Endless summer on SCII

Cappadocia

24 September 2018
Cave house
Our accommodation for our stay in Cappadocia is in a traditional cave house in the back streets of the village of Ortahisar. The house is owned by Hayrettin and was originally his grandparents’ house, which he renovated retaining lots of old-world charm. The whole house has been carved out of the solid rock (tufa stone) into the hillside. At the front of the house is a small garden with fantastic views of Ortahisar Castle, which is claimed to be the largest fairy Chimney in Cappadocia. In the mornings we sit in the garden to have breakfast with the castle and the odd hot air balloon as our backdrop. We have included some photos in the gallery.

Ortahisar village is very rural and not as touristy as nearby Goreme. We have seen some aspects of traditional Turkish life, old women sitting on their door-steps talking while men congregate in the local café to drink tea. The access to our house is a very narrow laneway, barely one car wide. On one occasion we went to leave to do some exploring of nearby towns only to discover that we were blocked in by a huge pile of bags of coal, which we assume is for both cooking and heating as winter will soon be approaching. It seemed like the elderly ladies were responsible for moving the coal to their storage place. We later discovered that bags of coal were being deposited all around the town, mostly by a tractor and trailer.

We also saw a funeral procession through the main street of the town – probably some old lady succumbed to lifting heavy bags of coal! A group of men passed the green metal casket from hand to hand down the street. We were purchasing dried fruit from a street vendor, who quickly concluded the sale, so that he too could be part of the procession. It was interesting that no females were involved at all. At the end of the street was a van waiting to receive the casket, which interestingly already contained another casket. A busy day for undertakers in Ortahisar.

We have eaten in for a couple of nights however we had one meal out at a restaurant perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Ortahisar valley, from our table we could look down into the valley below – great views. The highlight of the evening was a very good Turkish band, consisting of keyboards, violin, baglama and vocals. The music was traditional (to our untrained ear) but very enjoyable.

Balloon Flight
We almost missed out on our planned balloon flight as we had not pre-booked and our time in Cappadocia lined up with Chinese holidays and a mass influx of Chinese tourists. Although there are around 150 balloons take off each morning they are heavily booked. We had an on again, off again wait but were lucky to eventually get a booking for Friday morning with a 5:00am pickup.

It was amazing to see all of the activity related to the flights in the early morning. Buses zooming everywhere, 4-wheel drives towing large trailers and many balloons being inflated or taking off as we arrived. After watching ours being set up, blown up with fans and then on with the burner for a short time it was all aboard (20 of us and the pilot) and away. We quickly climbed to about 5,000 feet which gave an amazing view of the area and all of the other balloons.

After a while we dropped down to below the height of some of the buildings and cliff faces and flew through the valleys and over the ridges – often almost able to reach out and touch the tops of the trees and cliff tops. The skill of the pilot was quite amazing to see. At no time did we feel that he was not totally in control. We flew for a little over an hour taking in the amazing landscape before finally landing. Bektas, our pilot, landed the basket on its trailer ready to be towed away once they had deflated and rolled up the envelope.

This flight was one of the most memorable experiences we have ever had! It is easy to see why it such a popular activity.


Cappadocia sights
Cappadocia has some amazing history and landscapes that are spread out over quite a large area.

We visited the Open-Air Museum in the nearby town of Goreme, which had some amazing cave dwellings dating back four thousand years and many churches that were dug out from solid rock around the 10th to 12th century. Many of the churches were decorated with beautiful frescoes that have survived all of this time.

We also visited one of the many underground cities at Kaymakli. We were glad we had a guide to show us through as it is a maze of tunnels and underground spaces where up to 5,000 people could have lived in safety for up to six months. It was wise to be there first thing in the morning as the thought of walking hunched over through the very small tunnels with hundreds of other tourists did not appeal at all. It did not help that some of the lighting was not reliable!

There are many walks one can do in the area through the gorges and old settlements although sometimes finding the tracks can be a challenge. There were many dead ends found however we did manage to find lot of interesting sites in the area.

Next stop – Istanbul for a couple of days.

Reflections

20 September 2018
The yachting part of our travels has come to an end. We have returned the yacht to our home marina at Gocek, done some maintenance and cleaning then she will be lifted out of the water until next year. We are extremely happy with Southern Comfort II, although we had a few issues to deal with along the way, all were easily solved in the end. She has been a very comfortable yacht to spend our time on.

Some may ask – what are thoughts and highlights on the experience we have had?

After 16 weeks of living together in close proximity, we are still talking to each other!

The water everywhere is clean, clear and at a perfect temperature for swimming.

The hottest days we had were about 38 degrees and the coldest nights (in September) were about 23. Mostly though, the days are consistently in the low 30’s. When you are living on a swimming pool, its perfect. We only had two days in the whole time where we had uncomfortable weather – one due to a local thunderstorm and one due to strong winds.

We did not do as much sailing as we would have liked (although Nerida is always happy to motor along on a perfectly calm sea). The wind was often too light or coming from exactly where we wanted to go to. We did 180 hours of engine running using 580 litres of fuel in total.

The people – both on other boats and the locals, were always friendly and helpful. There may be the odd Greek harbour master that is the exception……

Worst name for a boat seen – Wet Dreams. Seen on two different boats. What were the owners of these boats thinking?

We never tire of hearing the call to prayer when in Turkish towns – even if sometimes they do start at 4:00am.

There is an incredible number of boats on the water in all of this area including a lot of very very large new power boats. Although we always found a parking spot, it would not pay to arrive in some places late in the day as the harbours and some anchorages are full by late afternoon. In both Turkey and Greece there are many large Gulets (tour boats) that do tend to crowd out some places.


Turkish coast versus Greek islands.
The Greek islands offer a lot of diversity with each island having its own character and lots of options from large busy and lively harbour towns to small isolated anchorages. The weather was sunny every day although it can be quite windy at times. Eating out is a bit cheaper than in Turkey even though we are paying in Euro. Some of this is due to drinks being cheaper. However, Greek restaurants do seem to have the most uncomfortable chairs – wooden frame with a woven rush seat.

This area of the Turkish coastline is quite mountainous with a very indented shoreline with majestic scenery. There are many options of anchorages along the coast and in many places, there are small rustic restaurants setup in what would be an otherwise isolated bay. In Turkey everything comes to you on the water, from ice-creams, clothing, beach towels, massages to supermarket boats - the Turks are very entrepreneurial in their ideas for commercial opportunities in this part of the world.

Highlights

• Watching the blood moon from the secluded bay of Agathonisi – magical!
• Sharing the experience with Caroline and Darren.
• Seeing dolphins up close on a couple of occasions, they are quite rare in this part of the world.
• Waking up somewhere different almost every morning, often to the sounds of goat bells, or roosters. The background scenery is often rugged but stunningly beautiful.
• Going for a long swim first thing in the morning in waters often teaming with small fish.

Will we go back next year – absolutely!

Our next travel adventure is off to Cappadocia in eastern Turkey and then back to Istanbul for a few days. We will keep posting our travels on this blog until we return home in early October.

Ekincik to Fethiye Bay (3-10 September)

13 September 2018
Ekincik (3 September)
Ekincik is a small holiday village that just seems not quite completed. There is a hotel and restaurant adjacent a long beach of black sand but it is surrounded but a half built larger complex that has been unfinished for some years. Our hope of a bit of restocking was disappointing as the shelves in the only mini market were almost bare. We did eat out at the hotel, no menu just a selection of a few things from the display cabinet. It was quite a good meal.

Kucuk Kuyruk (4-5 September)
Today was a four hour trip along the coast to the bottom end of Fethiye bay, we sailed most of the way in good conditions until the wind died away – again….

As in all of these waters, there are lots of very small fish. Here we were watching larger fish called Amberjack chasing the small ones. At up to 50cm long and quite colourful these very fast swimming fish were fascinating to watch as they rounded up schools of small fish around the yacht. They had no interest in taking a lure of any type we had so we did not manage to catch one. We do know they are good eating as they are occasionally on local menus.


Kapi Creek (6 September)
Today the weather forecast says it is going to be windy, with gusts of 30 knots in the afternoon, so we decided to tie up to the jetty in the small bay of Kapi Creek, which will provide good shelter. It also provides us with the opportunity to reprovision from one of the supermarket boats. Supermarket boats provide all sorts of supplies, including gas cylinders. We were pleased that we were able to exchange one of our gas cylinders for the stove, as we were down to our last one.

Karacaoren (7 September)
We had a good sail across Fethiye bay to a Karacaoen bay. The wind started off very light but as forecasted picked up to 15-20 knots. We actually had to reef our sails in a bit to reduce the sail area, Nerida does not like the yacht leaning over too far!

The bay is very pretty and almost totally enclosed. At the head of the bay is a very rustic restaurant (see photo above), which has laid mooring buoys. The deal is that you can pick up a mooring buoy if you eat at the restaurant. So just before dark we took the dingy ashore and tied up to the very rustic jetty. We had a wonderful meal, which included mezze with fresh bread, salad and the ever-present chips. Our mains were lamb casserole and amber jack (which is similar in taste to sword fish). It seems that the local fishermen are more successful than us at catching the elusive amber jack.

Gemiler (8– 9 September)
We found a good spot to spend a couple of days in a sheltered corner surrounded by an enclosed bay with large mountains as a backdrop. Its an interesting place – a constant stream of paragliders coming off the mountain top, sometimes more than 30 in the air. Day trip boats coming and going during the afternoons, some with loud music blaring (at least they only stay a short time). Fishermen setting and retrieving nets and traps twice a day. As always, a good place for swimming. Fishing is still unrewarding although we did catch a squid. The squid was only enough for an entrée, we will need to catch another to make it a main course!

In the evening all the day trip boats depart and we have the peaceful bay all to ourselves – so we thought. The first evening was very quiet with us and one other yacht but on the second night our peace was shattered by a large pirate boat playing very loud music. The pirate boat (called Black Pearl – Pirates of the Caribbean have a lot to answer for!) arrived just before 8pm and stayed until about 10pm. Their strobe lights lit up the whole bay, which put an end to our squid fishing, not to mention spoiling the peace. We cheered as they pulled up anchor but I think they thought we were thanking them for the entertainment as they responded over their PA system ‘Have a good night’. As they headed off into the darkness, peace and quiet was restored.

Kizilkuyruk Koyu (10-11 September)
With less than a week left on SCII, we have headed back towards Gocek and are spending a couple of days just swimming and relaxing. Kizilkuyruk Koyu is a narrow bay which fits about 10 yachts or gulets along the southern side. Boats drop their anchor and take a line ashore, tying up to rocks, to prevent them swinging. Off the back of SCII, it is like we have our own personal aquarium, as the water is teaming with small fish and the occasional amber jack chasing them.

Back to Turkey (28 August – 3 September)

03 September 2018
We checked out of Rhodes and left for Bozburun, Turkey. Again, the breeze is right on the nose so more motoring. This is a very busy waterway, with cargo ships., ferries, cruise ships and the odd yacht. As we crossed the dotted red line on the chart that indicated the border, we lowered our Greek flag and raised the Turkish flag. About the same time, we saw a large pod of dolphins, about 20 in all – not sure if they were Greek or Turkish but it was an amazing sight!

Bozburun and surrounding bays (28-30 August)
As we entered the Bozburun harbour we were welcomed by the call to prayer, which clearly indicated that we are back in Turkey. We contacted a local agent who dealt with all of the arrival formalities with no probhttps://www.sailblogs.com/admin/blog_manager/post_edit.phplems at all. We did have to park in the small harbour twice, once in the “customs” area and again about 20 metres further on in the “non customs” area. Every time one anchors in these small harbours there is a risk of getting an anchor chain tangled with either a boat next to you or one on the opposite side of the harbour. So far this year we have managed to avoid the tangled anchor issue which we are quite happy about.

The next two days we anchored in the enclosed bay just outside Bozburun. This is a very popular area with good reason, very sheltered, crystal clear water and plenty of places to anchor with a line ashore to keep you secure.

As we sit on the back of the yacht eating breakfast (fresh peaches, Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey), an old man rowed his small boat alongside. He is selling fresh bread, eggs, almonds (they grow a lot of almonds in this area) and vegetables. We purchased fantastic village bread (Turkish bread) off him, which we toasted and had with Greek thyme honey. A fantastic combination!

Bozuk Buku (31 August)
We have been to the large bay of Bozuk Buku a few times but this time we ventured further into the bay and moored off a restaurant called Sailors House. We had ben told that the restaurant was good and we were not disappointed. There was no menu and when we asked for wine, Glenn was escorted to a chest refrigerator and was offered a choice of a couple of bottles. We surmised that there is not a big market for wine here. We had a beautiful meal of mixed meze comprising six different dishes (cheese borek, carrot and yoghurt dip, potato salad, pickled cabbage, eggplant and tomato salad and a spicy pepper dip – see image in the gallery) served with home-made bread. This was then followed with a whole fish, butterflied and grilled on the bbq. This was too much food for two people, it could probably have fed four but it was delicious and probably the best fish we have had so far. When we thought the meal was finished and that we could not eat any more they brought out two pieces of halva for desert.

Serce Limani (1 September)
Serce Limani is a fjord-like bay with a very narrow entrance, making the bay almost totally enclosed. While anchored, we were approached by a man and young boy in a small boat – as always trying to sell stuff. In this case it was clothes, towels, table cloths, nuts and honey. It soon became apparent that the man was deaf. With lots of sign language and with the help of Google translate, we worked out that he would bring fresh bread the following morning which was duly delivered. A very large, locally made in a wood oven “village” bread that was quite good in a rustic kind of way. (see image in the Gallery)

This bay was absolutely alive with small fish, there were always large schools hanging around the yacht. There was occasionally something larger would come through and send them scurrying away. Whatever the larger fish were, despite offering several types of lure, they are still in the water……..

Ekincik Limani (2-3 September)
We had a four-hour sail from Serce Limani to Ekincik Limani. We had the wind behind us, which was good but at times it was so light we had to run the motor.

Ekincik Limani is a large and very pretty bay, with red cliffs and steep wooded slopes. We have anchored out in the bay with lines ashore but tonight might venture into the small town harbour for a meal ashore and maybe some reprovisioning.

Symi and Rhodes (25-27 August)

27 August 2018
We have a large gennaker sail (an asymmetric spinnaker) that came with the yacht, up to now we had not used it. On a trip from Nisyros to Symi with a light following wind we decided to dig it out and have play with it. After a bit of messing around with “strings” (as Caroline would say) we successfully deployed it. It looked great having this great big colourful sail up there - see photo on the gallery. Unfortunately, the wind dropped to almost nothing after a while so we had to stow it away for another day. More motoring…..

Symi (25 August)
Symi is one of our favourite harbours. It is always very busy but is picturesque with its multi coloured houses and is full of atmosphere.

We had a lovely seafood meal at Taverna To Spitiko (which translates to ‘its homemade’). The taverna was located right off the back of the boat (see photo in the gallery). We enjoyed taramasalata, octopus with lemon sauce (which was very tender and delicious), muscles with ouzo and garlic, seafood pasta and baklava.

Our Saturday night in Symi town coincided with the Symi festival and there was free music on. A singer and guitar player performed for a couple of hours non-stop playing traditional Greek music. The guitar player in particular was excellent and is was most enjoyable to sit there and listen to the music on a beautiful evening.

Sunday morning there was a flag raising ceremony carried out by the army. All very formal with lots of boot stomping and exaggerated arm movements when marching, as well as singing the Greek national anthem (see bottom right in the image above).

Rhodes (26-27 August)
Rhodes is a magical place full of history. We are moored in the old town harbour, surrounded by ancient walls, fortifications and wind mills. It is just over 12 months ago we picked up our yacht here from the previous owners. We had sat by the ancient windmills now just behind us and watched as “our yacht” had sailed in. It was good to come back here and not feel we had to see all of the sights, just enjoy the unique environment.

It is here in Rhodes that we say goodbye to Caroline and Darren. We have really enjoyed having them with us for the two weeks and hopefully they have enjoyed our version of Greek island travel. Tomorrow we check out of Greece and head back to Turkey for our last three weeks of sailing.

Kalymnos to Nisyros (16 -23 August)

23 August 2018
Kalymnos (16-17 August)
Darren is a keen fisherman and we have now done many sea miles with a lure behind us. To date all we have to show for it is a nice size Bonito at about 50cm long (see gallery photo), which was caught in the narrow strait between Leros and Kalymnos. As these are not good eating this one was returned to the water. There is a lot of water between the fish here, we will keep on trying!


Kos (20-21 August)
Kos is a large island, so we decided to hire a car for the day and explore. We did not at first realise that our Suzuki car has a fuel gauge that read “backwards” so had some anxious driving for a while to reach a petrol station for a top up. The normal thing to do in this part of the world is to return a hire car with the tank as empty as you dare….

Our first stop was the hill village of Zia which is a lovely town set way up in the mountains with a beautiful view of the coast and surrounding islands. We travelled the full length of the island, visiting the water springs at Pyli, the seaside village of Karamena and Kos’ famous beaches, although these tend to have pebbles rather than sand. We think the tourists who pay €5-7 to lie on deck chairs here would be amazed with the sandy beaches we have in Australia. Despite the pebbles we enjoyed a refreshing swim at the beach of Agios Stefanos, which has ancient ruins and a tiny church on the island of Kastri, which can only be accessed by swimming or boat.

Our last stop of the day was the Castle of Antimachia, which was built in the 14th century by the Knights of St John. The Knights coat of arms is still seen above the entrance to the castle. On entering we were greeted by a very jovial man who had set himself up as the gatekeeper. We were offered ouzo with fruit juice – not that we really wanted it! On leaving we felt obliged to leave a donation even though we were sure this guy was not there in any official capacity to do with the operation of the old site. There is not much left inside the site apart from two churches which date back to the 16th and 18th centuries. One of the churches was open and you can still see frescos on the wall. We stood on the castle walls and took in the amazing views across the strait that separates Kos from Turkey, which is obviously why the castle was built in this location.

Nisyros (22-23 August)
Nisyros has a pretty harbour, where we spent two nights (see photo above). Nisyros island has the youngest active volcano in Greece. Around 45,000 years ago two huge eruptions left a 4km wide caldera in the middle of the island. We had an enjoyable day in a hire car exploring the island, its hill villages and old castles.
Vessel Name: Southern Comfort II
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 47, 2009
Hailing Port: Melbourne, Australia
Crew: Glenn and Nerida Matthews
About: Having almost completed the charter yacht catalogue over the last 25 years, we are fulfilling our long term dream of living the endless summer. In April 2017 we purchased our yacht and plan to spend several months every year in the Med.
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