The Dardanelles and out into the Aegean Sea

We left Avsa Adasi and headed off. We anchored in a small harbour, Lapseki,  just before the 1915 Canakkale bridge as we didn’t fancy mooring up in Canakkale with such strong winds.  Yes, the wind was still with us, this Meltemi (very strong wind) was lasting for longer than usual.  We had two reefs in the mast and a reefed gib this time.  Our fastest speed on this trip surfing down waves was was 15.4knots.  Ian and John thought it was great, not me so much!

We arrived in Canakkale the next day in calmer weather.  John and Ian did a guided tour of Gallipoli, visiting the war graves.  As we’d already been before I decided to stay on the boat, put my feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet, I wish!!  The boat had so much salt on it from our time in Avsa and the inside needed cleaning so that’s was my day, cleaning inside and out.  Yes, I just sat down as the boys arrived back. 

We’d been to Cannakkale a couple of times before but we’d not been to the Naval Museum before.  We only chanced upon it so decided to pay a visit. 

Part of the wreckage of a German submarine, UB46, is displayed here.  She sank four ships during her six months career.  In early December 1916, in the Black Sea near to the entrance of the Bosphorus she hit a mine and sank.  The wreckage was found on the shores of Akpinar Village during open cast coal mining in September 1993. 

These are net anchors used to prevent submarines passing through the straits

A replica of the Ottoman navy ship, The Nusret, is moored here.  She was a minelayer during the Gallipoli campaign.  The Nusret laid 26 mines in an unexpected position in February 1915 and sank HMS Irresistible, HMS Ocean and the French battleship Bouvet, and left the British battle cruiser HMS Inflexible badly damaged. 

Within the museum is Çimenlik Castle.  The castle is located on the narrowest part of the Dardanelles and was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1462 to protect the Dardanelles.

Ian always says that the cheapest beer in Turkey is in Canakkale.  The bar is basic inside but sitting outside with a table it’s no different to any of the other bars along the promenade.  So for 32tl (£1.50) we stopped for one, well perhaps a couple. The Turkish guys behind us gave it the thumbs up 😁

Whilst here we heard the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth.  It was headline news even here in Turkey.  We paid our respects by dropping our flag to half mast. 

We wanted to go to the harbour at Assos, but the wind has to be fairly light as it’s very narrow and shallow so not the easiest place to get into but we managed it, mooring up bow to.  To get off the boat you have to step onto the wall next to the tables for the hotel restaurant.  The moon here was amazing unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it justice. 

Men at Work

We arrived at Ayvalik and managed to get a spot in the marina here.  The only available place for us meant walking through a building site, literally, while they were digging up the concrete, in the boat yard.  This is where Johnny would be leaving us after his trip starting at Sile in the Black Sea, down the Bosperous, to Istanbul, Cannakale for Gallipoli and to final stop Ayvalik.  He’d covered a good few miles with us. 

Here we met up with Serafina and we had dinner aboard Cuffysark.  Colin played a few tunes on his guitar.  We had a great night on Johnny’s penultimate night. 

The island of Cunda is connected to Ayvalik via the Ayvalık Strait Bridge, we’d not been before so we decided to make a visit.  The town is a very quaint.

The Taksiyarhis Church houses another of the Rahmi Koç Museums.  The Church was in a very dilapidated state but it was restored over 22 months and opened as a Rahmi Koç museum in 2014.  The restoration of the church is fabulous There are three Rahmi Koç museums in Turkey, one in Ankara, one in Istanbul and the other in Cunda.  We have now visited all three.  The museums feature mechanical and industrial objects.  The one in Cunda included a wide range of toys. 

September 2022

The final leg and back south we go

Fish from the fisherman

We were now getting near to the end of our Black Sea trip.  We left Amasra and headed to a fishing harbour at Kilimli.  The locals rushed to help us with our lines.  A little later a guy arrived with a bag of fish, freshly caught and he insisted we take it.  I had two on the bbq and made fish cakes with the remaining four.  We discovered that they were Palamut (Bonito) which is a mackerel type fish. 

We next arrived at Akçakoca which has a mosque that looks quite impressive from the sea.  It was different to the usual mosques you see, it was a white modern building with a roof that is inspired by the Seljuk Bristle Tent rather than the usual single roof system.  Construction started in 1989 and it was opened in 2004. 

The town was named after a 14th century, Akçakoca Bey, a Turkish chieftain who captured the area for the Ottoman Empire during the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. 

Along the seafront was a long row of head busts which there is no information about.  However, with some research on one of the busts we believe the head busts relate to people who founded Turkish states, not necessarily within Turkey and for how long that state existed. 

We next went to one of the two anchorages in the Black Sea, Kefken Island, which is in fact a safe refuge for boats.  We stayed here for a couple of nights taking in the tranquillity before we headed off to Sile where our good friend John was meeting us so he could take the journey down the Bosporus with us.

We were visiting Istanbul for the third time this year.  Everywhere was, very very busy lots of queues, not like when we visited in 2020 where we walked straight into places.  Much better for the local economy but not so good for visiting.  We did venture into the Blue Mosque but it was still being renovated although the roof has now been completed.  It was difficult to see as there is so much scaffolding in the building. 

We took John to the only bar in Istanbul we could find previously that sold a beer.  This is where you need to keep your hands in as the tram is touching distance. We also had a cay in the Grand Bazaar.

We’re headed back to another place we’d already been to, West Istanbul Marina, this was so that Ian could replace the fixed prop for a new folding prop replacing the one we, that’s the Royal we, managed to loose.  So up Cuffysark goes again but this time stayed in the slings for a changeover and then dropped back down again.  We saw some ducks have a meeting on the quay. 

There were some strong winds forecast and so we headed to our safe haven on Avasi Island.  The wind was between 18 and 25 knots, thankfully down wind and we were surfing on waves getting up to a maximum speed of 13.4 knots.  You can see how much of the sails are reefed, so those who know Ian, will realise it must have been very windy for him to reef this much! We saw a big group of dolphins.  One of the things we noticed in the Black sea was it was rare not to see dolphins on any trip.

The following morning the wind was so strong we were being pushed on the wall more than we liked so there was nothing for it but to move the boat to the other side of the harbour, which was no mean feat.  With the help of some locals we manged to tie up Cuffysark on the other side which was much calmer. 

The sun hadn’t been out much so Ian decided he would put the generator on which hadn’t been used in nearly two years so as a result he had to do a bit of maintenance.  I was cleaning the side of the boat as the other side of the harbour had lovely new black tyres which leave a big black mark on the boat.  I suddenly heard those immortal words “ oh f**k”.  Next things Ian’s stripping off and jumped into the water to retrieve the cover of the generator.  Panic over!  You’ll be pleased to know he got the generator working. 

We took a taxi into Avasi town and had a nice lunch along the sea front.  Still very windy but hot.  One of the local dogs dug himself a hole in the sand under a table to keep cool and out of the sun. 

September 2022

Sinop to Amasra

After five nights moored in Samsun we now had a long trip to Sinop, 70nm.  It took us 11.5 hours where we anchored up in front of the city walls in the fishing harbour.  We were woken at 1.30am to a boat hooting its horn and what we thought sounded like fireworks.  This couldn’t be possible it was 1.30 in the morning.  Oh yes it was. A fishing boat was arriving in the harbour and it also had it lights on full blare.  There is no fishing allowed until September to allow the fish to lay their eggs so not sure what the occasion was. 

Sinop castle and city walls were built around 800BC.  Surprisingly at the top was a bar and it actually sold beer.  Not quite what we’d expected.  There is a Statue of Diogenes, an Ancient Greek philosopher who was born in Sinop in about 412 BC.  The monument is 18 ft tall and shows Diognenes standing with his dog on his dwelling barrel 

One of Turkey’s oldest prisons is in Sinop.  It is undergoing renovations so it was closed when we visited.  It was opened in 1887 and closed down in 1997.  The prison was high security with no possibility of escape due to the fact it was within the castle walls. The prison guard would walk along the walkway on top of the walls patrolling the prison.

Sinop Hamam

During our walk we came across two mounds which looked of mud like construction.  Ian spoke to one of the locals and managed to decipher that the mounds were part of the hamam (Turkish bath). 

I mentioned before that anchorages are rare in the Black Sea, however, there is a lovely one just 12 miles north of Sinop.  It was so lovely to be in a bay somewhere.  So much so we stayed a couple of nights.

Akilman anchorage

We spent the next few days hopping along the coast popping into fishing harbours.  We didn’t have much wind, in fact one day it was like a mill pond.

Flat as a mill pond

Konakli, was quite picturesque and we anchored in the middle of the harbour.  Then onto Doganyurt.  A strange place in the fact it’s a small village and yet there was a wide array of shops here, kitchen showroom, bathrooms, car motor accessories, gas, petrol station, taxi rank and three supermarket chains.  Friday was market day with half a dozen stalls.  Although one greengrocer had his stall set out the night before, no worry that it wouldn’t be there the next day.  There were a lot of stray dogs here, not unfriendly but sad to see.  A common sight in Turkey and Europe.  Strays is not something we have in the UK.  It is automatically assumed in the UK if a dog is wandering about on its own it must have escaped from its owner, which is normally the case. 

Cide our next hop, is a tourist hot spot with a long beach lined with restaurants and hotels.  It is the birth place of acclaimed Turkish writer Rifat Ilgaz who was a teacher, writer and poet who produced 60 works. He was born in Cide in 1911and returned there to live in about 1975 however after being arrested in 1981, he eventually returned to Istanbul where he passed away in 1993.  The house we visited was where he was born and raised.  He was prosecuted for some of his work and as a result was sentenced to five and half years in prison, of which due to ill health amnesty did not complete the whole sentence in prison.

We were walking back down to the seafront to get some dinner and we saw a sight you wouldn’t expect to see.  Casually walking along the pavement, not the road, was a donkey. 

Taking a stroll

On the way back to the boat we noticed there was a wedding taking place on the beach and on closer inspection (being nosy) it appeared that anyone could go and sit and watch not just official guests.  We’ve seen a lot of brides and grooms on our travels.  They are often having photos taken in some unusual places. 

We were next calling into Amasra.  We moored up here going East on the Black Sea, but unfortunately the quay side was so high we didn’t get off the boat.  This time we were able to moor up right at the end, alongside and so we had no issue getting off.  Amasra wasn’t what we expected.  This is a big tourist town, with lots of tourists’ shops, pide restaurants and lots and lots of tourists.  The beach was just a mass of people, a very popular holiday resort.  There is an island here which is reached via Kemere bridge.  The one arch bridge was built in the 9th century AD. 

August 2022

Going West and discovering the little gem of “Amasya”

Giant Teacup

We left Hopa and headed to Rize.  There are lots of harbours, mainly fishing along this coast.  We went into the harbour at Rize, a short walk from a very large tea cup.  We were greeted with a warm welcome by the coastguard.  We were only staying the one night but while there the petrol station was close by so it was convenient to get some diesel.  It turned out even more convenient when the Coastguard very kindly took us across to the petrol station in their car after they gave us tea. 

Gorele Ice cream

We hopped along the coast to Akcabaat and then to Gorele which is famous for its ice-cream.  Along one side of the town square are stalls selling ice-cream with seating areas.  Lots of the town come along and enjoy an ice-cream.  Görele ice cream has a different consistency to other ice-cream, when it was held up it stretched as though it was stringy.  It was very nice. 

There was another petrol station close by so Ian decided to get another can filled while we were here.  This time he had to go under his own steam, or scooter should I say.

We were getting a bit of a stomp on over the next couple of days ending up in Fatsa.  From here we took a local dolmus (bus) to Boloman.  Overlooking the harbour is Boloman castle, the history is a bit vague but it is thought it was built by the Kingdom of Pontus as a watchtower anytime between 280bc and 63 bc.  In the 18th century, a wooden mansion, Haznedaroğlu Mansion”, was built on the inner castle.

From Fatsa we headed to Terme.  There was a harbour here but it was calm and so we anchored outside.  It was lovely to be out on anchor again even if for just one night.  Ian cleaned the hulls of Cuffysark here, unfortunately there were lots of jellyfish and they took a few bites out of him.

Our next stop was Samsun, we moored Cuffysark in the sailing club and headed off to Amasya for a couple of days.  We’ve been told this was a fabulous place and wow it really was.  This is one of those places that you’ll remember when you look back.  Going to so many places you do struggle sometimes to recall them, it’s our age.  Buses are a big mode of transport here and cheap so we took the bus and arrived in Amasya a couple of hours later.  We stayed in an Ottoman hotel, which we were informed was 200 years old and original. 

Ottoman houses from the 19th and 20th centuries line one side of the river. Above them carved into Harşena Mountain are the tombs of the Pontus Kings and Amasya Castle, AKA Harşena Castle.  The Pontus Kings ruled Amasya from 333BC to 26AD and it is believed they also built the castle.

We decided it was a long way to walk up to the entrance to the castle so we took a taxi.  We came out and saw a bright yellow car, thinking good, a taxi.  There was no driver inside or anyone around then we realised it was just a yellow car not a taxi so there was nothing for it but to walk.  We stopped for a nice cold freshly squeezed orange juice half way down.  The views over the town were worth the walk, down at least!

There are tombs carved into the mountain side that belong to the Pontic Kings. We’d just walked down from the castle and so decided not to go up to them.  But we managed a picture from one of the museums.

We visited the “Archaeological and Mummy Museum”.  Yes, the museum housed the mummified remains of eight people from the 14th Century.  The mummies were an Anatolian Minister and a Governor and his family.  Examinations were made of the mummies and it is possible to determine how they died and estimate their ages.  One of the mummies was “Isbuğa Nuyin”, he was the Emir of Amasya.  He died in 1320 and it was determined that he died at the age of 35-40 and that he had arthritis.  Apparently Egyptian mummies have no internal organs these mummies differ as these mummies do. 

The Sultan Bayezid II Complex is also located here and was built between 1482 and 1486 for the Sultan.  The complex includes a mosque, cultivation (workhouse), water-tank with a fountain, hospital and a madrasah (school for Muslim education).   

The hospital is now a museum.  There were instruments for various medical procedures.  This one was for removing the placenta after child birth.  Ouch!!

The hotel recommended that we go to one of the restaurants up on the hillside as to see Amasya at night is quite spectacular.  So we took his advice and it definitely was.  On our way back to the hotel there was quite a crowd sitting alongside the river.  There were water fountains dancing to music. 

There was even a waterfall here, albeit we believe man made.  Someone had a sense of humour as one of the Ottoman’s was taking a selfie, yes he had a mobile phone in his hand.

There’s lots to see here so more museums.  The Sehzadeler Museum, AKA Princes Museum, is in fact wax works. 

The Hazeranlar Mansion was built in 1865.  The house is arranged in haremlik and selamlık .  A haremlik was the private section of an upper-class Ottoman home and the selamlik, the public area or reception rooms, used only by men in traditional Islamic society.  There is also a model village of Amsaya

Amasya a wonderful town with lots to see and very picturesque. 

Final stop in Turkey and into Georgia

We had reached the last port we were stopping at on the Turkish coast of the Black Sea which was Hopa, a commercial harbour. 

We were visiting Ciha Castle. Up into mountain’s, another road, well it wasn’t a road more of a wide footpath or was probably built for horse and carts but definitely not for cars in particular mini buses. We stopped so far up and then we were to walk the rest of the way.  Ian, for once, had some sense and stayed with the mini buses along with some other sensibly minded people, already sensing this was going to be more of a climb.

We started the walk and then went off the dirt track road.  It got harder and harder with the track being some down trodden greenery and rocks.  I should have realised when I saw the guide with a very large knife in his hand needed to cut his way through that this wasn’t your usual trek.  I kept looking for David and Sarah of Wandering Star, as this walk was definitely one of those that you were told not far and it will be easy.  I got a stone’s throw from the top and where the castle was, but along with some others we had to retreat back down.  We were told later that no international tourists had ever been up to the castle, I now know why. 

Mencuna Waterfall

We next visited the Mencuna waterfalls which were spectacular.  They are about 90metres high and Turkey’s highest.  After our mountain trek earlier we were told this was just a 700metre walk, uphill mind you.  We’d been walking 10 minutes and then saw the sign which said 500metres to the waterfall.  It was worth the walk up though. 

We were heading to Poti in Georgia just for a couple of days.  We were leaving at 6am but we had to check out of Turkey first.  We got our passports back at 2am, so not much sleep. We had just moored up and a guy came up to the boat and said “Hi Ian”. Now Ian was a little taken aback as he didn’t know the guy.  It transpires he was from the port authority and was British and he had googled the rally when he heard we were coming and found our blog.  His name was also Ian, so Ian if you are reading this, Hi, it was great to meet you and chat.

We had a wonderful welcome from the town of Poti.  They put on a concert for us with singing from the elder generation to the younger ones.  It was a very enjoyable evening. 

The next day we were due to go to Batumi, which was just over 45 miles back near the Turkish border.  We weren’t able to moor up at Batumi hence the reason for being at Poti in the commercial harbour.  We had checked the start time for the trip with one of the organisers and told it was 10 o’clock.  Ian being slow in the morning, so I was trying to gee him up to get us to the buses as we’d seen other people leaving about 9.45.  We finally left the boat at 10am, rushing along as the buses were five minutes away.  We arrived and no buses or people in sight, so after a few choice words between us, we came to the conclusion that the buses must have already left.  Oh well it’s our own fault we were late.  So off we went to discover what Poti had to offer.  It turns out that the start time had in fact changed, which we weren’t made aware of and we were 25 mins early. But we had the day to ourselves which wasn’t such a bad thing.

All roads lead to Poti Cathedral which is in the centre of town next to the park.  The location was chosen by Niko Nikoladze , the mayor of Poti, so that it could be seen from every side of the town.  The cathedral was built in 1906-07 and is an imitation of the Hagia Sopia in Istanbul but on a reduced scale. 

We also took a walk down to Poti Lighthouse which was built by “Easton Amos & Sons” an English company in 1862.  It was then transported by steamship to Georgia where is was assembled by British engineers.  It is made of cast iron, is 36.6m high and has a range of 17nm.  There are 160 steps to the top.  Just alongside the lighthouse is a very large cemetery.  Each of the grave stones shows a picture of the departed and some had tables and chairs set in stone/marble for their loved ones to come and sit with them. What a lovely thing.

We were now off back to Hopa in Turkey.  By the time we arrived back at Hopa we had made the decision to cut short our participation in the rally.  Unfortunately, we didn’t obey orders, yes they were the words used, although we had informed the necessary person of our intentions and reasons.  Orders and obey don’t belong on a sailing rally.  The programme was very busy, plus a few other things and so we decided to do the return journey along the Black Sea coast solo and take things at our own pace.  We are glad we’d spent a month with the rally as we saw some places we wouldn’t have done on our own and we had the pleasure of meeting a great crowd of people.  We appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting a rally like this together and we thanked the organisers for doing so and we wished the group all the best for the rest of their trip.  

August 2022

Black Sea – reaching the end of the Turkish coast

Chained together

We were due to leave Tirebulo at 8 o’clock, we were just contemplating getting up when we could hear, “Cuffysark”.  I obviously got up, and there was Dusk with our anchor hooked up on their anchor.  This is bound to happen at some time when there are so many boats moored up together in med mooring style.  Med Mooring is where you drop your anchor and then reverse up against a quay and tie up on the quay.  It can be quite easy for a chain to lay across someone else’s’ as boats are moored up close together.  Dusk didn’t take long and we were off the hook!

We attended the Sis Dag (Fog Mountain) Cultural Festival in the Salpazari district of Trabzon, that has been held for 200 years, 2022 was the 201st such festival. Sis Dag is over 2,000 metres high.  Villagers from all around flock to the area where there is a market, music, dancing and lots of food stalls.  There were cows wandering around too.  There is a traditional dance where it starts with people dancing in a line holding hands and it gets bigger and bigger and ends up around the hill side.  Many of the villagers are in traditional costumes.  On the food stalls there are piles and piles of loaves of bread which we believe is sour dough and they are big and heavy. You could certainly build your muscles up carrying a couple of these.  The fog did come in during our time on the mountain. 

You do have to smile at times with how the Turkish deal with situations.  On our journey to the festival we go through a town and there’s a car blocking the road, the driver had just popped into the shop.  The bus driver hops out of his seat, gets into the car, expecting the keys to be in the ignition, absolutely they were, moved the car out the way and off we went on our journey.  No drama no road rage, problem solved. 

The journey was up some very steep dirt track roads.  Unfortunately, the bus we were on wasn’t too happy with this and as a consequence was damaged.  So off we all get and also those on the other bus.  There was a café just around the corner, so off we went.  Ian jokingly asked one of our fellow Turkish sailors, “do you think they’ll have some beer?”.  No of course not, we are in a very dry part of Turkey.  So of we go, order our tea, when we discover someone had eagle eyes and had found they did sell beer.  This small café in the middle of nowhere did a roaring trade that afternoon and it made the time we were waiting for another bus much more pleasant. 

We are nearing the end of the Turkish coast on the Black Sea and our next port was Trabzon.   We arrived and had a tour of the city first visiting the Hagia Sofia, yes there is also one in Istanbul.  It was originally a Greek orthodox church which was converted into a mosque in 1584, then in 1964 into a museum.  In 2013 it was back to being a mosque again.  

We also visited the Ataturk Pavilion, which was a lovely building.  Ataturk thought so too and as a result the city gifted him the house which he only stayed in a few days.  The Pavilion was opened up as a museum after his death. 

Trabzon is home to the Sumela Monastery which sits on the side of a mountain.  It was founded in the 4th century by two monks names Barnabas and Sophronios, who came from Athens and built a small church here. The monastery was expanded during the Byzantine Empire and was used until 1923. 

Now we’ve been to a factory where they convert the leaves to tea leaves for your cuppa.  This time we visited a tea farm.  The tea leaves are on bushes and it is just the tips of the bushes that are cut.

The following day was a bit of a different activity with zip lining and water rafting in Firtina Creek.  Ian joined in with this. I sat and looked after a few people’s bags, not my thing. 

We went up into the mountains and visited Zil Kale, the views were stunning.  The landscape is amazing here. 

We had one more Turkish port to visit and then we would be off to Georgia.

August 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