Sunday, October 19, 2008

Marmaris, Turkey

Just a quickie,
We've arrived at Marmaris, Turkey and managed to check-in despite it
being Friday night and Saturday morning. We were sent all over the place
by well meaning people, and have been rubber stamped by health
department (no death or contagious disease on board), immigration for
visa (€15 each), port police, customs, harbour master (€10). The first
stage is to buy the transit log from the Chamber of Shipping (€50). This
has just moved from the town shopping mall to the cruise port (where
customs and port police are based). Staff in the marina, liveaboards and
the harbour master all sent us to the wrong place!!
It was weird that we were free to wander around town on Friday night,
technically without a visa or passport stamp, as they were all closed.
Everyone is very relaxed about the formalities. Turkish people
everywhere are helpful polite and chatty, with a genuine interest in who
you are and where you are from. There's a fair amount of hussle on the
seafront to compete for restaurant and carpet business, but not
menacing, just funny and time-consuming as you have to chat to every
restaurant owner.
Netsel marina is being very well run by Charlie, the previous manager of
Finike, where we are headed. So that bodes well for us later. He is
really encouraging a liveaboard community, or family as he calls it, in
the marina. For convenience, price and access to the town, theres no
comparison with Marmaris Yat Marine 8km out of town, with just the one
restaurant to choose from. We went along to the end of season liveaboard
BBQ and met a few people who are spending the winter in Netsel.
The weather is really warm (27 degrees) sunny and no wind. Anchored out
in the bay off the 'sunset strip' of nightclubs we thought we might not
get much sleep, but it all closed down by 1am which isn't bad for a
Saturday night.
Off tomorrow to visit another nice anchorage on the way east.
Steph and Stu xx

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Symi and Rhodes

Not much to say we motored all the way to Symi and stopped overnight in
a quiet anchorage on the southern end of Symi. The monastery that
dominates the bay thoughtfully stopped donging it's bells at about 10pm,
unlike Scario last year, when they went every 15 minutes all through the
It looks like stunning scenery to explore, but we have to leave it to
next year as we wanted to truck along closer to Turkey in case the
weather slows us down.
At the moment we are enjoying the start of this regions 'Indian Summer',
30 degrees in the sun, but chilly enough for socks as soon as the sun
goes down around 6.30pm.
Today we are in Rhodes town, in the harbour. We walked for hours around
the old town, admiring the fortifications of the Knights of St John of
We filled up with diesel and for half an hour had to listen to the
diesel man's propoganda for why we shouldn't go to Turkey and why
Greece, particularly Rhodes, is a much better place - despite the fact
that he admitted that the marina is still under construction in true
Greek fashion, with no end in sight. According to him no-one goes to
Turkey anymore because it is so expensive, and their tourist numbers
have plummeted. Whereas, he said, Rhodes had 6 million visitors this
year. On questioning, he admitted that it had 11 million last year, but
he thought this was to do with the elections !!! Bless him....... He
said Turkey has no history, or culture, or castles, or churches, and the
diesel is dirty and full of water, so what a good thing we were filling
up here. If only they could finish the marina, we could stay !!
The buildings in Rhodes town are splendidly restored by the Italians
during their occupation. The remnants of Turkish occupation, including
the fantastic original mosque, are unfortunately struggling to find the
cash to start renovation. No doubt all those applications for EU funding
go astray in the Greek post!

Port police and passport control willing, we are due to check out of the
EU tomorrow and will be on route to Turkey. Turkish lessons have started
on board. Drastic measures are needed to make the strange words stick you can see in the photo.....
We'll be less communicative for up to a couple of weeks as we get out of
range of the Greek phone system, and establish ourselves in the Turkish
The international phone ( the 00 ) will still work if you need
to call.
Love to all
Steph and Stu xx

Kos and Nisyros

Well here we are motoring again but now along the Turkish coast toward
Simi, (Greece). We had a few more days in Kos, Kos of the weather! We
had our night in the marina but it was about to explode with 50 more
charter boats so we went to the town quay, also administered by Kos
Marina. Lower charges but less facilities and just as friendly. Still
tucked up into the corner we felt no effect of the blow from the north
and enjoyed our 3 night stay. The first morning we were awoken by a
graunching sound at about 8:30am. We recognised it immediately as a
crossed anchor with our neighbour, who was leaving. He seemed to have
dropped it about 2 boats to windward. Once it was untangled which took
him some time he kindly dropped it again three boats to leeward which
meant it got caught on another mooring and we then had to untie and
relay. Such is life on crowded quay walls. Just after settling we got a
thoroughly nice new neighbor. A Turkish 55 foot Gulet, with Captain
Hicko and his wife, Belkin. They were lovely and offered to take us in
their hire car to the hot springs and then delivered us on another
evening to their favourite restaurant in the ethnic Turkish village of
Platani a few kilometers out of town. We were looked after very well by
his old friend Serif and family, (Serif is the name of the restaurant)
and the food was exceptional. An English couple, Trevor and Amanda, gave
us a lift back to the town late that night, despite being well out of
their way. It seems the Turkish friendliness we heard of from everyone
is infectious, and the local Greek islands seem to benefit from it as
well. It gives us a good feeling about our decision to winter in Turkey.
Hicko gave us tips on good wine and an insight into Turkish culture. Our
decision to stay a few days in Kos was assisted by the need to stock up
before leaving the EU. Both fuel, alcohol and 'Piggy' (Greek make of
vaccum-packed bacon) will be more expensive in Turkey. Kos proved a good
stop. Rhodes will be bigger, but Kos is small enough to get around and
research on the bikes and the main supply shops are easy to get
to,although some are a little way out of town. LIDL featured as number
one on the hit-list for beer and spirits (some on order from friends in
Turkey). Unfortunately they didn't have enough beer for my liking so we
went back down the road to Carrefour where they matched price for beer
and had more stock. We piled it into a taxi and got back for €10. Wine
came from "B" supermarket (pronounced something like Vasileithis), an
independent local chain who have a wholesale division supplying
restaurants. Not posh wine but it won the taste test of the evenings
before and they delivered all 140 liters in less than an hour for free.
We added 3 kg of 'Piggy' to the order at very reasonable prices. Total
stores taken on weigh about a quarter of a ton but they have been stowed
away in all the corners and we are barely aware of their existence.
(To those who follow- if you want to stock up here and need
directions,email us )

Except for fuel we are ready to leave Greece but there are yet more
islands to explore before then.

We left Kos and headed for the 17 mile sail to the volcano island of
Nisyros. On route we stopped and anchored off the natural hot spring on
the east coast. In settled weather you can anchor in 4 to 5m on sand and
rock about 50 m off the beach (36 deg 50.6 N 27 deg 19.1 E - but don't
blame me if you go aground using those co-ordinates without looking
where you're going!) A quick swim into the beach is rewarded by
simmering in the sulphurous brine inside the rough stone wall, where you
can suit yourself how hot you like it by moving toward or away from the
hot source spring flowing across the gravelly beach.Once we were part
boiled a plunge into the sea and a swim back to the boat soon wakens you

Nisyros the volcano stands about 550m high so when we got the bikes out
we knew it would be hard going. The road to the edge of the caldera
winds up at a punishing gradient for about 5 km to the nearly deserted
village of Emborios. We visited the natural sauna just under the village
but after a 5k climb in 30 degrees we didn't feel the need to partake.
From the edge of the caldera it's a 7 minute free ride downhill into
the crater. It was difficult to determine if the heat at the bottom was
from the boiling and steaming ground or the brake disks on the bicycle
but the sulphurous smell does give it away. Its quite a spectacle, both
from above, and when you walk across the crater floor to the sound of
hollow echoes, hissing steam and bubbling from underfoot. We were lucky
that the 2 tourist coaches had just left, so we had the whole crater to
ourselves, though we were careful not to tread where there were no other
footsteps! Don't forget to wear some shoes, you won't get far without
them without having sizzled feet. After a well earned drink at the snack
bar it was up the dirt road which ascends the opposite caldera wall. It
was a grueling and hot climb for about an hour but once over the ridge a
20 minute non-stop full-on dirt road downhill, exhilarating! No sleeping
policemen to slow you down although a dozy goat may have the same
effect. Even Steph (more conservative than me) managed to overtake 3
motorbikes and a car on the way down.
We came across the 'paleokastro', a castle from the 7C BC with well
preserved polygonal walls - massive shaped bolders that interlock with
each other making them very resistant to attack and earthquake-proof.
The fact that you can wander around this castle and clamber up the
massive staircase to the ramparts
any time of day or night, with unrestricted access, is one of the great
things about Greece now. In 5 years time the EU money will have been
spent on admission kiosks, handrails and special lighting effects.
You'll be paying twice over! After the castle, just a 5 km mainly flat
road back to the start for a well earned beer. Total cycle about 30
kilometers along and nearly as many vertical ones.

So today we are off east again. Force 5 north-west wind forecast, but
alas, 3 knots from north, south, east, and west with odd little
thunderstorms. The iron sails are doing the work once again but in abut
6 hours we will be on Simi. Perhaps we will get the bikes out?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Leros and Kos

We returned to south Leros on hearing the news that friends, Andy and Carla and their two blond cherubs, Mia and Ellie (6 and 4 ish ) on No Limits, were in town. We last saw them two years ago, but have kept in touch ever since. They are a lovely family of long-term liveaboards and have a gorgeous boat, testament to Andy's skill as a master craftsman. After spending 2 days with them catching up, and comparing teak deck improvements, it was time for both boats to move on. Such is the life of wandering cruisers, that we part company never really knowing when our paths with cross again. Last year we missed them by 1 day, as we were both committed to picking up visitors.

We can't comment much on Leros as we only went ashore at Xerocambos on the south of the island, and the only shop in the village was closed, most of the village asleep. We shared what we had between the two yachts and a good time was had by all.

Now we are in Kos, in the marina, enjoying the luxury of all inclusive water, electric and wifi. Clean showers and exquisite facilities, and lovely helpful Greek staff who are as accomodating as possible, but might have to turf us out into the wind and sea tomorrow as they have 50 charter yachts coming and have no space for the likes of us.

Before we're evicted, we are trying to stock up on beer, wine and pork products before we hit Turkey....... our advance guard inform us that the Turkish government have decided to heavily tax alcohol to discourage the faithful from going astray!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Patmos, Island of Revelations

As usual the forecast was full of wishful thinking SW5 and we got....ESE 6 we were intending to visit a small almost uninhabited island of Levitha ESE of Ios. The wind had other ideas, so we headed just slightly north to Leros, the next nearest island with a suitably lit entrance, as our change of plan meant 63 miles instead of 30 and that we would then be arriving after dark.

It was a cracking blast to windward, but arriving at the base of 2 large cliffs with breaking seas at the dark entrance with no moonlight was a bit hair-raising as it is difficult to judge distance even with GPS and radar. Matters were made worse by a large military patrol boat, which decided to hang around the narrow entrance as we tried to navigate through. He moved so slow that ultimately we turned and aimed straight at him rather as that seemed preferable to the sound of crashing sea meeting rocks. We got in and anchored without any incidents, but didn't get a rewarding nights sleep as there was a stinky big ferry at 2am, and just as you got off to sleep again, a second ferry at 4am. Its not just the sound of the engines nearby, but its the sound of them dumping hundreds of meters of anchor and chain as they manoevre onto the quay.

Of again the next morning, as the forecast was for southerlies, we decided to go north to Patmos, further away from our winter goal.

We tied on the town quay at Patmos, and joined the throngs from the two cruise ships to climb the beaten cobbled track to the monastery and church of the Apocalypse, both serving to remind us that John the Divine put his head on rock in a cave and heard the story of the end of the world. He dictated these divine words to a disciple and this is the book of Revelations. Still, its a cheerier place than this would suggest, presumably everyone is just enjoying themselves while they still can!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ormos Katapola, Amorgos - The Big Blue

1st October 08
Leaving Ios, we motorsailed in light winds to Amorgos, where most
businesses are called 'The Big Blue' - pensions, hotels, bars, cafes -
all testament to the Luc Besson film 'Le Grand Bleu', filmed around
here. The film was about 1 hour too long for our liking, but did have
spectacular scenery and lots of fit tanned men in small pants as it's
about free-diving.
Our Amorgos experience was less blue and sunny but just as spectacular,
and is one of the islands we would definitely like to come back to. We
took the hour long climb to the 'hora' - this literally means 'the
place' but refers to the main town of an island, often built high on a
hill to avoid the marauding Turks and pirates. This was beautiful in
itself, but we then walked over the back of the hill down and up to the
9th C Horoviotissa monastery glued on a rocky perch halfway up a 500m
cliff. We arrived 5 minutes after closing time, so didn't benefit from
the three remaining monks' hospitality of tea, lemon liqueur and (non)
Turkish Delight.
The view however was to die for, and the walk up to it would nearly
finish some people off, even if they drove to the start of the path.
Above the monastery we found another walking track, and being without a
map or compass, and not wanting to retrace our steps to the hora, we set
off on what we thought might be a 35 minute walk to the saddle of the
hill, followed by a short downhill back to the hora. However, you know
what it's like, the further you go, the more committed you are to that
path, even though you can clearly see a big mountain in the way, and the
path is still going up it, with the monastery disappearing behind us.
Suffice to say 3 hours later we arrived back in the hora, having only
seen 2 other people and lot of goats, who all looked at us like we were
mad. Only another hour downhill back to the boat after that. The total
days walking time was about 6 hours. The thing about Amorgos is that
there is nothing there, no restful little bars or villages or even
houses on the route. Just rocks and goats, and all the better for it.
If you anchor in the bay, watch out for the 3am ferry, who needs most of
the bay to drop his two anchors and back onto the quay. You don't want
to wake up to find him alongside your boat, so anchor as close in to the
beach as you dare. We moved onto the quay for our monthly water fill
and diesel top up. We needed our transit log stamped for the month, so
visited the port police whose office had a balcony right over the quay.
However he had not the slightest interest in taking money from us or
stamping papers. The Turkish charter boat alongside us, however, was
hailed and requested to produce all papers and passports.