the last five days we have been living ‘on the hard’ while Common Sense has had her bottom scraped clean of algae, barnacles
and other marine growth, followed by the application of a couple of coats of
anti-foul paint. We contemplated doing this work ourselves, but the sight of
several other cruisers spending weeks cursing, covered in grit and dust
convinced us that it would be a fine thing to contribute a few hundred lira to
the Turkish economy and get the local guys to do it. 900TL and it was done in one day (early start, late finish) by two painters.
Common Sense after her wash
Sense was in excellent shape after almost 3 seasons covering many thousands of
miles – All the way down the US East Coast, a nip across the Gulf Stream to the
Bahamas, a run through the Bermuda Triangle and a passage over the
Atlantic.Then it has been two seasons
in the Med from Nth Africa and back.Whatever Cap’n Dave put on it before he sold it to us was a very wise
choice as almost all the growth came off in a pressure wash alone.
New paint and a shiny prop
had other jobs to do: Terry installed a new speaker in the cockpit to replace
one that died, and put in the fittings for our new Dyneema lifelines (we will
buy the line itself when we go to the US in a couple of weeks) while I polished
up the propeller, filled a few minor dents in our fibreglass and fixed the
knotmetre. It was exciting going back across the marina when we got dropped in, seeing the speedo functioning again.We can get the speed from the chartplotter but having 3 of 4 instruments
working and 1 showing 0.00 used to bug Terry no end.
Dropping back in with Terry onboard for the ride
still have a couple of things to do – our “Fremantle Australia” homeport
lettering needs to be replaced, for example - but Common
Sense looked quite splendid on the outside as she hit the water yesterday
morning . We are very glad be back in the slip with our friendly B Dock
neighbours, the gentle rocking of the ocean and no great high ladder to climb
up and down twenty times a day. The inside is quite another matter, and one of
my goals for the year is to finally have a cabin that is comfortable, homely and where
everything is STOWED.
of Spring are all around us here in southern Turkey, in the mild weather, the
snow melting from the mountaintops, flowers and green buds everywhere, new
produce in the markets. It’s time to get out and about for some more hiking and
sightseeing in this beautiful country.
Snow on the
off to the US for a couple of weeks on Sunday to visit my mum before we sail
away northwards for the next season. 10 days in Arizona in the desert then 4 or 5 days in Terry's favourite city, Las Vegas Nevada.
As many of
you know, we spent much of December and all of January at home in Western
Australia, in Perth and Bunbury. It was so good to see all our friends again
and to spend time with the kids and other family. Heartfelt thanks yet again to
the Cowans for the chance to house-sit our summer ‘home away from home’ and to
dear Pauline for putting up with us for weeks on end – we hope we paid our way
in gardening, cooking and odd jobs! Special thanks to Jo for the loan of her
car – sorry about what all the berry-eating parrots inflicted on it! As always
there is a long list of people to thank for sleepovers, meals and a general
good time: Leonie and Steve for great company and a way higher star rating than
Noovoh; Kathy and Pete for a great day on the water (with dolphins!) and
gatherings with friends; Ann and Robin for a warm welcome complete with pizza
oven; Colin and Sol; the South West Cruising Club; all the crew at the NAB; Jenny
and Robbie and the kids for fun times down on the farm; Lea; Pat and Julee, Jo
and Bill and all the kids for a great family Christmas, Marg and Mike; Robyn,
Christina and all my old friends from school; future cruisers Jeanette and Neil; Jan;
Dawn; Pat and Terry; Sue, Olga and Sally; Penny; Pauline and Jerry; Melissa;
Blin and Kim; Lisa and Aaron; Lizzy for chauffeuring us and Mart for a great
evening at Green Street Bar – and everyone else along the way. It wasn’t just
the 26 hour journey back to Turkey that wore us out!
Lizzy, Keith and Martin, Christmas
the people, it was lovely to get back to the beach and the bush, especially
down south. Our beaches really are sensational – clean white sand, clear water,
plenty of aquatic life, surf and no crowds. The down side is hearing the theme
music from “Jaws” every time you go in the water.The other negative is the outrageous cost of
everything – a meal out is at least five times the cost of something similar in
Turkey, for example – which reflects high salaries and high property values of
course, but was a bit of a shock still.
The beach goes forever
knew it, it was time for the long trip back to Common Sense. 11 hours to Doha, six hours from Doha to Istanbul, an
hour from Istanbul to Antalya, two hours on the bus from Antalya to Finike – 26
hours including layovers. And strangely enough, stepping aboard felt like we
were coming home.
we’ve settled in here in Finike with 290 other boats – the marina
is pretty full for sure. Lots of people we know from other
places in the Med – some Australians we met back in Monastir last
year, some French guys we met there also and some people we knew from
Greece. Our friends from North Carolina who crossed the Atlantic
with us are 3 boats away, and the other Catalina 42 Mk II who was
with us is 30 miles away in Kas.
Finike Marina, Antalya, Turkey
For the moment, we are focused on
settling in and getting BOAT jobs done. For those fortunate enough
to NOT own a yacht, BOAT is “Break Out Another Thousand”. So
far, so good. The Bow Thruster is finally fixed! Backing in
anywhere was always a mystery – will it work or won’t it? Trying
to tie up stern-to in Agios Nikolaos on Crete in 40 knot winds was a
nightmare and it didn’t work. Now I know it will. The Hydrovane
got itself bent in Kythnos when we were banging onto the dock wall.
Straightened now. Works again. New anchor chain is in the locker,
all 300ft of it. No more jiggling a shackle around the windlass when
you get to 90’, then jiggling from chain to rode at 140’. If we
want 300’ out, it’s going to be all chain. Auto bilge pump
switch (somewhat important!) replaced and working. VHF still away
with the repairer.
sourced a spinnaker pole that I’ve been chasing for a year.
Now we just have to match it to a mast track so it’s got somewhere
to live and stay out of the way. Lots of canvas work done to
repair things that were worn through or ripped off in the winds.
Also getting a big “tent” made to go over the boom and out to the
lifelines so we can spend more time out in the cockpit. At the
moment, we have a connecting piece between the Dodger and the Bimini
but it slopes down and I have to bend to get under it so a tent that
is boom-high will be good.
Common Sense's spinnaker
have a full social calendar here – Monday evenings are Turkish
classes and Monday afternoons are computer classes. Yoga in the mornings. Monday night is
Film Night, Tuesday afternoon is Tech Talk where you get lectures and
Q&A on Diesel Motors, electrics etc, Tuesday is Games Night
(darts, cards etc) Wednesday night is free, Thursday night is
Quiz Night, Friday morning is walkies (we walked to a town called
Turuncova a couple of weeks back, 8kms there and 8 back but some
people cheated and caught the bus home), Friday night is Happy
Hour over in the closest bar, Saturday night is Pub Night and Sunday
is the weekly BBQ. There are so many people at the Sunday BBQ that
there is now also a 3pm Saturday one. Sunday morning is a bike
ride to somewhere. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings are
Yoga mornings. Friday once a month is a bus to Antalya, 100km
away for the Symphony Orchestra concert.
2013 in summary
started our year out of Tunisia headed for Lampedusa. Where we were
last winter in Monastir is in a bit of an uproar at the moment.
12kms nth of there, in Sousse, some dude did the suicide bomb trick
last week and the same day the coppers caught two more with
explosives in the Bourghiba Mausoleum complex, which we walked past
every day to go to town. It’s about 500 metres from the
friends Olivier and Lauren were outside of us, as was another
French guy, Eric, with our Belgian friend Laurent a couple of miles
behind. We regularly catch up with Olivier and Lauren in all sorts
of places. Laurent got himself dismasted off Malta, politely
declined “extraction” by the Maltese Armed Forces, who, to their
credit, let him continue. Anywhere else the jackboots would have
come out and his forcible removal would have ensued. Laurent sailed
his little “Caracal” back to the south of France with half a mast
sticking up and a genoa poled out to replace his mast. He’s now
headed across the Atlantic.
From Lampedusa, we headed for Malta and
a rendezvous with our very old friend Avertano Role. Tano is one of
life’s great characters, thoroughly committed to whatever he does.
He is a lecturer at the University in Malta. It was great to catch
up with him and spend a lot of time with him and his wife Sharon, who
combines her job as a Chemistry teacher in high school with being a
fantastic cook and generous hostess. It was one of our highlights of
On to Sicily and the historic city of
Syracuse. I could live there, easy. It is where our friend Guy on
Skaf IV explained to me his theory that there exists a “Mediterranean
Man”. He insists there is more to link a man from Syracuse to a
man from Marseilles to a man from Tunisia than there is to link a
Sicilian to a Venetian. There is a North/South divide Guy says that
is not economic, it is a way of thinking about what you want out of
life and I’m beginning to think he’s right.
Syracuse Harbour - anchored where boats have anchored for 3,000 years.
We spent some time in Calabria, in La
Castella to be precise. This had some intrigue for me as my
schooldays were spent in the company of people named Calabrese,
Saraceni etc. Here, in Calabria, the first street up from the marina
is Saraceni street! These are guys I spent 8 years of my young life
with and I was excited to see where their roots are. After a week or
so in La Castella, we were part of the furniture. We would take up
position outside the Camel Bar on the main drag each night with a
beer and a wine and watch the Passegiata. By the end of the week, we
were being acknowledged. We sat across the road (all of 30’) from
the old people’s flats, and everyone who passed stopped to pay
their respects to them. On the other side of the road, we got a nod,
which I felt was a damn good start.
Birreria di Camello
I have never been what you would call
“emotional” in my whole life. Definitely “reserved” or maybe
even a little stand-offish at times. Doesn’t wash here in the
Mediterranean. The barman/owner of a pub is just as likely to hug
you as is the local priest. I was in a post office in the town of
Kefalos, on Kos. They had an old postal franking machine that
businesses used probably 40 years ago when I worked for the State
Electricity Commission (bet none of you remember that!) I went to
look at it and the Post Master was excited that someone bothered to
even acknowledge it was there. So I got a hug. Unheard of in
Australia but I must admit that this idea of not being shy about
being demonstrative is changing me. I think the Italians call it
“Paesano”, but that’s limited to really close friends. I
think the Greek equivalent is “patrioti”, as in “Yasu file,
Patrioti”. I felt comfortable in Greece with my Greek
Great-great-grandfather, and the Greeks I mentioned it to seemed to
take just that little more interest in me when they knew that I was
at least a little bit Greek.
This guy is a music producer on Crete - bought one of his CDs
Greece for us was a mixed bag. I was
at ease in Piraeus with its dirt, graffiti and bustle. I just love
places where people are working and making a living, like Cadiz etc.
Life is tough enough in the Med at the moment, so a bit of grime is
passable for mine. At night, Piraeus comes alive and you can’t see
the dirt. I loved it. I also loved the Tour de Pelopponese that we
did with our friends Kathy, Leonie and Steve. Nothing amazing
happened – it was just a wonderful 10 days of cruising and
friendship and I could do that again any time, same cast, maybe
different location. New casts are welcome in the future if you can
make the time. We were sad when it was over.
Piraeus and the Bay
For the rest of the Aegean, you can
have it. You want to get a four-letter word out of me (and those I
worked with know that’s easy) just say Kythnos to Santorini and
you’ll get a firm “F… that” from me. Wind? I think that’s
where they test 747’s to see if they can take it! After barreling
down the entire chain, all we could do was hit Crete and that was
mostly because it was in the way and it was too late to go around it.
Our Bermuda Triangle storm was bad but seeing 55 knots over the deck
three miles off Agios Nikolaos had me wondering if we were ever going
to make land safely again. Tying up there was probably the greatest
relief of the year. I didn’t know where I was until the next
morning, and we ended up spending about 3 weeks on Crete. Of
anywhere in Greece, this would suit me best of all. It is a rich,
diverse island with enough going on to keep you interested in life.
Rhodes is similar but has far more tourists.
"Prana" - flew past us doing 14.3 knots
From there, it was a little easier,
though we were stuck by weather in a few places. It was no big deal,
though, as they were nice enough to just hang out in anyways. A
friend of ours in Bunbury has family roots in Astipalia and we went
up there on an overnighter and ended up staying more than a week in a
nice bay one east of the old pirate hangout of Maltezana (yep, they
were Maltese pirates). From there, it was Kos, Rhodes and finally
Kastellorizo, where so many Australian Greeks come from. Lots of
them were back there, too, and Australian accents dominated the
The harbour in Kastellorizo
Turkey is wonderful – we were told by
many that we would be amazed at how good it is and they were right.
It is modern, civilised, hard-working and friendly. Where we are is
a great location and the bigger cities are superb places to visit.
Istanbul itself is amazing – our time was mostly on the European
side and we enjoyed it immensely. It was about to snow as we flew
out so we don't actually miss that bit. The walk down Istiklal
street with a million others is a wonder of a weekend. It certainly
is Istanbul's busiest street.
Istiklal Street, Istanbul
What did we learn? This is a lifestyle
that has amazing rewards in the sights you see, the nights at sea,
the people you meet and the time spent together. There is always the
great sadness of cruisers when you have to say goodbye to those who
are special, but you hope to see them again in ports or anchorages
down the track.
Artur, Benoit, Florence, Charlotte and Thibault - on their way to Brazil
So far, we have been to very few places
we thought we would definitely go to, and we have been to dozens of
places we have never heard of before in our lives. We have sailed
into harbours with tricky moorings, then anchored in wide open bays
where the anchor bit first time and we didn’t move for days no
matter what blew.
Common Sense - Astipalia
The boat is holding up well (marvelous
what the application of $$$ can do! – they say there isn’t a
cruising problem that can’t be fixed by throwing money at it). We
are still comfortable in each other’s company, and rely on each
other to do different things around the boat well.
We do miss our home turf but we’ll
keep doing this until our health forces us to slow down. After this,
perhaps a Canal Boat in France, then an RV in the USA. Then we’ll
do the caravan around Australia. Life is too short to sit in front
of the TV. (we gave ours away in Portugal last year).
When we get back from Oz, we think we
can squeeze in a trip to Las Vegas again to see Carol’s mum in Arizona.
Then Carol is off to Africa to visit her sponsored school girl, who
is now almost ready to finish school. I have no interest in that
entire blighted continent, apart from the Mediterranean bit in the
West, so I’m not going. I’ll just hang around Istanbul perhaps
or go over up into Romania for a little look.
Common Sense-wise, next year we will be
headed up the coast of Turkey to the Dardanelles
From there, we haven’t decided.
Probably the northern Aegean, then down past Athens again and around
the Peloponnese, and up to Italy where we are hoping to spend some
time if we can organise student visas and enroll in a language
I can’t see us getting out of the Med
for a couple of years yet. It just grabs you and doesn’t let go.
We are now the proud holders of Turkish Residency Permits for the next twelve months, which will enable us to take our time exploring this amazing country. If our recent trips to Cappadocia and Istanbul are any indication, it should be quite an adventure.
Cappadocia lies on a high plateau in the centre of Turkey, but the landscape makes you feel as though you have somehow landed on an alien planet. Its weird "fairy castles" and "chimneys" look like giant toadstools or conical hats, and some of them look more than a little phallic. But "fairy castles" they are, according to all the tourist literature. The formations are the result of volcanic activity: a thick layer of ash has been compressed into soft white stone, then a layer of lava has become a cap of hard grey basalt. Over time, gullies have formed through erosion, leaving these tower-like structures behind. The landscape is rendered stranger still by human activity over at least three thousand years. Dwellings, churches and storehouses have been hollowed into the rock and underground cities form a warren beneath the earth, some of them nine storeys down. It was fascinating to tour one of these cities: reservoirs, ventilation systems, stables, kitchens and food stores, waste management and places for worship were all carved into the stone, along with great stone disks which were rolled into place to cut off the tunnels, blocking the cities from enemies and trapping them within a section of tunnel, effectively burying them alive.
Balloon rides are a popular way to view the landscape, and these add to the spectacle: on a busy day, you can see a hundred or so multi-coloured balloons rising from the stark white peaks into the vivid blue of the sky. We went on a hike through one of the valleys, with the strange white and pinkish peaks rising on either side, a truly surreal experience.
Photo from Travelife because I forgot my camera!
The town of Konye lies close by, famous as a centre of Dervish worship, and home to the great Dervish poet Mevlana, also known as Rumi. Here we had the opportunity to see a Whirling Dervish devotion, a strange ceremony and not at all what I had imagined. It is definitely not a dance of rapture or celebration, but a sombre and intense analogy of death. The tall hat represents the tombstone and the white clothing, the shroud. The whirling and gradual raising of the arms signifies the soul leaving the body. The whole performance is a memento mori. Accompanied by rhythmic traditional drum and lute, the performance is mesmerising.
2013 is winding to a close. Next week we will head home via Istanbul.
Legend has it that Antalya was founded when Attalos II of
Pergamum sent his servants off in all directions to find a ‘Paradise on earth’.
The city’s setting, amongst the pine forests in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains,
overlooking a wide, sweeping bay, is indeed beautiful. The view changes at
different times of the day, with the Mediterranean vivid blue or glittering
silver, and the backdrop of mountains in receding ranks of blue, grey and
purple. In some places, waterfalls cascade over cliffs into the sea below.
Antalya today is a
prosperous city of about a million people, built up around the old city centre
of Kaleici, a typical walled town with winding cobbled streets and restored
Ottoman houses. Most of the houses have a bay window projecting from the upper
storey and a courtyard garden full of olive and citrus trees at the back. We
stayed in one which has been converted into a pension – they are full of
character and the bay window is perfect for checking out the passing parade in
the streets below. The only remaining gate into the old town is Hadrian’s Gate,
built in honour of the Emperor’s visit in 130AD, so we got to walk in his
footsteps as we have done those of Julius Caesar, Octavian, Alexander,
Archimedes, Hippocrates … and countless others! The ancient port is now a
harbour for fishing boats and tourist gulets. There is no space for cruising
yachts, but a new marina is under construction a few miles further around the
You’d think we’d have had enough of archaeological museums
by now, but the one in Antalya is a must see. It has the usual Mediterranean
layers of history and prehistory, but the highlight here is the “Room of the
Gods”, a collection of fine marble statues of classical gods and emperors taken
from the theatre at Perge. It is an exceptional display, with each piece
skillfully highlighted in the darkened room. Pride of place in the museum is a
marble known as The Weary Hercules, whose bottom half was discovered by
archaeologist Jale Inan at Perge, then matched to his top half discovered in a
fine arts museum in Boston. Negotiations ensued, but as you can see, it was a
bit difficult to argue that the pieces did not belong together – and the Turks
argued that they belonged together in Antalya, close to where they originated.
Next day, appropriately enough, we journeyed out to the
ruins of Perge, about 17k out of town and easily reached on the marvelous Turkish
bus system. Perge was a Roman city which became prominent after the Trojan War
(1275 BC), though earlier relics have been found. The theatre from which most
of the marbles were excavated was closed off, but you could still get a pretty
good look at the three tiered stage, where, according to the reconstruction at
the museum, the marble gods were displayed. The University of Istanbul is still
working on the extensive site – you can’t help wondering what treasures might
lie beneath your feet as you walk the streets of the ancient city.
After a long day of walking, a visit to the
Turkish Baths was in order, so we headed down to the historic hammam a block
from our pension for a scrub down and massage - the works for about $20 each.
Terry was expecting the full Turkish wrestler treatment in the blokes’ section,
but it turned out to be quite gentle. Afterwards we found a great fish
restaurant (Chef’s) where we had a plate of fried anchovies, a plate of sardines
and a plate of calamari for TL31. You get a basic salad, dip, water and
pita bread free. So for $A16, we had dinner in a good quality restaurant
on “restaurant alley” in Antalya. That’s $A8 each. It was so good we went
back the next night and had exactly the same. Beers are a little more expensive
though in Turkey so they added $A2.50 each to the bill.
On our third day we thought we were old hands
at the bus system, so we attempted to make our way to a local beauty spot
called Duden Falls. Tip: it is much better to get a bus to the central Otogar
and then find one to your destination than to try to connect up the various
suburban routes. Apparently no-one in Turkey understands the mysteries of
suburban bus routes, but they are all too polite to tell you they can’t help
you, and will direct you very helpfully all over town. Two hours later we did
reach Duden – an extraordinary watery paradise in the middle of a featureless
outer suburb of Antalya. Freezing cold crystal clear water tumbles in torrents
down from the mountains; there are ancient fern-covered trees and caves where
you can actually wander in behind the falls to view the scenery through a
curtain of water. The park was full of Turkish families and young couples
relaxing in this cool, green, secret paradise.
Home to Finike, but not for long. Next up was
a day trip by bus to Arykanda, around 27k from here, at the foot of Falcon
Mountain. Now this was a revelation! No tour buses or souvenir shops – in fact,
no-one but us, arriving near the town of Arif Koyu where a few villagers have set up
a street market at the bus stop where the track up to the ruins begins. But what
a site it is! You hike up the hill (stopping to pay 5TL at a booth if there’s
anyone there – if there’s not, you’ll meet the guy somewhere in the park) and
discover the remains of an extensive Roman/Lycian town, built on five terraces
against the vast cliff face of the mountain. It is in better condition than any
of the other sites we’ve visited, and the different buildings are clearly
identifiable. There are even some mosaic floors still intact.
Apparently Arykanda was never admitted to full
voting rights in the Lycian League as it had the reputation of a profligate
party town, always in debt. The ruins support the story: there are three
theatres (for drama, poetry readings and music), a stadium, a large commercial
agora for shopping, and a substantial wine press – clearly a town devoted to
pleasure! The setting is amazing: sitting in the large theatre, you have a view
out over the whole valley and the surrounding mountains. Pine and cedar trees
shade the remains of the town and thyme and mint grow up between the paving
stones. Terracotta shards are everywhere – you pick up a fragment and imagine a
potter turning a clay vessel, a woman filling it with oil – two thousand years
We had this entire site all to ourselves, and
wandered freely around, imagining the lives of the people who lived there in
the second century BC.
On the way back down the track we stopped in
at the Arykanda Pension and Restaurant for a delicious lunch of grilled lamb
and their specialty – fresh trout from ponds built into the mountain streams. A
nice grilled trout sets you back 10TL – that’s about $A5 – and of course there’s
free pita, dips and water thrown in. You sit sipping your Efes beer looking out
over an awesome view of forested mountains and valleys full of orange groves,
with the ruins behind you and the sound of streams cascading and birds
everywhere. Then, just as you think it can’t get any better, a herd of
beautiful little deer comes racing down the mountainside and the restaurant
owner hands you some binoculars to check them out. We hung out in the market
for a while waiting for the bus, and got to sample some of the mountain water
that seems to gush from every tap, pipe and hole in the rock around here.
Don’t miss Arykanda if you ever happen to be
in this part of the world.
Next week we’re off to a town called Kemer to
obtain our Turkish Residency permits – about $200 gets you a “blue book” which
gives you a Turkish Tax File number so you can get into doctors and hospitals
cheaply, plus you can come and go through the airports like a Turk can.
We’re probably going to go for a year’s permit. We’re off to Cappadocia for a
4-day trip with others from the marina on the 21st, then it’s home
again on December 9th – can’t wait to seeyou all!
Finike itself is an unremarkable town in the tourist sense. It has
been settled for thousands of years and is named after its founders, the
Phoenicians. The land-use policy in force favours agriculture, not
development and there are no tourist attractions in the town itself. Many
older people retire here for the peace and quiet! It has good facilities
and a very friendly population.Saturday’s market is excellent. It’s good to be settled in a ‘real’
working town rather than a tourist development – everything we need is nearby,
and it won’t close down in the winter.
These guys sell cheese, yoghurt and fresh butter. The yoghurt is thicker and richer than anything we've ever had. It is a great dessert drizzled with lots of local honey and walnuts (they're in season so there are massive amounts of them in the market for very little money)
They also sell a great range of olives, olive pastes and oil.
Our Saturday treat is to buy a filled pancake from these ladies. I like the spinach and cheese stuffed ones, Terry likes the potato and chilli ones. $1.25 for one this size. We just sit down on tiny toy chairs alongside and eat them.
This is where we get our dried fruits and nuts. He also sells Turkish confectionary, including Turkish Delight and multi-coloured jubes.
The surrounding areas do contain places of great interest, though, asLycia's capital city was located a few
miles from here. This was Limyra, and is closest to Finike.Farther inland was Arycanda.Apparently it was a bit of a pariah in Lycian
times and only had one vote in the Lycian system, while more responsible towns
had 3 votes (An Electoral College system,adopted by the USA!) The reason for this was that it was known as
a Party Town and was forever in debt, not taking life as seriously as other
Further west by some 30km is the much larger town of Demre, which is famous
for having St Nicholas as its Bishop for many years. We visited his
church, remarkably well kept and being tended to by the Turkish Antiquities
departments. It is a simple, austere building – quite a contrast with the
elaborate festival that ‘Christmas’ has become. A shopkeeper in Antalya pointed
out to me the irony that all of the Christmas traditions – St Nick, presents,
cypress pines, snow – are Turkish, but none of it is celebrated in Muslim
Turkey. St Nicholas is the patron saint of both Greece and Russia and a great
number of Russian faithful make a pilgrimage here. There was a large
group visiting when we were there and they certainly take their devotion to St
Nicholas very seriously, young and old alike, with much kneeling, crossing and
prostrating in each part of the church itself.The church contains his tomb but not his remains, as these were stolen
by the Italians several hundred years ago.
The marina is one of the best we have been in and is filling up rapidly with
wintering cruisers. We are looking forward to a full social program over
the coming cold months like yoga classes, Turkish language classes, computer
classes, organised trips to other parts of Turkey and weekend BBQs.Had the first quiz night of the season on Thursday
night and partnered up with our new friends from Queensland, Gary and Louise on
Takamoana, a Fontaine Pajot
cat.We won by ½ a point, a fine team
effort!42 of us went off in two buses
to Antalya on Friday night for a performance of the Antalya Symphony
Orchestra.It was a superb night out and a wonderful performance. Antalya is about 100km away so we were very late back, well past Cruisers’ Midnight, which is 9pm.
Our friends Hugh and Linda from the East Coast of the USA on Wild Goose arrived a few days ago and
are only a few feet away on the opposite side of the pontoon. They’ve headed off
to explore Cappadocia – a trip we’ll take in a couple of weeks.
There is still plenty of good sailing weather ahead, and once the more
urgent matters are seen to, we can use the marina as a base for some short
trips along this lovely coast. We went out into the Bay last Sunday with
our friends from Malta (they’re actually from Sydney) the Richardsons, Sean,
Carol and the twins Elliott and Daniel.We just went “around” and anchored over the other side for lunch before
heading back. They were great company, both on our little cruise and back in
Malta, where they treated us to a great home cooked Maltese meal. We wish them
all the best for the rest of their stay in Turkey and their final return to
There were light winds, so we did some sailing and some motoring.Getting in and out of your slip is easy here
as the marina staff offer excellent assistance in picking up the mooring lines
to help you dock. One guy even gets out of the dinghy with the forward
line in his hand and gets on your bow to secure the front while the other guy
heads to the dock to take your stern lines. Best system we have ever come
across and very experienced Marinaras (don't know what the Turkish word is).
And our bow thruster is now working properly again.
The plan is to head home in early December for about seven weeks, and we are
also thinking about a visit to the US to catch up with my mum.
PS I keep forgetting to document the amusing signs and brand names seen
along the way. Here are a couple of favourites for the record: Kastrati petrol in Albania; Morfat cake mixes in Greece; Arcelikelectronics in Turkey.
Our first landfall in Turkey was in Kekova Roads, a large
lagoon protected by an offshore island. As we motored past the gulets moored in the harbour to anchor
in the eastern end of the lagoon, we were amazed to see dozens of large stone
sarcophagi nestled amongst the craggy hillsides. These are the remnants of the
Lycian civilization, which reached its height about 3000 years ago. The Lycians
were apparently renowned as fine sailors and fierce warriors, fighting to the
last man and destroying their own cities rather than surrendering. When finally
subdued by the Romans, Lycia was respected as an independent state. It seems to
have been a particularly well managed state, with a matriarchal social
structure and a functioning democracy - several of the USA's founding fathers referred to Lycia when drafting the Constitution and setting up the Republic. It is fascinating to imagine what life
might have been like for the people whose tombs now line this haunted
coastline. There is a famous walking trail, the Lycian Way, from Fethiye to
Antalya, part of which we are planning to walk during our winter here. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycian_Way
Along with the tombs, there is a Crusader castle , a harbour full of yachts, Turkish gulets
and fishing boats, a line of good restaurants around the bay with a traditional
village nested in behind them and a vast backdrop of rugged mountains. When we
were there the conditions were perfect – calm and sheltered with good holding
and a gentle breeze to cool things down in the afternoons. Great for swimming
or taking the kayak along the shoreline to watch the sea turtles and vivid
azure kingfishers in the early morning light.
On the first evening we made a point of visiting Ibrahim’s
Restaurant, recommended to us by a French cruiser who had visited Kekova 35
years before when the restaurant was run by Ibrahim senior . The food and the
views over the harbour were still fine. The village here has a few tourist
stalls, but a street back from the water it is very simple and traditional,
with the people tending their gardens, goats and chickens and elderly folk
sitting watching the world go by.
The trek up to the top of the castle was interesting, the
path winding up through a small village of strategically placed cafes and
stalls, and spectacular views from the walls of the whole island and the surrounding
coastline – strategic also for the knights defending it, of course. From up
here, the whole burial complex was visible, with stone sarcophagi dotting the
hillsides amongst gnarled old olive trees and even in the water, where the sea
had reclaimed parts of the ancient landscape.
Well, after a few days it was time to head for our winter
haven in Finike. Common Sense is
looking a bit shabby, algae and salt-encrusted and in need of repairs to her
bow-thruster, VHF radio and a replacement anchor chain for dealing with the
very deep, steep-to anchorages typical of these parts. Our Hydrovane was damaged on the island of Kythnos and needed straightening and there are a hundred-and-one other things to get to after the year's cruising. Our Google Earth track tells us that we've done 1,734 Nautical Miles this year since leaving Monastir, Tunisia.