Gladlee of Guernsey
June 1995 - August 1995
17th – 24th June
The two-and-a-half day passage to Iskendurun was mostly quite unmemorable. Reuven had arranged for us to be checked out of Haifa on the Sabbath, but after a couple of hours’ waiting we phoned the number he’d given us and gave the police a nudge – they’d obviously forgotten! We sailed for a while during the afternoon in a light WNW breeze, but it soon backed and died, leaving us with a long spell of motoring up the Lebanese coast towards Syria. There was scarcely a breath of wind throughout the next day, and it was very hot (cabin temperature touching 35°, a taste of things to come….) In the evening a SW F2/3 turned up, and we rigged the pole and sailed goose-winged for a while, but eventually the wind came round more southerly, and in spite of gibing both sails we couldn’t manage to keep moving at more than a couple of knots. By the time Julie took over the early morning watch we were motoring again, and by breakfast time we were approaching Resülhinzir at the entrance to the Gulf of Iskendurun. Here we ran into the first of a horrific amount of garbage in the water, fouling the propeller as we altered course into the gulf. With Arsuz in sight we picked up a WSW breeze which freshened to F4 at times, giving us five hours’ pleasant sailing over the last 20 miles into Iskendurun. We ran into more large patches of rubbish from time to time, and it was difficult to find a way through as we approached the port. We got the sails down and started the engine, but it stalled as soon as we engaged gear – Julie dived to clear a mass of plastic bags away before we could move on in. Thanks to a misreading of Heikell’s chartlet we found ourselves in the fishing harbour – with no obvious space on the quay we anchored off, rowed ashore, called on the harbourmaster but were too late to catch any other officials (it was past 17.30 hrs). We made contact with old friend Hanoud, the Honorary Vice-Consul, had a beer on the waterfront and found some simple dinner in town.
In the morning Nigel set of to clear Customs and police at the harbour entrance, realising that we had probably parked ourselves in the wrong bit. Hanoud and her driver, Orhan turned up to lend a hand, and from the direction of the commercial port came Bob and Ngaire, New Zealanders off “Taisia” whom we’d encountered briefly at Ashkelon. They recommended the basin they were berthed in, and the police echoed this on security grounds, so we decided to move later on. Hanoud invited us out to lunch with cousin Remon from Ankara at a bistro across the road from the Catoni office p- latter sadly depleted of staff, thanks to the decline in trade through the port since the embargo against Iraq. We invited Hanoud and Remon to a light supper on board, and while we were shopping in the market we ran into Bob and Ngaire and invited them too: it was quite a rush to cart some fuel back to the boat in cans, move round to the other side of the harbour, get supper ready and tidy up! We had a very congenial evening, with the “Taisia”’s turning up late and staying long after Hanoud and Remon had gone home. After rain overnight the next day was bright and sunny, and Hanoud turned up with Orhan to take us out, accompanied by the always elegant Alexandra (retired from managing the local Catoni travel agency, also now defunct). We drove down to Arsuz to look at the small church and to revisit the house where Nigel had been entertained by Hanoud and her family eight years before. Then there was a fascinating tour through the foothills behind Iskendurun, first visiting Hanoud’s family cottage, now tenanted by an old gardener family: this prompted much reminiscence from Hanoud and Alexandra, which continued as we drove on (they seemed to have known the original occupants of practically every substantial house along the road). We stopped at a delightful house and converted former chapel which had once been the home of the minister of the Presbyterian church in Iskendurun – the walled English-style garden was fringed by willows rustling in the breeze, and there were glimpses beyond of Iskendurun and the sea. We eventually came down on to the Antakya road and stopped for lunch, then went back to Hanoud’s flat to see her invalid sister Mary and watch her treasured investiture video over tea. Finally we went to see the room in which the Christian community has at last been allowed to establish a simple church, after years of hassle with the authorities – a great triumph in particular for the pastor, Alexandra’s brother, whom we met there. A brisk NW wind had got up by the time we said our farewells to these good people, which didn’t auger too well for our passage the next day.
In the event it was a fine morning with a light southerly breeze, which later veered WNW and then backed again. We rafted alongside “Taisia” (they’d gone to Antakya for the day) to take on water, then picked our way slowly through the mass of rubbish off the entrance and set off across the gulf to Yumurtalik. We sailed for the last couple of hours into Yumurtalik Liman, reluctantly taking the genoa as we approached the sandbar and uncertain depths in a good quartering wind. We edged in towards the low-lying SW shore but could see fishermen standing up not too far away, so we anchored a couple of hundred metres off, just before 15.00. There was good bird-watching for Julie when we went ashore later – problems with the outboard motor, which kept cutting out. Next day was fine, and we pottered about, Julie going ashore a couple of times to bird-watch. We were intrigued by the sight of a score of fishermen wading thigh-deep in the water, each with a long pole, a net and a rubber tyre in tow. Nigel went over to take a closer look and discovered that they were catching small fish for breeding at a fish farm – the tyre held a net for the catch, while the pole kept the water bottle and cigarettes dry! The evening light on the hills on the opposite shore made an otherwise featureless bay look quite beautiful, and there were some grand views of the mountains at the head of the gulf. We had a long passage to get to Mersin, so we went to bed early and left at 02.45; a fine still night, though with little moon, so we relied on a clearing bearing to get us round the sand bar. The day turned hot and hazy, and there was no wind at all until we rounded Deli Burnu in the early afternoon. We did then get a good south-westerly, eventually increasing to F4, which took us all the way into Mersin outer harbour before we took the sails down. We went in to the fishing harbour and were waved in to some yacht moorings, but we touched bottom on the way across and beat a hasty retreat, finding an alongside berth on a dusty quay just round the corner! Locals very friendly and helpful, and after tidying up a bit we caught some of the Rugby World Cup final on the World Service and found some very welcome cold beers along the waterfront.
25th – 30th June
André Nofal, Honorary Vice-Consul at Mersin, arrived to pick us up next morning – Nigel had arranged André’s appointment when Consul in Ankara. We went off into the mountains to find a restaurant owned by an eccentric old philosopher, whose views on politics and life in general were posted on signboards alongside the track leading up to the place. André decided that it wasn’t too early for a beer, and a couple of those led gently into lunch. We stopped for shopping at Migros on the way back to the harbour, where André left us to do an oil change and top up our fuel and water. Early in the evening he returned with his family for a drink on board before taking us along the coast road to their weekend house. We managed to persuade them that we didn’t want another full-scale meal, and everyone was happy to settle for takeaway lahmacun – nice evening. We walked into the market first thing next morning before leaving Mersin at 10.30 and heading into a light SSE breeze – very hazy again. The wind was freshening by the time we got to the METU Marine Biology Institute’s harbour at Limonlu, where we were told firmly that we couldn’t anchor. We pressed on past Ayas (where “Taisia” overtook us) and Kizkalesi, amazingly built-up since we’d last seen it, to tuck into a cove at Akyar Burnu. A few youngsters were swimming off the rocks, but we had the place to ourselves later. Julie cooked an excellent roast lamb and decided to sleep on deck, but the wind picked up from NE later and sent a bit of a chop in.
This was probably more uncomfortable for “Taisia”, who’d anchored in the open bay off Kizkalesi, and they’d gone by the time we got back there early next morning. The beach was already quite busy – there was an almost continuous line of hotels, pensions and cafés behind it, and we found later that they extended right back to the main road and beyond (the place is now officially a “Belediye”). We dinghied ashore and walked round to the “land” castle, from which the view of the “sea” castle on its islet was still unspoiled, then went in search of the Yaka Hotel, where Nigel had first stayed ten years before and where we’d stayed together in the Spring of 1988. Yusuf the proprietor was still there, and we persuaded him to come back for a look at the boat – not for long, though, since it didn’t agree with his stomach! By mid-afternoon there was too much speedboat and swimming activity going on round us, so we went back west to anchor behind the breakwater in the cove opposite Narliküyü – the spot we chose after a couple of duff attempts turned out to be “yasak”, but we persuaded the people from the holiday centre onshore to let us stay the night. We dinghied across to the Narliküyü restaurants, failed to find a selection of mezes in any of them, but eventually settled for a decent enough meal. The wind picked up from the east later and there was quite a chop in the bay, so we accepted a lift back in the restaurant’s boat.
Next morning was calm and hazy again, though the barometer had fallen to 1000mb, as we headed down the long flat Incekum peninsular, gave the sandbanks at the bottom a wide berth and headed across Tasucu Korfezi towards the mountains on its west side. The wind picked up again and shifted SSW, giving us an excellent hour’s run on genoa across to Agalimani Bay. It was gusting up to 25 knots as we anchored behind the island at lunchtime, and the barometer had fallen another couple of points (extraordinary low for this area). We had strong SSW gusts off the hills for most of the afternoon, then an abrupt wind shift to NNW heralded rather quieter conditions. The surroundings were attractive, with gently wooded slopes down to the beach, ruins of a castle on the promontory at the entrance, and only a couple of small restaurants and a campsite ashore (there was also a smart-looking new hotel complex on the other side of the bay, but it appeared to be closed). We found very meagre shopping next morning on the road behind the beach, but we stopped for a basic breakfast at one of the lokantas before Julie wandered off to look for birds and Nigel got on with sorting out photos for the diary. The afternoon was remarkably similar to the previous day, with fierce gusts from the SW followed by the sudden backing to the north later and a steady breeze until the evening. A short hop down the rugged coast in the early morning was notable for a small group of dolphins, one of which startled us with a somersault only 30 feet or so off our beam!
1st – 5th July
We set out from Ovacik shortly before 08.00 – hazy again, and again too light a wind to sail, with a slight SW swell. With some favourable current we motored the 18-odd miles to Aydincik in little over three hours, and anchored stern to the seaward side of the small harbour. Nigel set about hull cleaning with enthusiastic help from some of the local kids, who then borrowed the dinghy and had a whale of a time splashing about the harbour. We went ashore to do a bit of shopping and had a look round the assorted ruins on the small promontory above where we were anchored. It was less stiflingly hot than it had been over the previous few days, but Julie was still feeling out of sorts, and we decided to head straight back to Antalya instead of stopping off at Bozyazi and Alanya. So we set off at 08.00 the following morning, sailing for an hour in ESE F3/4 before the wind died and then veered to the west. Repeating a familiar pattern we motor-sailed the rest of the way: dawn saw us 20 miles east of Antalya and brought a moderate NW breeze and a lumpy swell for a while, though both eased as we passed Baba Burnu into Antalya Körfezi. We crossed with Wally and Henny on “Brandal III” on our way into the harbour, Wally hopping up and down and waving to show that he’d fully recovered from his injuries. “Nevada” came in later, having also returned via the south coast.
The next five days were extremely hot, the cabin temperature hitting 42°C during the day and scarcely dropping below 30° at night. Julie went into the clinic for tests, and while waiting for the results we inspected a possible new 95A alternator, had an oil leak checked out, did some laundry and caught up with friends (notably Norbert, Bernard and Jane) still in the marina. Two days before we were due to fly back to UK Julie was prescribed a new antibiotic, but by mid-afternoon she was suffering stomach pains and nausea, and during the evening and overnight she was seriously sick. She managed to get onto the marina bus in the morning, was admitted to the clinic and immediately put on a drip. By late afternoon she was a lot better, and hasan helped negotiate her discharge and gave us a lift back to the marina. A good night’s sleep, and she was just about fit enough to catch the plane next day.
INTERLUDE ON LAND…….. (9th July – 13th August)
We’d planned to take a break in mid-summer to avoid the heat and the meltemi season in the Aegean, but we hadn’t expected to hit the best summer in Western Europe in years. Three days after returning to London we were off to France with Bernard and Molly to spend ten lovely days at Phil and Alison’s house in the Lot valley near Cahors: followed by a drive up to the Channel coast avoiding almost all the main roads and passing through some superb bits of the French countryside. We were back on the 27th, just in time for the birth of Julie’s second niece Miranda and for the start of a Test Match which Nigel followed closely on TV for the next four days. Back in London we met up with Nigel’s ex-secretary Rachael, visiting from home in Turkey with her two children, and drove Jo down for lunch with Margot and Amyas, stopping off for a barbecue supper with the Slosses in Kingston on the way back. We met Nick Taylor (and James) for dinner, dined at the Tebbits’, spent a day with James in Clapham, then went out gliding with Chris Ramler in Derbyshire on the way up to Robin and Alison in Wakefield. After a couple of days up there we returned to Wellingborough by way of Gill for lunch, had dinner out with Linda and Seamus, and celebrated Phil’s 40th birthday on 11th August with a pub lunch. Then it was time to drop our excellent hire car off in Eastleigh, where Tony Wildig picked us up to join his newly commissioned Westerly Oceanquest “Maui 3” at Hamble Point for her journey to a new home in Holland.
13th – 20th August
We had been in on the “Maui 3” project almost at the outset, since the Oceanquest is the direct descendant of our Seahawk, and Tony had consulted us at length by fax when having the boat fitted out. True to form (in our experience, at least!) westerly had failed to do a number of jobs to Tony’s satisfaction, and he and Margaret had had a frustrating fortnight getting various problems sorted out while they’d expected to be out sailing. They had at least managed one short trip across to Brittany with Sarah and Adam, who stayed on for Margaret’s usual excellent lunch before returning to London. After final preparations we left Hamble Point at 16.45 and headed down into Southampton Water and the Solent. We picked up a steady NW F3/4 and got some excellent sailing through the night, with “Maui 3” making remarkable speed – a fin keel and Tony’s custom-made sails doubtless helped, but it was still an impressive performance. It was fun to be navigating in tidal waters again, and Tony’s array of Autohelm instruments added to the entertainment (not least thanks to the totally inadequate instruction manuals!) We couldn’t quite carry the tide beyond Dungeness next morning, and with a light head-wind Tony settled for four hours’ motoring, but once we turned to cross the TSS of Dover we could sail again. We took the north-running tide outside the inner Ridens off Calais and reached up the Dunkerque channel in NNE F4, sailing into Dunkerque Port Est at 19.30. The Yacht Club du Mer du Nord looked pretty full, so we berthed at the new marina on the other side of the channel. From there it was a short walk to the seafront area to the east (new to us) where we had an excellent late dinner. “Maui 3” had logged 147 miles in just under 27 hours, all but four and a bit under sail.
Nobody rushed to get up next day, and with the hour’s time difference it was around midday by the time we and Margaret set off for town, she in search of food, we to find the chandler. We were all foiled by everyone’s lengthy lunch break, but it was another lovely day and it didn’t seem to matter too much. We refuelled and left harbour soon after 14.30 in a light NW, making reasonable progress under sail until the tide turned and the wind picked up from the north: we crossed the Maasgeul and sailed for a while towards Scheveningen until the turn of the tide forced another three hours’ motoring. We were able to beat up the final bit past Zandvoort into Ijmuiden, though, and were berthed in the huge new marina there by 16.00 hrs. Margaret cooked us another excellent meal on board. An early start next day to catch the tide, Tony impressing us by reversing straight out of the berth (no prop-walk, it seemed, with the S-drive, and very quiet too). We were headed all the way up to Den Helder, but once we got into the Texelstroom inside the islands we were able to sail along the channel amid dozens of yachts coming and going from Harlingen. The NE wind was touching F5 as we were headed in the home straight and had to take the sails down, Margaret having a crisis of confidence at the wheel as Tony pressed on a little too far without reefing. Harlingen inner harbour was very attractive – not unlike Middleburg – and filled up steadily as the afternoon wore on. We had a wander round the nearby shops and market and down to the old harbour, where some of the “Brown Fleet” of traditional sailing barges were moored, and later we went out for an excellent dinner (mussels and chips with large beers) at a pub overlooking the lively main street.
We all agreed that it would be fun to go down through the canals to the Ijsselmeer, so we headed off through the locks into the Haringxma Canal. Within a few hundred yards Nigel spotted “Moonraker of Kent” coming the other way, RTYC burgee at the spreaders and Denys Tweddel at the wheel. We hailed Denys, who found a place to park on the bank as we turned round and came in to raft alongside him. He and his Dutch (long time Thanet resident) crew came on board for coffee, and we exchanged our respective news. On past Leuwarden, where we turned south and started encountering quite a lot of assorted traffic. Approaching Grouw just before 17.00 on a lovely afternoon we bought ice-creams from a couple of cheerful lads in a motor launch, then stopped at Grouw town quay to do some shopping before anchoring for the night on the other side of the Pik Meer.
In the morning we stopped of at Grouw again for food shopping and water, then headed on through Sneek and IJist to the Heeger Meer. It was fun to drive right through the middle of these small towns (Sneek particularly attractive with its mediaeval gate) and pat the toll in the traditional way – bridge-keeper lowers a clog for you to put your money in. We sailed gently on the genoa, in between bridges, down a less busy stretch of canal (Fluessen and Morra) before reaching Stavoren at 18.00 and checking into the pleasant enough marina. Getting into the Ijsselmeer the following morning was another new experience, as we joined a well-organised queue for the lock at the side of the canal. Once through we made good speed goose-winged down to Enkhuizen, where we didn’t quite make it into the lock first time and stopped for lunch on top of a motorway! The final stretch was an exhilarating F5 run down the southern part of the Ijsselmeer to Katwoude, where Tony thought he’d booked a mooring. After long negotiations it emerged that they hadn’t received his confirmatory letter and hadn’t got a vacancy, so we went across to another marina which turned out in the end to be both cheaper and nicer.
21st – 31st August
It had been a memorable cruise, and, as we’d hoped, we profited from Tony’s experience (notable of sail-trimming) and he from ours – if nothing else we persuaded him that he didn’t have a faulty central heating installation! We made our way back to the Wildigs’ large house in Wassenaar by bus and train and settled in to the luxury of a proper bedroom (Sarah’s) with en suite shower and washing machine. We went into Wassenaar village with Margaret and later had a good bike ride through the nature reserve near the sea: later still yet another first, as we went off by bike to dinner at a Mexican restaurant! The following morning we got ourselves to Hoek van Holland and caught a fairly grotty ferry across to Harwich (brilliant docking there, though), train to London and bus to Dulwich, eventually getting there around 21.00.
With only three days left we still managed a very boozy evening out at Covent Garden, first meeting up with Sarah Wildig, then with Chris Ramler, and finally with his girlfriend Deborah who joined us for dinner. And there was just time to fit in some shopping and the traditional trip to Canterbury to see Uncle Bill and Auntie Betty before we hauled the usual heavy load of baggage up to Stansted and caught the flight back to Antalya.
It was still very hot, so much so that even Nigel was persuaded to go for a swim in the outer harbour every afternoon! We got on with installing new kit and painting the deck a lighter colour (Jidze of “Silent Wish” had given us this tip when remarked on how hot our deck was compared to his at Haifa). We decided to go for the new 95A alternator, which was duly fitted, and by the end of the week, after some more cleaning up and general maintenance, we were ready to leave again.