Gladlee of Guernsey
August 1994 - September 1994
Early next morning we followed “Hygelig” down the river and out to sea again in very pleasant conditions, with only a slight swell and ESE F3-4. We motor-sailed for a while to give the batteries a boost, passing Russ as well as the beach near Hisarönü where we’d camped overnight on a weekend out from Ankara six years before. As the wind backed NE later on we hoisted the ‘chute and ran comfortably for an hour and a half, but by lunchtime off Zonguldak we were on the edge of F5 – always a danger of getting caught out with the wind on the quarter, so we dot the ‘chute in, put a reef in the main and poled out half the genoa, goose-winged. This gave us quite stable steering and 6-7 knots down to ?lüce Burnu, where we gybed the genoa for a final reach in 25 knots down to the large commercial port and smoke-belching steelworks of Ereğli. Russ arrived, heavily reefed, and anchored nearby an hour or so later. Nigel rowed ashore and had a frustrating time finding somewhere to put a phone call through to UK – the few public phone booths were busy, and the main PTT was up a steep hill some way out of the town centre, overlooking the huge steel plant. Not a particularly attractive place, Ereğli, but as we discovered next morning it has an excellent central shopping area and a superb market, so we stocked up handsomely on food. It is also the only place east of Istanbul where you can take on fuel alongside, so we duly rafted alongside a fishing boat on the fuel dock and took on diesel and water. We left at lunchtime and sailed for a couple of hours to Akçakoca, where we soon spotted “La Gazelle” and backed into the quay nearby. Another small fishing harbour this, but distinguished by a series of paintings covering almost all the inside harbour wall – some of nature scenes and seascapes, some of historical figures (Akçakoca is named after one of the original Ottoman Sultan’s generals) and one of a huge new modern mosque under construction just off the waterfront. Michel and Elke were a bit upset at having had their portable radio stolen off the boat just after they arrived (they’d also caught someone trying to make off with their folding motorbike in the early hours on the quay at Ereğli) – something one doesn’t expect in Turkey. Fortunately we had the almost identical model and wanted to get rid of it, so a deal was done to mutual satisfaction the following morning! Apart from this unpleasantness the town proved quite attractive, with good shopping and a friendly atmosphere: one hoped that the cheerful kids showing off their diving on the quayside hadn’t been responsible for the burglary on “La Gazelle”.
After a day at Akçakoca we pushed on to Kefken, a run of 45-odd miles during which we managed to sail for only a couple of hours. After the mountains and steep capes of the central coast the landscape was now much gentler, with low hills behind beaches and a sizeable number of new holiday developments. We passed Kefken Island and headed for the harbour of Kefken town, but we’d spotted a possible anchorage in a large bay (known as “False Kefken Bay”) a couple of miles back and decided to have a look at it. On one side of the bay was what looked like a naval refuelling station – very new quays and buildings, though there was nobody to be seen – but on the north side we found reasonable shelter off a pleasant wooded cove with a few holidaymakers on shore. Depths were a bit dodgy (Nigel stood up on a rocky patch not too far away) but we decided we’d be OK in the settled conditions – it was certainly a pleasant change not to be in a harbour. We did look into Kefken briefly next morning to pick up some shopping – “La Gazelle” was parked virtually on the beach! – and then pushed on to look at a couple of anchorages suggested by a Turkish Coastguard survey which Russ had got hold of in Samsun. The first was too exposed in even a light northerly, but we tucked into Bozkoca Iskelesi, and almost landlocked small cove with a nice beach, for lunch and a swim. The wind had picked up to F4 by the time we left, and we covered the remaining 9 miles or so to Şile in a couple of hours: the harbour was pretty full with local fishing boats, but “Hygelig” was moored alongside the quay, and we woke Russ up from his siesta to help us raft alongside him. “La Gazelle” duly turned up later and completed the trio by rafting outside us. A picturesque place, overlooked by a ruined watchtower on a rocky islet and wooded slopes, dotted with white houses, rising towards the main part of the town on the hilltop above. Unusually, apart from the rather ugly block of the main PTT, the view had not been spoiled by careless unsightly jerry-building. Instead the senses were assaulted after dark by loud music from two bar/restaurants in the harbour area, competing with a high-powered disco somewhere on the hill. The racket went on until the small hours, and we did not sleep well.
23rd – 31st August
Our pleasure at being rafted up with friends was slightly mitigated the following morning when we discovered that the main loo pump was blocked – nothing for it but to take the offending article to bits and clean it. Our neighbours were very understanding, feeding us cups of coffee and studiously ignoring the slop bucket, but we were glad to get the job over with! Later we wandered up the hill with Russ to have a look at the town, which spread out downhill from its quite attractive main street running along the ridge away from the sea. We found the place unusually clean and smart, the shops relatively sophisticated and well stocked: the food stores had prime cuts of meat and other luxury products which we hadn’t seen on this coast before. Clearly this was the influence of Istanbul, to which Şile is the nearest serious seaside resort, but it made a pleasant change from the scruffiness we had generally encountered further east. We did some food shopping and checked on the availability of buses to Istanbul (nice to find an information office open, and a girl speaking good English in it). From this it was clear that it would be as easy to get to Istanbul airport, to meet Nigel’s nephew Simon, from Şile as it would be from Poyraz at the top of the Bosporus, and we might with luck get a good sail with him from Şile to Poyraz. So we decided to stay put, had our neighbours over for a farewell drink in the evening, and waved the off westwards the following morning in a nice NE breeze. One facility that Şile didn’t appear to have was water on the quay, and we spent a strenuous couple of hours filling our 30-litre water cans at a tap several hundred yards away and hauling them back to the boat – less of a labour these days, though, thanks to our new trolley. The Austrian boat we’d met at Bartin turned up later and reported that they had been asked, as expected, for ludicrous mooring fees at Yalta: they claimed they’d simply refused to pay but managed to spend an enjoyable few days there anyway!
Next day Nigel caught the 08.00 but to Istanbul and met Simon at Yeşilköy airport, calling at the Consulate-General for mail on the way (nothing from Samsun, but he was delighted to find the TWC regulator, returned to us unexpectedly quickly from Sweden). He and Simon just missed one bus back, but this gave Simon his first impressions of Turkish city life as they killed time with a stroll round Üsküdar: they were back in Şile by 18.00. The wind promptly turned WNW, but the following morning we called on the harbourmaster to put Simon on the transit log (a mistake, this, since the HM clearly had no idea what he was supposed to do and consequently lost face!), topped up with water and set off into a breeze which was never quite far enough off the nose for us to sail. It was a pleasant enough passage, though, until we approached an enormous pall of smoke drifting out to sea from the high ground NE of the entrance to the Bosphorus: bits of ash started dropping on the deck, and as we came round the headland we could see raging forest fires in several places behind Poyraz. We pulled into Poyraz, passing a Ukrainian yacht anchored off the entrance with a jury rig consisting of the top half of its mast (they said they were OK!), and could see how fortunate it was for the village that the wind had kept in the west – the fires had come quite close as it was. Helicopters buzzed overhead and fire engines tore down to the harbour at intervals to take on more water: later, thankfully, it rained, and by morning the worst seemed to be over. Nigel and Simon went ashore to get bread and take photos of the anchorage, and afterwards we enjoyed a magnificent brunch with sausages and bacon Si had brought with him. The weather was rather dull and showery, but the journey down the Bosphorus was still magnificent, with some of the old houses almost within touching distance as we hugged the Asian shore, the castles of Rumeli and Anadolu Hrsar, the two great suspension bridges, the shipping going up and down, and eventually the splendid skyline of Istanbul itself. We reached Kalamis Marina at Fenebahçe in the late afternoon and refuelled, whereupon Nigel miscalculated his approach to our berth and would up broadside on to a couple of boats on the next pontoon – we extricated ourselves eventually, but it was an object lesson in what can happen if you don’t maintain concentration during even the simplest manoeuvre!
Next day we walked up the road to the Migros supermarket for a big shop, then took Simon across by ferry to Eminönü on the European side and walked across the Galata bridge to the old part of Istanbul. Disappointingly the Mirir Çarşisi (Spice Market) was closed, but Si was mesmerised by the crowds and the market stalls as we made our way up the hill to the great Suleimaniye Mosque and from there past the Covered Bazaar (also closed, but it was Sunday!) to the Hippodrome and Ayasofia. We were too late to visit Ayasofia (and Si was flagging a bit), but we stopped for a çay before making our way back down to the ferries. Flocks of white storks circled overhead in the early evening, gathering for their migration south, and later our friend Gülcan came on board for an excellent roast lamb dinner. On Monday we had another sightseeing expedition, this time to Galata, with a ride on Tünel (one of the world’s oldest underground railways, and surely the shortest) up the hill to the smart shops of Istiklal Caddesi and the Çiçek Pasaji market. In the late afternoon we left Kalamis and had a gentle sail on the genoa out into the Marmara Sea towards Princes Islands, the weather clearing to give a lovely evening. There was more dreadful forest fire damage to be seen on Heybeliada, as we lost the wind and motored round into the bay on the south side of the island: among half a dozen boats anchored there were….. “Hygelig” and “La Gazelle”! Russ came over for a drink and stayed to dinner as we caught up on our respective news.
All of the “Three Musketeers” decided to leave early – we were all heading for Marmara Island, 60-odd miles to the WSW – but we were the last to get going at 06.00. There wasn’t a breath of wind, which was rather galling, and we ended up motoring all the way in a flat calm sea, overtaking “La Gazelle” and “Hygelig” on the way. The only distractions were a crewman on a fishing trawler whom we spotted making agitated distress signals with his shirt (when we diverted to investigate we found he just wanted to sell us some fish!) and a large flock of pelicans, making heavy weather of their journey south in still conditions. We were more or less at the entrance to Topagaç harbour on Marmara when the wind suddenly got up out of nowhere to NE F5-6, decidedly too late to be anything but a nuisance as we anchored. Russ came in nearby (“La Gazelle” had gone to Saraylar, round the coast), but neither of us got ideal shelter from the swell kicked up be the belated wind. At least it held up for us next day, and we ran down the east side of the island under genoa and across the short stretch of open water to the channel between Paşalimani and Koyun islands. This makes a natural anchorage, reasonably well sheltered, and in attractive surroundings – the steep bulk of Marmara island to the north, and the gentler slopes of the smaller islands on either side. We anchored a short distance off Paşalimani hamlet, where “Hygelig” joined us, and after lunch Nigel and Simon pottered about in the dinghy (engine still cutting out at intervals) before picking Julie up for coffee on board “Hygelig”. By the time we’d finished the wind had picked up to F4-5, with occasional gusts to 25 knots, and quite a bit of swell was rolling down the channel. We’d already taken soundings from the dinghy further inshore and established that there were adequate depths behind the hamlet’s little jetty, so both boats re-anchored in shallower water and considerably more comfort (a coaster moored further out in the channel was heeling over quite alarmingly!). Unfortunately this brought us even closer to the mosque, whose Imam’s unmusical decibels were in inverse proportion to the tiny size of his establishment!
There was still a stiff breeze in the morning, with gusts up to F6 from the high ground to the NE, so we decided to stay put until it eased. By mid-afternoon the consensus was that conditions were improving, so we weighed anchors and headed for the southern end of the channel. Once on the south side of the island we had a good reach towards Erdek with a couple of reefs in, but emerging from the lee into Narliköy channel we hit a peculiar short steep sea, with swell from the NW, as the wind first went round in circles, then dropped completely, then gusted from various directions at up to 25 knots. The clouds above looked like a speeded-up series of satellite pictures on a TV weather forecast (or like egg white being stirred in hot water) – a peculiar sight. We assumed we were in some sort of local disturbance: it was certainly quite unpredictable, and in the end we (and Russ ahead of us) gave up trying to sail and motored on to Erdek. The sea suddenly calmed down once we cleared the channel, and we found our way to a berth on the tree-lined quay at Erdek with no further excitements. In the evening we had a wander round the attractive leafy town centre – another low-key Turkish holiday resort – and afterwards Russ bought us a good meze and köfte dinner. Good company, Russ, and he hit it off well (in spite of some sly teasing) with Simon. The next morning was sunny, but there were still a few gusts about to suggest that the wind hadn’t altogether moderated. Nigel and Simon hauled water from a tap a couple of hundred yards away, and in between tipping jerry-cans into the tank, Julie did an oil change. Russ produced some beers, and then we set out together for an Iskender lunch and food shopping (curiously, all the butchers seemed to be in same place, along the upper floor of a building by the bus station). We said our goodbyes to Russ, who was heading for the Dardanelles, and set off back towards Narliköy channel, running into all sorts of wind from the NE, but freshening steadily as we plugged on up the channel. By the time we reached the cape before Ilhanköy we were getting over 30 knots apparent wind, and we were very glad to get round the breakwater and into the shelter of Ilhanköy harbour. We settled in alongside the quay, and the usual inquisitive bunch of locals turned up. Unfortunately Nigel was persuaded to demonstrate how the Aerogen operated, and in the process he caught his arm in the blades, snapping one and giving himself a nasty scrape and some bruising. Simon set about cooking dinner (his speciality, Chicken Jahal Frezi), which was a very pleasant change for us.
It was still windy next day, though sunny and clear, with scattered cumulus to enhance an excellent view over Paşalimani and Marmara islands as we climbed up the hillside behind the village. The wind and sea seemed to calm down a bit at lunchtime, but later it blew up again and we abandoned the idea of going across to Asmaliköy on Marmara. A barbecue was out of the question too, but the pirzola we’d bought for it turned out quite well on the grill. The morning forecast was more promising, and we set off NNE-wards for Silivri shortly before 08.00. Such wind as there was soon died, and by early afternoon we had a flat calm. We stopped for a swim in sight of Silivri: no sooner had we started off again than we got a moderate offshore breeze out of nowhere, but we were tucked up in harbour less than an hour later. Not the cleanest of harbours, though efforts were obviously being made to smarten it up a bit, and our deck rapidly acquired a film of grit blown off the quay. We found what we needed in town, though, Nigel phoned Alison Tebbit in UK to order a new Aerogen blade, and we spent a comfortable enough night. After shopping next morning we set off eastwards along the coast towards Istanbul, getting a lovely offshore F4-5 until we eventually got headed off Yesilköy. We logged 30 miles in 5 hours (including a ten-minute stop for egg and bacon sarnies), a few timed touching 8 knots on the deck speedo. The scenery was uninspiring, dominated by high-rise blocks and the oil and gas terminal at Ambarli, but the excellent sailing more than made up for that. We refuelled on the way in to Ataköy Marina, admiring a huge yacht (“The Other Woman”) which had passed us on the way, and then berthed on a pontoon (what a treat!) with capable assistance from the staff.
In the morning we wandered out of the marina (an odd pedestrian access route, via a gate in a wire fence and the concourse of the “Regatta” restaurant/night-club complex behind), over the footbridge spanning the main coast road, and up through the main shopping street of Bakirköy to the railway station. The local train into Istanbul was amazingly slow, but it was quite a scenic run through the old walls and past the fishing harbours and ships at anchor in the roadstead. We got off at Cankurtanlar and walked up the steep hill below the walls of Topkapi, then round the corner to Ayasofia, which was as spectacular as always in spite of extensive scaffolding set up for restoration work. From there we walked along to the Covered Bazaar, where Si insisted on buying a fake Swiss watch, but where we also found a gold chain for Carrie and some nice T-shirts, a tie for Robin and a nicely carved wood-block for “Granny Jo”. After lunch we took a roundabout route down the hill to Sirkeci station to catch the train back to Bakirköy. Having failed to find someone there willing to fill our gas bottles Nigel later took them across to our former suppliers in Fenerjolu, but unluckily they’d just sent off a consignment of bottles (at least he had a quick trip back on the high-speed catamaran service from Kadiköy, and on return he found that the office had arranged to do the job!). Our second day’s sightseeing took in Topkapi Palace (including the Harem tour and the unexpected bonus of a performance by the colourful Mehter Band), the impressively columned Byzantine cistern, which we hadn’t seen before, and finally the Sultanahmet Mosque, which for once was mercifully free of touts. Back in Bakirköy we got a repair done on one of our alternator cables, collected photos and got back to the boat to shower and change before welcoming Jonathon and Erica Beard on board for a drink. Afterwards the Beards took us out for a magnificent dinner at “Gelik” restaurant up the road – both of them excellent company, and Erica particularly charming to a delighted Simon.
8th – 15th September
After seeing Si off at the airport we set about shopping, cleaning, laundry and minor repairs before Alison arrived in the small hours of the following morning. We got the second alternator back into commission, but in the process we were dismayed to discover an air leak at one of the injectors, together with melted rubber on the engine block nearby. The marina managed to produce an engineer, but it was too late to investigate the problem properly that day, so we arranged to regroup the following morning. We picked Alison up from Yesilköy on time soon after 03.00 and managed a few hours’ kip before the mechanics turned up and diagnosed a disintegrated ‘O’ ring underneath the injector. After a few strenuous attempts to get the injector out in the very limited space they suggested moving the engine into the cabin to work on it, which didn’t appeal to us very much! Nigel went to talk to the Zafer-lookalike technical manager, who said that if they wanted them to do the job quickly we’d have to give them a free hand. Fortunately someone found a more efficient extractor tool in time to prevent more drastic upheavals, and by mid afternoon the injector was back in place with a washer doing duty for the ‘O’ ring. In the circumstances the charges for the work were not unreasonable, and we were very relieved to be able to get under way with Alison only 24 hours behind schedule. A fireworks display on shore later that night seemed quite appropriate!