far but that was to change.
On our second night we anchored at Port St Paul, a quiet inlet purported to be the spot that was chosen to rest the oarsmen propelling St Paul towards Ephesus.
The main anchorage was crowded so we tried a couple of small inlets and decided to anchor in the second, Port St Nikolai, where we had a good but slightly swelly night, lit by a glorious full moon.
The following day we headed for the bustling tourist town of Kuşadası – on the way sailing very close to Greece as we transversed the narrow strait between the island of Samos on the Greek side and Cam Daği on the Turkish mainland. The strait is less than a mile across at the narrowest part. We had to pay close attention so as not to stray into Greek waters!
As we approached Kuşadası we could see a number of massive cruise boats in the harbour.
Rather than stopping anywhere near those monstrously sized vessels, we decided to anchor in the shadow of the picturesque Byzantine fortress.
The bay where we anchored was close enough to town to walk in and also very handy to get to the castle for a visit so we felt very happy with the location.
Later we strolled into town with the crew from Catabella and stopped first to have a look at the caravanserai, built in 1618. Here travellers, along with their camels, donkeys and mules could safely stay – protected from pirates and other vagabonds – to rest and recuperate from their long journey.
On the roof, there is apparently a wide aisle behind the battlement and merlons designed specifically to enable the pouring of hot oil on any intruder or invader!
We had an annoying and upsetting incident in Kuşadası when buying ice creams. The guy did the usual amusing performance that Turkish ice cream sellers are famous for, using sleight of hand to make your ice cream disappear just when you thought you had it firmly in your hand.
His next trick was not such fun – he charged 300 Turkish Lira – the equivalent of $25 Australian (16.5 EUR) for three ice creams. We knew it should be more like 30 lira per ice cream and were left feeling very unhappy about being exploited. In the end, Sue managed to get 200 TL back but the whole situation – our first ever such experience in Turkey – left us a bad lasting impression of Kuşadası.
After a wander round the town we returned to our boats only to find the most awful and uncomfortable swell had built up in our anchorage.
It was really extremely, glass-crashingly, crockery rattlingly, uncomfortable so we decided to move round to the town anchorage but it was really bad there too.
It was only 6.15pm and sunset wasn’t until at least 8.30 pm so Jonathan and I decided to make a dash for Çam Limanı just 12.5 nautical miles away. In the meantime Sue and John and Raylee, their guest, made an escape to the marina.
On our way to Çam Limanı the cross swell was really messy and combined with the strong wind right on our nose, made for an uncomfortable and jarring trip.
We just sat tight on the skippers seat and waited for it to be over. About two-thirds of the way through, however, Capt’n Birdseye went down below and discovered to his horror that the portside forward cabin was awash with sea water! It only took a nanosecond to discover the reason for the inundation – the large window had popped out and completely disappeared into the depths of the sea! Suddenly our trip ceased to be uneventful!
Feeling grateful that we weren’t on a long passage in the middle of an ocean, we pressed on, relieved that the pumps in the bilge were going for gold and that the swell wasn’t increasing.
It was almost dark by the time we arrived at the small sheltered cove in the western side of the bay. There were two gulets (traditionally built vessels used nowadays for tourism) that had lines ashore making it difficult to find a spot where we could swing freely without the danger of hitting a rocky reef if the wind changed.
After a couple of futile attempts at anchoring safely we eventually dropped our anchor a little further out and settled down for the night – all fine, just minus a window!
The following day the ever resourceful Capt’n Birdseye set about making a temporary repair using a piece of trim made of marine ply from under the window which he flipped upside down, and a shelf we no longer used which he cut up and used for strengthening. He then sealed the repair inside and out with lashings of Sikaflex (a marine version of bathroom sealant) and it was better than new!
To avoid future disaster he checked the rest of the windows and found that the one in the rear cabin of the starboard hull was also on its way to leaving the hull – so more sikiflex to the rescue!
We thanked our lucky stars that he didn’t have to do any window repairs while we were on the move!
That afternoon we decided to move around the bay to the anchorage in front of the small village so we could go ashore later with the crew of Catabella, who were on their way from Kusadasi marina.
Soon after the Catabella crew had arrived we had a pleasant stroll along the seafront, admiring the sculptures of various musicians along the way and ended the day with a lovely meal in a beachside cafe.