Our Ever-Changing Backyard

07 June 2021 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
26 March 2021 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
24 March 2021 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
27 April 2020 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
22 March 2020 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
16 December 2019 | Opua, New Zealand
25 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
21 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
19 November 2019 | On passage from Fiji to New Zealand
14 October 2019 | Savusavu, Fiji
27 July 2019 | Tavoro Waterfalls, Taveuni Island, Fiji
15 July 2019 | Viani Bay
23 June 2019 | En route to Savusavu, Fiji, from N. Minerva Reef
20 June 2019 | North Minerva Reef

Ayvalik Area Part 3 - Quiet mornings, busy afternoons, free entertainment

12 July 2024 | Ayvalik area, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
August 2023



Where is Ayvalik?


Ayvalik Area

Pumping out and sticker shock at Ayvalik Marina
We were in the Ayvalik area long enough to need two Turkish-government-mandated fifteen-day pumpouts. Fortunately, we knew that the Ayvalik Marina has a blackwater pumpout station. How convenient! The first time we stopped in, their pumps were broken, so we got what they called a "technical pumpout." This means that we paid the pumpout fee (about $15 USD), the marina registered us as having been pumped out (satisfying the letter of the requirement, but clearly not the intent), and sent us on our way with full blackwater tanks. As we were on our way out into the Aegean, to dump our tanks several miles offshore, Eric opined, "Everyone wins in this scenario except for the environment."


The location of Ayvalik Marina

The second time we went to the marina, two weeks later, the pumps were working, so we actually had our tanks emptied. While we were in the office, enjoying the air conditioning as the marina staff completed our pumpout paperwork, we asked her, "If we wanted to stay one night in the marina, how much would it cost for our boat?"

She typed Awildian's dimensions into her computer. "8422 Turkish lira," she said, which corresponded to $312 USD. For one night! We knew that marinas in the Med were expensive in the summertime (which is why we always anchor out), but this took our breath away. Then she said, "But we have no room at the moment. We're full."

Mistaking our shock for disappointment, she quickly added, "But if you need a space, contact me and I will find a berth for your boat."

Gümüs Cove


The location of Gümüs Cove

On another occasion when a strong NE wind was forecast to blow for a few days, we decided to go outside of Ayvalik Bay and anchor behind one of the nearby islands. We chose Gümüs Cove (also known as Poroselene Bay) because it would provide good shelter from the NE, was reported to have good sand to anchor in, and sports a beautiful white sand beach. What's not to like? Also, the water was clear there, which would be a nice change from the water in Ayvalik's shallow bay, which tends to be murky and not especially conducive to running our watermaker.


Awildian at Gümüs Cove. Definitely not crowded.

The anchorage lived up to our expectations. I would have said "it surpassed our expectations," but we discovered that the cell signal here was spotty and weak, so we couldn't reliably use the internet. That was fine for the time that we planned to be there, but it meant that we'd have to find a different anchorage when we needed a good connection.


Some non-electronic entertainment

One day we went for a walk on shore, exploring the pretty beach (and scooping up a handful of sand for our collection), and then venturing inland to cross the narrow isthmus between Gümüs Cove and the bay to the east (Patrica Bay).



Patrica Bay was taking the bulk of the wind, kicking up sharp chop. Apparently it had proven too much for one monohull, which was now hard aground in the shallows, tilted at a rakish angle, being pounded by the waves and pushed farther toward shore, its tattered jib flapping in the strong breeze. Whether it had dragged its anchor or encountered difficulties while underway, we didn't know, but the result was the same.


Someone having a bad day

A man was on board, another swimming nearby with a mask and snorkel and carrying a rope, looking for something to tie it to on the monohull. Close by, a small power boat held station, bucking in the choppy waves, apparently waiting to pull the monohull when the rope was secured. When the snorkeler stood up beside the boat, the water only came up to his waist. Ooh, not good.

When the rope was tied to the monohull, the driver of the motorboat put his boat into hard reverse, the engines kicking up froth, but he was unable to budge the monohull from its perch. Bugger. The snorkeler untied the rope, waved apologetically at the man on the mono, and swam back to the motorboat. Sadly, the tides here are so small that the usual tactic of waiting for high tide wouldn't help this situation. We continued our walk, leaving the man sitting on his tilted deck.

Yellice Adasi (Yellice island)


The location of Yellice Island

For a change of scenery (and hopefully better cell service), we left Gümüs Cove a few days later and anchored in a pretty little cove on Yellice Island, not that far away. When we arrived, only one boat was anchored, so we considered the available space and gave them plenty of room when we dropped Obama. It was the biggest distance between us and other boats that we had all day.


Uncrowded in the morning

Not long after we set our anchor, the parade of boats began. Little boats and big boats, motor boats and sailboats, all crammed full of energetic Turkish tourists. The boat skippers didn't mind being close to us and to each other. We, on the other hand, were a little leery. At its fullest, fifteen boats were crammed into the little cove, anchored to our left and right, behind us, and between us and the beach. When one boat would leave another would arrive. This was a bit intimidating for us, but I will say that none of them bumped Awildian or interfered with his anchor.


Busy in the afternoon

As the afternoon waned, boats stopped arriving, and by six o'clock, only three boats remained - Awildian, the original boat, and one other. We three enjoyed a quiet and peaceful night at anchor in the uncrowded cove.

Incidentally, the cell service was better than at Gümüs Cove, but not great.

Pinar Adasi (Pinar Island)


The location of Pinar Island

On another occasion when the wind was going to kick up from the NE, and we wanted to get out of the bay and make some water, we headed for an anchorage that I'd been pining for, tucked between two forested islands (haha see what I did there). It was called Ortunc Köyü, and it always seemed to have a few boats anchored there.

We motored out the Ayvalik Channel and headed for the anchorage. When we got close, I stood on the trampoline, looking down into the water to find some sand patches for anchoring. But all I could see, everywhere I looked, were acres and acres of lush, dark green weeds, without even a tiny sand patch to drop Obama in. Bummer.

Some boaters will anchor in weeds, but we won't if we can help it. For one thing, weeds are a notoriously difficult substrate to anchor in - the thick growth keeps the anchor from reaching the bottom, or tangles around it, or makes it slide instead of biting in - not good at all for holding. Nor is it good for the weeds. Weed beds are thriving ecosystems, with all sorts of critters living among the fronds. All good reasons to keep looking for a sand patch.

Which is what we did, motoring slowly, "sniffing" for sand patches along the shoreline of Pinar Adasi. Eventually we did find a good-sized patch of sand, into which we dropped Obama, who held right away.

We spent a few days anchored at Pinar Adasi, sheltered from the NE wind by the bulk of the island, and with the Aegean Sea behind us.



I enjoyed kayaking along the shoreline, which had some really colorful and interesting rock formations,




That white stuff isn't bird poop. It's actually some kind of white mineral that is embedded in the red rock.

and occasionally scrambling up the crumbly hillside to sit with some pine trees, and some cool-looking thorny shrubs whose branches look like stick drawings of organic chemistry molecules.



From sunset until late morning, we were alone, but every afternoon, tourist-laden gullets (large Turkish tourist boats) would motor over from Cunda or Ayvalik, their approach announced in advance by the loud music emanating from their speakers and the loud voices emanating from their passengers.

Click on the link below for a short video of one of the Turkish party boats.

Having a great time on a Turkish party boat

They came near where we were anchored, then turned, dropped their anchor and backed up toward the shore. One of the crew - usually a young man - would dive into the water and swim to shore, dragging a thick rope that was attached to the stern of the boat. He'd tie the rope to a large boulder, then swim back. The skipper pulled tight on the anchor, then turned off the engines and the music. Immediately, people began jumping off the boat as if it were on fire, splashing around in the water or swimming to the beach.


After tying to shore

After a couple of hours, the skipper started the engines and cranked on the loud music. The passengers climbed aboard the boat, the young crewman swam to the boulder, untied the rope, and swam back to the boat. The skipper pulled up the anchor and the gullet chugged away, its passengers dancing to the beat and whooping it up. And another gullet would take its place.

It was a lot of fun for Eric and me to experience this exuberant example of Turkish culture.


Another quiet evening

Eventually it was Wednesday again, and we moved Awildian into the bay, to an anchorage near the town of Cunda. Come Thursday morning, we'd be at the ferry dock, ready to go to the Ayvalik Bazaar. Hopefully for real, this time...

Adventures around Ayvalik Part 2 - In which we enjoy some meals in charming Cunda, sit out some strong wind in peaceful Kumru Köyü, give some yachties a lift, and look for (but don't find) the Ayvalik Bazaar

04 July 2024 | Ayvalik area, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
August 2023


Where is Ayvalik?


The Ayvalik Area

Cunda
Cunda is a cute little beach town, with a vibrant and colorful vibe. We were charmed by its cobblestone streets,



brightly-colored buildings,



draping bougainvilleas,



and shady lanes.



Popular with Turkish tourists, Cunda has many restaurants, souvenir shops, clothing shops, and ice cream stands, where tourists can spend their holiday lira.

We enjoyed meals at a few of the restaurants, where the meals were tasty, interesting, and inexpensive. One evening, we wandered along cobblestone streets, our favorite way to choose a restaurant, until we were a bit off the waterfront. There we found a cute little restaurant named Sardunya, along a pine-shaded lane.


The lane with Sardunya's tables

As we were perusing the menu out front (it was all in Turkish), a woman approached us and greeted us in Turkish. We looked up, smiled, and said, "Hello," whereupon she seamlessly switched to English, offering to explain the various menu items to us.

She brought us inside to peruse the glass cases holding dozens of different mezes (Turkish appetizers), and told us what each one was. We chose three: cheese-stuffed peppers, a spread similar to tzatziki, and stuffed grape leaves. We also ordered fried zucchini flowers, which was something new for us. They were really tasty and, I thought, a good use for a part of the plant that is usually discarded. For a main dish we chose their "special" köfte (meatballs).


Eric enjoying our Turkish dinner

The food was great, the scenery pleasant, and the entertainment was free: we enjoyed watching the interplay of the people, animals, and vehicles who all wanted to simultaneously use the narrow lane along which Sardunya's tables were arranged. Servers would emerge from the door of the restaurant, plates balanced on their arms, and have to dodge traffic to get to the tables on the other side. Cats and dogs meandered slowly along the lane, or sometimes lay down on its cool stones, requiring people and vehicles to detour around them. Jackdaws - which look very much like crows, but whose squeaky calls sound nothing like them - called from the pines. Scooters, motorcycles, ATVs, cars, and even a delivery truck - that just barely fit between the tables lining each side of the street - came through in both directions, jockeying for position or squeezing past each other and the tourists who were walking there. It was a laid-back and free-flowing scene that was a lot of fun to watch.

According to Lonely Planet, a restaurant named Bahçecik has a fabulous Turkish breakfast, set among fruit trees in a lovely, shady garden. As soon as I read that, I knew that we had to try it. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Turkish breakfast, but I can report that it IS fabulous!



What's a Turkish breakfast? you might ask. Well, a Turkish breakfast is sampling of many different items. For us, it meant freshly-made donuts; fresh bread; green and black olives; a small salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes and rocket (arugula for you Yanks); a dish of red relish similar to Balkan ajvar; a dish of clotted cream in honey, and another dish of clotted cream topped with sour cherries; a dish of sour cherry jam; a dish of scrambled eggs with green peppers; a dish of sliced sausages; and of course çay.


Van enjoying our Turkish breakfast

Eric also ordered some Turkish coffee. Everything was absolutely delicious, and the total bill was only 550 Turkish lira, or about $20 USD.

Cunda's charming and colorful, Greek-inspired architecture is a reminder that this part of Turkey used to be home to many people who ascribed to the Greek Orthodox religion. Similarly, Greece, was once home to many people who followed Islam. Early in the 20th Century, things got really ugly in this part of the world. Barbarous acts were committed. Of course, it was all about religion.

In a ham-handed attempt to end these atrocities, and to try to bring some sort of peace to the region, diplomats crafted the Lausanne Treaty in 1922, which instituted a compulsory population exchange of followers of the two different religions, between Greece and Turkey. It wasn't rocket science; it's the sort of thing you might do when your two kids are fighting - split them up. It doesn't solve the problem, but it does stop the bloodshed. At least for awhile.

The treaty required the Greek Orthodox-practicing people in Turkey to leave their homes and move to Greece, and the Muslims in Greece to move to Turkey. We're talking about a lot of people here: about 1.2 million Greek Orthodox and 400,000 Muslims were forced to leave their homes and everything they'd ever known, move across the Aegean Sea to a place they'd never been, and start over.

I'm not going to continue the downer here so if you want to learn more about this interesting bit of history, you can start with these links:

Cunda Island the untold story

Population exchange between Greece and Turkey

Kumru Köyü
When the wind was predicted to kick up to 30 knots from the NE, we looked for an anchorage that would provide protection from this direction. Around the corner to the south of the Tavuk Island anchorage were a couple of inlets that would fit the bill. My first choice was one called Camlik Köyü, a nearly-landlocked cove that provided good protection from most directions. It also had a restaurant and a bus stop, so we could eat ashore or venture into Ayvalik if we wanted to. When we got there, we discovered lots of holiday homes and a road lining the shore. Unimpressed, we decided that we'd rather anchor at Kumru Köyü, which had caught our attention with its jaw-dropping natural beauty as we'd passed by on our way to Camlik Köyü.

We backtracked to Kumru Köyü, and dropped our anchor there. Our view was nothing but water and rocky shoreline and pines. And it provided good protection from the NE, too. Perfect.




The next morning, before the wind arrived, I paddled around the cove in our kayak



and went ashore, where I collected some sand and pebbles from the beach to add to our collection, and to wander among the pines.



Ah, pines!



Besides Awildian, only two other boats anchored anywhere near us, also hoping to shelter from the wind in this beautiful place.

The wind eventually arrived and spent a couple of days with us, always blowing at least 20 knots, occasionally gusting to 30-35 knots. Obama remained firm in the muddy bottom, carving a comforting and confidence-inspiring arc on our chartplotter, illustrating his prowess.

The Ayvalik Bazaar - Take 1
When the wind had eased to a dull roar, we pulled up our anchor and headed for the anchorage at Ayvalik North.



Today was Thursday, and we'd heard that Ayvalik has a big produce market and bazaar every Thursday. I'd looked online and found a big covered area called the Ayvalik Belediyesi Semt Pazari, which translated to the Ayvalik Municipal Marketplace. This had to be the place. It was at the northern end of town. Conveniently, an anchorage was nearby, so we'd anchor there and walk to the bazaar.

Along the way, we saw a dinghy with three passengers - crew from one of the boats anchored near Awildian - going the same direction as we were, bashing their way against the leftover chop, sometimes taking a wave into the dinghy. One guy in the back was bailing constantly. We decided to see if they might want a lift...

We slowed as we pulled even with them, and I pantomimed them coming aboard. Discussions ensued on the dinghy, and then big smiles and a thumbs up. Eric angled Awildian over toward them, then reduced our speed. While he went to the stern to help them tie their dinghy, and get them on board, I steered Awildian.

One of the men spoke a little English. He was from Latvia; the others were from Ukraine. They were heading to the Ayvalik Marina, and they were very glad not to be pounding their way there anymore. When we got close to the marina, where the waves had settled down quite a bit, we dropped them off, everybody waving as our boats diverged.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi having a look at the nondescript but convenient Ayvalik North anchorage

When Awildian was anchored, we loaded Rolly up with extra shopping bags and our two cute little gas cans, intending to find a petrol station to fill them with dinghy gas. Then we lowered the dinghy, and zipped the short distance to shore, where there were plenty of places along the seawall to tie up. We walked up the hill in the hot sun to the Municipal Market. Along the way, we passed a woman selling a few veggies, but we didn't stop because we were on our way to shop at the big kahuna.

When we reached the market, we realized right away that something was amiss: it was empty. Not a single person was selling anything. Uh oh... We walked back to the woman selling the produce and using Google Translate asked her where the Thursday market was. She pointed down the main road and said (using Google Translate) "That way. About three kilometers."

Wait...the Thursday market isn't at the Municipal Marketplace? Ugh.

We weren't at all keen to walk that far in the hot sun, or to figure out how to get a taxi, so we bought some fruit and veggies from the woman, checked Google Maps to find a petrol station that we could walk to, filled our gas cans there, stopped to buy a few items at a small grocery store.

It's always helpful to have the "Camera" function of Google Translate handy, when shopping for groceries in a foreign country. For instance, what is this?



I'll save you the trouble. It's cheese made from cow's milk.

Other items are a bit easier to decipher...



Then we walked back to our dinghy, sweaty and grumpy. We'd have to wait another week, to experience Ayvalik's Thursday Bazaar.

Adventures near Ayvalik - Part I - Island rabbits, pine time, and a pillow rescue

27 June 2024 | The area around Ayvalik, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
August 2023


Where is Ayvalik?

We were excited to visit the Ayvalik area because it offered a variety of anchorages and experiences - offshore islands; a large, sheltered bay with lots of coves; beaches and trees; a couple of towns; a marina where we could take care of mandatory every-fifteen-day pumpouts... And it didn't disappoint! Once we arrived, we stayed for nearly a month. There was so much to see and do!


Look at all those anchorages!

Ҫiplak Island
Coming north from Ҫandarli, we anchored at Ҫiplak Island, a small island with a sparse covering of grass, just south of the entrance to Ayvalik Limani (AKA the lake, or the bay).


Ҫiplak Island anchorage

The cove on the southeast side initially appealed to us because the afternoon wind was forecast to come from the west, but as we got closer, there was even more to like: beautiful, clear water, with a big, juicy sand patch for us to drop our anchor in.


Awildian on his own



And RABBITS. Tons of them. Every color, big and small, hopping around everywhere on shore.


Find the handsome black island rabbit

Ҫiplak means "barren" in Turkish, which, I suppose it is. This island was once used extensively for grazing sheep, but the story goes that about a decade ago, some fishermen brought "a few pairs" of rabbits to the island, who adapted well to island life and set about doing what rabbits do. Which is why there are now thousands of rabbits and not much vegetation.



We didn't see any sheep, but I did encounter some shaggy goats while I was kayaking around near shore.


Shaggy goats

Tavuk Island


Tavuk Island anchorage

We anchored in this large, sandy cove three or four times. It's a nice spot, with a great view of the two towns - Cunda and Ayvalik - and a lush, forested shoreline behind a pretty beach. Good holding in muddy sand. It's sheltered from the daily western sea breeze, and convenient, as it's just a short dinghy ride to the little town of Cunda.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi enjoying a Tavuk Island sunset

Several times while we were there, I put our kayak in the water and paddled around. Sometimes I encountered some odd flotsam.


A dolphin skull


Some gangster lost his hat

Other times I paddled to shore so I could walk in the forest.



Even though I live on the sea, I'm a forest person at heart, always on the lookout for anchorages with trees, where I can recharge my soul in their green and shady presence. The Tavuk Island anchorage was perfect for that. I spent several hours hanging out with the pines, being serenaded by a chorus of lusty cicadas.


My buddies the pines

One day I decided to wash our pillows. I soaked each one in a bucket of soapy water and vinegar, and after rinsing them, set them out on deck to dry in the sun. It was a calm day, and hot, so I lay down on one of the cushions in the shade on our back porch and shut my eyes for a few minutes...

"HONNNNNNNK! HONNNNNNNK!" I jolted awake at the sound of the loud boat horn, and looked around to see where it was coming from. The only boat around was a large power boat about a hundred meters behind us, heading in our direction, so it must have come from that. Why had the skipper blown the horn?

Then I noticed that between Awildian and the power boat were several white billowing things, experiencing different levels of submersion. What the heck?

It dawned on me then that the wind had come up; while I was dozing, the afternoon sea breeze had arrived. I glanced around at the half-dozen pillows on deck...and saw only three. Oh no...

Oh yes! Those sinking white mounds were our pillows! I ran to the davit switch, lowered the dinghy, stepped in, started the outboard, and took off to rescue the pillows, waving at the skipper of the power boat as I passed him. By the time I reached the nearest pillow, only it and the next one were still above water. The third one, alas, had sunk into the murky depths.

Do you have any idea how much a waterlogged pillow weighs? Me neither, but it's a lot. I was able to rescue the two remaining pillows, dragging them aboard the dinghy like two heavy bodies. Back on Awildian, I rinsed them several times in buckets of fresh water, washed them, rinsed them again, then set them in a sheltered place to dry. Lesson learned.

I'm happy to report that these survivors cleaned up quite well and we're still using them.


A Tavuk Island sunrise

Chilling in Ҫandarli

19 June 2024 | Ҫandarli, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
July 26 - August 2, 2023

We spent a couple days anchored off beautiful Goldensands Beach, which is very well sheltered from the north wind. While there we did glamorous jobs like laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning, but also some fun things like reading about the various places we might visit in Turkey, writing the next blog post, swimming, relaxing and enjoying the scenery....

We had a hankering to go north, if we could, because all our reading said that it's supposed to be more like "real" Turkey, than some of the touristy places to the south of us.

The forecast was for light winds, the meltemi predicted to take another short break, which would afford us an opportunity to go north. We decided to take it. I found an anchorage that we could make in one day - a place near Izmir, called Ҫandarli, about 60 miles north of Goldensands Beach. (By the way, if you didn't pick it up from the title of our previous post, the letter Ҫ sounds like "ch".) We left early the next morning.



Our trip to Ҫandarli took us past miles and miles of fish farms (something that we would see plenty of, during our time in Turkey).


Fish farms


More fish farms

As we traveled, we made sure to stick close to the Turkish coastline. The border with Greece was close by, and we didn't want to get pulled over by either the Turkish or Greek coast guards, both of whom had boats patrolling the narrow waterway between the countries.

The seven-hour trip was pleasantly uneventful, and when we arrived at the small bay in front of Ҫandarli we discovered that there was only one other cruising boat anchored there - a pleasant surprise, for an anchorage in July, the height of the high season, We dropped Obama in the murky water, where he stuck in the mud, and Eric backed Awildian down more gently than we would on a sandy bottom, giving Obama time to sink down slowly into the mud, and be embraced by its anchor-swaddling gooiness.


Greater Ҫandarli and the bay

Once settled, we looked around. Ҫandarli was tucked into the NW corner of the bay, with a stubby peninsula sticking out to the south. Perched on this peninsula was an old castle, providing a scenic counterpoint to the town's modern buildings. Out in the center of the bay was a small island, where seabirds congregated.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi checking out Ҫandarli

We decided to treat ourselves to a Turkish dinner at one of the many small restaurants in town, so we put our dinghy in the water and buzzed over to the waterfront, looking for a place to tie up our dinghy and disembark. NoForeignLand - our usual go-to app for locating all kinds of useful places in towns - had been mum on where to land the dinghy, so we were winging it. (I've since added a dinghy-landing icon to the Ҫandarli map.) Back and forth we cruised, along the city's waterfront wall, with no obvious place to tie up. Eventually, we decided to tie up to one of the posts supporting the wire fence along the wall, bringing our dinghy right in close in the shallow, rock-strewn water, and clambering up through one of the gaps in the fence.


A minaret or, as we call it, the Voice of God

After locking our dinghy to the pole, we walked to a small open-air restaurant on the waterfront called Kasabin Kahve. Ҫandarli has a well-worn, yet exotic (for us) feel to it.


The shopping district

We walked into the restaurant, wandered through some of the tables, and sat down at one. No one spoke English, not even the staff. The menu was written on a whiteboard, everything in Turkish.


The menu

I had just pulled out my phone to Google "manti," one of the offerings, when our waiter arrived to take our order. Seeing that manti is "tiny dumplings stuffed with lamb and topped with garlicky yogurt sauce," I ordered that. Eric followed suit, and we both ordered "limonata" (lemonade), an easy translation.

As we waited for our food and drinks to arrive, I looked around and soaked in the ambiance. Just outside the restaurant's patio area along the waterfront, two young boys were fishing in the shallows with handlines; occasionally they caught a small fish, about four inches long. A couple of cats waited nearby, as patiently as they could, hoping that the boys would share their catch. Sometimes they did. Several other cats wandered lazily through the restaurant. At every other table besides ours, people were smoking cigarettes. Many were enjoying the strong Turkish tea (çay, pronounced "chai" like the Indian tea), drunk from the small, distinctively-shaped glasses made for this purpose. A feeling of relaxed ease permeated the place; no one - not even the wait staff - was in a hurry. Neither were we.

Our waiter reappeared with a question: "Sarimsak?" he asked.

I whipped out my phone, tapped Google Translate, and had him repeat the word. "Garlic," Google Translate suggested. Ah, he was asking if we wanted garlic on our manti.

How the heck do you say "yes" in Turkish...We didn't know at the moment, so we nodded and gave him two thumbs up. He soon returned with our manti, which was swimming in a sauce made of garlic, yogurt and melted butter. Yum!


Eric about to enjoy his dinner

I could only eat half of mine, so we consulted Google Translate again to find out how to ask for a takeaway box. Eating out was really cheap - the total cost of our dinner was less than $13 USD; another dinner we had a few days later was $11 USD.

After dinner, we walked through town, exploring, and enjoying the slightly cooler temperature of the evening. We passed by lots of little shops selling eggs or jams or hardware/household items. We stopped into an open air veggie market, whose wilted offerings had clearly endured a very long, very hot day, in spite of the shade cloth overhead. Farther along, we came to a tree-shaded park, with small booths arranged around its edges, all of them closed up. It looked like it would be an interesting place to visit, when the booths were open. Whenever that was.

Back on the waterfront, people were strolling along, or sitting on the benches; whole families - from grandparents to little kids - enjoying the evening together. We walked through the gap in the fence, climbed down to the water, liberated our dinghy, and scooted back to Awildian.


Ҫandarli's waterfront with Awildian anchored in the distance

We spent the next week anchored at Ҫandarli, making forays into town or hanging out on Awildian, while another meltemi swept down the Aegean.


It's kind of a dusty place...

One day, we visited the old castle. Built in the 1300s and restored several times since then - most recently in 2013 - there was no admission fee, so we could just wander around, exploring and enjoying the views from its windows and doorways.













I'd read somewhere that Ҫandarli has a town market every Friday, so when Friday came around, we loaded Rolly (our rolling cart) into the dinghy and headed to shore, tying up at our usual fence post. We figured that this would be the day that all those little booths in the town park would be open. We figured wrong: all of them were closed up, just as they had been before.

Undeterred, we walked back to the produce stand in town. Maybe that was where the market was held. Nope. The same two or three vendors who'd been there the other evening were there again, along with their tired-looking wares. Nothing about it said, "hey it's a Friday market!" to us.

Maybe we were early? It was 9:30; surely a produce market would be up and running by now. We decided to take advantage of being in town to have breakfast.

We sat down at a streetside cafe where elderly men sat at small tables with glasses of çay or raki (Turkish moonshine), having spirited conversations. The menu listed a wide range of food. A waiter brought us a basket of bread and asked us something in Turkish. Remember: no one in Ҫandarli speaks English. Or if there are people who do, we haven't encountered them yet.

I cued up Google Translate and tried to get him to speak into my phone, but I couldn't get the point across. After repeating the same word to me several times (but never into my phone), he exasperatedly called over a woman and pointed to my phone.

She asked the same one-word question. When we shrugged, she spoke into Google Translate on her phone. The word was çorba, which means "soup." She spoke into her phone again and showed it to me: "Sadece çorbamiz var" which means, "We only have soup."

Apparently nothing else on the menu was currently available. We didn't really want hot soup for breakfast, especially not on a hot day, so we thanked her politely and went to find another restaurant.

We ended up at a small cafe in the shade of the trees in the small town park. Their menu was also varied, but unlike the other place, these guys had more than just soup. Eric and I ordered a cheese-filled "tortilla" and a sandviç (yes, it's what you think it is). Both were good. Along with them, Eric enjoyed a Turkish coffee, and I had a glass of çay.


Brekkie in the park

While we were in town, we needed to buy a new phone, as mine had accidentally gone swimming in Greece a couple of weeks earlier (don't ask). Eric had done some research and decided that we wanted to buy a Samsung A23, which was available in Turkey. Ҫandarli has two cell phone stores in town - TurkCell and an independent seller - so we figured we could knock that off pretty easily. And since there was apparently no Friday market, we had plenty of time.

It actually took three days and three trips into town.

Day One. The independent seller had the phone at a good price but their credit card reader wasn't working, so we went a few doors down to TurkCell. TurkCell could take our credit card, so we bought the phone from them. We were going to get an e-SIM for my phone, so we didn't buy a physical one.

Back on Awildian, Eric set up my new phone. Though the Samsung A23 usually accepts e-SIMs, this feature was apparently disabled on my new phone since we'd bought it in Turkey. Oh well. We'd need to go back into town to procure a physical SIM. There is a physical SIM that will allow my phone to use e-SIMs, so we'd try to get one of those.

Day Two. The next day, we dinghied back to town and visited the TurkCell store. Yes, they had the e-SIM-abled physical SIM...but it wasn't available in Turkey. So we'd have to buy a regular SIM instead. But even that was a moot point, as the Internet was down in the store, so we couldn't do anything anyway.

We stopped back at TurkCell later, on our way back to Awildian after exploring the castle. No dice. Maybe tomorrow...

Day Three. We went back to TurkCell again the following day. Their Internet was working, and the clerk sold us a SIM. But...before he'd activate it, he asked us 45 minutes of questions, took all the details from Eric's passport, asked us our home address, and our Turkish address (we told him we're on a boat and he wrote something down, we don't know what). Using all that info, he registered the SIM with the Turkish government and told us that, as tourists, we could only use it for 90 days. I picked out a case with nice colors but some weird markings (those are not stickers), and we went back to Awildian, phone sorted.


My weird phone case

One afternoon, while we were doing some jobs around the boat, we heard voices nearby. Voices?Nearby? Since we were anchored out, that meant that someone must be visiting. When I looked outside, I saw a couple of teenage girls swimming near Awildian. I was surprised because we were anchored pretty far out. Using charades, I asked if they wanted to come aboard; they did. I lowered the swim ladder and they climbed aboard, happy not to be treading water anymore. Once aboard, they told me (using Google Translate) that they had been trying to swim to the small island, but then they realized that it was still quite a long way off, and they were exhausted. They sat on one of Awildian's transoms for awhile, chatting and laughing, and drinking the water I gave them.

A little while later - using Google Translate - I offered to take them back to shore in our dinghy, and they nodded. When we got close to shore, one of them said, "thank you!" and they jumped into the water.

On our last night in Ҫandarli, a huge orange moon rose out of the sea, casting a shimmering streak on the water of the bay. It was stunningly beautiful. I took my best shot at taking a photo, which didn't really do it justice. Eric and I stood on Awildian's deck for quite awhile, enjoying the warm evening and the beautiful scene. Tomorrow morning we'd head even farther north, to the area around Ayvalik.

Ҫecking into Ҫeşme

10 June 2024 | Ҫeşme Marina and Goldensands Beach, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
July 23, 2023

After a leisurely breakfast, we pulled up Awildian's anchor and headed across the narrow passage between Chios Island (part of Greece) and the Turkish mainland. For the entire time that Eric and I were in Turkey, we found it interesting that almost all of the islands that lay just offshore of the Turkish coast belong to Greece, even those that were only a few miles away - like Chios. We wondered why Turkey hadn't gained possession of any islands when the divvying up of land happened between Greece and Turkey.


A sketch of the area from the Awildian Journal

Anyway, during our trip across the passage, we prepped Awildian's fenders and docklines for a starboard side-tie at the Customs dock. As we approached Ҫeşme Marina, I called the marina office on the radio (VHF 72 for those who might care), letting them know we were looking to clear in with Customs and Immigration. The woman told me that she would send someone out to direct us where to go.

A minute later, a marinero came out in a small boat and followed us. "I will take you to your berth," he said in halting English.

"Wait," I said. "We're clearing in. We want to go to the Customs dock."

"I will take you to your berth," he repeated. Clearly we were not going to have a discussion about it.

"OK...is it a Med-moor berth?"

"Yes," he said, zooming off to guide the way.

Bugger! I hate it when all my careful planning is for nought. As Eric slowly followed the marinero, I scrambled around switching half of the dock lines and fenders to the opposite side, getting Awildian ready to back into the berth and tie fore and aft.

After we got Awildian tied up at the berth, Eric took our binder of ship's papers and left for the marina office, where he checked in with them and found that we got a free berth for four hours while clearing in. Surely we wouldn't need that much time...would we? The wind was calm at the moment, but was forecast to fill in quite a bit in the afternoon. I was hoping that we'd be out of the marina when that happened. It was only 9:30 am; I expected we'd be done way before noon. Turns out I was wrong.

After checking in at the marina office, Eric went a few doors down to the office of the yacht agency we were using, Pianura Marine. In Turkey, yachts are required to use an agent to check into and out of the country. Our agent, Onur, with whom we'd exchanged emails and some documents over the previous days, was out of town, but his colleague, a friendly woman named Busé, was busy helping several sets of people. She added Eric to the bunch.

When Eric returned to Awildian about a half hour later, I expected him to tell me that he was done and we could be on our way. But no, we were just getting started. I needed to come to the agent's office and then the three of us would walk to Passport Control, in the ferry terminal, about a five minute walk down the road. After the immigration officers were convinced that we were who our passports said we were, they stamped our passports and sent us on our way. Busé told us that she would see us back at her office in about an hour, which would be 1pm.

Eric and I found lunch at a small pizzeria along the main street near the marina. I was beginning to get a bit antsy about the wind: we still needed to go to the fuel dock after clearing in, and I wasn't looking forward to maneuvering in the confines of the marina in 25 or so knots. But it didn't do any good to stew about it. There was nothing we could do to speed up the process.

During lunch, we bought a Turkish e-SIM for my phone. E-SIMs are amazing! Now we don't have to find a cell phone store, where the employees may or may not speak English, to buy a physical SIM card.

Just before 1pm, we parted ways. Eric went back to Busé's office, to see if she was ready to continue with our clearing in process. I went back to Awildian to use the marina water to clean his decks.

At 2pm Eric still wasn't back, so I busied myself writing in Awildian's journal and adding some details of our recent travels to the log on our spreadsheet.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi having a look at Ҫeşme Castle while we wait for Eric to return

At 3pm there was still no sign of Eric. According to the forecast, the wind should have been blowing 25 knots from the north by now, but we seemed to be catching a break: the wind was still very light. I began hoping that the four free hours offered by the marina was a loose amount of time. Marina prices in Turkey are exorbitant; I didn't want to be charged for the day!

Eric showed up at 3:15, all finished with the clearing in. We called the marina on the VHF and told them that we'd like to go to the fuel dock. Two marineros came to untie Awildian, and two more tossed us lines when we arrived at the fuel dock. That was a nice treat! We put about 250 liters in each of Awildian's diesel tanks, for $1.22 a liter. That's pretty good for diesel in the Med.

We cast off at 4pm (the marina hadn't charged us for our berth, or for the water I'd used), and headed out of Ҫeşme Marina, past the 16th-Century castle that looms at the entrance to the marina, juxtaposed with lots of modern construction, which seems to be the norm in Europe.

Two views of the Castle:





Though the wind was still very light in the marina, there was about 12 knots in the channel between Ҫeşme and Chios - still nothing like the 25 knots that had been forecast - but as it was coming from behind us, it just pushed us along to the anchorage we had chosen.

We made our way around the small peninsula to the south of Ҫeşme, and dropped our anchor in 20 feet of clear water off of beautiful Goldensands Beach. With a name like that, how could we not check it out? And it did live up to its name.


Goldensands Beach [Photo from Trip Advisor]

Only a few other boats bobbed nearby, but the beach and water were packed with sunbathers, swimmers, jetskiers, inner tubers, and parasailers, all enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon.

As jet skis zipped by and the sun set, Eric and I stretched out on the seats on our back porch, feeling relieved: over the past two days, we'd crossed the Aegean without encountering the meltemi, we'd cleared out of Greece, and into Turkey. Now we had a couple of months to explore Turkey at our own pace, going where we wanted to, and staying for as long as we wanted to. Just the way we like it.

Crossing the Aegean

03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
Vandy Shrader
July 21-22, 2023

We didn't have to wait long for the meltemi to take a break. Three days after Annie and Liam boarded their flight in Athens, we pulled up our anchor in Sounion and headed east across the Aegean Sea.

Where to go in Turkey?
Eric and I had talked about where we wanted to go in Turkey. Every place sounded interesting. Most of the cruisers we knew spent the majority of their time in the southern part of Turkey, but we were open to trying something different, especially with a relatively long trip back across Greece and then north to Montenegro in a couple of months. We decided to cross the Aegean Sea at the approximate latitude of Athens, about halfway up the coastline of Turkey.

Countries generally have only a handful of places where you can legally clear into or out of them (these are known as "ports of entry"), so we'd have to aim for one of these in Greece (to clear out) and another in Turkey (to clear in). We'd clear out of Greece at Chios (on Chios Island) and clear into Turkey at nearby Ҫeşme Marina, on the Turkish mainland.


Our route

Chios was about 120 miles away, and since some strong headwinds were forecast for the afternoon, we wanted to leave early to avoid those and find a place to stop along the way. Agios Pyrgos, a small cove near the northern tip of Andros Island, would suit us fine.

Crossing the Aegean
We left Sounion at 6:30 am, just before sunup, planning to make it to Agios Pyrgos before the strong NE headwinds arrived at around midday. The first few hours were beautiful and calm, the early morning sun gleaming on the water, our only company the many ferries that crisscrossed this piece of water on their way between Athens and the islands of the Aegean.



Though we made it to Agios Pyrgos by 12:30, the headwinds had arrived at 11 am, the choppy waves treating us to a jouncy ride for awhile. Agios Pyrgos is a beautiful cove, with a white sand beach, and clear water that allowed us to find a good sand patch to drop our anchor in.


Agios Pyrgos sandy beach

Best of all (and one reason why we chose it), the anchorage provides excellent protection from the NE, so while the wind and waves were snotty outside the cove, Awildian was floating calmly inside.


Agios Pyrgos closeup with Greek fishing boat

We spent the afternoon relaxing, and went to bed early, since we planned to get an early start the next morning - at 3 am!

The next morning, I happened to wake up at 2:15 am, so I just stayed up. I'd volunteered to do the 3-6 am shift - I don't mind getting up early, and I like being up at dawn. We'd set things up for a night passage before we went to bed last night: setting night mode or red lights on all our technology, charging my new headlamp (and reading the instructions), putting our red flashlight in an easy-to-find place, getting our PFDs out...

We were underway by 2:55 am. I was a bit tense about navigating so near shore in the dark (the first hour of our 13-hour trip would be around the northern tip of Andros Island, through the sometimes-busy passage between the island and the mainland), where I was concerned there might be fishing floats or other unmarked hazards lurking in the dark. We had the radar going, and I could clearly see the lights on even the smallest boats, so that was reassuring.

My journey in darkness didn't last long as the sky began to lighten by 5 am. The weather was calm, the ship traffic was light and mostly confined to the middle of the passage, and Awildian didn't encounter any unmarked hazards.


Sunrise

While underway, I pondered how many hours I've traveled by boat in darkness. The answer is, a lot!
I decided that it's probably been about 10-15% of my boat travel time, almost all of it done in open water, away from land; not close to shore, like this. This is only the second time we've moved Awildian at night - the other time being our trip across the Adriatic Sea from Monopoli, Italy, to Cavtat, Croatia, in June of 2022.

MAGICAL!! That's what I wrote in our journal, to describe being greeted by a pod of exuberant dolphins, who came to play in Awildian's bow wave at sunrise. We never get tired of seeing dolphins! What a lovely way to begin our day!

And what a very long day it was! With the usual "feast or famine" wind conditions in the Med, we were served "famine" today, and ended up motoring the whole 85 miles, arriving at the port of Chios at 3pm. We weren't sure exactly where we were supposed to tie up for Customs clearance. One place that seemed likely already had two big ferries tied up there, with only a small patch of dock available between them.

We drove around a little and then pulled alongside a big juicy clear length of dock off to the side of the ferries. Just as I was finishing tying Awildian to the shore, a man in a uniform came to tell me that we couldn't tie up there, because it's the spot for the Coast Guard boat (which happened to be out at the time). He couldn't tell me where we should tie up, just that we couldn't tie up there.


Chios Port

In the photo, "1" marks the first place we tied up, and "2" is where we eventually tied up. You can see from all the ferry tracks what a busy place this is!

OK. So we untied and went back over to where the ferries were docked. Eric maneuvered Awildian into the small space along the dock between the two ferries (fortunately, Awildian is very maneuverable), and while I hung out on the boat, Eric took our boat documents and went to figure out where and how to check us out of Greece. I took photos of the ferries in front of us and behind us. They were actually closer than it seems from the photos.


Behind us


In front of us

The officials checked our passports not just to make sure that we'd cleared into Greece properly, but also to calculate the number of days that we'd been there, to make sure that we weren't overstaying, before stamping them. There was some confusion among some of the officials, concerning what to do with our Greek transit log (the record we're required to keep, of the places we'd checked into and out of, during our stay in Greece). Phone calls were made, documents were shuttled between various offices, and in the end the appropriate authorities kept our transit log and we were free to go. With the stipulation that we call the port control on VHF12 when we were ready to leave the dock.


The Customs building/ferry terminal

We untied Awildian and then I called the port control. As I was waiting for them to respond, a huge ship loomed into my vision: a big ferry was entering the port, almost filling the narrow entrance. So we held our position along the dock until the ferry had entered the port, done a slow pirouette and backed up against the shore to disgorge its vehicles and passengers.


A very large ferry in a not-very-large port

When port control called to tell us we could go, we left Khios port, heading around the corner of the island to a nice, big, open anchorange called Paralia Megas Limnionas , which basically means "Big Limnionas Beach," where we dropped our anchor, finally able to relax after a very long day.

Just across the water, about 4 miles away, we could see Turkey. Tomorrow we'd head over there, to Ҫeşme Marina, where we'd meet up with our Turkish agent, and clear into the country. For now, though, our thoughts were only on dinner and sleep.
Vessel Name: Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 48
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed our Able Apogee 50, SCOOTS, from 2012-2021, and are now aboard our Leopard 48, Awildian, since March 2022.
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