“I don’t know how comfy this is going to be,” I said as we scoped out Catalada bay.
“No, and the wind’s picking up too,” Baz replied. “I don’t like it.”
Catalada – no shelter – keep going
We’d headed to Catalada island on an overcast, mildly cool morning. When we arrived at Catalada just over three hours later, the wind was increasing, it was a lee shore and there was no shelter. Baz also didn’t like the depth as it got pretty shallow quickly and if the wind had swung around we’d have been in strife.
Plan B – Gümüşlük
We carried on to Plan B – Gümüşlük, a long thin bay with a seaside village and fishing port just north of Bodrum. Baz had to negotiate an old harbour wall to port and an island to starboard, but we found a nice spot and anchored in 15 metres with 40 metres of chain out. The wind was steady at 20 knots and took most of the night to calm down, but by morning it was mild and sunny with a few clouds and slight breeze.
Upping anchor was a bit hairy as a yacht had anchored close to our own anchor the previous evening and we weren’t sure if we’d get away safely, but we did and were soon heading out of the bay towards Didim.
The weather was sunny and mild, with a slight breeze and by 8.30am we had the headsail up as we had 10 knots of wind on the beam. Of course this didn’t last! Twenty minutes later with 6 knots on the nose, we turned on the engine. By 9.45am though, we were close hauled and doing 3.6 knots in 6.1 knots of true wind! At 10.10am those fickle wind gods flicked us the proverbial finger and our speed dropped to 1.6 knots – we weren’t going anywhere fast at this rate! What did we do? We furled in the sails and motored, achieving 5.7 knots. This is how we arrived at Didim at 11.35 and we soon chose a lovely spot in the calm aquamarine water where we dropped anchor in 4.5 metres of water, letting out 20 metres of chain. We were close enough to the D-Marin Marina that we could visit Jim easily, but far enough away that we didn’t obstruct either yachts nor the coast guard vessel.
Didim is a huge sprawling town which caters to tourists along its long waterfront with rows of bars, restaurants and hotels with as many tourist shops and ATMs to satisfy visitors’ demands. Baz and I met our sailor friends and followers, Beverley and Metin who showed us around Didim. Then while Beverley kindly washed our laundry, Metin took us to get our gas bottle refilled (unfortunately they couldn’t fill our particular bottle) and stopped for a while so we could look at the Temple of Apollo. Wasn’t that a surprise!
Temple of Apollo – it’s colossal!
(That’s what she said!) Baz and I have seen some impressive ruins since we’ve been to Turkey, but this one amazed us. This temple was the third largest structure in the Hellenic world with pillars up to 20 metres (65 feet) tall and 2 metres (6.5 feet) in diameter. The oracle at this temple was second only in popularity to the oracle at Delphi and people came from miles around to visit. If we ever return to Didim, we’ll definitely do a proper tour of this vast temple.
That evening we had dinner with Beverley and Metin at a beachside restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed a traditional Turkish soup as an entrée and I then feeling like something different, I had pasta! As is fairly customary for Turkish restaurants, we had sliced fruit as dessert and washed it down with several glasses of Turkish tea. Afterwards, they drove us around the town to show us Didim by night. It was lovely spending time with these two lovely people who we consider good friends and who have been so generous to us.
The following day, we collected Jim in the dinghy and tied up at a nearby hotel jetty that was being renovated. There weren’t any signs to say we couldn’t stop there, so, aiming for an ATM that would give us Euros, we walked into town. We stopped at a sea front restaurant where Jim had a late breakfast and we had an early beer. After that, we found a row of ATMs and headed for the AK Bank one that charges the least amount of interest when we withdraw using our Westpac travel card. We almost weren't allowed back to our dinghy, but eventually the hotel security guards let us pass when they realised there was no other way to get to our tender.
If you’ve read the title of this blog, you’ll already know why we needed Euros – we were going to Greece the following day!
Checking out of Turkey
Checking out of Turkey without an agent at Didim turned out to be virtually impossible as no-one seemed to know what to do. So we went into the marina and hired the agent that Jim had already chosen and for 50 Euros they would do the work for us. Why did we choose to use the agent? Well, apart from it being difficult without one, there was a time factor we had to consider. We could tie up at the D-Marin marina for two hours for free to complete the process, but over and above two hours we’d be charged for a day’s rate (560 TL / AU$ 137). We figured for 50 Euros / AU$ 80, it was worth the money as we weren’t sure if the customs official was present in Didim, or if he had to come from Kuşadası, which is an hour’s drive away.
Baz took all the relevant documents to the agent the next morning so he could start the ball rolling. Then we weighed anchor and went to the fuel dock to refuel and unofficially tie up there while we waited for the paperwork to be returned. While we were there we were hailed by four Aussies from their catamaran, Evenstar, who’d watched our journey on YouTube! We had a good chat with them before the agent returned with our paperwork in good order. We were officially checked out of Turkey.
We were sad to leave Turkey. Kaş was a great home for 7 months and we made many friends there – locals, yachties and overlanders alike. Turkey itself is stunningly beautiful in all respects with a complex history rooted in Lycia, the birthplace of democracy, and it is a gem to sail and anchor in its picturesque bays. Turkey’s people are hard-working, generous and kind, and pretty much everywhere we went we felt safe and respected. Goodbye Turkey, we’ll miss you!
Greece here we come!
The sail to our first overnight stop at the small island of Agathonisi was a short two and a half hours, and we anchored in the bay in front of Agios Georgios, the small village that had a familiar Greek look and feel to it. We heaved a big sigh and had grins on our faces as we hi-fived our congratulations to each other at arriving in Europe - in Greece - with its colourful houses and relaxed culture that spans the centuries and whose ideas and language are still reflected in much of Europe today.
We had a very good night’s sleep anchored in 10 metres with 30 metres of chain out.
Check in to Greece
The following day on the 14th of May 2019 we awoke to warm sunny weather with a few clouds and a light breeze. We upped the anchor at 9.30am and motored (what else did you expect!) around the east corner of the island towards Samos island.
Pythagorion the harbour where we dropped anchor at 12.30pm is a port of entry and we followed a simple process of checking in. We visited the Immigration Police in the small white building on the harbour wall, then proceeded to Customs - the building with the big Greek flag outside on the waterfront. It cost 20 Euros / AU$ 32 for them to check us in there. Then after paying the new Greek Sailing Tax (TEPEI) at the post office (you can also pay at a bank), we went to the Port Police which is situated right next door to Customs and has a picture of crossed anchors by the door. We got our DEKPA (you would get a transit log if you’re a non EU vessel) there. That cost 15 Euros / AU$ 24
The whole process took only about an hour and every official we met was friendly and polite.
Settling into Samos
We stayed in Samos for a few weeks as we seriously needed to catch up on video-making for YouTube and write accompanying blogs. Six weeks’ worth in all. Jim moored in the harbour for three nights before heading off on his own adventures through the Greek Islands. We miss your laugh and lively conversations Jim! And all the best in your sailing adventures Alex!
As I write this, the last of the six blogs – having uploaded all of the videos that we’ve just edited – we are on the eve of overnighting in the harbour. It only costs 10 Euros / AU$ 16 for the night and that includes water and electricity. We’ll fill our water tanks, clean the old girl (that’s A B Sea not me!!) and the following day will catch the wind and head west to the little island of Fournoi. We’ll have six weeks of pure sailing, swimming and diving and after that, we’ll report back to you.
So look out for next week’s blog and video and see what we’ve been up to!