Monday, June 24, 2013

Up The Aeolian Coast

We're in Ayvalik, Turkey enjoying a little marina life before heading off into the wilds of Greece tomorrow morning. This is as far north as we intend to come on the Turkish coast this year. Directly to our west, very lovely in the distance,  is the island of Lesvos where we'll check in at the town of Mytilene.
Ayvalik, Turkey
Since our last update we did an Ephesus tour from Kusadasi with Laura and Mark of Sabbatical III. The tour was one of the few disappointments we've had this trip. The idea was to see and experience the ancient city of Ephesus. The day long 'tour' allocated an hour and half to Ephesus.

The "library" at Ephesus
There was about a half hour spent at what is called "Mary's house" which some have said is the house where Christ's mother lived her last days. Mary's house, sorry to say, struck me as a religious tourist trap. The rest of the day was a 'tour' of various marketing attempts to get us to buy ceramics, leather goods, etc, etc. The classic tourist BS. Even the hour and a half in Ephesus was a rush job and it seems the route through is laid out to push as many people through as fast as possible and gather up those Turkish Lira for the government. We should have known and Ephesus deserves better.
The threater at Ephesus
We left Kusadasi heading north, ever northwards, to Sigacik, which is a nice town with a nice castle and no crowds. First Light III was there and with them we were invited to help Bill & Bunny Bailey of Onset celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a great evening and many thanks to Bill & Bunny.
Sigacik home
From Sigacik, north again to Cesme, another nice town with another nice castle. And this one has a Burger King! And yes, I dragged Janet to Burger King. She didn't seem to mind too much.
Castle of St. Peter, Cesme
From Cesme we slipped over to the SE corner of the Greek island of Lesvos for a nice quiet anchorage in Ormos Tarti. Not really anything there except pretty country and a couple tavernas on the beach. We had a major thunderstorm that evening. This was a classic midwestern thunder bumper that rolled in over the anchorage out of the northwest. Big roll cloud out front followed by a cold gust front and light to moderate rain and lots of lightning. We shut down the electronics and put the computer in the oven. Then the hail started rattling down, heavy hail up to about 3/4". The sea was alive, amazing,  from the splashing of the hail and all we could do, of course, was sit under the dodger and watch and listen as the hail banged into our solar panels, dodger and nice new teak decks. That and wonder how much damage was being done. The hail lasted almost half an hour and then died out followed by the real rain shafts of intense rain and winds estimated at over fifty knots. Quite the storm and luckily we had good holding and didn't move an inch. I wouldn't have wanted go out and re-anchor in the hail! And luckily the hail stopped before the high winds began. We had NO DAMAGE from the hail. If it had been wind driven hail I believe the result would have been different.
Airstream at anchor, Ormos Tarti
Bernie and Di on First Light III joined us the second night and we had a couple  nice dinners ashore. The following day we both went over to Bademli Limani on the the Turkish coast and spent a couple more days enjoying a nice anchorage and the nice village of Bademli. No tourism here! Just a quiet Turkish seaside/rural atmosphere.
First Light III close hauled to Bademli
It looked like a Meltemi situation was developing. This is the classic Aegean summer northerly wind that can blow for days and make travel northwards less than pleasant. So we upped anchor after two nights at Bademli and motored the last twenty-five miles up to Ayvalik and what is called "the lake". The 'lake' consists of a number of almost completely land locked bays and anchorages with generally excellent shelter and holding. 
Janet above Poroselene
 The towns of Alibey and Ayvalik across from each other offer some mildly urban comforts or you can choose places like Poroselene where there is nothing but an ancient watch tower above a quiet anchorage with crystal clear water. So over the last week we've done several anchorages sitting out the Meltemi. We rented a car and visited the ancient  city of Pergamon and had the kind of experience we'd hoped for in Ephesus. We've had some nice meals ashore and got ripped off one night paying 70TL for one small fish. Oh, well…….

Ancient Pergamon above modern Bergama
Today I did the bureaucratic dance and officially checked out of Turkey. No problem and everyone was  very accommodating, even the harbor master who had forgotten his very official stamp at home . First Light III and  Onset are here and we're all getting together tonight for a major game of "Mexican Train" followed by dinner in Alibey. Should be great fun.
Talking NBA with a Turkish fan in Bergama
And tomorrow we'll take on a little diesel and head for Mytilene. Much as we've enjoyed Turkey and the Turks we're looking forward to three months in Greece. I've always loved the country and the people since being based out of Thessaloniki back in the '80s and that, at least, has not changed.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet
SV Airstream

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Ionian Coast, And A little Dodecanese

We're in Kusadasi, Turkey where the main attraction is close access to the ruins of ancient Ephesus. We have a day long Ephesus tour arranged for tomorrow and everybody says its spectacular. Actually Kusadasi itself seems a nice enough town. Its a major cruise ship and tourist destination but, at least this time of the year, it isn't a total zoo. 
Motoring towards Kusadasi
The marina is very nice and much less expensive than Bodrum. All amenities are available and there are the usual (in Turkey) very sleek and friendly marina cats so Janet can get her cat fix daily. Life back in a marina is pretty good after a couple weeks in the 'bush'. We'll be here four days and then its off to the north once again.
Cruise Ships at Kusadasi
And it has been an exciting trip up the Ionian coast which, if possible, is even more historically interesting than the Carian. From Gumusluk we edged around to the north of the Bodrum peninsula to seek shelter from a southerly wind forecast to 50 knots. In a little bay called Ilica Buku we anchored out with Mark and Laura on their boat "Sabbatical 3". There were gusts all day to over 30 knots in this protected area and the holding was not good. We dragged several times but there was plenty of room. The main problem was that there used to be fish farms in the bay and the bottom is full of old net and other crap that gets caught up in your anchor. I went over in the dink and helped a big Dutch boat cut off about a ton of net and trash that he brought up. We finally found a nice spot where there was shelter, decent holding and no stuff on the bottom and sat out a decent night.
Yeorgio anchorage, Agathonisi, Greece
Agathonisi is a small Greek island south of Samos and about 28 miles north of Ilica Buku. Its considered part of the Dodecanese group and seemed like a nice next destination with a couple good anchorages. It proved to be very lovely, quiet and unspoiled. There are only about 150 people on the island, a couple small markets, two tavernas and a creperie, of all things, to go along with the required bakery and ouzaria.  The tavernas were very good and Janet has discovered a taste for ouzo… could be interesting. We had another southerly blow through and the anchorages in Agathonisi are pretty exposed to the south. 
Beach scene, Agathionisi
We rode it out in a cove with some shelter and watched a couple charter boats get  pretty badly pounded on the quay before they moved off. All the Greeks and Turks we talk with say this is a very unusual year with all these southerly winds. It is nice not to be bucking the usual northerly stuff heading north but the nicest anchorages are often exposed to the south.
Turkey to the left, Greece to the right. The Samos Strait
After four days in Agathonisi we went north to Samos and the Posidonion anchorage on the very southeast tip of the island in the Samos Strait between Greek Samos and the Turkish mainland. Samos is a lovely, rugged and mountainous island. The Posidonion anchorage is almost undeveloped with just one nice taverna on the beach and a jewel of an Orthodox chapel above the bay.

Orthodox Chapel at Posidonion
The water is absolutely clear and the holding excellent over nice sand. Again it is exposed to the south but conditions were calm and it was a great anchorage. Mark and Laura stayed another day in Agathonisi but we ran into our friends Walter and Sandra aboard their boat "Sepia" and enjoyed a nice evening with them.
Janet above the Posidonion anchorage
So now we're enjoying beautiful days in Kusadasi. We have Mark and Laura from Sabbatical 3 and Walter and Sandra from Sepia to socialize with and a friendly cat who comes aboard as she wishes and behaves properly. Life is good!
Love to all,
Bill & Janet