Heading North

After dropping off Ewa, the 4 of us decided to rent a car in Gocek and once again headed for Saklikent Gorge. We recreated the trip Ewa and I did earlier and visited the Canyon, the Trout Farm for lunch, the Tlos roman Ruins and then since we had some daylight left, headed for Kayaköy where Anatolian Greek speaking Christians lived until approximately 1923, when the Greeks in Turkey were repatriated to Greece and vice versa for the Turks in Greece. The ghost town, now preserved as a museum village, consists of hundreds of rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside. To top off the day, we also visits Ölüdeniz from the land.

Next day, we left Gocek and headed out of Fethiye Limani, anchoring for a lunchtime swim in Kizikuyruk Koyu, which was really beautiful with crystal clear water. Then we hit some heavy weather and labored our way north. It was an hour or two later we discovered a heap of water in our hull as the hatch above the printer was not shut properly. Bummer! A communication problem between skipper and new crew.

We finally made our way around to Ekincik Limani. We checked out My Manina but it was too expensive so we anchored up in 5m. We had planned to take a river trip up to see the rock tombs, but an inoperable printer/scanner meant we needed to head to Marmaris quick smart to get a replacement. So no Dalyman River tour.

Next morning, we left early and headed towards Marmaris before the wind came up.

It was interesting coming into Marmaris again, a bit strange in some ways as La Mischief had spent 6 months there up on the hard. We didn’t however go around to Yacht Marine, just anchored out the front of Marmaris amongst the multitude of gulets, and dingied it into town.

Marmaris is a big tourist town, with its beaches jammed packed with beach chairs that sit in front of numerous beach bars and restaurants. We found our printer shop and headed back to the boat.

We decided we would try a different anchorage so we motored across to Icmeler, where we managed to get out of the meltimi in 5m of water. It was another holiday spot with kite and wind surfers everywhere.

Then it was off to explore new territory north of Marmaris as we made our way towards Bodrum.

Gale Warning

I thought I’d go out in sympathy for all you guys in Perth by drumming up a bit of similar wind. 45kts to be precise. There was quite a swell coming down the harbour towards La Mischief, whose anchor was well dug in.

Friday is market day in Kas so I left La Mischief to it and went for supplies. The Markets in Kas are some of the best along the coast – fantastic – lots of cheap fruit and veggies, cheese etc. as well as a lot of the stuff you’d find in the bazaars of Istanbul. Stuck will the food side of things and headed back to the boat with everything we needed including decent Potatoes – something quality control had rejected up until Kas.

Back on the boat I tried to do some jobs but it was just too rough and I was feeling queasy with my head down trying in vain to find the short in the shower sump pump that was tripping out. I did however find the Turkish State Meteorological Service website (at http://www.dmi.gov.tr/en-US/marine-marinas.aspx), which I think is the best site as far as Turkish weather goes.

In the end I was glad to get off the boat and meet Jo for a drink at the marina bar. Made the call to eat on land as cooking on the boat was not recommended. Mind you, drinking and eating on land was also interesting. The marina bar was being buffered  as we sat and watched things being blown over in all directions. Met an IT Project Manager from Barcelona at the bar and we invited her on board for a few days. Must have been the 6am start that put her off, as she was a no show.

So off the two of us set to Kekova Roads, another of Turkey’s cruising gems.

Snakes Alive

The Venice of Turkey, the turquoise coast, what more can I add to help describe the beauty of the Lycian Coast except simply stunning! It reminds me a bit of the Whitsunday Islands, with massive pine covered hill sides dropping down into clear idealic water. There seems to be a constant backdrop of mountains to complete the picture.

The cruising grounds of Fethiye Korfezi are littered with a plethora of great anchorages. You could get lost in here for months. Its definitely worth a week or two. On the west side of Fethiye Korfezi is Skopea Bay, which is enclosed by a chain of islands that provides great shelter.

We entered through a narrow gap in the islands and chose Ruin Bay as our first stop, and we were just blown away with the sheer beauty of the place, a unique mixture of physical beauty and Turkish exoticism.

Once safely on anchor with a line back to the shore, it was off for a swim – first along the coast then off to a small island. On the way out to the island, we swam above a large turtle about 5m below us. Magical. Jo’s a good long distance swimmer so I set my self a task to keep up and not embarrass myself. Well, not too much anyway!

Back on the boat, it was time to adopt the philosophy of “when in Rome do as the Romans do” so I dove in and cooked my Mediterranean Snapper Bake as per Allrecipes.com. In the process I soon discovered that the 3 large tins of tomato was in fact not quite what they appeared – I had inadvertently bought tomato paste instead of tomato pieces (what are we going to do with it all???). To add to my woes we couldn’t get black olives in the supermarket, so I had to settle for green stuffed ones. But even with these impediments I still managed a tick of approval, which was pretty good given the expertise of the judging panel.

Next morning, after a bit of a lie in, it was up and into the water once again. We decided to swim the other way towards the ruins this time. Along the way we found a swing rope and revisited our childhood by swinging out over the water and letting go. Then we swam into the ruins, which we were able to do as they are half underwater – pretty cool. The water was so clear and it’s temperature was right in the middle of perfect. Heaven. We kept going for a while and ended up returning to the boat 50 minutes later for breakfast. Felt pretty good about that.

After breakfast, we were sitting around drinking tea (after all I had a Pom on board) and a couple of Aussies swam by our boat from a Guluk and we of course invited them on board for a chat, primarily so they could inflict some more Australianisms on Jo. They didn’t disappoint as we had a great laugh (apologies for my crap skill at remembering names). They were on board a tourist gullet – just them and 12 other Germans – not necessary the best time to be reading a historical novel on Adolf Hitler or indeed the Book Thief, and certainly not a good time to be playing some sort of WW2 fighter pilot game on your iPad. We also got some insight into the age of the Rex airlines pilots who flew them to Sydney who look so young that they are evidently “waiting for puberty” with the hosties referring to them as the “flying fetuses”.

Political incorrectness over, it was time to head for Gocek for a look around. Gocek was 7nm down the bay through some of the most magnificent cruising grounds in the Mediterranean – and probably the world. Gocek is a combination of 5 marinas and a town that has grown up around these marinas – nothing real signs of anything else.

Still it was very pleasant and we managed to find some more icetrays, some drink bottles and a nice pair of thongs (Australian vernacular) that were better than my broken Havanas. We’d stopped and had Turkish Tea with the shop keeper and he told us business was very bad, with no many foreigners spending any money.

We decided to eat on shore and had a great lunch – Halloumi Salad and Florentine Crepes, along with a couple of Efes beers, under the shade of some trees on the broadwalk. It had a bit of a feel of Mykonos about it, but without the crowds.

Then it was back to the boat and off back up the bay. Our plan was to stop off at Tomb Bay and see the Tombs (duh!) before heading back to Ruin Bay where we had spotted a restaurant with a jetty we could tie up to, so we could merely stumble back to the boat.

Jo had a phone interview so we timed our arrival into Tomb Bay to fit in with that. But when we got there we found a simply stunning bay with a restaurant, that also came with its own jetty, so we hastily changed our plans, mid anchoring. Back went the shore rope and out came the fenders. Jo had to report in 5 minutes late for her interview citing the somewhat novel excuse of berthing delays, whilst we got ourselves organized and attached to the jetty.

The guy from the restaurant suggested that we time our arrival around the wasps, by arriving at 7.30pm so we could order and eat by 8pm when the sun went down and the wasps disappeared. We sort of followed his timetable and sat down with a bit of charcoal burning on our table to keep them away. Never seen wasps used as a sort of selling point before quite like that.

There’s a certain sort of sameness about Turkish food so thank goodness for the view. Wine is also expensive (60-70TL a bottle), so we settled on drinking their excellent Efes beer. We were both pretty knackered after a long day of swimming, sailing and exploring so we sort of bombed out and hit the sack.

Next morning, we set ourselves the task of walking up to the tombs. There were two sets and after a while we found the second set (which we mistook for the first). They were set high up on the hill side into the side of a cliff and the views from way up there were to die for. We then set off for the second set, but never did find them (because we already had if you get my drift). We came across an ancient olive grove instead and eventually gave up and started to head back. We eventually made our way down to a dry creek bed and decided to follow that back to a beach near to our boat.

And then Jo screamed. She was in front and came across a rather large snake that took fright and headed down the creek – unfortunately the same way that we were heading. It was her first encounter in the wild and my first since the Kimberley’s on Camelot. We decided to skirt round the side of the creek, avoiding the large rock that our new-found friend had taken refuse under. That got the heart rate going and it was a relief to get back to the boat and out of the bush. Breakfast and a quick swim and then it was off to have a look at Fethiye, a 3 hour sail away.

We had parts of a good sail, with some of the islands doing interesting things to the wind. Around 2pm, the wind started to pick up and we opened the sailing instruction book to the chapter entitled “Reefing” and put the 2nd reef in, which was just as well as the wind got up to 29kts. The anchoring in Fethiye was quite good, and we dropped the dingy in and had a lazy afternoon drinking Rose and publishing blogs at one of the waterfront bars. Never did make it into town proper.

Next morning we leave for a 6 hour sail up to Kas so Jo can spent a couple of nights with the skipper from her previous boat. And I can take a breath and get some bits and pieces done.

For my photos of Fethiye Korfezi, please see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201852714352439.1073741919.1620379103&type=1&l=c68df1ae27

Illegal Boat People

Our trip back from Australia was via Dubai and Rome flight, followed by a 3 hour bus ride to Pescara, where Adrian and Anita had left the boat with Steffi’s assistance.

We spent the night at Steffi’s recovering and catching up. Next morning it was down to the boat for an engine service, which took most of the morning.

Brad and Bec arrived by train from Bari at lunchtime, and after a large shop, it was off to Steffi’s to enjoy a swim and a relax before we did the restaurant on the beach night, the last of the season.

Next day, we took Steffi, Adriano and Sarah for a sail along the coast to one of the bays they often went to. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day, with a bit of a swell running, and some dirty water being washed down from Venice, so we didn’t swim much. Still it was nice to be back on board La Mischief putting her through her paces, and it allowed Brad and Bec to get acquainted with La Mischief before we headed off to Croatia.

And next morning we were off, 115nm straight across the Adriatic to Vis Island. We left just before 6am and got great winds. We put up the geneker and took off. By lunchtime, the wind increased to 24 knots and down came the geneker. We needed a reef shortly after but we were going along at 7s ad 8s on flat seas. And we needed to as we wanted to get there before it was completely dark.

We passed the first of Croatia’s islands before sunset and closed in on Vis town as the sun set. We had just enough light to navigate into the harbour and pick up mooring.

By then it was 9pm and we presumed everything would be shut and we would need to wait until the morning to check in. So we stayed put on the boat – the lure of the water front bars would have to wait.

We had a leisurely morning, not wanting to go in too early and find things shut. So we went in t 9.30am and after a bit of a hunt around we eventually found the harbour master at the back of a building up two flights of stairs. We congratulated ourselves for not attempting that the night before as we would have never found it.

We filled in a new vignette listing the crew details and showed them our cruising permit. Then it was off to find the police station. It was equally as hard to find and after asking several people we found their office – no sign except for a note on the door saying to ring 192 if it was unattended.

We went inside and saw the nice looking police woman, who took our passports and then proceeded to tell us we had a problem. It seems we should have checked in with the police as soon as we got to Croatia.

Not sure what the problem was but the cell just around the corner made me hope it wasn’t a big problem.

We were then told to wait outside, which we did. We waited and drank coffee and waited some more. Then she appeared and locked the police station and disappeared somewhere. We waited some more. Then she came back and went in side. We waited some more. Then she asked me (and not the others) back inside.

She explained that I had to pay a fine of 1000 kuna (A$200) but if I paid it straight away it would reduce to 667 kuna plus 100 kuna tax. This was evidently a new rule brought in 2 months ago and I was the first person to be fined in Vis. Great. I had a go at pleading my case but she just kept saying I should have come in and found the police station and rung the number on the door. Yeah right.

Anyway, I paid the fine at the Post Office and then had to take the receipt round to another police station. We decided to head there by dingy but were quickly intercepted by the police boat who were very keen to see we had paid our fine and add to their revenue raising initiative. We gave them our receipt and all was good.

Now that we weren’t illegal boat people, it was time to celebrate our new-found freedom.

For photos of Vis see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200268972839891.1073741868.1620379103&type=1&l=e930ae623d

Between a Rock and a ….

Sailing from Marina Smir to Gibraltar would be Stan and Judy’s last sail. They’d been great to be on board as we sailed down from Lisbon to the Med.

We ended up completing our exit paperwork at the Marina Smir and leaving about 15min after Kevin and Di. Trying to put the sails up into the wind, we found our wind direction had completely gone potty. So we’d have to sail, judging wind direction the good old fashion way. The 12nm sail up along the East Coast of Morocco was very pleasant, but as we neared the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind started to pick up and we had 35kts on the nose in no time at all. One minute we were sitting on the bow watching the dolphins play between our hulls, the next minute we were rushing to put in a couple of reefs.

Approaching Gibraltar provided us with spectacular views of “The Rock”. The latest theory is that the Rock rolled there from Corsica (don’t ask me how and landed there upside down. Our tack took us slightly east of the Rock so that meant we got a really good view of it coming in.

We hadn’t got anyone to commit to giving us a berth in Gibraltar because Ocean Bay marina was undergoing major works and that was severely limiting the number of berths available. Our strategy was just to call in and see what we could get and then go round to Le Linea (which is just across the border in Spain) as we knew they were pretty empty.

But we were in luck as Queensway Quay marina had a berth for us. This would be our introduction to “Mediterranean Mooring”, where you either hook up to some lines that the marina supply out the front (or drop your anchor if no lines are supplied) and back in between your two neighbouring boats and tie off to the jetty. Then you get out your very expensive paraselle, which gets you from the back of the boat to the jetty. Lets just say it was good to get the first one out of the way.

Next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Stan and Judy, who headed off home to Canada, via Savilla and Lisbon. Then it was off to get the lay of the land. Gibraltar works off Gibraltar Pounds, which are worth the same as UK pounds. Coins are the same, notes are different. It was interesting to find myself secretly liking the fact that it’s so much easier doing stuff in a place where (nearly) everybody speaks English fluently. The supermarket felt like an Australian supermarket – even had vegemite!!!

After a few days, I discovered that all the workers are pretty much Spanish, but chose to work (and sometimes live in Gibraltar, although a lot of them cross the border each day to get to work). I made it across the border a few times in search of phone credit for my Spanish pre-paid SIM cards as you can’t buy credit online unless you have a Spanish credit card – figure that?

Kevin and Di were two boats down and kindly pointed out the ins and outs of Gibraltar. They also make a mean Mojito, which is rapidly becoming my cocktail of choice. But best of all, they took me to Le Bateau, which is a lovely little French restaurant at the marina.

Gibraltar is all about the Rock so the next day, up the Rock I went. Took the Mediterranean Steps which wound its way first around the frond for great views across to Tangiers and then across the back. It’s quite a climb and I was happy to get to the top where I shared the spectacular views with the resident monkey population.

Thursday came and so did the guy from Raymarine. He replaced the ITC5 transducer, and that seems to have fixed the wind speed problem, but the wind direction sometimes misbehaves. I reconfigure it out at sea and that seems to fix it for a while but its gone again since.

The stainless steel guy on the other hand is still coming. You would think 11 days is enough time to organise a tradesman but work seems a little optional in these parts. So still no gas bottle holder for my BBQ.

My last task was to get crew for the passage to Valencia and this took a bit of organising. Eventually I found Mario, who was working in Gibraltar, and Jessica from Frankfurt, both of which were new to sailing – Mario had no experience and Jess had done her day skippers course.

With the crew in place, it was time to say goodbye to Gibraltar and head into the Mediterranean.

For photos of Gibraltar see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4758118043788.1073741856.1620379103&type=1&l=37f661cd3b


It took us a while to cover the 10nm or so into Villagarcia from the head of the Ria. On the way we passed row after row of mussel farms. Whilst the Ria is generally very pretty, Villagarcia is not one of its pretty spots.

But it had good rail access to Vigo if we needed to get parts from there and a good chanderly and hardware store for some boat jobs that were piling up.

But I’d have to say, other than that the town was pretty boring.

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And in the end access to Vigo didn’t even matter because Vicsail advised that we needed to go to the Lagoon owner in Lisbon to effect a repair.


Across the Bay of Biscay to Spain

Once in the Gironde we quickly discovered there’s no a lot of good harbours between there and the Basque country at the bottom of France. And to complicate things, there’s a firing range that extends 45nm out to sea. We also discovered another one further out that the guide books and web sites don’t mention – but it wasn’t in use as there was a ton of fishing boats out there.

With this information to hand, we decided it was time to do our first overnighter and head for Spain. Bilboa seemed to be the logical choice – it was more or less straight down, whereas San Sebastian required us to cut in again.

So Bilbao it was.

We set off at 1pm so that we crossed the bar at high tide and then turned south. Allan and I split the watches between us. We started with 2 hour watches and then pushed them out a bit at night.


Crossing From France to Spain

Crossing From France to Spain

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The wind was annoyingly on the nose but we just got enough angle and didn’t have to do too much tacking, sailing a lot of the way. The swell wasn’t big – maybe 1.5m but it was confused and not as nice as a bigger regular swell that we are used to off the west coast of Australia.

The wind dropped away in the wee hours of the morning but picked up to 30kt as the sun came up and we approached the Spanish coast. We passed a few fishing boats on the way in to Bilbao. The entrance is a little tricky as there is a breakwater that is underwater (but shown on the charts).

Once past the breakwater it’s about 5nm in to the port city of Getxo, where we dropped anchor. We tried calling up a couple of marinas but being a Sunday, nobody there spoke English so we thought we would have a good nights sleep and check into Spain with clear heads on Monday morning.