Mast track and Marmaris

Tuesday 19 – Friday 29 April

Having waited for the forecast heavy rain of early Tuesday to clear through, we went ashore to deal with laundry, by special dispensation of the marina: a mixed blessing as it avoided the necessity of finding a service wash in town, but the machines are old and unreliable, which caused us some difficulties in translation (mime) and delays.  We collected some food shopping, and enjoyed supper ashore.  On Wednesday morning, after emptying our holding tank once more at Fethiye marina, we headed out of the bay, making water, and in very little wind left Trevver to get us across to pick up the one and only mooring buoy back in Sarsala Koyu, where we first stopped on last week’s Easter cruise.

We remained in this lovely setting through Saturday, enjoying the peace and scenery when the day trippers departed, with Mate beginning work making a UV_resistant cover for the new dinghy’s inflatable tubes, whilst Skipper fittedg the long-awaited mast track.  The latter sits on the outside surface of the rear of the mast, meaning the sliders that hold and guide the main sail up and down suffer less friction, which leads to less effort for the crew in hoisting, and more importantly mean we can reef (reduce sail in stronger winds) much quicker and more safely, without having to use the engine to hold ourselves into the wind.

On Sunday 24 we set off out of the ‘lake’, as we’d nicknamed the sheltered water almost enclosed by islands, for Marmaris, topping up our water tanks en route.  In a comfortable Westerly Force 4 we began with full main and staysail, and as the wind dropped added the genoa, making the most of our cutter rig.  When it blew back up to a F3 we furled the staysail, and towards evening the wind was ‘on the nose’ and dying, having pushed up an npleasantly lumpy sea.  At 1900 we gave up after only 36 miles, anchoring in Küçüksemizce Koyu, a rather open bay in the company of a couple of other yachts, but with no development at all on the shoreline.

After a somewhat rolly night during which the raised centreboard persisted in its mournful clunking, we were pleased the following morning to be invited by a local trip boat to join him up the river Köyceğiz to visit the ancient city of Caunos.  The pilot book says it is a very attractive and interesting trip, and when we return this way later in the year it is good to know we should be able to be picked up from our own vessel, without needing to find somewhere to take the dinghy ashore.  For now, we contented ourselves with achieving the remaining 21 Miles under main and staysail in a light-ish SW3, motorsailing now and again to keep us on track.

The approach into Marmaris bay is some distance, and on the way we passed a smart navy superyacht that we were later informed is that of Roman Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea football team manager, and is one of many such vessels owned by Russians that are currently in the politically safe haven of Turkish waters.  We anchored East of the town in shallow water near some marshland, after a much more satisfying day’s sailing in more cooperative wind and a flatter sea, allowing us to make more water and chat with both our children: our son was excited to share his news that he passed his Ambulance apprenticeship with distinction, in preparation for beginning a Masters in Paramedic Science at York in September.

Much of this large bay is attractive, but on Tuesday morning when we moved to anchor off the town beach – third time lucky – to go ashore for provisions and a look around, it proved to be an experience we would not choose to repeat.  Local trip boats, gulets and party boats weave through the anchored yachts from early until late, everything turned up to maximum, and the noise from the discos and clubs ashore seems to go through until the early hours.  We did find a pleasant service laundry ashore, and a large number of every kind of yacht service provider, so we shall probably return in the Winter to have some replacement canvas items made up: the sprayhood and sailbag are both showing signs of old age and needing repair of the repairs.

We were happy to weigh anchor relatively early on the Thursday morning, saying a brief hello as we passed a Ukrainian-flagged yacht we’d encountered on Preveza town quay a year ago.  We were pleased to hear his immediate family are safe and well.  Back at the marsh anchorage, the only sounds were birdsong and the gentle lapping of water.  Some more jobs were ticked off the never-ending list before the end of Friday.

Fethiye with Friends

13-18 April 2022 – Easter Weekend in the UK

Back in 2018, whilst sailing around the Baltic Sea, we were lucky enough to be befriended by a couple of French girls who currently live in Oslo and sail a smaller aluminium yacht called Saltimbanque.  The skipper aspires to something larger and more suitable for long-term living aboard and cruising, even though (or because?) they completed an Atlantic circuit in their current boat ten years ago.  Notwithstanding any yacht envy, we have become lasting friends, and this Easter we were delighted to be able to welcome them back, after two years’ thwarted plans, to enjoy exploring this beautiful area of SW Turkey with us, whilst their home cruising grounds up in Norway are still a little chilly.

After a somewhat challenging journey across Europe, they finally arrived into Dalaman airport later than expected on Wednesday evening, and soon settled into our guest cabin.  Thursday morning saw us all raring to go, and after breakfast and a brief manoeuvre for evidence we were adhering to Turkey’s strict rules for dealing with yacht waste, we cleared the marina and set full main and staysail for a pleasant 17 Miles across the bay in a W/SW 2-4.  We reduced the mainsail to first reef to help reduce the heel as we were making water as we went, dropping anchor in 16 metres of water in Sarsala Koyu, a beautiful bay South of Goçek.  One guest was in the water almost before we’d come to a stop, and returned eventually, refreshed if a little numb around the extremities.

Amongst the ruins

Saturday 16 April saw us don sturdy footwear for a crazy scramble up a river gorge in search of the local ancient ruins.  The pilot book had warned us the main access path was from the cove to our left, but our intrepid guests, 15 years our junior and familiar with this kind of ‘exercise’, made light work of it and certainly put Mate to shame, more so with their care and concern for the stick-gripping old lady in their midst.  It was worth the effort of the steep sides and dry, loose sand and stone, to discover an ancient hidden community, now inhabited by a few farming families.  Evidence can still be found of former systems of irrigation in this arid land, among the carved and cut sections of column and wall.

Spoonwing Lacewing –
Nemoptera Sinuata (credit: LB)

We were also lucky to come across a beautiful lacewing, usually only seen between mid-May and late June, when the temperature is at least 17 degrees Centigrade and there is no wind. The species is distributed throughout the Balkan peninsula, specifically Bulgaria, East Thrace, Greece and Northern Macedonia.

Relieved to follow the marked track back down to our cove, and enjoying the stunning views across Fethiye Körfezi (Bay), we enjoyed a relaxed lunch in the cockpit before leaving our crew to sail us back to our starting point in a similarly flat and sparkling sea, allowing us to show off L’Escale’s glorious smooth slipping through the water under full main and genoa.  Before we were ‘home’ the wind died to nothing: “c’est pétol” according to our guest skipper, but it gave us a calm night.

Sarsala Koyu, South of Goçek in Fethiye Körfezi

Tortoises and tombs

We ‘celebrated’ Easter Day with a brief exchange of chocolate-orientated gifts, before making the most of the calm before the (forecast) storm of strong winds with a run ashore to explore the historical attractions of this key port of the Lycian coast.  Fethiye was formerly known as Telmessos, and its ancient amphitheatre can still be viewed from a footpath up the hill behind the town, on the way to the famous collection of rock tombs.  The most important of these is that of Amyntas, easily recognised as i) it’s the only one for which there is an ‘entrance’ charge to walk another uphill path ii) it stands apart from the collection carved from the adjoining cliff face and iii) its façade is embellished with Ionic columns and portico, that have withstood time and weather remarkably well.  Meandering among the wild grasses and, in our Northern eyes, Summer flowers like vibrant poppies, we spotted a couple of tortoises, remembered by Skipper’s mother from a visit here back in 1994.  Sadly, a hind leg of one of them was caught in a redundant plastic bag, all the more heart-breaking as it was inside a fence that rendered rescue impossible.

After a fortifying lunch at a waterfront restaurant we already knew offered a good menu for this difficult-to-please customer, we made our way back onboard, just as that threatened wind materialised.  Within moments we were all on full anchor watch, and observed from a thankfully safe distance as a neighbouring yacht proceeded to drag its anchor several hundred metres, before being ‘caught’ and eventually repositioned safely.  In the end, the wind blew itself out as quickly as it had arrived, and we enjoyed a quiet final night before our guests were up with the lark (alarm) on Monday morning for a repeat in reverse of their outgoing journey.  We were glad to hear they’d arrived home safely in time for a celebratory ‘utepils’ – beer outdoors, albeit in several more layers.