Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turkeys West Coast (2)


Photo: Deborah with our favourite "fruit lady" in Bademli

Our last blog was written mid-July, from Pasa Bay just south of Ayvalik and since then we have ventured a little further north and then began the trek south - this time with winds to sail and the promise of revisiting some of the places we had briefly stopped at on the northward journey.

Photo: Cesme Castle from the marina

The bay of Sivrice was our furthermost northern anchorage for five nights - a small holiday village south of the Dardanelles. The fruit and vegetable truck came through town (the one and only street) daily and the fresh fish truck was regular in the afternoons. Apart from that the two stores along the waterfront had limited provisions and so it was finally the need for tank water (not drinking water as that can be purchased anywhere) that sent us back to Ayvalik Marina to ‘tank up‘. Also, being able to leave Chinook safely for the night in the Marina enabled us to take the ferry to the Greek island of Lesvos to renew our Turkish visas - good for another 90 days.
On the way back we had stopped at Akcay (one night) and Poroselene Bays (two nights). We found Akcay had nothing to recommend it, while Poroselene was a barren island but starkly beautiful. Again with clear warm water.
The town of Alibey, not far from Ayvalik was well worth the stop for seven nights - at anchor just off the town. A holiday place for Turks basically, with many fish restaurants and good provisioning in Ayvalik, a short bus ride away. The gullet processionals - out in the mornings at ten and back again at five was quite the circus especially when their anchor chains became entangled.

From Alibey we stopped at Bademli for two nights with the resolve to return there after the forecasted meltemi had passed. We spent the meltemi anchored off Candarli (not far away, but very protected), and blow it did, hard, for six nights. Candarli was a quiet town and another holiday place for Turks - few foreign tourists and very few yachts.
Photo: the local water supply - every town has several

We called Bademli the Bahamas. If there had been coconut palms instead of olive trees it would be hard to tell the difference. Clear, amazingly turquoise water (although little beach sand). We stayed seven nights. The two km walk into the typical Turkish town (locals only, no tourists there) was a hot stretch (we did hitch one ride from a local) and in the village were able to get most provisions including fresh fish. Surprisingly few other boats came and went, chartered or cruisers, although we met up with the NZ boat, The Nora J whom we had met in Ayvalik. 

Photo: Inside a mosque school; Deborah had a tour.

Further south again to Eskifoca where we spent six nights. A very strong catabatic night wind is set up by the surrounding mountains and around 10 p.m. it whistles down into the bay. The first night we had ventured into town to look around (very touristy - again, for Turks) and shortly after returning to Chinook we began dragging our anchor into deeper water. This was the first time for five years we had dragged and the first time with the bulwagga anchor, which always sets first time. The “bull” had set, but through the weed into gravel and it simply pulled the weed out of the gravel. We defy any anchor to remain set in gravel in a blow! We re-anchored, put out more chain and took turns on watch for the rest of the night.

The next morning we decided to use the new marina which was still under construction and “free”. We were “helped” to the dock by a young man who did not know any better, tied us too soon, breaking a bobstay when we hit the concrete wall. An hour later, an official-looking character came along with a receipt book (the receipt book made him look official - not his actual appearance) and charged us 20 lira a night to be there. Great price! we thought, and paid him for two nights, getting a doubtful-looking receipt from him. The “helpful” young man returned later to practise his English with us and told us we had been scammed - there was no charge to moor there! “Mr. Officialdom”, of course, had long disappeared. We had the broken bobstay welded at the local sanayi (workshop area) the following day.

It blew hard for the next three nights so we were glad to be in the marina, venturing back to anchor on the fifth night off Eskifoca where we were kept awake until 5 a.m. by a huge rock concert on the nearby island. Thousands of campers, massive screens and sound system, light shows, and a few good songs. The soldiers at the Army base (across the road from the anchorage) sang in the morning parade - we were not sure which was more entertaining!
Eskifoca was also renown for the many seals that inhabited the coast (“foca” is the Turkish word for seal) - although we did not see any there was a small colony on one of the islands nearby. But we did have our fill of freshly cooked mussels from street vendors - spiced mussels with rice in the half shell - 50 Turkish korus (cents) each. Yum! 

Motoring another 40 n.miles in no-wind conditions further south and back to Cesme again where we spent three nights in the marina (another unfinished one so only half the cost but no electricity or water). The town itself is lovely and we did enjoy staying there waiting for wind.
The wind did eventuate and allowed us to sail the 20 n.miles to Sarpdere Bay (2 nights at anchor) and then we sailed the 40 n.miles to the Greek Island Samos anchoring illegally again in Pithagorion Harbour and seeing several other cruisers from Marmaris. 

Photo: local fishermen - common occurrence every morning around Chinook.
From Samos to Altinkum, 30 n.miles, sailing two hours (slowly) and motoring five when the wind died completely. It was a pleasant place and we stayed six nights. Another holiday place (for Turks) with the gullet processionals out at ten the morning and in at five p.m. We went into the brand new Didim Marina (opened the previous week by the prime minister) for a couple of hours to get filled with diesel and water 35 miles south, sailing most of that to the holiday resort town of Bitez which is near a major city - Bodrum. Bodrum has a large airport and at this time of the year thousands upon thousands of Brits (mostly) fly in to the cheap resorts
Photo: reading under the awning
Bodrum was very touristy, but Bitez was a lot quieter and the bus (dolmus) service between them is cheap and very frequent, so we did go in twice to get our fill of a "larger place" and do some shopping.

Liking the place, we stayed eight nights at anchor there. Brian took windsurfing lessons here and got a little extra practice in - now he can sail in wavy lines, tack, gybe, run downwind, fall off (does that really well) , and was only rescued once when he got a bit far out with an offshore wind...
At this point we decided to return to Marmaris to do some work on the teak decks while the weather was still dry and return to the Datca Peninsula next spring. So the next two days were travel days (70 n.miles) , anchoring overnight at Parmak and Kuzubuku Bays.

The extreme summer heat that we were expecting actually was not as bad as we had thought it might become. Days were rarely hotter than 35 celcius, - a dry heat, little humidity - the boat was sitting in 25 degree water - which we could always jump in, there was always a breeze, and as long as you were out of the sun It was tolerable. Nights were around 25 degrees. Deborah sewed an awning (see photo) and it was always pleasant reading under that in the heat of the day.

Back in Marmaris we were quite surprised at the number of cruisers who had returned, having finished their summer cruising, so we met up with many familiar faces including our good friends Terry and Fiona on Roam. Fiona had broken her leg slipping on a wet dock and had very little mobility - not enough to remain on their boat and with hospital appointments to keep they were staying in a hotel. This put a real damper on their summer and has jeopardized their plans to sail via the Suez to the Red Sea late in the year .

Deck jobs were done, and Brian took an unexpected and profitable trip to the Southampton boat show where he spent quite a wad on new equipment for Chinook. Imported goods into Turkey are very expensive (shipping and taxes) so what was purchased - at “boat-show prices” (and returned VAT) will be freighted to Rhodes and we will pick them up when we leave Turkey to renew our visas and Turkish Cruising Permit in mid-October. 


Photos: Deborah on an adult exercise playground - many towns have these. Brian still jogs - even up hills...