When you find somewhere of exceptional beauty and tranquillity it can make you want to stay forever. The small protected bay at Karacaoeren on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is one of those places.
Once again I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's wind back 48 hours and start at the beginning.
Wind gods are annoying
If you were on holiday you'd say the weather was perfect. Clear blue skies, calm flat crystal clear water and just a gentle breeze to caress you as you lay by the water's edge soaking up the warmth of the sun.
But we weren't on holiday, it was Friday 26th April and we were on the very first day of our summer 2019 sailing season in the Mediterranean and we wanted some wind. Nothing too much, a steady 15 knots would suffice. The wind gods laughed and pointed in our direction as they sniggered while giving each other a nudge and a wink.
Therefore it was a mixed bag of emotions as we began our short hop of 4 hours from the bay at Kaş marina to a bay called Yeşilköy slightly west of Kalkan. Excitement to be on the next leg of our journey, disappointment there was no wind and a little anxiety to be cutting the umbilical cord that Kaş had become while we spent 5 months overwintering.
Kaş to Kalkan
Before we'd left we spoke with several of our sailing friends who all said that we'd need to take a line ashore to supplement our anchor whilst in Yeşilköy. The holding was notoriously bad and there were several reports of anchors dragging in the middle of the night when katabatic winds gusted out of nowhere down the steep hillsides surrounding the bay.
On the first major leg of our journey we were fortunate to be accompanied by our friend Jim on his yacht Acheron. He and his crewmate Alex were going all the way to Samos in Greece with us before they set off in a different direction.
Jim said that he'd anchored half a dozen times at Yeşilköy and had never had his anchor drag.
When we arrived in the bay Jim went in first to drop anchor in a spot he knew was good holding, then we dropped our anchor in the same general area. We dropped in 10 metres (33 feet) of water and let out 50 metres (164 feet) of chain. Probably overkill, but when you're snuggled in bed and the wind picks the last thing you want to hear is a dragging anchor and then have to go up on deck and bugger around in the dark getting the anchor reset and letting more chain out. In our opinion it's best to let it all out and make use of it. It does you no good sitting in the chain locker.
Kalkan to Karacaoeren
The much feared katabatic wind didn't show up that night, which we were thankful for and by 10am on Saturday 27th April we were storing our 50 metres (164 feet) of chain back in the locker as we brought up our anchor.
This was another relatively short hop which we expected to take between 5 and 6 hours depending on the wind. As we left Yeşilköy bay I'm sure I could hear distant sniggering echoing off the surrounding hillsides.
Before departure we'd looked at the various online wind prediction websites and they all told a different story. No wind, some wind, nice wind, wind not going our way. The only real way to find out was to stick the nose of A B Sea out there and see what was really happening. The answer was no wind, so once again we were motoring. Sigh.
Karacaoeren is picture postcard perfect. A well protected little bay with a rustic Turkish restaurant perched on the water's edge. The restaurant owner is a smart guy and has spent time and money laying out mooring balls in the bay. Let me explain. His business is reliant solely on visiting yachts. There is no road that leads to his restaurant, the only access is by boat.
When a yacht is on anchor it is moved by the wind speed and direction and in the course of a day it can do a 360 degree pirouette around its own anchor and the anchor may be 10 metres (33 feet) from the bow of the boat. It's called the swinging circle.
So let's play with numbers. 5 metres of water (16.5 feet) requires 20 metres (65.5 feet) of chain out and that's in perfect conditions, more chain is required if the wind is blowing hard.
If you stick 10 yachts in the bay all swinging on their anchor then that would make the bay full. There'd be no room at the inn (restaurant) for newcomers.
But if every yacht in the bay is tied to a mooring ball which is perfectly attached to the seabed at the correct distance from the surface, a yacht simply swings around the same spot in 5 metres (16.5 feet) of water. This then allows for 20 yachts to be in the bay, thereby doubling the potential customers for the restaurant.
The mooring balls are 'free' as long as you buy a meal or drinks at the restaurant.
Let's explore the restaurant
Getting from your yacht to the restaurant is easy, you simply whistle for a taxi. Someone from the restaurant staff will come by in their tender to bring you ashore and drop you home again later.
It's a very rustic restaurant and they have toilets and showers you can use, which although basic are very serviceable. The welcome is warm, the beer is cold and the food is yummy. Jim, Alex, Aannsha and I had a great meal with lovely wine and although the prices are a bit higher than you'd pay in a restaurant in a Turkish town you have to take into consideration that everything is either locally grown or brought in by boat, plus you get to sleep soundly at night attached to a mooring ball.
The bonus is waking up in the morning. I'm an early riser, I like the calm stillness. Not just the water and wind but also the mental energy, it feels like the world is momentarily silent as everyone else is still asleep and the myriad of peoples' waking thought processes have not yet begun to buzz around on the ether.
Karacaoeren to Kucuk Kargi Koyu
Try saying that three times fast! We spent two nights at Karacaoeren before we reluctantly slipped our line from the mooring ball and once again found ourselves motoring further west and north to our next overnight anchorage at Kucuk Kargi Koyu.
This was another wide bay, not as pretty as Karacaoeren but still very tranquil. There is a resort at the end of the bay and they did have live music until late but it wasn't too loud. OMG I'm sounding like an old fart talking about loud music like that, which is pretty ironic seeing as I was a professional DJ for 23 years.
The water in this bay is a light coffee colour which indicated to me that the bottom was muddy. This was confirmed as we dropped our anchor into 7 metres (23 feet) of water and A B Sea lurched to an instant halt. Our Mantus was definitely in and even though there was no significant wind predicted we let out 35 metres (115 feet) of chain so we could sleep soundly. As an extra safety precaution we set an anchor alarm once darkness fell.
It was an uneventful night and the next morning we once again awoke to beautiful weather conditions and prepared A B Sea ready to make our way to the next anchorage where team A B Sea would need to perfectly coordinate our actions to pull off our very first line ashore stern-to mooring.
I'll tell you all about that in next week's blog.