Autumn – Turkey and the Dodecanese

August  was a good month to be in Sydney – it had been 45degrees in Gocek. September is lovely in Turkey, the weather had cooled slightly, the water is warm and wonderful for swimming. David and David arrived in Gocek to sail with us for a week in Fethiye Gulf. We enjoyed days relaxing in our favourite bays – Deep and Seagull, walking and enjoying meals of fresh local Turkish produce prepared by David LJ.

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David and David headed for Istanbul and we to Greece – we only had a few weeks left on our Turkish visa. The plan was to visit our favourite bays in the Dodecanese and maybe get to Mykonos and Delos, which have been trying to do for a few seasons. Pandeli (of course), a walk to the castle and lunch at the wonderful Mill restaurant were high on the agenda.

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A few days in Pithagorian in Samos, then to Marathokambos, a very pleasant little harbour town on the western corner of Samos. We were surprised to find a newly built ‘marina’ there, due to be opened in the next month or so. A great facility, although unfortunately not many spots to fit a boat the size of Sea Cloud as most mooring blocks seemed to be set for 12m maximum. We anchored in the bay. Unfortunately Ian still had lots of work to do, so this was an all too common site.

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We had hoped for some Aegean lobster in Fourni, a trip to Ikaria and then Mykonos, but unfortunately strong winds were predicted, so we headed for Patmos.

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Fourni

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We anchored for a few windy days on Ay Yerios, a gorgeous, bay with a fabulous fish restaurant ashore.

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Patmos harbour  caused a few headaches, a dragging anchor at midnight, re-anchoring then having our anchor uprooted while we were stern to the town wall (by a catamaran with a ‘professional’ skipper), all within 24 hours! Lunch at Jimmy’s at the Chora, then a delightful walk down to the harbour via the ancient pathway made the hassles at the harbour worthwhile – what views!

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Lipsi, which we hadn’t really enjoyed on a previous visit, was a pleasant surprise. After a few days of calm weather anchoring in the beautiful bay on the south of the island,

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we moved to Lipsi harbour for the next predicted windy patch. Luckily we arrived early enough to get a good spot on the pontoon – 57 boats were in the harbour by the end of the evening! There was a bit of carnage on the other side of the dock as the wind changed direction (from southerly to Northerly – as predicted) in the middle of the night.

Lipsi has some great walks, wonderful restaurants and the best coffee shop/bakery we have found in Dodecanese.

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Strong winds were certainly a feature our 3 weeks in Greece, with 3 gales during that time. Our itinerary, adapted to ensure safe anchorages, meant that we moved south quickly through Leros (Pandeli again!),

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to Kalymnos and Nisyros heading back to Panorimitis on Symi – a great spot to sit out the next gale. The waves and 30+ knots in this very calm anchorage made us wonder about the conditions elsewhere.

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We found this sad sight on arrival in Rhodes, an unattended yacht (the owner had been taken to hospital) ended up on the rocks during the gale.

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A few calm days predicted we had a wonderful sail back to Tilos, were we enjoyed a few days of spectacular walks while Sea Cloud was safely tied up in the harbour. Tilos looked quite different on arrival, with lots of Syrian refugees around the harbour, waiting for the bi-weekly ferry to Athens. The most recent arrival was a this small yacht (now impounded) which ferried 44 people across from Turkey in pretty horrendous conditions. Apparently the boat was half full of water on arrival, with many people very unwell. The refugees – who arrive almost weekly, are taken to one of the local monasteries where they are cared for by the local community while they are processed before leaving for Athens.

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The walk from Livadhi to the ruins of the ‘summer capital’.

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Walk from the Chora to the monastery – much longer than advertised on the Tilos walking map!

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Fortunately, spring water was available at the Monastery, necessary before the long (fast), hot, and at times precarious walk back to catch the last bus back to the harbour.

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Our neighbours on either side in the town harbour, a Spanish sole sailor and 3 Israelis were lots of fun. Roy, from Tel Aviv, made us all the best shaksuka for breakfast, while Luis, a professional skipper was a fountain of information about sailing in the Mediterranean and beyond.

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Checkout completed in Rhodes, we headed back to Fethiye bay to meet up with Lissa, and Anne and Michael in Gocek. After the weeks of gales, we (they) were so lucky – calm winds – but enough to sail, warm days for swimming and cool evenings.

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We had a wonderful week, pottering around the bays with a visit to the Imam above Seagull Bay and a dinner at Amigos being highlights.

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We celebrated Anne’s birthday in Eckincik,

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then (motor) sailed to Gerbeske.

IMG_8318They were treated to a bit of excitement when a thunderstorm hit us at anchor– 0 to 32knots in minutes straight in to the bay, pulling our stern line off the rocks. Anne cooked up a storm in the galley while we planned our way out of the bay to Marmaris in the dark (just in case) and watched the storms on the radar. Luckily the wind settled so their last morning could be spent in this beautiful spot before leaving us in Marmaris for their travels around Turkey.

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IMG_8333 IMG_8342Back in Netsel, we spent a few frantic days achieving lots – a new bimini frame and quotes for the solar panels and hydrogenerator which will be installed in the spring.Many thanks to Alex and Diana on Enki for their tips on these wonderful tradespeople in Marmaris.

 

We also caught up with some of our EMYR friends –  great to see them again.

Sea Cloud is now back on the hardstand for her last winter in Turkey, and we are on our way to Sydney for yet another summer. Our plans for next year are still a bit vague, but we are definitely heading west maybe to Croatia, Italy who knows…

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Post EMYR – Jordan

A small group of 7 of us –a Swedish and a Canadian couple and a Frenchman participated in a carefully planned and orchestrated Cook’s tour through Jordan. The superb Roman ruins at Jerash, not far north of Amman was our first stop. It is probably the largest and best preserved site we have seen, with enormous Hadrian’s arch at the city gate, an unusual oval central piazza, a well-preserved amphitheatre, temple and paved colonnaded streets. The Jordanian bagpiper was a surprise playing in the amphitheatre – a legacy of the British occupation.

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Amman the capital, is a bustling mix of old and new and poor and very affluent. Of course it also has its own impressive Roman ruins – a sharp contrast with the new glitzy city of shining white marble and limestone buildings and the ‘downtown’ area, which was lively, congested and rather grubby. We stood out amongst the locals in their long black decorated robes and dark features. Mike, our guide was fantastic, a low key (ex-accountant). He was knowledgeable, educating us not only about the ancient sites, but of life in Jordan, and the art of making good Arabic coffee.

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IMG_7492 IMG_7496 Between Amman and Petra are a number of the important sites. Mt Nebo – where Moses looked over the Promised land to direct the Israelites across Jordan.

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Madaba, famous for its mosaics. Both the ancient mosaic map in St Georges church, and the modern mosaics being made in Queen Noor centre by people with disabilities were very impressive.

IMG_7519 IMG_7518 IMG_7517 Our night in a desert camp in Wadi Rum was well worth the long drive south. A 4 wheel drive into the relatively cool desert evening to watch the sunset and spectacular evening desert light was pretty special. The colours and the landscape are spectacular (and the young drivers very handsome!).

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IMG_7560IMG_7578 IMG_7603 After a Bedouin style dinner at the camp we retired to our 4 star tents (complete with ensuite) to ensure we were up early enough to enjoy the colours of the sunrise before our drive to Petra.

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IMG_7651 IMG_7574 IMG_7653 Petra was not to be missed. The first glimpse of the Treasury through the narrow gorge at the end of the long Siq was wonderful. It really is an incredible site, so expansive, and to think it was basically a burial ground! The structure is 50m high and took 25yrs to carve out of solid rock.

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IMG_7695 IMG_7709 IMG_7732  Camels, donkeys, horses and children selling postcards are everywhere, adding lots of colour and movement to the site.

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A few of us braved the 1,000 steps to the Monastery in the heat of the afternoon. It definitely was worth the climb. The beer back at the cave bar of our hotel was most welcome at the end of the day, about 8 hours of walking and climbing in the June heat is pretty exhausting. Another day in Petra would have been great as it is such an extensive site.

IMG_7763 IMG_7748IMG_7779 A visit to the Dead Sea and Masada was the last on our itinerary of must – do’s before we left Israel. The Dead Sea is 420m BELOW sea level – and is the lowest point on earth. Although this extremely hot arid region fringing the sea consists mainly of salt pans, there are several oases fed by natural fresh water springs growing groves of date palms – such as Ein Gedi Kibbutz where we stayed overnight.

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The ‘spa’ where we accessed the beach was built on the shore of the Dead Sea 20 years ago. It is now 1.2km away from the waters edge. From the photos one can see the “high tide” mark over 1km above the current waterline – emphasising that this (490m deep) lake is dropping by 5m per year and if unchecked will be dry in 25yrs!

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Masada a 500m high desert plateau surrounded by sheer cliffs was the site of the last stand of 1,000 Jews exiled here after the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 70AD. As temperatures were close to 40, we caught the cable car to the top so that we could enjoy the excellent audio tour of this interesting site. The story of the Roman siege, building the colossal sand ramp to attack the walls and the mass suicide within at the eleventh hour were well depicted in the Hollywood version (Peter O’Toole) in the 80’s.

IMG_7855 IMG_7860 IMG_7857 Back in Herlizya, a quick tour and late lunch in Jaffa and Tel Aviv before our sunset departure and long sail back to Turkey.

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EMYR – Israel

Finally some good wind – beam reach much of the passage south to Israel and a glorious full moon. We were well prepared for the procedures for sailing into Israel. Discussions over VHF with Israeli navy 20Nm off Haifa to provide details of us and our boat. Surprise visit at dawn by the gunboat to check us with infra-red to ensure no extra bodies on board. Passports are then handed over to another gunboat via a fishing net on a pole before we could finally sail into Haifa harbour.

IMG_7031 The hospitality extended to us by the Carmel sailing club in Haifa was overwhelming. Warm welcome dockside while passports checked (again); scrumptious dinner dockside with formal welcome from the club; organised tour of Haifa and shuttle taxi to local supermarket for provisioning.

IMG_0760 The highlight was home visits arranged through the club. We dined with Amir and Dganit and their delightful family (Amir was one of the club members who helped shoe horn Sea Cloud into a marina berth using the joker boat).

IMG_0770 IMG_0773 The marina is very full with a waiting list, so finding berths for the EMYR yachts each year is a challenge and well managed by the club.

IMG_7044 Akko, just north of Haifa, famous for the remains of the Crusader castle (nearly totally dismantled by the muslims when the Knights finally exited to Rhodes).

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The signs (and clocks) in different languages and the Arabic market give an insight into the mixture of cultures in Israel. Although there is a predominantly Israeli Arab population here, there is strong resistance to expansion of Arab ownership of the old town.

IMG_7052 IMG_7055 The tour continued to Nazareth’s church of the Annunciation, and the Jordan River – site that John baptised Jesus and the Sea of Galilee -all familiar names from Sunday school long ago.

IMG_7076 IMG_7081 IMG_7104 Haifa is famous for its Baha’i garden which cascade down the hillside towards the harbour (built on condition they provided extensive bomb shelters beneath).

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Ashkelon, the southernmost marina in Israel was our base for the next few days. One of our group headed a little too far south only to be briskly escorted away by gunboat as they were getting a bit too close to Gaza.

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Much anticipated tour to Jerusalem where a 3 day visit just scratched the surface. View from Mount Scopus overlooking Eastern Jerusalem with the wall marking the boundary following occupation of former Jordanian held territory.

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Our excellent guide took us to the Mount of Olives with commanding view over Jerusalem’s old city.

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Highlights of the city included the Temple of the Mount (Golden Dome of the Rock) – a very holy place for Christians and Muslims and currently a mosque. Below the Mount is the western (wailing) wall – sacred place for Jews.

Western Wall - Version 2 The Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Christian pilgrims touching the rock at the 10th station of the cross (at the end of the Via Dolorosa)

IMG_7207IMG_7199 IMG_7210 IMG_7209 The festival of light runs for 3 days in Jerusalem – a real treat, although very crowded.

IMG_7218 IMG_7230 IMG_7229 As our hotel was a short walk from the old city enabling us to spend more time in the Jerusalem archaeological park and Davidson centre, with its excellent descriptions and displays of the Temple Mount and surrounding areas.

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The citadel, or Tower of David, as well as being an excellent museum provided wonderful views over old Jerusalem and its different quarters.

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Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorials set in 18 hectares on the outskirts of Jerusalem was a moving and important ending to our few days in Jerusalem.

Back in Ashkelon the EMYR group told us of the fireworks during dinner in the marina the night before when a rocket, launched from Gaza less than 30km away, was intercepted and destroyed by an Israeli anti-missile rocket overhead. The restaurant emptied very quickly when the siren went off. We were glad we had taken those extra days in Jerusalem, and not sorry to be heading north the next day.

Our last sail with the EMYR fleet as a group was beautiful. A breeze on our stern quarter saw most yachts flying their cruising chutes – a lovely sight and invigorating sail with Sea Cloud touching 8kts in 10-12kts of breeze. Sailing in a group like this means that you actually get photos of your own boat sailing!

IMG_7318 DSC02927 Sadly the rally finished in Herzilya Marina, which is part of a large complex of hotels, apartments shopping malls and restaurants, just north of Tel Aviv. The local beach is lovely (even by Aussie standards). We had a busy a few days of parties, presentations and the final rally dinner, followed by a lot of sad farewells (to dockside chorus of the Rally Song and traditional buckets of water) as new friends headed north for Turkey, Cyprus and beyond.

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EMYR Turkey – Cyprus

The next EMYR stop was Bozyazi fishing harbour. Although in appearance quite a contrast to the lovely new marinas in which we had been staying, the hospitality from the local fishing cooperative was exceptional. The rather desolate & industrial dock was transformed into a banquet and dance area with lively Turkish and western music for our welcome dinner: quite unexpected, but wonderful. It was a good base to visit the ancient site of Anamurium situated in the most beautiful spot on the coast a few miles to the west.

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We tasted the local specialty of tantuni in Anamur town and bought some of the locally famous small Anamur bananas from the roadside. We are also getting to like ayran, the Turkish yogurt drink – delicious and refreshing once you get used to the rather salty taste.

More cocktails and dinners at the brand new marina of Kumkuyu – another good base for visiting more of the many ancient sites dotted along this coastline.

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Kandlivane – a 90m chasm where those who caused the Romans displeasure were said to have been thrown to their deaths.

IMG_6595 IMG_6592 IMG_6586 The caves of Heaven & Hell. The long slippery tour down into a rather cool ‘hell’

IMG_6612 IMG_6617 And the so-called ‘Asthma cave’.

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On to Mersin, another new marina where we left Sea Cloud for a 2 day 1200km bus trip (!!) to the spectacular Mt Nemrut. The drive, although long was fascinating. We were very much in the SE Turkey – about 50km from the Syrian Border in places. Obviously a very important and highly fertile agricultural area.

It is hard to imagine how the 50m high man made mountain of stones on tip of this isolated mountainous site were constructed. It is believed that more of the huge human statues lie under the peak but nobody has been able to find them. Built by a megalomaniac king, they depict he and the gods (his family). They are hauntingly beautiful, well worth the long drive and climb up the hill.

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Sanilurfa (known also as Urfa) was our all too short overnight stop. It looked like a fascinating town, deserving a few days rather than the hour or so we had scheduled.

IMG_6737 IMG_6738  It is a pilgrimage town, with a very middle-east feel because of its proximity to Syria. For many of the people here, Turkish is their second language. Dress is traditional and conservative, with women wearing colours of their tribes, and facial tattoos depicting their ‘ownership’ and men wearing arabic –style baggy pants.

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Gobeklitepe, is a relatively newly discovered site (not in our guide book) dating back to 12,000BC (well before the pyramids). It is so hard to imagine how they had the resources to allocate to this religious site in what was essentially the stone age and probably before organised farming in this region.

IMG_6752 IMG_6751 Another great party at Mersin, then we were off on our first overnight EMYR sail to Girne, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Motoring into residual lumpy seas and a little wind on the nose wasn’t the best start. The wind picked up as predicted so we had a great sail for about a third of the journey, increasing as we approached Cyprus. This made for quite exciting docking in the very exposed and crowded Girne commercial harbour. Berthing 32 boats in 25+ knots is always rather a challenge, particularly as the wind was blowing right into Delta Marina.

The cocktail reception at Girne castle was fabulous. After touring the castle and the shipwreck museum, we were treated to music, cocktails and yummy food in the wonderful surroundings of the castle courtyard. Informal conversations with local dignitaries at these events is a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the politics and background of their city.

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The Girne shipwreck (about the same size as Sea Cloud) which sank just off Girne harbour about 2,300 years ago (around 300BC) after travelling from along the Turkish coast from as far north as Samos with a cargo of olive oil and almonds.

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The Bellpais monastery on the hill overlooking Girne is a beautiful spot. Unfortunately we weren’t there for one of the concerts they have regularly in this lovely refectory. The holes in the back wall were reported to be a result of English troops practicing rifle shooting in the 1950’s. The lovely gardens are a popular wedding spot.

IMG_6840 IMG_6836 IMG_6835 IMG_6847 The St Hilarion castle on the peak above the coast is in an impressive site, easy to see why it would have been easy to defend in times gone by.

IMG_6853 IMG_6857 IMG_6863 The green line between Turkish and Greek Cyprus, the border controls in Nicosia and the Turkish troops doing target practice just below the castle is a reminder that this is still an unsettled part of the world. The ex-cathedral now mosque in Nicosia is one of the many seen around Turkey.

The pirate party – one of the highlights of the EMYR calendar – concluded our stay in Girne. There were some fabulous costumes, much better than our bits and pieces cobbled together at the last minute. Parading through the town with our flags was a lot of fun. Locals come our each year to enjoy the parade, while some tourists obviously were a bit perplexed by the antics! Our resident German bagpiper Claus piped us through the town and around the old harbour. Fortunately his bagpipes had been returned after he left them in a taxi following the last cocktail party.

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Dinner overlooking the sea at the Dome Hotel, was of course followed by dancing. A display of belly dancing by the EMYR group of Turkish and German belly dancers was enjoyed by all.

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IMG_6924 IMG_6943 DSCF6438 Our last few days in Cyprus were are the new Karpaz Gate marina, a beautiful site with fabulous marina, restaurants, art gallery and a beach club with a pool and lovely sandy beach. We were fortunate to be here for the season opening, cocktails, followed by a party at the beach club.

DSCF6476 Our last tour was to the extensive ruins of Salamis, near Farmagusta, a port on the south east side of Northern Cyprus. Tour finished, we were back at the marina to say our goodbyes to our new friends who were heading back to Turkey. Our remaining group of 26 yachts will leave during the night for the 200Nm sail to Israel.

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The EMYR (Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally)

Our first impressions of the EMYR are smiling welcoming faces, and lots of flags! All boats are ‘dressed’ when in port. Flag ceremonies were to soon become a feature at official functions. The start of the rally was quiet as the usual cocktail parties had been cancelled due to the three days of national mourning following the tragic mining disaster near Izmir.

IMG_6113 It was exciting to be part of a fleet of 32 boats heading off across the bay at 6am. The fleet is divided into 3 groups according to size and speed. The smallest boat (Pure Fun) is only 8.4 meters long, so is quite a bit slower than the large motorboats in our group. Our first sail from Gocek to Kas was a cracker, great winds on the beam. Ian was very pleased by how well the boom preventer worked and the new spinnaker pole was also given a test run.

IMG_6095 The winds and seas increased as we approached Kas, with Sea Cloud surfing into the bay near the marina under bare poles.

IMG_6101The arrival of 32 boats into Kas Marina with the winds blowing over 30knots straight into the marina was a challenge. It was handled so well by the marina staff who did a fantastic job of assisting with docking in these difficult conditions. We were made to feel very special, being welcomed with fresh flowers and local goodies. Kas marina was as enjoyable as ever, as was the lovely town. We spoilt ourselves with a hammam at the marina and of course Ian visited his usual barber – I think this haircut will last quite a while!

The boat we had been watching being built over the last few years (first picture Apr 2011) is almost ready for launching (May 2014) – it has been wonderful watching the progress of a boat being built in the traditional way.

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Another 6am start (this will become quite a pattern!) and unfortunately a long motor to Finike marina. Once again, we were given a lovely welcome by both marina staff and expat residents who joined us at the welcome cocktail party. Trish had been wintering here for 10 years!

IMG_6128 Cocktail parties always have a formal component with presentations to the marina and singing of the EMYR song.

IMG_6126 Side trips are a big part of the EMYR. The Finike marina manager guided a small group of us around Antalya, one of our favourite Turkish cities.

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IMG_6158 We had never seen a waterfall flowing directly into the sea – the volume we saw is apparently a small fraction of what is seen in March when the snow melts.

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The trips are a great way to meet new people. It is much easier to get to know 15 people on a minibus for a day.

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Impromptu dinners are a big part of the rally. In Finike it was with a group of Swedes – two of whom were nearing the end of their 8 year circumnavigation. Jan wants to return home before he turns 80 later this year.

Dinner Fineke Ian is looking a lot happier having sourced a replacement for the broken gear connecting cable in nearby Antalya and the knowledge that the solution was simple – he and Sea Cloud are both ‘dressed’ in their rally gear.

IMG_6189 We enjoyed our first formal rally dinner at Kemer, an introduction to the dancing and partying that will occur throughout the rally. Early morning walks and exercise classes are also part of the busy rally timetable, helping us (well not really Ian) to get out of bed and enjoy the morning.

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Another long motor to Alanya marina, our base for a few days. Although we had visited Cappadocia last year, we joined 46 other sailors at 4am for a very full 2 day bus tour back to this interesting area. It is a long drive from Alanya – about 7 hours each way. The Mevlana museum, the former lodge of the whirling Dervishes at Konya was an interesting site and a chance to reflect on their philosophy better.

IMG_6200 IMG_6206 IMG_6212 An appropriate stop for us was one of the many renovated caravanserai along this route. Traditionally an overnight stopping point (safe from the bandits) for travellers along the silk road, this beautifully restored building was a relaxing spot for us after so many hours on the bus.

IMG_6222 Cappadocia has so many interesting sites, we were fortunate that our excellent guide had chosen many places we had not seen before. So many photo opportunities!

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Another 4am start, this time to a beautiful morning, perfect for our hot air balloon flight. What a spectacle, so many colourful balloons floating over this spectacular and unusual landscape and dipping down into the spectacular valleys.

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After walks around Pasabag, a visit to a ceramics factory and then a final visit to the aptly named Love Valley we were back on our way to Alanya.

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IMG_6436 IMG_6429  Alanya Marina put on a wonderful reception for us, and for the first time we experienced the flag procession. As the only Aussie boat – no prizes for guessing who got to do the honours with ours. Each country makes a short speech thanking our hosts (Local Mayor and marina manager). As we are the only Aussie boat, Ian and I will take turns, whereas the many German crew have been asked to share the job around, obviously an issue in previous years.

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Unfortunately the boat carrying our in house Turkish belly dancer will retire from the rally tomorrow due to mechanical problems (boat not belly) – the rest of the girls will have to lift their game to uphold the EMYR tradition!

IMG_6476 Hasan, the rally organiser is a real party boy. So much energy & such a good dancer!

IMG_6492 This rather quirky band follows us from place to place providing the entertainment for our parties. Usually it is just music, but last night we were treated to a bit more. They would look at home at the Petersham bowling club!

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Southern Dodecanese

Although we had planned to explore our favourite haunts in the Dodecanese, a constant stream of strong southerly winds interrupted our plans of going north to Kalymnos and Leros and back in a short period of time. A few days in Rhodes (always such an enjoyable town) enabled us to shop for appropriate gear for the EMYR as we had no ‘formal gear’ on Sea Cloud. We also finally made it to Lindos, a place we had been planning to visit for a few years.

IMG_5953 IMG_5969We could see why there is supposedly a colour ‘Lindos blue’ – the water was stunning. The ruins were really worth the visit.

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Back in Panormitis, we said said goodbye to our new American friends who were heading for Athens. We had shared many laughs, drinks, dinners and conversations with them and hope to catch up again soon. Such meetings are a great part of the cruising life.

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Finally we made it to Khalki – small island off the south western coast of Rhodes. Apparently it gets really crowded in the summer – there was only one other boat on the dock. We were pleased it was a calm evening as the dock had only just been assembled for the summer – they were still screwing cleats into the dock as we arrived.

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A few days here would have been lovely, such a pretty island to wander around, with very friendly locals and great food.

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Back to Rhodes for a very easy check out of Greece and into Marmaris for a very difficult check in! Rather than checking in via the marina as we had done in the past, the officials now insist that boats moor up on the customs dock to check in (which still needs to be organised through an agent). We were not impressed, moving Sea Cloud onto a high concrete wall covered in black tyres – and they didn’t even come to look at the boat!

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Back in Netsel marina, it was lovely to be side by side with Enki to spend some time with Diana and Alex. Their local knowledge and Ottoman Tech Support advice was much appreciated as was their wonderful company. With the boat organised and new spinnaker pole installed, we sadly said goodbye to Alex and Diana as they too are heading west.

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I am sure we will cross paths again somewhere. After a night in the increasingly expensive My Marina in Eckincik (they have introduced a mooring charge) we had a great sail into the wind towards Gocek to start the EMYR rally. There must have been big winds south of us as by the time we approached Fethiye bay, the seas were short and steep, reaching about 3 meters. Thank goodness for Sea Cloud’s hard dodger, it would have been a very wet sail otherwise!

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Spring 2014

Early April is a lovely time in Gocek, with few people and pleasant (but rather unpredictable) weather. Sea Cloud is looking fabulous – so well looked after by Huseyin at HMS Yacht services, with gleaming stainless and a shiny hull. Launch date, as always, is rather stressful – seeing 22tons of your prized possession being towed through a very busy and crowded boat yard by a tractor while gently rocking to and fro on a rather small “trolley”.

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Once in the water, Sea Cloud is very quickly turned into a workshop while Ian installs the Nemeth patented fuel polishing system. We are hoping that pristine tanks mean that the ‘green death’, our very fussy Volvo D3 engine will behave. With cleaned injectors, overhauled turbo and intercooler etc etc, it should be okay. Fingers crossed!

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Apart from the large charter fleet and a few motor yachts, Marinturk is rather empty. Sea Cloud has a wonderful isolated spot on the end of the pontoon. This time of year, they are frantically building all over Gocek. The desolate, “mothballed” resort behind the marina is rapidly transforming into a 5 star hotel. Although the buildings are still shells, it is said that the hotel will be up and running by the 1st June. The speed with which the Turks work is incredible – go to the loo and come back and there is half a building completed!

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So good to be out of the marina! We couldn’t go past a free mooring in our favourite spot in Deep Bay – a good place for a few days of gusty southerly winds.

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Marinturk is definitely not the place to be as it has no protection from the south. Although my first swim was on 20th April, there is still snow on the peaks above Fethiye.

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We had planned to sail around the Aegean this season, visiting favourite places and a few new islands. After a chat with the skipper of the adjacent yacht in Deep Bay, our plans completely changed. By the next morning, we had signed up for the EMYR (Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally)! Although this seemed like a very hasty decision, we had been planning on joining this rally for a number of years, but after its cancellation last year due to troubles in the Middle East, we had forgotten about it. We will join the rally in mid May in Gocek, sail east along the Southern Turkish coast as far as Mersin, then cross to Northern Cyprus, and down to Israel where the rally ends mid June. (Egypt on the agenda but unlikely to happen given the political situation). http://www.emyr.org

We spent a few very enjoyable days in Netsel Marina Marmaris with Alex from Enki (aka Ottoman Tech Support). Unfortunately we missed catching up with Diana who was on mothering duties back in Sydney. Alex and Ian were like boys in a lolly shop searching the back streets of Marmaris for boat bits. On board Enki boom preventer systems were workshopped, later put in place by Ian on Sea Cloud.

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We said goodbye to Alex we headed back to Kiseli Adasi one of our favourite spots in Turkey.

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We always feel sorry for animals in small boats, suspect it means a visit to the butcher.

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Dirsek was a fabulous sheltered retreat from the 20+knot winds blowing through Kiseli Adasi. Such beautiful blue water!

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I almost stepped on a turtle on our walk to the top of the hill – didn’t realize they could hiss so loudly.

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There were great views from the top, across to Simi in Greece and over the lovely bay below.Luckily we saw the pair of snakes lower down the trail before treading on them. Apparently Turkish snakes are pretty shy, unlike the browns at home.

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The brisk southerly breeze was ideal for sailing across to Datca where we anchored in the bay.

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There is more evidence of the new marina which is being built adjacent to the main harbor. I do hope it doesn’t change the character of this lovely town.

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Checkout (via an agent) completed, we sailed the short hop across to Symi, Greece. The usual harbor antics were evident, – it took us two goes to anchor, then we watched another cruiser be uprooted by a charter boat. The charterers were settled and into the bar in minutes, the poor cruiser took the next hour or so to try and reanchor with a brisk wind on their beam. Symi is generally an easy place to check in to Greece. It took a little more time than usual this year as the police are very preoccupied with the large number of Syrians who arrive by boat. They are accommodated on the balcony of the police office in the main harbour before being transferred to Athens.

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Symi is such a pleasant town to spend a few days. Great walks with spectacular views, good restaurants and of course a couple of excellent mojitos all eased the pain of turning 60 for Ian.

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The best time is when the cruise ships and ferries have left for the day, and Symi returns to its calm, pre-season state.

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Although Symi harbour was enjoyable, it is good to be back in a peaceful bay.

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We are now settled in Panormitis on the south eastern corner of Symi, famous for its large monastery.

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Big winds are expected tomorrow, so today we are making the most of walks ashore and meeting other cruisers.

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Some times Sea Cloud seems a big boat, other times rather small. You can rent this ‘charter yacht’ for $62,000 per week! The tiny yacht at its stern is actually 40 feet long!

 

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The crew were fully occupied for an hour or so manoeuvring the yacht to make room for the local ferry. A little close for comfort but fortunately they appeared very competent.

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