One of our aims for exploring the Turkish coast for the summer of 2021 was to seek out different anchorages than ones we'd previously visited. However choosing which anchorage we spend the night at is decided by many factors.
First there's the wind direction. Along this part of the Turkish coast the wind is generally blowing either from the south or the north, so the anchorage has to have protection from the wind.
The next thing to consider is anchorage depth and holding. Turkey has a lot of anchorages that slope deeply very quickly from the shore and the only way to anchor there is with a line ashore acting as an opposite force to our anchor and chain. We much prefer to drop our Mantus anchor in shallow water and swing freely, especially at this early part of the year when the water temperature does not encourage Aannsha to don her bikini to swim ashore with a line to secure to a big rock and then swim back to the boat. There are many more deeper anchorages than there are shallow sandy ones.
Then there's travel time. Unless there's a specific reason to be somewhere at a particular time it gets tiresome travelling 8 or 10 hours per day between anchorages. That time could be better spent enjoying the views and sounds from our cockpit or doing some work for our sailing channel.
With all of the above said we were very happy to depart Bozukkale after our overnight anchorage and begin the 4 hour trip to Datça where we knew that we could safely anchor in shallow water and swing freely.
We upped the anchor at Bozukkale at 07:00 hours to arrive at Datça early enough to do some grocery shopping and get some more video editing done.
On the way there as we turned north to pass up and along the east coast of the Greek island of Symi we were pleasantly surprised to find that the wind was blowing nicely from the west. We quickly got both sails out and turned off the engine. Bliss.
The wind, as it always is in this part of the Med, was fickle, dropping as low as 14 knots and then getting as high as 25 knots. As the wind speed went up and down so did our boat speed. But it didn't matter and we enjoyed the ride while we could because once we passed the northern tip of Symi we'd be head into the wind as we made for Datça which lay to the west.
Sailing in strange times
As we've sailed the waters around Turkey and Greece we've watched all sorts of vessels ignore the territorial waters boundaries on the charts and although most of the time we try and do the right thing, when we're working with the wind and making good progress it's just easier to cut corners.
We did just that as we reached the north of Symi and sure enough within minutes of crossing the line we saw a high speed vessel come out of Symi town and head right for us. It was the Greek coast guard.
Currently both the Greek and Turkish coast guard are on high alert for various reasons. There's the ever present spat that the two countries have going on over all sorts of disputes. There's the covid travel restrictions between borders and there's the refugee crisis. Many sailing yachts are stolen to be used by people smugglers taking refugees from Turkey to Greece and other Mediterranean countries.
We watched as the Greek coast guard vessel got closer and eventually pulled parallel to us and matched our speed. We waved at the guys inside and they waved back but there was no other communication. After several minutes just observing us they peeled off and headed south.
We've heard rumours that they now have thermal detection units on board and that allows them to look at the heat profile of vessels. With us they would have seen two warm bodies at the helm and a warm engine below. Certainly not a huddled mass of 20 or 30 refugees cowering out of sight in the saloon.
A B Sea showed other signs that we were legitimate sailors and not people smugglers. The YouTube logo and name across the boom, cameras here and there on the deck, a large dinghy strapped to the foredeck and an expensive outboard motor strapped to the davits. All of that stuff would've been removed and sold had we been people smugglers.
After making good time we arrived at the southern anchorage of Datça around 11:30 hours and being the only tourists in town we had the whole anchorage to ourselves. Picking a nice spot in 7m (23ft) we dropped the anchor and put out plenty of chain in preparation for the big winds forecast to blow from the north over the next few days.
Aannsha went below to make sandwiches for lunch while I tidied up the cockpit. There was a ding of a message coming in. It was from Ismail on Wanda. He was tied to the town quay which he explained was currently free of charge. If we wanted to come in he was happy to help catch our stern lines.
Free being the right price, we upped anchor and after two failed attempts because of strong wind gusts we finally got A B Sea secured to the quay on the third go.
Our passerelle was deployed at maximum reach and only just made it to the quay. The water shallows off very quickly at the quay and our rudder is set quite far back so we couldn't get too close for fear of damaging the rudder.
Datça was great for catching up with Ismail and sharing stories, editing videos, writing blogs and having a search around town for some things we needed and waiting out the big wind from the north. But eventually it was time to move on and I'll tell you all about that in next week's blog. Until then stay safe and healthy.
To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.