Logbook: Sailing the Turkish Coast 2005

This logbook consists of 5 chapters. Please click below to go directly to the chapter.

1) Marti Marina to Bodrum

2) Bodrum to Cesme

3) Cesme to Istanbul

4) Istanbul

5) Istanbul to Limnos

1) Marti Marina to Bodrum

Date: April 16th to May 8th, 2005

Last year we left Ocean Harmony sitting on the hard at Marti Marina near Marmaris. At the end of 2004 I retired from Shell after 31 years of service. Over the next 4 months we re-organised our lives. We put most of our furniture into storage in Victoria, Canada and purchased a small apartment in Greenwich to provide our home base in UK. We visited Canada and South Africa and I spent a week in March at Marti Marina doing various maintenance items on Ocean Harmony in preparation for our sailing adventure.

On April 16th, we flew on a Thomas Cook charter flight to Dalaman and then by mini bus, arranged by the Marina, to the marina arriving at about 9.00pm. Ocean Harmony was safely moored and waiting for us. While she was on the hard for 8 months I had arranged for one of the local staff to check up on the boat and charge the batteries from time to time and so, besides the accumulation of pine needles from sitting under the pine trees for so long she was as we left her. We were anticipating taking a week to get used to being on the boat again and doing various odds and ends including provisioning. However, we were not prepared for the second night on board when one almighty wind blew up. We recorded 53 knots of wind on our anemometer Further out on the dock there were reports of 65 knots. Everyone was up all night as staff and boaters gave help to boats in need. The wind persisted until the morning. We were fine but one large cruising yacht had broken her moorings in the gale and crushed a smaller boat against the dock. Many boats had minor damage.

In the aftermath of the gale we enjoyed glorious spring weather as we worked on the boat. We cleaned, recommissioned the water maker and installed a new ozone generator to purify the water for drinking on board. When it came to getting the dinghy ready, I discovered that we had a number of punctures so, repairs were carried out and now all is well. We also met quite a few of our fellow boaters. Our neighbour, Ken, was from Vancouver. He and his wife sail their Beneteau 50 during the summer months. We quickly fell into “boating time” which means that there is always time to stop work and chat with others on the dock, or to break for tea. It amazes me how fast the days go by.

We visited Marmaris on 3 occasions. The Marina provides a free shuttle bus to and from Marmaris. The trip takes 30 minutes over a mountain but the journey is pleasant with very fine views of the Bay of Marmaris as the road descends down the mountain. The town itself has two faces. Along the waterfront are rows and rows of restaurants and all the usual tourist shops. Behind the waterfront is a bustling little town with honking horns and people everywhere. On our last Sunday afternoon before leaving the Marina we went into Marmaris for a last look around and also with a feint hope that we might find a bar that was showing the San Marino Grand Prix on television. There was a big football game being shown on all the TV's, but one bar offered us a separate TV in an upstairs room to watch the race. We ordered a beer and a glass of wine and enjoyed watching an exciting race which was won by Alonso. But Schumacher was a very close second, showing that Ferrari is back in the game.

On Monday morning after checking out of the Marina, we cast off our lines and soon had the sails hoisted. We anchored for the night in a well protected bay called Serci. As you enter the bay the chart shows a Rock called “Remarkable Rock” aptly named for its remarkable mushroom like shape. Serci is also interesting in that an 11th Century wreck was excavated from the seabed near the entrance and parts of the hull and many artifacts are now housed in the museum at Bodrum. Next morning we motored in calm seas some 40 nautical miles to Knidos Bay on the western tip of the Datca peninsular. Knidos is the site of an ancient city that flourished between 400BC and about 50BC. The bay itself is spectacular, surrounded by the ruins of the city on the east side and a large craggy rock face on the west side, affording excellent protection. We anchored off the jetty and sat on the deck in the afternoon looking out over the turquoise blue waters at a very well preserved Greek amphitheatre. Both Harmony and I remarked on the eerie, almost spiritual feel to the place.

Next day we spent several hours hiking about the ruins. (The entrance fee is 4 Turkish Lire each.) In ancient times Knidos was a prosperous town, well positioned for passing trade as it sits on the western tip of the Datca peninsular dominating the 2 mile wide straight between Knidos and the Greek Island of Kos. Even today, as you look out over the sea, there is a steady procession of merchant ships plying the waters of the straights. The ruins themselves are quite easy to identify and we were able to pick out the outline of the old city wall. The amphitheatre is very well preserved and has a unique setting overlooking the anchorage, which was once the merchant harbour where the trading ships would have docked. Sitting in the top row of seats, it was easy to imagine the actors arriving on their ship in the protected harbour and then performing their acts in this unique surrounding. Knidos is special and because road access is difficult, it is still quiet and mostly for visiting sailors. Unfortunately, a new road is being built to the site and so expect tour buses full of tourists within a few years!

We left Knidos and headed north and then east into Gokova Korfezi (Gulf of Gokova). This gulf is about 50 miles long and has a number of interesting anchorages. We had a roaring downwind sail to an inlet called Yedi Adalari and anchored in the East Creek with a stern line ashore. We were very snug from all winds and spent a quiet two days at the anchorage totally on our own. This is the first time since Canada that we have had an anchorage to ourselves. We then sailed further east to English Harbour, so named because it was used as by the British in WW2 as a base for their Special Boat Squadron which would have comprised a number of fast Torpedo boats. The anchorage itself is extremely well protected. Late in the afternoon two other boats arrived and one of them was flying a Canadian flag. We later met Greg, from Vancouver. He had sailed his 50 foot Beneteau across two years ago and is now cruising the eastern Med.

Just a short 5 miles further east, almost at the end of the gulf, is a place called Castle Island which we next visited. The island is very beautiful with many Byzantine ruins including an amphitheatre dating from that period. There is also a remarkable white sandy beach called Cleopatra's Beach, so named because of the story that she had arranged for the sand to be brought all the way from Egypt so that she and Mark Anthony could have their own beautiful beach. The Turkish Pilot states that research has determined that the sand is definitely not local to this part of Turkey. But a local Turk who we met on our exploration of the island, claims that the sand is local and researches have found that the sand is created because of unique local environmental factors. We much prefer the Cleopatra story. Myth or not, the Turks guard the sand fastidiously, even making you shower the sand off your body before you leave the beach! We were the only boat anchored at Castle Island and the wind howled all afternoon until about 7.00pm when it went wonderfully still. So we sat on deck with a glass of wine and watched the sun set over the island with the Turkish coastal mountains in the distance. Ah the cruising life!

We then headed west out of the Gulf of Gokova to Bodrum. The first day was a 25 mile trip to the hamlet of Cokertme where we picked up a mooring buoy in front of the Rose Mary Tavern. We went ashore and had an excellent meal in the company of a Dutch couple, Ton and Marianne cruising on their yacht Caprice. They plan to winter this year in Kemer so we may see them again. Next morning we left early for a 40 mile sail to Bodrum. We motored for the first hour before the forecast North Westerly began to build. It was excellent sailing, with the boat close hauled and doing 7.5 knots. After about an hour the wind was up to 20 knots and so we reefed and continued great sailing. We took some video shots of the boat beating to windward with water spraying over the bow as we surged through the swells. We arrived in Bodrum early afternoon and tied up, Mediterranean style, with the stern tied to the quay. We were helped in by the Marina assistant who used his dinghy as a tug and pushed us very efficiently into our berth. We have not experienced that technique before, but it sure is effective.

Bodrum is a pleasant port which now boasts a large tourist trade. Even this early in the season the seawall was crowded. We spent a day exploring the city. The highlight is definitely the Castle of St Peter which was built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century when they were threatened by the rising military power of the Ottomans. Despite the massive fortifications, the Knights lost their headquarters on Rhodes and abandoned the castle in their retreat to Malta. Today the castle has been restored and it now serves as a museum of undersea treasures found around the coast of Turkey. Artifacts from many underwater sites from as early as 5th century BC are on display. The 11th century wreck that was recovered from Serci (the bay we visited earlier) has been reconstructed and the display of glassware was most interesting. While we were in the Marina a weather front came through with strong southerly winds that delayed our departure for a day. We left the Marina on Sunday 8th May for the next leg of our northward journey.

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2) Bodrum to Cesme

Date: May 9th to May 20th

From Bodrum we sailed north in idyllic sailing conditions; 12 knots of wind from the northwest with sunny skies above. Looking back at the log we were averaging 6 knots closed hauled. We anchored in Gumusluk in 14 metres. The next few days we sailed eastward into the the Gulf of Asin to the ancient harbour of Asin Limani almost at the head of the gulf. Asin, or to use the original Greek name of Iassus, is today an attractive small fishing village. But Iassus dates back to 900BC and the remains of Greek and Roman ruins are everywhere in evidence. As one enters the ancient harbour, the Byzantine Tower is on the starboard side and rising above it are the ruins of the walled city. We explored the small village in the evening and the anchorage itself is very pleasant. We spent a morning hiking around the ruins which are still quite easy to identify. The views from the fort at the top of the hill were amazing. (The photos will eventually make it on to the website.) Unfortunately the experience was marred by the incredible flies which settle on you the moment you stop moving. The Turks allow their cattle to graze amongst the ruins and the flies are obviously attracted to the cow dung which is everywhere. I guess you take the good with the bad. Very few tourists find their way to Asin and the villagers live a very simple life unaffected by modern convenience.

En route to and from Asin we chose anchorages which were supposed to be quiet and secluded according to our Pilot book. But in both the anchorages we chose : Salih Adasi and Paradise Bay we were surrounded by fish farming operations. Sailors be warned, Paradise Bay is no longer a paradise. A working Mussel farm with the noise of work boats and electric generators combined with a sandy beach inundated with plastic garbage bags and other refuse, detracted from what once was a beautiful secluded anchorage. Despite this, in the evening all went quiet and provided you looked toward the green forest and beach it was easy to see how Paradise Bay got it's name.

Our next stop was at Altinkum, where we anchored in 5 metres of water just off white sandy beaches fringed by numerous hotels and bars. The beaches are the best we have seen so far in Turkey. We spent an enjoyable afternoon swimming in the crystal clear waters. Although we were anchored at least a half mile off the beach we were visited by several swimmers who were curious about our boat. Two young boys aged about 12 were even more bold and came aboard Ocean Harmony without asking permission and wandered up to talk to me where I was sitting on the fore deck. I must say I was a bit weary and not entirely comfortable with this invasion but they seemed innocent enough and merely inquisitive. They soon departed and began swimming back to shore, but as I watched them I noticed a bright blue flash in the one boy's hand and recognised by swimming goggles and snorkel. I yelled, “Hey you little bastards bring back my goggles!” but that just encouraged them to swim even faster, so over the deck I went swimming in hot pursuit. Harmony who was watching from the deck said they realised that I was going to overhaul them quite soon and so they stopped their flight. When I got to them in the water they had clearly abandoned the stolen goods and waved their empty hands in the air. So, knowing they had dropped them while swimming away from the boat, I told them off one more time and swam back to the boat, keeping a direct line between them and the boat as I went, peering down at the white sandy seabed. In the very clear water it was easy to spot the bright blue snorkel 5 metres deep, and I dove and recovered them. I guess we will be a bit more wary of uninvited guests in the future.

Altinkum, we discovered, has been adopted by the British. All the restaurants serve Fish and Chips and some a full Sunday lunch. For breakfast you can get “English Breakfast” including pork sausage and bacon for 2.95 pounds! Very strange. We, however, found a place that served Turkish food and enjoyed a nice “non British” meal of Calamari, Turkish Kebab and salad.

Didyma is the site of the Temple of Apollo built in 700BC. It is a short taxi ride from Altinkum to Didyma which cost us CDN$ 40 for the return trip (a ripoff but the most efficient way to do it). Although there are only 3 of the 108 ionic columns still standing at Didyma, it is easy to appreciate the scale of the Temple and to realise its significance to the ancient world. The temple had a torrid history, being destroyed once by the Persians in mid 6th century, rebuilt in 350 BC by Alexander the Great and then finally destroyed by an earthquake in 1493.

Altinkum sits at the western end of the Gulf of Korfezi and the next leg of our trip to Kusadasi involved a 60 mile sail to the north with prevailing North Westerly winds. We also had to pass through the narrow straights between the Greek island of Samos and the Turkish mainland. We left Altinkum in a fresh Northwesterly which quickly built to 20knots. After a short tack to the west, we had a long sail close hauled northward across the Gulf of Latmos. This gulf used to extend quite far to the east in ancient times but is now silted up and is quite shallow for a long way off shore. Checking back on our Log Book, we sailed double reefed for 4 hours averaging 6.5 knots SOG (speed over the ground). Exhilarating stuff. We motored the last 5 miles to reach an anchorage called Port St Paul at the entrance to Samos straight. This was not a good choice for an anchorage as it turned out. The wind funneled down the straight and blew strongly into the bay with gusts over 25 knots. Most nights we have seen the wind drop at sunset, usually making for quiet evenings but not this time. It howled all night long and neither of us slept much. Fortunately the anchor was well dug in and I had lots of rode out with a scope of 4:1 in about 6 metres of water. Next morning we set out into the straights at about 7.30am and immediately encountered the 25 knots right on the nose. However, after about 45 minutes we were through the narrowest part and the wind eased and backed to the west. We soon shook out the reef and sailed north to Kusadasi arriving at Setur Marina at noon. After docking and other formalities, we had lunch and then a well deserved sleep in the afternoon.

Kusadasi itself is a pleasant seaside town with restaurants along the bay, but the real attraction is the ruins at Ephesus a short 20 km inland. We arranged for a guide and at 9.00am Sunday morning we were met at the marina by a man of about 30 called Selzer who spoke excellent English. It is not my intention to write tour guides for the interesting place we visited, but let me just say that Ephesus is a must if you ever travel to this part of the world. Here is a short history based on our tour. Although Ephesus was known as early as 700BC, it gained prominence after Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and entered the city in 336BC. He established a sort of democracy and under the leadership of one of his Generals, Lysimachos, the city expanded rapidly and soon had a population of 300 000. When the Romans arrived in 130BC, Ephesus continued to prosper and grow. It was a major trading centre on the silk route and with a good harbour. Ephesus reached its peak under Augustus Caesar in 200 AD before it began to decline first as a result of invasion from the north and then as a result of silting up of the harbour which resulted in malaria. The population declined gradually and its role as trading centre came to an end. Today the ruins are more than 7 km from the ocean, but it is easy to see the flat flood plain that was filled in from the sea more than 1500 years ago. The ruins themselves are special because of their scale and the clarity with which the city layout can still be seen. Under Austrian archaeologists, parts are being excavated as well as being restored, so there is quite a lot to see there. The museum also has many fine artifacts found at the excavations.

History tells us that Saint John and the Virgin Mary traveled to Ephesus in AD 53. After he died, Mary stayed on and and lived there until her death. There is a story told that a German nun dreamed about the exact location of Mary's house near Ephesus and wrote it up in a book in the late 19th century. This sparked a search which led to the discovery of a ruined house on top of one of the hills above Ephesus. The house has been restored and is now a small church where pilgrims travel. We visited the church. Nice place amongst the trees high up in the hills. I like to think there is truth to the story. It does seem to fit the time frame right.

From Kusadasi we were heading 80 miles north west across the gulf to the town if Cesme. With prevailing northwesterly winds we were anticipating a hard slog to windward, but the wind gods smiled upon us and we sailed and motored in a light 12 knot northerly to our overnight anchorage at Kirkdilim Limani. This bay is really fantastic: well sheltered with the clearest water you can imagine and surrounded on three sides by high hills covered with scrub bush and nary a house or any other signs of human habitation. We were joined by just one other boat, the same French boat that we had seen in Kusadasi. We enjoyed the anchorage so much that we spent another “rest day” anchored enjoying the swimming and serenity of the place. We were woken in the morning by the song birds ashore and then later by a lone fisherman who fished his way around the bay for an hour in the morning. There is plenty of fish in the bay as I discovered whilst snorkeling in the afternoon. I even discovered a shard of a pottery jar on the seabed which we would like to believe is some ancient relic. But it probably dates from modern times as we know that pottery jars are still used in many parts of Turkey today. I returned it to the sea before we left. We awoke next morning to overcast skies and a southerly wind. This was very fortunate in that we were able to sail most of the 40 miles to Cesme which we reached early afternoon.

Cesme boasts a 15th century Genoes castle which was worth a visit. However the town we found to be one of the nicest we have been to in Turkey. It was originally inhabited by Greeks until they were evicted (exchanged) in the 1923 settlement following the Greek Turkish conflict. Many of the houses along the cobbled main street are of a Greek architectural style and we found the old Greek church which now serves as a market. If you look carefully at the ceiling of the church you can still parts of a frieze.

We are now tied up at the marina in Cesme. We decided to stay over today because this morning the weather forecast was predicting near gale winds in our area. As usual, they seem to have been quite wrong as we have a light southerly blowing! We spend a lot of time getting weather forecasts from various sources. We get the Greek 24 hour forecast in English every morning at 9.00am. We also get 24 hour Turkish and Greek forecasts on NAVTEX (a medium wave automatic receiver). We also use two websites www.poseidon.com and www.windguru.cz. Forecasts seldom agree with each other and are often wrong. I don't know why it is so difficult to forecast in this part of the world.

Some of our friends are no doubt wondering what we do with ourselves all day long. You probably think its a long holiday. And it is in a way. But life aboard is quite hard work. So here is a typical day in the Wills' life.

A typical day aboard Ocean Harmony


Awoken by calling to prayers being chanted from the nearest Minaret. No kidding. This happens in every town!


Wake up again and put the kettle on. Switch the anchor light off when anchored. Sit in the cockpit, watch the sunrise, raise Canadian flag, drink tea, sometimes drink second cup.


Breakfast and another coffee on deck. Check for emails on Blackberry.


Wash dishes, discuss the days plans, review charts, review pilot guide.


Listen to Weather. Very important. Check weather reports on NAVTEX. Sometimes check internet.


Get ready to go sailing: hoist dinghy onto davits, remove sail cover, attach halyard, check route on chart computer.(if we're in a marina we set off on our site seeing or provisioning with backpack and camera.)


Hoist mainsail and hopefully heading in the direction we need to go. While sailing we are busy trimming sails, checking courses, writing the sailing log every hour and keeping watch. It is surprising how quickly a large ship can come up on you. Also, while sailing we make water using the Spectra watermaker once every 3 or 4 days.


Typically we like to arrive before 1500 at our anchorage or Marina. It takes us about 30 minutes to settle the boat for anchorage. Stow sails, put on sail cover, open hatches, put on mosquito nets, launch dinghy.


Swimming, snorkeling when anchored. Cleaning and maintenance while in the marina.


Hot showers!!!


Sun over the yardarm, the bar opens. Cocktails on deck. Send emails to family, write this log.


Prepare meal or head out to Taverna depending on where we are.


Eat, wash up, read book, or watch DVD's. We can use the TV/DVD while anchored, but seldom do so and it does use up a lot of battery power.


Check anchor, go to bed.

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3) Cesme to Istanbul

Date: 21st May to 5th June 2005

The next leg of our trip was about 80 miles to Ayvalik, which is on the Turkish mainland, opposite the Greek island of Lesvos. The first stop was an anchorage on the south eastern end of the island of Karaada. We stayed there for 2 days waiting for the north westerly to blow itself out. It was a lovely anchorage with clear water and we had it mostly to ourselves except for 2 hours on the first afternoon when two tripper boats anchored and played load music while tourists danced on the deck and swam from the boat. Once they left the anchorage returned to blissful serenity. We were surprised and delighted to see a Golden Eagle one evening. He was soaring in the updrafts created by the strong wind blowing against the cliffs. We never did seem him catch his dinner and eventually as the sun began to sink over the cliffs he flew off to roost for the night.

We left Karaada in a light breeze and motor sailed to the fishing village of Eskifoca. The small jetty was jammed with boats so we anchored off in the south east corner of the bay with a long stern line secured ashore. I had previously arranged with a Turkish company, Q Sails, from Izmir to order a new gas cylinder for the Rod Kicker which had somehow failed over the winter. By a coincidence, the owner of the company actually lived in Eskifoca so we were able to pick it up from his house which was less than 100 metres from where we were anchored. The town itself has a very attractive inner harbour with colorful fishing boats and several restaurants. We were once again struck by the small size of the fishing boats we have seen in Turkey. They are usually about 12 foot long wooden boats with a single cylinder diesel engine that you can hear from miles away. The boats are well looked after with bright paintwork. Usually two people work the boats with fine mesh nets. They must be quite seaworthy despite their small size. I just finished reading a rather scary book called the End of the Line which paints a very sad picture of the rapid decline in fish stocks around the world as a result of the massive scale of fishing carried out by certain countries, most notably Spain. So, maybe the Turks have got it right with their small boats which must help sustain the fish stock and provide work for so many Turks.

Another 25 miles north we anchored between two islands at Bedemli Limani. I had read about the anchorage in Aubrey Millard's account of Valeda IV. It feels so open and exposed, but we stayed peaceful and safe even in quite a strong north westerly for 2 days. We had it to ourselves and the water was crystal clear. Snorkeling was great and there were quite a few species of brightly coloured fish. It was a “perfect” anchorage. We took our dinghy “Tinker” for a ride to see the main anchorage a mile away on the eastern side of the island. It looks very safe and was well protected, but there were houses and cottages around the bay. On our way back we had to motor into the chop and we got a bit wet. We were able to BBQ in the evening. Our BBQ sits on the stern rail of the boat. It is made by Force 10 and we got it in Canada and carried it all the way to Sweden. We had the connection modified so that we could hook up the gas line to our European butane cylinders. But of course, the gas jets are all sized for Canadian Propane so we get one really hot BBQ. Great for steaks but difficult for anything fatty. Our technique with chicken is to remove the skin and wrap in heavy duty Aluminum foil. Similarly by wrapping vegetables in foil with olive oil and wine we can make a good imitation of Turkish gouvec.

We arrived in Ayvalik Setur marina on Thursday 26th May. The main reason for going to Ayvalik was to visit Pergamon which we did the next day. It is a 90 minute bus ride from Ayvalik to Bergama, which is the modern town sitting below the Acropolis of Pergamon. By now we are getting used to seeing ancient ruins. In fact one ruin looks a lot like the next after a while. But the trick is to let the imagination run free. The first big surprise as you approach Pergamon is its imposing vista sitting on top of a 1000 foot high steep sided hill. From the top, where the remains of the acropolis still dominate, you can look out over the plain and see the sea 22 miles away. In ancient times, the defenders would have had ample warning of invasion. Secondly the fortifications must have been pretty near impregnable. Such steep sides and walls 10 feet thick. Less restoration has been done here than in Ephesus, but there is enough of the ruins to imagine the scale of this ancient city with marble Temple, a Gymnasium and one of the largest libraries of the ancient world.

Here is a short history of Pergamon based on our tour. Pergamon dates from about 800 BC but its glory years followed after Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 334BC and the city came under the rule one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachos who later moved to Ephesus. Our guide told us that he moved to Ephesus because his wife was from there and didn't like living in Pergamon. So what's different 2000 years later? During the Pergamon dynasty from 263 BC until 133 BC Pergamon rose to be one of the major cities of Asia Minor with a population of 150 000, which is a lot more than it is today. During this time period the library was established which eventually housed an estimated 200 000 parchment scrolls which vied with Alexandria for the biggest library in ancient times. Parchment was invented by the the Pergamenes and the word parchment is believed to be derived directly from name Pergamon. In 133BC the last ruler bequeathed the kingdom to Rome and it was made the capital of the Roman province of Asia. And in 41BC Mark Antony gave most of the library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift.

After we had walked all the way down the hill ( we took a taxi up to the top!) to the town of Bergama again, we were all ruined out and so stopped and ate lunch at a small restaurant recommended by our guide before visiting the museum which contained a lot of headless marble statues. Then back in the bus and home to the marina by 6.00pm. The bus rides themselves were interesting. We drove through the countryside and it was fascinating to see many fields being tilled by hand. Women wearing long dresses stooped over tending the crops. Turkey has a long way to go in terms of agricultural methods. We also saw donkey drawn carts competing for space on the busy road with tractors, buses, ancient motor cars, 2 stroke scooters and the occasional more modern car. We have seen quite a number of 1960's American Chev's and Old's on the road as well. The roads are in a state of permanent disrepair. There were so many potholes that the bus driver who obviously knew every bump in the road would suddenly veer off onto the other side where apparently it was smoother. And then, when traffic approached from the other direction, he would wait until the last moment before diving across to the correct side of the road. Meanwhile all the passengers swayed back and forth with no apparent concern.

The whole trip to Pergamon cost us under $200. Our costs were as follows: 3 hour private tour guide; $100: Taxi up the hill $15, Lunch $20, Entrance Fees to Pergamon $20, Entrance fee to museum, $12,bus fares for 2 $11 each way.

We left Ayvalik archipelago on Monday 30th May with the most challenging part of our trip now ahead of us; that being up and through the Dardanelles and across the sea of Marmara to Istanbul. The winds are predominately north easterly so we were expecting to motor a lot of the time. Also, the anchorages and harbours are few and far between so long hauls were planned. The first leg was 50 miles to the island of Bozcaada just to the south of the entrance to the Dardanelles. We stern berthed at the new concrete pier after a long day of motoring with the last 3 hours straight into a 20 knot wind. We rested up the next day. We only left the boat to do a quick tour of the Ottoman fort that dominates the tiny harbour. We walked all round the fort but when we returned to the entrance gate we found ourselves locked inside the fort! Apparently the attendant had gone to lunch and locked up. Now how to escape from a well fortified fort? I went down to the side which faces the dock and eventually attracted the attention of some young men who eventually found a homemade stepladder and helped Harmony and I scale the walls and so to freedom!

From Bozcaada we went to Cape Helles at the entrance to the Dardanelles and anchored in Morto Bay below the Turkish War Memorial which is in honour of the more than 500 000 Turkish and Allied soldiers who died during the Galipoli campaign in 1915. We went ashore and visited it and the British War memorial which is on the other side of the bay. The Turkish Memorial has an interesting museum with some striking photographs of the Royal Navy ship under attack from the shore batteries. For those of you interested in WW1, the Galipoli campaign was conceived by Winston Churchill when he was in charge of the Admiralty. The original plan was for the Royal Navy battleships to run the gauntlet up the Dardanelles and seize control of Istanbul and the Bosporus to prevent the Russians gaining control. The Turkish defenders under the leadership of the young Ataturk, defended stoically and sunk several ships forcing them to turn back. One account that I read suggested that the Turks were almost out of artillery ammunition at the time the British fleet decided to withdraw. So near but so far. The subsequent landing of British, French and Anzac troops on the Galipoli peninsular was carried out but they became bogged down in trench warfare and were unable to breakout. Eventually after 9 months fighting the troops were evacuated but not before half a million Allied and Turkish men had died in the appalling conditions of trench warfare.

We left very early next morning for the 50 mile trip through the Dardanelles. First we recrossed the shipping lanes to the southern side of the narrows. Ships pass up and down continuously and are often only 5 or 10 minutes apart, so it is necessary to time your crossing to pass behind the ships, first the one going west down the Dardanelles often at speeds of 15 knots with the current, and then the ones going east up the straights. We accomplished the crossing without mishap . Then we motored all the way east up the Dardanelles against the current which at times was over 3 knots. We followed the advise of the pilot and hugged the Asiatic coast. In the narrow sections we tried to stay between the 10 and 20 metre depth contours to take advantage of back eddies. We could easily see the eddies but seldom seemed to get much help from them. Looking at our log, we averaged about 5knots over the ground going through the Dardanelles. We finally arrived at the small hamlet of Kemer on the southern shores of the Sea of Marmara at about 4.00pm. We anchored south of the fishing harbour, in front of the little village. No sooner had we settled down than we received another uninvited guest in the form of a 12 year old boy who swam from shore and climbed aboard and greeted us. We never invited him any further and his English seemed to be limited to “hello”. So after about 5 minutes of staring at us he said a last “hello” and dove off , swimming back to shore. He was part of a group of 6 boys and 2 girls who were all swimming and running around on the foreshore opposite where we were anchored and just beside the Tea House where several men were sitting playing card and drinking tea as is the custom all over Turkey. Suddenly one of the men came dashing out and began shouting at the top of his voice at the children. Soon a woman dressed in traditional Muslim dress, came out and grabbed one of the young girls aged about 6 and began dragging her off. I hadn't noticed that the girl had taken her shirt off and had been running around “topless” quite innocently with all the other children. The woman now forced her to put her shirt on with much screaming and wailing from the child. Once that was accomplished play returned to normal and the tea drinkers returned to whatever they were doing. I wonder if this kind of fanatical conservatism makes any sense?

The next day we arose early and left at about 8.30am. But I could see through the binoculars that there was a sea running with whitecaps out beyond the point. We took our usual heavy weather precautions; bringing out the life jackets and safety harness. But when we rounded the point we faced 3 metre waves with a 25 knot wind straight on the nose. We persevered for about half an hour hoping conditions would improve as we got clear of the headland. But there was no diminishing the wind or waves. Some of the waves were so big that we were often almost stopped in the water when two or three big ones hit us in rapid succession. Taking such a pounding and averaging only about 3.5knots, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and returned to anchor where we had been the previous night. When we started out next morning, the sea was still rough but we were determined to move on. We had a new strategy this time and that was to take a long starboard tack away from the point and then tack back into the next bay. It worked! Although the wind was still 20 knots the boat sailed comfortably with a double reefed main and jib. In calm water, it is obviously quicker to motor directly into the wind than it is to tack, but we proved to ourselves that in rough conditions it is way better to sail and quicker too. We were able to tack through about 100 degrees and average about 6.5 knots compared with motoring straight into the seas, taking a tremendous pounding and averaging just 4 knots. No brainer; sailing is the way to go. After all it is a sailboat! We dropped our anchor at Pasalimani Adasi at about noon, having sailed 40 miles in 6 hours.

We were now just about 70 miles south west of Istanbul and our plan had been to sail east across the southern section of The Sea of Marmara and then head north to Istanbul thereby allowing us to sail close hauled all the way taking a further 3 days to get there. But as we cleared the island of Pasalimani, the wind dropped to under 8 knots and we held our course for Istanbul. If the wind came back we could bear away and reach to the east following our old plan. If the wind stayed light, we would be in Istanbul the same day. The wind stayed light so we held our north easterly course, crossing the main shipping lane about 30 miles out of Istanbul and then approaching Atakoy along the northern shore outside the shipping lane. We arrived at the marina at 1600hours having motored for 10 hours solid at an average speed of 7 knots.

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4) Istanbul

June 5th to June 14th

We spent the first two days at the Marina cleaning up the boat, getting laundry done and fixing the watermaker. Yes, our essential and so far dependable Spectra Watermaker finally let us down with a failed feed pump. We contacted Spectra in California by email on Sunday night soon after we arrived here. By Monday night ( Monday morning California time) we had a reply from their technical department diagnosing a spun shaft and providing instructions on how to effect temporary repairs. They also agreed to ship a new pump head by FedEx to their agent in Istanbul. Great service from Spectra. The next day the local repair shop at the Marina was able to carry out the suggested repair and we had it reinstalled and running on Wednesday morning. The new pump arrived in Istanbul the same day but, heres the rub; it was held in customs. It took the agent until Friday afternoon to clear customs and because it was a “rush” we were stung for US$ 535 customs duty for a pump that was valued at US$650! I have no idea what these charges relate to and I have not received an itemised statement from the agent here either. I had asked Spectra to state the value of the pump as US$50 because anything under US$ 100 is duty free we think. But they later told us that they had to write the true value on the shipping papers. The new pump is now installed and tested and all works well. The repaired pump is a spare in case of future problems. So ends the watermaker saga.

We spent the rest of the week being tourists. I have never been to Istanbul before, but have always wanted to come here. Maybe its is because when I was in Grade 5 at Durban North Junior school I was given the punishment of writing out the history of Constantinople 20 times over a weekend for talking in class. I found it so interesting that I determined to see it myself one day. The city of Constantinople was founded by Emperor Constantine in AD330. The city grew and prospered as the capital of the Byzantine empire which reached its peak in the 6th century. Constantinople was endowed with beautiful palaces and buildings the most important being the Haghia Sophia which was completed in 537. From the 10th century onward the Byzantine empire was increasingly threatened by Ottoman expansion and when finally Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 heralding the rapid rise of the Ottomans who expanded their empire deep into the Balkans and the Middle east. By the 16th century the Ottoman sultan was the central figure of the Muslim world. Fortunately the Ottomans continued to build and embellish the city of Istanbul, converting Byzantine churches into Mosques and building many fine new ones. The Ottoman empire began its slow decline in the 18th century although the last sultan was not deposed until 1922.

What follows is the highlights of our time in Istanbul.

We both enjoyed our stay in Istanbul. It was relatively easy to get around either by taxi or by bus. We tried the bus a few times but ended up using taxis most of the time because we were trying to see a lot in a relatively short time. Taxis were quite cheap except for one time when we were ripped off. We think the driver put the meter on the late night rate which we could not know because we can't read Turkish. We were charged 29 lira for a fare that on all other occasions costs us about 12 lira. The restaurants were good and not too expensive. Typically dinner for two with a bottle of Turkish wine was 90 lira, about CDN$85. The Turkish wine is not great, but after being here for a few months, we have acquired a taste for it! The local beer Efes is good.

We were not too sad to leave Atakoy Marina on Tuesday. Although it was conveniently located and had all facilities, it smelled of drains when the wind blew from the east. Also, because the entrance faces north, all the debris and flotsam ends up in the marina. You can look over the side to see the delights of discarded plastic bottles, cans of beer and occasional used condom. The water itself looked dirty and we discovered some nasty insects that looked like lice in our watermaker strainer. Also, when we left the knotmeter wasn't working and when I opened it up the impeller was jammed full of these critters, stopping the impeller from turning. The Marina charged us 25 euros a night plus 10 euros a night for electricity hook up.

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5) Istanbul to Limnos

June 14th to June 19th 2005

We really enjoyed our visit to Istanbul but we were also pleased to be on our way again. We left the marina at about 10.00hours under cloudy skies with a fresh north easter blowing. We double reefed the main and sailed very quickly on our way westward toward the town of Silivri averaging 7.5 knots. This was what we had been promised, no more motoring, as we sailed in a south westerly direction with the predominant wind from the North/North East. We anchored outside Silivri fishing harbour in the bay at 14.30 hours. The harbour looked crowded and busy although but we noted that a Swedish boat arriving soon after us managed to squeeze into the harbour. Later they came out again and anchored just in front of us. We saw them again in Canakkale and they told us they had left the harbour because of the enormous rats they saw on the pier!

Next day, surprise! Despite the promised steady winds, light winds again found us motoring most of the way to Marmara Adasi. We anchored off in the small cove on the east side as you enter the bay. The north side of Marmara Adasi is composed of marble rock, rising to about 200metres and it has been quarried here since antiquity. Many of the Greek and Roman sculptures that you see in museums around the world probably had their origin on this small island. From the boat we could look up at a hillside of marble that had been laid bare by carving great blocks of marble measuring about 3 metres square. These blocks were loaded onto specially designed trucks that trundled slowly down the winding road to the harbour kicking up a trail of dust. We got the dinghy down and motored across to the harbour to see the loading of these great blocks onto waiting ships. We motored around the inner harbour to see the only breakwater in the world that is made with blocks of marble!

From Marmara Adasi we enjoyed a very quick downwind sail across the southern section of the sea of Marmara and then half way down the Dardanelles arriving at Canakkale at about 1800hours. We sailed continuously for 11 hours covering 70 miles at an average speed of just under 7 knots. The last part going down the straights, hugging the outside edge of the shipping lane, with the wind building to 20 knots was quite scary. As we approached the last bend before reaching Canakkale, a freighter came up behind us very quickly and blasted his horn several times even although we were right on the very edge of the shipping lane. We had no alternative but to jibe away and pass very close by the starboard hand channel buoy. Once he was past we were able to jibe back and cross the shipping lanes again before entering the small harbour at Canakkale. That was not the end of the excitement because we were now obliged to squeeze Ocean Harmony into a narrow space between a very large ketch and a Moody 375 with the wind gusting 20 knots on the port bow. I almost got it right going in astern and using the bow thruster to keep the boat lined up, but at the last moment the wind pushed the bow to starboard causing the outboard motor which hangs off the port side of the pushpit, to strike the large ketch. It seemed like just a small bump and we completed docking but later we noticed that the pushpit had been bent inward by the impact. It is not really noticeable, but it will ultimately require repair work to straighten it out.

From Canakkale we took a dolmus (mini bus) to the ancient city of Troy and spent a few hours wandering around the ruins. There really isn't all that much to see although having spent quite some time at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul it was interesting to pick out the various layers of the city that excavations have revealed. Archaeologists have identified 9 layers of the city, the oldest layer being from around 4000BC. Homer's Troy of about1300 BC has been identified as the 6th layer.

Visiting the ruins at Troy is really a pilgrimage to Homer. I made the effort to read the Iliad recently which describes the epic 10 year war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Troy was built on top of a small rise on a plain which stretches westward to the sea which is visible just a few miles away. In the Iliad, Homer describes the Greek and Trojan armies facing each other and it was quite special to stand atop Troy and look out over the famous battlefield. This is what Homer described 3000 years ago:

“Now a sharp ridge rises out in front of Troy,

all on its own and far across the plain

with running-room around it, all sides clear.

Men call it Thicket Ridge, the immortals call it

the leaping Amazon Myrine's mounded tomb, and there

the Trojans and allies ranged their troops for battle.” (from Iliad)

On another day, we took an organised tour to visit the ANZAC battlefields on Gallipoli. I have already described our visit to the Memorials at Morto Bay at the north side of the entrance to the Dardanelles, where the British and French troops landed. The Australians and New Zealanders landed further up the peninsular at a small cove below steep sided hills. The cove subsequently became known as ANZAC Cove. How they climbed up to the ridge with a weight of equipment under constant machine gun fire boggles the mind. We had an excellent Turkish tour guide who described the terrible ordeal that both the Allies and the Turkish soldiers experienced in 9 months of trench warfare. He not only explained the sequence of battles but also the tremendous importance that the Turks place on this battle and the fact that it “saved” their homeland. The Turks learn about Gallipoli at school and every Turk is encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the battlefield at least once in their lifetime. The tour took 7 hours and it was definitely worth doing. The tour company we used was called Hassle Free tours and they are based at Anzac House. It cost 43 lira each and included a decent lunch.

The Turkish part of our cruise was now nearly over as we were heading out of the Dardanelles and Turkey to meet Susan at the Greek Island of Limnos. This meant clearing all Turkish customs formalities in Canakkale before we departed. The pilot book reported that other sailors had experienced problems with uncooperative officials at Canakkale. We inquired if there was an agent who could handle our clearance and we were told that , yes, an agent would do that for US$75. We decided to do it ourselves. The process for leaving Turkey is as follows: 1) Go to the Harbourmaster with your transit log. He signs that off. 2) Go to the police to have your passport stamped and the Transit log stamped. 3) Go to the customs officer who also stamps the Transit log and 4) Take the completed stamped Transit log back to the Harbourmaster and you are on your way.

On Saturday morning at 0900 we arrived at the Harbourmaster's office. It was closed. “Oh oh!” I thought: “Not a good sign” We began to walk back disconsolately to the boat when we saw several policemen sitting drinking coffee. I asked one of them where the Harbourmaster was. He walked back with me to the locked doors, rattled them around a bit and then called the Harbourmaster on his cell phone. Yes, the Harbourmaster would be there at 1000. We went back at that time and indeed he was there just unlocking the office. Apparently he doesn't normally work on Saturday's. He was most pleasant as indeed were all the other officials we dealt with and the whole process was completed in less than half an hour. Sure glad we saved the $75 on the agent!

The 60 mile trip from Canakkale to Limnos was uneventful. In fact a bit boring because we had no wind at all and motored the whole way. We were surprised at the strong currents that persisted long after we had exited the Dardanelles. In fact we averaged 8.5 knots almost all the way to Limnos indicating at least a 1 knot westward current. In the Dardanelles we actually clocked over 10 knots SOG. We anchored off in a deserted cove called Freshwater Cove, which is situated in Ormos Moudros, at 1430 hours. We made shipshape and enjoyed a swim in the clear warm water.

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