Sunday, 27 October 2013


Breakfast at anchor - pomegranates are fiendishly hard to squeeze
The season is over.

A few days ago I was drifting around in my kayak, paddle in neutral, mesmerised by schools of flighty little fish darting about in water blue and clear as an aquarium. Enki was anchored in the plum spot on Kizil Adasi  - and all by herself at that. We watched a full moon rise over the big boatyard to the east of Bozburun and drizzle moonshine over satiny water right up to our bow. Beautiful. 

The anchorage at Kizil Adasi is ours for the taking

But now we are IN. Some people are still OUT, but we are IN. Definitively. The change is so sharp, so complete that, ludicrously, I find myself remembering how I used to feel on my first day back at work after a good holiday (in pre-cruising days, a three-week summer break was nirvana). Then, as now, I would wander around feeling detached and disbelieving. How am I meant to sit at this desk/stay tied to this pontoon all day long?

The last sail - the wind was light, but the muscle was willing
Fair weather coffee break
There are schools of fish milling about in the murky green waters of Netsel marina too, but who knows what they flush through their gills. Nothing we want filtered through our watermaker membranes, that's for sure. It was the good health and longevity of those membranes which brought us back to Marmaris. Word came from Marlin that parts for the high pressure water pump had arrived from Istanbul, and it could be installed within 24 hours. Sod's law dictated that the weather had by then settled, and remains so, but who are we to argue with the needs of a couple of expensive long tubes? 

Ismail and Engin deal with the CAT
For those with an interest in desalination, watermaker membranes need to be flushed in fresh water  regularly or, if the de-salinator is not in use, preserved ("pickled") in chemicals. To do either of those things, you need a high pressure water pump (ours is the CAT type and has been in and out of the workshop since early September). Marlin's top mechanical man Ismail was on board when we took Enki out of the marina to test the re-furbished pump, and finally achieved lift-off. There's a lesson in that particular story which Alex will tell when he updates the practical pages of the blog.

We keep ourselves amused for the moment by watching our neighbours. 

They are, as they were at this time last year, mostly Russian, though Alex has also spotted German, French, Bulgarian, Ukrainian and of course Turkish crews. They're swarming all over the charter fleets, converting summer boats into racing machines. The atmosphere they've brought with them is charged and intense. They've lowered the average age in the marina by several decades, I'd guess, and upped the party vibe by some.

Marmaris international race week begins tomorrow. We hear the fleet is bigger than last year's, well over 200 boats. There'll be a party every night, bar one, in the marque that's been installed about 200 metres from where Enki is parked. We're leaving town tomorrow, not by chance, for a few days. We're going to Rhodes, only 20 miles across the sea, but Enki will stay on the pontoon. Much less red tape going by ferry at the end of the season - since Rhodes is Greek.  

Friday, 18 October 2013

Keeping a low profile

Because next year we expect to leave Turkey, these past few days out on the water, the ones we've grabbed from the end-of-season bin, have a particular poignancy. This is the last time we'll be in Keci Buku... If we don't go to the Datca market tomorrow, that means I'll have just been the once, and it's such a good market... We missed Ceren again in Bozuk Buku, and next year, even if we do stop off there for a night, she'll still be at school in Istanbul. And so it goes. A slow goodbye each time we pull up the  anchor.

A man's boat is...his own affair

Slowly is how we're doing everything, actually. Not because infirmity demands it any longer (Alex is back on board, so to speak) but because hasty or sloppy decisions can cost you dearly in the second half of October when what's good for one day at sea is not at all good the next.

A woman in love with her transport
We made our escape from Marmaris under cloudless skies and a warm-you-right-through sun. As is so often the case in Turkey, there was just a whisper of wind in the morning, but when the afternoon breeze came in, it was at the expected hour (2 pm) and from the expected quarter (south-west) on this elephant-grey peninsula which runs west from Marmaris towards the Greek island of Symi. We sailed close-hauled at a cracking speed for about three hours and ducked into the shelter of Bozuk Buku with a couple of daylight hours to spare. If ever there was a remedy for marina blues, this was it!

All tied up and nowhere to go

Every backyard has a pomegranate tree
Almost as soon as we'd dropped anchor, Ceren's round-faced cousin Ayse came alongside in her shopping boat, offering the usual selection of light cotton towels and village bread. Then came an older man offering yet more of the same. I bought a jar of his honey. I enjoy trading and talking with this particular crowd of villagers who come from Sogut, across the hills, and appear all to be related somehow. I have no idea if one family is more deserving than another, but since our first visit in August last year, it has always been Ceren's boat we've looked out for. The girl's got brains and beauty, and on top of that, she knows something about making her own luck. Once she's finished school in Istanbul, I doubt she'll work another summer in Bozuk Buku.

The hills behind Orhaniye and Keci Buku

In Keci Buku the people walk on water (a sandbar helps)

The best anchoring is close to island in Keci (Goat) Buku 
We would gladly have stopped one more night at Bozuk Buku, but caution urged us to find an anchorage better protected from the south-east. Bad weather was on the way. That day's run into the shelter of Keci Buku at the far end of Hisaronu gulf was textbook autumn sailing - again. But the weathermen were right. In the dead of night the barometer fell off a cliff, and the winds which had been building all day ratcheted up their rage even further. Not much sleep that night. Both the skipper and the first mate were thankful for a good holding and a big anchor and, in the skipper's case, a new set of Musto wet weather gear purchased in an end-of-season sale in Athens. Fielding gusts of 35 to 40 knots at anchor over a period of six (very dark) hours is something you like to be well-prepared for.

Don't mess with this low pressure system

A figure you don't much like to see at 4 am 

When will those guys at UKMO update the synoptic chart??

Another Swedish boat getting knocked about 

Kristel and John from Bluesipp hasten back on board after visiting Enki

When the rain stops and wind eases up, it's good to stretch your legs. Between the anchorage and the dramatic hills which protected us from the southerly gale is the village of Orhaniye. It doesn't have a heart as such, unless it's the mosque, but we enjoyed taking the road less walked around its wide arc. Few people were out (it was Friday, and most were heading towards the mosque), but I'd guess that Orhaniye (25 minutes from Marmaris by road) offers a quiet life for people both rich and poor, those who have built swimming pools next to faux Swiss chalets and those whose animals share much the same kind of traditional drystone accommodation as the family. My hairdresser in Marmaris lives in Orhaniye. Annette is Swedish, married to a Turk, and they have some land and a few goats which she milks. "When we settle down after this, you know we have to grow things, don't you?" I say to Alex, again. He understands why that might make a person happy.



Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Pause

Hanging in there above the ramparts of the newly-restored Marmaris castle
When I last wrote, we were hanging off a buoy in Deep Bay, thinking that five days would see Alex up and running again (well, not quite running, but you get the drift). The weather was closing in, but with our friends Cathy and Ian on Sea Cloud coming out to the anchorage, and the prospect of smart company to lighten the cloud that inevitably descends over Enki when the skipper folds, things looked manageable.

Sea Cloud picks up a mooring in Deep Bay

Lentil soup weather

When the sun came out, coffee was on Enki
And they were. A mean north-westerly blew day and night, the temperature dropped precipitously and the turtle dived for cover. Alex stayed horizontal during the day, the flicker of Kindle pages accompanied by the rustle of foil (panadeine forte being the drug of choice). But the evenings were for dancing. We had a good time with Sea Cloud, and when we left them last Monday to head up to Marmaris to renew our residency permits, I imagined that we might perhaps see them again in Cappadocia this coming week. That is if we weren't out sailing. We hadn't yet made up our minds what we'd be doing in these last lovely weeks of October.

Helping Cathy into the Hobie hot seat

Then the prof put the kayak through rigorous on-site stability testing

Call this the long Pause. We're still in Marmaris, at Netsel marina, parked in between the charter fleets and suffering the frenzied tribal beat of Bar St's notorious clubs until the wee hours of the morning. The back dictates the timetable, and it's being perverse. This morning Alex has again put himself in the capable hands of Norbert. Norbert knows his job. He used to run a big chiropractic business in Dusseldorf or some such cold northern city until he mislaid his work ethic. He sees one or two patients a day now and otherwise seems happy tending his garden in the backblocks of Marmaris. He has a black belt in some martial art too. Norbert seems to be fixing Alex's back, which is a very good thing.

The magnificence of Marmaris harbour,  seen from the castle

Friday afternoon regatta on the bay

Charm offensive
Marmaris (where people have lived since 3000 BC) is sited on a stunning natural harbour, but it's not a town you want to hang around while there's any warmth left in the sun. It attracts the ugliest kind of flesh from sun-starved English cities to the cheaply-built hotels and bars which stretch for kilometres around the bay. The beaches in front of the hotels are covered in blubbery bodies, copiously tattooed and scantily clothed. Fair enough, you say. It's their holiday. But what's a sight for sore eyes on the beaches is downright offensive in restaurants, on the streets and on public transport.

Torso from Knidos (in Marmaris castle)

As a rule, your Manchester man doesn't like to wear a shirt. He likes to let it all hang out - as does your Manchester woman (sorry, Manchester - the name trips easily off the tongue, but you stand for a type, and I'm stereotyping like crazy here).

This can be bad news on a packed dolmus (public minibus), as Alex found today on the way back from Norbert's when six shirtless, overweight Englishmen squeezed in alongside women and children (and a man with a bruised back). Those who dared to mention the stench coming off the fat naked torsos were given looks that could kill.  Marmaris makes its tourist income at a high cost.

It's my town too

Inside the old town, where the sun doesn't shine

Come November, when the tourists go home, things change for the better. We'll be happy to be back in Marmaris then....if and when we get out of here. It's not only Alex's back keeping us tethered to the marina dock. There's a pesky problem with a leaking CAT pump which goes back to the workshop for a third time later today. Then next week it's bayram, Sacrifice Feast, when traditionally families would slaughter a sheep (think back to Abraham and his son). They make a meal of the long public holiday, sheep or no sheep, as we do of Easter. More fodder for the Pause.

The heart of town, looking back up into the hills
 I'm holding onto the memory of the turtle. Ian and Cathy stayed on in Deep Bay all week after we left - and report that the turtle frolics around Sea Cloud at least twice a day. I like the thought of a turtle frolicking and look forward to getting back into a bit of frolicking myself.

Bronze hand from the ancient city of Knidos