Running from the Wind
23 September 2018 | Didim, Turkey - 7,323 NM
Sunny and Windy
We returned to Freya, via a flight to Kos, overnight hotel and then a late ferry to Leros. Kos town, although very busy with tourists has a really interesting history and has ancient ruins throughout. Our day started with a visit to a Roman villa which was restored in the 1920s by building a new house, as the ancient one would've been, atop the remaining walls. Our first thought was that it had been defaced and spoilt but after wandering further it was interesting to have more of a feel as to how it would've looked with roofs, porticos and courtyards. Next was the theatre and finally the western archeological site which was fascinating with streets and houses with mosaic floors.
Lunch had to be next and so we headed for the sea and seafood which was lovely. We'd now checked out of our hotel and so we're trying to fill the day and so next on the itinerary was the castle which we were surprised to find closed due to earthquake damage from a few years ago! We shouldn't have been surprised I guess as there are signs of the damage all over town. Instead we explored the ancient agora - interesting but we were a bit ruined out be then! Finally we spent a couple of hours by the hotel pool until it was time for the ferry.
We arrived on Leros at 10:30pm and had to collect the key to the boatyard from a cafe at the port. We were a little doubtful, but it all worked and we were back on Freya and in bed before midnight.
The next morning we hosed off the worst of the dust and got Freya ready to sail, as we were due to be launched at 12:30. By 14:30, a little later than scheduled (Greek time!) we were in the water and had an interesting and very windy departure. After a quick check to make sure a new seacock that the yard had fitted while we were away wasn't leaking, we set sail for Lakki, where the boatyard has a marina. Our planned lunchtime stop at anchor was kept short but was lovely and gave Lorraine a chance for a first swim. The sail through the islands started very windy and rolly but once we turned we had a great downwind sail with just a reefed jib and in less than two hours we were safely moored in Lakki. A celebratory drink, a quick hello to some friends, Margaret & Glen, followed by a meal out completed our first day on the water.
The priority the next day, was to properly clean Freya (not a quick job) of the ingrained dust from the boatyard and get to the supermarket for supplies. Kevin & Dee who Lorraine met on her crossing to the Canary Islands earlier this year had also just returned to their boat which is spending a year in Leros marina, rather than its usual berth in Turkey. We spent a lovely few days with them in Leros which included a meal out where Dee and Lorraine had an "OK" moussaka. This started a conversation that ended up with us cooking a proper moussaka onboard Freya the next day and Kevin & Dee joining us with a 5ltr box of red wine. A quiet and gentle day followed this one. Leros is a very pleasant town full of Mussolini style fascist architecture dating from the Italian occupation in the 1920s.
Our mooring was next to the coastguard boats who came and went regularly but we were surprised to see the police come to meet them one morning. The boat came in looking more crowded than the usual crew. It was full of migrants who were offloaded on the quay and taken away in mini buses. The process was very civilised with no haste. The migrants were all well dressed and came with luggage. The didn't seem to be excited to be there - obviously not the end of their journey but a milestone you would've thought. I wander what will happen to them next....
Our plan was to sail with Kevin and Dee for a while, but the forecast was for a few days of 40kt winds on all the Greek islands within easy reach. We decided we would head for Turkey while Kevin and Dee opted to stay in Lakki, their boat not being able to re-enter Turkey for another six months.
Following Kevin and Dee's advice we headed for Didim marina, where we had arranged for an agent to help us with entry formalities. We set off around 10.00 and went to hoist the mainsail but a rookie (Lorraine!) mistake meant the halyard went to the top of the mast while the mainsail stayed stubbornly in its bag. We had a choice to continue with just the jib or climb the mast in the choppy sea to retrieve the halyard. We opted for the former and had a lively 29nm (5hr 15m) passage to Didim. Initially we motor sailed, then with just a reefed jib, than all the jib and the final few miles on just the engine. A good days sailing.
On arrival in Didim we were told it was "forbidden" to leave the boat until the entry formalities had been completed. Our agent hadn't replied to our mail and wasn't there to meet us! The marinero helpfully called his office and someone eventually arrived to sort us out. This involved visas (electronic ones we got the previous night) stamps in our passports, a transit log for the boat and a "blue-card". The blue-card is an electronic record of the amount of sewage pumped out of Freya's holding tank. Turkey is ahead of most countries in the world in that they do not allow boats to discharge black or grey water at sea. So you need to use the holding tank and get a receipt each time its emptied. We will see how well this works in practice.
Our plan was to stay in Didim to see out the high winds which was no great hardship as its a five star marina, certainly one of the largest and most efficient we've seen since we left France, if not the UK. The service starts as soon as you arrive. As we came into moor a marinero in a dinghy takes the lazy line forward to the bow and secures it to the boat, no need for anybody onboard to touch that wet and slimy rope. Our mooring fees include temporary membership of the plush yacht club, with pool, and the beach club. A well stocked chandlers, supermarket and other shops are all on site. The showers are great and air-conditioned!!!