Sailing in Turkey 2012

For the next year, we have carried out quite a crazy plan: we will combine our sailing vacation on the Aegean Sea with a land trip to Turkey. We will go there by car, which will be an interesting trip itself, then we will spend one week sightseeing from the land, and then another week sailing with Captain Mariusz.

The trip went through Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria. In Belgrade, we saw many refugees from Kosovo – Serbs driven out after the recent war. Other than this, Serbia makes a very civilized impression. This is in contrast to the EU member Bulgaria, where the highway seems to have same holes that I saw during my last trip there in 1989.

In Turkey, the ancient city of Troia is our first target. Various archaeological layers there show the circle of growth and destruction in a very impressive way. The returning wealth of this now gone city has a maritime relevance: in the ancient times, merchant ships had to wait precisely there for a favorable wind, they couldn’t sail against both wind and sea current into Hellespont (currently named Dardanelle).

Shortly after this we arrive at Izmir, where we meet Arek and his family on the next day. They have flown in. Together we visit the ruins of the ancient city of Smyrna in the center of Izmir. The days follow when we visit other ruins of cities of great importance in the long gone days: Ephesus, Miletos, Priene, the imposing Apollo-teple in Didima. There, we stay overnight in a pension in a town that grew in the shadow of this antique monument. Also there, we part our ways with Arek and his family, since they are not going to sail this year.

From Didima, we drive to Güllük. This is an important place for me – I have spent a good part of my childhood there, in the early 80s, as my mother and other Polish engineers worked on a construction of power plants in Turkey. It was a beautiful life in the place where other go on vacation. Now, many things changed in Güllük – on the hills where wild boars once grazed, new settlements and hotels were built, and the big industrial harbor where the power plant parts were discharged from Polish ships, was moved outside of the town. Close to the town, there is an airport, called “Bodrum Airport”. We pick up Captain Mariusz there – he arrives with Ola, the final crew member for our charter cruise. Together we go to Yalikavak to take over the boat.

The marina is located on the northern shore of the Bodrum Peninsula, and we start our cruise by sailing the Golf of Güllük. First, we sail onto the other side of the golf, to visit the ruins of a once quite important, but very forgotten ancient city Iassos. They are impressive and lay outside of main tourists stream. Spending the night in the very provincial Turkish town Kiyikislacik has a certain charm too.

Then we sail to Didima – which we visited already “from the land”. Now, we drop the anchor at the beach of the same pension we spent the night in back then. Of course we eat the dinner on this friendly shore. This kind of spending the night was a novelty for us.

From Didima, we sail around the Bodrum peninsula and came into the marina of the city. The harbor lies directly under the huge fortress built by the St. John’s Knights. It is worth visiting, and the city that it once protected also.

On our way back, we must hurry. The winds are not favorable, and we are not allowed (by the charter conditions) to sail by night. Thus we must search for an anchorage – and the one we find is not quiet, the bald hills give no protection from the wind. We keep anchor watch. The next day means yet another difficult leg against the wind, we arrive quite late to the charter base. This is nevertheless a successful conclusion of our most interesting cruise so far – a very effective combination of sailing adventure and antique culture.

We experienced further adventures in our bareboat charter cruises.