Thursday, 17 September 2009

Amazon Creek to Kale Koyu, Bodrum - Trouble Brewing!

It was all going so well.....
11th September
Woke up on deck to find that my sky of stars had vanished, it was a bit nippy and some menacing cloud cover had formed, obscuring the moon. The creek was dark and no longer seemed romantic - creepy more like! Disappeared downstairs and was kept awake all night by pounding rain on the coachroof and other weird sounds that in the dead of night, send your imagination into overdrive! Having thought i'd heard the sound of a lighter being constantly flicked, someone banging on the door, and dreamt someone stole our outboard, i was just glad to wake up in the morning! That Baileys has to go.......! Once we were up though, all we could see were fluffy white clouds and sun.  The cove was deserted except for one other yacht and a small fishing trawler. We had breakfast on the move as we motored straight across a bay that wouldn't have been out of place on a Scottish loch or Norwegian fjord. Pine covered hills were everywhere in all shades of green and brown. The sea was like a millpond and very picturesque. We reached the cove of Cati and One-Tree-Island (named such for the obvious reason) and dropped anchor in clear fish-filled water. I jumped in for a snorkel and tried to go ashore on the so-called beach but found myself invaded by flies so gave up and swam back to the boat....just as well really, as I discovered the anchor had dragged and we were drifting slightly. Time to go,  so we set off, the idea being to get into the gulf ready for an easy, close reach sail to Bodrum with the wind coming from the west in the afternoon as usual. Sails adjusted, beer out, sunbathing accomplished...oh! Wind coming from the East...bugger! And with the wind came black skies and rain....howling wind and lashing rain as it happens - bloody cold as well..what happened to the weather!?! Ten minutes earlier i'd been sunbathing with a beer on the foredeck! Time to hot foot it back to Bodrum! 
...and then it all went a bit pear-shaped
So many yachts had been caught out (probably due to a broken Navtex, like us!) and there was a flotilla of yachts and gulets heading towards the shelter of Kumbahce Bay at a pace, so we decided to ramp up the revs and join in. The rain kept coming and the temperature dropped quickly. Being the optimistic types we had only packed 'summer' clothes with short sleeves and had to root around for anything vaguely appropriate to the conditions. We were wet, cold and miserable......holidays eh? 
Bodrum Castle loomed into view eventually thank heavens and we had a speedy look at Rod Heikells book to ensure we knew where we needed to be......we were ok! I got up onto the rain-lashed foredeck to drop anchor..nervous times! By some miracle we managed to dig in at the first attempt and celebrated with a coffee (what?), sitting in the saloon listening to the storm batter the coachroof. Very tiring all this storm-sailing so we tried to have a nap but were constantly fretting over the anchor and whether it would hold or not. 
Marco offered to go into Bodrum for supplies so that we could cook on board and fitted the outboard to the dinghy in wind and horizontal, not wanting to look like a wimp decided to go with him and we headed off to the nearest bit of land....the jetty near Halicarnas night club. The ride was actually quite good fun, albeit wet! We tied up and dumped some rubbish before nosing around some side streets for a shop that would sell us our last supplies of the holiday. Eventually we decided to find a restaurant and chose a cheap place (being all unwashed and scruffy as we were), and had overcooked steak with accompanying fat, which Marco fed to a big dog, a cuddly looking hound who sat at our table, much to the disgust of the locals. 
After dinner (and drinks), we walked around a bit, then went to a market for food and a small shop for beer. Another wet trip back to the boat and bed, just as the rain started again. We lay awake for what seemed like hours listening to the pounding of the rain on deck and the different pounding of Halicarnas nightclub, along with other bars....before dozing off into a fitful slumber! 

Kargilibuk to Amazon Creek via 7 islands

Thursday 10th September

Loguz Koyu from our breakfast table

Kargilibuk is such a lovely place to wake up. To be honest there are so many idyllic places in this part of Turkey that it's difficult to choose a favourite, but for solitude and friendliness of people this is definitely a high contender.
We heard a gulet leaving at just after 6am and were up at 7, ready to head over to the restaurant as promised. Eleanor was at the end of the jetty when we arrived, fishing for octopus. Ali sleeps in his car and was just getting up as we sat down at our table by the waters edge. While he and Eleanor were making the tea, we played with the dogs and soaked up the atmosphere. After 20 minutes Marco was getting impatient, but it eventually arrived and we were reminded that time doesn't really matter in this kind of place (unless of course you are on a two week yacht charter and need to get the thing back to Bodrum!)....
While we were drinking, a fisherman and his girlfriend arrived for tea as well and we all sat around a table listening to Eleanor's story of how she came to meet Ali and move to Turkey after a bohemian upbringing in London. We then had an entertaining ten minutes watching a gulet untangle it's anchor from ours! We had probably crossed theirs when we entered the bay last night and were glad we were not on board to be potentially shouted at by the gulet owner.
Eventually it was time to leave, but Eleanor and Ali would not hear of payment for the tea. They had just liked our company. We hope that they are still there when we come back on a boat of our own one day.
We upped anchor and motored out towards Tuzla where we intended to have a more foodie breakfast in the peaceful surroundings described by Rod Heikell. Hah! Fat chance! The bay was like gulet city and we were one of only two yachts there. We anchored in the bay in around 5m and swung happily while all the gulets piled in and out around us. I was a lovely setting though - just a pity that the view didn't quite match the aerial shot in the pilot book.
Having checked the anchor, which was wedged nicely behind a rock, we read and drank beer (well it was now too late for breakfast), then started to head over towards Yedialari (or 7 islands). We had read in Rod's Eastern Aegean pilot that a restaurant exists in North Creek which would make an ideal lunch stop. The journey didn't take long at all on the motor and we weaved our way through the islands to our destination. A lone gulet was anchored there so we dropped our anchor nearby and took a line ashore before heading out in the dinghy which we managed to ground several times due to the rocky, shallow shoreline. It quickly became apparant that the restaurant does not exist, at least not where we were looking. A Turkish farmer waved at us as we walked along the waters edge but that was all. Disappointed, we took a dinghy ride around the rest of the bay in case we were looking in the wrong place but never found a thing - a shame as this is a lovely spot. 

We attempted to sail out of the 7 islands area but the wind was almost on the nose, not to mention it being quite shoaly in the area, so we took the genoa back in and motored once more into the wind. It was uncomfortable and boring as we had done absolutely no sailing all day. We passed a reef on the way to Amazon Creek which showed as being marked with a North Cardinal on the chart. we approached we could see that it was actually marked by a West Cardinal...thank heavens Marco spotted it as we had been heading straight for the rocks  As we passed west of the reef, it was an easy run into Bordubet Limani where Amazon Creek was. We motored up with the wind behind us, but the area looked deserted with hardly any yachts and no sign of life. It looked as thought we would be dipping into our tinned emergency rations for the evening. Having checked out the pilot book, we couldn't see the restaurant that was indicated so headed around the corner, joining another yacht that was also heading that way. As we dropped anchor we noticed a wooden sign attached to a rickety jetty. "Restaurant VHF 77".  Once we'd got a line around a tree, Marco called the number on the VHF and, true to reliable Turkish form, got an answer immediately from the friendly restaurant,  
The restaurant sign at Amazon Creek with steps leading up to the path
who promised to collect us from the top of the staircase at 8. After that little adventure we relaxed, had a beer, got ready and hopped into the dinghy for a short ride to the jetty. We climbed the stairs and the car was there waiting for us. Talk about service! We were driven to The Amazon Club, which was a busy open-air restaurant with a lovely ambience. The food was all self-service and was pretty delicious considering we hadn't really built up our hopes of eating out at all that night!  We were pretty stuffed actually and that included a pretty reasonable bottle of pinot grigio and all for about £30.  We drifted back to the jetty with the aid of our torch (pitch black so you really need one) and celebrated our lovely evening with a baileys in the cockpit, listening to the sound of cicadas and silence. Fell asleep studying a pitch black sky, studded with a million stars.

Okluk Koyu to Kargilibuk (Longoz)

You can lead a dinghy to water...
9th September 2009
We woke up to amazing scenery - lush greenery, flat calm water, clear blue skies. The only sounds were those of the cicadas and the occasional ripple of tiny fish splashing near the surface of the water.
We had coffee and the silence was interrupted by the sounds of the gulets 'waking up' (natter natter loud people). So we escaped by motoring over in the dinghy to shore for supplies. There was a well-stocked mini market compared to most we have been to and we picked up bread, yoghurt, salami and other snacks. Back on board we just relaxed for a few hours - some sort of miracle for us as we always have to be on the move, making the most of our two week holiday and seeing as much as we can! I fancied investigating the north shore of the bay so we jumped in the dinghy again and were off. Half way across, Marco remarked that the outboard didn't feel very powerful....this comment was quickly followed by a splutter and the death rattle of said outboard as it stopped completely. We paddled by hand across to a yacht with a long line ashore and fed our way along it to get to the small jetty and land. Once there, the yacht owner, who had been giving us suspicous looks from the jetty, jumped into his own dinghy and rode back to his boat looking very grumpy.
We walked along the shore towards the restaurant and back, then attempted to go the other way but there was an ominous buzzing and quite a few bees were in the area nearby so we thought better of it. We decided that the best thing now would be to swim back to our own boat, Marco dragging the dinghy behind him. As we got in the water, the German owner of the boat with the line appeared in his cockpit and told us we could not touch his line again because of 'the storm'??!! Not quite sure why 'touching his line' made a difference at this stage with blue skies above us but anyway, we weren't bothered and Marco waded out, towing me inside the dinghy.
As we reached the gulet jetty, one of the staff came out and asked if we would like help. Fantastic!! He jumped in his own (large) dinghy, fired up his (powerful) outboard and towed us back to Balina within seconds.  What a nice chap and just goes to show how friendly the Turks generally are....
After filling the outboard with petrol and making sure it started (it did), we prepared to leave and I swam over to untie the long lines. Everything went smoothly and we motored out of our new favourite place. Marco was rather too keen to sail between the dodgy rock islands near the entrance to the bays, but i vetoed that idea and we left the sailing until we were well past any potential dangers.
We headed off to Cleopatra's beach (Snake/Castle Island) and managed a great sail on the beam, doing 5kn in just 10kn of wind. It only took just over an hour to get to our destination - and once we had picked our spot, we anchored quick and easy then sat at the bow of the boat with a beer, reading our books. We'd been told to expect the place to be teeming with tripper boats but apart from one gulet and a couple of other yachts, the place was pretty quiet. We made lunch and sat eating it whilst watching the wind whip the sea into foamy white horses....we were getting 11knots blowing into the bay from the west....the direction we would shortly be heading. Joy!

We left, and headed around the east of Castle Island and were straight into the wind. As we came around, we were able to sail towards Sogut on a beam reach at over 6knots in part. It was fabulous, but the wind died as soon as we were behind the headland so we motored into Sogut Bay. We had considered stopping here overnight but although it looked nice, it also looked kind of formal, with yachts lined up perfectly on a pontoon by a 'sailing club'. We checked the chart and decided to carry on towards Kargilibuk (also known as Longoz Koyu). The sailing was rubbish. We were head to wind the whole way and it was impossible and uncomfortable to sail in the direction we wanted so we took everything in and made our way by motor to our chosen bay. It was easy to spot and getting in there was a real relief. As we pulled around the shoulder of the bay we spotted a Sunsail was moored near the entrance and was bobbing madly against the swell coming in from the open gulf. It seemed an odd place to be, as it was so calm just around the corner. We edged in, being careful to go slowly as we knew there was a large sand bar further into the bay and we couldn't see the bottom. There was a man waving to us on the jetty further down to the left but we ignored him and started to reverse back , picking our spot and preparing to drop the anchor. The same man who had waved, jumped in his dinghy and motored across, asking if we needed help. We didn't really, but we let him assist us anyway and of course, this made it necessary to accept an invitation to eat at his restaurant on the shore that evening.

There was no sun on our side of the bay so, having taken a second line ashore, we relaxed for a while down in the saloon before getting ready and making our way across to 'Ali's' restaurant. Managed to ground our dinghy on the sand bar on the way over which just goes to show how shallow it was, and how you can lose your concentration after a beer and a glass of gin.

The pit containing dinner. Wonderful!
 The 'restaurant' was a few tables in a clearing with coloured fairy lights strewn throughout the trees. The oven was a round pit in the ground hanging over which was a large griddle-type thing with several large lumps of chicken along with potatoes in foil. The 'kitchen' was a wooden shed at one side of the clearing and in there, Ali's partner, an English lady called Eleanor was busy preparing our side dishes.  After a long wait, our dinner arrived and what a feast!! Apart from the barbecued chicken, there were two kinds of salad, chips, jacket potato, baked onions, aubergine dip and more! Luckily sailing builds up a hefty apetite but even so, we were eating for ages and when we were long past full, the plates hardly looked touched! While we ate we chatted to Ali and Eleanor about how they came to have this place in the trees, and after finishing, we played with their dogs while listening to piped music from Phantom of the Opera to Simply Red! It was a simply magical evening made even more so because we went with no expectation and were the only people there......normally this puts us off but this place was special and if it is still there we would recommend it to anyone sailing in the area.

Eleanor prepared us a doggy bag of leftovers to take with us for lunch the next day and as we left, they shone a torch to the end of the pontoon so that we could find our dinghy. We made it back to Balina with promises to call back in the morning for tea. A lovely couple, a great setting and an amazing meal, cooked as close to nature as possible.......we will remember this for a long time.

Cokertme to Okluk Koyu English Harbour

Tuesday 8th September
Off to explore
We woke to the sounds of the gulets leaving the bay. When i stuck my head out to see what was going on, I got a bit of a sun and LOTS of cloud. It got worse when I checked Navtex and it stated " gale, force 8 S.W. Turkey".
Naturally, Marco thinks it will come to nothing. Hmm...we'll see!
After breakfast, we checked the pilot guide and decided to head to English Harbour today. First, though we needed some lunch provisions, so we jumped into Balina Junior and headed off across the bay to investigate the hamlet where we'd eaten last night.
We dragged the dinghy up the beach and walked along. Our boat-driver greeted us and we carried on, but got all to the end and saw no market except for a normal one that sells rugs, clothes etc. Heading back, our driver beckoned us over and took us through last night's restaurant to the fridges. These were huge walk-in ones and he spread his hand out, indicating that we could have what we wanted! As we were really only after salad stuff, we chose two huge tomatoes, 2 cucumbers and a courgette and paid 2TL. Back at the dinghy, we struggled to start the outboard and quickly discovered that again, we had a line wrapped round the prop. We got free and were quickly back on our boat. Having tidyed up and prepared ourselves as well as we could, we slipped the lines. That makes it sound easy - ha! What it entailed was Marco going out again in the dinghy and spending a large amount of time trying to untie the bowline that our boat man had tied last night which was now stiff with sea salt! All this whilst avoiding sea urchins and in a rocking dinghy! Eventually he managed to loosen the line enough to slip it over the rock and hurried back to Balina and, pulling up the anchor, we headed out.
It didn't take long for the wind to get up to 16kn and we were reefed with a smaller genoa to stop us heeling so much. We were able to go along at 5kn on a broad reach but we were heading in the wrong direction. With the wind directly behind us as we moved round, we pulled down the main and sailed on a full genoa and were impressed to do 5.5kn, flying along.
There were a lot more yachts out today, but clouds were heading across from the north and it looked pretty dire for later on. But we spotted the two islets outside Degirmen Buku quickly and sailed across, only putting the sails down when we were very close. We spotted the entrance to Okluk Bay. We needed to be here in order to get a meal tonight (it was too far to motor from the other side of the bay) so we rounded the head where there is a mermaid statue, erected by Sadun Boro, the first Turk to circumnavigate in a yacht.
Moody cloud cover
Even with the cloud, it was a lovely place and we scanned the bay looking for a suitable mooring spot. The restaurant pontoon was clear except for one yacht that we recognised as a Yildiz flotilla yacht, so we guessed (rightly as it happened) that the pontoon would be filled up later which we didn't fancy being part of, so in the end, I found a gap between a line of liveaboard boats opposite, all of which had 2 lines ashore. We prepared, dropped anchor and I ran to the back of the boat, leapt in with the line, and took the line around a tree, waiting while Marco took up the slack, then tied the second to a larger tree and we were in!!
It was still cloudy and also cold compared to our other days but we still managed to catch a small amount of sun at the bow of the boat, where we sat reading and drinking beer. We'd decided to have an early dinner so while Marco dozed (hard life being a skipper), I showered and while he showered, I prepared a G&T for us. What a team!
We left for the Yat Limani restaurant just before sundown, and managed to get a lovely table at the water's edge. We had meze (again) and for a change tried meatballs which were lovely. We polished that off with a slice of baklava. We drank beer tonight in an attempt to save some money as we are running a bit over-budget but I think we coped ok!
Back on Balina, we had a Baileys each and Marco thrashed me at Connect 4. Thunderstorms rumbled ominously in the background and flashes of lightning lit up the bay.....but no rain......yet!

Palamut to Cokertme (with life jackets!!)

Monday 7th September

Before the lifejackets - Gulf of Kekova

Anyone who has sailed all their life, or been living aboard for a while would consider sailing across a gulf in Turkey to be childs-play. For us however, it became our most exciting sail to date (all 2 years worth).
The day began with Marco banging his head on the companionway hatch and swearing, which then turned into a debate about where to have our morning coffee - me wanting to go back to last night's restaurant for a change.
After we'd had coffee in the cockpit,  we then went off to last night's restaurant where we had another! We also got to see a lot of kittens gamboling in the sunshine and have a bite to eat too!
Back on board there was the obligatory impatience from Marco, who was keen to fill the water tanks, slip the lines and get going. I hope he's not in this much of a hurry when we are living on board otherwise we'll be like Jules Verne and have seen the world in 80 days! I was keen to get the chap from last night to help us untie, but no, we have to learn (!) so we had to do it all ourselves. I suppose he had a point. While Marco was doing boat jobs, I busied myself tidying the saloon and took some photos of Palamut, then returned to Balina, where he was spending time working out which lines were useless and could be recycled to make slips that would hold us in place while we untied the rather tight bowlines that had been rather too expertly done last night.
Once we were ready we started the engine and - oh! A large fishing vessel had parked dead ahead of us during the night..more than likely over our anchor. But we carried on regardless. All was working well until the chain started pulling to starboard and we locked. We then knew that the anchor was caught under the fishing boat. We were dragged right over to it, where fortunately there was a crew on board who held us off while Marco reversed back up towards the jetty, allowing the anchor to come up straight in the roller. We could see that we should have really just drifted very slowly forward so that the anchor could drag out from under the fishing boat, but with the ballast on one side and berthed yachts on the other, it would probably not have worked either. In the end, no harm was done and we were on our way again, Marco muttering loudly that the whole episode made us look like amateurs (but we ARE amateurs!). Personally I'd defy most people to successfully get out of the corner we were hemmed into.
Once out, we had a mixture of nothing and large gusts, so we waited until we were well out of the bay of Palamut, then put up our sails. We did ok, managing 4kn in around 15kn of wind. Occasionally we got 'scary' gusts of up to 26kn but they didn't last and it was relatively easy for us to get round to Knidos and Cape Krio beyond, although we had to sail out and come in again to ensure that we weren't going straight into the wind.
As we rounded the Cape, we put the motor on and, just as Rod Heikell describes in the pilot, the wind was patchy so we knew we had done the right thing.
Our plan was to head round into the Gokova Korfezi and head for Cokertme on one tack. Sempra from the restaurant in Palamut had done her best to put us off. "It's far too windy", but Marco of course, wanted to give it a try. I found to my surprise that I am becoming quite trusting of his judgement around the sailing so was ok with his decision. After all, we could always head back to Bodrum if the conditions weren't right. 

The lighthouse on Cape Krio

As we passed the lighthouse on Cape Krio, the wind went from 6kn to a steady 17kn. We started to heel uncomfortably and Marco gave me the helm so that he could reef. Unfortunately, as I turned in to the wind, there was a huge gust and the bow was taken round 180 deg. Lots of shouting and swearing ensued, followed by the engine going on so that we could right ourselves again.  Once that little drama was over, Marco set a course that should get us near as dammit to Cokertme.
Once we got ourselves into the Gulf of Gokova, things really took off. The wind was steady at 22kn, gusting 26kn and the waves were building. Spray was coming into the cockpit and covering us both. It was great fun, but nervewracking at the same time, especially as we headed more central with land a long way off in both directions. I started to feel sick - it was getting rougher and I suggested that life jackets might be a wise idea. Marco didn't object so i went down the companionway steps to retrieve two jackets from the locker. I swore continuously to myself as I struggled, both to put on the life jacket, and with the feelings of nausea that were starting to overwhelm me. I needed to get back in the cockpit.
With lifejackets on, we continued happily on a single tack across the gulf doing on average 6kn, occasionally 7kn. As we got to the north side of the gulf, we could make out a yacht, heading in the same direction as us, and it was then that we realised this was the ONLY yacht we had seen all afternoon. We'd been almost alone in the gulf. Did this make us brave, stupid, or simply normal (compared to perhaps other charterers)??
Nearing our destination - just in time
I went to check the chartplotter downstairs, only to find that it still showed us just outside Palamut. With nothing electrical to guide us, I reached for the charts and hoped i could still remember enough of my dayskipper theory to check our position. Hmmm....GPS also buggered! Nothing for it but to rely on pilotage! I checked the charts for any potential hazards to our approach and there were none, so all that we had to do was look for some steel masts that indicated the entrance to Cokertme. We motored for a while, getting as close to the shoreline as we dare and just as the sun was touching the horizon, we saw the masts. Down came the sails and we motored in.
We did a little reccy of the place, and a little boat from the Ibrahim restaurant pottered around but didn't come to us. The boat from the Rose Mary did however! He tried to get us to come to his pontoon (which was full), and then indicated that we should come inside the jetty. I would advise anyone else that is in this situation to refuse. We made a polite attempt, but clipped the bottom and Marco immediately put the boat hard astern and we reversed quickly back out. Despite the boat owner's protests that this was fine, Marco (wisely i think), refused and we motored over to the other side of the bay. Luckily for us, the Rose Mary boat came with us and helped to take the lines ashore, tying us on nicely which was just as well really as the anchor chain got stuck. He asked us what time we would like to be collected for dinner and, as we were quite a way from the restaurants now, we gladly agreed that he could come and collect us at 8:30.
Well, after all that excitement, it was a wonder we had any strength left to open the beers, but heroically, we found some somewhere and gratefully guzzled one back, then showered and changed.
Right on the dot, we heard the whirr of the outboard and our boat friend was by our side to take us to dinner.
We ate right on the sea-front,  and had kebabs, fish, meze and a bottle of wine. It was another idyllic location and afterwards we were chauffered back to Balina. Full of wine and food, we crashed out - fast asleep by 10:30 again!

Bozuk Buku to Palamut

Yes! Let's's only a mile across the bay!

Sunday 6th September
Not another crap sleep?! Yep, the cabin is getting warmer and we both wake up feeling rather dehydrated. Not sure if that's the previous night's beer or just the heat, but anyway, the long and the short of it is that if you MUST have a cosy bed and a good sleep at night, you won't like the early days of cruising! For me however, lack of sleep just means an excuse to get up at 6.30, make coffee and sit at the bow watching this little part of planet earth wake up.
I'd wanted to go and see the fort at the other end of the bay, but Marco didn't fancy putting the outboard on the dinghy so he rowed instead. Mistake! He quickly got pissed off with the whole thing and started making faces - and who would get the blame? Yes the wife! So i kept helpfully suggesting that we went back for the outboard but he wouldn't have it (why ARE men so stubborn?) so we limped on until we got to Sailor's House where we got out. However, in only our flip flops (well prepared again), it was almost impossible to climb up and so we gave up and went back to Balina, where the outboard was fitted and away we went again. We then motored over to Ali Baba's place. We quickly wished we had gone there last night - there was a rickety jetty that all the yachts had tied up to, a dog with big ears and a lovely looking restaurant. Oh well, next time blah blah......
We still couldn't easily get to the fort, so abandoned the idea altogether (sniff) and came back to the boat. We slipped the lines and motored out to Serce, a large bay just around the corner. We dropped anchor and had a lovely breakfast with a swim. Once refreshed, we motored out and were immediately able to put the sails out in over 15kn of wind. The conditions were very similar to the previous day, so we were on a close reach until we were near to Symi and then it died again. We tacked and found enough wind to take us up the side of Symi, deciding that we would try to go through the Nisos passage. This is a short cut that enables the sailor to avoid having to go all the way around the island of Nimos, thus saving quite a bit of time. However, two things have to be stated. One is that it is technically out of bounds, being as it is, in Greek waters. In practise the Greeks tend to turn a blind eye to this little short cut. Secondly, the water shallows up considerably and suddenly.

Light blue means shallow!

We had read about the shallow traverse in Heikell's book so were prepared. As we approached the passage, Symi town could be clearly seen with all the picture postcard houses spilling down the hillsides. We would have loved to go there, but didn't want to take the chance without a Greek courtesy flag.  As we entered the Nisos passage, the depth sounder came up sharply from 25-30metres to 2.5metres. As we went through the passage the water became crystal clear. We trusted Rod Heikell's book which stated that it was alarming to see this rise in depth, but that there was absolutely no danger, and soon, the depth sounder was showing 10-20 metres again. We were through unscathed.
Next problem on the horizon (almost literally), was wind direction. We were heading west....wind coming from......west. Damn! So we went on a close reach towards Datca, then tacked back up again to go round the peninsula. This was the intention anyway, but it all went a bit wrong, as something had happened to the genoa track. Won't bore you with the details, but eventually, after 'words' between skipper and crew, it was fixed. By this time of course, the wind had dropped to 6kn and we weren't moving. So we took everything in and switched on the motor. We wanted to make it round to Ova Buku - another great sounding bay and restaurant - for a quiet night and dinner at 'Oguns Place'. But as we set our course due west, the wind that had been so non-existent for an hour or more, decided to pick up again on the nose. We bounced around in 18 knot winds, motoring into confused seas with a sinking sun.Oh good! By this time we were both knackered, but knew that sanctuary was just around the bay. The waves kept coming and breaking over the bow. What a nightmare! We were so relieved to see the watchtowers of the bay and motored in, just gagging for a beer and a relaxed night. Bloody hell!!! Not a berth to be had anywhere. Just 6 boats had filled up the entire jetty. Nobody came to see if they could squeeze us in anywhere and lots of swimmers were bobbing about in the water....anchoring was not an option in any case. 
There was nothing for it but to motor back out into the wind. Quickly we decided Palamut was our only hope, being just around the corner and so it was spray, waves, bobbing etc all the way, and to cap it all, just as the sun was setting and we could see a nice little gap for us ahead in the harbour, a 43ft yacht raced past us, got in and was tying up before we'd even got into the harbour walls. We were, instead directed to a corner of the harbour where it was all fun, fun, fun tying up with massive help from a local guy who had to pull us away from a huge pile of underwater ballasting on the starboard stern side, then I had to let out more and more anchor to get the stern round and near enough to the quay to be able to drop the passerelle. Finally we winched ourselves in and were safe for another night!
After another niggle about whether to bother showering or not (hello, I'm covered in salt), I went off to do just that, while Marco skulked about with a beer, then graciously decided he would have a 'quick wash down' too.
The lovely Jardin de Sempra
Palamut is a lovely little town and we were really very glad that we ended up here. We found a lovely restaurant called Jardin de Sempra, and treated ourselves to fillet steak, fish fillets, and a bottle of red wine before heading back for a Baileys nightcap and an exhausted sleep.

Bozborun to Bozuk Buku and a choice of restaurants!

Saturday 5th September  
If the book's true we'd better not bother
What a rubbish sleep! It's quite amazing that when  swinging several tons of boat around a small anchor we can sleep like babies, yet when safely tied up to a nice little harbour wall, every sound reverberates around and conspires to keep waking us up every hour on the hour...although by 'us' I mean me, as the exhausted skipper (!) slept as usual, like a log.
The fridge was making all sorts of weird sounds during the night - this was unusual as it hadn't happened before, and I wondered if it had anything to do with Marco flicking various switches yesterday in an attempt to locate the second water tank....I dozed off. Then woke up with a jump. Someone was on the passerelle (the board used to get from land to boat)...shit! I listened for another sound - nothing. I was imagining it....lots of creaks and groans on a yacht. 'Click' 'creak' oh bugger there it is again. I lifted my head, just in time to see a shadowy figure leap from the companionway steps to the galley sink - followed by a plaintive 'miaow'. It was a bloody cat!!! I couldn't believe it. One more creak up in the cockpit and before i knew it, another cat had stuck it's head through the hatch. The first cat's  mate. We had two night-visitors. As i got up to see what they were doing, they jumped back off the boat and sat on the path by the boat,  staring at me. Then they wandered off as quickly as they had arrived. Back in bed I only managed to doze before the mezzuin started calling for early morning prayers so I grabbed my camera and took a few early sunrise pictures (which came out badly) then put the kettle on. We went and got some provisions from the minimarket nearby, then after breakfast Marco cleaned out the cockpit (wetting the bed through the open hatch in the process).

Once we were ready to leave, the lines were slipped and I was given the signal to raise the anchor. Pressed the 'up' button on the windlass......nothing! The anchor windlass was dead. Hmmm, this wouldn't have anything to do with M playing with all the switches last night would it?? We tried everything we could think of, then called Yildiz. This was the second time in two hours, the first due to having called them already about the location of the second water tank switch. Within minutes, Yildiz had fixed the problem.....there was a trip switch that was lit green, but was meant to be red (bizarrely). But within minutes we had got the newly working anchor up and were off.

The ruins at Kiseli Adasi. As close as we got.
 We had planned to stop off for a visit to the ruins at Kiseli Adasi island on the way out, but a large gulet was already anchored with lots of daytrippers splashing about and screaming at the top of their voices so we gave it a wide berth and added the island to our 'must do next time' list.

Once we were out into the Yesilova Korfezi, we were able to sail straight away on a close reach towards Symi at 4kn. It was really lovely to be able to sail so early in the day and with such reliable winds. We switched on the autohelm, grabbed a cold beer each and sat at the bow of the yacht listening to Bob Marley and scanning the area, both taking in the fabulous scenery and looking for would-be hazards at the same time. We made ham and cheese rolls and ate these along with beer number two as Balina gently heeled and stayed on course.

After lunch, we tacked around towards Marmaris, only needing the engine for a very short while when we got too close to land and lost the wind. Having figured out where Bozuk Buku was, we followed a catamaran into the bay, passing by the very impressive fort ruins to port. There were a couple of nice looking restaurants as we entered, but Marco had read about Loryma restaurant and reckoned it sounded the best.
As we approached their jetty, two men rushed out and had picked up a lazy line for us to grab. Ha! little do they know i'm an expert now. As we approached though, the wind suddenly picked up and was reading 12 knots - well, it was a farce really! I chucked a stern line to the waiting Turkish boys, who passed me the lazy line in return. But before I could run it to the bow, Marco let go of the helm for a second, and the wind took the bow away and we ended up alongside instead of stern-to. Not what was intended - oh no! One of the chaps asked if we'd like some help and before we knew it, Balina was tied up with a lazy line at the front and side, effectively achoring us in twice....were we in for a blowy night??.

Bozuk Buku at dusk.
 Having switched the engine off we sat and admired the beautiful bay that we were looking into. Had it not been for the noisy generator of the Loryma restaurant, it would have been idyllic. Time for a beer and we sat, watching all the yachts coming in. Without fail, they all turned to port on entry and went to Ali Baba's place. Eventually just one boat came to share our pontoon. Two Germans who obviously knew just what they were doing as they perfected the lazy line mooring perfectly despite there being more wind than before.  They then leapt out and sat drinking beer with the owners of Loryma.

We played music to try and drown out the noise from the generator, then got ready for a very lazy dinner. Loryma didn't really look too inviting all in all, but in reality of course, the food was lovely - meze and fresh fish. It was nice to be almost alone and to look out at the entire bay. After all that relaxing, we were more tired than we thought and were both asleep by 10! We had wondered about our choice of restaurant, given that everyone else had gone over to Ali's, but it had actually be quite nice to eat on our own.

Keci Buku to Bozborun

Friday  4thSeptember
Balina looking across to Bozborun

 Hmmm! And we thought that Turkey was meant to have wind??Well there ain't none in these parts!  We woke up to see Balina on what resembled a mirror. The scenery was beautiful so we thought we would hang around in the area for a few hours and relax. So after our coffee, Marco decided it was time i learned to dive off the boat. No, not the sort of diving with a wetsuit and tank - I can already do that thanks! No, being able to actually dive head first into water is one of two childhood things I can't do. The other is ride a bicycle - I know, cruel parents! Anyway, learning to dive off the boat took about ten minutes and consisted of me working my way up from the bottom rung of the swim ladder to the top. Piece of cake! Don't think I'll be diving off the deck anytime soon though. Afterwards we had breakfast and said goodbye to Keci Buku - for now. Another place though on our list of places to return to once we become liveaboards.
We motored out into the Hisaronu Gulf. We intended to have lunch in a bay called Sailor's Paradise which had a restaurant, but first wanted to visit Bencik, a sheltered cove across the bay. We managed to sail for most of the way over but dropped the sails and motored into Bencik, avoiding the sunken rock which was marked by an extremely rusty looking red can. Bencik was beautiful and peaceful. It would have made a fabulous lunch stop - if only we'd had any food! I trust by the time we do this ''for real'' we will have learned the art of provisioning. Retirees cannot live in restaurants every day, and liveaboards won't get very far on half a pot of Greek yoghurt and some dry crackers.
Spot the gap to reverse in to.
As it was, and being as we are only on holiday and therefore decadently eating out whenever we fancy, we motored up to the top of the bay, back out again and headed across to Sailor's Paradise. Again, it was a bit confusing to see where the entrance was until we were quite close, when it became more obvious. Binoculars help when you are a way out! We followed two other yachts in and waited for them to moor up, then took our turn. Lazy lines are used here so I played it thick (not having to act much when it comes to lazy lines I'm afraid) and, as Marco reversed into the space, a man from the restaurant jumped aboard and took the lazy line around the cleat at the front. There was a bit of a hashing of stern lines when Marco threw it too high and it hit the bimini, coming back down on his head with a thud. Second time lucky and we were all moored up relatively hassle free.
We sat at a shady table outside away from the small flotilla that seemed to have taken over the main restaurant. We waited a while to be served but when the food arrived it was amazing. King Prawns in garlic butter with bread to mop up the juices and a large Efes beer to wash down lunch. Marco decided on the lamb roll, which turned out to be 'lamb 'n' fat roll'. Conveniently, there was a rather hungry looking cat sitting right next to our table (trained to look out for those who order lamb roll, no doubt) so it was the cat that ate rather better than Marco. After paying, we went for a swim, then dropped the lazy line (so easy hah!) and motored out.
The wind was patchy but we managed to sail with about ten knots on a close reach until we had to turn the peninsula to get down to Bozburun. We motor sailed in order to keep some control as we went pas the Atabol Kayasi - a rock just under the surface which has apparantly claimed a lot of yachts.
Having successfully passed the danger (which was marked by an isolated danger sign), we started looking for the islet of Kizil Adasi which we wanted to go around so that we could approach Bozburun from the south. Once on the approach, we could see there was plenty of space to moor stern-to within the harbour so we motored in and dropped 40m of chain and reversed in. The harbour master appeared, to catch our lines, one of which  naturally got wrapped around the wrong side of the pushpit.  One of these days, we'll do everything right!

Bozburun is a lovely little village with numerous shops, three mini markets and several restaurants. We went for a walk around the harbour, avoiding all the waiters who came out trying to get us into their place for dinner that night. As we got the end of the harbour, we came across a restaurant called (imaginatively) Bozburun. We went in and the friendly owner offered to show us the meals being prepared for that night's dinner. We watched as a young Turkish chef filleted fresh fish, chopped fresh veg, and marinated fresh dinner for two - sold! We booked to return at 8pm and retraced our steps back to the boat. By this time, our peace and quiet had been invaded by a huge catamaran which had moored right up next to us. Catamarans must be lovely, comfortable home-from-homes inside but the racket they make when the 'crew' switch on the generators is enough to put me off. I wouldn't like hearing that every night - it's bad enough having to hear someone elses. 

One of our water tanks had run out of water and it took us (read - Marco) ages to work out how to switch to the second tank - so while he huffed and puffed, I made us a G&T and we sat at the bow, looking across to Bozborun  before heading off for dinner. The food at the restaurant tasted as good as it looked, especially the meze which was some of the best we'd had on this trip (although we tend to say this every night). After a lovely chicken casserole, fried squid in garlic and a bottle of white wine, we wandered back around the town to Balina 95TL worse off and polished our evening off with a large Baileys. 

Really - if we really do this  liveaboard thing, our annual booze quota will have to be scaled down dramatically!         

Dirsek to Keci Buku

Thursday 3rd September

Skipper takes a 7:30am swim

We might have had heaps of trouble mooring up, ruined the painter to the dinghy and had a 5 mile journey to get food yesterday but to wake up and be totally alone in our little corner of the bay more than made up for it. There were goats grazing on the shoreline nearby and the entire bay had a chilled out feel to it. It was truely wonderful and so relaxing that it felt only right to have an early wake-me-up swim.
There was plenty of time to have coffee and breakfast while taking in the scenery and we entertained ourselves by sitting at the bow watching other yachts leave. At 10:30 we left too, this time taking just seconds to untie the line and get everything (including the skipper) back on board. We toured the bay a bit before we left, taking pictures of the restaurant and the mirror-like water, then motored out wind. While we were waiting for the meltemi to get going and actually blow us somewhere, we ventured in and out of some of the surrounding coves, making a mental note to return for lunch to one of them on the way back down the gulf.
The scenery as we entered the Hisaronu Kofezi is incredible. Pine covered hills replaced the sinai-like, barren hillsides further towards Greece and we quickly decided we wanted to stay in this area overnight and spend a bit of time doing it justice. We were aiming to stay overnight in Keci Buku, with a lunch stop over the other side of the gulf at Kuyulu Buku where there are two bays. As we were approaching, the wind picked up and we were able to put out the main and genoa and sail close hauled up to our destination and into the entrance of the bays. We chose the anchorage to the north, anchored easily, fitted the outboard onto the dinghy and set off to explore. The bay seemed quite Amazonian with lots of cicadas chirping to break the silence, and reeds everywhere. Once at the shore, we headed in the direction of the restaurant, but were disappointed to discover that it was closed and that the area was full of Turkish caravanners, so we headed straight back to Balina and had pasta for lunch with a refreshing glass of white wine that we just happened to have in our fridge (top tip: always carry an 'emergency' bottle of wine and a few beers in the event that a recommended restaurant, as often happens in Turkey, fails to materialise.
After lunch we had a quick swim, then I roared across to Keci Buku in 2knots of wind! Passing the Marti Marina we made a mental note that it looked a nice place to perhaps see out the winter one year!
We dropped anchor near the restaurants, after I handed the helm back to Marco when he started going into man-moan mode, saying what are you doing, where are you going when i was attempting to avoid grounding us on an obvious sand spit at one end. All the restaurants have a jetty and on approach, someone comes out from each one, gesturing wildly at you to use THEIR jetty. This is  with the expectation that you will eat in their return, water and electric are "free". However, we wanted the freedom to eat where we liked and as we had only filled up with water and had shore power two days previously, we didn't require those facilities again yet.
We motored around the bay in the dinghy and took some pictures of people on the sand-spit. Because it was just under the surface of the water, it looked as though people were just walking on water. If Jesus was an illusionist,  this is surely how he persuaded everyone that he could do this trick!
Back on the boat, we relaxed with an obligatory afternoon beer. Marco phoned his parents, then we got a phone call from Thomas Cook, cancelling a holiday that we had booked as the flight had been discontinued. I was annoyed (with British Airways), so Marco decided to get annoyed with me being annoyed. Don't know why! What annoys him never seems to annoy me and vice of the many happy things that makes married people roll their eyes behind each others backs....! 

 I showered and got ready to go out, and, after a G&T sundowner, motored across to our chosen restaurant called Ersoy. The owner rushed out to tie us up (well, the dinghy, not exactly 'us'), and welcomed us to his place. The restaurant was delightful, with a decorative hole in the wall so that diners could see into the kitchen. Marco went inside to choose our starters, and also to choose our cuts off of a large Dorada which we were going to have for main course. The food was lovely and melon was served free for dessert. We (or rather, Marco) got chatting to a Dutch lady who took our photo and told us that they keep their boat at Marmaris marina, but come out to sail for 5 months in the summer all over the area. Another Dutch couple got involved in the conversation. They had a large dog with them and told us that they owned the gulet that was moored up at the jetty, and take people out on the water for day trips and holidays  for 6 months of the year from Fethiye. What a great life.
We made it back to Balina eventually for our usual Baileys nightcap and sleep. Another successful day under our belts, although the sailing was limited.

walking on water!

Knidos to Dirsek

2nd September 2009

The ampitheatre at Knidos

            Knidos is a beautiful area to be in but my God the wind roars into the bay when it's in the mood! And it was certainly in the mood last night!! Thank heaven then to wake up to the views of an ancient city that's over 2000 years old. So after a bit of a fitful sleep, we were both up by 7.30 and, after our coffee, took a stroll up past the restaurant and were directed by a tourist official towards the ancient city. 
Having paid our TYL8 to get in, we were surprised to have our own personal guide: Knidos the dog had decided to join us on our self-guided tour.
Knidos is one hell of an amazing place. It gets very little press as far as we know and, as it's stuck out on a peninsula with just a small road in and out of the area, it also gets very little by way of tourists......and believe me it's all the better for it. The area of Knidos roughly dates from around 400BC and seems to have enjoyed many  prosperouis incarnations between then and around 700AD when it was invaded by Arabs and the fun all stopped.  Subsequent earthquakes caused the city to be abandoned. It has been under excavation for over a century and there is so much to explore, including mosaics, still-standing pillars and the highlight of the trip, a fantastic ampitheatre which must have been an awesome place to watch your entertainment in those days.

Marco and I, along with Knidos the dog, wandered alone around the site for well over an hour. It was inspiring and is, at least for me, one of the kind of things i'd like to see more of when we do our 'for real' world trip. I would have loved to walk to the top of the hill and been able to over look Knidos on one side and the Gulf of Gekova on the other. Alas, on a two week sailing holiday every day involves a new adventure and a new harbour so we needed to move on to our next port of call. We will return to Knidos one day though and stay a bit longer.

Whilst we were exploring, Knidos the dog followed us everywhere, occasionally stopping to wait for us as we photographed a pillar or view. He was exceptionally friendly and we began to dream of one day owning a boat-dog. If we could have smuggled Knidos onto the boat (and onto the plane home) we might have done although i'm not sure what our three cats would have to say. However, once the tour was at an end, Knidos flopped down on the restaurant floor, happy to be home and never gave us a second glance!!

Back on Balina, we had yoghurt and honey for breakfast and prepared to leave this beautiful place. We slipped the lines at 10:30, feeling as though we'd already done more in Turkey than in two weeks in the Ionian. Out of the harbour and into the sea, it was lovely and windy so we quickly unfurled the genoa and had a great sail downwind to the next peninsula where we started to have a bit of our famous sail-trouble. If only we never had to change direction this sailing would be a piece of cake really. But oh dear, land was inconveniently in the way and so we had to gybe. Doing this (wrong probably), meant we lost what wind we had and the boat started bobbing around going 'La la la' and not going anywhere. Marco was determined not to put the motor on though.

We put the motor on...Then we passed by Palamut thumbing our noses at it and saying we didn't want to go there last night anyway....then we put the autohelm on and had lunch with a beer. It was all too easy this motoring.

As we entrered Datca Bay, the wind returned with a vengeance.....the wind vane got a bit confused and spun round like the wheel of fortune eventually ending up pointing out a south west wind, which then dropped to nothing. We motor-sailed across the bay and saw the Greek island of Symi on our starboard side, with the pine-clad hills of Turkey to port. We started to notice wavelets ahead and all of a sudden the wind got up to 20kn gusting 27. We had a terrific sail for a couple of hours, all the way to Dirsek and, as we passed Symi, we could see the town of Pethi and the dimly lit houses littering the slopes around it.
Dirsek proved a little difficult to spot until you were quite close to the entrance and we nearly ended up in the wrong cove, but eventually we got there and motored in. There were already plenty of yachts and the jetty was full with only 4 boats! Most other yachts had anchored with a line ashore so we circled around trying to pick a spot well away from another boat. We decided to go to the south-east corner of the bay, taking a line back to the rocks.
What a giggle that turned out to be as we were hopelessly under-prepared...The anchor set out well first time but the yacht drifted forward a bit, away from the shore. The rope we wanted to use for the line ashore was knotted up and it took Marco a few moments to untangle. Once he'd done that, he jumped in the dinghy and headed off to find a suitable rock to tie on to. Meanwhile, I had to get back to the helm to put the yacht in reverse so that it went back to it's original spot. The line wasn't long enough so i had to reverse back a little more. Finally the rope was secured and the boat was steady. Then the outboard on the dinghy failed. Marco, tired and a little fraught, yanked at the starter.....ruh-duh-duh..(yank) ruh-duh-duh (yank)....nothing! From where I was standing i could see that the ropes that we normally tied the dinghy to the boat with were in the water. Once Marco checked it became obvious that a rope had fouled the outboard prop. Oh joy! Marco pulled his way back to the yacht along the line ashore and (rather than be patient and unpick the rope from the prop), cut it off with scissors. Now we were left with a very short line with which to attach the dinghy in future. Number 140 of 'things' not to do when it's OUR boat".....!!!

After all that excitement, we just wanted to have dinner. Hmmm...we were moored just about the furthest distance from the restaurant. So off we went in the dinghy....half way across the bay, the motor cut out again. Damn (or something like that)....fortunately it started again and we made it to the restaurant where we had beautiful home-made meze, swordfish steak and kebabs. Oh, and a few beers! By the time we went back to Balina in the dinghy we were merrily merry and the calm waters meant we sped back with relative ease.

It must be said that getting from our  yacht to point B and back by dinghy is a tale of two sides. On the one side is calm waters, quiet bays and a moonlit sky to keep you company while you get around. On the other is choppy waters, dark, moody skies and a good soaking en route. Tonight was the former and, as it was such a trek across the bay we were really glad. Back on board we had a Baileys to congratulate ourselves on a successful day and both fell asleep in the cockpit I left Marco there when I got cold!

Bodrum to Knidos

1st September 2009
Knidos the dog surveys our mooring skills
I had the most fantastic sleep that i think i've ever had on a boat. It must be a relaxing lifestyle after all! I got up, put on the kettle, wandered off to use the marina showers and was back on the boat, making morning coffee before Marco had even woken up! It was a beautiful day and we sat in the cockpit admiring the view and listening to the clink of halyards against masts.  Once Marco was ready, we popped to the bakery for some fresh bread and, on the way back, called in at the Yildiz Yachting office to ask for some decent sized glasses. The ones on Balina were an insult to the liver of decent mariners like ourselves...would hardly hold a nat's wotsit of gin, and with our ongoing 'learning processes', I felt sure that it was a sure bet that we would be hammering the gin bottle most nights after mooring, to celebrate a decent day's sailing you understand...
Once  back on board, we had breakfast and came to the conclusion that we were probably the only bareboaters that week. There were lots of Dutch people around and the Yildiz flotilla leader happened to be Dutch too. He came round to say hi, but lost interest somewhat when he realised we were not going to be joining his team for the week. Marco asked him cheerily which direction he thought the flotilla would be heading. When the Dutch flotilla leader said "Into the Gulf of Gekova", Marco shot back "In that case we'll head into the Gulf of Hisaronu!" The flotilla leader gave us a withering look and stalked off up the pontoon.

 Well we can't help it if we don't like flotillas!

When we were ready to leave, we called the marina and they sent a pilot boat to let us out. Due to the fact that all yachts are on lazy lines in the marina, it is somewhat difficult to manoeuvre. Therefore, the pilots come along to nudge your yacht around. I handed the mooring to the pilot and dropped the lazy line. Once we had left, he tied the line back to the pontoon. Couldn't be simpler eh? We motored out of Bodrum. The castle looked spectacular behind us as we left and we could see in the daylight just how far we had walked last night.
We headed south towards Knidos, intending to arrive there for lunch, then going on to Palamut for dinner. The wind was easy on us at first, coming from the North West, keeping us nicely at 6knots on a broad reach but it soon picked up (dastardly meltemi) and suddenly we had 20knots with all sail out and the yacht started to heel quite dramatically. At first it was exciting but then the wind shifted round to the west and waves were starting to hit us sideways on. Hmmm...this wasn't so much fun and when i went down below to fetch something, I ended up feeling very sick very quickly. I recovered ok once I was back in the cockpit and Marco reefed the main so we were steady again.
We carried on across the gulf, with Kos on our starboard side but were still being knocked about more than we felt comfortable with for a first day and decided to turn towards Nsiros (a Greek Island south of Kos), then gybe around past the headland towards Knidos. The trouble with this strategy was that we were then on a dead run (wind directly behind) and, as we have no idea yet how to goosewing our sails, we decided to motor into Knidos.
Once we were on the approach to Knidos, it was hard to see where the breakwater was as from a distance it looked to be attached to the land. But when we got nearer we could easily spot the entrance and motored in. Our first attempt to anchor on the starboard side of the bay was a dismal failure, although we had read in Rod Heikel's book that it was bad holding. Then as luck would have it, a large catamaran left the jetty, leaving a large space so we quickly motored round and threw our lines to the waiting pontoon owner there. Having secured ourselves to the pontoon we quickly came to the conclusion that Knidos was a place we would like to see more of and decided to stay overnight. We had a swim in the rather refreshing water (read COLD) and Marco had a look under the boat to see that our keel was resting in the sea grass there. Yikes!

Having had our compulsory first-day swim, we got out and relaxed in the cockpit, reading/sleeping. When I woke up I got the feeling I was being watched and sat up to take a look round. Right by the boat staring /straight in at us was a lovely brown dog with floppy ears (see picture) who we called Knidos for, quite frankly obvious reasons. Knidos obviously loved new people and lay right by our boat for about half an hour until a new yacht arrived when he changed allegiance and went to sit by that one instead. Turncoat! 

We got ready for dinner and chatted to our neighbours on Su-Su, then paid TYL25 for our pontoon mooring which included electricity and water. We hardly needed it, having only just left Bodrum but decided to get our money's worth by having extra long showers.The restaurant at Knidos was very busy considering the amount of yachts in but we got a nice table and, like in Spartakhori on the previous holiday, we had to choose our own dinner from a selection in the kitchen. A really nice thing to do.  We both chose sea bream and salad and had meze for starter - peppers, aubergine and watercress salad and stuffed courgette flowers.
 All were fantastic. And the entire meal, with a good bottle of wine came to less than £70. The views of the bay were amazing. Back on the boat there was quite a commotion caused by a yacht coming in late and getting itself caught up on another boat's lines whist trying to squeeze into a gap between two boats already nicely moored up. Chaos ensued and everyone was watching and offering to help collect lines etc, but in the end, the arriving yacht hobbled off (probably embarrassed at causing such a fuss) to the end of the jetty and we returned to Balina to toast a great day with a large Baileys nightcap.

Turkey for Two

31st August 2009
The skipper relaxes after an introductory beer
After the Shotley Farce, we were looking forward to being on our own again with the added pleasure of warm sun and new surroundings. And so it was that, for the second year in a row, we stayed at the Sofitel Gatwick (saves all that driving in the small hours and "we're going to be late" panicking you see), and for the second year in a row I was awake at 2am staring into space, wondering what sort of excitement the next two weeks would throw at us and how different this might be to the "Ionian Starter Charter" for beginners (seeing as how we are now experts right?)
Blah blah airport, departures, good flight etc etc and a few hours later we were in a taxi, being spirited along the coastline towards Bodrum. The trip from the airport takes just 35 minutes with some quite amazing views of the sea en-route. The first sight of Bodrum Castle is one to savour. More of that later: the only thing we were interested in looking at were the masts......hundreds of masts belonging to yachts moored at Bodrum Milta Marina. We drove along the promenade until we reached our base, right at the end. We were dropped at our pontoon "C". The driver leapt back into his cab and drove off, leaving us both all bemused, wondering where on earth the office was for Yildiz Yachting. Marco took the initiative and wandered down the pontoon , quickly finding Balina, our home for the next fortnight. We dropped our bags by the paserelle and went in search of the Yildiz office. Having located it down a side street (to be fair it was on our little map that Nautilus, the UK agent, had sent us - we just prefer to look bemused and confused in new places) we filled in the necessary paperwork, handed over our security deposit of €1000 and returned to Balina to find maintenance men touching up a few bits and pieces. We had a yacht briefing booked for 3.30, so unpacked and went in search of food and beer. The marina area was nicely landscaped with a well-stocked Carrefour and a few chandleries as well as designer shops and a bar that overlooked the marina...oh and a 'yacht club restaurant'. We had some lunch and tested out the Turkish beer - a large Efes each.
Having had two of these 'testing beers', we made it back to the yacht in time for our briefing. I hoped that Marco was taking it all in because I certainly wasn't! We then went provisioning. Our basic starter pack for ourselves consisted of the following; butter, cheese, beer, tonic, water, yoghurt, milk, sundowner nibbles. You can see how healthy we are and how much liquid we considered essential in this heat!  By the time we got back to the yacht it was almost dinner time. Can you see a pattern emerging here?Perhaps the blog should be changed to reflect it more as a world culinary experience rather than a sailing blog as precious little sailing seems to be taking place.
Anyway, having decided to stay in Bodrum tonight and get sailing first thing in the morning, we took advantage of the relative luxury of the shower facilities and went wandering.
From the marina to Bodrum Castle takes about 20 minutes if you are forty-something.....adjust up and down according to age and alcoholic intoxication (it took a bit longer coming back for some reason). The castle was closed (opening times 9am - 6pm) so we came back along and ate at a place along the front called 'Bulvar'. There was no reason to eat here particularly other than the fact that we didn't have the energy to keep avoiding all those nice waiters who step to one side and spread their arm out majestically to display their menu and/or fish counter. You know that the smile will disappear as soon as you pass by - just don't look back and you won't get upset!
After dinner Marco said he had noticed some quaint looking streets behind one of the squares towards the castle. So we retraced our steps and were soon among the throng of tourists darting between bag, leather, spice, Turkish Delight shops. The atmosphere however, was great. Every so often we could look through to the end of a shop and see the castle, lit up and looking majestic. As we neared the end of 'shopping street', the whole seafront opened up and another long street took over: bar street! Right at the end of Bar St was Halicarnas, the famous night club - one of the very few open-air clubs in the world. We decided we might go there at the end of our holiday for a laugh. We're only in our mid-forties...should be fun!! The music was ambient although to be fair it was only 11pm, and being all tired and old, we retreated back into Shopping Street and the comforting buzz of a dozen different languages, all excitedly discussing their plans for the next day.
Nightcap time! And Marco had seen a spot near the castle on our way through. It was called Campanula/Al Atika and it had a divine roof terrace where a band was playing. We climbed the steps and sat on squashy cushions drinking beer, looking over our shoulders at the castle and sea, then looking down at the busy street below us.  On the next table a Turkish family were clapping and singing along. The atmosphere was friendly and right up our alley! We could have stayed all night.
It's a toss-up who started to nod off first, but eventually we sauntered back to the boat and were asleep by 01.30. What a great first feels so good to be back on a yacht.....even though it's a daunting situation when you don't sail regularly. What will the next fortnight bring?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Lessons learned in Shotley - a cautionary tale

August 1st - 2nd 2009
One of the advantages of chartering for the weekend is that you can give the yacht back after a few days on the water. For us hard-working people, half a dozen weekends doing this works out to be pretty good value for money compared with owning your own boat and all the marina fees and upkeep that it involves - and at the moment half a dozen weekends would seem like a luxury to us!
On an evening round our friends and fellow novice sailors Robert and Tina, we decided to have a jolly weekend away. Hamble Point Yacht Charter were very good when we chartered with them in March but we all quite fancied the East Coast so we booked up with a well advertised sailing school which also charters yachts. In fact the reason we decided upon them was because Marco and I gained our Comp Crew there. As the yacht has to be in one person's name, Marco booked and so he automatically became 'skipper'.
The day before the charter began, we were told that our chosen boat was 'unavailable' and we would be getting an alternative.
We turned up excitedly on the Friday evening with our weekend provisioning boxes, filled in the paperwork and were shown to our yacht.
At this point, we were advised that the depth gauge wasn't quite giving the correct information....oh and the furling drum on the genoa needed to be 'handled with care'. Huh.......try telling the wind to pipe down in case it hurts our furling drum!
All went well on our first day. Ok so we drifted off a bit and came a bit close to grounding - it happens! And me and Tina set fire to a tea towel. Oh, and near the end of the day it absolutely poured down but we heroically all did our bit to get into Ipswich marina and spent a cosy evening 'at home', pretty pleased with ourselves.
Next day, going down the Orwell, the wind was right behind us and while Robert helmed, Marco was on the sails trying to ensure that we didn't gybe. Once out, the wind picked up and we were able to have a great sail, tacking all the way out towards Walton, before turning back because of the time. A fraught time was had as we got a little bit close to a green can and Marco was 'forceful' in giving out his instructions. In fairness there had to be one skipper as there was no time for us all to sit down and have a pow-wow about it but it was an awkward half hour as all our nerves and patience were wearing a bit thin by now.
I excelled myself by not reading the pilot guide for Shotley Marina (there's a dirty great lock with an inogon system) where you have to line up the chevrons to avoid the silting either side of the narrow channel.

We grounded. Not badly, although is there a 'nice' way to ground a yacht? We scraped the bottom and came off again into the correct channel and vowed to do better next time.

Alas, there will be no 'next time'.

We gave back the yacht, and the charter owner was on another yacht chatting with some people. We waved and gave him the key back and were on our way.

Next day Marco got an email. The furling drum was bent. It was beyond repair (allegedly) and would have to be replaced. The company was taking our deposit which was another £600.


We learned an awful lot that weekend. Not about sailing, but about human nature and trust. We shall share these via this blog so that other novices can learn from what happened to us.

1) NEVER accept a yacht that has to be used 'with caution'. It's impossible to do.......and in any case, why the hell should we? We paid over £600 to take a yacht out on East Coast windy, rainy conditions it's very hard to pootle along as if you are on the Ionian. The company changed our yacht at the last minute, and gave us what was, in effect, a sub-standard replacement. We should never have agreed to this.
2) ALWAYS take pictures of anything that doesn't look right. I should have photographed the furling drum on the first night to compare with the photos we were sent by the company.
3) The fear of a libel case prevents me from naming the company involved in this shambles. But there are clues. The owner tried the old "You should know me better than to think I would try and con you" trick. But we think that is exactly what he did. We were all novices and he knew that. We WERE competent to take the boat out, but we were all naive in our knowledge of the mechanics of a yacht and I think he took advantage of that too. The drum was already on the way out and we helped him pay for it's replacement. Marco and I became a couple of mugs who ended up parting with half the cost of the charter plus the entire deposit (over £1000) for a two day weekend. Not that we're bitter.......!

And of course, he's shot himself in the foot. Marco and I would definitely have chartered again and again with this company, the East Coast being so beautiful and relatively uncrowded. As it is, the £600 extra that this little outing cost us, is the last money he will ever see of ours. We will never use him or recommend him to anyone else.

...........prefer Cowes anyway.