A full lockdown began in Turkey on 29 April in an attempt to get Covid cases down before the tourist season begins in earnest. Tonight (Sunday 16 May) we have heard that restrictions will start to be lifted at 5 am tomorrow (Monday).
The aim of the full lockdown was to get cases to around 5,000 a day instead of the almost 62,000 reported on 21 April.
The vaccination program has been going well – on 21 April more than 12.5 million people had received at least their first dose (about 15.4 per cent of the population.)
Now, as we near the end of lockdown, cases have dropped to around 11,400 and over 14.8 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine (18.1 per cent of the population.)
Rather than stay out at anchor during lockdown we decided to go back to Finike Marina as we had various boat jobs to complete and appointments organised.
The lockdown rules said that we could only leave the marina to do food shopping and even then we were, strictly speaking, only allowed to walk to the nearest supermarket. It seemed that even a walk outside of the marina for the purpose of exercise was not allowed.
Fortunately the marina includes four jetties and a reasonably sized area where the offices, shower block and laundry are situated, so we have been able to walk around to get some exercise.
Behind our new mooring spot over near the sea wall the fencing is topped with razor wire so sometimes it feels a bit like we are in a prison exercise yard while we watch people stroll or power walk past to and fro in the mornings and evenings!
The rules around socialising are a bit vague and apply only to residents rather than those on a tourist visa. Basically there is a 24 hour a day curfew but of course, in the marina it appears that there is no expectation that even those with temporary residents cards should stay aboard 24 hours a day. This would be impossible to achieve anyway as we have to use the facilities at the toilet/shower block and visit the office for various reasons, for example to collect mail or parcels.
Some people have refrained from having other people aboard their boats and kept themselves to themselves during this time while others have mixed with others in a reasonably low key way.
It has been the holy month of Ramadan which ended with the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations on 12th May 2021.
This is a time of great joy and is normally marked with huge get togethers, feasting and the giving of gifts to children. The lockdown has meant that many family celebrations have been cancelled throughout Turkey but yesterday (Saturday) around 30 Turkish marina residents and some friends and family held a low key open-air Eid celebration in the community garden.
The past two weeks have gone by quickly. I have been joining two other ladies for a game of scrabble every afternoon and in the last week we have sometimes played a new (to me) game called Rummikub with friends from another catamaran instead.
Early morning yoga has also begun over the last week. I have to admit, arriving for a 7.30 am start has been a challenge for me but I can honestly say I feel so much better which has been a great incentive to get up in time to attend. Since it is probably against lockdown rules I won’t mention the name of the person who has been leading us but all the participants have really enjoyed the sessions and definitely feel the benefits!
In between the yoga and the games sessions, there have been plenty of other things to occupy our time.
Jonathan has done some maintenance such as greasing the anchor windlass, removing and renewing sealant in various spots and other jobs. We have put all our winter clothes away because the weather is now deliciously warm (but not too hot!)
I have been trying out more new recipes and we have both been studying a language on-line ( Jonathan French and me Turkish).
One of the ladies on the dock we were on previously was writing an article for a Turkish yachting magazine and so one day all the occupants from the boats on her dock gathered for a photograph to be taken.
I have continued to take photos of things I see on my walks round the marina that catch my eye – beautiful flowers, yachts named after birds or animals, etc.
One night we had a wonderful birthday celebration for one of our fellow yachties and another evening we had a pizza and film night.
Last weekend was Mother’s Day (a different day to the UK) and I was was wonderfully surprised to receive to big bouquets of flowers and lovely messages from my two beautiful children.
Lockdown has whizzed by and hopefully we will be out of the marina and back at anchor very soon. Unfortunately we have to wait for an oil seal to be delivered for our electronic gangplank (passarelle), a pressure washer that has got stuck somewhere due to the lockdown to be delivered, a credit card and our residency cards that also should have been delivered and for me to be registered to go in the queue for a Covid vaccination (Jonathan is now registered but there’s been a slight complication with mine.)
Hopefully all these items will be ticked off the list quickly so we can once again drop the lines and start enjoying sailing and dropping the anchor in gorgeous spots on the wonderful coast of Turkey.
This week we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on board our very comfortable Lagoon 420 catamaran in Finike Marina, Turkey.
Such a contrast to our tiny (28 foot) traditional cutter rig timber cruising yacht on which we spent our first wedding anniversary in 1987 in Ballina, New South Wales, Australia!
Although there wasn’t room to swing a cat in our little boat we loved it and had some great adventures in her in the Coral Sea, the highlight of which was an extended visit to Papua New Guinea.
In the intervening years we have had some wonderful anniversaries in fabulous places but it was particularly special to be celebrating our 35th on board once again.
Due to Covid lockdown restrictions we couldn’t go out to celebrate so we did the next best thing and ordered a lovely home delivery meal of fresh grilled fish, chips and salad (a loaf of bread came with it too!) – washed down by a very pleasant Turkish wine of course.
Talking of food, we have discovered that the fruit and vegetable shop we found on our first visit to Finike in August last year, not only delivers to the marina but also can buy herbs and other produce not normally found at the local market and shops.
This week he gave me a “menu” of goodies he could procure at the wholesale market in Marmaris and we ordered lots of fresh herbs, some fennel and “American” style capsicums, as well as some of the other “normal” fruit and vegetables.
We have been in Finike for over a month now and have been itching to get out and about and swing at anchor for a while. John and Sue on the catamaran Catabella felt the same way so we planned a short to trip to an idyllic little bay north of Finike called Çineviz Limani.
The day before our departure we heard that Turkey was going into a full lockdown for 17 days in an attempt to decrease the number of Covid cases before the summer season begins. This meant we had to go out for the whole lockdown or for only two days.
Sadly we had appointments and various bits of work scheduled in the following couple of weeks so we had to choose the two-day option.
Leaving the marina at Finike is very simple as one of the marina workers comes alongside in a dinghy to assist you and instruct you if necessary.
As we slid through the water on our way out we passed S/V Catabella as Sue and John dropped their lines.
What a great feeling it was as we motored out of the marina! It was a sparking morning with scarcely a ripple to disturb the glassy surface of the water.
We headed out as far as the fish farm just a short way off shore and then turned north for the four hour trip.
Unfortunately the sail we were looking forward to didn’t eventuate as there was just no wind at all although about an hour before journey’s end we did roll out our foresail hoping to catch the few breaths that had begun to whisper across the water but had to give up and roll it back in fairly quickly.
The coastline in this part of Turkey is rugged, wild and imposing and we enjoyed spotting the many caves in the limestone cliffs – lots of places for pirates to hide!
As we approached Çavuş Burnu to start the approach to our anchorage – Çınevız Limanı we had spectacular views of Mt Olympos (Tahtalı Dağı).
We were fortunate to have such a clear view of the whole mountain as apparently the peak is often covered by clouds, particularly in summer.
After we had settled John and Sue came over for gin and tonics and fish cooked on the barbecue. Lovely!
We couldn’t have been happier with our anchorage. Sunday and Catabella were the only yachts there, the sea was calm, there was no swell, the scenery was fabulous with awe inspiring cliffs dropping sheer into the sea. Bliss!
That night I looked for the full moon – it had been so bright the previous night in the marina but in the dark anchorage it was even more magnificent – a great silver orb reflecting like a lantern on the stillness of the calm seas surrounding us.
This is what you miss staying in a marina – the magic spun by being on your own in an isolated spot where you can feel that the moon is shining just for you!
The following day, after a relaxed start we took our dinghies over to Cirali Limani, the beach where the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Olympos can be found – about two nautical miles from where we were anchored.
Both the guidebook and the sailing pilot were rather lukewarm about the ruins of Olympos (established around the 4th Century BC) saying they were “much overgrown and in a ruinous state” but we were absolutely enchanted!
Yes, the ruins were set amongst overgrown trees but that really added to its charm.
It reminded me a bit of Angkor Wat in Cambodia – a little mysterious and with an atmosphere that made you feel that you might walk along a passage or turn a corner and suddenly find yourself in another time with people in strange clothes and speaking a completely different language.
Definitely a place that sent a few delicious shivers up my spine!
We wandered away from this overgrown and mystical part of ancient Olympos and found ourselves in a paddock full of glorious spring flowers including a mass of vibrant red poppies.
Soon we were amazed to find that we had entered another part of the city – just as intriguing but with a completely different atmosphere.
Here were Roman temples, early Christian Churches and a Bishop’s palace.
All the buildings were in a poor state of repair but the presence of a large crane gave us hope that restoration work was in progress.
The remains of the Roman Temple, such as they were, still enabled us to imagine the grandeur of the front facade of the Roman temple. Built in the first half of the second Century AD, to honour Emperor Hadrian, the temple had an impressive facade made out of cut stone blocks.
After a lovely wander through the ruins we found a small restaurant open only for “takeaways” (due to Covid restrictions) but who allowed us to sit in their garden while they prepared some delicious gozleme for our lunch.
We arrived back to our respective boats and had a couple of hours of relaxation in the beautiful surroundings before a sumptuous roast dinner on Catabella.
We would have loved to stay longer and explore Olympos a little bit more and also try and find the Chimaera at the other end of the beach that we had motored to on our dinghies. The Chimaera consists of two outcrops of volcanic rock where escaping natural gas is permanently alight. Homer described this phenomenon as “a fire breathing monster part lion, part goat and part snake”. I really want to see that!
Alas, lockdown was starting at 6 pm and we had to get back in time to collect the dress, long pants and shorts I was having made by the local dressmaker from fabric I had picked up at the market for less than 10 Australia dollars.
Adalet, the dressmaker, had rustled these up in just a couple of days and we were anxious to pay for them before lockdown as she wouldn’t be earning much, if anything, during the 17 days when everyone was having to stay home.
The journey back to Finike was once again gorgeous with calm seas, no wind and no swell.
The peak of the majestic Mt Olympos was still visible but the lower slopes were encased in a circle of low thick cloud – very atmospheric and a sight that will remain in our memories.
We arrived in good time to go to the dressmakers and stock up on wine (supermarkets are not allowed to sell alcohol during lockdowns) and be back in time for “pre-lockdown drinks” on C-arm with some of our yachting compatriots.
It was so great to get away – even though it was only for two days – as we felt thoroughly rejuvenated and ready to face lockdown with reasonable equanimity.
No dramas or exciting news to report this week so instead I thought I would take you through a typical “Day in the Life” on S/V Sunday in Turkey.
Every morning before the break of dawn (around 4.30am!) the “Azzan” (Call to Prayer) reverberates round the town from the mosque on the hill above the marina.
Often we don’t wake up – even though the call is broadcast at incredible volume over loudspeakers. Sometimes we do “come to” then lie awake until the next call – heralding the sunrise – which happens at around 6am, at which time we finally fall into a fitful sleep for a couple of hours.
At the moment it is Ramadan so I assume that between the two early morning prayer times devout Muslims will eat and drink to prepare for fasting during daylight hours. We on the other hand usually have a long and leisurely breakfast (after a lazy cup of tea reading the news on-line in bed) before starting the day’s activities.
On Tuesdays we go to the massive under cover market (quite often with other yachties) about 20 minutes walk from the marina, on other days we might go into town to shop at one of the stores or the local supermarket.
At the market there always new wonders to marvel at – goats cheese presented in a goatskin carcass “pot”, dried vegetables hung on garlands that remind me of Christmas trees, some mysterious and unrecognisable foodstuff in a bucket or wild herbs on an upturned milk crate.
Weighed down by wonderful fresh fruit and seasonal vegetables we return to our boats to try and find room to store our bounty.
There’s always work to do on the boat whether it’s servicing the engines, fixing “dings” in our gel coat inside or out and always cleaning! Being an AWB (Another White Boat) it is a constant slog keeping Sunday looking reasonably spruce. Every mark shows and with the dreaded red dust from the Sahara still lurking, keeping the decks clean is a major task. Then there’s the stainless steel to polish and the canvas to keep looking good. My approach is to do a little each day and try and keep on top of it. It’s not a great strategy – I think we need a full time cleaner!
Then of course there are the normal household tasks that are the same for everyone wherever they live!
Our very kind Turkish neighbours in the marina brought over some delicious falafel one day this week so I baked a lemon drizzle cake to share with them.
As our oven has no temperature controls (it is either hot or hotter) our baking attempts have been very hit and miss. On this occasion the cake actually rose very well and tasted great even though it was slightly over-browned around the edges!
We sometimes skip lunch if we have had a big breakfast but sometimes we have a salad and always cook a meal in the evenings.
Despite weekend lockdowns and other restrictions life is sociable in the marina. Some people prefer not to go aboard other’s boats but will stop for a (masked) chat as they walk past.
At weekends there used to be a socially distanced BBQ at the marina clubhouse but cooking together has been stopped temporarily due to Covid restrictions. Last weekend a few people met for a beer and a chat.
Each day we work on learning a language – Jonathan is improving his school boy French and I’m trying to learn Turkish. We are both using the Duolingo App which is a fun way to learn.
Often we chat via video call to our adult children and their partners, other family members and friends far and wide. We also keep up email correspondence with family and friends that prefer that method of communication.
Over the last week I have thoroughly enjoyed a daily Scrabble session with Sue on S/V Catabella a few doors away from us. We have also had the pleasure of a couple of nights socialising with Sue and her husband John over a few wines. It was also fantastic to have a great evening catching up with Liz and Steve of S/V Liberte who we first met on the Kalimantan Rally in 2017.
One of the pleasant surprises we have experienced in Turkey is how very palatable and reasonably priced the wine is here. We have found some firm favourites and are keen to keep finding more!
Most days we try to go for a walk – at the weekends when we are in lockdown it would probably be just round the marina but on a typical weekday it could be round the foreshore to the mouth of the harbour or a longer stroll along the beachfront.
Of course there is always something new to see – the flash of a kingfisher (my favourite bird I think) or a beautiful view; a gorgeous tree or the comical antics of some young ducks.
On the first day of Ramadan we received the fright of our lives! Just as the Call to Prayer started at sunset there was an enormous explosion. It sounded as though a bomb had gone off! Our lovely Turkish neighbours laughed as we ran out to see what had happened and they explained the explosion was just a signal to the people in Finike that they could break their fast. Traditionally a cannon is fired but here the enormous bang seems to be made by a “whiz bang” rocket. The explosion never fails to make me jump – even though I’m expecting it – much to the amusement of our neighbours!
At least once a week I try to cook a new recipe – mostly trying to increase my repertoire of appealing vegetarian dishes.
This week it was a great choice – red pepper (capsicum), tomato and bulgur wheat tray bake with feta cheese from my sister Sarah’s second family cookbook. It was delicious!
The day usually closes with watching a movie or a couple of episodes from a TV series or reading one of many books we have purchased and stored electronically.
And so ends another day of living on the marina in Finike, Turkey.
Anxiety levels during the time of Covid are high even amongst the most fortunate of us.
Jonathan and I feel exceptionally blessed to be on our boat in beautiful and fascinating Turkey. This week we feel doubly so, thanks to some generous and warmly given assistance we have received here in Finike with our application for a 12-month temporary residents visa.
Thanks first to Samet of Finike Yachting Shipping Agency who, after our unsuccessful attempt at making the initial on-line application, efficiently executed the process in just a few minutes and then magically had an appointment booked with the Turkish Immigration Department organised for just a few days later.
Samet then took us to Tarik’s car hire office and organised our transport. He also accompanied us to the Finike Marina Office to request an original copy of our marina contract.
To be honest after hearing from other yachties about having to get documents translated and the need to move between government departments in different parts of town, I felt quite anxious and wasn’t looking forward to this process at all.
It was therefore so helpful to have Samut’s advice and knowledge of exactly what the Immigration Office required. He just took all the stress away from getting everything organised!
The day before we were to travel to Kemer for our appointment we heard that we would need to take a pink file to Immigration for all our documentation. We were reminded instantly of our disastrous attempts to find pink files on the island of Belitung in Indonesia when we were trying to extend our visas there. There wasn’t a pink folder to to be had anywhere on the island! In the end, we and our friends from S/V Yantara arrived with orange ones (being the nearest to pink we could find!) and despite their protests, the Immigration officials did allow us to use them!
Just before we started to head for the shops in Finike to search for pink files we received a visit from Seda who works at Tarik’s car hire/tourism company.
She asked us to bring our passports and a list of other documents to the office just outside the marina so Tarik, the owner, could check we had everything required. I went to the office with Seda and was surprised but delighted to see that they had very thoughtfully provided us with the necessary pink files.
They checked all of our documents, took photo copies and arranged each one in the correct order in the file. Finally Tarik reminded me to bring the originals of all our documents and to be at the end of our dock at 8.40am where he would be waiting to drive us to Kemer – just over an hour’s drive along the coast from Finike.
The whole process on the day went extremely smoothly thanks to Tarik who drove us there and walked us to the Immigration Office from the car park. He then drove us on to the Taxation Office and even went in to pay the fees on our behalf.
We were driven back to the Immigration office to show the proof of payment and were issued with a receipt and even given our Visa numbers so we could organise (after a six-day wait) our Covid vaccinations without waiting for our official “Ikamet” (residency) cards to arrive.
We feel so grateful to Turkey for allowing us to stay as temporary residents in the country during these difficult times, especially as it’s virtually impossible to go back to our “home” country of Australia.
Flights to Australia are prohibitively expensive (think many thousands of dollars) if you can get on one that is. This, combined with the strong likelihood of flight cancellations and with two-weeks quarantine in a hotel at your own cost, has made our return problematical to say the least.
It is so comforting knowing that we have the certainty of having somewhere we can stay in our floating home for the immediate future.
Huge thanks to Samet, Tarik (and Seda) for all their assistance. Other than paying for the car hire we were given all this invaluable help and support without any charge. We are so grateful!
Another highlight of the week was a lovely pot luck dinner with Catie and Michael from S/V Alyse and Giles and Julia from S/V Elisabeth.
A visit from the beautiful (and massive) resident turtle in the marina was also exciting . What a magnificent creature!
We have explored Finike a little more, watched the snow slowly beginning to melt on distant mountains, and had more encounters with the friendly marina dogs.
Cemal (Jamal), the technical manager at the marina and the hydraulic engineer came to look at our passarelle (gangplank) which is leaking hydraulic fluid.
We also enjoyed going to the massive Tuesday market with Heather and Robert from S/V Amorgos Blue and Cate. We bought lots of delicious things to enjoy through the week.
A stroll round the streets of Kaleköy (literally, Castle village) in the stunning enclosed bay of Kekova Roads, in Turkey, was a must before the dinghy trip back to our catamaran Sunday.
We had just eaten our first meal out in a restaurant since December (and that was the first since the previous August) due to Covid restrictions. It felt ridiculously good!
Feeling rather full we decided not to go all the way to the castle (more of a fort than a full-on castle) but we had a lovely wander round the village which clings to the hillside below.
Back on board Sunday we had an unexpected “flying” visit from David and Jaynee aboard Adventurous who were on their way to join their travel buddies on Imagine 2 – already anchored over the other side of Üçağız.
The next morning dawned still and warm and we had our first outside breakfast of the season which was really wonderful.
At around 9 am we decided to haul the anchor and start our three hour trip to Finike marina.
At first the anchor seemed to be coming up fine but soon it became apparent that we were very stuck. Had we become tangled up on a rock? Or had we snagged something on the ocean bed?
After a bit of manoeuvring to see if we could disengage whatever we were caught on we decided that we needed to find out our exactly what we were up against.
Slowly, slowly we pulled up the chain in tiny increments to avoid stressing our anchor winch. Soon the anchor was near the surface and we could see what had happened. It was caught on what appeared to be a massive disused mooring chain. It was incredibly heavy!
How were we going to get it off? Drastic action was needed or we would be stuck in Kekova Roads for ever!
We needed to tip the anchor somehow to get the massive chain to slide off. Captain Birdseye cleverly managed to thread a rope through the “loop” of the anchor using the boat hook. What next though? We obviously couldn’t use the anchor winch to tip the anchor on its side. We then hit upon the idea of tying the rope off on the cleat on the starboard bow so the anchor was held in position and as soon as we loosened it off it tipped and the huge chain slid back off into the water and we were free!
Soon we were gliding along towards Finike where we were planning to stay for at least a month while we apply for a one year residency visa, look into the possibility of getting a Covid vaccination, make dental appointments, get a few boat jobs done and do some land travel.
As with the Kas-Kekova Roads leg there was no wind so we just switched on the engines and enjoyed the passing scenery – rock formations, the remains of earthquake-ruined ancient buildings and the village of Kaleköy with the fortress rising magnificently high above.
Nestled snugly in a small bay we saw the superyacht M/V Never Say Never which apparently you can hire for a mere 6,000 euros a day!
The three-hour trip passed quickly and soon we were radioing Finike Marina to let them know of our approach.
Our call was answered immediately and in no time at all we were being guided into the marina by two staff members in a dinghy.
Everything went very smoothly and we were soon tied up and ready to check in. As we have signed a year’s contract with Setur Marinas in Finike we are able to stay in Finike at any time within that timeframe without any extra payment.
Although we prefer to be anchored out it is great to know that we can also stay up to one month in any of the nine other Setur marinas for a total of four weeks each. An excellent thing if we need to leave the boat to visit family (Covid permitting), go land travelling or family and friends visit us. No more luggage transfers by dinghy!
After a warm welcome from Marina manager Barbaros and his staff at reception we wandered round to get our bearings and on the way acquainted ourselves with the marina dogs Emma ( just one year old and an affectionate and playful little dog) and the sweet, deaf but perky, 15 year -old Paspas (Turkish for Mop).
That day and the day after, several people stopped at our boat to say “hello”. However, it was very difficult to see who they were as of course their faces were covered by a mask and often a hat too. It was a case of “guess the guest”.
Amazing what a small world it is – especially in yachting circles – one of our “callers” was Liz Colman from S/V Liberte who we last saw several years ago in the remote Andaman Islands. Others we had met more recently last year in Turkey. It is always such a delight to reconnect with people no matter how long you have known them or when you last met!
Donna from Intrepid Kiwi, who we met along with Ross last year very briefly in Gocek, kindly offered to take us on a bit of a tour round town, along with another recent arrival to Finike, Heather, from S/V Amorgos Blue.
Donna took us to three department stores (supermarkets that also sell everything from pots and pans to furniture), to hardware street (browsing heaven for Jonathan) and many other shops (my favourites were reminiscent of shops from my childhood that were “old fashioned” even then) and other various points of interest.
When we had our first and very quick visit to Finike last August we had found a fabulous baker’s shop where delicious bread of all kinds is made in a wood fired oven. So we were able to show Donna and Heather this wonderful place and of course we all purchased supplies to take back to our boats.
The bakers is at one end of short covered laneway and the rest of the space is taken up with a fishmongers and a cafe/restaurant. Having walked our feet off we decided to take the weight off and have a hot drink. Two of us had delicious cappuccinos and the other two had çay – one “normal” and the other herbal, also declared “very good”.
When we arrived in the marina we saw that the bowl at the bottom of the machine installed by a pet food company on the dock was empty. We all put one Turkish Lire (about 15 cents Australian or 10 Euro Cents) in the slot and for each coin a handful of dried animal food was delivered to the bowl. Such a great idea to feed the many local homeless cats and dogs!
Before going back to our boats we called into the boatyard to meet Donna’s delightful rescue kittens Huey and Louie. As we entered the yard Donna called out to them and they came scampering up, jumping like dogs trying to get picked up by her.
During the week we caught up on all the normal “housework” as well as a few boat “projects” such as re-doing some old sealant in the galley that did not reach Capt’n Birdseye’s (or my) standards. He also did a great job replacing bathroom taps that had tarnished over the years with brand new shiny ones!
One afternoon I wandered down our dock to say hello to Australians Jill and Shelley on S/V Eucalyptus. I had “met” Jill on an non-sailing related Facebook page (any other Chat 10 Looks 3 members out there?) so it was great to meet at last.
As the week wore on we met a quite a number of Finike marina residents – most of who had wintered over there but some newer arrivals too.
At a Friday night dock party we met a crowd of new people, amongst them were Roland and Dagmar a German/Swiss couple with three children. Roland very gallantly offered to go up our mast to fix the anchor light which had recently stopped working.
When he got up there he found a loose connection and was able to fix it straight away which was absolutely fantastic!
One of the absolute highlights of the week was a delightful visit from a rare Mediterranean monk seal. Apparently the population of this breed is estimated at less than 700 in the world and a group of around 100 of them live on the coastline of Turkey.
We were really fortunate to see this gorgeous creature especially as – after sunning itself some way from the dock and boats – it slowly swam right up to Sunday and came to literally an arm’s length away from me! After spending some minutes with me the seal swam sedately out of the marina.
We had a lovely last weekend in Kas with the crew of Polykandros, starting with a wonderful picnic in the grounds of the small Hellenistic theatre just outside the town.
To get there we first took the dinghy to the very wobbly jetty near a fisherman’s ramshackle hut. We scrambled up the slope, skirting past the very noisy cockerel who was defending “his girls” by puffing out his feathers and crowing at the top of his voice while the hens pottered about scratching at the earth – totally unconcerned.
At the top of the slope we crossed over the road and found one of the paths that criss cross the hill which rises above the anchorage. As we walked we saw the remains of (more) ancient Lycian tombs, lots of very old and knarled olive trees and a huge array of glorious wild flowers. Spring has definitely sprung in Turkey!
At the theatre we were introduced to fellow yachties Yvette and Martin and their son Jason from S/V Pisces 2. They had recently been in Finike Marina but first met the Whittaker family in Athens, at the Alimos Marina, shortly after we had escaped lockdown there, last June.
Later that day we had a last evening with the Polykandros crew. Fortunately the weather was very calm, unlike during the previous week, and we were able to sit outside and enjoy watching the almost full moon rise over the hills.
The following day was departure day for both boats but sadly in completely different directions. Polykandros was heading up the coast towards Fetiye while Sunday was going the other way, making for the Setur Marina in Fineke.
The morning was absolutely still – not a ripple in the water nor the slightest whisper of a breeze – so still in fact, that the yachts in the marina and the hills behind were perfectly reflected in the water. It was stunningly beautiful.
Luca had left his cap on board the previous night so we arranged to hand it over to him on our boat hook as Polykandros made a farewell “lap of honour” round Sunday.
It was really sad to say goodbye again so quickly but we will catch up again for sure.
Later that day we also hauled anchor and left for the short three-hour trip to Kekova Roads – approximately the half way point to Finike.
We hadn’t been out on the water for more than 15 minutes before we were stopped by the Coastguard (border control) boat.
It was a little unnerving waiting for the officers to give us the OK to leave. Had we transgressed a new rule? Were we on some kind of “banned” list? After checking our passports, ship’s papers and our transit log and spending an inordinate time on the phone checking with who knows what government department, we were sent on our way but not before a vital piece of paper came loose from the folder and blew away!
“Man overboard” I cried and while Capt’n Birdseye quickly untied the rope holding the coastguard’s boat, I kept my eyes trained on the errant piece of paper. Fortunately the coastguards were able to retrieve it and it was soon drying on our draining board!
We had a very pleasant motor to Kekova Roads – there wasn’t a breath of wind so we didn’t bother getting sails up.
Arriving back at Kokova was such a pleasure- we had last been there almost seven months ago and at that time this lovely spot had been very busy with lots of gulets and other tourist boats, cruising yachts and charter vessels.
This time as we motored past Kokova island through one of the three entrances to this glorious and enormous fiord-like bay, we saw just one solitary fishing boat – such magic!
Under leaden skies we meandered along – past rocky islets with ruins on them, random craggy rocks and then the commanding Byzantine Castle built high up on a hill to fight pirates!
We entered the anchorage outside the little village of Üçağız through the all-important port and starboard markers. There are so many rocks lurking under the water that much caution has to be taken!
Safely anchored opposite the remains of what was once the ancient Lycian port town of Teimiussa, we were visited by another couple of Coastguards who once again wanted to examine our paperwork and made more phone calls.
The chief pointed to our Turkish courtesy flag and shook his head tut-tutting. “New, you need new”. We looked up and sheepishly agreed. It was looking very faded and rather tatty!
That night we enjoyed a long sundowner while we watched the full moon rise in all its glory.
It felt really good to be tying up at the wonderful fish restaurant on the quayside of Üçağız belonging to Hassan although sadly it was all closed up and none of the family appeared to be around.
Wandering through the tiny streets it was a pleasure to see the village hadn’t been spoilt like so many others have by the growth in tourism. Sure, there were some restaurants and guest houses but nothing has been built to spoil the charming rustic character of the place.
It was surprising to see how many ancient tombs were dotted around the village – often used as shelters for the local chickens and others just occupying random spots in the car park, people’s gardens and in laneways.
Before long, we had come to the end of the “modern” village and following a pathway that went cheek by jowl to the front door of the last cottage, we found our way to the ruins of Teimiussa.
Apparently very little is known about these ruins but inscriptions on the tombs indicate they could date back as far as the 4th century BC.
There are ruins of a necropolis, but no city walls or other major structures – possibly these could have been damaged by earthquakes and just slipped into the sea.
The tombs are absolutely magnificent – made from local limestone, many have been carved into the cliffs but others have been carefully placed on site with stone wedges to level them up. Without exception, these tombs have been robbed – this must have been a problem even in the ancient times, since many of the tomb inscriptions are apparently curses against desecrators!
It was poignant to see the holes ruthlessly bashed into the sides of tombs and lids “dangling” half on and half off with just enough room for a robber to reach in and snatch jewellery and other precious items belonging to the long dead.
The day was still young so we made our way back through the village and hopped aboard our dinghy for a little ride around.
The good captain suggested that we should go for lunch in the village of Kaleköy so we puttered over to the small harbour that lies in the shadow of the castle fortress.
There was only one restaurant open so that’s where we went!
This was the first proper meal out for months (because of Covid lockdowns) so we really enjoyed ourselves. It felt like such luxury to be eating at a table in the sun, with a crisp cotton tablecloth and an ice cold beer (our first this year!) in frosty glasses straight from the fridge.
Calamari, hand cut chips and a beautiful salad never tasted so good!
It was an eventful few days! Some great things, some not so great.
On Sunday we entertained aboard S/V Sunday for the first time in seven months – one of the good things that happened!
Our guests were the crews from Polykandros (who we spent three months in lockdown with at Alimos Marina, Athens) and A B Sea who we met only recently at Kas marina.
By coincidence (but not entirely surprising as the live-aboard yachting community is a very small world) the Whittakers from Polykandros and Aannsha and Baz from A B Sea already knew each other so it was a very cosy and enjoyable night.
Just as everyone was leaving, the weather suddenly started to change for the worse. Fortunately everyone got back to their boats safely but as the night drew on it became quite nasty with winds blowing up hard. Definitely one of the not so great things that happened.
Soon after they arrived back the crew on Polykandros had to reanchor as they were stretched out on their anchor chain and were perilously near rocks. By this time the wind was really howling and the weather and darkness made reanchoring very challenging.
We stayed up on anchor watch until 1.30 am but went to bed with our iPad open at an anchor watch app and slept fitfully for a few hours.
At 4.30am we were woken up by the sound of roaring like an express train – the wind was now raging at 50 knots, gusting at 70 knots. The noise was really quite scary. Around 5.30 a big gust seemed to take us rather too close for comfort to another yacht on a fixed mooring so we hoisted our anchor and moved to a spot far away from other boats or any other hazards!
We were safely reanchored just as the dawn call to prayer boomed out on the crackly sound system belonging to the main mosque. I have never before been so glad to hear this call signalling that the sun was about to come up!
We stayed on board all of the next day and reanchored again in a better and more comfortable spot as more wild weather was predicted. Fortunately that night, although windy, it was not nearly so bad as the previous one – although we did wake up a couple of times when a “bullet” went through.
The following morning the sky looked extremely threatening – massive and angry looking clouds with a distinct reddish tinge were building above the hills surrounding Kas.
Having just cleaned the decks from the last red dust rainfall we weren’t looking forward to seeing what was about to eventuate.
Then the skies opened spreading sticky red dust all over the boat. The red sand had been carried on the wind all the way from the Sahara Desert. This fall was much worse than the last one!
Not only did it stain everything it landed on, the red sand apparently also carried various poisonous substances we didn’t like the sound of including lead, zinc, chromium, vanadium, arsenic and nickel! Not exactly cool refreshing rain!
We had to cancel our dinner date aboard Polykandros that night as it was just too risky. The normally smooth calm waters were whipped into a frenzy every time the wind blew up and we didn’t want to get in the dinghy in that sort of weather.
The following day we had a very pleasant morning tea on Polykandros – the Whittaker’s had moved to the marina for a few days to recover from their terrible night during the first storm.
Later that day we started the clean up from the “red rain”. Arghh what a mess!
We had a lovely time at the Friday markets with the Whittakers – it was great having helpers to pick out the eggs and choose the best looking strawberries.
While at the market we met an interesting dive boat captain at one of the vegetable stalls. His name was Levant and he gave us the recipe for a delicious soup called Tamini with fresh garlic, celeriac, leeks and mange tout (snow peas). Or maybe his name was Tamini and he came from Levant or perhaps that was the soup? Anyway, I have now made it and it was really delicious (I added a good squirt of lemon juice, a stock cube and some noodles!)
That afternoon Luca and Nina came over to Sunday to have their first drawing class with Jonathan since we left them in Athens. Luca did some amazing cartoons while Nina and Jonathan concentrated hard on drawing one of our “grand ducks” from our grandpet calendar made by our daughter-in-law Sarah in Brisbane, Australia.
Once again the wind blew up suddenly around 6 pm just as Jonathan was about to drop Luca and Nina back to Polykandros (who was now at anchor once again). We were a bit concerned that they might be frightened but they seemed to relish the rocky ride home.
Later that evening the sea calmed down and a beautiful full moon rose. A lovely end to a mixed bag of good and bad over the previous few days!
Back on the boat again we spent a week settling back into the rhythm of life on board. The days were filled with reorganising everything – finding homes for winter clothes, rearranging linen and towels, restocking the pantry, reinstalling the water maker, getting the sails back on, scrubbing the decks and fenders, cleaning and reinstalling the outside window covers and catching up with washing and “indoor” housework.
The beautiful mild weather we had been enjoying during the first week here in the delightful harbour town of Kas, Turkey, had turned to much cooler weather with high winds and lots of rain, interspersed with occasional sunny spells.
We were fortunate to be moored on Arm C of the marina. – very close to the supermarket which was very handy as there were quite a lot of heavy items that we needed to restock.
The downside of being at the end of this particular arm was that it was in direct line with a vicious wave pattern whipped up by the high winds that caused Sunday – a Lagoon 420 catamaran – to pitch and twist on her lines.
The first night that Sunday was in the marina we stayed in the apartment that we had hired and the following morning we arrived to find some marina employees hard at work making repairs to the decking on our arm. It seems the bucking and twisting on Sunday’s lines had caused a couple of bolts to sheer overnight. It sure was rough on the end of “C” arm!
We had to rearrange our lines and add a couple more to provide more stability and stop Sunday moving around quite so strenuously.
Having recently stayed quite a few months on and off with our daughter and son-in-law who follow a plant based diet made us think more about trying to eat much less meat in our diet. This has meant all my go-to meat based staple meals had to go and I needed to establish a new repertoire.
So I have introduced meals for the winter months such as vegetarian versions of Chilli Con Carne, Shepherds Pie and South Indian Coconut Curry and also added new recipes like Turkish style Ratatouille and Almond, Aubergine and cauliflower Balti. All highly delicious, nutritious and easy to make. Plus we have enjoyed the new textures and flavours. Each week I will be trialling a few new recipes to see how we like them.
Once again we loaded up with vegetables, fruit, eggs, fresh herbs and lovely spices at the Friday markets and even bought a wooden pestle and mortar to crush spices with. Of course we stopped for Gozleme – cheese and spinach and banana and honey this time – delicious!
Between food shopping and boat jobs we also had some great walks around the town – revisiting places we had discovered previously as well as visiting an ancient temple (the original building was 1st century AD and later additions were from the 3rd Century) for the first time.
We also wandered along the waterfront where industrious workers were preparing restaurants and cafes for the forthcoming season (Covid permitting).
A little over a week after being splashed it was time to leave the marina and anchor out just a few hundred metres away in the little anchorage near the boatyard.
The marina deck staff were very helpful untying us and our departure went extremely smoothly.
Fortunately the weather had settled down for the time being and it felt great to be at anchor again.
We were excited to hear from Silke and Tim Whittaker from S/V Polykandros that they were arriving in Kas on Saturday 20th March.
The last time we had seen the Whittaker family was the day we left Athens Marina on 1 June 2020 after spending the whole of our three month lockdown together in Alimos Marina.
Having spent a lot of time with each other – sharing meals, doing art classes, playing games, swapping movies, working (unsuccessfully) to get our Greek visas extended and generally keeping each other’s spirits up during those difficult days of the first Covid lockdown – we had become very close so we were very much looking forward to seeing each other again.
Last Saturday Polykandros came into view. Before they had come alongside Sunday to say “hi” their beautiful little dog Lucy let out a big yelp of excitement and started running up and down Polykandros barking joyously!
We were amazed that after almost nine months she not only remembered us but was also so pleased to be reunited!
Soon after they were settled at anchor the Polykandros crew lowered their dinghy and came over to “Sunday”. It was such a wonderful reunion!
Later, while Tim and Silke went to do some much needed shopping for fresh provisions we went for a great stroll with Luca, Nina and Lucy.
We walked up the hill away from town and around the coast to see the delightfully small but beautiful Hellenistic theatre (built in the 1st Century BC) that seated 4,000 people and has wonderful views over the Mediterranean Sea.
It was such a great feeling to be sitting at a cafe in the lovely harbour town of Kas in Turkey about to bite into our first tavuk şiş (chicken kebab).
We felt so grateful to Turkey for allowing us in and to the Netherlands for letting us go in these difficult times with Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Apart from a lovely pub lunch in December with Jonathan’s brother and his partner when we were in England briefly for a visa run, this was the first time we had sat down for a meal in a cafe or restaurant for at least six months! Turkey had just changed its guidelines allowing restaurants and cafes to open but at only 50 per cent capacity.
We were staying in a very pleasant apartment while we worked on getting the boat ready to launch after her winter’s rest on the hard standing at Kas marina.
There were lots of jobs to do as we had stripped everything that could be moved off the deck space in order to protect them from the UV, wind and rain.
While we were away we had some covers made for the winches and one for the passarelle (electronic gang plank). We were very pleased with the results.
The boat looked in good shape and we were very happy to see that she looked very clean (we had paid for the decks to be washed in time for our arrival.)
Infuriatingly a couple of days after we arrived the wind and rain swirled round dropping copious amounts of red dust from the Sahara desert. It took days of work to get rid of it!
Meanwhile we enjoyed the walk to the marina from the apartment every day, meeting the local cats, dogs and chickens on the way and each day noticing something new and surprising to appreciate.
One such discovery was the site of the Friday market – a big open space in front of some new apartments. We were delighted with this discovery and when market day came around we of course went to have a look.
It was a fantastic market with heaps of wonderful locally grown fruit and vegetables as well as interesting shiny kitchen implements, colourful Turkish carpets, fragrant spice stalls and stalls selling delicious olives and cheese.
There were also clothes and shoes on sale as well as hardware, tools and various household items. Our favourite was the goat bell stall!
Best of all there were a couple of stalls making gözleme – those yummy stuffed pancake-like dishes -made in the traditional way in a massive hot plate and using a very thin and long rolling pin to ensure the “pancake” cooks in a perfect circle.
Back at the boatyard, the last bits of work were underway on Sunday before we “splashed” her.
Primer was applied to the bottom of her hull, the propellers were removed and painted with special paint to keep molluscs from camping on them and the sail drives were serviced and had an oil change. A through hull fitting from what had been a skipper’s toilet was sealed and secured. Then the final coat of anti foul was painted on and she was ready to go!
We had to move apartments during this time for the last two days on land as we needed an extra couple of days and our apartment wasn’t available but we didn’t have far to go – just one flight of stairs up!
We named it the Eyrie as it was right at the top of the little block of apartments but despite the stairs we really like it for it’s sloping ceilings and glorious views.
Fortunately, every day when we walked down to the marina we had taken a portion of the 80kg of luggage we had brought from the Netherlands. On the final day we just had a few things and our food to take with us.
On launch day the wind had started to blow up so it was decided to wait until the following day for safety’s sake. We were very glad we had booked the extra days in the apartment.
Finally the splash day arrived and the lumbering giant of a travel lift moved her from her resting place and placed her gently in the water.
The whole process went very well, our engines started first time and nothing leaked! Soon we were being assisted into our berth on dock C at the marina. It was a very smooth process as the two marina workers assisting us were very capable and clear in their instructions.
Soon we were tied up and settled and back doing some of the “settling tasks “ such as blowing up the dinghy and attaching it to the davits.
It felt so good to be in the water again – preparing for further adventures and with the prospect of more “Salty Tales” to be discovered.
One of the positive things about Covid restrictions is that we have made the most of every opportunity to celebrate life. Normally we would probably allow Valentines Day to drift by unnoticed but this year we got out the bunting and decorated the house and then ordered a delicious take away gourmet meal. It was such a treat and great fun!
We were back staying with our daughter Hannah and her husband Pieter in the Netherlands while we prepared to return to our catamaran Sunday in Kaş, Turkey.