Thursday, 4 October 2012

More current affairs

My mother described my previous post about Lycian ruins as a "learned dissertation" from which I gather that she wants me to lighten up, and give her a break from poring over her atlas trying to locate obscure ancient sites. Wish granted.

Speaking of restored ruins, I offer the two items below as evidence of the powerful restorative effects of greatly diminished responsibility and generous doses of sunshine and saltwater...and other pleasures. Scrabble, for instance!

More games in store. I bought a backgammon board, made from olive wood, at the market in Kas. My new friend Suzanne offered to teach me how to play, but then, as boating people are wont to do, she and her husband Brian took their Nordhaven 57 down to Kekova and I'm on my own with Turkey's favourite board game. Alex promises to play. 

We're on the fringes of Gocek bay, a glittering place with more and bigger yachts (by which I also mean the small private "ships" which in the Med are known as yachts) on its flat waters than anywhere we've been so far. And it's supposedly quiet now, being nearly the end of the season.

Gocek is probably Turkey's classiest yachting destination, Turkey's St Tropez, if you like. It sits at the head of a wide gulf which is protected by a rim of blue misty mountains, some of them very high. A chain of islands running north-south down the gulf offers enough interesting anchorages to string out over a week's cruising, without too many miles to cover between breakfast and cocktails. The perfect charter destination, in other words. Plus (and here's the clincher) Gocek is only a half hour's drive from Dalaman airport, compared to Marmaris's hour and a half, which is mightily attractive to those who have more money than time.

The approach to the gulf of Gocek (and Fethiye) from the south

Some people need more room than others

So we're sitting pretty amongst the big boys' toys, kicking up our heels in the clear water for which these anchorages are renowned (they're also very deep, which makes anchoring a bit hairy). We've scraped the barnacles from Enki's waterline, and done the washing. Read the New Yorker. Restful things. Those billowing clouds you can see in the pictures above are a regular feature of the sky now. We keep a close eye on them.

We got caught out the night we left Kas by a thunderstorm we didn't see coming - though we ought to have. Unfortunately, we weren't in a good position to ride it out. The anchorage around from Kalkan became very crowded after we'd arrived, and we found ourselves boxed in by a gulet on one side, and a small charter yacht on the other. Alex took the photo below at about 11 pm, before the storm broke. He had politely (yes, Alex can be polite) suggested to the charter boat skipper that he move his boat, since there was electrical activity around and it was anyone's guess where the squalls would come from. The skipper declined to move his boat then, and declined yet again as the wind became wilder. 

We didn't sleep that night. The sea built up quickly, and we stood watch anxiously as Enki and the charter boat and the gulet moved around their anchors and between our/their lines attached to rocks onshore. The charter boat bounced up and down like a toy in the angry sea, its bow about a metre from our stern at closest, and at one point its anchor chain dropping down right under our boat. Finally, a big squall on the beam flipped our anchor out of the weed and sandy (not good holding) and we dragged onto the gulet - oh, you don't want to know.

By 3.30 am, we had re-anchored much further out in the bay, in 24 metres of water, thankful for a full moon and our powerful new windlass. But we were not happy with that skipper who had given us no way out except to up-anchor. Very rude. He ended the night rafted up to the gulet. Shameful. He couldn't get his anchor up.

The Turkish navy's firing zone included the seven capes
We motored up the coast the next day, away from that bad night. By early afternoon we were scurrying to clear a firing zone. Over and over on VHF 16 the Turkish navy broadcast that it would be using the region between such and such coordinates for firing practice between 1430 and 2000  - the sequestered zone included a big chunk of the coast north of Kalkan, the part known as the seven capes. Bizarre, we thought, watching a naval helicopter buzz straying yachts which obviously didn't have their VHF on. There was a warship on the horizon. The thud of artillery began right on the dot of 1430.

In today's BBC world news I read that the Turkish army began shelling Syrian targets yesterday, Wednesday, after Syrian fire killed five people in a Turkish border town.  Today the Turkish parliament has authorised cross-border action against Syria. Target practice suddenly looks not so frivolous.


  1. I for one enjoyed reading your "learned dissertation." We are about to join the throng of mass tourism in Turkey, including a 4 day stint of being "big dogs" on a gulet. We will be traveling with a guide and 9 other people which does not sound too onerous. And I feel so eager to get there, itching to see all the sights, meet the people, eat the food, buy a rug (hopefully). Reading your blog has been a pleasure in anticipation of our trip. And I'm glad to see you enjoyed reading Birds Without Wings. Joan

  2. Have a wonderful time, Joan! Are you coming now? The weather is sublime, and people (i.e. tourists) evaporating. Your group sounds a perfect size. Will we cross paths?? I didn't mention our rug purchases in the blog, but of course we've made them. Glorious things. Safe travels!

    1. Hi Diana and Alex, We leave for Turkey next Thursday, getting there a couple of days before our tour starts in order to visit Gallipoli on our own. We go to Izmir on Oct 17, then Ephesus on Oct 18. On Oct 19 we drive to Marmaris and start our gulet tour. We go to Ekincik Cove and on the Dalyan River to Iztuzu Beach. Next we go to Aga Limani, the Bay of Gemiler, a cove at Soguk Su and Gemiler Island. On Oct 23 we leave the boat at Fethiye and begin to travel inland.

      I don’t know whether any of these coastal places are near you, but I know that you were in Marmaris not long ago. If our paths are close, we'd love to see you. You can contact me at

  3. That sounds quite possible, Joan. Will keep in touch. We are currently not far from Fethiye, bound for Marmaris in a week or so.