Tuesday, 30 April 2013

In Gocek marina

There is more than one marina at Gocek. We are in the most down-market one which happens to be the best situated should we need to take Stroemhella out of the water (because of her leaking stern gland).
But it has the most superb modern facilities (like showers, pretty cafes shaded by palm trees and so forth).
Today we had a visit from a mechanic recommended to us by Wim van Dam, neighbourly Dutchman from Rotterdam, and were promised that a couple of hours' work tomorrow morning (the first of May, to boot!) and all should be well.
Meanwhile we dream of oranges and pomegranates and wonder sbout the inauguration of the Dutch monarch (first king for a long time) and feel completely happy, David having constructed a clever wind funnel which effectively vools the interior of Stroemhella. And last night there were no mosquitoes inside my net!

Here is Stroemhella at the jetty in Knidos.

Dalyan and the Lycian wall tombs

The days are long, the weather grows warmer, we chug acoss the smooth waters in the morning and arrive in the early afternoon at another enchanted spot. For instance, Ekincek, "My Marina": quite the most beautiful marina we have ever been to. Carefully tended plants, the wheely-bins demurely covered in hessian coats, the setting truly awesome, steep rugged rocky backdrop, clear clear water (David actually swam here).
Too early in the season for the restaurant to be open. We didn't mind, being still well-stocked with food we'd bought way back in Kusadasi.

This is David and me very happy after the day's trip up-river to Dalyan.

We met Laura and Mark on their beautiful yacht Sabbatical III, also moored in Ekincek. Together we arranged a trip up the river Dalyan, past the Lycian wall tombs (reminded me of the wall tombs near Persepolis). This seems to be a "must". So Mark haggled for us and we agreed on a suitable price and arranged to meet our exclusive river boat and guide at 9 a.m.  next morning.

It was wonderful. Worth every penny! Our guide, Abidin Kurt, is a real expert. He was born in Dalyan and knows the are inside out. And a superb story-teller. Here he is seated in the boat we hired for the day, explaining the history of the Lycians.

We moved slowly up the river, between tall bullrushes, the mountains purpling in the distance, shaded from the sun in our little boat.
Abidin told us about the Lycians, and their conflict with the Persians; all this pre-dating the Romans. I begin to gain a picture of the jigwas puzzle.

We had lunch in another enchated spot, across the water from the Lycian tombs.
And after more wanderings round remains of cities and sniffing round modern markets, we returnbed to the boat and so back to Ekincek.

The theatre at Caunos, gradually being restored to become a historic museum.

An unforgettable day...

Bodrum and its Crusader castle

The Maltese cross is carved over the doorways, the tops of the walls are crenellated, the windows are square. But the small chapel in the grounds was once converted into a mosque and retains its minaret (now houses a model of a 5th-century ship's hull). The castle was shut (for some mysterious reason) the first day we arrived in Bodrum. So Karen didn't get to see it. (That's for next time.) But the following day (Tuesday 23 April) David and I spent a few enchanted hours inside the spacious castle grounds, viewing the fascinating collections of pots and crocks dredged up from sunk ships 50 fathoms deep (to be poetic... in fact I believe it was about 50 meters deep) and pondering upon the various buildings and wondering what once they were used for. One small room housed a model (reconstruction) of a Lycian princess, her skeleton in a sarcophagus and some of her jewellery, and a life-size figure of what she might have looked like, based on calculations from the skeleton (made by a team at Manchester university). She has the typically square-jawed face that seems to belong to the Lycians. We were told more about this by our knowledgeable guide, Abidin Kurt, who took us up the river Dalyan when we were moored in Ekincik.
There was also -- oh joy -- a MALE sphinx, complete with beard and drooping mustache and a very Persian-looking headpiece. Dated to the mid-fourth century BCE. Must find out more about him. He has wings and lion's haunches. A fine discovery.
I didn't take any photos in Bodrun but it's easy to access views on google. Delightful city. Early on the Tuesday morning David accompanied Karen to the Otopark (coach station) and saw her off on the first leg of her trip back to Izmire, Istanbul and thence to Amsterdam.
The next day, windless morning, we set off after a lazy breakfast and a visit from Jayanthi Jayaraman whom we had met yetserday in Bodrum castle. We had invited her and her friend Alifiya to come out in the boat for a short (??sail) trip, but they felt it might take too much time. So we exchanged emails (that's the way it is nowadays) and who knows we may meet again in Bangalore!

We chugged across the bay to Knidos, where we moored at the jetty and had a walk along a stretch of the coast, littered with the huge tumbled stones of Greek or Roman buildings. Once Knidos had been a thriving harbour. Now nothing remains.
We ate a fish stew made from (?) guppy sitting in the otherwise deserted restaurant, overlooking the harbour, and watched the moon rise.
Almost full moon. Great stillness. Just a few moaning wheezers (mosquitoes!) to spoil the peace.

the ever-rolling stream and all that...

Well, sorry to have left my devoted readers in such suspense, me pausing for lunch in the midst of the anchor-chain dragging narrative...
All went well and David successfully detached our anchor from the mooring chain of a local Bodrum gulit, and then we chugged off to a protected cove where we spent the night peacefully, me on anchor-watch (which meant waking every 2-and-a-half hours to check on the gps screen that our position had not changed, logitudes and latitudes the same). All very stimulating. Having had several nights' excellent slumber I had no problem in rousing myself: the only difficult waking was at 12.30 (just after midnight) when I was in my deepest sleep. Useful information for night watches...

The next day we rounded the headland and moored in Bodrum. Lovely marina, beautidul city.
More to come about the intervening days. Now I must hang up the washing ...

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Seaweed and dragging anchor...

This is a tale of heroic proportions, of fortitude in the face of peril, and so forth...
We arrived in a small bay just around the headland from Bodrum, and cast anchor, for a late lunch. Difficult, lots of weed, but finally David thought it held, though he didn't reverse at full strength nor did he turn on the anchor alarm.
We had another of Karen's colourful salad lunches and all felt very happy, quite a bit of breeze but the boat seemed steady.
After clearing away I installed my new DigiD and then David and Karen started looking at the stern gland which was leaking, and were trying to solve this... when a mighty shout arose from outside, together with a strange grating creaking sound on the hull of Stroemhella ... we rushed onto the deck (yes I know one should never rush on a yacht!!) only to see a row of gullets moored close by and a lot of Turkish sailors motioning us to move away fast... we had dragged our anchor right acoss the bay.
Unfortunately, we could not locate our anchor (David had not dropped the tripping-line float!) and even more sad was David's discovery, when he did find our anchor emergeing from the bottom, that it was entangled with the chain of one of the Turkish gullets.
I now have to pause for lunch (salad of course) and will continue this tale of fearsome fortitude once we have hung up the washing and other household delights...
The picture shows a passageway in the temple of Apollo at Didyma.

From Didyma to Bodrum

Rightly, I now beleive, this stretch of the Turkish coast is famed far and wide. It is littered (ha ha) with ancient Graeco-Roman remains, many temples and theatres alas felled by earthquakes; but the temple we visited in Didum (Didyma) is still an awesome sight.
The day was warm and clear, a pleasant breeze to counteract swelter.
There were very few visitors, and all was very peacedful.
A wall has been built around the temple site (in the early 20th century) and the fallen columns and statues have been cleared and organized to a certain extent.

David, Karen and I found a fine spot where I could sit in the shade and the others in the sun, and had our late lunch (delicious crunchy cucumbers, wholemeal bread with thin slices of goats' cheese, a few dates, and all washed down with cool water).
After walking all round the ruins, we rested and thought about Time. Oldest part of this temple dates from 7th century BCE.
I pretended to be Nike (goddess of Victory) and then a Guardian Angel while David snoozed, dreaming of space...

After resting a while we set off on the long walk home. About five kilometres... finally we saw the sea and knew we were approaching our goal.

Interesting decoration on this fluted pillar base.

And I almost forgot the tortoise, quietly crawling through the grassy surrounds of another pillar base

And do not forget the griffon.

Tomorrow we sail on towards Bodrum, about a four-hour journey. Weather promises to be good.
But we were to have a big adventure with a dragging anchor: to be detailed in the following instalment.

like sailing to Byzantium...

The days are so filled with details, with new sights and tastes and also recollections of past pleasures, kaleidoscoping across our memories...
We said farewell for a while to all the friends at Kusadasi and told of our hope to return (one never quite knows what will happen when dependent on wind and waves...)
David, Karen and I sailed out of the harbour on a beautiful sunny morning with a wind from the northwest.
We headed for the Straits of Samos. The wind roughening the waves, and we heeled about 45 degrees. Karen was amazing: she has never sailed in a small yacht before and not a shriek nor a squeak did she utter. But we both got very cold (under-dressed) and asked David to prepare the bunks inside. Ans there we slept for several hours. All through Samos straits and past Port St. Paul... David was a superb capitano and made Karen a hot-water bottle, and offered us suitable dry biscuits to munch if needed.
And so after an eight-hour sail we reached Didyma (Didum) which has a very new marina outside the town. The city is an ancient port (some remains dating from 8th (?) century BCE and the entrance easy (I steered in while David announced our arrival on the marifone).
All was peaceful, the stars appeared in the silent sky, we had (as ever) a splendid supper. And deep sleep.
The following day we planned an expedition to the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. That was after a salad lunch prepared by Karen: most colourful, mauve flower petals, green lettuce and white crumbly feta, amongst other things...
Above. a man making freshly-squeezed pomegranate and orange juice, a familiar sight in these parts of Turkey.
After a circuitous bus (dolmus) ride we reached the Temple. Here our first view:
More to follow. I need hardly add, the weather is perfect. We feel truly blessed...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Spring in Amsterdam; nearly summer in Kusadasi...

Well, it was a trifle hectic! I had four days in Amsterdam in which to work through a to-do list of about 20 items, look after gardens (mine and David's), fix several important items with banks and insurances, makes a few reservations for flights this summer, play with my grandchildren and see friends. Note: the list I have just made is in haphazard order... Happily, when my frazzle reached too high a level, I had wonderful friends with whom to share (or perhaps I should say, to unburden) my stress.  Thank you, all kind listeners (this of course includes my son and family).

My stay was made most pleasant by lovely spring sunshine, so for the whole time I was in Amsterdam and on my short visit to The Hague there was ne'er a drop o' rain. Amazing! 
Below a pic of my back garden, where the small daffodils are proudly present. And a blurred pic of Daniel and Nadia in their new house (Yara by this time was asleep, after our invigorating walk along the sandy shore at Scheveningen (try saying that fast...)!

I found time to pop round to David's and survey with delight the transformations taking place in his back garden. Here a few pix to show the flower boxes ... as yet uninhabited.

complete with garden gnome (noe of my doing!)
So armed with all requisite material and clothes, I set off on my flight via Istanbul to Izmir. On the plane I had the good fortune to sit next to a lady about my age, speaking fluent Italian, but whose mother language is Turkish. A stroke of good luck, or, as she put it il destino... So she (Giulia) and I took a taxi from the airport to Kusadasi marina and there we met David, cool as the night, and the good life began again...
Giulia joined us the next day for lunch and we made plans for future meetings. Her brother is a tour-guide based in Kusadasi. Wonderful to have her help in translating Turkish, which remains a more-or-less closed book... (to me).
The weather is glorious, warm but not hot and the sun blessing the world (I mean, that's how it feels to me!). David and I go about our daily tasks while the boat rocks gently, and peace abounds. Here we are at breakfast time.

And the longer we stay in Kusadasi the more we like it. It really helps speaking a little Turkish ... we slowly increase our vocabualry, mainly food and weather items! Cokk gule!
I am hoping to have time, now the frazzle has departed, to write some more. Here is a whole new world, a culture I scarcely know, and a warm climate to enjoy. Time to compose some poems.
Next week we shall be joined for several days by Karen, Amsterdam friend of 35 years' standing...
After that, a journey to Cappadocia with another friend.
We are presently planning the days until I leave for Dubai in just over five week's time.
How to catch the wind??
(Picture above shows the still waters in Kusadasi marina, seen from our boat.)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The mimosa blooms along the seafront...

The swallows dive and chatter; they are constructing nests under the edge of the pontoons. Safe from the many marina cats, I wonder? They are real swallows (not swifts, also fork-tailed but larger) with the amazingly fragile long forked tail, the males bearing deep pinks and blues on head and wings, and the females white breast feathers. They move too fast for me to photograph. The mimosa trees are all in blossom, but lack the wondrous fragrance of their fellows in the south of France or Italy.
This is the road running along the front of the marina; to the left is the sea. You can just observe the security guards' office at the right. The yellow tree is indeed mimosa.
Sunny days prevailed and Stroemhella gained a wondrous new blue coat, was put back in the sling, and lowered into the water, with David and me aboard. So gently did the men lower us, that we didn't realize we were afloat until we climbed up to look outside.

Back into the sea, freshly scrubbed and painted.
Then we cleaned her inside and made the bunks, ready for Judy, Christiaan and the two boys, due to  arrive from Dubai on Saturday early evening, the day before Easter.

The family aboard Stroemhella

To my surprise, we have been spending the past few days with six of us aboard Stroemhella, plus a plentiful suppply of large suitcases, children's colouring books, ipads, spare shoes and blow-up life-jackets. It is all working wonderfully. The triumphant peak was yesterday, when we sailed (extremely slowly, wind force 1 to 2 !!) out of the marina towards distant Samos, on the hazy horizon. Weather delightful, picnic lunch on board (prepared by David and Christiaan), sea calm as calm, Nathan and Judy dozed off after lunch...

We have appointed Isaak our Cabin Boy but he prefers his own title of Able Bodied B.
He has been learning the ropes (please laugh at this joke!) and proves very adept at assisting David to hoist the mains'l and other seamanly activities.
When there is nothing else to do he practises gymnastics wherever possible. Nathan scurries around, climbs aboard virtually unassisted, and exhibits complete confidence.
On the right you see Isaak colouring.
Here he is tring to invent a good name for this species of dinosaur...
And here he is exercising.

Meanwhile Nathan aquaints himself with every wheel and winch in sight and longs to be as old as his brother...

We didn't get very far on our sail because the wind dropped, the water turned into glassy smoothness, nothing moved.
So we turned round and chugged quietly back to the marina. And had a splendid fish supper in one of the excellent Turkish fish restaurants here. Nathan fascinated by the fish swimming silently in the aquarium. Isaak fascinated by the motor-bike cyclist's helmet on the table beside its owner ... who kindly invited him to try it on. Which he dared to do. Everyone thought he looked very cool!
Back home along the seafront, where the pavement is being broadened and beautified. The boys hopping and skipping, me and Christiaan walking morec sedately. David and Judy made a detour to buy, guess what ... Turkish delight! It is so delicious here. Why else does one come to Kusadasi??
We have now had four nights sleeping on the boat, pretty peaceful, the boys adapt most excellently.
Today, gales arrived: the wind howls through the boats' rigging, two trees have crashed down in front of the canteen, foam sprays up from the waves, the rain is now pattering gleefully upon the coach roof (translation for uninitiated: top of the boat, like the deck). I am happily inside. The other five went to explore nature. Maybe the storm is local...?
Tomorrow we fly northwards to the Netherlands. I hear at night in Amsterdam the temperature is around freezing. Think I'd rather a rainstorm in Kusadasi!