Thursday, 9 June 2011

Oinoanda, Turkey

Monday 9th May
We left the anchorage at 0900 hrs after our restless night, but in return, a beautiful morning that was calm with nice blue skies. There was no wind so we had to motor, and along the way we cruised in close to the big resort towns along the coast.

John had been told about the Yacht Classic Hotel Marina in Fethiye and that it was worth an overnight stay. Mooring fee was 53 Euros a night, but if we dined in the hotel restaurant, the price was slashed by 50%, and..... in Turkish Lira. A great bargain at TL27.00 – and with full use of the hotel facilities!

The hotel is definitely a good find and was just beautiful. After we had moored, we all headed for long hot showers that we been missing since we left Netsel Marina a week ago. Later we walked the short distance into town and had some lunch. We all went for shaves and haircuts and then wandered back to Awatea, via the bar at the Hotel. A beautiful modern tropical bar situated opposite the restaurant and next to the stunning swimming pool.

The evening was spent enjoying a great dinner at this very special place.

Tuesday 10th May
Awoke to another lovely sunny day! Robert arranged a rental car for some local sightseeing but more importantly to drive Murray to Dalaman airport the next day. We called into the weekly local markets and wandered about for an hour. Each large town has a market day each week. Just amazing what they have for sale including beautifully fresh produce, and we were able to stock up with some nice fruit and vegetables.

We then headed out of town on a mission to try and find the ruins of the city Oinoanda. Some Kiwi friends had given John some very rough directions on how to get there. It was indeed a hit and miss situation – ie: turn left at the next road where the signpost is lying on the ground, however after 90 min driving and a stop for lunch we made it to the village. 

As per our online research we left the car in the village and started walking down a path towards the hills. 

The instructions became confusing when we couldn’t locate the two big stones referred to, and as we were trying to get our bearings a man from the village came to our rescue and produced an official Guide identification. He didn’t speak a word of English, but obviously knew where we wanted to go and indicated that there was no charge.

It was a long and hard walk virtually to the top of a mountain range, but once we got there, it was just amazing. This site is so remote and so off the tourist map. It is a stiff 1.5km hike up rocky goat tracks rising 300 metres above the village of İncealiler (1200m alt.). - . 

Desmond had tried to use Tomtom GPS but nothing was found. This is indeed a lost ancient city!!! It is hard to believe the incredible ruins of this amazing piece of history, and we were the only ones there. 

We were probably the only people for the month of May! The aqua duct channeling system, ruined castles with tall towers, and roads made up of slabs of granite that last thousands of years dating back to the Hellenistic times. 

Just as we thought we had seen it all, further along the peak of the hill we were lead to another area which was even bigger!!!

Huge Halls, a huge amphitheater, Forum, bathhouse and the Gymnasium where the soldiers trained, all dating back to Roman times. This was indeed a mega city!

We spent about 3 hours lost in this ancient world and then descended back to the village to reward ourselves with a cold Efes beer at the local shop/tavern. We joined the locals sitting around on plastic stools and shortly after were joined by the local mayor, who rode up on his scooter dressed with jacket and tie and who shook hands with each of us in a formal welcome. Obviously they do not entertain strangers very often, especially the crew of the Awatea from New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia, as we were very much the centre of attention, but they were very hospitable (and the beer was nice and cold)!

We returned to the Classic Yacht marina hotel for another great dinner. Everyone put on their Awatea tee-shirts for an official photo for Murray’s farewell dinner, as he was flying home to Brisbane the next morning. The poor guy didn’t want to know where we were heading to next, as all he had to think about was returning to work!

Wednesday 11th May
We were up early to take Muzza to the airport for his flight. We stopped off at Gocek for breakfast, and after delivering him safely to the airport returned to Fethiye and dropped back the rental car.

We arrived back onboard just as the skies darkened, and soon we were in the midst of a wild thunder storm with 60 knots wind gusts and even some hail stones, but thankfully it only lasted around 20 minutes. We heard that some boats had got into difficulties and needed assistance. It was very lucky that we had decided to stay and spend another night, otherwise we could have been one of them.

Tonight, we went to the Yacht Club, a sister hotel for dinner. Once again the meal was very nice however it rained nonstop all night.

Thursday 12th May
The rain finally stopped at about 0900 hours. With the wild weather of the previous day in mind, we were advised to stay another day by some of the other yachties. In contradiction the online weather forecast was not so bad, so we decided to return to Marmaris.

We left at 1050 hours. There were some light showers however the sea was calm and very light winds which meant we had to motor all day, arriving home to Netsel Marina at 18.30 hours. Derek had a roast of beef in the oven, which was a real treat!

Awatea’s first ever Turkey East coast exploration chapter was at an end, but there were wonderful memories of historical citadels, beautiful bays and inlets, interesting towns and all the natural beauty of Turkey with great sailing and last but not least, heaps of joyful moments together.

Thanks to Murray who gave so much help and advice on Awatea’s engineering side, as well as his prowess in the galley with his renowned pizzas and Chinese cooking that will be long rembered!!

Olüdeniz (Blue Lagon), Turkey

The journey was quite short and who should be there to greet us – the ice cream man that helped secure our stern line a day ago. This smart fellow motored around the bay to offer his help once again in return for selling his ice cream. This time not just the ice creams were promoted, but we were also offered some nice Russian ladies for the night, causing much laughter and mirth. 

Murray decided to walk around town, while Derek went in search of some ice. After dropping them ashore, as Desmond was heading back to Awatea he came across a young British couple whose dinghy had broken down, and the waves were pushing them towards the rocky bay behind Awatea. Desmond raced back to Awatea to get assistance and joined by our Kiwi Captain together they towed the stricken dinghy and got them on board. Our first rescue by the heroic duo! We managed to liaise with the resort where they were staying, and they soon came out to fetch them.

To continue our exploration, Desmond, John and Robert decided to row into the bay for some afternoon exercise. One of the interesting things about blue lagoon is that the inner bay is protected against pollution, and as part of the government effort to preserve its natural beauty no motoring vessels are allowed. This explains why she is titled as one of the world’s top 5 prettiest beaches.

Once we had motored around the large rocky outcrop ahead of Awatea, we noticed a big signboard indicating the no motoring policy. 

At that moment we bumped into the coast guard that apparently did not understand our intention, and kept telling us to keep off the bay. John quickly ceased the motor and grabbed the oars, which won their understanding and we soon rowed into the bay.

It was relatively different from the long sandy beach in the open area adjacent to the bay, and a lot of people were swimming and canoeing free from care. Protected by hills, the channel was relatively calm which made the rowing pretty easy. On the shores were hundreds of sunbathers greedily tanning their bodies and of course waiters moving all around serving drinks. Pity that we did not have more time to enjoy this idyllic location, but had to row back for another evening feast on board.

The evening was pretty quiet, and surprisingly not many yachts were moored in the bay. Unfortunately there was an uncomfortable swell during night, which meant a restless sleep for most of us.

St. Nicholas, Turkey

06 May
After 4 days ashore, Robert and Murray are scheduled to return to Awatea today. We set off at noon to pick them up at Gocek town, and after a bite to eat ashore we were all back onboard by 2pm ready to set sail and explore more of the Turkish east coast. The online weather forecast was not the best and Skipper John had also received some verbal advice that the north east wind would gust up to 40 knots that night, so we started to head back to Ortism bay which was fairly sheltered. We spotted ‘Cuttyhunk’ and ‘Belle Helene’ anchored at the east side of the bay not far from the town, so called them up and they suggested we join them as there were large buoys we could tie up to.

We took their advice however picking up the floating buoy seemed easy but proved just the opposite, as it was too heavy to lift out of the water to attach our line. We launched the dinghy and Muzza and Woei Haw were able to secure us to the buoy.

Shortly after Chris and Justin came across and joined us for a few cold beers and it was good to catch up on their latest ventures. While enjoying our drinks we saw a ‘Mega Yacht’ motoring slowly towards Gocek town – absolutely huge and none of us have seen such a big single hull with a 6 spreader mast!!! Being such a monster she would have had trouble anchoring too close into the shore and remained quite a way out in the bay, looking like a flamingo standing among chicks, with her anchor lights shining up into the night sky.

Fortunately the night remained unexpectedly calm and the 40 knots wind did not arrive, enabling us to get a good night’s rest before our next destination - St Nicholas island.

07 May
In the morning we set off early into town to stock up on a few supplies before heading further East. Our trip took us past the ‘big girl’ we saw arrive last night.

She was a true giant and even bigger than we had imagined, resplendent with the hull in lustrous black and everything looking so modern and new, making us wonder how old she was. The crew members appeared relatively small on the huge deck. The companionway was made of black glass, and visually the boat was just stunning. As we came closer, we noticed the crew had opened a huge hydraulic hatch cover and were busy lifting out the huge tender with a serious crane.

On our way out, we spotted her name – ‘AGLAIA’. Coincidentally, the owner and his family were on deck, and as they walked slowly along the huge flat cockpit waved to us. Obviously they were impressed with the fine lines of Awatea!!! We later found her details online; launched earlier in March this year, this super sloop has a length 66 meters with a mast 80 meters high!! Incredible! However the owner details were not shown.  
One interesting point about this sailing yacht is her massive mast. As she is a sloop she needs one very tall and technologically advanced mast which stands over 80 meters above her deck, and even further above the water line. Superyacht AGLAIA also features one of the largest composite rudders created to date.
Robert had brought back a box of fishing tackle, so we set out immediately to get a lucky catch for dinner. However, no fish were caught at the end of day and everyone was pretty disappointed.

It took awhile to arrive at St.Nicholas Island (Gemiler Adasi), which blended into the mainland and was hard to locate visually without help of the GPS. The entrance to the bay was picturesque, with a few medieval ruins sited on the left side, and also home to a restaurant with a few boats anchored along the front. 

St Nicholas Island was situated half a kilometer away from the mainland that formed a channel between, and we decided to anchor at the western end of the channel alongside some Gulets, hoping they would be gone at night and give us some peace and quiet. We were welcomed by the local ‘Ice Cream” boat, who assisted with our anchoring and took the stern line ashore (all for the cost of a few ice creams).

In the afternoon, Murray and Derek decided to go swimming while John, Woei Haw and Robert decided to take the dinghy out to motor around the island. 


The extensive ruins stretched across the whole of the island, and John spotted an old wooden door at the West side, very high up the hill. It took nearly an hour to motor around the island with our Tohatsu 5HP outboard engine.

Our treat for dinner was a BBQ with beautiful lamb, once again sponsored by Robert and prepared by Derek and Muzza. It was indeed another unforgettable night with beautiful food, fine wines and great company, all served at this incredible location.

08 May
We decided to walk up and explore the island in the early morning before the day trippers arrived on the Gulets. It proved to be too early for the caretaker as there was no one there to collect the TL8.00 entrance fee, but even better was that we were the only people on the island. We started our exploration as would pay when we came back to get our dinghy.

As you can see from the photo of the information board at the front entrance, many believe this is the place where ST. Nicholas (known as Santa Claus) visited and/or resided for sometime.

Lots of poppy flowers were growing along the path-way, and there were ruins all around the island, which mainly consists of 4 churches, a long escape tunnel, decorated palace, and many peasant houses, but hardly recognizable today. 


Skipper John mentioned lots of these were destroyed, not just by war, but also as result of earthquakes.  Some online articles also point out that some of the structures sank into the water after the natural disaster. (From the picture of Derek and Murry standing on the ruins, the structure seems to extend further down into the water).
 Walking up to the top was quite pleasant, where different types of ruined construction were spotted one after the other, quite close to each other.

The caretaker had not arrived before we left, and it was time to raise the anchor and head for our next destination - Olüdeniz, or The Blue Lagoon. We motored out through the East channel and were farewelled by a herd of mountain goats bleating their goodbyes.