Posted: 27 June 2011.
Hosgeldiniz (this means welcome and I know this because it says it on the new, expensive – 7.50 Turkish Lira – mat we bought for the boat). I did make sure of the meaning of the word to ensure it did not say sod off or something equally as unwelcoming.
Well this newsletter finds us having covered a lot of miles, one way or another, but not actually getting too far. We are now anchored in the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara. Having made the momentous decision that we are not going to go to the Black Sea (unconvincing reports from people who had sailed there and the fact that our insurance company was going to charge us more for going there), we decided to bite the bullet and go to Greece, pay the fine we incurred last year if required to do so, so that we could do more of the Greek mainland and islands we missed last year. Rather than take the boat over, we caught the ferry from Ayvalik. That was a bit of adventure in itself. Up at sparrows fart (5.40am) to ensure we caught the bus in on time to be at the ferry one hour before departure, as we were told to do by the chap who sold us the tickets. , we disembarked from the bus in town, despite being told by other yachties that the bus went right to the ferry terminal. Our bus driver said no, we had to get out in town so off we trudged, at a smart pace, anxious that we should not be late and after about 500 metres, there is a toot and here is our bus, the one we were told we must get off, stopping to pick us up to take us the rest of the way to the ferry. That was nice, we arrived in good time (7.30ish) to catch the ferry that was supposed to leave at 9am. It was rather strange we thought, that we seemed to be the only people going to Lesvos that day as we were the only suckers there at sparrows fart. By 8.30am, and us still on our lonely vigil, Bruce spied the shipping office over the road and went and asked about our ticket, which it transpired had been written out for the incorrect time and should be 11am, not 9am. More waiting until 11am neared and the ferry from Lesvos arrived and disgorged loads of people from said island that needed to be checked through all the formalities. Mean time we were no longer on our lonesome and there were many travellers waiting to take the ferry to Lesvos with us. To cut a long story short the 11am ferry finally left dock at 12.15 but that was the beginning of our Greek adventure.
When we arrived and filed through passport control, it was immediately obvious we were not going to go through unimpeded. We were taken away to another office where they explained that we had to pay our fine for overstaying last year, before entering or we would be put on the ferry returning to Ayvalik. We said we knew that and we were going to pay and they somewhat astounded said “You are going to pay 2,400 Euros?’ – yes, so they got our certain forms and Bruce got out our credit card and hey, wouldn’t you know it – government departments did not have EFTPOS. We did not have the cash on us so after yet more form filling and us signing, we were escorted (by 2 pistol toting port police) back on to the ferry and sent on our merry way, back to Turkey. The one good thing out of this, was that we got our visa renewed for Turkey so we can be here for 90 days more. We will clear out of Istanbul when we have our new crew on board, and clear in to Limnos with our bags full of filthy lucre to pay the Greek officials.
So having completed our mission at Ayvalik it was up and off heading towards the island of Bozcaada just south of the Dardenelles then on up the Dardenelles into the Sea of Marmara. The first leg to the
island of Bozcaada was completed over 2 days and the 2nd day saw us sailing hard on the wind in 20 – 25 knots (what ever happened to the promised early season southerlies) reefed down and in quite a boisterous sea. However much as it had a year earlier when we made a similar passage only to Limnos in Greece that time the wind slowly shifted which made our passage more comfortable and less tacks than first thought would be required. In fact all the way north despite having to sail to windward we have found that you can usually take advantage of the way the wind bends around the coast in these parts.
Our next fruitless adventure happened when we went to the lovely island of Bozcaada. We caught the ferry across to the mainland and we were going to catch the bus to Troy (on enquiring at the ticket office about buying tickets we were told “on the ferry”. So we board the ferry and then after it left the dock we were approached by a guy we took to be selling the ferry tickets. But no he wanted to sell us tickets to Istanbul! Damn have we boarded the wrong ferry but no it turned out that he was selling bus tickets to Istanbul). With our severe lack of Turkish and the various bus drivers’ limited English, we were finally directed to a small bus that would take us to Troy. Off we tootled but were somewhat alarmed when the bus seemed to be going in a completely different direction to where we thought Troy was. When Bruce asked the bus driver, he assured us that we were going to Troy. After about 30 minutes driving, we saw the signpost for Troy and the bus driver stopped and told us to get off and pointed down a side road where we could see a sign ‘Troy – 5kms’. Well folks it was rather warm and I know Dr Nigel would be very pleased for me particularly to be trudging along a country road for 5kms, that indeed did not look too frequently travelled, but sorry Dr Nigel, we only went about half a kilometre and decided to give up. We went back to the main road and waited for about an hour and after many buses whizzing by us, a couple finally stopped but were not going our way and I was secretly panicking, but lo and behold, a little bus turned up and stopped and took us back in time to catch the next ferry back to Bozcaada. We were not too disappointed to not have seen Troy. Bozcaada was a very pretty little island and we were very happy to spend a few days there, looking at yet another castle and sampling the delights of the town and we got to see the full lunar eclipse as well. Didn’t really know what was happening, thought we had just had too many wines (sorry Doc) but on reading the news on the Internet the next day, we were relieved to see it was a natural phenomenon not the workings of a drink fuddled brain
Next we started venturing up the Dardenelles. Another couple we know said they had sailed most of the way but there was no way we could have done this. With up to four knots current against us at times and winds of 15 – 18knots from the NE (dead ahead as well), it was hammers down and avoid the shipping lanes that constantly had ships going both ways and we made it to Cannakale on the first day. We were at times struggling to make 3knots across the ground. We were a bit pooped but did go ashore for a little look around and there before us was the wooden horse that they had used for the film ‘Troy’ that Brad Pitt has starred in so at least we got to see a bit of Troy. Not a quiet anchorage there as we seemed to park ourselves in front of a mosque and a restaurant where, glory be, they had the Turkish version of John Rowles performing – very loudly and to our Kiwi ears – very badly. So after the last call to prayer and 10.40 pm, John ‘Mehmet’ Rowles, kept on warbling until after midnight! (I can’t say it bothered me at all, slept very peacefully). It was anchor up at 6.15 the next morning and motoring on North to exit the Dardenelles 25nm away. It was quite magical in the early morning with a bit of mist hanging around and ships gliding silently by. Just before clearing the Dardenelles we passed the town of Gelibolu (Gallipoli), which we will visit on our way back out. Once clear we then headed for the island of Absa Adasi which was still some 35nm away and no wind so it was motor just about all the way although we did manage about 1 hr under sail in which we went nowhere. From there we carried on to Pasalimani Adasi where we anchored off a little village called Baliki where a dinghy load of young boys visited us. They had minimal English (where are you from, what is your name) but were delighted with the NZ flags we gave them.
Next we went to the town of Erdek on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara on the Kapidag Peninsular where we picked up Joanne and David who had arrived from Sydney via Lanzarote, Grenada and Barcelona. Earlier in the day whilst anchored off a beach to the west Bruce found mussels! Black mussels just growing everywhere over the bottom and a reasonable size. Nice as it was to finally find some sea food they don’t have the flavour of the green lip mussels from home. It is so nice to have company again. Not a lot of swimming happening at the moment as there are jelly fish in the water, the water is quite discoloured and also lots of weed at times. This does not seem to worry the locals, so they can’t be stingers but it is a bit off-putting when you see them in the water. Joanne bravely went for a swim to shore yesterday though. Rather her than me. We were at the island of Marmara and it is made up of marble, granite and slate. We were anchored off the small town of Saraylar and we could see open cast type mining taking place up the hill. When we walked into town, the streets were lined with modern marble statues. We spoke to a local man and from what we could make out, 100 statues had been done by various international sculptors, in conjunction with Istanbul University (or at least, we think that is what he said). The breakwaters are made with huge slabs of granite and I managed to find a good piece to have on board to use to put hot things on. Moved to another anchorage and both Joanne and I managed to find interesting pieces of marble to take home (much to our husbands’ disgust). I have added a page at the end with all the photos. The last statue is for you Melissa.
Also have to add at this stage that everywhere you go around Turkey, you find these exercise areas set up. No OSH requirements –all the equipment is outside and free for anyone to use and Dr Nigel will be pleased to know that we at least stood on them!
We then set off heading north again and ultimately to Istanbul. Tekirdag on the northwestern side of the Sea of Marmara was our destination. We headed off with 25knot Northerlies reefed down and looking forward to a good few hours of sailing. No Bruce, this is the Sea of Marmara! On clearing the island of Marmara the wind disappeared and we ended up motoring. It did eventually fill back in from the WSW so did have a couple of hours of nice eased sheets sailing and spent the night anchored in behind a breakwater to what looked like a half built harbour. It did provide a very comfortable night though. They make what is supposed to be a very good raki here which we did not purchase on this occasion but have imbibed in the past. Big market looked like it was setting up and Joanne did manage to buy a pair of very stylish sunglasses for the grand sum of 5 Turkish Lira, but we did not stay to see what bargains might unfold. The next day we set off and shock, horror, we got the spinnaker up! Well folks, when Bruce says we are going to put the spinnaker up, I groan, whinge and moan Whenever we have put the spinnaker up on our own in the past, it seems to take forever, takes such an effort with a lot of swearing on the Captain’s part, and then the wind either shifts, dies or gets too strong and we have to pull the damn thing down. Well on this occasion, yes Bruce and the trusty Aussie crew got the spinnaker up with some huffing and puffing and scratching of Bruce’s head, as it has been a while, and we hit 5 knots in about 5 knots of breeze and sailed merrily for about 5 seconds and then, surprise, surprise, the wind died and we had to put our lovely spinnaker away. Admittedly the wind filled in later and we did get a lovely sail (sans spinnaker) and ended up anchored at Buyukcekmece (about 20nm west of Istanbul) in front of some flash apartments with gondola type lifts going from swimming pools up to them. We then had thunder and lightning with a bit of rain to clean the boat.
We are now at the Princes Islands, about 3 miles from Istanbul. We went for a walk yesterday around the island of Heybeliada and I spotted a few renovation projects (it has been a while since I have been able to look at House and Garden magazines). Rain again this morning – not what we paid for but at least it keeps Bruce happy with clean decks. It is amazing to be here and look across at the mainland to the expanse of Istanbul. No photos or words could do it justice. It is IMMENSE. So that’s us up to date folks. Our next adventure will be to get to Atakoy Marina, about 15nm from here where we pick up the Camerons and Macphersons. We are booked in for 2 or 3 days at the exorbitant rate of 126 euros a night! Just as well we will have some NZ farmers to help pay that bill! We will then have a couple of days to scratch the surface of Istanbul before reversing our journey back through the Dardenelles. I am looking forward to doing it with the wind and current behind us!
Well that is about all for now folks. Life continues to be pretty wonderful here so hope all is well with you as well.
Bye for now from the Tebbutt’s in Turkey (not to be confused with the Tebbutt Turkeys!).