Chapter Forty Two    Autumn, 2008

Here we are.  Back in Turkey, once again.  And ever so glad to be here.  Our visit to the States ended on a rather unusual note: we rode out Hurricane Ike at John’s brother’s house in Houston.  About 3:00 a.m. the eye of the storm passed right over our house.  All are safe, thankfully, but there was quite a bit of damage in the neighborhood.  We managed to get out after a few days and took these photos within a few miles of our house.

                

Oh, and on returning to Turkey we almost didn’t make it with all our “stuff.”  We brought back with us a few bits and parts for the boat, naturally.  You are familiar with recent luggage restrictions on airlines, so you’ll understand what it means to have six carefully-weighed pieces of luggage, not including rather hefty carry-on bags.  Turkish Customs certainly saw us coming, and questioned us about our copious baggage, opening a few pieces along the way.  None of the five officers spoke enough English for us to communicate clearly that all this stuff was destined for a “foreign yacht in transit” which officially exempts it from Customs duties.  In the end we “did an American,” and moved on without tariffs.  (“Doing an American” involves looking totally confused, shrugging one’s shoulders with a ‘What?  Nobody told me!’ attitude until one is freed and sent on one’s way.)  In all we had about 250 pounds of boat parts and supplies.

 

Turkey!  This coastline is absolutely glorious.  Steep, pine-covered hills dive into the clearest, bluest sea one can imagine.  The water is still warm in September and October, so swimming is great.

                   

And best of all, the tourists are mostly gone.  We had plenty of room to anchor where we wished, when we wished.  For the six or seven weeks of our fall cruise, we never once stopped in a marina, but were always “living on the hook.”  Days were sunny and warm; nights cool and clear.  We broke out the blanket!

                                                                                 (That’s Seraphim, the pretty one in the foreground.)

We sailed south and east for about 100 miles, concluding with a week in the most beautiful and secure bay we have ever seen.  We dinghied ashore and met İbrahim at his restaurant quay.  He told us the village had about 300 residents in season, but would close up in about two weeks for the rest of the winter.  We returned to Seraphim after a nice cup of tea to spend the rest of the day reading and relaxing. 

                 

From then on, İbrahim arrived each morning with a loaf of fresh bread for us, as he cruised through the anchorage drumming up business for his restaurant.  You gotta love the Turks!

 

This area of Turkey is the ancient nation of Lycia.  The Lycian civilization flourished here for a few thousand years before the Greeks took control.  Among the remnants of their civilization left behind are their intricate rock tombs.  Some are carved into cliff faces, and others are free-standing sarcophagi resting on stone plinths.  They are everywhere!

                           

A nearby village (smaller than İbrahim’s) is built on the ruins of an ancient city, most of which has now sunk to the bottom of the sea.  Of the area left as dry land, there is an ancient fortress built on the hilltop.  As we moored our dinghy, an old woman approached us and bade us welcome.  She spoke some English and showed us the path up to the “castle.”  It is a good thing she did, because while we could have made our way, there were clearly some ways up that were better/easier than others.  The view from the top is lovely, with one bay stretched out in front of us, and another behind.

                                                            

Our friendly old woman led us down by another path, and when we were ready to depart tried to sell Sharon one of her hand-embroidered headscarves.  And she tried hard!  But she wanted 50 YTL for something we have seen in the bazaar for 10YTL.  No sale.  We did feel somewhat sorry for her; the season was over (we were two of only five tourists that day, and the others were all Turks), and she was looking at five long months with no income.  We left her a bit disappointed, but tipped her generously for her trouble.

                   

Just off the Turkish village of Kaş lies the Greek island of Kastellorizon.  And I do mean “just off;” the channel between Kaş and Kastellorizon is a mere 1 mile wide.  It took us less than an hour to anchor, dinghy ashore, clean out the local markets of “not-available-in-Turkey” goods (salamis, pork chops, corned beef, blue cheese, evaporated milk, etc.) dinghy back and be on our way.  This little Greek outpost is inhabited by just 200 people, and while charming there is just not very much of it.

                        

                                                            

Ancient ruins are everywhere.  In Kaş we hiked a few blocks from town and found ourselves in a nicely-preserved Hellenistic theater, with more Lycian rock tombs just above.  This particular rock tomb is known for the interior carvings showing 23 dancing girls, but it was so dark the photos didn’t come out (but we saw them).

    That’s a Turkish warship in the background; behind it is Greece.

                                           

We anchored in the Goçek/Fethiye area for a few weeks.  It was a crazy time; old friends from all over kept popping up.  Some we hadn’t seen in several years, others in several months.  But it was fun to catch up. 

 

This large bay has a string of islands in the center, making for loads of anchorages and little bays tucked in here and there.  One such spot is home to Kapi Creek Restaurant.  The restaurant maintains mooring for about 20 boats, and offers a very nice evening meal.  As we were finishing our dinner, a fancy gullet arrived, backed into the quay, and disgorged its cargo of businessmen!  They were in Goçek for a meeting, and this was their evening’s entertainment.  John could see himself in just such a setting a few years back.  That seems a long time ago!!

 

On leaving Kapi Creek, we caught a mooring line around our boat’s propeller.  John went for a swim, but after about 30 minutes still had one wrap that refused to budge.  An Australian man on a charter yacht with his family saw my distress and interrupted his breakfast to dive in and help me get the last bit free.  (Even with two of us, it took another 30 minutes to free the line.)  Fortunately there was no wind, no tide, and the water was clear and warm.  And the Australian was a good diver!

 

In the hills above Fethiye is Kallekoy.  In Kallekoy the Turks and Greeks lived side-by-side in peace and mutual respect for centuries.  Then came the Population Exchange of 1923, and the Greeks were suddenly removed and “repatriated.”  The village died.  It is now deserted.  Talk is that it is the model for the novel “Birds without Wings” for those of you who have read it.  (Recommended!)  The entire village had an eerie feel to it.

                                   

From there we hiked up and over the hills and down the other side to the beach at Őlü Deniz.  The trail was blazed, but we lost our way and had to hack our way through the underbrush, down steep hillsides and gullies, over dry waterfalls for the rest of the way.  We made it, and it was a great adventure, but what should have taken 3 ½ hours took nearly 5.  What a great way to spend a day!

               (We descended the tall hill in the background.)

Of course, what cruise would be complete without a few mechanical problems to solve along the way?  But we were able to repair both the cracked heat exchanger and the clogged fuel system in short order, and were on our way without serious delay.  Just a few years ago mechanical issues such as these would have stopped us cold, but now they’re mostly viewed as problems to be solved.  Was it Oscar Wilde who said “Education is just a matter of hanging around until you catch on?”

 

So now we are back in the marina in Marmaris and getting set up for the winter.  The sails have been sent off for cleaning and storage, the engine cleaned up and put to bed, and the electric heater taken out of storage.

 

As the Turks say, “Kolai gelsin!”  (“May your work go easily.”)