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the season's end

September 27, 2012

I slept at anchor last night, close to the Scopea Marina dock in Gocek, Fethiye Bay, Turkey. It was incredibly quiet and there was no wind to speak of so the boat just bobbed comfortably during the night and I got a great night's sleep.

We had such a good trip along the Turkish coast for 10 days, I was pleased that the fickle winds gave us just about what we needed to sail each day from midday until sundown.  

My last guests for this season left yesterday headed for Capadoccia; Jean and Nathalie, from Quebec, came sailing again this year after bringing their family last year; the objective was to learn to handle a boat on their own on this trip.

Having the Turkish culture to explore and the spectacular backdrop of the mountainous west coast of Turkey made the "sailing course" all the better! 

I expect to see Nathalie and Jean sailing on their own or owning their own boat in the not too distant future.

The light was shimmering on the water this morning as I pulled up a well sunk anchor that took it's time letting go of the solid mud bottom; with no wind, it was an easy departure, "Otto Helm" decided to steer more or less well and as I put the fenders away, I set the course and Otto guided us between the tiny islands in the deep 10 mile wide bay of Fethiye starting out on my way to Marmaris.

The cool morning quickly gave way to shorts and T-shirt temperatures, the weather has been nothing less than perfect.

Smokey blue haze hung over all of the hills and mountains of the bay blending with the purple-blue color of the sea here. Hardly a boat stirred at 8 am, it was so very very peaceful, most of the boats I passed were tethered to the shore and few showed signs of life. A gulet here and there was lifting anchor and beginning to make it's way to Gocek or Fethiye town.

I was motoring slowly, so I did not reach the outside of the 10 mile deep bay until after 10:30, a slight breeze began to blow, miniscule ripple patterns appeared on an barely undulating glassy sea; I raised the main to catch what wind there was. I would have preferred a favorable north or south wind would have been nice for a close hauled sail back, but more times than not I have had to motor back to Marmaris from Gocek, with the wind coming towards me. The 40 mile trip can be uncomfortable when it does, so I was happy to have a windless start and even a slightly good angle to the wind that allowed me to motor-sail.

I was engrossed in making Otto Helm (the autohelm...) work more efficiently, so I spent the greater part of the morning resetting the various calibrations, 5 of them, to try to get the autohelm to steer more precisely. I guess that our Mr Otto is not the greatest sailor, all of my adjustments made little difference, but the funny thing is, once there is a stiff head wind, he does steer well! Strange, guess he likes a challenge - and they say computers don't have a mind of their own, well I can tell you, my impression of Otto is that he cares little about being told what to do and steers how he wants to, when he wants to!

Dalyan River Delta

It takes a long time to get past Ekincek bay, but the Dalyan delta and Ekincek finally moved slowly past about 3. Ekincek is the location of "My Marina" built about 20 years ago exclusively for yachts. It has seen some improvements in the past few years, but still has the same great character. One of their specialties is the "signature celebration cake" which I ordered for Jean and Nathalie, as this trip was to celebrate their anniversary.

Celebration at My Marina Restaurant

I knew I would not be in before 6:30 in the evening to the outer bay of Marmaris and I wanted to get there in time to scout out a new stop-off anchorage. I like to stay away from Marinas when I can, boats were made to anchor! My timing was good. I came in, not really having followed as good as a course as I should have, made it almost straight in to the new anchorage as the light faded' I got the anchor well set...and popped a beer!

An hour later, here I am in my bunk, Pwyll rolling a bit, the wind stayed up for a few hours this afternoon (thus the roll of the swell now), but only allowed me to motor sail; the wind was strong an hour out and I could have sailed it, but it would have slowed me down considerably and I did not want to anchor in the dark. Now getting ready to call it a night it is very still, I can hear little outside but the dull clank of wires and the plop plop of small waves against the hull created by some passing vessel on its way to Marmaris. Tomorrow I head into Marmaris for a general engine check and to realign the engine and shaft -An engine mount cracked on the way to Turkey...a little worrisome, but it was quickly repaired by my long time mechanic friends in Netsel. I took off on this trip saying I would be back in two weeks they made a quick repair and it was fine for the trip but the engine and shaft needed precise aligning.

After the engine work by Farettin, hopefully concluded tomorrow, I will be off on my trip back home to Leros, about a 10 hour a day trip, stopping at night, unfortunately, most of it will be motoring upwind, or with little wind if I am lucky. Occasionally I get a southerly to return and that is great.

Again this year we were lucky to have Mesut, from Ekincek, take us up the Dalyan in his flat bottomed riverboat for a visit to Caunos and the hot springs on Koceygiz lake, a trip I love to do and always will with my guests.

Here we are at the springs...covered in mud!

I have watched Mesut's girls grow from toddlers, the oldest is now in her first year at University some hours drive away from the tiny village of Ekincek, it must be a huge change for her! I suppose she was attending school in the larger town on Koceyiz the last few years, and I am sure she is computer savvy, so she is not totally alien to the bigger world having left their family farm in the mountains above the bay.

Our contact with local people like Mesut, over the years, is such a special aspect of the trip, you feel like an (and we are) old friends returning to visit.

Mesut. Riverboat trip, passing Lycian tombs of Dalayan

I was very pleased that again this year the wind gods smiled on us and all of the trips this summer had favorable winds for very pleasant sailing.In fact, the wind rarely blew that strong for any length of time this summer, it could hardly be called a Meltemi. Because of the low winds however at times up at the house we did feel the heat for the first time, it is a good thing we already planted trees around the house and they are growing well, much more than we would have expected.

The back of the house - my "tropical garden" and Roo

Work will continue for some time on what one of our Italian friends has referred to as our "monument" ~ we don't see it that way, just a long term project, building something with love and pleasure - the work that goes into it is our "artistic expression" and it is pleasing to see it very slowly take shape: we control all the details! (and take the mistakes in stride...)

Some of our shrubs and trees have really taken off, a few refuse to grow but most are coming along, all of the landscaping now is complimented by gravel paths that we laid down over the course of the summer, a lengthy job. All walk ways and driveways are now graveled close to the house.

The more we do on the house...the more there IS to do..so it is hard to tear myself away from this project, but once out sailing, I am grateful for the balance.

We continue to be very pleased on our choice to settle on Leros and sail from here; we have the weather that suits us, good winds, a quiet spot and one of the greenest on the island, great views from the house, the Greek culture to appreciate and people that we like living among. And, of course the sailing is second to none!

I will miss the peace that only sailing gives your soul, I will be anxious to get on the water again when spring rolls around.

November 1, 2012

The sun sets over Gourna Bay, the house is closed up and we are off on our winter travels.

If you would like to see more pictures from this year's trips, new photos are on our  

Photo Gallery page.

See some of the summer sailing and travel pictures from Greek Island sailing, in this album Click July 2012

Thank yous to Jean & Nathalie and Chris & Anne for the use of their trip photos.

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