Fairyland full of good horses and fantastic frescoes

Cappadocia – famous for its spectacular “fairy chimneys”, hot air balloons and underground cities is also renowned for its beautiful horses.

Two of the beautiful Anatolian
horses in Cappadocia

It is said that the name Cappadocia stems from the Persian word meaning “Land of good horses” (the Persian Empire ruled Cappadocia from 547 BC until Alexander the Great conquered it in 332 BC).

If you arrive in Cappadocia by road, one of the first things you notice are the countless models of horses on roundabouts, median strips and along the side of the road – now you know why!

Just a couple of the model horses you see everywhere on the main roads of Cappadocia

Even today there are hundreds of beautiful horses in this region – many of them used for tourists to trek through the stunning landscapes.

There are many beautiful horses in this region

As we drove in towards Goreme we couldn’t help being bowled over by the beauty of the uniquely shaped rock formations that surrounded us.

We were once again bowled over by the beauty of the uniquely shaped rock formations

These strange looking and dramatic expanses of soft volcanic rock shaped by erosion into towers, cones, valleys, and caves rocks, took our breath away even though we had visited earlier in 2022 and seen “it all before”.

Camel rides for tourists

We were there with Jonathan’s brother and partner who had come to visit us in Turkey for two weeks. Unfortunately the weather on the coast was chilly with intermittent rain so we decided a road trip was a good alternative to a sailing trip!

A road trip was a good alternative to a sailing trip while the weather was cold and rainy

After we had settled in our accommodation we explored the delightful and magical village of Göreme which sits at the heart of a network of valleys filled with those astonishing rock formations.

The delightful and magical village of Göreme

As night fell, the place looked like a massive fairy land – especially with all the lights from the rooftop restaurants, shops and hotels sparkling in the clear air.

As night fell, the place looked like
a massive fairy land

A testi kebab was the best dinner choice – a mouthwatering casserole cooked for hours in a clay pot in a tandoor (clay oven). The seal is broken by using a small hammer to tap it open and as it breaks the most wonderful aroma wafts out of the clay pot – delicious!

Our “boat guest” going into dinner
A testi kebab – delicious!

The following day we spent some hours at the Göreme open air museum. We had wanted to go there last time we were in Cappadocia but thick snow and ice prevented us from driving along the steep and windy road to get there.

One of the rock formations in Göreme open air museum containing the remains
of a monastic community
Taken from outside one of the
cave monasteries – rooms with a view!
Another shot of the open air museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum has been a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.

There has been some fabulous restoration work, we weren’t allowed to photograph inside this church but the photo gives you an idea of the fantastic frescoes inside!
Amazing to think people lived and
worshiped in these caves
Some of the most frequently featured themes in the frescoes in the Goreme Open Air Museum
Such magnificent colours!
Each church was very individual and had a different style of frescoes
Some had been restored to their former glory
Others were still waiting to be worked on

The museum is made up of a large Christian monastic complex dating from 10th – 12th Century composed of eleven refectory monasteries scattered around the complex – each one in a cave and with its own fantastic church carved out from the rock. Beautiful colourful frescoes adorn the walls in many of the churches.

These frescoes were complex with
really strong colours
Other frescoes were much more simple and probably much earlier
The view from one of the cave churches
This one looked very old
An opportunity to sit down and relax

Later that day we went to “Love Valley” which isn’t far from Göreme. This was another place we tried to get to last time we were in Cappadocia but prevented from doing so by the snow.

How does Love Valley get its name?

Love Valley is home to hundreds of phallic rock pinacles – hence the valley’s name! These huge natural structures seem like some sort of ancient homage to male fertility. However, they are far from being man-made – they have developed over the Millenia from eroded volcanic stone.

Ahh! Now you get it
These little “love jugs” were tied to various trees. Each had a couple of names on it – a declaration of love or a love charm?
Coffee time overlooking Love Valley

Later that afternoon we left our guests (who had unfortunately fallen ill with a nasty cold) to rest while we headed to the village of Uçhisar.

Situated on the edge of Göreme National Park Uçhisar is an ancient village built on an elevation and huddled around the base of a huge rock cone castle.

A view of Uçhisar castle from
the road to Göreme
The village is huddled under this
huge rock cone

The highest point of Cappadocia, the 60-metre-high ‘castle’ is in reality a maze of tunnels, passages, stairs and rooms carved out of the massive cone which from around the 7th Century AD was used to defend the region from attackers.

Rooms and passages are carved into the enormous rock cone

The glorious panoramic views would have ensured excellent early warning of any threats – you can see for ever across the surrounding countryside.

There are glorious views from the “castle”
You can see for ever across
the surrounding countryside
The amazing views views would have ensured excellent early warning of any threats

After our visit to Uçhisar we headed over to the other side of Göreme planning to explore the Rose Valley near the village of Çavuşin (which also boasts a cone “castle”.)

The “castle“ at Çavuşin

We arrived in Çavuşin in the late afternoon and followed a dirt road off the main square out of the village which led to a group of interesting rock formations that looked as though they could still be inhabited.

It looked like some of these rock formations could still be inhabited

We hopped out of the car and went to explore the caves that had caught our eye. The first one we entered was empty but definitely felt and looked like it had been someone’s home recently.

These were empty but they looked as if they had been inhabited until recently
No one at home here now
What a view but rather draughty!

Then we saw a notice that welcomed guests to step in and see a genuine cave house that was still lived in. Of course we went in! There was a central courtyard which contained a kitchen area with a tandoor (clay) oven buried underneath the stone floor.

The tandoor oven

Surrounding the courtyard were rooms going off on each side. One of these rooms was a reception/living room complete with long comfortable couches along the walls and a wood burning stove to keep the room warm and cosy on winter nights (which as we discovered on our previous visit are extremely chilly – we experienced minus 12 degrees one night).

The comfortable reception room

Other rooms included a nursery and various bedrooms. It was fascinating to see what it was like to live in a cave dwelling.

One of bedrooms in the cave dwelling

By the time we had finished chatting to the home owner who told us more about what living in a cave house is like, it was starting to get late.

Another of the cave rooms

Rose Valley would have to wait as it was time to travel back to Göreme to meet the others for dinner.

Dinner time!

Jungle noises and saffron wealth

My brother-in-law announced he had dreamt that he was in a jungle with lions and tigers roaring around him – when he woke up he was surprised to find he was actually aboard our catamaran at Viaport Marina in Tuzla, Istanbul.

It wasn’t his vivid imagination and love of wildlife that led him to have this dream however, – if you wake up in the early hours here, the roaring of big cats is genuinely something you can hear. The reason? Just 300 metres away from our boat is a Big Cat Park!

Lions and tigers roaring?!
The entrance to the Big Cat Park just metres away from our boat!

Aslan Park Tuzla, is the only “predatory cat park” in Turkey and is home to 30 different species including lions, tigers, leopards, black panthers, jaguars and a pair of rare Anatolian lynx. And at 6.30am they are all roaring – calling out for their breakfast!

I don’t normally like zoos but having done a bit of research I’m now quite keen to visit this park as it appears to be doing a good job of conserving a number of rare species, with a significant number of babies being born since its establishment in 2018. This includes a new baby White Lion – one of only 30 White Lions in the world.

A gorgeous white lion from the
Aslan Park Tuzla

My sister and brother-in-law (of the jungle dream) joined us aboard for just under a week and during their short stay we managed to pack in quite a lot of activities including a sailing trip to the Princes’ Islands, walking in Heybeliada and some delicious meals out.

Sunset in Viaport Marina
There were masses of jellyfish in the water around our boat until the weather changed

The weather was quite wild when we arrived at our favourite anchorage on Heybeliada in the Prince’s Islands – a fairly stiff wind was (very unusually) blowing straight into the “lagoon” and waves were crashing onto the shore and breaking over the jetty that we had recently discovered as a good place to moor the dinghy.

Waves were crashing over the normally very calm and peaceful jetty
Too wet to land here!

We had to find a different landing place and ended up on a tiny scrap of a beach in a more sheltered spot. From there we made our way through the trees up to the road and strolled into the Halki – the only town on the island.

Walking through the trees from our landing place to the road into town

It’s a very pleasant stroll with no cars to contend with as the only vehicles allowed on the island (apart from fire tenders, ambulances etc) are slow moving battery driven golf cart style vehicles.

It was a very pleasant stroll with lovely views!
Taking a rest on a handy bench

In town we had lunch in a leafy cafe by the water and later we took the battery powered dolmuş (share taxi) back to our anchorage.

The only remaining Byzantine church on the island, now in the grounds of
the Military High School
A lovely leafy lunch
What’s on the menu?

Early next morning I was enjoying an early morning cuppa when I became aware of a strange scraping sound coming from somewhere nearby. Intrigued I popped up on deck and saw the noise was coming from the beach – a man and a woman were raking over the stones in search of something – shells to sell? Shellfish to eat? Whatever they were looking for it looked like a gruelling task.

Early morning aboard Sunday
What was that scraping sound?
Back breaking work
Breakfast on board

Back in Tuzla on my sister and brother-in-law’s last night we revisited the fish restaurant that had been introduced to us by Turkish friends. Such fabulous food!

The ice cream seller on our way out to dinner
Strolling along the beachfront to dinner
The fish was amazing!
My sister and brother-in-law

A couple of days after my sister and brother-in-law returned to England Jonathan’s younger brother and his partner arrived on board.

Our next guests

This was the first time they had a holiday abroad since well before Covid began so they were hoping for some sunshine and swimming which sadly was not to be.

Champagne celebrations!

It was quite cool and a bit drizzly on their first day so we organised massages for them at a local hotel to get them in a holiday mood.

I was given a lovely çay (tea) while waiting for the massages to be over
I had some very pleasant company

On the way back we popped into the tiny museum dedicated to the Greek/Turkish population exchange in 1923.

Inside the tiny museum dedicated to the Greek/Turkish population exchange

There were paintings, maps and photographs of Turkish people arriving on boats from places like Thessaloniki where they had until the population exchange, had lived side by side with Greeks for generations.

Some of the old photos on display

Also on display were clothes and personal belongings dating from the era. Before we left, the owners insisted on taking photos of us outside the museum.

There were also various clothes dating from the 1920s on display
The proprietor took some photos of us

Being a devoted cat lover, Simon’s “better half” fell in love with all the street cats along the water front of Tuzla. Although none of the cats could be described as skinny she immediately bought some cat food to distribute!

Feeding the cats on the seafront
A model train runs up and down the seafront

The weather wasn’t expected to cheer up in the days immediately ahead so we decided to do a road trip to Cappadocia.

Last time Jonathan and I had visited Cappadocia it was winter and there was a really massive snow storm. We got snowed in and had to be pulled out of a drift and we were restricted to visiting places on the main roads that had been cleared. While it did look really pretty we were looking forward to seeing the sights without all that cold white stuff!

Last time we were in Cappadocia
we got snowed in!
It looked very pretty but the snow stopped us from seeing some of the sights

We decided to break our journey in Safranbolu – a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Black Sea region of Turkey.

In the old part of town which is situated in a deep ravine, there are many marvellous historic buildings including numerous old Ottoman mansion houses that have been converted into hotels, three caravanserai (ancient roadside inns where travellers and their animals could rest and recover from the day’s journey along trade routes) and numerous other historical buildings.

There are many marvellous historic buildings in Safranbolu

The reason there were so many mansions in Safranbolu was because it was a trading place for that most valuable of spices – saffron. Many merchants made their fortunes trading in this highly priced commodity.

Saffron is still grown in a village called Davutobası 22 kilometres east of Safranbolu. It has always been the world’s most expensive spice and today sells for Ana incredible US$5,000 or more per kilogram. No wonder this was such a wealthy area!

We arrived in Safranbolu at night

The town of Safranbolu is a little off the beaten track and the last part of the journey was on a very narrow, steep and winding road which we negotiated in the growing darkness before descending into the ravine in which the town sits.

We stayed the night in one of the old mansions and although it was perfectly comfortable and you could definitely see that at one time it would have been a very fine home, it had definitely seen better days!

The old mansion we stayed in
The hotel still had many of the old mansion’s original features like this intricate ceiling

We had eaten a big meal on the road so all we wanted was a wander round the town and a nightcap somewhere nice.

Wandering round the old town of
Safranbolu at night

Although there were plenty of cosy bars none of them served alcohol! We ended up having cold drinks and coffee in one of the caravanserai and were back in the hotel for an early night as we were leaving early the next day for Cappadocia.

There were plenty of cosy bars but they didn’t serve alcohol
Eventually we had coffee and soft drinks in the old caravanserai
The caravanserai was very empty
But the coffee was good and….
….very elegantly served
The ancient doors of the caravanserai-
keeping travellers safe

Spicy times in atmospheric market

The short visit my brother and his family had made to our catamaran Sunday, at Viaport Marina in Tuzla, Turkey, was rapidly drawing to a close but we had an excellent last day together seeing some of the sights that Istanbul has to offer before they flew back to England.

My brother and family in Tuzla

The day was made all the more special because my eldest sister and her husband had arrived the previous evening so they were able to join us for our sightseeing excursion.

My sister and husband deciding what
delicacy to buy

We took the metro in – a very cheap way to travel but quite slow on a very crowded train. However, once at Sirkeci station in the centre of Istanbul it was only a short walk to the wonderfully atmospheric Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Market).

A busker at Sirkeci station is assisted by one of Istanbul’s ubiquitous cats

The grand market buildings, constructed in 1664, have majestic domed ceilings and at each side there are stalls that extend much deeper than their narrow shopfronts would suggest.

The majestic domed ceilings of the Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Market)
My brother and his wife in the spice market

The colours and fragrances of all the spices on display were mesmerising but there were also many more gorgeous items on sale that heightened our senses and made our mouths water – wonderful floral teas; Turkish Delight in every flavour you can imagine; wonderful shimmering strips of colourful confectionery – often embedded with piercing green pistachio nuts; dried fruits such as apricots, figs, dates, strawberries and kiwis; honey and nut soaked baklava; olive oil soaps; brightly painted ceramics; fragrant Turkish coffee and much more besides. An absolute visual and olfactory feast!

The colours and fragrances of all the spices on display were mesmerising
There were also many more gorgeous
items on sale
The dried fruits such as apricots, figs, dates, strawberries and kiwis were so colourful
There were many wonderful floral teas
An absolute visual and olfactory feast!
Some stalls sold lovely ceramics
and colourful scarves
Beautiful ceramic plates on sale
The ancient door from which we exited
the Spice Market

From the spice market we walked a short way to the diminutive but fabulous Rustem Pasha Mosque which was completed in 1563.

The entrance to the diminutive but fabulous Rustem Pasha Mosque

This small mosque is lavishly decorated with the most beautiful traditional Iznic tiles in an array of colours – predominantly the traditional iridescent blues and turquoises.

This small mosque is lavishly decorated with the most beautiful traditional Iznic tiles
The tiles were in an array of colours – predominantly the traditional iridescent blues and turquoises
So many gorgeous tiles
So many complex patterns
The variety of colours and patterns
was incredible!

After a quick lunch of one of our Turkish favourites Balık Ekmek (fish sandwiches- delicious fresh fried fish served with salad between two halves of the scrumptious local bread) we strolled through the streets of Istanbul towards the old city district of Sultanahmet.

One of our Turkish favourites Balık Ekmek

We gazed in wonder at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, pondered whether to queue to see the Basilica Cistern (we didn’t, the queue was too long) and decided to go and have a look at the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Gazing in wonder at the Hagia Sophia
Above ground at the Basilica Cistern
This is what we missed at the Basilica Cistern
Walking the lanes of Istanbul

On the way we stopped in front of the Topakı Palace to take some photos and a very obliging local person offered to take one of all of us!

My family outside Topakı Palace

We spent some time wandering through this wonderful museum – Turkeys’s oldest – which has more than one million artefacts on display.

Turkey’s first museum – the Archaeological Museum

There was wealth of well preserved sculptures, pottery, art and jewelry – all beautifully displayed and arranged chronologically and by origin (Roman, Greek Ottoman, Byzantine).

There was wealth of well preserved sculptures….
…….ceramics……
…..jewellery (oh this diadem!)
These tiny gold dogs wouldn’t look out of place in a modern jewellery collection
More glorious gold!
Captivating settings

We hadn’t realised at first that there are three parts to the museum – the main building which we explored thoroughly, the Museum of the Ancient Orient (which we missed) and the Tiled Kiosk Museum which several of our group found and described it as an absolute highlight! Unfortunately Jonathan and I lingered too long in the main museum but we will be back!

I took this photo of the the Tiled Kiosk not knowing it was another part of the museum

It was getting late and there was packing to be done and a last dinner all together to enjoy so we all hopped on the metro again and headed back to our catamaran, “Sunday”.

Back on board – our last night all together!

What a wonderful week it had been with a lot of different activities packed in as well as plenty of relaxation and “catching up” with family!

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 ….
….eating….
….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

Reunited in Turkey and a trip down the Bosphorus

Almost 20 years ago our daughter Hannah met her great friend Crystie through the Australian Girls Choir (AGC). Hannah was in the brand-new Brisbane chapter and Crystie was from Sydney.

Over the years they travelled the world together with the AGC Performing Choir and stayed with each other in the holidays. In the intervening years they have met up in Australia and England and Crystie has visited Hannah once in India and twice in the Netherlands. Now they have reunited in Turkey!

Hannah and Crystie on tour with the AGC (Hannah, front row far left,
Crystie front row, third from the left)
Crystie and Hannah at Hannah’s 21st
Crystie’s visit to India when Hannah lived there
Crystie’s first visit to see Hannah
in the Netherlands

Hannah and her husband Pieter had paid us a surprise visit so we had taken them out to the Prince’s Islands for a few days. Coincidentally Crystie was also in Istanbul and was able to slip away for the day to join us aboard “Sunday”.

She caught the early morning ferry over to the island of Burgazada where we met her. After a coffee and pastry breakfast we motored back to Sunday on our dinghy and then pulled up the anchor and returned to our favourite spot in the “lagoon “ at Heybeliada.

Crystie’s ferry arriving from Istanbul
Old friends meet again
The Burgazada waterfront restaurants
early in the morning
Lovely fruit and vegetables on sale

The girls (and all of us!) had a lovely day together swimming, jumping off the boat, eating and talking. A fabulous day all round.

Woo hoo!

Just before sunset we pottered back round to the anchorage near the ferry terminal on Burgazada and Crystie left to take the ferry back to Istanbul.

The next day we travelled back to our home base of Viaport Marina as sadly Hannah and Pieter had to fly back to the Netherlands to prepare for their big trip to Central and South America, India and Australia.

Hannah and Pieter’s last night
Such a good week with Hannah and Pieter
Farewell dinner at the pub

Back in Viaport Marina we had some work to do – Jonathan set to the task of stopping the creaking and groaning in the forward cabin that made it sound as though we were on an old timber sailing ship – rather than a modern catamaran.

He discovered that the noise was caused by the plywood cabin partition becoming separated from the fibreglass deck and the two moving against each other when the sea was rough or when we were at anchor and there was a bit of a swell.

The big crack between the cabin partition and the fibreglass deck
After Jonathan had done the grinding

After much grinding out and filling with of one and a half kilos of two-pack epoxy, the join was much stronger and the noise had completely disappeared!

Jonathan just a touch dusty after all the grinding!

We have been constantly surprised and delighted by the amazing welcome we have received from the Turkish people during our time here, particularly from fellow sailors here at Viaport Marina. You couldn’t meet a friendlier or more helpful bunch of people.

One such friendship arose from a chance meeting Jonathan had with Izzet, in a local chandlery store. Izzet stepped in to translate when Jonathan was trying to buy some “boat bits” and since then has been a regular visitor on “Sunday”, sometimes bringing his lovely wife Ayşe and one or both his two sons (in their early twenties).

Izzet, John and Jonathan talking about boats
Jonathan, Izzet and Batuhan

We enjoyed a fabulous farewell dinner with the family at a wonderful nearby fish restaurant to send off Batuhan, the older son, just before he departed Turkey to travel to the USA to do his PhD. It was a fun night with wonderful food!

Batuhan’s farewell dinner
The desserts were delicious!

After a few days back in the marina we decided to head out again – this time to explore the Bosphorus Strait. We were keen to view Istanbul from the water and also to see the Black Sea with our own eyes.

We stayed the first night in the Princes’ islands and then set off the next day to fill up with fuel at Fenerbahçe Marina before heading up the Strait. When we got there we were told the fuel pumps weren’t working but if we wanted to wait they should be working in “ten minutes”. This was a Turkish ten minutes of course and more than thirty minutes later nothing had happened, and no one had arrived to fix the problem.

Anchored again in the Princes’ Islands
The fuel pumps weren’t working
at Fenerbahçe Marina

We had left the Princes’ Islands half an hour earlier than Catabella and had arranged to meet Sue and John outside Fenerbahçe Marina but when we heard we had to wait to fill up we suggested they go ahead and we’d meet later.

Çamlıca Tower the highest structure in Istanbul

We gave up waiting in the end and decided to try Atakoy Marina – way over on the European side of the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait.

By the time we had got there, filled the tanks and paid, it was too late to try and catch up with the others so we decided to anchor in the quiet little bay round the corner from the marina.

The next day we wove through an astonishing number of ships waiting at anchor before being loaded or unloaded.

There were an astonishing number of ships waiting at anchor
A few of the hundreds of ships at anchor

Close to land we saw a long line of service boats waiting to load the cargo ships with water, fuel and other supplies or take off their rubbish or black water.

There was a long line of service boats like this one waiting to load the cargo ships
Another bunker boat – this one supplied fuel to the massive cargo boats

Before too long we were right at the mouth of the Bosphorus and could see in the distance the striking and distinctive minarets of Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.

Our route along the Bosphorus
The striking and distinctive minarets of Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque

We could also see parts of the ancient sea walls that had protected the city over hundreds of years.

The Blue (Sultanahmet) Mosque taken from from the Bosphorus
A closer view of the Hagia Sofia

What a skyline! Soon we were passing the iconic 15th Century Topaki Palace, and then the famous Galata Tower. This really is the way to see Istanbul!

The Topaki Palace with part of the
ancient sea wall below
The famous Galata Tower

Round the corner, at the entrance to the Golden Horn, three enormous cruise ships dwarfed the city buildings, blotting out our wonderful view!

Three enormous cruise ships were tied up
The cruise ships blotted out the city buildings

While I can appreciate how much some people enjoy going on a cruise, I do find these monsters jarring when they are tied up in the middle of an ancient and beautiful city. Can’t they unload their passengers and then go and moor somewhere else?!

Can’t these monsters unload their passengers and then go and moor somewhere else?!

As we slowly made our way along on the European side of Istanbul we passed many beautiful buildings – venerable mosques, fabulous palaces, gorgeous mansions and luxurious looking hotels.

There were many beautiful mosques
Also many fabulous palaces to see
There were many gorgeous mansions

We went under the first of three bridges, spotted amazing turreted castles and admired the brightly coloured ferry boats moored along the side of the strait.

A lovely small mosque under the first bridge
The brightly coloured ferry boats moored along the side of the strait
Turrets from the European fortress peeping up
A full view of the impressive fortress

By late morning we had caught up with Sue and John at the anchorage where they had spent the night.

We finally caught up with Catabella
Sue and John waiting for us to arrive

Together we carried on along the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea, always alert to the massive cargo boats chugging their way to and from the Black Sea.

We were always alert to the massive cargo boats chugging their way to and
from the Black Sea

Travelling under the final bridge we nosed out of the Strait into the Black Sea – just to say we’d been there! Heading back we called in to the small port of Poyraz.

Our chart plotter showing Sunday nosing out into the Black Sea

Into the Black Sea – just for a moment
The small port of Poyraz

As there wasn’t really a suitable place to anchor we decided to motor back under the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and anchor in a small bay just a bit further along.

We motored back under the
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge

That night, there was a lovely full moon and the bridge was lit up in red which was a marvellous sight!

That night there was a lovely full moon
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge all lit up in red

Surprise, Surprise! Room for two more?!

Between us, the crews of Sunday and Catabella have had some wonderful surprises and some other lovely things happening just recently.

Sue and John – crew of Catabella

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves on the surprise front! The first happy event for Sue and John – and by default, for us too – was the arrival all the way from Australia of their grand daughter and her boyfriend who were at long last embarking on their delayed (due to Covid) post Year 12 overseas trip.

Sue with her granddaughter and granddaughter’s boyfriend

Istanbul was their first stop which was a great thrill for Sue and John. Only a few days later, their son Simon (based in England) and his two children arrived fresh off an epic sail – crewing on Sue and John’s youngest son’s (Andrew) yacht from Greece to Turkey.

Sue and John’s youngest granddaughter and me playing games at the dinner table

They disembarked at Çanakkale in the Dardanelles Strait and took a bus to Istanbul while the yacht travelled the last 150 nautical miles with two Australian friends of Andrew’s as crew.

We had been in the marina too long so it was a very happy day when we motored out of the marina heading for the Prince’s Islands with Catabella and her much enhanced crew.

Heading out of Viaport Marina
to the Princes’ Islands

We hadn’t been out more than a few minutes when John radioed us to say he was having trouble with one of his engines. Apparently the water intake was blocked with growth from the mega rich environment in our marina.

Oh no ! Engine trouble on Catabella

He was able to continue with one engine and made a repair when we arrived and anchored at the Princes’ Islands.

Our usual anchorage in the lagoon at Heybeliada was rather full (it was the weekend!) so we anchored for one night around the other side of the island.

The lagoon at Heybeliada was very full
We had to go and anchor round the
other side of the island

The next morning we had the first rainfall since we had arrived back on board in April! There was quite a storm with thunder and lightening alarmingly close.

A swim at long last!
Quite a storm approaching
Lots of rain with thunder and lightening alarmingly close.

Sue and John’s son and granddaughter had slept on board Sunday due to the large number of guests on Catabella and the weather was so bad that they couldn’t get back in the morning!

Sue and John’s son visits before the storm

To avoid disappointment about missing Poppa’s special breakfast I ended up having to make pancakes from scratch for the first time in many, many, years. Fortunately they got the thumbs up from our young guest and as she polished off the last one, the rain stopped and we were able to deliver the guests back to Catabella.

Later on that day we motored round to the lagoon on Heybeliada where we experienced the first of the surprises – Sue and John’s youngest son and his two crew suddenly arrived at our anchorage, having sailed Sea Pony overnight to arrive well before scheduled and at our lovely anchorage rather than the marina. What a reunion!

The first of our surprises! Sue and John’s youngest so arrives unexpectedly
Sea Pony arrives well before scheduled
Rafted up and time to celebrate!

Back at Viaport Marina the next day, the new arrivals on Sea Pony settled in on the same arm as Catabella and Sunday – almost opposite us in fact, where she will spend the winter.

Seapony moored Viaport Marina

The following day we all went out for a great meal together in a lovely Meze restaurant just back from the waterfront in Tuzla.

A lovely meal in Tuzla village

A chicken dish was ordered for the children and a huge portion arrived. Not wanting to waste it we took it home with us and the cats that live all along the seafront enjoyed a special dinner that night.

Feeding chicken to the local cats
What a feast!

You probably recall that we had (alarmingly) lost a window in some rough weather and that Jonathan had sourced a local manufacturer in Tuzla who was able to fabricate some for us at a vastly cheaper price than was offered by Lagoon, the company that built our boat. Well, after the windows were delivered Jonathan did an excellent job of installing the replacement for the one that fell out, using what seemed to me a very elaborate and complex series of different types of Sikaflex (flexible sealant). The other windows will be installed when we are pull Sunday out of the water before the start of next season.

Peeling the protective film off

A little later on, Evren, who organised the window fabrication, came to apply the tinted protection/sun proofing to the window. This amazing film allows us to see out but in the day time at least, people outside can’t see in. We tested this while it was being installed by waving and pulling faces inside. There was definitely no reaction from the guys outside who were standing on the dinghy while fixing it up!

Applying the tinted protection/sun proofing
We could see them but the couldn’t see us!

Now to the big surprise….

Sue and I had just finished a game of Scrabble one afternoon and we noticed she seemed to be hesitant about leaving. We offered her a gin and tonic which she accepted. Then she said “oh I have to go” and rushed off. The next minute John came over with a beer “to thank Jonathan for helping out this morning “.

Then Sue came back and told us that we were about to get a big surprise and before we could grill her about what it was, we heard a voice from behind our sunshades saying “Room for two more aboard?” and out stepped our daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter!

Room for two more? What
an amazing surprise!

What a wonderful and totally unexpected surprise it was! We couldn’t believe our eyes!

Ahhh hugs are so good !

We had hoped that they could come and visit but Hannah had looked at airfares and found them to be hugely expensive. However, apparently she had found a reasonable one which included going back to the Netherlands via Antalya in the southern Mediterranean region of Turkey and Copenhagen in Denmark!

It was so great to see Pieter and Hannah again!

After we had settled down (a little bit anyway) from the excitement we went for a stroll along the seafront and for an ice cream at the traditional Turkish ice cream seller nearby.

Buying ice cream at the
traditional Turkish seller nearby.

Buying ice cream in Turkey isn’t a simple affair of paying your money and receiving your cone – the sellers play all kind of tricks like handing you a cone with a flourish and with a sleight of hand whip it away leaving you holding an empty cone.

Buying ice cream in Turkey isn’t a simple affair of paying your money and receiving your cone
Expectant customers at the ice cream store

The following week went in a flash – we went bowling and shopped for cheap clothes for Hannah and Pieter’s forthcoming trip to Central and South America, in the shopping mall just outside the marina.

Pieter beating us all at bowling
Jonathan did quite well too!

We sailed over to the Prince’s Islands and anchored in the lovely lagoon at Heybeliada where we went swimming, hiked, feasted on wonderful fresh produce and played games.

On the way to Heybeliada
The water was lovely once you were in!
Hannah and Pieter enjoying a swim!
Jonathan showing off the new dinghy covers
Hiking along the road – golf carts only allowed!
Lovely view from the wooded track
Another beautiful view along the way
Hannah and Jonathan look out to sea
Breakfast feast!
A stop for a cold drink at a small stall
Feeding time for the local street cats
Looking down onto the lagoon anchorage

After a couple of days we moved on to nearby Burgazada where we anchored in the shadow of the rocky islet called Kaşıkadaşı (Spoon Island) and where Sue and John joined us.

On the way to Burgazada
Anchored off Kaşıkadaşı (Spoon Island)

That evening we enjoyed sundowners, and a lovely meal together in Burgazada at a lovely restaurant perched on a rocky outcrop. The views and the food were outstanding.

Perfect view – our boats anchored
in the distance!
Hannah and Pieter at the lovely restaurant
Sue and I at the restaurant

Immigration office, discoveries and being dinosaurs

While our boat guest, Jonathan’s brother Jack, had a few days stay in Istanbul to see the sights, we stayed on the boat and started the application process to extend our Turkish temporary residency visas.

Sunday moored at Viaport Marina

My tourist visa had almost run out and Jonathan’s three month extension of his temporary resident’s visa was also about to expire. The reason why we had different visas was that he had arrived in Turkey a few days ahead of me back in April when our year-long resident’s visas were still (only just) valid. He had to then renew his after his arrival in Turkey but was only allowed three months because our marina contract at Didim was about to run out.

Soon after we had applied on line (with the assistance of Attilla, our agent in Didim) we received a date for our interview which happened to be the day Jack was leaving Istanbul.

In the meantime there was of course, lots of boat jobs to do, one in particular that took up a fair amount of time for Jonathan – researching how to replace the window that had dropped out (https://saltytalesfrombalihai.com/2022/06/21/inundation-aboard-sunday-as-window-drops-out/)

The empty space where the window was!

He found out that to obtain one from the manufacturer of our boat, a Lagoon 420, would cost almost 1,000 Euros (excluding shipping ) around $1500 Australian and would have had to come from the Netherlands. That was for one window – and we wanted to replace all four of our large cabin windows!

Apart from the cost, we were aware that there could be a hefty import tax to pay on top of that. We had also heard that getting items through customs was difficult and there were often long delays. So it was decided that we should try and get one made locally.

Jonathan’s excellent temporary repair

Jonathan used the Lagoon Owner’s Facebook site to find out whether other people had experienced the same problem and if so, what their solutions had been.

Surprisingly and rather worryingly, it seems to be a regular issue with Lagoons and we discovered that it is advisable to have Lagoon windows reseated after ten years!

We decided to have all of ours replaced and after quite a bit of research Jonathan found someone locally who could manufacture our windows from 15 mm thick Plexiglas. We also received some great advice from the adhesive manufacturer Sikaflex (the factory actually happens to be in Tuzla!) on exactly which adhesives should be used, in what sequence and exact timings. It was much more complicated than you’d expect.

Getting our new windows on board

Using computer aided design technology Evren, who was introduced to us by one of the marina’s helpful dock assistants, produced a perfect three dimensional plan for the windows. A week or two afterwards the finished windows were delivered – at the cost of roughly $850 Australian for all four!

Jonathan examining his new window

With more guests visiting soon we really needed to buy a bar fridge to replace the old one which no longer worked. So we found a very well priced locally made one on-line and then discovered a nearby store that stocked the one we had picked.

We found a shop that sells marine fridges

After a long hot walk we not only found the store and ordered the bar fridge but also discovered a brand new chandlery shop not far from the marina and a great hardware store owned by the British retail chain B&Q which sells supplies for home maintenance and gardening projects. A successful day of discovery!

Ours is actually smaller than this one but at least we have icy cold drinks
We discovered a good hardware store

We spent other days discovering everything about Tuzla – the suburb of Istanbul in which Viaport Marina sits.

The local Hamam (bath house)

We found some charming back streets with decaying Greek-style houses which looked as though were about to be renovated.

A charming but decaying Greek style house
A very elderly and dilapidated house
An ancient water fountain in Tuzla
Another house waiting to be renovated

On our walks we also discovered where the best fish and meze restaurants, shops and places of interest were located.

On our walks we founds the best places to eat
One of the excellent fish restaurants in Tuzla
As well as excellent fruit and vegetables this shop sells home made mezes, Branston Pickle and baked beans!
The population exchange museum was closed but we will visit it one day
The roller coaster is terrifying judging by the cries of “Allah Akbar” (equivalent of OMG in English) from the teenagers as they fly by

We enjoyed people-watching along the promenade – a lively place at night with people dancing, picnicking, riding bikes and scooters, busking and generally having fun.

We love people watching on the promenade
There’s often people dancing or singing
The younger children love this
mobile merry-go-round
You can try your hand at popping balloons
with a pellet gun (health and safety is rather more relaxed in Turkey)
Night drawing in
There’s even a a little train that on occasions runs along the promenade

One of the delights of Turkey is the care lavished on street cats and dogs. Along the seafront there are numerous “cat hotels” with food and water topped up each day by volunteers. The cats particularly get lots of cuddles too from young and old and really seem to enjoy the affection they receive.

A mumma cat and one of her babies
Big old street dogs are always very docile
One of the many cat “hotels” along
the promenade
A pale ginger cat saying “hello”
One of the many fine and healthy street cats
This one was waiting for a titbit
from a fisherman

We had a good few days with Jack after his Istanbul adventures and on his last night he treated us to a night at the movies – the latest in the Jurassic Park series. Three old dinosaurs watching a whole load of theropods like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptors scrap with each other and meeting unpleasant ends at the hands of humans. An edifying experience!

Three dinosaurs watching a movie
about – dinosaurs!

Jack’s plane was scheduled to take off in the morning and our appointment at the Immigration office was at 9am and as the airport was very close to the office we were able to share a taxi. As always it was sad to say goodbye but will be meeting again in Australia before too long.

Our meeting at Immigration went very well although initially we had to queue up with hoards of people. I think they might have been seeking refugee protection status as they were guided to a different part of the building. Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with 3.7 million Syrians under temporary protection and over 320,000 refugees and asylum-seekers under international protection. Take note other countries – you are not doing enough!

Queuing up to get into the Immigration building – there were several lines of people behind these barriers
Our queue for temporary residency
visas was the shortest

We were treated very courteously and embarrassingly, were moved to the head of the queue. When we questioned this someone in the line explained that in Turkey older people are treated with the utmost respect and this is why we had been given precedence. I suppose there are some advantages to growing older but really? Do we look that decrepit?!

Gallipoli – an intriguing enigma

An intriguing enigma was playing on my mind as we drove from Troy to the Gallipoli Peninsula:

Why are events of more than one hundred years ago in Gallipoli, awarded an almost mythical status in Australia?

We left for Gallipoli after a great wander round Troy
We had a coffee first under the shady trees

If you are Turkish, Australian or from New Zealand you will have an understanding of the significance of Gallipoli and its importance in the national psyche of your own country. However, there are many people of other nationalities who probably haven’t heard of Gallipoli or if they have, do not understand its importance to other nations.

The Gallipoli Peninsula showing the locations of the Allied forces landings

So why does this small but beautiful peninsula that sits on one side of the Dardanelles Strait, in Turkey, hold such an irrevocable place in the hearts of almost every Australian person?

Looking out onto the Dardanelles Strait from the Gallipoli Peninsula

On April 25 each year, thousands of people turn out at dawn all around Australia (and also in what is now known as Anzac Cove, on the Gallipoli Peninsula) to commemorate the day Australian troops landed in this pretty little cove.

The spot where ANZAC troops landed

As I have come to understand, the significance of the Gallipoli campaign for Australians (and I imagine for New Zealanders too) is strongly aligned to the birth of nationhood and the development of national identity.

The terrain was unexpectedly
difficult to traverse

When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years. This was the first major military action fought by a combined Australian and New Zealand force and so it was of course, an extremely important milestone.

The ANZAC landings represented an important milestone

But it’s not just a “coming of age story” – it is also about the great courage, endurance, initiative and discipline shown by the ANZACs that continues to capture the imagination of a nation.

Of course it’s not just those that died at Anzac Cove that are remembered on 25 April, the services and ceremonies are about commemorating all soldiers that fought and lost their lives in every subsequent battle in World War l and every other war in which Australians were involved.

There is a lot of reverence and respect for those who died here

For the Turkish, the events at Gallipoli (known to them as “Çanakkale Savasi”) were a great triumph. Turks also remember these events in terms of the birth of nationhood. The victory has been given mythic status within Turkey’s national identity as well.

ANZAC Cove has been preserved in a respectful and unsensational manner

The struggle against the allied forces in the Dardanelles was the impetus for the Turkish War of Independence, under the charismatic command of Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The Republic of Turkey came about under his leadership eight years later.

Atatürk is revered in Turkey

I had plenty of time to mull all this over because we drove “the scenic route” to Anzac Cove. We somehow missed the turn off for the ferry and ended up driving over (at vast expense!) the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge for the second time in as many days.

A magnificent mosque we passed in Çanakkale
Over the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge – again!
And then we went under the new bridge again – first time by sea, this time by road

The Gallipoli Peninsula is absolutely beautiful with fields full of sunflowers, beautiful clumps of lavender scattered everywhere, lovely copses of trees and beautiful views of shimmering blue water.

The Gallipoli Peninsula was very beautiful
Fragrant lavender scattered everywhere

We were quite surprised at how small Anzac Cove was – only 600 metres long, bounded by the headlands of Arıburnu to the north and Little Arıburnu, known as Hell Spit, to the south.

There were signs recounting the events of 1915 in ANZAC cove

This is where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed and the beautiful beach became an enormous supply dump with two field hospitals – one at either end.

Looking out over the sandy beach and the clear blue water it was hard to imagine the mayhem that existed in this place during the year of 1915.

It was hard to imagine the mayhem that existed here in 1915

I expected to feel the ghosts of those who lost their lives there but it felt peaceful, almost idyllic. However, once we started to read the signs (in Turkish and English) the harsh reality of what occurred here – a badly conceived, ill-fated, and major strategic failure that almost derailed Winston Churchill’s career – settled like a blanket of sadness and anger.

The evacuation of troops was the only success of the campaign

Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops spent eight fruitless months making no ground and achieving nothing. Around 11,500 of them died and thousands more were injured during this futile campaign.

This grim reality sat with us as we drove home, this time via a ferry across the Dardanelles Strait and back to “Sunday” moored in Tuzla on the outskirts of Istanbul.

A war memorial on the waterfront at Eceabat where we got on the ferry
It was quite choppy on the Dardanelles
On the ferry to Çanakkale

Back at Viaport Marina we had a couple more days with Jonathan’s brother Jack aboard before he went for a few days of sightseeing in Istanbul.

The seafront in Tuzla near our marina
The seafront has some lovely
shady spots to enjoy
There are cat hotels all along the seafront

We went in to Istanbul together by taxi and once Jack was settled into his hotel we all went for a wander towards nearby Sultanahmet Square where many of the top sights are situated.

The reception area at Jack’s hotel
Jack registering at the hotel
There were great views from
the rooftop of the hotel
Views of the Bosphorus from the rooftop

It was extremely hot and very crowded and we were thankful that we would have the opportunity to do more sightseeing later in the year when it was cooler and hopefully, not so crowded.

Walking the backstreets of Istanbul
We loved all the decorative restaurants
Another lovely eating spot

We saw the exteriors of the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque), Hagia Sophia (once a Christian cathedral, then a mosque, then a museum and now, controversially, a mosque again) and the Basilica Cistern which was closed for renovation but which is now open again.

The magnificent Blue
Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
The entrance to the Badilica Cistern

We had lunch at an old haunt of Jack’s the world famous Pudding Shop (the nickname for the Lale Restaurant in Sultanahmet).

Jack and his wife Carole had visited this renowned cafe back in the 1970s when it was a popular meeting place for young travellers hitting “the hippy trail” – the overland route between Europe and India, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia.

The World famous Pudding Shop

So named due to the delicious desserts it had on offer, the Pudding Shop was the place to go to meet like minded people, buy and sell combi vans, swap information and recount travellers’ tales. There was also a notice board where people could leave messages. One of the most famous messages was a love letter from “Megan” to “Malcolm” in which she asked for his forgiveness and apologised for “the business down in Greece.”

The Pudding Shop Menu harking back
to the hippy days

Miraculously Jack also found the place where he stayed all those years ago – just a stone’s throw from Hagia Sophia. It looked like some kind of community centre now.

The place Jack and Carole stayed back
in the 1970s
Things hadn’t changed much
It was a hostel back in the day but now appears to be a community centre

In the afternoon we went for a lovely stroll in the Gulhane Park which is just outside the walls of the Topkapi Palace and which was once part of the Palace gardens.

Entrance to the Gulhane Park
The walls of the Topkapi Palace in
the Gulhane Park

The heat was quite intense so we were grateful for the lovely shade provided by the avenues of tall trees.

The tall trees provided much
appreciated shade
The gardens were very attractive
I loved the water seller’s wide brimmed hat

We left Jack in the early evening and caught the train back to Tuzla. It was a long trip (25 stops!) but very easy and extremely cheap (less than $3 or €2!).

We took the tram to the station
Travelling deep into the bowels of the earth to the railway line
Gorgeous decoration in the train station

A short cab ride from the station and we were back in the Viaport shopping centre once again.

Back at Viaport Marina

Destination Viaport Marina Istanbul: Inauspicious arrival

We (S/V Sunday and our buddy boat S/V Catabella) were finally arriving at our destination – Viaport Marina in Tuzla, Istanbul – which is going to be our base until the first half of 2023.

This research vessel is anchored close to Viaport Marina

With the promise of quite a few visitors arriving in the coming months – after a dearth of guests over the last two years due to Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions – we thought it would be a great idea to be somewhere easy to get to from anywhere in the world.

S/V Catabella is greeted at the entrance to Viaport Marina

Viaport Marina is a twenty minute taxi ride away from Istanbul’s second airport and has plenty of appeal for people coming on holiday: easy access by boat to the nearby Prince’s Archipelago and the Bosphorus Strait; a train line into centre of Istanbul for sightseeing, a shopping mall on the door step complete with water park, aquarium, funfair, lion park, bowling alley and cinema and some lovely sea food restaurants a stroll away.

Viaport Marina has plenty of appeal for people coming on holiday
There is even a massive water park

We were greeted by the marinaras, as is usual in Turkish marinas, who pick up the “slime lines” that are anchored to the seabed and to which you tie to your own lines at the bow. Monohulls only need one line but catamarans like ours require two – one for each hull.

Quite the welcoming committee!

Unfortunately they expected us to manage with one slime line each and then one to share between us. This effectively meant we were tied together and the result was that it was impossible for either boat to straighten up properly.

We requested that we have a second line for each boat but the head marinara seemed reluctant to do this. A young marinara, Mehmet, who spoke brilliant English translated for us and he told us that they needed permission to do this. In the meantime the wind started to blow up and our two boats started to act like kittens in a sack (or like cats on a shared line!). Both skippers lost the plot and demanded action before damage was caused “act now and ask permission afterwards” entreated Sunday’s skipper. Both skippers said if there was no action we would leave the marina immediately and not come back.

Mehmet translated for us

At this point our dinghy which hangs off the back of the boat was banging against the fire hydrant and hose on the dock which we pointed out as one urgent reason for action. In the end we were given our own lines and we were able to settle our boats properly. It was an inauspicious start to our stay.

Our dinghy which hangs off the back of the boat was banging against the fire hydrant

Things got better from then on fortunately. Mehmet was able to help organise a diver to scrub Sunday’s hull below the waterline to get rid of all the little sea snails, limpets and other sea life that had attached to her “bottom”.

The diver scrubbed Sunday’s bottom
Mehmet (right) and the diver

The following day we went to the office and signed the contract and paid the balance of the annual fee.

Kittens in the Viaport Marina office

We had a couple of days to get our bearings before heading off on a road trip with our guest Jack, Jonathan’s brother. Unfortunately he had come down with a very nasty chest cold and had been ill for about a week. We decided a road trip is what he needed!

It was strange being in a marina with so much going on – even robots for hire!
The children have a great time
driving these around!

After some difficulty (it was the school summer break and a public holiday) we managed to hire a car. The day we headed off Sue and John left for a canal barge holiday in England with two of their sons and their two youngest grandchildren.

S/V Catabella and S/V Sunday happily settled

We decided to head for the famous ancient site of Troy – we had been there previously in the campervan but had spent so long at the museum that we didn’t have time to go round the archeological site. This time we were going to do both!

Jack and Jonathan waiting for the taxi to take us to the car hire place
Crossing the Bosphorus Strait
We saw so many sunflowers
More gorgeous sunflowers
Time for lunch. Çay was served in a large flask
Another restaurant in the shell of
an old airplane

On the way there we drove over the new 1915 Çanakkale Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world – that we had sailed under just a few days earlier.

The longest suspension bridge in the world

There were hardly any vehicles crossing over it – not surprising really as it costs more than 200 Turkish Lira (about 12 Euros or $16 Australian) which would be prohibitive to the average Turkish resident.

There were hardly any vehicles crossing over it
The toll would be prohibitive to the
average Turkish resident

The Troy museum is fabulous but we feel it is utterly wrong and absolutely heartbreaking that all the best treasures from Troy are sitting in museums in other countries (mostly in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow) – having been looted by antiquities hunter Heinrich Schliemann in the nineteenth century.

The Troy museum is fabulous
Some of the treasures plundered
by Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann’s wife wearing some of the Trojan gold

The Museum of Troy still has many treasures to boast about however, including a wealth of artefacts from nearby Tumuli and other sites close to Troy.

The Museum of Troy still has many treasures such as this gorgeous sculpture of Aphrodite wearing snakes as jewellery
Some lovely animal models
I always enjoy seeing beautiful glassware
These lovely models caught my eye
Some good examples of ceramic vessels

After a great wander round the museum we returned to our lodgings – a small bed and breakfast place over the road from the museum which also caters for campers and one or two vans.

Our home for the night
This is where dinner was served

We had a good set dinner and then settled in for a red wine or two in Jonathan’s and my bedroom!

The site of Troy was a pleasant surprise. We had somehow gathered that there wasn’t much left to see (Schliemann had destroyed layer upon layer of evidence of habitation in his frenzied search for treasure) but in reality the ruins were very interesting.

A big model of the famous Trojan horse
This is known as the Schliemann trench but there is some doubt as to whether this is where he discovered the historic treasure

There are a remarkable eleven layers and sub layers (each with sub divisions) containing the remains left behind by more than three millennia of human occupation.

This site contains remains left behind by more than three millennia of human occupation.
The Sanctuary of Athena
Some of the remains have been partially reconstructed
The bouleuterion (council meeting place)

It was fascinating for example, to see fortification walls built around 2920 BC, and then a partially restored ramp which dates back to the next incarnation of Troy, and built over the remains of the original city. Fascinating stuff.

Part of the fortification wall from the
original city of Troy
Later fortification walls
The walkways allowed us to get an excellent view of the remains
The partially restored ramp which dates back to the next incarnation of Troy
Another view of the ramp
An artist’s impression of the ramp
and the city entrance

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.

Serenity

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

One good turn deserves another

We had been looking forward to exploring the Marmara Islands but sadly didn’t have nearly enough time to do them justice.

Part of the reason was because we had to get to Istanbul to begin the process of renewing our temporary residency visas but a sudden attack of really painful toothache also hastened the end of our exploration.

Approaching Paşalimanı Island

There are four inhabited and 17 uninhabited islands in this archipelago which is located in the South of the Sea of Marmara.

Great place to leave the dinghies while we explored Paşalimanı Island

Our first stop was Paşalimanı Island which has five small villages and a total permanent population of 962. We anchored in the calm bay at the village of Paşalimanı which has a population of 180 people.

Always something interesting to look at!

It was a lovely little place, very rural, unspoilt, with really friendly people and a mosque with the the shortest minaret we’ve ever seen, and two small supermarkets.

The shortest minaret we have ever seen

Walking around the lanes that surround the village it was a pleasure to see all the veggie gardens and delicious fruit growing (especially the cherries and plums.) Along the way we found a farm stall and bought some home-grown fresh fruit and vegetables.

There were small fields and veggie gardens everywhere we looked
It was lovely to see all the wonderful
home-grown fruit and vegetables

We were just admiring one plum tree groaning with fruit when the owner came along and picked a whole heap of ripe juicy fruit for us. Such kindness!

Lovely cherries – little red jewels!

Like many places in coastal Turkey, the island was once inhabited by people who were members of the Greek Orthodox Church who lived happily side by side with the Turkish Muslim residents. That all changed with population exchange of 1923 when 1.6 million members of Greek Orthodox Church were forced to move to Greek territory and between 450,000-500,000 Muslim people were forcibly moved from their Greek homeland to Turkish territory. The ruins of a Greek Orthodox Church that we came upon as we walked serves as a reminder of this cruel piece of history.

The remains of the Greek Orthodox Church

Another remnant from the past that we came across, a windmill, had been converted into a home a while ago but it looked as though it had remained empty in recent times.

A converted windmill – looked like it was deserted now

Our second and final (for now!) anchorage in the Marmara Archipelago was on Avşa Island.

The entrance to our next anchorage
on Avşa Island

This fourteen square mile (36 square kilometres) island has a local population of around 2,000 but during the summer season the number of visitors increases to forty or fifty thousand.

Catabella anchored at Avşa Island

Mercifully for us, the place where we anchored was literally deserted! We had found a perfect spot to shelter from the strong prevailing winds at a half built marina that consisted of little more than two breakwaters and quays, with no shore facilities and with only a very few local boats tied up. It was perfect!

The half built marina consisted of little more than two breakwaters and quays
There were only a very few local boats tied up
The strange sight of Catabella and Sunday anchored in the middle of a marina

Even better there was one lonely restaurant a short walk up the hill with views to die for.

The restaurant had views to die for

We were taken to the back kitchen to check out the meze selection and with the help of Google translate found out that a meat delivery was expected at any moment.

Local cats hoping to be fed

Minutes later, we heard a motor bike approaching and the meat had arrived! It was brought to the table and we selected our main course!

The meat delivery has arrived!
Sunday and Catabella at anchor in the unfinished marina
Such a lovely view!
Walking home from the restaurant

That night one of my teeth started to ache really badly and by the morning I was in quite a bit of pain. So we decided to head for the town of Erdek on the mainland so that I could see a dentist.

A quirky sculpture in Erdek

Fortunately I found an excellent dentist who was able to see me that afternoon. He put me on antibiotics which brought immediate relief and in the ensuing days performed root canal work.

There was a club near our anchorage which made it a little noisy at night
Lovely fruit on sale on a street stall

Sue and I also took the opportunity to have our hair cut at one of the local salons. We were delighted at the price – wash, cut and blow dry for $7 – but I was less than delighted with the styling!

Sue having her hair cut
Her style looked better than mine!
At least the cut was cheap!

In the meantime we got to know the lovely little town of Erdek – a low-key popular holiday destination for domestic tourists.

The centre of Erdek

The pace was slow, there was an extensive pedestrian-only section and some pleasant eateries to enjoy.

Good cafes in the pedestrian only precinct

The peninsula on which Erdek sits used to be the site of the ancient city of Kzykos dating back to the 8th Century BC.

Remains from the ancient city of Kzykos

Apparently several earthquakes destroyed the city but from time to time relics are unearthed. Some of these are displayed in a small area on the shore very close to where we parked our dinghies.

Another relic from the ancient city destroyed by a series of earthquakes
An ancient tomb

One day we noticed a navy frigate anchored behind us in the bay. This isn’t the usual type of vessel with which we tend to share our anchorage!

A “fully dressed” naval vessel
anchored behind us

It turned out that the following day was Seaman’s Day in Turkey and the presence of the frigate was part of the celebrations. The highlight of the day was a swimming carnival which took place in the he fisherman’s harbour – not too far from where we were anchored.

The swimming carnival – part of the
Seaman’s Day celebrations

There were many swimming races but the high point of the carnival was the greasy pole competition where young men ran up a narrow and precarious slippery pole set at an alarming angle and tried to grab the flag at the end.

Ooh this one nearly grabbed the flag!
But disaster struck!

There were many attempts, many near successes and some truly spectacular falls but no one managed to grab the flag! It was hard to watch as the potential for serious injury was self evident!

Another near success but …
Off he goes!
Sue and John motor back from
Sunday after sundowners
Another fabulous sunset!

While we were in Erdek our latest boat guest arrived – Jonathan’s brother Jack from Australia. He had flown into Istanbul from England where he and our sister-in-law Carole had spent several months catching up with family and friends after a prolonged separation due to Covid. Jack was now travelling solo as Carole had returned to “normal life” in Brisbane while he continued to live the nomadic life for a while longer. After a night’s rest in a hotel in Istanbul he caught a long-distance bus to Erdek where we met him at the bus station.

Waterside catch up with brother Jack
Jonathan enjoying a chat with his brother

One day while the three of us were walking along the sea front, we came across a lady with a bike loaded down with water bottles and plastic bags. Her carrier was so full that it had come away from the handle bars and she was struggling to keep everything from spilling on to the ground.

A fully loaded bike!

We stepped in to help her and discovered that she was one of the wonderful army of Turkish people who keep the thousands of street cats and dogs alive by providing food and water and where appropriate, vet care.

Jonathan fixing the basket

Her name was Nurten and her English was about as good as my Turkish (a few words!) but we had a lovely “chat” while Jonathan and Jack fixed her basket with wire found in a nearby waste bin!

All fixed now

I took a few photos of the nearby cat shelter and when the repair was completed she insisted on stopping a passerby to take a photo of all of us.

One of the cat shelters for which Nurten supplies food and water

We were very impressed with the care and devotion Nurten shows to the animals of Erdek and were glad we could help her in return. As the old saying goes “one good deed deserves another”.

We all pose for a photo!
Good night from Erdek

Chance meeting mid-sea “like ships that pass in the night”

Çanakkale wasn’t the most comfortable of anchorages – in fact at times the swell was quite annoying – but at least we were close to all the town has to offer.

At least we were close to everything – including the mosque!
A dramatic sunset always lifts the spirits

Being the gateway town to the famous ancient ruined city of Troy and also the much fought over strategically important Gallipoli peninsula, we thought Çanakkale would be heaving with people but actually it didn’t seem crowded at all.

The busy ferry taking passengers to the Gallipoli Peninsula
View from our boat of the Trojan horse used
in the movie “Troy”

The day after we arrived Sue and John caught up with us after having had an extra day on the island of Bozcaada. Rather than anchor out they decided to tie up inside the small public marina.

Sue and John arrive in Çanakkale on Catabella

Later that day John, Jonathan and I headed for the very interesting naval museum, some of which is housed in the 15th-century Çimenlik Castle.

Çimenlik Castle, which houses some of the Navel Museum’s exhibits

Before entering the castle we boarded and looked round an amazing replica of the minelayer Nusret which played a pivotal role in resisting the Allied invasion of the Dardanelles in World War One. The Nusret laid 26 mines in an “unexpected” position just before the ill-fated invasion in February 1915 which sank, or left severely damaged, a significant number of British and French ships.

The replica of the minelayer Nusret

It was this defeat that precipitated the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign.

Replicas of mines that were laid by “Nusret”
Models of Turkish sailors in the “mess”

Nearby to the replica vessel lies a graceful pale lemon painted mansion that beckoned us in. Downstairs there was an exhibition with a lot of information about the rise of Ataturk ( the founding “father” of the Republic of Turkey.)

The lemon painted mansion which
housed an exhibition on Ataturk and
sketches by war artists

Upstairs was an exhibition of sketches made by a Turkish War artist who drew what was happening during the chaos of war. Although they might lack artistic merit, (maybe because the artist often sketched sitting on the back of a horse!) the pictures capture the devastation surrounding him. Several of them depicted the aftermath of a shell fired from the English naval ship Queen Elizabeth which fell in Çanakkale causing a big fire and widespread panic.

One of the sketches showing Çanakkale in ruins

From the mansion we walked through the castle grounds in which there were many shells, cannons, mines and other instruments of war on display.

There were many instruments of war on display in the grounds of the castle
More guns!

Inside the castle the exhibitions were mostly depicting the events of the Gallipoli campaign or as it is known in Turkey, the Battle of Çanakkale.

The castle entrance

This section of the museum was interesting and extensive with exhibits displayed on two levels. Upstairs was very atmospheric as the lighting was subtle and all the low doorways, passageways and other characteristics of a castle were still in place.

A mock-up of a hospital trench from the time of the Gallipoli invasion
The museum was very atmospheric
All the characteristics of a castle
were still in place

The exhibits included short films, dioramas, uniforms, paintings and models.

One of the costume exhibits
A painting of Ataturk on horseback

On the way back we saw the the enormous wooden horse which was used in the 2004 movie “Troy” and is on display on the seafront.

The enormous wooden horse used
in the movie “Troy”

Before leaving Çanakkale we decided to go and fill up with fuel at the dedicated dock in the small marina so we radioed in to see if the fuel dock was free and were told to come on in.

Entering the small marina

When we got there, a large motor yacht was refuelling which was annoying as we were happy to wait outside until the dock was free. Instead we were obliged to worm our way into a small space with none of the usual assistance from a dock worker in a dinghy.

We had to wiggle our way into a small space with none of the usual help

We eventually did get in but managed to get one of the marina lines caught in the starboard engine propellor. Then unbelievably, without telling us, the marina management asked a diver who was working on a nearby boat to go down and cut the line while we were still trying to settle the boat! The consequences of this could have been utterly disastrous for the diver and we wondered why on earth they hadn’t tried to tell us. There was no indication anywhere that there was a diver working below which seemed to us as being potentially dangerous and very slack!

I think the diver had been inspecting damage below the waterline on this old girlSetting off from

We set off from Çanakkale with our companion boat Catabella and our journey up the famous, 61 kilometres (38 miles) long, Dardanelles Strait continued.

Setting off from Çanakkale

It is difficult to think of another stretch of water (except maybe the Suez Canal) that is as significant from both a strategic and commercial point of view.

The Dardanelles Strait is a crucial international waterway which connects the Black Sea to the Aegean via the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. This allows maritime connections from Black Sea ports belonging to, for example, The Ukraine and Russia, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and onwards to the Atlantic Ocean via Gibraltar. From there goods can travel on to the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal.

The Dardanelles Strait is a crucial international waterway for ships like this

The importance of the Dardanelles Strait has been highlighted during the current conflict between Russia and the Ukraine when massive ships containing wheat have been prevented from safe passage to the “outside world”.

One of the forts built to guard the Strait
We weren’t sure what these were but guessed they were oyster or mussel beds

The highlight of our passage along the Strait was travelling under the world’s longest suspension bridge. Yes that’s right, the newly opened 1915 Çanakkale Suspension Bridge is 4,608 metres (15,118 feet) long with a main span of 2,023 metres(6,637 feet) which beats (by 32 metres (105 feet)), the length of the previous longest, the Japanese Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

The World’s longest suspension bridge

The toll (one way) on the bridge is 200 lira ($15.64 Australian dollars or a tick over £9). A Turkish person earning the minimum monthly wage of 4,250 Turkish lira would have to spend 14 per cent of their monthly income for one round trip on the bridge! No wonder there was scarcely any traffic on it.

The newly opened 1915 Çanakkale Suspension Bridge is 4,608 metres (15,118 feet) long
Plenty of room for our mast!
It is quite a feat of engineering

Watching Sue and John approach the bridge it really looked as though Catabella’s mast wouldn’t fit under it but of course, the bridge’s height above the water is a massive 70 metres (230 ft). As they got closer to the bridge we could see the space opening up!

Looks like Catabella’s mast won’t fit
under the bridge!
This is Sunday going under (plenty of room!) thanks Sue Done for the photo
Plenty of room – even for cargo boats
It’s a fine looking bridge but with hardly any traffic on – not surprising considering
the cost of the toll

It took us roughly an hour and a half to get to the end of the Dardanelles where the strait opens up to become the Sea of Marmara.

The dot marks us entering the Sea of Marmara

Just as we entered this inland sea which covers 11,350 square kilometres (4,380 square miles) we received a text message from Alper who had been the project manager for our new bowsprit built at Didim Marina. He had spotted Sunday from the yacht on which he was sailing as crew heading towards Marmaris.

Fancy meeting someone you know in the middle of the sea!

A few minutes later and we were alongside having a quick chat. What a strange place to meet up and what a coincidence that we were sailing so close to each other – “like ships that pass in the night”! It was especially strange as there were literally no other vessels in sight right then, except for Catabella ahead of us in the distance.

“Like ships that pass in the night”
Not another boat to be seen except for Catabella in the far distance

Our anchorage for the night was in Kemer, a modest fishing village with a fair amount of industry on its fringes. Not the most salubrious of places and it had a bit of a swell going on too so not surprisingly we departed early next day heading for the Marmara Archipelago, a group of 21 islands where we hoped to find some great anchorages.

Anchored outside Kemer, a
modest fishing village
Kemer, not the most salubrious of places
There was fair amount of industry
on its fringes
But the sunset was still glorious!

Heading up the “difficult and potentially dangerous” Dardanelles

The long haul north before heading up the internationally significant Dardanelles Strait – the narrow waterway that links the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara was almost over.

The internationally significant Dardanelles Strait, with the island of Bozcaada bottom left

The day before we left for the Turkish island of Bozcaada – our last stop en route to the Dardanelles – we moved from the safety of the landlocked bay, Çamlik Koyu in the Ayvalik archipelago, to nearby Cunda (Alibey) Island. This was to give ourselves a head start when we set off the next morning.

We stopped for the night at Cunda Island

Soon after we arrived at Cunda Island, we hopped into our dinghies to explore the village ashore. On our way over John and Sue noticed a dolphin playing with the anchor chain of a motor boat.

The dolphin was playing around this
motor boat

We caught sight of it too and went over to the boat to have a closer look. We had heard from other yachties about a lone dolphin that often likes to play around anchored and moored boats in the bay.

Sue from our buddy boat Catabella managed to get a shot of it

As we approached, the playful animal moved on to have a look at Sunday’s anchor chain but then disappeared again as we approached our boat. Later on that night we were woken up by thumping noises on our hull – I think it was a call to play from the dolphin but it wasn’t the right time for us sleepy people.

The dolphin moved on to our boat (Sunday) but as soon as we got near it disappeared

The village – which we had visited the day before with our guest Jackie for her farewell lunch – was very beautiful but the terrible history of the island involving the killing of several hundred of the Greek islanders and the displacement of many hundreds more, before the population exchange of 1923, still haunts this place.

The village was very beautiful
Sue exploring the old town

It was an early start for us the next day – our anchor was up before 6.30 am which was unusual for us although many (maybe most?) yachties would claim that it was the “normal” time to leave!

The sea was like glass and there was a beautiful rosy pink glow as we motored out of the anchorage. “We should get up this early more often” we said. However, unless we have to, we don’t! Just not early birds I guess.

Early morning departure!

We motored most of the way to Bozcaada Island but had a bit of a sail too. Along the way there was plenty to look at – including various coastguard vessels speeding to and fro (something seemed to be going on but we didn’t find out what), and a huge cargo ship steaming across our bow (the picture below looks dramatic but we were not in danger at any point!).

There were various coastguard vessels
going to and fro
Something seemed to be going on but we didn’t find out what
On Catabella’s navigation system Sunday looks like she’s heading straight for this
rather large cargo ship
Taken from Catabella – looks like Sunday is heading for a collision

In order to save a considerable amount of time, we cut the corner and sailed into Greek waters for a while, just skirting the north of the island of Lesbos. Apparently this is quite acceptable – both the Greek and Turkish authorities appear to turn a blind eye to boats taking the short cut.

We entered Greek waters to cut the corner

As we sailed close to Lesbos I really wished we could pop in for lunch in a Greek taverna but that just wasn’t possible.

Lesbos looked absolutely beautiful
We sailed very close to Greece!
Wish we could have stopped for
lunch in a Greek taverna!

We approached Bozcaada mid-afternoon and judging by the large ferry that we narrowly avoided, it is a popular holiday destination.

Dodging the ferry!

The first thing we noticed were the Greek windmills on the cliff top (Boscaada was previously known as the Greek island of Tenedos famed for being the place that the Greek fleet hid while a small number of their troops entered Troy hidden in the Trojan horse).

Look closely and you’ll see the remains of some Greek windmills

We also had a great view of a very fine castle which dates from 1455 but had been remodelled in the 17th and 19th centuries.

The very fine castle was first built in 1455

Our friends from Liberte, Liz and Steve, who had left Cunda even earlier than us, were already anchored and settled by the time we arrived in the compact anchorage.

The only settlement on Bozcaada

Before long we were also snugly anchored and ready to go and explore the town which is the only settlement on this 39.9 square km (15 square miles) island.

Catabella and Liberte anchored in the shadow of the castle

Despite its size, the island has always been strategically important due to its proximity to the entrance to the Dardanelles. It has had a rich history with many invasions and has been under the control of a succession of powers over the centuries.

A closer view of the castle
Checking out one of the many restaurants

During the 1923 population exchange the Greeks in Bozcaada were (unusually) allowed to stay and the majority of the population was Greek until the late 1960s/early 1970s, when a large proportion of them left the island.

This one looked tempting

Walking through the streets you could still see and feel the Greek influence. There were many restaurants and lots of wine shops.We learnt that Boscaada is famous for its grapes and has a burgeoning wine industry.

A beautiful “hot dog”

We stopped for a quick tasting at a “cellar door”- the varieties we selected weren’t great so we didn’t end up stocking up our wine cellar on this occasion.

The wine wasn’t the best but these
cakes looked delicious

Later on we (Jonathan and I and our sailing buddies Sue and John) met up with Liz and Steve and had an enjoyable dinner at one of the many local restaurants.

This was where we eventually had dinner
Sunday, Catabella and Liberte at anchor

Due to the possible threat of strong northerly winds coming and the hope of having a decent sail before they did, Jonathan and I decided to get going the next day while Sue and John made the decision to have a rest and catch up with us the following day.

Night time in Bozcaada
A lovely sunset
The same view first thing in the morning
See ya Catabella!

We had a good trip but we were intrigued by the strange currents around the entrance to the Dardanelles that slowed us down by almost a third of our normal speed.

Great to get the sails up
Hard to photograph but the currents were definitely visible

It was quite a thrill to “turn right” into the famous Strait which apparently is considered “one of the most hazardous, crowded, difficult and potentially dangerous waterways in the world.” (Wikipedia)

It was quite a thrill “to turn right” into the Dardanelles

We didn’t really find it hazardous and it was much less busy than the Singapore Strait which was definitely a little daunting! (Read all about crossing it here: https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/nail-biting-experience-through-singapore-strait/ )

The Dardanelles link the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara and at the other end the Bosphorus leads out to the Black Sea

Although the strange currents persisted, alternately slowing us down and then speeding us up again, we pottered along quite well – now under motor (sailing in the Dardanelles is not allowed unless permission has been granted).

We should have been going over six knots but the currents were slowing us down.
The entrance to the Dardanelles

Sunday was heading for Çanakkale, a small seaport on the southern shore that sits at the narrowest point of the Dardanelles and is the nearest major urban centre to the ancient city of Troy.

Along the way we sailed past the Gallipoli peninsula on the northern shores of the strait. We could see in the distance the impressive war memorials to the fallen soldiers of the Great War. One of them commemorates the service of about 253,000 (56,643 of whom died) Turkish soldiers who participated at the Battle of Gallipoli (1915–1916). Another commemorates the Anzac troops (11,025 who died).

The impressive Turkish Memorial
The Helles Memorial built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Gallipoli peninsula is actually the point where the continent of Europe ends while on the other side of the strait the beaches constitute the start of the continent of Asia.

Coming into Çanakkale we were impressed by the huge figure of a 1915 Turkish soldier carved in white on the hillside. In one hand he holds a rifle while his other arm is outstretched towards an inscription engraved into the hillside. Translated, the words form the beginning of the famous Turkish poem by the Turkish poet, Necmettin Halil Onan. The poem starts “Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies; Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound Is the place where the heart of a nation sighs.”

One of the massive cargo ships we encountered in the Straits
The huge figure of a 1915 Turkish soldier carved in white on the hillside
An unusually cloudy but nevertheless
glorious, sunset

Tantalising close to Greece but Turkey still has a hold

The Greek island of Lesbos (Lesvos) loomed into view as our catamaran “Sunday” slid gracefully though the water. Ah Greece!

The Greek island of Lesbos (left) and the Turkish mainland (right)

Tantalisingly close but Greece was not our destination just yet. Turkey still has a hold on us with many treasures and experiences in store.

The pink line shows the sea border between Greece and Turkey

We were actually on our way to an anchorage in Bademli, a tiny Turkish fishing harbour just a few hours by boat from the northern Aegean town of Çandarlı.

The sleepy fishing harbour of Bademli

Our journey there took us along the sea border in the narrow Mytilini strait between Lesbos, the third largest Greek island and Turkey. Anchored in Bademli we were literally only 4.8 nm from Greece. So near and yet so far.

In Bademli we were literally only 4.8 nm
from Greece

Bademli was a very quiet backwater and when the crew of S/V Sunday (Jonathan, our guest Jackie and I) went ashore to explore it struck us as being very ramshackle and down at heel.

When we went ashore all looked
rather down at heel

As we wandered along the foreshore we noticed the rough track we were on joined a road ahead and beyond the junction we thought we could see a restaurant! It seemed an unlikely spot for one but then, the road was probably one used quite a bit by tourists so hopefully this wasn’t just a mirage!

This was no mirage!

A few minutes later we found that the restaurant was real and had a delightful lunch in its pretty garden. It even served Jackie’s favourite Turkish white wine!

We had a delightful lunch overlooking
the water
The restaurant even sold Jackie’s favourite Turkish wine!

Off again the following day we were enchanted by a couple of dolphins who stayed only briefly. Dolphins seem shy here in Turkey as they generally don’t play around in the bow wave for very long, if at all. It’s still a treat to see them though!

Sadly the dolphins didn’t hang around long enough for me to take a decent photo

Sailing once again very close to the border with Greece we encountered a large Customs vessel and thought we might be up for having our papers checked. Quickly trying to calculate when we had out last pump out (thankfully quite recently) we prepared to be boarded but then saw that there was going to be no Customs visit that day.

Warning coast guard vessel ahead!

Of course not. We soon realised that the reason for their presence was because this narrow strait is frequently used by illegal boats carrying refugees trying to reach Greece with the aim of seeking asylum in Europe.

As one of the islands closest to Turkey, Lesbos has borne much of the brunt of the European migrant crisis that began in 2015. In that year alone, over a million migrants and asylum seekers, fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Greece.

Lesbos has been one of the islands where refugees have been kept in camps for endless months in terrible conditions. Fortunately, the number of refugees has eased but conditions for those who remain there are still simply awful.

We pressed on to Ayvalik but in the meantime the wind had started to increase and the white horses were dashing over the waves so after a quick look round a few of the lovely anchorages of the Ayvalik archipelago we decided to head for the spot that was most sheltered from a northerly blow.

There were white horses were
dashing over the waves
Approaching Ayvalic

We found the perfect spot – an almost landlocked bay called Çamlik Koyu (Paşa Koyu) where there was excellent holding in mud and beautifully sheltered by steep wooded slopes. We had to go through a narrow gap with jagged rocks either side to enter the bay which looked a little hair-raising but was actually fine.

Çamlik Koyu (Paşa Koyu) looked like a safe haven from the low
There were jagged rocks on each side of the narrow entrance
It looked daunting but was actually fine

Once again we found that we had chosen the same anchorage as our friends Liz and Steve from Liberte.

Liberte anchored in Çamlik Koyu (Paşa Koyu)

Liz told us it was market day in Ayvalik so we went off for a look and to restock with fruit and vegetables.

It was Market day in Ayvalik

The old town of Ayvalik was a maze of narrow lanes and finding the market was easier said than done but eventually we made it and were amazed by its size and the variety of goods for sale – everything from clothes to household items as well as wonderful cheeses, fruit and vegetables.

The market had an amazing variety of goods
We were able to stock up on
fruit and vegetables

The following day the girls (Our guest Jackie, Sue from Catabella and I) splashed out on a beach club experience and drank cocktails on the beach while lying on sun beds. It made a nice change!

The girls had a beach club experience
It was very relaxing!

Later on we had an excellent “pot luck dinner” aboard Sunday with the crews of Catabella, Liberte and new friends Barbara and James from Complexity.

Pot luck dinner aboard Sunday

The high winds and choppy seas persisted so the following day we decided to enjoy a land based day and visit the wonderful ancient site of Pergamon.

Arriving at the wonderful ancient
site of Pergamon
Many of the buildings and structures were built on terraces with strong outer walls

The settlement can be traced to prehistoric times and by the time the 1st Century BC rolled round it was described as “the most famous and respected city of Asia Minor”.

This was once described as “the most famous and respected city of Asia Minor”.

This once magnificent city sits high up on a 335 metre (1,100 feet) hill with commanding views to the vast plains below.

The city had commanding views
Amazing how far you could see from
this once imposing city

It was captured by Alexander the Great in 334 BC and established as the capital of the Pergamon Kingdom around the third century BC. It was in this period that buildings such as the palaces, temples and amphitheatre were built.

The views from the hill were breathtaking and it was easy to understand why this majestic city was so important for such a long period.

The views from the hill were breathtaking

The amphitheatre was just spectacular. Capable of seating 10,000 people, the theatre is literally perched on the hillside at an incredibly steep and alarming angle. As a theatre goer in ancient times you would have had to have a strong stomach and not be affected by vertigo!

This amphitheatre was built on an incredibly steep angle – an amazing engineering feat
Theatre goers in ancient times would have had to have a strong stomach and not be
affected by vertigo!

Another highlight were the remains of the library which was renowned for housing more than 200 thousand books during the Hellenistic period.

The library was renowned for housing more than 200 thousand books during
the Hellenistic period
How elegant these buildings must have looked in ancient times
Many of the treasures from this site (and others) were stolen and are now in museums across the world
These would have once had magnificent friezes but they have long since disappeared

We were amazed to learn that during the same period the Greeks constructed a very effective high-pressure water pipeline which rose up to a height of 900 metres, and was 45 km long. The 240,000 ceramic pipes laid up the hillside supplied the city at the top with fresh water from its source below – a miraculous feat!

How amazing to think that all those centuries ago the Greeks constructed a very effective high-pressure water pipeline which travelled up the hill and was 45 kilometres long

The taxi driver who drove us to Pergamon suggested that we take the inland hill-side route home which was absolutely lovely. We went through thickly forested areas with many varieties of pine trees and past mile after mile of wonderful olive groves.

We travelled past mile after mile of olive groves

We were told that the best olive oil comes from this district so we asked the driver if he could stop at an olive oil shop which he did, so we bought oil, olives and a few other goodies to take home.

Sadly, the time had come for Jackie, our temporary crew member from Sydney Australia, to leave Sunday and embark on the next leg of her world trip. On her last day we took a taxi across the connecting road bridge to Alibey Adasi (also known as Cunda Island) where we had a wonderful lunch (thanks Jackie) in a waterfront restaurant.

Travelling over the road bridge to Alibey Adasi (also known as Cunda Island)
Thanks for the lunch Jackie!
Love these windmills- a legacy from the Greek population pre 1923

Waking up the next morning we all felt a bit muggy after a farewell to Jackie night on board Catabella.

John and Sue having a dance on
Jackie’s last night

Fortunately Jackie’s flight from Izmir to Istanbul wasn’t too early so there was plenty of time to drink cups of tea before she stepped sedately into our dinghy for the last time this trip.

Jackie about to step on the dinghy

Hopefully she will be back again one of these days!

Off she goes!
Last wave!

Protected seals, Siren calls and shapes in the sky

We all fell in love with Foça – a gorgeous little fishing village with gracious historical houses, old hill-side windmills, lots of open-air waterside restaurants and the remains of a Genoese medieval castle.

A sculpture reflecting how important
fishing is in Foça
One of the many delightful restaurants in Foça
We liked this cool shady cobbled street
So much colour in this village

Formally a Greek village, until the population exchange of 1923, the village has a rich maritime history and the busy little fisherman’s harbour stands testament to its salty heritage.