Gladlee of Guernsey
September 1994 - October 1994
Aiming for Marmara island again we set off soon after 06.00: it was already very hazy in flat calm conditions, and as a light NW wind got up we ran into quite thick fog approaching Ambarli. Fortunately this didn’t last long, but nor did the wind, and once again we motored most of the way to Marmara. We did get a sail for the last couple of hours to the corner of the island, though, leaving us only a couple of miles short of the bay at Saraylar, where we managed to get the anchor to set at the fourth attempt. It was a pleasant sunny evening, and the surroundings were not unattractive considering the massive scars of the marble quarries on the hillside opposite. In the morning we dinghied ashore and walked along the shore towards Saraylar village, collecting a bright young local lad to whom Nigel chatted along the way. The village is a pretty scruffy sort of place, covered in a layer of marble dust kicked up by the trucks lumbering down from the quarries above, but we were shown the way uphill to a walled area containing a “museum” of (presumably) reject or half-finished Roman statuary and other bits of ornamental stonework found in the area. It was very hot, and after çay by the small harbour we made our way back to the boat (Nigel had a brief meeting with Heikell’s friend Adnan ?ztürk on the way), motored round to the east side of the island and then had a gentle run down on the genoa to Paşalimani, enjoying excellent BLT sandwiches on the way. Next day we rambled along the shore to the next hamlet and back to Paşalimani, both quite attractive little places, though we failed to find a shop or baker open in either (or many edible blackberries, much to Nigel’s disappointment). We left after midday with the usual breeze off the hills to the NE, and once we’d cleared the channel this freshened steadily as we ran down on genoa towards Karabiga, having to gybe once on the way. It was blowing a good F5 as we came past the ruined walls on Kale Burnu, and we sailed straight in to Karabiga harbour. We went alongside and filled up with water, but there was quite a slop against the quay (and coal was being loaded upwind), so we eventually anchored out of the way off the east breakwater. We went ashore later for a very decent meze and fish supper at a small restaurant along the road, and again in the morning to ring up and reconfirm Alison’s return flight. We’d hoped to find some lamb, too, but after a good walk up to the headland and ruins none had turned up, so we settled for mince. The wind still seemed quite fresh as we left the harbour with a couple of reefs in, but once round Kale Burnu and heading eastwards we found calmer conditions: an hour and a half later we had to turn on the engine, but it was a pleasant run along a gently sloping green coastline to the anchorage outside the fishing harbour at Kemer. Here it was perfectly calm, and the evening light was as attractive as on our previous visit: we had supper on deck, followed by Scrabble.
It was a rather bumpy night – calm conditions seem to transmit swell/wash from the approaches to the Dardanelles a few miles away – but it was fine again when we got up and went ashore to get bread from the village. Heading off towards the Dardanelles in a light NE breeze we had a lively debate over whether to have breakfast before or after rolling out the genoa – the sail won, but an hour later it gave way to the ‘chute, and at midday we gybed the main near the wreck inshore of the Zincirbozan Bank. Still sailing into the mouth of the Dardanelles we managed to gybe the ‘chute off Çardak, but half an hour later, opposite Lapseki, the wind became too fitful and we had to settle for motor-sailing on the main. We had decided (quite needlessly, as it turned out) to call into Eceabat to find out about buses to Istanbul for Alison, but going into harbour ahead of a menacing ferry we found so much swell inside that we hastily headed out again and across to Çanakkale. Julie executed a tricky stern-to mooring in the small yacht harbour, in spite of some willing but unskilled help from on shore. Having a beer outside the small bar on the quay we recognised a German single-hander (“Porta”) whom we’d encountered in Viana do Castelo and Gibraltar. He’d been to Bulgaria and Romania as well, and we exchanged news (not very happy experiences in his case, notably hitting an uncharted rock inside Mangalia harbour!). We went out later for meze (good calamari and mussels), followed by coffee and sticky cakes at a pastanesi which also had football on the TV – Alison bowed out while we stayed for the game!
We had an early scrambled egg breakfast before reporting to the bus office to see Alison off. It turned out that passengers for Istanbul simply got on the ferry to Eceabat and caught the bus from there, so we waved her goodbye, did some food shopping and pushed off at 11.00, crossing to the castle at Kilitbahar and then making our way with the current down the European shore, sailing on genoa as far as Anit Kabir, the massive hollow cube that is the main Turkish war memorial for the Gallipoli campaign. A wind shift off the southern end of the Dardanelles encouraged us to get the main up, and we had a very pleasant run with the wind on the quarter for 2½ hours down to Bozcaada, where we anchored stern to the breakwater again. We went ashore for a beer on the quayside, rang James and bought some local wine (pretty rudimentary stuff). Apart from a brief F4/5 on the nose out of nowhere off Baba Burnu we had scarcely any wind on the way into the Gulf of Edremit next day. The trip was made memorable, though, by the sight of a school of dolphins scooting about on their tails and occasionally leaping clear out of the water before twisting and flopping back into the water with a huge splash. It was quite hazy and the sea flat calm as we approached the outer islands of the Ayvalik archipelago in the late afternoon, but a NW breeze got up (too late to be any use) as we anchored in the lee of Poyraz Adasi. Apart from the odd fishing boat in the distance there was nobody about, and we had a lovely evening in the attractive little bay. The atmosphere was slightly spoiled, though, by the discovery that something had been nibbling at the packet of rather special chocolate digestive biscuits Alison had brought us. Further investigation in the locker uncovered shredded tissue paper and punctured packets of porridge…….. It was very hot next morning as we motored through the channel into the “lake” of Ayvalik, anchoring in Alibey harbour to go ashore and do some shopping. Still no lamb, and only limited supplies in the small market, but we did find a mousetrap. Alibey has a certain faded charm, but few of its original Greek buildings seemed in good repair, and the place seemed rather down-at-heel compared to Ayvalik across the way. We went on to Kumru Koyu and “Shelduck Island” in the early afternoon (the shelducks had moved on, though), and hearing distant squeaking it dawned on us that we’d had almost immediate success with the mousetrap – unfortunately by the time Nigel grabbed the trap and dumped it in a bucket of water it contained only one small paw…… This was distinctly more upsetting than killing the unfortunate creature, not least because we feared it might creep off into some distant corner of the bilges and expire there. We reset the trap, but the mouse seemed to be taking a bit more care and we had no luck during a leisurely Sunday, as Julie read and swam and Nigel wrote letters and harbour notes. Conditions were perfect, with a full moon, for Julie’s annual night sleeping out under the stars.
19th – 25th September
On Monday morning we moved over to Ayvalik and anchored off the waterfront near the harbour. Our visas had expired the day before so we had to check out, which proved reasonably straightforward, though a British couple off a large motor yacht wearing a White Ensign seemed to be finding the process frustratingly difficult. Shopping in Ayvalik was very good (a leg of lamb at last!), and we found a less lethal variety of mousetrap for Julie to deploy. We went over to the fuel jetty for diesel and water before making our way out through the islands in the early afternoon and catching a comfortable NW F3-4 down to Mitilini on Lesvos, where we arrived shortly before 18.00 and moored alongside near the port office. We were mildly amused when a port official turned up and presented us with a health declaration – this included questions about the condition of the rats on board (it being assumed that any vessel will have some), but as we wondered whether or not to declare “Squeak”, our mutilated mouse, another official turned up and told us that we needn’t bother. Instead Nigel went off to Immigration and was dealt with very courteously and efficiently (Customs turned up to offer a Transit Log, but were quite happy to take no for an answer). After dinner we went to the bar across the road for drink – they weren’t offering coffee any more so we made our own and brought it over! The noise from the quayside took a while to die down, and there was a loud argument outside the bar at 05.00 the next morning – later we found “Squeak” well and truly dead in the original trap, which Nigel had disguised more thoroughly. The Royal Yacht Squadron boat (“Honey Pot II) we’d seen in Ayvalik turned up, and we chatted briefly to the owners on the quay. We walked uphill from the harbour below the castle, along a pleasantly shady road with some fine well-kept houses, then down into the narrow winding streets of the old town, very reminiscent of a Turkish bazaar area, where we found friendly people and good food shopping. After lunch we took a longer walk round the promontory on which the castle stands, fringed with pine woods and with good views along the island and across to mainland Turkey. This took us to the smaller harbour on the north side of Mitilini and back through the old town again. On the way back we gave “Honey Pot II” a hand as they re-moored and were invited to drinks on board: obviously wealthy people, but very easy and interesting company (and certainly generous with the gin!)
We checked out in mid morning after another shopping trip and hit a steady headwind as we made our way down the coast to Ak Malea. It was still quite brisk as we crossed the bay towards the narrow entrance to Kolpos Years, the smaller of two large gulfs, that cut into the south side of Lesvos – the scenery much more rugged that the gently shelving shore south of Mitilini. We tried anchoring in a bight at the entrance, but it proved too deep for comfort and we eventually went on up the channel to the wide sheltered bay of Skala Loutra. Here we found an attractive secluded bight, with just about enough water for us, below steep slopes covered with olive trees. We had a clear sunny afternoon doing nothing very much, followed by swordfish and prawns in tomato sauce with pasta for dinner. Next morning we scrambled up the hill through the terraced olive trees to a little chapel on top, with a nice view across Skala Loutra bay and up the gulf, as well as over “Gladlee” sitting peacefully at anchor below. We walked down through orchards and farmyards to Skala Loutra village, where we ordered Cokes at the waterfront taverna and then found they couldn’t change a 500 drachmae note – we left what change we had and said we’d bring the rest later. Back at the boat we decided to take a look into the main part of the gulf, so weighed and headed into what turned out to be a large expanse of water surrounded by rather featureless hills – it wasn’t worth going much further, but we did find the pleasant little cove in the SE corner for a lunch stop before returning to our previous anchorage. Unfortunately we misjudged our distance from the shore a bit and a wind shift later in the evening pushed us on to the shallows, so we moved across the bay and anchored off the village just before it got dark: a British-registered yawl was anchored nearby. We stayed there the following day, walking up a track through more olive groves and orchards towards Loutra village at the head of the valley, accepting a lift halfway from a passing car. The village climbs steeply up the hill towards the church, with a good view out over the bay from the top, and we were glad to find a butcher and baker open. There didn’t seem to be any veg about, though, so we wandered back down to the little grocery in Skala and picked up some basics, then went back to the taverna to settle our debt! The wind was quite gusty from the NE all day, but it had calmed down a bit by the time we left next morning and motored the short distance round to Mersinia, and attractive rocky bay below densely wooded slopes. We chose the inlet without the taverna – just one house and a few ruins ashore, and nobody about except the occasional fishing boat laying nets round us. We spent a quiet weekend, with a nice walk across to the next cove through clumps of mastic bushes. Julie removed the rope stripper, which we thought might be responsible for a knocking from the ‘P’ bracket area, but it didn’t seem to make an awful lot of difference.
26th – 30th September
We thought we’d look into the next bay on the way to Plomari, since Heikell’s chartlet suggested there might be a bit of life there. We duly found Tarti, a small hamlet with a nice beach and a handful of tavernas which must be sufficiently off the beaten track to get only the adventurous of visitors. We anchored off and went for a wander ashore before returning for a beer and snack lunch – a few people about, but a nice unspoiled little place. Just over an hour later we were moored alongside the empty quay at Plomari, but at the request of a pleasant port policeman we went over and anchored stern to the breakwater. Even if there’d been room for us alongside we should have been very uncomfortable: as we soon discovered, the harbour at Plomari was built with such a wide open entrance that swell rolls in even in calm conditions. Otherwise the town is a delightful place: houses with Turkish-style balconies cluster on the hill along narrow alleys connected by flights of steps, while the main shopping street runs inland from the town square along the river valley below. People seemed very friendly, food supplies were pretty good, and we had an excellent dinner of stifado at a restaurant run by a nice young couple on the waterfront. We started early one day on a long walk up the valley behind the town, following the river bed into the hills through a remarkably varied mixture of trees and shrubs. Signposting was notably deficient as we climbed out of the woods along a dusty track, and we ended up walking a lot further than we’d bargained for. We turned back when we reached an area of burnt-out trees and found an alternative shorter route back down to Plomari, but we were decidedly tired and thirsty by the time we reached civilisation and cold beers in mid-afternoon! Meanwhile a quartet of cheerful Italians had turned up with a huge tuna they’d caught on the way: even the local fishermen were impressed, and they had several offers to buy it. (The skipper earned top marks for style – if not seamanship – when they left, by single-handedly untying his stern lines, boarding the moving boat via the passarelle and getting the passarelle on board before taking the wheel!). The other excitement was an elderly gentleman collapsing on the quay nearby, but it was reassuring to see how quickly an ambulance turned up. We enjoyed Plomari a lot, but on the fifth day of our stay the swell got up at midday and lasted till late afternoon, died for a while, and started again in earnest as the wind came round to the north. The surge was well over a metre at times, and we rolled uncomfortably all night.
1st – 7th October
The swell was still unpleasant next morning, so we shopped early and set off southwards for Khios. We managed to sail for a while on the way in to Marmaro bay, on the north side of Khios, and by 16.00 we were moored alongside the single quay of Kharhamila village at the head of the bay – attractive if rather bare surroundings of low hills. A Dutch yacht “Bolle”, followed us in later from Plomari. We spent the next day walking round the village and the bay (some quite attractive old balconied houses) and later up the valley, through plantations of fruit trees, towards the upper village – the valley looks like an oasis lying between the steep barren hills on either side. It being Sunday, most of the village seemed to have gathered at the café on the waterfront after church, so we joined them for iced coffees before settling down to the usual chores on board and letter-writing in the afternoon. There was a fresh NW breeze blowing in, but apart from a bit of slop against the other side of the jetty we were quite comfortable. A joint effort for dinner produced a very edible ham and courgette soufflé.
Shopping ashore in the morning was pretty basic, but we found some chicken and vegetables before setting off round the island (we were slightly surprised to be charged about three times the usual rate for mooring, but this turned out to be because we’d tied up alongside instead of anchoring and backing in!). The channel between Khios and Oinoussa island was very scenic, and in calm conditions and hot hazy sunshine (with Zimbabwean music going on the hi-fi) it was easy to neglect navigation. We weren’t far off running ourselves aground on an outlying reef as we approached Mandraki, the harbour round which many of the wealthy local shipping magnates built fine houses and public buildings. We didn’t stop, but pushed on to the east end of Oinoussa, where several smaller islands shelter a miniature gulf only a mile or two away from Turkish territorial waters. We took a look at the two northern coves on the west side of Nisis Pasha, but the beach in one was covered in litter, and we made five abortive attempts to set the anchor in the other before giving up. This was a blessing in disguise, since we found a much more attractive spot to anchor in the northernmost of the two central coves on N. Pasha – Julie immediately started spotting birds (including an owl). Later on Nigel scrambled up the hillside above, through mastic and gorse bushes, to take a couple of photos. From the top of the island there were magnificent views over Oinoussa to Khios, northwards towards Lesvos and across the strait to Turkey: later on a beautiful clear night, we star-gazed with the help of a newly acquired computer program.
The wind swung south during the night, and during the morning swell started to roll into our anchorage. Eventually we decided to move across to Mandraki and return when the wind died down, but as we moved off we realised that the bay just to the south of us was quite well sheltered and had even better views! The anchor was down again within 20 minutes, we did an oil and filter change after lunch, and then Julie went ashore to look for birds (a surprising variety) while Nigel had a swim. In the early evening we wandered up the hill towards what turned out to be a military post on top – again superb views across to Khios and down towards Çesme on the Turkish coast – where we were intercepted by a trio of Greek National Servicemen in civvies who were evidently the island’s garrison. They asked us politely enough what we were doing, and two of them (who looked like university students) were happy with our explanations and disposed to be friendly. The third, who we gathered was from “security”, was less convinced of the innocence of our camera and binoculars, but his colleagues were clearly embarrassed by his rather churlish attitude and soon shut him up (we invited them to visit us on board next day). Nigel got up early in the morning to go ashore and take photographs: it was cloudy at first but he got a couple of quite decent views at about 08.30. Julie tried to refit the rope stripper, but we couldn’t manage to improvise a workable air supply system and in the end she had to give up. We had a good late brunch and then spent some time cleaning up in anticipation of a visit from the soldiers, but they got involved with ferrying a food delivery up to their hilltop (the security man got to drive the donkey!) and didn’t return. We got a heap of charts out and did some planning for the next month on a humid, still evening.
It was still quite damp, but fairly clear, as we motor-sailed down to the town of Khios early next day. We were on the quay outside the harbourmaster’s office in Khios harbour soon after 10.00, despite having to reconnect a stray cable to the second alternator on the way down (a persistently troublesome piece of equipment, though fortunately it seems to suffer these periodic mishaps without blowing its diodes!). A friendly duty officer invited us to tie up anywhere we liked on the far side of the harbour, adding that if we were planning to leave next morning he wouldn’t bother charging us. The town was totally unmemorable but the shopping was quite good, and we managed eventually to get gas and most supplies we wanted. We were less successful in finding police or Customs to check out with, though on our second visit to the ferry terminal we did run into a nice Customs officer who spoke good English. He was obviously quite amused by our punctiliousness in bothering to try and clear out, having established that there was no evidence in any of our documentation that we were in Greece at all! We were confirmed in our good impressions on the islanders of Lesvos and Khios when our Customs friend talked quite reasonably about the Turks across the water (“we know they’re not going to invade us – it’s just politics”, and so on). Eventually he suggested that we turn up early next morning, when someone should be on duty for a ferry arriving soon afterwards. On the way back to the boat we called in at a likely-looking bar over the road: newly opened, nice décor with a nautical theme (“εν πλω”, or “at sea”), and friendly people who treated us to a beer on the house after a fairly expensive first round. At 07.00 in the morning we made our way across to the ferry quay, but we found only an unidentifiable official who threatened to be tiresome, so we just cast off and left. Motoring across the 8 miles or so of intervening strait to Çesme we moored stern to the breakwater again just before 10.00 local time. We had planned to get to Çesme early in case problems checking in, but in the event the only delay was of our own making: we forgot to bring any sterling for our visas and Nigel had to row back to the boat to get the cash, but even with that minor hiccup the whole process took no more than a couple of hours. Meanwhile we’d called at the PTT and picked up no less than five packets of mail from home (each carried a collection charge which had to be stuck on in small denomination stamps!). We contacted Willy Buttigieg, the Vice-Consul in Izmir, and arranged to meet him and Emilia on Sunday, and later we consumed lots of wine with Philip and Marie-Anne from “Philmar”, who turned up flying a CA burgee – retired at 65 and soon to complete a circumnavigation!
8th – 15th October
We rowed the bikes ashore in the morning and went to the PTT to phone James and Jo. Willy Buttigieg had strongly recommended the Tansas supermarket run by the provincial authorities, so following his instructions we headed out on the main road, took one wrong turn, then hit the right road in a long loop over a hill and……… back down to the far end of the harbour! It was worth the roundabout route, though, in particular for the heavily discounted cases of Efes beer. Back in town we ran into Phil and Marie-Anne again and stopped for lunch – we joined them for drinks on board later on. We cleaned early on Sunday in honour of the Buttigiegs, who came on board for a glass of wine before taking us off to an excellent lunch alongside the creek at Dalyan Koyu, where quite a few yachts of various shapes and sizes were moored. The little harbour is run by a fishermen’s co-operative, and Willy took us round to the office to check berthing rates. These turned out to be ludicrously low (about £8 a month, or £30 a year), and we added Dalyan to Siğacik – yet to be visited – as a possible alternative wintering place. The Buttigiegs took us back via Tansas, so that we could load up with beer and wine, before heading back to Izmir. It was good to see Willy again (and a great pleasure to hear that he’d got an MBE), and he was obviously delighted we had bothered to look him up. In typically generous fashion he and Emilia offered us the use of their house at Çesme should we decide to winter in the area.
We got ourselves organised to leave next morning after shopping ashore: the wind was picking up from NNW, with occasional spots of rain, and swell was beginning to push in to the harbour. We hung on a bit, but conditions didn’t seem to be getting worse, and once we were out of the bay the wind would be more or less behind us. With uncomfortable conditions on the exposed town quay the gűlets moored there started to peel off and head for the shelter of our breakwater. As the third or fourth started to manoeuvre to back in we decided the place was getting too crowded (neighbouring French yacht “Winger” almost got bumped – they’d earlier presented us with some surplus small fish caught for their cats in a trap over the side). We had quite a bumpy ride out into the strait, but got sail up with a couple of reefs in and made nearly 6 knots down past Ak Burnu with the wind touching F6: we thought it was fairly breezy, but a few local windsurfers evidently didn’t think too much of it (they’d found a sheltered bay where the sea was virtually flat). The sea was calmer as we headed SE, but got headed as we turned in towards the double bay of Sarpdere Liman and were glad to get further inshore into the lee of the land. The northern part of the bay looked quite choppy, but it was calm and sheltered in Nerkis Liman, the creek to the south, where we found a solitary boat at anchor wearing an Australian ensign. We were surprised to be hailed by Sue Cerutty, met at Setur Antalya a year previously, who was spending a fortnight cruising with her ex-husband David. They had originally sailed “Myfanwy” from Australia and were still joint owners, as well as friendly enough to cruise together occasionally! They came over for a drink and briefed us on Siğacik, our next stop, where they had been wintering their boat. The weather was still unsettled, and we got rain later.