Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Friday, 29 July 2011

Finally in Istanbul

Supper at Erdek
Erdek was a great place. No sooner were we stern to the town quay than a helpful local was connecting us to power and supplying us with water! From here we set off ashore to research a place for a cold draft beer and a meal for the evening. The former was soon found, the latter took a bit more research and even then was good but not great. The town and waterfront more than made up for the mediocre food though. Next morning we set about doing some victualling in the local supermarket and then sailed after lunch for the Pasalimani Islands again.
Anchored at Pasalimani

This time we entered the anchorage at Pasalimani, via the western entrance, under sail and dropped anchor off the hamlet of Pasalimani. A very small collection of houses with a single restaurant (where we had lunch the following day), a bakery and a tiny general store; plus of course the mandatory mosque! As we anchored on the verge of sunset it was supper onboard and then a trip ashore next day to research the locality. During our stroll we were given cucumbers by a lady in a burqa, who just happened to be walking in the opposite direction, and almost not allowed to pass the local bakery without entering to inspect their bread, which we of course felt obliged to buy!
Waterfront at Pasalimani
We concluded our visit with lunch in the only restaurant and a promise to the owner to visit again on the return passage.
Quarries at Saraylar, north coast of Marmara Island
From here we sailed off the anchor and headed for the north shore of the island of Marmara, a desolated place with horrendous (if impressive) marble quarries adorning most of its north coast, rather reminiscent of the china clay quarries of Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. En route we had a close encounter with a 750 ton Turkish ferry who, on meeting us “head to head” at a headland, insisted on altering course to port (contrary to international regulations) and squeezing between us and the land, 50ft clearance either side, all at 15 knots, amazing what risks some of these supposedly professional seafarers will run just to avoid an extra 20 – 30 yards of distance run. That night we anchored in Saraylar, on the eastern side of the harbour, with supper onboard and then Mike and Melvin went for a brief walk ashore. They described it as a mining town full of immigrant workers from the south of Turkey. Not a great run ashore.
Marina at Guzelce
Next morning it was off, northwards, across the shipping separation scheme, to Marmara Eregli; an oil port on the north shore of the Sea of Marmara. The bay was dominated by a large oil terminal and a storage / refining facility ashore. In the NNW corner we found a suitable place to anchor, and went ashore for a beer and supper in a rather temporary looking wooden bar/café behind the adjacent beach. The food was better than expected though and we finally returned onboard well after sunset. Not a scenic place but welcoming all the same.
Naval Academy in the Princes Islands
Next day we made a passage to Guzelce Marina, described as being on the outskirts of Istanbul but in reality 20 miles to the west. A rather desolate place with little to recommend it other than its price, 65TFL (£26) an night as opposed to the €66 (£60) .a night we were later to pay in Atakoy Marina nearer the city. From here we decided to visit the Princes Islands; these are just outside the southern end of the Bosphorus. The islands are evidently the millionaires playground for Istanbul. We ghosted in at around sunset and anchored in a bay on the south coast of Heybeliada, in the shadow of the Turkish Naval Academy, between several super yachts. We were subsequently to spent the night listening to their generators, after all, how else do you keep all your upper-deck and under-water lighting on all night? Not great but the water was clean enough to swim and the anchorage well protected.
Fantastic houses on the Asian side of the Bosphorus

The following morning we set sail early, cruised between the islands and finally entered the Bosphorus. After the first two miles we were forced to resort to the engine, lack of space outside the shipping separation scheme, foul current and contrary winds all led to slow progress but we did get halfway to the Black Sea before turning back and a very enjoyable trip it was too.
The Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia
We attempted to anchor at Bebek, on the west bank, for lunch but almost as soon as we had convinced ourselves that the anchorage was tight but tenable in amongst all the other boats moored there, the current changed direction and we found ourselves far too close to adjacent boats so it was a delayed lunch and a rapid departure. That evening we arrived in Atakoy Marina where we were to meet up again with Camilla and her crew, although our paths were not to cross before the next morning. This had something to do with their mid evening return from the city centre, 2 hours after our departure, and our return at 0600. Istanbul is an all night city and full of life but................. when will I ever learn that all night runs ashore are for 16 year old's not 61 year old's! Needless to say the hangover wore off a few hours into the next day.
Panorama of Bebek
We have now been in Atakoy, doing the tourist bit, for four days; Mike and Melvin have now departed for UK and Steve Keley has joined; he is now in Kurukulla for the next three months having taken a sabbatical from work. The plan is to leave tomorrow and revisit the Princess Islands before returning on the 1st / 2nd to pick up the Croziers (a friend from school days and his family) from Atakoy.
Istanbul by night
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque
Supper at the local fish market
More once they are onboard.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

On to Istanbul

Canakkale marina and the Turkish commemoration
Clock Tower, Canakkale

Batteries for Camilla in Canakkale there were not but Mike Kear and Melvin Parkinson joined Kurukulla, as planned, on the morning of Tuesday the 12th; thus it was that we finally left Canakkale in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 0400 to be precise, in order to take advantage of the lighter early morning winds. Sailing against wind and current was out of the question and so we motored upstream, staying in the shallows to avoid the worst of the current. By 0830 we were anchored in the harbour at Lapseki and passed a lazy day resting and sunning.
Sunset parade at Lapseki
Camilla arrived an hour and a half later just as the winds started to bite, they were somewhat less keen on the early start!
Happy skipper, beer in hand.
Next morning was a similar routine only this time we opted for a 0600 start, again leaving Camilla to catch up later. Our objective was Karabiga, inside the Sea of Marmara, some 40 miles away but again upwind. We motored for the first hour and a half and then, once clear of the Dardanelles, we set a full main and the No 2 genoa, it having been rigged whilst we were in Canakkale. After four hours we were overtaken by Camilla motoring at full power into wind and at 1700 we joined them alongside in Karabiga to be regaled with their stories of having hit a rock at 6 knots whilst trying to find a suitable anchorage for lunch! A quick inspection of her keel-bolts and a later dive on the outside revealed that no movement or serious damage was visible; lucky! That evening, after supper in Kurukulla, we decided that the send in the harbour was making it too uncomfortable for the two boats to remain alongside each other and so we took Kurukulla out into the bay, in the shelter of the headland, and anchored for what proved to be a very comfortable night.
Swimming or diving in the Sea of Marmara is severely curtailed by the number of jelly fish, there are literally millions, and we have yet to find an anchorage which is not swarming with them. The locals seem very prepared to take their chances and swim amongst them but I have to say I am not so sure!
Our next destination was a bay on the south side of the island of Pasalimani Adasi, near Balikli.
Camilla close to leeward
This time Camilla lost patience with light wind sailing and motored on ahead whilst we sailed the distance. Their first attempt to anchor in our chosen bay was rebutted by a group of ladies in burqas who invited them to leave, presumably a women only beach! We joined them at an adjacent beach a couple of hours later. This time it was supper in Camilla followed by a film, “Mrs Dalloway”, in Kurukulla.
The following day we sailed off the anchor and headed across the Marmara Bogasi (the strait separating Marmara Adasi from the mainland) to Topagac on the SE coast of Marmara Adasi. On the way we had some close tacking practice and a fun sail on the wind.
The port at Topagac, Marmara Adasi
The anchorage in the bay was somewhat open but given the benign conditions seemed suitable for the night, and so it proved.
Ocaklar on Kapidag peninsula
Next morning Camilla set off in the early hours for an earlier appointment in Istanbul and Kurukulla sailed back to the Kapidag Peninsula for lunch anchored in the bay at Ocaklar (the Brighton of this part of Turkey, but sandy); en route we had another encounter with a group of playful dolphins. From here it is onwards to Erdek for the night and supper ashore in a restaurant.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Down with one and up with the other.

NE end of Ornos Potamias; Camilla getting under-way.
Samothraki at dawn
Anit Limani light and the British (ANZAC) War Memorial
On Wednesday morning at 1000 I took advantage of the wind from the stern and sailed Kurukulla off the berth and out of Kallirakhis harbour. There followed a very pleasant 15 mile sail, taking me past Thasos town, to the NE end of Potomias bay; a delightful anchorage round the eastern side of the island. On arrival I put Kurukulla alongside Camilla who, because of the poor state of her batteries, had motored all the way and arrived earlier. The night was spent rafted up on Camilla's anchor and at 1000 next morning we got under-way for Samothraki, our last Greek island before entering Turkey. I departed first, under sail, leaving David to weigh anchor and follow on. Knowing his need to motor again (his batteries can barely sustain the domestic load of the fridge for a night!) he was soon to overtake me as I ghosted along in a very light NE breeze and flat sea. An hour or so later I also had to resort to the engine as the last of the wind died away to nothing. Eventually we teamed up again in the harbour at Kamariotissa on the island of Samothraki where we berthed just inside the new harbour wall along with a few other yachts waiting for a weather window to pass through the Dardanelles. Curry supper, early to bed and an 0600 start were the order of the day as we had 55 miles to do the next day to reach Canakkale, 12 miles up the Dardanelles. On departure two dolphins appeared briefly as if to wish us “good morning” us and send us on our way! The motoring start was soon surpassed by a building breeze and what developed into an excellent sail. Thus it was, as we passed between Samothraki (Gr) and Gokceada (T), again accompanied by dolphins; down came the Greek courtesy ensign for the first time in 10 weeks, and up went the Turkish.
Dodgems and the Turkish War Memorial

As we approached the entrance to the Dardanelles the wind started to increase significantly, as forecast, and it was down to a reefed main and several rolls in the genoa. Passing south of the ANZAC monument on the Gallipoli peninsula, I stowed the genoa and started the engine to facilitate crossing the shipping separation scheme; it was a matter of choosing your gap and going for it with five or six ships in view at any one time! Once on the Asian side of the straights it was a motor sail against wind and current but provided you kept to the edges in the shallower water reasonable progress could be made despite up to 3 knots of current against and 30 knots of contrary wind. Two and a half hours later, slightly damp but otherwise none the worst for the transit, we berthed, stern to, in Canakkale marina. With strong winds pushing onto the jetty this was almost the greatest challenge of the day! Next starts the bureaucratic nightmare of getting into Turkey. We were offered the services of an agent but at €350 for services that cost €150 we decided to decline the offer and do battle ourselves. It is rather like a form of treasure hunt.
Kurukulla and Camilla at Canakkale
First you need to find a source of the necessary documentation, called a transit log, these come from various shipping agents at 100TL (€44) a time. Once filled in (all 5 sheets!) you set off to find the Port Health Office to declare that you have no communicable diseases aboard and no one has died whilst on passage.
From there it is Immigration, which is five kilometres out of town, for an entry visa (€15 a head); next comes Customs, on the ferry quay in town, to confirm you are not running contraband; and the final stamp is from the Harbour Master to confirm you have paid your port dues! Each has to duly stamp and sign your transit log. Phew. Only a day wasted! At least we are now officially in Turkey. I now have to wait in peace for Mike and Melvin, my next crew, to arrive here on 12 July. The next challenge is the hunt for new batteries for Camilla. More when we leave.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

God and thunder.

Ak Psevdhokavos with Mount Athos in background
Anchored at Ornos Tsarki, Nissos Ammouliani, NW Akti
As planned we departed Koufos on Saturday, 2nd of July, and headed for an anchorage on Nisos Ammouliani, at the root of the Akti peninsula. With only a gentle breeze on the bow I sailed Kurukulla off the alongside berth and set off reasonably early, leaving Camilla to catch up later. The beat out through the entrance of the bay was great fun, after which I headed south to round Cape Psevdhokavos and then a 20 mile reach north, under spinnaker, to the anchorage. By the time I arrived at Nissos Ammouliani the southerly wind had freshened considerably but it was still possible to find shelter in Ornos Tsarki, a bay on the west side of the island with a beautiful sandy beach. You would expect a small island like this to be quiet, not a bit of it, hundreds of Greek holidaymakers and three competing bars all pumping out music at maximum volume. On the beach it must have been deafening, it was bad enough 100m offshore! Camilla arrived about half an hour later bringing with her the evening meal, it was David's turn to cook.
Xenofondos Coenobite Monastery
On the Sunday we set off at 0600 to do the seaborne tour of the 16 monasteries on the Akti peninsula. The southerly wind had not been replaced by an easterly as forecast and so we motored the first leg southwards in order to stay near the coast and get the best view. Many of the monasteries are spectacular but you are left to wonder what do they contribute to the church or society, all grouped together here and segregated from Greece, let alone the rest of the world? The architecture of many of them has much in common with Dartmoor Prison they are of similar size!
Simonopetra Coenobite Monastery

Our peaceful sightseeing was then interrupted by David motoring Camilla over to where I was, at high speed, to ask me what he should do as his tachometer had stopped working? A check of the fan belt showed all to be OK and then he found a lose wire on the regulator of the alternator (the alternator provides the input signal to the tachometer), with this reconnected it made no difference. The only choice was to shut the engine down and sail until I could get onboard and have a look and that was not going to be until we anchored that night. Hence we decided to continue our tour under sail. The wind had other ideas! As we rounded the southern tip of the Akti peninsula and Mount Athos the wind died to nothing and stayed that way for three hours. Camilla does not go well in light airs at the best of times and this was not the best of times as we had a slight swell rolling in spilling any breeze there was, making the sails flog. By 1600 it was obvious we either got Camilla under-way under her own power and risked writing off the alternator (if it was not already burnt out) or I took her in tow.
Camilla on tow with Mount Thasos in the background
Standby the storm!
For the next 7 hours Kurukulla and I towed her up the east side of the peninsula, through thunderstorms and calms, and made a night entry into Ormos Plati, on the NE side of the Akti peninsula. Officially we were not supposed to anchor here, it being within the confines of the peninsula special region but at midnight, on a moonless night, we did not expect anyone to object! The tow repaid David for his kindness last year in towing me in when my engine failed.
The sun re-appears at sunset!
The following morning I donned my overalls (figuratively speaking), moved Kurukulla alongside Camilla, and got to work! The old alternator was soon checked out in situ and then removed to dismantle; the problem was soon evident, three out of three diodes destroyed on one side and the other three looking as though they had been cooked! That was the end of that alternator! Fortunately David had his original, lower capacity, alternator onboard and so I set to and installed it. Started the engine.............nothing. No output. Further research identified that the supply from the start switch to provide the initial alternator field was not present so I rigged a jury rig, using a spare lamp as a resistance, and hey presto charging and a working tachometer. Next there followed a teach in on how to fire up the alternator with the jury rig on each occasion the engine was started. So far so good. By now most of the day had passed and so we decided to stay put and sail next morning. Supper of “Toad in the hole” followed by the film “My Fair Lady”, both in Kurukulla, finished the day.
Alongside at Kallirhakis at sunset.
Next morning we rechecked the charging ability and then set off but not before we had also set up the rigging in Camilla to try to make her perform rather better to windward, until now she has had the windward performance of Kon Tiki! Ten minutes after getting under way, which was just enough time to get Kurukulla under full sail, we were forced to return to the anchorage to free a jammed mainsail in the mast of Camilla (how I hate in mast furling). Second time lucky, we enjoyed a superb close reach the 25 miles across to Kallirakhis, inThasos, our next port of call. Very much improved from the diagram in the latest pilot. A modern small port with one and a half million Euros worth of new alongside berths, empty! Such is the generosity of the EU! On arrival we berthed the boats alongside each other and set off on a shopping expedition followed by supper ashore. All of which was very enjoyable and concluded in an internet café from which I am currently publishing this Blog.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Onwards and upwards.

Scrabble as evening entertainment in Kurukulla!

After a four days delay we left Skopelos town and headed north to the island of Alonnisos for Tuesday night. The passage was only six miles and, although a bit lumpy in the stretch between Skopelos and Alonnisos, once we were in the lee of Alonnisos it was plain sailing. The intended anchorage was Steni Vala in the centre of the east coast but on arrival it was obvious the better anchorage was in the bay 100m to the south where we swam, supped and spent a quiet night; or at least until 0600 when the wind got up again. At 1100 we set sail for the north end of the next island, Nisos Panayia where there is a large enclosed bay called Planitis, this was our intended anchorage for the night and departure point for the passage across to one of the three Khalkidhiki peninsulas; which one was to be decided by the wind direction. A midnight swim in the most amazing phosphorescence was the order of the moonless night!
In the event Thursday morning dawned bright and clear and we set off at 0545 in a very gentle westerly breeze. I sailed Kurukula off the anchor and crept out of the anchorage disturbing no one. It was 2 or 3 knots maximum until I got out of the lee of the island. Once clear the wind freshened and held for four hours giving a good start to the crossing, after which it died away and then filled in from the south allowing me to set the running spinnaker for the first time this year. As ever, getting it up is the easy part but getting it down represents the greater challenge; in the event all went well.
Under spinnaker
The most suitable destination turned out to be Koufos on Sinthonia, the middle of the three peninsulas. 
Entry to Koufos
The entry was spectacular, sailing through a gap in the cliffs, into a large enclosed bay and another superb anchorage. After an hour at anchor a space was created by another yacht departing from a berth alongside the town quay and we moved both Camilla and then Kurukulla alongside for the night.
Alongside in Koufos
The plan is to stay here tomorrow and then head to Mount Athos and the Akti peninsula to view the multitude of monasteries, from the sea, landing is not permitted without a permit which takes days to get, before heading for an overnight anchorage.