Symi to Marmaris
16 September 2009 | Yacht Marine Marina, Marmaris, Turkey!
Bonnie, with Cruising Notes from Rick
Early yesterday morning, things were a bit tense onboard Aisling. Our dinghy was (mostly) to blame. Before leaving Astypalia for Yiali, we'd hoisted the dinghy onto the foredeck and deflated it. A quick, bumpy day of sailing had taken us to the south coast of Yiali, where we spent one night anchored off a very un-photogenic mine. Then the motor was back on for the windless and flat passage to Symi where, I assumed, we would check out of Greece and stock up on a few items (yoghurt, taramasalata, feta, pork) before departing for Turkey. From the water, Symi looked lovely, with pastel buildings stepping in tiers down the steep hillside. I was looking forward to taking the bus into town and doing a little exploring, but Rick had just downloaded the weather forecast. He wanted to leave immediately. Without checking out of Greece. Because you see, getting the dinghy inflated and back into the water, and then lifting the fifty-pound outboard motor down into the dinghy, is a difficult job in the heat, which had returned with vengeance. For reasons that were perfectly understandable, Rick was not keen on going to all that effort, only to face doing the entire process in reverse as soon as we got back to the boat. We were almost close enough to swim to shore, but could we carry the boat's papers, our passports and dry clothes? To resolve the whole dilemma, Rick had decided that we should skip checking out, go directly to Marmaris and just mail our cruising log back to the Greek authorities.
As the daughter of a teacher, I am a died-in-the-wool conformist, with a deep respect for authority and a complete aversion to rule-breaking. I was appalled at the idea of leaving Greece without checking out. I fretted and fumed, recounted stories of cruisers who had come to grief came by flouting the authorities, invoked emails from Jean Francois that CLEARLY stated "check out of Greece" as the final step of the proposed itinerary for Greece. The instructions on the Cruising Log document did say that we could mail it back to Greece, but only under "extenuating circumstances." I didn't see anything about our current situation that would fit the definition of "extenuating". Eventually, Rick became resigned to his fate, went on deck and inflated the dinghy. By 0930, we were on the bus.
Symi is a very pretty place and I really wish we could have spent more time there. As it was, we had just enough time to walk around the harbour to visit Immigration, the Port Police and a supermarket. A small contingent of (presumably) illegal immigrants had camped out on the large veranda outside the Immigration offices, the women wearing head-scarves and long bulky overcoats in spite of the heat of the day. Their sad expressions were a heart-wrenching sight, and I wondered what their stories were. The offices of the Port Police were in a lovely old house overlooking the harbour. There, for the first time, we encountered the surly attitudes we had heard about from other cruisers, but everything went smoothly. We were finished in plenty of time to catch the 11 a.m. bus back to the anchorage.
As we walked down the dock, a large tour group was converging on the bus stop. Rick managed to claim a seat at the back, but somehow I got jammed behind the tour guide, who informed me that I was to stay where I was. "Too many people" he told me firmly. "We're young, we're standing." It was nice to be called young, and since most of his clients really did seem to be quite a bit older than me, I decided not to argue. "Now", he bellowed to his clients, "you are experiencing the real Greece, you are riding the bus with the locals!" In reality, it was quite the reverse. Rick and I were suddenly experiencing the lives of the "Elderhostel.org" tourists who had filled the bus beyond capacity, while several local people who had been hoping to take the bus were left behind on the sidewalk. I must say, though, that their tour did sound like a great experience. Elderhostel tours have an educational focus, and this group had cruised from Athens through the Aegean on a 20-cabin sailing ship, taking almost the identical route that we had followed.
By noon we were underway, and within an hour we were sailing down the coast of Turkey. As we approached Marmaris, the hills became greener and higher. As we sailed through the spectacular scenery surrounding the luxurious marina of "Yacht Marine" at Marmaris, we realized that we were adding both another country and another continent to Aisling's logbook. Turkey! Asia! Water to wash the decks! Unlimited showers! A (drum roll) swimming pool! A day that started out with a little tension had ended very well.
The passage from Astyphalea was brisk and included passing through the main shipping channel to the Bosporus and the region where typically the strong Meltimi winds are frequent. We had a broad reach and Aisling flew with the wind. We saw three ships heading south, one oil rig slogging north and about five other sailboats going our way.. Our destination was Yiali, which is a small island north of Nisiros with a large mine and loading gantries. The harbour is very deep, but in close to the northern shore, in the saddle of the island there is a sign with an anchor on it. Here we anchored in 22' of water on hard packed sand with good holding. The wind was still strong but there were no waves, just a slight roll from the swell outside that followed us around the point over 2 miles south. There were three other sailboats here with us and we were all rolling together.
The next stop was Simi where we anchored at the head of a long deep bay in Pethi, just over the hill from Simi town. According to the Imray pilot the holding here is questionable, but we bit well in 42' of water with 180' of chain out. Just off our stern the water was 60 to 150' deep. There can be strong katabatic gusts off the mountain so we needed to be anchored well. And we were lucky, I think. There were quite a few boats here so swing room was a bit of a concern, but all worked out well in the end.
It is 35 mile to Marmaris, Turkey from Simi and the winds were light so we motored east by a mountainous coast that became greener and greener the farther east we went. It's nice to see trees again. Marmaris is in a large bay that is well protected from the sea and the slopes are covered in beautiful pine trees. The marina is top notch with great facilities, chandlery, and many yacht maintenance services. There were probably 1000 boats here in the water and a hundred or so ashore on the hard. That number will grow as winter approaches. The price is very reasonable for long term storage. Our quote was for 1182 euros for storage on the hard for six and a half months. There is a bus into town every half hour and there is a large live aboard contingent that stays over the winter.