Thursday, 21 May 2009

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

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