Fethiye to Kalkan

We have been doing side trips, while we were in Ece Marina in Fethiye. The marina is so convenient, with showers just up the pontoon, cafes, and a Carrefours market . The orange ‘domus’ (shared taxi) takes us to many places on it’s regular run – a circuit about 5 km around Fethiye. We can also walk into town and take other domus to Calis (pronounced Chalish) or Oludeniz. Domus services in Sydney would be absolutely wonderful, imagine being able to pick up a mini-van going from McMahons Point to Neutral Bay, do your shopping for $5.00 return. Better than a bus and they pick up anywhere, drop off at a bus stop. They are incredibly efficient and easy to use.

There is also a shared water taxi between Fethiye and Calis, which we learned about from a great local blog, Turkey’s for Life. Julia talks about life in Fethiye and travelling about Turkey. A great resource for sailors sailing the Turquoise Coast, because she covers so many areas of Turkish life.

Local Fisherman , Calis, Fethiye Bay
Local Fisherman , Calis, Fethiye Bay

Once Lesley had arrived we were ready to depart, engines starts right away, all systems go until we get to the passerelle, which after two weeks of not being removed, firmly refused to let go its mooring. After much ado, James had to unscrew the whole fitting and take the entire fitting to Captain Eddy, who effects such repairs in Fethiye. He had the boat next to ours on the marina, he said “Leave it, it will be 1 hour, so we had lunch. James went to collect the piece but returned crest fallen, no one at the office. You think we had dinner in Fethiye, don’t you?

But can we say Captain Eddy delivered, although it took 90 minutes, for the princely sum of 40 Turkish lira ($AUD 20), Thank you, Captain Eddy and to your industrious team.

Gulet, Fethiye marina
Gulet, Fethiye marina

We had a lovely night anchored off Gemiler Island, swimming, watching first the paraglliders then the supermoon rise over the mountain.

The next morning, we sailed past Oludeniz, also known as Costa del Blackpool, then Butterfly Bay, so that Lesley could see the sights. We then continued motoring to Kalkan, for about a four and half hours. Oludeniz is in serious danger of becoming over developed. Thanksfully Butterfly Valley is unspoiled.

James with Butterfly Valley in the background
James with Butterfly Valley in the background

The coastline is not conducive to anchoring, you sail pass Long Sandy Beach and arrive in Kalkan.

Kalkan
Kalkan

Kalkan was destroyed by an earthquake in 1958, so the Turkish Government said to the people, let’s start from scratch up the hill. Move forward 50 years and an entrepreneur from Istanbul purchased the old town and now it could be called Costa del Salcombe*

No domus here, just stairs and great shops and stylish restaurants, thank goodness Lesley is here to keep me company.[Louise Sullivan, we are seriously considering a woolen kilim, we need your expertise. We will bring you back.]  James is able to sit on a rooftop terrace and watch over Mercier. While Lesley and I try to determine if the leather bag is a real fake or a fake fake, some T shirts even have signs advising which is which. Lonely Planet says “Kalkan is not a haven for backpackers and lager louts.”

Last night we had a wonderful dinner on the rooftop terrace of  The Olive Garden, with traditional Turkish meze and dinners. 98% of the clientele would be well off British retirees or vacationers.  Every restaurant, all stylish, is the similarly full of the British. The entire town is the same, we thought we were in England. We were like sprightly Aussie kids, not a bad feeling.

*Salcombe is one of the priciest seaside villages in England.

Oludeniz and Butterfly Valley

We have decided to mix it up a bit and we thought we would go and look for the Butterflies.  Instead of sailing the blue highway, we would take a trip to the Hippie Trail for a short hike and then visit a few watering holes for swims to recover. We are going to take a gulet trip.

One of the captains collects us from Ece Marina and we take a scenic drive over the headland from Fethiye to Oludeniz, a beautiful seaside resort famous for its swarms of paragliders.  Oludeniz is known for being one of Turkey’s most photographed beaches.  It seems a bit surreal to see so many paragliders in one place, all jumping from Babadag Mountain, many are tourists, so they are in tandem with the ever present go pro’s in their hands to record their flights.

Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

The beach is a hive of activity, with hundreds of people coming to find their gulet on the shore and make the jump onto the passerelle between waves.

Gulets, Oludeniz Beach
Gulets, Oludeniz Beach

There are several types of gulets, these are the daytripper style with two levels, a covered level below with tables and the roof covered in floor to floor beach bags for tanning purposes.

It is a warm morning, so our first stop is at secluded Blue Cave beach.  At least it was secluded upon arrival.

Blue Cave outside of Oludeniz Beach
Blue Cave near Oludeniz Beach

About 15 minutes into our stay, Ninja Gulet shoved between us and the wall you can see above, almost taking a few of our fellow passengers with him. The Ninja’s Captain shouted at us and then took his gulet and motored away. There is a universal truth that if one gulet comes others aren’t far behind.  Seclusion may be overrated.

Butterfly Valley is a no road access beach, gorge and butterfly sanctuary.  There are acres of plants here that they love, interspersed with tents and an open air restaurant on the beach.

Beautiful Butterfly Valley, no road access
Beautiful Butterfly Valley, no road access

We decide to hike up into the gorge, which reminded us of our last hike with Peggy S and Donna in Tucson. Butterfly Valley isn’t as big an area but there were no tour guides warning us about mountain lions.

Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley

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The valley gorge is quite wild and beautiful, no butterflies to be found as we are probably out of season.  We aren’t sure about the tent city but the reception was quite colorful.

Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley

Hotel California in Butterfly Valley, I am not sure of the name but that song kept playing in my head on the way home.

Happy Birthday Rachel Hayes. 30 has never looked so good.

 

A Meltemi in Tinos

Friday’s forecast was for  a wicked southerly in the Aegean and so we did 40 miles in an attempt to make safe harbour at Tinos by Thursday afternoon.

It was warm and hazy, so after we got settled we spoke to a few taxi drivers and checked our reference books to determine which beach was the nicest.

Church at Stravros Beach
Church at Stravros Beach

We selected Stravros Beach imaging a beach with chaise lounges and cocktails. Actually, the beach is in the church yard and was full of families, with small children having a wonderful time. Singing and splashing Grandpa and uncles, swimming or bobbing depending upon ability. What a wonderful church yard. Across the bay is Poseidon’s sanctuary, we could see some ruins in the distance.

When we returned from our swim, we were rinsing off from the stern shower, when the water pump refused to work. Here are four of us, a salty bunch, trying to use the bucket to rinse off, so we could go below to look at the waterpump. The taxi drivers were wide eyed, they were unused to seeing such a sight in the middle of town.

Mercier, Tinos Town Quay
James waving from Mercier, Tinos Town Quay

Friday morning James fixed the water pump with Stephen’s expert advice. There were no fierce winds from the south but it was miserably hot and humid. We went to check in with the port police and on the way back we saw a pelican come dancing into the children’s playground. The little boy’s Mum is telling him to pet the bird for a photograph; the little boy was very hesitant. However, when the Pelican decided to visit Mum, she fled the scene.

Tinos Town Pelican
Tinos Town Pelican, he wanted the little boy to pet him

We had a nice traditional Greek lunch followed by a traditional Greek nap.

We went to the beautiful Symposion Restaurant for dinner, off the town quay and near a beautiful marble fountain for dinner. We talked about what beautiful Greek Islands we had visited and discussed our plans to visit Syros on Saturday morning.  Little did we know that at 5:00 am, we would all be waken by a meltemi and all our plans would change.

Up on the balcony, goodbye dinner for Rosemary and Stephen
Up on the balcony, goodbye dinner for Rosemary and Stephen

With gusts up to 50 knots and spin drift blowing off waves,  Mercier is fixed  to the quay. Rosemary and Stephen chose the wise course and boarded the ferry to Syros so that they could make their flight home on Monday. All the advice was that Sunday would be too windy even for the large ferries. We wished them Bon Voyage and safe passage, while we sit here in the swells of Tinos harbour. Tomorrow, we might go to church.

Happy Birthday Simon, aka Basil!

Life’s Little Luxuries

Mercier is now in residence at Athens Marina, a super yacht marina in Neo Faliro. There is so much to see in Athens, we felt we could wait for Rosemary and Stephen Merrington here, get over our colds and enjoy our fellow super yachts. The Athens Marina staff are some of the finest and friendliest crews we have met even though we are the second smallest yacht here. We thought you would like to see some of our fellow marina guests, that happen to be super yachts.

Everyone in Sydney is likely to remember Jeff Koons “Puppy”, which graced Circular Quay for months in 1995.  We were also lucky enough to see the show that Koons put on at Versailles. Koons is a contemporary artist that most of us enjoy.

His friend, wealthy Greek art collector, Dakis Joannou requested that Koons paint the exterior of his 114 foot yacht, Guilty. Outrageously eye-catching is such an understatement. If you are interested in art (Louise Sullivan), google to see the yacht created by Ivana Porfiri, including its sumptuous interiors.

Guilty, a 114 ft Porfiri Yacht, Italy
Guilty, a 114 ft Porfiri Yacht, Italy

Another yacht came into the marina, ‘better place’, a Wally Yacht.  Wally Yachts is a company founded by Luca Basanni and now manufactures its futuristic motor yachts and sailing yachts in Monte Carlo. Ian McGregor reminisces about his time on a Wally Yacht in the movie, The Island. ‘better place’ is a 50 metre round the world yacht. Again, Google to see interiors, we haven’t been invited aboard.

better place, a Wally Yacht with Omega in background
better place, a Wally Yacht with Omega in background
Liking the colour scheme
Liking the colour scheme- Malteese red

Our own luxuries go to smaller items, but in Athens we found that Magic, known in Australia as Magnums, have a new concept. They have a bar full of sprinkles for your self selected Magic.  Not candy sprinkles but almond slices, pink peppercorns, goji berries, carmelised hazelnuts, dried pineapple, coconut and a myriad of another 20 possibilities.

They ask if you want to dip into dark, milk or white chocolate, then he mixes your assortment of ‘sprinkles’ in a cocktail mixer, dips your ice cream and then drizzles on another chocolate for presentation.  Magic gives you wifi and a frame, so you can take a foodie photo. What a concept to celebrate 25 years anniversary for Magic here in Europe.

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With luck and fueled by Magic, we hope to be off to our first Aegean island tomorrow.

Luck in the Corinth Canal

Planning your journey through the Corinth Canal can induce a fair amount of anxiety. If you are assigned behind a large ship, the Canal controllers are very demanding that your yacht get as close as possible to the ship’s whirlpool wake. In fact, they often give the command “full power” and “close the gap” and many different types of hurry ups. There is quite a bit of current in the canal to deal with and shallows on both sides.

Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal

 

We were keen to make Monday’s crossing early to ensure the lightest breezes,Tuesdays are usually closed for repairs in the canal.  We all smiled in relief when we saw we were the first boat waiting. No ships in sight, so that meant we would be first in the canal. As we waited, another yacht approached under spinnaker in the distance.

James, Leanne and Cam
James steering , Leanne and Cam

 

The Canal Controller was very happy that Mercier was there, “standing by”, sails stowed and ready to proceed. Yachts were in the canal coming from the east, so they proceed through and we enter the canal. Nautico*, the yacht behind us was not up to the Controller’s standards and several barks came over the radio to hurry up. As we passed, we could see the auto traffic waiting for the bridge to be raised so they could get across.

The canal’s first spade of dirt was dug by Nero, but even an excess of slave labour could not manage to dig the canal. It took gunpowder to manage that. Wikipedia has the story, so I won’t repeat it here. Interesting reading not only for the history but because of the curses that seem to befall anyone who wanted to build the canal.

*name changed

Cam and Leanne enjoying the view
Cam and Leanne enjoying the view

Zante – Shipwreck Bay, Navagio and the Venetian Fortress at Bohali

Shipwreck Bay, Zakynthos
Shipwreck Bay, Zakynthos

We all have our bucket list and one item on ours was to visit Shipwreck Bay, officially Navagio Beach. We were not expecting the right weather to sail to Shipwreck Bay and it is too deep for most yachts to anchor. It has been blowing Norwesters (30 knots) every afternoon, much like a Sydney Southerly Buster and we didn’t want to join the wreck. We tried to book onto a catamaran tour for the morning, but we could never raise the charter company. In the end, we spoke to Yannis and took a car up to the viewing point to get an aerial view of the bay and a tour of Zante Island. We weren’t disappointed with our aerial viewing, we had it on good authority “le water is colder than zee witch’s breast”.

one Bay North of Navagio Beach
one Bay North of Navagio Beach

The blue milkiness of the bay is from Limestone ‘pearls’ creating a swirl of aqua water, so the water is more translucent than clear. The colour is certainly one we think of when we think of sailing azure seas.

For future reference, if it was warmer and you wanted a swim, our mate John from Zante suggested we drive to Porto Vromi and take a small boat to nearby Shipwreck Bay. If you are 21-30 take a party boat, but take sunscreen and a hat because it’s a long day.

Heikell says the Shipwreck was a cigarette boat, a smuggler’s boat to bring in tax-free cigarettes, which wrecked while evading the Coast Guard in a storm. John, Greece’s biggest Cat’s fan, says it might have been set-up to glamorise the most beautiful bay in Greece for tourism. It is so stunningly beautiful, it is hard to imagine they needed to improve the story line.

We came back past olive trees, that were almost 200 years old, rustic villages and pine forests. We stopped for coffee at the top of another wonderful bay. The view and colour of the water were remarkably brilliant.

Another beautiful bay
Another beautiful bay at Kambl

We finished the day at the Venetian Fortress at Bohali. We expected the Fortress/castle to be a small hill-top ruin but it is extensive and both the British and the Nazi’s had taken the Venetian’s work and reused it. We saw evidence of a British football pitch and the Venetian’s garrison prison and many wells. There was a large bastion overlooking Zakthynos Town but from every side of the formidable fortress walls, the views were extensive. It is well worth a trip.

Bastion of the Venetian Fortress
Bastion of the Venetian Fortress

We went for a walk after dinner and said goodbye to our friend, John. He asked us to let the Cats know he was barracking for them. So for John, ‘Go the Cats’.

Celebrating a birthday and watching boats race

What did you do on the weekend?

We had an action packed weekend.  The two highlights were celebrating Debbie’s birthday and watching the Godson racing Farr 40’s.

To misquote Ms. Ephron, birthdays aren’t for the faint of heart but friends help us through them.  Several of Debbie’s BFFs met for breakfast at a very secret Sydney location, Echo on the Marina in Roseville. Entertainment was provided by Possum Magic and numerous coffees fueled the laughter and giggles around the table.

Lesley, Deb, Gaila and Reenie at Echo on the Marina
Lesley, Deb, Gaila and Reenie at Echo on the Marina
Michele and Lesley
Michele and Lesley
Rene and Rachel who came all the way from Queensland
Rene and Rachel who came all the way from Queensland

Glad you had a great birthday weekend, Deb.  Wishing you many more.

David was racing later in the morning on Voodoo Chile, so several of us went out on the Nand V, to cheer him on.  Rene in fact, had son David on Voodoo Chile, brother Bobby on Transfusion and nephew Nathan on Sputnik. We had three teams to cheer on.

Sydney Harbour was full of boats on the Saturday, Ynglings, Etchells, 18’s, lasers and Farr 40’s.  The Farr 40 racing was close and there were times the wind was fairly fresh. Here are some of the photos.

Rounding the mark
Rounding the mark
Close sailing
Close sailing

 

concentration
Concentration

 

Spinnaker Run
Spinnaker Run
Pippa, Sue and Rachel
Pippa, Sue and Rachel
Voodoo Chile
Voodoo Chile

Transfusion was the winner of the 10 race regatta, with Voodoo Chile finishing 5th after 2 disappointing races where they finished first, but were later disqualified or withdrew.

Bol, Zlatni Rat and Stari Grad

All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.  Early morning scene on Bol Harbour
All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.
Early morning scene on Bol Harbour

The song says ‘you always take the weather with you’, the last few days we have had wonderful sunny clear days and most evenings a big thunderstorm, reminding us of Sydney southerly busters.

We were on our way to Bol on the island of Brac, thinking we would be able to pick up a mooring but we were waved onto the town quay. On the other side of the L shaped Quay there were several catamarans, who probably only draw about 1.3; on our side it was a bit deeper but very busy with the ferry wharf. James, Claire and I decided it was too bouncy to stay on board for lunch and went off to find a pizza on the boardwalk. We said hello to the Perth, WA owners of La Mischief, Steve and Cas, who invited us over for a drink in the evening

We headed out to the iconic beach of Zlatni Rat. This is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia. Zlatni Rat is a arrowhead of white pebbles over 600 metres long, which changes shape depending on the currents and winds. Close by there are Roman ruins in a stand of pines and a lovely simple church. It seemed one side of Zlatni was protected great for swimming and the other perfect for wind surfers.

Zlatni Rat, Brac
Zlatni Rat, Brac

Sunset is nigh, we head over to La Mischief, which is very close to the boardwalk and its cafes.  The prevailing thought seems to be we should have a cocktail.  So an order went in to the nearby cafe for 3 margaritas and 3 Royal Mojitos. In Bol’s joggly bay, it is hard to negotiate the passerelles, but our wonderful waiter manages to do it with a tray of cocktails.

Service with a smile, agility & balance
Service with a smile, agility & balance

During our chat, we hear about La M’s problem on entering Croatia.  Current practice on entering a country late at night would be to fly the Q flag, stay on board until morning and contact the authorities.  However, two months ago, Croatia changed this rule.  You must fly the Q flag, make your way to the Harbourmaster’s office and call him on the number advised on his door, regardless of time.  One more reason to arrive during daylight hours. Fines are payable. Money better spent on Procip!

We were planning to go to Hvar and moor in the town’s bay, but the weather has been questionable, so we opt for Stari Grad, which means we can take Claire to our favourite swimming spot and chill out bar for lemon press.  Stari Grad is the port on Hvar from which the ferry leaves to Split or Dubrovnik.

Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out bar
Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out cafe

It is so dry here during summer that there are many cafes that exist under umbrellas.  Please note the secure fencing (aka ropes) to ensure safety.  You can’t see all the dogs also visiting the cafe, none of which cause a problem.

Today we had an early morning walk to take Claire to the ferry enroute to Dubrovnik.  It is going to be a bit quieter on Mercier tonight, but we hope that Claire enjoys Dubrovnik and Corfu and the rest of her travels.  We all agree, you only live once.

Sheltered Bay of Milna, Split and Trogrir

There has been a change in Croatia; the weather is changeable and the crowds seem to be diminishing as well.

Its been busy, Milna was very quiet but enjoyable, but we were too lazy to blog.  Split was busy and our friend, Lesley joined us for the next sector of Mercier’s Voyage.

Milna Town Quay
Milna Town Quay

In Milna, we stayed at Marina Vlaska which is at the mouth of the harbour going into Milna.  There were several benefits to staying here.  Great showers, beautiful swimming beach right around the corner ( there could be no swimming in Milna Bay, too dirty) and the Illyrian Restaurant, which along with Croatian food, did a great Thai Curry and Sate. We did walk into Milna town, with its great chill out bars, but Marina Vlaska was the place to be.

Lovely Marina Vlaska
Lovely Marina Vlaska

 

From here it was an easy trip up to Split, which was a busy town but not as busy as the week earlier. Italian schools went back on Monday and we haven’t heard nearly as many Italian accents since then.

Palace of Diocletian

 

Temple of Venus with Actors
Temple of Venus with Actors
James welcoming Lesley with Aperol Spritz
James welcoming Lesley with Aperol Spritz
The School at Trogir
The School at Trogir
Trogir from Kamerlengo Castle
Trogir from Kamerlengo Castle

Chill out Vis

On Thursday evening, we visited the crew of Nick of Time, Gloria, Alan and Bill on board their very plush Moody 45. We hear about life in Adelaide and the competitive evening card games, where sheep stations are on the line. Before dark, we jump back into the zodiac and set a date for dinner Friday night.

On Friday morning, we take the zodiac out for a spin and do a complete tour of the Bay of Vis for a fish eye view of the beaches and houses along the water front. Some houses are stone walls standing roofless and you realise they would be snapped up in a heartbeat if it were on Sydney Harbour. The stone from this part of the world is a matt white, beautiful and enduring. You can see how white the rock is at each islands waterline.

View of the Bay of Vis
View of the Bay of Vis

Later in the afternoon, we decide to walk up the hill to Fort George, it’s a 2.5 kilometre walk up the hill to see this Bristish Fortress built in 1813.  A quick aside, we see that Vis has a cricket team, left over from circa 1813 when the British introduced cricket and the locals took it up for spirited matches on the oval.

We aren’t sure that we will find anything at Fort George, just bastion walls that we can see from the water. The views would be worth the trip. We pass the turn offs for several nude beaches on the way up. The signage was very interesting.

We almost didn’t go into the Fort itself, it was so quiet and menacing. Merro being the intrepid traveller walks into the fort; so I follow past fallen wood and giant holes encased in safety nets. We turn a corner and there is a red carpet in the ruins. We follow the red carpet, seeing huge wooden doors up ahead we go further into this labyrinth to Vis’s latest Chill Out Bar.

Fort George Chill Out Bar - note rope tied to trees for safety rail. OHS?
Fort George Chill Out Bar – note rope tied to trees for safety rail. OHS?

We truly had no idea that this was here. They have music here and the young Taiwainese waitress, 19, told us that Fort George opened in June and they hoped to put in a full kitchen. It may have begun as a pop up bar for Yacht Week crews but was morphing into a inventive Chill out bar. 19 also mentioned that they have music and the views at Sunset were definitely worth a visit.

Jazz in the evenings
Jazz in the evenings

Friday evening brings Gloria, Alan and Bill back for a quick drink on Mercier and we decide to try a Trip Advisor tip, Konoba Lola’s.  Twilight is fast turning into night. You walk up three stone streets via narrow laneways and stairs. You walk into a stone walled courtyard and the tables are separated in garden rooms. Here the ‘walls’ are 3 foot tall hedges of rosemary and lavender, bathed in candlelight.  All the furniture seem to be charming little pieces from estate sales. The wine cooler was an old enamel pitcher. Food was imaginative, local produce and fish or beef. A gorgeous fountain in the middle hedge with a red Alice sofa – just magical.

Courtyard garden of Lola's. Tables seperated by hedges and fountains.
Courtyard garden that is Lola’s.  Tables separated by hedges and fountains.

Croatia has been a marvelous place, not the least for meeting sailors from home.  We are really enjoying these pleasant interludes during our travel.  We are in Brac now and looking forward to Lesley Sommerville’s visit.  Friendships, new and old, are a highlight of travelling.