Hello One and All
It is Saturday 28th September and we are sitting in Poyraz Fishing Harbour at the top of the Bosphorus, Turkey. It is time to up anchor and move on again towards our winter home in Lefkas Marina on the Island of Lefkada – Greece - in the Ionian Sea. We still have a lot of miles to cover, but hopefully the autumn will be kind to us with warm days and good sailing conditions. Also we have the Bosphorus, our “open air” museum, to share with Judith and Graham. So that is just what we do – up anchor on a lovely sunny morning, cross over to the European side of the strait, and head off towards the heart of Istanbul. Being my fourth trip along the Bosphorus I become quite the tour guide telling one and all, or whoever will listen, what we are passing!! I am not really a city person, but there is something about Istanbul that other cities don’t have. Maybe it is because it stands at the crossroads between east and west divided by a stretch of water that has seen more historical events than most others. But what Istanbul also has is a rich cultural heritage for being the capital of Rome, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires, in days gone by. I wanted Judith and Graham to see something of this.
|Fruit and Vege Shop|
After a lovely trip down the Bosphorus, we crossed to the Asian side at the Golden Horn, then, just after 1300 we were anchored outside the Kalamis Marina. The temperature was now 28 deg. c. We went ashore in the tender to ask at the marina about check in procedures to Turkey. We had heard and read different stories about how difficult and expensive it is to check in at Istanbul, and most people try to avoid doing it here if possible. For us that was out of the question. We needed to check Judith and Graham in, so they could fly out of the country here. The marina manager was not very positive and passed us on to another marina further along the coast!! Well we needed money, some food and a travel agent, so after our little chat with him we attended to our domestic duties before heading back to SHAMAL.
|Sunset off Kalamis Marina|
The following morning we proceeded to the Pendik Marina to check in there. We tied up at the Super Yacht pontoon. Within minutes someone arrives in a tender and says we can’t stay here, but has very little English. He calls the Manager who soon arrives. He tells us we are on a dangerous pontoon due to the wash from other boats – Thanks!! - and, also tells us we need an agent - B#**:! Alec and Judith duly set off with him with all our paper work. Graham and I get our fishing lines out!! Judith and Alec returned over an hour later not totally impressed with check in costs, but an agent had been organised and we should have our papers sorted the same day. We wait, and wait. At 16.50 the agent returns with everything in order, but,
2 British Visas (for Judith and Graham) Euro 30 N.Z’ers don’t need a visa.
1 Turkish Cruising Permit Euro 50
Agent Fee Euro 250
Marina Fee Euro 100 This fee we were told had to be paid in order to complete our paper work as the receipt was to be shown to customs etc. This was NOT the case as it was not even taken with the agent!! Another rort/scam as Alec calls it.
During all of this Dean and Ann Christin arrived on their yacht. We told them to anchor off and not tie up to a pontoon to avoid the hideous costs. They did this and told us later they checked in themselves without using an agent, but it took two days. Unfortunately for us we did not have the time as the following evening Judith and Graham were flying out.
|Spice Shop, Grand Bazaar|
We decided to anchor out at the Princes Islands that evening. Another lovely anchorage and away from the surge and boats which were now leaving Pendik Marina after a ten day boat show which was just finishing, and boats were being moved about.
Turkish Cat in
We now only had one day of site seeing for Judith and Graham to get a taste of Istanbul, so the following morning we sailed back to the European side of Istanbul, dropped anchor in a lovely little bay we have used before, and set off to visit The Golden Horn area. We saw the old city walls, walked through the Grand Bazaar - it was here we saw a Turkish Angora or Turkish Van cat. These are the white cats with one green and one blue eye. We also saw the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and walked the gardens of the Topkapi Palace. What was going to be lunch but ended up only being drinks, was had in a lovely open air restaurant looking back up the Bosphorus – time to reflect, look back and take in just how much we had done this year. Later after lunch, Graham found the entrance to the city’s largest underground cistern built in the 6th century, which we visited. Most impressive. Then it was time to go back to SHAMAL to collect their bags so they could head for the airport.
|Salutation Gate, Topkapi Palace|
Alec and I decided to stay anchored in our little bay and move off in the morning. Ashore we downloaded another weather forecast to find that we may be in for a blow in the morning so it would mean an early start. Early start it was. The next morning at 03.45 the winds were picking up and coming straight into our little bay, so we upped anchored and motored on out. We decided to head back to the Princes Islands and wait for this weather system to pass through. Good thing was we were able to sail the whole way there. By the time we dropped anchor the winds outside our bay were gusting 35 - 40kts with a good sea running. We settled down for the day and started doing cleaning and small maintenance jobs. The following morning we woke to rain and the temperature had dropped to 13 deg. c. Help where had my lovely autumn sailing days gone to!! Mid-morning ‘Maringret’ also sails into the bay to shelter from this weather system. Ann Christin comes over in their dinghy and invites us to dinner that evening. We accepted and enjoyed a wonderful meal and good company that evening. Thanks guys.
|Big Sultan, Big Problems,|
Big Worry Beads!!!!
|The Basilica Cistern,|
The next morning we had a wind change – in our favour – and even though it was still blowing between 25-30 kts we decided to head for the Island of Marmara some 60nm away. So with 3rd reef in the main off we set. We had dolphins with us on and off during the day, and the shipping to watch out for as we were in the traffic separation zone which runs from the Black Sea to the bottom of the Dardanelles. We were noticing now that the days were getting shorter, and it was dark when we sailed into the Marble Quarry Bay at the northern end of Marmara Island. This was another anchorage we had used on a previous visit.
The following morning we thought we would head out early to get as far down the Dardanelles as we could during daylight. NO, not to be. A big sea was running across the entrance to the bay and we could not leave. It was not until midday that conditions improved enough for us to be able to up anchor and motor on out. Again ‘interesting’ seas were running. We dropped anchor just outside Lapseki Fishing Harbour at 22.30 after covering 52nm. The temperature had dropped to 10 deg. c. and then there was the wind chill factor. We were freezing and really glad to have a hot shower before bed that night.
|Anything for us Mr Fisherman,|
We woke to a beautiful sunny morning but still a cold wind, and headed on down the Dardanelles to Canakkale. We anchored outside the Harbour and went ashore for supplies and dinner. The following morning it is only 7.8 deg. c. but the sun is up!!!!! Oh help, but we are both still in shorts but with warm tops on now. We motor to a big bay at the bottom of the Dardanelles and drop anchor. The wind has dropped and it is early afternoon. We have decided the hulls need a bit of a clean so with wet suits on we climb into the tender armed with brushes and reach into the water as far down as we can to clean some of the green sea grass growth off.
|Sunset over Ayvalik Lake|
Moving south again we find our next anchorage among a group of Islands just north of Ayvalik. We notice that during that leg both the air temperature and the sea temperature are warming up again, thank goodness. This was another late night finish for that day - 2230, so we decide as we only had a few miles to go to reach Ayvalik we wouldn’t leave until late afternoon. Time for some R. and R. in the morning. I have had no luck fishing this season so hang a line over the side. I end up with four very small, rather pathetic things called fish, but I am determined we will eat them. Alec is given the job of cleaning them up. I later look for them at the fish market in Ayvalik and don’t find them, so we decide they are not table fish!!!
|The Lake, Ayvalik|
Ayvalik is our check out port in Turkey. We can now slow down again as we don’t want to be in our winter home until November. We spend three days in Ayvalik relaxing, reading, shopping, eating out and enjoying this picturesque town situated on the ‘lake’ – a large body of water totally surrounded by land with a channel leading out to the sea. The weather is now perfect. Warm and sunny, nearly swimming weather again.
|Mitilini, Lesvos, Greece|
Then we move on to the Greek Island of Lesvos to check back into Greece. You may have noticed that we have been stopping at some of the places we visited on our way up to the Black Sea. After four nights in Lesvos, again relaxing and enjoying the place, we decide to move around to the south eastern corner of the Island and anchor just outside Kolpos Yeras, a landlocked gulf. It is a beautiful evening with the temperature now 26 deg. c. The following morning we move further around the Island to a larger landlocked gulf called Kolpos Kalloni on the south western side of Lesvos. This gulf was used as a base for the British and French Navies to support the unsuccessful Gallipoli/Dardanelles campaign. We anchor off a small fishing village in the shelter of a lovely sandy bay. Then we have another change in the weather. Oh well it is now autumn and we should expect this. We end up spending three nights here before moving south again.
This time to the small Island of Psara 45nm south of Lesvos, and 10nm to the west of khios. Like many Greek Islands its most brilliant period in history has been and gone. It was one of the first Islands to rise up against the Turks during the Greek War of Independence in 1821 having the third largest naval power in Greece at the time. Today this small barren Island is home to a population of around 460 people. We went ashore for a few supplies and walk through the cobble stone streets of the village. There were not too many people around.
Next day it was south again to the Island of Tinos. We are now back in the Cyclades. We arrived after dark under a full moon having had to motor most of the way much to Alec’s annoyance. The following morning, Murphy’s Law, the winds increase and as we are anchored out we decide to stay on-board. Good thing we did as during one particularly strong gust we did drag, but the anchor caught again and set itself. The following morning we ventured ashore. Most of the visitors to Tinos are Greeks as they come on a pilgrimage to visit the ‘Church of Our Lady’. The port area is very pretty with shops, hotels and restaurants along the wide quay. Once again we enjoyed a coffee at one of the restaurants overlooking the water. This harbour was clean enough to swim in.
That afternoon we sailed on to the Island of Mikonos and tied up inside the unfinished new marina, and because it is unfinished, there is no charge. There was no power to hook up to but we did not need to. The winds were strong enough to keep our wind generator going which kept the batteries topped up for the four days we stayed there. There was a fresh water tap so the boat was given a good wash down. Mikonos is now claimed to be the most cosmopolitan Islands in the world by the local Greeks ? We were visiting at the end of the so called ‘high’ season, which made it so much more pleasurable for us. We could wander its tiny cobbled alleyways and take photos without another person in site. It seems all the houses have just been whitewashed, and it is said there are 365 churches on the Island. They could be right about that one as every second building seemed to have a red, blue or green dome with a little cross on top!! Old windmills sit on a small hill overlooking the town. A local restaurateur told us they use to import the grain from the Ukraine to mill. With the blue of the ocean and the white, white buildings it is a very picturesque town. Also the seafood was delicious. Again a lovely place to spend some time in.
|Ann on Delos|
Now just off the south western corner of Mikonos, 6nm away, lies the small barren Island of Delos. It was once considered the political and religious centre of the ancient world. Greek mythology tells us it was the birth place of Apollo. Not that I am really into that stuff, but another pile of very interesting ‘old rocks’ to look at. Alec really put his food down about this one and there was no way he was going to wander around anymore ruins this year. Never mind, I would join the few tourist who were still doing trips out to the Island, and wander around the ruins myself. So that is just what I did. It is not a high Island and there are no trees growing on it. It was forbidden for anyone to be born of die on the sacred island. That could have made life interesting at times!!! Today one sees fallen columns, sections of mosaics which were on the floors of the houses of the rich, a stadium with tiers of seats which pretty much lies in ruins, schools, shops, five marble lions which guard a sacred lake, and much more. It was worth the visit.
So four days later when the winds again turned to be in our favour it was time to move on. Again they were quite strong gusting to 38kts with 2mt breaking seas, so we reefed the sails and had a downwind run which makes for a very pleasant ride. We were heading for the Island of Paros, and had dropped anchor in the sheltered harbour outside the Islands capital Paroikias, on the western side of the Island, well before dark. So it was ashore for a bit of an explore, and then a drink in a restaurant overlooking the harbour watching the sun going down. Paros is considered to be the centre of the Cyclades. It has a population of around 8,000 people and also is a big tourist attraction. The Island use to have marble mines on it, and it is said that the marble for Napoleon’s tomb came from here.
|South end Elafonisos,|
Our next and final stop in the Cyclades was to be the Island of Milos, one we had visited before, and we thought this would be a good hop off point to the reach the bottom of the Peloponnisos making for a good days sail. But by midday Alec decided as the winds were still with us, and due to drop tomorrow morning, that we should continue on and make the most of the good sailing conditions. So that is just what we did, turning the trip into a night sail as well. It was a lovely night apart from being very cold, but the stars were out. We had quite a lot of shipping off the bottom of the Peloponnisos as we crossed one of the main transit routes, but nothing hazardous. Just after 0800 the following morning we had dropped anchor in a beautiful sandy bay with very clear water at the south end of the Island of Elafonisos at the bottom of the Peloponnisos. We could still see the bottom at 20 meters.
We spent two days here and it was even warm enough to get back into the water and give the hulls a good clean using the power snorkel before we moved into the marina for the winter. Our next stop was in Porto Kayio. Another place we have visited before. Then on to Methoni on the south western tip of the Peloponnisos. This place has a most impressive Venetian fortress built right out into the sea on the point. This is also a place we have explored before. Next stop was the town of Pilos which is situated in Navarinon Harbour. This is where the famous naval battle in 1827 between the Turko-Egyptian fleet, which had 89 warships and 2450 guns were anchored in the bay, and the British, French, German fleet under Senior Admiral Codrington, who only had 26 ships and 1270 guns, and despite the fact that his country was not at war with the opposing fleet, sailed into the bay with their gun ports half open and also dropped anchor, right in the middle of the trap. An Egyptian ship was said to fire the first shot, and then it was all on. Admiral Codrington and his ships won the battle which effectively helped the Greeks win their War of Independence.
Two days in Pilos and we were on the move again. Again we did not have to pay for being in this marina as no one really owns it and runs it at the moment. All the power boxes have been cut off at ground level and removed and the water disconnected!! Never mind it is a sheltered marina. We sailed into Porto Roma, a bay at the bottom of Zakinthos Island. We did not arrive till after dark and crept into the bay very slowly watching the depth sounder and the fish finder (which shows us a picture of the sea floor) and the radar chart overlay on as we were not sure of this place. We were picking up what we thought were large mooring buoys on the radar and wanted to stay well clear thinking they must be metal ones. It was a good thing we did as in the light of the following morning our ‘mooring buoys’ were not that at all, but rocks!! We had anchored well out and were well clear of everything.
From Zakinthos were did the run directly to the Island of Lefkada and anchored out for our last night this season in Tranquil Bay. And that is just what it is. We are nearly land locked in here and we had a peaceful night before lifting anchor for the last time this season and sailing the last 8nm up to the Lefkas Marina. It is now 4th November and is cool, grey and overcast. The rain is just starting.
So this sailing season sees us clock up 4,250nm, yes rather a lot for a season, but what an adventurous one it has been. No regrets at all. Hard work at times and some interesting sea and weather conditions, but nothing SHAMAL could not handle. Richard, she is a good little ship. The only real thing that needs attention soon will be a new set of sails. So, now our grand total altogether is 31,187nm. We think we are about half way around!
|Arriving in Lefkada|
in the rain
We will now spend the next three weeks putting SHAMAL ‘to bed’ for the European winter months. The marina community here is much smaller than what we had in Sicily with about 40 yachts with live-a-boards wintering over here. Over half the people are British with the rest being made up of Norwegian, Dutch, German, American, Australian, and a couple of Kiwis. People will come and go during the season to visit family and friends. We will not be staying in the Mediterranean this winter, but will head out for Abu Dhabi to spend some quality time with our family, and of course our grandchildren who have just had their first birthday. In the New Year we will go back to New Zealand for the summer before returning to Greece in April next year to continue this Adventure.
|SHAMAL put to bed for the winter|
Lefkada is a delightful town and one that does not close down during winter months like many Greek towns which only come to life in the summer season for the tourist trade. Also we are spoilt with the choice of chandleries for all those boat bits, one being right at the end of our pontoon. Also just outside the marina gates the Saturday markets are held with a great selection of fruit vegetables and other local goodies. We are also spoilt for choice of supermarkets. The restaurants and bars are also open. One of the first things we did was to get our bikes out as our mode of transport around town. Alec has been down to the Irish Bar twice to watch the NZ All Blacks beat the French and English.
|Dinner on Mikonos|
So it is now that time of the year, perhaps a little early, but we would like to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and a Safe and Prosperous New Year. We would also like to thank all of you who have taken the time to drop us a line from time to time. It has been a horrid year as far as our computers are concerned with limited or no access at times, and it has been so nice to receive that email from you when we have been able to jump online.
This is The Admiral and The Commander signing out.
|Grand Bazaar, Istanbul|
Love to you all