Saracen Towers and beautiful vistas

We have sailed into Salerno this morning, a quick easy motor.  James and Frosty polished the stainless, just in case Swanny did a surprise inspection. Mercier looks pretty good now. Just a bit of cleaning, laundry and TLC before the DeAngelo clan of New York meets the D’Angelo clan of Giffoni. Blame the slight name change on Ellis Island, but it is very minor.

So on the way up the coast, we have seen some lovely vistas and also a surfeit of watchtowers – mainly Saracen towers to alert the communities when the Saracen slave traders were coming, so they could escape up to a fortress.

Saracen Tower
Saracen Tower, volcanic earth

Allora, the Italian coast is beautiful, maybe greener than we have seen before and the water is azure blue. The soil seems to be volcanic or limestone and so stone buildings and stairs are everywhere.

In Agropoli, we asked for directions for happy hour and Aperol Spritz and we were directed to a wide street at the bottom of a long wide staircase, with a bridal limousine at the bottom. The bride and groom were radiant in the setting sun.

The bride and groom in Agropoli
The bride and groom in Agropoli
Agropoli Hill top town
Agropoli Hill top over the harbour

Afterwards we went out for pizza near the Porto Turistico, where Mercier was moored and watched the incredible sunset.

hmm. nice pizza but Frosty's expresso came in a small blue plastic cup?
hmm. nice pizza but Frosty’s expresso came in a small blue plastic cup. That’s the Amalfi coast in the distance.

The sunset was sensational. Ever since I said sunset photos were boring, I have seen a few good ones.

Agropoli Sunset
Agropoli Sunset – Amalfi Coast in the distance

 

Messina Straits to Tropea

Two years ago, we sailed from the Aeolian Islands through the Messina Straits going south.  This morning at 6:30am we sailed the straits going north, sailing from Reggio to Tropea. The Strait is 20 miles long and from 2 to 10 miles wide, funneling the Ionian Sea into the Tyrrhenian Sea and vice versa.  You are able to see the energy in the water. look long enough and you are bound to see a whirlpool forming. We began so early because we knew the current would be flowing south by 7:30am, 4.5 hours after high tide in Gibraltar.

Frosty was a bit skeptical at being underway by 6:30 am, even with a Nespresso in his hand but soon we were surrounded by the ‘passarelles’ or felucas, for the swordfish fisherman. Watching them move towards a sword fish at a rate of knots is quite startling.

Felluca or passarelle, a swordfishing boat
Felluca or passarelle, a swordfishing boat

The boats are about 40 feet long and the mast is about 50 feet high and the skipper steers from that lofty position.

Captain and first mate up 50 feet into the air, Messina Straits
Captain and first mate up 50 feet into the air, Messina Straits
The harpooner walking out on the passerelle
The harpooner walking out on the passarelle. Look at the rooster tail.

After getting through the Messina Straits with a sighting of one swordfish( or was it a tuna?), a slight whirlpool trying to form and quite a bit of current. We sailed up the coast to Porto di Tropea.  Only 30 miles from the Aeolian Islands and a charming, neo-classical town, in a slight state of ruin, there is a lot to like.  The outstanding feature has to be the beaches. Surrounded by tufa, the beaches are superb. Odysseus never talks about beaches, does he? The beaches here are sensational. There were incredible beaches up the coast from Reggio di Calabria.

Tropea Beach, Calabria
a Tropea Beach,  Calabria

I tried to get James and Frosty smiling while in the Messina Straits, but in that photo they looked liked they had seen Charybdis. They liked the beach though.

Beautiful beaches
Beautiful beaches

Our journey so far (sorry, you have to copy & paste the link)

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zkkfRzDGj2mE.kO4m-3hTL-cs

Efcharisto (Thank You) Greece! Buongiorno, Italia!

We had our last night in Greece in the small harbour Ormous Ammou on the Nisos Othoni.  There on this small outer island, north of Corfu, one would have found a Venetian lighthouse and medieval fortress, with views over to Albania. We had two days on Corfu with Ric and Sandy, what was one highlight you ask? The boys might say it was watching Lateen rigged boats sail on Corfu harbour. Once the sail was in they rowed. How would Davo go with all that weight?

Lateen Rigged Boat - Corfu Harbour
Lateen Rigged Boats – Corfu Harbour

We had time to sit on board and think about how much we enjoyed Greece, how hospitable the people were, how beautiful the harbors and bays are.   Its history is the history of Western democracies. I feel the connection all the way back to Athena and Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary. The food is superb and fresh fruits and veggies are so ripe and wonderful.

North Corfu beaches
North Corfu beaches

All through this trip, we have wondered if there would be trouble travelling in Greece, with the IMF and Angela breathing down Greek’s neck. We haven’t had one difficulty, not with diesel or ATM’s or any of the myriad problems that travel agents in Europe had been forecasting like ancient Jocastas.

Sail past Albania
Sail past Albania

 

So my take is: visit Greece, it is inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe, it has something for everyone and it is beautiful.  The food is wonderful and so are the people.

leaving Greece at daybreak
leaving Greece at daybreak

 

Today we have sailed across to Santa Maria di Leuca, Italia. Usually we are on the lookout for ships, lobster pots and dolphins, but today we narrowly missed hitting a tree.  Ok, afterwards we reassessed “tree” and think maybe it was a big shrub, but it seemed to pop up as we glided right by it. It was quite strange but we think a storm might have taken it off a cliff and it was floating just below the surface until we went by.  Soon after, beautiful dolphins did come and play with us jumping up two by two for several minutes.  We think they were saying “Buongiorno”.

Spanakopita

If you send Sandy and Gaila off to get a loaf of bread; you will find a loaf of bread, apple tarts and spanakopita for lunch in the bag. Add a few cucumbers, tomatoes and tzatziki and you have a wonderful lunch.

The food here in Greece has been great, although you have to be lucky with tavernas. The food has ranged from average to excellent, but we are winning. Everything is so inexpensive and the fruit and tomatoes are exquisite in flavor. The nascent wine industry is getting better and we have tried Greek bottles of wine that were surprisingly drinkable.

Sandy and Ric on the bridge at Lefkas
Sandy and Ric on the bridge at Lefkas

We haven’t seen a dolphin but we have had some great sunsets, thunderheads and we did see a double rainbow. The double rainbow which is a lovely omen as our time draws to a close in Greece. Ric and Sandy are planning to go to experience the magic of Meterora before heading back to Sydney’s chilly climes. They will probably bring the warm weather back with them.

Sunny warm Greece
Sunny warm Greece

We have sailed through salt flats at Lefkas, past Cleopatra’s ignominious retreat at Preveza, had a swim at Paxos walked through alleys and into churches.

Sunset
Sunset

Now we are at Corfu and soon we have to leave Greece. Now there is a sad thought, where can we get Spanakopita in Sydney?

Paxos garden
Paxos garden note the barnacle covered airplane propeller

Happy Birthday to my sister, Linda. Enjoy!

Sailing the Inland Sea, Ionian Islands

If your route constitutes sailing to windward, there may be no better place to sail/motor than the inland sea. Sailing from harbour to anchorage through this area is a dream. Why you ask?  You can easily get up early and get to your next anchorage with light winds, get anchored in time for morning coffee before the wind gets fresh.  Get off the boat for the afternoon sightseeing and have dinner ashore, then by about 9:00 the wind has died down and the boat is quiet for a good night’s sleep. We call it the Gentleman’s Breeze. You have plenty of time then to walk around and enjoy the sights, shop or find a bakery.

Garlic Ropes
Garlic Ropes

If you want to sail, hopefully going south, then you have a sleep in, morning coffee, sail to a lunch spot, swim and in the early afternoon the breeze comes in and you can sail for miles under fresh breezes.

Kioni Harbour
Kioni Harbour

Jimbsail.info is a wonderful resource for sailors sailing in the Mediteranean  and he has information about the Inland Sea of the Ionian enclosed by Kephalonia, Ithaka, Mainland Greece, Meganisi and Preveza. In all the Med, this is sailing that most reminds me of Sydney Harbour. The Inland sea is good area for novices and families. It is a great place to sail in Greece and not have to work around the Meltemi or struggle going to windward.

The Inland Sea
The Inland Sea

The captain and crew on Mercier, have wooden boats in their veins. Squadron friends know Ric and Sandy have the lovely classic yacht, Rapunzel. On Ithaca, both In Vathi and Kioni, we spotted the classic wooden yacht Rubicon, and Rubincon’s owners, Lance and Charlotte.  They are also members of the Cruising Association.  Hello quickly turned into a chat about wooden boats and their beautiful Rubicon, which they will keep in Greece. Lance calls this “resonance”, finding people with a shared interest and continuing to bump into them.

Saint Nikolas's Cave
Saint Nikolas’s Cave

So our last few days have taken us to Vathi and Kioni on Ithaca as well as Porto Spilia, Meganissi after a swim near St Nicolas’s Cave.  We are enjoying the trip, even though we are moving, but Sandy and I decided it is just the right pace.

Gaila and Sandy
Gaila and Sandy

Meanwhile, fair winds to Rubicon, Charlotte and Lance.  We’ll see you in Sydney.

 

Marmaris Yacht Marina

“Where are you? Where is the blog?” The truth is this part of the proceedings isn’t what we would consider the glamorous portion of the trip. You’ll notice that even our dearest friends don’t sign up for the very beginning of our trips.

The teak is being refitted in places, the head has been reseated and cracks in the gel coat are being repaired and the swimming platform has been reinforced. Our Dock n Go had a visit from Nicolas, who has carefully adjusted the new “brain”. The ZF Dock n Go system over promises in our humble opinion, but Beneteau has decided to create Beneteau Dock n Go specialists (the manifique duo: Jean and Nicolas), which has been a wonderful boon to restoring the confidence of Mercier’s Crew. Fingers are crossed.

We spend our days moving between Yacht Marine and the town of Marmaris. James is so lucky that Marmaris is not an exciting shopping centre like Kas, Istanbul or Kalkan, so that shopping doesn’t keep me from polishing the stainless. Marmaris is however, ship chandler heaven, everything for boats in several different chandlers in town.

Dream - seems a great name for a boat.
Dream – seems a great name for a boat.

We have met several lovely people here at Yacht Marine. There is a pool, a lovely restaurant, a ship chandlers, The Library, a reading room which has free wifi. The ladies in the office are very helpful and friendly; they also have wifi, so see us regularly.

In Turkey, they have a law about sim cards, which no one has clearly explained to us. If you are going to be in Turkey over two months, then do not buy a sim for your own phone. If you do buy a sim for your own phone after two months, it will be disconnected until you pay a substantial tax. No one mentions this at any of the Telco offices. Instead buy an inexpensive phone in Turkey and use that phone. There might be other strategies, but we are just going to those places with free wifi.

There is a large live aboard contingent at the Marmaris Yacht club and they have a very interesting social club which includes tours around Turkey.

Boat watching is the activity du jour each and every day here. Beautiful gulets, extraordinarily large motor yachts and catamaran, small yachts and it is like a ballet watching the travelers take large and small yachts in and out of the water. But like every big town, there is always one neighbour that likes to “collect” and Yacht Marina is no exception. We hope to be ready to sail very soon, wish us luck.

Steptoe and Sons go sailing
Steptoe and Sons go sailing

 

A photo gallery of the Turkish Turquoise Coast

 

M is a very unusual Super Yacht.  It has an inverted bow, which makes it look like one half of a large catamaran. Google it to see the bow, what would an inverted bow add to performance?

"M" with inverted Bow
“M” with inverted Bow
Why are we sleeping on the bow?
Why are we sleeping on the bow?

Early this morning in Fethiye, James and I are saying, ” Is that Frosty snoring?” No, Frosty doesn’t snore. It was a man sleeping in the cockpit on the boat next door and here are where his fellow crew members were forced to sleep: on the bow, where the noise of the traffic might drown out the constant but sonorous snoring from their friend.

I said I understood their reasoning for sleeping on the bow and they burst out laughing, These lovely Russian ladies are part of a flotilla of five and usually sail on dinghies at home. They said Mr Snorer was a lovely guy.

cozy kitten, Kalcan, Turkey

Now that I have shown two boat photos, I am allowed one kitten shot. This gorgeous little fellow had found a perfect spot and the shop owner was happy because everyone stopped to look at her lovely wares. Kalkan.

James, Louise and the adorable Frosty at Hotel Unique
James, Louise and the adorable Frosty at Hotel Unique
Goat Pruning
Goat Pruning

The four of us were admiring this very well pruned olive grove, saying someone takes great pride in the pruning. Later in the morning, we saw a large herd of goats come down and they all stood on their hind legs to get their breakfast.  Goats can stand on two legs for quite a while.

Having fun here, off to an anchorage tonight.

 

 

Kalkan, Cold Water Bay and Wall Bay Restaurant

We had a lovely afternoon and evening in Kalkan, we swam, saw a turtle, shopped and enjoyed some wonderful Moet left by Rene and Richard. Very appropriate as we had a slightly late birthday celebration for Louise.  Thank you Commodore and Mrs Chapman. We then had a great dinner of Turkish mezes and desserts at the Olive Garden.

Moet and Japanese Rice crackers
Moet and Japanese Rice crackers

On the way back to Mercier, we spied Aladdin’s lamp and Frosty was busily making wishes.

Frosty, busy making wishes
Frosty, busy making wishes

The long sail from Kalkan to Butterfly Valley, was punctuated by rock formations and fault lines, but once you get to Butterfly Valley and Olu Deniz, para-gliders are numerous. Colourful and almost dangerous, the para-gliders sail close to the shrouds and close to the mountain. They seem to land so close to sunbathers on the beach, a worry if you are on the shore.

We spent more time at Gemiler Island and swam at Cold Water Bay, where two men from a gulet climbed the cliff and jumped off to Cold Play and the roar of the crowd. Once back on board the gulet, they marched around with a giant Turkish flag to a Turkish marching band.  We decided to return to rustic Wall Bay Restaurant. Here we were immediately surrounded by Russians.  Five boats sailed in one after another, each with two men and six women.  The Russians were female, beautiful, about 22 years old and in very brief bikinis. Men on Mercier, and the boats around us, on the dock and boats across the way turned as one and focused laser like stares onto the Russian derrieres as they tied the boats onto the pontoon.

We had wonderful calamari, meze and sea bass sis kebab for dinner. The food at this remote but charming Turkish restaurant is authentic and so is the raki and the entertainment.

Raki with turkish coffee at 10 PM, Louise was ready  to dance.
Raki with turkish coffee at 10 PM, Louise was ready to dance.

We had seen this gentleman perform earlier in the evening with an Anatolian flute. For the Mercier crew, he sang a song about raki, while playing on a baglama, which is a similar to a mandolin.  We came back to the boat and listened to music, sang and danced to Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.

In the morning, we headed over to Deep Bay for a swim and passing Sarsila Bay, we spied a flotilla with a gulet and Mariner Boating flags, we motored over to have coffee with Trevor and Maggie.

Maggie and Trevor - Mariner Boating Flotilla
Maggie and Trevor – Mariner Boating Flotilla

We had coffee and a tour of their gulet, seeing over the entire boat. It was great to catch up in Turkey and we may be joining them for a gulet trip in a few years. It would be fun to have someone else do the cooking.  Just ask Maggie.

Happy Belated Birthday Suse, hope you saw our Facebook message

Kas Marina

We had a surprise visit on Friday morning from a giant thunderstorm, a dust free rain that laundered the bimini and washed away months of dust and salt. It was very cozy having a cup of tea and reading the Sydney Morning Herald while it poured outside, with Mercier secured to pontoon with stout lines.

Thunderstorm - best place to be, tied to the dock
Thunderstorm – best place to be, tied to the dock

Kas Marina is rather more like a resort than a marina. James and I have been lunching at the pool. We met some lovely fellow yachties for evening drinks as there is a great social network in the marina. We were introduced by the vivacious Maggie who owns Deja Blue from the CYC.  We enjoyed our time feeding the Marina’s fish, roosters and ducks and watching sunsets. During the day we enjoyed taking random Dolmus rides (the shared taxi), and doing a bit of work on the boat.  All of this because it is a great place to meet crew coming out from Oz.

Antiphellos Theatre, Kas
Antiphellos Theatre, Kas

Frosty and Louise joined us, they came in from Greece via the ferry. We had to fit a lot of Kas into one night. First stop, after Mercier, was Antiphellos. Hellenistic Kas was called Antiphellos and now a small amphitheatre remains, we arrived just before sunset.

The theatre didn’t have a stage but it did have a view, Frosty and I considered whether we are descendants of Lycian view junkies. It was built in the 4th Century BC but they seem to enjoy a captivating view as much as we do today.

View of Antipellos
View of Antipellos
James, Louise and Frosty sitting in the afternoon glow
James, Louise and Frosty sitting in the afternoon glow

We walked through Kas and admired a few shops and we were able to get the last minutes of the sunset at Sako looking back over the harbour to Kastellorizo.

Dinner at Sako
Dinner at Sako

We had a leisurely dinner and then went shopping. Frosty was enjoying viewing  the carpets and rugs. There are several excellent carpet merchants, Recep at Young Partners and Gallery Kas, near Sako. Louise and I managed to admire every bowl, lamp and bronze tray at Tugra Art Gallery. Hmm, they ship and I have taken quite a few photos and there is always next year.

beautiful Turkish rugs near Sako
beautiful Turkish rugs near Sako

Magical Day in Kastellorizo

Kas is a lovely place, with the shopkeepers and restaurateurs keeping their invitations low key. History just inserts itself into daily life seamlessly. It was Lesley’s last day with us yesterday, she is travelling to Rhodes via Kastellorizo. We have not used up our 90 day Euro allotment for times like these and we decide to take the ferry trip with her.

Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice.
Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice in Kas

In less time than a ferry trip would take from the Quay to Manly, we are back in Greece and on a picture postcard island of about 5 square miles. The island, also called Meis in Turkish and the older Greek name of Megristi, has a beautiful natural harbour facing Kas. The houses around the harbour and up the hill are either completely renovated, beautiful and colourful or in various states of ruin.

Queen of Ro Square
Queen of Ro Square

Many residents of Kastellorizo migrated to Australia, mainly Melbourne and Perth with only 500 residents on the island full time. Their descendants are coming back to enjoy the island and to renovate the family homes.

Megristi, Kastellorizo
Megristi, Kastellorizo

One of the joys of travelling is friends’ sharing their experiences so that we are sure to visit, because they have enjoyed the magic too. Dave and Leigh visited and really enjoyed their time on the island. Leigh mentioned the Aussie connection. Sharron and Graeme celebrated their 25th anniversary here, danced to a bit of Greek music and broke a few plates.

Everything happens on the water front, with the restaurant tables so close the edge of the harbour, you see everything in the water and it is very tempting to throw bread in for the fish. We saw at least three big turtles in the harbour and they would push each other around. We couldn’t tell if it was territorial or amorous in intent.

Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.
Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.

When our ferry arrived, within minutes we were walking round the waterfront. The chefs are clever, they fillet their fresh fish and throw the bones and bits to the Loggerheads, which keeps the turtles interested in the foreshore. You will also see how sleek and glossy the cats are, well behaved to ensure they get their share of the fish scraps.

tourist looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.
Tourista looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.

Before lunch we climbed up to the fortress castle, then around the back to other squares and churches, before our long and lovely lunch at Alexander’s. Finally a goodbye to Lesley, which brings to mind another joy of travel, travelling with friends so you can enjoy the experience and create memories.

Colourful houses
Colourful houses

We still have home firmly in our thoughts and it has been busy at the RSYS.  We send our warmest congratulations to Richard Chapman, who is now Commodore of the Squadron; we wish you smooth sailing. The same wishes go to Dave Edwards, our new club captain; David Ward, our new Vice Commodore; Christian Brook, our new rear Commodore.  Good luck to you all in the coming year.

James and I would like to thank Commodore Malcolm Levy for including us in Squadron life for the past four years. Great job, now you will have more time for leisurely lunches in McMahons Point.

Lyn and Rene, I hope they thanked both of you for all the work you have done too.