Wednesday, June 9, 2010

May 2010 Heading north to Istanbul

After leaving Marmaris to carry on our journey north, we had light northerlies that we sailed to, or some degree of south wind, the new cruising chute going up and down up a lot. We set off at about 9.30am every day, when some wind got up and made 25 to 40 miles each day depending on wind strength and direction. People who got up early to avoid the north winds, motored all the way. Sometimes it pays to be an owl, not a lark.
Here's a brief overview of places we stopped for those who may follow on behind. Page numbers refer to 7th ed Rod Heikell pilot.

Bozuk Buku (p222) 36 33.9N 28 01.3E
Picked up a buoy just behind Jasmone (sister Rival 41) and a Rival  36.  Apparently we all just missed Aju (Rival 41) who had been here the night before. That would have been weird! Ate at the restaurant ashore, but he was a bit of a rip off merchant. Food average and overpriced, but company great.

Short stop in Simi (Greece).We stayed in Pethi where there are no port police to bother us. We walked over the hill to Simi harbour (25 mins) and found Fotini's shop, Nikos wines near the bridge (tel 6972845222). She is a lovely lady, good prices for beer wine and spirits, you can taste the wines, and she'll deliver you and your supplies back to the port.
Turkish wine is like poison and extremely expensive so we stocked up well with Greek supplies, plus yummy Greek yoghurt, blue cheese and bacon!

Knidos 36 41.01N 27 22.6E p203
Anchored in Buyuk Liman (p203). It took a couple of attempts for the anchor to hold but Ok in the end. Interesting ruins ashore, but frankly we couldn't be bothered to go and explore!

Altinkum, Didim marina. 37 20.25N 27 15.6N p154
Tried to blag a free night in the new marina as the EMYR fleet were there, but they wanted 46 euros. Marina nearly empty due to ridiculous prices! There's a nice protected anchorage just behind the marina that was perfectly adequate for us cheapskates. Carrefour nearby.

Port St Paul 37 39.1N 27 00.1E p 149
Very quiet place opposite Samos. Turkish coastguard patrols at sea and at 2am on shore with flash lights, looking for refugees attempting to cross the short gap to the EU.

Kusadasi marina 37 52.2N 27 14.9E p145
We stopped here only to visit Ephesus. Ignoring everyone's advice we took the dolmus to the lower entrance and walked up and down the site – it is not that big. We were told to take a taxi to the upper entrance and walk down as it is so huge. We were also told to go early to avoid the cruise ship coachloads, but you just cannot get there early enough. We arrived at 12.30pm just as they were all off for their long lunch. We almost had the place to ourselves. Took a picnic to avoid the tourist hussle eateries on site. 2 nights at 37 euros per night in the marina, plus the hefty entrance fee for Ephesus. We were uninspired, it's not that large, or an impressive site, the ruins are badly restored, and in our opinion there are better ruins to spend your money on. Kusadasi not as bad a tourist town as we expected it to be.

Kormen Adasi 38 01.8N 26 52.2E p143
Anchored here to find the hot springs, but they only just took the edge off the freezing sea water. Best spring inside the cave, but still chilly. Gulets tie back to the hot springs for a lunch stop.

Sarpdere Limani, Nergis liman. 38 10.3N 26 30.5E p138
Delightful, quiet and nothing ashore. Good holding in the south bay.

Egri Limani 38 32.4N 26 22.7E p123
Blowing old boots from the south. Good bolthole, but poor holding. Fishermen directed us to a mooring buoy. No charge. Bleak.

Eskifoca 38 40. 2N 26 44.9 E p112
Considerably changed since 7th edition of pilot. New trawler harbour in SW of Buyukdeniz Liman. Little room to anchor and very deep. 35 TL on the quay using your own anchor, no facilities – stuff that! We found a good spot off Kucuklimani in 6m on sand. Good holding and near the main focus of activity.   Sloppy when the wind came strong from SW. We really liked this Turkish holiday town, and traditional fishing port. Has an interesting collection of old Greek houses from before the 1922 population 'exchange' now being done up and abused by Turks with no clue about architecture.

Bademli Limani 39 01.0N 26 47.9E p105
In search of more hot springs and protection from south winds. Springs minimal, green and stagnant. Not recommended. Rubbish lines the shore, and the hotels appear deserted, other than that it could be the Caribbean.

Ayvalik (39 19.3N 26 37.9E) p99, Camlik Koyu – landlocked bay within a landlocked bay for those troublesome forecasts.  We found over 10 cruising boats holed up here. Go ashore on the north of the bay and take the dolmus to town (1.50TL, every 5 mins). Lovely town, good shopping.

Babakale (39 28.9N, 26 03.9E) p94
New quay built, still open to SE though. It blew from SE of course. Charge 20 TL for no facilities, boring town.

Anit Limani 40 02.6N 26 12.1E, p49
Entrance to the Dardanelles and south tip of Gallipoli peninsular.
Good holding, went ashore for the Turkish and French cemeteries.

Canakkale 40 09.3N 26 24.4E, p50
We anchored off the harbour, just opposite a tiny yacht club. When we went to get fuel in the morning they asked why no-one came into the marina. Errr.. cos it's 50-75TL per night with basic facilities and the anchorage outside is fine. Lovely university town though, very nice people.

Kemer, 40 25.3N 27 04E, Sea of Marmara p53.
Full of trawlers and in NW to SW swell rolls in. We didn't stay.

Aksaz, 40 26.6N 27 10.3, Sea of Marmara p53.
Very shallow narrow entrance(1 boat width). We couldn't enter, lots of rocks awash between harbour and adjacent beach. We anchored in the lee of the large harbour wall by the steel works but were asked to move on by the officials. After negotiation they let us stay til 6am by which time the boat was covered in black grit.

Avsa Adasi, new port north of Turkeli. 40 32.2 N 27 30.6 E
Post apocalyptic, unfinished but old port. You can anchor right in the middle or go alongside. Nothing ashore, not pretty and very strange.

Avsa Adasi,  Yigitler 40 29.87N 27 31.6E 
Nice town with new harbour. We anchored off the beach for better swimming, but lots of jelly fish. Dia supermarket ashore – cheapest supplies in Turkey so far and straight into the dinghy from the quay. Nice little Turkish holiday town, not a lot happening though. Strange it being only 60 miles across the water from a city of 16 million.

Bays on north coast of Kapidag Yarimadasi. 
Stayed in calm weather in a couple of bays not in pilot book. Not much happening ashore (end of May) and lots of jellyfish. 

Mimar Sinan 41 01.0N 28 33.9N p84
Harbour tucked into the NW corner of Buyukcekmece. Free stay for 6-10 days if you can find a space. Metrobus/tram to Istanbul.
Also good anchorage off Buyukcekmece beach. Yildiz restaurant good value and good food. 

Now for some blog from Stuart, now there's a treat!
We are still in Istanbul. We have been here over a week and will stay a couple more dasys until weather is in our favour for the Bosphoros and into the Black sea. We arrived in a large bay to the west of Istanbul and anchored with a disturbing amount of smoke issuing from the engine after a 6 hour run. I had used a fuel additive earlier that stated that the filters would need more regular changes as it did it's job and had commented to Steph that I felt a change was imminent a few days earlier. So I changed the primary filter and gave the engine a run. Less smoke than the day before but still enough to attract a passing yacht who questioned if we had problems and why were we not in the small harbour. We were welcome. His offer of a free night was generous so we took him up the next day. A technical man offered assistance to remove the injectors and service them but we held out for time to consider options. Turks purporting to be engineers are common. Some even have some spanners. The more experienced will probably be able to diagnose your problem without setting foot anywhere near your boat. The problem will most likely be the one they repaired on the last engine they had a go at, which resulted in a good charge. Enquiries about cost of said repair will be met with "don't worry cost little, me very economic." The resulting charge will in deed be calculated on a small percentage of their estimation of your net worth, and bear no relation to the job performed which may of course in turn be nothing to do with your original problem. So if you can do it yourself, it's usually for the best.
After visiting the office in the port we were told we can stay for free for 6 to 10 days, for free, so we had time to visit Istanbul and consider the engine. The trip in to Istanbul seemed a little complicated and long winded but we thought we would give it a go as staying anywhere closer meant 60 + Euros a night.  The trip in from here starts with the Metro company bus, a reasonably direct motorway route into the outskirts Yeni Bosna, approx 45 mins,  cost 2.5 TL,  then a change to a train (1.50 TL) which links up with a Tram (1.50 TL)  route into the tourist sites of the city. Total travel time including changes 1 hour 30 mins, at best,  and 1 hour 45 mins at it's worst, depending on which site in Istanbul you are heading for. The transport system is excelent and at no time have we waited more than 5 minutes for a connection, even very late.  The benefit of free accomodation is that we have had time to visit the city at leisure, wandering miles around the back streets reaching parts that other tourists don't reach. One highlight was the discovery of a little workshop on top of a crumbling city wall with spectacular views over the Bosphorous, making knicker elastic on clattering belt driven machines that looked nearly as old as the wall that the near derelict workshop had been built on top of many years before building rules or regulations. Somehow I expected this type of industry to have completely vanished from a city of 15 million people and all gone to China but surprisingly it exists despite what would seem un-sustainable economic pressure.
The view from the knicker elastic 'factory'
Of course we visited the Palaces and Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia but the fun to me is the backstreets with their bewildering volume of the same shops. I will explain. In Turkey there is an long established culture of copying. Anything can be made and sold cheaper (especially if you have no idea why an item is made in a way or with parts that make it expensive.) So whereever somebody establishes a business that seems successful, no matter how local or small the market, somebody will copy your recipe and open the same shop next door. This evidence of a successful concept will attract more of the same and soon you will have a row, if not a street, of businesses all doing the same thing. Take for instance the delightful existance of shoe cleaners, not in my experience a service which you go out of your way to locate but a convenience if you have time and are passing one and your shoes are letting down your overall appearance. The obvious stratergy for this business would be to have one therefore at every busy pedestrian intersection or meeting point, But that's not the case here. You can cover miles of streets without the sight of a single shoe cleaner and then turn the corner to find not one, but 7 or 10, all competing for the same customer. Yesterday I passed a shop selling exclusively polysterene ceiling roses and architrave. Thats all it did, I've never seen another in Turkey and it can't be a big market here, however right next door someone had opened a different shop selling, you guessed it, exclusively, Polysterene ceiling roses and architrave.  This practice has it's obvious advantages to the consumer, unless you want your shoes cleaned in the wrong part of town.
So how is the engine? We found a Mercedes service center on the bus route so it was no problem to jump off, call into the parts manager, drink Cay (tea), discuss our requirement for additional filters and return in 4 hours time to collect them. Probably at a lower price than I could have bought copies. Also some advice and chemical to add to the fuel to clean the injectors in situ.  Worth a try. Well 2 hour run in the bay seems to have dome the trick with the exhust looking about normal so we will proceed without surgery and see how it goes. When we first arrived at the Mercedes center, the guard asked us what was our business so I showed some parts and said alisveris (Turkish for shopping), he directed us to the showroom to view a selection of 300,000 euro cars. After this slight misunderstanding we found the parts department!

The locals here have been very friendly. This is a sort of cooperative marina of sorts with a security gate and 24 hour security. The guard comes past quite often to see we are OK. The local boat owners or minders, are on hand to practice their English or lend a hand. The first evening they took us to negotiate with a local restaurant to ensure we got local rates but were incensed by the attitude that all forigners should be charged more than the locals would be prepared to pay, so they removed us from the restaurant and accompanied us to the fish and vege shops, selected the best food, we paid, and then returned us to the boats where they proceeded to light a BBQ prepare, cook and serve us with a meal much better than what we would have got in the restaurant. We had a great evening answering the questions and getting the family backgrounds of all the locals. Since then we have had visitors every evening we have been on board. They arrive with their own beer and spares and are a great entertainment. We provided a windsurfing lesson for one which proved considerable entertainment for the whole marina, they were still laughing about it that evening over a few beers, snacks and a boat tour of the town shoreline to view the bars and restaurants from the sea.
We will be sorry to leave but are assured of similar experiences on our next ports along the Black Sea.
Aya Sofia church, a mere shell of it's former glory in Byzantine days
Blue Mosque, an Islamic attempt to keep up with the Jones's

At Dolmabache palace, Steph tries to decide if these tiles would look good in the galley