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Aegean Sea: Don't clear at Eskifoca

By MV LeeZe — last modified Jun 20, 2014 09:48 PM

Published: 2014-06-19 23:00:00
Countries: Turkey

From my personal experience:

16 June 2014: Arrived at Eski Foca

Back when we arrived in Cesme, we dropped anchor, only to be told by the Turkish Coast Guard that where we dropped the hook was not an authorized anchorage. So, in preparing to enter Eski Foca, I noted the paper charts had all types of notes about no anchorage and restricted areas. The electronic chart had similar notes, but in different areas. So, called up the Harbor Master and asked them where is the authorized anchorage. The lady that answered the phone did not know, did not know who to ask, and based on the tone in her voice, could not be bothered to find out. Great!. Called the Coast Guard (for those in Turkey their country wide phone # is 158) and asked them. They had not a clue either but offered to find out and get back to me. About 10 minutes later, their Izmir Operations Center called to tell me that I was authorized to anchor within 300 yards of  38° 40.380’N,  026° 44.880’E. So, I anchored within 194 yards of that point per my chart plotter in about 10 meters of water.

The little (Kucuk Deniz) harbor South and East of me is where the day charter gulets hang out. Dead South, in the bigger (Buyuk Deniz) harbor, there is pier space on both the East and West sides. We are hoping to move there after we complete the check-in process.

17 June 2014: We started the check in process at 1300 yesterday and finished today at 1100. For the record we cannot even remotely recommend Eski Foca as a port to check into our out of the country! There is one travel agency that can sell you a transit log and they may or may not have any on hand when you need it. To get one, either you, or they, have to travel to Izmir (64 km away) to buy one. There is no agent in town that you can off-load the check-in/out process to, so you must do it your self.

We first show up at the Port Captain’s office which is near to the dock where the ferry to the Karaburun Peninsular docks. He is on the Buyuk Deniz side of the bay. He is open from 0900-1730, closed for lunch one hour, mid-day. If you have had a transit log before, you must present to him a new blank transit log and the Y2 copy of your last transit log.

Failure to have this copy will require you to return to the port where you last checked out!

If you do not have a new one, you have to get one from the travel agency. So for those that are in Turkey, you may find it convenient to have a black log on board just for situations like this. After he fills in the new transit log (he did ours by hand, and his penmanship was terrible!) he sends you to the the Health Police for the next step. They are located in Aliaga, some 42 km by road NW from him. (38° 49.650’N,  26° 59.032’E.) We had to take two minibuses and a taxi, plus a 3+ km walk to find this place. It took us 5+ hours to get there and back, and we cheated, we took a taxi from that office to the main intersection on the highway where the turnoff for Eski Foca is. (We were beat, dog tired, and really annoyed that the Port Captain had NOT been entirely up-front about the level of difficulty in getting this stamp.)

So, we get back to Eski Foca about 1900, to find Passport and Customs also closed. We go into the Police station right by Customs, and try as gently as possible for them to get permission from both entities if we could continue the process tomorrow. Nope. Nada. Not a chance. No way. So, the Passport Police Officer comes in and basically tells us that we had to do what we had to do to get that stamp, but for the entire trip, we were in the country illegally and if something would have happened… his voice trails off. He is quite sympathetic of our plight, and had written to the government to explain what the Port Captain is having the new comers doing requires them to be illegal in the country for HOURS. No response. After that discussion, he stamps our passports and our transit log, but says we now have to wait for Customs. We suggest that we could come back tomorrow but again, nope, nada, not a chance, no way. You see, we are legal. But LeeZe (our boat) is still not.

So, we wait for Customs, who shows up at about 2000, with her husband, and 6 month old baby. We apologize profusely but she says it is not a problem. Zehra finishes her dinner while I go in to handle the paperwork. She wants to see a copy of our old transit log, and then after a series of routine questions (all in Turkish mind you, she speaks no English), she stamps the transit log. Now LeeZe is legal. Then she tells me to go back to the Port Captain to complete the paperwork. But he is closed. She tries to get him to come in but fails. Then, she announces that she is going to hold on to the transit log until tomorrow morning. That is NOT going to happen. She is quite adamant but I tell her that if the Turkish Coast Guard comes by tonight, I need to show him these papers. She reluctantly agrees to return them to me, but if I had a new born son, she would have made me promise on his head that I will return tomorrow.

It is now after 2100, we are both are running on empty. I get some dinner, and we are back on board LeeZe by 2230, and asleep shortly after that.

So, now today, at 0915, we continue the process. We tender in, and stop by the Port Captain Office. In so many ways we describe our trip to the Health Police, how a boat of foreigners could not have done that at all, how he misled us as to the ease of getting to the place and back, and that while we were performing that mission, we were ILLEGALLY in Turkey per the Passport Police Office. The more we recounted our tale of woe, the further he tried to melt under his desk. I even presented to him Google Earth screen shots showing that it was some 42+ km by road to where we had to go, not 30 like he said, some 4 km from the center of town, not in town like he said, and some 2+ km North of his counterpart in Aliaga, not right next too. Zehra said he apologized, but I never heard  it.

Now here is a trick we just learned. We had heard that we could add the names of family and friends that might come aboard for a ride or two at this point. So, before the Port Captain completes the paperwork, we ask him to add 12 names, and he does. He then signs the document again, and welcomes us into Turkey. (By this time he is slowly slinking out from under his desk.)

We then stop by the Passport Police office and give him his copy of the transit log, and then Customs. It turns out the the Passport Police Officer must have had a heart attack when he saw 12 names on the log and not just ours, because about 2 hours later Zehra receives a frantic call from him. She explained about friends and family coming to visit, but he asked her at least three times if we both were the only two that entered the country. After that call, we had a good laugh. I cannot imagine what he went through initially when he saw the log with 12 names. (For the record, we had 21 names we wanted to add, but the Port Captain asked us to limit it to the 12 most likely!)

So, until the government changes the check-in process, and has the Health Police drive down from Aliaga to check-in or check-out transit boaters, we say again - we cannot even remotely recommend Eski Foca as a port of entry or exit.

It is 1100 on a Tuesday and we are now legally in Turkey, LeeZe et al.  We also learn today is the once-per-week “farmer’s market” so after a light breakfast, we buy our fruits, veggies, cheese and nuts, and return to LeeZe at about 1530 for some R&R.

MV LeeZe (Flag USA)

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