My first twenty days in Turkey have certainly given me a different perspective than the last time I visited. But then again, I didn’t come to the persistent party that is the Lycean Coast. The food is terrific and comes in larger than American size portions. So it is hard to leave hungry, let alone lose weight. Conversely though, the place is filled with charter sailors. When you see them coming in you think, sometime out loud, “Please don’t anchor next to me.” I find them sort of interesting as they sail a boat for one week a year but they have the absolute latest gear from HH or Slam. I always wondered where sailing clothing companies make their money, and it is here in the Med, where apparently no one minds paying full price. Interestingly, nearly all the yachts are US flagged. Apparently Maryland makes a fair bit of money helping the Turks dodge taxes by being a flag of convenience. The other thing you have to contend with are tourist boats called Gullets. They come to every anchorage just for the day but take the prime anchoring spots. So you have to get there early.
As far as the weather, it seems like it never rains here. That is nice except there is enough dust blowing about that I have to wash Courtney and Brook, the solar panels, almost everyday to keep them optimized. And the sea is so salty that I have to wash the stainless steel at least once a week. This puts a pretty big load on fresh water. There are daily thermals here too, so if you sailed here a lot and knew the patterns well, it would be great sailing. Except that the wind blows a different direction at every point you sail by. And there does not seem to be an accurate weather forecast available. The thermals can get pretty big too, last night it was gusting over thirty knots. Oh, and on top of all this, you must use a holding tank here, the joke is, there are not many pump out stations available and my macerator is broken. At least there is clear water and excellent holding.
Ok, enough complaining. We left Tomb Bay and had a great, albeit short, sail over to Fethiye. We anchored off the Yacht Classic Hotel and enjoyed their hospitality. I was able to fix the sea strainer issues I have been having too, so no more priming the engine raw water pump every time the engine has been off for 20 minutes. The bar tender, Emre, was great and even put up a Slick sticker next to Danial Craig. I guess there was some filming here for the recent 007 film. It was really easy to enjoy the pool bar and the nice showers too. I am sure I will go back here before I leave Turkey. The marina manager also agreed to watch Slick on anchor for a few days while we took a bus south. The protection was good and the holding excellent so there was not much to worry about.
The idea behind taking the bus was that the Meltemei (northerly wind blowing down the Aegean) would be blowing up so the sail back would be a rough one. The bus ride was easy, and with the price of fuel ($8/gal), probably cheaper than any motoring Slick would have to do to get down there. Kas is a nice town. It is quaint and friendly as all small Turkish towns. It exists though for only one reason – to give tours of nearby Kekova and the famous sunken city that is nearby. The gullet tour of the area was great, it was a day spent getting driven around to nice anchorages, castle topped islands, swimming holes, caves, and of course, the sunken city. I am definitely glad I did this by bus and gullet though, as it would have been hard to find all the stuff they show you. Now of course, if I go back I will know where to go. Heading back to Fethiye, Slick was right where she was left.
The next day Slick made the short trip to Gocek, maybe 12 miles or something. It was an easy anchor in 60 feet of water and nice protection. Destiny, a boat that shipped with Slick was calling in the harbor. It was nice to catch up with them, but horrifying to hear the stories of what the boats went through on the ship. Apparently they got daily updates from the ship (something I did not get). We had a nice dinner with them and another yacht ashore. I also discovered that Turkey produces some great rose' wine, something I normally don't like. But it was really good, so if I see it again I will stock up.
It was an early morning departure for Ekincik toward Marmaris. Once Slick was into open seas the wind slowly started to build on the daily thermals. The 35 mile hop quickly turned into a mean sail to windward. The peak gusts where in the thirties and steady around 25. The short choppy seas made for some gross bouncing but Slick handled it fantastically as she always does. It took two hours to find a suitable place to anchor though. I thought I had one and made a few circles to make sure the bottom was clear and right when I was about to drop the hook a 20 foot fishing boat came in and anchored right where I wanted to be. Thanks. After while though the hook was down and it was time to try stern tying to a tree, as everyone does here. The first attempt had too short of a rope and Slick danced a bit on anchor. After tying a spin-sheet to the stern line though it was long enough and then Slick was winched into place. It was a very stable way to anchor so we stayed there for a few days. That was an exhausting day.
An easy motor brought Slick back into Marmaris Harbor. The anchorage off town was rough so we headed south down to the Yacht Marina, it was much more calm and we anchored off. We were lucky to meet some friendly Kiwi's who had also shipped the boat but last year. We had some sun-downers and they offered to watch Slick while we made another overland excursion. That was nice of them, and again there was excellent holding and protection.
I will end up keeping Slick at the Yacht Marina over the winter too, so I am very happy to have that issue solved.
A fast bus and dolmus ride brought us to Selcuk. I was here 5 years ago and the place was pretty much the same. The first night we went for a walk around the Basilica of St. John. It is just in ruins now but was an early (5th century maybe) basilica built on the place where John the Apostle died. It is pretty impressive, even in ruin. A guide said that if it was still standing today it would be the seventh largest cathedral on earth, so I guess that is pretty big.
The ruined ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus was next to see. This is the largest classic site in the Eastern Mediterranean and even on my second visit was still very impressive. The city was enormous but gradually gave way to marshland silting up the harbor. Much of the city is still visible or being excavated, including the massive amphitheater, library, baths and gates. On the way home a short stop brought us to the ruined Temple of Artemis. This was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Now there is only one composite column (made of other fallen columns, not fiberglass) remaining. But the place must have been incredible before being ruined by earthquakes.
The next day we took a short train ride to Izmir. This was the first time taking a Turkish train and it was better than I expected. Izmir is a big city but has a few nice sites. So a walk took us to the clock tower and to the Ascensor, an old elevator that climbs a cliff, originally built to help the elderly. Now, with it's nice view, it is a favorite place of wedding photographers. I got a little food poisoning there too, which was not on the menu. The next day my friend who has been traveling with me since Xi'an way back in China flew home to Hong Kong.
It was a lonely return to Slick. But She was well behaved for the Kiwi's and we had a nice dinner. The next day the wind was coming up. I went into the marina to get some water and have the holding tank pumped out. First the dock hands tried to stick me in the worst possible spot. When I refused they then put me in the second worst possible spot. As I was pulling up, the shit-sucker that I came to see had just broke and was being carted off. On top of that, they put me just far enough away from the water spigot that my hoses would not reach the boat so I had to bucket the water. The marina didn't bother to charge me, which was nice and then I left. I meant to come back the next day but the weather was getting so foul and the anchorage so rolly that I left to find better.
I ended up at the base of a huge cliff that is near the entrance to Marmaris Harbor. It was full of gullets when I arrived but by 5 they where all gone and I had the anchorage to myself. The interesting thing is that on either end of the cliffs where two large bays (one going into Marmaris) and the wind was coming out of them at 20-25 knots even though they where orthogonal to each other. In the shadow of the cliff though everything was quiet except for the occasional turbulence coming down or from around the corners.
The next morning the wind direction changed and I came down to Ciftlik. This is the first bit of solo-sailing (motor sailing really) that I have done on this trip. I really have no where to be till the boat gets put away for winter so I will slowly make my way down this peninsula and then slowly head back. I have small boat repairs to keep my busy and many pictures to go through and post (coming soon). It is kind of lonely, but so far not that bad. I have met one other Turkish cruiser and there are always plenty of charter boats to watch do silly things. And hopefully I don’t turn into one of those single-handers who obviously hasn’t talked to anyone in a while and just sounds like a nutter.