15 August 2021 – Anchoring Holiday
We finally left Alanya Marina for a summer anchoring holiday on 14 July (nearly two weeks later than planned). It was our chance to get away from the city, away from the day to day grind, and sample some of the pristine clear water and thousands of beautiful anchorages that Turkey is known for. We left on Wednesday 14 July, and our first anchorage was a 72nm motor-sail West of Alanya, the very protected Ceneviz Koyu.
At Ceneviz Koyu, we met our Turkish friends Tahir and Yonca, who had recently completed a sailing course and were renting a sailboat for the first time, and anchored next to us. This bay was incredibly clean with bluish-green crystal clear waters with several turtles living nearby. The bay is surrounded by cedar trees and there was a constant buzz in the air from the cicadas humming. It was very peaceful – and as an added bonus, there was a good mobile phone signal.
While there, one day we drove our dinghy East to “nearby” Olympos Beach and took a taxi to the tourist attraction at the base of Mount Chimaera. This is a group of natural vents spouting perpetual flames above the ruins of the temple of Hephaistos. Mount Chimaera was the name of a place in ancient Lycia, notable for constantly burning fires, based on methane and other gases emerging from the rocks. Some ancient sources considered it to be the origin of the myth of the monster called the Chimera. The “walk” up the hill in 42C was a bit of a slog. It took about 30 minutes to hike up 1000m, and another 45 minutes to walk down.
As promised, there was a hint of methane gas and fires were burning. It sure was hot!
We took our “go-fast” dinghy twice to the nearby beach about 2nm away, and picked up provisions at the Orange Supermarket. This run used up a lot of gas! The beach was swarming with tourists, it appeared that 90% of them were Turkish.
Our next anchorage was further West at Gokkaya Limani, near “Smugglers Inn”, the only “restaurant” in the area. This bay enjoys cooler, fresh and clean water because of several natural underwater springs. It was humming with activity and chock-a-block with mostly Turkish boats, but a few international cruisers as well. There was actually an enterprising young man with a small covered motorboat, a large solar panel, and a freezer chock full of ice cream. He came around in the afternoon, and one day we tasked him to buy us bananas and yoghurt – and take away our trash.
This is a very well protected anchorage, and other than the wakes from Turkish water sports boats, there was no swell. This, of course, completely died down at night. Smugglers Inn seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. It was more of a local “watering hole” than an inn – so we looked forward to future finds. Our daily routine consisted of swimming, casual walks on shore, reading and relaxing – lots of relaxing.
There were no people on shore, but plenty of goats on a small island.
At this anchorage, we met our Turkish/Canadian friends Nico and Marina on Canadian flagged SV BRACONNIER.
After nearly a week at this anchorage, we finally moved on further West to yet another beautiful anchorage on the Lycian Way. Along the way, we passed these ruins on the hillside near Kekova Roads.
We anchored just SW of Woodhouse Bay, near the Turkish restaurant Yoruk Ramazan.
We had a walk ashore on a rocky, somewhat challenging trail and saw some of the countryside.
After returning to the restaurant, we filled up on cold water, beer and home-made french fries cooked over a wood fire. We returned to this place a few nights later to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary.
Then, we moved again further West to the marina in Kaş (pronounced “cash”), or more accurately, the bay next to the Setur Kaş Marina. This anchorage was also a source of many cold water natural springs. Anytime we jumped in the water to get cooled off, we could see the temperature inversion layers, and feel alternating warm and cold water. It was very refreshing and more invigorating than we had ever experienced before!
After 14 days of anchoring, we timed our arrival so that we could visit the weekly market and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. At Kaş, we went by car with our friends Nico and Marina back to Demre, to see the UNESCO site of St. Nicholas Church, an ancient East Roman basilica church in the ancient city of Myra. This Eastern Orthodox church was built above the burial place of St Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian bishop of Myra, an important religious figure for Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics and the historical inspiration for Santa Claus. Its use dated from its 6th century construction for the state church of the Roman Empire by Justinian the Great.
There were probably about 6 dogs inside, resting in the shade – out of the sun. Nobody bothered with them, and they looked right at home.
While in Demre, we also visited the ruins of Myra: an ancient Greek, then Roman Greek, then Byzantine Greek, then Ottoman Greek town in Lycia, which became the small Turkish town of Kale, and was renamed Demre in 2005. More recently, in 1923 the Greek inhabitants were required to leave through a Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, at which time its church was finally abandoned. There is a lot of history here in this area.
There are several necropoles cut from the rock face, as well as a large, well preserved theatre – all dating back thousands of years.
On another outing, we headed out to see the ruins at Xanthos, an ancient city in Lycian times. Xanthos is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Letoon, the centre of the Lycian civilization. However, when we got there, it was all closed down TIGHT. There have been a lot of forest fires in this area over the past week, and the government shut some of these sites, closed the gates and posted signs in Turkish that the site was closed until the risk of forest fires diminished.
OK, we changed gears and went instead to the ancient ruins at Patara, on our way back to Kaş. Patara (later renamed Arsino) was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia along this coast line. Coincidentally, it is also the birthplace of St. Nicholas in 270 AD, who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre), which we already visited.
In addition to the ruins, this area just happens to have one of the best beaches in Turkey. Of course, this isn’t a photo I took, it was swamped with tourists when we were there!
We did stop by Letoon, to see even more ruins just a few kilometres away. This site is unique because of the discovery of a stone bearing inscriptions in three ancient languages, a decree of some kind. The languages were ancient Greek, Lycian and Aramaic – all dead languages.
If only this thousand year old olive tree could talk ……
By 5 August, we reported to the local government hospital at Kaş and got another COVID-19 vaccination. Over the past few months, we have received two shots of Coronavac / Sinovac (one of the Chinese vaccinations). According to the World Health Organization (and the Turkish Ministry of Health), we were fully vaccinated. However, our home country of Canada does not recognize this vaccine (probably a political issue between China and Canada) so, if we went to Canada for a visit, we would be considered unvaccinated. Therefore, we took Turkey’s offer up for a third shot, a “booster”, this time with BioNTech Phizer. Our hope is to get another Phizer shot in a few weeks time – and therefore be considered fully vaccinated in Canada. After getting this shot, we then started to move slowly back East.
One of things that is new for us, is seeing so many boats dropping anchor, falling back and taking a line ashore. I’ve occasionally seen that before, but here, even in 25 feet of water, I’ve seen boats lay out 200m of chain and fall a long way back to a line ashore, tied to a rock. This can make things challenging when they pickup, as other anchors and chains can become nestled in. This boat, for example, dropped right in the middle of the channel (maybe 40 deep) and took a long line (200m) to an island, or somewhat near the island. His boat was right, smack, in the middle of the channel. I’m surprised nobody snagged it during the night as the line was about “neck high” from the water and no attempt was made to make it visible.
We are now back at Alanya Marina, snuggled into our berth and have thoroughly enjoyed our 6 weeks at anchor along the Turkish coastline. In the past, our usual mode of operation has been to arrive in a country, explore on land and transit through the country as we exit. Well, with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, things are just not the same in 2020/2021 as they were in previous years. Next week, we will fly to Austria to visit family, and then we’ll see what happens next.