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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



30 July 2013

Southern Greece to Istanbul

Hello Again

Dusk, Vourkari, Kea
 
Once our family had left us in Vouiliagmeni – mainland southern Greece - and with Kaylene – Alec’s younger brother’s wife - as our new crew member, we made our way down the coastline spending a night in the bay of Anavissou.  Chapel Cove was our anchorage that evening and the waters here are clean enough to swim.  We had good shelter from the ‘meltemi’ – the name given to the northerly winds which begin blowing in June and reach full strength in July and August.  They blow throughout the Greek Islands and the coast of Turkey all the way to Istanbul.  They can be extremely challenging making some legs nearly impossible.  You just have to sit in a sheltered bay and wait for a lull, and then motor. 
SHAMAL, Vourkari, Kea

 
The following morning we set off for the Island of Kea, our first stop in the Cyclades.  Kea is mountainous with a rather bare landscape.  Scattered about the hillsides are olive trees, and oleander bushes are found around the coast. They are so pretty as they are in flower over the summer months, and yes I do know how poisonous they are!!  Once away from the mainland we were able to sail the 12nm out to the Island.  We dropped the anchored in Vourkari, in the NE arm of the Bay of Nikolaou, then went ashore to visit the village.  That evening there was a wedding in the village.  We had seen people arriving and sitting in an outdoor restaurant while ashore.  Well, the party went on till 5.00am!!!  Lots of music and singing. 

Gavrion, Andros
So with little sleep we were on our way by 7.00a.m.  Our next stop was the Island of Andros.  We were able to sail the whole way with reefs in the main and jib as the wind was gusting to 38kts at times, but we had a good sail.  Here we dropped anchor in the harbour of Gavrion.  As we were having lunch we heard whistles being blown.  We did not realise it at first, but the Port Police were trying to get our attention. We ignored it till they came on the radio and asked us to move further into the bay as the ferry from the mainland was arriving in 15 minutes and needed turning room!!  So we moved, and then this humongous ferry steams into the harbour, drops its anchor, and goes hard astern into the ferry quay.  We would have been a little close for comfort if we had not moved.  Again we went ashore for a few supplies and our evening drinks.  Hard life.  Andros is a little greener than most of the other islands in the Cyclades as it has plenty of water, so, more olives, pines and fruit trees are grown.  We were even visited by a couple of hungry swans.

 
Town Quay, Khios
From Andros we headed out to Khios.  This is the island from which mastic comes from – the only island in Greece.  It is a resin from a bush from which chewing gum is made, along with health and beauty products, medicine and varnish. Even a liqueur is made from it.  I bought the deodorant!! Smells good too.  This was a trip of just over 70nm and we wanted to do it in a day so set off at 6.15a.m. We had no wind till around 10.00a.m. and then we were away. Again we were able to sail with the ‘meltemi’ which makes for a nice change. We rounded the S.E. end of the Island and dropped anchor just as the sun was setting in a nice sheltered bay.  The following morning as we upped anchor the winds were already 25kts coming down the channel between Khios and mainland Turkey.  We only had a short distance to the town of Khios, nearly half way up the eastern coast, but were making no head way, so after two hours of thumping into headwinds and sharp seas we turned back and dropped the anchor behind a breakwater of a tiny fishing harbour after only just 6nm.   Just after 4.00p.m. we decided to give it another go, and this time tacked out to the Turkish coastline and back towards Khios. At one staged we were only half a mile from the Turkish coast when a voice came over the radio, “ sailing yacht be advised that you are in Turkish waters “  Ah well time to tack. We were still short of the town again, so decided to drop the anchor outside yet another fishing harbour.   The following morning we were up before 6.00 and motored the last 6nm into Khios Harbour.  We tied up alongside the concrete quay with huge black tyres to keep us fended off.  We made sure our fenders were between the tyres and SHAMAL as they leave really dirty black marks all over your hull.  The water was rather dirty ,and  we read in the cruising guide that sewers empty into the harbour!!  Pity as it is quite a nice town, but also rather noisy when you are tied up alongside the main street running along the harbour front. We only spent a night there but did manage to see some of the town. We ate out again enjoying the local food. Oh and yet more music trying to lull us off to sleep –not !!!
Fish Farm off Khios

 
The following morning sees us heading up the channel towards the Island of Lesvos.  This is the third largest island in Greece.  Much of it is covered with forest of chestnut, oak, pine and our good old olive trees, hence it is greener and more fertile than many of the other islands.  There are so many wonderful bays and coves, and two deep landlocked gulfs.  We could have spent a good month just exploring this island, but we need to press on if we are to get to the Black Sea.  Again the ‘meltemi’ is blowing, on the nose at 20kts, but, soon starts to die off. We pass fish farms which seem to occupy some of the nice sheltered bays.  No room for yachts in these places anymore which is a pity.  That evening we drop anchor in a clean bay outside the harbour of Mitilini on Lesvos under the shelter of the historic Byzantine Fort, hoping for a good night’s sleep before tying up to another town quay.  There was a bar on the beach playing music, but we all slept fairly well that night.  Once on the quay the next morning Alec gave SHAMAL a big wash down with tons of fresh water.  It felt good to be desalted again.  Kaylene and I took a visit to the Port Police as this was the Island we would be checking out of Greece from. Then it was the usual boat jobs before taking a walk around the town.  Lesvos, like most of the Greek Islands has a long history dating back to around 3000 B.C .  We walked around the base of the old Fort followed by dozens of what we think must be stray dogs.  The streets in the old part of town are narrow and winding.  There are still some of the grand old mansions from days gone by.  The following day was a day off, and again we walked through different parts of the town.
Mitilini, Lesvos

 
The ‘meltemi’ had been reasonable kind to us up to this stage, but now it was about to change.  It had carried us across the Cyclades and Eastern Sporades without too much tacking, and only being forced to stop a couple of times. Now things got interesting!!  Before leaving Mitilini - our last Greek port - we visited the supermarket and I stocked up on pork and bacon knowing I will have trouble finding those in Turkey. Also we visited the fruit and vege market, bakery and bank.  We then took SHAMAL over to the customs quay to get fuel as we heard it was around two euros a litre in Turkey, and, we needed to complete our check out procedures from there.
Mitilini, Lesvos

 
Just before 4.00pm – yes it took that long to clear out and get fuel – we were on our way.  We only had a run of 12nm and it does not get dark now till around 8.30pm. Yes again the winds were on the nose, but only light so we decided to motor to the Island of Ciplak which is in Turkish waters.  We had stopped and anchored at Ciplak in 2011 on our first run up to Istanbul.  We would continue on to Ayvalik, our check in port in Turkey in the morning.  Again we had head winds, but only light so motored there and dropped anchor in the sheltered bay on the southern side of the Island.  We had noticed a vibration with the port engine on the way up so Alec had turned it off and we used the starboard one.   Once anchored he dived to see if we had something caught around the prop.  Sure enough he came up with shreds of plastic from a plastic bag the prop caught.  The winds were increasing, but the island in front of us gave us good protection.  During the night the winds woke Alec and he got up and switched on the instruments and found the wind was now gusting 40 kts plus, so he also turned on the anchor alarm should we drag.  I had plenty of chain out – 55mts in 3-4mts of water- and had been for a snorkel once we were anchored to see that we were well dug in.  The following morning when he checked the instruments we found we had had a gust of 65.8kts!!!!! during the night.  The 25kg. Rocna anchor held firm.  The skipper always sleeps with one eye open.  The Meltemi can certainly have violent gusts.

Wind Gust, Ciplak Island,
Turkey

 
Then it was on to Ayvalik to check in.  We dropped anchor outside the marina as there was no room inside.  Due to the strong winds, boats had not left the marina on the next leg of their journey, but were waiting for the wind to drop.  It was good holding in muddy sand, but I stayed on board while Alec and Kaylene went to find out what the procedures were.  After a short time they returned to pick me up as the Harbour Master was out to lunch. 

Shoe Cleaners, Ayvalik,
Turkey
By evening we were all checked in, having to use an agent, done some shopping and walked about the town.  The first impression we got was that Turkey is more affluent than Greece. Not all the shops close in the middle of the day like in Greece.  The people are happier and more friendly, and the shops are all well stocked.  After a night anchored out in a more sheltered bay on the other side of Ayvalik  Lake, we headed north again towards the Dardanelles.  After 31nm of sailing we had to take shelter in the fishing harbour of Babakale, under Cape Burun as winds were now gusting up to 35kts on the nose.  With the strong winds even in the harbour we had a little trouble coming alongside the quay, but with the help of other local yacht crew we tied up safely.  We had just finished organising ourselves when a man arrived down from a local restaurant with a huge piece of chilled watermelon.  It was 34degs, so that was most welcome.  There was also a business card that came with it saying we could dine at his restaurant if we liked. Well OK. And of course we did that evening, being offered a lovely variety of scrummy Turkish dishes, including a seaweed dish, and it was not expensive either.  The restaurant was high on the hill above the harbour with wonderful views looking all the way back to Lesvos.  We are now well off the track of most cruising yachts and find everything is more authentic which is so nice.  In the afternoon we took ourselves for a wander around what was an old Greek village which sits on a hillside overlooking the harbour.  There is also a restored fortress and an old Ottoman cemetery.
Sheltering in Babakale Fishing
Harbour, Turkey

 We had another day of tacking for miles before we entered the entrance of the Dardanelles and dropped the anchor in Morto Bay on the northern side. We were in the shadow of the huge Turkish Monument for the Dardanelles Martyrs.

AIS showing shipping entering
the Dardanelles
The next day we prayed for no wind and not too strong a currents as we negotiated our way up the Dardanelles. We only went as far as Canakkale where again in strong winds we had trouble mooring to the yacht quay. In fact this time it got the better of us and we ended up with a horrid big chip out of the gel coat on the starboard stern.  Alec has since fixed it up and it is as good as new now. We then took the local ferry to Ecebat which is on the northern side, and set off in a hire car around the Gallipoli Peninsula.  Our first stop was the new Museum which they call a Simulation Centre.  It takes just over an hour to visit and you are taken through the different stages of the war in 13 different ‘chambers’ where some of the films are done in 3D.  It is very well done, and of course from the Turkish point of view. This was not finished when Alec and I visited in 2011.  We then set off to visit some of the war cemeteries.
Ecebat, Dardanelles

 The following afternoon we are moving on again praying for no wind and again not too strong a current.  With another night stop north of the Dardanelles we make it to Istanbul where Kaylene will leave us.  We motored those last two days, but were glad of no wind because when it does blow here it would have been on the nose for us.  In 2011 Alec and I were stuck on Marmara Island for ten days due to the winds.  So the following morning we took Kaylene ashore and say our goodbyes.  She has been a great crew member and fun to have on-board.

We carry anything!!
Dardanelles
 We will sign out for this leg. 
Sunflower Fields,
Gallipoli Peninsula


 Lots of Love

 The Admiral and The Commander

 

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