The Cyclades to Leros (September 15 – October 4)

With Larry and Cath on board we set sail from Linaria, Skyros, on Tuesday 17 September across to Evia and anchored at Ormos Petries. The wind was light and we motored the whole way. At Petries we spotted a turtle and settled down to GnT’s with Larry promising to tone down his infamous proportions of gin. Dinner that night on board was a prawn, mint and pea risotto. The following day we motor/sailed southeast towards the notorious Kafireas Strait that divides Evia with Andros. We managed a sail across the strait avoiding many cargo ships. Any thought of tacking down the strait were put to rest when the Admiral suggested we should get this leg over and done with ASAP.

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We arrived in Batsi on the south coast of Andros early evening and with the assistance of Nikos, the man at the harbour, we squeezed into the narrowest of gaps between a very accommodating Austrian crew and the harbour wall. Batsi is a delightful village where we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Dolphins Taverna. We would have liked to stay another day but another meltemi was coming and we wanted to be a bit more snug than where we were so we set off to Delos to visit the ancient ruins.P1090021Delos is an amazing site with its iconic lions a stand out. You can only visit by boat or on the ferries that come across from Mykonos and other islands. The site consists of temples from different civilisations and communities. It’s a bit like the World Trade Fair of worshiping made possible due to its tax free status during the ancient Greek and Roman periods. Many of the antiquities remain in the museum on the island and excavation is ongoing by the team of archeologists who are the only residents. Yachts are not allowed to anchor overnight so we skipped across to Delos’s neighboring island, Rinia, and anchored in Miso Bay and settled down to a beautiful sunset, G&T’s and dinner cooked by Larry and Cath.

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As the meltemi was forecast for the following day we motored west to Syros to moor at Finikas on the south west of the island. Another Nikos tied us up at the wharf and we stayed three nights while again the wind blew from the north. We hired a car and toured the island and the capital, Ermoupoli, which is also the commercial and administrative centre of the Cyclades. The vegetation is starkly different to the lush green of the pine covered northern Aegean islands. Syros is dry, rocky and devoid of pines. Whilst it is the most populated of the Cyclades, much of the island is sparsely populated giving it a wild and remote feel. Modest resorts are tucked away in small hamlets while Ermoupolis seems to be more about commerce, rather than tourism. We managed, maybe to the readers’ surprise, to eat lovely fish at the local restaurants and restocked the boat for our final leg across to Leros.

On Monday 23 we set sail to Paros, some 26 nm. We anchored in Ormos Naouisis at the north of Paros, a place we stayed at in 2016 during Stuart’s toe incident. This time we stayed in the south west corner of the bay in calm peaceful surroundings, somewhat different to our last visit.

With the promise of good winds later in the day we motored down the still passage between Paros and Naxos. Unfortunately the wind did not fill in until late in the day so we motor sailed along the south coast of Naxos and eventually anchoring at Pori beach, Koufonisi, one of the islands that makes up the Little Cyclades group between Naxos and Amorgos. True to form the wind picked up as we anchored, this time from the west, not the north. The temperature had definitely cooled and swimming was not an agenda item.

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The relatively short sail across to Kolytri, an anchorage to the north east of Amorgos, was blessed with a stiff northerly giving Larry a champagne reach averaging 8 kts. Finally, a brief but exhilarating day of sailing. Kolytri is remote and surrounded by the tall mountains of Amorgos. The colours at sunset are breathtaking. We celebrated our penultimate night with sausages in a mediterranean stew and freshly baked ciabatta bread for the Captain’s table.

Unfortunately our winds died the next day and we had a long motor across to the remote island of Levitha, halfway between Amorgos and Kalymnos. This is our third time at Levitha and the first time we ate at the restaurant run by the family who are sole residents during the summer season. On the walk up we noticed goats taking flight, something we remembered as we sat down to a delicious meal of slow cooked goat! It was here that Larry and Cath had their first and last swim.IMG_1121

Our final sail across to Leros was a pleasant broad reach in light conditions. We sailed into Lakki harbour and pulled up to Lakki marina to begin the decommissioning of the boat. On the Saturday we took a long lunch at our favourite restaurant Mylos, where Cath and Larry we able to taste the delights of “drunken mushrooms”, mussels saganaki and sea bream. As we were travelling by taxi we ate and drank too much, celebrating our final days in true style. We farewelled Larry and Cath the following morning and they flew on to Athens and then home. They are always a delight to have on board.

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Basil, our trusted crew member since the beginning, took its final dive on the way to Archangelos

On Tuesday 1stOctober, Epicurios was lifted out of the water at Artemis boatyard. The previous night we had anchored nearby at the island of Archangelos and enjoyed a meal of calamari and slow cooked lamb at Taverna Stigma, another restaurant we have been wanting to try over the years.

 

Epicurios is now snug on its cradle and packed up for winter in the Artemis Boatyard, Leros.

This year we have motored/sailed 1,807 nm between Turkey and the Aegean, Greece. We used 245 litres of fuel reflecting the number of hours we had to motor but still consuming at an efficient 2.3 l per hour. This was our fifth year, the milestone we set ourselves as to whether we would continue. With a total of 8,570 nm under our belt we have agreed that we want to continue this lifestyle for a while a least. This year we were joined by Deb, Lynda, Steve and Adam, Greg and Jen and Cath and Larry. We sailed in company/competition with John and Terri from Qi and caught up with Lale and Serhat. We met many other sailors, particularly from Australia, and noted that yachties are returning to Turkey. All in all a great 2019 sailing season.

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The coastline of Turkey from Kokova to Didim where we sailed

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Our route in the Aegean from Samos to Leros

Next year? Hopefully the Cyclades, Peloponnese and Ionians.

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The Sporades and that monk seal (August 27 – September 14)

We said our sad farewells to Greg and Jen this morning at Skyros airport after an eventful fortnight. Their plane took off into headwinds, which have gusted to over 40 kts in the past two days. Port authorities have even cancelled today’s ferry, which, according to the harbour marinara Sakis, is a first for September. This is a fierce late season meltemi. Thankfully Epicurios is secure in Linaria on the south side of Skyros, but more on that later.

With Lynda, Steve and Adam in tow, our sail from Kalamitsi, the nudist beach, to Liminaria, Thasos island, was long and frustrating. A distance of 53 nm, we had the motor on for 7.5 of the 10.5 hours duration. As we sailed past Mount Athos we were mindful to stay at least 4 nm out but, of course, the wind and waves blew up and Epicurios pounded its way into the swell and head winds. The wind then dropped out, but not the swell, and at one stage we sailed into a 180 degrees wind shift, miles from any interfering land. Go figure. Finally we squeezed into the harbour at Liminaria, and settled into cocktail hour, or two.

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The following day we hired a car and set off to circumnavigate the island. Our first stop was the village of Theologos, which was at one time the capital of Thasos. It’s a favoured boozy lunch spot for Romanians and Bulgarians, something to be mindful if you are driving up to the village in the late afternoon. Our next stop was the temple, sanctuary and marble quarry on the Alyki peninsula. This is a beautiful spot and it retained an air of peacefulness despite the tourist beach adjacent.

Onwards we drove to the capital on the north coast called Thasos, which sites the Archeological museum and ruins of the ancient city of Limenas. The museum was another good example of a regional museum with quality exhibits and good interpretation. Thasos was an important and strategic island and has featured in many of Greece’s struggles dating back from the Persian wars 500 BC to the Greek civil war last century. It was blessed with forests and mines of ochre, silver, lead, gold and Thasos marble which is still prized today. We drove through bushfire scarred forests along the south coast and fertile valleys to the west of the island.

On our return we welcomed John and Terri from Qi who had arrived from Kavala. We agreed to accompany them for 2 nights to the bay of Alyki, where the water is crystal clear and good snorkeling over the marble quarries. The compulsory race was again won by Qi although Epicurios did have the lead for a good part of the journey. The snorkeling was the best we have had this season with large schools of fish and an octopus. Just off the quarry there is a large slab of marble, which became a focus of speculation on what were the repercussions of loosing a slab like that over the side of the ship, death?

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On the last day of August we set sail to Kavala while Qi set off to Limnos on a trip to hell with 35 kts and fuming waves soaking John and Terri. In contrast, our sail westward was pleasant and calm and we arrived in Kavala around 3 pm.

Kavala is located on what was the Roman road called the Via Egnatia and has a well preserved section of a via duct in the centre of the town. A local artist paints eyes on buildings around the city. The marina is occupied by charter and long-term private yachts and there is little space for transient yachts. Thankfully Nikos, the local “arranger”, found us a berth for 3 nights, which allowed us to farewell Lynda, Steve and Adam and welcome Jen and Greg. We hired a car for the day and drove to the ancient site of Phillippi of Greek, Roman and Byzantium origin. We drove onto the town of Drama and ate at Entrades restaurant, an absolute gem and a surprise in such a non descript town.

On Tuesday 3 September we set off with Jen and Greg back to Liminaria on Thasos. It was a pleasant introductory sail for them both and the following day we sailed back to Alyki to sit out some weather for 2 nights before the long crossing south to Mount Athos and the Sinthonis peninsula. Another long day of 66 nm but this time Mount Athos was on good behavior and we were able to view up close the monasteries at the tip of the Akti peninsula before enjoying a great reach across to the Sintonis peninsula, past Kalamitsi, and around the tip of the peninsula to Koufos. Along the way we were joined by a pod of 20 dolphins who played with us for 15 or so minutes.

Koufos is in a well protected beautiful bay. It is a sleepy hamlet that punches above its weight in restaurants. Come sunset and there are traffic jams with folk arriving from who-knows-where to enjoy the seafood on offer. We spent a delightful two nights at Koufos before setting off to the third peninsula, Kassandra. We decided to stay a night at Miraggio marina to enjoy the pleasures of a resort. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. We were moored along side a cement pier and were not offered access to the pools. It was expensive and we all had a disrupted sleep due to slapping waves and jerking mooring ropes. The only good thing was that Jane and Jen were able to have beauty treatments at the resort spar, at a price. Not happy Jan!

The following day, Monday 9 September, we set of at 7.30 bleary eyed and cranky. We had a 43 nm crossing to the Sporades. It was a fabulous reach all the way to Nisos Kira Panagia with Epicurios easily riding the cross waves at 7/9 kts. We arrived at Ormos Painiou on the south side of Panagia having seen a small swordfish jump out of the water along the way. Panagia is a marine park and habitat for the endangered monk seal. There are no inhabitants on the island and Painiou is a beautiful spot.

The following morning a monk seal turned up and promptly started to play with the swimmers in the water. Its familiarity with humans leads us to believe it was a seal that had been rehabilitated and released. It hung around for about an hour interacting with folk and other boats. Finally it swam off, leaving all of us in the bay aware that we had just experienced something special. Reluctantly we left around midday and sailed under genoa to the delightful Ormos Peristeria, on the south side of Nisos Peristeria. Jen spotted an octopus preying on fish on the sea grass below the stern of the boat!

After a pleasant night in Peristeria we set off to Skopelos town on the island of Skopelos. The harbour is big and can cater for many yachts, although it is daunting when the large ferries arrive. The purpose of the visit was not only to see the town made famous by the movie Mama Mia but also to have a long lunch, an Epicurios tradition that has been sadly lacking this season. We settled on Muses restaurant and were not disappointed.

After an early night we set off again at 7.30 am for another fabulous reach across to Skyros, some 43 nm east. Skyros is where Greg and Jen depart and where Cath and Larry will join us for the final leg to Leros. It is also where we wanted to hold up for the forecast meltemi having been recommended to go to the southern harbour of Linaria. We were greeted by Sakis and guided into the last berth in the protected section of the harbour. The harbour is a gem and, in contrast to much of the Greece we have seen, it is clean, well organized and promotes recycling. Sakis has a quirky sense of humour as he explains to us that in the showers between 7 and 8 at night there is a disco and bubble bath. Well, he is right! Yesterday we walked around the Chora and have had two sumptuous meals in the restaurants at the harbour.

We will miss Jen and Greg, Steve and Adam and Lynda. Bring on Cath and Larry!

North and West Aegean, Greece (August 14 – August 26)

16nm across the gulf lies the might of Mount Athos at the tip of the Akti peninsular where Zeus reigned and is now the domain of cenobite and idiorrhythmic monasteries numbering approximately 20. This all male preserve is autonomic and has existed prior to the 10thC. Ironically, across the gulf, we are sheltering from the weather in a pretty bay called Kalamitsi, which is the domain of nudists, male and female. Two contrasting folk separated by far more than the water between them. Tomorrow we hope the wind will abate for our 53 nm voyage to Thassos.

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Steve and Adam arrived on the 13th in Mytilini and we stayed another night to explore and stock the cellar and fridges. The following night was their anniversary so we took the advice of our friends from Sea Fox 1 and sailed in light winds to a group of islands called the Tomaria on the northeast tip of Lesbos. It’s a beautiful fare weather anchorage and we celebrated with a nice bottle of champagne and dinner cooked by Jane and Lynda.

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The following day we motored along the north coast and around the north west corner of Lesvos to the town of Molivos, also called Mithimna. Molivos is a delight with a prominent castle on the hilltop and the added bonus was that there was a music festival over the weekend. Adam and Stuart enjoyed 3 classical performances while Jane, Lynda and Steve went off for a drive to explore western Lesvos checking out the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest, the town of Sigri and the Monastry of Ypsilou built in 1101 . We dined at the Womens Cooperative and were introduced to the delights of Limnos wines, our next destination.

On Sunday 18 we were confident of a brisk crossing over the 53 nm that separates Limnos from Lesvos, but off course all wind models were wrong and, while we had some pleasant sailing, we were forced to motor sail for too long. Along the way we saw dolphins and sent our sighting to the Archipelagos Institute of Marina Conservation who is asking yachties to forward their sighting of dolphins and turtles to contribute to the conservation of these creatures.

We anchored in a bay called Ormos Moudhrou, an anchorage used by the allies in the Gallipoli campaign. We were the only yacht, something we would have to get used to as this area is less crowded than Turkey and the Dodecanese Islands. After a brisk sail under genoa and still managing 7 kts we moved around to the next bay called Ormos Kondia. Limnos in these areas is stark, brown with low lying saltbushes and hedges, a contrast to the green of Turkey. Limnos is also a major military centre and we were startled when two low flying jets screamed overhead and then flew vertically up into the heavens.

Another brisk sail under Genoa took us to Myrina, the capital of Limnos. We stayed two nights anchored in the harbour, hiring a very small car for a circumnavigation of the island on Wednesday 21. We enjoyed Myrina and our travels across the island. We drove to the east military cemetery where English, ANZAACs and other nationalities are buried from the Gallipoli travesty plus other casualties from the Russian revolutions and other sorties. From there we visited the ancient ruins of Poliochne credited to be the first prehistoric settlement in the Aegean, the salt lakes on the east coast and the sanctuary of Kabeiro to the north east where a major attraction is the Hellenistic temple with 11 partial columns. Here is the Cave of Philoctetes, which you can swim onto, where this Trojan war hero spent 10 years recovering from a snake bite. Our last stop was the volcanic rock formations at Faraklo beach to the north of the island (another suggestion from Sea Fox 1).

Produce and wine in Limnos is excellent. We also managed to fit in a wine tasting at a very nice winery on the road trip. We will go back again to Limnos as it has much to offer in a very relaxed mode.

 

Our planned itinerary to Samothraki took a wide deviation westward to avoid the strengthening meltimi. We set off at 6.15 am, an interesting prospect for the crew, for a 63 nm sail to Nisis Dhiaporos on the western end of the middle of three peninsulas within the Khalkidhiki region on the Greek mainland. The peninsula of Sinthonia is covered with pines and the lush green contrasts the sparse islands we had just left. Unfortunately the pines attract wasps and for the next two anchorages we were beset upon, particular when food is being cooked. Apart from that the area is a wonderful protected playground for families enjoying all forms of watercraft.

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After two nights we crossed the gulf enjoying pleasant sailing conditions and anchoring at a beach on the south side of Nisos Ammouliani, adjacent to the northern peninsular Akti. This beach was dominated by a camping ground which had an unlikely restaurant that served the best fish we have had this trip. We were also treated to a visit from a lone juvenile flamingo.

P1080813We set off early yesterday to sail along the south coast of Akti to view the monasteries perched on the cliffs and hills above. What started off as a pleasant sail soon deteriorated to gusts of 30 kts plus. With memories of the “south side of Amorgos” we persevered as Zeus and the Greek gods threw bullets of wind at us, no doubt punishment for daring to have two women onboard so close to this male only domian. Yachts, if there are females onboard, must maintain a 1 nm distance from the shore. The sea spumed across the boat and eventually we called it quits and set off across the gulf to seek refuge finally in this nudist cove.

The monasteries are amazing, some dating back to the 10th century, their architecture, position and size, and all seem to be well kept. Apparently there are 2500 monks on the peninsula living either communally or solitary existence.

After  Thasos we continue onto Kavala located on the mainland to bid farewell to Adam, Steve and Lynda and pick up Jenny and Greg on Sunday. We will miss the fab, troublesome?, three.

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Farewell to Turkey, arriving in Greece (July 28 – August 13)

You know when you arrive in Greece when, unfortunately, rubbish is more prevalent, the winds increase, the folk are more relaxed and stuffed zucchini flowers are on the menu and are delicious. Even at the little out of the way taverna in Skala Loutron, South Lesbos, it served stuffed zucchini flowers to die for. Jane is very happy.

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After Aspat Koyu we motored to Gumusluk, a delightful but crowded inlet north of Turgetries west of Bodrum. What was to be a pleasant sail turned into a minor disaster when the mainsail bag decided to get caught in a pulley meaning eventually it had to be cut to be freed. Damn. Anyway, we arrived and secured a spot in Gumusluk so we could eat ashore at one of the many restaurants. This is a place where the Turkish folk come from Istanbul and Izmir to be seen, so people spotting is an accepted pastime, something we enjoy doing. Dinner was a delight, seafood of course, and the next day we continued north.

Our next stop was a delightful marina at an isolated place called Port Iassos. We originally wanted to go to the village of Iassos nearby to see ruins but did not like the look of the mooring and wharf. Unfortunately we missed some spectacular ruins which we will have to go to at a later date. At the marina we ate at the restaurant and enjoyed beautiful steak, almost as good as Yacht Marin’s steak in Marmaris.IMG_0699 3

The following day, 30/07/2019, we tacked our way around the many fish farms and sailed down a gulf to Kazikh Lskelesi on the recommendation of Phil and Liz. The attraction here is a restaurant that offers floating platforms for guest to eat on. They are rather crude and on one platform the boy tried his darndest to make his family seasick. Again seafood was the order of the day, given we were surrounded by fish farms. Our last night before Didim was at a bay to the east where we were the only boat anchored and we were privy to a spectacular view down the Turkish coast at sunset.

 

Didim marina is a large and expensive operation but you do have access to their swimming pool. This is important because it is always hot. We spent two nights at the marina before checking out and leaving Turkey on Saturday 3/08/2019. We thoroughly enjoyed Turkey but we were now excited about Greece and the arrival of Lynda.

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The wind modeling got it right and the sail to Samos consisted of a beat then a lovely reach into Pythagoria where we checked into Greece. Pythagoria is a favourite place for us as you are moored in the town harbour, surrounded by restaurants and good shopping. It is also the place of a chaotic, but extensive chandlery, where it is impossible to locate anything, but where the proprietor somehow knows, even if he has to shift through the randomness.

On arrival we were promptly informed that we had to leave on the Monday because the town was celebrating a historic naval victory over the Ottomans in 1824. This was also the day Lynda was to arrive and when the gale was to blow. Reluctantly we went to the marina around the corner, which is far less appealing. Anyway, Lynda duly arrived Monday evening and we joined the hordes to witness the naval re-enactment in the harbour and were wowed by a surprisingly good fireworks display.

 

On Wednesday we set off early in the morning for the 65 nm trip to Chios. True to the modeling we had a difficult but safe sail, where at one point we were hit by gusts of 35 kts. We ended up at a little village on the south east coast of Chios called Komi, tired after sailing for 11 hours, but happy to be there. We continued up the east coast and stopped of at a little bay on the island of Oinoussa called Kalamarias, a place we stayed at in 2017 with berni and Gunther. The wind blew that night but also we were set upon by a swam of wasps.

 

The following morning we awoke to calm weather and a cabin full of wasps. We quickly upped anchor and motored the 38 nm to Plomari, a town on the south coast of Lesbos. Another gale was forecast so we moored to the wharf and battened down. Plomari is the second largest town on Lesbos and although there are tourists, it remains a working town, famous for its ouzo. While there we visited the Barbayanni family Ouzo museum. We enjoyed Plomari and had some of the best seafood so far this trip. We woke Sunday morning, somewhat battered by the winds, listening to the young revelers making their way home from the night’s drinking. It was time to leave.

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We are now anchored in a protected bay called Skala Loutron where we have been staying for the last two nights and did a big walk up to the local village. It is a quiet place, but also a place where boats come to die. It’s sad to see wrecks laying on their side, somebody’s dream gone bad. Today we go to Mytilini where we will be joined by Steve and Adam, making 5 for the trip westwards.

Fethiye to Aspat Koyu (Bodrum) (July 8-July 27)

How time flies when you are meandering along the Turkish coast. At the moment we are sitting in a bay near Bodrum. We seem to end up here each year. This bay has significance as it was the first stop for us in 2016 when we entered Turkey on the night of the attempted coup.

But we need to go back to tell you about our adventures over the last 3 weeks.

In Fethiye we enjoyed a lovely evening with Qi and Shantaram crew at the Fethiye fish market and restaurant that we have been introduced to by Terri and John.

The next day we bid farewell to Qi as they set sail. We along with Shantaram moved into the Yacht Classic Marina. This place is a bit of a swish resort with a small marina. You can use all the facilities, pools, bars, showers, toilets and if you eat at the restaurant, Mori, you get a reduction in your mooring fees. The restaurant is very nice so it was not an issue to eat there. We spent our first night dining with Rita and Sten from Shantaram and the next night with Australians Phil and Donna who were moored next to us in their large motor cruiser. Also, we treated ourselves to a Haman at the wellness centre. It was very enjoyable and included a sauna, haman, massage and face mask. We came out very relaxed and cleansed.

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Fethiye provided an opportunity to get a few things done; haircuts, replace gas bottle, get the usual provisions and enabled Stuart to go to one of the best chandleries in Turkey to buy some light switches for the cockpit, a task he completed the following day. It was also very hot so we made use of the pools regularly. Unfortunately the Fethiye bay was suffering from a significant algal bloom. The water was very green.

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Epicurios was also covered with ash during our stay here. This was due to forest fires happening around Gocek and the smell of smoke was most apparent. After 2 days we headed back across to Gocek to get ready to pick up Deb. As we got closer to the area you could make out the helicopter water bombers, the fire and the smoke. Normally the Gocek bay is used as an anchorage but all boats had been moved so the helicopters could pick up water from the bay. Fortunately the fire was dealt with over 3-4 days, however it was very close to the town.

 

Deb joined us on the Saturday afternoon. That night we celebrated with dinner in town at Ozcans. On Sunday we were off to the food market to provision and have gozleme. Then we set off to head up to the northern part of the Gocek Bay, where we secured our usual spot in Haman Bay. We stayed put here for a few nights enjoying the clear water and the different enterprising sellers of different foods, ice cream and mezes, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Stuart and Deb scaled the hill to walk around the bay.

Our next stop was Ekincik at My Marina. It is a lovely spot with an outstanding restaurant and views from the restaurant terrace, which we thought Deb would enjoy. Sadly Deb’s dad was not doing too well and she received the very sad news that evening that he had passed away. This meant Deb needed to get home. It was at Ekincik where we had torrential rain and thankfully Epicurios did not leak!

We had planned to stop next at YachtMarin in Marmaris to catch up with Lale and Serhat and their daughter Aysegul and also to get the thermostat gasket replaced on the engine by TMS. This provided the opportunity for Deb to organise her return home. Before Deb departed we caught up and dined with Lale, Serhat and Aysegul over 2 nights. It was great to catch up and see them before we headed up the coast and they started their sailing going down the coast. We also went into Marmaris to visit chandlers and wander around the town with Deb. On the way we passed a submarine heading into base in an adjoining bay.

Having said farewell to Deb we headed off to send the night in Ciftlik. We assessed the conditions as being pretty calm to anchor, which of course it was when we arrived. Sadly over night it did not stay that way and Epicurios rocked and rolled the night away. This meant sleeping was intermittent, however it was a beautiful full moon.

Next day we motored/sailed to Bozburun where we had organised to catch up with Rob and Sylvie on Martini, also from Melbourne. Mooring in the harbour at Bozburun next to Martini made this all very easy. We had a lovely afternoon and evening catching up, dining at the wonderful Ozmans where Mehmet, Lynn, Ozman and Bonnie (the dog) always treat you as old friends.

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Based on a tip from Rob and Sylvie we motor sailed 21 nm’s to anchor in Keci Buku. The sail there had Stuart in his element, as Epicurios reached a top speed of 8.5 kts. This turned out to be a lovely place with very calm, clear water overlooked by the remains of a castle atop of the island. Stuart scaled up the hill to take in the views. On our second night Martini turned up too, so we again had a delightful catch up.

The following day we moved a short distance to anchor at Kuruca Adasi, a nice bay with a beach area around it very popular with the locals. The following day we motored sailed to Palamut, again anchoring in the bay instead of going into the town harbour. This little town is another tourist mecca for locals filled with umbrellas and restaurants along the beach. The water was crystal clear. Having eaten a lot on board we treated ourselves to a meal in town that night of mezes, fish and local Datca wine, chardonnay, at La Jardin de Semra. Very delicious. You can never go wrong with selecting fresh fish in these parts of the world.

However the calm through the night turned into rolly polly so again sleep was intermittent. From here the next day we set off for Aspat Koyu, the bay near Bodrum we stayed in in 2016. The last hour and a half was a power sail beating up to the bay in 14 to 17 kts. Last night we caught up with Phil and Liz from Passpertout 1, another Melbourne boat and a RYMS member.

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Tomorrow we will continue up the coast with the intention of checking out of Turkey in Didim on the 2ndAugust. Hard to believe our time in Turkey is nearly up, but it has been absolutely fabulous. Great sailing, great anchorages and lots of socialising with friends, new and old. We will be picking up Lynda in Samos on August 5th to start that adventure into the northern Aegean.

 

Pottering around Kekova and Gocek Limani (24 June – 7 July)

Our next anchorage after Polemos Buku was Karaloz, a bay on the outside of Kekova, recommended by Serhat and Lale. Well it was heaven, small, well protected and crystal clear water. We stayed there for 2 nights, enjoying the water, the scenery and the company.

After Karaloz we headed back into Kekova to investigate the ruins. The Sunken City (Batik Sehir), 6 metres below the surface, is a result of a series of earthquakes in the 2ndcentury AD. Most of what you see is foundations of buildings, staircases and moorings. It is very interesting to picture the life of this Lycian city in its full glory as you sail past.

A quick stop in at the town of Ucagiz for gozleme then onto Pirate Bay at the southern end of Kekova for our last evening with Qi (which by the way for those interested is an Elan 450 not 45 as posted. The blog editor apologises for this oversight). Here you can free anchor and in the water experience cold patches created by the natural springs that feed into this area. There were only 2 other boats in this anchorage besides us, one being Aussies. Epicurios, Qi and Seafox 1 (John and Meaghan) all had drinks that evening. Our plan for dinner was to go to a small restaurant in a little bay not far from where we were anchored. That was cancelled when John did a quick trip there to find out they were closed for the night due to them having had a large party the day before which meant they had no food! Plan B was a BBQ on Qi. Delicious.

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The next morning it was goodbye to Qi as they headed south onto Finike. It has been wonderful sailing with and enjoying Qi’s company.  Seafox 1 were off too, to explore Kekova a bit more. Epicurios was heading back to the marina in Kas. On Friday we went back to the Kas market and also the gozleme place. Yum. That night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Helios of fish, with a great view of the harbour. That was Jane’s downfall as she went for a spill missing a step trying for a better view of the harbour. The RICE recovery method was dutifully applied to the sprained ankle and diligently followed over the next few days.

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However it meant our plans to go inland to walk the Saklikent Gorge had to be cancelled and replaced by sitting in the marina. Hmm…….. Whilst at the marina we caught up with Maggie and Wilhelm from Deja Blu who we met 2 years ago in Astapalyia waiting out a meltemi. On Monday we headed off moving back up the coast and stayed again at our favourite Karacaoren Restaurant and mooring. Along the way we enjoyed some delightful sailing without trailing Qi, and more to the point, chasing down anyone heading in our direction.

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Next day we ventured into Gocek Limani, where we found a spot close to the ‘summer house’ in Sarsala Bay. The sail across from Karacaoeren was predictively enjoyable as the wind rushes down the bay and Epicurios loves a good reach. We had a catch up with John and Meaghan on Seafox 1 who popped in to Sarsala bay on our second night. It was very interesting hearing about their Iceland adventure in May (walking and driving, not sailing). Inspiring and made us think seriously about going as well.

Five days later we are still here. We have been enjoying the breeze and clear water, plus all the services you get, including the ice cream man, Migros supermarket boat, the Amigos market boat and a new venture called mezegi. Mezegi specializes in mezes and deserts, all delivered by some very nice young men.

However the temperature has increased significantly. It is now officially very hot! and the fridges run continually. The hot wind brings with it those bitey flies, which are only slightly more annoying than the ‘schoolies’ (its end of the school year here) who insisted they play their crap music very loud on the first couple of days we were here.  Last night we ventured out to the restaurant around the corner called Kucuk Sarsala Koyu Dalaman. It was very nice, Stuart had calamari, Jane had lamb casserole, with salad, mezzes, bread and chips all included. The night had cooled considerably and it was very pleasant sitting and looking across the water sipping on our wine.

Tomorrow we are moving, heading over to Fethiye to meet up with Qi again and the catamaran, Shantaram, who we met in 2016. We will stay over there on anchor then the next night at Yacht Classic for a swim in the pool and dinner before heading back to Gocek Limani. Deb arrives Saturday, so Epicurios will be getting prepared.

Tacking with Qi (1 June – 23 June)

For the past three weeks we have been sailing in tandem with Terri and John Boardman on Qi, an Elan 45. When the wind is up then it’s on, racing, with Qi clearly the faster boat but Epicurios has not been disgraced. Upwind with its more powerful rig and deeper keel, Qi simply points higher while off the wind, Epicurios, surprisingly, can give her a run for her money. Anyway it’s been fun and there is nothing like a match race to sharpen one’s effort to tune the boat. Incidentally, any other yacht within the vicinity, and there were those who had decided to join in, were creamed by both of us.

We left Selimye after a riotous night at Aurora restaurant with the extended Boardman clan and sailed around to Bozburun and anchored in the harbour while Qi tied stern to the wharf. We joined them for dinner at Osman’s restaurant, a favourite among yachties and run by Osman and Lyn. Nothing is too much trouble for Osman and Lyn and they provide great advice and service.

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From Bozburun we took a couple of days to return to Yacht Marin in Marmaris anchoring in Serci limani and Kumlubuek. At Serci limani we ate at Captain Nemo’s restaurant and were disappointed by the service and food. Another great night free anchored at Kumlubuek with drinks onboard Qi. At Yacht Marin we cleaned the boat and attended to provisioning and wandered around the town. Marmaris town is not an inspiring place however the marina restaurant has the best steak in the Med. We were not disappointed.

Bayram is the Turkish public holidays celebrating the end of Ramadan, and like Easter in Australia, many Turkish folk take advantage of the 3 official days and take an extended break. Meaning, the number of boats on the water increased dramatically. After leaving Yacht Marin we sailed in light winds to Ekincek and we anchored in a bay opposite while Qi went to My Marina to say farewell to Terri’s family. Over at our bay we anchored with other Turkish yachts who no doubt were out enjoying Bayram.

We sailed, motored and cursed the long haul from Ekincek to Gocek Limani. The promised wind out to sea never eventuated and we lurched in the uncomfortable swell. This stretch of water continually gives us grief and the sea is always lumpy. Arriving at Gocek Limani we were greeted by crowded bays. The Turks were out and about. We finally squeezed into Sasala bay and settled for two nights. We fell into the routine of alternating visits between Qi and Epicurios, sharing meals and drinks, a pattern we have followed over the ensuing weeks. On Sunday 9 we motored into the Gocek bay to anchor to go to the weekly market for provisioning. That day the Bayram holiday period finished and the bays cleared significantly allowing us to seek a beautiful anchorage at Haman bay for three nights. Here we spotted land tortoises on a walk around to the local restaurant. Speaking of which, we have seen quite a few turtles, which is a relief.

While here we also went ashore to take in the vista while doing some walks around the bay and up over the hill to another bay.

On our last night in Gocek we met Qi in Boynuzku Koya, another favourite of ours and had fine dining on sea bream that Terri had purchased that day in Gocek. The following day we sailed across to Fethiye on a reach in 12/14 kts in flat waters. This was champaign sailing at its best with Qi just pipping Epicurios and John and Stuart grinning ear to ear.

We anchored two nights in Fethiye harbour having had four attempts to anchor in the sludgy mud. Very embarrassing. Terri and John shared with us their favourite restaurants, one at the fish market and the other called Mozaik. Both were fabulous but the fish market was a highlight. There are several fish mongers where you select your seafood and then it is cooked at one of the restaurants around the market. We had delightful prawns, calamari and rock sea bass cooked at a small family restaurant just outside the fish market. It was in Fethiye that we spied the Mexican super yacht Mayan Queen filling its fuel tanks. There were at least 6 tankers lined up along the wharf!

Unfortunately the anchorage was polluted so we upped anchor and motored around to Karacaoren, near St Nicholas island. This anchorage is remote and beautiful and served by a restaurant run by a young couple and a favourite of ours. The following day we motored a short distance to Gemili Adasi (St Nicholas island) where once again we witnessed the chaos of loud tourist boats and water activities.

Kalkan was our next stop after motoring for 31nm and Stuart wrestling with the forward toilet unblocking it! Salt water reacts with uric acid to deposit scale on the pipes which eventually blocks the pipe. Enough said, but you can imagine how Stuart felt after 3.5 hours. People think yachting is glamorous! Taking the advice from John, we now add HCl, which can be bought in supermarkets as a toilet cleaner, to dissolve the scale build up. Hopefully it will not occur again.

We squeezed into Kalkan harbour, which now has only a few berths for transit yachts. We had not been to Kalkan since 2001 and had few memories of the place. We ate at another favourite of Terri’s and John’s called Coriander, located up the hill. Yummy slow cooked lamb shanks. Suffice to say, we left Kalkan the next day, having had a noisy night and very loud call to pray, and again motored to Bucak Deniz, Kas.

We anchored off the marina for two nights and walked in to town and swam and shared meals on our respective yachts. We decided to stay another night so we could go to the Kas market on Friday. We stayed at the marina while Qi went to the town key. We ate at Smileys, another yachty favourite, only to leave disappointed thinking that it may have changed hands. Kas is still a delight and the market a gem with excellent gozleme for breakfast.

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For the past two nights we have been anchored at Polemos Buku in Kekova limani. Yesterday we walked over the ridge to visit Lycian ruins and tombs. Extraordinary, you just walk along a track and there they are, no signs or interpretation, and you can swim over the remains of the harbour. Just another Turkish surprise!  The plan is to hang around this area for the next few days, then see what happens. Weather has now really warmed up, but the wind is very benign. Last night we ate at Yoruk Ramazan at the end of the bay. A simple but delicious affair of fat chips, tomato salad and freshly caught fish on the grill. We even took our own wine, our first Turkish BYO.