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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.