With Melvin, Nick and Keith safely embarked we finally departed Celebi marina late on the Sunday afternoon, having filled the boat to bursting point with victuals, done battle with the bureaucracy to update the cruising permit and overcome the unplanned closure of the marina fuelling jetty by hiring a taxi and carting three 25Ltr jerry cans of diesel from the local petrol station.
It being too late to head for the next safe port of call along the coast we settled for anchoring and swimming in the shelter of a small island just south of the marina. Interestingly it was also the preferred anchorage for one of the night disco boats who arrived at 2200, making a close pass down our stbd side, and then continued to serenade us until 0200 when it left again, this time with a little more clearance!
We departed at 0900 the next morning in a slight southerly breeze.
|Waterfront at Side|
Our first stop was in the very small and ancient harbour at Side; site of the ancient city of Selimiye. A real tourist town in the most part but bursting with antiquity. The ruins, amphitheatre and museum were all worthy of a visit and hence we stayed a full 24 hours departing late the next afternoon. The town seems to exist for German and Russian tourists but that did not stop every restaurateur propositioning us as we walked through the town; they all own the best restaurant in town with the freshest fish!
|Riverbank restaurant at Manavgat|
From Side we motored the five miles along the coast to the river at Manavgat where a river enters via a small canalled section and is navigable for about 4 miles upstream. We turned at the low bridge, which was blocking our way at this point, and decided to moor up at the only restaurant on the river bank, where we were berthed outboard of a French boat; onboard were a very sociable family and our whisky stocks took another hammering! The only problem was the occasional grockle boat passing too close and too fast, good fenders were essential! Next morning the French were leaving at 0600 so we had to haul off to let them out; in the process reducing the overhang on the trees as I backed Kurukulla's mast gently into the branches, not having seen them! I don't function that well at that time in the morning and besides they were behind the bimini, out of sight! At a slightly more sociable hour we too departed exiting the river and heading east again, sailing on the wind, for Alanya.
The majority of the coastline between Antalya and Alanya is heavily commercialised with more than it's fair share of massive hotel blocks; mostly built in the modern, tasteless, fashion. Alanya is no exception but it does have wonderful fortifications and the most complete arsenal where ancient ships were hauled for repair, all very impressive.
|Castle at Alanya|
|Alanya from the castle|
At Alanya we were able to berth on the public pier, at no cost, assisted by some very welcoming fishermen. The berth was well protected and directly alongside the Coastguard berth so security should be fair, not that crime is a worry in most parts of Turkey. That evening was spent wandering the town and familiarising ourselves; this was followed, the next morning, by a tour of the castle. “Discretion being the better part of valour” we declined the opportunity to climb the ramparts, in 40 deg C, and took a taxi to the top and back. On completion we breakfasted in a local restaurant and then set off for Yakacik, an anchorage some distance down the coast.
From Alanya eastwards the coastline changed from unending hotels to unending banana plantations; this coast must provide the entire banana crop for Turkey! Yakacik is a relatively open anchorage but by following the recommendation in Heikell and anchoring in a small bay near a “wooden”, now concrete, hut on a rock, we were able to have a very pleasant and quiet night including a midnight swim in the most amazing phosphorescence.
|Kurukulla anchored off Anemerium|
|Aquaduct at Anemerium|
Next morning it was off again eastwards to the anchorage under the ancient city of Anemurium, one of the most complete ruins I have seen so far. A massively impressive city with many parts complete up to the second storey including the ancient baths, odeon (theatre like meeting hall), and gymnasium and all with remnants of the original mosaic floors. All this surrounded by the ancient dwellings and the usual mass of sarcophagi! The anchorage here is open to the east and by mid afternoon it was time to leave with the onshore wind setting up nan uncomfortable sea, but a place not to be missed nonetheless.
Our next overnight port was only an hour to the north east, Bozyazi. Here the government constructed a ferry port to serve Northern Cyprus but like so many things on this coast it now lies virtually unused save by the Coastguard and a few local fishermen. We berthed stern to on the main jetty alongside the only other two boats there. A Dutch couple and an ex Army WO and his wife who live in Cyprus and spend their summers cruising in their motorboat. Bozyazi had very little to offer other than secure berthing and a welcoming population. Melvin and Nick were due to leave from here and after a few nervous moments next morning their taxi duly arrived only 25 minutes late! Fortunately they had allowed plenty of time. Later in the morning Keith and I set off to find a supermarket but after a walk of 45minutes we had found only a small local store. We decided this would have to do as the temperatures were already 35 deg and it was only 1000! A taxi back to the boat was essential.
|Soguksu Limani at sunset|
From here we cruised further along the coast to the anchorage at Soguksu Limani, which literally translates as Cold-water Bay. The river that runs into the northern part of the bay brings meltwater from the mountains, hence it's temperature. We sailed in, dropped anchor in 5m in the northerly, smaller, bay and enjoyed a cool refreshing swim; still surrounded by greenhouses and banana plantations! The bay is also the Turkish end of the water supply pipeline that feeds Northern Cyprus hence a significant part of the water that used to flow into the bay now finds its way to Cyprus!
The water embarkation platform and buoys in the entrance to the bay referred to by Heikell have now been removed, stand-fast one buoy, since the completion of the pipeline.
Next morning we sailed relatively early to try to catch the last of the offshore breeze and set course for the anchorage at Ovacik, surrounded by the ruins of the city of Afrodisias. This was a surprise! Described as a relatively deserted bay, ruins and a restaurant that opened occasionally in summer we arrived to find a thriving holiday resort, designed in good taste if that is possible, built around a wonderful sheltered anchorage. Not spoilt but also not tranquil!
|"Peaceful bay" at Ovacik|
|The best preserved of the castles at Kizkalesi|
The following day we sailed on again to the next anchorage on our list, Akyar Burun. This is a collection of three bays, some more protected than others, but we had arrived during the Bayram holiday, a three day festival marking the end of Ramadan, and the whole world was afloat in their boats or dining in the restaurants/camp-sites that lined the edges of the inlets! The consequence was we opted for the least protected but also least crowded bay and had a night of rocking and rolling! Not so bad as to prevent sleep though! Given the motion the next morning was perforce an early start! By staying close to the coast for the first two miles we got a good look at the twin castles at Kizkalesi, both of which are very well preserved but the southerly one particularly so. Unfortunately the anchorage was untenable for the breakfast stop we had intended. Hence we carried on.
|Kum Kuyu marina|
|Diner at the Pelican restaurant|
The next port of call was to be Kum Kuyu, a brand new, never commissioned marina, which had the semblance of a ghost town. It has been built by the government in preparation for privatisation and never sold. We were greeted by an enthusiastic security guard who informed us in broken English that we could not stay … unless we had an electrical problem we had to fix. Needless to say we immediately discovered an problem that was going to take us 24 hours to fix! We were one of only four boats in the marina and one of those was on the hard standing! Nearby was a camping ground overflowing with families still celebrating the end of Ramadan. It was very enjoyable just taking a stroll through the area and meeting so many happy people, enjoying some freshly made local food and partaking in a drink or two. All part of a great experience. Dinner was at the adjacent Pelican Restaurant and then next day we set off for Mersin at 1100, not a long distance but done in a flat calm; a boring motor.
|Mersin marina on departure at 0600|
Whilst at Ovacik we had been warned off the small harbour in the “Old town” of Mersin and recommended to go to the new marina. This was good advice, a later visit on foot to the old port showed it to be crowded, and the water was filthy. We arrived in Mersin at 1630 and were greeted by a highly efficient team in a modern, well equipped marina; the only problem was that it was virtually empty! Not quite as bad as Kum Kuyu, but almost. It obviously survives on the commercial revenue from the extensive array of shops, bars and restaurants inside the confines of the marina. That evening we dined ashore in an ethnic local “restaurant” and ate very well. Much to the amusement of the staff with whom we had one minor phrase of any language in common, “tessekur ederim” = “thank you”. Next day Keith departed for UK and I set about the task of organising myself for departure west. Organising the boat is easy, getting stores, water etc onboard. Battling with bureaucracy not so. My first attempt to register the change to my crew list was met with an assurance from the authorities that I did not need to do so; obviously I knew the rules better than they did! The instructions with the Transit Log make it very plain that all changes must be registered! A second attempt, including a second call to the harbour-masters office in the commercial port, produced the same result. Not to be defeated Tuna, the director of the marina, and I set off to call on the harbourmaster's team. On arrival the problem was obvious, a useless functionary, seated in his air conditioned office and determined to be as unhelpful as he could. After an hour of watching him idly fiddling with his computer, accessing Kurukulla's records, Tuna lost his patience and even though Tuna had also accessed the necessary elements of the record via another computer the functionary still refused to authorise the changes. We departed frustrated and angry, Tuna in particular as he saw this as reflecting very badly on Turkey, his country. The final result was that no change was made and I will have to do battle with the team in Alanya on the return leg! We will see what happens.
On the final night I returned to the same restaurant as the night before and was greeted like a long lost friend. A meal for 15YTL, equivalent of £5.50 and mineral water and endless “cay”, i.e. tea, thrown in.
This morning it was a 0600 departure to try to catch the offshore breeze, no luck. As I write this we are motoring along in a flat calm, heading south-west.
More from Alanya in a few days ….............