Sunday, 31 May 2009

Skyros - The Northern Sporades, Aegean Sea ..... May 2009

26-30 May 2009

***Mark on our racy red scooter with the Chora in the background***Skyros Town Chora from the sea side***Abandoned windmill converted into sleepy seaside taverna***loads of little churches***

We had an early start from Evstratios which is in the Eastern Sporades and headed almost due south 65 miles to Skiros (Skyros) which is in the Northern Sporades. Just how you go from east to north by heading south is somewhat beyond me but we did it. We had a steady northerly forecast, but as we are learning very quickly sailing around the Greek Islands you don't always get what you are forecast. We did however, have a good downhill ride for 50 or so miles, and honed our rusty skills (and equipment) at gybing the pole. Always good to do these things to keep the brain working and also all the lines, clips, springs, shackles and countless other things to play with while poling out the sails. As we approached Skyros the wind eased leaving a very messy sloppy sea so we motored for an hour to get in the lee of the island then it was off again in lovely flat water with winds from all directions, keeping us on our toes. It's a lovely island, pine clad slopes coming down to the waters edge and several small deserted bays to tuck into, we kept going around the south western point, through the tiny shallow straight between Skyros and Valaxa with depths of 3.6m (sails down at this point!!) and round into the bay just north of Linaria.

Linaria is a great little spot, there is a large ferry that goes from there to Kimi on Evia every day, a handful of tavernas and a couple of small hotels ashore and that is about all the activity. There is a tiny town wall, dusty and noisy as also being improved and with some rusty bits of scaffolding sticking horizontally into the water, designed specifically for puncturing innocent dinghies that might sidle up too close!! The interesting thing about the new town wall is that it is made of block marble, very upmarket. They obviously have more marble than rocks around these parts.

We hired a scooter for a day to visit the Chora at Skyros Town, which is set cascading down the hill under the hilltops ruins of a Venetian Castle. The tiny carless streets wind around in a maze and we should have taken our GPS with us so we could find the scooter again! We stopped to put €2 petrol in which filled the tank completely so decided to tour some more and use it up. Without a map we set off on a somewhat circuitous route, never actually sure where we were going but safe in the fact we were on an island so sooner or later should find our way back to somewhere familiar. Lets just say there isn't much of Skyros we haven't seen, sandy bays, an unfinished marina built in a ridiculous spot, amazing vista from hilltops so steep that I almost had to get off and walk, small vineyards tucked in valleys, and sadly much devastation through the forest from what looked to be recent fires. With over 70kms covered and just €1 more fuel we had a great day.

But it was time for Huey to throw in a curly one, with the forecast showing a short blast from the south to come through overnight for about 5 hours then back to light northerlies. We were totally exposed to the south, there wasn't enough room in the harbour for us so we did the prudent thing and lifted anchor about 6pm and motored 3 miles across the bay to a small indentation with great coverage from the south. Shortly after we anchored a small fishing boat came in and laid his nets behind us, never a good thing for a quick getaway if necessary but we took a bearing on them - just in case, and tucked up from the building southerly settled for the night ..... ah but not for long.

At midnight we awoke to things not sounding quite right and the moon was coming in the wrong window. Our 'on again - off again' wind instruments worked briefly and registered over 30knots, from the north, with 3 miles of fetch and we are on a lee rocky shore, now way closer in than we were comfortable with. It is surprising how quickly you can wake up, turn everything on, get the anchor up and navigate around fishing nets in the dark, when the other option is possibly "Balvenie on the Rocks", and I don't mean scotch and ice!!!! So a mini night excursion, first time in the dark since overnighting from Cyprus to Turkey last year, we followed our GPS track back to Linaria Bay, dropped anchor right where we had been hours earlier in flat water and light winds, had a stiff drink for medicinal purposes and after a while went back to bed. Next morning it was a case of "did that really happen???", but a quick look around the totally salt covered boat confirmed that we hadn't dreamed it.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -

Linaria Bay .. 38 50.82N 24 31.97E 11.5m sandy patches, easy to see bottom, good holding
Nikolaus Cove .. 38 47.73N 24 32.34E 10.5m sandy patches but lots of weed too. Holding maybe iffy, lots of weed on anchor when we pulled it up.
Internet - Linaria Bay Cafe on shorefront (closest to fuel station) had free wifi, have a drink and get the code. Large Mythos €3. Also another internet cafe around on road up to Port Police, not recommended €5 for small warm beer
Money - No ATM at Linaria, only at Skyros town
Provisions - A couple of small stores, much better in Skyros Town, excellent fruit, veg, bread and meat. Fuel station by dock - cash only no cards €1.04 per litre
Formalities - Port police up the hill. We took our transit log up, shouldn't have bothered. Charge on wall about €4 per night, think there was power and water

Sightseeing - Hired scooter from taverna right at harbour with Bike Hire sign €10, next to wifi cafe
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Into the Eastern Sporades, Aegean Sea, Greece ..... May 2009

22-27 May 2009

***Mark as King of the Castle, overlooking Myrina Harbour on Limnos***Still getting used to the Greek flags flying after 11 months in Turkey***The tiny harbour at Evstratos, from sea level and from the cemetery***

At last our spell of high winds abated, we checked out of Turkey, left the little marina at Canakkale (with many a less Liras!!!), and headed west down the Dardenelle Straits. With the current now with us, winds just aft of the beam and full sail up we flew across to Limnos. We clocked an all time high speed of 9.9knots, out in open flat water with a steady 15 knot Northeasterly pushing us on our way. You sure get there quicker doing those speeds but as we closed on Limnos (Lemnos) the winds eased as expected so we slowed down considerably. It is now not dark until just after 9pm so covering longer distances are achievable easily in daylight hours. We pulled into the large harbour of Moudhros, famous during WW1 as the hospital base for the Allied Forces, on the southern coast of Limnos for the night, just us and the seabirds in this deserted spot.

Next morning there was a slight Zephyr of a breeze so we had a very leisurely sail around to the main harbour of Myrina. They are doing roadworks along the quay, making it very dusty and noisy so instead of tying to the wall we dropped anchor in the bay amongst 6 other yachts. There are full check in facilities here so we checked into Greece and got our transit log. Myrina is an interesting little place, somewhat shut on Saturday, Sunday and during afternoon siesta (good for them) but it came alive on Monday morning. Small alleyways wind inland from the water and are filled with all sorts of interesting little stores and cafes, it has a really pleasant feel to it. The first holiday charter flight had also arrived in the weekend so it was the beginning of the tourist season but it felt mainly as though they were all locals.

There is a prominent rocky headland dominating the town, with ruins of a Genoese castle atop it, updated over the years by the Byzantines and Ottomans some of the walls and structures are in reasonable condition, its an easy climb up there and great view from the top all with free entry and unrestricted access.
Down in town they are digging up the back streets to put some pipes in. Looking down into the hole we were amazed to see ruins going down about 20 feet, a stone wall and archway from a previous time. Must be a nightmare every time they want to do anything, guess they have to get the archaeologists in first! We met up with some other cruising boats, Cosmos Mariner from Florida with Mary and Doug onboard, and Alchemy also from the USA with Dick and Ginger. It's always fun to meet new people and share stories and the odd sundowner or two.

From Limnos we started heading south, with light northerlies and flat seas we had a pleasant downwind sail to our first stop at the tiny village of Evstratios (Efstratios) on the island of Agios Evstratios. Almost totally devastated in an earthquake in 1968, The Rough Guide describes "that it must be one of the ugliest habitations in Greece". A somewhat harsh comment we felt, and although the new housing may not be as quaint as the ruined ones which clung to the hillside overlooking the tiny port, everyone has made an effort, they are all whitewashed buildings, some with the famous med blue trim, with overhanging vines and bougainvillea in full bloom. We had a walk up to the cemetery with a lovely vista over the harbour and right across to Mt Athos on the mainland, silhouetted by the sinking red sun. Then it was back down to a taverna on the harbour for our cheapest Greek drinks yet, a large (500ml) Mythos beer and a can of Sprite for €3. Back on Balvenie we sat next to the fishermen as they laboured away sorting and repairing their nets, seemingly a never ending task.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -
Limnos .. Ormos Kavos 39 51.02N 25 14.57E 5.0m sand patches of weed, open to south very slight roll. Nothing there
Limnos .. Myrina Harbour 39 52.34N 25 03.50E 7.5m sand holding hold. Quay would be good but very dusty and noisy with works, but no charge at mo. Dinghy to steps by little fishing boat entrance
Evstratios .. Harbour wall 39 32.39 24 59.21 2.3m side tied, we didn't touch but must have been very close! Really only room for 2 yachts, any more and would have to raft but not even much room for that. Can not use dock on inside of harbour wall or end of harbour wall as ferries come into both. No charge made but we didn't find any one to check in with.
Internet - No wifi onboard. Limnos Excite Internet Cafe right at harbour €2 p/h. Evstratios didn't see anything.
Money - Plenty ATM's Limnos, go inland a little. Evstratios nothing.
Provisions - Water and power on dock, not currently working at either. All food within 5 minutes walk Limnos, good selection and quality. Small store Evstratios. Fuel tanker not able to access dock currently
Formalities - Checked into Greece in Limnos. very easy. Coastguard and Customs in same building at west end of harbour wall. Coastguard charge €15 and Transit log from Customs was €40.

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Troy and the Trojan Horse, Canakkale ..... May 2009

17-21 May 2009

We came to Canakkale for two reasons. The first was to finally check out of Turkey after 11 months here, the second to visit the ancient site of Troy - the last major site we haven't been to. We caught the dolmus the 30 kilometres to Troy (Troia, Truva). This UNESCO World Heritage List site is relatively small but its 5000 year history and the tales woven about it make it an extremely interesting spot. First settled in 3000BC the ruins from this city are called Troy 1. It is placed on a 15 metre high mound, and was originally a port town ideally located at the entrance to the Dardenelles Straits. The harbour silted up over the centuries and the ruins now lie inland surrounded by a fertile valley. Over the very long history of the settlement it appears that during different periods a new Troy was built on top of the fallen Troys, either because of earthquakes, war or fire. Therefore there are 9 Troys, each interwoven into the previous one, the excavation work shows the different layers of stonework and materials throughout its interesting history. A completely different site to any of the others we have seen and well worth the visit.

Troy of course is also home to the legend of the Trojan Horse, originally told by Homer, many many moons ago. In short Priam was the king of Troy. His son Paris was asked by Zeus to judge the world's first beauty contest at Mt Ida. Aphrodite, Hera and Athena were the contestants and all tried to bribe Paris to name them as the winner. He chose Aphrodite who promised that the fairest woman in the world could be his. Paris left for Sparta to see Helen, then the fairest woman in the world. They fell in love and eloped back to Troy, Helen's husband Menelaus thought Paris had abducted Helen and was not too happy about this at all. He gathered his armies and attacked Troy, thereby starting the Trojan war which went for 10 years. Odysseus thought up a cunning plan, and had Menelaus and troops look to retreat, and as a leaving gift and acknowledgement of the Trojans winning left behind a huge wooden horse. After the troops had gone the Trojans took the horse inside the city walls. However that night the warriors who were hidden inside the horse got out, opened the city gates, and Menelaus' awaiting hidden armies attacked and Troy was taken.

It is now 21 May, we have been here much longer than expected but have had gale force winds all week. We are hoping the forecast is right and they will start easing this afternoon and we will be able to do the 60 miles to Limnos in Greece tomorrow, it is 2pm now and they are still howling through so we will see.

And while we sit in Ghetto the wifi cafe and look out to sea, not one but two submarines just went by. Of course they had more than just periscopes up or we wouldn't have seen them, but they just had the dome bit at the top showing, we haven't seen subs underway before. Then a even better surprise, up pops Tony and Lynn off Tactical Directions, they had just received a general mailout email from us saying we were in Canakkale and had just arrived themselves by car this afternoon, enroute from Istanbul back to the boat in Marmaris. The harbour and cafe area is compact and they tracked us down, well done. What a great surprise, we haven't seen Tony since October and it was great to meet Lynn. We probably won't cross wakes this year cruising, but we hope maybe again next year!!

Sightseeing Info:
Dolmus from under Sari River bridge (as per LP map) In weekend 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm, weekdays more regulary. 4Lira p/p each way. About 30 minutes.
Entrance fee to Troy 15Lira p/p
Other Info:
See previous update on the Southern Battlefields, all info on Canakkale there

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Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Southern Battlefields, Gallipoli ..... May 2009

16May 2009

We left the harbour at Kabatepe, again with calm weather and headed back south, pushing the current that swept the row boats further north than they planned.We turned left into the Dardanelles (the waterway that leads from the Aegean Sea up to the Sea of Marmara, onwards to the Straits of Bosphorus then ultimately into the Black Sea). It was access to this waterway that caused the Allied Forces to invade Turkey, as by being able to get into the Black Sea they had entrance via the back door into Eastern Europe.

At the entrance there is the Cape Helles British Memorial and cemeteries, we took the opportunity to anchor for a couple of hours and dinghied ashore landing on V Beach. There are also Turkish memorials, trenches, howziters and bunkers, we were surprised at the number of Turkish visiting the site, we forget it is a huge part of their history also and so many of their men were lost defending their homeland.

At the cemetery down on V Beach we found gravestones for both a Private J Farrell and a Private J Moran, both part of the Irish Fusilers, both died during the initial attack in April. Maybe they were distant relatives of ours. So many more thousands of men died here during the campaign, this whole peninsular is one big graveyard.

We headed back to Balvenie and continued our journey up the Dardenelles another 15 miles and are now in the 'marina' at Canakkale. We plan to visit Troy from here then check out and say our final farewells to Turkey and head west to Greece. This plan has been delayed, our run of calm weather has been followed by a forecast spell of 30-40 knots for 4 days, so finally I have a chance, while being blown around, to update the blog!!

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -
V Beach - 40 04.44N 26 10.95E 5.4m sand just stopped a couple of hours
Canakkale - 40 09.134N 26 24.259E 3.4m bow to. Staff on dock will pass mooring line for bow/stern. Saw 2.8m on way in. No showers etc. Cost under 12m 55L p/n over 12m 75L p/n. Transit log checked. Pricey spot but we are sitting out strong Northerly winds and it is reasonably sheltered, no wake at all from the many passing ships and cross channel ferries.
It looks possible to anchor in calm waters out of the way of the marina entrance to the left around 40 09.40N 26 24.44E, flat water in these winds, but pretty shallow. We encountered around 3 knots worse case counter current coming up the straits. We came up the north coast and didn't cross over until 'The Narrows' at Canakkale. We are looking forward to a fast ride back down! Excellent downtown location with all city facilities.
Internet - No wifi onboard (marina signal currently broken!!) but can use computer in marina office if you can cope with the heavy smoke, plus a couple wifi cafes (Ghetto is one) on shorefront and internet cafes by clocktower 2L p/h.
Provisions - Diesel tanker has been delivering to large launches, unsure of minimum required. Water and power on dock. Carrefour supermarket about 10minutes walk
Formalities - Will add checkout details when completed but no compulsary agent here, actually no agent at all must do yourself. Marina staff very helpful but speak almost no English.
Sightseeing - Trip to Troy by dolmus ... see Troy blog update
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Gallipoli Memorial ..... May 2009

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country

Therefore rest in peace

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us

Where they lay side by side

Here in this country of ours ...

You the mothers

Who sent their sons from far away countries

Wipe away your tears

Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace

After having lost their lives on this land

They have become our sons as well"

Ataturk 1934
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Landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli ..... May 2009

13 - 16 May 2009

***looking down on the thin strip of beach at Anzac Cove, doughie the dinghy down there somewhere***Balvenie at anchor off Anzac Cove***next morning at dawn with Balvenie at anchor off North Beach***looking landwards with North Beach ashore***

With the forecast still looking settled enough to anchor off the exposed Anzac Cove, we motored north in glassy waters from Bozcaada to the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsular, then we had a southwest seabreeze come in, just enough to send in a sloppy roll and be annoying. We headed north up the peninsular and anchored 100 metres off Anzac Cove, in front of the the very beach, where on the 25th April 1915 thousands of New Zealand and Australian troops landed in row boats in an effort to secure the peninsular for the Allied Forces, in conjunction with British, French, Indian and Nepalese troops who landed further south at the entry to the Dardanelle Straits.

We launched the dinghy, and 94 years and some days after the initial landing during WW1 we stepped ashore on Anzac Cove's thin strip of beach to the friendly sound of birdsong instead of deafening enemy fire. Although the shoreline has no doubt changed over the many years since the landing it is easy to see that this was probably the worst place along the shoreline that they could have landed, as the beach was only about 5 metres wide backed by steep cliffs covered in low scrub and bush. We walked along the pebbled shore until we had access to the road above, then visited the shoreline cemeteries, the Anzac Commemorative Site and the Anzac Memorial, all within an easy walk of each other.

We slowly wandered through the gravestones, so many men buried on these distant shores, with hundreds of them having died on that very first day. Travelling by our own boat enables us to be able to visit places outside the 'tourist' hours which we regard as special, especially here it was a honour to be able to sit and reflect in undisturbed peace, on the horrors our men must have faced during their 8 month occupation of this foreign land.

Just as the sun was dipping in the west we moved Balvenie about 500m up the coast and into the slight indentation of North Beach, we felt less exposed tucked in there and had a calm night with just a little swell. North Beach is where the Anzac Forces eventually set up camp, there is a small parcel of flat land on the shore line and it was the obvious choice for a base. It is also where the Anzac Day Dawn Services are held. We honoured our ancestors and dinghied ashore at dawn, listening to the vibrant dawn chorus and watched as the sun rose above the inland ridges, where so many battles were fought and thousands of lives were lost. The Turkish Government has done a fine job of designating this entire area as National Park, as thousands of Allied and of course Turkish troops lie resting, and the Commonwealth War Cemeteries Commission proudly upkeep's the grounds and historical plagues in the cemeteries to a very high level.

After breakfast we moved 3 miles south to the harbour of Kabetepe. It is thought that this was the original intended landing sight for the war campaign, but that the boats got pushed northwards with the currents and ended up at Anzac Cove instead. Although weather conditions for us were still excellent we felt more comfortable having Balvenie secured in a harbour as we wanted to spend more time ashore visiting all the other sights. We walked to the nearby Kabatepe Information Centre and Museum, and inbetween coach loads of school children who were in and out in less than 5 minutes, spent a couple of hours reading all the information and looking at the war exhibits in this small but interesting museum. There was a display of uniforms from the various armies, I thought it interesting the French included a very heavy long woollen coat, maybe they were the only ones who envisaged the Turks to be a stronger fighting force than expected and came prepared for a war that may last until the winter months!

The following morning, with temperatures forecast to be in the late 20's, the warmest so far this year, we packed plenty of water, a picnic lunch and donned sunscreen, caps and good walking shoes and hit the road. There is a 13 kilometre circuit that follows the contours of the ridges where the bloodiest battles were fought, with cemeteries at frequent intervals along the way. With names like Hell's Spit, Shrapnel Gully and Battleship Hill and a view of the terrain as the road winds upwards, it takes little imagination to envisage the destruction that took place here. The fact that in 8months the Anzac Forces only managed to advance under 2kms inland reflects not only on the huge resistance by the Ottoman Empire troops in defending their lands but also the hostile landscape they were fighting in. We stopped at all the cemeteries, walked in the trenches that were in places only metres apart, and visited the memorials on the way to the top, Chunuk Bair. It is here the Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk) gave his troops the command "I am not ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops will arrive to take our places".

This is a very moving area to spend some time. The wild poppies stand proudly tall, in remembrance to those who fell in 1915.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -
Anzac Cove 40 14.05N 26 16.25E 7.8m good holding on sand with patches of weed. Exposed to all but east
North Beach 40 14.52N 26 16.70E 4.9m good holding on sand. Better protection but totally exposed NW to SW
Kabatepe Harbour 40 12.02N 26 16.70E 5.2m stern tied in southeast corner by ramp (a tricky manoeuvre as no one to take our lines!!). Large ferry 3 times a day on western wall, backs into ramp on southwest corner. Charge of 31Lira for 2 nights, think same price if we had stayed longer. Transit log checked. Small shop/cafe ashore.
Sightseeing - Kabatepe Museum 3L p/p. No taxis at harbour - time for plenty of exercise in this lovely national park! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Who's idea was this anyway???? ..... May 2009

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11-12 May 2009

***the little inner fishing harbour and castle at Bozcaada***Balvenie tucked up on the wall with Bozcaada castle/fort in the background**

Heading Northwest from Ayvalik in sheltered waters with a 10-15knots Northeaster forecast, what more could you ask for? Well, you could ask why the Northeaster is coming out of the Northwest, exactly where you want to go, and for those of you less familiar with sailing you can not sail in a straight line exactly where you want to go if the wind is blowing from that direction. So you head off at an angle, for as long as necessary, then you 'tack' which means you change direction about 90 degrees, sometimes almost backwards if things go pear-shaped, and go the other way (still nowhere near where you really want to go). After sometime of seemingly going in completely the wrong direction you tack back, and go in the other wrong direction ........ on and on it goes, sooner of later you should reach somewhere in the vicinity of your destination - still during daylight hours if you are lucky. This was not one of our better days, we should have just surrendered to Huey, admitted he had won his little game and put the engine on.

Finally, after way too many hours, we reached Sivrice, a large deep bay with reasonable shelter from the Northeast, shallow enough water in one corner and anchored. Before we had even set the anchor the wind changed to the southwest, only around 15knots but putting us on a leeshore and sending in an annoying little chop. It was 7pm, way too late for a seabreeze but no southerlies were forecast. We decided to wait 30 minutes and see if it settled, then make the call whether to stay or go 7 miles south across the channel to the Northern Coast of Levros, back in Greece. So while I sat in the cockpit, searching for signs of the wind easing, Mark is taking bits and pieces apart below as our batteries are low in voltage but we had motored the last 45 minutes, so something was amiss with the alternator. Slowly the wind eased and swung back around to the Northeast, the offending lose connection onto the batteries was discovered and tightened, we had been punished enough for the day. The bar was opened with the Captain ordering an extra tot for all!!!!

After a decent sleep and feeling slightly more positive we set off north once more. A light Northeaster again but this time we were going north so we had a pleasant sail in sparkling blue calm seas, we were even joined by dolphins who must have heard I needed perking up, a think it is impossible to watch dolphins at play and not smile from ear to ear, they are just magic. After not too many hours, and no tacking, we arrived in the small harbour on the Turkish island of Bozcaada, one of only 2 islands in the Aegean that are Turkish. We stern tied up to the new concrete wall, alongside a Swiss yacht, Moira, and went ashore for a wander round this cute little place. We were then invited aboard Moira by owner Rudy and friend Gunther to sample a bottle of the locally grown wine, and very nice it was too. The 4 of us then went out to a harbourside cafe for an excellent dinner. Rudy keeps his boat in Turkey and tries to spend 4-5 months on it each summer, joined by friends along the way while his wife stays at home to 'look after the furniture'!!!! He loves the Turkish coast of the Black Sea, and says we must for thought as we are so close......but probably not, who knows, watch this space.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -
Sivrice - 39 28.42N 26 13.75E 11.9m good holding. Reasonable shelter from East to Northwest. Nothing there
Bozcaada - Northern harbour wall, 3.6m drop anchor and stern tie to new wall. Keep well off as occasional surge from wakes. Water and power on dock included in 50Lira nightly fee (we thought too expensive for what was there), transit log checked. Stores and cafes ashore. Accessed unlocked wifi onboard. Dont remember seeing ATM but Lonely Planet says there is one next to PO. Impressive Fort right in harbour.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Further North to Ayvalik ..... May 2009

04-10 May 2009

***lazying on a sunny afternoon***the marble columns at Pergamum***more lazying on another sunny afternoon in Cleopatra's hottub***the poppies, pillar and ampitheatre at Pergamum***

Our unplanned stop in Eski Foca was most enjoyable. It was a safe place to sit out over 30knots that piped up shortly after we anchored, despite being buzzed by an unlit Navy helicopter doing low flying exercises for a good part of the evening, we sincerely hoped our new anchor light was easy for them to see!! The winds finally eased early afternoon so we went ashore for a tasty late lunch, a look around this traditional Turkish town and a quick stop at the weekly market for a top-up of excellent produce at very reasonable prices. Strawberries are in season and at 2Lira a kilo they are just a must have, yummy.
Primarily a fishing town, there was some evidence of low key tourism in summer, a laid back pleasant place. After our two nights there and with a more promising weather forecast we did 'take 2' on heading north. We had light northerlies and calm seas, oh what a difference a day or two makes!!

We had a lovely gentle sail to Bademli Liman, a sheltered anchorage tucked in behind a couple of close off shore islands. Very scenic, almost looked like a spot we would encounter cruising around the Hauraki Gulf at home. There were some other yachts at anchor also, the skies were blue, winds light, temperature warming up - finally feel like summer might be coming and the cruising season is getting into full swing.

There were more ancient cities to be discovered, Pergamum, and although the cruising guide didn't suggest attempting it from here we thought it was worth the effort and spent a successful day walking to the local village, catching a dolmus to Dikili, a bus to Bergama and hiring a taxi for a couple of hours. The ancient site of Pergamum has been around since 1100BC, the Acropolis sits high above the surrounding landscape in a strategic position. It was overrun and occupied by many rulers over its long interesting history. Its library was world renown and threatened to overtake Alexandria's library in Egypt. This caused the Egyptians to cease supplying papyrus outside Egypt, but then led to 'peragmen' (latin for parchment) being discovered by the local scientists. Later, Mark Anthony is said to have had over 200,000 scrolls removed from the library and given as a gift to Cleopatra. I certainly hope she enjoyed reading!! The ruins included some marble columns of the Temple of Trajan, an intact structure set into the hill underneath the main Temple area and a very steep to theatre with quite some view as it is build into the side of the hill. Currently the ruins are awash with wild daisies and poppies, the spring wildflowers are outstanding, and after the rains of winter all the colours of the landscape are so vivid. Back down in the modern day town of Bergama is the Red Basilica from 2AD, we enjoyed a quick look around it as well but skipped Asclepion, an ancient world renown medical centre also there. The return trip back to Balvenie involved a little more waiting time but we made it back by 6pm, a good effort we thought.

We stayed another day in Bademli, more ancient stuctures to discover but this time much closer and more leisurely. We took the dinghy along the coastline to a couple of rock pools, built who knows when, set slightly back and above sea level and continously filled with fresh underground spring hotwater at just the right temperature for this time of year, absolute bliss, what a setting to while away a couple of hours soaking in a hot tub on a friday afternoon. Maybe Mark Anthony and Cleopatra had done just the same thing once upon a time. We ended the day having 'sundowners' with a couple of the other yachts in the anchorage, Roger and Suzie off Tinker Bell from England and David and Kate off Bora Scoura from Australia, a most enjoyable night was had by all, and the 3 of us all set sail the following morning, again in very light winds and flat seas. Ayvalik here we come.

Ayvalik is an interesting area, it is surrounded by islands then entered by a well marked channel, into what they call Ayvalik Lake, a large sheltered bay totally enclosed with more little shallow bays off it. We went down to the southernmost bay of Camlik Koyu, and tucked up in there with 6 others. We went off the following morning to investigate the marina, costs of hiring a car and/or buses to Gallipoli, and check the internet. After all this information had been gathered we had a 'board meeting' over a couple of cold drinks in a cafe overlooking the bay. The marina was expensive, €40 a night for us, a car was 75Lira a day plus petrol and the ferry across from Canakkale to the Gallipoli Peninsular. The bus was 25Lira pp each way to Canakkale then we would need to do a tour from there, oh so many options to look at. Then there was the weather, a very very settled period for at least 5 days with 10-15knots NE forecast the following day. The descision was made, we will sail Balvenie to Gallipoli and land by dinghy at Anzac Cove, 94 years after our forefathers tried to take this land for the Allied Forces.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -

Eski Foca - 38 40.52N 26 44.80E 7m very good holding. This was a couple of km's from the town but had better protection for the strong NE winds. Took dinghy ashore, several little jetties - some with signs forbidding usage (big navy/army presence here)
Bademli Liman - 39 00.92N 26 48.33E 9m Superglue mud - excellent holding. Tried anchoring off small beach to north first but would not hold there. Had SW afternoon seabreezes 10-15knots and NE landbreezes overnight 10-15knots but flat water. Longish dinghy ride into small boat harbour. There were a couple of smaller yachts inside the "breakwater" looked shallow though.
Ayvalik @ Camlik Koyu - 39 17.46N 26 39.85E 3.6m holding good. Dinghy ashore to beach or small jetty by closed restaurant. Long pleasant walk to town or bus
Money - ATM's in Eski Foca and Ayvalik, closest to Bademli is at Dikili a dolmus ride away
Provisions - Eski Foca Tuesday Market Day, small Tansas at the harbour. Bademli water tap at fishing dock, not always turned on. About 10mins walk to village with a couple of small shops with fruit, veg, bread. Ayvalik, nothing at anchorage but Migros and Tansas in town
Sightseeing - Trip to Pergamum Walk to Bademli Village (tie up dinghy and go inland about 10mins) Dolmus to Dikili hourly at half past 2.50L pp. Stay on till end at otogar. Bus to Bergama on the hour (so only about 10mins wait) 4L pp. Otogar apprx 7kms out of town. We got an (almost)English speaking taxi driver and negotiated 50L to do the sights, stop for lunch and back to otogar. There was a council bus that would have go us into town but then another few km's (all uphill) to Acropolis - entry 20L pp, Red Basilica - entry 5L pp
Internet - Eski Foca, from boat if we had been closer as cafe with wifi on shorefront. Internet cafes in backstreet 1.50L p/h. Nothing in Bademli. Ayvalik nothing at anchor, on walk into town we stopped at a cafe with free wifi for lunch and internet cafes in town 1.50L p/h
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Sunday, 10 May 2009

Headıng North through Greece ... May 2009

26Apr - 03May

***Lookıng thru the monasteries ancient doorway down onto Skala Harbour*** Mark & Gord stop to take ın the view wıth the Monastery and Hora Village high on the hilltop***A snapshot of the anchorge ın Patmos - fıshıng boats, Balvenie, Cruıse shıp, town, monastery and hılltop village***Insıde the monastery on Patmos***

Time to leave Turkey for a while, our plan is to thread our way north through the Dodecanese and Eastern Sporades, trying to zig-zag our way up depending on the winds. Good plan, just not always so easy to put into practice as the wind gods always have the last laugh!

From Bodrum we cleared the south western tip of Turkey and stuck our bow out into the South Aegean Sea. The Aegean has a nasty reputation, especially over summer, with the "meltemi" winds building most afternoons, sometimes nonstop for days and nights, whipping its way south and churning the seas with a mean standup wave, oh so reminisent of travelling up the northern Red Sea and Gulf of Suez. Even this time of year, if the wind is strong from the north the seas build very quickly. Day 1 was not too bad, from the north but about 15knots and we managed on a very tight reach to arrive into the lovely little bay of Atki on Kalymnos. There is nothing there except a few fish farms and goats climbing the cliffs, their bell collars clanging every step they take. The next day was forecast to be stronger winds so we stayed the day and went for a long scenic walk around to the next bay and village of Vathi and back. The conditions out at sea looked to be perfect from our view high above the bay, oh well. With winds forecast to ease we left the following day, yuk, should have gone yesterday. We had very strong north-easterlies and a big sea quickly developed. We shortened sail and ended up motor sailing through it to calmer waters on the east coast of Leros and anchored in the large sheltered bay of Lakki. Unfortunately our wind instruments did not cope well with falling off some of the waves and the constant variation of wind speed this brings and have died on us, they have done this before and required new parts, heres hoping this time it will be an easier fix.

We dinghied ashore in Lakki and tied up at the town quay, called a marina which charged €18 (not for the dinghy!!). Lakki Town is a somewhat ramshakle place, built by the Italians in the 1940's along with a naval base. It probably looked beautiful in its heyday, but now has somewhat fallen into a state of total disrepair. It reminded us both of the bombed out and crumbling Italian buildings in Massawa, Eritrea. Probably not a fair comparison but certainly the same feel to it. Still, it had a few shops, bank with ATM, internet cafe and a few cafes.

Another day, another island - next stop was Patmos. We had light winds and flat seas, sailing when we could then motoring the rest. The main harbour of Skala on the east coast is a cute little place, dominated by the Monastery set high above in fortress like surroundings. We anchored the first night at the head of the bay. Things ashore were busy with two cruise ships in, all the little shops and cafes open and peddling their wares. The next day we moved onto the town quay as our Canadian friends Gord and Ginny arrived on their yacht Ascension and tied up too. It's great to be tied up, so convenient just to be able to jump on and off to go ashore, especially with friends there, not having to dinghy backwards and forwards. We split our time between boat jobs and having fun. The repair of the wind instruments saw Mark dangling at the top of the mast removing bits and pieces for much longer than he cared for, unfortunately we still have no wind instrutments, emails have been sent requesting help!!!

On a beautiful clear and sunny afternoon, with the med looking its postcard perfect blue, the 4 of us had an excellent afternoons excercise and excursion walking up the hill to the Hora (the village atop the hill and the main Ayiou Ioannoa Theologou Monastery. Just on halfway (time for a much needed breather!) is the Monastery of Apokalypsis built around the grotto of St John the Evangelist (St John the Divine) where John supposedly heard the voice of God, and he wrote the Book of Revealations for the New Testament and also his Gospel, circa 95AD. Then for the final push up to the main monastery, with a magnificent old church covered inside with frescoes, a prominent bell tower, several terraces, covered walkways and the original kitchen with a petrified wood hollowed out tree trunk used for kneading dough for the bread. Outside the monastery the narrow alleys of the Hora are a delight to spend some time getting lost in, peaks of the sea, whitewashed buildings with blue shutters, wildflowers growing everywhere, cats lazing in the sun - unforgettable images of Greece.

After 4 nights in Patmos and with a good weather forecast we left Gord and Ginny. They plan to cross to the Caribbean later this year so we might not catch up with them again, for a while anyway. We have known them since July 2006 when we did the Darwin - Kupang rally together, the definate downside of cruising is the goodbyes when you stop going the same direction or at the same pace, still the reunions are great, hopefully we will find Ascension at anchor in an idilyc Caribbean anchorage one day, good luck guys, we will miss you!

After an excellent sail in a steady light breeze with flat water we arrived back in Turkey on the southern Cesme peninsular in the large bay of Agriler Liman, it was a big day 65 miles and 11 hours, due north and taking a big chunk out of our journey. The following day dawned clear and bright yet again, still with a definate chill in the air, and light winds. We left early and had another excellent sail in the sheltered waters between the Cesme Peninsular, Turkey and the Greek Island of Khios (Hios, Chios). We have now left the Dodecanse Group and entered the Eastern Aegean Island Group called the Sporades.

We stopped at a tiny island just north of Khios called Oinoussa (Inousses). We tied to the wall in the little shallow harbour along with another couple of yachts, had a walk through the almost deserted town that tumbles down a small hillside and pretty much saw it all in about 30 minutes! The claim to fame for this tiny island is that it has produced most of Greeces wealthiest shipping magnets, it was very sleepy, I suspect they have all left town for the bright lights!!
After quite a windy night, and on receipt of conflicting weather reports we left the harbour to continue north. One weather report said 15-20knots Northwest, the other 25-30 Northeast, we shouldn't probably have left in either but there was an anchorage back on the Turkish mainland just 8miles away if conditions weren't good so we gave it a go and made excellent progress in flat seas for the first couple of hours heading Northeast to Lesvos.

Ole Huey must have decided we had been having too many good days of sailing and it was time to put an end to our fun so sent down the 25-30 Notheasterly to sort us out. It just amazes us how quickly the sea state changes around these parts once the wind starts building, and heading to Lesvos was really no longer an option without falling off waves which is not one of our favorite pastimes. Back out with the Turkish Cruising Guide and a change of course to a more comfortable due east heading and a couple of hours we arrived into the sheltered waters of Eski Foca, Turkey.

Cruising Info:

Atki Liman - East Coast of Kalymnos. 36 57.51N 27 01.96E 16m Very clear water, could have gone closer in. Good holding, beautiful spot
Lakki Harbour - West Coast of Leros. 37 07.59N 26 50.82E 10m Outside wall used for ferries so keep well enough clear
Skala Harbour - East Coast of Patmos. Anchored one night 37 19.70N 26 32.74E 10m good holding not much swinging room. Then 3 nights on the wall side tied, 3.5m. Did not check in with harbour master, no charges collected
Agriler Liman - Cesme Peninsular. 38 15.24N 26 23.41E 8m good holding, also marina there. Beware charted shallows on way in on port, no danger marks on them
Mandhraki Harbour - Southern Coast of Oinoussa. Side tied on wall 38 30.85N 26 12.98E only 2.4m, nudged bottom on way out. Asked to check in with port police in morning and asked to leave for Chios or Lesvos to check into Greece (we had done well getting this far unchecked)
Money - Saw ATM's on Leros and Patmos
Provisions - Leros had a few small stores. Patmos good selection of meats, groceries and alcohol. Oinoussa had a small supermarket and veg shop up the hill but were closed. Bread had to be ordered in advance
Sightseeing - Patmos Monasteries well worth it, free entry
Internet - Leros, internet cafe on shorefront 1€ for 20minutes!! Patmos, got wifi on boat. Nothing at the others
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