Endless summer on SCII

Our sailing adventure ends for 2023!

16 September 2023
Nerida Matthews
This will be our last blog post for 2023. We have packed up SCII and she has been lifted out of the water, awaiting our return in 2024.

This year we traveled over 1200 nautical miles, which is approximately 2200km. In Greece we have visited 24 islands, including six that we have not visited before- Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos, Poliagros, Folegrandos and Naxos. There are still quite a few islands that we are yet to explore, but we have to leave some new destinations for next year. In Turkiye we sailed the coast from Bozburun to Kevova, visiting some of our favourite places.

Other than replacing our anchor winch at Samos we had no problems, SCII performed very well.

We also enjoyed the company of Roger and Karen, Ian, Paul and Carrie on SCII. It was also great to catch up with Nerida's cousin Heather and husband Stuart as well as Warren and Carina on their new catamaran.

We have parked SCII at the marina in Gocek but this will be the last time she will winter there, as marina fees in Turkiye have become very expensive. So in 2024 we will finish up at a boatyard on the Greek island of Aegina (near Athens), which is charging about a quarter of the cost we pay in Turkiye. It will be sad to leave Gocek and the wonderful work of our 'fix it' man Ahmet. We are looking forward to returning in 2024!

Gocek to Kekova

10 September 2023
Nerida Matthews
We dropped Ian off at Gocek and collected Paul and Carrie who are spending two weeks with us. Our plan is to sail to Kekova, with stops at Karacaoren, Kalkan and Kas, however the wind has been almost non-existent. Consequently, there has been lot of motoring. The weather is still warm, about 30 degrees, with overnight lows ranging from 21-25 degrees.

At Kekova, we had our first rain since early May, although it was just a few light showers on one afternoon and the temperature was still about 30 degrees. The humidity has increased in the last few weeks, with clouds building up over the Turkish mountains along the coast. So, we might be in for some more rain or thunderstorms.

We had some lovely restaurant meals at Kalkan and Kas, but at Kekova we generally ate on board, giving the BBQ a workout.

Kekova roads is a very protected waterway, where Kekova island provides shelter from the swell and the prevailing wind. There are many lovely anchorages, as well as historic Lycian sites in the area. At Kekova we anchored at Woodhouse bay and the wonderfully enclosed Port Sant Stefano (see the drone footage in the video). Both bays are busy during the day with tourist boats but in the evening we only have to share the bays with a few other yachts.

We had a lunch stop at a restaurant at Kalekoy where we tied up to the restaurant’s jetty. From the jetty we walked up the hill to an ancient castle where we enjoyed the wonderful views of the whole Kekova area from the top. The walk was very very hot, so on returning to the restaurant we enjoyed a refreshing cold beer and lunch of fresh sea bass with a salad.

We are currently heading back to the Gocek area, where we only have a few more days on SCII, before she is lifted out for the season.

Fethiye Bay

30 August 2023
Nerida Matthews
Sorry we have been a bit slack with our blog, we have been socialising as well as having some days without internet connection. We have spent most of our time in the Fethiye bay.

In Sasarla bay we caught up with our friends Warren and Carina and their family on their brand-new catamaran, Time to Chill. It was great to share stories about places visited as well as enjoying drinks on the sun deck, some lovely meals and a game or two of cards. On their recommendation we stayed at the Classic Yacht Marina in Fethiye. This marina is associated with a hotel and by staying at the marina you get to use the hotel facilities, including a magnificent pool. Also, if we ate at the hotel restaurant the charge for the marina was half price. We only intended to stay one night, but enjoyed it so much we opted to spoil ourselves for another night.

We spent five nights at Sasarla before heading into Gocek to collect our friend Ian, who was sailing with us for a week. We had a good sail to Karacaoren and back. Karacaoren is a very pretty bay, where you pick up a mooring buoy belonging to a restaurant. The restaurant collected us from SCII and took us ashore. We enjoyed a good meal in a very rustic setting. We have also spent a couple of nights anchored out, just enjoying the water and cooking on board.

Today we are back in Gocek to drop off Ian and to collect other friends Paul and Carrie. We intend to spent our last two weeks on SCII travelling to Kekova and back which is about 50 miles down the coast.

The weather is still in the low to mid 30's. Water temperature is 28 degrees.

We are back in Turkiye!

13 August 2023
Nerida Matthews
We checked out of Greece at Symi and checked into Turkiye at Bozburun. This was straight forward as we used an agent to ensure all the paper work was completed correctly. So, we lowered the Greek flag and raised the Turkish flag as we crossed the red dotted line on the chart plotter that marks the border. We only spent one night at Bozburun as it was quiet hot at about 36 degrees. It tends to be much hotter in harbours as you do not get the same breeze as you do at anchor. On leaving Bozburun we anchored out in the nearby bay of Sogut for a couple of days.

We have entered a pattern of very calm and stable weather, with no wind overnight or in the mornings and a gentle breeze in the afternoon. Although every time we go to sail somewhere, the wind seems to drop off as soon as we raise the sails. The weather seems to have cooled a bit in the last week, with daytime temperatures in the low 30's and overnight lows have dropped to the mid 20's, which makes sleeping much easier.

The value of the Turkish lira has decreased further in the three months we have been in Greece, with $1A equalling 17TL. It is hard to get you head around the rate that 100TL notes vanish out of the wallet. The video shows the delivery of ice-creams to the boat which cost 100TL each, that is about $6A each. Turkiye also has a very high inflation rate at 47.8% (July 2023), which is noticeable in the prices for eating out, which seem to have gone up considerably since earlier in the year. We like a glass of wine with our meals but at over 1000TL a bottle it is just too expensive at restaurants here. We miss our Greek house wine! Nerida is developing a taste for beer.... Most of our meals are cooked on board, as fresh food is still fairly cheap. We tend to eat out about twice a week. We have had some lovely meals, with delicious fresh meze.

The video shows some of the places we have visited in the last week.

Last days in Greece - dolphins, turtles, goats and a Eurovision star

05 August 2023 | Symi
Nerida Matthews
This blog post records our last week in Greece, as our 90 day limit for the EU and Schengen zone has almost finished. It is a pity that as Australians we cannot spend more than 90 days in the EU. As we have spent almost 90 days in Greece, this precludes us from visiting any other EU countries. So, from Greece it will be back to Turkiye.

Our last week in Greece started in Kos marina. We booked ourselves into the marina as the wind was predicted to blow above 30 knots. This gave us the opportunity to get washing done, clean the boat and reprovision. Marinas are often noisy places, especially when it is windy with the sound of clanging ropes and the wind whistling through the rigging.

After two days the wind had settled, so we left the marina, topped up with diesel and headed off to the island of Nisiros. The wind looked favourable for sailing as we left but turned out to be fairly light and variable. We ended up motoring, sailing a bit then motoring again. It was quite a relaxed and leisurely trip with a dolphin who joined us for a while on the way. After arriving at the Nisiros harbour about midday we found the harbour was full of yachts from a rally that was running in the area. It looked a bit like they may leave soon so we anchored just outside the harbour to wait for a while. After having lunch there was still no sign of movement so we decided as there was no other safe overnight stop on this island we would head off to Tilos, about 2 hours travel away. For this trip we did have a good breeze of 12 to 15 knots and the seas were quite flat so it was a good sail all the way. We were averaging 8 and at times over 8.5 knots which is a good speed for a cruising yacht.

The small harbour at Tilos was also full and there were a lot of yachts anchored in the bay. We suspect this was due to yachts escaping the fires on Rhodes as well as people like us who could not get into Nisiros. The was still plenty of room to anchor in the bay and after our second attempt at getting the anchor through the thick weed there it was time for a swim and a beer! We did watch a couple on a charter boat nearby make at least 8 attempts at anchoring before they managed to get it to work. One suspects they may have been getting a little stressed out? It was very tempting to go and give them some basic anchoring technique lessons!

Our dinner was chops on the charcoal bbq and a salad. While cooking, there was a dolphin cruising back and forward about 50 meters away, not something you see very often! Had our last swim at 10:00pm, the air temperature was still 32 degrees, water temperature 25 degrees. A bit more travel than planned and we didn't get to go to Georges restaurant at Nisiros but not a bad day.....

From Tilos we headed to the sheltered bay of Panormitis, at the bottom end of Symi, as again the wind was predicted to blow above 30 knots. Panormitis is almost a totally enclosed bay with only a narrow entrance, so it provides excellent protection from the meltimi wind. Panormitis is also home to a monastery and a few tavernas, although we did not eat ashore. The monastery has a spectacular bell tower which chimes the time every half hour. It also chimes to welcome the tour boats and ferries from Rhodes that unload hundreds of visitors to the monastery, thankfully who only stay an hour before heading to their next destination. Once the tour boats go the monastery and bay becomes quiet, with only a few yachts. There are 5 or 6 resident turtles in the bay which regularly surface around SCII, truly delightful.

As is typical in the Aegean, the weather often goes from strong winds to no wind and the forecast is for a week of almost no wind. So we motor up the east side of Symi to the bay of Marathouda. This bay is very small, with only room for 3 or 4 boats. The water here is crystal clear and refreshingly cool, as fresh water springs flow into the bay. At the head of the bay is a rocky beach and a taverna that opens for lunch and provides beach chairs for tourists. We call this 'goat bay' as there are numerous goats that roam the beach. Here the taverna has a fence around it to keep the goats out. Goats have been known to put their heads over the fence to try to steal food from unsuspecting diners.

Our final destination in Greece is Symi harbour, where we go through the process of checking out of Greece. Symi also provides an opportunity to stock up on foods and drink that we cannot purchase in Turkiye. So our freezer is full of pork products, such as souvlaki, bacon, ham and salami. We have also stocked up on good coffee, which is difficult to find in Turkiye as well as wine and spirits, which are very expensive in Turkiye. In Greece we typically pay about $10A for a bottle of wine, while in Turkiye wine is usually over $20A.

While in Symi we ate at our favourite restaurant To Spitico (meaning home made). The lovely host Jordana welcomed us warmly when we arrived in the harbour, as she remembered us from previous visits. We had a delicious meal of grilled haloumi with Symi honey, rocket salad, dolmades and grilled octopus.

For our last night in Symi there was a big free concert in the town square. Everyone in the town was very excited as the artist was Helena Paparizou, who is a Greek superstar and won Eurovision in 2005. For the Eurovision fans out there, she was the first Greek to win with the song My number One - here is the link to her Eurovision performance if you are interested . We have included a short grab of the concert in our video. It was a nice finish to our time in Greece.

This year in Greece we have visited 24 islands, including six that we have not visited before- Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos, Poliagros, Folegrandos and Naxos. There are still quite a few islands that we are yet to explore, but we have to leave some new destinations for next year. We entered and exited Greece at Symi, our western most point was Milos and northern most point was Samos. We have travelled approximately 850 nautical miles (about 1500km) in Greece. So our next blog post will be from Turkiye.

The weather has been consistently in the mid 30's, with overnight lows between 25-29 degrees. The water temperature is between 25-28 degrees.

Kalymnos – Traditional music and throwing dynamite off a mountain

25 July 2023
Nerida Matthews
From Leros we had a short down wind sail to Emborios at the northern end of Kalymnos. We anchored out for two days, filling our time with swimming and fishing. And yes we caught a few fish!

Emborios is a stunningly beautiful anchorage surrounded by steep rocky mountains, you almost feel like you are in a fiord. As the sun goes down the hills change colour from grey to orange to purple, it is just magnificent. Photos do not seem to do it justice.

The weather is calm, which means we can BBQ. We got to christen the fish rack for the BBQ that we purchased last year, as well as cooking delicious pork souvlaki.

From Emborios we stayed two very hot days in Kalymnos harbour. The temperature was 36-37 degrees during the day with very little breeze and the overnight low did not get below 30 degrees. In one day the two of us consumed in excess of 7 litres of water and we still did not feel like we were drinking enough. Kalymnos harbour is not as pretty as some due to the excessive use of concrete. Once you get away from the harbour into the back streets, it has a lot more atmosphere with traditional old stone houses. At night the locals come out and sit in the street chatting to neighbours and keeping cool.

We ate at a taverna in the back streets both nights we were at Kalymnos. The first night we were lucky as they had two musicians playing traditional music. We enjoyed steamed muscles and prawns cooked with garlic. After eating we just sat and listened to the music with an ouzo.

On the second night at the taverna it was very quiet, with only a few customers. Suddenly there was a massive explosion, which sounded like we were in a war zone. Think of fireworks and multiply the volume by 10. As we, and other customers, were about to duck under the table the owner came running to explain that everything was all right. She explained that for weddings and Easter the locals have a tradition of throwing dynamite off the mountain. Apparently, there was a wedding, and we estimated that more than 20 sticks of dynamite were thrown off the mountain. One very loud explosion after another. We were both astonished by this tradition and were discussing it for a couple of days. Questions such as:
- Can anyone just purchase dynamite over the counter without a licence?
- How many injuries or limbs lost in this tradition?
- What is the risk of the dynamite causing a landslide down the mountain to the town below?
- etc

We are currently in the marina in Kos and it is very windy. Yesterday we had wind gusts above 30 knots, which is not good for the fires on Rhodes, which is about 40 nautical miles away. There is a bit of smoke haze around, but Rhodes is to the south east of Kos and the wind is coming from the north west, so most of the smoke is being blown away from us. We suspect the smoke haze we have here might be from the fires near Athens, even though they are much further away. But with the wind has come some cooler weather, today is 30 degrees.

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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