Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Marmaris, Bodrum, Didim, Kusadasi

Farewell to Mike, we headed out to the Gocek Gulf for a couple days cruising. We were heading East towards Marmaris but the journey had to be delayed because of the strong westerly winds. But thanks to the weather, we found this breath-taking bay that was pretty packed with yacht due to the winds. The depth of the bay was so consistent; in fact it was like a basin! The water was crystal clear at the depth of 30 feet. Just magic.

In the following day, to avoid afternoon Meltemi, we headed out early and arrived in Marmaris town in the afternoon.  Our fridge wasn’t working properly and the pantry had to be restocked, as well as that we needed to top up with expensive fuel etc. The fridge problem was more serious than John thought. It was a battery problem and John ended up have to replace the house batteries. Bummer. 

It was rather nice just at anchor off the town. Ichifeet, Stormvogel, Indigo joined us there as well, so it was quite a social time. At night, the whole bay was colored with neon lighting and lots of people; it was just so enjoyable to be on Awatea to oversee the activities from a couple of meters away. We all regret we should have moored here long time ago. It was just picturesque.

Awatea spent a week off the town and headed out towards Kusadasi on Monday the 8th Aug. Derek did not come along as he had to baby-sit Lucy (friend's dog) for a week. We started off with light winds but once outside the harbor we were bashing into 30 knots. A hard sail for Woei Haw and John. We arrived at Bozukbuku rather tired and wet. Coming into berth at Viker's restaurant we found that the bow thruster wasn’t working, which was rather dangerous but luckily we had heaps of helpful hands. Awatea’s neighbors were several French charter boats.

Decision had to be made whether we returned to Marmaris or head towards destination without the bow thruster. In the following day, John decided to continue the journey so we headed out after having breakfast with Vicker.

The weather was favorable to motorboats. There was no wind most of the day. Then later in the afternoon “that’’ 30 knot Westerly hit us again. We motored hard into the wind, once we passed Knidos and Cape Krio we hoisted the sails and took off at 9 knots towards Bodrum. It was a perfect twilight with superb sunset over Kos (Greek Island) and a beautiful sailing ship Star Clipper (a passenger ship) passing to leeward with full sails. We made it to Bodrum in the dark at about 2300 hrs. A long day!

Bodrum is magic. A very beautiful tourist town perched around the Castle of St Peter. Built by the Crusaders (Not the ones from Christchurch!) All the buildings in the town are white.

We were able to get along side at the town quay for a couple of days and able to get the bow thruster looked at. Luckily not a major job! We had a pleasant couple of days there while waiting for the Meltimi wind to drop. And we also caught up with Ian & crew from Stormvogal again. Derek arrived back before we headed further North.

It was time to leave this great town. The weather forecast was good & as usual for Turkey, either no wind or too much! So we motored all day in calm seas to Yalikauak.

Next morning we found ourselves beating into a 25 knot wind yet again, to stay away from the rough sea, we decided to head toward Didim and ended up in a small bay for 3 days while the wind abated. Nice Rest and recreation. Lots of food, swimming and reading!

We finally took off and headed north again in 20 knots, but the wind soon died, yet again increased to 30 knots as we approached Samos Straits......Then nothing again. We made it to Kusadasi that afternoon.

We were anchored next to another Kiwi yacht from Christchurch. Kusidasi is where we will winter this year. It’s a large tourist town and during the day we have up to 5 liners in port. They all come to visit Ephesus, about 15 miles away. The marina is good and reasonably sheltered. Derek flew back to Australia early September & Woei Haw took off to Singapore.

*****John was having his first shave in Kusadasi****

A week before Woei Haw went home, we took the yacht up to Sigacit. This is a very old Turkish fishing village, with heaps of fishing and farming activities in every corner. We anchored in a large deep fiord with a number of large floating fish farms. It was a nightmare in the morning as we struggled to pull up the anchor, which was tangled with abandoned fishing nets and big anchor ropes. Thank God, we survived okay!

A quick passage took us into Siğacit town. The town is completely walled in and the harbour now has a 1st class marina. It is also very close to the ancient city of Teos.  A beautiful setting. We spent a night in the marina and headed back Kusadasi the following morning. Woei Haw headed home for 2 weeks.

Mark arrived with the new genneker sail. We decided to sail the yacht to Cesme and pick up our friend Melissa who was coming from Adelaide. It took us a couple of days to sail to Cesme. We were mostly on the nose but good sailing conditions, and an excellent sail was had. We arrived at the new Cesme Marina mid day and Melly arrived a few hours later from a 40 hour flight!!! Poor girl.

This town is delightful!!! Full of restaurants, bars, shopping, people and boats. We found a shop that sold great fruit and vegetables. Melly made some great exotic salads, one was tomato and pomegranate with fetta cheese, parsley and caramelised walnuts. The other was rocket, fig, and blue cheese. Now we know her secret for her zero size figure! We had a tasting comparing white figs and black figs the white ones where voted the best.

After a couple of days there, it was time to say good-bye and we headed back to Kusadasi. We took off in 25 knot Northerly and Awatea was flying! Fabulous sail! A quiet night was spent in a small bay miles from anywhere.

We took off in little breeze and decided to hoist the new sail. She is 184 sq metres! Quite a size. In fact bigger than John’s new apartment in Brisbane! As the hours ticked by so did the wind speed. We found ourselves in 20 knots with this huge sail up. All was good and the yacht loved it. Dousing the sail proved to be difficult with a few dramas. However, we had a great sail.

Woei Haw was back from Singapore, waiting on the dock, with lots of goodies including BBQ pork and Peking duck! A real Chinese feast was had.

Couple of lazy days on board, while Woei Haw commuted daily to work in Izmir.

On Wednesday we visited Ephesus. It is amazing how, 2-3000 years ago these people built cities for 200,000 people with baths, paved streets, sewer systems, flowing fresh water. The marble toilet was amazing and we were let to believe lots of business took place here among the businessmen while they were doing their business. There were lot of Roman period statues, like Hercules, Nike and so many more. The mega amphitheater is as tall as a full size crane! The marble road that was lined by Hercules statues was once the walkway to the harbor, but 3000 years later the sea is four kilometers away as the harbor filled up with silt. It was a very hot day and no food and water was available once we entered the site. Ephesus is one of the best-preserved cities of the old ancient world.

The Business ROOM!

Sadly it was time to say good-bye to Melly and Mark. We hired a car and drove them to Izmir.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

St Nicholas Island, Fethiye Bay, Turkey

29 Jul 2011
It was farewell to Blake and welcome to Mike from Brisbane.  Mike and his wife Trish live in John’s old apartment building Winchcome Carson, and he was coming to spend the weekend with us on Awatea before attending a conference in Istanbul. He was due late evening so the day was spent sorting out a few maintenance issues and while one of the engineers was onboard he gave John a quote on installing air conditioning – food for thought! Realistically we have mostly adapted to the weather, and apart from a few weeks of really hot temperatures it has been quite reasonable. Also once out of the marina there is usually more breeze and the temperature drops 3-4 degrees.

Mike arrived at Awatea around 7pm, and after some nibbles and obligatory drinks onboard we headed over to the Boutique Yacht Hotel for his welcome dinner. The restaurant is on the rooftop terrace and the view is always magical. Lots of news from OZ and stories from the old building to catch up on, and John suggested some ideas about what to do over the next few days with Mike.  A very enjoyable evening and after eating we headed back for an early night.  Mike had done very well lasting the distance after nearly 2 days travelling! 

30 Jul 2011

New sun covers for the cock pit were delivered and perfectly installed which pleased the skipper. John and Woei Haw had the opportunity to check out another yacht which had recently had the air conditioning installed - really tempting.

We left the marina at 11:45am with the wind blowing around 20 knots, so we put a reef in the sail, however soon after the wind was up to it’s old tricks and we ended up motoring all the way to our destination - St. Nicholas island.

During our last trip we spotted a secluded bay just around from St Nicolas Island, with a restaurant up on the hill at the end of the bay. So this trip, Captain John planned to bring Mike to this beautiful location and to try out the restaurant!

As we sailed around St Nicolas Island, Mike started to have déjà vu and surprised us when he said he had been here before with his wife!! It was a big disappointment as we could have sailed to other places he had not been! Would you believe he had also been in our ‘special’ bay, but not to the restaurant – thank goodness!  But times change, sailing with a few good friends and mooring right under the best spot in the bay, not to mention the wonderful food and stunning view from the restaurant, the experience just brought the sensation to another level and we all believed Mike was very pleased to be here again. 

The restaurant was run by Ali with his Thai wife. Woei Haw greeted the wife with his limited Thai and soon they were chatting away, and she even offered us some basil leaves, hot chili, lime leaves and lemon grass she grew there! That's indeed a treasure in this country where food culture is not as rich as the countries we come from.  We spent a long night in the restaurant as the view was just too addictive. We were later told we had a free brekkie in the morning so not only was the food rather enjoyable it was very reasonable as included the breakfast.

31 Jul 11

Woei Haw, John and Mike woke up earlier and decided to walk over the hill to visit Kayakoy before the sun rose and became too hot. It took them a long yet refreshing walk in the morning, passing through the restaurant and by Pavarotti - the opera singing donkey. 

The view of the abandoned city with the sunrise was just stunning, and with the only sound being the cluck of chickens echoing around, the empty city felt even more deserted. 

They returned to the restaurant and Derek joined them for breakfast. It was a simple Turkish breakfast but once again very enjoyable. They then returned to Awatea and set sail to Fethiye bay. Everyone was exhausted and slept through the journey while Woei Haw had some training at the helm under the skipper’s supervision. 

We had a nice chicken salad for lunch while looking for a place to moor. We had a fairly hard time finding a good mooring, as yachties are expected to tie up their stern line to a bollard on shore and not damage the local flora and fauna.  Also the coast guard patrol intensively in the season so it is a good idea not to get on the wrong side of them. And being summertime there are just so many boats here!!!

After looking at several options, we finally decided on a place to moor. Once we were settled it was time for a swim and the water was 28 degrees! It was refreshingly warm, just like soaking in the bathtub!! Drinks afterwards before dinner - Derek used the special ingredients we got from the Thai lady and made another fabulous curry treat! 

01 Aug 11

We headed into Gocek town as today Mike would be leaving us to fly up to Istanbul for his business conference.  We had a beautiful lunch at "West Cafe" restaurant, and did some window shopping before saying goodbye to Mike. It was a short trip for Mike but we did enjoy every moment of his company, and hope the business conference went well for him, like a fair wind to the yachtsman. 

Kekova Road, Kalkan, Fethiye, Turkey

21 Jul 2011
Time to say Goodbye to the lovely ladies, and after three weeks we will miss their company.  Blake is still with us and mid-morning we set sail for our next destination – Kekova Roads.  Once again the wind was not with us, so we motored all the way heading east, and it took us half a day to arrive at Kekova. What a beautiful location - another secluded and amazing piece of the Turkish coast line.  The bay was hidden behind Kekova Adasi and formed a narrow stretch of water a few miles long.
We decided to anchor at Polemos Buku which is located at the western side of the bay.  Guess what? After coincidently bumping (not literally) into Belle Helene in Kas,  we spotted Endeavour – Carol and Brian, who were moored at the exact spot Skipper John had decided.

While sorting out the yacht after our trip along the coast, Derek spotted a signboard ashore promoting Aperlai Ruins! None of us could find any reference to these ruins in the pilot book (the yachties bible) nor multimedia resources, thus in the true spirit of Indiana Jones we decided to go exploring!
There were two restaurants at the end of the bay, and in anticipation of a few icy beers after our trek to find the ruins, we decided to give the business to the young entrepreneur who walked all the way on their fragile wooden dock to welcome us ashore.  After advising our intention to return for beer later, he gave us directions to the ruins. It took us a good half hour walk to get there, and the journey was similar to walking in the middle of desert as bushes were few and far in-between.  It is hard to believe a café / backpackers – Purple House was located in the middle of nowhere and run by a young couple with several outdoor settings of couches and cushions under shade cloth.  So simply built yet very unique and with a strong Mediterranean /Arabic feel. 

No far from Purple House, we came across the first sarcophagus that was half submerged in the sea.

More were spotted along the coast, and as we followed the path we stumbled onto the ruins of a Catholic Church.  From there it was a bit of an effort to climb up to more ruins of the city including the main entrance gate, and around the area was by far the biggest number of ancient sarcophagi we ever seen in our time in Turkey. It is truly a DEAD city!

We returned to the restaurant after our exhausting walk back and the much anticipated icy cold beers were ready and waiting, and went down a real treat.  We had a great chat with this lovely family; mother, 17 year old son and 12 year old daughter.  Soon the papa arrived in his speedboat with his trendy headwear flapping in the wind, and to our surprise gave his wife a passionate kiss and fervent hug – not normally seen in this conservative Muslim country!

After much hand shaking and a few more beers we decided that the ambience was so good we would stay for dinner.  Our table was on a square-floating platform extended out from the dock, and the table was beautifully set with white table cloth, fine dining utensils and stunning wine glasses! The sensation is just so hard to convert into words!

The view of the whole narrow bay from our table, combined with sumptuous grilled seafood, tasty chicken, vegetables and salads and a good local wine just made the night so beyond expectation.  We all agreed we can always eat onboard TOMORROW! ( John says “Tomorrow Never Comes”)

22 Jul 2011
It was a hot sunny morning, not even a hint of a breeze! After breakkie we set off to discover the well-known sunken city located at Kekova Adasi. No landing, no diving, no anchoring were permitted here! Totally different from several ruins we had visited at other locations, it was just amazing to see the ruins of what was obviously quite a large community just disappearing into the sea.

We then went to the small hamlet of Kale Koy and anchored off the town.  It was a quaint aquatic village with a huge crusaders’ castle on a hill right in the middle of the island. Shops were positioned layer on layer up the slope, looking like a shape of sweet corn,  all very pretty.  John took Derek and Blake ashore in the dinghy to explore the island, while Woei Haw decided to swim across for coffee with the new water-proof bag! Alas tragedy happened! His phone was drowned as the bag was not properly sealed! Bugger!

Later, we motored back to Polemos Buku for a swim and spent a quiet night with a meal onboard

23 Jul 2011
Another roasting day!  We motored to Ucagiz Limani which was in another bay behind Kale Koy, and anchored for an hour.  It was indeed another nice little town, and unlike Kale Koy which can only be reached by boat, there were several tour coaches parked at the wharf.  The town stretched from the east where Lician tombs were dotted in the water, to the west that was full of restaurants at the sea front. Facing towards Kale Koy it forms a great little bay that is favoured by many yachties for its extremely calm conditions. 

After some window shopping we returned to Awatea, and motored along the coast further eastward and found this unnamed bay which was very well protected.   We decided to drop anchor and tie up stern to, and the water was so crystal clear we could easily see the bottom and while swimming catch sight of our keel and rudder.  

We had fabulous steaks for dinner - contributed by Blake, who brought two large New Zealand Rib Fillets all the way from Godzone.  What a treat! They were so good and everyone was enjoying the night so much we got in the mood and did a heap of damage to our alcohol inventory.  Bummer!

24 Jul 2011
After a debauched night of booze, all of us were found sleeping on the deck and were awakened by the heat of the sun. After a simple breakkie (where’s MacDonalds when you need them), we motored around some other islands and returned to Ucagiz Limani for a nice simple lunch. Woei Haw was busy topping up his fishing lure collection while Blake was busy finding a place to watch the Formulae 1 racing and it was so enjoyable that we spent several hours whiling away the time.
The wind started building up in the late afternoon so we returned to Awatea and actually sailed back to Polemos bay! It was a nice sail between several super yachts. 
IIn the evening Derek was cooking up a special curry and the aromatic smells from the galley stirred our appetites and awakened our groggy heads - it is always so nice to enjoy his meals! Yummy.

25 Jul 2011
It was quiet and calm last night and we ended up being the only folks in the bay after 3 super yachts further down the arm left very late evening.
We followed in the footsteps of other yachts heading along the coast towards Kalkan. Woei Haw introduced his new fishing lure but no luck once again, which is rather disappointing as we all had high hopes!.

Motored most of the time to Kalkan and tried to sail a bit when the wind was right. This is just so Turkish! Either it is too much wind or just too little wind!

Kalkan is not an appealing place from the sea, but once we got closer we were blown away by the setting.  A tiny harbour that we had to motor so slow to get into, hundreds of sun-worshippers and swimmers at the right of the narrow passage protected by a long line of swimming buoys, and hundreds of Mediterranean  style houses built layer upon layer up the hill. It is just stunning!

What was even more exciting is the shops and restaurants ashore - numerous sophisticated restaurants with different themes and decors and really good menus.  The shops here are also very different from any other place we have visited in Turkey all beautifully presented with a vivid colour decoration contrasting with their white premises. It just so artistic, and we all love the place so much we have decided to spend few days here!

We wandered around the town for the next two days, and found this extraordinary restaurant named “White Table”.  They had a unique menu based on gourmet burgers and Blake and Woei Haw claimed that were the best burgers they ever had.  They were served in clever packaging and accompanied by an award winning Rose wine – another enjoyable dining experience.

There was a mega yacht trying to get into the tiny harbour the other day, and John managed to get a short video clip!

28 Jul 2011
After analysis of the weather from several sources, we decided to leave the harbour at 4:15am in the morning when the forecast conditions were good and the sea was expected to be at its calmest. Blake decided to experience taking Dolmus (local bus) and to catch us up in Fethiye at our favourite base – the classic yacht hotel.  It was a new experience heading off in the darkness; we had to switch on navigation lights and monitored the instrument panels closely in the dark of the morning. It was also very cold and we had to dust off our jumpers which were needed until the sun rose.

It took us several hours to return to Fethiye. That evening we decided to have the farewell dinner for Blake at Boutique Classic Hotel.  Blake will be leaving us tomorrow and plans to spend some time in the Greek Islands. It is always wonderful to have guests onboard and explore different parts of Turkey together. Thanks to Blake for being part of the adventures of Awatea, and entertaining us with his selfless sharing of his life adventures.