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.