Thursday, July 02, 2009

Turkeys West Coast 2009 (1)

- Part 1

Photo: one of the many noisy gullets we encounter

There has been a noticeable gap in our blogging - excuses range from prepping to detach ourselves from the marina at Marmaris after almost 7 months, to having been on the move to get north before the strong northerly summer winds ("meltemis" ) start to blow. However, those of you who follow our blogs regularly will note that excuses are nothing new - but are becoming more creative…

But we did finally make it off the dock and onto the hook and have been sailing northwards along Turkey's coast for over a month now, slowly, stopping at more interesting places. We have anchored in some spectacular places - high mountains , crystal clear waters which are warm enough to swim in (and we do so every day) and off interesting towns with interesting ruins. A bonus for us so far: fewer charter boats and cruisers to crowd the anchorages, possibly a consequence of the economic crunch.

Photo: Deborah and her Kahn
It was a very pleasant spring - April had many days of 20 - 23 degrees, a little rain but no cold temperatures. Turkey is renown for fresh fruits and vegetables and the seasonal produce we have been buying at local markets is excellent: strawberries, cherries, apricots, a hard green "plum" eaten with salt, fresh garlic bulbs, green onions and fresh herbs (parsley, mint and dill particularly) citrus fruits and of course tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes. Prices are a fraction of what they are in Canada and New Zealand. A region not far from Marmaris has three growing seasons within one year and we benefited from that at the Thursday and Sunday markets all winter long.

Photo: at anchor off Mersıncik
This summer, “the plan” is to simply enjoy relaxed a cruise around Turkey - in particular the south and west coasts which have quite incredible scenery. We have grown to love Turkey, the friendly Turkish people, the wild country and the cheap, safe living here. We intend not to sail the long mileages we have the last four summers as there is so much to see in this country. Although the Greek Aegean islands are at our fingertips it is a lot of bother (and expense) checking in and out of Turkey and Greece so we will probably not visit many Greek islands this summer - at least “legally“.

Photo: the town of Turkbuku
There a few negatives: certainly we are not looking forward to the heat that is coming - there will be many hours spent in the Med’s salty water cooling down. The mosquito netting is already up at nights and the mast seems to attract cicadas. We encounter many "gulets" - a type of tourist-cruise boat, wooden, traditional-style, that tie up stern-to-shore in the anchorages beside us and immediately turn up the music and party all night long. So all is not all entirely peaceful...

Photo: shoeshine man - stıll lots of busıness for them
The first few anchorages we enjoyed after leaving Marmaris were those of the bays of Ciftlik, Datca, Mersincik, Yalikavic and Turkbuku, sometimes with a small town ashore and sometimes nothing much at all, although the remotest had at least a restaurant ashore. The place names may not mean a lot to you as reader unless you have visited Turkey or want to check them out on Google Earth for the satellite photos, so for that reason we gloss over the detail of many of them.

The prevailing summer winds are northerlies which makes it difficult to travel north, but easy to find sheltered anchorages. However, when the southerlies blow, yes, we can move north without beating into headwinds but there are actually very few sheltered places on the northern coastlines. Bit of catch 22. Many anchorages are quite deep and the practice of tying the stern ashore with a long line (to reduce swinging and dragging into deeper water) is one we would rather avoid - particularly in gusty conditions. The last time we tied ashore we chafed through our brand new stern line. Photo: A statue of the much revered Kemal Ataturk - every town has one
At Altinkum another Canadian sailboat named Chinook anchored beside us for the night, but the biggest coincidence was the skipper’s name was also Brian! We spent an illegal night on the Greek island of Samos (did not go ashore though and were ready to plead “emergency!“) next to our friends John and Mo Walker on Fuga and near Tony on Red Marlin whom we have also met up with twice more (unplanned). Three nights were spent off the ruins of ancient Teos with a long hot walk into the town 3 kilometres distant. Photo: flırtıng with the Sultans lion at CesmeWe hid out from a week-long blow at Alicati which is billed as the windsurfing capital of Europe (really) with hundreds of windsurfers in near proximity to our anchor spot. Seven further nights in the marina there firmed our resolve to avoid marina stays if possible, but after leaving Alicati we did stop off at the unfinished Cesme Marina (no facilities but half-price cost) for the next night to visit the town and castle (1504). Cesme is renown for its naval base in the 1700’s and the defeat by the Russians in 1770 of the Ottoman fleet. The sea battles were depicted by a Russian painter and a dozen of the very large originals are in the castle museum.
Photos: windsurfıng school and old wındmılls at Alicati - consıstently the wındıest place ın Turkey. Note the wınd farm ın the surfers bay - nearly 50 turbınes.
Canak Bay was next, then Ayvalik (the marina for 2 nights to hide from some stormy weather which never quite arrived) and then to a sweet little anchorage a short bus ride out of town, where we are presently sitting. Another Canadian boat is near us (Bokra), also two American boats (Interlude and Southern Cross) and Tony on Red Marlin - again coincidentally.

Turkey has a fishing culture (rather than an industry) and a variety of fresh fish are easily purchased. Many fish farms are dotted around the coastlines - as well as mussel farms. We both very much enjoy fresh mussels whenever we can get them - delicious done in butter and olive oil with garlic, parsley, dill and perhaps a little balsamic vinegar on the side to dip them in.

From our present spot we will venture only another 50 n.miles north (we have already sailed 350) before slowly drifting south again stopping at all the places we missed on our way. The south coast of Turkey is on the agenda for the late summer and autumn - some of the best places to come. A day “pilgrimage” to the Anzac fields at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles (by bus) is planned from our furthest port north.

Photo: the wıshıng tree above the anchorage at Ayvalik - whıte ribbons tied on for luck

Photo: one of the streets ın Ayvalik