Home > Europe, Turkey > FINAL DAYS IN TURKEY. . .MAYBE


Our original plan had been to go as far north as the Dardanelles and possibly Istanbul, but the time we spent going east to Kekova Roads meant that we were heading north in mid-June when the meltemi starts blowing.  After a few days of 20+ kts. on the nose, we decided that north was not the direction to be traveling. 

Since we had purchased some boat parts in Turkey (including the windlass) we wanted to collect the VAT on those items when we left the country which meant checking out at Kusadasi about 70 NM north of Turgutreis.  Kusadasi is a cruise ship port and is one of several locations in Turkey where VAT can be reimbursed.

Kusadasi has ancient forts. . .

and modern cruise ships.

Along the way we visited an out of the way ancient site at Iassus, which is a small harbor sitting at the head of a very large bay. 

The ruins of a Byzantine tower sits at the entrance to the ancient harbor of Iassus.

A tiny fishing village now sits at the head of the narrow harbor. . .

replete with tiny fishing boats. . .

and fish vendors--this was dinner!

This site is so “out of the way” that it has more cattle grazing among the ruins than visitors and the Lonely Planet guide devotes about two paragraphs to describing it,  including a mention that “the admission is $2US if anyone is there to collect it”.

At the highest point on the penisula stands the ruins of a Byzantine fortress. . .

with turrets. . .

and steps.

We saw no other visitors while we were there, but had plenty of company.

The ruins are now inhabited. . .

grazing cattle. . .

some of whom aren't too fond of visitors. . .

and more docile sheep.

We came upon a fenced, roofed area that looked like an excavation, but proved to be an exhibit, although not well maintained of the interior portions of what appeared to be a an ancient residence.  There were several conjoined rooms each with beautiful mosaic tile floors, mostly in black and white motif and walls with remnants of paint.

Mosaic floors. . .

with intricate designs. . .

have been covered with roofs, but lie unattended.

We anchored at the head of a large bay that is also a weather refuge for large ships awaiting their next trip. 

In the distance one of many freighters anchored in the bay.

We left in light winds expecting an easy sail to our next stop, Altimkum.

Once outside the meltemi was ferocious and we pounded into 25-30 kt. winds and large, close swells for about 20 NM dodging massive fish farms–I stopped counting at 35. 

The fish farms. . .even in calm weather

are big business here--and dangerous to navigation!

Altimkum was a beach town with hotels, bars and restaurants lining the shore and we got little sleep as the euro-beat rocked the town.

Anchored off Altimkum. . .

there was lots of music from day trip boats . .

not to mention dancing girls!

The next day the wind was still howling from the northwest and we moved a few miles to an anchorage that was quiet, if not a little rolly.  At least we didn’t have to contend with daytrip boats anchoring in front of us and dragging anchor.

To head for Kusadasi meant heading straight into the wind, still strong from the north, so we diverted to a little Greek island 17 NM off the Turkish coast which we made in a fast sail.  Agathanisi was a gem.  We anchored in a small harbor on sand in crystal clear water.  No need for Kent to dive on the anchor—you could see it from the boat.

The yellow umbrella is at Seaside Restaurant--good food!

There were several little tavernas, a small market and a concrete quay where a ferry arrived once at day at 3:30 p.m.  Private boats lined the quay other times, but we anchored out and then tied to shore when the wind came up.

The restaurant where we had both lunch and dinner (it was so good) served all organic produce.  The goat and cheese on the menu were both local to the island as well.  Hard to imagine given the rocky, desolate terrain.

When we woke the next morning, the meltemi winds had subsided and we were up early for a 33 NM motor trip to Kusadasi.  We went through the Samos Straits, less than one mile separating Greece and Turkey at its narrowest point, and were checked into the marina by noon. 

Turkey on left--Greece on right, passing through Samos Straits

With the help of the customs agent at the marina (55 euros worth of help) we checked out of Turkey and collected the several hundred dollars of VAT.

The last time we were in Kusadasi it was on a land tour and we experienced our first earthquake in a hotel on the waterfront.  We couldn’t help but wonder how an earthquake feels on a boat as we watched sunset over the Kusadasi marina.

Kusadasi Sunset

We are sad to be leaving Turkey.  It is the place we have spent the most time so far, and where we have made so many cruising friends.  Many of them have said “you’ll be back”—meaning that we won’t be able to stay away from Turkey.

Admittedly, Turkey is the best cruising venue we have encountered in the Med.  The Turkish people are friendly and industrious.  There are countless anchorages, lively cities and quaint seaside restaurants.  Goats roam the hillside and farm tractors compete for space with cars on roads.  Turkey is a crossroads of ancient history and its ruins and museums are some of the best in the world.  It would be very easy to spend 5 to 10 years here as has been the case for some friends we have met.

For now we are heading west and will winter in Sicily—next year, who knows?

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