We sailed successfully to Kekova, Turkey, after losing our autopilot and GPS and our first night in Kekova Sound was peaceful and we slept well. We were met with sunshine the next morning and decided to see if our friend Jens was still anchored at the other end of the Sound on his yacht Dilly Dally. As there wasn’t enough wind to power A B Sea's sails we motored there, past the old fort village at Kaleköy with its restaurant jetties, until we spotted the only other yacht in the bay - anchored close to the cliff. It was Jens and when we arrived we rafted to his yacht only a few metres from the rocky shoreline in azure blue water.
Rafting with friends
Jens had a couple of friends visiting from Germany so I went down below and put together a few snacks, while Jens poured me a gin and tonic. He and Baz had a beer and we all enjoyed various topics of conversation and a few laughs.
After a couple of hours Baz and I left Dilly Dally and headed towards a more sheltered bay, further inland, as the weather prediction sites Windy.com and PredictWind.com were forecasting strong wind for the following evening. This little bay had more hills in the wind direction than our previous anchorage and we slept well. The anchorage is situated just west of the little fishing village of Kaleüçağız and the following morning we took the dinghy to explore the small town.
Fresh fish feast
We tied to the end of one of the pontoons on the council run jetty and headed for the village. Kaleüçağız is a small, old village built alongside ancient ruins and it didn’t take us too long to walk around it. It had a small supermarket, a few little tourist shops and restaurants and we could imagine how lively it would get in the summer season.
After our tour, we found Hassan’s Restaurant which is set on the sea front overlooking the harbour. He (and several other restaurants) used to have wooden jetties for yachts to tie up to, but these were pulled down when the council decided to erect theirs. Being famous for cooking fresh local fish, Hassan has found that this hasn’t deterred visitors though and his colourful restaurant is decorated with the hats and flags of tourists from all parts of the world.
Hassan and his wife were lovely and we chose to have fresh, locally caught sea bass for lunch. We watched Hassan clean and gut the fish directly in the harbour water and then he filleted it and cooked it on a grill over burning embers in the fireplace-style oven of his restaurant.
He served this on a large platter accompanied with homemade garlic sauce along with salad, chips and fresh bread. We reckoned that this was one of the tastiest lunches we’d had for a long time. Hassan definitely earns his reputation as fresh fish restaurateur.
After lunch we asked him about the most protected place to anchor from the wind that was predicted for the following day and Hassan advised us to move closer towards the western end of the bay we were in. With full bellies and satisfied taste buds, we returned to A B Sea and followed his advice.
High winds and rain storm
Our wind speed indicator was missing its cups, so when the wind did arrive that afternoon we weren’t exactly sure what the wind speed was, but we estimated that it reached 20 knots, gusting up to 35 knots. However, together with the bay’s shelter and our oversized Mantus anchor we endured the day and night without incident and our tracker showed that the boat stayed in one place.
After checking the weather the following morning, we decided that we’d be wise to return to Kaş that day, as it was the best weather window for a couple of days. It looked as if the wind would be reasonable but possibly blowing more on the nose than on the beam. But, as we didn’t want to get caught out if the winds turned out to be stronger than predicted, we left early.
We had a good sail for over an hour, tacking in 15 to 20 knot winds. However we saw a storm front with lightning heading towards us from the direction of Kaş and as it approached the wind picked up. This was followed by rain but luckily we got our wet weather gear on just before the downpour. Between the two of us we managed to steer and tack – Baz working the lines and sheets while I hand steered and held appropriate lines so Baz could manage the sails more easily. It was an exhilirating sail!
After the rain front passed, the wind died and we were left with flapping sails. There was no option but to furl them in and motor home for the last half of our four hour passage.
We arrived in Kaş, a tad damp but feeling triumphant. We’d sailed home without the assistance of an autopilot and with a rainstorm thrown in. All that was left to do was hang out our wet clothes to dry in the tranquil warm weather in Kaş marina bay, and put the boat to bed.
Our shakedown cruise to Kekova had been a success, not just because we’d enjoyed meeting friends, eating fresh fish and discovering amazing Lycian ruins. It was also a success because we’d discovered that our autopilot was in need of fixing or replacing, and we’d also learned that we’re growing together as a sailing team.
Changing our sailing plans
While we were on our passage home, we realised too that tacking when the wind is hard on the nose can add considerable time to a journey. Because of this, we rethought our plan to sail to Istanbul and then over to visit a friend in Thessaloniki in Greece, as the direction of the prevailing wind would oftentimes be against us. Instead, we decided to fly to Istanbul for a three night visit, and only sail as far as Kuşadasi before heading over to the island of Samos in Greece. That will give us much more time to explore the Greek islands over this summer season.
Feeling excited at our upcoming trip to Istanbul, Baz and I started to make plans about what we wanted to see in this ancient city that straddles two continents and which was once called Constantinople. Little did we know what we were going to encounter on our first day there. But I’ll tell you about that next time.