19 November 2018
2018 by the numbers
17 November 2018
Seventh year of cruising completed. This year's numbers are:
Nautical miles travelled: 957 (Total of 7,563 since leaving home)
Number of ports of call: 51
Total time at sea: 6 days 21 hours
Longest single passage: 48 NM (8 hours)
Average passage length: 18.8 NM
07 November 2018 | Severn Beach - 7,563 NM
Damp, grey and cold
Freya's lift went smoothly and she was in her cradle by 09.30 giving us a full day to start ticking off all the jobs that put her to bed for the winter. We had a busy day and all went to plan until we removed the engine impeller and found a blade missing which means we have a lump of rubber somewhere inside the engine - ummm! We met up with Graham, the Australian on another Westerly we'd met in Lipsoi for dinner in the local taverna before climbing the ladder to bed (I hate staying on Freya on the hard!). There were a few more jobs left for the next day but we squeezed in a walk around the bay before Graham picked us up and gave us a lift to Lakki to catch the overnight ferry to Athens.
We'd booked a cabin on the ferry rather than rough it in the normal seats and were totally blown away by it. We had no idea what to expect with the cabin but it was quite luxurious with an ensuite including toiletries and slippers plus water etc. Very comfy! We arrived in Athens at 8.00 in the morning and went in search of the bus to the airport which involved negotiating the crowds waiting for other busses, walking across a big car park, climbing a barrier to a dingy spot under a bridge in the corner! The journey took about 1.5 hours and wasn't very comfortable but it was both very interesting and scenic as it went along Athen's coast. From there we flew to Istanbul.
Istanbul airport is very close to the city and so we took a taxi to our hotel driven by an amazing driver with clear ambitions in F1. Our hotel wasn't what we expected - very basic and no view as per booking.com. We debated for a while before talking to the very friendly guy on reception. He said there was nothing he could do that night but we could leave or stay and talk to his brother in the morning, which is what we did - initially we got the same response but eventually after ringing his booking.com agent and debating why our confirmation had a view when the hotel clearly didn't have one he moved us to another room which was a bit more comfortable and had a view of the Bosphorus - if we peered between the buildings.
We may not have been happy with our hotel but a walk on our first evening showed it was in a perfect location right between the Blue mosque and Agios Sophia. It was a lovely evening buying chestnuts from one of the many street vendors before dinner. In the morning we set off to explore. First stop was Agios Sophia where we had to queue for ages to get in! Once in it was impressive particularly as it dates back to the 6th century but there were so many tourists it was hard to appreciate it.
We then walked up the busy main road until we found ourselves by the Grand Bazaar which wasn't what we expected. It's more like an ancient mall with rows of shops than a market and although there were lots of shops selling tourist tack there was also sectors for jewellery and antiques plus courtyards with cafes where we had a delicious pide for lunch. When we couldn't take in anymore window shopping we emerged from the bazaar in a completely different place and had no idea where we were. Wandering on a bit further we found ourselves on the Golden Horn, Istanbul's other river where we had a little wander around the spice bazaar. Along the river were lots of stalls and restaurants selling fish sandwiches which we thought we'd love, but the smell of fish was so over powering we couldn't face eating them! We finished the day by walking along the river to the Bosphorus and back to our hotel exhausted!
The next day we thought a bit less walking was in order and made use of Istanbul's excellent tram system. First stop was the centre of modern Istanbul on the other side of the Golden Horn which involved a scenic tram ride followed by a funicular railway up to Taksim square. Once there we discovered a Sunday craft market and a Starbucks. We then walked down the main shopping street passing the old traditional tram on route to the Galata Tower where the queue was so long we decided not to go up. We then headed back to our hotel on another tram where we met our 'group' for a boat trip. We felt like cattle being herded down to the quay and then pushed onto a boat through a narrow gate in the railings! We were not happy at this point but the trip was fine taking in the city and bridges from the water as we cruised along the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. We couldn't miss the views and spent the whole trip, around 1.5 hours on deck in the cold wind. When we got back to land, the priority was to find a warm restaurant.
Day 3 started with the Topkapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman sultans for hundreds of years. It is in a wonderful spot on the confluence of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The courtyards, gardens and architecture were amazing and really interesting - especially as there was no queue! We followed this with a visit to the Blue Mosque, again no queues but once we got in we realised why. The dome was being renovated and was completely covered! A bit disappointing. On the way in from the airport we passed impressive city walls which we thought needed investigating and so we took a tram that was heading that way and the walls were as impressive as they looked - huge, deep and imposing. From there we got another tram which appeared to be going in the right direction but it was a bit of a mystery. We got off and walked down hill through a residential area finishing by the Golden Horn in a very local area but with a really nice feel full of people, cafes and shops. Then we found a cable car going up a hill which was a big cemetery called Pierre Lote. From the top there were fab views over the city and we discovered chip kebabs which were spiralized potato's on a stick, fried and sprinkled with chilli and salt - delicious. From there we took the cable car back down and took the ferry and tram back.
We had a morning before our flight home and went to the Cistern Basillica as featured in James Bond and Dan Brown's Inferno. It was huge and very atmospheric built with odd pillars from random ruins including huge Medusa heads at the base of 2. Again it was a bit disappointing as it was being renovated which will be a lasting memory of Istanbul - along with people walking around with bandaged heads following hair transplants or nose jobs! We finished with a walk through the palace gardens admiring the interesting sculptures before heading for the airport and the end of another cruising year.
Don’t Upset Manolis!
01 November 2018 | Leros, Greece - 7,563 NM
Sunny and Warm
Our last night in Turkey was absolutely freezing in the northerly winds! The heater came out and every quilt and blanket was on the bed! Had we made a mistake sailing for a bit longer? The morning wasn't quite so cold and warmed up a little as the sun did it's bit and we got ready to go. We had to check out of Turkey and so took our papers to our agent before heading for the fuel pontoon where he turned up with stamped passports and transit log not long after our tanks were filled. We now had to leave Turkish waters immediately and our plan was the little Greek island of Agathonisi just 12 miles away. The sails went up as soon as we were outside the marina but the wind had other ideas on our destination as it was perfect for Lipsoi and so we changed course and had a great close hauled sail all the way. It was a bit chilly but we wrapped up warm (fleeces and woolly hats!) and the sun was shining so all was good. On route we kept hearing the Greek naval base on Leros calling a Turkish naval ship in Greek waters and telling them to leave immediately but heard no response. The message was repeated every 10 minutes or so until we could see the very large Turkish ship in the distance going very slowly. This continued for several hours with no response - what would happen next? Well, nothing, the Turkish ship stayed in a Greek waters going very slowly and the Greek navy kept telling him to leave. What was the point!? We reached our anchorage on the south of Leros as the sun was going down and had a peaceful night - not too cold but all the blankets and quilts on the bed.
A change of plan again! We were going to go to the tiny island of Maratho but the winds, although light, had changed to south easterly and there would be no shelter there. Looking at the charts Lipsoi Port was the best option a whole 2.5 miles away! We moored alongside and had a very warm welcome from Manolis who remembered us from our summer visit. First on our itinerary was coffee at the lovely bakery and, of course, getting their WiFi password. We then made a picnic lunch and headed off on a lovely walk which was relatively short but very hilly with fantastic views all the way. We enjoyed our lunch sitting on a quay by a deserted beach in the sunshine. On returning to Freya another Westerly had arrived - Freya's big brother, an Ocean Master (48'). It had just been bought by an Australian from a South African and both were onboard. We enjoyed a drink on board later and an interesting tour of the boat.
Summer seems to have returned and we're loving Lipsoi. We thought it might be dead with everything closed for the winter but there's just enough open and enough people around to give it a great feel. We decided to stay another day. It was Ochi Day (no day) in Greece which celebrates the day Greece said no to Mussilini's 'request' to station troops in Greece at the start of WW2. Its celebrated all over Greece with big processions and the little island of Lipsoi did its bit starting with a very loud service in the church overlooking the harbour broadcast to the whole town. The locals then crowded into the square on the quay, festooned with flags, giving us a ring side seat on Freya as the children in their school uniforms paraded carrying their Greek flags. Next followed lots of prayers, speeches and fidgety children! After the excitement we went off on another beautiful walk and finished the day with dinner at Manolis' lovely restaurant (not the harbour master).
The quay in Lipsoi had been very quiet during our stay with just a few boats moored alongside but on our last day there was a sudden influx of sailors. The quay filled quickly and boats had to go stern to to make more room. By this stage we were hemmed in forward and aft and so couldn't move to make more room even if we'd wanted to but a very large Greek charter boat arriving that day was alongside and taking up space for 5 boats stern to. Manolis asked him to move but he refused. He then started to help boats to moor effectively doing Manolis' job. Meanwhile incoming boats were queuing. It was getting very heated and a very frustrated Manolis drove off at great speed to fetch the port police who duly came looking very officious and gave the skipper the third degree going through his paperwork in detail and boarding the yacht. Eventually he moved but it all got very interesting and the moral is - don't upset Manolis!
The day came for us to head over to Leros to pick up a buoy outside the boat yard ready for our lift in the morning. We had a leisurely start including coffee in the bakery. Luckily the yachts moored stern to next to us had left and so we could leave and motor the 8 miles to the buoy where we had a peaceful afternoon and evening. A Finnish boat came and picked up a buoy next to us. The boatyard method is for all boats to be ready at 8.00 - who would be first? Luckily it was us and Freya was lifted and in her cradle by 9.30. We have 2 days to put Freya to bed......
26 October 2018 | Didim - 7,526
Sunny, Windy and Cold!
We got back to Didim marina about lunch time and were greeted with the same efficiency as before. Kevin and Dee messaged to say they planned a bbq for the afternoon and were on their way to collect us and so we popped into the cafe by the pontoon for a snack as we waited for them. Best laid plans etc, we ordered a Spanish tapas, just 1, but just after our hosts arrived it was delivered and huge! The bbq was postponed until tomorrow.
We had a great week in Akbuk with Kevin and Dee in their lovely home just a 5 minute stroll from the sea. We explored Akbuk in all directions sampling bars and eateries, all good, exploring shops and the lovely Friday market with fab Gozleme for lunch and really enjoyed it. Akbuk is a lovely seaside town, not over developed and very Turkish, in October anyway. We really enjoyed being tourists, relaxing by the pool and playing games in the evening as well as seeing wild boar munching through our leftovers right outside the house in the evenings. Warning of their arrival was announced by the barking dogs who roamed the street at night - not so good!
Our first excursion was to Lake Golu where we started with a Turkish breakfast in a lovely cafe above the lake looking over the ruins of a monastery on a small island just off the beach. It was idyllic. We then stopped at another ruined monastery by the lake littered with sarcophagi carved into the rocks, such a beautiful spot. The final stop was another ruined monastery up in the mountains which Kevin and Dee hadn't visited before. We had to drive up a very steep windy road to a village where we left the car and headed just 4km up a path. The scenery was spectacular with amazing rock shapes and boulders everywhere and olive trees between them and, of course stunning views of the lake and mountains. The walk was a very hard 4km and needless to say we were totally unprepared as we negotiated the rocky, uneven path without even a bottle of water between us. We arrived exhausted, very hot and very thirsty but wow what a position and atmosphere. It was built in the 12th century and had amazing frescos under a mushroom rock and ruined buildings hanging between the boulders. It was definitely worth the effort. We headed home to enjoy the delayed bbq and a dip in the pool.
We also went to visit the ruins of Priane which dates back over 2,500 years and includes Greek and Roman buildings. It was on a hill above the sea at that time but now offers views over flat farm land as the sea silted up and is now miles away. The ruins were really interesting and spread out over a huge area some of it is just piles of stones but other parts such as the theatre amazingly intact. We had a great couple of hours exploring before heading to the other extreme by visiting a modern shopping mall. The contrast was stark as we enjoyed a Starbucks coffee and could have been anywhere in the world. Another side of Turkey and not to be missed though.
Every year the Turkish gullets take part in the Bodrum Cup and we thought the sight of lots of these beautiful huge wooden yachts under sail would be amazing. This year they were starting in Yalikavak, about 1.5 hours from Akbuk across a beautiful mountain road. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no wind that day and rain forecast making it very hazy! We headed first for the very posh and expensive marina where we could see the boats with sails unfurled, vaguely, desperately trying to round the headland in the calm. They weren't that far away but in the haze they were just merging into the grey - very disappointing but we consoled ourselves in Starbucks before exploring the lovely town. It's a really pretty fishing village with lots of shops and bars along the quay. In the summer it's apparently heaving but now it was very relaxed and pleasant. We stopped in the council bar for chips before driving towards home around the coast through pretty villages and passing great sea views (in the haze) plus seeing the racing gullets again from a different vantage point. Another lovely day.
We had only intended to stay with Kevin and Dee for a few days but the weather got very unsettled which meant we were stuck in the marina and so we ended up staying 9 days! I hope we didn't outstay our welcome! Our last day it rained - lots of relaxing and games but then the weather was clearing and it was time to go. The temperature dropped dramatically in strong northerly winds as we headed back to Freya. We had a lovely lunch in the restaurant by the marina before saying goodbye and then we were back on Freya on our own - and freezing! What's going on, we had to put the heating on! It's supposed to be fine tomorrow.........
Not exactly a fish but we caught something!
18 October 2018 | Yalikavac - 7,526 NM
Sunny & Still
We started our day with a full English breakfast in Gumbet, when in tourist land and all that, and very good it was too. Then got the Dolmus in to Bodrum which wasn't really what we expected. It didn't feel like a tacky tourist town at all but had a very pleasant old town full of shops, some selling tourist tack and fake everything but also nice shops and cafes and it's huge and so lots of wandering. Our first stop was supposed to be the medieval castle housing the underwater archeological museum but unfortunately, when we found it, it was covered in scaffolding and cranes and very closed! We walked all around the bay and back around the marina which was huge and the boats crammed in like sardines, and over the hill to Gumbet stopping at the windmills on the top to enjoy panoramic views of both bays. After an ice cream and supermarket stop we went home exhausted.
Our anchorage was a bit noisier the 2nd night and we didn't get a lot of sleep but we headed off 'touristing' in the morning nevertheless - only to discover we weren't as good at it as we thought! We took the Dolmus back into Bodrum aiming to see the remains of the ancient city of Halicarnassus. At the bus station we were directed to another Dolmus and the driver seemed to understand where we wanted to go. We had a lovely drive right around the bay and out the other side of Bodrum, passed the boat yards and to a big hotel where everyone else got off. We sat there assuming the Dolmus was doing a circuit and would continue round to the ancient amphitheatre but when the driver looked at us, clearly wondering why we were still on his bus we realised he wasn't going anywhere! We explained again where we wanted to go, he apologised and spoke to another Dolmus driver and we were ushered on to his bus. We drove back towards town and were dropped off in the middle of town, clearly nowhere near the ruins! It was a lovely drive and only cost about 80p each and so not totally wasted but we were still not where we needed to be. We gave up and found a taxi! The driver was determined to keep us for the day and give us a tour but did take us to the amphitheater still some distance away. He kept asking whether we wanted to stay or come back and when we got there we understood why as there is no city just the amphitheatre all fenced off and closed by the side of the main road. Impressive but not a lot to do. Our driver took us back into town to the mausoleum which we knew was closed as it was Monday but we thought we'd probably be able to see something from outside but no, there were big walls all around it. We had completely failed as tourists, even after all our years of practice and so we walked back towards the marina for coffee! After a bit of shopping and lunch we took the Dolmus home.
The plan was to move a couple of miles away to an anchorage called the Aquarium between the mainland and a small island - sounds lovely and no loud music. The anchor was reluctant to come up and the windlass was clearly struggling - we were obviously snagged on something. The windlass persevered with lots of engine revs until we could finally see the problem. We were picking up a huge anchor the same as the ones the huge gullets carry and 20 times bigger than ours, on a big fat chain! The anchor (and it's chain) was far to heavy to simply push off, so the technique is to take the weight of the offending anchor on a line secured to the boat and then drop our own anchor while the other one stays up. Once ours is free, you then simply pull it clear and up onto the boat. All that remains is to release the line holding up the big offending anchor and of you go. Crossed anchors in small harbours are a fact of life in the med, although this is the first time it's happened to us, and we certainly weren't expecting it out in a large bay. It took a couple of attempts of wrapping ropes around it and dropping it all back it to the water before our anchor came free, but we soon freed ourselves and were on our way to our new anchorage for a nice peaceful night.
I went for an early morning swim to see the Aquarium but it was a little disappointing. The sea was very blue and there were a lot of fishes but not very different from a lot of other places. A lovely swim though even if I did get told off by the coastguard in a big orange rib for swimming where there may be fast boats - I think that's what he said anyway but he was the only one that seemed intent on running me over! When I got back we pulled up the anchor and headed for Yalikavak 19 miles away. We started with a lovely sail but then had to turn north and had the wind on the nose plus a really rough sea - we haven't rolled around like that for ages but our anchorage was well sheltered and peaceful. Next stop is back to Didim Marina where we'll leave Freya for a few days while we visit Dee and Kevin.
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