Turkey (part 2), Greece, Croatia
Since last we wrote we have made our way through Turkey, Greece and are now about half way up the coast of Croatia. There is a lot to see and do in the Mediterranean and as always far too little time to do it all. Here are some of the highlights of what we have had a chance to experience so far.
To start with, we were lucky to have two good friends, Tom Materna and John Forgraves, come for a visit while we were in Turkey.
NOTE: Some of you may remember Tom - once jokingly referred to as "the guest from Hell" in a former life. <grin> Donna, Tom was great to have. Thanks for lending him to us. You should come with him next time. Marci, you too.
After a couple long flights and a long drive, Tom and John joined us at Finike Marina, Turkey. A quick trip into Finicke - no tourists there - and then Sea Witch took us up the coast a bit to anchor in Kekova bay under the Kalekoy Castle. There, we explored the castle, sarcophagia and some underwater ruins. What a change in pace for them to exit LAX, fly to the crystal clear waters of the Turkish coast, and in the next breath be exploring ancient ruins.
Wandering around Kekova, the 3 guys were greeted by (latched on to by) Mehment, the CARPET salesman. He invited us all to breakfast the next morning at his house. After a lovely breakfast prepared by his wife and set on his vine covered patio Mehmet drove us to the ancient of Myra. Here we climbed around the ruins and examined the Lycian rock tombs. Perched on the seats of the theater, we imagined ourselves as ancient Romans waiting to be addressed by a famous orator.
Much to our surprise, the orator never appeared. Instead our congenial tour guide, Mehmet, the CARPET salesman, rescued us from our daydreams and took us back to his place for lunch. We offered to pay him for his generosity but he insisted that, of course, I am not a tour guide; I only drive you there for the pleasure of it. This is when Gail told Tom that he would be buying a carpet. Tom didn't really believe it. Well, the next thing you know Tom and John are ankle deep in Turkish carpets. How could they say no. Besides, how could you go to Turkey and not come home with a beautifully handmade carpet.
Next, we were off to a beautiful anchorage at Kas. While still mainland Turkey, it is only a mile from Kastellorizo, Greece, the island of the Blue Grotto. Early the next morning we piled into the dinghy, crossed into Greek waters and headed for the Grotto. Ducking as far as we could - the dinghy barely cleared - we entered this huge, incredible cavern, lit only by the beautiful blue aura caused by the morning sun seeping in and diffusing through the deep water of the small entrance. We had spent one day at ancient ruins and now were spending a morning on another planet. The ceiling of the grotto and the crystal clear water took on a luminescent, alien glow.
On we traveled up the coast. A little wind materialized and the spinnaker went up so that Tom and John could say they went sailing. We managed to keep it up for all of ten minutes in the non-existent wind. At least they got pictures.
We spent the next day exploring an island full of ruins, trying to imagine what each building was used for and how they lived 1000-1500 years ago. Then, on to Goeck, an area with a dozen islands and a myriad of beautiful coves. This is one of the highly renowned cruising areas of Turkey.
The days were spent cruising around on Sea Witch. We'd find a cove, throw out the anchor and then tie a stern line to shore. Then, a bit of swimming or just hanging on the stern line in the water to cool off. We hiked and roamed through ancient ruins, came across tea farmers beating plants with sticks and logs to harvest the tea and even bought ice cream from an ice cream man that came around in a small skiff. One evening, we had a fun dinner at a local boat restaurant where the oven, on shore, was a small, derelict boat hull.
Tom and John's visit ended with an all day trip to Ephesus, the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean. This is an incredible place to get the feel of the way it was to live during Roman times. From the amphitheater to the incredible library - by way of the toilets and brothel - it was a wonderful day back in history for us.
After Tom and John left us Sea Witch headed further west stopping at a few more islands on the Turkish coast. We were beginning to feel the famous Meltemi winds, winds that blow like stink from the direction we are most likely to want to head. The Meltemi (north winds) start to blow in June and get worse in July and August. Our daily sailing (or motoring) now started changing complexion. Up early to start before the wind did or hide out until it stopped.
Sea Witch goes for a Walkabout
Our last stop in Turkey was Bodrum. We anchored off the castle and spent three days, snug as a bug in some strong winds. While touring the castle and doing some window shopping in town we received a phone call from friends that wanted to know how to turn on our anchor windlass. Sea Witch had gone for a walkabout without us and was now in the middle of the bay with our friends trying to rescue her. They chased after her and boarded, broke off the lock, got the motor started and were trying to figure out how to get the anchor up. After searching the boat for more than a hour, looking through every manual and trying every switch in the boat, they noticed the orange packet that came with our new phone card. They found our number and called us.
We ran for the dinghy and jetted on out to the anchorage. Sea Witch was nowhere around. She had really taken off and we were so surprised to look out and find her so far away. With our friends now driving Sea Witch, it wasn't hard to catch up. We tried to pickup the anchor but it was stuck fast to something incredibly solid. We consulted the chart and decided the anchor was most likely hooked up on an underwater cable. Go figure, what are the chances of hooking up on the one cable in the area. It looked like Jeff might have to go for a scuba dive, something he really didn't want to do if it was an electrical cable. We tried a few more things and were finally able to get the anchor - and 100' of the mile long pipe it was stuck on - to the surface. Now, the only problem was how to get hundreds of pounds of pipe off the anchor. After some ingenious thought provoking discussions between Jeff and our rescuers, a plan was devised and Sea Witch was free. All these years and Sea Witch decides to take her first walkabout when we are not on board. Hope she has it out of her system.
As the Meltemi winds grew more consistent and stronger we headed on to the Greek Cyclades Islands. With the wind in our faces most of the time we set off to explore the white-washed houses and blue-domed churches typical to these islands. Vivid fuchsia bougainvillea plants, cobblestone streets, and sunsets of brilliant orange. This would also be our introduction to the beaches where the sunbathers have no tan lines.
We med-moored on the quay at Kos. This can be one of the exciting spectator sports in the Med when the wind is blowing. Basically, you throw your anchor out into the tangle of other boat anchors and attempt to back your boat - most boats don't have any steering in reverse - into a space that may actually be narrower than the width of your boat (remember the fenders). For us, med-mooring involves clearing everything off the back deck, putting all our fenders out on both sides, removing the dinghy from the davits and preparing two very long lines for the stern. Ok, we were ready. Fortunately there was no wind and a big space and we got the boat right to the quay with no problems. But, there is no easy way off the back of Sea Witch. Jeff did a beautiful job of backing Sea Witch to the quay while Gail was perched precariously on the back edge of the davits. But, the quay was a long way down and Gail couldn't get off. Fortunately, someone came along to take our lines. Then it was off to deal with the grumpiest port police in all of Greece. This one lived up to his reputation.
Kos is a lovely town. We walked around the town, stopped at the local Vodaphone cell phone store and our phone had a new phone number in 10 minutes. The town really came alive after 8pm and stayed alive all night. Very different from our cruising experiences prior to the Med.
Looking for more secluded spots, we motored and sailed to a cove on Kalymnos to catch up with some friends on Daq Attack. This area is hot in June. We were discovering why the towns are dead until after 7 or 8pm. It cooled off enough by 6 to head up the coast in dinghies, hike up the mountain and explore a wonderful cave full of stalagmites and stalactites, many of which connected from floor to ceiling.
Santorini was our favorite Greek Island. This island is the result of a huge volcanic explosion that blew the middle out of the island. We motored Sea Witch through the deep waters of the middle surrounded by sheer vertical walls hundreds of feet high. The town of Thira hangs on the side of a cliff that drops into the sea. The white washed buildings, narrow steep stairs and the dramatic deep blue of the ocean create an awesome backdrop. We approached by water looking up at this incredible sight and then watched the sunset from the top of the town looking down into the depths of the volcanic ocean waters. They say they have tremors everyday. Sort of like LA. Always waiting for the big one.
The Meltemi was blowing - so what's new. Traveling with Outlandish and Nighthawk, we were skillfully guided by "locals" Jason and Sandi on Elegance, friends we had met in Cyprus. With the wind blowing upwards of 35kts, we were all quite skeptical until we got within a few feet of the cliffs. A wonderful little anchorage that isn't on the charts or mentioned in the guidebooks. We stayed for a few days touring the island and playing. Jeff did some wakeboarding here. He was looking pretty good so Gail decided to try it. (I didn't look so good and after swallowing half the ocean decided to try it again later.)
We made our way to the Corinth Canal, the most costly canal to transit per mile in the world. This canal is only 4 miles long but saves a couple hundred sailing miles. We paid our fees and prepared to entered. A tug pulled a big ship just ahead of us. The ship didn't look like it had more then a foot clearance on either side of it and we realized that the tug was needed because the ship did not have room to steer through the canal (remember, for a boat to turn right, the stern actually moves left). Heartsong was right behind us and we were taking pictures of each other. Then, as planned, they passed us for a better picture angle. As we were side-by-side, we were grateful it was Alan driving and not someone we didn't know. After transiting we were now on the west coast of Greece and moving toward the Ionian Sea. The topography started changing and we were beginning to see more greenery again.
Jeff found an anchorage in our cruising guide called Nafpaktos. It said it was small and you needed to get there early to get a space. Well that was right on. We arrived and actually drove through the castle walls and backed up to the quay on the street. Heartsong III, our friends were parked inside with one other cruiser and some local fishing boats, and that was all there was room for. We were actually parked inside of a castle. This was certainly a once in a lifetime thrill. We had a wonderful dinner with Liza and Alan at a waterfront restaurant. We were treated royally and had a fabulous time. Liza said, "don't drink the Grapa". Alan and Jeff didn't listen. If you get to Greece "Don't drink the Grapa!"
We stopped at a few places and then caught up with Heartsong in Corfu, our last stop in Greece. Old Corfu Town was full of narrow streets and pleasant to walk through. The 4 of us rented a car and drove around. Beautiful scenery. Then, it was off to Croatia
Into the Adriatic Sea we went. And easy overnighter and we arrived in Cavtat, Croatia. The most delightful officials greeted us and the check in process was probably one of the most pleasant and easiest. It was certainly the most expensive, by far.
Dubrovnik was next first stop. There is a huge castle with most of the buildings still intact. We had a great day of winding in and out of all the narrow passageways. The next morning (early before the heat) we did a 2k walk around the castle walls, which gave us an incredible view of the whole inside. While there are shops in and around the center of the castle, the rest of the castle is filled by all the original residential buildings. As we walked along we overlooked the terracotta tile roof tops and church bell towers. It was maze of stair steps and alleys. Although tourism has taken over with glitz shops and restaurants everywhere it was not hard to close your eyes and imagine the thousands of people and animals living within the walls. I could just see ladies hanging out their second story windows shouting to friends below, children scampering about the hidden passages, a dog or cat crawled up in some corner to stay from under foot and knights and ladies in their regalia.
Another stop was up the Krk River to visit the waterfalls. Although the falls are quite beautiful, we got a kick out of the fact that this looked like the world's largest and busiest water park. All those vacationing Europeans must have followed us here.
We are currently anchored at the Island of Zut doing the inevitable boat projects. It is nice to stop for a few days and regroup. We have been on the go for so long that it is time for a short breather. Sea Witch and her crew needed some rest and a chance to catch up on some long needed maintenance. We have seen at least three different sets of charter boats come and go and we have only been bumped once in the middle of the night and our anchor picked up once. Of course getting the anchor to set here has been interesting. The bottom is slick grass. Kind of like playing on a slip and slide.
We are becoming more proficient at Med mooring (stern too), but we are always grateful for the anchorages where we can just drop the anchor and swing on it. Besides, there is a far less chance of critters crawling on board which makes Gail very happy. Also keeps us further away from the partygoers strolling the quays at night. This is definitely the season for hordes of tourists in this area. It seems like the entire population of Europe is on vacation. The other day it was as though we were sailing Santa Monica bay on a holiday weekend, on Sunday in the summer. There are boats and people everywhere and heaps of them. We have had to learn to rest between 2pm and 5pm because it is too hot, not go to town for dinner before 7pm because no one will feed you until 8pm, and it's ok to make eye contact with the guy driving by in his dinghy with not a stitch of clothing on. Gail is still working on being more aggressive on line at the cheese counter in the market. By the time we get it all down right we will be back on island time. Phew!
Our next big adventure, Venice, Italy and a dinghy ride through the canals.
Jeff & Gail