Up the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea

After a great time in Istanbul it was now time to move on.  The original plan was to visit Romania and Bulgaria but Covid put paid to that, but Ian wanted to stick his nose into the Black Sea as we were so close.  With the strong current and a strong wind against us we needed to leave early before the wind arrived or it we wouldn’t make it up the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea.   So off we went at 5am with zero wind and flat water. 

We arrived in the Black Sea at 8.40am to winds of 15 knots on the nose and 1m waves.  Not such a great experience.  We were heading to Sile which was about 20 miles along the north coast of Turkey.  The harbour/marina was full of small fishing boats/local boats.  We stood out like a sore thumb.  I don’t think they get many visitors there. 

Sile is a Turkish holiday resort.  The weather is a bit cooler here, in fact the weather was reminiscent of the UK, raining and overcast for most of the time we were here.  We went out for dinner and I had jeans and a jumper on!  Sile has a lighthouse that was built during the Crimean war.  It is 19m high, 60metres above sea level and its light can be seen 35 miles away.

We only spent a few days in Sile and then headed back to the Bosphorus.  There is one way system in operation for Ships transiting the Bosphorus, midday to midnight is southwards.  We arrived at the entrance at midday and could see nine ships headed towards the entrance.  We had the sails up as well as the engines however, the Coastguard was not happy with this and made Ian take the sails down, he did try to explain that he had the engines on too, but they weren’t having that , it was engines only in the Bosphorus, so down they came.  With the current, just one engine and no sails we were doing 9.6knots.

We stopped at few anchorages overnight along the Dardanelles before arriving at Bozcaada, a small island but the third largest Turkish one, where we moored up on the harbour wall.  The current is quite strong in the Dardanelles and at one point we were sailing with just the jib sail up, no engines and with 22 knots of wind behind us we were making speeds of 6.5knots.  Bozcaada was a former Greek island which would explain why you would be forgiven for thinking that you were on a Greek Island in some parts of the town.  We had a meal here and a couple to the side of us must have taken a million photos of each other, slight exaggeration, but a lot anyway.  They asked the waiter to take a photo of the two of them, Ian couldn’t help himself and photobombed.  The waiter returned the phone to the girl and after looking through them turned around to look at Ian as she realised he was the third person in all of them.  He gave her his biggest smile again. 

Bozcaada became part of Turkey in 1923 mostly for reasons of national security as it was used by the Allies against the Ottoman Empire during the Gallipoli campaign.  Bozcaada Castle overlooks the harbour.

We left Bozcaada and headed to a place called Assos, also known as Behramkale.  It was very windy and entering Assos is not for the faint hearted, it is a very narrow entrance but a spectacular harbour lined with various restaurants and hotels. We decided as it was windy we would not enter here but as luck would have it, just 20 mins before getting to the entrance the wind dropped and so we went in.  We moored up bow to and stepped off the front of the boat onto a small wooden jetty about two foot long between people eating and drinking!  There is water and electric available, of which there is no charge and no pressure to eat at the hotel restaurant either which is what is normally expected, however, we did eat and drink there.   This was one of the prettiest harbours we have visited.  

There were more ruins here so we took the dolmus, local mini bus, into town to see the Temple of Athena which is at the top of the hill.  The rest of the city is further down the hill, quite a long way. I said to Ian it’s a long walk back but we have to go and have a look, so we did.  At the bottom is a 3rd century BC theatre.  We noticed that there was a turnstile out onto the road.  It was padlocked but fortunately no roof on it so we climbed over.  There was no way we wanted to walk back up. 

July 2020

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