Alanya Turkey

24 July 2020 – Alanya Turkey

We are in TURKEY, a transcontinental Eurasian country bordered by Greece and Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran, Iraq, Syria the Mediterranean Sea; and west by the Aegean Sea. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the country’s citizens identify as Turkish, while Kurds are the largest minority, at between 15 to 20 percent of the population.

At various points in its history, the region has been inhabited by diverse civilizations including the Anatolian peoples, Assyrians, Greeks, Thracians, Phrygians, Urartians, and Armenians. There is A LOT of history here. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent – the Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa and it became a world power.

The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades against the occupying Allied Powers, resulted in the abolition of the sultanate and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923, with Atatürk as its first president. Atatürk enacted numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of Western thought, philosophy and customs into the new form of Turkish government. For example, under Atatürk, the Ottoman Turkish script was replaced by the Latin-based new Turkish alphabet (nearly the same as the English alphabet we use today). Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, the IMF, and the World Bank.

Accession negotiations with the European Union started in 2005, but were stalled in 2018 and suspended in 2019. Why? I have two suggestions: possibly because President Recep Erdoğan has introduced measures to tighten “freedom of the press”, measures that increase the influence of Islam; and the refusal of the government to admit to the genocide against its own people of Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Greek origin – during WWI. In short, Turkey applied for EU membership, everything I’ve seen so far resembles any other EU member country bordering on the Mediterranean Sea – but that application has been stalled for 15 years.

The population of Turkey is about 85 million and they have a GDP that puts them in 19th place in the world. Consequently, they are a member of the G20, an influential group for international cooperation on the most important aspects of the international economic and financial agenda. This group includes 19 countries, and the EU: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

We went paragliding for the first time on 8 July – right here in Alanya, and landed walking distance from the marina.

The weather was fantastic, and the views were spectacular. We couldn’t turn this event down at only $30USD per flight and $10USD per video (some bargaining was involved). I had to do some serious editing to chop down the video material down from about 40 minutes to only 2.5 minutes. This video is very authentic in representing our experience, with the exception of the take off. The take off slope was very, very steep – not at all represented in the video.

Another surprise was that since we were the first foreign cruisers to arrive in Alanya, we became an object of some interest and were interviewed by a TV station from Antalya and subsequently our story appeared on Turkish television, and maybe elsewhere. This is the link to the magazine, and this is the link to the video – of course its all in Turkish, except for the video interview.

Like everywhere else we travel to, we always seek out the local market and have become accustomed to going there every Friday. It is much like any other market, but I will point out that it is very clean, and the prices are clearly marked at the stalls. Of course, once we enter the market area, we have to “mask up”.

Today, we stopped at a little park just outside the market, waiting for our bus. The brilliant sunshine is creating havoc with my photos, often over exposing them.

Last week, when we went to the market with Eric and Pam on Pied-a-Mer III, we stopped at a local fast-food restaurant for local food.

Today, I also noticed this little friendly cat with some unusual, but beautiful patterns in her fur.

We’ve been busy with boat maintenance and repairs. Our sails have been sent to a sailmaker in Marmaris for work. We have two big projects in mind this year, and they both require the boat to be hauled. We will have the bottom sandblasted and painted “again”. This was last done in NZ, a mere four years ago. Unfortunately, we were not present for a lot of the work, and although it looked superficially fine on the outside, underneath – it is not good. In NZ, the yard insisted on doing “wet sandblasting” following strict environmental laws, but this is never a good idea for a steel hull. Also, they simply did not apply enough epoxy “primer” before painting on the Coppercoat.
Sadly, after only two years, the result was rust leaching through the paint, and over $25K in wasted money. The second big job will be removing the deck Treadmaster and repainting the decks. To that end, I have started on the tedious job of removing this excellent but aged deck non-slip material.

So far, I’ve probably removed about 20% of the Treadmaster, but its a tedious and dirty job – particularly in the heat. I’ve tried an oscillating tool (with a scraper and a cutter blade), a planer and a grinder – one after the other.

To be honest, the best result is with a hammer and chisel, but it is also the most tiring!

Yesterday, we took a couple hours away from the boat and visited the Alanya Castle, only a 10 minute scooter ride from our marina. This castle, first constructed in 1220, was built on the remnants of earlier Byzantine era and Roman era fortifications. The castle is located 250 metres high on a rocky peninsula and the wall which surrounds it is 6.5 kilometres long and includes some remains of 140 towers.

1 July – Suez Canal Finished

1 July 2020 – Alanya Marina – Turkey

News FLASH – We made it through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. We’re done, and now safely berthed at Alanya Marina in Eastern Turkey. 

At Port Suez, we docked at the Suez Canal Yacht Club (a Yacht Club, really in name only) and were treated very well by our agent Capt Heebie. He did all our clearances and arranged for diesel and fresh fruit and vegetable delivery. We were not permitted to go ashore, the Egyptian borders remain closed. We had an Egyptian lunch (gratis Capt Heebie) with SV LIBERTE (who we first met in Trinidad about 7 years ago) and SV PIED-A-MER (who we first met in Tahiti about 5 years ago). 

We departed Suez for the first of two legs through the Suez Canal on 24 June. Our first pilot was a jovial fellow, who spoke only a little English. He ate and drank everything we gave him. He boarded the boat at 0415. Unlike the Panama Canal, there are no locks in the Suez Canal, it is really just a long ditch, first undertaken in the period 1854-1856, by the Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps (the same man who started the Panama Canal). He obtained a concession from Sa’id Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, to create a company to construct a canal open to ships of all nations. This was a French, publicly traded company. 

We passed hundreds of these military “bridges”. They are really water-craft that are assembled by the Army (in practice and in war) to make a temporary bridge to cross the canal. It is literally done in “minutes”. When I lived and worked in the Sinai for Schlumberger 40 years ago, this was how I crossed the Canal to go from mainland Egypt to the Sinai.

Canal traffic is a mixture of one-way and two way movement because of lane widening, and construction efforts. We were overtaken by a few large container ships like this one. We were motoring at 6 knots, and them at about 10-12 knots.

The Captain of the huge container ship Mersk Gibraltor (Patrick, who we met when we stayed a year at Pangkor Marina in Malaysia) actually took a photo of the 3 sailboats underway (from his bridge deck) and we got this photo by email an hour later! What a small world indeed.

We arrived at Ismailia (mid-way through the Suez Canal) about 8 hours later, and left, as planned, two days later on 26 June. Ismailia might have been a nice place to visit, but we weren’t allowed to – because of COVID-19 and the fact that we checked out of Egypt on arrival at Port Suez. Here we are berthed at the Ismailia Yacht Club ($21USD per night, including water and electricity) alongside SV LIBERTE and SV PIED-A-MER.

Our second pilot also was a little rusty with his English, and also arrived very early at about 0430. 

This was our last view of Ismailia, it might have been a nice place to visit ….. Look at the blue sky and the clouds!

We continued to see hundreds of military bridge sections, pre-positioned and soldiers, hundreds of soldiers standing guard, often on the crests of the Canal sides.

This bridge, definitely did not exist when I lived here 40 years ago. The Mubarak Peace Bridge, also known as the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, Al Salam Bridge, or Al Salam Peace Bridge, is a road bridge crossing the Suez Canal at El-Qantara. The bridge links the continents of Africa and Asia – and 60% of the cost was financed by Japan.

In the next few hours, we could smell and feel the freshness of the Mediterranean Sea and we were on the way to Turkey. The fishing lines were put out and Gabo and Mariona caught 3 tuna over a 12 hour period. The best lure was a pink, squiggly thing that resembled a squid. The best fishing time was at dusk and dawn – not always the best time for cleaning though. 

We figured this last one was about 15 kg. Now – our freezer was FULL.

Crew Recommendation 

At this point, I would like to make a public recommendation for our reliable crew: Gabriele de Rota (Italian) and Mariona Gil de Biedma Galofre (Spanish). These two friendly, honest, trustworthy, polite and practical people have been our crew from Thailand to India last year and again from India through to Turkey this year – covering 8 countries. As you can see from my blog posts, they are also serious fishermen: catching / cleaning and cooking fish whenever possible. But, they are also thorough boat cleaners and dedicated watch-keepers. They are wonderful in the galley and even entertain us with music. They are also both very comfortable in the water (SCUBA divers) and very thorough with hull cleaning/scraping. They came with a bit of prior experience but we tried to train them as well, and I can say that I completely trust them both to make the right decision in any situation. They have kept their cabin neat and tidy and are always available to lend a hand or take charge. There have been no arguments or bad feelings between us. Sure, sometimes we have had a differing opinion, but nothing that led to anything more than a lively discussion. At times, it can be challenging to be “cooped” up in a small space with 4 people for months at a time – but not with these two people. I know that they both have some aspirations of getting professional qualifications and ultimately their own boat, or at least paid crew positions. They are made for this life and I’m sure they will find their niche. Not only do I highly recommend that they be crew on other boats, but we would take them back “in a heartbeat”. Gabo and Mariona will always be welcome on SV Joana. 

Here, we are approaching our port of Alanya Turkey, our home for the coming year.