I’m honoured to say that a piece of my work has been used on the sleeve of “Music for Aircooled Motoring” by Australian Testing Labs. I haven’t listened to it yet as I am currently without a record player, but this will be remedied as soon as I find a new flat and get myself set up. The original is in my DeviantArt gallery; here is the finished cover, with a bit of sexy orange vinyl for good measure.
I find myself in Hong Kong after a full day of movement. I have driven, waited, flown, circled in the twilit asian sky. Now I am on the ground on Lantau Island, it is night and I must find my way to the flat of my friends Aidan and Lily. The only catch is that they are six thousand miles away back in the UK. I have a series of post-its with instructions. Bus numbers, crudely drawn street maps. I eat at an airport MacDonalds, unsure of when I’ll have the opertunity again, and exit the concourse. It is warm but I am comfortable in grey Italian tweed and travel soiled anyway so what does a bit more sweat matter?
The A47X is my first target and after twenty minutes at the bus stop I’m on board. I have one tool at my disposal, invaluable as I’ll discover, Aidan’s Octopus card, loaded with twenty Hong Kong Dollars, so no fiddling with change. I offer the card, fingers crossed, a bleep from the familiar yellow pad, part of a globally recognisable techno-syntax which tends to horrify us in every day life and reasure us when we travel. A bit like MacDonalds.
The bus journey was a thrilling ride over enormous bridges and through brightly lit tunnels, I sat up top and at the front, of course. Forests of high rise gave way to mountains breifly and then into Tai Po, a market town which would be considered a moderately sized city in most parts of the world.
My next target is the 20B to Tung Tsz Shan. Stairs down from the anonymous bus terminal lead to an underpass and after some exploration I locate the local bus station and the stop I need. Little more than a minibus, seating sixteen, yet comfortable and equiped with a ubiquitous yellow pad. I sit, tense, screenshot from streetview on my phone’s screen waiting for the view from the bus to match. It eventually does and I disembark and find the flat using my extensive post-it instructions.
The flat is spacious but empty of all but a bed and a sofa, but there is tea. I drink a cup, phone my mum, sleep.
Spent the day wasting time in Goçek, buying Turkish Delight and making friends with the local cats. Late flight home and a foggy landing followed by an even foggier drive back to Dorset, which made it a very long day.
Turkey has been very good to us this year, we were very lucky with the weather considering how late in the season it was, and it was one of the best sailing trips I have been on. Can’t wait until next time.
Thanks Tchouky Doudy.
The next morning was windless, as is not uncommon, and Wall Bay’s steep wooded sides made it a suntrap and it was soon hot. I wanted to walk, though, as I had not really done so since Fethiye.
The last time I ahd passed this way I had noted that there was a footpath that skirtied the bay and so I set out on that. Signs on the gate indicated that this was part of a larger coastal path established by the municipality of Fethiye but my very limited Turkish took me no further and I have been unable to discover more, though I have since found that there are two major long distance walking routes in this region: The Lycian Way and the Carian Way, which are worth lookin up.
I was delighted to see that, noticing me hitting the trail, the dogs which belonged to the restaurant (Mum and two boistrous pups) dicided to come with me and I was grateful for their company. The path led around the bay toward the dicrepit wall that gave the bay its name. The water was unibaginably blue and clear, and the ground was pine-needle-covered trail with occasional volcanic boulders. The ground rose steeply away from the path into thick pine wood. This almost reminded me of home in Dorset. The wall its self was more grand up close, rising to 15 feet or so, but had collapsed where it must have once met the water, so it was easy to skirt round the end. From there I went just a little further to a bluff headland where a Turkish flag hung limply from a pole. The view down into crystal clear waters either side was breath-taking. From here I retraced my steps and returned the boat, just after turning back I was rejoined by the dogs, who had left me for the wooded slopes earlier, and the four of us headed back.
Today was our last day out on the boat, but we didn’t have that far to go so we stopped for tea at Sarsala, a beach which is accessable from the road and is popular with locals. Following this we had a nice broad reach back to Goçek, and after finding the fuel barge (with some difficulty) we found our berth.
The restaurant at Coldwater Creek, up a flight of stone steps from the beach and commanding magnificent views, had been a highlight for me when I had been before. But late in the season as we were, it was dark by the time we were there, the temperature had dropped off considerably and the place was fairly quiet. Still, the food was very good and the welcome warm.
The following morning we had a nice beat to the headland and a fantastic reach a cross the gulf and headed to the north of Tersane Island. Here the wind was rushing of the steep mountainous sides of the island and gusting up to 26 kts, so we dropped sails and proceeded to pick our way between the islands under motor.
As we approached wall bay the wind was still brisk, but the berthing there is side-on to a long pontoon so apart from a light bump it was quite straight forward.
The restaurant at Wall Bay was probably the best of this trip. All of these places are pretty open to the elements but this one had a roaring open fire to counter the chill of the autumn evening, which it did magnificently. The main course (fish in my case) was adequate but the meze was the best yet and clinched it! Friendly dogs and humans alike added to the atmosphere.
Leaving Fethiye harbour we have a lovely beat down the eastern shore of the gulf in 15-20 kts of wind which comes at us pretty consistently but heads us a little nearer the coast. Coldwater Creek is quite close to Karacaoren, a little further in fact, but we made the 20 mile return journey with a good deal more ease than the outward one the day before. We are convinced there is some slight current around the headland!
We were welcomed into Coldwater Creek by a gentleman in a floppy hat in a small boat, he instructed us where to drop the hook and took our shore line which he then got us to put around the winch to pull tight. The creek it’s self is a lovely spot indeed, probably the quietest and most serene so far, which is saying a lot. Not as barren and scrubby as Karacaoren its steep sides are wooded and lush, and as the name suggests the water is cold, being fed by a subsurface freshwater spring. Being easterly facing and steep sided it lost the sun early and the temperature dropped quickly but from this dark corner the reflected glow of sunset on the mountains to the immediate east seemed all the more intense and magical.
The next morning we walked into Fethiye. Fethiye is a pleasant town with a bustling but compact centre, at its heart is the warren-like bazaar. At the top of my shopping list was the tackiest fridge magnet I could find, for which there was stiff competition, and I eventually found one in the shape of an anchor, made from that inexplicable material that kg fridge magnets are .add from, and featured an image of the paragliding circling above Ölüdeniz, which we had watched the previous day, so that was nice, it cost me the princely sum of 2 Lira.
We stopped for drinks on the waterfront before heading back to the boat. I should say something here about Turkish tea and coffee: Both are unfeasibly strong and are served in small vessels we would think of as espresso cups, though the tea is more commonly served in glasses. The coffee contains a good deal of grounds which form a sludge in the bottom of the cup and is best left there. But tea drinkers should be particularly aware that the leaves are left in the tea rather than strained out, and so, unless you are blessed with a moustache that doubles as a tea strainer, some care must be taken. Drinks are sometimes “bottomless”, but since it they are of such industrial strength this is probably unwise.
We returned to the boat via a small general store to stock up on essential supplies such as beer and biscuits and made ready to leave.
Departing Karacaoren we decided to sail past Ölüdeniz, a beach resort with its own idyllic looking lagoon. My Dad had stayed there in the ’70s and wanted to see if it had changed, he said it had not; I can only say that from the sea it looked pleasant enough. it seems to be a hot spot for paragliding and we watched many of them circling against the backdrop of the colossal mount Babadag and landing on the beach.
Turning back the way we had come, it was our intention to beat against the south-westerly, back in to the main body of the Gulf and up to Fethiye. However we encountered a strange lack of progress. The wind was on the light side and perhaps it wasn’t quite enough for a boat of the stout proportions of Tchouky Doudy, but we eventually became convinced that there was some current flowing around the headland, quite a novelty in these parts!
Once the headland was made things improved and we had a reasonable broad reach to the entrance of Fethiye harbour, even so it was getting late when we arrived. With some deft manoeuvering from our skipper, Al, we moored at the Yacht Classic marina hotel.
To say that this was a contrast from previous evenings would be a great understatement. Yacht Classic is suave and elegant, clean and cool. It is our mid-trip treat and the hot shower feels well earned. in the evening we sit at the tiki-bar and dine in the hotel’s restaurant. the food was very good although the portions were a little gourmet for our robust appetites.
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.
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.