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Barry's Blog # 53 - End of the line (for now) Kas, Turkey

The sun was just coming over the horizon and the misty morning was very still. The water looked like it was made of mercury and A B Sea created a silky wake as she motored slowly out of the bay at Fethiye enroute to Kaş.

Leaving Fethiye enroute to Kas, Turkey

Once we had the autopilot set, Aannsha went below to make bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast, the smell of cooking bacon made my mouth water as it wafted up and out of the companionway. This was going to be the best bacon sandwich ever because it was the last of our bacon. It's not that you can't buy bacon in Turkey, it's just very expensive if you buy the packet bacon in a supermarket. At least five times the price. There is a specialist pork butcher in Fethiye where you can get bacon and pork chops but it was a long walk from where we were anchored so we didn't get the opportunity to look at the prices. Oh well it's just another one of those things that we'll have to adjust to.

As predicted by the forecasting websites the wind slowly picked up as we got closer to mid morning and soon we had enough wind to unfurl the head sail and switch off the engine. For the most part it was a steady 20 knots on the beam and we made good speed averaging 6.5 knots. About 40 minutes from our destination the wind picked up to 27 knots and swung around to come from behind. Memories of the difficulty of putting away the head sail in 30 knots of wind as we approached the Greek island of Ios surfaced and not wanting to go through the same again we decided to reef in the head sail. It was a good decision because by the time we were on the final approach into the bay the wind was a steady 30 knots. The engine was started and the last of the head sail was furled away.

Entering a new harbour, marina or anchorage is always a very tense and stressful time for me and this time was no different, in fact it may have been one of my most stomach knotting approaches so far. A B Sea is our only home and all of our worldly possessions are onboard, so I get quite stressed imagining that if I don't get it right we could potentially lose everything. I remember Aannsha trying to make small talk by asking what the bottom would be like for holding the anchor once we got inside. In my mind all I could think was "Who fucking cares, we've got to get in there first without ending up on the rocks." What I actually said was "I can't talk right now" and continued to micro manage the autopilot as best I could with the wind and waves causing the bow of A B Sea to point every which way but loose.

The wind kept blowing, the entrance narrowed down to 0.27 of a kilometre (0.17 mile), and I knew that eventually I'd have to disengage the autopilot and manually steer in through the last little bit of the channel. It's a good job I did because the chart plotter shows an entrance buoy in the middle of the channel with water on either side of it. What my eyes saw was the entrance buoy standing tall upon a large concrete jetty with water only on the south side. I steered with what my eyes told me and as we passed through the narrowest point of the channel the land began to protect us from the wind and the water calmed down somewhat. Within a couple of minutes we were inside the protection of the bay and my stomach unknotted and I began to breathe deeply again to release my tension.

Refueling at Kas marina

Slowing A B Sea down to 4 knots, which is the speed she does in slow ahead in calm water, I headed straight to the fuel jetty and brought her alongside quite easily. We topped off the fuel tank with 99 litres of diesel and pumped out our black water holding tank. After that it was just a simple task of finding a spot in the far east part of the bay to drop our Mantus anchor and put the boat to bed.

Our big journey had finally come to an end and it was a bitter sweet moment for me. Sweet because we'd made it across the Mediterranean from west to east. Bitter because as much as the sailing can sometimes be very stressful, I knew that it would be quite a few weeks before we would be getting out there again and certainly a good few months before we began our zig zag journey back across the Med.

We're not allowed to do it!

Scuba diving is my passion, I simply cannot get enough of it and it's one of the many reasons why we made the decision to buy a yacht and equip it with our own compressor to refill scuba tanks. But today I learned some depressing information about scuba diving in Turkish territorial waters. We're not allowed to do it!

Let me clarify that last paragraph with information taken from the website

Generally when diving in Turkey, Turkish boats should be used, but a foreigner who comes with his own boat can make dives provided that he/she gets permission from the city tourism directorate and must be accompanied by a licensed Turkish guide diver legally appointed by SCSPF.

The guide diver will take every precaution to protect a foreign diver and his belongings, as well as the cultural and natural wealth of Turkey. Anybody who wants to dive must be insured. A guide diver can be obtained from authorized diving centers. Photography or video camera recording is allowed.

I fully understand why the regulations are in place, there are hundreds and hundreds of ancient shipwrecks all around the Turkish coast, not to mention the many ancient harbours and fortifications and Turkey is quite rightfully protecting its cultural heritage from casual souvenir takers and professional artefact hunters. Learning that information now has me rethinking how long we're going to stay in Turkey.

Right now A B Sea is anchored in the sheltered bay right next to Kaş marina and in a week or so we'll be moving around the headland to spend a few months moored in Kaş old harbour where in the summer months scuba diving tourism is big business. The day we first visited Kaş harbour I was amazed at how many big scuba diving boats there were, most of them easily able to carry 30 plus divers per trip. I have since been told that all but one of the dive operators will be closed for the winter months, so when we settle into the harbour I'll be introducing myself and finding out if we can cut a deal for multiple dive days paid upfront as we will be supplying all our own equipment and refilling our own tanks.

There is another factor that we have to take into consideration regarding our length of stay in Turkey and that is our visa restrictions. Upon entry on our UK passports we obtained the standard 90 day visa which means that we, Barry & Aannsha, must leave by January 8th 2019. Then we cannot re-enter Turkey for another 90 days. Our yacht can stay in Turkey for 5 years, leave for 24 hours and then come back in for a further 5 years, but that's another story.

One option that we have to extend our stay is to apply for temporary Turkish residency, for either a 12 or 24 month period. It is a fairly straightforward process, which is mostly completed on line, but it will require us to take a 4.5 hour round trip by bus to the main town of Kemer so that they can physically see our faces and match them with our passports. We'll also have to buy Turkish medical insurance for the time period we are temporary residents. There's a lot to consider and I'll keep you updated as we work through our options.

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