Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bozcaada, Ayvalik, Cesme and Siğacik

Well the trip to the island was pleasant but berthing was another thing altogether!

Not a marina but a small fishing port the wind was howling throw the entrance when we came in and with of much turning room and shallow water it was not much fun. The catamaran ahead of us went in and pivoted around a few times then came out and we chatted across the water and on channel 69 the rally's designed communication line, as to where and how to come in. Our land based contact Murat advised us to come in on the Coast Guard jetty and assured us there was 4m of depth. We tried but aborted as the winds were too strong for John at the slow approach speed we had. So we backed out and went out the harbour for an hour and sat off the breakwater as Murat , an old islander said the winds were due to fall and swing around from the Xxxxxx to the xxxx which would make berthing easier ( for all those non yacht ie types the boat weighs 14 tonnes and even at slow speeds is a lot to stop or change direction in a hurry and there is a lot of structure above the water line so it is easily " moved" by the wind ...... And most often not in the direction you want it to go!

 After a while we came back in and again attempted a berthing and this time managed to dock..... But not before the dopey CIO had thrown one of the front mooring ropes to the men onshore ..... Except it fell in the water and there was much shouting and flapping of wings ... Haha! Reminded me of Happy Feet the movie

As you can see from the photos there is an excellent example of the castle from the harbour that we mentioned din a previous log.

Once again it was berth and then a quick drink on board before we walked into the town ( 100 m haha! ) to our Restuarant for the night and it was a lovely setting. Right on the fishing harbour wall we sat out and had a traditional and simple meal of fish with a delightful selection of Meze ( what they call the plates of starters they bring out and they are delicious).

Most of us had the sea bream which was grilled and came as a whole fish on a bed of greens.

We were also introduced to 2 very special people on this trip. One was Cem ( pronounced "Gem") who has been a lifelong friend of Murat and was a great help in berthing the yachts as he is an old sea dog himself having owned a number of yachts himself. He was a character and sat with us in the table and could speak good English - a pleasant surprise so we had a good chat over dinner.

The other person was the local governor of the district Ibriham and his wife who joined us. Appointed by Ankara be has a legal degree and plenty of ambition so as they say - what this space - this man is going to go places we all agreed! We did a presentation to him that night on behalf of the rally and thanked him for his hospitality onthe island and then we gave 2 caps to Murat and Cem to say thanks to them. Both were Aussie caps from the selection we had brought for occasions like this and both were gratefully accepted.

Murat and Cem kindly arranged an island tour the next mowning at 9am and a small bus picked us up and off we set. The island was bigger than we realized and they mentioned that the population increases form 1000 to 14 000 in summer. So as you can imagine its a relatively short season for these people to make their living each year and most properties are private and small hotels catering for the high number of locals from Istanbul who holiday down here.

Wine is a big commercial activity on the island and they have 2 wineries and most of the grapes come from the locals who all have a patch of ground and sell their grapes theo the Co- operative tithe winery.

Also as you will see inthe pictures there is a wind farm and it produces enough electricity for 34 000 people and saves a carbon print equally, each year, to a million trees - or so the sign said at the site.

We completed the tour and picked up some fresh bread (ekmet ) onthe way back in and then at 11am we upped anchor and left for our next Port and a welcome 2 day stay which was Avalek - a delightful marina and one of the best towns we have been to onthe trip so far and Skipper John even rated it as right up there in comparison to all the Portside towns he had seen.

With little wind forecasted for the trip down it was decided to make an early start that day and we heading out by 6.30am for a reasonably long leg down to Avalek - a total of 75nm. A long leg and especially with no wind. ...... You could just hear all the turkish marine deisel depots rubbing their hands in glee - haha!

We hosted the sails for most of the day and drew a few knots but had the motor ticking over to assist us. At one stage the Skipper said lets host the gennaker so with a quiet groan we excitedly( not!) set about preparing for the task. At this stage another note is probably worth adding in here for our non yacht ie readers!.... To fly the gennaker or spinnaker as some of you will think of it ( that big ballon type sail that is always multicolored and you see shots of in magazines etc) you have to lay out some ropes then get the shackle to connect it to the headsail via the xxx rope. Then we haul this 30 meter " sock " containing the sail out from the below deck sail locker ( cursing and swearing and bumping heads etc) and once heave it ,up on deck we connect it and pull up the sock and the sail drops out of this as the crew member down the back pull on the xxxx rope.

So anyway to return to the day..... We raised the gennaker but didn't keep it up for long as there wasn't enough wind so the Skipper orders it down again! Up and down , up and down .... The skipper loves that bloody sail!

Back on the motor and we made steady progress the rest of the day. The approach to Avalek is through a cleared demarcated channel and the locals Murat and Cem had kindly advised us to watch out for 2 hidden obstacles on the way in . The first was a rock that shoots up 80 meters from the sea bed and stops about 2 metered below the surface! great one to know about especially at night and the second was onthe approach to the harbour to look out for a black Buoy marking shallow and rocky waters. Both onthe charts but so many people still land up on them! So with this in mind we approached both areas carefully. The sun was getting down as we entered the Marina to berth and the berthing position given to us was ,...... Well should we say big enough but not offering any additional width.... As certain crew members were to find out much to the skippers non delight! A $2 million boat on our starboard side was the culprit for a bit of Awatea's resin being scratched on the way in.

Once berthed we had a chance to look at the marina and awaiting us on the dock were the crew from the French / Belgium Catamaran xxxxxx who invited us over for drinks.certainly no one can say French/ Belgium yachties are either unfriendly nor lacking in an ability to consume alchohol!

We had a wonderful cocktail hour with Monsieur Gee and crew and a heavy hand was felt when the Gin and Tonics were being poured ..... As a certain and very happy crew member was to discovered as we helped him home and to bed!!

Dinner out that night was abandoned in favour of a quick scrambled eggs on toast and it was bed for one and all before 11pm - a rare occasion.

Next day was a free day but John was up early as was Paul so they headed into town in search of a laundry man. After a bit of searching and numerous directions we found one in the back streets and he promised to come out in an hour and collect all our washing. That done they returned tote boat and breakfast was had ( toast and cereal) and Robert and Derek then departed for grocery shopping.later that  day we headed back into the city for a light lunch and found a small but inexpensive place with outdoor seating which we took. The usually "Pide " Turkish pizza bread shaped like a pointed surfboard at both ends was on offer or the usual ekmet where they slice half a loaf and fill it with salads and then either chicken or lamb - very nice too! John and Derek had soups Paul had just a kebab stripped and on a plate with salad and rob had just an ekmet . Washed down with some coca cola it was a good simple meal and all form25 TL - hard to believe! ( about A$10 for all of us.

A shave at the local barber followed and then it was time to head back to the boat for our cocktails that night and we were about to experience something that words can not fully describe ....... ,

The small 20 seater luxury us took us thro the city and also over 2 islands which are now connected by road and up a narrow road. Half way up the bus reverses up the last 100 meters before stopping and we find ourselves I front of a restored Turkish windmill dating back over 100 years ago. The marina owner ( one of Turkeys wealthiest men) had bought it and restored it as a national treasure. It was now a small coffee shop with about 40 seats outdoors but no food and he ran it privately. I doubt many westerners have been to it or know about it as it is off the beaten track but the views - oh the views out over the ocean on 3 sides - they were simply breath taking. Se. Took heaps of pictures so you can enjoy this too,

The marina manger who came with us was a delight to talk to. Well educated with a university degree he spent his military service in the UN due to his ability to speak 4 languages and was posted in Germany. Like so many good Muslims we meet - he drank and enjoyed it. Anyway ULMET was his name and we had a scream of a time with him chatting and learning about the area .

He recommended we do dinner down on the wharf where there were 30 odd Turkish and seafood resturants which is where we headed and also arranged to meet Woei Haw who was joining us for the next cruise down to cesme.

Dinner that night was a fish affair and we chose our fish from the cabinet which they then weighed- told us how much our meal cost and took the fish off to the kitchen. All very fresh and Mediterranean / European style eating ! We also saw the American couple from the boat next door who were also eating inthe next door Restuarant and they came over afterwards to catch up and chat...... And it was a good job they did. When we got the bill which was TL 350! ..... Which in fairness for the food we ate wasn't bad but we noticed they had quoted us TL 6 for soup but charged TL 10 and so it went on. Anyway the American couple ( he is Turkish by birth ) soon sorted it out and with a  TL 30 reduction inthe bill we paid!

They offered us. Lift home and as only 3 could fit Robert Derek and Paul went with them and John and Woei Haw caught a bus. Well the drive with Lee and Randie ( the Americans) was interesting and clearly we would have failed any drink driving test. We started out initially with no head lights until Derek told him and how to put them on..... And then when we arrived at the Marina he missed the turn ( in fairness so would all of us) so we turned around and came back ... And nearly missed it again! The joys of driving in foreign lands.... And with a beer or two sitting comfortably on the inside haha!

Off to bed and and another early start the next day as we had a second long day of sailing with 70 nm to do and again a forecast of not much wind,

We agreed to a 6am start so with the sun not even over the horizon we slipped moorings and headed out just behind the Catarmaran of Monsiuer Gee.

Now before I tell the next part of our odyssey I will,prefix by saying the skipper did stay within the channel buoys on the way out ....... although  he was close enough to the Port one that we could nearly touch it!

So anyway we are merrily chugging up the channel with Derek downstairs and about to bring up some tea when the boat lurches and we hear this gentle scrapping sound. Yes you're right - we somehow found the only high spot on the channel but luckily it was soft sand and we brushed through it. .... Wouldn't  be so lucky up the Whitsunday if that happened now would we!

Anyway uneventful trip down and we got into port at 5.30pm only to have to idle in the channel for more than an hour waiting for the mariner pilot to come out and guide us in. Being a weekend ( Sunday) and a glorious day they had a lot of the locally moored boats out onthe water and our arrival time was obviously the same as everyone else's.

Anyway we were in and berthed by 6.30pm and right next to the same American couple that we berthed alongside before in Avalek. Luckily this time we had a nice wide bay to berth in and no junior crew members lost their heads in the docking today. Hmmm ..... We're going to run out of crew otherwise haha!

Drinks had been arranged informally at a bar down town called ( very aptly )  .. The " No Problem Bar" so off we headed. David from Cypress gave us a brief run down on the next day and told us about good markets in the town or some hot sea springs we could visit close by. For dinner that night we all walked into the city and landed up going to the same Restuarant we ate in on the way up.

But like everything in a foreign land .... There is always a tale to tell and so I will share with you our little "canine experience" as we strolled up to the restaurant .

A certain crew member ( who had on previous occasions shown little regard for the local 4 legged friends !) experienced a touch of " karma". We were walking up when the dog that had been around the pub where we had drinks trotted up - looked around , grinned and then.....  sunk his teeth into Roberts calf ( it did remind me a bit of the kids video " the lion King" haha and all the jackels!). Anyway with blood drawn we had a bite to eat and then one of the Turkish entrants to the rally kindly drove rob off to the hospital for a rabies shot. The dog by the way wasn't so lucky - no one Took himto the vet after biting Robert and the next day he was seen looking most unwell !

The next day was a day off and so we took it easy walked up around midday to the markets and otherwise didn't do much! Stopped at a nice little street restuarant and had alittle bite to eat - menu the usual soup kebab ekmet etc!

Had another cocktail party that night at a wine bar in the marina which was at 6 pm so Robert and Derek headed off together a few groceries , John and Weoi How strolled of through the town in search of shoes and Paul - well he did much the same and found a pair of Sperry boat shoes he fancied.

The wine bar that night was a great success as 4 new boats joined and so at last you felt like it was a rally with not just the same people to talk to at these cocktail gatherings. An American couple with a motor trawler joined as well as a British chap Sean ( well experienced yachtie and his wife who was equally delightful and Scottish ( now I hope this hasn't been lost on some of the ladies out there that they do venture forth to sea with their men!).

Also joining was david who is an old Rally dog and sailed up from Cypress to joints for the down ward leg and a South African couple with a catamaran. So now we had a total of 7 yachts sailing and certainly it's starting to feel like a rally now!

Next day it was back to a flogging for the crew from our heartless captain as we set off on the next leg which was to take us to our lodgings for the next 2 nights at Teos Marina in the town of Sigacik. A great new marina ( only 3 years old ) and the friendliest and most helpful staff out! A delight to be here. We had drinks that night on board our boat and returned the invitation to the French catamaran and yacht and they came over.

The ladies didn't arrive initially and we were told they had gone for a Turkish bath and sauna. Well !...... Did we all roll around on the deck when they returned with the one lady nearly crying as she told us the tale. The one lady (Rene) got a lovely exfoliation and massage whilst the other lady told us she was given the bar of soap and he never came back so it was "self massage" - now understand this was all in French but the mimics and gestures was as good as telling it in English AND I captured a bit of it on video. She was telling us of the small towel she had to cover her "top and bottom" and how as it got wet it seemed to shrink and she was walking around the Turkish bath with men and women and desperately tugging at the end of the towel!!

After they all left we strolled into town and had a very ordinary meal at a marina resturant. ( far less appetizing and triple the price of some of the great meals we have had from the " local " eateries off the tourist strip.

Next day was a free day other than a trip  that morning arranged for us to see the castle and a bit of history on the town. The fully walled city is an unusual feature of this Otterman period and to this day it is inhabitated by people living in the various dwellings.

After that we had a bus ride out into the countryside to see some ruins and followed that up by a visit to the ruins of the early port dating back to the same period. That afternoon overt and John headed out for a shave . Robert then went to the hospital for his second jab in his rabies series. Paul went and had a coffee and afterwards had a Turkish staem bath and massage which he reported was good ( steam bath) but the massage not as good as back home.

That night we had another cocktail party and boy - did they lay on a great spread for us.

1 comment:

  1. Great boys!!! loved it as usual
    Keep the reports coming and as usual................ still jealous
    9 weeks before we are in your part of the world