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Cruising From Turkey To Greece

By doina — last modified Jul 12, 2005 11:10 AM

Published: 2005-07-12 11:10:43
Countries: Greece , Turkey

From April 30 to June 3 we sailed the south coast of Turkey, from Finike to Marmaris, where we spent most of our time. Finike in Turkey was a good way to start this part of the trip. A friendly and well-organized marina and town with enough facilities to get a few small things we needed done. The clearance procedures were straightforward and fast with all offices in a very small area. We arrived on a Friday and were told that the authorities were not available until Monday, but that there were no problems for us to come off the boat and look around….a most welcome relaxed atmosphere. We highly recommend Finike as a starting place in Turkey, for those arriving from the South.

We sailed West on May 5 following this beautiful coast in short hops of 30 to 40 miles…you can spend one week or one year doing this section of the coast, as there are so many small bays and coves, many of them with small restaurants, ruins of earlier settlers and in places, fresh water springs. The mountains fall onto the sea most everywhere, making for some spectacular sunrise and sunset pictures, the anchorages are very popular due to their beauty, clear water and on land walking trails to a large number of ruins. We slowly made our way to Marmaris, which was our intended last stop in Turkey.

On May 6, and in a place called Kas where we had stopped for the night, we had our first serious encounter with the MELTEMI, which is a very strong wind that, when accelerated by the high mountains, can reach more than 40 miles per hour. The Meltemi comes out of nowhere and the normal weather forecast does not help to tell you when and where. Local knowledge does help a lot, at least to tell you where is safe to anchor to prevent trouble if the Meltemi arrives. We had a busy night and next morning fending off MILOCURA from damage, first when our anchor lost holding and later from damage against the wharf we were moored at. Our heartfelt thanks go to the fishermen that helped us that night and wanted nothing more than thanks in return.

Before we left Marmaris we took a bus to Izmir, a large city North West along the coast, for Orestes to get his visa to enter Greece and the rest of the Schengen signatory countries. At first we were asked to go back to the Dominican Republic to get it (which is the standard procedure everywhere we have been) but after a bit of explaining and showing boat documentation the Greek consulate authorities were very helpful, to the point of sending the stamped passport by courier, back to Marmaris, at their cost. With a stamped passport and all MILOCURA jobs completed, we were ready to leave, before Orestes Turkish visa expired, on June 3rd (yes, it is a lot of fun having a Dominican passport, you get to visit many consulates and enjoy the company of “top line” bureaucrats”).

On June 3 we set sail for Rhodes, our first stop in Greece and an entry port to the Schengen countries. It was only some 25 miles away and, with light winds, a very clear day and calm seas, it was a pleasant motor sail. The fact that we were starting a new chapter and going into a new country kept us a bit concerned but it was soon over, once we were crossing the port entrance, where the “Rhodes Colossal” light house/statue is claimed to have been (it is another story and further investigation if our mast would have fitted under or not!).

After for the first time mooring “Mediterranean style” (dropping your anchor and backing towards the wharf to tie the boat) and doing it at the same time you, 1) Make sure the anchor is set, 2) You do not hit the boats at either side of your boat, 3) You do not hit the back of your boat against the wharf AND, 4) You do not create the conditions for a (another!) mutiny and potential divorce by shouting at your wife!

We then set out to do the clearance procedure, which ended up being straightforward but paper filled, convoluted and time consuming, as the various offices were spread apart in a radius of nearly one kilometer. Having completed that exercise, and happy with ourselves after so much sweat mooring the boat, we were asked to move it from the crowded port, as the space we were in had been “reserved” (the next morning the spaces were still empty??). Any way, we moved to another facility just one mile down the road, just in front of where we had been for the clearance procedure! There we were in the company of much larger sailing and power pleasure boats as well as large ferries and cruise ships, constantly moving around, entering or leaving port, with the subsequent surge…..our second “Med Style” mooring attempt was not perfect but better!

Too many inquisitive tourists and too many tourist buses (with their engines on at all times, sending their smoke right into our faces from their parking spot at the wharf) motivated us to leave Rhodes in less than 24 hours after arrival. Early in the morning of June 4, and after doing some shopping (the supermarket we found was open at 07:30) we departed Rhodes on the way to the island of Tilos, which was some 35 miles in a NW direction. We had started our crossing of the Aegean Sea in earnest.

Before departing Marmaris we plotted a trip plan with a few alternatives, that took us in a generally Westerly direction but touching, what we thought were “outofthetouristtrack” islands. Every island and anchorage had its memorable things, but in common were the simplicity, the quiet calm pace of life and in some cases almost complete privacy…..even when the season has not started some of the places, like Santorini, were already crowded. Facilities have been found to be either incomplete or lacking, generally being used by the local fishermen that, in most cases were flexible and pleasant but in some cases were very clearly upset with the presence of us the cruisers (specially “wide” catamarans like ours).

Now we are in Poros near Athens and getting ready for the next chapter, which starts with the crossing of the historical Corinth canal, which is less than 60 miles West of here, and start crossing the Ionian sea, separating Greece from Southern Italy and Sicily.

For sure the Mediterranean is all we were told it was going to be and more….definitively not a place to go sailing from East to West during this time of the year….winds are mostly on the nose or no wind at all. On our next trip to the area we are planning of sailing East during this time and have some lovely sailing along the way. Imagine that during the crossing of the Aegean we only raised the main sail once, and it was between Serifos and Poros for some 6 sailing hours, between 7 and 8 knots on a close reach… in the background, the sound of the small wavelets (not a single breaking wave!) hitting the hulls, clear skies (unfortunately heavy shipping traffic!) MAGIC!!

Orestes and Zoa

MILOCURA, Poros, Greece, 37°30'N 23°28'E