TRACING THE WAKE OF KISMET AND SADUN BORO ,
OUR LONG VOYAGE FINALLY STARTS
We have arrived in Bozcaada on the 3rd of July, after saying goodbye to our Marmara Yacht Rally friends in Çanakkale. Our next stop was Ayvalik Marina, where we had a jolly welcome by our friends of the Denizde Yaşayanlar Club, who will join the Northern Aegean Rally. Murat Sezmiş informed us that Denizde Yaşayanlar members are inviting us to a dinner party. A large group of sailors hosted us in Deniz Restaurant at Cunda Island; another great evening to remember. The next evening we joined to the opening party of the Northern Aegean Yacht Rally, organized by Setur Marina. It was good to meet so many friends.
On the 5th of July, our beloved friends in Paganini, Krem Şanti and Imbat 3 arrived at Ayvalik Marina. Although we would like to pass more time with them, we must leave for İstanbul to attend our last minute arrangements. The visas take a long time, and finally, as we get on the bus back in Ayvalik by the end of July, we stil do not have our passports. Our sailor friend Ümit Küçükçolak, who took the responsibility of obtaining visas for us, promises to send our passports by cargo. In the meantime we have a lovely time together with our friends Banu and Aykut Herekman from s/y BAST 2. On the 30th of July Ümit announces that all the visas are granted, and the next day we receive our passports. We are now ready to start our voyage.
LEG1: AYVALIK TO CHORFU
We started to work at 9:00AM on Monday 1st of August. First of all we have cleared with the passport Police, the port officials, and the customs, and finally we have settled our account with the Setur Marina. When we have returned to the boat, surprise! Our goodbye cheer leaders Aykut and Berna Herekman, are waiting for us together with a group of friends, members of the press, Coastguard officials, Yucel Bey, the Marina Manager. We have hoisted our ceremony flags, got on with the interviews, received the Galatasaray flag that Aykut has handed us to carry with us around the world. At 2:00 PM we said goodbye, and left the marina accompanied by s/y BAST 2, Coast guard boat, and the marina dinghy. In Cunda Channel, the dinghies left us, and at Çiplak Island we said goodbye to our friends in BAST 2, Hoisted our sails, and turned towards Lesvos Island (39°06'N,26°33.5 E). The last few weeks have passed what it seems like a big long farewell, starting with İstanbul, all MAYRA ports, Çanakkale, and Ayvalik. Thank you, all our friends, for contributing your good wishes, giving us all the support, and filling our boat with sweet memories that will warm our hearts through our long voyage.
We have reached Mitilini Port after a comfortable sail at 3:00 PM. We cleared with the police and the customs, who issue a transitlog, and had our transitlog stamped at the port Office. They ask us to come back at the day of departure both for payment for the port services, and for the stamp. We have anchored and tied stern to the pier, right inside the city. Electricity and water are on the pier. We put our sun awning and wait for the day to cool down before going out for a walk in search of a good restaurant. A not very satisfactory dinner accompanied by ouzo and Greek Salad at a nearby taverna, and we go back to our boat for a sleep disturbed by heavy motorcycle traffic.
We decide to remain here one more day. Nilgün is determined to quit smoking, which she started again after 6 years. We make a long city tour and shop at a market. The city is full of beautiful old buildings. The minaret of the ancient Cami has collapsed, it reminds us of the Churches in Zeytinbağı. In the afternoon we are surprised by a short visit of our friend Cem from s/y HyFlyer, with a bottle of raki in his hand. We say goodbye to him as he leaves for Bozcaada. Nilgun is working hard to finish her Mayra 2005 film. In the evening, we pick up the CD containing the fotographs that Aykut has taken during our days in Ayvalik and our final sail to Lesvos. We have a light supper in the boat and go to bed early for an early start tomorrow.
August 3rd, we drop in the port Office, and weigh anchor which is practically covered with mud. The seawater system that we have just installed was a great help. Our stop at the end of the day is Psara Island (38°32.4'N, 25°33,5'E). We leave the port at 07:30 in very calm weather. In the Southeast corner of the Lesvos Island, we find a 20 knot North wind, and hoist our sails. In the afternoon, the wind died for an hour, then started blowing 30-35 knots as we approach the tiny harbour of the Psara island. There are a couple of boats in this cosy harbour.History of the Island reveals that in 1824 the Ottomans had a fight with the rebels. The harbor master comes and ask us to visit the Port Office. The German flag boat that enters the port right after we do is not requested to do the same. We have the wrong flag! Anyway, the port people were friendly, it only takes a couple of minutes to clear off the Office. We take a brief walk, take some pictures around the town, sit down in the only taverna to have a fish and salad and ouzo dinner, and go to bed.
August 4th: We start off early on the 4th of August. This time we are aiming to sail 65 NM to Karistos Port (38°01'N, 24°25E), situated in the Southwest corner of the Evia Island. The weather forecast is almost the same as yesterday, northerlies, but only with a force of 8 knots. This wind doesn't move our boat efficiently, therefore w edecide to turn on the engine. After a peaceful day we arrive at Karistos port at 5:45 PM. We anchor and tie stern to, and do our daily ritual of visiting the port Office. We fill our emply tank with Euro Diesel, connect to AC, wash the salt off our boat, and do our laundry. In the evening we go to a nearby restaurant and have a souvlaki feast. Karistos is a semi-touristic town with bars, cafes and restaurants at the seashore. The traditional Greek architecture that one expects to find is replaced by modern apartment buildings. The roads are straight, as if drawn by ruler, and the city is very tidy.
Friday, the 5 th of August we wake up to a very calm day again. It will not be possible to do any sailing, therefore we decide to set our route to a nearby island, Aios Nicolaus Port of Kea Island (37°40'N,24°19'E). We pay for the port and get our transitlog back, and start off at 8:55 AM. At 12:45 we reach the Aios Nicolaos town of the barren Kea Island . We drop our anchor at the Northeastern Vourkari bay and jump into the crystal clear water. We decide to have a peaceful night away from the night noises of the town, and remain anchored. After a delicious home cooked dinner accompanied by Greek music, we watch the newcomers who try in vain to find a space in the town pier. They end up staying on anchor. We believe that they are the weekend cruisers from Athens . Gray clouds invade the sky, but no rain.
Saturday, the 6 th of August. We had a restless night, the boat turned to all directions and tried without success to pull off our anchor. We are proud of our new Turkish Ultra anchor that behaves quite stubbornly under all types of torture. The clouds have turned to black, this time loaded with lots of rain. Anyway, it did not last long, and we start at 10:00 AM for our new destination Aegina Island (37°44,5'N,23°25.5E). This will be our last stop before the Corinth Canal . The port is very close to Pirea (16 NM), therefore is a summer place for Athenians. The port is reportedly very crowded during the summer, anyhow, we are able to find a place to tie stern to the town pier. The boats that came late were not as lucky, and had to look for another port to overnight. It is clear that in this area a boat must enter a port not later than 5:00 PM in order to find a place. Aegina is a typical Island with well preserved small old houses and very narrow streets. Fruit and vegetables are sold in small fishing boats. The Island is famous with its pistachio nuts. The street along the port shore is lined with taverns and bars which become alive and vibrates with laughter and music after the sunset. Nilgün suggests an excursion by ferry to Hydra and Poros Islands . We go and check the ferry schedule. We will have a tour tomorrow.
Sunday, 7 th of August. We take the 9:10 ferry to Hydra (37°21'N,23°28'E), and arrive at 11:30. It was intriguing to watch the huge ferryboat to enter with delicate tact into the miniscule port, discharge its passengers and leave quickly. We are enchanted by the beauty of the tiny ancient town. Cars are replaced by mules and donkeys, and sea transportation is made by fast marine taxies. We have a quick city tour, have lunch at a seaside restaurant, and take the flying dolphin' catamaran at 13:30 to go to Poros Island (37°30'N,23°27'E) . Despite the heat, we have our city tour. One thing to remember when traveling in Greek Islands is that between 11:00AM to 6:00 PM the whole town is asleep. What looks like a ghost town during the siesta time flourish with people and action when the heat cools off. Because of our wrong timing we were a little disappointed with Poros. The island is so close to Peleponnes that two boats cannot pass the channel at the same time. The town is at a small peninsula, and its harbour is full of yachts. There are also a lot of boats on anchor in the bays nearby. We catch the 3:20 ferry to arrive at Aegina at 5:00PM. We find our Vagabond undisturbed, do our last minute shopping, and have dinner in the boat. We will pass the Corinth Canal tomorrow.
August 8 th . We leave Aegina at 9:10 AM with a 20 knot wind right on the nose. The waves are quite high, but when we accelerate, Vagabond relaxes. We leave the 22 NM behind in four hours, and come alongside at the pier in the east side of the channel. We pay the 151 for our passage and fill up our tanks with Diesel. In half an hour the channel traffic opens and we start our passage. Nilgün takes a video from every viewpoint in the boat, including the top of the mizzen mast. The channel is 3,5 miles long, and at 2:00PM we get off the channel to meet our wind of 20 knots right on the nose. The sea is quite rough, but we have a short way to go, and at 3:45PM we arrive in Kiato (38°01'N,22°45'E). The Kiato port is unfinished but comfortable. No water, no electricity, but a lot of wind that turns our wind generator. We do our first city tour at the siesta time. When we return to our boat the port officer invites us to his office. After the formalities finish we have dinner at a restaurant by the sea, even then the city did not come alive.
August 9th. We wake up with no wind at all. We go into the city once more to get some gas for the dinghy to see that the city finally woke up. We discover a good supermarket and do our shopping. We leave the port at 10:00 AM for Galaxidhi (38°23'N,22°23'E) 28 NM away on the North shore in Krissa Bay . We discover a nice little bay very close to Galaxidhi and decide to have a swim stop. It is such a lovely spot, that we postpone our visit to Galaxidhi and stay there overnight.
August 10 th . We leave our delightful bay at 10:00AM, enter and exit Galaxidhi just to take photos and video, and continue our way to Trizonia Island (38°22N,22°04,5E). The wind is on the beam this time, but not strong enough, therefore we put the engine on again. The Corinth Bay is getting very narrow, and although we follow the northern coastline, we can watch the south coast. The traffic of yachts is heavy, most of them Italians. We arrive in Trizonia at 2:00PM. This is a very large marina on the eastern side of the island, full of boats. The village is small but very cute. A little further north there is a little bay where boats carry passangers to and from the mainland town. There are a couple of fish taverns and just one market. The island is crowded by the natives, Greek tourists from nearby towns, and yachtsmen. Trizonia has been the first stop of s/y Mat in its 2003 Atlantic Voyage, therefore we get some information from Teoman. We capture lots of photos and videos, and have a quiet evening in our boat.
11 th and 12 th of August. We depart Trizonia at 9:00AM in very peaceful weather. We wish to discover briefly Navpaktos (38°23,5'N,21°50'E) and then go to Patras (38°15'N,21°44'E), the third largest city of Greece . Navpaktos is a well preserved ancient town built on the slopes of a steep mountain, with a crown of a medieval castle on the peak. The little harbour is too shallow for us to enter, therefore we just approach, take photos and continue our way to Patras. Soon after we see from a distance the spectacular Rion bridge 2250 meters long. We sail underneath the bridge to Patras port. Passing the very heavy traffic of gigantic and super fast ferries to Cephalonia and Italy , we entered the marina in the east of the port at 12:45 PM. It is nice to connect to powers of civilization electric and water. We wash the boat inside out, fill the tanks, do the laundry with our tiny new washing machine (1Lt). It works perfectly well in places where water is plenty. We fill our tank with diesel. In the afternoon we take a walk to the city. Patras is a lively city with many modern buildings. Here and there you see glamorous old buildings. St Sophia cathedral is a miniature of the one in Istanbul . On the steep hills at the back of the city there is an old castle very dramatically illuminated at night. The Port offices did not neglect to stamp our transitlog. The marina demands a fee of minimum two days. And we think now is the time to sit back and enjoy the luxury of the marina and the beauty of this little city. In the evening Senol Iskeceli, who is bringing his new boat from France calls, and we decide to meet him and his crew in Cephalonia . We spend the next day shopping for provisions, and discovering the city. We search Western Mediterranean Charts at various chandleries, but we end up finding only charts for Greece . Nilgün is working hard to finish her MAYRA film. We try to have a quiet evening despite the loud chattering of the Italian neighbors.
August 13th Having finished our final preparations, we start off at 10:40 in very calm weather to the Ionean Sea. Life at the marina charged our batteries in all sense, we will see where our next marina life will take place. Our port of destination today is somewhere in the Ithaca Island , the homeland of Odysseus. We will discover the west side from North to south. We plan to enter the Frikes Port (38 27.5N, 20 40E) first. In our passage of 53NM, having seen numerous ferries, motoryachts, sailing vessels and inflated boats with extreme speed, we come to the conclusion that Ithaca ports will be very crowded. As we reach Frikes, the wind starts to blow from the west. The port is fully occupied, and there is no place to stay on anchor. We continue to sail south to Kioni (38 27N, 20 41.5E). Kioni Port is also full, therefore we drop our anchor outside the port. The bottom is weed, and we have to repeat a couple of times, but finally our position is fixed, and we sit down to have a late supper. The wind doesn't calm down during the night, and Vagabond starts exploring the bay by herself. Nilgün notices the situation in the small hours of the day, and we drop the anchor once more with success. A weary night on anchor, but we plan to arrive at Vathi to guarantee a place to tie to.
14 th of August. We sail with just a Genoa the complete distance of 8 NM with gradually increasing westerlies. Vathi port and the marina are fully occupied with motoryachts, mostly Italians. We find a free space, and moored stern-to with the wind on our port bow. We are right at the center of the town, and we take a walk to explore the town. Upon our return, the wind gets wilder to 30-35 knots, and our mooring place gets really uncomfortable. Our next door neighbor hits the concrete wall and breaks the stern, and we decide to leave and stay safely on anchor across the mooring place. The wind never ceases during the day, and the waves are quite high, but we are sure that our anchor is holding. We watch an old version of Pearl Harbour in English on the Greek TV. The wind decreases, and lets us sleep.
15 th -19 th of August. We weigh anchor at 9:30AM to leave Ithaca for Cephalonia Island . St. Eufemina Port (38 18N, 20 36E) is 14.5NM away. The weather is calm, we have to motor. We moor stern-to to the northern quay of St. Eufemina. The port is crowded but very comfortable, we connect to electricity and water. Fuel tanker comes upon request. There are even showers with hot water across the street. This is the cosy little town which hosted the film Captain Corelli's Mandoline. The décor of the film has changed a lot, but here and there houses damaged during the 1953 earthquake can be seen. There are lots of taverns, shops, pensions and hotels. There is even a beach inside the port, but many people prefer to swim in the chrystal clear waters outside the port. Towards the evening boats arrive, and the quay is crowded. The latecomers have to stay on anchor. We have the dinner at a tavern after the two days we had to stay aboard. We decide to stay here a couple of days, rent a car and explore the island. The next day, however, a strong western wind starts to blow, and we decide to remain aboard. This was a wise decision, there are a lot of charter boats that cause catastrophes. Nilgün takes advantage of the electricity connection to work on her famous Mayra Film. In the meantime Şenol Iskeceli, who is bringing his boat s/y Eda from France to Turkey calls, and we decide to meet them in this port on the 19 th of August. They say that they are craving for white beans and pilav. Days pass exploring the town, minding our anchor and chain, and completing some unfinished work in the boat and chatting with changing neighbors. The Mayra film finally ends and Nilgün puts the film in a DVD to send it to Ataköy Marina, Istanbul .
19 th of August. s/y Eda, with its owner Şenol, its crew Ali and Can arrive at 5:30PM. Only 3 is left from the starting crew of 5. They look a little tired, because they have rocked and rolled throughout the voyage of 32 hours from Italy to here. They took their showers, shop for provisions and be our guests for dinner. Nilgün has prepared lamb chops, white beans, pilav, fried obergines, salad, and bought some Greek baklavas for desert. Nice chats about memories of the passages pull the spirits up. Umut, their fourth crew arrive via Athens , and with the same taxi that brought him they carry their Diesel from a nearby gas station. Our chat lasts until after midnight, and at 1:30AM s/y EDA leaves St. Eufemia. Bon Voyage.
The project of bringing two Turkish boats (with American Flags) (!) together at Cephalonia has come true.
August 20th. We finally leave behind St. Eufemina, where we have spent five delightful days. We are heading North to Fiscardo (38 27,5N, 20 35.0E), the most popular town of Cephalonia, which has not been damaged by the 1952 earthquake. We cover the 11NM in two hours and enter the crowded port.
There is a heavy traffic of sailing boats, motor yachts, chartered boats and ferries. Having arrived early, we have succeeded to find a place to moor stern to. We hear more Italian than Grek, most of the boats have Italian flags and crews. Even the restaurants are named in Italian. The town is full of turists, but towards the evening, when the tourist ferries leave the port, the town becomes peaceful. Our city tour does not take a long time, and we end up having a quiet dinner aboard Vagabond.
August 21st. We leave Fiscardo at 9:20 and head North to Lefkada Island. Our plans are to moor at Nidri port, but when we arrive and face the fully occupied port, we end up dropping our anchor at the Tranquil Bay'(38 42.2N, 20 42.8 E). The enormous Nidri bay is fully occupied with charter companies, and the sea water is not tempting at all.
No sign of tranquility. It seems during the winter that s/y Blue Belle of Hulya and Derek Leigh stayed here the view was totally different, and the bay was more tranquil. We hardly find a place to anchor, and we take our dinghy to town. The town is quite crowded, full of restaurans and tavernas at the seafront, and the paralel street is lined with shops. We feel we must take precautions against theft and buy a steel cord for our dinghy at a chandlery. We try in vain to reload our lpg gas tube, anyway, we have got spares. We get back to our boat and have a tranquil evening away from the buzz of the town under the moon.
August 22nd. We are determined today to have a swim break in the Meganissi Island nearby. We leave Tranquil bay at 11:50 On the way we examined the South coast of the Scorpio Island that belonged to late Onassis. The northern shore of Meganissi is full of deep bays, and in a way resembles Göcek of the Turkish coast. We drop our anchor at the Kapali Bay (38 40.6N, 20 47.0E) and took our line ashore to an olive tree. We swim in the crystal clear sea, like an aquarium. We have a lazy day and night. In the meantime Kemal Ayata calls from Ayvalik, and we manage a weak SSB communication. We have a quiet night. The German radio announces the forecast of light winds for tomorrow.
August 23rd. We leave our beloved bay at 10:00. We have 10 NM to the Lefkada Port (38 50.0N, 20 42.7E). Lefkada Island is actually a peninsula, separated from the main land by a 2,5NM channel. Having arrived from the South, we just passed the channel to reach Lefkada town, situated on a cape. The eastern side of the city is the port, next to it is the marina. We did not enter the marina, and moored stern to. The depths close to the shore are not sufficient, and we sometimes feel our keel touch the soft muddy bottom. Some boats anchore out and use their dinghy to come ashore. There is electricity and water, but locked. Marina is brand new and very crowded. We have noticed a Turkish flag in one of the poles in the town. During our city tour we found out that there is a folklor festival, and Turkey was among the participant countries. Lefkada's pedestrian shopping street was quite lively. Nilgün finds out that the Turkish folk show is tomorrow, we will not be able to watch it. We have dinner in a kokorech tavern. The greek kokorech, unlike the Turkish one, has liver in it. It is good minus the liver, plus Ouzo.
August 24th. In the morning we refuel and rush to catch the opening Lefkada bridge at 9:00. We get into line along with other vessels to go through the bridge. Our next stop is Port Gaios in Paxoi Island(39 12.0N, 20 11.5E). The sea is calm, but the traffic of yachts is heavy. Antipaxos in the South of Paxos is full of yachts. Gaios Port is very interesting. The bay is protected against all weather by an island covered with trees. More than 100 boats moored along the coast on the western shore. On the northern end of the bay there is the ferry port and a sea plane port. There is no electricity for boats, but you can order fuel and water by mini tankers. Here too are the Italian turists dominant. Italian spoken everywhere. Italian taste shows itself in the shop windows as well. We have an excellent pizza and return to the boat to get ready for our sail to Corfu tomorrow.
August 25th. We start our engine at 9:40 AM and motor along the strait of port Gaios to the open sea. Corfu is 18 NM away. Throughout the month of August the weather and the sea has been calm except for a few days. We hope that the rest of the Mediterranean passages will be as easy. As we reach Corfu on the smooth sea, we note that the port is closed under construction. We head towards the Gouvia Marina (39 39.5N, 19 51.5E). We stop at the diesel station and fill up our tank, at at 4.00PM we tie stern to at the marina ponton. We wash the boat inside out, take hot showers, and do our laundry. We take a taxi to the town, which is something like a good desert after dinner. A large gren park and very elegant cafes, restaurants and shops facing the park. The narrow streets with shops are crowded with tourists, but the remote streets with clothes hanging accross the windows reflect the authentic side of the town.. We scan the town on foot, and finally had a typical Greek dinner, which will be our last one tonight. After dinner Nilgün bought some koum-kouat glacé which is a speciality for Corfu, but we have tasted the fresh fruit in Ümit and Buket's garden in Gümüşlük, Bodrum last summer. We return at night quite exhausted to our marina, happy to have seen this incredible town
August 26th. We do a mandatory tour of the port to clear from the port authorities, port police and customs, returned our transit log. Now we are officially out of Greece. We drop in a nearby supermarket for provisions, and at 14:25 we are off the marina. We will anchor somewhere North of the Island and start our passage of 180 NM southwest to Italy tomorrow. In this way we will arrive in Italy at a reasonable tine on the 28th of August. As we reach the North of the island the waves grow higher and we seek refuge in the calm waters of Cassiopi Bay (39 47.5N, 19 55.5E) We anchor in this cute village next to an enormous Italian boat. We take our usual promenade first around the port, then into the town. The town is busy with English tourists. We retire early tonight. Tomorrow we have a long way to go.
We have completed our tour of Greece in 26 days. The tour started from Lesvos Island in the Aegean, and ended in Corfu Island in the Ionian Sea. This concludes the 494 NM Ayvalik Corfu stage of our voyage. The next stage is Corfu Gibraltar, which will cover Italy, maybe Tunisia, Spain and Gibraltar. The estimated time we allow for the next stage is approximately one month. We wish to arrive in Gibraltar before the wind gets too strong, and the seas get too rough.