Monthly Archives: July 2022

Karadeniz – Turkish for the Black Sea!

The next place we visited was Samsun, which is the largest Turkish city on the Black Sea.  We were a little way out of town in a place called Canik.  The start of the trip was definitely not my sort of sailing, big seas which got bigger and it was grey but the waves did settle down eventually. 

We had another full day visiting various museums in the town.  One stop was the Bandirma Steamer which was built in Scotland.  The Bandirma arrived in Samsun on 19th May 1925 with Atatürk on board.  This was a very significant and important day as Samsun was where the bid for Turkish’s independence began. 

DaDD Ralli Crew

There is a very large monument in honour of Atatürk on his horse.  I was going to say most, but I think all the places we’ve been to, have some kind of monument to Ataturk.    We were asked to gather in a ring around the monument as a sign to protect it.  Last year some people put ropes around the feet of the horse and attempted to pull it down. 

The following day we had a break from museums and had a day with nature.  We first visited the Kızılırmak Delta, which is the biggest wetland in the Black Sea region, stopping at the bird sanctuary first.  There are 420 bird species in Turkey and 340 of them have been identified in the delta, 140 of these species breed in this area.  There was various wildlife, plant life and animals in particular lots of water buffalos. 

After a visit to a Tobacco museum, we were taken to a hazelnut farm where we had dinner. We discovered that Turkey provides 80% of the world’s hazelnuts. 

We went from Samsun to Kumbasi, 75nm up the coast, which was just a stopover and then on to Tirebolu.  Half way between Kumbasi and Tirebolu was a very small island called Giresun where we were asked to complete a Circle of Love. There was a slight difference to this Circle of Love though as we were accompanied by a fighter jet on a training exercise, who circled above us several times, as well as doing some loop the loops and other stuff. It was amazing and the sound was so loud.

After all this excitement we carried on with our journey.  On entering the harbour at Tirebolu we found that the starboard engine (the righthand one to you landlubbers) had no drive, we were near to the rocks at the entrance to the harbour so it was getting a bit worrying.  We came out of the harbour back into clearer water, Ian stuck his snorkel on then head down into the water as we thought something may have caught around the propellor, no much worse than that the propellor was gone!  We came in and rafted (tied along side) Dusk.  This was a disaster, or so we thought.  Would you believe, one of the boats in the Rally had a spare propellor, a little big, but it would do us for now until we could get a replacement. 

Tirebolu brought a few days of overcast weather with rain and wind.  Just to remind us of good ole blighty although Britain was sweltering at the time.

We were provided with another Turkish breakfast.  The one is Gerze was good but this was something else.  Ian was delighted as the eggs were fried. As well as all the usual bits for a Turkish breakfast we also had kuymak which is basically a cheese dip, which is a specialty of the region and then when we thought we couldn’t eat another thing up came some pide.  The food was never ending and plenty of tea.  The local mayor presented us “yabancilar” (foreigners to you and me) with a memorial plate which Tracey from Dusk accepted on our behalf.

After such a hearty breakfast we needed to burn off some of those calories so we were taken on a walking tour of the old town. One part had been painted by the residents and local artists and was very colourful.

We next visited a hazelnut factory which showed the process from the hazelnuts arriving at the factory, how they cracked the shells without breaking the nuts and a machine which picked out those within certain dimensions.

Our final visit of the day was to the Amber Tea factory which is a local co-operative established in 1988.  Seeing the process of how the leaves from a tree become tea leaves for your cuppa made me appreciate the effort that has gone into it.  Ian always appreciates his tea!

July 2022

More of the Black Sea … it’s a long coast!

There are no marinas along the Black Sea coast, just lots of fishing harbours.  You don’t get many yachts along this coast.  There is a saying that there are three safe harbours July, August and the town of Sinop.  The next harbour was a small one, Caylioglu, but what a welcome we received.  There was traditional dancing and music being played on our arrival. 

We were given cay (tea).  Ian can’t quite believe that there are people here who can out drink him on the tea front, that takes some beating.  We were then loaded into local buses and taken to a nearby town where we visited a church and then onto an arts school.  Here they produced fabric similar to linen from picking the plants and then weaving it all by hand on a loom.  It is a very long process to create the fabric.

The following morning after a very nice dinner the villagers served us with breakfast.  They were also preparing food for us for later which is normally what would be served at a wedding.  They certainly knew how to do cater for big numbers with the big metal pots, which we were all given the chance to stir.  It was very hot, so you wouldn’t want to be doing that for too long. 

As wood is plentiful many of the old houses were built with wood.  In fact when sailing, you have to avoid the twigs and branches, some of them quite big which have come down from the rivers and into the sea. 

David and Sarah from Wandering Star, were anchored in the bay and they joined us for a few drinks on the quayside where local musicians were entertaining us.  David proudly showed us his large bottle of beer he’d found and it was cheaper than the usual stuff.  Panic soon ensued when it was pointed out that it might be non alcoholic beer.  After some help of Google translate, I don’t know where we would be without that at times, we deciphered that the slogan translates as “alcohol is not your friend”.  Some big phews all around. 

After two nights we were making our way to Gerze.  This sail was my type of sailing, lovely and calm with the sun shining.  Now contrary to popular belief I don’t sit in the sun very often now but today I thought I’d lay on the trampoline, read my book and take in some rays.  How delusional was I.  Ten minutes in, barely time to get myself settled and I’m told the spinnaker is going up, a big sail, which, yes, you’ve guessed it, completely shaded the boat. 

Gerze is a tourist town for the Turkish, so it was quite lively in the evening with lots of people wandering along the waterfront, it’s a bit like being in a goldfish bowl.  Although one couple decided they’d venture a little bit further than that and plonk themselves on the back our boat and take some photos!!

The following morning we were given a wonderful Turkish breakfast, the best so far.  A Turkish breakfast consists of eggs (ours were boiled) jam, honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, pastries with cheese in (like spring rolls), bread and lots of cay (tea).  There can be other bits too we had some chips.

The first place we went to were some waterfalls.  We turned off main road and onto a narrow dirt track where in some places it was just about the width of the minibus and a sheer drop. Didn’t do much for the nerves. We hadn’t appreciated that we would have to trek down to the waterfalls but it was worth it.  There were some brave, I’m being kind, I’d call them mad who ventured into the water under the waterfall, which was very cold.  You didn’t need to be told it was cold the look on their faces said it all. 

Our last stop for the day was an old mansion house called Yakup Aga Mansion built in 1911 by Yakup Ağa’s father, Hacı Zekeriya Efendi, who immigrated from the Caucasus in 1864 and took refuge in Ottoman lands when the Russians forced Muslims to settle outside of Russia. 

It was an early start the next day 72 nm to Samsun which may not seem a lot by road but it was a 12 hour day. 

July 2022

Going East in the Black Sea

We left Kefken Avasi and sailed 55nm to Eregli (pronounced Erelee) which took us a little over nine hours.  The local mayor was hosting a dinner and we had just over an hour before we had to leave.  At this precise time the water pump decided to stop working which is not great when you want a shower.  Ian spent half an hour clambering around in the engine room and managed to get it working again.  He can be pretty useful at times!

We were taken by coach to a locally run municipal restaurant.  We picked up a couple of strays too, David and Sarah on Wandering Star. 

Our starter was a plate of various dips and other bits.  Talking to someone on the rally, they said you would normally expect Raki to accompany this plate but there was only water on the table and as it was a municipal event they weren’t expecting any.  Raki is a big favourite in Turkey, similar to Pernod.  Well, we just all needed to have a bit of patience as next out came the Raki glasses and the Raki. There was also music and dancing.  It was a great evening. 

Eregli is home to Hell’s Mouth Caves. Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek Mythology, visited the caves whilst searching for the Golden Fleece.  The Golden Fleece is the fleece of the ram that kidnapped the sacrificial children of Athamas, the king of Boetya, from Georgia.

The first cave is known as Church Cave and according to records it was named this as it was used by Christians to worship in secret, as they feared the paganists.

Heraclius Cave is down some very narrow steps.   Mythology says this is one of the entrances to the home of the underground God Hades and was where the battle of Heracles and the monster dog, Kerberus took place. 

The third cave is Ayazma, which means holy water. 

We next visited the City Museum which is situated in a 19th century Ottoman house over four floors.  Interestingly it had signs to tell you where to take “selfies”.  We also visited the “Alemdar” a ship used in the Turkish War of Independence.

Our view of Amsara

We had another long trip of 55nm.  Our rally commodore told us we should leave at 6am. Our schedule showed we were to do the circle of love. It takes a while to get everyone off the jetties so we thought we won’t rush. Ian’s thought was we’d get up at 6.30am, me on the more cautious side set the alarm for 6am which brought me out of a very deep sleep. I popped my head up into the saloon to discover just three boats left on the jetty one of which was already manoeuvring off. So, Ian not known for wanting to get up in the morning, leapt out of bed and by 6.06am we’d released the lines and we were off only to discover there was no circle of love after all and we could have had the extra half an hour! A nice sailing day with Ian’s pink spinnaker up.  We arrived in Asmara and tied up and this is the view of our time there.  The pontoon was for ferries and as a result was so steep we didn’t get off the boat. The Passarelle would have been vertical.  The youngsters from the local sailing club made bay leaf wreaths for us all. 

Thankfully the next port, Kurucasile, was just 16nm away.  So, as we got a lie in, we did a circle of love for the locals.  They must wonder what is going on when there are 20 odd boats going round and round in circles.  The pontoon wall at Kurucasile wasn’t quite as high this time but it was a case of sliding down on your backside to get back down the passarelle. 

Wooden boats are made here. There are lots of trees here so resources are readily available.  It was a struggle to get Ian away from here, as it’s his favourite subject, Boats!!!

Inebolu was our next stop, another early start, 5.55am, as we had places to see when we got there and was only there for the one night.  No, we aren’t hanging about, we have a lot of miles to cover in two months.  We were told that on this trip there is a maritime ritual when we pass Cape Kerempe that we must throw bread into the sea so as not to anger Poseidon, the God of the Sea in Greek Mythology. 

The sea was strange here, there were two quite distinctive colours which we believe is where a river runs into the sea.  There are lots of logs, twigs to try to avoid too.

During the Turkish War of Independence, arms and ammunition arrived in Inebolu from Istanbul.  The goods were then transferred by a dirt road to Ankara.  This route is known as the Independence Trail, Istiklal Yolu.  Inebolu was the only town in Turkey to be awarded the Independence medal for its efforts in the fight for independence. 

In 1925 Ataturk visited Inebolu and he made a speech launching his campaign to reform how the Turks dressed in a more western style.  It is known as the Hat and Dress Revolution.  As a result of this a law passed in late 1925 that made it mandatory for all men to wear Western style hats in public places, although it wasn’t compulsory to wear a hat.  There were stiff penalties for those who did not comply.

July 2022

Black Sea Rally – we’re rocking!

Having arrived in Sile (Sheelay) on Friday 1st July, we were due to be here for just two nights.  Well, the wind had different ideas to that and so we were port bound at the second hurdle and stayed four nights instead.

Our first full day in Sile was a tour of the town and our first stop was a textile centre where they made Sile Beze.  The yarn for the cloth is put in a flour like paste and boiled.  It is then woven into fabric on looms then washed in the sea and left to dry on the sand.  The fabric is similar to cheesecloth.  There are four centres in the area and they were set up to provide employment for women.  There are currently 500 women employed and no one is turned away who wants work. 

Our next port of call was the Life boat centre.  It was originally set up by the British and French in 1869 for the Crimean war. 

Sile has a castle and a lighthouse.  The castle is 12th century overlooking the harbour and was restored in 2015.  The lighthouse, which has the longest range in Turkey, was constructed in 1859 to guide the ships from the Black Sea into the Bosporus during the Crimean war. 

Sakligol, a hidden lake, is a manmade lake a few miles out of town. It is a beautiful setting and many people go there to propose or to renew their wedding vows.  So, as we’d not been on a boat for about five hours, we took a boat ride along the lake. 

We were having dinner with the Mayor of Sile.  So, after visiting the lake, we naturally assumed we’d go back to the boat and have a quick freshen up beforehand as we’d been out since 10.30.  Lesson learned, never assume. 

As we had longer in Sile than originally anticipated Sunday was a free day which meant catching up with chores, particularly as we have a packed itinerary.  Ian was very pleased it was a free day as it was the British Grand Prix so he watched it with some of the other guys, followed by Mexican dominoes on Cuffysark, if you’ve never heard of this game look it up, great fun.  We had a long day the following day so sensibly, of course not, well you knew it wouldn’t last, this time we didn’t have an early night! 

The next day so as not to miss the sights we were due to see at the next port we had a coach take us there.  It was a rocking day and I don’t mean in the musical sense.  We first visited a site where they created charcoal.  Next we took, yes another boat trip, down the Goksu river.  A novel way to cross the river in a carriage on wire. 

The landscape along the coast is quite spectacular, with some unusual rock formations and we visited a few sites.  The coach took us down some dirt track roads and then off road up and down the fire break in the hillside, who’d have thought we’d be doing that in a coach. 

We visited the small village of Kerpe, where youngsters were jumping off the side of the rock formations.  Can you spot a pair of legs in the air?  The young lad jumped from the large rock on the right hand side. 

We also visited Pembe Kayalar, Pink Rock, which is an ancient quarry.  Stone from here is believed to have been used in the construction of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. 

We had lunch on the edge of a river where the fish were fighting over the bread.  Quite a funny thing to see with the bread going round and round where the fish were chasing it.

The weather was more in our favour and so after four nights in Sile we set sail for Kefken Adasi, a small island with a sheltered harbour, to anchor for the night.  Before we could make our way we had to show our appreciation to Sile for its hospitality and we did the circle of love, which means going round in a circle a few times before heading off. The coastguard was in the middle doing is own circle.

We managed to sail to the anchorage rather than motor but sadly we had a particularly big gust of wind and Ian’s beloved code zero, a sail to you landlubbers, was no more.  He’s had his eye on a new sail for a while, hmmm. 

July 2022

Black Sea Rally – The Bosporus

We are taking part in a Black Sea Rally organised by DaDD, a Turkish Amateur Sailing Association of whom we are now members, which takes us along the North Turkish Coast into Georgia and back again.  We will cover approx. 1400 miles over 66 days.  The itinerary includes lot of excursions, dinners, some being hosted by the Mayors’ of local towns, lunches, receptions, breakfasts and a host of other stuff.  We think we’ll need a holiday once this is all over because as you know this is not a holiday it’s a way of life!

So being a little behind with the blogs I’m going to do some out of order and go back to where we’ve been over the last few months at a later stage. 

The Rally has just over 20 boats and are mainly Turkish sailors with some Brits, Americans, French and Slovenians thrown in.  Ismail, our Commodore for the Rally, has to repeat everything in English.  Although many of the Turkish sailors also speak pretty good English, so are all translating for us when needed.  They are a very friendly bunch.

We arrived in Kiyi Marina, which is not fully operational as yet, but is very nice, a week before the start of the rally.  The marina put on a welcome cocktail party for us and a couple of days sightseeing in Istanbul.  We opted out of one of the days as we had visited Istanbul, just two years ago. 

You will see from the photo that we have been provided with a uniform, white t-shirts with DaDD rally logos on, which we’ve been asked to wear at all events and excursions.  No worrying about what to wear most days. 

Our trip to Istanbul was an early start, 8.00am.  We had quite a whirl of a day, little did we realise that this is setting the pace for the duration of the rally.  We visited Miniaturk, which is models of various buildings around Turkey.  One of them being a Knitting Column, not quite sure how you’d knit with that!

We next went to Istanbul Rhami M Koc Museum which has a wide range of industrial heritage in communication and transportation.  We saw trains, planes, automobiles, boats and a submarine. 

The opening DaDD rally dinner was the night before we left to start our trip, always a good idea, but we were sensible as we had to be up at 6.30am the following morning as we had 59 miles to cover and this included currents of up to 3/4 knots against us, plus taking into consideration the wind it can be a bit of slog going up the Bosphorus.  In normal circumstances it is not permitted to sail in the Bosphorus however, we had been given permission to do so, which pleased Ian no end, as last time he was ordered by the Coastguard to take his sails down despite telling them he had his engines on too, they weren’t having any of it. The Bosphorus is quite a busy shipping lane with over 45,000 ships passing along it annually.  However, for our passage through it was closed to ships until 4pm.  It was, we were advised Nautical Bayram, and this was probably behind the decision.  We were asked to follow in a line as we entered the Bosphorus and it was quite a sight, not that Ian kept in line, but hey what’s new. 

We had nice conditions for the trip and it took us two and half hours to pass along the Bosphorus, so all in all from Kiyi Marina to Sile, pronounced Sheelay it was a ten hour trip.  We were looking forward to flopping out after a long trip but no we’d been invited by the mayor to the town of Agva Merkez, about 45mins away by coach, for a  boat cortege and a concert.  So quick turnaround for dinner and shower and off we went. The cortege was small fishing boats, full of people, going along the river and back again, lots of loud music, singing, fireworks and guns being shot in the air.  Some of us were able to go on one one the boats which lasted about 15 mins.  We then stayed a while for the concert by Zehra, who is a Turkish Pop singer and from the amount of people singing along is well known. 

July 2022