Welcome to Lesbirdsnest.com - John and Eva Bird on the M/Y 'Destiny'.
lesbirds@msn.com Contact Us Phone: 0044 (0)787 222 69 65 or 0033 (0)620 719 335

DESTINY DIARY, 2010 Part 2 - Greece and Turkey.

Despite a windy start, we had a good crossing, and after 36 hours we were welcomed to Greece by a Dolphin swimming alongside, going up towards Argostoli on Cephalonia Island. The Greeks have a different way of mooring and this was to be our first attempt. First you drop your anchor in the bay (because they don't have lazy line), and then you reverse towards the quay laying out the anchor chain as you go - sounds easy until you realize that you started too soon and you don't have 500 meters of chain, or that you actually dropped your anchor on top of somebody else's and that they aren't cheering you from the quay, they're screaming at you to move your anchor, or, as you finally make it to the quay, and you attempt to tie up, the weight of the anchor chain starts pulling you forward so the distance to the quay starts getting longer again, or, or,
We didn't do too badly for our first time! The second attempt worked, so we checked into Greece, the customs and police staff were friendly, it cost us around 45 euros for the Greek transit permit and €20 for 2 nights mooring, much better prices than Italy!
Kefalonia Argostoli
Arriving in Greece. Our first port of call.
For the next few days we stayed around Argostoli. John had problems with the water maker after changing the filters, so it needed to be sorted.
Now that we were in Greece, we were not sure which way to go, we were still in the Adriatic with its strong winds and deep coves, we tried to go to Antisamos and finally anchored in Agia Efimia. This island is very touristic as expected, lots of houses look closed, but it is nice and green.
The weather forecast was for more wind down the Adriatic side so we decided to go east through to the Corinth Canal. The mooring fees might be low in Greece, but the price of food is high and so was the temperature, we had to keep the air conditioning on to sleep. We stopped in Patras where I took the opportunity to do some washing whist John sorted the water maker again, the charging circuits and the Short wave radio (SSB).
Our next stop was a place called Galaxidi, a lovely little town, where we moored up on the town quay for a couple of days. We found in the local museum that during the age of sail, this was the place where a large number of Greek merchant ships had been built, but it all disappeared with the arrival of the steam ship! And, unless you were told, you'd never know it ever existed.- Incroyable.
Galaxidi Delfi
The old shipbuilding centre of Greece. The spectacular view from Delphi.
Delfi Amphitheatre
The Temple of Appolo - needs minor restoration work!. Delphi ruins.
From Galaxidi we took the bus to visit Delphi, which was the site of the Oracle, (no idiot, not the computer people, the old crazy woman who lived in a cave breathing in strange gasses), the most important temple site in the Greek world, and a major site for the worship of Apollo. Apollo, apparently slew the Python who lived in Delphi and protected the Navel of the Earth. (There was me thinking that Birmingham was the navel of the earth - how wrong can you be). It is a beautiful place, high up in the mountains overlooking the Pleistos Valley, you can see all the way to the coast and up to Corinth.
Our next stop was the bay of O.Steno, where we looked for shelter from a strong swell. We were planning to stop in the Corinth harbor, but on approaching the entrance of the canal, we had the opportunity to go straight through.
The Corinth canal is a unique and unusual canal, its only about 6 kms long, but cuts off a long trek right around the Peloponnese peninsula. It is dug through rock up to about 100 meters deep and can take large sea going ships as well as small Destinies. There are no locks, but there are four bridges over the top and two sinkable bridges, one at either end.
We were following a French trawler yacht - 'Arion' and we both had the strange impression of sailing uphill and then downhill as we went through - obviously the water is level and it's an optical illusion from the shape of the sides, but it was a strange feeling. The crossing cost us €130, an expensive piece of waterway (the most expensive stretch of water in the world they say). On the other side we dropped anchor at Korfos, in Sofikou Bay and were joined by 'Arion' We met the owners Franois & Monique and of course compared trawlers.
Corinth.JPG Corinth.JPG
The entrance of the Corinth canal. Going in uphill.
Corinth.JPG Corinth.JPG
Down the otherside. That's it, into the Aegean.
By now it was the end of July and to be fair we were not really enjoying being in Greece and its constant threat of the Meltemi, (strong winds), its heat, its tourists and noisy beaches. The moorings were cheap, but food was expensive, and all we were doing was hopping from one island to the next. But we did enjoy the sea, the water was fantastically warm and not a medusa (jellyfish) in sight, and it was great to swim every day, the only way to stay cool.
We made a decision to go straight across the Aegean Sea to Turkey, it meant missing the Greek islands, but we really didn't want to be bottled up by the Meltemi, which can blow for a week or 10 days at more than 30 knots. Anyway we would have to come back this way someday, I'm not going down the red sea!
We dropped anchor in Poros in the Saronic Gulf. Then, just when you think all is well, one morning we woke up to a strong smell of fish. The freezer had stopped overnight and everything was thawed. After cleaning everything and resetting the system I spent the rest of the day cooking everything that could be saved before freezing it down again. That smell of fish lingered for weeks, doesn't matter how much you clean, still it's only the guest cabin - anybody want to visit?
Poros Merikha
Anchored - Greek style. Must be where 'mericans come from.
Our next stop was in Kythnos and we anchored in the little harbor of Merichas. Our anchoring system was now improving, and I always found help on the quay! We liked Kythnos; our neighbour was a Greek from Athens who told us this was his favorite Island. So to visit it, we rented a Quadbike. I must admit we had a great time going, up and down and around the hills, covered by miles and miles of stone walls surrounding empty fields, old wind mills, and small churches. The main town Kytmos in the center of the island is a typical tourist picture; small winding streets and carved white walls with bright bougainvilleas and blue shutters.
We visited Loutra, and stopped in Apokrousi bay for a swim. A good day, but again, nights were noisy and hot with a lot of mosquitoes.
Kithnos Kithnos
On top of the hill. Kithnos - the old town.
Kithnos Mountain road
Dangerous driver No1. Dangerous driver No2.
Kithnos Mountain road
On top of Greece, looking out to sea. Touring Greek style.
Our next stop was the Island of Siros and we dropped anchor in Finikas. We visited Ermoupoli which is the capital of the island and of the Cyclades, where we found some parts for the SSB antenna. Disco music drove us to our next Island Naxos, too hot to stay, so onto Leros, a small town where people have mini churches in their garden.
Next was the island of KOS in the south Sporades. It could have been interesting to visit it as it has a lot of historical sites, from the War of Troy, and is a well fortified port, but there were so many tourists, the place is more like a zoo and John was not enjoying it at all. Kos was also the birthplace (around 460BC) of Hypocrates - he, of the doctors oath.
From Kos we had planned to go to Tilos, but because of the wind and the swell we changed direction towards Simi; too busy, so we finally stopped in Pethi. We were now on the eastern side of the Aegean Sea and had done it without experiencing any Meltemy. - Great.
Leros Naxos
The bay of Leros in the evening. The ancient Greek temple, where people go to watch the sun go down.
By now it's mid August and I had finally succeeded in contacting one of my cousins, who lived in Rhodes. I hadn't seen him for over 30 years, so on 14th of August we found a berth in Rhodes Harbour. A big rip-off. The mooring cost €16 a night, but the agents fee was €100! But I did enjoy seeing Jacob again and talking about the old days when we were young(er)!
After having been in Malta, it was curious to see Rhodes, from where the Order of St John's originated. It was not as interested as Malta because the old town is so full of souvenir shops and taverns for tourists. I didn't like Rhodes much, a windy island with one hotel after the other, hot, noisy, smelly and expensive. Even having my cousin on site did not help to make us like the place, although he showed us the Kallitheas thermal baths, and took us to a delicious sea food restaurant. We were glad to leave the harbour and the crazy gullets (Turkish charter boats) who think they owned the place!
On 18th August we left windy Rhodes and went to Marmaris in Turkey.
Eva and Cousin Rhodes
Can you see the family resemblance. Cross Rhodes.
Rhodes Museum
Art - religions meet. The old museum/hospital.
We were squeezed into 'Yacht Marina' where a friendly staff helped us to check into Turkey. It cost us €110, the boat is allowed to stay 2 years, but the crew only 3 months, and John needed a visa! French nationals are visa free! But guess what, it was Ramadan again!!!! It's always Ramadan when we visit a Muslim country!!
We came to Marmaris to meet with Warren and Robin the owners of 'Pepi' a new 'Diesel Duck' trawler, similar to 'Destiny'that was built in Ismir and launched in June. Unfortunately Warren had become scared of his boat, and had already decided to sell, - we didn't succeed in changing his mind. The great thing about Yacht Marina though, was the pool, it was like being on a real holiday, spending the afternoon at the pool, it being too hot to stay on the boat or go anywhere.
Maramaris is very popular with cruisers, there are two big marinas, and the one next to the town is the more expensive. But there are plenty of facilities for doing work on boats, as well as a good selection of ship chandlers. We enquired about the price for staying for the winter. But it was too early to confirm, so we decided to continue east keeping it as an option to return to.
We left Marmaris and anchored off Ekinik, it was nice to be able to swim off the boat again, even at midnight under a full moon and beautiful sky. Next we went to Skopea Lemani, the weather was beautiful, but because of a Meltemi in the Aegean there was an uncomfortable swell, we found shelter in a 'deep bay' where we dropped anchor but had to take a line to the shore, we were not used to this method of anchoring but after some trials and 'captain anger' (don't know what you mean by this - Ed), we were safely parked. A beautiful bay surrounded by pine trees and the sea at 29C, and wonderful fresh bread being delivered to the boat by the locals. I like this place!
Finike Skopea Lemani
The castle at Fineke. A quiet anchorage.
We went on to Gocek which had been recommended by all our friends. There are six marinas in Gcekk sited in coves located in a large and secluded bay, you could spend all summer there. The people here are so hospitable, and the fruit and vegetables very good and cheap. John had his first experience of a Turkish barber, the full service, haircut, eyebrow trim, nose trim, ear trim, face hair burnt off, massage for the neck, shoulders and arms, and all for €5. Not sure if he liked it, but it looked great. We anchored in Boynz Bk bay, for swimming and kayaking but were disturbed by Gullets so we went on to Fethiye which is full of Lycian tombs and history.
Later we moved to Fathom bay for some peace and quiet and better swimming. For dinner we tried the 'Amigo' a kind of floating restaurant on an old barge at the end of the bay. We had a very interesting evening chatting to the owner who told us about Turkey. His son is the bread delivery man!
Our next stop was Kas, we dropped anchor under Lycian tombs in Bayindir Limani opposite the town because it wasn't possible to get into the old ld port. It was still very hot, too hot to do anything involving energy, so we went back to the old routine of sit, read, drink, swim - hard, but somebody has to do it. Kas is a pleasant town, with its blue sea and narrow streets scented with jasmine flowers running down to the sea, it has a Hellenistic theatre and Lycians tombs everywhere. It also has a number of interesting caves, and even ancient cities sunk under the sea. It was too hot to see it all; we'll come back in the spring next year.
Kas Antiphellos
More old tombs in Kas. The amphitheatre at Kas.
It was now 1st of September, some wind was forecast, so we moved to a free pontoon on Nuri's Beach. In this part of Turkey lots of small beach restaurants offer free moorings on a pontoon, and you are expected to visit the restaurant or use the bar, but it's all very friendly and there is no pressure to do so. We met the owner's son 'Ramadam' who is slowly taking over the family business. He came onboard for a drink and a chat with us, a very intelligent young man, with interesting views on the future of Turkey, very much against a secular state.
We were one of half a dozen boats on the pontoon. Among others, we met Doug and Dave, each sailing solo in there own boats, their wives didn't like the cruising life, so they go on there own, it happens quite often - not every woman can take it, lucky John!?
After a few days of taking it easy, it was time to move on, we went to Kekova, a very protected and restricted area, and dropped anchor in Woodhouse bay. The water was cold on the surface because of underwater springs, and warm lower down, - weird. The place was also infested with wasps and small biting flies so the following day we moved to Ucaiz Limani. Being September it had become a bit more civilized, fewer crazy tourists - we are such snobs. We visited the village which seems to be built on an old Lycian cemetery, tombs everywhere - nobody seems to know much about the Lycians. That day we had our strongest wind of the season, about 30 knots, but fortunately it did not last long and the anchor held well.
Gullete Kas bay
A big russian hotel with a 'Gullete in the foreground. A stormy arrival at Kas.
After so many days on anchor, we decided to go back to civilization, i.e. a marina, and headed for Finike, very friendly place where they come on board and help you get moored, great. Finike was a trading port and the capital city of Lycia; it is now a small town trying to develop tourism. They are a few 'liveaboards ' staying in the marina, and we met one of them Ken, who has an old 'Oceanic' the same type of catamaran of as our first boat 'Tournesol', interesting. We moved on towards Kemer, and anchored in avus Limani, surrounded by pine trees and beautiful clear water still at 30C, but days were getting cooler, only 25C. Again, because of some bad weather west of us and we were getting a bad swell so we went in to Kemer Marina.
Kemer, was once the marina to winter for cruisers, but after a change of management things are not st so good, although they were still few live aboards already moored up for the winter. I did not like the town, an artificial tourist town with too many Russians; and we were back in disco land as well!!!
By now we needed to decide where to go next. Were we going to go back to Marmaris for the winter, or try to stop in this part of Turkey? Two years ago we were invited to the opening of a new marina in a place called Alanya, which was across the gulf of Antalya, seventy miles away. We had thought of wintering in Herzilia, Israel, but they had not replied to our email. We compromised and decided to rent a car and visit the marinas of Antalya and Alanya, before making our decision.
When you rent a car in Turkey it's not expensive but the fuel tank is empty and the price of petrol doubles the cost of the rental! We got completely lost going through Antalya, but we finally found the Alanya Marina. It was a new marina, not completely finished, situated just outside the town of the same name, a lovely Turkish town although touristic, like all towns around the gulf, it isn't completly overtaken.
Antalya Mosque
The old port in Antalya. Four poster Mosque.
We met the Manager of the marina, and he gave us a very good price for 8 months. We also spoke with some people wintering there already and they all said it was a very nice and friendly place to be for the winter, it was close to the airport of Antalya, and there were good facilities, a few French boats and even a swimming pool. After a friendly lunch in town and talking about it we decided to book for the winter.
We drove back to 'Destiny' in Kemer, getting lost again going through Antalya.
The following day we took a bus to Antalya and visited the town. It's the capital of the region, surrounded by the high Taurus Mountains, beautiful scenery. The old city of Kaleii and harbour are surrounded by old walls making the place very attractive.
Back in Kemer we found Doug and Dave on thheir way to Cyprus. It was our last night in the marina and found the 'happy hour' bar, where we met some friendly cruisers.
On September 16th we crossed the Gulf of Antalya and arrived in Alanya. In the end it was our last port for the season, we had planned to visit Cyprus, but it did not happen. It was really too early to stop for the winter, but going back was not really on and going onwards would also mean eventually coming back. So we stopped early and used the the marina pool.
Alanya Marina Concert
Our new home for the winter - Alanya. An evening out at the Opera.
We met with many people wintering in Alanya, English, French, Americans, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, etc. We had our routine, first a swim in the pool, back to the boat for shower and breakfast and then some work, or socializing or shopping. Happy hour at 18h, trip to the market on Tuesdays and Fridays, BBQ on Saturday night, quiz night on Mondays, and of course hot, sunny days in between, away from the storms of the Aegean.
We flew home on October 31st; It was starting to get cool and windy, a good time to stop for the year. Next year we plan to join the East Med Rally, visiting Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt in company with about 80 others - should be fun, we'll keep you posted - promise.
Antiocheria Bananerie
An old Turkish pirate lair, conquered by the Romans, then the pirates etc, etc. Believe it or not those are banana plantations.
Winter Storage
Put away for the winter.
On to the Next Page Back to the Home Page