Sunday, 27 May 2007

Turkey - first week

Saturday 12th May - Marmaris

After a good 4 hour flight from Gatwick to Dalaman, we transferred by minibus to the Turkish Port of Marmaris where we arrived at around 10pm and went to Pineapple Restaurant on the Marina for dinner – the service initially appeared quick but we waited for the meal which didn’t arrive until after midnight! But meantime we set a cracking pace with the Turkish red wine!

We enjoyed a good first-nights sleep on the boat apart from Shirley who had severe cramp in middle of night! Ouch!

Sunday 13th May – Kumlu Buku

We were up early for first Flotilla briefing at Pineapple Restaurant followed by breakfast – and on the way down the jetty surprise, surprise and with great excitement, we bumped into Pete and Nikki Mahy from Sheffield who we'd met 2 years ago in Croatia!

There was a problem with our allocated boat which we found full of cockroaches (yuk!) so we had a last minute shuffle to another Sun Odyssey 373, named Opus – it was a real pain moving everything but at least we got a clean boat!

The Flotilla comprised 6 yachts plus the Lead Boat, Daiquiri with the Sunsail crew:

Daiquiri: - Steve (the Skipper), Emily (the 'Hostie') and Stephen (the Engineer)

Dolomite: Pierre, Glenn and Joey (from South Africa)

Opus: Chas, Pam, Shirley and me

Marilyn: Pete and Nikki

Vif Dor: Christina and Peter (From Frankfurt, Germany)

Miss Lead: Hans-Christoph, Michael, Jochen and Wolfgang (from Berlin, Germany)

Bercelo: Chris and Gilly

We set off at 3pm for the short sail to the resort of Kumlu Buku where, very proudly, I successfully managed my first stern-to mooring of the holiday! We used the facilities of the K Yacht Club during our stay which were ‘ok’ – but the 'stall' type unisex showers we'd used on a previous flotilla here were still rather ‘modestly challenging’ for anyone with a short body or legs!

There was the usual first evening Punch Party with the other yachts so a good opportunity to meet and chat with everyone.

Monday 14th May – Ekincek Limani

We set sail at 11am eastwards to Ekincek Limani - the wind was initially light but it picked up and we switched to autopilot – carefully avoiding the charted ‘prohibited’ military area on route! The wind dropped again so we motor-sailed most of the way passing a Turkish Naval gunboat towing floating targets which they’d been using for bombing practice!

After about 17 miles and over 5 hours sailing, we entered the picturesque bay of Ekincek to the west of the Dalyan River Estuary and moored up at 4.30pm.

The wooden jetty had been improved since we last visited here 4 years ago and we remembered the stiff climb up to the excellent restaurant where we enjoyed a candlelit dinner.

Tuesday 15th May – Ciftlik Buku

Up and awake early today – I walked up the hill to the restaurant for a shower and to collect some freshly baked Turkish bread.

As we’d done the organised trip to the ancient tombs and mud baths before, we decided to head back to the west on our own and stay the night at Ciftlik Buku, just south of Kumlu Buku; this plan shortens our sailing passage on Wednesday when we need to rendezvous with the flotilla at Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma) further south.

After our first real breakfast on board we left at 10am and headed out south and then westwards when the wind direction and strength changed in our favour. We sailed on a track due west with the wind strength at a nice 10 to 12 knots (Force 4) although the wind was cold and we all felt chilled!

We arrived off the nice beach at the resort of Ciftlik Buku around 4pm and anchored stern to a rather wobbly jetty off Mehmet’s Place – the man himself Mehmet welcomed us like old friends; a lovely polite and very friendly Turk!

We enjoyed an excellent meal at Mehmet's – a mixed grill washed down with copious amounts of Red wine.

Wednesday 16th May – Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma)

We woke to a lovely sunny morning in quiet and tranquil bay and enjoyed an on-board breakfast after a very cold and bracing shower behind Mehmet’s restaurant!

About 2 miles after setting off I happened to notice something was missing! Oh no, where’s the dinghy!

We backtracked and stumbled on Pete & Nikki in 'Marilyn' who relayed a message via the VHF radio that the dinghy was safe with Peter and Christina on Vif Dor who luckily had moored up on the same jetty at Mehmet’s! To make matters worse, we'd also not switched our VHF radio to the right channel so no-one could contact us! Tch, tch!! Bad mistake!

Anyway, we retrieved the dinghy and set off again – the wind was straight on our nose southwest towards Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma) so we motor-sailed most of the way until after the island of Kizilada where we changed our bearing and thankfully found some wind further out so we put the sails up and headed towards the Greek Island of Rhodes 12 miles or so away in the distance.

We tacked again and headed back towards the Turkish mainland just below the small island of Catal Adalari which we rounded before entering the small and delightful inlet to Bozuk Buku or Ancient Loryma as it is also known which was once a military port and used as a fleet assembly point for attacks on Rhodes, most notably in 395BC. There is a stunning view of Rhodes from the Citadel at the entrance to the bay.

There was a very 'rustic' jetty and restaurant but the service and meal was good and plenty of it too – the rolled lamb was particularly tasty!

Thursday 17th May – Yesilova or Bozburun

Strangely we were up later than usual this morning – all with sore heads from the wine and gin ‘n tonics of the previous evening! But a strong black coffee and the stunning scenery all around seemed to sort that out! The water was crystal clear but still too cold at only 56F to tempt me in for an early morning dip!

We had a Turkish breakfast at the restaurant - thick coffee, omelette plus goat’s cheese, tomato, cucumber, black olives - and honey! We purchased half a slab of some freshly baked 'village bread' for lunch.

We set off around 1015 – the first yacht out - and headed southwest to a point off the Bozburun Peninsula situated just off the lovely Greek Island of Simi. The wind was light and variable but increased a little later, so we had good sail until we turned east into the approach to Yesilova where we anchored up alone in a small deserted and very deep inlet for lunch.

After lunch and with little or no wind, we sailed on towards the town of Yesilova, mooring up on the Town Quayside which we remember from our visit 4 years ago – the local Mosque is close by and we hear the Imam chanting a frequent call to prayer during the day, starting at 5am!

Yesilova or Bozburun as it is sometimes known is a small sleepy little town which was once a thriving sponge fishing centre but now better known for its boatyard which builds the popular wooden Turkish Gulets - the yard is situated to the west of the village.

We had nice and very welcome hot showers in Aquarium Restaurant and we re-provisioned with some essentials, gin, beer etc! After dinner we managed to attract a crowd from the other boats and a party ensued! Some things never change, do they?!

Friday 18th May – Yesilova or Bozburun

I woke with a sore head (again!) around 8.15am, which is quite late for us, but being on the quayside in the middle of the town, the sound of cars and people moving about outside only slightly disturbed us. I had another stone-cold shower at the restaurant as the sun hadn't yet heated the solar panels!

Today was a 'cultural' excursion to see a Mosque, a waterfall and visit a carpet factory - which we'd done before; so we decided not to go, chilling out in the town instead.

The weather this morning was slightly overcast and after breakfast we heard that the wind was likely to increase in strength to between Force 5 and Force 7 with rain at times; so we decided to stay put!

Another two boats headed off for their free sailing day, leaving us in Yesilova with both 'German' boats - the Lead Boat left us and set off for the town of Orhaniye on the other side of the peninsular where there is another Sunsail base.

We just chilled out for the afternoon and - I snoozed for a couple of hours while the others went for a walk to see the Gulet boatyard along the road out of town. In the evening we enjoyed a nice meal with Peter and Christina at a 'smart' restaurant on the waterfront - both the service and the food were excellent and we had an interesting discussion with the waiter about Islam and the importance of tolerance between religions.

There was some rain overnight with a gusty wind.

Saturday 19th May - Dirsek

We woke 'late' again at around 8.15am - although I did hear in the ‘distance’ and half-sleep the Imam calling everyone to prayer at the Mosque nearby at 5am!

We had a nice breakfast on-board and after the girls had finished some shopping, we prepared to leave. The wind had picked up so it was a tricky manoeuvre away from the quayside, assisted by some advice from a friendly local guy who happened to be passing by! Successfully leaving the small harbour we put out the jib sail and reefed down.

At this point the wind continued to increase in strength as we headed out to the open sea in a northwest direction, past the isolated hazard (a submerged Atabol Rock which lays ‘invitingly’ half a metre below the surface!) off the point of the Bozburun Peninsula where we turned northeast towards the small inlet at Dirsek.

On entering the bay we tried to anchor up but the wind was strong and the anchor dragged so we motored around waiting for the lead boat to call in or arrive to assist us. At this point the wind speed suddenly increased to around a steady 30 knots (Force 7) so manoeuvring in the bay became quite tricky so we decided to motor out and head out back into open water - the wind strength continued to grow to over 40 knots (Force 8) so after maybe 30 minutes we headed back into the relative shelter of the bay.

A VHF message got relayed to us that the Lead Boat 'Daiquiri' was now itself sheltering from the storm in Selimiye nearby and would not be arriving so some guys from the restaurant came out to assist us moor up – the wind was very strong and very gusty! After maybe 4 attempts we managed to pick up the lazy line and lay the anchor! This was for sure the trickiest mooring up we've ever had to deal with!

The yacht 'Dolomite' was first in and then we followed; then 'Marilyn' and finally 'Miss Lead' were secured. The yacht 'Vif Dor' stayed put in Bozburun and the yacht 'Bercelo' rode out the storm with 'Daiquiri' and the Sunsail guys in Selimiye. So everyone was accounted for, moored up and safe!

And then I wrote: But here in Dirsek at 5pm - in what is usually a tranquil and sheltered bay - the wind strength continues to grow! We're all lashed together, anchored and ready for whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw at us tonight! Everything is just creaking and groaning as the wind whistles around us! The wind strength at its height shows almost 50 knots – that’s a very severe Storm Force 10!

Despite the awful weather and conditions all around us in this remote place (no road access here!), we enjoyed what I thought was the best meal since we arrived in Turkey! We had excellent food and super service too – we recall Dirsek from our visit here 4 years ago and remember it as one of our favourite stops. The restaurant guys even told us that they had just watched the FA Cup Final on their generator-driven TV with Chelsea winning by a single goal in extra time!

The storm continued into the night with gusts of around 50 knots (still Force 10) - we're pleased we're on the jetty and lashed down with anchors too and not ‘just’ anchored in the bay like 6 or 7 other yachts! And then sometime in the early hours the rain came and the wind continued to howl outside while we tried to sleep - and pray!