Thursday, November 19, 2009

South West Turkey, Autumn 2009

Autumn 2009 - South West Turkey
Map: Our completed summer route of 2009.

Our last blog left you at Marmaris Yacht Marina in September when we had gone back to do some work on the teak deck - trying to waterproof it more effectively. Brian went off to the Southhampton Boat Show in England for three days to buy some big ticket items for Chinook; these we had shipped to Rhodes, Greece, intending to pick them up in October.

Slippin' away again from Marmaris we sailed to Fethyie - about 50 n. miles east, anchoring off the town of Ekincik for two nights to break the trip.

This area is a sea turtle breeding ground. We took the ‘tourist tour’ up the swampy Dalyan River and saw many large adult turtles. It was the wrong season for hatchlings but we enjoyed an interesting presentation, including a feast of Blue Crab (a major food of the turtles). Further up the river near the town of Dalyan are ancient Lycian tombs carved out of the cliff faces 4000 years ago. Lunch at a local restaurant and the slow swamp trip back with a stop to explore the bay where turtle eggs hatch - we did see some discarded leathery shells the guide had conveniently found.

Photo: At Dalyan; in the background the 4000 year-old rock tombs.
From there, 25 n.miles to Boynuz Boku (Bay) stopping for two nights before anchoring off the town of Gocek(3 miles away), a touristy place but at the end of the season it was sleepy enough.

Fethyie was the next destination (12 n.miles across the bay) and there we anchored for seven nights. We met up with several cruisers we knew (from Marmaris) and we all had Sunday lunch at the local fish market. Here, as in many Turkish towns, you can buy the fish of your choice at the market and take it to one of the local restaurants where for 5 lira they cook it for you and serve it with the usual salad, rice and potatoes.

Photo: Fethyie from 2000 metres - note the all paragliders. actually 50 - 75 in the area at any one time

Fethyie is one of the most beautiful places in Turkey. The high mountains surrounding the bay, the clear waters, the benign climate (hot in mid-summer). The downside is that the bays are crowded - many sailboats and gullets and many, many tourists (mostly Brits) in the towns. We had planned to be there at the end of summer when it was not so hectic - but it was still quite busy. Also, a real pollution problem exists because of the number of yachts dumping their waste water. The local governments are addressing this but it may take a few years to enforce the new regulations which include grey water tanks (as well as black water tanks) and pumpout stations with an electronic card system to keep track of when and where a particular yacht has pumped out. Much needed.

Photo: Brian at 2000 metres hanging under a paraglider. Hussain is the pilot.
Fethyie is also one of the best places in the world for paragliding, and of course Brian had to have a leap! 30 minutes slowly gliding down from a 2000 metre (6000 feet) mountain with staggering views and a gentle standup landing on the beachfront made his day! A tandem flight with a "pilot" of course, not a solo….

Our Turkish visas were due to expire and so we made the planned sail to the island of Rhodes (about 40 n.miles) to exit Turkey and re-enter ten days later. We were extremely lucky getting a slip in the busy Mandraki Harbour in the town of Rhodes - just metres from the place where the long fallen statue of "Colossus" stood. A very busy harbour at any time.
In Rhodes we picked up our boat show goods from A1 Yachting but unfortunately were not able to recover the VAT on them, as we had expected. Any goods purchased for pleasure boats, private aircraft and automobiles are not eligible for VAT exemption - an E.U. "directive" enforced by Greece.

Then, a nice sail back to Marmaris, stopping on the way for three nights anchoring in Ciftlik Bay where we had first anchored in June. Our friends John and Mo on Fuga caught up with us there and we had a great reunion. Still warm enough to swim (and we did!)

Marmaris Yacht Marina had a dock waiting for us when we arrived on 23 October, and here we now sit, doing those boat jobs as "winter" approaches. There are many familiar faces here as well as new ones and the social life is hectic once again! Two of our good friends, Terry and Fiona on Roam2 and Tony and Pat on Full Flight left to sail through the Suez to Egypt and next year the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and South East Asia as part of a rally. We will be following their journey with much interest.

Photo: a wee bit of excitement at the marina when a large sailing boat caught fire and later sank. The helicopter missed more often than it scored a hit...

Photo: Marmaris Yacht Marina - the town is in the distance - 8 km.
Chinook herself is due to be hauled out and put "on the hard" on December 1st and we will then fly to Canada for Christmas then on to New Zealand for three months for yet another summer - in a camper van rather than a boat!
Overall, it has been a quiet summer for us - meaning that we have not done the mileage we have in previous summers - and we found that quite relaxing. Yet we have seen some beautiful and interesting parts of Turkey in quiet, out of the way, non-touristy places. We would thoroughly recommend the Turkish west and south coasts as a cruising ground.