2007 - Cruising the Carian Coast - Marmaris to Turgutreis to Marmaris

Monday 26th March to Saturday 7th April - on the hard at Marmaris.

We returned to Turkey on Monday 26th March. We had an easy journey to Gatwick in a National/Alamo hire car. We had checked in for the flight on the internet on Sunday so only had to drop our bags at the 'Fast Bag Drop' which has now been renamed 'Bag Drop' since the queue was as long, if not longer, than at a normal check in gate. Our third bag (which contained a new Manson anchor, carefully disguised by judicious placement of towels and bubble wrap) caused a little consternation until we produced the receipt for the excess baggage which we had also prepaid by internet.

The BA flight was some 30 minutes late departing but with free drinks, a passable meal and the film 'Casino Royale', it was not too traumatic despite twins at the back who were having a screaming competition the whole way.

We paid our £10 each for our visas on arrival. Baggage collection was quick and we brazened our way out of the green door with hearts in our mouths waiting for our anchor 'import' to be found, but we were not stopped. 'Delivery' had cost us £62, £20 for a new travel bag to put it in and £42 BA excess baggage charge but at least now we have it with us rather than locked up in a bonded store in Istanbul which we were warned might happen if we let the retailer arrange delivery. The taxi from Dalaman to Marmaris was pretty expensive at 140 turkish lira, about £55 but it was a good hour and a half ride with a careful driver, so possibly value for money.

We picked up the key to an apartment in the marina and crashed out at just after midnight. (It was still only 10 pm UK time but it had been a long day).

We continued living in the apartment for the next 12 days, preparing 'Sundancer' for launch at a leisurely pace. One day was a write off because of torrential rain, but the rest of the time was sunny and warm, and very pleasant for working. We caught up with various friends and acquaintances on the marina including Dave from 'Wight Egret' who is on his own as Bev is out in Houston supporting her daughter-in-law who is about to produce their first grandchild.

The owner of the marina appears to be in trouble with the local authority as during the 10 year rapid expansion from tiny to enormous, he seems to have failed to get the necessary planning permissions. The marina is built on the north side of a narrow causeway which joins the mainland to an 'island'. Along the south side of this causeway is a narrow beach which is very exposed to southerly gales and at times waves wash over the road and into the marina. Recently the marina owner built a handsome wall about four feet high all along the edge of the beach to prevent this happening. Apparently this upset the new mayor as there is a law (largely ignored all over Turkey) which says you mustn't build within a certain distance of a beach, or prevent access to it. A few days before we got back the mayor had signalled his intention of knocking this wall down so the owner of the marina got his staff and lots of boat owners to join a sit-in on the wall. The mayor arrived with bulldozers and police but was prevented from taking action. The protesters were treated to a free meal in the restaurant that night, but celebrations were premature as the mayor returned with police and soldiers with machine guns and bulldozed the wall flat, leaving a mess of rubble along the edge of the beach. Several days later we came out of our apartment to find four soldiers with machine guns sitting on the wall outside enjoying a cigarette while officials and the bosses' lawyers, who had arrived by helicopter, sat at a table in the yard examining the plans of the site. The bureaucrats left, after tying red tape round the office, the guard house, the telephone kiosk and ATM machine, the laundry and showers (recently refurbished) the gym and numerous outlying buildings. Presumably a lot of money will have to change hands to sort this out.

Saturday 7th to Friday 20th April - Commissioning.

We waited around all day on Saturday and were finally launched at about 7.00 pm just in time to go off to the marina restaurant where an excellent ad hoc group of five boat owners entertained us on guitars, drums and keyboard for the evening, and we danced for several hours to some great rock and roll music.

Once on the water we continued polishing and fitting out. Mike made numerous visits to Marmaris to decide on a new mobile phone to provide internet access to the boat. We spent a lot of time waiting around for Mehmet and his men to do several fittings for our bimini modifications. We are having fore and aft extensions zipped on to give us the additional shade we need for the coming summer months.

DISASTER (1) - when we tried to raise the genoa, the roller reefing fell apart - a major blow to our plans. Luckily Mehmet was passing at the time and knew a man who could help - Mustafa - who he phoned for us. We now have to wait until Mustafa can fit us into his schedule to either repair it or replace it. This means we can't set off to Gocek, further along the coast where we were planning to pick up daughter Katey and friend Jackie next week. They will have to make the much longer taxi ride to Marmaris and meet us here. Mike managed to rig the emergency inner forestay to which we can hank another jib so we should be able to sail locally if the winds are right.

We took a day out and caught a local bus to Mugla, a market town set in a fertile valley about 50 kilometres from Marmaris. There is a huge market here on a Thursday where I bought two bath towels for about £2 each. There were piles of beautiful local fresh fruit and vegetables, and lots of spices and nuts and dried fruit. It is quite difficult to buy small quantities because they are so inexpensive, and the stallholders insist on piling on more and more to make the cost up to 1 Turkish lira - worth about 25p. Many of the stallholders are local women who bring in a few lettuces, herbs and vegetables they have grown in their own gardens. They are all very friendly and full of smiles. We also managed to 'register' our UK mobile phones (the main purpose of the visit) so that we will be able to use them with Turkcell SIM cards without getting cut off as happened last year. (It is now possible to do this in Marmaris).

On Sunday we joined a party of boat owners and went by dolmus (small bus) to Icmeler, a slightly more upmarket resort, round the bay from Marmaris, for a Sunday lunch cooked by a Turk. The Yorkshire puddings were the biggest we have ever seen and it was up to the best British standards. We met one lady who was on board her yacht in Lebanon last year when war broke out with Israel. She told a hair raising tale of escape through the sea blockade. After ducking the missiles and trying for some time to get official permission to leave, they set off and were accosted by a gunboat some 40 miles out but just kept sailing, telling the gunboat there was no way they could just stop or turn round because the wind was in the wrong direction. Eventually the gunboat gave up and let them go. British bulldog spirit wins again.

On Tuesday we set off with Dave and another couple to visit the ancient site of Aphrodisias. (Click on the link for a description of this trip).

Saturday 21st to Friday 27th April - Visitors.

Katey and Jackie duly arrived at about 04.30 in the morning. We took them into Marmaris to eat in the evening - it looks better by night.

Sailing was delayed by strong winds for a day, and Katey and I went back to explore the shopping arcades where you get hassled a bit, but with great good humour. Katey spend too much of course.

Next day we set off motoring down to Gerbekse - a lovely little cove surrounded by grey rocks and pine trees. Katey swam very bravely in the cold but beautifully clear water. Our new anchor was not immediately successful. Hopefully we just need to develop the right technique for laying it. Then next day we went on, still motoring, to Serce where a narrow inlet through the rocks leads into a secluded bay with two arms. In the north arm Hassan has put down some buoys and runs a restaurant on the site of his grand parents' farm. It is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and olives, and has chickens scratching in the garden. Hassan is a very friendly, humorous man who seems thoroughly to enjoy his life and his job and speaks good English. On one side of the farm there is a very large 12ft high rock which he has carefully topped with a raft of local stone to make a flat area. When we queried what this was he explained that it was his long term dream, and we should come back in 10 years to drink in what will be 'The Bar on the Rock'. His friend, another Hassan, arrived shortly afterwards in his little boat to sell us pistachio nuts and dried figs and jewellery. We ate a good meal (though not cheap) in the restaurant in the evening. When Hassan said something about enjoying red wine, I remarked that he wasn't supposed to drink. He replied that he only did it at night when Allah was asleep. We are told that his father has already bought houses in Marmaris for two of his children but won't buy Hassan one until he finds a wife. Presumably the restaurant pays a good living.

We were back in Marmaris Yacht Marine on Thursday and Katey and Jackie treated us to a thank you meal in the marina restaurant. On Friday the band were playing there at a 'welcome to summer' special buffet to which we all went and our visitors departed by taxi for Dalaman about 10.30 pm.

Saturday 28th April to 5th May - waiting for the furling gear replacement.

We have been back here now for nearly 6 weeks, and apart from the few days out with our visitors, 'Sundancer' has not left the marina. We are frustrated by the delays but there are worse places to be stuck. The sun shines, the facilities are above average - there is a splendid swimming pool and an excellent restaurant with reasonable prices and very lively waiters who work a 12 hour day but stay remarkably cheerful. There is plenty of company and one could indulge in such delights as Carioke evenings, ladies' coffee mornings and scuba diving classes if one wished. Turkish people seem very hardworking and cheerful, with a good sense of fun. People in Marmaris, which of course is a tourist area, appear very westernised, with dress shops full of bright, revealing clothing and shoe shops full of shoes with pointed toes and four inch high heels. There is a very high proportion of young people, and girls seem to move rapidly from school uniform to pushing prams. Schoolgirls are dressed in kilts and long white socks. Their white blouses hang outside their skirts and their heavy school bags bang against their knees. Boys have their ties dangling. They laugh and joke together exactly like British children. You occasionally see women in headscarves but very rarely anyone completely covered up. When you go into a shop to buy clothes, textiles etc, you are always served Turkish tea and treated to the life history of the shopkeeper. There is a political problem in Turkey at present. Modern Turks are said to be in the minority. The likely next president is a fundamentalist and his wife wears a head covering. If he gets elected the army have threatened to step in and take over again to preserve the secular state. Young men have to do 9 months national service. Many try to avoid it and buses are regular stopped and youths have to present their papers to be checked against computer records to see if they have 'disappeared' to get out of serving their time.

Mustafa cannot get spares for our roller reefing (Mike could have told him that, having already spoken to the manufacturers) and so we have to have a completely new system installed at large expense. Mike initially chose a 'Harken', but then Mustafa informed us that he would have to get a special piece made to lift the furling drum over our anchor. This seemed a bit of a bodge so we changed our minds and went for a Turkish made 'Admiral' system. This had to be delivered from Istanbul which took a couple more days. The Turkish workmen are friendly, hardworking and very helpful but they take on far too much and 'Tuesday at 10.00' generally means 'a week on Thursday at 6.00'. It was late afternoon on Thursday 3rd May before Mustafa arrived to fit the new system. By coincidence our neighbouring boat has a similar problem and of course Mustafa is doing their repair as well. They started ours at about 6.00 pm and in the end were working at the top of the mast by the light of the full moon. At 11.30 pm neither installation was complete and Mike insisted that they must be over-tired and prone to making mistakes and sent them home with their promises of completion the next day.

4th May - No Mustapha but a phone call in the evening to say his car had been crashed into by another motorist and he was at the police station.

5th May - My birthday. Phone call from Mustapha to our neighbour to say he would arrive at about 10.30. 1 pm. Mustapha arrives. 4 pm, the neighbour's sail is up and Mustapha and his mate move on to us!!!! Mustapha took one of his many phone calls and said 'I will be with you in Marmaris in two hours'. Mike and I looked at each other in a way which implied 'and pigs might fly'. They had to do the whole operation twice as the foil (the bit the sail fits into) was fractionally too long the first time. The fitting involves several trips up the mast for Mustapha. He goes up at speed, with bare 'prehensile' feet on the wire rigging. They finally finished the job at 7.30 and Mike and I went out to celebrate my birthday, the new genoa reefing gear and the prospect of starting our 2007 cruise tomorrow.

DISASTER (2) - at 9.30 pm Mike, using a tooth-pick after the celebratory meal, lifts an old crown off one of his teeth. I begin to feel that some of the ruins we have seen on our travels are in better nick.

Monday/Tuesday 7th/8th May. We were hammering on the dentist's door at 9am and he managed to fit Mike in later on in the morning. He replaced the crown but said the next tooth was also crumbling, so back we went next day to start the process of crowning that one. We are assured by an Australian who has just had extensive bridge and crown work done for a quarter the price she would have paid in Australia, that he is an excellent dentist, so here's hoping. We should be able to set off tomorrow and sail round into the next gulf to the north as we can catch a dolmus back from there to Marmaris when the crown is ready. Bev and Dave are also ready to go, though they only have three weeks before they have to fly back for their daughter's wedding. Bev finally returned at the weekend, having been away nearly two months. Dave has been going spare!

Fingers crossed, and weather permitting, tomorrow we will be underway.

Between Marmaris in the South and Bodrum in the North there are four spits of land running roughly west from mainland Turkey into the Aegean. These four spits are separated by three gulfs, the Yesilova, Hisaronu and Gokova Korfezi. Our plan for this summer is to explore these three gulfs. Explore is a bit of a grand term because they are all well charted and covered by the pilot books but at least they will be all new to us.

Wednesday 9th May 2007 to 22nd May - Gulfs of Yesilova and Hisaronu.

In company once again with 'Wight Egret', we finally started our 2007 season with a very uncomfortable trip under engine from Marmaris down to Serce. We had wind on the nose most of the way and a nasty, choppy sea. However, once we turned into the almost landlocked bay, it was flat calm and peaceful and our spirits lifted. We had a good meal ashore at Hassan's restaurant again and lay in our bunks that night listening to the calls of three different kinds of owl. We spent an extra day here, swimming and walking and then moved on round the point of Karaburan into the Yesilova Korfezi, the Gulf of Yesilova. We had the sails up and had a few minutes of great sailing and Dave made some comment over the radio about how wonderful it all was, sailing under a brilliant blue sky, over a flat calm sea with wonderful scenery all around. Unfortunately the wind gods immediately punished him for his hubris and switched the wind off completely. We were back to motoring up into the anchorage between the islands of Kisel Adasi and Kiseli Adasi, close to the village of Bozburan. Here the water is shallow, over sand and is consequently a lovely turquoise blue. We anchored in the middle of the bay formed between the islands and the mainland, and had a very peaceful night. We explored the ruins ashore which apparently date from Byzantine times - the eastern Roman Empire and later the Christian period before the rise of Islam. There are the remnants of a couple of churches. In the more modern one the frescos on the walls are still visible though crumbling now as the roof is falling in. It is likely that this church was used by Greek Orthodox Christians until the great repatriation occurred in the 1920's when Turks from Greek areas and Greeks from Turkish areas were compelled to move to their nation states. By the very old church is what looks to have been a cold storage area. This building has exceedingly thick walls, no windows and a strong arched low roof. It is now thickly carpeted with long goat hairs from the many goats living among the ruins.

We left, going south at first at a fast pace for half an hour and then turned west. In order to try and sail round Atabol Burnu into the Hisaronu Korfezi, the Gulf of Hisaronu, Mike decided to motor south west in the hope of then picking up the wind to sail north. After nearly an hour of this we turned north, put the sail up, sailed for 5 minutes and then the wind switched off again. I was not amused. Eventually we turned into a very pretty bay called Kocabahce. We tied to a restaurant pier at the head of the bay and ate in the restaurant that night. One family from grandparents to teenagers seem to run the place and they have a large vegetable patch behind the restaurant where they grow courgettes, aubergine, tomatoes, sweet-corn, potatoes, lettuce and many other plants. This is all fenced off to keep out the herd of goats and the hens. They also have olive, fig and almond trees. There is no road so all other provisions have to be brought in by boat. They put on a most splendid feast, with a range of about 10 cold starters and choice of lamb, chicken, meatballs and fish to follow. There was so much for the few customers that we did wonder how long it had all been here but no-one suffered any ill effects.

Next day we sailed very slowly up the passage inshore of a line of islands into the large bay by Selimiye village and ate lunch, letting 'Sundancer' drift in the centre of the bay. We than managed a great sail, tacking out of the bay and round to the north east into Keci Buku. Here we anchored behind an island on which the grey rocks support the ruins of a handsome Byzantine fort. Pine trees cover the hillsides. We took the dinghy to the island and scrambled around the ruins, spotting a couple of black rabbits. Every stride we took, startled dozens of grasshoppers.

Mike and I left Dave and Bev anchored behind the island and motored across into Marti Marina so we would be ready to go into Marmaris by dolmus to the dentist on Tuesday to collect Mike's new crown. The marina is in a very attractive setting and has good facilities including a nice restaurant and swimming pool but it was very quiet as most people are now out cruising. We ate in the marina restaurant which offers a number of Chinese and Thai dishes as a change from Turkish food. Next day, after a fairly terrifying ride on the dolmus which had arrived late and whose driver was bent on making up the time on the twisty mountain roads, Mike got his new crown and we stocked up on provisions again.

Our visit to the marina restaurant entitled us to one free night in the marina and next day we moved on to join 'Wight Egret' and their friends, Debbie and Steve in 'Sulis'. We made five fast tacks across the gulf into a long narrow inlet called Bencik also known as Dirsek. Here the steep slopes are covered in pines and an eagle circled overhead. We dropped the anchor and were helped by a neighbouring boat to tie a rope to the shore. We joined Bev and Dave for drinks in the evening and met their friends who have just come up from Crete and who proved to be great fun. Next day we took the dinghy to the head of the bay and made our way up a narrow canal into the jungle type vegetation. It reminded us of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in the African Queen. It is only a mile across the peninsular to the next gulf and apparently when the locals were threatened by the Persians they asked the oracle at Delphi whether they should dig a canal across to give themselves a means of escape. The oracle replied that if the peninsular had been intended to be an island, Zeus would have made it one, so they gave up the plan - and subsequently had to surrender to the invaders - (Persians 1 - Oracle 0). We invited our neighbours on board who had been sailing in the area for 7 years and picked their brains as to the best places to go in the coming weeks.

The forecast for the weekend was for increasing winds from the south, and possibly rain, so we wanted somewhere fairly secure. Next day we had a splendid fast tack back across the gulf back to Selimiye, reaching 6 knots at times. The wind dropped as we approached the entrance to the bay and we took down both sails. Once in the bay we were hit by force 6 winds on the nose and struggled to motor across to tie up alongside a reasonably substantial pontoon in front of the Sarduna restaurant. The pontoons, and electricity, water and showers are free but you are expected to dine in the owner's restaurant at night. We had a good but fairly expensive meal here in the evening. Next day we clambered up to the ruined castle on a nearby hill, and admired the skeleton of a wooden gullet being built in the village. It is amazing to find these boats, 100ft or so long, still being built in the traditional way with no cranes or lifting gear, in little sea-side villages. We tried to find out how long it takes to complete and whether they are built to order or on spec but the language barrier beat us. We passed a lady with four sheep on long leads. She subsequently tied each sheep to a different olive tree to let them graze. Another elderly lady was walking with her four cows on the hillside. The rain never really materialised but the strong winds certainly did and we had a couple of rocky nights aboard.

On the Monday we said goodbye to 'Wight Egret', who are going back to England for their daughter's wedding, and set off towards the point of the Datca peninsular. We had a good sail for the first hour and then had the wind on the nose and a choppy sea most of the way. We stopped off at Adatape Buku, (or Kalaboshi) - a shallow cove on the south of the peninsular. We tied to a T pier, but were forced to use our stern anchor as there were no haul-off lines. Fortunately Mike's back survived hauling in the anchor when we left, with only fairly minor pain. We had to pay on the pier which is unusual and then had a good meal ashore at Ogun's Place, under the mulberry trees which were full of birds feasting on the ripe berries.

Next day we moved on to Knidos, a shallow, sheltered bay immediately before the point. Despite what the pilot book said, there were again no haul-off lines but a man in a captain's hat, claiming to be the harbour master, put us alongside the long pier. We were never sure if he was a genuine official or had just bought the hat somewhere. The meal in the restaurant was fairly mediocre. This is the site of ancient Knidos, a very wealthy port dating from about 300 BC. The ruined buildings are scattered over about 3 kilometres on both sides of the bay and must have been spectacular, rising row after row up the hillside, all built in local stone. The whole site is still quite remarkable. Part of the city walls and some temples and two theatres remain. They are built of huge blocks which were cut into very even rectangles and laid with wonderful precision - far more level than the concrete block buildings you see being thrown up today. Praxiteles, a very famous artist, sculpted a statue of Aphrodite, which was said to be his masterpiece but which unfortunately has been lost, to go in a circular temple looking down on the sea. The blocks for the base of the temple are neatly cut into a curved shape. I wish I knew what kind of tools they had to do such wonderful work - will look it up on the internet when we get home. The ship taking Paul to Rome for trial stopped here to wait for fair winds to round the point. Over a narrow strip of land is another bay, now silted up, which apparently was the naval port for the triremes. There are two or three small fishing boats based here, as there are in many of the bays. These boats are usually manned by a husband and wife team, with occasionally a grown up son. Younger children must be left at home in the villages, but the fisher people seem to live on their boats at this time of year. They spend most of the day sorting and mending their nets, sometimes hanging out a bit of washing or cooking a meal, and then go out in the early evening, returning to the same spot next day. Their catches are small - a couple of boxes of fish and an octopus or two at the most, and they are happy to sell us fish when we want it.

23rd May to Turgetreis marina

We went straight from Knidos to Turgetreis Marina as we wanted to look at it as a possible place to leave 'Sundancer' this winter. We had a very pleasant sail for half the trip, but as usual ended with wind on the nose. The marina is excellent. It is spacious and efficiently run, the gardens are bright with flowers and shrubs and are carefully tended, the pontoons are well spaced with finger berths which make berthing very easy, and everywhere is spotless. If you were spending the winter on the boat it would be very handy for the little town, and for Bodrum airport, though the tiny village of Turgutreis has now virtually disappeared under a huge and spreading mass of white concrete holiday homes. It is more expensive than Yat Marine. That night Mike reluctantly admitted he was having more tooth trouble! A back tooth he had mentioned to our dentist at home because it hurt occasionally when he chewed was now hurting continuously. He enquired at the marina office for an English speaking dentist at 8.30 am and the tooth was out by 9.55! At 120 lira (£45) we thought this was expensive since the one in Marmaris had only charged 170 (£65) for a new crown. Perhaps we should have haggled. After all, the dentist couldn't have put it back.

On Sunday rain was forecast, though it never arrived. Since we don't do sailing in the rain, we caught the dolmus to Bodrum, which proved to be a busy port, full of touristy shops, but with a nice palm tree lined promenade and a very well preserved (or renovated) castle. Gullets line the harbour two deep in places. They are large, beautifully varnished craft, clearly requiring a lot of maintenance, all touting for the few customers around, offering day, three or four day, and weekly trips round the many bays and islands in the area. There must be three or four hundred in this town alone. How they all make a living we cannot imagine, and if they do have enough customers in July and August to give them an income for a year, it must be like the M25 out in the bay. The Castle of St Peter was built in the early 1400's by the Knights of St John who invaded Bodrum from Rhodes. It contains a torture chamber which was shut off when the Muslims eventually captured it as they aren't as keen on torture as the Christians. The area contains innumerable shipwrecks from very early traders and many finds are in the museums here, including countless amphorae of all shapes and sizes, some beautiful glassware, bronze ingots and many tools used on the ships or being traded along the coast.

Sunday 27th May to Sunday 10th June - in the Gulf of Gokova

On Monday we moved back south into the Gokova Korfezi, the Gulf of Gokova, and had a good sail part of the way to a bay on the northern side called Cokertme, pronounced 'Je-kert-me'. We tied to the pier belonging to Rose Mary's restaurant and dined ashore near a log fire burning on a brazier. Next day we headed south east to Soyut. The wind was on the nose as usual but after an hour I suggested to Mike we should sail as we hadn't far to go, so we tacked two or three times, making 5 to 6 knots, albeit in the wrong direction. As it happened the wind slowly shifted south over the next 2 hours and we managed to sail nearly all the way in a long arc. Soyut is a sheltered bay where we planned to sit out the forecast rain and stronger winds. This bay is delightful with pine covered slopes down to the water. It started to rain about 4.00 and continued into the night, but next day was back to warm sunshine.

Wednesday 30th May - Castle Bay, where 'Cleo' paddled.

Two days later we made the four mile trip to an anchorage between Castle and Snake Islands. There were 8 gullets already here, tied to a small quay, and their passengers had all disembarked to see the ruins of an ancient town called Kederai and the famous Cleopatra's beach. The town was apparently very rich until they backed the wrong side in the Peloponnese wars and all got sold into slavery when their side lost. We rowed to shore and then had to row back to the boat to get some money as it costs 5 lira each to land. Cleopatra's beach reminded us of Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean, on a smaller scale - a place of exceptional beauty ruined by day trippers. The shallow bay has the most beautiful clear pale turquoise blue water and the small stretch of sand is a perfect gold. The sand is of a type not found anywhere else locally and the story is that Cleopatra took up residence on the island and imported some of her own sand for Antony to sunbathe on. Notices tell you not to smoke on the sand, nor to put your towel down on it. However, these are redundant as the sand is now roped off to preserve it and you get to the water down a board walk round the edge. Behind the beach, lie about 300 sun beds in neat rows. The ruins were not particularly impressive apart from the theatre which was beautifully placed in an olive grove with a lovely view of the bay. Olive trees are now growing up between the stone seats and we saw a large brown snake slither into the rocks. Towards late afternoon the swell started coming into the anchorage making it very uncomfortable so we battled our way through a very choppy sea, back to Sogut for another quiet night's sleep.

On Thursday we motored gently for the five miles round to the inlet named Degirmen Buku. The scenery is like the Lake District, only with constant sunshine, very few houses and not many boats either. There are several little anchorages round the bay, all lined with pine trees, and we tucked ourselves well into the head of English Harbour, managing to tie to the shore, with no problems at all, using our new technique of getting everything prepared well in advance and using a long, light rope on the revolving drum we have bought! English Harbour is a delightful spot and is so named apparently because the SBS, the Special Boat Squadron, was based here for a while during the Second World War. We spent two very peaceful days and nights here just swimming and sunning ourselves. We then moved over to a restaurant pontoon at Okluk, with a little shop attached, and stocked up with some frozen chicken, and vegetables grown in the restaurant garden. That night Mike ate the best octopus since Corfu and I had a plateful of delicious meses. These are mixed starters, such as green beans in tomato and garlic, fried aubergine, battered courgette, various things in yoghurt - all delicious. Next day we went another 5 miles along the coast to a small, green, dog-leg inlet called Kargilibuk. Once more we anchored and tied to a handy tree with no problems, but we haven't tried it in a strong cross wind yet so mustn't congratulate ourselves too much. We took the dinghy to the head of the inlet and tied on to a very dilapidated pontoon which had once belonged to a restaurant. A tiny, bent old lady, who couldn't have been more than four feet tall, tottered down the pontoon in bare feet, over the protruding rusty nail heads and broken boards, and extended a hand to help me out of the dinghy. We managed to greet her in Turkish but she said not a word and followed us silently up the stony track. There were several houses, from ramshackle to smart modern on the flat plain, one of which was to rent, though what one would do here for a week, I can't imagine. Further up the track was a herd of handsome ponies and their foals. On Monday we moved on another five miles to Tuzla Koyu, an attractive anchorage in a slightly wider bay between low, scrub covered hills. There were few trees to tie to but the bay was wide so we just swung to our anchor in about 10 metres of water some 100 metres from the beach. The water was very clear and we swam and snorkelled, seeing more fish than we have found anywhere else to date. We are amazed at how few other boats there are around considering what a beautiful cruising ground it is - hardly any long term cruisers, or flotilla boats - just a few little fishing boats and the occasional gullet, one of which came and parked right by us with a mixed American/European noisy group of charterers. At least the one noisy American was very complimentary about 'Sundancer' and they left in the early evening.

On Tuesday we decided we were getting slightly bored with beautiful, green, deserted little anchorages (!) The winds, which are predominantly in the west (the direction we now have to take for 30 miles or so on our way back to Marmaris) were forecast east today but with rain later, so we sailed gently over a flat sea, most of the way north west over the gulf, back to Cokertme and the Rose Mary restaurant pontoon. There are three such pontoons here, each with their associated restaurant, and as soon as a yacht gets into the bay, a young man (or two) from each pontoon leaps into a boat and motors out towards you, picking up one of the buoys off his haul-off lines and waving it like mad to attract attention. Being me, I feel guilty that I have to choose one and reject the others. The rain (light and intermittent) started on cue after lunch. Next day we walked along a rough path to look at the anchorages which are more sheltered than the pontoons. We found a fairly expensive looking house, set in an olive grove and gardens which are partially landscaped. The whole thing was about half finished and deserted and was now being used as a cowshed. Along the other way there were three concrete skeletons which looked as though they were intended to be hotels or apartments, but the concrete pillars had collapsed and the roofs were all askew. The owner of the Rose Mary restaurant told us that the house had been put up by a couple who were now in the middle of a divorce and the other buildings didn't have planning permission so the government had made them unusable.

We stayed two nights as the winds were in the south west and fairly strong - on the nose for our next stop, but regretted it as we had a very uneasy second night because of the swell coming into the bay. On the 7th we moved over to the south coast to a small harbour called Kormen which is actually the ferry port for Datca on the other side of the peninsular. As we approached the narrow entrance, the sea became very confused and uncomfortable and we were relieved to get through it and slide safely into the harbour. We were placed next to two large car ferries, about four feet from one of them, having had to use our stern anchor and go bows to the quay. We had another very uncomfortable and noisy night with 'Sundancer' bouncing up and down on the swell. The ferries left without doing us any damage, and because the swell outside the harbour was increasing steadily, we decided to stay an extra night and caught a taxi to have a look at Datca, which is an attractive little resort set between two bays. We managed to get a dolmus back and were settled on the boat when one of the ferries returned and backed in next door to us, this time about a fender's width away, towering over us. Mike was getting pretty tetchy by now because of lack of sleep. (I just put in my earplugs and sleep through it all) but fortunately the wind died at about 9 pm and we had a peaceful night. We left early next morning to make the last 10 miles along the gulf before the wind set in and the swell built up again, but in fact there was little wind all day, and we rounded the point back into Knidos with no problems.

10th June - 15th June, heading back to Marmaris

We spent three peaceful days in Knidos waiting for a fair wind and then on Thursday sailed on a broad reach at 5 - 6 knots, most of the way to Kuruk Buku on the northern side of the Gulf. This is a big bay but with a safe anchorage giving some shelter from the Meltemi (the name of the prevaling wind). We anchored close to friends whom we had arranged to meet here for one night and then motored on next day, across the Gulf of Hisaronu, back to Kocabache. The water is very clear and there were lots of fish to see when we went snorkelling. Next day, Mike uttered the fateful words 'it should be a good sail according to the forecast', so of course it was wind on the nose (around several corners) all the way across the Yesilova Korfezi until we eventually rounded the point at Karaburan into Bozuk Buku. All of a sudden there are lots of yachts and gullets around, which is good for the local traders but not so good for us. Bozuk Buku is a big, sheltered bay surrounded by fairly barren hills, scattered with the ruins of an ancient Hellenistic town. There is a splendid citadel guarding the entrance which we climbed up to in the evening. 'Sundancer' was tied to the pier of the Ali Baba restaurant, and the owner lived up to his name by trying to overcharge us by 20 lira for dinner. The restaurant makes its own village bread - flat, round loaves cooked in a clay oven. We watched great grandma staggering down the hillside, doubled over beneath a huge pile of brushwood which she then fed into a beehive shaped clay oven, getting a roaring fire going. When it was sufficiently hot she mopped the soot out with a wetted broom made of sticks, put the loaves in using a flat tray on a long pole, and closed the wooden door, leaving it to cook. The bread is very tasty - full of air bubbles and tasting a bit like crumpets. Despite the traditional nature of this scene, a large television satellite dish was perched on the rocks a few feet from the oven.

On Friday we set off North East up the coast. We sailed on genoa alone at up to 6 knots for the first part of the journey, but the wind went round eventually and we had to motor. We had hoped to anchor for the night in Gerbekse but when we got there, there were already 8 gullets crammed in. It looks like the tourist season has really started while we have been away! We decided to head on the further 14 miles back to Marmaris Yat Marine. We had a very lumpy sea and wind on the nose for most of the journey and were glad to round Kadirga Burnu into calmer waters.

16th June - Marmaris Yacht Marine

Back in Yat Marine slightly earlier than we really planned we spent the next few days cleaning, tidying and servicing things during the three cool hours in the morning, then lying round the swimming pool in the afternoon in the steaming heat. This season has been very strange for us. We had a late start because of various problems and then have really been exploring, mooching from one pretty place to another. We have decided that we prefer to have a more specific goals so next year plan to sail north up the Aegean coast of Turkey and then turn left into the Sporades Islands, back to Greece. It is not practical to start this in October because the winds are consistently from the North at that time of year, so we will have another few weeks of mooching when we return this Autumn and then 'Sundancer' will spend another winter in Marmaris.

We flew back home on Friday 22nd October - this time to Cardiff Airport, arriving in the early hours of the morning, and catching a train back to Malvern.

The autumn cruise

After spending a very wet 'summer' back in UK we arrived back on 'Sundancer' at about 5.00 am on 1st September. Fortunately we had left the bed made up and could fall into it and sleep for a few hours. It was exceedingly hot for the first week and we spent a few days slowly sorting things out, cooling off in the marina pool and catching up with friends. We met a couple called Diane and Tony who had just bought a Countess called 'Storyville' and are working hard to get it into shape for sailing. There is one other Countess in the marina called 'Elizabeth I' but no sign of the owner.

Thursday 6th to Thursday 13th September - Cappadocia

We had decided that a visit to Cappadocia was a must while in Turkey. Cappadocia is an area in Anatolia, Central Turkey, which lies between three volcanoes (now hopefully extinct). Layers of volcanic ash were laid down which have turned into a soft rock called Tufa which has weathered into a fairyland of fantastic shapes and colours and into which the ancient peoples in the area dug out houses, churches and even underground cities. For a description of this trip follow the link above.

17th September to 7th October - cruising in the Hisaronu Korfezi.

We are now setting off for our autumn cruise - back in the area we cruised in the spring. The weather is wonderful with gentle winds and blue sky day after blue sky day.

We left Yat Marine and motored down to Serce with wind on the nose all the way and paid another trip to Hassan's restaurant. Next day a strong wind was forecast for the rest of the week so we moved on to Keci Buku and Marti Marina. As usual we motored most of the way. In Marti we were moored on the end of the outside pontoon which was a long way from the showers and could have been bouncy in rough weather, but did have a nice view. After a couple of days (with no strong winds) we moved down to Orhaniye at the bottom of the bay on the Iskelet pontoon. Here met Fred and Sue on 'Monabhar' - a Sadler 34. Next door to Iskelet pontoon is a small mini market. I went round to buy some bread one morning to find the lady owner of the shop shearing one of her sheep. The sheep lay tranquilly, stretched out on the floor like a dog before a fire while she sheared it with a pair of scissor next door to the ice-cream fridge.

On Saturday 22nd we moved over to Kuyulu Buku, immediately opposite on the northern side of the gulf. We had a couple of goes at anchoring before Mike was satisfied, and then in the evening returned to the anchorage behind the island at Marti and had three goes there as well. So much for our new Manson! We dinghied over to the island next day and this time managed to scramble up to the top of the castle for some good views. In the evening Fred and Sue motored over to exchange books.

Monday 24th - we went back down to the Iskelet pontoon so that Mike could catch the dolmus to Marmaris as he needed to sort out a problem on the Turkish mobile phone. We met up with Alan and Liz on 'Elanik' who had been introduced to us by Tony and Di on 'Storyville'. We joined them for drinks and dinner and also met a couple called Geoff and Louise off 'Lancashire Maid'.

On the 25th we moved on to Selimye where I had seen dried puffer fish for sale earlier in the year, which I thought our grand-son Jozef might like. Unfortunately there were none left. We moored on the Sardunya pontoon and ate at the restaurant where the food was excellent though not cheap. We thought it better than 'Aurora'.

Next day we made a lunch stop at the little bay to the North of Selimye and met up with Fiona off Jasmine who had told us about this anchorage in the spring. After lunch we tacked over to Kuruca Buku where we had met 'Bintang' earlier in the year, but couldn't find the place we had anchored previously and didn't like the look of the bay as it seemed a bit open. (We eventually worked out that we should have been in a different part of the bay). We went round to Ciftlik and though we didn't like the look of this much either, we eventually managed to anchor in the north east corner among the laid moorings by the holiday village.

Thursday 27th September - we moved on to Datca which we had previously only visited by dolmus. It is a very pretty little village with lots of life, but not over commercialised. We had to drop the stern anchor as there were no haul off lines and when another yacht dropped very close to us Mike swam out to check it. He found it only partially dug in but when I winched it in it as tight as I could while Mike snorkelled over it it didn't move so we assumed we were OK. We cycled over the hill to a nearby bay but there was no shade so we did not stop. Next day we took a taxi to a nearby village which was pretty unexciting though later we discovered we should have visited the old manor house there. It also has a very handsome mosque set in attractive gardens. We then walked back to Old Datca and caught the dolmus back.

We celebrated Mike's 70th birthday very quietly in a restaurant overlooking the bay. The meal was unimpressive and fairly expensive - but Mike liked his new shirt. He felt a bit unhappy about being 70. It is difficult to go on forever pretending one is still 'middle aged'.

1st October - we sailed back to the nice restaurant pontoon in Kocabache (which apparently means 'market garden') and had two quiet nights here, despite the young men on another boat who had been drinking all day and enjoying themselves loudly. We did not recognise the language, but after their evening meal they entertained people in the restaurant with some good singing and guitar playing, before going quietly to sleep at about 11.00. Someone told us that Croatians are very fond of singing so perhaps they were from there.

On the 3rd we moved on to Bozburun where we were able to moor alongside on the north quay. We really liked Bozburun which is quite small but very pretty. We ate out one night at 'Zuhal', a restaurant set up by a young woman who used to run the Fish Restaurant in Marti Marina. We had an excellent meal. The menu was limited but unusual. Unfortunately she has set up in a building on the way out of the village, and from the front you do not realise what a nice courtyard she has at the back in which to eat. I think she needs some marketing advice.

On our second night in Bozburun we had a big thunderstorm - the first rain we have seen since our return - but there was only one bad gust into the harbour, just as one poor small boat was trying to drop his stern anchor before going bows-on to the wall. His anchor did not set, and he eventually tried rowing it out on the front of his rather unstable canoe whilst tying his boat alongside his rather bigger neighbour. We later heard that Datca suffered a southerly gale and many boats, including our friends on 'Blackfoot Warrior', were affected by strong gusts and large waves and were in danger of being blown onto the harbour wall. They had to up-anchor in the dark and move out into the anchorage. After a thunderstorm like this the temperatures often seem to take a large step downwards. It surprises us anyway how rapidly the temperatures have dropped over the space of he last few weeks. From being too hot under just a sheet at night to begin with, we have progressed rapidly to the thin blanket - then the thick blanket - then the duvet.

After three very pleasant nights in Bozburun we motored the short way to Sogut Limani where there is supposed to be an anchorage, but as we couldn't find it we went on the restaurant pier yet again. There is a small village here and some caiques being built. Apparently they build these boats of pine so they have only a short life expectancy. We ate with Wilhem and Hannah off a Contest 49 who are going on the EMYR rally next spring. I thought of asking if they would like crew but didn't have the nerve. There is water and electricity on the quay but Wilhem said he had tested the water and it was of very poor quality. Over night the restaurant owner had left a couple of lines on the end of the pier, and pulled up two octopus in the morning.

Sunday 7th October - we motored from Sogut all the way around the peninsula to Serce. This time we decided to pick up one of the buoys in the western end as we felt sorry for the people there, since nearly everybody goes to Hassan's at the other end of the bay. The restaurateur rents the building from the government whereas Hassan's is a family buisness. He and his wife spent all day in two little rowing boats, under the hot sun, waving madly to every boat which turned into the bay to attract the crew and when they caught someone, spent time helping them moor up to one of their buoys. We seemed to start a trend, as by the evening there were 10 boats at our end, and only two up at Hassan's. When we rowed ashore to eat we found the restaurant was very tired and tatty with only a very basic menu - and of the ten boats in the bay, only three came ashore to eat. The restaurateur told us that this happens all the time - people use the buoys he has laid and maintained but don't bother to eat ashore. We thought this was very mean, but I am afraid that we may well return to Hassan's for a good meal next time we go to Serce.

On the 8th October we returned to Marmaris Bay, again motoring nearly all the way. You get a bit blase about Marmaris bay, seeing it so often, but it is lovely, surrounded by very green and pretty hills, with mountains behind shading into the distance. We spent the night in the anchorage just by the Magic Life holiday village and were amused by the sound of aerobic exercises in the morning and early evening and less amused by the disco late at night. We again took two goes at getting the anchor set in 12½ metres but think we are learning the technique which is to ensure the anchor chain is under a little tension as we let the boat drift or motor back - not enough to drag, but enough to ensure the chain does not pile up over the anchor.

9th to 22nd October - Marmaris, trips ashore and laying up.

On the 9th we got a berth in Yacht Marina and started to take off sails, etc getting 'Sundancer' ready to go to bed for the winter. We were next to 'Lancashire Maid' and joined Geof and Louise, and others from the marina, taking a 'grockel' trip up to Caunos to see the rock tombs and, for those who wished, to bathe in the sulphur baths and enjoy the mud which is supposed to make you look 10 years younger.

Later we organised ourselves a trip to Pamukkale, an area on a geological fault line about 100 miles from Marmaris where thermal waters, containing calcium hydrocarbonate, come out of the ground at about 34ºC and form gleaming white terraces, interspersed with turquoise blue pools.

Follow this link for a description of the Caunos and Pamukkale trips.

Back at the boat we spent a final day preparing for lift out and were lifted by mid-day on Friday 19th October. We then moved into a hotel in Marmaris - again cheap but not very comfortable with bed and pillows like rock and variable quantities of hot water. Because rain and thunderstorms were forecast for Sunday, we made sure we had finished with the lay up by Saturday afternoon. We enjoyed wandering around Marmaris by night. The town is ornamented by artificial lights, very similar to our Malvern Christmas lights. We met Ian and Heather from 'Blackfoot Warrior' for a meal on Saturday. We woke on Sunday morning to torrential rain. It was falling like a waterfall off the hotel roof and the building opposite. By 11 it had cleared and we had a day of bright sunshine. The town drains seem to cope very well because the water drains into a small river which winds through the town. I had decided to spend Sunday buying a leather jacket and ended up in the first shop, being talked into three (why do I want three?) at an average price of £50 each. The shopkeeper was trying to get rid of his stock for the end of the season and seemed to give in so easily I am sure we could have beat him down a lot more.

Monday 22nd October We had ordered a taxi three quarters of an hour early, to pick up someone else from Yat Marine and then come on to us. Torrential rain started at 3.00 am and kept us awake until we got up at 5.00. We felt sorry for the woman who was sharing our taxi who had to walk 400 yards from her boat to the marina gate - we only had to wade through the stream in the road outside. I took off my shoes and socks to do this. By the time the taxi got to us it was 15 minutes late. We piled in and set off along the windy road out of Marmaris which has steep cliffs up on the right and precipitous drops on the left. It was still pouring and dawn had not yet broken. We rounded a bend and the taxi hit one of many rocks which were being washed down off the cliffs, and burst a tyre. The driver managed to stop about 70 yards from a nasty bend, close to where more rocks were falling and we sat there in some trepidation for about 20 minutes waiting for a replacement taxi to arrive. It was fortunate that my phobia about being late for planes meant I insisted on the taxi coming earlier than Mike thought necessary. We eventually got to Dalaman only a few minutes late for Mike to pick up our tickets while I passed our bags through the x-ray machine. Mike then luckily reappeared as the security guys insisted on us unpacking the case that held the 'gun' which was a metal garden water hose spray gun Mike didn't want on the boat! When we got on the plane we had the worst journey ever from the point of view of turbulence. Dinner was delayed by an hour as the hostesses could not push the trolley along, and they never got round to the selling duty free.

We arrived in Birmingham at about 11.30 am and Jackie ferried us home. We were pleased to see that the lawn was looking respectable and an hour and a half next day sorted out the garden!

In conclusion, the weather has been wonderful for almost all of the 7 weeks we have been away and we have had no nasty gales. We missed the company of 'Wight Egret'. Because of the short distances between harbours, we have done very little actual sailing We have had a good autumn season cruising locally but feel that one year in one place is enough. We are convinced that we want to be on the move again next year.

Pauline Nixon

'Sundancer'

Marmaris Yacht Marina,

Turkey

October 2007