Yacht Retreat - Passage Reports 2004

 

 

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Passage Report Number 1

 

Moored in Ayvalik Marina, Turkey

 

Wednesday 21st April, 2004

 

READY TO GO

 

As I write we are huddled below sheltering from the rain that started in the middle of the night and has not yet paused for breath.  Apart from a five-day interlude of fine, sunny conditions the weather here has been cold, overcast and dull since our arrival and certainly nothing to write home about.

 

We flew out of Heathrow on Friday 2nd April and by late afternoon we were installed in a hotel close to Taksim Square in central Istanbul.  Although it was convenient for our departure the next day, our stay there did nothing to improve our impression of Istanbul.  We felt that it was dirty and uncared for and we couldn’t get away fast enough.  Our journey from Istanbul to Ayvalik took 10 hours by coach including a short ferry trip across Ismit Bay, the 30-mile long inlet at the eastern end of the Sea of Marmara.  We found Retreat in good shape though obviously very dirty.  It felt good to be back on board.

 

On our first full day back in Ayvalik we received the very sad news that our sailing friend Jimmy James had been killed in a road traffic accident in Spain.  We flew our Ensign at half-mast on the day of his funeral – a small enough gesture but all we are able to do in this remote corner.  At least we know that, as a life-long seaman, Jimmy would have appreciated it.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Claire, his widow, and Tristan his grandson, both of whom survived the accident but whose lives have been forever changed.

 

After almost three weeks of fitting out Retreat is once again ready for sea.  Most of the jobs have been routine maintenance though a few have been dealing with the cumulative affect of six year’s intensive cruising.  Retreat was first launched in 1979 and, as a 25-year old, is beginning to show signs of her age.  However, like most ladies, she responds well to some TLC and we have no doubt that she will continue to look after us for a good few years to come.

 

The weather forecast suggests better weather by Friday so we hope we may be able to set sail then.  To find out how we fare, look out for our next Passage Report in a few weeks time.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 2

 

On Passage towards Kuşadasi, Turkey

 

Sunday 9th May, 2004

 

GALES AND REPAIRS

 

As I write we are motoring in a flat calm towards the town of Kuşadasi.  Although we prefer to sail, the benign weather is a welcome relief from the high winds that have dominated the two weeks since our last Passage Report.

 

Our planned departure date of Friday 23rd April was scuppered by a five-day forecast that spoke of gales to come.  As our berth was already paid for at Ayvalik (we took out an annual contract last July) we decided to play it safe and wait for the weather to improve.  However, determined to make the most of our extended stay, we took ourselves by bus to the ancient city of Pergamon.  Both the journey through the Turkish countryside and our walk around the ruined city were very interesting and we returned to Retreat feeling that our ‘cruise’ had really begun, even if we had not yet cast off our lines.

 

The following morning, with the prospect of 36 hours before the onset of bad weather, we motored out of Ayvalik Marina and anchored for the night in a nearby bay.  The exercise proved to be very useful for, in the process, we discovered that our anchor windlass was completely seized.  Over the next three days, whilst Retreat weathered the gales in the security of Ayvalik Marina, we removed the windlass, took it to an engineer in an out-of-town Industrial Estate, had a new bearing fitted and replaced the windlass in its rightful place on our foredeck.  The Engineer’s bill for three hours labour, a new bearing and a new seal was 25,000,000 TL – about £11!  Not only that, but the local sailor whose boat was moored next to Retreat took me to the Industrial Estate by car and spent the whole of the three hours there with me to act as interpreter.  His generosity will be one of our abiding memories of Ayvalik.

 

On Thursday 29th April we finally left on our travels, though not before a last-minute hitch that necessitated a trip into the town to renew our Transit Log.  Although it said on it that it was valid for 12 months from last July, it transpired that we had filled in a section that we should not have filled in, thus rendering it void.  Oh, the joys of bureaucracy!

 

Our first passage took us 26 miles to an anchorage in Bademli Limani (Bay).  After a peaceful night we went ashore to look for the Hot Springs mentioned in the Pilot.  We found the largest one covered over by a rough concrete shelter and quickly stripped off to take a dip.  The temperature was similar to that in a hot bath yet we were sitting on the edge of the beach.  It was a somewhat surreal experience and well worth the trip ashore.

 

From Bademli we made a 22-mile passage to the town of Eskifoca where we anchored in a peaceful bay 1 mile north-west of the town and stayed for two nights.  We spent the intervening day stripping down and repairing our spare autopilot as the one in use had started to run hot:  a useful occupation for a dull, overcast day.

 

On Sunday 2nd May we motored away from Eskifoca, crossed the wide Gulf of Ismir and rounded the mountainous peninsular of Karaburun.  After a passage of 32 miles, we anchored for the night on Karaada, one of the few offshore islands that belong to Turkey rather than Greece.  The following morning we covered a further 23 miles to Alaçati where we anchored for the night just outside the walls of an unfinished marina.  We awoke to a Navtex warning of strong to gale-force winds from the south-east (no prizes for guessing the one direction that our anchorage was open to!) so we weighed anchor and motored into the marina and made fast to the one small section of wall that had some bollards to tie to.  Shortly after we arrived we were visited by the Marina Manager who explained that the marina was not yet open, but we could stay at our own risk without charge.  That turned out to be a good arrangement for the gales kept us there for four nights, the forecast for Wednesday 5th May being:  “Samos Sea:  South 8 locally 9, later 6 locally 7.  Moderate Visibility, locally poor.  Thunderstorm, improving later.”

 

We finally left Alaçati yesterday and made a 20-mile passage to Gokkovar Limani, much of it under sail for the first time this year.  Gokkovar Limani is one of the most beautiful anchorages we have found in the Mediterranean:  it is a narrow gorge entirely protected from the sea which we were lucky enough to have to ourselves for the night.  It is gems like this that make cruising such a delight.

 

We intend to spend two nights in the marina at Kuşadasi so that we can visit nearby Ephesus tomorrow and stock up again at the nearby supermarket.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report in a few weeks time.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 3

 

Anchored in Küçük Çati, Turkey

 

Thursday 27th May, 2004

 

STORM BOUND IN PARADISE

 

As I write we are lying to our anchor with our stern tied back to a tree in one of the most beautiful bays we have visited since leaving Brighton six years ago.  Out at sea a fierce wind is blowing, but only the occasional malevolent sprite manages to find its way over the pine-clad hills to whistle around our mast.  A dozen or so small open fishing boats lie tucked under the shade of the trees on the opposite bank and a small herd of goats is clanking its way around the bay.   Whilst we would like to be on our way, it is difficult to imagine a more delightful spot to be storm bound for a few days.

 

We spent two nights in Kuşadasi as planned and visited Ephesus by Dolmus.  When we arrived there we splashed out on a taxi ride to the shrine high on a hill top that marks the place where the Virgin Mary is reputed to have spent her final years.  The taxi driver then took us to the upper entrance to Ephesus leaving us with a downhill walk through the site.  Sufficient of the buildings and the roads remain to give a real feeling of walking through the ancient city, in all probability, treading on the same slabs of marble that St Paul did when he lived there nearly 2000 years ago.  We very much enjoyed our visit.

 

We motored out of Kuşadasi Marina on the morning of Tuesday 11th May and quickly set sail to enjoy a brisk reach south-west towards the Samos Strait, the narrow channel between the Greek island of Samos and the Turkish mainland.  We passed through the often-rough waters of the strait in perfect conditions and anchored for the night in St Paul’s Bay, a small inlet on the Turkish coast where St Paul is said to have taken shelter from the Meltemi to give his oarsmen a chance to rest.  We were not permitted that privilege for, soon after our arrival, we were waved away by four soldiers who appeared on the shore in a landrover.  Forced out to sea we gritted our teeth to face a 30-mile passage in rising seas before we would have any chance of finding shelter.  However, as she has done before, Retreat showed us that she was up to the task, even if we were not, and we were soon enjoying an exhilarating down-wind sleigh ride under genoa alone and making excellent progress.  Just over 52 miles from Kuşadasi, we finally dropped our anchor in the dark in Kuruerik Bükü, a wide, shallow bay with plenty of room of anchorable depth; the perfect spot for a night time arrival.

 

We spent the next three days exploring the much-indented Gulf of Güllük with hardly another yacht to be seen.  The only blots on this otherwise beautiful stretch of coast are the ugly estates of geometrically-placed concrete holiday homes built by Turks from Istanbul and Ankara and used, it would seem, for only a few weeks each year.  Having spent a few days in Istanbul we can understand the desperate need for its residents to get away, but what a difference even a modicum of imagination and landscaping could have made.

 

On Saturday 15th May we made a 23-mile passage to Gümüşlük, a natural harbour on the tip of the Bodrum peninsular.  We spent a very windy night there tied back to a tree at the head of the bay and, the next day, covered a similar distance around the southern corner of the peninsular to Bodrum itself where we made fast in the yacht marina.

 

Although we try to avoid marinas whenever we can, we really enjoyed our stay in Bodrum.  As always in harbour, our stay was hard work as we made use of the opportunity to wash down our decks, take on water, do some washing and make several trips to the supermarkets.  However, we did find time to visit the museum in the castle which houses many artefacts found in ancient shipwrecks around the Turkish coast.

 

We have spent the ten days since leaving Bodrum exploring the Gökova Körfezi.  Guarded by the Greek island of Kos at its western end, the coastline of this 50-mile long, U-shaped gulf includes spectacular mountains, wooded hills and much-indented bays.  The only problem with cruising its shores is escaping from the clutches of the prevailing westerly winds that blow into it for the majority of each day.

 

We have spent nights at Pabuç and Cökertme on the northern shore and Castle Island, Söğüt, English Harbour, Seven Islands and Küçük Çati on the southern shore.  The scenery has ranged from spectacular to merely delightful and has almost convinced us that Turkey could be a serious contender to Croatia for the title of “Ideal Cruising Ground.”

 

We spent our night at Söğüt on the pontoon of Gokova Sailing Club run by Haluk Karamanoğlu, Turkey’s second circumnavigator.  During our stay there he drove us into Marmaris to look at the marina where we hope to leave Retreat when we return home in a month’s time.  Well over a hundred miles away by sea, it was less than 10 miles by road giving us a rare opportunity to see the marina of our choice in advance.  En route we picked up Sadun Boro, Turkey’s first circumnavigator and very much a national hero.  I was privileged to be invited aboard his yacht “Kismet” (Turkish for “The Will of Allah”) a few days later when we anchored close to her in English Harbour.

 

With luck the winds will abate by Saturday and we will be able to retrace our wake to the west, round the end of the Datça Peninsular and continue on our way towards Marmaris.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report in a few weeks time.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 4

 

Anchored off Marmaris Yacht Marine, Turkey

 

Sunday 13th June, 2004

 

AROUND THE DATÇA PENINSULAR

 

At the time of our last Passage Report we were storm-bound in Küçük Çati, a beautiful bay on the southern shore of the Gulf of Gokova.  Fortunately, the wind abated sooner rather than later and at 0630 on Friday 28th May we were able to set off once more.  We motored west into a 15 knot head-wind for 23 miles and put into Kormen for the night, one of only a handful of harbours visited this year.  After another 0630 start the following day we were finally able to round the Datça Peninsular and put in to the ancient harbour at Knidos.  The weather was not suitable for us to stay the night but we were able to spend an enjoyable few hours exploring the ruins ashore before continuing to Datça Town where we moored, bows to our anchor and stern to the quay.

 

The following morning we watered ship and then walked two kilometres to the out-of-town supermarket with the super-sized shopping trolley that we carry on board.  On the way back we visited an Internet Café in order to pay some bills.  The ordinary, mundane aspects of life have to continue when cruising though, more often than not, they require more time and effort than they do at home.  After a late lunch we slipped our lines and motored 11 miles along the southern coast of the Datça Peninsular to Kuruca Bükü where it took us three attempts to anchor safely as much of the bottom is covered in thick weed.

 

From Kuruca Bükü we made an 8-mile passage to Bençik, the majority under sail.  Once safely anchored we were only just over a mile from Küçük Çati, the harbour we had left four days and 95 miles earlier.  The Romans once considered building a canal here but they only managed to dig a few hundred paces.  From Bençik we continued along the southern shore of the Datça Peninsular to the northern bay at Kuyulu Bükü, a well-sheltered, idyllic spot with superb views.  With Retreat safely anchored and tied back to a tree we enjoyed a long walk ashore amongst pine trees and unusual rock formations.

 

After two nights at Kuyulu Bükü we motored across the head of the quaintly-named ‘Gulf of Doris’ to Marti Marina where we moored alongside the outer breakwater.  Marti Marina had been recommended to us by several Cruising Association members as a possible place to leave Retreat so we were anxious to see it for ourselves.  Whilst there we caught a Dolmus into Marmaris to enquire about flights home and, upon our return, moved off the breakwater and anchored further into the natural harbour of Keçi Bükü.  That evening we were invited on board Hookey of Hamble where we met fellow CA members Martin and Elizabeth Walker and Peter Pryce.

 

We spent three nights at anchor in Keçi Bükü and enjoyed a long walk through the village of Orhaniye.  We finally left on Sunday 6th June and spent the next 9 days slowly working our way around the much-indented coast to Marmaris.  We spent nights in Dirsek, Bozburun, Bosuk Bükü, Serçe Limani and Gerbekse Cove, the majority anchored by our bow with our stern tied back to the land.  This method of mooring is almost universal in Turkey as the majority of anchorages shelve steeply into deep water making swinging free impossible.  When the weather is calm it works well but in a cross-wind it can be very worrying indeed.  So it was that, after a very difficult night in strong winds at Bosuk Bükü, we picked up a laid mooring at Captain Nimo’s Restaurant in Serçe Limani.  We spent two nights on their buoy in return for eating ashore in their restaurant on one and, as an added bonus, enjoyed one of our best walks ashore in the Mediterranean on the intervening day.

 

Tonight we are anchored off Marmaris Yacht Marine, the place we have chosen to leave Retreat for the summer.  Tomorrow morning we shall move into the marina and begin the process of laying up.  We intend to fly back to the UK by the end of the month and return to Turkey after a family wedding on Saturday 18th September.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report in early October.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 5

 

Anchored off Gemiler Adasi, Turkey

 

Thursday 7th October, 2004

 

TURTLES AND FLYING FISH

 

As I write we are anchored off the northern side of Gemiler Adasi in the south-eastern approaches to the Gulf of Fethiye.  The scenery is magnificent and the weather, just at the moment, is calm and sunny.  As you will discover when you read on, such conditions have been in short supply in recent days so we are very much hoping for a quiet night.

 

We arrived back on board Retreat at around 1800 on Monday 20th September following a flight from Gatwick to Dalaman and a transfer by coach.  Retreat was re-launched the following morning and, after a couple of days of hectic activity putting up the sails, laying in stores and generally making ready for sea, we left Marmaris Yacht Marine around mid-day on Thursday 23rd.

 

Our first passage was 21 miles to Ekinçik where we anchored in the south-east corner of the bay, fully protected from the sea.  We spent three nights in this delightful spot giving us time to catch our breath and to make a trip up the near-by Dalyan River.  The bar to the river is too shallow for Retreat and the journey too long for our dinghy so we made the journey by tour-boat.  The trip took us through dense reed-beds to the ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos and then on to Dalyan, famous for the Lycian Rock Tombs carved into the cliffs above the town.  There we enjoyed Turkish Pancakes for lunch cooked in the street before continuing upstream to the inland lake known as Köyceğiz Gölü and returning to Ekinçik.  The inland lake is home to a species of freshwater turtle and the beach at the entrance to the river is one of the few remaining breeding grounds for Loggerhead Turtles.  We saw but one though this was more than made up for by the profusion of Kingfishers we saw throughout the length of river.

 

On Sunday 26th September we made a 30-mile passage to Skopea Limani in the Gulf of Fethiye.  The journey was uneventful except for the sighting of flying fish for the first time since cruising the Aeolian Islands in 2000.  Startled by movement in the water they appear just off the bow gliding rapidly away just skimming the water: a remarkable sight.  We anchored in a delightful spot in the SE corner of 22 Fathom Cove that gets no mention in the pilot book and was, consequently, almost deserted.  We spent two nights enjoying the peace and quiet and swimming frequently to counteract the effects of the unseasonably hot weather.  With temperatures of 35°C in the afternoon and a minimum of 26°C overnight the water was the only place to be!

 

From Skopea Limani we made a 50-mile passage past a mountainous section of coast known as Yediburunlar (The Seven Capes) to Kaş where we anchored in a bay south of the town.  During the course of our journey we enjoyed our one-and-only sail so far this autumn - it lasted for half an hour!  For the rest of the journey it was flat calm so we motored with our full-length sun awning rigged to protect us from the extreme heat.

 

The high temperatures made exploring ashore an endurance test so we decided to press on to Kemer, our final destination for this cruise.  We made a 16-mile passage from Kaş to Kekova Roads followed the day after by a 57-mile passage to Kemer arriving at 1700 on Thursday 30th September.  With Retreat safely moored we went out for a meal in the evening to celebrate Pat’s birthday and our arrival at our most easterly port-of-call - 30° 34' East.  From this point onwards we are on our way home to England, though I suspect the journey will contain just as many twists and turns as the one that brought us here.

 

We left Kemer at noon the following day after the usual hectic round of shopping and doing everything we could possibly think of that needed running water.  However, we were now on our way back with plenty of time in hand so, determined to take things more slowly, we made a relatively-short 15-mile passage to Çineviz Limani (Port Genovese).  This spectacular anchorage, cut deep into towering cliffs, has provided sanctuary to sailors for millennia, but not to us that night.  As we approached from the north we were met by violent gusts blowing down from the cliffs taking us from flat calm to gale force in a matter of minutes.  However, once in the bay the winds moderated and by 1800 all was calm and peaceful.  We went to bed at 2200 but, within little over an hour, were woken by the sound of swell breaking on the shore.  Following a swift appraisal of the situation we decided to clear out and head to sea.  I had to abandon one of our pieces of chain that we use to protect our rope from sharp rock whenever we tie back to the shore, but other than that we disentangled ourselves without incident.

 

Half-a-mile out to sea we found ourselves in a heavy swell from the NE and the wind blowing at force 7.  We were uncomfortable, but safe and could now consider our options.  15 miles back to Kemer into the face of a force 7 held little appeal so we decided to head down-wind, back towards Kekova Roads.  The passage involved passing through a narrow strait between Taşlik Burnu, a major headland, and an off-lying island but, having come through the other way only two-days earlier and with the moon only just past full, we felt it was a reasonable proposition.  In the event, we were over-taken by a fleet of fishing boats as we approached the strait and their stern-lights showed the way through like cats-eyes on a motorway!  Furthermore, as we passed through, the wind dropped away and we completed our night-passage in a flat clam.  We anchored in Üçağiz Limani in Kekova Roads at 0715 on Saturday 2nd October and immediately turned in for some well-earned rest.

 

Üçağiz Limani is one of very few anchorages in Turkey where it is possible to anchor swinging free:  most are too deep or too narrow making it necessary to tie back to the shore.  There is plenty of room for dozens of boats, the water is only 5 to 8 metres deep and the bottom is mud giving good holding.  Furthermore, the surroundings are magnificent and unspoilt making this a definite contender for the Number One spot in our catalogue of Mediterranean anchorages.

 

When we awoke later in the morning we were delighted to find Michael and Peggie Manton nearby in Amber Witch.  We have met them many times at Cruising Association functions but never before afloat.  We joined them aboard Amber Witch for drinks that evening and listened to the haunting sound of the call-to-prayer drifting across the water from the mosque at Üçağiz.  A perfect end to an eventful 24 hours.

 

The following day we went ashore by dinghy and walked to nearby Kale Köy via the castle on the top of the hill.  We then persuaded a fisherman to take us across the bay to Üçağiz and from there walked back to our dinghy.  It was a most enjoyable trip not least because the extremely hot weather had abated to a much more comfortable 25°C to 30°C.  We were in no hurry to leave but we were in need of charging our batteries so the next day we took Retreat for a round trip of many of the other anchorages in Kekova Roads and around Kekova island itself, returning to Üçağiz Limani in time for a late lunch.  To our delight a turtle swam round and around us during the afternoon poking its head up every 5 minutes or so to draw a huge gulp of air.  We have seen several in past years, but never before so close or over such a long period.

 

On the morning of Tuesday 5th October we set off early for a 20-mile passage to Kaş giving a little old lady in a rowing boat a tow across Kekova Roads on our way.  We went this time to Buçak Deniz, anchored just south of the unfinished ‘Kaş Marina’ and tied back to the shore.  However, during the evening the skies clouded over and by 0200 we were in the middle of a violent thunder storm with gusts of 40 knots.  Being tied back in strong winds on the beam is bad news and for the second time in less than a week we had to leave our chosen spot in the middle of the night, this time in inky blackness as the clouds obscured the moon.  We re-anchored further off in 18 metres using all 55 metres of our chain.  Fortunately, the anchor held though we kept watch until the wind died down at dawn.  Later in the day we moved to one of only a few alongside berths when a large yacht left as the weather was still very unsettled and we had no wish to repeat the experiences of the previous night.

 

We cast off our lines from Kaş Marina at 0700 this morning and made a 40-mile passage to Gemiler Adasi where we now lie.  The anchorage is just outside the Gulf of Fethiye where we hope to spend the next week or so leisurely cruising.  How leisurely it will prove to be will depend, as always, upon the weather.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report in a few weeks time.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 6

 

Moored in Marmaris Yacht Marine, Turkey

 

Sunday 31st October, 2004

 

A LONG, HOT AUTUMN

 

As I write we are moored in Marmaris Yacht Marine, our chosen resting place for the winter.  In the three weeks since our last Passage Report we have enjoyed unbroken sunshine with hardly a breath of wind.  Indeed, it has been the longest period of calm, settled weather we have experienced in the Mediterranean at any time of year, let alone the autumn.  We have actually found it rather too hot for our laying-up tasks but, having seen the weather reports for the UK, we know better than to ask for sympathy for that!

 

The calm weather enabled us to enjoy eight days of idyllic cruising around the Gulf of Fethiye.  About ten miles wide and ten miles deep, scattered with islands and surrounded by high mountains, this gulf is arguably the most beautiful cruising area in the Mediterranean.  The islands and peninsulas enclose many superb anchorages, the only fly in the ointment being the fact that most are too deep to anchor swinging free making it necessary to tie back to the shore.  Fortunately, the calm weather enabled us to accomplish this each night without drama giving us a peaceful end to our autumn cruise.

 

During our eight days in the gulf we went ashore at Fethiye and Göcek to explore and do some shopping but, other than that, we stayed aboard dividing our time between swimming, reading, eating and drinking copious quantities of mineral water to stave off dehydration.  The sun has been so hot that our principal form of exercise has been moving our sun shades around Retreat to make sure that not a single ray got any where near us.

 

On Saturday 16th October we made a 40-mile passage from the Gulf of Fethiye to Marmaris Yacht Marine where we now lie.  Since then we have been working hard to complete our laying up before we fly home in about ten days time.  As well as all the usual tasks such as washing, drying and folding the sails and servicing the engine and outboard we have a number of painting jobs to complete.  The dinghy floor needs painting inside and out and much of the non-slip ‘treadmaster’ on our decks has worn out and needs removing.  Replacing it with new ‘treadmaster’ would be far too expensive so we have decided to use non-slip deck paint instead.  How well it will stand up to the rigours of cruising only time will tell.

 

For those of you who are interested, our statistics for 2004 are as follows, the very low sailing percentage being largely attributable to the long, hot autumn:

 

 

Distance logged:

954

nautical miles in 76 days

Time spent at Sea:

187

hours

Time spent under Sail:

20

hours

Time spent under power:

167

hours

Average distance travelled per week:

88

nautical miles

Average speed:

5.1

knots

Proportion of time sailing:

10.7

%