Keppi Creek to Karacaoren


Our second full day of cruising took us accross the Gulf of Fethiye and to it’s eastern shores. Emerging from Keppi Creek we motored through the narrow channel between the mainland and Domuz Island. After drifting for half an hour or so in the glassy waters beyond, the breeze piped up right on cue and we had a splendid reach across the gulf, probably the best of the week.

Within a couple of houses the eastern shores were drawing near. This area is far more barren than the western side, rockier, more rugged and somehow seems much more exposed to the open ocean. You feel as if you could so easily plot course for the coast of Egypt, then through the Suez canal and on to unimaginable exotica.

We did none of these things however, and we turned north and headed for the anchorage of Karacaoren. Karacaoren is protected from the open sea only by a thin and low lying isthmus to the south. It can feel a bit exposed but the weather was calm in the late afternoon. At the tip of the isthmus is an island on which are the ruins of a Greek settlement, possibly a monastery, it looked very enticing indeed and I set off in the tender with my camera to explore. The only possible landing place was a set of steps which must have once led from a wooden dock up in to the complex. However on closer approach the first step had become a precarious stepping stone and the characteristic jagged volcanic rocks which surrounded it made landing impossible.

The restaurant at Karacaoren, which shares its name, is one of the most characterful in the area. Perched on a steep sloping shore and overhanging the water; it’s rustic and rickety and puts you in mind of Tortola in the days of piracy in a way few places in the Caribbean do today. There is a well stocked bar, a small market selling fruit, bread and other local delights, and a fabulous restaurant with a dramatic wood fired oven. Being slightly elevated, the view from the terrace over the small bay is sublime and the whole place is teeming with animals. Cats, seemingly dozens of them, patrol the dining area for scraps, vermin and scratches under the chin. Goats and chickens roam the hillsides. Birds and butterflies teem in the trees. The overall impression is of a paradise, a land of milk and honey indeed.

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Goçek to Keppi Creek

The first full day was a shakedown cruise to Keppi Creek, fourteen or so miles out of Goçek and tucked away in the south-western corner of the Gulf.

The wind in Turkey, or this part of Turkey at least, is pretty predictable. There is no wind over night, which makes for peaceful if sticky nights, or in the morning. The wind comes up, usually from the south, that is off the Mediterranean, in the early afternoon, builds and lasts until the early evening. Basically its strength correlates to the warming of the land as the day proceeds. This day was no different; SSW building to 23 kts in the afternoon, although this was probably due to wind-rush between the densely packed and hilly islands in the western part of the gulf.

Tchouky Doudy rose to the occasion magnificently. Being on the large and comfortable side she starts to really move above 10 kts of breeze but is then responsive and light on the helm. She has a relatively small jib which actually makes sail trimming pretty easy for a boat of her size. We fetched out to the east of Goçek Island (immediately south of the town) and beat between the other islands toward our destination, it was splendid.

By the time we arrived at Keppi Creek the breeze was somewhat brisk and the sea choppy, but motoring into the creek its self and the conditions changed utterly. Chop gave way to glass flat waters, clear to a rocky bottom. The creek is small, narrowing to about 50m at the entrance and is surrounded by rolling hills covered in pine and olive trees. For obvious reasons these places are noticeably warmer than the open water and so, all in all, arriving feels like a warm hug.

I should explain the mooring arrangements in this part of the world: Moorings, be they buoys, pontoons or whatever are generally owned by waterside restaurants. You don’t pay to use them so long as you dine there. And seeing as, in most of the places we visited, the restaurant is all that’s there, this isn’t a problem at all. This system works very well indeed; there is always someone on hand to help you moor and they are happy to see you arrive.

Keppi Creek is pretty typical in all these regards and we were beckoned toward a rickety pontoon by a boy of about 15. Backing up to the pontoon we are required to take a bow line from him which is attached to concrete blocks, or something like that, toward the middle of the creek. We then make off port and starboard aft lines to the pontoon and the bow line is pulled tight and made off on the bow cleat. To those of us more used to marinas and fenders and multiple springs this might all sound oddly ramshackle but, due to the calm conditions and almost complete lack of tide here, it is remarkably effective and we are snugly berthed. The lad shakes all of our hands and introduces himself as “Dennis”. I feel the need to wag my finger in the manner of the snooker player Dennis Taylor, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get the reference.

We congratulate ourselves with a well earned “Efes”, a local cough syrup that passes for beer, and some wasps join the party – they live in the pines in vast numbers and were ever present on this trip. The food at the restaurant is good, I had sea bass, and the owners seemed to have some sort of family gathering going on which allowed us to linger unmolested until quite late.

The below sketch shows the typical mooring arrangement out here. The bowline is sometimes just the yacht’s own anchor and the pontoon is sometimes just a rock but the format is pretty universal. The alarming proximity of the rudder to the seabed is not an exaggeration.

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Off to Turkey

So I’m off to Turkey again with my Dad, skipper Al and game passenger Terry. I love Turkey, it’s a very beautiful country and the people are friendly and welcoming. Yet I return with a little trepidation since it is only a few months since the July 2016 attempted coup. The Republic of Turkey as we know it today was founded in the aftermath of the First World War as a secular state, this is the Turkey I know; there are mosques, as we have churches, but nobody seems to take any notice when the call to prayer pipes up. During the coup, in basic terms – which is as much as I understand – factions in the military tried to seize control due to what it saw as an erosion of the secularism of the Turkish state. For a while this trip hung in the balance and I closely monitored the Foreign Office’s advice which, as it happened, never changed from its constant “go but be careful” which seems to serve for a lot of the near east.

We arrived at Dalaman airport late and took a taxi to Gocek where our charter yacht lay, she is a very fine Jeanneau 41 named “Tchouky Doudy” and no, I’ve no idea what that means.

The below map, on which I have misspelled Fethiye and omitted several large islands – needless to say this should not be used for navigation – shows the area of our little adventure and marked are all the locations which I will mention.

Gulf of Fethiye

 

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Large Yellow Loosestrife; A Quick Sketch

A quick sketch to start the ball rolling. This plant grows pretty vigorously in my garden. It flowers throughout the summer and dies back in the winter leaving lots of hollow canes which make excellent kindling.

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