A lot of water has passed under the hulls since I last sat down at the computer to send out my screed. Actually I am very lucky to have a computer to write to you on, and it is only thanks to Alec’s brother Rich, that I do – will fill you in on that shortly!!
Our first night just outside Istanbul was spent anchored outside the fishing harbour of Yesilkoy. The following morning Alec decided to take the tender in and see if there was space for us to tie up inside. Most fishing harbours the berthing fees are quite reasonable but finding a vacant berth can be a problem. He found only one, a corner berth, so we upped anchored and motored on in. WRONG MOVE – the wind got up just as we went in and we were blown sideways getting the starboard keel caught on someone’s mooring chain. For the next twenty minutes we were held fast, fending ourselves off the bows of a couple of other boats. No one came to help, they all just stood and watched. The wind kept pushing us sideways onto the chain, and being a corner berth we had no room to manoeuvre. I climbed on board the offending boat and loosened off their mooring line, then suddenly we came free, so we motored on out deciding to give that place a miss, to find a small swimming bay next door which was surrounded by a break-water, so we dropped anchor right in the middle of the bay and there we stayed for the next couple of nights. No problem! Better than paying 100 Euros per night in a Marina/Resort.
Alec and I have both visited this city before in 1999, but it is one of those places you can’t grow tired of. It is settled on both sides of the Bosphorus which separates Europe from Asia. With a population of over twelve million and a history which goes back to 650 B.C. it has miraculously survived with much of the “Old” still intact. We spent a day exploring the Golden Horn where Hagia Sofia, Cathedral/Mosque ( now a museum ) Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar are all situated, walking for miles and trying the local cuisine. The following morning we took SHAMAL and made our way slowly up into the Bosphorus. We read up in our cruising guide to find there were formalities, forms, navigation warnings, papers to process, agents to visit etc ,etc , before one enters these waters. It was all a bit confusing as to what one was meant to do, so, we just went!!! It was holiday time and no-one called us on the radio to ask questions.
It was a slow trip with currents and winds against us, taking around four and a half hours to do the 20nm trip. But so interesting with old coastal summer places, kiosks, mansions and embassies lining both sides of this waterway. As I said it was holiday time, so people were out swimming and fishing at various places along the waterfront. One thing that did surprise us were the number of dolphins that swim along with all the shipping, from yachts to ferries, tug boats of all sizes, cargo ships and even a cruise liner. We dropped the anchored in a small fishing harbour, at the Black Sea end, called Poyraz. Here we stayed a couple of nights exploring the local town and climbing the hill which gives you a grand view across the Bosphorus and out into the Black Sea. Then we made the return trip. Now with currents and winds in our favour we completed the run back in under three hours. It was on the return trip that we had a little mishap. Just before the famous Leander’s Tower, a beacon at the meeting point of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, I had our front windows wide open as it was a warm sunny day, when a rather large ferry, followed by a cargo ship, passed across our bows creating rather large waves. I don’t think I need to go into any details, but there was much cleaning up and washing to be done! It is a very big thank you to Kate and Rich for everything they did here including saving my computer from the drenching.
We spent that night anchored on the Asiatic side of Istanbul at a place called Kalamis. We dropped anchor just outside the marina and were able to take the tender up a small river into the town. We explored the local markets and Alec and Rich had a ‘local’ haircut for about a couple of dollars!! The next day we went out to the Princes Islands just a few miles off the coast. These are really pretty and covered with dwarf pine trees. No motor vehicles are allowed, so trips are made by bicycle or horse and carriage. We left our bikes on board and used the horse and carriage to go from the sheltered bay we had anchored in to visit the village on the other side. The following morning we sailed back to the mainland to drop Rich and Kate off as they were flying out to Spain, and we then went back out to the Princes Islands to spend another night before making our way back down the Sea of Marmara and into the Dardanelles night stopping at the same Islands we had stopped off on our way north.
We reached Lapseki – in the Dardanelles – after dark, and the next morning we left SHAMAL at anchor and took the ferry across the straight to the township of Gallipoli. Another place full of history. The following day we dropped anchor just inside the southern entrance to the Dardanelles and took our bikes ashore this time to visit the Turkish, British and French War Memorials. Then the next morning we motored around the Peninsula dropping anchor just outside the fishing port of Kabatepe. We were just two miles from ANZAC cove. We visited many of the War Memorials like we had done in 1999, but this time with more information, so we were able to find Alec’s Great Uncle’s name on the memorial at Chunuk Bair. He was killed during that bloody campaign. He was Lieutenant Walter Michael Mackenzie of the 8/80 Otago Regiment who was only 25 years old when he was killed, on 09 August 1915. He was from Walter Peak Station, Queenstown New Zealand. One evening we took SHAMAL up the coast and anchored off to take photos and go ashore and visit Beach Cemetery. Wandering around the graves we found that one soldier was only 17 years old. So sad. The Gallipoli Peninsular is now a National Park and all the memorials and war cemeteries are beautifully kept. There is a real atmosphere about the place and we could totally understand why people flock there, particularly the Australians and New Zealanders, in their hundreds for the Dawn Service on ANZAC Day – 25th April, every year.
It was also from Kabatepe that we wanted to clear out of Turkey, but soon found out that was not possible, so we left the boat there and took the bus back to Ecebat, only about 15ks away, then a ferry back across the Dardanelles to Canakkale to do our clearance out there. The marina manager asked us where our boat was as we walked in, not sailed in as is the norm. When we told him it was back on the other side of the Gallipoli Peninsular, he said we would have BIG problems as it should be with us. We decided as we visited each office to do the clearance out, to only answer questions that were asked. The where a-bouts of the boat was not asked, therefore we were all cleared out in about an hour – no problem!! So we happily returned to the boat to spend our last evening in Turkey before heading on to Greece the following morning.
I will finish off this letter here as Greece is another story.
So it is lots of love from
The Admiral and The Commander