Gladlee of Guernsey

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July 1994 - August 1994

14th – 23rd July

Next morning the East Med Net’s relay of the Athens weather forecast suggested that we would still be getting F5-6 for a while, and a NAVTEX message from Varna told the same story.  Our visas were up in a couple of days, though, so we headed down river to Sulina as the wind duly freshened and tied up very uncomfortably on the Harbourmaster’s quay.  Nigel explained to the HM’s office that we wanted to stay a day or two and then clear out, but at first it looked as though we shouldn’t be allowed to go and sit in the “transit basin” of the so-called Free Port round the corner, as Stefan in Varna had recommended.  Nigel insisted that we could not sit on the river without getting damaged and eventually we were given permission.  Before we left Nigel went down the waterfront to try and find some food, but found pathetically little: there seemed to be a lot of rather scruffy bars but very few shops.  One supermarket-sized store had rows of empty shelves but did offer a few chicken pieces, but the fruit and veg store next door had nothing but a few sacks of rotting cabbages.

Eventually a small market supplied some bread and a few handfuls of beans, but several butcher’s shops over the road didn’t look as though they’d been open for some time….  We filled up with water, hauling jerry-cans from a nearby hydrant, then motored the short distance round to the “transit basin”, where the most convenient place to moor turned out to be alongside a floating crane, two of which were parked in one corner.  The rest of the basin was occupied by rusting hulks of small coasters, barges and other assorted scrap metal, together with what appeared to be a Coastguard launch.  The whole place looked dismal, and the “free port” area between us and the town was overgrown and derelict (the front gate of the “free port”, which gave access to a tourist hotel and a duty-free shop, was carefully guarded by police, but there was nothing to stop anyone wandering through wide gaps in the fence at the back!)  Here we settled down to wait for the weather to settle down – it was by now blowing NNE F5.  Later the engineer of the crane we were tied up to showed up:  he turned out to speak some Turkish and was happy to accept some cigarettes and a couple of cans of Fosters in exchange for diesel, supplied from a tap in the crane’s enormous engine room.

Early in the morning Nigel went into town to spend our last lei on postage (three letters never arrived) and bread, as well as to arrange to clear out.  Customs and immigration were busy with a ship that had just pulled in after sitting in the channel outside our basin for a day (we thought it had gone aground), but they agreed to come out to see us as soon as they could.  By the time they did, at 09.30, we had heard the Athens forecast of F6-7 for the Black Sea, so we had to apologise and explain that we couldn’t leave at after all.  Nobody seemed to mind, even though our visas had technically expired, but we were left rather down-hearted and wondering how much longer we should have to kick our heels in this godforsaken spot!  By afternoon, though, the wind seemed to be easing off, and the evening was virtually calm. The following morning’s forecast was NNE F5-6, and the actual wind was F3-4, so we decided to get going and went round to the HM’s quay again to clear out. This time we had to raft alongside a tug, but fortunately the officials arrived promptly and dealt with us very efficiently and pleasantly.  Within 20 minutes we were on our way down the channel towards the sea, not without some twinges of nerves, after the two-day delay, at the prospect of the long passage ahead.  Once we cleared the entrance to the channel, though, we found ourselves bowling along at 6 knots in F4 on the beam, and it felt great to be back at sea and on the move again.  We sailed all day until the wind dropped at sunset, just before 21.00, and that was more or less the pattern for the following day as well, as we sailed from first light to late afternoon, then took in sail for the night.  The sailing was very easy, with just one ship sighted during the three days, and the only problem was a plague of flies, presumably carried on the wind, which got (almost literally) up our noses for two days and ended up carpeting the cockpit as we swatted them by the dozen.  We were slightly concerned by a steady discrepancy between GPS and log, the latter apparently over-reading, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we were getting a foul current of a knot or so over the first couple of hundred miles (it seemed to disappear once we’d passed the half-way point, anyway).

Late on our third night at sea the lights of Sinop appeared some 20 miles to the SSE, and shortly afterwards the wind picked up from the NW (dead astern) to the top end of F4.  We’d taken both sails down earlier, since we couldn’t keep the boat moving in light wind and an awkward swell, so Nigel reeled out the genoa and started rigging the whisker pole (Julie slept on unawares!).  Taking great care to get all the lines in the right place it took him the best part of an hour to get the pole set up, but by half past midnight we were running very comfortably at over six knots.  Two hours later the wind freshened to a full F6 and Nigel took in half the genny, still managing to log 20 miles over the next three hours.  By this time Julie was on deck and took over the helm, and by 07.30 she had altered course round Bafra Burnu and was heading for Samsun at a steady 6½ knots.  By this time the wind was occasionally hitting F7, and we were surging down large rollers, very happy that we weren’t going the other way!  It was quite tiring steering after three nights of fairly broken sleep, but shortly after 11.15 we were hauling the genoa in off Samsun harbour.  Soon afterwards we’d managed to anchor off the end of the short quay at Samsun Yacht Club without too much fuss (it was still blowing nearly F5), helped by one or two club members and the crew of a French yacht (“Fracasse”) moored along the inside of the quay.  The harbour was filthy and the quay had oil and tar all over it, but we were very glad to be on dry land and among friendly people.  After a döner lunch round the corner we set off along the waterfront to find Customs and police in the main commercial port area: finding Customs first we were made warmly welcome by the Chief Customs Officer in person (he obviously had nothing else to do) and fed tea and cake while he found out what we needed to do.  Problems started at the immigration police office, where the police would only give us one-month visas or multiples thereof) at $10 a shot, as issued to Russians, instead of the 3 months for £5 to which we were entitled.  In vain did we show our British visa stamps and insist that we should pay the normal fee – the police were courteous and sympathetic, but $10 a month was all they could offer……  We didn’t have any dollars on us anyway (though our helpful Customs friend promptly offered to lend us some), and in the end we pleaded that we must get back to the boat and left our passports with the police, promising to return at around 10.00 the following morning.  Back at the Yacht Club in calmer conditions we re-anchored in a more convenient place, stern to the quay, and accepted a drink with our French neighbours before a quick dinner and very welcome bed.

We woke to find our stern bumping against the quay – the anchor had obviously dragged in the malodorous slime at the bottom of the harbour.  We pulled ourselves in to lay alongside, which proved less than straightforward in the stiff breeze, and then set off down town to ring Engin Bey at the Embassy in Ankara and ask him to find out what we should do about our visa problem.  Engin promised to call us at the police post at 11.00, so we made our way along to the port entrance, there to find an agitated policeman clutching our passports – where had we been?  Unaccustomed to such attention (the man had been down to the Yacht Club to look for us) we reported to the office and explained, whereupon Engin rang: he’d been unable to get hold of his contact at the Aliens’ Bureau and could only advise us to settle for the “Russian” visas.  We duly agreed, walked back into town to get a health stamp on our Transit Log and returned to complete the paperwork, bearing a couple of bunches of extremely cheap grapes to show no hard feelings.  Our modest present produced a rather comic reaction of self-righteous horror at the police office, though they did consent to take a very small handful and once we arrived at Customs a table and chairs were brought out on to the sunny doorstep and what appeared to be the entire staff was summoned to share in our bounty!  Eventually we managed to tear ourselves away and get back to the boat, where Nigel phoned Jo and James and also spoke to his ex-secretary Rachael and husband “Apo” at their temporary home in the depths of Eastern Turkey.  “Fricasse” left in the early evening, rather optimistically in the still windy conditions, and duly returned later after hitting heavy swell on their way north.  Meanwhile we were invited to sample barbecued mussels on the quay with a group from the Yacht Club but soon retired to bed – not quite recovered from our passage and the exertions of the day!

In the course of the two days we’d had a good look round Samsun, not a pretty place, but evidently thriving and with plenty of life in the streets – fruit and vegetable barrows round every corner, it seemed.  Well off the tourist routes we inevitably attracted attention, though most people probably assumed we ere Russian at first.  In the fairgrounds on the waterfront opposite the Yacht Club is a large open-air market, part of which is full of Russian goods: from time to time decrepit buses with Cyrillic number plates turn up and disgorge vendors of anything from bales of cloth to toolkits.  We got to know a few people at the yacht Club, where there clearly wasn’t enough yachting activity to support the handsomely renovated clubhouse: there were three or four local boats in the water, though, and their owners made us most welcome.  An amiable old boy called Ibrahim Kurtoğlu was a bit of a bore but a most obliging host, taking Nigel off to have a tooth filled by his son-in-law and to pick up a gas bottle and a leg of lamb from his favourite butcher (who unfortunately hacked it into chunks before Nigel could stop him – but we managed to reassemble it for roasting later!). The owners of “Sam”, a large French yacht lying off the quay, returned from a trip round Eastern Turkey in a hire car and startled us further by announcing that the starting point for their cruise had been Spitzbergen….  Neighbours Mehmet and Riza came for a drink before we cooked our lamb.  Friday was Julie’s birthday, and for once we managed to celebrate it in proper style, with mussels and raki provided by our YC friends followed by dinner at a restaurant in the fairgrounds.  Nigel had managed to plot a little surprise for the occasion, and Julie was surprised to be summoned to the phone halfway through the meal to take a call from her parents!

We had originally thought of going east as far as Trabzon, but we clearly didn’t now have time to do this comfortably and get back to Istanbul in time to meet Nigel’s nephew Simon in late August.  We decided to head for Giresun, about halfway to Trabzon, nut nobody had anything good to say about Giresun, so in the end we settled for a short cruise as far as Perşembe, just under 100 miles away on the far side of Yasun Burnu, or “Jason’s Cape”.  Having spent a day sorting out last-minute shopping, fuel and water, we were treated to the Yacht Club’s customary farewell to visitors: a bottle of white wine delivered in an ice bucket with two glasses, and a set of mementos (pennant, stick pin and tie pin in the Club’s colours).

24th – 31st July

We cast off before 07.00 but took a while to get out of the harbour, our anchor was tangled with a fishing net, and once we’d cleared that it took quite a while to clean the filth of the harbour bottom off the anchor.  We managed to sail for a couple of hours, but for most of the 55-odd miles to Ünye we were motoring in light wind and a slight onshore swell.  The new harbour there is a couple of miles outside the town, unfinished but serviceable, and a not unpleasant place to sit at anchor in spite of the nearby main road and cement works.  A short hop across the bay of Fatsa (with a bit of a sail on the poled-out genny) brought us to Yaliköy, an attractive small fishing harbour with a backdrop of hills covered with hazelnut trees – the usual collection of unsightly buildings along the waterfront were at least partly offset by a small park and tea garden area.  We found a comfortable berth alongside and were made warmly welcome by passers-by (a welcome repeated almost everywhere we put in along the coast).  We had an excellent köfte lunch in the tea garden and then found quite a substantial village flanking the main road behind, with several butchers operating grills outside their shops to feed hungry passers-by.  Later we had a pleasant walk up to a hilltop overlooking the sea through the hazelnut forest behind the village, though we ended up decidedly clammy in the high humidity.  We stayed next day, which was dull and sultry, before setting off on an uncomfortable swell few miles up to Jason’s Cape, then running on the genoa past Akkuş Adasi (supposedly the island from which a flock of birds attacked the Argonauts) and the small fishing harbour at Mersin, before turning the next corner towards Kislönu harbour, on the outskirts of Perşembe.  On the shore of a bay just north of Kislönu we spotted two substantial houses with a dock and a motor cruiser moored off, and as we passed we were “buzzed” by a youth on a jet-ski; not our favourite marine machine, but we exchanged friendly waves as the jet-ski returned to base.


Yaliköy on the Turkish Black Sea coast

Boat building at Mersin

Kislaönu was virtually empty, with almost all its resident boats hauled out for the close fishing season, so again we parked on the quay with loads of space.  The boatyard was a hive of activity, and everyone greeted us with a smile – several people wandered down to submit Nigel to the usual interrogation (where are you from? How big’s your engine? How do you manage to get the sail up? What do you do when it’s wet? Etc. etc…..), and various groups of kids came to gaze at this strange apparition.  Later the motor cruiser from the next bay turned up and disgorged a cheerful little man in a cloth cap, escorted by half a dozen youngsters, who invited us to call in to his house for a meal or a drink whenever we liked, then manoeuvred his boat rather uncertainly out of the harbour again and disappeared round the corner.  After a day pottering about and visiting Perşembe – a modest holiday resort, but with not many obvious visitors about – we decided to make for Mersin, just round the corner, giving ourselves the option of visiting our friends in the motor cruiser if they happened to be at home.  Nobody was visible at either house as we made our way into the bay, but people appeared from all directions as we got nearer and two kids in a dinghy put out to invite us ashore.  We anchored off and were ferried over to the houses, which turned out to have been built as summer holiday homes by our new friend Ersin Çelik and his cousin.  Ersin had a paint manufacturing business in Istanbul but was originally from Ordu: he, and his wife Ayten, and their family entertained us to an excellent lunch, after which we went on board the motor cruiser (a new toy which Ersin confessed he didn’t know much about) to advise on his compass, barometer and GPS!  After that the least we could do was to offer some of the kids a sail round the bay, so we embarked five of them for what proved quite a lively outing as the wind touched F5 off the headland to the north.  We got back safely after just under an hour, said our goodbyes and by 17.30 were alongside the quay in the picturesque little harbour of Mersin, overlooked by trees and a minaret, with traditional small boatbuilding on shore as well as a surprisingly smart-looking bar! 

Kişlaönü harbour, looking towards Perşembe

Getting back round Yasun Burnu the following morning involved butting into a westerly F4-5 and a lumpy sea for a couple of hours, but once past the cape we had a fast reach down to Fatsa, where we were expecting to do some shopping.  The harbour was a thoroughly unsightly dump, and big enough to allow a sizeable fetch across it – with plenty of space to choose from (the place was virtually deserted) we shifted our berth after an hour or so.  Getting to town involved a fairly long walk along a dusty main road, and the town itself was unmemorable, though we did at least manage to get the meat we wanted.  We were surprised later to get a visit from a Customs officer wanting to check our papers, apparently because of suspected smuggling by Russian boats.  We moved on to Ünye next morning, motoring into the NW wind that seemed to have set in for the duration, and spent the day cleaning and polishing the white-work.  Julie dived to adjust the rope stripper, which seemed to be making more noise than it should – slight concern, too, about the starter, which was failing to engage from time to time.

1st-7th August

A heavy rain shower soon after midnight warned of a change in the weather, and there was heavy cloud to the NW as we left Ünye at 06.20 in a light westerly – Julie understandably downhearted as the stripper sounded rather worse after her efforts the previous afternoon.  After an hour we were off the cape north of Ünye town, the cloud had thickened further, rain spots were hitting the deck and the wind had freshened to F4/5.  We turned round, put the genoa out and were back in the shelter of the harbour by 08.30.  The wind continued to increase all day, rain clouds heaped up, and eventually we had torrential rainstorms with spectacular thunder and lightning at intervals throughout the night.  It was still windy and wet next day, and we removed a good 60 litres of rainwater from the dinghy to the water tank!  We  rowed ashore during a break in the weather and hopped a dolmus into Ünye for lunch and food shopping, but we had a hard wet paddle back into the stiff breeze and chop.  There was still rain about the following morning, but the wind had eased and prospects looked brighter, so we set off for Samsun again at 06.30, sailing occasionally but mostly more or less headed, until six hours later we reached Civa Burnu, the low-lying promontory at the mouth of the Yeşilimak River.  Here at last we could bear away, and we had an excellent reach, averaging six knots, all the way into Samsun harbour, tying up inside the Yacht Club jetty in the space vacated by “Fracasse”.  We just had time for a quick trip into town to drop off a gas bottle and check (in vain) for mail at the PTT before treating ourselves to dinner at the club.  Later we joined in a noisy send-off for club member Günhan in “Kuğu” as he set off for Sinop.

The morning brought no joy again with mail, so Nigel visited the sorting office, where the staff kindly undertook to forward anything that turned up to the Consulate-General in Istanbul (three letters finally caught up with us in Antalya seven months later!).  We then set about finding out what was wrong with the second alternator (and/or the TWC regulator) which had packed up the previous day, and as we tried to start the engine to run a test nothing happened – the starter motor had evidently seized.  Friend Mehmet summoned a mechanic, who removed the motor for inspection, and meanwhile Julie returned from the gas shop with an empty bottle – the factory had declined to fill another one.  In the circumstances we obviously weren’t going to set off for Sinop that night as planned and already low spirits were not improved by the discovery that the kilo of butter we’d bought that afternoon was mouldy!  Still, we did realise how lucky we were that the starter had decided to pack up at Samsun instead of Fatsa or Ünye…….  Things came together in the morning, anyway.  Belgin the mechanic turned up and reinstalled the starter successfully (charging £10, which Mehmet assured us was far too much!), and we quickly traced the alternator problem to the TWC.  For the second time we packed up the unit’s PCB and posted it off to the Swedish manufacturers – also in the post, to the Cruising Association, went our pilotage notes on the Black Sea so far.  The ever-helpful Ibrahim took Nigel off to a gas plant out of town, where the manager, a friend of his, had our bottles refilled for free, and Nigel even managed to exchange the mouldy butter!  He also briefly met Russ, an American who’d sailed to Turkey, had been teaching in Samsun for several years and was about to set off on the return journey westwards – we were soon to meet again.

Samsun Yacht Club, (with Günhan’s “Kuğu”)

Riza and Ibrahim, arriving at Sinop after the overnight passage from Samsun

Nigel had meanwhile half-jokingly invited Riza, who’d returned fairly drunk from crewing to Sinop on “Kuğu”, to repeat the experience in “Gladlee”.  Ibrahim accepted with alacrity for both of them, but Nigel didn’t take this very seriously until Ibrahim started driving round town to lay in stores (melons and bags of sweet biscuits) for the trip.  Slightly apprehensive about having two potential back-seat drivers on board, Nigel told Ibrahim firmly that they would have to do as they were told, and Ibrahim gave his assurance that “there could only be one captain” – two, in this case, reminded Nigel!  By 18.30 both of them (Riza a little more sober) and their supplies were on board and we were casting off.  There was a slightly embarrassing hiatus as we had to return to pick up a warp left behind on the quay, but eventually we waved goodbye to our remaining friends and set off northwards into a light wind and chop.  Three hours later the wind backed NNW, and we were able to get the sails up and make good progress up to Bafra Burnu.  As we made our way up the coast Riza was looking more and more nervous – the lighthouse at Ince Burnu evidently wasn’t working, and the one on the far side of Bafra could be deceptive.  It emerged that Günhan, not trusting his GPS, had give Bafra an enormously wide berth, so Riza and Ibrahim became convinced that we were getting too close to the shallows inshore.  Nigel altered course north-westwards for Sinop, only to be assailed by anxious calls from the cockpit – we were going backwards!  Fortunately Nigel managed to reassure our passengers that they had got totally disorientated, and we continued towards Sinop without further alarms.  The wind gave up on us off Sinop’s great headland on a lovely sunny morning, so we motored the last five miles into the crowded harbour, accepting the offer of a temporary berth alongside “Kuğu”.

Sinop Harbour

Our guests left to catch a bus back to Samsun, and on Günhan’s recommendation we parked alongside a nearby fishing boat.  Later we had a wander through the pleasant old town, with its impressive fortifications, and finished the day with a good dinner at one of the restaurants on the waterfront – funny to encounter tourists again, mostly weekend visitors from Ankara, by the sound of it.  Next morning we were visited by Hilmi, secretary of Samsun YC, who was there with his boat as well as the club’s visitors’ book, which we signed after reading contributions from a few familiar boats (“Cetos” and “Court Jester” among them).  Meanwhile we’d done some shopping and climbed the section of the walls overlooking the harbour: a fine view, which we photographed as “Kuğu” left for a day-sail with friends (the slide later illustrated our piece on the Turkish Black Sea coast for “Yachting World”).  At midday we said goodbye to Hilmi and set off round the cape in a stiff WNW F4-5, which gave us a lively reach with one tack to get on course for Akliman.  Eventually we were headed, though, and we finished the trip under power, anchoring in the sheltered bay at 17.00 – the wind eased enough for us to barbecue some pirzola as we sat off the pleasantly wooded shore.

8th – 13th August

It rained heavily overnight, and in the morning there was heavy cloud and a steady westerly wind of F4-5.  Showers continued through the day, and there was clearly no point in trying to get round Ince Burnu to the NW of us.  Early next day it still looked pretty gloomy, but we decided to get going: there were lots of white-caps out of the lee of the cape, but the sea looked worse than it actually was, and the wind didn’t get above a F5.  The wind stayed obstinately in the W, though, and we could only plug on under power, with a reefed main steadying us a bit in the usual swell.  Making the best of a bad job we pressed on 15 miles further than planned, anchoring in the half-completed harbour of Konakli Liman after 10½ thoroughly tedious hours at sea.  The weather improved overnight, and we set off early again along the coast to Inebolu, where we tied up on a fishing quay beside a heap of coal.  Initially rather surly looking locals helped us fill up our water cans in the toilet of a  nearby café and treated Nigel to a çay, after which we walked into town to get supplies for the next three days (also had excellent Iskender for lunch).  The wind got up from the west again during the afternoon, but despite hazy visibility we enjoyed the three-hour drive to Doğanyurt past steep wooded slopes and spectacular rugged headlands.  There didn’t seem to be much of Doğanyurt, but it boasted a very solid-looking breakwater and a fine new quay: there were quite a few holiday-makers about on the black sand beach and messing about in boats, so we elected for privacy and anchored off again.  Flat calm and hazy again next day as we set off, sighting several schools of dolphins on the way past Cide to Gideros Liman, an almost totally landlocked cove which is one of the very few natural anchorages along the whole coast.  We were expecting to find Russ, the American from Samsun, at Gideros on his boat “Hygelig”, but it was a surprise to see a French catamaran, “La Gazelle”, at anchor in the cove as well.  We had to pick our spot quite carefully, since there were quite a few isolated rocks not mentioned by Heikell or “Cetos”, but Russ rowed over and took our line ashore and we were soon safely moored and sitting down to a late lunch.  Elke (German) from “La Gazelle” swam over to say hello (we were to meet Michel and baby Maxi next morning), and later we went ashore to join Russ for a beer on the terrace of the little lokanta run by Ramazan and wife, with occasional help from old Selahattin – a lovely, peaceful spot.


Gideros Liman

Russ, Ramazan, Elke, Maxi, Michael and Julie at Ramazan’s ‘lokanta’, Gideros (“Hygelig”, “La Gazelle” and “Gladlee” in the background)

The next two days were a real delight, starting quite unexpectedly with the arrival of friend Ersin from Perşembe in his motor cruiser. He and his two-man crew made rather a noisy hash of anchoring (causing us no little embarrassment with our yottie neighbours!), but we ended up having breakfast at Ramazan’s together.  They pushed off again in the afternoon, by which time we’d invited Russ over for a soup and bread lunch which lasted until we went ashore for a beer in the early evening.  In between times we swam and cleaned the boat, having a thoroughly pleasant day.  Michel, Elke and Maxi joined Russ and ourselves for Ramazan’s çay, bread, (home-made) honey and cheese breakfast – we never seemed to pay for it – and we lingered on, chatting, until it was time for lunchtime beers. (Michel turned out to have found “La Gazelle” in a more or less derelict state on the Casamance river in Senegal, which vied with Spitzbergen as an unusual starting point!).  Clouds started rolling in during the afternoon, as did a bit of swell, the barometer was dropping and it was very humid – Russ described graphically what Gideros could be like in bad weather, and we all decided it would be as well to leave the next day.  Ramazan and his wife prepared an excellent dinner (mussels, hamsi and salad) for us in the evening; never before, they said, had more than one yacht been anchored off their restaurant at the same time.


14th – 22nd August

We said our goodbyes over breakfast and set off for Amasra just before 11.00 in a light north-easterly, which soon freshened enough for us to get the sails up.  We had to put in a couple of gybes as we ran down the coast (“La Gazelle”, a few miles behind us, were going very nicely on their huge genoa), but in spite of some quite tricky steering in the swell we made a steady six knots or so.  We had a good F5-6 by the time we approached Amasra harbour, but we had no problems anchoring off the long beach below the walled peninsula of the old citadel: “Sam”, the big French yacht from Samsun, was also there, but “La Gazelle” didn’t show up.  We rowed ashore for a wander round town later – a pleasantly shady main street along the saddle linking the peninsular with the mainland, with cafés and restaurants overlooking the old harbour on the other side.  There were quite a few Turkish holidaymakers about, but virtually no other foreigners in evidence.  Finding ourselves shorter of fuel than was comfortable we were given directions next morning to the local “Sanayii”, or workshop area, where we got our spare cans refilled via a jug, gravity fed from a  tank in the roof of a mechanic’s shed! We had a wander round the rather disappointing “old” town – nothing much left apart from its walls – and pushed off in a freshening NNE wind after lunch.  A good two-hour reach down to the entrance of the Bartin river was made even more memorable by a group of eight exceptionally playful dolphins, who kept us company for an hour and then circled as we got the sails down, presumably waiting for us to come out and play again.  The harbour at the river entrance is a prohibited area (there seemed to be submarine pens dug into the cliff), but we wanted to go up the river anyway.  After a couple of miles gentle chugging upstream we came round a corner to a cluster of houses and moored boats near a bascule bridge: there was nowhere obvious to go, but the owner of a motor boat gestured to us to raft alongside.  “La Gazelle” wasn’t there, but Russ turned up and rafted outside us just in time to be invited to dinner – pepper steak with cream sauce!

Our neighbour turned out to be a judge on holiday, and he counselled against trying to continue upriver, as we’d hoped to do, as far as the town of Bartin – the bridge didn’t open regularly, as we’d been led to believe, and it would be altogether too difficult to get someone down from Bartin to open it specially.  The morning dawned sultry and thundery, and we had heavy rain followed by intermittent showers, but things looked a bit brighter by early afternoon and we decided to explore upstream in the dinghy.  We then discovered that the outboard engine’s flywheel had jammed, but a little WD40 did the necessary and we set off under the bridge and along a peaceful stretch of water, lined with bushes and trees and a few fishermen, which could have been anywhere in Europe.  Sadly, it soon became apparent that the river banks were also strewn with litter, and with the outboard unaccountably cutting out from time to time we didn’t press on too far.  An Austrian yacht, chartered, turned up later on its way to Yalta – we wished them well…….  We went into Bartin with Russ by dolmuş next morning, finding a pleasant little market town with some nice older buildings and an excellent grocery store (apparently the branch of one in Ankara).  On the way back to the bus station we passed a whole pile of reinforcing rods for a new building; just the right thickness for a better temporary repair to our broken stanchion (Russ had leant too hard on our first effort), so we persuaded a slightly incredulous workman to cut us off a short length.  Later we fitted it, with unsolicited but friendly advice from Tahir, skipper of the fishing-boat on the inside of the raft – it did the job very well until we installed a new stanchion the following spring.

The dolphins between Amasra and Bartin



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