Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Friday, 26 June 2015

Into the Sea of Marmara, and onwards to Istanbul

A very wet crew, en route up the Dardanelles
Having waited for the wind to abate, to allow us to make the passage up the Dardanelles without fighting current and strong winds, it duly did; only to be replaced by periods of torrential rain! The passage up the Dardanelles was made hugging the southern shore as tightly as we could to keep out of the worst of the current, which reached 4+ kts at some of the headlands, thus reducing our speed over ground to 1.5 kts. A crawl! We had departed in the early morning in the hope of escaping the Straits in the one day however the rain and grey skies sapped our resolve and we finally put into the harbour at Lapseki to seek shelter from the rain by retiring below and to pass the night. This was the same refuge I had used four years earlier but in the intervening period the depths in the harbour had reduced through silting and we were forced to anchor relatively near the entrance for fear of going aground a second time this season; as it was we encountered 2.1m, only 0.1 metres more than our draft!
Entrance to Lapseki
The night in Lapseki was tranquil and the morning bright. The only thing lacking was wind! Having motored all the previous day (beating up the Dardanelles, against the foul current, in the pouring rain, for some reason held no attraction!) we were keen to get under sail again but it was not to be. We motored out into the Sea of Marmara in a flat calm, and so it was for the rest of the day. Our aim was to reach the Pasalimani Islands and seek an anchorage there, and after 7.5 hours and 41 miles covered we anchored off the SW coast of Avsa Adasi, only to discover that the bay we had chosen was too deep close in to allow us the necessary swinging room, hence we upped anchor again and moved round to the SE side of the island where we found a delightful anchorage off Kumburnu Limani.
Dawn mist at Avsa Adasi
After a peaceful night and an early morning swim we sailed off the anchor and headed into the sound at Pasalimani. The western entrance is now marked by port and stbd hand buoys as well as an Isolated danger mark on the small group of rocks just inside the entrance. With the wind dying away yet again we finally motored the last mile or so into an anchorage on the western side of the sound, adjacent to Koyun Adasi. With no wind and little else to do we passed a pleasant afternoon relaxing in the bay, swimming and sunbathing. As evening approached we motored across the bay and went stern to on the northern side of the redundant ferry pier. Although close in, and with less than 3m depth, it was safe enough to allow us to proceed ashore for dinner in the only restaurant in the village, sitting out on their boat pier, watching the sun set, over the water. The meal, salad and grilled fish, was simple but good and very inexpensive even including two bottles of very passable local wine (the proprietor seemed not to possess a corkscrew, the corks were pushed into the bottle – he obviously does not sell much wine!). On our return to the boat we discovered that the breeze had shifted direction, bringing one of the local boats, on a very slack mooring, too close for comfort. For this reason we pulled off the jetty at midnight and anchored a short way out, opposite the Jandarma (Military Police) station. Safe for tonight then!
Kurukulla on the redundant ferry pier at Pasalimani
Next morning we dropped Christoph back on the jetty to procure some fresh bread and attempt to get a gas bottle filled. Sadly neither was possible, the baker had not yet started baking and the gas (hardware) shop did not have the necessary fittings to fill European Gaz bottles. Having retrieved him from the jetty we set off north to a bay at the north-eastern end of the sound for a relaxing lunch and to await some wind. By 1500 there was a slight breeze and so we set off for the south coast of Pasalimani via the channel to the east that separates it from the Kapidag Peninsula. By 1900 we were anchored in a bay, at the bottom of a delightful green valley, near the SE corner of Pasalimani. Another quiet night!
With less than 48 hours to go to Melvin's departure we decided that it would be wise to plan for him to leave from Erdek and take a taxi to Bandirma, only 5 miles away by land but on the other side of the isthmus that connects the Kapidag Peninsula to the mainland, hence 35 miles by sea! For this reason we spent the following day sailing in the waters between Pasalimani and Erdek but going nowhere in particular, ending up anchored in the NW corner of the bay, at Ocaklar, 4 miles away from Erdek town. From here it was an easy hop next morning, in the flat calm, to motor into Erdek.
Alongside the "Aqua nightclub", Erdek
The town quay at Erdek is mostly occupied by small local boats and hulks used as floating bar/restaurants. We were fortunate to be able to squeeze in between a local yacht and the small jetty, on the opposite side of which was the latest floating bar, “Aqua”, being prepared for its opening. The refit was in full swing but they broke off to take our lines and were very happy for us to connect into their electricity supply as well. Their plan was to open two days later but there was still much to be done! After lunch ashore Melvin departed in his taxi and Christoph and I set off to procure victuals from the local shops; that done we settled for an evening in Erdek and decided on a relatively early departure the following morning.
Sunset looking from Koyun Adasi towards Avsa Adasi
In the event it was 1000 when we let go our lines and set off for an anchorage on the W side of Koyun Adasi, a deserted bay that I had sighted on my previous visit in 2011 but had not had time to research. By 1830 that evening, after a day of drifting at 1 – 2 knots, we were anchored in the intended bay and enjoying a G&T or two, supper and a spectacular sunset; all in that order. In the event it was a delightful anchorage, that is if you can ignore the ever present jelly fish that are in the Sea of Marmara in their millions; they are wherever you look.
Ever present jelly fish!
Eventually you get used to brushing against them as you swim but the sensation takes some getting used to! Uggh! On a more positive note there also seem to be many more dolphins this year, in both the Aegean Sea and Sea of Marmara; hardly a day has gone past, since leaving Marmaris, without at least one sighting of a pod and frequently there have been several sightings in a day.
Becalmed in the Pasalimani Islands
Our plan was to leave next morning, as soon as there was any wind, and this we did at 1130, ghosting out of the bay on a very light westerly breeze, it lasted all of 15 minutes! Between 1200 and 1600 we covered all of 400m! A slight southerly current (0.2 kts) offset any gains we made in moving north! Eventually we gave in and started the engine and motored east, along the north coast of the Kapidag Peninsula looking for a suitable bay for the night. We settled upon a small but delightful bay just 800m east of Turan. We had it to ourselves, that is if you don't count the very few vehicles negotiating the unmade road halfway up the surrounding escarpments.
Kurukulla anchored in a small bay just W of Ormanli Burnu
This bay was paradise but sadly the beach was saturated with plastic rubbish. It is hard to believe that in the 50 years since mass produced plastic was invented we have managed to fill so many of the world beaches with plastic refuse! It cannot go on like this! At least glass sinks and eventually returns to sand when carelessly abandoned on a beach!
The never ending plastic debris
Next day we had a relaxing day of sun and swimming, enjoying the tranquillity, before setting out eastwards again at 1600. As our luck would have it the cooling onshore breeze that we had enjoyed all day, instead of getting stronger as the afternoon went on, faded away leaving us no option but to motor again along the coast heading for either Cakilkoy, a fishing harbour at the eastern end of the Kapidag Peninsula, or the islands just off the end of the headland known as the Mola Adalari. As we approached the islands clouds developed very quickly and for the last quarter mile we suddenly had winds of 25 kts but only for 15 minutes, but the time we had anchored in a bay on the leeward side of the largest of the islands we were back to a flat calm! Exactly the same as the weather we awoke to next morning!
At 0900 we weighed anchor and ghosted away from the island setting course to the east, close hauled on port tack, intending to cover a least half of the distance to Istanbul. By 1030 we had had to resort to motor sailing as the wind, what there was, had chosen to back round to the W and hence we were now going downwind in 3 – 4 knots of true wind, hardly quick progress, and we had 35 miles to go! I got worse! By 1400 we had had to roll up the genoa, haul the mainsail in to the centreline and we were motoring along in a flat calm. Eerie! Only in the last two hours of a eight hour passage, did a gentle breeze appear from the NNW, allowing us to dispense with the engine for the final stages into Armutlu where we anchored off the rather touristy beach; an anchorage tenable in northerly winds or a calm; and where we settled down for a relaxing, if less than tranquil, evening.
Armutlu waterfront and static windmills
On the hillside behind the beach were numerous static monuments to Turkeys race to generate power from the wind, I hope the populous, living in the functional but rather characterless blocks of flats fronting the beach, remember to switch off their air conditioning on stifling but windless days like today!
The next day was a fairly gentle passage starting with ghosting around the headland at Boz Burun and then eastwards along the south shore of the Sea of Marmara towards Yelova Marina where we planned to spend the first few days of the sojourn in and around Istanbul.
Yalova marina
Yelova is a relatively new marina and probably the cheapest available with good ferry links to the city. There are direct and inexpensive ferries to Pendik on the Asian side of Istanbul and Atakoy on the European side. The marina proved to be a quiet location but with good facilities and at €50 per night we were not complaining.
After four days in the marina and doing the tourist trek in Istanbul each day we were getting itchy feet and so set off for a night at anchor in the Princes Islands. The anchorage at Cam Limani, on the island of Heybeliyada, is one of the best sheltered in this part of the Sea of Marmara and for this reason is popular with visitors and locals alike but on this occasion, given the rather unseasonal weather, there was plenty of room. After a brisk close reach across from Yalova, averaging 7 knots, we anchored in the bay and settled for a quiet night onboard. This was the penultimate day onboard for Christoph, my crew for the last 6 weeks, so we settled down to supper onboard and a bottle or two of wine.
The next day we sailed off the anchor and headed across to Pendik marina from where Christoph could easily get a taxi to Istanbul Sabiha airport at 0600 the following morning. All went as planned and I am now back to being single handed for a few days. Back to the Princes islands tomorrow!
More on departure from Istanbul.............
Sunset at Pendik marina

Old Istanbul

Hagia Sophia

Self at Orient Express Restaurant, Istanbul Stn
Taksim Square

Topkapi Palace entrance

Inside the Harem, Topkapi Palace

Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Ayvalik to Canakkale – Into the Dardanelles

Departing Ayvalik, the marker we just cleared on the way in!
On departing Ayvalik we decided to spend two nights in the Ayvalik archipelago, a good decision. The wind was in the NW and there seemed little point in battling to windward when there were some delightful anchorages to be explored in the islands here. Sailing out of the Ayvalik Limani through the narrow channel was not an option with the wind in this direction and so we opted for the engine for the first part of the trip. In the end we motored all the way to our overnight anchorage in Poroselene, preferring to motor to windward and arrive before darkness rather than try to sail there, arriving after sunset.
Panorama of Poroselene bay, Ayvalik archipelago
The anchorage is delightful; the hills on the islands were lush and green and the anchorage had some of the appearance of a Scottish loch. It was warmer though! For the first night we anchored on the western side of this bay, intending to move round to Patricia Limani next morning; however, on waking to a NE wind next day we changed plan and simply moved across the bay to the NW side and anchored off a delightful, long, sandy beach there; much more protected in this wind than Patricia Limani.
Poroselene Bay, Ayvalik archipelago, at sunset
After two days here we sailed off the anchor and set off for Sivrice, a large bay on the southern coast of Turkish peninsula, facing south towards the Greek Island of Lesbos. This bay, although open to the south, is a good stop on this coast with winds from the N. By 1700, after a mixture of sailing and motoring, we had anchored in the bay; about three boats lengths from a single orange mooring buoy in the eastern end of the bay. A quick swim to check our anchor had set properly, confirmed that it was in light weed but seemed to have dug in well enough. The mooring looked decidedly dodgy with a rather decrepit rope attached to the buoy and tied to the centre of the stock of an old anchor, lying on its side, on the bottom. We were to discover the significance of this mooring when we were woken by the siren of a small Coastguard launch, at 0200, when they came in off patrol. They insisted we were too near their mooring and insisted we move, despite the fact that we were actually longer than they were and there was ample clearance. We did move, all of 50m. By the time we awoke at 0800 they were already gone, so I have no idea how long they remained on the mooring, but I would not have wanted to trust Kurukulla to it.
From Sivrice we sailed off the anchor and enjoyed a splendid beam reach to the headland at Baba Burnu, noting as we passed that the harbour at Babakale was now enlarged and was accommodating several yachts of our size (12m) or larger; if we had known that it was an option we would have elected to pass the night there, a much more interesting looking town.
On passing the headland the wind rapidly veered by 180 deg and increased to 25kts, it was going to be a long beat from here to our next port of call, Bozcaada, now 20 miles to windward! In the event, after the first few tacks, the wind continued to veer and we eventually laid the course to the south coast of the island of Bozcaada on starboard tack.
Panorama of Bozcaada S coast
By 1630 we were close enough to the coast to drop the sails and motor the last 500m into an anchorage off a beach at the eastern end of the southern shore. Because of the preponderance of off-lying rocks near the shore we elected not to sail into the anchorage and finally anchored in 6m, 100m from the shore! Along the line of the beach there was a quite nasty rocky shelf up to 40+ m from the sandy shoreline, one to watch out for if anchoring here.
Bozcaada castle
After a night and a day in the anchorage, in the evening of the second day, we decided to move the 6miles into the harbour at Bozcaada and to do a tour of the castle and town.
Street restaurants of Bozcaada
Having been a military island for much of its recent history Bozcaada is only just discovering its tourist potential. The town is delightful, with a really well preserved Genoese Castle. Well worth a visit.
Departing Bozcaada
Having delayed our departure in order to fit in a tour of the castle we finally departed Bozcaada harbour at 1030 the following day and set off for the Dardanelles. With the wind on the nose, a foul current and time pressing we took the easy option and motored to windward, being put to shame by two French registered yachts, well ahead of us, beating stoically to windward.
Canakkale marina, on a grey day
Needless to say we overtook them but not before they had put on an impressive challenge, the strong currents of the entrance to the Dardanelles finally carried them into the distance behind us.
ANZAC Memorial, N of ANZAC Beach

Canakkale marina, on a grey day
Our intention was either to anchor in the bay at Anit Limani, under the British and Turkish war memorials, or to head on up to the Marina at Canakkale. In the event the strong, NE, winds decided us that Canakkale was the better option. The tour of the battlefields would have to wait. After 7 hours and only 28 miles to windward we moored up in the marina at Canakkale to await Mervyn, the next joining crew member, who was due to join pm the next day. With the winds forecast to blow 40+ kts, directly down the straits, we abandoned plans to sail early on the Sunday morning and settled for a battlefield tour instead.
Australian Memorial
The words of comfort by Ataturk
Unknowingly we had booked the “ANZAC tour” and found ourselves visiting many of the ANZAC landing beaches, monuments and cemeteries containing many of the the 8200 Aus and 2700 NZ soldiers who died there but not seeing any of the French or British (UK) positions, nor the Turkish or British (UK) memorials.
The landing bays at Suvla viewed from The Nek
Needless to say the tour guide, playing to the crowd, was keen to reinforce the Australian and New Zealand perspective that the heavy fighting was all done by the ANZACs', not quite the full story.
NZ Memorial
We were not shown any of the many cemeteries in the southern end of the peninsula where the graves are predominantly of the 34,000 UK soldiers who died in the Gallipoli campaign. That said the casualty figures have to be taken in perspective when considering the relative population sizes of the countries involved. Overall, at the end of the campaign, the Turks had lost slightly more people than all of the allies combined!
Trench warfare display at the waterfront, Eceabat
Our plan is to leave early on Monday morning when the winds are due to have abated. More when we are underway again.