I'm usually a very meticulous planner but I had made an oversight in the flag department. Way back in May 2018, while we were still in Spain having work done to A B Sea, I'd looked at every country that borders the Mediterranean Sea and ordered courtesy flags for the ones that we'd hopefully be visiting including Turkey which at that point in time wasn't even on our radar.
So which flag had I missed? I'll get to that later in this blog.
Always have a plan B
We upped anchor at Knidos on Friday 10th of May. It was overcast and there was a slight chill to the 8 knot breeze that was totally useless for sailing A B Sea. Our planned destination was a small island off the Turkish coast called Catalada. After 3 hours of motoring we arrived just as the wind gods decided to actually do some work, this presented an issue with where we were hoping to anchor.
The wind was picking up quickly and the forecast websites indicated that it would be a steady 15 knots all night. The anchorage was totally exposed to the wind so it was probably going to be very bouncy. To add to that I just didn't like the depths that we'd need to drop our anchor in to be certain of staying away from the shallows.
Go to plan B. Which was a very protected anchorage called Gümüşlük just 45 minutes to the north. It's another entrance with the remnants of old harbour walls submerged just below the surface, so we took it nice and slow going in.
There were quite a few boats already anchored or tied up to the small jetty. So we worked our way to the back of the anchorage and dropped the anchor in 15 metres (49 feet) of water, she dug in straight away and we let 40 metres (131 feet) of chain out just in case the wind picked up more than predicted.
An uneventful night passed and the following morning we left the anchorage at 8.30am for the 3 hour trip to Didim. The ever playful wind gods made our ship's log read like this.
08:30 Left Gümüşlük - Sunny, some clouds, mild, slight breeze
08:30 Headsail up as 10 knots T on the beam
08:50 Headsail away as wind shifted to 6 knots on the nose. Motored @ 5.9 knots in overdrive
09:45 Both sails up as 6.1 knots T, close hauled achieving 3.6 knots speed
10:10 Wind died. Speed down to 1.6 knots. Furled away sails. Motored @ 5.7 knots in overdrive
11:35 Arrived Didim anchorage in the bay near the entrance to D-Marin marina
Dropped anchor in 4.5m of water, let out 20m chain.
Check out time
While we were in Didim we arranged to meet up with Beverley and Metin, they had dropped by A B Sea earlier in the year while we were in the harbour at Kaş and said that if we were ever in their home town to look them up.
Beverley very kindly washed a couple of loads of laundry at their house and Metin gave us a quick tour of Didim which included the huge temple of Apollo. As yacht owners themselves they fully understood what our priorities were and as well as everything mentioned above we were able to do a big shop, fitting everything into their car and easily getting it back to A B Sea. That evening we met up for dinner in a local Turkish restaurant and had a great time sharing sailing stories and musing over future sailing plans.
A sad farewell
Monday the 13th of May was a bag of mixed feelings. It was the day we were saying goodbye to Turkey after 7 months of over wintering and both Aannsha and I had a tear in our eyes when we left.
We had wanted to do the check out process ourselves but no one seemed to know how to process our paperwork without the use of an agent. So reluctantly we paid the 50 Euros (AU$80) and left our paperwork with the agent who said he'd meet us at the marina fuel dock in 45 minutes.
Anchor up and a short 3 minute trip into the marina to refuel and as promised the agent turned up with our completed paperwork and we were off.
It was a sad moment leaving Turkey behind in our wake, but there was also excitement at what lay ahead. We were heading for Greece. In particular a town called Pythagorio on the Greek island of Samos where we'd be checking in.
However there was one picturesque anchorage, called Ay Yeoryiou bay, to be enjoyed along the way on the small Greek island of Agathonisi. As we hadn't yet officially checked in we couldn't go ashore but we still anchored and enjoyed the tranquillity of the quaint little fishing village.
DIY check in
A civilised start at 9.30am saw us dropping anchor in the bay at Pythagorio, Samos by 12.30pm. This is the moment that we should've been flying that flag that I forgot to buy.
A yellow Q flag should be flown below the starboard mast spreader until a yacht and its crew are properly cleared by customs and immigration, after which the Q flag is replaced by the courtesy flag of whichever country you are in.
The only thing we had on board that was yellow, was a common household duster and Aannsha got out the sewing kit to make it the right shape. From a distance no one would be able to see that it wasn't a proper flag.
We dropped the anchor in 4 metres (13 feet) of water and let out 20 metres (65 feet) of chain plus our snubber. Then with all of our documents we went ashore to check into Greece. It was a fairly straightforward procedure which took an hour to complete.
First stop was the office of the passport (Immigration) police, then to the customs office and finally the port police. We paid 20 Euros (AU$32) at customs and 15 Euros (AU$24) at port police for the Dekpa and a 1 Euro (AU$1.60) processing fee at the post office were we paid 339.80 Euros (AU$547) for 3 months of the new Greek cruising tax.
We were now officially in Greece and once again in the EU. The only concern in the back of our minds now is Brexit. Then the rules may change as to how long we, as UK passport holders and A B Sea as a UK registered vessel, can stay in EU countries and more importantly in the Shengen Zone. But I'll talk more about that if or when it happens.