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Barry's Blog #191 - War games

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Last week I ended my blog just as I pulled the plug on the idea of spending some time anchored and filming in the Göcek area of Turkey. The crowded summer anchorages were making me nervous about performing the 'taking a line ashore' anchoring manoeuvre, which is the only way to anchor in Göcek.

Plan B anchorage

If you've been following our blogs and videos for a while you'll know that we always like to have at least two back up anchorages pre-planned in case plan A anchorage doesn't work out for whatever reason.

After talking to Kev on our buddy boat Barbara Ann we departed the Göcek area and headed north west to Asi Koyu anchorage. We arrived 3 hours later and Kev went in ahead of us to check things out. We'd heard that there was a small restaurant jetty there where we could tie up for the night.

As we got further into the bay we could see no sign of a jetty and it was obvious from the swell coming into the quite exposed bay that anchoring was out of the question because it would be a lee shore and a very rolly night. Onwards to plan C anchorage.

Plan C anchorage

Plan C was another 2 hours to the north north west, a place called Ekincik. As we got deeper into Ekincik bay the swell dropped and the anchorage opened up to reveal a large area with shallow water and a sandy bottom. Perfect to drop the hook and swing freely. We planned on staying at Ekincik for just one night and then move on to Marmaris where we'd spend a few days getting some small boat jobs done and filming around the area.

We had dinner and settled down for an early night.

War games

The following day I woke up at 07:00 hours and went on deck, and as I always do, I visually checked around the boat for anything out of place. Everything looked okay, but gazing out of the bay I could see several Turkish warships lining the horizon.

We knew that navel war games were going on along the coast, as we'd listened for a whole day as the deep rumblings of the live fire exercises went on when we'd been moored at Karacaören earlier in the week.

Before bed we'd spoken to Kev and arranged that we'd be leaving as early as possible for the 3 hour run to Marmaris before the strong winds came in from the west, that of course was the direction we wanted to go and strong wind on the nose is no fun as it makes for a very bouncy ride.

As Aannsha and I prepared A B Sea to up anchor we got a call from Kev, who'd left slightly earlier, it wasn't good news.

He'd exited the bay, turned west and set a course for Marmaris. A Turkish frigate had come alongside and stood off his port side and hailed him on the VHF radio. They gave him 3 options.

Option 1: Return to Ekincik bay and wait until they finished their exercises for the day and depart for Marmaris after 20:00 hours.

Option 2: Head south east back to Fethiye, 6 hours away.

Option 3: Travel a 60 nautical mile (10 hours) square around their area of operations and get to Marmaris that way. The only option that made sense was option 1, but that had its drawbacks. If we departed Ekincik at 20:00 hours the west wind would be at its peak at that time of night and we'd be arriving in the busy anchorage of Marmaris way after dark.

We decided to stay at Ekincik another night and because we'd been told that they didn't start their exercises until 07:00 hours we planned to up anchor the following day at 05:00 hours and be two thirds of the way to Marmaris before they began.

Return to the anchorage

That’s what we did and so did several other yachts that had inadvertently found themselves trapped at Ekincik. However after exiting the bay and turning west we were approached by the frigate and offered the same 3 options. Reluctantly we returned to Ekincik.

By now I was get frustrated and grumpy and pondered the plight of people who charter a yacht for a week only to find themselves stuck in one bay for the duration of daylight hours.

The other thing was that we were being told we couldn't transit the area because of live firing exercises. They weren't doing any live firing because we'd heard none, unlike the definitive super loud booming that we'd heard while at Karacaören.

We'd now spent 3 days and 2 nights at Ekincik, we didn't want to spend a third night there. We'd been in touch with the Turkish coast guard and they'd told us we could transit the navel exercise area and head to Marmaris from 18:00 hours. Not ideal given the strong west wind and arriving at night time. But it was our best option for getting out of Ekincik bay.


We decided not to waste time just sitting and waiting for 18:00 hours to roll around so we lowered our dinghy and went ashore to have a look around.

As is always the case when we come ashore we instantly get adopted by one of the local street dogs who wants to show us around. Maybe the street dogs have got wise to strangers in town being the ones who go for something to eat and are likely to feed them some tasty morsels.

We wandered around, saw some goats, found 3 mini marts selling basic provisions, checked out the beach and finally settled at a beach bar/restaurant and had something to eat and drink while we watched A B Sea gently swing at anchor.

To Marmaris

That afternoon as we sat in the cockpit of A B Sea we could see evidence of the west wind picking up with small white caps blowing across the entrance of the bay. At 17:00 hours we prepped the boat ready to up anchor at 17:30 hours. We wanted to be exiting the bay at precisely 18:00 hours in hopes of making it to Marmaris while there was still enough light left to find a spot in the busy anchorage.

A B Sea and Barbara Ann exited the bay together, and immediately we were out of the protection of the land we were pounding into the wind and waves. It was going to be a bouncy ride.

The cameras never show how big the sea state is and in this week's video it doesn't look anywhere near to what it actually was. However even at full throttle the wind and waves were doing a good job of slowing us down to 3.7 knots. It was going to take longer than the expected 3 hours to get there and we'd definitely be anchoring in the dark.

Thankfully as we headed further west the land offered us some protection from the wind and as the fetch area got less and less the waves became smaller and we entered Marmaris bay doing our usual speed of 6.8 knots.

It was fully dark when we arrived at the anchorage in the north east corner of the big bay and slowly threaded our way between the anchored boats looking for a spot with the right depth and enough space between the other boats to drop our hook.

It's very difficult to judge distances in the dark and even more difficult to differentiate mast anchor lights or other boat lights against the blaze of background lights on shore.

At 21:25 hours we found a spot, not ideal in 12 metres (39 feet) of water, but it seemed to have plenty of swing space. As there was little wind in the bay it would do for tonight and we'd find a better spot in the morning. Time for a snack, a beer and bed. The following morning I came on deck and was pleasantly surprised at how I'd managed to position A B Sea a perfect distance from all of the other anchored boats. I patted myself on the back.

A radio message from Kev informed us that he was moving into Marmaris marina to get some boat jobs done and that he was anchored in 8 metres (26 feet). When he upped anchor we moved into his shallower vacant spot.

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Until next week stay safe and healthy.

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