Tragic tales of dead dogs, and the demise of democracy; sunnier stories of socialising with siblings

Due to the high level of traffic and the strong and variable currents along the Bosphorus Strait sailing yachts are obliged to use their engines when they travel on this internationally significant waterway.

Using your sails on the Bosphorus is not allowed due to the high level of
traffic and strong currents

For the most part the marine traffic is very well behaved – especially the cargo boats that sweep up and down this important narrow body of water that links the Black Sea and the Aegean. However, there are scores of ferry boats, tourist boats and fishing vessels dashing back and forth the strait which kept us on our toes!

Marine traffic on the Bosphorus is generally very well behaved
Little ferries like these keep you on your toes
Then there are the fishing boats to
watch out for

On our way back towards the Princes’ Islands we motored down the Asian side of the strait and were amazed at the impressive and imposing waterfront mansions.

We were amazed at the number of impressive mansions on the shores of the Bosphorus
Many of them were shuttered up but this one looked as though someone was home
These ones had their boats moored outside

Once in the Princes’ Islands we decided to take a quick look at tiny Sivriada Island which is uninhabited but is used by fishermen for shelter. The island’s little harbour was actually even smaller than we thought it would be and there wasn’t room to anchor in there. We could have tied up to a very rough sea wall but with the winds blowing us onto it there was the risk of damage to our topsides.

We could have tied up to this rough sea wall

The main reason we didn’t stop there and probably would never go back was because of the dreadful atmosphere emanating from the island. Whether it was just in my head because I knew of the terrible and dark events of 1911 or if it was the waves of terror and suffering still rippling through the atmosphere, I don’t know, but I felt full of foreboding and distinctly uncomfortable while we were there.

There was a dreadful atmosphere at this island

So what happened in 1911 I hear you ask? Well the Governor of Istanbul decided to fix the stray dog problem by rounding them up and exiling them to Sivriada without any care for what happened to them. It is believed that at least 80,000 dogs tragically suffered this cruel ordeal, many dying from thirst and starvation on this tiny barren island. Others drowned while trying to escape the island.

It is believed that at least 80,000 dogs tragically suffered when exiled to this island

Soon after this forced mass exodus a severe earthquake caused great damage to the island and locals put this down to a punishment for abandoning the dogs. The surviving animals were returned once more to live life on the streets of Istanbul. To this day the jagged scar left by the earthquake can be seen and serves as a reminder to treat all animals with kindness.

The jagged scar left by the earthquake serves as a reminder to treat all animals with kindness.

On the way back to our favourite anchorage on Heybeliada we had a look at another island that we hadn’t got to know yet – Assıada, officially renamed Democracy and Freedom Island in 2013 to commemorate the 1960 military coup which is now regarded in Turkey as a shameful episode in its history.

Assıada was officially renamed Democracy and Freedom Island in 2013
The new name commemorates
the 1960 military coup

The island was used to imprison members of the ruling Democrat Party and at trials held on the island several members of the ousted government were sentenced to death, including the Prime Minister, Adnan Menderes.

We were surprised to see so many people on this cantilevered viewing deck

In 2013 Assıada was renamed Democracy and Freedom Island in order “to eradicate the negative associations attached to the name ‘Yassıada’ after the 1960 trials.”

This island now features a museum, a convention centre, a hotel and a mosque
The remains of what seems to be
a crusader castle

A few days after our trip up the Bosphorus we were very happy to welcome my brother, his wife and their two adult offspring for a week’s stay on Sunday – their first family holiday since Covid.

So great to be together again!
My lovely niece and nephew
Ahoy sailor!
My brother having a go (successfully!) at shooting out balloons on the Tuzla seafront
Mama puss and her kittens in one of the many cat hotels along the seafront in Tuzla

We had a wonderful time together, sailing, eating, drinking, hiking, lots of talking and taking another great trip down the Bosphorus to view Turkey from the water.

We had a wonderful time sailing ….
….and hiking. We found this swing on the way to the small town of Halki on Heybeliada
A classic Rum evi, or Greek-style
house in Halki
Quick selfie at the cake shop
We walked there and got a three wheeler electric “taxi” back. There are no motor vehicles allowed on Heybeliada except for fire, police and council vehicles
A drink at the small cafe close to where we were anchored
My nephew enjoying the sea air
Plying our way along the Bosphorus
Viewing Istanbul by boat is a great way to see this wonderful city
The Grand Çamlıca Mosque seen from
the Golden Horn
The captivating Blue Mosque
Remains of the ancient city wall built between the 4th and 5th Centuries
An enormous Turkish flag seen on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait
A naval supply ship reminds us of the
war not too far away

A couple of days before their stay was drawing to a close, my sister Sarah and her husband Martin arrived in Turkey and we had a lovely weekend all together- starting with a great dinner at one of Tuzla’s wonderful meze restaurants.

A great family meal in Tuzla

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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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