Friday, May 22, 2009
It gets worse – an 0400 departure from Kemer, we motored out into the
night in a long line of boats, as the joker boat (RIB) extricated us all
from our berths. We managed about 3 hours of sailing in 13 hours on the
68 mile passage to the new marina at Alanya.
There was a lot of confusion at the entrance as we waited for
instructions to enter. First we were told we would be on lazy lines ( a
line attached to a block and chain at the bottom of the harbour), then
we were told we would need to anchor and tie back, so to have the anchor
ready to deploy. Then we heard that a diver was attaching the lazy lines
as boats were entering, coming up to shout 'No anchor, no anchor!!'
We ended up on the brand new pontoon with a lazy line. The pontoons are
literally being finished around us, the water supply being plumbed as we
tied up, with extension leads for a limited electric supply to some boats.
The showers and toilets have been constructed, but the cubicles are
being installed around us. The water still somewhat cold though for
showering. The chandlery opened as we arrived, you can walk across the
mud and enter through the non-existent doors or windows. They were
unpacking their first deliveries as we arrived. It's as if no-one
believed 65 yachts were coming until they arrived outside the
breakwater. It will be great when it's finished and no doubt Hasan (of
Antalya and Kemer fame) will make it a very popular marina for
liveaboards and sailors throughout the year. It's rumoured that the
tennis courts are already finished. Bizarrely, the flowerbeds are
perfectly manicured among the construction works.
As there's no hot showers or shore electricity supply at our end of the
pontoon, many yachts run their engines or generators for power – from
6am in the morning! Don' they have any batteries???
There was a great cocktail party and dancing at the marina on the first
night. The ladies shared one toilet with a shower curtain across it with
Next day we took the shuttle bus into town about 3 miles away, and we
did a walking treasure hunt. We were very attentive to detail, as the
prizes are a boat haul out and in (worth 500 euros), 2 tins of
antifouling, or a weekend for 2 in a hotel. It was 31 degrees and very
humid so we hope we win. The town is very pleasant, but it is quite
touristy, and full of shops selling T-shirts, scarves, trinkets, and
tourist tat. There is a beautiful old town and castle on the promontory.
The rally dinner and flag ceremony was at another beautiful beach side
location last night, a restaurant called 'Green Beach'.
Today we awoke to a welcome rain, and the temperature has mercifully
dropped to not sweaty. We have a day off today, with a pot luck supper
tonight, where everyone brings a dish to share at the party. Hopefully
the rain will have stopped in time for our trip to North Cyprus tomorrow.
prayer from the town mosques.
We motored 45 miles in next to no wind, knowing that we'd be tied up in
port by the time the local afternoon breeze would start – but that is
the nature of a rally schedule. Grin and bear it.
On arrival at Kemer marina we were pushed and squeezed into Alchemy's
old winter berth, but only got halfway in as there wasn't quite enough
room. We tied up as best we could and can climb over our neighbours boat
to the dock. They really know how to pack a lot of boats into all
available spaces here. It was searingly hot, 31 degrees now, so we are
swimming every day now, even if the water is a little bit chilly.
This evening we had a group meeting to be informed of the schedule for
the next 3 days, and what is expected of us. Then followed by a cocktail
party hosted by the marina, with free drinks for several hours. Lovely
There was little food, so Stu cooked up some pasta later with fresh
herbs that we picked on the walk in Kekova. We both woke up next morning
covered in allergic hives which still persist 4 days later. That will
teach us to try and get free food!
First activity of the day, outdoor games, consisting of skipping
contest, balloon run, egg tossing (uncooked), pass-the-line-and-shackle
through your clothes, and tug-of-war. We were all competing in our
groups, designed as a little team building exercise I imagine. Stu and
John, our group leader won the egg toss, but yellow group lost most of
our other events, so much for the team building!!
John, our 'yellow' leader
That night was our first posh rally dinner at the Turkiz hotel on the
beach front. It was a gorgeous setting – and we had to be in our best
bib and tucker. It's amazing the frocks that people keep on board small
boats! Stu was then given the news that he is the only token kiwi in the
rally this year, so he gets to be a flag officer at every formal event.
This means that we have to carry an enormous kiwi flag and pole on
board, and present it at every function and Stu has to say thanks for
your hospitality on behalf of NZ. He is learning it in Maori to impress.
I think it might be the only Maori he has ever spoken. Each rally dinner
is attended by the sponsors and owners of the marinas, and often the
local mayor or town representative, so these flag ceremonies are taken
Normally the flag is passed from boat to boat of each nationality to
share to burden, but as the token kiwi he gets to keep to honour for the
There are several tours organised at each stop. From Kemer we took a
heavily subsidised trip up the Tahtali cable car, to the top of the snow
capped peak we have been looking at all winter from Finike. Next year,
we aim to walk up it before the snows start – it is 3000m! Anyone want
to join us?
After the cable car we went to Phaselis, an old Lycian town and later
Roman port where ships were built. It was founded in 690BC, and became
an important trading town visited by Alexander the Great in 333BC and
Emporor Hadrian in 129AD. There are impressive remains there today,
though a lot of people had trouble concentrating on what the guide was
telling us for some reason......
Trilingual signs in Turkish, English and Russian demonstrate that the
Kemer area is very popular with rich Russian tourists. One of the rally
boats had their credit card ripped off and cloned (from a high street
bank ATM). By the time they could report is missing in the bank the next
day it was already in Moscow, and had spent 1800 euros.
I've included some pictures here of nearby Olympos, an idyllic and
relatively unexcavated Lycian city with a beach front location, and the
Chimaera, a bizarre and unique phenomenon where a mixture of combustible
gases leak out through holes in the rockside, and ignite on contact with
the air. What the ancients thought of this, one can only imagine. It has
been burning continuously throughout history. When covered and
extinguished it will spontaneously re-ignite again on contact with air.
There are no barriers, you pay your 3 Lira and walk up a track for a
couple of kilometres, and you can sit right in front of the fires, just
like in your living room! Just imagine how many people through the ages
have warmed themselves in this spot, and camped by a natural gas flame.
We visited these sites earlier in the year, but they missed the earlier
Sunday, May 17, 2009
After a manic few weeks of boat preparation, we finally cut the
umbilical cord from the marina and sailed 18 miles to Kekova for a few
days of peace and quiet in this beautiful anchorage.
Ibrahim continues to provide his excellent service to yachties, bringing
fresh bread out to the anchored boats every morning, and free mooring,
water and electricity on his pontoon for those that don't wish to anchor.
There is a government marina currently being built in Kekova, and how
this changes the nature of the place remains to be seen. Let's hope that
they don't decide to ban anchoring to force boats into the paid marina
as has happened in some Greek islands. It would be the end of an era for
this idyllic bay.
The East Med Yacht Rally started in Istanbul, and there are now about 55
boats. They've all just arrived in the anchorage so it is far busier
than normal, but it makes a pretty picture, with all the rally boats
dressed with their flags.
Next stop, back to familiar ground, Finike on 14^th May. Should be
interesting to see how they find space for all these boats. We are in 6
groups, and our yellow group of 11 yachts has to arrive at Finike within
a 45 minute time slot so boats of similar size are all tied up together.
We'll be arriving just at the time of day that the wind really picks up
so it will all be good fun!!
Spring has sprung and we are busy getting Matador ready for this years
adventures. Though to tell the truth we haven't really stopped all
winter with constant boat jobs to do, including fitting a new gearbox
casing, prop shaft to engine coupling and realigning the engine and
propshaft. Various rebuilds of bits of the boat took place, and Stu
refurbished the forward cabin which is now gleaming with shiny varnish
until we covered it all up with the sails, bikes and tools to go
sailing. The boat looked like a chicken shed all winter with everything
on deck under the 'sun' canopy, which mostly kept the rain off.
It has been a short chilly and wet winter, though not cold like England,
lasting longer into spring than normal according to those that have
wintered here before. But now most days are sunny and almost too hot to
sit out in already, interspersed with the odd thunderstorm to remind us
it's not time to leave yet.
We had a couple of weeks holiday, within our holiday, to go to
Cappodocia in the moutains. We hired a car and drove 2000km in 2 weeks.
Here's a quick run though of our inland travels.
Lakeland – Egidir
When we picked up the hire car, we were supplied with homemade bread and
cake and fruit for our travels from the hire company – typical of
Turkish people to worry that we might go hungry!
As we drove north out of Finike towards Elmali, it was like going back
in time. The landscape became more subsidence agriculture and oblivious
to tourists. We passed through Elmali on market day, with its old
Ottoman architecture still in evidence. The streets were a flutter with
flags from all the parties vying for power in the forthcoming local
elections that were due in every town on 22^nd March. The market is
worth a visit on another occasion for its rugs and woven goods at more
normal Turkish prices. We continued on to Egidir on a lake and found a
room above the Big Fish restaurant (60TL). We ate fresh fish from the
lake and retired to a walm, simple and functional room.
Off next day for a very dull drive across the plains towards, around and
from the enormous city of Konya. It's famous for its Whirlish
Derivishes, but we've read that there are better places to see them in
action. The industrial outskirts of the city stretched for many miles in
every direction, and the road continued straight into infinity ahead of
us. We had to be careful not to speed, as in Turkey there are speed
radars and huge automatic fines. After many hours we arrived in the
Cappodocia area and found a room in an outlying village called
Guzelyurt. It is very traditional and there are people living and
farming the cave valley there. It gave us a real insight into the way of
life that used to prevail in the whole area before tourism took over as
the main source of income in the more central parts of Goreme and Ugurp.
It was pretty chilly, with snow still lying by the side of the road. We
stayed in ...pension which was the only place open in town (60TL). We
ate at the family table as recommended in the Rough Guide, but we found
it a tad overpriced and not so welcoming. Normally Turkish people ask a
lot of questions and are very inquisitive about your life, but it seemed
like this family had met too many tourists already, and were going
through the motions. In other words they had Rough Guiditis, a common
enough complaint among businesses that get a mention therein.
In the small, but unchanged underground city of Guzelyurt we found
fascinating passageways, and vertical drop holes with foot and hand
holds still in place. With torches and a bit of adrenaline we explored
some of these places where the inhabitants of the town would have hidden
away during Arab raids in the early years of Christianity.
The following day we drive through the heart of Cappodocia taking
millions of photos of the strange landscape shaped by volcanic rock
being weathered to differing degrees by wind and rain.
We visited the underground city of Derinkuyu. It was only impressive for
its extent and the size of the admission fee (15TL). It is well lit, the
passageways well reconstructed for the onslaught of thousands of
tourists in the summer, which means it is harder to imagine how life
might have been spent down here. The excavated part is 1500 square
meters and it thought to only be a quarter of the city. It would have
accomodated up to 30000 people for months at a time. It is thought that
they were built to withstand attacks in 1200BC ,but were enlarged and
embellished by various other civilisations through the years until more
certainly the Byzantine christian communties occupied them during Arab
raids. They contain schools, living quarters, smoke blackened kitchens,
stables, wine presses, meeting halls and churches, with deep wells and
70-80m vertical ventilation shafts. Huge circular stones like mill
stones, could be rolled across the narrow passageways to seal the
citizens inside and make the city virtually impregnable. They could fire
arrows through the central hole in the door to repel invaders. All very
We later heard that the other smaller underground cities are less given
over to tourism, and more evocative of the lifestyle of the former
We read a small mention in the Rough Guide about a fresh water hot
spring haman on the outskirts of Cappodocia. We just found a sign at
dusk on the old Kayseri road east out of Avanos, for Yali Camping. We
followed this single track road up into a valley, We constantly stated
commented 'It can't possibly be up here/ open at this time of year etc'
but eventually we found a 'Termal Otel' and conversed in patchy French
with the owner Bulut, who also owns the campsite and haman. It is all a
bit run down, but we got a cheap room in the hotel, a soak in the
spa/haman in a private bath ( remember ladies and gents are not seen
together in states of undress in Turkey) and a meal and lots of beer and
dancing for not a lot of money. It's a very sociable little spot in
lovely surroundings off the tourist track, though they could do with
doing the laundry more often – I'll spare you the details.
The website is www.bayramhacı.com if you want to take a look (cut and
paste as there's a Turkish I without a dot which is hard to find on our
keyboard) It looks nothing like that in reality, in the end of winter,
decaying concrete, unpainted mode.
Next day we sought out our hotel in Ugurp for our 4 days of luxury
accomodation with Stu's dad and his wife visiting. We stayed at Hotel
Akuzan, which was a bargain booked on the internet. It was lovely hotel,
recently modernised and well run by Ahmed who spoke perfect English and
was a really good source of information about the area and all things
Turkish. We knew a lot of people who chose to stay in cave hotels for
the novelty of it, but they all found out that caves in winter are
mostly chilly and damp even if they have been turned into hotels. One
evening Ahmed cooked us a traditional meal baked in a large earthenware
pot for 3 hours in the village bread oven. It was the most delicious
meal we have had in Turkey, with loads and loads of vegetable meze to
accompany the casserole.
For 3 days we drove all over the central Cappodocia area, exporing cave
churches and hidden valley or hill-top cave settlements. It is a very
extensive area, altogether 200km wide, and each part has slightly
different volcanic rock erosions creating weird and wonderful landscapes.
We visited the Goreme open air museum, which at 15TL entrance was really
overpriced and full of American tourists. Yuk. Unless you are
particularly interested in the Dark Church with it's pristine early
Byzantine frescoes, then I'd suggest you give it a miss. Beware there's
an extra 8TL entrance fee for the Dark Church.
Part of the fun of Cappodocia is searching out frescoes in the numerous
churches spread thoughout the region, estimated to be more than 1000,
many of them free but often requiring a steep climb up the hillside. The
churches are in caves, but have had columns and domes carved into them
to resemble the interior of 'normal' churches of the era, and then have
been painted with wonderful examples of religious art. Unfortunately
various later raiders showed their hate of Christianity by scratching
out the eyes of the figures or in some cases destruction of the entire
After stay in the mountains, we returned to Finike the long way round,
on the coast road. Despite linking the two major cities of Mersin and
Antalya the road deteriorates in places to a one lane mud and rock
track. This doesn't stop it being a major delivery route for road cargo.
It was hard going on our rental car at times, and took much longer than
expected. We stopped for a night at a little beach cove where we found a
simple pension, and the restaurant owner managed to find fresh food out
of nowhere, even though we were the only tourists in sight ( and
probably the first of the year to stay in the penison).
Further along the coast we stopped at Side, which was Anthony and
Cleopatra's trysting spot. There are substantial remains of the roman
town, and the town is quite sweet, which lovely beaches on both sides.
It is jam packed with tourist restaurants and souvenir shops with the
ubiquitous touts,and it took some time to find the locals restaurant,
just in time to shelter from an enormous thunder storm.
Back to real life after the holiday, we found there were spaces this
year on the East Med Yacht Rally to the Middle East Mediterranean
countries. So we brought forward next years plans, and signed up. All of
a sudden there are a million and one things to do to get the boat ready
for long distances, lots of overnight trips and land travel. Not least
the boat has to come out of the water to have its barnacles removed,
bottom painted and checked, so we are busy busy busy.......
Thursday, May 14, 2009
We are back in Finike with the rally boats. Kaptan and his 2 lads ran around the marina handling the lazy lines and pushing boats into free spaces for a couple of hours and did a really professional job of parking all the rally boats.
Our first task, as the 'locals' was to organise a hike for the afternoon. They all appeared to be serious hikers, so we set off with 10 of us up the hill out of town. All the local kids were shouting and waving, 'Merhaba. My name is ....' then not knowing how to continue. It was lovely and really friendly. Two hikers turned back before we even got to the track. Then we were 8.
We set off up a lovely shaded valley, in the afternoon heat, for a 2 ½ hour climb up, up, up and up the track, then came back down the goat road with gorgeous views over the bay. Everyone agreed it was a worth the view, but it was a really hard climb. Thus we have ensured no-one will ask us to organise a hike again!!
Back at the boat Stuart was immediately besieged by people wanting technical advise. Now I remember why we couldn't get any of our own work done.
In every port there is a rally cocktail party with music and dancing. Apparantly the marinas do not charge the rally for berthing, it is all done to raise awareness of the marinas and promote yachting in these places. They really go to a lot of effort to provide food and drink and music for 200 people in each place as well, even though most of the marinas are well established.
We had a tea party on board for the owners of our favourite restaurant, Mavi Sofra. They brought us presents and were really interested in the boat – it is their dream to go sailing one day.
They don't speak any English so Coneh from one of the Turkish boats came along to help translate. It was the first time we've been able to have a meaningful conversation with them, even though we've spent so many evenings in their restaurant practising our limited Turkish.
Despite the need for an early start, we stayed up drinking with our friends Phil (Lorna Grace) and Sheila and Patrick (SheCat). We'll miss you guys, see you next winter.