Consternation created by Coastguard’s visit

While we were staying in Erdek, a holiday town on the Sea of Marmara, we were paid a visit by the local Coastguards.

Anchored at Erdek

As per normal they wanted to see our passports, check our visa status and examine our boat papers, including information on when our black water tanks had last been pumped out. Fortunately all was fine in that department.

The view from Sunday towards the
restaurant and beach club

One of the key documents we have to have in Turkey is our transit log – it’s really the boat’s passport. To our utter amazement and consternation the Coastguard told us that the transit log ran out the very next day! They seemed very nonchalant and unconcerned by this but we knew that it was a very serious situation and needed to be remedied straight away. Big fines apply if your transit log isn’t current!

The transit log is equivalent to a boat’s passport

Jonathan immediately swung into action and jumped into the dinghy with the necessary documentation and then on to catch a taxi to a larger town – the port of Bandırma – where there were Customs and Immigration offices.

The taxi route to Bandırma

After much to-ing and fro-ing between various offices he paid the dues and all that remained to be done was to obtain a stamp from the Harbour Master at Erdek. So the next morning he was up with the lark and arrived bright and early at Harbour Master’s office and duly had the paperwork stamped.

While Jonathan was at the Harbour Master’s I was stocking up at the local market

He hadn’t been back on board long when he received an urgent email from the Custom’s Office in Bandırma, asking him to return to the office as they had filled in the forms incorrectly and needed to do them again. So another taxi into Bandırma and another round of to-ing and fro-ing between offices and much drinking of çay (Turkish tea) and the transit log was redone. This time the young guy from customs who spoke good English insisted that Jonathan should travel the 20 kms back to Erdek by government car.

The town of Bandırma

We thought the process was finally over but wait, there’s more! Later that day Jonathan received another summons – the forms were still not right! Arghh! So off he went again for the third time – by this time everyone knew who he was and even the security guards at the government offices waved him straight through.

It appeared that yachts were relatively rare visitors to Bandırma and the authorities there really hadn’t any idea how to fill out a yacht transit log. However, they were very kind and generous in trying to get our papers sorted so we remained “legal” when they could have ignored Jonathan and told us we should go to Istanbul, where no doubt we would have been fined for out of date paperwork.

Jonathan and the Deputy Director of
Customs and Immigration in Bandırma

The Deputy Director of Customs and Immigration had become personally involved and was genuinely fascinated that we lived on a boat. He insisted that Jonathan should pose for a “selfie” with him and gave him his personal contact details in case he should need help of any sort. We hope that won’t be necessary but feel very grateful for the warm treatment we received by Turkish bureaucrats in Bandırma.

In the meantime, our boat guest, Jonathan’s brother Jack, had come down with a rotten chest cold and was “hibernating” in his cabin. Fortunately he tested negative for Covid but he was quite unwell for a few days.

Jack made a rare visit above decks but he was still feeling really awful

It was time to push on to Istanbul – Jonathan’s temporary residency and my visitor’s visa were both due to run out soon and we urgently needed to start the application process for a year’s temporary residency soon.

The view from the restaurant we went to on our last night. Sunday is in the
background on the left

We left Erdek on a rather cloudy day but the weather cleared up as the day wore on and we had a pleasant trip to our anchorage for the night – just outside a tiny fishing village called Çakilköy.

It was a cloudy day when we left Erdek
The tiny fishing village of Çakilköy.

This was absolutely the worst ever anchorage we have ever stayed in during our two plus years in Turkey – mainly due to the fact that the locals had used the sea as a rubbish tip. Quite literally! The view from our boat that evening was of the village’s waste. Our boat guest Jack commented that we took him to the best places! Needless to say we didn’t go ashore.

We have never see this before – rubbish from the village tipped over the cliff and into the sea

Our next stop – Armutlu – was a great deal better although en route we were called up by the custodians of the prison island of Imrali – even though we were many miles away – to tell us to change course. Very strange as we were moving away from the island at the time. We thought that the guards there were probably suffering from excruciating boredom or maybe training new recruits. Our responses were met with silence and we guessed that their English was probably as good as our Turkish!

Although we were many miles away we
were called up on the radio and
asked to change course
This was where we were in relation to the prison island – far enough away
you would have thought!

Anyway, we arrived in one piece at the little seaside town of Armutlu and anchored just outside the small town marina.

Armutlu marina – spot Sunday’s
and Catabella’s mast just outside

We had a wander round the small town and bought a few items at the local supermarket and ate delicious ice creams!

A good view of Sunday and Catabella
from the beach at Armutlu

That evening we watched dolphins play around the entrance to the marina and enjoyed the serenity of a beautiful calm evening.


On the move again the next day we knew that we were almost at journey’s end when we saw the multitudes of ships waiting to go into the Port of Istanbul to either offload their cargo or take on new cargo.

This mass of ships meant we were near our destination – Istanbul

Some of these great iron monsters were just sitting there without any anchors down – we guessed so that as soon as they received the call to go in they could move off quickly – so it felt a little fraught weaving our way through them knowing they could spring into life at any moment!

It felt a little fraught weaving our way through the huge number of cargo boats
Was this drifting our way?!
Hoping we weren’t too close for comfort (photo credit Sue Done Catabella)

We arrived in the Princes’ Archipelago – a cluster of nine islands just an hour’s ferry ride southeast of Istanbul – around lunchtime and decided to anchor at Heybeliada in a lovely sheltered lagoon.

Arriving in the Prince’s Archipelago
The island of Heybeliada

There were some boats anchored there but we were surprised there weren’t more due to the proximity to Istanbul. However, there was a beach club belting out tunes but after the last ferry departed peace was restored and we had a great evening.

There were some boats anchored in the lagoon but it didn’t seem too crowded
The ferry arrives to take the beach
club guests away

Apparently until 2020, apart from ambulances, fire tenders, police cars etc the only form of transport on the island was by horse-drawn carriage (phaeton). With increasing tourism and concern for the welfare of the horses, it was decided to make the change to electric vehicles.

The the only form of transport on the island used to be horse-drawn carriage

We left the island looking forward to spending more time there and exploring this little piece of paradise so close to the craziness of Istanbul.

We left the island looking forward to spending more time there
We couldn’t believe the size of Istanbul

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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